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The Strongest Link

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2019 May 17th (Friday).  Evening.  Cloudy, temps in high 60s/low 70s.

[Continued from Upgrading the Supply Chain.]


At the doorway to a small private hangar on Jameson Airport, a hole in space appeared.  It was a very brief thing, and tightly controlled -- the creator knew a wormhole's varying gravimetric fluctuations could play havoc with the delicate sensors used by the aircraft in the area, so he kept things tight and focused to minimize that.  Out of the portal stepped two figured, with a motorcylce between them.  One was a young man, who appeared to be the vehicle's owner as he was dressed not unlike a biker.  The other appeared to be an older man, middle aged, with long brown hair, in blue overalls and an orange long-sleeved shirt, with a large leather tool belt.  As soon as they were through, the portal snapped shut with a soft 'boof' of displaced air.


"Here we are, hangar 4P," the older man said as he walked towards the single side door, "home sweet home.  Well, for now, at least."  He opened the door and entered the darkened structure, beckoning for the younger man to follow.

Edited by Dr Archeville
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Facsimile was quite impressed all in all from what rambling he'd caught about it from one of his more talkative tech head friends they were extremely complicated mathematically and hand all kinda variables for what they did.


He didnt let it trouble him however and simply rolled his bike and himself through and into the hanger.


"It's nice, quiet and secluded, I'd be lying if I said I didn't occasionally look for somewhere like this to just...exist you know? Nevada desert at night,  Artic circle, top of everrest and the upper stratosphere,  even went to deep space by accident once, caught a photon instead of a oxygen atom and shot myself through that wormhole the praetorians are sat on." He recounted his trip to the planet of the tiny equine beings quite fondly even if he had spent most of it fighting a killer robot.


"You looking to find some peace among the stars?"

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"Something like that," he said as the lights came up.  The first thing Facsimile noticed was the large aircraft in the middle of the hangar, of a make similar to the Freedom League's own spaceplanes.  This one was black with gold trim and numerous red lights all over, and the rear cargo door/ramp was open, though from the doorway he could not see inside it.  Strewn about were numerous boxes, crates, and containers, as well as a few tool cabinets.  "Though this area isn't that quiet or secluded," he said, just as a low roar rumbled overhead, like distant thunder, "since this is part of the Jameson Airport.  I did put in some sound dampeners here, though, so it's quieter than it would otherwise be."


"I have had a few truly secluded homes, though," he continued as he walked behind one crate, opened it, and began pulling out some clothes.  "ArcheTech had a space station, in orbit over South America, and I spent a lot of time up there looking out, my view unobstructed by clouds or atmosphere."  Though the crate's opened lid obscured almost all but his head and shoulders, Facsimile could tell he was changing outfits.  "Then there was my submarine, which explored the depths of many oceans.  And my castle, though that was also the European headquarters for ArcheTech, so that place was always busy.  Oh, and of course the asteroid," he added with something between a grin and a grimace, "but they're all gone now."


He lowered the lid and stepped out from behind the crate, shifting his holodisguise as he did, and was now looking more like himself.  Navy blue pants and purple shirt under a white labcoat, blonde hair, and a youthful face.  "Having somewhere to get away to, a place you can call your own, is important, yes.  But it's also important not to cut yourself off from friends and loved ones.  Trust me on this.  So, what would you like to do first?"

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"It's why I go out on patrols, keep in touch with whats going on." He explained as he set his motorcycle up out of the way.


He neglected to mention the rift his powers had caused between himself and his brother, but that was really more of a personal issue he had.


"Sweet space plane...deluxe edition skin on it too!" He joked as he removed his leather jacket and draped it over the bike along with his gloves.


"Suppose that depends on you dok, what do ya need to know?" He asked as he loosed himself up by hoping from one foot to another and shaking out his limbs and joints in a slight warm up.


"You need help with anything?"

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"Oh, no, no," he waved one hand, "I've got everything quite under control.  I've got robots to help with the heavy lifting.  And the medium lifting.  And the light lifting," he added, grinning.  "Though I do appreciate the offer.  As for the paint job," he gestured towards the aircraft as he walked towards another crate, "well, I am still something of a patriot," he smiled, "and I think the black, red, and gold make a good color scheme.  Especially if I get into a situation where I'll need to rely on stealth."


