Ascension – Part 3
Written by taliesan :: [Tuesday, 04 July 2006 12:13] Last updated by :: [Wednesday, 08 May 2013 12:26]
Ascension – Part 3
When we last left: Andrea told Ryan about the emergence of her powers and how it affected her life.
For the first week after they met, Ryan and Andrea spent a couple hours after-school, talking about and exploring Andrea's powers. On the first afternoon after the earthquake, they drove up to Denton, the big city about 30 miles north of Unity. 'Big' being a relative term, since Denton had a population of 35,000. There, they bought several stacks of comics featuring Superman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and other super-strong characters that could fly, along with a couple character reference books. “It's not like there's anyone we can talk to that has real practical knowledge about this stuff, after all.” Ryan remarked when Andrea questioned him.
Andrea just shrugged. “I guess. But still … it's just weird thinking of comics as like a training manual.”
Ryan chuckled at her. “Drea … if I remember right, you were the one that asked me about comics yesterday.”
“Yeah … I know,” she sighed as she flipped through an issue of Supergirl. “I guess it's as good a starting point as any. But if you think I'm going to wear a little red mini-skirt while I'm flying, you can just keep on dreaming.” Andrea smiled wickedly as a blush grew on Ryan's face once he got the mental image.
Over the next few days, Andrea would attempt to bring out other powers, but she never succeeded. No X-Ray vision, heat vision, or anything else found in the S-Family comics. Seeing the disappointed look on her face, Ryan shook his head in amazement. “You can fly, run faster than a car, can juggle my car easily, and, oh yeah … can probably take as much punishment as a tank … and you still want more powers?”
Andrea just smiled innocently and tilted her head to look like a coy schoolgirl. “Well … I just thought that the X-Ray vision could come in handy around the Boy's locker room …”
Ryan fell to the ground laughing. “Jeeze! Talk about power corrupting …”
Andrea gave him a mock scolding look. “Right … and you wouldn't be hanging around the Girl's locker room if you had x-ray eyes …”
“That's different …” Ryan snorted. “Teenage boys are supposed to be oversexed maniacs. Hell, guys in general.”
Andrea just smirked back at him. “Okay … back into town for dinner then meet back here tonight?”
Ryan nodded. “Sounds like a plan. We'll test how far you can see at night after it gets dark.”
The sun was just starting to set behind the hills when Ryan returned to the outcropping overlooking the lake. Andrea was already waiting from him, dressed in a light blue track suit and tennis shoes. From the absence of her bike, Ryan guessed she ran here. “Still no idea what your maximum running speed is?”
Andrea shook her head. “No. I got here in about a minute, though. I took the back roads so no one would see me. Maybe … 2 miles? I didn't even push myself, either.”
Ryan nodded and did a quick calculation in his head. “So … 2 miles in a minute … that's about 120 mph.” He gave out a low whistle. “Good thing you stuck to roads no one would see you on.”
Andrea nodded and carefully stretched out in the passenger seat of Ryan's car with the top pulled back. “Yeah, but i just wish I could really open up and see what I could do. All this lifting boulders and running and low level flying … I just know I haven't even started to tap into what I can do.”
Ryan slid in next to her in the drivers seat and looked up into the sky. The setting sun was casting an orange glow and the clouds had a slight tint of pink to them. “I know … and I'm working on figuring something out. I don't want to get your hopes up but I may have a solution tomorrow.”
Andrea raised her head in excitement. “Really? What is it? What are you planning?”
Ryan chuckled, “Just wait and see. Don't want to spoil the surprise.”
They laid in the car, stretched out, watching the sun go down and the darkness of night approach. While they made small talk, Ryan had to focus on the conversation. He kept getting distracted by the closeness of Andrea. So impossibly strong and tough, yet when their hands would briefly brush together once in a while, her skin was smooth and soft. He caught the scent of lavender every so often; probably from her shampoo, he mused. He found himself wondering if she noticed things about him. Then he dismissed the idea. There was no way she could see anything more than friendship in him.
As the sky became fully dark, Ryan sat up in the seat and brought the seat back to the upright position. “Okay … Let's get started.” He was more than eager to break the stillness, to get his mind onto anything besides what he may be starting to feel for Andrea.
Andrea sat up herself and started looking around. “Okay … I can see the marina … there's a camp set up way on the other side of the lake …” She gasped suddenly and blushed, giggling. “Looks like Mike Powel and Rita Sanchez are getting to know each other better … they're making out near the bandstand in the park by the lake.”
Ryan chuckled. “Okay, little Miss High School Enquirer … Looks like you can see about as far in the dark as you can in the day.”
Andrea nodded, then suddenly became alert. “There's a train coming in …” She looked off to the direction of the train horn and bolted up. “There's a truck stuck on the tracks! I can hear him trying to get the engine to turn over …”
It was a worse day than usual for Tom Black. He had gotten a foreclosure notice on his small orchard in the mail today, and the cost to repair his truck had been higher than the estimate. But without the old Ford truck, he had no way of getting the fruit to the Farmer's market this weekend to sell and try to stall the bank for another month. And when his truck stalled on the railroad tracks, he just looked up to the heavens with a 'why me, God' expression. He kept trying to get the motor to catch, but the old engine wasn't having any of it.
