Hackjob: Part 6

Travis eyed Kid Biohack. “We need to talk.”

Swallowing, Kid Biohack said, “Uh-huh.”

Travis let him down to the road, and let go of his throat, but not his arm. Kid Biohack stared up at Travis with an expression that made it obvious that he probably didn’t actually want to talk as much as he wanted to be somewhere else.

“Rocket,” Travis asked, “can you get us a vehicle?”

“Give me a second.” I checked my HUD.  Getting the van to come would be a little bit of a hassle. I’d worked out a way to get the van to drive itself to me recently, but it wasn’t my first choice. For one thing, it would have to transform and I wasn’t sure I completely trusted the algorithm that told it when to do that.

For another, remote control via stealth suit wasn’t my first choice. I needed to make some tweaks to the gauntlets. This version of the stealth suit was essentially a new design, and it had bugs.

Fortunately, I noticed something I hadn’t expected–a green dot next to the word Control. That meant Kayla was working, and even better she was probably in headquarters. I clicked on her name and opened a voice connection.

When she answered, I said, “Can you send the jet over here? If you can’t, I can give it permission to take off, but it’s better if you do it because its programming requires it to give me a lot of hassle before letting it off its leash.”

“It’s gone,” she said.

Before I could ask why she explained. “Captain Commando, Red Hex, Troll, and Bloodmaiden needed it. The Shift flew it out and he took Myriad with him.”

“Myriad?”

Kayla paused, probably trying to decide how to tell me without saying the person’s name. “They needed someone who could look like someone else.”

“No kidding…” I checked the HUD again and realized that there was an ongoing conversation between Myriad, Captain Commando, Bloodmaiden, Red Hex, and Troll.

Except for Cassie, none of them were technically members and the display gave them slightly darker backgrounds to indicate that. We needed to invite them all in someday. This wasn’t the time, though.

“Okay,” I said. “Could you guide the van over here?”

“If I push it. I’m a little busy with Cap’s group. Can’t it take itself over remotely?”

Resisting the urge to argue with her, I said, “Yes, but don’t trust it to switch forms at the right time. I’d do it myself except my gloves give multiple clicks with the remote systems. I’m still trying to figure out why.”

“Got it. What look do you want?”

“It’s labeled ‘Official HL’.”

“Are you sure you don’t want the one with the chainmail bikini woman mural?”

I frowned. No one seemed to get that a look like that would be useful as a distraction in certain situations. “Official look. No bikini.”

Kayla laughed. “Are you saying there’s a mural with a naked woman? Should I tell Haley?”

In a dead tone, I said, “Please get the van.”

“Naked van on the way.”

Travis’ voice broke into the conversation. “Rocket? What’s going on?”

“Van’s on the way,” I said. “Control’s handling another incident too.”

He frowned. “What’s going on?”

“I’m pretty sure it relates to last summer. Check the connection list and you’ll know as much as I do.”

He checked the communicator on his wrist, frowning more as he saw the other group’s names listed. “No one told me about that.”

“Me neither,” I said.

Vaughn looked from one to the other of us. “I kind of knew. I’m dating Bloodmaiden.”

The van rolled down the street. All white with a triangular front and the Heroes’ League’s “HL” logo on the side, it looked more like a futuristic stretch limo (or stretch SUV) than a van.

Kid Biohack actually smiled for a second, but when the door opened, he said, “Don’t forget my guy!”

I looked at the person he’d been chasing. The guy was lying face down on the ground. Travis turned toward Haley, “Night Cat, grab him.”

Next to Haley, her orange and white costume contrasting with Haley’s black and gray, Camille said, “Don’t worry about it. I’ve got him.”

The man floated upward, his hair floating upward like his arms and legs, and moving toward the van’s open side door. Whatever Kid Biohack had used to knock him unconscious was still working. The man had begun to snore.

I got in the front and took the driver’s seat. Haley took the passenger’s side next to me, her arms and teeth shrinking back to normal size. “Where are we going?”

The door shut and I started the van moving, passing a smashed car that I was pretty sure I’d been thrown into. “I was thinking that we’d go to the office.”

The board had rebuilt it over the summer. I’d contributed design elements, but I hadn’t been in it yet.

“Good idea.” Then she turned toward the back seat, wrinkling her nose.

I checked the mirror.

“Thanks,” Kid Biohack said as Vaughn passed him a roll of paper towels. He balled a few together, and after a moment, he ran them down his leg.

Travis had sat down behind me, facing Kid Biohack. He leaned forward, and Kid Biohack’s eyes widened.

Voice low, Travis gestured toward the body and said, “Tell me why you were chasing this guy.”

23 thoughts on “Hackjob: Part 6”

  1. “none of them were technically members and _____ gave them slightly darker backgrounds to indicate that”

    Fill in the blank?

  2. For a chapter where basically nothing happens, it’s surprisingly fun. The cliffhanger at the end, though…

    Also, did y’all notice the post number for this chapter? Extra ominous or what?

  3. Lots of interesting little things in there. I guess we see why Vaughn wasn’t hanging out with Amy this evening. I find myself wondering if “someone who can look like someone else” might be hooking back into why Cassie had to leave town almost a year ago – she seems in charge of the other group. Maybe she needs a double to fool someone? Or multiple someones, if Amy borrows that power too? (By the way, have we met Myriad? Doesn’t ring a bell right away.)

    Meanwhile, on the technical side, I find myself wondering about external cameras on the van, so that Kayla doesn’t accidentally steer it into any vehicles or debris on the road; it got there pretty quick. Is Nick close to having his own self driving car, needing only an AI like the jet? And what about Kid Biohack’s live feed, is he using drones that are still following the van? What’s being shown on the net now?

    Also, they rebuilt the building?? Kind of impressed by that. The board has hired more than merely social media experts. So, yeah, lots of interesting little details. Nice!

      1. Derp. Thanks MN, I must have not been paying attention when she picked her code name. Makes sense… glad the whole “being forced into a form” didn’t turn her off superheroes.

        1. You didn’t miss her picking her codename. She did it “offscreen.” It’s another “thing that Nick didn’t know about” that indicates the world keeps on moving even when he’s not paying attention.

    1. Well, rebuilding the office is probably a lot more mundane than you are thinking. The board likely maintains insurance on the office/building. It gets destroyed, the insurance pays at least part of rebuilding it. Insurance is one of those pesky adult things that Nick and the rest have had limited exposure to.

  4. I am very sad. I have finally caught up to current after essentially binging this entire thing over 3 days. Is there a patreon or ongoing fund thing?

    1. Funny you should ask. I’ve been meaning to set up a Patreon account for ages. Your question pushed me to get that done.

      Thanks.

      Also, wow. That’s a lot of reading. I’m not sure exactly what the word count is at this point, but the total could easily be around 700,000 words. It’s likely more.

  5. So I caught the bug at Drew Hayes and have been reading from the beginning since that guest post went up. I am very sad to be caught up cus now I have to wait to find out what happens next.

  6. And now the new folks must suffer through the waits like the rest of us. On a positive note, Jim is possibly the most consistent poster of any web serials I’ve read. I’ve been reading LoN what, 6 years now I think, and I can’t recall him ever missing an update without it being scheduled and no hiatus ever lasted longer than he stated it would. Heck, I seem to recall him going on vacation and still posting!

    1. I’ve done that. Actually, I’ve done that from Mexico when I was on vacation there for a week. I’m still amazed that I did that. My wife was… less amazed.

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