Back to the Grind

Steve is waiting for them outside the Milwaukee Hilton when they arrive. He looks rested and clean. He's carrying some bags and wearing new sunglasses.

"God, who puked?" he asks as he steps inside the Python. "Nevermind, I don't care. God, I miss my spaceship." He takes a look at Thunderhorse's new threads. "I see you got him to wear pants, finally."

"So what's in the bag, Steve?" Doc asks.

"Aha. Eager, are we?" Steve smiles. "Here," he hands Doc a glasses case. "Don't lose these, they cost a bloody fortune." He hands a pair out to everyone.

Inside the case is a pair of sunglasses. They're lightweight and stylish. Doc tries them on. They fit nicely. Once they're resting comfortably, a bright light flashes briefly across his retinas. An HUD lights up inside them. A little splash screen welcomes Doc to the Time Operative ComNet.

Doc's own face suddenly appears in the glasses, lightly superimposed over his own field of view. "They're brainwave reactive. Just think about what you need them to do and they'll do it." Steve's words echo in his head, and Doc realizes Steve had just called him over the glasses, and he's seeing what Dr. Ritenrong is seeing.

"They also have binocular, nightvision, and infrared modes, and are auto-tinting. They have all the functions of your I-Browse. The communication system is encrypted, and that encryption is modulated, so it's extremely difficult to listen in on our conversations. Although, they still work on electromagnetic relay so if you use it, you'll still light up a detector like fireworks. It's also jamming resistant, but not totally jam-proof. As you may have noticed, the retinal scanner as well as the brainwave pattern monitor ensures that no one can use them but you.

"One last detail. They can be loaded with special software to assist in certain tasks. I couldn't afford much of the military grade stuff and I didn't have time to code anything myself, but I've got some basics together. Everybody has translation modules for all languages know to Earth at this time. We can load more later. Thunderhorse, your glasses have been loaded with a text-to-speech program, so you can learn to read. They also have a tactical soft-spot analisys. Hit something exactly where it tells you and you'll probably kill it."

"Doc, yours have a threat alert, which should improve your reaction time and a targeting system which should help your aim. Mark, yours is loaded with a brainwave response feedback system, which should help keep you focused and concentrated."

"What the hell does that mean?" Mark asks.

"It means that it keep you from getting distracted. Alright, one more thing." Dr. Ritenrong reaches into another bag. He pulls out three black jumpsuits and hands them out. "These are even more expensive, so don't lose them either."

"What are they?"

"Body armor. Spider silk, carbon fiber weave, electroeramic reactive plating, and a magnetic field generator powered by your own bioenergy. The magnetic field has two modes- low and high power. Low power will remain on and protect you from limited exposure to charged particles. High power will keep you safe from a much larger exposure for a brief period. The high power burst will drain the microcapaciters, and the neither low power field nor the high power burst will work until they're recharged. Be very careful about using the magnetic fields. Absolutely do not use it in the presense of unsecured, lightweight ferromagnetic metals. For instance, do not activate the high power field while in a knife store. Also, be careful with it around people with pacemakers and unshielded electronics. Also, using the magnetic field at all will light you up like a spotlight on any respectable scanner.

"You should wear it underneath your clothes, and remove any other armors you have, since they'll only block the effectiveness of the reaction plating. Oh, yes, reaction plating. Doc, your military armor had something similar, although far less advanced. This does not require an induction sensor to activate, thus it will work against non-metalic objects including rocks, glass, and ceramic knives. When hit, as you know, the armor will suddenly stiffen as the electroceramic gel hardens up and absorbs the impact. This should protect you from penetration by bullets, but can still cause bruising. The nature of the electroceramics will also help protect you from pain guns and the like."

"I do not understand anything you said," Thunderhorse declares, almost proudly.

"It's new armor and it's better than that damned horse barding you got on," Mark tells him. "Other than that I don't know what the hell he said, either." He looks the jumpsuit over. "Looks like long underwear to me. How the hell do you take a shit with this thing on? It ain't got no fanny-flap!"

"You've got to pull and hold open these two flaps. It's like a dick hole but bigger."

"Well, thanks, Steve," Doc says. "You really care about us staying alive. I appreciate it. So what's the next step?"

"Well, I'm not sure. Sergi attempted defection somewhere towards the very end of the war in the west. The records I've found about him are spotty at best, but I think he was in Prauge when he was captured. I don't have an exact date, but it looks to be about May 1945. Now, we can either go back then now and hope that the Pear is still in the Solar System at the time, or go to Alpha Centuari and get the Pear when we know where it is. There's a luxury cruiser leaving from Saturn today to head over there, and they should be arriving somewhere near when we want to be there, but we can just use the Q-TIP to adjust our timing if it's not exact. What do you think?"


Doc said...


"I think we had better try and meet up with Veronica and the Brother Pear. I'm going to need a little time to get these guys to understand the new equipment and to do some research, not to mention I left the rest of my snuff onboard. I hope it stayed fresh in the freezer all this time. I hate dried out chew. Besides, Thunderhorse can't quit complaining about the axe I bought him."

Meet the Brother Pear as best we can and ditch this ship. We may as well be riding around in a cop car with the siren going all the time. Send the boys off to learn how the new shades and armor work on the holodeck while Steve and I do some research on how to better find Sergi. Maps, hotels, money, clothes, etc. Also, sell some of our surplus stuff on e-bay if we can. Have Steve peddle some of the crap in the hold if we can. (Did we ever get a list of what we have down there?) We need to generate some cash, as saving the universe projects tend to bleed money, as I'm having trouble keeping up with their bar bill. Maybe Veronica could come up with some winning lotto numbers for us, as she is good with numbers.

Meta: Thank you for the new stuff! It's like we found +4 everything! I have really tried to avoid combat up to this point as I'm pretty low level and BSing is my strong suit, not combat. I'd hate to kill myself off in a stupid bar fight without ever really scratching the surface of this wonderful story! Rock on Brother Err!

On the flight there, maybe I could pen a short dream sequence for Doc just to add a little flavor. Just a thought.


ERR said...

Pen away, please.