Ready or Not: Part 5

Daniel, I thought at him, Why not you?

I’ve never liked being in charge, and I’ve had to do it a lot. Besides, we all need leadership experience and you managed to avoid it when we were switching off. Plus, and this is the most important reason, you’ve been part of the whole thing from the beginning. You’ll see stuff I’ll miss unless I go through your head, and search for every last bit of related stuff.

I could see that, and I did remember him hating being put in charge of things at school. He’d gone to the only Jewish day school in the area, been the grandson of a much loved Rabbi, and was tall and good looking as well. People tended to give him more attention than he wanted.

So okay, he was right, but how was I supposed to butt into Sean and Sydney’s family fight and actually make them listen?

“Hey,” I said, upping the volume of the Rocket suit’s speakers. “Time to go. We’ve still got to pick up Jaclyn, and we’ve got to get there before they move Cassie.”

Sean and Sydney stopped, and looked at me.

“Let’s head over to the hangar.” I pointed at the wide metal doors for Izzy’s benefit, and started walking toward them.

“Who are we fighting?” Sean hurried to catch up to me.

“Rook,” I said. And because I felt like I had to be honest I followed it up with, “We suspect he’s working for the Nine.”

“The Nine? Are you crazy? They’re one of the biggest organizations out there.”

“You can stay here,” I said, not stopping or slowing down.

Sean turned toward Sydney. “Did you hear that? The Nine. Remember the guy who killed Dad? They’re ten times worse.”

“He kidnapped Cassie. I’m going with them.” She didn’t sound happy. Her feet hit the carpet solidly, each time making me worry that she’d break the concrete underneath. “And don’t bring Dad into this.”

Sean said something to her that I didn’t catch.

Haley caught up with me, “Didn’t Guardian say he’d be sending someone?”

“Yeah, but he hasn’t yet. They might be too busy.”

She shook her head. “I’m sure he’ll do it, Nick. This is Guardian. By the way, did you ever send him the coordinates for where Cassie is?”


She frowned. “You said you would.”

“I’ll do it. I just haven’t had a chance yet. I’ve been worried about how we’ll find her if they’ve taken her tracking device away, and put up telepathy dampeners or something.”

We walked up to the hangar. I pushed the button that opened the doors, and they slid into the walls on either side, stopping with metallic clanks.

“You’ve been talking with Guardian?” Sean stared at me.

My first instinct was to explain that this was less impressive than it sounded, but then I decided I didn’t want to explain anything to him at all, and said, “Yes.”

We stepped into the hangar.

At the far end, the League Jet hummed, the fusion plant and the engines inside it had already powered up. Nearer to us were the Wolfmobile, Cassie’s scratched up motorcycle, and my van with its missing driver’s side door and all the scratches it had gotten from being flipped on its side.

On either side of the room were the tools I used to keep them running, spare parts on shelves, and storage lockers.

I saw Cassie’s locker, and thought of a way I might be able to find her.

“Everyone, give me a second. I’ve got to grab something. Just go get in the jet.”

I walked up to Cassie’s locker, clicked a few buttons, and overrode her lock.

Then I opened it, and found the gun. Made of a shimmery, bluish-green metal, it looked like a toy—an evil toy. I couldn’t see all of it because Cassie kept it in a holster, but it started wider at the back and became slimmer until it reached the point.

I picked it up. Cassie had told me that it adjusted to fit her hand when she first touched it. It didn’t adjust at all to fit me. It didn’t react in any way.

I started walking toward the jet. In the time I’d taken, everyone else was almost, but not quite there.

I pointed its muzzle to the right of me, and then started talking to it.

“Hey, gun,” I said. “Remember Cassie? She’s the only person you can talk to. The only person you’ve been able to talk to in thousands of years, right? Well, she’s been kidnapped by people who probably want to copy her Citizen’s Mark, and use it to operate Abominator devices. That’ll put them into the hands of people with no connection to the Abominators at all. I’m guessing you don’t want that. So, if you want to help, here’s what you have to do. Tell her where we are if we get into range, and help her find her way back to us.

