Blood Red – Nomad

Nomad, Delta, and Skulker moved through the city, HQ keeping them informed of Freedom Fighter’s general area. He was an emotion manipulator, more specifically rage. If they went within his power’s radius and stayed within for too long, they would eventually start fighting among themselves.

That was why he wasn’t dead yet. Any team sent after him inevitably wound up fighting each other while Freedom Fighter escaped, be they soldiers or supers. Individuals would throw themselves at him in a blind rage if they managed to get close, while Freedom Fighter was still thinking clearly. The man was heavily armed and not dumb.

Nomad and his team were currently engaged in subduing a small group of protesters turned rioters in the streets. These people were already angry at the general state of affairs, so they were no doubt easy for Freedom Fighter to manipulate. They might have left the effects of Freedom Fighter’s power, but they were too angry to think rationally enough to stop what they were doing.

As they fired at Nomad, he shifted into his liquid phase and flowed towards them. The bullets entered him harmlessly. He shot a tendril of himself at each of the four firearms, latching on, seeping into every available crevice, and bending the various firing mechanisms in the guns out of shape, jamming them.

With that done, Delta moved up while Skulker teleported from somewhere to the side of his targets. Delta might be armored, but armor is not always assured to stop a bullet, and the best defense was always not getting shot in the first place. Delta lashed out with a baton in each hand. Both of the men were distracted trying to get their weapons free of Nomad, the batons made contact with them and they went down convulsing.

Skulker used the taser Delta had given him. Nomad had instructed Skulker to only kill when absolutely necessary, and so far he had complied. He complained, but he complied. The rioters stood no chance. This was Delta’s technology, and she’d made it to be able to take down Olivia. Ferals were notorious for shrugging off massive amounts of pain from any source.

She’d better have stayed at that apartment building. It’s great that she has an interest in public service but now isn’t the time. Nomad would have rather stayed to ensure that she had listened, but the authorities needed everybody to contain this situation, and there was no time to argue.

He reverted back to human form to communicate again, the fight over. He expelled all foreign objects in his body before he did so.

“Delta, you ID these guys?”

“Yep. Fight recorded. Got good pictures of each for trial later. Though they can just plead influence by super and get off.”

“Good enough. How long until contingency comes down?”

“Eight minutes.”

“Still don’t know what it is?”

“No.” Of course not. No need to tip off F.F. We’ll just be acceptable casualties if this goes belly up. Nomad had little faith where complex government plans were concerned. At this point HQ sent Nomad, and from everyone else’s body language, him alone, a message.

He listened, considered it for a moment, then relayed it to the two others. “Alright. There’s an Air Force bomber that will be here any time now. It’s loaded with knockout gas bombs they bought from Noble. We do our part to make sure Freedom Fighter doesn’t leave in this direction.”

Delta whistled, “Noble’s stuff isn’t cheap. They really want to capture F.F. don’t they?”

Freedom Fighter usually needed time to get his power to fully affect someone, though the effects were much quicker when you were in a combat situation. But if someone was knocked out, the powers effects on them were reset. The details were not well known, no one would ever advertise the specifics of their power, but that much at least was known about Freedom Fighter.

“Yeah, they’re betting a lot on this. We make sure he doesn’t leave the area around the hospital from this direction. Let’s get to the top of that building. Should have a good vantage point of where they think he is.”

With the men off the streets, they moved towards the building Nomad had pointed out. There was a fire escape above, out of reach. Skulker simply teleported up, while Delta activated…something, and leapt up an impossible distance after him.

I’ll need to ask her about her combat abilities later. Most techies didn’t go into combat, being more effective inventing the stick than swinging it. In hindsight Nomad should have asked earlier, but hadn’t expected her to need to go into combat against a feral or a mob.

Nomad shifted again. So far as the scientists of the USMHD could tell, he was composed entirely of some kind of hydrocarbon in liquid form. This meant that the electricity of Delta’s weapons was only kind of tingly to him, which was the most he’d ever felt as a liquid. He avoided open flames like the plague, being composed of fuel meant that heat was hazardous to his health. He didn’t know from experience exactly how combustible he was, but a general rule of thumb he followed was ‘fire bad’.

The amount of liquid that composed of this form was based on his original mass, rather than volume. The hydrocarbons were half as dense as his ordinary human form. Therefore, when he turned to liquid, there was twice as much as him than before. Thankfully everything on his person was included in his transformation, to a point.

