A Kind of Small Crow: Part 8

I couldn’t see it happen, but at least one of the bullets hit. Vaughn fell, or maybe more accurately, lost control.

He flipped over a few times, dropping dangerously low. I would have lost track of him if it weren’t for the sonar built in to the stealth suit’s helmet.

His black costume blended into the night, but the helmet outlined his body, showing him as he nearly hit Grand Lake Marina Supplies. I say “nearly hit” because he didn’t.

He swerved right just as he was about to hit the “G” in Grand Lake.

“Right” in this context meant toward the gas station. In short, toward us.

I could see his logic.

When you know you can’t take your opponents out by yourself, it makes sense to bring them within reach of your friends.

Unfortunately when your friends have pretty much realized that they don’t have the tools to deal with your opponents either, it’s not good news.

Travis turned to Courtney and pointed past where the van sat on the sidewalk, down the street. “Hide. Everyone else… Go there.” He pointed at the Verizon store across the road. “We’re disappearing. Rocket, be obvious.”

It made sense. That would get us away from the gas station. I didn’t think there were people in the cars still at the pumps, but I was sure I’d seen people inside the store.

Not to mention that we’d be taking the fight away from the tanks of fuel.

Haley and Travis jumped immediately, easily passing over the cars, and ducking behind the store. Courtney ran around the side of the gas station. I turned on the rocket pack and flew after them.

As I landed, I heard the sound of glass shattering behind me.

I turned to see two of Rook’s flunkies pulling themselves out of the marina supplies store’s front window. A third flew out, wings outstretched, but then detoured to the roof.

He’d probably noticed Rook.

Vaughn, meanwhile, had landed next to me.

“I slowed them down,” he said, taking a breath. “I blew them into the store.”

He took another breath.

I pulled the roachbot controller off my belt, and started in with “plan b.” I didn’t have the guitar anymore, but I’d stored a lot roachbots in the van. Plus, I’d put in exit tunnels for them.

Thinking about Vaughn’s breathing, I asked, “Are you okay?”

“I’m pretty sure they broke some ribs with their guns. What’s the plan?”

“We’re bait.”

Vaughn nodded. “Great. I love being bait.”

We stood next to the far side of the store. It had to have been a gas station too at one point. It sat near back of its lot, surrounded by parking. The gas pumps were long gone.

Two of Rook’s people flew over the gas station, landing directly in front of us, and bringing up their arms.

They had guns hanging under their forearms just like the Rocket suit Grandpa had used during World War 2.

“Don’t move,” one of them said. His voice reminded me of the guy who tried to sell Courtney on using the Nine’s power impregnator. What was his name? Right. Davis.

“No problem,” Vaughn said. “I am not moving at all.”

“Good. Now tell the guy and girl behind the store to come back out here. We saw them try to hide. What did you think they were going to do? Ambush us?”

Vaughn shrugged, “Nice one guys, you totally saw through us, and you’ve got to be pretty smart to see through the Rocket, right? Rocket, what do you think?”

“I—” I began to talk, but Haley interrupted me. Her voice came through my helmet.

She said, “Rocket, could you move a little to the right?”

I took a step to the right.

The flunky that had to be Davis said, “Don’t move!

He pointed the gun at me, and might have shot me then–if it weren’t for the missile.

It hit him in the chest.

Screeching through the air, it didn’t explode, but it did carry him backward (and slightly sideways) through the plate glass window in the front of the store. He landed on his back, partially wrapped in a banner that said, “Sweet Deals for September.”

At almost the same moment, Travis jumped off the roof, landing behind the other flunky.

Then he ripped the guy’s left wing straight off.

No one on our team was as strong as Jaclyn, but Travis came closer than anyone else. Plus, like Haley, he had claws made out of some weirdly hard and malleable substance.

One of these days, I was going to get up the nerve to ask Haley for a sample.

So ideally, the fight would have ended there.

It didn’t.

While the flunky’s wing sprayed fluids everywhere, he twisted around quickly, his own claws outstretched, and sunk them through Travis’ costume and into his chest.

20 thoughts on “A Kind of Small Crow: Part 8”

  1. Travis turned to Courtney and pointed in the direction of the sidewalk. “Hide.

    Needs another quotation mark after Hide.

    her voice came through my helmet.

    Her needs capitalization as it starts the sentence.

    He pointed the gun at me, and maybe he might have shot me then–if it weren’t for the missile.

    Slightly awkward with the maybe and the might have. I generally use that when a person’s trying to seem humorous about sidestepping something.

    Aside from that, not sure they’re very tactically sound. Maybe they don’t use the suits too often, or maybe there’s some major drawback we don’t know, but I don’t understand why they’d give up the flight advantage, or think it’s a good idea to hold people at gunpoint that are on a team of people that are pretty good at resisting bullets. If their guns could only break Vaughns ribs after hitting him, they don’t stand much chance against even Rocket stealth armor.

    It does seem as if Rook’s a pretty serious Rocket fanboy, though, with his desire to study Rocket’s gear, and the similarity of the guns’ positioning.

  2. PG: Thanks for typos… That’s fixed.

    I don’t think it does need another quotation mark. Even though it looks weird, if someone’s speaking, and they continue speaking on the next line, you’re supposed to skip the quote at the end of the first line. If I’d put some description between “Hide,” and “Everyone else,” I would have had to use a quote.

