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March 5th, Around Lunchtime


And around Lunchtime, Marjorie Doors was most productive. 


For those dear readers who do not know Marjorie Doors, she was some kind of administrator in the Freedom City University, and a busy little body she was too (although not so little). Marjorie Doors lived alone and loved cats. And loved snooping and gossiping even more. 


Now, Ms Doors was not productive for most of the day. At least in a conventional sense. She was extremely productive at looking productive without actually being productive (a lamentably common position in most organisations). But around lunchtime she did her favourite productive thing which was offer out cookies to the students in return for gossip. 


"Would you believe it!" she told Robin, offering her a double choccy woccy chockity chock cookie with a side helping of choco-choc fudge sauce. 


(Yes indeed, Ms. Doors liked chocolate as well as cats. It would be a simple thing to get her on your side by simply offering her a chocolate cat). 


"Anna Armstrong! Poor thing! She had a seizure. In hospital now! They say she got sick whilst working for Neutron Industries! All sorts of nasty, they are...terrible safety record. The lawyers are pouncing around, trying to get her to litigate. So she should, I think! Disgusting place, Neutron Industries. I bet they have immigrants working there!"


Ms. Doors didn't like immigrants. Immigrant cats might have been acceptable, but only just. 


Anna Armstrong was a PhD student in nuclear physics. A tall, lanky blonde girl of twenty two who was pretty smart. Robin vaguely knew her - a determined, intelligent woman who was generally well liked. She had gone to do some work for Neutron Industries, and came back quite sick. 

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Robin was a bit hesistant to accept the cookie, but she knew better than to try and resist. The last time she had tried, Ms. Doors had practically tried showing the cookies down her throat. She didn't care to repeat that experience at all. So, she dutifully accepted the cookie, and had to listen to Ms. Doors' gossip, before she could hurry on. She wanted to run some tests on the amulet grandma Dottie had given her. There was something weird about it, but Ms. Doors had caught her on the way.


"Wait, wait, Anna Armstrong?" She completely tuned out everything about immigrants that Ms. Doors was ranting. It had been proven that her views on immigrants were just part of Ms. Doors' "charm", and she wouldn't really get anywhere trying to convince her otherwise. "I know her, she always put safety first. What was she even working on at that place?"[/b]

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Ms Doors shrugged. "Oh, I don't know. Maybe she was one of those do-gooder bleeding heart types. Pfff!" sighed Ms. Doors. "I always thought Neutron Industries had the right idea, you know, free enterprise, not being tied down by ridiculous health and safety regulations. That business with the nuclear power plant shutdown never was proved" she said. 


Yes indeed, Ms. Doors did like her conspiracy websites. Although in this case there was a ring of truth to the matter. 


"But why don't you go see her? She is recovering in hospital, I think. Perhaps you could bring her some cookies?"


Good old Ms. Doors. Heart of steel and gold depending on whether you were a statistic or someone she knew personally. 


"It sounds a messy business, all around" she sighed. And again, she had some truth to her. 

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Go visit Anna? That was actually a good idea, a rare thing to come from Ms. Doors. It had been a while since Robin had last seen her, and she was in the hospital.


The rest of Ms. Doors' line of thought was pure nonsense as always. Health and safety was important! Robin kind of wondered how Ms. Doors would deal with working under unsafe conditions herself, but she was pretty sure that if it ever came to that, Ms. Doors would end up being the first to complain and start a protest over it, if she could build up the backbone to do it, at least.


"Y'know, that's a great idea! I'll swing by my parents on the way and grab some from my dad's latest batch!" She couldn't resist that little jab at Ms. Doors, and then she was out the door. Quick pit stop to check in on her mom and dad, grab some cookies, then off to the hospital.

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Ms. Doors face turned sour at the jibe. She was about to open her mouth to gasp (alas, speech was not possible), but Robin had gone. 


"Kids!" she tutted. 


And turned, with furious determination to her screen, where she googled "How to make the best cookies ever...."


And so....at FC Hospital. 


