Under 30: Part 5

“Yeah. That was in one of their last reports.” Vaughn said. “The one where they finally caught him. So what does ‘spirit of chaos’ mean exactly? Chaos powers? I can cause chaos without powers. Just ask my mom.”

“I don’t know,” Jaclyn said. “Grandpa told me he could make things happen, like just about anything happen, but the more it violated reality, the harder it was.”

“OK,” I said,”so what does he want?”

“That was in one of the early reports,” Haley said. ”The one where they first faced him. It seems like he… feeds off of kids rebelling? In the report, they found him leading some kind of secret poetry club at the high school. That’s a lame excuse of a rebellion even for the 1950’s. I almost hope he was sneaking them beer.”

“Right, I read the part about the secret poetry club, but missed where they found out what he wanted.”

“Hey,” Vaughn looked up from the pile of folders on the table. “That’s got to be how he got free. It’s James Dean… ‘Rebel Without a Cause’, right?”

He paused, thought for a moment. “Well, crap. I chose that movie.”

“One movie?” I shook my head. “I don’t know how magic works, but I think he’d need more than that.”

“No,” Vaughn said, his voice getting louder, “he’s had more than that. Think about it. Everyone’s been hiding this from their parents except Cassie and Daniel, and I’m sure they haven’t been telling them everything. My mom knows because she figured it out, but I’ve been hiding a lot. So think little bits of rebellion all year—fighting against the Mayor, the National Guard, plus hiding the Power Impregnator when you knew Isaac Lim wanted it, and all the adults we fought… That’s got to count.”

“So you’re figuring tonight pushed him over the edge?”

“Yeah,” Vaughn said, “unless he broke out earlier.”

My stomach sank. “I don’t even want to think about that. The last time I know he was here was when Haley and I went to the prom, but that’s not exactly an act of rebellion.”

Haley said. “No, that’s normal, but when I think about everything we did… They should have stored him in an old people’s home.”

“Yeah well,” Jaclyn said, “for the last thirty years HQ’s basically been an old people’s home. I think they mostly used it to watch sports on Monday nights. A bunch of old guys drinking beer and watching football isn’t the kind of rebellion he needs.”

“Grandpa and I were here a lot,” I said.

“Yeah,” Vaughn said, “but the closest you got to rebelling was probably handing your grandpa the wrong wrench.”

“That wouldn’t have been rebellion. That would have been a mistake.”

Vaughn shrugged. “The point stands.”

I decided to ignore the point. “Alright, so if we want to catch him, we need to find a bunch of kids rebelling against society or something? Where are we going to find that in Grand Lake?”

“No kidding,” Vaughn said. “The guy’d be better off in Ann Arbor. They protest anything there. Rachel told me once that she’d seen someone in the middle of campus protesting that there wasn’t anybody protesting anything. Hey, you know what he should do if he wants to eat? Go to the Middle East.”

“I’m pretty sure I read that he was U.S. only somehow.”

At the same time, Jaclyn said, “he can’t. He’s just a spirit right? Grandpa said he needs a person to possess. We’d notice if one of us just up and left.”

That sounded wrong to me, but I couldn’t say why. I’d read that he didn’t always need a body somewhere. I checked my monitor to find the spot.

At the same time, Haley shuffled through the papers before stopping halfway down the pile, and said, “No… One of the reports said that he could move around without a person for a little while. He needs to find someone who’s,“ she checked the page, “cool, uh… anti-establishment, and under thirty.” She looked up from the paper. “That’s what it says.”

Jaclyn stared at the paper in Haley’s hands. “I guess we’d better go home. One way or another, he could be anywhere in the city by now. From what my grandfather told me on the phone, we’d see something different if one of us took the ring, and everyone looked normal when they left. So no one had him. Plus, he might have escaped tonight, but he might have disappeared months ago. Let’s work on this tomorrow.”

* * *

I’d expected to sleep in the next morning, but I didn’t get to. My cellphone and my League phone started ringing. When they stopped, the landline phone in the hall started.

I opened my eyes. My alarm clock showed 7:23 am.

From the hall, my mom said, “Nick, someone named Kayla’s on the phone. Do you know her?”

I got out of bed, stumbled to the door, and opened it. “Yes. She’s a friend of Cassie’s.”

Mom handed me the phone.

“Nick,” Kayla said, “I’m sorry to call this early, but is it possible to send LSD through air vents? Because everyone on News 10 sounds really weird this morning.”

14 thoughts on “Under 30: Part 5”

  1. *reads on, a headband wrapped around the lower part of his sudden afro* Purple haze, all in my eyes, Evil Beatnik’s comin’ for you guys, he’ll have you blowin, blowin your mind, will he come tomorrow, or at the end of time?

