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May 27, 2019, 12.47PM, a lovely warm late spring day

Emerald City, Oregon, waterfront, annual MarsTech Science Fair


"Wow, Meridian! Amazing! If you hadn't stopped those robot ninjas, my MarsTech Olympus-class air-scrubber would be in the hands of evil! Our ozone and oxygen are safe yet again!"


Max Mars, standing beaming like a happy child while surrounded by smashed bits of cyclopic glossy-black robots dressed like ancient stage hands, seemed for once even smaller than his five feet next to the towering heroine. His curly red hair, peppered with grey, had caught plenty of the debris from the magnificently-staged mock-combat, and his lovely deep-blue suit and bearded face had caught a full blast of smoke from an all-too real electrical fire, but the grin on his face wasn't damaged or dimmed in the least.


The West Coast's favorite source of super-science had been urging for something like this ever since meeting Sophie Powers, and evidently it had lived up to all his dreams at once.


The rest of the dock had been cleared and meticulously calculated to allow for the fight to happen without causing any real harm, while the stands stood close enough to the action to let the Emerald City munchkins feel the vicarious thrills.


The platform Max and Meridian stood on was two-level, letting the real point of the show make an imposing backdrop-a monolithic black wall marked out with the red planet logo of MarsTech-keep up a presence.


The Olympus was some kind of greenhouse gas-condenser, and had been busily proving its worth since its unveiling. By processes Max had been very happy to explain, but which relatively few people understood, it had been drawing carbon and other heat-trapping airborne substances from the air and converting them into other, less harmful solid forms. To hear Max talk, one could be forgiven for thinking the entire ecological crisis was solved for all time.


Emerald's favorite son swept a hand to the crowd "A big hand, everybody, for Meridian, today's greatest hero!"


The request wasn't necessary, since Emerald citizens weren't yet jaded enough to not be amazed by the sight of people punching robots in front of them, but it did get a standing ovation going!


The only less-than-enthralled response was from the Emerald City South Girl Scouts box, in which several hundred uniformed girls busily scribbled notes onto tablets or inspected fragments of metal that blown their way, the wall of uniformed older women around them clapping politely but with veryobvious skepticism. By tradition, the Emerald City North Girl Scouts box was as far from the South's as reasonably possible, and was resolutely and coolly silent.


The flying news-drones swept closer, circling to capture the moment, their human counterparts chatting with the MarsTech company reps and snapping photos. Except for the skinny, greasy woman in the grey 50's suit and 'PRESS'-carded trilby who'd been politely put behind the security line after trying to reach the stage and ask questions. She just scribbled and glared from time to time.

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On the one hand, Sophie couldn't help but feel just a twinge of guilt as she drove her fist through the last synthetic shinobi, its circuitry going dead as it shattered to the ground. She wasn't exactly what you would call a 'computer person', and her technical skills pretty much began and ended with a decent search engine. But it didn't take an engineer to recognize these robots were probably the result of a lot of hard work by some very talented people, and she'd just torn through them like tissue paper. And when you put it in that light, yeah, it kind of put a rain cloud on things.


But on the other, much larger and far more immediate hand: getting to fight ninja robots is the kind of thing that every kid whose ever been bored in history class has doodled on the back of their composition note book, and she'd just had the chance to do it with zero consequences and a cheering crowd. No amount of introspection was going to kill that kind of mirth. Heck, add in a few gorilla pirates and you'd pretty much hit the slam-dunk of elementary school daydreams. 


Taking a moment to brush some wiring from her otherwise perfectly styled haircut in a motion that looked so effortless that it looped back around to being almost inevitably the result of many hours of directed practices as to the best way to look casual, Sophie followed along with the story-structure for the stage show "No need for thanks, Max, you can always trust me to be there to protect anyone who calls this amazing city home." Pause for crowd response to the pandering comment "Just as I know we can trust in you to help keep our planet safe from the dangers of pollution"


Surveying the scene, now that the 'battle' was won, she took a gander at the crowd, letting the cheers wash over her, letting herself soar up twenty feet or so, and then quickly tucking into a dive to do a quick lap through the arena, holding one hand out and exchanging fly-by high-fives with the good folks of Emerald City, before circling back to her position on stage, standing beside Max, and looking his way long enough to give a beaming smile and a nod of acknowledgement, while internally tamping down the desire to pick the little guy up and hoist him up onto her shoulders. I'd make for a fun visual, but probably would come across as disrespectful towards the event host. 


It was, after-all, supposed to be his day, she was just there to share in it.


In the run up meetings to the event, Sophie had been briefed as to The Olympus and its functioning, and retained very little of the more technical discussions, beyond it was a big machine that helped to clean the air. It also somehow made bricks of stuff, or something to that effect. The details were less important than the headline message anyway, new machine that will help solve big problems with the world. That was the only take away she really had any need of, and anything with that kind of positive buzz was certainly something she wanted to support. Getting called in to help with the big unveiling party was a great chance to raise awareness of the good work that Mars Tech was doing.


Good enough to even wave her usually appearance fee for corporate sponsored events. 


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Few people in the crowds probably understood what Max Mars was going on about with how the Olympus was converting greenhouse gasses into useful, less harmful substances, but one Robin Lynne Langley. Of course she had to be here for the MarsTech Science Fair. She had been coming for years, and she wasn't about to stop now. All the new tech, everything that Max Mars was dreaming up, presented out here by the man himself? It was great, as always! And the Olympus? It was nothing short of a revolution! Honestly, Robin would love to get to Max Mars, really poke his mind about everything that he was thinking, but she knew that wasn't about to happen.


That Meridian, however... there was just something about her that rubbed Robin the wrong way. Sure, she was a hero. Everything said so, and she was hanging out with Max Mars, which had to be a plus, but there was just something about the way that she played to the cameras, or maybe Robin just had to admit that she was kind of jealous? Meridian had just popped up and was already doing things like this, while she'd been at it as Justice since Halloween, and aside from that thing with Sunnyside Immigrant Refuge, the Wall, Blowfish and Detective Kidd, and being on television for that. Yeah, that might be it. She really wasn't sure, but maybe that was it, and just seeing her flying around like that? Maybe


Anyway, there was plenty of things happening here. Robin could just as well focus on Max Mars and everything else being shown at the fair.

Edited by RocketLord
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"Awww, you're too kind, Meridian! Averting total ecological collapse isn't something just one person can do, even our metas can't do it by themselves, it will take all of us putting our heads together to get through this!" He pointed dramatically in a sweeping motion that, magnified on the big screen looming above, had it looking like he pointed right at everyone in the stands. "We all have each other, and even without amazing powers or technology we can all make a difference!"


By some coincidence, he ended on Robin. "You! Frequent Flyer! Come on up here! Let's hear from the next generation!"  A MarsTech employee had seemingly materialized next to the young toku fan, an impeccably-groomed young man who looked like they came Jadetown, who offered a winning smile and a clear path to the stage.


"You don't mind kids, do you?" Max asked Meridian out the corner of his beaming face, joining the Munchkins in their applause of the lucky teenager.

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Robin froze. Was Max Mars pointing at her? He wanted her to get up on the stage, in front of everyone? And wait! Frequent flyer? Did he actually recognize her from all the times she'd been coming to the science fair? This was... wow. She honestly didn't have words! Max Mars recognized her! This was too awesome! 


"Wow." she managed to utter, before noticing the MarsTech employee with the smile. He might be good looking, he might have a beaming smile, but Robin didn't even notice it right now. She was going to meet Max Mars! With the path opening to the stage, she started quickly walking up towards the stage. And alright, this was fine, this was great. Everyone watching, all at once. Not scary in the slightest, no. But she could do this. She had to, right? This was a great chance. Maybe get to pick Mr. Mars' mind a bit! Taking quick steps to get to the stage, Robin looked up at Max Mars and Meridian. He seemed to be all smiles, friendly and smart. Meridian too, but flying and in a rather revealing costume. Robin had to look ridiculous next to these two. A real, flying super hero and the CEO of MarsTech, and here she was in jeans and t-shirt, looking like a teenager despite being in her early twenties. She felt kind of ridiculous, to be honest. Deep breath. Think it through. Don't embarrass herself too much. 


"This is such an honor, Mr. Mars. The Olympus is incredible, but it can't be cheap. How are you gonna convince it to be put into use around the world?" Yes, that right there, that might work. She was almost trembling with excitement, but no, she had to stand straight, stand still, and at least try to breathe. 

