Quantum Implicitum 02 - Inheritance


Amaranth
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Quantum Implicitum 02 - Inheritance
by
Stardraigh

Follow Andrew Trell and Cavin Conn as they enter into the world, discover their heritage, and find it within themselves to be heroes.
~-~
Wednesday, December 7th, 2012
Denver, Colorado, Sol III

Andrew
~-~

I took a deep breath of the cool air flowing into the test chamber when its door opened. For the last hour, I’d been stuck in there, and there was almost no air circulation. I say test chamber but I think it was actually a janitor's closet. Too big to be a coffin. Too small to be a real room. Doc Matherton most likely used a storage room for his quantum power manipulation unit.

It's better than one of the tests last year. That consisted of a cylinder I crawled into which was then filled with nasty smelling goo. To get the smell off I had to shave all my hair and take a few baths in nothing but vinegar. I smelled for over a week like a mix of formaldehyde and hot motor oil. That didn't go over well with anyone.

My name is Andrew Trell. I have super powers. You’d think having them would be really cool, but they don’t work, so it’s not cool at all.

This is where my problem lies. Everyone who shows signs of having a quantum power template and makes it through puberty gets to use them. Not me.

My sister Deanna manifested when she hit puberty at ten years old. She's thirteen now and she can manipulate gravity same as my mom. In theory, it was my mother who we got our powers from. I say in theory because science is still out on how powers are inherited. No gene expression has been found yet as a cause. It is known that they operate on a quantum level which has a whole number of implications still being explored by scientists all over the world.

I went through puberty. No doubt about that. To put it crudely my balls dropped. I could produce sperm and ejaculate. The doctors had it counted. I’m a healthy sixteen-year-old. Powers but no powers.

Doc Matherton hadn't been the only specialist my mother brought me to. But he was thought to be the world’s leading expert for powers. So far, none of the specialists had been able to give me a clue or hint at why my powers failed to manifest. Lots of speculation. I was the anomaly. No one in recorded history with powers has had this happen to them. I'm famous in the scientific community.

Last time I checked, thirty-eight papers had been written on me so far. I had a copy of each one, even if most of it went over my head. I've been put through the ringer when it came to figuring out why my powers don't work. You might think it possible that whatever power I have is so weak, so insignificant that it’s there. That was one of the first hypothesis disproved.

All of this had led me today, to Doc Matherton's research lab in downtown Denver. The last of the four tests I’d done today was over. So far all four had failed.

My hospital gown hung on a hook by the door. I put the gown on after I exited the test chamber. Neither Doc or his assistant Beth was there waiting for me. I went straight away to the patient room and began changing into my clothes.

I got enough time to at least get my underwear on and my pants part way when someone knocked at the door. I didn't look up as the door opened. Doc Matherton didn't wait for me or even ask if I was decent. No, he walked right in after his knock, and in followed his assistant, Beth Preston. His bedside manner left a lot to be desired for.

"Andrew, do you feel any different?" Was the only thing Doc asked. The only thing he ever asked after the tests at this point in our relationship.

At least I had my pants on. I may have only been sixteen years old, and half the age of Beth, but she was still quite a looker. It's the principle of the matter. I didn't want to be any more embarrassed than I had to be. Not that it was important. My mother had taken me to see Doc Matherton since I hit puberty six years ago. Six years of seeing Beth. I wasn't attracted to her beyond a simple base attraction that I was male, and she female and she was pretty. Nothing complicated there. She had seen me naked many times as a patient. But still, I didn't need to be embarrassed more than was required.

"No Doc. Nothing. I don't feel any different and I’ve tried all the mental exercises I was taught for this."

Doc Matherton exhaled in disappointment, giving me the same look of defeat he has given me for the last six years. "I don't know what to say, Andrew. I'll keep on working at it from my end. If I can think up of anything, I'll tell your mother. Let me know if anything changes." And with that, Doc Matherton left the room.

I finished getting dressed.

Beth started in. "Maybe better luck next time Andrew. Your mother had to leave on official business."

No surprise there. Mom had been called away to do her superhero thing, leaving me here. This wasn't the first time something like that happened. My mother was good at her job, good enough she managed her own team. I checked the time on my phone. Dad would still be at work and wouldn't be off for another few hours if he wasn't working late.

"I'll be fine Beth. My mom is a busy woman." I didn’t fault her for that at all. I just hope she was safe doing whatever it was she was doing right now.

I tied my shoes and stood up. My winter coat came on next. Beth handed me a number of papers in a folder.

"These are for your records. Sorry, we didn't succeed, but the Doc is trying. He really is."

"I know. I’m thankful that he’s trying. I’m going now so bye" I said as I exited the room, and then the building. I wasn’t going to stick around for nothing to do.

Hopefully, I wouldn’t have to wait too long for the bus. At least it had stopped snowing.

~-~
Wednesday, December 7th, 2012
Vindra City, Empire of Vindrika, Arsana IV

Cavin
~-~

Here I was taking the final in Psychology, my last college course needed to get my general studies degree. Some of you may be thinking that at the age of sixteen, I must be a genius to be completing what most didn’t until their mid-twenties. I'll admit, I was intelligent, clever even to overcome what I could, and not get in trouble. The general studies degree was easy, and I scraped by. With the degree, it's not like I was going to do anything that people's lives would depend on me. I just had to show everyone I could do it.

And there I was, sweating profusely, not because this was the hardest class, but because someone had turned the heat up in this wing of the building.

My name is Cavin Conn. I'm sixteen years old and not even five feet tall at four feet eight and a half inches. It's on the short side, even for a human. I know a few Albaz who seem almost twice as tall as I am. People mistake me for a little girl all the time. It doesn’t help that I keep my hair long and I have a fair complexion by human standards.

This often provided bullies with ammunition.

I’m a half breed. My father is human. My mother, an Albaz. She died in childbirth with me, so I never knew her. My ears have a slight point to them but not as defined as an Albaz. I certainly didn’t get any height from my mother. She’s where I got my blonde hair along with my slim build and light skin tones. My green eyes and height came from my father.

Being of mixed race is not a common occurrence on Arsan. We have three distinct species of humanity on our planet. Humans, Albaz and Thorcin. Marriage between species is an unsaid taboo, mainly for health reasons. The children of such unions tended to have more health problems and I was no exception.

One thing I did get from both of my parents was being one of the touched with supposedly incredible powers. Both my parents are touched. Having two parents who are touched dramatically increases the chance that a child such as myself would be touched as well.

But I am unique in this.

Unlike any other person who is known to be power-touched on Arsan, I am the only one who shows signs of it and yet has no use of it. Malason glows when I hold it but I have no power at all to use.

My father is of House Conn. Yes, that House Conn. The House currently running the Vindrika Empire. That makes me a prince I guess not that I really care. My family is known for having powers related to earth. My father, my brothers Ajari, Delin and Andro and my younger sister Isaura can change their form into living rock and are near indestructible. My older sister Argma and my Uncle Mangmo can transmute one type of silicate to another.

Unlike my father’s side of the family with their affinity for earth, those touched on my mother’s side of the family, House Lalwren, had air powers. My mother could fly. Sadly my mother was the last of her house or else I’d have more relatives.

Then there's me. I can’t do anything with my power. Beyond the lack of power, I had the health problems that went along with being a mixed-breed. I had issues with control of my body. Everything always seemed off with my body. Doctors said I had something called body integrity identity disorder, that my body didn’t fit my brain's idea of what it should be, someone more likely to trip over my own two feet than do anything useful.. I’m the runt of my family,.

I felt everyone but my Uncle and my brother Delin looked down at me with disgust or apathy. None but my younger sister would admit it. I get treated like a child, coddled in my inexperience and physical deficiencies, shuffled off from caretaker to caretaker.

I still had something to prove. In their eyes, I may be young, dumb and inexperienced, but I wasn't going to give up. I hated the status quo, and as soon as I could, I was going to get out and experienced life. Anything to get me out of the palace.

Thankfully I have my Uncle Mangmo. Technically he's not my uncle. As far as I know none of my father’s brothers or sisters survived the civil war when he took over power from his father. Mangmo is actually my father’s cousin. He’s not in line to inherit the throne, but he is one of my father’s most trusted advisers and closest friends. He has a way with words, and my father uses that by having him work as an ambassador where he needs him.

Somehow I caught my uncle’s eye. He saw something in me. I don't know what, but he got me straightened out, which is how I found myself where I was, taking the final exam of my second level education. It may only in general studies, and be practically useless, but it got me out of the palace and temporarily away from the caretakers.

I didn’t care for psychology, but this course was the one where they teach you about logic and fallacies and I have to admit that I found it a good one. I plodded through the problems. There were sixty of them, I had to answer. Only sixty. The first forty were easy. I could pick up the logic easily. The next nineteen were harder. It wasn't obvious, and I had to stretch my brain through some vague implications to come up with what I hoped was the optimal answer. The last one seemed unusual in that it used a scenario example.

In war, a soldier has been given the following order. Guard a supply tent with your life from; Destruction by the Enemy, Pilferage by the local population, Misappropriation by army personnel. Currently, the supply tent and soldier guarding it are surrounded by the enemy. Several members of the local population and fellow soldiers are asking for supplies out of the tent. Loss of these supplies will hurt war efforts in the area. What should the soldier do?

Not even a goal, just a question about what should someone do.

If I was the soldier, I’d have just burned the tent down. Nothing in the orders against that, and it fulfills the orders, but it’s not asking what I would do.

The question is what should the soldier do. I answered the soldier should follow his orders. The soldier should guard the tent, even unto death, from enemy destruction, pilferage by the local populace, and misappropriation.

It's simple. Even if it gets destroyed anyway. Even if its use could turn the tide of battle, even if it would allow some of the local populace to survive. He should guard the tent. It’s his orders. As for the contents of the tent, who cares. The order was the tent.

But then again, if it was me, I would have done something different. I’d have burned down the tent and all of the supplies within.

