Here We Come: Part 1

The flight to Ann Arbor to pick up Rachel and Jaclyn took less than 10 minutes.

We picked them up at a small lake Rachel had called “Barton Pond.” Whatever it was, it was large enough for me to find from the air, and float over while they boarded. Plus it was dark enough out that we wouldn’t be too obvious.

They were in costume. All in white, Rachel’s gun hung from her utility belt. Jaclyn’s costume was purple, as ever, and unlike anyone else on our team, she wore a mask instead of a bullet resistant hood.

Being basically invulnerable, she could do that.

As they pulled on their seat belts, Jaclyn said, “So, do we have a plan this time?”

“I’d been wondering that myself.” Flick said. Her voice had a hint of a southern accent—possibly from Texas—but just a hint.

Rachel eyed her as she finished putting on her seat belt. “The program’s not running this now? That surprises me.”

Flick twisted around in her seat to face Rachel. “We’re all about training you to be able to take initiative. Plus, you’re special. You’ve already faced people like this and come out ahead. I’m here to give advice and help keep you out of trouble.”

Sounding slightly amused, Rachel said, “And that’s all? You like us, so you’ll let us go into mortal danger?”

Flick grinned at her, but only for a second. Then she looked very serious. “I’ll let you in on a secret. We’re stretched a little thin right now. We don’t have anyone we trust who we think can handle it, and this has to be done. Some of you can guess why, and if you can’t, consider yourself lucky. People have died because they knew.”

Haley and I looked at each other. I’d given everybody a big hint when I talked about the gun.

Well, whatever. Too late to do anything about it now—unless we were willing to convince Daniel to fix the problem.

“Getting back to the plan,” I said. “We still don’t know enough to have a firm plan. All we know is that they’ve got Cassie, and when her distress call came up, the coordinates were for somewhere near Hudson Bay. I’m guessing Rook’s got a base there. If that turns out to be the case, I’m thinking we send in the armored, and fastest moving people to get Cassie while the other people distract them.”

Sean smirked at me. “Dude, I could send out an EMP that nukes their electronics, and that’s the end. They can’t do anything. They’re all in armor, right? That’s Rook’s thing.”

“Maybe,” I said, “but here’s the problem. You’re not the only guy with magnetic powers out there, and I can only speak for myself, but the current Rocket suit doesn’t include any metal you can affect. Plus, it’s got a lot of ceramic.

Plus, you’re not the only guy who can do an EMP. I’ve put in stuff to protect against them. I’m betting Rook has too. Even if he hasn’t protected everything, the security system would be high on his list. His powered armor too, I bet.”

“Sure,” Sean rolled his eyes.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You don’t want me to show you up. If I do the EMP, I’ve fixed everything, and you’ve got nothing to do.”

“No,” I said, and stopped. I knew he was wrong, but where were the words?

Rachel leaned forward in her chair, putting her closer to Sean. “Hey Sean, let’s remember the last few times you and Nick worked together. The way I heard it when you attacked Izzy, you lost control of all the metal you were using as a shield, and she had to save you—”

Sean interrupted, “No, that’s wrong—”

Izzy flushed, but said. “It’s true.”

Rachel didn’t stop, “—from being crushed. Oh, and let’s see, when you went up against Ray and Gina with that truck, you went ahead of us, and what happened? You lost, and ended up a hostage. How far do you want me to go back? You act first, and think later. If you go in with a big EMP or any ‘plan’ like that, you could get all of us killed, got it?”

Sean turned around in his chair, and I expected him to start screaming at Rachel, but then he didn’t.

He turned back around, and leaned forward to catch Daniel’s eye. Daniel sat on the other end of the row with Izzy and Sydney between them.

Sean shouted, “Get out of my head!” Then he leaned back, and didn’t say anything else. Neither did the rest of us.

It felt very quiet in the jet.

“Uh,” I said. “So… That’s the whole plan for now. I’m planning to use the jet’s sensors from a distance to see if we can get more information. Then we’ll come up with a better plan.”

Flick nodded. “That’s good enough for now.”

I turned on the anti-gravity, and let the jet float upward into the night sky, suddenly remembering that I ought to be going to bed around now.

Deciding not to think about that, or how I’d deal with classes (assuming I didn’t skip them), I thought at Daniel, What was that all about?

I felt embarrassment coming across our connection.

I pushed him—not directly. I didn’t manipulate his brain. I reminded him that one of his coaches, a coach he liked a lot, said the same thing. He’s been blaming himself for his dad’s death. He thinks it was retaliation for attacking Ray, and blames himself for not thinking that through.

He’s probably right. You didn’t remind him of that, did you?

Not directly, but I knew that if I reminded him of the coach, he’d get himself there.

Whoa. That’s kind of manipulative.

I felt a brief wave of guilt wash over from him.

I know. I don’t like it either, but I couldn’t think of another way to shut him up. Cassie doesn’t have time for this. Besides, he might learn something.

