The Devil You Know

From the Story Arc: Who Cares For The Healer?

Next Story in the Arc: Fate, Luck or Divine Providence? by Shyft (Friday, June 24, 2005)

(posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005)

Shyft slowly turned the dial, increasing the gain to the coupling. The meter ticked slowly into the green on the readout. It held in the midrange as the gain increased. She smiled, turning the gain up another notch. Suddenly the readout jumped past the warning zone in yellow and buried the needle in the red. The unit sparked, sending a rain of golden stars across the lab. “Tvoyu mat'!” Shyft ducked behind the blash shield and the unit exploded in a flash of ozone and plasma.

This should have been easy. She sat in the lunchroom of CCCP headquarters, reading over the results, trying to figure out what had happed. She was on her third mug of coffee when she finally had to put the printouts down. Two days of rundowns. Two days of testing. She was rusty and was feeling it. This was the same person who at the age of nine had shocked a room of “the old bearded men of science” at the Leningrad Technical Academy by finding the flaw in their concept schematic for a charged ion thruster, and did the math to show them how to fix the issue.

Too many rads. How do I shunt them? Her mind raced. There had to ba an answer she wasn’t seeing. She had started with a copy of her nullbelt and one of the containment belts from Terra Volta. Neither was the answer. Shielding the rads was easy. That didn’t fix the issue. Since hearing about the fate of a similarly powered hero, Shyft’s focus had turned from shielding to nullifying. Shielding was easy, but it didn’t change a thing. Bella would simply build up a huge internal charge. Shyft was beginning to think shielding it was causing the problem to grow. Eventually the build up rads would cause a cascade failure, and that was where meltdowns came from.

She had been playing with one of October Star’s original components. The bio-enhancement reparations emanator had worked in clearing rads from exposed workers at Chernobyl, even if the elder Nikolski had died of the exposure. The problem with understanding the technology, it was sixty-plus years old, and a singular prototype. The last thing she wanted to do was damage it, so working had to be carefully monitored.

Petrograd’s laboratory was a mess, even if it was well stocked. It afforded Shyft the luxury of testing without worrying about safety protocols. Nothing critical was in the lab. If she ran low on supplies, a few runs to Terra Volta and Brickstown would fill the stores back up.

The problem wasn’t even so much as shunting Bella’s radioactivity, it was converting it to something else that would render it less harmful to the surrounding environment. Every converter she used burnt out by the time it was ramped up to the normal power level her emanations were at. If it could handle her blasts at full strength, it could handle her lingering rads.

The BRE would work for output. It was horribly inefficient, but that would be alright. The conversion didn’t need to be efficient, just complete. Where to find a conduit small enough that could handle the power? Only one organization had technology that sophisticated.


I wonder if anyone feels up to breaking things tonight…