Turning Eighteen: Part 4

We talked more after that, but not much worth repeating.

What can you say that tops, “I’m an alien on the run from my people who, by the way, commit genocide as a hobby, and might stop by any day now?”

Near the end of lunch, I got a text message from Daniel. It said, “Dad says come by any time.”

Daniel’s dad had come home the day before. Major operations were over, the aliens contained or destroyed, and the Defenders could handle mopping up without him.

Rachel dropped me off at Daniel’s house. Daniel opened the door.

It felt like the first time in ages that I’d been over. In some ways it had.

I’d spent most of spring trying to pinpoint the problem with the Rocket suit’s arm that actually turned out to be in the chest, plus making more roachbots, and the communicators. We’d all spent a lot of time practising with Lee.  Between that, graduation, end of the semester papers,  and assignments, I struggled to think of the last time we’d just hung out.

“I know,” Daniel said. “I keep on waiting for the next call, the one that says Ray’s not dead, and the Cabal’s back, and we’ve all got to scramble or die.”

“Exactly. I’ve been waiting for that too.”

“Dad’s in his office.” Daniel pointed down the hall. The  basement door wasn’t far. “You know what we ought to do? Get together and watch movies like we did last summer.”

“I’d bet we’d get more people most nights this time around.”

“Count on it. Last summer we all barely knew each other. We can call Cassie after you’re done talking to my Dad.”

I went down to his office, noticing Daniel’s younger brother, and sister sitting on the couch in front of the TV in the basement.

His sister flashed the word, “hi” into my mind as I passed, but neither of them made any attempt to stop watching Nickelodeon. Presumably that episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender must have been particularly good. More likely, as with many little kids,  they couldn’t see any reason to stop watching TV.

I thought, “hi” back at her, but didn’t assume she’d be listening for a response. Walking a little further into the basement, I stepped into the office.

It wasn’t some kind of official superhero’s office. No trophies, keys to the city, or momentos from famous cases hung on the walls.

Shelf after shelf of books covered every available space. Most of them had to do with law, history, or political science, but the especially worn looking books had to do with religion, specifically Judaism. After World War 2, Daniel’s grandfather (the Mentalist) had become a rabbi. Daniel’s dad had kept the books.

Half of them weren’t even in English.

The dark, wooden bookshelves went all the way to the ceiling, but a few framed pictures had their own place. Most of them showed Mr. Cohen’s friends, either from law school or his time in army intelligence. One showed a few of them standing in front of a graffiti covered section of the Berlin wall. He’d been there before it fell.

He sat behind his desk, standing up, and closing his laptop as I walked through the door.

“Nick,” he held out his hand, and we shook. “How are you doing?”

“I just got back from seeing Lee,” I said.

He nodded. “And he told you what he really is, and your head is still spinning.”

“Yeah, I’d ask how you knew, but that’s obvious.”

He laughed. “I didn’t need telepathy for that. You turned eighteen today. That’s part of the deal. You need to know.”

“Who else knows? Everybody but me?”

“The original League, plus Larry, and I. There might be a few other people.”

“It’s really crazy. What am I supposed to do now? I’m obviously supposed to keep on learning from him, but am I also supposed to watch him in case he accidentally summons the end of everything?”

“No. That’ll happen, or it won’t. He’s managed to stay out of sight for a few thousand years now. I’m willing to trust he can do it for a few thousand more. In the short term, I look at it this way, any time he spends teaching you kids is time he’s not working as a mercenary. Think of it as your personal contribution to global stability.”

“I can see that.”

“Good. So what’s the real reason you’re here today?”

“I originally planned to talk about Sean. He basically murdered Ray, and I’m not at all sure what to do about it.”

30 thoughts on “Turning Eighteen: Part 4”

  1. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything, except maybe the selection of movies they watch, but I wonder if there was a squad in the old days devoted to capturing The Ghost. When an intangible spy is floatin’ through your base, who ya gonna call?

    And now we get to the Sean discussion. With a lawyer. Very appropriate.

    And the one was a rabbi? Good thing he wasn’t a Catholic priest. Can you imagine the guy in the confessional actually being able to read your mind right when you’re thinking about what you’ve done wrong?

    Probably helps Daniel’s dad be a good lawyer.

    He’s a lawyer, right? Been awhile since I read through that stuff.

  2. “Half of them weren’t even in English.”
    That line right there just screams “USA! USA!” so hard it left me dazzled for a moment…

  3. Psycho Gecko:
    During World War 2, it was mostly the Rocket and the original League who ended up trying to catch her. It’s a story that I think I want to tell in detail one of these days.

    It might be a pain if a Catholic priest had telepathy. On the bright side, it might save you the hassle of actually remembering what you did wrong.

    Related to that though, it’d be hugely convenient for anyone leading a congregation of any faith. You’d know what church politics are before they actually get a chance to hurt you. Plus, it would make counseling sessions easier. There are so many things that might be bothering you that you wouldn’t want to mention to your priest/pastor/rabbi (or therapist) that might actually be more important than the ones you do mention…

    Daniel’s dad up until recently worked as a prosecutor. I imagine it would be extremely useful, and help him prioritize (as in, work harder on the cases where the person is guilty).

