The Unusual Suspects: Part 6

As Dayton shut the door, I realized I was alone—not completely alone because there were people in the room. Since most of them were heading toward the door or talking quietly, however, and I was basically alone.

Günther waved me over, probably to help him put things away. We’d used rings, poles, and balls in the course of the class. The class had put them into boxes, but the boxes were still sitting on the floor.

Within a minute, he’d waved the other assistants over, and we were carrying boxes into the armory. He wasn’t carrying any.

It didn’t take long to clean up. As I put the last box inside, he walked through the door, and leaned against the wall.

“Done?” He asked.

“Except for my armor,” I said, and took my helmet off. Then I started on the suit’s right arm. Taking the armor off always went more quickly.

Günther stepped away from the wall and came closer, stopping a few feet in front of me. He picked up the helmet. “Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio.”

Then he smirked, and put it back on the floor.

“I don’t really think of you knowing Shakespeare.” I said.

“Yeah?” He asked. “I saw a few of his plays in their first run.”

“Hamlet?” I unplugged the cable on the right arm, and then the whole arm hung loose.

Günther shook his head. “No way of knowing. It was long time ago.”

“Did you ever meet Shakespeare?”

Günther cocked his head. “Depends on what you mean by met. We went to the same pub a few times, but we never talked. Now Christopher Marlowe, I talked to him a few times, but that was business.”

I wasn’t completely sure who Christopher Marlowe was, but I’d heard his name and knew that I should have recognized it.

“But enough namedropping,” Günther continued. “Nice job with not letting St. Louis get turned into rubble.”

“Thanks,” I said, taking off the suit’s left arm. Then I stopped, for the first time realizing that Günther had practically led me to the exact conversation that I’d been planning to have with him.

That led me to wonder if he, an immortal being with thousands of years of experience with humanity, had brought it up deliberately.

I decided I didn’t need to think too hard about that one.

“There’s something I’ve been meaning to bring up. It was clearly aliens who provided True Humanity with the designs, but I don’t have any idea which aliens, or even really where to start finding out.”

Günther grinned. “So you’re asking me to help you play interstellar Sherlock Holmes?”

“I… guess so?”

“Great. I just wanted us to be clear on that. If you want me to help, we need to agree on some ground rules. Here’s the first one: if you’re going off-planet, you need to tell me. My deal with your grandfather includes protecting you, and I’m not going to be able to do that from millions of miles away.”

I thought about that for a second, and then I nodded. Having Günther around wasn’t going to be a burden even if it added something unpredictable to the mix.

“My second condition,” he said, “is that you need to listen to me. If we’re up there and I tell you we need to go, we go. Ask me about it later, sure, but we might not have time when we’re there. Got it?”

“Ok,” I said.

He glanced toward the open door and then back to me. “What you need to know is who might want to destroy the human race, and narrow it down who would have the opportunity, and more importantly, the will to do it.”

As he talked, I clicked on certain spots along the suit’s legs. Soon both were unhooked along with my boots.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested, but if I didn’t keep taking the armor off, I’d never get to my next class on time.

“Let’s start with who we can eliminate from our list of suspects.” Despite what he’d said about playing Sherlock, Günther seemed to be enjoying himself. “First, the Xiniti. They’re keeping humans here as much as they’re keeping them safe from cultural imperialism, but they owe the Heroes League, and wouldn’t let anyone destroy humanity if they heard about it.

“Second, we can eliminate all the interstellar nations that have grown up among the humans the Abominators modified into soldiers.”

The rest of my armor—breastplate, back piece, and lower body section—came off, and I started putting the pieces back into their boxes.

“Here’s why,” Günther said. “The Abominators gave their soldiers a block against coming to Earth. They wanted to protect the base level breeding stock from contamination. Individuals might be involved, but as groups they’re not capable of coming here because the Abominators found a way of passing the block down.”

I turned away from packing the armor. “I wonder how that works?”

“No idea,” Günther said, “but I’m sure a lot of people would pay well to find out.”

He broke into a smile at that. “Not that I’d sell that secret if I had it. Now here’s where you need to look: Only the very largest spaceships have jump drives, and those ships are too big to cloak. That means all your suspects have to come through the jump gate, and not many do. It won’t take that long to look through a year of traffic.”

13 thoughts on “The Unusual Suspects: Part 6”

  1. Despite Lee/Gunther’s general affability I for some reason see him getting in a fight with Shakespeare. And for some other reason I don’t see it as a totally one-sided fight… Secret literature powers?

  2. *Honk honk!*

    Hey buddy, can you get a move on up there?! Get your ass through the jump gate already! Oh, that’s it. *bites his thumb in the direction of the other ship. The pilot gets suited up and space walks over in a sealed suit*

    “Did you bite your thumb at me, sir?”

    I do bite my thumb, sir.

    “Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?”

    *turns to Moai in the passenger seat and whispers.* Is the law on our side if I say aye?

    *Moai shakes his head. Faces the window again*

    No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.