I gathered my papers, reviewed them, then put them in order, and brought them to the proctor.

Leaving, I went outside, where I felt more relaxed in the cold evening air. It was not long before the proctor came out, and handed me a slip of paper with my results before heading off.

I had passed with the bare minimum needed to get credit for the class. Another thing marked off the list to reach my freedom.

I walked back to my dorm, taking care to not trip or stumble on any ice or objects hidden in the snow. I found mail in my mailbox. What I wanted was contained therein. It was a letter from my uncle. Before I did anything else I opened it and read the contents.

Cavin, I hope life finds you well. I am in town for a short while before departing on a goodwill tour of the Empire. I hope you remember what we talked about last summer. If you are ready for this, I would be more than happy to have you start. You still must ask your father for permission. Regardless of your choice or what your father says, I would like to visit with you if you are able at your earliest convenience.

Perfect timing. My Uncle had a way with that. He probably had this written out and sent weeks ago but with instructions to deliver it today.

Tomorrow I should be able to see him while I went and asked my father permission to proceed. My next step to gaining independence would be to become a Knight of the Empire.

Me a sickly half-breed who everyone thinks is a little girl.

I hoped this works out.

~-~
Wednesday, December 7th, 2012
Denver, Colorado, Sol III

Andrew
~-~

While waiting for the bus, I texted my mom that I loved her and to be safe. She might not get it till she was done with whatever she was doing, but I hope she saw it. I also texted my dad I was on my way home. He messaged back he'd be working late and said he wanted to talk later. He made an apology for being stuck at work and gave his love. I texted back that I didn't have a problem that I loved him and would see him later.

The trip home by bus would be almost an hour and then another hour of walking. This was plenty of time to ponder life, the universe, and everything else.

The bus arrived and I got on. The heat was on, necessitating the unzipping of my coat. There were a few other riders and enough space, that I could sit away from them.

I pulled out my piece of malason. This was the original piece given to me by my mom as a child. It's a synthetic material almost as tough as jade and as hard as a diamond, It’s dark gray, almost black in color with no luster. If you held it up to the light, you would find it slightly translucent if the piece were cut thin enough. My piece was about the size of a credit card, only thicker. Dad had it polished and I carried it with me, sort of like a good luck charm.

Malason has a unique property to emit a low luminescence when held by one who had a power. Right now it did, just as it had always done.

So far, I’ve had one hundred and twenty-eight tests by Doc Matherton to find if my powers could be turned on and made to work. I felt that Doc Matherton was grasping at straws by now. Only four tests this time, and still nothing to show for them. I felt like I always felt. How was I supposed to feel any different?

And what if I got my powers tomorrow? What would I do? How would my life change? In theory, my power should be the same or very similar to my mom’s. Would I be a hero like my mom? Could I be one? My sister Dee is always going on about being a hero like mom. Would I want the same?

I don’t think Mom wants that for Dee. She hasn’t come out and outright told Dee no. She always says that being a hero isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. She describes it as lots of paperwork, lots of waiting, interspersed with crazy chaos. My mother’s job is law enforcement and emergency services, pure and simple. Long hours, and lots of crazy.

Outside of being a hero with law enforcement, there aren’t that many jobs for some power types. Mom and Dee could affect the gravity of what they touched and the effect lasted for a short time. Their power isn’t all that useful as a career. Space agencies will sometimes use gravity manipulators to lighten the load of ultra-heavy equipment boosted to space. If a construction company could afford one, a gravity manipulator could work there. A career in entertainment as an acrobat might work. There might be a few more jobs to make use of gravity manipulation, but there wasn’t much.

If I had to pick a career, I’d most likely follow after my dad as an electrician and electrical engineer. He’s already shown me a lot of what goes into the fields, and I’d picked it up fairly easy.

That’s what I’d be. Andrew Trell, Electrician and Electrical Engineer. Probably have a wife, two children, some pet, and powers that don’t work.

Someday. Maybe someday. But not today. I’m only sixteen, almost seventeen. Too young to be depressed about this crap. Get it together man. This means nothing.

I pocketed the malason, and watched out the window at the passing city, still blanketed in snow that probably wasn’t going to melt for a while yet.

The ride was uneventful and I got off my stop. My coat was thick enough to keep me warm while I walked from the bus stop to my neighborhood.

I made it home. Lights were on, meaning some of my siblings were already there. I opened the front door and stepped inside.

Deanna screamed, falling from the ceiling onto me, knocking me to the ground.

I didn't act surprised. Nor did I try to withstand her assault. I went to the ground as safely as possible, ending up stomach down with her sitting on my back. She was kind enough to reduce her weight instead of increasing it.

Every chance she got, she greeted me this way since my father showed us kids the Pink Panther movie. In it, the inspector had his manservant attack him when he arrived home to keep him on his toes. Her excuse to my parents was always that she was helping me train.

I didn’t see it as rubbing it in that I didn’t have powers. In fact, I encouraged it.

Although waking up at 3am to your sister whispering creepy nothings to you while crawling on the ceiling was unnerving the first few times. But you get used to it. She likes to use her powers on me reducing my weight to almost nothing and carrying me. She never does anything malicious.

"Did it work Andy? Did it, did it, did it?" She asked excitedly.

"Sorry Dee. No luck. No powers yet."

"Awwww, that's lame Andy." She got off my back and allowed me up. "Dad called and said he'd be late." She walked to the kitchen. "Said he wanted you to get dinner ready. Mom's not back yet. Probably pulling an all-niter. Kevin and Karen are at a birthday party. Everyone else is here."

"No problem. Do you know if you want anything?" Something latched onto my side. It was Franky.

"Any luck Andy?"

"No Franky, No luck." Even though he was getting big, I picked him up and set him on the counter. "Any idea on what you want for dinner?"

"Waffles, Andy. I want waffles." That was Franky's thing now. He loves waffles and wanted them for every meal.

"Sure why not. Dee, can you get the waffle iron out. I'll make waffles for everyone."

"Yayyyyyyyyy, Waffle time." I winced. Franky didn’t have the best volume control yet. He jumped down from the counter and took off to some other part of the house.

Together, Dee and I made waffles for everyone. By the time we were done, both Karen and Kevin had gotten home, and both were also disappointed I didn't have any powers.

I supervised clean up, then got the younger kids to watch some cartoons on TV. I took myself to the den. Normally my father’s personal sanctum, I knew he wouldn't mind me being there. The second TV was in the den. I turned it on and found the news.

Nothing in it about what mom could be doing. Probably wouldn't find out about it until after she returned. It could be days later.

A large part of the news seemed dedicated to speculation on the fallout from the death of billionaire, some thought trillionaire, Craig Tamerlain. Everyone wondered how his massive estate would be divvied up. The big event was tomorrow. Quite a lot of money was riding on this. The guy was thought to be a non-powered villain who used his money to do very questionable things, but never enough to get caught except by death.

The other interesting bit of news came up that the famed British super-hero Seraph had announced her retirement. I'd met her two years ago at my birthday party. My mother had worked with her several times and somehow got her to come visit. She seemed like a really nice woman.

The announcement came as a shock to the world or so the news would have you believe. Unlike in the past, this time around there was no daughter to take her place. There had been a line of heroes, mothers, and daughters stretching over the last century back to the late 1800’s. All went by the name Angel or Seraph, and one went by the name Minerva.

The news turned to other boring topics, none of them I had any interest in. I put the station on one of those music stations, one with soft classical music curled up and fell asleep.

~-~
Wednesday, December 8th, 2012
Vindra City, Empire of Vindrika, Arsana IV

Cavin
~-~

It was a quiet morning, at least in the Locheler District where I had spent the night. Not having any school gave me a chance to sleep in. Little good that did. I've long adapted to an early schedule and was up before the morning bells.

Snow flurries had fallen all night, leaving a light dusting of snow over everything. The weather report said it was going to be windy later with a heavier snowfall tonight, but it’d be sunny over the next two days. Before leaving I made sure to grab my coat and wear my boots. You’d think with being a native here, I’d have grown used to the cold, but I hadn’t. I didn’t like the cold at all.

The weather seemed nice so far for what it was. With my coordination issues, Ice was an enemy I couldn’t afford to lose a battle with. I admit that I'm more scared of ice than having a conversation with my father.

Few were out this early, so I walked in peace. I only managed to trip over my feet twice but not fall which was somewhat better than I normally did.

The last part of the city on my walk was through Unity Park. There wasn't much besides the few species of tree which could be made to grow in the year round cold weather, but what could grow had been planted here in the park and carefully maintained.

My stomach grumbled. I had yet to eat breakfast before I left. The path I chose to walk, had a small cafe. One I had eaten at several times at before. Breakfast should be ready for us early birds.

The smell of a real fire in their fireplace and cooked food wafted out as I opened the door. The waiter took my hat, coat, and scarf. Other than the waiter, the cook, and I, no one else was here yet.

I didn’t even look at the menu. “Is there a house special today, or do your recommend anything sir?” I asked.

“Today’s special is hot sausage soup and a heavy biscuit.”

“That sounds delicious. I’ll have that, and what juice do you have?”

“We have a hot mixed berry tea, hot sormin, chilled apple juice, and chilled stone berry nectar.”

“I’ll have the tea.” Sormin was too bitter for my taste and with it always cold, I didn’t need a cold drink.

The waiter left me a copy of the day's local news pamphlet to read while my meal was prepared.

There was an article that a new manufacturing center was opening on the outskirts of Vindra in one of the many industrial sectors. Another article was on the recent military show being a hit and drawing citizens in. My sister Argma and her engineering corps were supposed to have had a big part of it. I had missed out on it last week having school. It was Twelve more days till the Day of Ancestors. Almost every advertisement in the pamphlet was geared towards buying flowers or other items for the holiday.

The article most interesting to me, though, was the one for Ambassador Mangmo to begin the Vindrika Empire's ambassador trip across the world within the month.

