Technoholic Man #4 (of 4): the End of the Road
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by Denny Hill 2* (email@example.com)
Copyright 2001 All rights reserved.
Think of a nice, sedate meeting room in a nondescript office building somewhere - one full of ordinary corporate types, all going about their money-making business. Now, imagine the havoc that would ensue if someone were to, say, drive an incredibly large, blue, 1982 Ford LTD station wagon through the expansive windows looking to the world outside said meeting room. Contracts and glass and middle management flying about in a flurry of chaos.
It's a beautiful mental picture, yes?
(That should do for a 'cover', shouldn't it?)
"You know, I must be the only guy on earth who's spent a week in a hotel room with a beautiful girl, yet not got any."
With that, Sam settled back into the bed that's been about the only place he'd been for the last week, since it had taken him longer than he thought it would to recover from the devastating beating he'd received at the hands of Technohol Zero. He proceeded to flip through the eight channels that he could get with the run-down television before him in this run-down hotel room. At least he could now use the remote without undue effort.
And yes, it was HIM that was using the remote. After all, he figured that if he wasn't getting any sex, Clarice didn't get to pick what they were watching. That even though she had been rather helpful over the last couple of days, fetching him food and raw materials and whatnot to help him heal up and prepare for the (suicidal, in her opinion) assault he was planning on the company that had funded Technohol Zero's research and development program.
Of course, he wasn't really just watching the boob tube. Sam was mentally digesting everything that had happened to him since he was first exposed to the Technohol - Technohol 13, in his case - that minty blue organic circuitry disguised as a soon-to-be-released carbonated beverage, to his less than stellar fights with both the Atomic Apocalypse and Technohol 12 (Clarice), to his current predicament after basically being pulped by his ersatz 'creator'.**
Everything had happened so fast, you see, that Sam hadn't had time to really adjust to what he was capable of, much less make any sort of attempt at planning out how he would deal with various conflicts. He'd mostly been reacting reflexively to everything bad that had happened to him, even when he was working under the auspices of some sort of half-baked plan or another. He wasn't about to let that happen again, though.
If it weren't for Clarice, after all, he'd be dead now.
From his conversations with 'Hoss', his organic circuitry buddy, Sam had learned that whipping up guns and telescoping grappling hooks and ablative armor and whatnot on the fly was rather draining on his person; it could be done in a pinch, but he always seemed to pay for it down the road. As such, Sam decided that before he took on Bio-Logic Industries, he'd do a little bit of preparatory work first - since he was practically bed-ridden anyway.
While his Technohol was busy fine-tuning the nerve connections of his reattached arms, Sam had convinced it to start working on a small arsenal of personal weaponry for him. The Technohol didn't mind this at all since a) it would help it free itself from the threat of future action from the company, and b) it would make it work less in the middle of a fight. Oddly, to the Technohol, Sam was actually making sense for once.
Sam's leather trench coat, for instance, had been transformed considerably. While it still looked and felt like leather (if neon blue leather), it was actually now made from an improved Kevlar weave. This weave was enhanced with a small electrokinetic generator array that can act to transform the energy of incoming attacks of various types into power that the Technohol can utilize instead of draining Sam's strength. In addition to stopping bullets, of course.
The Technohol also added several hidden pockets and holsters to the coat, in order to conceal the weaponry it had built for Sam. Sam seemed to like Colt .45 handguns, so the Technohol made him six of the venerable pistols, complete with (of course) blue laser targeting beams. The Technohol also made him a twin set of hand hatchets out of a blue-tinted, diamond-like substance; this, of course, in the event that he gets rather... personal in the middle of a fight.
Sam seemed to have that effect on people, after all.
In addition to the weapons and armor coat, though, the Technohol had also altered Sam's boots, so they would generate a slight repulsive field when activated; this would allow them to hover above the ground a little bit, and then Sam could rocket around thanks to small ionic thrusters mounted on the things' heels. Sam couldn't wait to try the motive contraptions out, but figured he'd test them in the field; they took a LOT of energy to operate.
Finally, Sam's Technohol altered his coke-bottle sunglasses some, inadvertently giving their lenses a blue tint (of course), but in the process granting them a very large array of detection capabilities. For instance, Sam can toggle the glasses through the entire electromagnetic spectrum; sure, it could just superimpose this information upon Sam's optic nerves, but this extended its own range some and gave Sam a further sense of independence from it.
