Three: Part 8

“But we’re not going to,” Alex said. “Raptor’s not going to take on Syndicate L by himself. He’s got to stay here and direct the people who are still left, and, you know, most of them got the short end of the stick when it comes to powers, so what good are they?”

“Well,” I said, “they’re experienced for one. Powers don’t do much good if you don’t know how to use them.”

“Come on,” Alex said. “You’re experienced. You guys made national news a bunch of times. The Grey Giant, that conspiracy, the Executioner… That’s more than any of the no-names Raptor will be using. I don’t see why you’re being such a wuss about this.”

“I didn’t plan to get involved in any of that. Most of those guys attacked us first.”

Alex dismissed it with a wave of his hand.

“Yeah, but you won. No help from your parents at all. No interference. No supervision. No one telling you to wait.”

“Well actually,” I said, “Daniel’s dad did help us a little and the rest of our parents don’t have powers at all, and, I mean honestly, they mostly don’t know what we’re doing.”

“How did you arrange that?” Jenny asked.

“We didn’t. Our grandparents placed some kind of block in our parents’ brains so they wouldn’t notice.”

“That’s so cool.” Alex said.

Brooke’s nose wrinkled as if she’d smelled something unusually bad. “That’s… wrong.”

“Are you joking?” Jenny turned her head toward me, waiting for a reply.

“I wish,” I said. “I wouldn’t have done it.”

“OK,” Alex said, “let’s reel it in. Carlos is in trouble and who knows, maybe other people too. How are we going to get him back?”

I didn’t say anything since the obvious answer was, “Let the grown-ups deal with it.” I knew I didn’t want to be responsible for the mistake that killed a kid. On the other hand, I really didn’t want to be responsible through inaction either.

Brooke thought for a second. “If we could capture one of them, I could get a picture of the location out of his head. Then we could portal in.”

“Yeah, exactly,” Alex said, “What about the guy you portaled out?”

“I dropped him next to the tar pits, but I’m sure he didn’t stay there.”

“If the Defenders capture anyone while they secure the development where you live,” I said, “Brooke might get it out of them.”

“If they don’t turn them over the police first,” Alex said.

“I don’t think there are any telepaths among the people still home,” Jenny said. “We could volunteer Brooke.”

“They’d see through that.” Alex said.

No one said anything.

Something on Alex’ utility belt began to beep. “Already? I just put the thing on and the Defenders’ phone begins ringing.” He pulled it off the belt and looked at it.

Then he held it out for everyone to see.

A text message on the phone said, “Alex. Help.”

As we looked at it, it beeped. Alex turned it toward himself and clicked. Then he showed it to us again. It said, “Video. Now.”

Jenny grabbed the TV’s remote control and started flipping channels. “He probably means the general communications account.”

The screen changed to a picture of a nondescript conference room — long table, white walls, chairs. Scared looking people stood against the wall — nine of them, three women, two men, and four kids, one of which was Carlos. The taller of the two men had a big bruise on his cheek.

An obviously electronically distorted voice said, “– Raptor, we’ve left each other alone, but some recent incidents have left us with no choice but try for a more formal arrangement. We’re willing to give these people back to you as a gesture of good will, provided you leave us alone.”

Raptor’s picture in the lower right corner showed him looking impassive. “You know we can’t do that. I’m grateful for the gesture, but I can’t promise anything. Where can we pick them up?”

The voice laughed. “Nice try, but you know we can’t leave it at that. If you can’t promise anything now, I’ll call you back in a little while, and, I’m hoping that by then you’ll have something you can promise.”

The picture cut off, leaving Raptor with a sour look on the lower half of his face, one small portrait against a background of gray. Then that disappeared too.

“I can’t believe it. That’s all I need to portal in,” Brooke said.

Alex laughed. “They can be so dumb.” He eyed the rest of us, pulled his long coat off the table and put it on. “Let’s go in.”

“Wait,” I said, “shouldn’t we at least tell Raptor what we’ve got?”

“He’s not going to listen, but, fuck it, go ahead if you don’t believe me.”

Alex did something with the remote and suddenly I was facing Raptor on the screen.

“Now what?” He stood in a conference room with half a dozen costumed men and women.

“I’m the Rocket. Look, we can really help you out. Portal’s got a way to drop us right into the room where they’re being held.”

Raptor took a deep breath. “Kid, I’ve seen the news reports out of Grand Lake. I’ve seen what you’ve done, but this is LA, and I don’t want anyone starting a fight in the middle of a room full of hostages. You got it?”

“Yeah,” I said.

He cut off the connection before I even finished.

“See?” Alex said.

Jenny pulled on her mask and split into two. “We’re not really going to jump into the middle of the room, are we?”

Brooke rolled her eyes. “No. I was going to open a small portal and scout around first. Maybe we can place a few of you outside the building for backup?”

Jenny nodded. “I’ll need to get into the armory.”

“That sounds good,” Alex said. “Nick, you’re coming, right?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I guess I am.”

16 thoughts on “Three: Part 8”

  1. Hmm, first. And lately that accomplishment has cachet in here. I’m not too embarrased to say it, I know firsthand what a good feeling it is to have your audience battling for it ^_^

  2. And you chose the right day to be first… Saturday updates (especially late ones) don’t have nearly as many people read them the first day they’re up.

  3. Damn you Parahacker! (LOL!!)

    Jim, a few questions, 1) Why is Raptor being such a tool? He did see the reports from Michigan, the kids HAVE consistently come out on top. He didn’t have to be so dismissive.

    Okay, seriously, Alex is starting to piss me off. Can he even spell “consequences”??

    One more thing, I’m tired of Nick constantly being the rational one, I’m ready for him to be like “Okay guys, I’M taking over this operation. Whoever doesn’t like it can leave now.” I think he’s ready.

  4. Bill: I’m looking at it from Raptor’s point of view… He’s been told not to let his colleague’s son (and friends) get involved. Said son just tried to. Now, a friend of the son in question who just happens to be using the identity of a very famous hero interrupts him while he’s planning to deal with the fact that Carlos (another colleague’s son) has been captured.

    Plus, of course, this can’t be the only thing he’s got to cover in a city the size of LA…

    In an ideal world, he’d hear Nick out, but I think it’d be easy to be dismissive in that situation. For all he knows, Nick is a lot like Alex.

    As for how Nick takes things from here… Well, that’s in the next section.

  5. No Jim, I didn’t mean that you wrote it wrong; my beef is with Raptor the character.

    I guess it’s a testament to your abilities that I look at your characters as real people who I can get really upset with.

  6. Bill: I didn’t think you were… I am willing to answer questions about characters when it won’t blow future plot points though.

    As for the characters… It is kind of cool that people can be bothered by Alex and Raptor. That tends to make me think that I’m doing something right with them.

  7. So Brooke saw the room, and the hostages. Why can’t she just open a portal under them and have them show up in HQ right in front of Raptor?

  8. Jim said:

    “I am willing to answer questions about characters when it won’t blow future plot points though.”

    Really?! Cool! Okay, so what’s Nick’s favourite cola? And where did Brooke get that T-shirt? And what happened to the impregnator after Vaughn used it? (Okay, you probably don’t want to answer that last one just yet….)

    Hg

  9. Hg: Actually… It went back into it’s box and it’s still sitting there. Now, that being said, there’s no way I’ll be mentioning what will ultimately happen to the thing.

    T-shirt: You can buy it on Amazon (and a bunch of other places).

    Cola: I need to think about that.

  10. Raptor is probably right, especially given that it was Alec’s hijinks that started this mess in the first place. Do Alec, Brooke and Jenny even have the sense to work out a plan before they start?

  11. @Emote Control: I don’t think they do.

    Alex, clearly lives in an alternate universe that resembles more a Saturday morning cartoon than real life where people actually get beat up and/or shot.

    Brooke is his squeeze, so she’s just gonna go along with what he says.

    Jenny just wants to hang out.

    Remember, they’re not like Nick and his crew who really did decide one day that they wanted to be “superheroes”…. not ” ‘Entourage’ with powers”.

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