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Aberrant: Nova Reality - An Alchemist's Lab


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{{This is an in-character thread for the anyone on the team, or anyone likely to show up}}

Science is a fickle mistress. The more detailed and technologically advanced a subject of research becomes, the more technology of every kind is needed to study it. Roomfulls of incredibly expensive machinery is necessary for meaningful experiments of any kind. Sometimes, maintaining a modern day chemical laboratory is more work than producing research from it.

Such was not at all the case of Alchemist's workshop.

Above him could be heard the ongoing construction for his teammate's base of operations. Technically, they weren't a team yet, since they hadn't signed any contracts. But legal definitions had never really bothered Alchemist, so already they were a team in his mind. And as such, he was doing his work to find ways of helping that team.

The room he was in was perhaps twelve hundred square feet. It was only a fraction of the basement of the building their backers had acquired, but still far more space than Alchemist ever thought he would need. The ceiling, which had been tile, was not black basalt with inlaid lighting. The walls and floor were made of the same seamless stone.

It had surprised the contractors upstairs when he had ordered several hundred tons of the rock to be delivered into the basement. It was pretty much the most common form of bedrock available, but also very hard and chemically inert. Using it as a building material is not unheard of, but Alchemist had specified that raw stone was all he needed. After delivery, he used it to replace the ceilings, walls, and flooring, ensuring him that a fire or explosion within his lab wouldn't damage the rest of the facility.

The remainder of that rock he had molded into several large work tables, shelves across nearly all of the walls, and even a few oddly comfortably looking stone chairs. The dark stone was polished perfectly smooth for the walls and ceiling, and was left slightly rough for the other surfaces. The shelves throughout the room were loaded down with bottles, beakers, and hunks of material. Sprouting almost organically from the walls were the power outlets, switches, and opnet feeds. The resulting effect was a cross between a magician's study and a research lab, with just a little bit of H. R. Geiger.

What was missing was the incredibly complex array of machinery which is needed for any normal scientist to carry on their research. That's generally the most expensive part of building such a lab. But Alchemist was not a normal researcher. His own natural abilities either matched or outstripped the advantages of technology.

But beyond his research, he felt there was little use for his abilities. So he continued his research, content to remain in the background of the group.

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Suddenly, the door of the lab opens and BlackStar enters so fast that he is a blur to the untrained eye.

"Uff, we have not started with this yet and I am already wondering if it has been a good idea!".

Then he stops and looks to the changes Alchemist has done to the room.

"Man, I like you decorative touch. Can I stay here for a while?. I am full of those photographic sessions. I have the face´s muscles twitching because of the smiles."

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Bandwidth is walking around the basement hiding out a bit. He has a set of HUD glasses on while he types on an imaginary keyboard in front of him. The piece of equipment responding like it was an actual keyboard.

He sees a blur through his HUD and focuses past his HUD to see a door close. He walks into that direction and overhears BlackStar talking a bit. He pokes his head through the door.

"Hi guys, you hiding out as well? I got tired of being asked questions also, so I hid out in the basement. Now I'm just fiddling with my micro PC coding a game, gives me something to do, provides a bit of extra cash."

Bandwidth takes his HUD off and folds it into his pocket.

"So what exactly brought this choice about for you two? I'm doing it because I got a bit bored. Not much to tell on this end. I really like what you did with the place Alchemist, maybe I can help you set some Computer equipment up in exchange for some decorating."

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"Well, I have a small agency in Spain mostly for investigative and body guarding jobs. I have an associate, the Mexican nova called "The Ray". But of lately, we have almost been forced to close it. I am not really sure why, but we have got fewer and fewer work.

Then I read Interceptor´s call on the board and it seems to me a good idea. A form to catch some money helping people at the same time".

The Spanish nova look serious, a strange thing you know after this time with him.

"My glitch with the situation is with all that publicity. I know from the start that we are going to make public apparitions and all that. But I don't know if this is going already a bit out of proportions. What do you think?".

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Alchemist waves to his guests from a table at the far end of the room. After a few moments of fiddling to stabilize the compounds he's working with, he turns away from the beaker-laden workspace.

