Threat Analysis: Part 10 (The Real One)

Between the blue t-shirt that appeared to be a pajama top and the wrinkles in his khakis, Dr. Nation was the closest to disheveled I’d ever seen him. He’d obviously come straight from bed, and thrown on anything in reach.

It could have been worse, I told myself. He might have come in a bathrobe.

Dr. Nation leaned over Stephanie, and picked up the glowing metal weapon, aiming its face away from him and us. After a moment, he turned it off.

Then he checked Gordon’s face. It was red where he’d hit the rock wall. He touched his hand on Gordon’s arm, checking Gordon’s pulse, nodding and giving a small smile as he found it. Then he looked at Haley. “How long does your poison generally last?”

She pursed her lips. “That’s hard to say. It depends on how big they are, and how much I put into them. With the normal amount, people are out for at least ten minutes.”

Nodding slowly, he asked, “And did you give them the normal amount?”

Haley grimaced, and said, “I… think? It was a bit of a blur.”

Dr. Nation stood up, one side of his mouth raising in a hint of a smile. “Then I’ll assume that we’ve got ten minutes. Why don’t the two of you tell me what happened?”

He sat down with us next to one of the tables, pulling out a chair, and leaning back.

We told him everything, and didn’t hide the fact that we’d been spying on them with the roachbots—though I did take a moment to fly the roachbots back to my lab while they were still sleeping. No need to risk Gordon and Stephanie noticing.

Dr. Nation grinned as he saw the bots land on the table. “I’m sure your grandfather would wish he’d thought of that.”

He shook his head. “But back to the matter at hand… We’ve got files on everyone, and I suspect I know who they sent the emails to. Her older sister is part of a group that calls itself ‘The Coffeeshop Illuminati’.”

I raised an eyebrow. “I’ve never heard of that group.”

Haley glanced over at Stephanie and Gordon. “They’re still out. I think they’ll be down for closer to half an hour—which is good. I’ve never heard of them either.”

Dr. Nation picked up a roachbot, staring at it as if he were thinking of taking it apart. Putting it down, he said, “There’s no reason you should have. They aren’t a team in the conventional sense. They’re spread out, some active superheroes, some civilians, but they’re young, powered, and they want to change the world.”

He sat back in his chair, not saying anything for a little while. I glanced at my phone. It was after one in the morning.

He crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m surprised they haven’t attempted to recruit the League. You’d add immediate credibility to their group. They don’t have much of a public face.”

Haley glanced over at Gordon and Stephanie. “What are they about?”

Dr. Nation smiled. “Nothing especially new. Human rights. Democracy. Rational thinking. I’m sure I would have loved them if I’d found them in my teens or twenties. I can’t say too much against them even now—at least not in terms of ideals. The question isn’t what you believe, but what you do after that.”

He stopped leaning back and sat up. “Haven’t you ever listened to the news, and heard about an innocent person in some foreign prison? An aid worker, a political dissident, or maybe some poor hiker? And haven’t you thought for a second about getting them out? Why don’t you?”

I shrugged. “Mostly I tend to assume that breaking into a prison is easier said than done. Plus, if the government’s really terrible, they’ll take it out on anyone connected with the person I break out. A government diplomat or even Amnesty International’s got a better chance of getting them out without the collateral damage.”

“Exactly,” he said. “And right there, you’re showing more sense than they are. In the same situation, they break into the prison and get them out. Now I’m not fully giving them the credit they deserve. They do their best to shield the friends and family from repercussions, sometimes getting all of them out of the country at once. Still, there’s no denying the Coffeeshop Illuminati don’t wait for diplomats.”

He stood up. “Well, I should carry them back to Stephanie’s lab. I’ll have a better conversation with the two of them there than I will here. Why don’t you two go to your rooms?”

* * *

It felt a little awkward the next day when I passed Stephanie’s lab, but we managed to both pretend not to see each other. I especially didn’t look toward the covered “pictures” on stands—which I definitely should have asked Dr. Nation about. I suspected I’d seen what the small version could do.

