TBD: Part 1

We’d said our goodbyes earlier, so when my sister Rachel and I got out of Dad’s SUV at the airport, we didn’t have much to say to our parents.

I popped the hatch, grabbed my suitcase and backpack and put them next to me in the drop-off area. I handed Rachel her suitcase (her backpack hung on her back), and shut the hatch.

We moved to the side of the vehicle. Mom had her window open.

Rachel said, “I’ve got everything. Nick?”

“Me too.”

Dad smiled at us. “Enjoy your conference, and congratulations to both of you again. Full ride scholarships. That doesn’t happen to everyone.”

“Thanks, Dad. Now hurry and get out of here before airport security decides you’re terrorists.”

She glanced toward two men in blue uniforms standing next to a column.

Rachel,” Mom said.

“Relax, Mom, they’re not even looking at us. Besides, you know what I mean. Five minutes.”

Signs hung on every metal column under the canopy. All of them said, “FIVE MINUTE LIMIT.”

Mom took a breath, and managed a smile. “We’ll see you in a week. Stay safe.”

“Bye, Mom,” I said, noting that she hadn’t congratulated us, and that she seemed a little worried.

Mom likely guessed we really weren’t going to a conference, and that our scholarships were more than scholarships.

Twenty minutes later we’d picked up our boarding passes, checked our luggage, and stood at Gate A7.

We weren’t alone.

Travis, my girlfriend’s older brother sat in one of the chairs, looking as tall and muscular as usual. In the row of chairs across from him sat Daniel, and Jaclyn.

Daniel waved to me. Rachel and I walked over.

“It’s not going to be long,” Daniel said. “I think we can board as soon as everyone gets here. Anyone know where Cassie and Vaughn are?”

“No idea,” I said.

Jaclyn closed her calculus book, and said to Daniel, “You don’t already know?”

Daniel shrugged and replied telepathically, They’re not in range.

Travis said, “Look who is here,” and quickly pointed past Daniel and Jaclyn.

Sean Drucker and his friends (Jody and Dayton) played cards next to the sitting area’s far wall. It seemed a good enough excuse to ignore us.

After last year, I was happy to be ignored. The guy wasn’t much more than a bully, and now he had powers.

Hey, Daniel said, Cassie and Vaughn are here—plus a couple more.

A few minutes later, they were, and they walked up talking with Julie and Shannon, a couple of Sean’s friends—or at least they had been last year. They didn’t make any effort to talk to Sean that I saw.

Shannon started a conversation with Rachel that lasted all the way through boarding the plane.

Life stopped feeling normal (at least for me) when we boarded the plane. It wasn’t in the “Platform 9 and 3/4 sense.” We didn’t have to walk through a wall, but I felt like I had when I saw the people in the plane.

When my grandfather retired from superhero work, he kept his hand in the game by creating and fixing devices for any hero who needed help. Some of them brought their kids. Sometimes he made house calls in the League jet, and took me along.

It felt like I recognized half the plane—mostly kids from the gated communities some supers had created so they could live without a secret identity.

They recognized me too, and not just me. A lot of people seemed to know Daniel, and some knew Travis and Jaclyn. Rachel must have visited more places than I’d remembered because people knew her too.

Even Cassie, who had been hidden to a degree, knew a few people, mostly from Washington D.C.

Vaughn got recognized too, but mostly from context. He acknowledged people with a smile.

For me, however, walking down the aisle turned into a chorus of “Hey Nick, it’s been years.”

It felt like years passed before I made it to my seat, but it was okay. It felt good to be remembered, and honestly to know people still remembered Grandpa.

I ended up sitting in the middle between Rachel and Cassie. Turning around to stow my backpack in the compartment, I noticed that Sean had been part of the line behind me, and must have been waiting as people tried to talk.

He passed my row without saying anything at all, but he didn’t seem happy.