"As for you," he leaned slightly forward on the crate, "I have a few ideas for some tests already.  Can you juggle?  If so, we could see how quickly you can shift by juggling spheres of various materials and mimicking each one as it contacts your palms.  Or, we could see if you can change into multiple distinct materials, like having your legs mimic one substance while your arms mimic another."

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 "Sure I can juggle a little but I'm not exactly a performance artist." He said with a rub of his neck.


"How hard should I be trying? I've never really tried to do either of those things before." He asked as he examined his surroundings for something to experiment with, eyes at last settling on the space plane and walking under it and kicking off his shoes and pulling off his socks to stand with his hands against the hull and his feet on the concrete of the floor.


"Here goes nothing!" And with that his hands and feet began to glow with steadily advancing towards his core and beginning to compete over the core in a mashup of overriding lines and metallic creaks and concrete grinding as they attempted to harmonise.

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"Ooh, yes, just like that!" he exclaimed as he withdrew a small handheld device from the crate.  Facsimile guessed it was a scanner of some sort, judging by the way Archeville waved it over him, and it fleshed and beeped.  "I have a few hypotheses, and if your abilities work in the way I think they do, and I can get some thorough readings, then this might lead to some revolutions in materials science!  New ways to make alloys!  Self-repairing materials!"  He continued muttering as he ran scans on the young hero, both with the scanner and his own internal processes.


Facsimile started feeling a bit nauseated as the two substance surged back and forth across his abdomen.  It was tolerable for now, but if he kept this up, he might be sick... and he wasn't entirely certain what would be coming out of him.

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"Uuurgh I think I might blow chunks..chunks of what I couldn't tell you mind." He huffed as his confused powers continued to rage, spinning his atoms and churning his internal organs into a slurry of mechanical parts, oil and cement. "Maybe metal cinder blocks or..." His sentence was interupted by a loud gurgling from his stomach "concrete engine blocks.."


The thought alone pushed him over the edge and he promptly emptied whatever his stomach might've been onto the floor, a mix of iridescent oil and pulpy gray cement mix as he staggered away and returned to flesh.


"Still alive...." He bragged in exhausted nausea "glad I didn't split down the middle and fall into halves." He added as he wiped his mouth "gotta look on the bright side."

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"Oh!"  In a flash Archeville was next to Facsimile, with a fizzy drink in hand.  "Are you alright?  I am so sorry -- had suspected something like that might happen, but calculated the odds were very low.  Here, here, drink this, it's ginger ale, it should help settle your stomach."


I have got to be better at communicating!


Facsimile was already feeling better, and the drink did help.  After several more minutes of Archeville checking over him, asking how he felt, profusely apologizing for not telling him of possible side effects of these tests, and running scans to make sure there were no lingering aftereffects, the Doktor gave him a clean bill of health.  "Okay, so... good to go?"

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"Yeah...yeah!" Facsimile said as he huffed a little to refill his lungs with air as he shook the dregs of the nausea off and got back onto his feet.


"Good to know in case it ever comes up; sorry about your floor." He was quite certain that the cement portion of what he had expelled by now would've hardened.


"Least I didn't explode I guess."


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"Exploding would be bad, yes," he agreed, coughing a bit to mask his nervous laugh.  "Has, uh, has that happened to you before?  You said you've mimicked energy, I'd imagine that was somewhat explosive, but have you ever mimicked an explosive substance and then detonated?"


As they talked, a glint of metal and some movement caught Facsimile's eye.  It was some sort of green metallic beetle -- no, a beetle-shaped robot -- about the size of a fat housecat.  It scurried up to the mess Facsimile had made, then the wingcase opened and several smaller beetle-bots emerged.  They began to scoop and vacuum up the mess, wipe the area down, and spray assorted disinfectants.  In mere moments, the area looked clean as ever, and the baby bugs went back into mombot, who then trundled off back into one of the crates that dotted the hangar.


