Sunday, February 27, 2011

Strolling Through the Park

Avenging Daughter [May Wong]: "And that is why I come here!"
Gun Girl [Jaime Neilsen]: "They're so hot!"
May:  "These guys? You should see the captain of the batting-or-whatever team. The game starts at 4:30. He should be here any minute." [Oh my God. Listen to me. He's just some stupid jock. Yeah. That's not what you were thinking when you squeezed by him at the entrance to the park last week.]
Tri-Del [Rebecca Hirsch]: "Are you sure it's not because you've started to suck at figure skating?"
May: "Says the expert on sucking."
Jaime: "I can't take you two anywhere. But I've never heard of a tall figure skater, either."
May: "It's not fair. If this keeps up I'm going to be a freak like your cousin! At least it's not affecting my kung fu." [Or my boarding. But May didn't say that, because she didn't trust Becky not to tell. How was she going to tell Jaime not to bring Becky next time? If there were a next time. If she didn't tell about this.]
Becky: "Where are the Rugrats?"
May: "Oh crap. Well, it's only been a minute, and hopefully no-one's left the keys in a cherrypicker again."
[May reaches for her phone behind her on the bleachers. It's not there. Damn it! The Rugrats pulled this one on Jen three times already, and she's not going to be taken like Super Dork. Only she is. May vaults to the top of the bleachers. She skitters her skate wheels as she lands, to make it look more dangerous than it is. Rep. Even if was only with Miss Two-Faced Becky. Where were they? Where was he?

But it's not the Rugrats. He's there, on the sidewalk across the running track. He's holding her phone up in his hands like a cricket ball ready to be thrown. May puts her hands up to catch, but instead he kicks his skateboard down onto the street. To Hell with the secret identity --May jumps down the six levels of bleachers, hitting the sidewalk and kicking off a lunging start.] 
Becky and Jaime: "May, wait up!"
[May doesn't pay attention. What are they going to tell her? That it might be a trap, that she should let the big kids handle it, or go cry to her parents? She'd had enough of that worrying and moping and doing nothing just from watching Jen.]
May: "Bring your stupid, wetback ass back here before I kick it for you!" [Instead he jumps his skateboard high enough to land on the back of a passing semi, nailing the landing. Oh. Was this super business? That was another story. Now she could punch that smile off his face, no kid gloves. Another semi was following behind. Wait a second...]
Some Hot Guy Who Plays Cricket: "Just call the phone later! You don't want to get hurt!"
[Yeah. Like that was an issue. May vaults up on one semi, jumps over to the Hot Guy's, and lands her first combination in as much time as it takes him to  get his lame pickup out. She might get hurt?]
Veejay: "Crap, kid. Wetback? I'd like to see you graduate ITI. Stop that! I can't keep blocking forever!"
May: "Don't want to hit a girl?"
[Instead he kicks his skateboard over the edge of the semi and vaults down into traffic. May follows without a pause, although she has to bounce off a Honda hood to keep up. The driver didn't even have time to hit the brakes before she was skating beside him. This was fun! Then she was up on the sidewalk, and....
Becky and Jaime spun out of 5-space into continuum in front of her. May goes down in a heap avoiding them. By the time she's bounced back up, the guy is nowhere to be seen. Even if May is excited enough to think about trying to go through them. But only think about it. 
Jaime: "Down, girl!"
Becky: "Eh. Needs a haircut."
May: "He's just a boy. And he's got my phone!"
Jaime: "And you can call him."
May: "My mom will find out, and I'll..." [May wants to scream. This. Now. It's perfect. Now. I want it now. She lunges for space between Jaime and Becky, but Becky is there before May even moves, because that's what Becky does.]
May: "I'm not Jenny! I can't wait!"
Becky: "Oka-ay then. Crazy thought. Borrow my phone? You know? The one with the teleporting friend?"
[May blushes inside to be thinking that you're no friend of mine as she dials her own number.]
An Already Familiar Voice: "Veejay here. I.... Damn it! Don't! Leave it be!"
Jaime: "I've got a fix."
Becky: "And here we go.... To not Kansas? Ooh. No creepy touching." [Things fall off the would-be groper as he hits the shiny metal walkway thingie high above. Fleshy things.]
Becky: "Ooh. He's all Lolita for me. Think he knows your new boyfriend, May?"
Jaime: "The future is totally how I pictured it. Except with more zombies."
May: "Isn't time travel more your clone-mom's gig?"
Becky: "Zombies. Fight now. And it's Agamogenetic American."

Fever, February

The boy was too sick to go to work on Wednesday when I was over to visit. Too sick to play video games, even. Though he perked up in the evening enough to play the "virtual console" Wii game Legend of Zelda: Missing Link. (Which he described as an almost unbearable pun. So if you want to date the moment when puns stop being funny, go to midway through sixth grade, and push a little further on.)

The girl, meanwhile, is filling out her "Healthy Choices Journal," which includes entries for healthy eating, specifically, vegetables. Yeah. Like that's going to happen.  Way to not go, first grade health Gestapo.

As for what's beyond the barrier of puns, the boy demolished most of this during his sick day. Now I have to get another copy. And a short dark.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jenny's End, Part Two, Two

{This is just an edit. I know it ruins the spontaneity of the blogging and all that, but on mature consideration, I missed a great opportunity for a cliffhanger in the first version of Jenny`s End, Part Two. More below.}

