Three: Part 12

Thanks to having fallen face down in the stairwell, I could only listen to what happened next.

A voice, the same voice that had been in the video conversation with Raptor, said, “Surrender. We’ve captured all your friends.”

Alex must have, because the next thing I knew, people were picking me up and carrying me to an elevator.

When they put me down, I found myself lying next to Brooke, Carlos, and Jenny in an office. By office, I don’t mean a room large enough for a desk and a little more. I mean a room large enough for a desk plus table, chairs, and a bar in the corner.

My head lay facing the table. The bar lay on the other side.

I heard people opening a refrigerator and grabbing something off its shelves after they brought us in. It looked like bottled water. Presumably Syndicate L was organized crime as it would be if run by evil Yuppies.

I heard them pull Jenny and Brooke’s weapons off their belts. They pulled the guitar off my shoulder, but then they discovered the cable that led from the guitar to my helmet.

A big, curly-haired thug yanked on it. It didn’t come out, but he did manage to yank my head backward. The armor didn’t allow it to hurt me, but it still didn’t feel good.

Then he put his hands on my helmet and started feeling under my jaw for the release. He found it, but he’d never been instructed in the correct way to use it. The moment he moved the release the wrong way current traveled through his hand.

“The fucking helmet’s booby trapped!”

Then he followed the cable to where it connected to the back of the helmet, trying to unscrew it. That hurt him for exactly the same reason.

He kicked me in the head, but the stealth suit stiffened, holding the helmet in place. So, when he kicked me, the helmet didn’t move at all, and I, of course, didn’t feel it. For him, it probably felt like kicking a rock.

“Hey,” Alex said, “stop it!”

Another voice said, “Don’t get any closer, kid. Besides, your friend’s not the one getting hurt.”

The guy who’d kicked me cursed for a while after that, but he stopped trying to remove the helmet.

I heard him say, “This kid’s one freaking trap after another. I can’t get the guitar off him. Can’t take off the helmet. What do you want me to do?”

Another voice said, “He’ll be paralyzed for another half hour anyway, just like the rest of them. Don’t worry about it.”

It was a bit of a relief. If he’d kept on trying, he’d have activated the next level of defense.

They left us alone while they discussed something off to side of the room. I heard words like “camera,” “money,” and “payoff.”

I stared at the table, hoping the paralysis would wear off sooner than they thought it would. My mind kept on going back to the fight. What could I have done to take the guys in power armor completely out of the fight? Cutting their legs off rather than simply cutting through them would have done it, but it sounded too disturbing for me to want to try it.

One can’t be prepared for everything, but, something like the Executioner’s paralysis ray would be nice. I wondered who made them and if it was the same person who made the powered armor.

Then I felt something touch my side and suddenly felt Brooke’s mind in my head.

Me: You’re faking it?
Brooke: Or you’re imagining this.
Me: Right.
Brooke: Alex was the only one standing and I only had stun pistols. I thought it’d be better if we could take them by surprise.
Me: Hope you’re right. How’s Jenny?
Jenny: Still paralyzed.
Me: Carlos?
Jenny: I think they put him next to me.
Me: So what are we going to do?
Brooke: I managed to brush Alex when they were carrying me up the stairs. I told him to heal you two of the paralysis if he could. After that I’m out of ideas besides the obvious. If Jenny starts multiplying and starting things on fire, maybe she could grab a weapon while she’s at it.
Me: Worth a shot, but I’ve still got my weapons. They gave up after nearly getting electrocuted. They didn’t even try for my utility belt. As for weapons, if you had my guitar, could you multiply it?
Jenny: Is it under twenty pounds?
Me: Yes.
Jenny: I can take out a wall with it?
Me: Well, yeah, but not right now.
Jenny: ?
Brooke: ?
Me: The lasers use a lot of power and I’ve already used them a lot. You could use the light or sound to blind or deafen them or something. That being said if you really needed to take out a wall, there’s always the self-destruct. It’s on a different power source.
Jenny: Self-destruct?
Brooke: Why would you want to blow up your guitar?
Me: I never really intended to use it. It’s more of a concept weapon. So you know all those bands that smash their guitars or start them on fire? Well, with this you hit the guitar against something, it starts on fire, explodes, and annihilates everything in its path.
Jenny: Everything?
Me: Well, a tank for sure. In the original design, I made the bomb nuclear just for fun, but there were practical problems.
Jenny: Like surviving a nuclear explosion at ground zero?
Me: Yeah. That was one. Also, getting a hold of a breeder reactor sounded like such a hassle.
Brooke: It’s not nuclear now, is it?
Me: No, just a boring old shaped charge, but the way I did it seriously multiplies the generated force, believe me.

I found myself bathed in Jenny and Brooke’s mental relief.

Brooke: So here’s the plan: Jenny multiplies around us, blocking them from firing at us. You hand her the guitar and then she absorbs the first wave, generates a new armed wave, blinds everybody and we make for the stairway.
Me: No, she takes my utility belt too. It’s got a two grappling hooks. We’ll go down the side of the building and won’t have to worry about ambushes.
Jenny: Two grappling hooks, Nick? You can fly.
Me: Technically they’re not really grappling hooks. They’re gauss guns that fire reusable missiles with adhesive tips and attached lines, but basically, yeah, they’re grappling hooks.
Jenny: Two?
Me: It’s in case I ever need to do the Spider-man thing.

