8FOLD: Jolt City # 17 1/2: The Costume

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 25 15:04:48 PDT 2008

   The first time he puts it on, he takes his time.  He knows that
before he gets to go out in the field, he's going to have to get it on
quick: thirty-five seconds, maybe, though thirty would be better.
   Martin can get his on in twenty-six; getting slow in his old age.
"Keep it simple," he tells Derek.  "More stuff you have to put on, the
longer it's going to take."
   Derek made it as simple as he could.  Not simple enough for
Martin's taste, but as simple as he could with compromising what he
   The first set of gloves are tight, thin, and black, running up his
arm to his elbow.  They allow for precise dexterity and prevent him
from leaving any fingerprints.
   The second set of gloves are fingerless, thickly-padded, and dark
blue, ending at his wrists.  They'll protect his hands when he needs
to punch someone hard.
   Both the pants and the shirt are a slightly lighter blue than the
other gloves.  They're also slightly heavier than Derek would like:
kevlar.  Martin insisted on that much.  "I still don't think you're
fast enough, and maybe you never will be.  So we're going to play it
   Kneepads match the outer glove in colour and design; they serve an
aesthetic purpose, true, but they're also there in case (or, as Martin
is wont to correct him, "when") he tumbles.  The boots that disappear
at the knees are the same colour as the pads but of a more traditional
design (only so much you can do with boots.)
   There are loops in his pants for his utility belt; whereas Martin's
belt is lined with hefty brown pouches, Derek's is bright yellow,
sleek, and shiny.  The individual compartments contain gas pellets,
tracking devices, a bleeper, and lock-picking tools.  The belt buckle
also doubles as an electric torch, which solves the problem of making
room for one.  Martin's not so sure about that: "How're you going to
shine the light around on something?  Swing your hips around like
   But that's not the only point of contention Martin has with Derek's
design.  Their fiercest disagreement was over what Derek considers to
be the absolute topper, the crème de la crème: his backpack.  The
straps loop through slits at his shoulders and lock into the utility
belt like a pair of suspenders.  "That way it can't fall off."
   "And if you need to get rid of it in a hurry?"
   "I won't need to.  That's why its fireproof."
   In this bag, Derek carries everything else that he needs or wants.
The redesigned utility belt might not have room for the grappling
hook, but the bag has room for two; he's able to carry with him a more
extensive first-aid kit than Martin can fit in his pouches, complete
with anti-venoms and sling, if needed.  His laptop gives him quick
access to the internet-- to look up information, he insists, not to
check his e-mail mid-donnybrook-- and allows him to hack into various
computer systems, if that proves necessary.  His bag is also home to a
number of gadgets, gizmos, wonderments and whirligigs, including but
not limited to: an audio scrambler (reappropriated from Dani), long-
range pinpoint microphone, localized electro-magnetic pulsar, impact-
activated compact netting, and the dreaded masterpiece of his own
creation, the Analog Alarum.
   "You don't need all this stuff," says Martin.  "And what if you
need to put on the union in the street?  Where are you going to hide
   But Derek has an answer for that, too; a second, slightly larger
book-bag with a zippered-off compartment in which to hold his action
bag.  The zipper itself locks into a series of pins requiring precise
pressure and timing in order to release it.  After making the switch,
he can hide his ordinary bag inside the action bag.
   Martin still doesn't like it-- it's needlessly complicated for his
taste-- but he gives Derek a pass on it.  Provided, of course, that he
can get the whole mess on in less than thirty-five seconds.
   And-- well-- he's not there yet.  But he will be.
   He slides on the mask last.  He knows that he has to get used to
putting it on first; if someone walks in on him changing and they see
Derek Mason's face in the rest of this get-up, his goose is pretty
well cooked.  That was also a consideration in designing the mask
itself; he wanted to show enough of himself that he's recognizably a
man, but not so much that he's recognizable as this particular man.
   Darkhorse exposes his muzzle, while Martin lets people see his
eyes.  Derek covers his mouth with the blue cloth of the mask and
obscures his eyes with the yellow-tinted goggles (plastic lenses, not
glass).  The bottom of the mask slips into the neckline of his shirt;
the top of the mask ends half-way up his brow, exposing his forehead
and the thin fuzz of his closely cropped hair.
   It took a bit of experimentation to find a synthetic fabric that
would stick to his skin (thus keeping the mask from falling off)
without taking chunks of it out when it came time to remove it.  But
he did it.
   It was nice, getting back into chemistry and gadgetry and
tinkering.  There's a pleasure to science, a pleasure that had been
forgotten these last two or three years.  He can't say it's
necessarily brought him peace, or helped him to deal with everything--
but it's at least provided a distraction and a point of focus.
Besides, if he hadn't gotten back to tinkering and hacking, he
wouldn't have found his old book on phreaking.  And if he hadn't done
   Two and a half minutes.  A far cry from thirty-five seconds, but,
again, he wasn't even trying.  He'll get there, though.
   And when he does, there will be a new four-colour in Jolt City.
   The powered-up pugilist!
   The sheik of phreak!
   Partner to the Green Knight.
   ...The Blue Boxer!

////////////// SEE YOU IN 2009!
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  (C) COPYRIGHT 2008 TOM RUSSELL                 // # 17.5

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