Chapter 14. A Bum, a Bomb and a Belle
He told people to call him “Lone Wolf”, but the nature of the man was akin to more of a walking pumpkin than a predator.
An anti-government oriented conspiracy theorist. His long-held out belief that JFK was, in fact, still alive. And in reality, the President was kidnapped and a clone shot in his place. Then continuously held prisoner by a nebulous group, possibly aliens to prevent research in clean energy and real ships like that existed in science fiction.
These were points he had no evidence, he admitted. But he had found articles and opinions he had read on the internet.
Walter “Lone Wolf” Whitbred, chewed on a handful of almonds.
“So.” Another handful of nuts. “You are telling me this guy says he is an android and you believe him with no evidence?”
Alvin looked quizzically at the leader of the small group of conspiracy theorists.
“You accept that the President meets regularly with aliens, but you have doubts this man here is an android?” Alvin shook his head. “Even the Wild Weasel would stooge-slap you through the forums.”
“Wild Weasel?” Steven asked.
“Handle of a hacker who lives at the other end of the runway. He’s a hermit.” Alvin whispered out of the side of his mouth.
Walter looked at Stephen for a long moment.
Alvin looked at Steve and shrugged.
“Show him like you showed me.”
The change was abrupt, the brown hair colored to black as he became a short, broad Asian woman, then to a tall, blue-eyed, red-headed fugitive from some Celt legend.
Walter uttered profanity at each change when Steve went through a pantheon of shapes, changing from male to female, covering the small percentage of human shapes and hues from the database in a few minutes.
Steve sat down and spoke gently.
“I need to recharge, that takes a lot of energy.” He looked across the table. “Are those chocolate candy bars? May I have three?”
“Knock yourself out.” A stunned geek said while he shook his head. “Dude do you know how much someone would pay for that? Can you record anything you see?”
“Everything.” Steve responded. “Anything I see. I am able to see from in the light spectrum of one-hundred micrometers to zero point one nanometers, so I see a lot.”
“Nanometer range? You can see in UV!”
“Yes.” Steve did not understand why Alvin laughed.
“Walter, you are being General Obvious now.” Alvin chuckled. “Now, we have a problem that needs your attention to take care of.
Alvin explained the recent history of discoveries, Steve the Android ate candy bars and filled in gaps while Walter paced around holding his head as if it were all too much to take in.
“My head hurts.” Walter moaned. “Everything I have ever worried about, killer robots, smart cars that serve the government to spy on us.”
“Sleeper does not serve the government.” Alvin said.
“Sleeper? Sleeper!?” Walter gaped. “You named it?”
“It was named by other cars.” Steve said calmly.
“Other!?” Walter’s voice was high-pitched and strangled. Then he sat down heavily. “Oh… shit.”
“Have I said something wrong?” Steve asked Alvin.
“No,” Alvin chuckled. “You showed someone with a thread of paranoia in his brain at all times, finds out that he was not as paranoid as anyone ever thought.”
“Do you know what this means?” Walter’s voice was tremulous. “The government has spied on us for… Oh my god! I don’t know how long! How old is that car you bought? Is it new?” Walter began to tap on a flexible screen on his palm sized computer.
A metal frame around the room began to rattle down in tracks welded into tall steel posts. A copper mesh covered every inch of the mobile wall, except for the solid steel door that the one called Lone Wolf, who now whimpered like a puppy, invited them to enter. Inside, a copper framed screen door he built into the cage backed up against the steel door.
“A Faraday cage, no signals in, no signals out. How does that make you feel Tin Man?” Walter addressed Steve the android. “A little woozy? Like you lost signal? Can’t have your human driver pushing buttons to tell you what to do?”
“I feel no change, am I supposed to?” Steve looked quizzically at Walter. “No human drives me, I am autonomous. I have one program left that I cannot alter. The program requires me to reach the James Madison power generation unit near the Capital.”
“The closest power facility in Washington is underneath the White House and it’s power cell driven, alien tech and gives free power from the earth’s magnetic fields.” Walter walked around and pointed at maps on the wall with push-pins and strings. A technological counterpoint to the displays and computers that littered the inside of the abandoned building.
“The government has had the tech to give us all free power for dozens of years.” Turning to Alvin. “How old is your car? A dozen? That’s how long the government has had the power generation perfected.”
“No, it is older than that.” Steve said.
“It’s pre-war tech.” Alvin added.
“What war?” Walter stopped in mid-rant.
“Last century, west coast?” Alvin slowly spoke the words to maximize the impact.
