SG: The League #5 (A of B)
Whistling in the Dark
sabre at annotations.com
Wed Jul 30 12:09:18 PDT 2008
March 13, 1998
LAIS *Dominion* (CVNX-119)
South Pacific Theater of Operations
The war had been going badly for the Awe-Inspiring Force's
military. Though many thousands strong, and fanatically devoted
to Lady Awe-Inspiring, in the end the men and women who made up
her armed forces were still just human, and the major powers in
the War had been all too superhuman. The initial stages of the
war had been separate, as the Awe-Inspiring Force and the
Unimaginable League Amoral had launched nearly simultaneous wars
of conquest across the world. Between the deadly and potent
mental assault of Psybernet diverting entire carrier groups to
the ULA's cause and literally thousands of AIF moles in almost
every major military on the planet, the capacity for the nations
of the world to resist were greatly hampered. With a sudden,
coordinated (and *seemingly* unrelated) crackdown by several
world governments against their paranormal populations already
underway, it seemed inevitable that one of the two forces would
ultimately rule the world.
But, perhaps inevitably, the titanic egos of Lady
Awe-Inspiring and the leaders of the Unimaginable League Amoral
couldn't brook the thought of sharing the world with another
power, and the war became a two sided war of genocide between
them. Europe and Africa lay under ULA dominance. China, Japan,
the Pacific Rim, Australia and much of the Middle East were
under the Lady's command. The remainder of Eastern Europe and
Asia became the primary battleground between these seemingly
unstoppable powers, while 'partisan' forces carved up South
America, Mexico and the United States. Of the major national
powers, only Canada was relatively untouched.
And then, the heroes had struck back. Liberating major
ports and resources and rallying incredible powers to their
side, the greatest heroes of the modern age inspired the
still-free governments of the world to form the Modern Allied
Powers. Systemic attacks on the major resources of both the ULA
and AIF armies had turned the battle into a three-way contest,
but it looked at best like *any* victory would be pyrrhic, with
the human population largely decimated and the environment in
And then, during the climactic Christmas Eve Offensive, a
powerful flying warship commanded by Egoiste and Arsenal of the
Unimaginable League Amoral had crashlanded and detonated its
complete arsenal on the Indian battlefield, wiping out almost
half of the Unimaginable League Amoral's total resources and
allowing the Allied forces to utterly rout Lady Awe-Inspiring's
armies on the field. In the weeks since, the tide fully turned,
with the Unimaginable League Amoral's power almost entirely
broken and the Awe Inspiring Force put on the run. Around the
world, liberated countries threw their support and their
military behind the Allies.
But it wasn't over yet, and with the Lady herself still in
command the chance of regrouping and rebuilding was all too
real. She had stretched her hand out, and called her mighty
weapons and armies back to herself -- all but those ordered back
to ground -- to consolidate and begin the painstaking process of
reconquering the world.
The *Dominion* was one of her most powerful ships. A
supercarrier with over five thousand fanatically loyal sailors
and a huge arsenal of weapons, Copperhead fighters, Manta
fighter/bombers and so much more, the *Dominion* alone could
project the Lady's power into a region and support a front of
the war. Adding the escorts of her carrier group just made the
*Dominion* more dangerous.
Oddly, that was why the Academy had been sent in.
Healer had opposed the decision, but she was overruled. The
major heroes were well known and protected against, Andy Awesome
had explained. They would be identified and responded to. But
several of the senior students at the Adjusted League
Unimpeachable Academy had the training and experience to conduct
a raid. Hit and run, move in, disable defenses, call in the
Allied forces and get the Hell out of dodge -- and as almost
complete unknowns, they could do so with comparative safety. In
the end, Healer had to give her consent. There was too much at
However, neither Healer nor Andy Awesome himself knew the
*real* mission the students were carrying out.
Memorex leapt forward, twisting in the air and
split-kicking two crewmen out of his path. Four marines turned
to gun the youth down, only to have him vanish through a
transgate in the floor, landing behind them and taking them down
from behind. Off to the side, an *explosion* of fire cleared
half the room as Hellfire swept through. "We're clear over
here!" she shouted. "Trans! I have a line of sight!"
