Rokk Krinn woke in his new bed, late-summer sun streaming in the windows, and decided he was utterly, undeniably, irreversibly insane.
It was the only possible explanation. What had he been thinking?
He got on that cruiser to find work, not become some sort of- of anachronistic glory-hound!
Yeah, okay. He was getting paid for this. But this was not what he'd pictured doing with his life.
Rokk forced himself out of bed and to the closet, staring at the outfits inside. There was nothing for it. He had a uniform now, and he had to wear it.
Garth Ranzz rummaged in the well-stocked cabinets and hunted for coffee. He knew it should be there; he'd put some good, authentic Winathian Storm-Black Brew.
He couldn't be home, but he could take some with him.
He pushed aside some basic food ingredients and found it.
Now for a coffee maker…
Imra Ardeen pondered her new room and wandered into her new bathroom, noting the cunningly-hidden door in the wall. She ran her hands over it, not able to find any keypad or scanner, or even the old-fashioned door handles.
She stood back for a second and thought about it.
Well, it was her room, and RJ Brande did know a thing or two more than he let on.
:Open?: she asked hesitantly with her mind, directing the thought towards the door.
Something in the door locking mechanism recognized her and the door slid open, silently.
Curiously, she poked her head in, and experienced a moment of pure silence.
No, no, he couldn't have…
But he had. RJ Brande had done the impossible, and found a psychic strong enough to shield her mind from the rest of the world.
And wonder of wonders, he'd gotten her old mentor to do it, as well.
Luornu Durgo sat down to breakfast and was soon joined by a familiar face.
"Hey," Garth said, absorbed in his breakfast coffee.
"Hi," she replied.
They enjoyed an only slightly-awkward silence for a little bit before Lu felt compelled to speak.
"So… how weird is all this?" she asked, gesturing at the building.
"Weird? Nah, it's cool. Really cool."
"Sure, I guess, but- superheroes? After all this time?"
Garth shrugged. "Why not? You been paying attention to the news lately? Crime rates have been spiking through the roof. Don't you need heroes when things get desperate like that?"
Lu shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "I don't think the galaxy's anywhere near desperate. I mean, how bad can it get?"
"Ah, come on! It can't get bad, we're superheroes. Lighten up!"
Tinya Wazzo almost forgot to have breakfast, completely absorbed by the heady feeling of finally being free- free from her mother's ever-increasing scrutiny, free from the mindless interests of the other kids of government officials, free from those government officials themselves- it was enough to make her feel like finding a meadow full of wildflowers someone and dance around singing something uplifting.
Thankfully, though, there were no large fields around for her to publically embarrass herself in.
She took a deep, steadying breath and reminded herself that she was supposed to be showing her mother she was good enough to be on her own, old enough and mature enough for real responsibility. And how much more responsible could you get, being a superhero?
"There are people who would question that."
Tinya spun and found Imra in her doorway.
"Don't do that!" she snapped. "It's my head!"
Imra wilted a bit.
"I wasn't trying to," the telepath replied quietly. "I can't help hearing you."
Tinya got control of herself and smiled sheepishly –unconvincingly- at her new teammate.
"Sorry," she said, hoping she sounded sincere. "I'm not used to people knowing what I'm thinking."
Imra gave her a smile that was just as fake as her own and turned around, walking off down the hall.
Stupid! Tinya chided herself. She's a telepath! Social lying isn't going to work!
Rokk walked into breakfast to find the rest of his new 'team' already seated, and –annoyingly- not wearing their uniforms.
Garth looked up.
"Whoa there, you expecting somebody?"
He scowled at the red-haired boy, who seemed to be having entirely too much coffee much too early in the morning.
"And what happens if someone needs us?" he demanded. "You're going to go running out in the clothes you wore on that ship?"
Garth rolled his eyes. "Fatalistic this morning, are we?"
"It's called being prepared!"
"Leave each other alone, boys, you're both the type to go rushing into trouble. There's no need to fight about it."
The two of them looked at Imra.
"Seriously, could you not do that?" Garth asked.
"I can't help it if none of you will shield your minds."
"And how are we supposed to do that?" Tinya muttered quietly.
Lu saw Imra's reaction and intervened nervously.
"Did anyone else wake up this morning and have a minute when they didn't know where they were?"
"No," Imra said, looking a little perplexed by the question.
"Yes," the boys chorused, before glaring at each other.
"I've moved around too much to be surprised that I fell asleep somewhere I don't recognize," Tinya said depressingly.
Lu decided it was time for another change of subject.
"So do you think people are really going to like us? I mean, superheroes went out kind of badly, and now we're here, with a giant tower and costumes and- and- publicity!"
Tinya shrugged, but Garth started talking around his food.
"I have no idea what you're talking about. Superheroes are cool."
