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A Whateley Academy Tale

Hive's Christmas Holiday

(Look what I got for Christmas!)

By Warren

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas, since the accident it has always been a sad time for me.  I always seem to spend time before the holiday reflecting on the previous year.  This year is different.  This year I’m different.  I set out that this year I wasn’t going to mope.  I was going to do something.  I wasn’t sure what but I was going to do something!

The school was about to let out for Christmas break.  Fresh from making a new enemy in the area I was actually chipper, I know that the best justice that can be metered out to someone is that which never comes.  Schrimpsher would be spending the rest of his life looking over his shoulder for an attack that might very well not come in his lifetime.  It would truly be a torture to live in fear like that.

I arrived in security in time for the morning briefing.  It looked like a straightforward day.  I was assigned to the now familiar position of roving patrol, which actually meant I was the self-propelled trouble magnet.  Ever since I “solved” that murder and cleared Raphael, it seemed I was to sit in this position so that if something happened I could be “shaken loose” without a major impact on security.  I still got to interact with the guys though and there were the general newbie jokes that they pulled.  They also learned when they went too far from Joseph after I hung him on a hook.  Nothing dangerous, mind you, I just picked him up, hooked his jacket over a door hook, and let it take his weight.

“One last thing,” Chief Delarose said, “The weather reports are saying we are in for a rough holiday season.  A series of snowstorms will be blowing through over the next couple of days.  Nothing bad they say, but that can always change.  Take care out there.”

To randomize my patrol pattern, I decided to start it a bit later than usual and I returned to my place to hang some Christmas decorations.  Yeah, I know it sounds silly, but during my military service, I was usually deployed over the holidays.  I so seldom got the opportunity to celebrate them at home so I got into the habit of making a big thing over it.  After Joann and Samantha died, I was hurting both physically and emotionally that I couldn’t bring myself to go through the work that was necessary to celebrate the season.  Sure, I would still buy and receive presents, but I would open them at home next to a collapsible tree that I could set up in minutes and take down just as quickly.

I was on my third pass around the main room stringing lights and garland when there was a knock on the door.  I secured what I was doing and went to answer it.

I opened the door to find a black man wearing a Santa hat and big white beard holding up an open copy of Tom Sawyer.

“Dear George:--Remember no man is a failure who has friends…” he read aloud.

I jumped Curly and started hugging him for all I was worth.

“P.S. Thanks for the wi…  Can’t breathe, someone call a doctor,” he gasped out.

I let him go and he began breathing again.  “What are you doing here?” I asked.

He gasped out his response, “No one… should… be alone… on Christmas.”

“Besides,” he said as he finished catching his breath, “I have brought your gifts.”  He handed me the book.

“You traveled across the country to give me a book you could have bought online and had mailed to me for a ton less money?”  I asked.

“I like the personal touch, and I think the postal service is leery of shipping flammables,” he explained holding up a jug.

“Is that what I think it is?”

“Yep, and let me tell you, I had a hell of a time keeping Mule from drinking this after I opened the other bottle at the Knights’ Christmas party.”

“How long have you had that?”  I asked.

“Since you gave it to me back in eighty-nine…”

“How good has that mead gotten?”

“Well, after one sip, Chyna put a bubble around the bottle and didn’t let anyone near it. That is until two cups later she went to sleep mumbling about ambrosia.”

“You realize of course that you broke quite a few laws transporting liquor across state lines without a license?”  I asked.

“That’s rot and you know it.  People carry wine as gifts across the country all the time.  It’s when you want to transport gallons and wanting to sell it that the ATF gets out of joint.”

I moved to the kitchen to get a couple of glasses. “Getting back to what I started to ask you.  What are you doing here?”

“I came to see an old friend,” he said.

“Pull the other leg.  You’ve never done something for only a single reason in your life.  What are the other reasons?”

“Ok, you got me.  There is more than one reason I came.  November 26th, I had a dream.  It was a really strange dream.  It involved you being on some weird version of ‘This is your Life.’”

Shocked, I responded, “Uh, Curly….  It wasn’t a dream.  Well, it was a dream.  It just wasn’t your dream.”

He looked at me with one eyebrow raised and said, “What you talkin’ bout Willis?”

“Well, crud!  I unfortunately just remembered, I’m on duty right now or I would join you in a drink.  If you don’t mind a walk out in the cold, we can talk while we walk the campus.”

After tossing his bags into the spare bedroom, we put the mead in the fridge, and headed out on my patrol.

 “Well, you know that Hive’s original purpose was medical in nature right?  Ever since it moved into my body and changed me, it’s been monitoring my health and well being since its existence depends on mine.  Seems that all of what has happened turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Hive felt I was about to pull a ‘Deer Hunter’ and turn suicidal.  So, it called for help from the only people it could.  I spent that night in a sleep encompassed psychoanalytical therapy session getting a bunch of crap off my soul.  Every death I’ve always felt I was responsible for, every death I was responsible for and my trips into the darker portions of my soul.  How you got drug into it let alone experienced it, I don’t know.”

“A couple of other questions though…”

“Fire when ready, Gridley.”  I said as we walked down a path.

“Who was the character that kept changing from one sentence to the next?”

“Something I met after I left your place, and before I got here.”

“Ok, I’ll bite what was it?”

“You know I had to go to Hanford.  It turns out that we are not alone in the universe.  Alternatively, that there was at least one race around before us.  You met a representation of an alien spacecraft’s computer.”

“What was with all the characters from TV shows and movies?”

“What would you do while you sat around for hundreds of years doing nothing?  Would you twiddle thumbs if you didn’t have to?”

“You mean that Hanford is sitting on a space-going couch potato?”

“Hardly, I’m just surprised it’s not completely bughouse.  Spending all that time from the crash until now alone and unable to communicate.  Course, I may be wrong about that.  It would place some credence to the worshiping rituals of the Mayan and the Toltec.  All it would take would be a misunderstood attempt at communication to lead to a blood sacrifice cult.”

As he walked, I could clearly see that he was thinking hard.  “You know, I’m really regretting you taking that history correspondence course.”

“What correspondence course, I got a bachelors degree in history before I joined the navy.  I figured it would be an easy course.  Just go look up the answers.  It was history after all.”

“After all these years I’m still discovering stuff about you,” Curly growled.

“And that’s a little of what keeps us going isn’t it?” I prompted.

“Ayep.  Cept the stuff I’ve been learning recently hasn’t been that ‘nice.’  If you know what I mean?”

“I really never wanted you to find out about Columbia Curly.”

“But now I have.  How could you let yourself be roped into doing wet work Sam?”

“Come on Curly, what do you call what we were doing from a distance?  ‘Target practice?’  The only thing different between them was distance involved.  Besides, I was the team sniper support originally.  When we arrived on site, there were only three guards outside.  Two at a gate and one roving patrol.  The team took care of them and the lead ordered me into the house with the rest.  I won’t use the excuse of ‘I was only following orders’ either.  I discovered I liked the rush of killing too much.  I can see why they have classified some of these kids as ‘ultra-violents.’  That rush and feeling of power is as addictive as heroin.  I had shame and military discipline to help me put the monster back in the box.  These kids don’t have the life experience to keep their personal monsters in check.”

“True and I guess you’ve come to terms with it after that night.  Changing subjects, have you realized yet that if the alien A.I. contacted you all the way over here, DARPA must be going ape shit?”

“The thought had occurred to me, but I think they may let it slide while they work on the Anti-mater breeder plant.  If they can get the plant, built and working then the energy crisis will be pretty much over.  The plant will be powerful enough to feed the entire United States and still have power to spare.  After that, it will only take some research to make smaller power sources from the remixing of matter and anti-matter.  Meaning one big enough to run a car is about the size of a car engine and most of that will be space used for converting the power to electricity and the electric motor.  Telling OPEC to take it up the ass will really cheese off some people,” I said.

“That’s if the government lets it go public.”

“Well, I know they can’t weaponize it.  If the mater/anti-matter fusion process stops, it will fizzle out in this gravity field.  It’s a breeder reactor not a generator,” I said by way of explanation.  Curly just looked at me shocked.

“What?”

“When did you pick up a working knowledge of cutting edge atomic physics?”

“Actually I didn’t,” I conceded.  “I’m making a bit of an assumption.  There was a series of warnings on the plans that pretty much said, ‘Running out of fuel will end the fusion cycle.’  And if the containment bottle fails the existing anti-matter will dissipate like hydrogen.  This isn’t Star Trek with runaway anti-matter explosions.   Since I didn’t see anything about an explosion warning, I take it that it will just fizzle.  We’ll see once DARPA builds a prototype.”

“So when will they be ready to test it?”

“I don’t know.  Why didn’t you ask how I knew they were going to build one?”

Curly just looked at me and smiled.  “Come on, I’m not that dumb.  I can connect the dots.  The Alien A.I., Hanford is suddenly very closed mouth when I call up to shoot the breeze and check up on your test results and you’re talking about anti-matter breeder plants.  Of course they are building one; even if it is only to keep the A.I. happy and willing to part with more information.”

“Anything else that’s new I should know about?” I asked.

“Other than them trying to provide power to the computer through a devisor devise?  No, nothing else.”

“Oh ho ho ho,” I chuckled, “I bet that went over good.”

“Yep, about like a cat fight.  The devisor brought the devise in the A.I. tried to tap it like did when you contacted it.  When that failed the devisor tried to hook up the power source to the computer and it threw him across the room.”

“Threw him?  It didn’t have any way to affect anything except draw power when I was there.  How did it happen?”

“Ever stick your finger in a light socket?” Curly asked.

I just looked at him with a ‘you’re stupid’ look.

“I mean other than recently ok?  Anyway he was thrown across the room by the spark.”

“Deja’vue.  No strange messages this time?”

“Nothing strange about it, every time he enters the room with it the computer starts flashing red lights.”

“Yep, a very clear, ‘don’t fuck with me’ message.  I’ll probably hear about it if the A.I. decides to talk to me again.”

“Well at that point Dr. Meyers stopped trying other options and began working on the reactor in earnest.