As he approaches, he smiles and replies, "I'm glad you like it. Actually, I think it's too dark, and a bit creepy, but it's definitely functional."

Alchemist listens to Bandwidth and Blackstar's explanations before offering his own.

"I was at a loose end. I'd just come back from vacation, and right after I got back everything went to hell. I'm under an NDA not to talk about it. Regardless, I figured I could do some good, and talk with other novas face to face. Before I joined N!Prime, I'd never even met another nova in person."

Alchemist shrugs, letting that topic fall to the side.

"I do agree with you, though, Blackstar. I'm not sure I like the idea that we're going to be filmed so much. I can understand public relations, but a reality tv show isn't what I had in mind when I was talking about openness. Still, you work with what you've got."

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A muffled voice comes from behind the entrance, looking over there seems to be a walking pile of pizza boxes and greasy paper bags. It maneuvers back and forth, side to side, and finally ducks and comes in at an angle. Once inside the boxes are put down, along with a bungied parcel of sodas, beers and bottled waters, revealing Pete Lowry.

"Hey all. Heard you were down here. Pizza's ready! I got 8 Chicago style stuffed pizzas, 3 sausage, 3 pepperoni, 2 spinach. I got three New York thin crust, 1 cheese, 1 sausage, one veggie. I also got the chopped salad party platter, and 10 beef sandwhices, peppers on the side, with extra gravy.

"Who's hungry!" he says as he begins hauling the vast assortment of food and drinks to a nearby table. When he opens one the heavenly smell of sauce and cheese fills the air. "The pizza place isn't too far, and they got all this other stuff too!" he says as he pulls out a two inch slice of stuffed pizza and takes a huge bite, then grimaces slightly at the heat, and then has an almost transcendant look of pleasure.

"MMMMM! Mo, thith ith tho good!" he mumbles as he reaches for a soda. "Try thome." he says through a mouthful of cheese, crust and sauce.

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Alchemist casts a despairing glance at the pile of food that's just been brought into his domain. He had designed this area as a workshop and a laboratory. But it had increasingly come to be used as a gathering point and, at some points, a mess hall, since the building above was still being worked on.

Hopefully, once that was finished, his new friends would do this in the area above.

Before digging in himself, he moved the food to one of the few empty tables in the lab. After the last time this had happened, he'd cleared it off and created a couple of benches, forming a makeshift of picnic table.

Taking a slice with sausage for himself, Alchemist resumed talking. "So, how's the renovation coming? I've hardly been out of my lab long enough to find out what day it is, let alone how far along the construction is."

"Oh, I nearly forgot. Would you like to see the prototype armor I've been working on for the team? It's about as good as a full colony of real eufiber at soaking up damage. It doesn't have the same shapeshifting or quantum absorption properties, though. However, it is a lot less expensive, and people who are not amenable to wearing a eufiber colony can wear this no problem."

Alchemist points to a plain gray jumpsuit being worn by a manequin in the corner. It doesn't look like much, except that the material is more bulky looking than a normal jumpsuit would be.

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"I'm curious Alchemist, what's the possibility of wearing this along with eufiber. I don't really need to worry about any lost dexterity, but this allow me to do some field work if need be. I'm not really all that durable compared to some of the others."

Bandwidth grabs a slice of pizze, being careful not too make too big of a mess in his friends lab.

"This isn't messing up the sterility of your lab or anything is it? We can take it over to my part of the basement, but it's much less hospitable."

Bandwidth takes a bite of his food, enjoying the pizza. He had lived off of it in college, but he gained weight from it then, now it didn't bother him in the least.

"Interceptor, when do we have our first public appearances. I'm getting tired of being couped up in here with these photographers, I wouldn't mind seing some 'real' people."

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"Don't worry about my lab. It'll be OK."

Alchemist glances speculatively at the armor jumpsuit. "I don't see why you shouldn't be able to use both. I specifically designed the uniform so that it wouldn't restrict mobility. I could have made it a hell of a lot more durable if you're willing to sacrifice some movement range. But as it is, it shouldn't restrict even nova level abilities."

"How is your room coming, anyway?"