Meanwhile, Clarice had picked up on what Sam was doing while immobilized, and had started producing a small arsenal of her own. Of course, she wasn't really a trench coat kind of girl, so she had her Technohol stow the things (a handy dandy Uzi 9mm hand cannon and a set of spiky brass knuckles) in various pockets within her own body; this meant the gun had to be reassembled whenever Clarice needed it, but it'd never be found - not even with a strip search!
She did have her Technohol give her clothing the armor treatment as well, though her own clothing is somewhat... sparse. She dropped the cut-off denim shorts to go with a full pair of jeans, and added a leather jacket to her T-shirt (all red, thanks to the influence of her own Technohol, mind you). And again, as was the case with Sam's gear, Clarice's clothing wasn't real leather and denim and cotton so much as an enhanced, mechanized Kevlar variant.
"So, how's tomorrow sound, Clarice?"
To that, of course, Clarice simply responded "..."
Sometime later, Clarice pulled up to the security checkpoint at the Bio-Logic Industries parking lot, and smiled to the guard. "Hallo. Just driving in the truck for the old man - he had one too many malt liquors out in the field last night." Clarice made a drinking sort of motion with her hand, and flashed the badge that she'd gotten as an operative of the company back when she was still letting them tell her what to do.
The guard laughed at Clarice's statement, checked her identification card, and waved her through. She smiled at this, noting that the horny, overweight guy wasn't really looking at her face so much as at a pair of objects slightly lower than that. Sure, that'd normally be a very, very nasty thing - kind of like Sam drooling over her this last week - but at least it meant that she'd be able to get into the complex and do some damage before Sam arrived.
She thought it'd be easier to just have him stow his car in the back of the truck, and then have him bust out once the guards pursued her, but nooooooo. He had to do it the dramatic way, make a statement or something, give the corporate slugs that gave them these fantastic weapons a taste of real fear - or somesuch. She thought he was going about this all wrong, but since it was his plan, she'd go along with it. Unless she was 'forced' to improvise along the way.
Anyway, Clarice pulled the truck into a shipping bay at the rear of the Bio-Logic Industries complex there in southwestern Utah, and backed it up nice and slow, as though nothing whatsoever was amiss. Not that her driving erratically would cause any undue concern, since most of the guys there know she was behind the wheel, and most of them were chauvinistic enough to just say something nasty involving women drivers if she hit something or other.
Once she parked the truck, a shipping clerk came out to check what she was up to, and Clarice just said she was dropping off old man Zero's mobile laboratory, since he wouldn't be needing it anymore. Before the man could ask she meant (he'd merely made the confused 'huh?' look on his face), Clarice whipped her Uzi out of... wherever her Technohol stored it, and opened fire on the hapless guy. She only hit his legs though; it's not like HE was behind the Technohol program.
This scream, and of course the automatic gunfire, caused Bio-Logic shipping / receiving guys to panic and start running in all directions, and Clarice simply chose a spot in the bay full of crates to hide until the security forces arrived...
"Gripping the wheel his knuckles went white with desire,
the wheels of his Mustang exploding on the highway like a slug from a .45.
True Death: 400 Horsepower of maximum performance, piercing the night.
This is Black Sunshine."
As the CD player blared out Sam's personal automotive combat battle dirge, the Technohol became confused. "I don't see the significance of this, Sam. You're not driving a Mustang, and I wouldn't say this nonetheless... fine... vehicle of yours has 400 Horsepower to work with."
"Very well then. But don't expect me to turn this into some sort of Mustang station wagon. Though I suppose the 400 Horsepower is negotiable..."
Sam was starting to get concerned. It was hard for him not to show it but he was worried about what was about to happen; not because he feared for his own safety, mind you, because he'd already worked out that he had a fair chance of dying this day. No, he was concerned because the Technohol was jabbering at him - almost as much as he droned on at it when he'd first become infected with the organic circuitry soup. This just didn't happen.
"You all right, Hoss?"
The Technohol paused before answering. "Of course, Sam. I am simply attempting to calculate the exact probability that Bio-Logic industries has a lot more of that organic circuitry solvent that Clarice used against our 'creator'. It seems like the odds involved are about one to one - and I don't like that."
Sam just shrugged to that. "Wouldn't they have to hit us with a whole LOT of that stuff to kill us? I mean, think about it - most of you is protected by a lot of me, and a big heavy coat, etc... If these jerks spray us with the stuff, we'll just shake it off before it can kill us too much. And use the coat as a shield; if it goes, we'll still have time to get at whoever's spraying us before any permanent damage is done, right?"
