A Kind of Small Crow: Part 5

I grabbed the handle, and the door opened even as something in the back of my head suggested that he’d have expected us to run out the back.

Unwilling to randomly spray whatever was out there with the guitar’s laser, I aimed a wide angle sonic blast out the door with the speakers on both arms. Set at a frequency that generally set electronics to vibrate, the sonics had the potential to be devastating—provided we were facing rook-shaped robots.

If there were people out there, the best I could hope for was nuking their iPhone.

I stepped out the door with both speakers still blasting away, Courtney following me out.

The good news? The sonics were working great. They were the only things on the stealth suit that matched their counterparts on the regular Rocket suit, so they ought to.

The better news? There had been rook robots waiting for us out the back. Seven of them lay on the sidewalk, smoking, and randomly shooting out sparks.

The bad news? Cars include a lot of electronics these days, and an awful lot of them were stopped to wait for lights to change.

A newer Honda had been waiting for the light, almost directly in the path of the sonics.

The car’s lights were off, and from the darkness inside the car, I guessed the dashboard lights weren’t on either.

The driver held an iPhone in his left hand, and brought up his right hand to click on it.

No light came from the phone either.


Courtney didn’t seem to notice it at all as she said, “What do we do?”

She’d pulled the costume’s mask out of the collar. All black, the mask made me think more of bank robbers than a superhero, but at least she’d thought to put it on.

“I—” I began, and I’d been about to say, “I don’t know?” Unfortunately, I didn’t have time.

Rook tore through the van, ripping the upper door (or under normal circumstances, the right door) off its hinges, and threw it to the side.

The door smashed into a gas pump, which despite what movies would have led me to expect, did not instantly explode.

“Nice one with the robots,” he said. “I’ve never seen sonics used like that before.”

Okay, so I guess I’d never done that on camera. Great. I’d shown a little known aspect of sonics to someone who’d plan for it in the future.

I turned around, facing him, and slid my gloved fingers down the neck of the guitar, never touching any button for more than an a moment. Unlike your average Guitar Hero controller, which had five buttons, my guitar had twenty-four.

Light and sound at wildly inconsistent frequencies burst from the guitar’s speakers and the many lights I’d built into it.

I’d always intended to use it this way, designing it in with the assumption that my opponent wouldn’t have time to adjust to the one attack before I’d switched to the next.

Like a lot of ideas, using it in reality wasn’t an unqualified success.

Sure, it seemed to work at first. Constantly changing colors and sounds washed over Rook, and he swore, stumbling, presumably because he couldn’t see or hear much of anything.

Except then he unfurled his wings and shot into the air. Unfortunately, overwhelming a person with light and noise only worked if you could keep the noise and light aimed at them.

I had no more chance of keeping the guitar’s weapons aimed at his eyes than I did matching Haley’s reflexes.

Worse, I could have used Haley’s reflexes.

Rook aimed himself at me, all claws outstretched, roaring toward me before I could get out of the way.

Not that I didn’t try. I bent forward, just about ready to jump to the left.

His right claw hit my right shoulder, digging through the outer layer before it could harden enough prevent it—or possibly despite that it had hardened as much as it could.

The claw dug into the jacket’s gel layer, stopped by the jacket’s bottom layer hardening along with the stealth suit shirt under that.

I could feel the pressure, not pain, but I felt sure he’d be able to go all the way through with a little more work.

The guitar’s head, the spot where its main laser exited, bumped against the top of one of Rook’s legs.

I didn’t have time to consider the consequences. I pushed the button that turned it on.

23 thoughts on “A Kind of Small Crow: Part 5”

  1. “Sure, it seemed to be at first.”
    “seemed to be working”, probably.

    Don’t worry too much about that iPhone, Nick. Think of it as an opportunity for him to get the latest version. As for his car… err, I’ve got nothing, sorry. :p

  2. Right choice Nick. When you don’t have other options you do what it takes to survive. Besides that he’s facing a stone cold killer.