Imra just sighed despondently.
"It wouldn't be new, people not liking me," she said quietly enough that no one heard.
"The superheroes from before ended up getting forced into retirement because they had no actual legal authority, just the force of public opinion," Rokk said. "We have legal authority."
"They weren't all bad," Garth retorted. "What about the heroes who cleaned up the mess that happened afterwards?"
Rokk leveled a look at him. "They cleaned it up, brought Earth into the galaxy, and then retired."
"But people still might not like us even if we do have authority," Lu said nervously. "The government has authority, and the police, and the military, but people don't always like them."
"But they're not despised," Rokk replied, determined to win the argument. "Because they follow the law. They have rules-"
He paused, thinking.
"Rules," Garth scoffed.
"Seconded," Tinya said.
"That's what we need," Rokk said firmly. "Rules."
"Oh, come on-"
"No, Garth," Imra interrupted. "We do. We need rules. We can't be loose cannons, we can't be vigilantes. If we want respect, we have to prove we're worth the responsibility we've been given."
Tinya closed her mouth and swallowed the words she was about to say.
"Rules are a good thing," Lu said firmly. "They make sure that people are safe, and keep society together, and don't do what they aren't supposed to and keep people in their proper place…"
She trailed off, looking uncertain.
"See?" Garth needled.
Lu's conviction returned and she scowled at him. "Still."
"I'm with Lu here," Tinya said. "And Imra. Responsibility is something you prove that you're worth having, not something you just get."
Rokk looked at Garth again, challengingly.
He snorted. "Fine, fine. Let's come up with some stupid rules."
Rokk had hunted down a stack of paper and a pen and sat down at the table. Imra had cleared off the remnants of breakfast, though Garth clung stubbornly to his coffee.
"Okay, guys, brainstorming time!" Lu said. "What's first?"
"How is this going to work, anyway?" Tinya asked. "Is it going to be a list or what?"
Imra fiddled with her hands. "I don't think a list will be enough. We need- a charter, something that tells how we'll run things."
"A constitution, you mean," Tinya said.
Rokk put his pen to the paper.
'The Legion Constitution'
"What's in a constitution, anyway?" Garth asked, sounding bored.
"What the different parts of government do," Tinya told him. "What length the law is allowed to do, what it's not, rights, that sort of thing."
"Are we going to have different parts?" Garth asked. "I mean, really?"
"Of course there'll be different parts," Lu said. "There's got to be someone in charge, and then everyone else."
"There's only five of us."
"So? There'll be more Legionnaires eventually. Five isn't enough to cover a town, much less a city, or planet!"
"We should have rules about what people are and aren't allowed to do," Lu said firmly. "Where we can get involved and where we can't."
"And about how to enforce those rules," Rokk put in, writing busily. "That was another issue with the old heroes- no accountability. No one could make them follow the law, so it started getting broken more and more."
Lu nodded. "Definitely."
"What sort of a system are we going to run?" Imra asked, looking concerned. "Is the leader just going to be able to order everyone around, or is everyone going to get a say?"
"Voting, duh," Tinya said.
"What are we going to talk about in these sections?" Rokk asked.
"Well, what have we got?" Tinya asked, taking the paper from him.
"Leadership, voting, dos and don'ts, enforcement, limits," he recited from memory.
She took the pen from him as well and grabbed more paper.
"Okay," she said, writing a heading on the first sheet. "'Leadership'. I'm thinking a job description, what they're allowed to do, how we get new leaders."
"Sounds good," Lu said.
Tinya got another sheet. "'Voting'. Majority rules?"
"How else would it work?" Garth asked. He seemed to have forgotten his rule aversion and leaned in closer.
"There should be a quorum limit," Imra said. "Otherwise we could have three people making decisions for what might be a huge group of people."
"You're really ambitious, aren't you?"
"I'm being forward thinking, Garth."
"When do we announce a vote?" Lu asked. "And do we know what to vote on?"
"The UP Senate has regular meetings," Tinya pointed out. "We could do that, too."
"We should," Rokk agreed.
Tinya wrote quickly to catch all the ideas bouncing back and forth.
Garth looked at the stack of paper that had accumulated over the course of the few hours they'd been talking.
"I think we're done," he said. "That's a lot of writing."
Rokk frowned. "No, there's still something missing."
"We've got the meetings worked out, what the leader's allowed to do, what we're allowed to do, the rights people've got, letting new people in, how to make sure people follow the rules- what else is there?" Tinya asked.
Rokk kept frowning, deep in thought.
"We've got what we're allowed to do," he said slowly. "But what about what we're supposed to do? What's our duty?"
"Uh-" Garth looked uncertainly over at Imra.
"We're supposed to help people who need it," Rokk said firmly. "To keep the peace, to keep people safe. Shouldn't that be in there?"
