Graduation: Part 20

Hardwick pushed back his chair, and stood up behind the desk. “Don’t threaten me, George. Ray’s got nothing to offer me that I can’t buy.”

Small flickers of electricity arced between the fingers of his left hand.

Mr. Drucker said, “Yeah? Good, but I wasn’t threatening. I came here to tell you what would happen if you side with these people instead of our kids. I’ll see you at the next meeting.”

He touched his hand back on the beam, and the metal flowed back into position, slightly more shiny in the spots Mr. Drucker had melted.

Then he left.

From behind me, Rachel said, “There’s a couple cases of testosterone poisoning. ‘Don’t side with the Executioner or I’ll show you my shiny hand powers…’ ‘No, I’ll show you my electric hand powers. Are you scared yet?’”

Hearing her voice, I nearly jumped. “Geez. You could have told me you were there.”

Rachel shrugged. “Sorry. Walking everywhere gets boring.”

She floated a couple inches above the lab’s concrete floor.

She’d probably phased through the ground after running an errand outside.

Turning back to the screen, I saw Hardwick sigh. I left the roachbots to record, but cut off my connection.

“I didn’t see all of it,” she said. “Anything interesting?”

“No. Not really. I already knew Sean’s dad didn’t like the idea of working with Ray. I hadn’t known what powers they had, but they aren’t exactly surprising.”

“No. They’re not. I’ll get back to the guitar.”

“Is this what you’ve been doing every day?”

“Now you’re sounding like Mom.”

“I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just that you’ve practiced guitar for hours already. That’s a really long time.”

“You’ve been working on the arm over there for as long as I’ve been practicing. Besides, I’ve working on my own songs, plus what I’ve been learning from Lee.”

“You’re taking guitar lessons from Lee?”

“He’s been playing music as long as he’s been fighting.”

“I hadn’t thought about that.”

“Haven’t you ever heard him complain that no one ever takes music lessons from him? I took him up on it.”

“So what’s that like?”

“A lot like martial arts practice, but with fewer bruises.”

“Wait, bruises?”

She scowled. “You know how he’s teaching me to become intangible by reflex? At least once during my guitar lesson, he checks to see how well I’m doing.”

“That doesn’t seem fair.”

“Tell me about it.”

The computer beeped. The words Superhuman Affairs Branch ran across the screen.

I took the call.

Isaac Lim sat behind his desk. He’d moved the piles of papers to each side, but it still looked messy. Even the file cabinets had layers of paper on top of them.

“Skipping school, Nick?” Judging from the smile on his face, he found the idea amusing.

He stared at the computer screen on his desk. I guessed that he must be checking out the lab, and I was right, because the next thing he said was, “That looks interesting. Are you working on a new Rocket suit?”

“No. Repairing the old one. And how did you know I was skipping school?”

“We watch for it. Can’t be too careful right now.”

Rachel walked up and stood next to me. “Are you watching me too?”

“It’s harder, but yes. We’re watching all of you.”


“With everything going on? Of course we’re watching. We don’t want you to get killed. Believe me, you’re not the first legacy heroes to show up, and if we’ve learned anything, we’ve learned you need time to develop. You’re not the originals, and we can’t expect you to act as if you were. So, we watch.”

I thought about what he’d just said. “So what happened to the other legacies?”

“Depends. A lot of them are still out there. Not all of them are still active, but they seem to be happy enough. A few managed to piss off the wrong people, and they ended up dead.” Isaac held up his hands. “I’m not saying that you will, but right now we don’t want to take chances.

“But enough about that. I’m calling because of Prime. I got the information Travis sent, and we’re going to move in on them soon. I’m not telling you when, but stay away from the Baymont Inn till then. We’ll all be happier. And one more thing? The moment we take out Prime and his people, the whole picture changes for you. Hardwick has Ray and his team in to handle Prime, right? So he won’t need Ray after that, and Ray knows it. Chances are, Ray will go after you since I’m sure that’s the real reason he’s here in the first place. Depending on how things go, he might kill Hardwick and Justice Fist too. We’ll see.”

I stared at the screen. “And what are we going to do then?”

