Mere Anarchy: Part 24

Aiming for the Hardwick Industries lab building, I half-expected that what was left of Protection Force’s team would be waiting in the air or on the roof.

They weren’t. I couldn’t see them anywhere.

Had they left or had they gone inside? I didn’t have time to find out. It was enough that we had to get in there and destroy the birthing chambers.

The fact that Cassie, her gun, and I agreed on what needed to happen next made me wonder if was doing the right thing as Cassie was much less cautious than I was and her gun was happy as long as it had something to burn.

Still, I couldn’t think of anything better. Despite guessing that similar thoughts had killed more people than could count, I steeled myself for whatever happened next and landed on the roof.

Before I could say anything or even hint what was needed, Cassie let go of me, pulled her sword from its scabbard and cut a hole in the roof.

“Done,” Cassie told me over the implant connection. “I left enough metal that it won’t fall in until you step on it.”

She had. The white painted metal held the triangle-shaped section up by a thread, or less metaphorically by three slivers of metal at the corners.

Knowing that there were times to enter carefully and times to blast through, I decided that this was time for the second kind of entrance. I stepped back and took two steps forward, turning my second step into a jump that was almost, but not quite, straight upward.

Between the height I got on my leap and the weight of the Rocket suit, I hit the precut spot with enough force that it came free with a short screech of metal tearing.

Though the lab building looked high enough for three or maybe four stories, it also had a high ceiling, so I hadn’t given the possibility that I’d hit a completely unknown level of the building much thought.

I should have because it was quite clear as I hit the floor that that was exactly what I’d found. Everywhere around me stood devices made of the bluish-green materials that the Abominators used. Of all sizes, the devices were a mix of elegant, rounded corners and gently swelling shapes combined with the jagged edges and torn open sides of devices that had been ripped out of wherever they’d been installed.

On my own, I couldn’t have named them without work, but with the Xiniti implant, I knew what they were. They weren’t the most exciting Abominator devices a person might find, but they were every bit as significant. Though the ability to alter humanity’s genetic code and in hours modify or create a person might be the highest priority, it wasn’t the only thing a colony of scientists needed.

They also needed life support. We (because Cassie jumped down after me) were looking at devices and systems used to keep buildings at the correct temperature, air mixture, pressure, and level of gravity that the Abominators needed. Along with them were devices to store, create, and modify food on an alien planet.

Along with them were spare parts and machines to make them. In short, boring stuff, but still vital if you wanted your scientists to survive while empowering an alien lifeform to subdue, enslave, and/or destroy your interstellar neighbors on your behalf.

None of this stuff was on the official list of objects that we were studying which meant that the government didn’t know we had it. That in turn meant that Higher Ground had acquired it privately. Bearing in mind that people were legally required to bring alien technology to government inspectors, I’d bet that none of these items officially existed.

If I’d prided myself on being some kind of expert on spying, it might have caused a small crisis of confidence. It was a big room to miss.

Cassie met my eye. “Are you ready or do you want to mess with the alien air conditioners?”

I barely got out, “Ready,” before she started slashing with her sword. Three slashes later, she stepped back.

I took a breath, deciding not to give myself time to think before going through. This time, I stomped on the middle of the triangle with my right foot and watched as it fell. Then I stepped into the hole, letting the Rocket suit slow my fall with the rockets.

They started firing on me as I fell through the hole, starting with bright, white beams of energy. My suit took the first two or three with minimal complaint—a few notifications about the repairs it was making.

The fourth shot hit a spot that had been hit a second before, causing a cascade of notifications about how it had passed the first layer of armor, damaging elements of the repair system that now had to be repaired.

I wasn’t hurt and nothing was in imminent danger of failing, but it wasn’t good news. If I gave the suit time, I’d be fine. Better than that, I gave the suit more fuel and shot down the room, barely below the ceiling.

This attracted a series of shots, one of which was tinged with purple.

16 thoughts on “Mere Anarchy: Part 24”

  1. “They weren’t the most exciting Xiniti devices a person might find,”
    Abominator not Xiniti?

  2. Oddly glad they didn’t trash the abominator life support gear. It might come in handy for learning how to make better such gear for humanity.

    1. Of course, the possibility of gravity control is huge for someone like The Rocket. If he can incorporate that into his suit, well, there are a LOT of possibilities.

