Stardock: Part 35

“Push the button, Control,” Haley talked at a normal volume, but the intensity in her voice made it seem louder.

Kayla’s voice came through. She started to say, “I…” hesitated, and said, “You’re all right there.”

“We’ll be fine,” Haley said, sounding just as intense as before. “Now!”

Man-machine’s voice came over the comm at almost the same time, “Now, dammit!”

The HUD showed them in the forest above HQ, not far from the forest entrance. From their movements, they had to be fighting. A dot labeled “Control” stood further away from the group–almost undoubtedly Kayla in the powered armor we’d made for her when we fought the Cabal.

I’d made that armor more with the idea of allowing her to watch a fight in safety and provide us information than fighting. And that’s what she appeared to be doing this time. She had observation bots out and streaming information to the rest of them. I could have followed their feed, and seen what they were fighting, making the fight about more than moving dots.

Maybe I would have, but as I considered it, Kayla said, “Okay, okay, I’ll do it. One, two, three–”

Then all the dots turned grey, and the feed went dead.

I clicked out of the feed, and tried clicking in again. I joined the Heroes League channel, but nothing was on it except for the members that were here.

The system diagnostics were registering that the HQ broadcast tower was down. We still had the tower downtown–the one near the League’s official office, the one I’d blown up.

It wasn’t picking up any signals.

I calmed myself, reminding myself everything I’d seen was completely consistent with using an EMP. I could easily see Chris or his grandfather trying that one. I hadn’t been completely successful when I’d tried it, but they probably didn’t know it.

Plus, even if Haley tried to tell them, I could completely see Man-machine ignoring her.

I could also imagine Man-machine figuring out a way to affect them anyway.

It didn’t change the fact that while Haley might be safe, she also might be dead, or fighting for her life, and I couldn’t do a thing about it.

Travis’ voice broke into my thoughts. “Rocket, what do you think?”

“Uh?” I said.

They had been talking about something.

Travis clenched his right hand. “Haven’t you been listening?”

I paused, not sure if I should try to be truthful or not.

“It’s okay,” Izzy said, her voice quiet. She’d probably heard everything.

“It’s not okay,” the intensity in his voice reminding me of Haley’s. “You can’t be zoning out now–”

“Night Wolf,” Rachel said, using the same tone of voice she used when she was trying to be patient with me. “It’s not a good time for an argument.”

I thought about telling him why I’d gotten distracted, but we didn’t need to have both of us distracted.

Travis started talking when she stopped, obviously trying to ignore Rachel. “Rocket, how well do you know their tech? Do you think they know where we are, or do we have a chance to sneak up on them?”

I started to say, “I’d be more surprised if they didn’t know where we were,” but only got up to the “I’d–”

Then the Hrrnna interupted me. In tones that sounded close, but not quite like human speech, the Hrrnna said, “Earth creatures, surrender. We know that we cannot match your Abominator bred might, but think you should consider this. We long ago became used to fighting hopeless battles against your kind, and will sell our lives dearly.

“Even now, we’ve traveled across the water and come to one of your cities. If you should destroy the fusion generator, this ship will fall and kill hundreds if not thousands of your people. Even if you see no value in our lives, don’t you see some value in theirs, or even your own? I tell you now that we have rigged a portion of this ship to explode when it touches your Earth.

“If you value your lives, you won’t test our resolve.”

I checked our position via the GPS. It was right. We were nearing land now. If we’d been in Grand Lake, it might have been an empty threat on a Sunday night. In New York, we probably would kill people. People actually lived in New York City’s downtown. The evacuation from what I’d seen had mostly been of Manhattan.

Vaughn and Sean were still following us. The rest hadn’t managed to keep up. I didn’t know exactly how much ship they could hold, but I had a bad feeling that this ship would be more than they could handle.

Travis, in the meantime had decided to talk back. “Yeah,” he growled, “suppose we decide to let you win, what happens?”

The Hrrnna replied, still sounding emotionless, filtered through its translating device. “You go home to your families, and we repair this ship, and continue our exile in this horrific sector of space. We simply want to live.”