    I thought about that as I wrote the line. In Europe, you’ve got no choice but learn more than one language. You’re mostly an hour or less away from someplace your native language won’t be spoken. By contrast, I’d have to drive for two or three days before I’d be someplace like that.

    Comically, I could also drive less than 15 minutes to find people in the city I live in that I actually can’t communicate with. I know German, Greek, and Hebrew at varying levels of incompetence, but you know what I ought to be learning? Spanish. Fortunately my kids started learning Spanish in school in Kindergarten. They’ll at least be prepared.

  4. Oh, come on, Jim. Two or three days? It’s only 11.5 hours from Holland, Michigan to Hull, Quebec, where the primary spoken language is French. Unless you drive like a granny…. 🙂


  5. Good point. I haven’t been to Quebec. When I’ve been in Canada, I’ve spent most of my time in Toronto (though I’ve visited Vancouver and Windsor).

    My main point though, is that it’s easier to get around without knowing other languages if you live here, and so even if you learn a new language the opportunity to practice with native speakers is harder to come by.

  6. Interesting. Wouldn’t the confidentiality issues of priests and lawyers clash with telepathy legally speaking?
    I.e. you are not allowed to reveal info given to you in a confession – but what if you’d already found out via telepathy before said person confessed? What about using telepathy in a courtroom to know exactly what would most influence the judges/jury and exactly which questions to ask of witnesses? And so on.

  7. Hmmmm. Belial, I suspect that what a telepath gleans from a confessor’s or client’s head OUTSIDE of a formal session would likely be as fair game as something that was overheard in a bathroom (where the speaker did not know that the listener was within earshot in the end stall). To that end, I believe (but am not certain) that the confidentiality privilege would automatically cover that same information once it was imparted formally to the telepath. Back to the bathroom example, if a lawyer overhears a person in the bathroom talk about shooting someone, and then meets with that same person as his or her legal counsel, and that person tells them the same thing about shooting someone that the lawyer overheard in the bathroom, the lawyer would then be bound to keep that information confidential, regardless of whether he or she knew it previously.


  8. Hydrargentium, I’m rather inclined to disagree to the comparison between overhearing something said in a bathroom and telepathy. In a bathroom, I know there is a possibility of someone hearing even if I don’t think anyone does, so I can choose to remain quiet about anything I wish to keep personal. In my thoughts, I can only hope nobody’s listening because there’s nothing I can do to keep the information any more private than that.
    In fact, I’d personally consider listening to someone’s thoughts without their expressed consent to be a gross invasion of privacy in the first place. After all, if one’s thoughts aren’t considered private then what possibly could be?

  9. Mind reading is not an “invasion” since you are essentially reading what the brain is transmitting anyway – you just got an ability to perceive thoughts much like someone with ears can perceive sounds.

    Compare to brain scans advanced enough to be both portable and work at range and databases of MRI images to thought patterns. A scanner like that reads your thoughts, or at least your emotions and intentions, without any sort of “invasion” into your brain.

  10. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Professor X is bald. STRESS!

    And Sean — COME-UPPANCE! or JUSTICE! Or whatever other word in caps that I can come up with that means you get your ass handed to you.

    (I don’t like Sean. Yes he’s just a punk-ass teenager with a lot of maturing to do. But so was his Dad and that guy couldn’t claim youth as an excuse. He seemed mostly to be just a jerk.)

  11. I may have taken this a bit differently then most of you. Being Jewish, and seeing all the books in a Rabbi’s study, my first reaction to “and some of them weren’t in English” was that they were in Hebrew, or Yiddish or even Aramaic. Of course, I could be wrong. Keep the good stuff coming !

  12. That’s pretty much what I was imagining. I didn’t say as much in the story because I wasn’t sure how deeply I should go into it. And anyway, to Nick even the Yiddish and Aramaic would look like Hebrew. That being said, I was also imagining a certain amount of German and French since there’s a lot of good reference material out there that hasn’t been translated.

  13. I’m a little late reading, but I think there’s a preposition missing in this sentence:
    “Rachel dropped me off Daniel’s house.”

  14. Notto Mention: Thanks again. I’m always amazed that I both make simple errors like that and that I fail to notice them when re-reading…

    Psychlone Ranger: A shotgun guitar? That’s wild. The mech, of course, is pretty cool. Utterly useless for fighting in its present form, but cool. Also, I did some minor editing of your links so that they’d work better…

  15. Jim: Edit away, mate. It’d been so long since I posted a comment here, I couldn’t remember how your comments section handles links.

  16. Sorry to be the less bright bulb here, but…..why exactly is Nick seeing Daniel’s dad about Sean??

    If he’s that busted up about what happened, he can summon Sean to a one on one, mano a mano showdown like what happened when Vaughn got into a fight with some kiddie punk over the Storm King name.

