I had options. The obvious ones were purely the product of normal physics—X-rays or my sonics to analyze the structure, shaving off bits and tests to understand the materials, and trying to operate it by touch, if I wanted to take that risk.
Armory had done it and it hadn’t been fatal—yet.
Of course, I was a special case, given my connection to the Artificers, and that they were the “gods” the device took its name from.
Ignoring the feeling that we should have passed it on to Dr. Nation, I opened the cardboard box, tipping it, letting the circular tablet slide onto the wooden counter. More than anything else, it reminded me of a mirror. It must have been the shape. It wasn’t the screen. That was glossy but dark.
I thought back to watching Armory use the device and wondered if Cassie or Daniel had thought to take the tentacled brick that my implant had labeled a “charger.” Checking the box, I found nothing else inside.
Looking at the tablet’s jagged edge, I remembered the brick’s tentacles extending into the open area. Annoying. I’d have to figure out what kind of power the thing took. Thanks to my implant, I had a better chance than almost anyone on the planet of figuring that one out, but the implant still couldn’t tell me how to jury-rig an alien battery out of what I had in the base.
Thinking about how I’d pulled some form of energy out of nowhere when I’d fought someone using Abominator tech almost two years ago now, I wondered if I could supply the power. I shook my head. That was an experiment for later.
For now, I’d start with the physical.
That’s how I spent the next few hours, taking scrapings, running tests, and scanning the insides with different tools. Plus, knowing that touching the tablet hadn’t hurt me, turned it on, or given me any sort of ominous feelings, I also picked it up and held the jagged part up to my eyes, and looked inside.
What I saw inside didn’t surprise me. Though hundreds or maybe thousands of years ahead of Earth technology, it was standard for Abominator tech—solid, but with lines and indentations that reminded me of the human brain.
Between my own experience and the technical information in my implant, I identified the materials. We didn’t have words for them, but the implant gave me a general technical history of the Abominators’ technology. Though it was nice to see how it descended from technology I did recognize, I got something more practical out of it—where I could attach the power, provided I could figure out how much it needed.
That and whether or not I could figure out if it was worth the risk.
Another thought passed through my mind. I might have a power source that worked. After the League destroyed the last of the Abominators, they’d collected the tech they’d left behind, and locked it inside some of the storage rooms. Up until last year, I couldn’t have opened them, but we’d been cataloging everything in the base and we found the keys. They’d been in one of the locked file cabinets in the lab.
So now I had access to a trove of devices that might end human civilization. I didn’t know that for sure, of course, because I’d never been in the rooms, but now they were all but open.
Still, given that they’d gone to the trouble of locking them, I felt confident Grandpa wouldn’t want me to. That coupled with my suspicion that War, an evil alternate version of myself, had, left me with the gut feeling that I didn’t want to.
After getting data from my implant, I worked up a power interface that fit common Abominator specs. It took the nanotech I used to build and repair my suite in combination with the alien tech I’d learned about while working on the League “jet.”
From its size, I doubted it would take that much power, but connected it to one of our higher voltage cables. That, in turn, ultimately connected to HQ’s fusion plant.
Using my implant, I gave the nanotech the command to make the final connection, watching as the yellow and black striped mass extended into the jagged hole. When it connected, I watched as my interface tested the connection and reported it usable.
Deciding to let the power flow, I watched as the tablet did nothing. The screen didn’t even flicker. Increasing the power didn’t immediately change anything, but as the power rose the screen acquired a soft glow. By that point, more power was flowing through than I’d expected—though not anywhere near the maximum possible.
A picture appeared on the screen. Against a dark background, faint lines appeared. The shape reminded me of a ghost or of the human nervous system. I’d seen that much last time, but this time I noticed one more thing. A faint line hung behind the nervous system, but this one extended downward—forever, as far as I could tell.
If the “ghost” was me, what was the line?