Stardock: Part 17

In my HUD, Sean’s square started blinking. He wanted a private chat. Oh, great.

I let him talk anyway.

His voice came over the connection as a shout, or if it wasn’t a shout, it had the tone of one. “Are you trying to make me look bad?”

I muted him. Then, thinking better of it, I cut our connection entirely. There was no way that conversation could go anywhere useful.

Lim’s voice, still calm and collected, came over the Stapledon channel. “Then that’s it. We blow Stardock. Everyone retreat through the portal that will open next to Flame Legion. Rocket, Aurora Bees, Patriot Jr., and Izzy—you’re last. Also, Izzy, you need to pick a codename.”

I glanced over to where she hovered next to the building. She said, “I know.”

She sounded polite, but her mouth twisted as she spoke. I wondered how many times she’d heard it.

“Wait,” I said, “don’t we have any more options? What about the other New York teams?”

Lim said, “Not really. The New York teams that have a chance of handling a ship like that are up in space. The rest are either helping evacuate or getting ready to fight whatever comes out of the smaller ships. Well, they were anyway. I’m redirecting some of them at the addresses their leader mentioned in his speech.”

That made a lot of sense. There had to be some way to take out the ship before it took Stardock, and proved what we were doing. Could Guardian open up a gate in front of one of the asteroids, and open it above the ship?

He probably could, though I was pretty sure he wasn’t clairvoyant. He had to be able to see the place he was opening up a gate to or have visited it. He’d likely visited Stardock before, but if he hadn’t, it would involve opening up multiple gates and essentially zooming in until he got close enough.

Plus, it might be hard to gauge how much damage a given asteroid or piece of asteroid would do, and it would be even harder if the ship had shields. Given its size, that was more probable than not.

Choosing wrong would mean that the ship would likely smash into New York City, probably killing a lot of people, evacuation or no. No matter how dangerous or how stupid it is, not everybody evacuates, some of them for good reason.

I decided not to mention it.

In the air, a hatch opened on the lower half of the spaceship. Small, blurrier ships flew out of it, some of them flying toward the ship near Stardock, others spreading out.

I would have told everyone what I’d seen, but Izzy beat me to it. She started talking before the hatch finished opening.

I only paid enough attention to hear the tone of her voice raise as it continued, finishing with, “I don’t know where they’re going.”

Lim barely let her finish. “Rocket, are the ships that are spreading out going toward the addresses they just gave us?”

“Give me a second.”

I’d set the GPS to take the addresses as the suit recorded them. Comparing the routes the ships were taking to the addresses led me to say, “All of them but two are headed toward addresses mentioned, but I’m not at all sure where those two are going.”

Daniel’s voice came over the comm. “I’ve got a feeling it’s important.”

Agent Lim sounded amused, “Me too.” In a more serious tone, he said, “Rocket, Izzy, follow them, but grab a copy of Flame Legion to carry with you. The rest of us are going to assist as needed.”

Travis’ voice came over the comm. “Agent Lim, we can do more than this. With a good plan, I think we could even take out the mothership. I’ve got some ideas—“

“No.” Lim didn’t let him finish. “I’m in command of Stardock, but that’s not my primary responsibility. My primary responsibility is to make this program work. We can replace Stardock. We can’t replace people. Don’t worry about seeing action. You’ll see it. Rocket, Izzy,go!”

We went. I recalled the observation bots as Izzy swooped down toward the dorm where everyone else stood out of sight. Or so I assume. It still glowed red to my eyes.

I flew over there, staying low, hoping that that would be enough to keep me from coming to the aliens’ attention. And yes, that was probably stupid, but I didn’t have a lot of other options.

Izzy flew upward, holding Jenny against her right side with one arm.

Jenny’s red costume covered her entire body, leaving no skin exposed, so I couldn’t see her face. Still, the way her left arm wrapped around Izzy’s back and clung hinted that this might not be the most comfortable trip she’d taken.

Setting a channel for Izzy, Jenny, and myself, I asked, “Did you see where they went?”

Izzy didn’t slow down, and I accelerated to keep up with her.

“Barely,” she said. “We might not lose them if we hurry.”

I’d known that I couldn’t keep track of them while they were cloaked. They were too blurry even when they were nearby. Knowing that Izzy might lose them too was an unpleasant surprise as I’d gotten the impression that her hearing had a massive range. Her grandfather’s had.

We hit more than five hundred miles per hour, causing the ground below us to blur—houses, apartments, shops and businesses turning into nothing but lights and vague shapes.

We weren’t going too quickly to miss Stardock when it blew though. The fireball shot straight into the air, turning into a mushroom cloud.

They don’t have to be nuclear.

15 thoughts on “Stardock: Part 17”

  1. I have a feeling Nick is going to be on spaceship engineering duty for his time after he’s done with University. Seems like they need to start over again.

  2. “We weren’t going too quickly to miss Stardock when it blew though. The fireball shot straight into the air, turning into a mushroom cloud.”

    Possible responses: “That blows.”

    “Fucking Skynet.”

    “Boom, there it is.”

    “Looks like that Coke and Mentos rocket fuel was unstable after all.”