In the face of of this, Travis started laughing. “You just want to live? How are we supposed to believe that? You just spent most of the last few months trying to kill us three times over. I’ve got a better suggestion, how about you surrender, and we’ll stop trying to send you to Hell where you belong.”

“Very well,” the Hrrnna said, “then we shall die together.”

The ship tilted, aiming toward the ground.

20 thoughts on “Stardock: Part 35”

  1. You know, I think this might be the closest I’ve gotten to writing a literal cliffhanger in a long time.

    Oh, and on another note, I’ve been surprised at that number of votes LoN has gotten on Top Web Fiction–last I checked it was higher than 70 which is almost twice normal.

  2. Get the monkeys to rebel…. Get the monkeys to rebel…. By now your translator should have picked up their lingo and if not, didn’t Izzy’s embarrassing episode have something to do with Monkeys?

    And ack, my brain is not pulling up what EMP stands for – all I can come up with is Experience Music Project! (A museum in Seattle)

    And yes, I agree with Eduardo – you made up for it with two cliff hangers.

  3. Electro Magnetic Pulse:

    Minor EMP events, and especially pulse trains, cause low levels of electrical noise or interference which can affect the operation of susceptible devices. For example a common problem in the mid-twentieth century was the interference emitted by the ignition systems of gasoline engines, which caused radio sets to crackle and TV sets to show stripes on the screen. Laws had to be introduced to make vehicle manufacturers fit interference suppressors.

    At a higher level an EMP can induce a spark, for example when fuelling a gasoline-engined vehicle. Such sparks have been known to cause fuel-air explosions and precautions must be taken to prevent them.

    A large EMP can induce high currents and voltages in the victim, damaging electrical equipment or disrupting its function.

    A very large EMP event such as a lightning strike is also capable of damaging objects such as trees, buildings and aircraft directly, either through heating effects or the disruptive effects of the very large magnetic field generated by the current. An indirect effect can be electrical fires caused by heating. These damaging effects have led to the introduction of EMP weapons. Most engineered structures and systems require some form of protection against lightning to be designed in.

  4. EMP also occurs when a nuclear weapon goes off, though usually it’s more of a secondary aspect to a weapon that’s already pretty bad, though it can get even worse at high altitude. There, nuclear weapons can actually do far more EMP damage to earth, with tests in the 50s causing damage in electronics from New Zealand to Hawaii. Unless my map is wrong, that’s a big enough distance to damage electronics throughout any country smaller than Russia with just one weapon.

    Like giant squid, as bad as EMP is on earth, it’s even worse in space.

  5. There was a story that a single nuclear weapon could destroy the US power grid. Apparently it was a published paper in the 80’s. What it failed to mention is that doing so required a number of circumstances that made it effectively impossible – it was well-intentioned idiots giving science a bad name. Same with the paper on nuclear winter; not going to happen (The way it was presented in those papers.)

  6. There was a high altitude nuclear test in the 1950s that damaged electronics from New Zealand to Hawaii.

    It’s clear that the nuke is mightier than the pen, which is mightier than the sword. The real important question: is the sword mightier than the nuke, like rock paper scissors, or is this more like a hierarchy?

  7. EMP in space is actually not that terribly exciting. It’s just another form of EM energy blast wave, dramatically weakening based on the surface area of a rapidly expanding sphere.

    Earth’s atmosphere actually makes EMP worse by reflecting and channeling it, even magnifying it in the right situations.

  8. “You know, I think this might be the closest I’ve gotten to writing a literal cliffhanger…”

    Naturally, the day I catch up=P Good chapter, though, and my hometown survived another chapter! ‘Course, that’ll be moot if they say that Queens can stay, blow the Bronx away, and sink Manhattan out at sea…

    1. I find it very funny that someone reading this lives near Medford. Of course I was also fairly deliberate about not having the climax of the story (or at least not all of it) take place in NYC. At that point, it became a question of where on Long Island it would be, and there are a few people reading who live in the area.

      So I should have expected it.

  9. I get that Nick refuses to call Sean “The Power,” but why hasn’t he thought of using “TP?” ^_~

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