Under 30: Part 10

After Vaughn and Jaclyn sat down, we started to make a plan.

“At least we know how it’s been done before,” Jaclyn said. “Once we stop his followers and reveal who he’s possessing, he disappears. Hey, do you think we might be able to take the ring if we’re wearing gloves?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “it’s magic. Who knows what the rules are? When one of the Hangmen lassoed me with his noose, it didn’t paralyze me like it was supposed to, but with Evil Beatnik, it might go the other way. The original League surrounded the ring with concrete and bulletproof glass for a reason.”

Marcus nodded, “You know what Evil Beatnik reminds me of? Mr. Mxyzptlk in DC comics. The guy’s kind of like a genie? Superman had to get him to say his name backward to get him to go away. Too bad we can’t do the same thing with Evil Beatnik because he’s got an easier name. It’d be Kintaeb Live. That could almost be an album, you know? Or a band playing live? That’d work.”

Jaclyn gave him a look. “You are such a geek. I’ve never heard of him.”

“I thought everyone knew about Mr. Mxyzptlk,” I said.

“I think I’ve heard of him,” Vaughn said. He didn’t seem sure of it.

Marcus looked around the troup. “Wow. I always thought he was one of Superman’s better known villains.”

“Let’s talk about Evil Beatnik,” Rachel said. “So what does everyone think? Should we make finding Evil Beatnik our first priority, or taking out his followers?”

“I’d say both,” Jaclyn said. “He’s going to use all those other people to distract us. One or two of us ought to keep on searching for him no matter what. The rest of us should try to stop his people.”

“Not that there’s many people,” Vaughn said. “Nobody protests anything here anymore. All he’s got is those supers. He used to have armies of hippies. Heck, didn’t he used to have motorcyle gangs? Can’t do that now. Imagine what he’d get—I’m seeing a bunch of motorcycling emos wearing jackets saying, ‘Born to Mope’.”

“I’m sure there are still real motorcyle gangs,” I said.

“Not like there were,” Vaughn said.

I thought about asking him how he’d know, but didn’t.

Rachel sighed. “We’re getting off track again. Does everybody like Jaclyn’s suggestion?”

“Sure,” I said. “It makes sense.”

“As long as I’m not one of people looking for Evil Beatnik,” Vaughn said. “That’s gonna be boring.”

“It sounds fun to me,” Marcus said.

“We need to decide who then,” Jaclyn said. “Rachel? I think you’d be better than any of us.”

“I thought about it, but what if I am extra vulnerable and I find him first?”

“It ought to be me and Nick,” Marcus said. “Nick’s got the roachbots, and I can sneak into someplace more easily than you’d think.”

“That’s an idea,” I said. “But if you find the Ice Twins’ crew, we go with you, right? Otherwise it’ll be five on three.”

“We’re not going to be stupid about this, Nick,” Rachel said. “We’re only dividing up into groups while we look for people.”

She frowned. “You know, we should have invited Kayla. I keep forgetting she’s part of the team now.”

“Me too,” Jaclyn said.

* * *

Marcus and I got together the next day—Sunday afternoon. We hung out in my room. I pulled out a legal pad and a pen, and sat at my desk. He sat on the bed.

We were listing the places I ought to put roachbots, putting the emphasis on places where teens might be, and where we might see a protest. I’d already written down “government buildings,” and “the park downtown.”

“Schools,” Marcus said.

“It’s summer. No one’s in school.”

“Summer school.”

I thought a little, and wrote it down. “City pools?”

“That’s a good one. Have you put down the beach? You know how guys drive through the parking lot looking for women?”

“Yeah.”

“Plus,” Marcus said, “I’ve heard people sneak onto the beach and have parties at night.”

“I’ve heard that too.”

Both of our League phones rang. I pulled mine out of my pocket, and found that the screen showed a circle of yellow. The accompanying text message said. “Dixie Supergirl sighted at Grand Lake State Park. She’s giving away money.”

I clicked the spot on the screen where it said “Call HQ.” Kayla answered.

“What?”

She didn’t sound happy to hear from me.

“I just read the text. Dixie Supergirl’s giving away money?”

“That’s what it says. She’s throwing money to the crowd. If you want to catch her, you’d better go.”

