Targets: Part 18

There weren’t any windows in the room, so when the lights went out, it didn’t just become a little darker in the room, it became completely black.

Well, completely black except for the line of light at the bottom of the door.

“Don’t move,” Ray said, and something clicked, followed by a frustrated sigh.

Then, I heard a rustling noise. I guessed it might be Ray or Allen’s gun being pulled from its holster.

“OK. Now don’t move or I’ll fire.”

Ray opened the door.

It wasn’t much better, but I could see again.

Well, I could see Ray, or at any rate, the half of him that stood in the hallway’s dim light. Lights didn’t seem to be on there either.

His pistol glinted.

“Allen,” Ray began, “cover him, and if he moves, aim for the head. I’ll grab a babysitter once I’m out there and send him back.”

Allen pulled out his pistol, and pointed it at me too.

“Watch him? I say bring him along and hold a gun to his head.”

“Shut up. We don’t have time for this. I’ve got to get out there while I’ve still got troops.”

A loud crackling noise, almost like an electrical discharge, followed by screams and an explosion punctuated his point.

I recognized the crackling noise from the time I’d spent testing the League jet’s lasers.

Ray slipped out the door.

Allen took a step closer to me, gun in hand, standing next to Kerri’s body. I sat on the other side of the table from him, so he wasn’t at point blank range, but it couldn’t have been more than ten feet either.

I wondered how good of a shot he was. Could he shoot me in the head before I got to him? Or before I popped the (mostly bulletproof) mask out of the collar?

Too bad I was seated on the other side of the table.

I considered dropping to the floor, and rolling out, or possibly trying to throw the table at him.  The stealth suit wasn’t the Rocket suit, but it did make me stronger than normal.

I’d decided to flip the table on its side, duck behind it, and pull the mask on when it became obvious that I’d thought too long.

Rachel appeared to Allen’s left, and punched him in the face, her electrified glove adding a special something to the blow.

He convulsed, fired at the ceiling, and collapsed.

“Follow me out. Night Cat’s waiting outside with the car.”

I pulled my mask out of the stealth suit’s collar, and gloves out of my sleeves.

Rachel walked to the doorway and turned invisible. Then her right arm became visible again, waving me forward.

She floated down the hall. I followed.

I hadn’t missed much when I’d come through the hall blindfolded. I ran past wood paneled walls, and over beige carpet. It probably hadn’t been renovated since the 1970’s.

To my left, were offices. Sleeping bags lay on the floor along with duffel bags and gear. The building’s only light came through the office windows.

On my right, the next room over from the conference room turned out to be a radio studio. From what I could see through the plate glass windows, the big, metal microphones, and the control board all looked old.

Cobwebs hung from the “On Air” sign.

I didn’t slow down much to check it out, but Rachel turned around, and said, “Come on!”

We ran out of the hallway and into the waiting room. The orange, yellow, red, green, and blue chairs screamed 1970’s, but I didn’t have time to gape at the color combination.

Shouts came from behind us, from the direction of the conference room.

Burning Hands Man ran down the hall, accompanied by one of Prime’s reserves–the jeep’s driver.

They weren’t close, but I wasn’t going to wait for that to change. I ran for the door, and pushed on it.

It was locked, and didn’t budge.

Rachel had, of course, flown through it.

Deciding that property damage wasn’t a big concern of mine anymore, I punched it.

It was one of those doors that were all glass except for the metal frame and push-bar in the middle.

The glass shattered on the top half and my gloved hand broke through, but the bottom didn’t go with it.

I kicked it, and enough broke that I could duck under the bar and walk out.

Haley’s black corvette sat next to the road, just twenty feet away.

I ran.

Behind me, I heard a crash, and the sound of metal tearing.

22 thoughts on “Targets: Part 18”

  1. So blame me for paying attention to the wrong details, but I find it interesting that Nick’s now thinking of the automobile as Haley’s car, and wonder what Travis would think about that.

  2. Hmm so who’s flying the league jet and firing the lasers,,, or just a similar sound? Maybe tech genius kid thinks it’s an awesome video game?;0

  3. Trust Nick to always overthink his situation. That’s the clear disadvantage of having an analytical mind.

  4. I agree, captain mystic, but wouldn’t you want to overthink things too if you seated across from a guy with a gun and hoping to protect yourself with a “mostly bulletproof” mask?

