So Wolfgang has superpowers now, that’s out there. Kind of out of control, unwanted ones as well. We know that much and we know what he needs to do to go back and mess over all of the evil organization’s stuff so he can get them arrested and get himself back to normal.
Aaaand here we are this week with another part, let’s see how his steps go in pulling it off.
A chapter in which a Meeting happens, we see more evil superpowers, more of Franklin and Dallas continues to not eat as much as he should.
If you want to catch up, here are links to the rest of the parts:
getting a little long there, aren’t we?
And here’s part 10! (double digits, people. this is getting serious.)
After lunch, News finally talked me into at least a temporary relocation to the Den. At least while I had these powers, I was incredibly close to the general public if I was still living in the city. My risks of hurting someone or burning a building down were that much higher.
I probably needed to get some things from my apartment before spending the night again, considering I spent the night before either pacing the floor or passed out in News’s old easy chair. And Lucius was probably wondering what foriegn planet I’d disappeared to.
I finished up my grilled cheese and headed outside while Charles and Liza kept up their theorizing on different variants of the nanites.
Dallas slid off his bar stool and followed me, leaving half a sandwich behind.
“Hey, you’d better come back and finish that thing up, Slim,” News called after him, pointing to the sandwich. Dallas stopped walking and I walked backwards for a couple steps, unable to help a smile.
“I’m . . . full, sir. Thank you.” Dallas nodded.
News raised one eyebrow and propped himself against the counter with an elbow. “Half a sandwich?” he snorted. “Nobody has that small of a food tank. Even a little pint like you. You finish whatever you’re doing and come back to finish it, okay?”
Dallas nodded mutely. He endured News’s staredown for another few seconds before edging back and following me out the door.
He ran over to catch up to me before I let the door swing shut. “Sorry, I just . . . the gadgets are in the back of my truck. I need to show you how they work before you leave because I probably have to go back to work.” I noticed his face was still a little red after being called out by News.
I nodded, changing course from heading to my car to going over to his.
“There aren’t a lot,” Dallas trailed after as he dug in his pockets for his keys. “I just grabbed the most resilient ones I could find. And too many would be too obvious, since this is mainly an undercover mission. I just have a hidden microphone and a camera.”
I was mildly disappointed, but shrugged it off. Whatever. I’d probably break them anyway.
We reached his truck and he went to unlock the back doors. The old lock gritted as he twisted the key and the hinges squeaked as he opened the door. The file box he’d brought out from his office sat in the back.
Dallas grabbed one side of the box and pulled it towards him, popping the lid off. It looked almost like a Christmas ornament box, with the carefully wrapped little bundles of newspaper in the box.
Reaching inside, Dallas pulled out the two bundles on top. He handed them to me. “This,” he explained with the first one. “Is a hidden microphone. Not the best model, but it is the toughest. It’s disguised like a lapel pin so you could . . . probably stick it onto your jacket. It’ll pass most security checks, and the way to start or stop the recording is to turn the front panel twice to the right.”
I unwrapped the newspaper to look. A simple swirled design covered the button part. Nice. I could probably . . . figure some way to stick that on.
“And . . .” Dallas trailed off a little as he felt the next package. “Well, now that I think about it, these really don’t go together at all. But . . .” he winced as he unwrapped the newspaper. “This has a tiny camera hidden in the brim?”
A plain, worn looking red baseball hat.
So a lapel pin and a baseball hat in the same outfit.
I nodded, taking it from him and looking it over. A regular baseball hat to all appearances. It looked sort of like one of my dad’s old hats. Something in the brim felt slightly like metal as I ran my hands over the fabric, but other than that, I saw almost no way this thing could record.
I adjusted the back of the hat and put it on for size, “I’ll make it work.”
Dallas nodded, looking up at the hat and down at the lapel pin in my hand. “There’s a button concealed underneath the fabric on the side of the brim. I’ll have the pieces to upload and transfer the files with me. So you can just . . . bring them back after the meeting tomorrow night and hopefully I can get the evidence I need to present it to the SPI.”
“Let’s hope it works,” I fiddled with the hat brim before taking it down again. A bit of heat flared inside me and I quickly handed the hat back to Dallas before I could light it on fire.
And let’s hope I don’t destroy it.
