Under 30: Part 18

With Dixie Supergirl’s hearing, I hadn’t dared to turn on the roachbot’s rocket. I’d decided to wait until I thought it had a good chance to get away without being heard. That meant hanging on to her utility belt until she got back to their lair.


That makes it sound so much more dramatic, and ominous than it actually was.

The roachbot’s GPS unit had continually updated me with its position. Even though the bot’s camera had sent a continuous blurry mess, I’d easily placed it on the map.

She’d flown toward Grand Lake University at a speed just short of the speed of sound, and landed at a collection of buildings the computer identified as “Grand Lake View Apartments.”

The bot placed them at forty feet in the air.

She’d passed Destruction Boy over to the Ice Twins for medical help, and taken a shower.

I’d waited till she started showering, and then shot the roachbot down the hall near the ceiling, and set it down on the top of the vertical blinds in front of the balcony window.

By the time Jaclyn appeared, Destruction Boy was awake and talking. Not that he was saying much. Mostly he complained about how much he hurt. Mr. Madness had also appeared—out of costume. He wore a red, button down shirt and jeans, and could pass as twenty-something grad student at any university anywhere.

“Nick, put this up on the main screen, and give us sound. I bet they’re about to debrief.”

I did it, and Vaughn said, “Hey,” as it displaced the news he’d been watching. Then he got a roachbot’s eye view of the room. “Whoa. That’s cool. We’ve got them, and they have no idea.”

The apartment looked exactly like what it was—cheap housing near the university. Think off-white walls, tan carpet, and a slightly claustrophobic feel. Had we been there, I felt sure we’d be smelling mildew and a hint of old cigarettes.

Destruction Boy lay in the middle of the floor next to tools, the Ice Twins’ powered armor (each one stood upright), a few laptops, sleeping bags, and furniture that likely came from the Salvation Army.

By the time Dixie Supergirl came back, we were all watching—including Rachel who’d just gotten out of the showers, and Kayla who’d been handling calls in the lab.

Whatever her real name was, she didn’t seem as impressive out of costume. She still stood almost a head taller than the Ice Twins, and she still had muscles, but she didn’t stand out. I could imagine running into her in a class and not noticing anything special. She seemed studious somehow.

Maybe it was the glasses?

Vaughn stared at her, “Wasn’t Dixie Superman some kind of major racist? I’m not sure, but she doesn’t look—”

Jaclyn held a finger to her lips. “Later.”

On the screen, one of two twin blond girls stepped away from Destruction Boy. “All we heard from Scott,” she nodded toward Destruction Boy, “is that he got hurt. What happened?”

Dixie Supergirl started to talk, stopped, and tried a second time. “What were we trying to do? Because if all we were doing is making a mess, it was a complete success, but if we were trying to help anybody, it was a disaster. None of those people were political prisoners. They were thieves and idiots who thought they could drive when they could barely think straight. We’re not revolutionaries. We’re not changing any kind of system. He’s using us.”

Her voice started uncertain, but grew more confident as she talked.

“Relax,” the Ice Twin said, “it doesn’t matter, remember? All that’s important is the chaos. Get enough of it going, and he’ll have real power again, enough for all of us to get what we want.”

“I’m beginning to think that he doesn’t care what we want. I think the world needs a real change, but I don’t think he wants us to change the system. He wants us to destroy it without rebuilding a better one.”

“That’s ridiculous, Izzy.”

The other Ice Twin, the one that hadn’t gotten up said, “I think she’s right.”

From the couch, Mr. Madness said, “I don’t see where revolution fits in this at all. We’re getting paid. Once we’re done, I’m heading back to grad school, and that’s the end of it. So let’s get on with it. What’s the next mission?”

On the floor, Destruction Boy said, “So you can get a degree in Latin?”


“And read dead people. Talk about useless.”

Mr. Madness’ face whitened. “Grow up.”

Dixie Supergirl looked down at Destruction Boy, and over to Mr. Madness, “Evan? Scott? Shut up. That was old the first time.”

Someone knocked on the door, and everybody stiffened.

Dixie Supergirl stared at the door with her mouth slightly open.

The Ice Twin next to her said, “Everybody, relax. We’ve got a special visitor—our leader.”

She stepped across the room, and opened it.

21 thoughts on “Under 30: Part 18”

  1. Izzy Scott Evan but who are the ice twins? and seriously you had to end with the leader coming in without saying who it was? Seriously Jim!