We could hope.

21 thoughts on “Here We Come: Part 1”

  1. Good stuff.

    Sean’s starting to change. Good. If he learns, and becomes more, that could change things. (Of course, if he ends up falling to darkness, that’ll be interesting too…..)

  2. “Daniel sat on the other other end” sounds a bit like when I’m told, “no, your other left hand.” but I’m guessing you only wanted one “other”.

    And pray tell, Flick, how are they supposed to come up with a plan when they have no idea who all Guardian is sending in to this mess!

  3. Jeff: Thanks. I’m always relieved to know things work.

    Simon: The overall arc of Sean’s changes has been mapped out in my head for a bit. I’m hoping it’ll be interesting whatever happens.

    Amaral/Luke: Thanks. Fixed.

    Hg/Luke: Ouch. Now if were clever, I’d figure out a way to extend the joke by connecting it to no “I” in team somehow. Only ideally it would be funny. Currently it isn’t.

    SilasCova: You’ll see a fair amount of her during this story line.

    Notto: Oops. That should be fixed soon.

    As for the the question of how they’re supposed to plan without knowing who Guardian sent to assist… Well, that’s a casualty of breaking things up into parts. She’ll tell them shortly.

  4. I have to ask, and yes I know its a very bad joke.

    Will they be graded on this or is it a pass fail type of test/situation?

  5. Barton Nature Area is a 102-acre park located along the Huron River on Huron River Drive, a few miles north of downtown. The park is in two sections: the larger is known locally as the oxbow, and connects to Argo; the smaller is known as Foster, and is accessible only by boat from Barton Pond. The main parking lot is located on Huron River Dr, just northwest of Bird Rd, near Barton Dam. A smaller pull-off lot is located further east on Huron River Dr near M-14 and Main St. Bridges from the parking areas allow pedestrian access to the oxbow. There is a picnic area next to the main parking lot.
    from Ann Arbor link

  6. JL: Thanks for the information. I’ve never actually been to Barton Nature Area (though I’ve been in Ann Arbor). I looked it up, and used it because it fit their needs.

    Also, thanks for the review on Goodreads. I will have to take a look at your books.

  7. Jim it’s duplicated here in these 2 paragraphs, maybe review them?

    Maybe,” I said, “but here’s the problem. You’re not the only guy with magnetic powers out there, and I can only speak for myself, but the current Rocket suit doesn’t include any metal you can affect. Plus, it’s got a lot of ceramic.

    “Plus, you’re not the only guy who can do an EMP. I’ve put in stuff to protect against them. I’m betting Rook has too. Even if he hasn’t protected everything, the security system would be high on his list. His powered armor too, I bet.”

    1. At least it reads that way. Maybe change some wording so it’s not “plus” again and again. Something like:

      “Maybe,” I said, “but here’s the problem; you’re not the only one with magnetic powers. I built the suit without metal you can effect as well as lots of ceramics; and, it’s protected against an EMP. We have to assume Rook has too. Even if he hasn’t protecting his security system from one has to be high on his list.”

  8. Hmm. Sadly I think this is Nick’s weakest moment. Because he accepted Sean could be very useful because of those magnetic powers. Now he is saying they won’t work. I think he needs to study examples of how to talk to people. Like:
    “A big EMP might destabilize something critical. We need more concentration so your powers do the most good with the least collateral damage, So tough fighters first and we can point out targets of opportunity for you since we can take hits you can’t.”

    Just surprised with all the tactical training from age six he can’t express those tactical ideas.

  9. The sheer lack of empathy from people going soft on professional killer about to kill them is baffling. Oh, the dude thinks he killed his dad, and is right? Let’s kick him around and ostracise him from any social gathering. That’d help.

    1. I am going to ask to clarify here please.
      Tactically Sean needs to take a half step back and get a situation analyzed. Not go in assuming he is the best thing since butter met bread. If you are referring all the way back to him killing Ray.
      Then let’s go over that. Nick is not against killing if necessary. If during the fight Sean had speared Ray. Then they might not like it but things happen and Ray was by no means an angel. The issue they had was that Sean went in like a hot head and endangered their mother. Instead of having a plan and/or backup. This got him captured as well and used as a hostage. He did not get properly into that fight again till it was finished. And Then killed Ray when the man was down.
      Crossing the line from heat of battle to execution. And Nick has gone to people to discuss his issues. He does not particularly want Sean hurt. And here even thinks the throwing a respected coach’s words against him was a bit far.
      Keep reading and you will see Sean get to do something damned useful yet still think he was sidelined because it is about glory and not the mission itself.

      1. My main point to that issue that as follows: the main protagonists do exact dame thing numerous times, yet somehow when “adults” don’t trust them after they won on the fluke, they don’t see their side at all. I always comment on the latest chapter without rading ahead, and all the critique they point on Shaun is hypocritical to the extreme. Just recently they went against Nine’ people, even though Nick himself says that Nine are scary and with direct commands to do the exact opposite. Nkw they stop and try to do the sensible thing, but only after doing stjpid and irresponsible one, and they don’t lose anyone but Cassie only due to sheer luck and plot armor.