      Hg

    1. Somehow I thought it would take you longer than this to finish the whole thing. I probably shouldn’t have, given that you read most of the first nine books over the weekend, but I did.

      1. Behold my superpower, I can read very quickly! My heroic backstory involves being a very shy kid who didnt talk to people for the entirety of elementary school and middle school and read through class instead of listening.

        Than four years of high school skipping lunch in my bid to read the entire schools library!

        If it wasn’t for my girlfriend in the later two years of high school, I probably wouldn’t have bothered talking to people until I went to college. Admittedly, by high school I hadn’t been shy so much as uninterested in people, but the effect is basically the same.

        My costume will include a mask shaped like an open book so I can have my nose buried in one all the time. The cape will have a little stick to hold it up against glare from the sun and a little light for reading at night.

        I shall fight the crime on humanity known as iliteracy with my trust sidekick, Bookmark Kid and his superpet, Dogear!

        1. Costume change suggestion. Leave the cape and add pockets to hold books. Add broad brimmed hat, with light in the brim for night reading. This way you cut back on glare and carry more books.

        2. That sounds a lot like my high school years, but I didn’t date anybody–though I did play a lot of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons with friends.

          These same friends recommended a lot of comic books that undoubtedly affect this story in ways I can’t even guess at. Lots of Chris Claremont era X-Men and New Mutants found their way into my head, for example.

          1. People would never let me play DnD because of my alarming tendency to try and make flesh golems from pretty much everything.

            I mean sure, I might lose control of one or two, but that’s why you have four or five. If you just keeping making more flesh golems you can use the new golems to fight the old ones!

            It’s like a pyramid scheme, but with necromancy!

            Well, that and my arguments that priests should always have abilities in line with a particular God, goddess, or pantheon. It always kind of bothered me how DnD, at least the rules I’ve seen anyway, rarely seemed to have much diversity in the priests when the lore behind it would imply that any two priests might be radically different.

            A priestess of Lloth and a priest of Lellune should not have similar powers! And a priest of Tempus would likely have radically different stats than either of the former!

            …sorry about the impromptu DnD rant.

            Just remember: if it can’t be solved with necromancy, it wasn’t really a problem to begin with. But that is a lie, because it can always be solved by necromancy.

          2. D&D is a very limited RPG in some ways. I’ve sometimes thought it should have less rules or more. Games where you can construct your character with points make more fine grained differences possible. Games with minimal rules also allow you to make characters closer to what you imagine.

            I can go on about game design for a while if given the opportunity.

  3. Thank you for the story! I caught up again unfortunatelly 🙁
    Not a critique of author but Nick:
    This whole operation was badly botched. Bad guys response time is much, much faster then good guys response time and they were cought with their pants down. On top of that Nick is constanly losing sight of his primary objective (the chamber). On top of that he has literal medic on his team yet procedes to remove his most vital piece on the board (the jet) for very little reason. Then again instead of packing the jet full of heroes he brings next to noone even though he had plenty of volunteers.
    I get it that Nick has extreme confidence in his combat abilities(rightly so), but his military command and strategy skills are lacking.
    What exactly was he trying to accomplish with his “stealth” mission? Even Vaugn was aware this was going to go south very fast.
    Bring the team, destroy the chamber, contain the nine mercenaries with team. Not that hard man. But Nick has to be Nick.. 🙂

    Anyways, thanks for the story man!

    1. I think thst is a little unfair to Nick as the mission he got from Lim was to spy and get info with as little hero/rocket involement as possible since Nick was acting undercover.
      And as Steph pointed out, Vaughn just assuming things would go wrong and not try to see if anyone coukd pick the lock is a bad attitude to have in these sorts of situations.
      And their foes had way more weapons and True ready than they were expecting.
      Not to mention phasing and teleporting tech that no knew they had.

    2. Except the birthing chamber is not Nick’s mission. Nick’s mission is to stop the True from wiping out humanity in his numbered version of reality. According to the only good source they have, it starts multiple ways and was finished differently in many. But they share a few common threads.
      So this is the St. Louis mission writ large. “We know it can fail. Figure out how to do it right.” and he is left trying to muddle through.
      He is not a seasoned military man. Long learned scholar. Or any other experienced decision maker. And given the choice he would neither be making those decisions nor be at the front on most of it.

      That he happens to be level headed and good at it when he can focuses is another story.

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