The Unusual Suspects: Part 3

I thought about that. With everything that had happened between the two of us, I still didn’t see Sean as evil. I did think he was massively, hugely messed up. From what I’d seen, his father was close to, if not actually, abusive, and had cheated on Sean’s mom with at least one person (Camille’s mom), and maybe more. Growing up with someone like that wasn’t exactly a head start.

It wasn’t a surprise then that Sean had bullied people (I wasn’t the only one). After Haley told me about how their relationship ended, I’d overheard more stories about relationships he’d had. He’d sounded controlling, and manipulative.

Considered rationally, he wasn’t the kind of person I’d want around me.

When I was honest with myself though, it wasn’t because I’d thought things through rationally that I didn’t want him around. It was because I thought he was a jerk.

From across the table, Cassie caught my eye. “Nick, are you there?”


She shrugged, “You didn’t seem to be paying attention.”

Feeling myself frown, I said, “I was. I got caught up in thinking about Sean. I don’t want him in the League, but if everyone else is included, and he’s not… Well, I just hope it doesn’t push him somehow. In a bad way, I mean.”

Daniel nodded thoughtfully. “It might.”

I began to open my mouth to ask about it, but he continued talking.

“For something like this though, I think it comes down to one question. If your life’s on the line, do you feel better knowing he’s got your back?”

That didn’t require a lot of thought.

“No,” I said. “To be fair, when we were fighting Rook, he did everything he was asked to even if he didn’t want to. On the other hand, if Flick hadn’t been there, I really think we’d have been arguing the whole time.”

Allowing a second for what I’d said to sink in, Daniel followed it up with, “If you don’t think you can work with him, that’s all the reason we need. This is life and death, not a club. I don’t think that we can stop by just saying ‘no’ though. I think that if he ever asks, he’s got to get honest feedback on why he wasn’t included. It won’t make him feel better, but it might make him think.”

Jaclyn took out a notepad, and wrote something down. “There’s something else we should think about. We need to have a formal process for bringing people in, and we should figure out what we’re going to tell them if we don’t. Some of them are going to argue, and Sean’s probably one of them. If we do have to tell him why he’s not welcome, let’s not have Nick be the bearer of that bad news.”

Maybe I should have been offended that she didn’t think I could handle it, but I wasn’t. I was relieved.

Not letting anyone else in to comment, she continued, “Who else should we think about?”

I had ideas. “Chris Cannon. He wasn’t interested before, but he did suit up when the Cabal’s people were after us. He didn’t have to, you know? Plus, if we do think we need a shapeshifter, we could call in Courtney. She knows who we are anyway.”

We spent the rest of the meal tossing around names. After that, we all went and hung around in Jaclyn’s room. She’d been assigned to room with someone named Brianna. Brianna’s twin sister Brittany had been assigned to room with Jenny Nakamura (Flame Legion) who I’d known for ages.

Brianna and Brittany had grown up in the San Francisco supers compound, and knew a lot of people themselves, most of whom seemed to come through the room.

We didn’t get any team business done after that.

* * *

The next morning was all wrong for a Saturday. I had to report to the gym in full armor by 6am—which meant that I had to be at the cafeteria by five something if I wanted to eat.

I decided not to. I didn’t feel hungry. Plus putting the Rocket suit on took time, and I needed to be on time because Lee (as Günther) was expecting me to lead drills and exercises for part of the class.

That’s how I found myself standing in the armory off of the gym at 5:43am. It held weapons of all kinds—swords, spears, pistols, rifles, and more. As of the day before, it also held the Rocket suit.

I pulled it out of it’s packaging in pieces, very much wishing that the technology I’d been working on for Cassie’s suit was ready for primetime. Putting on the Rocket suit took ten minutes, five if I didn’t bother to check connections as I went.

Plus, all the pieces were heavier than they looked. They weren’t as heavy as they could have been, or even as they used to be, but they were heavy enough.

Staring at the pieces on the floor, I considered whether I’d be better off lying down on the back of the chest section and then pulling the breastplate over my front, or, whether I might be able to put it on while standing.

Back in HQ, I had couple steel frames where the big pieces could hang. It made it easier. Unfortunately, they weren’t the kind of thing I could easily pack up.

As I decided I might as well lay down, no matter how silly it would look, a voice behind me said, “Do you need any help?

Turning, I saw Tara standing in the doorway. In a blue, subtly armored unitard, and with her normal, blond hair color, she didn’t look quite like she had in the video Jeremy showed me.

What was the same was that she stood about my height, if not a little taller, and even if she didn’t look like a bodybuilder, the way she stood gave an impression of strength.

Rachel had told me that Tara was bubbly, but if so, she wasn’t in that moment.

“Help would be great,” I said.

