The New Heroes League: Part 2

I also didn’t feel quite comfortable with the idea. Taking advantage of the fact that my parents had the block was one thing. Installing it on Kayla (assuming that Daniel would) felt like it would cross some kind of ethical boundary.

I just wasn’t sure which one.

It seemed like there had to be something wrong with modifying a friend’s perception of reality for your personal convenience. On the other hand, one could argue that it would be for everyone’s protection — including hers.

“Nick?” Cassie said. “Anybody home?”

“Sorry. Just thinking. We should probably talk about this again when she’s not here.”

“Or we could just skip it,” she said, and started walking toward the front of the room.

I walked with her.

When we got to the front, Cassie gave Kayla the full tour, pointing out the hangar for the jet and the vehicles, the lab, the storage units, the tunnels, and the main console.

Noticing my playstation, the assorted controllers (including guitars), and games lying next to the front of the main table, Kayla said, “Top secret superhero devices?”

“It would be funny,” I said. “You know, if I had a real guitar and if I could actually play it, I probably could figure out a way to plug it into the Rocket suit and blow things up by jamming.”

“Don’t give him ideas,” Cassie said.

“I wonder if there are any guitar based supers?” I walked over to a command console and logged in. “The FBI gives us access to their database. I’m just going to search it with the keyword ‘guitar’ — which ought to give us guitar based weapons, superheroes with guitars as part of their costume… Whatever, you know?”

I did. I found nothing worth mentioning. It turned out that several superheroes played guitar, but none of them as part of their crime fighting persona. I even recognized the real name of the guitarist in a band I liked.

“Nothing,” I said. “That’s totally open.”

I thought back to the guitar playstation controller. They had the right idea. I didn’t have to go get a real guitar. All I only needed to design something with the complexity of a controller — buttons on the neck instead of strings, a plastic lever, and possibly a whammy bar.

It could be done.

What kind of powers would it have? Sound, I decided, but also light. Rock musicians had light shows. The guitar interface opened up a lot of possibilities. With enough buttons, a person could just slide their fingers down the neck, launching attack after attack.

I logged off from the terminal and started walking toward the lab.

I didn’t intend to use it. I didn’t even intend to build it. It would be an interesting design exercise though. I would just set it up in a CAD program and see how far I could take it.

Then maybe I’d build a prototype. That might be fun.

As I walked away, I heard Kayla say, “What’s going on? Is he still angry?”

“No. He’s thinking. Just let him get it out of his system. He’ll be okay in a day or two. The worst that can happen is that he comes back with a nuclear guitar.”

Now there was an idea.

Still thinking through possible designs, I heard them talking, but the meaning of their words somehow didn’t register.

The phone rang, but not the real phone. The fake sounding ring that meant the call came through our government provided sound and video connection.

That registered.

I stood halfway across the room from a command console, however. Cassie leaned over, typed at the keyboard, and a outline of a muscular man in front of an outline of the state of Michigan covered the screen. The words “Michigan Heroes Alliance” appeared out of it.

It dissolved into “The Marvelous X,” the organization’s president. Obviously in his eighties, the man wore a silver tuxedo and a silver mask that covered little more than glasses would have. Not a single hair seemed out of place.

I started running back to the front of the room.

Just so that there’s no confusion, I should mention that the Michigan Heroes Alliance wasn’t a team. It was more of a union. It provided health and retirement benefits to members, lobbied the government on issues important to super powered individuals, and while it did organize heroes to fight villains, the ability to do that wasn’t the organization’s main point.

“Greetings Heroes League,” the Mavelous X said. “I’m happy that you consented to speak to me, but I’m unsure as to whom I’m speaking to.”

“Sorry,” Cassie said. “This is Captain Commando. I left the video off because only the Rocket and I are here and we’re both out of costume.”

She stopped talking, frowned.

“Wait,” Cassie said, “I don’t mean that the way it sounds. We’re in street clothes. We’re not… Oh god, never mind.”

From her expression, Kayla appeared to be torn between mortification and breaking into laughter.

The Marvelous X did laugh.

“I didn’t think you were, but the thought takes me back. Your predecessor never seemed to stay with a woman for more than a fortnight. Sometimes, it seemed harder to find a woman in costume who hadn’t had a relationship with him, however brief, than one who had.”

“Hi,” I said when I felt like I could do it without sounding out of breath.

“The Rocket,” he said. “You sound like the original. Did you know he helped found the Alliance?”

“He mentioned it,” I said.

“Good. I’d like to apologize on behalf of the Alliance for the actions of Future Knight, Red Bolt, and Tomahawk. Even before they were mind controlled, they rushed to judgment. They should have been helping you, but instead they assumed you had to be in the wrong. In view of your team’s historic involvement with the Alliance, you are now all members in good standing.”

“Thanks,” I said.

Cassie shrugged, but said, “thanks,” without sounding anything but grateful.

“You’re welcome,” he said. “In the spirit of our new found amity, I’d like to suggest you come down to our offices in Lansing. I can give you the tour and we can talk about what we can do for each other.”

24 thoughts on “The New Heroes League: Part 2”

  1. Ok Nuclear Guitar that sounds kinda awesome 🙂 question? Does anyone remember a cartoon where the good guys all wore space armours with a hawk theme and fight in space? Cant remember the name, but there was one character who flew the aircraft that had a texas accent and a cowboy hat, but he had this awesome guitar weapon that he would use.

