This story was originally posted on the Yahoo Group SuperheroesDefeated
Part 1 The radiation well
“So this is your latest invention professor?” asks Superman as he peers around from the floor of the narrow trench 25’ below floor level of the professor’s laboratory.
“My latest Superman; what do you think of it?” asks the gray haired professor wearing a white lab coat.
“It’s very… interesting professor,” responds Superman politely as he walks deeper into the trench rubbing the lead walls lightly with his finger tips. “What’s the purpose of this lead lined trench in the middle of your lab floor?”
“This is a Radiation Well Superman,” explains Professor Larson, who chairs the research division at MU and is a longtime trusted friend of Superman. “The highly reflective floor you’re standing on is made of a revolutionary steel alloy. The alloy’s unique properties allow the alloy to reflect radiation like a mirror does light. Radiation is projected from that array of large glass disks above us that are attached to both sides of this well and directed down at the reflective floor,” says the professor as he gestures upwards.
Superman cranes his neck upwards towards the large glass disks. The glass disks the professor has pointed out measure about 4’ in diameter and are evenly spaced with 4 disks mounted on each side of the well. Each disk is made of opaque white polished glass and is encased in a chrome frame. All of the odd glass-disks are interconnected by a matrix of heavy lead lined conduit piping that all converge on one large dull gray lead junction box. The lead box is mounted at eyelevel on the lead wall next to a passageway leading to the escape shaft with its bright red steel ladder that rises to the lab above. The large round glass panels are mounted about 14’ above the mirrored floor and are aimed at the floor at a 45 degree angle.
“This is all…fascinating professor. It looks like you have put a lot of R&D into developing this radiation well,” remarks Superman as he kneels down on one knee to examine the room’s reflective floor. He rubs his hand on the smooth steel alloy floor observing his reflection as he thinks out loud, “Reflective yet strong; did you develop this alloy professor,” asks Superman.
“Yes I did Superman; specifically for this application. To reflect radiation that is projected by the large glass disks above us, AKA Elemental Projectors; with that much amplified radiation bouncing around down here I need to contain it, thus the lead panels attached to the walls and doors high above. In other words I use the lead to contain the radiation within the radiation well; the floor allows me to thoroughly bombard any object in the well and the lead contains the radiation,” explains the professor.
Superman rises from his knee and walks deeper into the narrow well turning 180 degrees appraising the strange lead lined well. He notes the narrow well has only two means of entry and exit: one means is out the top of the open trench or well onto the lab floor. Presently the large lead lined doors that run the entire length of the radiation well are retracted inwards on struts into the well allowing a clear view of a crane-hoist high above the lab floor. The only other means of egress is out a passageway that opens to the escape shaft with the red ladder that leads to the lab above.
The well Superman and the professor are standing in is actually a trench cut into the professor’s lab floor. The trench is narrow measuring about 12’ wide by 25’ long and is 25 feet deep; the trench or well is open all the way to the laboratory above. There are a dozen large illuminated floodlights, several cameras, sensors of all types, and speakers mounted high up in the well pointing downwards. The well’s doors and walls are completely covered with lead panels colored a dull grey. At the end of the well next to the passageway to the escape shaft, opposite the large lead junction box, is a numeric keypad mounted on the lead paneled wall at eyelevel.
“Looks like you’ve been very busy professor the last few months,” says Superman cheerfully as he turns and faces the professor. Superman, the Man of Steel is almost 28. He stands 6’ 4”, and weighs 225 lbs. His chiseled good looks, black hair with a distinctive split curl, bright blue eyes and clear voice made him a striking figure. Superman wears his traditional royal blue bodysuit with red trucks, a yellow leather belt adored with a diamond studded belt buckle, dark red leather boots, and a crimson red leather cape. A small raised red and yellow S-Shield is emblazoned on Superman’s chest. “What’s it all for?”
“You should visit me more often Superman, “laughs the professor.
“Professor… I’m grateful for all the help you given me…,” explains Superman
“I’m kidding; I know you’re very busy these days. Anyway Superman the Army wants me to test a new encounter suit they want to field in a few years. The Army wants me to do an independent test as they are suspect of the results submitted by the contractor that developed the suit,” explains the professor. “They want me to project radiation at their encounter suit using this Radiation Well we are standing in. Of course the suit will be empty; it will just contain radiation sensors that can be monitored as I bombard the suit with radiation. The key to the radiation well is the DLP within the large lead junction box,” “Here let me show you.”
Superman follows the professor to the passageway leading to escape shaft and observes as the professor stands before a keypad mounted on the lead lined wall of the well. The professor keys in a sequence of numbers and the cover of lead lined junction box mounted on the opposite side of the passageway wall springs opens and comes to rest slightly a jar. A slight bloom of compressed air vents from the large lead junction box as the professor opens the cover completely. The lead box is chucked full of numerous small computer hard drives with red and blue flashing lights and a chrome board with several toggle switches. There are several glass circuit boards lodged in a strange mother board of some type; there are a couple of removal flash drives plugged into another computer board that blink green in rapid succession and a strange tall glass cylinder that sets on top of a small projector pad.
“This is the DLP, or Digital Light Projector; notice the glass cylinder on that sits on top of the DLP; it amplifies whatever is in the glass cylinder. To put it simply I place a small fragment, even a very small particle, of any radioactive element within the glass cylinder. My radiation well, using the computers in the control room above, the DLP and the eight elemental projectors you see above, amplifies and projects the radiation given off by the element; the well is capable of amplifying an elements radiation 1000 fold.”
“Remarkable, so even the smallest partial of an element can used in this application; no need to transport large quantities of a dangerous element,” notes Superman as he turns away from lead junction box and walks deeper into the well dragging his fingers lightly over the smooth lead panels that line the narrow well. Superman walks slowly to the very end of the narrow well with his red and blue reflection from the floor following him. Superman stops before the lead wall at the far end of well and then turns180 degrees and cranes his head upwards past the strange array of glass disks at several round ventilation ducts with diffusers that run the length of the trench.
The professor turns and follows Superman as he says, “But here is what is really remarkable. The radiation well not only projects radiation but the computers analysis the elements atomic structure. It also generates a digital blueprint of sorts of any element’s atomic structure that can be stored and studied.
Superman looks at the professor optimistically.
“I thought that would spike your interest Superman. It’s what I’ve needed for years to begin my work for you in earnest,” says the professor happily.
“So there is light at the end of my dark tunnel?” asks Superman?
“You bet,” answers the professor. “NASA has radioactive space rocks they have retrieved with the space shuttle. They want me to map their atomic structure; it will be a good cover when I start work on the particles you leant me.
Superman looks at the professor questioningly and asks, “What kind of space rocks?”
“Don’t worry Superman; I’ve seen color photographs and the fragments are not green,” reassures the professor.
“That’s a relief. The ducts above the glass disks are used to change the air over in the well,” asks the Man of Steel?
“Yes. Once the radiation levels are normal the air within the well is exchanged with fresh air using the two large air tanks in the lab above. Not much more to see down here Superman. I’ll meet you up top and show you the control center,” offers the professor. “That is unless you want to use the ladder too.”