What She Asked For: Part 1

There were other people to ask, or so I learned on Sunday night. Haley wasn’t mad exactly, but she wasn’t happy either.

“There’s me, and Marcus, and Kayla too. She’s staff, but she’s still part of the team.”

We were in League HQ, but not the main room. After getting back around seven, I’d gone to the lab to recheck the modifications I’d made to the main Rocket suit over the summer, and then start looking over our power impregnator.

Someday soon, I’d have to modify the spare suits, but not tonight.

At least that was my plan until Haley called. I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to work uninterrupted, but I wanted to see her, so I said it was fine if she came over.

That’s what led us to this point. She sat on the stool next to mine, frowning a little, both of us sitting next to a table amid the lab’s machines and dismantled rocket suits.

I put down the Rocket suit’s arm, and stopped testing it.

“I’m sorry. I was just thinking about the people at Stapledon. I think I got a little… over-focused?”

Haley sunk a little on the stool. “I don’t like it that you didn’t even think about me.”

I tried to think what the right thing to say would be. I’d already said I was sorry. Saying it again seemed redundant. If I was going to say it again, I’d have to say it differently.

I considered how I might say it. The words did not come.

“Nick?” Haley looked up at me.

“I was just trying to think of a good way to fix the problem. I don’t want her to get in trouble, and it sounds like Lee’s more worried about the power juice than the power impregnator. It just makes sense. Plus, better that she gets powers from us. What if Syndicate L gets an impregnator and sells access to it? She’d owe them.”

Haley’s brow furrowed. “I know it makes sense. I just feel left out.”

“I didn’t mean to leave you out.”

“I know.”

She sighed. “I think I’d have felt better if I hadn’t heard from Sydney that you were hanging around with Courtney a lot.”

“Huh?” I tried to figure out how Sydney would know, and then remembered—Sydney was Sean’s sister, and Sean went to Grand Lake University too. He lived on a different floor of the same dorm as I did.

“Oh,” I said. “I told you I’d been talking with her. You don’t think I’d—”

“No, I don’t. I’d know.” She said, her voice low.

She would, too. She’d easily be able to smell Courtney on me if Courtney and I had been doing more than talking. Plus, with Haley’s hearing, she could skip the polygraph machine, and listen for my heart rate while we talked.

“Good,” I said. “That’s a relief.”

“Nick, I’m worried. I feel like I’ve barely seen or heard from you all last week.”

I started to say, “I won’t have Stapledon next weekend,” but I didn’t get more than two words into it when she said, “I’m not done. One girl at my high school got dumped by her boyfriend on Friday–just a week after he left. He was at college too.”

“Oh,” I said. “I’m not going to dump you.”

I could have touched her then, but I wasn’t sure if I should. It seemed like I might have been wrong earlier when I thought she wasn’t angry. Sure, she might be more strongly scared, but she might be a little angry.

The fact that she was strong enough to rip my arm off if surprised might have factored into my decision too—not that she would. Well, not intentionally.

Instead, I talked. “I bet whoever got dumped was further away from her boyfriend. We don’t have to deal with distance at least. You can come over any time.”

Haley shrugged. “I don’t know, but I think you’re right.”

Her tone seemed a little happier.

* * *

Aside from my distance learning “criminology” class on Monday night, I barely had any reason to think about the stranger parts of my life. I did my readings, worked on my homework, and even had time to get to the lab on Wednesday night to reassemble the power impregnator.

Looking it over showed it wouldn’t take much to bring it into working order.

If I wanted to be cautious though, I’d need to get samples of Courtney’s blood and tissue to see how it reacted to a jolt.

Vaughn hadn’t worried about that, but since our machine had essentially been preset to work with him, it hadn’t been as important.

After I got back to campus, and parked the van in the parking garage, I noticed that Courtney had left a text message on my phone.

Sitting in the driver’s seat of the van, I decided to check what it was.

It said, “Call me.”

I sent back, “Now?” It was nearly ten.

Instead of a reply, my phone rang.

“Nick,” Courtney said, “you remember my… legal problem?”

“Yeah,” I said. If she meant what I thought she did, I’d been working on it for the last couple hours.

“I discovered a way out, and I need a favor.”

20 thoughts on “What She Asked For: Part 1”

  1. I started so say, “I won’t have Stapledon next weekend,”
    Should be “I started to say”

    And someone’s selling tickets.You know, the real big moneymaker would be a temporary power impregnator. No sign of the juice, cheaper than permanent, and keeps you coming back for more.

    Power Broker all over again. Just like Hardball getting his powers, getting into the Initiative, and then having his debt sold to HYDRA. Or that one guy getting enhanced physique, owing the Power Broker, so he has Taskmaster train him in Captain America’s fighting style and plots to be appointed by the government as the new Captain America…

    Hell, the way student loans are going, soon the Mafia will have a huge amount of young blood indentured to them at the street level and shit jobs for awhile.

  2. PG

    John walker was picked by the Committee to replace Cap, when Cap didn’t want to work for them. They said Cap belonged to the government, Steve said Cap belonged to the people. Also the Red Skull was manipulating everything from behind the scenes anyway.