Anna was in bed, looking frail. She was a skinny, lanky thing at the best of times, but right now she looked unhealthy. She had a drip of some chemical or another up, and a banged head. From the fall. 


"Hi....." she slurred as Robin came in. Clearly she was fuzzy headed. 


"Ain't right...Ain't right at all...." said the man stomping out the room angrily, face like a chewed wasp. He was a big, bearded man. Robin recognised him as the janitor in the physics department (from when she stayed late). "Jones" they called him. What was that? a nickname? a surname? he kept himself to himself for the most part. Grumpy old man at the best of times. But now he looked like he wanted to tear somebodies head off. Fortunately not Robin though. He just barged past her, stomping out of the hospital. 


"Rachel....R-R-Rrrrena....no....Robin....Right?" slurred Anna. 



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Wait, was that Jones the Janitor? What was he doing here? As far as Robin knew, he was "just" the janitor, not really any connection at all Anna. Then again, it wasn't like she knew everything about everyone at the university. And Jones might just be checking up on Anna, but he moved so fast, so angry, so... Robin really shouldn't care about him right now, should she? She was here to see Anna.


"Hey Anna. Yeah, that's right. We had a few classes together, think we did a project or two. How are you doing? I heard you got in an accident and ended up here, so I came to check on you."[/color] She held up the cookie jar up to show it. "I brought some of my dad's cookies, they're great." 


Anna really didn't look good. What had happened to her to mess her up this bad?

Edited by RocketLord
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"Neutron...Industries" slurred Anna. "My head's like its full of mush...." she nodded weakly towards the drip. "They got me on some anticonvulsants. Had a seizssszzure. Can't remember much..." she said, a little drop of anger cutting through her drowse. 


"Brain damage, they say....can't feel my right leg.....epilespy....the shcansss....." she dropped off a second, that jolted awake. 


"The scans show something in my brain. Can you believe it. Damn Neutron......they aren't safe.....whatever you do, don't go working there....."


She closed her eyes a moment then jolted awake again. 


"....I'm gonna....take them down!" she swore, vehemently. If anything could cut through her sluggish tongue, it was this - her angry determination. 



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Robin put the cookie jar down at the table before turning to Anna as she talked. No, this was not the time for cookies. Really not. She could recognize the determination in Anna's voice, even if the anger scared her a bit. Not that she blamed Anna. If Neutron Industries had done this to her, then she had every right to be angry. Every right to want to get back at them. 


She bit back her own righteous anger at seeing Anna like this. She was bright, she was smart. Probably even more so than Robin, and to see her like this, struggling to even get her words out? It was scary as hell.


"I'm so, so sorry, but what happened? What did they do to you at that place?"


She wanted to help. But she had to do it right.

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"I'm a bit fuzzy....." said Anna, who was clearly more than a bit fuzzy. She was barely awake. 


"They do research....in whats it called energy...." she mumbled. 


That part was clear. Neutron industries, obviously, did research in atomic energy - or esoteric energies of any type. If it was carbon based or natural, they dabbled. 


"...some kind of error....I got a headful of metaphrscskhs...." she slurred, falling asleep. 


She started snoring. 


Her right leg went into a fasciculation, and she woke up, groaning. 


"...metaphasic radiation!" she grunted, pain sharpening her head. "Caused nerve damage...." she said, sadly. 


"I only took the internship to try and bring them down!" she said, angrily again. 

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This was concerning. Anna was fighting, but she could barely keep a conversation going. Nerve damage, sure. Could explain a lot, but metaphasic radiation? Who knew what that could do? To be quite honest, Robin didn't even know what metaphasic radiation was. She lightly rolled the amulet her grandmother had recently gifted her between her fingers as she listened, and tried to make sense of it all.


And that last part? That was a bit of a bombshell. Robin did not see that coming. Anna had a good reputation, not like she was someone that you'd have expected to go out on a crusade against people like Neutron Industries. But then again, few would probably guess what Robin was up, and she could do to help. So. A pen and block from her purse, she sat down.


