Under 30: Part 9

Vaughn leaned back from the table and thought about it. “I can’t think of a single way I’ve been influenced.”

“Not noticing is the whole point of influencing somebody,” Rachel began.

I interrupted her.

“My theory goes like this. Evil Beatnik can influence people that might be vulnerable to possession. We’re all under thirty, but those of us who are anti-authority, and who are, or at least try to be cool, are most vulnerable.

“Rachel knows he’s influenced her to do at least one thing, and if you think about it, she fits the profile. My guess is that of everyone else, Vaughn’s the most vulnerable.”

“What happened to Rachel?” Vaughn spoke more loudly than normal. From the expression on his face, I doubted he believed me.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Rachel said. “Let’s just say I could tell it wasn’t me behind what I wanted to do.”

Vaughn frowned for a second, and then his eyes widened.

“You fucked Lucas? That ought to clear up a few worries. He’s dated a little, but people’ve always wondered if he was gay.”

“I did not fuck Lucas. I almost fucked Lucas, and if he’s not interested in women, he does a great imitation.”

“Wait, you blueballed him? That’s hilarious.”

“Can we move this conversation away from my sex life, and back to Evil Beatnik?”

“Seconded,” Jaclyn said, “If there’s a line between what we need to know, and too much information, we just went over it.”

“Right,” I said. “What we know about him from the reports is he’s not a killer or anything. All he wants is confusion. So he gathers people up and uses them to create confusion by breaking rules, screwing up how society works, and sometimes by taking over policital protests.”

Marcus picked up the reports again. “Don’t forget the sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Well, except in the ‘50’s. Then it was sex, drugs, and jazz. Did you notice that he took over bands and musicians a lot?”

“That did happen a few times,” I said.

Marcus held up his hand with fingers outstretched. “Five times in what I’ve read so far.”

Vaughn shook his head. “I’m not saying we should leave him alone, but if he’s the spirit of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, that’s not so bad. Well, except for the drugs, I guess, but political protests? They’re good, right? Sometimes that’s the only way things change.”

Jaclyn spoke practically the second he stopped talking. “My grandpa said you could always tell the protests Evil Beatnik was at from the ones he wasn’t at by the fires and the rioting.”

“Oh,” Vaughn said. “Now that you mention it, I kind of remember that from the reports.”

“Exactly,” Rachel said, “and the original League only ever got rid of him by taking out his followers, and revealing who he was possessing. After that, he’d disappear. Well, except when they managed to find the person he was possessing, and take the ring.”

“And that only worked once they were all over thirty,” Marcus said. “If they grabbed it before that, they got possessed. How are we going to avoid that? When they fought him in their twenties, he messed with their heads constantly, and it’ll be the same with us now. Plus, if Nick’s right, you and Vaughn could turn at any time.”

“This drives me crazy,” Vaughn said. “I’ve been around for almost a year, and you still don’t trust me?”

He pushed his chair away from the table and stood up. “I get sick of people assuming I’m my grandfather come back. I get sick of my parents bringing up my drug problems all the time, but you guys? You ought to know better. That’s why you think Beatnik’s got his hooks in me, right?”

None of us said anything.

“Well, fuck that, I’m going home.”

He walked toward the elevator.

I said, “Vaughn, wait a second.” Everyone else started talking too.

Jaclyn blurred, and the next time I saw her, her chair was empty and she stood directly in front of Vaughn.

“No one thinks you’re your grandfather,” she said. “We think you’re a little more at risk of being affected than the rest of us, but we’re all at risk. That’s the problem.”

Bluish-white sparks ran the length of Vaughn’s hands.

“Get real,” Jaclyn said. “You know that’s not going to work.”

The sparks stopped.

Vaughn turned his head back toward the rest of us. He looked a little dazed.

“Shit. You’re right.”

19 thoughts on “Under 30: Part 9”

  1. Dang. Zapping her then getting slapped would have been funny.

    I’ve also realised that I’ve created voices for most of the characters in my head…but I have no bead on Marcus at all. Need more of him!

  2. “Can we move this conversation away from my sex life, and back to Evil Beatnik?”

    “Seconded,” Jaclyn said, “If there’s a line between what we need to know, and too much information, we just went over it.”
    I could stand to hear a little more 😉
    *tumbleweed rolls past* On the other hand that would take time away from the awesome and hilarious story going on lol.

  3. Silas is so right. I can’t hear their voices per se, but each time these kids talk I feel like more and more I’m sitting on the League HQ sofa watching real kids talk.

    I mean really, their discussing how to take down a disembodied Hippie, and yet they sound EXACTLY like people I have conversations with everyday.

    Jim, I have to point out, although I’m hardly alone in this; LON’s GREATEST selling point is how you seamlessly weave the utter ridiculous into the utterly commonplace. I mean, a lot of fiction, expectedly, deals with the fantastic and where they go wrong is that they make a big deal of it. It’s almost like: Alert, alert – we’re discussing the fantastic, in case you missed it.

    But you…you literally suspend disbelief to a point where….I, at least, have had to go back to earlier serials and say “Wow, he really did say that.”

    Examples, I forget his name, but the former supervillain who was now a self-help author. The secret agency guy who blithely recounted the many times he’d killed alternate versions of himself (way to go Robert Rodgers). Or the way in which you introduce Freakin’ Amelia Earheart. >>I”m Amelia Earheart. – Yeah right. – Fine, I’m the bitch that’s here to fix this<<

    I mean it really doesn't get better than this.

