War: Part 22

I leaned forward, and dove toward where Haley crouched on a branch. Prime’s people pulled rifles off their backs, and the short guy crouched, preparing to jump, aiming upward at her.

I maneuvered myself into an upright position, hovering a little below Haley and above Travis.

In the meantime, the short guy had left the ground.

Not much taller than Haley (who was around five feet), his physique could have doubled for a body builder’s — only smaller.

He flew over me, and landed in the tree.

Overbalanced by his weight, the branch dropped downward, dragging nearby branches with it, one of which hit the back of my helmet.

It didn’t hurt, but it distracted me long enough that I didn’t notice that Prime’s people had their guns out until they started firing.

A couple bullets hit my chest, knocking me backward into the branches.

I held up my left arm, and blanketed them with sound, a single, painfully loud note.

They stepped backward, but only stopped firing when Vaughn’s wind knocked them backward.

To my left, the man assigned to catch Haley dangled from a branch.

I pointed my left arm at him, and fired another blast of sound.

He dropped, still trying to grab branches as he fell.

Hitting the ground didn’t take him out, but it didn’t help him either.

His feet hit the ground, and more wind blew him over. I made a mental note to compliment Vaughn on his control when this was over. I barely felt the wind moving up where I was.

Taking my eyes off our opponents, I decided to check on Haley.

Sensibly, she’d already jumped from this tree to the next, and even as I saw her she ran up one branch, jumped and landed on a branch from the next tree down the line. Travis wasn’t far behind her.

Even as I thought we might be able to leave, I realized that one of Prime’s people had jumped for me.

I tried to press the button on my palm that would have sent me higher, but I couldn’t move quickly enough. The force knocked me backward into the tree.

I shut off the rockets with the tongue control, and we fell, hitting branches all the way down.

He hit more than I did.

Unfortunately, even hitting the ground didn’t do much to him. He grabbed my left arm, and kept on pounding me with his right, setting off error messages in my helmet.

Not to mention the fact that it hurt.

I tried to move my arm out of his hold except he would not let go. Worse, he managed to flip me over,  and sat on top of me, still keeping my left arm under his control and pointed away from his body.

They all knew about the non-working sonics in the right arm. They had to.


In the middle of that realization, I also got my first good look at the guy’s face. He had a bald head and a goatee. He looked like he was in his twenties, but given their regenerative powers, he could have been born in the middle ages.

“Let’s see how hard this is to break,” he said.

He pounded the middle of the Rocket suit’s chest plate, sending off even more error messages, many of which included words like “danger,” and “fatal error.”

Seeing those messages any other time might have caused me to freak out, but not that time because even as all those messages appeared, a couple disappeared — the error messages for the right arm’s sonics.

At that moment, I had a sudden realization. All the time I’d been working on things, I’d been assuming that my new arm had been the problem, and while I’d done some limited testing of some of the systems in the chest area, I hadn’t done much.

Sometime during the fight where the right arm got melted, the chest had to have gotten damaged too. It wasn’t the arm at all.

I may have laughed at that point.

The guy stared at me. “What the fuck is your problem?”


I almost asked him to do it again, except that was the best way to make sure that he wouldn’t, and I kind of wanted him to — assuming he didn’t crush my chest.

“Actually,” I said, “it tickled.”

Growling, he pounded the chest again, bringing up whole new error messages, some of which included the word “critical.”

In red.

That wasn’t good, but I’d had my fingers on the right arm sonics’ button. As his hand came down, my right arm pointed up at his head.

The sonics went off at maximum possible volume, rattling my armor.

He let go of my left hand, and I hit him again with more of the same — except the right hand sonics had stopped working again.

But that was okay, since I’d stopped trying to use them.

Instead, I used my right hand to poke him in the eyes as hard as I could manage.

While he shouted, I pushed out from under him, shot back into the air, and tried to figure out who to help.

