Lengthening Shadows 3.5

Jet looked over at Legion again. Something wasn’t right.

“You sure you’re okay?” Jet asked again.

“Never better. This is great! Getting to mess around at school in-costume? Pretty sweet. At least, better than sitting through US history.”

“I don’t think-“

“Hey, you think they’ll give us tomorrow off? I bet they will.”

“Yeah, at least. They’ll probably finally get around to installing those metal detectors,” Jet frowned. Legion was awfully cheerful, given his usual disposition.

“Aw man, that means I won’t be able to bring this to school anymore,” Legion brandished a small handgun, the same one Jamisson had confiscated after the fight with the Collswell City Specialists.

“Holy shit!” Jet exclaimed. “You have a gun in school?”

“All of the Chipheads do,” rationalized Legion flippantly, but Jet wasn’t buying it.

“That doesn’t make it okay for us! It’s still illegal! You could get booted off the team for that.”

“Eh, never happened to me before. And anyway, it’s not like I’m going to use it on anyone who can’t take a bullet.”

Jet turned and confronted Legion, stopping him with a hand on his shoulder.

“Okay, what the hell is up with you? You’re acting really strange.”

“I told you, I’m fine. I’m great.”

Jet scoffed. “You haven’t been ‘great’ the whole time I’ve known you.”

“Don’t I have the right to be? For once?”

“Of course you do, but…” Jet grunted in frustration. “This isn’t like you. It’s like-“

Jet’s eyes drifted down to Legion’s left hand -the one without a gun in it- which held a small red and blue pill. “Fuck. Luke, is that-” Jet knew something was up, but he hadn’t expected this.

“What does it matter?” said Legion confrontationally.

“What does it matter?” choked Jet. “Luke, Pils are made by Blackwell. They’re the antithesis of what we do. Not to mention that possession is illegal, or that they destroy your liver. And who knows what kind of drug interactions those have with your… Shit, man, I can’t believe you would do that.”

“I’m immortal. I could OD all I want and I’d be fine.”

“That wouldn’t cure an addiction!” shouted Jet. “And that’s not my point. You’re supporting Blackwell. Christ, if Commandant ever gets out-“

A distant explosion echoed through the halls.

“-we’ll talk about this later.”


As Plateau pushed through the double-doors, Kismet grabbed him by the back of his costume and forcefully pulled him back.

“What the-” he started to exclaim, but was cut off as the metal doors exploded outwards.

The doors screeched and tore as the two enormous men who had been waiting on the other side crashed through them. They were unnaturally pale, skin hard and white as alabaster, square-jawed, and nearly identical. Cold blue eyes glowed and swirled like a liquid beneath an angular brow completely devoid of eyebrows or any hair at all. Instead, their heads were capped with a pair of jagged ridges which connected into the base of their skull. They were not muscular, at least they didn’t appear to be, but when they moved, there was an inhuman force and precision behind their movements that belied their true strength.

Kismet shoved Plateau back, getting him at range where he could be more effective, then dodged to the side of one of the men to get in a blind spot, but had to backpedal furiously when he reacted far faster than she had expected. Her power giving her extra time to respond was the only thing stopping her ribcage from being crushed when the man threw out a punch like a piston at where she would have been. She recovered quickly and backed up a few paces for good measure. These guys were huge, but they were also fast- too fast.

Plateau had righted himself by now, and was attempting to box in their legs, but they seemed relatively unhampered, only taking a moment to shatter the ceramic encasing their lower legs. Where do I recognize them from? he wondered briefly, but his thought process was interrupted when one of the men suddenly leapt towards him. He created a hasty wall from the floor, but the man smashed through it with a resounding crash! Plateau stumbled back as the man advanced again, but stopped in his tracks as Adam interposed himself between them.

The man’s eyes flashed, and he spoke. ‘Your presence has been requested,’ he said, his voice deep and distinctly electronic.

Adam stood his ground. Next to the man, he looked laughably small, but from Plateau’s perspective on the ground, they appeared of equal height.

“What for?” Adam asked.