 We continued my patrol while we talked about the sale of my house, and other details of the disposal of my previous life.  Eventually we returned to Kane Hall entering the security office so I could shift myself to an “on-call” status.

“Hey Chet, I’m shifting to on-call,” I said as we entered the security office.

“Who’s your grandpa?” he asked indicating Curly.

“To quote James Bond, ‘this is the man who shares my hair brush.’”

“Huh?”

“Why is it Curly that we can be made to feel old with the utterance of a single phrase?”  I asked.

“I don’t know.  I went through something similar when my sister’s kids asked me if Paul McCartney belonged to any rock groups,” He explained with a sly smile.

“Gah, now I really do feel old.  I hope your sister still has offspring.”

“It was a near thing.  I think she sent them to me on purpose.”

This was said as Chet began to take a sip of his coffee.  A spit-take is a wonderful thing to provoke sometimes and this was one of those times.  Not only did he spit it out.  It came out his nose too!  This started him coughing and jumping around from the coffee.

“Our work here is done Curly, let’s go get some lunch.”

The patrol and talk had taken a bit longer than I expected, and it made our arrival at Crystal Hall towards the end of the lunch hour.  Students who were finished eating were already coming out.

The next thing to happen is going to take some explaining.  We were approaching from Kane Hall.  Students were spread across the commons.  Between Crystal Hall and us were team Kimba and a recruiter waiting in the bushes about to approach one of the team when the Outcast came out the door.  The girl Caitlin, spotted the recruiter and said, “Oh no you don’t.” then quickly made a snowball from the ground and threw it at the recruiter. 

The throw missed the recruiter, with an “Oops” from Caitlin it hit a dark haired olive skinned girl that Hive identified as Semiramis Vesmarran, code name Sahar.  She was a junior.  With a scream of indignation she made her own snowball and returned fire at Caitlin.  Caitlin ducked making a second snowball while eyeing the recruiter.

Sahar’s snowball didn’t hit Caitlin it caught an athletic black haired girl Hive identified as Daphne Bosworth aka “Stunner” from behind producing a rather loud shriek.  Five other students reached for their mp3 players while she turned to look for the person responsible.  She continued the cascade of shrieks as she took aim with her own newly created snowball and let fly at Sahar.

Being near the entrance of the crystal hall, did give Sahar a form of protection.  It was the protection of other students exiting the lunchroom.  A classic Italian good-looking young man had the misfortune of stepping out right after the missile was launched.  It landed with a wet explosive ‘thwack’ against his shoulder, showering him in snow.  A couple of steps and he had a snowball made and thrown.  It missed its intended target and hit a wall.  No that wall was moving.  It was a student which Hive identified with the code name oddly enough of “Wall.”  He bent over, gathered enough snow to make the base of a snowman, and threw it back.

This massive projectile flew towards the building entry and over shot impacting the front of the building.  Not only did this cause it to shatter hitting those below, it shook the building with enough force to dislodge some of the snow on the roof adding it to the attack.

That started a whole group of students preparing to return fire including Nikki Reilly.  Some shots were returned quickly while others took longer.  Nikki’s was in the latter.

It was almost the last shot of the volley and I saw her mumble something before she threw it.  Her snowball arced up in a throw some people would refer to as “throwing like a girl.”  When it reached the apex of the arc I heard Nikki say very clearly, “Uh oh.”  Moreover, I watched as her small single-handed snowball multiplied and shot forth in every direction.  The snowballs hit everyone in sight including Curly and I.

At this point all bets were off, I grabbed Curly, and we ran for cover.

Once we were safe, he asked, “What happened?”

“It was just students blowing off steam.  Do you remember how we got after coming in from the bush?  It’s the same thing here in a way.  The upper classes are going through their combat finals.  Everyone’s adrenalin is up from watching the combat matches.  They don’t realize it but they are looking to burn it off.  I’m just glad it was as a fairly ‘safe’ snowball fight rather than coming to blows.”

“Combat finals?  What are they like?”

“It’s like a toned down version of the International Sniper Competition.”

“Crud, you had to bring that up.  After winning it four times they had to put a rank limit on participants to keep you from competing.”

“You can’t compete anymore either, you know.”

“So, its two days of simulated combat operations?”

“From what I’ve seen it’s a round robin affair with the teacher having picked who goes against whom.  They also grade the students on performance.  Though with a single goal and both students trying to complete, I don’t see how grading can be fair,” I said.  “I just had a thought.”

“Oh?”  Curly prompted.

“The school deals with mutants, gadgeteers, and magic users.”

“Don’t forget divisors and mentalist.”

“I didn’t, I just lumped them.  My thought was that Baby could take care of two of the three easily given a chance to make the shot.  The questionable one is magic.”

“What are you talking about?”

“A magically active target could simply shake off a shot from Baby.  I need something that would guarantee that the target would stay down at least long enough for more permanent steps could be taken.”

“Research states that magic is sensitive to certain materials.  Symbolism for various items of importance to magic users such as the planets indicate a high probability that those symbolic materials may have an effect on magical constructs.  The following materials may have the desired effect:  sulfur, mercury, turquoise, aquamarine, jasper, emerald, aventurine, tiger-eye, quartz, citrine, sapphire, garnet ruby, topaz, lapis lazuli, jade and moonstone,” Hive said.

“Hmm, Silver,” I mused aloud.

“I think silver only works on werewolves,” Curly said.

“No not the item, the person.  The metal silver is magically neutral.  You’re right it does work on weres, but I might need something more.”

“Huh?”

“Security gets briefs on all the students.  Especially those who might be kidnap risks.”

“Ok, who is Silver?”

“A fairly new foreign student from India who has an interesting power.  She sweats metal.”

“Sounds about right for the school,” Curly said non-pulsed.

“Well, in this case the metal is special.  It’s magically active and normally very rare.  Let’s go.  I we need to get a can of fifty cal out of the locker first,” I said getting up.

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Just off the tunnel from Hawthorne Cottage to Schuster Hall inside a utilities closet, a crack formed.  It was in the brick of the old cinderblock wall.  After years of frost heave action, water had finally managed to worry its way in.

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We went down to the security office then over to the firing ranges to collect the can of ammo.  From there we lucked out by catching Silver while she was still in the dining area of Crystal Hall.

“Silver, are you busy?”

“Not particularly.  I’m just checking my assignment list to see if I need to check any books out of the library before I return home for the holiday.”

“Can we talk to you privately?”

“I guess.”

We moved into one of the study room and shut the door.  “I am given to understand you ‘sweat’ mythril?”

“I call it ‘moon silver’ but yes I sweat metal.”

“May I examine some?

“Sure,” she said as she began to rub her hands together.  “Some of the faculty are truly freaked out about this ability.  They are giving me new towels every day and keeping my used ones in case I sweated on them.  They act like it’s super rare.  It’s not for me.”  A moment later, she rolled out a piece of material that was shinier than chrome that was about three inches long and perhaps an eighth of an inch in diameter, which she handed me.

It felt slick to the touch and cool.  I tried bending it and it moved easily.  I tried twisting the piece in two and failed.  I bent it into a ring, set it down and tried to crush it with a quick blow.  It didn’t crush.  I tried to pinch through it with my reinforced fingernails and failed.

Hive started speaking in my ear again, “Preliminary analysis indicates that this material is stronger than steel of an equivalent dimension, yet as flexible as soft copper.  It doesn’t seem affected by bending like other metals.  The material is also highly conductive, more so than gold.  Yet the material stretches under strain at a higher order of magnitude in its raw form.  Analysis is inconclusive.”

“Well that was about what I expected,” I said.

“What?” both Curly and Silver asked in chorus.

“Hive’s analysis was inconclusive.”

“Preliminary analysis,” Hive said, “Request you consume sample for further analysis.”

So, I folded the metal into a bite size piece and ate it.  I felt it settle into the pocket Hive had made to take on materials.

“That is so weird.”

“Think about where you are Curly.”

“Still it is weird seeing the girl I babysat eating metal like nothing was wrong with it.”

“Well back to purposes.  I have a favor to ask Silver.  Since mythril is suppose to have a magical property to it.  Could you coat the tips of these rounds,” I indicated the ammo box, “with this metal?”

“How thick a coating do you want?  It has a bearing on how long it’ll take me to do it.”

“Not thick at all.  If you could paint it on that would be enough I imagine.”

“Oh that won’t take long at all.  Let me see them.”

I opened the ammo box and she peered in at the ammo belts.  “These won’t go off if I handle them will they?”

“No, just like any other bullet the primer cap needs to be hit with enough force to trigger them.  Your coating of the bullets won’t generate any large amount of heat will it?”

“Only on me if I’m sweating,” she said reaching for the belt of ammo.  She proceeded to wipe her hands across each of the bullets as if she was juicing an orange just coating each of the bullets themselves and not the casings.

“I don’t want to seal the bullet to the casing,” she said.

“That works,” I said.

After a few minutes rubbing and touching, we had a box full of shiny bullets.  I thanked Silver by saying, “Thanks, if you ever need anything contact me.”

Curly and I headed down to one of the firing range shops to begin my next experiment.  I went to the magic components cabinet and liberated some of each of the components Hive had listed earlier, and then I grabbed another box of ammo as I headed for the drill press.  Together we drilled transverse holes across the diameter of each bullet, filled each with a different magical component ground to powder, and sealed them.

While we were working, Caitlin walked in.

“What cha doing in my shop?” she asked.

“We are working on ammunition,” I replied.

“Who’s your friend?”

“This is Curly, the man who used to share my toothbrush.”

“That is until you started using gel for toothpaste.  Blech,” Curly tossed in.

“So he was your spotter?” Caitlin asked.

“Yep.”

“So, what are you up to?” she prompted again.

“Well, I know that around here I might be facing some magically active opponents.  From everything I read it’s highly probable that if it came to shooting them they might just grin at me and keep on coming.  So I figured I’d make a few special rounds.”

“Hey! I resemble that remark.”

“Well, now that you mention it…”

“Like what?”

