Chapter 3: Suits

The factory was a rather small building for its purposes. This was a building wherein body Armour, weaponry and other military items were produced. That’s what the Walsh Corporation had become after President Harrison had risen to power. He had pledged to create a country where we were safe from the horrors that had occurred in the north. A safer Oceania, he called it. Unsurprisingly, it had ended up being a military dictatorship. Rumors were going around that he planned to initiate a war with France, who he had painted as the ones behind the atrocities in the north. This wasn’t helped by the high levels of production currently going on in Walsh factories.
“You can wait out here if you want,” I told Riley as we walked towards the door. Two armed guards stood either side of it, one was further down, keeping my bike safe.
“No way. I want to see what’s going on inside,” she told me. Couldn’t be helped. We walked through the door and were instantly hit by the smell of grease and hot metal. It took about ten seconds to spot the man I was looking for.
“Professor Beeves!” I shouted sticking my hand up to attract the man’s attention. He strolled over, and shook my hand vigorously when he stopped next to us.
“Good to see you Edward! Oh and miss… Parkinson, yes? Riley Parkinson? Unless I’m getting something wrong, in which case I do apologize,” He seemed flustered.
“No, you’re right,” she spoke softly, probably her shy nature getting the better of her once again.
“So, Isaac, about my request,” I tried to be calm, but Riley’s nerves could be infectious at times, especially in a high pressure situation that didn’t involve a fight.
“Oh yes, the Thick Skin Armour. It’s all prepared as you asked for it, repair kit and all. Plus, a little extra,” He was very proud of himself.
“Extra?” I asked.
“Yes. Ten fun little devices that attach to the armour. They don’t stick out or anything, only a millimeter thick at most, that alters the appearance of the armor. This doesn’t mean you can go invisible, just switch between various states of camouflage. It’s better than dye, and hopefully, it’ll help with your endeavors,” Isaac Beeves. The man was the leading scientist currently exploring light, so it was no surprise he’d come up with this.
“An alternating refraction field. Nice job,” I doubt I needed to congratulate him, the man probably threw a two-day party when he got the damn prototype to work.
“Your stuff is in a truck out in the garage you came in from, I trust you have security organised?” I nodded.
“Send Mr Schmidt my regards,” He said as we left, leaving a stunned expression on Riley’s face.
“I had planned something more elaborate until he called me. He figured out what was going on the moment he saw us on the news, and decided to give me a gift. I just asked him to give us some stuff for the rest of you guys,” She still looked stunned.
“We’re security, aren’t we?” I nodded at her, and led her back to the bike, proceeding to drive around to the truck, and letting them know we were ready to go.

*

Probably the only reason I didn’t drive more was because of how my legs felt afterwards. Even while still riding alongside the huge truck, my legs felt like they were shaking, partly because having them so close to the engine meant they were. Riley had already sent a message to Walter, telling him to have something ready to pick up the cargo we would be bringing back to the Sandman, which hopefully meant that we wouldn’t have to wait a few hours so we could go back up. Waiting too long, unfortunately, drained power and fuel from the pod, and so too long a wait would mean they would have to send down fuel for it, which in the end meant a longer wait. I looked over to the truck for a brief second to make sure nothing had changed. Paranoia perhaps, but it didn’t hurt to make sure the driver wasn’t up to anything shady. I turned my eyes back to the road, and strangely, there was nothing in front of us, save for one car that was headed in the opposite direction, all the way on the far end of the road, actually, just driving onto the bridge like we were. Strange that the roads would be so empty, but there weren’t very many people on this bridge normally, there was another one not too far down that saved a lot more time, for most people, so it was only used when necessary.

An echoing gunshot brought me out of my thoughts.

The truck swerved, heading into us, I pulled on the breaks as quickly as I could, trying to slow down so it wouldn’t hit us, but as the cabin smashed into one of the pylons, the trailer got some air spinning on its connection to the truck, and slamming us into the railings with a wheel. A jolt of pain ran up my arm as it broke on impact, and the still-running bike landed on my legs. I turned off the ignition as quickly as I could, preventing the engine from burning me too badly, and try my hardest to push it off of me with one arm. That is, until the pain in my other arm suddenly vanished. Perhaps I was still in Miracle’s vice, and that had healed me?

