Stardock: Part 18

I didn’t pay much attention to the explosion beyond noting that it happened. We were gaining on the ships ahead of us.

I couldn’t say that for sure personally. All my HUD showed was the city at night plus blurry areas in the sky that looked very similar to the blurred areas in the sky that I’d normally see behind a jet or a truck.

In short, it was probably the two cloaked ships we’d been chasing. Or, it was some kind of cloaked drone that generated a disproportionate amount of sound in an effort to to mislead us.

That wasn’t impossible.

“Hey, uh… super codenameless person.”

Jenny laughed. Izzy gave me a look.

“You haven’t seen anything shoot away from the blurs we’re chasing?”

Izzy stared ahead. “No. Did you?”

“No. Just paranoid.”

As we talked, the scenery changed. We’d left New York as I’d always imagined it–a place with new and old skyscrapers, endless apartment buildings, and barely anyplace that hadn’t been covered with evidence of human life–and traveled further down Long Island.

That’s what the GPS showed anyway.

After a while, the houses became more spread out, sometimes I saw spots where there were trees–lots of trees. I half expected that if I flew lower I’d find neighborhoods beneath them, but the areas below us began to look like suburbs that you might find anywhere in U.S.–including Grand Lake.

In the distance, it looked like there might be some kind huge nature preserve, which didn’t fit my stereotypes at all.

I couldn’t see the area very well in the twilight, but that was the thing. Lights weren’t everywhere. Roads didn’t cover every spot that buildings didn’t.

I didn’t catch a lot of details because we were traveling at near supersonic speed, but still.

Granted, it was still Long Island, so matter what I saw ahead of me, a big highway ran below me, going through a town called Medford which had an identifiable Target next to a Sam’s Club.

It also apparently hadn’t gotten the “Evacuate, you’re being invaded by aliens!” memo.

Cars traveled down the highway, headlights glowing. Other cars traveled in and out of the stores’ parking lots.

To be fair, I can’t imagine people would expect aliens to visit this end of Long Island.

Ahead of us, the ships slowed down and decloaked.

Long, and rectangular, they’d reminded me a little of the troop transports I’d seen in documentaries of the D-day landing on Normandy Beach. It was a good instinct on my part because the front of each ship opened, and figures jumped out.

Many were loosely human shaped even if they seemed too short, too tall, had massively wide chests, or bizarrely long, slender bodies. Also, a couple had wings.

Others were recognizably alien. Several Hrrnna floated down, followed by a Xiniti.

That was a shock. From what Grandpa Vander Sloot had told me, they never traveled in groups smaller than two. He’d said that they went mad when left alone.

All of them wore powered armor. In the lighting, I couldn’t tell the colors on the armor, but I could tell that some suits were darker than others.

They fell slowly from the ship.

For a moment it surprised me that they weren’t more mobile than they were, but I remembered why. The Abominators’ standard designs didn’t allow anti-gravity to work very well for anything smaller than a van.

I wasn’t sure why that was. I’d read Grandpa’s notes on gravity theory, and I couldn’t see any reason for a hard limit like that.

One of these days I’d have to sit down and design my own version. Maybe when college was out for the summer?

Surely I could do better.

Izzy interrupted my thoughts by shouting, “Rocket, down!”

She dove, and I followed, dropping below tree level, and very noticeably so. I barely had time to slow down before I flew into the trees. They weren’t huge trees, and this being early spring, they were bare of leaves.

I turned around, and flew back toward Izzy and Jenny where they floated in the air. Inexplicably we were above a parking lot next to a small amusement park. From where I floated, I could see a race track, minigolf, and I thought I’d seen a huge pool on the way down.

I loosed the observation bots to spy on the ships, and said, “What’s up?”

“We needed to get out of sight.” Izzy’s tone hinted at a fairly significant level of disbelief.

“You’d spaced out,” Jenny said.

“Yeah,” I said, “but galactic civilization’s standard anti-grav design has a pretty serious flaw. I’d bet that a better design would allow those guys to fly instead of giving them a controlled fall. The current one’s just that bad.”

Izzy stared at me.

Jenny shook her head. “Don’t worry about it. He gets like this.”

I came back to myself. “Sorry, I’m not completely out of it. I did think to send out bots just now. They’re scouting out the area.”

Crap. I needed to get better about keeping my head in the game during combat. If I didn’t, it could lead to someone’s death–mine, or worse, Haley’s.

I considered listening in on whatever Haley’s group was doing, but decided I didn’t need an additional distraction. Anyway, to judge from the display, they were all alive and busy.

In my HUD, three views of the aliens appeared. A little further northeast, in the next clearing over stood a square office building. Where it wasn’t white, it had mirrored windows and doors.

The alien ships floated above it, one above the other, each holding a commanding view of the ground below. I didn’t think the position would be as effective against attacks from the air, but they didn’t have much of a reason to fear attacks of any kind.

Once the troops had jumped out, the ships had apparently activated the same kind of black shields the League jet used, or a variation on the same tech.

One roachbot view showed a humanoid approaching the white building. It broke into a run, hitting more than ninety miles per hour as it aimed for the doors.

When it reached the door, the humanoid burst into light. It stopped moving, and dissolved into dust in layers, starting with the powered armor, followed by its skin, muscles, internal organs, and bones.

Whoever was inside the building had an entropy shield–Abominator tech.

28 thoughts on “Stardock: Part 18”

  1. So anyway, I managed to finish the update, mostly because I didn’t want to wait till Thursday to post this. Essentially, I felt so much better today that I went to work and did all the normal stuff I do, and couldn’t get to finishing this as early as I wanted to.

    I’d gotten reasonably far along before I started vomiting last night, so it wasn’t hard.

