Spin: Part 3

Mindstryke nodded. “She’s right, but it’s not going to be all bad. It’ll be hard to deal with at first, but it could be worse.”

He glanced to the right, toward something off camera. When his eyes were on us again, he said, “You’ve just experienced what would be a life changing event for some capes. You stopped St. Louis from being destroyed and did it with minimal loss of life. If you want, you’ll be interviewed every day of the week. People will want to pay you thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars for product endorsements. You’ll be celebrities.”

He stopped, gave a sigh, and continued. “I’ve known a lot of people who used events like this to change careers. They stayed in just far enough that they were visible vigilantes, but they spent the rest of their time being ‘the man who saved St. Louis.’”

“No shit,” Vaughn said, “who?”

Mindstryke shook his head. “I’m not naming names, but there are lot of complications that come along with doing something on this scale. We’ve got to decide a few things immediately. That’s why the League’s board will be meeting you back at HQ. Don’t expect us any later than ten.”

He opened his mouth to say more, but didn’t get the chance.

“Hey,” Cassie said, “why now? We’ve been visible for almost a year and half now. A lot of what we’ve done made national news. Fighting Rook last fall? That was all over.”

He nodded. “It was, but none of it made any sense, and no one explained it. All the public saw was a few fights in Grand Lake and then a big explosion in Canada. With this, you’ve got a clear story. The new Rocket discovers that True Humanity’s got enough bombs to destroy St. Louis. Against all odds, you succeed in preventing the bombs from doing major damage while more experienced heroes fail. End of story. It’s easy to explain. There are clear heroes and villains. It gets messier once you look closely, but what doesn’t? Most people won’t look.”

From behind me, a low, female voice—Izzy—said, “I don’t like it. It’s a distraction from what really matters in all this—people. People are alive because we acted. I don’t care about being a celebrity or endorsements. If I end up doing this full time, all I want is a living wage. Besides, I can’t believe we’re talking about this before Ronin’s even been buried.”

Daniel’s dad replied calmly. “As wrong as it seems, it’s going to come up before Ronin’s buried. We need to get everyone on board with a plan now. Personally, I’ve never endorsed anything, but I’ve found that letting the Defenders make money off my likeness pays for new and better uniforms, our base’s upkeep, our publicist, and lawyers. All that keeps us out of trouble with the law, and lets us help more people.

“That’s why I’m expecting to see everyone who was on this trip back in HQ, even if you’re not an official League member. We’re even calling in the members who weren’t on it.”

With a little bit of a tremor in her voice, Sydney said, “Just people from this trip? Not all former members of Justice Fist?”

Mindstryke lifted his eyes, probably searching for her on his own monitor. When he found her, he said, “The two of you will be enough for now.”

He looked over all of us. “I think that I should let you go. Captain Commando, you should know that we’ve notified your mother, and she’s not expecting to see you soon. Rocket and Ghost, your mother called the Midwest Defenders private line as soon as this hit the news.”

I glanced back to see Rachel’s response. Her mask hid the top half of her face. The bottom half was unreadable.

“She wasn’t very happy,” he continued. “The good news is that the talk you’re about to have with the board might help with that. Or,” and here his tone turned apologetic, “it might make it worse, but it shouldn’t.”

Vaughn said, “What about my mom?”

For a second Mindstryke froze. I might have missed it if I hadn’t known that he’d dated Vaughn’s mom as a teen. She’d figured out that he was a super at least twice that I remembered hearing about, and erasing it from her mind had only been temporary. She’d recognized Daniel, Cassie and I the first time we’d gone out in costume, and warned us to keep Vaughn out of it.

Calmly Mindstryke said, “Nothing. No calls at all.”

Vaughn shook his head. “That doesn’t make me less worried.”

Mindstryke nodded. “I’ll have people watch for calls from her. Come as soon as you can.”

Then his image faded from the screen, the letter Ψ disappearing last. I wondered if that was intentional, but guessed that it had to be.

No sooner had he finished than the St. Louis Defenders told us we could go. I mentally filed that under “no coincidence at all.” Daniel’s dad had always struck me as the kind of person who paid attention to detail.

Turning around in my chair, I looked the group over. No one looked happy, and I understood why. We’d been in terror for our lives for what felt like hours, and people had died. Now we were in the middle of what? Meetings about League membership, and selling action figures with our faces on them? Izzy was right. It felt hugely screwed up, but maybe I could raise the mood a little.

“I guess we’re headed back to HQ. So, um… we’ve got a few hours before the meeting. I’m thinking we could have breakfast at IHOP on the uh… League’s credit card.”

Haley glanced over at me. Even through her mask, I guessed that she was raising an eyebrow.

“Look,” I said. “I’m trying.”

14 thoughts on “Spin: Part 3”

  1. Pancakes make everything better… Except an infestation of Lumberjacks… Pancakes make that worse…dear god the lumberjacking….

  2. “And in other news, the lumberjacks invaded from Canada today. They destroyed 5 IHOPs, 2 Dennys, and 4 Village Inns. Talks with Canada’s Prime Minister have stalled as he appears to be waffling.”

    Lumberjack itself doesn’t sound bad at all. Then you add an -ing to the end of it and it suddenly sounds really, really dirty. Do you jack your lumber a lot, saru?

