Sunday, July 17, 2011

Redefining Superman Part Sixteen

Redefining Superman

Chapter 16

"Watch your step down here," Meredith called back over her shoulder at Robertson. They were down below the city streets, each carrying one of the Zeus Particle Cannons, though Robertson still had no idea what the weapon he cradled in his arms was capable of.
"Looks like something exploded up ahead," she called back once again, walking up on an area where a lot of debris was scattered about. They'd long ago passed the area of the first explosion that had flared up through the opening beneath the mailbox, making it difficult for them to ascend the staircase that was no longer there, but with the aid of the Sparta suits each of them had dropped gracefully past the debris and into the dark pit by way of the suits’ special anti-gravitational functions. They noticed this new area of debris was of a different origin than the previous one.
Robertson walked up to where his partner stood. They both surveyed the damage, using the night vision goggles that were part of the design for the Sparta Suits they wore. It had taken a bit for Robertson to get used to the idea of the suits. They felt strange - not uncomfortable, just strange - like perhaps they were somehow living entities. Robertson tugged at the sleeve that ended just at his wrist. Why did it constantly feel as though the material was crawling across him? Meredith glanced aside at her partner and smiled slightly.
"You stop fidgeting with it that suit will form to your body and be like a second skin," she said. "It adjusts to the size, shape and weight of the wearer, though it has to be fitted proportionately to start with."
"That's why you gave, ah, Doctor Mathis our basic measurements over the phone?"
"Right. If we'd gotten suits that were too off from our proportions we'd either be clawing at them just to breathe or they'd be too loose. We need them snug for them to be effective and work they way they're intended."
"And what exactly is the intent of these suits?" Robertson asked as they continued on, picking their way carefully through the rubble.
"To keep us alive." Meredith stepped up onto a large chunk of concrete and paused momentarily before leaping over to the other side. Robertson followed.
"How do they do that?" he asked, his tone displaying his skepticism.
"First, they are nearly impervious. Nearly. not quite. They'll deflect sharp objects like knives and even small caliber rounds of ammo, but you get hit with something big and all they'll do is slow the round so it pierces your body more slowly, maybe not go so deep.
"But generally speaking, the Sparta Suit is designed to monitor the body of the wearer - your heartbeat, breathing, respiration, just like in a hospital during surgery, only more stylish and mobile."
"What good does it do knowing how fast my heart's beating?"
"In case something gets added to, say the air - we breathe it in and it makes our heart rate increase. Maybe its intention is to cause our hearts to eventually explode from over-exertion. Nice to know so we can have the suit override whatever it is - give us a shot of something to counteract any drug."
"This suit has needles in it?" Robertson stopped and held his arm up so he could examine it more closely.
"No," Meredith laughed, turning back toward him. "It contains a drug the developers at S.P.A.R.T.A. Labs named Coverall, so-named because no matter what drug is induced into someone's body, the Coverall will analyze it and act to counter its effects. It spreads throughout the wearer's body evenly by being secreted in tiny amounts from the lining of the suit. The skin absorbs it directly all over and it goes to the place where the drug it needs to counter is already starting to work. The fact that it gets introduced into the entire body at once allows the Coverall to be where it's needed faster."
Robertson lowered his arm, but looked at his entire suit, as much as he could see at least. "That's some weird stuff."
"Yeah, but if you need it, you'll be glad it's there."
"You ever need a dose of Coverall?" Robertson asked as they once more began moving forward.
"Once," she nodded. Robertson was behind her and saw the back of her head move up-and-down. "Some drug in liquid form was thrown in my face. I breathed it in, swallowed some, and my skin absorbed it through my pores. It was a triple whammy, but the Coverall went to work immediately and here I am as a living testimony."
"Mind if I ask what you were doing that you were wearing one of these suits?" he asked.
"Oh, sure - ask away," she fell silent after that comment and Robertson waited for more, but nothing was said. He chuckled.
"But you aren't going to tell me, right?"
"I said you could ask; I didn't say I'd tell you," she smiled, though he couldn't see it, since he was behind her.
"Confidential assignment?" he asked.
"Top-secret, hush-hush, I'd-have-to-kill-you-if-I-told-you assignment," she quipped. Actually it wasn't that the assignment was all that top-secret, but telling him about it would reveal her true identity, and that was something she needed to keep quiet about.
"Gotcha," he responded.
Meredith suddenly stopped. Robertson came up beside her and they both looked down at a spot about five feet across that was blackened with a pattern that spread outward from the center, trailing off into wispy entrail-like tentacles.
"Looks like we found the point-of-origin for the blast," he said.
"Looks like it," she answered. Meredith turned slowly in a three-hundred-sixty-degree turn, scouring the ground about her. Then she did it again, this time looking at the ceiling.
"Appears that something was blocking off this area of the tunnel," she stooped and ran a hand across the ground directly in front of her. "Can't see anything but ground, but it has a cleared space about eight-inches wide, like something was here and then removed after the blast."
"If something was between the blast and the rest of the chamber," Robertson peered in the distance the direction they'd come, "how did so much debris get spread out back there?" He pointed behind them with his weapon.
Meredith stood and studied the area about them. "Good question. One we need to find the answer to."
They started forward and a slight noise caught their attention. They looked and both before and behind them walls of dark material slid up from the ground, sealing them into a small section of the tunnel.
"Looks like we found that answer," Robertson said.

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