45,258 / 50,000
Yeah, I wrote lots again. Finished the chapter.
The Stormtroopers resumed their march, moving into double time and kept their weapons at the ready. The lead that I had spoken with, at least I think it was him, stopped at the same entryway Chris and I had passed through moments before. He made several motions with his hands, and pointed at sections of his regiment, and they all moved into the sectioned off area like the trained professionals they had become that afternoon.
Once they were all filed through the small gap in the barrier sectioning off the seating area from the rest of the lobby, the leader moved in himself. I was still amazed at how complete some of these transformations had become, as if the people they had been had never existed, and this was the only life they had ever known.
Not long after everyone had filed into the walled off section of the lobby, the first shot rang out, or to be more accurate, a zap went out, and a red streak lit up the area it passed through, when one of the Stormtroopers shot at someone, I assume one of the COBRA soldiers.
I stood up on my toes to get a better view and saw the blast hit the top of a far wall, blasting off a chunk of it into the area opposite from where we were, near where the Joker was still, I hoped, chained up to the wall.
With that first shot out, the soldiers with the more primitive weapons returned fire, and things dominoed from there. The laser blast led to traditional gunshots, which led to more laser blasts, and on and on.
I moved closer, and craned my neck even further, making the tendons in my shoulders become taut, and I could feel my muscles straining.
My cowled companion did the same, and her heels gave her an added advantage, plus I think she was still a little taller than me without them, despite the transformation Chris had undergone.
"Um," she said, as she watched the firefight, and a quizzical look flashed over her eyes. "They're not hitting anything."
I continued to try and see as I moved closer, until I reached the break in the wall, and just poked my head in.
She was correct. Not a single shot was hitting something anyone would aim for. They were hitting plenty of walls, tables, chairs, even the floor, but not a single body had been hit with nary a ray of light nor bullet.
"Could they just be, you know, play guns? The people they used to be weren't carrying real guns, I know."
"No, they brought fake guns, but every other weapon I've seen today was very much real, and I think those are just as real."
"All the bullet holes, duh."
Looks like Chris didn't quite have access to all of Miss Gordon's detective skills, although Batman was always the better of them. "Right. The guns are real. These are just, well, Stormtroopers. They couldn't hit the broadside of a barn if their gun was right up against it. And the COBRA forces were just about as bad."
I stood there and watched the astounding and improbable display of so many shots being let loose and not a one hitting any target worth mentioning.
Chris came up beside me, and put a hand on my shoulder after a few seconds, shaking me out of my fascination. "Martin, shouldn't we get going? This diversion can't last forever. You're getting good at convincing armies to do your bidding, but they'll at least run out of bullets."
I held up my hand, motioning to give me some more time. "Wait, this is just fascinating. Two equally matched forces that suck, trying to hit each other. I wish I had some popcorn."
She gripped my shoulder with a tighter squeeze, and pulled me away from my entertainment, causing me to stagger backwards from the sudden move.
"Ok, ok, we'll get moving. But you gotta admit, that's really cool."
Looking back to the light show caused by the laser blasts behind the wall, she gave a nod, and a smile.
Before we moved on, I grabbed my camera, and took several pictures, because that was very noteworthy from my little vacation. I snapped a few through the entryway, and also set the camera up atop the dividing wall, and snapped a few from there as well, moving the camera from side to side, while trying to time my shots to catch some of the laser blasts themselves.
Looking through the photos before moving on at long last, I could see the smoke from the weapons discharge was beginning to obscure the photos to the point where it was growing pointless to bother trying for more, although they still had an interesting look of a smoky room with lights flashing inside. However, without seeing anything beyond the growing smoke, they became less interesting.
"Are you quite done," the new Batgirl asked, watching me with her hands on her hips, not quite glaring, but bordering on becoming impatient.
"All done!" I turned my back on the display of poor marksmanship, and clicked the lenscap back on my camera. Together, we headed back towards the elevators, and managed to get all the way there without any further incident.
I jabbed the button for an up elevator, and prayed they still worked, or something hadn't chewed on the cables, or anything else to have gone wrong.
The button lit up, and everything seemed to be good. I hoped the wait wouldn't be long, and checked my watch. If it took too long, I didn't want to stand around here waiting for the next big thing to get us. I'd rather run into it myself.
