Cassie: Part 16

The metal looked wrong. Even rusted, the color shimmered between blue and green. Nick would have known the name of the metal, but I’d seen it before—in the engine room of the Heroes League’s “jet.”

Nick’s grandfather had scavenged the engines from an alien spaceship.

It put a new spin on everything in the room, and I had no way to read any of the clay tablets or anything. One of them might be the impregnator’s owner’s manual for all I knew.

Not that the writing on the tablets looked anything like the writing on the machine. Small, and largely corroded, symbols appeared in the middle of indentations on the device that might have been buttons.

And that wasn’t the only thing that looked like it had been made with alien metal. Pieces of the stuff were scattered around the room, some merely bits with writing on them. Others were complete devices—corroded, but complete.

Not that I recognized what they were for, or even had time to think about it.

When Rod stepped into the room, he went for the guards while Sam and I ran along the wall on the right side, heading for the storage room where they were keeping the people they’d kidnapped.

I heard gunshots, shouts, and cries of pain as we ran. Glancing back, I saw that Rod had taken down the four guards stationed next to the left of the doors.

All according to plan.

It was nice to be part of one that worked for a little while.

As we came closer to the door, I had an odd feeling, much like the kind I get when Daniel reaches out and starts talking directly into my head. It didn’t feel like Daniel though. It felt stranger, more controlled—emotionless.

Maybe Nick wouldn’t have been bothered by it. Daniel’s been his best friend for his entire life, and so he’s probably used to it.

I wasn’t.

I must have groaned, or said something because Sam turned around and said, “What’s wrong?” Her voice stayed level, but she sounded full of concern anyway.

“Nothing,” I said. “Keep going.”

You know what it felt like? It felt like walking into a room where people were listening to a radio station that wasn’t playing anything—no noise, but you could tell the radio was on.

I looked around as we walked, trying to figure out where the feeling came from. It needed to stop. We’d had Daniel put blocks in for a reason.

I didn’t figure out where it came from.

We reached the storage room.

Sam said, “All yours.”

“Everyone inside, get away from the door,” I said. “It’s about to get smashed in.”

I gave myself a few steps to get up to speed, and hit it with my shoulder. It hurt, but the metal door dented, and swung open, still hanging by one hinge.

They’d been using the bucket exactly the way I’d guessed. The room reeked.

“Everybody out,” I said, stepping backward, and out of the doorway.

No one followed.

“Quickly,” I said.

One of the girls said, “Come on.”

Then they all came out, and it was… weird.

The guys didn’t seem unusual. Two were black, and one was white. The girls? All four of them were blonde, and around my height. Their faces kind of looked like mine–not exactly like mine, but they all had thin lips and a squarer jaw than most women.

They looked like me in the parts of the face exposed by Dad’s costume.

Seeing them next to each other like that, they didn’t quite look alike even if they all fit the description.

Proving that it wasn’t just me, Sam’s jaw dropped a little as she saw them.

“What’s that?” One of the guys pointed at Rod.

Sam said, “He’s Troll. I’m Red Hex. We’re from the D.C. Heroes Association. Captain Commando’s with us.”

One of the girls said, “Of the Heroes League? For real? You look different.”

A guy said, “Hey, where’s your sword?”

I was about to suggest he mind his own business, except at that moment words appeared in my head.

Like this: FULLY CHARGED.

Technically, I knew it wasn’t even in English, but it felt like someone was walking around inside my brain with a loudspeaker.

Quietly, I asked Sam, “Did you hear something?”

Sam said, “No. What did you hear?”

“I don’t know.”

I turned away from the crowd, and back into the main part of the room where archaeological artifacts sat on worktables and on shelves around the edges of the room.

The voice came from the shelves. I started walking over there.

Sam said, “What’s over there?”

“Give me a second.”

Except I didn’t have a second. More guards burst into the room through the shattered doors we’d just used.

