Targets: Part 20

He lay on the road. Then he pulled himself up, and limped to the side.

He sat down in the front lawn of an old white house that hadn’t been painted in at least twenty years. Most of its paint had flaked off the wood.

With luck, no one lived there.

I sat down in my seat, putting my seatbelt back on, and setting down the guitar.

It didn’t look like his regeneration was instantaneous–which was good. We needed the breather.

It was also unbelievably useful data. Whatever properties of his body protected him from the missiles and physical blows didn’t work against lasers.

That meant we had one more way to hurt them if we had to–assuming it worked the same way for the rest of them.

An image of his upper thigh appeared in my mind–reddish and blackened skin. I clenched my jaw. I didn’t quite feel guilty about shooting him–he was probably planning to kill us–but, part of me hoped I hadn’t permanently maimed him. And I wondered what would happen if he went into shock on the lawn back there.

I decided not worry about it. Much.

From the back seat, Rachel said, “He’s still down. Thank God. For a second, I thought I might have to… Nick, are you okay?”

“I think so.”

Haley glanced over at me. She reached out, and clicked the button that closed the roof.

Then she clicked on the car’s communicator. I’d patched it into our new system when I’d worked on the phones.

“I should turn up the volume and find out what’s happening. Lee called me just after they took you away in the jeep, and it sounded like he had a plan.”

“Tell me about it,” Rachel said. “I had to report back all the time, and the communicator doesn’t work when I’ve phased out, so I had to float up to the roof to talk.”

Watching Haley turn the volume up, I asked, “Why’d you turn it off?”

“When you got in the car, and he started chasing us, it got distracting. It hasn’t been off long.”

Sean’s voice came over the car’s speakers, “Pull back? Why do I have to pull back? They don’t have to–”

Alex broke in, “Because he said so, asshole.”

Sydney only said, “Sean.

“The Power,” Sean began, but ended with  an “Ahhh–” followed by a thump, and more moaning.

“Someone put a spear through him, ” Lucas said. “I caught him before he hit the ground, but it’s close to the heart. Paladin?”

“I’ll take him.”

Lee’s voice came over the comm–except it wasn’t Lee’s. It was Gunther’s. I could hear an old voice with a German accent. We’d all been trained by Gunther, hadn’t we? “How far can you bring him back? If there’s a next wave, it’ll be mechs, and I’d wanted a second EMP.”

“I can handle it. Give me five minutes. Paladin out.”

Gunther said, “Good. Where’s Night Cat?”

“Here,” Haley said, pressing a button on the dash. “We got him out.”

“Good. Join up with Flame Legion. Night Wolf–”

“Wait, what about our parents?”

“Accelerando hasn’t reported in yet, but,  Captain Commando and the girl with voice powers are with her. We know where the hostages are. It’ll work out.”

Haley held her hand over the talk button as if she intended to ask another question, but Rachel said, “Don’t. I saw the number Ray called the last time he stopped the executions. I passed it on to Kayla. She got it to… the little kid?”

Rachel looked over at me.


“And Carlos found the rest of the numbers and their locations. Jaclyn can handle it.”

Haley turned the car down a dirt road. “I know she can. I just wish I were with them.”

As we passed rows of corn, Gunther’s voice said, “Night Wolf. Blow the radio station to hell. Then herd them toward us.”

21 thoughts on “Targets: Part 20”

  1. Nice. Lee does know quite a bit about tactics. Then again, he’s had quite a few millennia to refine them.

    BTW, I got Mutants & Masterminds 3E about a week ago. Do you mind if I stat the Heroes League in that RPG?

  2. “The Siren” or “The Lamia” for the voice girl, “Netwalker” or “Technomage” for Carlos.

  3. Ummm, yeah, I’m thinking a big “NO” for “The Lame-ia”. 🙂

    Personally, I think VoiceOver would be a good name, except for the fact that it totally gives her powers away. So really, something indirect and nondescript, like Agent X or Mystery Girl might be better.

    I’m curious, Jim, about how much of this whole battle you have mapped out — it seem like pretty much all of it, down to the mid-level details. If you have, good on ya! It certainly adds to the realism.


  4. I think voice girl is part of the no secret identities group, so she’s stuck with her real name, which I… like Lee… can’t remember.

    And just a side note on Carlos, if he had been born during the middle ages, I suspect all of his superpower relatives would have wondered how they got such a powerless son.

  5. Well, if she wants to play up being a femme fatale, have her go with Irresistible. Carlos can be…Binary. He’s talking those machines’ language, ya dig?

    Also, nice to see our collective desire to see Sean mortally wounded is being fulfilled.

    …Seriously, a spear? It’s 2011, who throws a spear?

    Must be that superpowered mercenary,”The Phallic Euphemism!”
    Born with a small physique, he was unable to defend himself against bullies, until he discovered his abilities of overcompensation that allow him to hurtle long, pointy-tipped objects at people harder and deeper than any others!

