King of Storms: Part 1

Vaughn and I stood in the parking lot of the Grand Lake Martial Arts Academy, taking in some of the first decent weather of the year.

We’d had heavy snow during the last two weeks of February, but the first week of March had seen the (re)melting of all the snow and temperatures in the fifties. This wasn’t especially warm, but after three months of near zero, it felt like a heat wave.

Combined with the ever increasing daylight hours, it made standing out amid the mud, dirt and cars while waiting for everyone else seem like a good idea.

“So get this,” Vaughn said, “I got an email from someone called ‘King of Storms’ a couple days ago. It said that my codename ‘Storm King’ was too similar to his and that I should change it because he had ‘the prior claim’. You ever heard of this guy?”

“Maybe. Is this the guy in Pittsburgh?”

Vaughn shrugged. “Like I should know, it was an email.”

“Are you going to change it?”

“No. What’s he going to do about it? Come up here and kick my ass?”

“Actually, if he’s the guy I’m thinking of,” I began.

The door opened behind us. Haley came out, followed by Cassie, Jaclyn, Marcus, Travis and surprisingly, Lee.

Lee had his keys out and a duffel bag full of gear.

“Don’t you usually teach after this?” I asked him as he walked past me toward his car, a red Dodge Viper.

“I do. Still am, but I’m heading to Ann Arbor tonight.”

“Why?”

“Your sister. Rachel’s there, not here.”

“I didn’t know she was taking lessons from you.”

“She wasn’t, but she always had the option. Last month she used it.”

He walked over to the car and opened the door.

“Later,” he said. His car spat gravel across the parking lot.

* * *

League HQ wasn’t exactly a romantic setting. Between the forty year old, olive green carpet, the dust, the concrete walls and the steel-reinforced doors, it felt simultaneously out-of-date, abandoned and more like a bunker than a castle.

At the same time, hanging out at my parents’ house wouldn’t have been private, and my grandfather’s old house (which I’d inherited) felt too empty. We could have gone to Haley’s house, but that wouldn’t have been private either.

We’d grabbed a couple chairs in front of the command console and swiveled the chairs to face each other, trying to figure out a way to sit near to each other that wasn’t awkward.

HQ needed a couch.

We ended up sitting with our legs touching and sometimes holding hands.

“What was Vaughn saying about someone wanting him to change his name?”

“From just before you walked outside?”

Between a best friend who was a telepath and a girlfriend with inhumanly sharp senses, I’d long ago given up on personal privacy.

She smiled in a way that made me think that she, unlike Daniel, might be a little embarrassed to have overheard.

“Well,” I said, “That’s pretty much all. We didn’t get to say much more than that. There’s a guy in Pittsburgh codenamed King of Storms who wants Vaughn to choose a different name.”

“Is he?”

“I don’t think so, but maybe he should. I didn’t get to say anything to him about it, but if he’s talking about the same guy I think he is, the guy’s some kind of wizard who specializes in weather magic. I really don’t know much more about him though.”

“A wizard? For real?”

“Says the girl who can throw cars,” I said.

“I’m not saying it’s impossible. I just can’t believe anyone like that would worry about Vaughn.”

“I don’t know. Maybe he’s really insecure… or no, wait, maybe he’s just using it as an excuse to pick a fight. It’s not like anyone can’t guess who Vaughn’s grandfather was.”

She withdrew her hand, moving it as she talked.

“You think he wants to hunt Vaughn down?”

“I don’t know. It’s just the only thing I can think of.”

She frowned. “Sometimes I think that we’ll never be anything more than our grandparents to people.”

I couldn’t think of a reply.

We sat in silence for a little while. Then Haley said, “What’s that blinking light?”

A blue light blinked slowly on and off in the lower right corner of the monitors at the command center table and on the big wall screen.

“I don’t know. It’s never gone off before.”

I swung my chair around and clicked on the spot with the mouse.

The blue spot resolved into the words, “Emergency Call: Local Police. Answer? Yes/No.”

I clicked on “Yes.”

A Grand Lake police force badge appeared on the screen. Static came over the speakers as a woman’s voice said, “Lieutenant Van Kley, I’ve got the Heroes League.”

A voice in the background said, “What about Mindstryke or the Rhino?”

“They’re not picking up.”

“Give me the phone.”

A clunking noise came from the speakers as the phone transferred hands.

“Heroes League, this is Lieutenant Van Kley. We’ve got a hostage situation. Do you have anyone available?”

“Sure,” I said.

“I’ve still got advanced algebra homework,” Haley whispered.

“I can help,” I said.

“I don’t need help. I need to be home by nine so I have time to finish it.”

I talked into the microphone next to the monitor. “How late would we end up staying up?”

