War: Part 1

Instead of doing something with Haley on Friday night, I found myself flying through the air with Rachel toward the Rocket’s first ever intentional TV interview — or if not the Rocket’s first, my first as the Rocket.

Rachel let go of my shoulder as I pointed myself upright, stopping the rockets for a moment, but then making the rocketpack start a new burn, slowing my descent.

Below me I could see the parking lot where I’d fought Man-machine — until his heart attack, anyway.

It looked a lot like it had that night, half full of cars, and darkness.

Off to the left stood Lavender West, an old, four story piano factory that had been converted into a store that sold bohemian clothing, pot paraphernalia, skateboarding gear, and had a skate park on the fourth floor.

That’s what I’d heard, anyway. Vaughn would have known for sure — if only because he was into skateboarding.

I landed in the handicapped spot next to the main entrance. Rachel landed next to me.

“I can think of a few other things I’d rather be going on television for,” she said.

Then she floated through the glass door. I followed her, except I had to open it.

Whoever had done the interior design for News 10 had gone with the “artsy, old building” look — big blown up pictures of local buildings and old versions of the TV studio on the walls, the bottom of the next story’s wooden floor as a ceiling, and white walls.

The station’s waiting area lay just beyond the entrance. It consisted of a few chairs in an alcove and the receptionist’s desk. The desk sat behind a white counter that had been built out from the wall.

A security guard stood next to the desk in a black uniform, his blue and white badge saying “Grand Lake Security.”

His eyes bugged out as Rachel floated in, transparent enough that people could see through her, playing up the Ghost identity.

“You can’t bring that gun in here,” he said.

Her black pistol stood out against a white holster, white utility belt, and white costume.

“If you can grab it, you can have it.” Rachel shot him a smile.

“But seriously, if the Rocket and I decided to cause a problem, this gun would be the least of your worries.”

I’d designed some of the ammunition she would be using. I liked to think the gun would be a big worry.

“The gun’s kind of cool,” I said, “and the ammunition’s extremely cool. Would it help if I assured you that the that chance that she’ll go on a rampage is really, really low? I mean, you can’t put it at zero because it’s a weird universe and all, but there are going to be a lot of zeroes after the decimal point.”

Rachel turned her head to look at me. “You’re not helping.”

“What I’m really trying to say,” I continued, “is that her trustworthiness can be measured with many, many nines.”

“Unless Mr… Allen Carpenter,” Rachel read the plastic ID card hanging on a string around his neck, ”is secretly a robot and cares, you’re still not helping.”

The guard reached for Rachel’s gun. His hand passed through it, Rachel’s utility belt, and her waist.

I caught up with her in a few quick steps, and he backed away, stopping when he hit the side of the receptionist’s desk.

If nothing else, the real Rocket suit was a lot more intimidating than the stealth suit.

The receptionist, a fifty-ish woman in a professional-looking, brown suit took the situation in with a glance, and picked up the phone.

“Erika, the Rocket and Ghost have arrived… Can I send them in? Wonderful.”

She hung up. “Go down the hall, and take the first door to the left.”

We walked down the hall, entering a room with lots of lights hanging from the ceiling, three cameras, and two sets. On the far side of the room stood the news set with its desks, wood paneling, and rows of background TV’s that showed News 10’s logo during the newscast.

The other side had the interview set — a conference table, chairs and lots of bluish background and lighting.

Erika Hernandez (I recognized her from the news) stood next to the interview set. “Come over here and get comfortable. We can start whenever you’re ready.”

She grinned at us, and it seemed like a genuine smile as opposed to a professionally friendly smile.

Of course, faking a genuine smile might be a useful skill for a television reporter.

We sat down in chairs while people fussed around with the lighting. My suit was shinier than they liked, and they spent several minutes working around that. They spent a few more experimenting to find Rachel’s best shade of transparency for the cameras.

“Everybody ready to go?” Erika sat in her chair, facing the two of us. “Rocket, are you comfortable?”

I sat on the edge of my seat with two of the rocketpack’s fins touching the back of the chair.

“Not really, but I can’t imagine what to do about it unless you want me to stand, or unless you’ve got a stool.”

“I’m sorry, we don’t. Can you take it off?”

“Not here.”

“Then we’ll just have to soldier on. I promise it won’t be long.”

Someone standing near the cameras started counting down. “Three… Two… One.”

“We’re here today with the Rocket and Ghost to talk about the New Heroes League. They’ve agreed to share some memories they have of the original League, and talk about their investigation into the murders we’ve seen during the last few weeks. At the end of the broadcast, they’ll have an important message and warning for all of us.”

She’d gotten the last part wrong. It wasn’t a message for everyone. It was a message for Prime from Lee. I made a mental note to tell her that when it came up.

That, and to encourage them to be very clear that the interview was a recording when they aired it. If they didn’t, Prime might show up at the station, and, given what we were about to say, he’d probably be cranky.

10 thoughts on “War: Part 1”

  1. Lets see a lady who can walk thru things has a gun, or the guy in weaponized power armor. Which is more likely to cause lots of damage, and both are local heros. I think that security guard should be glad she has her gun, with two heros there it is now a target.

  2. “The guard reached for Rachel’s gun. His hand passed through it, Rachel’s utility belt, and her waist.

    I caught up with her in a few quick steps, and he backed away, stopping when he hit the side of the receptionist’s desk.

    If nothing else, the real Rocket suit was a lot more intimidating than the stealth suit.”

    Thank you for doing such a great job of reminding us how impressive the suit really is. It’s easy to forget without the constant visuals — especially since this story is from Nick’s POV, which means he describes everyone EXCEPT himself.

    Also, I seriously loved the whole zeros and nines thing. Made of awesome. Well, at least a whole bunch of nines’ worth. ‘Cause really, there’s no such thing as pure anything, except in a chemistry textbook. But this one’s pretty close. To pure awesome, that is.


  3. I just got a little perverted thought, of the Rocket stripping his suit off in front of the cameras, and doing a chip and dales routine for the host.

    Maybe I’m getting to excited, but I’d love to read a dream sequence about that.


  4. We sat down in chairs while people fussed around the with the lighting.

    It should be with the lighting, instead.

  5. Jeff: Thanks. I’ve fixed it now.

    Pangoria: Eeee… That would be horrifying — for Nick if no one else.

    Hg: I felt the need to remind people of that. Owing to the fact that Nick’s mostly been using the powered armor in the presence of friends and supervillains, we haven’t had a “general public” reaction to him in a long time. We’ll probably have more of those in the process of this story though.

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