Stardock: Part 29

Lim answered the phone, and from his tone I could tell he sounded a little better than he had before.

“Rocket, who do you need? Right now, almost everyone’s free, so you’ve got your pick.”

“Everyone?” That seemed unlikely.

“You got stuck with the largest group. Most of the rest had to deal with four people at a time. I’m not saying people didn’t get hurt, but we haven’t had any deaths yet. Plus, we just had help show up–mercenaries.”

“Who? Protection Force?”

Lim laughed. “No. Those guys are bodyguards and private investigators. They’re strictly national. These guys are from MetaMax. They’ve been used in trouble spots all over the world. I can’t say I’m wild about them normally, but right now I’m ecstatic. Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if they came your way. If they do, watch out. I’m sure they’ll be helpful, but I don’t know who’s paying them.”

“Okay,” I said, giving a look to the sky, and not seeing either mercenaries or the mothership. “Here’s what I need–Paladin, as soon as he’s free–plus anyone who can do long distance attacks, the Aurora Bees for defense, and we need anyone who might be able to contribute force to keep the ship in the air while we take out the engines.”

He hesitated, and then said, “Take out the engines?”

“I don’t have time to go into it, but we can’t destroy the birthing platform. Fortunately, I know how to destroy their engines.”

“Through their shields? How? Wait. Never mind, you don’t have time to tell me about it. Good luck.”

The call ended, and people began to step through a portal on the lawn. Paladin walked through first. His white long coat had brown bloodstains on his left sleeve.

“Where’s Bloodmaiden?” He asked, giving the lawn a once over. He didn’t even wait for an answer when he saw her, the edges of her armor glowing a dark red.

More people walked through after him–the Aurora Bees, Daniel, others that I didn’t immediately recognize. All of them looked more tired than they had when we left the airport. Their costumes had been scratched, scraped, and in many cases, burned.

Theo walked through the gate with them. His costume had been cut away from his burnt arm, but he moved it as well as the other.

Even in the twilight, I could tell that the skin was healthy and unhurt. He walked like he’d just run a marathon though.

He waved at me. “They told me not to go into the thick of it, but I know I can still take shots at them. They said you wanted people with long distance attacks, right?”

“That’s true, but don’t take chances. I’m trying to keep everyone alive.”

He shrugged, “Don’t worry about it. I’m not going to do anything crazy. Paladin told me he was saving his strength by doing the bare minimum.”

In the distance, I saw Alex reach down to the spot where the aliens had penetrated Bloodmaiden’s armor. His eyes widened. “How are you not dead?”

Tara stepped out of the portal, followed by Travis. That was… unexpected. They were both great hand to hand fighters, but not much else. Then I thought a little harder. From what I’d seen of her, and from what Rachel had told me, Tara’s ability to predict enemy actions in combat bordered on the supernatural. She’d likely be invaluable–even if the same ability hadn’t saved her father.

Travis was stronger than anyone but Izzy and Jaclyn. I could use him inside the ship.

Lim had sent me a few people I’d need in addition to the people I’d asked for. He was good, and I had to make a point of thanking him if I survived.

Then Rod came through–as a blond, bearded and slightly overweight guy–not as a troll, followed by Samita in her Red Hex costume. At that point I considered the possibility Lim had sent me everybody who wasn’t too hurt to move.

I opened up communications, setting up a channel for this operation. Dayton, Jody, and Sean stepped out of the gate as I started talking.

I couldn’t complain. I’d need Sean desperately for the last part of the operation.

“First off, can any of you shield us from sight? And I don’t just mean heroes. I mean everybody. Bloodmaiden did before, but–”

Bloodmaiden interrupted me, saying, “I’m fine. I’ll do it,” at the same time Samita said, “I’ll handle it.”

Feeling pretty sure I’d heard Samita specialized in enchanted items instead of using her own lifeforce, I said, “Red Hex, handle it.”

Samita pulled something out of a bag, said a few words, and we all turned transparent.

I could still tell people from their surroundings by a little, but only because anything behind them was a touch darker than anything to their sides.

