The Unusual Suspects: Part 5

I didn’t ask him what the problem was. There were so many options, and it’s not as if I wanted to go into it.

Anyway, Günther started splitting up the groups as the last people walked through the door. Sean ended up in one of the groups for physically normal people. I directed a group for people with mid-level physical abilities. There’s no reason to go into detail about it except to mention that Dayton was in the group.

A big guy in a roomful of big guys, Dayton stood out not because he looked like a football player stereotype, but because he had great coordination and learned any move he saw instantly.

In the comics, you’d think that it would instantly make him the best hand to hand fighter alive. In reality, no.

The effectiveness of copying people’s moves was limited by the people you had to copy i.e. if you train with other students, most of the moves you learn will be wrong somehow.

At the end of class, I talked to him about it. My group had gone through all the exercises and we only had a minute left. I stepped up to him as he stood, taking a few breaths after sparring.

He wore his Justice Fist uniform, a white fist stood against the blue background on his chest. That was interesting, but explainable. Unlike Sean’s family, Dayton’s didn’t have a lot of money. He’d be using that uniform until he got the money for a new one, and combat ready uniforms were expensive.

“Hey,” I said, “I noticed that you were doing the last hold wrong. I was helping someone else at the time or I would have told you then. Um—“

He grinned, taking it better than some. “I couldn’t see you very well, so I copied the guy ahead of me.”

“You want to see it again?”

He did, and I used his sparring partner to demonstrate the hold.

When I said, “Great, now do it to me,” he did it perfectly, or close to it.

As he stepped back, I asked, “Did I do it like that?” He’d started to grab my arm as if I’d been a few inches taller than I actually was. It was perfect after that.

He shook his head. “No, Cody’s about your height, and if I don’t think, I’ll do the move exactly as you did it.”

“Oh, I didn’t know it worked like that.”

Nodding, he said, “I didn’t either at first. Do you mind if I practice this a couple times? It doesn’t stick if I don’t.”

“No problem,” I said, and stepped back while he did the move on Cody a few times, and that’s how I found myself standing next to Sean.

By “found myself”, I mean that I was still watching as Sean broke away from his section and walked over. Maybe I should have walked away, but I didn’t.

Even though a mask covered his face, his frown and a sidelong glance at me hinted at his standard level of annoyance where I was concerned. “What’s he doing? Class is done.”

“Memorizing a move,” I said.

Fully turning his head to look at me, he said, “You’re not keeping him after deliberately, are you?”

“No, he wanted to practice more.”

Responding the instant I stopped talking, he said, “What’s going on with my sister? Why did you bring her along?”

Looking around, I realized that people were leaving, and not paying much attention to us. That was good.

“To St. Louis? Haley wanted her and Camille to come. They’ve been out patrolling together lately.”

“She could have died!” Sean’s voice wasn’t quite shouting, but it was close. People turned their heads to look.

“But she didn’t,” I said. “It worked out.”

Sean didn’t seem to hear me, or didn’t care, pointing out, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

That got me. “Honestly? Because we were going into a dangerous situation, and I needed to have people around who would listen, and the last time we worked together you argued with anybody who told you to do something you didn’t want to do.”

“I stood up for myself when everyone you snowed was telling me to do stupid shit, you mean. Just because you’re riding on the first Rocket’s coattails, it doesn’t mean that everybody has to jump when you say something. I’m making my own way.”

Sean still wasn’t shouting, but everybody left in the room was looking in our direction. Fortunately that wasn’t a lot of people—maybe twenty—which was still more than I wanted.

Dayton and Cody had stopped practicing. Günther watched from a distance, not intervening, deliberately letting me handle it myself.

At that moment, I wanted to unload on Sean, and let him know that in the face of city shattering bombs self-empowerment wouldn’t help much, and not listening would tend to kill people.

It took too long to put it together in my head, and before I was done, Dayton had stepped closer, saying something quietly to Sean. It sounded like, “Remember your probation?”

Sean froze, and his face tightened. I tensed, expecting an attack, but he didn’t. He turned around and left without another word.

Dayton watched him go. “Sorry about that. He’s still barely talking to Sydney because of Camille, but he wants to do that big brother thing.” He paused. “Plus, I guess you know he’s never liked you.”

“Yeah,” I managed, “I noticed that.”

Dayton grinned, obviously clear on how much of an understatement that was. “I better catch up with him. Thanks for the tip, and see you next class.”

He hurried after Sean.

24 thoughts on “The Unusual Suspects: Part 5”

  1. “I stood up for myself when everyone you snowed was telling me to do stupid shit, you mean”

    Is snowed used that way? Is Sean on the white powder? Is he riding the white horse? Speak to me Sean, I have to know, what do you have in your nose at this very instant?!

  2. Himself, Psycho, his nose is stuffed full of himself. He’s so full of himself he’s coming out his own nose

  3. Ok, I have been on some serious happy drugs the past few months but what is Sean on probation for?

    I like Gunther’s training style and how he wanted to see what Nick would do to handle the situation. Still, he needs to stop over thinking everything and start trusting his instincts more. He is being placed in the role of a leader and, as much as he hates it, he needs to get used to it. For some reason, Nick seems to be a nexus for multiple events. Tara got help from several “Nicks” over multiple dimensions. War was the last survivor of his world and wanted to enter ours. I am curious as to what the prophesy/prediction regarding him was exactly.

    I like the explanation of Dayton’s powers. I wish Taskmaster’s/other polymorphs’ powers were explained in a similar fashion as opposed to making them instant experts in everything they see.

    Good writing Jim. Really appreciate it

  4. possible corrections

    Fully turning his his head to look at me, he said, “You’re not keeping him after deliberately, are you?”

    his his should only have one his.

