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For his part facsimile opted for his usual double bacon cheese burger, large fries and a shake sparing a moment to have some light conversation with the waitress as he formulated his answer to Archeville.

 

"Well, from what I can gather I was born with the ability but it's been dormant for most of my life." He ventured as he tried to recall various scans both Claremont and the praetorians had put him through at his request. 

 

"It first kicked in when I was Interning on a construction yard, a girder fell and was gonna smoosh me...so I cover my head with my arms and screw my eyes shut." Making the gesture for emphasis "there comes an all mighty clang and when I open em I'm made of steel with a girder wrapped around my forearms...I peel it off and honestly a Lil bit in shock run home clanging all the way heh."

 

Now came his turn and there was only really one thing he could ask for his first question.

 

"Where have your been since uh...things went south?"

Edited by Exaccus
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Ah.  Straight to it, then.  Well, best to get it over with.

 

"Well," he began, mood switching from joyous to somber as he went into his practiced tale, "in the immediate aftermath, I was in a hospital -- Providence Asylum -- getting my mind put back together following my possession and exorcism.  Some months later, while trying to clean up some of the damage, I was trapped on a savage desert world in another dimension.  After several harrowing adventures, I managed to return here, helped a few others, then," he held up his left hand, though kept the holodisguise up, "this happened.  More hospital stays, more tests.  Not long after I was given as clean a bill of health as could be given, The Incursion happened, and I found myself on an alien world, fighting and also desperately avoiding The Communion, for fear of what they could do with what was locked inside my mind and new body.  Eventually I made my way back to Earth, and have been slowly re-acclimating myself to helping others, though doing so secretly, subtly, in disguise."

 

Alexander did not sense any deception on Archeville's part, though he also knew the Doktor was leaving some details out.  Archeville was quiet a moment, letting Alexander absorb all that had been said.  "So," he said at last, voice slowly turning more upbeat, "I've seen you mimic aggregate substances, like asphalt and," he held up both hands and wiggled his fingers, "and you said the first thing you mimicked was a steel girder, so it would seem you can copy alloys, too.  And I would presume you could also mimic pure elements, like a diamond.  Can you only mimic solids?  Can you assume liquid or gaseous forms?"

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To be fair it was a extremely personal question and he hadn't expected as much of an answer as he had gotten, the details were largely unimportant to him it was the honesty that he had been looking for and emission of details was fair enough.

 

"That and so much more...I've been complex machinery, raw energy...accidentally an interdimensional black hole thing that nearly collapsed space time when I copied ASTRO's doorway device." Perhaps it would offer some comfort to the Doktor to hear of his own brush with unintentiobal universal destruction.

 

"We figure that last one was because when I became interdimensional all the infinite Alternate me's overlapped and started to concentrate into a single point of infinite pandimensional mass...fortunately I got snapped out of it before we could finish converging and fall through spacetime like rice paper."

 

He of course didn't remember it at all, one of the first attempts to snap him out of it had been psionic memory wipe.

 

"So next question for me huh? What were you doing around southside?"

Edited by Exaccus
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"Patch"'s bushy holographic eyebrows shot up, "astonishing!  So you can mimic energy, and technology?  If you copied someone's smartphone, you would not only have the hardness and durability of the case, but could make calls, take photos, access the internet?  That is... is..." he stammered a bit as his mind raced with the possibilities, "that is amazing!"

 

And potentially extremely dangerous.  Though he seems to already know that.

 

He shook his head for a moment as he continued thinking of possibilities for Facsimile's power, but finally snapped out of it.  "A fair question!  I was at Southside Family Medical Center, repairing -- and, when possible, upgrading -- their equipment.  This area is not as... prosperous as other parts of Freedom, for a variety of reasons, and I wanted to contribute in some small way to the community here.  I cannot do as much as I once could have, since I turned ArcheTech over to Miss Americana," no bitterness there, but resigned acceptance, "but I can make sure their computers are running smoothly, the blood pressure cuffs are getting accurate readings, the centrifuges in their blood lab are properly balanced, and so on."

 

He'd considered smuggling in medications and other consumable medical supplies, but knew that would raise too many questions.  A computer running more smoothly than it did last week is one thing, the sudden appearance of dozens of vials of broad spectrum antibiotics or insulin would be another.  But, he realized now, there might be a way.

 

"So when you mimic some substance," he began, "and a part of you is, ah, separated -- say, you were to cut your fingernails or hair -- would those separated parts automatically revert to their original form?  Or would they remain transmuted?"

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"Ah well that's awful nice of you! I try to do my best for folks around here but I'm mostly limited to taking care of super thugs and their lackies." He commented  rather excited by the prospect of more civic improvement in southside.

 

"And uh...it's weird! If it's broken off whilst I'm transformed it stays transformed...had my legs chopped at by a magic machete whilst I was massive and made of marble but when I was forced out it...the marble chunks that came off stayed marble...but I didn't have any scars...then again...it hurt like heck still."