  5. I sure hope they have a plan for rescuing the parents, seeing as how Ray still needs to make those phone calls.

    And is it just me, or is Rachel made of awesome? Seriously, she’s bad-ass, invisible, walks through walls, can kill immortals, and gets stuff done while the teenagers freak. I would TOTALLY read a story with her as the narrator, what does she do during university? No superheroics? Really?

  6. Jim, with Lost, Battlestar Galactica, and 24 all off the air, it is refreshing that there’s somebody still out there who understands the sublime art of the cliffhanger.

    Honestly, it’s been said over and over again, I would pay good money to see the LON movie.

    @G.S. Williams – I too would read of Rachel’s adventures.

  7. I wouldn’t pay to see a LON movie. It wouldn’t have an ending, just a cliffhanger leading into a sequel that has a cliffhanger ending leading into a sequel…

    What works for a serial doesn’t necessarily work for a movie. Maybe a tv series instead. They’re showing up more and more. No Ordinary Family, The Cape, that has ABC and NBC covered. They’re going to need more superhero franchises for other channels.

    Oooh, you know what? Legion of Nothing, the Musical!…just need to add some phantoms and some catlike-superheroes so we can reuse old props. Now, how do you feel about adding sequins to the Rocket’s costume?

  8. Okay, now I really want to see Nick & Chris’ armour building duet, even if it weren’t slasfic compliant.

  9. Here’s an idea for an armor Nick and Chris could build together. They’d name it “Dreadnaught”;

    Shape: 12 ft tall humanoid, more thickly built than a human. Semi-gyroscopic hydraulic joints providing about human range of motion.

    Armor/exoskeleton material: tungsten carbide, strengthened with molecular engineering. With tensile strength of 300 tons per square inch with earth tech (let alone Nick’s supertech) and a much higher resistance to impact than pure carbon composites, it’s good. Plus, 3700 C melting point, does not burn, is not a conductor and has very high density, meaning the mech would be a lot heavier than it seems and harder to topple/lift with TK – a cubic metre of the stuff weighs 20 tons so the mech might weigh over 60. And tungsten only costs $30 per kilo so base material would only cost a couple of million -provided Nick’s fabricators could fabricate the composite out of the tungsten.

    Power: the Guitar’s battery can’t weigh more than 3-4 pounds or the guitar would be unwieldy. That’s amazing energy density for that output. A battery weighing 4 tons (2000 times that energy) should be enough to power the armor for hours – though a small radiogenerator for emergencies would be good, if he could find the materials.
    (barring radiogenerators, power is the main problem we have with current mech technology)

    Weaponry: this is where it gets fun. Basic weaponry should include a more powerful sonic system and a guitar laser system in each hand. Also, being punched by a 5-ton tungsten fist powered by a 2000 hp hydraulic system might ruin most peoples’ (and tanks’) days. For heavy weaponry, we got a 40mm antitank automatic rifle in case the suit needs to save energy and a shoulder-mounted main laser three times the dimensions of the guitar’s laser in case there is power to spare. 3 times the dimensions would make the laser about 27 times more powerful – just in case Nick and Chris need to take on Grey Giants and Battleships.

    Defenses: in addition to the armor itself, an external mesh of the same material as Cassie’s sword would prevent said sword or similar weaponry from cutting through the armor. The armor itself would work as a faraday cage for vulnerable electronics on the inside and tungsten is a hyperdense element that absorbs most radiation. A thin coating with a very high reflection factor that also is extremely resistant to corrosion and heat (iridium comes to mind) will reflect energy weapons, heat and resist acids and disintegration. 2-inch spikes of the same material as Cassie’s sword should appear on the outside of the armor in locations that would not impede mobility so superstrong people would have a harder time grappling with the armor or punching it without consequence. An array of automatic, highly-accurate low-power laser robotic turrets the size of the guitar with 1/10 the power output and 10 times the endurance that shoot down oncoming missiles, artillery shells and enemies with superspeed.
    Finally, the command seat should fit Nick with the stealth suit, provide ejection capability, telepathy shielding, shielding for those frequencies 1 foot of tungsten won’t absorb, air recycling that lasts for a day without external supply and a more advanced (and much thicker) version of his standard faceplate.

