Targets: Part 11

“I’ll pass that on,” Daniel said, his voice flat.

“Then that covers it. Get the Rocket over–” He stopped. “What?”

A woman’s voice said something unintelligible.

“I’d never have thought they had it in them.” Ray’s voice sounded distant, as if he wasn’t talking into the receiver.

“Congratulations. You’ve put the fear of God into my allies, but it won’t change anything. Be at Fulton and Sykes.You’ve got less than an hour now.”

He hung up the phone.

Jaclyn eyed Daniel. “What was that last part about? Did I miss something?”

“No idea,” Daniel said.

My League communicator rang, and I clicked it on. Ghost, Rachel’s code name stood out against a blinking yellow background.

How had I failed to notice that she wasn’t with us? I had, kind of, but when someone who turns invisible disappears you take it less seriously than normal.

“Rocket.” She sounded tired. “I stayed behind to make sure they didn’t dig after us.”

“Wow. Are they?” I looked toward the hangar where the tunnel to the office opened.

“Not now. I stopped them.”

“That’s great.” Thinking about the tone of her voice, I said, “Right?”

“No. Remember when Justice Fiend had you, and I moved the barrel of the gun inside his head? I had to pull the trigger this time.”

“You shot someone in the head?”

Next to me, Haley put her hand over her mouth.

“Don’t make this worse than it is. I shot him in the arm, but the gun was loaded with the explosive bullets. They got caught in the middle of it, but they woke up, and one of them noticed where the tunnel caved in. I told him to leave it alone or I’d phase the gun through his skin and shoot him. They all laughed, and I pulled the trigger. His skin bulged like a balloon, and his hand blew up. I could see pieces–”

She took a breath. “I’m not going to say more about that. He stopped moving, and the rest of them took him away. I might have killed him.”

“Could be,” I said. “An explosive bullet inside a body… That could make quite a blast.”

“I know. You’re not making me feel better about it.”

“Sorry. It’s just… Wow.”

“How are things in HQ?”

“Well, we’ve got Night Wolf, Night Cat, and the Mystic plus everyone from the office, but we’re waiting on everyone else. And Ray called.”

“Now what?”

“I have to go meet him or he’ll kill Justice Fist’s parents, plus some of the League’s parents. Including ours.”

She didn’t say anything for a little while. Then, “I didn’t know this could get worse. Give me a minute. I’m going to hurry.”

The communicator flashed “Connection Closed,” and the light winked out.

“She’s got a way to kill them?” Sean asked. “Kick ass. I thought those guys were unstoppable.”

He’d walked up behind Haley and my chairs while I was talking with Rachel. Haley barely moved, but her foot trembled.

I guessed she might be instants from monstering out.

“I say we follow the Rocket here, and then when Ray doesn’t expect it, we take him out.”

I meanwhile was trying to figure out why he wasn’t saying anything at all about Haley or I. Ray had pretty much blown our secret identities, and given our history, it seemed impossible that he’d handle it that calmly.

Daniel: He doesn’t know.
Me: You erased it from his memory?
Daniel: No. I made him miss the connection. Him and everyone else.
Me: That’s really cool.
Daniel: It’s not going to last. If they stick around long enough, it’ll be impossible for me to keep it up without some major mental surgery, and I’m not going to do that. Sydney and Sean will know Haley’s voice instantly, and Sean also recognizes Travis’s voice. We can’t plan anything with them here. Plus what happens with Lucas when Vaughn arrives? Lucas inherited Red Lightning’s resistance to telepathy too.

Me: Rachel’s right. This just gets worse.
Daniel: I know. I think we’re going to have to lay all our cards on the table, tell them who we are and get it over with. Maybe do what we did with Kayla.

Me: Do we have time for that? I know I don’t. Not if I want to get there before Ray starts executing people.
Daniel: We don’t, but having Sean figure something like that out in the middle of dealing with Ray could be just as bad.
Me: Maybe you could wait till after I leave then?
Daniel: Are you planning to hand yourself over to Ray?
Me: I don’t see that I’ve got much of a choice.

Daniel: Nick, no one hires a guy called the Executioner to talk with people. Ray’s going to kill you.
Me: Lee’s coming soon, and my death is one of those things he’s supposed to prevent. If Rachel comes with me, we’ll at least stop them from killing Haley’s parents, and we might even find out where they are.
Daniel: If you’re lucky.
Me: I don’t think we’ve got another option.

18 thoughts on “Targets: Part 11”

  1. Lets be honest. Ray always delivers, or at least tries.

    I think that, now that they know they can die, they’re going to be less brave in battle

  2. YES. I want her to phase through everyone and kill EVERYBODY.

    And then she goes crazy, and turns into a super-villioness, and then the Legion will have to kill her. But ahh well. *dreams*

  3. Can Rachel phase bigger objects by holding on to them?

    If she can keep a low profile by hiding in the floor and keeping a hand on Nick’s foot or ankle, she could phase him out if there is trouble. That assumes that she can phase other people, though.

    Also, I would like to point out Sean being an ass again. He’s enthusiastic about the prospect of killing. Most people kill when trained to or when the circumstances are bad enough. Here, he seems to think of it casually as just another option if the bad guys get too tough. I don’t think he’s a psychopath, just that he’s naively considering killing someone without thinking what that really means. He’s supposed to be the one who let his identity be public because he felt the heroes should be more accountable. The League, on the other hand, has been inching towards the cusp of having to confront whether or not to kill and they have a more mature approach about what that entails.

