When I walked into Higher Ground’s office, I had two minutes in front of my desk to check email before Stephanie all but dragged me away to the lab. I’d literally just clicked on an email she’d written to me. The subject? “COME TO THE LAB NOW!”
Even as I logged out of my computer and stood up from my chair, I heard the door open and Stephanie grabbed my arm and led me out the door to the lab.
Letting go of my arm as the door shut behind us, she said, “You’re meeting with Ryan McCall. He’s the lab’s chief scientist.”
Walking next to her on the path to the lab, I managed to get out an, “Uh-huh.” Continue reading Deeper In: Part 6
Stephanie stopped walking, letting a wave wash across her feet. “Dammit. Look, I didn’t tell you not to tell him, so that’s on me, but I wish you hadn’t. The guy’s been dropping unsubtle hints ever since I started working here.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.” I searched her face to try to figure out how angry she was at me and how much at the situation. She scowled more as she talked about Victor than when she was telling me she wished I hadn’t said anything.
“It’s not your fault.” Continue reading Deeper In: Part 2
By the end of the day, I’d been shown everything I’d need to know to start work. At any rate, I knew how to get at my files, what programs I’d need, and been told multiple variations on, “You can’t tell anyone about this.”
Around five I got a text from Vaughn saying, “Copter’s leaving late—6:30. Execs going to old hotel to get hammered.”
I texted back, “Are you going with them?”
“No choice. Family. Higher Ground’s going too. U?”
“Don’t know. I’ll ask.” Continue reading Deeper In: Part 1
“It sounds like they were close enough that they should have kept it somehow—not that I think we shouldn’t have it. It just seems inefficient to have us start from zero on it and only bring them in a couple years later.”
Victor shrugged. “It’s the government. I think I heard that they moved it someplace so secret that it practically disappeared for a year and half. Except people do know it exists and what it does. According to government records, when the supers fought the Abominators, the Abominators used it to create clones, engineer new supers, modify supers that already existed, and even heal their people.
“It’s too powerful to bury and Sandy’s got pull, so we got it.” Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 10
Knowing that people sometimes noticed when the implant threw me a lot of information, I steeled myself for the onslaught and did my best to keep my face neutral.
The implant informed me that I had more than 30 messages to download. The majority were from the Xiniti High Command, informing me of military actions that the Xiniti had taken part in and how monitoring the Human Quarantine was going. According to Xiniti intelligence, the loss of a noticeable percentage of their fleet had caused the Human Ascendancy to withdraw from a number of worlds they’d been threatening to occupy.
In addition, the Ascendancy’s internal resistance had been gathering steam. Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 9
That was new information. “I didn’t know he was married.”
Stephanie glanced over toward the lines of cubicles and back to me. “Office rumor says that she’s in California most of the time and I happen to have met her on one of her visits here, so I can confirm that. For the record, her name’s April and I kind of like her.
“Funny how Sandy can do the awkward geeky guy thing at the same time he does the executive screwing the secretary thing. I never thought it was impossible, but I wasn’t looking for an example.”
“I know I wasn’t.” As I spoke, movement caught my eye and I turned to notice a taller guy standing up from his cubicle. Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 8
“Don’t forget it,” Russ said. “No business can survive without good people. You and your father have both been good influences in his life.”
The sound of helicopter blades ended that conversation as everyone in the crowd turned to watch the copter land.
As it came down, Vaughn’s mom turned to me and tapped my shoulder. “Good to see you, Nick.”
I managed to get out, “Good to see you too,” but not much more. The noise made conversation impossible and I was fine with that. It’s not that I disliked her, but the last real conversation I’d had with her involved her informing me that she knew I was the Rocket and that she didn’t want Vaughn to be involved with the new version of the Heroes’ League in any way. Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 7
“That’s more than we knew.” I looked over at her and Tara smiled at me. “Do you have any idea when that happened? The year? Or if we’re lucky, maybe a specific date?”
Tara’s expression went blank again for a few seconds. “No, but a lot of the stories sound like they could take place in this year. My mother’s and father’s stories both include mentions of the Heroes’ League as one of the first groups to face the True.”
“Cool,” Vaughn grinned and asked Tara, “how did we do?”
Tara frowned. “You all died—not all at once, but eventually.” Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 3
Tara frowned, but then her face went blank as her brain went into whatever state allowed her to predict opponents’ moves before they made them and recognize patterns of human behavior by connecting details no one else remembered.
Then she took a breath and relaxed, becoming the Tara I was more used to. “The True aren’t historians. We could have kept everything about the story if we’d wanted to, but it’s important to the leaders of the True to revere the Designer as the one who decided what it meant to be one of the True.
“My parents each told me their battalion’s version of the story and then I heard half a dozen different versions wherever we moved in Infinity City. Every group of the True has their own and they’ll tell it to anyone willing to listen.
“I don’t know which one is real. Maybe all of them are. I don’t know enough to figure that out, but I can tell you what’s common to all the versions I know. Maybe that will be close enough.” Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 2
“It makes sense,” Haley pulled her chair out from under the table and sat down next to me. “It’s the right thing to do, but I don’t like it.”
Short with black hair and olive skin, Haley frowned. We’d been going out since my senior year of high school and after years of being together, I knew her well enough that I knew both what bothered her and that she’d be telling me aloud anyway.
“She and her boyfriend stole our plans and then handed it over to the Coffeeshop Illuminati. From what I heard, she’s the one with the connection to the Illuminati.” Continue reading Dealing With It: Part 1