Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Cutting Edge

There's a saying; The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley. It's a Scottish saying. It means your plan isn't going to work.

We had left our electrical weapon charging overnight. It may have just been my imagination, but I felt a distinct humming emanating from our superweapon.
I woke up with a cool idea for a growth agent in my head. It would affect a large class of plants, causing them to divert more of their energy into edible fruits. I tried to push it out. I wrote the first chapter of my fantasy novel. It didn't come our nearly as well as I was expecting. Slightly disappointed, I reverted to reading about the growth of plants. I jotted down some potential side-effects of my ideas. It would likely function as a carcinogen, not for the human consumer, but for the plant. For some breeds, the increased mortality might be enough to make the larger fruit bodies irrelevant.
I was about to start listing possible regulators that could stop the propagation of tumors and cancel the carcinogenic affects of my enhancer, but I caught myself. I sighed, and returned to writing my not-so-good fantasy novel.
I noticed Sam watching me. "What are you doing," he asked.
"Trying to figure out a way for this band of elves to get killed by a single orc, if orcs are weaker than elves."
"I'm writing a fantasy story to distract myself from science."
"Can I read it?"
Could he? He would probably mock my writing. But I am a big girl. I can take criticism. "Sure."
Sam stood up. He groaned a bit. "Chest still hurts from yesterday. Really shouldn't have volunteered as a target for those tasers."
"I told you that it would be like getting shot, and you said that you thought a wooden board would block it."
"I'm not the one who can calculate trajectories in his mind. It's your job to tell me whether I'm doing something stupid or not."
"Going forward, unless the idea came from someone else, you're probably doing something stupid."
"Gee thanks," Sam said.
He read my crappy fantasy while I examined our machine. It needed a name. "Lightning in a bottle," I announced.
"Huh," Gabe said.
"This device is now known as lightning in a bottle."
Gabe considered it. "Not half bad."
"Not entirely accurate," Daniel said. "This weapon is significantly less powerful than a bolt of lightning. But amusing none the less."
Sam nodded in approval. Even Joanne cracked a smile.
I looked over our machine. Our lightning in a bottle. How could it possibly fail? Could Spectrum disable it before it fired? Unlikely, it could recognize a target in a hundredth of a second and fire off electrical cables at eighty meters per second. What if Spectrum cut the power to the whole motel? No, it would take over an hour for the device to run out of juice.
Sam turned to me. "This is pretty good," he said. "I like it."
"Lemme see," Gabe said, grabbing the laptop. I watched my brother chuckle over some of my jokes. "I don't know," he said. "I can't tell whether you're a parody of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. Is it supposed to be both."
"It's... not supposed to be a parody."
Gabe apologized for his mistake, and told me that I was an excellent writer. Just kidding, he made fun of me for a half an hour straight.

Our computers began to beep, warning us that Spectrum's black armor was approaching. I saw the video. I bit my lip. How quickly would he find us. Answer: very quickly. We were the first door he knocked down.
For an instant, the black figure stood above the splinters that used to be out doorway. Then, two electrical lead hit him in the chest, knocking him back, and shocking him with a blinding display of electrical power. When I regained the gift of sight, I walked over to the black figure on the ground. The smell of burnt rubber filled the room. I looked at what, thirty seconds earlier, had been one of the most advanced fighting machines on the planet.
"Allegra," Gabe said. "I don't think that was Spectrum." He showed me his screen. In his video feed was a man with a scarred and burned face, made famous in the wake of several high-profile attacks. I pried open the armor. It was empty. We had been tricked.

"What can we do," Joanne said, almost at a panic. "That was our only weapon, right? What else do we have?"
"It wouldn't need to be that strong," Daniel pointed out. Since he appears to be wearing normal clothes.
"If he's unarmed, then we're fine," Sam said.
"Which means we can assume he's not unarmed," Gabe pointed out.
"Lasers pistols," I pointed.
"Three hundred megawatts. Amazing how much power he packs into a weapon he had carry in his hand."
"So what do we have that can stand up to that," Joanne asked.
I looked at the ruined armor. "How about two-inch-thick metal plates?"
So, as quickly as possible, Sam donned the burnt-out armor, in order to fight the very person who had made it. It was heavy, Sam had difficulty even walking. But he ran into Spectrum right near a stairwell.

