Legion Tryouts: Introducing, Chemistry Lad!
Legion Tryouts: Introducing, Chemistry Lad!
Wildfire always found tryouts a mixture of frustrating and inspiring. He’d pushed enough cadets at the Academy to excel, and was always pleased to see them get their chance, and disappointed when they didn’t make the cut, and yet he was also irritated when someone who hadn’t bothered to attend the Academy came in from the blue, and expected to be taken seriously, like the cocky pretty boy strutting up to the dias now.
“Denton Bauk, of Sirillis Four, aka ‘Chemistry Lad.’ Let’s see what makes you think you’re Legion material…” Drake said, cutting off the ‘punk’ he wanted to add at the end.
As he announced the candidate, he had to raise his synthesized ‘voice’ slightly, as a cheer erupted from the viewing stands containing the other applicants, who, in any sane world, would be viewing him as competition, and praying for him to make an ass of himself and be rejected…
‘Chemistry Lad’ apparently was in no hurry to begin the exhibition, as he bowed first to his ‘fans’ in the stands, and then to the watching Legionnaires, before beginning to speak, striking a dynamic pose in his skintight red and purple, and, to Wildfire’s eye, unnecessarily low-cut, outfit, showing off his bronzed body. I must be getting old, he thinks, next I’ll be calling their music ‘noise’…
The applicant showed himself no stranger to public speaking, as he began, “Thank you for this opportunity, honored Legionnaires, and for your enthusiasm and good wishes, my fellow hopeful applicants! Like many here, I am a child of many cultures, benefitting from the Sirillian traits of my mother’s people, magnified many times due to a fortuitous mutant reaction with my fathers’ human DNA. As I have been endowed with larger-than-average Sirillian glands, so do I choose to spread my gift with the universe, to the benefit of all!”
Clearly losing patience with the speechifying, Dirk leans to Tinya as the young applicant speaks, “What the heck is he doing? Is he stalling or something?” Tinya just shrugs, clearly perplexed. To her left, Jacques appears enthralled, until she peeks over and sees that he is playing some sort of numbers game on his datapad, and completely ignoring the speaker…
Wildfire ‘accidentally’ causes a brief squeal of static, and makes a show of fiddling with the side of his helmet before saying to the candidate, “Robots or trainers. Choose one.” waggling his fingers towards the dormant combat robots, and then towards Gim and Gigi, waiting patiently at the side of the exhibition stage. Gigi, who had been leaning on her combat-staff, with a somewhat glazed look in her eyes, stands upright, as Chemistry Lad turns and offers her a dazzling, but slightly excessive, smile.
Okay, he’s hot, but those teeth are way too white…, she thinks, before suddenly catching herself. What the hell was that?
Gim shakes his head, as if snapping out of a similarly distracted state, and he and Gigi begin to move forward, as Chemistry Lad takes a deep breath, as if preparing for a martial arts exhibition. Gigi can almost smell his breath, musky and warm against her skin, and feeling somehow like fingers, tracing their way along her face and smoothing back her hair… Again! she thinks, What… The…. Hell!
She snaps out this latest distraction, to see Chemistry Lad move deceptively fast up to Gim, and push past the combat baton Gim had put up defensively as if shrugging off the attack of a child. Gim didn’t resist, and as she shouted, “Snap out of it!” Gim suddenly reacted to the hand on his arm and shoved Chemistry Lad back. Gigi moved her quarterstaff in a sweeping strike, and impacted on the back of the applicants knees, sending him down in an instant. As she watched his distractingly well-formed body impact with the mat, she watched as he turned to Gim and whispered, “Help me, Legionnaire...” Something about the movement of his lips, the plea in his eyes, the terrified stance his body had taken as he raised his arm as if to shield his face from her attack caused her to hesitate, and she felt a burst of protectiveness, only to feel the breath explode out of her as Gim tackled her!
“Get away from him!” Gim screamed, bearing her to the ground and raising his fists, combat batons forgotten and fallen away, but his arm froze and his face turned away as Chemistry Lad shouted, “Stop! Don’t hurt her! She’s confused and isn’t in control of herself…”
Gigi broke Gim’s hold, taken advantage of his split attention and sluggish reactions, and rolled away, but as she came to her feet, Chemistry Lad had risen to a crouch and seemed to be hissing at her, the sides of his throat bulging oddly. Something about glands? she thought before becoming distracted again by the play of his muscles as he rose to his feet, and the sheen of sweat on his chest.
