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  1. cw: difficult stuff January 2021 Angelic sat in the conference room in a student intern's chair and watched as the super-geniuses talked. With a clear disciplinary record at Claremont going back past the Thanksgiving holiday, she had finally won a full-on evening internship for her senior year at Claremont that she had long coveted. That she was in a conference room shadowing Miss Americana rather than her laboratory working on her internal upgrades had not produced any complaints - "I understand," she had told Miss Americana before everyone had arrived, "that human interaction is as important for the scientist as is research." So she sat, dressed in a pencil skirt and bulky sweater that were a far cry from her lab gear, gleaming silver earrings and green-black hair the only concessions to her usual fashion sense, looking as human as anyone else in the room as some of the greatest minds in the world talked business. She was currently engaged in recording the conversation, constructing a three-dimensional model of an internal framework that would sustain internally concealed titanium networking, and in tasting the coffee she had poured for herself to blend in.
  2. Archetech February 2021 The meeting with Miss Americana's people had gone smoothly. They were professionals, she was a media icon; everybody knew how the game worked and how nobody was going to try and make her look stupid. She'd been the right person to call; a synthetic heroine who herself had been instrumental in defeating a robot invasion, and someone who had been on the show before and knew the ropes. And talking to her was certainly always very pleasant. "It's the damndest thing," Richard had warned his intern Terry, who was new to this particular heroine. "Paige swears it's not anything psychic, and it's not anything biochemical or magic either. Maybe it's just, you know, all that smartness being used to figure out how to talk to people, or...I don't know! Anyway, she's something else." They'd agreed to meet outside of Miss Americana's office, in a small gardened atrium on the Archetech campus that bore the name of a staffer killed in the Deep One attack a few years back. Richard had stopped to smell the flowers already though and was tossing a ball to himself, back and forth, as he kibitzed with the crew in between letting them get set up for the shoot. Miss A's intern was already there, but the grumpy-looking girl with the green and black hair was mostly observing.
  3. Summer 2020 Angelic had been full of questions ever since she'd found out what was in the sealed sample container that had been personally delivered to Miss Americana - the one that the latter was now in the process of flying to HAX personally. "Active computronium!" She sounded excited; considerably more excited, Miss Americana knew, than the teenager usually was these days. A few years earlier she might have been buzzing around Miss A as they flew, as it was, her wings were spread and there was a smile on her quicksilver face as her magnetic flight propelled her along after Miss A. "Do you think it has a live connection to the Communion hive mind?" She rubbed her wrists, where the inactive computronium that she used to interface with cybernetic systems lay buried. "I wonder if a full-on interface is possible using terrestrial equipment. We may need to take it into deep space." - The announcement of Miss Americana's imminent arrival with her dangerous cargo hadn't quite interrupted babysitting-the-playdate time but it was close. Via closed-circuit camera, Mara could check in on the littlest kids visiting. "The robots are making soup!" declared Charlie, Mia's friend from Nicholson, whose precognition and enhanced intelligence were intermittent enough that he wasn't actually a threat to anybody's job at HAX yet. Mia turned to her friend and declared, a wide smile on her face, "More like...poop!" Charlie grabbed his sides and fell over laughing, with the sweet innocent laughter of an early kindergartener, the sound ringing all through the small office. "You're so funny!" Charlie's mom worked long hours and was a single parent, so he went on a lot of playdates. Luckily the Nicholson program was very good at arranging time out with trusted friends in safe company. Wander was close by, after all. And come to think of it, it was about time for Chitin's visit!
  4. Archetech August 2019 The impossible had happened and a shining knight had found love with a perfect goddess of science and patriotism - or so it was known in much of the Freedom City community. The reality of the unholy cyborg killing machine from beyond the stars and the mysterious controller behind Miss Americana was rather more complicated than that, and far less known, even inside the relatively small confines of the hero community. But it had happened and those two lovebirds really were married now, a texted picture of rings on fingers having been sent to Erik and Talya's cellphones about twenty minutes earlier, about the time the Interceptors had arrived. They, their children old enough to stand a party, and a selected few friends of the family had been invited to the reception for the wedding at Steve's invitation. They were about ten stories up in a glass-walled, flower-bedecked atrium in a room staffed entirely by robots too far off the humanoid to be creepy - some were serving drinks, one appeared to have built-in speakers and was parked near a small dance floor, and others had been dusting and cleaning when the Interceptors and party arrived. It was a nice room on a sunny summer day, the sky overhead a lovely shade of blue dappled with white clouds. Steve and his bride were supposed to be there at any moment...
