LNH: Lone Boy Team-Up #1
ben.rawluk at gmail.com
Mon Dec 6 20:48:46 PST 2021
LONE BOY TEAM-UP #1
By Ben Rawluk
The problem with being Lone Boy is the team-ups. You wouldn't think so, right? Only, there's Cal. They go on adventures together all the time. That's different, though. They're together. And then there's, well, the entire Legion, but that's a proximity thing. Even with Max's quarters in the third sub-basement, you can't go twenty minutes without getting embroiled in some kind of team-up. Captain Basement told him he was the kind of gritty special guest star they bring in all the time to boost sales. And, okay, sometimes he hangs out with Posture Prince and Stature Queen, sure. They get drunk or watch movies in his quarters sometimes. They're Cal's friends. He hangs out with them because of Cal.
(And the issue of Posture Prince's crush on Cal, which, well.)
And now there's this, there's being backed against a wall in the pouring rain with Gerund Girl, Cal's sister, who beat the hell out of him way back when he was getting started, working as an underling for Boss Emoji. Boss Emoji, whose current crop of underlings are the ones surrounding them, the ones with the yellow pie-plate masks and the purple jumpsuits, brandishing the mood rings. Probably thirty seconds away from driving them both mad with them.
The Big Moods.
That one's wearing his old mask, actually.
"I didn't need to be rescued," Max says. "I don't need you following me around."
Gerund Girl rolls her eyes. "They had you upside down in that dumpster five minutes ago." She has to shout over the sound of her flaming chainsaw, which she's waving back and forth between them and the underlings. "And I wasn't following you. Cal asked me to spend some time with you."
"I'm pretty sure following twenty feet behind and very clearly taking notes counts as following."
"I didn't want to interrupt you while you were narrating your little war journal."
Rather than answer her, Max roars, loud enough to knock Sad Face over. Whatever, Sad Face is a dick. Being an underling always felt like living with four roommates in some dingy dormitory hoping for your five minutes of publicly menacing Kid Kirby or somebody someone's heard of; you kind of have to be a bit of a dick to survive that. He glares across at the new Angry Face and ends up saying, "I hope you sanitized that mask."
"Oh good," says Angry Face. "You remembered that we're here." His mood ring flares red and he holds it up, although there isn't much conviction. "The Boss doesn't take lightly to his guys going off and joining the other side, you know? You signed the non-compete agreement."
"That just means I can't be someone else's underling. I'm on a redemption arc."
"Oh my god, this again," Gerund Girl says, surging forward, swinging the chainsaw in an arc around them - none of the Big Moods get out of the way in time, scream as the flames pass through them before collapsing onto the pavement, moaning. Laughter Face is shrieking, Happy Face weeping, Angry Face laughing and Sleepy Face wriggling around like a worm. Only Sad Face is still, motionless and silent. The Kiss of the Logodemon. "This isn't a sitcom," she says eventually, the chainsaw dissolving into fading embers.
"What the hell!" Max throws his hands up. "We had a - I was doing a thing, okay? You could have continued with the whole creepy stalking thing - which is another one of my things, actually!"
"Yes, I've seen your file."
"You've seen my file?" He rounds on her, knows that the fangs and claws and burning red eyes around out now. Cal is going to kill Max if he gets into another fight with Cal's sister, and she's just going to blame it on him because of course he's the one with the berserker rage in his file. He wasn't even going to go out on patrol tonight; he's supposed to be seeing a movie on the other side of town with Cal and Stature Queen and, of course, Posture Prince because that guy invites himself along to anything if Cal's going to be there. Except it's raining, and brooding in the rain is one of his *other* super-powers, and then he spotted these knuckleheads. It was inevitable after that. "Look," he says, after counting backwards from ten. "I'm pretty sure Cal meant we should go bowling or something, not that you should run a background check on me."
"What am I supposed to do? I came back and my baby brother's dating a net.villain!"
"If you say the words redemption arc, I'm breaking out the chainsaw again."
Max takes a full step back. He remembers what it felt like, the last time; after his soul was stretched out until it threatened to snap, he felt himself become numb. It was months before he could even get out of bed. He wishes Cal were here, all of a sudden; he could say something to stop her, she wouldn't make a move around him. That's *Cal's* super-power. "My point is, I was handling it." He gestures at the underlings, still shivering all around them. It's eerie, reminds him why Boss Emoji always had such a grudge against her. "If I have to team up with somebody, I don't want them having the same schtick."
"I think of it as more of a rivalry," she says. "Did you *want* to go bowling?"
"It was just an example."
"I'm not going bowling with you," Gerund Girl says.
"I don't care about bowling."
"Good," Gerund Girl says. "Because this isn't about bonding or becoming friends or whatever. This is about me keeping my eye on you." Each i-n-g hums as she says it, flaming swirling around her face, flames seem to peel back her skin.
"I mean, of course you can light your head on fire for dramatic effect on top of everything else. This isn't fair."
Lone Boy (Max Mitchell), Gerund Girl (Geri Munro), Never Lad (Calvin Munro), Captain Basement, Stature Queen, Boss Emoji and the Big Moods (Sad Face, Happy Face, Laughter Face, Sleepy Face, Angry Face II) created by me, copyright 2021.
Posture Prince was an offhand remark by Drew Perron
Amid a very busy time at work when I'm also in between writing projects, I decided to throw together another instalment of the adventures of Gerund Girl, Never Lad and Lone Boy. Will I do another one soon? Hopefully, it was fun to just churn something out in an hour. For the record, I very much picture everybody in the style of Ramon Perez's artwork, for some reason. For someone so enamoured with super-heroes I tend to avoid fight scenes, so actually putting a tiny bit of action was fun.
I've been fiddling with the idea for this for a while now, but it took me a while to come to the right voice for Max. I have a whole little clique and social dynamic for Cal and Max that I have forming in my head; any excuse to resurrect Captain Basement from an old issue of Dashing Tales.
For the record, I blame Posture Prince on the LNHQ's habit of spontaneously generating new Legionnaires any time you think of a name at random.
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