The next evening came much faster than I expected. I spent most of the time practicing getting a better handle on when and where I lit on fire. It got a little easier, when I was thinking about it. It didn’t build up and make me feel like I was going to explode when I didn’t use it for too long . . . as much, at least.
It still flared out of control when I got angry, but . . . I mean, I was working on it. And hopefully I’d get it under control better in the future. It wasn’t like there’d be a ton of people mocking me at this next meeting. Hecklers in suits and ties weren’t very common in my experience.
I gave Franklin a quick call in the morning to make sure we were meeting in the same place.
Same place, different room, he said.
Right. I could work with that.
It took a bit more of difficulty leaving, since I now had News hanging over me and giving pieces of weird advice for “the mission”. Like not sneezing too loudly and smiling a lot. I’m sure he had tons of experience on the topic.
Liza just wanted to check over my gadgets before I left, and then I was off.
Into the dark and off down the road towards whatever horrors awaited this time. I prayed that this wouldn’t end in me driving back while nearly doubled over from pain again. Once was enough, thank you. And I already had one set of uncalled-for superpowers.
The drive didn’t seem to take that long, with all the thinking I was doing in the car, running over all the details of what I needed to do. Turn on the camera and the microphone once I got there and not take them off. Avoid flaming on unless absolutely necessary. Not sneezing too loudly. All that good stuff.
I drove down into the underground garage, following after another car that had arrived at the same time I did. The lights flickered on and I winced slightly.
The same rows of parking spots lined the sides. Only . . . not half as many cars as last time.
I frowned, a bit of nervousness spiking my heart rate. Was I really that early? Or was everyone else just late?
Franklin’s shiny gold Cadillac was already in place nearest to the door we’d gone through last time. I recognized a couple of other cars, so there was a similar crowd as least.
I pulled into a spot at the end of the row and put my car into park. The other guy already had his stuff together and was getting his portly self out of his Ferrari and over to the stairs, totally ignoring me. He had a weird, half smile on his face. A smug look.
I wrinkled my nose a little.
I ran a hand over my cowlick, smoothing it back somewhat before slipping the baseball hat onto my head. The microphone pin was already stuck on my leather jacket pocket. Not exactly the best classiest placement, but I’d already established myself as the one with bad fashion sense in this group, so . . . please God help no one notice.
I pulled on the brim of my hat, grabbed my keys, and got out of the car. I stood there for a second and took a deep breath, steeling myself before I went over to the stairwell.
What sort of freak-show awaited me inside, with all the superpowers that got doled out? Did it kick in and start hurting for anyone else before the nanites activated, or did those microscopic robots just like picking on me?
I could still hear the receding footsteps of the other guy up in the building as I walked up the steps. The door was propped open this time by a little silver doorstop. A short exchange of words that I couldn’t distinguish reached my ears.
I kept walking upwards, running my fingers along the brim of the hat until I touched the button to activate the camera. My hand trembled as I spun the front of the lapel pin around twice until I felt a soft click.
Well, now I was a walking recording device. Hopefully I’d get some good stuff with this and not just me stumbling my way through unwanted interactions.
I hit the top step and slipped through the door. The hallway looked just the same as before, except for the fact that Franklin was leaned against the wall by the door. I jumped a little.
Franklin looked up as I stepped into the hall and pushed himself upright. “Heyyy, Dank. Glad to see you made it on time.” He smiled, casually saluting me. He pointed down the hall. “We’re down there, just a couple of lefts into the new room.”
I nodded, starting along the way slowly. “Thanks.”
“I’ll walk with you,” Franklin strode after me and put his hands in his pockets as he caught up. His gaze swept me up and down. “So, I’m guessing the powers have kicked in by now?”
I nodded again, looking over at him. “Yeah. Sort of this flame thing. And yours?”
“You betcha.” A smile pulled at his mouth. He was quiet for a second, then gestured to me as we took the first left. “Could I see? Just a sneak preview before we go into the meeting?”
I held up one hand and snapped before lighting up the flame on my fingers. At least it was a bit more under my control today. Yesterday my “sneak preview” probably would have been burning the building down.
