A Kind of Small Crow: Part 1

As always, Jefferson Street was a zoo. It probably had the most fast food restaurants and chain stores of any street in the city. At ten or eleven at night, the traffic became bearable—it wasn’t bumper to bumper anymore.

I brought the van to a stop on the other side of the road from the one with Lakeside Lounge–four lanes worth of cars and semi-trucks away.

We were next to a Subway, a shoe store, and Grand Lake Marina Supplies. That last store took up most of the space. Even though the store had closed, the lights were still on, and I could look in at speed boats, engines, water-skis and other gear.

Across the street, Lakeside Lounge took up most of the strip mall. The only store next to it was something called “Dan’s Fan City.”

Dimly lit, I couldn’t see much in there, but I could see fans.

If I remembered what Haley said correctly, Davis had gone into the back.

The screen on the dashboard showed Travis and Haley parked on the far end of the Lakeside Lounge’s parking lot. The “Wolfmobile” blended in with all the other cars. Even knowing where it was, I couldn’t see it.

Meanwhile, a group of people stood next to the entrance of the building, the ends of their cigarettes glowing in the dark.

The screen showed Cassie as being five minutes away (assuming she didn’t drive her motorcycle through yards and parking lots), and Marcus as roughly the same—he flew slower, but straight.

Over the communicator, Haley said, “So why are you driving the van?”

“Courtney heard both ends of our conversation, and figured out who I was. I couldn’t leave her there after that, so I brought her along.”

Haley said, “Oh, no…”

Simultaneously Travis said, “Again? Wasn’t Chris enough? Seriously, you have got to stop telling people without an okay from the rest of us.”

“Look,” I said, and I might have sounded a little irritated, “I didn’t tell her, she had enhanced hearing. She heard Haley talking.”

Courtney cringed. “I am so sorry. I wasn’t trying to find out. I modified my ears so I could hear better, but all I wanted was warning if people were sneaking up on me.”

Travis groaned. “You’re letting her listen in?”

“What was I supposed to do? Tie her up, and stuff her in the back of the van?”

The sound of wind and Vaughn’s voice came over the speaker. “That’d be kind of kinky.”

Oh great, Haley had called us on the League’s common frequency. Everyone in the group could listen in if they wanted to.

Marcus’ voice came over the speakers along with the flap of his wings. “You know what’s crazy? The guy who created Wonder Woman was way into bondage, and that’s why Wonder Woman got tied up all the time in the beginning. Bizarre, right?”

With a muffled growl and series of thumping noises, Cassie’s motorcycle overrode all other noise. “I missed half of that. Why are we talking about bondage now?”

Almost at the same time, Haley, Courtney, and I gave three variations on, “We’re not.” Meanwhile Marcus began, “Well, you know Wonder Woman—”

“Never mind,” Cassie said. “Did you send the roachbots in yet?”

“No,” I said, but Haley interrupted me, “A few. That’s how we followed him. I haven’t found him again yet. They’re just crawling through the vents right now.”

“So we wait till they find him?” Cassie asked. “Then what?”

“We call the Feds,” I said. “If it’s the Nine, and it is, that’s what we’re supposed to do.”

Travis started talking practically the instant I stopped. “No. We should take out their power impregnator like we did with the Cabal.”

Courtney gave me a confused look.

At the same time, I said, “No. We barely survived that, and we’re not supposed to.”

“C’mon Rocket,” Travis said, “do you think we’ve got a chance of running into anything even close to the Cabal’s people and Ray’s team at once?”

“Famous last words,” Vaughn said.

Travis’ response sounded annoyed to me. “What do you mean by that?”

“Nothing,” Vaughn said. “You know what I mean. Whenever people say something like that, it’s always worse.”

“We don’t live in a horror movie,” Travis muttered.

“Yeah,” I said, “but the Nine are tough, and they’ve fought us twice now. Who knows what they’ve picked up?”

“Not twice,” Travis said. “The first time was Night Cat plus Sydney and Camille.”

I’d said it because it sounded good, but then I thought about it. “Did you all use League communicators?”

We’d let Justice Fist borrow them last spring.

Haley stretched out her answer into two syllables, “YEEees?”

“That’s one thing they might catch,” I said.

17 thoughts on “A Kind of Small Crow: Part 1”

  1. How to get civilians to respect you as super-heroes: talk about bondage on your super communication devices.

  2. Dun Dun DUUUN! Your communicators have been tapped!
    I was wondering how secure the league communications were since a lot of that techs must be fairly old. It’d have to be routed through the base mainframe and that’s ancient.

  3. One too many “across the street[s]”: Across the street, Lakeside Lounge took up most of the strip mall across the street.

