Chancy Connections: Part 16

Talk about loaded questions, and not one I could lie about either. Haley could tell when I was lying by smelling my reactions and hearing my heart speed up.

Izzy, I knew, had a sense of hearing that could substitute for sight, and not just sight—X-Ray vision. I couldn’t lie. I also couldn’t tell the truth. This was Daniel’s relationship. He should talk about it with her.

As I thought about it, my heart sped up. Haley gave me a sidelong glance, and frowned.

I said, “He’s talked about you. I can’t say much about it since he told me in confidence, but yes.”

That was pretty much the ideal response. She couldn’t demand I tell her what he’d said. Well, not politely anyhow.

She exhaled, giving me a look I couldn’t place. “I hope you can say something. We’ve been spending time together since fall. I’ve got the feeling he wants to be more than friends, but it doesn’t seem to be happening.”

“You should talk to him,” I said.

Her shoulders slumped a little. “He has to know already.”

I nodded. “I’m sure he does, but it’s complicated. I know he likes you.”

She nodded, but then stopped, finally saying, “But why hasn’t he said anything?”

I opened my mouth, started to reply and stopped, and then did it again, looking her in the face and saying, “I don’t know.

Not waiting for Izzy to reply, Haley said, “Talk to him. I think it can work.”

Izzy eyes went from Haley to me, and back. “Does everyone know about this?”

Haley shook her head. “I overheard, but I’m the only one, and I wasn’t trying to listen.”

From the tension in Izzy’s body, it seemed more likely that she was worrying about it, but she said, “I understand how that happens.”

Then she sighed. “Here they come.”

Haley muttered, “Oh, shit.”

I hadn’t been paying attention, but now that the fight was over, people were beginning to overcome their fear of being burned to death by lasers, or crushed by falling alien machinery.

A few cars had started to move on our side of the highway. Somehow, despite destroying eight alien robots, and not paying any special attention to where they landed, we hadn’t managed to block the highway.

That was a good thing. It meant people could go about their business, and most of them were. Unfortunately, the ones who weren’t were coming for us.

That probably makes it sound more ominous than it actually was. At first, we only had to worry about two high school girls with their hands in their pockets, stepping through the field with its knee high, brown grass, and clumps of old snow. Brief clouds appeared in front of their mouths as they talked.

Then a guy joined them. He wore a black overcoat, and pointed his iPhone at us, talking nonstop with the girls.

A thirty-something man in jeans and a puffy, green winter coat led a boy and a girl, neither of them older than seven, toward us.

That wasn’t all of them by any stretch. At least twenty people were outside their cars and standing in the field. Worse, most of them had cameras.

Izzy pulled away from us. “I need to leave.”

“We’ll be fine,” Haley said. “Go.”

Before I could argue, she’d lifted off, slowly at first, but then so quickly I couldn’t follow her with my eyes.

Almost at the same time, I realized I could hear sirens in the distance.

I’d been hoping to ask her to carry one of the alien machines back to HQ, and then leave.

All I managed to do was say, “Oh,” as she disappeared.

“I wanted her to grab one,” I told Haley.

Haley watched a crowd gather next to the robot she’d ripped apart. “Sorry. I didn’t know. We could tie one to the roof of the van.”

I shook my head, and by extension the Rocket suit’s helmet. “Too big. We’d stand out too much—except maybe during deer season.”

Her fangs and claws had been absorbed back into her body. Haley crossed her arms, saying, “I hate hunting.”

Then she looked up at me and asked, “Are you tired? I’m sore.”

“A little. I’m glad you’re only sore.” I glanced around at the growing crowd. None of them had quite managed to get up the nerve to walk toward us.

Haley touched my armor, tracing a long line down my chest that the suit hadn’t had enough material to repair fully. “They never touched me,” she said. “How far down did you get?”

“Around seventeen percent.”

Her eyes widened. “Seventeen percent?”

We were both lucky it hadn’t gone longer.

We started walking toward the van, making it to the doors before someone shouted, “Can I have your autograph?”

I only signed one (on the back of an ATM receipt) before stepping inside.

I got out of my armor after turning the windows reflective, and drove away after Haley changed.

The police knocked on the doors in the meantime, but we ignored them. They didn’t block us from leaving.

