The Unusual Suspects: Part 2

In the distance, a muffled voice said, “Dad? Are you up there?” The voice sounded like it belonged to someone male and around my age.

Lim said, “I’ll be down in a second.” Looking back at the camera, he said, “Do you have anything else? I should stop working for the day.”

“Nothing,” I said. I’d never even thought about whether he had a family. He was old enough to have kids around my age, and it was easy to imagine he might be married, but it hadn’t come up.

“Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if something important happens,” he said as we hung up.

From all the places I’d seen in the background when I’d called him—spaceships, naval vessels, wilderness, and cities nowhere near Washington D.C., I wondered how often he saw his family, and how much he could say about his job.

His family dynamic had to be the mirror image of mine. He was involved in top secret stuff, and probably everyone in the family knew it—no mental blocks preventing them from realizing what was going on under their noses.

In my family at this point, everyone but my dad knew what was going on. What would he think when his block finally disintegrated? Would he handle it like Mom had, and quietly process for months? Or, would it be more explosive?

I hoped not. I still wasn’t even sure how Mom had actually adjusted to it. She’d told us to keep her informed of what we were doing, and it made sense—if only because it meant Mom could handle Dad. All the same, I had no idea what Mom planned to do with anything we told her.

Nearly a year’s worth of time since coming out from under the block had to have taken the edge off of whatever she felt about it, right? Plus, in the conversation after our meeting with the board, she’d said she’d been talking to Daniel’s parents, and a little to Cassie’s mom.

I stood up, getting off the stool. I had a little homework left, but once I finished it, I’d be able to work on Cassie’s armor, and maybe get started on planning more. It had occurred to me that there might be situations where the whole team might need armor—a fight in space being a great example.

Working out armor designs sounded like a lot more fun than the alternative—trying to figure out which alien race had attempted to use True Humanity to wipe out humanity.

Lee, my best likely information source, was out on some kind of personal project this week, and wasn’t answering his phone. The good news was that he’d likely be at Stapledon this weekend.

I’d probably be able to catch him before or after class.

* * *

It felt like an impromptu team meeting. Jaclyn, Cassie, Izzy, Vaughn, Daniel, and I all managed to fit around the same table in the cafeteria. We were at one of the Stapledon camps. The place probably had a name, but I didn’t know what it was—probably something short like “Camp 2.”

That was better than my personal name for it which was, “That Underground Bunker in a Grassy Field Somewhere in the Midwest. Probably Nebraska.”

It was the nicest bunker ever though—carpeted floor wherever there wasn’t dark stained hardwood. Big screen televisions hung on the walls, showing the news.

Jaclyn interrupted my thoughts. “Who do you think we ought to bring in?”

“Everyone we invited to the movies,” Cassie said. “Shannon, Julie, and Lucas if he’s interested.”

Vaughn groaned. “Shannon and Julie I can see. They’re here. Lucas? Ok, I can see it. He’s smart. He’s a doctor, and a nice guy, but, he’s not in Stapledon. He probably isn’t even interested.”

Jaclyn nodded, probably remembering Vaughn’s mixed feelings about the guy. Lucas had been the “perfect” cousin when he’d been growing up. Vaughn had been the “troubled, drug abusing cousin.”

“We should still ask him,” she said. “He’s been friendly to us.”

Shrugging, Vaughn said, “You may as well. So… Sydney’s in, and we’re not going to ask Sean?”

I stopped eating a cheeseburger long enough to say, “I hope not. About Sean, that is. I see way too much of him already.”

Daniel glanced over at me, and then said, “No one under 18 technically signed up. The contracts don’t count unless you sign them when you’re over 18, but dad’s going to bring them to Sydney and Camille’s moms, and they can sign.”

Jaclyn turned toward me. “What about Haley?”

That I could answer, but mainly because I’d put Haley’s birthday into my calendar. “Haley’s eighteenth birthday is next week. She’s officially signing up then.”

Nodding, Jaclyn added, “Marcus told me his mom was signing for him. I don’t see how that works if she’s blocked. Is she?”

Daniel picked up his fork. “My dad didn’t say, but he’s never liked the block. I can’t imagine that he’d use her signature if she couldn’t understand the contract.”

“So,” Vaughn said, “no Sean, and no Dayton or Jody either?”

Izzy looked up from her salad. “Jody and Dayton are the two guys who hang around with him all the time?”

“Right,” Jaclyn said. “No Jody because there’s something not right with that guy. Last week at the speedster camp—“

She stopped. “I’m not going to say it, but definitely no Jody. Getting called out because of St. Louis was a relief.”

“Dayton?” Vaughn asked.

Daniel shook his head. “He’d never join if Sean and Jody didn’t. He’s too loyal to his friends.”

