Rachel in Infinity City: Part 11

We didn’t even have time to start thinking for ourselves before we heard Julie’s voice again. Loudly, she said, “No one move!”

After a series of clicks, the lights came on and the door opened.

Julie stomped back into the room, took a breath, and glared at us as if whatever she was angry about were our fault.

“I hate clients interrupting me. When they do it again and again, I forget things. You know what I forgot? This. All of you, take off anything that might help you escape, even if it means you have to strip naked, and put it in a pile in front of me. Right there.”

She pointed at a spot on the fake wooden floor.

I’d worn a version of my costume under my clothes, so I did end up stripping. So did Travis and Tara.

I suppose it might have been more awkward if we weren’t all in mind control happy land, but still, I noticed that Rod and Samita only put two rings, Samita’s jacket, and their cellphones on the pile.

Lucky them.

Travis and I added our uniforms and League cellphones. Tara lay a white unitard there—leaving her in her underwear. Her physique reminded of Cassie’s—her muscles weren’t bulging everywhere, but they were defined. Tara was taller though.

Naturally because Julie hadn’t told us to put our clothes back on, we hadn’t.

It would be nice to think that she’d forgotten, but since she was selling us I wasn’t about to give her the benefit of the doubt. And I was right. She gave Travis a long look, smirked at me, and left, shutting the door behind her. It clicked a few times as she walked up the stairs, holding our costumes to her chest with one arm. She’d put on the rings, and put the phones in Samita’s jacket’s pockets.

Well, at least we had clothes–lying on the floor in their own piles. Jerk.

“Don’t move,” she’d said as she shut the door.

We stood there, waiting for our chance to do something just like last time, but with one difference. She’d forgotten to turn off the lights.

After what felt like ages, I could move. I picked my shirt off the floor, and pulled it over my head. Then I went for my pants.

Travis and Tara were doing the same.

I buttoned my pants and pulled up my zipper. “I hope we’re all thinking about how to get out.”

Travis grimaced. “I’m trying, but we could use your brother right now. He might enjoy the challenge.”

“No kidding. He would.” I frowned. “Assuming we get of of this, the rest of us need to cross train. I don’t know anything about disarming bombs. Do you?”

Travis shook his head. “No.”

Samita stared at the door, and stamped her foot. “I can’t do anything. I know spells that might help, but all my equipment’s in my jacket.”

Rod walked over to the door, and knocked on it with his hand. It made a solid sounding clunk. “Do you think she’s bluffing? Sure, she said everything will blow up, but I mean really… I can believe she’d set things up to explode if someone tries to punch through, but I’ve got a harder time believing she’s got stuff that detects every power or something.”

Travis nodded. “Makes sense to me, but I’m not a technical guy. I’d say let’s test it out, but the hard part’s going to be trying the stuff that doesn’t go boom before the stuff that does, right?”

“Well, yeah…” Rod’s speech trailed off, and he stood there, thinking.

Tara looked around the room, and entered the conversation with, “If it’s a choice between dying here or being given to the True, I’d prefer to die here.”

Travis shook his head, “What? Are you sure about that? I’m not saying they’re nice guys, but isn’t that a little extreme? Even if we can’t escape and they get you, you still might get away later.”

Tara nearly shouted her reply. “No! I’ll die either way. My Mom’s people killed her. The Blues will try to kill my dad. He’ll come here to save me, and they’ll kill me after they know he’s dead.”

She marched over to one of the walls. I thought for a second she might be about to punch it, but she didn’t. She raised her head, and looked up toward where the wall met the ceiling.

I didn’t know what she was thinking, but I could hope. We were in the basement. Looking up might mean that she was still thinking about how to get out.

“Let’s take this from another perspective,” Travis said, “if it explodes, who’s going to survive?”

“Me,” I said. “Unless she’s got one of those machines that stops me from phasing out.”

Rod looked up from the spot of floor he’d been staring at. “Me too—unless the explosion’s really big. I can take a lot as a troll, but there’s a limit.”

Travis nodded. “I know Rach can’t take anyone along with her. Any chance you could shield the rest of us?”

