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Avenger Assembled

Love's Illusions I Recall (IC)

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Fall 2019 

 

The message came in from an alien on a distant planet in the depths of space - but then most of them did when you were in the Scout Service. 

 

Can i ask you something personal? 

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Fa'Rua looked down at the blinking notification on the dash as she settled the Hopper into a high orbit over the next world in another mostly empty system.  She did a final check of the orbital dynamics and transferred the message to her console in the bunks, "You're up first little bro."  she shouted with a laugh as she ran down the causeway to the residential area.

 

She quickly shucked her flight suit and dropped gracefully onto the bed to thumb open the message with a smile she'd have been embarrassed if her brother had caught it.

 

For you?  I'm an open book.  She flirted playfully.

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When did you first realize you liked girls? 

 

Laying in bed while Judy took a rare power-draining nap on the bed next to her, Ashley was glowing brightly and wide-awake. Did I come on too strong? Crap I bet I came on too strong. Well there was no going back now. 

 

Sorry if that's heavy. Just curious. 

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Looking down at the message Fa'Rua paused to consider a reply for a moment, until the note of uncertainty implied in the second response.

 

 No not at all.  She fired off immediately.

 

Well point of order I like women not girls  she answered to try and keep things a bit lighter

 

I'd like to say I met and talked to someone that opened my eyes to a whole new world, the whole torrid romance thing  

But there wasn't really a moment honestly, like there was a moment I admitted it, but that was long after I realized it really

 

She considered her next words carefully for a long moment

 

I think when you're in the boys club it's easy to say that's why you're not dating them

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Sorry, just slang! she typed with a smiley face when her cute space friend checked her grammar. Probably can't be too careful with ten thousand different languages up there. 

 

Believe me, boys or girls are the last thing on my mind right now. Working around kids sucks. 

 

She considered for a moment, then added: I like being around men, and I thought that was it for me for a long time. But I think there's more to me than that. 

 

She smiled, and then went on. So if I ever sound weird about anything when we're talking, that's why. I wanted to get that out of the way before I talk about how I've been thinking about taking you on my motorcycle all week. There are places around here where you can be alone on the road and drive as fast as you want.

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Well I hope not the LAST thing ;)

 

She read on and smiled slightly, Full Disclosure I'm a bit of a generalist myself  the Lor admitted openly.

 

And if I wasn't down for a little bit of weird I'd not be chatting up a Terran, your people have a bit of a reputation out here.  She teased playfully 

 

She blushed slightly at the admission from the earthling charmed and flattered both.

 

Well you sure know how to sweet talk a girl.  she replied and inquired curiously, Where would you want to take me?

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There's being alone where you're by yourself, and there's being alone where it's just you and the person you want to be with. Put you on the bike behind me, get somewhere out in the country where nobody's staring at us. Bring beer, bring a picnic. Get you out of those stuffy spaceships and me out of this damn city for a little while. She posted a grin, and added, Everything you've heard about people from Earth is true. Hope that doesn't scare you off! She paused in her typing for a minute, then typed Where would you take me on she blinked, bit her lip, and corrected before sending if you were taking me somewhere? 

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I have officially been on tour too long when the idea of breathing air that isn't recycled sounds like a luxury vacation.

Of course the company sweetens the deal.  That sounds really nice honestly.  She admitted after a moment almost surprised at the feeling.

 

Oh put me on the spot now huh?  She teased playfully.

 

COVIC Station  she finally replied, It's like a huge city inside; bars, restaurants, shows from around the galaxy.  There are probably more cosmopolitan places, but it really shows what people can do together.

Plus it's one of hte only places where a Terran can travel without becoming the center of a crowd of curious citizens asking them if they can shoot lightning from their eyes and punch through a battleship.  Fa'Rua got hte impression Ashley wasn't exactly the type to thrive under that kind of microscope.

 

There's a club on one end of the promenade, music's loud and drinks are strong, the kind of date that forces a person to forget about everything but the moment.

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That would be awesome. I've heard of COVIC but you don't get to go there unless you know people. Most of whom know me but don't like me very much. She smiled and added I'll go incognito - I won't dress like a superhero. Maybe I can borrow something of yours so I can fit in...? She added a wink, wondering if she was coming on too strong. It's just harmless Internet flirting. It doesn't mean anything. 

 

She considered a minute, then added, If I could shoot lightning out of my eyes, would that be a + or a -? 😉

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Well now you apparently know people ;) The Lor replied ignoring that technically she wasn't supposed to teleport to the surface and date-nap cute earthlings.

 

Hmmm I'm sure I can get something for you to fit in  she dangled the double entendre flirtily in her reply.

 

Lightning I could work with.  Though I'm betting you're eyes look better without it, not that I'd know.  she hinted playfully as she still had neither a face nor real name for 'her' terran

 

She also quickly snapped and sent a new picture titled 'Gun Show' of her kneeling on her bunk in the classic strongman pose made perhaps more racy by being in a tanktop and underwear, though more coverage than most earth swimsuits.

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 Nice! 

 

That was an understatement. Ashley looked at the woman in the picture and imagined what it would be like to - okay, get ahold of yourself here! She was a little hard-up for dates, but that didn't mean she had to moon over every flirty picture she got. 