    That said, I combined the lines. Hopefully it’s better that way.

    As for their tactics…

    They can’t do much damage from a distance with guns. They have to be closer, so they got closer.

    They can punch through the suits with their claws, so hand to hand is the better bet anyhow.

    That does leave them open to stealthy people getting behind them though. That said, their suits take a lot of damage themselves. So, they can survive the initial hit, and still have a good chance to win.

  3. It’d probably be more accurate to say I didn’t have a spot where it fit naturally into the flow of the scene. It’s one of those things that Nick would naturally try, and it’ll happen.

    It’s also one of those things where I can choose to have it happen when the effects will be interesting or when they’ll be uninteresting. Given a choice, I try for interesting (and don’t always succeed).

    Addendum: If you feel like I’m screwing up here, I’m sorry. It’s actually useful for me to know, but what I have to do in order to get anywhere is write it out, and be able to look at the whole book at once. Then I’ll have a useful perspective on what to change and what to keep. Believe me when I say that reader comments are something that I consider as I do this.

  4. @DWolf, but Nick did use the sonics once this fight, he took out a batch of crows with it, using the electronics nuke setting.

  5. .50 calibers would do it. Well, it does depend on what round out of what gun. I mean, a .50 cal handgun round would just likely kill Nick, but a .50 cal anti-material rifle would kill the building behind him too. No matter what, you’re going to have to reload before getting into the double digits, most likely. So long as it actually hits, that’s not a problem, as the anti-material rifles were designed to let a man shoot and destroy a tank. One shot, one kill indeed.

    Remember kids, treat every firearm as if it is loaded, even if you just unloaded it yourself. No one wants to shoot Marvin in the face and have to stop by Quentin Tarantino’s house to clean up the car.

  6. I know he took out the crows with sonics but ,imho, there were situations where it would have felt more natural to use the sonics. like right after rook sliced the guitar up. Nick has used the sonics alot more in previous fights.

  7. I know he took out the crows with sonics but ,imho, there were situations where it would have felt more natural to use the sonics. like right after rook sliced the guitar up. Nick has used the sonics alot more in previous fights. PG i think yer a bit optimistic about .50 handguns. and very optimistic about .50 AMRs; they are more about having range and having the power to destroy importants tech bits ( think radars etc) in one shot.

  8. Keep in mind Crow has studied up on The Rocket. He countermeasured the roaches with crows. He knows the Rocket past and current favored sonics. He’s in Michigan it would seem very likely he’d installed anti sonic measures in his suit. It wouldn’t be very difficult to modify a set of anti noise earphones to cancel out an incoming sound wave attack ( assuming I had access to the $ and the tech to do so ). The 9 have already shown they have ample $ and tech to throw around. Honestly, would be foolish if he hadn’t designed an anti sonic device. Nick himself had already built his own for helping resist mind suggestion sonics after her knew they were in use.

  9. possibly, but the main use of sonics vs power armor would be to scramble the suits electronics. no electronics and you have a fancy cage. we already know that rook didnt know the use of sonics in this way. we also dont know how well known the rockets use of sonics is. nicks grandpa was active b4 the internet or even the common use of pc’s, no smartphones either. nick hasnt been active that long either. even if say syndicate L knows would they tell The 9 ? my guess is no since it would give you an advantage over your rival criminals.

  10. I’m fine with things as is because:

    1. after taking out the crows, there was worry about some battery going low.
    2. after the guitar got broken, he was thinking more about how to dispose of it so the enemy wouldn’t get the tech than about how best to proceed with the fight.

    BTW, I somehow thought when Travis told Courtney to hide and pointed in the direction of the sidewalk, that he intended her to become a piece of side walk. Now I’m wondering what kind of mayhem she’d create if she now walks out looking like Haley.

  11. Upon further research, you may be right. The answers I can read are somewhat mixed, and I can’t find any particular one to trust more than the other. Some say it goes through whatever’s out there, some say light tanks only, some say only WW2 era tanks, and it depends on the round itself as some are better designed for armor piercing. For firing from a rifle, you do have to have some distance for best results. Sounds like between 200-500 yards.

    I was optimistic, it turned out, as the rifle I was thinking was .50 cal turns out to use a larger round capable of penetrating 40 mm of armor, which is more than any .50 cal can do.

    The .50 cal might still get him in the stealth suit. Currently unsure what it would do to the regular one.

    Dwwolf has given me a good excuse to look at pictures of giant powerful rifles today, so it wasn’t a complete loss.

  12. .50 is getting a bit long in the tooth, its fine versus lightly armored targets like the sides of light apcs or regular vehicles but there is a reason the us military wanted to replace it with an automatic 25mm grenade thrower: increased penetration (2″) with miniature HEAT rounds and the ability to engage targets in cover with airburst HE. Program got cancelled because a) it was a foreign contracter (HK) and b) the traditionalists won out again.

  13. I remember the military’s preference for certain contractors was involved in the minor controversy over Dragon Skin body armor. Worrying about a foreign contractor can, in certain times, be a legitimate concern, but I don’t think we have to worry about Germany turning against us nowadays.

    I mean, I can understand why there’d be some bias there, but they got better.

  14. I’m trying to imagine the conversation.
    “Uh, Haley, this is going to sound kind of weird, but I need a piece of your hand.”
    “I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that, OK?”
    “Sure thing. Great. Good. Excellent.”

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