King of Storms: Part 2

We arrived while the ambulances were still there. I flew in in the full Rocket suit. Haley drove her grandfather’s car.

We met up across the street in the parking lot of a brick, two story office building of an oddly modern design that housed a couple dentists’ offices. The walls had been shaped to resemble waves, inspired no doubt by the name “Grand Lake Dentistry.”

The police had blocked off the road and detoured traffic around it — which was kind of a big deal. Jefferson Street was a five lane road if you counted the middle turn lane and almost as important, it was part of “the Strip.”

No one called it the Strip. The Strip was just my name for that section of road in just about every city in the United States that seems to contain at least one store or restaurant from every franchise known to humankind — Best Buy next to Burger King, Target across from Office Max, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and McDonald’s.

At seven at night, glowing signs and streetlights lit up the twilight, giving us a good view of a Box upside down in the middle lane — “Box” being the slang term for trucks with specialized equipment for hauling supers.

The Box’s side had been blown open as if by a bomb.

Another truck, this one with its front blown open, lay next to it. I could just barely read the words “Police” and “SWAT” in the wrinkled metal of its side.

Paramedics were loading people from the trucks into ambulances as Haley got out of the car.

I stood in next to Lt. Van Kley. Tall with close-cropped grey hair, she watched Shorty’s Convenience Mart out of the corner of her eye as we talked.

The last time I’d seen her, she’d been in charge of a group of police attempting to contain Man-machine. Either she had a reputation for being able to deal with supers or her supervisors didn’t like her much.

“They’re in there.” She flicked her hand in the direction of Shorty’s.

“OK,” I said. “So what do you want us to do?”

“First, let’s get around the corner.”

She led us around the corner of the brick building, bringing us out of direct line of sight of the convenience store. Two squad cars were parked parallel to the curb — as close as possible to the building.

When we stood next to the first police car, she said, “It’s just the two of you?”

“No,” Haley said, “Captain Commando will be coming and we might have the Shift too — if we’re lucky.”

A muscle in Van Kley’s face twitched. “How long will it be before the rest arrive?”

“Captain Commando should be here soon,” I said. “The Shift is anybody’s guess.”

Marcus had to work. He said he’d get off work in half an hour, but he’d try to think of an excuse to get out sooner.

I heard the sound of a motorcycle growing closer and then Cassie appeared riding Captain Commando’s motorcycle.

Cassie jumped off it and walked over to us, sword on her back, the US flag on her chest. “So what have we got?”

Van Kley glanced at her and said, “Didn’t you have a telepath?”

“The Mystic’s busy,” I said.

Daniel had had a track meet and was riding home on a bus when I called.

She looked over the three of us. “Well, if this is everyone–”

“So who is it?” Cassie said, “Terrorists? Johnny Destruction?”

Van Kley looked irritated, but answered. “No one you’ve ever heard of. We don’t even know their names. An officer happened to be in the convenience store when they held it up. He tried to stop them but didn’t succeed. His partner managed to shoot one of them when they tried to leave and called for backup.”

“What can they do?” I asked.

Van Kley said, “Bullets bounce off one of them. Another one can blow things up from a distance. I don’t know about the third one.”

Cassie thought for a moment. “They’ve got the ability to blow up trucks and they’re robbing convenience stores?”

Van Kley said, “It doesn’t make sense to me either.”

“That is kind of weird,” I said.

“Do we have a plan?” Cassie asked.

“No,” I said.

Van Kley shook her head. “Usually I let supers follow their own lead, but I’ve got some advice for you if you want it.”

She looked us over. We were listening.

“None of you have subtle powers. You’re going to have to go in like we did — quickly. Can any of you sense where they are in the building?”

She looked at me.

I shook my head. “Sorry. Maybe in the next version of the suit.”

Haley said, “I can try.”

“Know exactly where they are and take them out before they kill any more hostages.”

“Any more?” Cassie looked from Lt. Van Kley to Haley and I.

“They killed Officer Brondsema when we brought in the SWAT team.”

* * *

Minutes later, Cassie and I stood on top of Shorty’s looking through a hole in the roof. Haley sat next to it, leaning her head over the opening.

Cassie had cut through the flat roof with her sword with complete silence. Monomolecular blades can do that. Haley and I had lifted it out, using background noise generated by the sonics to mask the sound.

We couldn’t see through the drop ceiling, but it didn’t matter.

“The hostages are shut in a room in the back. I think it’s the break room. I can hear them talking. One of the hostage-takers is with them,” Haley said. “The other two are near the front door talking with the police on the phone.

“I smell fear,” she said, “and blood. And Rocket, do you remember the chemical smell I smelled on the powered FBI agents? The ones the Executioner killed? I smell that too.”

15 thoughts on “King of Storms: Part 2”

  1. Parahacker: The amount of setup worried me a little, but it felt like it had a to be there. We’ll see what I think when/if I end up revising things.

    On the super juice: Expect small, regular revelations on this one for a little while.

  2. I’ve just caught up with everything and just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the story as a whole. This chapter in particular seems to be heating up very nicely.

    One thing that’s been making me laugh though. I’m in Ireland right now, and Marcus’ codename “the Shift” is Irish slang for making out.

  3. That’s amusing. I’ll have to use that somehow. In a world where people constantly come up with codenames, you know that a good number of them have to be unintentionally hilarious for one reason or another.

    Thanks for reading.

  4. Nick really needs to start writing down the stuff he would like the next gen suit to have. Otherwise he is likely to forget after a while.

    Oh goody, juicers that’s not good. I would say that this is a test run on their powers then. They might have just got them.
    Any takers that these might be the bullies that Nick just delt with?

  5. @Daymon: That would be SOOOOO hot!

    But that would also be a bit too cliche. My money says it’s the Executioner’s Plan B Squad.

    Which, in my mind, is orders of magnitude WORSE…

  6. @Bill: holy damn, I should have thought of that.

    Yeah, that’d be worse all right… worse still if it’s Plan B with some juice too. Who’s to say they haven’t found themselves some allies?

  7. Well, Jim, I think Daymon’s come up with the official in-canon name for people who get powers from the secret power formula. It’s a natural. Now you just have to introduce it properly. I think maybe Daymon should win some sort of prize, like a cameo appearance or something like that. 🙂


    (Incidentally, I happened to earn a decent cameo in T.Mike McCurley’s Firedrake saga, for an idea that made it into his stories. So, like, there’s a precedence for that sort of thing, superheroic-fiction-wise. Maybe we can all vote on it. Hey, who wants to see Daymon in a cameo in these here stories? Put up your hand if you think so!)

  8. Juicers is a good name. I’d been thinking of using it anyway. That being said, it looks kind of like collaboration between daymon, Parahacker and Indifferent Curve if you follow the thread.

    Which isn’t to say I’m against giving recognition to daymon… I’m just giving credit where credit is due.

  9. Didn’t the Rocket use some kind of advanced sonar detection thingy in the suit when they were capuring the Executioner(s)? Maybe it needs line of sound or something…

  10. He did — though it was in the stealth suit and wouldn’t go through walls. They’d still have to go inside to make worth using. It’s most useful in the dark or in the fog.

  11. Edit thing:
    “I stood in next to Lt. Van Kley.”

    Sounds weird this way.

    Maybe get rid of the word “in” so it’s “I stood next to Lt. Van Kley.” But then it almost feels like a fragment sentence.

    Or maybe something like:
    “As I stood next to Lt. Van Kley, who was tall with close-cropped grey hair, she watched Shorty’s Convenience Mart out of the corner of her eye as we talked.”

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