Didn’t matter, I shoved the bike off of me, and scrambled over to check on Riley. She was unconscious, and there wasn’t anything visible on her, but I had to work under the assumption that she had been injured, just in case. In certain situations, pessimism is quite useful. Think, where is the safest place to be at the moment? Inside the back of the truck. I picked up Riley’s unconscious form, and carried her over to where I could open the trailer with ease. I could hear the engine of both the truck and the oncoming car, likely where the gunshot came from, and a plan formed in my head. Get to the cabin, turn off the truck’s engine, then take out the gunners. Didn’t want anything bad happening to the truck, and unfortunately, the running engine presented a danger. There was only one problem with my plan, to get to the cabin, it would be easy for the gunners to shoot me. The passenger door had been crushed, it would take too long to get open. But, as I stepped inside the back of the truck, that problem was solved. A suit of TS Armour was stood on a mannequin in the back. Mostly black, there were green LED’s running along the sides, framing the chest and running down the legs. It had a mask hanging on one of the arms, and a pair of green boots, for some odd reason. A tag was hanging on the right arm.
“Sorry I’m missed your birthday, Ed,” It read. Isaac, you are a genius. I tore off my jacket, throwing it down on the floor of the trailer, next to Riley, and I hoped she didn’t wake up while I was changing.

*

As soon as I put it on, the LED’s lit up, a pulse running down the string of lights, every so often. There was a lot more electronics in this suit than it appeared, but there were two critical flaws. First of all, my hands had to be left exposed so I could shoot. I used my palms to fire bolts of lightning, whereas Thunderbolt used her fingertips. Personal preference was only part of it. Thunderbolt was better with lightning almost by default. Second, the mask left the majority of my head and face exposed, but this was body armour so that was to be expected. The only solution at this point was to simply wear the helmet I’d brought with me, and hope it could stop a bullet. Oh well. I slammed it onto my head, and ran out the back of the truck, pulses of light running down my body quickening. Bullets flew by me, pinging off of the hard metal of the truck. A few ricochets hit me, but they ended up being negligible. The car stopped its approach, and suddenly the gunner’s aim was much better, hitting me in the arm and chest several times. It hurt like hell, but nothing pierced the suit. I fired a weak bolt of electricity at where I thought the bullets were coming from, but I missed, hitting the door instead, and provoking another person in the car to start firing. I reached the cabin, climbing up onto the hood of the truck when I saw the state that the driver’s door was in as well, and found out where the first shot had been fired. It went through the windshield, and straight into the driver’s chest.
“Sorry. I’m sure you were a good man,” I said, as I kicked in the windshield. Another bullet hit me in the shoulder as my foot went through the glass, and another hit my ankle. That’s why the boots were there, I guess. The driver was showered in tiny shards of glass, and I was able to quickly jump in and turn off the ignition. The dull humming of the engine stopped, and I jumped back out to duke it out with our assailants. I walked over to the motionless car, through a hail of bullets, until when I was about three feet away, they closed their windows, and ceased fire. They were scared. That was when a really, really bad idea came to mind.
“This is going to hurt,” I said, running forward, and punching through the glass of the window, grabbing onto the guy in the driver’s seat with one hand, lifting the other to punch through the weak glass again.
“Open the door,” I said, my hand still in the air. He scrambled to open it, as he and his buddies watched in fear.
“Why did you attack that truck?” I said calmly.
“The boss told us to. Said there’d be some sweet loot inside,” Gang members, obviously.
“Which gang?” I asked.
“Streamline’s Gang! Please, don’t hurt me!” He begged.
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” I said, dropping him “Just tell them I said hi,” he jumped back into the car, and the group of them sped away. I headed back into the trailer, to check and see if Riley had woken up. As I walked alongside the trailer, it struck me that, had the truck spun in any other way, a gang could have gotten its hands on stupidly high tech armor. It had been pure chance that I had been able to defend this stuff. We probably would have died, too. I stepped up into the trailer, sitting down next to my discarded clothing. Normally, this armor would be worn underneath clothing, that’s why the fabric was so thin, but this was clearly intended to be on show, I mean, LED’s underneath normal clothes would just look weird. I reached for the phone Walter had given me, pulling it out of the jacket that lay on the floor.
“We were attacked on the bridge five hundred meters from the safe house. Truck has crashed. Thunderbolt is currently unconscious, injuries unknown,” I sent that as a message to Walter, to let him know we couldn’t move from where we were at the moment. I got a message back almost instantly.
“Thanks for the heads up. Sending Miracle down with the pickup vehicle,” She was there with him, obviously. Great. I could expect another broken arm or busted rib when she got down here then.

