Here We Come: Part 6

“Oh,” I said, looking over the instrument panel in preparation for take off, “by the way, we’re thinking that they’ve got psi-blocking devices all over.”

Alex said, “Well, that screws us over big time.”

“Yeah, we’re hoping to take them out, but if we’re lucky we won’t need to. Our first group’s got a good chance of getting Captain Commando out by themselves.”

“Good, because without teleporting, we’re not going to be much help. No one here can fly.”

So if we got in trouble, and couldn’t take out the psi-blockers, anyone coming to help us would have to do it the hard way.

“Well, if it comes to that, Flick will be running things over here. Um… I’m assuming you’re basically here to pull us out if anything goes wrong, right?”

“That’s the plan. And we’ve got all the adult supervision needed to make sure we don’t do anything else.”

“Just wondering. Then, we should probably go and do this.”

“Good luck.”

“Thanks.”

Alex’s comment about adult supervision didn’t come out of nowhere. Last spring we’d pranked Syndicate L, a criminal organization that apparently lacked a sense of humor when it involved millions of dollars worth of damage.

The adults flying along with him kept him from coming up with something crazy like that, and it was probably all for the best.

If Flick kept Sean in line, we might be able to handle our end of the job too.

I turned on the anti-gravity, and the jet began to float upward. In a moment, I’d turn on the main engines, and—

Haley’s voice broke into my thoughts. “Nick, I should be the pilot. The less time it takes you to get out of the jet, the better.”

“Oh, right…” I clicked, and set her controls to primary for both weapons and flight.

A lot more lights appeared in front of her, and my instrument panel dimmed slightly.

“See who wears the pants…” Sean muttered.

Behind me, Sydney said, “Sean!” Her tone of voice said, “Don’t be a jerk.”

Haley made the jet float forward, slowly at first, but gaining speed.

Thanks to the shields, the windows showed a transparent, computer generated outline of the topography, but only darkness behind it. The screen on the dashboard showed a topographical map with our position. It might feel different on the ground, but the view made the land look flat with some trees.

Haley sped up more quickly than I would have, and flew lower. Even though the terrain was relatively flat, it wasn’t completely flat. Haley used the terrain for cover, and used it in a way that would have made me fly the jet into a hill (which to be fair, the shields might have allowed us to blast right through).

With the jet’s inertial dampers, we didn’t feel it much, but the view screens in the back let people switch between a view of where we were on the map, a view of what was in front of the jet, and a computer desktop.

From the gasps coming every time Haley turned, I guessed that the front view was pretty popular.

I stuck with the map. I’d been in enough cars with Haley that I knew better.

“Almost there.” Haley said it quickly and quietly enough that I almost missed it.

I stood up, leaving Cassie’s gun belt clipped to my chair. I’d managed to attach the gun’s holster to the Rocket suit’s belt on the way. I’d also told the gun to relay anything it had to say through the jet’s AI. When the jet was out of range, we’d have to communicate through sparkles.

Jaclyn and Izzy made it to the hatch before I did.

Stepping past Sean without looking at him, I joined the two of them as the inertial dampers began to hum loudly, taking us from whatever speed we’d been at to nothing.

Haley turned her head around, and caught my eye. “Good luck.”

She tried to sound casual, but to me at least, she sounded worried. I felt like I ought to say something, but I couldn’t think of anything, besides, “You too.”

As Flick wished everyone good luck, Haley turned back to the dashboard. The hatch door opened. The shield outside thinned, and disappeared, giving us a view of the night outside.

We couldn’t linger. Every second delay meant another second where the people below could detect the jet with the shields partly off.

Jaclyn and Izzy jumped out of the jet. I followed them.

I fell toward the dome, thinking that as much as she might worry about me, the jet wouldn’t necessarily be safer. It wasn’t really invisible—just close. Rook had flying powered armor. The Nine probably had better technology than I knew about, and after we hit the dome anything could happen.

I turned on the rockets to slow my fall, and looked up toward the jet. Only the area around the hatch door was visible. Then the door shut, and the area around it faded into darkness.

I slowed myself to a near complete stop, and touched down quietly on the dome next to Izzy and Jaclyn.

The building’s best candidates for cells were below us.

“Ready?”

I tapped the gun. “Is she nearby?”

The end of the barrel sparkled.

Looking back at Jaclyn, I said, “I guess.”

She pulled her arm back, and bent over to punch the dome.

28 thoughts on “Here We Come: Part 6”

  1. It is finally posted and I can get back to my regularly scheduled day off (for Labor Day). Given that I’m unemployed, that shouldn’t be different, but I’ve got a couple interviews this week, and have some freelance work, so it’s nice to have a day when recruiters won’t be calling.