The man didn’t answer, instead he reached out and attempted to pick Adam up. Adam, though, wasn’t having any of it, and ducked under the man’s reaching hands. He dashed forward and grappled the man around the waist and drove him to the ground. The man rolled immediately to his feet, throwing Adam off and into a wall. Adam twisted in the air and rebounded agiley off the wall at what seemed like an impossible angle. The man was ready this time, though, and caught Adam in one enormous hand. Twisting his shoulder far beyond what ought to have been possible, he used Adam’s momentum to whip him into the ceiling with enough force to annihilate a few ceiling tiles into white plaster dust which gently showered the man below. Adam, defying expectations, failed to fall back down.

Plateau took the opening and raised up a section of floor beneath one of the man’s feet. The man simply ignored it, shifting his weight immediately to his other foot, but now he only had one foot supporting him. Adam dropped down from the ceiling as Plateau retracted the platform from under the man’s foot, and their combined efforts toppled him over. He hit the ground, hard.

Kismet was on the defensive. The man attacked constantly, driving her back down the hall as she ducked and wove expertly around his blows. Kismet was breathing hard, and he wasn’t. She could theoretically evade him as long as she wanted, because she could see his attacks before he made them, but she was tiring much faster than the man was. She needed to end this, and fast.

She dodged a punch aimed at her head before skipping away from a stomp at her feet, then a kick at her midsection. There was only about a half second between each attack. Another punch, economical and forceful. Another kick. Kismet almost laughed out loud as she realized it. There was exactly a half-second between attacks. He’d been lulled into a rhythm. He was strong, and fast, but unskilled. An open-handed jab brushed past her ribs by half an inch, followed by a knee that would have liquified her pelvis. Up close, Kismet could make out a faint chemical smell coming from the man, like ozone and antifreeze.

He must be boosting, thought Kismet. I can use that. His next punch, Kismet was ready for. She caught the man’s arm and pulled, using his momentum against him to pull him off balance. Like she expected, he wasn’t prepared for the sudden shift in tactics and crashed to the floor.

What the hell, I’ve always wanted to try this, thought Kismet as she performed what is known in the WWE as an elbow drop. There was an uncomfortably loud *Crack!* and Kismet could feel the man’s back give, just a little. Oh crap, I hope I didn’t just break his spine, Kismet thought briefly, but then leaped off the man to avoid being thrown violently off when he did a kip-up to his feet. Ironic that I felt relieved for a moment.

Adam and Plateau struggled to keep their man down. Plateau managed to pin his arms down with ceramic loops from the floor tiles for long enough to get out a cube of the special carbon-fiber composite Dr. Mind made for situations like this. It was incredibly strong, but, more importantly, was also very light compared to other materials, meaning Plateau could create a lot of it, and very quickly. The cube expanded rapidly, Plateau moving his hands quickly through the air to help his focus.

The man had no intention of staying down, and threw Adam off into the oncoming mass of carbon-fiber, knocking it out of the air. Adam and the beginnings of the carbon-fiber cage flew back towards Plateau and caught him square in the chest. Plateau and Adam collapsed in a heap.

Kismet stared in disbelief as a rivulet of blue fluid trickled down the man’s torso from the spiderweb crack in his chest.

This is definitely not normal, thought Kismet. What are these guys?

He was much more cautious now, staying further back and attacking only when Kismet glanced away at how Adam and Plateau were faring. Against anyone else it would have worked, but Kismet could always see him coming. It was a strange situation where he couldn’t hit her, but she couldn’t hurt him. At this point, she knew, it was just a matter of finding some weakness and exploiting it before he wore her completely out. Soft spots. I can do that.

She spun her tonfa, shifting her grip to get more reach. If she let him hit her in the arm, he would shatter it, tonfa or not, so she couldn’t exactly block anyway. Reverse grip wouldn’t be helpful here.

When he stepped in to hit her with an open palm, she sidestepped fluidly, using the left tonfa to slapping his arm aside with her a *Clack!* She stepped in close and jabbed him hard in his armpit with the right tonfa. He didn’t so much as flinch.

Nothing. That would have dislocated anyone else’s arm.

Her next attack was a reverse grip jab under his chin with her left tonfa, reaching under the right. This succeeded in snapping his head back sharply, but didn’t seem to disorient him like it should have. She estimated she only had maybe half a second before the man would grab her with his free arm, so she started to duck out of the man’s reach, taking a moment to knee him in the groin.