When the crossing guards came down and the lights and bells started to announce a train coming down the track, Tom started to panic. He furiously kept trying to get the engine to start, whispering prayers and quietly pleading with the stubborn engine. The train's horn kept getting louder, and the front light was starting to light up the truck's cab. Tom started to fumble with the seat belt, but his trembling hands couldn't work the latch. As the train bore down on him, Tom could hear the grating metal sound of the brakes trying to stop the massive locomotive. He raised up his arms in front of his face.
There was a quick jolt from the rear, and the truck was pushed forward, off the tracks, crashing through the crossing guards, and safely rolling to a stop. Tom looked around once he realized that he wasn't dead. The train was still coming to a stop and had passed right through the crossing. His hands still shaking, Tom managed to stumble out of the truck as the freight train came to a complete stop.
The engineers came running up to Tom and the truck. “Hey man … you okay?”
Tom nodded numbly. “Wha … wha happened?”
The lead engineer shook his head. “I don't know … there were a lot of shadows. But..it looked like … like someone pushed you out of the way.”
All three men simultaneously looked at the rear of Tom's truck. The rear steel fender was slightly dented in at two places, spaced slightly like someone had pushed with both hands.
Ryan sighed in relief as he watched through the binoculars he kept in the car to monitor Andrea when she was far off. “Jeeze … that was close.” His heart was thumping in his chest, the adrenaline fueling it from watching Andrea fly down in a blue-colored streak, then push the truck off the tracks only a second or two before the train hit. By the time she had casually flown back, his heartbeat and breathing had returned more or less to normal. “Cutting it kind of close there …”
Andrea smirked. “Like you could have done any better.”
Ryan smiled a bit. “So … that was 'faster than a speeding locomotive, more powerful than a stalled truck'?”
“Funny … maybe you should go into comedy.”
Ryan tilted his head in amusement. “Nah … I've already got my hands full working with you. Who has time to write material?”
Andrea smiled, then exhaled in relief. “Can we call it a night, coach?”
“Yeah, sure. I'll see you at school tomorrow.”
Andrea nodded, then started to rise in the air to fly home.
“Hey, Drea …”
She paused in mid air and looked back at Ryan. “Yeah?”
He was smiling proudly at her. “How did it feel? You know … to actually do some superhero stuff?”
Ryan could see the smile light up her face in the darkness as she called back to him, “It was the greatest thing in the world!”
At school the next morning, Ryan pulled Andrea aside after their first class together. “Hey, I know it's Friday, but do you have any plans tonight?”
Andrea shifted a bit and crossed her arms in front of her, smiling slyly. “No. Why? Are you asking me out?”
Ryan coughed a bit and shook his head. “No … nothing like that. Just … that idea I mentioned last night … I think we can try it tonight.”
Andrea's smile faded when Ryan nixed the date idea, but she got excited when he mentioned a chance to test her powers. “Yeah, sure! When do you want to meet up?”
Ryan rubbed his hands together and gave Andrea a little conspiratorial smile. “Meet me at my place at 11. Wear dark clothing that you can run in. Oh … and bring a swimsuit and a beach towel.”
Andrea blinked at the last set of instructions, but nodded. “Ummm … okay.”
“You know, Ryan,” Andrea hissed in annoyance. “When you said we'd be testing my powers tonight, I notice you left out the part where we'd be breaking into a military base.”
Ryan sighed. “It's not a military base. It's a mothball fleet yard, so it's not like we're trespassing on anything important,” he replied over his shoulder. “And the quicker you get dressed, the quicker we can get out of here.”
Andrea scowled at him as she started putting on her bikini top behind the brush. When she showed up at Ryan's house, he was all ready to go and decked out in a black sweater and jeans. He had a list of directions for her to follow while flying. He climbed onto her piggy-back, and off they went. She didn't want to see how fast she could fly, not while carrying Ryan, but they made it to the delta off the San Francisco Bay in about 45 minutes. Ryan guided her to a spot to land inside the security fence, away from any gates leading into the dock area. And there, floating in the deep water inlet, was a collection of warships from World War 2. The idea, Ryan explained, was for her to swim under them and try to lift them while flying.
Andrea walked out from behind the brush. “Well … I still don't like it. This could be real serious if we get caught.”
Ryan turned around. “We're not gonna get …” He lost his train of thought as he saw Andrea in her bikini. She was drop-dead gorgeous and he just stared at her. “I … I …”
Andrea sighed. “Oh … yeah … you're gonna be a big help …”
“Ummm … just … just try to lift each one and see what feels like the most you can handle …” Ryan stammered as he shook his head clear.
Andrea gave him one last look and a sigh before diving into the water. Even though it was well into autumn, she didn't really feel the chill of the water. 'At least there's that', she thought. 'It would have served me right for not having a one-piece if I did feel the cold, though.'
