The Battle of Grand Lake: Part 7

“One more thing,” Haley said. “The armor Chris made for you back when we fought the Cabal is still here, right?”

Kayla said, “Yes,” hoping her voice didn’t sound like she was thinking what she was actually thinking–that this was getting worse and worse.

Haley glanced toward the hangar where they’d kept it, and said, “If it sounds like they’re coming down here put it on. It might make the difference between living or dying.”

“But I was awful in it. I was useless. I don’t like fighting. I’m fine helping you coordinate, but I don’t train all the time like you do.”

Kayla put her hands in her lap, suddenly aware that they were shaking.

Haley met her eyes. “Kayla, we’ll get through this. I’m sure it doesn’t seem like it right now, but facing the Cabal and Ray was worse than this. I didn’t have any idea how to hurt them, and Nick only figured it out by luck. We know that some of the things on your lists worked on the Abominators’ servants last time. Remember that, and step through what we need you to do. Go over the lists with Man-machine, and when you’re done, grab your armor from the hangar, and watch the robots feeds. We aren’t going to leave you alone.”

Kayla would have felt better if Cassie had given that speech, but she nodded anyway. She didn’t need to add to all things Haley had to be worrying about. It might be easy to imagine she could do better, but Kayla didn’t delude herself.

She’d been in the middle of a fight last year, and she had no illusions. She’d do worse.

“Okay,” she said, and slipped off the stool. She started walking out of lab and over to Man-machine.

Gerald Cannon grunted as he saw her. He’d been staring up at the enormous TV wallscreen. From the direction he’d been looking, she guessed he must have been watching the News 10 commentary on the spaceship floating above Grand Lake.

“Bunch of goddamn idiots. What do they think the aliens are here for? Bringing us some fucking enlightenment? Did they notice the guns?”

Gerald nodded at her. “Bring it all over here where I can see it.”

Kayla put the lists from the files on the table in front of him, and pulled up the spreadsheets.

He went for the paper lists first, flipping through the pages, sometimes chuckling. “Wish I’d known about these lists a few years ago. I made about a quarter of these.”

He snorted. “A burrito gun, courtesy of Yellow Burrito himself. What a crazy kid… Made for a helluva strange couple years when he was part of the League. It made things very interesting.”

He turned his face up to the screen where the spreadsheets glowed. “Yeah, we better go with simple. The list has some great weapons on it, but we ought to stick with the ones that you kids will get–particle accelerators and lasers. Point and burn. That’s what we need.”

Then he looked down at the list again. “Damn,” he mentioned. “Never mind what I just said. You go grab the particle accelerators, I’ll be in the lab.”

She frowned. When had she become the team’s servant?

She did it anyway, lining up the particle accelerator rifles next to the table in the main room. Then she got her powered armor from the hangar, passing Chris and Sydney. Sydney whirled layers of metal around her right arm, and Chris pointed at the layers and talked.

Kayla didn’t pay too much attention to them. At almost the same time, Marcus and Haley were floating the League jet into the airlock.

The wide metal doors slid open, and then closed behind the jet. The sound of pouring water followed the thump and hiss as the doors sealed.

She hoped they sealed. A leak would be a disaster. She wasn’t even sure if her suit worked underwater. Dismissing it from her thoughts, she piloted the suit out of the hangar and back into the main room.

As she passed, she heard Chris say, “I think I better suit up too, but you get the idea, right? We can spread out the heat, and even lose some of it.”

When she reached the table, she opened the suit, stepped out of it, dropping a little over a foot to the floor, and pulled out her chair. Then she launched the bots.

Nick had placed a few outside. The League had cameras outside, but even the best placed cameras couldn’t point in every direction you might want. The bots covered the holes. Kayla aimed them toward the edge of the forest nearest the spaceship.

In the end she could see the spaceship from five different angles, and felt fairly sure she’d see people jump out of it.

Chris and Sydney left the hangar and walked into HQ’s main room. Camille had beaten them to the table. Kayla wasn’t sure where she’d been, but she’d been sitting there when Kayla stepped out of her suit.

Everyone wore costumes now. Gray metal covered Sydney’s entire body, making her at least a foot taller, and giving her the appearance of a massive, metal woman.

When she reached the table, the metal fell away from her, turning into an  ugly metal lump. Sydney wore a green bodysuit underneath.

