What She Asked For: Part 5

I answered. “Hey, how’s it going?”

Haley’s voice came over the phone. “He’s moving. He left the house just after you did, but not before we sent in the roachbots.”

The sound of a car’s engine roared in the background, and Haley talked over the noise—but not to me.

“He turned left! Don’t let him go!”

Travis, her older brother said, “I know! Let me drive, dammit.”

The tires squealed.

“It’s going great. We’re on his tail, but I don’t think he knows yet. Besides, Storm King’s in the air. Even if we lose him, he’ll keep up.”

Plus the tracking roachbots had GPS, but time out of sight was time for them to notice and nuke the bot.

“Cool,” I said.

“Are you still with Courtney?” Haley’s tone didn’t specifically sound annoyed, angry or jealous, but it didn’t quite sound casual either.

“Yeah, but I’m nearing campus, so I can meet you soon.”

“Good. Hurry.”

We said good-bye, and hung up.

In a quiet voice, Courtney asked, “What’s going on?”

“It’s just Haley. I’m supposed to be meeting her tonight.”

“Oh,” she paused. “I’m glad you came with, but I hope she’s okay with it. I don’t want to cause problems.”

We were nearing campus. I could see the upper stories of the parking garage above the trees. I considered running. Haley, Vaughn and Travis were following someone who worked for the Nine, and they were doing it without me.

As I thought that, I realized something else—they didn’t know. I’d been too surprised by Haley’s call to mention the Nine.

I thought about waiting to tell them until I got to the van, but I didn’t think for long. That was crazy. They needed to know immediately. Davis might not be much, but the Nine could throw anybody from the villain side of things into a fight.

Johnny Destruction had worked with them before. I’d met his son the past summer, and didn’t want to again.

I pulled out my phone, stopped, and started to type a text message.

Courtney stopped, and said, “Nick?”

“Sorry. I forgot to tell Haley something. Just a second.”

Angling my phone so Courtney couldn’t see it, I wrote, “Davis showed us CC’s picture. It’s the Nine.”

Haley wrote, “Knew it. THX.”

We’d suspected. We knew they were in town, and even though other groups might have a power impregnator, Cassie had said she’d seen one when she fought the Nine in D.C. last summer.

If we’d been following directions, we’d have called in the Feds at even the slightest suspicion of the Nine being involved, but Travis had said, “Let’s not pull them in until we know. We’ve seen the Feds in action. They’re not that good at handling people with powers.”

I had a bad feeling that I should have pushed for specific conditions for when we’d turn this over to the Feds. You could say that we didn’t “know” the Nine were involved yet, because anybody could be searching for Cassie. Other organizations might start just because the Nine were.

All the same, the simplest explanation that fit the facts was most likely the correct one. Right now, the simplest explanation made me worry that we’d be walking into one of the Nine’s hideouts.

I desperately wanted to put the full Rocket suit on, but that would take time I didn’t have.

One of these days, I’d have to come up with version of the suit that I didn’t need to hide in the van. Instead, wouldn’t it be cool if the van turned into my armor?

“Nick?” In the dark, I couldn’t see Courtney very well, but that was a good thing. That way she was less likely to pick up on how frustrated I felt with being interrupted while I was thinking.

“What?”

“If you need to go, you can. I’m sure I can make it back to the dorm.”

I turned my head toward Courtney. She smiled a little, but her voice had quavered as she’d started to say, “I’m sure.”

I gave it some thought. I wanted to run and join everybody, but it didn’t feel right. She’d wanted me to come along because she felt nervous before. The fact that she had powers and I didn’t hadn’t stopped her from asking for help.

I couldn’t see her asking me to leave her alone in the dark unless she knew that Davis wasn’t likely to bother her at the moment.

She must have read something from my expression because she kept on talking.

“If other people really need help, you don’t need to stay with me.”

“What?” I could hear the shock in my voice.

She lowered her voice. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have listened, but I modified my body in case there was trouble… I could hear both ends of your conversation with Haley.”

24 thoughts on “What She Asked For: Part 5”

  1. Damn mind. Dirty dirty me. Young attractive girl doing things with her body. Yeah, I know, probably NOT those things. But heck it all.