  5. April 2nd, 2019 "Sir, April Fool's Day was yesterday," the ArcheTech receptionist said, trying to keep annoyance out of their voice. "And that's in incredibly bad taste to-" "Yes, I know what yesterday was," Archeville replied calmly, "I am aware that the timing of this call is not ideal. But I am back in town, now, and this was the earliest chance I had to call to make an appointment to meet with Miss Americana. And she will want to meet with me, because-" It really was the first chance he'd had to call. He'd been in Freedom for about a week, intentionally keeping a low profile. He had already mended fences with one of the (former) Interceptors, and had a harrowing encounter while meeting with the Freedom League just yesterday. He was still shaken from that, but he knew he had much more to do, so he pushed himself on. And now he was trying to set up a meeting with the woman whom he had handed his company over to, which was proving about as difficult as he'd expected. "Because you're Viktor Archeville, founder of ArcheTech," the receptionist repeated. "Yeah, yeah, you said that already. Do you know how many people try to get to see her? And they pull off better stories than that." "I am sure that is the case," he replied, still calm and smooth, "but I really am..." Meanwhile, an automated alert had pinged Gina Evans. She had kept tabs on Archeville for some years after the ArchEvil incident, but eventually handed that over to an assortment of 'bots. So she was aware that Archeville had come back to Freedom, and was planning to meet with various folks, but not his exact schedule. The most recent ping alerted her that Archeville -- or at least someone claiming to be him -- had called in to ArcheTech, and was trying to make an appointment to meet with her.
  6. January 2019 Gina Evans' House It was a Sunday morning when Miss Americana had nothing particular to do that Gina awoke without Steve - which was not uncommon in their relationship. His cybernetically enhanced constitution meant that he slept at odd hours and his troubled dreams meant he slept erratically even then. Given how stealthy Steve could be when he wanted to be (especially since he'd figured out all the boards that creaked when he stepped on them in this house), she'd awoken with the other side of the bed empty many times. What was unusual today was there was a note on her endtable, a carefully printed bit of block penmanship inside an Archetech postcard. FRIAR TUCK. A codeword (from the ancient pre-Internet days of hacking) that everything was fine. I AM IN THE KITCHEN. I WILL MAKE FOOD. YOU SHOULD COME OUT WHEN YOU ARE READY. The last was underlined. Her bathroom was between her and the kitchen anyway. It was easy enough to call up an image from one of the robots zipping around the home to get an image of Steve working in the kitchen on the hash browns and eggs that were the best of what he cooked, and the meticulously set kitchen table with papers on one side and a small wrapped box on the other. They hadn't done much for Christmas that year outside of their home - but this was one present he'd managed to keep to himself.
  7. Fall 2018 Archetech When the self-driving car from Archetech arrived, there was an Omegadrone inside it, sitting in the rear passenger compartment. Steve looked up at Delta, his scarred face hard to read through cybernetic enhancements designed to give tactical feedback rather than the finer points of humanoid facial expression. "Delta. Miss Americana felt you would want company." It was his first chance to meet the woman who had been described as the leading expert in Terminus technology on this plane - the greatest who was not mad, anyway. The Omegadrone's voice was grave and deep; an impossible thing given the cold, emotionless horrors that were Omegadrones but one Delta had heard already. After all, the Omegadrone had been among those who'd met him in this new realm and had asked him questions about a realm both of them knew only too well - questions about dread Nihilor. "I have secured a collection of Earth-Prime music and educational recordings for the drive. It is short but you may find them productive. How are your studies progressing?"
  8. Content Note: Disturbing Content, Gore September 2016 Freedom Hall The world survived the Terminus Invasion. But only a few people on it survived a Terminus invasion - from the other side. Neither Steve Murdock nor Tarva the Black had so much as looked at each other upon their arrival in Freedom Hall. Rather, they had taken seats on the opposite sides of the conference room's big table, each joined by their closest allies, responding to the one summon in the multiverse that could bring the two of them together under one roof. Freedom Hall and its staff seemed on edge tonight- and no wonder, with all the crises great and small that had come that summer, and with this new crisis no doubt whistling through the super community like an incoming shell. "As you know, the Freedom League occasionally dispatches remote multiversal probes to probe areas of Terminus activity, using Zero Zone technology originally gathered from the Centurion." Daedalus, who Steve knew was no mere man but an ageless immortal (at least in the realities he knew), looked fatigued today, and perhaps some shadow of his age. "That's the source of the data we send to Archetech and the DuTemps Building," he added, with a nod to Ghost Girl and Miss Americana. "Typically the data we recover is largely fluctuating levels of entropic radiation. A multiversal weather report," he added for the benefit of the non-cosmic scholars in the room. "Recently, one of our probes was activated by a significant surge of entropic radiation greater than what was observed during the invasion of 1993. This triggered its internal video function and autonomous exploration unit." - It was Liberty Park. Or had been, once. The city was transformed into abomination. A red, pitiless sky lit by a too-bright, too-blue sun lit a park whose trees had burned and stones been shattered by spiked half-spheres that gleamed with an almost organic oily wetness. The doomforges lay empty now - but there were Omegadrones perched on them, the light, quickly-made ones that could nonethless slice a normal man in half or throttle him alive, like flocks of demonic birds waiting for the kill. The forges themselves were decorated with a scattering of corpses like so many mounted butterflies, the impaled, half-decayed corpses of beings who by the bright colors of their tattered costumes had once been superheroes. Tarva had turned paler and paler as the film played, her eyes staring and hands pressed flat against the table in front of her as if she was about to bolt, while Steve was bolt-upright in his chair and watching the film with an intensity that suggested a gathering storm. "...those drones are dead," he said, his voice a low rumble. And sure enough, one of the drones, one perched at the very edge of the doomforge that must have created it, actually tilted and toppled off as the group watched, hitting the ashy ground below with a tremendous crash. "Is this actually from the Terminus," asked Tarva, her voice tight and close to tears. "Can your probe peer so far?" "No," said Daedalus, shaking his head. "The radiation levels suggest there's been cosmic compaction on a tremendous scale - but this universe has not yet, for the moment, been pulled past the entropic threshold."
