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Under the circumstances, it was a beautiful day. The circumstances being Freedom City in early February, that meant clear skies and biting cold air that kept the SuperCrime crew of five huddled around their portable heater whenever they could get a break from setting up the outside shoot. It definitely wasn't the weirdest or most uncomfortable circumstances they'd shot in over the past fifteen years, but they were none of them as young as they used to be, not even Paige herself. They'd set up a small working area in a quiet park, a couple of portable chairs, several cameras, and a little canopy over a knot of equipment and monitors.

 

"All right," Paige began, checking things off on her tablet as she spoke. "This looks like a standard two-camera interview, over the shoulder and with the overhead boom plus lavs. Is that all set to go, Fred?"

 

The second unit director nodded, barely looking up from his own tablet. "I'm going to be doubling Kelsey on sound to try and kill some of this wind noise, but we'll have to handle it in post. It's too bad there aren't fifty thousand buildings in this city we could've gone inside for this..."

 

Paige laughed. "His first suggestion was on a rooftop of one of those buildings; this was a compromise. Speaking of which, what's the hot dog situation?"

 

"I sent Vivi to the cart," Fred confirmed, "they'll be back any minute. We'll have to keep this tight," he reminded her, "we still have that other one this afternoon."

 

"No problem," Paige assured him blithely. "We've done this a million times."

 

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A white head with goggles on appeared from the ground between them, slowly floating up to reveal Ghost.

 

"Rooftop would've been nice, but I guess this'll be fine," he mumbled, looking around while he raised his goggles away from his eyes. "You got her to get some with everything on it, right? A good hotdog needs everything on it."

 

Raising his hand in a greeting, his mask crinckled just slightly around his mouth, given the impression of a small grin. "Hey, Hologram, big fan. Catching your show with the kid whenever we can."

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There was a brief kerfuffle with people scrambling out of the way of the hero rising from the earth, but the crew of SuperCrime! were nothing if not used to dealing with dramatic entrances. In a split second, Dave had redirected the camera to catch their guest's arrival and Paige had on her best professional smile. "Thank you so much! That's great to hear. If you like, we can give you one of our swag bags after the interview." Her smile became a grin. "This is our last season, so they automatically become vintage next year, I'm pretty sure."

 

Right on time, a young person in an extremely puffy coat and a knit hat with a large pompom ran up with a paper sack. "Three with everything," Vivi reported, still huffing and puffing a bit from the jog. "I didn't know if I should get fries too, so I got fries."

 

"Good initiative," Page told the intern approvingly. She took the bag and handed it over to Ghost. It was still very warm. "Would you like to have a seat? We can do the basic pre-interview stuff while you eat, if you'd like."

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"Aw, its the last season?" Ghost sounded honestly disappointed through his mask. "Well, happy to be here, then."

 

He seemed like he was about to say something else when someone in a puffy coat came running over with a bag. You could almost see the stars in his eyes when he accepted it. "Fries are great, thank you!"

 

Ghost pulled the lower part of his mask up, just enough to be over his nose, fished a fry out of the bag and popped it in, nodding as he moved after Paige to the seat. "Sure, sure, sounds good." Moving to sit, he quickly grabbed one of the hotdogs and took a bit, slowly chewing and savoring it. "Hey, these are good. Great job, kid!" He quickly gave Vivi a thumbs up, before taking another bite. 

 

After swallowing, he smiled faintly at Hologram. "So, this was about that whole thing with the Collector and everything, right? Oh, and yes, please, I'd really like one of those swag bags, Carrie would love that... and maybe an autograph if that's alright..."

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"Fifteen years is a good long run," Paige replied automatically as she sat down opposite him, the words a reflex after having to using them so often. "And this is for our finale episode; we wanted to go out with one last big investigation. I understand from the pre-interview that you were working in Freedom City during the Curator's infiltration of the city's heroes? We're looking to get all sorts of perspectives on what it was like in the city that day. Troubles you faced, people you rescued, if you had to fight with any of the robots, that sort of thing. I'll ask some basic questions to start and then we'll get into your stories, then I'll follow up on a few things and we'll wrap it up there." Her voice was confident and reassuring, making the whole thing sound easy. "We won't air the entire interview, and if you say anything that might compromise your or someone else's identity, we can edit that out."

 

The woman who'd been manning the large microphone approached Ghost with a tiny mic in her hand. "I'd like to attach this to your lapel," she explained. "With all the noise out here, we need all the help we can get when we're recording your voice. I assume you'd like to keep wearing your mask during the interview?"