As we rolled down the highway, the van repaired itself, filling in the laser scoring on its sides and roof. The Rocket suit did the same in the back. By the time we’d get back to Grand Lake, both would look undamaged, and I’d pull into an alley somewhere, and have the van change color and license plate numbers.

That wouldn’t happen for more than an hour though. Only ten minutes after the fight, Vaughn called. I put him through on the van’s speakers.

“Hey guys, I’m too late, right?”

Haley’s face showed a flash of annoyance, and then she laughed.

“Not a problem,” I said. “How much weight do you think you could blow into the air, and carry home? Two tons?”

Vaughn hesitated. “Um… That might be doable. Why?”

I told him.

19 thoughts on “Chancy Connections: Part 16”

  1. Wish my car self-repaired at times. Bloody kids and their scooters scratching it…and dustcarts always seem to manage to take out the wing mirrors no matter how I park!

  2. Silas, the technology for self repairing paint is already researched and there is at least one car model using it. Very expensive, though.

    I really wonder what Nick will learn from the bots. But probably not much since the possibility that they were destroyed certainly was taken into account by their manufacturer.

  3. Remember when doing the autopsy, keep any and all self repairing technology away from the corpse unless you want to end up in a alien robot zombie apokalips.

  4. “Coming up soon, an alien robot autopsy, and a little bit more new stuff than you likely suspect…”

    Gah, thanks Joe! How are we meant to sleep now??

  5. I wonder what nick will learn from the autopsy and if he will use that knowledge to make his new armored suit stronger??

  6. DWwolf: That’s true, but the results of the last one will matter in the next.

    Silas: Dustcarts? I’m guessing that’s what people in the UK call garbage trucks?

    Eduardo: That would be very cool. Self-repairing paint jobs would be amazingly convenient.

    Rain: Alas, it’s got some limits as we’ll likely discover, but it’s a cool idea.

    Someguy: “Alien Robot Zombie Apokalips” ought to be the name of a band.

    Lingy: Sleep is optional.

    Patrick: That remains to be seen… But it will at least be coming up soon.

  7. One of the things I like about this story is the little details – for example, Haley telling Izzy to go ahead and leave, which is perfectly logical from her point of view, while Nick doesn’t quite talk fast enough. Little things like that help make the characters and setting real. At the moment, it seems like just an inconvenience, although it could end up as something more, I suppose, but that’s my point: it’s a case of something happening organically. Reality is messy like that, which helps make this world and the people who live in it more real (to me, at least).
    On a different note, I wonder how much the suit’s functionality degrades as it’s protective value drops, and how prone the self-repair functions are to damage. You can’t build it without weaknesses, after all; the self-repairing suit might be better in longer engagements, or for short engagements that are close together, but I figure the old-style Rocket suits are probably better for some things, including just about any single epic battle that doesn’t go on too long. At the very least, the new suit must have software or something that tells it how to repair itself, so damage to that might prevent it from doing so, or slow the process down.

  8. “but, I’m the only one”

    Should be “but I’m the only one”

    Ooooh, fancy “self-repairing” armor and van. Well, isn’t someone full of themselves? Get back to me when you have bioregenerative nanotechnology! And an energy sheath! With blackjack, and hookers!

    I can control my arm via receivers if my neck is broken! Take that, Rocket. Build a pipe and smoke it.

  9. Curious George: Legion tends to be more a plot story than a character story, but getting the characters right is essential too. Thus, I like it when things feel organic and messy because that’s how reality feels to me.

    As for the suit’s limitations… Those we’ll have to see in action.

    PG:I’m confident World Domination in Retrospect will always have more hookers.

  10. On a catchup run, after neglecting my feedly for months. Still living your writing Jim. Does Vaughn have a nickname now – Van?

  11. Actually, I’m thinking he can incorporate a little of the new suit technology into the old suit. It would be very convenient to have a little self patch ability in the old suit to fix cracks and holes while still keeping the advantages of the suit.

  12. Jim, I find it a bit interesting that you say it’s more a plot story than a character one, given how you’ve gone to the trouble of investigating different character points of view. Granted they’re generally in the form of moving the plot, but in a serial that’s kind of par for the course.

    Or, wait, does that mean Izzy and Daniel’s relationship connects to the plot? Perhaps she’s a mind controlled double agent!! … Or not. Nice to see Vaughn finding new ways of using his skills too, btw.

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