Share The Love: Part 10

“Looks like Haley would like us in the main room,” I said, putting my phone back into my pocket.

“Yeah,” Chris said, checking his own phone.

There wasn’t much of a need to reply since she’d be able to see when we left the lab. She might well be able to hear our conversation about leaving or our footsteps as we walked out the door.

One of these days, I needed to test the limits of her abilities, and maybe everybody’s. One of these days knowing it might save our lives, or maybe just not kill them through ignorance. Either way, the Stapledon program had tested all of us–back on our first official weekend in the program.

I wondered where that information was kept and who had access to it.

That thought left my head as we left the lab. At one of the tables in the middle of the room, Haley had gathered as much of the current Heroes’ League as she could.

Travis sat upright in his chair, the Greek letters of his fraternity covering half of his green sweatshirt.

Blonde hair reaching her shoulders, Sydney sat a couple seats over from Travis–next to Camille. She laughed as Camille talked a mile a minute. Despite Camille’s darker complexion and black hair, I could have told from the similarity of their faces that they were sisters even if I hadn’t known it.

Marcus sat between Camille and Haley, leaning toward Camille and Sydney, and laughing along with them. He’d put down his pen and drawing pad.

I snuck a peek at the pad as Chris and I sat off to Haley’s left. Marcus had sketched a recognizable version of Sydney laughing.

Vaughn sat next to Travis, grinning a little as Camille talked, staring down at his phone, and sometimes tapping on the screen.

I couldn’t help but see the obvious. As a group, we were heavy on stealth and close combat, lighter on distance attacks, and except for Camille and Vaughn, we didn’t have much in the way of area effect attacks. Chris and I made up for that a little, but not much.

Travis gave Chris and me a nod, asking, “Do you have any ideas? We’ve been talking, and the best tactics we’ve come up with so far are to have Marcus, Haley and I scout around for it, and use Camille to pin it down for Vengeance and his people. We can’t let the thing get close to any of us given what happened to Reliquary.”

Chris glanced over at me. He obviously hadn’t heard what happened to Reliquary.

“Reliquary got bit by Thingy and started hearing voices. It looks like getting bit creates some kind of connection between it and you—unless you’ve got one of these.” I held up my glowing red gem. “Unfortunately, of all of us, only Haley, Vaughn, Camille and I have one, and we can’t get more because the North American Council of Wizards put up wards or a shield that prevents magic from going in or out of Grand Lake.”

Chris shook his head. “Crap.”

“But look,” Travis’ deep voice cut through all the other noise, and he was the only person talking, “I’ve been telling people that we can move the wards around. Put them in the hands of those of us who can handle hand to hand combat with the creature. The rest of you can take it down from a distance.”

“Do you have a plan?” I watched Travis as he shook his head. “Haley told me what Lee said. If it hides until it’s ready to take over, I don’t know what will change its mind. What motivates it? Do you know?”

I shook my head. “Food is my only guess. I wish Amy were here. She’d probably know more.”

Vaughn looked up from his phone. “She’s working on it. Mind if I put her on the big screen?”

Haley raised an eyebrow. “No, but I thought you said she was driving?”

“Yeah,” he said. “But I’ve been texting Samita.”

For a moment, Samita appeared, her face filling half of the twenty foot tall screen. Samita appeared as herself—brown face, black haired, and looking like the daughter of Pakistani immigrants. When she appeared with Rod out of costume, she used illusions of a few different people to hide her real identity, reasoning that they didn’t know each other.

The background blurred as the camera’s direction changed. Then Amy appeared. She was driving, her hands on a steering wheel, her eyes aimed ahead at the road. She gave a little wave with one hand and grinned as she appeared. “Hey, everybody. We’re driving through West Virginia right now.”

I had no idea where they were, but at that exact moment, they were crossing a river. Green painted steel beams were part of the background blur from Amy’s window. Past that was a brown river and a blue sky.

The camera didn’t show many more details, but from what I could see, I guessed that she might be driving some kind of sports car, that there weren’t any other cars on the road near her, and that she was driving very quickly.

“We’ll be in Grand Lake in another seven or eight hours,” she said. “Rod and Cassie are in Rod’s car. We’re going to try to meet near the Michigan border.”

HQ’s microphone system picked up my voice as I asked, “Why are you driving?”

Samita pointed the phone back at herself. “We called Reliquary’s FBI handler and he told us not to come. Maybe someone would have flown us up, but we didn’t want to get anybody in trouble.”

Amy added, “And we didn’t want them to know we were going. They kept on telling us that the North American Council was going to handle it.” As the camera pointed at her again, Amy frowned. “They have no idea what they’re dealing with. The past Bloodmaidens are nervous. The Thing That Eats is going to do something bad. They’ve seen it before when it was trapped in a city and they won’t tell me what.”

