War: Part 10

I checked the the sky, searching it for Vaughn’s cloud.

It floated above the field, smaller than most clouds, and, it struck me, smaller than the last time I’d seen it.

Daniel hadn’t been joking about not being alone in the air. At least fifteen people flew toward the cloud, dark figures outlined against the moon and stars.

I couldn’t see details, but if Daniel and Vaughn were going to get any help, it would have to be from me. Rachel and Marcus could fly, but not very quickly.

“Do you have this?” I asked Jaclyn. Glancing past her toward the barn, I saw some of the people on the ground stirring. Blowing them across the lawn into the barn might break bones, but it wouldn’t be a finishing move for everybody.

“Go,” she said.

Leaving the scene of Lee’s fight, I gave the rocketpack fuel, and shot upward, feeling like I’d left my stomach back on the ground. My GPS pegged the origin of Daniel and Vaughn’s signals as off to the right of the cloud. I kept low, maybe twenty feet above the ground, until I got near them and then aimed upward, letting gravity stop me just a little short of their altitude.

Most of the people flying toward us wore black vests like the Cabal regulars on the ground, and none of them looked like gang members.

Daniel floated about ten feet from Vaughn, close enough to telekinetically shield him.

In my head, Daniel said, “Ranged weapons when I say so.”

Evidently we were out of range of Prime’s psi-blockers.

The flyers moved more slowly than I did, but they stayed in formation, spreading out into a crescent shape as they got closer.

About half of their people held guns, and started firing, most of their bullets vanishing into the darkness, but some were on target.

I got hit a few times, but the bullets bounced off the armor. Meanwhile, Daniel used his standard technique of combining telekinesis, and precognition to create small shields of telekinetic force that didn’t stop bullets so much as alter their path.

I thought it was a clever way to combine powers, but could only wonder how much more quickly he’d be tired.

Daniel didn’t say to go until they were twenty feet away from us.

Vaughn concentrated, and roaring winds came from either side of the group blowing them together. That stopped the gunfire.

I fired the sonics at them, creating a loud pitch within human hearing range. As people held their hands to their ears, Vaughn stopped with the wind, and started throwing lightning.

Three people fell instantly.

One of the people still flying had the presence of mind to spray some kind of liquid from his mouth, but Daniel had apparently anticipated it and blocked it before it had the chance to spread out.

Instants later, the would be sprayer flew sideways, slammed by invisible force, and fell from the air.

Before any of us had time to think, the few of them that were left came within striking distance. Vaughn blasted away with lightning, creating flashes of light, and loud thunder.

Not that it hurt my ears. The Rocket suit had very good filters against loud sounds, but Daniel flinched a couple times.

As they did all that, I punched people.

I must have run into all the tough people back on the ground because these guys didn’t take much more damage than a normal human being. I took out three or four within the space of a few seconds, and then Vaughn, Daniel, and I were alone in the air.

“I don’t think the fall killed anybody,” Daniel said. “I slowed them down.”

Vaughn said, “Should have let them fall. Jerks.”

He sounded tired.

“Really?” Daniel asked.

“Not really. I don’t want to kill anybody. I’ve made enough stupid mistakes for one life.”

The winds keeping him in the air blew a little less, and he dropped a few feet.

“Crap, I’m tired. Do you think they’re done?”

I looked over toward the barn. Prime and Lee were still at it. Jaclyn, Cassie, Marcus, and Rachel were facing off against the guy whose leg Cassie cut off, the huge guy that Daniel dropped through the roof of the barn, and all those who hadn’t run away or been taken out by Vaughn’s mini-windstorm.

“We’d better go down there,” Daniel said.

He sounded tired too.

“Maybe you guys should hide, or sit in Night Wolf’s car or something? I’ll go down. I’m not tired at all.”

And I wasn’t. I’d fought a few people, but the armor did most of the work. That or I was still feeling the adrenalin.

Daniel eyed Vaughn for a second and said, “Good idea. We’ll figure something out.”

I turned my attention to the ground. The guy whose leg Cassie cut off jumped twenty feet through the air, landing directly in front of Cassie.

She didn’t run. She clicked on the button that shrunk her staff, and drew her sword.

Meanwhile Jaclyn and Marcus traded blows with the huge, bald guy. Being dropped through the roof of the barn had done him depressingly little damage.

I gave the rocketpack more fuel, shot across the distance to land a few feet to the side of Cassie, and with an excellent view of the Lee/Prime fight.

Lee/Gaius had acquired a few more slashes and holes, and Prime, though he’d regenerated all the damage, didn’t seem as fast as he had earlier.

I don’t know whether it’s because he was tired or because the noise of the rockets distracted him, but either way, Lee cut off Prime’s head just after my boots touched the ground.

The head rolled across the grass and dirt, coming to a stop just a few feet in front of me.

You might wonder what a person thinks at a moment like that. The answer: nothing particularly profound.

For example, all I thought was, “Holy crap. Head.”

27 thoughts on “War: Part 10”

  1. That’s not a fatality, man, he’ll be back.
    I’m sure the sonics used to be more powerful than just noises, where’s the supersonic punches of air blowing people off their feet? Poor rocket, he’s missing his powers.
    Everytime you do it, I just love the “I just punched people” and variations. Nick is great.

