She woke up.
The sunlight streaming in through the window hit the glass figure on the coffee table and sent dozens of rainbow figures dancing across the ceiling.
A rush of information swirled into Tina’s head: the sculpture was made by a 32 year old male 15 years ago in an art class held in a college basement in Northern Arkansas. It was made with a combination of hot sculpting and cold working to set the series of simple shapes on top of the star-like base. It was the first and last sculpture the artist ever sold and he committed suicide two years later after the bank foreclosed on his house.
She woke up.
Her eyes widened and she was panting rapidly. She held a hand to her chest, feeling the rapid, shallow movements of her lungs and her pulsing heart.
She stared at the sculpture again. The composition of the piece began to unfold before her. There was no more information about the artist.
She closed her eyes and forced herself to take a deep breath. The thoughts racing through her mind stopped.
“It was a dream. It was only a dream,” she croaked.
She collapsed backwards onto the couch. Immediately the exhaustion of the last three days returned and she groaned. The clock on the wall told her she had slept five hours. Most days that would have been enough, but after days without, she felt herself sinking back into slumber.
A loud roar came from her stomach and she snapped awake.
She realized that her throat had started burning ever since she spoke and she forced herself to stand up. Tina stumbled her was into the kitchen and turned on the sink. She cupped the water in her hand and slowly sipped it, letting it soak into her mouth and throat.
Finally she took a deep gulp and felt the water land in her empty stomach. She felt her stomach lurch in reaction. She would have sworn she’d drank some water before she slept. She searched the cabinets and pulled out a jar of peanut butter and a spoon.
She stared at the completed gadget on her work station. It looked complete, and she didn’t feel the need to work on it anymore. But she would never really be sure until she tested it.
Of course, that meant actually leaving the house and finding somewhere out of the city where she could fire it off without hurting someone or destroying something. Or both. Most likely both.
She didn’t know why she made it, honestly. It was the kind of gadget she didn’t even want to have to use as a last resort. But a few days before she’d heard about Frankenstein, the idea had wedged its way into her brain and she hadn’t been able to ignore it since.
She looked over at her suit, resting in pieces in her closet. She had actually planned on staying in until Frankenstein quieted down again, but even Slipstream had admitted the only reason she even might be of interest to him was her armor. He shouldn’t even know that she existed, and even then her armor was based of decades old tech. Frankenstein would never bother coming after her.
She quickly put on her armor, making sure to grab the flare gun Slipstream had given her, and placed her new toy inside of her backpack. She had to remove some of her nonessential gadgets to make it fit. She would need to create a proper harness for it if the field test worked out.
The trip outside of the city was uneventful. Seeing a hero fly overhead wasn’t necessarily an everyday occurrence, even in Macropolis, but nobody looked twice when one did.
Mach landed in an empty field. The only landmarks were the craters left behind by an alien invasion a decade earlier. The Council had forced them down in an empty farm field, and Beck Industries had bought the field in order to safely sweep for any dangerous technology that had been left behind. After that, they kept it undeveloped to use as a weapons testing ground. They technically never invited the local mechers to use it for their own tests, but they had never complained about it either.
Mach reached into her backpack and pulled out her new gadget. She had only made three rounds for it, each one had a slightly different composition. A major part of testing would be deciding which was the most effective. Of course she might make more of all three, depending on the results.
She loaded one round into the circular chamber and flipped the first switch. The machine whirred to life and she felt the round as it slowly began to move through the chamber. Each time it passed closest to her grip she felt the gadget as a whole jerk away from her hand. She kept a tight grip and the jerks happened more and more quickly, until it felt like somebody had grabbed the barrel of the gadget and was steadily pulling it away from her.
She held it at arm’s length, pointed down towards the ground ten feet away, and locked the suit’s arm movements to protect her arm from the recoil. She took a deep breath. Technically, the moment she pulled the trigger, the device could explode and what was left of her arm could end up crashing through her own window. It was also possible that the timing was off and the round would end up going through her own torso.
She pulled the trigger.
The gadget didn’t make any noticeable sound, though she felt the suits arm being driven back. Of course, whatever sound it would have made would have been completely lost amongst the sound of the round slamming into the earth, drilling a perfectly round hole deep into the ground.
She felt the device winding down and released the lock on her arm. The noise from the hole hadn’t stopped, but all she could hear now were the echoes from the round’s final movements. She let her suit tell her how deep it was and started to do the math in her head.
She did the math again.
The round had travelled almost 500 meters straight through the dirt and limestone. Technically, the device could be considered a railgun, an extremely inefficient and compact railgun that used a circular chamber to build up the rounds speed. A proper railgun, like the one used in the Orbital Defense Satellites, could fire between Mach 25 and 30. She had expected this one to move at Mach 5 at the most.
It had fired the small round at Mach 15.
She wanted to test another round when the communicator she’d hooked up to her suit began blinking.
“Mach, where are you? The meeting was supposed to start 5 minutes ago, and everyone else made it back.” Burnout’s voice filtered into her helmet.
Mach’s head tilted. “I was under the impression the meeting would not be until Thursday.”
“Mach it is Thursday. What day do you think it is?”
Mach didn’t respond. She tried to count the days in her head, but the days she was working on the project kept blurring together.
“Mach? Are you there?”
She shook her head clear of the thoughts. “I can be there in ten minutes. Please tell Mr. Writer that he can start without me if he desires.”
Before he could answer, she quickly cut the communicator.
She took another look at the soda can sized hole in the ground before moving to store her new device in her backpack.
A loud thump came from the west.
She slowly turned towards the sound.
A lone figure rapidly moved towards her.
She turned to run, but he was too fast. Frankenstein slammed into her back and she was launched towards the city.