  4. Oh, and while we’re on the subject….A villain who’s really just a disembodied Hippie????

    A criminal organization that seems to be run by accountants and….Mecha pilots???

    A Confederate supervillain?????

    A group of undead zombies as super, er…super(anti)heroes??

    A shape-shifting karate instructor that’s a retired world destroyer????

    Do you just sit down and think this stuff up?

  5. @ Bill

    “A group of undead zombies as super, er…super(anti)heroes??”

    I don’t remember that part. Which chapter is that?

  6. @Bill..speaking for all the accountants every bureaucrat, legislatures and assorted paper pushers out there they do Rule the World.

  7. Luke: That was at the end of “In the Public Eye.” Back when they were in the mayor’s house, Vengeance appeared with “The Hangmen,” a group of zombies. They used their nooses (normally hung around their necks) to catch people–kind of a weird zombie/Western mashup idea.

    SilasCova: Marcus hasn’t appeared much. That’s one of the things I want to change.

    Bill: Thanks. Dialogue is one of the things I want to get better at (among other things). As for the occasional bits of weirdness… Some are intentionally weird. Others just seemed like good ideas at the time, but in retrospect seem stranger (though not in a bad way).

    Incidentally, Amelia Earhart is all Robert’s too (which yes, is wonderful stuff).

    Kyle: There were ideas I had for this discussion that seemed funny and would have increased the awkwardness for all, but I didn’t want this conversation to take over the story… With luck, they’ll reappear later.

  8. I find it hilarious how they’re all so well under the Evil Beatnik’s influence they can actually say out loud that they can’t get the ring because of their age, and STILL fail to consider giving someone older a ring. Say, Larry or someone like that.

  9. >>Speaking for all the accountants every bureaucrat, legislatures and assorted paper pushers out there they do Rule the World.<<

    So Jim, do we get an appearance of the Dastardly Accountator and his Purcharse Orders of Death?

  10. The Dastardly Accountator and his Purcharse Orders of Death!!! Frustrating and driving his enemies crazy with a mountain of mind numbing paper work, and convoluted policies and proceedures.

  11. @Mycroft
    Thank you sir! I could never remember where i knew that line from.

    “The hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne!”
    Me needs to rewatch Firefly 😀

  12. You know, these new supervillains they’re facing could be a band. And going back to Nick’s reliance on his laser guitar, well, that IS in the form of a musical instrument. And can’t it actually play a little?

    Considering Syndicate L, you don’t need a stereotypical supervillain take on a powerful accountant. Look at the Yakuza. So darn invested in the big companies through legitimate means and via extortion (It’d be a shame if something were to happen to this lovely store here…) that they’ve got enough power to tank the Japanese stock market. And that’s just the guys who don’t run around in masks getting killed by a woman in a yellow jumpsuit.

    *sips on a now-warm Corona* I’ll be in my bunk.

  13. >>*sips on a now-warm Corona*<<

    *Rocket Bill's falls from the sky and lands next to The Gecko. With one fluid motion he snatches the Corona out of his hand. Momentarily upset, the Gecko's relaxes when Bill uses the insta-chiller to refrost his beer. He then dispenses his own from beer from his suit. Just as the two are about to drink there is a beeping yellow alert on their league belts. The Mighty Z is transmitting an alert…*

    Mighty Z: Guys, we've got a problem.

    Gecko: Go ahead, Z.

    *Before Mighty Z can speak, another mysterious figure grabs the trasmitter.*

    The Dastardly Accountator: HA FOOLS! Jim will never make it. He'll be dead before you can save him.

    Bill: How the hell do you know his secret identity??

    Accountator: PAPERWORK rulez, sucka! Bet you forgot about the registration and fees for the domain name for the website for that stupid webserial of his. *Laughs manically* "Legion of Nothing", what kind of dumb name for a story is that anyway??

    Gecko: We're gonna kick your ass, you hopped up clerk with delusions of grandeur.

    Accountator: Before or after you answer the 1,2134,634 page inquiry I filed on you for copyright infringement??

    *Gecko and Rocket Bill look at each other confused*

    Accountator: Your name, Psycho Gecko. I ratted you out to Geico, the insurance people. They say your name is too similar.

    Gecko: YOU SON OF A BITCH!

    Accountator: By the time you deal with it, Jim here will be nothing but a pile of ash in Flint. HA HA HA HA !!!!!

    Might Z: (muffled) Guys! Don't worry about me. Save yourselves……

    Accountator: Shut up! *punches Jim and shuts off the transmission*.

    Bill: That dude needs to die.

    Gecko: For real!

  14. Bah, if Geico thinks the name’s so similar, they can take it up with the gecko species out there. Besides, thanks to convenient EULA tiny print, my name is copyrighted to NCSoft or Paragon Studios or whoever. I didn’t read it, ok?

    Plus, I’m a supervillain. And I’m out! Meaning I too know the legal system! And it’s commonly accepted that laws can be broken in order to prevent a greater crime from occuring. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a court date to miss. I’ll just let the insurance company fight it out with the video game developer. Yeah, that’ll look good on Geico’s resume when hoping for young people to take out policies…

  15. …what? Supervillains like superhero stories too.

    It helps us to know what they’re thinking *evil smile*

    The Legion must go on.

    Quick, Duck-Bill the Platypus, we must save Jim. For Great Justice!

  16. Vaughn’s dialogue is a great example of how even the “socially extroverty” folks can really put their foot in their mouth.

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