SG-1996: (2/4) Reflections Refracted

Eric Burns sabre at
Tue Mar 28 14:30:52 PDT 2017

[Beginning of Part Two]

     In the master control room her systems were housed in, just beyond the
Xolchaportation station JOEL couldn't currently reach, a man was standing
in front of the sophisticated consoles that housed the intellect and
processing capacity of the sentient digital intelligence was housed in. He
had been part of the alpha strike, and his part had gone perfectly, cutting
off communications and taking out their base AI all in one go.
     Which meant his work for Random Encounters was done -- all he had to
do now was collect his reward. And he was well on his way to doing *that*
all by himself.
     The monitors were scrambled -- a woman's face pixelating and
electronic shrieks blending into oddly human ones. His four-posted units
were mounted in the precise locations to do their work, their energies and
their vortices alike playing through the systems the AI called home. *"Stop
it!"* the voice shrieked at one point.
     "Oh, I can't do that," he said, smiling. His name was Doctor Unstable,
and he was never one to ignore opportunity when it came along. "You see...
your dear friend Mirror Maid... oh, I'm sorry... *Reflects...* well, she
told Random Encounters that your sentience came about when Summer of Team
M.E.C.H.A. fused with your systems and imprinted part of her personality on
your expert systems. It's an *amazing* story. You're *very* special."
     "*STOP IT!!!"*
     Doctor Unstable adjusted the gain. "The thing is... a fusion like
that... would only be possible thanks to your progenitor's
nanotechnological basis. It's like no other nanotechnological matrix ever
known. Even the Science siblings say that their brother Odd was mystified
by what Summer became... but if she used it to turn you into a sentient
being... she must have left nanites behind. Nanites that have become part
of *you*. The physical part of the digital intellect. The ultimate First
*and* Second Layer. Getting those nanites from Summer would be...
prohibitively difficult... but you? You would have no *real* defenses to
stop this. Which means I can extract them. Extract them *all*."
     Jenny shrieked again, the screens scrolling between data and flashes
of twisted faces in agony, all in yellow and green and blue....
     "Of course... that means your sentience will be... consumed... by the
process. Especially since I don't want you lurking in the extracted matrix.
But don't worry. This is for *science*. Besides... you've been dead before,
right? So it can't be too frightening. Just relax. Stop struggling. Let it
happen." His smile was almost beatific. "It would be ever so helpful."


     The woman in green was almost lying fetal on the field. The speedsters
circled her like Piranha. And on the edge of the frenzy....
     On the edge, a look of unholy glee on his face, stood Professor Watt.
     Professor Watt had been the scientist doing illicit experiments on
animals, trying to enhance their speed and reflexes through biochemistry.
He had made great progress... but somehow nothing he did could compare to
Alice, who was now called Momentum. Other subjects aged rapidly, or their
nervous systems collapsed... or other complications arose. Not Alice. She
was completely stable, and faster than any of his other subjects.
     Of course, this latest group was *close.* Maybe a top speed of five
hundred miles an hours instead of six? But as wide a gap as that was in
theory, in an actual fight they would be close to her speed -- which meant
that unlike that time in the courtroom, the sheer number of speedsters
would tear down Alice if she fought.
     Not that she was likely to fight.
     "You've spent so long keeping me from the knowledge that is rightfully
mine!" Watt shouted, his own voice accelerated. "But thanks to a few
breakthroughs, I have a temporary version of my formula that should be safe
enough for my minions and I... and thanks to your friend *Mirror Maid *I
now know of your terror of telepathic contact! Thus do these
psi-broadcasters keep you stunned and weak while my men and women get in
position, Alice! We shall take you this time, and we shall bring you where
none will find you! We shall dissect you and test you and learn what makes
your treatment so successful! Your stolen speed will be paid for in full!
And if you don't survive... well, we were going to do this the easy way but
you didn't want that! Thankfully Random Encounters knew he needed me and
mine to make sure you were as helpless as your allies! And now... we shall
take you... just like *he* took *them!*"
     "Hey, Boss?" Dave -- one of his lab assistants who he'd accelerated
for this job -- said. "I thought she was... like, brown haired with, like,
yellow lightning bolts down her green uniform's sides?"
     "That's right, fool! What of it?"
     Dave cocked his head. "That's a redhead. And there's only, like, a
little red on that uniform. No yellow at all."
     Watt blinked. "What? Well, she must have changed--"
     *Red haired speedster in green with red trim.....*
     "...oh no...." Watt whispered.
     The speedsters had incredibly enhanced perceptions. They could watch a
hummingbird flap his wings in slow motion, if they wanted to do that, which
honestly none of them did. And yet, the woman lying on the ground stood up
in a literal eyeblink even from their perception -- her movement being
measured not in tenths or hundredths of a second, but nanoseconds. She
stood easily and relaxed, though even the small twitches of her muscle
seemed to blur. Twenty minutes before she had been on the other side of the
planet, but that was hardly a problem. Three trips from Boston to Austin
and back to ferry the others had been no problem at *all.* Had the
speedsters and Watt not been accelerated, the words she started to say
would have just been a blur. As it was... they could *just* be made out....

