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Dr Archeville

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[[ Continued from the HIT Science & Engineering Lecture Series. ]]

Date: May 23rd, 2008

Archeville's alarm, fashioned as most timepieces in his home were to resemble a cuckoo clock, went off at 5:00am that Friday, waking him from a light slumber. As he stood under the hot shower, the water gently massaging his body awake, his mind was quickly 'booting up,' checking on what he'd recently done and what he would be doing in both the near and far future.

He then took a leisurely hour-and-a-half long breakfast, one of the few true luxuries he permitted himself. It was, as usual, mostly German food, breads with jam, sausages, eggs and cheeses, but with adequate fruits for balance, and a strong coffee. While eating he watched, listened, and read reports from his numerous newsfeeds concerning events around the world (particularly America, China, England, France, Germany, and Russia), incidents of interest to him (science & technology), the activities of superhumans he keeps track of (Daedalus, the Atoms, the Crime League, the Foundry, the Psions, Shadow, Doc Otaku, the Green Man, and others), and so forth.

By 7:00am he was down in his basement laboratory, working on research and theoretical experimentation. About half of it followed some prior research, such as his cancer-detecting laser, or new forms of predictive psychology, or work on a Grand Unification Theory. The other half involved all-new projects or ideas he'd had in the past but had yet to move beyond the "notions in my head" phase, such as research into vampire and werewolf mythology and whether the tales spoke of one 'breed' of creature or several, and whether vampirism and lycanthropy were caused by a virus or a bacteria or was simply an inherited condition (like being a metahuman), or the viability of assorted hybrids (animal/animal, animal/plant, and others). For the most part it was abstract, a quest for pure knowledge rather than any specific application or use thereof.

Whoah, look at the time! We'd best hurry, we don't want to be late for our first business meeting!

Eh, Eric can wait. He wants us as much as we want him, remember?

At 9:30am Archeville retrieved his Gravimetric Belt and Electromagnetic Screwdriver from their recharging stations -- he'd already put his Armored Labcoat on after dressing, out of habit -- and set off from his home, nestled between the Hanover Institute of Technology and the Albright Institute, heading towards the corporate headquarters of Dart, Incorporated, also located in Hanover. When he was about half a block away from Dart, he lowered himself so he was only a few meters in the air, and flying not much faster than a person walking in a hurry.

That's right, let the folks get a good luck at Doktor Archeville walking into the corporate office of a weapons manufacturer. The paparazzi will have a field day!

And tell me again why we're doing this, rather than just flying directly to the front door, or the roof?

Because it's fun.

When he reached Dart he settled fully down to the ground, and entered the main doors. Before the receptionist could say anything, he spoke. "Good morning, miss, good morning! I believe I am expected -- I hope I did not keep anyvon vaiting! Tell me, dough," he leaned a bit closer, "should I haff vorn a tie?"

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It was 8:00AM, and on any other day that would mean that Eric's hand would fumble around the side of the end table for a few moments before it found the snooze button without guidance from the eyes that refused to acknowledge that the day had actually started. But today was far from a normal day. Eric had already been awake long enough iron his best power suit (which had also been ironed the night before), take a shower, do and redo his hair, have breakfast (which consisted mostly of cereal and coffee), brush his teeth to get rid of the coffee smell about a dozen times, repeated check his calender to make sure today was the day and last but not least, to pinch himself to make sure that this wasn't a dream so many times that Eric had to switch arms so he wouldn't bruise himself. Saying excitement in the air was a kin to saying the universe was big.

Arriving at the office a full 45 minutes ahead of schedule, Eric had a hard time calming his nerves. Harrison, one of the other researchers had been trying to calm Eric by telling him jokes or stories to get his mind off Dr. Archeville, unfortunately for Eric, Harrison was quite poor at telling jokes:

Knock, Knock.

Who's there?

Billy.

Billy who?

Oh wait, that wasn't it umm.. wait no, don't tell me.

Most of the other staff tried to calm Eric, but with similar results. The only one who had any luck was Samantha, the receptionist. Maybe it was because anything was an improvement over Harrison's attempt, maybe it was because Eric had a little crush on Sam, or maybe it was just because she was one of the few whose job had anything to do with talking to people; but no matter the reason, she got through to Eric. She told him flat out "Eric, calm down. Dr. Archeville sought you out, meaning both A) Dr. A knows who you are, and B) he respects you enough to do business with you. And you know what? We all know you're the best here. Just go in there, with your head held high and knock them dead. We know that this isn't just some business meeting to you, Dr. Archeville is one of your idols. If you're able to lead this company in the day to day grind, imagine what you can do when you really, truly care." "...Remind me to give you a raise when this is over with, and thanks, I really needed that."

=========================

Samantha stands at her desk and shakes Dr. Archeville's hand "Welcome to Darts Dr. Archeville. You haven't kept anyone waiting, at least unjustly." Letting go of his hand with a smile she adds "And Doctor, we usually waive the dress code for anyone who flies through the front door, so I think you'll be safe. Your meeting is in Board Room 1. Just take the elevator on your right there to the 3rd floor, it'll be practically right in front of you."

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I'm more interested in what's in front of us right now.

Hey, now, none of that -- we're here for business, not pleasure!

Hey, all work and no play make Doc a dull boy. And I'd really like to play with this little--.

