Stardock: Part 28

“I’m not sure that we can leave,” I told him.

Lim, sounding frustrated, asked, “Why?”

“They’ve got an Abominator birthing platform. It’s got twenty tubes or so, and even though it’s only partially working right now, it seems to be repairing itself.”

I’d almost told him that Cassie had communicated with the machine. They probably knew about her Abominator gun. Flick had seen it when we’d rescued Cassie from Rook last fall, and she’d probably passed it along. All the same, they probably didn’t know that Cassie could communicate with and possibly control Abominator devices.

It seemed like the kind of thing to keep quiet.

Lim made a strangled noise, and said, “What? Fuck! You’re not joking at all. I thought everything else we had to deal with today was bad. Destroy it, and if you can’t destroy it…”

He paused. “If you can’t destroy it, get it out of there. I’ll send you Portal if you need her.”

This was the most upset I’d ever seen Agent Lim. I took a breath. “I’ll see what we can do.”

“I don’t care what you need,” he told me. “If you ask for it, I’ll try to get it for you. Just don’t let them get that machine.”

“Seriously? Okay. I’ll call you back when I figure out a plan.”

Lim sighed, and said, “You’ve got less than a minute. After that, everyone follows my plan, or whatever plan comes down from Washington. And bad news, some people over here are already talking nukes.”

I was about to point out how that hadn’t worked out too well in the Avengers, but Lim hung up.

Wow.

I broadcast on our groups general channel. “Hey everybody, Lim just told me that the main alien ship’s heading straight for us. We’re either going to have to take an Abominator artifact back with us or destroy it.”

Bloodmaiden stared down at her communicator

“Hey Cap, how easy would it be to destroy it?”

Cassie’s armor adjusted as she pointed her helmet toward Blue Sky Labs.

Then she said, “It’s not possible.”

“Not possible? We’ve got your gun, my bots and Accelerando and Izzy.”

Cassie sighed, and said, “It’s not possible in the time we’ve got. We can put a few holes in it and rip it to pieces, but its mind is stored redundantly all through it. Give it enough time, and it will put itself back together. Bet we could drop it in the sun, but we don’t have the jet here, so that’s out.”

This was not good. In the back of my mind, I tried to think of what we were supposed to do next, but it didn’t feel like I had any good ideas.

Jaclyn’s voice came over the comm. “OK, so destroying it is out. We take it and run, right?”

I shook my head. “No. It’s really, really big. I bet this thing is as heavy as a moving truck–one of those big U-Hauls, you know? Plus, they seem to be able to home in on Abominator materials or something. Even if we take it somewhere, they’ll find us. I think we’ve got to take the ship out.”

Thinking about the ship, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. How were we supposed to take that out? We’d taken out a couple small ones. It couldn’t be that easy to take out a full sized battleship–or whatever it was.

For all I knew, it was an alien garbage scow that had been adapted for piracy.

Okay, I told myself, I probably ought to keep on talking so they don’t think I got distracted. “The really bad news is that people in D.C. are talking nukes.”

Vaughn broke in, “Didn’t they see ‘The Avengers?’ There’s no way that’s going to work.”

“I know,” I said.

“Alright,” Jaclyn said, “so we’ve got to take the ship down. How are we going to do it? Can’t we do it the same way we took out the small ships?”

“Not that simple,” I said. “Bloodmaiden’s hurt. I don’t know if she could take out everyone on the bridge. Plus, on a ship like that, they’ve probably got an AI. Bloodmaiden’s spear can’t hurt inanimate objects, right?”

Bloodmaiden nodded. “You’re right, but I’ve harvested enough that I can keep on going for as long as we need to fight.”

“You’re sure?” I asked.

From where she stood next to Jaclyn, Bloodmaiden nodded.

The other people on the lawn–Dr. Griffin’s staff–appeared to have noticed that we were having a private conversation. The trenchcoat guy was eyeing us like he expected us to suddenly attack.

Dr. Griffin was looking across the lawn, checking each of us in turn.