  2. Honestly, I wasn’t sure sure how many names people could realistically absorb. That’s why I only put three into this post. The Ice Twins’ names will be in the next.

    As for why I didn’t mention who their leader was… I’d originally planned to, but as I wrote it, the final sentence with the leader’s name in it seemed less interesting than one without. I also felt like I’d have to do more than a sentence to be happy with what came next.

  3. Typo Report:

    “Dixie Supergirl looked down *and* Destruction Boy, and over to Mr. Madness”

    Probably ought to be ‘at’. Who needs editors when you have the internet? 😉

  4. I found an error (yay, go me, I normally fail to notice such).

    “I’m beginning to think that he doesn’t care we want.” – Needs a ‘what’ in there.

  5. And… the Typo Patrol is on high alert this time:

    “Destruction Boy lay in the in the middle of the floor next to tools”

    But a great episode, and there were a couple of little writerly things I really appreciated. (Technical stuff.)


  6. Hi, I haven’t commented in awhile, but I wanted to say that I’m still enjoying this story.

    I guess I could contribute by pointing out that it’s spelled “thieves,” not “theives.”

  7. Plus, I wanna point out that some basic thought is being suppressed here…they’re starting a revolution that they acknowledge might lead to total anarchy…but they’re ok with that because they’re getting paid and going to go back to college?

    You know, once the U.S. government goes down, paper money becomes worthless. “The full faith and credit of the U.S. government” kinda becomes a problem when the government is so radically changed or just done with. You think a college is going to stay open in that kind of case?

    On a tangent, a professor once tried to demonstrate the idea of private governments arising if anarchy occured. Like, where a protection company gets charged to save people, as opposed to the police, because for some reason the government and police no longer exist. And maybe a company handles fire issues. And over time, it just works out, he theorized. Unfortunately, class was over before I could point out, “Yeah, but what are they going to use for money?”

    Stay thirsty, my friends.

  8. Another sweet episode 🙂 Really needed a “dun dun daaah” at the end! Makes me think of the old movie serials my parents used to watch “a la Flash Gordon”. Nice work Jim

  9. @ Psycho Gecko
    As far as money not being worth anything after the fall, well, that depends on what exactly the fall entails. Paper money as a currency for trade may actually see an upswing in value.

    All forms of currency are really based on the fact that people believe they are worth something. Gold was used as a currency in ancient times because it was rare, and hard to fake (in addition to being pretty). If money becomes next to impossible to print, it could easily take up that ‘slot’ in a post apocolyptic economy.

    It is very usefull to have an easy to carry, easy to trade form of currency, as opposed to always carrying a dozen chickens around to barter with. Nothing says that it HAS to be our current green paper, but it’s already there, and we’re kinda lazy that way. Also, it’s harder to make change from a chicken.

  10. Perhaps you can blaim your spellings/typos/etc. on the Evil Beatnik???

    Oh Nick, you all are looking in the wrong place. It is worse than you imagined. He has not inhabited any of the story characters – he has managed to take over your author!

  11. Psycho Gecko/Luke: I can’t remember his name, but there was a sociologist in the late 19th century or maybe early 20th (both?) who studied money as a cultural object. One interesting thing about money is that even if it’s gold, it’s still something that requires a degree of trust–trust that this thing can be traded for objects or labor. Back when gold was the standard, I suppose it required less trust, but still required some. The monetary worth the coin didn’t always correlate exactly to the standard market price for the metal.

    Now it requires even more trust in some ways. Money is a counter. It represents how many artificial units that we think something’s worth. Without a government backing it, its worth become somewhat dicey.

    Notto: That would be disturbing. I’m trying not to imagine myself in a black beret…

    Lingy: It would be interesting to see a Flash Gordon movie serial. There was a local TV station that played things like that, but I don’t know if it still exists.

  12. Woohoo! Finally found you again. I’ve been following your work right untill my compy crashed (somewhere around the conclusion of the Rocket’s LA trip) and by the time I got around to replacing it, I couldn’t remember the site. Chanced upon it again a couple of weeks ago while surfing TVtropes and it took me this long to catch up.

    What a fun rollercoaster ride it was. LOVED it. Keep it up, Mistah J!

  13. Thanks. That would be quite a chunk to catch up on. I’m glad you made it to the current chapter.

    Actually, in some ways, that’s probably the best way to read it. Still, there’s something to be said for being up to date.

  14. @PG: Ummm, what about private banks, then? If you’ve got private companies handling fire and police services, why not money services as well?

    Oh wait — that’s how paper money and banks got started anyway, iirc…


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