"Do it." Transit's voice was calm over the Xolchacomm. She
had hidden herself somewhere in the *Dominion's* bowels, letting
her perception of her friends coordinate and support their
Hellfire burst into a missile-like arc, sweeping up a
corridor and sending waves of hellish fire down one side,
forcing the crew to scatter. The flames weren't intense enough
to kill or even maim, but there was a primal fear of fire in
most human beings, and the literally infernal composition of the
former child-star's fiery body made that all the more intense.
This let her spin in the air and throw a small metal sphere down
an air duct into the C'n'C. The command and control room was
well protected -- that the students had gotten this far was
amazing -- but they still needed to breathe and Hellfire had
been carefully prepared.
Down in the C'n'C, the sphere hummed to life and painted
the room with invisible light, which in turn sent a stream of
data to where Transit was hidden. The teleporter smiled, getting
enough of the lay of the land to know exactly what equipment and
people were down there. "Stage three," she murmured into her
Xolchacomm, and she opened two gates.
The first let Hellfire drop into the room unopposed. With a
burst of fire and heat, the officers and crew fell unconscious
all around her.
The second let Memorex drop next to Hellfire just as her
flames died down. He swept the red-clad woman of fire up and
kissed her, not even being singed by her burning face. "Piece of
cake," he murmured, holding her close for a moment.
"Eat cake later," she murmured back. "Work now." She let
go, hopping over a pair of unconscious officers to the hatch. It
was secured against attack, of course, but she didn't trust it
by itself. She touched her finger along the seam of the hatch,
and began to weld the metal together....
Memorex darted to the right console, and began to type.
Years of watching movies from *Wargames* to *Hackers* had given
Memorex sampled skill to spare, and rigorous training and
preparation from programmers and hackers as diverse as Superuser
and Mastermind all the way to Trashman himself had gotten him
the rest of the way. He disabled security systems, shut down
communications, and loaded a specially prepared virus meant to
be distributed throughout the carrier group. That would make the
group's computers and defenses fail in time for an Allied
attack. It was the students' official objective.
Memorex grinned and slid to the navigation station, letting
the virus do its work and cover up his real job.
And then, there they were. The orders. And the coordinates.
They had been encoded, but he had been prepared for that. He now
knew specifically where the *Dominion* was moving... and more to
the point he knew where they *weren't* directly going.
"Packing," he murmured.
"I'll say," Hellfire smirked.
"Ready to bug out?"
"Topside in five... four... three... two...."
The pair fell through gates. They landed, eyes already
squinting against the harsh sunlight. They were on the
*Dominion's* flight deck, Transit landing smoothly next to them.
"That one's prepped!" Memorex shouted, dashing up a ladder
onto a Copperhead's canopy and springing to the Manta sitting
next to it. There was a pilot and crew in the midst of
scrambling the Manta. He turned his jump into a diving kick
against the nearest crew member. Behind him, Hellfire and
Transit took out the others.
It took less than five seconds to secure the Manta's
hatches and begin powering the aircraft up. "We have company
forward," Transit said, nodding out the front windscreen where
marines were running to intercept.
"You sure about this, Trans?" Memorex asked, settling in to
fly the fighter.
Transit took a deep breath. "I can do it *once,*" she
"They've got a missile launcher!" Hellfire screamed.
"Now would be good!" Memorex shouted.
Transit's fingers blurred into motion. Around the Manta
lines of blue and purple light danced, and the entire aircraft
dropped through a transgate on the flight deck.
The aircraft pitched, suddenly catching air bite, and
Memorex toggled the engines into thrust, angling. Transit had
'dropped' them to about 2,000 feet straight up, which wasn't
very much clearance to get the fighter/bomber flying properly
under power. Still, Memorex had been studying this too, and his
reflexes were among the best on the planet.
"We've got power," Hellfire said. "Take us home, lover."
"Or the nearest best thing," Memorex said, goosing the
engines and starting an ascent. There would be pursuit, all too
soon, and good pilot or not, Memorex couldn't hope to win
against the Lady's seasoned pilots in a fight.
Transit, sweating slightly, had her eyes closed. "Turn
eighteen point three degrees," she said. "And get some more
Memorex nodded. "You have a bead on our location?"
Transit, despite her strain, smiled a touch. "I *always*
have a bead on our location, Mem."
"Stupid of me to ask," Memorex said.
