Storytime on Thursday as usual, yay!
And this time, it’s Dallas’s turn again. Come on out, buddy.
So last week/on Sunday, Wolfgang had some -interesting things- happen to him. And noooow, we’re back to Dallas and his interesting things.
-bad job at hiding spoilers-
Just catch up here.
And now, presenting Part 8!
A piping hot mess
I did go to sleep after my powers mysteriously turned back on. Only it took just a little bit longer because I was out of practice restraining the abilities and teleported out of my bed from nervousness a couple of times.
How could this happen? Who could have done it? Why?
If my accidental power usage hadn’t tired me further enough to finally get to sleep, I probably would have been up all night trying to puzzle it out.
For the first time in months, I slept through my alarm. When I woke up, it was already a few minutes past six. The sun was already up and I could hear Mushroom snuffling around his bowl.
I shot upright in bed, instantly awake. Already wasted a half hour I could have been at work figuring this out. I needed to ask about that fire. Figure out who could have possibly gotten the controls to turn back on the superpowers. Did Mr. Fernsby have his back? The other heroes?
I tumbled out of bed and quickly got dressed. I collected my papers back up as fast as I could, fed Mushroom and ran out to my car, bringing a comb in my pocket to get my hair in order. I’d gotten out of the habit of breakfast and didn’t have time anyway.
It was a bit tricky trying to comb my hair while I drove. Especially since I’d slept oddly and one side refused to lay down completely flat. I had to give it up in favor of concentrating on driving.
The sun’s higher angle reminded me every second that I’d woken up late and I needed to hurry.
I bit down on my lip hard as I came around the corner and headed down into the parking garage. At least I could lay out what I needed to do mentally. And it was a little easier this morning since I didn’t have a headache.
Research the fire and the power switches. Find out a little bit and wait until at least after nine to call Mr. Fernsby . . . no, wait, he’d be at work too and I’d probably interrupt him. Darn, he probably already was at work, since he started at six. Maybe I could call around lunchtime.
I went down a couple of levels and parked my truck in the usual spot. The level was nearly empty, as usual. Just one dusty old car parked in the corner.
I got out, grabbing my keys and reaching over for my bag. My face reddened a little as I pulled it out.
I’d stuffed the papers in the wrong bag. This was my Captain America backpack, not the professional, black one that was specifically for carrying official papers.
I winced as I looked down at it. I liked the backpack, but . . .
This isn’t professional. No, no . . . do I go back and . . .? No, I don’t have any time for that . . . It’s already six-fifteen.
My hands flickered blue for a second and all of a sudden, I was standing over against the other wall, the backpack still gripped in my hands.
I jumped a little, then straightened up. I took a deep breath as I went back to lock up my car. After not having these powers for over a year, I’d forgotten how easy it was to let them out of control if I wasn’t paying attention. I seemed to always teleport when I was nervous. Forcefields sometimes happened by accident when I was scared.
And I had them back now.
God, why . . .
I swung the backpack over my shoulder and went over to the elevator. It was the only bag I had and sometimes a bit of professionalism had to be sacrificed for efficiency.
I stepped into the elevator and the doors slid shut. I saw a little of my reflection on the metal and realized my hair was still sticking out on one side.
Darn it. I fumbled for my comb, making the most of the elevator ride up to get my hair looking presentable.
The doors slid open with a ding, leading into the hallway of the SPI building. Many more people were around than usually were when I showed up. Other agents carried papers from one place to another and got their coffee from the break room before shuffling off to work.
I didn’t think I needed the extra boost of coffee this morning. I’d slept in, and . . . well, the adrenaline from this new, somewhat terrifying development was keeping me awake very well.
I ducked my head and hurried towards the records department. First, to return the papers from yesterday. Then I needed to request the new ones. Anything pertaining to the fire, or control panels of the superpowers. What had happened to that giant switchboard Mansley had after the program disbanded.
I shifted my backpack again, hoping too many people didn’t see it and think I was unprofessional.
What am I going to find?
A wisp of a forcefield flickered up around me and bumped another agent before I caught myself.
The agent stumbled and turned, looking for what had hit him. “What the . . .?”
“Sorry, sir.” I hurried on before he could ask.
The amount of information they had on the power controls was very small. I finished reading and re-reading it before the hour was out. Nothing. I had no idea where the switchboard had gone. To all appearances, it looked like it had been destroyed when the project ended.
The papers on the fire were more extensive. But I still wasn’t finding much.
I read through them all by the time it was nine o’clock. I went to get a cup of tea, then came back and skimmed them through again. I went on the computer and background checked the agents mentioned by name. Nothing.
I leaned back in my chair and rubbed my hands over my face, letting out a sigh.
Maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place. Maybe I just needed to talk to Mr. Fernsby or some of the other heroes and they’d know something.
