Miyoko told me to meet her at 9:00pm at Paragon Dance Party. That gave me a couple of hours to get ready. I phoned ahead to Icon to see if they could work me in, and they said they could, as long as I kept it simple. I bounced over to my apartment, took a quick shower and threw the uniform in the laundry. Donning another, identical set of clothes, I headed to Icon.
Icon is where heroes get their uniforms. I went to the one in Steel Canyon, mostly because it’s least out of my way. I braced myself when I went in, as I’m never quite prepared for Serge.
Serge is the proprietor of the Icon in Steel. He’s a cheerful extrovert with a sharp eye for fashion, who I trust to help me make good decisions. My own eye for clothes is dull at best, and it’s good to rely on his judgment. I don’t know the man’s actual sexual preference, but he may be the swishiest person alive. True to form, as soon as I stepped in the door, he cries, “Machinst! Come here and give us a hello!” and sashays over and gives me a hug. I never know how I’m supposed to return this man’s hugs, and always feel awkward about it. If he notices, he doesn’t care.
Serge calls to one of his many assistants, most of whom are petite, extremely attractive and fashionably dressed women, “Sandra, dear heart! Come meet Machinst!” All the while, Serge has his arm around me and is leading me directly over to what must be Sandra.
Sandra seems to be an extremely perky woman – I have yet to see Serge hire any other kind – who is not in the least upset to be interrupted by Serge bearing his latest fashion disaster. Sandra appears to be working on a terminal, displaying a costume for a superheroine who must have enormous breasts as there appears to be an actual structural member in the suit to support them. The technician in me is interested in this until I’m warmly hugged by Sandra, which distracts me.
It’s a pleasant enough distraction, except that I’m wearing fairly tight pants, and if it gets too distracting, Sandra will certainly know it. I have a technique that I use to keep this from happening, where I start solving fairly complex expressions in my head. Math is apparently a turn-off.
Serge asks why I’ve come by. He and Sandra listen intently as I stammer out something about a party, Miyoko, and an updated look. Serge asks some sharp questions, and then leaves me in Sandra’s capable hands. I mean that somewhat literally. She insisted I disrobe – Serge doesn’t believe in changing rooms, which is always a bit daunting – and also insists on updating my measurements. By hand.
After spending several moments desperately trying to work out the arc distance per joule of input and ratio for range extension amplification by field emission, I realize Sandra is asking me to look at her terminal. I spend a moment wondering if I should get dressed again, and she laughs and says, “You spend all day running around the city. I can’t think of anyone who’ll complain about seeing you in your skivvies. Look at what I’ve got here.”
She had several suggestions ready, based on what she knew of my costume, and what we’d discussed. One of the costumes had some big spiky bits which I didn’t like, and immediately vetoed. The other had no gloves or boots, which won’t let me use my powers, as they’re built in my gloves and boots. There were two that were workable… one was a sort of Man In Black look, with a sort of Phantom-esque domino mask, and the other was variation on my current costume, with only minor changes resulting in a completely different look. Mostly the colors, and the lack of a hood. Lighter, warmer colors instead of the brooding dark ones.
I liked it… except that it left my face exposed. Sandra, persuasively, argued that it didn’t. I still had welding goggles (I never knew welding goggles came in so many colors!) and would have a beard, trimmed in a neat goatee. My hair would be changed by their crack team of stylists. She felt my own Mother wouldn’t know me.
I decided she was right. I wasn’t the same person who’d fled Crey. I was in much better shape. My hair was bleached. I’d never worn a beard before. My eyes were hidden. And no one who knew me before would ever expect to see me in these tight pants.
It took Icon less time to run up the new uniform than it did for their stylist to re-bleach my hair and beard (no more roots for me!) and to give me the needed trim. When I left, I felt like a new man. A man ready to go to a party with an extremely cute cat-girl who happens to be an extremely powerful hero.