Graduation: Part 10

Travis nodded. “That sounds good, but we still don’t even know who we’re going to attack. The Cabal’s going for us for sure. Justice Fist and their parents might not. And we don’t know whether Ray and his people are going to go after us first, or whether they’ll go after Solar Flare.”

“Right. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. You don’t know, and it’s time to find out. Time to bug the Cabal’s recruits, and setup surveillance on the best targets. Also, you’ve got to come up with a better way of searching through the videos than you’ve got so far. From what you’ve said, it sounds like you’re always behind.”

“We are,” Marcus said. “There’s more to go through than we’ve got time for. Hours and hours. We’re bugging over twenty people, and it feels like a million.”

“Automate it,” Lee said.

I thought about it. “I think I could, but, an audio to text program might garble it.”

“Being two days behind is worse. You want to know what they’re going to do before they do it.”

“OK.”

On the other side of the table, Vaughn brought his chair back to the floor. “Lee, I know you know what you’re doing, but don’t you think you might be a little paranoid? I mean, I know the Executioner and the Cabal’s people are dangerous, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to join forces and go after us. Nick read that Ray’s dad was with Red Lightning, and it sounds like he’s going to work with my uncle and Justice Fist. So, he’ll be fighting the Cabal’s people. By the time it’s over, he might not even be alive. Besides Justice Fist might not go crazy. I went through the Impregnator, and I’m fine.”

Lee nodded as Vaughn talked, and then grinned for a second. He walked away from the table, and stood in front of the screen. “Nick, could you throw up some pictures of the Cabal group you fought? The guys from the house. Thanks.”

Lee gave the screen a once over,and turned to us. “Remember that guy?” He pointed to the guy whose leg Cassie cut off. “I know him a little. He’s not the only guy like that that they’ve got. And now that everyone’s got the government version of the juice, they’ll all be working closer to their potential than they used to be. Not only that, but only the toughest of them could have survived being hunted down all over the country. From what I know of Prime, he’ll come down here with those guys, and it will be bloody and brutal.”

Giving the picture of the Cabal’s people another look, he walked back towards us.

“Vaughn, you might be right about the two of them taking each other out, but I doubt that Ray and his team are going to be on the front lines. They don’t have powers. If they’re acting as advisers, it’ll be your uncle and cousin who will be on the front lines. Ray’s team will probably melt away if it gets tough. Hell, they’ll probably snag the Impregnator, and sell it to Syndicate L on the way out.

“So, even if you don’t care what happens to Prime, Ray or the Hardwick’s group, care about yourselves. Whoever has the Impregnator has the power to build an army of supers, and if Prime gets it, they’ll be more powerful than before, and pointed at you. And I’ve only given you a couple of the bad scenarios that become possible now. Here’s another… What if Ray’s a potential super? His dad was with Red Lightning, right? Or another… What if he caught enough clues about who you are that it won’t be hard to figure out your real identities now that he’s out of prison?

“There are lots of possibilities, and to be blunt, I don’t think the nine of you can handle them alone. We’re going to do three things this afternoon. First, we’re going to list people who can help, and we’re going to call them. Second, we’re going to start finding out where Prime, Ray, and everybody else are. Third, we’re going to come up with contingency plans for all the major possibilities.”

* * *

We were there for four more hours, and by the time we were done, my mind spun.

The many ways that we could die, and the possible solutions blurred together with what I needed to do to the communicators, and the surveillance recordings. I could barely eat when I got home for supper, and Rachel didn’t seem much better.

My parents didn’t say anything, but they had to notice.

Rachel and I walked back to HQ afterward. On most Saturday nights, HQ would have been empty, but Rachel and Marcus were going through the recordings at the table in the main room, bringing us up to date. Travis, Daniel, Haley, Cassie, Jaclyn, and Vaughn pulled up chairs on the other side of the boxes in the main room, discussing how to bug everybody on the recruits list.

