The Bad Guy Wins in This One - Chapter Twenty (Booster)

“Hey Booster, can I get more juice?” called Yves Alexander. There was a very slight Redarctic accent, betraying where he grew up despite the dark skin that came from his father’s side of the family.

“Yeah, no problem,” replied Eric Choi, more commonly called Booster. Though only second generation, he spoke with a flawless Consolidated Standard accent, never betraying that he grew up with parents that spoke such broken Imperial he failed it in school all through elementary. But he threw himself into learning the language of his peer group and by the end of middle school he could read and write at a college level. With great effort and years of debate classes he also cured himself of his accent, going on to get a PhD in Imperial and winning several awards for his debating skills.

And now I’m a glorified battery. He was slightly bitter about that fact. What he would really like to do is become a well-liked author. But despite his passionate love of literature, he didn’t have the creativity to come up with a story he didn’t think of as clichéd or derivative. He wondered if his career as a lobbyist negatively impacted his ability to think of good stories.

He knew what he should do is write about a fictionalized version of his real life. I mean how many other people could boost a freaking super power dozens of fold? Yves Alexander was incredibly gifted, his ability to control molten Earth and fire surpassing almost any ability Booster had ever seen. But it was Booster that helped him make and maintain the giant aqueducts keeping water flowing to half the country.

It was cheating though, writing about real life. He wanted to create a story, not just record one. Besides, if he recorded the best and worst parts of his story, then his fellow members in Black Rain would for sure be paying him a visit.

So Booster currently spent his days supercharging other people’s gifts and trying to come up with a story idea. He knew he had the writing ability to make it a great one if he could just come up with the idea first. I wish I didn’t have to do this, he thought. He would have much preferred to go on a vacation by himself, secluded from everything on the top of some mountainside in the Crescent Chain. A change of environment might give him new ideas for a story.

His conscience wouldn’t let him though, what little of it there was left. He should have known that it was a big mission, given the abnormally high sum of money they’d paid him to carry out his part. But it didn’t seem that strange. He’d boosted Gravitas’ power on many missions and Reach’s as well. It was rare that he was privy to what the boosts were used for and that was normally just fine with him. But this time they’d had him boost this random electric kid.

It’d seemed strange to him at the time and he knew they might be using the guy to assassinate someone. But to blow up a whole fucking city? Not in his wildest dreams had he imagined they’d be capable of something like that, and knowing he was a part of it made him sick. Knowing how much damage it’d done to his country, the country that had taken in his parents and let them make a better life for him, well that just made him even sicker. Admittedly, he was a bit used to hypocrisy on that front given some of the shady clients he’d lobbied for in the past.

Still, as soon as he’d realized what he’d done, he quit his day job and signed up for helping with the reconstruction. He’d been here ever since and didn’t plan on leaving any time soon. The structure they’d made was holding, but no one was sure for how long and they were constantly fixing leaks and trying to shore it up.

It was a mostly thankless job, though only because Booster didn’t want any thanks. Part of that was due to the issue of being responsible for the destruction in the first place, but it was also because he knew that bringing too much public scrutiny to his powers would not end well. Black Rain representatives had already questioned the wisdom of his decision to help, though made it clear they would respect his decision to do so. They were somewhat afraid of attacks of conscience, but he knew they were loath to harm any of their own members, active or otherwise. Still, he wondered if he were not so useful to them whether he’d have met with an unfortunate accident already.

His desire to stay on Black Rain’s good side and desire for people not to applaud him for putting a Band-Aid on the arterial bleed he caused meant that only Yves, his team, and their direct superiors knew of Booster’s contribution.

“Can I get a little more charge?” asked Emilia. It wasn’t particularly hot, but her honey colored skin dripped sweat from exertion. He went over and laid a hand on her, power flowing from him into her. She breathed a sigh of relief as the metal support struts she was trying to bend slid easily into place over a mile away. “Thanks man.”

“Any time. Except in an hour or two. I have an errand to run.”

“Guess it’ll be dinner time then. I can’t keep doing this at this distance without your powers. I think we need helicopters or something to get us closer.”

“Isn’t that a tad dangerous? I thought your powers magnetized things pretty powerfully for a bit.”

“Yeah, can’t get too close or we’d be dragged right into whatever I’m moving. But we’ve only laid the supports half way to the middle and I’m starting to feel the strain even with your mojo juice running through me.” He wondered if that was a double entendre on her part. He was pretty sure that she liked him, but the Cabana boys of the Sunset Isles were more his type. Once in a while he would take a vacation there and play the naughty professor, even though he hadn’t taught a class on Imperial since working on his PhD in it.

Maybe I should get a relationship. Part of my problem is all of my characters are too flat emotionally. If I had a real relationship that might spark something... but the only guy in the country I’m attracted to is Kevin Knight and he doesn’t play for the same team. Sigh, why must I like bad boys? Bad, straight, boys… He pondered the issue as Gregory slammed down next to him, stumbling a bit.

“Hey man, got a twenty tonner that needs moving. You free to give a hand?” Twenty tonner? Where does he keep getting these things? There cannot seriously still be rocks that big around here in need of moving. Gregory could lift two ton rocks with the same ease that Booster could lift twenty pounds. But as the weight increased it became exponentially harder for him. By the time he got to four tons it would be the same as Booster trying to lift four hundred.

With Booster’s help though, he could pick up just about anything as if it was made of cotton candy. He could also jump hundreds of feet in the air and land gracefully. Booster often wondered if he actually had any real work left to do or if he was just moving the same half a dozen rocks around so he could keep hanging around and getting supercharged.

“Yeah, can do,” Booster said. He touched his hand to Gregory, whose hulking muscles seemed to bulge just a bit more.

“Awesome. You’re the best dude,” Gregory said. He walked a dozen yards over and jumped up, hurtling into the sky. It wasn’t quite enough, dust and debris from where he’d kicked off still swarming up around Booster and making him cough. At least he’s getting a bit better at landing. Hasn’t nearly killed me in over a week. That’s a personal best.

Booster wondered what it’d be like to have Gregory’s power, especially super charged. His own ability had brought him great wealth, but so had lobbying. Which is better, having an ability at all or being able to make them a crap ton better?

If he ever met someone who could switch people’s abilities temporarily, he would definitely be willing to pay a great deal to try one out. He didn’t have high hopes for it, but he’d met folks with some pretty strange gifts. Well, guess I should go meet some of those people now. As much as he hated what Black Rain had dragged him into, he valued his life a lot more than anyone else’s. So for the purpose of keeping that life, he’d decided to keep accepting their jobs for him. And right now he had to go meet someone at the airport.

He took a long look at the aqueducts before heading off, a very tiny sense of pride swelling up inside of him. They wouldn’t be there without him. Sure they shouldn’t need to be there and it was his fault for that too. But still, dammit it all if they weren’t cool.