Enter the Larry: Part 16

Larry zoomed in on Lim’s feet, and realized why Lim and Cheryl hadn’t run away. Their feet were surrounded by the concrete.

He supposed that qualified as earth somehow. Could be elementals weren’t fussy about the difference. He shook his head. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that Lim and Cheryl were hostages until he took Sloan down.

He was about to tell Alexis more when a deep voice from behind them said, “Rhino. Come down to the hangar, and bring your friend.”

Larry checked the helmet screen. The creature behind him appeared to be made of concrete, and vaguely human-shaped.

As he watched, it sank into the sidewalk next to the hangar, leaving an odd indentation that reminded him of a face.

“I don’t think we’ve got a choice. We’d better go.”

Talking softly, Alexis asked, “Are you sure? I might be able to come at him from above before he even knew it.”

“I’m pretty sure the ground’s got ears. I doubt we’d get away with it.”

Alexis, or at least his helmet, angled toward the indentation in the sidewalk. “A good point.”

They started walking. Larry didn’t stop, but he didn’t hurry either. He figured as long has he moved steadily forward Sloan wouldn’t complain.

Larry wondered if that would give him enough time to think of a way out of it. It didn’t take much to guess that Sloan would try to get them to surrender—or step out of their armor—which was basically the same thing. He tried to think of something to do, but nothing was coming.

He thought about what he knew about Sloan. The guy hadn’t been trained as a wizard. He’d found a book and trained himself. Last time they’d met, Larry had caught hints that Sloan had made a supernatural deal that had gone wrong. He wished he knew details.

There had to be some way to use that.

And then they were at the hangar.

They’d crossed the distance, coming to a stop when Sloan held up his left hand (with a flourish). “No further!” It reminded Larry of stage magicians he’d seen. All Sloan needed was a hat, an infinite number of scarves, and an assistant.

“Sure, Sloan. Been a while.”

“Rhino.” Sloan’s voice sounded less impressive when it came from his mouth than when an earth elemental used it. It wasn’t nearly as deep, for one. “Before you try to attack me,” Sloan continued. “Take a look at your plane.”

Larry turned turned his attention to the DC-3. Something had ripped it in half just behind the wings. The body of the plane had been stretched in a way that reminded him of chewing gum.

“Huh,” Larry said. “I always thought it needed a little more leg room. Can’t say I like how it’s in two pieces though.”

Sloan frowned. “You’re less funny than you think you are.”

“I guess so. Hey, sacrifice any kids to volcanos lately? I never understood what was going on with that.”

Sloan’s frown deepened into a grimace. He showed teeth.

“Seriously,” Larry said, “an entire school bus of kids. Did you need the rest of them in case you missed with the first one?”

A humanoid form began to grow out of the runway, not stopping until it was twice the height of the Frog suit. Chunks of black tar made up the body, mixed with gray rocks, concrete, and brown dirt.

Over a cracking sound mixed with a strange slurping noise, Sloan shouted, “You have no idea what you ruined that day, you idiot!”

“Yeah? Was it you gaining complete control over a volcano that would have allowed you to threaten most of the Northwest? Because I’m against that.”

The earth elemental punched him, striking so quickly that it knocked Larry and the Frog suit backward. They flipped three times, ending up on the other side of the runway, next to a stand of palm trees.

Larry shook his head. He’d remembered one thing about Sloan. The mage could only control one elemental and its abilities at a time—which meant that if it was fighting him, Sloan couldn’t do much else.

With any luck, somebody would think of something while he was fighting. Preferably before the elemental killed him.

Larry clicked, and the Frog suit righted itself. Even as it did, the elemental loomed, punching again. This time, the suit hit the stand of trees, cracking bark and causing the helmet’s HUD to blink.

Larry clicked a button, and the suit righted itself a second time. This time, he made it leap sideways almost instantly, moving as the elemental’s fist hit the tree behind him.

It shattered and fell over onto the runway. Larry landed twenty feet to the right of the elemental. Not waiting for its response, he fired off a missile at it.

The missile hit the elemental on its side. Rocks, dirt, and bits of concrete flew everywhere, some of them hitting Larry’s armor.

It didn’t take the elemental out, though. It roared in pain, and leapt toward him.

Larry didn’t like his odds.

17 thoughts on “Enter the Larry: Part 16”

  1. @PG: Great one…. Maybe Cheryl and Lim can do that – they are basically paper pushers…. right?

  2. I dig the elementals not being limited to natural materials. Concrete is just re-arranged rock, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t be able to use it.

    The asphalt may be stretching it a bit, as the petroleum portion would likely be outside of the elemental’s control, being an organic material. It’s a question of whether or not that layer of organic matter would interfere with the its control over the inorganic portion, I suppose.


