Chancy Connections: Part 14

They hit me several times even as I gave the rocket pack more fuel, and twisted, shooting upward and unpredictably (I hoped) to the left.

Meanwhile, I gave each of them a full blast of the sonics, hoping that the way I’d tweaked my grandfather’s algorithm would find a resonant frequency that would break alien tech.

Nothing started smoking, and that was bad because Haley needed help.

She hadn’t stayed inside the van. She’d ducked around the corner, using the van for cover—which wasn’t a bad idea. It was better than staying inside until the alien machine burned through, but it didn’t stop the machine from hammering the van and everywhere around it with lasers.

I had no idea how she survived, but she rolled out from under the van on the near side—away from the road.

When the alien machine followed her she jumped up and landed on top of it, the rifle on her back, her arms tearing into the machine’s hull, shredding the bulge on top of the roof.

As much as I wanted to help her, aiming toward her would likely draw the other machines’ attention toward her. Better to draw it away.

I twisted again, aiming toward the trees off to the side of the road, and making the machines chase me if they wanted me. The sound of air passing the Rocket suit mixed with the growing roar of the rockets.

The machines appeared in my HUD, both of them following, and worse, gaining.

That was not good in so many ways. They were still firing and hitting me for one, and distance dispersed the beam, lessening the damage—if only by a little. Plus even for a machine, distance made the shot harder. I’d take a glancing blow over a direct hit any day.

A beam ran across the back of my thighs. It felt hotter than before, and it wasn’t my imagination. With as many times as I’d been hit, the error messages had been constant, showing me the level of damage.

[Red Alert! 30% of overall protection remaining!]

It wasn’t as bad as it sounded, but it wasn’t good. Armor still covered me, but the thinner it got, the more quickly it would get destroyed.

Where was everybody? I could see how everyone in Grand Lake might have a hard time, but Izzy could get here instantly once she changed, and she could easily bring Daniel along.

Well, unless the machines had attacked them too. That wasn’t impossible. In fact, in their position, it made a lot of sense.

I turned again, this time flying into the trees, taking a few shots as I slowed down to fly between them.

[Red Alert! 29% of overall protection remaining!]

The stand of trees blocked their view of me, but not entirely. They kept on firing. Laser blasts hit leaves, pine needles, tree branches, and tree trunks, burning and shattering wood. Still, it made it harder to hit me. Too big to fit in between the trees, they had to fly above them, firing down at me, but not able to get clear shots—not if I kept moving anyway.

I did, but it wasn’t easy. I stayed in the air, dodging branches, sometimes dropping to avoid the larger ones.

I gave a glance to our communication system, and saw that people were calling back. Icons jiggled, indicating messages. Izzy and Daniel were listed as responding.

A tree branch hit my arm, not seriously hurting me, but causing complaint from the armor anyway, and forcing me to pay attention to my flying or I’d shoot off in who knew what direction.

I couldn’t stay in the trees much longer. The machines would burn them down, and then me.

I sent orders to roachbots. They’d caught up and were waiting in the trees. I didn’t have many EMP or exploding bots left, but still had the flash bots and the bots meant for bugging and tracking. It wasn’t much but it was something.

I had one more thing though—a “bullet bot.” I’d designed its tip with the same system that made Cassie’s sword cut through nearly anything. I’d been planning to test it anyway. It was too bad I only had one.

On the comm list, Haley’s vitals went everywhere. She’d been hit. Or hurt. Something.

I didn’t have time to analyze why. I sent the roachbots the order to attack, and shot myself out of the wood in a burst of pine needles and broken branches.

Simultaneously several things happened. The bots enveloped the two machines that had been after me in clouds. I couldn’t be sure if their senses included what we could see, but I set the flashbots to explode in waves, and the tracking/bugging roachbots to broadcast on as wide a spectrum as they could.

I kept the exploding bots and EMPbots in reserve, flying out just in time to see Haley.

The machine she’d been fighting had extended some kind of tool from its back, and it had grabbed her leg.

As the machine dove, beginning to roll toward the ground, and clearly intending to scrape her off, she reached down, ripping the tool out of its back. Then she reached inside, pulling out a long cylinder.

The machine fell, and as close as I was, I wasn’t going to make it.

She pulled out a grapple gun from its holster, and shot the Rocket suit in the chest.