*

It took about ten minutes of waiting for Riley to wake up. I’d just gotten a message saying that pickup was on the way, so at least it wouldn’t be too long until we were back aboard the Sandman.
“Hi. Did you have a nice nap?” She looked at me weirdly, probably still drowsy, or perhaps she’d gotten a concussion.
“Let me rephrase that. You feeling okay?” She nodded, but still seemed confused.
“Where are we? And what on earth are you wearing?” she asked.
“Back of the truck, waiting for pickup. We need to head outside soon, so I’m hoping you didn’t get hurt too badly by the crash?” She nodded, and stood up. I pushed off of the ground as well, and we stepped out into the light. She had picked her helmet up off of the ground, and for some reason was holding onto it very tightly. I walked over to the motorcycle, picking it up off of the ground and wheeling it back over to where Riley was standing, leaning against the back of the trailer. I let it rest on its kickstand, and went to stand next to Riley. Had to be safe, I didn’t want May to hurt me too badly.
“You broke your right arm, didn’t you? I saw you wince as you tried to lift yourself with it,” she nodded, and slowly extended it to let me look. There was a huge bruise on her forearm, and although I had no clue how it had happened, or how I’d missed it before, I knew It was bad. Her fingertips were very softly sparking; the broken bone may have messed with how she could control her power. I softly grabbed onto her arm, to see if I could gauge just how badly it had broken. As I slowly moved my hand down her arm, I noticed something strange. The bruise on her arm was shrinking.
“What the hell just happened?” she asked.
“I broke my arm earlier, the same thing happened. I thought it was something to do with what happened last night but now, I’m not so sure,” she looked as confused as I felt.
“Did you do it? Is that even possible?” she asked. Frankly, I didn’t know.

The hum of a jet engine suddenly became very loud in my ears, as the cargo ship hovered down next to us. I still couldn’t believe they’d managed to build a cargo plane that could take off vertically and hover, but somehow, it existed. The back ramp came open, and a group of soldiers jumped out, carrying large cables to attach to the trailer, and I locked up the back. Then May and Walter jumped out of the back of the cargo plane, and May gave me this strange glare, how a blind girl could manage that was beyond me. I felt a sudden pain in my stomach, and had to fight to keep myself from vomiting.
“Come on May, that’s not funny,” Walter said. The pain subsided quickly.
“One of these days, he’s going to retaliate, you know that right?” Riley joked.
“Oh, I’m so scared!” May said, laughing. The two of them walked over from the ramp, and May started checking on Riley and I, even though she didn’t trust me, she still had to do what I said in the field, Walter had taught them that much. Once she was done, Walter asked us how it had gone, and it took quite a while to explain it all to him.
“I’ll see if I can find out more about Streamline’s gang, Ed. But this thing you’re saying about being able to heal yourself during the fight, it’s something I expected,” He seemed perfectly fine, but May was shocked.
“Let me explain. Edward, I believe your powers chose to take on the abilities of the first other person with powers you came into contact with, in this case Riley. Because of the genetic similarities between Riley and May, it makes sense that you would be able to control biology as well, to what extent, I don’t know. That’s something we’ll test on the Sandman. For now, just be proud of the work you’ve done today, and head back to the pod. May and I will remain here and deal with this,” I nodded, hopping back onto the motorcycle and waiting for Riley to do the same. Once she was ready to go, we drove off to the safe house, and prepared to get back onto the Sandman.

*

Once I had made it out of security and back to our little section of the Sandman, I found myself surrounded by the team, except for Alan, who must have been at a piloting lesson or something. Lake was the first to approach me, of course, and he started grabbing at the fabric on my arms.
“Not very tough is it,” the remark was meant to be at my expense, but he didn’t know what had happened down below. I sent a small static shock into his fingers, and he didn’t even notice it was me. He bumped part of my sleeve as he pulled away, and suddenly, the fabric of the suit changed from a rich black to a deep blue.
“Now that’s interesting,” he grabbed my wrist, where a control panel had been woven into the fabric, pressing buttons randomly and watching as my suit changed.
“It’s called an alternating refraction field. You’re playing with light, Lake, but the battery isn’t that big so if you wouldn’t mind stopping,” a stronger bolt of electricity surged through my arm, causing him to recoil further this time, almost elbowing Penelope in the face. She caught his arm before he could though, and twisted it around his back. Lake was a pretty fit guy, but Penelope, the comparison between them was like the comparison between Lake and myself. She was ripped, but somehow still managed to be feminine.
“So that’s what Walter expects us to wear,” she said, circling me. She started lifting up my arms and checking me out like I was a mannequin. Riley walked up behind us and started laughing. Loudly. I spun around and glared at her, and she covered her mouth, holding her nose to try and stop herself from laughing.
“Walter would like to talk to you about what happened on the bridge. I would talk to him, but,” she had been unconscious and probably hit her head badly enough when she came off the bike to forget certain details.
“Hey, I want to know what happened too,” Iris asked, almost commanding me.
“We crashed, I fought some gang members, no big deal,” Iris looked shocked.
“Is that why your hand is bleeding?” Iris said. I looked down, and as she had said, my knuckles were a bloody mess. Suddenly, pain flared up in my arm, and I felt a small trickle of blood run down my cheek. That couldn’t be good.
“Holy shit,” Lake said as more blood started to run down my face.
“Guess that fix was only temporary,” I fell onto my knees, getting woozy from the sudden blood loss, and within seconds, everything went black.