In the Public Eye: Part 3

Update up. It includes a lot of characters–some active, some in the background. I always find scenes like that challenging. It’s hard to give any characters the time they deserve.

Mayor Bouman’s office was less impressive than you might expect. It was big enough for all of us, which ought to help. Located in City Hall, a Victorian era building, it had intricately carved woodwork, old paintings and a view of downtown. The mayor’s desk appeared to be the size of a small boat—though it had a richer finish and probably included more gold than most boats (at least those boats not crewed by pirates).

Despite all of that, it was still just an office.

Maybe I’d been expecting too much.

Mayor Bouman shook our hands. The mayor was in his forties, brown haired and blandly handsome.

A photographer snapped another picture as the mayor struck up a conversation with Vaughn. If nothing else, they were a study in contrast. The mayor wore a blue suit. Vaughn wore black leather pants and a matching jacket, both pieces of clothing having more straps and loops than seemed functionally necessary.

“So, if it’s not secret, how did you get into this?” Mayor Bouman smiled at him.

“Oh,” Vaughn said, “I just woke up one day and found I had powers beyond the reach of mortal man, you know. Some shit like that.”

The mayor laughed and asked, “What sort of powers?”

Vaughn paused a little too long, but then said, “Weather powers mostly… Look out the window for a second.”

Mist gathered outside, forming gradually into a small cloud. Vaughn breathed out. “OK,” he said, “I’m letting it go now.”

It drifted away, floating away from downtown toward the suburbs, shrinking as it went.

Vaughn said, “Some things come easier to me than others.”

“What comes easily?”

“Wind,” Vaughn said, “a couple other things.”

“That’s impressive. I’ll call you in if it rains during Cityfest next summer.” Then he held out his hand to Haley, saying, “And what can you do?”

He went down the line. He asked us our powers, our names, acted impressed by any demonstrations we gave, handed each of us his card, and generally pressed the flesh.

When he was done, he said, “Feel free to sit down if you want. I’m afraid I’ve got to give you a little bit of a speech.”

I sat down, still holding his card. The suit wasn’t designed for social occasions and so there weren’t any pockets. Leaning back, I realized that the chair hadn’t been built to accommodate jetpacks. I stood up.

“Sorry,” I said, “I don’t fit in the chair.”

“Don’t worry about it,” the mayor said. “I’ll try to make it short.”

I spent more time pretending to listen than actually listening. Helmets are good for that. Keep your head pointed in the right direction and no one has any idea how bored you actually are. Mind you, it’s not that he was actually boring, but all he’d really called us in to do was let us know how much (or little) the city supported us.

Here’s the gist of it: The city was honored to see the Heroes’ League active again, but they’d prefer that we concentrate our efforts on things the police can’t handle (like supervillains) and leave normal crimes alone. The city wasn’t going to specifically give us missions because that might leave them open to charges of child endangerment, but we were welcome to warn the police if we were working on something. Finally, while it was true that technically vigilante justice wasn’t legal, he wanted to let us know that we had his support.

“Keep the streets safe,” he said as we walked out of his office.

I slowed to walk next to Vaughn. “Hey,” I said, “I didn’t know about the weather stuff.”

“I just figured it out recently,” Vaughn said. “And it’s great. If I can do some other things, maybe people won’t pay so much attention to the lightning, you know?”

“That’d be cool,” I said.

People inside the offices were standing up to stare through the windows at us as we passed through the hall. I was grateful when we made it to the stairs.

I was not grateful, however, to experience the heady rush of eight way mental contact, and I wasn’t alone. I could feel Cassie grabbing a railing while Travis tried to avoid falling into her. Marcus grew an extra leg to balance himself.

+++
Daniel: Sorry, I couldn’t—
Cassie: … while we’re walking down a stairway? Daniel, what the fu—
Haley: Does anyone else feel like they’re floating?
+++

Jaclyn’s thoughts were too fast to make any sense of at all, but I could feel the irritation.

+++
Daniel: He’s corrupt. I couldn’t read everything but he was trying to get something out of us. Maybe out of Vaughn.
Travis: What?
Vaughn: Yeah, what?
Daniel: I don’t know. He’s hard to probe.
Travis: Let’s table this for now.
Daniel: No. I should go back up there and try and—
+++

I found myself in the middle of a mind as Daniel must experience minds, whirling eddies of thought, fluid rivers of emotion, and unmoving structures that I couldn’t identify. He intended to thread his way in and do something, but I never got time to figure out exactly what.

+++
Travis: Dammit Daniel. You can’t just go up there and rummage through the Mayor’s head on a suspicion.
+++

Daniel cut the connection. We walked out silently.

5 thoughts on “In the Public Eye: Part 3”

  1. Hmmm. I do believe the plot is thickening.

    Just a little note:

    Finally, while it was true that technically vigilante justice wasn’t legal, but he wanted to let us know that we had his support.

    I think you could probably nix the “but” — the sentence reads smooth until “legal” but the “but” seems to trip it up. Might be just me.

  2. It’s not just you. I think I had that sentence going a couple different ways initially and didn’t look it over hard enough when I finally settled on a direction.

    Thanks.

  3. Love the story!

    Minor problem:

    “Vaughn wore a black leather pants and a matching jacket,…”

    You don’t need the “a” before “black leather pants” because pants is usually treated as if plural. You could say “some black leather pants” or you could just say “wore black leather pants.”

    ~Cindy

  4. Hrm. I’m apparently full of errors this time. Oddly enough that one was also on a sentence that I’d changed a couple times.

    Apparently, I need to look things over better after I do that.

    Thanks for noticing.

  5. What a massive head-trip at the end. To think one minute you’re just trading silly PR with a politician.

    Only to find out, you’re in the lair of the beast.

    I can’t wait to read more.

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