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Eira looked at Pan and made a noise like an bubbling teakettle. "Pfft!" She looked at him, looked away, then looked back, smiling with a shy look on her face. "You like me!" She said it the way she might describe the discovery of some hard-to-believe-but-thoroughly-welcomed scientific secret. Her body was very warm, much warmer than the fifteen-degree (in the local measurement) evening chill. "Good. Stay here with me for a while," she said, "and I will distract you.

 

Inside the house, shortly after her teleport to the second story, Mia encountered Eira's mother. "Oh, ah, hello, Mia," she said distractedly, shooting a glance over the girl's shoulder at the room whose door Lulu had recently vacated. "Are you...having a good time?" 

 

Eira's father proved to be an equally good host downstairs. He was in the billiards room, pouring himself a glass of wine, when Micah and the others started drifting in. "Ah, hello," he said, a little distracted himself, "may I pour you a glass, or would you prefer soft drinks?" he asked with a nod towards the refrigerator. "You're in a civilized country now." 

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Soliton

Mia looked up at Eira's mother, smiling awkwardly. "Oh, uh, hey Mrs. Natt och Dag. I'm alright, just taking a break from talking to everyone," she said. "Sorta get overwhelmed when there's too many people for too long. Uh..."

 

Mia rubbed the back of her neck. She knew that Eira was pretty shaky with her parents, but Mia didn't know that it was her place to really say anything. Her mom definitely would have said something, but her mom was also used to being thrown out of places. Still, she felt like she had to say something. Just not something provocative.  Just... had... to be... careful.

 

"I'm... I didn't get along with Eira, at first," Mia says. "But I'm glad she's my friend. You raised a really good person."

 

Oh God, was that too much? THAT WAS TOO MUCH! NO! AAAAAAAAA!

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Pan put his arms around Eira and raised an eyebrow. "Really? That is the surprise?" 

 

He felt cool to her touch in the chill evening air, but it did not seem to bother him. He leaned closer, stealing a brief kiss. 

 

"Or maybe I will be the one distracting you."

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-Oh boy and now I'm alone in the billiards room with Eira's dad I'm sure nothing could go wrong here.-

 

Micah did not exactly come across as a man begging for help but he did not sound too far off from one, either. Outwardly he just gave the family patriarch a friendly smile.

 

"Well, I'll go with the soda, Mr. Natt och Dag. It may be legal here in Sweden, but my mother would not be very happy if I started drinking before I'm even eighteen, let alone twenty-one!"

 

He moved to refrigerator, and quickly chose one of the local root beer brands. He carefully twisted the cap off and took a sip.

 

"That's pretty good!"

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- Yeah, I'd stay out of that minefield if I were you. - Lulu's mental chuckle sounded a bit like gurgling water. - And don't worry, I'm almost there! -

 

"Ah'll have a Carlsberg Elephant, sir, if you have it in stock," the telepath confidently declared as she entered the billiard room. She gave Micah a playfully defiantly look. "Look, ah turned eighteen in February. Plus, ah been drinkin' since ah was thirteen; we do things different down in the swamp!"  She took the cold beer with an appreciate nod. "Thank you, sir." The top flipped off on its own, arced through the air over her head, and dropped into her open left hand. She reflexively tucked it into her back pocket as she assessed the billiard table. "So are we playin' or what," she asked as she took took a swing without wincing.

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Eira's mother gave Mia a smile that (of people Mia associated with Claremont) actually belonged more on Judy Cahill's face than her daughter's - the sort of slightly-pained beauty queen smile that could be hiding almost anything. "Thank you. I am very glad that Eira has friends her own age at Claremont." She reached out and touched Mia's arm lightly, then said, "She is a very smart girl, and I am very proud of her. I am sure your mother must be proud of you," she said as the two of them walked down the hall towards the billiards room, "Eira said you are the first superhero in your family. That must be a very great responsibility." 

 

The drinks were cold and the company only a little awkward. It helped that Bernhard was an excellent pool player, even with the faint buzz of alcohol in the room, Bernhard and Magda talked with the kids about their lives and Claremont without probing too deeply into their personal lives, occasionally slipping questions about how Eira was doing into the evening. 

