A Kind of Small Crow: Part 6

When the laser hit, Rook’s armor glowed, reflecting the light, but not entirely. In fact, not for very long at all.

The laser drilled through, and light came out the other side.

Rook screamed, and I stopped firing, backing up, pulling my shoulder away from the claw that had pierced almost all the way to my skin.

Rook took a step toward me, but nearly fell over, his leg wobbling.

I tried to think of the next step.

Obviously the laser worked against his armor, but I couldn’t shoot him with it till he died, could I?

I didn’t want to kill anybody.

At the same time, hadn’t he just said he wanted to reverse engineer my equipment once he killed me?

He stumbled backward.

I still didn’t have a plan.

Over my helmet’s communicator, Travis shouted, “You’ve got him. Take him down!

Were they still here? I thought they’d gotten away. On the other hand, with the intersection full of cars, and probably backed up due to the fight, they might not have been able to get far. Plus Travis wouldn’t leave anyone behind if he could help it.

At the same time, I couldn’t help but notice Rook’s wound was filling with goo. It wasn’t biological goo either. The laser had to have cauterized the wound.

In the yellow light of the gas station’s florescent bulbs, the goo appeared to be green. It struck me that it might actually be blue.

The stuff hardened, and then a layer of black goo hardened over it.

So, gross. Really, really gross, but also kind of cool. If I’d just seen what I thought I’d seen, Rook’s suit included some kind of healing (or possibly just preserving) gel as well as a liquid that plugged holes in his armor.

That was pretty cool.

I wondered what it would take to get a sample. The roachbots might be able to manage it. What I ought to do is come up with roachbots with the exclusive purpose of taking samples.

That would make situations like this much simpler.

Rook steadied himself, and peered in my direction. “The guitar has a laser? The power it had to go through… How can you possibly fit it in that small a space?”

His voice sounded distant, disconnected.

Was he on drugs?

From my right, Courtney said, “Rocket, come on.”

She’d already made it a few steps away and stood between the two rows of gas pumps.

I needed to do something. I aimed the guitar toward him, the targeting system showing a small plus sign as it crossed his chest, moving toward his other leg.

I never got the chance to fire.

His clawed arm moved too quickly for me to dodge it, and hit the guitar, breaking the neck in half.

His other arm reached for me so quickly that it was little more than a blur.

Except it never hit.

Instead, a brown, plastic trash can hit him in the head. Courtney had picked up one of them and swung it.

The can broke as it hit, chunks falling to the ground along with a plastic bag full of wet paper towels, wrappers from McDonald’s, and other garbage. He stepped back.

One of his wings flexed, extending to hit her, throwing her backwards. She hit one of the concrete pillars that held up the canopy.

She didn’t get up.

Had he killed her? I tried not to think about it.

“Rocket,” Travis’ voice came over the comm, “we’re coming to help.”

“Shit, man,” Vaughn said. “Help me too.”

Automatic gunfire sounded over his speaker, and from across the street by the Lakeside Lounge.

I hit a button on the palm of my glove and shot into the air, the lower half of the guitar dangling uselessly by the cable attached to my helmet.

I had to ditch the thing.

Rook’s wings stretched out, and I heard the roar of jets below me.

He shot upward—not as quickly as I did at first, but the helmet readouts assured me that he was gaining speed.

I grabbed the cable, pulling it up until I held the body of the guitar in my hands.

Part of me didn’t really believe he’d destroyed it, but another part of me had an idea about how I might get rid of it.

As Rook flew closer, I hoped it was a good idea.

16 thoughts on “A Kind of Small Crow: Part 6”

  1. Earth to Nick : Sonics ? Looks like Nick is gonna use the guitars self destruct feature on Rook.

  2. Typo: “I grabbed the cable, pulled it up until I held the lower half the guitar in my hands.”

    Should be “half of the guitar”. Also, maybe an “and” before “pulled”, or change it to “pulling”. It ain’t wrong, using the comma that way, but it ain’t exactly common usage either.

    Hg

  3. Yay! Courtney has just proven herself a true hero. It takes a lot of nerves to take on a suit of powered armor with no (combat enhancing) superpowers of your own. Granted, he handed her her ass, and could have just as easily handed her her head, but that’s why it’s so impressive.