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"Well then it looks like it might be a possibility of me doing field work afterall, but I'm not going to let the sponsors know that. They already have me setting up the entire computer and security system throughout this whole place, plus they want me to work on parts of the official OpNet site, makign it all sparkly or fancy, but I'm not an art major here."

Bandwidth talks between bites of his pizza.

"I'll just be glad when we get all this preliminary stuff set up. My area is a dark corner at the moment with abotu 10 42" widescreen monitors and countless amounts of computer systems in it, but that's how I like it to be. I've got my cot, and my mini-fridge stocked with Cherry-Cola, so I'll survive."

"I went down to a local pub as well. They said they'd give us free drinks on Halloween as well as long as we hung out with them for the night. "

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Interceptor finishes his first slice and reaches for a second as he also reaches for a soda with his other hand.

"Sorry to bring it down here Doc, this is the cleanest place in the building, there's dry wall dust on everything upstairs. I'll make sure I get all the garbage though don't worry." He takes a swig off the soda.

"Funny you should mention public appearances. This goes kind of well with your invention here with the armor. There's supposed to be a meet-and-greet with the press at an upcoming Townhall meeting for the mayor of Chicago. They're going to have the normal meeting, and then when the majority is cleared up, we show up and talk to a few members of the press as well as many of the alderman and city council men and some local business reps. We'll be introducing ourselves, some faces will be familiar, they'll have been there at our signing. They'll ask questions, plenty that you've heard before, like what can you do, what would you do if..., ask for autographs and pictures. Stuff like that. Our handlers won't be there for this, and I was advised that we be ourselves, but behave, make a good impression.

"We might get some tougher questions. Just letting you know. Like how de we feel about religion, what political party we endorse, who do we think really killed Slider, how do we feel about Utopia. But you've probably gotten those questions before too. Be careful on that last one, some of you aren't from America, America doesn't look on Utopia as highly as other countries do. Just keep your cool, be noncomittal if you think you're being baited.

"I was warned that a Union rep is supposed to be there and might ask some tough questions. From what I was told the Unions of Chicago were pushing for our salaries to be high plus for us to be paid on commission. I guess they want to protect their jobs by making us very expensive to use or something, I don't know politics that well, it could be something else completely. They might also be looking to try to, you know, 'unionize' us or something. Doubt that'll happen.

"I never realized there'd be so much trouble with this." he sighs as he takes a huge bite from another piece of pizza.

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"Hey, Alchemist, don´t worry about the cleaning. I will help you, no problem".

BlackStar closes the eyes for a moment and concentrates. "We are not being monitored right now".

Then he makes a gesture with his hand and a slice of cheese pizza floats unerringly to it. Next he uses the same method for a coke can. Takes a wolfish bite, munch with care but not a lot of noise and helps it along with the liquid.

"You know, I really don´t need to eat anymore. But it is so wonderful, and I don´t need to control the weight".

When he hears about Bandwidth´s plan his mood alters. A sad smile cross BlackStar´s face and tells him, "sorry, but I must go to my country for the day. We usually go to the Cemetery and honor and remember specially our loved ones who were no more. It is called All Saints Day there, (El Día de todos los Santos)".

Then he looks at Alchemist.

"I was thinking before, that a good gadget for the group would be something along the line of the communicators you made when we went to the space. If we were separated from the rest, it would be good. Or to ask for help".

He puts his can on a table and takes something from a pocket. "Look, I have it yet".

At this moment, he looks curiously for a moment to a part of the lab and said, "show time".

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The door, left open by Interceptor, shudders violently from displaced air as April shoots down the basement hall outside and comes to a sudden stop/landing just outside. A sudden but fairly gentle breeze flows briefly through the room as she drops her bubble, letting pressures equalize behind and in front of her. She learned a few days ago not to stop in the lab - that resulted in some unappreciated disruption of Alchemist's work.

Drifting back up off the floor, she slips into the room and - in a blinding flurry of speed - tears into Interceptor's eats. Coming to a relative stop a couple of meters above and to the side of the bench with the food, she gestures at Interceptor with a slice of stuffed pizza, saying:

"Thought I saw you going down here. I was up moving trusses around for the camera crew. Total photo op - they had me picking them up and putting them back where I found them. Couldn't actually help, 'cause the unions would get all pissy. What's up with that, right?"

