Targets: Part 2

Rachel stepped inside and shut the door. “Did you happen to hear what Ray planned to do?”

Daniel shook his head. “I just got impressions. I didn’t get a chance to root around.”

We talked a little longer, but then Rachel said, “I should go. I said I’d meet Chloe in ten minutes. Call me if something happens.”

Daniel looked from Haley to me, and said, “I’ll go too. I was just coming over to warn you. Tomorrow though, we need to come up with a plan.”

Part of me felt like we should be making a plan now, but I didn’t want to. Sitting someplace quiet and putting it off sounded better.

Except, of course, that procrastinating on dealing with the minor issue of someone who wanted to kill me seemed stupid at best.

So when Daniel and Rachel left, and Haley and I found ourselves sitting together on my bed, we didn’t instantly start to make out.

We sat next to each other. I put my arm around her, and she leaned into me.

We didn’t say anything.

I wondered what I was going to do, what the team was going to do, about all this. Did I have the right to put everyone in danger to protect me? Not to mention opening up the possibility that my family might be killed one by one.

Well, assuming Ray and his team had any idea who my family were, and I desperately hoped they didn’t.

Unfortunately, for Ray’s purposes, the team worked just as well.

Was it coincidental that Prime’s replacement had directed his people to go after Haley during the fight?

I doubted it.


I wondered that they would have done if they’ d caught her. Used her as hostage, or killed her immediately?

Judging from “the Executioner’s” record, I couldn’t make assumptions.

“Nick,” Haley said, “your heart’s beating faster. What are you thinking about?”

“Everything. Ray’s going after me, and because he’s going after me, he’s going after everybody.”

“I think you’re just an excuse. He’s really going after everyone, but he found someone who will pay to kill you.”

“Could be, but that’s not much better.”

“I know, ” Haley said. “Maybe we could all disappear? If he knew we left town, maybe he’d go.”

“But then if we came back, he’d come back.”

“I know, but if  we waited long enough, maybe Daniel’s dad and the Midwest Defenders and Isaac would be done fighting the aliens, and we’d get some help.”

“That might work. I worry that if they know who we are, Ray’s people might do something that we’d have to respond to — like killing our parents or friends or… I don’t know, something really bad.”

She turned her face and looked ahead, quiet for a moment.

“Maybe you should disappear for a little while.”


“To keep you safe. Didn’t you say your armor is in bad shape? How long will it be before it’s fixed?”

“I don’t know. More than a week, I bet. After those guys waled on the breastplate, I’ll be looking for broken connections for a while. I’ve been looking into a plan b.”

“I hope it’s not the stealth suit. Travis’ costume used the same material, and, well, you know.”

I knew. The suit’s material hardened to match the force hitting it, but it had its limits. I’d seen his costume on the way to the doctor. It had ripped.

“No, it’ll be better than that. I’m thinking Larry’s probably got a spare, and if not, well, I think that between Chris and Larry and I, we can put together something that could work.”

“I thought you had spares?”

“Not really. They’re all half broken or scavenged for parts, or too old to trust. I need to make spares.”

“Don’t skimp on the armor,” she said.

We stayed in my room, talking, and sometimes holding each other until midnight when she went home.

* * *

On Sunday, we didn’t have a team meeting. After a short (nine way) conversation on our League phones, we decided to post more roachbots around the city and hope they caught a familiar face.

They didn’t need me to do that, and so I arranged to meet Chris at the underground factory.

Larry’s spare armor had turned out to be too big (in height and width) for me to fit.

Chris and I sat at a desk in an office on the edge of the huge room. It felt unnervingly up to date. Chris had a CAD program running on what looked like a recent computer with a big, flat screen monitor.

Chris clicked a couple times, and a list with pictures of several different chassis appeared along the left side of the screen. “What do you think? We’ve got stuff from man-sized to mecha.”

“I can’t believe he systematized it like this. All my grandpa’s stuff was more… personal. After he was done with a design, he wanted to do new stuff.”

“I know,” Chris said. “It looks like Grandpa Cannon standardized a bunch of designs, and then he customized after that. From his notes, it looks like he could get a basic version up and running in a day.”

“That’s cool. Do any of them fly?”

“No. I think it scared him.”

I’d wanted to create something that could pass for a Rocket suit, but it didn’t sound likely. Inserting sonics would probably be too much trouble for the time we had. I needed something that would keep Prime’s people away from me.

“OK,” I said, “I don’t know for sure, but I’ll definitely need some really big guns.”

