Under 30: Part 30

They came toward me even though the Rocket suit had risen one hundred feet above the ground. Many weren’t more than shapes with legs—squares, triangles, rectangles, but those were some of the smaller creatures. The larger ones shouldn’t have seemed ominous at all, but they were big, and they shouldn’t have been flying.

But I still haven’t said what they were, have I?

I was being attacked by infrastructure—stoplights, telephone poles, city buses, trains, rails, roads, power lines, police cars, firetrucks, and more, some of it mixed together, not all of it from our time.

I don’t want to understate the mixing. Imagine a twenty foot tall stoplight with power lines sticking out of its sides flying toward you, the pale, white wires reaching toward you in showers of ghostly sparks.

That was one of the less weird ones.

Along with them were representations of atoms, equations, the double helix of DNA, creatures out of myth… I know I saw a unicorn.

Unicorns seem much less cool when they’re charging you horn first.

I froze, unable to do anything-except it wasn’t my panic. It was Evil Beatnik’s.

He understood enough about operating the Rocket suit to make me give it more fuel, but it didn’t do any good. They were gaining.

Five hundred feet above the ground, he left. I felt him go.

The unicorn, the flying shapes, the surrealistic manifestations of order were almost on me. The unicorn in particular appeared to be instants away from sticking its horn into my chest.

Then it disappeared. With it went most of the fear, and the feeling of the cold ring on my finger. I had a weird shivery feeling that might have been the unicorn flying through me. On the other hand, it might have been a reaction to the ring disappearing. Or maybe a reaction to becoming free of Evil Beatnik’s possession?

I descended, slowly rotating as I watched for any signs that Evil Beatnik might have reappeared. I didn’t see any.

As I landed, Marcus asked, “Are you okay in there?”

“I am. Evil Beatnik’s gone. I don’t know where he went, but I don’t think we’ll see him any time soon.”

* * *

A little over a week later, Haley and I went back to the park together.

I wore a black t-shirt with a wolf on it. She’d bought it for me in Montana. We sat next to each other on the hill, drinking coffee we’d picked up while walking downtown. I’d originally wanted ice cream, but so far as I could tell, there weren’t any ice cream shops in that part of the city.

You’d never have known anything happened in the park at all. Nothing played over the speakers.

There were indentations where Future Knight and the others had landed the flyer. The grass, however, was still alive so it wasn’t that obvious.

Riverside Park was far better off than the county jail. I didn’t know how much the damage cost, but it couldn’t be cheap. They were missing a huge chunk of the outside wall plus all the railings Sean ripped out.

“What happened after that?” Haley asked.

“The normal stuff,” I said. “The police came. Not that they had much to do. The gas wore off, and Julie came back with Future Knight’s goo gun to dissolve the adhesive. The Ice Twins and their group surrendered to the police. I think they’re all home now.”

“They’re home? I thought they’d be in prison, or juvenile detention, or something.”

“The FBI pulled in some psychics, and everybody reeked of supernatural influence, so…”

“Don’t you think some of them wanted to do it? It seems like Rachel and Vaughn broke his hold on them once they tried.”

“Yeah. That could be. Mr. Madness for sure. I think I remember him saying he was in it for the money, and one of the Ice Twins—White, I think—seemed way too enthusiastic for being forced.”

“That’s what I mean. I saw a video of what they did to the TV station.”

“Yeah. Well, the other piece is that their grandparents were all so… uh… notorious? Isaac Lim seemed pretty excited about getting the chance to prevent them from going wrong. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or more of them in the Stapledon program once college starts this fall.”

“I hope it’s more than you and them and Sean.”

“Wow. That would be bad, but it won’t be just us. I’m told it’s an unusually large group this year.”

She took a sip of coffee, and looked out at the river. Most of Grand Lake University lay on the other side. Voss Hall of Engineering stood closest to us. An odd combination of mirrored windows and concrete, it probably dated from the 1960’s. It didn’t take much insight to guess that I’d spend a lot of time there.

“I’m a little worried about something,” Haley said. “My senior year of high school is next year, and you’re going to be in college. I’ve known people that tried to keep on dating like that, but I don’t think it ever worked out. Do you think we can handle it?”

“I don’t see why not. It’s not like it’s a long distance relationship. I’ll be in Grand Lake too. No big deal.”

We stayed there for a little while longer before going back to HQ. It was a good day.

22 thoughts on “Under 30: Part 30”

  1. “I hope it’s more than you and and them and Sean.”

    “Wow. That would be bad, but it won’t be just us,” Nick said as he turned and motioned to the commentary section, “I’m told it’s an unusually large group this year.”

  2. Nick, have you asked what the usual group size is? …. unusually large group could be 3 if there’s usually 1 or 2.

  3. PG/Notto Mention: In this context, a normal group is less than ten. Normally all they’ve got to work with is people who had odd accidents, or people who naturally expressed their abilities (often descendants of known heroes).

    This year, they’ve got all the people they managed to find with the Cabal’s technology. Plus they know where the Cabal was intentionally running low key breeding programs. Plus they know about Red Lightning’s attempt to emulate the Cabal in Grand Lake. Plus they’ve got all the people they’d normally get… Plus, another factor I’m not mentioning until we get into it in the story.

    Added up, it means more than more than one hundred people in the program.

