Counterattack: Part 1

I don’t remember exactly who made the patrol schedule, but whoever it was never scheduled Haley and I on the same night.

I asked Cassie about it one night, and she’d said they tried to match people’s movement styles, like putting people who could fly together, for example. “And also,” she’d said, “We want you to patrol instead of making out in the car.”

That would have been completely unfair except that we actually had used Night Wolf’s car to get some privacy during the winter. We’d called it patrolling, but since we mostly stayed in the same place, it didn’t really count. To be fair though, the parking lot of Grand Lake’s beach, the access road to the city’s softball fields, and a number of spots around the city where a car could park unobtrusively had never been better protected.

On Thursday, a couple days after we’d fought the Cabal’s army, Travis ended up working unexpectedly instead of patrolling with Haley.

She called me, and we drove off in Night Wolf’s car.

Disappointingly, we actually did patrol, but it made for a nice break from repairing the Rocket suit.

I went in the stealth suit, complete with guitar, and I guessed that we’d end up driving around town.

I was wrong. Haley had other ideas.

“I’d like to try the grappling hooks.”

“There’s not much to try. You shoot them toward the top of a building, and they pull you up.”

“You know what I mean. You told me why you gave everyone two of them.”

“Well, that was kind of the dream, but I’m betting it’s more complicated than Spider-Man makes it look.”

“I want to try it. I think it would be a fun way to move around downtown.”

Just for the record, trying to swing from building to building in Grand Lake is not like trying to swing from building to building in New York City. At least from what I’d seen in movies, New York’s downtown buildings seemed to be at least five stories high, and a lot of them were higher. Not only that, but New York was a big city and had been a big city for a long time, so they had tall buildings all over.

At the time, they had 8 million people within the city limits.

Grand Lake was a second tier city. It had around a million, including the suburbs. Downtown had three or four blocks of office buildings that might qualify for swinging. North of downtown, the old factories, the university, and the area around the Morehouse Arena might also qualify, but the buildings became two or three story shops or houses fairly quickly past that.

It didn’t stop us from trying though.

So just a quick word about swinging between buildings. It’s a lot easier if your agility is better than human, and you’ve got some way to cling to walls. Bonus points if your senses are freakishly good.

All of which meant that Haley had an easier time of it than I did.

We parked the car near the arena, directly in front of Sid’s Tavern. Sid’s occupied the first floor of a five story building that had been refurbished to look like people imagined Victorian buildings had looked instead of how they actually were. Concrete gargoyles, and complex decorations had been added to the edges of the roof, the corners, and the front.

The arena didn’t have anything going that night, so Sid’s looked empty. Certainly the streets were.

Haley jumped into the air, landing with her right hand in the window frame, clawed feet grasping the bricks and molded concrete decorations below it. With her left hand, she pulled a grappling hook off of her utility belt.


I wasn’t. I wasn’t even sure how to start. I thought about hovering with the rocketpack, and swinging from there, but Haley must have seen my fingers twitch toward the buttons on the palm of my gauntlet.

“Hey, no cheating.”

I pulled both grappling hooks from my belt, pointed one at the fourth floor of Sid’s, and the other at the building across the street. Then I had both of the devices retract line until I hung above the street at approximately the same level as Haley.

After that we swung through the downtown streets, something made possible by the fact that the “grappling hooks” weren’t hooks and didn’t grapple. They were guns that shot out a long line with an adhesive tip. We could control whether it stuck or not, retract the line, or whatever.

I needed to come up with a better name.

Anyway, we swung through downtown, keeping at least fifty feet above traffic most of the time. On the whole, it felt somewhere between exhilarating and terrifying.

Haley stayed ahead of me, but that was okay.

We had a good hour of it between seven and eight. Avoiding getting the sun in our eyes made it a little more work, but it felt fun once I got the hang of it.

The police seemed to be amused. With the police headquarters downtown, it wasn’t much of a surprise that officers would notice, and comment on police band.

I don’t know if that’s how the sniper realized we were out there, or if someone had stationed people to watch the routes we usually patrolled, but whatever the case, they found us.

We were outside the main area of downtown, past the mix of modern and Victorian architecture and into the area near where we parked the car, an area that could be best described by “urban renewal” — converted factories and old shops. Some were empty and abandoned. Others were bars, quietly trendy clubs, and new restaurants.

I didn’t hear the shot. I didn’t even realize anything was wrong until Haley twisted in the air in front of me to avoid it, and then let out enough line to drop to the ground.

The stealth suit tensed at the impact of the bullets hitting my chest. I hoped they weren’t armor piercing rounds.

