Targets: Part 10

“I’m going to take it and let everyone listen,” Daniel continued.

He clicked a few buttons on his keyboard, and the view from his monitor appeared on the big screen, covering most of the wall.

The switchboard program showed a list of callers (ten reporters in the last five minutes) and voicemails, followed by information about the current caller. This amounted to:

Caller: Unknown
FBI Notified. Tracing…

Daniel answered, “This is the Mystic.”

Ray’s voice filled the room. “The Mystic. You weren’t around for Christmas. I got caught by a bunch of teenagers, but none of them were called the Mystic. It’s not much, but it’s something to be grateful for.”

Daniel’s voice stayed calm. “That could change.”

“It could, but I’m not counting on it. This time I planned it out. I’ve got something you’ll want back. Say a few words, Mr. and Mrs. McAllister…”

The scream in the background sounded a lot like Haley’s mom. A voice that had to be Haley’s dad got out, “Damn you–” before being silenced.

“Those bastards,” Travis began, and his body changed. Hands and feet turned to claws, and his muscles, which were intimidating normally, became larger and more defined.

Something in his chair cracked. I couldn’t see what.

Next to me, Haley took deep breaths. Her muscles strained, but didn’t change.

I felt like I should do something, put my arm around her shoulder maybe, but at that moment, touching her without warning didn’t seem like a good idea.

“Now, I don’t know for sure how they’re connected with the League, but I’ve got my suspicions. Nothing I could prove in a court of law, but I’m not a lawyer, so that’s not a problem. If I’m right, they’ve got a son and a daughter, and the daughter’s got a boyfriend. He and I chatted for a little while.

“You know what’s interesting? Night Cat’s also got a boyfriend. She’s going out with the Rocket. Don’t you love coincidences? I know I do. They make my job easier. Now if she’s not some kind of two timing slut, it’s going to be the same guy, and today I found out his name.

“It wasn’t much work to find out where he lived, or who his parents were. In case you’re wondering, no, we haven’t collected them yet. I don’t think we’ll need to.

“We’ve got Justice Fist. We’ve got the McAllisters. And, we’ve got some wonderful leads, but I think we’ve got enough hostages. See when I talked to Nick, I got the impression that he was a good kid. Good kids don’t let their girlfriend’s parents get shot in the head, and they don’t let other kids’ parents get shot in the head either.”

Daniel’s face hardened. His mouth became a thin line. “That’s sick. What kind of monster are you? They never–”

“I’m a monster who’s getting paid.”

“That’s worse–”

“Don’t interrupt me, or you could find your own family on my list.”

Daniel opened his mouth as if he were about to talk, but he didn’t. I don’t know why he stopped, but I know I wanted him to.

“Good. Now here’s what I want Nick to do. I want him to show up downtown, corner of Fulton And Sikes. Once he shows up we’ll contact him, and tell him what happens next. A couple things about that–no Rocket suit, no guitar, no equipment. Tonight he’s an ordinary kid. Now as for the rest of your team. Stay out of it. We know how to deal with you. If you doubt that, check out our kill list on Double V.”

“What’s going to happen to him?”

“Nothing much. We want to talk with him. After we talk, we’ll let everybody go, but that’s only if he shows up within an hour, starting now. If he doesn’t show, we’ll execute the hostages, one every ten minutes. When we run out, we’ll move on to his parents. Got it?”

“I’ve got it.”

“Remind him not to be late.”

26 thoughts on “Targets: Part 10”

  1. erk um wow tough situation… of course one offing the head of the hero’s league and then moving on seems quite possible too.

    Will Nick trust Ray to show up as demanded? Will Daniel try his look for biggest threat to city and instead use it on a person ( can that even be done?).

    They already know Ray was working with Prime guys ( who nearly got them just a few minutes ago ).

  2. That’s why you always get your telepathic buddy to delve in the minds of bad guys and scour them of things that should not be there.
    You don’t want to kill? Fine. But not making sure they no longer have the skills required to harm others is criminal negligence. If every villain had their memory of combat, espionage, power use and contacts skills obliterated, it would take them years, even decades to learn again, even if they managed to get out of prison.

    And why not surgically implant a miniaturized detonator/tracer in a captive supervillain’s brain? If they try to escape, instant BBQ. As a secondary antiescape measure, an engineered nanovirus also helps; you infect the bad guy with it and then, as long as he is in prison, put the antidote in his food. He escapes? He dies.

