Bullies and Counselors: Part 3

“Worked for your grandfather in the ‘worked for one of his companies’ sense or in the ‘foot soldiers in his Legions of Evil’ sense?” I asked.

“A little of both,” Vaughn said. “Actually a lot of both. All their grandparents were pretty high up in both places. Grandpa hired in a bunch of his people into positions where they could have a legal paycheck. Fact is, he did more than that, whenever he found someone that his potions could affect, he moved them here. I think it was one of those ‘breed a super race’ ideas. Obviously, it didn’t pan out.”

Cassie said, “The kids didn’t have powers?”

“Oh, I’m sure they had them, but he didn’t have enough time. He started the breeding program in the ’50’s and he got taken down in the ’60’s so the oldest kids were maybe twelve — not old enough to help.”

“That’s really crazy,” I said. “So how many of them do you think there were?”

“Oh, hundreds at least. He tried to get people with powers together, but he also had this program where he encouraged his people to, as he put it, ‘spread their seed’ in the general community.”

“Hundreds?” I’d never met any other kids with powers — at least that I knew of.

“Hundreds in his day. I’d bet it’s thousands by now, but it’s not like they can do anything. None of their grandparents had active powers without potions. I’d bet they don’t either.”

“We need to stop them,” Cassie said.

“Yeah,” Vaughn said, “Stop them from doing what? Stop them from getting a hold of chemicals they probably don’t even know they need? Sean’s a jerk, but he’s got no connections.”

“It totally explains things though,” I said. “I’d wondered why the Cabal would go to the bother of setting up the Mayor in the first place. Grand Lake would be a perfect recruiting ground for them if you think about it.”

“Hadn’t thought about that,” he said, “but we toasted him. The Mayor’s gone.”

Cassie frowned, “Wait, how do you know all this?”

“Because of my plans to rule the world!”

He followed it up with a fake evil laugh, but you could have heard a pin drop in the rest of the room.

“Hey,” he said, “it’s a joke.”

“Count yourself lucky,” Lee said. “No one ever takes me seriously when I say that.”

“I don’t want to be taken seriously. I take way too much crap for what he did.” He got off the bench and began walking toward the door. “Didn’t I get fucking stabbed for it?”

“Vaughn,” Cassie followed him. “No one really thinks –”

I didn’t hear the rest of of it. She shut the stairway door behind her. Anyway, I knew the answer. He’d probably read it in his grandfather’s journals.

“Minus the crazy,” Lee said, “he’s a lot like his grandfather.”

“Nice,” Jaclyn said. “Tell him and I’m sure he’ll feel better.”

“You’re not really going to take over the world?” Haley had stepped away from the mats and joined the rest of us.

I knew better than to ask. Get him going and he’ll talk forever. I mean, seriously, he’s got eternity.

“You bet,” he said. “I’ve got to wait till Nick dies a natural death. I made a few promises to his grandfather that would conflict with starting now.”

Haley shot me a look that despite her lack of telepathy clearly said, “Should I take him seriously?”

I shook my head, “No.”

Catching both of our looks, he said, “See? But never mind, class is over anyway.”

“We should talk to Vaughn,” Haley said.

“Cassie is already.” I looked over at the door. “If it were me, having everyone come over to apologize would be just as bad.”

“He’s not you,” Haley said, but she didn’t start going downstairs.

“I wouldn’t want everyone following me out either.” Jaclyn walked past the dressing room, stopping to look out the back window. “They’re talking in the parking lot. I’m not going to worry about it. Let’s get dressed. He’ll have calmed down by the time we get there.”

She grabbed her duffel bag, opened the dressing room’s flimsy door, and stepped inside.

Haley and I stood next to the bench waiting with Lee.

Turning to him, I said, “I had some questions for you during the fall, but I never got a hold of you. I couldn’t even leave a message because your mail box was full.”

Lee shrugged. “I got busy with mercenary work. I don’t turn my cellphone on in the middle of an operation. It’s a security thing.”

“That was a long operation — I couldn’t call you for months.”

Lee shook his head. “Wasn’t long. I forgot about it when I went on vacation afterward and I left it in Paris. I just got a new one when I came back.”

Haley looked skeptical. “How do you forget your cellphone?”

“Well, it’s probably more honest to say I got sick of it and threw it out a window. I kept on getting calls from an ex-business partner.”

“The lawsuit?” I said.

“Lawsuit?” Haley gave me a sidelong glance.

