Graduation: Part 15

“By the way,” Ray asked, “what did happen to Shirley?”

“Prime’s people got her. We’d been using her to redirect them away from us, and they must have sent over someone who wasn’t vulnerable to vocal suggestion. He slit her throat.”

“Huh. Was he deaf?”

“We never found out. It happened ten years ago when Julie couldn’t  have been more than eight. I’ve done what I could to make her life better of course. Her mother died for our cause. I take care of my people.”

Ray nodded slowly. “Glad you care about them. I think we’ll get along. Mind if we talk about my people now? I know that we’re hidden, but I can’t say I like our sleeping arrangements. We want to be able to go where we want to, when we want to.”

Hardwick said, “You’re escaped convicts. If people see you, you’ll be caught again, and I’ll go to jail with you.”

Ray flicked his hand as if waving the discussion away. “We’ve always been on the run. Let’s assume that we can handle it. Yeah, we did get caught here, but it’s not a mistake we’ll make twice. In fact, I’ve got a list of materials that we’ll need. You help get us those, and it’ll make it a lot easier for us to train your kids, avoid capture, everything…”

He handed Hardwick a piece of paper. “I don’t suppose I need to tell you to burn this when you’re done with it, and I’d advise you not to buy through easily traceable channels.”

Hardwick’s face went expressionless as he read the list.

“We’ll get it to you.”

“Good. Then, assuming we get to move someplace nicer as soon as you get the gear, I consider the meeting over. Unless you’ve got something for me?”

At that, Hardwick grinned. I don’t know what Ray thought, but if Hardwick had grinned that way at me, I’d have been worried.

He pulled out three small bottles with eyedropper caps. “I’d like you to try something. Your father worked for Red Lightning, and I’d like to see what, if anything, you inherited from him.”

Ray squinted at the bottles as Hardwick shook them up.

Then he unscrewed a cap, and said, “Hold out your arm.”

“I’ve always thought powers were overrated,” Ray said, “but I’ve got to admit I’m curious.”

“The first one I’ll put on you represents your potential for physical powers, the second mental, and the third energy manipulation. If the dot turns red, the powers manifest externally. If blue, internally. If purple, both.”

Ray placed his arm on the desk next to Hardwick’s laptop, and Hardwick put a drop from each jar on Ray’s arm.

All three turned dark purple.

Hardwick didn’t say anything for a few seconds.

“Now that opens up some possibilities,” Hardwick said. “I have access to the government’s version of the Power Elixir — they’re calling it Power Juice these days. I’ve also got something the government doesn’t — the ability to make the change permanent. You might consider making that part of your payment package.”

Ray stared at his arm. “God damn. I’ve got something to think about, don’t I?”

“I’d say so. We’ll want to check the rest of your team as well, I think.”

“Yeah, worth a shot. Don’t think any of the rest have parents who worked with Red Lightning though.”

Hardwick said, “We’ll see. Here in Grand Lake, it seems like half the city is hiding powers. Now, let’s talk about how this fits in with your fee.”

Marcus and I kept on watching for little while longer, but after checking the transcript, I realized that it was going to be all haggling for rest of the conversation.

I searched on a few more keywords, and didn’t get anything especially interesting, but the computer wasn’t done transcribing them anyway. I decided to try again later, and browsed the internet for a little while, checking out the Double V online forums.

Their Grand Lake Heroes League forum didn’t have anything we didn’t.

Thirty minutes later, everyone showed up for what felt like the hundredth team meeting of the week. Travis started it off with, “I’ve got a lead, people. I tracked down that kid from Haley’s school who’s working with Prime. If we keep watching him, I think we’ve got a good chance of finding the local leadership and going straight to the top from there.”

11 thoughts on “Graduation: Part 15”

  1. Just great, Ray is a superpower of superpowers. Somebody better take out that impregnator.

    That is, if the test wasn’t rigged as a way to put off payment of Ray and put him in a manipulatable situation.

    1. OMG I just had the same exact thoughts! I hope it was rigged otherwise things are about to get crazy rough for Rocket and the crew.

      I am just now reading this now and really enjoying it:) I found about about you through the Choose Your Own Ending story on the P&C Site after reading Drew’s Blog. Very excited to get a new set of authors to read. While it’s a bit of a bummer I am super late to the game, yay years of posts to binge read!!! Thank you for sharing your stories:)

      1. Thanks. I’m glad you’re enjoying it. For that matter, it’s good to hear that the Choose Your Own Ending story still gets readers. I enjoyed writing the parts that I wrote as well as those written by the other writers. There’s a lot of good work to discover there.

  2. Oh this will only lead to more chaos, more so depending on what Ray can do with his powers. If Nick and his team are lucky he can change the color of his hair and stuff, maybe immune to mind control, and just tougher.

  3. Or maybe, internally, he can change his personality and he’ll change it to nice and forget to change back.

  4. Oh yeah. This post represents my first real ‘wtf’ moment. This is the first part I couldn’t read all the way through. Once I got to “All three turned dark purple.” I had to stop. In fact I laughed out loud, went into the other room, and then had to explain to my wife why I was laughing. I couldn’t believe it. Already the most dangerous unpowered man after them, and he might yet become EVERYTHING ELSE? That went beyond raising the stakes for me. I had to let the repercussions of that simmer before I was able to finish reading to the end of the part. Holy cats. NEVER would have called that.
    I can’t be certain if this is the point when I decided I’d be reading the whole archive (at this point it was up to Arc 7.7), but it was likely somewhere around here. So well done.

    1. Ray made for a great antagonist.

      My original idea for him was that I wanted to do the sort of villain that Batman might face. Bearing in mind that lots of Batman’s villains are dark versions of himself, it’s not surprising that Ray ended up having a Batman-esque feel to him. Adding powers to that is scary.

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