  4. Travis’ response sounded annoyed to me. “What do mean by that?” Should read: Travis’ response sounded annoyed to me. “What do you mean by that?”

  5. Nick needs to get on the ball with his upgrades. It seems like the communicators need a serious upgrade from an electronic stand point (to prevent hacking–see the flame virus) and eavesdropping (see Courtney). Let us not forget about the van, rocket suit, etc.

    I think that it will be interesting to see what happens with Courtney. She broke up with her ex because she did not want to be involved with the super heroing. Now she is with her friends, all super heroes, and will shortly be involved in a super hero fight that she is more than partly responsible for causing. Maybe she can modify her psyche as well as her body.

  6. So many upgrades, so little time. Nick hasn’t had time for a serious project since his Laser-Keytar, and it’s still basicly a one-off prototype. New comms, new suit, new suit-applier, new anti-paralysis device, new rocket pack…Not to mention all of those old suits to repair and refurbish.
    Where do you people expect him to find the time?

  7. title: a kind of small crow. first line: Jefferson Street was a zoo. nice touch. curious to read more.

  8. Don’t forget Empowered! She started out when the artist kept getting requests for a superheroine in bondage. She’s a good one too. Just don’t do naughty things while she’s bound. She also doesn’t like it if you stare at her butt, as she thinks it’s too big.

    She’s a very insecure hero.

    They might just have to go with backup from the Feds here, seeing as it is the Nine. There might be a problem explaining what Courtney’s doing there, though.

  9. It’s so easy to add things to the pile the tech guy needs to/should do. Nick’s days are 24h like everybody else’s, and he has to find time for school, sleep, sanity maintenance and heroics, too.

    All in all, they could really use Chris on the team. And that’s even without considering the fruits of collaborating in armour design.

  10. “We don’t live in horror movie”

    Travis feeling a wee bit Hulking?

    (Of course, had he been full-on Hulking, he’d’ve said, “NIGHT WOLF NO LIVE IN HORROR MOVIE! NIGHT WOLF SMASH HORROR MOVIE!”)


  11. Nick needs to get the plans to those fed-issued psi-helmets (maybe from Dr. Nation?) and integrate that into the communicators. Also, it would be fun to know how good a telepath he’d be with one of them things from all the time Daniel and his siblings spent inside his head…

  12. I don’t remember the technical term for it, but Nick could try developing a material that is pliable but resists deformation when stronger pressure is applied. This would give him awesome flexibility and defense. Silly Putty (c) has this trait which is why it can be stretched out or rolled up into a spherical shape and bounced off the floor.

    @Mazzon: I don’t know if Jim would want to have a second tinker on the team. So far he’s kept all the members fairly unique. Plus tech nerds tend to get really competitive and it could eventually drive him into following in his grandfather’s footsteps.

  13. @Andrul: Night Wolf and Night Cat have pretty much the same power set, although we see much more of Night Cat on account of her being the regular narrator’s girlfriend. From Chris and Nick’s interactions so far, it doesn’t look like either of them have much of a competitive spirit; They’d rather talk shop and build exciting new mecha together…

  14. Evil Twin, Hg: Thanks for noticing the various typos, and goofs. They’re all corrected now (I hope…).

    Kazorh: Well, obviously, that’s how you get anyone to respect you…

    Fishface: The communicators may not be tapped, but one never knows…

    Captain Mystic: You know, I wish I could say there was a connection, but it’s a happy accident.

    Luke/Mazzon/Amaral/Andrul: The whole question of pulling in Chris is an interesting one on a couple of levels. On the one hand, he’s (quite sensibly) not sure he wants to be involved with this. On the other, he gets along with Nick and they have a good time working on thing.

    On a third hand (?!), I always wonder how many characters I can pull in at once. There are piles of characters already, and I find myself wondering how many characters can go into the League before anyone following ends up going, “Wait, who was that guy?”

    In fact I’m sure that happens already… I’m working on it though. The next version of the site has some help for that. Alas, it’s not finished.

    Psycho Gecko: I’ve heard of but never read Empowered. I’ll have to check out an issue sometime.

  15. Andrul, might I recommend Non-Newtonian fluids?


    As for Empowered, it’s generally lighthearted, but sex does get mentioned a little. A bit, actually…

    There’s a part in the first book I think where an Imperial Pimpotron restrains her with some sort of alien empire’s bondage thing that drains powers, and would have taken her to the emperor’s harem, but her butt was too big. The alien bondage later comes in handy for defeating an enemy.

  16. — “How to get civilians to respect you as super-heroes: talk about bondage on your super communication devices.” —

    Lol. So true!

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