    “Do you quarrel, sir?”

    Quarrel, sir? No sir.

    “If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you.”

    No better.

    “Well, sir.”

    *Moai passes over a note that reads ‘Say Better, here comes the League Jet’*

    Yes, better, sir.

    “You lie.”

    Draw, if you be men! Moai, thy smashing blow.

  3. Well, Hamlet got namedropped too. It’ll fit pretty well if Ronin’s ghost appears to Tara. Less well if an alternate Grandpa Rocket shows up to offer advice to Nick.

  4. [“Here’s why,” Günther said. “The Abominators gave their soldiers a block against coming to Earth. ]

    Though as I recall, there are at least some “alien” superheroes on Earth who are from those human-derived interstellar nations. Presumably they found their way to Earth one way or another, and they might have some insight to offer.

    I think this chapter establishes something important, namely why Nick and the Heroes League should be the ones investigating this as opposed to any other hero group or government group. Up until now, that wasn’t really clear. However, this chapter points out that they have a realtionship with the Xiniti, a space capable shuttle, and Nick personally can call upon Günther for advice. All things that no other group has.

    By the way, does anyone else feel that “Günther” has gotten a little too tame and helpful as a character over the last few arcs? When he was first introduced, it was explicit that he was a mercenary who didn’t always fight for the good guys. He was paying off a deal with the original Rocket and he probably genuinely likes Nick and his family, but there were strong implications that he sometimes did things we would consider “evil”.

    I’m been waiting for the other shoe to drop on that, for Nick to be confronted with a situation where this helpful friend who is a great resource has done something that horrifies him.

  5. @Matthew – maybe a little too genial, but the helpfulness isn’t really odd.. As Gunther, he was hired by the Stapledon program, so he’s gotta at least be a little friendly there. That persona was really friendly, if I recall correctly.

    Also, helping out Nick is his bond at the moment, so it’s not too odd to think that he’d be helpful. In fact, he’s probably giddy at the thought of a little righteous interstellar warfare. It might give him the chance to kick off a new identity, too.

  6. @Charles

    I don’t mean that it doesn’t make sense within the context of the story. As you say, there are good reasons for him to be helpful and friendly.

    It’s more that I feel like there was a narrative set-up that has not yet paid off. I don’t know, if it ever does pay off maybe it’ll be more effective because he’s spent so long being reliable help. Or maybe it’ll feel out of nowhere because it’s been so long since Nick explained that Gunther is not a hero.

    1. actually I feel that the fact that the dragon a little while back running in fear may have been a implication that he wiped out the guys whole home deal

  7. “Since most of them were heading toward the door or talking quietly, [however, and] I was basically alone.”

    I think Gunther is a good quasi-hero. He is greatly self interested but has his own code of ethics. Plus, isn’t he on the run from his own people or something like that. It has been a while since I read his origin explanation.

    Anyway, given the vast number of alternate Nicks (“AlterNicks”) and that they seem to play a piviotal role in history/the end of the universe/worlds, I am not surprised that Gunther has taken an interest in this Nick. I would not be surprised if Gunther had arranged the meeting with Grandpa. I recently resaw Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Nazis are not intelligent enough to ensnare a multidimensional, multitemporal immortal being

  8. Nazis were backwards in some ways, smarter in others. They did send the first man made objects into space, you know. The space race was described as “our Nazi scientists versus the USSR’s Nazi scientists” too. Also, Argentina welcomed them after the war because the country needed people to modernize their infrastructure. Unfortunately, they brought some other pretty bad concepts with them.

    They were incompetent on evolution and genetics, though. Evolution doesn’t move towards some sort of ultimate supreme being, just toward whatever adaptations fit the environment a species is in the best. It also favors diversity. If you don’t believe me, you might read up on inbreeding and cheetahs. Population bottleneck roughly 10,000 years ago means there’s so little difference genetically in Cheetahs that you can barely tell the inbred ones from the rest. They don’t even reject skin grafts from each other.

    I declare Cheetahs to be the Appalachian hillbillies of the animal kingdom!

    *cue a Cheetah digitally inserted into Talladega Nights in place of Ricky Bobby.* “I wanna go fast!”

  9. Tune in next time, for an exciting trawl through traffic records!
    Detective work is often not very glamourous.

  10. Oh, you son of a b****. Adapting Shakespeare to space travel and using Romeo and Juliet? At least use Henry VI, “Climbing my gravity wells in spite of me the owner, but thou wilt brave me with these saucer terms?”

  11. The opening paragraph… scans funny. Either the second sentence doesn’t need the ‘and’, or both sentences need to be linked as one, or… something.

    Here’s a funny thought. Did Gunther also have a deal with Nick’s grandfather in the reality where Nick DIED in St. Louis? Because if so, that didn’t work out too well. (Yet I seem to recall he was in Infinity City.) In light of that, I now wonder why he wasn’t keeping a closer eye on Nick this time around. No one tell him? Maybe this is why Gunther wants to be part of the investigation.

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