Where I was, I didn’t know for sure. I’d asked before, but she told me that I didn’t have words for it. My best metaphor so far was that it seemed to be Kee’s personal breakout room in ancient, eldritch social media.
She’d raised her eyebrow when I’d suggested it the first time and while she didn’t roll her eyes, it felt like she was nearly there. Anyway, I knew better so I didn’t push it. To me, it seemed more likely that it was her personal demiplane. I mean, if you’re basically a deity, why not create your own mini-universe for conversations that you’d prefer to keep private? Continue reading Never Go Home: Part 5
I did the only thing I could think of. I ordered the power interface to cut off the power, but on the off chance that the tablet had a bomb inside, I did it while running for the exit and shutting the door behind me.
Theoretically, given the size of the tablet, it might not be much of a bomb, but I knew what Cassie’s gun could do. I remembered the bodies of the frogmen on the roof of a building in Washington D.C. It hadn’t been pretty and if push came down to it, if I had to come up with a species most likely develop a golfball-sized hydrogen bomb (or worse), the Abominators would have been high on my list of candidates. Continue reading Never Go Home: Part 4
Knowing that Cassie was upstairs or at least in Grand Lake, I considered calling her. With her Abominator Citizen’s Mark, she registered to Abominator devices as an Abominator or at least as a servant authorized to use their stuff. Chances were better than average that she could have full control over the device.
Knowing that the Xiniti fought the Abominators and hacked into their technology, I asked my implant if it could connect to the device. It replied that it couldn’t sense any means to make contact.
That either meant that the device had hidden its communication systems or that they’d been damaged to the point that they no longer worked. Either way, I wasn’t getting much help from the implant. Continue reading Never Go Home: Part 3
I had options. The obvious ones were purely the product of normal physics—X-rays or my sonics to analyze the structure, shaving off bits and tests to understand the materials, and trying to operate it by touch, if I wanted to take that risk.
Armory had done it and it hadn’t been fatal—yet.
Of course, I was a special case, given my connection to the Artificers, and that they were the “gods” the device took its name from. Continue reading Never Go Home: Part 2
I woke up the next day in my own house and my own bed. I’d been living there since my junior year of college by that point so it felt normal to think of it as mine as opposed to my grandparents. I’d even decorated to a degree.
When we’d cleaned up the base below, we’d found a sign that hung in front of Grandpa’s business. It said, “Joe Vander Sloot, Consulting Engineer.” His name was on the first line and title on the second, both in gold letters against a black background. Knowing the Rocket suit’s colors, I’d wondered if it were a subtle nod to his alter ego, but it might be colors that fit the look of the business.
It might have been both, but it was five years late to ask him. Continue reading Never Go Home: Part 1
Yoselin nodded, “I do. This is bigger than Cuba and the United States. The Dominators and the Nine represent a threat to all nations and I don’t want to be at home wasting my time while you fight. I’ve known about them all of my life and this is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a lead on them. I want to follow it.”
Daniel and I looked at each other, making an instant telepathic connection. She means it, Daniel told me. I don’t know if she’s been modified by them in the past, but since I don’t see any hints of it, I’d be willing to take a chance on her.
Me too, I thought back. We should probably ask Cassie what she thinks. Continue reading Rematch: Part 22
Daniel nodded, “That’s what I was thinking too. It has to be them. The only question is whether someone hired them to do it or whether they’re doing it on their own. If no one’s hiring them, that’s worse.”
Yoselin turned around, “And why do you think that?”
I knew why, but he answered first, “Because if they did it themselves, they’ll care what happened, and I’m not sure we’re ready to go up against the Dominators. If the Nine hired them, the Nine might care, but they’ll have to hire the Dominators for them to care. We’ve gone up against the Nine successfully a couple of times now. We might be able to do it again.” Continue reading Rematch: Part 21
Free for some value of free—which in this case meant not fighting someone that could potentially kill me with a punch or, more likely, kill Kid Biohack.
I took a moment to orient myself. There’s no point in getting out only to fly into the path of a Mack truck. I’d come out on the side of the arena where I thought I would, a side with no obvious doors or windows except, of course, for the hole my bots blew in what would have otherwise passed for a wall. Continue reading Rematch: Part 20
The first time I’d ever fought him, I aimed the sonics directly at his ear, keeping them at a level designed to cause pain, but not trying to hurt him. I’d been trying to distract him from a couple of guys in a mini-van who were shooting video and got too close.
It had distracted him but hadn’t hurt him much.
This time I was going for more than a distraction. Kid Biohack wasn’t fighting rationally. He might die if he came back into the fight. If it was better to maim than to kill, I felt sure I could justify destroying the Grey Giant’s hearing and sense of balance if it kept Kid Biohack alive. Besides, if the Grey Giant’s weird, transforming grey goo body was anything like Marcus’, weird, transforming grey goo body, he’d fix himself turning back.
If destroying his sense of balance didn’t work, well, I still had killbots. Continue reading Rematch: Part 19
In a low voice, I asked, “You know this guy?”
Not even looking at me, he said, “You remember Shield? He was my cousin.”
Despite the name, Shield didn’t carry a shield. The idea was that he was everyone’s shield. He’d died in a fight with the Grey Giant when I was starting high school. Kid Biohack would have been starting college. I didn’t know how old Shield had been, but I had the feeling that he’d been just starting his career.
I opened my mouth to say I was sorry and maybe find a way to tactfully remind him that we were here to delay the Grey Giant, not kill him. I didn’t get the chance. Kid Biohack ran straight toward the Grey Giant, hitting his leg and knocking it out from under him. Continue reading Rematch: Part 18