Something like this

Snakes On A Plane [Jenny Wong. Who has an iPhone. Are you surprised?]: "Hello. No. Everything's gone wrong. I. Yes. Yes. What? Yes. Of course, Brad."
The Gyroscopic Man [Gerald Tuney]: "It's times like this that make life worthwhile. Everyone's ready to die now? We seem to be on a rather tight deadline. "
[In their memories of this moment, Jenny and Brad will imagine that when the Lion Stallion breaks through the foliage, Brad is riding bareback, tall and proud, firing his own green beam directly at the tree branch above Tuney. Ah. Youth. Actually, he's clinging on for dear life, and looking at the branch. But it's enough. Branch falls, Tuney is pinned, and the Lion does a delicate little dance on the Segway. A dance that says, "Where's my oat bars already? Oh, look. Scrap metal."]
Twilight [Anita Guzman]:  "That's an interesting new ringtone you've got there."
Jenny: "Well, I like it."
Nita: "Never said I didn't. So are you and Brad an item now?"
Jenny: "Yes."
Avenging Son [Henry Wong, Junior]: "Uh, prophecy, sis?"
Jenny: "The heir of Wong will be the end of the house. Okay. You know who inherits under Mohawk family law, right?"
Henry: "The girl?"
Jenny: "No. That's the new-age touchy feely version. Mohawk land 'goes into the wigwam of her husband.' This land is the 'house of Wong.' I'm going to be the first verse of the prophecy if I have to camp here 'till the wedding. May can worry about the second."
Nita: "I don't think we say 'wigwam' any more."
Jenny: "Nita, you're my dearest, sweetest, oldest friend. I want you to be my maid of honour. I also want you to shut up now."
Henry: "Well, I'm glad someone's plan worked out. And, Jen? You can stop being a bitch now."
[A skeletally thin, balding man in a psychedelic-on-white bathrobe walks up the road into the grove. In spite of the spiny, xerophytic vegetation, his shrunken legs are bare down to tattered sandals. His gray hair is pulled back in a shoulder length ponytail. It is noticeably darker than his massive beard. He looks over his shoulder.]
Eldritch [Birth Name unknown, although he was rebaptised Brother Sunshine in a Tantric ashram in eastern Oregon at midsummer, 1969. Or 1970? 1971? Somewhere in there. They had good acid, those days.]: "I told you so. The children have things in hand here."
The Furious Fist [Henry Wong, Senior]: "I wish I shared your sunny disposition, Eldritch. I find it hard to believe that the children have disposed of Doctor Destroyer."
Ex-Until Agent John Byrne: "Ow ow ow ow. You're hurting me! I told you. It's not Destroyer. Just some loser from Phillie that was following Billy Tatum around."
Mr Wong: "You fooled with my daughter and threatened my wife. You're lucky I don't break every bone in your body. [And then he stops, like everyone else, to see Brad slide off the Lion Stallion. It's not a pretty picture, but that's not what Mr. Wong notices.] Brad. You're alive. How?"
Brad: "Defender projected a holograph."
Mr. Wong: "But ...why? I've been riding you for five years now because I thought you died yesterday. Well, a thousand years from today... Okay then. I guess that's why. I hate time travel."
Jenny: "Is that why you wouldn't let me..."
Mr. Wong: " I'm not going to stand in the way any more, pumpkin." [Billy notes the evasion. Again. Breeders.]
Byrne: "I did not fool with your daughter, sir. She was just using me to get to Tuney. She likes that gorilla over there, and she can have him. Ow ow ow ow ow." [The "sir" sounds almost sincere. Agent Byrne is in a lot of trouble right now.]
Nita: "So, what? It's all settled like that?"
Eldritch: "Let me draw a picture for you, Sister. It has a sacred grove, ancestral graves, a spirit stallion that was supposed to have died 1400 years ago" [The Lion Stallion nuzzles Eldritch's bathrobe pocket. There's an apple in it] "and a prophecy. And you throw teenage chakras into the mix? Of course it's settled. It's a sacred wedding. The Green Man and the Daughter of the Moon. Tom Bombadil and Goldberry. The kami are pleased, the land is fulfilled."
Mr. Wong: "You're as full of shit as the day I met you, Eldritch."
Eldritch: "I know that we don't see eye-to-eye on the cosmic path that we walk as spirits and men. But you watched me exile Mardoom-Thah that day, and I've trained fifty apprentices to do as much and more since then. And I'm the one who is right this time."
Billy Tatum [Pulling Tuney's head up out of the water so he can breathe]"Hey, asshole. Yeah. Me. The stupid one. I felt your bugs in my body. I knew it was you. I was on to you all along. I led you here. I got you. I got your buddy. I got my friends hitched. You got buried. How stupid does that make you? Oh, yeah. Except for the part where Stonechild and me thought you were working for Doctor Destroyer. I guess that stupid is on us. Speaking of, where's the rest of the backup?"
Jenny: "I think the takeaway from all that "suppressor" blah is that doofus here jammed them out."
[Three contrails abruptly break far overhead, stretching west to east.]
Eldritch: "Grok it. I think this square underestimated the Tokyo Super Squad. I'm going to have to buy them   lunch before they head home. And we'd better stand the rest of the brothers and the sisters down, or it'll every other superhero on Earth soon."
Mr. Wong: "On it. And, man? owe the Super Squad dinner. Some people like their food, y'know, cooked."
[The old men pull out their thingies-that-aren't-phones, since this area doesn't have cell coverage, except apparently from the 31st Century. It'll be a long time, because, frankly, they're going to use this opportunity to gossip up a storm.]
Jenny: [Giggles]: "Mom will be so pissed."
Henry: "Why? You still end up with Brad."
Jenny: "But four years ahead of schedule."
Brad: "Do I get a say in this?"
Nita: "Didn't you just call Jenny and ask her out from the future?"
Brad: "Well, yes. But it's a lot easier to do when you're a thousand years away and Sovereign is about to kick your ass."
Mr. Wong [Putting his phone down for a second, because the Peacekeepers are pretty down about interruptions like that]"I was giving covering fire against an army of Mandaarian attack drones so that you could ask my daughter for a date?"
Brad: "You were twenty-five. You didn't even know you were going to have daughters, then, Hank. I mean, Mr. Wong. And since I was about to die anyway, I went for it."
Mr. Wong: "You proposed to my daughter?"
Ex-Agent Byrne: "OW ow ow ow ow ow."
Mr. Wong: "I REALLY hate time travel."
Nita: "[Squee!]"
[Brad reaches over and takes Jenny's hand. The Lion Stallion, looking as impatient as a horse who has been promised granola bars can, nudges him in the back. Brad and Jenny kiss.]

[Text edits above.]

This is the fourteenth in a series of fan fictions set in the Champions Universe (a property of the Cryptic Games Studio licensed to DOJ, Inc. for the pen-and-paper Hero Games RPG line). It features the adventures of the teenaged descendants of Philadelphia's superheroic defenders of the "Gold" and "Silver" Age, the Liberty Legion. The new Liberty Legion has been operating for several years now as a mostly self-described auxiliary of Philadelphia's real superteam, the Liberty League.  Some of them are mature for their age, but the author still doesn't recommend getting married right out of high school in this day and age. If that's what happened. Because, you know, time travel and all that. Unless maybe there are chakras and kamis and land-wight magics and like that involved. Then it's probably okay, and you have to admit that it's romantic.

Doctor Destroyer , the Demonologist, the Tokyo Super Squad, and Eldritch are all published Champions Universe characters, although Eldritch has never been established as an outdated hippie, only an "extremely eccentric" San Francisco supermage. So are Mardoom-Thah and Sovereign, but they're really obscure and they're not on the wiki.

This concludes the story begun here with the much requested appearance of a mall cop on a Segway as a team archenemy. Which is awfully hard to work into a short dialogue, what with the traditional red herrings, continuing story arc, dramatic confrontation, and unexpected last-minute triumph by an underestimated team mate. And master villain dialogue. That stuff's harder than it looks!

And, yes, that's an apology to my critics. But let's face it. It's one thing to think to yourself, "Boy, I wish I could tell action-adventure-romance stories without the leaden exposition, unrealistic dialogue and tell-not-show characterisation that I hate to read in others," and quite another thing to actually try it. If you're wondering about my choice of formats, I'm trying to focus on dialogue, and it has nothing to do with using a rough screenwriting pattern without going the whole nine yards and looking like some symp desperate to be discovered by the Motion Pictures. (So, anyway, call me, Hollywood. We'll talk!) 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pocahontas's Two Bodies

They say that the Roman Empire was overrun by barbarians.

 Sorry 'bout your civilisation. Wanna make out
I don't buy it. When people take over, they build castles everywhere. Not because they want to rule at Renfaire, but because cheap, half-ass castles are what you use to control the countryside. The Romans didn't build castles. They built march fortresses (lame enough to suggest that they didn't exactly conquer their empire against the varsity), and later city walls that say, "We have no concern about getting food from farm to mouth whatsoever." Not exactly an anti-barbarians-are-overrunning-the-countryside measure.

What happened? Something more complicated. Let me introduce you to... Genghis Khan!

Enjoy. The Conquerors has been voted the worst movie ever made, but Genghis Khan gets him some action.

The Romans? Different strokes for different folks, apparently.
Can you believe this isn't on Youtube? It's like someone's embarrassed.
This probably isn't the place or time to talk past the hetero/homo divide, but it sometimes seems like the gay guys get all the action while us straight guys sit around repressing.