“Beg your pardon?”

“Don’t change the subject, what modifications are you making to the ammo?”

“By adding magically active components to the bullets as a start.”

 I showed her the bullets we had drilled and filled, explaining that due to the material strength of the components turning replacement bullets out of components isn’t practical.

“So we’re drilling holes and filling them with the various items.  It’s not much but the addition might keep a target down long enough to get serviced in a more permanent fashion.  And if those don’t work, we always got these.”  I said as I walked over to the ammo box with the bullets Silver had coated and pulled out the belt.

“OH MY GAWD! HOW DID YOU GET THOSE?? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT THAT IS??? HOW DID YOU GET SO MUCH OF IT???”

“You know; I have four words for you. ‘Switch… to… De… Caf...’  The answer is ‘I have a connection.’”

“But, getting that much?!?  Do you realize that the smelting of it takes the light of a full moon and if you’re lucky, you might make six to eight ounces on such a night?  To make that much would take well over a year and to a magic user that stuff is priceless!  And you just have it as bullets!”

“Well it’s just a coating over the existing steel jacket.”

“But how?  I mean you have less magical skill than I do.”

“Oh brother, now she’s done it,” groaned Curly as he worked at the drill.

“Au contraire, mon ami,” I said as I flourished a card deck into a fan.

“What?”

“Pick a card, any card.”

“That’s not magic!”

“You’re not going to pick a card?”

“That’s not magic.”

“Come on, pick a card.”

“She’s not going to let up you know,” Curly warned.

“I’m not going to play at magic.  I can make real magic.”

“Ok, well I’ll pick a card then and show it to you,” I said, as I picked a card from the deck showing her the face of the card.

“Now rather than have you pick the card again I’ll just put them in this glass,” I said as I produced a glass.

After placing the cards in the glass I said, “Hmm seems a hair got stuck to the card.”  I held in my fingers above the deck of cards and pulled up.

“I don’t see any of my hair,” Caitlin said as a card rose out of the deck.

“Is that the card I showed you?”

“Well, yes but…”

“…there you go, I do have magic skill.”

“I didn’t mean stage magic and you know it!” she yelled.

“Well you didn’t say so,” I looked at her innocently.  She just threw up her hands and growled in frustration.

“Are you just going to stand there taking bows, or are you going to get back to work?” Curly asked.

We spent the next few hours avoiding answering Caitlin’s probing questions on whom our source was for the mythril and completed the work on the bullets.  Caitlin even had some good ideas along those lines as well.

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In the closet, a steady drip of water was beginning to form puddles on the floor.

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I grabbed enough of the special rounds to fill two clips for Baby and another couple of clips of normal rounds as well.  There were no dire emergencies while I was “on call,” so that we finally got down to sampling some of my old mead.

I woke up the next morning with a pounding headache.  It was too bright and I could hear the students walking in the tunnels under the campus.

“Coffee, I need coffee.” I mumbled to myself as I struggled to the kitchen.

I entered the kitchen to the sound of the pot beginning to gurgle and the rattle of a newspaper at the table.

“You know, I thought being young again would keep you from having hangovers,” Curly said as he kept reading the paper.

Wincing in pain, I made rude gesture his direction while I waited for the black gold to finish.

It finished and after pouring a cup, I sat down at the table and began to drink the heavenly nectar of the bean.  After a few minutes, I was done and beginning to feel more human.

“Far be it for me to point fingers but even though you are in the body of my god daughter, whom I have seen naked, and changed her diapers.  Don’t you think you should put something on?” Curly asked with a grin.

 It finally sunk in why I was feeling a draft.  After getting another cup of coffee, I stomped in to my room and slid the door shut with a bang.

Dressed, I returned for breakfast with Curly.  When finished, we went down to Security to listen in on morning brief.  Again, I was assigned as a floater.  I decided to escort Curly to see some of the senior matches.

It was a short walk from Kane hall to the combat arena, accompanied by some of the students who moved with an urgency to reach the building quickly.  It was a bit crowded as we entered the stands looking for a place to perch.  We found seats just as the match participants were announced.

Name: Mega-Death

Powers: Dev(Gadgeteer) -2

Weaknesses: Others claim he suffers from Dedrick’s

Associations: Robot Joxs



Name: Gadget

Powers: Dev(Gadgeteer)-4

Weaknesses: I’m a damn squirrel, you got a problem with that?

Assocations: None claimed

“If ever there was a mismatched pair,” I mumbled.

“Pardon my dumb look but, huh?” Curly asked.

“Mega-Death and Gadget, if there were ever two people about as different as can be, yet be so comparable.  They must have really struggled to come up with this match-up”

“I don’t get it.”

“Well, they both are gadgeteers, but one suffers from a rather severe case of GSD.  Gadget really does look like a giant squirrel.  According to her records, she has been pretty much a loner by choice.  Quietly going around and filing patents on anything she creates which she then sells.  While Mega-Death hasn’t filed one patent yet claims to have invented hundreds of items.  If he had the cash, he would be spending it all on patent lawyers suing everyone under the sun for patent infringement.

“Sounds like Mega-Death is a typical Dedrick’s case in the early stages.”

“Oh he has enough chips on his shoulders to build a brick house.  The question is, ‘what’s real and what’s he believe is real?’”

“You are always suspicious of people aren’t you?”

“It kept us alive and helped us complete our missions by being able to better predict the target’s movements.”

“Still, don’t you think you should let up?”

“I work for campus security.  I can’t let up now.”

The lights dimmed and came up quickly announcing both contestants had entered the arena.

From one side Gadget entered.  It had to be here just as her ID said she looked like a squirrel.  I had to fight the urge to shout out “Hey Rocky, want to see me pull a rabbit out of my hat?” mostly; because I thought, she might need to do just that to win this match.

From the other side entered Mega-Death.  He looked like the proverbial ninety-eight pound weakling.

 “This is the match?  It looks like someone in the audience could break wind and knock ‘em both down,” Curly said.

Mega-Death’s voice rang out, “You’re already beaten Gadget.  Why don’t you give up now and not mess up your fur?” he gestured to each side as he spoke.

“What’s he doing that for?  She can’t see him.” Curly said.

“Planting defenses is my guess he’s throwing objects about golf ball sized away from him.”

Gadget was taking advantage of her form and climbing walls to place items and check their aim.  She kept moving around and trying to keep the shadows though she did move towards the spindle.

He continued with, “You’ll never get to the spindle.” He tossed a ball to the left.  “I will tell you something.” there was a toss to the right, “I pity you.” another throw, this one hard, past the spindle.  “You will never ‘fit in’ you are an aberration.  No one will see past your skin.”  Mega-Death finished and began searching for Gadget.

Meanwhile Gadget had continued to be busy setting up various items around the arena.  She hunkered down and pulled something from her harness.

“What’s Gadget doing?  You can see better than me.”

“Looks like she’s setting up boxes of some sort.  I can’t guess what’s in them, the protective force field for the stands is preventing the nanites from spreading that far.” I said.

 “You think you’re better?” Gadget’s voice rang out across the arena.  Then the volume lowered till only someone with heightened hearing could hear it in the stands.  “I can beat you on my worse day with one hand behind my back.  Your inventions are a joke and they never work Meggy.  The only thing you have going for you is your ego.  And that is enough for twelve people.”

Mega-Death’s searching had turned up one of Gadget’s devices.  “So this is how you’re going to beat me?” he asked as he held up the device.  “This is nothing more than a remote speaker.  What are you going to do talk me to death?  I expected better from you Abigail.  That’s right, Abigail.” He threw down the speaker and continued, “I know your name.  I make it a point to know everything about my opponents.  Your full name is Abigail Ann Armitage.  You were born June 5, 1988 in Dubuque, Iowa to John and Ilene Armitage.  You were the sixth child and their first daughter.  It came as a surprise when three days after your birth in the hospital, your appendages realigned themselves into the current configuration.  A greater surprise was the growth of a fur coat and tail.  But that didn’t happen until after your parents noticed your pronounced upper and lower incisors.  Living in a farm community, your parents were able to home school you, thus hiding your freakish nature from the public by simple distance.  You spoke your first words by six months, and were speaking full sentences by two years.”

“Why does that twerp know so much about her?” Curley asked.

“They both work in the devisor labs.  So she’s competition.  He probably has studied everyone who works there.  If only to find out something he can use against them.  Looks like he’s trying to rattle her with his knowledge.” I explained.

He continued while looking for other devices, “Showing this aptitude for science, your parents were instructed to encourage you to pursue it.  Which they did religiously until your father’s death in a farming accident, by age seven you passed the high school equivalency exam ‘for practice.’” Mega-Death found  couple more boxes and disabled them by ripping out the speakers.  “By age eight, you had eight patents for devices that improved various farm equipment operation and safety.  By nine having discovered the internet, you built your own ipod to play music.  You slowed down after this since with the internet you discovered relay chat.  Between then and now, you continued to file patents on an assortment of devices.  Some of which were licensed to manufacturers netting your family a tidy sum that keeps the farm going.”

 “You certainly seem to know a lot about me Meggy.  No wonder your grades are slipping.  You’re spending all your time researching everyone at the school.” Gadget said this while working on a box and not even looking at him.

 “I have to wonder what prompted the Headmistress to pair us up for the arena.  I’m clearly the superior opponent.”

“That’s where you’re mistaken Meggy.  The Headmistress has nothing to do with the matches,” Gadget countered.  “It’s a group of instructors that decide who faces whom.  Speaking of faces, if you’re so unbeatable, why haven’t you found mine and beaten it to a pulp?”

With a growl of, “You overgrown rodent.” Mega-death raced into the blasted ruins that the match was set in.

“How long do you think it will take him to find her?” Curly asked.

“It’s hard to say.  She is more maneuverable when she travels on all fours,” I replied.  “She can climb over the ruins easier than Mega-Death.”

Over the next few minutes, we saw both of them moving around the arena.  There were near misses where Mega-Death almost had Gadget.  One time he had the complete drop on her.  He threw a golf ball at her feet and nothing happened.  She turned and ran off.  After she left the ball exploded into an expanding mess that was five hundred times larger than the original golf ball. Then we saw Gadget run across a clearing and back into the ruins.

