“Yeah?” Vaughn looked mildly annoyed. “Cassie’s right. That is messed up. Remember that lecture of Mr. Beacham’s? The one where he compared supers to some kind of medieval warrior class?”
Everybody in our high school knew about that lecture. I’d felt that it had been over-hyped at the time.
It seemed more insightful now.
It made sense, actually. When people with powers came into the picture, democracy could only last as long as they believed in it, and even if they did, it would be tempting for any government to bend things to keep them happy.
I said, “I remember it. That was the class that convinced Sean that Justice Fist ought to be open with identities.”
Cassie gave a short laugh. “That worked great for them.”
I supposed that he couldn’t be insightful for the entire lecture.
* * *
On Friday night, around 7 pm, we landed on an airstrip in the middle of a grassy field. In the twilight, I couldn’t see any farms or houses nearby. Given that it was dark, I couldn’t reasonably expect to, but even when we’d been in the air, I’d barely seen any lights around where we’d landed.
The airstrip’s lights had flickered off as the plane rolled into the hangar, one of three identical buildings made of gray, corrugated metal.
We’d flown in a nearly windowless MD-11 (the successor to the DC-10) that had been painted to look like a Fedex plane.
Inside the stripped down interior of the cargo plane, it was harder to take seriously the idea that we were some kind of privileged group.
Even though the plane had seats, there was no carpet, just yellow lines in the aisles. Pipes, wires, fire extinguishers, and insulation hung from the top and sides.
Rachel had boarded earlier and noticed me eying all the exposed components as I walked in. She kicked my foot as I passed, and said, “Don’t touch anything.”
Given the surroundings, I shouldn’t need to say it, but we didn’t have any kind of in-flight entertainment.
We disembarked inside the hangar, taking elevators down with our luggage.
The doors opened into a hallway of gray concrete, lit by florescent lights. Blue arrows on the floor gave the hall its only hint of color.
Once we were out of the hallway, any illusions I might have had were blown away.
The metal doors opened into a big room. On the one hand, it was obviously an underground, concrete bunker. On the other hand, it was probably the nicest bunker in the world. The open area between the rows of rooms had couches, big screen TV’s, and chairs. Carpet covered the floor except for the sections with dark stained hardwood.
Clusters of green plants made the room feel less industrial, and the smell of food reminded me that I hadn’t eaten since lunch.
I placed my luggage in Daniel’s and my room, and followed everyone else to the dining area.
* * *
After dinner, I went back to the room. It was twice, possibly three times as large as my dorm room.
I considered turning on the television, but didn’t really feel like watching TV. I had a couple books in my backpack, and almost decided to read one when Daniel came in with Isabel and Jaclyn.
It still seemed weird to see Izzy here with us—and not just weird for me.
She glanced back as she shut the door behind her, and when she turned back to us, she smiled nervously.
To Daniel, she said, “What did you want to talk about?”
“Nothing in particular,” he said. “I thought we’d just hang out.”
Untouched by anybody, the television turned on.
As the channels flipped over to a movie channel, I felt his presence in my mind, and not just his—Jaclyn’s and Izzy’s too.
Sorry everybody, I feel like I have to keep this quiet in case someone’s hearing is good enough to hear us talk. Let’s all sit down and pretend we’re watching the movie.
Izzy sat in one of the chairs near the TV. It looked a little small when she sat in it.
Jaclyn sat on the couch.
I thought at Daniel, Private message… Not that I don’t trust her, but why are you bringing Izzy into this?
She’s got an outside perspective. We’ve all grown up with this in one way or another.
Then I felt everybody’s minds again.
Now, for real, Jaclyn thought at us. What’s going on?
I’d told Daniel about Courtney during supper. We’d agreed that if I were going to run her through the power impregnator that we all ought to talk about it because we were all going to get in trouble if it went wrong.
I explained about Courtney, the power impregnator, and what Isaac said about the “deal” the government had made.
So, I told them, I’m thinking through whether I should let Courtney use our power impregnator, and maybe other people too.