Gadgets & People: Part XI

Gadgets & People

Part XI: Fixing Things

Even though I’d been the last person to go to bed, I was the first person up the following morning. I put on a tea kettle before quickly going to the shower. When I came out someone else had come out, someone definitely new.

I’d seen my share of Gimelian before, those ape people from a parallel earth, but not in our dorm. She had short khaki fur that was shaved on the sides of her head while the top had been left long and dyed neon blue. She had piercings on her face and earlobe stretches.  She wasn’t wearing much either; a long worn and faded shirt and maybe underwear beneath but that was it.

“Uh… hello.” I said with a little wave.

“Hi.” She said, smiling before taking a bite of an apple. “I’m Raal. I’m a friend of Tyler.”

“I’m Sanjay.”

“Ooh, the tech guy.” She was definitely excited about that.

“That’s me.” I said with a shrug. “How do you know Tyler?”

“We’ve been online friends since forever. When he told me his parents were no shows on Friday I jumped on the first bus.”

I nodded and got myself a banana from the fruit platter.

“I was wondering, any chance I can see your tech?” She asked a little nervously before speaking again, this time more enthusiastically. “I’m a tech person myself, I could show you what I’ve done.”

“Eh, why not.”

She run to Tyler’s room and came back carrying a bag along with what looked like a rifle. She handed it over to me and I took a moment to examine it. It was some form of pulsed particle rifle. It obviously wasn’t of  professional make, there were loose wires and the thing had been obviously welded from spare parts. For amateur work using spare parts, it was impressive.

“What is it? You’re frowning.” She said, putting a hand on her hip.

“Well, design wise, it’s impressive…”

“But?”

“It could probably double as an improvised bomb the way those fusion cells and the capacitor are rigged.”

“It does tend to overheat, still working on fixing that, but getting the right materials can be a little hard with my funds.”

The fact she had fusion cells to begin with was impressive, they didn’t exactly grow on trees.

“I could hook you up.”

Her eyes went all wide and full of stars. “You’re serious?”

“Eh, I’ll write them off as damaged, what’s a little corporate theft and fraud?”

“I don’t want you to get into trouble.”

“Bit too late for that, I kind of gave a friend stuff before.”

I showed her to my lab where she geeked out over every single thing in there while I grabbed some spare component and had the maker fabricate some I didn’t have on hand. That done, I let her tinker with her weapon, upgrading it, before making an external casing for it.

At least now I was secure in the knowledge she wouldn’t lose an arm in a malfunction.

***

Soon enough I said goodbye to Raal, went back inside for my morning prayers and meditations and then got ready to go to classes.

Unlike the other times we’d seen him, the Rook was unmasked and he wasn’t carrying his arsenal.

“Good news student, no tough love from me today.” He said with a grin. “Bad news, this week is exam week. You’ve been with us for four weeks now and it’s time for us to get an idea of how much you’ve been learning. Today is a basic physical exam. I want to see how well you can carry out the techniques I’ve been teaching you. Mr. Martin and Myself will observe and we will let you know when it is your turn to go to the Medical Centre for some physical checks to make sure you are fit to carry out the exams over the coming days.”

Rook directed us to perform a series of exercises, noting our times as we did. I found that part rather easy, but I’d always been top shape thanks to good genetics and a little exercise.

“Now get into pairs.” Rook ordered as we finished the first part. “You’re not fighting but I want you to show me the techniques I’ve been teaching you.”

Rook had been less tough on us on the lessons following the first; instead he’d focused on teaching us the fundamentals of hand to hand combat. Although I normally did alright, this time I found myself struggling against Jaeger.

“You need to use your hips when lifting, not your arms.” Jaeger whispered as I tried to throw him over my shoulder and onto the dojo mat.

“Right.”

By the time the martial arts exam was over, I was disappointed in myself and my performance. I definitely needed more training… Jaeger got called to see the Doc just as lunch break was called so I went to the cafeteria by myself and quickly ate a falafel pita sandwich. Eventually It was my turn to be called to the doc.

I felt familiar jitters in my body when I came into the clinic… I’d never liked doctors… In fact I’d never come to see Doc Venus other than that one time I’d escorted Jaeger.

“Sanjay Pichai.” Doc Venus called.

I got up. “It’s me.”

“Sanjay, I’m glad to see you, please come in.” She stepped aside and let me in. “Haven’t seen you around this office.” I wasn’t sure what kind of tone I was meant to get from that last remark.

“I didn’t really need any medical attention.”

“I see. Are you always this anxious when seeing doctors?”

I blinked.

“I can smell stress hormones very easily.”

“I’m sorry…”

“No need to apologize, phobias are by their very definition irrational, it’s not a conscious choice. Beside, it’s normal to be anxious at the prospect of seeing a doctor, you don’t typically see doctors when healthy.”

I nodded and she guided me to her exam table. She brought over a big machine full of scanners and similar things. I tensed up but let her go through with her exam. As she performed some tests, I noticed her pausing and staring at her instruments a few times, she then redid the tests again.

“Is something the matter?” I asked.

“Must be a glitch in my diagnostic tools. Let me check something at the back.”

She got up and left me alone in the room. I closed my eyes and focused on taking some deep breaths, trying to keep calm.

After several long minutes she came back.

“Definitely glitches, I got a new one.” She said raising some techno diagnostic wand.

She quickly went over the tests again.

“I can say that you’re a perfectly healthy and ordinary human teenage boy. Yes.” There was a pause. “How is your relationship with your family?”

“Good I guess, well with my mom and sisters… I don’t know about my dad.”

“Right. I believe your father works in robotics?”

“Used to. Now he’s mostly working on hardsuits and mech. Not much choice, AIs and automated systems are on the out since Hyperion.”

“Ah yes, is there a lot of problems with your dad?”

“I wouldn’t say problems… I guess we just don’t connect as father-son, more like coworkers.”

“Well, that’s all I needed from you Sanjay, but if you’d like to talk about things, my door is always open, I’m a trained and licensed psychiatrist you know.”

“I will, thanks.”

She guided me to the door and I was relieved to be out of there. She was really nice but sadly my dislike of doctors was stronger…

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