I leaned over and wrote the names of the agents mentioned in the papers about the fire, quickly jotted down on a sticky note and then stuck on one of my cupboards along with other sticky notes with possible leads.
Now, it wasn’t lunch break yet. But I could go return the records at least. I was done with them.
I put everything in order and placed them back in their files. Made sure the paperclips were in place and the pages were the right way, then I put them in my bag. I stood and went out the door.
More agents were moving around, going to get coffee and things. I kept a careful hold on my powers, trying to put the old mental barriers back in place so I would barely even have to think about it.
Around one corner, then another, then I was out into the main area. The records desk was just to the left.
I walked over and swung my Captain America backpack down. The zipper made a zinging noise as I pulled the bag back open to grab the papers.
“Hello again, Mr. Knight. Can I help you with anything?” the record lady’s voice came down from her high desk.
I pulled out the files and looked up, holding them up to her. “Just returning these, thank you, ma’am.”
She smiled and adjusted her glasses as she took them back. “Thank you. You found what you were looking for, I hope?”
I hesitated for a second. “I found . . . everything there was to find in them, thank you.”
I realized that was the third “thank you” that had been exchanged in this short conversation and felt my face redden a little. Just don’t teleport or anything.
“Well, that’s . . .” she trailed off, her gaze going to something off behind me. Her brow furrowed in a slight frown.
“Is something wrong?” I asked, zipping my pack back up and pulling it up on my shoulders again.
She kept looking for another second before looking back at me and answering my question. She pointed. “Is that the Wol- . . . I mean, your friend? Back there?”
I turned to look and my eyebrows went up in surprise.
It was Wolfgang alright. Goodness, I usually heard when he came in. He had a habit of entering the building pretty obviously.
Now he was just walking at a normal, slightly slower walk. His head ducked, his jacket zipped and his hands crammed in his pockets.
Maybe he was actually learning to be a bit less obvious after all this time. That would be nice.
Well, if he was coming in here, he was probably looking for me. And he was someone who might have knowledge on the Hero Project topic. Maybe the powers. At least I needed to tell someone this crazy new development.
I started to go to him, then stopped myself, turning back to the records lady. “Thank you, ma’am.” I turned again and went for Wolfgang, pausing for only a second to mentally kick myself for saying “thank you” yet again.
Wolfgang seemed to be on an automatic course towards my office, keeping his gaze on his feet as he walked. I noticed now that his steps seemed a little stilted. Maybe he’d hurt his leg or something . . . the leg he’d broken had been aching a bit sometimes.
I sped my pace, coming over next to him. “Wolfgang?”
Wolfgang jumped and sucked in a breath. He froze in place, closing his eyes for a few seconds like I’d given him a heart attack.
I stopped. “Are you alright?”
He swallowed and opened his eyes, straightening up. His breath came out in a slow whoosh. “I just . . . need to talk with you about something. About your research.” He spoke the words in a low, strained voice.
I nodded, looking around us before motioning him to keep walking towards my office. Nobody else was out in the hall at the moment.
“I have a few things to tell you too,” I said, keeping my voice low like he had. “I’m studying a . . . a new lead. Last night . . . I . . .” I fiddled with the cuffs of my sleeves. How would he even believe me? This was ridiculous. And I really couldn’t show him while we were in the building.
I took a breath and leaned over closer. “Last night, my powers turned back on.”
Wolfgang’s eyebrows raised slightly as he looked over at me.
I shrugged helplessly, spreading my hands. “I mean it, they did. I have no idea how or . . . who could have done it. But I was just sitting there and studying late last night and there was a shock. I teleported straight across the street and . . . I just can’t imagine why . . .” I stopped for a second, checking my voice to a smaller whisper. “This links in, I know it. I’m looking, but I still really don’t have a clue who would turn my powers back on, or why.”
Wolfgang nodded slowly, his shoulders still hunched and tight as he walked. “I . . . might have an idea.”
My brow furrowed as I watched him. A bit of hope rose inside me. “Did you find something?”
“You could say that,” Wolfgang’s words sounded like someone had a tight grip around his chest.
I stopped. “How?” Did he have sources I didn’t know about?
“Listen, can we just talk in your office?”
“I . . . yes, yes of course.” I shook my head and hurried up to open the door. It brushed against the carpet as I pushed it in, holding it for Wolfgang as he stepped inside.
There was a chair off to the side he usually sat in when he came and visited. I gestured to it with a nod and closed the door.
Wolfgang remained standing. He brought his hands out of his pockets and ran them up through his hair, making it even wilder than usual. He let out a slow breath.
I stayed where I was for a second before edging over behind my desk. “So, what did you have to say?” I paused, taking in his rigid expression and posture. “And . . . are you . . . alright?”