  2. – the ships had apparently s/activeated/activated/ the same sort of black shields the League jet used

    – hitting more than ninety s/milss/miles/ per hour as it aimed for the doors

  3. Long Island, you say? Please tell me the aliens “accidentally” vaporize a certain self-proclaimed medium over there. I’m just saying that perhaps the woman who makes her living tricking grieving people deserves a slow and agonizing death. As long as she’s alive, the aliens are only the second most evil group there.

    Then again, I could be jumping the gun here. After all, all I ever saw of the show was where she got paid money by a couple to do a reading about a friend of theirs that died. She said he died feeling loved. Awww, isn’t that so sweet? Except for the spliced in interview with the couple where it was mentioned the guy committed suicide. Well, I’m sure that was a few hundred dollars well spent in this economy.

    Somebody, fetch me my murder stick! The one with the ass-shoving spikes that shoot orange juice.

  4. If Nick manages to miniaturize & improve on anti-gravity tech, I’m anticipating Schlock Mercenary style gravy-guns or Guyver style gravity weaponry for the Rocket suit’s next iteration.

  5. As to why anti gravity may not work as well for smaller objects I have 2 possible explanations for you.
    1. Gravity has to do with the curvature of space time so to make anti-gravity you have to curve space the other way, basically make a bubble that you stay on top of. The bigger the object the bigger the bubble. A big bubble is relatively flat in any local area so even if you move off center a little bit the effect would still be predominately upward. With a small bubble on the otherhand, moving off center would cause the effect to push you sideways instead of upward.
    2. It may be an inverse power relationship, 1/x^3 gets very large when x gets small. Further more… Hey why are my shields only at 1%… OH CRAP *static hiss*

  6. Curius about the anti grav. Does it reduce the effect of existing gravity or does it generate gravity in oposition to the existing?

    I had the impression it was the later in which case the power required might be relitivly cheap.

    Oh or is it maybe like a electro magnet? the side facing ground repels and the floor attracts but they can adjust each pole separately.

  7. After reading Worm I jumped over to this, and now I’m all caught up. Didn’t take too long, but still, it’s crazy reading 7 years worth of writing in a month. Now while I’m waiting for more of this I can continue with Pact. Great writing Jim.

    1. Starshadowx2: Thanks. That said I wouldn’t find it too surprising you read the archives in a month. I think of it as being equivalent to about six novels right now. Glad you’re reading in any case.

  8. Stardock just got blown up, whether self destructed or destroyed by enemy action is irrelevant.

    I suspect that Nick is going to get the opportunity to work with plenty of alien tech soon, and perhaps a couple Machine Men might join him?

    I’d love to see their interactions with whoever was in charge of copying the alien tech without designing it for humans.

    Even better, I want to see the three of them interacting while they figure out how to design starships for human use based off reverse engineered alien spaceship designs.

    Nick has the league jet to prove alien tech can be modified to a human design.

  9. Well hello there, Starshadowx2.

    Yes, there’s much to read around here. Some find LoN from Worm, others found Worm from LoN. Try not to be too disappointed that the world isn’t trying to rape the heroes here in their eyeholes.

    1. That’s one thing I’ve noticed. I love seeing the similarities between Worm and LoN. The biggest difference, as you said, it’s that the Wormiverse is a lot more unrelenting in its hated towards the characters.

  10. Point there MadNinja,

    At the same time though, after the world gets raped by aliens, because the Xiniti pulled their ships and the J and K out of system simultaneously, I strongly suspect homegrown shipbuilding is going to go from ‘extremely important’ to ‘get it done, I don’t care who helps.’

    The original Machine Man specialized in modular designs for armor. If he’s still all there mentally, he’d be the ideal person for handling the entire project, knowledge wise.

    And he’s do it too, for his family, and for the opportunity to do something that the Rocket never did. He’d probably be a complete ass about it, but he’d get the job done.

  11. Nick needs to make some non-electromagnetic weapons for the suit and his minio… err fellow Leaguers. Typical defenses seem to work by absorbing electromagnetic energy – lasers, nukes, sonic emitters, kinetic projectiles and the like – but I bet far fewer people think to shield themselves against null-field-projectors and tidal disruptors.

    The tidal disruptor would probably be easiest – an artificial gravity projector strong enough to send out a few dozen gravities that goes into alternating pressor/tractor mode until tidal forces generated inside its victims turn their more delicate organs into paste. Doesn’t matter if you’re wearing armor when your brain turns to mush now, does it?

    Null-field-projectors would probably require reverse-engineering Abominator technology we’ve seen in the series. Instead of throwing energy at a target until it blows up, they’d momentarily diminish the strong nuclear force for a couple picoseconds, disintegrating the target’s atomic nuclei into subatomic particles. Shields/armor based on absorbing energy would probably have no more effect against them than against the tidal disruptors.

  12. Anti grav tech would be very valuable for Nick it would save alot fuel that was used to counter gravity and put it into acceleration or speed if he wanted to. If it doesnt drain so much energy that he’d need a ton of extra batteries. And there comes that “suit”able power source again. I still wonder what Nicks barely there power is. The need for less sleep wohld help him alot even if its marginal on the powerscale.

  13. …They are fighting just a few miles from my house, which is weird. I mean, when it’s a major city that is fairly normal. But Medford? Unexpected.

    One thing though, the description of the landscape is slightly off- notably, they flew right past the Bald Hill monument, which has a pretty commanding view of the area.

    typo- “so matter what I saw”

  14. “might be some kind huge nature preserve” (of)

    Stardock lives on in the title, at any rate. Nice to have a bit of a breather between battles too, and “super codenameless person” is worth a grin.

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