    I mean, what is Daniel’s dad gonna do about it?

  17. Bill: I know nobody asked me, but I kind of figured it was because Daniel’s dad is a lawyer, so he can help figure out the legally correct way to go about things?

  18. He’s also probably the legal counsel of the Hero’s League. Oh boy, here I go again…

    Ladies and Gentlemen of the Super Court Dimensional Justices Go!…The distinction of what is useable to a telepath in a court of law has been likened to a First Amendment issue by opposing counsel and snappy teethbrusher, Hydrargentium, where it can be used if overheard as if, for a telepath, there is no distinction between spoken words and thoughts.

    Instead, I direct Captain Justice and the associate Justices to the 4th Amendment, which states “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    If we hold a person’s mind to be a part of their person and as much a possession as their house, papers, and effects, then going into their mind is to be subject to the same protections that would require a warrant.

    Further, I would cite the Fifth Amendment, aka Da Fif, particularly the part that says that no person can be compelled to be a witness against himself. People can not control their thoughts in the same manner that they control their speech. I have just lost The Game. Therefore, a man near opposing legal counsel should not be held accountable for what he thinks, even in opposition to what he says, as it violates this right fundamentally.

    I posit that someone listening in and using the stray thoughts of other individuals is in violation of both of these rights when it comes to a legal matter. In fact, because of that right to be secure in their persons and positions, legal action may be a course of action taken against someone who is trespassing on the rights of another. I certainly don’t want anyone else looking in on any fantasies of mine involving a donkey, two jars of honey, and a whip.

    What can I say, I’ve always wanted to deliver honey on assback.

    In conclusion, that sounded way too serious. Daniel’s looking into the mind of the mayor doesn’t violate this. Nick was attacked psychicly, he recognized, meaning that in the event of criminal investigation, a look into the mayor’s mind, even prompted by an illegal reading, would fall under inevitable discovery, where a police investigation would have led to that same evidence even if, in this circumstance, it was originally obtained unlawfully.

    As for a right to privacy itself in everday life..well, I plead the Ninth, which no one seems to remember exists:

    “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

  19. Bill: You’re not being a dim bulb. I haven’t put that into the story yet except indirectly. It’ll be a little more obvious in the next post. The fact that Daniel’s dad is a lawyer is definitely in there though. The “why not just beat Sean up” issue is even touched on.

  20. @J Renzo (and my fellow LON fans)

    Am I the ONLY one who thinks Sean should get a medal for performing a public service and ridding Grand Lake of that vile loser Ray?

    I mean yeah, he’s a whiny brat and I’m sure by the next chapter I’ll want Nick to soundly thrash him, but the way I see it, he simply took initiative.

  21. @Psycho Gecko:

    In fact, you are correct. My original posting was only part of the argument. In any reasonable world’s America, information gleaned by telepathy would likely fall under the same jurisdiction as wiretapping and remote surveillance. Which brings up the spectre of judges issuing warrants for the collection of thought-based information by telepaths. Law enforcement can circumvent most, if not all privacy rights if they can convince a judge there is probable cause. How much more private would the law consider your thoughts than your private actions behind closed and locked 3-inch steel doors? And then there’s the fact that most personal privacy laws only apply to duly appointed law enforcement officials. A cop can’t break into someone’s house and remove video evidence of a crime being committed and have be admissible in court, but they can (in most circumstances) use that same video evidence if it has been supplied (especially anonymously) by a private citizen, even if that citizen violated the offenders privacy to obtain it. Of course, the offender could then insist that the private citizen be charged with breaking and entering, possession of stolen property, etc., but most wouldn’t, since it would pretty much verify that the video really is legit.

    Oh, this law-ing stuff is so complicated!


  22. And since I am embarrassed by my own typos, allow me to correct the missing apostrophe in “the offender[‘]s privacy”, and the missing object pronoun in “have [it] be admissible in court”.

    I must be more thought than I tired.



  23. In all fairness to Daniel’s siblings, every episode of Avatar: the Last Airbender is THAT good.

    Great work, keep it up! This is by far my favorite web

  24. I really don’t see why anything needs to be done here…
    It’s hardly setting a dangerous precedent to turn away when someone kills a loved ones murderer after said murderer has escaped police custody

  25. What’s his problem? He seemed to have no issues when Lee killed Prime, he even helped finish the job.

    1. For Nick there’s a difference between killing someone in battle vs. killing your unconscious enemy as they’re lying on the ground.

      Taking this completely out of character and into the real world… When I was training seriously in the martial arts, we were told that if we killed someone in self-defense, we were legally okay. Killing someone who is no longer a threat puts you in jail for murder.

      That said, Sean’s actions were always supposed to be ambiguous. There are arguments for and against killing Ray. It’s ambiguity made possible by a world where you pretty much need vigilantes to have any chance at justice.

      Is that a better world? I leave that question to the reader.

  26. Way late to the party on this, but the author has made an argument (via Mr Beacham) that vigilante justice basically invalidates the bill of rights… Which includes the aforementioned cited amendments. ^^

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