Strobe and Vic Valor: Calm Before the Storm
- Solvent was constantly listening to status reports, and she briefed the group as they hurried to the Command Center.
"Thrann has depended almost exclusively on broadcast power for the past 200 years. Almost everything that uses electric power, from a watch to an ocean liner, is equipped with broadcast power receptors. Some places, like the Citadel of Freedom, even have armored power conduits direct from the broadcast stations. To protect against broadcast failure, we have thousands of broadcast stations, and important devices all have multiple receptors. It shouldn't matter if 1 power station or even 10 fail simultaneously, there would still be more than sufficient power in the air for any active devices, and it is extremely unlikely that several receptors in a single device would fail at once. Every place that's important is well protected against power failure."
"Until today," Juna responded dryly. "So, did all the broadcast stations go off line at the same time, or did all the redundant receptors fail?"
"Nothing has actually failed, believe it or not," Solvent replied. "All broadcast stations normally transmit on a specific frequency the standard civilian frequency but in emergencies they can be switched to a different frequency which only government receptors are designed to receive. DarkFactor figured out a way to switch all broadcast stations to a third frequency, which neither civilian or government receptors can utilize. Almost the only things that are still working right now are those that actually have backup batteries installed. Mostly government facilities, and equipment that is designed to work on other planets, like military weapons and spaceships."
"What an devilish way to control the civilian population," Jim barked in disgust. "Threaten to take away their power, turn off their lights, communications, appliances, disable all means of transportation, at the flick of a switch, unless they behave. Not a place where I'd like to live."
"We didn't ask you to come here," Tree snarled. "The Protectorate's worked for us for 500 years. We don't need no stinkin' aliens tellin' us how to run our planet." He didn't seem to see the irony of an alien plant creature from a planet outside the Protectorate calling the Avengers' crew 'alien'.
"What will Othar do when you ask him to release us to your command for the duration of the emergency?" Valor hastily changed the subject, "Surely he'll order you to capture or kill us."
"I'm not planning to ASK him anything," she replied with a smile. "We'll present him with a done deal he'll have to accept, based on a precedent he established himself!" She paused, frowned. "What I'm worried about is what He'll do after we take down DarkFactor and the emergency is over." She smiled again. "We'll worry about that when we get there. Who knows, DarkFactor might kill us all."
"Glad to see you still always see the bright side of things, boss," Angstrom said sarcastically. "Always keeping up morale!"
"Shut up, Angstrom!" Solvent barked, but there was no heat in her command. She continued with the situation briefing. "So all civilian and military devices that require broadcast power are useless. And it gets worse. Somehow, every general purpose robot built in the last 5 years has been reprogrammed to not only draw power on the new frequency, but to attack all overcits, government facilities, and all military and police personnel, whether they are overcits or undercits." She stopped to listen, and her face turned white. "Your 'idealistic reformer' has gained control of the planetary defense lasers, and he's routing most of the power to them. 3 of the global forts have already been destroyed," she pausued for a second "make that four. None of the forts has strong enough shields to withstand half a world's power. They're evacuating the others as fast as they can. It won't be fast enough." She snarled, "The results of your meddling. Nothing the Protectorate government has done compares to this!"
The Avenger's crew didn't respond right away; what could they say? Finally, Jess spoke up. "We'll stop DarkFactor from taking over," she promised, softly but grimly determined. "But that doesn't mean we approve of your current government."
"I think we're starting to agree with you," Solvent spoke what the rest of her team dared not. "But when the current emergency is over, that's our problem to deal with, not yours!"
Solvent marched briskly into the Command Center and snapped off a precise, by-the-book salute. Before Othar could respond, she spoke in a brisk, clear voice, easily audible to everyone in the room, as well as the security forces she knew were recording everything through their hidden monitoring devices. She was more than a little nervous - if she screwed this up, she and her team would die slow painful deaths when this crisis was over.
"Minister Othar, General Regulation 9,352, authored by you when you created the Justice Mandate during the Gustovich Invasion twenty years ago, gives the Commanding Office of the Justice Mandate, currently me, extremely broad powers during a planetary emergency. When you declared the current situation to be a planetary emergency several minutes ago, I realized that extraordinary measures will be required to defeat DarkFactor. Accordingly, under GenReg 9,352, Section 4, Paragraph 2.3.1, I enlisted our former alien prisoners into the Justice Mandate, under my command, to help us defeat DarkFactor."
