Jaclyn shook her head. Knowing how Grandpa was treated at the beginning of the war, I’m the last person who should be saying, “Don’t worry about it, the government will do the right thing in the end,” but do you know that they won’t?
I considered it. I don’t. Honestly, I really think they will eventually, but I don’t know how long that’ll be, and well, you know about Lee and everything. If that’s Abominator tech, it’s likely to be booby trapped.
I sensed confusion from Izzy.
Oops. I hadn’t meant to pass that on. I felt a pulse of worry from Jaclyn.
A friend of my grandfather who knows a bit about Abominator tech. Anyway, it’s not just the way they’re using it for politics, I’m worried they might not be taking appropriate precautions.
Daniel’s mental presence, quietly but solidly there, slipped into the conversation. I haven’t sensed anything wrong with anyone who went through the government version of the power impregnator.
A flash of interest from Jaclyn, You can sense the difference?
No, Daniel said, but I know which of the kids here went through it. They’re happy, not deranged.
Got it, Jaclyn thought. I’m not against running people through our power impregnator if we’ve got a reason, but I don’t want to get in trouble. I know they want us in the program, but this is big enough that they could throw us out. Do any of you have a backup plan for paying for school if this falls through? I had to refuse the scholarships I got when the government stepped in to pay for everything.
Izzy started in with a blast of emotion intense enough that I couldn’t name it.
You can’t let this go because of college. This isn’t right. There’s enough of an imbalance between supers and everyone else without keeping powers within the same group of people and their kids. We should be telling people what’s going on. This should be in the news.
Uh… No. I paused to organize my thoughts. I’m a little worried about everyone knowing. Someone I know did research and leaving power juice in your system when you go through the power impregnator will likely mess you up for good. I don’t want a bunch of Red Lightnings out there.
Another blast of intense emotion from Izzy. What’s going to make it safe is if people all over are testing and examining it, and the government has to address it openly.
I don’t know, Daniel thought. I think if it got out, the government would make it illegal immediately with the need for more testing as an excuse—just like they are with power juice.
I sensed Izzy stifle her first response, but then she thought, That might be true, but I still think we need to help people outside of here get powers. And we shouldn’t stop there. We should go to our handlers, tell them we know what they’re doing, and that it’s not right.
I caught a feeling of impatience from Jaclyn, and then she thought, If we were going to talk to them, wouldn’t it be better to just talk to them and not run anybody through? If anybody finds out we’re giving people powers, they’ll do what they can to shut us down. If we’re only arguing with them, they might listen. If we’re arguing, and deliberately working against them, they’ll never listen, and we’ll get in trouble.
This wasn’t quite what I had in mind with the discussion.
I wasn’t ever thinking about making a political statement. I just wanted to help Courtney. I don’t even know anyone else I’d consider, so this might just be a one time thing.”
Why Courtney? Jaclyn asked.
I thought about it. Well… She wants to do something, and I think she’ll keep on using power juice one way or the other. Plus, I know she wants permanent powers. If she gets them from us, it’s better than someone else. She might help us.
And she might go nuts. Jaclyn said.
Right. Now we were getting into territory I’d already thought through. Believe me, I’m going to look into that before I do anything. I don’t want to create another Red Lightning.
* * *
We spent Saturday morning learning first aid from Guardian, who as I remembered was a doctor in normal life.
He stood there in his silver uniform, muscles outlined under the fabric, talking about first aid. Seeing him up there with gauze, bandages, gloves, and tape laid out in front of him on the desk struck me as weird.
Alex sat at the desk next to me, playing with his pencil, smiling a bit as Guardian said, “All of you need to learn first aid. The skills could save your life and the lives of your friends…”
He didn’t pretend to be interested either. You’d think he might when you considered he was dating Brooke, Guardian’s daughter.
Four hours of lecture, demonstration, and practicing later, we moved on to the next class—basic combat training.
We met in the gym, and I recognized the instructor. He had a blond, buzz cut, wore camouflage, and stood around six and half feet tall. Weapons from various eras lay on the concrete floor in front of him, ranging from knives to swords to pole arms to automatic rifles.
He introduced himself as Gunther, but I didn’t need to hear the name.
It was one of Lee’s forms.