  2. I think most of the nick haters are missing the fact that he took out a wall of people right at the start, kept knocking them down until the end, covered for his teammates pretty well AND barely broke a sweat.

    On the basketball scale, he was at or near MVP for both points and rebounds. Of course, the real MVP here is Lee/Gaius, but Nick was hardly a slouch.

    My suspicion is that it seems Nick was slacking because he’s in a team full of badasses being complete ass-kickers, instead of relying on him to carry the day.

    He couldn’t have done it himself; but he was hardly on the sidelines.

    Especially if you count the toys he made for the rest of the crew. But even taking those out of the picture, he was a goddamned force of nature. So, stop yer bitchen. k?

    Sorry Jim.

  3. Nick’s relative merits aside, I’ve always been in the cheering section for Vaughn myself. I’m frickin’ ecstatic over his character development. But at the end of the day, it’s the whole team that makes this campfire tale worth reading. All of ’em.

  4. P.S. the link in my tag to ‘webbishness.com’ was an experimental phase I was going through…. the mailing list was taken down until I sort out my priorities and direction. And I only left a few inbounds around the web, forgot this was one of them. So my apologies if anybody contacted me through it and nobody answered the bell… I may resume it in the future but for now it’s standing water. Again, sorry! I’ve changed my browser’s form autofill settings to remove the link for now.

  5. For better or for worse, I get where people are coming from when they feel like Nick played a relatively small role in this fight. While I don’t think that’s entirely true, it is true in this sense:

    Most of the time Nick’s the person making the most important choices, and a lot of the time, he’s alone while he’s doing it. There are reasons that I choose to do things that way, but the best one is simply that it increases tension.

    Sometimes though, he’s not the person making the most important decisions. This fight was one of those times. In some ways, Lee took over that role for this fight.

    I’m still not sure whether that completely worked or not, but it advances the plot in a way that couldn’t have happened otherwise.

    I’ll evaluate things and think about how successful I was when the whole section’s done.

  6. I have no complaints about Nick’s part in the story while he wasn’t the one making the most important decision he will ask the questions that we may not have thought of or just ask the questions we really want to know about. Like more Lee//Gaius’ past and the deal he made with the original Rocket.

    Playing in the background Princes of the Universes/ We are the Champions by Queen.

  7. Hmmm… the head is off, now we’ll see how much good that does. I say hack it up to smithereens and then let Vaughn and Rachel burn it up! Hopefully it’s not a Phoenix and can’t come back from ashes!

  8. Especially if you count the toys he made for the rest of the crew. But even taking those out of the picture, he was a goddamned force of nature. So, stop yer bitchen. k?


  9. Well Nick did save the flyiers, I am sure they could have handled it but they were pretty tired with Nick’s help. Without I don’t know if both of them would have made it.

    And yeah a head on the ground, maybe we should go for a field goal or just punt it.

  10. I didn’t have a problem with Nick’s reduced role in this story; per se. Of course, like most Legionnaires, I wanna see Nick kick the crap out of the biggest bad guy every week. But…I like the realism more.

    If Nick shows up and is automatically the biggest and baddest dude there is, then he becomes a Mary Sue. This causes all the other villains to look feeble, as well as the other Heroes Leaguers.That in turn, makes Nick look like a chump.

    It’s kinda like what started happening to Jack Bauer toward the end of 24’s run. Jack could punk any other CTU agent (or any other government agent) for that matter. And it seemed no terrorist could best him. So, it kinda lost the sizzle when Jack did tear-ass through hordes of bad guys. Cause we’ve been there and done that already.

    That’s why when Jim writes an ep like “Three” where Nick is very clearly the difference between life and death, it’s a big deal.

  11. Jeff: There will continue to be little hints about that for the rest of this story (where appropriate), but relatively soon after it ends, I’m going to write the story of how the original Rocket met Lee. It’ll be set during WW2, but it’ll have more in common with Hellboy than Band of Brothers.

    Hg: Is this the finish him from Karate Kid or Mortal Kombat?

    Regarding Prime’s Head: Maybe they could settle this by playing soccer with it?

    In General: Just for the record, I’m all for knowing even when people are experiencing doubts about where the story’s going. That helps. Even though I might not instantly go revise things, it makes me think about what I’m doing — which is good. That’s how I learn.

  12. Next up, Prime’s body needs to fall to the ground as Lee walks away. As it hits its back, it explodes, with Lee never even looking back at it just to show how cool he is. All the henchmen promptly flee.

    And during all of this, Kashmir by Led Zeppelin is playing.

  13. Don’t be too down on Nick. He personally knocked out 8 to 12 people and the sonic crowd suppression was invaluable for holding back a large force of the enemy while his teammates started on the remainder. The problem with being outnumbered is that anyone has the chance to get lucky, so the fewer that can try at once, the better your odds.

    In the super-powers game I play, the opponents are far more equivalent and we don’t get to try fights against a much larger, though mainly weaker force.

    Its taken me several days to get nearly caught up with the story. I’m glad I can start making a few comments.

  14. I’m pretty sure that, if I were in Nick’s armor right now, I’d have an irresistible urge to see how far I could punt Prime’s head.

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