I hoped to be on that trip with my uncle after today.

Breakfast came. The soup was delicious, especially when soaking the biscuit in it. A few more people had come out on their daily tasks with a few stopping in for their morning meal.

It was times like this I relished. No one recognized me. Even though a member of the royal family, I rarely made the news, not that I wanted to. No one seemed to know I was the emperor’s son since I really didn’t look the part. I've eaten here before, and I've even been served by the same young man. If he knew I was a prince he didn’t act on it. It was great to just be myself with nobody caring.

Once done I paid for my meal. I bundled up against the cold weather and continued on my way.

Unity Park shared the largest edge of the palace grounds. The change from the park to palace grounds was plainly evident. A wide public road ran between them. There were no trees on the palace grounds in this part, a stark contrast to the trees in the park, some of them growing right on the very edge

Making sure no auto-carts were coming, I crossed. Now on the other side, I was in the plaza. It had had four levels, with steps and ramps between them.

In the center on the third level was the moon circle. It was a large stone of a different material than what was used to construct the rest of Old Vindra city, including the palace. Worn in several spots with age, most of it was still marked with a pattern of whirls and swirls.

Legend says that when the planets aligned, an ancient one would appear. Another said that if you kiss your loved one under the twin moons when both are full, you'll have a long life of prosperity. That only happens every three years and when it did everyone in a relationship came out to kiss. It’s a bunch of crap if you ask me.

Several palace guards walked about on patrol around the moon circle, but they paid me no head beyond a cursory glance.

I don’t know why the only guards here in the plaza stood their watch around the moon circle. It’s said Old Vindra is ancient, from as far back as when the ancients brought the first people here to Arsan. The moon circle is said to have been there almost as long. The only thing I’ve been able to discover on the subject was that it's been this way for thousands of years, even before the Vindrika empire formed. Several of the long-lived Albaz I’ve spoken to said that their grandparents talked of the circle being guarded in their own grandparents time thousands of years ago.

Passing on, I only tripped once on the last step up to the fourth and final terrace going to my knee. My speed was slow and cautious and my grip on the railing helped keep me from injury. Glancing around I could see no one had noticed my stumble.

Here on the fourth terrace are the public offices for several of the Empire’s government services here in Vindra city. I ignored all of them and started up the steps to the palace itself.

From this terrace, another set of steps led up to an arched entrance way through the first wall around the palace. It was a long but low sloping set of steps. I could do it. I’d done it before without falling, but I’d definitely hug the railing given the weather.

Lining the steps just on each side of the path were numerous statutes running the whole length of the steps.

These were much the same as the moon circle in that I didn’t know why they were here or what its meaning was. For all, I know they could have long forgotten heroes of a sort. I’d ask my brother Andro about them. He’d had his people look into it and couldn’t find an answer other than they’d been there longer than the Vindrika Empire had been around.

There were one hundred eight of them. fifty-four on each side facing each other. One thing evident about them was each statue varied in appearance. Each one separate and distinct, and all were either a Human, an Albaz, or Thorcin. They also weren’t limited to one gender. The statues were split evenly between male and female.

Each one had the look like standing at attention, surveying everything in front of them, which really was only other statues and the grass covered hill the stairs ran up.

I slowly made it up, step by step. No guards or anyone else but me were along the stairs. The general population was not forbidden from going up here. During the summer tour season, this was a popular a place to visit. But it was early in the day, and not tourist season, and I found myself alone under the statues gaze.

Luckily I reached the top without an accident. This part of the grounds was clear except a fountain in the center that one could sit around. I crossed over to the fountain and sat down to catch my breath.

Once I felt rested, I continued on towards the palace. It was more of one large interconnected complex than a single large building. There were other entrances I could have chosen. Other entrances without so many steps, or as long a walk and with less exposure to the outside. These other entrances wouldn’t allow me to show my strength, what little of it I had. My father would probably call me a fool for risking myself this much if he even cared.

There were several large grand looking entrances to the complex. All of which had a set of guards and all of them remained closed. I didn’t want one of those. I wanted the small entrance to the left of them.

This entrance was a small unremarkable door, one that maybe maintenance would use to perform its duties. I’d used it before, knowing that on the other side lay a relatively easy path to the part of the palace I desired.

I reached it. The door had a simple cipher lock of eight buttons. Each one had to be pressed in a certain order. I started to input the code.

A hand grasped my shoulder. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Whoever this man was, he spun me around and I lost my balance going to the ground on my side. My shoulder was most likely going to be sore and I was probably going to walk with a limp for a day. Although painful this wasn’t even close to the worst pain I’d ever felt and I could bear it. I didn’t resist or try to break free. That would be impossible. From behind me the man rolled onto my stomach and a heavy weight pressed into my back but not too hard to prevent me from breathing. My hands were quickly cuffed. This wasn’t the first time this had happened to me, but I didn’t expect it here of all places.

A guard came up in front where I could see him. He reached down and pulled my winter hat off my head revealing my shoulder length blonde hair.

“What do we have here? Does the whelp of a girl have any identification on her.”

A hand fished through my pockets, pulling out my ID when it was found.

This wasn’t the first time this happened with me being called a girl. My sister Isaura often taunted me with this. I’d learned to not react to it. If people wanted to make incorrect assumptions, let them. They could feel embarrassment when they learned otherwise.

“Identification papers say male, age sixteen. The name on it is Cavin Conn.”

“I hardly doubt that. Doesn’t look like the prince to me, more like a princess. She looks nothing like the royal family. Miss, what did you think you were doing trying to enter the palace without going through the proper entrance for citizens and why do you have a set of fake identification papers?”

Always keep it simple when dealing with any sort of law enforcement. “I’m going to visit my father and the papers aren’t fake. They’re real and my own.”

“Let’s take her to the guard room and hold her until we can establish her identity.”

The guard on top of me got off and pulled me up. I could see two other guards were there as well.

“You know Miss that it’s a crime to lie to an officer of the law. You’ll be punished for it.”

I merely nodded a yes keeping my expression as deadpan as possible. This wouldn’t be the last time this would happen. The guards walked me to their post. My handcuffs were removed and my jacket stripped from me. They took my fingerprints and fed them into one of the new computer systems.

Fifteen minutes later, the same Sergeant who brought me in, Sergeant Trimall, was apologizing for his mistake. I didn’t really hold it against him. He was surprised that I congratulated him on doing his job, telling him that one can never be too careful. I also advised him that they probably shouldn’t keep a record or let anyone else know about this. Others in my family would see him transferred to the most inhospitable locales for work for letting this happen. The sergeant was a good man for doing his job and I wasn’t going to fault him for it even if I didn’t like the reasons why it happened.

Sergeant Trimall was nice enough to escort me to the door I needed. We said our goodbyes. Seems like a nice guy.

I made my way through the palace to an office I rarely visited. The office of Grell Minorn. He was the man in charge of keeping my father’s schedule in order. The truth was he had a staff for it. He was currently out of the office at the moment, but his staff was there. They didn’t seem too pleased to see me and hear my request to see my father.

One of the staffers escorted me to a waiting room, one I was familiar with having waited many times for audiences with my father. The place was ugly. I think on purpose to intimidate the visitors. The lighting wasn’t that great, and the pictures didn’t really fit. The furniture, well maintained and regularly repaired, consisted of the same out of date pieces that had been there since I was a child.

There were others waiting in the room. Not so many that I couldn’t get the couch all to myself. The staffers didn’t say how long it’d be but if it was anything like before it’d be a few hours. I lay down on the couch, curled up and fell asleep. Who cares what the others in the room thought. I wasn’t here for them. I was here for me.

~-~
Wednesday, December 8th, 2012
Boulder, Colorado, Sol III

Andrew
~-~

My sleep was pleasant. Someone had put a blanket over me in the night and I woke up with it around me.

There was a sticky note on the TV screen. It said I was too big to carry to bed, with a smiley face.

I laughed.

It was early enough my siblings had not woken up yet. I double checked and neither of my parents were home. My father should already be off to work and my mother most likely hadn’t come back yet.

I showered, dressed, and got the milk and cereal out for breakfast. Then I began making my rounds. Getting everyone up. I got them fed, dressed, and out the door and onto their bus. I cleaned up then left for my own school. I think most other teens my age would have had a fit for responsibilities they didn’t want. For me, I didn’t see a problem with it.

My high school was close enough to be a short walking distance. Less than a mile away from our home. I made it there with plenty of time to spare.

I'll be honest. I have no real friends. I'm on good terms with many people. No one picks on me. I get good grades. B's mostly, and a few A's and C's mixed in. I try not to draw attention to myself or stand out. And there is the whole powered, but no power thing. Everyone just kept their distance while we’re all polite to each other.

Thank god I wasn't bullied. I think it's a combo of being tall, and being the child of a nationally recognized superhero. The few fights I had been unable to avoid, had turned out in my favor, or we’d been stopped by others before we could really do anything. I tried to be nice to everyone and everyone seemed nice to me.

The first half of the school day was boring, until the end of fourth class, the class before lunch. One of the front office aides came into class and hand delivered a note to my teacher, and upon reading the note, he called out my name to go with the aide. I had to go to the principal's office and off I went.

I arrived, only stopping to drop my bag off at my locker. I was quickly ushered by the secretary into the principal's office. Inside was a school counselor, principal, vice principal, and three strangers, two men and a woman all dressed up in suits.

The room hushed as I entered, and the principal smiled. “Mr. Trell,” She said, “This is quite unexpected, but a court order was put out to have you at an estate hearing later today. I normally wouldn't approve of this, but I've already been in contact with both your parents, and the district administration lawyer, and verified that it is a legitimate court order. This is Mr. Margoles, "She indicated the older man, "Mrs. Chaffe” the woman, and “Mr. Steinbech, the last of the suits. “They will escort you to the courthouse.”

