The Tower of Babel – 48 Hours Earlier (August End)

”Wait, electricity?” I asked Kyra, the T-4 in charge of me.
“Yes sir.” Kyra’s been in the program quite a bit longer than I have. At T-4, she can do things I can barely imagine. But I’m getting there, I’m a T-9. “Your nanomachines are showing an electric buildup. You’re probably creating it unintentionally, but if you don’t get it in check, it could cause you some problems a little later on.”
“Alright, then. What do I do?” I was ready to learn, this stuff never got boring. She explained a lot of techniques I’d heard before and a few I hadn’t. A lot of the Netcaster tricks revolve around having a clear mind and just telling the nanomachines exactly what you want them to do. Eventually, they learn what you want to do and it becomes less about exacts and more about instinct. It’s brilliant when you think about it; why create a series of complex rules that casters have to adhere to when you can just let the casters create their own specific rules themselves?
Regardless, we got the trick down for the most part. She got me to discharge the electricity into a grounded metal rod. And I didn’t break anything this time, a major plus, right? She told me I’d get it perfected eventually, taught me more about monitoring my nanomachines and sent me on my way.
AXZ Corporation owned about a dozen floors in my area of the outsides. I had about fifty floors to go up on my way home, which meant pneumatic tubes for me. A quick jump into freefall and I was on my way there. The center room was full of pnumatic stations either waiting for passengers or had a “Please Wait” light on as a passenger flew by. I pushed my way to a console, programming the floor I wanted to go into a bracelet. After strapping that on I was on my way in the nearest available up tube. I felt my ears pop as the suction started to pull me upwards. Closing my eyes, I let the machines take over. I cleared my mind and asked the nanomachines to give me a full diagnostic. Screens appeared in my field of vision with all sorts of information; my name, my height, my weight, my T level. Even the number of Nanomachines currently in my body. One had a chart showing me any possible defective machines, the newest screen showed my electrical levels. I’ve been told I can manipulate the currents in my body to turn myself into an electromagnet if I so chose. Manipulate them a different way and I could emit an Electomagnetic Pulse, frying machinery near me. And then a screen I’ve never seen before appeared.
“Stop.” I said it aloud before I read the words on the screen. “Disembark next station.” The bracelet around my wrist vibrated a bit and I began to slow down. I heard the gates above me shift, preparing to launch me from the tube. It wasn’t long before I was on the station floor. I opened my eyes just in time to see the opening I was being pushed out of. The area around me was not a typical station; it looked like it wasn’t used all that often. Must have been one of those maintainence levels.
“Left.” A voice echoed in my head. I looked in the direction the disembodied voice mentioned and saw a light and a shadow. I found some handles and pushed myself through the weightlessness toward the light. As I turned the corner, I saw a man with magnetic boots standing at a console, pressing away at the keys. He caught a glimpse of me and stopped everything.
“Who’re you?” He asked, turning. I caught a glimpse of his badge: Michell Blacksmith, AXZ Corporation.
“I, uh, got off at the wrong level.” It wasn’t a lie and he seemed official enouguh.
“Well then, sorry about this.” Michell returned to the computer and struck a few more keys. “Good luck.” He sidestepped the console and bolted down the hall.
“Run!” The voice was echoing in my head again. What the hell was that? I didn’t exactly have time to think, though, seeing as sirens began to blare. “Unauthorized entry.” It was already too late, cameras were on me. A small window appeared in my field of vision. Apparently I was building an electrical charge again. Seems that’s what I do when I get anxious.
I could hear the sound of tube gates preparing to release passengers. This would get ugly, quickly. And then it hit me. The Electricity. I could create magnets, stick to the floor and get around faster. I cleared my mind as quickly as I could, creating currents of electricity around my feet. I promptly fell to the floor, my feet clinging to the metal as if they’d been glued. Okay, too much. I could hear the Babel force landing in the room behind me, it was only a matter of time.
I felt my feet lift from the ground. Not enough current. A bit more and it was almost like gravity. At least for my feet. I started running down the corridor the same way Michell went, assuming, of course, that was his name.
“Stop!” Seems the guards came around the corner. I looked back, knowing I shouldn’t and came to the conclusion there was not enough distance between us. In all fairness, I don’t think it would have mattered how far ahead I was, I probably would have thought that regardless, but I digress, I am trying to run away here.
How quickly could I shift the currents in my feet? This wasn’t exactly the ideal time to experiment, but I was coming to a bend very quickly. I jumped, letting my feet connect with the metal wall and continued running on it. I cleared my mind again, thinking about how to alter the spinning currents. Right as the hallway appeared above me, I twisted the currents and sent them the opposite direction, repelling myself from the metal and launching myself up the hall. A twist of my waist, another reversal of the electricity and I was on a new wall. I stumbled a bit as my feet connected, but I recovered quickly and continued to run.