Rod shrugged. “If I know where the blast is coming from, sure. Unless it’s coming from all directions.”

“Hey,” I said, “maybe instead of assuming the blast will go off we should come up with a way to avoid it. If we could make earplugs, we’d have the advantage.”

“The problem is,” Samita said, “that she probably won’t come back alone.”

Rod cleared his throat. “Something I just thought of. What are the chances that she’d be bugging this room?”

19 thoughts on “Rachel in Infinity City: Part 11”

  1. It’d be great if they had a way to phase themselves into that same room in another dimension of Infinity City and escape that way.

  2. Hey this comment doesn’t have anything to do with the current storyline (which I am loving by the way! Rachel’s awesome!) but as I’ve finally finished my archive binge this is the only place I can think to ask it. Back in the first Book when the began the investigation against the Mayor and discovered the Cabal and Magnus, when Rocket was first bugging a house with roachbots he was warned to stay away from the FBI by another hero in a dark costume who didn’t seem much older than him. Then later Rockets dad told him a story about a teen he was counseling that told him that he had murdered someone in revenge for them killing his girlfriend and that the FBI had just told him to take a break and that his parents don’t know where he is anymore. At the time I though he was going to come back in some way in the fight against the Mayor and that the back story you get for him was just meant to make the Rocket a little more cautious about what he tells the FBI and that that could ruin his case. But now that you’ve introduced the Stapledon program it sounds as if Mystery Hero was a member of it. So now that the story is focussing on Stapledon is he going to come back because of all the morally dubious angles to the program or was he just a throwaway set piece for the first book?

  3. PG: It would. Alas, Rachel’s power doesn’t extend much past her own body.

    Query: Congratulations for catching up.

    Your first question though, and you’ve managed to stumble on the sort of question that I try not to answer–a question about the future that’s actually relevant to stuff that will happen.

    For now I’m just going to say that “Dark Cloak” was not a throwaway character. He will show up again.

  4. Haha Rod has a good point. I was thinking along the same lines, that Julie was just sitting upstairs and listening to their escape plans.

    They sure are in a pickle. Damn, I don’t want to wait for an update >.<

    And now I want a pickle. Or a cheeseburger with extra pickles… with a strawberry milkshake. Mmmm.


  5. Also, slight logic hiccup for me: you didn’t explicitly state what Julie took from the room when she left after she had them take off all that stuff. To me, that meant either she took everything, or she forgot it all. Given that Sam jacket is gone, but Travis and Rachel and Tara’s clothes are still there, neither of those options are true. Maybe just a quick line about what she scooped up would be helpful?


  6. Oh, darn. I’m such a horrible person, Jim. How will I ever live with myself?

    Oh wait…

    Never mind. I just remembered that I am ever so slightly evil.

    Plus, I’ve been urging people to fatten up ever since I started reading zombie fiction. You know, if the day finally comes and everyone around has had too many cheeseburgers and milkshakes, they’ll get eaten first. (:

  7. One of the rules of Zombieland is Cardio. Very important, at least if you’re dealing with fast zombies.

    Which reminds me, fuck you people who made World War Z a movie. No howl, running zombies, a focus on one character played by Brad Pitt? What, you couldn’t just have a guy going around, interviewing different characters, and then it shifting to show the things happening that they describe in the book? It had to be Brad Pitt and it had to be fast zombies? The fact that they’re slow is a huge thing in the book. That slow, implacable, undefeatable, howling wall of death moving towards you…

    I swear, it’s like these people take a popular work and go “Well, it’s popular, but we need to make it appeal to people. So let’s change all the stuff about it that made it popular in the hope that maybe we’ll get more popularity doing it completely different.” It’s like they got the guys behind the movie Wanted to do this. Screw you guys, I’m gonna go watch Iron Sky. It’s got motherfucking space Nazis.

    Also, what I meant about shifting into another dimension was how as you move through Infinity City you seem to shift through different dimensions. If they could just manage to do that, somehow, while staying in that room, they could then exit another dimension’s version of that room.

  8. Wow, that got you going, didn’t it, Gecko. O.O

    Ah, and sorry, Jim. The comments seem to be starting to be less about this update and more about certain diet choices, including: pickles, cheeseburgers and brains.