She turned to Othar's guards, who were fingering their weapons. "I don't need to remind you soldiers that GenReg 9,352, Section 3, Paragraph 1.1.1 makes it a treasonable offense to attack an authorized member of the Justice Mandate, so get your fingers off the triggers!" She turned back to Othar. "I commend you on your foresight, Minister. GenReg 9,352 is exceptionally well-written and thoroughly comprehensive, and will help ensure that the Protectorate survives the current planetary emergency."
Othar was livid, but he realized that it was too late to stop Solvent, especially as she was quoting a regulation that he had originally created. As soon as this emergency was over, he would have GenReg 9,352 stricken from the books, and then destroy Solvent and the rest of the Justice Mandate. With a tremendous effort, he managed to conceal his furor and speak calmly.
"Excellent, Commander," he forced an approving nod. "You have the coordinates for DarkFactor's fortress. Government forces under my command will deal with DarkFactor's robot army, and restore the broadcast stations to the proper frequency, while your assault team deals with DarkFactor. I expect prompt resolution of the situation!"
Solvent snapped another sharp salute. "We're on our way, Minister!" She led her team through the Command Center into the Weapons Lab where Othar had been experimenting with her new recruits' gear. Jim donned his Glove, which was by now almost totally discharged, and Juna put on her force field belt. At Solvent's command, Mighty Man picked up Jessiat's armor. "Angstrom will repair it once we get in the air," she told Jess. "We don't have time to waste here." She wanted to get moving before Othar could search through the over 20,000 valid General Regs and find one which would allow him to countermand GenReg 9,352.
Within minutes, the 10 heroes were blasting through the sky in an armed, armored ground-to-orbit troop lander. The lander had a two-person weapon-control team; Tree tossed them out of the cockpit. Not only would his extra limbs enable him to handle the weapons more efficiently, he could also keep an eye on the pilots. In the troop compartment, the rest of the new team made their preparations.
"Lucky General Regulation 9,352 is still in force," Jessiat commented to Solvent. She was a little disturbed at the idea of a subordinate summarily defying her commanding officer - what would she do, when she was in command of her planet's first star ship, if someone were to try something like that with her?
Solvent held up her hand as a signal for Jessiat to stop talking. She waited a second, and Mirage emerged from the hull of the transport. He gave her the Thrannian equivalent of a 'thumbs'up'. "OK, Lompo has disabled all the monitoring devices, so we can talk freely. It wouldn't really matter if 9,352 even existed," she chuckled. "With over 20,000 General Regulations and more being written all the time, I'm sure I could have found another that would give me the authority I need. And given a few minutes to do research, Othar would be able to find one to overrule me this time. So we didn't give him the chance," She chuckled again. "It just adds to the irony that Othar wrote this one himself. Beamed by his own blaster!"
Though Strobe's Glove was almost totally discharged by now, the ancient Galactic Patrol had made arrangements for just this type of situation. An emergency reserve provided just enough power to materialize the Globe from a small pocket of self-maintaining stressed space which was attached tot he Glove and normally undetectable, and he quietly recharged. 'I ought to have some kind of an oath, like Green Lantern,' he thought to himself, not for the first time. He'd watched GL recharge his power ring and had been very impressed by the solemnity and power of that short pledge. But he wasn't sure he'd earned the right to such an oath yet.
Angstrom reversed the atomic changes he'd made previously to the power supply circuits in Jessiat's armor. She donned her combat suit and ran it through various self-test sequences - it appeared to be as good as new. Juna and Stormgirl talked quietly, taking this chance to learn more about the other's powers. Mighty Man stayed as far away from Juna as possible. Solvent, Mirage, and Valor discussed battle plans and contingencies. And then they were close to DarkFactor's fortress, and it was time to go to work.
- Nice wrap up. . . for this part. The Avenger crew still need to get that White K to Juno and eventually break the curse and defeat Wotan. I hate unresolved missions.