 

She took a few deep breaths and typed: 

 

OK. I do have powers. If I touch someone, I can copy their powers. Not their thoughts, not who they are - just their powers. 

 

That had, at times, been a sore subject. Okay, if she freaks out about that, it's better now than then. 

 

So the picture I'm about to send isn't what I usually look likeShe glowed with an inner fire that made it hard to make out any actual details of her face beyond outlines; a brilliant gold energy around the hair, eyes, and mouth, skin cast a shade of deep, iridescent red, hair spread around her on the bed she was laying on like a divine halo. 

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Wow that's, intense?  Must have been scary the first time.

 

Fa'Rua wasn't bothered exactly though she had concerns

 

So you know instinctively how to use their powers then, don't they usually take training?  The Lor paused to explain.

 

The Lor we have Mentats, sometimes induced but it happens naturally too, they need a lot of training to use their powers safely.  She certainly had, her brother even moreso.  I can, fold space, I guess is the way to explain it, move without crossing the space between, it took a lot of work to not risk ending up spaced or worse.

 

She smiled at the picture sent in return,  I don't know if it's your job or if you're just nervous, but you're very pretty so if it's the latter you shouldn't be.

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Ashley bit her lip and closed her eyes, thinking about Fa'Rua's words for a moment, then wrote back: You're sweet. 😘 You sent me two great pictures and I look like I glow in the dark. She thought for a minute, then wrote back: It used to scare me a lot, but I've had the knack since I was fifteen. The important thing was making sure it only happened when I wanted it. Images of her teen years popped into her head for a moment before she wrote back, I have enough control I won't set myself on fire with a pyrokinesis or something, but it can still suck. Once I copied a guy with an iron body and I got stuck to a f*cking magnet for an hour till it wore off. 

 

Shaking off that memory, she added, Teleporter, huh? That sounds scary and awesome in your line of work. Can you do it from orbit to a planet, or do you need to match velocities? 

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Well at least you're easy to find with the lights out.  The Lor read the descriptions of possible foibles of the whole power leech thing and laughed a bit at the image of being suddenly magnetic.

 

I never really considered the downside of the whole hardbody thing :D, well at least I know you won't be accidentally porting out of my arms ;)

 

Fa'Rua sighed slightly at the later question, 

Nothing so exciting, I can manage around 120 meters with Line Of Sight on my own

The Hopper's kitted out to boost me though so I can get interstellar ranges when strapped in with good navigation data.  Still usually have to aim out of system to make sure I don't land us too close to a gravity well.

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Ashley felt a stab of envy for the woman being able to work in a society that let her openly serve like everyone else while having abilities nobody else had. Sounds like the powers might be a sore spot. 

 

That's still pretty great. So tell me about the Hopper - how big is it? I bet the Scout Service doesn't get the big battleships. She considered a moment, then said, Do they ever let you stop by and pick up lonely Earthwomen? 

 

 

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It's a frigate classification which doesn't really mean much other than that it operates outside the main order of battle

 

The Lor paused as she realized she was perhaps going too in depth into her baby,

 

It's about the size of one of your Jetliners?  She replied after doing a quick bit of checking on the displacement.

 

Unarmed and I've done some custom work on the engines to integrate the space fold drive among other things

 

Even over text there was some clear pride in the vessel.

 

Scouts are given pretty broad latitude and ship is custom enough to me at this point to be almost useless for anyone without my powers.

Which is to say they couldn't really stop me ;) 

Earth is under contact orders, all contact is to be through the lighthouse station?  But those are pretty flimsy in my experience.

Tougher part is probably finding A. Nony Mouse, in a metropolis :P 

 

There was longer pause as the Lor tried to work out the phrasing checking the translator output with her nascent english and trying to parse the concepts

 

Your profile said chat only, I respect that, but if you change your mind, the demerit would be worth it.

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Ashley's eyes widened - and if she hadn't been in the presence of someone who needed significant application of superpowers to go back to sleep, she might have shouted rather than hissed the words that subsequently escaped her lips. I guess the Galaxy's not as big as they make it look in movies! Come to think of it, it had been a long time since she had taken Claremont's elective on Cosmic Cultures, and unfortunately information about the Lor was probably pretty out-of-date at this point. Nice deduction, she taunted herself, what are you actually going to say? 

 

The urge to bail was strong, especially when the dragged-out minutes made the quiet of that blinking reply block look more and more awkward. 

 

But Ashley wasn't one to bail if the situation looked survivable, and maybe this was. 

 

Sorry, I was talking out my ass there. I still have job stuff. 

 

Why don't you send her a picture of weak Earth tea while you're at it? 

 

I'm working with this kid, she finally admitted. Her powers are going out of control, and her family wrote her off. It was easier to admit that particular government secret than lately I've been wondering if I actually like women, or if maybe that's just the lingering effects of working at an LGBT center for a whole summer, or if I'm just really hard up for dates. She already knew Claremont was a lot like being in prison. 

 

If I get distracted with personal stuff, it'll blow back on her. So I've got to stay on text. 