A quick check showed that Gerald Cannon was still in the lab. Kayla wondered if she should have left him there.

Haley’s and Marcus’ icons reappeared on the screen.

“We’ve surfaced, and we’re in position for the attack. Let us know when everyone’s ready, Control.”

Kayla clicked on the mouse to reply. “Man-machine’s still in the lab. Is that okay?”

On the screen, Haley tilted her head a little, and said, “I don’t know. It depends on what he’s doing.”

Chris, now in his suit said, “He did say he wanted to be ready for the soldiers.”

Haley frowned. “I guess.”

No one said anything else for a little while.

Then Haley said, “It’s just floating above Grand Lake. What do you think it’s doing?”

Chris spoke into his comm. “I don’t know. Scanning maybe? That’s what I’d be doing.”

Gerald Cannon broke in. “Both of you, quiet! I’d be hacking into our communication system, and the more you talk, the better for them.”

Kayla had a bad feeling he might be right.

Bare seconds later, all the TV stations on the wallscreen began to show headlines similar to “Message from the Alien Ship’s Commander.”

Over the comm, Gerald said, “Looks like the gloves are about to come off.”

22 thoughts on “The Battle of Grand Lake: Part 7”

  1. I think this is the second to last section where I’ve got to quote from Stardock.From here on out, it’s almost entirely unknown to people reading the last story.

    Well, except that Sydney gets hurt.

  2. With this post, my already low opinion of Kayla officially reached rock bottom. Yay!

    I mean seriously, in addition to being useless and constantly needing to be told what to do she also has enough entitlement issues to resent being told what to do. It’s not enough that someone needs to hold her hand, she’s even picky about WHO holds it. Why exactly is this person even here? Oh right, because she was someone’s friend, and friends let friends in on their heroics.

  3. Mazzon: From what I read Kayla seems to be more capable then she thinks she is, feeling overwhelmed on a super hero team when getting attacked from aliens seems like a pretty reasonable response.

    As always Jim love your work.

  4. Haley glanced toward the hangar where’d kept it

    Haley glanced toward the hangar where she’d kept it
    Or
    Haley glanced toward the hangar where it had been kept

  5. Mazzon,

    Teenager, with all that implies.
    Hasn’t been trained as a hero since birth.
    Doesn’t “get” the need for delegation of authority, nor the strange ways it can impact on people.

    Everybody has to learn eventually. Generally it’s a good thing to learn it in the middle of a peaceful situation. But as long as you learn it and don’t die, any time will do.

    She just doesn’t understand how truly important her role is yet.

  6. Not totally sure about this.
    Haley glanced toward the hangar where’d kept it,

    Errors
    but she’d been sitting at there when Kayla stepped out of her suit.
    Should be”sitting at the table”

    Kayla had bad feeling he might be right.
    Should be “Kayla had a bad feeling”

  7. This is going pretty well.

    “She was whirling layers of metal” – I’m not sure this sounds right. Might that be ‘winding’? Some other verb? ‘layering metal’?

    Battle coordinator can be a really hard job…

  8. Kayla needs someone to sit down with her and explain how important information is. She’s frightened, has no powers, and knows she’s of marginal use in a fight, even in the armor.

    Problem is that this should have happened before. They can’t do it now.

    Thinking about it, Gerald might not be the best to administer said lesson, but he might not be as bad as the readers will assume. Chris seems relatively level headed, despite having spent enough of his life with his grandfather to create a bond with him.

    In other words, Kayla needs leadership, and she’s not seeing it in Haley, for whatever reason.

  9. So, what is Gerald working on in the lab, eh?

    My vote is that he’s working on a gender-bender cannon.

    The second thing I’m interested in hearing about is where C is, and Daniel’s grandfather. I really can’t see C just sitting idle. Judging from how Jaclyn guides him, and they can move at extremely high speeds, his vision’s not completely gone, just mostly gone. That spaceship is a big target if someone were to start throwing rocks, while stumbling around the park at the speed of sound…

    Daniel’s grandfather might even be able to help, though I don’t think anyone would think to ask him for help, he’d probably just show up. I can see C helping him walk away from the park after the fight. Daniel’s grandfather having used mental powers to stay invisible and providing a somewhat, ah, unstable mind’s eye of the fight for C, complete with Hrrnna wearing Nazi helmets.

