Entry Assessment: Part 3

Several people stood up. None of them looked as impressive as the elite Cabal soldiers we’d fought–the reserves. Nearly immortal, constantly regenerating, they were incredibly strong and extremely tough as well.

Fighting people you could barely hurt who also regenerated had always seemed particularly unfair to me.

The Cabal had other soldiers too. They weren’t as tough, but they had a wider variety of powers. Maybe I was seeing their descendants?

Gunther looked them over, and said, “Any of you who can’t lift more than 20 tons, please sit down.”

None of them sat down.

“Anybody who can’t regenerate or whose skin can’t take a bullet? You can sit down too.”

Still none of them sat down.

None of them looked like anything other than normal college students. Dressed in shorts and t-shirts, some of them with sweats, I couldn’t have picked them out of a police lineup of potential Cabal soldiers.

Gunther said, “NIce to know we got the good ones, but now I have to pick.”

He pointed at three of them. “You, you and you. Do any of you have costumes?”

They all looked at each other uncomfortably. One guy spoke up, “We don’t have official costumes, just the jumpsuits they gave us temporarily for training.”

Pointing toward the hulking, rocky hill where our dorm was, Gunther said, “Run back, and get them. You won’t need the armor, but the right kind of attack can shred your clothes and leave you fighting naked. Now that won’t bother everybody, but most modern people don’t like it. Go, and hurry.”

They left. Even if they couldn’t match Jaclyn for speed, the Rocket suit estimated they were moving at 60 miles per hour.

“That’s not everybody,” Gunther continued. “What we want here are roughly equal groups. From the Heroes League, we’ve got an inventor with powered armor, a guy who controls weather, a speedster who’s as tough as the Cabal types, a telepath with multiple mental disciplines, and a super soldier with a couple frightening weapons.

“Let’s make this balanced.” He stepped toward the crowd, pointing at a tall girl with light brown skin and dark hair. She looked like a runner–not that that meant anything with superpowers. I’d fought a hugely overweight speedster once.

“Speedster, right?” Gunther gestured toward the dorms again. “Costume.”

A guy near the front stepped forward, and said, “I’d like to volunteer. I’m an aerokinetic.”

As he did, I noticed a couple things. First that the guy had been standing next to Hunter, and second that even in shorts and a t-shirt, it was obvious this guy could start a second career in modeling if being a hero didn’t work out.

He’d probably be modeling superheroes though because he had the look–square jaw, muscular build, but not too muscular, dark brown hair, and a natural expression that managed to look confident without looking arrogant.

Gunther’s eyes lingered on him for a moment. “Aerokinetic. That works. Suit up.”

The guy flew upward disappearing over the second level’s park and shopping district almost instantly.

“That leaves one,” Gunter said. Stopping in front of a black guy in a racing wheelchair, Gunther said, “Your turn. Get your powered armor and we’re ready.”

“No problem. I’ve got that.” He gestured with his right hand, and then loosened the wheelchair’s restraints.

He pulled himself loose and pushed himself out of the wheelchair’s seat, landing on the field’s grass. That’s when I realized that he didn’t have any legs.

He pulled himself up in time for a dark mass to descend from the sky, landing on top of him, and pulling him inside. The suit expanded as it moved him into the torso and helmet.

I could see him through the cracks between the sections.

Then when he’d been correctly placed, the armor sealed, closing the gaps. He’d created an interesting suit, and not just because of the black and light blue color scheme.

Only needing the upper half of a human shape, he’d extended the base past where his torso naturally stopped. Three supports extended equidistant from each other, widening in the base. I felt fairly sure they did more than keep him stable while he was on the ground.

“I’m ready,” he said.

Not long after that all the rest of them came back.

All three of the Cabal students and the speedster wore navy blue jumpsuits that had red and white stripes running off the shoulders and onto the arms.

Apparently someone had made the program’s spare suits extra patriotic.

Hunter’s friend appeared in his own costume–light blue with white accents.

Gunter stood between their group and ours. “While I think it might be fun to make this into a free for all, I’ve been told that that’s not acceptable. That means we’ll need rules. For most of you, most of the time, I’ll accept controlling your opponent as a win. That means pins, and other ways of making them immobile count.

“Plausible kills also work. Any of you who can lift tons automatically get a kill if you can touch a normal person outside armor. The Rocket in turn automatically takes anyone out of the fight if he hits them with his paintbot rounds.”

21 thoughts on “Entry Assessment: Part 3”

  1. A few thoughts: First, sorry this update is a little shorter than normal. I felt sick and nearly decided to take the night off. Fortunately, I began to feel better later in the day.

