Stardock: Part 21

I didn’t need the observation bots to hear a familiar voice broadcast across the building’s clearing and into the woods.

“Humans, evacuate the building and put down your arms. Listen to us, and we may leave you and your young ones alive. It’s more than you’ve any right to expect.”

The warm, tenor voice sounded human, but too perfect. Even if I hadn’t noticed, the Rocket suit pegged the voice as artificial.

In fact, I’d recognized it as a very specific artificial voice–the leader (or at least spokesman) of the Hrrnna.

He’d sounded nicer when we’d talked to him, but given that he had to have been responsible for killing the more peace loving Hrrnna on Earth, and he’d probably been behind providing the bombs that could have destroyed most of the human race…

Well, given all that, he probably wasn’t very nice.

Meanwhile, no one came out of the building.

In the clearing, a group of eight aliens broke away from the main group and started walking toward the building’s front doors. None of them were Hrrnna, I noticed. Six legged, horselike aliens likely wouldn’t fit very well in small spaces.

By contrast, the single Xiniti went along with seven humanoid aliens in power armor. The Xiniti wore liquid silver armor exactly like the armor I’d seen on Brooke–not that that was a surprise. Guardian had gotten Brooke’s armor from the Xiniti.

“You have a remarkable command of the Abominators’ technology. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a primitive race with a such a knack for it.

“That’s no compliment, creatures. The Abominators were a plague on all thinking peoples–except perhaps yours. Yours they changed into caricatures of the elder races and molded you into servants. I should feel sorry for you. You are as much victims as the rest of us.”

The voice stopped, but it sounded more like taking a breath.

I quietly hoped he’d keep on talking long enough for Rachel to take his ship down.

It would be amazing, and funny, in a way. He probably didn’t even know that taking a villain down at the end of his monologue was a cliche.

“Unfortunately,” the perfect voice said, “I feel nothing for you, and I’m pledged to end your kind even if it means my death. Come out, Dr. Griffin. Bring your herd with you, and you will put off their death for another day.”

The voice stopped again, and I wondered how much longer he’d go.

Not long, as it turned out. I could only assume he’d been reading TVTropes, or possibly the Evil Overlord List.

The group of humanoids lifted their weapons, and with the Xiniti in front began to walk toward the front door.

“This is your last chance,” the Hrrnna leader said. “If you give me no indication that you plan to surrender, we will kill you all. It gives me no great joy to order the deaths of primitives or their young, but your planet gives shelter to the herd of those who slaughtered my people.

“For this, we will leave our footprints in your skulls.”

As he’d talked, I’d noticed Cassie’s presence square blink off and then on. She wore her armor–in the Captain Commando setting. Like her regular costume, it was blue with a U.S. flag on the chest.

If people weren’t observant, they might not notice the difference between that costume and her regular one on first glance. Instants later, they’d realize that no skin showed at all, and that she looked just a touch bulkier, and a little taller.

I’d tried to keep her proportions the same.

Cassie’s voice came over the comm. “We’re not going to let them kill kids. I say we stop them from going in, fuck the ships’ guns.”

“I’m trying to figure out how,” I began.

We hadn’t attracted any attention from the ship’s guns yet, but that was only because we hadn’t done anything. The moment we did, the ships would start firing, and they’d probably have some way to share targets. Then all the troops would start firing at us, and there were a lot of them.

“Fuck figuring out how,” Cassie said. “Sometimes you can’t think it through first.”

Jaclyn broke into the conversation. “I think we can do it if Izzy and I keep moving. Captain Commando, if you want to be a part of it, you’ll need to stand away from everyone else, or they’ll all become targets. Look, I’ll tell you when to start firing.”

“Yeah?” Cassie sounded like she wanted to argue.

She didn’t get the chance. The humanoid soldiers spoiled it. The Xiniti pointed his arm at the transparent doors, and they shattered.

A woman appeared. Dark haired with light brown skin, she wore a grey sweatshirt that said “Fordham University” in red letters under a drawing of a bull. Also, blue jeans.

She wasn’t alone. A boy and a girl held her hands, and a man walked next to her. He was red haired, and walked stiffly.

Men, women and children walked behind them. All of them wore clothes that looked like they’d been planning to spend Sunday night at home with the family instead of with alien technology.

“I’m Dr. Griffin,” the woman in front said. She let go of her children’s hands.

“I’m in charge of this lab. Your business is with me.”

She stepped over the shattered remains of the doors with her hands in the air.

One of the humanoids grabbed her by the throat, its armored fingers surrounding her neck.

The Hrrnna’s translator said, “For taking responsibility for your people, you have my respect. Your death will be quick.”

Maybe it would have, but a burning light came from Cassie’s bluish-green gun, and the humanoid’s armored head exploded.

27 thoughts on “Stardock: Part 21”

  1. Finally got this up. It always seems to take longer than I expect. Ah well…

    On a similar note, I’ve gotten edits on book 2 back from my editor and working through them and making then necessary changes is also taking longer than I’d expect.

    I’m beginning to think this is either generally true about writing or possibly about anything I do.

    Maybe both.

  2. Is Cassie more bloodthirsty than she used to be? She was always impulsive and enjoyed fighting, but here she just sniped a guy’s head off. Admittedly they were going to do that anyway, but it’s a bit off of my estimation of her personality.

    Maybe the gun needs to be smashed along with all the stuff in the lab.

  3. “Gun, I want you to aim for an area without vital organs so they’ll survive. No killing. Think you can do that?”

    “Sure I can, no problem.”

    *zaps the alien in the head*

    “Gun, I said non-vital!”

    “They can’t survive their heads blowing off. I must have been sick the day they taught that at gun academy.” *whistling sound*

  4. Exploding head at close range of Dr. Griffin, beware of skull fragment shrapnel, alien biohazard body fluids & loss of balance as your inner ear ring from the explosion.

  5. Typo: “if you want to ba part”, should presumably be ‘be’.

    I think this posting needs to be read with the previous one, so you keep the background on ‘Dr. Griffin’ in your head while reading.

    You do wonder just how precise the control of The Gun is over the damage it does, even though it seems remarkably enthusiastic about doing more and larger amounts of damage… Can The Gun control where the debris goes from when it explodes things, for example? Maybe even direct where any dissipated energy goes?

    I could imagine Cassie telling it to do that, either directly, or implicitly by giving clear orders that Dr. Griffin wasn’t to be injured directly or indirectly by The Gun’s atack…

    I do think “More Dakka” might be a good (nik)name for The Gun… Though a certain familiarity with “Warhammer 40k” is required…

  6. This doesn’t seem inconsistent with Cassie’s past actions to me. She’s always been more into acting than planning, but at the same time actually wanted to protect people. I really can’t imagine her waiting a second if it seemed like it might get someone killed. Think back to when she first got the gun; at one point she was avoiding firing because she didn’t want to give away he position, but when civilians were in clear and immediate danger she didn’t hesitate to do that.And she has some baggage regarding parent-child relatonships, so it’s not hard to imagine her wanting Dr. Griffin to get home with (presumably) her family.


  7. I don’t think Cassie is being inconsistent, but the entire point here, as pointed out by the hero formerly known as Blue, is that no one gets out alive. They literally have to kill every alien here, so in light of that fact, she just saved them having to put him down later.

    1. It is a little shorter. Lately chapters have been around 1300 words. This was around 1000. I tend to think I should go to bed by 3am at latest.

      I like longer chapters, but my employers prefers that I stay awake at work.

  8. Personally, I don’t think Wildblow is human. My theory is that he’s an AI, and therefore can think and write much faster than any human.

  9. Killing the alien might be the right call for her to make. For what I mean, look at ‘Cassie”, parts 17-21. Glowing Tentacle guy was a threat to her, her team, and the hostages – she still treated him with kid gloves, past any point I would consider rational. It has been only been a few months, has she really changed her priorities so much?

  10. Heh Jim,

    I write a minimum of 3000 words every other day, and I can’t fully grasp how Wildbow does his chapters. Not only does he have a lot of word volume, but the complexity inside his writing is absurd.

    He’s got a degree related to language use though (not just English, it’s something else), and I’m sure that helps him immensely. Actually studying how people use language seems like a fine way to become an incredible author, provided that you have the muses on your side as well. And he’s certainly got some fine muses.

    I still cannot believe some of the 10,000+ word chapters he pulled in Wurm in a single day. Then again, if I understand right, he’s in good company with writers like David Weber who been heard to mention a personal daily goal of 10,000 words.

    1. Farmerbob1: If I remember correctly, it’s a linguistics degree. It would help, but I think what’s helped him most is writing, and deliberately trying to write faster and better.

  11. Oh they aren’t, Belial?

    You know, Deep Ones can have offspring with humans that can then have offspring of their own. That’s pretty darn closely related to humanity, you know. That’s like Neanderthal closeness right there.

    Horses and asses having mules? Sterile. Humans and chimps? Can’t even have babies. Deep Ones and Humans? Get it on like Donkey Kong.

    I guess that brings new meaning to the phrase “Sleeping with the fishes”.

  12. @Psycho Gecko:

    Reproduction potential is irrelevant. Lots of parasites and monsters can have offspring with humans. The full list includes things as despicable as sparkly vampires and zombies (hyman/zombie offspring is named “Gheden” according to certain books that shall not be named). Or, you know, elves.

    For someone to belong to the definition “people” they must accept the social contract which goes something like this;
    “If you want to belong to our team you’ll look like us, dress in the same range of clothes as us, be part of the same economic system as us, speak the same range of languages and enjoy the same range of activities and stuff. Otherwise prepare to face burning hate and people wearing white bedsheets.”

    Which is where the nuclear supercavitating torpedoes become relevant.

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