    How long has it been since Nick has used his full suit? I can only seem to remember him using the stealth suit recently. I think I need to go back and reread stuff.

  2. The suit’s not easy to pull on in a hurry. I propose a new suit that can be put together by some sort of chamber-like armory, that would maybe be a big, round, coffin-like thing. Step into it, it shuts, assembles the armor on you, opens up again. Can be used to take it off too. He could beef the armor up, make it stronger, more durable, with better weapons. The new type of armor could be called the Heavy Metal, and the chamber would be the Iron Maiden.

    And I don’t believe a mindwipe’s going to do it. She still has the capability to learn it all over again with a phone around. Don’t know why she’d want to give herself super hearing though. Besides, this is Courtney. She’s not nearly as bad as the Justice Fisters, and they got to keep their knowledge of the League. At this rate, though, they’re going to wind up as Heroes League Unlimited.

  3. ya Nick I just heard you on the phone with your girlfriend good thing you guys were not talking dirty or anything cause that would be awkward. Oh no I just learned instead that you work with a gang of superheroes much less awkward.

  4. from her reaction i think she had kind of guessed who he was and this just confirmed it. but it did make me say “o shit” out loud when i read it.

    On a side note Monday cannot come to soon. Must know what happens next!

  5. Great left hook never saw it coming.

    Sadly my first thought was “great they are going to blame Nick for letting the secret out like he did with Chris”

  6. She knows too much, and got her information by eavesdropping.

    Time to shoot her in the head and dump the corpse.

  7. What Nick needs is a soft suit with increased capabilities over the stealthsuit. Something with atleast some added hard armor thats quick to put on even if its only a basic cuiras with frontal arm and leg protection. Cant be too hard to increase the softsuits loadbearing spec.

  8. Suit wise I think Nick will probably start making major changes when he gets the information from the Xiniti.

    At the end of “Space Date” they said that the Heroes League was entitled to a copy of their analysis when they were done. I’m hoping that will give him some technical spec he could add to the suit, I think he thought the drone had a small reaction-less drive that was able to keep up with the League jet.

    Jim I really enjoy your whole story but I have to say Space Date was my favorite chapters, I would so do that if I had a spaceship in my basement. either when i was a teenager or now.

  9. Microfusion reactor for power. AntiGravity devices so the rockets only have to provide thrust and no lift to increase endurance. Inbuilt lasers or particle weapons to roundout the suits options.

  10. Actually the suit has a pretty good power supply already. I’d concentrate first on making a version that can be put on more quickly then defense and weapons. Considering that Jim probably doesn’t want to make major leaps in his current tech level one option for a suit that is faster to put on would be a suit split into front and back halves. A cabinet which could be vertical or horizontal would hold the two portions. The biggest issue would be suit integrity. I’m assuming the limb components are actually put on by sliding the limb into it and then locking on to the torso component. A half and half configuration would require a much greater seal area, increasing the chance of compromising the sealed environment within the suit while under high stress. 40 years ago Marvel’s Iron Man armor was actually a cloth-like material that sprang into rigidity when polarized (Marvel liked using obscure scientific sounding words). A similar method could be developed by Nick. Is nano-tech available to Nick? Another option is interlocking plates bonded with some type of integrity field (Star Trek!) and/or force fields. If Sean ever graduates from his high school mentality maybe Nick could study his magnetic powers and use that to bond components together. The downside would be a greater vulnerability to magnetic attacks. For weapons he’s already got a good array of non-lethal weapons. I really believe he should include heavier ordnance for those times he’s fighting really tough opponents who are shrugging off his preferred attacks. Integrating the guitar’s laser into his suit would be a good first step. Maybe molded into the back of his forearm with a safety that requires his hands be bent in a downwards position so he doesn’t blow them off.

    On a tactical note, I don’t remember if his standard suit is space-worthy. If so he should consider grabbing tougher, non-flying opponents and carrying them into the upper atmosphere to fall unconscious from hypoxia or sudden deceleration trauma by letting them drop back to Earth.

  11. He might want to make a jump in tech level since the power levels are already climbing. All the ppl with organic powers on Nicks team are increasing in level (to say nothing about Dixie supergirl either or supercharging a PID) and Cassie picked up a nice deathray. Nick is falling behind. Ofcourse them brainiacs are adaptable….

