I was woken up at roughly 7:00 AM.  Not the time I’d normally get up, but I had no real complaints.  I needed every second to think.  Breakfast was served at 8:00.  Sorta okay-ish factory food.  Light and fluffy.

At 10:00 AM, everything changed.

The intercom in my cell buzzed.  “There is a visitor for you, Ryan,”  said Alliance.

I could only guess as to whom it was.  My parents.  I’d only given them a brief thought when I’d been caught in Norfolk.  I guess I didn’t want to have them see me.

The cell door clicked and a pair of guards led me to an interrogation room.  I couldn’t hear or tell if any of the others were in their cells as I was walked by.  In the Interrogation room was my Mother, Father, Alliance and two others.  One was wearing a NHN badge woven into his blazer.  The other was a bald, fat man seated next to my mom, wearing a suit and holding several folders next to a briefcase.

“Mr. Anderson,”  said the man whom I guessed was a lawyer,  “It is a pleasure to meet you.  I’m Sterling Washington, your lawyer for now.”  He offered a hand to shake.  I did so.

My mom stood up from her seat from between dad and Mr Washington and grabbed me in a tight hug.  “I missed you, I thought you were…”  She trailed off and squeezed tighter.  I couldn’t breathe.

“Mom,”  I tried weakly.

“Susan Anderson, your son is turning blue.”  said Sterling.  She let me go and grabbed my head, giving me one last kiss on the forehead.

She nearly broke down.  “I’m sorry, it’s just…”

“I understand, I just didn’t want the boy to faint,”  the lawyer joked.  Mom smiled as she sat back down.  I noticed that my father had been tapping his fingers on the table the whole time, impatiently.

I found a seat at the table and sat down and the NHN agent began to speak.

“Good morning,”  he began,  “I’m Agent Williams of the National Heroes Network.  I’m sure you all have an understanding how serious this situation is for the young Ryan Anderson here.  He is not only going to have to be held for Analysis and Risk Assessment according to the Incontinent Powers Detainment and Analysis Act, but he may also be charged with one account of vandalism, one account of hijacking and five accounts of complicity with Indefinite detainment with a Power.”  Dad looked at me.

“Um,” I stuttered, interrupting Williams. “Can I ask a question?”  I was asking my lawyer more than the NHN Agent across the table.  Washington gave me the go ahead.

“Yes, you may.”  said Agent Williams.

“Does indefinite mean it’s forever?  Like you can’t end it?”  I asked.  Agent Williams looked at me funny.

“Yes, why do you ask that?”

Alliance jumped into our conversation.  “Sources tell me young Ryan here has a form of neutralization that can free the five victims.”  Williams shot a surprised glance at Alliance and then at me, before clearing his throat to bring the discussion back to what he was saying.

“Well, I guess those circumstances may have to be considered.”

My lawyer broke into the discussion this time.  “I do suspect that if you already know about his powers, you’ll have no need to do any analysis,”

“We are actually considering a compromise for Ryan and his friends.  It is the same we offer to every metahuman under 18 we have encounters with; a probationary contract with the NHN Junior Group,”  replied the Agent.

I cocked my eyebrow.  “Was Ri- Plural offered this?”

“Yes, he was.”

“And if my son does?”  my father finally spoke.  “What then?”

“As I said, it’s merely a probat-”  my father interrupted the Agent.

“Not that.  What about the fact that he’s known, that Micheal is known, that all of his friends are currently on the internet and on WANTV?  You do know that one of their classmates was talking about them.  Personal details about my son.”

The agent took a second to compose himself.  Most people did, my father was very threatening when he spoke, and the idea that me and my friends had become famous overnight was actually daunting.

“Nothing can be done, I’m afraid.  Sorry about that, Thomas.”

Dad was stunned, a little.  Reputation wasn’t much for him, but he liked to preserve what little he had gained.  becoming one of the parents of  ‘those kids who became incontinents from a supervillain’ wouldn’t bode well for him.  It wouldn’t bode well for anyone’s family.  Revenge was still in my heart.  I didn’t know why, but hearing dad reinvigorated it.  For the worst reason possible, I wanted to do something.

“I’ll do it.”  I said.

Agent Williams tried to hide his smile.  He nearly failed.

