The Battle of Grand Lake: Part 11

She decided she didn’t have time to worry about the Battle Roombas even if they were firing giant boxing gloves at aliens.

Thinking about how weird her life had become was a waste of time.

On the floor ahead of her, the aliens moaned softly. Okay, she told herself, they’re not dead.

She had to admit she felt a touch of relief. She hadn’t wanted to kill anybody, and these aliens, whatever they were, were shaped like people. She couldn’t see through the facemask, but even that looked like a human could comfortably wear it–assuming they were big enough.

These guys were almost as big as Travis.

Lowering the gun, she walked back to the table, checking the display showing a map of HQ. If this was all of them, maybe she wouldn’t have to leave.

The map didn’t show anyone, but who was she kidding? It hadn’t shown anyone before they came in either. No, she knew what she had to do. She had to go into that hangar, shoot whatever she found there, and get out.

Haley was right. She’d been in these sort of situations before.

Kayla knew she didn’t belong in fights. Back when she and Cassie had been on the basketball team, her coach had called her a fighter once or twice, but this wasn’t the same.

Something beeped.

Kayla glanced over at the map. A new icon appeared. It was labeled with letter “C” and had an asterisk next to it.

Kayla had to think to remember what it meant, but she did. Nick had made new communicators for everyone. The asterisk indicated that someone was using the original League’s old tracking devices that didn’t do much more than act as distress beacons.

This had to be the real C then–Marcus’ and Jaclyn’s grandfather, the League’s speedster, who also happened to be strong and nearly invulnerable. Except for the fact that he couldn’t fly, he was very nearly the League’s version of Superman.

Even without flight, he’d still been able to jump an eighth of a mile.

He’d deliberately downplayed his abilities to the general public, but he must have been terrifying in a fight.

She’d have been excited to realize he was there except that she knew he was blind–macular degeneration.

The display didn’t show anyone guiding him.

She had no idea how he’d gotten down here or why he’d come, but she knew she couldn’t leave him where the aliens could take him.

He appeared to be heading into the hangar. Raising the gun, she walked toward it, avoiding the two aliens on the ground, hoping there weren’t any more waiting in the hangar.

She leaned carefully past the edge of the open door, she saw the hangar–the empty spot where the League jet normally would be, the Wolfmobile, and the Commando-cycle. Tools hung on the walls along with inventions too small to put in the middle of the floor, and too large to put in a drawer–a row of small jetpacks, spears, rifles…

A man walked down the middle of the room. Tall, with dark brown skin, and wearing a green suit with a hat, C didn’t move like a man in his nineties. Confident steps gave no hint of weakness or any reason that the sunglasses and white, blind person’s cane he carried were necessary.

She stepped into the hangar, still holding the gun.

He laughed. “If you’re holding the gun I think you’re holding, please stop pointing it at me. I don’t think my wife’s quite forgiven me for the last time I got hit by it.”

Kayla let the rifle’s barrel drop. “Sorry.”

“No reason to apologize, you’re alone and surrounded by enemies.” He closed the distance between them more quickly than she would have expected, but without moving especially quickly.

As he stopped in front of her, she stared. “How did you get here? Aren’t you blind?”

He nodded. “I am blind, but not entirely. The boy’s grandfather worked on a couple small things to help me get around when I need to.”

Now that she was close, she realized that his sunglasses were thicker than normal, and glowed a little around the edges of the lenses.

“Aren’t you supposed to not get involved with the new League’s problems?” Cassie had told her something like that.

He nodded slowly. “There are exceptions. There are some things we’re storing down here that we’d prefer not get back out into the world. Since I’m the only one of us left, it falls to me. Now, as for you, what are you doing here?”

“I’m supposed to be watching and directing people from a distance.”

He nodded. “That sounds important. Shouldn’t you be getting back to it?”

Kayla opened her mouth, unsure of what she should explain next. “I… Well, yes, but…”

In a deep voice, he said, “Spit it out, time’s not kind in these matters.”

Kayla glanced back into the main room. The aliens lay on the floor in their armor. “There’s a breach. They can get in. Night Cat told me to get out, and take a suit.”

He nodded again. “She was right, but she thought you were alone. You’re not. In my experience, two people can hold this place as long as we’ll need to tonight.”

Kayla swallowed, and said, “Okay.”

C said, “Good,” and took a step toward the main room.

Inside came a series of snapping sounds.

C stepped through the hangar door, and into the main room. “When you said there was a breach, and that they could get in, did you forget to say that they had already?”

Kayla followed him.

One of the aliens had opened up her armor and stood next to it. She wore a thin blue uniform that looked like it was supposed to be form fitting, but hung loosely–as if it had been made for someone taller.