With school off for the rest of the week, I spent half the day in the lab and the rest hanging around with friends.

On Saturday morning though, I walked down to the lab to find an email from Hal. Based on data it was collecting, the AI gave a 90% chance that someone would be attacking the Turkmenistan regime within the next twenty-four hours.

13 thoughts on “Threat Analysis: Part 10 (The Real One)”

  1. Caught a typo for you;

    “…and they want to change the the world.” – should have one less ‘the’ 🙂

    Still reading, even if been quiet in the comments. 🙂 Awesome as ever!

  2. Less stupid, more inexperienced. The only way to truly understand the consequences of an action is to do it, and survive the worst case scenario. The more you’ve done, the more you can guess how things are going to go down.

    Most 20 somethings have done jack, or the few things they’ve done have turned out well through a combination of luck and support by those more experienced. I wonder how many of these ‘Coffee Shop Illuminati’ are going to die in this attempt at a coup. The cynic in me says ‘the more, the better’.

  3. I have always felt that the primary purpose of intelligence is the ability to prognosticate in order to avoid danger. Like Luke L. said, you use past experiences to determine the most likely results of actions. Nick and company are unusual in that they have been trained their whole lives to anticipate consequences so typical teenagers just look stupid to us in comparison.

  4. @Luke- sadly, I don’t think many, or any, are going to have anything happen to them. What’s probably going to happen is rather worse- they’re going to ‘succeed’ in removing the gov’t, but not do anything to repair the underlying structure, and the whole country is going to fall into anarchy and even worse dictatorship; that, or it’ll begin an Islamic Spring. Which ever way, it’s going to be ugly.

  5. Like Roger said, I don’t know what these covered pictures on stands are supposed to be — where they mentioned earlier? Why are her picture out where about anyone can (apparently) brush up against one and possibly knock the cover off?

    1. Bart, if you go back a couple pages to the description of Stephanie’s lab, you’ll find that there’s a mention of covered objects on stands. You’ll also find some speculation in the comments about whether they’re portals to Faerie or something else.

      As for what they are, well, I haven’t at any point said, but I’ve given enough information to guess. Stephanie has a bunch of large, flat objects on stands that she’s covered so people can’t see them.

      During the fight, she had a small flat object that caused Nick to zone out and lose track of time when he viewed it.

      I’m still not saying exactly what they are, but it’s likely that there’s a connection.

  6. Yeah, the drop cloths/dropped clothes from when Nick first sent out his bots. What I find interesting is that (unless Amy’s spell wore off), Nick had temporary magic resistance, meaning whatever Stephanie did was technological in nature. Which makes sense, what with it being a tech lab, but implies a basis in hypnosis or otherwise overpowering of the senses. Hmm.

    With that… I’m caught up, theoretically speaking. My comments file is empty. I stopped reading here (temporarily) once I realized this was the end of an arc, so that I could backtrack. Practically, of course, this means I now have five months worth ahead of me.

  7. Thanks, I’m glad! Yeah, I have one of those weird memories that allows me to recapture (more or less) the mindset of where I was, as long as I have a trigger. So I can take or out of my text file and spin it into a more full fledged comment. (“Oh yeah! I’d had to step away from the computer to recover from that shock.”) Makes me a really good secretary, pretty good at picking up on my own writing after a break, and was probably useful in writing the April Fool update.

    Then I walk into the next room and wonder “why did I come in here?”. So it’s apparently not always a functional memory that I have. Anyway, felt it was worth doing here, despite being one voice among many… my “behind the scenes” writing post I put in the prior comments got over 1,500 views, easily blowing anything else I’ve done out of the water. People are definitely invested in this universe!

  8. Aaand apparently putting angled brackets around the text file quotes in that last comment was really silly, as something saw them as HTML and ate them. Oh well. If anyone’s curious the sample triggers in my “So I can take or out of my text file” phrase above were:
    -Ray’s powers. First huge WTF moment
    -PT 10 – “Anime Girl” Pffffft. (Pretty Cure?)

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