The mask a.k.a. "ku shield mask". Where did it come from and why? I have no idea what-so-ever, I will offer up some conjecture; I think the mask started when I was first learning how to draw people and I couldn't draw good faces so I just made up this shield shaped mask to cover the face up. Then I added a filter to make it look like a gas mask.
I do remember at one point intending neotoy to be populated entirely by Asians and to resemble Tokyo or Chinatown, I remember a photo stuck in my mind from national geographic of a Chinese city scene of a crowded street and people wearing the little doctor's pull over type mask to protect themselves from the pollution. I said to myself- that is what the future will be like, we will all be walking around with those masks on our faces- if not something more extreme.
This dystopian view was also colored by the earliest versions of speculative neotoy, wherein the old planet earth was essentially bulldozed over or nuked flat. The result being a kind of nuclear winter with the air being so full of dust, radiation and airborne pathogens that the first generation of neotoy denizens would need to wear futuristic respirators just to breathe.
I integrated all this into neotoy, in the beginning when it was still going through its roughest formations- at one point there had been some kind of holocaust- either biological or nuclear in nature and in order to survive the denizens had to wear the face mask.
There was also the idea that when the core had remade the earth with giant earthmovers, and consequently there was so much dust in the air that it was impossible to breathe without a mask. That was before I refined the recreation into something along the lines of either nanotechnology or extra-dimensional energy crystallization method. That aspect of neotoy is still in flux. Anyway the mask stuck and now it is as much a part of neotoy, as neotoy itself.
The most current idea for the use of the mask is that it is used in training to limit sensory perceptions, to mainly inhibit hearing, sight and respiration- the purpose being the weening off of the physical world in order to increase extrasensory awareness and control of existential energy. When the core re-designed the human body, it was made so that it could be 100% independent from everything- but that potential is only realized with intense training and self-realization. The psychological boundaries and barriers are very hard to break but they are breakable- the mask is what makes this possible.
More about the mask, on the filter type thing that sticks out the front there are these painted red lips, kind of like inlaid into the round end of the filter, every mask has a unique set of lips, that is the only way to tell them apart. Also on the forehead part of the mask there is a red number or symbol, there are eight numbers and one symbol (excepting personal metaphysical modifications, which are common among the higher ranking unenlightened students). Each number stands for a grade of Ku or level of achievement and mastery of the associated skills, when a student first starts out as an initiate the mask is blank (virgin) and then numbers are added as the student progresses in training. Typically frame make the numbers when the students graduate, this is done in a very special process of polytoy reconfiguration, which makes the authentic numbers easily distinguishable from forgery attempts. They shine like fish scales.
The mask is designed to just cover the face which means it extends to the very edge of the chin and up to the very top of the forehead, and on the sides it reaches just to the end of the cheek bone on both sides. The front or face of of the mask is shaped at a very gradual curve and is smooth as opposed to contoured to fit the face exactly. On the inside there is a very complex structure that will be detailed further on in the post.
The basic shape of the mask is that of a shield, hence the name "shield mask". On the front there is a filter made of two parts, two connected cylinders in the proportion of the neotoy pictograph. Each is roughly 1" long. The larger is 3" in diameter, the smaller 1.5". They are attached in such a way that the smaller cylinder is attached directly to the mask while the larger is attached to the end of the smaller. The unique lips are placed on the center of the large cylinders face. The filter unit is placed directly in front of the mouth area of the mask and extends internally with a kind of mouthpiece.
On the inside there is a kind of mechanism for regulating the air flow through the cylinders and to regulate the aperture size of the eye-holes, these are both linked so that they both change at the same time and in proportion. The controls are located in the center of the inside forehead area, there is a kind of disk that can be rotated with the thumb. The actual faceplate, where the inside of the mask rests against the face is more genuinely contoured to fit snuggly, along with the mouthpiece which is gripped between the teeth (not uncomfortably so) there is a space for the nose which supports without blocking the air flow which is channeled down to join the filter intake.
The eyes rest in a kind of padded socket that allows for uninhibited blinking. From the outside of the mask the vision apertures only look like two very small holes (about as small as a pea) but they are much more complex. There is a crystal plate joined to the mask surface that protects the eyes from any kind of direct contact, then below the plate there is the regulator which uses a fluid cohesion aperture to dilate according to the selected setting. The breathing aperture similarly uses a pressure based system for regulation, and as I said before they are directly connected so there is only one control for adjusting both.
When the mask is tightly secured to the face light only comes in through the two vision apertures (not from the sides) and air only comes in through the intake. How is the mask connected? I will admit that I have not quite figured this out to my satisfaction yet... I am thinking a combination of features. First off there is the way it fits on the face- with the mouthpiece and the air-tight seal there would be suction and a good deal of friction. Also the mask uses three broad red ribbons that are tied together at the back of the head (one over the top, and two along the sides over the ears) so all together I think that would probably hold the sucker on, even in really intense combat situations.
As for the regulator settings there are 64 steps (8 x 8) The first and default setting is full bore open which means 100% visibility and 100% air intake. The last and final 8th grade setting is 0% visibility and 0% air intake. Which means a total shut off. Thats right... eighth grade students have the ability to fight and live without being able to see or breathe. But do they go around all the time like that? No, probably not, it would get a little boring after awhile I would think. How do students talk with their mask on? They don't.
Unless they have telepathic ability which is not surprisingly the first to be developed among ku students. Even the slow learners pick up the habit between 1st and 2nd grade. However range is limited and its not until 6th or 7th grade that they are able to talk over long distances. Usually 8th graders can speak to each other for thousands of miles, while those who are infinite are not restricted by either space or time and can converse at any distance, and in some cases can speak to themselves or others in the past and future. And that is all for now, more to come I'm sure.