SW10: December 2010 #6: Cauldron Book II Part 6 (of 7)

Scott Eiler seiler at eilertech.com
Thu Apr 7 19:17:55 PDT 2011

What Has Gone Before. By Katerina Katzmann.

Summer Morgan and her friend Holly, along with several others, have been 
superhuman agents for the United States in Nashville. Holly's been captured. 
When the U.S. Government said it couldn't rescue her, Summer and all her friends 
resigned to mount their own rescue mission. Now they're about to attack the villain.

We have a satellite map of the battle site available, at Google Maps. 


Body Up
Operations Report
Saturday, December 11, 2010

At breakfast, Norma introduced us to Vince Cortez. Most of the others knew him 
already. Norma told the rest of us, "Body Up was founded when evil men used mind 
power to control women. We had counter-measures then, and we have them now. 
Vince will hypnotize us against mind control."

Vince was a young man, about Liz's age. He said, "Uh, I'm actually trying to 
reproduce the power set that Wyatt Ferguson drew upon when he protected you in 

Norma said, "Vince, pardon the interruption. We'd love to hear the story later, 
but we have a job to do."

I raised my hand. "I don't believe in hypnotism. Is that going to stop me 
getting hypnotized?"

Vince said, "It means I may not help you as much as I could. But it's probably 
good for you, because it means you resist mind control anyway."

Vince had us each sit before him. Mel and Brett went too. Vince flashed a 
bicycle flashlight, and said for each of us, "Look in the light... No one will 
make you do what you don't want to... No one will make you do what you don't 
want to..." And he had Norma sit behind him and say, "You *know* he's right."

On my turn I had to say, "Well, that was easy." Vince said, "Let's talk 
later..." Then he treated all the others.

After, Vince told me: "Hypnotism always works best on people who can be told 
what to do. The last time anyone tried this, they knew what to expect. I 
researched hard for this, but nobody's ever hypnotized against Lateran before."

Shit. Still, I suited up. I couldn't give up yet.


Norma had gotten us battle suits with attachments at least as good as USIB's. 
They wouldn't boost our powers, though. That boost had to come from us. Norma 
heard how I rushed that car in Virginia, so she was sure we could do it. I was 
wondering... but then I was injured. I kept my doubts to myself. The team didn't 
need them today.

Our target was the Ferg Hotel, on Main Street in this town. The target was way 
up a driveway, surrounded by woods. Militias said they'd go through the woods to 
look in back. Norma sent Jenn and Cherryl with them. The rest of us went with 
the bus. Mel parked it on the street in front.

Then there was a bullet hole through the passenger door window! We ducked. Mel 
said, "Saved five golems just for now..."

But there was something buzzing around the driver compartment. It said, kind of 
blurry but awfully loud for a buzzing thing, "No! Move this bus right now!"

I was set up with comm equipment near the driver. I would have tried to grab 
this buzz, but I was manning the gear, and besides my foot was broken. But 
Margaret Jean lunged at the buzz.

It escaped her. And it said, "I have USIB ID! Please move the bus *now* before 
it's too late!"

Norma was up in the aisle. "Mel can move the bus if you'll just brief us, Agent 

I looked at Mel. He was frozen. I said, "Uh, Norma, maybe not."

Norma said, "Oh, damn. The hypnotism must have worked just for us. Well, we go 
with what we got."

The buzz said, "You're immune like I am? Then we have a chance!"

"Well, yeah. Calm down and brief us. But make it quick."

"Okay." It settled on the lounge table - and grew to doll size, only armored. 
"I'm USIB Agent Calvin Ferguson. I'm with a team consisting of Agents Karen 
Bodil and Mary O'Hanrahan, plus freelancers codenamed "Private Danger" and "Fire 
and Ice". We moved against this facility an hour ago. The others came under 
enemy mental control. I escaped."

"How did you come here not expecting mental control?"

"We didn't have observers! That's what USIB had agents here for! That was you, 

"Yes it was. And you went into action without all our information. Now we're 
here to clean up. But we have victims too. Can you clear their minds?"

"Maybe. If I put my helmet on their heads. If it can calibrate to them. If I 
don't lose control myself in the meantime."

"Your helmet has jamming gear?"

"Yes. It's focused on my head and my brain."

"Agent Ferguson. We have a plan. Now that you're here, we need you under 
control. Will you consent to have Agent Morgan sedate you?" Hey, Agent Morgan 
was me! I looked around for the med kit.

Agent Ferguson said, "That is an incredibly suspicious question under the 
circumstances and I will not agree to those terms." Meanwhile I found the right 
syringe in the med kit.

Norma said, "Under these conditions... Summer!"

My foot was broken from yesterday. But I still had about eight times faster 
reflexes than a normal highly-able woman. I could easily pluck a fly out of the 
air. So I grabbed this Agent Ferguson as he took off from the table, battle-suit 
and all!

... Hey, wait! I hadn't been thinking! I didn't necessarily *have* the power. I 
just used it anyway! If I could, so could my team!

I was ready to jab my needle down this agent's neck. But now I was thinking. At 
his size, it would have been like impaling him! I said, "Sorry, Director 
McMillan." Norma, that is. "Can't do it."

Agent Ferguson said, "Wow. I guess you guys are on the right side after all. So 
I've changed my mind. If you'll let me go, I'll go to normal size and let you 
sedate me. Just don't knock me out. I still want to help."

Norma said, "Good call, Agent Morgan. I'm sure you can deal with Agent Ferguson 
if the need arises. Now, if you'll excuse us, I think I see some visitors coming."

I could see out the window toward the house. Twelve short Middle Eastern men 
with bronze armor, swords, and machine guns were walking toward the bus!

Norma detached the emergency exit window on the other side of the bus - and 
strapped it on her arm. Our bus windows are bulletproof! Margaret Jean, Liz, and 
Tanya followed.

I was on my own with Agent Ferguson. I had to hope he'd free Mel and Brett to be 
Norma's backup. And I still had to watch the comms.

But still, I felt better. Game on!


My teammates worked in pairs: Norma with Tanya, and Margaret Jean with Liz. They 
held their bulletproof glass shields high and low, to cover their entire bodies. 
They bowled through the line of men, then turned around and started kicking them 
down. It took about thirty seconds. They still had the power!

Then they bolted for the woods on either side of the driveway. I knew they'd be 
going for the house next.

In the bus, Agent Ferguson put his helmet on Mel, and twiddled with buttons or 
something. Mel wasn't better yet.

On the radio, Norma said, "Watch for gorillas!" Margaret Jean and Liz dashed out 
of the woods, near the house. Norma and Tanya didn't.

Margaret Jean and Liz were dashing across the house's front lawn, to help Norma 
and Tanya. But a wall of flame sprung up in front of them, ten feet high! They 
stopped for a second. Then Liz threw Margaret Jean over the flames!

Liz was alone against whatever was generating that flame. There was a man 
covered in flame at the front of the mansion. He looked kind of like Jimmy 
Flamer, only fatter. But the flames were coming from a woman behind him, covered 
in frost! Agents Bodil and O'Hanrahan came out behind them, but started moving 
fast toward Liz. They all must have been controlled!

Liz shot her flare at them all - only it was a rocket grenade! It blew up on the 
flame guy! Thank God, he didn't fall apart into chunks of meat. This must be 
that "Private Danger" guy. But it still shook their concentration enough that 
the wall of flame looked shaky. Liz dived through it, away from the USIB agents.

A gorilla charged out of the woods when Liz got close to the trees. But it 
wasn't paying attention to Liz. Margaret Jean was riding it like a rodeo queen! 
She had the iron rope from her rappel line around its neck, and her legs around 
its waist. She was even going "Yee-Haw!"

Five other gorillas charged out, following Margaret Jean - toward the USIB 
agents and the mansion! The agents dodged.

Norma and Tanya came out of the woods behind the gorillas. They were all right! 
Well, Tanya was limping. Norma propped her up against a tree, then ran toward 
Liz. She and Liz then ran for the left side of the mansion, while Tanya aimed 
her own rocket.