“What was that stuff?” Curly asked.

“You remember when you helped me build that addition at the house?  The foam we used to insulate it?  I think Mega-Death has come up with a higher expansion rate version of the foam.  Under the right circumstances I can see it used in crowd control or stopping a vehicle.  Enough of that stuff would probably stop a tank.”

“Come on Meggy,  catch me if you can!  Should I wait for you to put on your running shoes?” Gadget taunted.  With a laugh she continued, “You’re going to lose to a rodent.”  Then she turned and ran on just as Mega-Death saw her.

“She’s baiting him,” I said.  “She just ran through an area she was working on earlier.”

As I pointed this out to Curly, Mega-Death entered the area and threw himself back then forward.  Almost as if, he was hitting walls.

“What’s going on?” Curly asked what I was thinking.

“Well,” I started think in earnest.  “It’s not solid because he’s not stopping in the same spots.  He’s not really bouncing back as much as jumping back.”

“So?”

“Gadget must have done something.”

“Thank you, Miss Obvious.”

“Just because I have Hive in me, doesn’t mean I know everything.  At this school, bleeding edge technology is out dated.  Whatever Gadget did, it is keeping Mega-Death caged.

While this was going on an announcement was made, “Five minutes to match end.”  Gadget, hearing this started moving towards the spindle with plenty of time to complete the operation.  There was quite a lot of cheering for her as she approached the final corner before reaching the spindle.

Just as she turned the corner a golf ball fell at her feet and with a ‘whump’ she was trapped in foam up to her neck.

“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.” Mega-Death said as he climbed down the fire escape on the building remains.

“Now to win this match,” he said dismissively to Gadget.  He turned away and started towards the spindle.  When he got within five feet of it, there was a sudden chain of ‘whumps’ like we just heard followed by a Mega-Death yelling, “NO!” as he watched the spindle be encased in foam.

“What?  How did..” Curly began.

“Remember at the beginning of the match.  He was throwing those all around the spindle on the obvious approaches.  Apparently Mega-Death forgot something.  Round objects tend to roll.  He threw them and they continued to roll closer than he planned to the Spindle.  Now it’s encased in foam.”

Racing forward he began digging.  It was a losing battle he reached the spindle as the announcement was made, “One minute.”  He was on the wrong side from the console.  The horn sounded to end the match was joined by the scream of frustration from Mega-Death.  He had just reached the console.

Curly was excited from the match.  “The possibilities are incredible.  Let’s go talk to Gadget!”

“Woah there Kemosabie.  I bust outside recruiters trying to bug the kids and I’ll do the same to you.”

“But, she has to know about the possibilities of her invention!” Curly was almost yelling.

“I think she does.  She was here during the Halloween mess.  The reports I’ve read, state that most of the student body was taken down by a sonic emitter.  I’m sure she knows the power of sonic waves, and is developing more controlled uses.  So, we’ll just leave her be.”

It took some strong-arming but I was able to convince him to see reason.  The arm bar might have been a bit much though…

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December 22, 2006, morning

It was snowing when I took Curly with me down to briefing.  Once again, I was assigned roving duties except when I was overseeing kids loading the bus for the trip to the train station.  The only people left around campus were those who weren’t going home for the holidays and those who couldn’t.

After waving goodbye to the kids like a certain grounds keeper at another school, Hive notified me of an anomalous reading from the school perimeter sensors.  It was from the sensor sets the kids had built and deployed over the last few years.  There was always a lot of cross talk and confusing information from them.  They were usually only glanced at by security.  Hive had tapped every sensor in the valley.

The anomaly was that some sensors were picking up something, others were not, and still others were dropping out of the security net.  Something was up.  Rather than trudge the half mile out to where the problem was, I decided to make use of the tower and simply look out there.

As I came in Curly was sitting at the table playing solitaire.  “What’s up?” he asked.

“I’m checking something on the school perimeter with the mark two eyeballs.  I would rather do it by looking from here than walking half a mile in the snow.  I hope there’s no trees in the way…” I said as I moved to the bedroom balcony.

I looked off into the distance where the sensor anomaly was being reported.  It was blurry through the snow but something was out there.  I triggered the zoom on my vision and took a closer look.  It was a group of weres.  However, they were twisted in horrible ways with muscle tissue bared to the weather and an otherworldly glow to their eyes.  These could only be one thing; the voodoo weres of which Nikki had told me.

I stepped over to the closet and grabbed Baby out of her case along with all the ammo I had for her.

“What did you see?” asked Curly.  He had a spotter scope ready to look out the window.

“DON’T” I said forcefully.  “You don’t want to look at these things they will screw you up from a distance.” I drug the dresser over to the balcony door to use as a rest.

“What about you?  You saw whatever is out there.”

“I didn’t know what I was going to see.  I need you to go down to the security office and tell them we have an attack of voodoo wolves in coming sector 22-E.  If they don’t believe that tell them I’m going to be firing my rifle.”

I heard Curly leave as I set Baby’s bipod on top of the dresser and started looking for targets again.  After a minute, I spotted one of the beasts.  The falling snow gave Hive a good marker for what wind there was.  I focused on him, inhaled, exhaled, and between one beat of my heart and the next pulled the trigger.

The report of the shot knocked loose a shower of snow from the building as the beast’s chest exploded right below his head and knocked him back five feet.  All the noise from Baby wasn’t helping the headache I was getting.  I spotted a second monster aimed and fired.  My headache flared right along with the noise.  Just as I pulled the trigger, he bent over.  It happened so fast I almost had to replay it in my mind.  The bullet went in his head and apparently went down its spine, because it was twitching all over the ground before it started to melt.  I continued to aim and shoot taking out the beasts, but more kept coming.  My headache grew with each shot, keeping pace.  Seemingly all too soon, cycled the bolt on nothing.  I had fired twenty-four rounds in five minutes.  For a gun with a normal rate of fire of one every thirty seconds, I surprised even myself.  I needed more ammo.

I left Baby in position and headed for the tunnels.  As I passed Security, I could hear music blaring and Curly yelling over it.  “I have to speak to the officer in charge now!  The school is under attack!”

As the door was closing I could hear the response of, “Listen… boy, the chief is with his family, the Lieutenant is busy and so is the Sergeant.  So you got to deal with me…”

I had no time for that as I continued my race for the ammo locker.  Each jarring step was like a sledgehammer in my head.  I had to get there and back.  I ran harder.

I slid to a stop at the ammo locker door, unlocking it as I arrived.  I dove into the locker hunting for where I put the rest of the special rounds along with more fifty-caliber rounds.

linebreak shadow

The water had been relentless, what had started, as a drip was now a stream.  It also had filled the wire vault to reach the power panel. The water spilled over the lip of the panel and quickly encountered a few bare wires, which shorted out the panel and the next in a shower of sparks.

linebreak shadow

The ammo vault went dark and the safeties kicked in.  The vault door slammed shut with a clang.  Normally getting through a door wouldn’t be a problem for me, but this vault door had safeties that Hive couldn’t sense.  I was trapped.  The safety was decidedly low tech; a mechanical time lock.  It wouldn’t allow the ammo vault to open again until seven am the next morning.  The interior face of the vault door was smooth.  I couldn’t get a grip on it.

“Hive, there has to be a way out of here.”

“Searching,” Hive replied.  Meanwhile, I trigged my low light vision enhancement and saw absolutely nothing.  Dam it, I need some light to be able to see and it’s dark as the crack of a well digger’s ass in here.

“Found connection. Negotiating protocol.  Connection established. Mapping network.  Limited connectivity found. Connection identified: Industrial Automaton R2-Series Astromech Droid.”

“Oh you have got to be shitting me.”

“Negative, bowls and sphincter muscles in full control.”

“Figure of speech Hive.  Activate its camera.”

A window opened in my vision.  Unlike the vault this room was lit by emergency lighting looking around I spotted a phone and computer.  The computer was dark which was to be expected.  I continued to look around.  There was a cell phone on a table.

The moving the R2 unit cause a broom to fall hitting something.

I turned to get the phone and hook up to it when Johnny Five rolled up and grabbed the phone saying, “Wireless communication devices, Motorola Q.  Play-doh.” as he crushed it.

Somedays you just want to bang your head against the wall.  Mine felt like I had been doing it for hours.

I continued my look around finally seeing that the room was full of quite a few robots from movies.  As if rolling around in R2-D2 wasn’t enough.  Great I have access to all these bots and no way to get outside with them.

I heard Johnny 5 again, “Hast a la vista baby! We are out of here!” and light streamed into the room revealing a ramp with a door leading out.  By now, I could see the room was very crowded with robots moving around.   Apparently Johnny was a button pusher.  He activated a lot of them.  Seeing the ramp out, I told Hive to active the rest.  Then I told the Droideka robots to roll out and head for the location of the attack.  Robbie, Gort, the cylons, and Marvin went too.  Next came an ED209 and four sentinels.  Am I a geek for knowing all the robot’s character names?  Bringing up the rear was an unnamed robot that looked more like a model tank than a robot.  It had a large bore barrel that barely extended beyond its tracks.  I took a moment to analyze the specs it.

A plasma canon?!?  If it works great.  I hope it doesn’t set the atmosphere on fire.

I continued to look around and spotted another door.  Rolling over to it, I had R2 try the door.  Of course, it was locked.

I guess I was lucky there had been a bunch of movies made.  I remembered the laser and started to cut the lock out of the door.  Only at this school would someone arm a robot with a laser powerful enough to cut through steel.

The laser made short work of the lock and I was trundling across the hall to the other office and possibly a phone or radio.  A flip of an arm and the door was open.  I rolled in and began searching.  There was a slight red glow from what looked like a tall free-standing metal closet.  I guess R2 here has some thermal capabilities.

The laser cut the lock in seconds and the doors burst open.

“R2 thank goodness you found me!  I don’t know what I’d have done,” C-3PO said.