  2. My God, nuclear guitars. I suppose when you give a teenager the ability to cook things up in CAD, like Rocket Suits, for instance, then nuclear guitars aren’t that far off.

  3. Just did a search on Silverhawks and saw pretty much exactly what Indifferent Curve described…

    Eli: The more Guitar Hero you play, the better an idea it seems.

  4. Just read the whole story (up to here) in two days… I love it so far!

    On a side note, I wonder what “star power” would do on a super-modded guitar…? I look forward to seeing it in action!

  5. Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    I hesitate to imagine what star power would do. I don’t know if we’ll ever see it in action (because sometimes Nick comes up with ideas he doesn’t put into practice), but you never know. When (if) it does show up, I’m of the opinion that it should be a surprise…

  6. Rubberbandninja- we must have been onthe sme pace- but I’m slower. It was about 6 days for me I think.

    Can’t wait for the next update, and surprised you haven’t triedn pitching this as a script yet Jim. This would make an awesome movie- een a novel. Thanks for using your gifts!

  7. Clay: You don’t have to be too patient. The next installment is up now.

    Turning this into a movie script or novel might be hard. From what I understand, as soon as you post something online, it becomes much harder to get it published. Basically, publishing houses want first publication rights and they aren’t wild about pre-publication online.

    Thus I put this up knowing was I was potentially losing, but figuring that having an online serial would be worth it as a project in and of itself.

    I’ve got other stuff I’m trying for traditional publication with.

  8. Truth about the publishing houses not liking works already on the web… But, considering that there are a few people out there (mostly webcomics, but a rare blogger or two) that are proving self-publishing books to be a viable method of income, I’d say that there will come a time when publishers *demand* that a writer have a successful blogging track record already.

    Tor is an early adopter for publishing 2.0, IMHO… you might get a nibble if you send something to them. Worth investigating, maybe.

  9. Clay: It’s got some similarities, but some big differences. It’s an urban fantasy that’s set in Holland, Michigan.

    Parahacker: I may check that out — it’s worth a shot, anyway.

  10. Okay, I feel really geeky doing this, since I’m in the middle of an archive binge and this is a reply to something posted last year…

    Silverhawks character Bluegrass used a guitar, that quite frankly looked more like a Guitar Hero controller than a real guitar anyway, named Hotlicks(it was the 80s I don’t try to make sense of it) that did indeed involve various laser and sonic weapons, all built into one devise. However, the primary purpose of Hotlicks was to act as a remote(or sometimes not so remote, he was using it in the cockpit as often as outside) control devise for the Silverhawks space ship.

    The fact that we’re building up to introducing the jet…Well let me finish my archive binge before I believe the worst.

    Honestly, and I feel I must give credit to the author since he’s probably the only one who will read this, the whole series has been a pleasure to read thus far. I’m wondering if you accept fan art, and will be looking into that, after my archive binge is complete.

  11. I don’t remember that function of the guitar at all. On the bright side, Nick’s doesn’t do that — though it would be funny.

    And thanks for saying you enjoy the story. I definitely do accept fan art.

  12. I’ve occasionally thought that might be something people might refer to Nick as when he’s in costume with the guitar.

  13. You’ve been doing something interesting here, which I have noticed subtle references to before, but this time it was finally so blatant that I wanted to comment on it. Of course, I could be completely wrong about it, but I found it so INTERESTING that I really wanted comment on it. No spoilers possible here since I haven’t read any further than this page.

    There are different sources for superhero powers. Some settings try to provide a common source for all powers: something like “powers from from mutants”. The difficulty there is that it limits the kinds of superhero sources you can have. Other settings just throw in a bit of everything: the Marvel setting has Hulk (radiation), the X-Men (mutants), Iron Man (built it himself), Dr. Strange (magic), Thor (he’s just a God)… it’s a really a wild and eclectic bunch with little rhyme or reason. It is very rare for a setting to have both a variety of origins and also a coherent reason; Worm ( is one of the rare examples.

    So anyway, I’ve been watching this story to try and puzzle out the source of powers in this setting. Clearly some people just have amazing inexplicable powers (transformation, mind control, etc). Also, these seem to be hereditary (but if so, then why do people not act like they KNOW that powers are hereditary?). Then you have a tinkerer like Nick or Larry who can just build themselves a suit.

    Except there’s something odd about the tinkerers. If he can build ONE Rocket suit, why not 1,000 and augment every police officer in the land? Even if Nick (or his granddad) don’t feel like doing that, what is to stop someone else from building a similar suit, or reverse engineering that one? The story even made reference to that when we saw the “old Rocket suits” based on the WW 2 prototype. Surely hundreds of government engineers could at least manage to keep up with one genius inventor — or just hire several genius inventors.

    In short, the story seems to be building to a central tale about some way of granting powers which would “change everything”, but when some powers come from technology we already HAVE a way of granting powers that anyone could use.

    Well, I think the explanation may lie in something that has been hinted at before but was made quite blatant this time. Nick (and presumably the other powersuit heroes) isn’t just a brilliant inventor, he sometimes enters an odd fugue state where he focuses completely on the things he is building. And I suspect that these times are when he makes the great advances; the rest of the time he is mostly just using the things he has invented.

    This time we see him entering a fugue state and about to go invent something. We also get to see that his friends are used to these states (and we’ve seen that before, just never as blatant). My theory is that the fugue state is a hereditary “superpower” (just like transformation or mental abilities) and that it is needed to make full use of the equipment (needs constant small customizations for optimal effectiveness, or something like that).

    I look forward to reading further to see if my guess is right.

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