Decisions: Part 3

Daniel and I spent the rest of the night playing video games on the big screen. Even if the novelty had long since worn off, it beat the TV my family had at home by a long shot.

It felt good.

After a week that included being chased, attacked in my own bed, and ending a second prom night in violence, Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk seemed like a simple, relaxing way to finish off the week. It was made more relaxing by sending Isaac Lim an email about the original Power’s death instead of calling him.

It couldn’t last.

On Sunday afternoon, Travis called everybody in the League, asking people to meet at HQ on Sunday night to talk. So that meant I had to drop the book I’d been reading (David Brin’s Kiln People), and finish my homework during the afternoon, because I wouldn’t get the chance that night.

The meeting officially started at 8:00 PM. I arrived early (around 7:15 PM) to find that Travis was already there, sitting at one of the consoles at the main table, and printing something out.

Haley sat at the table too, but she’d pushed her chair away from it, and was looking in my direction as the elevator door opened.

She didn’t waste an instant before getting up.

We met halfway across the room, next to a big pile of cardboard boxes. One of these days we’d have to declutter the room and move them.

“Travis came early so I got stuck coming with him.”

“Why is he here now?”

“He’s been doing research on the gang, and some other things. He wanted to print stuff out so we all have copies.”

I looked over at him. He looked up and gave me a wave.

Haley followed my gaze, then turned back to me. “I’ve already been sitting here for an hour.”

“Ugh.”

“Why are you here early?”

“I don’t know. I thought I’d check email. Maybe play video games. I guess I didn’t have anything better to do.”

Instead of joining Travis, we went into the lab, sat on stools next to one of the work tables, and talked until everyone else arrived forty minutes later.

Vaughn came down the elevator last. The door opened, and Travis, who had just been saying, “Let’s get started–” stopped. Vaughn crossed the room, and sat down between Marcus and Rachel. Then he pulled two liters of Coke, Sunkist, and Mountain Dew out of a grocery bag.

“I brought pop. Do we have cups?”

Getting them took another couple minutes.

When he’d gotten back from the kitchen, and everybody had something to drink, Travis started again.

“We’ve all just had an unbelievable week. We took on two different groups, and we won. If it weren’t for power juice showing up all over the country either one of them would have made national headlines. I’d say the training we’ve been getting is paying off. Unfortunately that’s not the end of it. The gang’s big enough that we know we didn’t catch them all, and you all got the email Nick sent. If we want to take down that gang, and prepare to keep the Executioner away from ourselves, and our families, we’re going to have to take this to the next level.

“We’re going to have to professionalize this group, elect some leadership, and start planning to handle it.”

Vaughn took a drink from his cup, and said, “So what are you running for, Travis? President?”

“I’m not running for anything, but we’re going to have to put leadership in place. The old League had a chain of command. We’ll need one too. That’s why I called this meeting.”

Jaclyn nodded. “I agree. We can’t let this just keep on going like it is, but do you have a plan? Or are you just bringing the subject up?”

“Yeah. I took a look at the structure of the Defenders and a few other groups and I thought we could choose one we liked. You’ve got the paper in front of you.”

“Unnecessary,” Daniel said. “We’ve got all that stuff taken care of.”

Travis stared at him. “When did that happen?”

“Back in the 1950’s. The old League set up a financial and governing structure. We’ve got a non-profit foundation that handles money for the League, including supplying money for keeping up the vehicles and HQ. There’s also a for-profit corporation that handles licensing the likenesses of League members for toys, and stuff like that. You’ve seen the action figures in stores, right?”

Travis sat there with his mouth hanging a little bit open. “I did, but since they were all our grandparents, I guessed it had to be an old agreement. I didn’t know we still had people cutting deals for us. Why didn’t you tell anybody?”

“I knew about the foundation part.” I said. “Every time I buy anything for this place, I’ve got to get the money from Daniel’s dad.”

“Dad’s responsible for the foundation.” Daniel said. “Once we all hit 18, we’re responsible. Marcus and Haley are both sixteen, right? So that’s two years from now.”

“Unless your younger brother and sister join,” I said. “Then it’s something like six or eight more years?”

“Right, but we’re not going to let them,” Daniel said. “If we wait until all of us are 18, we can set our own rules for underage members.”

“Wait,” Cassie said, “we get total control once everyone turns 18? Why don’t we just kick the youngest members out? Then we can take control and bring them back in right away.”