  3. Luke: I thought about that. Even normal concrete has occasionally had organic elements added (blood, for one kind of concrete, during Roman times). My justification is that some of the organic stuff just comes along for the ride when the elemental builds itself out of the inorganic parts. I suppose there are some cases where it might make it harder to control inorganic parts if they’re partially surrounded by organic parts?. I’ll have to think about that a little more.

    Cleftes: Some things amuse me too much to be a throwaway joke.

    PG/Hg/Notto: Scissors would definitely be right out.

    Roger: I suspect you’re joking, but, it’s funny to wonder how the world would be different if there were publicized examples of real magic.

    I’d bet that there’d be a strong increase in the amount of fraudulent magic as well.

  4. It’s a question of how much of magic is ‘magicy’, and how much of it is ‘sciencey’. Bones are primarily calcium, blood has iron in it. Could the elemental effect those, to what degree? Does living organic vs dead organic make a difference, and to what degree? If I’d swallowed a bag of pebbles, what might it be able to do to me?

    Since we’re dealing with spirits, the rules can be totally arbirtrary, as long as they’re consistent. And I’m not bagging on you for the asphalt. I think it’s neat that the organic bits are getting dragged along, and it offers some good imagery.

    I’m mostly curious what effect that it’ll have. If half of its body solid living stone/concrete, and the other half is basicly shards and pebbles with a sticky coating being held together by an invisible force, what difference does that make in how it fights, and how you fight it?

  5. Yeah, from an “elemental magic” perspective, the concept of the four elements is totally about folk-level perceptions. Oil and other petro-chemicals come out of the ground. There are part of the “earth”, and are therefore included in the concept of an “earth elemental”. ‘Cause really, otherwise? If you controlled water elementals, you’d be moving the ocean and leaving the salt behind.


  6. Luke/Hg: I lean heavily toward the “science-ignorant” perspective when it comes to magic (when I’m thinking about it instead of simply reacting). There is a certain level of fun in the opposite (the “magic is just another form of science” way of handling it), but for the most part I go with the idea of “they’re two separate systems” and do my best to have a pre-modern perspective.

    Working out the details is sometimes a challenge though because I can’t help but think through a perspective that’s generally aware of how things work.

  7. I like the separate systems version as well. It just always seems kind of stupid to lump it in with what we know of science to me. Plus, saves on having to explain how there’s magic and how it is really something natural anyway.

    “Nope, it’s magic, can’t comprehend it the same way you can natural phenomena, so don’t bother.”

    Also maintains a diversity of powersets. You can have various magically derived characters that you can’t have with just technology, and conflicts between the tech and magic sides. Like magic zombies and raised skeletons brought up by a necromancer who has to defend himself against some mad scientist who created a zombie plague with mutated versions that feature unique abilities and drawbacks cropping up occasionally.

  8. I play tabletop rpg’s. One game I used to run in, the DM worked it so that magic and science don’t normally get along and it was rare to have both working well at the same time/place.

    As for commenting frequency, I hold that me posting “Wow, this is great, thanks for all your work on this!” twice a week would get somewhat repetitive 😀

  9. Nice. As long as magic has rules, and the rules are self-consistent (even if one of those rules is ‘magic itself isn’t consistent’) I’m a happy camper.

    I’m still curious if having a chewy half and a crunchy half affects the way the elemental fights, and is fought.

  10. Any sedimentary rock is going to have some organic material in it, and obviously earth is absolutely loaded with it. Earth elementals with organic material shouldn’t be an issue.

    Sloan’s wrong about Larry. He /is/ pretty funny.

  11. Rock isn’t just rock. I mean, you have metal in it that effects certain things about it. Can’t control the rock without bringing the metal. Which sounds like the name of an epic song.

    My experience is limited, but you have ferruginous sandstone for example. Sandstone cemented by bits of iron that drifted in a current or something. When you got rock made up of all the various crap that gets dumped somewhere, you’re going to wind up with some metal. No matter what, if you’re controlling rocks, you’re bringing something else along for the ride.

    Ooh, interesting ideas out there. A fossil elemental made up of crystallized or permineralized fossils? Maybe even an entire chomping T-Rex that way. A petrified wood elemental is a possibility too.

  12. Some elemental magic could be affected by organic matter because some life energy may be lifted behind.

  13. Soil usually includes organic materials and an Earth elemental made of soil, or of mud/clay as in a certain jewish legend is not a problem.
    In the Order of the Stick the evil mage uses uranium, iridium, titanium an other elementals and notice that it is stupid and outdated tradition using only earth, water, fire and earth.
    Even because in traditional chinese lore you would have to add metal and wood.

    But, I am not criticizing, following outdated medieval rules for magic is not bad at all, it solves a series of problems and avoids the: “all mages have to be scientists first” plot that actually leads magic to dominate the scenario.

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