Legion of Lawndale Heroes
Written by Brother Grimace
Legion of Lawndale Heroes created by James Bowman
11.3 – 'Brain Damage'
If there was one surefire way one could use to consistently inflame Daria Morgendorffer's legendary temper, it was to (in any fashion) allude to, and in her presence, that which was blatantly obvious.
The fact that she was a beautiful woman.
The Bedrock, by Lysette and True Barron
"Daria... are you still mad at Tom?"
"Your lips may say no, but the Ping of Death says 'yes, yes, yes," Jane smirked. "Give him a break, okay? A half-hour ago, he looked up in the air and saw a willy the size of one of the guns on the Battleship Missouri... and not only was it attached to the only other guy around in a group of girls – and you KNOW everyone's thought of this – but the other guy can also turn into any man that any girl could want or dream of. Add that to the fact that Charles is also smarter than he is, can fly a plane and fly on his own, too... yeah, our young Master Thomas has been neatly and securely put in his place."
"Don't forget the Colonel's new nickname for him," Daria said, giving up a loose smile as she swirled a spoonful of oatmeal around the bowl before eating it.
"How could I?" Jane smirked, taking another bite of her giant waffle. "I'll eventually let him off the hook... but for the next few days - I'm going to have a Stepford Boyfriend."
Another piece of the waffle disappeared, and Jane chased it down with a small carton of two-percent milk. "So you can speak in other languages now?" "That's not the way it works," Daria explained. "Mr. Randall said that it seems like I can sub consciously send out a telepathic signal that causes the speech and language centers in my brain to actively resonate in unison with the speech and language centers in someone else's brain, so that we both can understand what the other's saying."
"Wait a minute – so it's like you can understand what they're saying?"
"No – I mean, no just what their words are, but what the words mean?"
"You mean, like 'ebonics' or 'dudespeak'?" Daria bit off the end of a toast triangle, and chewed slowly. "Well, if I can understand their meaning because I'm getting it straight from their brain, I guess so."
"That's great! You can be just like the grandmother from Airplane! 'Excuse me, stewardess – I speak 'jive..."
"I also speak in nonverbal languages. Want to see the universal signal for –"
Daria looked over to see Trent walk into the Legion cafeteria, and as Jane hugged her brother and then walked him over to the self-serve lines, Tom came over and stood next to Daria's table, a tray in hand. "Um... can we talk?"
Daria shrugged, and Tom sat town on the other side of the table. "Before we start – should I get you a lead-lined blindfold?"
"Wouldn't matter – I can see through lead," Tom grumbled. "Figured that out really quickly; I can see through almost anything – but I can't see colors. It's like seeing the way an airport scanner does, but worlds sharper and clearer. I can see into someone's body, all the way down to their arteries, and I can see the individual cells moving through-"
His eyes grew wide as Daria's did, and a huge smile went across his face. "I've got microscopic-vision!"
"Probably 'telescopic', too, if it works in reverse," Daria said, her expression souring. "Super-strength, speed, invulnerability, heat vision, this 'shape vision', and now, super-vision. You're just so incredibly perfect, aren't you?"
The smile Tom wore as he reached for a biscuit vanished immediately. "Daria... I was under the impression that-"
"Excuse me, but as far as I'm concerned, you're still new here – and you need to be doing things that allow us to trust you," Daria growled.
"Trust me? Where did that come from?"
"Never mind," she said, suddenly focusing her attention on the sausages on her plate. "I'm eating."
"Look, I came over here to tell you that I'm sorry for you thinking that I-"
"You need to stop right now, " she snapped. "For one thing, you're not a very good liar. Second, you're trying way too hard."
"Trying way too hard? I'm just saying that I'm sorry!"
"Jane's cool with what happened. Let it go."
"But if you're not going to forgive me, or at least try to, it's going to rub things wrong with Jane," Tom replied. "I'm the boyfriend, you're the best friend – if we can't get along, then it's going to catch up with the way we both deal with her. All I'm asking is that you forgive me for being a incredibly heinous jackass who did something very stupid – even though he really didn't mean to – and should have come forward right away. I'm sorry for what I did, Daria. I'm not saying that because I think that's what you want me to day. I really am sorry."
Daria looked at the expression on his face, then shrugged and took another bite of oatmeal. "Holding a grudge takes up too much time and energy," she said finally. "Besides, from what happened earlier, Jane figures that you've been punished enough."
Tom finally seemed to relax. "She's right – after my shape-vision kicked in, the first thing that I did was close my eyes and shift to invulnerability; I was NOT going to look in Sgt. Nemec's direction, and besides, looking up at Charles was something that I'm never going to be able to unsee-!"
"Jane said, 'a willy the size of a battleship gun..."
