Threat Analysis: Part 5

Amy closed her eyes, said a few words and poked her arm. As she pulled the pin out, her face visibly paled–even in the light of a streetlight.

Haley frowned. “Are you okay?”

Amy nodded slowly. “It’s not a difficult spell, but I don’t have as much power to work with without transforming. Could all of you hold out your arms?”

Camille extended her arm halfway to Amy, asking, “What are you–”

Amy grabbed Camille’s forearm, and poked her with the pin. “This.”

“Hey,” Camille said, and then her eyes widened. She looked around the park as if seeing it for the first time.

Amy guided her down to the ground. “Sit for now. If you see something, tell me before you do anything.”

Haley had watched Camille’s reaction just like the rest of us had. She stepped in front of Amy, asking, “What did you do?”

Amy’s left hand, the one without the pin, jerked toward her necklace before she stopped it. “I’m temporarily sharing my resistance to magic with you. We’ll have to work up something better when we get back.”

She held out her hand, inviting Haley to extend her arm. Haley did, and Amy pulled out her pin.

Within a minute or two, she’d finished with almost everyone–piercing Daniel’s, Izzy’s and Vaughn’s skin without a problem.

I went second to last and as the pin bit me, I understood why Camille had stared.

The world looked different. The gem on Amy’s necklace didn’t appear to be in any way unusual before the pin pricked me. Afterward, it glowed, illuminating everything around us with a low, reddish light.

Weirder, things appeared to move–not much, but a little, and only out of the corner of my eye. What exactly was I seeing? Did Amy look at the world this way all the time?

I was about to ask her when I realized that she was talking to Jaclyn, or vice versa.

Jaclyn’s lips curled as she looked at the the needle. “That’s completely unsanitary, and it won’t get through my skin.”

Amy held out the pin. “Then lick it.”

At Jaclyn’s frown, she said, “We can’t have you fall under their sway. Think about what it would mean if someone controlled you.”

Jaclyn took the pin, gave it a lick, and made a face. “That is simply disgusting.”

Amy took the pin.

The drive home probably felt like an acid trip. I say probably because I have no idea what an acid trip would be like. Fortunately, we had Vaughn along.

“It’s a lot like LSD,” he told Amy. “Not exactly like LSD because everything mostly still makes sense, but close.”

We had too many people in the van for everyone to have seats, so Izzy, Jaclyn and Cassie voluntarily sat on the floor, putting Vaughn and Amy in the second row. Haley and I were in the front. Daniel and Camille sat in the far back.

If the difference between this and LSD was that it made sense, I didn’t want to find out what drugs were actually like.

I kept seeing faces in the road.

One of them smiled at me, and dissolved into the pavement. I made a noise somewhere between a grunt and a squeak, and Haley turned toward me.

“The face?”

Not daring to do anything else, I gripped the steering wheel, and muttered, “Yes.”

From behind us, Amy asked, “Are you okay? I can drive.”

“I’m fine. Do you see this stuff all the time?”

“Yes.” Amy leaned forward. “Look, don’t worry about what you see unless it’s actually on the road. If it’s in the road or anything else, it’s a spirit. They’re everywhere.”

“Okay.” I took a breath, telling myself that all these creatures were here normally.

That sparked a memory. I’d briefly been possessed by a spirit of chaos. This felt a little like that. I’d been able to see spirits then too.

I settled into driving, feeling a little better after that.

Counting myself lucky that we’d taken so long to leave, I found the highway between Denver and Castle Rock to be almost entirely empty.

Despite seeing a ghostly buffalo head floating off to the side of the road, I did manage to get the van safely back to the Castle Rock compound without hitting anything.

A coyote watched us as we took the side entrance into the compound. I felt fairly sure it was an actual coyote instead of the Native American trickster god.

On the other hand, given the night so far, I knew better than to make assumptions.

I parked in the parking garage, and we all got out, preparing to head to our rooms. Amy stopped us as we stood in front of the elevator. “We need to meet in my lab tomorrow. I’ll work up a charm or something.”

We split up to go to our rooms. Well that was the plan anyway. I went to my lab. As I’d said, I needed to get into the Heroes League server and find out where Vaughn’s email had gone.

I’d barely gotten any steps down the hall when Haley took my arm.

“Are you going to your lab?” She walked next to me with a quick, purposeful stride.

“Just for a little while.”

“I’m going to go with you.” She took my hand, but from the way she concentrated and glanced behind us, it didn’t seem like a romantic gesture.

I opened my mouth to argue, but realized that she wasn’t going to listen to me.

When push came to shove, I couldn’t say I wasn’t grateful. As familiar as the rock corridors had become after the last few weeks, I didn’t feel comfortable that night.

The windowless halls felt too small, and too dark even with Amy’s sight.

It didn’t take long to get to the labs. Contrary to what I expected though, we weren’t the only ones there. We walked into the common room to hear the unmistakable buzz of a printer.

Light shone from the second lab down to the right of entrance. A tall, blond man stood kissing a woman–Gordon, Gifford’s older brother and his girlfriend Stephanie.

I wondered what they were printing.

20 thoughts on “Threat Analysis: Part 5”

  1. “That sparked a memory. I’d briefly been possessed by a spirit of chaos. This felt a little like that. I’d been able to see spirits then too.”

    Which reminds me, given the way Nick’s abilities are based on Logic, Evil Beatnik exploded when it came into contact with that.

  2. I didn’t wnat to find

    wnat = want

    I kept on seeing faces in the road

    Personally I’d suggest dropping ‘on’ from the sentence

    unless it’s walking on the road

    Might want to consider changing ‘walking’ to maybe ‘actually’ (otherwise it kinda implies that it’s not a threat if it’s running or just standing on the road)

  3. It is interesting how close to real mediunic vision your descriptions got.
    Any source among your friends?

    Nice mystery by the way.