“Do you agree? Flash little sparkles once if you do, and twice if you don’t. If you’re not interested, I can put you back in the locker, but without Cassie around who knows if anyone will ever take you out again?”

18 thoughts on “Ready or Not: Part 5”

  1. LOL thanks for the great read and laugh Jim. I can’t wait to see the looks Nick gets from the non-League members when they see him talking to a gun.

  2. At the far end, the League Jet hummed, the fusion plant and the engines inside it already powered up. Needs a “were” or a “had” in there. “At the far end, the League Jet hummed, the fusion plant and the engines inside it [were or had] already powered up”

    “I saw Cassie’s [shelf or locker or stuff], and thought of a way I might be able to find her.”

    Talking to a gun. Sean must be thinking that Nick has lost it.

  3. “Flash little sparkles” — Hah. Perfect.

    Also, @Evil Twin: I disagree, and I’m pretty sure Jim will too. There’s nothing wrong and plenty of things right with that sentence.


  4. Christopher/Lingy/Piccolo/Evil Twin: Yeah. Talking to a gun without the context would be pretty weird–which is of course one thing that’s fun about it.

    The sad thing is that without Cassie as the main character, there’s no good reason to “hear” it talk. It can’t communicate directly to anyone without the Citizen’s Mark.

    Fortunately there are other ways to communicate.

    Hg: Sparkles are cool.

    Evil Twin/Hg: Still going back and forth actually… I can see both sentences with or without them. Right now, I’m tempted to leave things alone and see what Anna at 1889 Labs thinks when we get to putting this out as a novel.

  5. It doesn’t seem like “sparkles” in one of the Abominator preferred means of communication. I agree it is too bad the gun won’t get to talk for now, because I wonder what kind of burning-everything-inspired snark it might have in response

  6. An intelligent gun you can talk to? Reminds me of a Niven short story in which a slaver weapon like that is found in a stasis box, and nearly stolen by the Kzinti. A quick Google found it: “The Soft Weapon”, pub.1967. Hopefully Cassie’s doesn’t have a ‘total conversion’ mode!

    Also – do the other characters realise that Nick can over-ride the locks on the lockers, I wonder.

  7. Cassie: How did you find me?
    Nick: I used a little emotional blackmail on your alien killing machine. I think it likes you.

  8. If it can’t communicate to non-Cassies, did we have anything to indicate it can even hear Nick? Also even if it can’t hear nick, who knows (on the same line with Psychlone Ranger), maybe it sits whereever it is forlornly calling, “Cassie, Cassie, wherefore art thou, my Cassie.” In which case it still might do what Nick wants even if it can’t hear Nick.

  9. Josh: I’m confident that the gun will find a way to communicate one way or the other.

    Dave: I haven’t read that one, but after I looked it up, I was amused to learn that it had been turned into an animated Star Trek episode. For all I know, I might have seen that.

    Psychlone Ranger: That’s the good point of sentient weapons. Emotional blackmail is a possibility. A not so good point? So is murderous rage.

    Notto Mention: We will find out more about that. That said, Cassie’s senses were enhanced while she was using it (though mostly her sight), so some sensing abilities are definitely built in.

  10. Everyone’s going to be real confused when Nick walks into the plane holding a shiny little gun, talking to it, rubbing along the barrel, and then says to them, “I call it Mr. Sparkles.”

  11. …And also, such clones would have pretty much exactly as much connection to the Abominators as Cassie does, seeing as Cassie herself is a clone of the original Commando…

  12. Pinkhair: A good point. If the gun wants to make sure no one uses Abominator tech that isn’t authorized it makes sense. If it just wants someone to talk to, knowing might make it less likely to help.

    With regards to Cassie, her connection to the Abominators hasn’t specifically been said. What has been said is that she was created by Dr. Mind. It’s reasonable to assume that he spliced in the Citizen’s Mark that allows her access to Abominator stuff when he gender switched Captain Commando’s DNA and possibly put in other stuff too. What his connection to the Abominators is has not been described.

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