Margoles was an older gentleman, probably in his forties. He was on the tall side but looked Hispanic. He was bald but kept a trimmed mustache and beard.

Mrs. Chafe was a black woman about average height, brunette and looked to be in her thirties. She wore a skirt suit. Looking at her exposed legs and hands I could see they were muscled. She had several power lines running down her legs and her right hand had a visible line on the back. One line one even ran up her left cheek then across her forehead. This woman had a quantum template. Most definitely in physical strength enhancement.

Mr. Steinbech was a caucasian man with dirty blond hair, probably in his thirties as well, small of stature and had no power lines visible.

I glanced at them. Mr. Margoles smiled. "It's good to finally meet you in person Mr. Trell. I've been waiting for this day quite some time." He held out his hand, and I politely accepted the shake. "I apologize for the rush but we must hurry, or we won't make it in time to the hearing.”

"What if I don't want to go?"

"Court order says you got to. I wish that you didn't have to deal with what you're going to deal with today, but," He glanced at the other two. "None of us wanted to have today be what it is.”

I looked upon their faces, and something was writ across all three of theirs. Something sad, but I didn't know what. I turned to face the principal, and she spoke, "Everything has been taken care of on our end Mr. Trell. You've been given an excuse from school for the rest of the day. Goodbye, and be safe, now don't delay, you have somewhere to be." And she indicated the door.

I left first being the closest to the door. Mr. Margoles was quick to catch up at my side. "Mr. Trell, I have a limo waiting out front, and also some fast food for you.”

"Can you tell me where I'm going?"

"Yes. You're going downtown to the city municipal office. There, you're going to find out your part of the estate that you will get."

I had no idea what estate he was talking about but since the principal had mentioned she was in contact with both my parents, then it wasn't them.

All four of us walked out front of the school where the buses normally dropped off students. A limo was waiting there. Steinbech went ahead and opened the door and indicated for the rest to get in. Several dozen students were staring as I entered the vehicle. Once in, Steinbech got in the driver's seat and started the car.

I asked, "Whose inheritance? My grandparents are already dead. Other than my parents and siblings, no one I know of has died to leave me anything. Is this some sort of joke, or mistake?"

The limo started moving, Margoles handed me an unmarked bag from some restaurant. It had chicken strips and fries. He then handed me a large drink. I took a sip. Dr. Pepper. My favorite.

"No Mr. Trell. Your parents may not have told you this, but your father, Thomas Trell, isn't actually your birth father."

"I already know that.” I blurted, “It's kind of obvious when you’re taller than the rest of your family and look nothing like your father. I confronted him about it when I was ten and had figured it out on my own. I love my dad."

I realized I had gotten defensive and had raised my voice, but I did love my father. Even if he didn't have a hand in my initial creation. He raised me as his own. I was his son, and he was my father. He’s a good man. End of story.

"Tell me who this is about." I probably looked like I would kill someone or something.

Margoles continued, "The man who had relations with your mother was Craig Tamerlane. DNA testing after your birth confirmed that he is your sperm donor? As I'm sure you've seen in the news, the final part of his will is being read today in downtown Denver, and you're the last one to be notified. A little communication mix up occurred and we should have picked you up this morning."

"Bullshit. You're telling me I'm the child of Craig Tamerlane." It was all I could say. No way was I the son of some billionaire. My life was already unique. I had powers but no powers which no one else could claim and now I was supposedly the son of the world famous Craig Tamerlane.

"No Mr. Trell. I'm only saying that he donated sperm. He was in no way a father to you, but he was concerned for you, and your families well being. He did not take an active part in your life as much as he was allowed to, but he did contribute as indirectly as possible so as to not draw attention. He has watched you as you've grown up. Kept tabs on you. You are an heir to him, or so he considered. He even went so far as to move his primary residence here to the Denver Metropolitan area to be as close to you as he could."

"I find this hard to believe. I'm the supposed child of one of the richest men in the world. A golden ticket to a chocolate factory would be more believable." I said between bites of fries.

"Believe what you will Mr. Trell. This is the way it's turned out. Perhaps you should call your mother. Margoles held out a phone. I grabbed it and dialed my mother’s number. It rang and she picked up on the third ring.

"Margoles, what’s up, I’m busy at work.” It sounded like my mother.

"Mom, It’s me. Are you okay?"

"Hi, Andrew. I take it that you’re with Margoles?"

She definitely knew. Her saying Margoles name confirmed it.

"Yes."

"Good. He's telling you the truth. The man who got me pregnant was Craig Tamerlain. I'm sorry it had to be like this. I wish I could be there with you, but duty calls. Be safe. I've got to go now.”

The phone clicked off from her end. I could only stare at it for a moment, before handing it back to Margoles.

“I guess I’m along for the ride then.”

I dug back into the bag for more fries. Not like I could do much else. Maybe I’d figure out why I didn’t have use of my power yet.

~-~
Wednesday, December 8th, 2012
Vindra City, Empire of Vindrika, Arsana IV

Cavin
~-~

I managed about two hours of sleep. Between the stairs and the incident with the guards, I was more tired than I thought. After I woke up, the wait was almost another hour before a staffer came and got me. All I really needed was a minute of his time to ask one question and get a yes or a no.

My father was not alone. With him were four others. My eldest brother Ajari was there. Toril Elkon, the head of the Empire’s Intelligence service was there. Vand Holshur was there as well. He was the chief representative to the Emperor from the council of governors. Last was my Uncle Mangmo. Thank the ancients my uncle was there.

The staffer who had escorted me left me there. No seats were available so I had to stand. My brother stood as well in a place behind my father so I didn’t feel so neglected.

“You have five minutes.” My father said. He looked bothered. Glad I could make him feel something.

I didn’t waste time. “Give me permission to become a Knight of the Realm.” It wasn’t a question, it was an order.

“Huh. Is that it? You’re sixteen now, It’s a little late to begin training. Isaura started when she was nine and is already on her way to becoming a knight within the next year.”

I had expected this and ignored the comparison to Isaura. She’s her own woman and I’m my own man or I liked to think. Really it was as far as my father lets me be one which was why I was here. Waiting till one is sixteen is on the late side for being trained to become a knight of the empire. Usually one would begin training at ages nine to ten. It was uncommon to start this late, but I had history on my side.

“That is true that I’m starting late, but I don’t expect to achieve Knighthood immediately. There is a historical precedent set for a knight to have started their training late. A hundred fifty-nine years ago the famous Knight Orald started his training at the age of seventeen. He attained his knighthood three...”

I didn’t finish as my father interrupted me. “Your body is weak. Are you capable of wearing the ceremonial armor? Can you do the work required of a Knight?”

Vand spoke up as soon as my father finished his question, “Perhaps he should try a different service like under his brother Andro in the Science & Research Administration.”

“I don’t think he’s smart enough for that. He’s not suited for that type of work.” My father stated.

Way to go me that my father has such great confidence in me. I managed to keep a straight face and not react to the jibe.

Vand said, “I don’t think he’s really suited for any other branch of the government as well.”

Uncle Mangmo interjected, “He did have an acceptable grade average to graduate. Other than Andro he’s completed his higher education earlier than the rest of his siblings. Cavin may not be the shining star you wish him to be, but he did complete what he set out to do successfully which is all that’s required.”

“I have no use for him in my area,” Toril stated.

Vand said, “I don’t think he’s suited for politics. From what I’ve seen, he just wouldn’t fit.”

“If I might suggest something then, a solution.” All of us focused on Mangmo. “Perhaps I can do something. Although my duties don't lie within the military, I am a knight, and as well as an Ambassador. We do have a military detachment that serves as honor guard. I am willing to take Cavin under my wing and train him as a Knight of the Empire.”

My father smiled, not out of happiness. It was his fake smile. “Perhaps the Empire will get some use out of him after all. You can be a Knight if you can prove yourself capable of one. Mangmo, don’t let him mess anything up or it will be on your head.”

“I understand brother.”

“Now gentlemen, I’m off to see the Empress, so you’re all dismissed.”

Being closest to the door, I left first and waited in the hallway.

Toril and Vand left in a hurry onto their work, paying no attention to me. My father and Ajari didn’t even look at me as they walked out of the room. Mangmo was the last one to leave.

“So how do you feel?”

“I don’t think my father likes me. Other than I feel great for standing up to him. I’m looking forward to getting out of here.”

“I’ve got an appointment with the Trade Minister. Join me later tonight in my quarters for dinner.”

Sure thing Uncle.” He slapped me on the back, gently so I wouldn’t lose my balance.

“Keep your spirits up. Your father means well, even if he refuses to show it.”

“I know, but it’s just, well never mind. I’ll see you later Uncle. Thanks.”

No point in complaining about my father. Uncle Mangmo knew how I felt. Now to kill time till dinner.

~-~
Wednesday, December 8th, 2012
Denver, Colorado, Sol III

Andrew
~-~

Overall the drive took a half an hour. True to Margoles’ word, we were at the municipal buildings in downtown Denver. During the ride, both Mrs. Chaffe and Mr. Steinbech wanted me to address them by their first names, Beverly, and Ryan. While Margoles preferred me to use his last name, but no prefix of Mr. He didn’t tell me what his first name was. I was taken out by Margoles and Beverly while Ryan drove off in the Limo.

No one was there to meet us. I'd never actually been here before. But I could see that we had come in a service entrance. Margoles ushered us into the building. At some point between the limo and entering the chambers where the will was being read, Margoles had separated from us, leaving me with Beverly.

We arrived at the courtroom. I could see at the other end of the hallway numerous reporters and journalists held back by the police. The two of us were allowed entry and we found the room packed. The only seats we could find were at the back near the door. Looking at everyone, I may have been the youngest person in the room. I was most certainly the most underdressed in sneakers, jeans, and a T-shirt. Everyone looked and dressed like they had money or were going to a funeral.