22 thoughts on “Three: Part 12”

  1. Thanks. I was happy about how this one came out in a couple different ways.

    One cool thing is that the grappling hooks (which are neither have hooks nor grapple) are just part of the new utility belt so everyone in the regular League is going to have them plus some other stuff.

  2. Jim,

    Seriously, I had my doubts after the chump way that Nick went down in the previous episode.

    But after this…my mouth is literally watering waiting for this plan to go into high gear.

    Also, dude, you write the best mental conversations. “You’re faking it”. – “Either that or you’re imagining this.”

    Thor is so right, Nick is clearly combining the characteristics of Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark and he’s going to be soooo mega-awesome.

    Oh, did anybody notice that when Alex was coming up with plans, things went from bad to worse, but the minute Nick takes over strategic planning, they come up with a plan that has win written all over it???

  3. Jim,

    I think I speak for my fellow Legionnaires when I say that I think your serial is of such a quality and is developing the kind of fanbase that you really should look into installing a tip jar on the site and selling ad space.

    (Note: I’ve coined the term “Legionnaires” because a cool serial like yours with a fanbase needs a name for its fans. I welcome other LON fans to submit their ideas for naming ourselves)

  4. I suspected that people might be a little disappointed with how that ended. Personally, I’ve often been annoyed when new superheroes start being consistently competent all the time. Thus, Nick makes the occasional big screw up when it fits.

    The cool thing is he’s also got his areas of competency…

    As for ads and tip jar. You’re right. It’s something I’ve been putting off because it means that I’ve got to pay actual attention to modifying the blog’s template or something else along those lines. As a web developer, I’m comfortable with the idea, but I also know that I might go farther than that and start changing the whole design instead of writing… That’s why I’m hesitant.

    That being said, assume that it’ll happen. I’ve been checking out my options for how to do it with minimum work (and thus, minimum temptation to redesign everything).

  5. Once again I’m astounded by your writing and storytelling. I absolutely love reading the updates and look forward to this story more than any of the other online serials I read. And the inclusion of adult content (I use this term broadly to include adult themes, not sexual content) and relationships without the story devolving into a soap opera about the characters’ sex lives is much appreciated! It’s not that I pale at the thought of erotica, but it so often seems forced and redundant!

    Anyway, I wanted to let you know that I’m very much in favor of a donation link, as I’ve long been interested in doing what I can to make sure this continues being fun and fulfilling for you as an author. And for anyone interested in helping Jim along, try surfing over to webfictionguide.com, registering and reviewing his story. It should help get the word out about what a great thing he’s got going!

  6. Hey. I don’t comment that often but I wanted to give my two cents about this one. Nick is such an engineer. He has triple and quadruple redundancies everywhere. I really enjoyed that. 🙂 Also loved the first posters comment. What would you call that, Iron Batman? Wait. Oh, oh crap. I think I just started a lame crossover in a parralel universe. XD

  7. This seems like a good time to tell a couple of engineering jokes.

    How many engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Just one, but he needs 30 million dollars to redesign the sockets and prototype the new bulb he designed.

    An optimist looks at pint of partially drunken beer and says it’s half full. A pessimist says it’s half empty. An engineer says there is a half-pint of beer and the glass is operating with at 50% capacity, and by the way could use a few modifications to improve efficiency. A superhero engineer adds a nuclear powered cloaking device to keep anyone from trying to steal his beer.

  8. Aurelio: Thanks for the comments and the review. I saw it at Web Fiction Guide a couple days ago. As for sex… I’ve never ruled it out, but it’ll only ever show up “on screen” if there’s a really good reason.

    As for the tip jar, it’ll appear…

    Thomas: You know, I’d probably read that crossover (several years later through our local library which has a better collection of comics than I’d expect).

    Corwin: We’ll just have to imagine the rimshot after each of the jokes.

  9. @corwin OH MY GOD THAT IS SO TRUE!!

    I work at a company full of engineers and fixit men. The bathroom lightbulb (fluorescent) has gone unfixed for MONTHS now, and it looks as though the trend will continue unabated. One of them brought in a frikkin DESK LAMP for it instead.


    So, I mean this in the most literal and aggravated way possible, HOW MANY DAMNED ENGINEERS DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A STUPID LIGHT BULB??!?

  10. I should add that I got the ‘Well, we need to replace X, and also this thing over here should be installed, plus it’s not as power efficient as it could be and it’ll just burn out again in 6 months or so…’ speech. So, you know, to all the engineers out there, shut up and change the goddamned light bulb please?

  11. Jim,

    I mean to ask you, is Nick’s superpower simply a near-genius engineering ability…or his power a more general heightened aptitude for analytical problem solving?

    In other words, is Nick simply able to turn duct tape, a paper clip, a basketball, and some Pepsi into a bomb….or can he also tell you where you should place the bomb, at what time of day, and facing the prevailing winds in such a way so that it will level the building in 30 seconds rather than a full minute?

  12. Slight edit for an extra word:
    “It’s got a two grappling hooks.”

    Should be:
    “It’s got two grappling hooks.”

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