Taking Control: Part 2

The next day I sat down to eat breakfast with Jeremy in Hardwick Hall’s cafeteria. My first class was organic chemistry at 9 am—which seemed cruel and unusual punishment given when I went to bed.

“Organic chemistry? Don’t sophomores take that? And it’s supposed to be a hard class.” Jeremy looked up from his cereal. He’d dripped a little milk on his t-shirt.

“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s only the first week, but it doesn’t seem that bad. I tested out of so much stuff that I’m taking everything out of order.”

“Yeah? I saw your schedule. It’s all two or three hundred level classes. I don’t know how you’re going to survive.”

“The three hundred level classes are all math or engineering, so that’s okay. I’m actually a little more worried about the criminology class I’ve got to take.”

Jeremy started laughing. When he stopped, he said, “I wouldn’t worry about it. You’re going to be fine. I’m going to need the help. I’ve been looking over some of the stuff in my calculus book, and I’ve got no idea how I’m going to get to point where I understand the stuff in the back. Some of the stuff on the syllabus for two weeks from now looks pretty scary.”

I put my fork into my scrambled eggs.

I was doing this all wrong. It was nice of the Stapledon people to get me out of classes that would bore me, but I hadn’t intended to look like this much of a freak.

How long would it be before he connected “The Rocket: inventor and genius” with his roommate who was always gone when the Rocket was around, and just happened to be surprisingly smart?

Not for the first time that week, I told myself that I should have roomed with Vaughn.

We’d talked about it, but between school, the team, and the Stapledon program, it sounded like a little too much togetherness.

At the same time, if I were rooming with Vaughn, I wouldn’t have to hide anything at all. It would have made everything so much simpler.

“What did you see last night?” Jeremy asked.

“When I went out to watch fight? Nothing worth mentioning. They were all running around on rooftops, and I couldn’t get up high enough to see anything until the police came—”


A hand touched my shoulder. I turned to find Courtney standing next to my chair.

“Oh, hey Courtney.”

It still took me half a second to recognize her, and that was despite the fact that she was wearing clothes from high school—a Guardian t-shirt, and jeans. Well, the jeans couldn’t be from high school—too small, but I remembered the shirt.

Now it looked like she was deliberately wearing something oversized.

“I was hoping to catch you. Do you have time to talk?”

“I’ve got class in…” I checked a clock on the wall, “Crap. Five minutes. I can call you afterward.”

She bit her lip. “That’ll work. Class goes till 10, right?”


She said good-bye, and walked after a couple of friends. I got up from the table with my tray. I was going to have to run to make it on time.

Jeremy watched her go. “How do you know someone who looks like that?”

“High school,” I said, and left.

* * *

Courtney said she’d leave her door partly open, and that’s how I recognized the room.

The girls’ side of DePuit Hall smelled better than the guys’ side, or if not precisely better, more strongly of perfume and hairspray. Whoever the R.A. was had put more effort into aesthetics too. In my hall, the R.A. taped white cardboard with our names written in marker to the doors. Here, the names were neatly written on cutouts of the school mascot “Wavie.”

Granted, it was still kind of stupid to have the school’s mascot be a wave, but it looked better than white cardboard.

I knocked on the door, and said, “Hey, it’s Nick.”

Courtney opened the door all the way. “Hi, come in and sit anywhere. Michele’s got class.”

The room was a testimony to random roommate assignments. Above Courtney’s desk hung a poster of Guardian and the Midwest Defenders—including Daniel’s dad.

Meanwhile, a series of pictures of men and women stuck to the wall above the lower bunk. Almost all of the people wore cowboy hats. Many held guitars, and a few were on stage.

I guessed they must be country musicians. I didn’t recognize any of them.

Not being able to think of anything else, I said, “How’s it going?”

“Not good,” she said.

From the tone of her voice, I believed her.

“Did you know Keith’s been going out with someone for a month? I saw it on Facebook.”

“No,” I said, hoping that she hadn’t called me over to talk about that.

She didn’t say anything more for a little while. Then she shut the door, and said, “You can sit down.”

They had a carpet on the floor, and an old, green couch.

I sat on the couch. Courtney sat on the chair by her desk.

“Did you hear the news this morning? They made power juice a controlled substance.”

19 thoughts on “Taking Control: Part 2”

  1. I just realized that we haven’t heard anything about the “Nude Heroes League” in a while. How is the lawsuit going?

  2. And now all the juicers will become criminals. Superpowered criminals, actually. That, or they’ll just decide to make it permanent somehow, creating a market for anyone who has access to an Impregnator. Looks like Nine’s gonna raise some funds.

  3. it was only a matter of time before power juice got to be a controlled substance. Nick, be a good roommate and offer to tutor Jeremy in calculus.

  4. Emote Control: I’d figure nowhere. From what I understand, doing that sort of thing is totally legal. Someone with money could probably make themselves enough of a pain that it might be easier to give up than fight, but they probably wouldn’t win if it went to court.

    That said, specifics about it will probably come up in the story at some point. For the characters it’s only been a month or two, and lawsuits can move slowly.

    PG/Captain Mystic/Fishface: It’s been a while since I picked up with this particular theme (can you/should you control power juice?). There are a lot of ways it can go, and I’m assuming it goes differently in different countries.

  5. So, she no longer has access to power juice and is wearing oversized clothes? Look like someone’s body control is going a bit haywire. I guess it would be good for Nick to learn how to build a general-purpose power impregnator, anyways. I wonder how much she knows about the current Heroes League, and hope she isn’t desperate enough to try blackmail so soon.

