Hysteria: Part 9

Sean looked over the oncoming crowd a little nervously, and asked me, “What are we supposed to do now?”

“No idea,” I said.

Then I turned on the loudspeaker.

They were halfway across the lawn, and the growing darkness gave the group a “Night of the Living Dead” feel. Not that they were really zombies, but a crowd of people walking toward you isn’t a normal situation.

“Hey everybody. Please let the police and the boxes get through first. All these guys look like they’re unconscious, but we really don’t know for sure. It’d be a bad thing if one of them eviscerated you or something.”

I don’t know if they really listened to me or not, but they did get out of the way when the trucks crossed the lawn.

Haley stepped behind me as I talked, and held her hands over her ears. Better than human hearing and loudspeakers don’t mix.

Vaughn and Daniel landed next to me.

Meanwhile, Jody moaned and tried to get up.

Dayton stood over him. “You took a big hit. Why don’t you just stay on the ground till the paramedics get here?”

“Yeah.” Jody took a gasping breath.

“You did good,” Sean said. “I could barely see you when you were moving.”

I didn’t say anything. Jody really hadn’t done all that well. Sure he’d moved his fists quickly, but he’d stood directly in front of Skewer and stayed there. If he’d moved his body, jumping in and out of range, Skewer couldn’t have touched him.

For a few seconds after that no one said anything.

Dayton addressed the group of us. “I’d just like to say how much of a thrill it is to be standing next to you. I hope we didn’t get in your way.”

Sean said, “Don’t worry about it, Dayton, we helped.”

I had a hard time talking. What he said felt far from any reality I recognized. If they hadn’t shown up, Daniel would have been able to take Spike and Skewer out as soon as he’d arrived — provided we’d managed to contain them.

I felt Daniel’s mental presence.

+++
Daniel: Nick, just let it be. You don’t want to give him any reason to guess who you are. He already suspects Vaughn.
Me: You’ve passed that along to Vaughn?
Daniel: That’s why he’s quiet.

+++

From just behind me, Haley said, “I’ve got to go.”

Jaclyn watched as the police men started to put Spike and Skewer on to stretchers. “I’ve still got homework.”

“Don’t go,” Cassie said, “we’ve all got to meet at HQ for debriefing. Everybody.”

Eying Sean, she said, “Well, all of us.”

+++
Me: We should be discussing this mind to mind.
Daniel: I know!

+++

Sean looked over at Jaclyn. “Homework? What school do you go to?”

“One that gives homework.”

“I get it. The secret identity. No problem.”

He paused. “I don’t believe in secret identities myself.”

The arrival of all the reporters saved us the bother of a reply.

I gave my version of events several times. I usually avoided talking to reporters altogether, but, Sean didn’t look like he was leaving at all, and who knew what he’d say?

* * *

We all ended up in HQ afterward. Everyone slumped in their seats. I don’t know how the others felt, but I felt tired.

Cassie stood up at the main table. “Hey, everybody! After every game my soccer coach used to have us talk about what the team thought went right, and what could have gone better. I think we should too.”

Daniel sat up, nodding. “According to my dad, the Defenders do the same thing.”

Jaclyn sighed. “When I said I had homework, I wasn’t just trying to get rid of Sean. I’ve got fifty pages to finish and a book report to write. Can we keep this short?”

Cassie said, “When is it due?”

“Next Monday.”

“And you’re already started?”

Vaughn raised his hand. “I shouldn’t be out all that late either. My mom’s going to kill me once she sees the news. I don’t want to make it worse by being late. I mean, it’s not like she’s been zombified like your parents. She knows what I’m doing.”

“Zombified?” Haley sounded irritated.

“Well,” Vaughn said, “you know what I mean. The whole ‘I was being a superhero, forget everything’ and they’re like ‘yes, master?’ Do you have any idea how much you could be getting away with?”

“Whoa,” Cassie waved her right hand. “We’re getting totally off topic. Nick, what do you think we did right?”

“I don’t know. We won, and even though we didn’t have everybody I think that’s the closest we’ve ever come to having almost everybody there at the beginning of the fight.”

“Great. What else did we do right?”

Vaughn shrugged. “I missed half the fight, but I took out what’s his name… Paycheck? I took him down, and Haley got that other guy. I saw that.”

Haley said, “Even though you couldn’t stop them, the rest of you did a good job with Spike and Skewer. They didn’t get away. Cassie, and all of you really, kept on fighting even after Cold Cash froze your legs.”

“And how many times did that happen? I couldn’t believe it.” Jaclyn shook her head.

“We’ll call that something that didn’t work,” Cassie said. “What else didn’t work?”

“Communication,” I said. “I didn’t know Jaclyn was going to pick up the van, and dump it in the yard. She didn’t know I was hanging on to the back. I think I need to design the next version of our League tracking devices.”

Daniel sighed. “I was later than everybody else. Sorry.”

Cassie said, “Whatever, Travis and Marcus didn’t even show up, and, you finally took down Spike and Skewer. None of us could.”

“What do we do about Sean?” Haley asked. “Is he going to start showing up everywhere now?”

“I was wondering how he got power juice this soon,” I said. “He didn’t seem to know anything when Keith tested everyone.”

Daniel smiled a little. “I caught some of that from Sean’s head. You know how Sean’s grandparents were with Vaughn’s grandfather? Sean’s dad got a hold of some power juice and kept it around. Somehow he heard about the government’s version and had some of that made up. Now he’s got a few vats in the house.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me,” Vaughn said. “A whole bunch of my grandfather’s people stayed on after everything fell apart. Sean’s dad still works at one of my family’s companies.”

15 thoughts on “Hysteria: Part 9”

  1. You know as a kid when I played soccer they use to do that as wel after the game. That shit use to drive me crazy…everybody pointing out flaws and mistakes and hardly giving creds for any good work..sheesh…well sorry about the rant; as always great post.

  2. Personally, I just wish we’d do more of that at work after we finish a project or meet a milestone. Of course, it’s only as useful as how the information is acted upon. If nobody does anything with it, it’s a waste of time, and some people end up resenting all the negativity. (Hmm, maybe you needed a better coach, Curve….)

    Hg

  3. As Hg pointed out once, just because there’s no fight and no explosions, doesn’t mean the story isn’t great.

    This episode is a prime example. I could almost feel Nick’s exhaustion, with everything, seeping off the page (screen).

    I see that Sean has now popped up to give Alex and Vaughn serious competition for that Idiot Of The Year award. My GOD that dude is dense.

    Also, I see a lot of sticky situations cropping up from this. I can so see Sean getting all nosy and trying to lean on Keith to find out who the Rocket and Night Wolf (that is Haley’s identity right) are.

    I was about to complain about how often Daniel is MIA but when he doesn show up he really does kick ass. An effective Spock to Nick’s Kirk, if I say so myself.

    Jim, excellent episode all around. Have you given thought to the publishing angle yet? I’d definitely order a copy.

  4. I like how they stuck with positives, and even the negatives were quickly met with solutions. Reminds me of a Raid night, after wiping on a boss.

    I’ve been wondering if you could do a post on what is in their “utility belts”, maybe sometime after the new communicators are made. Or even a series of posts that describe all their stuff, I’m curious to pick your brain about it. (or do you intend to use the tools as a Deus Ex Machina (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeusExMachina)?

  5. Regarding debriefings: They can be useful if people do it right. It’s easy to do it wrong, I think.

    Bill: Daniel’s busy and doesn’t fly as quickly as Jaclyn runs or Nick flies so it’s easy for him to miss things.

    With regards to publishing… I’d like to do some kind of POD like Lulu or Create Space. At the point that I committed, I’d have to decide whether I want to provide a revised version or what’s currently on the website. After that I’d have to do layout for a few days. It’s a big enough job that it’s not something I’ll commit to lightly.

    I’ll probably do it though. It’s just a question of when. Actually there are a few things I’ve got to sit down an sort out — a site redesign (I’ve got ideas), taking ads on my site, and advertising on others (to grow traffic). I need to prioritize where all that stuff fits on my list.

    Pangoria: It won’t be a Deus Ex Machina. I don’t like them.

    I’ve got some of the belt’s content set right now, but not everything.

    I’m giving myself a little time to think through the obvious stuff that should be on it. When I do, I’ll be happy to post it. It might actually end up being listed in an episode.

  6. @Jim: I say go for ads on the site and advertising yours on others. And you should also look into that tip-jar; as that will probably generate revenue the fastest.

  7. It existed before Wikipedia as well, but in this case I wanted to invoke the specific definition, and upon reading both articles you will see that the wikipedia version is less specific and more broad.

  8. Ooops, pardon me! I knew when I pointed at Wikipedia, you might say something like that. Personally, I couldn’t be bothered to read the TV Tropes entry, since I find the site such a big, frikkin’, pedantic bore.

    But I’m pretty sure that there’s really only one specific meaning for “Deus Ex Machina”, within the literary context with which we’d begun. And I’m going to avoid pedantry by not explaining it here. If anyone else wants to know what the heck we’re talking about (and really, it’s okay if you don’t know or don’t want to — we’re just being snobs, Pango and I) I sincerely hope you don’t get your information from TV Tropes. You won’t be getting the whole picture (just the part that glows through the boob tube).

    Hg

  9. One last thing about Tv Tropes, to be fair, though they started as such, they have evolved to include tropes found in everything from Literature to Games, to Real Life.

    As with anything though, you should remember to cross reference.

  10. Whatever one might think of TV Tropes, I’m happy that someone put my story up there and that people add tropes to it. Of the sites that link to this story, TV Tropes is one of the best in terms of people checking out the site and then staying to read.

  11. Actually, Jim, I found your site through Wikipedia.org. Under the webserial article, they listed some notables, and yours and Agent Aeolus were the only ones I even found remotely interesting. But that’s just my taste.

    Oh, yeah, it was me who added it to TV Tropes. Besides the fact that it fits, I figure it’ll help with the traffic.

  12. That’s interesting. Thanks.

    You know what’s funny? I added Legion of Nothing to Wikipedia myself (where appropriate) and then got some very good traffic out of it up until they deliberately removed the specific list of serials. Now all they list is Web Fiction Guide and a couple other listing sites (which is okay…).

  13. One big mistake they made was not goinv after the squishy cold cash first. Hes fragile and jac could have taken him out instantly

  14. Well, it could be worse. At least Sean’s only mugging for the cameras and not going full on bad guy for NO REASON. (Man-machine was bad enough)

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