Col. Baldwin, increasingly old, increasingly battered, ambles down Chuo-dori, arguably looking for Liquid Rooms. Deep winter. His jacket is an N-1 naval deck coat, fur collar long since frayed, size, a bit too short. “Double-double”pants, pilfered from a construction site near Ni-chome, billow out beneath, covering square-toed dress shoes; his sole concession to the date he’s supposed to keep tonight with yet another Yuka. The lookout for Liquid Rooms is not going well. The Espionage Rejects have yet to actually locate one, and whatever forecasts and precog flashes they get via the Overtones are vague, borderline hysterical, and ultimately useless. All the home office wants is hard data. So why send out the ER, who are by nature, nothing but allusive and obscure.
Baldwin’s brain is long since fried too, but a kernel of discipline still remains. He’s good at managing the long term tasks, seeing what the outcomes of any given scenario might be, but minute-to-minute task fulfillment is a struggle. Psy-Ops did a number on him, pre-op experiments before the E.S.P.Y. project really began… ferocious hallucinogenic drug cocktails, leftovers and backwash, the absolute dregs of so many failed truth serums, mind control cocktails, et al. Psy-Ops were just passing time, pilfering defense budget change. They never expected to find the Overtones, the missing frequencies between oscillating standing waves. But somehow, on October 13th, 1963, Baldwin’s brain tuned into them and began receiving and broadcasting signals -- like a two-way radio -- that no human mind had held before.
It manifested as hysterical laughter, which the doctors and white coats assumed was euphoria. But Baldwin knew, even then and forever after, that the moment was not transcendent. He was laughing because there was nothing out there. In the world and inside of himself.