 That's why we'd like to be Genghis. He's not one of us student loan debt slaves, cycling between work and computer day after day, restraining themselves from Google stalking work acquaintances*  as we work and write, work and write, work and write. (And also procrastinate by reading Christina H. and Gladstone at Cracked.Com. Those guys are awesome.)

We debt slaves might be hard working and smart and good at our jobs but we're sure not getting anywhere by ol' Genghis's standards. Or anyone else's. We spend our Sunday afternoons blogging and counting how much more money we'd have if Human Resources would just stop saying "Hee! Backsies!" every time we make some progress. Genghis would be out seizing Tatar women and carrying them back to the  yurts of his people. Wouldn't it be nice to be a barbarian guy, all up in the hetero-invading?

No! No! I didn't mean that. And, in fact, apparently no-one else does. When two barbarians love each other very much.... popular culture suggests that nothing much actually happens. When John Smith and Pocahontas meet,  Pocahontas sings a very, very sad song. Even Jake Sully, a space marine (you'd think would be a hit with the girls, I mean, uniform? Space?) has to get a new body before he can fit into space-nature. It turns out that it's not so easy to be Genghis Khan. In fact, it's apparently impossible.

So back to the computer and never leave it again, right? No. Something's wrong with our paradigm. Genghis Khan doesn't put up with this stuff.

Did you know that that's actually John Wayne there? I guess the thinking was that one desert full of tough guys on horses was pretty much like another. Who could possibly be offended by casting a Caucasian in the  role of the Oceanic Ruler, ancestor of Emperors of China and the Dalai Lama (with reincarnation!) alike?

Except, worst movie ever made or not, I'm already on record agreeing with the producers. Pigeonholing people under labels is one thing. I bear white male privilege in my society, and I shouldn't be allowed to forget that. The problem arises when you use those labels to demand that someone "be true to themselves." That's when John Wayne escapes.

Imagine that Wayne isn't a cowboy, that he's a German soldier and is reluctant to exterminate a village of Russian Jews, and his buddies are say, "c''mon, John, a real German wouldn't mind exterminating 6 million Jews! You're a real German, aren't you?" What if John picks up his SMG and says, "no, I was born a Jew," and mows those Einsatzgruppen bastards down, instead? Does it become any less awesome if he wasn't born a Jew? Are we going to say that he's not allowed, because he didn't get a body transplant first?

Conversely, Pocahontas didn't go off into the wilderness and get with some Indian hunk. She married another Englishman named John Rolfe (no word on what happened to Potsie, but he was probably heart-broken) and had a kid before dying young. For this she's a controversial figure in American history, as though her loyalties should have been with her Indian friends, and she should have shrunk back into the forest and died with the rest of them, instead of becoming the mother of the nation and the uncrowned Queen of America. Pocahontas bet the future of her family on "the English." Was she right to do so? Well, it so happens, she died young of who the Hell knows what entirely avoidable disease, and that's not something that her descendants do very much any more, and do you think that that would have happened if they lived in a primitive utopia "in balance with nature," Mr. Cameron?

Hey, if the Dalai Lama can be reincarnated, why not Pocahontas?
'Cuz she's from Alaska!
Exactly! Well, not Palin. I think she's pretty much had her chance. But here's the thing: I think that you can read something serious into Palin-mania, and for that matter the fall of the Roman Empire. There comes a time when the status quo is too much for people. That's when they assign themselves their own identities. Telling them that they can't is not going to work, no matter how many movies you make to preach the point. That just makes you sound desperate. The Romans said you couldn't be a "barbarian," then they said that you couldn't be Christian, and then they said you couldn't be illiterate, and in response people just kept on divesting themselves of the things they couldn't not be without. You keep telling them they can't be rednecks, and I bet it will work just exactly as well.

You know what might work? Figuring out what's pissing people off. The last of the Romans may not have left us much, but they buried one hell of a lot of coinage and never came back to dig it up. For reasons that don't really belong here, I diagnose that as evidence of monetary deflation.

Have you ever seen a monetary deflation? Things get cheaper; that wipes out the profit margins of the widget company; so it has to cut costs by reducing wages; so the employees have less money to spend, so they go down the street from the upmarket widget shop to buy the cheaper widgets at the value competitor; so the upmarket widget store has to cut prices, so the value competitor cuts prices in response. That further reduces profit margins at the widget company, which cuts prices, so the employee wages go down, so the value competitor can afford to sell widgets even cheaper, and the employees go back there and buy cheaper widgets again.... This isn't foreigner's or anyone else's fault. Its an imbalanced monetary cycle that will go to completion in the end of all economic activity if it's just allowed to do so.

That happened to Rome. It might have happened somewhere else. Somewhere more familiar, closer to home.

I know! Right here, right now! Goddamn it, stop it!

Otherwise, while I don't particularly like Sarah Palin, but I'm not going to guarantee that I'll be on the "authentic" side if the barbarians come back soon.


*And by "us," I mean "me." And by "refraining," I mean "almost refraining." I probably shouldn't admit to knowing this here, but I thought that I hallucinated a Tatar woman in a pink belt at work, and it turns out that the belt, at least, exists.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jenny's End, Part Two.

[Scene: a shiny new LR4 driving on a gravel road through the hills that you see in the background here.]

The Amazing Spleen [Brad Neilsen]: "I can't believe I'm driving this. I can't believe I'm driving this. I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M DRIVING THIS!"
Captain Super-Ultra [Billy Washington]: "Shut up about the Land Rover already, Brad."
Twilight {Anita Guzman]: "Shouldn't we have hit the Wong's farm by now? Or at least a gap-toothed yokel playin' the banjo and a-lookin' at the Negro and the girl with staples in her face?"
Brad: "Wrong end of the country. Watch me drift around this corner!"
Nita: "Jesus, Brad! We can't watch when we're in the Deathmobile!"
Billy W: "There's Billy's bike up that turnout by the river. Wasn't he supposed to wait for us at the farm?"
[Brad very reluctantly pulls over. Billy Tatum walks up from the river to his bike as the Land Rover pulls up.]
Billy: "Hey, Billy. Where's the farm?"
Wolverine Boy [Billy Tatum]: [Point across the road to the left.] "You're looking at it?"