 

His head snapped to the side as he sniffed the air slightly

 

"Looks like dinners on its way....one more round before we eat then; what are you planning to do next?"

Edited by Exaccus
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"Don't be so quick to belittle yourself, young man," he softly chided, "we all do what we can to help others in our own way.  For some, that's fighting criminals.  For others, that's tackling more... nebulous ills."

 

"So you can regrow limbs, too?" he asked, leaning over to peer under the table.  "Or did you... reattach your limb, holding the marble legs to your marble stumps before shifting back?"  The latter fit better into the theories he was forming regarding Facsimile's powers, but if it was the former, that could lead to some interesting possibilities.  "Heh, sorry, I guess that's my question.  And to answer yours: there's some more work for me to do at Southside Family Medical, and a few other places in the area.  Once I'm done here, well, I'm not exactly sure where I'll be going next, but my next big project -- which I hope to get started sometime next month -- will be taking me far from here."  He nodded towards his left hand, which was again projecting a small lifelike hologram, this time of a retro rocket ship blasting off and leaving Earth's atmosphere.

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"I'm not sure really, never been that hurt before...if I had to guess it's got something to do with how I transform, Steal or shed what I need to change my atoms or mess with my mass and volume. I just return to the state I was in before physically...not like a healing factor or anything...like if I was stone and smashed my fingers off on something and turned back...I'd have fingers but they'd hurt like all heck."

 

He hummed as he examined his hand "if you like we can go give it a go someplace else after this."

 

"I guess my last question is....why do you want to know all this?"

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"So," he said while processing all he'd just been told, "if I'm understanding your correctly, when you were marble, and your legs were cut off, when you changed back, your flesh-and-blood legs reappeared, but there were marble legs lying on the ground somewhere?  Wait, you also said you were massive at the time, so you were a marble giant?  You can take on properties of size, too?"

 

He sat back in the booth, eyes wide.  "Astonishing," he muttered, just as the waitress brought them their food.  He off-handedly thanks her, but ignored his food for a few moments as his mind roiled with thoughts.  But the smell of crispy bacon eventually got through to him; he looked down, saw their food, and smiled.  "Ah, good," he reached into one of his overall's pockets and brought out two small vials, "I've had nothing to eat since early this morning."  The contents of one vial, a silvery blue powder, he sprinkled into his coffee and stirred it in.  The other, containing dark coppery flakes, he sprinkled over his hash browns.  "Oh, ah, yes -- my, er, condition requires certain nutritional supplements.  Powdered gallium, in my coffee -- oh, that is nice," he said after a sip, "simple and unpretentious -- and cuprate-perovskite ceramic flakes for my hash browns."

 

"Why do I want to know all this?," he repeated after a second sip, "well, as I said, I'm a Doktor, a Scientist, and knowing things, figuring out how they work, is what I do.  I'm sure you've heard that ArcheTech had worked with ASTRO Labs and others in studying metahuman powers, and helping metahumans learn to control their abilities, or use them in new ways.  I'd like to continue that, in some small manner, but to do so I need to know wha- that is, who I'm working with."

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"Well like I said doc I ain't never taken more than chip damage." He began as he helped himself to his fries.hungrily.

 

"I hear ya! More about that sodium myself." He responded mirthfuly. As he watched the doc adding his secret sauce and sprinkles to the meal.

 

"I guess if you count some of the displacement from when I'm liquid or particulate stuff...get chunks blown out of me...I guess throwing fireballs when im made of fire also doesn't deplete my personal mass either....be weird if It did transform back and there were..well let's not whilst we're eating eh? " He caught himself before he went too far and decided to instead fill his mouth with delicious chocolate milkshake.

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"Agreed," he mumbled through a mouthful of hashbrowns.  Not that such discussions ever bothered him, but he respected Facsimile's "inappropriate dinner conversation" request.

 

The food was good, deliciously greasy and stomach-filling.  During the meal Archeville made idle conversation -- asking about businesses that went boom or bust over the past few years, local restaurants, odd weather patterns, celebrity sightings.  He made a point not to ask anything about Facsimie's powers, or his personal life, keeping the conversation light and breezy.

 

Eventually, of course, the food was gone, and they both sat back satisfied.  "Ah, there is an elegance to a simple meal, yes?  Thank you for bringing me here!"

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"Haha sure is!" Facsimile responded slapping his stomach gently in approval as he reclined against the seat a little more, wiggling a little to get comfortable.

 

"Dave's a heck of cook huh? Uh dietary requirements aside mind you." 

 

Leaning forwards again and moving his crockery to one side he placed his hands on the table.

 

"So where were we? Ah yeah I was pondering about if I'd be spraying giblets and throwing meatballs if things turned back to flesh and blood when I did." He chuckled perturbed at the thought.

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"Well, I was thinking of something less visceral," he said, softly chuckling.  "Like, if you grew your hair out, then turned into gold, cut your hair, and sold that to raise money for the community.  Or you let your fingernails grow for a few weeks, then turned to diamond, clipped them -- though you may need some special equipment to do so -- and sold those.  Of course," he took another sip of his coffee, "we'd need to study what those snipped off pieces of you actually are, run some molecular scans, make sure they're not going to spontaneously revert to hair or nails after some amount of time, or if exposed to some catalyst."

