Picking Up Pieces: Part 9

Part of me wanted to argue with him, but I couldn’t persuade myself that it would be worth it. He could go look up information on the Xiniti if he wanted. There wasn’t much information, but you could find out that they were around.

You could even find out information about the hyperspace jumpgate if you wanted to.

There weren’t many details, but it was in Wikipedia.

Of course, it wasn’t as if we were allowed to use it. The Xiniti were there to stop us from trying, and to prevent hostile groups from coming through.

Someday we’d be allowed to use it, and then maybe familiarity would kill all the stupid conspiracy theories.

It wouldn’t happen today.

“I’m sure we’ll talk about this later,” I said.

Any chance of saying more ended with a light knock on the door.

Simultaneously Daniel and Izzy both said, “It’s Haley,” leaving me to muse on what it might be like to have better than human senses.

Izzy stepped back, and opened the door.

Haley stepped inside, followed by Courtney and Cassie.

Courtney had thrown on an over-sized Dr. Who sweatshirt and jeans. She smiled weakly as she saw me. I wasn’t sure whether that meant that she was tired or nervous.

Whatever she felt, she was here, and that’s what mattered.

I raised my hand and gave her a wave. “Hey Courtney, could you come over here?”

We had seven people in the room by then, all of us between the bunk bed, and the wall.

Courtney had to move past Haley, between Izzy and the bed, and squeeze past where Jeremy sat on the lower bunk before she could stand next to Daniel and I.

The room felt warm, and possibly even a little stuffy.

I moved, backing into my own desk, and standing between the end of the bunk and the stereo.

Daniel had backed up too, and sat on Jeremy’s desk. “Courtney, I’m Daniel. I’m a friend of Nick’s. You’ve just guessed who else I am, and you’re right. I’m a telepath.”

Courtney blushed, managing a “Hi,” and reminding me of something I normally didn’t think about. Daniel was literally tall, dark and handsome. His skin tone was naturally the color of a light tan, and his face was more on the baby-faced than square-jawed end of the “handsome” spectrum, but it got him attention.

More than he wanted, in fact.

I’d sometimes suspected that Daniel’s telepathy influenced people in some way because I’d never thought of him as that good looking. When I mentioned that to Haley, she’d told me I was “such a guy.”

Whatever that meant.

Even if telepathy didn’t have a direct effect on people’s opinions of him, it had to have an effect on his treatment of them.

When I started paying attention to what was going on, I became aware that he’d already started talking to Courtney.

He leaned forward a little, looking thoughtful.

“—I know you’ve had a rough night, but this is important. You know secrets some people would kill for. What I need is for you to hear me out—”

Then he described the block, and how it would work, answering her questions, and a few more questions from Jeremy.

A few minutes later she said, “I’ll do it. I don’t want to be the weak link that gets all of you killed.”

She glanced in Cassie’s direction.

In that moment, as much as she’d modified herself, she sounded like she had in high school.

Daniel nodded. “Great. I’d like both of you to close your eyes, and I’ll make some changes. It won’t hurt, and it’ll take less time than you think.”

They did, Courtney sitting on the bed with Jeremy—though not right next to him. She tried to sit as close to the edge as possible too.

I could understand if she didn’t want to touch his bed linens. I didn’t know how long it had been since he washed them either.

It took less than ten minutes for each of them.

I checked my alarm clock. It was five in the morning. The sun would rise in an hour, and I had class. I tried not to think about that, and hoped I wouldn’t have a quiz in anything.

We left in groups. Cassie and Courtney left for the girls side of the dorm.

Izzy, Daniel, and Haley left a little later. I left with them. I still had to get the car back to my parents, and I planned to drop Haley off while I was at it.

We didn’t say anything as we walked. After everything else that had happened, the last thing I needed was to get caught by the RA.

25 thoughts on “Picking Up Pieces: Part 9”

  1. A recent study did find that in situations where men and women are only friends, the women don’t think of the guys romantically. The guys, on the other hand, do think of the women that way and then project that onto them, imagining that the women also like them that way.

    Nick’s not as crazy as he sounds worrying about Daniel’s telepathy affecting how people react to him.

    And I’ve found that evidence doesn’t usually affect most conspiracy theorists. Case in point: The long form birth certificate.

  2. Well, I suppose it’s better than sitting-up, drinking bad coffee, and discussing undergraduate philosophy until five in the morning. [grin]

    Though, having superheroes in your world introduces all sort of philosophical issues…

  3. Much ado about nothing at first glance.
    Dreamer does raise an interesting point for instance what are the various religions stances about powers ?

  4. @DWolf: Probably safer to stick to philosophy. Talking about religion can cause people to get weird and unfriendly.