Before Samantha let his hand go, Archeville gently turned it and softly kissed the back of it. "Danke shoen, schöne dame*," he said with a sly smile as he released her hand. "Though I vould hope you do not waive it completely -- superpowers are no excuse for a lack of decency! Now, third floor, ja? Again, danke." He winked at her as he turned to the elevator on the right, which was just now opening to let two suits out. Their somewhat heated discussion stopped dead when they saw who was before them.

"Guten morgen, gentlemen. Lovely day, ja?" he said with a smile as he slipped into the elevator. Before their brains fully processed what had just happened, the doors had already shut and the elevator was ascending to the third floor.

Man, this thing's slow.

No, it's not, you're just impatient.

Well, yeah. Your point? Anyway, remember what I said, let me do the talking.

And remember what I said: hell, no. You really think I'm going to let you take charge of this meeting?

Why not? You'll be spending the day tomorrow with that kid, playing 'Big Brother,' why can't I have this?

Because you're a fiend who's probably doing this to gain some corporate leverage.

And you're a milksop who couldn't cut it here, in the corporate boardrooms, where ruthless Capitalism holds sway. And you want 'corporate leverage', too, remember?

Reaching the third floor, the elevator stopped and the doors opened. Stepping out, Archeville saw the sign "Board Room no.1" affixed next to a set of open double doors. Inside, he saw....

*

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... A rather standard board room. It had a fairly large mahogany table in the center of the room, with 6 black leather chairs on either side and one at each end. The wall opposite had one large window that started about half way up the wall and went all the way to the ceiling. The wall to Dr. Archeville's left had a white board that at the current time is blank, and on the opposite wall are several motivational posters, a stylized "Darts Inc." written on the wall, and the company motto "Be ethical, be innovative, be profitable." On the table there's a bit of food prepared: tea (iced and hot), coffee, bagels, doughnuts, toast, and also a sandwich platter with several different deli meats and cheeses, along with several sandwhich rolls.

The most important feature of this room however is the man sitting at the far end of the table, Eric Micheals. He obviously came dressed to impress, as not even a single hair is out of place and his suit looks pressed. There is a rather thick binder filled to the brim with papers on Eric's right. Directly in front of him is a silver laptop, with the Darts logo on the top. Eric is absentmindedly messing with something on the lap top with his left hand while he sips something from a mug in his right. His eyes flick up when he becomes aware that he's being watched, and he gives a small start. Setting his mug down in front of him, Eric rises and crosses the room to meet Dr. Archeville. "Ah Dr. Archeville, so glad you could make it. Found us alright? Pleasure to have you with us. Please, come in, come in. Sit where ever you like." Eric says to Archeville as he gives him a hearty hand shake. Eric seems much more composed than he did at the lecture, but the glint in his eyes is ever present. He waves a hand at the food on the table "Sorry it's not quite as elegant as a spread you provide, but I find it hard to do any business when there's excellent food this early in the morning." he ads with a chuckle.

He walks to the doors, and over his shoulder he says "I'm going to have to close these or else half of my staff will just so happen to be milling about outside in a few minutes."

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Y'know, we could just kill him and take over the company... make it look like an accident... forge a few documents showing he bequeathed it all to us....

That won't be happening. At all.

Archeville chuckled when Eric mentioned the food. "Quite alright, Herr Micheals, I had a somewhat large breakfast anyvay. Und, ja, finding de place vas no trouble at all -- I haff had mein eye on you und dis corporation for some time."

The doktor took a seat in one of the chairs facing the double doors, with his back to the window. "Ah, good," he said as he saw Eric close the doors, "I vas hoping ve would have some privacy."

Eric played Archeville's last sentence over again in his mind. Had the German's accent suddenly disappeared?

He was chuckling again, "No, Mister Micheals, you're not hearing things -- I am entirely capable of speaking with as much accent as a native of Pennsylvania. I just use the accent as part of my... image, I suppose you could say. Scientists tend to face harsh prejudices in some places, and German scientists especially so, but paradoxically the accent seems to put some folks at ease. They see I'm not trying to hide my German roots, and that I try to be as open and above-board as I can, and that makes me more... palatable. Not to everyone, of course, but to enough people."

He grabbed a bottle of water and opened it, "which is, in a way, the root of why I am here. And since I know business deals and transaction of any sort require clear and precise language, I felt it would be best if I did away with the accent, for the time being."

"I do hope this small 'peek behind the curtain' has not soured your opinion of me," he said before taking a swig from the water bottle.

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Eric stood quite still for a moment, looking at Dr. Archeville as if he was seeing him for the first time. But then Eric let out the bark like laugh Archeville had heard once before, and Eric shook his head as he walked backed towards Archeville. "You never cease to amaze me. But do not apologize for your image, we all have one, and I would too much of a hypocrite if I were to call you out on it." When Eric took his seat, he started showing more of a professional air. "But as you say, its time for business, so lets get right down to it." Eric pulled his laptop in front of him, and swiveled the screen such that it now laid flat, facing the ceiling. Eric pressed a button on the side of the table and a small projector descending from a ceiling tile, while a screen descended and began covering up the white board.