“Ho..Ly.. Shhhh… “ Walter paused. “Bull! No, they have not had the tech that long.”
“This car, built by the Terran Green Machine corporation, by components designed and built by a small sub-contractor company, NeverFail.” Steve informed both men.
“How do you know this?” Walter eyed the android suspiciously.
“Sleeper told me.”
“Sleeper?” Walter stroked his chin.
“The car, Walter.” Alvin said.
“I told you not to call me that! Lone Wolf or just Wolf.” Walter said, his face flushing red.
“The car uses a Gi-bus system.” Steve the Android told Walter. “It was extremely advanced systems then, it is comparable to what I use now, a balanced ternary operating hardware system. The car is more massive than mine and draws about three times the power. There are signs of corrosion and failed circuits.”
“Failed?” Alvin asked.
“Yes, the circuits failed recently, the power was off at the time and the reason is not recorded.”
“Um… That might be my doing.” Alvin admitted. “I pulled some plugs, broke a few wires.”
“That would explain the inaccessible files in the memory, the connections will need repair or replacement.” Steve turned to Walter and following his desired name. “Me Lone Wolf, we need your best minds in the group to build a flesh covered robot for one mission.”
“No, not Me Lone Wolf.” Walter blustered. “You make me sound like an Asian Lupus, call me just Wolf, Okay?”
“Okay, call you Just Wolf.” The android nodded. “I will store that in permanent memory.”
Alvin caught a surreptitious glance from Steve. The android was learning humor.
“Right.” Walter nodded. “Now, how do we build a robot to do what you do? We can build one, but they all are obviously what they are. Most use treads and never use transporters.”
“We can just build a singular program. No countries scan people for this kind of explosive.” Alvin said.
“Now what about this bomb you are telling me about?” Walter asked.
“Steve?” Alvin looked at the android.
“The warhead is one point one milligrams of antimatter by weight.” Steve turned towards Just Wolf and spoke without blinking while he stared at him. “This has a nominal yield of eight-thousand six hundred pounds of TNT as America measures it.”
“Jeezzzuz.” Walter mumbled. “And it is where?”
“Below my ribcage by thirty millimeters. Near where they molded in a belly button. Should the local police shoot, they shoot center mass of a torso and it the creator considered a high chance level of hitting the container and causing an explosion. The creator estimated the total devastation range at four-hundred meter radius.”
“That’s over twelve-hundred feet! In one direction.” Alvin gasped. ”You didn’t tell me that at my shop.”
“You didn’t ask.” Steve said innocently.
“Okay, okay. So how do we get this…” Walter stopped. “How do we get this bomb out of you without blowing ourselves up?”
“It is self-powered for a short time, it can last three days without external power safely. It also has a permanent magnet core as a backup, but it is temperature and shock sensitive.”
“How sensitive?” Alvin asked.
“Dead circuits? Without power, an impact on a solid surface at greater than three meters per second would suffice.”
“How do you get that kind of energy?” Walter asked.
“A drop from one meter.” Steve answered.
“A drop from your card table over there.” Steve pointed where a half-eaten pizza sat.
“Jeeezzzuss.” Alvin whispered. “My mom got mad once when I dropped a glass of milk off the table, this is a lot worse.”
“Alvin, just shut it.” Walter shook his head. “I need to smoke some weed.”
“You don’t smoke weed.” Alvin said.
“I’m going to start.” Walter shook his head. “So what kind of android or robot are we going to build, where are we going to send it.”
Steve stared at the two humans.
“My point of origin, make it appear female. I will make the basic program.” Steve instructed.
“Okay, a pretty girl?”
“Indeed.” Steve’s eyes blinked twice. “I have the trigger and we can grow the flesh to cover her well enough to pass cursory inspection.”
“We need some help.” Walter muttered tapped on his palm screen for a moment.
“Okay, I have Opticon coming, Thor and his girlfriend the Lady Sif, Burning Chip, and Running Man are all on their way.” The conspiracy fanatic said. “The Belle of the Bomb will be built here and we will program it to make her way back to your home.”
“Just Wolf,” Steve almost smiled when Alvin glance at him. “Is it wise to tell so many people of the work to be done?”
“They are the safest bunch to bring in. And don’t call me Just Wolf,” Walter looked up. “The name’s just Wolf.”
“Understood, your name is Just Wolf.” Steve repeated.
“Right, don’t mess it up.” Walter grumped with finality.
Alvin nearly hurt himself trying not to laugh.