Pausing in her stream of words and gestures, April cocks her head and asks, without really waiting for a response to her previous comments, "What're all of you doing down here?"

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"Avoiding the camera crews you just escaped. Though, if I'm reading Blackstar right, they're following you down. I could seal the door, but that would just delay the inevitable."

"Back to the topic at hand, though. You're absolutely right, Blackstar. Comms gear is essential. I've been working on the idea of putting up a few of our own satelites, but I've decided it's too much of a hassle. I know you could get them into orbit, but NASA would just confiscate them."

"So that limits my range unless we want to patch into public satelites, or pay for access to private ones. But we only have to worry about that if you think we'll need more range than a couple hundred miles."

Alchemist manages the feat of talking while still eating quickly without apparrent difficulty.

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April shrugs, saying, "Media's no big deal. Kinda rediculous, but I've had to deal with that kind of thing around my family for ages. I can go run interference if you want."

"Why not just use cells? I mean, I guess you could make 'em smaller and maybe find a way to boost the signal or something, but then we wouldn't really have a range limit, s'long as we stay in, like, first world countries."

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"Cellphones are multi-purpose tools. They're good for calling teammates, friends, family, accessing the opnet, signalling emergencies, and dozens of other things. Great tools for general use, but they make lousy communication devices in an emergency."

"What I'm working on is special purpose. It connects you with the other teammates, all at once or in select groups. I can make microelectronics, though it's not my usual field, and my user interfaces generally suck. But I figure if Bandwidth helps out, we should have something that T2M would be envious of."

"Range is only an issue because I'm a perfectionist. I don't like the idea of my toys not working just because the situation has changed. For instance, I'd like to be able to talk to Blackstar regardless of whether he's in the same building, in Spain, or in orbit."

Alchemist grins across the table at April, finnishing off the last slice of his chosen pie. "OK. So I might just overengineer my gadgets a bit."

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Bandwidth listens to Alchemist Intently. "I can make you what ever type of user face you could dream of. Programming and Coding are my main focus, while I also can manage mechanics quite proficiently as well. Anyway, the joke taht floated around in my classes was that if it didn't have enough features, it wasn't done yet."

J.C. grabs another piece of pizza and folds it over as he bites into it.

"With Cell phones you also have the rare occassion that all circuits are busy, especially in any sort of disaster situation, the ones where we'd really need to get ahold of each other. Direct communicators would be more secure and quicker as well."

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Rearranging herself to sit cross-legged in the air, April polishes off a slice in a flurry of movement, then responds, "Heck. Over-engineer as much as you want. If it helps keep me safe, I'll be happy with it."

Grinning, she adds, "This isn't really my thing, but I've gotta say that having you two guys doing our equipment is freaking cool."

"By the way - nice place, Alchemist. Kind of cool in that grim and forbidding sorta way."

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"Yes, pal, you are right. I think we have five seconds before our refuge got taken by the Huns".

Opening hands in a mock gesture of despair, BlackStar gives you a somewhat impish smile.

"But, if you want, I could take you, one by one, to another place".

"And BTW, we could take the armor and I could wear it to test, if you like".

Taking a cake´s piece, he eats it a bit greedily before the N! crew could enter the lab. Then he looks at the rest with questioning eyes.

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"Well, much as I dislike the spotlight, no one is forcing me out of my own lab. But before they show up, I'm cleaning house a bit."

So saying, Alchemist nearly blurs into motion as he re-arranges the contents of the nearly-empty pizza boxes and sandwhich bags. All that remains of Interceptor's feast are two full pizza boxes (full of various odds and ends), and two sandwhiches - a testimony to the appetites of hungry novas. The discarded huge stack of empty pizza boxes and various garbage cease to exist after a dismissive wave from Alchemist, as he sits back at the table.

As he sits calmly back down, the lab doors open once more and in comes Jack and Greg, the cameraman and 'grand inquisitor' (interviewer) that N! has assigned to the Knights.

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April mutters, "Man, and I'm still hungry ..."

