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MBCE

Placement Tests -- Quark

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Below the main grounds of Claremont Academy, the true heart of the school is kept form the eyes of the world. It was on Sub-level two that Darian reported to work. Stephanie Harcourt stood in the large labratory and looked up when Darian stepped in.

"Welcome, Darian, to your new work place. Here, we have the latest technology to test students powers to the limit as well as analysis anything that might happen to threaten the city."

Stephanie moves over to Darian. "Well, before you can get started to work, you have to go through a placement test. Are you up for it?"

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It's if as Darian has walked into a giant playroom for geeks. He marvels in amazement at the coldly mechanical workplace. Thoughts about how he could help this place and how it could help him shoot through his brain like an overclocked View-master. There is little time to gawk, Miss Harcourt is already here. After she questions him, he wonders aloud what sort of placement test she could put him through, "Miss Harcourt, I am not one to refuse a test of my skill. Though I am concerned about the 'powers' part of this test. I am no Captain Thunder. Then again, I am curious about how this will go." He stops his rambling thoughts and smiles, "I am ready when you are, Miss Harcourt."

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Stephanie smiles at Darian as he leads him out of the lab. "And if you believe all that we have at this school are those with flashy abilities, you're not as smart as you make out to be. No, each test is to determine the limits of a person's abilities so that we can place them properly in their classes. In your case, I must admit, we had to think of some very interesting ways to challenge that intellect of yours."

She leads him down the hall towards elevators that take them down to the school's training facility. "This is the school's combat simulator. There are holographic projectors in the walls that can create pretty much any situation imaginable. Daedalus designed and built the system which has served the school well."

Stephanie lets Darian take a look around the very empty room for a bit, letting him digest teh infromation she gave him.

"As for your test, it is usually split into five different stages. Each stage will test a different ability you possess. The tests are merely a way for us to know your strengths as well as weaknesses so not passing a stage in not a problem. We try to challenge the students to make sure they have an idea of what they are capable of. Each stage will begin with the lights flickering slightly and then your task will be explained. Once the stage has been completed, either in success or failure, you'll be given time to rest. Do you have any questions?"

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From the wonder of the workplace to the emptiness of a combat simulator, Darian is suprisingly quiet. Taking in all the information Miss Harcourt is giving him. He looks around letting that soak in. This room was made for the purpose of super-powered physical education. Sure, Miss Harcourt assured him that it wouldn't be like that, but he just has a sinking feeling. Walking into the empty area, he breathes slowly trying to keep his composure. He stretches out his arms while he cracks his knuckles and stiff neck, and then he exhales. Fear begone, he thinks to himself. Though it helps, he still has butterflies in his stomach. Looking back to Miss Harcourt with a weak smile, "I have but one question: When shall we start?"

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Stephaine smiles at Darain's enthusiasm. "we'll beging once you tell us what you can do. All we know for sure is that you have very advanced intellegence as well as an affinty for technical things. We don't want to test your physical strength if that is not something important to you."

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Darian ponders aloud the question of his talents for a moment as he paces around the cold, empty room. "Well, I do have knowledges of esoteric sciences as well as established ones. I am an electrician and also a machinist. I can fix them, take them apart and even build them. That said, I do have a few inventions of my own, but they're more a mesh of all of my hobbies than anything useful." Looking back to Miss Harcourt, he stops pacing before giving a short laugh of embarrassment, "Like I said, I am no Captain Thunder."

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Stephanie's eyes widen in interest at the mention o f inventions. "You have some inventions already made? Like what, if you don't mind me asking? We could include them in the placement test as well. Check their soundness and design."

