What She Asked For: Part 2

“Really? How?” And also, I should have said, “What? What did you figure out?”

“I don’t think I should talk about it on the phone.” She sounded a little nervous.

“OK,” I said. That seemed a little paranoid, but honestly, given that Isaac said we were all being watched, it wouldn’t surprise me if the FBI were bugging our phones.

Not that she would know that, right?

“Can we meet now?”

I thought about it. “Sure. Where?”

“We could meet in the dorm’s lobby.”

“That could work, but I’m not in the dorm so it’ll be a few minutes.”

“Where are you?”

“The parking garage.”

She paused. “I didn’t know you had a car.”

“I don’t really. It’s an old delivery van. Cassie, Vaughn, and I bought it together and we’re sharing it.”

“Doesn’t Vaughn have a car?” She sounded amused.

“Yeah, but this was more for moving in, and hauling things to the dorm. Believe me, if you ever see it, you’re not going to be impressed.”

She laughed.

I looked behind me, checking the back of the van. We’d cleaned up. The van had gray metal cabinets that locked. I’d installed a few of my own security measures as well.

Aside from the curtain we used for privacy when changing into costume, it looked like a normal van.

We’d planned for this. The moment you admitted you had a car, you’d inevitably get asked for rides.

“Give me five minutes to get back to the dorm,” I said, and got out, setting the security by clicking a button I’d added to the dashboard during the summer, and shutting the door.

A few minutes later, I walked up the steps to the dorm. Courtney stepped out.

She wore an over-sized Grand Lake University sweatshirt and jeans. She didn’t need to. The lights above the dorm’s main doors showed me she still hadn’t reverted to her natural appearance.

She smiled at me. “I was thinking we could go over to Dykstra and sit on one of the benches.”

That worked. The Dykstra Administrative Building held GLU’s offices and the student union. The building would be closing at eleven anyway. Plus, if we sat on one of the benches outside, we’d be able to see anyone walking close enough to hear us.

After crossing the lawn and the service road between Dykstra and our dorm, we sat on one of the concrete benches on the plaza in front of the building. They’d held the student activities fair there during the first week of school.

It was a warm night. You never knew for sure what you’d get in September.

I turned toward her. “So…”

She looked both ways. No one came out of the revolving doors. “I’ve been keeping my ear out for people talking about power juice and PID’s—”

“PID’s?”

She gave a slightly embarrassed smile. “The devices that make powers permanent? They’ve been calling them PID’s on some boards I’m on. I mean, power impregnator device sounds stupid, but PID is okay.”

Just what the world needed—another name for the same machine.

“Anyway,” she said, “I went to this party over the weekend where people were talking about power juice, and I heard someone telling people he could make their powers permanent—legally.”

“Wow. Right there in front of everybody?”

She shook her head. “Not exactly. The party was… not something I’d have gone to normally. I told Melanie I wanted to try power juice again, and if she heard anything about it, she should let me know.”

I may have groaned then.

“Look, I know,” she said, “but she did hear about it, and she told me. I’m going to meet the guy this week, and find out how much it will cost, and then maybe go through with it on Saturday.”

Her voice trailed off near the end.

“That’s soon,” I said, and meanwhile my heart started beating faster. Could I test our machine before then? And was I willing to blow my secret identity to convince her not to use the other one?

“Well, it’s still the beginning of the semester, and the load can only get worse from here, so I thought if I am going to do this, I shouldn’t wait.”

“If it’s real,” I said. “It might be fake, or maybe they’re going to, I don’t know, kidnap you or something.”

She took a breath. “That’s where the favor comes in. I was hoping you might be willing to come with me in case something goes wrong. I remember last year you fought Sean, Dayton, and Jody all at once, and you’ve been taking karate lessons for years. I’d feel more secure if you did.”

I thought about it.

23 thoughts on “What She Asked For: Part 2”

  1. Not impossible.

    Actually, I’m kind of relieved to be at the point in this story where everything that needs to be set up has been set up, and I can start doing things like that…

  2. … Not sure she’s really and I mean really thought these things thru. She can alter her body. She just needs to alter her body so the chemicals to make the power juice when she eats them are automatically mixed inside her and Voila power juice problem completely solved.

  3. And once she’s done altering her body to produce the “juice” automatically maybe she could alter it to create other things like cars, iPods, and kittens! 😉

  4. Notto: Courtney–if she goes to meet with whoever claims to have a power impregnator.

    Daniel: Courtney’s still figuring out what she can do. That said, at present she’s only capable of disassembling/minimizing harm from chemicals that come into her body. Turning herself into a chemical factory is currently beyond what she realizes she’s capable of at least.

    Jon: Everyone needs more kittens, I guess.

  5. Am I the only one hoping something terrible would happen to Courtney since this quest to satisfy her vanity is ruining my opinion of Nick as a person?

  6. Yes, Nick was worrying about Courtney being kidnapped… I was more thinking about how often someone sets things up in order to try to kidnap Nick. If the PID owner knows who Nick is… Maybe he’s the price she has to pay for permanence.

  7. “And what was I willing to blow my secret identity”

    I think we have an extra “what”.

    @Mazzon: I might have to agree a little bit, but when I think more, it’s him trying to help out a friend. Which is something I know I would do, even if from the outside it looks completely bonkers. I’m a softy like that.

    Woo! Nick’s first college party! With chicks! And beer! And power juice… oh dear. This isn’t going to turn out well at all, is it?

  8. Courtney’s likely to do some very bad things if Nick doesn’t help her with her vanity superpower thing. Things like this, actually.

    She’s not nearly as bad as, say, Aralune, aka Becky Ryan, of the superhero team The Order, a part of The 50 State Initiative in Marvel after Civil War. That’s a big contextual introduction for one sentence, too. She’s like a Miss America/teen pop star type with a sex tape whose power is shapeshifting. This allows her to do things like turn into a massive jellyfish to absorb a bomb blast, and then grow giant forearms so she can, in her own words, “Ohmigawd, y’all, I’m totally punching a bear!” (some slight paraphrasing likely…but the flying jetpack bear was a cool enemy. A Russian Cold War super named Ursas Major).

    That was giving a vain attention-seeking Britney Spears/Lindsay Lohan wannabe type similar powers. Courtney’s not so bad in comparison, and it doesn’t sound like she’s banking solely on her looks in terms of college. Not yet, anyway.

  9. PG makes a good point. Also The Order was one of the good book after the Civil War in Marvel.

  10. Does power juice have any street names yet? Elixir, shazam, gamma, superman – they sound like the kinda name dealers with a little comicbook knowhow would use

  11. @Ironfalconlives
    I think “The Juice” is all you’re really gonna get. Drug nicknames are all about making it sound less offensive. Weed. Crack. Bath Salts. Juice. Seems a natural fit to me.

  12. I’m partial to Preparation S. On the whole, it feels like a less offensive, soothing name.

  13. ironfalconlives: dont think i have seen you comment before. welcome. and i want the juice to be called “power-aid.”

  14. ironfalconlives: Mostly the characters haven’t gone looking for it, so there’s no reason for street names to appear in the story as yet. That said, “juice” probably ends up being the most common one. Still, it would be funny to find people using “Shazam” as a street name.

  15. “Shazam” is a horrible street name for a drug. Why? Because you can’t just say it like that. Just imagine it, some shady-looking character addressing another in a street corner in the bad part of town: “Hey, dude, you got some shazam?”
    Doesn’t sound right, now does it? That’s right, it’s because it’s not something you can just say in a hushed voice, you have to shout it out loud and do a pose.

    So here you’ll have the dodgy characters of the previous example, and one of them goes “Psst, you want some SHA-ZAM!!!” and strikes a pose somewhere between Travolta and Superman. See how that’s immediately more natural? So that’s how you’d do it.

    And then the fuzz pick you up for soliciting controlled substances since you weren’t particularly inconspicuous doing it. See what I’m saying? A horrible name for a drug.

  16. Mazzon, that picture did make me laugh. But I suspect it could be codeword in a party invite… As in “This is really going to be the party to be at. It really has Shazam, if you know what I mean.”

  17. Who doesn’t wish they could yell “Shazam!” and get struck by a bolt of lightning that imbues superpowers? I mean, that’s such a natural thing, like cursing someone named Balthazar. Another good name would be “Radiation” since that’s such a common way to get them. Hulk, Spider-man, Radioactive Man, Godzilla, King Ghidorah, The Fantastic Four, Toro (sidekick to the original Human Torch), possibly Vandal Savage, some versions of Dr. Doom…

    That, or the X-Gene, in reference to what gave Marvels mutants their powers, like Cyclops, or Wolverine, or even the strongest mutant of them all, Squirrel Girl.

    Terrigen Mist, or just Mist, is also an idea, as the stuff that the Inhumans exposed themselves to in order to gain powers.

    Or even Beyonder, because it’s such a fun name.

    In conclusion, Curse you Balthazaaaaaaaaar! *shakes his fist at the sky*

  18. Street drug names tend to be simple words, short names, taken from common language.

    “Juice” certainly works, but I could see “Pow” or “Bam” as well, like the whole Adam West Batman thing.

  19. Oy, I disagree, I don’t think “PID” is a better name at all – particularly if you put ‘STU’ in front – but then, I’m a bit goofy. As far as the vanity thing being remarked on in the comments, I think Nick has a bit more of a long term view on this too – there was that previous part where he mentioned undercover work to Issac. Also, yay for getting through setup! Speaking as a writer, it’s enjoyable, yet I always feel like there’s more I could be doing… just not yet…
    Btw, “Give me a five minutes to get back” … a(round) five?

  20. I am incredibly late here, but this warrants my emergence from the archival shadows:

    Did nobody think to suggest Chemical X? Nothing’s less offensive than a Powerpuff Girls reference.

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