The Battle of Grand Lake: Part 4

Kayla watched as two men in powered armor stepped through the sewer tunnel entrance Sydney and Camille had used.

Both suits were gray with bulky chests, and wide, stubby legs. The chests and legs opened in the front. Chris stepped out first. Dressed in what could best be described as a black flight suit, Chris stood a little over six feet tall.

She knew he’d been shorter than that when she’d last seen him.

He helped his grandfather out of his armor, or tried to. After he had one leg out, Gerald Cannon said, “You can let go, I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?”

Gerald glared at him, and stepped out, wobbling a little before he put his left leg on the floor. From the expression on Chris’ face, Kayla guessed that it was everything he could do not to reach out and steady the older man.

Except for their age, they looked surprisingly alike—tall with heavy features. Gerald had long ago grown into his. Chris still looked gawky.

Gerald, meanwhile, turned his head toward the table and frowned.

“Is this everybody? What can you do? Let’s run down the list. If we’re going to win, I need to know exactly what you can do.”

Marcus raised an eyebrow. “So you’re going to be running this thing?”

“Damn straight. I’ve been at this longer than you have. I was working with the League the last time we had alien problems. Took down my share of the Abominators’ people. Didn’t get much credit for it, but I didn’t expect much.”

Shaking his head, Marcus said, “That’s not how we’ve been doing things. Even when the old League’s been involved, they’ve still left it mostly to us. We’ve been switching off.”

Gerald’s expression left no illusions about where he stood on that. His face scrunched up. “You take the leader’s name off some list? How are you still alive?”

Before Marcus could answer, Camille spoke. “Between the three of us,” she included Haley and Sydney in a gesture, “we haven’t chosen an official leader, but Night Cat’s been field leader. I think she should lead this too.”

Haley started talking as Camille stopped. “We weren’t asking for someone to lead the group. We were looking for help, and I know that you can be a lot of help. None of us know anything about alien technology. Besides, we’ll need someone leading in the field who’s in good health. You had a heart attack when we were fighting, and please don’t take this wrong, but you haven’t been out in the field for a long time.”

Kayla found herself looking from one to the other. Gerald’s face had turned red, and all she could think was that she didn’t want him to have another heart attack right here.

“Grandpa,” Chris said.

With a grunt, Gerald walked up to the table. “I’m still going to need to know what you can do.”

“Sure,” Marcus said, “shapeshifting.”

“Gravity control.” Camille’s tone hinted that she might still be annoyed.

“Magnetism,” Sydney said, “but only when it’s close to me.”

Gerald nodded at Haley. “I know your powers too well already. In the interest of fairness, here’s what we’ve got: two suits of powered armor with lasers, and a machine-gun loaded with rounds that worked back when I was helping with the Abominators. I’ve got a few things I’d like to test, but nothing worth mentioning.”

Haley crossed her arms. “Okay. You said that you thought the aliens were here for something. What?”

The older man shrugged. “No idea. We confiscated all of the Abominator tech we could, and I never found where it went. I always figured the Rocket stored it in here somewhere, or maybe found a way to destroy it.”

Chris blinked. “You don’t know what happened to it? Huh.”

“I don’t have to know everything. I was a criminal, but I knew where to stop. I saw what the Abominators were like, and I didn’t want to become like them. Besides, the Rocket and the Rhino weren’t telling anyone what they were doing with that stuff.”

Haley glanced toward the lab, and the doors to storage rooms that appeared one after the other every twenty feet down the wall. “I wonder if Nick knows?”

Kayla waved her hand to get Haley’s attention. “I… don’t think so. When he gave me the tour, he said he couldn’t get into a couple of the storage rooms, but he didn’t seem worried about it. He was sure it would be in his grandfather’s records somewhere.”

Gerald laughed. “It probably will too. Joe documented goddamn everything. I remember fighting him once, and realizing that one of his new weapons used part of my design from ten years before. He’d studied it, and reverse engineered it.”

Chris nodded slowly. “Were you angry?”

Gerald snorted. “Not for a second. I’d copied his designs when I got started, and we kept on copying each others for our entire careers. I think we both learned our best tricks from each other.”

As they talked Kayla realized that Haley was trying to catch her eye. “Kayla, which rooms can’t Nick get in?”

Kayla pointed at the wall. “Those two. The second and third from the end.”

The rooms didn’t appear to be any different from any other—concrete walls, and doors had no windows. Kayla stared, wondering what lay behind them.

14 thoughts on “The Battle of Grand Lake: Part 4”

  1. Nick has trained in hand to hand combat since young & had his grandfather train him to use it while in armour, Chris was an Ordinary High School Student until recently, so I guess Chris’ fighting style will be focused on getting out of close combat & bringing in moar dakka & heavy artillery?

  2. We confiscated all [of the] Abominator tech we could, I never found [out] where it went.

  3. I know they aren’t propper english, but that actually sounds how somone would talk. I know I went through a phase where I dropped a lot of words from any given sentence –

  4. I can see that with certain generations. I picture members of the League Version 2.0 dropping words, etc. However, this is the original Man Machine. A proud gentleman who has been through a lot (economic troubles, World War II, alien invasions) who is also a genius mechanic-tinkerer. As a kid, he reverse engineered the Rocket’s designs and made his own niche. Given his background and pride (see his speech– hell, he had a heart attack, can barely ambulate yet he still wants to suit up with his grandson and unleash unholy hell on some evil aliens– Pew. Pew. Pew.), I don’t seem him dropping words. Rather, I see his speech being overly crisp, to the point, slightly terse but still very proper.

  5. You don’t get much more terse than that. He doesn’t have be “proper” in the traditional sense or embrace the Queen’s English. Just be quick, to the point and a proud man who doesn’t like to be challenged by those he deems inferior. “Damn straight. I’ve been at this longer than you have. I was working with the League the last time we had alien problems. Took down my share of the Abominators’ people. Didn’t get much credit for it, but I didn’t expect much.”

  6. I had an idea for a codename for Chris that he might not mind – so long as Kayla gives it to him


    I suppose that he also wouldn’t mind if Sydney or Camille gave it to him

  7. The rooms didn’t appear to be any different from any other—concrete walls, and doors had no windows. Kayla stared, wondering what lay behind them.

    This feels a bit off, strained. It’s a complex comparison though a comparison of multiples against many. Lots of ways to fix it, but I came up with this.

    The concrete walls and windowless doors of the two mystery rooms matched the walls and doors of the other rooms. Kayla stared, wondering what lay behind them.

  8. Oh,

    I think I know what’s behind at least one of the doors. The abominator tech lair-cleaning robot. It’s obviously been lost for decades.

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