“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.”