Faerieland: Part 19

We walked back to the lab without saying anything more. In books I’ve seen people described as “walking together in companionable silence.” I don’t think that this was it.  This was more, “I’ve accepted your apology, but I still don’t know what to say to you,” silence.

When we got back, I walked straight to the Rocket suit, and did what I probably should have done before I walked to the storage room. I stepped on top of the ceramic block, and activated it from the stealth suit.

It assembled around my body, connections formed between the stealth suit and the full suit.  Messages scrolled down my HUD, assuring me that system integration between the two suits was working, that suit integrity was at 100%, and that life support, repair, flight, and weapons systems were functional.

It gave a list of what armaments were on board, and then the HUD printed the word, “READY.”

I hadn’t realized how tense I must have been feeling without the full Rocket suit, but when I saw the word appear on the screen, I found my muscles relaxing.

It wasn’t irrational either. I could take a lot more punishment in the full version.

“Ready?” Haley asked.

“That’s what my HUD tells me,” I said.

She glanced over at Samita, Sean, Vaughn, and Amy and back to me. “This is how I see it. The plan is that we get to the router, take it over, and send a distress call to the teachers. In order for us to do that, we have to find the router. That one’s on you, right?”

“Yeah. I was thinking I’d use the suit’s sonar to find the network cable trays and then go in the direction where the number of cables in the tray increases each time I pass a new hallway.”

Haley frowned. “Great. Lots of sonar. Maybe you should go in front.”

I noted that she was still in regular clothes. “Do you have your costume?”

“Nope. That’s back in my room. I didn’t expect to need it during dinner.”

I thought about that.

Not letting me finish, she said, “Don’t worry about getting me a new costume. I’m going to stay hidden and stay out of the way. You should be worried about yourself. If we meet something dangerous and you’re in that,” she pointed at the suit, “you’ll have to fight it.”

She was right. Getting  her costume would mean going to her room, and theoretically fighting everyone in the program. We didn’t need the distraction.

All the same, I’d feel better if she had any kind of armor. I considered putting together a stealth suit for her out of materials I had in the lab, but guessed it would take too long too.

Haley nodded toward everyone. “C’mon.”

And what could I say? There wasn’t anything else to do.

We left.

I walked ahead of everyone. It didn’t take much to follow the network cables. For the first section of hallway they hung off to the right side near the top.

As we walked further, our footsteps (or at least mine) echoing in the hallway, the metal tray holding the cables disappeared into a hole in the wall.

I stared at the spot, zooming in, and making the suit fire off the sonics, using the suit’s computer to create a picture of a room.

The picture in my HUD showed a room with roughness along the far wall that had to be cables–or so I guessed from the fact that the roughness led upward, disappearing into the ceiling.

Next to the wall of cables stood a rack that I guessed held servers, and probably a router and a switch.

I checked the room against the map of the compound my system had access to. It didn’t include this room. That was probably a good sign.

What wasn’t good was that the room didn’t appear to have a door.  Presumably Earthmover himself intended to create one as needed to service the area. Also, when you considered that this was  a compound, it could easily be that they had teleportation available with one phone call to the right person.

Unfortunately, we did not.

On the other hand, it wasn’t as if the wall was completely impossible to get through. It was more a question of how to get in while doing the least damage inside the room.

Sure, I could punch through the wall with tons of force, but if I happened to pass along tons of force to a rock flying in the direction of the router we were hoping to hack, we were screwed.

Fortunately, I had an idea or two.

Everyone arrived as I stood there. I’d started warming up the suit’s laser even before they stopped.

Amy tapped the wall with her mail glove. “This is it?”

“Dude,” Sean asked, “where’s the door?” He looked at the flat wall as if expecting one to appear.

“I’ve got to make one. Is anybody comfortable catching a several hundred pound chunk of rock? It might be as much as a ton. I haven’t done the calculations yet.”

With a laugh, Vaughn said, “No.”

Haley stepped up. “I can.”

Amy looked down at her. She was more than a foot taller after her transformation. “Seriously?”

I didn’t bother to argue. Haley could. I just hoped we wouldn’t attract any attention in the process.

22 thoughts on “Faerieland: Part 19”

  1. Having no door seems like a bit much for the closet where you keep the router, but one place where I worked, they had it in a closet in the basement. Interestingly the door locked automatically, and so when the guy from the phone company came to turn on the internet access, he went into the closet, and the door locked behind him.

    Strangely, it didn’t unlock from the inside–only the outside. Thus, when he finished his work, he couldn’t get out.

    His phone, of course was useless due to being surrounded by concrete on all sides. Somehow he couldn’t make use of the internet access that he’d been installing.

    He ended up in the closet for half a day before he happened to shout enough at the right time that someone heard him.

    Crazy, eh?

    On a completely different note, feel free to continue to vote at TWF…

  2. I think this counts as ‘serious network security’. [grin]

    I’ve heard of ‘air gap’ security, but ‘stone wall’ security somehow seems more reliable…

    “Super heroes, making your network insecure for decades.” [grin]


    “It gave a list of what armaments were on board the system” – should that be ‘on board the suit’? Or the ‘combined suit’? I’m not sure about this, as I think ‘system’ is technically correct…

    “go in the direction where the number of cables in the tray joins up with other cables becomes larger” – is there a word or several missing, or does this need rephrasing?