“Listen, when I . . .” he gripped the edge of my desk. “When I was asking you all that stuff the other day about your research, it wasn’t just . . . me being nosy. I was sort of . . . well, doing research of my own. Because, I got these in the mail.” He put his hand in his pocket again and pulled it out with a piece of paper and his car keys.
Wolfgang stopped and took a breath. He didn’t look to be in pain. It was just like he was trying to talk while putting forth some immense physical effort. Like his voice didn’t quite work.
Did he get a cold and lose his voice? He was a little pale.
He set the paper down and held up his keys. I frowned at them. “You got your keys?” Then my eyes caught the new keychain just before he separated it out.
A silver wing.
Wings, just like I’d connected to the organization.
Silver wings, like Maxine’s tattoos.
But did that mean . . .?
I stared. “Who gave that to you?”
“Apparently,” Wolfgang ground out. “I j-joined an organization. The day I went to the opera. The day I still can’t remember.” He picked up the piece of paper. “They sent this . . . this note in the mail a few days ago. No return address. No . . .” He stopped and held his breath.
There was a slight crackle and I smelled smoke. The corner of the paper Wolfgang was holding suddenly burst into flames in his hand.
I jumped back, heart rate spiking. “What on earth?”
Wolfgang cursed and barely caught the paper from falling on my wood desk. “I’m sorry . . . I . . .” the paper fell to the carpet, still burning. Wolfgang grabbed my half-full mug of tea from off the desk and doused it over the flame.
The tiny fire sputtered out and a hiss of smoke wisped up into the air. Almost the whole paper was black now.
Wolfgang rubbed his now trembling hands up over his face and through his hair again. He groaned through clenched teeth, his posture getting even tenser. It looked like he was holding his breath.
I blinked at the scorched paper, then up at him. “Did you . . . did you have a lighter up your sleeve?”
He shook his head mutely, otherwise frozen in position.
This didn’t even remotely make sense.
I opened and closed my mouth wordlessly for a second. I pointed at the soggy, charred paper. “Then how did you . . . how did that light on fire?”
Wolfgang closed his eyes tightly, taking in a slow breath. “C-can we . . . go t-talk outside, maybe?”
I stammered a bit. “Yes, of course . . .?”
“Great.” He reached over and yanked the door open, stepping out into the hall in two long strides. He nodded, clenching his teeth together as he talked. “Lead the way, please.” His words sounded even more forced out of him than before.
I moved out into the hall. “Would the garage be alright?”
“Perfect. Let’s . . .” he stopped and held his breath again. “L-let’s go.”
“There’s only an elevator down to there . . .”
“Dallas, just get outside. I’ll be fine.” Wolfgang spat out, shoving me along. I yelped as his hand touched my back. It felt like he’d touched me with a hot poker.
He swore again. “Sorry. Just . . . go.”
I sped the pace, my thoughts whirling. What did he have? What had lit that paper on fire?
Wolfgang walked next to me, setting the speed a little faster so I was almost jogging on the way to the elevator. We got inside and I shot him a worried look. He just closed his eyes, standing as still as a marble statue for the whole decent down to the garage. It looked like he was holding his breath again.
My heart was beating faster now. Something was definitely wrong.
The elevator hit our floor and gave a quiet ping. The doors slid open. I nudged Wolfgang, making sure he noticed.
Wolfgang practically ran out right into the middle of the lot. He spun around, scanning the area frantically. “Is anyone else down here? Anyone else around?” His voice cracked.
I shook my head. “No one’s here, but Wolfgang . . .”
He didn’t respond, letting out a huge breath and relaxing his shoulders finally. I saw heatwaves go out around him for a few seconds before his hands shot out streams of flame.
The flames spread upwards, nearly engulfing his arms entirely. The fire just kept going and going, crackling and roaring. Flowing out of him, but not burning him up.
Wolfgang was shooting that fire. He lit the paper on fire with his bare hands. He . . .
My knees felt weak.
Finally, the flames died down, showing a still remarkably unharmed Wolfgang. His jacket wasn’t even singed. He took in and let out a deep breath, his head dropped back to stare at the ceiling. Relief was evident on his face.
“Okay,” he breathed, his voice sounding much more natural. “So apparently holding that in for an hour isn’t the best idea. Mental note for next time.”
I sat down hard on the cement, just staring at him. My breathing came faster and I hunched over for a second, trying to get rid of the dizzy feeling. There was a blue flash and I appeared a few feet closer to him.
He had superpowers. Flaming superpowers.
And somehow he got them and this connected with Mansley’s organization.
This has to be a bad dream or something . . .
Wolfgang’s footsteps came closer. “Listen, this is . . . it’s crazy, I know. I wanted to tell you first but I . . .” he trailed off and swore.
I got some of my composure back, took a breath and looked up. “Wolfgang, just . . . how? How did that happen?”
“That was what I was wanting to tell you,” he ran a hand up through his hair and gestured as he started talking.