 

"Another idea, though one that's a bit more complex," he tilted his head slightly, "and presuming that the separated bits don't eventually revert back," he straightened up again, "is if you could mimic some chemical compounds, medicines like insulin or penicillin, and cry or sweat that out.  Then again," he began stroking his chin, "if you could just change your blood proteins, you could become a universal donor..."  He began to trail off, mumbling about compounds and grafts.

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"Wouldn't that like mess up the economy though? I mean making stuff like that?" Facsimile whispered in a hushed tone as he looked around nervously.

 

"I mean someone might also get like...greedy and try to..mine me." He gulped a little at the memory of the ghost work blacksite flashing through his mind.

 

"Im not sure what the cut off is exactly but I don't seem to be able to do living things....wooden furniture's fine; cotton and wool too but a living tree wouldn't copy over....couldn't say for blood or the like."

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"Ah, so there are limits -- good to know," he nodded.  "Guess that means you won't be expanding your power to mimicking the DNA of others, and copying metahuman powers.  Not that you'd need to!," he added with a chuckle.  "And, ah, yes," he lowered his voice, "too much would be bad, and if certain unscrupulous individuals learned of you doing that, they may well force you to, say, mimic illegal drugs, or Daka crystals, and... harvest you.  So..." he leaned back and resumed his regular voice, "let's change the subject, hrm?"

 

He reached into an overall pocket and pulled out two business cards, and laid them on the table in front of Facsimile.  "As I said before, if you are interested in help in exploring and testing your abilities, either of these would be good choices."  One was a slightly worn card for ASTRO Labs, the other a much older and more worn card for ArcheTech.  "If you're not comfortable working with me," he added, holding up his hands, "which I would completely understand and not hold against you in any way."

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"Dunno if I'd wanna copy other folks to be honest I'd just be a cheap knock-off of what they can do." He commented as he looked down at the cards.

 

"The folks at ASTRO are well intentioned but they're kinda....fast and loose with their stuff." He mentioned as he looked at the cards "ArcheTech I don't know much about but I'm pretty sure they'd politely refuse...they're uh....big on PR and damage control at the moment..." He leaned back into a comfortable but upright sitting position.

 

"And you.... Doktor, I have only just met but I have a feeling your sincere in your words and deeds so I'd be happy to work with you to figure this out."

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"You want to make your own mark on the world," Archeville replied, grinning and raising his cup to the young man, "most admirable!"

 

He chuckled softly, "you can't see it under this hologram," he fanned his face with one hand, "but your words make me blush.  Well, whatever my physiological equivalent of blushing is -- I believe some LED lights just spontaneously formed across my cheeks.  I am delighted and honored," he extended his hand again to the young hero, "to offer whatever assistance to you I can."

 

"So, once we're done here," he glanced over at the slowly rotating tower of pies behind the diner's counter, "shall we go over to my place and see what we can figure out?  Or did you have to get back out on patrol?"

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Facsimile took the doktors hand once more this time firmly and confidently, the inadvertent mimicry had been bay so far after all and he'd come to something of an arangement. 

 

"Not really, I've got feeds n' contacts and Live news apps up the wahoo, if something happens..plus." He began as he set his smartphone on the table and touched his fingers to the touch screen letting it creep up his fingers a little, turning them to illuminated shockproof glass.

 

"I can always tap in to the network directly...lots of unsecured Bluetooth stuff out there...even some budget security cams and you won't believe how many crooks now a day leave the GPS on their phone."

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He smirked, "yes, I know a thing or three about unsecured networks and GPS trackers."  He withdrew his hand and tapped his temple, "one perk of my new condition, though one that took me a while to get a handle on."  He began to rise from his seat, "so many signals out there, all coming in at once -- it was quite overwhelming at times!  But I learned to filter it out, focus on what I needed to and let the rest just become background noise." 

 

He went up to the counter and paid for their meal (using a prepaid debit card), then headed out.  He looked over at Facsimile's motorcycle, "if you don't mind, I'd like to handle transportation this time."  He turned and walked behind the diner, motioning for Facsimile to follow with his bike.  He looked around to see if there were any bystanders, then pointed to an empty spot next to the dumpster behind the diner.  "Just a moment, please," he said, closing his eyes and concentrating.

 

A pinpoint of blue-grey light appeared in the air before them, and slowly expanded.  The point become a ring, through which Facsimile could see a single metal door. As the portal widened, he could see more of the other side: the door was set into a large building, surrounded by asphalt.  A large parking lot, most likely.  After a few seconds, the portal was easily big enough for Facsimile and the Doktor to walk through side by side, with his motorcycle in between them.

 

"It's not as luxurious as my former home," he apologized, "but it should be more than sufficient."

 

[Continues in The Strongest Link.]

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