Sam just grinned at that, though he didn't know why. Perhaps it was a control issue, he wasn't sure, but for the first time since all this had happened to him, he finally felt like he was the one in charge of his life again. Not 'Hoss'. Not the Atomic Asshole, or whatever that radioactive jerk called himself. Not the mad scientist who had changed him so. And not even those jerks at Atomic TV who just KNEW he'd come crawling back for his old job.
"Fuck 'em," said Sam. "Fuck 'em all." Sam decided that he wasn't going to tell Hoss what the Saran Wrap was for as he blasted through the Bio-Logic security gate at over one hundred miles per hour. It had been so distracted that Sam didn't think it caught his thoughts about that little plan just yet. And he liked it that way; after all, it gave him just that much more of an illusion of self-determination...
Clarice found that she was rapidly running out of security personnel.
She'd taken down at least a six pack of the (admittedly highly trained) rent-a-cops since she'd invaded the rear of the building, and the last two to respond to her assault were cowering in the shipping area's break room, randomly firing shots from their semi-automatic handguns in her general area. "Give it up, you pussies - or I'm coming in there after you. And I've got pliers and a blowtorch - a big, mean, plasma torch..."
The rented muscle gave her ultimatum a few seconds of thought, then threw out their guns. One of them even waved his (oddly unsoiled) briefs in the air as a sign of surrender. As they walked out of the break room, Clarice then proceeded to shoot the both of them in the legs, and while they writhed on the floor, she disarmed them, smashing their weapons under her boot heel - thanks to a strength boost from her Technohol.
"Oh, quit your whining. You'll live - unlike those other saps." Clarice waved towards the other six, currently deceased security guys on the ground behind her. The two wounded men weren't quite listening to her though, as immersed in their own little bundles of pain as they were. Noting this, Clarice just sighed, and moved on towards the heart of this installation: the biowar laboratories. She had plans for those particular chambers...
The Technohol screamed almost incoherently as it fired off round after round from the two Colt M1911A1 handguns in Sam's hands, manufacturing new rounds for them almost as soon as he could make Sam fire them. It shot indiscriminately at just about everybody that came running into the main foyer of the Bio-Logic Industries complex as they appeared. Janitors, middle management flunkies, it didn't matter to the Technohol - they were all a threat to its safety.
Sam's voice could hardly be heard by the Technohol over the din of its gunfire, as well as its seething rage.
The Technohol continued to fire at the hallways where people were previously issuing forth from; the piles of dead and wounded before them were beginning to serve as a deterrent to flight from the complex's main entrance.
The Technohol stopped shooting. "Yes?"
While he had the attention of his bodily 'roommate', Sam tried to stop it from killing everything in sight. "Hey. Do you really think this is doing us any good? We can kill all these lowly lab workers and copywriters and janitors and telemarketers all day, or we can go after the jerks in charge of this place. What do you say, Hoss? Let's leave these zhlubs alone and go after the bigwigs - teach them a lesson they won't soon forget? Huh? Huh??"
The Technohol thought about this for approximately two seconds. When you can think as fast as the Technohol can, that's quite a long period of time.
Sam just grinned. A nervous grin, but a grin nonetheless. "Word."
Clarice found that, by the time she'd gotten to the laboratories, they had been secured. Secured, of course, meaning that the doors had been bolted shut - and supplemented with two heavily armed thugs. Changing out a spent clip of ammunition for a fresh one, Clarice advanced on the men, rendering them inoperable for the time being (yet another wave of kneecap destruction on her part; it'd leave them maimed, possibly crippled, but alive).
Collecting their M-16s after her Technohol temporarily removed her fingerprints, Clarice shot her way partway through the bolted door blocking her from her prize - and then used her Technohol to create a chainsaw to cut the rest of the way through. That was when she encountered the second wave of Bio-Logic laboratory security, for she found herself subjected to a gout of flames - ostensibly from some sort of vicious projectile weapon!
Pulling away from the door, Clarice quickly patted out the flames scattered across her body, a feat made easier by the electrokinetic generators scattered throughout her clothing. Once she'd managed that, and found that she was okay after a quick personal inventory, Clarice risked a look through the rather large hole she'd cut in the door. Inside the laboratory, she could make out at least four guys, all wielding weapons and the like.
The trick was, all these weapons were made from an odd, watermelon-pink colored metal of some sort.
This jarred a memory forth from Clarice, one of her old friend from when she was still working with Bio-Logic Industries. "Eleven?"
Sam was finding that he was little more than a passenger in his own body, and that he truly disliked the experience. This allowed him to sympathize with the Technohol within him some, since that's all it had experienced since the two found out that they had been merged together, but it was still disconcerting. He was doing things that, quite frankly, he hadn't even seen in action movies. Or horror films, for that matter.
His progression through the Bio-Logic facilities had involved his meeting quite a few members of the staff, and his subsequently violent reaction to their presence had made him shudder internally; he didn't realize just how many horrible ways you could kill a body with just a pair of axes. The Technohol wasn't really listening to his pleas for mercy, though; while he'd managed to stop it from killing earlier, anything in its path was still fair game.
Soon enough, the massacre was over - at least for the time being.
Sam stood before the large, oak double doors that led to the boardroom of the Bio-Logic Industries corporation. Involuntarily groaning as the Technohol went to work on his body, Sam could only watch with morbid fascination as his arms transformed into twin buzz-saws, much like those that Technohol Zero used to remove those exact same extremities only a week before. He also noted that the Technohol was taking its sweet time with the doors.
It was cutting around them in a very deliberate pattern that seemed to form a '13' in the doors; a '1' on the left door, and a '3' on the right door. The numbers fell in with a crash as the (remnants of) the doors flew open into the boardroom, and then Sam stood before the assembled leaders (as far as he could tell) of Bio-Logic Industries. "See, Hoss, now you can take it out on the people that are most dangerous to you - these assholes!"
Sam found himself grinning. He wasn't the one experiencing the mad joy that was causing that expression, however.
Clarice dodged another blast of fire issuing forth from the hole she'd made in the laboratory doors, and as soon as it ceased, she leapt back in front of it, taking some pot shots at the guy wielding the pink flamethrower. Her aim was true, at least eventually, and she filled the man's head so full of lead that it could be considered an ecological disaster site in some states. Looking at him once he fell to the ground, Clarice figured out what was happening.
This was simply gear that Technohol 11 had made while he was still working for Bio-Logic, before he had decided he wouldn't let them do bad things any more. Gear her friend made. Gear that he used alongside her in battle. Gear that these pricks were now trying to kill her with. She started seeing red - and not just Technohol red, either - and her chainsaw arm transformed into a hydraulic ram. She gave the door everything she had. It flew open with just one hit.
Clarice could see the other three goons approaching her: one was wielding Eleven's miniature chainsaw set, another had his weird, waist-mounted Gatling cannon thing, and a third was toting around two translucent pink blades of an Oriental bent. As her ram reset itself back into a loaded position, Clarice opened up with her Uzi and took down the Gatling fellow with a burst to the groin even as he peppered her with a truly impressive volley of bullets.
Her electrokinetic clothing managed to absorb enough of the impact that the bullets failed to penetrate her body, but they still knocked her flat on her ass, even breaking a few bones in the process. Still running on an overload of adrenaline and berserker fury, Clarice screamed incoherently and charged the guy with the chainsaw set, her ram striking him square in the torso and shooting, along with various digestive organs, clean out his back.
This caused the third goon to pause, suddenly overcome with the desire to not die horribly at the hands of this madwoman, and he turned tail and fled. Not about to let this desecration of her friend's final personal bits go unanswered, Clarice picked up one of the still-idling chainsaws and flung it circus-style at the back of the man's head, causing him on impact to fall face-first into a steel door with about fifteen different security warnings.
As Clarice rounded up her late friend's effects, she had her Technohol create a simple bag to carry the gear with, all the while making her way towards the last living focus of her insane rage. She'd picked up everything save for the last chainsaw and the two odd katanas at this point, when she looked her last assailant in the eye - and found that she couldn't kill him while he was all concussed and unable to fight back. She hated herself for that.
At any rate, Clarice used the chainsaws to cut her way into the steel door, and what she found inside made her feel all kinds of warm and fuzzy inside...
"Who wants to die first!?"
This is the kind of loaded question that immediately causes people to start pointing at their fellows, at least in unscrupulous types, and a significant portion of the Bio-Logic Industries board were happily playing into this stereotype. Some of them stood defiantly in the face of Sam's (well, the Technohol's) threat, but most were busy pointing fingers. "Tell me who's behind your Technohol organic circuitry weapons program! NOW!"
More finger pointing ensued, at which point the CEO stepped forward. "That was me, you cretinous thug. What of it?" This caused the man to take a slug in the arm even as his cronies slowly separated themselves from his person. As the man tried to collect himself, Sam blew a gasket. "How can you stand there so proudly, so indignant, as though testing your garbage on unwilling victims is no big deal? And you call me a cretin and a thug. Fuck you!"
