Thursday, November 20, 2008

Techno Heroes 2: Titan

Conner Bragg is a humble man, but he has a gift for insults. He also has a gift for engineering, and a friend who combines scientific and financial genius: Derek Colt of Equalizer Systems. As Titan opens, however, the two childhood friends are having yet another argument: Bragg refuses to return to Equalizer, preferring to work on high-tech prostheses instead of armor and countermeasures.

Bragg: I want to give people arms and legs, not blow them off!
Colt: Sometimes the best way to save lives and limbs is a good gun backed with even better armor.

Bragg then reveals a new development: an eccentric billionaire wants to help him produce cutting-edge prosthetics. Bragg will be away on business that weekend to consider the deal, so he won't be available for the usual shouting matches with Colt.

Bragg: Don't even try to reach me--or find me. This guy's no fool, and I don't want him to catch one of your stupid bugs.
Colt: No one catches my bugs.
Bragg: There better not be one to catch, or my first new prosthetic will be a replacement head after I knock your old one off. I bet it'll work better.

But Bragg has doubts of his own as he nears the mountain hideaway of Julian Krohn. It isn't just that he half expects a guy who looks like an ugly old lady...

Bragg [thinking]: Nailed that one.
Krohn: No one followed you.
Bragg: I don't think anyone did. I was careful.
Krohn: It was not a question. No one defeats my security, Mr. Bragg. Remember that.

The conference soon deteriorates. Bragg realizes that the prosthetics he is to work on will grant superhuman strength and mobility. Why would the handicapped need that? Krohn shows him into a lab where a number of armored men await him. Krohn had hoped originally to use robots, but the AI issues were too tricky given the number of unforeseeable factors. So he decided to use human pilots for his plan to stabilize the world on his terms.

Bragg: So where do you get these guys?
Krohn: From the ranks of the poor, Mr. Bragg, especially in the third world. The poor of the world are legion, and their cooperation may be had for a pittance and a shred of hope--the hope of ruling as one of my new titans.
Bragg: Do you always talk like that, or is this my lucky day?
Krohn: If you persist in mocking me, Mr. Bragg, it could be your lucky day: "the day of death is better than the day of birth," you know.
Bragg: Yeah, and "The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?" I read more than just tech manuals, Krohn.

Krohn has his men seize Bragg and place him in a lab. He can work or die; it is his choice. Krohn hints that he has also found a process for making people cooperative, though it can cost some loss of mental function.

Bragg: Another cheap threat, Krohn? Which low-budget video did you escape from, anyway?
Krohn: My threats are never cheap, Mr. Bragg. And from now on, you shall acknowledge me as your master, just as my titans do. And like them, hereafter you shall call me Kronos, Lord of the Titans!
Bragg: More like "Crow-nose," beak-boy.

But Bragg finds himself locked away. Gazing at the suit parts all around him--and the cameras that are Krohn's unblinking eyes upon him--he mentally curses Krohn for not picking on Colt instead:

Bragg: Colt would have a field day with all this--helmets, gauntlets, cuirasses. He always has to use the fancy word for things. What would he do if he were here? I don't think he'd join Krohn...

His attempts to evade the security cameras stymied at every turn, he closes the comic with a muttered threat.

Bragg: It would be easy to turn this stuff into a real fighting suit. If only I could get away from his cameras, I'd show him he wasn't lord of at least one Titan.

Watch for the next installment of Techno Heroes: Darklight!

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