  12. Andrul, there’s a reason Superman’s go-to attack was not ‘hurl them into space’, despite him being more than capable. Things get real boring and predictable when you mix in a game-breaker move like that.

    As for why Nick doesn’t, I’d assume it’s the same reason he doesn’t fly cross country in the suit. Fuel limitations. Just like The Flash runs at the speed of Plot, our hero has just enough fuel for a trip to Plot, in order to creat dramatic tension.

    As for new easy-on suit options, there’s always subspace pockets,
    http://youtu.be/er719GrTWtk

    drones that transform into the armor and put themselves on,
    http://youtu.be/qZRSvbcePtU

    and the old classic ‘top entry’ models.
    http://youtu.be/obxy43InDxw?t=16m37s

    If you want to go really nuts, there’s even the Bio-Organic armor that lives inside him. It’s not like you’re using all of those abdominal organs anyway…
    http://youtu.be/0G4DUOVKuxk

    But really, he just needs to get a hold of some Sufficiently Advanced Technology, and he’ll be good to go:
    http://youtu.be/NF8maK9W84A

  13. Silas: I changed what Courtney said so that it’s not quite as open to misinterpretation…

    Jeff/PG: With regards to mindwipes… Daniel is in any case unavailable. Not completely so, but he’s in Chicago, and thus not close.

    Mazzon/Captain Mystic: That may be a little harsh…

    Piccolo: I’m glad you enjoyed Space Date. I know that when I was dating in college, one of the things that always seemed to be in short supply was privacy. Nick’s got an option most people don’t have. Plus, of course, if one had a space ship, it would be tempting to use it simply to go exploring.

    The Xiniti’s report might be a little short on practical detail for constructing things, but I’m sure Nick will find it interesting.

    On upgrading the Rocket suit… That’ll happen eventually. In reply to a few questions:

    Nick’s got access to nanotech, but only in the form of plans. It’s also of the very small machine sort–not of the self-replicating, likely to turn the world into gray goo sort.

    On going into space and the Rocket suit’s power limitations: The suit’s got fuel for 3 hours of flight at the moment, more at some speeds than others.

    In the short term, he probably ought to put together a way to get on better armor more quickly. Upgrading power levels wouldn’t hurt.

    We’ll see what he’s got time for. He might find himself too busy for major modifications.

  14. As much as people, including myself, use nanotech as the magic fix for everything, there are limits to it. It’s kinda how radiation used to be seen.

    Still, if there was a way to have enough of them cover a person and form around him, it could work out well. The armor would be more form-fitting, but could then mold into certain shapes like plates, shoulderpads, and a helmet. If you separated the rocketpack and sonics, it’s a good way to keep it around and put it on quickly.

  15. Like I said, upgraded stealthsuit tech with hard armour protection over it.. I suppose xiniti battlesuit tech (the stuff jenny wore ) would be high on Nick’s wish list.
    Even the current 3 hours flight endurance seems magical btw. IIRC even current gasturbine jetpacks barely last 5 to 10 minutes. Rocketpacks last all of 30s.

  16. Haley’s tone didn’t specifically sound annoyed, angry or jealous, but it didn’t quite sound casual either.

    I’m thinking she’s all the above.

    As for the armor maybe something using memory metal or nanotech armor. They need a magic user on the team. Occult from the descendents use a spell that allows the team to insistently be in costume and there a
    villain called Sky Tyrant that’s mystically boned to a suit of powered armor stored in the astral plane.

  17. And now Courtney knows too. It was only a matter of time really what with all the time Nick was spending with her.

    Although I guess this solves the problem of trying to find a way to tell her they have an PID.

  18. @MadNinja
    I’m going to assume you meant ‘bonded’ because I really don’t want to know how someone gets ‘boned to a suit of powered armor’. @_@

  19. “Instead, wouldn’t it be cool if the van turned into my armor?”

    Yes, yes it would. But it might be better if the van turned into a mech, and some smaller vehicle turned into armor. Maybe one of those little pregnant rollerskate electric cars, or perhaps a medium to large sized motorcycle. Nick on a Harley would be fun, I think. He’d never stop tinkering with it.

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