21 thoughts on “Targets: Part 2”

  1. While remembering how good Ray and his original crew were at collecting information on their targets, I can’t help but be worried about how they appear to have “inside” information, and too much of it. Being the trusting soul that I am, I don’t want to believe that any of the League or their closer associates might be responsible for passing on any of those details.

    Since Chris doesn’t have anything that really suits (ha!) Nick’s purpose, would they not be better off working together to construct from the Rocket’s own bits and pieces? Once they got on a roll, they’d knock it over in next-to-no-time.

    One minor thing on this chapter, “ripped” in relation to Travis’ suit just sounds too passive. Maybe torn, ruptured, or my favourite sheared?

    Still such a buzz every time a new chapter posts, so occasionally I feel it is time to say “Thanks a bunch” for doing what you do. It must be hard to fit it all in amongst the demands of a “real” life. :o)

  2. Pangoria: Thanks for the correction. I’m tend to remember the sound of a word better than the letters unfortunately…

    Jeff: Lee’s going to be around for a while…

    WA_side: Stylistic differences in how they worked make it much easier to construct something based on Man-Machine’s stuff than the Rocket’s. Nick’s grandfather worked on technology only for himself and could be very idiosyncratic in his choices of how to do things.

    Chris’ grandfather made and sold technology for other people so he standardized parts and worked on making things simple to assemble. That being said, there’s lots of customization that can be done using the basic version.

    That’s why even if it’s not exactly a Rocket suit, Nick’s better off using Chris’ stuff when there’s a time crunch.

    As for the thanks… I’m happy to do it. As much as I’m doing it for the readers, I’m doing it for myself.

  3. It occurs to me, talking about guns for Nick, is that what he really needs is some kind of weapon that will seriously incapacitate anyone from Prime’s crew, without obliterating them completely. We already know that theses guys can take have limbs cut off and eyeballs destroyed, without it killing them. So I’m thinking about something that will do that sort of damage in a localized area, and then follow up with something that blocks of seals the wound to slow the regeneration process. Imagine if Nick’s eye-poke had been followed with a spray of quick-hardening foam, or epoxy filled with buckshot, or even just hot glue. Any of these could fill up the sockets, and possibly prevent the eyeballs from regenerating until the sockets were cleared. The target would then have to either fight blind, or remove himself from the fight while he dug the material out of his face.


  4. As the saying goes, speak softly and carry a shoulder-mounted high-output nuclear-powered no-nonsense kick-ass over-compensating laser cannon.
    So what do we call the Rocket decked up in Man-Machine gear? Rocket-Machine or Man-Rocket?

  5. Mazzon, I think it’s gonna be a long, long time, till touch down brings him round again to find, he’s not the man they think he is at home, oh no no, he’s a Rocket-Man! Burning out his fuse up there alone…

    Time for the Rocket to play dress-up. I’d say he needs some heavy duty machine guns, maybe a minigun, a couple of lasers, flamethrower, missile launcher, grenade launcher, some mines, pink fuzzy dice, and a special comms jammer that plays Iron Maiden. Nothing says “Hey, I can’t communicate with my teammates, something could be wrong,” quite like the hellish screech of cursed fear from Number of the Beast. Or a song Iron Maiden should have covered, It’s Raining Men.

  6. Hmm, the definition of “whaled” (transivite verm) inlcudes “lash, thrash” and “too strike or hit vigorously”, which does sound like what you wanted to express.

    The most surprising think I learned from looking it up was the “first known use” date of 1790 — I had assumed this was modern slang.

    1. Scott: Thanks. I’ve “re-whaled” the sentence.

      Psycho Gecko: Now I’m imagining William Shatner’s version of the song…

      Psycho Gecko/Mazzon: Oddly enough “Rocketman” was the name of the original version of the main character’s codename.

  7. … that should have been “transitive verb”. I have no idea what a “transivite verm” is, and I don’t want to find out.

  8. Jim, we all think of the Shatner version of that song. But dangit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not an author!

    Not a doctor either, just couldn’t resist. The joke’s dead, Jim.

  9. I seem to recall Nick mentioning that Man-Machine’s armor was capable of higher energy output because the Rocket suit was designed for long term use behind enemy lines. And since it was designed along a modular design he probably already has multiple hard points on the suit for mounting various weapons. They should be able to mount a more utilitarian version of the guitar to the forearm or shoulder. Redundancy is a plus so mount two of ’em!

    If events ever cool down enough to let him stop and breathe, Nick should consider creating independent versions of some of the suit components like the sonics. “Okay everyone, this guy’s vulnerable to sound so everyone grab a sonic rifle on the way out!”

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