Under 30: Part 17

Dixie didn’t stay to talk after that. She dived over the ledge, flew down two floors to rescue Destruction Boy, and left through the hole on the third floor.

As her feet left the ledge, I activated the roachbots I’d released earlier. They had a chance to catch her.

Jaclyn appeared out of the stairwell, and leaned over the edge of the walkway, watching them go.

“I thought I’d be able to catch her if she did that.” Jaclyn shook her head. “Grandpa said Dixie Superman was fast, but I didn’t know Dixie Supergirl would be that fast. Well, we’d better go after them.”

She jumped, landing on the third floor, running across the shattered door, and into the sunlight.

I turned on the rockets and followed, landing on the walkway, and joined her in the remains of the cell. It was empty of prisoners. Presumably the guy who’d been there had left for a safer place to hide.

I ran across the burnt carpet toward Jaclyn. Even before I reached the edge, I could hear voices shouting outside. That wasn’t a good sign.

In the parking lot, the fire department had run hoses to the fire hydrants, and stood ready, pointing the hoses that came out of the fire truck at the prison. That seemed reasonable given Destruction Boy’s fireball earlier, but something didn’t seem quite right.

Dixie Supergirl flew away carrying Destruction Boy, but no one seemed to be paying attention to her. At the same time, the firemen were raising their hoses and aiming them up toward us.

I heard someone shouting, “Stop them!” Then water sprayed into the cell. I’d only begun to move out of the way when Jaclyn grabbed my left arm and dragged me backwards to the cell’s inside wall.

The water stopped, leaving a huge puddle in the middle of the floor.

“That’s crazy,” I said. “They don’t use firehoses against escaping prisoners, do they?”

“No,” Jaclyn said. She tapped at her wrist communicator. “What’s going on out there?”

Vaughn’s voice came over the speaker. “Mr. Madness is going on. He sprayed them with gas, and they all started taking orders—”

“Who’s ‘they’? None of us, I hope.”

“No. Shift saw him release the gas, and flew away from it. Ghost was intangible, and I was in the air, so we’re alright.”

“Did you get Mr. Madness?”

“It’s been crazy out here. They’ve got a Box by the firetrucks, so we’ve been trying to dodge the guys in the Box. They’ve got piles of anti-super stuff, so that’s been no picnic. Shift tried to catch him, but the guy flew away on a jetpack.”

“Jetpack?” I said.

Jaclyn held the communicator closer to her mouth. “But you caught him, right?”

“No. He was too fast, and if I zapped him he’d have broken his neck in the fall.”

“Couldn’t you hold him up with wind?”

“It’s hard to switch between them like that. Trust me, okay? We’ve had our hands full controlling the crowd.”

Jaclyn sighed. “This was a complete disaster.”

Rachel’s voice broke into the conversation. She was breathing hard. “It could have been worse. Storm King blew a lot of the gas away from the crowd, and Shift and I just stopped the guys in the Box.”

Before Jaclyn could reply, a voice said, “Hey.”

Jaclyn and I both twisted to face the door. I held out my right hand, ready to blast away with the sonics. Even as I did, Jaclyn said, “Oh, you.”

Dayton had stepped through the doorway. Scorchmarks covered his blue and white uniform.

“Wow,” I said.

“It looks worse than it is. I got caught on the edge of the Destruction Boy’s blast. I jumped off the railing here if you can believe it.”

He’d jumped from three stories. That was good. It might mean he could do more than mimic other people’s skills. With too much of a power difference, skill didn’t matter much.

“Jody and and Sean already left,” I said.

Dayton nodded. “I saw. Do you know if Sean’s okay?”

He stepped toward us, reminding me that he was about the same size normally (including muscles) that I was in the Rocket suit.

Jaclyn talked into her communicator. “Where are Sean and Jody? Sean’s hurt.”

“Don’t know,” Vaughn said, “but I thought I saw Jody carry Sean to one of the ambulances.”

“Good enough,” Jaclyn said, and cut the connetion. “I’d start by the ambulances, but wait for us. Rocket and I are going to leave soon, and if you follow us out, they’ll be distracted.”

“Rocket,” she continued, “you fly out, I’ll jump.”

We left.

* * *

Half an hour later we were in HQ. Marcus and I sat the computer table in the middle of the main room. I was out of the Rocket suit. Vaughn stood in front of the wall sized TV screen flipping between channels covering the aftermath.

Ultimately no prisoners escaped, and despite Mr. Madness’ gas attack, the Box operators’ attempts at catching the League, and the way firemen used the hose, there weren’t any major injuries. Sean broke his collarbone, but his (lightly armored) costume had taken the worst of it.

Jaclyn walked up to the table in jeans and a green t-shirt, eyeing the huge screen behind it as it showed the broken wall, the firetrucks, and interviews with bystanders.

“We didn’t accomplish much.”

She’d come from the locker room. Rachel would be coming soon, and then it’d be the guys’ turn.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Marcus looked up from the computer screen. “You don’t know what they would have done with the prisoners if we hadn’t been there. Probably pumped them full of Madness gas, and after that, the sky’s the limit. It’d be like every time the Joker appears ever. Except maybe with less death.”

“Marcus, we’re not in a comic book.”

“I’m not seeing much of a difference,” Marcus said. “Besides, listen to what Nick’s got.”

She looked at me.

“One of my roachbots hitched a ride on Dixie’s utility belt. I know where they are.”

9 thoughts on “Under 30: Part 17”

  1. *sits in a hippie drum circle near the prison, grooving to the Mad Gas* So…so…doods…like…so…doods. Right…so. Like, man, there’s this thing, man. Like, it’s invisible and it’s everywhere…except maybe the midwest. But, it’s like all over the place. An invisible band of information and love and enjoyment engulfing the planet. And like, we’re in that. We’re not on earth, we’re IN this big interplanetary network. We’re nothing but a numerical equation on in this inter-network thing, and our creator isn’t Yahweh man. It’s this dude named Jim.

    *takes one last big hit* Oh, and Mr. Madness is named Hannibal Sativa.

    1. Hg: Should I start keeping a spreadsheet then? That would be funny.

      Actually, I’ve been using Scrivener (now available on Linux) for my writing lately, and one great feature is the ability to keep all your research and so on in the same package of files as your writing. This includes character descriptions, background, and everything.

      It’s a great program.

      PG: That’s mindblowing (and the world explodes).

      Captain Mystic: Ph.d’s might be overrated if your ultimate goal is simply causing pain and frustration.

      DWwolf: Which is one of Nick’s strengths…

  2. Ubuntu — like an awful lot of people, I guess.

    Basically, I decided that I wanted to minimize the amount of time I spent doing “recreational system administration.” I’ve used various versions of open source unix, particularly FreeBSD which I like a lot. However, the most desktop user-friendly version of FreeBSD (PC-BSD) didn’t work well on my current desktop. At that point, I decided I could either try to figure out why, or use an operating system that allowed me to not care.

    I tried Ubuntu, and have been happy to discover that it’s not far behind Windows or MacOS with regards to desktop use.

    Plus, it’s got the command line if I want to use it, and if I want to set up Apache/Mysql/PHP/Ruby for testing purposes, I can know it won’t be that far from the environment things will ultimately be deployed in.

    Plus, Banshee can move music to and from my iPhone. I like that.

    EDIT: One other thing I like is that it’s been a long time since I’ve had to manually configure X. This only improves my life.

  3. Considering it’s now 2015 and the comment is from 2011, this is long after the fact but:
    @captain mystic
    I think you left the W off wreak (cause) which made me think of reek (smells). =) It made you comment funnier than intended to me.

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