Startup Escalation 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Cauldron Cauldron II .
Cauldron II: Part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 .
Superhuman World 2010 is a work of fiction. The characters herein and the commentary about them should not be considered "real".
SUPERHUMAN WORLD 2010
Cauldron Book II Part 6
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.
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 1999..."
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, because the guys in the bus carried that battle... 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 Ferguson."
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, right?"
"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 response.
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: "NON!" Like a big No, only with an outrageous accent.
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, Summer." 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!
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. The map of the Superhuman World is based on one from Henry Bottomley's map software which is well worth a visit.
(signed) Scott Eiler, April 2011.