Orientation: Part 4

The cafeteria had more than one level, allowing people on the edges to take in everyone on the main level of the room. Vaughn and Cassie sat together at a table with a view, but also one that wasn’t more than ten feet from an exit.

I wondered if that was intentional or accidental. Lee would have approved, though he probably would have positioned Vaughn with his back to the wall and Cassie nearer to the edge.

She’d work better as a lookout because she could take a lot of damage and still report back, giving Vaughn time to counterattack.

Not that any of us were likely to be attacked in the cafeteria—at least not this early in the semester.

I sat down next to Vaughn, thinking that I’d spent far too much time training in the last year.

“Who were you talking to?” Vaughn’s gaze followed Courtney and her friends down the steps.

“Remember Courtney from high school? Dated Keith?”

“No kidding? She’s looking really good.”

“Power juice?” Cassie asked.

“Can’t say for sure, but I’d bet on it.”

“Oh yeah,” Vaughn said. “Shapeshifting. Appearance only, right?”

“I think. But that’s with power juice. If someone made it permanent, she might be able to do more.”

“You know what would be crazy,” Vaughn said. “Shapeshifting girlfriend. Think about it.”

“Right,” Cassie said. “She could shapeshift into a guy, and no one would ever guess you were dating.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“What I’m wondering,” Cassie said, “is whether we should talk to the program about her. Everyone and their dog can make powers permanent these days. I told you about that, right?”

When she’d been in Washington D.C., she’d learned that the military had a power impregnator, and she’d seen an ancient (probably Abominator made) version when she’d broken into a research facility owned by the Nine. I hoped they hadn’t learned anything from it. That would not be good. The Nine were scary.

“Everyone except us,” Vaughn said.

He was right. Our power impregnator had been modified, and then damaged during the summer.

“We probably should talk to someone,” I said. “Impersonating people could be really useful. Think Mystique in the X-Men comics.”

“See,” Vaughn said. “Blue and naked is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind.”

“God,” Cassie muttered, “and you were wondering why you and Brittany broke up?”

* * *

I saw my adviser Monday morning. Not Dr. Nation, but my official college advisor Dr. Farkas. Well, one of my advisors. I had two because I had two majors—chemistry and electrical engineering.

Dr. Farkas wasn’t taking it well.

I sat in his office while he opened my folder, and stared at the papers inside. I occupied myself by looking at the books that covered all four walls of his office. To judge from them, chemistry was his only interest.

“I don’t think you can do this,” he said. “I don’t like to say that because obviously you’re very bright, but majoring in electrical engineering and chemistry could easily result in flunking out of both programs. Aside from which, you’ll never get through both programs in four years if that’s your goal.”

“I… I think I can. You’re looking at my initial schedule. It’s changed. I took some tests a few weeks ago and it turns out I can skip a bunch of classes in both programs. I’ve actually got a list here… I’ve divided up the rest of them by year and made a schedule for the next four years, and it should work.”

I took it out and put it on top of his folder. I had a photocopied copy for each advisor in case they hadn’t gotten it.

He read it. “I’ve never seen any student test out of this many classes.”

“The registrar okayed it and so did my engineering advisor,” I said. “I can more or less skip the first year of each program and go straight into sophomore courses. If you look at it, you’ll find I skip more electrical engineering courses.”

After a call to the registrar, and a call to my engineering advisor, he signed my paper, and I was free.

The Chemistry Department’s professors all had offices in the same section of Davidson Hall so I walked out to find a lot of students standing or sitting at the tables in the common area between offices, and generally waiting for their advisors.

Courtney stood in a line next to a door. It wasn’t a surprise. We’d been in AP (advanced placement) chemistry together.

She didn’t seem to see me. I thought about it. I had questions for her. If I caught her at the right time, I could ask them.

When I turned to check on her, she’d just stepped into her advisor’s office.

I decided to wait. It wouldn’t be long.

25 thoughts on “Orientation: Part 4”

  1. I think I’m having an influence on Vaughn. Let’s hope he doesn’t go crazy and become a supervillain.

  2. Everyone and their dog? “THERE’S NO NEED TO FEAR! UNDERDOG… is present and accounted for. Astro? Scoobydoo?”

    “they’re out back smoking reefer, teacher.”

    “Thank you, Dynomutt.”

