Cassie: Part 22

We took the stairs up. Between Rod’s injuries, my need to keep the suit from running off, and our crowd of former kidnapping victims, it took longer than the way down.

And oh yeah, the darkness didn’t help either.

The Nine’s men had thought enough ahead that they’d locked the doors to the stairway so when we got to the parking garage, I readied myself to knock it down.

As I lowered my shoulder just before charging, Sam said, “No, wait!”

Simultaneously, the gun said, “THREAT. UNKNOWN AMPHIBIOUS HOMINIDS.”

The gun’s awareness showed at least ten of them in the garage. They were eating the Nine’s soldiers.

That didn’t do my stomach any good.

I’ve beaten people up. I’ve been stabbed, shot, and seen inside my own body in ways most people wouldn’t live through. It still didn’t harden me against seeing the frog-things rip chunks out of people.

I pulled my mind out of the connection, and backed away from the door. “We can’t go out here.”

“That’s what I said.” Sam sounded a little annoyed, but sound was all I had to go on. We didn’t have any light. She was saving her staff’s energy.

One of the guys said, “What’s out there?”

“Some kind of frog-monsters. They eat people.” I said it calmly. I think.

“Didn’t they come here before? Maybe ten years ago?” That was one of the girls.

Another said, “They did. They totally did. I was eight.”

“Hey suit,” I said. “You know the building. Any place we could get out without running into these guys?”

“Could you stop calling me ‘suit’? My name is John.”

“Sure John, where would you leave the building if you didn’t want to become fish food?”

He was quiet for a little while. “I go out the front for lunch or through the parking area after work. It’s not as if we used secret tunnels. I didn’t even know I was working for the Nine until a couple weeks ago when they started keeping kids in the storage room.”

One of the “kids” (a guy) said, “Why didn’t you say anything? I had to take dumps in bucket for a week. When I tried to escape they beat the fuck out of me, and you kept on collecting your paycheck.”

“It was the Nine. You think I’d survive turning on them? They know where I live. They know where my family lives. Am I supposed to put them in danger for you?”

“So you’d just let them have us? D.C.’s got supers and Feds all over. You’re a coward. That’s what you are—”

Rod said, “Everyone shut up. What do you want to bet those monsters can hear us?”

I brought up the gun, let the connection reform.

They’d heard something. Most of them were still picking at the bodies in the garage, but a few had turned toward the door.

None of them had seemed to be as strong as I was when we fought, but there were a lot of them. They could break down the door if they wanted.

“They’re waiting outside the door,” I whispered. “Stay quiet. I’ll tell you when they’re gone.”

No one talked. It felt like forever, but it couldn’t have been more than ten minutes.

BURN THEM DOWN, the gun suggested helpfully.

I’d thought about it, but what if the noise attracted more? The gun said it was near full charge, but that wouldn’t last forever.

When they stopped staring at the door, I let John lead us toward the front. We walked out of the back stairway and into the main halls. It was almost a mini mall with stores, restaurants, offices and even an embassy on the top floor.

When we got near the front, we stopped. The glass doors in the front exited into the street under the highway we’d been attacked on earlier that night.

Thanks to the gun, I could see the shark monster we’d fought on the ground in the park across the street.

Frog-things were everywhere. They must have come down here once the Liberators left. Or maybe more had come out of the Potomac. It was just past the park.

We weren’t going out the front door.

“The front’s crawling with them.”

“Crap,” Rod muttered.

John said, “That’s it. We’re all going to die.”

The voice that had argued with John earlier said, “Grow a pair, dumbass.”

“Shh,” Sam said, “everybody be quiet.”

23 thoughts on “Cassie: Part 22”

  1. Seconded. This is the second time in row that Cassie refuses to apply force where prudent, I’m starting to see her as someone who is too timid to lead in life and death situations.

  2. @DWwolf
    Unlikely – there’s no evidence that the 9 knew how to charge it, nor that they were killing pepole there. Therefore how did it charge it’s self while on the shelf? As there was evidence that they were experimenting on unwilling test subjects at the facility i’d postulate that it’s possible, and indeed probable, that the gun uses some form of “Agony Battery” as a power source – that is, it feeds on extreme mental/physical discomfort or anguish of those nearby. This does not necessarily mean the targets it’s firing on, nor does it imply that it has to kill for fuel. If indeed it is an abominator construct (or a fabrication of lee/gunther’s race with a similar lineage), then the whole “torture for fuel” concept would seem to make more sense, based on what Jim has written of them, as the aim of these devices is to warp society to the point of self destruction – not simply to kill people.


  3. though it is interesting reading from Cassie’s perspective I must admit I don’t think of her as a strong enough character to be a hero (which is funny because as we read earlier reforming the league was practically her idea) though she works well for the team she could never lead it. Next I want to read one from Daniels pov.

  4. I thought she had a good point when she wanted to avoid drawing attention by shooting. She does have a group of squishy noncombatants, after all. She should probably just arrange for a pickup on the roof or something.

  5. As all the stuff appears to come from a crashed spacecraft the gun could have remained charged, waiting to be used by someone with the right credentials. From what Ive got stuck in my head after Lee’s history lesson it definetely sounded like stuff that was fueled by draining the lifeforce of sentients. Ill re-read later.

