With this mini, I've come a little bit closer to something that I've been working towards ever since I started working on writing LLH. This Mini' takes place after the events of Where Did Quinn Go? - Parts One and Two, and directly references the events therein
On The Cutting Edge
A Legion of Lawndale Heroes ‘Mini’, by Brother Grimace
Legion of Lawndale Heroes created by James Bowman
They would become our greatest enemies. No one caused more trouble for us than they did – and when you look at the list of people who had it in for us, that says a lot.
It really shouldn’t have surprised us that he was one of them. It didn’t surprise Daria, Jane or Trent – who actually knew him, or encountered him before (and Lord knows by now that if you’re reading this, than you’ve already read lots of stuff on that jackass, right?) – or Mack and Jaime, who knew that type all too well.
Quinn was the one that was surprised most of all – and really, she shouldn’t have been. To be honest, it’s a surprise that he was one of the few who ever did something like this. I still remember how that rich guy from Tom’s old school didn’t take it well when he found out why Quinn broke up with him – they dated over the summer before Julia’s year as the USAES Legion Liaison was up, it was a big thing, you saw them at the Young Hollywood Awards, right? (BTW – that’s when Tom got back in good with Daria all the way. Tom stepping up and having words with his old ‘lax bro’ – and meaning it that he’d do horrible things to him but NOT kill him; Daria may act like she can’t stand Quinn, but that’s her sister.) Still, when the world sees you embarrass a guy like him, in public – and then, when the rumors started to leak out about Quinn…
Some guys just never grow up.
- from The Collected Diaries of Anastasia Rowe, Legionnaire
A rōnin was a samurai with no lord or master during the feudal period (1185–1868) of Japan. A samurai became masterless from the death or fall of his master, or after the loss of his master's favor or privilege.
According to the Bushido Shoshinshu (based upon the Code of the Samurai), a samurai was supposed to commit seppuku (also "hara kiri" — ritual suicide) upon the loss of his master. One who chose not to honor the code was "on his own" and was meant to suffer great shame. The undesirability of rōnin status was mainly a discrimination imposed by other samurai and by daimyo, the feudal lords.
Because the former samurai could not legally take up a new trade, or because of pride were loath to do so, many rōnin looked for other ways to make a living with their swords. Those rōnin who desired steady, legal employment became mercenaries that guarded trade caravans, or bodyguards for wealthy merchants. Many other rōnin became criminals, operating as bandits and highwaymen, or joining organized crime in towns and cities. Rōnin were known to operate, or serve as hired muscle for gangs that ran gambling rings, brothels, protection rackets, and other similar activities. Many were petty thieves and muggers. The criminal segment gave the rōnin of the Edo period a persistent reputation of disgrace, with the image of thugs, bullies, cutthroats, and wandering vagrants.
- from the Wikipedia article on Ronin
Tommy Sherman learned to follow and trust The Voice.
It was a woman’s voice – smooth, sultry, not too sexy - and smart; you could hear that she had some brains in how she talked, but she wasn’t a bitch.
To his ears, she sounded like ‘that old English chick that told James Bond what to do’ – and if she could help James Bond kill all of those dudes and score all of those world-class babes, then that was an old chick that you could listen to. Hell, she didn’t even get mad that he was hitting it – in one of those movies, she told him to go out and tap that ass, and it didn’t even matter that the babe was married, either!
I can do that, Tommy Sherman reasoned. If she can help me learn how to fight, teach me all of this stuff I need to know, give me the right food to keep me up and keep me waist deep in those ‘holo-babes’ – whatever that means, but damn, they’re all hot babes, and every one of them can suck a dick big time! – I can do this. Between this, the pussy and the money I’m getting from the General… oh, yeah.
He also promised that I get the big prize. Oh, yeah. Because of that skinny little carrot-topped bitch, I lost everything. Using that tricky karate stuff and those shoes with batteries in them – come on, all you had to say was that you wanted to eat some clam dip! I can get behind that! We could have gone out and you could let me watch as I’m doing mine – and then we could have traded off!
Thanks, General. You helped me out when nobody else would come near me, because of that Quinn bitch.
Days became weeks. Weeks became months. Months became seasons. Seasons became years.
Time blended, moved on, became meaningless; with every sunset, Tommy Sherman practiced with his instructors, and always with The Voice in his head as she guided his training, kept him focused on his goals, and reminded him of what awaited him at the finish.
Swing. Cut. Parry. Deflect. Drive.
Follow the Axe. Like ‘The Force’ in the movies, it will assume partial control of your direction, but it will also follow your commands.
Follow the Axe. Guide the Axe. Become the Axe. You and the Axe are one.
Practice. Practice more. Practice harder. Learn. Keep learning. Here in the Box, you can do a week’s practice in a minute – it’s a week in here for you, but outside, barely a minute passes – that’s what the General told you, right?