  2. And now my head is filled with visions of super villains, wearing fluorescent baseball caps, yelling rad and skateboarding everywhere…..

    Why must Reality disappoint?

  3. Oh, I like this Evil Beatnik! Vastly entertaining — but then I always did love to see the rather ridiculous super-hero/villain taken seriously. A spirit of chaos — more potency and power than the name suggests. I’m reminded of “Kid” Boomerang earlier in this story, who turned out to be *very* impressive in combat despite the name….

    And speaking of taking the ridiculous seriously…I am an unabashed fan of the Legion of Substitute Heroes. When all you’ve got is a small power, what you learn to do with it is what counts, and when you succeed, there’s nothing ridiculous about it — as Mr. Geoff Johns understands so well.

    So as a Legion of Super-Heroes (and Subs) fan, I have to ask: Why the Legion of *Nothing*? Is it some sort of commentary on the immense power and size of the Legion? Is it a dig at commercial comic-books in general? Is it supposed to stress the casual, amateur nature of the team…or something else?

    Well done, and thank-you for sharing your work.
    Long Live the Legion

  4. Mazzon: That’s a relief. My goal was to have them learn about Evil Beatnik, but not have it be a boring infodump.

    PG: Are we hitting the Jimi Hendrix a little early today?

    Eli: Something I wrote or Psycho Gecko’s Jimi Hendrix rewrite?

    Josh: And that’s why we read fiction… Though sometimes reality’s pretty strange too. Someone I knew in college grew up in Ann Arbor, and really did notice someone protesting the lack of protests once.

    Barrendur: Kid Boomerang is in the Last Skull, but I agree, Robert did a great job with the character. What someone who’s actually from Australia would think of him, I don’t dare guess.

    As for Legion of Nothing’s name… I wanted to come up with something that hinted at the Golden Age past of the characters, so I deliberately borrowed a bit of the name, and combined it with something that sounded less heroic. It is partly because they’re doing this part time.

    It’s also partly because (at least the way I remember adolescence) it’s not very obvious that you’re going somewhere at the time. I know that I did a lot of things I found interesting, but didn’t have a particular purpose in mind. Thus, while the Legion of Super-Heroes stands for something, the characters in Legion of Nothing are still trying to figure things out.

    It’s also because I remember that kids and even teenagers often say, “Nothing,” when asked what they’ve been doing, and if you were a teenage superhero, I think you’d end up saying it a lot.

    It would be fun to say that “nothing” was some sort of philosophical commentary on the meaninglessness of existence and modern, suburban life, but it wouldn’t be true. I find my existence fairly meaningful.

  5. Kazorh: I was wondering if anyone would pick up on that reference.

    Thomas: He changes with the times. Evil Beatnik… Evil Hippie, Yippie, etc… He missed out on being Evil Goth Guy due to imprisonment. Evil Emo Dude is still a possibility, however.

  6. Barrendur knows what I’m talking about with Geoff Johns. No reason a guy like Captain Cold who dresses in a white and blue parka can’t be a badass. Before Brightest Day, during Blackest Night, when they found out that the dead were rising, they went after their own dead colleagues. Given what Nick has said he thinks about speedsters like Jaclyn or Hotfoot, it makes it a pretty big deal for a group of ridiculous looking, named, and powered villains to be able to elude the Flash. Heck, one time they broke one of their guys out of jail before the cell door was closed, when the guy had been personally carried there by the Flash.

    Just think about what massive groups of people under 30 defying authority can do, and I don’t just mean drugs or Woodstock. The right cyber attack could do terrible things for the economy. Plus, a fair number of soldiers would be under 30 as well. And they have those nice, shiny guns, training, and war experience.

    If they’re under 30, but older than high school, you’re even dealing with people who have middleman-style jobs. Like telephone sanitizers. As we all know, the wrong virus from an unsanitized telephone could wipe out the whole planet.

  7. I’d figure the army’s fairly safe, since isn’t military service pretty much the antithesis of rebelling against authority?

  8. Sure, military service probably doesn’t count as rebellion if you’re a member of the armed forces in good standing. So that just leaves those who were dishonorably discharged, the insubordinates, and those who are waiting on court-martial. That population is much smaller, but potentially much scarier.

  9. Oh please, please, please, pleeeeaaaaaasssseeeee…. let the Evil Beatnik rename himself as Evil Emo to keep up with the times. And if there’s any humour left in the world, please have a headline that mistypes it as Evil Elmo — or maybe an Onion article.

    Hg

  10. Hey, Onion articles have their own supervillains. Remember when the 70 ft. tall undead Osama Bin Laden emerged from the ocean to trample a few cities a few days after his death?

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