Following an evening of making Jess behave and attending another mind numbing senior leaders meeting, Sam found herself facing her class once more with Mike at her side. She avoided eye contact with him to better pretend the Jess situation hadn't happened. Fortunately, Mike had gone into Centurion mode, becoming the very image of military professionalism. With only a brief explanation of what they could expect, Mike began to go about the room flooding individuals with precursor. In his wake, they deflated like cartoon flowers in the wake of a skunk, bending over to hold head in hands or sinking to lay on the floor. Moans and whines filled the room like a hospital ward chorus. With a casual wave, Mike left to take care of operations team business.
Sam brought out her phone and began to play games. Her assistant instructors occupied themselves in various ways. Sean and Srinivas set up a chess board and went about their nerdy activity. Fred read a dog-eared paperback with a cowboy on its cover. They probably did not look very professional. Their students were unlikely to notice, given their current state.
As the minutes ran into hours, they found new ways to occupy their time. First, Srinivas attempted to teach Sam chess. That only frustrated both of them, as Srinivas didn't understand how teaching differed from winning and Sam had little real interest in the game. Then Sean brought out a deck of cards and all four of them played Blackjack for a while. That ended when Srinivas realized a vasted mind made counting cards trivially easy with only a single deck of cards.
They took turns cleaning up vomit and offering a tough love version of moral support to their miserable charges, but mostly the day consisted of boredom. At lunchtime, they went two at a time nextdoor to eat. Someone had bought watermelon for dessert, which proved more popular than expected, meaning it was entirely consumed before Sam arrived. The person responsible for lunch had obviously chosen the main course in deference to Cassandane's preferences, despite the fact that their leader missed most lunches with them. Eggplant parmesean without the parmesean managed to be neither filling nor tasty.
By the time the day had officially ended, their students had mostly recovered. None of them were eager to try out their new talents. Hours of being ravaged by a migraine could tarnish even the excitement of gaining superpowers. Sam chided them for the door mood of the group, giving them the impression that in the EDA proper, they had been expected to start training immediately after attunement.
Out of twenty students, they had attuned six noetics, five teleotics, five kinetics, two brutes, one aeronaut, and one siren. The public works guy had leaked tears and held his head in one hand while whispering that he got exactly the two talents he had wanted, which somehow managed to be equal parts funny and endearing. Everyone else expressed disappointment. They had all been living in a fantasy of becoming paragons until their personal hell had ended with typical outcomes. Sam had no doubt their attitudes would improve in the coming days. They had gained incredible power, even if not to the extent they had hoped for.
Sam carried the students to the ground in groups of five and then made her way over to headquarters proper, hoping that dinner would be ready. Silence greeted her. Kendra Varanelli was not at her post and her three assistant teachers had vanished. When Sam poked her head into their large group instruction room, she found some of the missing people. Kendra and Jimmy sat behind the laptop, staring in horror at the screen while the instructors stood behind them in shock.
Her stomach twisted. "What's going on?"
"Terrorists in D.C.," Jimmy said. "They toppled the Washington Monument and now they are disassembling the Lincoln Memorial."
"Oh, shit." Sam stumbled forward to look at the screen herself. A frantic kaleidoscope of images showed the white spear of the Washington Monument tilting over like a felled tree to explode apart on contact with the ground, and the columns of the Lincoln Memorial's roof being withdrawn to collapse the roof, and innocent people being forced into the sky only to splat onto the ground, and bystanders running every direction. The country was being attacked by kinetics again. Her stomach twisted again, making her feel on the verge of vomiting. "Oh, shit."
Srinivas managed to say something useful. "Where is Mike? Where is Cassandane?"
"Cassandane is away and not answering her phone," Kendra said. She squeezed her eyes shut. "And Ski just took the operations team to D.C."
Sam's mouth worked for a moment before she could squeeze out words. "What about us?"
"Ski said to sit tight."
Sam looked from face to face, suddenly realizing that she was now in command of headquarters during a terrorist attack. "Oh, shit."
Kendra's phone rang and the woman swooped it up with a sudden motion. "Hello? This is the EDA. Who's there?" Her hopeful expression warped into disbelief. "A second attack? Pittsburgh?"