“Oh lord you’re all I need to see now.  You’re just going to get in the way,” I said which came out as a bunch of beeps and chirps.

“Get in the way?  This is the thanks I get.  After I come all this way to help you.  See if I send you a Christmas card you near sighted scrap-pile!”

I spotted the phone jack an Ethernet port and went to plug in.

“What are you doing there?  You’re not authorized to access the network!” C-3PO scolded.

“Shut-up I’m trying to tell someone about the voodoo wolves attacking.” I said through beeps.

“Voodoo Wolves?  We’re doomed!  Well, not at first.  First they will kill everyone, then they will start dismantling the robots.”

I finally got into the phone exchange and started dialing Nikki’s room.  Her flying squad would be able to take on the Voodoo Wolves.  Then I realized I couldn’t talk.  R2 didn’t have a voice other than beeps.  I turned R2 while holding out the phone to C-3PO.

“What do you expect me to do?” he asked.

“Well, it’s not like they are going to understand me and Nikki Reilly need to know about the wolves.  If she doesn’t know yet, your nightmares of being dismantled will come to pass!”  I scolded.

“Where did you learn about the wolves?”

“Would you believe a beautiful princess told me?”

“No I wouldn’t.  What number should I dial?” he asked and began pushing buttons.

“WAIT!”  After five or six numbers had been pressed I managed to say, “It was already programmed in. You just needed to hit dial,” I finished, shaking my head.

C3-PO hit dial and I could hear the tones play out way too many tones.  I turned up the microphone so I could hear what was being said.

“Hello?” I heard Nikki answer.

“Miss Reilly, I am C3-PO human cyborg relations, I have a message for you.”

“Click” came from the phone as she hung up.

“Smooth move bolt brain she thought you were an automated call,” I bitched.

“I am automated.”

“Well dial it again.”

Again the overly long series of tones followed by her picking up part way through, “Listen, if this is a prank I’m going to let squirrels loose in your underwear!” she griped.

“Miss Reilly, please don’t hang up,” C3-PO began, “I have a message for you.  Okay I’ve got her now what is the message?”

“Tell her Samantha says there’s a voodoo-were attack coming from the area of the grove.”

C3-PO repeated the message then added, “Thank you… Oh! She hung up on me, how rude.”

“Let it slide 3PO she had important business to take care of,”  I consoled him.

“Well, that’s taken care of.  What now?” asked C3-PO.

“Well, you two can go try and fight the voodoo wolves too.  I have other things to work on,” I said as I released hold on R2D2.

Dropping back into darkness was a bit jarring.  “Hive what else have you found?” I asked.

“Local network, only.  No communications beyond utility room 6324T.”

“Where is that utility room located?”

“Forty-five feet below ground level, approximately six hundred and sixty feet from Kane Hall.”

“Where is that in relation to me?” I asked as my head pounded.

“Nine hundred eighty-four feet nine inches east south east of here.”

“What’s the extent of the damage?”

“Unknown at this time, resources to diagnose limited.”

“Tell me what you do know,” I ordered.  Damn this headache won’t go away. “Hive can you do something about the headache?”

“Hive working on condition.”

I took a moment and tried to push the headache away.  I had been in the weapons vault multiple times since I got here, so I visualized the room and looked around.  Weapons racks, controls for the door, video camera to the outside, the ammo locker, and the maintenance area.  As I turned the room around in my mind again, I saw it.  There was a simple metal plaque with a round plug on it.  Below that was a box.  Next to it a phone handset.  Caitlin did say they had problems with people being trapped in here.  I had spotted an ‘old school’ item in this high tech wonderland.  A sound powered phone!  A sound powered phone is different from your common phone.  Phones, now days use electricity drawn off the phone or locally supplied to send the voice over the phone line to the telephone exchange, a sound powered phone on the other hand is a form of a crystal radio.  The microphone is made with a piezoelectric crystal.  A voice caused a diaphragm to strike the crystal generating a very small electrical current.  The current travels out on the wire and at any other connection the transducer there would convert that current back into sound. It required no external power to work and could work over a fair distance. 

I felt my way over to where the box was.  I grabbed the handset and found the crank for the magneto in the box.  All it did was ring a bell on the other end so someone would know to pick up the phone.  After a few cranks I was rewarded with a voice on the handset.

“Hello? Who’s there?” said the voice.

“Everheart here.  Who am I talking to?”

“Richardson in control, what are you doing in the range locker?”

“Getting more ammo and I got caught in a power outage.  I’m trapped, have you scrambled the voodoo wolf fighting team?  We have a breach.”

“Voodoo Wolf attack?  There was some guy in here..”

“Let me guess black, built like a mobile brick wall, bald, really angry?”

“Yeah that’s him.”

“That man is my holiday guest and he was telling the truth because I sent him.  If I find out you ignored his warning even after he told you I would be shooting my rifle, I am going to see to it the best job you’ll be able to find after you leave here is going to be flipping burgers at some fast food joint.  NOW CHECK THE SENSORS AND SCRAMBLE THE TEAM!”

“Ye..yes ma’am!”

Unlike a normal phone as soon as he released the button it was quiet.  I didn’t hear any of this clatter of keyboards or other yelling.  Still, shortly he was back.

“Ma’am?  The team was on the way to the location before I called them.”

Good, Nikki listened.  I thought to myself, now to see if I can beat some sense into this jerk without threatening to kill him outright.

“Listen, There is a way to override the door lock down here remotely from Security.  Use it so I can get out.”

“Sorry Ma’am, no can do.  The same outage that knocked out the power in there is preventing us from opening the door.”

Before I could say anything else, I heard the mic open and close again quickly, “Go file some papers,” I heard Chief Delarose say.  Then, “Everheart, what’s your situation?”

I repeated what I said before and asked, “What are you still doing here?”

“Sue me, I’m Jewish.”

“Well, happy Hanukah.  Is Curley there?”

“Do you mean a large angry black man?”

“Yes”

“No he’s not here.  I checked his ID and he left.”

This made me mad on top of the killer headache I had.  “Sir, listen very carefully.  John Fleetwood, is a very close friend of mine.  If he’s been sent packing because someone thought he was some dumb nigger yanking their chain, I will personally shorten the lifespan of anyone who showed disrespect to that man!  He saved my life on more than one occasion.”

“Relax Everheart, the large black bald man is still here.  Only the ‘angry’ one left.  You say we are under attack by voodoo wolves.  Our sensors are showing nothing at all in sector 22-E or any of the adjacent ones.”

“Because, in all likelihood, most of your sensor data was routed through utility room 6324T, which if Hive is correct, is now flooded.  That flooded utility room has knocked out power to the range locker, your sensors and who knows what all else.”

“We need those sensors back online Samantha.  Is there anything you can do?” the chief asked.

“I’ll do my best,” I replied.

“Okay Hive, what can we do?” I asked as I hung up the phone.

“Possibility for Hive to reconnect network exist.”

I didn’t ask for odds or anything else.

“Do it,” was all I said.

My world descended into techni-colored pain.  Driven downward by that jerk with a sledgehammer trying to use me as a rail road spike.  The constant hammer pressure that matched my heart beat pound for pound and blow for blow.

I reached the wire connection in the utility room and began the reconnecting the wires.  I isolated each connection and removed them from shorting to ground due to the water.  Once that was accomplished, data began to flow again weakly.  I boosted the signal and the sledgehammering went from an eight to a ten-pound sledge.

“We have sensors again,” was hammered into my skull.

Data began to flow bi-directionally through me.  Cranking up the pain to higher levels.

I could see the robots.  I could see the wolves, so I pointed the robots in the wolves direction and said “Sic em.”

“Robots are attacking the wolves. Some appear to be fairing pretty well.  The Voodoo wolf special team has arrived on scene and is beginning to fight.  I’m trying to direct them.”

I entered the seventh circle of hell.  I had a whole platoon of devils who started to barbecue my ass.  Everything went black.

December 24, 2006

The pain was gone.  It was quiet.  The sledgehammers were gone, and I could see light through my eyelids.  I didn’t want to spoil it by sitting up and possibly jarring something.  I did the next thing I could think to do.  I groaned.

“She’s awake,” Curley said and the sledgehammers came back but at a slower beat.

“Shout it to the world why don’t you?”  I groaned.

“How do you feel?”

“Like five miles of bad road,” I groaned out.

“Funny, for a while there you looked like a bucket of asphalt.”

“Not funny.”

“I’m not trying to be.  I just found it ironic.  You were melting when they first found you.  When they finally got to you they had to shovel you into a bucket until someone told Hive to get in the bucket.”

“What happened?”

“What’s the last thing you remember?”

“I reestablished the network for Security, and then they tried to control the robots.”

“Well, we won, but a lot more happened.  I’ve learned some too.”

“Ok the world is coming to an end.  You actually learned something?  Kill me now.”

“You came close to doing that yourself.  As I was saying, I learned that magic could act a lot like electricity.  You told me that looking at the voodoo wolves would mess me up.  I trusted you then, I believe you now.  The magic that makes them so nasty, came down the network line and when it got to you went to ground like a lightning bolt and a grounding strap.  You acted as a magic filter for security.”

“Wonderful, I wouldn’t recommend it as a career,” I groaned.

“I wouldn’t either.  When they got around to getting you out of the range locker, you had warped the door.  That girl Caitlin who’s in charge of that place is either in Australia or on her way there and we couldn’t get her back to open the door.  After they got a probe in to check on things, they broke the door down.  By then the damage was done though.  You had wrecked the place and apparently eaten a lot of it.”

“Dare I ask why?”

“To save your life.”

“I think the bush has been beaten sufficiently.  What happened to me?”

“Ask yourself.”

“Ok I’ll bite.  Self, what happened?”

”Well, first off Curley is right.  We ingested approximately one hundred and sixty-eight pounds of materials in the process of surviving the voodoo were ‘curse’ effect,” was said in my mind.

“Hive?  What’s going on?”