Franklin gave a low whistle, slowing his walk to a stop and staring at the fire dancing over my hand. “Impressive, impressive. Showy . . . hot . . . I like it. It fits you. In a good way, of course.” He chuckled, pushing his hair back out of his eyes. “Brings a whole new meaning to ‘holy smoke’, hmm?”
I shook my head. “It was a bit . . . crazy at first,” I remarked. “But I think I got the hang of it now.” I looked down the small hallway to the doorway we were supposed to go in, then back at Franklin. “So what did you get?”
His dark eyes sparkled and he raised his eyebrows. “Well. Nothing as glitzy as you got. But . . .” he took one hand out of his pocket and held it up. “I think it’s pretty cool.” He nodded slightly. “Mind if I show off?”
Something in his voice made me want to take a step back, but I just shrugged. “Go right ahead.”
“Okay, get ready.” Franklin took a step towards me and reached over to touch my arm.
What the . . .?
I started to pull back, but the thought totally flew my mind the second his slim hand touched on my jacket sleeve. My brain went totally blank of any thoughts or opinions of my own. I blinked, my vision unfocusing and refocusing like a camera that had just turned on.
Boom. And we’re in, Dank. Isn’t this cool? Smile, buddy.
This was pretty cool. A wide grin pulled across my face. Wow, this was . . . really cool.
Franklin chuckled, his hand readjusting on my sleeve as he stepped closer to my side.
There we go. Hey, let’s celebrate. Throw that nice hat you’ve got on up in the air and cheer.
I reached up and pulled off the baseball hat, tossing it up to spiral across the hall and hit the opposite wall, then pumped my fist in the air and let out a celebratory whoop.
Franklin’s smooth hand slid up to rest against the back of my neck. My breathing hitched oddly for a second. The thoughts in my head sharpened a little, like I knew what I was doing better. He was helping me see just what to do. Franklin was awesome. I’d never had a better friend.
You’re doing great, man. You know what, you should try and sing me a little song. Just a few lines. Frank Sinantra, how ‘bout?
My fingers snapped together a couple of times, finding a beat before the words came out of my mouth like I’d known the lyrics forever.
“Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away . . .” I sang, still snapping my fingers.
Perfect, perfect. Great pitch. Alright, let’s end the fun before somebody comes out to check on us.
Franklin laughed softly. He patted his hand on my head once before pulling back, stepping away again.
My vision refocused again and the tune I’d been singing slowly slid out of key, my finger snapping trailing to a stop.
I blinked, staring at Franklin. He just stood there grinning like he expected me to be thrilled.
What did I . . .? I’d just chucked a very valuable piece of spy gear against the wall. I’d smiled like an idiot on command. I’d freaking sang a song.
And all while being totally aware of it. It was like he’d just slid into the driver’s seat in my brain by just touching my sleeve.
I tried to keep my mouth from hanging open while I stammered for words. My face got red. I finally gathered myself and spoke.
“Franklin, what the . . . hell?”
“Mind control,” he laughed, wiggling his fingers. “As long as I’m touching someone. Pretty sweet, right?”
I barely kept myself from cursing at him as I went to get the hat. I leaned over and crammed it back on my head. Just hope that didn’t break.
“That was freaky,” I replied, trying to cover the crack in my voice. If everyone else had powers like that, I didn’t even want to know.
“Freaky cool.” Franklin slicked his hair back and shrugged. “But whatever, if you’re jealous. We could work pretty well together, though. You’ve got the external force. I’ve got the more subtle . . . you know.” He grinned and stepped over to open the door. “Well, it’s about time we go inside anyway.”
I bit my tongue and walked stiffly over to the door.
Franklin glanced down at my hands. “Might wanna douse the fire before we head in there, hotshot.” He winked before swinging inside on the doorframe.
Great, just fantastic.
I rubbed my flaming hands together, trying to get a lid on my temper before we headed in. No need to lose it and burn the place down.
But losing my temper? What was I supposed to do when someone just steps in and takes over my mind like that?
Just not now. Not now.
I took a deep breath and managed to get the fire back under control before my cowlick sprang into flames and torched the hat. I muttered under my breath as I stepped into the room after Franklin.
I stopped in surprise for a second. This was far from the big auditorium of last time. This was just a small, private office meeting room. A circle of chairs sitting under plain fluorescent lights. There were the thirteen other people who’d gotten powers last time, I recognized. Franklin. And . . . at the head of the table, sat Maxine.