Nita: "That's a farm?"
Billy Tatum: "No. It's a pasture. Three hundred acres of it. Canada starts about halfway up."
Brad: "I hate zombies."
Billy W.: "And you know from zombies how?"
Brad: "Forget I said anything."
[A big Ford crew cab with a load of hay, pulling a horse trailer rolls up, still about sixty feet down the long pull-out. Jenny Wong opens the side door. She looks like the guest bathroom light at the Dawsons was pretty kind to her this morning, and her belt doesn't match her boots. Still, Billy W. notices that Brad's hands are shaking violently. Good that just started. Which reminded him....]
Snakes-On-A-Plane [Jenny Wong]: "Guys? Some help? We need to shift the picnic stuff to the Land Rover."
[Billy Tatum starts over. Anita follows, giving Billy a nod as she goes. Someone's got to ask.]
Billy W.: "Hold up there a second, partner."
Brad: "Pod-unit who?"
Billy W.: "I was trying... Never mind. Brad, you know how sometimes you think, "wow, that guy sure is a mess, but I'll bet a good night's sleep will fix him up?"
Brad: "No."
Billy W.: "You sure must have had a good sleep, 'cuz you're chipper than you've been in a week. But I'm thinking 10 hours of solid still won't burn off 15 pounds. Or give you a new haircut. About two weeks ago, if I'm any judge. Done any, you know, time travelling in the last eight hours? Fought some zombies, maybe?"
Brad: "Oh crap."
Billy W.: "It's okay. You notice these things when your favourite aunt has a time machine. I know you'd have told me anything you can, but I still need to ask: is there anything I need to know?"
Brad: "No. Look. Be on your guard."
Jenny Wong: "Some help would be nice."
[Brad is on it, grabbing the big Tupperware bowl like he'd do anything for Jenny except look her in the eye. The bowl quivers, would spill if it weren't lidded. Which, yeah. Breeders, Billy W. thinks. How is there even a human race still? Jenny's twitchy, too, he notices, as they talk over the plan. By the time they've swapped final notes , lunch is put away, and Henry is back from opening the gate across the road. Time for briefing.]
Billy W.: "Listen up, guys. This is the most dangerous part of the mission, because we're going to have to split up. This is Jenny's territory, so she'll explain."
Jenny: "Okay, guys. I called Agent Byrne two hours ago. Apparently, it's over four hours drive from here to Vancouver and he's working today. So officially we're expecting  him at the Dawsons tonight for dinner."
Billy W.: "But his UNTIL shadow called me just before we left. Byrne's shaken them. He could have teleported up here or have bailed. Bottom line: we have no idea when or if he'll show. Ouch. Sorry, Jenny."
Jenny: "Which is no surprise, since we could have been under surveillance since we left Philadelphia. Our legend is that my Dad is with us. Problem: Neither Henry can't drive the trailer past the washout to the lower bench."
Avenging Son [Henry Wong]: "We don't know that for sure."
Jenny: "Hank...
Nita: "You have benches?"
Henry: "Terraces on the mountain side where most of the good pasture is. Or in this case, lots of room to turn a truck and trailer around."
Jenny: "So the legend is that Dad is driving a load of hay to the shelter at the ...middle bench. Brad takes the trailer to the clearing. Two trucks, two drivers. For a certain value of surveillance, that'll stick. We can't fool them anyway if they have a shotgun mike on us. Now, it really is tricky driving past the washout, so Billy Tatum has scouted the road you'll be taking, Brad. He'll be with you. Go slow. Listen to anything he tells you."
[Billy W. wonders if professional briefings get all mumbly at the end, too.]
Nita: "Have you been reading spy novels, again, Jenny?"
Jenny: "Why, yes, dear! Declare."
[Billy W. wonders if professional briefings involve girls snarling at the questioners. Anita looks like she's been bitten. Henry opens his mouth, but doesn't say anything.]
Brad [quickly]: "Okay, I get it. Where are the horses?"
Jenny: "They'll probably come to the trailer. They like oat treats."
Brad [pats his pocket]: "The Lion will even come when I call him for Almond Sweet and Salty."
Henry: "There wouldn't be a story here that explains a phone call from you about last summer, something about the Lion getting out of his trailer on the highway, oh, no, never mind, everything's okay now?"
Brad: "I have no recollection of any such event. Do I have to load the Lion?"
Jenny: "Might as well. We're going to have to bring him down to the Dawsons to maintain the legend."
Billy W.: "Isn't that putting your prize stallion in the middle of a superfight?"
Brad: "If he can open a latch, jump out on the highway at 60mph and dodge two lanes of traffic to check out a filly on a  bridle path....Notice that I speak hypothetically here."
[The road that Henry drives the Land Rover up is so bad that Billy seriously considers asking to get out and walk. It looks as though he could jump down on the horse trailer hundreds of feet below at the switchbacks; but that thought is driven from his mind as they break through a screen of trees. Suddenly the're in a tiny little Chinese graveyard. Or what could be a Chinese graveyard, as Billy doesn't know what that would look like. It has graves and some Chinesey thingies, and a spring that breaks out of a solid wall of rock in the hillside and fills a pond with an ornamental stone boundary and a massive tree that stretches its limbs over the entire garden, the only leafed tree that Billy  has seen since down by the road. Henry stops the LR4. He toggles the windows down and turns off the engine.]

Billy W.: "I thought we were going to a barn?"
Henry: "More of a lean-to, really. And if the bad guys will just show up, we won't have to. We really should just use the lower shelter. Anyway, this is a..."
Jenny: "This is where my great-great granddad and his wife and every descendant of Wong Xianfeng is buried or reburied. This is Wong land."
Nita: "Like, the trapper and the Indian princess?"
Jenny: "She wasn't an Indian princess. She was the daughter of the Mohawk trapper who ran the fur trade in the Valley before the Companies got here."
Nita: "That's ....pretty technical."
Jenny [flatly]: "It matters. A lot."
[Henry looks at his sister, like he's about to ask a question. Jenny stops him with a look, opens her door and steps outside. It's tense. Not a moment for her friends to share, although Billy can't help noticing that she walks around a tree to get in front of the hood, and for just a second is out of sight. It's another of those things that he notices. Didn't they actually amplify the sound that Harleys made? He'd heard that, anyway. It didn't seem fair that someone didn't do the same thing for time machines. But whatever he thinks could have happened, Jenny's too smart to get caught like Brad. She looks just like she did a second ago as she rounds the corner. Older? Damn, that was a question not to even think about with a girl acting like Jenny was right now.]
Jenny [Loudly, so her friends can here her as they sit in the cab, windows down, like the audience of a drive-in showing of The Adolescent Emotional Turmoil Movie]: "I'll be a second. I've brought some flowers for my great-great-grandmother. If you want to"
[Then, far below them, there is the sound of an explosion. And whirring up the road behind them comes --a Segway. With a very fat, very comfortable looking man on it. A familiar man. The doors of the LR4 won't open for a moment, and Billy suddenly feels nauseous, weak, and dizzy. The team manages to pile out of the truck, but hardly more than that. The ground won't stop moving. He's mad enough to put  a few words together, though.]
Billy W.: "Officer Blart. Shouldn't you be back patrolling Frat row in Phillie?"
The Gyroscopic Man [Detective Keith Tuney, Temple University Campus Police Force, Ambler Division] [He's very close to the truck now. Close enough to be heard, not close enough to be grabbed, not that Billy is feeling like grabbing anyone right now]: "I shall miss listening to your dubious hilarity, Mr. Washington, which you will not be able to share with us soon, because you will be dead, Mr. Washington. Ah. We are all here."
[A very pretty man on what looks like an UNTIL Air Cavalry mount descends from the sky. If this is who Billy thinks it is, he is surprisingly slight.]
Ex-Agent John Byrne: "Ah. Ms. Wong. Come to trifle with my heart with your big city sophistication again?"
Nita: "You're an absolute douchebag, Romeo."
Byrne: "On the contrary. Ms. Wong came on to me. All I did was poke into the  family background. Not exactly what a good girl is supposed to do, was it, Jenny? Don't worry about my fragile ego, by the way. You're no Mata Hari, and I could see that you're too much the size queen to be serious with me." [Billy thinks to himself: seriously, dude.]
Henry: "Is it in the contract that all you bastards are so mouthy?"
Tuney: "No. I prefer to shoot first. Speaking of, John, the other truck?"
Byrne: "I hope that Tatum can regenerate from being burned alive. I assume no-one will miss the big kid."
Tuney: "You finished the job, right?"
Byrne: "I don't know. I used a fire-and-forget. If they were ready for it....Surveillance is your job."
Tuney: "Idiot. Like I have time to follow three audio-visual-kinesiological feeds right now. Go finish it."
Byrne: "You going to mail me my share? Because I totally believe that you would."
Nita: "Brad! That's it, you're going..."
Tuney: "To do exactly what I planned all along. You kids are in over your head. Do you have any idea how many suppressors are trained on you right now? Synaptic, anti-mutant, even a magical geegaw I bought off the Demonologist. And psychic, dear. I listened to your conversation with your brother, David. Maybe you don't remember? Your blackouts?"
Jenny: "Oh crap."
Henry: "So there's not going to be cavalry, after all, Jen?"
Jenny: "We shouldn't need it, anyway, considering that the trap was set for Doctor Destroyer."
Nita and Billy W.: "WHAT?"
Jenny: "I'm sorry. I couldn't tell you. The listening devices embedded in Dr. Stonechild calved. They're in all all three of you...."
[Which is the point when Billy Tatum breaks out of the bush and rushes Tuney,  pushing him into the pond before an arm-thingie stretches out of the Segway and lifts him off the ground.]
Tuney [Nonplussed, but also not obviously inclined to try to climb out of the pond just yet. He really, really is fat.]: "Yes. Those old things. They weren't hard to reactivate once I noticed that Stonechild was hanging with young Billy and his friends, here. It was annoying that Billy rejected his. Fortunately, he's too stupid to shake a tail."
Byrne: "So. Wait. Tuney. You involved the Demonologist and fucked with Doctor Destroyer's old tech?"
Tuney: "Bogeys to scare old women. When Yin Wu pays us for delivering the son and daughter of Princess Ma Tien..."
Byrne: "So, no. The answer to the question is, you fucked with the Demonologist. You fucked with Doctor Destroyer. And with the Liberty League. And now you're going to fuck with Yin Wu. Fuck this. I'm fucking out of here before cavalry does show. Or, more likely, bigger Indians." [Byrne straddles his jetcycle and takes off straight up to clear the trees. Tuney stands in the pond, watching him go.]
Tuney: "You just can't get good help nowadays. Now where was I? Ah. Yes. I have my payoff, some DIY corpses and a graveyard. A perfect ending for a perfect day. By the way, Miss Wong, I read old comic books, too. I don't have a suppressor for this life energy thing, but I did figure out a partial ground. You can stop trying to make the branch fall on me any time you want."
[Music rings out. Jenny, still glowing just very slightly green, straightens up and pulls her phone out.]
Tuney: "Go ahead. Nothing can save you now."