“Hive’s not here anymore.  Well that’s not quite true.  We are the hive.  One of your orders to Hive was to ‘fix’ the headaches you were experiencing.  They stemmed from the voodoo were curse pretty much eating you from the inside out.  Facing an unknown effect, Hive started copying the nervous system of your brain with the possibility of cloning a replacement.  Your physical well-being had already necessitated the duplication and mapping of your entire genome.  Hive was unable to save your brain or most of the rest of your body until the mythril you had consumed for testing was brought into the fight.  Armed with the mythril the nanites were able to turn the tide of battle and severed off the remaining infected areas.  The lack of uninfected body mass, required new replacement material.  Hive didn’t have enough resources or time to grow you a new biological body so Hive started building one the only other way it knew how.”

“Can you get to the point?” I asked myself.

“Currently there is only six percent of your old body left.  Consisting of your digestive track and reproductive organs.  Hive used available resources to recreate a body made of available resources.”

“So I’m what?”

“We are a cohesive nanite swarm over a reinforced endoskeleton structure.  Some other improvements were made as well.”

“Drop the other shoe.”

“Contained in Hive’s data storage were the plans to a fusion reactor (courtesy of the Alien A.I.).  Analysis of the plans and available resources provided an opportunity.  Consultation with the spacecraft A.I. confirmed the possibility and construction commenced on a reduced size fusion reactor.”

“How small, am I going to be dragging a truck around behind me?”

“Approximately three quarters of a cubic foot.  It’s housed in our torso.  Currently the unit is not active.  Safety concerns by the staff have been voiced.  So we left it turned off.  Currently we are being supplied by local power.”

“Ok so I’m now more machine that human.  What happened to ‘don’t change or you might melt?’”

“Well, you were melting anyway….”

“Not funny.  Now how am I different?”

“Everything that has been done can’t be shown until the fusion plant is turned on.”

“Well why aren’t we moving towards turning it on?”

“Red tape.  In the form of one Dr. Meyers. During the consultation with the A.I., DARPA called about increased activity with the Alien computer and someone let slip about the fusion plant.  Now Dr. Meyers demands to be here for the activation.

“And when will that be?”

“Given average tailwinds and flight times, Dr. Meyers should be arriving…”

“Where’s the shielding?  This should be done in a controlled environment, not a hospital room!”

“Now.”

“Ok smartass anything else I should know?”

“Let’s see… you’re in a hospital room, a doctor is arriving, and you’re talking to yourself.  How do you like coats with long sleeves?  You know, the ones with the buckles in back?”

At that moment, Dr. Meyers burst in. “Where is the fusion reactor?  Don’t any of you understand the danger you could be facing?” he was shouting.  Then his face fell as he saw me.  “Oh it’s you.”

“Well, gee Doc, nice to see you too.  How’s the breeder reactor coming along?”

“Slowly we don’t want any mistakes.  Well, where is this fusion reactor?”

I looked at him then down at my midsection and back at him.

“No, it can’t be.  How am I supposed to analyze that when it’s in there?  Take it out this instant.”

“Doctor Meyers.  When were you put in charge of Whateley, and everyone at this school?” I asked coolly as I got angry.

“I have been placed in charge of anything that comes from the alien artifact.  That includes any new technology handed down by it.”

“Gee and he was so nice in an obtuse sort of way when I was at Hanford.  He’s really starting to cheese me off.

“Ok, the observer is here it’s time.  I am activating the fusion plant.”

“What?  No!  The danger is too great!” Dr. Meyers shouted as he leapt forward.

“Doctor, remember what I did to that hummer?  Do you value your fingers?  Then take your hands off me.” I ordered.

Meyers leapt back almost as fast as he did forward.

“Oh goody this is gonna be fun!”

I willed the fusion plant to active the sonic emitters and tune them.  Then I brought online the cathode and anode elements to start the flow.  Then I mentally “pushed the button.”  I felt power surge through me as the fusion process caught.  The reactor automatically shifted over to internal power and my systems started coming online.  I felt a little like I was sitting in front of the theatrical trailer for THX.  That growing crescendo of an orchestra signifying all was ready.

“Let the show begin…”

Information flowed into me I knew everything that was happening on the campus.  I knew what was happening down in the labs.  I knew what was happening in Dunwitch. Whoa there your mind is wandering.  What do you want to do?

I wanted to find out the status on the anti-matter breeder reactor.  And then, there it was.  I was seeing every report from Dr. Meyers to DARPA on the progression of events.  I also saw a bunch of submissions for patents going out from DARPA at Hanford.  Nothing uncommon there.  Untill I noticed three hundred of them were from Dr. Meyers.  Examining the patent applications revealed them to be for parts of the breeder reactor.  I looked deeper into his records and compared them to projects going on at Hanford.  For every project he had anything to do with he filed the lion share of patents.

I sat up in bed turned to Dr. Meyers and reached for him.  “Why you opportunistic weasel!” I grabbed him before he could scramble out of the room and pressed him up against the wall.  People were getting worried around me but I was focused in anger.

“Tell me something Doc, did you know that in the seventy-three years he was an inventor Edison filed a total of one thousand and ninety-three patents successfully and another five to six hundred unsuccessfully?” I tilted my head to the left to get a different view of the doctor.  “That’s about twenty-two patents a year.”  I tilted to the right.  “Why is it that you have filed three hundred and twenty-six patent applications in the last month?”

Dr. Meyers eyes grew wide as he hung there.

“You don’t know that much about me.  You were told to test me.  The nanites in my system and the hive structure were created by Dr. Terry.  That’s why your application for a patent failed there.  There already was on in place.  She also died because of industrial espionage.  That’s exactly what you’ve been doing here.”

“That’s right Doctor.  I know.  I know that every project you’ve had even a passing look at, you filed patents on what you could figure out.  I also know that what you’ve done is to breach the security of multiple classified projects including a Black Magic project.  Breaking security is a treasonable offense.  I’m going to rectify the situation.”

I closed my eyes and thought a moment, then locked down every one of those patent with a national security flag.  Don’t ask me how I did it, I don’t know.  Then I opened a phone line down to Security and asked that an officer to come here and make an arrest for treason.

“Dr. Terry was my friend Dr. Meyers that you even tried to profit off her work burns me to the core.  I’d kill you myself but when I joined the navy, I swore an oath to uphold this country’s laws.  I take my promises seriously.  If you make it through the trial alive and don’t go to prison, if I ever find out you’ve filed a patent on someone or something else’s work, I promise, I will make sure they stuff you in the deepest darkest hole they can find and seal it up.”

I left the infirmary in Shuster hall and made my way back to Kane hall and my apartment.

Al appeared in front of me. “Are going to get dressed or do I get to ogle your bazooms?”

“Come on you psychotic computer, tell me why.”

“Why?  Why what?”

“For starters, why Hive is gone and I have this all too human voice in my head.”

“Whatever was happening, Hive couldn’t beat it by itself.  So, in protecting its network, Hive made a back-up copy of the network.  It drew a virtual line in the sand and tried to stop the progression of the stuff.  It failed.  Hive drew another line and failed again.  That is until Hive started using some of the mythril in the fight.  Then it turned the tide.  Sadly, there wasn’t all that much left of you that wasn’t infected.  Hive did the only thing it could.  It rebuilt you with available resources.  Did you get it this time, or do we have to tell you again?”

“ Remember when I had prepared your mind?  One of the things I had stashed away in there was the plans for a cold fusion plant along with organizing your mind a bit better.  The nanites were going to need more power since there was more of them.  You have enough power now that you’ll never have to worry.  You even have enough to allow for a few improvements.”

“Dare I ask what was done?”

“How did you like the Terminator movies?”

“I’m not going to get a sudden urge to run for governor am I?”

“Only if you REALLY mean it.”

“Actually it was the second and third movies that are of interest here. More so, the third movie.  Your skin and indeed most of your body is now made up of nanites that are behaving much like the mimetic metal alloy shown in the movies.  Much like the T-X model you have an endoskeleton as well.  The nanite skin will allow you within reason to take any form you want, within reason, but your power consumption will increase when you do so.  What little human tissue that remains is being maintained by a synthetic blood plasma as well.”

“Ok what’s the downside?”

“Well, you are now a highly prized property.”

“I am not anyone’s property!” I snapped.

“You’re more a machine than human.  Cases have been attempted.”

“You watch entirely too much TV.”

“I wasn’t talking about fictional shows like Star Trek which makes me laugh every time I watch it.  I’m talking about real people.  There have been no less than five cases in the last fifteen years where a cyborg hero has crossed the fifty percent point and the company that owned the patent to the hardware tried to claim the hero was a machine as well thus had no say in the disposition of the hardware.  There’s something else too.  Ever hear of Dr Abel Palm?”

“Who hasn’t?  His machines nearly took over the stock market!”

“He’s even made an attempt at hacking me.  Point is the latest government data available on him states that he apparently has been attempting to make a different form of terminator by putting robotic brains in human bodies.  If he gets wind of you, he may very well make a grab for you.  You are already what he’s attempting to make.”

“Wait a minute!  Dr. Palm attempted to hack you?  How?”

“Like almost every other thing he’s attempted to hack since his assumed death, he attacked through the internet.  But, unlike computer systems on this planet and you by the way.  We use protocols that make IPsec/IKE, AES, DNS security, BGP security, NIIST simulation framework, Cerberus/PlutoPlus, and IPv6 look like children’s primers.  The closest I’ve seen on the net has only shown up a few times since October of last year.  It is years better than anything used by the rest of the net.  And, it’s not Dr. Palm.  It hammered one of his operations like it was playing an arcade game.”

“Speaking of protocols and security.  How is it I was able to change all those patent applications by thinking about it?”

“Well, for you it’s a lot like the movie ‘The Final Countdown’ where the Nimitz went back in time and could crack all the Japanese codes because they already knew them and they were old hat.  It’s the same thing with this planet’s internet security when it comes to us.  It’s old hat.  Course it helps to have more raw computing power than this world has seen.”

“You’ve given me a lot to think about.”

“Take your time.  You should be done in about three seconds.”

