Orientation: Part 1

“And then what?” Haley asked.

We were sitting on my bed at home, backs to the wall, our legs next to each other.

“I don’t know. Isaac and Flick took him away. Isaac asked me some questions later, but he already seemed to know what happened.”

“What happened after they left? You said everyone was in the hall.”

“Well, not everyone. Izzy and Travis both have enhanced senses so I know how they found out, and I don’t know about anybody else. It wouldn’t surprise me if more people heard us than opened their doors. Sean was shouting part of the time, and I’m sure I was louder than usual. Anyway, by the time Isaac got up there, there were maybe eight people. I told you they detect power use somehow. I think they might have cameras in the hall too.”

“It doesn’t sound like they trust the students much.”

“I… think it’s more complicated than that. I mentioned that I was surprised they got up to where we were so quickly, and Isaac told me that the program had no tolerance for bullying. He said, ‘You’ve heard of bullied kids coming to school with a gun? Well, it’s as if every kid in the building has a gun—except for the ones with atomic bombs. Plus they’ve got friends. If the program turns this hotel into a smoking hole in the ground, the fallout will be so big that getting fired will be the least of my problems’.”

Haley’s eyes got a little bigger. “Oh, no. He’s right.”

“Yeah. I mean, if I got the jet, I could probably take out the hotel myself, and there are a bunch of people who could do it without any technology. They measured strength, and Travis can move 40 tons. Izzy and Jaclyn can both do more than 80. The device they brought isn’t accurate after 85 tons. It’s a very interesting device though—”

I started to explain why, and then stopped. Haley had an expression on her face that I’d slowly begun to recognize as the “please don’t explain that now” look.

“Anyway, I’d bet any of them could take out the hotel by themselves, and I know they’re not the only ones.”

“Is Sean out of the program?”

“I don’t think so. I saw him the next day. If he was out, I think they would have sent him home. Why?”

Haley pulled her legs up to her chest, and put her arms around them. “Don’t be mad. I still think Sean is a jerk, but I don’t want to see him kicked out if he doesn’t have to be.”

“I don’t want to see him kicked out either, but you know what’s weird? Isaac told me that if they can only have one of us in the program, it will be me. It’s really crazy that he’d say that. I mean, I could get Sean kicked out.”

“I don’t think he was promising to kick Sean out if you asked for it.”

“No, but still… After Sean tried to push you to go farther than you wanted, and after I fought him, he brought in lawyers and his dad’s friends. He made the school get me counseling, and his dad pushed the police into investigating you. Now it’s totally the opposite. He’s got no power over us at all, and there are lots of ways I could hurt him.”

She bit her lip. “What are you going to do?”

“Nothing. At least for now. I want to give him a chance, but honestly, I got pretty angry about it afterward. In the moment I didn’t feel much, but later it bugged me that he thought he had the right to terrorize me.”

“I know I said I didn’t want Sean to be kicked out, but if it looks like anything is going to happen, tell somebody, and watch out.”

“Don’t worry about it. I will. Daniel said the same thing, and I don’t think he’s going to let me go anywhere without him.”

Then because it had been on my mind, I asked, “What happened to you? I saw you sent a yellow to everybody, and then everything turned green later.”

“Oh that,” she smiled a little. “I was downtown with Sydney and Camille, and Kayla relayed that the police were having trouble with a lizard guy. He called himself Ridgeback–I’ve never heard of him–and he’d robbed a jewelry store. Anyway, we caught him. Sydney and I chased him down, and Camille turned off gravity around him, and made him float. He had a few normal people with him, but they weren’t hard to catch.”

“Ridgeback? That’s interesting. If he’s the guy I’m thinking of, he’s more of a mercenary. I’ve never heard of him stealing jewelry.”

“He wasn’t very good at it. He did it in the middle of the day, and overturned a bunch of cars. It was almost like he was trying to get attention.”

“Which would be dumb,” I said.

“I know.” She let go of her legs and stood up. “Do you want to go for a walk?”

“We could.”

My phone began to ring. I pulled it out of my pocket. I didn’t recognize the phone number.

Haley leaned over and glanced at the screen. “That’s Sean.”

24 thoughts on “Orientation: Part 1”

  1. Trying to get attention would be dumb for Ridgeback UNLESS he was being paid to do just that by someone with an interest in, say, bunches of young supers making appearances outside their known stomping grounds and possibly in company they’re not known to keep.
    Or if it’s a distraction.

    Failing to be paranoid with something like this seems like they’re seriously dropping the ball here. Possibly due to genre blindness.

  2. Yes, Ridgeback’s strategy reminds me of the events surrounding Spider-man’s near death at the hands of Deadpool in a Yo Mama contest. I tried my best to find the link for the rest of y’all, but for now I have failed.

