1943: Part 6

Arik gave a grunt, and his body fell forward as Gunther stepped to the side, and out of his way.

A great gout of flame erupted from his back where Gunther’s blade slipped through.

The flames around Arik’s body grew higher, and pine needles on the ground around the castle caught fire.

The tallest flames licked the castle walls, and crept toward the windows of the manor house connected to the tower.

Near the front of the house, the tarp covering the back of a truck began to burn.

“Well,” Gunther said, “unless we want to be part of Arik’s funeral pyre, I think we should move on.”

Joe couldn’t think of a reason to stay.

* * *

One hour later:

Joe, Gunther, and Albert found John and Giles next to a stream a few  miles south of the bridge they’d blown up.

Even near the stream, the density of the trees made it almost impossible to see the night sky. They couldn’t see the burning castle either, but Joe could even smell the smoke through  his helmet.

He wondered if anyone couldn’t smell the smoke.

John stopped leaning against a tree as the three of them walked up, and started walking toward them, moving with a grace Joe found almost unnatural.

Giles stayed near the tree, looking up and down the stream, his rifle out.

Almost eye to eye with Joe despite the height the Rocket suit added, John said,”I know you’re not Chuck, but, dammit, did you have to burn the castle down? It’s like a beacon saying, ‘Something’s wrong here’.”

John stopped. Nodding at Gunther, he said, “Who’s he, and what happened to him?”

Even in the near blackness, Gunther’s face didn’t look right.

“Captain, meet the Nazi superweapon. He got burned by a fire giant, and one of my grenades, His name is Gunther.”

“He’s the superweapon? Intelligence never said it was a man.”

Gunther chuckled.

Joe said, “I don’t think he’s a man.” To Gunther he said, “Sorry about the grenade.”

“Not a problem,” Gunther said. “I’ll get better.”

John said, “So what now, is he on our side?”

Gunther said, “Technically, I’m on Joe’s side, and I’m with the rest of you as long as you’re with Joe.”

A burned fleck fell off his face.

John eyed Gunther, and then Joe. “What the hell?”

Joe shook his head. “I’ll tell you about it later, but somebody had to make a deal with him, and if it wasn’t me, it would have been Hitler, Himmler, or Goering.”

John looked up and down the stream. “Well, we’d better get moving anyway. Jawing about this isn’t going to get us anywhere. Al, you ready?”

Al closed his eyes, for a moment, and then opened them, saying, “I’m flying the plane to the rendezvous.”

“Then we’d better start marching.”

Once they started moving, Giles walked behind Joe. Gunther walked ahead.

After a few steps Gunther said, “You’re using the Cabal’s potions.”

Giles said, “I don’t know who the Cabal is, but my powers do come from a potion. That’s right.”

“I’ve heard of a way to make them permanent. You’d have to be careful. The design of the device is booby trapped, but if you can get around it, it’d be better than carrying around flasks of liquid all the time.”

Joe concentrated on avoiding tree roots, but said, “What device is this?”

“I don’t know what to call it. The Abominators came up with it.”

Giles whispered, “I’ve never seen anything about any Abominators in my book.”

“No reason it should say anything, and honestly, maybe you’re better off not knowing. The Abominators learned everything they could from my people, and we’re a pretty nasty bunch. I’ll tell you about it some time.”

12 thoughts on “1943: Part 6”

  1. Well that explains Giles going crazy….but it doesnt bode well for the others that used the improved impregnator.

  2. So, you’ve got to debug alien hardware, that was built expicitely to corrupt the users, and was designed by alien over-intelligences?
    This sounds like it will take a bit more than your average human super scientist/gadgeteer…

  3. Jim, among the laundry list of reasons to love this story, one of the biggest is the way you actually write prequels that MAKE SENSE; unlike some prequels (yes, I’m talking about you Star Wars and Star Trek: Enterprise)

  4. DWwolf/Dreamer: It’s a safe bet that we’ll eventually see enough of the results of the new impregnator, and get enough backstory about the old one that all questions will be answered. Or at least the most pressing ones.

    Bill: I’m generally of the belief that sequels work best when conceived as part of the overall story. I think the same is probably true of prequels.

    One of the ways that I’ve seen prequel stories best used is in Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon in which he alternates between a WW2 and a modern day story, and in Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Rowling integrates the backstory into the main story in such a way that she covers all the interesting parts of it. More to the point she covers it in enough detail that there’s no reason to write a prequel.

  5. I have a question about the power impregnator; Did Vaughn use the one that Giles ( Red Lightning ) used to first power up or the V2 that Joe overloaded ( killing RL ) when Red Lightning captured all of the original League ?

  6. Oh dear…… then lets hope it was the combination with the potions or some inhernet character flaw of Giles.

  7. And if anyone here hasn’t read Cryptonomicon, they should. Really.

    And @DWwolf: I think Vaughn has been pretty much cleared of the possibility of any taint, after Creepy-dude-with-the-knife-whose-name-I-forget stuck him with the blade-o’-truth-n’-bad-guy-detecting, and let him live (back in the middle of the Evil Mayor story arc).

    Hg

  8. @ Hydrargentium – Hey my man. Been forever it feels like.

    But while your logic is sound, I can’t help but think there’s got to be some way to beat the flaming sword of justice test.

    After all, if such a thing did work, then wouldn’t he simply stab everybody until they revealed themselves to be good or….bad, in which case he’d simply kill them on the spot.

    In other words, if the process was so foolproof, the Legionverse would be void of bad guys.

    Also, if I’m following where Jim is going with this, saying that the power impregnator is actually a piece of alien tech specifically designed to give the wearer a homicidal ego to go along with powers (the Goa’uld sarcophagus from Stargate SG-1 had a similar design flaw) then Vaughn might simply haven’t had manifested the symptoms yet.

    Which would suck cause I like the kid. Which is such a far cry from how I wanted him to get hit by a truck when he first turned up.

  9. ^^ Those were my worries. And that’s what Daniel felt, iirc no danger in the near future associated with Vaughn.

  10. Ah, so at least SOME superpower origins have to do with Lee/Gunther, though I’m still waiting on explanation for the rest…

    And I find it funny on the long list of “ways Jim and Gavin are similar” that we’re both running polls this week.

  11. I hope Vaughn will be okay. He could have chickenpox virus — something that wouldn’t be recognized until it goes full shingles.

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