Taking Control: Part 3

“No, I didn’t.” I’d been following the whole thing obviously, but not through the news.

Well, a little through the news, but mostly through the Michigan Heroes Alliance’s emails. The various states’ Heroes Alliance groups had come out against it.

Still, I’d originally heard about the change last spring. I wondered what took them so long.

Courtney barely gave me time to finish my sentence. “I thought they’d do something eventually, but not without more warning.”

“You should be okay, right? You keep your shape even without taking it, and you’re making your own power juice anyway.”

She started to say something, stopped, and then said, “It’s not that simple. They’re going to watch who purchases certain ingredients now, and I’ve been… experimenting. Plus being able to use my powers is just better.”

I thought about what she’d said. “Experimenting?”

She shook her head. “Nothing weird. I wanted to find out what I could do.”

“What did you find out?”

“A lot. I can control what’s going on inside my body more than I thought. For example, I can change how sensitive my fingertips are, and I can stop alcohol from making me drunk.”

“Huh. Do you think you were metabolizing it faster, or did you make it so that your system didn’t get affected by it at all?”

“I’d say I metabolized it more quickly. I felt it, but not as much.”

“That’s cool. I wonder how much you could control your body chemistry? If you think about it, you might be able to control moods, or maybe make yourself focus more deeply than normal people, or give yourself perfect recall, or I don’t know—lots of stuff.”

“Not if I go to jail. Nick, I’m officially a criminal now. I’ve got a huge stash of juice hidden at my mom’s house, and I can’t let her find it. Even if she doesn’t care what I’m doing, she could go to jail if someone else finds it.”


Her hands moving nervously as she spoke, she said, “I know. I know. I’ll figure something out, but this is that last thing I need right now.”

I knew I could do something. I could hide it in HQ, or even in Grandpa’s house. The problem was that I’d have to get it to her whenever she wanted more, and then I’d be storing a controlled substance.

Right, I told myself, as if the League HQ’s contents didn’t violate a bunch of laws even without power juice.

Then it occurred to me that she wasn’t asking for help at all.

She sat in the chair by her desk, staring down at the floor. She wasn’t crying, but her voice had a little bit of a tremor sometimes as she’d talked.

She’d probably called me because with Keith out of her life, I was the only person she could talk to about this. She’d called me for comfort, and I should probably give her a hug, or put my hand on her shoulder, or something.

Except honestly, with Courtney looking like an idealized version of herself, I didn’t feel comfortable with that.

I could have said something, but nothing came to mind.

As I tried to formulate an idea for what to do next, the sound of keys and voices came from the hall.

The room’s door opened.

Two girls entered. The first one, the one holding the keys, had to be Michelle, Courtney’s roommate, the one with the country music shrine next to her bed.

She wasn’t much taller than Haley (short), had dishwater blond hair, and smiled as she noticed the two of us.

“Sorry Courtney, I hope I wasn’t interrupting?”

Courtney said, “No,” and if she was annoyed, she didn’t show it. “Michelle, this is Nick. He’s a friend from high school.”

Michelle smiled at me, “Hi Nick, when I opened the door, I thought you might be her mysterious ex-boyfriend.”

Courtney shook her head slowly, “That will not ever happen.”

Michelle gave a short laugh, and turned to the girl behind her, “Everybody, this is Melanie. I just met her in my freshman composition class.”

Taller than Michelle, Melanie had hair so blond it was practically white, and she seemed a little thin–the kind of thin where you worry about her health, not the kind that people compliment.

Then I recognized her. She’d gone to my high school’s prom with Logan, a guy who, after taking power juice, turned into a monster and tried to eat everyone in the school.

Worse, she’d taken it too, and she had telepathy or something like it.

Melanie’s eyes narrowed as she looked at me. “I know you from somewhere.”

“Uh, yeah… Central High’s prom.”

Her eyes widened. “I was so wasted that night.”

20 thoughts on “Taking Control: Part 3”

  1. On behalf of all the players out there, I must say it’s nearly criminal how Nick is wasting this chance…

  2. Look, when you have the social graces of your average freight train you just can’t really take those kind of chances in your relationship. And when your girlfriend has super sensitive senses… well, it just strikes me as being similar to shooting yourself in the foot.
    As for girlfriend telepathy girl, that could go wrong so fast. How good are Nick’s mental shields at stopping casual surface thoughts from getting out?