    On another topic, you know what I did instead of write last night? I took my family to a drive-in movie.

    A few drive-ins still survive. We saw Paranorman and (for a second time) The Avengers.

  2. As always, enjoyed the new update.

    Looks like a spell checker thought it knew better than you did –“typography” makes more sense as topography.

    1. Thanks, and thanks for assuming it was the spell-checker’s fault–which it totally was.

      It couldn’t be mine.

      Um… Yeah. Definitely something to blame on the computer.

  3. “giving use a view of the night outside.” has an extra e attached to us.

    I enjoyed the update. Something I’m not sure about though, jets are generally pretty noisy, but this one is so stealthy it’s nearly invisible. Is it inaudible too?

  4. The jet has anti-gravity and inertial damping. With that much control over gravity and momentum, why can’t it use that technology for thrust too, and do at least the final part of the run in silent mode, with the jets off?

  5. @Dave
    I’d imagine it’s an issue of fine control. It’s one thing to hover and float up. It’s something else again to ‘thread the needle’ at mach 3.

  6. A key point is that the League jet is cobbled together from more than one spaceship out of technology that the original Rocket didn’t fully understand.

    Thus the anti-gravity plates were created as landing gear and don’t allow quick movement, and they’ve never been modified to be faster. At the same time, the jet’s not invisible. It’s just got shields that absorb radiation–meaning that much of the time people won’t notice but careful people or good equipment might notice a “spot of nothing” that moves.

    At that point, you’re obviously not going to fly slowly over a plain, allowing people the best chance of detecting you they’ll have.

    Then it becomes a judgement call as to whether it would be better to get up to speed with the engines but then turn them off and float in, or just roar in at high speed, drop people off, and leave for a new position.

    They went with the latter, but the former might have been better. Either way, there’s not much time for Rook’s people to prepare a response.

  7. Good luck on your interviews Jim. I applaud your decision to spend time with your family instead of us. Those little ones grow up and away far too fast to be short changing yourself on the memories.

    Incidentally, you might want to update your sidebar. Star Harbor Nights was moved to http://www.starharbornights.com/. Also, it hasn’t been updated since 2009.

  8. Thanks Jim. One of the things I like about this story is that you can argue with the author, and he’ll tell you WHY he wrote it the way he did, in a way that makes complete sense.

  9. Jim, in regards our main character falling from the sky with one of them sparkling…

    *oils himself up and puts on the song by The Weather Girls as he dances along in cutoff jean short shorts holding a pair of rainbow sparkler*

    It’s raining men! Hallelujah, it’s raining men! Amen! I’m gonna go out, gonna let myself get, absolutely soaking weeeeeeet!

  10. Andrul: Thanks. It should be interesting. I’m hoping to get a job doing front end UI work with Javascript/JQuery and it turns out that there are local companies looking for that.

    Notto: Yeah. You’re back just before things really move.

    Dave: No problem. I try to allow the characters to do what makes the most sense (or at least the most sense to them).

    Psycho Gecko: You know, I’d never heard that song (that I remember), but I have now. For those of you who are ignorant like me:

  11. Hiya, first time poster here… Found a link to this site from topwebfictiion, spent the last week reading and I am loving the story so far. Only problem now is that I am all caught up :(… Haha..

    Also, one thing that has really been bugging me is how do you fit more than two people into a 64 ( I believe it was a 64) corvette stingray. There is no back seat and you have mentioned people getting into the back on a few occasions. Trust me, there is no way you could fit a person or multiple people in the back. Just a minor gripe, but overall, a great story so far.

    1. Thanks for reading, and its cool to know that having people vote on Topwebfiction.com had an effect.

      As for the car… You’re right. You can’t fit four in any corvette (that I’ve seen). It looks like a Stingray, but very little Stingray remains in that car.

  12. Looking forward to the next installment. Going to be good 🙂

    Did have questions about the Jet as well, but the comments already answered them for me. So I guess I now have just one question;

    Whats a drive in movie?

    1. In the 1950’s, US businesses came up with a lot of ideas that took advantage of the fact that lots of people had cars for the first time. Thus drive through fast food restaurants and drive-in movies.

      A drive-in movie has a field instead of a theater, and people watch the movie inside their cars.

      There aren’t many drive-ins left now, but it’s interesting to do for the experience.

  13. Oh thats cool. Was it good fun? I’d love to do that. Sounds entertaining.

    I went to something similar to that (well, the watching the film part was similar) called the Secret Cinema.

    1. It was fun. The only annoying thing was that the payment system was also from the 1950’s–cash only. No electronic payments.

      We knew this, but hadn’t thought about buying popcorn. So buying popcorn meant going through my wife’s purse, both of our wallets, and using change we happened to find in my car.