With a look of mild concentration, she goes abruptly still for a second, then explodes into motion. A sudden, swooping blur later, and she alights on the ground as Greg Frist enters - one of the two remaining boxes of pizza now emptied, broken down flat, and slid under the remaining box.

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From the far end of the lab, Greg waves at the group of Novas. He turns to his cameraman, Jack, telling him how to set up the shot. While his back is turned, he misses the flurry of motion from April and BlackStar.

Approaching now with his on-air face, he opens with a standard introduction. "Below the team's headquarters, the two brainiacs, Alchemist and Bandwidth, have their own headquarters. This is the Alchemist's laboratory. It's been doing double duty recently as the team's gathering point, since it's the most finished room in the base."

As he says this, he walks slowly towards the group, with the camera pointing at him from one side. As he finishes, he arrives at the table. Jack stays well back so that he gets a decent group shot.

He turns first to Alchemist, who is standing on that side of the table. Greg moves forward and shakes Alchemist's hand.

"Mr. Roberts. You've stated before that you are something of a private man. How are you taking the use of your lab as a dining hall?"

Alchemist gives Greg a rueful look and replies, "About as well as I'm taking it being used as a recording studio." After a moment of Greg's chagrined smile, Alchemist continues. "And please, call me Glenn, or Alchemist. Really, I don't mind. Before I came here, I was the head of a research facility. I don't mind having other people in my lab, as long as I'm able to get my work done."

Greg smiles, and sighs with inward relief. Alchemist was going to be cooperative this time.

Turning away from the scientist, Greg moves next to address the whole table. "So, tell me what you think of Chicago so far. What do the city's newest defenders think of their new home?"

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Growing uncomfortable with the lengthy (to her) silence, April shrugs and descends out of the air - touching toe to the seat of an open chair, then dropping into a loose crouch. She must still be half-flying, since her position looks incredibly uncomfortable and may, in fact, defy gravity.

"Well ... so Chicago isn't really new to me, since I've lived here since I was, like, two. But I think people have been really great about this. I mean, we've had some little things with unions and licensing and stuff, but all of that's pretty much been cleared up. Really, everyone's been totally cooperative, and most of the problems were all our fault anyway."

Smiling broadly as she glances at the others for confirmation, she adds with a laugh, "This isn't really something we've done before, y'know? And this is all great for me, too. My dad's family is here, friends of the family, all that, and it's really just great to be doing this at home, y'know?

Momentarily breaking into a mischievous grin, April looks at the camera, waves, and says, "Hi Mom!" before continuing:

"Really, I'm just glad this came along when it did. I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with myself, and then ... here I am! Perfect. I mean, they offered to pay me to run around helping out the people and the city that I've known all my life. I honestly can't think of anything I'd rather be doing."

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Alchemist sits out the remainder of the interview carried out in his lab. He's already said his piece, and the interview mostly covers old ground anyway. He doesn't like repeating himself.

Eventually, Greg leaves, as does everyone else, leaving Alchemist to return to his work.


Time passes, and things change. Alchemist no longer hears the sound of construction from above. Though the base is not quite finished, it mostly just needs furnishing and electronics installed.

As usual, Alchemist is in a corner of the lab, working something that only he would recognize.

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DigiGeist wanders around the streets of Chicago like a drifter. His white bodysuit of eufiber covered by a black coat with a high neck collar. Something he scored when on a job in Japan. It's beaten-up and scuffed a bit from his recent run. There's even a couple bullet holes in the left side. That pissed him off.

"Ah, here it is..." Digi arrives at the fron entrance of what soon will be the team home for Alchemist and his friends. He knocks on the front door, politely, but loudly. 3 sharp knocks.

"Hey! Mr. Alchemist!"

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Alchemist cocks his head to the side. Somebody upstairs just called his name. Must be time for another 'house meeting'.

Wandering upstairs, Alchemist doesn't find his teammates gathered in central command (the multimedia board room), so he's about to head back to his lab when Digi knocks on the door again.

Opening the door, Alchemist greets his guest. "Hello. Guessing by the ears, and the bullet holes in your jacket, you must be DigiGeist. Come on in."