While the screen descended, Eric turned to Archeville saying "If you've been keeping tabs on our company, then a sizeable chunk of this will be review for you, so I'll be giving you an abridged version. If at any point during this presentation you feel the need to chime in for any reason please don't hesitate to do so. Now, Darts was originally formed in 1934 by a man by the name of Elphonzo Darts." A picutre of the man is shown on screen with a few tidbits about him, all of which Eric glosses over. "He saw that the conditions in Europe were worsening and when the time came to go to war, which he correctly believed was imminent he wanted to be ahead of the curve and be able to help supply the front lines. In those days, small arms ammunition was Dart's bread and butter and that strategy carried the company for several decades." A few pictures and diagrams about the ammunition Darts manufactured and how many were sold and to who. "But in the recent years, with the drastic increase in metahuman activity, conventional weapons are becoming less and less useful as even average street thugs are able to get their hands on objects capable of extreme destruction." Several members of the Crime League are pictured as well as several images of those under the effects of MAX and ZOOM, and there is an accompanying graph that shows the decline in Darts profits.

"So in order for our company to stay afloat in these times, we had to rethink what a weapon really is. So in the very recent years, our Research and Development Department, which was previously non-existent has ballooned into our largest asset. In a few short years we created the KX-37 an assualt rifle with a 27% higher accuracy rating that its peers, the "High Amp" tazer which is essentially a more powerful form of a taser, but is 40% less likely to cause lasting harm to an individual than a garden variety one. Also, we've created our own line of bullet proof vests which offer an 20% increased survival rate for small arms fire, including armor piercing rounds and hollow points."

With the small presentation concluded, Eric turns back to Dr. Archeville and clasps his hands on the table. "So Dr. Archeville, what can we do for you today?"

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Give us everything you own!

Please -- you'd run this place into the ground within a month.

Archeville was silent as Eric gave his presentation, though he did jot down a few notes on a small notepad he pulled from his labcoat. He continued to write for a few moments after the presentation had ended and Eric had asked his question.

At last, he turned to his host. "An excellent question, Mr. Micheals. An equally important question is this: what can I do for you?"

"It would seem we both have something the other would like to... well, 'own' isn't the word I'll use, instead I shall say 'tap into'. Even with Darts' decline in profits, you still have access to much material, and materiel. I also know the one thing you lack, or, rather, lack sufficient quantities of." Archeville paused to take a sip of water, and to pull a wand-like object from his labcoat, "something which I can provide in abundance: scientific and technical skill. Of course, I've no need to brag, as my record speaks for itself."

Archeville clicked a few buttons on his Electromagnetic Screwdriver, and the projected image distorted, then turned to static. A moment later, a mix of professional news footage and amateur bystander recordings of Archeville's exploits throughout Europe were shown, focusing on the man himself and the wondrous inventions he wielded. "Not some of the best quality footage, I know... nor the most flattering," he said as a scene of him tumbling over backwards from the recoil of some sort of energy-bazooka, "but it's enough, I feel, to convey my qualifications."

The scenes then shifted to blueprints and schematics of assorted devices, each up just long enough for Eric to identify what the item was, at least in a general sense. "As I said, Dart has the resources, but lacks a sufficiently advanced level of know-how to turn those resources to the best use, particularly in these amazing times. I have the know-how, but resources are something I can never have enough of, and my relocation to Freedom City has made it difficult for me to receive certain materials from my various suppliers in Europe. Ergo, I have sought something more local. In addition, you have access to certain contacts whom I would like to get in touch."

A few more clicks of his Electromagnetic Screwdriver, and the picture of Elphonzo Darts was back on the screen as the presentation was re-set. "So, what can I invent for you?"

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Eric's brow furrowed slightly when Dr. Archeville said that Darts didn't have sufficient scientific or technological skill. You could tell that Eric took it as a bit of a personal jab, but at the same time, he didn't make a big deal of it because he knew that in comparison to Dr. Archeville he really didn't know anything. But at the end of Archeville's speech Eric's heart skipped a beat. ... Did *the* Dr. Archeville, just ask what he could invent for me? Taking a moment to ensure his composure and think about his words, Eric raised his clasped hands up to his chin, looking at Dr. Archeville over his interlaced fingers.

Then in a slow deliberate motion, Eric's hand went over to the previously untouched binder and pulled out a sheet of paper along with a pen, which he laid on the table. A cursory glance revealed that this was a Confidentiality Agreement. In a deliberate voice Eric said "Dr. Archeville. You have quite possibly the greatest scientific mind in the world, and I would be an utter fool if I even thought about rejecting your offer for a second. If you let me pick your brain, then as far as I'm concerned you've got just as much access to Darts' resources as I do. Now as for what you can invent for me, sign that confidentially agreement in front of you, and I'll escort you down to our research levels, and you can see all the prototypes we're working on."

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He recognizes our superiority. Good.

If you're so superior, why are you asking for support?

Archeville took the pen up, but did not immediately sign -- he read the agreement, or at least was skimming it. "You flatter me, Mr. Micheals, but we both know there are quite a few folks out there who are more skilled than I, at least in certain fields. Of course, almost all of them are also, to use the popular term, supervillains, the type most decidedly not interested in using their skills for anything but base self-gratification. They would gladly take your resources, certainly, but the only way you'd get any blueprints of schemata from them is to subdue them, take their devices, and reverse engineer them."

"Of course," he looked away from the paper and leaned back in his chair, "there is that film from a few years back which showed modern profit-driven corporations are functionally equivalent to psychopaths. Irresponsible by putting everyone at risk in order to satisfy its own goals; unable to feel remorse; manipulative of everyone and everything, including public opinion; grandiose in always insisting it is Number One, the best. Some might say a company like Darts is a worse supervillain than any one individual could hope to be."