  6. Perhaps it’s enchanted with Soul Trap?

    Considering they had to worry about thousands of those things before, worrying about attracting more’s attention is kinda prudent. That said, if they do go with a plan involving more attention, zap em.

    To quote Sun Tzu: “Fuckin’ frog monsters, man, whatcha gonna do?”

    My Fallout 3 and New Vegas experience with alien handguns is that even if they take a lot of shots to run out of energy, ammunition may not be easy to find unless they abduct you and you break out, blasting your way through them with a double barrel, alongside a cowboy, samurai, WW3 soldier, another person from the wasteland, and a little girl. In the end, we just don’t know what it is powered by. What if she’s destroyed all but the last 250 and then it’s like “Low Battery, needs more whale oil”? Or “Low battery, puppy tears required.”

    “Low Battery, needs more kitten intestines.”

    “Low Battery, needs more delicious British cuisine.”

    “Low Battery, needs low fat fried chicken.”

    “Low Battery, needs more aborted fetuses.”

    “Low Battery, needs more hickory-smoked horse buttholes.”

    “Low Battery, needs to be holstered within a human rectum for 10 of your minutes.”

  7. There are a bunch of things that I should respond in here, but many of them would give things away, so… I’m not.

    Eli: I simultaneously liked that and wondered whether I should put in that way at the same time.

    Captain Mystic/Hg: It would be cool if it were an aspect of Stormbringer. I like Michael Moorcock’s work a lot. For those who are wondering what Hg is talking about… Check out Wikipedia’s entry on Elric.

  8. Eli is one of the commenters, and the host of Novelr, a website that discusses webfiction. He also created Pandamian, which is a platform that supports writing on the web. Eli is awesome, you should check out his stuff.

    Jim — awesome writing, as per usual. The gun is a great source of comedy in this section.

    I’m a little surprised at everyone’s assumption that the gun is correct. “Kill everything” is not the most moral or humane of decisions, and after the entire series being narrated by Nick who looks for the least violent solution to problems, I’m surprised that they think Cassie should start toasting everyone in sight.

    Nick’s a great leader, and he doesn’t kill people. Yes, these are inhuman monsters. But if it turns out that they’re panicked because humans were drilling a fracking hole and an earthquake collapsed their home, the “villain” in this situation is going to go from a black and white decision to a grey one.

  9. @G.S…..

    “I’m a little surprised at everyone’s assumption that the gun is correct. “Kill everything” is not the most moral or humane of decisions…..”

    But it would appear in this instance to be the most tactically prudent one.
    Plus, toasting everything in sight is fun. Seriously. Go play “Postal 2” if’n you don’t believe me……lighting folk on fire with the napalm launcher is hilarious. Doubly so if you hit the cats…..

    “But if it turns out that they’re panicked because humans were drilling a fracking hole and an earthquake collapsed their home…”

    Sigh. I seriously doubt that our froggy friends are related to the Silurians, of Dr Who fame. I also think that setting a giant landshark to eat cars would be the kind of over-reaction that would justify painting froggy & co as the bad guys. Taking out the drilling team would be acceptable, wholesale slaughter of civvies? Not so much….

    Just my 2p’s worth though….

  10. @G.S:
    Although some philosophers would have you think otherwise, there’s a difference between toasting everything in sight and killing some of the creatures trying to kill all of you in order to preserve your own life.
    Drilling teams or no, toasting a few people-eating froggies to obtain transportation and a reasonable chance to escape the rest of the froggies beats running around until you’re surrounded by the froggies and there’s too many of them to kill.

    I’m sternly against senseless violence, but I do believe in sensible violence over senseless, self-sacrificing pacifism.

  11. And all that talk of killing the people-eating frogs, suddenly makes me think of The Far Side cartoons. Best not hand that alien gun to a cow.

  12. I don’t remember if this was specifically mentioned in any way but I think if I found a clone of myself created by an evil scientist for unknown purposes and decided to raise him/her as my own child I would definitely be care to instill a very strong moral code to help prevent whatever the plans were for the clone. Just my two cents. And sometimes the expedient route is not the best long term method. Played the new Deus Ex game yet? Tons more experience for taking out targets quietly, without being seen, and non-lethally.

  13. I’m not suggesting all out pacifism, I’m all for tactical violence as necessary — I didn’t complain when Lee killed Prime, for example, because a psychopathic semi-immortal wasn’t likely to start being nice to people and needed to be taken out instead of spending the next thousand years killing more people.

    I’m all for what Cassie does in later chapters — killing frogs when they attack people — but she avoids unnecessary violence, like killing their ship when it’s not doing anything too threatening. My shock(?) is with the fact that people are cheering for the gun, which seems bloodthirsty — “burn them down” is not ethical “kill when necessary” it’s “hey, I’m a gun and a gun is for shooting so let’s kill everything in sight”.

    Doing the right thing on a case by case basis and it leads to having to kill one life form to save another is one thing, cheering for a murderous weapon that has no other purpose is kinda weird.

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