The phone clicked, and the words, “Call ended” appeared.

I stared at it, and thought about calling her back. She hadn’t been rude exactly, but something was eating her. Even as I thought that, I remembered that we hadn’t invited her to the meeting.

Did she really need to be that short about it? I considered whether it might be Evil Beatnik’s influence. As one of the best female athletes in the school, Kayla was pretty well known, but it never translated into any special popularity. Plus, she tended to be, if anything, a hard worker who did whatever the teacher said—pretty much the exact opposite of what Evil Beatnik wanted.

So maybe she was just annoyed.

11 thoughts on “Under 30: Part 10”

  1. [expletive deleted], they’re going for a PR victory. Interrupting Daisy Duke while she’s giving away money is bound to cause only more trouble.

    And something seems familiar about Marcus’ knowledge of comic books and odd way of wedging them into the conversation. It reminds me perhaps of Kid Devil when he was on the Teen Titans and even scattered the action figures of various supers around his room. Robin referred to him as a walking batputer or justice league database or something.

    Or, who knows, maybe I’m thinking he sounds like someone else.

  2. I am finding it a little odd that there are still superhero comics around. In a world full of superheroes, would comics about made up superheroes be that popular and well known?

  3. we have had that conversation before and the argument ran that we have real police and FBI and CIA and yet we still have many television shows and novels surrounding their exploits. so yes probably there would be real superhero comics.

  4. “You know, we should have invited Kayla. I keep forgetting she’s part of the team now.”

    Hmm.
    My £5 is on Kayla as the current Beatnik host.
    They keep forgetting because beatnik makes it so?
    She would be perfectly placed to create the most havoc, and can hide in plain sight to spy on the league……..

  5. Poor Kayla Beatnik,,,, I mean Kayla. They could just show up in normal id’s and get some free cash from Dixiechick, and just watch her, that would be interesting too!

  6. @mystic Did you? I thought I read all the comments thoroughly. Missed that conversation!
    And I didn’t think about that, although I still kinda feel that superhero comics are in a different place to the various tv shows about police and CIA etc. But aye, good argument really.

  7. SilasCova: Just for the record, it’s partly author fiat–I’d like to be able to use our pop culture without having to change it and remember exactly how I did it.

    The other part is (as mentioned) the whole thing where we’ve got spies, police, and so on, but still have TV shows about them anyway. Or as PG put it: Archie Comics. We really actually have kids in real high schools, yet we still make comics about them…

    I’m justifying it (in my head at least) by figuring that while some superheroes are very visible in the celebrity sense, most are working in the shadows. Many people will (knowingly) see a superhero in person only a few times in their lives (at least close up). Thus there’s enough distance and mystery that comics still work as do blogs and TV shows that track supers obsessively.

    With any luck, I’ll get to let more of that show. Actually, I’m fairly sure I’ll get to. The characters will slowly get to interact more with people outside Grand Lake.

  8. …So, there were two guys who knew Mr. Mxyzptlk, and they put those two (now identified as geeks) in charge of finding Evil Beatnik? That’s kinda funny. 😛

    -So… do you know where people party?
    -I’m not really a party guy. You?
    -Me neither.
    -Oh.

  9. How offended will you guys be if I say that I had to google Archie Comics? 😛

    That makes sense though, with the real superheroes mostly working in the shadows. I’d guess thats mostly why there’s shows about CSI and so on, because the general public know they exist, the job sounds cool, but don’t really interact with it in their real lives. If that makes sense. So with them not really seeing real superheroes, fictional comics makes sense. Yeah 🙂
    Maybe it just seems off because the story is about the superheroes from their point of view, so it doesn’t really hit you that the common man, as it were, doesn’t generally see real superheroes at work.

    On an unrelated note, I just noticed you can stretch the comments box. Interesting 🙂

  10. It’s like merchandising as well. See a hero? Start using his likeness. After all, if it’s a secret identity, he can’t take them to court over it. Or even PR for the heroes, as is common in the comic series The Boys. Heroes work with an agency that hires writers and artists to do a series that paints some exploits in a better light or just makes up some better ones to make them look better.

    Heck, in Marvel comics, one of the day jobs held by Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, was as an artist working for Marvel Comics…on the comic book Captain America.

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