His face broke into a grin as he turned back to the agreement, taking a few more swigs of water. "Of course, we both know that's far from the case here -- Darts may be a weapons manufacturer, but as I see it, it's far from heartless. And, please, don't misunderstand my words -- I do recognize that Dart has some fine minds here, including yourself. Yes, yes, this agreement is fine," he says as he signs, "though if I do enter into a more official Consultant role, I would want to go over that contract in more detail."

He slid the signed agreement back to Eric, then stood. "Well, do lead on, Mr. Micheals!"

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Understandably Eric's eyes go a little wide when his idol is essentially calling his corporation a supervillain Either he's even smarter than I gave him credit for, or I'm paranoid and he's making idle chatter. Not sure which is worse. But as Dr. Archeville signs, Eric relaxes, and eager to get away from the topic of super villains, he chuckles a bit about reading the agreement over again, and waves Dr. Archeville to follow him out the door. "It's a little over my head, but as near as I can figure, it says we own everything that exists down in the R&D department. Anything you tack on, we have to give you credit for, but in exchange you don't blab about project X or whatever we're working on. Pretty standard."

When Eric opens the door, there are about 4 or 5 people who just so happen to be milling about outside the office. All of them do their best to look at Dr. Archeville and Eric while pretending not to look, most fail miserably. Instead of back to the elevators you originally came up on, Eric takes you off to the right and down the hall a little ways. He then reaches what appears to be a second elevator, but unlike most elevators, this one doesn't have up and down buttons, instead is has a key card reader. Eric takes out a key card and swipes it explaining "For security reasons, this is the only elevator that goes down to the research level." as he waits for the elevator. When the elevator arrives and Eric steps inside he jokingly adds "That, and I really like elevators."

After the fairly long elevator ride, the elevator stops at a surgically clean lobby, white walls and cleanings, with white tile, but some black ones break it up a bit. In the corner there is a door marked "STAIRS" which is flanked by 2 security guards, and another guard it at the desk situated between the stairs and the hallway leading off to the R&D department itself. The guards at the stairs nod at Eric who returns the gesture, and the man at the desk gives a cheerful "Mornin'." to the duo. "Hey, Hank. Have a good one." Eric replies.

Eric leads Dr. Archeville a short ways down the hallway before entering a door on the right which is a locker room/ safety gear depository. "Safety first." remarks Eric as he trades out his suit jacket and tie for a lab coat, a pair of gloves, some safety goggles and ear muffs, grabbing an extra set for Dr. Archeville.

"Alright, you're the guest. Do you want to check out small arms, defense, artillery, or miscellaneous first?"

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Yes, yeesss, show us all your secrets!

So we can help him! HELP HIM!

Archeville looked admiringly at the labcoats, gloves, and goggles. "Ah, a good selection you haff her, Herr Micheals" he said approvingly, once again using his thicker accent. He takes a pair of gloves, looks them over, then slowly snaps them on. "Nothing like de feel of nitrile rubber und neoprene, is dere? I haff even heard some of de..." he pauses a moment, as if searching for a word, "in de Metahuman community haff taken to incorporating dis into deir costumes -- some recent advances in textiles haff seen the combining of spandex und Neoprene for flexible yet resistant outfits, dough it vas initially developed for SCUBA vetsuits, not crime-fighting. Or crime-committing."

He then turned to the goggles, and after some deliberation selected a pair and pt them on, resting the eyecups on his forehead. "But, dat's vhat science und technology do, ja? It goes down unexpected paths, finds all manner of venues... vhch is vhy ve must control it."

The doktor looked down at his hands, and appeared to just now realize that they were clenched into fists. He quickly opened his hands and clapped them together. "Ahem... vell, ja, I dink de order you listed dem in sounds fine, Herr Micheals. Small arms, den defense, den artillery, den miscellaneous."

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Eric nods "Yes, I've heard about that. We've integrated some of our defense technology into our lab coats, they don't work quite as well as Kevlar yet, but we're getting pretty close. But personally, I want to put more attention on not having an accident to begin with.

I'm not quite sure I agree with you about controlling science per se. Science has been as dangerous since our ancestors put rocks on the end of sticks, no doubt about it, but I'd like to think we've accomplished more good than bad in all the years since. So I don't think walking down any particular path is inherently bad, so long as you watch you step." Then Eric ads with a shrug "Then again, I make weapons for a living, most people don't seek me out for moral advice. Anyways, philosophy later, lets get our hands dirty."

Eric leads you down the hallway a bit further, and at a T-turn takes the right fork. A stone's throw later, he leads you through a sliding glass door with the words "LAB 2A" written on it. Inside are several tables are lined with various tools and parts; your expert eye informs you that this is most likely the area where prototypes are assembled. Near the opposite wall a blond male scientist appears to be messing with the circuitry of a fairly large hand gun, which suggests that it doesn't fire standard slugs. In a quiet voice as to not disturb the working scientist, Eric says "This is the assembly area, once it works on paper, and all the parts have been machined in another area, we slap it all together to see if it actually works. My favorite part is testing them out at the range" says Eric as he points to a large metal door at the opposite end of the room. Continuing he says "But what I think you'll really get a kick out of is the idea room on my right."

One sliding door later you're in the so called idea room. The right wall is almost entirely taken up by a giant white board, which itself is covered in scribbles, and various pictures and news clippings. A closer inspection reveals this pictures to be various super-tech gadgets, such as Malice's and Daedalus' battle suits, Dr Simian's hover chair, one of Dr. Otaku's mechs, and not to mention a few of Dr. Archeville's own inventions. Around the images are scribbles by various different scientists writing suggestions as to how the item in question works. The remainder of the room is taken up by tables that apparently are essentially computers and the surface of the desks are the monitors.

Another scientist is in this room drawing on one of the computer/desk apparently designing something. The scientist who is a female red head, probably in her's late 40's early 50's looks up from her work as the pair enters, and appears to be about to say something to Eric when she notices Dr. Archeville. Her eyes go wide as she stutters a greeting. "Ah, Maddie, nice to see you. Dr. Archeville, this is Dr. Silvers, the lead researcher of the small arms division. Dr. Silvers, meet Dr. Archeville, who really doesn't need an introduction, now that I think about it. I was just giving Dr. Archeville here a tour of the facilities, I figured I should start off where all of our ideas do." Eric then explains that "About 95% of the ideas on the board never come to fruition, but I think it really helps the juices flow and lets the staff start thinking outside the box, or at least the box we're used to. Speaking of, what're you working on Maddie?" asks Eric as he peers over her shoulder at the work she was doing.

"O-oh. I thought of a way that we could reduce the kickback and refire rate of the HHC. That's um the Hollow Hand Cannon. It fires a slow light energy projectile instead of slugs, and its power generator can effectively power it forever."

"We haven't put it into use yet because the reaction produces a massive kick back, and there's currently about a 4 second delay between each shot to give the generator enough time to build up enough charge for a second round."

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What was that?

What was what?

You! "Control"! Fists!

What, I'm not allowed to express myself even a little? Oh, you know that's dangerous, keeping me bottled up.

.........

That's what I thought.

Archeville nods at Eric's words regarding the labcoats. "Ja, ja, vhat is de sayin? 'An ounce of prevention is vorth a pound of cure'? Good vords to live by. Und, yes, 'vatching your step' is vhat I meant...."

In the Idea Room of Lab 2A, the doktor smiled as he saw the news clippings and photos of other super-tech, including his own. "Qvite de collection you haff here, Herr Micheals. Und even if, as you say, you only get 5% of dis vorking, dat is still a considerable amount of vork." He steps closer to the wall to inspect some of the clipping of his own work; some were in English, but most were not, though they did have translations affixed to them. After looking over them a moment, he takes out a pen from his labcoat and begins to mark on some of the sheets. "I believe some of your problems may be coming from poor translations of some of de original texts, in addition to certain errors in de original reports demselves. Dis shoud translate as 'reciprocating,' not 'reciprocal'... und dis should be 'milivolt," not 'megavolt'... dis should be 'fog', not 'excrement'!... und dis... dis... I dink de journalist vas drunk when he wrote dis! He begins mumbling as he writes in corrections.

Maddie's voice snaps his focus back to the current presentation, and he glides over to her. "Ah, ja, ja, I had similar problems mit mein own elektromagnetische pistole ven I first created it. May I?" He gestures towards the keyboard and monitor, indicating he'd like to drive for a bit.

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Dr. Silvers looks upon at Eric for a moment as if she is deciding whether or not she would let this stranger touch her baby, even if it's a brilliant stranger. Eric gives a small nod to Silvers, essentially giving Dr. Archeville a seal of approval. As Dr. Silvers vacates her seat she says to Dr. Archeville "I was going to increase the amperage generated at junction C8, and make the modifications to the chamber listed over there, if that helps any. And do try to not make us look too foolish."

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Pft, to do that I'd need to give myself a lobotomy.

...

Aw, what's wrong? No witty retort?

No, I'm just regretting us ever coming here.

You wanted this as much as I did.

Yes, but I explicitly said I do not want this!

Tough.

Archeville gives a slight bow to Maddie. "I shall only make a few minor suggestions, frauen, I do not vish to deprive you of de... 'thrill of de hunt,' as it vere."

Once seated, he does not actually touch the keyboard or mouse, he just examines the screen for a few moments, tracing a few of the components with a fingertip. "Increasing amperage sounds like de opposite of vhat is desired -- such an alteration vould increase de time needed for recharge. Und, ja, dese modifications vould compensate for a fair portion of de recoil, having it vent out de sides like de muzzle brake of a conventional firearm... but it vould require more energy, und so a longer recharge time as vell."

"Buut...." the doktor cracked his knuckles, then set to work, "if you make dis modification to de trigger mechanism... und fabricate dese components of de trigger out of lead zirconate titanate... und replace dese components of de trigger und dis focusing lens mit gallium orthophosphate crystals... and dis focusing lens mit a lithium tantalate crystal, und dis von mit a strontium barium niobate crystal... den... ja, dis should vork. De new trigger components can generate some energy simply by being squeezed, as can de new lenses vhen compressed, heated, or cooled. So now you von't haff such a lag in power build-up, since you von't be needing to draw so much from de generator. Combined mit your modifications to de firing chamber, und dis should vork as you vould like."

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Almost in unison, both Eric's and Maddie's heads tilt to the side and look at Dr. Archeville's modification to the design. "Huh. That's quite the elegant solution, don't you think Eric? ...Eric?" Maddie turns her head to look at Eric when he doesn't answer, and finds that's he's not there. Sweeping the room she finds Eric walking towards the back of the room. "What're you..." she asks slowly as Eric picks up one of the markers. For an answer, he writes the words "A trigger is more than a firing mechanism." in big letters and underlines every instance of "materials" on the board.

Eric walks back towards the pair with a bit of a smile on his face "I would've beat my head against the wall for a month before thinking of half of that." He then pauses about halfway back to the desk and you can see the light bulb go off in his head. "Hold on, I just thought of something." He goes over to the desk, saves the progress Dr. Archeville had made, and brings up a different set of plans. This one is labeled "Project Electric Bullet".

"What we've been trying to do with his gun here is fire essentially a self contained stun gun as if it were a bullet. A very large bullet, but a bullet none the less. So it combines the reliability and range of a bullet, without the lethality. Our progress is slow because it has to be fired from the gun, and hit the target, and remain in functioning condition." He explains to Dr. Archeville. Pulling out an electronic pen, Eric starts drawing over the design, talking to himself as much as he is to everyone else "But, if I were to modify your trigger design like so, and integrate that into our air powered flechette gun... we could theoretically fire this up to 80+ yards on air power alone. And we could get that to go even further is we swapped out the gallium titanate that we used at the back to increase the structural integrity, with the phosphoric manganese infused glass... Oh wow. This could really work. Maddie, I think I know what you're new project is."

Eric takes a moment to scan the new design, looking over his interlaced fingers. Then he looks over at Dr. Archeville "Thank you doctor. Really. Thank you."

Have you had enough of small arms, or would you like to keep digging through our prototypes?"

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Ha! Child's play!

I thought we weren't going to be doing anything for them, just guiding?

And that's exactly what I did. I told them what to use, but not precisely how to use it -- I didn't go into specifics on the alloy compositions, or the measurements of the lenses. They'll need to work out the proportions, how thick or thin to go... and if the prototype overloads and blows a researcher's arm off, well, we can hardly be blamed for that.

"You're qvite velcome, Herr Micheals" he says, looking with an impressed look over the "electric bullet air gun." "Dis is, after all, vhjat I am here for. However, I vould like to 'svitch gears' a bit und see some of your defensive projekts now, please."

He turns back to Maddie before leaving, and bows slightly to here. ""Madame, it has been a pleasure to meet you."

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"Very good then. If you'll just follow me." Eric leads Dr. Archeville down a few more corridors, passing a few scientists on the way, who exchange a bit of small talk every now and then. They finally enter a room marked "Lab 3C". It has a similar set up to the previous lab. This lab however is quite a bit more lively. There are 4 scientists working on assembling various pieces of technology and there are 6 more in the "idea room" working on their computers. As Eric scans the room, a smile appears on his face "Ah, Dr. Reynolds must have had another flash of brilliance. Dr. Reynolds' way of doing things is quite erratic, he won't have any progress for 3 months on end, and then in just a week, he'll make more progress than all the other divisions combined." Eric points to the door that presumably leads to the test area, as it has a bright sign saying "Testing in Progress" right above it. "Let's see what the good doctor's devised this time."

Eric walks to the door, swipes his card, and the little light next to it goes from red to yellow. There's a bit of delay before it goes to green and the door opens. "Don't want people barging in when a test is in progress, for obvious safety reasons." At the door to greet you is Dr. Reynolds (or at least someone wearing his name tag), a broad shouldered man with dark hair and a goatee, probably in his 30's. "Ah, Eric you dog - dropping in on me unannounced. And you even brought Dr. Archeville with you. A great pleasure to meet you doctor. Please come in."

Inside the room are another 4 scientists milling about. They stand at one end of what appears to be a reinforced firing range. There are many tables set up at the firing range, several adorned with computers and other data collecting gear, but many of the tables also have a collection of guns on them. What they appear to be shooting at (although not at the moment) is a full suit (head to toe) of black body armor in the middle of the firing range. "What we've got here is what we hope will be the pinnacle of infantry defense." Reynolds picks up what appears to be a copy of the elbow length glove that is currently on the range. He slips his hand inside saying "It might now look like much right now, but watch this." He clenches the fist and then the glove appears to be made out of a green crystal material. "A hard light, full body force field generator. And the suit itself without the force field is effective against rounds up to 44 caliber. Downside, this glove probably weighs about 30 lbs all by itself."

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As Eric explains Dr. Reynold's methods to him, a smile once again spreads across the doktor's face. "Sounds like mein own vork methods -- as much as ve may try, creativity und innovation cannot be put to a timetable."

~~~

Hard Light Force Field Suit? We designed one when we were fifteen!

Say, wasn't there a kid named Reynolds in one of our physics classes at HIT? Looked kinda like this Dr. Reynolds. May have been this guy's kid.

.... How dare he steal our work!!!

"Ah, ja, I see, I see," Archeville says as he nods at Reynold's words. "Tell me, though, how vere you able to solve de Magenta Problem?"

Archeville pulls out his Electromagnetic Screwdriver again, makes a few adjustments, and the following image appears projected onto the ceiling

"Mit light, de t'ree primary colors are Red, Green, und Blue. Mix red und green, you get yellows, oranges und browns. Mix green und blue, you get shades of cyan. Mix red und blue, you get shades of purple, mit magenta being de perfect 50/50 blend. Mix all t'ree primaries together, or von primary und its opposite secondary color -- Red und Cyan, or Green und Magenta, or Blue und Yellow -- und you get vhite light."

"Und dat is de problem," he continues as the image shifts to a cyan plane being approached by a slow-moving red beam. "Vhen ve deal mit Hard Light force fields und coherent photon beams -- i.e., lasers und similar energy beams -- dere is a an explosive reaction if de two components are of opposite spectra." The red beam hits the cyan plane, and there is a near-blinding flash of white light. "Dey combine to create an omnidirectional burst of intense vhite light, which can blind all in de area. Vhich is actually something of a mixed blessing, since de blinded attackers cannot take advantage of de short time it takes for de hard light field to 'regenerate' from de reaction." The projected image shows the cyan plane, now with a large hole in it, though it is knitting itself back together.

"Vhich shows vhy no von should ever, ever make a photonic force field in de cyan spectrum, because even de beam from a red targeting light -- de kind you can buy at any gun shoppe -- is enough to cause dis reaction!" Archeville clicks off his projection, but keeps the E.S. out, twirling it in his fingers. "So, Doctor Reynolds, vere you able to solve de Magenta Problem? Or vere you just hoping no von vould use such veapons against dis? Admittedly, magenta is not a common wavelength used in energy veapons."

"Of course, dere is de veight problem to consider. Vhat are you using to power dese dings, to generate de fields? If de glove alone is 30 pounds, de whole suit is, vhat, 120?"

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After Dr. Archeville's speech the room is silent for a moment, as several of the scientists have just been dumbfounded. Dr. Reynolds has his hands folded behind his back and was rocking back and forth on his feet looking at where the color wheel had been projected on the ceiling. Eric is standing a little distance away with his arms folded looking at the space between Dr. Archeville and Reynolds, with a big smirk on his face; was he really enjoying Dr. Archeville showing up his top scientists this much? After a moment, Dr. Reynolds turned to Dr. Archeville saying "I hadn't honestly even thought of that. Hehe. I had a feeling that things were going too smoothly. Well... my initial thoughts on this... Well we could, as you said, just hope for no magenta wavelengths but to hedge our bets outfit the helmets with eye shields to protect the soldier's eyes while using the flash to hinder the opposition. Clearly that is the last ditch option.

Secondly, we could go for a collide-a-scope effect and have the color change randomly on the fly. Then again, that would make the suit vulnerable to all colors at one point or another. Not to mention the soldiers would all essentially be wearing rainbow suits, for some reason, I don't think that will fly with the higher ups.

Then thirdly, we ignore the colors all together and try to create either a black force field, which I would suspect is nigh impossible or go for a clear force field. We have a clear force field in development, but for reasons I've yet to grasp, it has too much give to it. It doesn't stop projectiles so much as cushion their impact. As for the weight issue, that's Eric's department."

Eric explains "While I have significant sway in all of the R&D departments, the Miscellaneous Department is my brain child. We're currently trying to stabilize a new polymer that has twice the strength of steel, at less than a quarter of the weight. Though chemistry is not my forte. Also, I've been working on an exoskeleton that enhanced the user's strength. Either would be useful for this suit, but more on those later. I don't want to steal Dr. Reynolds' thunder."

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Gah, morons, all of them!

And that's why we're here: we help -- HELP! -- them, they'll help us.

Archeville laughs at the kaleidoscope force field suggestion, "No, I do not think many vould go for dat. Image issues aside, dere could be de risk of inducing epileptic seizures in de wearer or his nearby teammates, not to mention de utter uselessness in any sort of stealth mission. De solid black von vould haff it's own problems, of course -- how vould de vearer see out of it?"

"I vould be very interested in seeing your Miscellany Sektor, Herr Micheals!"

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"Ah you dog, you've gone and stole him away. S'alright. The good doctor should really get a kick out of the department. And Dr. Archeville, thank you for pointing out the hazards of magenta, you've given me something interesting to ponder."

"Take care Dr. Reynolds. Dr. Archeville, if you'll follow me." Eric leads Archeville out of the lab and down to a stair case, which he takes to the floor below, and pauses at the door with his hand on the handle. "You've probably noticed something a little odd about our facility, but out of proper social graces, you didn't say anything. At the start of our meeting, I said that R&D was our largest asset, but we've seen half of the divisions, but only a handful of scientists, how can that be? Well, Misc. R&D happens to take up about 70% of all of R&D. And I really wish no one was working right now, so I could be dramatic and turn on the lights one row at a time for the big reveal. But this will have to suffice." says Eric as he swings open the door to reveal the Misc. Department.

The door opens out onto a catwalk over looking a giant room roughly the size of the entire floor above. There are at least 20 scientists working that the various stations, none of them seeming to be working on the same project, and the atmosphere just feels free. Looking just like a proud father, Eric spreads his arms wide proclaiming "This is my contribution to Darts. When I took over as head researcher I told every scientist that we employ that if they ever have a sudden bolt of inspiration, quit whatever you're doing and work on that. My belief is that you can't limit creativity, or innovation for that matter. It all goes back to thinking outside the box, at Darts there's no such thing as a wrong idea. Most of the projects being worked on right now, have no military application, but they get attention because they could very well be a good idea."