    …I’m so going to end up banned for this…

  6. “Man that escalated fast. I mean that really got out of hand.”

    “Yeah it did.”

    “I think Brick killed a guy.”

    “Yeah, I killed a guy. With a trident.”

    “You know, Brick, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. You may want to get out of town for awhile, lay low until this thing blows over.”

  7. Perhaps when the bloke who used the spear really wants to do a job right, he falls back on the things he knows best. If he’s been around since the Roman legions, then the weapons he knows best would probably be the spear and the gladius. Of course, as an alternate time-line Buffy the Vampire Slayer once said, “A stake through the heart will kill just about anything.” (I’m sure I got that slightly wrong and many people will be able to correct me.)

  8. Belial666: Feel free to stat them out. The concept of the Rocket actually came to life as a (never played) Villains and Vigilantes (very old superhero RPG) character.

    Gavin: Anchorman. That was a bizarre and funny movie. Local news people really got a kick out of that one.

    Hg: I plan out the general shape of the battle, and as many of the details as Nick would logically be exposed to. Plus, if the battle would have an effect on other characters, I think that out too. Sometimes that results in more thought than you might expect.

    Psycho Gecko: It’d be kind of hypocritical if I did… I’m the guy responsible for the first post here.

  9. Well, the spear the Romans used was a nice one, though more of a javelin. The pilum. Excellent penetration against enemy shields and the soft bodies of young men like Sean alike.

    Once I noticed the “Dirtiest verse of the Bible” in the html, I knew it’d be about that verse. While I take issue with that being the dirtiest, I don’t think the comments section of a superhero serial is the best place to discuss the Bible. If people get to arguing about that, we all might come across as donkey’s members.

    Innuendo where one supervillain who’s been around since the time of naked wrestling penetrates a teen who was caught unawares, with his pants down you might say, now THAT belongs here.

  10. I’m definitely not attempting to start a discussion of religion (or lack thereof).

    Regarding Spears: If you can lift several tons (or many, many tons), you might be able to cause more damage with a spear than you would with a gun. And with many heroes, you might need to.

  11. Spears shatter and while they got good penetration, their wounds are both piercing and small enough to be nonfatal – at least not immediately.

    Battleaxes and Greataxes on the other hand make maximum use of strength and while they got slightly lower penetration, they deal horrendous wounds. Decapitation is for swords. Greataxes in historical times could and did cleave medium-armored opponents from head to crotch, the most devastating wound melee weapons anywhere can give.

  12. Axes are slicing weapons. Sure, if they hit they’re good, but you’ve got to have some strength and it takes awhile to complete the swing. If an enemy could be killed by splitting them from head to crotch, which is tough enough with all the bones and organs in the way, including that toughest of toughs, the Skull, then you could have killed them more easily another, quicker way.

    Spears and other thrusting weapons, like the Roman gladius, can cause much more lethal damage with just an inch or two of penetration in a lot of areas, like the traditionally unarmored gut. Maybe the throat is better? How about the crotch or arms, with those squirty arteries? A thrust is also quicker, has quicker recovery unless you go overboard, and you can do so while holding a big shield with the other arm to protect yourself. Major arteries aren’t far under the skin and you really don’t have a lot of “extra space” inside your body. Any thrust for a few inches is going to hurt something. Any axe slice that barely misses someone…may cause a little light bleeding and a scar after it heals. If you hit an enemy and if they’re not using a shield or good armor, you can cause significant damage. I’ll admit that even if blocked, you can break bones and knock breath out.

    Turns out it’s easier to aim between armor plating, through chainmail rings, and between ribs with a small thrusting point. Also, there’s the simple fact that a smaller point of impact means more force is concentrated on that point, doing more damage and getting better penetration. Busy in a trench? Then you need a trenchknife, useful for stabbing at an enemy when you don’t have much room for a swing. Or a bayonet, the classic last ditch military weapon. Standard tactic? Aim for the belly. Can’t use a phalanx with an axe. Can’t fight a phalanxe with an axe either. Easier to defend a castle’s walls with a good spear or pike through those small wall slits, or even a swordthrust through gratings.

    To mess up a quote from SG-1…*holds up a greataxe* This is a weapon of terror. It is made to frighten your enemy. *holds up a spear* This is a weapon of war. It is made to KILL your enemy.

    Yeah, I killed an assertion. With a trident.

  13. Common mistake at comics is that people with superhuman abilities fight the same way real humans do despite having different capabilities and different needs in combat. I suggested the axe over swords here because we are talking about superstrong, supertough regenerators.

    Because of their superstrength, they could swing both at about the same speed; you can move your hand just as fast when holding an A3 sheet of paper as when you are holding a smaller piece because both weights are negligible to what you can lift. To someone who can lift many tons, 1 pound and 20 pounds are both negligible; the only limit to swinging speed is their own dexterity. On the other hand, assuming it doesn’t break, an axe is a longer lever so it multiplies strength and reach and has more mass so it can store more momentum and energy for a swing at the same speed.