"So, are you up for another experiment?," Archeville asked, paying no mind to the robots.  "I'm interested to see if your transformations are limited to surface contact, or if you could mimic something inside you.  That is, something that you've swallowed... like the ginger ale I just gave you.  Though, in the interests of full disclosure, I'll warn you that there's a slight chance you'd instead mimic your own stomach acids, though that chance is small.  Still, best to do so on the concrete, away from any metal," he gestured vaguely towards his spaceplane.  "So, does that sound like something you'd be willing to try?"

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"Yeah I once turned into an explosive gas and detonated...also been water and had a car battery react with me." He recounted "hurt like heck and the first one forced me out of my form...prolly cause I was made up of reacted and unreacted materials. " He reasoned as he watched the robots work at the stain he'd made before shuffling themselves back away "with the water it was the battery juice that reacted and fell out of me."


"Uhh ..sure! Do I even have an internal sense of touch though?" As he walked out from under the space plane and towards a more barren area of the hanger.


"I've turned into things I've had in my mouth before, and tried to turn into air in my lungs but I dunno if it was from that air or just the air around me." He explained as he rested his hands against his abdomen and tried to focus on sifting out the peppery ginger ale from the caustic acid flavour still in his throat.


It was difficult to pick out but ultimately he managed to sort it and with a bit of effort his flesh and blood once again vanished in a wave of white light and heat to be replaced with carbonated ginger ale, his black hair now a bubbling mass of white froth atop a body of swirling pale brown fluid.



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"Fascinating!," the Doktor gasped, running his scanners all about Facsimile.  "I had guessed you would be able to do that, since the cells of our outer skin and those along the inside of our gastro-intestinal system share some similarities.  In a way," he chuckled, "we're just tubes with dangly bits here and there, so there's some reason to expect that if you could mimic substances that you've touched with your bare skin, you could also mimic substances in your mouth, or stomach, or..."  He stopped and cleared his throat, "well, you get the idea.  Veins and muscle tissues, though," he continued, "they're slightly different, so I'm not sure if you could mimic something that had been injected into you, like from a syringe, or a dart gun.  Then again, I suppose you could just mimic the steel from the needle, if it came down to it.  Oh, that's another test we could do," he exclaimed, "how fast you can change!"


He removed a long thin probe from one of his scanners and held it close to Facsimile's effervescent 'skin', "may I, ah... well... probe around inside you a bit?  To see how your ginger ale-y self compares to the stuff from the bottle."  He kept his arm perfectly still, waiting to see if the young man consented.

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"Oh uh go nuts!" His liquidised vocal cords turning his voice to something of gurgling warble undertoned with a slight hiss of carbonated fizzing as he extended his arm towards the probe.


"Kinda curious myself, I managed to get the drop on some folks as air and water....though not sure if it was just vusually blending in" He proposed as he waited on the results "I should try turning into argon some time, being unreactive seems like it'd be useful."

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"Oh, very useful indeed," he nodded in agreement as he gently swirled his probe inside Facsimile's arm, "a fine way to stop several types of chemical reactions, perhaps even counter some supervillain powers.  So," he continued as he slowly moved the probe up Facsimile's arm, across his chest, and down his other arm, "you've been studying chemistry, to help get a -- oh, that's interesting -- ah, to help get a handle on your abilities?  At that superhero school you'd mentioned?"  He withdrew the probe, and replaced it in its holster on the handheld unit, "knowledge is power, so I should hope they're giving you a solid basic education!"

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"Oh yeah...really its like a regular school but they're prepared incase something goes awry and have a simulation thingy so you can learn how to control when you shoot lasers out of your ears." He explained.


"I'm hoping to become a construction worker in my day job too! Learning physics,  maths, engineering and chemistry gonna help with that as well as being the amazing facsimile! Or captain copycat as my friend wants me to rebrand myself as." He laughed heartily.


"Ah the bestdays of my life my time at claremont."


The fact that the Dok didn't call the school by name caught his attention after he himself had just perhaps it was a professional precaution against outsiders who didn't know that you didn't speak it's actual name aloud among those in the know.