"Funny – I was thinking 'the Emperor' from the Star Wars movies."
"Large, pale, deformed-looking and wearing a hood..."
Everyone in the cafeteria turned with shocked expressions as they heard a nearly-unknown sound – the sound of Daria Morgendorffer bursting out into fits of laughter. "What the hell is going on over here?" Jane said, a look bridging shock and surprise on her face as she led an equally-stunned Trent over to the table. "Tom, what the hell did you say to Daria?"
"He told me about his punishment," Daria giggled – and at that moment, Jane seriously wondered if she should have Quinn stun Daria – or do it herself with a static charge – and then go search both Daria's room and the Morgendorffer house for the discarded pod this person had to have come out of. "Sit down – I'll tell you about it. Trent! Hello!"
Trent flashed a quick look between Daria and Tom, and then sat down across from his sister. "Hey," he said, nodding towards Tom. "So... what's been happening?"
Daria's response was cut off as Stacy, escorted by Armalin, walked through the cafeteria door. She made for the serving line as Armalin looker around at the Legionnaires and other assorted individuals there, and then left. "Hey, I guess that was our warning not to miss the meeting in fifteen minutes," Jane said, scarfing a couple of Trent's sausages and swiping a carton of milk before attacking her waffle once again. "So, what did he say to make you laugh?"
"If I tell you now, that waffle will be all over us," came the reply. "After you're finished. What's been going on, Trent?"
"Not much. I ran into Mr. DeMartino yesterday evening; I was at the mall, doing the Global Flapjacks thing."
"He works there?" Jane asked, surprise in her voice. "That's not right – that's not fair! I heard that Ms.Defoe didn't get hired on by the district, either-"
"She didn't want the job they offered her," Trent interrupted. "They wanted her to be the Assistant Principal over at Polk High. They wanted to put a woman in that spot – they wanted to put Ms. Li there but the entire faculity rose up and threatened to quit if they brought her in over them. The ghost of Lawndale High walks in other places, man."
Daria's eyes were round as saucers. "I didn't see that one coming."
Trent smiled a very uncharcteristic smile, and the girls at the table drew back. "There's more?" Jane asked, and Trent nodded. "Okay, she didn't take the job, so where is Ms. Defoe now?
"Staying with Mr.DeMartino."
"Oh-kaaay... didn't see that one coming, either," Daria swallowed, as Jane just stared with disbelief.
"Uh, Daria," Tom said, looking at the expression on Trent's face, "Consider that one Zyra. I think he's about to drop Bellus right on top of you."
"Cool – he watches George Pal movies," Trent nodded. "Mr. DeMartino's not working because he doesn't have to anymore – well, he's not a teacher anymore. He took early retirement and the cash-"
"Okay, that explains how-"
Trent cut Jane off. "-Because he sold his first novel and got serious advance money for the second one. He's only staying around Lawndale because Ms. Defoe liked it here, and wants to go back to work at the new Lawndale High."
There was silence at the table. "When Worlds Collide' is right," Daria finally spoke up. "So they're a couple?"
"I got the impression that that's none of my business, but yeah, I think," Trent told her. "You could probably ask – he said to tell you guys thanks for all of the help, and that if you ever wanted anything, even to talk, he'd have the door open for you."
"Great!" Jane barked. "Let's get some treats for a gift basket and go over tonight – I was wondering how Ms. Defoe was doing! This is great – she's doing okay, right?"
"I guess so."
"After the meeting with the Colonel, I'll have somebody in the kitchen whip up something like a beef brisket or something with all the trimmings, and we'll go over!" Jane was bouncing in her seat with happiness. "I'm going to need to go out and get some flowers..."
"Trent spoke up. "Colonel? That Marine guy Armalin's gone now?"
"No – he came back from Washington with a serious promotion and a Navy Cross", Tom said. "Hey – you're looking for him? He was just here!"
"No, I'll talk to him later."
"What are you up to, Trent? Thinking about enlisting?"
"Eat your waffle."
Furmaan Singh stirred as Alimah Kaur slid her long, slender fingers over his bare chest, and opened his eyes to see the slender, uncomfortably lovely young woman half-leaning, half-seated besides him.
"Good morning, beloved."
Singh blinked, then opened his eyes fully and slid away from the massive bed. "I have set out your clothes for the day, prepared your bath and requested-" Alimah hesitated for a moment as Singh cast a sharpened glance at her. "Pardon me – I ordered the staff to have your breakfast ready in exactly thirty-five minutes." She allowed her eyes to drop for a moment – the appropriate deference, he thought – before she spoke again. "If you would like, I can... assist you with your bath."