 

It was close to midnight by the time Eira and Pan returned from outside, the former looking pleased with herself as she wiped smeared glow-in-the-dark lipstick off her face as she walked past the billiards room door. "Well good night, everyone!" she declared cheerfully, standing in the doorframe with a distinct smirk on her face. "I am going to go plug in."  Her parents wished her goodnight without quite making eye contact, and started to bid good night to the kids too. 

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The latter appeared every bit as pleased as the former, though any trace of glow-in-the-dark lipstick that might have found its way to Pan were already gone by the time they walked past the billiards room. He waved after Eira as she walked past, before continuing into the room with the others.

 

"So this is where we will be sleeping, yes?" he asked, directed at Micah or Eira's parents. He did not seem to acknowledge how long he had been gone with Eira, or what they had been doing. He quickly moved towards the billiards table, feet leaving the floor and leaving a golden glitter trail behind him. "Now what is this?"

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With Eira and Pan's return, Bernhard and Magna exchanged a look - then gave the other students their apologies. "It is getting late for us old-timers," said Bernhard with a faint smile. "Please clean any messes when they are made," he said, "and do not be too loud." With that, they left the kids to figure out how they were going to spend any remaining hours of the evening - and where exactly they were all going to bunk down. 

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It was an uneasy night, both for the ongoing tension in the house and the jet-lag that many of the teens were experiencing. They were awoken the next morning not by smells of the piping-hot breakfast Magna had promised them but by the sounds of a loud three-way argument from the upstairs, three voices raised in a mix of angry Swedish and English. It didn't take the teens long to track down the source of the voices, even over the sound of the rainstorm outside that had returned with the new day in fierce light. The door to the room Eira had shown Lulu was wide-open; and a cold, damp breeze was coming in off the sound of voices raised in anger. 

 

"<-would never even have happened if you had gotten rid of it when I told you to!>" Eira was shaking her finger at her father, pale cheeks flush. For those who hadn't seen this room before, it was in better circumstances an old-fashioned sitting room with elaborate 18th century furniture including cushions and a big, heavy-looking wooden table. The walls of the room were covered in pictures of Eira's parents and a little girl just recognizable as Eira herself. There was a hole in the wall that probably wasn't supposed to be there, though, and a chill, wet wind blowing in from outside; luckily the angle was such that the room wasn't actually being flooded. Eira was standing on the far side of the bare table, silhouetted by the hole behind her. 

 

His face flushed, Bernhard said, "<Well, perhaps we could review the exterior security footage, except that my brilliant daughter chose to disable the cameras last night!>" Eira's parents were wearing now-slightly-damp silk pajamas, while as usual Eira hadn't bothered to change out of her outfit from the night before. 

 

"Stop this, the both of you!" declared Magna, looking nearly in tears as thunder rolled and lightning flashed outside. "We have to...we have to call someone..." She looked out the window, her hand over her mouth. "Oh, why would they take it?" 

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Lulu was in her robe, Critical Role t-shirt and a pair of sleepy pants when she discovered the source of the yelling. Padding up to the host family in her bare feet as the rubbed the sleep from her eyes, she look from mother to father to daughter with bleary eyes.

 

"Was goin' on, folks? Somethin' stolen?"

 

And then a sickening thought hit her.

 

Please, don't let it be the urn...

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"Yes, ah," said Eira's father, seeming to take the opportunity to disengage from his daughter before they could shout at each other some more. "There was a break-in during the night and an item was stolen. But it's nothing that should ruin your vacation; we will call the local police at once." 

 

"That is stupid," hissed Eira. "Look at this," she added, pointing to the wall behind them. "That is a circle to the tolerance of millimeters. That was not done by some burglar with a hacksaw. This is a super-crime!

 

"Something, ah, sacred to our family was taken," said Magna, looking like she was holding back tears by sheer force of will. "An eighteenth century urn, and-" 

 

"The remains, the remains, the mortal remains," Eira practically spat. "Call it for what it was. Her!" she added, pointing to the pictures on the walls that surrounded them. 

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"What remains? And who is she?" 