     Doctor Watts had twelve assistants plus himself. There were also
random encounter monsters and enemies circling the estate, aggroed by the
incursion. All the speedsters could go hundreds of miles an hour without
trouble. The monsters all had powers of their own.
     The Dash, however, could go tens of thousands of miles an hour with
little effort at all, and very few monsters could meet her toe to toe. She
began to move, weaving through and around the speedsters like they were
statues, striking, hitting and kicking over and over again, alternating
between using their inertia against them with throws and striking against
them directly as needed.
     A pack of giant spiders, six trolls and a street gang, all summoned as
random encounters, all ran for the fight... only to have a sudden ripple of
the environment on the lawn, where a telepathic illusion had concealed
three women. One of those women was the selfsame Momentum. The second,
naturally, was Healer -- whose telepathy had hidden them and whose ability
to nullify superhuman abilities had let the Dash slow down to Momentum's
speed and then wait for Watt to monologue for a few minutes.
     The third, to the reader's complete non-surprise and the utter shock
of everyone else around, was Dangerousgirl. She ran ten steps forward and
exploded into a burst of nuclear fire and force that flung her twenty five
feet into the air, flipping at apogee and raining impact and firebursts
down onto the spiders and trolls. Momentum swung through and slammed into
the street gang, each one screaming as they discorporated back into magical
essence -- that was one of the things about Random Encounters and his
beasties -- they all lacked personality or life. They existed to be random
and give experience, and there was no XP system in the real world.
     Healer, in the meantime, locked her thoughts onto Watt, twisting his
perceptions around and doing a surface probe. }{Watt's throwaway line about
Mirror Maid fits his understanding of the facts,}{ she sent. }{He seems to
think she goes by Reflects now, and that she's willingly working with
Random Encounters.}{
     Momentum's thoughts growled in reply, her anger at the telepathic
contact reined in by her having agreed to let Healer coordinate the attack
since they had little intel. ((I don't believe it,)) she thought back.
((They told me about Random Encounters -- he's literally the man who froze
her in silver!))
     ((It could be mind control or some other influence,)) the Dash's
thoughts rippled out, filtered barely enough to be comprehensible. ((But we
can't take the chance -- how dangerous is Mirror Maid?))
     ((Dangerous,)) Dangerousgirl thought grimly, landing in the middle of
the troll pack with an explosion that sent five of them back to where they
were going, then rolling onto her side and firing up at a giant Roc that
was sweeping overhead, bursting it into nothingness too. ((She's immune to
almost all of our attacks before we begin. Mo and the Dash can't touch her,
I can't hurt her -- Doc, can she be stopped with telepathy?))
     }{I honestly have no idea,}{ Healer sent back, running for the mansion
even as she telepathically skewed the speedsters' sense of up and down,
making them easier prey for the Dash. }{Assume not. Do we have a plan B?}{
     ((Yup,)) Dangerousgirl sent back. She catapulted herself towards the
building again. ((Can you sense Roger and the others?))
     }{Yes -- Roger's in a separate wing along with Hellfire and some other
woman. They seem to be in a lot of pain. The psi-shielding means I can't
contact them but I know where they are ***[[FWASH]]*** and now so do you.}{
     ((Right -- I'll head there, because I'm going to rescue him and
because getting a mage on our side is a really good idea right now.))
Dangerousgirl's inner voice was icy with rage. ((How about the others?))
     }{Mostly in the main part of the building -- it's harder to get a fix.
That's our target, Momentum. Dash--}{
     ((I'll take a few and nail the other exterior encounters, then sweep
the halls before coming in to assist in the main. No sense in getting
bushwacked over and over again. And for the record I have a *bad* feeling
about this.))
     ((Join the club,)) Dangerousgirl returned, hitting the ground with
another burst and hurling herself towards the wing of the building where
Roger apparently was. They were nowhere near out of the fire.


