MLM – Chapter 38

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It was the third day into their planning, only two days away from the day that they decided to begin their expedition underground. Pira had used the past 24 hours to come up with a variety of ‘tools’ for self-protection. Even though the boys had not been interested in Lasko’s new suit, they were immensely interested in the objects that Pira had produced, probably in eager anticipation of their very own weapons that they were promised. Leonard had also joined them today, observing alongside the boys at some twenty meters away.
They were all a makeshift shooting range that PIRA had created, which consisted of a number of solid brick targets of various sizes standing in front of a raised mound of relocated earth. Per Lasko’s request, Pira had used Lasko’s memories to laser-etch into the bricks, lifelike images of the three goons that had ambushed them the first day, much to the delight of Sharp and Tunnel.
Lasko was wearing the new suit, which was now adorned with a number of additional compartments, some larger and most smaller. There was a larger packet placed in the small of his back, and one medium pack placed on each limb: on the back of each hand, and alongside each ankle.
The most noticeable were the two octagonal cases attached on the side of his shoulders, broadening his shoulder width by a couple inches on each side. The rest of the modules were scattered symmetrically throughout his body, even on his front.
Lasko couldn’t help but feel excited. Trying to keep his heart rate down, he spoke casually. “So, what’ve you got for me, PIRA?”
[Why you trying to act cool all of a sudden? Is it because you’re trying to impress the crowd?] Pira mocked him out loud.
As Tunnel and Sharp laughed a little, Lasko felt his cheeks flush inside the suit. “Just trying stay calm,” he said awkwardly. Out of the corner of his vision, he saw Leonard lean over to the boys with furrowed brows. ‘What does cool mean?’ Lasko saw him mouth.
[So the improvements that I added to the suit all revolve around one basic principle. Pressurization. The suit, as a collective, is capable of pressurization to over a 250,000 psi. Try running to the closest target.]
Lasko did as he was told, cautiously, not knowing what to expect. Nothing happened
[No, you really have to run, otherwise it won’t activate.]
Lasko put in a little more effort, and almost instantly he was propelled forward with an unseen force, his legs somehow moving with an intensity that barely required any effort on his part. He made it to the end of the range almost immediately, and he quickly stopped his feet, skidding to a halt in the dirt.
[The pressurized system that I’ve installed into the suit has a variety of useful tools. The first and most important function, I call the ‘fitness enhancer.’ Using a network of over a hundred thousand hydraulic fibers that are placed throughout the suit, the system adds force to physical actions, carefully timed with your natural body movements, of course. When one of these fibers are pressurized, they return to their original forms, which adds the additional power.]
[Your average performance over a range of physical activities can be enhanced to over 500% of your estimated current capacity. The hydraulics are more than capable of even greater output, but at that level there is a risk of damaging the body, not to mention you would probably find it very difficult to coordinate.]
Lasko did a few more back-and-forths, testing it out, and even attempted some mild acrobatics. Although he wasn’t the most fit, he was able to pull off a couple of cartwheels, and even a standing backflip with ease. And he wasn’t even breathing hard. Tunnel applauded happily from the sidelines, and even Sharp and Leonard couldn’t help but change their expressions.
This is really cool, Pira! Lasko exclaimed.
[Don’t too excited yet, otherwise you’ll pass out when you see the rest of the stuff.] Pira said drily, but Lasko could still detect a smugness in her voice.
[Now function number two. What do you do when your body can’t react fast enough to a foreseen danger? You get hit. But I created this function that operates separately from your natural body reaction. I call it ‘double movement.’ Try jumping into the air, and then try ‘jumping again’…
Huh? Lasko jumped up, briefly admired his new vertical height distance, and then thought about jumping again. Before he could actually engage his body, however…
PFFT! There was a sound of multiple high pitched hisses, and his body instantly rose in mid-air. The unexpected movement startled him entirely, and the large increase in height momentarily filled him with panic. He landed awkwardly, rolling on the ground.
“Whoa!” There were cries of excitement from the peanut gallery.
Pira, what was that?
[That, was a series of incredibly high pressure jets released simultaneously at multiple points on your body, acting as a propellant. Basically, using the pressure jets, you can have an additional yet independent movement technique that can work with, without, or against your body movements. There are a number of practical benefits this has for you, and I hope that you’re smart enough so that I don’t have to explain all of them to you.]
Lasko was having trouble wrapping his head around everything that Pira was saying. The adrenaline rushing through his body and high heart rate was causing a lot of noise.
Can you just explain a couple? Lasko asked, trying to focus his thoughts.
Pira’s female voice sighed exasperatedly.
[One, you can change direction unexpectedly. While running forward, you’d be able to suddenly shift to the side. Or you could change directions entirely. Whilst in mid-air you’d also be able to implement these changes. Two, you can increase your movement speed, ‘dashing’ or ‘sprinting’, if you will. You’ll be able to move even in certain circumstances when your body simply cannot react quickly enough, for example when using the time perception delay. Lastly…]
Pira paused. [It’ll be better to show you by example. Go over to the wall.]
Lasko did as he was told, walking down to the wall.
[Now, punch it as hard as you can.]
“Oh, this is where you going with this. Lasko eagerly took position, but then a thought occurred to him. “Will this hurt my hands?”
[No, the hardening scales of the suit will thoroughly protect you. Go ahead and let loose.]