 

Pan had entered the room, feet gliding across the floor with just a little glitter left behind as he entered the room. He had thrown on the same shorts that he had worn yesterday, but wasn't wearing much else. He yawned and stretched, looked around and paused, stopping a few feet away from Eira. Realization dawned on his eyes as he took in the scene.

 

"This was... you?" he asked Eira, hesitating just a tiny bit. He was slowly waking up, slowly figuring out the scene, eyes moving from the pictures, to the hole in the wall, to the spot where something was clearly missing. "What is this room?"

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Micah blundered into the room, his eyes still blinking away sleep. On his wrists and forehead were blinking bands, some kind of technology only Pan had seen before. When he saw the hole in the wall, he blinked, ran a hand over his face, and blinked again. With a sight, he reached down and took off the bands from his wrists, and then reached up to his headband. Discrete switches were flicked, the lights turned off, and he stuffed them in the pockets of the fuzzy robe he wore over full-body flannel pajamas. He was clearly dressed for warmth. 

 

"Hang on."

 

Micah stood a bit straighter as he walked to the hole in the wall, looked out at the sky for a moment, and then turned to the others. With an almost lazy gesture, he held a hand above his head, palm up. Immediately, the sound of wind and rain ceased outside. If someone were to look out the window, they would see a radius reaching over the house and a bit of the lawn around it was still, with neither wind or rain moving. Beyond that radius, the cranky weather continued.

 

"I can hold this for a while while y'all try to clarify what's going on for us dumb Americans, but I would appreciate it if someone got somethin' to patch the wall here soon. This is a lotta storm to hold tight and I'm not a rodeo rider. I can't do this all day."

 

Micah was clearly a cranky sort if he got woken up, and his accent was much thicker than during dinner and the game of billiards afterwards. Likely another symptom of disturbed jet-lagged sleep. 

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"When Eira was uploaded to her first synthetic body," said Bernhard as if he was reciting a carefully memorized script, "an...organic one was left behind. The hospital wasn't sure what to do, so they - followed protocol, and mailed us the ashes." 

 

"We couldn't just - throw her away," said Magna, looking as thoroughly miserable as if the teenagers had spotted her naked - which in a way they had. "So we kept the ashes in here. And since we wanted Eira to grow up without any reminders of being sick, we moved the pictures in here too." 

 

"I only found out about all...this just before they sent me to Claremont," spat Eira, gesturing in disgust at the broader room.  "This is...this should not be in my house." She made brief eye contact with one of her pictures on the wall, then looked away, her voice cracking as she looked at her friends and asked, "Well?

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"Ah don't think...any of us can understand what your parents went through, Eira," Lulu began; there were sympathetic tears in her eyes. "No human experience could...prepare them for what they went through." She gestured towards the pictures filling the room. "If this sick little girl never existed...there would be no you; they didn't make you up out of whole cloth, girl. You weren't born when they had this body constructed; you were reborn when all your experinces and feelins were, I don't know, uploaded into a new vessel." Then she winced, and the tears were flowing freely. "But they still saw your body die, Eira; that little baby bundle they brought home from the hospital, that livin' breathin' thing, was gone. And that's traumatic." She shrugged and shook her head. "Can't you see how that would be hard to process? For any parent?"

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Pan seemed puzzled. Like he could not quite decide what to think about the scene. Too many things happening all at once. Eira was upset. Her parents likewise. Micah trying to mend, Lulu trying to make them all understand. Something was missing, that was for sure. The ashes that had been the child that had been Eira before she became what she was. Before she was saved. 

 

He did not hesitate, he simply raised his right hand up to the ceiling off the room. In an instant, he had a hand full of glowing, golden Pixie Dust. He let it go. 

 

Golden dust flew all over the room, whirling around them, spinning faster and faster, until finally, they all saw and heard something else.

 

The wall was intact, then a glowing shape cut a circle into it, flying through. A man appeared, clad in a dark robe, fire curling around his fingers. He looked around, moving with intent towards the urn, taking it in his arms. Nothing about him seemed like an experienced thief in the way he handled things. He left quickly through the hole, followed by a faint pop shortly after.

 

Pan let the image linger for a moment, before rewinding everything, the man moving back, until he stood in the middle of the room, right after he had taken the urn.