  6. And Psychic Gecko nails the whole problem with government “controlled substances” regulation. And worse, this isn’t dope, where the users are going to be slow and stupid and easy to catch. The people using this stuff are going to be POWERFUL…. and DESPERATE.

    This is your brain on government power, kids.

  7. Not all bad.

    I mean Controlled doesn’t mean illegal. So those people that want to use the ‘sauce’ just have to register with the gov’t for example. When I use this I can FLY. Or when I use this I can shoot electric farts… granted the second power wouldn’t be all that practical. The point is the government as far as we know didn’t make it illegal, just controlled… Hehe… imagine going to wait for your refill @ Walgreens.

  8. If I was the Government I’d make it so Juciers could register for legal use if they were willing to demonstrate what thier power was and aquire the juice from government Approved pharmacies. THis would allow the gov’ to keep an eye on dangerous users and insure that the juice wasn’t cut with anything addictive or unsafe, Which would be a pretty big worry if you were buying it off the street, I mean even one mouldy beaker used by a careless chemist could ruin some juicers day and when they have a bad day A whole lotta other people are going to have bad days too.

  9. If it were that simple, Fishface, they’d all be legalized for the same reasons. Plus tax revenue and the ability to tell people what’s a safe maximum dose while making it just as illegal to juice, dope, or toke and drive as it is to drink and drive.

    But you’re forgetting the political side of things, good reasoning has nothing to do with the actions of whoever is most likeable in a certain number of counties in their state.

  10. As far as the lawsuit goes, as long as the studio dotted their Is and crossed their Ts, they’re covered under parody law. Pop-culture parodies are all the rage in the pornography industry right now, from Pirates, to Star Trek, to Who’s Naylin Paylin. Life imitates art, and vice versa.

  11. Where I think the problem comes in with that lawsuit for the studio, is that the characters were not of legal age at the time. Which technically makes the film child pornography, if I’m not mistaken. They may have been at the legal age of consent, but none was given.

  12. Charles, very good point.

    In our world at least, child pornography is in a bit of a grey area when it comes to fictional characters, even just drawings that may not be meant to be anyone irl. I think at least one person’s been convicted for something like that, but I’d look into it more if I were you. I don’t know if it’s state or federal, for one thing.

    Given the nature of superhero secret IDs, maybe it falls more under that area of thinking. I would suggest that most people just don’t know for sure if the heroes are minors, except that the Mayor and the heroes he had were looking around the high school for them. That said, it could have been meant to represent the heroes over the age of 18 instead of whatever age they actually are. A confusing distinction, but one I think I’ve seen used in a couple of circumstances, actually.

    Which sounds much much worst than I intended. I hope you know what I mean. Kinda like they set it after the people are already 18, like in some fanfiction involving the South Park boys in gay relationships (Cartman and Kenny? Seriously? No, seriously?) or Syndrome and Violet from The Incredibles (Or Synlet. Seriously…) that doesn’t necessarily show sex. Come on, like y’all don’t run into stuff just as strange on DeviantArt too, or elsewhere on the internet.

    Talk about a sensitive area of discussion. Anyone not on the “Going Overboard, Grab the Pitchforks” side of the discussion gets made to sound like a NAMBLA supporter. My thinking personally is that child molestation and abuse and all is a very bad thing. But so is your kid shooting themselves with a handgun. We still have handguns all over the place, and kids can live safely around them if proper, reasonable protections are made. We aren’t pushing the line of entrapment with special televised specials where someone pretending to be a kid starts ordering guns from online just to arrest the gunmakers. Sane, reasonable measures can be taken to protect kids that don’t involve pulling a gun on every adult they know.

    (PS, it’s the entrapment part of those “To Catch a Predator” things I’m wary of. After all, should a judge overturn even one of those for that reason, every single one of those guys to ever get caught that way gets a new appeal attempt that may go their way this time. The problem with catching a criminal, even an utterly despicable one, at any cost is that the cost really turns out to be not putting them in jail because you screwed up the process. I want child rapists in jail legally without the ability to get out of it because someone cut corners. That goes double for you, Pope Palpatine the 1st)

    (PPS, see, this whole thing would have been a lot more on topic and shorter, but I felt I needed to make sure my defense was all covered before someone started accusing me of something just because I’m not obsessed with burning down a village to save it from child molestors. Gotta cover my back, yo.)

  13. I’m pretty sure the studio can make a VERY good case for assuming the Hero’s League are of the age of majority. If they were minors, the govt CERTAINLY wouldn’t let them risk their lives fighting supervillains on a regular basis, and they’re not in one of the ‘little kid’ supergroups like the Junior Defenders. Also, pulling the “some of them are/were minors” card means entering their real identities into the public record.

  14. And beside, the important thing is that the ACTORS are over the age of 18, not the people they are meant to portray. There are multiple movies (pornographic and otherwise) that have actors that are 18/19/20 portraying a character that is supposedly 16/17 and they get away with showing those actors in nude scenes.

  15. As a side note, way after the fact, is Courtney’s roommate’s name Michele, or Michelle? I believe you spelled it with two els when C mentioned her before.

    Is there only one freshman dorm? At UNC freshmen were scattered all over the place. As the students advanced, the lottery threw more and more of them out of the dorms. So that meant that space for freshmen (the only year you were guaranteed a room) were everywhere.

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