15 thoughts on “War: Part 22”

  1. Nah, Jim hasn’t overused the ‘it gets worse’ trope too much so far. So it *might* get worse, but you can’t assume…

    I love the fact that Nick laughed about a equipment bug in the middle of combat. That’s just nifty characterization right there. Also: Confusion to the enemy!

  2. They stepped backward, but only stopped firing Vaughn’s wind knocked them backward.

    I think there’s a missing word in there. ‘When’ or ‘because’ seem appropriate.

  3. I leaned forward, and dove toward Haley’s tree. Prime’s people pulled rifles off their backs, and the short guy crouched, preparing to jump, aiming toward the tree.

    There’s two ‘tree’s in there, three if you count the tree in the last sentence of the chapter before this one. May want to make a little edit.

  4. @Eli James: You’re right. “Aiming toward the large, arboreal plant” would have been much better.

    @Jim Z: Seriously, the most exciting fight scene you have ever written. I think it’s because Nick is taking it so personally, and the characterization is so good.


  5. @Eli and HG and JZ — he could have leaned forward and dove toward’s Haley’s “perch”. Prime’s people pulled rifles off their backs and the short guy crouched, preparing to jump, aiming toward “her position.”

    There’s always a different way to say something — like being specific with the type of tree (maple, poplar, birch…) — but it wasn’t that distracting.

    The fight, however, was awesome because of the humanizing details for Nick — sometimes his descriptions are pretty objective and clinical, nice to see him have emotions for a change.

  6. Luke: Thanks. It’s fixed now.

    Eli/GS/Hg: Tree was overused. I knew it, but it was late enough that I didn’t think about it. I’ve changed it now. Hopefully it’s an improvement. We’ll see what I think when I look over it later.

    Jeff/Parahacker: I don’t know whether you’ll regard what happens next as “worse” or not…

  7. Well, if we’re going to overlook the forest for the trees, then

    “He flew over me, and landed in the tree.

    Overbalanced by his weight, the tree branch dropped downward, dragging nearby branches with it, one of which hit the back of my helmet.”

    Probably doesn’t need the word tree in front of branch.

    But the forest, ie the episode, was awesome. I can’t wait to see how well Nick manages to continue to hold onto his ability to think rationally if Haley gets in worse trouble.

  8. Nick needs to start carrying around a small nuke to hit guys like that with. Might not kill him, but should put him into the ground long enough to put him out of the fight.

    Worse, well if Ray has any big guns onsite it can. I hope they can get support in real quick or it will just get plain out messy. At least someone to cover the escape.

  9. I think this shows us, and maybe Nick, that even though he knows a lot about the theory behind this stuff, and how it is supposed to work, he’s still somewhat unfamiliar with the systems his grandpa put together. Along that train of thought, he might consider that it is finally time to build a suit of armor of his own, utilizing more up-to-date technology, like a paralysis device of his own worked into the sonics.

  10. For the record, I think of adding corrections in the comments my way of helping Jim catch bugs when he’s tired and/or getting LoN ready for print. I would recommend that more do the same, when you see something you think he should change – I believe it’ll make his job easier if and when he decides to publish!

    @Hg: go Google ‘word territory’.

  11. I agree with P-Gecko about building an upgraded version of the suit. Some things he could do include integrate the anti-sonics into his helmet as well as the electronics from his guitar. It’s always nice to have some lethal firepower for when you really need it and could create some interesting moral quandaries in the future about deciding to use it or not. Like when Haley’s being chased by multiple super-goons 🙂
    Seriously though, I think he could safely use the guitar on these guys. He’s already noted they can regrow limbs fairly rapidly which gives them regeneration nearly on a level with Wolverine (c).

  12. @Eli:

    Hmmmm, I know all about “word territory”, even if I’ve never actually encountered that phrase in that context. I actually tend to spend a fair bit of time thinking about it while I write.

    I actually was just having a bit of fun with the whole concept, pushing it in what was clearly the wrong direction to see what happened. I thought it was funny. Hopefully in that light, you can see “large, arboreal plant” as kinda funny too.

    And if not, oh well. I rarely tell jokes for anyone other than myself anymore. 😉


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