With time to kill, I lean against the wall of the central column. I looked over at Chris, with her arms crossed and standing more towards the centre, watching the far side from where we stood, keeping guard.
"So," I said, breaking the quiet between us, and speaking over the din of the firefight still going on. "Your brilliant costume idea was to dress as Batgirl?"
"No, I want to hear this story."
"Now is not the time!"
"We've got nothing better to do! Although I will say, I am quite impressed. You really do fill out the costume quite nicely."
I could see her turning red underneath her mask, and she turned to get a better look down past the other elevators on the side.
"Nuh uh. And it even makes sense, you were already pretty much a red head, just let it grow a little..."
"It was a wig!"
"It must've been a pain to lose all that weight to squeeze into that...or is it a corset? And you simply have to explain how you got shorter!"
"You know what happened! I swear, if you don't stop teasing..."
The threat was left unfinished as an elevator arrived with a familiar dinging sound, and a lit up arrow.
I headed straight for the empty chamber, and Chris followed, "Wait, that's a down elevator, shouldn't we wait for one going up?"
Pausing in the doorway, I placed a hand against the sides, to hold it open, and turned back to the young woman. "I really don't think my established rules of elevator etiquette really need to be followed at this point. It's not like people are flooding the cars. Everyone's too busy dealing with their own problems to go stop by their rooms."
"Fair enough," she said, and followed me into the car.
The door closed behind us and the elevator headed downwards. It moved past the lower main lobby, and down to the floor below. When it stopped and the doors opened, I didn't even look out the door, only paying attention to the buttons and pushing for our floor. I figured the area around the elevators would be mostly empty, like they were above. Most folks, changed and unchanged, seemed to be moving out or through the hotels, or trying to escape, for their own varying reasons.
As the doors slid shut and closed with a thud, I looked up and saw a shocked look on Chris' face.
"What? What was it?" I looked at the door, as if it would suddenly turn invisible from the power of my stare.
"I think we found the anime characters." I gave a little shudder at the mention of it. "I saw some bulky blonde guy dressed up in orange robes or something, and he was fighting some weird kid with a giant head wearing a red cape or something wrapped around his neck, I think that guy from Akira."
I nodded. "Sounds like Tetsuo all right, and one of the guys from Dragon Ball."
"Have I ever mentioned how it scares me that you know this stuff, and yet can't stand anime?"
Giving a shrug, I looked out the glass wall of the elevator car. "Just making sure I know all I can. But you said they were fighting? Right outside? I didn't hear anything."
Chris rubbed the back of her head, looking unsure. "Well, I think it was fighting. The Dragon Ball guy was just standing there, grunting and making a face like he had to go really bad."
"Yeah, that sounds like most fights in the show. We don't want to be down there when the fight really clicks into high gear. The building will almost definitely be destroyed."
"Shouldn't we go stop it," she asked, looking afraid of the possibility the building we were almost to the 30th floor of could come crumbling down around her bat-ears.
I shrugged again, unconcerned. "If he's just grunting, we've probably got a good three hours before anything serious happens in that fight."
Chris let out a very girlish giggle at that, and covered her mouth when she did, then blushed some more, before turning away, luckily just as the door dinged open onto our floor.
From this far away, the chaos seemed almost forgotten. The distant sounds of screaming still reached us, but they were muted by the height of the building, and even the sounds of the Stormtroopers and soldiers were almost entirely forgotten far below us. There appeared to be no one on these floors that had been affected, at least none that had remained here. Most people in costumes would have been far below, in the heart of the convention.
Coming out onto the causeway between the elevators and the outer ring, I was met with a troubling sight. Several doors appeared to be blasted inwards. Dark scoring marked the walls and floor around each one that had been blown back into the room. More singe marks marred the walls, looking like a firefight had occurred up here as well. I couldn't even begin to guess just what had happened, though.
Seeing the damage, I picked up my pace and ran the entire way around and back again to our room, and saw that our door had been one of the few that had been hit. It had come off its hinges entirely, and I found it towards the back of the room, laying atop the desk and chair where my computer was.
Batgirl wasn't far behind me, and I barely registered her gasp behind me, as I grabbed the door and almost flung it across the room, and looked at my damaged computer. I grabbed it and pulled it away from the wall, yanking the few cords that had been hooked up to it, and I was ready to smash it on the ground.