One USIB agent (I think it was Bodil) went after Norma and Liz. Liz spun off to 
face her. Norma kept going, and made it around the building. Maybe she'd rescue 
Holly, or meet our other forces in the woods and have *them* rescue Holly! I 
said on Jenn and Cherryl's private channels, "Norma's coming for you!" But no 

Then a man came out on a balcony. He yelled one word, but not even the sound 
gear on the bus could pick that up.

The USIB agents came to a stop. Then the other superhumans that were fighting 
us. Then the gorillas. Okay, I got it.

Liz and Margaret Jean were looking around to find what was happening. I yelled 
into the comms, "You've met the mind control guy! He's on the balcony!" Margaret 
Jean and Tanya both fired their rockets at him.

Something shoved the guy back into the house before the rockets could hit! The 
rocket from Margaret Jean got deflected to explode on the lawn! Tanya's exploded 
in mid-air on the balcony - but the explosion all got deflected outward! I said 
in the comms, "He's got some kind of weird force field!" He had weird mind 
powers already; why not force fields?

The man came back on the balcony. He pushed something aside and forward in the 
air, maybe moving his force field. Then he gestured and spoke louder: "Nooon!"

Something thumped the front lawn near Margaret Jean and her gorilla, but I 
couldn't see what. I said, "Autumn! Incoming from the mansion front door!" 
Margaret Jean looked for it, but she couldn't see past everyone. And then she froze!

I yelled, "Spring! Liz! Invisible mind attack *and* incoming! No one can... " 
Oh, damn, I forgot the mystic phrase. "No one can tell you what to do! No one 
can tell you what to do!"

"Got it, Winter." She looked around. She saw *something* , I'm not sure what, 
but she defended. She got beaten back, but she was still standing.

I said on Tanya's private channel, "Equinox, look for an enemy around Spring!" 
We'd gotten Norma and Tanya their own code names for this assault. But Tanya was 
silent, still leaning up against her tree. *Best* case, she was under villainous 
mind control. I didn't want to think about the worst.

I checked inside the bus. Agent Ferguson was in the back, working on Brett. He 
said, "I've done what I can for the first guy. If this works at all, he'll be 
with us in five minutes or so."

I yelled to Norma, "Solstice! We're falling apart in front!" But no response.

"Spring! We've got no support for you! Fall back!" But by then she'd fallen, 
either slammed down by the villain's mind or slugged down by his super-ninja.

The villain came out the front door of the mansion. I knew by then, he must be 
Lateran himself. He sidestepped my teammates and the gorillas around them, and 
walked toward the bus.

I looked for weapons inside the bus. I hoped I'd find one of our new combat 
suits, that maybe Norma had hidden from me for some reason. But no luck.

Lateran arrived at the bus. That took him about three minutes. Outside its door 
he said, "You will be wanting to admit me."

... To Be Concluded!


Author's Notes:

This story is online at http://www.eilertech.com/stories/2010/cauldron10.htm.

My wargame table is still deciding whether Georgia is going to surrender once 
the Union conquers everything but Texas, Georgia, and Florida. But with the help 
of satellite maps, I did the combat as a thought exercise, without needing the 
table. (I love this modern age.) So this game, er, story, is about to reach its 
conclusion - next episode, right now!

The building at the center of the battle really exists. In the real world, I 
lived in that town and wondered who used it. In the Superhuman World, Wyatt 
Ferguson bought it in 2005 and declared it to be the FERG Hotel, the 
headquarters of his Freedom Engineering Research Group.

To a very real extent, I let the characters decide what was right to do. Thank 
you for not impaling my story brother, Story Summer!

Credits: Calvin Ferguson (Wyatt's responsible and sensible brother) comes from 
Mark Eiler (my own sensible brother), by much the same rules as others in my 
world. But oddly enough, all the other characters seem to be mine! They are 
therefore © copyright 2011 by Eiler Technical Enterprises.

(signed) Scott Eiler, April 2011.

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