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Chapter 2:
                                                    First Mysteries


October 17 (Monday)
1121HRS
Home

I have taken the cybersuit to my apartment.  It is a risk, obviously, but
where else could I put it?  I can’t just stick it in the storage cage at the
precinct for all to see.  I cleared out my one closet and set the case
inside.  Not exactly Fort Knox.  If any of my friends wander in here and see
it…  The other suit will have to stay hidden at the precinct – at least
until I figure out exactly how this new life of mine is going to work.

A new life – that’s what it is.  It has to be.  I’m throwing everything I
know out the window.  I’m embarking on a journey that will change me, my
priorities, the very course of my life.  Up to now I’ve always done what I
felt was the reasonable, sensible thing.  Now, in one impulsive moment, I
may have brought down an entire mountain of Fate on myself.  I have to be
prepared.  I have to anticipate changes and make sure I handle them right.

The truth is I’ve thought a lot about this.  Even though I don’t
particularly like Heroes, I’ve always wondered what I would do if I wielded
the same power they did.  I suppose most people in this city wonder the same
thing.  It must strain the limits of sanity to realize you have super
powers.  What do you do with power like that, the power to set something on
fire, or to cut another human being to ribbons?

I know I’d want to help the little guy, the one who’s just trying to walk to
the store, the one who walks six blocks out of his way to avoid the gangs of
thugs roaming the streets these days.  I’d want to be someone who would
fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.  That’s an idea I can get
behind.  I imagine if you show common everyday people an example of defiance
they might just find the courage to stand together and turn back the tide of
crime.  I don’t know.  It’s hard to say.  People are so scared today.  They
can barely walk down the street without being mugged, beaten or worse.  But
it would be worth a try.  It would be worth it if only one person said
“Today I will not be a victim”.

I unpacked the suit components, laid them on my bed and studied them for a
moment.  It didn’t look very comfortable.  Helmet, chest plate, upper and
lower back plates, abdomen armor, shoulder guards, upper and lower arm
guards, gloves, leg armor, boots, and a strange black bodysuit that looked
like a cross between a scuba suit and a map of the human nervous system,
only the nerves were mapped out in thin gold filament.

The armor looks simple enough.  All the components are designed for easy
assembly and easy replacement.  They are all thinly lined on the inside with
a strange grey material like hardened foam.  I can see what I thought was a
brand name inked into each piece of foam: Pactolon.  I don’t know what
Pactolon is or who makes it.  Perhaps the first in a long line of mysteries
for me to solve.

I can see the vaporlock channels molded into each piece.  There are dozens
and dozens of connector wires culminating at small, square metal “plugs”,
power relay plugs -- cybernetics, I’m guessing – interconnecting the whole
suit.  There is a spot under the right thigh armor where the thin atomic
battery – about the size of a bathroom tile – is attached.  The gloves are
curiously rigid, yet the joints were flexible.  The helmet is heavily
armored, much heavier than I expected, but I can see a series of small,
precisely machined metal grooves at the neckline.  It looks like the helmet
runs on these super thin rails, helping the wearer to move his head far more
easily than the weight would otherwise have allowed, sort of like the rails
of a turret.

The undersuit is obviously the place to start.  It is black and cold to the
touch, made of some kind of metal mesh I am not familiar with.  It looks
like Kevlar, but moves with the flexibility and similar thickness of a
sweatshirt.  It is heavier than a sweatshirt, but not as heavy as a
bulletproof vest.  At different points, usually near joints, I can see those
little metal plugs.  From them golden lines of filament radiate throughout
the suit.  It is elegant, almost beautiful.  It’s a shame this goes on the
inside.  It’s like hiding a Picasso inside a tank.  There is a hood
attached.  It is filled with small circular metal disks: contact points for
the cybernetics, no doubt.  Am I going to have to shave my head?





