It's Still Rock n' Roll...

From the Story Arc: Sparks!

Next Story in the Arc: You May Be Right... by Petrograd (Saturday, June 24, 2006)

(posted Thursday, June 01, 2006)

The Llewellco HomeSys Coffee-Mate beeped quiet assurances from its perch atop its predecessor, a 1963 'Gormet Coffee/Soup Vendor' with the coin slot jammed open and a fist shaped hole through the front panneling. The needle came down on one of the bootleg Billy Joel albums which had taught him English, and Petrograd was officially at work.

The new report-computer had all of the paperwork filed and his requisition list queued up center-screen, so he could just grab the properly numbered cardboard tubes and get to work. The blueprints, laid one on top of another, were the kind of rubberized mat you might dissasemble a rifle on, with labeled silouhettes of each part set about for easy reach. Petro's were a little more detailed, with proper electronic symbols between connected componenets and various notes in grease pencil, but that didn't keep him from throwing them together like a nine-year-old lego-building champion.

They also gave him plenty of room to play around once he had something parted out. By the time he was done with Siberius's arm, about halfway into 'The Stranger,' the 'Soviet m2003 Heat Sink' box was labeled 'Crey Cryo-Pistol mod 3,' the printed circuits were Llewellco microprocessors, the steel casing was Rikti biomolded composite armor, and the rubber mat had a 'b' on the end of its label.

He was three songs into 'Glass House' when he finished breaking down that week's run of Crey Tank suits.
By the time the needle came down on 'Turnstiles,' Petro had half a dozen teleportation belts and jetpacks for the JTF box.
About 15 minutes into 'The Nylon Curtain,' he was polishing off the transmission on a rusty station wagon for a family from the garment works.

He finally had to switch over to his Springsteen, staring at the last mat on his table. On it were the outlines of a pair of gloves, and nothing else.

"Tesla, you nekulturny son of Serbian dog, how did you do it?"

* * * * *

"Comrade, am not understanding you. You call to tell me you can rebuild my gloves, but also can not."

Krasniy Oktyabr's problems had been a puzzle for at least a month, and no matter how close Petrograd got to a sollution, it was always just out of reach.

Krasniy's cybernetics had originated with his unfortunate encounter with the Clockwork King, and Petro hadn't been able to find a good way to replace them. All cybernetics manuacturers have a way of dealing with pain. The crude enhancements of the Freakshow (much like Petro's own) required the user to be doped to the gills just to stay conscious. Crey operatives had only slightly better luck, but their cyber-docs would take the time to burn out the pain center of the brain, not to mention the ones that produce remorse, mercy and guilt, with a high-powered laser. Llewellco and other civilian companies produced much friendlier versions, but these had a hard time grafting with the damaged tissues around Krasniy's old cybernetics, and the battle with pain was always fought uphill, with therapy and legal painkillers barely keeping it at bay.

The Rikti had their own enhancements, but no one really know how to work those, or if they would even work on humans.

Ivan thought he had stumbled across the solution two weeks ago. An undercover policeman in Founders Falls had tipped him off to a warehouse where Freaks and Council infantry seemed to be congregating. Even wierder, no one had heard gunshots, seen trucks full of stolen property drive off, or observed even one known leader from either group enter the building. Not wanting to miss a possible Freakolympics event, he flew right there, and 20 minutes of hard fighting later he came across a man in an 17th century uniform standing on a box, waving a musket and shouting. Inside that box was one of the oddest things Petrograd had ever seen: steam-powered cybernetics.

Apparently Nemesis had found a way to coerce Freaks into his army. The parts used almost no electricity, minimizing feedback shocks to the nervous system, and even better they were designed to graft over the implant points of the crude Freak limbs. On top of all that, they were at least as powerful as anything Crey could throw together. Only two things stopped Ivan from sending them over to Belladonna Aura for instalation on the spot: First, he would have to make sure they weren't booby trapped. His second little problem came from Nikolai Tesla.

Petrograd sighed into the phone. "Look, Tesla's gloves were welded into Clockwork cybernetics, and even now are mounted in your Llewellco arm, so if am to replace cybernetics, am needing to make sure gloves will nyet cause problems. To do this, I must to rebuild with Nemesis parts."

"Wait, I thought you said you couldn't improve gloves, the first time you saw them."

"Was meaning with modern parts... Tesla took parts you could find in 1930's flashlight and made lightning more powerful than Crey's tankers. Is matter of resonance... is said that once Tesla knocked over a dam with stopwatch and tack-hammer, by tapping at right places and times. Is same with gloves, little sparks in right place and time become bolshoi spark. Putting in modern electronics are of no help, and no one has improved 1930's parts, were all merely replaced by next thing. Until Nemesis."

Krasniy laughed heartily. "Govno! So rebuild them."

Petrograd hesitated a while before answering. "I... am nyet knowing how."

"What?"

"I do nyet know how they work."

"Well... take them apart?"

"If I do that, I may not be able to put them back together, and you have no gloves."

Krasniy seemed stumped. "... X-ray them?"

"Da, but if X-rays or MRI magnetics hit resonant EM field and are amplified, gloves could to irradiate half of city, or crush all metal in mile radius into one-meter ball."

"So.... you are making me late to dinner with my niece to tell me that you cannot do anything?"

"Am sorry, tovarisch. Go, enjoy your dinner."

"Comrade Derinsky.... Tesla knew how to build them, da?"

Petrograd groaned. "Da, but he was large-headed capitalist genius, and is bolshoi bolshoi dead."

"Well, maybe he wrote blueprints." After several seconds, the line seemed almost dead. "Petrograd?"

"Krasniy, remind me to requisition gigantic turkey for you and Nova. I will to call you when I know more."

Krasniy chuckled and hung up. He'd done some reading on Tesla himself, and if his guess was right, Derinsky would be running head-first into the conspiracy nutters any minute now.