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"Sure, I guess. Still, gotta catch the reruns instead." Ghost fidgetted a bit in the seat when they gave him the tiny mic. It took a few tries, but he got it to stick. "Sure, sure, makes sense."

 

He was down to his last hotdog by now, but alright, alright. He shouldn't chew when they were recording him anyway.

 

"I appreciate that. Most tv people tend to be either love or hate me, so nice to get someone unbiased for once." He pulled his mask down in front of his face and adjusted his goggles to cover his eyes again. Hidden as well as he could be, alright.

 

"So, whadda ya want me to call you on air? Hologram? Mrs. Cline?"

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"You can call me Paige or Hologram, whichever you prefer," she told him easily. There was another minute or two of preparation, camera and sound checks mostly, that let Ghost finish his hotdog and have the trash whisked away by the same intern. Finally the director nodded to Paige that they were ready to go.

 

"First I'd love to learn a little bit more about you and your history in hero work," she told him, relaxing into her seat despite the cold. "What sort of hero work do you specialize in? Were you already working in Freedom City in 2013?"

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That was good. Really good. Full stomach for once was nice, cleaned up (somehow he didn't get any stains on his white suit despite the greasy hotdogs), so it looked good with the goggles and everything.

 

He looked a the camera, back to Hologram, and then... "Oh, yeah. Sure. I was around back in '13. I've been doing this whole thing since... 2003 or 4? Somewhere around there at least? All blurs together a bit." He scratched his chin while he thought about it. "Yeah, it was 2003. Did a few television things with my powers before deciding I should use 'em to be a hero." He crossed his arms and leaned back as he thought some more.

 

"I, uh, guess I don't really specialize in anything? Bad guys show up, I do my best to get there and stop them, right? Keep people safe and everything, nobody gets hurt if I can help it. So, uh, yeah, I guess I just help out where I can? I'm just the friendly neighborhood Ghost."

Edited by RocketLord
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Paige nodded in understanding. "Neighborhood heroes are the backbone of a hero community," she commented. "I know heroes like you do a lot of the heavy lifting during crises in Freedom City, even though you don't tend to get a lot of the screen time. Can you talk about what things were like for you during the infiltration? What did you do?" 

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Ghost scratched his chin again. "Well, not like we're doing this for the recognition, right? Can't not help people when I can do what I can." 

 

"It was weird. And I mean, I know weird. I've been involved in plenty of weird. Like that time Doctor Midas wanted to turn a school into gold, never found out what that was all about. But anyway, yeah. The infiltration. Just doing my thing, going around saving lives, when some heroes I'd never met showed up and started attacking people. Was kinda wild. One of them had this long red cape and laser eyes, the other just tried punching me. When he found out he couldn't do that he started trying to punch everyone else. I'd seen them on tv before, don't even remember their names, but y'know, suddenly somebody heroic comes in and tries to hurt everyone. Its weird."

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Paige paused for a second before asking her next question, a rare break in her usually smooth interview rhythm. She'd researched all of the abductees from the infiltration, and she didn't recognize the description of red cape and laser eyes as belonging to any of them.  That was a little odd, but peoples' memories of events a decade in the past could often be mistaken, especially memories of fights in Freedom City. "What did you do?" she asked, covering for the moment of inattention. 

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Ghost paused.

 

"Err, I... kinda stopped them? I can do weird things to tech when I move through it." He moved his hand through the chair he was sitting on to demonstrate. "Took a bit before I figured that out, so had to get people outta the way first. Led them on a merry chase across a quarter of the city or so."

 

"Or maybe not so merry. Laser eyes are weird, y'know. Had to take a few hits along the way to keep people safe."

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Paige nodded, though her fingers itched for a tablet or even a notebook to write this down. Who had laser eyes among the abductees? "So the replacements you saw, they were heroes you recognized but not anybody you could name?" she nudged. "Do you remember which parts of the city you passed through while you were running? Or if you saw any other heroes or villains along the way?" Likely nothing, she reminded herself, but it would be dumb not to run any anomaly to ground. Even dead ends could make interesting television. 

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"Err..." Ghost paused. If he hadn't been wearing his goggles Hologram would have been able to see the completely vacant look in his eyes for a moment. 

 

"Right. Yeah. No, I... Don't really? I think we started in the Fens and ended up in Southside or something like that, but it was a while ago, y'know? I don't think I saw anybody else, really. Guess they were all busy doing other things, right? Those things were all over the city."

 

He scratched his chin. "I'm honestly not really sure who they were supposed to look like. I mean, I thought I recognized them from somewhere, but y'know how it is, there's tons of super people running around all over Freedom."

