Stardock: Part 10

I wondered what Lim thought we’d even be able to do. Sure, Izzy might be able to redirect part of a planetary bombardment on her own, but she wouldn’t be able to handle all of it. She’d be kind of redundant to whatever Guardian and the various Defenders units were likely to manage. The ones that couldn’t fly in space had ships made at Stardock to work with.

With a slightly sick feeling, I wondered what Haley hoped to do. The jet might be able to destroy or redirect asteroids. For that matter, Camille could control gravity, and I didn’t know what her limits were. If she was anything like Sean, her half brother, she might be extremely powerful.

Lim’s voice broke through my thoughts. “Everyone! Now! I’ll brief you when you’re done.”

And you know, the crazy thing was that some people were already in costume. They were mostly the sort of people who were so excited to be supers that they wore their costume under their clothes all the time. The rest were speedsters, or in the military. I suspected the military students were required to wear their costumes under their clothes.

The rest of the people in the room were thinking more or less what I was. There were more than one hundred of us in a mostly unheated hangar. It had a bathroom and an office, but there wasn’t much space in either. Most of us were in our civvies, and if we wanted to change into costume, we’d have to strip down to underwear first. I wouldn’t have wanted to personally, but most people didn’t have a choice.

Of course, I didn’t have to deal with that. All I had to do was ditch my coat and activate the Rocket suit, but I sympathized. The League had problems with too little privacy too. Thanks to the fact that the original League was all male except for my grandma, we only had one locker room and set of showers.

Blake, Cassie and I looked at each other.

Cassie snorted. “Come on, Nick. Start stripping.”

I gave a half smile. “Thanks, but no.”

Blake nodded toward a group of students and luggage. “My stuff’s over there. We gotta talk more about this after we change.”

“Yeah,” I said, hoping that we wouldn’t be going into combat very soon.

Cassie had put her stuff along together with the rest of us, so we walked together, but not quickly enough. Lim was still shouting at everyone.

It wasn’t that people weren’t moving. We knew what might be at stake, and some people were running toward their luggage. About that time, a wall of darkness appeared halfway down the back wall of the hangar. It went about thirty feet long. A second length of wall appeared next to it. The “Women” appeared above the first section, and “Men” above the second.

I laughed. At least someone was thinking. I even knew who. I hadn’t seen much of her, but I remembered that Shannon, former member of Justice Fist, had darkness generating powers. That showed a greater degree of control than I thought she’d had.

Almost in the same moment, a woman’s voice carried over every other noise. It was impossible not to listen to it. “You can use it if you want.” I recognized the voice too. It wasn’t Shannon. Her cousin Julie had the power to force people to follow any commands she made with her voice.

This was a more subtle use of her power than I’d seen from her so far too. She’d used it to get our attention without forcing us to do something. That was probably a good thing.

People started grabbing their costumes and running over to the impromptu changing areas. Of course, not everybody did. I didn’t need to. I turned my fake suitcase on its side, stepped onto it, and the Rocket suit enveloped me. As the systems came online, I realized that Cassie had stepped behind a beam and changed there.

She stepped away from it most of the way into her Captain Commando costume, pulling the mask over her face in front of me, and picking up her sword and the gun.

As she strapped the sword to her back, she glanced over at me, and said, “Looks like I’m not giving this back yet.”

About ten feet past her, a red haired girl who I’d seen before, but never talked to, pulled a necklace out from under her shirt, and touched the gem that hung on it. When she did, it felt like I’d stepped inside a light show. Everything behind her disappeared, subsumed into rapidly changing colors (red, green, blue, pink…). Meanwhile, as she hovered in the air, all sorts of visual noise appeared around her–hearts, sparkles, shining symbols that looked like letters in a language I’d never seen before.

Plus, I swear I heard music playing in the background.

When it was all over, she’d changed from wearing a fairly normal button down shirt and slacks to wearing plate mail armor, and carrying a spear. Mind you, it was visually complex plate mail. Instead of being dull gray metal, dark red gemlike material outlined every section. The same was true with the spear.

Her hair, in the meantime, had grown at least a foot longer.

So, that was crazy.

Everyone who wasn’t standing behind Shannon’s walls of darkness had to be staring at her. I know I was.

She blushed, and said, “Sorry.”

“No problem,” I said.

To Daniel, I asked, Did I really just see an anime transformation sequence in real life?

Magic is weird, he thought back.

I couldn’t argue with him. Over the past year, my weirdness threshold had gotten higher, but not, apparently, this high.

Probably at that moment, I should have asked her name, and gotten to know her a little, making her feel a little more comfortable in the process, but I didn’t. I noticed that people were beginning to gather at the front of the hangar, Daniel and Izzy among them.

I started walking, following Cassie. Anime girl followed after us.

Okay, I had to get her real name. Calling her “anime girl” was going to get old quickly.

We made it to the front with a lot of people. We weren’t first, but we were near the front. After a minute, Isaac Lim started.

“As you all know, some group launched several asteroids in our direction. We don’t know precisely when, but they were discovered this morning. We’ve sent several spaceships out to handle it as well as a number of superheroes, including Guardian. A number of our people, particularly Mr. Intuition, think that this is a trap or distraction of some kind, but since we can’t let any of the asteroids hit, we’re responding with almost everything we have.”

Lim paused looking at the crowd.

“The good news is that we’ve got every reason to believe we can stop the asteroids from hitting. The bad news is that even a shattered asteroid is a threat. We’ll be watching for that and for anything that our enemies try to do on Earth while many of our most powerful heroes are in space.