Ryan watched her speed underwater until all he could see was her wake. Like a torpedo, she swam towards the collection of ships, waiting to be turned into scrap or a museum, whatever their fate was. As he watched through his binoculars, he noticed a bit more of a bob in the water to some of the ships. 'Probably Drea testing them before she tries to lift,' he thought. He waited patiently for her to chose the one that felt right for her strength level. And after a few minutes, he saw one starting to rise out of the water.
He had done a lot of research while working on this idea. He knew the types of ships that were berthed here and a general estimate of how big and heavy they were. He knew Andrea's strength was incredible, really approaching the things that Superman could lift in the comics. But still, he was awestruck as he saw her lifting the ship out of the water. An Iowa class battleship. Just under 900 feet long and 110 feet wide. Weighing in at 48,000 tons, empty.
And she was had the keel a good 10 feet out of the water for several seconds before she slowly and carefully set it back down. There was hardly a ripple reaching the shore after the behemoth settled back into it's floating resting place. A few moments later, Andrea cam swimming up and waded ashore. “So?” she asked while shaking the water from her hair. “How'd I do?”
Andrea was just as shocked as Ryan was when he told her. “Are you kidding? Like, almost 50,000 tons?!” She started to hyperventilate. “Holy crap …”
Ryan nodded quickly. “Yeah … do you think that's your maximum?”
“Probably.” she replied as she started rubbing her biceps and sitting down on the shore grass. “I could really feel the burn in my arms and body. Not bad or painful, just … yeah. That's probably the most I can lift.”
Ryan shook his head to clear it and went to wrap the towel around Andrea. She smiled up at him. “Thanks. So, what's next? You said you wanted to test my running speed too, so what do we do next? Fly to Indianapolis and break into the Indy 500?” Her cheerful smile faded away when she heard Ryan's nervous response.
“No … not exactly all the way out there …”
“Infineon Raceway. Motor sports arena for Northern California. They race just about everything here, from stock cars to motorcycles.” Ryan pointed out the winding racetrack that was below them. It was a short flight for Andrea, less than a minute away after she changed into her black shirt and jeans. “But this is perfect for you, Drea. Because around late August, they're done with the major circuits and keep the speedway open for drag racing on Wednesday nights. And this late on Friday, there's no-one around. See … totally deserted.”
Andrea growled a bit, even more annoyed than before for having to break into two 'test sites'. “Yeah, well just remember … if security does come after us, I don't have to be able to outrun them, just you.” As they came in for a landing, she dropped Ryan a few feet above the ground.
Ryan dusted himself off and puled out a flashlight and a stopwatch from his backpack. “Look, this is going to be real quick.” He walked over to the nearby quarter-mile line on the straight track. “I stand here and you go to the start line back there.” He gestured off in the distance. “When I turn on the flashlight, you take off and I time you. Simple and we'll be out of here in under a minute.”
Andrea grumbled, “you are so dead if we get caught,” as she jogged off to the starting line. Ryan gave her a count of 20 before he turned on the light and clicked the stopwatch. He turned to look at the finish line and clicked the stopwatch again a few seconds later as Andrea came tearing down the track. He blinked at the watch … the drag record here was 4.57 seconds. Andrea cleared the quarter-mile in just over 3.
Andrea was breathing hard as she jogged back to Ryan. She had clearly given this everything she had. “Okay … can we please go now?”
“Don't you want to know how fast you were going?”
She nodded and picked Ryan up, cradling him in her arms. “Yeah … you can tell me on the way home …” And then she took to the sky.
Ryan ran some quick calculations as they left the racetrack behind. “Okay … 3 seconds for a quarter-mile … that's 1 mile every 12 seconds … 5 miles in a minute … sixty minutes in an hour … Jesus! Three hundred miles an hour …”
She just smiled at Ryan. “See … like I said, who needs a car? But if I wanted one … I'll race ya for your pink slip.”
Andrea took a more leisurely pace flying back home. It took her about an hour before she landed in the back yard of Ryan's house. It was almost 3 in the morning, but Andrea didn't feel tired. Worn out from finding her limits, maybe, but not tired. This time, she gently set Ryan on the ground and landed next to him. “You know … this wasn't as bad as I thought it would be when I found out what you were thinking.” She paused for a while and smiled at Ryan. “I had a fun time tonight. Thanks.”
Ryan smiled back and rubbed his neck. “Hey, I had a great time too. It's amazing to see what you can do, Drea. I'm … honored that you share this part of you with me. “
Andrea leaned in closer, smiling. “We should do this again sometime. Or maybe something else together.” She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, then rose up into the air. “Call me when you wake up …” And with a wave, she started to fly towards her home.”
Ryan waved back numbly, shocked by the kiss. As she flew off, he turned to go inside, gently rubbing his cheek. He started wondering again. Maybe his thoughts weren't so foolish, after all. Maybe … she wanted something more, too.
'Tonight,' Ryan vowed to himself. 'I guess we'll see how she really feels tonight.'
Next: With a setup like that, do you even need to ask?