My arm was grabbed, however, and I turned, and saw Chris' blue eyes looking at me. "Wait. It might not be broken, completely. I might be able to fix it."
Standing there, with the computer held high above my head, mouse cord dangling against my arm, I blinked at her a few times. "But you're not great with computers. Even I can't fix this. Not here."
"I don't know about fixing that one, but I've got an idea. Put the computer down, and I'll see what I can do. I'm Barbara Gordon now, too, remember?" She pulled on my arm, and I lowered the computer, holding it parallel to the floor, in front of me, before tossing it onto the bed, rougher than I ever would have when it was functioning properly.
I knew it wasn't as bad as it could be, but as the laptop was now, it was unusable. Chrissat down on his bed and tucked one leg underneath her, sitting the laptop exactly where such a named device should be placed. She pulled off her gloves, and was taken aback for a small moment by the longer than she was used to nails underneath, painted a shade of red. She shook it off, and pulled back her cowl, then pulled her hair out from underneath it, giving her head a good shake, so the flat mass of crimson hair came more to life.
It was my turn to be surprised, as the girl sitting in front of me looked nothing like Chris, or how I would have expected him to look if his chromosomes had been a letter different. She wasn't drop dead gorgeous, but was very much a door next girl type, and from the way she squinted at the computer as it tried to boot up, I could tell she needed glasses now.
I sat on my bed, causing the door that had landed against it to slide down almost to the point of falling to the floor. While Chris worked on the machine, I picked up the phone, and was surprised to get a dial tone.
Punching out Cami's number on the base, I waited for it to ring, and Chris set the computer aside, and headed out the now very open doorway. I shifted to try and look and see where she went, but she was gone off to one side or the other before I could see where she'd gone.
Cami picked up after a few rings, "Hi, boss! Boy, have I got a story for you!"
I recounted the day's events to her, while waiting for Chris to return. The outside world had heard of some catastrophe in Boston, but details were sketchy, with unreliable reports. I told Cami when and if I got my laptop up and running, I'd send along a few photos, but was in a bit of a hurry so the rest would have to come later. She told me she understood, and I passed on that when I found out what was going on, she'd have a hell of a first page story to tell.
While we were talking, Chris finally returned, triumphantly holding another laptop over her head. I raised an eyebrow, wanting to know where she'd gotten it from and she put a finger to her lips.
"Ok, Cami, I'm going to have to let you go, it looks like my computer might get up and running some time this decade. I'll keep in touch."
By the time I hung up, Chris had already dug out some small screwdrivers from her utility belt, and was taking apart the drive trays for both machines, and swapped the hard drive from my broken machine, and into the other.
"Yeah, that's what I was going to do if I got out of this, but it never really occurred to go steal someone's laptop in the meantime."
"Fine, borrowed. Are you sure you know what you're doing?"
"No, but I do."
Her finger hovered for a moment over the power button, hesitating nervously before stabbing it and the computer powered up. "As long as the drive didn't get damaged, we should be good."
After a few heart stopping moments, Chris finally clapped and turned the computer around, revealing the Windows loading screen, and handed the cobbled together Frankenstein laptop to me.
"It's something you could have done on your own, but I hope I helped."
I set the computer on the bed next to me and let it finish booting up, while I dug out the cable to connect it to the camera. With those plugged in, I kneeled on the floor between the beds, and waited for the new photos to be pulled off the camera.
Chris leaned over me, placing a hand on my shoulder as I flipped through all the photos once they were transfered.
I looked through them one after another, digging through as fast as I could, trying to find the photos I got of the strange glow, praying there would be clues I could use.
Finally, I could see a tiny ball of light that would be mistaken by a flash if not for the next photo where it got bigger, and the next, and the next.
I looked through each, then backed up to the picture just before the light began. The images were being sized to show the entire picture fit to the screen, so it was shrunk down from full size. I tweaked my settings, and changed things to show everything at its full resolution.
Bouncing between the picture with the first shot of the light, and the one just before it, I found the epicenter of the event before it happened, and standing there in the middle of it all was a familiar redhead, dressed in black and yellow, although the costume looked less real, and the hair was a wig.
Turning and looking at the girl behind me, I could see in her eyes that she knew it was no use trying to deny it, and say it was someone else.
"So, Chris, care to explain what happened today?"