Margoles was already up with the judge. I noted there were several armed police officers in the room, and what looked to be quite a few armed security in plains clothes mixed in. It wasn't that hard to tell. I'd been around my mother and her team enough to notice these things and have it explained to me. Margoles whispered something into the judge's ear for a bit. They both looked up at me and then they looked back down at something before

Margoles left the judge and sat off to the side in what I think was the jury box. With him were two others. There was a person who probably the oldest human I’d ever laid my eyes on. I’m guessing she was a she from the choice of dress, but I could be wrong. Next to her was a gentlemen dressed somewhat old fashioned with a belt and suspenders. He had a thick beard that was well groomed. In his lap, he had a cowboy hat.

The Judge tapped his gavel, and called for order and everyone to be seated. He gave everyone a few warnings about behavior and then went right into reading the will.

After the first few dozen names and what they would inherit, I found it hard to listen. The names just came off and I didn't recognize any of them. It was somewhat interesting as to what was being divvied up. Corporations, Items, properties, money amounts. Some people grumbled some didn't. It went on like this for two hours. I think there were over four hundred names read off, and mine had yet to appear. The judge didn't waste time. Then he broke from his monotonous reading.

"Finally, we’re at the end. Jonas Trevor Tallows of Dallas, Texas, Rita Magdalena Tescala of Tela, Honduras, and Andrew William Trell of Denver, Colorado, you will meet with Mrs. Ingrid Dahlgren once we are done here."

He then read off what we were to get which was unlike anything else the others were given.

“You will receive a one-time amount of 100,000 dollars. If you are not 18 years or older, you will receive a stipend of 100,000 dollars a year to live on at your own discretion till you are an adult of 18 years. This is post tax money. You will each be given one box and contents therein, not to be opened until you are 18 years old. Once you are 18 years old you are to open the box as soon as possible and examine the contents. For the three of you, I do not have the contents listed here. It does specify that one Javier Margoles, who is here in this courtroom with us, is in charge of keeping them for you until the time you can receive them. Also, each of you if under the age of 18, will be assigned two bodyguards each until you are 18 years of age. Upon attainment of your majority, you will be contacted by a representative of the estate for further instructions on how to gain access to your box. All three of you if you are here, and I know that you are, please exit the room through the side door, where you will be given further instruction by Mrs. Dahlgren" The judge pointed to a door that so far I had seen no one leave or enter through.

I was a bit astounded, and if it wasn't for the nudge by Beverly, I'd have continued to sit there. One-hundred-thousand dollars. I did the math. I turned 18 in just under two years, but it’s over a year. Did that mean two-hundred thousand or three-hundred thousand? Did I hear that right? I stood up and noted that six others in the room stood up out of the crowd. A young man and a young woman, and four people who could only be bodyguards. I realized I already had my bodyguards, Bev and Ryan. Many of the people just stared at us as we left through the door the judge specified. None of us said anything. Seeing the other two, I had no doubt I was related to them. Although the girl looked Spanish, there was no mistake about how much we resembled each other. We all would easily pass for siblings if not cousins.

A woman awaited us within the room.

She was a middle-aged woman. Looking to be in her fifties. Nordic descent. Fit, long blond hair, blue eyes. She looked to be appraising us, her eyes taking in each of us to measure us for something. She smiled warmly. "My name is Ingrid Dahlgren. Please, I beg forgiveness from you for this disruption in your lives, but it must be done. Sit," She indicated three chairs, "If you didn't already put it together, the three of you are blood heirs to Craig Tamerlane who have exhibited having a quantum template power."

I looked at both of my step-siblings. I could see no power lines on them.

I took my seat. Might as well be comfortable for the news we were about to be given. "I'm sure each of you heard the details given in the reading of the will, but it basically sums up only a part of your inheritance. This is for your ears alone, but Craig Tamerlane had a quantum template. He was the hero known as Seraph.”

Jonas blurted out, “But Seraph is female and Craig Tamerlane is...”

Ingrid did not let him finish. “Male. Yes, I know. It’s rare, but a quantum template such as the one Craig Tamerlane had could change his body to such an extent when using it. This is one of the quirks of his power template. Like I said it is a rare template.” Ingrid continued while I let that sink in. “He sought out in his failing health a way to pass on his heritage, one that would bear the fruit of his power. I understand that you may see this strangely, but I ask that you hear me out."

The three of us glanced at each other and we all nodded a yes.

"The idea that you were merely bread for power has a kernel of truth in it. I cannot speak more of what Craig Tamerlane intended as I don’t know. Talking with other close friends of his, none of them knew why either. I can tell you what he hopes from each of you. He desired that there would be protectors of Earth to take up the job after him. I know that popular opinion of Mr. Tamerlane is what it is. But it's subjective and completely out of touch with what he has done. Like I said, I cannot tell you fully of what he has done for the earth, but know that he did his best to protect the Earth no matter how the news portrayed him and his holdings."

If it wasn't for the setting and her posture, I'd almost feel like I was being sold something, but I didn't interrupt the woman. She laid out the plan for us, and I say plan because I'm pretty sure that we were still children in their eyes.

She repeated what the judge said about the money. Although in Rita's case it would be whatever Honduras used for money. She also explained that upon reaching eighteen years old, so long as we kept in good standing with the law and further review by her organization, we would be offered work with her organization.

Ingrid pointed out, “Jonas, you’re already of age. Rita has four more months to go till she is eighteen. This means that you must return home to Honduras for a while yet. Andrew, you've almost a year and a few months till you are of age, so I look forward to meeting with you again. Rita, and Andrew, both of you will have bodyguards to assist you.”

I'm pretty sure I had already met mine.

“We’ve made all preparations for your bodyguards to operate in your home country. But be careful and be patient. Discretion is the better part of valor Much like Jonas here, you can make a difference given the chance.”

Ingrid then turned to me. “You are the youngest, and the one we are most concerned about. You do not have any powers but are powered. Doc Matherton has so far had no success with figuring out why, and my group is expending much effort along with his to solve this problem.

The two half-siblings stared at me. I shrugged. Not like I needed secrets here although it was kind of unnerving that they were in contact with Doc’s office. That might have been a violation of some sort, but then again, my mother probably gave the estate permission to do this to get more help. She was the one who knew everything all along. No telling what else might be waiting out there to surprise me.

“I have to go now. If you have any questions, you can ask your bodyguards. I'll be seeing you later Jonas. Please enjoy some refreshments, and talk among yourselves and get to know each other.”

She left us alone with each other. There were refreshments. A table with some pastries and drinks.

I might as well break the ice and spoke first. “So, it's nice to meet both of you. Circumstances a bit unusual, but it can't be helped.” I shrugged my shoulders.

Rita laughed. “So, you two, are mi hermanos. This is how you say, interesting.” Her English sounded rough, but it seemed she knew enough.

“Yeah. Interesting doesn’t even begin to describe it.” Jonas said.

“Jonas is it.” I asked, “Ingrid mentioned you’re already a hero. Is it true?”

“Yeah. For the state of Texas. I go by the name Heron. I don’t know if you’ve heard of me.”

“Si Jonas. You are, uh… take different shape and fly like bird? Rescue people on liner in gulf two year ago? Big in news.”

“Yep, that was me. Let me show you but don’t stare while I change.”

Jonas stood up. We both looked away. A flash of quantum light illuminated the room for a split second. I turned back and found my step brother’s body changed appearance. His body shrank and his clothing hung loosely on him. He appeared androgynous in looks except he was well muscled and all coloring in his skin disappeared leaving him stark white except for the glowing lines of power running through his body near the surface. He levitated up off the ground before returning to his seat and changing back.

“You’ve got powers as well Rita, what are they?”

Rita’s body did almost the same transformation to roughly the same size that Jonas’ body had. Although she remained female in appearance. She extended her hand and between her fingers electricity started to arc. Lines of power ran down her arm. She then changed back. Both of their powers were an alt-form power. It’s an uncommon type of power. Most of those with quantum templates like my mother and sister didn’t have to change shapes to take a different form. It’s not that anyone knows why this happens. Quantum template powers have been around as long as humans on earth have recorded history and only with modern science have we started gaining an understanding of what they are.

Of those who changed forms, there were really only six types transformations known. Those that could change into one of the four classical elements such as Earth fire, water, and Air, those that could change into a plant-human hybrid, and then those like my two step-siblings and of course Seraph which was, in reality, Craig Tamerlane. They turned into another human.

“So what’s your power,” Jonas asked.

I smiled and scratched my head. “Well, you see.” I dug out the piece of malason I always carried and held it up for both to see. It glowed in my hand. “I have a template. It just doesn’t work.”

Jonas laughed, “I remember reading about you. You’re the wild card everyone always brings up in training. Who would have thought you’re my brother. Just wait till my team hears about this.”

I groaned at that. My mother had told me about this. She’d said it was standard operating procedure for anyone with a quantum template to have their information shared between law enforcement agencies and even between countries. Law Enforcement trained to handle those with powers from the information that's been documented. I’m famous in certain circles. I was the wild card. No one really knew what power I’d have for sure. My template didn’t work right and no one knew what that would mean. Now that I know about Craig Tamerlane and his night job as Seraph and seeing my two step-siblings, I had an idea that my power would work like his. They all transformed. But considering my mother’s power of gravity manipulation, I’d probably have something related to that as well. But my template didn’t work right, and thus they labeled me the wild card. The exception to the rule.

“Yeah, that’s me. I guess I’m famous.” We all laughed. It was funny even to me.

“The judge mentioned you lived here in Colorado,” Jonas said.

“Yeah. I live about a half hours drive away.”

“That’s cool. We both had to fly here. Well, I flew myself. I hope your flight her wasn’t too bad Rita.”

“It was, how say uh... okay. What is hero life be like?” Rita asked of Jonas.

“Lots of paperwork, waiting around, and small moments of chaos mixed in.” We laughed again.

“That’s what my mother says.”

“Your mother?” Jonas appeared curious

“Uh yeah. My mother is Samara Trell, the hero Deadweight.”