18 thoughts on “Cassie: Part 16”

  1. Whoo! First post in a looooooooong time!

    And Whoo! Telepathic machine! Telepathic ancient alien machine! On a shelf!

    And I’ll admit it — I don’t get it. What’s with the girls? Are they all dressed like her, or something?

    Hg

  2. You know what? You’re right. I rewrote the description just now so it does a better job of describing how the girls looked like Cassie.

    Hopefully that makes more sense.

    As for the machine… There will be more on this.

  3. @SilasCova
    That’s probably a bit of projection by us, who are used to reading from Nick’s perspective.

    He’s their know-it-all techie, so it’s natural for her mind to jump to him when confronted by unknown bizarro-tech. Notice how she immediately jumped to Daniel when the Psyker stuff started happening? It’s natural for people to try and fit things into contexts they already understand.

    @Jim
    I’m interested in why the 9 were grabbing Cassie-lookalikes. Were they trying to actually grab her, or just someone who looks enough like her that they could brainwash and uplift into a “Hero vs EvilHero” story arc?

    Dun dun DUN!

  4. For some reason, I thought Cassie was black. Is there a character description page or something?

    Also, I could be wrong, but I thought that the Cassie look-alikes might have been imperfect clones.

  5. Um: Jaclyn and Marcus are black. Cassie’s light skinned and blond haired. There’s a description of each character on the “Cast” page.

    One of the things that I’ve got to rethink is how I handle reminding people of characters’ appearance. I describe it when they first appear, but after that I don’t always remind people of what they look like unless it’s directly affecting the action. This means that it could be years since readers last read the character descriptions.

    Luke: Good, you’re supposed to be interested. Not that I’m explaining it now, but, so it goes.

    Silas: What Luke said.

  6. Ah, heroes versus an evil copy. It’s been awhile since I could talk nerdy to y’all.

    Best example is Superman and Bizarro, though there’s the whole bizarro world of opposites usually, so there’s maybe one for all the DC characters. I find it a bit dumb, to have a bizarro world where you say the opposite and do the opposite, but they made the whole thing up in a different time.

    Making more sense is the alternate earth where the Justice League is evil and the villains are good. Ultraman (Superman), Power Ring (Green Lantern), Owlman (Batman), Superwoman (Wonder Woman), and Johnny Quick (The Flash).

    A similar concept was used in City of Heroes in regards to another dimension, Praetorian Earth. At first, the in game heroes looked the same and were villains. Now, the story is a bit more complex, with Statesman’s counterpart, Tyrant, instead referred to as Emperor Cole, as he leads “Praetoria” which has replaced the U.S. at least after an apocalyptic war against the Devouring Earth where President MacArthur nuked it. It’s a authoritarian, but the top super scientists invented a whole bunch of robots to handle all the menial labor. No one has to work if they don’t want to, unless you have superpowers. The bill of rights doesn’t exist, though, and there are enslaved psychics that are listening in if anyone has any subversive thoughts.

    Other good examples include the 1950s replacement Captain America who was driven insane by his exposure to the Super-Soldier Serum and who had plastic surgery to look like Steve Rogers due to his obsession. There was also the later Captain America who gained powers from the villainous Power Broker and was trained by Taskmaster to fight like Cap. This replacement later became U.S. Agent, though the two aren’t so hostile to each other these days. There was also the time Red Skull put his mind into a clone of Captain America’s body, gaining the same powers, but wound up with a wounded face that retained the crimson, skull-like appearance.

    Also, Hulk had a robot version of himself he fought.

    In Real Life attempts at this, things have not gone so well. While there was an Undertaker versus Fake Undertaker match at one point, they looked so similar that the crowd couldn’t tell them apart and didn’t know who to cheer for. The easiest way by far would have been to have Paul Bearer start talking. The one who cracked up would be the fake. For getting through promos with that guy, ‘Taker deserves some serious acting awards.

  7. oh no it is an evil telepathic machine hate running into those. and are the girls like clone experiments to get at what Cassie is?