If all else fails…

She skipped nimbly back a few paces, pushing off the ground with the tonfa to get extra distance. When she looked back at the man, he was still relatively unhurt.

Maaan, what kind of guy can you not kick in the balls? thought Kismet. The man glared at her with what looked like actual anger- the first emotion to have shown on his face the whole fight. She suspected that it was just for the intimidation factor, though. And then it hit her -metaphorically, not literally. The realization stunned her, freezing her in place for a moment.

Robots. In retrospect, it was obvious. Not just robots.

“Fucking Cherubim,” she said, unable to contain her disbelief.

How the hell did these two get into the states?

“Do you like them?” came a female voice from inside the IT department. “I like to call them my Lilim.”

Adam tensed up, the LED in his eye flashing rapidly. The Lilim had stepped back, no longer engaging the heroes.

“Lilith,” Adam hissed through clenched teeth.

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16 Responses to Lengthening Shadows 3.5

  1. I think this is some of the best combat I’ve ever written, if I do say so myself, mostly because there are much, much fewer people involved. Separating up the group was a brilliant idea on my part and I think it’s going to happen a lot more in the future. I’m thinking patrols of two or three at a time.

    • Bobby says:

      As I understand it, a trick when doing fight scenes with a lot of characters is to separate it into sub-fights and limit the interactions between. On one end of the spectrum, the complete free-for-all where everyone is fighting everyone (too chaotic to write), on the other end everyone fighting his own personal duel and ignoring the others (can work sometimes, but can also be a bit boring), and presumably the ideal fight scene somewhere in-between.

      I’ve also seen people limiting the amount of detail they give. “These two characters start exchanging blows, and you can assume there’s some generic fighting for a little bit. Meanwhile, over there, this other character is doing this noteworthy action.” This saves you from having to recount every single moment of the fight from all possible viewpoints, because at any given moment there might not be more than one or two things important enough to write about.

      Dunno if this was useful or if I was such telling platitudes, but anyway. I agree this scene was pretty good.

      • You seem to already know what I wish I knew day one (though I’ve figured it out a bit better now). Yeah, large groups pretty much have to be pared down to twos and threes, otherwise it’s nigh impossible to keep track of everything.

  2. Jedidusk says:

    Is this the crazy lady we saw in Tokyo?

  3. farmerbob1 says:

    I enjoyed the action in this scene. Good stuff.

  4. ssgamedev says:

    When he stepped in to hit her with an open palm, she sidestepped fluidly, using the left to fa to slapping his arm aside with her a *Clack!* She stepped in close and jabbed him hard in his armpit with the right tonfa. a He didn’t so much as flinch.
    (To fa), (a He)?

    Stumbled onto this story earlier this week, have just caught up. Definitely enjoyed it so far!

  5. ssgamedev says:

    Apparently WordPress ate my comment.

    When he stepped in to hit her with an open palm, she sidestepped fluidly, using the left to fa to slapping his arm aside with her a *Clack!* She stepped in close and jabbed him hard in his armpit with the right tonfa. a He didn’t so much as flinch.
    “To fa” & “a He”

    Found this a few days ago, really enjoying it so far, sad to now be up to date… Love archive binging

    • Bruce says:

      ssgamedev, not sure I’m digging your name or avatar. If it’s supposed to be a swastika(along with the S.S. Name) not cool. If it’s all a huge coincidence, well I’m not sure I buy that.

      • Bruce says:

        Then again, it did give me a little weird generic one. So I could be off base.

      • ssgamedev says:

        SSGameDev is because of my general online handle over the years, SilverSalamar, no idea what the avatar thing is because Gravatar uses random images for profiles without a picture.
        It is actually a coincidence. When I get the chance I will see about changing the image. Not my plan to cause offence to anyone and this interpretation of the SS bit had not actually occurred to me.

      • Gravatar assigns random images, not unlike the one you have, so I highly doubt it’s deliberate.

  6. Dileas Caraid says:

    Have I just missed all mention of Kismet’s tonfas previous to this? They seemed to appear out of nowhere. Other than that, your combat scene was fantastic!

    • Thanks. Yeah, the tonfas were a bit of a late addition. They’re something I realized here that she should always have had, and just kind of snuck them in. In a perfect world, I would have gone back and edited them in to the previous chapters, but that way lies madness.

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