Issue 2 Review

Rising Stars 2 Synopsis

"Can't Touch This"

Peter Dawson was murdered last night.

Two police officers question Dr. Welles. They were led to him by an identification bracelet worn by Peter Dawson. Any Special who leaves Pederson is required to wear one and check in with the local authorities.

One of the officers inspects Welles' photographs and is impressed that he knows Flagg and Chandra. Welles says that the officer's opinion is fact: Chandra is the most beautiful woman in the world. That is her gift and her curse. The officers wonder why they never heard of Peter Dawson.

Dr. Welles tells the officers how he became involved with the Specials. Welles had followed the news as the children's parents pressed their case to the Supreme Court. The Court ruled that the government could not take the children away. The parents and government would agree on a physician to monitor the children and decide if they ever became a clear and present danger. Dr. Welles had worked on child welfare cases for the government before, and his name was selected. He approached the job with excitement of the unknown tempered with the knowledge that part of his job was to determine how the Specials could be stopped if necessary and betray them to the government if they became a threat.

Dr. Welles found the children amazing. Lionel Zerb could hear the voices of people who recently died. Patrick Ferry could disappear into shadows without being noticed. Randy Fisk was the first to wear a costume, long before people came to fear him as Ravenshadow. Willie Smith, who never had a chance, is another Special the public never heard of. Most of the Specials wanted to avoid the spotlight. The heroes and the ones who did not turn out quite right became famous. Everyone has heard of Sanctuary, Matthew Bright, Flagg, Pyre, and Paula Ramirez.

Dr. Welles tells the police that Peter Dawson was invulnerable. The energy formed as shield around his skin and inside his lungs and stomach. Nothing could pierce his skin. The shield was selectively permeable on a molecular level, so oxygen could get in but poison could not. One officer thinks it would be great to be invulnerable. Dr. Welles points out that Peter was completely numb. He could not feel pain, but he could not feel a woman's touch either. The only sensation Peter Dawson could experience was taste, so he ate all the time. He became very overweight, and the police verify that his home was filled with junk food.

Dr. Welles asks if the police are sure that Peter did not die of natural causes. They are positive that it is murder.

The police do not understand why Peter Dawson worked at a service station and lived in a dump with such an amazing power. Dr. Welles tells how Peter was drafted onto the football team in high school. Unfortunately, the power did not make him stronger or faster, just unharmed when the other team demolished him. As and adult, he tried to join the secret service, but his status as a Special kept him out. His poor physical condition kept him out of local law enforcement as well as bodyguard and security jobs. Peter also had a problem with authority figures that made it difficult for him to get the kind of job he wanted. His one break was a television commercial for Pederson Prudential insurance. However, the commercial did not generate any job offers for him.

After the television commercial Peter left Pederson, and Dr. Welles never heard from him again. He is not surprised that Peter ended up working in a service station. Welles insists that the police tell him how Peter was murdered. Joseph Drake was killed two weeks earlier by someone who knew how, and Welles wonders if there is some connection. The police tell Welles that Peter Dawson fell asleep in his chair. His numb skin did not feel the tape that bound his arms and legs. A plastic dry cleaning bag was placed over his head, and he suffocated to death.

The police pick up on Welles' earlier comment about stopping the Specials if necessary. Welles admits that he had figured out how to kill Peter Dawson and reported it to the court, but he does not think anyone else knew. Dr. Welles has no alibi for the time of the murder, but says that nothing has given him any reason to consider Peter Dawson dangerous.

The entire visit by the police is recorded by cameras that Dr. Welles hid in his home. He shows the tape to John Simon, a.k.a. Poet. John is sensitive to electrical fields and can tell that part of the conversation has been edited out. Welles confesses that the police asked him if there are any specials they would not know about that Welles would consider dangerous. He told them about John. He told them that he is a writer and poet who is not well received by the critics. He told them the generalities of John's abilities, but he did not tell them about his main power: the power he would have been terminated for, the power that is still a secret between them.

John takes the videotape and says that he understands why Welles had to tell the police about him. Someone is killing the Specials, and John vows to find out who and stop him.

Poet writes in his journal.

He believes that the killer is a Special. As children, the Specials showed each other their powers. Each time a new power was revealed, the other children would try to determine if they also had that power. There are even some Specials who still have not manifested powers as adults. The children also played the darker game of figuring out how to kill each other. Even then they knew that if one of them went bad, the other specials would be the only ones with the power, knowledge, and responsibility to stop him.

Poet notes that Peter Dawson and Joey Drake had limited abilities and did not pose a threat to anyone. He suspects that the killer is starting with the Specials who have less ability. He debates the merits of warning the other low-powered Specials against the chance of causing a panic.

Poet turns to the list of possible suspects. Many of the specials like Sanctuary and Chandra could never escape the spotlight long enough to commit two murders unnoticed. Ravenshadow could do it, but Poet can not imagine Randy being the killer. Poet contemplates the lower-power Specials. They do not attract media attention, and the murders required only special knowledge, not special powers. He wonders if one of them could be the killer. Possibly one of them has developed additional powers as an adult.

Poet remembers Willie Smith. Willie could fly, but he could never rise more than a few feet off the ground. Welles suspected that this was a result of a poor self image. The other children were terribly cruel to him. Finally, when Willie could not take any more, he glared at his tormenters and rose into the sky. He never stopped. Matthew Bright eventually realized what was happening and flew after him, but Willie was already gone. Nobody knows what happened to him. Maybe he died from lack of oxygen, or maybe he is still alive, waiting for a chance to get back at the Specials.

Poet also remembers Lee Jackson. However, everyone saw what happened to him on national television. Poet suspects that the current problems started when Lee was killed. His death was tragic and difficult, but it was not murder.

Poet promises to tell more about Lee next time...