  3. ok… was totally not getting the picture you were Mazon. also thats the great thing about these comments is that Jim can rip out text from the comments to build his tale

  4. “Not that any of us were likely to be attacked in the cafeteria—at least not this early in the semester.” The second day, maybe, but not the first day of orientation.

  5. Mazzon:
    It’s because of the loaded phrase “It wouldn’t be long.” It’s like “Nothing could possibly go wrong!” or “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing!”

    As for Courtney, she was dating a chemistry geek, was implied to be geeky herself, and geeks tend to flock to likeminded geeks. Her being a chem major herself isn’t so surprising in retrospect, though I think we all assumed she was a superhero geek instead. And being a chemistry geek means manufacturing her own juice is not only plausible, but likely. I know I wouldn’t trust anyone elses.

    Regarding earlier comments on the eventual controlled status of The Juice, even if brewing it becomes illegal, that doesn’t mean the ingredients are going to become illegal, just potentially more regulated. Take Meth and psuedoephedrine for example. And as a real live chemist, she’d have a lot of legitmate uses for the equipment and chemicals needed, ensuring her continued personal supply.

    Can I use the word geek any more in this comment? You bet your geekin’ hindquarters I can!

  6. Hi All, long time reader and addict of Legion of Nothing. Jim you are one of the best pushers on the net, I send way too much time waiting for my Monday and Thursday hits 🙂 Thank you

    I was curious about the Juice, does it just have to be drunk, or would using an atomizer and putting it in an inhaler work as well? If it has to get into the bloodstream to work the inhaler would be faster … I think

    I’m guessing it has to be taken in somehow though it would also be interesting if someone knowledgeable in chemistry was able to to make slap patches with it so if gets absorbed through the skin. then again that sort of screams slappers from batman beyond.

    Anyway Thanks again Jim

  7. Welcome to Block Piccolo. And yes, Jimmy Zee is one of the best fiction pimps I know.

    ” You know what would be crazy,” Vaughn said. “Shapeshifting girlfriend. Think about it.”

    “Right,” Cassie said. “She could shapeshift into a guy, and no one would ever guess you were dating.”

    ROTLMAO!!!!! This is an easy nominee for top 20 LoN lines.

  8. I must say Vaughn has much to learn. When someone tries to shoot down your kinky innuendo, the correct response is to treat it as if the other person was playing along.

    So instead of “not what I meant”, something like “oh I didn’t know you were into that sort of thing” perhaps…

  9. @ Mazzon – Dude, Vaughn was WAY more to learn before he gets to proper innuendo etiquette.

    For starters, he needs to grasp that not everything is “Girls, girls, girls, girls….”.

    Man, we are sooooooo lucky the Evil Beatnik didn’t take Vaughn over; as he’s so easy pickings.

  10. “You know what would be crazy,” Vaughn said. “Shapeshifting girlfriend. Think about it.”

    “Right,” Cassie said. “She could shapeshift into a guy, and no one would ever guess you were dating.”

    “So you like to things about me and another guy? Sounds like she’d be a good girlfriend for you too.”

    “Not what I meant,” Cassie said.

  11. PG: Well, if nothing else, it’s nice to see other people get caught with typos online.

    Bill: It’s sometimes fun to let conversations like that happen. It amuses me at least.

    Piccolo: Thanks for commenting and for reading.

    As for the question about alternative delivery methods for power juice… Well, no one is currently doing that (that we’ve encountered), but I wouldn’t be surprised if patches and inhalers began to show up as power juice becomes a known quantity.

    Mazzon/Captain Mystic/Luke: I certainly didn’t intend to give the impression she was doing her advisor. Anyway, there are people in line next to the door, and though I didn’t say so, the doors have windows in them… So that’s unlikely.

    Luke: It’s not uncommon for people to be geeky in more than one way. That’s definitely the case with Courtney.

    Notto: That’s pretty much exactly what Nick was assuming.

    Saru: I haven’t thought of Dynomutt in years. I must have spent way too much time watching Saturday morning cartoons in the 1970’s.

    DWwolf: That’s not unlikely.

  12. I guess archeology can be handled by Captain Caveman while all the Entymology majors hang out with Atom Ant.

    I’m not sure what major has to deal with El Kabong. He just runs around with Mexican stereotypes attacking the wrong person while carrying an acoustic guitar. I guess he’s political science at Oral Roberts University.

