Settling In: Part 4

He didn’t get up easily. He pushed himself up one hand at a time, swaying as he made it up on two legs.

Taking an experimental step, he spied something on the roof, and bent over to get it—the automatic pistol. When he came up the second time, he seemed stronger. He stood up normally.

Quickly, he pointed the gun past me—probably at Vaughn.

This time the wind came up as a roaring, howling blast that drew the man into the air, and threw him off the building.

If I’d been able to gasp, I might have.

Vaughn had used lethal force twice, but I wasn’t complaining about it. The guy had been planning to kill him, and Marcus when they couldn’t defend themselves. Anyway, given what had just happened, the chances were likely that it wasn’t lethal enough.

Still, was the guy dead or not? And if not, how long would it take before he make it back up to the roof to finish his job?

I hoped desperately it would be after the effects of the paralysis wore off. I wiggled my toes with the idea that I’d soon be able to move the rest of my leg. Some moved more easily than others.

Maybe getting messages from my brain to my toes wouldn’t make any difference anywhere else, but I couldn’t think of anything that would bring me closer to actually being able to move.

Near me, but out of sight, someone who had been hit by Vaughn’s lightning moaned and whimpered.

Just a little louder than their voices and the wind, Marcus said, “Hey guys, I think I worked my way around the paralysis—not all the way around, but I can move.”

He paused.

“Anybody there? Look, I know Storm King can hear me even if he can’t say so. Can anyone else give me a sign?”

From the tone of his voice, I couldn’t say he was panicking, but he sounded nervous. I would have sounded nervous too.

In that moment, he stood alone.

Times like this made me wish Daniel had decided to go to college in Grand Lake instead of Chicago. A telepathic group discussion would have gone a long way just then. I could have told Marcus about the van we’d parked in the alley next to the building. Driving away had a lot going for it.

“I’m thinking this through guys. We can’t stay here, but I can’t carry you all away at once, and I don’t want to leave anybody. I’m wondering… Could a zap from Storm King clear the paralysis, maybe? We could try it on Captain Commando first.”

He paused, and then in a more excited voice said, “No! Got it! I’ll change into a glider, and Storm King can float us out of here.”

He grabbed Vaughn, Cassie, and I, placing us next to each other. Then he changed, and I felt straps surround me. Out of my peripheral vision, I could see his body stretching into a wide pair of wings.

“Don’t start the wind just yet,” he said. “It’ll take a minute before the wings are strong enough.”

A boot scraped across the edge of the roof.

I glanced toward the noise. The leader had climbed over the edge of the roof to my left.

He held the paralysis gun, pulling it up, and aiming.

I wanted to say something. I couldn’t.

It turned out I didn’t need to. I half expected that he’d tell Vaughn to start the wind going, but he didn’t.

The straps, tendrils, or whatever they were withdrew at a speed that caused us all to roll sideways while Marcus flopped over in a clatter of wings, and weird noises that sounded a lot like “splort.”

It didn’t leave me in a great position either. I’d managed to roll completely on my back, the rockets holding the middle of my back above the ground. My head flopped over, the helmet touching the roof. When I was a little kid, looking at the ceiling upside down like that, and pretending I could walk on it had seemed fun.

Under the current circumstances? Much less fun.

On the bright side, when I tried to get up, I actually moved my right leg a little.

I didn’t have time to feel good about that. From my right came a flash of light, the crackle of electricity, and the sound of Cassie saying, “Fuck, that hurt!”

12 thoughts on “Settling In: Part 4”

  1. Just wanted to say, two awesome updates in a row. I particularly like the segue from the last line of the last update to the first line of this one. Real drama!

  2. Queue the battle music!
    I’m getting flashbacks to the interminable ‘status effect’ fights in Final Fantasy games. You know the ones, where one character attacks, and the rest of the party spends the entire fight removing poison/blind/paralysis/sleep/doom.

    Sidenote, worst status effect ever: Virus from FF9. Oh, sorry, you get NO EXP from this fight, or any fight thereafter, until you cure it. :/

  3. Cool that Captain Commando is up and about but I don’t think the Rocket could just brush off a Lightning bolt even if his suit wasn’t a faraday cage. Looks like Nick isn’t going to be much help for this fight. Hopefully He’ll get his hands on that paralsyis gun so he can come up with a countermeasure.

