Stardock: Part 34

Izzy closed her eyes, opened them, and pointed toward the far end of the engine room. “Is it the middle, more on the left side than the right?”

Rachel turned, not saying anything. When she turned back to us, she said, “That’s it.”

Izzy’s mouth tightened. “They’re not coming for us. They’re gathering there. If we want to stop the ship, we’ll have to kill them.”

She stared ahead, “I hate this.”

I got that.

Travis shook his head. “Think big picture. If we don’t take the ship down, who knows what they’ll use the ship for. They might even have something that proves we have Abominator tech by now, and that means everyone dies.”

“I know. You don’t have to tell me.” Izzy punctuated her statement by a small stamp of her foot.

The ceramic underneath it cracked.

If she noticed, she didn’t give any sign. “This isn’t what I had in mind when I signed up for this. This is what I was afraid of–that I’d become part of a superpowered army.”

“Me too,” I said. “A little anyway.”

Rachel nodded. “Me too. A lot. The government and the Defenders are both putting a lot of money into this, and I’ve been wondering what they’re going to want back from us.”

Jaclyn looked from Rachel to Izzy. “I hadn’t been worried about it, but now you’re making me paranoid.”

She tapped one finger against her thigh. It moved quickly enough that I saw it as a blur.

Travis made a noise deep in his throat. The monkey man’s eyes widened. “We can’t think about this now. I’d say this mission is about as moral as it gets. We’re saving lives, a whole world of lives–”

Izzy began to open her mouth. Travis continued anyway.

“–but I’d be lying if I didn’t see where this could go wrong. All the youngest supers, the biggest group ever, gathered together, and being trained to fight as a group. Yeah, we’ve got to keep our eyes open, but right now we’ve got to stay on task, and make sure the Hrrnna don’t aim the ship’s weapons at New Jersey or something.”

I thought about suggesting that if they targeted wherever “Jersey Shore” was being filmed, they might be doing the world a service, but wasn’t that cancelled? I couldn’t be sure.

Anyway, making light of thousands of potential deaths didn’t seem right.

“Hey,” I said, “I think we can make this easier. The shield generator’s right there. If we take it out, anyone can target this ship. Their cloaking ability depends partly on the shields working. We’ll leave them visible and vulnerable.”

Jaclyn grinned at me. “And we’ll be inside. Sounds great.”

That reminded me of another thing. “I’m less worried about us, and more worried about everyone below us. Sean and Storm King were going to keep the ship from falling on someplace populated, but if we’re moving, I don’t know if they’ve kept up.”

Travis’ voice rose. “Then we’d better get moving because the more time they’ve got, the better chance they have to fly out of sight.”

Point.

I warmed up the suit’s lasers. “Then let’s destroy the shield generator. Unlike the fusion plant, it doesn’t matter where you hit it.”

Izzy straightened her ponytail. “Let’s get this over with, but we’re still talking afterward.”

Night Wolf’s dark gray mask hid most of Travis’ face, but I could see him nod.

“I’ll start,” I said. I walked to the shield generator. Like the fusion plant, it was basically box shaped. Unlike the fusion power plant, it only had one cable leading in or out.

I aimed the lasers at it, cutting it in two. Nothing much happened. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see sparks, but there weren’t any.

Had they hidden the cable from the other fusion generator? I didn’t want to dig through the floor to find it, but I would if I had to. Then I realized that something about the shield generator had changed.

I stared at it.

Glowing screens had appeared in the air on the shield generator’s walls, showing the plant’s statistics in an alien alphabet. They were gone after I cut the cable.

“Okay,” I said, “the power’s cut. If one of you rips it apart, we won’t have to worry about someone fixing the cable, or having it fix itself.”

“I’ll get it,” Izzy said. “You’ll want to stand away from me. Maybe over there?”

She pointed at a hallway that lead out of the room. It wasn’t close by.

We all looked at each other. Jaclyn shrugged. “It’s all yours.”

Then we all made for the hallway. As we stopped, Izzy shouted. I’d guessed what she was about to do, and monitored it on the HUD. Her shout existed on multiple frequencies, changing them constantly until it settled on only a few–which it boosted to volume levels the Rocket suit couldn’t hit.

Discordant, it wouldn’t have sounded good normally, but with the volume it hurt even after the Rocket suit blocked out most of it.

Jaclyn shut the hallway’s doors before it hit its worst. Even so, Travis held his hands over his hears and grit his teeth while it went on.

When it stopped, I hit the shield generator with a blast of sonar. It created a picture of a device where some pieces had vibrated into bits while the relatively whole pieces were cracked.

I recognized the technique, and wondered if Grandpa had been inspired in any way by what her grandfather could do.

That wasn’t the only thing I noticed once I paid attention to my HUD again.

We were connected to the outside again. It wasn’t the strongest of signals, but the Stapledon channels appeared along with the Heroes League’s.

My observation bots reconnected, giving me grainy views of the ship in the distance. Long and thin, the bottom of the rectangular ship glowed dimly as it aimed itself toward the coast.