        And bear in mind that they have training and significantly more experience than Shaun ever did, and still they behave the exact same way, albeit on a lesser scale. A plan ‘we’ll go there and make a plan” or “let’s hope Immortal shows up and makes everything right” is not a plan.

        And, as a cherry on the top, and I am mainly talking about Nick, but everyone is guilty to some extent, they exlude Shaun from any social gathering and make him a social parriah based on hypocritical and self-centered critique on his actions, and mainly on a personal antipathy. They act as if if they will kick Shaun while he is down, again and again, he will not double down in anger and resentment, but will “see the error of his ways”. This is bullying, plain and simple, this is the rationale of a bully. Nick finally got some power over Shaun, and while he does not abuse it fully, he still kinda does. It is passive, but not less hurtfull.

        Instead trying to be better than Shaun, he doesn’t even try, and while Shaun is definitely an ass, ethat does not justify his actions.

        I also have a really big quarel with the whole “stupid adults don’t know nothing theme”, but at least (I hope) author has enough self-awareness to subtly show how insensitive, immature and
        incompetent teenagers usually are. And I am not only talking about the Shaun issue.

        So, to wrap it up, Shaun’s entire “problem” should’ve been handled very different and the way it is handled shows that Nick doesn’t really care, but rather acts the minimum nesseceary to think of himself as a “good person”. That is such a common charasteristic, it annoys me on the personal level.

        Partly because, I am, not any better in the grand scheme of things.

        Well one more thing about crossing the line from the heat of the battle, yeah, there is no justification to that one. See, I understand how they develop antipathy to Shaun to such degree as to stop considering his perspective outright. It’s understandble. Human. And, yes, flawed.

        But we all should try to be fucking better, should we not? Doubly so if we put a moniker of heroes on ourself and decide that we can know better than anybody else.

        1. Please calm down, swearing is not necessary.
          Let’s look on the adults are useless part.
          You are for better or worse part of a paramilitary group. Similar in function to the police. One of yours has been taken and you have been given a location. Pass that on. “oops we are too busy. Don’t do anything and let them have your comrade.” That is not heroic or even going to happen with such a group. Now you read to this point. Okay can you give me a count of the times that the adults were left controlling things and they succeeded?

          FBI will take on the Legion. Has them holed up in a hotel. Agents dead, hotel burned down. Bad guys escape.
          FBI has a team looking for Ray and company. Manages to get both agents heads blown off. Team catches them. Team passes on intel that there will be some form of rescue. Mechs manage to bust through the courthouse walls and take them away. The FBI knows who was supposed to be working with this escaped felon. But had no wiretaps or observation of their own. So he was allowed to roam freely. No one pulled the kids and their families to safety. Not feds and not senior teams. How much trust should the Heroes League have in these groups at this point?

          Now I will grant you I have my own gripes with the team. Nick has let ONE person into the base. That person figured it out on their own and was a major help to the team. They reamed him for it. Cassie does it. Eh who cares? Just the beginning of this mess they contact Nick in their Heroes League guises and someone hears them. This is Nick’s fault?
          And Travis and Cassie are way too gung-ho. Leaping before they even consider opening their eyes and looking.
          Who has been the voice of caution? Nick.
          The plan of go and find the place, scout it and maybe just blitz a grab and run is a decent initial plan. It is not go in guns blazing. It is we have little time but we don’t know enough. Base is unknown after all. So go check it out then reassess the situation. That is reasonable. Sean’s idea of an EMP is a bad one because they do not know the base or its layout enough to know if he will take out the right gear to make it work. And it is a bad idea because he wants to start with that and not scout to see, say where a good target for such a blast will be.

          As to team to Sean. . . I do not think Sean is hopeless. But he tried to push too far with Haley and if she did not have a power to stop him as she did. He seems to have been heading toward rape. So neither Haley nor Travis have warm feelings for him. The constant insults with a snowball as a response. Every adult jumped on Nick about tossing a snowball at people heckling him. Like that justified three on one trying to literally hold him down so they could kick him in the ribs. And when the trained martial artist beat them? Went crying to an authority figure to use connections so Nick had counseling and they did not. IE weaponized the system against them. And further soured the trust in adults/authorities. Now Rachel it seemed was trying to be reasonable. But Daniel jumped in and in my opinion ruined any chance of peaceably settling things there.

          Also note, Sean was not asked along. He insisted, then tried to take a gun from someone. Then is strutting like a big man on campus about his EMP could solve the issue. Not protecting his sister like he claims is his reason for showing up.

          For now I think you and I are seeing similar things from different views. Good things too. But I may have the benefit of looking back right now. Right now the group does not like Sean and he is not doing anything to alter their perception of him.

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