Picking Up Pieces: Part 3

Text appeared below the screen that showed our position and that of the other planes.

[You’re making yourself completely vulnerable. I’m not suggesting you attack, but landing and turning off your shields represents an unacceptable risk.]

I shut off the comm, and quietly asked, “What would you suggest?”

[If you have to appear vulnerable, lower the jet, but don’t land, and give me permission to turn on the shields whenever I think it’s necessary.]

“You need my permission?”

[Yes. My makers wanted artificial intelligences limited to minimize their risk.]

I thought about it, but not for long. “Go ahead.”

From the back, Cassie said, “You’re not really landing and turning off our shields are you? The gun will not shut up. He thinks it’s a bad idea, and that we’re all going to die. Well, except maybe for Izzy and Jaclyn.”

Haley frowned. “Flick said to cooperate, so I’m cooperating. If you want to take over, go ahead. Then Jack-in-the-Green can patronize you.”

I turned around a little as Cassie sat up in her seat and took a breath. “I didn’t mean it that way. Besides, I can barely fly this thing.”

Trying to lower the level of tension, I asked, “Does the gun have anything else to say? Any advice?”

Cassie gave a brief smile. “He thinks we should kill them all.”

“Great.”

We all sat there for a moment, the lights keeping the cabin just barely lit while the dashboard glowed with the light of several different screens.

With the gun and jet agreeing on something, I found myself feeling a little more nervous instead of less.

Over the comm, Jack-in-the-Green said, “League jet, why did you stop moving?”

Haley pursed her lips, and in a much nicer tone than I guessed she was feeling said, “Did we? Sorry. I was trying to figure out where you wanted us to land. It looks mucky straight ahead of us, and there are trees on the left. The right looks good, but there are rocks, so it doesn’t look quite level—”

“Just go right.” He sounded irritated.

Haley switched off the comm. “I hope no one’s recording this. I’m going to sound like a ditz.”

Daniel said, “We’ve got to assume that they’re recording. My dad says cops do it a lot with supers. It cuts down on people doing the, ‘Do you know who I am?’ stuff.”

Flick broke in. “You shouldn’t have to put up with it that much longer. I managed to get a hold of a couple of my contacts in the RCMP. They ought to be calling them by now.”

I couldn’t see Flick all that well with Daniel, Izzy and Sean sitting in the row between us, but Rachel evidently could.

“Why are you smiling?”

I managed to get a better view of Flick—by leaning, and looking between Daniel and Izzy’s heads. Flick was grinning.

“I was just thinking that you might stall for long enough if you ask about Jack’s name.”

Haley finished turning the jet, and started to make it go slowly forward. She gave a quick look back at Flick. “Why?”

Next to Flick, Rachel leaned back in her chair. “I wouldn’t. She’s much too amused.”

Flick shook her head. “It’s not that bad, but he’ll talk.”

The comm went on and we got another message—this one from Alex in the podjet. “Hey, I was half-tempted to leave, but Flick called Straka over here, and told us to stay. Is it over yet? Because this is pointless.”

Haley’s lips tightened, and I took the call.

“We’re not done, but it shouldn’t last much longer. Flick got through to a couple people. Now it’s just a matter of waiting a little while.”

“Good, but we’re not waiting too long. Straka thinks landing and turning off shields is crazy so we aren’t. Talk to you later.”

Alex cut communications as Jack-in-the-Green called.

I barely had time to feel a stab of worry that even Alex suspected a trap as Jack said, “I’d like you to move a little faster. That jet can leave orbit. I know it can go faster than you’re flying it.”

“Sorry,” Haley sounded apologetic, but she’d narrowed her eyes. “We’re using our gravitics. They’re really meant to be landing gear. They’re not fast at all.”

Jack sighed.

“I’m wondering,” Haley hit a couple buttons, increasing the power the Jet’s fusion based power system had available, and giving power to the engines. “Where did you get your name? I’ve never hear of a Jack-in-the-Green.”

He made a noise somewhere between a sigh and a growl.

“Who put you up to this?” In the background, someone laughed.

“No one,” Haley said. She sounded like she meant it too.

“Some people think it’s funny. It’s an old name. It comes out of folklore. Jack-in-the-Green was a lot like Puck–a rowdy, drunken wood spirit. I first heard the name on a Jethro Tull album.”

“Who’s Jethro Tull?”

15 thoughts on “Picking Up Pieces: Part 3”

  1. “The gun’s will not shut up” should be “The gun will not shut up”.

    Shouldn’t the RCMP also be worried about remaining Rook forces, or agents of the Nine? Not being defended against such, or ready to deal with them, after there’s been such a massive explosion sounds unwise…

  2. You know what, if I was a cop (superpowered or otherwise) and there had been an explosion nearby, and then I found a person (car/ superjet) fleeing the scene, I would stop them and have questions too, even if they showed credentials as fellow law-enforcers (cops/FBI/superheroes.)

    That’s just smart procedure in a suspicious circumstance. What the supers need is an acceptable method of communication and identification, like how the military uses security codes.

    While Jack is being a bit patronizing about it, he’s also doing his job and defending his country. We as readers know that the League did the right thing, but he wasn’t there and doesn’t have our insight.

  3. Is it bad that I had to Google ‘Jethro Tull’ to see if it was a real band or you made it up?

    Anyway’s just got your book of Amazon delivered, you are officially a real author, keep up the good work.