  9. September 5, 2015 Fort Meade, Maryland Supervillains were attacking Fort Meade. Well, not supervillains exactly. It had started out as a typical enough Saturday for the large military base close to Washington, DC; crowds of tourists at the National Cryptologic Museum and the Fort George Meade Museum, the Washington crowd taking advantage of Labor Day Weekend for one last hurrah. What followed next made its way onto the Internet quickly in one of those videos that goes viral the moment it hits Youtube. First, the golden gate had opened just across the street from the museum and a small group of costumed individuals had emerged - Argonaut, the armored AEGIS agent, Cannonade, the blue-collar brawler, Miss Americana, the patriotic paragon, and Vigilant, the all-American action hero. As the gate closed behind them, they ran, flew, and leaped across the street towards the museum, Cannonade casually sweeping aside a uniformed MP who (sensing trouble) had tried to block their way into the Museum. "F*cking typical!" he was heard to declare as they made their way in. "A world we didn't take over and it's already falling apart at the seams." Once inside, Miss Americana declared, "I'll get the missile! The rest of you get these wimpy bastards out of here and guard the perimeter. And get rid of all this trash!" The crowd, mostly civilians, didn't need any encouragement to run from the rampaging superheroes; a photographer outside caught Vigilant hurling a Mark VIII Liberty tank right through the museum wall with a tremendous crash! Whatever missile Miss Americana was after, she evidently found it - while the other 'heroes' took up position outside the museum, Miss A could be seen working on the preserved Ajax missile inside. It was Argonaut who dealt with the first wave of security, laughter coming from behind her armored faceplate as she cut her way through Jeeps, casually battering aside the MPS who arrived in them with cruel efficiency. "It's a bad time to be a bastard, kids! Sleeping in boxes and eating field rations for the past twelve months has built up a lot of negative energy in me, Miss A!" She called out, evidently over her suit's radio. "Treating these dirtbags to a little eye-gouging and back-breaking for a few minutes might be just the kind of cathartic exercise I was looking for!" For his part, Vigilant lived up to his name, taking up position on the roof and keeping stern watch on the surrounding base neighborhood even as chaos ensued all around them - Argonaut and Cannonade casually rampaging in the streets, sirens and gunfire ringing out, and panicking civilians being hastily evacuated away by the troops still standing who had not tried to directly engage Argonaut or Cannonade. "Attention, everyone!" he finally declared, using a voice amplifier. "This building is now the property of the Vigilance Committee! We are the baddest of the bad on this planet and several others you've never been to. Every once in a while we have to prove that to stupid people like yourself. Once we're done with the missile, we'll leave you to rot in your petty little world! Now, leave us alone...before we stop playing NICE."
  10. Gina's Gather Info (repped through Computers) is sufficient to tell whatever the players are comfortable with you knowing about their characters. (maxing out the relevant rep tables) So she knows Vigilant is a patriotic hero whose daughter is a Claremont student named Miracle Girl, she knows Argonaut's story pretty well already, and everything that's public about Cannonade. So far the group at the museum in Fort Meade hasn't made any demands of the base commander or the US government, despite being within just a few blocks of CIA Headquarters. They have made some very public demonstrations of power, violently crushing several attempts by light armor and commando personnel to drive them out of their position. They've taken no prisoners and no hostages, but they've made sure everyone nearby has fled the area or gone into one of several secure shelters. "Miss Americana" is working on a defunct Atlas missile stored at the base museum, but Gina can't imagine what that would accomplish - Atlas missiles are long since retired and there's nothing dangerous in a museum piece anyway!