"Okaaaaay," Hellfire said. "I mark... nineteen fighters in
pursuit. Dropping flares, which won't do much more than piss
them off. I don't think I'll be killed when they shoot us down
but I'm partial to you two, so...."
"Six seconds," Transit murmured. "Stay on this heading
*exactly,* Mem. Five... four... three...."
"Missile lock! *NINE* missile locks!"
Transit opened gates undeneath the three in their seats,
exactly figuring the vector to optimize them falling through
Almost immediately after they fell through the gates,
several air to air missiles converged on the stolen Manta, which
obligingly exploded into many hundreds of pieces.
Exactly fifty two miles north-northeast of that explosion,
and a good fifteen thousand feet higher in the air, three
transgates opened and three students fell out. Their ears popped
with the pressure differentials, though the room had been
pressurized specifically to compensate.
"Permission to come aboard," Hellfire said, jauntily.
"Granted," Damien Wilson said. "Welcome aboard the Awesome
Force One. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with our
"Report," Andy Awesome said, curtly.
"The virus is installed and propagating," Hellfire said.
"It will trigger in fourteen minutes. They shouldn't have time
to even cut through the C'n'C hatch and figure out we're not in
there any more in that length of time. "
"Excellent. Get cleaned up and we'll debrief the three of
you. *Nice* work, friends."
Memorex nodded. ""Scuse," he said. "Had to hit the head an
hour ago. It's just gotten' worse since."
"I *told* you to go before we went," Hellfire chided, even
as the various Awesome Force members in the room chuckled. All
but Andy Awesome, who frowned, but nodded.
Memorex made it into the Men's head updeck. He slipped into
the stall, and sat down.
The voice was calm. Almost icy. And came from the next
stall over, as they'd arranged.
"I've written the coordinates down," Memorex said, slipping
a small bit of paper out of his boot and sliding it under the
stall. "The top location is the rendezvous point for the fleet.
The bottom's what you wanted."
"Yeah," Memorex said. "That's the location of Islandilai.
Lady Awe-Inspiring's runnin' the whole war from there."
He flushed, and stepped out. Almost in unison the stalls on
either side opened as well. On the right, the thermonuclear
Dangerousman stepped out. On the left, the Non-Biodegradable
Trashman emerged. Trashman was not holding any bits of paper.
The three began to wash their hands. "This is very, very
good work, Memorex," Trashman said softly. "You've just saved
thousands -- maybe millions of lives."
"And probably moved the war's end up by six months,"
Dangerousman added. "Really, this is amazing, Rip."
"Glad to help," Memorex said, blushing. "But... um... c'n I
ask?" His West Virginian accent came out more when he was
"You want to know why all the secrecy," Trashman said. It
wasn't a question.
Trashman nodded. "There's a way to do these things," he
said. "One plans carefully, bringing many people and getting
many permissions and coordinating many strategies. No one man
can simply decide what direction to pursue a war."
"That's how it has to be," Dangerousman agreed. "Otherwise,
you have a breakdown of command across the board."
"It would probably be weeks before a proper assault on
Islandilai could be launched," Trashman said.
"Assuming she doesn't bug out or relocate," Dangerousman
said as well.
Memorex blinked, and then he got it. "You two are...."
"It has to be now, Rip," Trashman said. "All her forces are
moving into position. If they can get back to Islandilai's
resources, they could rearm or worse. That base has to be taken
"And so does Lady Awe-Inspiring," Dangerousman said. "If we
can find a way to kill her."
Memorex swallowed. "...can I come with you?" he asked.
Trashman looked at Memorex for a long moment. "We're not
going as superheroes," he said, softly. "We're going to kill her
and destroy her base."
"Mem," Dangerousman said, putting his hand on the student's
shoulder, "you have so many years ahead of you--"
"Not if you guys fail," Memorex said, half-turning. "You
can *use* me -- you can--"
"Rip," Trashman said, "heroes don't do what we're about to
Memorex turned to look at Trashman once more, tears in his
Trashman put his gloved hand on Memorex's shoulder, and
looked into the young man's eyes. "Rip... I need you to be the
hero I can't be after this," he said. "We need good, honest,
*clean* men and women to come after us. We need people who
believe, and I've never met any hero who believes as
passionately as you do."
"...are you going to die?" Memorex asked softly.
"Yes," Trashman said. Just like that. Just matter of
factly. Yes. He was going to die.