 

"Do anyone know this man?" he simply asked.

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Soliton

 

Mia had been sleeping fairly soundly, for the most part. She had considered teleporting home to sleep and returning in the morning like she often did on trips, but it felt like kind of a waste to do it here, in this big house with all these big, extra beds. Besides, it was nice to relax away from home sometimes.

 

Of course that was now all up in smoke thanks to screams of despair and the sound of people talking. Resisting the urge to just teleport to the noise, Mia instead went the slow way, tromping over in her t-shirt and black pajama pants, rubbing her forehead and grumbling to herself. If she had to hit someone with a beam of white hot butt-whoopin', she would..

 

She wandered into the room, and immediately, she frowned, looking at the photos.

 

"Ohhhh, I've heard about this room," Mia said gravely. She looked around, frowning at everyone. She tried to piece together what was going on. She squinted. She looked at the hole in the wall. Squinted some more.

 

"Huh."

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The generalities of what had happened seemed obvious enough. A mysterious stranger had come to the house, opened a hole in the wall, and taken Eira's ashes. The specifics were a little harder to come by. Despite his black robes, it seemed he had used science rather than magic to transmute a section of the wall into air before entering to take what he wanted, then teleporting away outside with a sizzle of displaced dimensional-shunting energy, the sort of teleportation technology that was typically banned because of its potentially hazardous effects on its users. The man had come with intent in mind, passing up expensive furniture and antique art hanging on the walls before taking the urn and vanishing with it, and had for the moment gotten away with it. There was no great air of lingering wickedness in the room or particularly strong emotion - just a man  who had come to do a crime, done it, and then fled.  

 

For her part, Eira did recognize the thief. "I know who that is," she said, her voice churning with barely suppressed emotion. "That is Urmakare; he is a...Scandanavian science criminal. He was once a rival of my uncle's." She stared, eyes unfocusing, and said, "We can track his signal - and follow him. I am eighteen years old and I have fought frost giants in the depths of Jotunheim - I have been to space ," she added to her parents, who both looked deeply skeptical of this proposition. "I can handle the likes of him." Her hand tightened in Pan's. "I will not be going alone.  "  

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Pan smiled, returning the squeeze to Eira's her hand. "We can handle the likes of him", he corrected with a slightly playful tone. He waved with his free hand, and Urmakare walked back in, like someone was rewinding a movie. "But, let me get dressed first. I do so hate having to face someone old in my underwear." He let go of Eira for a moment, took a step forward and waved a hand above his head, with a slight exaggerated movement. Golden dust fell from his hand, dripping down over him, green, white and red appearing on his body, until he stood in his costume, his green domino mask being the last part of his costume to appear. "Better, no?" he asked his friends with a wink. "What are we waiting for?"

 

"So, a clock maker. What kind of clocks do he make?" He seemed unusually interested in the thought, at least for the moment.

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Eira's father had gone to retrieve some rough plywood to plug over the hole in the wall until they could get someone out to do proper repairs. He'd just gotten the last board up when Eira made her declaration regarding what she was doing next. He rolled his shoulders and wiped a hand over his face, shaking off the stress that holding back the weather had exerted on him.

 

"No, you won't be alone, I reckon."

 

He glanced at Pan. 

 

"Well, I'd like to be wearin' something more suited to runnin' about and around than this."

 

In a blur of air, he was gone, leaving a slight trail of harmless green sparks behind. Less than a minute later, he'd returned, wearing his blue-and-gold Claremont uniform, showing off his lean arms, goggles perched on his head. His expression was serious.

 

"Right. I reckon this fella needs him a lesson in manners. I aim to help teach that lesson. We'll see if he likes a twister in his backyard."

 

Overhead, thunder rumbled. 

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The young telepath shook her head. "Well, some of us still get dressed the ol' fashioned way; just gimme a few minutes." And with that she took to the air, bathrobe flapping as she flew back to her room to splash water on her face and get dressed as fast as she could. A short time later, she retuned, floating along awkwardly as she finished pulling on the left boot of her Claremont uniform. "Alright, ah'm suited up."