A smile appeared upon Singh's face, and he was pleased by the way Alimah blushed as he let his eyes roam over her. Even though he knew he was expected – no, almost required to take a wife and continue the bloodlines of TRUE humanity by fathering children, he felt that his time would be better served in his duties.
Executive Director for North America. He was one of the ten most powerful humans on Earth: the six Executive Directors (one per continent) and the Council of Four (each with absolute sovereignty over a quarter of the world, as defined by the divisions of the equator and the Prime Meridian – this was a division that on occasion caused slight friction due to the location of specific and significant locations, such as Great Britain).
He had resources – personal resources - at his fingertips that would shame most nations. He had controls upon the grubworms that were beyond imagining – for example, Hollywood was, for all possible reasons, his personal exercise in lowering the intelligence, moral fiber and general work ethic of the grubworm population as a whole... Baywatch. That was one of his better schemes, and he laughed until he cried on that day in 1993, when he sat at his desk and looked at the cover of Entertainment Weekly that declared that Baywatch was the most popular program on Earth. Then, there was also that cuckoo Spelling, and the decades of thought-crimes he had perpetuated upon the grubworms with the television programs he'd brought forth... with his powers, he could have created things of actual beauty and worth, but we all have our parts to play, and the money and influence he had over the grubworms occasionally allowed him to forget his place... well, for one who'd done his job so well, a touch of insubordination was allowed from time to time, especially since neither of his children were allowed to manifest...
Alimah understood the look that he gave her, and she turned towards the bath, letting her thin, silken robe slide free from her as she entered the adjoining room. Well, the task won't be entirely difficult, he thought. Twenty years old, handpicked by the Council for him from a pool of two hundred and forty women first identified and nurtured as potential mates for him ten years ago, and after being narrowed down to the final three... Alimah was chosen for him. Actually, he would have preferred Erisa Tal – a petite Israeli beauty with dark eyes that burned like fire, she was four years older than Alimah, not even on the same scale as her in terms of beauty and a touch too outspoken - she had actually demanded to be allowed to attend the University of Southern California, for the reason of learning about what the 'grubworms' were like firsthand without Elite resources to smooth her way – but she would have been an invaluable resource for him. Easily for her abilities to literally divine any information ever input or transferred through any form of media from any computer source – but moreover, for the immediate connection that they had made when they first met. He respected her opinion, and he also trusted her implicitly – a privilege he gave no other person alive.
Now, she was safe in her Colorado residence, just below the Rocky Mountains. Erisa loved the mountains and had chosen to raise their child there, in that immensely affluent area (even by the standards of the Elite)... their child, due in six weeks; a special dispensation allowed by the Council for his decades of unfailing service in which he had never failed in an assignment.
In the meanwhile, there was the nubile, respectable Alimah, a Sikh like himself; their marriage would provide the respectability and the unblemished, pure-strain, human heritage demanded of all Elite. They would both bear his children, and both children he would love equally - but in other matters, they would learn and understand that out of necessity... some are more equal than others.
Singh shaded his eyes from the early morning sunlight that filled the immense room that was the master bedroom in his Manhattan residence, tens of stories above the city 'true humans' referred to as the capital city of the planet. He gazed out over the cityscape, and his thoughts turned to Dynell.
Dynell, his failures... and the growing problem of the Legion.
It is almost humor that Armalin is doing what Dynell is failing to do, he thought. He's training them to control their powers, but also in the clandestine use of them as well. He's instilling in them the understanding of what could happen if they go public with their abilities at any level beyond the parlor tricks that they demonstrated to those silly corporates... He's teaching them that anonymity, and the continual ignorance of what they truly are in the eyes of the general public, is the only path to travel. Had I any idea that he would have done this... I may have actually attempted to have Armalin brought into the Elite.
After all, that bit of work he did for the grubworm Vitale was very nicely done – he was paid quite well, from what I recall... and that was when he was only a child, so to speak. With twenty years of training and experience behind him, and the desire to protect and train the young ... perhaps, someday, he could even replace Dynell? He has a better record – and one cuckoo is no different from another, except that this one will care for our young more efficiently-
Furmaan Singh found himself suddenly engulfed in incandescent agony; a delicious swelling of sensation beyond pain swirled about his body and held him aloft as it seemed to dig not into his physical form and desecrate it on uncountable levels, but deep within his soul. Tendrils of acrid light and fire jerked about eternity as it made his mind's eye explode, literally burning away memories, his thoughts becoming ash and choking him from within a thickening, burning cloud of thought come alive on demon's wings, tearing away until charcoal-tinged slivers and fetid blisters spurting out a life's memories into the void were all that was left within the shattered remnants of his mind...
The light had a purplish hue, burning with an acid-edged scent of ozone that took all that Singh ever was away with it as it dissipated into nothingness...