  3. I thought this a while back, but Courtney could become the ultimate villain/hero with virtually limitless powers. Everyone’s powers, except for the magical artifact users and those with technological enhancements, comes from their latent genetic make up. Courtney can manipulate her body on a genetic and probably molecular level… well… you get the idea. SUPER HOT CHICK WITH LASER RAYS!!!!!

    Who can also fly, has super strength, invulnerability, super healing, mimic capacities…..

  4. ya i want Courtney to be on the side of good but stopping yourself from getting drunk would be a great metabolic power.

  5. Hmmm. If she can’t get drunk, she probably can’t get stoned or poisoned either. Heck, better yet, she can Double Down any time she wants with EVER worrying about the calories or cholesterol!!!!!


  6. You know, that would have turned into that stereotypical “This isn’t what it looks like” “Sure, sure, time to spread rumors.” “Nooooooooooooooo!” if Nick had hugged her. Cliche avoidance maneuver successful!

    Courtney can also probably mess with herself to lessen the problems of a period, and can put something in the way to act as perfect birth control.

    If she’s capable of messing with her own immune system, you’re looking at someone who could potentially help look for cures for various afflictions. AIDS, cancer, STDs, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, restless leg syndrome, bird flu, the common cold, West Nile, Nodding disease. Of course, the problem is she’d likely have to be affected by all those, and it’s really bad for her if she fails with some of those.

    Now, let’s just hope she doesn’t decide she likes Nick and impersonate Haley or this could really, really turn out…to be a letter to SuperPenthouse: “Dear Penthouse, I never thought this would happen to me…”

  7. Hydra: It’s not that she CAN’T get drunk, it’s that she can CHOOSE not to get drunk. So she can probably also choose to get completely shitfaced off a single shot. Or to get mildly buzzed, and maintain it as long as she chooses without drinking more. Heck, with Nicks mood altering statment, she may be able to alter her brain chemistry to make herself drunk, stoned, LSD tripping, on ecstasy, on PCP, or anything really, without every having to take a single thing.

    PG: I’m right there with you. My first thought when the two other ladies joined them in the room was “It’s a good thing those porn producers aren’t able to spy into their civilian lives, because I know how this scene ends.” Or maybe it’s a bad thing. I suppose that’s a matter of opinion. I guess we’ll have to leave that sort of thing up to the Fanfic community.

    Jim: Do you HAVE a fanfic community, or have you been too scared to look?

  8. One thing I don’t think has come up much is the laws in Jim’s universe in regard to super powers. For instance, placing a bug in somebody’s house without a warrant is illegal in our world, but Nick has done it at least twice that I can recall. And what about super senses like Haley’s? At what point is she in violation of privacy rights? She could potentially over hear somebody talking inside a house about plans to plant a bomb while walking by. If she broke in to stop the terrorist would that be legally acceptable or would the case be thrown out on grounds of the information was not legally obtained? And could she be sued for illegal entry, search and seizure?

    On the note of Nick not being a player, that would be very risky even if he was a good liar since his girlfriend can probably smell everyone he’s been with that day and is probably a pretty good lie detector if she ever thought to practice it.

  9. Mazzon/Saru/DWwolf: Even beyond the whole “betraying Haley” aspect of that (which is a pretty big thing to leave out), I’m pretty sure “fear of going to jail” is much more on Courtney’s mind than sex.

    Luke: I don’t think I do have a fanfic community. Legion of Nothing isn’t that well known (working on that), and in any case, if there is any, it’s probably buried below “Legion of Superheroes” fanfic in any search results.

    DMB: In this setting, they’re often breaking laws even if government sponsored. It’s just that government’s been known to look the other way.

    Evil Twin/Hg/PG/Captain Mystic/Luke: I don’t know that I plan to go into this deeply in the story, but Courtney’s limited by a few things. She’s not capable of copying other people’s powers unless she knows exactly how they work (and even then it would be a lot of work on her part–along the lines of months or years with plenty of chances to screw up).

    I tend to believe that powers require work to acquire the skill to use them. Courtney will be mostly limited to changing her metabolism and her body’s shape (though not as much as Marcus, and more slowly), assuming she develops skill in doing so.

