Decisions: Part 4

“Here’s a thought,” Daniel said. “Does anybody want to nominate anybody else?”

“Looking for a nomination?” Vaughn asked.

Daniel shook his head. “No. I’m willing to do communications, but keeping track of what people are doing, using prescience to sense future attacks, blocking them with telekinesis, attacking people, passing messages, and coming up with plans all at the same time sounds overwhelming. For me, just being in a crowd can be bad.”

“I think Nick could do a good job,” Haley said.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“I bet you’ve been in more action than anybody else.”

Marcus looked around the table. “Jaclyn and Travis would both do a good job. He’s been manager when I’ve been working, and he keeps his head on straight. It’s not combat, but it’s busy. And Jaclyn’s smart and thinks faster than any of us.”

Rachel took a breath, somehow managing to get everybody’s attention just as she started to talk.

“I don’t want to offend anybody,” Rachel began, “because I’ve only been part of this since I got home, but I’m not ready to nominate anybody. I don’t know what a good field commander would be like, and I don’t want to follow somebody just because they won a popularity contest.”

Travis shook his head. “It’s not a popularity contest. We need to get organized, or we won’t get anywhere. We’ve gotten lucky so far, but we’ve got real enemies now. We’ve got to keep up with them, or we’ll lose.”

Rachel looked like she wanted to reply, but Vaughn started in. “Who led the original League? Why can’t we copy them?”

“It changed a lot,” Daniel said. “I think they rotated it around.”

“During the war,” Cassie said, “my dad led the team, but he got busted down in rank near the end.”

My grandfather had ended up the ranking officer, but he still had Captain Commando leading the actual missions. He told me he liked the planning more.

“The way they did it doesn’t matter now,” Jaclyn said. “The army would barely admit my grandfather was on the team at the beginning of the war.”

“Exactly,” Travis said. “We need to figure out what works for us.”

Daniel raised his hand and gave a little wave. “There are some of us who want to, and some of us who don’t, but none of us are hugely experienced. I think that everybody ought to get a chance whether they want it or not.”

I looked at him. “Why?”

“Because the people who don’t want to could turn out to be good at it. Besides, what happens if all the people who want to command get knocked out? Who takes charge then?”

Haley nodded. “We’d train first, right? I’d like to try it, but I wouldn’t want to take over for the first time during a real fight.”

Travis’ expression looked a little stiff. “I’d hoped to get this settled tonight.”

Rachel shook her head. “Even plays have tryouts, Travis.”

We left it there. The meeting didn’t end, of course, because we still had to discuss the Executioner and the gang, but that didn’t end up being quite as controversial. We divided into groups. Marcus, Haley, Cassie, and I were assigned to come up with ideas for how to deal with the Executioner if the team got out of jail. Everyone else began to work on the question of how to deal with the gang.

* * *

Two hours later, the meeting had ended, most people had left, and I talked with Daniel and Haley. By comparison to having the whole team with us, HQ felt strangely empty.

Haley and I sat next to each other on the main table in the middle of the room.

“Well, I guess we’re seeing the main problem as protecting our parents, but also even knowing when they show up and start poking around. I’m likely to end up bugging nearly everywhere.”

“And we can’t be sure that they won’t have a way to detect bugs, so maybe we’ll have to get them somewhere else anyway,” Haley said. “The FBI watched them last time.”

Daniel nodded. “I’m not going to be much help. They brought clairvoyant blocking devices last time around. Who knows what they’ll bring if they’re actually after us?”

“Yeah.” I thought about that for a second. It wasn’t a thought I cared to follow very far. “What are people thinking about the gang?”

Daniel shrugged. “Vaughn thinks that he saw something about them in his grandfather’s books. He’s thinking that since his grandfather stole so many of the Cabal’s methods, he might be able to find something in the cave under Hardwick House. Aside from that, I think I’m going to be telepathically spying on them. Once we find out who their leadership is, we’ll go after it, I guess.”

Haley looked up at him. “You don’t sound like you like it very much.”

“I don’t think it’s a bad plan. I’m just tired from being in the middle of a room full of emotional people. People talk and they vote and they act nice, but underneath they’re churning. I just can’t stand it after a while. Anyway, I think I’m going.”

