Uncontrolled Substances: Part 1

In fairness to Sean, he didn’t try to claim credit for taking them out. He didn’t have to. The cameras lied.

Good visuals are crack for news crews. Explaining that Daniel mentally blasted Spike and Skewer into unconsciousness is hard to show on screen. Bashing them together in the air looked great even if it didn’t do anything to them.

Not that Sean got all the credit. Punching people into walls also made for great footage — as did shots of Jaclyn and I shattering the ice around us, or Vaughn blasting Payback with a lightning bolt.

Cassie and Haley barely appeared except on those stations that ran the fight straight through.

Another reason Sean got more public exposure had to be his completely public identity. News crews stopped by his house after the fight. He must have done five interviews that night.

All of which meant that by the time school came around the next day, everyone had heard his side of the story and wanted more.

Crowds surrounded him at lunch and in the hallways between classes. It seemed like I could hear his voice everywhere I went.

Stuck behind the cluster of people surrounding him, I had no choice but listen while he recounted what happened the night before. Echoing what he’d said in more than one interview he said, “I don’t really believe in secret identities. Heroes ought to say who they are instead of being anonymous. We should have to follow the same rules as everyone else. That’s the great thing about the juice. It allows anyone to be a superhero, not just an elite few.”

And that, of course, was total garbage. Whether ten thousand people have powers or thirty thousand, it’s still a vanishingly small percentage of six billion.

The people around him lapped it up. Sean didn’t even get that kind of attention before he got kicked off the basketball team.

For me, it made for a long day.

Whether or not it was true, I felt like half of the school was watching me. Everyone knew about our fight.

During lunch, I thought I heard someone wonder what Sean was going to do about me now.

I wondered myself.

I didn’t worry to the point of being constantly distracted in class, but it passed through my mind.

When the bell rang at three, I walked to my locker with relief. With the school day over, my life was my own — except that it wasn’t really. I had to go to Lee’s studio so that the new League could learn to create organized mayhem instead of disorganized mayhem.

While I started putting my books into my backpack, I heard a relaxed, low voice next to me say, “Nick, let’s talk.”

Dayton leaned on a locker just to my right. Flecks of rust and tan paint fell on to his blue letter jacket and from there to the floor.

I stood eye level with his shoulder. His biceps were almost as thick as my thighs. I’d successfully taken him down last time, but I didn’t feel like testing if I could go two for two.

I looked up toward his face. “Hi.”

“So… uh… You’ve been training in the martial arts, right?”

Trying to figure out where this was going, I said, “Yeah.”

Dayton gave a nod and a small smile. “I noticed that when you… beat all three of us. What style do you use?”

“No style. Have you ever heard of Jeet Kune Do?”

Dayton shook his head.

“That’s Bruce Lee’s style. It’s not the one I’m learning, but it’s similar because like Jeet Kune Do, it’s not a style. It’s just a philosophy. My teacher’s way of thinking is that you take anything that works.”

Including automatic weapons, but I didn’t mention that.

“Got it,” Dayton said. “I’m looking for something like that. You didn’t see it on TV, but I was at that fight with Sean and the Heroes League. When I take the juice, I’ve got total control of my body and total access to all my memories. So if I watch a martial arts movie, I can do anything they did, but only until the juice wears off. I’m thinking that if I train in some martial art, I’ll be able to pull stuff out of my brain that I never even knew I learned.”

That sounded possible.

“I go to the Grand Lake Martial Arts Academy, but you probably won’t get my teacher. He’s a jazz musician, so he spends a lot of time touring.”

That’s what the bio on the Academy’s website said anyway. It left out the possibility that Lee might be a dragon, supernatural horror or lost god.

“Are the other teachers good?”

“I don’t know. I’ve only worked with him. If you don’t like the other guys though, there’s a bunch of studios in town.”

“Right, I should look around. Man, it would be a much cooler power if all of the benefits didn’t fade after a couple hours.”

With the hall now mostly empty, Sean, finally alone, walked up and stood next to him.

“Dayton, we’ve got to go.”

He looked down at me. “Nick, if you’re wondering what I’m going to do next, forget it. It was one stupid fight. I’ve got bigger things to worry about now.”

The lockers rattled as they walked away.

24 thoughts on “Uncontrolled Substances: Part 1”

  1. one small typo, JZ — you need to add “you” to “if don’t like the others” when they talked about other martial arts teachers. 🙂

    Otherwise — interesting chapter. Sean’s enjoying his fame, wonder how far he’ll take it. I’m sure he’ll attract some attention from more powerful people for being out in the open.

  2. Interesting to find out more about Dayton’s powers, we’ve seen powers like that before, but it’s rarely used, and almost never used by a main character (not that he’s really a MAIN character). I wonder if his powers would counter-act any sort of psychic memory wiping that could be done to him.

  3. 10 out of 10; again!

    Sean’s reassurance to Nick that it was ‘just one little fight’ doesn’t hold not even 2 ounces of water to me.

    He’s proven himself a little egomaniac, it’s not hard to see him decide that Haley is still “his” and that Nick needs to go. He did try to get a little ‘fresh’ with her that one time, so….

  4. Cool! I’ve not been very diligent in my readings lately and let the story lapse for a few weeks. Now that I’m back I have no idea why I stopped dropping by every day to see if you had updated. That blast of updates all in a row has just made me want to start visiting every day again! Keep up the awesome story telling!

  5. Pyroarcher: Glad you’re back. I’d wondered.

    Pangoria: An interesting question. One I hadn’t considered when coming up with Dayton’s powers. I’ve thought it through now though.

    Bill: Obviously I’m not going to comment on that, but given Sean’s situation, he could either get a better perspective on life or get worse…

  6. ;tentatively puts their hand out to shake Pyro’s.


    @Jim: Also, if Dayton tries to learn how to fire guns from watching movies, he’s in for a shock, alot of them hold the guns incorrectly, and you could get a broken thumb due to recoil from imitating most movies, not to mention how horrible the accuracy is of holding a gun sideways in an effort to be “cool”. I guess as he put it, he’s sticking to martial arts? He could easily study how to fly a helicopter, drive, etc etc., and I wouldn’t put it past him to get perfect SAT scores.

  7. @ Pangoria: Dude, you’re SOO right!

    I went to a shooting range once and actually was taught the proper way to fire a handgun.

    Forget about hurting your thumb, if you try these hip-hop video crap stunts using more serious firepower like a Glock for instance, you’ll probably burn your face, or break an arm, or shatter an elbow, etc, etc.

    Even with martial arts, if you emulate the movies, you can seriously f– yourself up.

    And don’t forget, the effects wear off. Something tells me that if you don’t actually study and learn something the old-fashioned way, you’ll have a situation where you’re in a fight and suddenly you can’t remember how to block a roundhouse kick. And that could prove…unfortunate.

  8. “I’ve thought it through now though.”

    What an excellent example of how screwy English-language pronunciation really is! It’s really tough!

    (Did you see that? Where I put the other word with -ough that has another pronunciation, and that looks almost like the other three? Huh? Did ya? Huh?)


  9. Hg: Even as I wrote that sentence I thought, “Do I really want to write a sentence that includes three words that are virtually the same?”

    I decided I might as well.

    Learning from movies: I was fairly serious about training in Tae Kwon Do when I watched the original Batman movie and was amused and annoyed to notice that Batman apparently knew only two types of kick.

    While I couldn’t realistically expect Michael Keaton to become a martial artist, the lack of variety distracted me.

  10. I loved Michael Keaton’s Batman over any other Batman. Clooney had potential but I found the nipples distracting.

    (Adam West was funny, if you like camp. I also enjoyed the Batman animated series, it was gritty and cool.)

  11. I’m not sure which is my favorite of the various versions of Batman. I remember watching the TV show in syndication when I was too young to realize it was campy. It enjoyed it at the time.

    I like the current Batman quite a bit. I enjoyed Keaton’s too though Michael Keaton always seemed like an odd choice to me.

    I never did see one with Clooney and thus didn’t have the opportunity to find the nipples horrifying (as many people apparently do).

    I didn’t watch the animated Batman often, but what I did see of it, I enjoyed. It was better than I would have predicted by far.

  12. Keaton was a funny choice in that he was known for his comedies. However, he is a much better actor than anyone gives him credit for, and quite the chameleon.

    I like Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne. His Batman is a bit barking dog for me. Clooney and Kilmer’s Batmen movies aren’t really worth watching, so you’re better off not knowing. The nipples actually weren’t much of a problem. They were just really campy movies, and while I liked the original series as a kid, it didn’t work as a teenager.

  13. I think the thing to keep in mind here is to remember who was directing these movies.

    It’s true, everybody was like “Huh?” when they cast Keaton. And he absolutely pwned the role as Batman AND Bruce Wayne.

    Kilmer and Clooney would’ve been just as good, but alas they fell victim to Joel Schumacher’s inane direction and silly plotlines. Consider Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark. Once again, Jon Favreau’s directing, along with a script that actually made sense equalled a great performance.

    Likewise, I scratched my head when they cast Bale, but he did a good job too, once again he had an able director in Chris Nolan. (He really does have to work on his Batman, his Bruce Wayne is on point).

  14. Speaking of the Tim Burton directing Batman movies, the casting was truly inspired.

    Forget about Nicholson’s definitive Joker (well, definitive until Heath Ledger came along); I say Danny DeVito as the Penguin is THE BEST performance in ANY Batman movie. Closely followed by Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.

    I mean, yeah, she was always cute. But I didn’t think she could do sweet, vulnerable, bitchy, and super sexy, AND kick ass.

  15. I will say I really enjoyed DeVito’s Penguin, too. And the scene at the end, with the giant penguins? That had the potential to be one of the stupidest scenes on all of movie-dom, but in fact came off as almost regal, and almost poignant. (Almost, because they WERE giant penguins, after all.) I would say that Tim and Danny working together throughout the movie were what made that scene work at all.


  16. DeVito as the Penguin? Better than either Joker? Really?

    I ranked them like this:

    Joker (Ledger.Nicholson)


    new Two Face (Thomas Jane?)
    Rah’s al Ghul

    Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, old Two Face (Tommy Lee Jones)

    I mean, DeVito did pretty good with what he had to work with. But the whole movie could have been Batman and Catwoman and I would have liked it better.

  17. @Hg: Dude, YES!

    “Burn, baby! Burn!” Danny DeVito deserved a Golden Globe for that performance.

    Liam Neeson as Rhahs, Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow, DO NOT surpass DeVito’s Penguin.

  18. Liam Neeson was great — more Jedi than he ever was in Phantom Menace, he did a great job of mentoring Bruce into Batman and then being his first real villain.

    And Murphy was creepy! Considering he was really a minor character, he did well with what scenes he had. Way better than Riddler, Freeze, or Poison Ivy, who had more scenes.

    And I’m sorry, the Penguin came across to me as the cheesiest part of Batman Returns. I found a lot of his dialogue obvious and derivative and not very engaging. Every time Catwoman wasn’t in a scene, I wanted her to come back.

    (Similarly, I was bored whenever the Joker wasn’t around in Dark Knight — not because the Two-Face plot was boring, but because Joker was that awesome. Everything else paled in comparison)

  19. Sean at least trying to not be a total and utter unredeemable jerk is pretty nice to see, actually.
    Now, he might kick Nick’s ass the next minute — but, really? He’s not a shadow type, he’s just a jock.

  20. “I’ve got bigger things to worry about” [rattles lockers conspicuously with super powers]

    Nice sentiment, Sean, but you kind of ruined it by shaking things up at the end.

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