“The fucking lawsuit, yeah.” Seeing that Haley didn’t know about it, he said, “It was a great scam. Back in the seventies, people were into new religions and expanding their consciousness and I got to thinking that there had to be a way to make a buck off it. Well, I ran into this guy and we came up with an idea. He’d write a few books about how I’d given him secret knowledge and I’d show up and spout self help shit when he needed me. Things slowed down in the eighties and I got sick of it and stopped. He fell on hard times a couple years ago and sued me for loss of income.”

Haley’s jaw dropped a little. “Wait, was one of these books called Teachings of the Eldest?”

“You got it.”

“My mom’s got that book.”

“And you know how much I made off it? Not nearly enough, and now the bastard wants even more.”

He frowned. “You know, civilization went to hell when they outlawed dueling.”

17 thoughts on “Bullies and Counselors: Part 3”

  1. Wysteria is right. I’ve read every installment and I think was the best. The Grey Giant was ultra-cool but this was gold.

    I feel for Vaughn; don’t know if I like him, but I feel for him.

  2. Ok I luv this new character “Lee”. He is like a classic comedic relief. What makes it worse is that you cant tell if he is deadly serious or just pulling your leg 🙂

  3. Gavin: Lee probably also misses trial by ordeal and public executions…

    Wysteria: Thanks. I’ve been intending to introduce him for a long time.

    Bill: Vaughn’s in an odd place. He’s connected to everywhere and not quite at home in any group in some ways.

    Also, with regards to Lee, thanks.

    Indifferent Curve: Comic relief that can be hired to kill people…

  4. Well, the trial by ordeal thing is a bit much…

    But I could argue that duels made society more polite, and thus more civilized — while also improving the survival instinct and breeding tougher stock.

  5. I think I remember a Heinlein essay that made a similar point — though he may have been talking about an armed society in general.

  6. I read way too much Heinlein growing up, so it’s kind of formative. He rants on it in “Beyond this Horizon,” “Starship Troopers,” “Glory Road,” and others.

  7. Hey, I think “ranting” is a little strong, don’t you? I think he presented some very well-thought-out arguments, all in the context of the novels. He may have been suffering from a brain tumour for years and not known it, but that doesn’t mean he was some crazy on a soap box….

    Doesn’t it? 😛

    Nah, he wasn’t crazy, but he was opinionated, and he wasn’t afraid to put his opinions in his books — which is really a good thing. Hey, did you know he also invented the waterbed? Seriously, look it up if you don’t believe me.

    Hg

  8. I use “ranting” in the best sense — I find Heinlein one of the best writers out there, even if he is dead. I like his belief in reasoning, and his ability to speculate. He was opinionated and backed it up with facts and rational thought. But, he does sometimes seem pretty pissed about the way the USA was headed — for good reason.

    Yes, he did indeed invent the waterbed.

  9. I liked Heinlein as a teenager, but when I grew older I found his plotlines to be a little disturbing. I was especially alarmed by “The Sixth Column”, in which the day is saved by a ray gun which only kills nonwhites.

  10. Well, technically, it only killed Asians — and that didn’t include Caucasians from the Indian subcontinent. But yeah, since the “Pan-Asians” were the ones who were trying to take over the world, it kind of made sense. It was really an interesting book — they discovered the Grand Unifying Theorem, the first application of which kills 99% of the people at the research base, then refine it to only kill their enemies, and just happen to be exactly the right team to take advantage of everything they can do with their new techno-magical powers, such as starting a “new religion” to hide their activities. 🙂

    Hg

  11. He actually hated Sixth Column himself — his editor proposed the storyline and the solution, and Heinlein wrote it as a favour — but he was never satisfied with the outcome.

    There’s a big difference between his early works up to Stranger in a Strange Land, and then everything that follows. He starts tying everything together in the Long Family books so that every story he ever wrote connects in like an uber-story, and that was really fun to watch develop.

  12. Lee is a mercenary, and can apparently be hired to kill people? Nick doesn’t appear to be troubled by this, or does he not know that Lee is a killer? Other than the fact that he’s a martial arts instructor with a strange sense of humor, what makes Lee better than, say, the Executioner?

  13. @Farmerbob1: A charisma bonus in the triple digits? There’s also the fact that: 1) You don’t know if he’s serious, or not. and 2) If he is, what are you gonna do? There’s no use getting angry with an immortal for a shady profession.

    Not to mention that what made Executioner heinous was that he went after capes families and friends specifically when going after a cape, which is a big don’t within a cape community, and not the fact Executioner was a hitman.

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