18 thoughts on “Counterattack: Part 1”

  1. Several shots, quite possibly not a very long range, and swinging is basically anticipatable even if not as easily as steady movement. So I’d figure a professional marksman should be able to do that no trouble.
    Now the question is, what kind of ammo would someone pack to go hunt for the Leaguers? I figure hollow points for Haley, Cassie and Travis to maximize tissue damage and keep them down, anything should do for Vaughn and Daniel, AP for Nick, no idea for Marcus and Jaclyn you just don’t bother firing at…
    Mmh, getting carried away again, sorry. Ignore.

  2. How to tell if you’ve been shot with AP rounds:

    Have you been shot? If no: You haven’t been shot with AP rounds.
    If yes: Is there a hole in your chest, fountaining blood, with accompanying horrendous pain? If no: you haven’t been shot with AP rounds.
    If yes: Are you wearing armor? If no: maybe you’ve been shot with AP rounds, maybe not. You should probably be more worried with receiving medical attention/making your peace with God, anyway. I mean, seriously dude, you have a gunshot wound. Knowing what kind of round it was won’t make much difference to you.
    If yes: you have been shot with armor piercing rounds, but… [see “If no” from second sentence on].

  3. That’s rather odd. Snipers, especially professional snipers, don’t use multiple shot weapons. They use single-shot, specially made long rifles, usually bolt-action, And they can pick off a head- sized target from over a mile away. More importantly it takes several seconds to reload and acquire their next target. And particularly in a situation like this, if they miss, they don’t try again and again, they get the heck out of dodge.

    Whoever this is, is probably not even remotely a pro.

  4. @RHJunior Not completely true. Police snipers in particular are often equipped with semi-automatic rifles to improve their ability to move to the next target in a crisis situation. The U.S. Army is also in the (very slow and phased) process of bringing in the semi-automatic M-110 as a replacement for the M-24 currently in use as a sniper rifle. The well-known Barrett M82 / M107 .50 cal is also a semi-automatic sniper rifle, used by the military as an anti-materiel sniper and in .50 cal shooting competitions.

    And who knows what standard sniper protocol for a superhuman target might be? 3 to 5 rounds might be the recommended procedure here.

    @Mazzon – For Jaclyn, subsonic hollow points from behind at long range.

  5. @Corwin In this case, 3-5 rounds rapid would be effectively impossible. The combination of the swinging motion and the alteration in that motion due to being hit would make it impossible to fire, recover from the recoil, fire again, recover from the recoil *again* and fire *again* in the space of a second, all while tracking Nick’s presumably erratic movements.

    Unless the sniper themself is superhuman, or there are multiple snipers, there’d be no way to land that many shots that quickly.

  6. Not really. There are “recoilless” weapons out there, but they aren’t, really. They just reduce recoil so rounds that would otherwise be entirely too big for practical use can be managed. Completely eliminating recoil is impossible.

  7. Actually, Wanderhome, physics suggests otherwise. Completely eliminating recoil is just a question of canceling out all of the vectors and waveforms with competing vectors and waveforms. (I’m saying “vectors and waveforms”, because I’m lumping the actual directed displacement of the weapon in reaction to the propulsion of the round together with the shockwave vibrations that can also affect the ability to keep the weapon in its pre-firing position. They both affect the ability to aim a second shot, so they both apply.)

    In fact, vibration cancellation is a well-understood engineering problem, resolved in a number ways, including active canceling waveform generation and both passive and active tuning techniques. If we can actively tune the position of wind turbine blades to reduce noise by 95% (which has been done in a soon-to-be production capacity), then we should be able to actively tune a weapon to cancel out recoil shockwaves in the weapon itself — especially if we know the parameters ahead of time.

    Vector cancellation is, of course, just providing a (set of) counter-reaction(s) to the “recoil” action. Again, if you can appropriately measure (or better yet, pre-calculate) the recoil vectors, you can generate counter-vectors in speeds that are effectively real-time with regards to human reaction times.

    And of course, there’s always passive recoil cancellation, in the form of inertia. If the gun is really really heavy (or anchored effectively to something that is, like the ground), the reaction force from the propelled round is not enough to cause any perceptible motion in the weapon. Of course, moving something that heavy to track a moving target requires far too much strength to make it practical — unless superhumans are involved, which they are.

    Which bring me to the idea of someone like Jaclyn acting as a sniper. She could use a fully-automatic weapon like a normal human uses a bolt-action rifle, adjusting to recoil in speeds that are faster than the fire rate of the weapon (and with the strength to pull that off).


  8. I could build a near-zero recoil gun tomorrow. It would fire as many bullets in exactly the wrong direction as it did in the right one, but it would be zero recoil. It might vibrate some, but as long as you don’t care where the other bullet goes and you’re not in its way…

  9. Comments on accuracy with recoil, etc. Metal Storm. YouTube it. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s wild gun technology, exists today, and it could easily explain multiple shots on a swinging target. It would also be dodgable by anyone who could dodge the first bullet, if you are talking about one of the models with a small number of barrels close together.

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