 

***

 

After a discussion with both my lawyer and my parents I’d agreed to join the NHN Junior Group if my results from the Risk Assessment test came back with a number lower than 4.  From my interview and the few tests I’d received I’d only gotten a 2. They also asked me to explain what I knew of my friend’s powers. Maxine and Derek in particular.  I’d stated a little about them, like how Derek’s loops stopped nearby me and Maxine’s power fails when I go near her, and they did a lot of comparing and discussion in some committee while I waited back in my cell.  I was still unsure of where everyone was, but after two days I was brought back for the second test and saw them.

I’d ended up wearing the issued clothing put in our cells.  Shirt, trousers, boxers, and socks.

The Powers Analysis test was mainly a feedback discussion.  I’d been brought to a large round table with chairs along with Mr. Washington.  Micheal was here, I could tell by the glowing.  He was wearing something that made it dimmer, but I still couldn’t look at him.  I sat down on a seat that had a piece of paper with my name on it.  Ellen was nowhere to be seen.

“Hey,”  I said to everyone.  “I missed you guys.”

Maxine looked in my direction.  I noticed her and Derek wore the same grey clothing as me, but Maxine wore a pair of goggles over her eyes.  They probably did something to help her with her powers.

“Good to see you again,”  said Micheal.  He was still loud, regardless of how his new clothes dulled down is piercing glow.

“Good evening,”  Agent Washington began,  “Again, I’m Agent Washington, the Proctor for this discussion.  Your lawyers are here with you because of the nature of what we are about to talk about.  As you already know, we have taken and assembled notes and summaries of your powers and placed a copy of the penultimate revision on the folders in front of your chairs.  These files are the subject of discussion for today.  You all may each ask as many questions as you like.”

“Where the hell is Ellen?”  asked Maxine.  She looked cross, or I thought she did.  The goggles hid her eyes too effectively for me to tell.

“I can not legally tell you.  I’m sorry.”

“What can you tell us?”

“Ellen… failed to meet the qualifications we asked for you all to meet.  On the Risk Assessment test, she scored a 7.”

A seven.

“What?”  I blurted out in surprise.  “How could she get a seven, she had no powers at all!”

Sterling gave me an odd look and put his hand on his chin.  Agent Washington sighed deeply, his head held firmly in his hands.

“I understand your concerns, Ryan.  It’s just that she did manifest powers and those powers did have a dangerous effect.”

Maxine slammed her hands on the table, causing her lawyer to jump slightly.  “I can fucking erase people from memory when I look at them and Derek freezes people in time! What the fuck could Ellen do that’s worse!?”  She was angry.  I would be too.  Alliance tensed up slightly.

“I can’t tell you right now.  I apologize.”

Maxine’s lawyer put her hand on her shoulder, calming her down.  She begrudgingly sat back down, looking at her folder.  My lawyer had spent the meantime ignoring the commotion and reading mine.  He offered it to me.

I looked at the file.

PROFILE OF NATIONAL HEROES NETWORK JUNIORS PROBATIONARY MEMBER

I looked further down, skipping personal details like my age and name.  They were all correct.

Power(s): DETECTION BASED POWER NULLIFICATION.

Activation Classification: INCONTINENT PASSIVE.

Detection based?  I decided to ask.

“Um, Agent Williams, Why does it state my powers are Detection based?”

The agent was relieved to see people actually discuss something other than Ellen’s unsure fate.

“It appears that you can only nullify aspects of powers you are aware of or have been told about.”

“I see.”  The discussion went back and forth several times, with no real changes made.  None of us had made a mention to the fact our powers had grown stronger, or that we were unsure if they’d stop.  I had a feeling they already knew.  I also had a feeling we were too afraid to say it out aloud.

five minutes had passed.

“I see we have a unanimous agreement on the penultimate iterations of the profile folders given, am I correct?”

The lawyers and us all nodded and gave murmurs of agreement.

“Well then,”  he said.  “Congratulations to everyone present.  You are all official members of the NHN Junior Group under probationary contract.  Tomorrow you’ll all be given your assignments and meet with Public Relations.  You can leave now.”

I got up first.  I needed time to think.  To think about Ellen.

 

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