Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday Serial~ The Kuehl Kids Part 9

The rumblings stopped.

Almira studied the scene around her with a cool, unchanged face.  The Professor sat among the rubble, his face in his hands.  Electra felt all her adrenaline draining out of her. Walter's face was even paler than it normally was. The lights flickered back on.  Then the true nature of the disaster showed itself.

Great jagged pieces of Walter's unmelting ice stood in four spots.  Some of the walls had torn out, leaving bare beams of wood standing.  The ceiling was broken in some spots, leaving open a couple of holes looking up into the night sky.  A lone moth flickered down, attracted to the light, which had remained undamaged.

"What happened?" Almira said in a cold, emotionless voice.

As Electra and Walter told her, the Professor looked up with each increment of the story, slowly and desperately.  When they got to the part about the interrogation and the meaning of the sullen darkness, he gasped.  "PowerCloak?" he said.

Electra and Walter paused.  "Yes," Electra said.

After a moment of silence, Walter said gently, "Is there something we need to know, Professor?  About the PowerCloak?"

"About everything," the Professor said.  He stood up, seeming like the old-looking but spry man he usually was.  "Let's see if the Vision Room was damaged."

The four silently walked to the Professor's moped.  Its high-wattage beam showed the damage of the hallways.  The chunks of ceiling that had rained down had left dents in the ground.  Electra tried out her power for the first time in an hour.  Her hands sparked to life.

"I guess the PowerCloak was lifted," she said.  Then she looked at Walter.

Neither of them could forget the surprise and suspicion they had felt when Walter's powers had proved immune to the PowerCloak.  Walter could feel something growing inside of him, something antsy.  Something was wrong.  With him?  With his past?  Maybe.

Electra's eyes glowed at Walter as they rode.  Walter didn't need to look at them to know what she was unspokenly asking.  Should they tell the Professor about his overcoming the PowerCloak?  Or should they hold off?

Deep down inside, Walter knew they should tell the Professor.  But half of him was worried that something was wrong with him--maybe there was something evil lurking inside him, or something about his unknown past.  Walter, unlike the other kids, didn't know his origins.  Electra's parents had been killed in an "accidental" car crash, probably engineered by Jalling's men, Tyler was an orphan (because his parents had died in a train wreck; they hadn't been associated with the Superhero Club) and his uncle had been a member of the SC, and Ally's parents were still alive, although they were in hiding like the Kuehl Kids were.  But according to the Professor, Walter had been found on the doorstep of the SC headquarters, with a pink Post-It reading "Walter Waterboy" stuck on him. 

He decided to ignore Electra.

They got to the Vision Room.  Inside, they noted that there was barely any damage.

"That's funny," Almira noted.  "The Vision Room is closer to our room than to the electrical room--yet there was damage in the electrical room."

"Could Quake control it like that?" Walter asked.

"The question is--why would he control it like that?" the Professor asked gravely. 

"Because there's something in here," Almira answered.  She looked up at the ceiling, newly patched. 

*       *       *


"Come on," grumped Fier.  "I thought we did a good job of doing this." 
The four were staring at the screen as Walter and Electra prepared to demolish the patch of ceiling. 
"It was a good job," Jasper Jalling said smoothly, coming into the room.  "DeMaterializing it onto the new ceiling was a good idea.  Nobody would notice.  Nobody did notice.  After all, Fier, who's got the prisoners?  We have much better things to watch."

"We've only got two of the prisoners," a new voice said.  "Only two."  A man stood in the doorway, an amused look on his face.

"Be quiet, Dillwin," snapped Jasper Jalling.  "Don't remind me."

He turned to his child proteges, who had watched as Electra zapped the ceiling.  The screen turned to static.  "Why did you only bring me two--and the two that I needed the least?"

"Sorry, Jasper," Swifte said humbly.  "It was my fault."

"You are a team, so it's all your fault," Jalling said menacingly.  "Why did you only grab those two and go?  You know the Waterboy means the most to me.  So why did you get the two most useless people on the team?"

"Quake started too late," Swifte said.

"YOU SHOULD HAVE STARTED RIGHT AWAY!" Jasper roared.  "YOU SHOULD HAVE STARTED RIGHT AWAY, QUAKE!  WHY DIDN'T YOU?  YOU...IMPS!"  He strode away, leaving Charles Dillwin to grin at the four miserable-looking kids.

"Sorry," he apologized, then left.

Swifte turned to her friends.  "Who wants to break it to him that Waterboy was immune?"

"If you're the high-and-mighty, go and do it yourself," Fier snapped. 
Swifte rolled her eyes at him and left to go to her bedroom.  At least she could practice in there...by herself.

*      *      *
Ally and Tyler sat in their separate cells.  They were divided by a wall that was clear and looked completely like they were in the same cell, but they knew by experience that there was something like invisible Plexiglass in the middle (Ally had a bruise on her forehead, and Tyler was still experiencing vertigo).  Worse, there was something like the PowerCloak with them, submerging them in darkness and taking away their powers.  The glass was also soundproof and touchproof--they could neither talk to each other nor devise a system of knocking.  Since it was dark, they couldn't act out their frustrations to one another.  Escape seemed futile.  And both of them were scared out of their wits.
 
A crack of light shone.  A door was cautiously opened, and a man entered.  Lights flickered back on.  Ally immediately jumped up, and wings sprouted from her back.  "I'm outta here!" she exclaimed.  "Loser."  She aimed a punch at the man, but it was deflected expertly. 
 
Ally went spiraling to the ground.  Just then, a zap sounded, and Tyler appeared in her cell by her.  "Are you all right?" he said.  To the man, he said, "What do you want, and why is the PowerCloak disabled?"
 
"I thought you'd be more grateful," Charles Dillwin said.  "I'm helping you escape, of course."
 
Ally got up.  She and Tyler faced the man.  "You helped kidnap us," Tyler accused.
 
Ally squinted at the man.  Then she gasped.
 
"Yes, but I've had a change of heart," Charles Dillwin said.  "What is it, Ally?"
 
"I've seen you in pictures!" Ally said.  "You're...You're--"
 
"Yes, Almira's 'deceased' husband," Charles Dillwin said smoothly.


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