 

She considered a moment, then added, I'll send you my real face when I'm not glowing anymore. I've got about four or five hours till I'm not an active source of about three kinds of EM radiation. 

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I get it, just wanted to put it out there, for when you don't have 'job stuff'  

 

Fa'Rua read the more in depth description and sighed.  Leave it to her to hit up hook up site and fall for a white knight on a protected world.

 

Sounds rough.  She's lucky to have you.  The Lor answered honestly.

 

I'd like that  came back in response to the offered picture.

 

I get you're in security services so probably can't but I'm just saying, you got alot going on and I'm a galaxy away and about as disconnected from Terran anything as one can get, if you need to talk about it.  

 

Otherwise, we can always go back to fantasy dates, You live near the ocean?  I grew up on station, I've surveyed ocean worlds and stuff but still hard to imagine that much water in one place you know?

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Ashley considered typing back the difficulty of having given one's word to keep a secret, and how one lesson she'd learned over her father's grave was that oaths made were oaths kept, even unto one's dying day. But wallowing in what had brought her to this point would hardly give her the escape she wanted. Not for the first time, she wished she and Judy had a room with windows that could be opened outside of an emergency. Hell yeah. I'm less than ten minutes from the ocean here, assuming no traffic, and the beaches are great. Pretty crowded, but if you go at the start of the day or the end, you can really have fun. Spread out a blanket, get a fire going, pretend you're the only people in the world. 

 

She hmmed for a minute, then added, If I was going to take you for a date by the beach, I'd take you to this nice beachside place that serves real fried fish with lemongrass like my bà used to make, then out on the sand. Her lips curled in a smile as she wrote I'd get to wear a two-piece suit for once! I haven't done that in over a year. I have a tankini with blue and gold colors, maybe we'll get you a matching one. Do you know how to swim in an actual ocean?

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Fa'Rua hadn't expected her to open up even as much as she had, so wasn't surprised nor displeased she'd taken the simpler route.  And quite pleased her suggestion had triggered such enthusiasm.

 

That sounds incredible, and very relaxing, even with crowds honestly. Fa'Rua spent enough time solo or duoing deep space surveys the idea of crowds was almost nice at that point.

 

I mean, I grew up on station, even bathing and cooking was usually limited water use, but we did survival training in the academy.  I'm sure I could figure it out.  She had confidence at least, misplaced confidence but confidence none the less.

You could show me how you seem like you know all about it.  

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We'll keep it simple - nothing too deep. There's one beach around here where you can actually bellysurf if the weather's right, you'd love that. She smiled, then added We can always just work on our tans on the beach afterwards. She thought about the woman she'd seen in the pictures on the beach with her, and for a vivid moment could practically smell the sunscreen and the sweat. After that, beach-side shopping. They try and squeeze you if you're from out-of-town, but I know a few places. I'll introduce you to salt-water taffy, and cheeseburgers. Salt-water taffy required a little explanation, she figured, and so did cheeseburgers for that matter, so she sent along images and links as she did it. 

 

You'd like shopping here; there's usually a crowd, but it's busy enough nobody's staring at you. She also wouldn't have to spend the whole time with her eyes in the back of her head to see if someone was trying to shoot her companion, which sounded pretty damn nice to her. After that, dinner  and a show; maybe with a local band. I'll introduce you to the local alcoholic drinks...

 

And then? A voice in her head asked her. Well, she reminded herself, this is  just flirtation in text. it doesn't really mean anything. 

 

After _that_...? 😉

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Surf, sun, and,  companionship?  Sounds perfect.

 

Fa'Rua looked over the linked articles and the translation matrix info on the items in question in some amazement.  Such largess for one raised on mostly packaged rations seemed somewhat inconceivable.   She had been about ot demure when she saw how commonplace such fare was on earth.

 

Pretty sure you're doing it wrong if you're not getting at least a few stares  

 

After that?  the Lor teased, Well after that I think I'd have to find a way show my appreciation

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Oh would you now? 

 

Ashley bit her lip and considered her next words carefully. Good thing I leave this phone in the room when I'm not here. 

 

Are you sure there aren't any regulations about that, spacewoman? I'd hate for you to get into trouble on my account... 

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Oh I absolutely would 

The Scout Corps Charter dictates we are to seek out new worlds and establish friendly contact with alien civilizations  

 

Of course technically the intent was unknown alien civilizations.  

 

I would be duty bound to show full reciprocity for being educated in the ways of your people.

 

The Lor smiled down at her screen biting her lip as she considered her next words carefully

 

That I would happen to thoroughly enjoy exploring every inch of newfound territory just makes me a very lucky woman that has made good choices.  

 

She was playing it slow, keeping it coy and playful, but they were certainly heading somewhere the longer this line of conversation continued.

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Ashley shifted in her bed, considering her options, then had two thoughts one after the other. 

 

Geez, I can't do this with Judy right there in the next bed. 

 

and 

 

Wait, is that the only reason? 

 

She considered a moment, then dug around in her photos before coming up with what was (as it happened) the only image she had kept on her personal phone from costume tests for Watchdog. This is great, but I don't quite have the privacy I want for this. 😘 Here's something I owe you, though..

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