October 18 (Tuesday)
0113 HRS
Home

I put the undersuit on.  It stayed cold; my body heat did nothing to it.  It
itched a little, even through my t-shirt.  I pulled the hood on and looked
in the mirror.  With all the gold filament lines running everywhere I looked
like a cross between a scuba diver and member of Cirque de Soliel, but it
was comfortable in its own weird way.  I felt around my body for the
connectors.  Then I felt a small metal disk, about the size of a quarter,
under my left armpit.  As my finger traced it, I accidentally triggered the
disk.  It was the switch to the undersuit.

I felt stabs of pain as tiny needles in each of the metal connector disks in
the hood pricked my skull.  I grabbed my head, terrified I had somehow
activated some kind of protective system, but as soon as the pain started it
was gone, replaced by a warm numbness.  It was a pain killer, like
Novocaine.  As I adjusted to the strange new sensations radiating through my
nerves I became aware of a quiet humm humm humm, a low frequency sound like
the murmur of a one of the department’s giant basement network computers.  
The suit was warming up now.  I had turned it on.

I didn’t know what the power source was (or even where it was located), but
I could definitely feel something surging along those fine gold threads.  
The surges were small pulses of warmth and pressure, like electronic
heartbeats.

My eyes came to rest on one of the handwritten journals scattered on the
bed.  When in doubt, read the directions, right?  I thumbed open the cover
of one of them, a creased and coffee-stained spiral notebook of about 100
pages.  Inside, in quickly scrawled black ink, it said “Cybersuit technical
manual, Volume 7: Systems: Power Generation”.  Reading further, I noticed
this line:

“cybersuit # 1 (mean greenie) is powered by a Wetware Type III elec-neuron
generator with a Crey Psychtomic Mark IX cybernetic power amplification
module.  Power generation at 3200 cycles: approx. 92,000 kilowatt pounds.”

I don’t know what elec-neurons are, or what “psychtomic” means or how much
power 92,000 kilowatt pounds is, but I know when I was getting in over my
head.  I took the undersuit off as fast as I could.  I tossed it on the bed
where it lay crumpled, but still pulsing – hummm, hummm, hummm.  I had a
weird flash of a horror story I had read once in high school about a man who
hears a phantom heartbeat that drives him insane.

I knew I had to slow down.  I knew from my experience with engineers and
scientists (especially the ones that worked with my father) that defining
the purpose of a tool is the first step in designing the tool.  And I knew
that somewhere among all those coffee-stained notebooks was the first one,
the starting point, the one that explained what the cybersuit was for.  It
didn’t take me long to find it.

“PROJECT CAUSE: OPERATIONS MANUAL.  VOLUME 1: GENESIS”, was written on the
front in bold black ink in a strong hand.  “Developed by Milton Ramage for
GCPD with the assistance of Crey Ind., Wetware Ind., Eloxic Chemicals,
Cybergon Systems, Biogenics Corp., Orion Technologies, and the United States
Department of Defense.”

In the inside cover it went on:
Milton Ramage (Ramjet), senior project supervisor
Dr. Clay Anderson, senior project engineer
Dr. Geoff Wheeler, senior physicist
Dr. Eleanor Wendleman, senior cyberneticist
Prof. Sanjay Singh, senior neurologist
Col. Ronald Burrows, USMC
Andrew Cumberland, U.S. Dept. of Defense
Antonio Milagros, Crey Industries
Lt. Oliver Michaels, GCPD

I don’t know who these people are, except Michaels.  And why are the U.S.
government and Crey Industries working together on this?  The Feds have been
trying to take down Crey for ten years.  There’s no love lost there, so why
are they both on this list?  There seems to be a lot of interest in this
project from a lot of different places.  And why would so many different
high-powered groups take such an interest in what must be a low-to-middle
cost body armor augmentation for beat cops?  Suppliers like Crey and Wetware
I can understand.  For them, this project is a test of their technology.  
But why the government?  Surely they have better stuff than this just lying
around.  Maybe it’s because Crey is involved.  There are too many questions
to be answered.

Too tired to continue now.  Have to go to work in 4 hours.


TO CHAPTER 3 >


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