By the end of gym on Friday, five more people had left or been kicked from the program, nobody was completely sure if falling behind in gym meant you were forced to leave, or if the exercise was simply too much to take and they didn’t think they’d make it any longer. Nobody had had much time to think about the subtlety work, nobody in the house had the energy or the time to see if they could follow the dean to lunch on Wednesday. In addition to the fatigue from gym, the normal college classes had begun to assign homework, luckily homework didn’t require too much movement at night.
Friday night, most of the house has decided to head out on the town, find a frat party, maybe dance, although that last suggestion was only made by Sam, who continued to heal himself every day and therefore was the only one that could move enough to dance. James and Tony however, decided to stay in and try and finish their college course load tonight, then spend the weekend finishing the subtlety work. James was sure he’d figured out some of the more obscure ones. One of the number problems was most likely GPS coordinates, because the spot they showed was directly in the middle of campus. Another number problem had been a phone number, that when called required entering five digits that were on the end of the code. And he was almost positive now that another of the number puzzles was a street address, he noticed that the college’s zip code was in the middle of the code, and he surmised that the number before the zip would be the name of a street that was a number, with the first three or four numbers being the numbers in the address.
And Saturday morning brought James to that address. He circled the property, from the outside it appeared to be a warehouse, long abandoned it looked like. On his second pass he saw a keypad next to a service door, on the end of the number puzzle, after the address were ten numbers, the keypad by the door, looked like a four or five digit model, so there must be even more to the puzzle within the building. James entered the numbers in the sequence, after four numbers the keypad beeped and the door unlocked, he went in. Inside the warehouse, there was a second building within, this was most likely the test, people were probably supposed to be using their powers to gain entry. Now he just had to figure out what the last six numbers meant. James stood by the door he came in and studied the inner building, it was extremely basic is design, completely square, maybe two stories tall, one set of double doors out front, no windows that he could see, no cameras, no sentries, it didn’t look like there was any lasers or pressure plates, of course all his knowledge of infiltration come from the movies, so he was probably wrong about most of it.
Ultimately, he could stand here all day and stare and not get any more information about the place, so it was time for action. First he was going to circle the structure, see if there are any other doors or windows, because using the front door didn’t seem like a good opening move. James circled the building, there was no other way in, no doors, windows or vents, and he saw no way to get to the roof, at least not for him, other powers may be able to do it, but he wouldn’t be able to get up there. James had spent half an hour here already, it was now or never. He approached the door, nothing happened, he checked the door, it wasn’t locked. James peeked his head slowly in the door, the room within was bare, a white room, paneled in white plastic, there was nothing on the wall, no switches, no cameras, no panels. The only thing in the room was a wooden table and matching wooden chair, sitting on the table was a computer. James approached it slowly, getting close to it he saw it was an old model, huge monitor, green screen, 5″ floppy disk drive, no mouse, James had never even seen a computer this old, and knew nothing of the operating system. The only thing on the screen was a blinking green square and James happened to have a six digit code, entering it, the computer made a loud buzz, then a message appeared on screen, ‘A12W4G21′ James wrote down the code and left, nothing stopped him until he got back out the door.
About halfway between the interior building door and the warehouse exit James heard a buzz coming from the roof of the building. Looking up James saw four drones coming off the roof and began to surround him, they weren’t military level drones, not even HCP level, but they were at least high level hobby models, each had a mounted camera and something else that kind of appeared to be a weapon, most likely some kind of tracer to confirm if someone would have been hit. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do with this part of the test, destroy them, avoid them, and was them being around him mean that he’d already failed this portion of the test. James tried to head to the door, but they maneuvered to stop him, it seemed to James that destroying them was the goal here.
James’s power was not very effective on non-living things, but extending his tentacle out ten feet allowed him to lift about ten pounds with it, but at fifteen feet he could barely lift three. Luckily these drones wouldn’t weight much more than that, but unfortunately they could generate more than ten pounds of force, so the best chance to take one out at range would be to surprise it, grab it and slam it to the ground before it could create too much reverse force. James backed up to the interior building wall, to keep all the drones in sight, or at least to avoid being surrounded, James had been taking one form of martial arts or another for the last ten year, and this was basic strategy for fighting multiple opponents. So far the drones hadn’t done anything but get in his way when he tried to leave, and since they weren’t really strong enough to handle even an average super, they were probably waiting for someone or something, James wasn’t going to wait for that to happen.
