Demo: Part 20

Of course they were. I’d tested how the suit worked while exposed to electromagnetic force, figuring that someday I might have to fight Sean in it. Despite the shielding I’d put in, self-repair didn’t work well, so I’d designed it to shut off when exposed to enough electromagnetism that there might be problems.

And here we were.

The suit’s artificial muscles released energy as part of a chemical process however, so there wasn’t anything stopping me from what I did next—rushed them, reaching Blue Mask in one long jump.

One nice thing about sliding down the hill earlier was that Sean’s dust hadn’t kept up with me, and now that he was attacking the suit directly, he wasn’t worrying about it. The result? I could see my opponents.

As my foot hit the ground, Blue Mask moved quickly, stepping out of my way, and slashing at my legs with his sword. The sword either couldn’t penetrate the Rocket suit or didn’t need to.

It was almost certainly the latter in fact, because he struck my left leg as it touched the ground and my right leg was in the air.

The technique had good chance of pulling my leg out from under me and making me fall—except it didn’t work that way.

I had tons of force to work with. Beyond weighing more than five hundred pounds in the full Rocket suit, I could lift trucks. So when my leg came down after my jump, it had already shattered the stone as it sunk a few inches downward.

Even though I could tell Blue Mask was stronger than a normal person, he wasn’t strong enough to knock my leg out of the hole. All the same, he tried, and I leaned forward, my right leg touching the ground before I fell, and giving a push. It was enough to throw my entire body into the air.

I aimed myself at Sean, and started firing off goobots.

He did a better job of protecting himself than I would have expected, surrounding himself with enough dust that when the goobots exploded, they never touched him.

He launched himself backwards into the air almost at the same time, getting out of my reach even as I landed next to the flag.

A notification ran across my HUD.

Self-repair processes enabled

I probably could have grabbed the flag then except that I hadn’t taken Blue Mask out, and honestly, grabbing the flag wasn’t part of the plan.

I barely turned in time to face Blue Mask as he ran up the hill to face me, sword still in his hand, cape billowing out behind his back, and his wide brimmed hat only still attached because of the string under his chin.

He’d shown his ability to knock bots out of the air before, so I blasted away with the sonics. At first he grinned, and I noticed that he was wearing earplugs. They all probably were.

Sonics were the Rocket’s signature weapon.

Stopping him in his tracks with noise probably wasn’t going to work, but that was OK. I didn’t really want to hurt him. I aimed the sonics at his chest and let loose with a frequency that induced nausea, and intestinal discomfort.

I could have gone further than that, but I didn’t.

He bent over, sword held at his side and covering his mouth.

Out of the other side of my HUD’s peripheral vision, I saw Sean’s cloud begin to expand in my direction.

With my other arm, I aimed more of the same at Sean. I wasn’t sure whether the sound would even get through Sean’s dust cloud, but soon enough, the dust cloud dropped to the ground, still shrouding Sean in a cloud of gray, but I could see through it.

He stood in the middle of gray swirls, bent over, both hands on his face.

That left me trapped in my own actions. The moment I turned off the noise, they’d be able to concentrate again, and it would be two on one against me. Meanwhile, Amy still hadn’t taken their flag.

Where was she anyway?

I barely had time to wonder, standing there with both hands out, each pointed in different direction.

I began to touch my tongue to the mouthguard that acted as a backup control set.

On the other side of the arena, Tara fought Slugger one on one in front of our flag, using two short sticks against his wooden bat. Meanwhile Gordon, still covered with goo, fought Rod and Samita.

Despite Sean’s control over magnetism, and by extension iron, Rod had changed into troll form, and it hadn’t worked out for him. However it had occurred, Gordon had caught Rod’s eye with the glowing moon symbol on his chest. Now Rod stared up unblinkingly at Gordon.

Samita held a staff in her hand—the kind of gnarled wooden staff that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the cover of most fantasy novels.

Electricity danced around the top end, and every time Gordon tried to fly closer, possibly to help Slugger fight, she loosed a small bolt of lightning.

As I looked in that direction though, something else caught my eye. On the black and white screen that was my HUD for the moment, I thought I saw a gray shape on the other side of the arena, just past where Samita had pointed out the wards.

The sonics only reproduced it in a shadowy way, and the thermal imaging didn’t detect it at all, but if it were real, it was big. Elephant sized, maybe.

23 thoughts on “Demo: Part 20”

  1. Huh? Your post appears to be 150 minutes before mine, but wasn’t there when I started reading. Hmm ,someone’s times are out somewhere

  2. I my have missed something. did he get his leg cut off or is it just frozen?
    if he got that shit cut off. he is taking the pain well.

  3. So something unseen, and perhaps unseely. Just an observer, or is Gordon being aided.

    Another really good entry.

  4. Finally caught up after a week. Have to say this is one of the best fictions I’ve ever read. And I actually do quite like Sean, I feel in a sense he is a more ‘normal’ character than the rest.

    1. Joab: I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m always surprised people manage to get through it that quickly. I’m sure there must be at least 500,000 words in this story as it stands. Anyway, I can tell you that Sean’s going to continue to appear, and have interesting things happen to him.

  5. I don’t know about “like”, but he was a bully as a child but is now trying to do the right thing, so that should get him some respect.

  6. Thanks Jim I was confused.

    I agree that Sean has become a interesting character. he was a super ass at the start and had a hard time adjusting to super hero life. but I think he my start to turn it around.

    but I still want to see Rocket kick his butt!

  7. So Sean took a page from Misaka Mikoto’s repertoire? I’d be really worried if he gained enough fine control to use the Iron Sand Sword (砂鉄剣 Satetsuken) technique.