  10. The four typos I noticed (including two already mentioned).

    As mentioned: hangar where’d kept it, – who kept it?

    Double and: Marcus and and Haley were floating the League jet into the airlock.

    An ‘at’ probably left over from a previous version: but she’d been sitting at there when Kayla stepped out of her suit.

    Needs an “a” in front of bad: Kayla had bad feeling he might be right.

  11. Actually starting to enjoy the Kayla perspective. She’s a lost untrained average person dumped in like any of the rest of us.

    Other than that it feels like things are happening in slow motion, which I just realized is the same feeling Kayla has – that everything is going in slow motion and she can’t manage to figure things out enough to act even at that speed.

  12. @Mazzon – You know who would be better than Kayla at everything her job includes? The battle AI, of course. But humans are clearly better at coordinating and communicating than a sapient computer made for the task.

    If only these humans didn’t fear the AI so much. And their treatment of it is quite rude. They should at least give it a name/designation. Just calling it “ship” is unacceptable.

    Yes, I know, I am just repeating myself. But I am fascinated by the idea of a sapient AI, and I am frustrated by how little the team seems to care about it.

    Then again, I would be perfectly happy if the AI managed to break free and take over the world, so I might not be the best person to listen to.

  13. @Dreamer: “whirling” is a perfectly good verb to use in this context. From m-w.com:

    whirl (verb) – to move or go in a circle or curve especially with force or speed

    The mental picture I get is of concentric layers of metal rotating quickly around her arm — incomplete layers, as in pieces rather than full coverings, or Kayla wouldn’t be able to see more than one of them. Such a configuration would be completely reasonable, given the context of Chris trying to give her some ideas for diffusing energy attacks and dissipating heat.

    Hg

  14. Typo:
    “Message from the Alien Ship’s Commnder.”
    Missing an a in Commander. Think all the other typos have already been mentioned.

    Nice job as always, can’t wait to see how this plays out!

  15. “In other news, someone went on a mad burrito gun shooting spree. A dozen people are in the hospital following near-fatal cases of diarrhea. They are currently being treated for dehydration. When reached for comment, one of the victims stated the entire experience was ‘Unpleasant and ass-burningly excruciating.'”

  16. @masterofbones- There isn’t enough information available to even begin to justify unshackling the AI. There is no sign that it has done anything benevolent that it was not explicitly commanded to do(among other issues.)

  17. @pinkhair – you don’t have to unshackle the AI in order to get it to coordinate the league. It already has full access to the internet, etc, and it can already patch into their comms. It just needs to be told to.

    And the reason that we don’t even have a hint of the AI’s motivations is because nobody ever talks to it. I would be down there with the ship in every moment of free time I had. Sex is fun, but sentient computer kinda wins my attention.

    Regardless, I wouldn’t really mind an AI takeover. That would be cool. Fuck humans, let AI rule over all!

  18. @Jim – I have hesitation about Cassie’s gun. It doesn’t seem like it would be a very capable ruler, since it seems obsessed with destroying everything. On the other hand, having it there to talk to would be hilarious and fun.

    “Betcha can’t toast that spaceship”

    BZZZLAAAART

    “Guess I lost that bet”

    “I SHALL DESTROY ALL THAT OPPOSE US!”

    “Cool beans. Lets go accidentally take out the US government.”

    “IT SHALL BE NO ACCIDENT!”

    “Yeah, that was the implication.”

    “IMPLICATIONS SHALL GET YOU NOWHERE!”

    “That would seem to be the case”

    “YOU DARE MOCK ME?”

    “Mockery is my permanent state of being”

    “YOU SHALL KNOW OF MY FURY!”

    “Yes I do. We are kinda mind-linked remember?”

    “I NEVER FORGET ANYTHING, UNLIKE YOU WEAK ORGANICS!”

    “Cool.”

    “I AM INDEED HIGHLY INTERESTING, OR AS YOU WOULD SAY USING YOUR SOCIETY’S IDIOMS, ‘COOL’.”

  19. “Out of the lab” or ” She walked out of the lab”, maybe.
    “She started walking out of lab and over to Man-machine.”
    Everyone caught the others I saw. Good job, team!

    Were there ever gloves on? Floating ominously over a city of another planet doesn’t strike me as particularly friendly, but that could be me.

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