The best part of all is the drops. No matter how long you stay in the Box learning how to use the Axe – you will receive a drink upon exiting. Any drink of your choice - with three drops of the gold syrup that the General has saved for such a special occasion; for a special person, one deserving of such an honor.
That would be you, Thomas. You are special. Without us, you might have spent years or even decades in a prison cell, tossed aside by your football franchise, gone to seed where your… special affinity… would have gone to waste. Without us, you would have been ridiculed, excoriated and then abandoned by the media. Without us, you would have descended into obscurity, another forgotten face in the masses.
Without you, our plans may have been delayed for years – or been dashed entirely. Without you, a power that the world needs would have been left untapped and unknown. Without you – the world would be denied a hero that it sorely needs.
By joining us – you will be exalted; you will have the honor and glory beyond anything dabbling in a simple physical sport could have given you.
When you are ready… you will be given the Final Treatment – the treatment that seals your powers. You will be given the treatment that will give you near infinite youth, vigor and longevity.
You have proven your skill. You have proven your determination. You will soon be given the opportunity to prove your dedication, and your loyalty, to the General. If you are the man he believes you are… you will enter a life of privilege beyond measure.
Prove yourself, Thomas. Prove to us that our faith and efforts are justified. Prove your own efforts to be worthwhile.
Tommy Sherman listened. He listened, and learned, and absorbed the advice that The Voice provided, all of the messages that The Voice passed along.
Time and training and worlds moved forward.
Tommy woke up in near-total darkness.
“Oh. It’s over? This session’s over?”
A voice came to him; as Tommy sat up, he knew that it was coming from the only point of light that he could see, as though he were in a desert with only a single star in the sky to guide him.
"Yes, Mister Sherman. This event has been concluded.”
“H-how long was I in the box for this session?”
“Elapsed interspatial claudication event time – two years, eight months, eleven days, twenty-three hours, thirty nine minutes,” the voice droned into his ears; now, the voice seemed to come from all about him. “Real-world event time – five days, nine hours, ten minutes. The General requested that you be brought out for an evaluation simulation.”
Tommy took a step towards the light in the distance - the doorway to the tesseract – the artificially created ‘pocket dimension’ that was subject to its own rules of time and space, which allowed him to spend years within while only days passed in ‘the real world’. To him, it appeared as a gelatinous portal of gold-flecked, violet material that slowly churned as it hung in space, seemingly miles away.
“Is it too much to ask that you at least not make Tommy Sherman walk miles and miles to get to the door?”
“The period in transit from the constructed reality to the real world allows us to examine you fully, Mister Sherman, as you pass through the gamut of medical scanning devices we have in place for you. You are aware of this. Would you rather lie in an examination room for several days as we perform a number of tests?”
“Tommy Sherman would rather hang onto his Axe and bring it back out here, rather than leave it back at the place in there.”
“That is not allowed until the General gives you permission, Mister Sherman. I can tell you that with your last series of training scenarios, you have performed excellently.”
“Right. Don’t talk to Tommy Sherman until he gets out.”
An hour later, Tommy arrived at his destination.
He stopped to gaze at the mass in space, then took a breath, stepped through the semisolid portal, and shuddered at the sensation of walking through a pool of warm pudding as he emerged into reality – a large, empty room painted in pure white, and easily the size of a football field.
“Welcome home, Mister Sherman. Welcome back to Project Persuader.”
“Tommy Sherman wants the drink he was promised when he went in – and a mirror! Get Tommy Sherman a drink! The ‘dam buster’ that your lab boys promised me! Make it a triple, and then, Tommy Sherman wants a keg of some real beer – some Bad Penguin Brew!”
A second voice - harsher in tone, unmistakably male - echoed through the area.
“You’ll get your beer this afternoon, Sherman-”
“Tommy Sherman wants his drink NOW – and what Tommy Sherman wants, he gets!”
“Stop daydreaming, Sherman. Tomorrow, we’re bringing in some of those South African mercenaries for a Red Force test sequence - and if you win, you get the standard package. You’ll be given access to the Axe beforehand.”
Tommy Sherman smirked at the second speaker’s voice, reverberating in that odd manner as it came through the quad-reinforced force-field wall at the end of the area; the obvious quaver of fear, even though the speaker tried to suppress it, flowed through the speakers on the other side of the garage door-sized entrance that the force-field wall protected.
Yeah – be afraid. You know that Tommy Sherman’s The Man!
That’s why they put those force-fields in - because Tommy Sherman could throw the Axe through a twin force-field wall, and it barely slowed down enough through three for those bitch-ass guards to dodge.
Four’s cool. Tommy Sherman just has to work at it… he has to persuade the walls to let the axe through, like the General said. That’s why he won’t let me keep the Axe all the time like he did when we first started – but hey, people need to know that if Tommy Sherman doesn’t want to put up with their shit, he’ll cut ‘em down to size!