"The board of course flipped when I started this program, but then they slowly came to realize some of the most profitable ideas are the "wacky pants" off the wall ones. Dr. Silvers for example, created essentially a "perpetual pressure system". No, its not truly perpetual, and its applications are unfortunately quite limited, but Maddie found something that it works wonderfully for, water guns. You pump it once and its good to go until it runs out of water. Quite a few toy companies are biting at the bit to get their hands on the patent for that, so expect to see them on the shelves come later spring."

Eric directs you to a set of stairs down to the research level itself saying with a smile "But enough about everyone else, I can't let you out of here without showing you a few of my designs." Eric leads you down to the far end of the facility to his personal lab. It appears to be a little more high tech than some of the other labs you've seen, and a bit bigger and like many of the labs you've seen there is a large metal door in the back. Eric notices something on his desk off in the corner and picks it up. It appears to be a gray blue piece of metal about the size of a cell phone. "Ah, this is the metal I was telling you about before. This is actually a new sample... ah, Dr. Hanson upped the tolerance a bit. The problem with this metal is while it is very strong, and weighs a bit more than 4.4 grams per cubic centimeter, it has a very low tolerance for heat and cold, and I mean very. The structural integrity starts degrading if it goes below 55 F, or above 85 F. Well, at least that's what it was at... Dr. Hansen got it to... 28 and 112 respectively. Here's the formula if you want to look it over."

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"I'm sure ve vill be meeting each other again, Doktor Reynolds," Archeville said as he shook the doctor's hand. "Who knows, perhaps ve vill even be vorkink togather some!"

Archeville smiles and nods as Eric gives his lilte speech on the way to the Misc. Department.

Ooooh... now, this has potential!

Yes, potential to aid, to help, to heal!

The doktor lets out a low whistle at the sights below him -- he is impressed, and he does not hide the fact. "I do admit, Herr Micheals, I vas not expectink quite so grand a sektion!"

He scratches his chin a bit while Eric discusses the new metal, "Dat's a little more dan half de density of iron -- not bad. De temperature intolerance is a problem, though, ja..." He mumbles to himself a bit as he looks over the formula, staring very intently at it, then suddenly looks up to Eric. "I haff de beginnings of a few ideas, mostly in regards to de bonds, but I need to see more dan just dis formula. Do you have high-resolution images of de molecular structure, und spectrographic analyses of how it breaks down under 'extreme' temperatures?"

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Clearly a bit out of his element, Eric looks at you for a moment in contemplation before figuring out what you said. "Ah right, umm, where did I put those..." he bends over and starts rifling through the rather large mound of papers on his desk, pausing every few moments to look at a sticky note at the top of a set of papers. He finally looks at one of the sticky tags, saying "Ah-ha!" Eric looks it over with a small frown on his face before handing it over to Dr. Archeville.

"Ah, I see now. Well, the main problem with the metal is that it's kind of like a rope. It'll start "fraying" at high temperatures. While it can still support weight when outside of the tolerance zone, it'll slowly degrade over time. This is a by-product of the way the chemical is essentially made. The way it was explained to me is that back in the olden days, smiths would fold the metal back over itself to rid it of impurities and increase its strength and durability. What our scientists have done, in a rather crude way of saying it, is fold the metal back on itself chemically instead of physically. So the metal harnesses some of the nuclear attraction forces to keep itself together, but as a result heat (or a lack there of) is transferred extremely rapidly throughout the metal and breaks it down from the inside out. But again, don't quote me on that."

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This is not what I asked for! Show me, don't tell me!

Calm down, calm down, he's doing the best he feels he can, I'm sure.

As Eric shuffled through papers, Archeville had already taken out his Elektromagnetischer Schraubenzieher and began fiddling with the controls. While still making adjustments, he walked over to the sample and touched one end of the '"screwdriver" to it, just as Eric finished saying his bit.

"Dat von't vork, Herr Micheals, at least, not fully. De folding metal technique creates multiple layers to strengthen de metal, but dot doesn't vork on a molecular level unless de layers are bonded to each other -- otervhise you have something akin to common pencil graphite. However, de folding technique also strengthens de metal by evening out de composition. It does not get rid of impurities, at least, not many, it merely ensures dat dey are distributed evenly throughout de item, not built up in any one part. But dese impurties can be of some use...."

Suddenly, a 3D holographic image sprang up, a five-foot-wide representation of the metal's molecular structure. The molecules looked almost like twisted accordions, though the ends were just barely closed together.

"Ja, ja, I see de 'folding back' you mention... and dere are de ends of the molecules, just barely holding together -- se how dose bonds are so unstable, almost visibly vibrating? Temperature goes too high, dey fly apart, but it gets too low, some become too rigid und dey shatter like peanut brittle. However, if ve add in a few dings to stabilize dose bonds...."

Archeville adjusted the 'screwdriver' some, lifting it from the metal sample as he did, though the images remained. The image shrank to a mere foot in size, and next to it appeared holograms of several other molecules, all far smaller than the sample metal. Copies of the images of the metal molecule and one of the others would move together and interact in various ways; some images were saved, some were discarded.

"Of course, knowing what is needed to solve de problem, und getting de two parts to interact de vay you vant, are two very different problems. I believe, dough, dat some of dese organic catalysts should do de trick."

"Organic?" Eric asked.

"Oh, did I not mention? Dis metal you haff made, it is very similar to some samples of 'living' or 'organic' metals I haff seen."

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