  3. Yeah they had laserguy on a tryout thing, didn’t they? I’m pretty sure he had some low-level powers.

    What’s got me interested is the interest the stapledon guys are showing in the rocket. It could be they’ll use those four years of service having nick make a brand new set of goverment issue rocket suits. Or sonic guns, or laser rifles or whatever else the shady goverment departments want.

  4. @Fishface: Even if Nick won’t come work for the government, it’s been mentioned that the original Rocket did some gadgeteering for other capes as well. With that sort of thing in mind, a technologist is basically worth more than the heroing they do themself as they can improve the performance of others as well.

    Plus of course the same works on the villain side as well… Turn one tech guy to evil, and you get a dozen new villains with power armour, killer robots, test tube bred monsters etc. Pays to keep them close.

  5. Another important reason to keep Nick happy is the fact that the aliens owe him. The league as a group gets special privileges with regards to aliens that no one else on earth gets.

    Now then…ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, Psycho Gecko is proud to present to you a link I couldn’t find during the most terrible time of day, the morning…


    Yo mamageddon!

    And if you read it, you’ll see how it’s relevant. I’m not going to tell you why because you must read this. You must!

  6. @PG, if the next link isn’t to a Gecko original story, there’s going to be beef. You’ve been warned.

    @Mazzon: That is a pretty astute observation. But lemme ask you, in the supers sweepstakes, do you think that a telepath would actually be worth even more? I mean Nick can cook up stuff for thirty other supers. But Daniel could lobotomize ’em, wipe their memories, of even mind-control them all….

    @Mark, I don’t think Haley still likes him. Sean tried to…well, ‘rape’ is a strong word, but if she had to break out tranquilizers on him then….Also, he’s know attempted to screw with her boyfriend twice.

    The last time somebody tried to mess with her man, she vaporized them with a particle beam. Without remorse.

    I think she, like her boyfriend, is simply a well-adjusted girl who doesn’t want anybody to be needlessly jerked over. Also keep in mind, nobody wants a psycho teen turned full-blown villain with metal bending powers and an inferiority complex running amok.

  7. i think Gecko would not mind beef i mean a nice steak or rump roast just for not publishing his tale? so i will rephrase that there will not be beef.

  8. With all the stuff I had to look up about Deadpool just to find a good link to all three pages of the Yo Mama contest, I bet I’d get called on being a Deadpool ripoff at this point. Example: He beat Taskmaster while dancing the Macarena, and in my own version of an April Fools story for LoN (or some sort of thing when there were supposed to be swaps), I had Nick dancing the Macarena of Doom with Cthulhu’s Ankle. I’m even thinking I probably shouldn’t read too much on him in case I start copying.

    It’s not like I said that link was to any work of mine anyway.

    As a sidenote, I enjoy beef. I’m still trying to work on the right seasoning for my burgers, but I can do them ok. My steaks, however, are great. I never learned how to grill, though, so it means I can work a mean skillet. If someone wants beef, let them come on down to the Redneck Riviera and just try me, provided you can survive the walk from a vehicle to a building down here. Time’s running out before it’s too hot for y’all to survive outside.

    And like I said, I’m considering storyness. It’s just a big committment because you’re asking me to start writing on a regular schedule, and enough each time to satisfy y’all. Ya might even hate it, since you know how preachy and anvilicious I can get. And trust me, most people don’t like a preachy atheist.

  9. @PG – In the words of Gene Kranz from Apollo 13 “I don’t need the whole Bible, just a couple of chapters….”

    Seriously, start with LoN. Jim seems to be something of a friend to the writerly types. Do a parody of one of his stories.

  10. @ Psycho Gecko. So long as you remain on the surface of planet earth, there is no place hot enough to take me out before I can make it from my car to a good steak. I have worked without protective clothing in temperatures ranging from -10 F to +140 F. If I am not working, I can withstand even hotter temps for an unbelievable amount of time.

  11. Bill, you’re giving me some ideas that vaguely resemble what I think Hamlet 2 was about based on the commercials. And I take it y’all like Psycho Gecko, the character, the me that is the supervillain (or anti-villain as some of you dared to say) whose origin story was summarized in the only known superhero fiction that features fried pickles, (I expect an award for that, you know)?

    That is the voice I do best. I’ve tried writing without it. Doesn’t work out so well. So if I wrote, it’d most likely be “Psycho Gecko’s ongoing story and blah blah blahdiddly blah blah.”

    I do really worry though. With stuff I have to do around here, things in my life, I worry I may not have the time. I don’t mean something like “I’m dying, hack hack, cough cough, doctor, I need 50 ccs, of mammary applied to my face” I just mean that my obligations and responsibilities around here have me concerned about if I’d be up to it. But, shh, don’t tell anybody that part!