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Darian stretches his left arm out. An inky black substance rushes out from under his sleeve and forms a baseball-sized sphere in his hand, "This is a protective suit. It is as flexible silk, but harder than some metals." He sighs and grips the sphere. It returns back under his sleeve, "It was made to protect against attacks from of people who did not appreciate my intellect and let me know physically. That is partially why I did not continue with public education." Perking up a little, he pulls a PDA out of his messenger bag, "This is where I store my programs that I have finished. I have two so far. One is a program that decodes electrical and/or mechanical signals from machines allowing them to 'talk' to you. It also does this with sentient brainwaves and converts them to electrical and/or mechanical signals so you can 'talk' to the machine. There are some interesting machines out there, I once had a conversation with a," his whimsy turns to embarrasment and he stops himself with a short cough. "As a side effect, the whole program doubles as a decoder. The second program is a vibrational frequency generator. It only has two places set though: my laboratory and the place I use it to go to my laboratory. I hope to one day have it go other places. It has three entrance settings. One for a a regular-sized person to go through, one for small vehicles to go through, and one for large vehicles to go through. Finally there is an invention I have been working on at the moment, but it is 'buggy' at the moment," he puts the PDA back in the messenger bag and pulls out a pair of gloves that look like bronze clockwork gauntlets and puts them on, "Some times I can get them to work, but mostly they fail. They're supposed to be conductors for various elements: Earth, Fire, Air, Water, Wood, Metal, Ether, Void." He trails off on the last two words as catches himself talking too much then looks to Miss Harcourt and nervously blushes, "Like I said, I study the esoteric sciences as well as the established ones."

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Stephanie seesm actually impressed witht eh items as Darian explains them. "Good. I'll make sure to include them in the test. I'm going up tot he control room and get things started. Again, you'll see the lights flick and I'll explain the things you must do to pass the stage. Good luck."

Stephanie smiles before leaving the room through a side door.

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After a short moment, the lights flicker and Stephanie's voice comes over the speakers.

"Okay, Darian. Here we go. As you have worried about the school's ability to test you, we'd like to get an understanding of just where your limits are. I'm placing a number of items in the room now, that I'd like you to show the limits of your knowledge. Use each station once in any order that you wish. Good Luck."

The room transform into four different sections. Within each section are a number of items. There is a mechanical workshop, a gym, a classroom, and a podium.

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The limits of my knowledge, Darian almost scoffs at the thought, surely they do not think I have stopped learning. He examines the areas presented to him. He sighs reservedly at the thought that he will have to go into a gym eventually. The podium interests him, would he be talking to people or just one person? He smiles at the familiarity of the last two areas, these two be his areas of expertise. He thinks for a minute, looking at each area every time he thinks about it, How will I go about this? I cerainly can't end in failure, so the gymnasium will either be second or third. The podium will be first, though. Do I want to start off weak and end strong, or do I want to mix weak and strong together? I will let the first test be the decider. If things go well I will try the gymnasium, if not I will go for something to stimulate my intellect before I throw my body at something. With that he walks toward the podium.

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Standing at the podium, Darian wonders what they will have him do. Speak, most likely, but would it be freeform or something to read. The room takes on a more library type setting. Wood replaces metal. Bookshelves replace nothingness. A teacher (maybe the librarian?) sets a stack of papers on the podium, divided into three sections, and then leaves. Great, he thinks, reading. This will not be hard at all. He begins to worry as he sees metal chairs being set in front of the podium and students entering the library to sit in said metal chairs. The librarian sets a stand next to the podium, it holds a chalkboard with calligraphic lettering reading "'Death' by William Butler Yeats". The librarian once again leaves. Well alright, he thinks, I can do this. The lights in the library all dim but for a spotlight directly on him and the podium. His heart sinks firmly into his stomach. He tries to read the first poem, but it sounds like he is muttering Hear hears shouts of "Speak up!" and "Look up!" from his audience. He does speak up but by the time he does it's too late. The audience is downright unhappy with the performance. The librarian comes back to the stand to replace the chalkboard with another, reading "'The Raven' by Edgar Allen Poe" and leaves again. This time he actually looks at the audience and spoke up with a voices that compliments the work. The students listened this time eventually giving the performance some praise. The librarian comes back to the stand to replace the chalkboard with another, reading "'A Farewell' by Lord Alfred Tennyson" and leaves again. Darian tries to keep tempo with his last performance but this time his audience had gotten used to it. The performance doesn't get reception the last one did but much better than the first. By the time the audience finishes their weak applause, they, the library, the librarian, and the stand next to the podium disappear. Darian figured it would be a hologram. Taking a deep breath, he thinks, Well, the first part is over.