The quality of the pictures didn’t make it clear whether it was New York or New Jersey, but even in the twilight, it was clear that there were a lot of lights.

I checked the GPS. We were flying toward New York. Dots trailed us, not very closely, but they were gathering speed. Sean, Vaughn, and a few other capes I didn’t know as well.

They must have cloaked the ship when they started flying away.

Now though, they were on our trail. We had a chance. If we moved quickly we might even be able to take out the other fusion generator while we were still over water.

Izzy pushed through the doors as I said, “Have you checked your comms?”

I didn’t need to. They already were.

“We’re above water right now,” I said. “If we can take out that second power plant before we get to shore…”

Travis let the monkey man go. With a squeal, the alien ran back into the engine room. “He wasn’t going to help us anyway,” Travis said, “but if you carry me we’ll get there faster.”

Within seconds we were moving. Izzy carried Travis. Jaclyn ran, and I flew behind them, Rachel hanging on to my shoulder.

The hallways turned into a blur of doorways. We were nearly there in what seemed like an instant. I slowed down, and managed to land without plowing into Izzy, Travis, and Jaclyn.

We stopped at a corner.

Izzy held her finger to her lips. “They’re at the end of the hall.”

I knew I should be concentrating on how to take them out, but I clicked on the Heroes League channel. Haley’s voice came through, only slightly distorted by static.

23 thoughts on “Stardock: Part 34”

  1. “This just in, a special public safety message from our benevolent government warning everyone to stay inside, lest they suffer at the hands of the evil Commu-radiation now floating through the air. Commu-radiation, as we all know, is more dangerous than regular radiation, because it’s red in color and seeks to destroy your freedom and capitalism using well-known high tech digital socialism with just a hint of enviro-fascist intellectualism. This has been your Spoon Fed Memo of the night on the O’Angry Fiction.”

  2. I think I’ve seen it spelled as Hrrrna, Hrrnna and Hrnnna at separate points in the story. What is the correct way?

  3. Honestly, the way those letters blur together, my brain parses it as ‘constipated grunty noise’ whenever I see it. I find it rather appropriate.

  4. “I checked the GPS. We were flying toward New York. Dots trailed us, not very closely, but they were gathering speed. Sean, Vaughn, and a few other capes I didn’t know as well.

    They must have cloaked the ship when they started flying away.

    Now though, they were on our trail.”

    Slightly confusing here. First it mentions the capes outside the ship, then says “they” seeming to refer to the aliens, then another “they” that I think goes back to the capes? Might be worth clearing up.

    1. Hg: Not intentionally. I do, however, have a long history of naming non-human characters with names that I think appropriate for non-human mouths.

      One of my friends once joked that in order to say the name of one of my characters (from a cat-like race) in an RPG you actually had to cough up a hairball.

  5. We should start making lots of movies and fiction where aliens invade the arctic, instead of the usual destinations. After all, we might get invaded by genre-savvy aliens one of these days. Wouldn’t it be better to have them safely directed there instead of hitting major population centers?

    Actually, forget that. That would threaten our penguin and polar bear populations, and penguins and polar bears are freaking awesome. Maybe we can get aliens to invade different places by pointing out how expensive New York is? I mean, if they’re coming to stay then real estate values are an issue, and major cities like New York and Tokyo have high property values…can interstellar immigrants really afford those high prices right off the bat? I think not. Have you ever seen what Space U-Haul charges? The rates are insane.

    1. Don’t want to be nit-picky or anything, but I am pretty sure only polar bears are found up in the Arctic. Penguins are a South of the South Hemisphere faring species, specially around Antarctica.

  6. Bad idea, Travis. That monkey guy that is in no way a major part of the plot or anything else so far will be the death of you all for some reason, apropos of nothing. Just you wait.

  7. We also don’t want them to attack (and melt) the polar ice caps…. Well at least if you look at a map of the world many of you wouldn’t care for the resulting rise in water….. I think I might be high enough (and low enough) to appreciate the fact that I would finally get my beach house!

  8. @Simon: Hey now, I once had a fighter who just happened to be a sentient polar bear whose race tended to philosophize a lot. His name was Battle Dancer. He died.

  9. I suppose in a best case scenario, we might end up with Polar Bears and/or Penguins armed with laser guns, which is on my bucket list. So maybe it would be worth the risk.

    Hmm…the Power Armor Penguin squad. Like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, only more “avian space marine” and less “amphibious ninja”. If they had jetpacks, then the penguins could finally fly.

  10. Well, there have already been sharks with laser beams, so I don’t see why we can’t do polar bears and penguins with them too.

    Jim could dress up in a black leather jacket and give us a thumbs up after he jumps the shark 🙂

  11. Noo, you gave me part 35, then took it away.
    What gives?

    I’ve done the cat name one in Star Wars. Eventually they turned it in to ‘Henry’ (or near enough) and called us all Henries

  12. Please note that the cast of “Jersey Shore” was not local to Seaside. They represent the worst types of tourists that a shore town can get. Bennies, like them, are the bane of any true clam-diggers existence. (Not that anyone can dig clams on the jersey shore, tourism, factories and over fishing saw to that.)

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