  5. Still really enjoying the story 🙂 Looking forward to more but will have to wait a couple of weeks now as going away with no internet access. Still, means a nice long catch up! 😀

    One minor edit;

    “—I know you’ve had rough night, but this is important.” – should have an ‘a’ in there.

  6. on superhero philosophy: if you have telepaths that know what you are thinking how much are your actions your own?

  7. Hey mystic: if your actions are derived from your culture, social group, and various memes, how much are your actions your own?

    Leeeeeeeroooooooy….Jeeeeeenkins! Gangnam style! *does the invisible horse dance*

    Then again, if you’re like some people I know who just think a certain civil rights issue of our time is wrong because traditionally things have always been this other way and that’s what they were raised to think, how much of your thoughts are your own and how many are your great great grandfather’s?

  8. See though, that’s the thing. Humans are manipulative bastards- almost all ‘social interaction’ is merely people using what they know about others (what they see, remember, smell, etc) to attempt to get them into agreement or favorable mutualism. (what I mean is, we’re all trying to get other people to help us, whether it’s through having fun, or whatever- Friendships of Utility).

    A Telepath is capable of knowing what is moving a person on a fundamental level at all times, and is therefore more able to successfully act in such a way as to get the person in question to then react as the Telepath wants- no projective TP required.

  9. Not only that but Daniel could disconnect any brain links that lead to an undesirable decision.

  10. Memetics are an interesting thing to study. Just think of the power of three little letters. Maybe they make you think of stuffy federal suits (FBI), government spies (CIA), or a conspiracy theory/wrestling stable from the 90s (NWO). Or you can always use ideas to attack people.

    After all, I believe it is hard for people to not imagine Rush Limbaugh in a zebra-stripe thong, especially now that I’ve said that. Normally I use Roseanne Barr as the subject in the thong, but not everyone remembers her as well.

    At least, if you know who I’m talking about it is difficult. If you don’t, good for you.

    That’s ok, detox with some nice bikini-clad Angelina Jol- Nancy Pelosi in a bikini!

    Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can give you erectile dysfunction.

  11. nice chapter thanks

    @ Psycho Gecko
    I won!!!
    didn’t think about Rush Limbaugh or Roseanne Barr in a zebra-stripe thong (who are they?)

  12. “and I planned to drop Haley off while was at it.”

    Not sure anyone mentioned this but i think this needs an I.

    Great job though, I don’t know how you keep up with all this.

  13. Actually, Psycho Gecko, the birth certificate was always a red herring. The real story is that Obama’s mom and how her decisions affected her dependent minor child, Obama.

    Obama’s mom, Ann Dunhma, married a guy named Soetoro, who was from Indonesia and he then moved back there. Once she finished her degree, Ann followed him to Indonesia. Back then, Indonesia was ruled by Suharto who was vehemently anti-American and so although Indonesia recognized some types of dual citizenship, it explicitly did not recognize dual American citizenship. Now, America didn’t care all that much what Suharto said, and if you became an Indonesian citizen (which required that you let your American citizenship go), you could just fill out a form and get it back.

    As a dependent minor, Obama’s citizenship followed his parent/guardian’s citizenship — since Ann became an Indonesian citizen, so did Obama, which meant he lost his American citizenship. It wasn’t his choice, his situation just followed his mom’s choice. When he came back to Hawaii, he never filled out the form to reclaim his American citizenship.

    As a non-citizen, Obama is not technically allowed to be President. Of course, he could just fill out the form and everything would be hunky-dory. At this point, though… he technically can’t be President.

  14. Just for the record, I really, really don’t want this to turn into a political thread. I especially do not want this to turn into an “Obama’s birth certificate” thread (but if we do, let’s discuss religion next because if we’re going to piss off a large chunk of the audience, why miss somebody?).

    But seriously, please don’t.

  15. I didn’t intend that kind of thing at all, Jim. While confident in my stances, I know how deleterious such arguments can be to the goodwill of an online community, especially when it has nothing to do with the content. Certainly proved an apt example though. But if you ever need someone to piss off religious people, I work cheap.

    I’m real big on the 1st Amendment, (as well as all the others, including the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which is always worth a good read) but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to mar our normally friendly discourse here with a flame war. I will defer and not post the easy refutation evident in the other person’s argument.

    Jim, I guess there’s always gonna be That one guy like that.

  16. The funny thing is that I’m not bugged by talking about politics–not even by talking about controversial subjects. My Dad taught political science at Hope College for 41 years.

    I grew up with every major political event playing in the background–debates, conventions, State of the Union addresses, and more. Most of the time I’d walk into the living room, I’d find that Dad had cut out political cartoons from the paper and put them on a table near his chair.

