Space Date: Part 4

And then it struck me–the voice sounded familiar. I couldn’t figure out why at first, but his next line brought it back.

“And dammit,” he continued, “please tell me that Alex isn’t on your ship.”

I clicked the comm on speak. “Sorry, no. He’s not.”

Raptor had been in charge of the South California Defenders when I’d been visiting Alex in L.A. Preserver, Alex’ dad had been up in space with Technomage, and some other people from their group.

I wondered if Raptor held a grudge because we’d caused millions of dollars in damage, and pissed off Syndicate L, causing them to attack the subdivision where most of the Defenders lived, and take hostages.

OK, I didn’t really wonder that at all.

It didn’t take a genius to guess it might have made him look a teensy, tiny bit  incompetent. Having Alex, Brooke, and Jenny skip out of L.A. last month with Carlos to help us probably hadn’t given him  a better impression.

It was a safe bet Alex hadn’t asked permission.

” Alright, Rocket, what are you doing here?”

I ran through possible answers in my head. Neither “Haley and I flew up here to make out,” nor “I had a spaceship in my basement that was just begging to be used,” seemed likely to get a positive response.

Haley clicked on her comm before I made up my mind. “Night Cat here. Is there a problem?”

“Is there a problem?” Raptor sounded shocked that she’d even asked the question.

“Night Cat?” An older man’s voice spoke in the background. “Oh, they’re dating.”

A woman’s voice said, “I have no idea how you keep up with that stuff.”

“Easy. The ‘Double V’ gossip column. Did you know that Diamond Edge is back with Lightsight?”

Raptor said, “Could you two be quiet?”

Then he said, “Yes, there’s a problem. You’re in space. There’s a red alert. Go home.”

“Alert?” I asked.

“Yes, alert. The Kay’s hunting aliens. Now, go away.”

I thought about that. Turning around would be a pain. Decelerating would take us to near zero around the gate, and we could go home from there.

Beginning to turn around immediately would be annoying. We were going much too fast to stop on a dime.

“I was planning to do a lap around the gate and fly home. Would that be okay?”

“Are you crazy? We could be in combat at ANY time.”

Haley looked over at me, scowling. “How were we supposed to know that?”

And that wouldn’t have caused any problems if I’d been the only person to hear it, but I still had the comm open, so Raptor got to listen too.

“The same way anybody else does. You ask before you go up, and then you check in with the Jay or Kay to see if conditions have changed.”

Haley said, “Well, it would help if anyone bothered to tell us. They didn’t even try to talk to us, and we flew right past the Jay.”

“How did you expect them to see you?”

“What?” Haley sounded as confused as I was–at first.

Then I realized that she’d taken me seriously when I was talking about the shields. She’d turned them on, and they did as good a job at absorbing energy used to detect ships as they did energy fired at ships.

It wasn’t as good as being cloaked, but it did the job.

And anyway, I wouldn’t have put it past Grandpa to improve the shield until it was nearly as good as being cloaked.

Muting the comm, I turned to Haley and said “Our shields almost cloak us.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I forgot, and I didn’t know it mattered.”

She sighed, and I unmuted the comm.

“How’d you detect us?” I asked.

“We’re close.”

So they, at least, were cloaked.

The older man in the background said “A drone’s nearly on them.”

Almost as he said it, I heard a clunking noise from farther back on the jet’s body. I didn’t know what it was, but I doubted I’d enjoy finding out.

13 thoughts on “Space Date: Part 4”

  1. WOOHOO!! Just noticed The Academy listed on this site as a piece pf superhero fiction, gimme a while to sort my computer (had to use my phone for this comment) anf i’ll have you listed asap, thanks for the extra publicity, P.S. love how this is going so far, Hayley and Nick are such a cute couple

  2. Damn bureaucrats. So typical to have a procedure for making space flights and do nothing to notify known spaceship owners of it. Because surely everyone will realize they’re required to check that board in that toilet with the warning sign. Sheesh…

  3. Loving this little piece here. And finding it interesting learning more about the League Jet.

    You know, at some point, the “Double V” will actually exist. 😛

  4. SilasCova: It sort of already does. In the story Double V is an abbreviation of Villains and Vigilantes. In real life, Villains and Vigilantes was the first superhero role-playing game that actually took off. It was written by Jeff Dee and Jack Herman and they recently came out with a third edition. I’ve done a little gaming with Jeff Dee (though I haven’t seen him years) but not Villains and Vigilantes.

    Mazzon: And even more typical that they wouldn’t think to include teenaged descendants of spaceship owners on the list.

    Adam: I added it a while back. Good luck with it.

  5. I bet there’s a special magazine that covers metahuman individuals in a different way. Put it on the rack by the cash register in the grocery store. It talks about which superheroes were spotted where, possibly with pictures of their costumes looking too tight or loose, guessing which superheroines are pregnant, speculating on pictures of random people that they guess might possibly be one of the famous heroes. And, of course, looking to see which heroes are the rich types and single for all the capechasers out there.

    These heroes gotta change everything. Like in Secret Six, when our heroes (to use the term loosely) find themselves in a stripclub where all the girls dress as either superfemales or female costumes of superheroes and villains.

    It prompted a comment of being distatesful from Bane, probably because of the woman on stage dressed as him.

  6. I personally found Raptor and his team’s conversation hilariously unprofessional. It sounded like “stupid kids go home” — clearly he doesn’t like the League and isn’t very mature himself.

  7. @Psycho Gecko I totally agree. I’ve long felt that if superheroes really did exist, they would be famous and as watched as celebrities — and like celebrities, as they become more famous their fanbase, and therefore the money to be made off them, increases as well.

    Besides, given the complicated love lives of the civilian identities of many comic-book superheroes, the tabloids would have to make less stuff up!

  8. Close? Why are they close? I thought space was empty enough and big enough that close isn’t something that happens by accident. Also, if the shields block active scans, how can they see anything, and what’s happening to the big, bright trail of exhaust?

  9. Person Man:
    Normally I’d embed the information in the story, but as things are going, I don’t think the answers to these questions will show up.
    1. They’re close, relatively speaking. Not that close as you or I would measure it, but closer than Earth or the gate.
    2. They can thin the shield in spots, allowing weapons to discharge, and sensors to detect what’s going on outside the shield. It is, of course, a risk, and there are battle tactics that capitalize on it.
    3. The exhaust is actually what made them visible to Raptor’s crew. I’m assuming that Nick’s grandfather used technology to make it less visible, possibly by dispersing it in some novel way. It’s still quite visible within a certain distance though.

    Gavin: I’m basically assuming that Raptor views Alex and his friends as the bane of his existence, so he’s not as rational about it as he might be.

    DWwolf: We’ll see.

    Psycho Gecko/Emote Control: I’m basically assuming that the better known supers are celebrities. The current League’s in much the same position as children/grandchildren of the Beatles. They’ve got a head start if they want to go that direction, but there are people who will automatically assume they don’t deserve to trade in on their grandparents’ good names.

  10. Loving playing catch-up. One possible editorial correction though. Near the top of the entry “I ran thorough possible answers” did you mean ‘through’ instead of ‘thorough’?

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