      I know the family that owns the theater and one of these days, I should ask them why it doesn’t take debit cards. Alas, I suspect I know the answer. It’s only open 4 months of the year, and a few years ago they were going to close it. The only reason it’s open now is that they announced they were going to close it, and enough people showed up after that that it’s presumably made a profit ever since.

  14. Apparently, I’m at least the third person to finish my archive binge at this chapter. I guess Labor Day weekend was a popular time for it. You can thank Psycho Gecko for bringing me here, indirectly. I recently read Worm, and in his prolific comments on that serial, he often mentioned LoN.

    I’m glad I’ve read LoN, but I have to say that of the three serial superhero webfictions I’ve read (this, Worm, and Star Harbor Nights), LoN is my second favorite. SHN comes in third, largely because it was early in Alexandra Erin’s writing career and she didn’t take it very seriously. Worm is an amazing story that goes way beyond the appeal of the superhero genre.

    Things I like about LoN: It deals with interpersonal and social issues in a realistic but not-TOO-serious way. It does a great job of presenting the perspective of a highly left-brained, analytical character, which is significantly different than most superhero (and other genre) fiction. It’s very entertainign, funny in the right places, and has an appropriate cast of characters. It explores the concept of “legacy” in many ways, and hopefully we’ll continue to see more with Dr. Mind and the Nine. (Seriously, does anyone NOT expect to see the Arnim Zola analogue reappear decades after his supposed death?)

    Things I don’t like about LoN: It explores the “legacy superhero” thing a bit TOO well. I’ve been considering starting my own serial, and I feel like there’s basically nothing I can do with the legacy concept that hasn’t already been done. (Not actually a problem with the story, just inconvenient for me.) It sticks too close to the traditions and tropes of the genre. This was a deliberate decision, I know, but in a genre that has largely been composed of repeating the same tropes again and again for the past fifty years, I prefer to see more subversion of tropes, blurring of lines, and breaking of conventions. Sticking (roughly) within the tropes lets you concentrate the story more on the characters than the setting and metatextual elements, which is good, but I feel like it could have been more thought-provoking if you’d shaken things up a bit more. Oh, and the editing. Not a real problem, but you’ll probably want to have someone take a pass at tightening it up before you go further with publishing.

    Anyhow, great story, and I look forward to following it in the future. Do you have a planned point at which you’ll end it, or do you intend to keep it ongoing for the foreseeable future?

  15. Thanks for reading and your comment.

    My plans include three major storylines. We’ve finished one of them (Legion vs. the Cabal and their remnants) which sets the stage for everything else. We’re just beginning the second one (which involves the Stapledon program in various ways). The third will be the final section.

    Bearing in mind how long its taken to get to the second major narrative arc, it’ll be a while before it ends, but it will end.

    As for the use of standard comic book tropes… Yeah, as I’ve mentioned, I deliberately went with a “standard” comic book universe which in this case meant a pre-“DC new 52” level of history in a universe with Marvel-style power levels and characters that slightly remind people of characters from both universes.

    I am definitely racking them up too… Superhero teams, kids with powers, superhero school, powers from aliens, mutations, alien invasions, sidekicks, inheriting a superhero identity…

    My original intention was to avoid getting bogged down in world creation which I otherwise tend to do (you’ll notice that some original worldbuilding snuck in despite my best efforts).

    That said, I think that there will be a certain amount of trope breakage in the middle and end. It’s not a goal, but given where the story is going it will be hard to avoid.

    With regards to editing: That’s definitely happening. In the course of making the first book, some significant chunks were removed or modified, and many small bits of language were changed. The next book (Powers) is twice the size of a normal paperback, and will probably be turned into two books. I’m not looking forward to that, but the editing will probably make me a better writer.

    As for your own story… Don’t let this stop you. My general belief is that an individual’s personal take on something will differ enough to make it worth it.

  16. Too many things are ending on me now, Jim, so take awhile! Ok, one thing is ending on me now, but it involves spandex! Spandex has always been a clear sign of something being greater than it is without spandex!

    Also, good to share the superhero serial love around and to know someone actually reads my long comments over on Worm. Also, always a nice boost to my ego. You know what you get when you put an ego in spandex?

    Super Ego!

    Jim, if you’re not careful I might take advantage of “My general belief is that an individual’s personal take on something will differ enough to make it worth it.”

    Now, if only I could figure out what my perspective on tropes actually is.

    By the way, any chance that for that “See who wears the pants…” comment, Sean is going to next be seen stumbling along blindly with his pants tied around his head?

  17. The less time time it takes you to get out of the jet, the better.”
    Found a typo that everyone else missed, double time useage, I don’t know if this makes me observant or just fussy!

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