    As for hostage situations, always refuse to pick up the phone. They aren’t going to kill the hostage before they give their demans and if you don’t pick up, they’ll have to find other, more public means to contact you (such as an ultimatum through the media). You get more time to find them AND they got to use less secure communication that can be more easily tracked.

    For secret identities, the best thing you can do is remove your mask on live TV… after you have disguised your face, of course. Claim that you do not have a normal life at all. Even if supervillains don’t believe you, the face they’ll have seen will be different than your everyday face and that might throw them off a bit.
    As for your parents, once you start being a new generation of heroes, confide in them so they know to at least protect themselves. And then delete their old identities by setting up their own “deaths” and build them new identities altogether.

    Last but not least, prepare. Don’t frantically try to repair equipment or set up new plans at the last moment. Spend at least 3 hours of your day, every day, to build things even if you don’t need them. And once you stockpile inventions, don’t use everything; keep a lot of gadgets nobody knows of in reserve so they cannot prepare against them. Things you should invent must include;
    1) Communicators with the rest of your team that you don’t leave behind or turn off. Coordination is key.
    2) Hidden tracers in every team and family member. If kidnapped, you’ll know it and know where they are.
    3) Automatic production lines for things you use a lot – like surveillance equipment, gadgets and replaceable parts.
    4) Robotic doubles and weaponry. A rocket suit is good. A second suit for somebody else just in case you need to deny being the rocket is better. High-power energy rifles for your whole team is awesome.

  3. I’ve always kind of had this issue with the superhero genre… secret identities basically just aren’t reasonably doable in today’s world. Once you get a bit of media visibility you’ll have a bunch of people snooping the matter, ranging from the simply curious to homicidal villains and worse yet, journalists (it’s worse because the journalists will publish the info so that every homicidal villain knows without needing to look into it).
    People will look into where you appear, when you appear, who called in sick when you got wounded fighting Dr. Villain’s death robots, who is that girl your nemesis takes hostage to REALLY get your goat etc. etc. Sooner or later, it positively will be found out. The only real defense against this is, as I see it, to simply have no real identity. No family, no friends, no job, live on the street or a cabin in the woods, no ID since you faked the death of whoever you were before. Even if someone does find you it means nothing since you’re basically just a superpowered hobo with nothing to lose.

    Of course, this cuts out a lot of the juicy drama so it’s a lot more interesting to spread a bit of the suspension of disbelief – already being spent in plenty on believing superpeople in spandex – to allow a chance to be both a hero and a person.

  4. Hmmmm, @Belial666 and @Mazzon….

    All of that is wonderfully rational, but humans (super or otherwise) are rarely so. I can’t argue with your logic (well, I could, but that’s not the point here), but unfortunately, logic is a lot like hindsight — it’s pretty powerful after the fact, but not always available in realtime.

    Oh, what the heck, I can’t resist a little arguing, so @Belial666:

    “they’ll have to find other, more public means to contact you (such as an ultimatum through the media)”

    This isn’t necessarily a safe move — that “more public means” could be a video sent to the media that includes footage of one or more hostages being tortured, maimed or killed. A frustrated bad guy is frequently an extra-nasty bad guy.


  5. Lots of not good there, even if Ray is true to his word Nick is outed as a suited hero. And can be dropped from any number of nasty things without his armor.

  6. How will Sean react to the news. Will he piece the puzzle togther that our intrepid mild mannered teenager is the rocket. The same person who busted out his kneecap…stay tune next time true believer for the exciting epsidoe of Legiooonnn of Nothinnnngggg

  7. Sorry, except, of course, if The Rocket isn’t Nick…

    And to paraphrase a little, someone should “Remind Jim not to be late.” 😉

  8. Belial’s point about memory has been brought up before, to some extent, in Identity Crisis. There, it is revealed that Dr. Light once snuck up into the Justice League’s headquarters why all were away but Sue Dibny, wife of Elastic Man. He raped her. Then the heroes showed back up, beat him, and Zatanna wiped his memory by saying something backwards. Convenient how her spells work that way. Then Batman showed up while they were doing so, so they had to wipe his memory. And there were other times, like when soem villains switched bodies. There goes the memory erasing.

    I’ve also had something to say about their inability to be prepared, and I think this is really getting out of hand.

    As for Nick’s identity being outed…I’m going to blame this all on Sean, for some reason.

    And finally…Ray made no mention whatsoever of a sister in the family. I feel this is important.

  9. That’s more memory of events. Removing memory of events is akin to putting someone on drugs as punishment for a crime – you are messing with his personality and ideas.

