Tag Archives: rocket pack

Episode 163: The Rocketpark Screwjob

Captain Ortega fired the blaster again, but Harold Zamona, moving faster than anything his size should be able to move, jumped behind one of the arena’s ramps. Ortega used his rocket to move into the air, wary of a sudden approach by the former wrestler and worryingly aware by now that his blaster, even on deadly settings, was mostly ineffective. At the strongest settings, his blaster could take out steel walls in seconds, but he wasn’t detecting more than a light singe whenever he successfully fired on Zamona, and the neurological properties of the blaster on the lower settings never did more than daze. He’d encountered other creatures that were effectively immune to his weaponry before, of course… ethereal beings of energy, ancient beasts with thick skin designed for volcanic worlds, and military-grade robots had all shrugged of his blaster… but none seemed so close to a baseline human as Zamona. His primary weapon was simply not effective.

The wrestler appeared overhead, somehow at the top of a ramp that arced higher than Ortega had flown. The captain killed his rocketpack’s engine just enough to start dropping like a stone, reactivated it when he’d fallen far enough to miss Zamona’s initial downward punch, and propelled forward in a graceful arc that took him toward the massive, transparent window that composed most of the wall of the park-like chamber. Ortega activated his reversal thrusters to keep himself from colliding with the transparent wall, and was treated to a spectacular view of Veskid amid the stars just as he heard the sound of Zamona hitting the ground behind him. He looked back and saw the titanic figure standing up from a crouch, and tensed while Zamona took calm, easygoing steps toward him.

“You’re pretty nimble for someone in a beat-up space suit. I can keep this up all day, though. The Dyson Empire’s not eager t’see someone so capable foolishly throwin’ their life away. What say you throw in the towel and tell the folks at home that you’re surrenderin’, and that they should too.”

“Seriously?” said Ortega, smiling. “I’ve got you on the ropes.”

“Funny. I don’t think you’re gonna like how this ends, though. Parents, you might wanna send your kids out of the room if they’re watchin’ this.”

Zamona jumped forward and Ortega rocketed upward. Zamona’s fist connected with the window and a horrible crunching sound cascaded through the room. Ortega held his breath as warning alarms started chiming, but he relaxed when he saw the herald’s fist retract to reveal that the window had crumpled instead of shattered.

“Transparent metal instead of shielded glass!” Ortega shouted.

“Couldn’t tell you.”

“Makes sense for a window that size, it holds up better against air pressure,” Ortega said, touching down on the ground. Zamona raised a confused eyebrow.

“Not flying away? Rethought surrender?”

“Nah,” said Ortega, unlatching the rocket pack from his back. “Just switching weapons. Computer, go to full burn, head for the big guy.”

Ortega swung the pack forward just as the engines turned from red to orange, yellow, blue, and white. The pack rocketed toward a surprised Zamona, slammed into him, and pushed him into the window. The Herald struggled for a second, further increasing the structural damage on the wall behind him, as he reached forward and tried to manipulate the pack.

“Nice try,” he said. “I’ve still got just enough control to not let this thing push me out, though. And it’s just not gonna hit hard enough to hurt me.”

“Don’t need to hurt you,” said Ortega. He pulled the trigger on his blaster and fired, striking the window just over Zamona’s shoulder. Too late, Harold reflexively lifted a massive hand to ward off the blast, not realizing that he wasn’t the target. An orange glow accompanied the increased heat as the transparent wall distorted. Harold looked back.

“Wait-”

The combined force of the rocket pack and the herald’s shoulders took their toll. The diminishing cohesion of the window failed, and the wall ruptured. An intense rush of air defenestrated the former wrestler, and the rocket made sure that he vanished into the void before he could react to what was happening.

Captain Ortega felt the rush of air and reflexively activated the magnetic boots on his spacesuit, a futile action while standing on the grass and soil of the rocket park arena. In a moment he’d lost his footing and been pulled into the emptiness just outside of the ship’s hull.

Episode 70: Diplomatic Response

Captain Ortega’s eyes shot from Doctor Rogers to Captain Calen, knowing what would happen but not wanting to see it. Historically, the best tactic against Rogers’ ultimatums was to temporarily meet them, giving him time to talk until another opening presented itself. Instead, Calen narrowed her eyes at the request for unconditional surrender and launched herself across the room.

Rogers’ robotic body was faster than it looked, though, and stronger than most humans by far. Getting within arm’s length of it, even when catching Rogers by surprise, was usually the fastest way to lose a situation. Sure enough, as soon as Calen neared, his upper torso spun, and one of his arms slammed into Calen.

Rather than being knocked to the side, Calen latched onto Rogers’ arm and used the impact of the blow to spin around his metallic hull.

“What?!” shouted Rogers.

Calen didn’t respond. Instead, she made a fist and slammed it into the back of Rogers’ crystalline helmet. A crack formed in the metallic dome that sat where his head should have been.

“No,” he said. “Do you really think a single blow would-”

Calen punched the dome again, striking with enough force to make the robotic body stumble forward just to keep its balance. The crack was larger, spreading like a spiderweb. Tiny droplets of water began pushing their way through the transparent crystal.

“Fine,” he said. Electricity arced across his body. Calen screamed in anger, spasmed, and nearly fell off of Rogers, but managed to hold on. Some combination of willpower, experience, training and rage allowed her to push through. She threw her arm forward once more and shattered the crystal. Broken shards of the reinforced dome cascaded from the top of his red armor, carried by the falling water. Ortega was worried that the water would make the electricity more dangerous, but Rogers’ body stopped generating it the moment that his “head” was gone.

The red suit of armor that had contained Rogers crashed forward, falling onto the ground. Calen fell with it, splashing forward onto the floor of the neon chamber, but quickly pushing herself up.

“You and your enemy share one trait, Ortega,” she said.

“We don’t really have time t-”

“You both talk too much,” said Calen. “If he’d activated that electric surge before speaking, it might’ve ended me. Is your suit broken, or just repairing?”

“Repairing,” said Ortega. “But I’ve still got two minutes to-”

“Trell,” she said. “See if you can speed him along.”

“Calen, you need to return to your scuttler,” said Ortega. “Don’t worry about me, get to your ship before Tan takes off and strands us here!”

“Your noble act of self sacrifice isn’t reasonable,” said Calen. Trell ignored the two and ran to the plinth that Ortega had been placed upon when Rogers interrupted the armor. Trell began working on a panel by his arm. Ortega couldn’t see what was happening, but the repair meter on his display fizzled out, worrying him.

“It’s not self sacrifice,” said Ortega. “We need someone to get there quickly, so that all of us can leave!”

“Trell and I can’t make it back quickly enough,” said Calen. “Assuming that Tan has the ability to launch without my say so… something I doubt, but wouldn’t care to assume with any certainty… he’ll be long gone before any of us could run there. You’ve got a rocket pack built into your armor, though.”

“If we’re too far to catch up after running, I don’t think the extra speed of a rocket will help us to get there in time,” said Ortega.

“No, but you might be able to catch up to it after it’s left. With any luck at all, you’ll be able to catch that ship before we’re doomed to eternal seclusion in this haze.”

The display fizzled back into place, and Ortega was pleasantly surprised to see the status display readout indicating that all systems were normal. With a quick spinning of servos, he felt the joints loosen as mobility returned to his suit. He sat up on the plinth.

“His suit should be fully functional, Captain,” said Trell.

“Amazing,” said Ortega, stretching his arm and looking at it. “Thanks, Trell. Good work on-”

“We gained only seconds,” said Calen. “Don’t use them up speaking to us. Leave!”