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Out of the Fire
by Byron Molix

6: Learning to Walk

   The next morning, Kel Etrice began training Ryan in the uses of the Passion Device Matrix. He let him borrow one of the bands that he wore on the backs of his hands and now was training him in using the most basic functions. They were together in a large room, designed to be a gymnasium and recreation room.
   "The Passion Device Matrix works by imagination and intent. If you can imagine what you want to happen, and the Passion Device Matrix can produce the effect, then it happens," Kel said. He pointed at a metal ball and the Passion Device Matrix glowed. The ball rose off of the floor and started to move around the room. Ryan watched in awe and his mind flashed with ideas of what was causing it. Was it a force field? If Kel was using a Gauntlet, Ryan would have been certain, but this was something new.
   "How are you doing that, Kel?" Ryan finally asked. His curiosity was starting to get the better of him. Kel put the metal ball down and turned to face Ryan. The glow around his Matrix died.
   "Does it matter? Knowing how something is accomplished with the Passion Device has no bearing on the result of doing it. I know what was taking place, but moving objects hasn't become any easier since I found out what exactly accomplished it. Think about when you used the Gauntlet. You knew it was a force field that accomplished most of what you could do, but did you know how it was projected, or how the force fields were immune to the effects of gravity? Probably not, and if you did know, would it intensify your ability to use the Gauntlet?" Kel said.
   Ryan thought about it and had to admit, he never had really wondered about what the Gauntlet was actually doing. It was like Green Lantern's ring. It just worked, he didn't worry about how it worked. It seemed the same thing applied here. Kel had shown him so much already in the 2 hour session this morning. He had told him about the most basic functions of the Matrix. Ryan nodded to show Kel that he understood.
   "Okay. You've already shown me that the Matrix can cause objects, including me, to move and that it can generate invisible force fields similar but less complex than those the Gauntlet constructs. What else can it do?" Ryan asked.
   "Well, some of the more basic things that can be accomplished include the creation of energy to barrage a target. You would probably term them energy blasts or something similar. They can be incredibly powerful, able to cause metals, and alloys to melt. It depends on the number of individual Passion Devices involved, but in most cases the energy blasts can vaporize wood, stone or other less durable materials," Kel said. He pointed at the metal ball that rested on the floor of the room. A brilliant multicolored beam erupted from around his hand and struck the ball. It was instantly incinerated.
   "Besides producing energy, the Matrix can also absorb it, but there is a limit to this ability. Once the batteries of each individual Passion Device are full, it won't absorb any more. The Matrix also uses your own body's electromagnetic field as a fuel source, but the ratio of power that can be used is more favorable if you are emotionally charged. Anger, fear, or excitement can easily increase the effects of using the Matrix. Like the Gauntlet it can let you know how much power is available by affecting your body. When it is nearly drained, you will feel extremely tired. When it is full or overcharged, by drawing power from your body's EM field, you will feel full of energy," Kel continued.
   "This ability is more instinctual than the others, it can be activated to drain power from a ready source, but it is usually used reflexively. Something else that is instinctual that the Matrix will do for you is heighten your sense of danger. All beings have an innate ability to sense danger, and the Passion Device can read the small warnings that your body produces and amplify this to protect you. You could walk down a corridor and thrown rocks would bounce off of a force field you did not consciously erect. The same is true of this," Kel said. He finished pointing his hand at Ryan. A bright blue beam of energy lanced out from his finger, laser thin and struck Ryan in the chest. The energy played out over his body and dispersed. Suddenly he felt much stronger and less tired.
   "Wow. I never thought the Matrix could do so much by itself. I was always worried about getting cut down by an enemy while I wasn't looking. That's why I conditioned myself to always have a transparent force field around myself at all times," Ryan said. Here was one of the deciding differences that Kel had explained to him in detail. While the Gauntlet acted as an extension of the mind and will of the user, the Matrix could do some beneficial things by itself.
   "So, the Matrix will always protect me from any nearby danger?" he asked. Kel nodded his affirmation.
   "Anything that is not standard and normal for your culture will certainly set off the danger cues of your body, and therefore the Matrix. The Matrix will then seek to stop this from harming you. For instance, you were not bred to live unaided in space or an airless environment, so your Matrix would seek to compensate immediately for these oversights. You cannot be suddenly thrust into a deadly environment while controlling a Passion Device Matrix, every environment can be nullified in some way or other," he said.
   Ryan's mind started to swirl with the immensity of the possibilities. He could step out the airlock right now and he would live. The Matrix would instinctually seek to preserve his life. That was something extremely nice to be thankful for. Kel Etrice had told him that the Matrix could easily transmute atoms and molecules into other configurations and did so to fulfill some of the other less thought intensive operations. However, Kel had not taught him how to do this himself, as he said it was the most complicated thing that he could learn right now, and that Ryan should familiarize himself with the basics first. Ryan quickly conceded the point, he had barely passed high school Chemistry and the prospect of easily altering the chemical composition of matter really made his imagination swirl.
   "How would you like to spend time on Earth familiarizing yourself with the Matrix?" Kel said, "I can let you maintain my other device for now. When you are ready to learn the more advanced concepts of usage, and have mastered the lesser abilities, I will present you with your own Passion Device Matrix that is specifically attuned to your own brain waves," Kel finished. Kel looked at Ryan with what he was coming to see as pride. Kel was proud that Ryan had easily grasped the basics and was ready to experiment.
   "That would be wonderful. But how am I going to get to earth, or contact you when I am ready to return?" Ryan asked. He had figured that Kel would teleport him down, but didn't know how he'd know to teleport Ryan back.
   "Well, to test the concepts I explained to you a minute ago, you can just fly there. I will simply make contact with the first humanoid flying off the planet in the interim," he said. Ryan had completely forgotten until a second ago that he could fly through space unaided and survive. There were so many things that were different from when he had a Gauntlet.
   Ryan nodded and said, "Okay. I'll go now, I'll just take my clothes with me. I'll see you when I get back, and am competent with my power." Ryan turned and waved to Kel as he started to leave the practice chamber. Kel looked at the earthling that was now his ward and suddenly his face took on the sad overtones that had been present the day before when he had found out that the boy's Recharger had told him next to nothing of how things really were in the universe. He didn't even know what the Enemy were until Kel told him. While this was bad, that wasn't the reason Kel was sad. He had monitored Earth last night while Ryan slept. Ryan had a rude surprise awaiting him when he returned home.

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Copyright 1995, 1997 by Byron Molix