    Because of their superhuman toughness, they are armored everywhere, with a lot fewer weak points than armor would have so heavy swings are a requirement. That is especially true if they are tougher proportionally than they are strong; the more skewed towards toughness they are, the more their weapons should be skewed towards heavy swings.

    Finally, and most importantly, regeneration. Regeneration makes small wounds far, far less effective than against normal opponents. It doesn’t matter if a blow would be a lethal hit if it’s only an inch deep and regenerates almost instantly. On the other hand, a horrendous but not instantly lethal blow like cutting off a substantial part of a limb is still effective because it can’t regenerate mid-fight (too much loss of body mass) and can be crippling. That’s true even if your regenerating opponent isn’t supertough – and it is why large edged weapons are more effective against undead, vampires, demons and supers than bullets.

  14. Hmmm. The only issue I have with that analysis, Belial, is that fewer weak points would mean heavy swings are a requirement. Aside from the fact that a spear will usually have better reach than even a greataxe, if the only weak points are small openings like the eye sockets, mouth, or navel, then you’ll likely be more effective with a thrusting weapon that can actually get into those weak points, instead of a hack/slash weapon that will slide across the armoured body except for the most powerful and direct of blows.

    You can hit a lot harder with a fist than with a finger, but I’d rather someone punch me in the eye twenty times than poke me hard in the eye once with an extended index.

    Also, there’s the whole weapon durability thing. It’s easier to build a shaft that won’t break when you thrust with it than when you slash with it using the same amount of force.


  15. I would like to note that one of the most effective weapons against vampires is a wooden stake, a thrusting weapon applied to the heart. For zombies, either a large blunt weapon like a mace or a crowbar, or a weapon that can thrust into either the eye socket or through the skull, like a trencknife or even a spear, as Max Barry relates in The Zombie Survival Guide in regards to Shaka Zulu fighting a zombie.

    Not sure what idea of demons we’re going with here.

    Against supers, it is hard to generalize. Kryptonite is deadly to Superman, not to Batman. A bullet is deadly to Batman, not to Superman. Regeneration would be a problem but one that can be overcome. Like with the pilum, our faithful Roman friend. Having a chunk of metal and wood sticking in your body messes up with regenerating that particular area. Things would get moved around somewhere they weren’t supposed to be, or the body would have to try and push out the weapon, or it just couldn’t regenerate until the weapon was removed.

    The Lernean Hydra wasn’t killed via slicing off its heads. That just caused more to grow nearly immediately. Wolverine has an unbreakable metal skeleton, so there’s no limb separation. Deadpool growls limbs back very quickly all the time. Annihilus was killed when Nova reached down his throat and tore out his insides. That last one has nothing to do with this at all, it’s just awesome.

  16. The short sword was a piercing weapon true. It was intended to be thrust out from behind the wielder’s shield which is why the Romans used it so effectively. Attacking opponents found themselves coming up against a wall of shields which effectively minimized their target areas and sharp pointy metal bits kept slipping out between the shields to cut them. The long sword and axe did not as popularly portrayed have a razor sharp edge. Instead, they focused a lot more energy because of the weight and swing arc into a very small surface area, allowing them to penetrate heavy armor that the thrusting short sword, rapier, etc… was not able to. Against an opponent with normal skin and no armor the thrusting weapons are very effective, against someone wearing damage resistant armor or otherwise possessing high resistance to damage I would expect your heavier weapons to be much more effective.

    On another note, I like Nicks observation about impact vs. laser damage against their pursuer. That person at least seems to generate some form of kinetic barrier instead of actually possessing near invulnerable skin and muscle tissue. I would surmise that anyone generating a “force field” would not look at all normal if it was able to stop a laser since they’d be blocking the passage of light in the visible electromagnetic spectrum. I don’t have the physics background to say which, but I’d think such a person would either appear as a silhouette or having a mirror-like finish.

  17. You said:

    Haley turned the car down a dirt road. “I know she can. I just wish I were.”

    I suggest:
    Haley turned the car down a dirt road. “I know she can. I just wish I were THERE.”

  18. Er… on the subject of heavy armor vs. rapiers… that was a challenge won by rapiers, as I understand it. Once the metallurgy supported it, light, stabbing swords replaced broadswords because they allowed swordsmen to hit their armored opponents’ joints (and other weakly armored points.)

    Although it’s certainly possible (with the admittedly limited knowledge I’ve got) that the rapier’s supremacy has as much to do with the rise of firearms and the general uselessness of contemporary armor at stopping the bullets of the time. If nobody is wearing the heavy armor because of guns, then they’re clearly open to stabbing (and slashing) by rapier

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