  12. @Bill: Telepathy is a great power and can achieve awesome things both for good and evil, but then again so can just being a fast brick and a host of other powers. The key thing is, Daniel can’t make anyone else a telepath. Everything he does he still needs to do himself and in that, he’s just one man whereas technology can be shared, copied, repaired and reverse engineered so that everyone can have it.

    Then again I’m really the wrong person to talk about telepaths. To me the whole power is anathema, an abomination, as it quite literally can never be used for anything whatsoever without violating the sanctity and privacy of people’s minds, which I find to be quite important and valuable. And if you think otherwise, is that even you thinking or did the telepath change your opinion?

  13. I understand where you’re coming from, Mazzon. I’d post a link to a relevant article, but apparently I’m not supposed to post links now.

    Anyway, Cracked.com talks about the implications of the Harry Potter world, where magic that everyone learns about in school can be used to force people to do what you want, think what you want, erase people’s memories, and insert new ones.

    It asks you to consider if you would really have any friends in such a world. Is this person being your friend because you control them, or is someone else making them act as such to spy on you and learn your secrets? How do you know they really are your friend, since your memory or theirs could have been adjusted. Think of how that extends to girlfriends, not even counting the over-the-counter love potions available.

    Truly, it is for this reason that the phrase is “The mind is a terrible thing to baste.”

  14. Hmmn. Lots of stuff to respond to that would give things away…

    Adam: Not picking up the phone would be much less fun…

    Mark: Am tempted to reply, but I’m generally of the belief that explaining a character’s motivations is better done through the story.

    About the program’s interest in Nick: Mazzon, PG, Fishface, and Bill have all hit relevant parts of this. Naturally, there’s a little bit more that hasn’t come up yet too.

    Regarding Ridgeback: Feel free to speculate.

    Psycho Gecko’s story: I’d link to it at the very least. A serial’s like anything else though… It takes time, and it’s generally worth asking yourself whether you want to go to the effort or not before you start. It’s fun though. It’s just that it’s fun in the way playing an instrument or learning a programming language is fun i.e. it’s also a lot of work.

    Basting brains: I’ve got a recipe for brain omelet in one of my cookbooks. Haven’t had the nerve to make it though.

  15. This a major derail, but where Gecko is concerned…..

    Jim, yes, you’re right. It’s a big commitment and it would serve PG well to decide if he’s really dedicated to this.

    But… that’s why I’d like to see him start off small. Like talking to a hot girl you’re interested in, writing also requires reserves of confidence, but moreso. And confidence, like muscle, is built slowly.

    PG, nobody expects you to have a 19 chapter story written and posted by next month. Start with something slow, which is why I say do a parody of Jim’s stories, he [Jim] has already done the hard work of creating the world and characters.

    Flex your muscles with that and then see if it was just a quick blip you needed to get out your system. Or…if you’re ready to join Jim here and embark on the road to fictiondom.

    Just remember, the journey of a thousand stories begins with the first sentence.

    (BTW, Jim, I apologize if I’m coming off as disrespectful in offering up your story as if it’s mine. But, I guess all of us Legionnaires have come to see this as “our” story and Gecko seems to be attuned to your plots. Also, you seem the inviting type)

  16. Bill, if you’d seen the “practice” stuff I’ve been working on, you’d probably not say I was so attuned.

    And if all it took was having a really good first sentence, I know which one I’d like to have to start it all off:

    “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

    It would have no relevance to the plot, but it’s just an awesome first sentence and I’d probably have to deal with an evil clown, a possessed car, a rabid dog, and a pyrokinetic girl in retaliation as it has already been famously used by someone else.

    Besides, if I could have a 19 chapter story written by next month, I’d be selling ebooks instead. To quote my one of my history professors: Cream, get the money, dolla dolla bill yo. It was a discussion about conservative beliefs that segregation would have been done away with on its own by the free market.
    In this context, it’s relevant in the fact that I need money. *flashes a smile with “I Need $” on my teeth in gold*

  17. gecko gecko gecko. do “psycho ridgeback strikes back” and make me a steak good sir for the suggestion. also ya i get it telepathy can be evil but you can twist any superpower and with telepathy there is potential but also tonnes of potential in Nick or Vaughn for danger. Would you want a world that was stormy every day? Or a world run by evil robots who start wars for no reason and have imperfect syntax? also Hamlet II? Must check this out. Later legionnaires

  18. ” Or a world run by evil robots who start wars for no reason and have imperfect syntax? ”

    When did Nick start working for Skynet???

  19. What do you mean a world where evil robots start wars for no reason and have imperfect syntax?

    Have you seen Congress lately?

  20. Nick says Sean’s trying to terrorize him. Sean’s trying to prove that Nick isn’t always better than he is — as dangerous a sentiment as that is, it’s really, really different.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *