Rattling Cages: Part 8

Sorry about the lateness of this one… I’ve been pretty bad on the consistency front lately. For better or for worse though, I found that my posts have also been growing longer. I may have to think about how I’m doing this and try for more consistency there. The current installment verges on a size more typical of Tales of MU.

We talked for a couple more hours. I explained the whole thing with the Executioner and we talked about what I’d been doing with the League during the fall. There wasn’t much of a reason to hold back.

“We’re being watched?” Rachel turned toward the window above my desk glanced toward the window over my bed.

The night looked normal. Both cars parked in the street belonged to neighbors and I couldn’t see anyone sitting inside them.

“Kind of. I’ve never seen them watching, but Isaac told me we were. Maybe they’ve bugged the house or maybe they’ve put up small cameras all around the block.”

She stood up and looked out the window a little more. “Hmn. Big Brother is your friend.”

After she left, I sat on the bed. I read a little, but found myself drifting off into thought. It had been a long time since we’d talked. She’d been in Ann Arbor all summer except for Grandpa’s funeral and she hadn’t come home for Thanksgiving.

Strange that she had had powers the whole time and I hadn’t known. It made me wonder what other secrets were hanging around in my family tree.

And the block… I’d always found it funny the way she outwardly acted perfect (straight A student, student council member) but secretly climbed out the windows to meet friends at parties. Would she have done that without the block? I couldn’t see a direct connection, but her version of the block had been more extreme than mine.

I supposed we were both under some degree of pressure to behave well. Dad’s books on handling troubled teens probably wouldn’t sell as well if we were troubled.

In the end, I stayed up till one in the morning reading. It wasn’t as if I had anything going the next day.

* * *

The week went quickly. I spent a lot of it with Daniel and Haley, mostly at different times. On Wednesday, two days before Christmas we got everyone in the League plus Rachel together for a DVD night. No one wanted to watch “Iron Man” so we ended up with “A Christmas Story” (don’t ask me why) and somehow “Bubba-Hotep.”

It felt good in a way. It was nice to know that we could all just be here together and relate to each other as friends instead of as people who happened to be in danger at the same time.

Jaclyn and I went to the kitchen to grab some pop at the same time. “A Christmas Story” was over. People were waiting to start “Bubba-Hotep” until after everyone had used the bathroom. Daniel and Cassie were taking his car to the Walgreen’s a few blocks away for more potato chips and other snacks.

It felt a little awkward.

Before we’d started up the League again, I saw Jaclyn more than any of us but Daniel. Not that it was all that often. It was mostly at school competitions or at the library, but I did at least see her.

The most recent time I’d seen her had been the night we fought the mayor — eons ago.

The League’s kitchen was just large enough for a refrigerator, a stove and some cupboards. Opening the refrigerator door blocked off that half of the room.

I checked inside. “We’ve got Coke, Orange Slice, and um… Dr. Pepper. You want me to grab one for you?”

“I’ll take the Coke. Better yet, let’s just carry them out so that no one has to come back here during the movie,” she said.

I pulled out the two liter of Coke and handed it to her, picking up the other two myself and closing the door.

As we walked out of the kitchen, she said, “I heard a couple people taking about someone called the Executioner. What’s going on?”

I explained.

Jaclyn stopped walking only a few steps out of the kitchen. We were still among all the boxes and trophies, almost completely on the other side of the room from the TV screen. Over there, someone kept switching channels.

“You didn’t think this was worth telling everyone about?”

“Well,” I said, “you mostly haven’t been all that interested.”

“I wasn’t interested in Cassie’s patrol thing where we were all going out every night and pretending we were the police. I’m very interested when you’re facing someone who kills the friends and relatives of any super that crosses him, especially when I fit into both categories.”

She frowned at me.

“It’s a moot point,” I said, “The FBI told us to stay out of this. When I talked to Isaac about it recently, he said the Executioner probably doesn’t even realize the League was involved and that it was in our best interest to keep it that way.”

“Are they watching my house too?”

“I don’t know. They said they’re watching my house, but I’ve never seen them doing it. I’ve been wondering if they’ve bugged the place so that they can watch it all the time.”