22 thoughts on “TBD: Part 1”

  1. Hah! Suck on that Sean!

    I’m trying to remember if/when Sean found out about Nick being part of the league??

    And where are the big baddies at? There’s a whole plane they could be taking out with a mega-payoff for a successful job.

  2. yeah that would be an interesting direction to take this in but the bad guys would not stand a chance what with such energy on one plane

  3. WA_side: Sean found out who Nick was after Nick blew up the visible League office downtown and led people into League HQ. There wasn’t a scene where it happened because Nick voluntarily left to be picked up by Ray and Syndicate L.

    In short, in the middle of things that were even more important just then, so no surprise you don’t remember it.

    Captain Mystic/WA: That would be an interesting direction, but also definitely one that people have prepared for.

  4. I’d figure most baddies would avoid killing off a bunch of superhero kids for the same reason most criminals avoid shooting cops – they’d be making themselves everybody’s target, and carry a nasty risk of not making it to jail alive.

    Of course there’s always the ones that just want to see the world burn, but those are seldom the crafty ones so they’re less likely to sniff out chances like that.

  5. Psycho Gecko swivels around in his desk chair to face his desk, then kicks off again in another full circle. “Wheeeeeeeee!” Stopping, he takes a moment to make sure his stomach’s in the right place and not halfway up his throat. He punches a button on his desk, causing the wall opposite him to open up and reveal a giant screen. Gecko reaches down to the lower drawers, pulling out a pair of 3D glasses and a bucket of popcorn before starting the traditional split-screen meeting.

    “Gentlemen! How good to see each and every one of you again. Mr. Abdullah, how’s your wives? Tex, how’s that lung cancer going for you? Senor Castillo, I hope you received that cuy I sent you from New Orleans. Now then, gentlemen, this is an expository meeting where I remind you all for no good reason about the plan. Mr. Abdullah, the gas prices you’ve offered the U.S. are the lowest in the world. Good, helps get Americans to drive so much more. Combined with the old ad campaigns about the car being a sign of personal liberty, and it’s the drivingest people out there, with hardly any public transportation to speak of, certainly not on a national level. You there, Tex, this hit you kinda hard, but you’re now messing with this fracking stuff. By the way, I was sorry to hear about your cousin’s shower fire. Just remember, no negative consequences to fracking. Besides, cheap natural gas also pushes down immediate incentives to find something sustainable until eventually it just becomes the way things are done, like oil. You, Senor Castillo, you are now the chief grower of corn in all of Mexico. You bravely repurposed your tequila fields, a move that’ll make me lots of money in a few years when the current crops mature and the market catches up. With your corn, I am producing a very cheap form of ethanol here. Not only does it drive up food prices for the rest of your corn, but it also makes plenty of people think that they’ve done enough looking for a sustainable fuel source. It also requires a bit of oil for the tractors, shipping to the U.S., processing, and then distribution. Thanks to Fukushima, they’re further away from a massive switch to nuclear power than ever, even though nuclear disasters have less casualties than any other energy source. Yes, the plan is coming together nicely. Oil tensions, ignorance, greenhouse gas emissions. Other villains use giant space lasers or massive, moon-based microwave emitters, but my plan to burn the world will work!”

    “Uh, sir, why do you want to burn the world?”

    “Why?”

    “Yes, why? We wonder if this is another evil whim of yours, like baconnaise, high movie theater drink prices, or that terrible, terrible genetic experimentation along the shore of New Jersey.”

    “…” Gecko rummages around in his desk, pulling out a few different files. “It’s bound to be one of these…let’s see, could be a plan to destroy the tourism industry by making the entire world into a beach. Might be a vendetta against ice cream for some reason. It might save us from all the penguin movies. Perhaps it’s a desire to see the world’s popcorn pop…ok, I don’t remember why. Does this mean you’re going to stop?”