Next to me, Haley said, “Hey…”

Rachel said, “Cassie, are you even 18 yet?”

Daniel started off like he didn’t hear either of them. “I don’t think it’s worded like that. First of all, we don’t get total control. We get a structure we can vote to change, and we also get an organizational board. My dad’s on the board, so I don’t think we can game the system.”

“It was worth a shot,” Vaughn said.

“Anyway,” Daniel said, “my point was that all we really have to decide is who our field commander or commanders are. The rest of it’s out of our hands for now.”

Travis sat back in his chair. “So again, why didn’t anybody tell us this before?”

Daniel shrugged. “I don’t know. My dad was supposed to, but he’s been really busy this year.”

“Okay,” Travis said, “who wants to be a field commander?”

Cassie held up her hand. “Me.”

At just about the same time, Jaclyn said, “I’m interested.”

Vaughn looked thoughtful. “It might be cool.”

Marcus stopped drawing, put down his notepad, and said, “So is there going to be one field commander or more?”

“I think we’ve got to decide that,” Travis said. “But, I want to be in the running either way.”

18 thoughts on “Decisions: Part 3”

  1. Personally, I think Cassie, Travis or Marcus would really suck because they’d be in close and not have any real idea of whats going on. Of the four volunteers, I think Vaughn is the only one who could actually work at enough of a distance to see the whole battlefield and change plans on the fly.

    But then again they really ought to get other people to propose commanders rather than get volunteers.

    I foresee someone like Cassie being a commander and completely messing it up, and then Nick needing to take over and fix everything. With Travis complaining that if he was commander it wouldn’t have gone wrong.

  2. Interesting lineup of candidates. The impression I’ve gotten of Cassie is something of a bravo, perhaps too rash to make a good leader yet.
    Travis has shown good tactical thinking with using his powers, but it seems he feels he’s got something to prove because of his grandfather and his own mistakes in the past.
    Jaclyn seems to have a good, cool head on her shoulders and her formidable toughness makes her hard to take out. The only issue I see with her is conflicting priorities with schoolwork, which she apparently takes very seriously.

  3. I’m going with Jaclyn, Rachel, Daniel and Nick, to be honest.

    Mazzon’s reasons for Jaclyn hold true. AS for Rachel, well Rachel’s just kick-ass scary. And pretty much untouchable.

    Nick’s a given. With a tactical brain like that, and what he’s done with Three in the past, we can’t really go wrong with him. But I’ve a feeling he won’t be elected, not this time around, at least.

    And Daniel … well Daniel’s just plain scary too. (And besides, he’s practically the communications backbone of the whole group, when they’re in on the field.)

  4. Bottom line, as Eli points out, Nick is the only one who’s actually had battle experience commanding a team.

    In Three, he literally got thrown into the situation, and took over as if he’d been with them from the start.

    It’s Nick or nothing.

    Frankly, I’m galled the others think they actually have what it takes. I mean, Cassie, Travis, and Vaughn combined haven’t logged as many super-fights as Nick.

  5. Who leads should make for some interesting friction before they all settle in. People tend not to take well to being given orders by members of their peer group after all.

    I’d have to agree with Mazzon that were it not for her focus being elsewhere Jaclyn would make an interesting leader, being able to react quickly is after all a very desirable trait in a leader.

  6. The thing I like is how very “teenager” their responses are. First, to the possibility of running the Legion’s organization at the age of 18, and then with the chance at being a leader.

    The haphazard, “might be cool” discussion is very realistic. I don’t think any of them (beyond Nick and Daniel) have any idea of the responsibilities involved, nor the tactics.

    Nick has the mind for it. Unfortunately, I don’t think he has the social-personality to take command. That’s why earlier I suggested he’d be a great tactician, a headquarters leader, who lets someone else lead in the field. He can be the brains — he’s not necessarily the heart.

    Daniel would make a good candidate — he comes across as mature as Nick, and understands super teams as well as anyone could, given who his father is. Plus, being telepathic, he could link the team in battle and know where everyone is/what everyone is doing.

    The others fight like solo heroes, even in battle together, and that’s why they need the training with Lee, to become a team.

    Robert Heinlein once wrote (the Moon is a Harsh Mistress) that in any group the leader should be self-evident, or it’s the wrong group. No one in the Legion is Superman/Captain America — the natural leader everyone respects for their vision and ability.

    That doesn’t mean it’s the wrong group — it means plenty of opportunity for stories! Competition over leadership, the development of teamwork, maturation of characters…

    This is going to be fun.