[Text edits above. Mostly because on second thoughts, this would be a good place for a cliffhanger. Are second thoughts allowed in blogging? Probably not.]

This is the thirteenth in a series of fan fictions set in the Champions Universe (a property of the Cryptic Games Studio licensed to DOJ, Inc. for the pen-and-paper Hero Games RPG line). It features the adventures of the teenaged descendants of Philadelphia's superheroic defenders of the "Gold" and "Silver" Age, the Liberty Legion. The new Liberty Legion has been operating for several years now as a mostly self-described auxiliary of Philadelphia's real superteam, the Liberty League.  They have the pull to get some serious cavalry on the job if they think that they're being stalked by 4000 point master villains, but maybe not the good sense to execute well. "Invisible to sound" is a +1/2 advantage for time machines.

Doctor Destroyer  and the Demonologist, are all published Champions Universe characters, which unaccountably lacks an established master villain who drives a Segway. 

This brings the story begun here up top the point where I can link to it, as we finally get the much requested (there) appearance of a mall cop on a Segway as a team archenemy. Master villain dialogue is a lot harder to do than it looks, which is another good reason to tinker.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jenny's End, Part One.

Edit: This went up Friday in pretty rough condition because I ran into an unexpected deadline. I'm fixing it. It's not spontaneously Interwebby and everything, but there you go.

[A pretty nondescript fast food joint in Western Canada. A tall, well-built, handsome Asian-American is carrying a loaded tray towards to the table where Billy Washington is sitting. He notices these things.]

The Avenging Son [Henry Wong]: "And what do you say to the nice person who bought you lunch, Bill?"
Captain Super Ultra [Billy Washington]: ": Thanks, Auntie-who's-not-here-but-sent-a-babysitter-instead!"
Henry: "You honestly didn't think that the Parental Units would let you guys drive across the country on their dime without an adult along, did you?"
Billy W.: "You're twenty."
Henry: "Twenty-and-three-quarters. And a college graduate."
[Which was getting into rough territory. Brad would bug him about his "high-school" girlfriend now, and Henry would bug himself about going with the girl his mother picked out for him. That, in Billy's experience, was where what you called your social skills came in for the old smooth distraction ploy.]
Billy W. : "So. Any particular reason we're in Canada?"
Henry: "To see exotic places and exotic people?"
Billy W.: "The Exit sign is orange and people are wearing Tilly here in --seriously-- 'Canada's third largest fried chicken restaurant chain.' It's like a Twilight Zone episode! Doo doo doo doo doo." [Twilight Zone theme, or X-Files? You be the judge.]
Henry: "So that's a no. Then. How about this is the fastest way to where we're going without going off the interstates?" [He pulls out his pad and flashes Google Maps at Billy. In a moment there's going to be geography. The hell with social skills.]
Billy W.: "And the zombie master that eats junior Canadian superheroes for breakfast? And who is totally out of our league, Junior?"
Henry: "I checked our route with your Aunt Miriam, dude." [Billy hated putting Henry on the defensive like that, but at least the inadvertently-patronising map lesson was off the table, and Henry was the big old goof who'd lived with the Washingtons for his last year of high school again.]
Billy W.: "So time travel, the future is the past, don't ask, can't tell?"
Henry: "Honestly? I have no idea. Point is, she wouldn't say if she didn't know."
[Enough talking. Food. Except that as Billy is about to bite his burger, Anita walks up to the table with two piled trays. And then right by out the door.]
Billy W.:  "Where's Nita going?"
Henry: "The Emomobile. Brad and Jenny decided not to come in. Again. So Anita is going to see whether Vitamins F and S can  get them eating."
Billy W.: "Maybe we should just leave them alone?"
Henry: "You wish. I guarantee they're doing the same thing they've been doing all trip right now. Brad's playing his guitar and watching movies and Jenny's playing Wii and listening to her iPod."
Billy W.: "Oh, come on. There's gotta be some progress soon."
Henry: "Sure. Brad's watching Napoleon Dynamite now, and Jenny's almost done Country Returns. [Henry rolls his eyes. He and May had no time for their sister's slow pace on twitch games. Avoiding their 'help' was why she tuned out to play in the first place.] She might even get tired of Sirenia eventually. If you're expecting them to suddenly fall into each other's arms, you've got another think coming."
Billy W. "Well, something's bugging them."
Henry: "Obviously. Look, I ship those two as much as the next. But something's been off there since junior high at least. The divorce? Brad's smart mouth? His smelly, smelly powers? Or just Jenny moving on? I don't know. They're kids."
[Billy just looked as Henry wilted. But, seriously, you could forgive a little boosting from a 20-year-old who was starting Stanford Law in three weeks. That was when Henry vaulted the table and --somehow-- rolled out the swinging door without breaking it or touching the floor. A long moment later, Billy heard the roaring, too. 