“No way.” Jonas was excited. “Deadweight is your mother. Definitely, no one is going to believe me when I get back. Not only is my brother the wild card but his mom is Deadweight. You know she’s famous. Everyone in the business knows of her. She practically wrote the book on how gravity manipulation can and should be used. That must be awesome. My mother can levitate but she’s a stay at home mom. Must be exciting having a hero like Deadweight as your mother.”

“Not really. She’s a good mom. She doesn’t really tell me much. Right now she’s away at work. She kind of keeps quiet about it.”

“Yeah, I can understand it. Some of the stuff we do, I wish we didn’t. It’s something anyone in emergency services will tell you. Sometimes you see the dark side of humanity, but I wouldn’t give up this job for anything.”

That kind of killed that part of the conversation. Time to deflect, “So Rita, does your mother have a power as well?”

“Si. Mi madre can create relámpago, uh what English word for bright light in the sky in storm?”

“Lightning?” both Jonas and I said at the same time.

“Si, she create lightning like me. Madre only hero, uh, to mi hermanas and I. She stay at home and raise me and my hermanas.”

“Do they have powers, your sisters?”

“Si, not strong like me or madre. Weak.”

“That’s cool.”

“What’s it like in Honduras,” Jonas asked.

“It home. Crime is bad. Could be better, worse. I live on the coast. The beach is fun.”

“As it should be,” Jonas said, “Texas is boring. You only have three places. The coast, the cities and everywhere else. Very conservative. Crazy conservative. Lots of headstrong people. I don’t mind. Everyone can have their own opinion. Climate could be better but I’m glad it doesn’t snow like it does here. I don’t know how you can stand being so cold.”

“Si, Andrew. It cold.”

I laughed at that. “You get used to it. If it was summer, I’d say we should go out and enjoy Colorado. I’ve got a question for you Rita. What do you think about being a hero like Jonas here?”

“Uh,” She shrugged, “I do not know. Mi madre no approve. I think I can. Dangerous.”

Jonas spoke, “It can be very dangerous, but you get training. It’s not for everyone. Don’t feel pressured to do it.”

“How about you Andrew. Do you want to be a hero?”

“No powers.”

“I mean if you had them. Do you think you’d be a hero?”

“I’ve thought long and hard on this. Maybe. My sister wants to be one. She’s got powers just like my mom, although my mother doesn’t want her to be one. If I had powers maybe. I know if I got gravity manipulation I could probably find a job at NASA or the ESA as a payload specialist. I think I’d like that. Going up to space.”

They both nodded in acceptance.

We continued to talk for several more hours getting to know each other. Finally, Ingrid came back in and pulled Jonas out saying we’ve had long enough. There would be plenty of time to visit later.

We all agreed we’d meet up again and stay in touch. Even though we’d never met before now, we seemed to have hit it off. We decided we wanted to meet each other's families. Mine would be the first while everyone was still here, then Rita’s and finally Jonas’ family. We found we had a few days before Rita flew back with her two guards and Jonas said he could get a few more days off from work. I invited all of them and my bodyguards over for dinner tonight if they had time and all of them did.

We went our separate ways to meet up later tonight.

Before I could leave with Beverly and Ryan, they pulled me into a meeting with Margoles.

“So tell me how do you feel?” was the first thing Margoles asked.

“Strange. Excited, nervous, weirded out.”

“But you can deal with it right?”

“Yeah. My life isn’t exactly normal so it’s not really bad. Just more not normal.”

Margoles chuckled.

“You’ve got Beverly and Ryan here to help you with anything you need. They’re more than just bodyguards. This may seem unexpected but both will be moving in next door to you. We’ve made an offer to your neighbors even though they weren’t selling and they accepted. You’re also going to be withdrawn from school. The same will happen to Rita. In your case, Beverly and Ryan will home teach you and help you with anything you need. They are very skilled individuals.”

I didn’t object to any of that. I wasn’t really going to complain. It almost seemed too real but it wasn’t.

“Remember that Beverly and Ryan are here for you. Use them. Want to learn a skill and they’ll help. Now do you have any questions?”

“Yeah, do either of you speak Spanish?” I turned to look at Beverley and Ryan. I wanted to learn Spanish for Rita.

Ryan nodded, “Hablo español, y te enseñaré.”

“I have no idea what you said Ryan, but I’m taking that as a yes.”

We all laughed.

“It’s good that you can keep your humor under stress like this. It speaks much about your character Andrew. We’ll continue looking into figuring out your powers. It’s time you get going.” He stood up and held out his hand. “It was good to finally meet you Andrew. I look forward to seeing what your future holds.”

I accepted his shake like before. “Me too.”

With that, we went our separate ways. This time instead of a limo, Ryan brought around a four-door sedan. Very low-key. We all piled in and began the drive back home.

~-~
Wednesday, December 8th, 2012
Vindra City, Empire of Vindrika, Arsana IV

Cavin
~-~

A delightfully pleasant aroma of food cooking, wafted about the hallway, leading to my uncle’s quarters.

Finally at the door, I raised my hand to knock but hesitated. I could hear muffled speech from inside the room. Someone was with him. My uncle had said nothing about having guests for dinner. I’d hoped to spend some time alone with him.

I listened for a few minutes, unable to make out anything. I finally knocked.

The voices inside quieted. The door opened. The smell of food was even stronger now. Uncle Mangmo was there.

“Come in Cavin.”

A young human woman and a middle-aged Thorcin male were the ones with my uncle.

“Cavin, let me introduce you. These are my two most important staff on our trip. This is Garso Farrud my chief of staff.”

The Thorcin gentlemen nodded, “My prince.” The scales that I could see on his neck were a tan with a slight reddish tint. He was most likely from the Oringo Desert at the south end of the continent.

“And this is Abru Reda. You’ll be working with her quite a bit on our trip."

“Prince Cavin, I’ve heard quite a bit about you. I look forward to us working together,” Abru said.

"Ah, please don't call me prince. Squire Conn or even my first name Cavin will do." I refused to use that title. I managed almost my whole time in college without being called it. Being anonymous is great, and distancing myself from my father even better.

"Cavin it is then." she smiled.

"Now I must bid the two of you a good evening, I promised an evening meal with my nephew,” my uncle said.

Farrud nodded, “We’ll talk more in the morning.” He made his way to the door.

"I'm glad we could go over what we did Mangmo, and it was nice meeting you, Cavin. I look forward to our travels." With that Abru left, following Farrud out the door. She seemed nice, or at least pleasant. Pleasant is good.

Once the door shut, uncle spoke. “Glad you made it. Have a seat at the table. The food isn’t quite done yet. If you need anything, just yell. I’ll be in the kitchen.”

This was one thing I loved about my uncle. He had learned to cook and was quite good at it. He refused whenever possible to have anyone cook his food for him when he could do it himself. He had even gone so far as to have a full kitchen installed in his quarters here that was to be fully stocked when he visited. Quite a bit extravagant, but no one faulted him for it.

He was known sometimes to share his culinary creations with anyone nearby so he wouldn’t eat alone. At first, this was surprising to the cleaning staff, government workers, and soldiers. They’d get a surprise meal while he’d talk and ask them how they were doing.

Everyone loved it when he came to visit and although it was frowned upon, people tried to be in a place where he’d come across them and invite them. To be invited was seen by some of the staff as one of the perks to working at the palace. He’d long made good friends with the staff in the kitchen and surprised them with helping prepare meals. He always made friends with the head chef and did what he could to learn more about cooking. If anything outside of smooth talking people could be said to be a passion for my uncle, cooking was it.

The table already was set for two and I picked my seat. There were a few smells I salivated over. Fresh Hot bread was one. Meat that's been roasted, and I think there was a sweet fruit that's been baked.

“I’m almost done,” my uncle called out. Shortly thereafter, Mangmo came out carrying a tray of biscuits.

“Is there anything I can help you with Uncle, I called out.”

“Don’t worry Cavin. I’ve got everything in hand. I want you to sit and relax,” he said as he went back to the kitchen.

He quickly returned with a tray of my favorite food, a simple dish of pan fried frost-bird, sweet potato, and onion. My Uncle is awesome.

“You made my favorite,” I grinned at him.

“I know. It’s been awhile since we were last able to visit. Of course, I’d make you your favorite dish. I also have sormberry tarts for dessert.

Mangmo placed the food down then served a portion to me before serving himself. I waited for him to seat himself.

“Now let’s eat.”

I took a bite. The savory meat and sweet potato melted in my mouth. Oh, it was good. Ginger, green-stick root, and pepper seasoned it. Most of the fat was left on which was my favorite part. I savored the taste. I’ve missed his cooking.

“It’s good isn’t it.”

“It’s the best,” I said after I swallowed the first bite.

“I just want you to know that I won’t go easy on you Cavin while training you.”

“I know. I wasn’t going to ask you to.”

“Good. There are many people who think you’re just as mentally weak as you are physical. What they don’t know, that I do, is you’re strong because of your weakness. You could use some polish, but I know you’re more than capable. Once a weakness is discovered...”

“You can turn it into a strength,” I finished and grinned. “How many times have you told me that?”

“Never enough my boy.” He smiled and took another bite

“I’m really looking forward to finally leaving this place behind and getting to see the world,” I said.

“Don’t be in a rush. Vindra City isn’t so bad a place. Yes, it’s cold, but it’s nice.”

“It is nice but that’s not.”

Uncle didn’t let me finish. “Not what you’re talking about. I know. I was the first to change your diapers, Cavin. Believe me, I know.” He smiled. “Remember that being patient is of the greatest importance in everything you do and nothing is ever as it seems.”

He stopped to eat some more and I did too.

“Any luck with Andro and your powers?”

“None. I haven’t even heard from him in a few months about it. Maybe he forgot.”

But I knew that Andro would never forget. Once Andro set his mind to solve a puzzle he did, even if it would take years.