Or maybe the man didn't know....he'd been mentally messed with himself when he'd lost control of his powers and endangered existance, though small mercies it had only been a day stripped from his mind.


He didnt think the dok was a bad guy...maybe if this information gave him even a little bit of what he'd lost back it wouldn't be a terrible thing.


The thought of potentially loosing more of his life than that single solitary  was a terrifying thought that kept him up at night for a few weeks afterwards.


"So you think if they bottled me they could say I was organic?" He asked as his ginger ale form began to bubble and fizz from the probes agitating the carbon inside him.


"Though considering I'm an animal I wouldn't be vegetarian friendly ginger ale huh; and wouldn't that technically count as cannibalism if another human  drank me?"

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Claremont, eh?  I thought that was just a standard private school.  Interesting.  So they- no, no, no, I am not going to pursue that.


"Construction!," he exclaimed, "a fine career!  So often the focus is on how destructive a metahuman can be, I'm quite glad to see some attention paid to flip side.  Did you have any particular specialization in mind?  Commercial, industrial, residential?  Oh, have you had a chance to meet with Doc Metropolis?"


As they talked, Archeville retrieved the half-emptied bottle of ginger ale and a fresh glass, poured some of the contents of the former into the latter, then ran his scanner over and through the fizzing liquid.  It will take some time to run the full scans and comparisons.  Eager to see if the results match any of my hypotheses.


"Eh, I suppose it could be considered organic -- labels like that can be vague to the point of uselessness," he replied with a shrug.  "As for cannibalism... well, I think that might depend in part on how much of 'you' is still in beverage-you.  And maybe on where the lines is on cannibalism: drinking blood falls under that, sure, but what about sweat or tears, or fingernails or hair?"

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"I guess it'd be necrophagey if it's dead cells." He reasoned as he returned to his humanoid form and sat himself down on a nearby crate with a hum.


"Technicalities; I've done some stuff for ASTRO labs fairly recently...made low income housing when I was volunteering so I guess industrial and residential in equal parts. " He reasoned as he examined his smartphones screen.  Briefly thumbing through his feeds.


"Quiet night." He commented "it's nice."

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"Low-income housing?," he repeated, perking up, "splendid, splendid!  I see you've already found many ways to help the community!  Very commendable!"


Yes, this city definitely seems to be in good hands with this fellow.


He set the scanner aside to let it do its thing, and leaned against a crate opposite his guest.  "So, I noticed your outfit changes with you.  Are your biker leathers made of some special material?  From that super-school you'd attended?"  He stroked his chin, "or is that also an aspect of your power, to change what you wear?"

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"Oh well I do my best." He said a little bashfully as he sat on the crate putting away his smart phone now he was satisfied that he wasn't shirking anything dire.


"Oh the blue and yellow jumpsuit thing? I still have it but I've not worn it in ages...stuff just transforms with me...kinda lucky it does, wardrobe malfunctions would not be cool. "

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Archeville did a double take, "wait, so those aren't morphic molecules you're wearing?  You can change what you're wearing, to match your own composition?  I - wow!"  He was truly surprised -- in a positive manner -- and that was a rare thing.  "It's almost unheard of to see someone who can perform such extensive changes to themselves and to their surroundings.  Is it automatic?  Did your clothes change with you that first time, or did you have to learn that, with practice and experimentation?  Can you change without changing your clothes?"  He became more animated, energetic, as the questions rolled out.  "Can you change your clothes without changing yourself?  Can you change someone else's clothes?  Something held in your hand, like a length of rebar, or... or... can..."


Slow down, Viktor, slow down.


He stopped abruptly, and massaged his temples.  "Sorry, sorry.  This is all a lot to take in!  And I do not want to be off-putting."  He took a calming breath, "okay, so, one thing at a time.  If you're holding something when you change, like a club or chain or whatever, does it change with you?"

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It was a lot of questions at once to be sure, he was fast and he liked to think himself cunning and witty but he was hardly a genius. 


Needless to say he enjoyed the enthusiasm and the following reprive.