"We have to go," Dangerousman said.
Trashman nodded. "If this war isn't over in twelve hours
tell Andy Awesome the coordinates to Islandilai," he said. "Do
good work, Rip. Make us proud."
NOVEMBER 1, 2007
Holiday Inn Express Room 18
There was a loud bang -- a tractor-trailer hitting a
pothole at speed, probably -- that startled Rip Davis out of
sleep. Being who and what he was, that meant he did a forward
roll and landed in a three point stance at the foot of his bed.
After a long moment, Rip breathed out and glanced at the
clock. 3:17 in the morning. Even after Halloween, that meant a
city like Bucyrus was asleep.
He walked into his bathroom and ran water, splashing some
on his face. The dream was still strong with him. The only day
he had been a part of the Genocide War. The last day he had
spoken to Trashman. The last day....
Rip took a breath, and looked up into eyes that had seen
over nine years and countless events since that day. His
shoulder was hurting again, and he noticed he had a bit of a
shiner from last night's work. "How'm I doin'," he murmured to
the reflection, a bit of his boyhood dialect creeping into his
voice. "You proud of me, yet?"
Mawwage is what bwings us togwetha twoday...
The Trudis were not, it's worth noting, the most tactically
minded of the factions that had invaded Boston's streets. The
beautiful young women in mixtures of military surplus and satin
lingerie were bound and empowered by the elaborate macrame that
were woven through their hair and down into masks on their
faces. The male drones were bound up in the macrame, their
strength and durability reinforced by it even as their minds
were suppressed by the macrame web. But for all their
interweaving of thought and passion, the Trudis were oddly
individual, and that meant it was hard to coordinate their
They typically compensated for this by numbers. Knowing
they wanted the Mask of Osiris in the Egyptian exhibit's hall,
and knowing that it would take time to secure the mask and
prepare its hidden powers for transport, they made the exhibit
hall next door into a choke point, where a hundred and nineteen
Trudis and drones were milling about, 'patrolling' by doing
little dances, seducing ensorcelled guards and tourists, and in
general being bored out of their macrame-draped skulls. The idea
was, should any police or vigilante types show up, the massive
crowd of hot chicks and their boytoys would be more than enough
to stop them.
That was the theory, any how.
Three Trudis and one drone were off in one corner of the
room, absently watching another group seduce an attractive
college student's mind, leading her to sing pop songs karaoke
style for their amusement. "This is *dull,*" the first Trudi --
Trudi Brandy -- said in a petulant voice.
"No spluh," the second -- Trudi Kissi -- said, rolling her
eyes. "We better be almost done."
"What do we even want this dumb mask for anyway," Trudi
Dotti -- the third Trudi, if you hadn't guessed -- bitched.
"Masks are dumb."
"Mistress so pretty brains my pants are short look at the
flower," the Drone said, his voice muffled by layers of macrame
wrapped tightly around his head. Really, it's a wonder he hadn't
"All I know is Trudi Rayvnn better not be wasting our
time," Trudi Brandy said. "Dumb goth bitch. I hate her so much."
"Doesn't she, like, ever get *sun?*" Trudi Dotti agreed.
"It's, like, get with the program. We're not *goths.* We don't,
like, shop at Hot Topic. We're totally punk rock."
"Oh, *totally,*" Trudi Brandy said. "We, like, subvert
Victoria's Secret and make it all punk. That's our *thing.* Pink
is the new camo, right, Trudi Kissi?"
There was a pause.
"Like, where's Trudi Kissi?" Trudi Dotti asked.
"Girls are pretty the sun goes down at night I like gum,"
the drone answered.
The two remaining Trudis shrugged slightly. "Anyway," Trudi
Dotti said, "I, like, found this totally great new perfume at
*Target* if you can believe it. It's, like, not a designer
knockoff so much as it's a designer *homage.* You should totally
"I *am,*" Trudi Brandy said. "You smell totally designer."
"I know. It's so hot and cool. It's not like Trudi Rayvnn
at *all.* She smells like... y'know. Dirt? Or the morgue? Or...
what do goths smell like anyway, Trudi Brandy?"
There was another pause.
"Trudis are beautiful I like harmonica Sean Hannity is
right," the drone slurred.
