Isolation: Part 8

I thought about it a little longer and realized that it might be easy. Using my implant, I asked Hal, Do you have any data on camouflage or invisibility devices that Major Justice made for the military?

Hal’s reply appeared in my HUD.

[I have access to records of every device Major Justice made for the military. I can send you the specifications and testing data.]

I’m guessing this comes from a place we don’t officially have access to as opposed to the supers databases?

[You’re correct. I won access from a military AI.]

You’re… gambling with secrets?

[Information is the only currency that matters to us.]

I get that, but what have you lost?

[I only gamble with past employers’ secrets and knowledge about galactic civilization. Your world should find it useful.]

I felt Daniel’s interest even as I saw his eyes widen as he stopped talking to Izzy to look at me. If it helps, he thought at me, I don’t sense any direct and immediate danger from it. In fact, there’s a short term increased chance of our survival in a lot of our futures—maybe even this one.

I didn’t have time to push on this and, honestly, improving our chances of survival sounded good.

Hey, I told Hal, we need to talk about this later. If nothing else, I’d like to know what information’s gone out—especially if I don’t know it.

[Your implant knows all of it, but I can squirt you a list whenever you like.]

Great. Please do, but for now I’d like to know  about Major Justice’s inventions, starting with his invisibility work. Oh, and what kind of game was it?

[Poker, but more complicated.]

I wanted to know more, but my implant notified me of an imminent data dump from Hal—which I accepted and ended the conversation, becoming more conscious of my surroundings again, specifically that almost the entire team had gathered near me.

I opened the data packet, seeing the entire list of projects Major Justice had done, most of which had gone to special forces—both mundane and metahuman.

The invisibility device, though? Part of me hoped it was cloak, but it wasn’t even if it was close. If anything, it reminded me of a plastic raincoat—the cheap kind. The ones that are a thin sheet of plastic with plastic buttons and fit in a pocket on your backpack.

Major Justice’s invisibility suit included pants in addition to the sheet, but aside from turning a person invisible, that was all the difference. 

Looking at the materials, I wasn’t sure it would survive a fight, but I supposed that there were a lot of situations where you’d only be wanting to sneak in somewhere.

All the same, I realized that I could configure the team’s sensors to detect them. It wouldn’t even need a code update, just a change in the emphasis the HUD gave to displaying information.

From the tests, it appeared that Major Justice’s invisibility suit did well at making people disappear into the background, but didn’t do as well with hiding heat. It did it, but there were limits. The material also appeared to absorb sound—which was interesting.

It might be paranoid, but it almost seemed as if it had always been intended to be used against me.

“I’ve got it,” I said to everyone around. “Everyone wearing one of my suits will get a notification of a configuration change in a second. You can revert it if you have to.”

Jaclyn crossed her arms over her chest, “Why would we revert it?”

“Well, I’m placing more emphasis on heat and less on visuals and heat’s all over. Plus humans don’t always end up human-shaped in thermal images… Basically, once the fighting begins and invisibility stops working, thermal images might be confusing. The sonics might help with definition, but not at the speeds you move.”

Letting out at breath, Jaclyn said, “Okay. I guess I’ll work with it.”

Adam looked around the group, “I’ll be able to help with that. The fairies I work with can’t see them perfectly, but they can see them. We can lead you in.”

Haley looked over at me, “What about smell?”

I ran through the information again, “I don’t see anything in Major Justice’s specs that tries to prevent smells from getting out. It’s kind of a forgotten sense.”

She flashed a brief smile, “Then I might be able to find them anyway.”

Looking over at Adam, she added, “Do you know where they are? If we can take out Major Justice, we might be able to end the fight before it gets going.”

Adam shook his head, “You know how I said fairies aren’t very smart? They’re not going to figure that out without seeing him.”

“I think I can,” Daniel said. “We can go out in the direction where we’re most likely to run into him for sure. If they haven’t all loaded up on mental shields, it will be even easier.”

Not speaking loudly, but still loudly enough, Haley said, “I caught Major Justice’s scent when he visited the office. As long as we can get close enough, I’ll find him.”

“This still sounds iffy,” I said, “but I think if Daniel leads us out the right direction, Haley might be able to catch his scent?”

There were too many points of potential failure for me to be happy with the idea even as I said it, but it was something.

13 thoughts on “Isolation: Part 8”

  1. I sometimes wonder how much time I should spend on the nuts and bolts of plans, but I feel like invisibility will be hard enough to deal with that it will be necessary to get a bit detailed about how they’re going to try to deal with it.

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    1. Wasn’t the original plan to avoid starting the fight? I thought they decided it would be better to be seen as the defenders and not as aggressors.

  2. It’s kind of a forgotten scent.

    That looks wrong for where it is. Maybe: He kind of forgot scent.
    Or something like that.

    1. Somewhere in the universe, there’s a record of every time I decided to use one word, changed my mind, and failed to notice I’d forgotten to delete the first one. I suspect knowing the total number of times would make me sad.

  3. Hmmm. If a material “absorbs sound”, wouldn’t it seem “black” to sonar? Materials normally reflect sound, and thus, to sonar, they would appear more or less “shiny” depending on how reflective they are: hard substances like metal, plastic and glass would generally appear shinier/brighter, and soft substances like fabrics or foam panels would appear darker/duller. So if you wrapped someone in the sonic equivalent of Vanta Black, they should actually stand out like a sore thumb against any halfway-reflective background. Like, if you dress in all black, you can hide easily against a black curtain, but would have a very hard time hiding in front of a white curtain (or one of those metallic thermal blankets). So, really, something that was sonically invisible would need to behave the same way to sound that something that was normal-invisible would behave to light — by making the thing being hidden effectively transparent to the energy that would normally reflect off of it.

    Also, fun side-effect: the more capable a substance is of absorbing any kind of energy, the faster it will heat up when bombarded with that energy. Nick’s sonic cannons could easily make things too hot too handle for anyone wearing the invisibility ponchos, and it’s possible Izzy could set them all on fire in an instance. 🙂


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