Rattling Cages: Part 16

Bullets bounced off my helmet, and the guitar, hitting the stealth suit. With the full suit, I would have just felt the impact. With the stealth suit, I felt each individual bullet. It hurt.

Purely out of habit, I pointed my arm at Ray and blasted at him with the sonics. The answering shout and a pause in the rain of bullets made it worth it.

Had I been in the full suit, I might have blasted straight at him then, but I didn’t. If I missed him, I’d probably slam into a tree, and in the stealth suit, I had less confidence that I’d survive it.

I dived for him, but pulled up about ten feet in front of him and dropped to the ground, using the momentum to give me a good start on closing the distance. I took a step and then jumped into a side kick.

The kick didn’t, as I’d hoped, hit his solar plexus and knock the air out of him.

He dodged and I hit him in the ribs — still fairly hard, but not hard enough to take him out. I might have broken a rib though.

Worse, he grabbed my left leg. He’d already dropped his rifle as I’d approached, but I’d assumed that it was because he’d emptied the magazine not because he wanted to prepare for hand to hand combat.

I’m dumb sometimes.

I leaned back and let myself fall to the ground, the guitar hitting the ground with me.

He let go of my leg.

The guitar chose that moment to start playing Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” at maximum possible volume. Given the amount of power available and the other uses of the speakers that was very loud.

Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses…

The musical choice could have fit worse. I’d filled it with songs from Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but late one night I’d also loaded up some other songs I liked by They Might Be Giants and from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog. They didn’t quite fit with the rest, but it seemed funny at the time.

In my semi-distracted state, I considered skipping to a different song, but common sense took over. I fumbled for the guitar, moving up the neck to a very different setting.

“It’s a fucking iPod,” Ray said, yanking a submachine gun off his leg and aiming it at me. “This has armor piercing ammo.”

I pressed a button on the guitar. Small lasers on the face of the guitar exploded into blinding, multi-colored light. What’s a rock concert without a light show?

My helmet automatically adjusted, but Ray couldn’t see anything and started firing wildly.

I got hit. One hit my helmet. It didn’t go through. Another couple hit my chest. They didn’t go through either, but the bullets stuck in my jacket. If I hadn’t been wearing it, I’d have been dead.

Whether the guitar got hit or just shorted, the song changed, cutting to the middle of a song from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog.

It’s a brand new day
Yeah the sun is high
All the angels sing
Because you’re gonna die

Not precisely the sentiments I was looking for.

I rolled to the side and pushed myself up just as the light ceased. The guitar banged against my chest and one of the bullets fell off.

Still blinded by the light, Ray stopped firing, probably trying to listen for me, but defeated by the still unbearably loud vocals.

I jumped a little to Ray’s right side, grabbing his gun hand with my left and punching him in the face with my right hand.

I could feel the artificial muscles moving around my arm as I struck — more than I did when wearing the full suit.

He fell backwards, unconscious, landing on the snow.

Off to my left, I saw Jaclyn standing over the body of the other man.

From my right, I heard Rachel say, “Hey, you got him. For a minute there I thought I’d have to help.”

“Yeah, I did.” I grabbed the guitar and managed to turn off the sound, noticing that she seemed to be moving her left arm now.

“Your arm seems better.”

“Travis, the big dope, moved too close to Gena and she got us with the paralysis gun. I didn’t fade out quickly enough.”

“I didn’t know you could get half paralyzed. Do you think everyone else is okay?”

“Well, they weren’t moving yet, the last time I looked, but it can’t be any worse than back at the house.”

I looked back toward the car. I felt like I ought to be going over there, but how would I help?

“So what are you going to do with them?” Rachel started unstrapping the guns and knives, and pulling them off Ray’s body. “Do you have handcuffs or anything?”

“Handcuffs?” I said.

“What were you planning on doing with them after you caught them?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Just a second.”

I called 911.

While I talked to the dispatcher on the other end, Jaclyn said, “I think there might be handcuffs in Night Wolf’s car, but they’re probably twenty years old and there’s no guarantee we’ll be able to find the keys.”

Rachel laughed. “You should see some of the things he’s lost around the house. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t put it past him to have melted them down for the metal.”

Jaclyn carried the other guy over. “I think I got everything off this guy, but I’ve never done this before and you know I’ll have missed something.”

Rachel said, “Don’t look at me. I’ve never done this before either.”

I hung up. “The police will be here pretty soon. I’ll bet the FBI will be here sooner. Anyway, I’m sure I didn’t melt down the handcuffs or their keys either.”


Jaclyn grinned at me. “Of course you didn’t. We all know better than that. So how’s Cassie’s motorcycle? The normal one? The one she wanted to train on so she didn’t stick out?”

I thought for a second. “Oh that… I had to make some minor modifications.”

“Uh-huh,” she said, drawing it out.

Rachel laughed.

“About these modifications,” Jaclyn said, “Will it still look like a motorcycle when you’re done?”

They went on like that while we carried the bodies out into the road and found some rope in the trunk of Night Wolf’s car.

It wasn’t that long until someone arrived, but it wasn’t the police or the Feds.

We put the bodies in the bed of Gena’s truck. As Jaclyn tied the last man’s feet together, we noticed something bright in the sky. The glowing shape of a man descended, landing in the road in behind the pickup.

Solar Flare.

I looked up from watching Jaclyn, and Rachel caught my eye.

“Here comes trouble,” she said.

14 thoughts on “Rattling Cages: Part 16”

  1. Hmmh, while the guitar does seem to bear a notable utility value, it kind of undermines the Rocket’s credibility as a serious hero.

  2. I actually thought the guitar would be a amped up version of the sonic weapon that he had, but you cant go wrong with laser though. Hey Tim try and put in a microwave feature for the non deadly attacks, like what the marines are testing for crowd dispersal and control.

  3. Gavin: Thanks

    Mazzon: That’s the hazard of coming up with device partially based on a guitar controller, I think. It’s an inherently silly concept, made sillier by the fact that not all the bugs have been worked out.

    Indifferent Curve: I’ve read about that. Nick’s actually got a little bit of crowd control built into the suit already (though not precisely the same kind). We haven’t gotten a chance to use it yet though.

  4. Yeah but it makes sense for a teenager, Spiderman wanted to be a wrestler first, not a superhero. It’s not like they think “Hey, how will this affect my credibility?” They go “wouldn’t this be cool???”

    The Rocket wants to be a Rocker. There’s kind of a Rock theme, yeah? 😉

  5. Yep can’t have rock music without the light show. Poor Ray though took the blast at point blank maxed out. That had to hurt a little.

    Oh goodie it’s Flare, I hope he doesn’t do anything to stupid but that might be asking to much.

  6. I cringed when Jaclyn talks about Cassie’s bike while in uniform right next to at least two of Executioner. Even if they are unconscious, it’s always a risk mentioning civilian names while in costume…

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