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Sophia didn't even hesitate for a second when Max went a bit off script, calling upon some of the audience to join them on stage for the launching ceremony. It would go great to putting a cherry on the whole theme of the event: taking care of the planet was a responsibility for everyone. So while the lucky candidate made her way on stage, Sophia put on her 'address the crowd' voice and cheered "You heard the man! Everybody, I want to hear you cheer!" And then started up some good old fashion rhythmic clapping that gradually increased in tempo while the kid made her way up to the platform, losing cohesion into a full blown roar of clapping hands and whooping cheers. 


Dipping back, Meridian retook her place on stage once more, framing the kid center with Max and herself. The girl from the audience was a bit older up close, just past the cusp of late teen and into young adult. Kind of skinny, but in a 'I do cardio and yoga' way, not a 'I skip most meals so I can be a size 0' way. Good skinny. She spoke to Max, asking a question. Seemed like a decent one, an easy pitch to the man, and a chance for him to bat it out of the park on his response. Wouldn't do any good on its own though.


Placing one hand on the girls shoulder, Sophia took off the stage microphone she'd been clipped with and pressed it into the young woman's hands. Being more than a head taller, she had to bend down to speak directly, quietly instructing "Hold up a sec, nobody can hear you without one of these. Why don't you give us your name and then ask again? Your doing great so far,  by the way" While leaning in, she also took the opportunity to slightly readjust the position to better angle towards the news cameras. 

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  • 3 weeks later...



"Got that covered. School I.D.'s chipped." Max mouthed in Meridian's direction, indicating the massive display overhead, which had already tagged Robin with an effect similar to what Sophia got in actor briefs on media players. One of a million little ways dropping by the Emeralds felt like visiting a science-fiction novel.


Meanwhile, the Man From Mars turned a very Sun-like smile to Robin. "Great question, Robin! Thanks to R&D subsidies graciously extended us by my good friend, governor Rick Rauer, we at MarsTech were able to simultaneously work on the Olympus and develop plans to retrofit every power generator, recycling or waste disposal facility in the state. With this baby," Max slapped the side of the Olympus(Meridian had touched it earlier, and Max had cackled when she realized it was still cold despite operating in direct sunlight and being solid black) "you could condense carbon dioxide and transform that gas into some of the finest diamonds you ever saw. I'm aiming to fit a variant of the Olympus, currently planned to be called the Vastitas, onto our new wave power generator and start pulling carbonic acid out the ocean, too! Sustainable, efficient, humane diamond production as a sideline to cleaning up our air, land and water."


"But make no mistake, this is years down the line! We're going to be counting on people like you, Robin, to keep it going so there's still an ecosystem twenty-five, fifty, even a hundred years from now! 


"Tell me, Robin, what're some problems you see ahead, from where you stand?"


A faint vibration suddenly passed through the stage. Max didn't seem to notice, smiling expectantly over at the high schooler, but over the water Devlin, the titanic green Devestoid, would-be citykiller, had changed its footing for the first time in decades. It had turned to face the tech expo, its great cyclopean visual receptor lit up and focused right on the Olympus.


With a step, it was off Council Island and wading ponderously across the Columbia river. The audience stared, frozen, those who weren't too intent on the stage to notice the giant robot marching towards them.

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Eep! Robin had been completely absorbed in the roar of the crowd. This was so weird. Standing here, like this, without a mask or anything, it was just so weird, and then suddenly Meridian's hand was on her shoulder and she was still standing here with Max freaking Mars and it was just all so much! And now, her picture (thank god that she'd managed an at least half decent photograph for the badge) and name was up on the big screen and everyone knew her name, too. She very much had a deer in a headlights look going on at the moment, and Robin was very aware of that. 


Max Mars had some really good points, and of course he had it all planned out, even if it was far in the future. She could see at least a few problems, though. Even with the governor backing it, there would always be the issue of finding early adopters, and there were bound to be people resisting it, just because. 


She didn't really get a chance to reply before the entire stage vibrated, even if Max Mars didn't seem to notice. But... "Is... is the Devestoid moving?" No, no, this was impossible. That thing hadn't moved in decades. How was it suddenly moving now? It made no sense! And why now, right when Robin was standing here, up on stage, with Max Mars, and now it was moving?

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