“Stop talking through that energy wall, you pussy!”
“You can lose the smirk, Sherman, and calm down – or would you like another blast in the face?”
Tommy scowled as he looked around the area; a slight wrinkle of concern - or was it fear? - appeared on his forehead.
The Axe can’t do anything about gas – not the type they use here, that goes right through your skin and clothes. That’s one thing Tommy Sherman has to work on – even with the super-steroids the General used.
Ten minutes. Tommy Sherman can hold his breath for ten minutes! He can dead-lift three tons! He can jump four stories straight up - or down six – without even trying! He can run flat out at ninety miles an hour for ten minutes, or at fifty until he fucking gets bored!
Tommy Sherman always looked good, but now – Tommy Sherman is cut like a fucking Spartan! Check it out, babes – you know you want a ride on the Sherman Tank NOW, because Tommy Sherman is no-fucking shit fucking AWESOME.
That’s right – Tommy Sherman said it twice, because he is THAT – FUCKING – AWESOME. Don’t need to put the exclamation point on it. Everybody knows it’s the truth.
Tommy Sherman’s axe - his Atomic Axe - is the exclamation point.
“Fine. Can Tommy Sherman please have his ‘dam buster’ now, before the General gets back?”
“The General’s out of town for the day. He already cleared you for all the drinks you want – as long as you stay in your quarters,” the first Voice spoke. “He’s also approved your – special recuperation protocol.”
Tommy smiled as the floor opened up, and living quarters suited for a sports superstar rose up – massive waterbed, larger Jacuzzi, a closet with a wardrobe befitting the occupant of such an abode…
The force-field wall dropped, and a quartet of tall, slim and beautiful young women walked out into Tommy’s living quarters.
“Hello, Tommy,” one of the women said, a striking raven-haired beauty as tall as he was, with high, firm breasts, and legs that Tommy couldn’t help but imagine wrapped around him as she spoke. “I’m Laura. We’re here to help - occupy your time, this evening. If that’s all right with you.”
“Ladies! Tommy Sherman has manners! Tommy Sherman will be glad to help you with whatever you need!”
As the four young women passed Tommy and began their preparations for the evening’s festival of debaucheries, Tommy held his hand up into the air and snapped his fingers.
“Hey! I want my drink! The one the General promised me!”
A small opening in the floor spiraled open, and a small table rose up in front of Tommy.
On the table were several items: an Old Fashioned glass with a generous amount of an amber-colored liquid, a small silver tray, upon which sat a pin and a single gel caplet, and an envelope.
Tommy opened the envelope, and read the note inside:
Remember, Tommy – squeeze the drops into your drink, and as you do so, think about the way you were in high school, the year that you won the State Championship. Let that memory flow through you; remember how you felt to be a champion, and how it felt to know that everyone around had to acknowledge that fact.
Remember who you were back then. Remember how it felt to be you, what you did to become that master of the gridiron, and of everyone around you. Remember who and what you were, back in that perfect time. Hold that in your mind, and let it seem as if it were real once again, happening as you see it in your mind…
Then, and only then – have your drink… and enjoy your evening. A real man should have a proper welcome home, and you, Tommy, are a real man.
Oh, yes. I haven’t forgotten. When I get back – we’ll talk about those ‘friends’ I want to introduce you to, when you’re ready to go… and how they’ll help you get back at that little carrot-top bitch who embarrassed you. There’s one who you may need to ‘talk’ to, to get him in line – but that won’t be a problem for you.
- Gen. Bakeson
Tommy did as he was told – and three minutes after he squeezed the three golden drops from the caplet, he lifted the glass from the table and drank deeply…
Before he had placed the glass back on the table, he could feel the change in his body; he could feel the years, the aches, the scars and wounds from his time spent within in the DELPHI tesseract fade away, and his youth return.
The three drops of the Elixir of Life had done their work.
Tommy Sherman was once again nineteen years in age, his body once again young, strong and physically perfect, even moreso because of the treatments the DELPHI scientists had provided to boost his body into a state slightly above the human norm.
“Thanks, General,” he said as he turned to see how Laura was perfectly silhouetted in the lights from the ‘living room’, every curve visible through the sheer white gown that she – and the other girls – all wore as they helped themselves to drinks. “Thanks for everything.”
_________________Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together. And the truth is, there will always be darkness. And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land. Sometimes it’s just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together.
-Jon Stewart "We have a right to fight for our country - the same as every other American. We will not go away." -Col. A.J. Bullard (Terrence Howard), Red Tails"If we can't protect the Earth - you can be damn well sure we'll avenge it."
-Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), The Avengers"Sometimes you have to spontaneously break into song - right?" - Mack, from Teen Beach 2The PSI Corps is your friend. Trust The Corps.