     "The Dash? The *Dash?*" Random Encounters was practically apoplectic .
"What is *she* doing here? With *Dangerousgirl *no less! Why would they
ever think to come here?!"
     Reflects winced. "Dangerousgirl's kinda dating Roger Nobody. She must
     "She's *what?* Why didn't I know that?!"
     "Because I didn't tell you," Sensation said, fairly seething himself.
"I figured it didn't matter who the dead kid was mooning after. I mean,
she's out of his league, real--"
     "Everything matters, you malodorous buffoon! That's the essence of
random encounters! Every additional random factor changes the adventure!"
Random Encounters turned to Reflects. "I was going to demand your
punishment, but it's clear it's not your fault. *This* time. But as for
*you,* Sensation--"
     "Dangerousgirl will go for Roger! I can stop her there!" Reflects's
heart was pounding. If Sensation lost his powers--
     "You? You can stop a woman who punched Satan back into Hell<tm>?!"
     "Satan didn't reflect Dangerousgirl's power back in her face! I will!"
     Random Encounters lifted his chin, looking down at the girl. "And the
     "The Dash can't coordinate well with other team members because of her
speed. Healer's Healer, but Alice isn't that experienced."
     "Yes, well. A telepath isn't going to have much effect on my generated
hordes. All right. You and Sensation get to the Library and stop
Dangerousgirl. I'll double-down here. Though it would be easier if these
damn kids would just get to *dying!*"
     "So shoot them in the head," Sensation sounded annoyed. "They can't
stop you. That'll get everyone in here but Mighty Dog, and he's not about
     "Oh no. They need to suffer as they die!"
     Sensation rolled his eyes. "Then we'd better get to the Library." He
began to run. "*Reflects!*" he shouted. Authoritatively.
     And like a good possession, Reflects followed -- at least as fast as
she could in the tall heels of her thigh boots.

     Healer slid the window slowly open, then moved inside. She looked
around with full perception, then nodded Momentum forward. The speedster
practically teleported she moved so fast. Healer then turned and began to
close the window.
     ((What are you doing?!)) Momentum didn't like think-talking, but it
had come pretty naturally to her. She didn't like *that* either.
     }{Never let them know how you got in,}{ Healer sent back. }{We know
they know we're here -- if we don't leave evidence of our entrance then
they have to actually find us to know where we are or where we've been.}{
She narrowed her eyes. }{I can sense nervous systems out there, but only
one out of five has a mind connected to it.}{
     ((Random Encounters,)) Momentum thought back. ((I expected that after
the monsters on the lawn.))
     }{Me too -- that's why the Dash is clearing out the other levels and
the surrounding acreage. We don't want to get flanked. All right. We need
to do this quietly. Let me take point.}{
     ((You're a telepath. The constructs don't have real minds. How are
*you* supposed to take point.))
     Healer smiled slightly. }{I know you think I'm just a mind-witch
teacher, Alice. By all means, let me call class into session.}{
     Momentum wrinkled her nose. ((You read my mind? Got my opinions
     }{Alice. For someone with a great poker face in a card game? You're
*terrible* at hiding your emotions. I don't need to read your mind when you
make reading your face so easy. Come on.}{
     Healer moved smoothly, letting her sense of the constructs' nervous
systems guide her movements. There -- one group of them....
     They were a street gang. Four of them. Generic and stereotypical. And
all black or hispanic, thanks to the racist xenophobe who had summoned
them. Another thing to hate about him. She could feel their sight, their
sense of touch, but nothing on the inside. So much the better. She reached
up, unclipping a barrette that she had put in her hair when she put it up
before the fight. Oddly, none of the hair moved, as though it weren't a
load bearing barrette.
     Healer pushed on the metal tab, feeling a slight buzz, and tossed the
barrette into the middle of the group as they passed Healer and Momentum
position. It tinged once, metal on hardwood, drawing the attention of the
     It then burst into light and sound -- a hard *crack* that caused the
constructs to reel. Healer pulled herself forward using the doorframe to
get to speed, body-checking one, wheeling and kicking into the chin of a
second, punching forward into the third. She spun, catching the fourth into
a sudden sharp neck lock and dropped to the floor, bringing the construct
down with a crack.
     And then the four gang members melted into purple and white light and
were gone.
     ((You wear a grenade in your *hair?*)) Momentum thought, a little
     }{A flashbang, yes. You don't want to know where the explody-kind are
tucked away.}{ Healer was moving down the hall, her thoughts obscuring the
sight of construct and sentient alike, Momentum staying on her six as they
     ((After you said that? I kinda do.)) Momentum smiled, very slightly.
     Healer flashed her a smile back, then went back to work.