  11. The Democratic Republic of the Congo Kinshasa University of Kinshasa campus April 1, 2015 There was no sound on the security feed, but Terrifica and Miss Americana could see what was happening well enough. The MIT scientists flicked a row of jury-rigged switches on the desk in front of them, bringing to life the machine before them. Row after row of panels lit up, vacuum tubes and relays flickering to life, and suddenly a long-dormant machine was alive again, casting a glowing light around the bunker that was its home. "It doesn't make any sense," muttered Dr. Carlos Perez, his long hair in the same ponytail he wore on the video. Crossing his arms, he looked away from the play. "VI has the computing power of a microchip! A _small_ microchip!" His labcoat, and his demeanor, had taken some beatings since the footage was taken two weeks earlier. "She may be the second oldest computer in the world, but the Vivre Informatique had no capacity for sentience! It just didn't!" Suddenly things were happening on screen - the scientists were talking to each other rapidly, their happy faces turning to alarm. Carlos's assistant Felicity was typing frantically at an Archetech laptop slaved to the system, a laptop that began flashing alarmingly, in time with the overhead arc lights in the basement they occupied. Suddenly the lights on VI began flickering in time with the laptop as well - and now, as the heroes watched, doors were sliding open on the far side of VI, doors disgorging primitive humanoid robots! At the sight of the robots, the scientists sensibly packed it in and fled, the camera feed cutting off as the red-eyed metal automatons began advancing toward their work station and the laptop that went with it. Pressing a few buttons on the digital playback, Felicity, who like the other half-dozen scientists looked tired and worn, pulled up a phrase on the laptop's screen. "MAINTENAT, JE SUIS LIBRE!" "We tried contacting the original project team," said Franklin Wright, one of the graduate students on the project, "but of course they're long dead! And most of the records about VI were destroyed during the wars hereabouts." "Those damn Belgians," muttered Perez. "Why would they build a computer _here_? Especially right after the war?" "To keep it from prying eyes," said Dr. Chambord, the goateed, bespectacled man who was one of two actual Congo natives on the MIT team. "The Congo was the jewel of their empire, a shining beacon of European progress in Africa." He sneered. "But no one cared to see the brutality at the heart of it then. Men died in building this. We found the records of it, in the old offices down below." "It's my fault," said Felicity Jones, looking very haggard. "I'm so sorry, I just...I should have pulled the plug! But when we saw those robots, we ran! We thought we were going to get our heads crushed!" "It's not your fault," said Perez, patting his assistant awkwardly on the shoulder before looking at Miss Americana and Terrifica. "But whatever is in there, it made it right through our firewalls and it locked down the whole Computer Science building. All our equipment, all the university's equipment, including the seized supertech from the wars, is now in the hands of a Belgian computer from 1946. That's when we decided to call you."
  12. Tuesday, April 7, 2015 Freedom City, New Jersey, Earth Morning Archetech's North American headquarters saw more than the average amount of parahuman weirdness in a work week, even more than most places in Freedom City. Being the home of highly advanced sciences, the regular working space of superheroes, and the epicenter of a world-wide attack meant that a place started to attract a certain type of attention, and the security team had developed procedures for all sorts of situations. Like when a falling star landed at the top of the building. Corona glowed gold and red and perpetually angry, floating half a foot above the helipad. She glared as the security guards spilled out of the rooftop access and surrounded her. No one was pointing weapons at each other yet, but if looks could kill there would murder. Corona crossed her armored arms and rotated slowly in place, finding the one guard who looked the most in charge of his emotions. He was an older gentlemen, with a bushy mustache and an Archetech cap on his head; Corona inclined her head infinitesimally towards him. "I need to speak with your genius," she said, her voice amplified through the suit's speakers. "I have a trade for her."
  13. Lynn Epstein's West End apartment. Monday, April 13th, 2015. 3:05am "Fuhh!" Lynn abruptly woke up in bed, her heart racing; the sheets were tightly wrapped around her and the pillow was on the floor. She sat up and blinked her eyes, the darkened bedroom as clear as day to her faerie eyes. Two of her cats were curled up on the bed, clearly upset at being disturbed by her rude outburst, so she reached out and scratched between their ears with her claws, just the lightest touch. "Sorry, babies; Mommy had another nightmare." It had been one of the bad ones; she and Bill were at the ranch, celebrating the twin's birthday. Her parents were there, along with Erik and Ellie, and the kids were enjoying pony rides. Then Viktor arrived fashionably late, laughing with an armload of packages, and everyone was excited to open their presents, but only Lynn could see the long black spider legs poking through wrapping paper, and Ruthie eagerly reached out to grab her gift- The ageless changeling went into the bathroom, ran the sink and splashed her face with water. She filled a cup with water and drank it, more out of habit than any real thirst. Lynn contemplated her face in the mirror, the perfect flawless mask, and sighed. "Ya need help, kid; better go get some!" - - - ArcheTech's Hanover facility, 9:22 am that same day Lynn didn't feel like flying; at times like this, the mindless jostle of public transportation was somehow more appropriate, and she could just veg out in her seat like everybody else. It took a lot longer, but eventually she made it to Hanover and what was left of Dok's legacy; she realized belatedly that she'd never stepped in this building before, and wasn't sure what to expect. She'd opted for a sort of 'office casual' look, with a tweed jacket over a simple cotton blouse, dark Capri pants and brown ankle boots. Reaching under her blouse, she found the familiar ring on its thong; she pulled it out, gave it a quick kiss, then tucked it away as she headed for the main entrance. Once inside, she made a beeline for the security desk, and offered the security guard on duty a dazzling but nervous smile. "Hi! I'm not sure who I should talk to; I'm sorry, I didn't make an appointment." She leaned in closer. "My name's Lynn Epstein, and I was hoping to talk to someone about Viktor...Archeville?"
  14. ArcheTechArcheTech was founded by Dr. Viktor Archeville, who wanted an international chain of research laboratories unconnected to any one government or any business interests. His vision was to establish a unique center for multi-disciplinary research in a number of scientific fields, especially those pertaining to metahuman activity and the increasing emergence of metahumans. Fields of research & development include bionics and cybernetics, energy projection, force field generation, genetics and genome stability, gravimetrics, advanced metallurgy, nanotechnology, particle physics, and others. In addition to its exotic research, ArcheTech also provides humanitarian aid in times of crisis. HistoryArcheville had done freelance troubleshooting work for numerous other science & technology research facilities, in America and Europe, for many years, even while still a college student. He used the contacts established there in three ways: to keep tabs on as many scientists and researchers as possible, to establish working relationships with investors and financiers, and similar relationships with tech-friendly politicians. Through a combination of sound investments, keen tax planning, and funds raised by selling off certain licenses for various inventions to outside commercial firms (though making certain to retain all copyrights and trademarks), Archeville was quickly able to raise the seed money needed to start up and run his company. Months of phone calls and meetings got him the researchers he needed (some who would work freelance for his company, some under contract exclusively for the company for a number of years), and “nudgings” – completely legal, just not as “above board” as usual – from certain politicians to get the building permits pushed through quickly. Soon after the first ArcheTech facilities opened, demons invaded Freedom City and in so doing warped the corporate HQ into a black pyramid. But not many seem to remember that. In July 2011, the facilities and reputation of ArcheTech suffered far greater damage when Dr. Archeville suffered a psychotic break and began wreaking worldwide havoc centered in each of the ArcheTech buildings. Once Dr. Archeville was subdued by other heroes and brought back to sanity, he chose to enter retirement and passed over control of ArcheTech to Miss Americana, who had been working as a researcher in the Freedom City center before the disaster. Miss Americana took over as CEO of ArcheTech and spent the next three years rebuilding the reputation and goodwill of the severely damaged company. LocationsWorldwide. The corporate HQ for ArcheTech is in Freedom City, New Jersey, but there are branch offices all around the globe. In America, there are branches in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. Outside of the United States, there are branches in Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Dr. Archeville's plans included continued expansion, but those plans were put on hold after the events of 2011. Appearance ExteriorAll ArcheTech facilities are built in the shape of square frusta, or flat-topped pyramids. They are chiefly light gray in color and twelve stories tall. The distinctive design is meant to inspire pride in its employees and in the surrounding community. (Critics do note that the darker coloration of the glass in the windows at the center of the building and of some doors at the bottom make the buildings look more like giant stylized As.) Each pane of glass doubles as a solar panel, to supplement the power drawn from the local power grids, though many facilities also have their own generators (the type depending on location). The flat roof contains a multipurpose helipad that also serves as an entrance point for flying heroes. InteriorThe first floor of every ArcheTech branch is reserved for public information booths, lobby access, security stations, and the on-site company cafeteria. The lobby area is often host to scientific exhibitions and is a frequent destination for field trips. The first floor is open to the public, but visitors will have to check-in at the desk in order to proceed to any other floor. The top floor of all ArcheTech facilities is reserved for administrative offices and conference rooms. Miss Americana's main office is on the top floor of the Freedom City building, with her personal laboratory space below it on the tenth and eleventh floors. The ten floor between lobby and offices comprise the main functional space of each ArcheTech center. These spaces may include laboratories, think tanks, centers for specialized medicine, and specially reinforced testing areas. Most centers also include dormitory space for participants in lengthy studies or for metahumans who are having a hard time controlling their powers. All ten floors of the Freedom City center are occupied, but progress has been less swift in other cities, where forgiveness for past errors has been a long time coming. Empty space in those facilities is used for storage, or as places of public refuge in case of disaster. The basement is reserved for maintenance facilities, power generators, and the bulk transporter (see below). Access to the bulk transporters is severely restricted since 2011, and most employees of ArcheTech never even see the basement. MiscellaneousAll ArcheTech facilities can serve as a temporary Metahuman incarceration facility, due to the availability of both high-strength building materials and power-nullifying devices.Each facility also has a bulk transporter, capable of nearly instantly teleporting several tons of material at a time, but only to other ArcheTech facilities. These teleporters can be used in crisis situations, bringing in supplies from other facilities or moving evacuees quickly out of the area. Due to their pivotal role in the so-called ArchEvil event in 2011, Miss Americana has heavily restricted use of these teleporters in non-emergency situations.Security for each local branch is multifaceted and relies heavily on redundant features for maximum protection. Main lobby entrances contain metal detectors and x-ray scanners, monitored at the primary security station by three full-time guards. Each floor has a security sub-station manned at all times by two guards, and three guards patrol each floor; each station has real-time video surveillance of each corridor and laboratory, and motion detectors to detect cloaked/invisible intruders. In addition to the human guards, each corridor and laboratory has an automated security turret programmed to neutralize any unauthorized persons with bolts of energy on a wavelength that will cause a normal human's neurological system to temporarily shut down; once a target is down, the energy projectors switch to emitting a beam of the same energy to keep the target unconscious.One of ArcheTech's sources of revenue is renting out space in its laboratories and workshops to other scientific organizations and universities.
  15. December 25, 2014 South Pole Basin Lunar Farside It is not true that Farsiders never leave their city, merely that such events are rare and usually for a purpose. The construction of the South Pole station by Farsiders had been one such purposeful occasion, one launched over a Terran century ago by a Farsider monarch concerned about a recent Terran visit to the Moon. (Some Terran visitors to Farside City have pointed out that the Apollo missions took place over six decades later, but the Farsiders have the records of earlier 'interlopers' to show skeptical visitors of today.) With its neutrino detectors and concealed telescopes, the South Pole station is well-placed to directly monitor doings on Earth. Or for that matter, as Lady Lunar proved in the early 1980s, to strike at it. A collection of intellects vast and furious on Earth had realized the station's potential not long after the Communion crisis began - concealed as the station was, it was the perfect place to strike at an enemy in Earth orbit by surprise. What had been a location for observation could become a location for misdirection; a notion that appealed to the ruling government of Farside City, which liked the idea of saving the world they orbit without their true role ever being known. (Farsiders do love their secrets!) And so, for much of the last two months, the greatest minds of Earth have come to its only natural satellite with a singular purpose. To build a machine to protect the planet from the Communion! Steve Murdock had offered what advice he could during its construction, but his experience with dimensional technology was all practical. It had come down to Dragonfly's specific genius and Miss Americana's vast storehouse of general knowledge to put the great work into practice. Caradoc, and the other non-scientists in the party of heroes guarding the weapon (as Steve was not allowed to call it around his employer) had rapidly found another role in the small lunar colony. Lunar soil ashy beneath his feet, Caradoc raised his gleaming blade to the sky, the shining tip above the heads even of the tallest Farsiders in their environmental suits. A new group of Farsider militiamen had been deployed that week - and their usual trainers were busy with an Earth-Prime holiday, an important one, but one that he could miss while Gina Evans was safely ensconced in the tiny pre-fab quarters that she had occupied for the last month. There would be time enough for celebration when the work was done. He spoke over the radio. "Your enemy will target your environmental suits first! They are not pirates, or conquerors, or enslavers. Your dead flesh will feed their ever-growing armies." He lowered his blade as the group shifted uneasily, and for a moment there was dead silence on the lunar plain besides the domed Farsider military base even on the radio frequencies they used to speak with each other outside the dome.
  16. March 1, 2015 6PM Steve typically walked home from work. At a steady pace HAX was not so far from Gina's front door and he preferred walking to riding a bus or taxi (and thus taking space away from someone who needed it). But today, with the chaos of the Communion attack safely in the past, he had plans for the evening. So for once he took the bus, head down in his hooded sweatshirt so as to avoid attracting unnecessary attention, a solitary figure that bulked above and beyond the tech commuters coming home to Hanover. From the bus stop, he walked a circuitous route back to Gina's house before walking right up to the front door. He sometimes suspected that Gina, in her more protective moments, would have preferred to keep him inside with her, but they had long since discussed the smooth protocol that led him to walk up to the door, opening it, and stepping inside. Automated security had already scanned him and pronounced him fit before he even reached that point, security that would stop any intruder who tried to follow in his path but security that was subtle enough not to alert anyone that this house was unusual. For a woman who had grown up on Earth-Prime, Gina understood how to protect herself very well. "I am here!" he called loudly from the door, remembering those times he had "scared the living beeping daylights out of me" when he had walked into the house and gone looking for Gina without announcing his presence.
  17. Even after her promotion, it wasn't usual for Naomi to be called in to ArcheTech headquarters, but at least the summons had become a less unnerving thing. She'd come in several times already for meetings with the Human Flight research group, getting her measurements taken, explaining exactly how she felt when exposed to various flight conditions and g-forces. They'd made all kinds of interested humming noises and gone off to their drawing boards, promising they'd get back to her. And they had, hence the meeting today. Miss Americana was waiting for her when she disembarked on the tenth floor, already wearing a clean new labcoat over her russet slacks and cadet blue blouse. "Hello Naomi, nice to see you again," she greeted the test pilot cheerfully. "Ready to try out the new rig?"
  18. For a building that had only been around a decade, the pyramidal frustum of ArcheTech Headquarters occupied its spacious campus in Hanover with a stately grace that suggested much longer years. It certainly hadn't taken long for the distinctive shape of the building to make it a landmark, or for its lobby full of scientific displays and free-of-charge rotating presentations to make it a popular field trip destination. The campus hosted a 5k fun run in the springtime, an all-ages Halloween extravaganza, summer science camps, and Christmas decorations that could easily be seen across the river. Whether or not people used ArcheTech products (and many of them certainly did), the company was a fixture in the life of the city. Even natives of Freedom City who'd spent most of the decade away from home knew something about the super-tech company. Going on a field trip or attending a fun run, however, was not exactly the same as actually coming into the company for a job interview. By the time Alex was invited for an in-person interview at ArcheTech, she'd already survived the resume submission and the phone interview stage, but now this was the real thing. An in-person interview with the company's superhero CEO, Miss Americana. Not only did Miss Americana run ArcheTech, she was a super-scientist and engineer in her own right, with dozens of articles published about her work in biomechanics, robotics, and a handful of other fields. She also apparently took it upon herself to hand-pick any metahuman scientists coming to work for the company. The lobby itself was not too intimidating, since it was mostly filled with schoolchildren and their harried chaperones, racing from display to display while cheerful tour guides led them around. Employees with badges and some with uniforms threaded their way through the chaos with the ease of long practice. Here and there, security guards in blue kept an eye on things and helped wrangle the wayward children. At the farthest point of the lobby from the displays was a bank of elevators and a large, sleek white desk. When Alex approached the front desk, she could see a trio of extremely efficient-looking employees wearing Bluetooth headsets and typing with holographic touchpads onto transparent projected screens. "May I help you?" asked the nearest receptionist, a young man with a polite smile and a small computer screen projected over one eye.
  19. Almost a week after the unfortunate incident with the sabotaged plane, Naomi finally received a summons to ArcheTech headquarters. She'd filed exhaustive reports, of course, been debriefed by her supervisor, Vithya Naganathan, as had Mike and Rory, her ground team, and Keegan her backup pilot. She'd had an extensive physical that included checks of vision, hearing, reflexes and proprioception, which had been a little bit interesting given some of the things she hadn't known her body could do until recently. But all of that had been done at the test facility at Lonely Point, a place she was already familiar and comfortable with. Today's summons was to the tower in Hanover, where Naomi hadn't been since she was hired. The lobby of the imposing building was not so bad; sure it was very large, but its grandeur was softened by the fact that it was full of schoolchildren exploring displays on the wonder and excitement of renewable energy and recycling. The noise and bustle of kids on a field trip was distracting until she made her way to the relative quiet of the horseshoe-shaped front desk, where an extremely efficient-looking young woman with an earpiece scanned Naomi's ID badge with a palm-held scanner. "You're meeting with Miss Americana," she told Naomi tonelessly. "You're cleared for top-floor access. Please follow the arrows." She gestured, and a line of green arrows lit up along the midline of the wall, heading for a bank of elevators. "Have a nice day."
  20. Saturday, 22 November 2014, 1400 It was a cold winter's day in Freedom City. And across the city... two phones were ringing. Catherine sighed as she sat in the hotel room she was using, resting in her wheelchair. Hopefully, she'd be able to get out of the dammed thing soon enough- her recuperation from her injuries was coming along nicely, although she'd likely never be able to walk unaided again. Well... powers aside. And Dad was working on a powered frame, now, which should let her fight for extended periods of time... Now, though, her concerns were different, although related, as she called the other two heroes involved in that particular series of events, as a pair of medals glinted from where they were laid out on the bed. "Well, let's hope things go well..."
  21. November 10, 2014 A hyperlight signal crossed the vast interstellar network, ricocheting off Lor communications stations a moment before the stations were deluged by word of the apocalypse that had befallen the homeworld. Further and further out into the Orion Arm it went, passing by the populated worlds of the galaxy as it headed into a remote galactic backwater that held one insignificant yellow dwarf and a small system of eight planets. It hit the unmanned station the Lor had left in Pluto orbit decades earlier and headed in one last burst for Earth, passing by the Lighthouse and heading straight for its source - Archetech. In a darkened laboratory, Sharl Tulink arrived on his hands and knees, screaming. "NO!" Instinctively, he reached out mentally into the surrounding network, both the building's power grid and the computers all around him. The lights flared up at his command and the computers came to life, the primitive technology and raw naturalism of Terra a sharp contrast to the sterile, doomed world he'd left behind him. As the Terran computers booted up, Sharl fought the natural urge to dive directly into their systems and not stop running through that primitive wireless network until he reached the familiar confines of Tronik - but of course that wouldn't really solve anything, would it? Instead, he raised his head and got up off the floor - though of course being a holographic projection he'd only barely been on it in the first place. He reached out into the surrounding network of the city and called a familiar number. "Gina!" he called, remembering old distress signals easily enough. "Code 404!"
  22. July 4, 2014 Freedom City "Damballah and Erzulie are with us." Cassandra Vale's doctorate was not in medicine, but between one thing and another there were few better doulas than La Sirene - especially for a water birth. Cassandra smiled and took her friend's hand. "Come on, Beth, let's get you in that tub." Despite the growing pains in her lower belly, Beth Walton-Wright was also smiling as Siren, her husband, and her midwife helped her into the tub - specially designed by Daedalus so that a woman strong enough to punch through steel wouldn't damage it while giving birth. After so many years of wanting, of prayers to Liberty and Justice and all the other gods and goddesses she'd known in her long career as a superheroine, she was about to have her baby! - July 4, 2014 Faneuil Hall Hulking and scarred, Steve Murdock stood as an island in the middle of a small sea of VIPs, waiting for the arrival of their very special tour guide. With a red shirt, blue slacks, and a white tie, he perfectly matched the color scheme for the day - right down to the Special Access pass pinned to his shirt. His special glasses gave the city and its crowd of tourists a faint greenish air, one that he knew would soon fade once the tour began. The special holographic technology built into the Archetech tour glasses would give the tourists a chance to see the Boston of 1776 (or at least its construction) overlaid on the Boston of 2014. Normally someone as high-profile as Miss Americana would not be involved in something as small as a tour, but the chance to show her work to tech executives, academics, and journalists alike had been too much for Gina to pass up. Intently he stared at the brochure in his hand, carefully memorizing everywhere they were going on their walking tour to the Common. People on Earth-Prime might take the idea of freedom and revolution for granted, but that was something Steve could never do - people had fought and died for the liberty of others in this city. It was very serious business. I will be here for Miss Americana to see what she has done. And after the tour, I will fly back to Freedom City, and Gina and I will watch the fireworks together. She will be happy today.
  23. (GM Post) Remote Laboratory Facility, Mountains, Sweden, Europe Monday, November 11, 6pm Local Time Anyone who knew Baron Katastrof wasn't truly shocked at what had happened. The man was methodical, safety-conscious, detail-oriented when needed, and demanded rigorous testing standards. He was also young, hideously intelligent, occasionally obsessive, and had a near-fanatical need to prove himself "worthy", not just of his place as head of his father's company, but also his place as a "super-scientist" in a world already brimming with them. Miss Americana had heard he'd been on the polar expedition to the remains of the Curator's ship. Archetech had had representatives there, and the Doctor himself had teleconferenced in. It wasn't known to the world, but basically everyone who had high-end scientific know-how and the trust of most of the world had been there. The place was a near-literal goldmine of data, materials, and technology samples. There'd been so many "dead" Curator drones you could practically build an office building out of them, and they were physically intact. Everybody had taken quite a few home, and Katastrof and Sorenson Technologies was no exception. They'd been careful, of course; all the Curator tech was set up in a couple of isolated lab buildings in the mountains, purpose-built a few years ago for handling "dangerous samples". The two sites were connected by 1 single tunnel with multiple security doors, and each site had internal and external airlocks, negative-pressure air systems, and a whole host of other standard and esoteric features. In the last couple of months, the primary site (where all the actual tests occurred, rather than storage at the connected site) had even received an extra dose of security in the form of magical wards, with the secondary site slated to receive them in a few weeks, thanks to discrete efforts from some contact or another of the Baron's. Which was all well and good, until one day every drone in the secondary site woke up and started moving on their own power, and suddenly the evacuation was underway and complete within 20 minutes. The staff was all set to use the emergency measures (which was to say, special explosive charges that would reduce both complexes to ash-filled holes in the mountain without disturbing anything else) when they realized one critical thing. The Baron had visited that morning and was not outside. That was Friday. On Sunday, the company had had no success penetrating the even-more-upgraded security, and, not wanting the matter to make regular public news (and thus strike a terrible blow against the reputation of KST), they made a couple of discrete calls. Which was why a small group of intelligent, talented heroes who focused on metal and wire technology found themselves standing on a tarmac at the foot of a mountain, the sun sinking below the horizon, and armed guards standing nervously to one side.
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