    Oh and I have a solution for their Julia problem. One of them, the strongest one in fact, should stick their fingers into their ears while the rest of them scream ‘la la la la la la’ over and over again when Julia enters the room. Then, the one that can’t hear the commands punches her right in the face or ovaries.

    Ovaries are an option for comedic purposes only.

  9. I go on fun tangents at times. Like that Dr. Gatling who was like “Well, maybe I can help people more if I make them not want to fight each other…” and wound up inventing the Gatling Gun.

    They know a healer and some of them have regenerative abilities. Puncture someone’s eardrums and have them tackle her when she returns. I advise a punch to the throat or a bit lower. Knock the air out of her or otherwise make it difficult to breathe.

    Then, as Raven suggested, you kick her so hard in the ovaries that in 9 months she’ll give birth to a shoe.

    Would her powers work if her tongue was cut out? Do they have to be able to understand the commands? What about other languages?

  10. The Gatling gun was intended to make war so horrific that nobody would ever want to start one again. Scientists seem to have a tendency to leave the true nature of humans out of their equations.

    Also, it was mentioned earlier in the story that Rachel can vary how far out of phase with her own universe she can go. If there are sensors that can pick that up there has to be a limit to how far out of phase they can detect her. Also, Julie said the walls were rigged against trying to escape. It could be that she’s fallen into a common trap of thinking two dimensionally. This was how Kirk was able to finally defeat Khan in the second movie.

  11. Except that thinking in another dimension here means thinking about the other dimensions you shift into. I’m personally in favor of it probably being a bluff. Julie doesn’t seem smart enough for thorough power detection. I’d say she may not be able to even put together a bomb without blowing herself up, but unfortunately bombs don’t require a lot of intelligence. They literally aren’t rocket science.

    Such abilities to command people tend to go to bad people, you know. I’m thinking most prominently of Marvel’s Purple Man, though I believe DC famously had Starro, the giant alien starfish thingy. They also had that lackey of Darkseid’s who got kicked out and shot the super-porno with Superman and Big Barda. I’ve brought him up before and I’d say Julie’s more like him in what she’d do with people.

    I don’t have enough knowledge of Starro, but Purple Man at least would be some serious trouble if she was more like him. For one thing, he’s got a badass name. Zebediah Killgrave. His supervillain name comes from the fact that he’s purple. Same accident that made him a fabulous minority also gave him the ability to control people through pheromones, so it is a localized effect like Julie’s, but lasts longer. Exceptions are made in some cases where a person’s willpower is extremely strong, like Dr. Doom.

    He has a daughter with similar powers and skin color by a woman he controlled into bed. And then there’s what he did to Jessica Jones. Pretty darn bad in that case and was part of the reason why she gave up the cape.

    It’d be interesting to have a story where a mind controller was preemptively restrained by the government or superheroes without having misused his abilities at all.

  12. Hmmmm….. How did alt-Julie know which things to pick up? Did she make any mistakes? Why didn’t anyone put their own body in the middle? Hmmmm…. Why is today still Wednesday and not Thursday?

  13. Hmmn. I might not have been clear enough.

    There was one pile of stuff where they put everything for her. Their own clothes were wherever they put them, but were not on that pile.

  14. I wonder if it would be possible to self-identify as unimportant, thus you are no one. That way when Julie says “No one move!” You walk up and punch her in the face.

  15. Really? No one mentioned this before? I get to be the pervert? … Okay, so, Rachel stripping, thank you for the cheesecake. It was even funny, in how childish Julie was portrayed afterwards. In fact I’m a little conflicted in how fun the imagery is for me, knowing Rachel would glare at me (or worse) for my reaction.

    In a slightly more serious vein, I find it interesting that Rachel chose to comment on Tara’s state of undress, to the exclusion of Travis. It makes perfect narrative sense – Rachel knows Travis even better than we readers do, while Tara is the newcomer. But I feel it also speaks a bit to her sexuality. No idea if that was subtle or totally subconscious, but I noticed it. (Perhaps I noticed WAY too much in this part…)

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