Cassie: Part 15

Sam scried out the rooms behind the doors. Most of the place appeared to be a workroom—it was some kind of lab—but there were people locked in a storage room just off the main room.

There were seven of them, four girls, three guys, all around our age. A bucket sat in the corner. I couldn’t see details in the water basin, but I could guess what the bucket was for.

“I don’t like this,” Sam said. “The Nine? Without backup?”

“We can take them. It’s not like we’re storming their headquarters. This is a lab. Worst case scenario, we’re facing a bunch of guards, and maybe a scientist. Besides, we can’t leave them like that.”

Sam shook her head, face lit by a bluish glow from the basin. “That’s not the worst case scenario. The worst case scenario is if one of the Nine is there, and the scrying missed it.”

“Doubt it,” Rod said. “None of the Nine are wizards.”

“Right now,” Sam said. “They used to have the Scarlet Sorcerer.”

Rod shrugged. “In the Sixties, yeah.”

“Look,” I said. “We can’t leave people locked up. How much do you want to bet they all passed the powers test? Do you want to leave them for the Nine?”

“No,” Sam stared into basin. “But if the Nine are here in D.C., this is a big deal. Someone needs to know we’re going.”

“Hey, if that’s all we need, I’ll call the Liberators.”

Sam and Rod said, “What?”

“The Rocket set up my phone so it could join their network. I’ll call them.”

“You seem so normal,” Sam said.

“Compared to what?”

Rod gave a brief smile. “The Young Liberators. I can’t stand most of those guys. They’re all Compound kids. Trained as supers from birth, and probably never saw the inside of a public school, you know?”

“Got it.”

I pulled out my phone, and clicked on my last phone call—the one from Liberator HQ. I hoped things wouldn’t get weird.

“You’re not just listening to me because of my Dad, are you?”

“No,” Rod said, “we’re listening to you despite your dad. Most legacy supers are jerks.”

And that’s when Liberator HQ picked up.

“Liberators,” a voice said. It sounded like the last guy I’d talked to.

“This is Captain Commando. I’m with Red Hex and Troll. We’ve found an outpost of the Nine, and we’re going in. We’d like backup if you’ve got anyone free.”

He paused long enough that I thought I’d lost the call.

“Are you serious? The Nine? Can’t it wait until tomorrow?”

“Their henchmen are kidnapping kids. They might not be there tomorrow.”

“Then good luck. Just like I said earlier, I can’t guarantee anything, but I’ll pass your request along.”

“Got it. Bye.”

“Wait a second, Captain. Are you the girl the League brought back from Brazil about fifteen years ago?”

“If I say yes, will that get me backup?”

He laughed. “Wish I could say yes. Just wondering. I was with the Liberators back then. The original Captain brought the girl back to DC, and we never saw her again after that.”

“Huh,” I said. “Good question.”

Then I hung up.

“We’re not getting backup,” I said, “but he’ll pass the request along.”

Sam’s face tightened for a moment. “They’re so useless.”

* * *

Twenty minutes later we stood in front of the sub-basement doors, shining a flashlight on the nameplate that just said, “9.” No other lights shone in the hall either because the emergency lights had run out of juice, or because they didn’t want emergency lights to work.

A thin line of light ran across the bottom of the two doors.

We had a plan for this.

Rod said, “Watch out.”

Sam and I moved to the side. There was no transformation. Rod didn’t grow, strain, or shapeshift. One moment he stood there as a human in a black longcoat. The next, he stood in front of the doors as a troll, bending his legs, and crouching uncomfortably as his head and shoulders hit the ceiling of the hallway.

He pulled his arm back, and punched the doors.

They bent, falling inward with a clatter. Rod stepped inside, and we followed him in.

When we’d looked at the main room in the scrying basin, I’d thought it was a lab, but I hadn’t looked closely. The basin bleached out colors, and the bubbles in the water didn’t help. Look, I couldn’t see clearly through that thing.

It wasn’t a lab—not the kind Nick’s got in HQ. It’s kind of the opposite. It wasn’t for making new stuff. It was for analyzing old stuff.

