Three: Part 10

Four of them came through the door. They wore black, powered armor and helmets with wide, transparent facemasks. The armor made me think of police riot gear except riot gear generally included padding. This armor appeared be hard from top to bottom.

An automatic rifle hung under the right arm. Another weapon hung under the left. It reminded me of the Executioner’s paralysis gun.

In design, the armor didn’t obviously descend from either of the Rocket suit or Man-machine’s armor. Grandpa had designed the Rocket suit to fit closely over the wearer’s body and amplify the person’s strength. With the exception of the rocketpack’s fuel, he’d avoided external power sources, preferring batteries that recharged off of the user’s movement. Man-machine’s armor tended to be big enough to sit in and powered by massive batteries.

This armor appeared to be close fitting, but the large hump on the back seemed likely to be a power source. I wondered who had designed it.

Whoever it was was mass producing it and selling it to organized crime. Was it just Syndicate L or did they sell it more generally?

Whichever it was, I found myself wishing I had the full Rocket suit on.

Near me, Brooke said, “Everybody, plan B.” She still sounded tired.

Alex gave her a look.

Several Jennys began firing at the armored men with Defenders stun pistols. Beam after beam hit, but none of the men went down.

One of the men aimed his left arm, the one with the paralysis ray at the line of Jennys. They fell over and then instantly disappeared. More appeared next to the Jennys that were still standing.

This time though, instead of using guns, ten foot long streams of bluish-white flame extended from Jenny’s hands.

I didn’t know if they were actually vulnerable to fire, but the men in the powered armor backed up. Dangerous or not, flame is intimidating.

At least, I was intimidated — more so when I noticed that the carpet in front of Syndicate L’s men had caught on fire.

As they backed towards the door, I moved my hand down the neck of the guitar to the most powerful pulse laser setting, pushed the button and started firing at the ceiling above them.

It worked as planned.

Chunks of concrete fell down from the ceiling on top of them. I kept on firing, flicking the lever much faster than I normally could. Actually, my aim was better too. Not that my aim was ever that bad, but it felt like I couldn’t miss.

Within seconds, I’d made a hole in the ceiling and covered them in rubble.

Light fell through from the room above — which was good because the blasts had taken out the lights of the room we were in.

“That was freaking cool,” Alex said. “I want one.”

“My dad could make one,” Carlos said.

Jenny laughed.

“Rocket,” Brooke said, “We need another hole. Now.”

She sounded an awful lot like her father, but she had a point. The pile of armored thugs and concrete rubble had blocked the door.

“Right,” I said, and aimed the guitar’s neck at a piece of wall just a bit down from the door and opened up on it, blowing out a ragged hole ten feet wide. It wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination a neat hole, but it was wide enough for the five of us.

We ran through, hearing pieces of concrete settle and fall as we stepped into the hall.

I worried for a moment that I’d managed to take out a load bearing wall, but then it occurred to me that it was probably the guys in armor beginning to dig themselves out.

Not that that was exactly good news.

Unlike the room, the hall’s lights still worked. Like the room, the hall appeared to be a bunker decorated in the style of an office building — concrete walls painted beige and dark, brown, carpeted floors.

The fire alarm went on and water started spraying down at us from the ceiling.

“Now which direction do we go?” Jenny asked. More Jennys came out of hole in the wall after us.

I opened up a pouch on my utility belt, then pulled the roachbot controller from the spot next to it. Activating the bots, I sent them down the hall in both directions.

They swarmed out of the pouch, flying next to the ceiling to avoid being hit by the water.

Carlos watched me with a level of fascination that only kids manage to achieve — completely unselfconsciously walking up to me and almost blocking my view of the controller with his head.

“Can I hold it? I can do… a lot of different things with it.”

I gave it to him. I had a feeling I’d need both hands free for a while anyway.

“Hey,” Carlos said, “They found some stairs, but look at all those people…”

In the controller’s screen I could see a blurry picture of a stairwell filled with people wearing bulletproof vests and carrying automatic rifles.

“Is there another stairway?” Brooke leaned over Carlos head to view the controller.

“No,” Carlos said. “The swarm that went in the other direction hasn’t found anything.”