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Alchemist glances around at the factory-turned-headquarters. It is nicely decorated, with an extra-high ceiling, wide doorways, and plush carpet in a neutral color. The walls are recently painted, but most of the furniture is still missing.

Off to one side is the lounge, where a couple of couches and comfortable chairs are gathered around a big screen, and opnet access pads lie around the room. On the other side of the hall from the entrance is a dining room, with a full sized kitchen behind that.

Sounds of activity can be heard from within the base.

"Yeah, well, the work is still ongoing. At least they've got my new carpets installed. Watch." Alchemist steps to a small panel on the wall, and after a short sequence of button presses, the carpet becomes green. Then blue. Then eye-melting orange. Then plaid. Then back to a neutral beige.

"A failed attempt at active camouflage, but a neat party trick. And the decorators loved it."

Alchemist gestures towards the end of the hallway, where an open door leads towards the downstairs area. "To the lab?"

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"Should be fun... Let's go." Then DigiGeist pauses for a second... "You know, if you patch the carpeting into the security system, you could have a VERY effective warning system... but i digress."

"So, when do you think this place'll be up and running?" DigiGeist says, taking in the layout of the complex as he walks along. "I can't wait to see you guys in action. That is... unless you guys don't mind me working with you guys as a member."

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  • 2 weeks later...

As they talk, Alchemist leads DigiGeist into the basement lab. "We're already actively helping the local police and we're set up to assist in emergency situations. No emergencies have come up yet, though. The base is pretty much finished. There's still some work going on, but for the most part our headquarters is up and running."

"We won't have any real jurisdictional power until the contract signing, and it's up to the lawyers and legislators when that will be. They keep telling us 'soon'. It's been 'soon' for a couple of months now. As for joining up, it just means more that I get to build."

Reaching the open lab door, Alchemist shows DigiGeist in.

"Come on in. I know the decor is a bit drab, but it's all very sturdy and it keeps the room quiet. Except for the echo. Maybe I should add carpetting..." Alchemist's eyes lose their focus for a moment, and then quickly snap back to DigiGeist. "Sorry, bad habit. So, given your proclivities, we should look at the body armor before the explosives, right?"

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DigiGeist smirks.

"Body armor... those were the days. I've been soaking up too much lead lately. I'm suprised the EPA hasn't turned my body into a superfund project." He says, laughing.

"Although, I'm not one for explosives. I'm more of a stealthy type. I need my mobility just as much as I need protection. After all, whenever I go into "repair mode", I tend to be out of action in a coma for a while. So, the longer I can stay in a fight if I get in one the better. That, and if you got the tools to get the job done, if it's a rescue or anything, I'm game too."

His smile is undenyable now. "I love the toys. as it were. Oh... I don't mind the decor. Function should always trump form. Then again, I'm not an engineer."

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Alchemist stares at DigiGeist for a moment, and Digi can almost feel Alchemist's perceptions piercing him. Then he shakes his head and sighs.

"You mean you don't bother wearing armor into potential combat situations anymore, just because you can regenerate? You're not bulletproof. Heck, at least Amped could dodge them. You just get shot down, and you're lucky nobody's killed you permanently yet. Given the number of times you've died - just the ones you've announced publicly, mind you - I should fit you for heavy power armor, stealth be damned. But you probably wouldn't let me anyway, so I'll just get you one of the team's new jumpsuits."

Alchemist goes over to a cabinet and draws a small diagram. It clicks open and he removes a grey jumpsuit. Comparing it quickly against DigiGeist's frame, he closes the cabinet and lays it out on a bench nearby.

"What do you want it to look like?"

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  • 1 month later...

"Hm. I'm gonna kill the whole "overwhelming black" Idea. Perhaps a suit with a changible color system would be nice.

I have preferred full bodysuits... but I have... reservations. I've never been one for the "spandex hero" look. That's why I usually wear a coat over my eufiber, or have clothing over it.

Perhaps if you can make it look more like a tactical jumpsuit. Lots of loops and whatnot for attaching equipment and all.

Yep, call me practical."

DigiGeist smiles. It hasn't been often when he could just relax. Let his real personality out.