  10. – – Now, let’s just hope she doesn’t decide she likes Nick and impersonate Haley or this could really, really turn out…to be a letter to SuperPenthouse: “Dear Penthouse, I never thought this would happen to me…” – –

    Leave it to you Gecko to think of the absolute worst case scenario….

    Someone explain to me why heroes groups would fail to see the problems in homemade superpowers.

    1. Bill: Individual heroes definitely do see a problem with power juice. Heroes Alliance (which is more of an advocacy group) sees controlling it as a first step toward more restrictions on all people with powers.

      Piccolo: There are people who are worried about people with powers, and so naturally, there will be some fringe groups. I see that as inevitable. They’re not anywhere near as influential as you’ll find in Marvel comics though.

      As to your other question, I’d like to do a table top RPG. I’ve been involved in gaming for years and have (through friends) some connections both in publishing games and in the “indie gaming” community. Oddly enough, the thing that’s most preventing me from doing gaming right now is probably writing this serial…

      That said, I see two obvious options:

      1) I put together a supplement for Villains & Vigilantes and go from there. It was actually one of the first superhero RPG’s, and, as mentioned, the first version of “The Rocket” was a V&V character. Also, I know one of the authors a little, and they have reasonable licensing.

      2): Go the indie games route, come up with some idiosyncratic rules, and go on from there.

  11. hey Jim, are there “fringe” groups in your world?

    Like say the KKK against supers/mutants (ex. X-men), we know the cabal at least believes in the “power/powers make right”. or am I reading too much into some of the paintings in red lightnings lair?

    More importantly when are you going to come out with the table top version of your world so we can all destroy it with our own craziness … though I have a feeling no one will ever top PG I mean seriously PG if you are on something please share or at least give out a price list.

  12. I am not on anything. I have just embraced the crazier tendencies of myself. Everybody’s got some crazy in them. They just lock it away, or they let it do the wrong thing. Worse, many of them don’t even acknowledge it! A lot of people would be a lot less depressed if they only realized they were in denial about their depression. Perhaps, without such a negative stigma attached to being insane, some people could be a lot more honest and open about themselves, realizing that they are in fact the problem due to their skewed perception of the world. Also, it would help get soldiers the care they need for the PTSD.

    And so when I have a craving for a massive sundae, I simply write up a plan of world domination via icecream. Also, it’s nice to have people on here feed my delusions of grandeur, for I am THE GREATEST COMMENTATOR IN THE WORLD!, world world world…

    When it comes to a table top game, I’ve never been able to play. Don’t know anyone around here who does the stuff, unfortunately. However, I found a nice list of things awhile back I’d like to try. It’s currently called the 2050 things Mr. Welch can no longer during an RPG. When I first found it, it was only 1850. I’ll just have to try a few of these if I ever get the chance. Like

    34. I am not allowed to base any Droid off any character played by Joe Pesci.

    137. I do not have a scorching case of lycanthropy.

    147. Hobbits are not allowed to have Norse ancestry.

    240. Any character with more than three skills specializing in chainsaw is vetoed.

    510. After a bloody battle, I will not celebrate by lying down and making carnage angels.

    625. I must remember before the next time I shave off the sleeping dwarf’s beard and glue it to the sleeping elf, wars have been started that way.

    992. The rest of the party would appreciate it if I didn’t take Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy as a flaw.

    1056. There is no such thing as a Dwarven Battle Perm.

    1104. There is a limit to how much innuendo I can fit into one combat round.

    1314. Gravity defying breasts, while impressive, do not count as a super power.

    …and many more!
    I do not in any way take credit for this list. It’s awesome, but not mine.

    …ok, one last one 1459. Even if the game is set in 1912, the female characters get a vote on the party’s action.

  13. @PG: Two things:

    1. I just wish, sometimes, that I had a little sane in me.

    2. The idea of carnage angels is just so good, I wish I’d thought of it. The closest I ever came was a half-ogre named Vladimir who kept a list of all the people he’d slept with, and all the different races of which he’d eaten their flesh.


  14. Something else I meant to comment on with Courtney. Trying to change your own brain chemistry is a majorly bad idea even if you have a Phd in the field. Too easy to accidentally shut yourself down and since any changes she makes is permanent without conscious thought… I’d at least be afraid of her doing something that makes her an ultraviolent or psychotic super villain.

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