Alex took a step forward. “C’mon. Let’s go. Better to fight those guys than wait around for the armored dudes to get out from under the concrete.”

The thumping and crashing of falling concrete came from inside the room. A voice said, “Watch it, Dave. Half that shit fell on me.”

“Sorry.”

More crashing came from inside and then the clang of metal boots hitting the floor.

“What the fuck, man? Don’t you listen?”

We all looked at each other.

Brooke said, “Jenny, can some of you take the rear and hold them off and then send some of you ahead? The rest of us will follow them to the stairs.”

“I’ll go in front.” Alex said.

Brooke grabbed Carlos’ left hand, “You’re coming with me, and Rocket and Flame Legion take the rear.”

We started to run — Jenny’s duplicates both ahead and behind us.

“Too much more of this,” Jenny said, “and even with Alex giving off that healing field around himself, I’m still going to be too tired to do anything.”

“I know,” I said. “If those armored guys catch up to us again, I’m going to have to choose between knocking out the ceiling, or directing the laser at them and killing them outright.”

14 thoughts on “Three: Part 10”

  1. Huh. Flame blasts as well as multiplicity. Flame Legion’s a dumb name. With powers like that, she should call herself Conflagration.

    Oh yeah, and is Alex actually going to do anything besides get his friends in trouble? Does he have any powers aside from “make people feel so good they think that stupid things are a good idea”?

    Hg

  2. It seems so far that the Three is pretty much lacking any ability to deal with hard targets. Unless Alex packs something much more martial than the healing we just haven’t seen yet, it doesn’t seem like a workable superhero team as is.

  3. Hg: I’m pretty sure that Conflagration was taken… All the good ones are.

    As for Alex’ powers: Yes. He does. It’s pretty subtle actually and there was one example of it in this post already. Next post, it’ll become a little less subtle (or maybe in the post after that. It depends on how things come out.).

    Charles: Nick mostly carries it around when he’s using the stealth suit in order to make up for just how much weaker and more vulnerable he is. It’s got its good points.

    Bill: It does thicken, and leaves them ever so slightly more screwed over than they were in the last post…

    Mazzon: Alex does actually have more martial potential than we’ve seen so far, and when Brooke’s powers aren’t being blocked she’s got the potential to make people disappear and reappear someplace inconvenient (like a height or jail cell). That being said, they do have some definite weaknesses.

  4. I think Three would be a really cool superhero team, I mean the three (four) of them have so far managed to evade an advanced team of supervillains.

    The problem is that they don’t think like a superhero team; and they’re all guilty of this. Not just Alex, but I, like Charles, do agree, he only seems to excel at dumb ideas that get folks in trouble.

    Nick and his crew’s problem is that they’re too new, but they actually think before going into battle which is why they have a far better record than Alex’s chump team.

  5. Talk about rocking the house down… I couldn’t help it.

    Well here is to hoping that they have better luck getting out down the stairs. Those armored guys are pretty tough.

  6. I was thinking they could punch holes in the ceiling until they can fly out, but I’m pretty sure only Alex and Nick can fly? It might be hard to get the others out, but then, it might be easier than fighting an armoured gang.

  7. Gavin: Only Nick can fly, and the way things are going, they’ll have to defeat someone to have time to go through the ceiling. Still it’s a good thought. I intended to include why they weren’t trying that, but it never quite fit into the narrative.

    Also, they may well get a chance to take a shot at it…

  8. hi
    I dont realy know if you still want corrections (in early chapters) but

    “I’m still going to be too tired do anything”
    is missing a “to”
    –>”I’m still going to be too tired “to” do anything”

  9. Okay then. “appeared be hard” -> appeared TO be hard. (Missed 2 tos?) Though maybe you’re less keen on corrections now that the ebook is out.
    In retrospect, a trap was obvious. But guilt and a feeling of helplessness are powerful motivators.

  10. Y’know, for some reason, the subtle little impossibilities like the thermodynamics violation inherent in Rocket’s armor recharging the power it uses to amplify the user’s movements off the very movements it’s amplifying bother me more than the big blatant stuff like heaps of extra Jennys appearing from nowhere with persistent copies of gear.

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