After he left, Haley and I walked toward the hangar and got into Night Wolf’s car. I switched the color to green, started it, and drove out the exit in the park. The door slid closed behind us, looking just like any other chunk of rock in the hill.

I took us slowly up the park rangers’ access road.

“You didn’t have to nominate me,” I said. “I don’t need to lead the team.”

She turned away from the windshield to look at me. “I think you could be good at it.”

“Why?”

“You’ve been doing it more than any of us. Well, except for Daniel. His dad took him along a lot.”

“Yeah.”

I stopped the car where the rangers’ road met the street and watched for cars — well, for headlights. The cars themselves weren’t visible until they got close.

“It didn’t bother you, did it?”

“What?” I stopped looking at the road to look at her. “No. I just don’t really think of myself as a leader.”

“It’s funny how different you are from Travis. He goes directly for things like that. School council, captain of the football team, quarterback… All of it.”

“Is he good at it?”

“I don’t know. The football team won a lot when he was on it, but it can’t just be because of him.”

25 thoughts on “Decisions: Part 4”

  1. “…he might be able to fight something in the cave under Hardwick House.”

    I think that “fight” should be “find” here. It makes a bit more sense.

  2. Well now, Nick is not happy about being the leader. Though he has been acting leader for a good while now, but being the boss is different than just getting things done.

  3. Well, how about “to” instead of “do” in your last message? ๐Ÿ˜›

    That’s the one thing that bugs me about the comments system here (which is typical of comment systems), that there’s no “preview message” feature. It makes it hard to review your entire message before posting. I use the preview feature a lot in forums and stuff. I get bugged when I post with a typo, and can’t fix it. Bleah! ๐Ÿ˜›

    Hg

  4. Yeah. That’s something that kind of stinks when you don’t do some sort of membership based site or do straight WordPress.

    I could probably find a good plugin that allows previews though.

    Oh, and thanks to my ultimate power over the site, I have now fixed that “to.” There’s some benefit in being the administrator…

    Daymon: Nick’s been a leader in the unorganized “everyone has to respond to stuff you’ve done” sense, but yeah, things get weirder when it gets official.

  5. Jim,

    Did you set it up on purpose that it’s obvious to all the readers that Nick is the sole good choice for Captain, being as he’s actually DONE it; but yet it’s not so obvious to everyone else, especially Nick himself??

  6. Not really.

    The way I plot things is a mixture of big picture, long and short term things that I know will happen, and character driven events that I haven’t entirely shaped in my head — deliberately. I really don’t like it when characters’ personalities get toned down to move the plot forward.

    This is a great example of things that wouldn’t happen without these particular characters being in the mix.

    I’d say more, but it would be easy to blow future events…

  7. Wouldn’t know about ‘all the readers,’ Bill. At least I haven’t gotten the impression that Nick’s the only choice in any particular way, he may have a bit of experience but it’s not really that much.

    And just to ward off the easy riposte, yeah I do read the story and not just post here.

  8. The thing I like is that it’s not obvious that Nick should be the leader at all. It’s told from his perspective, and his general “I don’t need to be in charge” lack of interest in leading. Would he be good at it? He’s smart and able, but again, not a leader-type.

    He might just follow his grandfather’s example and do tactics and planning, and avoid the field commander position.

    The best responses were from Daniel and Rachel, thinking ability should be proven more than popularity, and giving everyone a chance.

    I think we haven’t seen enough of some characters to judge their abilities, Cassie and Jaclyn in particular might be good in the field.

  9. Well, we already know that Nick thinks that Cassie tends to act before she thinks (from the arc about the escaped juicers in a convenience store).

    Now, weighing in on the whole leadership thing, being given the official leadership role means three things:

    1. The leader is ultimately responsible for all decisions (including those that lead to disaster).

    2. Being a leader ALWAYS sets a person apart from the rest of the team in some way.

    3. In order for there to be a leader, there must be people willing to follow the leader. Up until now, everyone on the team has been “happy” because they’ve all felt they were leading at least a little bit (leadership by consensus). Will all or even any of the team members really respond properly when their chosen leader just tells them to do something?