    Captain Mystic: I was counting on people to think that way. We’re very likely to see Evil Beatnik again–just better acclimated to the modern day.

  4. @Jim
    “better acclimated to the modern day.”
    Does that mean less of the evil, more of the beatnik? Just wondering, as if beatnik takes this route, i can see him being a symbiotic partner of Vaughn…..
    A spirit of chaos, with an understanding of when not to go too far….the result would be similar to deadlock (although, human rather than machine…) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABC_Warriors

  5. I was thinking more along the lines of fitting into a more modern expression of the same concept (Beatniks disappeared in the 60’s), and with a better understanding of modern culture.

    Or something like that. The main thing would be that he’d learn from his mistakes.

  6. Tis a Shame……would be funny if vaughn/beatnik voluntarily shared a body. (imagine the hilarious lines….)

    …besides, if he’s no loger a beatnik, what’ll he call himself?

  7. the evil beatnik is so postmodern he typed up everything you said and printed it off in wingdings and mailed it back to you. (the bedroom philosopher i’m so postmodern)

  8. Mycroft/PG: His next appearance isn’t specifically planned, but I’ve got ideas (and I’m not likely to tell people what they are since I prefer to surprise).

    Captain Mystic: Are we post-postmodern yet? I’m not sure what that’d be, but I look forward to it.

    Gavin: Wow. Hadn’t thought about Platonic philosophy specifically in reference to this, but I can see it.

  9. Hey, you almost got it “under 30.” Anyway, the typo that PG pointed out is still in the text: ” you and and them” I think is missing a word (rather than having an extra “and”).

  10. Whups. I’ve removed it now. Somehow I managed to notice the comment without noticing the repeated “and.”

    Thanks.

    With regard to “Under 30,” the idea that the title of this part is “Under 30: Part 30” amuses me. Maybe it shouldn’t…

  11. If evil B is updating his style, then he’ll end up as evil G.

    Gansta rap/urban underground is about as counterculture as you can get right now.

  12. Gangsta rap isn’t really counterculture. Such modern rap is generally based on earlier rappers who were more legitimate in actually growing up in horrible conditions. Then, they get rich and moved out, and some of them made movies like “Are we there yet” and TBS sitcoms called “Are we there yet”.

    Now, the gangster thing is just a feature of the majority of rap, which is a mainstream form of music. White suburban kids can buy fashion designed by rappers that have their brand’s symbol on it.

    Forget Plato, I’m gonna go straight up Socrates on yo ass, son!

    In the Internet Age, what is counterculture?

  13. @Geko

    Counter-culture In the internet age:

    A) Becoming a hermit, or joining a monastery. Either way, you are withdrawing from the world in a way that goes against popular culture.

    B) Holding an anti-technology stance, Neo-Luddism/Reform-Luddism and similar. Thus running contrary to popular culture by not embracing computers/modern life. Interestingly, this also makes the Amish a counterculture group……

    C) Anti-consumerism/Anti-capitalsism; protesting against the poorly made, unreliable overpriced crap that greedy companies and their maketing divisions foist upon us all, year after year. All in an attempt to make ever greater profits and prop-up the unsustainable economic growth patterns required to make capitalism work.

    D) Attempting to rationalise & hold sensible discussions about the contents of websites such as “gurochan.net”, without either resorting to profanities or vomiting over your keyboard. (Note, for the sake of your own sanity, please do not take this as a suggestion to actually visit the aforementioned site. You already did? Well, i tried to warn you……here, have a sick bag.)

  14. >>Forget Plato, I’m gonna go straight up Socrates on yo ass, son!<<

    I almost spat tea from laughing reading that statement.

  15. Considering recent events in popular uprisings, C may no longer be valid as counterculture. And thanks to the webcomic Atomic Laundromat, about a guy who runs a laundromat for supers, Captain Amish is taken. Also, try googling “monastery” and look at all the websites you find for monasteries and convents.

    Haven’t messed D, but if it is anything like Fundies Say the Darndest Things, at fstdt.com, then the only way to retain your faith in humanity is to cultivate a cruel sense of humor.

    Only counter argument I have for the luddist stuff is that the anti-scientific and anti-intellectual atmosphere in the U.S. is getting widespread. It’s not anti-tech, necessarily, but they do oppose things like cleaner energy and that tech, vaccines, technology to provide abortions, wikipedia, and probably most forms of Japanese tentacle rape website.

    Shame, that.

  16. “Considering recent events in popular uprisings, C may no longer be valid as counterculture.”

    True, but that would also mean that hippies, beatniks & CND didn’t represent counterculture, for similar reasons…..Point taken about monasteries however, although you could always (re)use “bullet-proof monk” :p

    “Haven’t messed D, but if it is anything like Fundies Say the Darndest Things, at fstdt.com……”

    Think hentai, anthrophagia and pretty much every other sick genre going, then add a liberal helping of blood, guts, death and dismbowelment. The result is Gurochan. It’s not for those with a weak stomach…….

    “the anti-scientific and anti-intellectual atmosphere in the U.S. is getting widespread.”

    No offense to the yanks in general, but given that their “founding fathers” were radical Kelvinists & Puritans (who had a very similar take on life to the one you describe…), this state affairs doesn’t really come as much of a supprise to those of us over the pond…….!

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