    Propulsion: a back-mounted propulsion system. The Rocket’s jetpack seems small compared to the suit but small is relative – if the Rocket armor is 250 pounds and the jetpack 50, for a mech that weighs 500 times that much, you still need a jetpack 12 of about 6 tons to get at 2/3 the Rocket’s speed – and 250 times the fuel. Instead of fuel, an additional battery powering 2 antigravity plates would work and be much smaller. Nick could even take the existing antigrav plates from the Jet and mod them to be “plug-and-play” so he could use either the flying mech or the jet and a non-flying mech without needing to make more. He would use the Jet’s fusion plant to charge up the batteries for the Mech so no need for a huge fuel bill. And with the antigravity propulsion, the mech would probably be faster and more silent.
    Physically, the mech could not move with synthetic muscles – it would be too heavy for them. But an internal hydraulic or mechanical system at 2000 hp or more would move the suit up to 80 mph – slow, but hydraulic systems can build extremely high pressures – slowly lifting a thousand tons or crushing solid steel with the mech would be doable.

  10. Bel6 – Dayum! Dude, are you, like, building this thing on some secret munitions plant right now??

    Say, you think you can come up with plans for a commercial warp chamber while you’re at it??

  11. As I said, the only real problems that do not allow the creation of mechs today is energy density and money.
    Consider Nick’s guitar; it weighs at most 20 pounds and has considerable firepower. Nick built it out of the existing materials in his lab.
    Compare with the latest aircraft-mounted laser system the US airforce has openly tested; each module is the size of an SUV and weighs 3 tons, with the total system being 18 tons or so and having energy for only 20 high-power shots. The cost for the system is over a billion dollars.

    Admittedly, that system is a 2,8 megawatt laser that can shoot down missiles and artillery over 200 km away but the problems are there; we CAN make powerful energy weapons and generally energy-based systems but we can’t make them small or cheap enough to bother mounting them in vehicles. We have relied far too long on combustion engines and explosives and we have not miniaturized weapons-grade energy systems… yet.

    We’ll see where we’ll be in 20 years.

  12. Bill/Gavin: I’d like to do a story from the perspective of each member of the League, original and current. It’s the kind of thing that fits in between major sections (book 1, book 2, etc…). We’ll see if I manage it.

    Bill/Psycho Gecko: I’m hoping to reformat/edit Legion of Nothing for ebooks and Kindle in the near future. Choose the right sections, and you’ve got a beginning/middle/end structure. Turning it into a movie… If anyone ever offers, I’ve got some ideas as to how to restructure it for something like that.

    Mazzon/Belial: Interesting stuff. You can pretty much expect to see not only the Chris/Nick built armor showing up, but also some new designs in the more distant future. How much they’ll resemble what Belial’s suggested, I don’t know.

    But it’s true… One way that Nick’s stuff differs from our technology is in the miniaturization of power supplies. I try not to get too wrapped up in the technical details of that. Otherwise I might start writing something that’s more science fiction than superheroic fiction…

  13. Cool! I really wanted to see how the other people in the team think, not only Nick.

    As for the new version of the suits, two things;

    A) How much a projectile will penetrate into an object for projectiles moving higher than the speed of sound in that object that do not shatter on impact is equal to the length of the projectile times the density of the projectile divided by the density of the object. Even soft or entirely loose objects will stop high-speed projectiles based on density alone – that’s why sandbags stop bullets even if they’re just loose sand.
    Now ceramics can be very hard compared to iron and lead – so they shatter or deform soft bullets easily. AP rounds use hardened materials such as tantalium, depleted uranium, tungsten and various carbides so ceramics cannot shatter or deform them. And thus the above equation enters play; ceramics have a density from 2.5 to 5. The above materials have a density of over 15 in all cases. Thus against ceramic armor, they penetrate 3 to 8 times the bullet length. A bullet only 70 mm long will penetrate over a foot into them. The 173 mm long round of the GAU-8 will penetrate three feet.
    Now, armor made by tungsten or uranium composite has density of 19 and is really, really tough. Having equal density and hardness with the oncoming bullet, the bullet will shatter, bounce or deform far more often than not because it’s thinner and more fragile. Even if it doesn’t, it is not going to penetrate more than its length at the best possible (for the shooter) circumstances for a solid metal projectile. So even AP rounds aren’t doing to penetrate thick superdense armor. Shaped charges are a lot lighter for their length because the explosives are not dense at all and don’t penetrate either. You need a solid projectile at least a foot long and weighing over 80 pounds to penetrate a foot of superdense armor – and those are only fired by the main guns of large battleships.

    The main reason superdense composites are not used for armor is weight and money. They got three times the weight and ten to one thousand times the cost of steel.