He shot a thick tendril to the bottom of the fire escape, then flowed the rest of him up the tendril. He reverted back to human form once again and reached the rooftop behind the others. Skulker pulled his sniper rifle out, setting up to look down the scope at the bombed hospital that HQ was fairly certain F.F. was at. Delta was distracted by the rifle.

Where did he get that? That’s techie gear right there. Now that they could see it clearly, Skulker’s rifle was not like any Nomad had seen before. Similar to a Barrett M82, but slightly longer, and much bulkier. Delta obviously hadn’t seen it before either, and her curiosity over technology appeared to supersede her dislike of Skulker.

She asked, “Hey Skulker, what’s that rifle called?”

“Don’t know. It’s experimental. Stole it from a company that was a front for Overlord. Never caught the name before I blew the place up. I call it Señior Lopez.”

“How is it different from the standard sniper rifle? Overlord doesn’t half ass his inventions,” asked Delta, who seemed remarkably eager.

“Not entirely sure how it works, but this here turns a standard round into a shot of plasma. At least I think its plasma. Overheats the fuck out of the barrel though, so I can only use it once. Shot melts through damn near anythin’ though. Can also adjust the strength, meanin’ loudness, of the shot as well. The scope’s helpin’ me with bullet drop, wind, and whatnot, so I don’t need a spotter.”

“Speaking of which, Skulker, do you see Freedom Fighter?”

Skulker looked, and started laughing, not getting up from his position. “You’re not gonna want to hear this but oh well. I’m seein’ Olivia down there, tearin’ people apart. Literally”

God DAMN it. I thought she was better than that. “Are you sure?” In the instant the words left Nomad’s mouth he thought: Wait, I’ve made a terrible mistake. I fed the troll. Now Skulker is going to say something along the lines of “No, the other dragon feral girl”.

“No, you’re thinkin’ about the other giant half dragon chick in the city. Who the fuck do ya think I’m talkin’ about?” There, I was close.

Nomad followed Skulker’s rifle to the trail of blood and bodies, and there she was. He wasn’t kidding about the tearing people up part. People hopped up on F.F.’s power were apparently without fear, because the mob kept attacking. She was close, no more than a block away.

He watched as Olivia drove her claw through the throat of a man swinging a lead pipe at her, duck beneath a brick thrown at her head, then rake the claws of her other hand down the body of a nearby woman with her other hand. Olivia kept moving, making it harder for the crowd to overwhelm her. Four rushed her at the same time, each from a different direction. She threw one hard into a wall, and brought her foot down the shin of another. The claws on her foot made Nomad fairly confident that the man would bleed out very soon. Her tail lashed out and nearly took the head off of the person it connected with. The last had gotten close, trying to grapple with her, and Olivia opened her mouth. Oh God no.

“Holy shit, she just took a bite outta that poor bastard,” commented Skulker, now looking up from his rifle. Delta and Nomad were motionless

Several people in the mob between Olivia and Nomad’s group had found guns. They were now firing, heedless of who they hit, though it was hard to miss Olivia. Nomad thought Olivia was a goner, but she just rushed forward faster than Nomad would have thought possible. The rest of the mob was hesitating now, at least what remained of it. I’m going to hate myself for this.

“Skulker, do you think you can shoot her with your plasma round?”

“WHAT?” Even Delta looked at Nomad at that.

“Did you miss the part where she ate a guy’s neck? I’d rather take her down from here than engage in close quarters,” asked Nomad.

“You miss the part where every Dick and Jane out there is doin’ the same with what they got?”

“They’re calming down now, looks like Freedom Fighter left the area. Olivia is not. In fact she’s killing more people at this very moment, and appears to be bullet proof.” The gunmen were all dead by this point, Olivia was moving closer to the trio’s position, the mob around her starting to disperse as fear overrode anger. Olivia wasn’t acting in a way that could be construed as self-defense anymore, now actively attacking hesitating and fleeing people without hesitation.

“No. I told you and Cyrus I’d help her out, an’ tha’s what I’m gonna do. That don’t involve meltin’ her head off. Besides, we jus’ gotta keep her distracted till the bombs drop.”

Nomad considered this, then said, “You and Delta will be knocked out as well. So will I if I stay in human form.”