The last sensation he experienced, to his surprise, was the feeling of his unborn child moving inside Erisa; the warmth and softness of her olive skin bare against his own, and feeling the muscles in his face move as he couldn't help but smile-
He dropped to the floor.
There was not a single mark on his perfect form; his breathing was steady and even as he lay there for twenty-three seconds – until a security detail of three men and a woman burst into the room. Each had a bluish-green sphere of force enveloping their right hand; as each entered the room on the run, a thin, metallic fan-like screen snapped open upon their left forearms into a perfect circle the size of a dinner plate, and a bluish-green screen five feet in diameter buzzed into life.
The detail dropped around Singh in a well-practiced manner to shield his body as the shortest man slapped a small metal canister the size of a cigarette box on the floor besides him; the woman disarmed her sphere and shield as a sphere of pure force like their arm shields FWOOOMPHed! into life around and beneath them. "Burning Sand!" the woman spoke, pressing on the micro-transceiver she wore in her right ear after quickly checking Singh over. "Burning Sand! The Caliph is down – I repeat, the Caliph is down!"
The sound of the woman's voice drew Alimah to the bathroom door; she bit off a cry as one of the men turned and pointed his right hand at her. "Remain where you are, ma'am. Do not move."
She stood where she was, forgetting her disrobed state as a team of medics and seven men with heavy assault rifles came in at a run; the shock-troops arranging themselves in a circle and blocking Singh's body from outside view as the security detail cleared a path for the medics. "Harmon, hit him with a sustainer field – Bealer, go down to the bottom," the woman in charge of the Detail hissed as the protective shield came down. "Level Six emergency medical clearance applies here – no punitive actions will be taken for the scan."
The brown-haired woman in glasses moved out of the way of the other medic, whose hands seemed to emit a low-pitched, vibratory noise as he placed one hand on the left side of Singh's waist and the other over his chest, and put her hands on either side of the fallen man's head. "He's empty."
"What the hell do you mean?"
"He's running on autopilot – someone hit him and hit him hard!" Bealer snapped back. "He's gone, and unless you've got some people who know what they're doing, he's not coming back. Total neural burn – brain's good but the programs are cashed. They took him back to the womb!"
Two women and two men, led by a very plain man who looked slightly out of place entered the room with their weapons drawn as they headed straight for Alimah. "My lady – you have to leave," the plain man said, his eyes moving about the area as one of his female agents fixed the robe over Alimah and took her hand. "We're moving you to the safe area –now. Let's go."
"My job is to protect you, my lady. Let me and my people do our jobs."
The small group headed for the door when the woman agent rose to her feet. "Don't take her far-"
"Don't mess with me, Wild." the plain man responded, not breaking step. "You watch yours, I'll watch mine."
"Good morning, Legionnaires!"
"Good morning, sir!"
Armalin smiled as he stood at the podium positioned at the front of the Conference Table. "Roughly six months ago, I met some of the greatest challenges to the beliefs that led me to put on a Marine Corps uniform and defend this country. That, ladies and gentlemen, would be you."
He let the sounds of indignation waft upwards; they had earned the right. "I have now – slightly – altered my original position on your collective worth. Today, you will have the opportunity to alter it further."
As the Legionnaires suddenly perked up, some shifting in their seats, Armalin lifted up a small remote and the 150-inch plasma-screen television that made up a good portion of the wall behind him came on, displaying a spectacular view of a wilderness bordered by a beautiful waterway. "Grace Island. It's a small island located in South Central Alaska. It was designated as a National Park two years ago by the President under the Antiquities Act."
Armalin turned to the young people. "Six hours from now, you're going to be on the ground there."
The room rumbled, and Charles raised his hand. "Six hours? That's a couple of thousand miles away on the other side of the continent – we have to fly over most of North America to get there! That's an ten-to-twelve hour flight!"
"We have really good jets." He wondered how Charles was going to react to flying in a hypersonic transport – kid'll probably sport a woody he can use to fly the thing with. It's the usual reaction. "You will be participating in a survival exercise of extended duration, with a number of specific mission objectives which you will be required to complete successfully in order to receive a passing grade. Once you hit the ground, you will receive your orders as to your objectives. I will say, however, that none of these objectives will necessarily require the use of your abilities, and that – with your training, hard work, and the knowledge that you are a team and that you can depend upon one another – I have no doubt in your mind that you will succeed."
He turned to face Quinn. "Miss Morgendorffer – assemble your team, and draw whatever equipment you and your people will need. Don't hesitate to ask for advise or accept suggestions. Take care of everything you need – we're 'wheels up' in sixty."
Armalin looked slowly around the room one last time. "Legionnaires – welcome to the Outlast."