    It’s the classic conflict over whether or not to kill that superheroes tend to face.

  4. Rachel’s got a hard limit in terms of mass and distance from her body that she can phase out. It doesn’t include people (unless they can shrink both their body and their mass).

    Thus bullets and guns fit within the limit, but bullets cease being covered once they leave the gun.

  5. Well, Jim, I thinks it’s time to change your update schedule again. Don’t you think you ought to post updates on Fridays and Mondays? Specifically, don’t you think you ought to post an update tomorrow! 😉

  6. I wish.

    The funny thing is, I’ve often thought that the ideal would be that I do 3 updates a week–M/W/F. Trouble is, I’m at the upper limit of what I can happily produce right now. I’d have to do three shorter updates with less words which doesn’t quite do the job of actually moving the story forward faster…

  7. One of my favourite characters from X-men was Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat, and I always felt like most writers didn’t use her to her full potential — on occasion Alan Davis and Chris Claremont would do a kick ass story, but that was about it. Being able to walk through walls, avoid damage, and put your hand inside someone’s brain can make you one tough ninja — I love that Rachel is the only person right now who can take the big heavies. It’s cool that they’re invulnerable on the OUTSIDE — nobody ever thinks of the inside. Sweet.

  8. Man Nick dodged the bullet but barely.
    I hope he goes and see the executioner in the revamped rocket suit a’la “Man of War” style.

  9. Has anyone here read Dave van Domelen’s Academy of Superheroes stories? ( There’s a scene with a guy who’s invulnerable but can still feel all the pain that would have been caused by the attack, and a woman who can become intangible. She takes some kind of nasty nuclear grenade, and shoves it through him and into his stomach cavity, and then releases it. He survives, of course, but the explosion vapourizes the contents of his guts, and the entire force of the explosion is channeled through his intestinal tract. (And yes, it comes out both ends, plus his ears and tear ducts, since those are also connected via the sinus cavity.) I don’t suggest trying too hard to imagine the pain. My favourite touch, though, is that afterward, he has to consume live cultures to replace the friendly bacteria in his gut that were (literally) blown away.

    Oh, and then there was the New Universe (remember that) issue where a guy named Captain Brooklyn, who has invulnerable skin, gets a grenade stuffed into his mouth. All that’s left after it goes off is the skin and the costume he was wearing, flopped on the ground like a discarded wetsuit. Nice.


  10. Re Jim: My mom would say I just need to learn patience! BTW, if numbers of comments mean anything, these are great episodes.

    Re IC: Better yet, let Nick go as Nick and let Sean wear the rocket suit… the defective rocket suit. OK, I’ll be nice and let Rachel wear a rocket suit and watch Ray’s expression when the rocket materializes with a gun thrust into his gut. Or wait, wasn’t Ray the one who acquired abilities that touched him? Maybe the ability won’t be touching him if she’s inside of the suit?

  11. Not only does Jim have to keep up with the updates to *this* serial, but he’s got to come up with posts for another, too! >_>

    I’m often rather surprised at how easily the story here manages to create a real sense of tension and dread–when Ray’s first appearance at the party happened (where he paralyzed everyone and killed the two agents, who were unable to move), it inspired a sick weight around Ray that hasn’t left since. Knowing that he has the families of several characters under his control has managed to make me feel sincere fear for their welfare–since it’s been clearly established Ray has no problem killing his enemies (and the friends and loved ones of his enemies) in a horrifying fashion.

    What I’m saying is that he’s a great villain who inspires genuine dread in me. So, bravo!

  12. Hey, we could have an Executioner/Scourge team-up… That would be grim.

    For those of you who don’t know, Robert writes “The Last Skull.” Follow the link to his story.

    For the record, Robert, Gavin (see link of GS Williams above), a couple other people and I have been working on a crossover which is currently kind of stalled. Hopefully it will restart soonish. In the meantime, Robert and I are doing a crossover ourselves.

  13. Hg: Actually I’m pretty sure a nuclear explosion in the gut would hurt a lot less than a good kick to the groin. You’d be dead so fast there’s just no time to feel all the fun.

  14. Speaking of attacking inside someone, I remember when Evil Atom, of Evil Inc. fame (a good webcomic, go on and read it), was fighting his younger nemesis, Captain Heroic. Evil Atom’s powers haven’t been particularly well defined, but in his case he puts Heroic’s invincibility to the test by creating a nuclear explosion inside Heroic’s skull. Turns out, doesn’t do much to him.

  15. Rachel, let me love you. A sentence which, I fear, scans as creepy even if you know I’m trying to call to mind that Ne-Yo song “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)”, which came out in 2012 after this was even written, so I should start over.

    Rachel is a fascinating and complex character. You joke about a “Dark Ghost” storyline, but if Rachel’s friends are in danger, I think she could do some serious damage, the only major Light/Dark difference being the amount of angst afterwards. (Yeah, Nick, really not helping on that… but definitely being Nick, wondering about the technical aspect.) And her “I didn’t know this could get worse” resonates, as she probably wonders how much deeper she’ll have to go.

    Having gone through the whole archive before coming back to comment, there’s a few things I look at in my file and go, “oh, right, that”. Didn’t even write this one down. It stuck even more than some of the fight scenes. Do. Not. Fuck. With. Rachel.

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