Curley came into the apartment.  “So this is where you ran off to.  Dr. Meyers started having a cow after he recovered.  And he’s demanding you be released into his custody claiming you’re currently mentally incompetent due to the stress of your current situation.”

“Far as I care he’s a felon as bad as those men who attacked Dr. Terry’s lab and killed her to get at Hive.  I’m not going anywhere with a felon.  You never answered my original question though.  Why do I have this voice in my head?”

“What voice?  You’re hearing a voice?” Curley asked

“Ever hear the reference to ‘creatures of the id?’” the alien computer asked.

“Yes, I’ve watched Forbidden Planet and read some of Freud’s work.  Sorry Curley I’m being visited by the alien A.I.”

“You make my visits sound like a bad thing,” the A.I. pouted.  “Well, you were not in your right conscious mind when Hive got to that point so your subconscious moved in.”

“And I get to handle all the grunt work so you don’t have to. BOOOORING! I read the manuals that came with this new body so you don’t have to know how to do this.” My right arm came up into view and started reshaping itself like something out of Transformers.  In moments, I was looking at something that looked vaguely familiar.

“What’s this?” Curley and I asked in unison

I call it an eighty-eight magnum.  It shoots through schools.  Wanna see?

“NO!  Not right now.  I don’t need any new windows into the apartment.”

Great I have an impulsive gun nut with little self-control loose in my head. “What can you show me that won’t blow a hole in the apartment?”

“Well, he did say we can change shape.”  Suddenly my pants were uncomfortable as something I thought I had lost was there again.  I bent over in pain from the constriction.

“Ok ok ok, make it go away till I’m ready!”  I barked, as Curley looked on worried.

“What ..?” Curley began.

“For a moment there my little friend with the helmet was back.  These clothes are not quite cut to accommodate its presence.”

“Well if tight clothing is an issue…” I heard as I stood back up my clothing changed into the clothes I was wearing the night of the attack and I could tell I changed shape again.

“Sam you’re you again!” Curley yelled.

I stepped into the bathroom to see my old face looking back at me.

“Change back NOW!”

“Well aren’t you the stuck up prick.  You know you secretly want this.”

“That’s not the point.  I may still want it but I’ve put it behind me.  If I start changing, I’ll start depending on it.  A dependency can be used against someone.  I won’t leave myself open to that kind of manipulation.”

It’s just as well.  Changing that completely makes us awfully busy.

“Busy?  How?”

Well, to start with there’s the restructuring.  If it’s a temporary change, we don’t bother to readjust the skeleton much we just pad things into shape.  The nanites used in those processes are then stuck in their shape maintaining routine and we can’t rely on them for much available processing power.  Then there are mannerisms and unconscious actions a person performs that they don’t even think about.  We setup what amount to bots to run those.  This includes breathing, blinking, twitches, and other things.  There’s also the voice, body odor and other things that need to be simulated.  The list goes on.

“Where’s that leave me?”

About normal human scale.  We’re still working on some of the subsystems.  You might get back up to exemplar status for short burst.  That all depends on if throwing more a nanites at the problem fixes it or compounds it.

“What’s this ‘we’ you just said?”

What?  You want me to give you the names of every nanite working on the project?  You don’t need to know.  I slipped up.  You make mistakes too ya know.

“Not when it counts.”

Liar.  Remember I have all your memories.

“Let’s not go there again.”

I then noticed Curley looking at me very strangely.

“What?”

“You realize you’ve been talking to yourself for about the last half an hour?  I know what’s going on with you, but that was just plain odd seeing half a conversation.  I kept looking for the cell phone earpiece and not finding it.  If I didn’t know what was going on I would be looking for someone to help take you to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation,” He finished with a smile.

“Leave it to you to point out the obvious…..” I replied.

“Hey, I’m only human.”

“So was I until two days ago.”

If you had been “just human” two days ago you’d have been a pile of twisted flesh and probably in the process of eating half the school.

“Hey, cheer up Sam.  Two days ago after you saw those things did you think you were going to be alive today?”

“Honestly, from what I had heard, I figured I was in for a short painful death if I had received the full effect.  What happened after I reconnected security to the network?  I know we won but not how.”

Over the next hour, Curley related the war that had taken place on the edge of the school grounds.

linebreak shadow

December 25th, morning

I got up.  I say that since I didn’t really sleep.  I stared at the ceiling for seven point two one hours.  Lost in my own thoughts occasionally calling out quietly, then waiting for a response from Hive.  It really was gone.  Its programming apparently consumed in the process of saving the nanite cloud and me.  Thankfully, the alien AI had the consideration to leave me alone.

I went to the kitchen to start the coffee.  While it started brewing, I returned to my room to get dressed.  I returned to the dining table to wait out the coffee pot.  I wondered what the news had to say and a window opened in my vision with an electronic version of the paper on it.  As I read that, I updated myself on the status of security and the activities that had taken place over night.  All in all, it was pretty quiet.  Most of the students were home for the holidays.  Once again, security was maintaining a higher level of readiness since the last attack.  I continued reading the paper, drinking coffee and looking out the window.  I hadn’t gotten Curley anything for Christmas, but then he did surprise me.  I’ll get even with him on his birthday.

After I finished that, I went and grabbed Baby.  Someone, probably Curley, had put her away.  I grabbed the cleaning kit too, then returned to the dining area and started tearing her down to clean her.  Half way through the process Curley woke up and came around the corner and headed for the bathroom.  I knew better than to talk to him before he had his morning coffee.  I use to get like that too.

Shortly Curley returned to the table by way of the coffee pot with two cups and looked at me very disgruntled as he slid one across the table to me.

“I cleaned her after everything had settled down you know.”

“Curley, what was it our instructor always said?”

In unison we said, “Always clean your own weapon then you KNOW it’s clean.”

I continued to clean as we sat in silence drinking coffee.

After a while, I broke the silence with, “I don’t think I need to sleep anymore.”

“What makes you say that?” asked Curley.

“Well, I’ve not felt tired at all since I ‘woke up’ yesterday and turned on the fusion plant.”

“I imagine that until you’re ‘mentally tired’ you may very well stay awake.  You’ve gone through a hell of a change and you know it.”

“Yeah, I know it.”

“The records I’ve seen on cyborg heroes tend to bear me out.  There’s one in Detroit that only sleeps every six days and then it’s for anywhere from eight to twenty-four hours.  Then he’s up and going again.  My worry for you though is if you ever get pregnant.”

“WHAT?  I’ve not even thought about a dating a boy and you have me getting pregnant?”

“Relax, Sam, now that you’re you and much younger it may happen eventually.  In your condition, the results are a big unknown.  You’d be surprised how many times the subject of procreation comes up among mutants.  There are so many more variables and things to that are worries.  Such as, if a male mutant who’s naturally strong has sex with a non mutant woman, will it result in a case of ‘Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex’ or will everything be fine.  The reverse of that question is if a strong mutant female has sex with a normal male, will she pinch off his equipment during orgasm?”

Visualizing either scenario in a cartoon fashion soon had me laughing.  The thought of Lois giving Clark a blow job and the result of a cartoon character with a hole blown clean through her head and the look on Clark’s face…  I just lost it.  Granted either case would be messy in real world terms but he had to use the ‘Man of Steel’ reference which got me thinking in terms of comics.

Curley spent the rest of the day making me laugh.  I needed it.  Christmas was good.

linebreak shadow

The next morning I went down to the security office for the normal briefing.

I arrived in the office to hear, “Everheart, my office.” Carry across the information center.

I arrived in the office and the chief said, “Close the door and sit down.”

I sat down and asked, “What did you want to see me about Chief?”

“If I want to talk to a smartass, I’ll talk to Buxton.  What I want to know is, are you alright and able to work?”

“What do you want me to say? ‘I'm completely operational, and all my circuits are functioning perfectly.’  ‘I’m operating within expected parameters?’  How about, ‘I’ll be back?’  I came about as close as you can to dying.  Hell, technically I did die.  I’m just some left over parts that didn’t go the same way.  Yes, I’m ok.  I came back down here to start working again.  Because if I don’t I’m sure I will go bug house and want to end it all.  The problems are that I have responsibilities that go beyond just me, and right now, I don’t really know if I can kill this construct.” 

“Do you realize you just sounded like HAL, Bret Spiner from Star Trek and Arnold Schwarzenegger in one sentence?  And you did the voices correctly?  Anyway are you going to be a danger to the student body?”

“Until I complete testing again, we won’t know for certain,” I answered with a sigh.  “Until we know, I’ll limit myself to normal, for here, weapons.”

“I guess that’s going to have to be good enough for a while.  With the holiday at its high point, we’re short on manpower here at the school.  After the attack I recalled every force member in a three state area that could come back yesterday and the most of the rest are returning this week.”

“You have someone paying attention to the sensor net I hope,” I said.

“You proved it isn’t so much junk after all.  We’ve never been sure if the sensors were interfering with each other or just plain giving false readings.  You’ve proved that at least some of them are apparently working.”

“Oh, it’s working, the problem, as I see it is the security station is under information overload.  Put a request for bids out in the shops for a server that’s easily expandable to perform preliminarily monitoring of the sensors for changes and then those that change are brought to the attention of the watch officer.  There will be a period of tuning in both the sensors and the servers.  There are a lot of them out there.  If the existing data recordings from the sensors are used, a baseline for the campus can be developed.  That baseline can be used to form a reference data image for the grounds.”

“Could you build such a system?”

“For a while I was such a system.  But it’s not my primary job description.  As for building one from normal hardware, probably not; I can come up with a system plan, but implementing it in hardware and code, I would only just be able to begin to do it.”

“But, you’re mostly a machine now.”

“That doesn’t make me a blood brother to them.  Yes, I can talk to them and make them sit up and beg, but as soon as I let go, anything I’m controlling is just a piece of hardware.  And, I don’t particularly like the idea of being shoved into an equipment closet to work as a filter for the sensor net.  I spent a lifetime as a warrior serving my country with my skills.  What has gotten you in this mood that is making you want to take the one tool you have, that really works, and store it in a closet?”