Delta spoke up, tapping her helmet, “I’ve got good filtration with this. I should be fine.”

“So do I,” said Skulker. Nomad doubted this, but a fight with Skulker over whether or not he was lying was not what they needed at this point. If Skulker was lying then he would be shut up for a couple hours. Acceptable.

I was wrong. We might be able to do this.  “Alright. We’ve got to keep her from killing anyone else for a couple minutes. I’ll keep her occupied. Try to see if she can be calmed down or not before you get zap happy.” With that, they moved.

Nomad leapt from the building, turning liquid and keeping himself in one piece on impact. Rather than taking the time to reform into his usual amorphous blob, he snapped back to human and ran for Olivia, currently in the middle of the street below. Delta and Skulker landed close behind him.

Olivia lifted a struggling man by the neck with one hand, ignoring the man’s kicks. She snapped his neck and tossed the body aside like a rag doll as Nomad called out her name. She looked at him with a murderous expression. She hesitated for a brief moment. Then her eyes came to rest on the rifle in Nomad’s hands and she let out an inhuman roar. With that, she charged.

For a brief moment, Nomad considered the fact that one could not truly appreciate fear until they faced down a giant angry feral with blood on its mouth and claws. Kind of puts stuff in perspective. People always are complaining about the government or their TV show or whatever. Never really appreciate the fact that things so rarely are actively trying to kill them.

With an angry feral barreling towards him faster than he could hope to run, Nomad shifted to his liquid form and shot two columns of himself at each of her hands, hoping to entangle them and let Delta and Skulker get closer. She thrashed in a partially successful attempt to dislodge him, freeing one hand. Whoa, she shouldn’t be able to do that. He shot another tendril towards the freed hand and two larger ones towards her legs, flowing through all four to encircle and immobilize her.

Nomad could see and hear in his liquid form (he and every scientist had no idea how) and now he heard Olivia growling as she swung wildly, trying to be rid of Nomad. He could exert far more force in liquid form than the average person, but Olivia was doing a good job of overpowering his grip, slashing at him at every opportunity, nearly severing parts from himself. This just got far more dangerous. I need all that mass. For his part Nomad constantly shifted, using as many tendrils as possible to keep her entangled and off balance. It wasn’t working nearly as well as it should.

He needed a way to stop her somehow. I’m sorry about this. He moved the majority of himself to the front of Olivia and drove a column into her solar plexus with as much force as he could muster. She stumbled a bit, grabbing at the offending column of liquid. Oh, come on, that’s not something you can just ignore like that. He moved to strike her kidney (if her kidney was where it was for everyone else, feral organs could wind up in strange places) in the same way when Skulker suddenly appeared a few feet to the right of Olivia.

“Hey you two, havin’ fun-WHOA!” Skulker barely dodged under the clawed hand Olivia swung at him that Nomad was unable to disrupt in time. “Now that wasn’t nice,” righting himself and wagging a finger at Olivia. At this she hesitated again, glaring and letting out a low rumbling sound.

Skulker laughed and took advantage of her indecision. “Nomad, back off a bit.” Delta chose that time to cautiously approach Olivia’s other flank, baton in one hand, taser pistol in the other. The instant she took a step too close Olivia snapped her attention towards her. Olivia let out a threatening hiss, the kind of predatory sound that says ‘your death will be swift and painful’. It appeared Olivia’s warnings only lasted for half a second, because she made for Delta before anyone had any time to react.

Nomad attempted to anchor himself and Olivia to the ground, but Olivia simply pushed through and charged at Delta, both hands raised and ready to attack Delta. Delta shot Olivia in the chest with the taser. This, combined with the fact that Nomad had managed to hold on and continued attempting to disrupt Olivia’s movements, meant that Olivia was momentarily distracted enough that Delta was able to dive to the side of Olivia’s path without harm.

Olivia immediately came to a stop. Skulker took the opportunity to teleport behind her and drove his taser into her neck. She let out another roar, a combination of pain and anger this time, and her tail sent Skulker flying back a couple feet. Delta had gotten up with her baton, having lost hold the pistol. As Olivia came up to her, she swung the baton, which Olivia caught in one hand. Olivia hissed in pain, but held on. She lunged forward and grabbed Delta’s shoulder with her free hand, the other breaking the baton with a shower of sparks.