“He’s still working on it, I’m sure, Any improvements with your body?”

“None. I still can’t bulk up and keep weight on no matter how much I exercise.” I flexed my arm for the fun of it. I wasn’t skin and bones. There were muscle and fat but little of it. I still looked like a scrawny girl.

“I just want you to know that no matter what, I love you, Cavin. Out of all of your father's children, you’re my favorite but don’t tell Delin. I’m kind of partial to him."

Delin had to be my favorite sibling as well, but his work in the military kept him away from me so we hadn't done much together lately. Unlike my other siblings, he sought to include me even if he knew I'd say no.

"I want you to know that I look at you as if you were my own. Everything will be alright. Keep your faith and your will to succeed. The solutions to your problems will present themselves sooner or later."

It was sage advice I'd heard many times before from my uncle. "I know."

"It looks like we're both done eating, let me get your plate to the kitchen and I’ll bring back the tarts.” He picked up our plates and left for the kitchen, then brought back a small plate with several tarts stacked upon it.

I think there was enough room for a tart or two. It would be foolish of me to pass one up.

“Have I told you the story of how I met your Aunt Mellia?”

“Yes, uncle. This is like what, the thousandth time you’re going to tell me.” I grinned.

Uncle harrumphed, “Such disrespect from young people these days,” He smiled.

“You know Aunt Mellia is my favorite aunt. I miss her, and I know you miss her the most.”

“I know. We all do.”

"I'll start out then. The emperor required you marry. Yet out of all the nobility and bureaucrats, no one caught your eye. Then the emperor picked Aunt Mellia for you.”

“Yes. We barely knew each other at first. we’d never talked before and we only ever saw each other at a distance twice before that. She was pretty, mind you. Your father wanted to cement our relationship with her house, but the first three daughters and all her brothers were already married off. She was the fourth daughter and her parents were getting desperate. Your father had the same attitude towards me. I needed to be tied down so to speak.”

Even though I'd heard this story a hundred times, I'd let my uncle tell it a thousand times more. I loved Aunt Mellia. She was like a mother to me having practically raised me. Don't get me wrong. Isaura's mother, Empress Zorla did her best to raise my siblings and I. But she was the Empress and had other duties that took up time. I may have loved her as well as any step-child could, but Aunt Melia would always be number one as far as my family is concerned. Uncle Mango is a close second.

"So your father ordered me to court her and her parents ordered her to do the same to me. I’ll be honest. I had no interest in settling down and she didn’t think highly of me, seeing me as the fool brother of the powerful Emperor. We found our common ground in that we were being pushed together and we had fun. We used the time and money your father provided me to do what we wanted. Together of course. She dragged me to what she wanted and I dragged her to what I wanted and sometimes we did the same thing. And after three years we found ourselves in love."

I'd been fortunate to spend my summers in Aunt Melia's care, and even two whole years from age eight to ten. I'd been witness to their love and been lucky enough they'd included me in their family.

"Let me remind you that even in the most inhospitable terrain you can make a garden bloom. Don’t give up on yourself my boy. You’ll find a way even if it’s not what you expect."

I’m grateful for my uncle. I truly wish he was my father rather than the Emperor. I was never able to know my mother so I can’t say the same for her. Both my aunt and the Empress Zorla spoke highly of her, saying she was well loved by all. Maybe if my aunt and uncle they were my parents, my mother wouldn’t have died giving birth to me, and I'd have fewer problems. But that wasn't the case.

“Enough of this reminiscing," my uncle spoke. In three days we begin the final preparations to leave. You'll report to the Greenstone Traders Warehouse in the Haerngyr district first thing in the morning. It's where we're staging all of our equipment and supplies for the trip ahead. "

"Sure thing uncle."

I couldn’t wait to get away from here and most of all my father. Stuffed or not, I grabbed another Tart and devoured it.

~-~
Wednesday, December 8th, 2012
Boulder, Colorado, Sol III

Andrew
~-~

The drive home was quiet. I’d been staring out at the passing city. Beverly sat next to me in the back, and Ryan drove. I didn’t want it to be quiet, curiosity about my two bodyguards won out so I asked away breaking the silence.

“Is it okay if I ask both of you some personal questions?”

“Go ahead Andrew. There might be things we can’t tell you but we’ll let you know,” answered Beverly.

“So tell me, how did the two of you get your jobs?”

Beverly spoke first, “Craig, who was Seraph at the time, Heath, and The Knight, rescued me.”

“So you’ve met the Knight,” I blurted out.

Up until the last few decades, Craig Tamerlain as Seraph, and before as Angel, had been the primary hero of the United Kingdom. It was only recently that Craig Tamerlain expanded the role of costumed hero internationally under the United Nations. The Knight, by comparison, was the hero of America. The Knight is said to have been around longer for almost three decades. He had started out in the US Civil War on the side of the Union. No one knew who the Knight was, at least publicly. People nowadays weren’t even sure if it had been the same person or even a person at all with rumors of steampunk, clockwork, or robotics powering the hero. What people did know is that he had long worked with the US military and, like Seraph, had started with the UN recently. For me I’ve always been amused that America has it’s own Knight as a hero rather than the United Kingdom.

“Ha ha, Yes. I’ve met the Knight, and so has Ryan.”

“Can you...”

Beverly cut me off, “I can’t tell you who the Knight is. It’s classified.”

“Oh well. That’s cool, though.” Oh man, to be in the same room as Seraph and The Knight. I’m not a die-hard fan or anything, but it would make my day.

“I’ll give you some background about me to know why I was rescued.”

“Please do,” I said.

“I was born and raised in Georgia. I didn’t know my father for long as he disappeared one night when I was four, and no one knew where to, god rest his soul. My mother, god rest her soul, suspected the klanners got to him but we didn’t know. The police wouldn’t do anything. My mother did her best for me. Then I went through puberty and life was hell. Being black in the south after world war two was bad enough. At least most people were honest when they hated you for your skin color. Finding you have a working quantum template and you were colored, and people were terrified of you. Even other minorities at the time didn’t want to have anything to do with me.”

“That sounds terrible.”

“It’s all relative. It kind of worked to my advantage, though. Most people were afraid of me and stayed away. Then King came around, may god rest his soul. He worked for the civil rights of not only those of color, but those with powers. He eloquently made it plain for all to understand if only they listened. I remember being at home and hearing his I have a dream speech over the radio. It gave me such hope to know that there were people out in the world who didn’t see me as the monster they treated me.”

“Wait a sec Beverly. You said you listened to Martin Luther King Jr's I have a dream speech. That was in what, sixty-five?”

“Close, it was Sixty-three,” Bev corrected me.

“Sixty-three, and you also mentioned being born post world war two. You can’t be that old.” She looked to be in her forties at the latest, probably in her late thirties, is what I’d guess. The end of World War Two was fifty-seven years ago.

She grinned, “How old do you think I am?”

“Uh, maybe forty tops. I’d say in your late thirties.”

Beverly chuckled, “No. I was born 1946 after my father returned from the war. I’ve been told that it’s my quantum template, makes me look pretty. Those of us with powers tend to live longer on average. Did you know that?”

“No, I didn’t.” That’s something that has never come up. I knew a lot of stuff about powers but didn’t know that.

“Back to my story. It was back in seventy, in Alabama. Gregory Westgate, a man of mental powers, an evil man, rose up in the area and began converting those not able to resist his powers to follow him.”

“I remember this from history. It’s the Westgate Rebellion.” A cult that started up. Their charismatic leader had a quantum template, one with mental powers, he used to control his followers. It was so bad, that the National Guard and several heroes had to be called in to contain and stop them.

“Yes. The Westgate cult was worse than the Klan in how they began terrorizing small towns all over the area. No one was immune to their violence. Black, White, rich, or poor. The police seemed powerless to stop them either being outgunned or having traitors inside who had been turned. Finally, a number of us banded together in Childersburg to stand up to them. We didn’t know how to fight, but we were sick of them. We made our stand and were crushed. They outgunned us and outnumbered us. We were rounded up for slaughter. That was when the National Guard arrived with Seraph and The Knight. Those of us who’d survived were rescued.”

I couldn’t even begin to understand half of what Beverly went through with all this. The pain, the loss.

“I was found to be powered, and they learned of my part in the battle and were impressed. They invited my mother and me to move out west and join them. We did. They helped train me to better control my powers and I gladly took up work with them.”

“And here you are.”

“Here I am. Ryan, how about you? Want to tell Andrew about yourself?”

“Erm, okay. I’ll tell. I was born in sixty in East Germany. My parents were never able to escape to the west before Soviet occupation. They were stuck. Both my father and mother had powers, but they were psychic ones. Thankfully that type of power was poorly understood at the time. Both used their powers on the authorities to remain free from capture. While keeping on the run, they both met. Finding they had so much in common due to circumstance and abilities, it wasn’t long before they fell in love. Then I was born. Life was okay. I say okay loosely. My parents did what they could for us to survive. We moved quite a bit. At least two to three times a year.”

“That’s horrible.”

“It is what it was up until I hit puberty. It was the winter of seventy-two, the height of the cold war. I was new to having powers. My parents did what they could to teach me, but this was new territory for them. I was a child who thought he knew best and didn’t listen. I carelessly used my powers in public and the KGB found out about me. Days later before we could move, the KGB swooped in and grabbed me right off the street. I was taken to someplace I had no idea where it was at. There were other prisoners like me. All had powers or abilities of some sort. They attempted to break and mold us. For some that was easy. For others like me, it wasn’t so.”

This I knew of. It’d come out after the USSR had dissolved what they had done to those with powers. More people went in than those who survived to come out.

“Then in seventy-four, it ended. We were rescued. Craig Tamerlain, going by Angel at the time, led a team, including Beverly, to rescue us. Those of us who had not broken and been brainwashed into mindless loyalty in that time were freed and we left the USSR. I was in for a surprise when I made it to the US. Both of my parents were waiting for me. Both had managed to escape the USSR’s control and get help in the US from Craig Tamerlane.