"Just make the suit body-tight or at the very least without any baggyness. Baggy things get caught in vent-shafts VERY easily."

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"Didn't you just say you didn't go for the spandex look?"

Alchemist hands the suit to DigiGeist. "And it's already a tactical jumpsuit. I know your type. You'll probably wear it under a trenchcoat most of the time. Not that I'm one to talk."

Alchemist pulls aside the breast of his labcoat to reveal a black jumpsuit.

"Yours has all the loops you could ask for, each one concealed in its own pocket so it can't get caught on sharp edges until it's being used. Two concealed holsters that will mask the shape of a gun as body muscle. They work best if you use both. Hidden pockets of various sizes, the largest one will hold a small terminal in the small of your back. This suit has custom wiring for gargoyle work, but not the electronics. Talk to Bandwidth about those. Also, it works as completely non-restrictive body armor, a lot like real eufiber does when it's fully charged. And if you want to change the color scheme, there's a dataport built into the wrist, and wiring to connect it to the pocket on the small of your back. I designed most of the suits to use a wristcomp, but I figured you would want a bit more computing power than that."

Alchemist finishes this speach quickly and efficiently, as if he's given it more than once.

"And if you think I haven't told you everything about the suit, you're right. It's not like I have time to write an instruction manual. Would you like the rest of the standard kit?"

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"What's the "standard kit", Q? Oh, and the color change stuff... bingo."

Digi jibes.

"And this don't look like black spandex. I actually wore something like this in my Interpol days. People thought I was weird, but then again, I was the only one on operations that never got spotted..."

He feels the material.

"A type of polymer?"

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Alchemist grins. He loves explaining his toys. "There are a few polymers in there. The material is heavily layered and interwoven. The weave itself does as much work as the materials."

"As for the standard kit..."

Alchemist moves on to another part of the lab. From three drawers, he removes three pieces of equipment. The first is flat, rectangular, and looks like a Star Trek data pad. "You get a micro-terminal that will attach to the wrist of either hand on your suit."

Alchemist taps the display on the device, and it sounds quite solid. "The surface is more resistant to damage than the suit, so you don't need to worry about breaking it in combat."

Setting that down on the table, he unlocks a drawer with a particularly complex series of symbols, and takes out the next object. It is a round disc, made of what looks like solid metal, except for a standard data port on one edge and a round 9mm hole on the other. "This is the transmitter, reciever, and battery pack for the suit. It's as close to indestructible as anything I've ever made. The batteries will last roughly a hundred years at maximum output. Maximum output isn't all that much, though. The round hole is for the antenna that's built into the suit, but just about any antenna that picks up EM transmissions will work. It goes in the pocket of the jumpsuit over your heart. The data port sticks out a bit because it's also a button. Push it three times in a second to activate the homing beacon. It doesn't need to be hooked up to anything for that part to work."

The last drawer is unlocked, and holds several small safety-orange pouches, each the size of an MRE. The have clips on one side so that they can be easily attached to a uniform, and there is a black zipper on the top. "And this is your emergency field kit. There are all kinds of useful goodies in here. Mostly medical and survival stuff. I suggest you keep it handy if you're going to be dealing with emergency situations. You might be able to survive gunshots, but this kit will save a baseline's life if you know how to use it. It comes with instructions detailing everything in there."

Alchemist steps back to allow DigiGeist to pick up the proferred equipment. "Since we're not an enforcement agency, I don't normally issue sidearms. If you can reasonably expect to get yourself into trouble that a gun would get you out of, there are a lot of better weaponmakers than me. I always recommend top-quality tools. Bandwidth and I have worked out some other electronics that are available on request, like a portable supercomputer and Heads-up-display contacts."

"Have any requests? I did ask you out here to play guinneapig, and get ideas for new equipment."

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DigiGeist looks over the gear. Quite impressed.

"Heh. You do have quite the set of gear... Actually, what other sorts of safety gear you got? I sort of like to know what's in the storage room as it were.

As for being a Guinea pig... don't worry about it. I've had worse happen to me. Trust me."

