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.

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