Rivalry: Part 15

Sean didn’t have a chance, and I knew it even if he didn’t.

I gave the rocketpack thrust, and aimed myself at Jack. Unfortunately, that was harder than it sounds. When you’re fighting someone who can grab you with his mind, a force field or some other kind of energy, you’ve got a couple choices — charge straight for him so quickly that he doesn’t have time to think, or make a lot of unpredictable turns while moving at an outrageous speed.

Jack went with the latter option, making it hard for Sean to concentrate on him, and for me to grab him.

Jinking left just after he crossed the street, he flew over Man-machine’s neighbor’s house, leaving me to twist and aim in a new direction.

Meanwhile Chris took a couple shots at him with the laser.

Then Jack dipped downward between the houses, probably planning to stay next to the building, and shoot upward.

I opted to stay in the air, hovering above the house, guessing I might be able to move to protect Sean, or Chris.

As an idea, it panned out. As a plan, it left a little to be desired.

When Jack came up the side of the house, he was moving too quickly for me to do much of anything. I saw a blurred shape, flame, and then I saw him shoot straight toward Sean.

As he got closer to Sean, he slowed for a second, then twisted and shot off to the left, then turned right again and came around, aiming at Sean’s side.

If Sean did manage to affect Jack with his magnetic abilities, he wasn’t strong enough (or maybe he was too tired) to deflect him.

Jack wobbled for a movement as he flew toward Sean, but still closed the distance, brushing Sean in the chest with his fist, and knocking him backwards through the air.

I couldn’t tell whether or not Sean remained conscious, but aimed myself in his direction in case he began to fall.

As I did, two red beams cut through the night, both of them hitting Jack, but not taking him down.

I caught up to Jack before I got a good look at Sean, coming from below, and grabbing Jack’s shoulder.

Sean’s expression seemed a little dazed, but he didn’t seem to be falling.

Jack’s shoulder, on the other hand, offered up more possibilities than I’d expected.

Chris’ laser had burned through the armor’s outer layer, and I could see wires, connections, and metal. I stuck my hand into the hole, and pulled out everything I could — including fibers from the muscular systems underneath. The directional jets around his elbow gave a short blast and cut out.

That reminded me that just about any system could have been routed nearby. I shot a sonic blast into it because it couldn’t hurt.

A small popping noise rewarded me for my efforts.

Jack tried to twist away, but he didn’t use his right arm at all. The axe flopped next to his leg.

I stuck my hand into the hole again, this time taking a good handful of the outside plating, and pulled.

A big chunk of the plating protecting his neck, and upper back came away in my hand.

I threw it away, noting new pieces of the suit’s underlying systems had just become visible, and regretting that I wouldn’t have time to appreciate the nuances of how it worked.

Noticing a particularly well protected bunch of cables, I yanked them out.

The jets on his legs cut out and we began to fall.

I hung on to him, and used the rocketpack to slow our descent, bringing him to the ground on the lawn of one of Man-machine’s neighbors about five doors down.

We hit hard, but he hit harder. The force of the landing knocked me off his back.

Rolling, I hit a lamp — one of those fake gaslight street lamps that some people have next to the walk to their front door.

Jack hit the walk itself, cracking the concrete.

Despite that, he began to get up, pushing upward with his left hand while his right arm hung uselessly.

I heard a whirring noise, and Chris said, “Don’t move.”

He pointed his laser at Jack. Jack turned back to look for the voice, and nearly fell.

He never got to reply.

A force pulled him into the air and then slammed him —



Three times — into the street.

Metal started to peal off him like a snake shedding a skin, removing the outer layer of armor, leaving a mess of wires, plastic and metal surrounding a man.

With the helmet gone, I could see Jack Maniac’s real face — unshaven and plain looking. I’d never have noticed him on the street.

Once he had barely any armor left, Jack floated upward again, screaming.

When he got to twenty feet above the ground, Chris and I both started shouting upward at Sean, who hovered above the house next to us.

I couldn’t hear what Chris said. I drowned him out with the sonics as I shouted, “What do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m going to knock him out. You know he’d have done worse to you.”

13 thoughts on “Rivalry: Part 15”

  1. Peeling the entire armour off was a good idea but now we’re fast approaching the line between ‘good vigilante’ and ‘bad vigilante’. We shall see if Nick and Chris can talk Sean down…
    And after that comes a bigger issue: Just how pissed off is Chris and who will he blame?

  2. This is so awesome.

    I’ve been lazy and following the WFG list for updates on stories, and didn’t see this there, so I’m glad I checked at random on my own. Fantastic action.

    I really like how you include the collateral damage — these kids do a lot of wrecking.

  3. For me, it’s impossible not to do collateral damage. When you’re throwing people around, it’s inevitable. Also, it’s a great way to sneak description into a battle scene. No one wants to read about what kind of lawn ornaments people have or the kind of lawn maintenance they do, but it’s okay if it furthers the story.

    Also, my RSS feed tends to show up on Web Fiction Guide the next day.

  4. Now see, for once, I thought that Sean was actually useful in a crisis. In the pinch he managed to somewhat control Jack Maniac.

    Also, he seemed to actual bolster the efforts of Chris and Nick and they actually made a pretty-good three-man squad.

    Now let’s talk about Chris Cannon. That right there is a superhero.

  5. Perhaps Sean has better control over his powers than I’m giving him credit for, but you just do not telekinetically body-slam someone – a NORMAL someone, all things considered – into the pavement in the vague hope of ‘knocking them out.’

    There’s really a pretty fine line between KOing someone and inducing some good ol’ fashioned internal hemhorraging when you’re using blunt trauma. Piledriving someone into the pavement is not the place to experiment with that sort of thing.

  6. Ok Sean might get blasted by the Nick’s sonics at this rate. Time to save Jack from Sean now, then again Sean and Fiend might get along just fine.

  7. Well we have to remember that Sean is a) a kid, b) he’s not from a family of supers who guided him, c) an a–hole. No, I haven’t forgotten how he tried to screw with Nick, and 4) he’s a fresh out the box hero. Jim, has it even been a full four months since he acquired his powers??

    Although, Chris Cannon seems to have jumped right into the hero seat with ease. Weird.

  8. For Sean it’s more like a month — though he’s always known about the juice and his family’s history with Red Lightning.

    It’ll be interesting to watch both characters develop.

  9. Is there something wrong with me since I don’t have “that” much a problem w/ Sean using Jack as a human jackhammer.

    I mean, he makes a good point, Jack would’ve done FAR worse to Chris or Nick or….anyone else.

    I mean, I’m not rooting for him to kill the Maniac, but I’m just sayin’, I see where he’s coming from.

    Jack Maniac is a far bigger do–e than Sean. And a magnitude more dangerous.

  10. Sure, Bill, it’s easy to see where Sean’s coming from and it’s quite understandable. The only reason why it’s a big thing is because there’s a very character-defining line between vigilantes that kill people and those that don’t.
    Jack Maniac is a known serious villain, but he’s currently pretty much in check, so preventing the birth of a new villain gets a higher priority.

  11. @Mazzon: You’ve had a history of insightful comments on this site, but that one really made me stop and pause for a moment.

    It’s easy to forget that the line between hero who colors outside the lines, and villain with good publicity is a short one.

    I guess it is a testament to the verisimilitude of Jim’s writing that the line is so realistically thin that you can almost side with guys like Sean and Justice Fiend who, when you take a moment and think about it, are in some ways more dangerous than the bad guys.

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