1.14: Laser Boy: Dressed in Light
Vince dropped to land in a crouch. He was a stark contrast to the gleaming white that surrounded him. Where he squatted, dirt and muck soiled the pristine floor for a moment, but as he watched all the debris that had fallen from him seemed to evaporate.
He had seen this sort of white environment before on news reports. He was probably in the science wheel.
He stood up slowly. He thought for a moment about going back into the vent, but he was so drained emotionally that he just shrugged his shoulders and started moving in a random direction down the corridor.
He only made it a few steps when a bright red light scanned his entire body. For a second he thought he was dead because it looked so much like the waves of energy that had taken out Skum Bunny and Black Elvis, but after a moment the light turned green and scanned him again. Then he became surrounded by a lattice of intersecting lasers that contracted to his body like a second skin. He felt a slight warming, then his vision suddenly filled with a Heads Up Display that followed his vision wherever he looked. When he looked at his body, he was covered by a light suit, and his hands had terminal input pads under them, all made of light. The plain white curved walls around him came alive with data, information, and graphics. He was disoriented for a few moments but then he realized this was some moist tech way of projecting images onto his corneas. He could see the beams coming from a track that ran along the center of the ceiling of the tunnel that was lined with lasers every centimeter or so. No matter how he turned or moved several of those lasers were able to project the data right into his eye without any discomfort at all.
Most of the writing and symbols around him were unreadable, but there was a map icon and when he focused on it, it exploded outward to fill his vision with a translucent map of the science wheel showing where he was and filled with various glowing paths that led to a multitude of destinations. As he started walking again, some of the lines glowed brighter. He recognized a game icon that showed up all over the station. He focused on it and the terminals at his fingertips changed into fantasy style laser guns. He looked ahead and a swarm of robotic wasps was flying right at him. He started to turn and run before he realized they looked remarkably like the icon he had just focused on. He raised one of his virtual lasers and shot one of the wasps out of the sky. It exploded spectacularly. The wasps were made of the same light as his virtual suit, but they were much more realistically rendered.
He shot at the wasps for a minute, but just as he started to have fun the reality of his cowardice crashed down on him, making him stagger. He flicked the game off.
At a loss, he looked back at the map and saw a large chamber near him with a picture of a pink tree marking it. The interface he was looking at began to change. Unfamiliar words disappeared and symbols and icons he could understand began to take their place. It was remarkably user friendly. He could not believe how terrible the security was here. There were no alarms or guards or anything. Maybe this was all to distract him while the guards came, but he had been here for about fifteen minutes and had not seen anyone.
Vince decided to make for the room with the pink tree. As soon as he thought it, the path glowed brighter and a pink line appeared on the walls to the left and right of him. He followed them until they disappeared into a wall. When he approached the wall, it seemed to melt into an extension of the tunnel he was in. When he passed through, it closed silently behind him. A few more turns like that, and he came to the large room. When he entered, it turned out to be a huge domed atrium full of brightly colored plants. Most of them were glowing with their own interior light in day-glo colors. Pinks, oranges, red, and yellow so bright they hurt his eyes. It looked nothing like the lush green vegetation that grew in the downstem wilds, or the green, brown, and yellow weeds that grew in the Slum Sphere. It was quite striking and alien. He followed a path through the bright foliage to the other side of the atrium. He noticed his display blinking in and out whenever a leaf or branch blocked the lasers from him, but the amount of lasers mounted in the ceiling and walls was so great that the lapses were quick.
There was a blinking caution symbol on a door on the other side of the atrium, and since he had exactly zero idea what he was doing or where he was going, Vince made for that passage. It is entirely plausible to assume that Vincent Pawn Gogh was not thinking clearly at this point in his life.
He stood before the doorway, about to enter when he stopped and just slumped his shoulders, paused a moment and sank to the floor. The light display in front of him faded into invisibility and Vince was just alone in a strange place he had never been before on this small floating space can circling a dead mass in cold empty space.
He started thinking about the first time he’d met Elvis, then he wondered where they were right now, and then he started looking around, aware of his surroundings once more, and then he stood up.
The light display came back into view once more in front of him and around him. It was truly bizarre that there was no one around. What were all these wonderful features for if there was nobody to use them? And then he noticed the flashing light again.
“Laser Boy,” he muttered, “It’s a mutarded name.”