Okay! Lasko took aim, spreading his feet a bit for balance, and then smashed his fist against the wall.
The kids couldn’t help but run closer to get a better look.
Lasko’s fist had imprinted a permanent indentation into the brick wall. Pieces of the brick crumbled and fell to the ground. Lasko couldn’t help but feel good, especially with the kids crowded around ooh-ing and ahh-ing.
But Pira wasn’t done. [Now punch the wall again, in a different spot this time, but this time use ‘double movement’ as well.]
“Stand back, kids.” Lasko said to Tunnel and Sharp, who both stepped back reluctantly.
Repeating the same stance, Lasko once again aimed at the wall, but this time as he punched he activated the double movement.
There was a difference sound than the first, but the actual result was very different. Lasko’s entire arm was buried in the solid brick wall up to the elbow.
Wow. Lasko was amazed. He felt like Superman. The kids didn’t say anything this time, their mouths just gaping.
Wanting to try again, Lasko tried to get in position again but couldn’t.
Uh, Pira? My arm is stuck?
After a few minutes of difficulty, they finally managed to extract the arm, by bracing both feet against the wall and pushing away, double movement activated.
After the embarrassing incident, Lasko’s excitement had died down a little bit, and he was taking another perspective.
“So my options are to punch, kick, and hit any rats that come my way?” Lasko asked. The extra strength was definitely powerful, but not that practical. He didn’t think he could pummel his way through swarms of rats.
[Of course not.] PIRA said scornfully. [I’ll introduce the De-Pressurized Bullets, your long distance option. DPBs for short.]
“You seem to have a name for everything,” Lasko said drily.
[It’s important for efficiency.] Pira said, not skipping a beat.
[Now, you might think that these bullets aren’t anything special. I know you 21st century folk associated powerful arsenal with fire, explosions, etc. But these have just as much destructive force, without the dangerous potential to set off a massive underground gas explosion. Target a spot on the wall.]
With a thought, a marker appeared in Lasko’s vision, pinpointing a fresh piece of the shooting range wall.
[Now disengage your safety]
The floating marker turned red.
[Now shoot a single round.]
When Lasko thought to fire one shot, suddenly the box on his right shoulder suddenly spun open and a small ‘phut’ was heard, a tiny white line flashing out of the box for about a foot before dissipating.
Tock! A small noise was heard from a distance. Then half a second later, there was a larger pop, and a small chunk of the wall cracked off, falling to the ground.
That was it? After PIRA’s build up, Lasko had expected something flashier…
[Try shooting something smaller.]
Lasko aimed for a small brick, propped up on top of the wall, and with a ping, it spun and fell to the ground. Then…
The brick exploded, shattering into a hundred different pieces.
Oooh. That was a bit more satisfying.
Lasko, without additional prompting, targeted a few marks at once, and to his surprise, multiple bullets fired out simultaneously, precisely hitting his targets, and then consequently exploding, sending a small cloud of debris into the air.
[The depressurization bullet works by compressing air into a small bullet that made of a strengthening DVG effect that is constantly activated. When the bullet is fired, (also using compressed air), the strengthening DVG burns through the residual thetans, quickly losing its structural integrity, which results in a concussion blast.]
Wow. 200,000 psi! How is the suit capable of building up so much pressure so quickly?
[This was made possible due to Leonard’s DVG expertise,] Pira acknowledged begrudgingly. [Using a quickly expanding DVG in an unbreakable DVG shell, a number of tiny gas pistons are able to be made, with little to no precision work needed. The device itself is simple, yet incredibly effective. The expanding material provides the pressure, while the unbreakable DVG is how the pressure is able to build up so high. There is no maintenance needed, since there are effectively no loose parts. The whole suit system operates on this principle.]
It was all quite impressive to Lasko, especially because the entire suit with all its additions didn’t seem to weigh more than 20 to 30 pounds.
“Well, this certainly takes care of the long distance requirement. Thank you very much for your efforts PiRA!”
[Hold on, there’s one more thing. Although the suit can replenish its ammunition rather quickly, it still takes too long. You won’t be able to mow down waves of continual rats; you need something with higher efficiency than one bullet per rat.]
“There’s another thing?!”
[Yup, but it may double as a type of tool while we’re underground. For example, what happens when we run into a barrier underground? We can’t use your traditional cutting tools based on heat, because of the combustion risk. That is why I decided to add the ‘Wet Cutter’. It is a highly pressurized, high density liquid jet that can be used to cut through obstacles, living or otherwise. It’s not new technology; it’s something you should be somewhat familiar with, but when mixed with DVG strengthened particles, the cutting ability of the liquid jet increases considerably compared to your time. It’s like a water jet mixed with diamond dust.]
“How do I use it?”
[The dispensers are located inside the widgets on your wrists and ankles. You can hold it still to bore a hole, if you’d like, or move your limbs to create a dynamic cutting motion. Imagine a blade attached to your arm.]
“Like a sword?” Lasko made a slashing motion at a thick brick column nearby.
There was a piercing sound and a fine mist drifted up into the air. And then the top of the brick pillar slid off, being neatly sliced in two.
Lasko, shocked speechless, looked back to where Sharp, Tunnel, and Leonard were watching, equally silent.
[Now that’s it.] PiRA said triumphantly. [I’d like to see the rats try to take us down now.]