Thank Heavens for quick change units. Outside, the parking lot was still half empty on this sunny afternoon, but the laughable Canadian 'highway' stretching back into town was suddenly empty of traffic too, as a very familiar dinosaur chased an old, very loud Japanese motorcycle towards the restaurant. Behind it, something that looked like a half-hearted attempt to disguise a power suit as a velociraptor followed. Out of the corner of his eye, Billy could see that Henry was wearing his father's costume instead of his own. Good. The open collar made him smile, and Henry's hair was even standing on end. Not quite an Afro. How had Mr. Wong even managed that back in the day?]
Billy W.: "I like the hair. Such attention to detail."
Henry: "I hoped you would. I got the idea from my girlfriend."
Billy W.: "You're electrified? Sexy."
Henry: "Oh. Gee. Rule 34?"
[Embarrassed, Henry takes a run at the oncoming dinosaur, but it's learned its lesson, and hauls up its stride into a choppy mince. Unfortunately, dinosaur legs aren't really made to do that, and it topples over into the business frontage road. And twitched as it suddenly glowed green. Were dinosaurs supposed to do that? Was that how they went extinct? 'Scientists Discover: Greenlit Party Bulbs Caused Dinosaur Extinction!' 
Fortunately, Henry had that one figured, too. His target is the robot, which goes down to a leg block. Henry soars twenty feet in the air and comes down on the robot's head. Metal shards fly free. Billy wonders if they're cosmetic, or whether the robot is out already.]
 Wolverine Boy [Billy Tatum, as he kills the engine on his bike just in front of Billy W. There's a smell of oil and gas and hot metal as he shouts in the sudden silence]: "Screw you, dudes! Now we kick your asses! I.. Well, someone kicks your asses!" [He looks back at the Emomobile, and Billy W. looks back, too. Jenny and Brad are crammed out the side exit in the middle of the RV, as far apart as two people can be in the same doorframe, and they're both glowing green. It looked like the fight was over until Billy found himself, familiarly, flying through the air. A streetlight went by him, and in idle hope, Billy reached out for it. Impossibly, he was suddenly flying in the reverse direction, the post a little the worse for wear. 

Billy had a moment to be amazed --had he actually caught something?-- before his momentum dumped him back in the general vicinity of the bearded guy in the ridiculous sailor suit. A tackle would have been too much to hope for, but in the confusion, Billy Tatum wiggled free of the man's grip. Billy had a second of triumph before the concrete gave his chin its customary, gentle greeting.]

Blackguard [Blake Harrison]: "Kids. Never work with kids or dinosaurs. It ain't gonna be pretty getting your asses kicked, so why don't you just let me take this boy back to the clinic?" [His tough guy talk is as ridiculous as his get-up. That's when Billy W., who is used to bouncing off the road by now, punches him, carefully pulling so that Mr. Big Talker doesn't get too badly hurt. In spite of that, blood fountains in the air. Only Mr. Big Talker doesn't stop for a second, just grabs Billy W. and sends him flying again.]
Billy W. "Oh, great. A regenerator. Hey, Billy, I get to beat someone just like you up! Someone heard my prayers!"
Billy T.: "Funny. Hey, dude. Want to play running-with-scissors?"
[Billy is fast, but Henry's who you count on to tag the elusive targets, and the robot and the dinosaur are both wrapped up in one of Anita's entangles, both down for the count. This the point where Henry's foot and Blackguard's head meet cute.]
Blackguard: "Respect."
Henry: "Will you stop with the banter and just damn well stay down?"
Billy T.: "Hey, rope-a-dope is a legitimate tactic, man. Rumble in the jungle?"
Billy W.: "Does that mean something?" [Billy's getting frustrated, edging around the fight and looking for an opening, same as Brad and Jenny and Anita. Billy Tatum, Henry, and Blackguard are just going too fast. That said, he doesn't recognise the reference to Muhammed Ali. Kids today. Amiright?
Blackguard: "You know that I can just wear you kids down one-by-one? How long do you think this can go on before a Necrullite shows up?"
[Asshole! Billy's as angry as he's ever been. It's like time has slowed down, and there's nothing but the side of Blackguard's face and his stupid, stupid sailor beard is hanging in the air like a brick in an old sidescroller, and all Billy has to do is hit it, and for once in his life he doesn't have to worry about hurting a little brother or sister and he can just hit as hard as he can. And suddenly the jerk is soaring towards a distant house. Fortunately for the owners, there's another streetlight in the way, and Billy is wincing as Anita and Jenny make boom-booms on the rebound, which would get serious air if it weren't for another streetlight.
Twilight [Anita Guzman]: "Now that's teamwork!"
Amazing Spleen [Brad Neilsen]: "I hope there's, like, superhero-related lamppost insurance. You'd figure there would be, if the taxpayers are going to be dumb enough to just leave them standing around everywhere."
Snakes-on-a-Plane [Jenny Wong]: "Are you okay, Tate?"
Billy Tatum: "They tried to take me back at the lights in town, but Anita's autopilot robot thingie drove me right through the traffic while I fought them. On the bike!" [Excited, he jumps onto the back of his bike. It topples over. Billy W. winces. A moment ago, the gas tank still had the original factory paint job. How common was that on thirty-year-old bikes? He had no  idea.]
Jenny: "Seriously?"
Billy T.: [Mumbling,] "No, the robot dude fired an entangle at me, and I spent most of the ride out here breaking free. But the important point is that I got away. Epic fail, dudes!"
Anita [Coming in for a landing, her boot jets hissing just like the Mechanic's.]: "You will not believe it. The most amazing thing has happened. The bad guys are getting away while we're standing around talking. Does anyone happen to know how Mr. Armento happens to be free to chase us across two countries?"
Jenny: "Manuel Armento?"
Anita: "Yes?"
Jenny: "He sold me the trip insurance. At the bank. I'm sorry. I just didn't clue in that he was Dinosaur-Guy."
Anita: "He works at the bank, now? So I guess we didn't press charges?"
Billy W.: "Billy and I fought him in civvies. It seemed best not to... I mean, is he El Sauriano, or Captain Boomerang?"
Henry: "No. Captain Boomerang's a comic book character. And he's cool. Okay. Let me guess. We got the insurance under Nita's name, because her name's not Wong, and she's eighteen, and she has a credit card. I presume the bank wants to do Hispanic outreach. So you see a girl who looks like Jenny with a file for Guzman, and you put your prize hire on it..."
Jenny: "I'm sorry I didn't make the connection. But I was kind of distracted, and I was still getting blackouts when I used my 'life energy' powers on Thursday. Besides. He forgot to add the stud insurance to the policy. That's a lot of money off the bill."
Brad: "I wonder what his next job will be?"
Jenny: "You know what this means, right?"
Nita: "That someone at the Croghan clinic is chasing Billy Tatum?"
Jenny: "Duh. If Dr. Croghan isn't a mad scientist, he faked his resume. No. I mean, we officially have an archenemy now!"
Billy W.: "I thought that was killer lap dogs?"
Nita: "No, that was more a theme. El Sauriano, he's an archenemy."
Billy T.: "Cool."
Henry: "Call that an archenemy? In my day, the Legion had archenemies..."
Jenny: "Why are you wearing Dad's old costume, Henry? Oh...."
Billy W. "That's right. I thought of using Henry as a decoy. In advance. Who's the captain?"
[Henry nods gravely to Henry with the tiny smile that says that because it's a joke, he really means it. Billy feels a bubble of pure pride blow up inside himself. ]

The gang didn't even have to pay for their second lunch, as the restaurant threw in free, but this time they ate in the RV. As he boarded the Emomobile, Billy saw that Henry was right. Jenny's Wii was still docked to her Macbook, which was plugged into the cigarette lighter on the dashboard. She was lucky her hardware hadn't been stolen. Someone could have just reached in through the cracked-open front passenger side  door during the fight and scooped all of it. And the tinny sounds of dialogue from Napoleon Dynamite could be heard from Brad's battered old Satellite in the fold down bunk seat way at the back end.

