How do you respond to that? Saying, “How cool. Would you mind showing me your grandfather’s lair?” seemed a little off somehow. The question I really wanted to know the answer to, “So are you planning to build a new set of armor and hunt down the Rocket in revenge?” didn’t seem quite like the right thing to say either.
Keith and Courtney didn’t share my hesitation.
“So they’re just giving you his stuff?” Keith talked loudly enough that people at the tables around us looked in his direction.
Meanwhile Courtney said, “That’s got to be such a piece of history.”
“They’re not giving it to me,” Chris said. “It’s Grandpa’s stuff so they’re putting it back in Grandpa’s and Grandma’s basement.” He paused. “His lair.”
“That’s so cool,” Courtney said.
“Maybe,” Chris said. “Not having Grandpa in jail would be cooler.”
“Well,” she said. “I didn’t mean it that way, but your grandpa made history. He was one of the greatest villains the original Rocket ever faced. It’s not good for you, but those old villains and heroes are so… classic. You know?”
Chris’ expression left little doubt that he didn’t care how “classic” his grandfather was. People got back to eating which was nice for everyone, but especially Chris.
I definitely owed him some kind of apology for throwing him to the wolves.
Fortunately, the conversation faded. Keith finished first and and Courtney soon after.
As they got up, Keith said, “I was going to tell you earlier, but get this… Have you been following the Double V forums lately?”
“No,” I said. “I got back yesterday and I was way too busy while I was there to go online.”
“Some guy linked to this massive PDF on Pirate Bay. It looks like it’s a collection of government documents about how to create supers. It’s full of chemical formulas and a note by some guy who said that he couldn’t in good conscience let the government be the only one with access to this stuff so he put it all online. Information wants to be free, you know?”
“He?” Courtney said.
“Whatever,” Keith said. “Whoever it was didn’t sign their name.”
“Hey,” he said, looking at Chris, “You think we could try to cook up some of this stuff in your grandpa’s lair?”
Chris didn’t look amused. “No. My Grandpa did electronics and big, mechanical armor. He didn’t do chemistry. I’m sure he didn’t have the equipment.”
“Couldn’t hurt to ask,” Keith said, and they left.
I found myself staring after them as they passed people at their tables, and walked out the door. I’d known that the government had made use of the Cabal’s ability to give people temporary powers. I’d even known that the power juice formulas had made it outside to organized crime, but, the Pirate Bay?
I knew it didn’t work for everybody. In fact I felt pretty sure from what Vaughn said that it only worked on people with the potential for powers anyway. I couldn’t help but think though, that even if the number of people with potential was small, empowering everyone with the potential would still change a lot of things.
“Bizarre,” Chris said. “I wonder if it would work on me?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
I spent the rest of the school day distracted and biked straight to my grandfather’s home afterward.
Taking the elevator down to Heroes League HQ, I sat down at the computer terminals at the main table, and set them to follow major news channels and websites and to alert me if anything related to the Pirate Bay, superpowers, and other associated words came up.
In the meantime, I went into the forums of Villains and Vigilantes, affectionately known as “Double V,” the magazine and website that acted as a news source on, and professional journal for supers.
It wasn’t hard to find the link, follow it back to the Pirate Bay and download the torrent. To judge from the thousands of people currently seeding it, I guessed that it had to get on the news soon if it wasn’t already.
It took me maybe five minutes to download it. Then I opened it up.
The pdf was several thousand pages. It included multiple studies, government trials, multiple versions of the formulas for creating powerjuice, and finally the documents that the original formulas came from. I recognized a few of them from when I broke into Martin Magnus’ house in Chicago, and called in Isaac Lim to confiscate his stuff.
That wasn’t all though.
More refined versions of the original formulas came in a notebook. I recognized both the handwriting and notebook itself. It looked just like all of Red Lightning’s journals that we’d seen when we visited his lair under Hardwick House. The handwriting looked like Red Lightning’s handwriting — except where it looked just like my grandfather’s. His showed up more in the diagrams for the Power Impregnator. The diagrams and formulas for the Impregnator weren’t complete by any means — just preliminary work. We had the complete set here. What they had in the journal would never work — though I decided to cross check it just in case.
Still it was interesting for a couple reasons.
First of all, our FBI liaison Isaac Lim had been asking me about the Power Impregnator. I’d evaded the questions.
Second, he’d evidently been lying to us too. Vaughn asked him if he’d seen the book of formulas that Vaughn had passed on to the Cabal. Isaac had said no. It made sense that they hadn’t found it in Magnus’ house since Magnus had split off from the Cabal, but they’d apparently come across it afterward.
The government didn’t seem to have put much effort into the Impregnator though. They’d concentrated their effort on making easily reproduced powerjuice. I felt fairly sure that if you could just get the ingredients you could put it together in a high school chemistry lab — maybe even at home.
I sat back in my chair, thinking about it.
The elevator hummed, pulling me out of my thoughts.
I turned away from the screen and looked past the trophies on their pedestals, the cardboard boxes filled with old equipment, and the mementos picked up during forty years of work to see the door of the elevator open.
Haley stepped out and walked across the room toward me. “Nick, how was Los Angeles?”
She looked at the screen. “What are you doing?”