"Alright." Her tone was more serious now. "I'll help. Tell me everything you know and remember, and I'll write it down, then see what I can do. I know people all over the university, and there's bound to be someone that can do something. And tell me everything about what that metaphasic radiation is." It helped Anna to be angry? Alright, Robin would stoke that fire, then!

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It was a laborious process, working through Anna's fuzzy head. 


By her account - and a hazy and inaccurate account it surely was - Robin's best guess was that Anna had applied for a work internship at Neutron industries. Anna had been trying to expose Neutron's appaling safety records. She had come across a metaphasic reactor - something experimental using z-space energy (or some other vague notion) - and in the course of her poking around (arguably illegally) she had been exposed to a leak (or something like a leak). 


She was now in hospital with synaptic damage (or something like that), and worse, Neutron were breathing down her neck with lawyers claiming "industrial espionage" and "reckless endangerment" and other such terms. This might have been a ploy, to get her to shut up by using these threats as leverage. Neutron was dirty in more ways than one....

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It wasn't easy to get all this, but Anna was willing. And she was angry. So, so angry. Robin had never felt that angry herself, not even when she faced Kidd and the Wall, but she could hardly blame Anna. 


She did her best, she wrote everything down that she could. She asked questions where she felt it was needed, but really, a lot of it was a lot to grasp. Robin could follow most, but theoretical physics and energy sources like Z-Space energy and metaphasic reactors was really not her field of expertise.


"Alright. I think I got it all." Robin finally said, when Anna seemed like she needed to rest. This was big, and this was bad. Neutron Industries didn't seem like the kind of place that someone like Anna or Robin should mess with in any way, but, Anna had already messed with it... and Robin did have some other means. "I'll see what I can do. I'm not gonna let them get away with this." Bit lame, maybe, but she meant it. 

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And so...


Neutron Industries, as it turned out, had a laboratory - office - mysterious building kind of thing going on just a few blocks away. It was all glass and steel, and pleasant grounds, and concrete bunkers underground to stop anything glowing reaching the human population. It's industrial safety record was appaling, but it was canny enough to at least put up a plausible defence against any litigation. 


The above ground levels were moderately secure, and where everybody seemed to do the day to day work. However, there were a couple of levels below ground, accessed by elevators, which seemed considerably more tough to get into...


There were a few security guards in the reception. Nothing serious, but enough to deter the average snooper. ID badges were worn by the people going in and out, and seemed to function as pass-cards to the more secure parts of the facility. 

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Robin made her way around the outside of the Neutron Industries building. She'd added a baseball cap to her outfit, but otherwise, she was dressed the same. Best way to blend in was to not stand out, right? And there were plenty of people around in this part of town. 


So, she moved around outside the building, flowing with the crowds, redirecting a bit, then coming back. No reason to go too far here, right? Not yet at all. Honestly, she wasn't quite sure what she should do here, or what, but she would have to figure it out at least. So for now, she waited and watched. She didn't have one of those ID badges, and snatching one would be a gamble. She could pretend to be doing a paper on Neutron Industries or something like that, but they'd probably want an appointment for that. And check with the university. Go in guns blazing, full Justice mode? Not really what she hoped for, here.


So, she waited and watched. Took her time. There had to be something that could give her an idea.

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The humdrum of sedate business continued under Robin's watchful eye. She spotted at least a couple if employees who were highly active in concealing their inactivity. They regularly strolledin and out, back and forth, looking busy by shuffling the exact same papers in their hands.


But the humdrum monotony was broken when Robin spotted a figure fall from the sky and land on the roof. At this distance, she couldn't make out the details but he (or she) seemed large, somewhat ungainly, and armoured...


The landing caused a loud noise, and the employees of neutron industries looked at each other. "What was that?" Was the question, and nobody has a good answer....

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Time passed slowly, even as Robin did her best to move around, stay active and out of sight. Honestly, it was not quite the exciting caper that she had perhaps hoped for, but honestly, what had she expected? Going in guns blazing and fixing everything? That wouldn't work at all, would it?


Some of the people that appeared busy might be a way in. It seemed like they kept the exact same papers on hand all the time, and the way they kept fumbling back and forth with their ID cards. Robin considered trying to steal one, when she heard the loud noise from above. Now what was that? It seemed large and armored, but was it human? A robot? Some weird monster? 


"Hey, what's that up there?" she called out to a random employee. She was just a random passerby, after all. She tried to change her voice just a little bit, make it a bit deeper. "Neutron building robots now?" But maybe whatever it was had the right idea. Get in from above? That could work.

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The employee - a rather rotund young woman with well perfumed hair and a clipboard of important things (or so she would profess to anyone questioning her value to the organisation) looked up and squinted. 


"Robots? No! The Killbots were all taken off line last week" she said as if this was the most natural thing in the world. "Golly! I better call security!" she gasped. There was a slight thrill in her voice. Maybe she would at last prove to be important in stead of her normal job of auditing spreadsheets of audits. 


Awash with pride for having spotted a potential intruder, she started scurrying off inside the building, her high heels hampering her pace. 


Up above, Robin could make out the clang and bustle of the figure, who seemed intent on breaking in through the roof!

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The Killbots? What? Was this lady serious? And then she ran off leaving Robin alone, and did she really talk about Killbots while going to call security about somebody flying down and attacking their roof?


But right, whoever the figure was, they seemed really intent on getting into the building, so maybe Robin should actually try to use that and get inside, too. So, time for Justice, then. Ducking away and out of sight as best as she could, Robin reached into her jacket pocket to pull out her domino mask, quickly putting it on. No reason to have someone actually see her out of uniform when she transformed. Then, activate the program on her phone. Upgraded belt ready. Not the first time she took this upgraded suit out for a spin, but first time in public.


Program activated. Command sent, and in no time at all, the new and improved Justice armor expanded out over Robin's clothes. First the red undersuit, then the new armor plating, finally the new helmet. The design was different from her previous suit, sure, but it was a huge upgrade. Better protection, better power. And with the red scarf appearing from her neck, she rushed forward towards the building. There had to be some way to get up to the roof.



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By the time Robin had changed, it seemed the building was in lockdown. The doors sealed shut and the bored security guards were bored no longer. 


Up above, the figure had quickly carved a hole in the roof and had dropped down it. The faint sounds of screams and panic could be heard. 


Getting up the building was not so easy. The only thing Robin could see was as an external fire escape which lead up to the top floor; but no further. Getting up to the roof would be a feat of agility and nerves. But of course, smashing a window halfway up would be a lot easier. Although...wasn't that breaking an entering?


Whatever the case, the screams were real. So it was time for action!

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That thing was quick. How was it that Robin always ended up not having whatever tool or upgrade on hand for the situations she ended up in? Not that she thought building a jetpack or something like that would be easy. Just finding a power source would be a pain... and it had taken her months to get her suit this far already. 


Alright, fine. Doors closed, so she could probably have ducked inside when she had the chance, but no chance for that yet, even if she had to question the idea of going into full lockdown when someone had already smashed a hole in the roof to get in. Up the fire escape, as fast as she could, then. It gave Robin a moment to think, at least. All the way up? Not easy, but would only be breaking, not breaking and entering. On the other hand? People were screaming. At least scared, probably in danger.


As soon as she saw a window, she would smash through it and get inside. It had to be faster to get in like that. And quickly try to make sure that whoever was on the other side that she was here to help against whatever was breaking in.

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Huff Puff!


There was no question that Robin was getting her cardio in today!


The fire escape was, at least, robust and firm. Even several stories up. One would not want to be scared of heights, however, for the grilled metal gave a dizzying view of the hard concrete below. 


At the top story, the window, made of reinforced glass and alarmed. Not that it wouldn't easily crack under the force of the Justice blaster, or a good old fashioned Justice kick. But still, alarmed. 


Not that that particularly mattered either, for alarms were already going off inside, and people were evacuating. Most people, that is. The security staff were scrambling to the top floor, where the mysterious figure had arrived, although it sounded - from the commotion - that whilst Justice was making her way up the building (on the outside), he had been making his way down the building (on the inside...)

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Right. This. Was. Maybe not. Her best idea. Robin wasn't in bad shape, but even then, this was not just a jog in the park. Not climbing at this speed. Finally pulling herself up near a window, she looked in and well... alarms were blaring. And the attacker, no matter who or what it was, was nowhere to be seen. 


Fine. No time to waste, then. Figure out what's going on, stop people from getting hurt, and then try and get something on this place. Had to be a reason for someone to break in here aside from her, and hopefully, it would be something that could help her. Booting up the engines humming in her leg armor, Robin moved towards the reinforced glass, delivering a quick kick at it, before making her way inside. Sure, an alarm would go off, but that wasn't really important right now.


Once inside, she stopped and listened for a moment, then made her way towards the noise caused either by people screaming or the attacker. Get to them, find out what's going on, quick as she can.


No need to exercise later, after all.

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Even with the alarms blaring and the people screaming, it was not hard to navigate towards the sound. Whatever else, the mysterious figure was not subtle. He was arguably even clumsy. Driven by determination, absent of guile. 


Robin past one security out cold, and probably injured given the bruising and swelling on his cheek. She had her taser in his hand, but had clearly been struck before discharging it. She looked like she was breathing and alive, at least. 


Down one flight of stairs, Robin caught sight to the figure. He was holding up another security guard by the neck, with one arm, dangling him a foot off the ground. 


It was Jones, the Janitor!


And more than that, he was dressed in some cobbled - together exoskeleton. One leg and two arms, half completed, joined to some franken-armour breast plate. Humming with power. The two arms ended in large powerful pincers. 


Even more shocking - the cobbled together armour had pieces of the Justice Armour prototype in it!

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Whoever was doing this, he was just smashing through everything in his way. He had to be pissed if he was getting in here like this, just smashing up the place, not caring about whoever got caught in the crossfire. Sure, Robin wanted to bring this place down, but she was not about to hurt random people that got in her way to do it.


The guard was down, a taser in hand. Taking a quick moment to make sure she was alright, Robin then reached for the taser, quickly slipping it out of the guard's hand. It might come in hand, and she didn't have one in her toolkit already, sooo... 


And then she was off, hurrying down the stairs. Noise was getting louder, she had to be getting closer to the bad guy, and Robin had really not suspected that it would be Jones the Janitor of all people. Honestly, just about anyone else, but Jones? No, not Jones, that made no sense. He was the janitor, he didn't do stuff like that, didn't smash up buildings and people like that... and wait, that armor! That was some of Robin's old prototypes! She was sure of it!


"Hey! What do you think you're doing? That's my armor you're wearing, buddy!" Even with how many changes she had made to the design, and how different it was now from her old prototypes, and even from what she had first worn, Robin was sure of it, and it really wouldn't be difficult to notice it. Then the question was, just what did Jones know? And why was he here?

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"Who are you?" grumbled Jones. 


Now, by this time, Justice had some small fame. The stand off in front of the cameras at the Sunny Sunshine centre had certainly raised her profile. And the lurid reporting of Jack Jackson had magnified the position. Not everybody - by any means - knew of Justice, but she was well known. Jones, however, was a man of simple simplicity, and not a man who really kept his finger on the pulse of current events. 


He looked down to his armour. On closer inspection, only his right leg and left arm looked like Justice armour. The rest looked like knock off copies, cobbled together from spare parts. Still, an impressive feat of work. And the pincer like wrenches at the ends of the arms were certainly nothing like anything Robin had done. 


"This is my armor. Not yours!" he said. His style of communication did lack a certain intelligence, a certain eloquence. But it was passionate. 


"And I'm going to bring this place down!" he said, intentions clear. 


His hand-wrenches clickity clicked together to emphasise the point.

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