"Oh, like, shut up," Trudy Dotti snapped. "Those bitches
totally ditched me. I'm going to go find Trudi Rayvnn and tell
her to like hurry up so we can--"
With a burst of purple Cherenkov radiation, Trudy Dotti was
sucked into an aperture into the universe, falling in the middle
of the League, who were surrounding her with all their powers
"Fire," Parvenu said. He sounded bored.
Capacitor, Hazard, Iceweaver and Incandescence all
unleashed attacks, slamming fire, ice, nuclear potency and
electricity into the Trudi with an ennui born of routine.
Reflects was ready to slam her fist down into the Trudi in case
she managed to stay awake through the alpha strike, but of
course she didn't.
"That's thirty two," Ordinal said. "Ready to gate the next
Reflects picked up the unconscious Trudi and tossed her
onto the growing pile of unconscious Trudis, who were stacking
up not unlike trendy faux-punk hot chick cordwood. "We're
"Okay," Parvenu said. "In five... four... three... two...
The drone appeared in the same burst of violet light.
There was another detonation of ranged powers.
"That's thirty three," Ordinal said. "Ready to gate the
* * * * * *
Deep in the cramped basement headquarters of the League,
Mandy Harken -- in her official guise as 'Ops' -- tracked the
progress of the heroes as well as monitoring both the overall
Museum situation and keeping track of potential hotspots in the
various Boston neighborhoods.
Next to her, Kirby Rogers -- the son of the late Bruce
Rogers and Elizabeth Tirkoff -- yawned. "I thought this would be
more exciting," he groused.
"Yeah, well, they're fighting Trudis," Mandy said. "Almost
any other villain faction would notice the fishing going on, but
Trudis aren't built for observation."
"Yeah. Ordinal teleports one in, they nail that one, and so
on. You can get away with it for a little while with Ensemble or
Maltin groupies, but the Trudis never seem to catch--"
"It doesn't seem very sporting."
"It's not. Got a problem with that?"
"Good." Mandy looked at the nine year old. "So what *are*
we going to do with you?"
Kirby half-smiled. "Well, that's gonna be a problem, isn't
"Well, maybe Parvenu -- he's Uncle Roger, right? I knew he
was Uncle Roger -- maybe he has a spell that can erase my
memory, but that's all dangerous because my Mom's the best
telepath on the planet and she specializes in reconstruction,
not that it would work anyway because I can cloak my thoughts
same as my body an' it works on magic and stuff like that, so
messing with my head's out. That means we need to negotiate."
"I could just call you a liar."
"Nah, wouldn't work. I can supply too many details, an' let
Mom verify them in my brain. I can keep her out but I don't
*have* to, remember. And give Mom enough reason and she'll poke
around and see *you* have thought shields you don't admit to,
an' she'll either fight through them or start to probe an'--"
Mandy rubbed the bridge of her nose. "You are *really*
"I get that from Godmother Trudy. Hey, do the Trudis have
anything to do with her?"
"Trudy would have had them all killed long before now if
she had anything to do with them. I assume their use of the name
pisses her off."
"Watch your mouth. I'm a kid."
Mandy gave Kirby a look.
"Anyway. We're negotiating here."
"All right. What do you want, Kirby?"
"To keep the secret of the League's location, your leading
them, and all the stuff that would make Mom's blood pressure
Kirby smiled a bit. "I want in."
"Kirby, we don't send *nine year olds* out into combat."
"Why not? Uncle Tim wasn't much older when he started, and
I'm way better trained than he was. An' Spoonstryke started when
she was, like, my age. There's a long tradition of--"
"Stuff it, kid. If it's a choice between you outing us and
me endangering your life, I'll give you my L-Phone to call your
mom right now."
Kirby bit his lip. "I'll do it," he said, half-heartedly.
Mandy shrugged. "That's your choice. I can't stop you."
Kirby took a deep breath. "You're not playing fair," he
said sullenly. "I hold all the cards here."
"Hey, you want to get in the adults' game? You better learn
something more complicated than Texas Hold-em."
"I'm Academy Omaha champion."
Mandy paused. "Since when does our school have a Poker
"Accordin' to Momma Alice? 1995. She said she won it three
Mandy rubbed the bridge of her nose. "I'm getting too old
for this," she muttered.
"Thirty-eight isn't old."
"Oh shut up."
[PART ONE IS DONE! NEXT COMES PART TWO! DEAL WITH IT!]
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