Spin: Part 8

If Mom’s voice wasn’t the last one I expected to hear then, it would be hard to name a less likely one.

Ok, not that hard. Dad’s would be less likely.

Rachel turned and her eyes widened. “Mom?”

She’d been saying something to Jaclyn, but she stepped toward Mom as Jaclyn stepped out of her way. Jaclyn blinked, and muttered something to Rachel.

I missed whatever it was, and I’m not sure Rachel caught it.

Not sure where else to go, I said, “We could go to the lab. It’s over—“

Quietly, Mom said, “I know where it is.”

Given that she was down here, it made sense that she would. Given that she’d never made any reference to it during the entire rest of my life… Well, it felt a little weird.

We followed her toward the lab, away from where everyone else was talking. In a minute, we’d passed through all the trophies and mementoes the League had collected. Mom stared as we passed the stand that had held Evil Beatnik’s ring, and her eyes lingered a little longer than I would have expected on “the Starplate,” Daniel’s and my nickname for a device that allowed access to other realities.

Even though it had been sitting in HQ all my life, I’d never had the nerve to experiment with it. Grandpa had made it very clear to me what the risks were.

We all walked into the lab, and I shut the door behind us.

Mom looked around the room, at the tables, the fabricators, the welding equipment, computers, tools, 3D printers, and versions of the Rocket suit. Some of it was Grandpa’s. Some of it was new.

She looked down at the box where I’d put the little blocks that made up Cassie’s suit prototype, opened her mouth for a second, but didn’t say anything.

Then she pulled out a chair next to one of the tables, and said, “Could both of you sit down? Please?”

Rachel pulled a chair away from the wall, and I grabbed a stool. The other chair was across the room, and anyway, acid had eaten away part of the seat.

Mom had taken off her coat and hung it on the back of the chair, something she never did, something she’d actually told us not to do. Unfortunately for her, the lab didn’t have a coatrack. People were supposed to put coats in the locker room—which by this time might hold people taking showers.

She looked at us, pursing her lips in a way that made me think she might actually be nervous. Mom had worked as a publicist in Chicago, and later in New York before she met Dad, and moved back to Grand Lake. Nervousness wasn’t something that fit her.

I hoped she wasn’t about to forbid us from being part of the League.

She had flashes of the toughness that I’d sometimes seen in Grandpa and Grandma. She might be able to make it stick.

“Mom,” Rachel began.

Mom held up her right hand, and Rachel stopped.

When she did talk, she said, “I’m sorry. I feel like I left you to fend for yourselves. I know I couldn’t have done much, and if what David’s dad said is right, I’d have hurt you. I still feel like I never should have let them put the block in.”

Rachel jumped in even as I rolled that last two sentences around in my head. Mom let them put the block in, and she’d known what Daniel’s grandfather said about the League.

“Let?” Rachel asked. “I didn’t know skipping the block was an option.”

Mom shook her head. “It wasn’t an option if you didn’t have powers. It was an option if you did. And I did. I do. You saw what happened at that cottage when those people held me hostage. I phased out of the ropes.”

“So you’ve got Grandma’s powers?” I said.

She shook her head again. “No, I don’t. All I can do, all I’ve ever been able to to is make part of my arms and legs phase out.”

“Oh,” Rachel’s brow furrowed as she thought. “You can’t do much with that except… maybe… kill people?”

She was right. Not being able phase your whole body through walls ruled out sneaking into places, but it still allowed one of Grandma’s major tricks—the ability to phase small objects through walls, armor and skin.

Mom nodded slowly. “That’s what Lee said except he was happy for me.”

Well, Lee being Lee, he would have been.

Mom kept on talking, but her eyes glistened. “If he’d trained me, he’d have built my training around slipping bombs inside people’s clothes or ripping up people’s insides. I was horrified. My parents were horrified, and they told me I didn’t have to. Then they told me about what the Mentalist was beginning to understand—that if I had children they wouldn’t survive unless I left them to take care of themselves.”

She looked from one of us to the other. “Neither of you had been born. I’d never even met your father. It seemed so far away. I told them that they could do whatever they needed to. I wanted you to have the best chance you could, and I still do. But right now, I feel like I wasted twenty-seven years.”

13 thoughts on “Spin: Part 8”

  1. Well, the mystery of the mother is solved. She’s got rather annoying powers, in that it would be hard to do much with them them other than kill people. Perhaps you could use them to slip drugs like tranquilisers or hallucinogens inside people’s bloodstreams, but that could easily kill them. It would be funny though.

  2. @Visler:
    In a low power universe, if they didn’t know who you were and what you could do, yes she would. When your enemies are prepared for full power Ghost, being Ghost Lite would really blow. You get the one surprise move because they think you’re helpless, then they turn on the Ghost countermeasures and bad things happen to you.

  3. Ah, what I didn’t think of would be making things intangible then removing them, instead of putting things into the body then making them tangible. There are uses for that, it could be very effective. Not as good as Ghost, but still pretty good.

  4. … She could be an excellent surgeon. No entry points required, and phasing a tumor out of someones body has to be at least as neat as cutting it out.

  5. Only issue with that, Saru, is that most tumors create major blood vessels that need to be cauterized or sutured closed when the tumor is removed- She’d still be able to be a great surgeon, but it’d be a bit more involved than “Stick hand in, yank tumor out”.

  6. Of course she could implant tracking devices and remove the food out of people’s stomachs causing the enemy to waste all their time eating. (Also great for weight loss plans – Rook Light anyone?)

  7. Luke/Visier: In a low power universe, or at least one where she didn’t much attention, being a spy or thief with one special trick would work well.

    Saru/Anvildude/Jerden: On the “removing items from bodies” theme, I thought about having Nick mention surgery as an option, but it slowed things down a little. So, I didn’t.

    Notto: Um… Yuck?

    In general: The thing that stinks for Nick’s mom is that the power that she has doesn’t really fit her personality and interests. She’s got not interest in being a thief, assassin, spy or even a surgeon. What she finds interesting is business, a field where her ability won’t help much at all.

  8. @Jim
    Well, it will let her slip her hand out of those ultra-macho bone-crusher handshakes that business people so favor. She could also use it to keep people from stepping on her toes, at least in the literal sense…

  9. You say she is interested in business. She could be a great pick pocket.

    Even “borrowing” papers from locked briefcases for a quick look see.

  10. Hrm, as a business person. Being able to phase objects into and out of a container with no entry or exit point would be rather secure for documents.

    Have someone make you a safe – with no door. Only supers, or people with lots of tools and time are getting into it, it they even know what it is, or where it is.

  11. I read two chapters ahead and had a Fridge moment:

    “She looked down at the box where I’d put the little blocks that made up Cassie’s suit prototype, opened her mouth for a second, but didn’t say anything.”

    Was she about to make a suggestion on how to improve what she saw, then decided that she didn’t want to run nick off on a tangent?

    She does design work. Web design. If she does it really, really well, she might have a bit of both her mother’s and her father’s gifts.

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