22 thoughts on “Share The Love: Part 10”

  1. “I wondered where that information was kept and who had access to it.
    That thought left my head as we left the lab.”
    I wish he would STOP doing that! First noticing something incredably importent and then dismissing it!

    By the way, something seems wrong here:
    “Her blonde hair hitting her shoulders, Sydney sat next to Camille, laughing as Camille talked a mile a minute.”
    Probably not wrong but kind of weird?
    Sorry in case I am wrong, not a native speaker.

      1. The original(?) that lennymaster quoted and your update are both correct English, though beginning a subordinate clause with a delayed-reference pronoun may be hard to parse.

        “Her b” in “Her blonde hair” appears to be bolded.

        Also, “I could from the similarity of their faces” no verb. 😉

  2. Either way, the Stapledon program had back on our first official weekend in the program.
    What? I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here.

    I bet it’ll start running around biting everyone. If everyone is connected to it, then they can’t sneak up on it. It can probably jump to anyone that it’s connected to, which means everyone is potentially a target and they can’t really toss a blood stone thing around.

  3. You might guess what the Thing is likely to do if cornered – ignore all attempts at concealment, and play to its strengths… Makes you wonder just what are the limits to its ability to consume stuff…

    Typos(s):

    “We’ve been talking, and the best tactics we’ve come up with” – missing close quotes, new paragraph, and then open quotes before this.

  4. Given how urgent it is to get Amy to help, I’m surprised they don’t pick her up in the team ship rather than wait 8 hours. None of them are magic, so presumably they can leave just fine, and the Wizardry Council wards might not be effective if they do a “fly to orbit, then back down”. (Or maybe they would. Hard to know.)

    Also, I think Travis is team leader, right? I recall they were cycling it around and then settled back on him.

    1. They don’t know what shape the wards prevent magic from entering or precisely how. It might be that it’s essentially a wall around Grand Lake. It might also be a dome or even a sphere. Either of those would be problematic if you’re riding in a non-magic jet and are a magical being and go through the wards at a high rate of speed.

      It might be an excellent way to execute wizards though.

  5. About the plan to switch who uses the wards, I thought Amy had to make them for each specific person which was what led to the conversation about Lee because he affected their souls so the wards were out of tune. Did I misunderstand that or is it a plot-hole? I get that it could be a mistake on the part of Travis but I’m worried about asking that one because of spoilers.

    1. She did end up tuning them to each person and it was made harder due to Lee’s influence. That may or may not mean it won’t work to trap people. As you’ve noticed, none of the people suggesting is actually someone who is knowledgeable about magic.

  6. Don’t you hate it when the voices in your head hide shit from you? Did Aang ever have this problem? (I always thought his past selves had their own idea of how to impart knowledge but I don’t believe they intentionally kept important crap from him?)

    1. Interesting question. I think there is such a great difference between the mechanics of how Amy’s & Aang’s predecessors exist in them that your question is borderline nonsensical though. Amy can’t literally become a past Maiden the way Aang can, through both the Avatar state and whatever Kyoshi did when she was on trial in that one episode.

      For both characters, the timelines are of such length that their language would have drifted so much that the earlier incarnations would be unintelligible to the modern ones, and vice versa. So there is some kind of inbuilt translation engine working here. That’s some fancy magic!

      So somehow all past bloodmaidens/avatars have access to language information, yet maintain agency over their personal knowledge and experience. I guess they kind of have to, otherwise Amy wouldn’t be Amy, but an amalgamation of all of them. Individuality wouldn’t be a thing anymor.

  7. “Haley had gathered much of the current Heroes’ League as she could.”

    Need an ‘as’ before ‘much’

    “Vaughn sat next to Travis, grinning a little as Camille talked, but staring down at his phone, and sometimes tapping on the screen.”

    The organization of this sentence seems odd. I would remove the ‘but’ or replace it with ‘while.’

    I’m curious if you made a conscious effort to use different sentence structures to avoid repetitiveness as you described what everyone was doing. With that many people being described in snips, I can definitely see the need to avoid structural repetitiveness.

  8. Why didn’t the Rocket and the International infiltration team just launch the Thing that Sucks (best name, easy) into the sun? Point the jet straight downhill, accelerate for a solid day or hour (whatever is appropriate for the jet’s thrust), then let it out the window? If interception is STILL a concern, use a warded torpedo with enough fuel to continue accelerating all the way down.

    WE now know that that might hasten the annihilation fleet, depending on whether it would phone home, and depending on how its master race would respond to a message saying “oops failed omg, in sun now lol”. But THEY didn’t know that then! I bet not even the Infinite Bloodmaiden(s) could really guess.

  9. “I couldn’t help but see the obvious”

    This line stands out to me as one that really encapsulates Nick’s personality. That wasn’t obvious to anyone except him, in fact it’s a glaring non-sequitur to anyone but Nick

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