This is the twelfth in a series of fan fictions set in the Champions Universe (a property of the Cryptic Games Studio licensed to DOJ, Inc. for the pen-and-paper Hero Games RPG line). It features the adventures of the teenaged descendants of Philadelphia's superheroic defenders of the "Gold" and "Silver" Age, the Liberty Legion. The new Liberty Legion has been operating for several years now as a mostly self-described auxiliary of Philadelphia's real superteam, the Liberty League.  Former members can be awfully smug when they hang out with the current team, even if they are only twenty and are dating the girl their Mom picked out for them. Who wants you to know that she's a high school graduate and that it's her business, so don't be a hater. 

Defensive. I know. 

 Dixie Lee seems to have scratched its slogan about being Canada's number three fried chicken place in recent years, but I'd recommend the fish, anyway. If you happen to like fish, that is, which some people don't. Policing up accuracy on other matters, I actually have no idea if you can port a Wii into a new model Mac book, nor even whether you can get an adapter to power a Mac book battery off an old model dashboard cigarette lighter. On the other hand, if you know a comic book gadgeteer,  it shouldn't be hard to put it all together. 

Blackguard appears in the Villains, Vandals, and Vermin supplement to Champions, but not, as yet, on Champions Online.  He is the first 400+ point character (556, to be exact) to fight our Liberty Legion lineup, and shouldn't be much of a challenge against a team with a gadgeteer and an exotic attacks specialist, but with 20 rPD/rED and an incredible 75% damage reduction, he makes an extremely frustrating hand-to-hand combatant. On the other hand, he's got no knockback resistance whatsoever. The guy in the powersuit is Leroy the Exoskeletal Man. He's just padding his cv so he can get a job with Foxbat.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

And They Have A Plan

Edit: Fixed hole, 11/02/11.

[Scene: The Leaguemobile, coming back from wherever it is that too-square-for-their-own-good kids hang out in this town. Billy Washington is pulling into a 7-11 parking lot, but the boys are distracted.]

Captain Super Ultra [Billy Washington]: "...Hey, officer! The mall is that way!"
Wolverine Boy [Billy Tatum]: I don't know. Campus cops have to patrol even further than mall cops. Maybe he needs a Segway?"
Billy W.: "Is this even a campus?"
Billy Tatum: "Sure. Well, not quite. The frat houses start next block, and the cowboys handle calls. Plus, Doctor Croghan's clinic is on the next corner. There's always campus security around when I go there, because of the protestors. Blah, blah, mutagenic nerve gas Pentagon blah. Won't stop Grond with kitten cannons."
Brad: "It's stupid."
Billy W.: "It's a fat campus cop on a Segway. Of course it's stupid. Stupid funny. You remember funny, Brad?"
Brad: "Don't want to talk about it."
Billy W.: "Talk about what, Brad?"
Twilight [Anita Guzman]: "Oh! There's Henry!"
Billy W.: "Please remain seated and, y'know, inside the car until we come fully to rest, Nita."
Anita: "Okay, whatev. Uhm, you're going to be okay, Brad?"
Brad: "I'm fine."
Anita: "I'll call you tomorrow morning. Okay?"
Brad: "Okay."
Anita: "Bye, guys!"
Billy W.: "The door...! 'And, goodbye, Nita, he said, talking to himself.'"
Billy W. "Brad...."
Brad [talking quickly, and for once now audibly]: "So, what does Doctor Croghan say, Billy?"
Billy T.: "Same as always. I'm showing progress, my synapses are prunes, maybe I can go to college next year instead of spending my THIRTY-FIFTH GODDAMN YEAR IN HIGH SCHOOL! The first time he said that, I was so excited that I spent August on road trip. It was just like Little Miss Sunshine, which, just coincidentally, was playing that year!"
Billy W. "Now there's an image."
Billy T. "I work with what I've got. Were there any other road trip movies in 2006?"
Billy W. That thing with Tom Green?"
Billy W. "No. I looked it up. That was 2000."
Brad: "Second grade? That was when..." [Brad sounds like he's about to swallow his own tonsils as he grinds to a halt.]
Billy W. "Okay. We got bidness."
Brad: "Bidness? Seriously?"
Billy W. "Shut up. Who's team captain? I'm team captain. And I say that in a situation like this, a super-team gets pro-active."
Brad: "Pro-active?"
Billy W.: "Brad, has anyone ever mentioned that you might even be able to get a girlfriend if you just toned down the sarcasm?"
Billy T. [quickly]: "You have a plan, Glorious Leader?"
Billy W.: "Look, let me read here from a copy of that book Mr. Secret Mastermind sent Dekkar: 'DOSPA's difficulties with sub rosa UN  interventions became more acute with the ratification of the UNTIL Treaty. One of the more notable came late in 1977, when Doctor Dekkar took an apartment building hostage in Philadelphia. The property manager proved to be a local superhero, and in mopping up Dekkar's rather sad efforts, the supervising agents discovered several UNTIL personnel and equipment. Suspicion that the hero's location had been leaked, for reasons of their own, by individuals within UNTIL have never been allayed.' Also, Muppets."
Billy T: "Uhm, what?"
Billy W. "The author has a blog. It has Muppets. It's cool, but he doesn't update anymore, 'cuz he's too busy with real life. And, I guess, writing stuff like this. Bleeah. Look, the Wongs go on a family vacation. An UNTIL agent shows up and romances Jenny. They get back to Philadelphia. Supervillains attack. A cold, clear lead goes right back to a mole within UNTIL who just happens to be stationed right near the place they vacationed. What happens next?'
Brad: "Mr. Wong goes and tears the guy a new one. With extra tearing."
Billy W. "Unh-unh. What happens next is the trap closes right around Mr. Wong. And gets us instead." 

Brad: "So, what, we swing out to Vancouver and drop a text? 'Hey, UNTIL guys! Any agent with a goatee? We teen superheroes from Philadelphia would like to have lunch with him for no reason whatsoever?"
Billy W.: "Of course not. Look, Jenny was saying about the family cancelling another trip West, right. Pick up a horse? We can totally do that for them. Perfect cover"

Brad: "We totally can NOT." 
Billy W.: "What? Why not? You're always talking about how you get to drive  trucks and  trailers up at your Mom's hill last five summers. You, what, got out of school five times this year to drive her SUVs back and forth between the hill and Phillie."
Billy T. "Yeah, didn't you even say you've towed horses a couple times for the Wongs?"
Brad: "Horses. Not the Lion Stallion."
Billy W.: "You're afraid of some horse?"
Brad: "Have you seen the Lion Stallion? It's eighteen-and-a-half hands!"
Billy W. "Pretend I have no idea what that means."
Brad: "It's crazy horsepeople talk for 'that monster is friggin' horse-Shaq.' With Kobe attitude."
Billy T.: "Hee. Horse-Shaq." 
Billy W.: "It doesn't matter. We don't need to haul a horse back to Phillie. We just need to look like we're going to do it. We don't even need a truck. We can just say we're going to rent when we get there."
Brad: "That part's actually no problem. The Wongs have a truck and tailer out there. But we do need to bring our passports."
Billy T: "What, in case super-horse escapes to Canada?"
Brad: "The pasture where they keep the Lion Stallion straddles the border. The Wongs always make sure that they can cross over if they need to."
Billy W.: "Is that legal?"
Brad: "Mrs. Wong says that Mr. Wong's family has owned the land since before there was a Canada."
Billy T. "Cool. Cowboys-and-Indians! Except...didn't Mr. Wong come over from Hong Kong in 1963?"
Brad: "Yeah. His Grandfather sent his Dad back to China in the Twenties after the Exclusion Act."
Billy W.: "'My country 'tis of thee...'"
Brad: "And where do we get the money for this plan?"
Billy W. "Parents? ATM? Same diff."
Brad: "Easy for you to say."
Billy W. "Actually, I have a feeling my aunt will come through. If she was willing to sell my uncle's bike to Mr. My-Brain-regenerates-I-Don't-Need-A-Helmet here, she'll let us use her Airstream." 
Billy T. Summer road trip! Just like last time! Wow, crossing the country, again and again, me and my buddies wearing Happy Face shirts to symbolise the renewal of American optimism after the Vietnam War, helping a member of America's natural ruling class adjust to running a fast food chain instead of the army.."
Billy W: "Okay. I'm pretty sure that was Forrest Gump, Billy."
Billy T.: "My synapses must be pruning again."
Billy W. "Where did you go on the trip, Billy?"
Billy T. "Don't remember, but it was all about the Zen. And motorcycle maintenance. This one is about us being ninjas! And beating in the head of the guy who done Jenny wrong."
Brad: "How can anyone be that stupid?"

