The Legion of Nothing–Chapter One: Villains and Vigilantes

Cassie held out the latest issue of “Double V,” flipping the front half of the magazine under the back to make it easier to hold. She pointed to an article titled “Twelve Threats: New and Notable.”

Halfway down the list of new supervillains was a picture of a group of men and women with automatic rifles. Below the text it said:

Syndicate L: A growing criminal organization originating in the northeast but with connections throughout the country, it specializes in acquiring materials-both legal and illegal. Staffed primarily by normal, unmodified humans, it employs a few supers as hired muscle.

“We could take them,” she said. “Not the whole group, but definitely a local branch.”

I stood by my locker, flipping my eyes between the magazine and her face.

This was the part where (in her mind) I should now be saying, “Great, let’s go out tonight and take on organized crime.”

Or to put it another way, it was a totally crazy idea. I was about to tell her as much when one of her friends stepped out of the between classes crowd and stopped next to us.

“Hey Kayla.” Cassie pushed the magazine into my hands.

“Thanks for showing me the article, Nick,” she said, leading Kayla down the hall.

Kayla gave me an odd look, likely mystified as to why Cassie would be talking to me at all.

At that moment, I was living proof that knowledge did not bring peace of mind.

Last year she wouldn’t have been talking to me. We moved in different circles. Hers: girl jocks. Mine: smart kids who spend more time on odd projects like building trebuchets or robots than doing their actual schoolwork.

The latter circle, by the way, was a group of one.

That changed last summer. My grandfather had died in May; Cassie had called to find out how I was doing. She also asked if I knew what any of the others were doing and mostly I didn’t. With the official dissolution of the Grand Lake Heroes League and the deaths of all but two of its members, I didn’t know where to begin.

I visited her a few times though. She was on bed rest for half the summer due to receiving some kind of treatment. I guessed cancer, but she didn’t want to talk about it.

We did talk about our shared childhoods-picnics in the park near my grandfather’s lab, almost all of the heroes being grandparents now and their costumes packed away. The only exception to this being Cassie’s father (Captain Commando), who, thanks to an acute case of immortality, was still active more than fifty years after World War II.

I remembered him manning the grill, joking along with all the adults, but sometimes going silent and gazing off into the distance. In retrospect, I wondered what was going on. Was it just his temperament or was he reflecting on the fact that all his friends – all the people he would ever meet – would die soon and he would just continue living? If so, it was ironic that he would be blown up four years before my grandfather died.

Not that Cassie and I discussed that much.

“DVD Night” was her idea. Get together all the kids again, hang out, watch a movie and remember.

It was a success of a kind. Most of the kids were older than we are and had left town for one reason or another, but we managed to get four of us most weeks, sometimes a few more.

Cassie and I were regulars, of course, but we also had Daniel, son of Mindstryke and grandson of the Mentalist (another war buddy of grandpa’s), and Jaclyn, a granddaughter of Hotfoot. Sometimes one or another of Jaclyn’s older brothers would be there and sometimes the grandchildren of Red Lightning or the Night Wolf but nobody else I considered a friend.

In August, Cassie began to feel better. The treatments stopped and I began to realize what kind of treatments they were. They weren’t treatments for cancer. They were treatments for being normal and she had definitely been cured.

She spent one week completely awake, occupying herself by doing things like running to and from Jericho, a town forty miles up the coast of Lake Michigan. Unlike Hotfoot or his grandchildren, she wasn’t spectacularly fast, so it really did take her most of the night.

I remember running into her at DVD night the next day.

“You’re… okay?” I said after hearing about what she’d done.

“I’m not just okay,” she said, “I’m not even tired.”

A couple weeks after that she signed up at the studio where I took martial arts. If this were any normal martial arts studio, I’d undoubtedly be telling you how she shocked the teacher with her intense focus and inhuman level of athletic ability, but it was not a normal studio.

So I’ll just tell you that she fit in-better than I did, actually. When I wasn’t wearing my grandfather’s armored suit, I didn’t have any powers.

Not having powers wasn’t a problem though. Unlike Cassie, I had no intention of going out in the night and fighting crime.

44 thoughts on “The Legion of Nothing–Chapter One: Villains and Vigilantes”

  1. Interesting. I’m looking forward to more about their history – the league the parents/grandparents belonged to, etc.

  2. This was the part where (in her mind) I should now be saying, “Great, let’s go out tonight and take on organized crime.”

    This was a nice, clean start.

    The inclusion of so much information this early could have felt really clunky, but don’t worry, it was smooth.

  3. /The only exception to this being Cassie’s father (Captain Commando), who, thanks to an acute case of immortality, was still active more than forty years after World War II./

    Teehee. I don’t know why I love that line, but I do.

    I have just one question, though. Not to nitpick, but it’s at least 60 years after WW2 now, unless this is set in the 80’s, which I’m guessing it’s not because there are DVDs.

    Sometimes you’ll trip up your tenses, but they’re easy to miss. It’s a bad habit I’m always having to make up for as well.