“Let’s not fight anymore. There’s no need for it, right?” the warm commanding voice said, and she saw Gim nod enthusiastically, and had time to think, What’s wrong with him? before she also nodded. Why would he even say that? Of course, I wouldn’t want to fight my friend!
Chemistry Lad stretched his neck before turning back to the dias with a confident grin. “I am ready for the robots now.”
Wildfire shook his head disapprovingly, but gestured to the combat robots to power up, and as they raised their taser-cannons, Chemistry Lad stepped behind Gim and said, “Don’t let them hurt me.” Wildfire stood up in surprise as Gim shot to eight meters in height, so that he was forced to crouch over in the room, which only had five meter ceilings, and smashed the two robots into rubble as their taser-blasts played ineffectively across his gigantic form, eliciting from the titanic Legionnaire only a grunt of pain.
At the sudden and decisive turn of events, the other applicants in the stands began stomping their feet and cheering “Chemistry Lad! Chemistry Lad! Chemistry Lad!”, caught up in the moment, as Drake glowered. He turned in surprise as Sun Boy took up the chant, and Phantom Girl squealed in delight. Jacques was not cheering, but was staring at the young upstart with an appraising look, which was just as troubling, as Drake suddenly realized that the manipulative little brats Sirillian pheromones had saturated the room during his rambling speech, affecting everyone’s judgement!
“Welcome to the Legion, Chemistry Lad!,” Phantom Girl said loudly, and the audience went wild as Chemistry Lad raised his arms and let out a whoop of excitement.
Drake slammed his fist down on the controls for the privacy field, freezing the image of the presiding Legionnaires on a vista of Phantom Girl leaping into Sun Boy’s arms, celebrating the occasion, and Jacques holding up a Flight Ring to hand to the new recruit.
“Enough!” Wildfire shouted, as Dirk, Tinya and Jacques, froze, in eerie reflection to the frozen image of them the rest of the room was seeing.
“Why the privacy field?” Jacques began, “Surely there’s nothing to discuss. He’s perfect.”
“I’ll say! I think he’ll be a real asset to the team, if you know what I mean.” Tinya added, pausing to cast a glance at the candidate, who was still facing the other applicants, leaving little ambiguity as to what sort of ‘asset’ she had on her mind.
Dirk also began to ramble excitedly, “It’s been too long since we’ve had a real guy’s guy around here. I used to be able to hang out with Thom, but he’s been all caught up with Dreamy and their drama, and that Xanthuan champion nonsense, so it’ll be awesome to have someone cool to…”
Drake tuned Dirk out, rather than explode, in the non-literal sense, and checked the duty roster, only to find that Brainiac Five, Mon-El and Saturn Girl were all off-planet, either on leave or on mission, leaving him with only one science expert. He felt his shoulderplates droop and wished he could sigh as he contacted Dream Girl.
“I’m in the bath and *completely* naked, Hot Stuff, can this wait?” came the Naltorians voice, as improbably seductive over the comm. system as it was in person.
“Sorry Dreamy, there’s a pheromone affecting the minds of everybody at the tryouts, and I need an antidote fast, before it turns into a riot.” He looks at Dirk, still enthusiastically explaining to a rapt Jacques and Tinya how it’s gonna be ‘so great’ and they’re ‘gonna have so much fun!’ hanging out with Chemistry Lad. “Or perhaps a coup d’etat…”
Long minutes passed, and Drake patiently explained to the others how this was such a special occasion that Dreamy simply *had* to be there, to make it official. Somehow, Sun Boy’s enthusiasm had passed beyond into the realm of some epic fantasy bromance, and Drake was concerned to see that not only was he overly excitable, with dilated eyes, but that his face was growing flush, and traces of sweat were becoming visible on his face, as well as Tinya’s and Jacques’.
Dreamy finally appeared, stepping into the room outside of the privacy field. Cheers turned into wolf-whistles, as the applicants expressed their approval of her attire, which consisted of a damp towel and a medical hypo. She stopped to take an appraising look at Chemistry Lad, who returned her look with similar appraisal, and stepped onto the dias, disappearing behind the privacy field, still displaying the same frozen tableau from the moment of its activation.
“It’s a riot out there,” she began before stopping short, surprised at the frenzied looks on the faces of her teammates.
