SW10/WRIMO: Cauldron, Part 4

Scott Eiler seiler at eilertech.com
Sat Nov 27 19:21:41 PST 2010

Commentator: Summer Morgan for the United States Insight Battalion.

What Has Gone Before.

Summer Morgan and her friend Holly, superhuman agents for the United
States, have tried to fight their way out of Nashville across rioters
and militias. Summer's been captured by militiamen and two


United States Insight Battalion
Operations Report
Thursday, November 6, 2010 #3

My captor was holding me up facing away from him, and practically
preaching. "I Am the Bread of Death! He who eats of me shall die! He
who does not eat of me shall die! Everyone shall die! For I Am the
Bread of Death!"

In the pickup truck, one of the militiamen said, "Are you done yet? We
gotta go."

Then a flare come up from under the bridge, in my direction. We each
had one, for emergencies. Thanks, Holly.

I gave a backward groin kick, because my captor might be distracted.
But the wrestler said, "Nice try, girl."

Then a searchlight swung around from the bridge. The Tennessee
National Guard was up there!

And I saw a rappel line coming down. It was one of ours! USIB finally
got its reinforcements here from Michigan! Holly, Liz, and Margaret
Jean were all here to rescue me! I just had to help make it happen...
I almost pitied our enemies.

I saw, one of the militiamen had a lightning bolt shaved into his
hair. This was becoming stylish because some of the Ministry of Speed
did that. I was pretty sure this guy didn't have the speed. But that
gave me an idea... I said, "You know, the Ministry's just going to
swipe your car's sparkplugs like they did from the other cars. You
won't even see them. Then they'll leave you to walk through the

And right then their pickup truck stopped running. Hooray, one of my
rescuers heard me and used the EMP gun! It was one use only, and each
two-woman team only had one, but now was the time.

That got a lot of verbal responses from the guys in the pickup. The
wrestler guy shouted them all down. "You pussies! They got no speed! I
kept up with this one!"

I had to say something. "I was faster than you, and I haven't even had
my booster shot today." Whatever.

One guy in the truck must have been the leader. He took a bullhorn and
said, "Enough! Back off, or we kill this one!" He pointed a finger at
me. The others in the truck pointed guns.

I had to act confident. "Oh, good luck holding me hostage and holding
off the rioters and the Tennessee National Guard and the Ministry of

The leader had to ignore me. But he wasn't using the bullhorn now.
"Imperilus! Guard the captive! Trooper Johnson! Disarm the captive!
Men! Protective ring! March toward base!" They all grumbled, but one
of them took my belt with the smoke grenades. Then they formed around
him, me, and the wrestler (apparently named Imperilus) who was still
holding me, and walked toward the bridge.

The National Guard was lighting us up with their searchlight. I
couldn't see the wolf-woman. But I must have rattled the militia. I'd
gotten them to take me toward their base - with people watching!


At the bridge, there was a lot of shouting with bullhorns, including
the phrase, "We have a hostage!" In the end, the National Guard let us
through. But we were headed toward downtown Nashville. Police might
actually be paying attention there.

We got to a cement factory. One guy went up to the door. It was

He yelled something that sounded like a passphrase. The speaker on the
outside of the door blurred something back. But they weren't letting
them in.

Then two police cars pulled up. Oh, I had been waiting for such a
perfect moment.

On my team, we each had a flare. I still had mine; I'd thought I could
get free from my captors with a groin kick instead... Actually, if I'd
remembered I had the flare then, I probably would have used it.

I still had control of my forearm, and the flare was mounted there. I
lit the flare into Imperilus's face.

The "protective" ring around me just fell down. There were six men
with guns guarding me. There were three of Body Up in USIB power suits
rescuing me. No contest.

Imperilus recovered, and said, "#@(% this!" But that's all he could
say before Body Up was on him. I heard Margaret Jean say, "You don't
do this to us!"

Still, he wasn't going down. With one hand swipe he brought Liz down!

But then there was someone else in the fight. It was the wolf woman!
And she was at his throat! He had no helmet. She drew blood! But not
much. I'd guess if this guy was going out without a gun, he wasn't too
afraid of guns or knives or even sharp teeth. So what did we have that
could hurt him? Certainly not one of my smoke grenades.

Then I had it. I was next to the pickup truck by now. I grabbed my
emergency siren from my belt there. Then I yelled "Sirens!", and
lunged at the villain's right ear. Holly did the same to his left. He
yelled and staggered.

Margaret Jean yelled something. Then she stuffed something down his
throat. I ducked and covered.

Flash! Bang! I recall thinking, she'd had time to get the right

I looked up. Our enemy was finally down and out.

But Holly was down now too! She hadn't been as paranoid about mystery
stuff down the villain's throat as I'd been.

I wanted to look to Holly. Margaret Jean was obviously thinking the
same thing about Liz.

Then I saw the police. They'd been hiding in their car, behind riot
shields. I yelled, "Come get this guy!" Then I ran to Holly.

Police yelled back, "Who the hell are you?"

I held up my USIB ID badge. "You look at this badge, because I'm not
going to shout it out to you here!" I shouldn't have said "badge" in
front of a militia facility, but I did. Then I threw the badge at them
as I looked to Holly.

Thank God, the police didn't worry about our credentials after that.
They took the militiamen, three per car, and they stuffed Imperilus in
a trunk because they couldn't get an ambulance up here. Thank God, a
grenade down his throat was enough to keep him out long enough to make
him someone else's problem.

Holly and Liz recovered in time to see that. Liz had only taken the
same sort of hit I had earlier, though she didn't block as well.
Holly's optics and audio receptors were out, but she was fine. We had
pretty good armor.


USIB had us report to a nice hotel downtown, inside the safe zone near
the Tennessee Statehouse. Thanks for finally figuring out we needed a
safe place to stay.

It was awfully late, but we all called in to a phone briefing. I was
okay with that. I couldn't have slept before it.

Yon opened with status from everyone but us. I'd forgotten, everyone
else had stuff going on. Jenn and Cherell had to run and hide from
religious militias assembling at a campground in Massachusetts. In
Florida, Norma and Tanya had faced down Russian gangsters who were
tracking every boat in the Caribbean. Then it was Tennessee's turn...
which meant us.

The sports pub we'd investigated had at least one governor's aide
there, plus the superhuman hacker Madfinger, and the superhuman nun
Eve St. Marie Lateran. Madfinger was the one who'd hacked our camera.
And Lateran had apparently been sent there by Russell Anvernacht, who
was at least partially Satan himself. It probably wasn't just a
neighborhood meeting. USIB thinks they were organizing the rioters.
Someone got beat up during protest marches downtown, of course. That
was just an excuse.

The guy who'd attacked us on the hotel roof was a mercenary called
Hard Falcon. He teleports, which is how he surprised us on the roof,
and how he escaped. (If I'd actually managed to hit him, I might have
found out he also has damage resistance and quick healing. But for
some reason he didn't try to prove those powers of his to me...
Anyway, he probably works for the people in the sports pub.

The colossal girl who'd started tearing the hotel down, left it alone
once we'd gone, so it's still standing. So Hard Falcon probably came
back and got our computers, like he said he would. Good thing we wiped

USIB doesn't know anything about the colossal girl. They think she
might have gotten powers as a side effect of an incident with a giant
lady wrestler in Nashville last year.  USIB thinks, she's a genuine
rioter. She shrank back down after attacking the hotel. She might turn
up anywhere.

Militias had intended to blow up the Tennessee Medicaid office,
because they considered subsidies to poor people "non-emergency".
Holly stopped them! When she disabled their cars with her EMP gun, she
disabled everything in them too. One of those cars was a car bomb!

Militias had "Imperilus the Exterminating Son" with them - the guy
who'd captured me. Police managed to get him to the hospital. He's
still there - for now. But he's conscious. He could probably break out
of their security at any time.

After our last fight, the wolf woman ran off. I'd guess the sirens
scared her. Imperilus had brought her there as her captive. It seems
she was the famous Wolf Woman of Iowa! I guess they'd be calling her
the Wolf Woman of Tennessee now.

The concrete factory was some sort of militia staging area. When their
raiding party showed up with law enforcement and superhumans in
pursuit, the people inside locked down and denied involvement. Without
a warrant, police weren't going in. Without heavy weapons or the
element of surprise, we weren't either. For all we know, they've got a
small army in there.

The National Guard got some troops up to protect the Tennessee state
offices from rioters and militiamen. But all the neighborhoods nearby
are still without law.

Just across the river from where I'd been fighting for my life, black
Baptists were hosting a convention of the Nehemiah Covenant
organization. Some war hero named Stonewater Smith was addressing
them. The convention promised to go in the neighborhoods and "stand in
the gap", whatever that meant. Their mission statement was, "survival
with social justice". That didn't sound good for keeping anyone quiet
right now.

I asked, "Can we take any of these people down?"

Battalion commander Yon Schmidt answered: "Not by ourselves. USIB is
an observation agency, not an enforcement agency. But yes, the
executive branch of the government is paying close attention."

"So other than Holly saving Medicaid, what did we just accomplish?"

"That's already enough to get you both medals. But beside that, you
did what intelligence agents always do. You let people know what's
going on. Believe me, that's more important than anything. Can you
imagine what would happen if we just sent people in without knowing
this stuff?"

"Yes! You sent us in without knowing this stuff!"

"Case proven. We gave you the best equipment we had. And you had
superhuman powers. Do you want army grunts putting their lives on the
line the same way?"

"No! That's not good enough! Holly and I went through hell!"

Norma, our boss from Body Up, came in. "Summer. We know. We care. But
hush for now."

Then Yon said, "You won. You win now. You just spent an hour giving us
the high points of what you went through today. Whatever you say
tomorrow, we'll be listening. But rest first."

Holly and I get tomorrow off, and maybe the day after. People from
USIB are coming to interview us and repair our suits, while Liz and
Margaret Jean go on patrol. There are still plenty of things to watch

I don't want to stay here, because something even worse than this
whole day is still ready to happen. But the others are staying, and I
can't leave them here by themselves. Next time, maybe I'll have to
rescue them.


Author's Notes:

This story's superhuman characters were mostly randomly chosen. One of
the choices was collectively the women of "Body Up", who are based on
all the author's friends who go to exercise class. So "Holly" and
"Summer" are based on real women who go to exercise class this year.
I'm wondering how to tell them they've made it into the novel. But I
have the same problem from earlier stories. Even "Norma" has yet to
find out, and I'm not sure how I could find her to tell her. I have to
admit, I can usually hide these things because my stories pass well
under the mainstream radar.

Imperilus the Exterminating Son and the Wolf-Woman of Iowa somehow
avoided getting on my list when I was choosing randomly. When I
realized this, I put them in the story automatically.

The outcome of the big fight at the end was also randomly chosen. I
had to decide whether the wacko militiamen (or at least their strong
man) would be captured, escape, or meet up with reinforcements and
prevail. For my three-way "coin toss", I used the outcome of the
latest Dancing with the Stars finale. Let us not go into details. But
thank you, America, for picking the happy ending.

This story is available online at http://www.eilertech.com/stories/2010/cauldron4.htm
.  The online version has hyperlinks within the story wherever I
needed a citation.

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