Hysteria: Part 8

Payback screamed and fell over, his body outlined in electricity.

The air smelled of ozone, and smoke.

When the lightning stopped, I could see Payback more clearly. His chest still moved, but he wasn’t doing much more than that. His right arm looked uncomfortably red and blistered.

From behind me Vaughn shouted, “I got him, right?”

I turned, watching the grass flatten as he landed.

“Oh yeah, he’s down.”

Haley stepped next to me and looked down at the body. “He needs an ambulance.”

“Let him bleed,” Cassie said. “Did you see what he did to Accelerando?”

I checked the road.

Jaclyn walked across the grass toward us. She didn’t appear to be hurt.

The police car had a broken windshield and a human sized dent in its hood.

Fortunately, it wasn’t the only police car there. They’d apparently assigned four cars plus two of the bulky, armored trucks people referred to as “boxes” to the immediate area. Having blocked the road, police were waving away the few civilian cars I could still see, but the crowd of reporters weren’t listening.

All the local TV stations seemed to have parked a van by the side of the road plus a few stations I didn’t recognize at all, and, if that weren’t enough, vans that just showed the names of national networks — ABC, CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX…

Keith’s experiment and hospitalization (in combination with the release of the power juice) had caused reporters specializing in metahuman affairs to converge on Grand Lake. When they heard the words “masked felony” come over their police scanners, how could they not show up?

All of which meant that with the exception of Los Angeles, this had to be the best covered incident I’d ever been involved in — and not just on the ground. A police helicopter hung in the air above a nearby factory, its side door open, revealing a man sitting behind a big gun.

Three other helicopters hovered over the road, staying outside the the line of fire. I recognized News 10’s copter of course, but had never seen the others.

In the dark, I noticed something else moving through the air.

Partly because of the dark, I didn’t immediately recognize it, but realized after a second that it had to be a car. The two lights on the front were headlights.

“Rocket,” Haley whispered, “that’s Dayton’s car.”

At the speed it moved, it didn’t take long for the rusty Geo Metro to land in the grass just ahead of Jaclyn.

Dayton, Jody, and Sean stepped out. All of them wore school clothes.

Jaclyn turned to face them. “What are you doing here? Get back behind the police cars. We haven’t secured the area.”

Even in the twilight, I could see Sean grinning. “Then we’ll do it. Watch and learn.”

The expression on Jaclyn’s face (the part the mask showed at least) said a lot of things. Most strongly it said, “I’d never expected that you were this stupid.”

Aloud she said, “I don’t know what you’ve seen on TV, but powers alone don’t –”

Sometimes you don’t think the moment can get any worse, but reality goes beyond your wildest expectations.

Before Jaclyn had gotten distracted by Payback, she’d been trying to figure out where her latest punch had sent Spike.

Spike chose that moment to reappear. I heard his steps on the metal roof of Radotron’s building. As I thought to turn around, he jumped, and flew over me, landing next to Skewer.

Skewer pushed himself up out of the grass as Spike landed. How long had he been playing dead?

Jody took off running, moving from where he’d been standing to directly in front of Spike almost instantaneously.

I couldn’t say it with complete certainty, but he seemed like he might be in Jaclyn’s league.

He attacked Spike in a blur of fists, doing no damage at all.

Skewer punched him in the side of the head and Jody went down.

Skewer’s hand changed into a blade and he began to bring it down at Jody’s chest.

I didn’t even see Jaclyn start moving, but she blocked the blade with her left arm and punched Skewer in the face with the right.

Skewer fell backwards.

Spike’s fingers changed to blades, but he never got a chance to strike her.

Both Spike and Skewer rose into the sky.

On the ground, Sean smirked, but didn’t say anything, obviously concentrating.

I wondered what he intended to do with them. Neither of them were unconscious and either one seemed likely to be capable of ripping a box apart.

Sean slammed the two them against each other in the air.

Neither of them fell unconscious, but they didn’t seem to like it.

I couldn’t hear precisely what they were saying but they were shouting at Sean.

He slammed them against each other several more times.

Inside my head, Daniel’s voice said, “What an idiot.”

Coming from the same direction as the car had, he flew toward the floating bodies as Sean drew them apart from each other, preparing to smash them together again.

The words, “Stop it,” echoed in my brain and probably the brains of everyone within Daniel’s range.

The bodies stopped moving.

Then Spike and his brother’s bodies fell limp, changing back into normal human beings. Except for being flesh instead of metal, they didn’t look much different. Spike looked short and muscular. Skewer looked taller and skinnier.

As they touched the ground, the police and reporters swarmed across the lawn.

22 thoughts on “Hysteria: Part 8”

  1. An egomaniac with powers, not good.
    Powers do not mean that you can do well, just that you can do more. At least if your body can take it anyway.

  2. sometimes I get irritated when the ‘good guys’ exhibit more concern than I feel is necessary for the wellbeing of the ‘bad guys.’ But I force myself to remember that this concern is often part of what makes them the good guys. Sean may be fighting the bad guys, but methinks he is FAR from a hero.

  3. In my head I just see Rocket looking back and forth, not doing anything, not knowing WHAT to do. Shows how unqualified he is to lead this group still. He may be able to come up with a better plan than all of Three put together, but he still can’t quite figure it all out. This of course is great for us, cause we get to see him grow.

