Sleeping Giants Page 15

I don’t think there’s anything else I can try before I put on the helmet. You know, this really looks like a helicopter helmet. I’m putting it over my head now. I wonder if…


FILE NO. 041


I’m angry. I’m angry with everyone. I’m angry with myself. I should know better than to experiment with things I don’t understand and assume everything’s going to be fine. That was stupid of me. It’s not as if the leg controls left us with any doubt. This device wasn’t built for humans. Who knows what this thing can do to us? How could I ask Kara to try something I know nothing about, on her head, and not have a medical team with her?

She’s still at the hospital. She said the pain was so sharp, she lost consciousness almost immediately. We found her hanging by her arms at her station, like Christ to the cross. The helmet had turned itself off. It took nearly a half hour for the paramedics to reach her and get her out. She could have died a thousand times over.

When she came about she was completely blind. We almost lost her twice on the same day. Kara being Kara, she ripped out her IV the minute she woke up and tried to feel her way out of the room. She tripped over something and knocked herself unconscious on a metal cabinet. They had to close a cut on her forehead, eight stitches or so.

There were superficial burns on her face. The doctors treated them and wrapped a bandage around her head to cover her eyes. She was supposed to keep it on for a few days. Of course, she removed it after only a few hours. She said it was itching…The doctors scolded her halfheartedly. They’ve seen her a few times already—routine exams, some cuts and bruises—so they were probably surprised she kept it on that long. I was.

When I stopped by the hospital to see how she was doing, the whole room was agitated. Doctors were arguing amongst themselves, kept calling in other doctors to examine her. I asked what was going on about a dozen times, but I couldn’t get anyone to listen to what I was saying. Kara threw a lamp at the wall. That got their attention.

The doctors told her that her eye was fine. She didn’t seem ecstatic enough, so they went on to explain that her retina had somehow been repaired. I didn’t believe it myself, but they showed us the before and after pictures. It didn’t take a medical degree to see it. That helmet had fixed her. It probably detected an eye injury and proceeded to repair it. I can only hope that’s why it was so painful.

It’s hard to express how relieved I am. Kara’s fine. Better than fine, really. This is closer to a miracle. So why am I angry? Well, I was so happy. I rushed back to the lab and I tried on the helmet myself. Stupid, right? It didn’t do anything, so I asked Ryan up and had him try it on. I had every lab assistant come in and give it a go. When that didn’t work, we tried the helmet at the other station, all of us. Why risk one person’s life when you can go for half a dozen? Oh, and the helmet’s broken. As far as I can tell, the other one was already broken when we found it. Neither of them work anymore.

What was I thinking? It repaired her eye? For all we know, these aliens might have one big eye. Maybe they have eighty of them. They might have the eyes of a fly, they might have no eyes at all. It could have ripped her skull in half, disfigured her, turned her into something she’s not. A million things could have happened to her, most of which would probably have killed her.

It’s my job to keep her safe, to make sure nothing happens to her. I sent her up there and she trusted me. She trusted my judgment, she trusted that I wouldn’t send her in if I thought she could get harmed. I’m supposed to be a scientist. I don’t know what I am anymore.

Kara’s scheduled for an MRI tomorrow. We should know if there’s any brain damage. If I had half a brain myself, I would have waited for the results before letting anyone back in the sphere. It’s too late for that, but I’ll have the doctors run a lot more tests before I let Kara back in there. We should wait a few weeks anyway, she might exhibit more symptoms as time goes by.

I hope she’s OK, with all my heart. Not just for the sake of the project, I don’t think I could live with myself if I let anything happen to her. I’ve grown a lot closer to her. I’ve grown closer to all of them, but I really like Kara.

I’m not the only one who likes her. Ryan hasn’t said a word, and we all let him think we haven’t noticed, but of course she knows. I know. Vincent knows. I’m sure the robot knows by now. I wish Ryan only the best—who wouldn’t?—but I hope his crush disappears on its own. I certainly hope they don’t end up together. I love Kara, but she’d end up hurting him, a lot.

That being said, the two of them are doing great. It took a while, but he’s learned to leave her enough space. I have to give Ryan credit for that. They complement each other quite nicely. They work well together. They’ll have to if they’re going to stare at each other all day.

So, I have an incomplete robot with broken controls, one infatuated pilot and one injured. I’m not sure where that leaves us. The helmets are a major setback. I don’t know when, or if, we’ll be able to fix them. Even if we manage to get them working again, there’s no guarantee we can wear these things without ending up in the hospital. They weren’t meant for us, after all.

Which brings me to the leg controls. Ryan’s really got a bad deal on this one. His helmet doesn’t work and his legs bend the wrong way. I wish I could find a way to modify the leg controls to fit our anatomy, but there’s too great a chance of permanently damaging the controls if we start tinkering with them. I can’t reproduce the metal that was used if we break something on that station. I’ll try just about anything before I let anyone approach it with a blowtorch.

Ryan has it in his head that he can work the legs facing the other way, with his back to the console. He’ll have to walk backward all the time. I think it’s insane but I have nothing better to offer so I’m inclined to let him try. Walking is a lot more complicated than people think. We do it unconsciously, but it’s a lot more difficult if you have to think it through. Make a comment to someone about the way they walk and see how awkward they become. It’s complex, and hard to decompose.

They won’t be able to keep the robot balanced if Ryan doesn’t get the movements perfectly right. It’s a tall and narrow structure, and the center of gravity is going to be really high. It’s scary enough as it is, and I can’t imagine how bad a fall would be once we get the legs on. It would probably flatten a city block or two.

I brought in some engineers to create a computer simulation. It will connect to the leg controls and to the other station and convert the pilot’s movement into a computer model of the robot. We’ll be able to see the results on computer screens. It takes weight, speed, and several other factors into account. It should at least give us an idea of whether or not what we’re trying to do is possible.

So, if we get the helmets working without killing ourselves, if Ryan can control kilotons of metal while walking backward, we’ll be left with the console. Ryan will be facing away from it, so someone else will need to handle that.

Right now it doesn’t work, of course. Vincent seems no closer to interpreting the symbols that are on it than he was when he first came in, and we have absolutely no idea what it does. This might be unprofessional of me, but I say we can cross that bridge when we get to it. We don’t know how complex it will be to operate. We might need a physicist, or a soldier, or maybe someone who’s really good at video games.

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