    Anyway, other alternative comebacks from Vaughn:

    “You’re already thinking of her being a guy. You want dibs?”

    “Or I could just date you and some people would think I was with a guy.”

    “But EVERYONE would hear her moan.”

    “Don’t like to think of me dating anyone else, sweetie?”

    “If you like the idea of me and another guy so much then we should all get together for a late night philosophy study group so we can have some fun the Athenian way and discuss what Socrates meant when he asked ‘Who’s your daddy?'”

    By the way, it’s nice to see Nick having to actually account for his abilities in some manor to other people. I kinda think it’s weird when certain heroes or villains are inexplicable unique geniuses just out of the blue and it’s left at that. In Nick’s case, we see that he still has to deal with college courses despite being able to make power armor, laser guitars, and exploding roach spybots, and he got there from learning from his grandfather.

    Contrast that with Peter Parker, a smart student who went on to become a photographer who also somehow managed to build a compact webshooter system that can allow a man to swing from building to building reliably and not risk running out of ammunition for long periods of time. Somehow he figured out something in high school in the 60s out of the blue that is fairly unique. I mean, later on you got Tony Stark to make something similar, but that’s to be expected. At least Stark’s life growing up wasn’t shown where he just miraculously starts inventing crap at the age of 15 or 16.

    As much as I love The Flash’s Rogues, I still gotta come down on them. Leonard Snart leaves his abusive dad and his little sister alone in some really cold place, goes off into the world, and somehow, even over Mr. Freeze, becomes the sole person to figure out how to freeze things to absolute zero. Heck, the original Mirror Master figured out all kinds of awesome things to do with mirrors…somehow. Just out of the blue. Teleportation via mirrors, access to a mirror dimension, turning people into mirrors, all kinds of illusions.

    They all just don’t seem the “brilliant mind to make a major breakthrough that no one else has replicated” types and we’re supposed to believe they all did such a thing out of nowhere.

    Even if Nick is just a really smart guy without being a supergenius, we still have the fact that he had to learn, and he has to learn more, and the world acknowledges he put in the work. Ok, tantrum over.

  13. Tune in next week for the next instalment of PG’s “Rant in a Box”.

    I can’t help but feel Nick’s interest in Courtney might be taken the wrong way and land Nick in a heap of trouble with Hayley…

  14. Lingy:
    Especially since she’s so sensitive about her own shape-shifting, and can only turn into a furry. 😛

  15. Psycho Gecko’s voice issues out from a 2’x2′ cardboard box on the floor, “And another thing, Lingy, what’s the deal with all the jokes about airplane peanuts?! The only nuts they have on airplanes these days are the souvenir photos you can buy from the scanner agents!”

    As for a story, Bill, shush. I’m doing things and stuff at my own pace. I have a trained team of monkeys locked into a room full of typewriters working full time. Unfortunately, we’re a bit behind because the only thing they managed to put together for me was the entire works of William Shakespeare. Meanwhile, here’s a real life superhero story for ya, despite it being the next link that ISN’T to a story from me:


  16. Farkas (pronounced farkash) – hungarian for wolf. Wonder if he’s got a secret identity…(ok, it’s a common hungarian name, but hey!)

  17. Algae, that’s actually useful to know in regards to Skyrim’s quests for the Companions. A bit of a giveaway for one of the characters.

  18. Ah, memories! My older brother was told, by his academic advisor, that he wouldn’t be allowed to triple major.

    I didn’t ask permission to triple major, I just went and did it. Math, physics, and philosophy. Two majors without much overlap in the coursework will get you funny looks, and *no* academic advisor takes freshmen’s claims of competence seriously.

    Nice little touch of realism there.

  19. I’ve spent enough time in academia that it was very easy to imagine.

    My dad taught political science for years, and I went and got degrees in religion, sociology, and information systems.

  20. You use ‘advisor’ almost exclusively except there’s one instance of ‘adviser’.

    I suppose it’s good that Vaughn offers up the obvious, I likely needed that slap down from Cassie as much as him. Incidentally, how did their power impregnator get damaged over the summer? I thought it had been disassembled long ago, after Vaughn used it. Did Nick get the pieces from the one that Ray had, and damage theirs in trying to “improve” it or something?

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