She was busy having a conversation with some young businessman on her right, but looked up as Franklin and I stepped in. Her face lit up in a smile, her wide, red lips parting slightly to show white teeth. “Hey, and you two dudes are the last ones to get here. Let’s get this party started.” She gestured towards the two empty seats left across from her.
Franklin pulled them out and we both sat down.
“Alrighty then,” Maxine sat up straighter in her seat, crossed her legs and clasped her thin, dark hands together. “Well. You all probably noticed that we’ve got a smaller meeting tonight. Just a few safer measures, since I got a tip we might have a possible information leak somewhere along the line.”
I raised my eyebrows slightly, feeling a little blood leave my face.
Holy smoke, are they onto me already? I seriously only told Dallas . . .
A couple of the other guys looked surprised and shifted in their seats, but no one particularly looked at me.
“We’ll get it handled, though. Tiny problem. It’s all good.” Maxine waved a hand. “Plus, we’ve got some stuff to do with just you guys anyway. So . . .” she looked around the group, tapping her fingernails against the table. “I can’t be here for too long. Let’s go around the group and figure out what powers you all have. Just quickly, then we’ll move on.” She pointed to Franklin. “You first.”
Franklin adjusted his tie as he leaned back in his seat. “Mind control, activated through touch.” He glanced over at me and winked. “Dank here can back it up.”
I barely swallowed back my annoyance, cramming my hands in my pockets to smother the flames.
Maxine’s eyebrows went up and she stuck her bottom lip out thoughtfully as she nodded. “Cool, dude.” She pointed over to me. “And you?”
I took a breath. “I got . . . um . . . fire powers. Shooting flames and stuff.”
“Sweet,” she nodded. “You’ll have to show me that sometime.”
Maxine moved on around the room, asking everyone else what they’d gotten. There were people who could control technology, people who could turn invisible, people who could turn random pieces of paper into money with just a touch . . . manipulating atoms or something. There was someone else who could control people’s words without touching them. One guy with super strength. Another with speed. Another who could move things with his mind.
All of them seemed to have their powers totally under control already. They talked about them like they’d had them for years and weren’t surprised at all.
More of an “about time” tone about them.
Easy for Mr. Invisible to say. He’s not running the danger or lighting his business on fire if he stubs his toe and gets ticked off.
We finished making the loop of everyone’s introductions and Maxine clapped her hands together. “Perfect, perfect. We’ve got a good team here.” She smiled. “And the last addition . . .” she pointed over to one young business lady we’d already passed. I was confused for a few seconds. Until Maxine’s face, hair and skin color shifted.
Her clothes changed color and style. Within just a few seconds, she looked exactly like the other woman. They could have been twins.
I swore quietly before remembering I had a microphone on me. Great. So now literally anyone I talk to from this point on could be Maxine in disguise.
The woman she’d shifted to match stared at her. Maxine laughed and her face changed back. “So yeah, face changing for me. Anyway, that was fun.” She leaned forward and stood up. “Now, I’m sorry. More security measures, aaaaand we need to talk with each of you individually.” She let out a breath. “Sacrifices have to be made for this sort of thing and we have to figure out everyone’s particular plan.”
Maxine tucked her dark hair behind one ear before pointing over to Franklin again. Her red nail glinted under the florescent light. “Why not you first again?” She gestured towards a door off to the side.
“Yes, ma’am,” Franklin stood up, bowing slightly and smiling at her.
They both headed around and disappeared behind the office door.
Not even a faint murmur of what they were saying drifted out. I only heard a faint hum, for all the listening I did. I fiddled with the microphone a little, wondering if there was a way to adjust it to pick up more. Because there sure wasn’t anything much being said in here. Just a couple of the older guys discussing some sort of money issues they were dealing with together. I twisted the cap slightly to the right.
I chewed on my lip, sitting back in my seat and fiddling with the brim of my hat. My hand trembled a little.
A few more minutes ticked past. The door swung open again and Franklin stepped back out, making his way over to the seat next to me again.
I looked over at him as he sat.