    1. Eduardo: I don’t know anyone who is involved in that. However, I did major in religion and sociology in college.

      I’m most familiar with Christianity’s history and practise (thus ancient Greek, Roman, and Hebrew religion/culture), but I’ve also studied various religions of India, have some familiarity with Native American culture/religion, some familiarity with Vodou, and have a longstanding interest in mythology of any type.

      Thus, there’s a lot of potential sources available for me to draw from. If I got something right though, it’s largely unintentional.

  4. Nice switch of Nick into the world of magic!

    I guess he’s a bit in shock, at the moment. I’m waiting to hear him heading into full theory mode, about the missing 90% of the mass of the universe, the dark matter thingy, and magical/spiritual matter being the same thing. [grin]

    Followed by a Grand Unified Theory that includes all the known physical forces AND magic.

    Probably involving a reformulation of some flavour of String Theory into something testable outside using our local Galactic Core as a research lab…

    Will he start bothering Amy about building magic scanning sensor systems into the Rocket suit, if nothing else? If he does, I suspect he’d want to use non-blood based interface logic – at a guess Nick’d want to dig into alchemy?

    I find it interesting the pin worked on Izzy with no problem, and I wonder if it would’ve worked on Jaclyn, if she’d have let it? Maybe the pin had the blood weapon enchantment on it, that’d penetrate just about anything?

    Finally… Suspicious people might wonder if Nick and Haley have found where the e-mail went, the Castle Rock labs, and be wondering just how much of the translated transcripts is being printed out…


    Not quite a typo, but, “I kept seeing faces in the road”; should the word ‘in’ have some sort of emphasis on it, like being italics, or, maybe fully capitalised?

    Ditto, “unless it’s actually on the road. If it’s in the road or anything else, it’s a spirit”; should ‘on’ and ‘in’ be emphasised?

    And, this is more a suggestion, “I’d briefly been possessed by a spirit of chaos”; reading this in a series of books, would this have a footnote saying (roughly) when this occurred?

    Not sure where Nick falls on the politically correct, or academic accuracy, scale, but “actual coyote instead of the Indian trickster god”; would ‘Amerind’, or ‘Native American’, be better? I ask as I did a double-take trying to work-out which Hindu god this might be, before flipping into Anglo-American cultural mode.

  5. Yeah, you described it reasonably well.
    Only, it is more feeling than vision, but there are some glimpses here and there. Under trees, where people died (sometimes) … a face, a shadow, perhaps an optical hallucination.
    Yep, makes driving a bit difficult sometimes.
    I grew up listening to tales related to Orixas, Spirits and ghosts.

    And, when I was a small kid I had about a dozen friends. Not one “real” (or living) friend though.

  6. Nick is going to drive magical badguys crazy, I think. Especially if they can’t hide things from him easily with magic. They create odd scenarios and illusions where normal people would have their attention drawn in, and Nick will not even acknowledge them. He immediately picks up on the printer printing, as opposed to the two people making out in the lab.

    Being socially inept might save the world, or at least a few friends 😛

  7. Ooohhh, a mistery… or they could just be printing naked pictures of themselves (as if).

    So, Jim, I have a question: what year, day, month, etc is it now in the story? And for how long have Nick and Co. been in the superhero business?

  8. What are they printing? Yeah, Chekov’s gun. I think it’s transcripts of the emails as well.

    The world looked different. The gem on Amy’s necklace which hadn’t appeared to be anything more than a normal gem before. After, it glowed, illuminating everything around us with a low, reddish light.

    That paragraph above sounds a little stilted.

  9. Bart: I don’t know if it’s stilted, but it’s not much of a sentence. Thanks.

    Sean: Thanks. I’m glad you’re enjoying the story. That said, five days? That’s a lot of reading.

    Dreamer: Native American would likely be better. All the same, most people I know (including Native Americans) are more likely to say Indian. As for the typos and suggestions, I’ll look them over.

    My Very Own Name:
    A timeline:

    Rebirth (Book 1): Nick’s in the fall of his senior year in high school.
    Powers (books 2 and 3): Spring of his senior year and beginning of summer.
    Alien Machines and Evil Beatniks (book 4): Summer of that year.
    Freshman year (book 5): Fall of his first year in college.
    Glory (book 6): Winter/spring of his first year.
    Compound Kids (book 7): Summer after his first year in college.

  10. Jim, Nick’s probably pedantic enough to make a mental or even a verbal self-correction on himself, if you want to clarify it.

    …Indian, well, Native American… or some such.

  11. Maybe something like:

    The world looked different. Before the spell, the gem on Amy’s necklace hadn’t appeared to be anything more than a normal gem. Afterward, it glowed, illuminating everything around us with a low, reddish light.

  12. “she looked at the the needle” (doubled up ‘the’)

    Amy is fast approaching Rachel levels of awesomeness to me. (Starting to think I’ve got a thing for take-charge women who’ve had a slightly tormented past due to their powers… forget Nick taking drugs, what if Amy took them, given she already sees this stuff??) I somehow can’t think magic resistance is THAT easy, otherwise it would be available in corner drugstores, but then Amy is playing by different rules.

    I’m a bit surprised no one in the group brought up the fact that it was a vision of AMY that Vaughn saw, and who he shared the information with. That implies either some reciprocated feelings on his part, or a gamble based on hearing Amy’s conversation. The latter doesn’t bode well. Interesting that their adversary has gone to humanoid sized fairies too.

    One last random question, if they all got to Denver in the van, and there wasn’t enough space then, wouldn’t it be more “we sat the same way we did coming down, that is to say etc etc” instead of pointing out there not being enough seats?

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