Graduation: Part 9

Travis put down his burger. “Why can’t you just do that again?”

“Because I’m not going to. I made a deal with the original Rocket and solving your problems isn’t in it. Teaching is.”

“What else is in the deal?”

“Telling you about it isn’t in the deal either. When Nick’s eighteen, I’ll tell him, and Rachel. After that, it’s their business.”

I thought about it. “I turn eighteen on July second. There’s not much of a difference.”

“Then you don’t have long to wait. Anyone else?”

He didn’t look like he wanted another comment, and no one said anything.

“Good. Then let’s start out with some general policies about secret identities, and move on from there. You don’t do too badly most of the time, but nights like this aren’t good at all. You don’t want all of your cars parked in front of Nick’s house, and then go into action as the League. You need to find other places to change, someplace that won’t be linked to you. Flying out of your bedroom window is an invitation for the Executioner to murder your whole family. Got it?

“Now let’s talk about school. When you see each other in normal life, you don’t talk to each other about this stuff. You don’t pass notes about it. You don’t text about it unless it’s encrypted. I like moving cars for privacy, but even they can be bugged. Check for it.”

Lee lead us through a half hour long discussion about ways we might use to avoid blowing our secret identities to Ray and his team.

“With the basics covered,” Lee said, “let’s talk about what you’re facing. You’ve got one very competent team of normal human assassins who are connected to Syndicate L. In the Cabal, you’ve got a group of near immortal soldiers who haven’t adjusted to modern times, but are deadly inside their area of competence. Then there’s the remains of Red Lightning’s people, and their children in  Justice Fist. They’ve all gone through the Impregnator, and may become homicidal maniacs in the near future. Have I missed anything?”

Vaughn leaned back in his chair. “Wow. It sounds really bad when you put it all together like that.”

“Homicidal maniacs?” Jaclyn looked over the table at me. “I thought you’d told them not to use the Impregnator with juice in their system.”

“Yeah. I found out a couple things last night from Lucas. He thinks it’s more complicated than that.”

“I told you we had new info when I told you about the meeting,” Cassie said.

“You could have told me that before the meeting.” Jaclyn turned back to face Lee. “Go ahead. Don’t let us stop you.”

“OK,” Lee said. “What have you got on them?”

“We’ve bugged their houses. Justice Fist and Red Lightning’s people’s houses, that is.” I said.

“That’s a start. What about the others?”

“I don’t think any of them are located in Grand Lake. The Cabal used to have people, but we fought them, and the cops took them away, and made it a crime scene and stuff.”

“Missed opportunity,” Lee said. “You might have gotten something interesting if you’d put up cameras. Someone might have come by looking for things the police didn’t notice.”

“Not entirely missed,” Daniel said. “I managed to grab the list of their local recruits. I’d forgotten about it, but I remembered when Cassie called last night. We’ve got names and some addresses — which is better than we’d normally have. Prime and the Executioner have all the anti-telepath, anti-clairvoyant stuff and they use them.”

“That’s good. We’ll have to get more, but that’s a good start. Now first off, don’t count on bugging people. Once they discover the bugs, they’ll start feeding you false information. You’ll have to set up alternate systems so you can double check. Second, the anti-telepathic stuff isn’t all bad. If you find a hole in what you can detect, you’ll know they’re there.”

Lee walked back over to the group of us where we sat at the table. “Are any of you taking notes? Someone should, and why don’t you throw them up on the wall screen while you’re at it?”

“I’m taking notes,” Daniel said, “but I’d like to clean them up first. Give me a second.”

“Use mine,” Jaclyn said. She moved her mouse and they appeared. She’d typed in complete sentences, indented where appropriate, lettering, and numbering points as if they were part of an outline.

Marcus laughed. “Jaclyn, you have a problem.”

“Don’t listen to him,” Rachel said. “I wish I were that organized.”

To guess from the expression on Cassie’s face, her notes wouldn’t have been anywhere near that complete. Not that she was taking any.