“Were the programs really as bad as the history books say? I’ve read that the KGB did terrible things.”

“It was bad. Things were done to us and to survive I did things, things I won’t talk about Andrew.”

“Sorry for asking, I didn’t mean to stir up any memories.”

“No, it is good you ask. Even if the details are lost, the events should be remembered to not be repeated.”

That I could agree with.

Beverly spoke, “Just so you know Andrew, we were asked personally by Craig to look after you in a situation like this. Although Ryan almost lost out to Flores for being with you rather than your sister Rita.”

“She has a mean left hook.” Ryan chuckled. “Craig said that since both of us experienced what the worst of humanity had both been allowed a second chance with life, he wanted all of us to watch over his children if he could not. We owe Craig so much.”

Should I feel special because a man who had stayed out of my life had gone so far as to make sure I had a bodyguard? The proper answer would be yes. But I already had enough on my plate with the powers but no powers. If Craig hadn’t been rich, would he have garnered the same respect? Maybe. He was a hero after all. I’m not sure how to feel about this. I’m going to change the topic. It’s safer that way.

“So where did you and Craig work out of?”

Beverly answered, “That’s classified, but there is truth to the matter that the United States southwest has the highest percentage of quantum templates in its population in the world.”

I didn’t know that either.

“Other than babysitting me, what kind of work did you do, if you don’t mind me asking. I guess it might be classified.

“Sometimes it’s bodyguard work for high-value targets. Sometimes it’s search and rescue missions. Sometimes we fight those few villains out there like Mystica and Robo-Brain. We’ve fought to stop terrorism, overthrown the occasional dictator, done search and rescue in the most extreme and inhospitable places in the world and everywhere else when convenient, and done a number of things under the table to help keep the peace and better society.

“And you’re fine with babysitting me?”

“Oh, it’s not just babysitting. We’re going to be your teachers. Margoles should have told you about that.”

“Well, he did say you could help me with a number of things. I take it more than the Spanish I want to learn.”

Beverly cracked her knuckles. “You’re going to learn how to defend yourself. We’re also going to help you with any skill or training you want. You’re being withdrawn from school to be home taught by us. Your sister Deana is joining us as well when not at school. We believe that her powers may be useful in your training.”

“I guess I’m okay with that.”

Even if I get my powers I’ll be okay with that. I still want a job as an electronics engineer like dad. Ryan, Bev, mom and Dee can be heroes.

By now we’d arrived at the street I lived on.

I could see my father’s car in the carport, but not my mothers.

Ryan parked the car in the driveway of the house next to ours.

“Why are you parking here? This is my neighbor's place, the Victorsons.”

“Don’t worry about that. This is where we’ll be staying. Margoles bought the house from Mrs. Victorson. We’re going to help her move out over the next week.”

Ryan pointed at me when he said we. They were nice neighbors.

I got out of the car before one of them could get out and open the door. I can still open my own doors, no matter how privileged I am. After I walked over to the front door of my house, I found it unlocked when I tried to enter.

Stepping over the threshold, Dee screamed as she tried to fall on me. I say tried because Beverly who was right behind me, caught her.

“Oh come on Bev, I was only trying to train him.”

It seems even Dee knew about this before I did. I’d have to find out why they kept me in the dark for so long.

“Put me down.”

Beverly didn’t. She just threw Dee onto her shoulder and carried her. I took off my jacket and hung it up.

“Please put me down,” Dee asked.

“Only if you behave.”

“I promise,” Dee said.

“Okay.” Beverly set Dee down. I could see Ryan was inside and had closed the door behind him.

I entered the front room. All of my other siblings were there waiting.

“Hey guys,” I waved at them, did dad make you all wait for me?”

“I did,” Dad spoke up from the kitchen.

“Can I get up,” Franky yelled out making Karen, who sat next to him, wince.

“You’re all free to get up, but don’t swarm the two with your brother.”

Franky didn’t wait for Dad to finish. He got up and ran to me, hugging me. “Get your power yet?”

“No Franky, not yet.”

“Awwwwww.”

Ryan and Beverly moved past me into the front room. Karen and Kevin had moved to the floor to make room for Ryan and Beverly to sit.

Dee had disappeared somewhere.

“Andrew, come here, I need your help.”

“Sure thing Dad. Franky, go and listen to Beverly and Ryan. They’re interesting people.”

“Sure thing Andy,” Franky yelled. He definitely needed work on the volume control.

I walked into the kitchen to find my dad standing by the stove, taking an oven mitt off his hand. Dee was sitting at the kitchen table. She spoke out, “How’s it feel to find out you’re related to a super villain?”

“That was rude, if I hear you speaking like that again, you’re grounded.”.Dad frowned at her.

Dee sulked, and quickly apologized, “Uh, I’m sorry dad.”

“I’m going to talk to Andrew in the den. Dee, I want you to load the dishwasher and watch the stove. If the timer goes off, turn the oven off and open the oven a little bit.

“Okay.” Dee moved to the dishwasher and began her task not wanting to upset her father a second time.

“Come on son.”

Dad left the kitchen for the Den, and I followed along. He sat on the futon, while I pulled out the desk chair for me.

“I want to make a few things clear. I met Craig in College much like your mother did. I even met him before she did. There are few men better than him. I’m sorry that we didn’t tell you this, but Craig asked us not too.

“Don’t worry dad. I knew something was up but never asked. You're my dad, dad. Nothing will ever change that.”

“The three of us went to college together. When your mother was pregnant with you, Craig made sure to arrange for your care so she could continue her education. She was pissed off at him, that he wouldn’t stay, but he explained how it was. He then pushed the two of us together. We hit it off. He even got me my job with Melconex Industries.”

“I get that he’s a nice guy dad. From what you, Ryan, and Beverly said, you all look up to him.”

I hope you don’t feel any ill will towards him. I don’t know who your role model is son

I interrupted, “It’s you.”

My dad looked perplexed, “Really, that’s cool, I’m cool I guess,” he smiled, “but Craig is my role model. Like I said, few men are better than him. If you have any questions, ask away.”

“Are you okay with the bodyguards, and me being taken out of school?”

“I’ve known both of them a while. They both had to pass an interview with your mother and I. I’m okay with it because I know who they are and what’s in store. They aren’t going to go easy on you.”

I did my best to keep a straight face. “Is there a reason why no one told me about this. It seems even Dee knew Bev before I did.

“The observer effect." Dad didn't waste time saying that.

“The observer what?”

“It’s the principle in science and engineering that the observer, by observing changes that which is being observed.”

I was confused, “What does that mean for me?”

“We didn’t want you to act differently if you knew you were the child of Craig Tamerlane. A child that although he wanted him, and supported him, wasn’t allowed to be loved by him. The less direct influence he had, the less chance you had of going bad. We all decided this, that it was best for you if you weren’t spoiled or under the assumption you could be.”

Going bad. Would I have gone bad? Would I have grown arrogant or lazy with the knowledge of my paternity? Could I have? I’d watched my parents raise Dee who had powers. They kept her in line even if she was the daughter of a famous hero. I didn’t have powers, but they didn’t know that before I was born. Existential crap indeed. I didn’t turn out any different because I am me. I’m not going to worry about it.

“Andrew, I think you’re a wonderful child who has turned out well. Please don’t be angry with us. We were trying to protect you.” Dad was waiting for me to say something.

“I’m not upset. It’s kind of weird, but I’m definitely not upset.

A look of relief came over my father. As if I could hate him. We had our moments when we didn’t see eye to eye, but any other set of people could have the same. He raised me. No offense to my mother, but she was gone quite a bit when not pregnant with my siblings.

“You’re my dad. You did what you had to do to raise me.”

“Okay then. So, tell me how it feels to have two step-siblings? Ryan and Bev told us to expect Jonas, Rita, and her two bodyguards for dinner tonight.”

“Oh, I’m sorry I forgot to call ahead and ask. I shouldn’t have volunteered our house.”

Dad smiled, “Don’t worry, Ryan said that he thought you’d come up with this. We ordered pizza, and I have a cake in the oven.”

“Well, I'm still sorry, but back to your question dad, I feel weird. I mean we don’t have a whole lot in common but what we do have is pretty random. We’ve agreed to keep in contact and given the chance visit with each other. Oh, and I’ve apparently got 100k a year. It will help a lot with alleviating costs. You can spend more time at home dad instead of working as much to make ends meet for us.

“It’s your money son. I don’t feel right having the family take it from you.

“If I have to, I’ll buy your time.”

“Oh god, don’t guilt trip me. You know what, you’re right. But you’re going to have to budget it. It’s got to cover any special activities you and your bodyguards go in on. Don’t spend it all in one place.”

“I won’t.”

The stove's timer dinged.

“I need to get back to the kitchen,” Dad said as he stood up.

I stood up as well, moved to him and gave him a hug. I never let our size difference make it awkward.

“I love you, dad.”

“I love you too son.”

I released the hug. Dad left the den for the kitchen. I made sure the desk chair was put back. Then I left the den. I stopped in the hallway where I had a view of everything. Franky was sitting next to Ryan, showing off his toys. Ryan kept on asking Franky questions about each one. If Franky opened up to him, then that was a plus. Franky didn’t do well with strangers and it was nice to see him relaxed. The rest of my siblings except Dee were listening to Bev talk about being super-powered. All were in awe of her describe some of the things she had done. Dad was in the kitchen getting everything ready for when the pizza came, but Dee wasn’t in the kitchen.

I looked up.

“Wrong way bro,” Dee said as she came up from behind and latched on my back, having reduced her weight to almost nothing. “So I’m going to help you train. I’m not going to go easy on you.”

I didn't say anything or move. I just watched everyone do their thing.

“What you looking at,” Dee whispered.

“I’m looking forward to it.” I actually was.



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