     Dangerousgirl was many things, but a subtle spy wasn't one of them.
Rather than sneak through halls or windows, she simply smashed in the wall
closest to the library and jumped inside.
     Her eyes grew wide as she looked within. Roger and some girl -- Melody
somethingorother from when Rog was her, so what she was doing here
Dangerousgirl had no idea -- were bound up on some kind of stone table, an
orb in the middle holding a burnt trading card which had lashed the two
together with some kind of energy. And there was screaming. Lots of
screaming. There was also some kind of tub with amber syrup being poured
into it--
     And three faceless guys in robes and a one eyed giant with a club. The
giant *roared--*
     Dangerousgirl kicked off a detonation, flinging her straight at the
giant. She slammed her fist under his jaw, an explosion blowing him off his
feet and onto the floor. The explosion pushed her back which she turned
into a backflip, firing nuclear firebolts -- all force and no radiation,
the same kind that MeltDown of CalForce used -- into two of the
mage-things, before she landed on the third with both feet, a concussive
burst both shuddering through him and cushioning her landing.
     All four melted into purple and white light and were gone, leaving her
     Roger screamed again, shouting *"Dangerousgirl!"*
     "Hang on, Nobody," Dangerousgirl said, running over, her field up. She
felt irrational pride at Roger using the codename -- torture wasn't enough
for him to break her cover. "Is there a problem with me just blasting the
Hell<tm> out of this thing?
     "You can't!" Melody screamed. "The backlash will deto--AUGH!"
     "Right! Bad idea -- what can I do?"
     *"The card!"* Roger screamed. He sounded tinny, like a bad speaker.
Dangerousgirl could see his very ghostlike form was beginning to smolder
inside the field. *"Organic material can penetrate the field! If you
destroy the card--"*
     "I'll be *pissed off!*"
     Dangerousgirl had managed to whirl to face the new speaker, dropping
into a defensive position, when suddenly every nerve ending of her body
seemed to suddenly *burn* -- the pain excruciating, inside and out. It was
like molten steel had poured through her veins while electricity fried her
nervous system. Some man was at the side door that led to the hall, staring
at her, the pain making it next to impossible to focus, and next to him--
     A blur of silver that Dangerousgirl barely recognized as Mirror Maid,
wearing some kind of black corset, panties and thigh boots, ran straight at
Dangerousgirl, wheeling back her fist. She drove it forward, passing
straight through Dangerousgirl's defensive field -- the field's energies
splaying in every direction -- and doubled the One-Woman China Syndrome
over with a hit to the midsection. Dangerousgirl felt the breath leave her
body but the pain was so bad to begin with she barely registered the punch.
She registered the next, though -- a backhand across the face that
threatened to snap Dangerousgirl's head clean off and threw her half-way
across the room into the rubble of the wall. The pain being inflicted on
her by that guy hadn't stopped, so it was impossible to know how badly
she'd been hurt. She just knew that she was already behind on points, and
couldn't begin to take down Mirror Maid if she couldn't concentrate! Not if
she wanted *anyone* to survive!
     "Very good, Reflects! Now -- don't hold back! This girl isn't one of
our targets -- don't delay! Just beat her to death!"
     "R-reflects?" Dangerousgirl asked, shuddering with another wave of
pain. "Little on the nose don't you thIIIINAUUUGH!" The pain intensified,
even as Mirror Maid -- no, *Reflects* -- began hitting her... again and
again and again....