“He’s a Netcaster.” One of the guards shouted. “Stay back.” Another responded. Honestly, I couldn’t tell if this was good or bad news. I didn’t want to look back so I kept my eyes front.
I was right. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up as the air around me cracked with static. They had a Netcaster, too. Now I needed to get out of here quickly.
“There’s a corridor coming up beneath you. Take it.” That voice again. If it wasn’t being so useful I wouldn’t be listening. On the other hand, it did get me into this predicament. “Who’re you?” I asked aloud.
“Just go!” It had a hint a femininity, now that I was thinking about it. Still, I decided it was probably the best option, it seemed the voice knew the area much better than I did. I slowed the current down a bit and turned in the weighlessness so that my feet were on what was supposed to be the floor and then turned it back up. I landed softly and made the turn down the corridor. I think I’m getting better at this whole electromagnet thing.
Then, of course, I realized where the voice was leading me. Outside.
“Are you kidding me?” I could see the protective barrier creating the translucent sheet between atmosphere and the vacuum.
“You’re a Netcaster, you’ll survive out there as long as you can keep the barrier around you.” I didn’t exactly have a choice anymore. I could hear the people chasing me catching up. “As soon as you hit the barrier, move the currents from your feet to your hands. You’ll have more control that way.”
As you wish. I pressed harder, picking up speed as the hole into space got closer and closer. I jumped, killing the currents in my feet and felt something almost gooey cover my body. I only had about an hours worth of oxygen with this stuff. I had to move quickly. “Which way?!” I shouted, just a little paniced.
“About thirty degrees right.” I pointed the palm of my right hand in about that direction and created another current. I definitely had to push the current to get enough magnetic force to pull myself toward the tower. I felt the pit of my stomach relax as I got closer. It’s probably a miracle I didn’t freak out, I’ve heard stories of people going nuts in space. Definitely not for everyone and not at all an experience I wanted to repeat if I could avoid it. I felt my hand press against the goo as I touched the tower. It was a surprisingly relaxing sensation. I slowed the currents in my hand, adjusted myself so my feet were on the walls and began moving in the direction the voice had mentioned.
“I’m impressed.” A voice I didn’t recognize said from behind me. I didn’t have to look to know it was their Netcaster.
“Would you believe me if I said this was a misunderstanding?” I turned and looked at the man. He was wearing the Babel uniform, clearly a part of the force.
“If your accomplice weren’t right behind you, I would.” I turned to look and there he was. Mitchell Blacksmith.
“You’re pretty ballsy, I’ll give you that.” He pulled a weapon from his belt and aimed at the Netcaster. “Sorry, but I can’t have you following me.” A beam shot from the end and struck his left arm, evaporating the barrier around it. He quickly pushed and pulled barrier from the rest of his body back over his arm, but the goo had visibly thinned. He didn’t have a choice, he jumped down the hole, back into the tower.
“Sorry to have you tied up in all this, but you’re stuck for now. Come on, the next maintainence door is about two miles out.”
“I think I hate you, just so you know.” He had already turned and began to walk away. “So, seeing as the Babel Police now think I’m your cohort, feel like telling me what’s going on?”
“It’s actually not what it looks like, not that you’ll believe me. I was protecting the tower, not sabotaging it.”
“Oh really.” I may have layed the sarcasm a little thick.
“Really. We’re not sure what they’re up to, but someone in the the Westminster Group is trying to undermine AXZ.” Now that I got a proper look at him, well, a look at him through two layers of goo, I realized he was pretty decent looking. What, don’t judge me.
“So you were stopping whatever it was they were doing?”
“Yeah, a colleague of mine stumbled across some information while doing work for Westminster. Turns out they had maps of the maintainence tunnels and key terminals.” He’d looked back at me for a moment, but quickly turned his head back forward.
“Plausible enough.” I was lying. “Any evidence?”
“Everything,” He patted his pocket, “is on a memory chip right here. I’ll show it to you when we get back inside, if you’re interested.”
“I am. But if what you say is true, why not go straight to AXZ and tell them?” I sped up a bit so I could walk alongside him. He seemed personable enough, at least.
“Tried, they didn’t care about the information, said to come back with something more solid than words and diagrams.” He wiggled his hand in front of him, clearly mocking the person he’d spoken to.
“Well, if your information pans out, perhaps I can get them a little more interested.”
“How?” He stopped walking and looked at me. In response, I pointed at my feet. “You’re not wearing magnetic boots.” It didn’t take him very long to get the picture. “You’re a Netcaster?”
I just nodded in reply.

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