    Also, now we get to find out if her shiftiness extends to repairing internal bleeding and reknitting broken bones. Nothing like a little pressure to help you see what you can really do. Unless she’s so badly concussed she can’t do anything, which would be bad.

  4. That’s Nick’s only big weakness. He doesn’t have any kind of killer instinct at all and I think he’s a little ADD. Fight fight fight …. OOOO shiny tech
    He’s going to have to get past his never kill or he will always be at a disadvantage to ppl that fight to kill. It’s the differents in playing to win vs playing to not loose.

  5. He’s not never kill. I just think he has a high threshold b4 he’s actually willing to kill. IIRC Nick’s mentioned b4 that he’s willing ro kill or maim if he needs to survive. Recognizng that your in such a position might be difficult for a person like Nick, he’s the problem solving kind.

  6. “That was pretty cool.

    I wondered what it would take to get a sample. The roachbots might be able to manage it. What I ought to do is come up with roachbots with the exclusive purpose of taking samples.

    That would make situations like this much simpler.

    Rook steadied himself, and peered in my direction. “The guitar has a laser? The power it had to go through… How can you possibly fit it in that small a space?”

    His voice sounded distant, disconnected.”

    Someone cue the Powerman5000 because this is what it’s like when nerds collide. One’s focused on the other’s laser guitar (with C4 exploder thingy on the back that he doesn’t know about) while the other cares more about the other’s reparative/sealant goo (similar to that used by the Elementals of the BattleTech universe’s Clans.)

  7. “On the other hand, with the intersection full of cars, and probably backed up due to the fight, the might not have been able to get far.” Should read, “On the other hand, with the intersection full of cars, and probably backed up due to the fight, they might not have been able to get far.”

    I still do not trust Courtney. Everything seems too convenient.

    Nick should have sliced Rook’s leg off. That is the problem with most heroes and movies–they always let the bad guy get away. A little slice ’em and dice ’em never hurt anyone (picture the Badger with a laser gun).

  8. PG I was thinking the same thing. I personally burst out laughing at that part. If it werent for the whole fight to the death thing, they would likely have a very interesting talk.

  9. Hg/Evil Twin: Thanks… Typos are now fixed.

    PG/Charles/Andrul: I was hoping someone would notice that aspect of the fight.

    DWwolf/Rain: Nick at least thinks he could kill in the right situation. Whether we will ever run into that situation remains to be seen.

    Luke: Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see the effects of the fight on her–both physically and mentally.

  10. I think Its unlikely he’ll never kill someone even if its unintentionally. He can punch through concrete, he uses lasers 150+ db speakers( scramble a pacemaker or insulin pump..fun) and shaped charges. I wont mention the other stuff he has access to. Right now he’s going to fire a shaped charge at Rook in all likely hood. If that hits a weakspot over something critical Rook will be toast. With all the stuff Nick has access to I’m sure it will be more effective than conventional shaped charges.

  11. I agree with Rain and DWwolf about Nick’s weakness: He has to stay in the fight and deal with the threat at hand and not let himself get distracted by the *shinies*.
    Solve the Problem In Front of You, not the one you can think about later. That sh!t is gonna get the boy dead, he don’t stop it.

    Nick: The laser worked. Don’t stop to drool over the goopy-goop. Chop his wings off! Slice a few more holes in his suit! Disrupt power and control systems. You ain’t gotta kill ‘im, just break him. Then you can dissect his toys…

    Coming from a tactical/combat background, I’m VERY annoyed, right now.

  12. Hopefully, it’s the right kind of annoyed–annoyed at the character rather than the author…

    I’m always trying to portray Nick as good at certain things (fighting and technology), but not always capable of doing the best thing due to certain elements of his personality. Fortunately, he’s capable of learning.

  13. Why does Rook/Rocket sound suspiciously like a writer face-off between Jim and Psycho Gecko…

    Gecko: Jim, did you just deconstruct the Anyone Can Die, trope? Impressive. After I kill you and steal your story, I’ll be sure to use that one.

    Jim: You wish. Meanwhile I must say I appreciate your shout-out to Marvel’s Civil War arc with a bit of Lovecraft.

  14. “I grabbed the cable, pulling it up until I held the body the guitar in my hands.”

    Should that be “the body *of* the guitar”?

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