It had computers and electronic devices that I didn’t recognize at all, but also stone statues, chunks of wall (all of them with writing), clay tablets, and other things.

Directly in front of me sat a chair-like device made of rusted metal. The shape reminded me of a power impregnator—if you’d buried it, and dug it up one hundred years later.

A saw lay on the table next to it along with pieces of the impregnator’s casing.

They’d been taking it apart.

20 thoughts on “Cassie: Part 15”

  1. Oh *various colourful, loud and anatomically incorrect cursewords*… and a bucket of rat poop!!

  2. Yeah what Adam said.
    Also maybe Cassie should get on the phone, call Vaughn and ask him to check and see if anyone has been going through his family’s “basement” again.

  3. How did you think Awesome Abe got his superpowers?

    I think they’re in for a big, bad surprise too. Old statues, clay tablets, and wall chunks with ancient writing on them are the kind of thing someone analyzes related to magical going-ons. Also, you’d think that for a group running around with one of the New Heroes League, they’d realize what it could mean to say

    “They used to have the Scarlet Sorcerer.”

    Rod shrugged. “In the Sixties, yeah.”

    Also, since she was born in Brazil, does that mean that Cassie can make a joke about “giving someone a Brazilian” if she swings her sword at them?

    Also, new typos comin’ at ya: ” Most of the place appeared to be a workrooms” so lose the “a” there and a possible typo, if not just slightly awkward seeming to me
    “One moment he stood there as a human in a black longcoat. In the next, he stood in front of the doors as a troll,” Where you might have meant “The next” not “In the next”

    And I like to think that Batman would have bitch-slapped a superhero for saying something like “Are you serious? The Nine? Can’t it wait until tomorrow?” Good example of Liberators being a jerks.

  4. *Rides in on a Tyrannosaurus Rex that wears a cape, a pair of glasses, and holds a dictionary in its little claws.* Have no fear, The Saurus is here!

  5. Adam Barnes/Christopher/captain mystic/kntwriter: And the funny thing is that from my point of view, the interesting parts of “what’s in the room” are only half finished.

    For me, one of the things about writing the short stories is making it worth writing them in a “moving the main story forward” sense. Basically my ideal is to give people a feel for the part of the person that people don’t see through Nick, but also to give introduce things that will be used later.

    I leave it to you to guess what those things will be.

    PG: Thanks for the fixes.

    Actually with regards to the “Brazilian,” it’s Cassie’s country of origin mostly mildly amuses me to reference “The Boys from Brazil.” Not that I’m planning to have any Hitler clones appear, but given the common topics (cloning, mysterious children’s origins, and Nazis), it suggested itself.

    Admittedly, the fact that it amuses me does not mean it rises to the status of an actual joke.

    With regards to the Liberator HQ guy… To be fair to him, they’re currently fending off sea monsters all over the city, so they don’t want to weaken themselves. That said, yes, I’d be amused to watch Batman’s response to the same comment.

  6. I’m back and I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year 🙂

    Just caught up, and I have to say its been a huge disappointment….ah, who am I kidding? Loved reading it all 🙂

    Found a minor mistake in this one though Jim;

    “This a lab.”

    Should be “This is a lab.” I think?

  7. Thanks for noticing. Fixed.

    Hope you (and all my readers) enjoyed the holidays too. Me, I’m very much back to work at the moment.

  8. They’re starting to run low on people who don’t yet have their own power impregnator, basically just the honest guys left.
    Maybe they should just make the blueprints PD, since the cat’s out of the bag anyway.

  9. Hg: I’m glad someone else thought of it.

    Mazzon: It almost is. There’s a non-working version that was released online at one point in the story. I take as a given that groups with appropriate expertise would eventually figure out how to make it a working version. Eventually one of them will make it publicly available somehow…

  10. You wrote “The worst case scenario is if one of the Nine are there.” Is that supposed to be one of the Nine is there?

    Also, I love reading this. Thanks.

  11. Another year’s worth of story binge-read. I only have two years material left before I have to wait for the next installment like everyone else 🙁

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