    Second, the Kickstarter is 97’% funded as I write this. While that’s wonderful, and I’m grateful for people’s contributions, it’s not over. Getting funded only means that I get the money to pay for book 2 of the story. Book three is basically the second half of book 2. I want to put them out as close to each other as possible so that I don’t feel like I’m putting out half a book.

    Thus, I’m hoping that as many of you as possible will contribute to that. I’ll be adding a few incentives that might help with that.

    Anyway, thanks. I was a little worried that this would be one of those Kickstarters that wouldn’t fund. Having it be almost there in less than a week is beyond what i could reasonably expect.

  2. Everybody just has to have their fancy power armor with the AI and shifting in weird ways.

    Lightning bolt to armor guy, mentalist takes down the speedster, Night Somebody leaps on a guy’s shoulder and whips out their declaw, aerokinetic loses to speedster. Bigguns get covered in paint.

    Reminds me of a story about Sun Tzu where he would help a lord win a bet. Each month or week or whenever, another lord brought his three best horses and raced them against Lord 1’s three best, the winner getting 50 gold from the loser on each race. Sun Tzu guaranteed him he could win him 50 gold. So he paired up the third fastest horse with the opposing lord’s fastest, the fastest with the lord’s second fastest, and the second fastest with the lord’s third fastest.

  3. For a bit there I was thinking all the extras were going to be added to the Cabal team.

    Which for Lee possibly wouldn’t be surprising.

  4. It occurs to me that a superhero in a wheelchair will have a harder time keeping a secret identity if his acquaintances notice that he disappears during crisis’s & A Certain Legless Superhero always appears To Fight Evil! in such situations. Unless he build himself lifelike bionic legs for his civilian identity or can control his suit remotely.

  5. He should have used the opportunity to go with a centaurid power armor, or maybe snakelike. If he could get his hands on the fed telepathy helmets schematics, he could even use that to design a direct brain interface…

  6. I’m having a bit of a problem picturing this guy’s armor. Does it have two legs? Is a portion of the torso selection built so it can be seen that no body is in that section? It’s not mentioned how much of his legs was amputated so can’t surmise if they’re used for controlling suit functions.

    Kudos for remembering Nick would geek out observing another person’s approach to suit design.

    If it hasn’t been brought up before now (I’m old, can’t remember that far back), Nick should really look into creating team uniforms based on the material he uses in his stealth suit. I know he was making nanite armor for Jaclyn.

  7. Oh Jim, glad to see the kickstarter is off to such a great start. I’ve never contributed to one before, are we notified by email about the rewards or how does that work? If I was a smart businessman I would have asked *before* pledging but hey, I’m just a working stiff 😀

  8. I’m wondering if wheelchair dude stole some technology original to Nick’s design. The shifting mass that transforms into a suit is very suspiciously similar. Chris doesn’t need to copy ideas to have a cool suit. Why couldn’t this guy just build a wheelchair that turns into a tank? At least then he wouldn’t be so suspicious. Hopefully Nick pattens his stuff, he really does need the money. That inheritance will only fund his level of experimentation and scale of manufacturing for maybe two to four more years depending on how good he is at budgeting and finding alternative sources of raw material.

  9. Glad to see the kickstarter doing well. I hope it hits all the stretch goals too. Now on to the errors “a super soldier with a couple frightening weapons”. I think it should be ” a super soldier with a couple of frightening weapons.”

    Keep up the great work.

  10. @ Andrul

    If Jim does an update to kickstarter talking about anything, They will send you an email and you can add more money to your pledge with out changing the tier you are in or you can just change the tier if you want to. I hope this helps you.

  11. @Farmerbob1
    He’s going to be torn between being fascinated by the armour, leery of hitting a legless guy, and terrified because that guy has as many tricks up his sleeves as the Rocket.

  12. @Michael:
    It’s unlikely that he has nearly as many tricks as the Rocket, unless he’s also a second- or third-generation inventor with access to advanced fabrication facilities, spaceship-grade alien ceramics, and oodles of money. Oh, and an alien AI to bounce off ideas as well. Still, whatever tricks he does have are certain to keep Nick’s attention, whether he likes it or not.

    @Cultist:
    Transforming machines are hardly a novel concept, and I don’t think the Rocket’s transformation stuff (armor, van, etc.) are common knowledge yet. More likely Nick will want to compare notes on how he’s managed it. Wheelchair Boy’s system seems a lot faster than Nick’s.

  13. How trusting of Nick to have told anyone outside the team about his killbot bug drones. Personally, that is an ace I would not reveal to anyone.

  14. Matthew,

    Haven’t they been used in public? I’m fairly certain that a lot of Stapleton students saw them in action in the initial assault by the aliens? Or am I misremembering?

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