Next to me, Haley whispered, “I didn’t know we needed to take notes for this.”

“Uh… Me neither.”

Lee kept on going. “Good. Now here’s how I see things. Last time you faced anything this big, it was the Mayor, and you did OK, but if you’d been facing a soldier instead of a politician, you’d have died. For the most part, you reacted. He chose when the endgame started, and most of the steps along the way.

“This time around, you’re going find out what they’re doing, and where they’re doing it. Then you’re going to attack them, and you’ll do it before they expect you to.”

13 thoughts on “Graduation: Part 9”

  1. It just occurred to me that Nick never passed on the info he got from Paladin about Lucas’ father to the rest of the group. He’s pretty absent minded about such things. He needs to realize that any information at all might be valuable and shouldn’t be kept from the group.

    Still loving the story.

  2. Jerry: Thanks. Nick has tended to be a little inconsistent about passing along information to people. Sometimes he just forgets it. Sometimes he assumes it’s obvious from context…

    Undoubtedly, it’ll matter a lot at some point.

  3. Hey Jerry, welcome to the story. Jim, Lee is kinda hard-assed isn’t he?? I mean he really seemed to chew those kids up.

    I had to laugh at the part where Jaclyn’s notes resembled meeting minutes. I did the minutes for a staff meeting once and was forbidden from doing it again, because mine were a little too….all-inclusive. My boss (good-naturedly) berated me saying, “I asked for minutes, not a damn PowerPoint!”.

  4. Lee can be. At least when it comes to this kind of thing. Former military officers that I’ve known (not having been in the military myself) seem to be very much into clear objectives, and direct in letting people know when they’re not doing what they need to.

    Lee’s been in and out of that sort of work for a really long time.

    As for meeting minutes… That’s amusing. Personality tends to come out in stuff like that.

  5. Well Lee is to the point, and yeah when all the groups are lined up it is pretty bad. Any one of them by themselfs can be a pain or worse, all four groups is just plain scary.

  6. Shouldn’t “‘Homicidal manics?’ Jaclyn looked over the table at me.” be “homicidal maniacs”?

  7. Bill: hard-assed? I don’t think so.
    Being former military myself, I see Lee’s breakdown and assessment as going fairly easy on the group. Yes, they’ve experienced battle, but they have no tactical plan. They need to start taking this deadly serious. As their ‘tactical general’, Lee needs to be hard on them to get them in the right frame of mind. Otherwise, one of them might get dead.

    And that would just suck.

  8. I saw Jaclyn’s note-taking more as a feature of her superspeed than anything else. When you can write (and think) at super speeds, you have more than enough to time to indent, reformat, even capture every word spoken, if need be. In fact, it probably keeps her from getting bored.

    Thinking of that, it’s a wonder most speedsters don’t come off as seriously ADHD. Presumably, the average superspeeder sees the world moving slowly, but doesn’t get any more bored or distracted than they would at normal speed, because they are not inclined to do so. There’s still more to plenty to occupy one’s attention, even at 50 times normal perception speed. However, someone with ADHD and superspeed powers is likely going to end up as 50 times more distracted, but again, they’d also have plenty of subjective time to refocus on whatever task is at hand. So as long as they stay in their seat (or general location, anyway) they wouldn’t really appear to be any more distracted. Of course the sewing-machine-leg thing that hyperactives (especially teens) tend to display could be mighty distracting to everyone else when going at 50 times normal speed. And then there’s tapping pencils on desks, or clicking and unclicking click-pens….

    (Makes me giggle just thinking about it.)


  9. @Psychlone Ranger: Yes, that would suck. Good point.

    And thank you. For your service to the country. If you don’t wanna get into it, that’s cool, but…what part of the service were you in?

  10. Hg: I intended Jaclyn’s note-taking as a combination of her powers and her personality. Other people with the same abilities might get bored and end up with even worse notes than normal people. Jaclyn ends up with fantastically detailed and organized notes because she tends to be organized…

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