Nanowrimo – FS Vigilance Chapter 8
In response to the comment received yesterday, back to the story from November…
Rigel was sure that she had experienced worse days. She couldn’t remember any at the moment, but she was sure that there must have been some. She adjusted the ice pack on her right temple and kept mentally commanding her body to heal. Everything hurt.
She held the Freedom Phone with her left hand. It was an old-school wired hotline phone with a direct connection to the Mayor’s office, a phone that was only able to call a single line. It seemed ridiculous, but in a world of wireless communications, this phone was very difficult to tap.
“I know…Ion, Nightstar and I were defeated by Gauntlet. Yes, sir. I know that shouldn’t happen. He had a sonic blaster. Yes, sir, we’ll be prepared better in the future. Ion is adding ear plugs to the utility belt he’s always wanted. Of course, sir, I agree that’s a good idea. Let’s hope nothing else happens.”
She put down the phone and looked over at Protector.
“I’ve got the monitors,” said Protector. He looked distracted. She didn’t need her telepathy to know that he was thinking about Snowfall.
“All right. I’m going to check on the rest of the team. I want to make sure that everyone’s okay.”
Protector shook his head. “You should go to bed.”
“I know, but it’s my team. I’m responsible for them. I promise to pass out after I’m done.”
Protector smiled for a moment, but it was a brief smile that faded back to an expression of concern.
Rigel wasn’t sure what to say, so she decided that it would be best to check on the rest of the team.
She started with Rockslide. Cori made her way to the stone garden room, a title that seemed very strange, but as Ion had said, “far better than the rock pile.” She knocked and opened the door.
There was a large pile of stones shifting around in the center of the room as well as a rumbling sound. When the team had determined that Rockslide needed stones to heal, they had filled this chamber with a geologist’s dream worth of stones. Metamorphic, igneous, sedimentary all mixed together. There were a few gems along with sand, glass, dirt and clay as well. Rockslide was barely recognizable as a humanoid form, moving his body through and over the stones. Ion had even thrown a fossil he had gotten from a museum in the mix, and Rockslide seemed to enjoy having that as part of his body.
How are you?
The rumbling and shifting subsided. She heard his thoughts in response. I’m doing well, Rigel. What about you, Nightstar and Ion? Being exposed to high-powered sonics can’t be good.
Well, we all have ruptured eardrums, though that sounds worse than it is. People rupture their eardrums with cotton swabs all the time and usually can still hear. Ion, Nightstar and I can hear, but we will probably experience symptoms like dizziness or ringing in the ears for the next few weeks. The worse part for me right now is the nausea. Whatever that sound attack was it had a focused element to it as well as the loud noise. Basically, it generated a concentrated vibration that attacked our bodies’ soft tissues. That sort of attack can cause lung and blood vessel damage, heart issues, etc.
The rocks formed into the familiar shape of her large teammate. Wait, how badly are you hurt? Anything permanent?
He leaned forward and two gemstone eyes glittered at her. Even though he was made of stones, she could feel his concern. She placed a white-gloved hand on his massive shoulder.
Fortunately not. Ion has a physiology made to handle high voltages. A vibration isn’t going to do but so much damage. In addition to all of my mental abilities, I can also enhance my nervous system and control my body. I’m focusing on healing and I’m good at something when I put my mind to it.
Rockslide made a rumbling noise.
What about Nightstar?
“Nightstar,” she said aloud, “isn’t really human. He’s from somewhere else – doesn’t really age like we do, a mystical extra-dimensional.”
Is he one of the Fae?
“No, he’s…um…I don’t really know exactly.”
Have you ever read Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny?
Rigel laughed. “My father’s name is Corwin, you know. Anyway, the answer is yes.”
I wonder if he’s like that, an immortal prince traveling between worlds.
“Rockslide, it’s so comforting to talk to you. You’ve nearly made me forget everything that’s gone wrong today.”
“So, I’m glad you are okay. If anything happens out there in the city, I’m afraid the team’s going to need you.”
Rockslide responded by slamming one stony fist into a rocky hand with a loud crunching sound. Cori put her hands to her ears and winced.
“It’s okay, and you are making me feel rather confident. Thanks. I need to go check on the others.”
“He’s one of the ones I need to check on. I’ll let you know.”
Rockslide nodded and Rigel left. She had intended to go see Ion and then Nightstar, but Snowfall’s situation was far more serious. She headed down a set of stairs to the basement and the medical bay. Of course, someone would have contacted her if things had changed… but still.
Starlight was in the room, setting up what appeared to be laser equipment. Kerenza had taken off her Solaria mask and was assisting Dr. Lord set up what appeared to be a surgical theatre. Snowfall still appeared to be frozen solid.
“How is he?” Cori asked.
“Stable,” replied Jake. “We are going to be sealing off the room shortly. I’m going to operate with Solaria and Starlight’s help. We’ll see if Starlight can detect the poison and then with Solaria working to counteract the cold, I’ll see if I can get in and cut out most of the toxin. We’ll have to be careful, of course. What’s left, we’ll try to destroy by crossing low-power energy beams. It’s going to take a while.”
“What do you need from me?”
“Well, I’d like you to rest after the sonic thrashing you received, not to mention the number of guns that were used to bludgeon you into unconsciousness. However, Cori, since that seems unlikely as you are a notoriously bad patient, I’ll settle for you making sure that this room stays sealed off. I’ll need Solaria and Starlight’s full attention.”