    1. Someguy: I wasn’t aware of Misaka Mikoto (previous to the last few minutes of Google searching…), but it’s pretty much a given that Sean’s going to get better at what he does over time.

      I’d actually thought about including the “Sandsword” technique on my own, prior to looking it up just now.

      Will something like it appear at some point? It’s possible.

  8. Doing and archive dive this week, a couple of things occurred to me. First of all Nick has a way to cure Grandpa C’s macular degeneration. Think about it, if the Gender Bender ray can un-neuter a cat by “returning it to the state it should be in naturally” it can reverse the degeneration caused by the disease, or even regrow missing limbs. Macular degeneration isn’t a natural state after all.

    Another thing is the complexity of the controls in the rocket suit. Nick can do far too many things with the palm controls to be using individual keys for each. My best guess is that he’s using 4 palm buttons with combinations of 1-4 buttons at a time that would give 256 possible combinations, more than enough to substitute for a computer keyboard with keys to spare for other functions. I would guess a fifth button to act as “unlock” under the thumb so that keys can’t be triggered by accident and a redundant set in the other hand. There’s actually an underwater computer used by divers that uses this system, though the thumb is used for a “mouse” (actually a joystick but it controls a cursor). They don’t need an unlock button since it’s a hand unit that isn’t held when it isn’t needed.

    1. DocSavage: That’s an interesting point. That said, C’s not wild about the side effects as a result of having been hit with the Genderswap Gun unwillingly in the past. For him at least, it’s a last resort thing, and he’s okay with pretending to be blind while simultaneously having access to his sunglasses.

      That said, it’s not impossible that the gun may be employed that way in the future.

      As for the Rocket suit, I’ve never gone into detail, but that’s more or less what I’d been imagining. The suit needs to do a lot of things, and there’s no place for a keyboard. That said, there’s certainly the option of voice commands, but they’d have to be preprogrammed.

  9. Jim, Misaka Mikoto could give you lots of ideas for Sean, that’s for sure, if he’s electromagnetic based as opposed to pure magnetism.

    As for the big grey thing? I’m calling it now. Larry’s Back, in a new and improved suit! (I can hope, heh.)

  10. It actually kind of surprises me that the Rocket suit doesn’t employ any kind of neural interfaces.

    Admittedly, a high level of control through brain-computer interfacing is still out of reach, but even in our ordinary world simple actions can certainly be tied to neural commands.

    In a world that has super tech geniuses and alien technology, I would have expected such things to be present and available, at least as a back-up system for the most basic commands.

    1. Archidel: As someone’s who’s worked in technology for most of his life, I like being semi-realistic about what Nick can do. On the one hand, I could probably get away with handwaving it, but on the other, new stuff is always harder than technology you’re already familiar with. One place I worked always assumed that anything you’d never done before would take four times as long as your best estimate before trying it.

      Thus, because Nick’s never worked with that before, I’d probably have it be something that’s going on in the background for a while before it appears.

  11. Actually, the effects of the gender bender regarding the repairing of damage may not occur. Obviously based on the story of the neutered cat it could replaced a limb or even organ lost to trauma, but according to http://www.preservision.com/about-amd/about-amd-overview the exact cause of the degeneration is not known. It appears the cells are still there, just not functioning properly and therefore may not fall under the “repair functionality” of the gun. I would like to point out however that if they could mass produce the gun for use in emergency rooms the American healthcare system would be phenomenally improved. Think being able to replace damaged internal organs simply by removing them then shooting the patient with the gun. And if the repairs include tissue damage such as cuts the patient could be released the same day. Heck, since it’s portable give it to EMT’s to use at accident sites. As long as the accident victim can survive until help arrives they’re guaranteed to live. The downside is the stupidity gene. More people would drive even more recklessly if the chance of dying or permanent injury from an accident is reduced nearly to zero.

    Jim, I can’t remember if it’s been covered yet, but if not make that gun non-replicable or your world gets severely modified by logic. Also, even if not replicable, why hasn’t Nick or somebody else thought to use it on badly injured heroes like Sean’s sister (or was it cousin?)

    1. There’s another piece of this too. If people started using the Genderswap gun for medical care, its limitations would become more obvious. It wasn’t intended to heal anything. That’s a side effect.

      A supervillain created it for the purpose of causing political change, and not for combat.

      As such, there wasn’t much consideration of the possibility that the person who got hit might be at death’s door. Bearing that in mind, and bearing in mind that the person is slowly changing back to their original gender from the moment that they got zapped and will be for the next few months, you have to ask the following question, “If the gun doesn’t fully heal their wounds, will it be more complicated or less complicated for a doctor to work on them?”

      Also bear in mind that at no point have we seen it heal a hurt person instantly. We’ve only seen it change a person’s gender and heard that it healed a cat (over a period of months) of an already healed (and non-life threatening) neutering.

      For all the League knows, restructuring a person’s body while they’ve got massive injuries could just as easily kill the person.

  12. And thus you have an entire new story arc to explore. Demented genius doctor has gun stolen to perform experimentation to see just what its limits are.

    Also, it could really mess on folks in power armor. Reconfiguring the body doesn’t have any effect on the armor which is probably pretty much skin tight. And depending on the control system and security features it may become effectively not functional. Voice recognition lockout? Sorry, that voice is 3 octaves higher, you are not authorized.

  13. All this talk about Mikoto and NO ONE pointed out that Sean’s sister has taken the name “Railgun”? *shakes head* So I guess I’m the only one visualizing him firing her like a missile too? Fine.

    Good job on the battle, incidentally. I don’t often comment on combat, because I know relatively little about it… as long as no one is teleporting or growing extra limbs (beyond their abilities) I nod and appreciate in silence. I am guessing Amy’s somehow been held up by Stephanie, though we don’t yet know exactly what those spells were either.

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