Counterattack: Part 9

“Accelerando,” I said, “They’ve got people on top of the Meijers.”

“Go,” Jaclyn said. “Night Wolf, Ghost, let’s head over there.”

I didn’t wait to see what happened. I shot across the road, weaving to make myself a less of a target, and keeping low.

The parking lot passed in blur of dark cars.

I shot upward when I had no other choice, passing the top of the roof, and then flipping over and pointing myself directly at the the three of them with the sonics wailing.

The guy with the missile launcher had it ready, and fired, but not exactly at me. He fired just as I flicked the sonics on, but he’d been pointing the launcher at an angle roughly parallel to the roof, and I was above him. The missile flew into the darkness and exploded.

I hoped it hadn’t hurt anyone.

I landed about ten feet to the side of them.

One of them fired an automatic rifle at me while the other two ran away. Instead of running toward the back of the building, they ran westward, parallel to the road.

I knocked down the guy with the rifle, and ran after the others. It took just a few steps to begin to catch up.

Then one of them threw a grenade at me. It exploded, knocking me backwards.

The guy with the missile launcher had dropped it when they started to run, but he charged me when I fell backward, and started pounding on my armor. The helmet readout pegged his punches as having enough force to lift 800 pounds or so — above a normal human but basically a lightweight compared to supers whose main power was strength.

The suit could take it all day — if all he did was pound. If he’d gotten smart, and started targeting joints, I might have had a problem.

I let him hit me for a couple seconds, and then hit him in the chest with a palm strike, throwing him backwards. He rolled a few times, and then stopped about five feet short of the edge of the roof.

He groaned a little, but didn’t get up. Apparently invulnerability wasn’t part of his power set.

The last guy didn’t stay. He kept on running.

I pulled myself to my feet, and looked over at the main fight. The suit picked out at least thirty people firing automatic weapons. When had they showed up? I mentally kicked myself for not thoroughly scanning the woods earlier. They’d probably been further in.

I didn’t need the suit to see lightning flashes or hear the thunderclaps.

Vaughn and Daniel were doing a good job of forcing them to stay in the woods where our strength in stealth, and hand to hand combat would make a difference.

They stood on the golf course, Daniel deflecting bullets with a mixture of foresight and telekinesis, Vaughn blasting away.

I wished that we’d notified the police before coming here, because most of the bullets were heading in the direction of Jefferson street, and Meijers’ parking lot. On the bright side, the constant roar, and the massive light show might clue people in to the fact that they were in danger.

Guessing that Daniel and Vaughn would get tired in the not too distant future, I fired up the rocketpack, and shot into the air.

As I flew higher than the trees, I realized that I wasn’t the only person in the air. I’d been joined by most of Justice Fist — no, all of Justice Fist.

I also understood how I’d missed them.

Before I’d seen Shannon manipulating darkness during the day. It stood out, as something outside the natural order does. That night, they weren’t there, and then they faded in, the cloud of darkness around them disappearing a little at a time.

I knew she couldn’t do that the last time I’d seen her. She could create darkness or not. I’d seen no evidence of this level of control.

More interesting than that, they faded in on radar at the same time they faded in by sight.

Lucas flew toward the woods, red lightning bolts firing in all directions from his hands. Camille, in her orange and white costume, flew after him, bringing the non-flying members of group (Dayton, Jody, Shannon, and Julie) with her to the edge of the forest.

Gray trails representing the paths of bullets appeared within my helmet. Some of the Cabal’s men were aiming at the new arrivals.

They never reached them. When they got within twenty feet of Camille’s group, the bullets simply dropped, falling as if gravity had become heavier in that spot.

Then Sean held out his arms, closed his eyes, and bullets all over changed their paths and flew toward him, collecting in a cloud before dropping on the ground.

If only bullets had been affected, I would have been okay with it.

Even though the 80’s Rocket suit didn’t have as much metal as earlier versions, I still felt the pull. Worse, I could hear the distinctive popping noise of electrical shorts as bits of metal that no one ever intended to touch, touched for the very first time.

Grandpa had retired this suit because of some bad experiences that showed it didn’t handle electricity or electromagnetism as well as he wanted it to. Memorably, the suit had actually burned images into the vision systems, leaving only half the helmet’s display uncovered. He’d won, but not before shutting down almost every system in the suit.

That was why the current Rocket suit didn’t allow readouts to appear anywhere but the top of the user’s vision.

I decided to follow his example while I could still see, and landed immediately on the golf course.

As I did, I heard a series of big pops, and the suit’s limbs weighed a lot more than they had. The powered systems had just stopped working, leaving the emergency backup systems, the ones that amplified muscle movement. They powered all other versions of the Rocket suit. With this one, they had three times as much suit to move.

Naturally that was the moment when the members of the Cabal’s army that were still conscious decided to make a desperate last charge. Or maybe they were making a desperate retreat because all their cars were at Meijer? I never learned the reasoning.

All I knew was that they charged out of the forest, and away from the pro shop, making for Jefferson Street.

I learned later that the members of the Cabal who ended up wearing armor and carrying guns had powers, but basically the powers of about half a superhero. These were the people with super strength but no special toughness, the ability to talk to fish, but no ability to breath underwater, the ability to see through walls but no other powers at all.