James lashed out with a tendril from both his right hand and the left, aiming for the two farthest to the right. He was able to slam the one on the far right to ground, causing it to crash, but the one next to it was either too far away or he was too unfocused, because his tendril phased though it. This may have been what they were waiting for, because the two on the left fired at him, they didn’t fire tracer pellets like he had assumed, but lasers, and they both hit him, one in the upper leg, one in the shoulder, they hurt, but only about the same as a bee sting, the third drone must have been thrown off by his attack, because it hadn’t fired yet, the others seemed to be moving in to take another shot. James rolled forward and threw a tendril straight up into one of the drones with as much force as he could muster. It went through one of the turbines, and while barely moving the drone, it seemed to stall out the motor and it fell, as he was getting back to his feet another sting hit him in the back. Another quick shot at the drone in front of him failed again, it was least twenty feet out, well beyond his physical range, another sting hit him in the back, but he was able to side step the shot from the drone in front of him.
He figured he had two options here, run for the door, or charge one of the drones, both involved running, so he took off running towards the door, going serpentine. He kind of wanted revenge on these things and whoever was paying for them, so he charged the one that had been in front of him. They were now flying about twenty feet off the ground now, so he’d need to be almost directly under it to get any kind of hit on it, from his hand to the drone would be just under thirteen foot, so he’d have to be precise and strong to have any effect on these things. It seemed the drones’ lasers had a recharge of about three seconds and they’d both fired about same time, he’d need to avoid their attack once more before closing the distance. He could now see both drones, but there was really no indication of when they are about to fire, they weren’t very good shots though, so moving should be the key. He kept running at one of the drones, when he felt a sting in his neck, and saw another one miss him by a few feet, he started counting down in his head from three.
He jumped up as high as he could towards one of the drones, flailed out with one of his tendrils, slamming the edge of it with a glancing blow, causing it to flip over, it seemed to completely throw off its stability, causing it fly full force into the wall. If it had been any higher quality the hit wouldn’t have even have caused it to wobble. James turned and charged the final drone, charging straight at one seemed be the most effective way of reaching it, seeing as that would be the best way to avoid and destroy it, that’s exactly what he did. He pushed out a tendril in each hand, and began swatting at it, first with one arm, then the other, it fired again and James avoided it, closing the gap to thirty feet, he could push his tendril out that far and drain a human, but it had no physical effect on the drone, so he sprinted faster, in less than a second he was under it, he grabbed it with both tendrils and pulled straight down, the force of two arms was enough to force it to the ground, where James slammed it with his foot. Nearly everyone else in the house, except for maybe Hope and Allison, could have taken out the drones in half the time, and taken less hits. So, the question was what was it supposed to prove, that his limitations were mechanical, or that he shouldn’t have been caught by them in the first place. With subtlety the motives didn’t seem to be clear, and yet James was pretty sure he could excel in this subject, so it was a bit of a contradiction. James ran home fast, he’d been hit a number of times, and the burning wasn’t getting any better.
Sam was sitting in the living room doing his subtlety packet, or rather he was watching television with the subtlety packet open and sitting on the coach next to him, when James called out from the entryway. “Hope? You here?”
“Yo, James, Hopes not here, it’s only me and Tony, what’s up?” Sam asked.
“On one of the subtlety challenges, I was hit a couple of time with a laser,” James said pulling up the back of his shirt to show the burns. “It’s really starting to sting now, I was hoping I could get some healing from her. But, since she’s not here, would you mind if I drained some of your energy to heal myself, you could just recharge it pretty easily.”
“I’ll trade you. You give me…let’s call it five answers on the subtlety packets and I’ll give you your energy,” Sam said, only at most half joking.
“Fine, but healing first, and only because these things seem to be getting worse,” James immediately formed a tendril hand and reached it towards Sam, he began draining, after about a second the feel of the energy changed, it seemed as if Sam had activated his battery and James was draining directly from there, the feel of it was very different than that a normal human or super. James was pretty sure if he wanted to he could drain every drop of energy from that battery in a few minutes, and he also got the feeling he could store this type of energy up like Sam does, normally when James absorbs energy it lasts at most 12 hours, and it only lasts that long if he nearly drains them to death. This definitely required further trials. If James could actually store energy long term, the potential could be huge, the combat options alone would be a huge boon in all areas of study and the saved energy available for healing could keep him in healing classes. The question was, what would Sam demand for the energy. So James figured it would be better to ask forgiveness than permission. James healed his wounds with about three seconds of energy, then he continued to drain him for about five more seconds. It should be enough energy to test if it can be stored. “Thanks man. Fine, so I owe you five answers,” James said, Sam looked no worse for wear, usually when he drains a person for ten seconds from this range they look like they’re ready to pass out on their feet, and they sleep for ten to twelve hours.