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Paige chuckled. "I sure do. Freedom City's got more superheroes and villains per capita than any other city on Earth. It's a heck of a town, but that makes it hard to remember everybody." She leaned back in her seat and redirected the conversation down another avenue. "When did you first start to realize what was happening, in a big picture sort of way?"

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"I... kinda didn't at first?" Alright, this was kind of bad, he could admit that, but big picture wasn't usually his deal. Not like this, at least. This had been big, and he just did what he did, right? Only saved the world a couple of times. "But y'know, people that looks like heroes suddenly start attacking me? That's weird, even for me. I know my rep's a bit all over the place depending on the day of the week, but its usually not that bad."

 

"So I kinda rolled with it at first, then when I figured out they were robots... well, then something had to be up, and I was pretty sure it couldn't just be me, right?"

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Paige nodded understanding. "All the research I've done says that the day was incredibly chaotic. That's part of the reason we're doing these interviews, honestly, so we can start to put together a full picture that most people probably didn't get a chance to see." She picked up a water bottle from the ground next to her chair, uncapped it and took a sip. There was an identical bottle available next to Ghost's chair, should he want it. "What would you say is the one thing you remember most from the day?" 

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"I, uh, yeah. I guess that makes sense. I... kinda put the whole thing as some weird thing that other people had handled, I guess? I was busy with those two 'bots, didn't really get time for everything else."

 

Ghost scratched his chin again, trying to give it some thoughts.

 

"I guess, um... It was weird? Like, I've had my share of fights. Y'know, cases of mistaken identity, people thinking you've turned bad, whatever. It happens. But this was weird, they were just so singleminded about either going for me or hurting people. Fight them, or people get hurt. It was weird."

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"I'm sure it was," Paige agreed. Off-camera, she could see that several of her crewpeople were visibly shivering and even her insulated gloves were not keeping her fingers from going numb. It was probably time to move this towards a conclusion. "After everything was over, what happened then? Did you notice any big or small changes in the city, in the way people felt about robots or about heroes in general? Did you feel any different?" 

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Different?

 

"Not really, no. I'm, uh.... Look, people tend to love me or hate me anyway, so it wasn't really that different for me after? Besides, these things were pretty clearly robots once they were dealt with. This is Freedom, right? People's seen weirder than that."

 

He scratched his chin again, seeming thoughtful for a moment.

 

"I mean, giant bees and everthing. Robots masquerading as super heroes weren't that weird in the long run, I guess."

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Paige inclined her head. "You make an excellent point," she agreed. "I suppose once you've lived in Freedom City long enough, things just don't seem very surprising anymore. It's almost funny how quickly things go back to normal after something like this happens." She looked offstage, exchanged quick nods with the director. "I think that's about all the questions I have for you today," she told her guest, "and I think my crew is about to freeze. I want to thank you again for coming out and speaking with me today. It really helps us to get the story from as many perspectives as possible." 

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"Sure, sure, happy to help." Ghost stood up and stretched his back. "It is getting kinda cold."

 

He looked up, like he was about to go fly off, before stopping.

 

"So, uh, was it useful?"

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"It's all useful," Paige assured him. "I'd love to know which replacements you fought, so I'll be doing some follow-ups to see if I can pin down where all the infiltrators went during their fighting. Who knows, maybe we'll even find some old footage from somebody's camera that didn't get noticed before." She rose to shake his hand. "And even more than that, people need to know who their heroes are. The publicity the Freedom League gets is all well and good, but they're usually not the ones keeping an eye on the neighborhoods and streets. You're one of the folks out there taking care of people, and it's good that they can see you and hear a little of what things are like for you. It's definitely useful." 

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"Ah, good, good." He shook her hand quickly, before pulling back. "Yeah, wish I could help there, but, I dunno, just can't remember their names at all?"

 

Publicity? Casper wasn't really sure what he'd do with that. Would probably just lead to some more trouble.

 

"Guess you know how to reach me if there's anything you need to follow up on. I'll be, uh, going then, I guess. But, uh... how about that swag bag and autograph for the kid? She'd really love that."

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"Absolutely!" Paige told him with a smile. In moments, Vivi appeared with a blue canvas bag branded with the SuperCrime! logo in white. Inside were a similarly branded pen, stress ball, plastic cup, penlight, and stopwatch. "There's a sheet of instructions in there," Paige explained, "on how to reenact a couple of our experiments with the stuff in the bag at your own house. And here..." She pulled a copy of the call sheet off the side table and scanned it to make sure there was no sensitive information, then picked up a pen. "Would you like me to make it out to someone in particular?"

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