Hector, Angelus, and Damius sit upon the top of the staircase.
“So, you want to know how I appeared out of thin air?” Angelus asks Hector.
“Then watch my arm.”
Angelus extends his arm in front of him. Without effort, the black suit around his extended arm begins to create waves on the surface of his arm that pulsate toward his palm. After the culmination of a certain amount of waves, the black suit extends outward as it grows in size. Eventually the black amorphous material covers Angelus’ hand in a conical shape that extends to and connects with the opposite wall—the suit’s amorphous material turns into a suction cup shape in order to make the connection with the wall. The cone like shape the suit takes on is very narrow except for the last dozen feet or so where it spreads outward to cover as much surface area as possible.
Angelus turns to look at Hector after the suction is created. “This is what I call manipulation. I manipulate the suit’s form using only my thought. I don’t know the technical details of how it works, but what I do know is that the suit can create more of itself. It's like the suit’s atoms replicate and what's more is that there is seemingly no upper limit on how much material can be created when I use manipulation. In any case it works splendidly.” Angelus points to the suction cup on the wall with his free hand that now looks like it can probably tear down the entire wall if he were to pull the suit with the suction still intact.
“Hmm, it’s similar to this synthetic material that is used in the Eco-City. It’s used in the Academy on the roads and the ground, and as a lift when traversing out of and into the Eco-City. It's probably used in many more applications I'm not even aware of.” Hector adds while observing the tight grip the suction cup has on the wall.
“Interesting,” Damius says, "this technology proves to be very versatile with a multitude of potential applications. If the UTG uses it for construction, I wonder what kind of medical applications those HIPER bastardos most probably already developed with this kind of technology..." Damius trails off in deep thought, while Hector and Angelus ignore him.
“Now Hector, watch this.” Angelus says as the suit spreads up his neck to eventually cover his entire head including his face. As soon as the suit’s material covers the entirety of his face, the suit becomes transparent around his face. Then almost as immediately, the entire suit becomes invisible. Hector’s eyes widen and he gapes at what he witnesses. He instinctively pushes at the air where Angelus stood and to his surprise, he presses against a fleshy surface.
“Angelus?” Hector calls out as Damius grins at Hector’s bewilderment. Hector sees his grin in the corner of his eye and asks, “What’s so funny?”
“What do you think you’re pressing against right now?” Damius replies with his own question.
“Angelus. Isn’t it obvious?” Hector answers. Then his face suddenly reddens and recalls his hand swiftly.
“Alright Angelus, I get it. You cloaked your suit, and then you used it to descend from on high—this is assuming you didn’t just cloak and walk down the stairs. Regardless, the suit is amazing. But I’m curious about one thing.” Hector straightens out his sleeveless shirt that has the words, ‘To The Stars!’ scrawled in the top-center position on its front side. “Can the suit go into space?”
Angelus decloaks, and the black material reveals Angelus’ face once more. Angelus is grinning at Hector’s question, but he turns serious as he starts to talk. “As versatile as the material goes, the suit doesn’t have life sustaining technology, especially technology required to keep a human alive in space.”
Hector frowns, but nods in agreement. “But it must be vacuum proof at the very least, right?”
“I suppose if I were to go in water, and try to perform various tasks, then we can have hard data on its… sealability...” Angelus glances at Damius, and the edges of Damius’ lip brim ever slightly. “Err… But it’s irrelevant to me, and it’s irrelevant to the Free Cities of Terra Collective at this point. I’m concerned with the FCTC’s existential threats—and right now, the Lords of the Free Cities is that existential threats.”
Damius nods, and Hector shakes his head. “Now that you have the suit, is it making the fight against the Lord of Pater easier?” Hector hesitates before committing to his next question. “Is… Is there anything that I can do during the couple of days that I’m here?”
Damius and Angelus look at one another before they start chuckling.
“This kid wants to help fight against the Lord of Pater.” Damius says with a beaming smile while pointing playfully at the adolescent boy.