“Here’s the plan,” I said. “They’re going to come here to take the artifacts, and while they try it, some of us will get on board, disable the engines and get out. Then a few of you will prevent the ship from falling and crushing civilians.

“Storm King, The Power, and anyone else who can help should be ready for that. Ghost, Night Wolf, Accelerando, Izzy, and myself will get on the ship. Bloodmaiden will support us from the ground.

“The rest of you will need to listen to Tara. She’ll figure out the best way to prevent them from taking things, and hurting civilians.”

As I said it, a big rectangular box came to a stop in the air above Blue Sky Labs. The darkness of the ship’s shields made it difficult to see where the ship’s darkness ended, and the sky’s darkness began.

On the far end of the ship, the ship’s engines glowed.

They were unshielded, of course.

25 thoughts on “Stardock: Part 29”

  1. Ace, i always hear sandra bullock in Hudson Hawk singing, “I GOT THE POWER!” when he’s mentioned by hero name.

        1. Well Sean does have serious issues….maybe she’s his hero, Hudson Hawk is his favorite movie, and he wants to rule the world. If you want to swing on a star…..

  2. Did Tara have a hero name and I forgot it, or did she never use one? Just wondering if someone else remembers.

    On the bright side, Nick’s taking charge even delegating intelligently, so that’s a good sign. I do find myself wondering how well the Heroes League jet stacks up against the tech these aliens are using though. I suppose we may still find out, so I’m holding on to hope.

  3. He snaked the name ‘The Power’ off of a dead hero before the man’s body was cold, iirc. Sean’s not big on the “understanding that the universe doesn’t revolve around him” thing. Fortunately for the rest of us, that particular condition tends to be terminal in capes.

  4. He didn’t knowingly snag it, but he also didn’t check to see if the name had had previous owners.

    Look on the bright side, he could have been naming himself after a turncoat or an arse. Or someone with 70’s fashion sense.

  5. LOLWUT?!

    Next thing we’ll have guys climbing skyscrapers without a safety net, Spider-Man-like. Oh wait, this has actually happened.

  6. @ Jim: I was wondering if you knew when book LoN book 2 would come out in print. I bought my older brother book 1, and he is now waiting (im)patiently for the next installment.

    1. That’s a better question than I want it to be. Here’s what’s up with the next Legion of Nothing book. 1889 Labs, the small press that was publishing them isn’t currently doing new books due to health problems on the part of the owner.

      As a result, I’m now on my own.

      That’s not all bad as it opens up a couple possibilities I was considering before signing up with them, but the unfortunate thing is that I’ve got to work up a process that will result in getting my books into print/ebook with minimal typos, good cover quality, and reasonable speed.

      Anyway, the good news is that my editor got back all her edits for book 2 back to me anyway. Thus, I’m hoping to get all the final changes made this month, get in contact with the artist who did the cover for the first book, and have her create another if she’s willing.

      Depending on the cost of doing that, I may do a Kickstarter campaign.

      So that’s the long answer. The short answer is that my target is late June.

  7. Yeah, cost is a big point there. Last time I looked up Legion of Nothing on Barnes and Nobles, they were selling a copy for somewhere around $80.

    As for Kickstarter, that’s not a bad idea. Maybe something with a youtube video. Scrolling shots of the cover art or other illustrations set to somebody in Nick’s age range reading part of the narration, with writing fading in talking about the campaign to get Book 2 published.

    Not sure how they stack up as far as utility and popularity, but there’s also IndieGogo that could work. I mainly know IndieGogo from their work with The Joker Blogs, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more nuances to picking a crowdfunder than I realize right now. But then, I don’t even have a donation button set up.

    Long story short, I got mad at a bank.

    1. No. I don’t want to deal with the question of how to give Robert appropriate royalties (which I would have to do if I included the story).

      At some point I might consider releasing it on its own. That way Robert and I would just have to figure out how split the money for that one thing instead of splitting the money plus considering what percentage of the book it would be.

    1. OK, so far as I know. I last got an email from him about a year ago. I believe he’s been doing more with web development than writing lately. Personally, I’d really like to see The Last Skull version 2 appear.

      Also, more Notorious.

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