“You’re not going to do anything. We’ll take care of it. If you can find out where he’s staying, that would be great. Don’t go searching for him, though. You know what he’s like.”

I don’t know what our expressions looked like, but Isaac burst out laughing.

“You’re kidding me. You don’t want to go after him yourself, do you?”

“No,” I began. “I –”

Rachel said, “How do you know I don’t?”

“You might get your chance. Knowing what’s going on upstairs, I’ve been expecting people to scrub the mission all week. So far, they haven’t.”

Thinking of the spaceships, I asked, “What is going on upstairs?”

Isaac took a breath and leaned back in his seat. “That’s given out on a ‘need to know’ basis.”

17 thoughts on “Graduation: Part 20”

  1. Ohhhh, great ep, and now that I can’t just keep reading, the endings are all going to feel like cliffhangers.

    I love Rachel taking Lee up on the music lessons but having to keep up her other training all the while.

    I’m not sure Isaac has shown his humour as much before, does this mean he is cracking under stress, or just becoming more comfortable with the league members?

    Travis isn’t going to like being told they can’t go “hunting”, as Lee has (sort of) suggested

  2. Giving guitar lessons and using the opportunity to test super hero reflexes is such a Lee thing to do. And yet, I see how it makes good sense.

  3. Getting caught up is good, knowing lot’s is going to happen in the next chapter (and we can’t read it yet) is awful…

    Keep up the amazing writing!

  4. Ok looks like Prime might be well connected to someone higher up. That or someone doesn’t want to help supers.

    And Lee is one mean teacher one way or the other, hopefully he is happier now that he can teach music now.

  5. Bill and daymon: I mostly find it funny to imagine Lee doing something like that, but it could be useful. If your power is becoming intangible, you’d want to do it without thinking.

    Jeremy/WA_side: It’s cool to have you both caught up. The bad thing about that is (at least in my experience) that it’s always more fun to read six entries or so than it is to read one and then wait.

    On the bright side, there’s something to be said for being there when the post is new.

  6. “Yep, those poor, poor legacy heroes, made the wrong kinda enemies…enough about that, let’s remind you about that immortal conspiracy of powered gangs in town, as well as the extremely effective capekiller hiding out with a very extended family with superpowers who don’t like you much.”

    Isaac is not a very comforting individual.

  7. One of the big classic pitfalls of legacy heroes is inheriting their predecessor’s enemies, at least that hasn’t happened much here yet apart from Man-Machine’s one-time thingy. So I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the Evil Beatnik hops out from behind a bush…

  8. All caught up and loving it! As others have said every episode ending is going to feel like a proper cliffhanger now. 🙁

    Can’t wait until Nick gets his armour back and is ready to kick some ass. Also i’m really looking forward to the space stuff (whenever that will be) and the Graduation.

  9. PG: Of course, Isaac isn’t paid to be comforting. He’s paid (in part) to keep them alive long enough that they’ll be useful. Scaring the crap out of them sometimes fits into the second mission.

    Mazzon: We really haven’t had many direct conflicts with legacy villains. An awful lot of them are either dead or in old age homes. That being said, one could argue that almost everything that’s happened so far is indirectly connected to Red Lightning — though admittedly that’s not quite the same thing.

    Kyle/Notto/Hg: The actual graduation should be memorable. That being said, there’s at least one other member of the League with parents who are aware of things — Daniel. Of course, he doesn’t go to Nick’s school, so yeah, moot point.

  10. @Hydrargentium: You just brought up an interesting point. The mental block could quickly become a severe liability if the kids have to go into action in front of their parents. We’ve seen how they fugue out for a few seconds while the block does its thing just by saying “I’m doing superhero stuff, Mom.” What are they going to do when they see their son/daughter using their powers publicly for an extended period of time while battling bad guys? Catatonia, or maybe wandering around obliviously while bullets, power blasts, and big-block chevies fly through the air around them? And we’ve already seen signs that Nick’s mom is trying to shake off the block. There are so many possibilities for Jim to throw at our favorite band of teenagers.

  11. ‘His stared at the computer screen on his desk.’

    ‘His’ should be ‘He’.

    I’m attempting a second re-read of this story a couple years after my last one, and the story’s just as good as I remember!

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