    The three men on the monitor look at the edges of the screens like some odd, abbreviated version of the Brady Bunch, then look back out at Gecko, Mr. Abdullah speaking for the other two. “No, it’s still profitable as shit, we just wanted to know if there was a good reason besides all the money. Good day, Mr. Gecko.”

    Gecko neatly stacks up his files, then tosses them to the side. He then grabs a pen and pulls out a separate one, marked “Operation Bad Things to do to Teenage Superheros – Airplanes,” opens it up to the section marked “Supercharge full body scanners to cause mass sterilization” and puts a check mark there.

  6. “like baconnaise, high movie theater drink prices, or that terrible, terrible genetic experimentation along the shore of New Jersey.”

    ” No, it’s still profitable as shit, we just wanted to know if there was a good reason besides all the money. Good day, Mr. Gecko.”

    GECKO FOR THE WIN!!!

    (RIP Whitney)

  7. A Thought occurred to mejust now. What happens if someone dies? I mean does anyone in the League have a will? Obviously It’ll default to the next of kin if they don’t but I think it’d be bad if Nicks dad inherited the HQ or if one of Haley’s and Travis’ Relative suddenly picked up a supercar. Masybe they’ll have a will writing session as part of the scholarship plan.

  8. It was a way too long response to Mazzon and his assumption that people wanting the world to burn aren’t crafty, especially since that was The Joker’s motivation in Dark Knight, and I’m a huge fan of The Joker Blogs.

  9. @Fishface

    I personally imagine few superheroes would want a will that early on in case they die and then come back at a later time. Can you imagine Superman coming back to find Lois Lane had painted the Fortress of Solitude pink and listed it on Craigslist?

    Aside from that, who would they leave that stuff to? There’s only so many people you can trust with millions of dollars, a secret base, advanced alien technology, and a list of contacts in the FBI and superhero community. Personally, it would be kinda cool for once to see a hero’s dad take over for the teen hero when he dies, for no other reason than I don’t think it’s been done.

    But if it’s really such a sore matter, I volunteer to be the beneficiary of the money.

  10. PG: I’m suddenly imagining what it would be like if in Ultimate Spider-man, they’d replaced Peter Parker with Aunt May instead of Miles Morales.

    An aside: Ultimate Spider-man (with Miles) is actually really good.

    Bill/PG: Wait, baconnaise is real?

    Fishface: They’ve actually got something in place for that. It’s only been mentioned briefly, but the League has a board, and Daniel’s dad (a lawyer) is on it. Succession planning has definitely been thought through.

    JN; Me too.

    Mazzon: That makes a lot of sense. Of course there are other reasons that will become more obvious in the next bit.

  11. So, am I the only one wondering whether the name of the arc is “To Be Determined” or if the name of the arc is just to be determined? o_O

  12. And here I just assumed TBD was a clever title since they were heading into a bigger unknown than they had yet faced – and going there without the league jet!

    So does Haley get first dibs on the jet and the car while both her big brother and Nick are gone? 🙂

    Oh and did they fly out of O’hare, Midway or Michiana Regional? (Hey wait, when did they change it to South Bend Airport?)

  13. As I recall, one of the requirements of kosher foods is no mixing of meat/eggs and dairy products so the idea of kosher baconnaise is really scary for what it DOESN’T have in it.

    It certainly looks like Nick’s apparent popularity among the Supers Set is rankling to Sean. Nick really needs to work on the suits protection against EMP whether he and Sean eventually become friends or outright enemies.

  14. Notto: They flew out of Grand Lake’s airport which (if I ever have reason to get into detail about it) will be suspiciously similar to Grand Rapids, Michigan’s “Gerald R. Ford International Airport.”

    As for Haley, if nothing else, no one will be there to stop her from using whatever she wants, I guess.

    Psychlone Ranger: Bacon cologne. People (and the products they’ll buy) never cease to amaze me.

  15. Jim,
    Sean: not nearly as much of an idiot if you give him a bit of time alone to think.
    You know, kinda like Nick gave Chris, who was also upset at first?

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