I never thought it could happen to me. I actually never thought it could ever happen to anybody. I used to think that we live in an ordinary world where everything is already planned for us, and we just need to follow the suit. You go to school, then college, then work… The days go by, and people go by with days. So, did I.

But everything changed in a minute, even in seconds to be exact. This is my story of how I became who I am now.

My name is Alex, Alex Challenger. I grew up in an ordinary family. And my family name says for itself. Our life was challenging. We never were rich, or famous, or powerful. We lived in the slums of Semcity megapolis. Back in school, there were days we had nothing to eat, we had no gas, no water supply, and sometimes even no electricity. For many people, maybe for all, living without it is impossible. Especially today when we cannot imagine our life without the internet, our gadgets, our electric transportation. But living in the slums left you no choice those days. Candle lights, water supply mile from home, and mean kids who laugh at you in school when you try to take an extra piece of bread to save it for your supper at home. It was challenging for all of us.

But challenging has other meanings. And my family has always challenged fate. We were hard workers, stubborn, purposeful. What I learned from my parents is that nothing comes easy in this life. Put your heart in everything you do, challenge everything, work hard and be honest, and you will reach all your goals. And I always did, and always do.

Amperman Stories. Chapter 1. Alex Challenger Origin

That’s how I became best in class, best in college, and doing my best at work.

After graduation and several failed attempts to get a job I felt down, I felt stupid, I felt useless. And when the world seemed to turn its back on me again, I kept thinking of my parents’ words. I just needed to try harder. And that’s when I found the job of my dreams. Actually, just a regular job at that time. But the industry it served was what made this job special. And my passion made it a dream job.

I got a job in TSemics Industries, a company working in the field of power semiconductors. It was a part of the bigger TSemics Chips Corporation, a manufacturer of power semiconductors, microprocessors, and various electronics. And that’s how my journey in the world of diodes, thyristors, IGBTs, MOSFETs, and other power semiconductor devices began. The company was young and ambitious. And my task was to put it on a map of power electronics world.

I never heard of the industry before though we’ve been living hand in hand with power semiconductors for decades. As it turned out all these electronic components are used in many industries and equipment like wind and solar, welding, metallurgy, electric vehicles and public transportation, power supplies, aviation, marine, etc.

So, I was assigned to promote TSemics semiconductors and brand. I was doing sales, marketing, business development, and I was loving it. Every day I was learning more and more about power semiconductors applications, production technologies, market, competition. I was learning how they help make our world greener.

And the day was coming. The day that changed everything. Forever. The day I met Lextor Anderson, or how they call him – Professor Silicon.

I have already worked for over half a year when I was assigned to prepare promo material for the new product line of thyristors. Those were high-power fast thyristors that are typically used in power supplies in induction heating and melting applications. There are several ways to set proper characteristics in fast thyristors. And one of them is irradiating the semiconductor elements with protons. Luckily, TSemics Ultralab had the required equipment.

I remember that morning like it was yesterday. It was the beginning of summer with its warmth and sunshine. Best time of the year in Semcity when even the slums look better, and the whole city changes its grey stony colors to green. As usual, I woke up at 5 am to run through the latest market news, check e-mails, read some marketing books, and do my morning exercises. Before going to the Ultralab I decided to stop by the TSemics office to get my camera. I was promised that what I was about to see was worth recording. And it really was.

At 10 am I reached the Ultralab. I’ve never been there before, and the whole facility looked like a small medieval town ready to survive any disaster. You could enter it only with a guide who happens to work there. The level of secrecy promised a lot. And that’s when I first met Professor Silicon. He happened to be my guide that day. That was the beginning of a great friendship leading to numerous adventures and discoveries. But these stories are yet to come.

So, there he stood, a man of about 50 years, friendly and happy face, wearing his glasses and funny beard. His hair looking like he has just survived a tornado. Full of energy and ready for action.

We introduced each other and headed to the lab. We crossed several streets, turned a couple of times, then crossed another street to jump in a golf cart. In 5 minutes, we arrived at the right place to enter the shabby building. Of all the buildings in this hidden city, this one looked very old, more like an old barn that needed to be quickly repaired before it falls down into pieces. But to my surprise inside of the building, everything was perfectly new, crystal clear, shiny, and totally new to me.

As it turned out, Professor Silicon spent the last four days in the Ultralab applying proton irradiation to the received semiconductor elements. I was lucky (or not?) to come early that day since there was only one more batch of thyristor elements left to be processed. Besides Professor there were couple more people helping him to track the procedure, monitor the irradiation process, load and unload the elements in a special cartridge.

The whole facility was full of various sensors, monitors, oscilloscopes, and deep down under the floor there was the particle accelerator. The heart of it all. That day we couldn’t go to see it since it had been in use for 4 days and the level of radiation down there was too high. So, I took a tour around the lab, got my pictures, and interviewed the Professor about the steps of proton irradiation. It was time to process the last batch.

I decided to stay a bit longer to watch the lab employees do their job. They loaded the cartridges and transferred them to the accelerator room. The irradiation process was about to begin when we started to hear cracking noise beneath. This was the situation when you feel that something is wrong. But Professor told me that everything was ok, the accelerator was working like that for the last couple of days. Maintenance was scheduled for tomorrow after this shift.

The first cartridge was on. The cracking continued to grow. By the looks on the employees’ faces, I sensed that nothing was ok, at least now. They offered to cancel the procedure and finish this four-day shift. Safety comes first, after all. Professor agreed and they decided to quickly shut everything down. And then we heard the first explosion. We had to run. Quick. And that’s when I realized I left my camera and notes in the closet next to the cartridge’s elevator system. All the material I was sent here for could be destroyed in a minute, the material that could bring TSemics Industries long wanted customers. I ran for it. Ran as fast as I could. I heard Professor voice shouting something like “What are you doing, psycho!? We need to leave the building! Get back, or you’ll die!”

And then I heard another explosion. Very strong light. Noise making my ears bleed. More light. It was like I was in the center of lightning, feeling nothing, hearing nothing. Like a dream. It was the last thing I remember about that day. And I did not get a chance to get my camera and notes.

I woke up in a hospital. At least I thought it was a hospital. Feeling sick. Feeling pain. As it turned out, three days passed since the explosion. And I still was in the Ultralab facility. They found me under the ruins the next day after the explosion and put me in their secret clinic.

Professor Silicon was sitting beside my bed. It was him who found me. It was him who saved me. It was something or someone else who made me different.When Professor switched on the lights in my room, it hurt me badly, I could barely see. I wanted to stop it. And that’s when all the lights suddenly disappeared.