  3. Personally I think it was a bad decision to split up the team that much. Daniel especially is much too far away ( @ uni in chicago iirc )

  4. Heh…I did like one moment more than the others…”If there were people out there, the best I could hope for was nuking their iPhone.”

    “The driver held an iPhone in his left hand, and brought up the right hand to click on it.

    No light came from the phone either.


    So some day, Rook will tell this story to his grandkids by his adopted son and think, “I wish he hadn’t carved off my balls with that laser.”

  5. Great work once again.

    His right claw hit my right shoulder, digging through the outer layer before it could harden enough prevent it.

    It should be “to prevent it. right?

  6. When i first read the stuff on Rook I thought OK villain in armor with robots cool, but mechanical wings don’t unfurl that well, unless he/she figured out some cool & interesting tech for the wings.

    Now I’m thinking more along the lines of the Angel from X-men with a good bit of techie added in and I find I like the Idea. Great read either way

  7. @Piccolo
    Sure they can, if they’re suffiently advanced.
    Am I going to have to link to the Silverhawks opening again?
    I’ll do it if I have to. I really will.

    Also, glad to see more laser dismemberment. It always works out so well for our darling Rocket. And Rook will have an excuse to give himself a cyberleg.

  8. Why didn’t Rook just call himself Blackhawk? I mean, I’m sure people would love it if Blackhawk was thrust into the public spotlight. The marketing writes itself: “Bigger, Bolder, Badder…Blackhawk.”

    Oh no, watch out, don’t let the Blackhawk knock you to the ground! Oh no, Blackhawk just broke through that bank’s vault! Help, my girlfriend got mauled by Blackhawk!

    Ok, I’m not the first to come up with that joke, but I had to whip it out and bring it to y’all’s attention.

  9. Hg/Kazorh/Jeff: Thanks for letting me know about the typos. Fixed now, I think.

    PG: I was barely aware of the Blackhawks until a few years ago. Its funny when people try to keep a concept that’s very much of its time (ace pilots fighting spies) going despite how the world has moved on.

    Luke/Piccolo: I vaguely remember watching Silverhawks at some point too.

    MadNinja/DWwolf/Luke/PG: Kind of like Chekhov’s gun, a laser capable of burning through the hull of a battleship demands to be used every so often.

  10. @Jim: it can burn through the hull of a battleship?! I was about to point out, actually, that Rook’s a smart guy, and Rocket’s used the guitar very publicly before. So … what are the odds that Rook’s planned for that?

  11. It can do that with a little time.

    That said, if you reread things, Nick’s used the guitar publicly, but not the laser specifically. The most visible time he used the guitar was in California, and by the time the press arrived, the guitar was pretty much out of juice. In the various battles with the Cabal (and Ray), the press was unaware of the fight until it was over.

    At the same time, it’s pretty much a given that Rook’s accounted for lasers in general.

  12. The hull of a battleship does vary widely from 1,5 inch to say 18 inches in the main armor belt. There are limits ofcourse to how far you can armor a suit and still have it function, 18 inches of steel would be silly ofcourse especially near joints.
    We also dont know what kind of material Rook’s armor is made of black would not be my color of choice to face lasers though. Best case scenario for Nick is that he hits the flexible joint material. Nick is also in ideal range for the sonics.

  13. Jim and crew, it’s been a while, but I thought that I’d better catch up. Congrats on the book, too, I’ll be buying a copy just as soon as Amazon will take my money…

    Just a bit of fact-checking. A guitar hero controller has five buttons, not four.

    1. You’re correct, and it’s funny that I’d make that mistake given that there’s a Guitar Hero controller and 3 or 4 Rock Band controllers in the room I use for writing.

  14. Fingers can be traitors like that sometimes.
    Ordered my book, even payed Australian prices. Mind if I cover over the title with a little sticker that says “Red Lightning’s Shadow”?

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