  4. I’ve never hear of a Jack-in-the-Green.

    Think “hear” should be “heard”.

    Just caught up after a short break, great chapter. I’ve heard of Jethro Tull, but have no experience with them. Is that bad?

  5. if Vaughn were there he would comment on “Who’s Jethro Tull?” i think. eh strikes em as liking classic rock.

  6. @Lanky: Yes, it’s bad. But at least you did the look-up.

    Poor JitG — as if Puck-a-rowdy is any better. One can only wonder what he was smoking while listening to Jethro Tull that made him think the name was a good one.

    Hg

  7. Well, the Green Man, which Jim mentioned was related, makes a pretty badass appearance in the first Wheel of Time book. However, I’m not sure I would admit to a stranger that I picked my superhero name from a song.

  8. Ah, Puck, that merry wanderer of the night. Robin Goodfellows. He once aided confusion during someone’s dream in the night in the middle of summer. Also had something to do with the death of one incarnation of Dream of the Endless, and a friend of mine from CoH had a character by that name.

    At least I knew Jethro Tull was a real band. It does remind me that when we’re old people, our grandkids will visit us while we put on Linkin Park and Metallica and complain about us headbanging to the oldies.

    Funny that the one thing everyone agrees on is that landing with the shields off is a bad idea. I also think this is actually a perfect situation for Sean. Having him butt in on the comms and arguing with the others as he tries to act all big and bad, asking about stupid names and why they need to land, would eat up time as well.

    Yeah, I bet Jack might be closer to a literal interpretation than I remembered. You don’t always remember things all at once, ya know. So, a drunken rowdy wood spirit is almost certain to be involved with fertility at some point, especially if it’s a male figure. The only thing lacking is a large penis.

    Satyrs, for instance, were drunken rowdy nature beings, noted for being horny all the time with their erections waving around. Centaurs were wild and uncivilized as well, and often attempted to rape women.

    Priapus was a minor Greek deity who was big in agriculture and erections. His name was used for the condition priapism, which is what they call it when you have an erection for too long (if you take Viagra and your erection lasts more than 4 hours, see a doctor…).

    Pan was a rambunctious God of the wild, shepherds, and hunting. He was also a music god and known as a companion to the nymphs (female nature spirits/deities) and he was a god of fertility (wouldn’t you be if you hung out with nymphs all day?) He too is depicted with a large phallus and is said to have banged the moon goddess (In the name of the moon, all it takes is a sheepskin to hide your hairy back! Wait, the guy’s back was so hairy that he covered himself in sheep to seem less hair?)

    Dionysus was big on drunken rowdiness, as he was the god of wine, but was also there for fertility (people of different gender + wines and parties = babies), though at least part of that was because you had to grow some grapes for wine. He had a connection to the wild as well, such as when his female followers would run off into the woods for awhile to get drunk. It was also known to be extremely liberating for the women.

    The mentor of Dionysus was Silenus, who had some animal body parts and was related to the forest. He was also drunk a lot of the time. Some minor similarity there to give you an idea.

    Gilgamesh, ancient mythological king of Uruk, would have also been like this some. Kings were rather rowdy in that day, especially Gilgamesh who was a demigod. Part of the reason his people didn’t like him was his tendency to exert his right to a newlywed woman’s virginity. His friend Enkidu was lost in the wilderness and raised among the animals, only becoming separate and human to them once he had sex with a woman. I’d say they somewhat cover the same themes amongst the both of them.

    There’s the Horned God of wicca. At this point, we’re talking something more recent but influenced and part of a long tradition. Sexuality, the wilderness, hunting. The horns are meant to be evocative of sexuality and the wild, like a stag, than of a demon, and sometimes it’s given the head of a deer as part of that.

    I suppose if you really want to expand it out, there’s at least another well-known deity who is connected to wine, the wilderness, rowdiness, and fertility, but usually to opposite effect. His connection to wine was not drunkenness, but as some kind of symbol of the covenant between him and his followers since it was supposed to represent his blood. His time in the wildnerness was one in which he was tempted but refused to indulge. He was considered revolutionary and notably threw people out of a temple, but much of that was more upsetting the current order to get people to go back to following Yahweh. And he was notably said to be chaste in most versions of the story, though claimed to be the bringer of life in a more general sense.

    On a note less related to this whole thing, I guess it’s easy to see why Christianity’s narrative makes rowdy, fertile, wildmen of nature who drink a lot and have large horns (either between their legs or on their heads) generally seem like the bad guys, which is why we often associate those traits with something demonic or devilish (a horned man who wants you to have sex and drink. Probably wants you to listen to that new-fangled rock music and that rambunctious Elvis feller. Now get off my lawn you damn kids!).

  9. Jethro Tull…

    Oh, and just for the record, my wife plays the flute (not professionally, but she’s good at it) and ended up at a flute convention that Ian Anderson (lead singer and flutist) for Jethro Tull spoke/played at. One of her friends ended up driving him to the airport when it ended.

    He was not in the best of moods as the flute convention had promised to pay for his hotel bill, but had actually stiffed him, and he’d had to pay for it himself.

  10. Hey Jim, this sentence is bothering me: She’s much too amused.”. But then again English isn’t my first language so it might just be me.

  11. Okay, all you kids and your “is that a real band?” are making me feel old. I’ve got Jack-in-the-Green (and most of the rest of Tull’s discography) in my MP3 library. I saw them in concert back in ’93.

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