Lu thought back over the long conversation.
"Constitutions need preambles, right?" she asked.
"Yes," Tinya said, pointing the end of the pen at her. "We haven't got that yet and that's something we definitely need."
Something had been bothering Imra for a good time now. Rules were good; it was wonderful that they had rules. So was having a system in place to enforce those rules.
But this was an important thing the Legion was turning into- she had known it was important before, when the Legion had first been instated.
It was getting so much bigger.
Something this big needed a commitment, a promise, a serious pledge.
She quietly took a piece of paper and the pen, left on the table while the others debated over something Lu had found in the writing.
Imra started putting words down on the paper, words that had been in her mind for a while.
This I swear to people everywhere: to use my powers in the name of justice, to uphold the law, to protect those who need protection. To my teammates I swear to support them in their efforts to keep the peace…
It was too cumbersome, but it was a start.
She skipped a line and tried a revision.
"Okay, fine, we can keep it in there," Garth grumbled.
"Good," Tinya told him primly. "We need that bit."
He saw an opening and smiled to himself.
"Okay, I compromised," he said. "Now there's something I'm going to insist on."
"What?" Rokk asked, annoyed.
"I want a provision for amendments."
Rokk took another look at him, and Garth braced himself for a scathing remark.
"That's a good idea."
"It's a good idea," Rokk repeated. "It means that if something comes up we haven't thought of, we can add it in."
Garth still looked a little stunned that the other boy had agreed with him.
"And you were the one who said that we've used up enough paper," he pointed out. "Put that in there, Tinya, 'Amendments'."
"Huh, so you can be agreeable," Garth muttered.
"I'm realistic, not unreasonable."
Imra listened to the last bits of debate winding down.
"Can we agree that we've got everything now?" Rokk asked.
Tinya and Lu had spread out the papers on the table to pour over them better.
"Yep," Tinya said.
"Absolutely," Lu replied.
"I have something," Imra said quietly.
Everyone looked at her.
"What?" Garth asked.
"I was thinking," she said. "About how serious this all is- no matter what you say-"
Garth realized that she had caught his thought and shrugged his shoulders a little in apology.
"And something this serious needs a firm commitment. A promise, of a sort- an oath."
Rokk considered it.
"I like it," Tinya said. "Politicians take oaths of office, and police officers-"
"-in church, when you join," Lu put in. "And doctors."
"Yeah, so why not us?"
She sneaked a look at Garth.
"Don't look at me like that," he said. "I'm with you on this."
"Did you have something in mind?" Rokk asked.
Wordlessly, Imra handed him the paper she'd been working on.
"It's the last one."
He looked it over quickly, and then started reading aloud.
"To the Legion of Superheroes, I make this solemn pledge: to use my powers for good, to fight for justice, and to protect the innocent; to aid my fellow Legionnaires, and to keep their secrets safe. I choose a new name to honor the heroes of the past: I am…"
"I am what?" Lu asked.
"You say your name, there," Imra told her. "The name that you choose for the Legion."
"Are you sure about this 'honoring the heroes of the past' thing?" Rokk asked.
"Just because they aren't always remembered well doesn't mean that they didn't do good things, or that they weren't good people," she said firmly. "And someone will bring it up eventually. It's no good trying to run from your past. It catches up to you eventually."
There were a few nervous looks exchanged around the table.
Rokk coughed self-consciously. "All right, point taken. But- 'to keep their secrets safe'?"
"It makes it sound like we're trying to trick people," Garth complained. "Or go behind their backs, or something."
"I thought trust was a big part of what we needed to do," Lu said.
Imra looked at them all sternly.
:And what, we'll have team trust if you don't know that people won't go around telling your secrets?:
Everyone heard her in their heads and pulled back a little, reflexively.
"Okay, that stays too," Rokk said. "You make a good point, Imra."
She nodded, accepting the compliment.
"So…" Garth said. "Who's going to be in charge of all this? Who's going to be Legion Leader?"
"Rokk," Lu said quickly.
"Rokk," Tinya agreed.
Garth looked at Imra beseechingly.
"You'd do well as a deputy leader or something, Garth," she told him.
He sighed and sat back in his chair.
Rokk looked at them all skeptically.
"You're sure you want me as a leader?"
"Hey, you obviously put the most thought into it," Tinya pointed out. "We wouldn't be sitting here discussing any of this if it wasn't for you."
He shifted in his chair for a moment, a little uncomfortable.
"Alright, then. As my first act as Legion Leader, I'm going to say we put these words Imra thought of to good use."
'To the Legion of Superheroes, I make this solemn pledge: to use my powers for good, to fight for justice, and to protect the innocent; to aid my fellow Legionnaires, and to keep their secrets safe. I choose a new name to honor the heroes of the past: I am-