     The two guards waited in front of one set of double doors, which
themselves were closed. A makeshift checkpoint, apparently.
     }{Okay,}{ Healer sent. }{They're real.}{
     ((So give me two to three seconds and they can be really unconscious.))
     }{Not yet. When we're in the main fight, you're going to be frontline.
That means holding you in reserve now. I can take them down easily enough.}{
     ((How? Brain blast?)) Momentum didn't manage to keep her nervousness
out of her mental voice.
     }{Not if I can help it. Telepathic attacks are almost always
psychically traumatic. There's a reason I mostly use illusion and
misdirection. If it's necessary then it's necessary -- but these two don't
need that level.}{
     ((Then how do you get them? Invisibility and punching?))
     }{Harder than it looks -- it's an open hallway, which means I'd have
to obfuscate the whole way down. I can do it, mind, but it's better to get
their brains helping out in the process.}{
     ((How do you manage *that?*))
     Healer smiled a bit, kneeling down. She worked a hidden catch on her
boots, and a concealed heel snapped out on each one. She stood fluidly,
checked her balance, and nodded, before sauntering around the corner and
out, her mind flowing even as their attention was drawn....
     Momentum's own eyes grew wider as Healer approached the pair. She
could *see* Healer's telepathy weaving around their perceptions, drawing
them in... letting them fill in the details of what they saw... a lush girl
in not much clothing and midnight black hair, holding two ice cold sodas as
she walked down the hall in a practiced move that dated back to the first
day heels were put on feet. "Hey boys," she said, grinning. "Who's thirsty?"
     "Who're you?" one of the guards asked, eyes getting wider -- but he
didn't lift his gun. In fact, Momentum could see the two of them unloading
their submachineguns and slipping them to their back, even though she could
tell they *thought* they were still holding them.
     "Random Encounters sent me -- he wanted to make sure the *real* guards
were... *refreshed.*" She smiled coyly. "And it turns out this place is
practically drowning in RC Cola."
     "That... sounds really good," one of the guards said. "So when did you
get here?"
     "Oh, the boss and I go *way* back." She handed the cans to the pair,
and let them open them. "I'm glad there's something other than bug-monsters
and dying teenagers here, though. Gives me the creeps."
     "You and me both," the other guard said. "I can't say I'm happy about
this job."
     "You're here, aren't you?" the first guard said.
     "Well, yeah. Cash does that, y'know?"
     "Riiiight." The two drank.
     Momentum watched the two, still smiling, slump unconscious to the
floor. ((What... did you do to them?)) she asked.
     }{Essentially a psionic roofie. They took it in willingly so it won't
cause real damage. They'll just sleep in dreamless sleep for the next few
hours.}{ Momentum saw her look at the two, her mind sweeping over theirs. A
scan, but she could *see* Healer's scanning technique -- a ruffle through
their thoughts, looking for surface knowledge for their mission. She
shivered, but at least intellectually she could accept that Healer wasn't
burrowing into them with her mind.
     ((So... I didn't hear them speak, at least with my ears--))
     }{I'd pulled them into my mindscape. The whole interaction happened
there, so they wouldn't warn anyone else.}{ She was collapsing the heels
back into her boots as she spoke. }{You're in the circuit, so you must have
gotten an echo of the interaction.}{
     ((So... why the spy-heel boot thing?))
     }{Because doing an illusion of walking in heels to cover walking in
sensible shoes is exponentially harder than just mapping over my own walk.
There's no reason to waste strength or concentration when it's
     ((So... the actual walking was all you? Man, I thought *I* could walk
in heels.))
     Healer grinned. }{It comes up in the spy trade. A lot. No sign of
anyone beyond the door.}{
     Momentum joined Healer, stepping over the two comatose guards, and
they stepped through the doors. Healer carefully closed them, then locked
them with a 'thunk.' She reached up, withdrawing two bobby pins from her
hair. She pressed the round ends of the pins into the lock, pushing hard
enough to cause them to crack, followed by a hissing sound as metal
deformed. ((What're you doing?)) Momentum thought back.
     }{If there's reinforcements we missed on that side of those doors,
they'll have that much more trouble getting through them to help their
boss. And if they have a key, with a little luck they'll waste precious
time trying to get it work on slagged locks or even break it.}{
     ((Is this really how you see missions?))
     Healer looked at Momentum, smiling slightly. }{Every op can be reduced
to two factors -- the objective and the opposition. If you can reach the
objective while bypassing the opposition, so much the better. Otherwise,
reducing the opposition through confusion, obstacle or elimination means
the objective's easier.}{
     There were the distant sounds of explosions. (( that--))
     }{Dangerousgirl? Yup. Let's go.}{

[End of Part Two]
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the superguy mailing list