    “using the suit’s computer to create a picture of the room” – should that be ‘a room’, because until he images it he doesn’t know that there’s a room there?

    “it could easily be that they had a teleportation available” – should that be ‘had teleportation’, or ‘had a teleporter’?

  3. “It gave a list of what armaments were on board the syiy”

    syiy = suit?

    Also, you use the word ‘suit’ a whole lot in one section, enough to be irksome. Maybe use ‘armor’ or other ways to describe it?

    Hasn’t Amy seen Haley fight? A few hundred pounds isn’t going to be a challenge for most melee fighters. I could maybe see that reaction if Nick had said a few thousand pounds.

  4. I find it interesting that he’s going to cut into the room with a laser, but have Hayley catch it. How is he going to make it such that the doorway he cuts out will fall outwards, not inwards? With superhuman strength Hayley can punch handholds into the concrete to get leverage, but won’t the concrete crumble with the weight of the slab of doorway itself? I’m looking forward to see what solution Nick and co. come up with.

    It gave a list of what armaments were on board the syiy – What’s a syiy?

  5. Kaeyl: I have no idea how “syiy” got in there. For the moment I’m going to blame my cat. I’m not doing this because it’s likely to be his fault, but on general principle.

    Farmerbob1: I don’t think Amy has seen Haley lift that much. Also, I wavered on how much the chunk of rock weighs, and based Amy’s reaction on my first thoughts.

    Dreamer/everyone: thanks for the typos.

    Roger W: I heard about that server. It’s a testament to Novell’s stability that they didn’t need to find it earlier.

  6. If I was going to lock a tech in a closet, I would at least want to lock a competent one! And if I did manage to lock a competent one, I think I’d keep him there – where I could find him when I needed him.

  7. @Kaeyl Angle the edges as you cut so it only fits outwards.

    Everyone – you should read the BOfH 🙂

  8. Kaeyl, as Roger said, angle the edges. Specifically, make the cut like you are trying to carve the base of a pyramid. All four of the inside edges would be of a smaller dimension than the outer ones. The slab can only move in one direction, towards the person cutting. Or you can do it as a more rounded shape, in a cone.

  9. Jim, you went from lots of mentioning ‘armor’, to lots of mentioning ‘suit’ and no mentioning armor. Six uses of ‘suit’ in 4 sentences now.


  10. @ Roger W and Farmerbob1
    That works. I need to train myself to be more technical minded and not just see solutions in superpowers. Thanks!

  11. Jim-

    Do you have a list of the books Nick reads throughout this series? I think it would be interesting to follow along with him. For example, although Discworld has long been on my list, I finally tracked down a copy after seeing Nick reading it toward the beginning of the story. What else does your main character reccomend?

    Personally I didn’t think Discworld really lived up to the hype, but I suspect it’s at least partly because it inspired and informed everything else that came after it. Also partly because of Halo, which I think is both derivative and superior all at once.

    1. I should make a list, I suppose, but I haven’t. I tend to choose based on what I imagine might be his reading tastes.

      Off the top of my head, I remember him reading Ringworld, The Ringworld Engineers, Kiln People… I know the Harry Potter series has been referenced. I’d like to think I’ve mentioned Starship Troopers by now, but who knows?

  12. Warren Report, you found all of Discworld in one book (“a copy”)? There are dozens of novels set in Discworld and most of them are absolutely hilarious. The first couple less so, I think. Those with Vimes, like Guards! Guards!, and those with Moist, Going Postal, are great, in my opinion.

  13. Yeah. I was wondering which Discworld book Warren Report had read too–especially when comparing it to Halo as I could see comparing Starship Troopers to the videogame series Halo in that way. Discworld, by contrast, is satirical fantasy so I was little confused about that–unless there’s a satirical fantasy named Halo that I’m unaware of.

  14. So after a few weeks of reading I sadly caught and wow that was a ride I really look forward for the chapters to come 🙂

  15. I can see Nick reading some of the ‘Discworld’ books, but I’d have thought that the science fiction novel ‘Strata’ might be more to his taste:

    Nick’s still pretty young, and doesn’t obviously have any speed reading, or direct upload, abilities, so he’s unlikely to have read more than a few hundred novels. There’s all that technical reading he’s had to do, as well. [grin]

  16. Dreamer without any spead reading techniques i can read around a novel a day if i do school, work and such and i can do 2 if i don’t have any works or homework 2 novels is not a unrealistic number.

    Even with technical reading i wouldn’t say it would be impossible for nick to read around 100 novels a year.

    1. You can read 2 novels a day and you don’t think that qualifies as speed-reading? 0_o What size novels do you read?

      And given the halo comparison, I’m wondering if Warren meant Ringworld rather than Discworld…

      1. Yep, see above. Unfortunate typo (brain-o?) on my part!

        Personally I can read a rather thick novel (thick measured by page count or “conent thickness”) in 2-3 days average. Divide by 1/2 if I’m re-reading something.

  17. Yeah, I remember hearing about the walled in server a while back. Actually, to go 4+ years unattended says even more about the hardware than the o/s. The older computers are terribly slow by today’s standards but even putting nostalgia to the side the hardware just seemed to last a heck of a lot longer than they do now.

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