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Stepping down from the podium, Darian weighs his options. I could go to the gymnasium and finish the hard labors, he thinks, then again I must show them I am not totally incompetent. With a nod he walks toward the classroom. The room is fairly simple. Where the library was full of students and bookshelves all around, there is only a desk and a chair in here. Not wanting to waste time he quickly sits at the desk. As soon as he does so, the same person who was setting the signs up during the reading walks in, sets a piece of paper on the desk and leaves. The piece of paper has three tasks for Darian, with three hours to complete them all. First, a freeform writing assignment on what "esoteric sciences" meant. Second, another freeform writing assignment on what "established sciences" he studied. Finally, out of all of them, which interested him the most. The first was about how psuedosciences and how that even disproven ones still have an effect -- comparing nuclear transmutation to alchemy. The second was about all sorts of phyical sciences. It takes most of the time he has, so he tries to tie it into his third assignment which is about engineering. Unfortunately, he doesn't have enough time to get done with the third. At the three hour mark the same teacher enters the room. Darian reluctantly hands over all the writing assignments, even the unfinished one. That is two failures in a row, he thinks, might as well of went to the gymnasium anyway.

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The gym is as big and empty as the original room. Darian wonders if he has wandered into the wrong room. Looking back to the double doors he entered assures him he is in the right place. While he walks around the place looking for any sign of physical activity, he is greeted by a large video screen, a monotone robotic voice speaks, "Welcome, please choose your training excercise: Acrobatics, Climbing, Driving, Escaping, Piloting, Riding, Stealth, and Swimming," a small video pops up as the voice says each activity, "Once you have made your choice please touch the screen corresponding to your choice." Darian looks long and hard at the choices. In his mind, the stealth course is lease likely to get him killed. When he presses the screen, it clears and a video demonstation of the course shows while the monotone robotic voice explains, "You will have three minutes to hide then the sensorbots will come around to try to find you. if you evade them for a minute they will leave and the course will end. If you are seen, you will be notified and the course will start over. If you are detected three times the course will end. We will begin now," a three minute timer appears on the screen. Darian quickly runs away from the screen and tries to find a good hiding spot. He climbs up as high using the platforms, thinking that the higher he gets the better chances he has to not be seen. When the sensorbots come in, Darian stands up from his perch to get a better look at his persuers. Unfortunately one automatically detects him as he does so, "Target found: six seconds." The sensorbots leave and the robotic voice says, "Three minutes until sensorbots arrive again." Darian spots four boxes put together like a cave. He climbs down and gets in the 'cave' just in time to see the sensorbots come in. The minute is a little more than half over and Darian hasn't seen any sensorbots yet, so he takes a peek outside of his hiding place only to see one coming around the coner to see him, "Target found: thirty-nine seconds." How convenient, Darian thinks. "Last try, three minutes until sensorbots arrive again," the robotic voice says. Darian, desparate to get this over with, tries to find a decent hiding spot, but can't before the sensorbots get back in. He tries to keep on the move dodging thier paths while they search. It works for a while but he slips up when he crosses one of their paths. "Target found: twenty-four seconds." The room goes back to being empty. I am glad that is over, Darian thinks as he quickly exits the gym, now I can get to my area of expertise!

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The suspense is killing Darian as he walks to the workshop. Random thoughts flicker in his brain about building something from the ground up. He cackles quietly to himself as he envisions a humongous powered suit of armor that would take four or five people to operate. He knows it's absurd to think they would have him do such a thing, but he amusedly writes down notes anyway. When he enters the workhop it is empty, like the classroom, but all for a table with a computer broken down into parts. He sighs, and thinks to himself, I should not have gotten my hopes up. Oh well, this will not take long. Darian begins to work, making a little song about it in his head to the tune of Dry Bones. Five hours later, the technological puzzle is in one piece. Well, that was easy, he thinks as he exits the workshop, But that cannot be it, can it? Standing in the cold empty metal room again, he awaits further instructions.

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The room fades back to its original form and Darian realizes that only an hour had passed. Stephanie's voice come over the speakers.

"You're probably wondering about the time difference. This room also has the ability to make time pass at different speeds. I'm not really sure how it works....yet, but it is nice for testing students that need more time than others. Refreshments will be brought out to you so you can regain your strength."

The door opens and Darian sees a number of workers come in carrying a table loaded with a variety of dishes along with a chair for the young man to use.

"Just a heads up, Darain. It seems your physical skills are very much below average for a young man your age. School does more than train your mind."

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After a short time, enough for Darian to regain his strength, the lights flicker and workers some out to clear away the table and chair.

Stephanie's voice again comes over the speakers. "We are ready to begin the next stage. This will test your Morphic device's ability to latch onto a target and mimic their abilities, