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Blarghy

The Grand Tour (Jeremy Clarkson not Included)

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Blarghy   

With a laugh, Leviathan gestured back to the central area where they first arrived from.  "We'll go across the exercise area and have a look at the officer quarters on the other side.  My personal room is a little messy right now, but it's not much different from all the others, so I'll show you an unoccupied apartment so you can take some pictures."

 

In truth, he was worried that Bonfire might gather too much about his secret identity from something lying around in his own room.  Leviathan tried to avoid such things, but you just never knew, so why take the chance?

 

The apartment they arrived at, a spacious area with a connected bathroom, was full of the usual plant life and ivory furniture.  It had a small (by Leviathan's standards) pool, which might seem odd with the nearby bathhouse, but the reptile explained that, "It's actually for sleeping in.  I thought it'd be a nice touch."  Even so, there was also what looked like a dry pool too, this one lined with sponge at the bottom and packed with alien-looking pillows.  The actual bed, given that most guests prefer not to drown during the night. 

 

However, before all of that, the first thing Bonfire would probably notice were the walls.  Some were the usual vegetation-covered scales, but others instead took the form of large aquariums, which ran through the neighboring apartments, all across this level.  Bizarre, colorful fish inhabited them, a bustling ecosystem much like the garden above.

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olopi   

“So you decided to also include a five-star hotel in here? That’s what they’re like, right? Private pools, aquariums as walls, and some other stuff.”

 

He laughed, as he walked around the room a bit, approaching one of the aquariums to get a better look of some of the fish, before raising his camera. He’d switched off the flash, and took a few quick pictures, before turning back around.

 

“I swear, each of these sections would leave me speechless by themselves. The whole thing’s just … that but more, I guess?”

 

He went over to the actual bed, first pushed into it a bit with his hand, then laid down.

 

“So soooooooooooft. “

 

It also gave him a better angle to photograph the ceiling. So, while he continued to relax a bit, he also spent some time adjusting his camera’s settings to get a good shot.

 

“I’ll take a few more, then we can move on. “

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Blarghy   

"There's plenty of room, whenever you want to drop by," Leviathan offered again, basking in the flattery.  He had his doubts about bringing Bonfire down here, but this was just perfect.  Besides, why bother having all this stuff if no one else ever saw it?  If anything, he needed to be looking around for more trustworthy friends to share his headquarters. 

 

"We're almost to the bottom, though.  Sort of.  The next few floors aren't really this flashy.  They're my favorite parts of the ship, but that's because I use them the most and know what everything is for.  It depends on what you're into, I guess."

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olopi   

“Oh, I definitely will. Not as a full-time resident, it’s a bit too difficult to get down, and we’d have to deal with rent and all that, but you get the idea. When all the things align, then sure. If I need a Spa day, maybe?“

 

He laughed, and slowly got back up onto his feet, letting his camera hang on his neck again.

 

So next was … a sort of mystery? The things he used most. Bonfire wasn’t sure how to react. This was the sort of thing that would probably reveal a lot, so perhaps Leviathan would rather not show it off? Maybe he would, and it would offer insight? Unlikely, mainly because whatever it was, Cass probably had no idea of it.

 

“Only one way to find out how interesting they are. Unless you’d rather leave it at this and not cover those, that’s up to you to decide. It’s your masterpiece after all. “

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Blarghy   

"Hmmm..."  Bonfire's suggestion seemed to give him pause, but after a moment of thought, the huge reptile shrugged.  "I'll show you.  Just wait on more pictures for a minute; some of this stuff could cause problems for me if it went out on the Internet.  You never know what diligent people might recognize.  I'll probably let you photograph the scroll library, though.  That should help my cover instead of hurting it."

 

With that, he went back to the elevator and took Bonfire another few levels down, past the two other habitation levels for general crew, to another open central room.  This one was smaller than the exercise area above, let alone the enormous gardens; it had ivory cabinets built into the walls, a few other large containers right by the elevator, and some enormous rolling beds that were probably gurneys. 

 

Leviathan pulled out a drawer from the nearest free-standing cabinet and retrieved a few tools from inside: scalpels--again made from pearly bone--and other, less identifiable, equipment.  If Bonfire used his imagination, he might realize that one of the strange items Leviathan presented was actually just an alien stethoscope with extra bits of ivory added onto it to disguise its basic nature.  Very thin but durable thread, accompanied by a curved stitching needle, was easier to recognize.

 

"You mentioned a hospital," Leviathan reminded him.  "This is just the most basic.  I thought that it would be smart to have a central room like this that I can get to very quickly.  Then, once a patient is relatively stable, I can move them to whichever specialized infirmary fits their needs."  He pointed to the numerous other doors positioned between the wall-cabinets. 

 

"And a lot of the fruit and vegetables down here are for medical purposes, too."  He reached above his head and brushed some heavy, hanging flowers with one claw.  "If you squeeze these, their juices help with blood clotting.  Those over there are painkillers; the color of the stalks shows me how strong they are.  And those are sedatives, again color-coded for potency."

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olopi   

 “I, for once, am not incredibly surprised. Still amazed, but not as surprised as before. Big emphasis on the as, mind you. Because wow, you really went all the way. “

 

He walked around the room a bit, looking at some of the equipment, before approaching the plants on the wall to get a closer look at them.

 

“Here’s ones I’m not gonna try. “

 

He laughed, turned around, and walked past some of the doors and cabinets.

 

“I guess these store all the other stuff? And as you mentioned, the doors are more specialized. Not that I understand anything beyond basic first aid, so even if it wasn’t alien, I couldn’t do much with the stuff in here.”

 

“Don’t get me wrong, this is easily as amazing, if not more so, than the other rooms. I guess the  very visible amazement does wear down a bit after some time, but still, this stuff’s amazing. I guess I kinda hope I won’t end down here too often, too? Medical anything isn’t something I like to be at too often. “ he laughed once more, while returning back to the room’s centre.

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Blarghy   

"Oh, I don't know.  It's not always unpleasant.  Most people don't like hospitals, and I get that, but I wouldn't be the way I am without places like this.  It's not all pills and surgery down here--or at least, it's not always out of grim necessity.  Seriously, man, I can do something about that water allergy.  If you want to go from Bonfire to Greasefire, you just say the word."  With a smile and laugh to indicate that he was mostly joking, Leviathan made his way into the other rooms.

 

"This is one of my full infirmaries, designed particularly for cardiovascular issues..."

 

"...Here's a research lab..."

 

"...This is a medical bay to use what I develop in the last lab; I'm looking into making some changes to the basic Leviathan package..."

 

"...Here's an infectious disease ward; I've got a few hospital rooms that can be locked down air-tight, just in case some villain ever creates a new epidemic that I have to fix..."

 

"...I spent a lot of time in these rooms when I was first getting all this stuff up and running; it's where I do my botany work, like what you've seen in the garden upstairs.  And everywhere else, I suppose..."

 

It went on and on, and probably wouldn't end until Bonfire got bored and asked to leave; without the proper scientific background for several different fields of research that Leviathan seemed to practice, it was hard to get the full experience.  Room after room of black chitin machinery and white ivory devices probably just blended together, even with a tour guide.  Fortunately, after some time Leviathan came to something that might interest him a bit more.

 

"Here's one of my libraries.  I've got a few small ones for physical books, split up by topics or, in this case, age.  It's not much, but to enhance my cover story, I tracked down some old scrolls and other texts.  None of them are all that great or rare; I'm not sure what a lot of these are even about, since I don't speak the right languages.  They might be grocery lists or bad poetry.  It doesn't really matter, I guess.  Anyway, you can take some pictures; hopefully this kind of thing will make my whole cover seem a little more plausible."

 

The room was smaller than most of the others, with a rack in the middle for scrolls and two other shelves flanking it like a triangle, these lightly stocked with ancient, handmade and hand-written tomes.  A few were nothing but loose stacks of parchment, unbound.  Purple ivy grew up the sides of the shelves; Leviathan picked off one of the leafs and ate it while he waited. 

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olopi   

It was quite awe-inspiring to see it all. The base was already large, but Cass had not expected a medical area that big. It made sense, sure, with how much Leviathan seemed to be able to do just by himself, but it still came unexpected. He seemed to have something for everything. Or maybe he didn’t. Cass couldn’t tell, he didn’t have however many doctorates it took to understand it all.

 

The library was more his pace. He still didn’t understand most things, but at least he had some idea what he could do with it. Photographing old buildings was interesting, and this … sorta … was like that.

 

“Let’s hope these aren’t fakes, or that if they are people can’t immediately tell. Love the idea of all this though. “

 

With that, he took out his camera and spent some time walking across the room. There were some collections that already looked photo-ready, even if a few looked just a bit too staged for a photo. Still, he managed to get a few in, looking at the labels and texts of some of the books while walking.

 

“Can’t understand most of it, but it does sound like there’s some interesting ones scattered around. Why’d you decide to go for small libraries instead of having one massive one?”

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Blarghy   

"Well, I'd already committed to the honeycombed, small rooms down on these lowest levels; that's just good practice for labs and infirmaries.  You want to be able to isolate problems, like disease outbreaks or, you know, explosions and other experimental mishaps.  I thought I'd just stick with the theme.  And besides that, I already have two big, spacious rooms upstairs, the bridge and the garden.  Unless I had an idea for a really cool library, then why try to compete with those areas?"

 

After Bonfire finished taking his latest photos, Leviathan went to an adjoining study/reading room.  This was also another mini-library with bookshelves along the walls, but most of the space was either open for foot traffic, or devoted to padded chairs.  Leviathan sat in one of them, sinking into the sponge; Bonfire might get the impression that their tour was coming to an end, unless he wanted to explore any particular place further. 

 

"I've got one or two more things I wanted to talk about, but first, do you have any more question?  Or ideas on how I can make a more solid cover story for myself?"

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olopi   

Bonfire nodded. Architectural design, too? Even though that probably was more of a general skill picked up while working on this base, and not something that Leviathan knew from other sources. Probably. May have had to do with the structural setup too, Cass assumed.

 

“Makes sense. This allows you to sort things more easily, plus I guess not a lot of people will ever see this live.”

 

Once in the next room, Bonfire got into one of the chairs as well. They were really comfy, the oversize just adding to that.

 

“Eh, no questions that need answering. As for the cover story, nothing that springs to mind immediately, but give me some time and I’m sure I can come up with more things. “

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Blarghy   

"Please do," Leviathan replied.  "But in the mean time, I wanted to bring up my shapeshifting.  You've seen me do a bit of that already.  I've been trying to keep it a secret, but lately, I've thought that eventually it's going to come out.  Maybe it's better to make that happen on my own terms.  If someone else exposes me, then it could make my whole identity seem suspicious, but if you report it, then you can spin it as just an ability of my species.  What do you think?  It also helps explain how my 'ancestors' were able to get stuff like those scrolls, too.  Keeps people from wondering why we were never spotted in the past.  And hey, maybe we can have some fun with it.  Get some pictures of me impersonating famous celebrities, historical figures, and so on."

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olopi   

“I think that may not be the best idea, actually. At least not right now. “ He stopped for a second, then went on. “There’s so much information already, even if I spend my time spacing it out across the next few months, it might look a bit suspicious. Especially with you being able to take a human form as part of it. That’s gonna make people suspicious. Both ways. If they believe your story, there’ll be all sorts of stories. And if they don’t believe it, they might get closer to the truth. “

 

He suddenly stopped and chuckled, before getting back on track. “Now there’s a sentence I didn’t expect to ever say in all seriousness. Now, I think you’re right with it eventually coming out. And, strange as this may sound, it might be best to release the info of you being able to do this once suspicion builds. That way it’s not out of nowhere, but “yeah, they’ve been talking about it, and I guess it’s true.” As in, you, and your people, were trying to keep it a secret. I feel like starting the fire’s a worse idea than trying to mitigate damage once it’s there, so to say. “

 

“Just my opinion, if you still want to do it we can. I have some interesting ideas for historical figures, after all”

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Blarghy   

"Hmmm...no, I think you're right."  Leviathan looked a little disappointed, but it passed quickly, and he nodded a few times.  "That's good advice.  I should take it slow and be careful.  I guess I'm just a little impatient.  It's kind of hard to wait; I've wanted this for so long, and now that my 'career' is starting to get going, I don't always think things through.  So you're right; we'll start with what we have already, see how things go, and break the news about my morphing when the time seems right. 

 

"You know, you're pretty good at this.  Since you've got AEGIS connections too, I almost wonder if you're a real spy."  He gave a lopsided grin. 

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olopi   

That statement caused a hearty laugh from Bonfire. “Well, if I was I couldn’t tell you. “

 

“Of course, that’s exactly what a real spy would say.” He laughed again. “The AEGIS connections don’t have the best story behind them, after all. But at this point, with all the stuff I’ve done, I’ve managed to get a fair chunk of experience on this part of our line of work. Plus, some of it is just knowing the right people.

 

“Like you, because apparently you’re a world class hacker too. And a shapeshifter, some other things I know of, and probably at least few more things I don’t know about. Chances are if people knew that, you’d have at least a few three-letters trying to recruit you. Wonder how many metas they employ, actually. “

 

“But I will admit that if I got the offer to be a superspy, with all the fancy cocktails, gadgets and other stuff that includes, I’d take it. And not just because I love James Bond movies. Or maybe I’m already one? “ he grinned.

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Blarghy   

Leviathan adjusted his shoulders and played with his enormous hands almost as though he was embarrassed by the compliment, which once again pleased him.  "I'm not sure if I'd be good at it or not," he played it off with the thinnest of modesty.  "But it's fun to think about, now that I do...  Really, I'd just be satisfied to get on a team someday.  Growing up, some of my favorite heroes were the loners, but now that I've tried it, it's not so great.  Having people to watch your back and point out your dumb decisions is a lot more convenient.  Without your help, I never would've beaten Solemn.  I'd probably still be standing on that rooftop right now, watching him wave his phone around and threaten to expose me."

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olopi   

“Well, without you I’d be dying in a coffee shop, a hotel room, a rooftop, or a garage. So, you know, you’ve done way more than me, I’m just returning the favours. “ Bonfire laughed, but it was pretty clear that he was serious about at very least the first half of what he’d said.  

 

“Yeah, I understand what you mean. A lot of what I’ve been doing was solo, and … well, apart from thing it’s worked out sorta well, but working with others just adds something. Somebody who watches your back, somebody to just talk to, and so on. “ he’d switched to a more serious tone, so to say. He’d not changed much, but his voice was more muted, he seemed to put more thought behind what he was saying.

 

“I’m with you on the team goal. Not that there’s a lot of them out there right now…”

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Blarghy   

"Sounds like this city could use another one," Leviathan grinned.  "Maybe some clever heroes who already even have a base of operations."

 

Despite the apparent offer, Leviathan couldn't think, off-hand, of anyone else they might include.  He'd worked with a few other heroes, but never more than once or twice, and it was a pretty big commitment to spring on somebody.  Just two people hardly made a team, and he wasn't sure what contacts Bonfire might have of his own.  Although, given the other hero's talent for networking, he probably knew a lot more than Leviathan did.

 

Then there was another barrier: "Hrmm...and now that I think about it, I remember how hard it is to come up with a good name, too."  For such a seemingly-frivolous problem, his scaly forehead scrunched up.  Then again, Bonfire of all people should understand the importance of strong branding. 

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