  8. Hey, PG, if you’re gonna mention “evil copy”-type villains, you gotta include Spidey and Venom.(And yes, probably that red idiot, too, what’s his name…? Right. Carnage.)

    Also, my favourite twist in the Evil Justice League is Owlman, who had supercomputer implants put in his brain to make himself smarter and more resourceful than everyone else. That’s exactly what Bruce Wayne would have done if he’d been more hard-core and more twisted. (Instead of just regulating his REM sleep cycles and sleeping hanging by his feet, so that he can get by on about 2 hours a day. Sheesh.)

    Hg

  9. Also, I suspect our local ninja is referring to the fact that the Power Impregnator is likely one of the devices that Lee’s race seeded on Earth to sow chaos and destruction.

    Hg

  10. Wasn’t quite sure if Venom was close enough to count as an evil copy, and I’ll downright say that Carnage is too far off to be one. More a matter of the criteria I was using, where someone was supposed to be the same person, but evil. Ever since Spidey stopped wearing it, Venom has always looked difference. Best I can say is Mac Gargan during Dark Reign would have come across as an evil twin… “I can get any chick in this town…who am I? I’m Spider-man” which came about when Osborn gave him something to allow the symbiote to shrink down to resemble a Spider-man costume.

    Carnage doesn’t even try and neither does Carnage’s kid Toxin. Maybe Doppelganger is a bit closer, except for the extra arms and the mouth. Spider-man has inspired a lot of other heroes like that. A few different Scarlet Spiders, including three that were clones of a hero-in-training called Michael Van Patrick (MVP), as well as the Ben Reilly one. There’s also Steel Spider who was a fan of Dr. Octopus and made his own weaker tentacles to use while committing a crime. It didn’t go as well for him, but nobody was hurt. After it was over, he became a fan of Spider-man as well and so went around as kind of a Spider-man ripoff with Dr. Ock-like tentacles. Man thing I remember of him is during Osborn’s Thunderbolts pre-Dark Reign, they captured him during a fight that wasn’t going their way until Venom bit one of his real arms off. I think there was also that Kaine guy who is a clone of Spider-man, except doesn’t really go around as Peter or Spider in any way.

    Then, there’s been like 3 different Spider-Girls, who wouldn’t count so much as evil copies because of the a series of equations graphed here in this chart featuring two parabolas with interesting peaks. I call it the Boob Factor. There’s Arachne as well, who I might have counted as a Spider-girl or Spider-woman, but her costume is what inspired Spider-man’s black costume/Venom.

    That’s just the similar Spider-styled people. His nemesis Green Goblin also gets the copy and paste effect done with Green Goblin 2, all the Hobgoblins, Demogoblin, Jack O’Lantern, and probably more that I’m too tired to look up at the moment.

    And yeah, the power impregnator could be ancient. It brings to mine old artwork from the Sumerians featuring a seated figure supposed to be a god handing over a tree in a pot, which represents the tree of life, to an ancient king. Their artwork also tended to feature a great hero who wrestled with lions, or picked them up, or just shot a lot of them with arrows. He was always naked except for a belt. Here’s to you, Earth’s First Mightiest Hero…Naked Belted Hero!

  11. Long story short, please don’t talk about Spider-man along with clones. There was a whole, long saga about it. It’s a bad idea.

  12. I’m wondering when the psychic defenses in Cassie’s head would kick in, rendering the telepathic alien artifact a quivering vegetable. 🙂

    But that’s actually an interesting idea, Jim. If there are such things as aliens in this universe, and there are alien telepaths, would the traps Nick has in his head work on them?

    1. Good question. It kicks in at the point when it goes fishing for memories. If it sticks to surface level thoughts it’ll be okay.

  13. I get the feeling that Cassie and Vaughn are going to get together and have wonderful, regenerating storm children in the foochur. Not much to do with this chapter, just predicting it so I can say “Aha!” when it comes.

Leave a Reply