  4. I think the main rocketsuit would do better than most when facing lightning using opponents…Think about one of the main old villains the original rocket faced. Jump starting Cassie is ingenious. Marcus seemed like a shoe-in for getting the team out since he probably has the least human fysiology.

  5. Yeah, Marcus has proven to be a valuable wild card.

    Jim, was it an in-joke that “Leader” disses Vaughn as useless and yet so far, he’s kicking the most ass?

  6. Bill, it’s not that they have no use at all, just that they’re not of any use to the employers of Team Rocket(boots). That said, the irony is rather tasty.

    Practically speaking, Marcus and Vaughn would be really hard to hold captive without power neutralizers. You can’t just take their gear and lock them up like you can Nick and Cassie (though she needs a stronger cell).

  7. Luke, if you’re quintessential idea of status effects is from FF9 then you haven’t played Final Fantasy long enough to truly enjoy the effects of a Malboro’s breath.

    As for battle music, there’s only a couple I see for Vaughn. is one of them. I’m not a fan of the game, but that song is good and works for him. As for the other song he could go into battle with, well let’s not forget he’s also a wannabe ladies’ man…

    Now, Marcus strikes me as a comic book nerd who enjoys a little bit of cheese, so

    I’d put Nick with

    Rocket I gets

    Finding something for Cassie wasn’t so easy, but I am pretty sure that someone associating this song with her would want to make her kick someone’s ass:

    She’s simply an irresistible force. And yet, considering the part about the Nine kidnapping similar looking girls, it is oddly appropriate…

  8. will have to check out all that awesome music *gets flashback to annoying music from Beatnik and starts running for hills*

  9. PG, the Malboro’s Bad Breath was a pain in earlier games (and later ones) but FF9 had the most effects that persisted after combat. Petrify, Virus, Venom (Virus+Stop), Silence, Darkness, Zombie and Trouble didn’t end until you cured them, carrying from one fight to the next. It also had the nasty Heat and Freeze effects, which were an instant KO if you took an action or were hit by an attack, respectively.

    And now I have a great desire to dust of the old consoles and plug in Final Fantasy Tactics. Or maybe Suikoden 2…

  10. Captain Mystic: You didn’t like the music with Evil Beatnik chapter? I’m deeply saddened, or wait, maybe I’m not. Having it suck was definitely the point.

    PG: Simply Irresistible. I remember that playing on MTV–back when MTV played music.

    Bill/Luke: The people on the other end of the phone didn’t see an use in capturing Marcus and Vaughn, and part of the reason probably involved a level of difficulty in keeping them confined. Ironically, yes, they’re exactly the people most capable of dealing with paralysis guns.

    Fishface: The regular suit would work pretty well against lightning. The stealth suit has some level of protection, but not as much.

    Kelvin: Thanks. I always try to make the last and first lines of chapters fit together. Sometimes it works better than others.

  11. Jim,

    I’ve been wondering forever, and I can’t really think of an appropriate to ask this, so I’ll just ask.

    What made you start writing LoN in the first place?

  12. Part of this you heard on the podcast I was on.

    Basically, one of my friends enjoyed creating characters for role-playing games at least as much as he enjoyed playing the actual games. On one occasion we made characters for Villains & Vigilantes (one of the first superhero role-playing games). I created a character called “Rocketman” who discovered his grandfather’s powered armor in his grandfather’s basement.

    My aim in creating the character was to do something similar but not the same as “The Rocketeer” as I’d liked the film.

    Over the next while, I thought about the character’s (who was not at that point named Nick) relationship with his parents and his grandfather. Unfortunately, I never got to use the character in a game. He lingered in memory though–as did Larry (The Rhino) and C, characters I used as background characters in games I’d run, but deserved more attention.

    Years later, I ran across online fiction (specifically Tales of MU, and Eric Burns’ “Banter Latte” website). At that point, I thought about what I’d like to put online, realized that I still like the idea of “The Rocket,” and went about coming up with more ideas related to it.

    I wrote about 30 pages of garbage (during which I found Nick’s voice) and scrapped them. During those pages, I also came up with the Heroes League, and Rachel, Nick’s older sister as well as his grandmother (Romy). So while those pages were garbage, they were still productive.

    After that, I started writing what is now the first chapter of Legion.

    That said I’ve always enjoyed writing and creating stories. Legion just gave me a good excuse to do it.

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