    Removing learned skills on the other hand is akin to putting somebody to prison; they would still remember what they did, that they wanted to do it and all the personality baggage that goes with that but they would no longer be able to do it. Think of it as “unlearning”, similar to losing the ability to play tennis on a high level due to lack of practice only a lot more so.

    It would be a method to immediately make a supervillain less dangerous by removing part of what makes him dangerous. He would still be an evil SOB but without the skills to back up his threat – at least until he relearned stuff.

  10. Also, after a later thought, any fight that results in the hero losing a little blood has the potential to get some DNA results that show who is who.

    To quote/paraphrase Amanda Waller, who lead DC’s Suicide Squad, “It wasn’t hard to find out Batman’s identity. He’s left DNA all over the city….Not like that.”

  11. With regards to hobbling villains, does anyone else remember what happened with Manchester Black? He’s come possibly the closest ever to permanently screwing up Superman’s life forever, all in retaliation for the big guy using his heat vision to cauterize MB’s brain through his retinas to disable his mental powers of telepathy and mind control. This is comic books. If you disable a villain like that, he’ll eventually get his powers back, or some other powers, and come back ten times as angry and a hundred times as focused on your death and destruction. Revenge does a lot for one’s determination and sense of purpose.

    Also, to cite memory-wipe incidents, when the X-Men first met The Blob, he was hanging out with a bunch of carnies, and they fought the X-Men. After team X won, Charlie used (with much mental hand-wringing — well, as much as you can fit into a couple of though bubbles on a single panel) his powers to delete the incident from the carnies’ minds, because they had figured out that the school in Westchester was actually the X-Men’s home base.

    And as for outing heroes, there’s always the possibility of a deal with Mephisto (or some other pseudo-palatable stand-in for the Devil) to alter reality so that no one knows who you are anymore. (I hope everyone knows what I’m talking about, but if they don’t, check out Spider-man’s “One Last Day”/”Brand New Day” stories.)

  12. It may well be that I’m alone with my opinion in this, but all this talk about tampering with people’s minds to cover up your identity or punish them or stop them from committing further crimes… Well, to me, the whole idea just has this nasty undertone of Evil, capitalization intended. Tampering with someone’s memory is like a combination of assault, rape (violation of person in a manner most grievous), theft (of experiences and knowledge), fraud, deprivation of such human rights as right to opinion, and also possibly murder, if the changes are substantial enough that it can be said that the person who was, is no more.
    To sum it up, just shoot them in the head. It might not be pretty, but it’s more humane.

  13. In fact, part of Nick’s problem with trying to protect his parents right now is that they “can’t” find out he’s doing LofN stuff thanks to their grandparents. If he told them what was up, they would just smile and ask if he’s planted the marigolds in the front yard yet and what he wants for supper.

  14. Hey, here’s a question I’ve been meaning to ask for some time;

    Why is this called “Legion of Nothing” ?

  15. @Belial666

    A few different reasons:

    1. A cultural in-joke:
    They’re basically a bunch of teenagers, and one stereotype of teenagers (and young children too) is that when parents ask them what they’ve been doing, they’re likely to say, “nothing”–especially when they’ve done something they’re not supposed to be doing.

    2. An attempt on my part to set the tone of the story:
    Often superhero stories have heroes a lot like Superman or Batman, the kind of people who have seen everything, done everything, and are unarguably tough, heroic characters. By contrast, what you’ve got here is kids who are feeling their way through things, who inherited everything from their grandparents, and who are basically living in the suburbs of a city in the Midwest of the United States. Unlike New York City, Los Angeles, or even Chicago, it’s not at the center of the culture.

    Some people in the US refer to the Midwest as “flyover country”–as in, the part of the country you fly over to get anywhere interesting.

    In short, “Legion of Nothing” is supposed to suggest the relative lack of confidence, and lack of purpose that they’ve got by comparison to the more “professional” heroes that live in places like NYC.

    3. The sound of the name:
    I wanted to have a name that evoked memories of the Golden Age of superhero comics. After thinking about it, I remembered “The Legion of Superheroes” and decided to twist the name a little to turn it from something potentially idealistic and inspiring to something a little more ambivalent.

    In retrospect, I suspect that that was a very postmodern move on my part.

    That being said, it’s interesting to compare the Legion of Superheroes with the Legion of Nothing. In both you’ve got a group of teenage superheroes. In Legion of Superheroes they’re in the future, and they protect civilized worlds from menaces. In Legion of Nothing, they’re in the present, and they mostly protect themselves–though Grand Lake gets some benefit out of them.

    Well, that was a long reply…

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