“And, soon enough, in here, too,” Drake finished for her, as he took the syringe from her hand and injected Sun Boy first, who was standing closet to him, ticking off reasons on his fingers why they should declare Chemistry Lad leader right here and now. Dirk looked woozy and attempted to lean against the console, only to sink to his knees, shaking his head.
Colossal Boy chose that moment to also step onto the dias, face flushed and looking jittery and confused. “Chemistry Lad wants to know what’s taking so long…”
Wildfire was distracted, and Tinya phased as he went to inject her with the antidote, but his hand plunged right through her and injected Jacques in the chest. “Quelle est?” Jacques said, his translator, as it so often did, utterly failing to translate French to Interlac, as he slumped back into his seat.
“What are you doing?” Gim said, his form starting to swell again, but he toppled backwards as Dream Girl produced a second syringe of the antidote from somewhere in her towel, and injected him in the thigh.
Tinya remained intangible, and floated out into the room, emerging from the privacy field like a phantom. “Chemistry Lad! Something is wrong with Wildfire, you may be the only one who can save us!”
Chemistry Lad turned from flirting with one of the applicants with a look of surprise, before asking Tinya, “Can you stop him for me?”
Tinya was confused, Wasn’t *he* supposed to be handling stuff like this? She shook her head, unable to reconcile her confidence in Chemistry Lad’s abilities with this strange request. He must need me to just distract Wildfire while he sets his plan into motion! She drifted back through the privacy field, hoping to buy her new friend the time he would need to save the day!
A faceful of aerosolized antidote left her wheezing, and she felt her control of her form wavering as she involuntarily inhaled a tiny fraction of the substance. As her body flicked into and out of solidity, the antidote’s effects increased, until finally she slumped over the dias, fully tangible, and with a pounding headache.
“That’s all of us,” Drake said, “but what about the students? I don’t want to have to hurt any of them…”
“I already aerosolized the antidote and ordered Computo to send it through the air-ducts, I just wanted to give the most dangerous people, namely, *us,* an immediate cure.” Dreamy said, reaching down to rest her hand on Dirk’s shoulder, as he leaned upwards and took in the sight of Dreamy in a bath-towel standing over him.
“I don’t remember what happened, but we can’t tell Thom…” he started and she laughed and pushed him back, turning to check on Gim, Jacques and Tinya.
Drake seized the opportunity to step out from behind the privacy field and address Chemistry Lad and his pheromone-besotted groupies, “We are sorry for the extensive delay, but we haven’t seen a candidate so impressive since Superboy himself, and we felt that, for this momentous occasion, we should contact each and every serving Legionnaire, so that they could return to the headquarters and meet our newest friend!”
The crowd ate it up, as did Chemistry Lad, who raised his arms again in triumph. Wildfire could hear the environmental controls flooding the antidote through the vents, and noticed that the cheering was growing somewhat more sluggish, as applicants began sitting down, and, in short order, leaning their heads, fatigued by the sudden drop in their adrenaline levels. Chemistry Lad himself looked groggy, and said, “Wait, something is wrong… You’re poisoning us!” He grabbed Wildfire’s arm, but lacked the strength to do anything other than stagger to his knees.
“Uh, Dreamy? Better get out here…” Drake said, grabbing the young man as he collapsed. “The antidote shouldn’t affecting *him*, should it?”
Dreamy, now wearing Dirk’s tunic, and having refashioned her towel into a short skirt, steps out from behind the privacy field, which wavers to and goes down to reveal Tinya and Gim looking nauseous, a shirtless Dirk with his head in his hands moaning, and Jacques fiddling with a datapad, as he follows her down the steps with exaggerated care.
Dreamy and Jacques confer on some readings from the pad before Jacques speaks, “He’s half-human. The Sirillian pheromones have been affecting his otherwise human physiology as strongly as the rest of us. Probably even more so, since he’s been getting such a concentrated dose for so long.” Dreamy shakes her head, looking down at the young man, “He’s not just acting like he’s full of himself, his power has actually been affecting him all this time, keeping him in the same suggestible, delusional and emotionally excitable state.”
“So,” Jacques said, shaking his head and looking down at the unconscious young applicant, the source of so much upheaval, “It’s not really his fault, then.”
“Hard to say,” Dreamy concedes. “We’ll have to figure out that out when he’s no longer under the effects of the pheromones…”