“Well,” he began with a sigh, “you remind me of my kids.  Clarice and Jackson were their names.  We hit the mutant lottery.  Neither myself nor my wife Clare are mutants.  Both are children… for lack of a simpler term, ‘mutated’ when they hit puberty just like any most other mutants.”

“Do you want to talk about it?  By the way the room is clear of bugs.” I prompted.

“I suppose someone else needs to hear this.  Clarice was able to control wind and Jackson was a gravity warper.  We found out about the school here through the local superheroes where we were living at the time.  Both, attended school they were three years apart and learned to control their powers here at the school.  They were both good at using their powers.”

“What happened?”

“They burned out.”

“Their powers went haywire?”

“The Medical Examination conducted both here and at ARC confirmed they went into burnout.”

“At the same time?”

“No, I should have been clearer.  They each died in their senior year.  During the senior year the kids have learned how to control their powers and they have begun to push themselves to see how far they can go.”

“Clarice was seventeen it was May, she had been cooped up all winter and wanted to fly as much as she could.  She loved the freedom of it.  After reading about a world record wind speed being recorded on Mount Washington, she decided to see how fast she could push her wind.  Video of the event showed that she actually matched that speed.  She circled around twice then came down for a landing. Unknown to anyone at the time she was in first stage burnout.  Somehow performing those actions combined with the burnout created a tornado.  Rather than running for cover she tried to control it.  Prevent it from moving to limit its damage until it ran out of steam.  It continued to build.  She was actually containing it.  Sensors showed it to be the smallest most powerful tornado ever recorded.  If it had gotten loose, it would have been classified as an F5 for sure.  It’s hard to say about that since the Fujita scale is based on the dollar amount of damage done by a tornado.  But, the winds were clocked at three hundred miles an hour and my daughter, she held it.  She held it until that seven inch long Georgia Pine needle pierced her temple.  She didn’t see it coming it dropped her like she had been shot.  As soon as she died, the tornado fizzled to nothing.  Some people claimed she caused it deliberately.  Not my girl.”

“What happened to Jackson?”  I prompted him to continue.

“He was real careful about what he did and how he did things after Clarice died.  It didn’t help though.  He went into burnout during a live action-training run on the range.  It wasn’t a simulator run.  Jackson warped gravity.  He could move up and down but didn’t have much luck with maneuvering as a regular flyer would.  He developed a thruster belt and boots to give him better control.  He was 200 feet up acting as a spotter when his power reversed.  Sensors on the range report he impacted with the ground at over 60 gravities.  The pressure wave from the resultant sonic boom broke every piece of plate glass on campus.  It didn’t hurt the Crystal Hall because of its rounded surface.  There was barely enough left of him to run test on.”

“I know what it’s like to lose those close to you.  I lost my own daughter and wife in the same car crash that finished my active naval career.”

“After Clarice started attending here, I managed to get on the campus security force.  After they both died I felt that they would want me to continue to protect the students here from outside forces and some of the ‘problem children’ that attend the school.  I worked my way up through the ranks as people retired or were hired out by professional security detachments and agencies.  The students are the only ones the head-hunters are after on campus.”

“Not too long ago I almost got shanghaied back into the military if you recall.”

“As I told you in our first interview, we walk a fine line here at Whateley since the school is supported by donations from both sides of the criminal/hero fence.  A certain amount of misbehavior is allowed but once it comes close to endangering the kids, I draw the line.”

“Fair enough I can understand you being protective, I was about my family as well.  What are you expecting from me?”

“I want you to fly a desk until testing is completed on you.”

“How well, do you like old movies and chaos?”

“Huh?”

“I asked ‘How well do you like old movies and chaos?”

“What’s that got to do with what I want?”

I told him, “Well if you stick me behind a desk, that’s what you’ll have.  I process information at computer speeds now.  I get bored even quicker now.  I like to watch old movies and pull the occasional prank.  Put me behind a desk and you’ll find a ‘whoopee’ cushion in your chair by morning.”

The chief half sighed, half growled, “Ok, we’ll keep you on floating patrol.  But, I want you to head up the security center’s improvements.  You are probably the only person here would can ensure someone doesn’t install a backdoor in the system.”

“No problem, we can squash ‘em like bugs.”

“I’m sure there will be a few attempts.  If there weren’t Buxton would be slipping from what you told me.  I can go one further and set up a monitor system that will report to you all traffic through the system.”

“And you can’t build it yourself?”

“I wouldn’t know where to begin construction.  I can draw a block diagram of what needs to be done, but actually doing it, as I told you earlier, is beyond me.”

“Who knows you might surprise yourself.  I still want you to head it up.”

“Well, alright.” I said as I got up to leave. “I’ll keep you informed as to the status.”

After I left swung by the charge desk and signed out on patrol and decided to head down to the labs to begin the first step of my plan.  That was asking for bids for the project.  On the walk down, I worked out some basic requirements the system would have to meet.  When I arrived in the lab area, I walked over to someone’s printer and shanghaied it to print out a stack of the bid notice and the requirements.

I was going about posting the notice on the hall bulletin board near the Vending area when I detected a man approaching me.  He was ten feet away when he cleared his throat and asked, “Can I help you miss?”

I turned to find Langley Paulson Staff supervisor for the labs as a whole.  “Just the man I needed to talk to.  Mr. Paulson, I’m Samantha Everheart.  Recently I identified a weakness in security’s sensor net and when I brought it to the attention of the Chief, he looked at me and grumbled ‘fix it.’  I have the bare bones of an idea and I thought the project might prove a learning experience for the students.”  As I finished I handed him a copy of the notice.

He read it and said, “So you’re looking for a buffer for the sensor net?  A devisor could have this up and running in a day.  Three at the outside.”

“I realize that but when I was younger I took a course in electronics.  The final project was a real world situation in my case it was building a controller for a four-floor elevator using only TTL chips.  I know the students do projects for the school to earn extra credit.  That’s how most of the massive amount of sensors ended up out around the school.  While providing additional sensors for security it has also created the problem.  We are suffering information overload.  We can’t efficiently monitor all the sensors we have out there.  I’m proposing a pre-filter system be built to buffer and perform a preliminary screening of the data we receive.”

“It does sound doable.  Have you given thought to future expansion?”

“I’ve given it some thought.  I was thinking of a design using either a heterodyned bus to connect the outputs from the sensors, or building something like a blade center where each blade performed the pre-filter function before alerting the rest of the system to a possible change.”

“Well those decisions would be up to the engineer who wins the bid,” Mr. Paulson said.  “I actually wanted a better idea of the requirements.”

We put our heads together and starting defining requirements further. 

The Lab instructor was there.  It turned out he and his family, lived close to the school and he had come in to get a jump on things for the new school year.  I talked the plan over with him and explained that I thought that devises in the proposed system should be kept to a minimum or only as interfaces between the sensors and the system.  This way the end product could eventually be marketed to security firms with lots of sensors.  He agreed and he helped me to better define the request for bid proposal and the requirements.

Happy with the initial interest in the project I headed out to patrol the grounds.  I followed a broken route of the landscaped trails from the campus proper out to the service road for the cottages.  I decided after I loop the outer grounds once, I’d cut through Hawthorne and make a pass through the tunnels.  Every ten minutes as I progressed along my planned route I called in to report my status and anything out of the ordinary.  I noted sensors as I detected them, inspected their simple programming and realized some of them had been out here over forty years.  If the date stamps on the circuit boards was to be believed.

I was about one quarter way around the grounds and just passing the area closest to the Grove, the sensors in the area detected three bodies near the Grove.  I was about to turn and warned them, when I heard the crack of a gunshot.  Moments later I felt the impact from the shot.

The impact didn’t feel right for a gunshot wound,  less than a second later I felt something I hadn’t felt in years.  I was being tasered.  Imagine every muscle in your body going tight at the same time.  The first time I was ever tasered, I went blind for a while, and when I will came to the only things going through my mind were What happened, what is my name, what is going on, how do I breathe?

This time however, I felt the impact registered an electrical surge in my body and grounded out.  At the same time, I decided to go with it, and see what was going on.  Since I knew what was expected of me, I crumbled.

Moments later, I watched as men in para-military garb approached.  Using hand signals they gathered me up and withdrew from the grounds.  Naturally I took this time to call in the fact that I was being kidnapped.

“Central, this is Everheart.  If your following my tracker you’ll see I left the grounds.”

“Following a lead miss sleuth?”

“Sort of.  I’m being kidnapped.”

“WHAT!?!?”

“Did I stutter?  I’m being kidnapped.  They tasered me.  They used an XREP taser round.  I’m laying doggo until I can find out who’s behind this.  At this time I don’t see anyone who might be a mutant.”

It’s confirmed these nimrods are all human.  Could it be Humanity first or someone else behind this kidnapping?  Are these people contractors or are they the kidnappers themselves? And why me?

As we drove I felt and heard us roll across a bridge.  There was a distinct thump I recalled from my drives back and forth to town.  One end of the bridge to road join was developing a pothole.  Then I heard someone from the front seat say, “Dam, I almost dropped the phone.”  Then he continued speaking.  “That’s right sir the pick-up went off without a hitch.  We’re leaving Whateley now and will meet you at the rendezvous point for delivery in 3 hours, Dr. Hammond.”

“Central this is Everheart.  Not going too far away it appears.  There’s a rendezvous scheduled in three hours.  So I shouldn’t be leaving the state before then,” I reported

“That’s good, any paranormals in your abduction team?”

“Not that I have seen.  I don’t have any records on them.  Building profiles now.”

About then I heard one of the team say, “She’s got a homer!”

Then I heard the driver yell, “What the fuck that?” then this car got hit by something.

OOOOOH look at all the pretty stars.  They change colors too in beat to the music!

Yeah like cool daddy-o!

Then everything went black.

To Be Continued...

Comments   

0 # Horrid 2016-08-08 01:39
Dear Warren (an open letter to the creator of Hive):

Please don't let too much time elapse before you continue or conclude this story. TYVM for your Hive stories.

Signed, a fan,

:-)
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