    “No, he’s doing this to himself. not sure about this. could it be doing this for himself?

    A definition of snowed. To overwhelm with insincere talk, especially with flattery.

    So Nick has snowed everyone into thinking he is super smart while Sean thinks he a jackass.

  5. Well, Sean attacked Nick while Nick was outside of his armor and he did this in a hall full of students, in their first meeting in the Stapleton program.
    This should put him in trouble if nothing else.

  6. Typo?

    “Which okay, was still more than I wanted.”

    This isn’t parsing properly for me. Maybe you’re missing a ‘though’: “Which, though okay, was still more….”

    Or possibly like this instead: “While okay, this was still more….”

    Or something else. You get the idea.

    Hg

  7. I like the way Dayton’s power works. It’s a great power to have, but it has limitations. I like powers like that. It keeps it balanced. Heck, I think every well written superpower should be great to have, but limited.
    And Sean once again demonstrates why people don’t like him. Someone has to do the “stupid shit” Sean, or it’d never get done!

  8. “Just because you’re riding on the first Rocket’s coattails, it doesn’t mean that everybody has to jump when you say something. I’m making my own way.”

    Trying as hard as I can to see Sean’s point of view, there is an element of truth here. Nick was essentially handed a complete superhero identify. He got armor technology, a headquarters, a jet, and all the built-up respect and goodwill that the public and government has for the League of Heroes. I’m not even sure that Sean understands that Nick has super invention powers in his own right, or at least not that he’s the equal of the old Rocket.

    Sean looks at all that and he asks himself, “Why do people assume this guy should be listened to over me? Take away everything he was given on a silver platter, and he’s no better than me. No, in fact I’m better than him. I went and sought out superpowers, busted my butt to organize a team, and chose to be a hero. Would Nick have done any of that if he wasn’t a legacy?”

    Now stepping back from Sean’s point of view that’s a very self-centered take on things, and we must recall that he bullied Nick for no reason before he knew of Nick’s connection to the Rocket. But still, I can understand why it really grinds his gears to think of how much easier Nick has had it.

  9. Pretty good job, Matthew. Remember, understanding and even sympathy doesn’t have to mean agreement. Remember, it’s know thyself AND know thy enemy, find naught but victory in 100 battles.

    At the same time, Nick has been raised to this because of those coattails. He worked with his grandfather and learned as a kid to create advanced suits of armor and miniature spy robots. He worked with him enough that some heroes thought of him as his grandpa’s sidekick. He’s been raised in that, he’s been given lessons by Lee since he was young, and he’s been interacting with the superhero community in some form or another all his life.

  10. Jeff/Hg: I think the typos and awkward phrasing are better now. Thanks.

    Regarding Sean: Sean’s got two things against him–the attack on Nick at the first Stapledon weekend, but also the fact that he killed Ray. Even assuming that was a reasonable thing to do, the program still feels like they need to watch him just to make sure he won’t make a habit of it.

    Plus, there’s the bullying thing. In a situation where it’s not unreasonable that the potentially bullied kid could unleash the equivalent of WMD’s, it’s better to keep a close watch on someone with a track record of bullying.

    Of course, that’s not all probationary membership in Stapledon includes.

    Regarding Dayton’s power: I always liked the idea of the Taskmaster, but I didn’t want to make it as simple as Taskmaster’s power. Besides it seemed like there were simple obvious ways for that power to go wrong.

  11. Taskmaster’s ability did go wrong in a very simple way. One of the first things he ever tried was a dive he picked up from watching the Olympics. Problem was, he hadn’t learned how to swim. Since then, he’s had a fear of the water.

    Still, I like this take on it, that the person would be copying people who didn’t know enough about what they were doing and it would mess him up.

  12. Still, there is a method of copying the right moves without picking up messed up moves from fellow students: Challenging the experts to experience the techiniques with his body. Of course that depends on weather he has the required secondary powers to be able to see the moves or he’ll end up wasting his time or if it works, he’ll end up developing masochistic personality traits.

  13. Responding the instant I stopped talking, he said, “What’s going on with my sister? Why did you bring her along?”

    Looking around, I realized that people were leaving, and not paying much attention to us. That was good.

    “Banging her. Hard. Did you know she screams extra loud when you use a banana too? But only a banana. Oh, wait, you wouldn’t know, because she’s your sister. And I’m banging her.”

    “She could have died!” Sean’s voice wasn’t quite shouting, but it was close. People turned their heads to look.

    “She should have told me she was allergic to bananas,” I said. “It worked out.”

    Sean didn’t seem to hear me, or didn’t care, pointing out, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

    That got me. “Honestly? Because Haley is in on it too and she didn’t want rumors flying all over the place.”

    ****

    Newsflash, Psycho Gecko named new head director/writer of the latest New Heroes League porn series.

  14. Ok, I know we’ve got an orgy here, but I need white doves for this scene. Four different wide-angle rooftop camera shots, and a flock of white doves. Also, keep on calling Danny Elfman about handling the score.

  15. Taskmaster daughter is in Avengers Academy and he reviled to her his power erases his memories over time to make room, a condition she shares.

  16. Ya know, Sean hasn’t exactly seen Nick spending all his off-hours fixing the suits (and making new ones). Figure he might respect Nick a bit more if he knew.

  17. Reading this is starting to make me think of that scene in A Knight’s Tale where Chaucer tells the Summoner that he will immortalize him as a villain.

    In the Prologue the Summoner is irredemably awful.

    Sean isn’t outright awful in appearance but hating him is such a joy I kind of wonder if our Author wasn’t terribly wronged by a Sean/Shawn/She-Yeun and decided to immortalize them alla Chaucer :p

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