Franklin looked back at me, giving a smooth smile. He moved his foot over and gently stepped on the toe of my sneaker. My vision shifted again and my mind went blank again for a few seconds.
Your turn, champ. Head on in to Max.
I obediently stood up and started striding towards the door. I faltered as soon as Franklin’s touch disconnected and I got back in my own head.
He’d done it again.
I turned my head to give him a look.
His mouth shifted sideways and he chuckled, shaking his head so that his hair fell in his eyes again.
I could have walked towards the door by myself, thank you. He could have just told me.
I felt heat throb around my hands again and quickly turned back to the small office. So much for no one here making me lose my temper.
I edged in through the door, closing it behind me.
Maxine sat back in her chair with her legs crossed as she inspected her nails. She looked up and grinned as I walked in, again amazing me with the whiteness of her teeth. “Hey, come on, take a seat.”
I did, tugging on my hat brim to try and level it with her face as best I could. So it could get a good shot of what she looked like.
She sat up straighter and leaned over. “First off, unofficially, it’s great to meet you.” Maxine held her hand out across the desk.
I was taken off guard, but shook it.
“Really, you’re one of the few recruits I didn’t get to talk with before you hopped on board,” she remarked as she pulled back again. “But you’re impressive, Dankworth. That whole ploy with the bomb and taking Mansley down like that and getting all that media coverage to yourself, I just . . .” she shook her head and made an explosion gesture, like I’d blown her mind completely by just sitting in front of her. “Wow.”
Impressive how I’d managed a good reputation here without having one anywhere else, when I’d tried everywhere but here. “Thanks.”
“Anyway,” she continued, straightening up to her all-business mode again. “This much later and it looks like it sort blew up on you. No pun intended. And we need everyone to have at least a running good reputation with the public for this to work very well. So.” Maxine clicked her bright red fingernails against the desktop. “Before we progress to the next step along with everyone else, we’ve got to pull something to get you back in public approval.”
I leaned forwards a little in spite of myself. They could . . . do that?
I tilted my head. “And you just . . . get me back a reputation just like that? How . . .?”
Maxine rolled her eyes and shrugged, leaning back. “It’s not that hard when you know what strings to pull, dude.”
“All the strings I’ve tried to pull over the last few months have snapped. I’d love to know what exactly you’ve got in mind here.”
“Tomorrow,” Maxine started. She jerked a thumb towards the door. “Frank agreed to help out a bit. He’s got a concert coming up, right at that opera house he first met you at. And so, Mr. Ecks, you know him, right?”
“Yes . . .” I frowned.
“Well, he’s gonna be there. He’s also going to be killed while he’s there.” She spread his hands. “Aaand, if you’re in on that information. If you happen to catch the assassin before he gets out . . . I’d say that puts you as a pretty big hero again.”
It took effort to keep my jaw from dropping. I blinked. Hold up, she was just . . . Ecks was going to get assassinated? And here she was calmly talking about . . .?
Goosebumps prickled down my spine. Well, that probably means she planned it. If she’s second in command and Ecks kicks the bucket . . .
Just go along with it. Go along.
I swallowed and nodded slowly.
Maxine tilted her head slightly, raising her eyebrows in a question. “So that’s a yes, you’re in? It’s a pretty big step. Even for somebody with fire powers, catching the murderer is pretty risky.”
I nodded again, more firmly this time even though just the thought of gleaning some selfish benefit from someone else’s murder made my stomach turn. “Yeah, definitely. I mean . . . not a lot else is working for getting myself a good reputation back. About time for a big step.”
Maxine smiled, picking up a pen and making a few notes on a coded spreadsheet she had in front of her. “Super. Well, I’ll see you then, I guess. Franklin should have a ticket for you to get into the concert. Thanks.” She beamed up at me before going back to her notes. “Go ahead and send whoever’s next in. We’ll work out the rest of your details after the concert happens.”
I pushed up out of the chair, putting my hands in my pockets so she couldn’t see the obvious shaking. “Right. Thanks.” I nodded and backed out of the door.
Man, oh man, did I have something to bring back to Dallas this time.
We had an assassination to stop.
Well, everyone take notes on all the ways this can end in absolute disaster…
and we’ll see which of you are correct on Sunday yay!
talk to me in the comments, guys. Love hearing what you think of the story. ❤