    B) The more reflective a surface is the less energy an energy weapon can apply to the surface. Typically, concrete reflects less than 20% and “eats” the remaining 80%. Ceramics are generally in the same league, reflecting 80% at most – still eating 1/5 of the energy from energy weapons. In contrast, common HR coatings can achieve 99.9% reflectivity over a broad wavelength range. If you also base them on superdense, heat-resistant, corrosion-resistant elements, they won’t be destroyed even to prolonged exposure. Such a coating could make the Rocket suit 200 times more resistant to most lasers than it currently is.

  14. I figured the big problem with realistic mecha is the bipedalism. In terms of stability, it’s a poor choice. That’s why so many other animals go about on four as opposed to two. Sure, we are better at long distance walking, but when it comes to a lot of other forms of movement, our poor little legs are kinda weak.

    Four legged mecha, though, tend to require more turning to keep enemies within the firing arc of the weaponry, which is generally mounted pointing forwards. After all, the body has to be positioned differently to handle four legs.

    Six or eight legs could be usefil too, but that centralizes weaponry in a body that is in the middle of a group of legs. Have to make sure a leg is out of the way before firing, while the enemy can just cut away at them without trying to touch the central body.

    A snakelike design could be nice, except once again, except you’d have to protect the whole darn movement appendage with armor and weaponry that aims all over the place. If you don’t, just concentrating it in the “head” of the snake, leaves you open to being attacked at the large, undefended tail.

    Flying mecha are a bad idea. That’s a LOT of fuel to lift that thing off the ground and keep it going no matter what kind of propulsion you’re talking about. Planes can be made of aluminum and wood, they’ve got a lot of empty space on them. A mecha is going to be loaded down with armor, ammo, weaponry, a coffee maker, rotisserie spit, home theater entertainment system, and all the various machine parts to make the darn thing work.

    A mech with movement capabilities for water is completely useless anywhere else. You ever seen a seal chase down a supervillain? Please tell me if you do, but in the meantime, the Super Orcabot 5000 won’t be put into production.

    The best design for a large, well armored fighting vehicle that can travel over a variety of terrain would have to be some sort of tracked machine, the tracks close in or under the central body of it, which is covered in armor and squat enough for balance to not be an issue. Preferably the weapons systems on this tank would be mounted all on the same spot, which can be rotated around. It can move over various unpleasant terrain and fire in a lot more arcs than the others could with less effort.

    The British were working on something of a predecessor to that once during World War I. They called the project by a code word both to keep a secret and because of the resemblence. A “water tank.”

  15. The problem with any kind of vehicles other than bipedal humanoids is that a human driver is far more suited to driving a bipedal humanoid than anything else. They’ve had literally over a hundred thousand hours of experience commanding a bipedal vehicle already.
    If you build something with similar balance and range of motion to a human body, human drivers will have a lot better balance with it than anything else. In addition, a humanoid body can lift itself up – something very few other shapes can do near as easily – and can perform on terrain types that tracked vehicles simply cannot, plus turn faster. It can also more easily change between weaponry and is harder to cripple than tracked vehicles.

    Of course, bipedal bodies are a lot more complex than wheels or tracked vehicles and less energy efficient; more maintenance and some mechanical inconvenience exists.

  16. This must be the only story on the Web where the fans have plans on hand to make this stuff happen for real.

    Jim, if you’re not careful, we might watch news reports of random strangers foiling bank robberies and home break-ins using Guitar Hero.

  17. Naah.

    I’m more interested in making an armageddon missile. No reason one should not be able to load 100 miniaturized megaton-level nukes with self-guidance/reentry systems of total weight close to 3 tons on a double-sized pegasus rocket that would launch them to space and release them in appropriate orbit. Miniaturized nukes being the size of a shoebox and the guidance/reentry systems for something so small being about the same size, they would be as small as my schoolbag. After they’re stealthed and painted black, good luck detecting them in space.

    And then they’d proceed to the appropriate reentry coordinates to nuke the 100 largest cities on a continent.

  18. The funny thing is, armageddon missiles have been within the capabilities of our technology for over 20 years now – and the mini-nukes have been around since 1968 – while most things Nick makes are only now becoming available.

    And still nobody has actually used an armageddon missile yet. (I can’t promise anything about making one – those mini-nukes that were supposedly disarmed have had to go somewhere)

  19. Belial666, you just jarred an idea loose for me.

    I mentioned Chris, Nick, Larry, and Carlos getting together and making suits, and that’s a fine idea. But they should make them for someone else.

    Jenny. The Legion of Jenny.

    Hundreds, thousands of simple yet effective suits. That’s a force multiplier.

    It won’t happen in short order though. Unless Carlos is good enough to talk the suits into helping build themselves.

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