  7. K, AlterAlias: I don’t think you’ve commented before. Thanks for reading.

    Gavin: Thanks for saying so. I’m glad they feel like teenagers to you. I think about the character personality more than the age (though age is in there), so I’m always relieved that actions fit.

    All: I’m relieved people are into this as much as they seem to be. A story about managing a superhero team strikes me as a harder sell than one where the team fights somebody.

  8. Jim — I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I am regularly impressed by the way you pack a lot of information into sparse details.

    With Nick as a somewhat inward looking tech wizard for your narrator, you still manage to capture the personalities of the other characters without making Nick suddenly a personality-expert. He barely notices other people, yet still describes them to a T in your “less is more” writing style.

    I feel certain that if you wrote chapters from Hayley or Vaughn’s perspective, the narrative voice would be totally different and people would be seen with more detail — but more detail doesn’t necessarily mean with the precision of Nick’s narrative.

    I think this is why he’d be great for tactics — he’s all about precision and analysis. I was reading about the Canadian winter Olympics ski team, and the way they’re using computers to analyze performance and angles, and using GPS on mountains to see how best to run a course. That strikes me as something Nick would do — he’s a great analyst.

    But while he might make a good coach/analyst, that’s not the same as being the captain of the team on the field. A quarterback is different than a coach, and both have a role.

    And I like that I get perspectives like that from such a clean writing style. I’m still not sure how you get so much psychology across with so few words.

  9. Gavin: It would totally different from Vaughn or Haley’s perspective (at least if I did it right), possibly to the point of almost being a different story.

    With Haley, I think we’d see more of her relationship with Nick, and her own mixed feelings about her abilities.

    With Vaughn, personal and public redemption would become a major theme — not to mention the temptations of his past.

    And yes, they’d definitely be more people focused. I wonder if I could write either of them as successfully?

    If I do manage to suggest personalities well, it’s largely indirect. Characters do things, but other characters than Nick sometimes observe and talk about their actions. Even when they’re not quite right about motivation, it reveals character (both theirs and the person talked about).

  10. I think it would be an interesting exercise even just for you as a writer (and if the audience gets to see it, BONUS) to sit down and do a few chapters from another character’s perspective.

    It would be really interesting to see if something Nick interpreted one way was actually different. We as readers sympathize with Nick as the narrator, and root for him. But that’s because we understand his perspective. Another might be just as interesting and valid. Teenagers especially are prone to reading things wrong in a self-involved way.

    I like how you show the reader character, and don’t “tell.” I know I struggle with that from time to time.

  11. Hey Joel!

    If you, posting less than once a month, fit the category, then surely Jim’s work would fit.

    Yeah, that’s right. I’m talkin’ to you, Mr. Flyover! I’m callin’ you out to write more! 😛

    (Says the one who keeps thinking about starting a fiction blog, but never does.)

    Hg

    (And, hey, did you ever noticed that “Flyover City”, with one easily-mistyped character added, becomes “Flylover City”? Yeah, I’m sure you did, but it’s so funny to me I just had to share it anyway. Heh.)

  12. Joel: Thanks for letting me know. I’ve added Legion to it. Weird that E-fiction Book Club has ended though. Also, I’m looking forward to your next chapter.

    Gavin: I’ve been thinking of writing things from other members of the League for a while now. Looks like you’re adding one more push in that direction.

    As for showing as opposed to telling, from what I’ve seen in your writing, you do a lot more showing. I’ve never felt bogged down by information in your stories as I sometimes have in things that include a lot of telling.

  13. Jim — I appreciate the compliment but there are sections of No Man an Island that aren’t as polished as others. I’m thinking specifically of the Companions, when the main characters were kids, and also The Opening, when Raphael does his big intro/flashback. But then again, those were written ten years ago. The more recent stuff is cleaner.

    With Diggory, I like to think that I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I’ve given him a fairly direct narrative style. I think he and Nick would get along.

  14. Gavin: I was mostly thinking of Diggory (which I’ve read much more recently).

    Bill: I found your comment the spam section of my blog somehow. Not sure why. Anyway, my apologies for not having it show up sooner.

    On the bright side, you’re still better off than Hydrargentium. His comments used to end up in the spam every single time.

  15. Yeah, but eventually I got around to writing a bot that flooded the spam filter server with positive reinforcements about me, along with threats of a watery demise, and it got the picture….

    Hg

Leave a Reply