    I read waaaaay too many comics and still do.

  3. Politics is when you have three people involved in something. Two if you are unlucky. [grin]

    Power juice is already the equivalent of a temporary power impregnator. You might wonder if someone has experimented with slower release power juice, or something like an implant that can store a few months supply of a concentrated form of the stuff, for slow release.

    I’m waiting for someone with a massive adverse reaction to the stuff. Or, takes one dose and it has a permanent long term effect; turning their hair undyeably pink would be a minor one.

  4. Sorry to make my first comment in a while, just to point out typos.

    “We in League HQ, but not the main room. ” – might need a “were” or something similar.

    “I barely had to think about the stranger parts of my life.” maybe a “time” after had.

    “worked on my homework,and even” needs a space.

    I’m enjoying this latest arc, as it gives you such an opportunity to bring in past contacts and events, so it feels like it really solidifies the world.

  5. Wow… Thanks for Luke, WA_side, and Psycho Gecko pointing out the various things that I missed. There were a lot of them this time. Too bad I don’t have much time between finishing and posting. If I did, I’d have people copyedit it. In any case, the typos/errors should all be fixed now.

    Jeff/PG: I ended up looking up U.S. Agent and that whole storyline recently in Wikipedia. One of these days I ought to read the actual comics.

    Dwwolf/PG/Dreamer: For better or for worse, the machine that grants powers is definitely more integral to this universe than the Power Broker is to Marvel. Actually, for what it’s worth, you can expect to see power juice patches/implants showing up one of these days. It’s much too good an idea not to be used.

    Actually, as much as I generally try to avoid allowing my tendency to read/write science fiction to affect this, it looks like I am anyway. A common tendency in science fiction is to change one thing and see how society changes. Here, it looks like I’m running with, “What happens if a small subsection of humanity could be granted superpowers?” Not that that doesn’t happen in most superheroic fiction, but there’s more of a focus on the after effects here, I think.

  6. John Walker did what he could to make himself look like a great replacement Cap by working as the Super Patriot with the help of the Bold Urban Commandoes (or BUCkies) and claiming to have beaten Cap in a fight once where he merely drew first blood.

  7. Cap has never been beaten. Knocked out, tied to a rocket and shot towards space, but not beaten.

  8. Honestly the only thing i really liked about US Agent was when he got the energy shield from STARK technologies, that was a cool bit of comic book tech.

    Did everything Cap’s did but had a recharge time, and if someone broke the shield the armband just generated another.

  9. The first big fight between the pro- and anti-registration forces in Civil War went very badly for Captain America. He only made it out thanks to divine intervention. Hercules, to be specific. Then there was that whole “giving up because the people want it to be over” and in Civil War: Frontline we got to see an utterly stupid speech by one woman about how little he knows about the U.S. that left him speechless despite the airheadedness of it. Hey Sally Floyd, how’s that Myspace treating you?!

  10. Piccolo: And here I always thought the main feature of Captain America’s shield was that people didn’t break it. Since it was made of doesntbreakium and all.

    Well except Klaw did and probably some others I don’t know of, but not really enough to say something that needs a feature to regenerate would count as having the same feature.

    Oh well, never really was one of my favourite superheroes anyway. Somehow Captain Some Foreign Place that is all big about representing their ideals really doesn’t appeal that much. You can try imagining how popular Captain China, fighting for democracy, territorial integrity and social justice, would be in the States.

    Please refrain from commenting how well those or any other ideals are realized in China to avoid forcing people to retort about the virtues of America and sparking a flamewar.

  11. Funny thing about Captain America, he was created in an effort to convince people in the US to get involved in World War 2. In an interview, Joe Simon said he and Jack Kirby were very much against Nazi Germany and felt the US should do something about it despite the isolationist attitude of many people here at the time.

    What they were doing is cloaking a policy of that period’s political left in patriotism in the hope that it could be taken up by a wider audience.

    I suppose in many ways, he’s still more appealing internally than outside the US, but on the other hand, he was made to be.

    With regards to Captain China… In the not too distant future, we’ll probably start seeing heroes from outside the US in this story. With any luck, the codenames won’t sound too stupid (and if they do, it’ll be my fault. Sigh…).

  12. Don’t forget Captain Britain, who has a representative in every dimension in the Marvel multiverse, together known as the Captain Britain Corps, though they rarely work together. Also, a British hero called Union Jack, a Wakanda Superhero known as Black Panther, and so on and so forth.

  13. Or Alpha Flight and the whole pre/somewhat post DC 52 relaunch International Batman Group thingy and its whole cadre of nation specific Batman

  14. Do you plan on doing these “foreign” superheroes with non-english codenames? Because if you are, it might be a good idea to run them with a native speaker.

  15. That is the plan. I’ll probably vet the names before I use them. There are enough people reading this outside the US that I’ve got a good chance of catching something that sounds really stupid (or worse, hilarious) to native speakers before it’s used.

    I’m ever mindful of Coke’s slogan “Coke adds life” that when translated into Chinese supposedly could be read “Coke brings your ancestors back from the dead.”

    It’s decent pop, but not that good.

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