    Still, they have a point there. Nick’s grandpa left him a bunch of money earmarked for crime fighting, but they’re just starting out. They have suits, equipment, a base, a crime van, and an alien AI spacejet to maintain. They’ll have to do something about the money eventually. The originals were already a big deal, so it can’t hurt to at least start marketing the New Heroes League:

    The Rocket, with Karate Chop action

    Storm King, with built-in squirt gun

    Captain Commando, with giant sword accessory

    Accelerando, and her T-Rex mount (sold separately)

    Ghost Girl, who can haunt your wall with her ghostly suction cups

    Night Wolf, with the Wolf car (sold separately)

    Night Cat, with the Cat cycle (sold separately, available in grey and hot pink)

    The Mystic, whose pull-string can reveal the deepest of inner secrets. Say, Mystic, does that girl I like feel the same way about me? “Future unclear, ask again later.”

    The Shift, who transforms into a big grey semi-truck.

    And last but not least, The New Heroes League: the Flamethrower! Mwahahahaha! Kids love that one.

    1. Interesting addition: I was about to comment that lumberjacks from Canada would have no idea what an “IHOP” is (I have yet to see a location in Canada) when I decided to google it. It turns out there are 14 IHOPs in Canada: 2 in Ontario and 12 in BC, incidentally the two locations where the most lumberjacking occurs.

  3. The topic of bringing in cash to support the hero work has been raised before. As I recall, Larry resorted to covering his suit with endorsement stickers for a while.

    While ‘field leader’ might switch around, I guess Nick is de facto their leader for money stuff, given that he’s the one who has to spend the money to maintain their HQ and gadgets. Though apparently there’s also a League Board. Which surprises me not so much that it exists but that none of the current League members have heard of it. They’re still being treated like kids playing dress-up in their grandparents’ costumes, aren’t they?

    Something I wondered when they were working with the jet’s AI a few pages back. Who exactly is it programmed to take orders from? Whomever is in physical possession of the jet? Only ‘League Members’ (by however it defines that)? Or only Nick himself and whomever he designates?

  4. The league board has been talked about a few times. The kids don’t get to make any real decisions regarding the team until all of them reach 18. Nick had considered not making some of the younger members full members so they could get control sooner but decided that that wouldn’t be a great idea.

    Pretty much Nick can spend money on maintenance and things but has to clear everything with the board. If he doesn’t I believe they can just revoke that privilege.

  5. @ Mathew: I guess they just forgot about the Legue board, seeing as they seem to have done very little so far in the story. We all knew about them, they just haven’t been very important yet.

    Anyway, cashing in on superheroics? I wonder how many people would become a hero just for the money? Probably quite a lot. You’d have to be a little more self interested (but I wouldn’t say selfish, you’re still helping others) than a non profiteering hero, but not stupid or selfish enough to decide on a career in supervillainy. I mean, supervillainy practically requires insanity to even think you’re going to be getting away with it! Sure, rob a bank in tights. (You’re wearing the tights, not the bank.) If the heroes don’t stop you, the police are likely to trace the cash, and if you make a habit of it the chances of getting caught just keep going up.

  6. Well, Jerden, it’s a little obvious who else you’ve been reading at this point. It’s possible to launder money, happens all the time, just don’t forget the fabric softener. The biggest obstacle is just making it electronic. It’s best if I give little detail on that here. At this point, I can go ahead and mention HSBC though. Those guys would launder their own mothers for a nickel.

    Instead, let’s talk about how to transfer money completely legally and without a whole lot of pesky problems.

    One of the more interesting ways to transfer money that I recently heard about was to use the gold farming services of MMOs. To make matters worse, the gold might even be purchased from someone in North Korea as a way to bring Western money into the country. Or Eastern too, lots of South Koreans play MMOs. Yep. There’s a dark, sleazy underbelly to My Little Pony Island Adventure.

  7. Shani and Zach: I think this may be the first time you’ve commented. At any rate, it’s the first time I remember approving you.

    Shani: Often when I think of shwarma, I think of this (the “How it Should Have Ended” commentary on The Avengers): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZkqC4Lz8dU

    Matthew: That’s a really good question. For the moment, the best way to describe it is that it’s loyal to anyone in the Heroes League. That said, it’s sentient (i.e. can make it’s own decisions), and it was designed by an alien civilization, so it’s not quite as simple as that.

    Jerden/Matthew/Zach: The board hasn’t been mentioned much because it hasn’t affected things much. Fortunately it’s been mentioned just enough for people to vaguely remember it exists–which is more or less where the League is on that.

    PG: Who doesn’t love action figures? I particularly like the Mystic as Magic 8 Ball.

  8. Well, the only point is that they didn`t just save Saint Louis, they saved the world from what was clearly an extermination plot where the alien race involved could deny accountability (I told you they were dangerous, see, they even destroyed themselves).
    And this doesn`t stop here.

  9. Oh, unfortunately in real life people rob banks for a living for years and retire peacefully as respected citizens.
    Sometimes their children even get in politics.

  10. Eduardo, the way of it seems to be that if you do bad things for a lot of money, you’re a criminal. If your great-grandparents did bad things for a lot of money, you’re aristocracy.

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