Except for the fangs, and claws, the “alien” appeared in all ways human. With the fangs and claws, she looked very similar to Haley when she transformed–with one major exception.

The alien stared down at her chest as if she’d never seen it before.

“Hmmn,” C muttered, “This could get interesting.”

18 thoughts on “The Battle of Grand Lake: Part 11”

  1. And I finally get to have C appear, possibly for the first time since book one.

    In an ideal world I’d be able to have Larry appear too, but honestly, characters deserve a little time, and don’t want to make this story long enough to make an appearance by Larry necessary.

    Onto other matters… Next week I’ll be spending some time camping and some time at home. I’m not yet sure how this will impact my update schedule, but it might.

    Also… Top Web Fiction? Feel free to vote up Legion and any other story you like there.

  2. “She had no idea how he’d gotten down here or why he’d come, but she knew she couldn’t leave him where the aliens couuld take him.”

    Jim, you put the “u” in “could”. In fact, you’re so you, you put two “u”s in “could”!

    This ought to be one of the few times in history someone’s traded POWs in a prisoner sexchange.

  3. She-C huh? Yeah, I could (if you’re forgive the pun) see how Mrs. C could get upset with that.

    And poor invading alien.

    “Heyyyy! Where’d these boobs come from!”

    1. Alien’s thoughts:
      “Oh god. Oh god. Why would you even make that? What the everf***ing space whale is wrong with these people?”

      1. holy crap, that is about the funniest thing I read in the text or comments since I started reading this. Literal, actual unsuppressable lol. Thought of this from Abomination spawn it judt perfect! thank you!

        And Jim, loving this chapter – the occasional comic vignette is a wonderful contrast.

  4. @MadNinja: Assuming the gun works with the genetics of the target and that the target species follows the same male/female differences, it’s not surprising they fell over. Sudden change of center of gravity on top of changes to muscle density/strength could certainly do that to you. Plus, if they’re wearing powered armor that uses pressure sensors to match body and limb motions then it’s going to be even worse as such devices would be fitted for the individual. What I want to know is what’s the gun doing with the lost 20% to 40% body mass?

  5. @ Andrul: Probably burned off to biologically fuel the change. Loss of body mass due to starvation is a major thing for humans, so who’s to say the aliens don’t have the same “eat extra self mass to preserve life” function we do?

  6. But since the change is either temporary or reversible then returning to the male gender could potentially kill the target. Assuming proper body weight and not overweight like I am, you’re talking about reverting to a male form that is drastically underweight. Dropping 40 to 80 pounds during the conversion process then again for reversion would make a healthy male drastically underweight, potentially to the point of being life threatening.

    Amazing how much thought we put into figuring out the science of a fantasy setting isn’t it? 😀

  7. Why am I imagining C’s hat as a bowler decorated with a large golden feather?

    This is a great time and place for C to show up. Makes sense in a lot of ways.

  8. Remember they’re technelly not aliens. Most of the pirates are ex abominator slaves and they are all humans that descend from the humans that were genetically modified by the Abominators to be super soldiers. They seeded all the plants in that part of space with them. Just look at the pirate commander and the one Kayla zapped. There from same ex slaves that Haley and Travis are descend from.

  9. I would like to make sure that it’s pointed out here. Kayla is not panicking. Not even in the least. Nor is she withdrawing into herself. She’s calm, collected, thinks about what is happening, and is making pretty good decisions based on what she knows and what she can do.

    Sure, she might not be a fast thinker, or good in a fight, but for someone to keep track of things back at the base and coordinate? I think she just proved herself, though I can easily imagine C giving her a bit of a hard time about not mentioning that there were already two disabled aliens in the main room.

    Having known a few WW2 vets, and having heard lots of war stories, I can also see him sort of stretching the truth a bit to paint her as a bit more capable in a fight then she actually was, helping her get deserved respect from the others, because he would know that confidence in self and confidence from others add up to mean a lot.

  10. Perhaps Larry might show up in the Rhinomobile at the very end of the chapter, complaining about being in the middle of a twelve-pack of really good beer and a teardown of his armor when he got the news about the aliens.

    It just seems inevitable to me that Larry is going to be a shade-tree mechanic at heart, requiring beer to lubricate the creative parts.

  11. A quick note- navigation links at the top would help a lot for folks who read on mobile devices and want to move through chapters without scrolling(awkwardly, with that mobile scrolling bug some wordpress pages have).

  12. Have they never seen females before?
    Also, those are hand-to-hand combatants, humanoid variant.
    You’ve just left them completely fucked. Women and men fight totally differently
    (different centers of balance).

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