22 thoughts on “The Unusual Suspects: Part 3”

  1. Ok, so… We’re looking for a new method to put on complex and heavy duty power armor. The things he’s work out for Cassie’s armor might one day work for his, but not now. Can you think up a new method of donning armor (by ones self) that doesn’t rip off any of the many iterations of Iron man? listed below are some of them. (not all I’m sure so don’t yell at me if I forget one)

    big old mechanical arms/room that puts it on for you
    Small package (ie Suitcase) that expands over you
    Hidden inside you body somehow
    Automatically flies at you and attaches itself

  2. Clamshell the central body portion, basically you step into the suit and it closes around you. Probably not the easiest way to do it in a hurry, but if you’re an armor super, suiting up’s never going to be exactly ‘easy’.

  3. I’m going to disagree with the notion of the suitcase armor, armor hidden inside you, and armor that flies at you.

    Any armor that has to go from one shape to another risks flaws in its protection because it has to spend some time in another shape, with the ability to move and change. Extra parts and making smaller plating that fits into different shapes are going to be iffy. Then, if it gets damaged, the specialized way of taking it off may not work anymore.

    It’s just not going to be as good at what it does as a purpose-built suit already in the appropriate shape.

    With suitcase armor, he’d have to explain why he’s carrying around a package with the same coloring and markings of the Rocket armor. Plus, weight issues. That’s basically the weight of all his armor in the form of one suitcase, to be carried with one arm. If you have to use two, you’ll look suspicious.

    With armor hidden inside you, your body will have a negative reaction to the metal and circuitry being kept inside your body. Whenever it moves to outside your body, you will bleed out. It will also be difficult to move because your body will weighed down with all that armor inside it. Since empty space is a limited commodity in a body, you’ll also have armor hidden in all kinds of places, restricting your mobility and giving you away because of unnatural bulges or growths.

    Flying armor would probably severely injury you the first time it smacked into you going too fast.

    Now, some method of teleporting the armor onto you would be good, but you’d need a system capable of very precise lock-ons to pull that one off.

  4. Small self propelled indivual units, that merge to combine into a larger whole;

    I’m thinking of the “replicators” from the stargate universe……although having them crawl all over you might feel a wee bit freaky.

  5. In one of the Iron Man cartoons, Tony had the armor hidden inside his sports car. All he had to do was sit in the driver seat, activate the system, and it would automatically armor up around him pretty quickly. While not quite as portable as a suitcase, a car is by definition pretty portable, unusually no further away than the parking lot outside. And it would be possible to fly it onsite in the League Jet on long trips. (I think they have that much space.)

    That said, Nick seems to be pretty close with the mechanism he’s using for Cassie’s suit, even if it’s not ready for prime time. Probably months or less away, rather than years.

    1. Thing I’m worried about is what he looses by making it lighter. There’s no change in mobility because he’s not physically moving the armor, and suddenly, his punches are weaker.

  6. Memory materials. Armor as a that basically has a hidden form and a armor form.
    Roach-bot deployed armor. Roach-bots carry the armor to him and help with the armoring process.

  7. The man has access to a phaser. If his sister is giving off some sort of exotic particle in the process of going intangible, it’s not unreasonable that he might be able to observe them and mimic the effect. If so, he should figure out a way to make portions of his suit intangible so he can simply step into the dang thing.

    Secondary option is to have the back open up so you could hop in. You’d need the gyroscopes online to prevent the thing from falling on your and crushing you, and It would be like jumping into a onesie. Not sure how well that would work.

    Third option is to figure out how teleportation works, and build a suit that fits over his stealth suit. Line the stealth suit with markers that give the main suit targets to aim for, teleport the suit around yourself to fit.

    fourth option is applied gravitics, though this would probably need some assistance, or at least compliance, from the ship to figure out how it’s anti-gravity works, well enough to miniturize it and plunk it into the suit. You hit a button and the various “heavy bits” of the armor become lightweight enough to slip on quickly. Added points for retaining gravitic systems for combat, would likely also make the rocket suit faster.

    fifth option, since we’re already in the realm of really silly technologies, is to have the suit exists perpetually as an invisible haze that floats around him. When he needs to suit up, it can magnetically contract around him to form the suit.

  8. Well, back from holiday, catching up on all my web serials. A good chapter so far.
    I love palindrome’s suggestions, particually the intangable, teleportation or anti gravity ideas. They sound practical, in an impossible way.

  9. the intangible idea has merit. Armor that he is always wearing, but it out of phase/offset dimentionally so he never feels like it is on and is unseen until activated.

    Of course, this would also lead to some comments about paranoia or activation at the wrong moments….. not to mention “beta testing mishaps”..

    I could see a mishaps where he tries going to the bathroom and at the wrong moment, the pants flicker in and out of solidity at embarassing moments. I mean, the worst moment? yeah, that’s when tech fails

  10. Wow. 24 hours to Archive binge…

    I’ll agree with Gecko.

