Any idea who we’d tell? I continued running, wondering if anyone was noticing the conversation.
It wasn’t as if we were cheating.
Still, there were telepaths out there who could listen in on conversations like this. Even if people agreed with the idea, one unknown listener was one too many.
I felt agreement from Daniel at that unarticulated thought. Then he answered my question.
I’m thinking my dad would be best. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s even done something like it before. Daniel thought at me, and I felt his mind going in several directions–images of his dad when he was younger and working for military intelligence, and of his mom who had done the same job but for Israel.
With both of them being telepaths and her with a variation on that talent that intelligence agencies would love, I could only guess what sort of jobs they’d collaborated on.
This is one of those ‘better to ask forgiveness than permission’ things, Daniel thought at me. We shouldn’t tell them till we’ve got something good.
Not long after that we were told to stop. I wasn’t completely dead which was nice for a change.
Since exercise didn’t take up most of the day like it had on Saturday, we were introduced to the classes we’d be taking–search and rescue, and of course, combat training.
The last course of the day was the elective. The Stapledon program didn’t have a lot of choices, but it did allow people to specialize. I’d specialized in technology.
So around three o’clock in the afternoon I found myself walking into the program’s labs. Located on the foothill’s first level with the parking garage, the labs were a suite of rooms, all of them fairly large.
For example, mine was large enough that it fit the van. I’d parked it in the corner, but the lab had a wide, retractable door that allowed access to the parking garage. That wasn’t all though. The lab also contained all the fabrication machines, 3-d printers, and other tools I’d said I’d need.
I’d opened up a spot for Rocket suit to sit (as a block) next to my desk, and I’d already covered the table in the middle of the room with roachbot parts.
I stepped inside through the human sized door to the side of the van’s entrance into my lab, set the Rocket suit to disassemble, and walked out of my lab into the main area.
A big square, the main room stood in the middle of labs like mine. Strange machines filled half the room–an enormous organ with huge gears that would have fit in on the cover of a steampunk novel, unknown blocky devices of alien, greenish-gray metal, a group of orbs that circled the room near the ceiling, but sometimes swooped down.
I passed those machines and more until I reached the middle of the room where someone had set up thirty normal desks.
Wearing a dark green suit, Dr. Nation sat in a chair next to a clear pane of glass approximately as wide as the front of the classroom.
I didn’t recognize very many people at all.
Keon sat behind a desk in a normal looking wheelchair–except that a dark box hung in the normally empty space under that seat.
A few seats down from him in the front sat Courtney–which was a surprise. I hadn’t know what she’d be picking for her elective class this semester, or her specialization.
I sat down in the empty seat to her right. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“I don’t know why not,” she said. “I don’t know how to do anything else. I know the obvious thing would be to take the track where they teach you how to be a spy, but whatever I look like now, I don’t think I can do that. I’m not that good with people.”
I started to say, “I don’t think you’re bad with people,” but Dr. Nation interrupted me.
“Welcome everyone. I hope you all had a chance to take a look at your lab yesterday. If there’s anything you feel you need that we’ve missed, talk to me and we’ll see if we can provide it.”
He grinned at the class. “Now I’m sure many of you only know me as the sadistic bastard who came up with the workout schedule, but I’m more than that. In this class, we’re all going to have time to get to know each other better. As the professor, I hope you’ll excuse me for going first.”
Smiling through his mustache, he said, “I’m Dr. Frederick Nation. I’ve lived all over the country, but longest and most often in San Francisco. In the 1970’s, I experienced a vision of myself as a burrito themed superhero, and quickly constructed the costume and weapons of Yellow Burrito.”
Pausing, he made a quick sweep of the classroom with his eyes.
“I’d been a bright child, but I’d never done anything along those lines–creating technology out of nowhere without years of development. Some of you have had this experience. It was both disorienting and amazing. Soon enough, I’d begun to make a name for myself in San Francisco and a few years later I was an apprentice to the original Rocket. The Heroes League had a program where they trained supers.”
He caught my eye as he said, “It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I hope this program can be one of yours.”
After that he went into more detail about what we’d be doing for the summer, ending with, “After class I’m going to ask you individually about your summer project, so don’t leave.”
After he finished and we’d introduced ourselves, we all lined up to speak to him. I knew that I’d be working on the technology I’d used in the new Rocket suit and the van, so I spent much of that time thinking about Turkmenistan.
I doubted that I’d be able to get away from school long enough to fly over with the League jet and distribute roachbots. That mean that I’d have to find another way.
I wondered if any of my fellow students could help.