It stuck.

16 thoughts on “Chancy Connections: Part 14”

  1. How do they manage to drive around everywhere and get in and out of the van all the time without anyone managing to get a shot of their license plate? Ok, a secret League jet, I can see. A special car hidden in the lair like a batmobile, I can see that. But a regular vehicle that has superheroes jumping out? Especially all the times we hear that there are people standing back somewhere. Sometime, someone has got to have some sort of telephoto lens on their camera or someone uses a computer to pull up a high pixel camera image and enhance it enough to make out the license plate.

    1. I never explain how it worked in the text. I know I mentioned that the Wolfmobile’s paint can change color though.

      The van can change color too. It can also change license plate numbers in the same way.

  2. [How do they manage to drive around everywhere and get in and out of the van all the time without anyone managing to get a shot of their license plate?]

    Given all the other modifications Nick has made to the van, I wouldn’t be surprised if he can cause it to display a fake license plate when they’re using it for superhero business. Though mind you, in its ordiinary course of use the whole point is that no one sees superheroes slipping in or out of it so he might not have had that activated.

    It’s been an exciting battle so far. My only real issue is that I don’t have a good picture for what these alien machines actually look like. We know they’re streamlined, but I’m not clear on how big they are or what color or anything that would really let me envision them in my imagination.

  3. The regular van with superheroes jumping out of it relies on something fairly easy to come by: people not paying a lot of attention to a regular van for at least as long as it takes for heroes to exit it. Throw in trees, alleys, and side roads, and it gets even easier. It’s not one-hundred percent reliable, but people can miss a lot.

    Like in that experiment where people are asked to count the bounces of a basketball passed around a group of people. Then a man in a gorilla suit walks through the middle of it and the counters never notice.

    Or another experiment where people had to sign in at a desk for something. The person behind the desk would have to bend down or move just out of sight to get something for the process, but a different person would walk back or stand up, though they’d be dressed the same.

  4. Hey, where did my next chapter button go?

    I guess I’m all caught up :.(

    Does any one other than me think Legion of Nothing should be a game?

  5. Rynhold: Now you’ll have to suffer along with everyone else…

    Matthew: You’re totally right about the description issue. My editor was telling me that I need to add more in general to book two. In her words, “not Tolkein levels of description” but sentences.

    She’s going to be very surprised when she sees the poems I’ve added*…

    * Joke.

  6. Hey Jim, when are you going to contact the video game developers?
    I’d love to play a Legion of Nothing video game. Naming my dragonborn after your characters just isn’t good enough.

    1. I think I’d have to attract either a large enough fan base such that developers come to me or develop a smaller fan base that would be large enough that I could do a Kickstarter to fund it myself.

      That or maybe see if the open source version of City of Heroes is flexible enough to work as a base for Legion related gaming.

  7. CRAP! I just got caught up after a week of non-stop superhero ecstasy. Your cliffhangers were bitches even before I had to wait for another chapter. Now they are purely abominable. They are the kind of thing a writer would do if were infected with Abominator madness. I hope the Xinti exterminate you for this obvious threat to galactic peace.

  8. Nick better study the alien HECK out of those drones. Find out who sent them, steal their technology (auto-targeting lasers would really have come in handy), and use this new knowledge to DESTROY THEM ALL (or report them to the most relevant authority, probably Xinti).

  9. Another thought is that he could potentially fix/upgrade them and just send them back to whoever sent them and see how they like a taste of their own medicine.

  10. LoNGame: I would say, try to get Ninja Theory interested. They’re pretty good for being a small company and only having three games out. But they have a habit of making 40 hour or less games and I think a LoN game deserves to be bigger.

  11. I do miss City of Heroes. At least that Phoenix Project is around trying to put things back together. May NCSoft tank like a blaster! And by that, I mean badly. Trust me. Blasters couldn’t take a punch.

    Stalkers, on the other hand, could at least take a few. You might call them Glass Cannons if you’re into the TVTropes, but sometimes the best offense is an invisible man sneaking up on people and putting his fist through their head.

    And yet, the most evil person in the entire game wasn’t Lord Recluse, or me, or Rularuu, or Hamidon, or Mot, or Darrin Wade. No, the most hated evildoer in all of CoH was…Westin Phipps, the “social worker” with a comb-over.

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