I decided to ignore it. This was more important. “Even if Bloodmaiden can manage it, there’s bound to be more redundancies on a big ship like that, so we can’t just send Rachel up there. I think we’d have to send up more people. Plus, after we take it down, that thing will fall, and it’ll be a lot harder to handle than the two troop transports. The main ship is more than twenty times their size.”

Vaughn nodded. “Yeah, I’d say that once that thing starts going down, it’ll go wherever gravity takes it. I might be able to give it some direction, but not much.”

“I’m low on bullets,” Rachel added, “so I’ll second the ‘more people’ part of the plan. I’ll need them.”

Exactly, I thought. She would need more people, and even if she could float through, the others would have to get past the ship’s shields.

Impossible. Well, maybe not quite. I realized that there was one fairly obvious way to get past the shields.

“I’m going to call Lim,” I said.

24 thoughts on “Stardock: Part 28”

  1. In completely different news, I went downhill skiing on Friday, and have spent most of this weekend discovering new places that feel sore.

    I didn’t fall much (I’ve been doing cross country and waterskiing for years), but you use a lot of muscles doing downhill skiing–more than I’d realized.

    Not that that’s really relevant to this post.

  2. And so Nick finally gets really involved. He’s seemed mostly disengaged lately, it’ll be good to see him back in form.

  3. [[I was about to point out how that hadn’t worked out too well in the Avengers, but Lim hung up.]]

    I don’t think you could make a film like the Avengers in a world where superheroes have been around since before WWII and really have fought off aliens. Everyone would say it was a total rip-off of the Heroes League.

  4. I don’t see why not. Nobody really complains about James Bond being a ripoff of Ian Flemmings real adventures, or movies like Hurt Locker being a ripoff of the US military. People just enjoy good fiction.

  5. I’m picturing the next call to Agent Lim where Nick rattles off a long list of who he needs and finishes with “oh and by the way, we’ve decided it’ll be easier to just take out the mother ship.” and hangs up as Lim starts to say something.

    PS I hope we’re not really coming to the end… where there is Nothing left of the Legion.

  6. And a typo – I’m sure you meant to type a d at the end of “suppose”
    I tried to think of what we were suppose to do next

    If she lives…. but maybe they could get the twin to join.

    Oh and I’m wondering why the nine haven’t shown up to protect their investment…

  7. Theoretically, Jim could have Nick turn out to be an agent of the 9 somehow, though that would take the most surprising (in a bad way) unreliable narrator twist of all time, I think. Plus, Daniel would have to be one too, along with his family…

    Details aside, it would be a bit overly complicated, I think. I do find myself wondering what the odds are that the 9 have infiltrated the Stapledon program somehow, though. I mean, they know about Abominator tech, they have all kinds of connections…it seems plausible. All they need is a single powered agent that they could either persuade, coerce, bribe, etc. who is sufficiently immune to telepathy.

  8. I wasn’t saying they didn’t have at least one agent, but it seems they would have multiple. Lab coat guy stands out, but if Aliens are coming to take your cloning device… unless they’ve kept a small piece of the clone weed and it is slowly replicating elsewhere and hence this would only slow them down.

  9. They don’t have to be immune to telepathy. They could just have non-mnemonic implanted triggers. Imagine someone implanting your pnervous system with a biotechnology-based remote control system at a cellular level. Others would need to cut you up in order to find that if the biotech was good enough. Or imagine someone implanting commands in your sub and unconscious portion of your personality. A telepath could reveal that – but not as surface thought reading. They’d have to do a full-depth scan and how often can an agency do that to all its thousands of employees?

  10. I have to wonder why he doesn’t already have someone fetching the “jet”

    Its not like there are many other atmosphere capable, cambat ready ships available. ;P

  11. Why can’t Cassie order the machine to self distruct as part of a tactical retreat to prevent capture? This is pretty close to the truth…

    1. MadNinja is correct. Lee’s people do that. It’s an excusable mistake as the Abominators copied Lee’s people in many ways, but are easier to remember because they’ve been named in the story. So far Lee’s people haven’t.

  12. So… I started reading this assuming it was finished. And I’ve been dreading this moment. Welcome to my twice weekly checklist.

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