Doom: Part 6

“I’ve got a new direction though,” I said. “Rachel said I discovered this myself somehow, so I’m thinking that what I should really be doing is whatever I’d be doing normally if I didn’t know.”

Haley nodded slowly. “That sounds good. What do you think you’d be doing normally?”

“Tonight? Well, I was going to work on a new Rocket suit which is kind of the same thing as the suit I’m making for Cassie at the base level. It should solve the problem where I can’t carry around a decently powerful suit—once I figure out how to make it lighter anyhow. Anyway, I’m sure I’d be working on Cassie’s version even if Rachel never visited Infinity City, or those alternate universe versions of us never showed up.”

For a moment, Haley’s pupils began to widen into slits. She blinked, her mouth tightening, and they became normal.

“I hope so.” She said, ignoring what had happened.

More than a year into dating her, I knew better than to draw her attention to it.

I said, “Me too.”

She glanced toward the locker room. “I should take a shower.” She went quiet for a moment, and then said, “We’re going to the Chinese buffet on State after this. Do you want to come along?”

I thought about that. “Do you think they’d want me?”

“They’re fine with you. For real.” Her expression hinted at some frustration.

“I’m sure they’re not expecting me, though. Besides we are doing something tomorrow night, and if I do figure out the St. Louis thing, it’ll probably be while I’m working in the lab or doing research.”

Haley considered that, and said, “OK, but you should go out with us sometime.”

“I will,” I said, and not long after that, she went to the showers.

It was a relief—not to get rid of Haley, but going would have been several kinds of awkward. Beyond Sydney probably wishing Haley were still going out with her brother, Camille tended to flirt with everybody—including me. She didn’t mean anything by it, but it still opened up more potential for embarrassment than I wanted.

Plus they were both attractive, and that wouldn’t make the situation less awkward.

But anyway, they left. Haley smiled at me. Sydney said a quiet, “Bye.” Camille tapped the armor near my stomach (the bootup sequence still hadn’t finished), and said, “Nice abs.”

I went back to the lab, and pulled down the faceplate. It sealed, and I noticed that the screen said:

[READY]

I said, “Disassemble.”

Bit by bit, it landed on the floor, reminding me of the sound of hail. I knew that it was entirely off because my feet were cold. The suit had kept them warm.

I walked back out of the lab into HQ’s main room, and put on my shoes and socks. They seemed warm and dry enough. That taken care of, I sat down at the conference table, opened a computer, and implemented the newer version of the bootup algorithm. It took a couple hours, but it worked. I tested it remotely at first, but once it worked, I tried it.

It took four minutes, twenty-six seconds.

It was amazing.

Once I got the armor off, I sat down in the chair, relieved, and thinking through my next step. To get it ready for Cassie, I needed to add weapons, and one other thing. Even though I didn’t intend to include a rocket pack, I had worked out some small jets that would boost her ability to jump. I also knew of one weapon I intended to add whether she wanted it or not—a stun gun.

Grandpa had created a design for the Defenders, but the League hadn’t used it, so it wouldn’t be associated with Captain Commando or the League.

Was I going to do it tonight though? I checked the time, and noticed that it was after ten. No, I decided. I’d start something big later. Now, I’d start research that I could leave halfway through if I found I was getting tired.

Admittedly, the research was a little selfish, but it would be useful for everybody—including Cassie.

I tried to figure out if there were a way to create a ceramic with the same level of protection Grandpa’s had, but lighter—say forty to sixty percent lighter. So maybe that was crazily overambitious, but it sounded like a good idea at the time.

I spent the next hour reviewing Grandpa’s ceramics, and coming up with ideas. After deciding one of them might work, I decided to stop. Implementing it would have taken all night.

I did decide to do one thing before I left though. Unlike most people, I had access to something that might be able to tell me if it would work before I wasted my time.

I opened up a connection to the League jet, more specifically to the jet’s AI—an alien battle computer Grandpa had recovered and installed in the jet.

It texted me back immediately.

[Yes?]

I described the ceramic, its creation process, and finished by asking, “Do you think this could work? Wait, I know you’re not made for engineering. Are you aware of similar materials used in creating spaceships or armor?”

[Yes. Similar materials have been used by spacefaring races before. I assume you’re wondering if it will work.]

“Yes.”

[It most definitely will, but you shouldn’t waste your time. A business called “St. Louis Industrial Materials” appears to be ordering the necessary substances to manufacture a similar ceramic. You should order some.]