    “Alright folks, look at the little flashy thing. This was all just swamp gas reflecting light from Venus…”

    “So ends the 9 year journey of the USS Hindenburg, Starfleet’s unluckiest ship.”

    “That’s what we get for outsourcing all the joint welding to Jamaica.”

    “Roswell that ends well.”

    “You want s’more aliens? Better get your pointy sticks ready.”

    “And that’s the day Homer Simpson got fired from Stardock.”

    “Huh, so that’s what happens when you heat a hot pocket for ten minutes.”

  3. They were too blurry even when they were nearby. Knowing that Izzy might lose them too was an unpleasant surprise as I’d gotten the impression that [she] had a massive range [as h]er grandfather’s had.

  4. Sonar is limited to the speed of sound unless one can detect sound waves from a distance – but then it isn’t sonar; it is detecting sound waves from a distance.
    This means that once something is moving at fairly moderate speeds, sonar is no longer reliable. If you were a couple of miles from an object for example, sonar would not show you its location – it would show you its location twenty seconds into the past. And something as fast as a spaceship could move faster than the speed of sound by a huge margin, thus making sonar entirely useless once it started moving away from you.

    This is true of any kind of sensor. A starship starts moving at half the speed of light and even things like radar or lidar or your own eyes would be largely useless against it.

  5. Well,

    Active sonar is only useful within certain circumstances, but passive sonar is not so limited.

    Sure, passive sonar is “just” listening, but any decent active sonar system is going to have some pretty good listening devices too.

    Anything moving rapidly in air is going to be making noises, unless it’s not interacting with matter.

  6. I start reading the list of possible responses without looking at who posted it. get to teh end and think, psyco gecko? look up, and ayup, psycho gecko

  7. Bob, that reminds me of a story I read online once, in a forum where someone had posted funny chatlogs.

    This person had chatted about how they and some friends were having a sleepover or something, and they were out in the backyard roasting marshmallows when suddenly they heard sirens and saw flashing lights. They ran around to the front and saw that a neighbor’s house was on fire. Then they saw the neighbor nearby, who happened to notice them and turned to glare at them.

    Turns out narrator had forgotten to leave behind his/her stick with a marshmallow on it.

  8. “There she blows!”

    I lack the words to properly describe just how autistic it makes me feel to realize that I’m bothered by Izzy’s sonar’s ‘massive range’ because range doesn’t have mass.

  9. I’m kinda disappointed they’re not trying to destroy it. I mean, you’re already going to blow up a lot of New York if you want a large enough explosion to ‘remove evidence’ (i.e. vaporize stardock) so why not give it a go? The loss of lives would probably be balanced out by proving to the aliens that you can take out even their largest ships. Especially if you did it with powers, not with alien tech. For instance, I wonder what would happen to the (presumably gravity based) shields of the ship if you opened a portal (which can only be a wormhole and therefor would have absurd gravitational shearing near its edges) in the space that the shield currently occupies? Assuming it wouldn’t be blocked somehow, it should at least blow the everliving hell out of their shield generator and let Nick perforate the thing with his roachbots. Also instead of gating an asteroid to hit the ship, perhaps they could have gated the ship in front of the largest asteroid as it was moving.

  10. Passive sonar still has the speed-of-sound limitation. Someone some thousand feet from you is sprinting at 20 miles/hour and you’re detecting his position via passive sonar? Nope! You’re only detecting his position a second in the past, during which he’s shifted a good thirty feet.

    Now make that more than 1000 feet away and the target faster than a sprinting human and your margin of error increases rapidly. In the case of aircraft moving at supersonic speeds several miles away from you? Totally useless for anything other than their general direction.

  11. Depends on how good you are at seeing the sound. Your aircraft moving at supersonic speeds several miles away from you? Sure, you might not know precisely where it is, but if your sensors are well designed, you’re going to have a good idea where they were a few seconds ago.

    Now let’s move forward in time. If I know where you were in your supersonic ship fifteen seconds ago, ten seconds ago, and five second ago, what does that give you?

    A vector.

    Even better, if you have extremely advanced sonar, you can actually see the wake of the ship, and follow it like you might follow a ship moving through the water at high speeds.

    We don’t know how good Izzy’s sonar is, really. We know it’s decent, probably better than that of Nick’s suit, but we know it has some limitations.

    And this is where the argument about character abilities splats against the wall of author prerogative. We haven’t seen enough yet.

  12. Lemme put it to you this way. Essentially, what Izzy is tracking is the sonic “footprints” left behind by the ships. The concern is not the accuracy, but how long they are detectable before fading. Footprints in the snow only show where someone was in the past, but they lead directly to where they are now. But if it’s snowing, then the footprints are only around to follow for so long.

    Hg

  13. Too bad Jim can’t get permission from DC. If the story was real world Izzy could negotiate for the right to go by Supergirl and wear the blue suit. I can’t think of anything that would boost sales more than having their character actually flying around performing heroics.

    Since that can’t happen maybe she should consider a name contrary to her fathers name. Maybe Ms. Freedom, Deliverance, or Liberty?

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