“So that paper that I . . . well . . . accidentally burned. That was an invitation to the organization’s meeting. Silverwing, they’re called. I heard all you said about it and figured I could maybe . . . help out and do a bit of good for society. So I accepted the invitation. I got picked up by this guy named Franklin who I apparently knew before. And there’s a doctor guy named Übel. And . . .” he snapped his fingers and pointed at me. “Maxine. You were right about her. She was on this giant video call thing to the whole meeting when I showed up.”
I took another shaky breath and just stared at the cement by my feet while I rubbed at my temples. “Alright . . . okay . . . I . . .” I closed my eyes for a second. “How did you . . . get to be able to do . . . that, now?”
“Somehow these Silverwing guys got a hold of this experimental power serum that develops powers based off of your personality. And that’s their big plan. They just worked out the best way to use it and they decided to go injecting it into a select few of their group.”
Wolfgang was pacing back and forth while he talked now and threw his hands wide. “And of course that had to include yours truly. I swear, Dallas, those nanite things just about killed me. And all this time, I’ve been trying to reform and be a better guy. Not go around blowing stuff up and starting a bunch of fires. All that stuff. And now what do I get? Scientific confirmation in the form of superpowers that this is my official personality! Fantastic. Just d*** fantastic.”
He balled his hands into fists. “I can even blow stuff up, too. Know that? This morning I went and turned a fork into a miniature explosive by just attempting to eat breakfast. News would be blind right now if he didn’t wear those idiotic sunglasses all the time . . .” his voice trembled. From anger mostly, but I heard a rare scared note in there.
I looked up to see that his cowlick was on fire.
“W-Wolfgang, your . . .” I motioned to his hair distractedly.
He swore and whacked at the flame and it fizzled out, leaving his hair just like it was before.
A bit of a forcefield blinked up around me. I had to concentrate so I didn’t teleport away again. “So, you’re part of . . . Silverwing, then.”
“Technically,” Wolfgang muttered, sitting down next to me on the cool concrete. “But not much longer if I have any say in it. Next meeting is in a few days. Think that would be enough time to . . . you know . . . round up some SPI guys and head out there?”
Maxine was part of the organization and she was now second in command of the whole SPI.
The superpowers had indeed been stolen and were now being illegally used by Silverwing.
Wolfgang . . . could blow things up and light them on fire by just touching them.
We had a way into the organization I’d been trying to break up for so long. Only . . .
“Wolfgang,” I began quietly. “Did you happen to take any pictures? Any video or audio recording of the meeting?”
“Do I look like the sort of guy who has money for mission impossible gadgets, Dall?”
Oh no, no . . . I groaned softly and closed my eyes.
“What?” Wolfgang stopped his fidgeting, looking over at me.
“Well, it’s just . . . to present anything to the SPI as a mission – or even an official research project – you have to have tangible, solid evidence of the threat.” I swallowed. “And, Wolfgang, I believe you just fine. But . . . your record with the SPI doesn’t . . . bode well.”
Wolfgang’s expression darkened. “And what exactly does that mean?”
“It means that you’re not a certifiable witness. I can’t provide proof of this to anyone, except by word of mouth and . . .” I motioned to his right hand, which had started to flame a little again. “Your superpowers.”
He cursed and pushed to his feet indignantly. “That should be proof enough, right?”
“The fate of those power serums is very much in question through the records. Your powers would be a phenomenon, certainly. But not enough proof of anything to actually . . . send a squad to storm a building.”
I felt sick to my stomach. So much evidence and literal confirmation of just what I didn’t want to happen. But no way to actually present it . . .”
Wolfgang stared at me, tugging at his hair with one hand. “I can’t . . . go back to there. I’ll light the place on fire without even meaning to, Dallas. We need to shut this thing down and get these **** powers turned off. I can’t just . . . I’ll kill someone if this doesn’t get shut down.” His voice got louder and cracked at the last sentence, echoing off the walls and making me flinch.
He was scared. He was really scared of what he could do, and I couldn’t even deny that he was a huge danger to the general public like this.
I bit my lip and looked down. Honestly, that was too distinct of a possibility. Wolfgang could . . .
No. No. Don’t even think it.
Gathering another deep breath, I looked up at Wolfgang again with my expression in a slight wince. “I could give you a few tips on your p-powers if you’d like. But really . . . the best plan, I think, is for you to lie low until that next meeting, and then get some video or recording that I can use as evidence.”
Wolfgang just blinked at me.
“If it’s any help,” I offered hesitantly. “I do have access to a few mission impossible gadgets?”
“Right,” he muttered, raking his hands over his hair and walking the other direction. “We’ll work with that, then.”
Flames started coming off of his hands again and I put a forcefield around him.
Well…. -jazz hands- They’re both handling this well, obviously.
Let’s see how they continue with their plan on Sunday.
Be sure to tune back in for more excitement and I’ll see you next time,