Light shot from the spire, out over the lake. It shot in a long, narrow arc, stretching over the water and the city beyond before fading out of sight. Slowly, the light from the spire faded, and the clanks and rattles of the stations below slowly subsided into silence. All the air seemed suddenly cooler, freer, as if something had been released.
And atop a tall abandoned building near the edge of the artificial lake, a dark-haired boy in a long coat stood fascinated.
"Interesting." He grinned, pulling an umbrella from his coat, his gaze never leaving the power station. "Very interesting."
Without even a thunderclap, the skies broke open and poured rain out upon the boy, drops pounding mercilessly against his umbrella's thin plastic skin. Oblivious to it, he stood staring out at the station, rubbing his chin contemplatively.
Jack had seen plenty of things on his night escapades before, but the power station took the cake. It was one of the few things he could neither understand nor ignore. A station of some kind, sitting on an island in the middle of a lake constructed presumably expressly for its purpose, which seemed to amount to little more than a pretty lights show. (And a rainstorm.)
In fact, the whole thing was altogether so intriguing, that Jack found himself returning again and again to the abandoned building, to watch the station in hopes of a repeat performance. Again and again he found himself disappointed.
When he finally did witness another 'experiment,' he found himself as confused as before. The station was definitely producing energy, but what for? And that light beam HAD to use up a lot of power—what was its purpose? Was the Court maybe experimenting with weather manipulation? If so, he thought it a pretty cheap attempt.
He'd roughly worked out the timing of these procedures, and now, the third time, he'd picked up a bit more. The light beam probably WAS all the energy generated from the experiment. Why it would be firing it away like that, he couldn't tell. The rain he understood now too… it was simply the natural result of the clouds formed by the process. But the station itself remained as mystifying as ever.
Cocking an eyebrow at the rain pouring around him, Jack mused beneath his umbrella. He'd need help on this one.
"Radiant energy transferral?"
"Or release." Jack shrugged. "Impossible to tell for sure. It's sorta hard to explain, I guess. Anyway, forget it, it's not important."
"No, wait, what kind of release mechanism do they use?" John pressed, leaning over the cafeteria table. Winsbury and Matt sat on either side of him, also eyeing Jack curiously.
"Oh, hard to say." Jack pretended to think about it for a moment. "It's mounted on a spire… so… I suppose it would have to be some kind of ionization allocator."
"You're crazy," scoffed Matt. "Those things are theoretical. No one's managed to make a working one."
John shook his head. "No, a working prototype was actually constructed by Dr. Smith Jonesbury several years ago. It only worked over a distance of…"
"That was mostly because of the collecting mechanism." Winsbury broke in. "They've improved them since then, it's completely possible that…"
Jack suppressed a smirk as he watched his classmates' minds dissect the problem. Last year, Winsbury and John had done a project on radiant energy transferral. Though apparently they had suffered a great many teamwork issues, they still were the best brains around to pick about his power station problem. And, if possible, the best eyes to help him pick up any details he might have missed.
"Of course, the sheer scale you're talking about makes this whole thing rather hard to believe." Winsbury leveled a hard stare at Jack. "You're sure it was radiant energy?"
With a modest shrug, Jack replied. "It certainly looked like it. Of course, I'm not the expert on such matters…"
Snorting, Winsbury turned away. "I suppose we'll need to see it ourselves." He grumbled.
Jack once again suppressed a victory smirk.
"Winnie, are you serious?" Matt blinked at his irritable friend. "Going out as late as that could get us in some serious trouble."
"Oh c'mon, what's the worst thing they could do? Give us a few detentions or something? Besides, Jack here has been sneaking out for nearly two years now, and no one's ever caught him."
This time Jack didn't bother to hide his smirk. His late-night expeditions were a well-known secret among the boys' wing, and something of a matter of personal pride to him. He didn't exactly recall when he'd started, but two years was the generally agreed-on mark.
"W-we should invite Margo." John spoke up suddenly. "Sh-she, uh… uh… she's really good with the… release mechanisms… diagnostics…"
Matt and Jack grinned, but Winsbury curiously made no reaction. "No way. If we invite her we'll probably have to invite Janet along too."
"We wouldn't have to. It's not like they're exactly friends," put in Matt reasonably.
"No, but if she hears anything about it she'll grouse and whine and generally be a bitch about it till we let her come." Winsbury crossed his arms with a groan. "I suppose we'd better just get it over with and invite her to start out with."
Shrugging, Jack got up. "Whatever works with you guys. You sure you wanna go? It's a bit of a trip…"
"Of course we're sure!" All three replied angrily.
"Suit yourself. The next one should take place in a few weeks, so get everything together."
A/N: So let's just get this out of the way at the start. Primarily, this is going to be Gunnerkrigg Court from Jack's point of view. However, later in the series, I am planning to turn this into a Jack/Annie story. I understand why Tom chose not to pursue that route in his excellent comic, but a part of me wishes he had, and hey, if one can't use fanfiction to incorrectly interpret the text according to your whims, we'd be stuck with just doing that in scholarship, which is horribly dry and no fun at all.
For those readers who don't know what Gunnerkrigg Court is, what have you been doing with your time on the internet? Look it up. Like now.