I couldn't hear them fight, but I was able to watch through our copious network of video cameras. Sam lunged at Spectrum. The MAD tried to dodge out off the way, but was still slammed by an arm encased in forty pounds of metal. Sam crashed into a wall.
Spectrum turned around, and fired at him with lasers. The metal began to heat us, as Sam lumbered towards his opponent. At the last moment, Spectrum turned and tried to run, banking on his superior speed. Turns out his speed wasn't superior enough, and Sam landed a solid punch, knocking Spectrum off balance. The scientists aimed another laser blast at his enemy, seemingly uncaring of the very slow bludgeoning his opponent could provide. Soon, Sam's right arm was red hot. The bounty hunter seemed to be struggling just to stay vertical. So he lunged forward, and fell upon his enemy. Spectrum was bleeding a little bit, but both of his guns were intact. So he slowly and methodically began to slice through the armor.
It was like the car debacle all over again. He would eventually emerge, severely injured, from a heap of Sam's dismembered and cooked limbs, and make his way to me, to Gabe, to Joanne and to Daniel. I couldn't see his face, but I knew that having several hundred points of metal on top of you is rarely a pleasing experience. So I acted quickly. I turned to the device I had christened Lightning in a Bottle, and began to dismember it. Within about a minute, I had what I wanted: a very bad gun, with two bullets.
I moved as quietly as I could. Spectrum couldn't see my, thanks to the armor lying on his face, but if he heard me, he might be able to straight through my cloths, and also through must of my flesh.
I placed my weapon against Spectrum's skull, poised to turn his inhuman brain into a very disgusting soup. "Put down you weapons," I said. "Or I'll fire mine."
There was a brief pause, and Spectrum opened his hands, allowing his two weapons to fall to the floor. Without moving my gun, I slided Spectrum's weapons away. I stood up, panting, my flesh red from contact with the superheated suit of armor. I could hear police sirens in the not-so-distant distance.

An hour and twenty-two minutes later, all five MADs were handcuffed in the back of a police car. Sam was in an ambulance. "So Jackson- Can I call you Jackson?" Gabe was full of snarky questions. "I need to know. Do you think of yourself as a less cool version of Oberon? Or do you think you're as good as him."
Jackson groaned. Looking at him, looking past his burned and scarred face, I realized he was a lot younger than I expected. Still in his twenties, I imagined. And he had been MAD for over a decade.
"Like, you seem to be copying his whole get-super-armor think. Although it isn't working nearly as well for you."
Jackson sighed. He could tell that it would take a lot to make my brother shut up. My might even have to answer Gabe's question. "Oberon was like... almost a father to me. I was sixteen when I met him, when I was sent to work in his lab. He was amazing. Brilliant beyond anything I could ever aspire to. There seemed to be no question he couldn't answer. But he took the time to help me improve, to help me unlock the full extent off my potential."
"Then came Topeka. All us MADs needed to take tests, talk to self-proclaimed specialists. And people started to say that Oberon was dangerous. That he needed to be locked up, and that his projects needed to be shut down. So he left, taking most of his creations with him."
"Suddenly, I was the target of everyone's suspicion. Why hadn't I known that my mentor was so dangerous? And I realized how incapable everyone was. They needed us MADs, they needed our science. But, at the same time, they were afraid of us. So I left too."
"I've run across Oberon a few times since then. I wanted to work with him again, but he says I'm my own man now. That it's time to find students of my own. You can see how well that went."
"Well," Gabe said, "the whole aiming lasers at our heads thing wasn't exactly the best way to make introductions."
"If I had walked up to you, peacefully, and asked you to come with me, would you have said yes?"
"So I aimed lasers at your heads."

I'm in a prison cell now. Awaiting transfer back to Poughkeepsie. It feels so hopeless. Before all this, I would wake up every day, committed to improving, so that I could earn my release and rejoin my family. But now, I know that will never happen. The government isn't letting me out of their sight for as long as I live. A life sentence.            

No comments:

Post a Comment