  4. @Pangoria: You bring up an interesting point. I was ready to become indignant about what your comment about Nick, but I realize that it is COMPLETELY valid. Nick does seem to spend a lot of time saying “um, uh, and huh”. And yes, I believe it is a part of his character.

    However……I still say that he is the most qualified person right now to be the leader of the Legion. He has the intelligence and the compassion to be a leader; we see that when Nick is forced to step up and lead, he does.

    The Three would be a bunch of dead kids if Nick hadn’t stepped up and shut em all down.

    Ditto the battle with the Executioner. In fact, it seems that Nick’s greatest asset isn’t the Rocket armor, but his ability to mobilize and organize and thus make the supers around him better.

    He’s a lot like James T. Kirk in that way.

    ……Oh, yeah @Jim: Top 10 Episode easily.

  5. @Pangorea:

    Nick is the viewpoint.

    But he is not the only character to view.

    Thus, to balance the time spent on each, we get to see and feel what he sees and feels, when it comes to the rest of the supers.

    This entire scene, several blog entries long, could have taken place in the span of 10-15 minutes from the time they hit the ground. Possibly longer, but that’s a fairly conservative estimate. Distance is also a factor; it may not be explicitly stated, but it can be assumed that Nick is not able to be Johnny On The Spot everywhere at once.

    There was a tremendous amount of action happening in a small amount of time. Nick acted. A lot.

    And so did the others. Now, tell me, how exactly is that action to be written? Would you have Nick doing everything?

    I imagine that I would be completely unable to manage the assessments that Nick does at the speed he does. There is no hesitation here, except insofar as it represents an internal monologue.

  6. Wow. I just managed to get to the latest post, having started reading this several days back.

    Things are getting INTERESTING.

    Oh, and Jim, what would be the easiest way to contact you? I’d love to get a chance to poke at your brain a bit and get some tips on the whole webserial thing, since I’ve been brewing one up myself.

  7. Yalborap: I’ll email you.

    Things have been slowly edging toward this point for a while. People have even speculated that Sean and the others might show up with powers… Personally, I’m relieved to have finally gotten here.

    Stormy: It’ll be interesting to contrast and compare what people do with powers once they get them. Sean won’t be the only person.

  8. @Hg: I think Cassie takes the fights a bit personal. Another reason I say Nick is clearly meant to be the leader of the group. He can hate the villains as much as the next; but he’ll always look to do the least damage.

    Again with the Trek analogy, a true captain can bottle his emotions and continue to lead even in the heat of battle.

  9. @parahacker: I’ve rewritten a reply to what you said several times, trying to find the right words, to help you understand that I already know everything you said, and I was simply describing what I was imagining this entry (or this part of the scene) would look like.

    Jim is handling describing what’s happening perfectly, especially in NOT knowing EVERYTHING that’s going on.

    On that note, Nick’s brain/eyesight seems to be able to keep up with superspeed metas (Jody appeared to teleport, but Nick still was able to track where he went, something that some people would be standing there going, “Where did he go?”).

    So in the future, simply think, “This Pangoria person ALSO really likes this story, maybe I should reread what they wrote with that assumption in mind”.

  10. What I’d really like to do at this point is write something so funny that everyone would laugh and feel confident that no one writing here intends to annoy anyone.

    Unfortunately I can’t think of anything that funny, but I really don’t want this to snowball.

    As such, I’ll resort to ripping off Alexandra Erin’s comments guideline: Be excellent to each other… *

    And now I think I’ll go to the store and pick up some milk, orange juice, and (possibly) beer.

    * I’m aware the line references “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” an amusing movie that (like this serial) includes guitars. Unfortunately, their guitars lack lasers.

  11. But still no lasers. Now that Jim has mentioned that point I have to admit that I was always disappointed by that. In a perfect world all guitars (even acoustic) would have lasers.

    And now a stupid joke.

    A horse, an astronaut, and the pope walk into a bar.

    The bartender looks up and says,

    “What is this a joke?”.
    (That drum thing at the end of jokes)

  12. The funny thing here to me is that the person who seems to consistently make some of the best decisions isn’t even mentioned as a potential team lead.

    Jaclyn. She is smart, super fast, almost invulnerable, she doesn’t seem to get distracted like most of the rest of the team does. She lives up to being a superhero, saving villains from rogue superheros (Executioner).

    Her biggest problem seems to be that she really doesn’t seem to want to actually be a superhero, and I think part of that is because she’s seeing the bumbling of her teammates, and isn’t sure she wants to be involved if this is what she has to work with. She’s also probably got some of her grandfather’s mental baggage to go along with all that.

    And, just out of curiosity, why hasn’t her grandfather gone to go see healer-boy in LA about his eyes?

  13. ” staying outside the the line of fire.”
    “Sean slammed the two them against each other in the air.” missing *of*

    Btw nice story

  14. You know, I think the line “Sometimes you don’t think the moment can get any worse, but reality goes beyond your wildest expectations.” sums up the serial pretty well at times! (In a good way though, like, “worse” actually adds drama and twists – like Nick possibly having to be a mentor to people who dislike him. Keeps me reading.)
    I suppose the first person viewpoint has both good and bad points. On the one hand, you have to infer the outsider perspective through the narrator; on the other, you don’t have to get bogged down describing every detail of fight scenes, plus it feels more personal, like you’re more invested. Oh, and the “punching self in head” line from a couple posts back – hilarious.

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