Starlight paused from his work. “My apologies, Dr. Lord, but according to my calculations, I do not believe you will need my complete attention. My mental capabilities are such that I am able to successfully multi-task.”
Jake sighed. “Kerenza and I will need to devote our whole attention to the procedure.”
“Whatever you need, Doc, just save him,” said Solaria.
Rigel nodded. “Okay. Best of luck to you all. Let me know if I can help in any other way, besides making the med bay off-limits.”
Rigel let them all get back to work. She shut the door and sealed it. “Protector, please let everyone know not to enter the medical bay. There’s a surgery going on.”
“No, Snowfall. Jake will make sure he’s okay.”
She made her way to the sub-basement. Ion kept his room downstairs. It was a good idea. He always thought that if there was a supervillain attack on Freedom Squad Headquarters, they’d attack the top floors, so he chose to stay in the basement.
While everyone on the team had rooms in the base, some members of the team kept their own apartments or homes outside of the base. Both Kerenza and Kyle had places of their own, while Alex kept his own apartment as well.
Although Ion had originally had a place of his own, he’d given it up to be a full-time hero. The base offered him lots of opportunities to tinker and work on building devices. His favorite hobby seemed to be developing a utility belt. He was probably trying to develop gadgets for that belt as often as Nightstar was working on the Night Cycle.
Rigel knocked on the door. She heard a faint moan. Taking that to mean “come in”, she opened the door slowly. Ion lifted his head from his pillow.
“I can still hear. Anything going on?”
“No,” Cori said. “Just checking on you.”
“I’m not ready to get up for school yet.” Ion pulled the pillow over his head.
Rigel chuckled. “No need to get up. You are doing what you should. Get your rest.”
She pulled the door closed.
A wave of nausea hit her. She leaned back against one of the walls in the hallway. A moment later the feeling subsided. “Okay, was that eardrums or partially liquefied stomach?” she said to herself.
She decided that she didn’t want to know the answer.
“Okay, time to find Nightstar and then follow Ion’s lead and collapse.”
She went to Nightstar’s room up on the second floor. She didn’t really understand why a man who wore mirrorshades to protect his eyes from light wanted to have a room with windows. She knocked on his door.
He opened the door so fast that she nearly fell inside. “You okay?” he asked.
She blinked. “I’m fine.”
He walked back inside his room, leaving the door open. She followed.
Nightstar’s room was decorated in dark colors with black fabric and deep red carpets. A bookshelf dedicated to lava lamps of every color imaginable stood on one wall. A smaller bookshelf held books, mostly classics, but a copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance had its own position of importance on top of the shelf.
He had divided the room into a sitting area and a sleeping area, with a curtain he could pull to divide them. Rigel wasn’t sure what the point of the curtain was, as she couldn’t imagine why he would need privacy from his own sitting area.
The sitting section had a throw rug with a picture of Nightstar on it. Cori rolled her eyes everytime she saw it, but Nightstar always seemed amused by her reaction. He had a leather recliner with a view of a flat screen television mounted on the wall. A love seat and a few end tables along with a large picture of San Francisco at night completed the scene.
He sat down on the recliner. “So, have we figured out what’s going on yet?”
“What do you mean?” asked Rigel, as she found the love seat and flopped on it.
He grinned at her. “We never have a day like this. Never. I never had a day at New Citadel like this. It’s obvious that someone’s manipulating events. We need to figure out who. I keep envisioning some calculating mathematical villain trying to figure out how to arrange probabilities to destroy us.”
Cori sighed. “I agree.”
“So, do you think that it’s some kind of mathematical villain?”
“No,” she said. “I mean that I agree something is going on. It’s strange.”
Another wave of nausea hit her. Cori gripped the love seat to steady herself.
“Are you okay?” asked Nightstar. “I have my own bathroom.”
She raised her hand and sat up. Fortunately, like the previous bout of nausea, it passed. “I’m okay. I suspect it’s the burst eardrums. I’m sorry, Nightstar, but I think I need to get to bed.”
“I’d agree with that,” said Nightstar, standing. He went over and offered his hand. She took it.
As soon as she stood up, she felt as if she was about to lose her balance. Nightstar gently put his hands on her shoulders. “Unless you protest, I’m going to make sure you get safely to your room.”
She shook her head and immediately realized that it was a mistake. She put a hand on his. “Give me a second before we start moving, but I won’t protest. I promise. What about you, Nightstar? Are you having nausea or balance issues?”
“No. Well, not really. Much. I’m Nightstar. I’ll be fine. My body has to be strong enough to hold the Eternal Darkness, remember?”
“Right,” said Cori, feeling steadier. “Okay, let’s change the subject. What about Nine Princes in Amber? Have you ever read it?”
“That seems to be a little non sequitur. However, I have read it. I read the other books too. I want to build a computer like Merlin in the second series.”
Cori started walking down the hall with him. She felt much better, but she was still looking forward to finding her bed. “Seriously?”
“Yes. I sometimes wonder if Zelazny knew a member of my family.”
“How many family members do you have out there?”
“I’m not sure, but there are certainly a few. Whenever a new hero or villain shows up, I’m always worried that they are a relative.”
They got to Cori’s room. She turned the knob and opened the door. The first thing that she saw was her telescope.
“Are you sure that you are okay?”
“I’ll be fine, Nightstar. Thanks. There are going to be better days than this.”
“Nearly all of them.”
With that, she shut the door, walked over to her bed and lay down. A quick thought shifted her costume into a nightgown, and Cori closed her eyes.