“You’ll be protecting New York City along with NYC’s regular hero teams, but you’ll also be here to defend Stardock. That’s why we’re going to have the more mobile teams go back there immediately, taking as many people as they can. The rest of us will join them as soon as possible.”

21 thoughts on “Stardock: Part 10”

  1. “Did I really just see an anime transformation sequence in real life?”

    This from a guy who just did a Mechanical Sequence with Technology Porn…

  2. My question is – are they smart enough to start moving the civilians out of Stardock now, at the earliest time when there is a potential threat?

    Or are they going to wait till there’s a definite threat with only a couple minutes left to get people out of the way, and sacrifice lots of teen capes trying to give civilians more time that they wouldn’t have needed if they started evacuating ASAP?.

  3. Is Nick still around 30 seconds or has he managed to improve any? Sure, being eaten by your suitcase like a high-tech slime may look teh koolz, but unlike miss Lovely Valkyrie or whomever there, his transformation sequence won’t cause onlookers to just stand there looking rather than, say, open fire.

    1. Amaral: A good point. Nick’s still at about 30 seconds.

      That said, Nick’s suit’s transformation is unlikely to draw the attention of the entire neighborhood even if he’s initially out of sight.

  4. In response to Sir Gecko, I also wish to add that even though the rangers had more members, they still took less time to transform. My theory is that like-colored costumes and transformations resonate with each other and help to speed things up for subsequent transformers of the same color. I also think that differing colors leave a residual aura that others have to “push through,” which slows them down. This is just speculation.

  5. Cultist, I think one of the main ideas they (meaning TV Tropes and/or Linkara) have is that it overloads the morphing grid somehow, like it draws too much of each spectrum of power to one place, and then the excess has to be shunted off, creating explosions or something.

    Hey, it’s not any creepier than studying the intricacies of teen girls getting stuffed into magical Japanese school uniforms.

  6. I still think Nick should look into making the suit wearable at all times.

    Three modes:

    Storage mode: Not worn

    Caution mode: Most of the mass is a removable backpack, but there is a strength enhancing exoskeleton that fits under clothes (which allows him to carry the backpack)

    Ready mode: Fully enabled suit.

    Also – if the new suit is that much heavier, he needs more surface area for his feet, which should be relatively easy for the suit to manage dynamically.

    These are certainly things that our boy genius might want to think about after the current emergency is over, of course 🙂

  7. Or, how about this…advanced holographic capabilities capable of making him appear to be out of the suit, even when he’s in it. Basically, you project regular Nick in the relevant spots and, any place where the suit sticks out past him, you analyze the environment and project it onto it in such a way that it always appears you’re looking at something past that particular space.

    Though it won’t be the same as summoning up Tupac for a performance…mainly because that wasn’t actually a hologram. Entertaining, though.

  8. I have just imagined a scene which has me busting out laughing.

    It’s been explained in the past that when Haley transforms into Night Cat, her feet grow pretty substantially, likely the food bones themselves, between heel and toes, and to a lesser extent the toes themselves, so that she had the forward-and-backward knee look of most quadruped, and walks on her toes.

    Haley can pick up some pretty heavy things, like cars. But when she does pick them up, she doesn’t sink into the ground.

    So Nick and Haley are talking, and he makes the connection. “Haley, can I see your feet?” I want to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

  9. I don’t recall whether we’ve been told if his suit is comfortable… but I just don’t think it would be comfortable enough to want to wear it all the time. Also, I can’t imagine how smelly it would get if he did wear it all the time.

    Evil Goldhound: We’d best get going, I can smell the rocket coming
    Dynamo Safebreaker: I trust your nose. We’ll come back for the gold. Hurry, even I can smell him now!

  10. Heh I was imagining something like this as a caution mode suit, except wearable under clothing, because it’s in superheroland.

    Wake up in the morning, shower, shave, put on your skinsuit, step into the exoskeleton, and then put on the rest of your clothes.

    Wearing the fully enclosed suit all the time, yea, that would be bad. Haley would leave him because of the smell, I’m fairly sure.

    1. Haley’s probably not all that fond of his smell after using the suit even now.

      Wearing a suit all the time would probably cause Nick to smell distinctly like a foot.

  11. I like that Nick has a new suit, it’s just that the only time he’s taken it out he got nearly trashed. You say that his old suit would have not survived, but other than that, the new suit don’t *feel* any more powerful. I’m excited to see what it can do!

    1. The new suit’s not massively more powerful, but it’s got better protection for its weight and more options for weapons.

      To make it look good, the best choice for its first outing would have been easier enemies…

  12. Considering how many times Nick has had to wear a sub-par fighting suit because his main suit had problems, a suit that can mostly repair itself is, ah, a big bonus overall.

  13. “symbols that looked letters” (probably ‘like’ letters) I also feel like it should be: Then “Women” not The “Women”.
    Also experiencing a bit of a disconnect narratively, as here Nick says “I had to get her real name” whereas he previously said “I could write more about hanging out in our rooms” … if he’s in the future writing, he would know her name, but if he’s in the present writing, well, he can’t be writing NOW. It’s not so much that he should use her name though, so maybe it’s just the proximity of those two quotes, present tense wise?

    At any rate, I laughed HARD once I realized what was going on, with the anime shoutout. Not to mention Daniel’s reaction. I would never have expected a scene like that, so coupled with the fact that I know more about anime than traditional superheros, it was awesome.

  14. Word missing: “symbols that looked letters in a language I’d never seen before.”

    Should be: “symbols that looked like letters in a language I’d never seen before.”

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