    Knowing these things, is there anyone who can really handle #1 and #2, and who can satisfy #3?

    Now, on a more practical level, I think that, in the short term, the chosen leader will be someone who wants to be leader. In other words, Travis or Vaughn, or maybe Jaclyn. In the longer run, if they move to a team leader/field leader model, then I’m thinking Travis will end up as field leader, and Nick will end up as team leader. Travis in the field, because he really does have experience like that (as QB, etc.), and because people probably will listen to him. Nick overall, mostly because he’s who the Feds already deal with, and because he’s good with details.

    * clink-clink *

    Hg

  10. I like the rotating leader idea because it will give more characters a chance in the limelight (some aren’t as developed as others) and it’s realistic. The Avengers did that until Captain America came along, too.

    And again, we empathize with Nick because he’s the narrator. If the story followed Vaughn from the beginning, we’d probably be rooting for the troubled outsider to earn the chance to lead the team, and redeem his family history. Nick might even come across as this brainy douche who everyone listens to because he owns headquarters, but really has no people skills so why do we follow his lead all the time?

    I’m not saying that’s really Nick, but it might be Nick in Vaughn’s world — teenagers are self-absorbed. Perspective is everything and we all love Nick. He’s the protagonist.

  11. Hey Mazzon. I hear where you’re coming from, but I hope I’ve demonstrated that I would never automatically question another Legionnaire’s dedication to the story simply because they have another opinion.

    Your point, in addition to the others posted shows me that a) not everyone sees it as I do and b) they have good reason for seeing that way.

    And that’s really cool. After all, disagreement is the thing that fosters strong fan reaction.

  12. My mind’s a hummin’ with all these possiblities.

    @G.S. Williams: A very astute observation. If Jim had chosen to tell the story from Vaughn’s point of view, I can see Nick being characterized EXACTLY as you present him. …Question, are you a fiction writer as well??

    @Hydrargentium: More excellent observations as usual. But seriously, VAUGHN??? I can’t even see the other characters taking him seriously as a level-headed commander, not to mention his unfortunate past (remember, he’s only a few episodes removed from being a chronic gambler who broke into the HQ to steal his powers…).

    Also, I must say, I don’t like Travis. At all. He seems to be the stereotypical jock jerkass, who thinks that a few touchdowns make him the embodiment of leadership itself.

    Got news for ole’ Travis, throwing a 90-yard TD ain’t the same as taking on a bunch of super assassins who’ve knocked off far more impressive supers than him.

    And…..WHEN has he actually lead anything?? What battle did he step up and take charge?? Now compare that the number of times Nick has gone toe-to-toe and come out on top. Travis really needs to sit down and SHUT UP.

  13. Bill — as well as being a big fan of Jim’s work, yes, I do write fiction. Clicking my name should be a link, but I’ll add one just in case:

    http://gavinwilliams.digitalnovelists.com

    There’s the Samaritan Project, a superheroic fictional story. Like Jim, I grew up with superheroes. Instead of the teenage team variety, it’s a government super-hero team and I need to start updating it again, so having new readers would be nice. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    The one Jim has been following (thanks Jim!) is The Surprising Life and Death of Diggory Franklin, a sci-fi story where the main character ends up involved with time travellers after a normal life like ours — so it’s a big surprise to him.

    My finished novel is No Man an Island and I still can’t summarize it well. Apocalyptic war between angels, humans and demons meets Donnie Darko/psychologial mystery thriller/ coming of age story.

  14. On the team/leader discussion:

    I went through the cast list and looked at abilities and characters, and thought about skills in battle as well as personalities, to give them the roles I think suit them best.