Sam took several more shots at the man, realizing that he was suddenly in control of himself again. Of course, his shots thus missed their mark, though one or two executive types took glancing blows here and there from the gunfire. This only caused them to panic, though their boss stood fast in the wake of Sam's assault. "Fool! Did you think we wouldn't protect ourselves from your kind? We created you, and we can destroy you!"
Sam was expecting this, and as such, he managed to pull out the Saran Wrap and encase his entire body with it in time. The Technohol picked up on this, and heated the edges just enough to cause the separate wraps to combine into one large plastic-y sheath, right the deluge of organic circuitry solvent washed over him from the supposed fire-suppressing nozzles on the ceiling of the board room. Sam grinned an evil grin even as his coat dissolved at his feet.
He couldn't effectively wrap himself up while wearing it, you see.
Of course he left one gun in hand before he wrapped his last limb up, and as such was able to take a final shot at the stunned CEO - tagging him right between the eyes. "Score!"
Once the deleterious rain from the ceiling stopped, Sam leapt up on the table of the meeting room of the company's leaders, and made an ultimatum. "Okay, everybody, here's how it's gonna happen. Me and my lady-friend, we're gonna walk out of here free and clear. No video of the things we've done, and the things we're going to do on our way out, is ever going to make it to the police or the media. Also, we're never going to hear from you or your thugs again."
"In exchange, we won't tell the police, or the media, just what it is you've been doing here at Bio-Logic Industries. And we definitely won't come back for seconds."
"Does this sound doable, or do I have to kill each and every last one of you mother fuckers?!"
The board was silent for a few moments, and then looked down at their fallen leader. As the focus of their attention became Sam once again, the Bio-Logic movers and shakers sullenly nodded their agreement to Sam's terms. That, of course, was when Clarice made her way into the room, smelling somewhat of burnt plastic. "Hey! You're also gonna want to think twice about continuing your work on the Technohol. See, it'll just cost you too much."
Clarice then brandished the company's Technohol source samples, the fifteen varieties of organic circuitry goo that Zero had cooked up for them. "We'll be taking these with us, too, so you guys don't get any ideas." Clarice then turned around and walked out as the board started to protest this second notion, and Sam detected a strong smell of smoke in the hallway as he followed. "I take it you wrecked their labs up real good?"
"Yeah." Clarice stopped to give Sam one of the two vials of each version of the Technohol she'd stolen from the source repository she'd wound up in. "Here. This'll let you incorporate any special capabilities the other Technohols may have into yourself, which is what I'll be doing here as soon as we get out of Dodge. And, I think it'll let us detect if anybody else using the stuff comes after us. Say, if these guys have backups, or off-site computer records."
"Which I'm sure they do, somewhere."
The two Technoholic beings then made off as the police and fire departments showed up to investigate weird goings-on there, Sam driving his car through the expansive Bio-Logic Industries hallways until he found a convenient, rear-facing set of windows with which to escape through. As he later drove down a poorly maintained desert access road, Sam couldn't help but admire the plume of smoke rising from the Bio-Logic building.
He figured it'd be a good long time before they came after him again, if ever.
And if they did, he'd be ready for 'em. Oh yes.
Sam said goodbye Clarice as he dropped her off at her San Francisco apartment. Sure, she tried to kill him, and never gave it up to him, but he found that he really liked the girl. It was too bad that she didn't want to hit the road with him, though - she wanted to try to put her life back together, despite all the incredible things she can now do with her Technoholic powers. Sam couldn't argue with that though - he'd considered it himself.
Not for long, mind you, but for a bit.
She did at least give him a kiss goodbye in return - a long one, at that - which gave Sam a whole lot to think about as he cleared out of the city. Leaving town via the Oakland Bay Bridge, Sam couldn't help but think of all the ways he could use his newfound abilities to help his fellow man - especially with the cooperation of his Technohol, now that he'd helped it deal with its one main fear. Of course, he planned on taking a long, long vacation beforehand...
* With lyrical assist here or there from the esteemed Rob Zombie, of course.
** Everything mentioned thus far occurred in the previous three issues of Technoholic Man. You haven't forgotten all that already, have you?
Well, this is the end of Sam's story for the time being, now that he's dealt with the evil folks that gave him his incredible, Technoholic powers. Of course, this isn't the last you'll see of good ol' Sam, for there's a whole world of adventure out there - just waiting for him! Don't be surprised if he turns up sooner or later, perhaps in a more permanent series, either by himself or alongside a team of super-heroes...
Technoholic Man #4 (of 4): the End of the Road
by Denny Hill 2* (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Copyright 2001 All rights reserved.