“I don’t know. This is a hostage situation. It depends on when the hostages are freed.”

“I thought you had SWAT teams for stuff like that.” I said.

“We had a SWAT team until about ten minutes ago. So, are any of you available?”

“Me. I’m the Rocket.”

“I’m coming. I’m Night Cat,” Haley said.

23 thoughts on “King of Storms: Part 1”

  1. Yay for the first entry, Curve!

    Wow, superhero trademark issues. Vaughn just can’t catch a break, can he? Poor guy. Rainmaker maybe? Baron Barometer? Captain Updraft? Or will it come to a civil court battle, or a battle of a less civil kind? Tune in next time, true believers!

  2. Emote Control: I’d have been worrying about that in high school.

    Parahacker: I know that professional actors get really worked up about that. Of course, in their case, they sometimes get the wrong person’s check when things get confusing.

  3. Yeah that’s the problem with a secret life. It collidies with your real one.

    I wonder what happened to the swat team, maybe they got some nasty super that took them out.

  4. So, let me get my dose of sucking up to the author out the way….Jim, I see a few new faces hanging out at the Legion chatboards.

    Remember the little people when you get the Legion series on ABC Family….

    @Parahacker: Captain Updraft…Baron Barometer. LMAO! Priceless, dude! I vote ThunderStrike, myself….

    Anybody else catch you Lt. Van Kley was asking if anybody else was available? Nick and the gang are still relief pitchers to the wider world I guess….

  5. Daymon/J Renzo: Something nice might have happened to the SWAT team. Like maybe they all went out for ice cream? Or, well, maybe not…

    Bill: TV would be cool. I’m not holding my breath, but… over the last couple months, the story has gotten more readers. That’s a good thing.

    Bill/Parahacker: The names are funny. I’m trying to imagine the costume of someone named Baron Barometer…

  6. I don’t know about Baron Barometer, but he would probably look a lot like Captain Compass and the Stupendous Sundial.

  7. “How late will we be up” — because that doesn’t sound juvenile. 😉

    I like how they’re responsible teens — possibly a byproduct of heroes in their family, plus grappling with being so powerful at such a young age.

    “With great power comes great responsibility” — they bought into that little speech somewhere along the road. But it will be interesting to see how overlapping responsibilities start colliding…

  8. Getting the couch installed will be logistically troublesome. They’ll have to buy it for the grandfather’s house officially, then have Haley carry it into the headquarters, but the problem is that it won’t fit onto the elevator … yeah, this could be a nice intro to a section come to think of it.

    Similiarly, they’ll have to change the carpeting themselves.

  9. Well, since Larry managed to walk his suit into the headquarters, and they’ve driven Nightwolf’s car in an out of there a bunch of times, and there’s also a fricken AIRPLANE in there, I’m sure they won’t have much difficulty getting a couch in. Heck, they could just have Larry pick it up at the store and carry it there himself.

    Hg

  10. It amuses me to imagine Larry carrying a couch through the streets.

    For what it’s worth, there are a few different entrances to League HQ:
    — the elevator.
    — an opening in the forest in the park next door.
    — another hidden entrance in the park suitable for the Rhinombile or Night Wolf’s car.
    — the sewer tunnels.
    — an underwater entrance, mostly used by the jet.

  11. Cool. Still, it strikes me that a good way to open an arc is the heroes completing the long-delayed task of carpet replacement.

  12. I still think Vaughn should have taken the chance to change his name to White Lightning. I liked that name, a little bit badass, just like him…maybe too much of a shout-out to his grandpa, though, considering what Red Lightning turned out to be.

  13. Has to be one of my favorite lines ever… and a terrible way to endear yourself to the police

    “Heroes League, this is Lieutenant Van Kley. We’ve got a hostage situation. Do you have anyone available?”

    “Sure,” I said.

    “I’ve still got advanced algebra homework,” Haley whispered.

    “I can help,” I said.

    “I don’t need help. I need to be home by nine so I have time to finish it.”

    I talked into the microphone next to the monitor. “How late would we end up staying up?”

    “I don’t know. This is a hostage situation. It depends on when the hostages are freed.”

    “I thought you had SWAT teams for stuff like that.” I said.

    “We had a SWAT team until about ten minutes ago. So, are any of you available?”

    “Me. I’m the Rocket.”

    “I’m coming. I’m Night Cat,” Haley said.

    Awesomeness

  14. Thanks.

    I like the scene myself, though rereading it just now, I noticed a couple spots where I could tighten things up.

    Glad you’re reading.

  15. Imagine you’re a law enforcement officer. The shiznit is hitting the fan. You decide to call in superheroes. And when you do they ask, “How late would we end up staying up?” The only way it could get worse is if they asked if juice boxes and cookies would be provided. 🙂

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