    Otherwise it’s a solid set-up. I’m going to continue reading now…

    (ZOMG! I’m actually getting around to reading stuff! XD)

  4. Huh. Amazing how you’re the first person to catch that (and how I er… didn’t).

    I probably should have said more than fifty years ago since I’m imagining that particular scene from being when Nick’s 5 or so.

    I trip up in tense more in the earlier chapters than later. I should go back and fix that at some point.

    Thanks for checking things out.

  5. I really enjoyed reading the first chapter. It’s original and catchy, I liked it. I guess I’m a little behind, though so I’ve got some catching up to do.

  6. Very nice story. I found you likewise through Web Fiction Guide yesterday and read through night until morning. Brava!

    1. Thanks for reading. I’m happy to know the things that didn’t work for you as I’m always hoping to improve what’s there. Readers have sometimes pointed out things that needed improvement years after the original post and I’ve made the change.

  7. Well, I just read it again, and I don’t know what I was talking about. Maybe it is the way chapter changes tense here and there, along with quick flashbacks to different points in time, so it can be a little confusing to be sure where one is. Maybe it is the large amount of short paragraphs, which makes it feel a little choppy to me. Maybe I was having a bad day…

    Anyway, I bookmarked it because it intrigued me then, and it still does, so I’ll be reading on as I find the time.
    You turn a nice phrase; I like how “I was living proof that knowledge did not bring peace of mind” is the flipside of ‘ignorance is bliss.’

    I like the “thanks to an acute case of immortality” line too, Miranda. I think it is the juxtopostion of ‘acute case’ with ‘immortality’. One invokes disease, and the other the opposite.

    A few notes:

    “Staffed primarily by normal, unmodified humans, it employs a few supers as hired muscle.”
    I don’t think that last comma isn’t enough punctuation – try a period, colon or dash.

    “We did talk about our shared childhoods” feels awkward. I keep wanting it to be “talked” instead of “did talk”. I understand it is a reference to the previous line, but that line is in the previous paragraph. So I have to stop and think about it, instead of letting the words flow. If you put those two paras together it would work better, I think.

    “I remember running into her at DVD night the next day.”
    You run into somebody when it not expected, like at the mall, or at a party. Not at a movie night for about four people. Try ‘talking with’ instead of ‘running into’. And depending on when this is set, you could consider changing it to ‘Video Night’ or just ‘Movie Night’. DVD Night feels cumbersome to me anyway, probably because I did NOT grow up with them.

    All tiny things, really, and your MMV. I’ll be reading on…

  8. You know, I didn’t really think I’d like this story, at first. Teen superheroes taking on a legacy, it wasn’t something in my mind as something I would read.

    But I gotta say, this story actually held my attention. The plot is solid, the emotions seem real, and, in my eye, some of this actually seems plausible.

    Keep up the good work, my man. I’d like to see this get better.

    The General

  9. In the second sentence of the ebook, premiere should be premier. When was this story set? Chapter 6 of the book: In 2009 the Sears tower was renamed the Willis tower, though I will admit to still thinking of it as the Sears tower. I enjoy your writing, and will probably get the second book when it comes out.

    1. With regards to the ebook–whoops. I’ll put that on the correction list.

      With regards to the Willis Tower, most people I know tend to forget the name, so I went with what it’s most likely to be called. I should probably change it.

  10. I suspect that I’m going to be losing a lot of my own writing time catching up over here. 2007 start date?

    One bad thing about discovering the serial webfiction genre so long after it started – it’s going to take a very long time to get caught up on a lot of different titles.

    There’s a good side too though – it’s going to take a very long time to get caught up on a lot of different titles!

  11. Actually it took me longer to catch up here. I read your story, AND all the comments.

    With Worm, being my first webfiction, I didn’t even bother reading comments till I was caught up. I read it like a book. Then I started reading and participating in comments, and discovered that the comments could be as good as the story, even though they are “bonus” material not from the author.

  12. ‘I had no intention of going out in the night and fighting crime.’
    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
    just read this again and could not stop laughing

  13. I was checking my links to other webfiction and popped in here, then noticed…

    Hotfoot. Did I completely lose my mind, or did C get a new name in the editing for the E-book?

    Also. Jaclyn has older brothers? Powered?

    Are you going to make me read the whole thing over again, Jim?


  14. is there a table of contents? Want to know how long the serial is. Longee the better. Too short and i won’t bother

    1. If you look off to the side on the left, you’ll find that each book and each chapter has a link. Also, if you look at the date of the first one, you’ll find that the serial’s been going since 2007. There are at this point roughly 8 years of updates (2, 1000 word updates per week). Thus approximately 8 novels worth of material and the beginning of a 9th–which continues.

  15. I started reading this a long time ago, but I got busy and stopped for one reason or another. Now that my period of mourning over Super Powered has ended, I figured it was time to go looking for something to read, and lo and behold, I found myself here. Thanks for the good reads, Jim. I’ll be here for a while.

  16. Time for another (long overdue) reread of LoN from the beginning; here’s hoping it’s as good as I remember ^_^

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