Loose Ends: Part 2

Trying to keep him guessing, I interpreted the question as literally as possible. “It does not help me remember. What do you mean by faking ‘it’?”

Dr. Hansen began to move his left arm upward toward the gun, mostly likely to steady it so that he could shoot me. I had no time left to wait. I was just about to use the stealth suit (concealed as jeans, a long sleeved t-shirt, and a jacket) to lean forward and throw the desk at him, but I didn’t have to.

Dr. Hansen’s right arm and gun rose upward. He tried to pull the gun down again, but it kept on going higher until it aimed straight up at the ceiling. Then he tried to let go. His finger couldn’t move further than half an inch as if held in place by an invisible force field—one that also prevented him from pulling the trigger.

He tried. The trigger didn’t move.

As he did that, the window behind him shattered, but not the way a normal window shattered—politely.

It didn’t ask permission, but the noise as cracks extended from the middle was muffled as if by an invisible barrier. Instead of exploding either into or out of the room, the pieces slid downward, broken, but still in the shape of a rectangle, landing outside in a brief, tinkling noise.

Warm air flowed in. October’s “Indian summer” had arrived to give us some variety from the cooling fall weather.

Daniel and Izzy floated inside, both of them in costume—Daniel in black and silver and Izzy in blue. They looked like heroes from TV and the movies—muscular without being musclebound, tall without being giants, and confident without giving the impression of arrogance—that’s to say unlike the majority of real heroes. Most heroes had something more noticeably wrong with them.

Daniel’s words sounded in my head, We don’t look that great.

Then I felt him connect to all of us—Izzy, Haley, Cassie, Vaughn, and Amy. Haley, of course, was in the lobby of the Engineering department. Cassie, Vaughn, and Amy stood outside the building, watching in case Dr. Hansen had help.

We could call in more if we had to.

Izzy landed next to Dr. Hansen’s desk, glancing over at Dr. Hansen first, but looking directly at Dr. Strazinsky and me. “I’m Blue. You probably recognize the Mystic. We’re members of the Heroes’ League and we’ve got reason to believe Dr. Hansen is working with the Nine. We know that he’s got mind-control technology. We’ll do everything we can to free you from it.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Dr. Strazinsky open his mouth, but no sound came out.

Daniel frowned. Next to him, Dr. Hansen tried to move his left hand toward his tie pin but found that he couldn’t touch it, hitting an invisible barrier.

Letting his hand drop, he turned toward Daniel, “You’ve got no right to do this. Absolutely none at all. You’re no better than criminals yourselves if you’re coming into my office and attacking—”

His head slumped and his body slowly dropped toward his chair. The gun remained in the air, but his right arm fell slowly until it dangled at his side. He stared ahead into nothing, saying no more.

Well, Daniel thought, I guess I should rummage around his brain now.

Haley sent her view of the lobby to the group. I don’t see anyone out here that shouldn’t be. Let me know if you need me inside.

We sent her silent acknowledgments through the telepathic connection and waited as Daniel delved deeper into Dr. Hansen’s head. After a little longer, I felt his attention turn back to us.

Okay. I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that Dr. Hansen’s allegiance to the Nine is 100% manufactured. He’s been reporting to them regularly, asking people questions, and influencing people in and around the university, but it’s definitely because someone got into his head in the last year.

Here’s the bad news: it’s far beyond anything that I know how to fix. Whoever did it was good—extremely good. It’s got to have been a team effort, which means it was probably the Dominators. They work as a group and use multiple mind control techniques.

I can’t get far enough in to know when it happened or who did it. I can tell that he doesn’t know who he was reporting to or how he got the tie pin. I think I’m going to have to call in my dad.

In fact, I think I’m going to have to put him to sleep and keep him that way until the Defenders get here. The Dominators have embedded suicide commands before.

I felt Vaughn’s interest before I heard his thoughts. It’s not just suicide commands. They’ve set up suicide bombers. My mom told me that Hardwick Industries had a Nine influenced scientist once and he blew up his lab.

Amy’s mind felt like a crowd of different thoughts and emotions, but through it her thoughts were clear. I can change into Bloodmaiden and scan him for magic commands.

Sure, Daniel thought back. If there’s magic involved, I’ll never know.

Glancing over at Dr. Strazinsky, I thought, Can you tell if Dr. Strazinsky is okay?

As per Dr. Hansen’s command, he wasn’t moving, but that was all I could know for sure.

Dr. Hansen started snoring and Daniel stared at Dr. Strazinsky for a few seconds. He’s fine. As I said earlier, I wouldn’t know it if there were magic involved, but there’s no sign of mind control except for memories associated with Dr. Hansen and those seem to be limited to leading questions until today.

6 thoughts on “Loose Ends: Part 2”

  1. This isn’t related to this chapter specifically but I was younger than Nick when I started reading this and now I’m (hopefully) more than halfway through a PhD; I didn’t really realize how much ground this series covers until I started a reread recently; thanks for the good times Jim

    1. I’m always glad when people enjoy the story and it is strange to think that the story spans that amount of time in your life. That said, I started writing it 13 years ago, so that’s enough time for huge changes in a person’s life.

      In mine, it spans from when my kids were five or six to now when they’ve both either entered or are about to enter college.

    1. The scary thought is we may have already.
      Note that Dr. Hanson was only subverted a year ago. Now take in what the unseelie guy said about how Nick has already been interacting with people subverted by the Nine. He might have been a jackass, but that does not mean he was wrong.
      I would say we can clear any member of the Heroes League. Daniel mentally connects them often enough that it would be noticed. But other people in Stapeldon? Lim? They all become suspect because they might have started on the side of angels. And now have been subverted.

      I mean I hope not Lim. Of all the non-league people out there I like him the most. He goes above and beyond to help if he can.
      But what happened here drives a point home. The Mayor chose to join the bad guys. Dr. Hanson was forced. And reprogrammed as a meat robot. That is the horror.

    2. The Dominators are terrifying. We’ve been hearing about them for a long time, so I think you are right.

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