[It's a beautiful Friday morning at the Wong's place. It's August in Philadelphia, so it never quite got cool over the night, but the grass is achingly green and the streets are empty as the sun peeks over the houses across the street...

Oh, who am I kidding. It's 11:50. Technically still morning.  Honestly, the kids meant it to be early. And....Look, have you ever organised a summer cross-country road trip? No? Then don't be so critical. And if Jenny can just find her teddy bear ("Kongie," if you have to ask) in the next ten minutes, they'll be off before noon.]

Billy W. : "Oh, Good Lord. No, Brad, you're not."
Brad: "Hunh?"
Billy W. "You forgot your guitar, Brad. Girls, Brad. Are you trying to be a Darwin laureate?"

Brad: "Hunh?"
Billy W.: "Removing yourself from the gene pool for the good of the species?'"
Brad: "Hunh?"
Billy W.: "Hunh? Look. I may act like I don't know what's going on with you and.." [a brief head nod towards the Wongs]
Brad: [The silence that comes from ignoring something really, really hard, so that it will go away and you don't have to embarrass yourself twice about a girl, first by talking about her, and then later when it doesn't happen for you.]
Billy T. "Uh oh. Okay, you guys finish packing the Airstream, go pick up Brad's axe, and we'll meet tomorrow at, uhm, the Harding House in Marion. I gotta get outta here. Give you a ride back to your place, Brad?"

....[Exit a 1976 Suzuki GS750T, suddenly turned into a hardtail by 220lbs of teenager riding pommel.]

Anita: "Am I going nuts, or did Billy just spook off?"
Billy W. "I think he might be skipping some clinic appointments to come with us. Dr. Croghan knows where to look for him. I wonder if he's a Harding fan, too?"
Anita: "President Harding what now? Billy was born in 1891. So he was, what, a toddler during the Harding administration?"
Billy W.: "And his foster parents had another ten years of toilet training to go. Must have been fun."

Anita: "Speaking of crapping ourselves, about this stupid-ass plan, Billy?"
Billy W.: "It's not stupid."
Anita: "It's totally stupid. We're walking into a trap set for the Furious Fists of Wong, dude."
Billy W.: "He's 66 years old. And thirty pounds over his fighting weight. And there's one of him, five of us."
Anita "Mr. Wong used to spar with Dr. Yin Wu. Guy fights the entire Tiger Squad straight up. We're" 
Billy W.: "Okay, first, you worry too much. Second, the whole reason we're doing this is to take responsibility for our lives. News flash: that won't always be candies and rainbows. Third: you're outvoted."
Anita: "Okay, you voted for this because it's your stupid plan. Billy voted for it because 'road trip whoo-hoo.' And Brad voted for it because he hasn't slept in three days,  just watching Scott Pilgrim again and again.  Does it matter that the only sensible people around here voted against?"
Billy W.: "Yeah. But Jenny might have voted no, but her parents haven't said no. Was she really trying?"
Anita: "Hey, Mr. Lonelyhearts, I see what you're doing here. You can push Jenny and Brad together all you like, but Brad blew it long ago."
Billy W.: "Mr. Lonelyhearts to Ms. Teen Spirit: 'Who you callin' black?'"
Anita: "The hell?"
Billy W. "What I'm saying is, your head's not always screwed on, my head's not always screwed on... Not Jenny, not Brad, most of all not the kook who's trying to set Mr. Wong up. We got to push on and try, see what happens. Because if we let ourselves be the kind of people that things happen to, we might as well just sit back, start our own blogs."
Anita: "Captain, my captain." 
Billy W.: "Damn straight.  It would help if someone had a heart-to-heart with Jenny, though."
Anita: "She's not talking to me."
Billy W.: "Again? Girls."
Anita: "Like gay guys are so much better?"
Billy W.: "Better. And fabulous."
Anita: "Much as I like you, Billy W., that's where I draw the line. You do not pull that off."
Billy W.: "Who cares? Road trip! Woo-hoo!"

This is the eleventh in a series of fan fictions set in the Champions Universe (a property of the Cryptic Games Studio licensed to DOJ, Inc. for the pen-and-paper Hero Games RPG line). It features the adventures of the teenaged descendants of Philadelphia's superheroic defenders of the "Gold" and "Silver" Age, the Liberty Legion. The new Liberty Legion has been operating for several years now as a mostly self-described auxiliary of Philadelphia's real superteam, the Liberty League.  Billy Washington is their leader, and he is inspirational, not fabulous. As to whether or not he's slept with Bulldozer, a gentleman doesn't tell. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gung Hey Fat Choy!

So there's a whole lot of ethnic holidays that you can celebrate in Vancouver: Persian New Year; the Indian festival of lights. I can even take ownership of Robbie Burns Day.

Heh. That's a good one. It's like, "Let's have a celebration because we're Scottish!" Not all Scottish in my family by a long shot, but some. We eat haggis and play the kilt and wear bagpipes and it's stupid. Stupid stupid stupid.

Why? Because difference should be disposed, not disposative. When we need the sources of difference in our background, ethnicity, race, hobby, what have you, we can deploy them for the creation and justification of identity. I'm a nerd; I don't have to justify my interest in comic books. That kind of thing. When our background disposes, that's a problem. You can see that by comparing Scots and Jews on money. Scots are thrifty. Ha ha. It's funny. Jews are thrifty. It's a negative stereotype.

Why the double standard? Because we're talking about Scots and Jews. Scots are the establishment who discriminate against Jews, and that's why Jewish cheapness is disposative, while Scots dispose of their cheapness for a good laugh. At least, if Scots had senses of humour, they would. You know who's funny? ...Hmm. Maybe I won't go there.

Anyway, about Lunar New Year: anyone can celebrate it, but most of us normally don't. Those who do ..well, it ..disposes of Asian Canadians. Traps them in their ethnicity and race, whereas some of us want to open the cage door and get them out. (Or, all conflicts of interest admitted, get inside. The point here is "get.")

But there's always a way to celebrate a holiday without getting bogged down in esoteric meanings and liberal guilt. It's to celebrate the holiday!

With the rising of the Moon tonight, the new year is fully on us. A new year is the year's dawn. All the day is before us. Let us hope it gets us happiness.

Picture stolen from someone with goddamned autoplay on their blog. Vengeance!