Uncontrolled Substances: Part 4

I flipped through the roachbot’s viewpoints, watching them scuttle up walls, through windows to the outside, or into vents.

I had a brief moment where I thought that the best thing I could do would be self-destruct all of them, but I’d just made them last fall. I didn’t want to do it all over again.

I waited on the top of the roof.

Silently, Rachel faded into view next to me. “They both chugged some juice and they’re coming outside. We’d better go — unless you want to fight them.”

“I don’t want to leave the bots.”

“They’re just stupid machines.”

“Just give me a second and they’ll all be here.”

A few were already crawling back into the pouch.

Rachel’s expression fell somewhere between amusement and irritation. “I’ll watch for him. If he gets up here before you go, you can explain why you’re on top of the house.”

She turned invisible and I heard her scramble up the roof to look over the peak.

From below, a door opened and Sean’s father said, “What the hell are you thinking?”

Rachel snorted as if she were trying to keep back a laugh. “Oh my god… Nick you have to see this. He should call himself Shovelman.”

I left the pouch on the roof for the bots, and crawled toward Rachel’s voice till I reached the peak of the roof.

Sean floated upward. If he were just floating that would be one thing, but he was sitting on the metal blade of a snow shovel.

“Um… yeah. It reminds me of the Quidditch scenes in Harry Potter… only dumb… I wonder…”

I thought of Dayton’s flying car… Of Sean bashing the two metal members of Blood Money together… The lockers rattling as he walked away… I’d assumed he had telekinesis like Daniel, but no. Sean controlled magnetic forces.

I couldn’t think of any power that would screw me over more if we ever went up against each other. What was I supposed to do, hunt him down in a loincloth while armed with a rubber band gun?

Unasked for, ideas about how to design a more powerful rubber band gun popped into my mind.

Sean kept on rising. If he happened to turn around and look at his house, he’d see me. He’d see the stealth suit’s helmet, not my face, but I didn’t want to explain why the Rocket was bugging his house either.

I dropped flat to the roof, and tried think of a way to make him go downward without revealing myself.

I had an idea.

Changing the voice settings to a deeper, harsher voice, I readied one of the sonics’ better samples.

Pointing my arm toward the garage door across the street, I narrowcast my voice. “We’ve got him,” I shouted, and then started in with the sound of automatic weapons fire. With any luck, the sounds would disperse after hitting the garage door, making it sound as if the noise came from that direction.

Grandpa had used that trick during the war, mostly when he’d been sneaking into buildings.

After all he’d done with them, it surprised me how little I’d gotten out of the sonics’ more subtle abilities.

Sean turned in the direction of the noise, watching the darkness near the garage.

Annoyingly, he still didn’t descend, and I still had roachbots crawling up toward the pouch.

Maybe he thought he could stop the bullets with this mind, or, maybe he hadn’t been fooled.

Out of the darkness of the roof, Rachel’s voice said, “Give me a second.”

Seconds later, the left side of the shovel’s blade dipped downward, nearly pitching Sean off. He swore and hung on to the wooden handle as the blade leveled off again.

Then the end of the handle moved straight upward.

He pulled himself closer to the handle and righted the shovel. While he struggled, I threw my voice again. “Make your TK useful, Wilson! Knock him off.”

Reflecting on it, I thought I sounded kind of like a cartoon military character, but whatever. I followed it up with more sampled gunfire and the sound of ricochets.

Sean dove toward the lawn.

“Get in here,” his father yelled.

The door slammed shut — a good thing. I’d been worried that his father would figure it out.

* * *

Sean seemed a little nervous the next day at school.

People in Mr. Beacham’s class asked whether he thought Sean’s very public identity was better for society than a secret identity. Mr. Beacham glanced over at Sean and said, “If it were me, I’d be a little frightened that people could find my house in the telephone book.”

Sean didn’t say anything.

I don’t know if people were just bored of the topic or put off by Sean’s mood, but not as many people were hanging around with him. There were still people walking up to him and asking about the fight two days before. A short freshman in the hall outside Mr. Beacham’s class even wanted him to autograph a copy of the Grand Lake Sentinel. Tangling with Spike and Skewer’s gang in combination with all the issues surrounding the super juice had made the front page yesterday.

Sean looked flattered as he signed it, but lapsed into silence as the guy walked away.

I walked around him on my way out of the classroom, watching him out of the corner of my eye.

On my way to the next class, it struck me that we might have even done Sean a service by going over there. If he wanted to use his abilities, he needed to start analyzing what he was doing. Hanging the air after you hear gunfire was not a good idea even if you’ve theoretically got the ability to stop bullets.

Too bad for him that he didn’t have someone like Lee around. A good teacher could make all the difference in the world.

Not that I really wanted him to get better, but I didn’t want him to die uselessly.

14 thoughts on “Uncontrolled Substances: Part 4”

  1. Oh I am sure that Nick could come up with a really nasty rubberband gun. I am sure there are some plastics hard enough to use.

    Though a sling shot might be better, fire out small ballons of water filled with explosives or combustible ammo. Even nitrogen to freeze them into place.

    Ok I think I am done now. Just like Nick, present me with a problem and I will try to find an answer.

  2. Maybe he could figure out a non-metal version of the Rocket Suit for situations like this? It could be made of high-density carbon fiber or something, like they use in modern boats and bullet-proof vests and such.

    And if he wants to get really nasty with a gun, maybe something that sprays needles? It’d probably be tough to simultaneously block hundreds of tiny metal bits, especially if they’re magnetized different directions.

  3. Yeah, I think air-fired rubber bullets will do just fine on someone who has no armour. Of course, once Sean realizes he can armour himself with whatever metal is handy, or even a decent-sized bag of iron filings, then that won’t work. Of course, there’s still knock-out gasses, and that paralysis beam all of the bad guys seem to have, and some properly tuned sonics could wreak serious havoc with his sense of balance and ability to concentrate.

    But the nice thing about a super-rubber-band gun is the entanglement factor….


  4. Not to mention, there are plastic needles, including plastic knitting needles and crochet hooks. And non-magnetic metals. I assume Nick is not just making another assumption.

    Pondering what “to die uselessly” could mean when referring to a character in a story – to die without enhancing the story…. Of course there’s Nick’s meaning, based on seeing Sean as real.

    BTW, Gotta teach Rachel that this is Rocket, not Nick.

  5. Gee, Supes, why have you had a secret identity since 1938?

    Well, Jimmy, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I mean, you and my mom aren’t dead yet, so, I suppose there are some benefits.

  6. Maybe he thought he could stop the bullets with this mind, or, maybe he hadn’t been fooled.

    Probably should be “with his mind”.

  7. Poor Sean 🙁
    The poor boy must be constantly on edge now that his home doesnt feel safe
    Nick is a thoughtless douche

  8. Missing “in”:

    “Hanging the air after you hear gunfire was not a good idea even if you’ve theoretically got the ability to stop bullets.”

  9. Isn’t his suit made out of a non-ferromagnetic aluminum alloy, anyway? Or do magnetic powers come with inducing magnetism in non-ferromagnetic metals?

  10. @ Michael
    Aluminum is one of the metals that magnetism can affect. It’s actually classified as “Paramagnetic” just like oxygen. The thing about that though, he would have to be able to control magnetism down to the subatomic level (protons and neutrons). That would put him at Magneto’s level of power, which i don’t think he is.

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