    (a fun little exercise, though I want to see what Jim does with this story arc)

    Nick — The Rocket. The team’s brain. Designs gadgets, powered flying armour, level-headed. Excellent for planning operations. Reluctant leader, lacks social interest. Rating: A

    Cassie — Captain Commando. Strong, fast, almost invulnerable. Excellent for up-close combat. More socially oriented, but less responsible. Rating: A-

    Jaclyn — Accelerando. The legs. Super fast, tough, smart. The winger to Commando’s centre (I like hockey). Ambitious, but so far school is more important than the team. Rating: B+

    Haley — Night Cat? The scrapper, can throw cars, has paralysis-toxin claws and super-agility. Worries about hurting people, younger member of the team. Rating: B-

    Vaughn — Storm King. Flight, weather control powers, could observe and fight as well. A history of screw-ups gives him something to prove, but also reflects immaturity. Rating: B

    Daniel — The Mystic. Telepath, telekinetic. The communications expert, Daniel might be the best choice for a field leader because of speed of communication and awareness, however, he himself feels overwhelmed by crowds of people. Rating: A-

    Travis — Seriously, what’s his code name? Jim, the cast page needs updating. Is he the new Night Wolf? Rating: C+ because he wants to lead but seriously, what has he done?

    Marcus — the Shift? Am I mixing him up with Travis? Shapeshifting powers can come in handy, require creativity. But he’s not very vocal. Rating: C

    Overall, the team is strong on physical combatants.(Accelerando, Captain Commando, the original Night Wolf’s grandkids.) Only Nick, Vaughn and Daniel really have any long-range power.

    So, hockey-fan analysis: Nick is good on defense — the team’s Bobby Orr. The most talented and experienced when it comes to fights, able to generate offense but also get back from the thick of things and see what’s going on. MVP.

    But, you still need a centre to lead the scrum — I’m thinking Captain Commando needs to grow up, or one of the Night Wolf kids needs to show some skill. Otherwise, these hand-to-hand fighters are forwards, along with Accelerando.

    Vaughn on defense, with some maturing he’d be a real asset. Daniel is the goalie, sees everything and lets the others know — central to team, but no leadership role, taking the pressure off him so he can see ahead.

    What every team wants is a Wayne Gretzky — an obvious leader who also has talent to spare. But not everyone can be Superman. I’d settle for a Mark Messier or Wendell Clark, someone who puts the team ahead of himself and inspires. But there needs to be more character development for that.

  15. For what it’s worth, I’ve now added all the current members of the League to the cast page (including Rachel) and made people’s codenames more obvious.

  16. @G.S. Williams, I like your hockey analogy. But I see Nick as being more like Brian Leetch. Mark Messier was the heart of that Rangers team.

    But….once Messier retired, Leetch took over as team Captain.

    I think another good analogue would be the Yankees and Derek Jeter. Like the Yankees, the Legion has enough raw talent to come out on top, even when their A game is more like a C.

    Vaughn is a true Alex Rodriguez, troubled past, bone-head moves, and loads of talent.

    Nick is Jeter. He may not hit 40 runs a year, but he’ll give you a ton of RBI’s and (going back to the Orr comparison) his defense is tight.

    Most important, he is a strong locker room presence. Nick doesn’t even want to lead, and yet his command presence is such he took over Three in the middle of a fight and lead them to victory over Syndicate L.

    Travis is just a Terrell Owens-like douche who thinks WAY too much of himself.

  17. I think it’s interesting how much commentary this has raised — it’s been fun.

    I’m really looking forward to seeing what Jim does with this story arc, given how much we’re all debating and speculating.

    The thing I have to remind myself of is that these aren’t just superheroes, they’re teenagers. And teenagers are swayed by emotion. In the long run, Nick being a “doer” and being very capable will likely lead to him stepping in and leading.

    But before that happens, I see it as more likely that there’s a lot of teenage drama and conflict. Teens in general are known for making rash decisions, and adding superpowers to the mix isn’t likely to change that.

  18. He’s a natural leader. Those who want to lead are unfit for it, but those who are fit don’t want to.

    -Zeta

  19. Depending on how much thought acceleration Jaclyn gets she could be the overwhelmingly best choice.
    Though really, Daniel should refrain from combat and lead, his abilities would make he a supernaturally good leader

  20. Zeta,
    the corollary to that is: true leaders let other people come up with plans, half of the time, passing off a good deal of thinking to focus on actual decisionmaking.

    Vaughn’s area affect powerset works well for leader. But he’s a poor PR choice, even if he’s one of the only true extroverts in the group. He’s actually more of the Heart than a Lancer, even if his background points otherwise.

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