Vaughn nodded. “You’re right, but I wish we could bring them in somehow. Sean’s going to be really pissed when he finds out.”

18 thoughts on “The Unusual Suspects: Part 2”

  1. Yes missing maybe an I there and two paragraphs below that there are some words mixed up a small bit. I’m sure when you’ve had your coffee and read through this again you’ll find it.

    [Quote]Lee, my best likely information source, was on out some kind of personal project this week[/quote]

    I still don’t know how you keep up with penning this on schedule as it is, but by all means keep it coming.

    1. Thanks for the fixes, everybody. I think I’ve made the changes.

      As for how I have to keep up with updates… It’s not that hard. I know I have time to write about 2000 words a week, and block out a time to do it.

      Actually, I can write more than that, meaning I have flexibility as to when I do it.

  2. Seems like Nick creating an arch-nemesis with almost every interaction (or lack) with Sean.
    He’s keeps trying to invite Sean’s friends to the group without Sean. He’s made his antagonism fairly obvious. He’s got an in with the other supers in positions of power.

    The next time Sean makes a mistake that gets him in trouble, he’s going to blame Nick (rightly or wrongly).

    I’m also worried that Sean’s issues are not a lack of intelligence, but only a lack of years of training and habits – and a bit of impatience. Give him a few years of super-hero training and practice with utility use of powers and I see him being extremely dangerous.

  3. Sean is a self-entitled dick with an inferiority complex. He’s always been a bully. I wonder if the Stapledon people recognize that, and are requiring mandatory therapy sessions for him. Otherwise, they’re just training an asshole how to be a super-asshole.


  4. Sean’s most obvious method of retaliation would be to expose their secret identities to the media.

    While trying to predict the direction of the story is dangerous, to some extent I feel like a blown identities plot is being set up. A lot of dominoes would start to fall very fast.

  5. Well, now..ahem…I hate to be that guy, you know the “good guy” of the group. I bounce between chaotic evil and chaotic neutral, though, so I can occasionally get away with it.

    At this time, instead of being purposefully isolated and left to his own devices to stew, this is a great time to try and make amends, meet him, and try and do more to include him. Pushing him away for being a dick may just make things worse. He might still be a dick and ultimately be a bad fit for the group, but they still have the block to help them out in that regard. But having peers to work with and help give him an example may help to soften some rough edges.

    And if it doesn’t work, I suggest smacking him in the face with a frozen fish.

  6. Nick could tinker up a frozen chicken gun. Non-ferrous ammo and with enough force to shatter the windscreen on a 747.

    Seriously though, I could see Lee training Nick to be the Batman or Cyclops of this universe, studying every strength and weakness of enemies and friends alike and devising strategies to take them out if needed.

  7. To disagree with PG, I don’t really think that superheroics is the sort of business where everybody gets a medal for effort and needs to always be included, even the ginger kid who eats glue.

    It’s a field that’s highly stressful in several ways, not least of which being the fact that if things go wrong, you’re dead. In that kind of work it’s more usual to specifically make sure you DON’T include unreliable loose cannons who don’t mesh with the team, because it’s a lesser evil to exclude some people than it is to fail at saving the world.

    Also, if someone can’t deal with being excluded for being a dick that means they’re still a dick and would keep being a dick even if included. It’s the dick that should be looking to make amends if they’ve gotten over being a dick. As every teenage and older male knows, handling a dick gently and with affection just makes it grow into an even bigger dick. Dick dick dick.

  8. I see Mazzon is a fan of Freudian psychiatry.

    I’m not talking taking him along saving the world straight away. I mean, most heroes are supposed to start out small. Learn some humility by beating on muggers and burglars and robbers. You learn a lot of humility when someone gets away or knocks a few of your teeth out with a brick or a wood baseball bad. Justice Fist didn’t go through that phase. The League didn’t either, but they still paid for it at first and had more support than Justice Fist getting going.

    Now for some reason, Mazzon’s comment reminded me of this music video:

    No clue why, as it’s really a song speaking out against a South African tribal circumcision tradition.

  9. @PG: Actually, Mazzon is right. In combat situations, Sean behaves like he thinks he’s a Cowboy Cop in an action movie where if he’s not in charge the people who are actually in authority and know more than he does MUST be “in on it” with the Bad Guys to prevent him “THE HERO” from saving the day and getting the girl. Which is total bullshit self-delusion of course, you see a person’s true nature in their interactions with their “inferiors” and the opposite sex; just look at how he treated Nick when all Sean knew was that he was a Geek/Nerd, a Jock (Sean’s) “social inferior” and how Sean treated Haley when they were dating. Giving Sean superhero training would be like giving a gangbanger a badge and a gun and telling him to “protect the innocent” i.e. run a protection racket.

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