    On more than one vacation, we were camping somewhere in the middle of nowhere and he had the Republican or Democratic convention playing on the radio.

    So I’m not bothered by having politics come up, but after months of presidential campaigning and the election, I’m not optimistic about how well political discussions will go (this despite the fact that both PG and “That One Guy” were respectful).

    That’s not to say that there won’t be political content in the story… It just won’t be aimed at either of the US’s major parties. I’m going for big picture stuff when I go in that direction.

  17. I understand the burnout. Just when you thought it was all over, in comes all this other stuff.

    Really helps to make me feel better about my own life. Don’t have your act together? Screw it, neither do all these crazy fuckers on TV or the top of the military!

  18. It’s not the actual SUBJECT of the “long form” etc. it’s the subject of the CONSPIRACY THEORIES it has grown to represent. Back in the nineties there was a minor explosion of conspiracy theories after a couple of screwups by certain federal agencies that killed, or got killed, innocent people on live television.

    Back THEN, well..THOSE would have been the examples most ready to mind in a thread like this.

    Twelve years ago, it’d been the “9/11 Truthers”, or the “Vast Right-Wing-Conspiracy” (the last two elections should tell anyone who’s had to endure them that the VWRC either doesn’t exist, or can’t be a threat because they don’t have their act together even a little bit…)

    In the case of the Gentlemen getting his noodle tuned in the story-well, the closest I can see is one of the oldest chestnuts of the late 20th century-not flat-earthers, but the folks who still insist that the Apollo Programme was run not from NASA in Huston, but from a sound stage in Burbank.

    1. Saw a clip once of one of those guys confronting Neil Armstrong. Armstrong was an old man and he turned and put the your theorist on his ass with a punch.

      One of these days, Alice… Bam! Pow! Straight to da moon.

  19. And now to respond to a few other things:

    J.L.Dobias: Thanks for the typo. As for your other comment. It’s not all that hard to keep up. When I started, I deliberately chose a pace I could keep (1200-2000 words a week). As a result of deciding to stick with it, and not get overly ambitious, I’ve remained sane, and haven’t gotten overwhelmed.

    Dreamer/DWwolf/Lanir: I haven’t gone into the religious response to powers yet. Actually, in my view I haven’t gone as far as I need to with society’s response to powers in general. The key point in my opinion, is that while there are probably religious people who are irrationally favorable to powers and the people who have them, and religious people who are irrationally against them, the general response is all over the map.

    Religious people aren’t a monolithic block even within a particular religion, or even within a subset of that religion. Views are all over the map even when it’s just political and/or religious views.

    In general though, superheroes are treated as celebrities to a large degree. Thus I’m imagining that conservatives tend to like heroes with conservative views, and liberals will tend to like heroes with more liberal views.

    Anonymus: Limbaugh is a conservative radio host (who’s nationally known in the US). Roseanne Barr is an actress, most famous for a sitcom called Roseanne. Both are overweight.

    Silas Cova: Thanks for the typo. Are you going hiking/camping, or just someplace where you can’t get a reliable internet connection?

    Captain Mystic/Roger Willcocks/Anvildude/Notto: The potential for telepathy to manipulation of others is pretty wide both in terms of actively changing people’s opinions and passively detecting them and using them.

  20. Yeah, speaking of religious “blocs”, you have Mitt Romney on one hand and Harry Reid on the other hand. Other than both being pro-guns, which pretty much every serious politician is nowdays, since the pro-gun voters are so numerous, they’re rather opposite sides of the political spectrum, even though they both share the same religion.

    As far as Obama’s birth certificate goes, let me just say (and pardon my French), screw the birth certificate. As far as Obama’s citizenship goes, I don’t think it’s a conspiracy of any kind, it’s easy to see that for virtually every country a dependent minor’s citizenship follows their parent’s choices, and what happened in Obama’s life, and thus that he’s not technically a citizen now (solely because Suharto hated America so much way back when).
    “9. Have you taken an oath or made an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state?” Ann Dunham did, to a country that (at the time) explicitly rejected dual American-Indonesian citizenship, and Obama was her dependent child at the time.

  21. Listen, guy, it’s time to shut up. Once some nut like you appeared proving me right, the rest of us chose not to drag politics into this because this is a superhero story. Yeah, I’ve brought it up before and was gently told to stick to comic books and comedy. That doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about, it just means this isn’t the place for it.

    Just pack up your laughably infantile argument that shows a lack of understanding of the Constitution and take it elsewhere if you aren’t going to talk about teen superheroes fighting a superpowered conspiracy.

  22. Jim sorry for responding late but, glad to hear that religious views on powers will be covered, and I think that your preliminary sketch of that makes perfect sense. I am a Christian and my faith is very important to me and influences everthing I read.

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