“And you’re okay with that?”

“Not really, but if it keeps my parents safe right now, I can live with it.”

“And you really didn’t think this was worth mentioning?”

“I’m sorry. We really should have told you, but I thought that someone had. At first the only people that knew were Cassie and Daniel and Haley but then someone told Travis and Marcus. I assumed that someone told you and I guess I shouldn’t have. Now I’m wondering if anyone told Vaughn.”

“Vaughn and Cassie were the people I overheard.”

“Oh. Uh, it really wasn’t intentional.”

“I know, but, if I’m going to be my grandfather’s replacement in all this, it’d be nice if one of us got some credit this time around.”

I could see her point.

Early on in World War II, the army didn’t allow blacks in combat so her grandfather ended up doing courier duty. It seemed a perfect fit when you considered he could run at the speed of sound. At the same time, it didn’t use him to his potential. C (or as they called him at the time Hotfoot) could run, but consider how strong a person would have to be to run at the speed of sound. Also, consider how tough a person would have to be to survive tripping at that speed. C wasn’t invulnerable, but he could shrug off automatic weapons and blast through most walls.

I’ve always tended to imagine him as Superman, but without the flight or X-ray vision.

When they finally did let blacks fight, he got to be a more visible part of the US’s super soldier team, but they still didn’t quite dare to use him fully. I think they were still afraid of how it would play domestically, but it could be that they were just afraid of him.

He got less credit than he deserved for his work with the Heroes League too.

We brought the pop back and watched TV while we waited for Daniel and Cassie to return.

Someone had changed the channel to SuperTV and were watching “Bounties,” the show about superpowered bounty hunters and the criminals with the highest bounties of the week. They’d just gone to commercial.

We were all sitting on exercise pads on the floor. Haley sat next to me on my left and Jaclyn, Marcus and Vaughn were on the pad to the right. Travis poured himself some Coke from where we’d placed it at the command console.

Vaughn said, “The bounty on the Executioner is at fifty thousand. Can you imagine if we catch him?”

Travis shrugged, “Split nine ways.”

“Yeah, well, my parents still haven’t freed up my bank accounts.”

Travis laughed. “You could pay back what’s his name, right?”

“Yeah,” Vaughn said. “Pretty much.”

Just before going back to the show, they ran through the news. “In Chicago today,” the announcer began, “Solar Flare stopped a bombing at the Windy City Talent agency…”

Jaclyn nudged me with her elbow. “I hope the FBI isn’t watching out for his family and friends.”

“Why?”

“Because if they are, they don’t seem to be very good at it.”

8 thoughts on “Rattling Cages: Part 8”

  1. i have a idea for you. instead of saying there will be a updates on tuesdays and fridays. just say theres going to be two updates on every saturday or sunday. that will give u all the time u will need. also next time lets start the beting early. i want see she how good you are at guess lol

  2. Nobody wanted to watch Iron Man?!?!?!?! What the hell kind of superheroes are these?!?!

    LOL! Thanks for the shout-out Jim. I’m sure it wasn’t just for me, but I appreciate it.

  3. Ah, racial discrimination in superhero work…and what makes it so cool is that I could totally that being the case (not cool as in I approve of not using a hero to his full potential because he looks different, cool as in realistic).

  4. Theodore: That’s a thought. My only fear is that with no early/mid-week deadline, I’d just produce one episode.

    Bill: Nick was all for Iron Man, but go figure. Anyway, I figure they’ve all probably seen it by now.

    As for C/Hotfoot… I get your meaning. I like fitting things into history and fitting a black superhero into WWII meant asking where he fit into the policies of the time.

  5. Some back of the envelope calculations on C’s running speed puts him in the thousand ton range strength wise.
    Though this is a superhero story running on comic book physics and tropes, so speedsters don’t get to rip everyone to pieces before the victim supers even realize he’s there. Their reaction and thinking speeds will also be on the human comprehensible scale and they won’t be immune to punches (regardless of the attackers strength)

  6. You could almost think that some part of the mental block is affecting how much he tell the others because he kinda forgets to inform people REALLY often.

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