“You could help, but you would have to quit the Academy and enlist as a cadet in the Free City of Terra Collective…” A grim look comes across Angelus’ face, and this reminds Hector of the day before when the explosion hit and almost killed Angelus. Angelus meanwhile thinks about the cadets already enlisted in the FCTC.
“Fat chance. I’m enrolled in the Academy. I’m going to be finishing my last year of Primary schooling this year, and when I do, I’m going to space…” Hector chokes on his last sentence.
Damius eyes Hector observantly and asks, “You never realized it until this moment, have you? That you want to go to space. That you want to separate yourself from your Terrabound perspective to view our world as the Universe does… You want to know something Hector?”
“We have that same dream. I have that dream. Angelus has that dream. And most every single person in the FCTC has that dream. The Lord of Pater on the other hand… He has a myopic dream for Pater. He disputes that our openness to deal with the HIPER and the UTG in order to get to space would destroy Pater’s greatness. He claims that Pater is the crown jewel among this region’s Free Cities. That this metropolis is a self-sustaining paradise that does not need to trade with the UTG or the HIPER. Even now, he boasts that this city has the largest population among all other Free Cities in the Region, and that it ranks among the highest within the other Regions.”
Hector grimaces. He’s heard something similar but from the opposite point of view. Nani and Étaín, and in fact the UTG’s view of the Free Citizens describe how Damius describes the Lord of Pater. If Damius is being honest about Pater’s Lord, and if the majority of the Free Citizens subscribe to the Lord of Pater’s ideology, then the UTG’s stigmatic view of the Free Citizens are surprisingly based off a hazy truth. Hector realizes now that the books he’s read in history class support this portrayal of the Free Citizens, describing how ancient leaders of the Free Cities often attack each other without provocation, to secure as many resources as possible. Hector nods silently to Damius’ statements meanwhile his thoughts linger for a moment.
Damius continues, “So you see Hector, the FCTC has the same dream as you do. Except you have the UTG’s and the HIPER’s blessing to achieve it, while on the opposite end we FCTC must fight the powers at be in order to achieve that same dream. Such is the world we inhabit.”
Hector waits until he says, “We are all Terrans aren’t we? Those who are born in the UTG and those born in the Free Cities are both Terrans, aren’t they? We can even be called Solarians right? Those born on Luna, on the HIPER Space Station, and on Mars… they can all be called Solarians since we were all born in the Solar System… Going even further, we can just call each other fellow human beings. Why does the HIPER prevent your people from going to space? Why does Pater’s Lord insist on your people being isolated from advances into space?”
Angelus and Damius stay quiet before Angelus speaks up. “I think you already know the answer Hector. You’re a smart boy. If you haven’t already figured it out, then you will. But Damius and I don’t have to tell you the answers to those questions… Besides it’s getting boring here. How about I close up shop here, and the three of us can go get some shut eye?”
“I think I’ll stay here boss,” Damius says.
“Suit yourself. Then I guess I’ll keep the door unlocked…” Angelus winks.
“If you do that sir, then you won’t be able to show off the suit’s capabilities. Well actually, if you did that, then I’d have to inform you that you must use the suit in all possible circumstances, in order to test its capabilities…” Damius eyes Angelus, “Your words sir.”
“You’re right.” Angelus says. Angelus has already recalled the long conical suction cup during Damius and Hector’s conversation and is now holding both hands out towards the large glass cylindrical doors that Hector entered through not too long ago. Waves start to appear on both arms, and after some time, Angelus shouts while he pushes against the air in front of him, still aiming toward the cylindrical glass doors with both palms spread out. The suit suddenly ejects surplus amounts of its material towards the cylindrical glass doors. Soon a new wall is made over top the cylindrical glass doors out of the suit’s material. The moment the wall is completed, the suit attached to Angelus’ body severs its ties to the wall. The material still connected to the suit rejoins the main body, meanwhile the slither of material connected to the newly built wall joins the wall’s main body to make the wall uniformly flat.