With the same hand Olivia brought it up to bring down on Delta, but again she hesitated and cocked her head to the side, considering Delta as if she had never seen her before. Nomad had been about to drown Olivia, and remained poised to do so. Skulker got up behind them with much cursing, but stopped when he saw the scene playing out. After a moment’s consideration, Olivia lowered her hand and almost casually tossed Delta aside, fortunately not hard enough to break anything.

At this point there was a series of booms above them, and the air turned hazy as a cloud of thin white gas descended upon them. Nomad flowed off of Olivia, placing himself between her and the fallen Delta in case this didn’t pan out the way they hoped for any reason. Olivia was looking around, hissing at the surrounding gas, but gradually her movements became slower. She fell to her knees, then slipped into unconsciousness and toppled forward. Sweet Jesus, thank you.

Nomad formed a hand and waved Skulker over to check on Delta, then moved over to where Olivia lay. I’m going to want answers when you wake up. What were you thinking? Delta got up stiffly, and her and Skulker joined Nomad to either side of him.

“Let’s never do that again,” said Delta.

“Come on, it was kinda fun,” replied Skulker.

“That’s because you weren’t about to get eviscerated by a pissed off feral. Speaking of which, how you doing Nomad?”

The gas hadn’t quite cleared yet, so Nomad remained in liquid form. Noble made gas bombs that wouldn’t kill, but would knock people out for at least an hour. As well, the gas would dissipate rather quickly and become harmless. It had taken Olivia much longer to succumb than an average person would have, either because of her biology or her size or combination thereof, and Nomad didn’t know what state she would wake up in. Without taking his sight off her, he formed a thumbs up for the others to see.

“Tha’s freaky. So now what?” asked Skulker.

They considered for a moment. Then Delta said, “People will have seen her. A lot of people are going to want to have her put down after this now, Freedom Fighter or no.”

“Yeah, she racked up quite the body count back there. ‘Bout fifty people, so far as I can tell,” said Skulker.

“You know if she gets up and just starts attacking again we’ll have to kill her.”

“Fuck. Yeah, you’re right. Fuck.” Skulker pulled out his rifle.

Nomad saw Olivia twitch. That was fast. She moved again and Nomad formed an X to get Skulker’s and Delta’s attentions. Skulker understood and deactivated the safety, then hit a small switch on the side of the rifle. An orange light came on, followed by a green one after a few seconds, and Skulker readied himself.

Then he suddenly lowered the rifle. He shoved it in Delta’s surprised hands. “You know how to shoot right?” he asked as he reached down and picked up a long lead pipe. Where are all these lead pipes coming from? Without bothering waiting for a response he said, “Good. I just had a bad idea.”

With that, he walked around Nomad, hefted the pipe, and squatted within the pipe’s reach from Olivia. Then he poked her in the face with it.

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6 thoughts on “Blood Red – Nomad

  1. “This meant that the electricity of Delta’s weapons were only kind of tingly to him”
    ‘was’ instead of ‘were’


    “Nomad shifted to his liquid form and shot two columns of himself at each of her hands, hoping to entangle them and let Delta and Nomad get closer. ”
    Should this be “let Delta and Skulker get closer”?

  2. The comment thread turned into a bit of a shitshow, but I have to agree with the basic criticism from last chapter – Olivia is easily the weakest part of this story so far. What are her motivations? Her opinions? What prompts particular displays of emotions in certain scenarios? I know it’s because you’re having to balance characterizing an amnesiac with worldbuilding, but she still suffers from Main Character Syndrome, not being allowed to be much of anything.

    The worldbuilding is coming along nicely, I don’t have much to say about that. The dialogue not only reads smoother up to this point, it sounds more realistic, rather than a sitcom snark fest. Even without backstories, I get everyone’s character, except maybe Delta. She doesn’t have much going for her yet except blandly competent. Ben got a little over the top for a while but he’s returned his blase comedic sociopath self. Nomad’s a solid addition, but I definitely want to see more from him, he could very well play a good only sane man.

    The delivery of the story would be much more effective if the pace was slower. Honestly, I don’t know if this story wouldn’t be better served being opened up by Nomad or Delta or another such character. The concept you’ve got is an interesting urban fantasy take on the superhero genre and I hope you flesh it out more over the coming chapters.

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