I’d planned to finish working on the communicators myself, but Jaclyn stepped through the door of the lab. “Do you need any help?”

I looked up. “If you’re interested, sure.”

I showed her where to solder, and we finished all of them that night. She finished more than I did.

We even got to test them. She ran a few miles away from town, and I tried to contact her while flying. The communicators worked, but I definitely needed to come up with a better way to filter out wind noise.

After Jaclyn left, and Haley’s meeting broke off for the night, she came into the lab.

I was cleaning up, putting away the soldering irons and the spare parts.

She sat down on one of the stools, and asked me, “Do you think it will be like this for the rest of our lives?”

Thinking about Prime, the Executioner, the people I’d called, and all the contingency plans, I said, “I hope not.”

12 thoughts on “Graduation: Part 10”

  1. “It’s a brand new day, and the sun is high…”

    They might have to deal with their enemies more harshly than just sending them to jail. That could be one last lesson for them to learn as they become heroes. Lee must have suggested that to them.

    I just hope Nick FINALLY gets his suits ready and blocks the paralysis and mind control. For a genius with a free pass as far as his parents are concerned, he’s been spending his time reading too many fantasy books and not enough fixing his science fiction armor.

  2. “All the birds are singin’ that you’re gonna die!”

    I’m surprised The Rocket even bothers going to school anymore. what, with all the things he needs to do not to die.

  3. Psycho Gecko: I’m sure Lee’s mentioned it. Not “on-camera” recently, but he has.

    As for time… Nick gets distracted by things. Also, he’s got a lot to do between suits, the communicators, the paralysis/mind control countermeasures, and the new roachbots — not to mention training, and fighting supervillains.

    NASCAR: Sadly, the teachers at his school haven’t been blocked.

  4. You know, this stuff with the Impregnator brings up something that’s always bothered me about comics and similar stories: the idea of one person coming up with some technology or device that no one else can figure out unless they have the original plans. All science and technology is based on a natural outgrowth of the knowledge available to scientists and inventors beforehand. Those people also tend to think in the same direction when they are all presented with the same knowledge and research, so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t think of the same technology.

    Look at the atom bomb. The United States and Germany were working on it at the same time, independently of each other, and Germany was well on its way to getting it by the time the were out of the war. A few years later, the Soviets got it themselves, also (mostly) independently.

    Now that the government, and presumably several other groups with considerable resources, understand the principles behind the Power Juice, there is no reason why they, with their ability to hire many more scientists and researchers than any private citizen, shouldn’t be able to work on and replicate the Impregnator for themselves.

    Jeez, I wrote a lot.

  5. You’re right. You may also be anticipating later developments in this story. You’ll note that the government’s already improved power juice and it’s got the preliminary (non-working) plans for the impregnator, and it’s very interested in getting the impregnator working…

    That being said, I did a little work in the sociology of technology development at one point, and was amused to read one research paper in which someone had studied the development of nuclear technology (by which I mean bombs).

    One interesting finding (to me at least) was that the largely undocumented processes of creating the technology played a huge role in making things work. As in, you can have working plans for something, but still have to reinvent the wheel for years if you don’t have people with direct experience in working with it due to the many little things that are involved in the process of creating a complex device.

  6. If Ray does have a super (with a skill they can use like strong sight) then the Executioners will get meaner than ever.

    Hopefully Nick and team make taking out the Impregnator as one of the top priorities.

  7. Taking out the impregnator would only serve as a delay since there are already people who know how it works and have built one. However as long as it’s not actually sure that the Fisters have gone off the deep end someone might want to talk to them about dismantling theirs since they’re no longer using it just to avoid anyone, umm, privatizing it.

  8. Um…
    This paragraph:

    After Jaclyn left, and Haley’s meeting broke off for the night, she came into the lab.

    I had a hard time figuring out who the “she” referred to… I had to think about the sentence to realize that she was Haley.

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