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[Time Warp] Ironclad's Vignette

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The Promenade was a bright spot of color amidst the high rises and R&D plants of Hanover. Jessica Parker strolled slowly along a gravel path that paralleled the Wading River. A water bottle swung from one hand and a double cheeseburger was a comfortable weight in her stomach. By a fortuitous coincidence of timing (she kept insisting to anyone who asked) the teen's class schedule had a ninety minute gap right around dinnertime. This was the first really nice day the city had had all year, and she meant to enjoy it. Of course, finals were barreling towards her; by all rights she should've been frantically working on her senior project. Fortunately, HIT's network extended a good half-mile past the campus ground. Jessica had left herself logged in on a workstation, and the bulk of her attention was focused there. She left just enough of herself free to enjoy being able to do so.


There was a sudden flickering of motion in the corner of her eye. Before she could turn to look at it more fully, it rushed at her. She opened her mouth--


the shock of disconnection was like a bucket of cold water to the face. It took her a moment to realize that she wasn’t in Freedom City anymore. She was in some place hot and humid, moisture dripping off something nearby. She couldn’t tell exactly what since the area was entirely pitch-black. The young inventor had a quick solution to that problem, though. She touched the slim bracelet she wore and her armor unfolded from extradimensional space, then folded around her. The suit’s enhanced senses easily cut through the darkness, revealing thick jungle undergrowth all around. She couldn’t pinpoint her position because her GPS refused to link up, but at least she knew she was somewhere equatorial.


There was a ground-shaking thud somewhere off to her right. Ironclad rose into the air, above the treetops. There was an air field in that direction, and she could zoom in and see men in uniforms toting Kalashnikov rifles – a military airbase, then. There was a single huge figure on one of the runways, shooting flames from one arm. Ironclad’s immediate reaction was to swoop in and save everyone, but she checked that impulse – she didn’t know the situation, didn’t know who was who.


Then the huge figure raised its other arm and belched out a ribbon of cannon fire that cut three men in half. No matter what, a hero had to stop stuff like that. Ironclad charged in and collided with the big figure with a metallic clang. It’s a suit, she realized, another suit.


They wrestled for a several minutes, neither able to gain the upper hand. Finally the larger suit threw Ironclad into the treeline. As she was picking herself up she heard it make a radio transmission. It was encrypted, but the code was so out-of-date that the heroine broke it nearly in realtime. “Ironclad reporting in,†it transmitted. “Target responding with unusual force. Retreating to base.†Rockets fired from its feet and back and the colossus rose into the air, slowly at first but it accelerated quickly. Not so fast that the heroine couldn’t have caught up, but the intercepted message had floored her. The only other person to ever use the code-name Ironclad was her grandfather, back when he worked for the government. If she had been moved back in time that would explain why the encryption was out of date (and why she couldn’t link up to the GPS satellites) but her grandfather had been a hero. So why was he killing those soldiers?


Said soldiers were jogging across the tarmac towards her, rifles raised at their shoulders. Before Ironclad could respond, she picked up a blue hole in the air opening up behind her. It rushed forward and


the jungle popped liked a soap bubble, leaving the heroine back in the park. She remotely checked several different clocks, comparing them to her suit’s. Her little jaunt had, as far as she could tell, taken no time at all. She could’ve gone straight back to working on her poject, but the young woman had a sudden urge to look into her grandfather’s service record.

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