12 thoughts on “Doom: Part 6”

  1. Not ominous a name for the arc at all.

    Looks like our buddy SLIM is building lots of power armor or a space ship. All kinds of nasty ways that could go, and it doesn’t help that I’ve been primed by both Stargate SG-1 and CreepyPasta tonight. What with SLIM being so close to the same meaning as slender, or all capital letters like someone who needs to EAT.

    Luckily, CreepyPasta and supers don’t seem to mix all that well. After all, what supervillain doesn’t have a contingency plan for dealing with some sort of otherworldly abomination that tries to drive people to devouring their own eyeballs. The villains also tend to have a head start on those projects because we’ve worked on them. In fact, gave me a couple of interesting ideas to read through those…

    Anyway, Nick probably made a good call avoiding eating out with a trio of pretty teenage girls, including one that would flirt with him. Nothing good comes of teen girls. Nothing whatsoever. It has been postulated that teen girls are not real, and that they are almost entirely a race of beautiful but deadly beings that swallow people’s souls and confidence about penis size. After all, you don’t see such a collection around after high school, do you? Do you? I thought not.

    Unfortunately, some stick around in more mature forms. “Women” they are called, and it’s said they form a somewhat dangerous symbiosis with men where men can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

  2. “For a moment, Haley’s pupils began to widen into slits. She blinked, her mouth tightening, and they became normal.”

    I know this was an emotional reaction, but I’m blanking on what kind. A fear reaction? Anger? I forget why the mention of their duplicates would set her off.

    “A business called “St. Louis Industrial Materials” appears to be ordering the necessary substances to manufacture a similar ceramic. You should order some.”

    Heh. That was a great way to do the reveal, because it suggests how differently Nick would react if he didn’t have warning about a disaster at St. Louis. He probably would have gone in curious and casual, not really expecting big trouble. Now he’ll likely go in cautiously and with plenty of allies. Hopefully it will shift the balance.

    I’m guessing the menace will turn out to be an Abominator nest on Earth.

  3. Somebody hit the nail on the head earlier about putting the transformer suit in the van. It could be in the shape of a bench along one side. Even if the suit only has 85-90% of the original’s integrity it would definitely be superior to running around in just the stealth layer when a fast response is essential.

  4. Oh forget that… the van doesn’t seem to be in the greatest shape anyway, just have the whole van transform. And be sure to add a heater to the list of “weapons, etc”

    “Anyway, so Haley and Daniel, let’s take a roadtrip to St Louise and pick up some material for the new suits.” (that Armory is making – hey, we know rook escaped the island of doom, so why shouldn’t we expect Armory to have.)

  5. Roger: thanks for the typo. Fixed.

    PG: I wish I’d come up with the acronym intentionally.

    Matthew: It’ll be interesting to see how Nick reacts.

    Andrul/Notto: There are a lot options for fun things to transform. Now that I’m thinking about it though, I can’t help but think about awful and inappropriate things.

  6. I cracked up at how “doing what he would normally” worked out so fast. Awesome.
    The first thing I did was check the acronym. Always check the acronym! Especially if you can make it nefarious.

  7. Charles: The whole thing is that he wasn’t looking in other universes, and found it anyway. So, not looking might be the right tactic in that situation.

    Matthew: In “The Omnisphere,” the alternate version of Haley not only fully embraced the less human part of her nature, but actively preferred it, and tried to push Haley to do the same. For Haley, that part of her nature is something she wants to avoid. Remembering the experience is not a happy thing for her.

  8. Good technique for when you’re trying to find something if you have the spare time for it, too. You’d be surprised what you can recall so long as there’s no pressure on you. I think some study even proved that increased pressure tends to make more intelligent people perform worse.

    He still has an edge in this universe though. He knows for sure that it’s nefarious. Nuke the site from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure.

    I mean, it’s not like a company is putting together enhanced power armor ceramics to give old ladies something to paint in nursing homes.

    Well, actually…

    *cuts to where an old lady has painted a giant skull spitting out a unicorn being ridden by a night wielding a giant bleeding axe made of bones that’s swinging back at a dragon chasing them that has the milky way galaxy for eyes, all held in the palm of the grim reaper*

    Eh, ok, maybe not a bad idea. How you doing over there, Cecilia?

    *turns to find another suit painted with a very low quality rendition of The Ecce Homo* Hooo boy…last time I let Cecilia paint.

  9. Does he have an edge? Or is he so excited that he can get the parts right away that all else is forgotten in the joy of engineering?

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