"I've not even tried a lot of that stuff, didn't know I could turn Into energy for like a month after I came online....really just figured out how to conciously activate em and leapt head first into the whole song and dance." He explained as he wracked his mind for any relevent experiences.


"I've been able to leave my clothes out when I transform, I left a parka untransformed so I didn't bludgeon someone I was carrying on my steel self." He relayed as he rubbed his chin.


"Small items change with me when I transform, stuff that I can cover completely I'm my fingers...but I can turn stuff into what I'm made of from a transformed state." He added. 


"Once turned into chocolate and turned a wall into the stuff to smash through it."

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"You turned a wall into..." he repeated, trailing off as he pondered the implications.  "Hrm -- when you mimic some substance, and turn a wall into that same substance, can you merge with it, passing through without breaking it?  That could be something to experiment with," he nodded, "add a bit of stealth to your repertoire.  The baddies might expect you to batter down a barrier, but if you can pass seamlessly and silently through..."  He trailed off again, this time letting Facsimile work out the rest.


He pushed himself off the crate he'd been leaning on, "I would like to examine your ability to change other items -- see how far it can go, if there are more limits on that than on your own changes, if you can change part of an object of if it's an 'all-or-nothing' deal, stuff like that.  I think," he walked over to another crate, opened it and rummaged around, "yes, I think these would be just the thing."


He returned to the young hero and held out several lengths of chain, the kind used in jewelry.  They were of a variety of metals and sizes, from fine anklet chains to large ones used for heavy ostentatious necklaces.  He handed over a mid-sized steel gold chain, just a bit too big to fit completely in his fist.  "See if you can change this, or part of this, when you mimic the concrete floor."

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"Never tried honestly." Facsimile admitted "though to be honest I don't exactly go about things the smart way I guess." He added a little embarrassed to say it aloud but all the same eager to share his reasoning with the more experienced Doktor Archeville.



"Way I see it is, heroes are supposed to bring hope and break villains wills to fight yeah? Turning into carbon monoxide and suffocating folks out cold just makes them paranoid and desperate and even more dangerous." He explained as he tried to find the words In his brain to properly convey what he meant.


"But if I turn into brick or whatever and beat my chest a little they just like seem to focus on smashing through me to escape cus I am confrontable and defeatable  so they try...I just have to not suck and everything works out for the best kinda."


It wasn't an easy concept for him to explain and to be honest he just felt bad about suffocating people into submission.


Turning his attention to the chains he pondered the experiment a little, problem solving was a simple pleasure especially when it wasn't "how do I defuse this bomb?" Or "how.can I save everyone from this fire." So he put his mind to work on why chains.


"Ahh I see! We're checking to see if the limit is area or mass right? Cus a chain is a smaller amount of mass drawn out into a bigger area, right?" 


And with that he reached to the floor with his free hand twisting his head to keep a lock on the other lined with the chains of various thickness and transformed.

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  • 4 weeks later...

He chuckled softly, "no need to apologize for that, many metahumans seem to only scratch the surface of what their abilities are capable of.  That was one of my goals with ArcheTech... but I see the AEON Foundation's picked up that avenue of research quite handily.  Good on them."  Facs noted a slight downward shift in Archeville's tone when he mentioned his company, but it swung back up by the time he'd finished his sentence.


He nodded, "I believe I get what you're saying.  Some powers seem more heroic, more noble, while others are viewed with skepticism, fear.  Being very strong, very tough, able to fly, those are all fine and good, and easily seen.  But something like, say, mind control, or radiation generation, or some forms of shapeshifting, those are feared.  Maybe part of it is due to fear of all the villains who have used such powers..."


Myself included


"... or a more general anti-intellectualism, favoring feats of physical prowess over mental acumen."  He shrugged, "maybe those views will only change if people with those 'scary' abilities work at changing society's perceptions of them."


He smiled, "very astute, young man!  Though that's only part of it -- each link is a distinct item itself, so let us see how many 'steps' your transformations can go.  Which means at one point I'd like you to do that but holding only one link, and letting the rest dangle free, not in contact with you or the floor."

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