Then I rechecked the time, and understood where Courtney was—not here yet.
Only twenty minutes had passed since I started looking for the file, read it, and remembered the longer version of the story Grandpa Vander Sloot told me.
I still had forty minutes to kill.
Not having anything better to do, I walked over to one of the stools by the wall, and logged into one of the computers. I checked my email, surfed for a while, checking out out Double V’s forums. They had an entire section devoted to discussing the Heroes League.
Since we’d stopped St. Louis from being destroyed, and appeared prominently in the defense of the New York City and the surrounding area, the forum had only become more busy.
It was funny, and occasionally frustrating, at how little they knew about what was going on behind the scenes.
Continue reading When It’s Over: Part 10
Joe decided to put Lee on hold with a click, and took Larry’s call.
“Rocket?” Larry’s voice came over the suit’s internal speakers. “I don’t know what half this stuff does, and I can’t turn off the translator, but this suit’s got amazing weapons. You want me to hit him again?”
The Nexus struggled to pull its legs out of the pile. It wasn’t going easily. He barely seemed to move one piece of concrete when another fell back into the hole he’d created.
Plus, something about the giant’s balance seemed off.
“Follow my lead,” Joe said, and hung up.
Continue reading When It’s Over: Part 9
The Nexus didn’t even seem to notice the noise.
A rainbow of colors swirled around the Rhino costume as it blurred toward them, changing it from gray, lumpy armor with a horn to sleek, bronze armor with a metallic sheen.
It still had a Rhino theme, but it was bigger, and had a long bronze horn with a sharp spike on the end.
The bronze armor stopped, and voice came from it. It sounded almost like Larry’s, but not quite, and it didn’t speak in English.
“Je suis le Bronze Rhino!” Continue reading When It’s Over: Part 8
Pressing the buttons on his palm, Joe made the suit turn upright and hover. As the Nexus flew toward him, barely slowing down and raising his arm, Joe wondered how good an idea this would be.
Bright shifting colors raced toward him, and passed to his right, quickly followed by the Nexus himself.
Joe turned in place in the air. It had seemed difficult the first time he’d tried it, but after more than thirty years in the Rocket suit, he barely thought as he did it.
The Nexus turned toward him, turning upright in the air and pointing the bracer at him.
Continue reading When It’s Over: Part 7
With the press of a button on his gauntlet’s palm, Joe shot into the air. The giant followed him, not directly on his tail, but not in any danger of losing him.
Was the Nexus playing with him?
The creature could have opened up on him, but hadn’t yet. Of course, they hadn’t been in the air for long. They were only about as high as the highway. It seemed strangely empty, all gray concrete that ended abruptly in the air only a few hundred feet away.
In Nexus’ situation, Joe would already have fired. Whatever that bracer did, it seemed to have an area effect. That would take care of whatever problems it might have with moving while aiming.
Joe didn’t expect it to have many. If it was an Abominator AI, it was probably as accurate as it was on the ground.
Continue reading When It’s Over: Part 6
Trying not to let fear affect him, Joe said, “It’s not a trick. I don’t have any more to trick you with than you already see.”
The creature stepped toward him, and Joe decided against stepping back. They were more likely to attack if you showed fear. He’d learned that at least from the Abominators’ attachment to hierarchy.
If you acted like you were above them, they might attempt to throw you down, but they’d at least have to consider the possibility that you outranked them. If you were lucky, they’d submit out of ingrained habit.
The giant covered the forty foot distance in all too few steps. He stopped only ten feet away, forcing Joe to look up.
Continue reading When It’s Over: Part 5
“Rocket,” the man said, “I am here for your execution.”
Joe landed in the lot, facing the giant. As he looked up, he wished he’d brought heavier weaponry. He had a bad feeling he wouldn’t be bringing this guy down with a solid punch, or even the now weaponized sonics.
He took a breath. Maybe he’d get lucky. For now he’d try to talk the giant into surrender, or at least into leaving.
“How about we postpone the execution for a little while? I’ve got a few questions I’d like to ask you, and maybe you’ve got a few questions you’d like to ask me.”
The giant raised his arm, the one with the black bracer, and said, “No, you will die now.”
Continue reading When It’s Over: Part 4
“Heroes League,” he said. He’d left it set to “Rocket voice.” There couldn’t be any doubt who’d answered.
The person on the other end gasped. “Excuse me? Sir? I’m Officer Smythe of the Grand Lake police force, and there’s a man flying through downtown. He’s been asking for the Heroes League, and Captain Schwarz told me to call you.”
Joe frowned. “Is there something wrong with the flying man? Should I be worried?”
Officer Smythe paused. “I… I don’t know, sir, but he’s big. Maybe twelve feet tall, and he doesn’t look happy.”
“Do you have any idea who he is? I know a lot of flying people these days.”
Smythe gave a short laugh. “No. I’ve never seen this guy.”
Joe had the feeling that Smythe was a rookie. Continue reading When It’s Over: Part 3
The League jet still dripped water even though they’d stepped out of it two hours ago. It stood inside a huge room made of gray concrete. A car that resembled a black 1965 Corvette had been parked next to two motorcycles, one normal, and the other red, white, and blue.
Metal shelving ran across the walls, holding tools and spare parts.
Joe stood in the hangar, still wearing the Rocket suit. He’d expected to be done by now, but he had to admit that he probably shouldn’t have. They’d packed the League jet practically to the top of the cargo bay.
It was like moving, but only if your house had been stocked with alien artifacts created for the purpose of destroying alien civilizations and bending what was left to your will.
A man in bulky, gray armor exited the jet’s cargo bay. Even if Joe hadn’t known his name, the horn extending from the mask hinted at his codename.
Joe could have called him “Rhino,” but opted with, “Hey Larry, is that what I think it is?”
Continue reading When It’s Over: Part 2
I stood over the chair. Silver with a padded seat, and black, leather straps for the arms and head, it looked like a futuristic electric chair out of a 1950’s science fiction novel.
Amid the tools, tables, computers, 3-d printers, fabrication machines, and half finished inventions, it stood out because the guts weren’t visible. It didn’t have wires hanging out, and it didn’t currently have any burn marks.
To the degree that anything that looked like an electric chair could look elegant, it did look elegant.
Continue reading When It’s Over: Part 1