    Nick’s best bet for the speedy donning of armor is pre-assembly.

    Assemble as many parts as he can ahead of time. This way he steps in and merely completes the assembly, rather than manually assembling the armor every time.

    I’m not saying BUILD it pre-assembled. The modularity of the armor is what makes modification, upkeep and repair of the armor feasible. Unlike the way Marvel treated IM (every new suit is a completely new build).

    Rocket’s version of the “suitcase armor” is essentially the stealth suit.

    Granted, that plays all hell with

  11. In the paragraph were nick said

    I had ideas. “Chris Cannon. He wasn’t interested before, if he did suit up when the Cabal’s people were after us. He didn’t have to, you know?

    Would “He wasn’t interested before, BUT he did suit up ” make more sense?

    As for putting on his armor, the setup in the lab/HQ while sub optimal, it works so he might mention ideas but will probably find better uses of his time atm then upgrading it. He might rig some of the car suggestions into the college van, but for the weekends and potential mobile command centers, he should make special packing crates. Include some very basic tools, two full reloads on roach-bots and backups for any simple to swap out subsystems.
    In the crates he could put telescoping rods like the travel fishing poles, but made of armor themselves so they can take the weight. He just needs to make sure to latch the front and back chest to him before releasing them from the arms so it doesn’t tip over. Also if he cant get the antigrav small enough to fit in the armor, or doesn’t want it in once on, it could clamp to the outside or as part of packing crate it could float up to form a “hard point” in thin air for him to run ropes and pulleys from.

  12. I think the idea of the gravity manipulation to make the armour lighter would probably be the best idea- as not only would it help in donning the suit, but it could also allow for more options in battle- lessen gravity for more rapid ascent or better fuel efficiency in flight, or increase mass/gravity for powered dives and greater difficulty in knocking him off course.

    Speaking as someone who actually does studies of plate armour and hopes to one day be able to construct it… You want as few, solid, pieces on each part of the body as possible. Ideally, you’d have a single tubular piece of armour-grade material around each joint-separated bodypart- one for the lower arm, one for the upper arm, one for the upper torso, one for the lower torso- with larger shells (again, single piece) covering the joints (pauldrons). However, for mobility, the joint-coverings need to be articulated to more than one piece, or be made of flexible material. To get it on and off, they can’t all be single pieces (the torso needs a front and back plate, for example) unless you have the phasing or teleporting technology.

    The ideal armour would be a single crystal metallo-ceramic with intra-crystalline polymerization- essentially a ceramic with the toughness of plastic and the hardness of metal, where the crystal structure as a whole is a single piece, giving incredible rigidity on a macro scale, but the molecular bonds within the crystal have flex to them, meaning that the possibility of fracture is severely lessened. Any large-scale joints or joinings of ‘plates’ will have inherent weak points- and building the overall shapes to be structurally supportive and likely to deflect impact instead of absorbing it works even better. Tubes are inherently difficult to deform. Curved sheets less so.

  13. Just noticed, Hyperstrike’s another refugee from that ill-fated Primal Earth. Not where I started, but a nice place to live for awhile. Villains never stop.

    I’m pretty sure Chris Cannon could help him with his armor in those suggestions. Seems his grandpa’s armor was more modular in design like that. Reminds me of BattleTech’s omnimechs. The traditional designs were built for their loadout or certain varying loadouts. Omnimechs were built in such a way that you could drastically change up the weapons systems in less time. Slip in some short range missile, replace the machine guns with pulse lasers, and drop the gauss rifle for an autocannon and extra ammo. Those kinds of changes would take a lot longer or just be undoable in the older models, which is one reason omnimechs became a little more valuable.

    Their Land-Air Mechs, though, are one reason why I doubt that armor that transforms would be so effective. Going from mech to aerofighter caused both forms to be less effective than the normal versions.

  14. Roger/Jeff in Idaho: Thanks for noticing the typos. They’re fixed now.

    I’d like to respond to the ideas here, but I don’t want to blow future stuff at all, so…

  15. From what I’ve seen of the universe technology here, if I were Nick, I would consider designing it something like this.

    The same type of materials that Cassie’s new armor is made of, but you don’t really care how heavy it is, because it’s default shape is a simple exoskeleton that runs behind the legs, torso, and arms. The detachable backpack carries most of the mass of the suit.

    This would allow him to remain in the exo skeleton at all times when wearing long pants and long shirt.

    Wake up in the morning, take a shower. Dry off, put on a light bodysuit and underwear, then step into the exo skeleton standing next to the bed. Then a few seconds later remove the backpack with most of the armor mass in it, and get dressed, then put the backpack back on,

    Caught far from a telephone booth, janitor’s closet, or restroom with lockable doors? The suit can form itself under your clothing, except hands and helmet.

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