Spacer And Knowing Is Half the Battle 186
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Phoenix Talon finds something every proper super-hero needs: a nemesis.



June 20, 1987

In the weeks since the hectic events of mid-May, Phoenix Talon had gotten back into his usual routine—keeping the streets of Boston safe from crime, watching for gang activity, etc.. At the same time, he hadn't been feeling quite like himself; he'd been gone for a while, things had been crazy when he got back, and now he wasn't quite sure what to do with himself, though he did enjoy the effects of the team's wild surge in popularity.
    Maybe partly thanks to that last factor, the government had arranged a meeting between the publicity department at Agglomerated MegaCorp and any Revolution members who cared to attend. AMC now had a deal with the state for the use of the group's name and image in a variety of forms, not just limited to the Starr Krunchies and Korean Ghost Nose Cereal products. Talk of comics, maybe a movie, action figures, had all been mentioned in passing. They expected him to be at the meeting, as the team member they thought most likely to be interested in the deal.
    John knew that his mom would be thrilled: this is it, this is the big time, the money's going to start rolling in... even if none of it would be seen by actual team members. But at least they'd have something like a budget to work with. He wasn't really sure how he felt about it, though; he would be happier if the rest of the team seemed inclined to go along with it. He had talked to Dawn about his equivocal feelings.
    "I thought this was the sort of thing you wanted?" she asked.
    "I don't know.... Had that movie thing, that fell through. I've got what Ma wanted. I'm famous. I don't know... she never really had it thought through."
    "All right. If you're not doing it for the fame, then why are you doing it?"
    "That's a good question, hon. I guess... well, superheroes are supposed to good, right? And protect people, and shit."
    She sighed. She always sighed when he swore.
    "Here's an idea," he said suddenly. "The Blood punks. They're gettin' out today. What if I was to try to make them into, like, the Phoenix Talon Irregulars, or somethin'? 'Cause they can fight. I could show 'em a few tricks." Reilly had passed on word that, thanks to some oft-exploited loopholes in the juvenile detention laws, some of the Blood Boards were about to be released back into their natural habititat in a couple of days.
    "Turn them into productive members of society?"
    "Yeah, like that movie there. Kids Town. No, Boys Town. Like that."
    "I thought you said they were loser punks with no hope in life who your main joy of existence was 'pummelling the crap out of?'" she quoted accurately.
    "But that's just it, hon, they don't have to be like that! They're just poor kids from Dot, you know Massapequa was no garden party, but... it's an idea. Thanks, hon. It's been good talkin' to you."
    "No problem. I guess." She had that faintly puzzled look that often followed their conversations.
    Phoenix Talon changed into street clothes, wearing his utility belt under his jacket, and left the bokken at home. Then he took a hovercycle and flew out to the house where Richard Picone, the highest-ranking of the new releases, lived. He knocked at the door. A curtain moved, and the door opened with the chain on.
    "Hey. I'm lookin' for Rick Picone, you're him, right?"
    "Yeah." Guarded.
    "I'm Phoenix Talon. Wanted to talk to ya for a second."
    "Hang on a second." He closed the door. Phoenix Talon could hear whispering.
    I don't believe this. What? Is he allowed to be hasslin' us like this? All right, get out of here, but I'll be there. Go.
    The door opened again. "Yeah, what? I ain't done anythin', I just got out today."
    "No, no, it ain't like that," he reassured the youth. "I got a proposition."
    "What?" Rick's expression said that this better be good.
    "Can I come in?"
    "Yeah, I guess, otherwise you'll just kick the door in."
    He looked around; no sign of the parents or anyone else. The living room was a little dingy, but free of anything that looked incriminating. The kitchen table held a bunch of parts that might have been one of the board engines or might have been a model plane kit. Phoenix Talon sat down. "So, how was the house?"
    "It sucked," was the wary reply.
    "That's what it's supposed to do. Now I was wondering. Maybe you don't want to go back there."
    "Hey man, I'm clean, I'm legit, I done my time."
    "Yeah, but there's always more time to do," Phoenix reminded him. "Listen, this is what I was thinking. You guys want to have a gang, okay, you be my gang." Rick looked incredulous. "I could whip all your asses," Phoenix Talon reminded him. "And I can show you how. You want to fight? I'll show you how to fight. I'll show you how to really fight, without those stupid little gadgets that you got."
    "What, r'you dissin' our boards?"
    Phoenix was willing to give on that point. "Okay, you want to keep the boards, we keep the boards. But you gotta play it straight, that's what I'm saying."
    "What'd'you mean, we do this whole goody-two-shoes Boy Scout routine, and then what?" He still sounded overtly suspicious.
    "It ain't like that. You go on, I'll make sure eventually you all get jobs and shit, and you get a real life. You can't do this for the rest of your life, otherwise you just go back to the house again and again. What, I'm not the only superhero in town. If you could beat me—which you can't, I might add," just to keep the record straight there, "—there's ten right behind me."
    "You got new teammates?"
    "Hypothetically," Phoenix Talon explained patiently. "So you want to be on our side and be part of the ten."
    "You want us to be like superheroes, working for you." No flicker in that facade.
    "You get to kick just as much ass, and the police don't hassle you." Pause. "Listen, just an idea. You think about it." He gave the kid his personal phone number. "You think about it, talk to the other guys, they're out too, right?"
    "Have a chat, really think about it. Think about those showers, back in the house. You want to do that again?

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson