“Not until that night. He came in and told me we had to dump the whole line of Type VII into the lab microwave. Burn them all out. Seems the Tong had grown impatient and was sending a guy to take the nanites whether they were ready or not.”
I remembered loading ampoule after ampoule of tarnished silver looking liquid into the microwave. It had thrown off crazy blue sparks, then collapsed into blackened chunks after ten seconds. If I hadn’t been scared of getting shot or sank to the bottom of the Hudson, I would have thought it was cool.
“We didn’t make it.” I continued. “We almost did. The beakers holding the main colonies were still out and we were about to nuke them when the Tong hitter came in.” I decided to spare Janine the gory details. “He got the Prof. Got me too because it wasn’t good to leave a witness.”
She looked up at me. I don’t know when she had started actually crying, but her face was red and tearstained. “He shot you? But you’re fine. I remember you spending a night in the university hospital, but they would have kept you for longer than a night, wouldn’t they?”
“If they had found a bullet. Or proof they I’d been shot, yes.” I agreed. “But the hitter shot me through one of the beakers. The bullet lodged right in my spine… along with the nanites.”
Janine stopped crying and sat up, away from me. “Are you saying… they’re in you?”
Honestly, I don’t blame her for that reaction. They should have killed me. Medical nanites are one thing; stimulating cell growth, attacking cancers and whatnot. But they aren’t for long term use and usually, they’re implanted by doctors, not hitmen. “They saved my life.” I said. “They also disassembled the bullet into more nanites and repaired my spinal column – all before I even got to the hospital.”
“Are you serious?” She gasped. “That’s impossible. I’ve never heard of anything like this…”
“You never heard of type VII.” I pointed out. “They take their instructions from my own body’s electrical impulses. An apparently, my body’s instructions are ‘stronger, faster, tougher’.” That didn’t make her less incredulous. She’d just found out her boyfriend was a real life superhero, but this was giving her trouble. “Look, I know it’s hard to take, but I’ll prove it.” I looked around for a convenient iron bar to bend, but I was fresh out. “Uh, pick up my coat.”
If it were possible, I believe Janine would have looked even more incredulous. My coat looks like a cheap, light, plastic trench coat. I buy them in bulk and unfortunately, the cheapest mass produced trenches are the stupid white number made in Maine that have since become my unfortunate namesake.
I slit open the linings and fill it with plates made of ceramic material lined with titanium. With a command from my gloves, the plates magnetize and lock together, becoming a bulletproof armor. The upswing is that hiding the armor in the coat makes dopes like the Tong’s gunmen think I’m bulletproof in and of myself. The downside is that after a few bullets, the coat falls apart. Hence my bulk buying.
But the other effect is that my coat weighs more than some large dogs and it’s awkward to lift without super strength. Case in point: my tiny, tiny girlfriend. She gave it a good go, grunting and trying to get better footing, but she just couldn’t lift it all the way off the ground.
Smirking, I picked it up with one hand and tossed it on the bed. “See?” I asked.
“I guess I’ll have to take your word for it.” She said.
“Good.” I nodded, letting her come sit next to me again. “So, I woke up in the hospital the next morning with a spokesman from the university offering a non-disclosure agreement. Apparently, the other beaker full of Type VII had gone missing and the University was trying to cover its ass by covering up the Prof’s death.”
“And you took it.” Janine said, disapprovingly.
“I’m only human.” I said lamely. There really was no excuse. He offered me free tuition and a monthly check for the next decade in exchange for my silence. I took it because my student loans were already piling up and I couldn’t imagine of lifetime of debt. “I should have gone straight to the news providers with the story,” I said, “but I reasoned that doing that might not only cause panic, but cause the guys who took the nanites to panic as well.” This was true; though I came to this conclusion somewhere further don the line. Janine didn’t give up her disapproving glare, so I changed the subject quickly.
“Anyway, the Tong had the other nanites and without safeguards, they could have ended New York by tripping.” I said. “So I went after them myself. Back then, I haven’t built all my gadgets, so all I had was a bandanna to hide my face and a Kevlar vest I stole out of my dad’s closet.” My father the cop. He still doesn’t appreciate ‘busy bodies’ like the Whitecoat being in his business.
“You stopped them?” Janine asked.
I sighed. Sore subject, you see. Not painful like what happened to Professor Caldwell, but it pisses me off. “I got the nanites back and nuked them… but none of the goons I rounded up talked. The higher ups – the guys that ordered the hit, the guys that wanted Type VII for god knows what – they’re still out there.”
My wonderful understanding girlfriend smiled at me. “And you’ve been fighting them all this time. You even got a sidekick in on it too.” More tears, happy tears, sprang form her eyes. “You’re amazing.” She put her arms around me and kissed me.
“The, uh… sidekick wasn’t my idea.” I added hastily. I do not take responsibility for my super powered fanboy. It took me three months to get him off my back and convince his parents to send him to the Academy in Langley. “But I promise, Janine, I’m going to get those guys. I’m going to stop them from doing this again and I’m going to make the Prof proud.”
Janine kissed me again. “You will.” Then she giggled; a very scary thing when it comes from Janine. “I bet you’ve gone all this time saving the city with no thanks or reward…” She put her arms around my neck. “I think I can think of something for my new favorite prelate.”
Somehow, I doubt I’ll have to depend on the shouts and waves of strangers to help me keep my spirits up anymore. In your face, Infinity!
End Who Is… The Whitecoat?