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Eira spent the next several hours in her bedroom, occasionally pulling in Soliton to "facilitate the use of her powers for our mutual goal." It was not exactly a comfortable setting in the household that day but they made do, with the servants even providing everyone an awkward, mostly silent lunch. By the time it was late afternoon, Eira was finished with her work - a metal circle built into her bedroom wall that hummed with barely suppressed power. Eira was no longer bothering with her human disguise, her quicksilver metal body polished bright as it reflected the scenery and the humming crackle in the room. "Mia's powers will drive the tracer," she said, "which will direct her teleportation towards our target." For all that they'd spent the first half of the year squabbling, they'd evidently found enough in common to get this done. Eira was all business as she waited for Mia to power the machine, but stuck close to Pan all the same. 

 

 

The trip took them to the inside of an upscale apartment that would have cost several thousand dollars a month to rent in Freedom City; though that did not much resemble Freedom's skyline outside. The teens had been deposited in the living room, and from somewhere in the apartment they could hear running water and a male voice singing lustily "I stay high, all the time, to keep you off my mind, oo-oo..." 

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Pan seemed... perplexed. He was ready to go, as was some of the others, and then, time just sort of seemed to slow down while Eira and Mia worked. He had spent some of the hours with Mia and Eira, watching with some fascination as the portal was created, asking questions every now and again, while happily admitting that most of the scientific answers went over his head. At other times he would be moving around the manor, hanging out with Micah or Lulu, but always making sure to not be alone in the room with either of Eira's parents.

 

With the machine ready, Pan was more than ready too. Practically bouncing next to Eira and Mia, a wide grin plastered all over his face. Oh, this was serious. Very serious. He would probably talk with Eira about it a lot later, but it was still an adventure, and maybe something more. He couldn't help himself. 

 

-

 

The moment they were in the apartment and Pan heard the singing voice, he was a flurry of movement, a rush of gold and green heading straight towards the sound, a glowing golden rapier already appearing in his hands before he even reached the source of the sound, sword held out towards the singing man.

 

"Hello. I believe you took something you should not have?" 

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Posted (edited)

Soliton

 

Despite herself (and the situation), Mia genuinely enjoyed the whole 'mad scientist' thing. It felt like a rare occasion that Mia got to use her powers for what she felt they were meant for - making things that pushed the boundaries of what was possible. After all, she had all the rarest materials in the universe at her fingertips! And yet the idiots in the governments of the world would rather she waste it on blasting petty criminals and dealing with whatever nonsense came up that week. She could change the world! But oh, no. That wasn't allowed! All to maintain a status quo that was doomed to collapse in a few de--

 

Mia eventually caught herself in this mental rant, and decided on two things: Maybe she liked mad science a little too much and also she should probably stop drinking caffeine today.

 

When the machine worked and brought them to the apartment, Mia had settled herself (switching to tapwater instead of cola) and had thought to conjure up her costume to wear instead of her day-to-day clothes. Didn't need to be giving up her identity to evil Swedes. That was always a recipe for trouble. 

 

Before she had time to gather her thoughts, though, Pan raced off, and Mia didn't know exactly what to do about that.

 

"Yeah I mean sure Forever Boy, I could have turned the air in his room into laughing gas or strategically blocked all the windows, but bullrush it is, I guess. That's cool. That's fine."

Edited by Shofet

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Once it became clear that the group was not rushing headlong into danger, and in fact considerable prep was necessary, Lulu headed back to her room to take a proper shower before suiting up again. During the waiting period, Lulu did the exact opposite of Pan, and in fact sought out the elder Nott och Tags for conversation. Eira would probably give her heat about it later, but she really didn't care right now. Using her effortless Southern charm, she did her best to draw them out, with some success; clearly Scandinavian reticence was very much a thing. She found it worked better if she was helping them do something, like making coffee or bringing food to Mia. However, she also made herself available to talk to Pan and Micah, as her fellow schoolmates needed someone to talk to as well.

 

When all things were in readiness and Forever Boy did his Forever Boy thing, she looked at Mia and shrugged. "Bangarang, Ruffio." Then she looked at the others. "Hey, anyone want to be invisible?"

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