They charged. All their guns and knives were gone, so they attacked us with their one flaming hand, their fifty pound telekinetic push, their telepathic ability to shout loudly in somebody’s mind…

I made my way to Daniel and Vaughn, both of whom were too tired to fly away. They pulled out the extendable, metal staves from their utility belts, and I stood with them, punching and kicking anyone that came near us.

Sean, of course, was no help at all, because once they no longer had metal on them, he couldn’t do anything to them. He might have started pelting them with their own guns, but apparently even he could see that might have unintended consequences.

We would have lost if we’d been alone, but after they came out of the woods, so did everyone else.

Jaclyn and Jody came out at a blur, and started pounding on people. Jody seemed to be faster, but Jaclyn only needed one punch to take someone out. Lucas zapped several people out at once with lightning. Haley, Cassie, Marcus, Rachel and Travis took out anyone left. The other members of Justice Fist must have helped too, but I missed it.

What I remembered most about that fight was the leaden feeling in my limbs, and my on-going anger about how much of an idiot Sean could be.

19 thoughts on “Counterattack: Part 9”

  1. I wonder if that was intentional… after all, Sean’s little trick definitely hurt the enemy and only seriously hindered one person on their side, whom we know Sean to be rather angry at.
    Still kind of ill-considered in any case, since I doubt he figured in the fact he probably also broke everybody’s wrist watches, cell phones and whatnot.

  2. Sean will never have the kind of power that Magneto had because in the X-Men universe all metal anywhere is magnetizable. Since this story has real physics in it Sean is not going to be able to fight anyone who is really ready for him. Plastic guns with rubber or aluminum bullets will end really badly for him. In fact Sean would face a serious danger from normal bullet fire because some standard bullets types are made of lead or copper.

  3. Here in the real world, scientists recently completed the optical circuit trifecta. Now 100% of a computer’s circuitry can be replaced with optical analogues. It’s not cheap, but it’s possible. Wonder what that means for Nick?

  4. If Sean was unfamiliar with the older Rocket Suit, how would he know that his magnetic trickery would mess it up so badly?

  5. Wanderhome: It’s a pretty sound guess even if he didn’t know, and either way achieves the purpose of disarming the enemies which probably was the chief intent anyway. And if we consider Hanlon’s razor, we should assume incompetence before malice in any case.

  6. “They never reached them. When they got within twenty feet of Camille’s group, the bullets simply dropped, falling as if they’d suddenly become heavier.”

    I know what you mean, but it kind of hurts to read, since weight could be increased by mass (which wouldn’t make the bullets drop faster) or acceleration, and in the U.S. we commonly confuse weight with mass (our scales are in pounds, which is a unit of force, our unit of mass is actually the slug). Not a big deal, just a pet peeve.

    @Thor – with real-world physics, using aluminum and other “non-magnetic” materials just increases the power needed by a few orders of magnitude. Aluminum and copper are paramagnetic, so a very strong field will affect them in the same way as a weaker field affects iron. They’re also susceptible to melting by eddy currents (not sure if it’s useful for bullet shielding, just true). All materials are diamagnetic, so anything nonmetallic could be repelled by a sufficiently powerful field (this includes water – with enough power, Sean could lift people by the water in their cells, or stop rubber bullets).

  7. Corwin: The funny thing is that I actually thought about that a little bit. I ended up going with the more popularly understandable way of putting it as opposed to the more technically accurate.

    I may revise it later if I can put it in a way that’s both accurate and understandable to the casual reader.

  8. @Corwin
    I hadn’t thought about the effect that induction would have on a bullet. I still think that it’s unlikely that he would ever be able to have a significant effect on a rubber bullet though. With powerful magnets you can see the effect that materials like aluminum have on them. Rubber and plastic however would be beyond anyone’s ability to stop safely. The side effects of such a magnetic field would be unpleasant for anyone nearby, including the person creating it.

    Also you’re thinking diamagnetic not paramagnetic
    http://www.ndt-ed.org/EducationResources/CommunityCollege/MagParticle/Physics/MagneticMatls.htm

  9. Indeed – magnetism at that level would probably be powerful enough to rip the hemoglobin out of your blood … not something Sean would want, at any rate.

  10. I saw an article recently where someone made a guinea pig float by using magnets, but I’m unsure of the details.

  11. Uh-oh. Don’t tell Nick about that, Jim. The last thing this world needs is flying guinea pigs. Hamsters? Maybe. Gerbils? Sure. But guinea pigs? Uh-uh.

    Hg

  12. Well this page’s comments are fascinating I actually learned something. That doesn’t happen everyday with superhero fiction.

  13. @Thor

    Diamagnetic compounds, such as aluminum, or Paramagnetic ones, like water, show that magnetism can effect far more than ferrous metals. These types of magnetic susceptibility rely on magnetic fields interacting with protons and electrons at the subatomic level. Magneto’s abilities are possible in our physics, but the sheer level of power required to cause these effects is enormous. Literally on the level with many of Marvel’s cosmic beings.

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