In my HUD, Sean’s square started blinking. He wanted a private chat. Oh, great.
I let him talk anyway.
His voice came over the connection as a shout, or if it wasn’t a shout, it had the tone of one. “Are you trying to make me look bad?”
I muted him. Then, thinking better of it, I cut our connection entirely. There was no way that conversation could go anywhere useful.
Lim’s voice, still calm and collected, came over the Stapledon channel. “Then that’s it. We blow Stardock. Everyone retreat through the portal that will open next to Flame Legion. Rocket, Aurora Bees, Patriot Jr., and Izzy—you’re last. Also, Izzy, you need to pick a codename.”
I glanced over to where she hovered next to the building. She said, “I know.”
Continue reading Stardock: Part 17
“Your governments have not told you everything about their fight with the Abominators. They have captured alien artifacts, and they try to understand them, but there is knowledge that you are not yet ready for, knowledge that will cause even ‘friendly’ aliens to bombard your world until nothing lives.
“Surrender these artifacts to us and nothing will tie them to you. Make it easy for us to take them away, and we will reward you.
“I understand that not all of you realize that you are working on alien technology. I will make it easier. People at these locations are working with alien technology or working with people who do.”
Then he began to list addresses. Continue reading Stardock: Part 16
I’d noticed clouds forming since the fight started, and as I was about to press Theo on exactly how bad he felt, lightning erupted in front of the building.
Travis had told the glass cannons (mobile artillery, if you wanted to be formal) to help us, and now they were. I’d have taken help earlier, but Daniel was in the group, and he’d probably been responsible for the timing. That meant that this was probably the best possible moment, whatever I might think.
Thanks to my observation bots, I had three different perspectives available. All of them showed essentially the same scene.
As our group dived behind the old factory to get out of the machine race soldiers’ line of fire, the remaining robots split into two groups, some of them heading for the building that we’d started at, and the rest spreading out as they aimed for our building. No matter what direction we turned toward we’d be in some robot’s sights.
At least that’s the way it would have gone. Continue reading Stardock: Part 15
“Ghost,” Travis said, “get up there and observe. Let us know what you see.”
I made a mental note to shoot off a few of the observation roachbots when we got out from under the shield–which would be soon. Rachel faded out, her white costume turning transparent. The last I saw of her was an amused smile as she eyed Travis, reminding me of the Cheshire Cat–except that she wasn’t a cat, and I’d never been completely sure what Cheshire was.
It sounded like it ought to be a place, but why would anyone name a cat after a place in the UK when it lived in Wonderland?
Maybe it was Alice’s fault? I hadn’t read the book in a long time.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 14
I wanted to keep on listening to Haley, but became distracted by the scene in front of me. A long, basically rectangular object appeared above Stardock. I say “basically” rectangular because it was thinner at the front than the back. On the whole, it reminded me of a troop transport vehicle, or possibly of those D-day landing craft?
It didn’t seem to have much for weapons, just one turret near the back.
Of course, it didn’t need much when you considered the company it kept. Machine race warriors appeared next to it. I say “machine race warriors” because that’s still faster than referring to them as members of the “Shiny Searchers for Extra Value Meals Clan” or whatever it was.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 13
Daniel’s dad continued, “Guardian’s giving the asteroid a quick once over, checking if the asteroid’s anything more than a big rock. We’ve got a few ideas as to how we can handle it if it’s just a dinosaur killer, but we don’t want any surprises.”
I’d set the suit to monitor Stapledon communications and the Heroes League team channel for activity. There wasn’t much of anything going on between our team. Like me, they were likely all listening to the Defenders. The Heroes League channel showed a lot of activity between Haley and Kayla at first. After that, Camille, Sydney, Marcus, and Chris all came online.
Chris? That was cool. Haley was calling in everybody. If Grand Lake had an asteroid with its name on it, they’d have a decent chance of taking it out between the League jet, Camille’s anti-gravity powers, and Chris to think things through.
If the people who were guessing that the asteroids were a feint were correct, they’d need everyone they could get. Fighting the machines had been too close, and who knew what the Hrrrna were like?
I wished I was there. I wished I had time to pay attention to what they were saying.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 12
Lim continued, “We’ll be using the strategies and tactics we practiced yesterday, so you shouldn’t have had time to forget them yet. There will be one additional wrinkle. We’re already evacuating Stardock just like we are the rest of the city. That means that if we do decide to blow Stardock, we won’t be looking for you to evacuate the people below. We’ll need you to watch out for each other. Don’t leave anyone in your unit behind.”
He paused, looked us all over, and then, when we thought he’d finished, he said, “There’s one more thing. Stardock isn’t the only alien technology in New York City. We fought the Abominators in the 1970’s, and we collected everything we could find. I’m not going to tell you where it is, but none of you should be surprised to discover that we’re studying it, or that we’re doing our best to reverse engineer it. When you fight, you need to use tools that can do the job. Our own tools won’t, so we’re getting better tools.That’s why we may redirect a few of you if we have to blow Stardock. Don’t hesitate if we call you in. Trust me, it will be important.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 11
I wondered what Lim thought we’d even be able to do. Sure, Izzy might be able to redirect part of a planetary bombardment on her own, but she wouldn’t be able to handle all of it. She’d be kind of redundant to whatever Guardian and the various Defenders units were likely to manage. The ones that couldn’t fly in space had ships made at Stardock to work with.
With a slightly sick feeling, I wondered what Haley hoped to do. The jet might be able to destroy or redirect asteroids. For that matter, Camille could control gravity, and I didn’t know what her limits were. If she was anything like Sean, her half brother, she might be extremely powerful.
Lim’s voice broke through my thoughts. “Everyone! Now! I’ll brief you when you’re done.”
Continue reading Stardock: Part 10
With that debacle over, we went back to our dorm, changed out of costume and ate. I could write more about hanging out in our rooms that night, but there’s not really much to tell. Sunday morning allowed time for people who wanted to attend worship services to do so, and then we spent most of Sunday afternoon practicing first aid.
By five, we were all waiting in an airport somewhere near NYC. I hesitate to say a “secret” airport because it was clearly used, but it definitely wasn’t commonly used by passenger planes. I don’t think I saw any, but I couldn’t be sure because we rode there in a cargo truck with no windows–just seats in the back. The roof was made of a partially transparent, but not clear, plastic.
We unloaded the truck inside the hangar. I happened to look through the mirrored windows on the door as we waited for our plane to arrive. Even though it wasn’t snowing, it still wasn’t warm. A Fedex jet landed on the runway as I watched, but it didn’t taxi in our direction afterward. I decided that watching for our jet was probably more akin to waiting for a pot to boil than it ought to be, and considered finding someone to talk to.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 9
Whether I liked the people I was with or not, however, it was time to practice. Brain Gang ran us through multiple scenarios and exercises, and we were okay if not brilliant. They were all based on the assumption that we had to hold off invading aliens long enough to evacuate and blow up the base. In short, we’d already lost, and it was now a question of how we’d deal with it.
At least that was my take. Basically, it was Star Trek’s Kobayashi Maru exercise but with specific orders on how we were handle the problem.
So far as I could tell, our orders required us to die a lot, but at least we won most of the time–assuming your definition of winning didn’t necessarily include personal survival.
The last exercise didn’t even go that well.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 8