That was interesting, and not necessarily good. It wasn’t necessarily bad. It didn’t automatically mean Sean was planning to take out his fear and anxiety about his sister on me.
It didn’t mean he wasn’t either.
Vaughn saw him as Sean got closer. “Hey, he’s coming back–”
And then Sean was there, landing on the sidewalk with exactly the force required to stop, and not a bit more or less. I’d come to envy that. Sure, I’d worked out a landing command that did the same thing, but it wasn’t flexible. I needed to do manual landings a lot, and when I did, it was all too easy to drop a foot, or have to run a few steps before I could fully stop.
Despite the control he’d shown when landing, Sean slumped when he hit the ground.
Continue reading Glory: Part 5
I took the call, and Kayla’s voice came over the comm. “Rocket, Night Cat wanted me to tell you,” she said, and my stomach felt very tight, “that we won. We survived. She’ll call you herself in a little while. We saw you popping in on our channel and thought you might want to know.”
I let out a breath that I hadn’t realized I’d been holding. “Everyone’s okay, then?”
Kayla’s breath caught. “No. It was terrifying. Sydney’s in this clinic Night Cat knows about, and she’s hurt. She’s not the only one, but she got it the worst. They’re talking about moving her to the hospital.”
I thought about Haley. Having her friend get hurt while she was leading the team would be awful. I knew I shouldn’t assume that she’d been leading, but it had sounded like she was in charge.
Then I realized something else. I’d have to tell Sean what had happened to Sydney. I knew now, and this wasn’t the kind of thing you hid. Continue reading Glory: Part 4
“Redirecting?” I turned toward her and raised an eyebrow—which was completely hidden by my helmet.
“Pushing on the escape pod’s controls at exactly the right moment to keep him from going where he wanted to, and getting a message out to Lim. Lim called in one of the New York teams that didn’t get sent into space, and what do you know? One more captive alien.”
Rachel grinned below her white mask.
“Wow,” I said. “None of the aliens are supposed to be contacting us in the first place. The moment this gets out, the Hrrnna are in major trouble.”
Rachel shook her head. “Doubt it. My bet is they play the ‘we don’t know anything about that’ card, and pretend the Hrrnna here were acting on their own.”
Travis nodded. “That’s how it works.”
Continue reading Glory: Part 3
“Blue strained herself,” Jaclyn said, using the codename we’d used for her last time we’d gotten desperate for a codename.
Her current costume was actually a costume, and it did have some blue and yellow on it, but more black. It reminded me of Native American designs—which fit. She was at least partially Mexican, and a lot of them descended from native tribes.
“Whoa,” Vaughn said. “Her powers, you mean? She doesn’t look hurt.”
He landed near us. I felt the pull of the wind that kept him in the air stop.
Sean landed near him, and the Rocket suit didn’t miss a beat—no static, errors or anything. Either he was getting better at controlling himself, or the suit’s shielding worked like it was supposed to.
Continue reading Glory: Part 2
I felt Travis grab my arm as I stepped toward the door, and said, “Hang on!”
Jaclyn and Travis jumped with me as I gave the rockets fuel, and that was all for the best. The Rocket suit wasn’t meant to carry people. Sure, you could carry people. You could carry several people, but let’s put it this way—if a car were falling off a bridge, and I was the only chance for the people inside to survive… well… those people were likely to have a very short life.
This was bad for a whole lot of reasons, but mostly because it wasn’t at it’s best maneuvering while carrying three people, two from my right arm, one with my left. The right rockets had to compensate by putting out more force on that side just to keep us from listing to one side or the other.
This made all turns a little sluggish. If you hypothetically happened to be flying above the Hudson River while pieces of a spaceship fell from above, this was more than a little inconvenient.
The HUD said, [COLLISION ALERT].
Continue reading Glory: Part 1
Reminding myself that the Stapledon Program’s secrecy wasn’t really my problem, I decided to concentrate on what was my problem—Blue Sky Lab’s current projects.
Isaac Lim had asked me to find out what they were, and intentionally or not, Dr. Griffin hadn’t answered my question about that. I hadn’t asked as directly as I might. I could change that.
As I was about to ask, Jenny’s voice sounded inside my helmet. “Brooke’s sending the prisoners to their cells. Stand back.”
I turned my head toward where Izzy, Jaclyn, and Cassie stood over the prisoners. Jenny stood a short distance away, acting as Brooke’s eyes no doubt. I didn’t know what they planned to do about the prisoners’ powered armor, but that wasn’t my problem.
All the same, working armor would make it way too easy to escape, but no armor meant that communicable diseases could be passed along.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 26
Of course, if I stood there and worried about whether or not we’d lose, we probably would.
Instead I decided to help Izzy. Hiding among a new group of trees, I held out my arms and fired off a few more “killbots.” It seemed like a good enough name for bots that would cut through armor and then explode.
If I was honest with myself, they weren’t good for much else.
Well actually, they might be useful for mining–not that I was planning to do any.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 23
Fortunately for Dr. Griffin, most of the spray went to the soldier’s side, splattering everyone to his right.
Predictably, all the soldiers pointed their weapons at us, and began to fire back. Laser and plasma blasts shattered branches, started small fires, and with a thunderous crack destroyed the trunk of a tree.
It fell over.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 22
Given that someone in that building was making competent use of technology created by aliens more evil than the ones trying to provoke genocide on us, it was hard to imagine any kind of good news.
“What?” I asked.
“The office building is owned by Blue Sky Labs, a small company owned by Dr. Valerie Griffin, an electrical engineer by training, but a specialist in alien artifacts for the last five years.”
Lim didn’t take a breath, continuing with, “But that’s not the bad part. She’s got grants and investments from all over, ranging from businesses to the government. That’s not a surprise considering what she’s doing, but here’s the bad part. The last time I saw any lab studying alien artifacts that was this well funded, it turned out they were being funded by the Nine. They didn’t even know it.”
Seeing the alien ships hammering the building’s shield, I wondered if that meant that the Nine had their own version.
If so, I hoped it wasn’t portable.
Continue reading Stardock: Part 20
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