“That’s kind of lame,” Hector says.
“What!?” Angelus shouts. “That takes a lot of concentration to do. Didn’t you notice that last piece of material that was still moving even after being severed from the main body?”
“What are you talking about?” Hector obliviously asks again.
“The last piece of suit material… It kept moving after I… Ah never mind.”
“You’re acting weird Angelus,” Hector tells the tired man.
Angelus sighs, when his suit’s material starts to form around his ankles. Almost instantly he shoots toward the top open floor, while the suit remains connected to the ground via a suction. Once Angelus clears the railing on the fourth floor, his suction cupped part of the suit recalls and zips up toward its master.
“So unnecessary!” Hector calls out.
“I can hear you from up here.” Angelus calls out from over the railing without bothering to look over it.
Damius points to a staircase shaft, and Hector runs after Angelus.
Hector finds Angelus sitting on the ground, against the railing, in front of the staircase on the fourth floor. Angelus’ eyes are closed, but he seems to be experiencing rapid eye movements—on stage of the sleeping cycle wherein your eyes move rapidly from one spot to another. This state was known to be the deepest part of a human’s sleep cycle during the ancient times, but now it is commonly seen in the Eco-City when someone connects to the Konsohkius Plane—an interconnected space simulated with the most advanced quantum computers in all of the Solar System. A dedicated internet of these quantum computers simulate Terra. Users can access the Konsohkius Plane anywhere, using their Personal Internal Communicator embedded in their brains. The sight of Angelus immersed in the Konsohkius Plane makes Hector shudder. How in the world would Angelus, a Free Citizen, have access to the Konsohkius Plane? Where would he have gotten the Personal Internal Communicator installed? Is there a place in the Free Cities that provide Personal Internal Communicator chip installations? If so, does the UTG know about this? Does the HIPER know about this? Do the Lords of the Free Cities have access to this as well? Are the Lords gaining fellowship in the Konsohkius Plane as they do in real life? Are UTG citizens being coerced into following these Lords?
Hector’s thoughts drone on into irrelevancy which gives Angelus enough time to finish his business in the Konsohkius Plane, and reawaken in the real world, where he finds Hector muttering aimlessly to himself. Angelus shudders and thinks about how this young boy could be so caught up in his thoughts that he hasn’t even realized that the person he waits for is conscious in the real world once more.
“Hector!” Angelus shouts.
Hector blinks a few times and even shakes his head before his blank stare becomes a conscious consideration.
“What!?” Hector shouts back.
Angelus grins, “Let’s get going boy. I want to show you the Free Cities of Terra Collective, Pater district.”
Suddenly Angelus whizzes by Hector toward the staircase. Hector stares at the spot Angelus occupied only a moment ago before his brain recognizes the lack of the man in the spot. Hector quickly turns around and dashes toward the staircase in pursuit. He pauses momentarily to pick up the sounds in the staircase that would surely indicate the direction he had gone.
“Up,” Hector mutters. He sprints toward the staircase that leads upward, deeper into the thirty story skyscraper.
After twenty stories, and double that amount in flights of stairs, Hector realizes that the footsteps he is chasing has gone silent. In the meantime, he gasps for air, grasping his chest as it burns from the inside out. His skin is unbearably hot, and sweat leaks from his pours as though he were crying with the entirety of his body. He thinks that is an apt description of the exact feeling he experiences in the staircase. Just then, a door shuts close only two flights of stairs from his position. He takes in a long breath, and then climbs up the stairs to the next floor. On the twenty-fifth floor, he exits the staircase shaft to enter a cramped narrow hallway. He hunches over and grasps his knees, while he gasps desperately to intake oxygen. Once again he hears another sound, only this time, it’s a shriek coming from the left end of the hallway. He exhales a deep breath, and starts walking slowly toward the cry, while he breaths deeply to decelerate his rapid heartbeat. He approaches the opened doorway and pokes his head inside the room and sees a small washroom on the left while straight ahead there is a bed on a heavy duty looking stand.