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"Well, I'm not one to give away ALL my surprises, but I've got plenty of things for emergencies. Where to start? Well, I doubt you would be interested in the equipment designed for flyers, titans, and tanks, so I'll stick to the basics."

"My safety equipment falls into three categories. Preventative, curative, and retrieval. A lot of it is multi-purposed, since I prefer to have a lot of utility in a small package. Some of it has been field tested, but not all that much. I'll be showing some of my prototypes from the retrieval field."

Alchemist goes over to to one of the island-tables in the middle of the lab, and opens one side like a door. Inside, DigiGeist can see various colorful objects with both obvious and mysterious functions, strewn about on several shelves.

From the cabinet, Alchemist removes a length of robe, some gloves, several crystal and plastic tubes and containers, and a black plastic cube, halfway between a baseball and a basketball in size.

"The gloves are for climbing. They've got microscopic hooks built into the surface. Like sharkskin, if sharks had naturally developed apawe. In theory, you should be able to do a decent impression of spiderman with them. I haven't tested them yet, though."

"The rope is ten feet long, but when current is applied, it can stretch to almost a thousand feet. There's a small battery and a dial at the bottom. The battery should last for six hours or so, it's a simple D cell available just about everywhere. The adjuster isn't well labelled, but it's exponential, right to lengthen, left to shorten. I've only tested it out to one hundred twenty feet, twice the length of my lab."

Holding up a plastic cylinder, Alchemist says, "This tube holds a form of super adhesive. I call it a liquid grappling hook. The tube breaks on impact, and the adhesive expands, latching onto everything nearby, including any rope that happens to be tied to this loop. The adhesive only lasts for about two or three hours in an oxygen rich environment, and will hold at most five hundred pounds. I don't suggest using it with the extendable rope, simply because the adhesive leaves behind a rather nasty-smelling residue that's hard to wash off. I haven't field tested it yet."

Alchemist puts that down and moves to the short crystal rods. "These are rather fun. They're flares. Or strobe grenades. Or lightsticks. Depends on how you crack them. If you break it in half, it acts as a lightstick, about as bright as a streetlamp for an hour. If you slam one end against a hard surface, it will take three seconds and then flare up like an arclight for a few minutes, visible for miles. If you shatter it, say by throwing at something full strength, it will take between one and five seconds before each shard goes up like a flash grenade."

Alchemist points to one of the containers he dug out. It's clear plastic, and filled with blue marbles. "Those are dietary supplements. They taste like blueberry pie. I'm working on getting an entire meal in one pill. For some reason, no one on the team has been willing to try them. I think it has something to do with Bandwidth showing 'Willy Wonka' on movie night."

Alchemist points at the other box, also containing blue marbles. DigiGeist notices that neither box is labelled, and the marbles look suspiciously similar. "Those are super-solvent capsules. Usefull for putting holes in places where drilling or super-strength would be too dangerous, and I'm not available to get the matter out of the way. There's a dispenser in one of my drawers somewhere. It has to be made out of diamond, or else it corrodes."

Alchemist grabs the cube and starts twisting it like a rubiks cube. There's no apparent difference between the sides of the cube, and no seams before or after each twist. However, after three twists, the cube inflates into a backpack made from the same black plastic. "That's one of my favorites. It's made of memory plastics, and it's got several predefined shapes built in. If you press here-" poke-whoosh, it returns to cube form "-it reverts back to the neutral form. From here, you can turn it into a backpack, a parachute, a raft, a hanglider, and a few other useful items. It's not incredibly sturdy, but it's very versatile. It can take any shape that doesn't have moving parts, within volume limits. And the micro power source is one of my custom jobs."

"That's just stuff from my search-and-rescue inventory. But it's probably the most useful for you. So, do you have any requests?"

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DigiGeist's smile cannot be measured by standard means, it's more of an expression one uses when a whole world of possibilities have been opened.

"You have quite the pallette, Alchemist. All of it is quite useful. Can't wait to see how I can make use of it... What can I say, I'm a sucker for stuff like this."

He starts playing around with the black cube.

"You you have a name for this yet... because if you don't I just thought of one... The Philosopher's Stone. Named in your honor." He says with a grin.

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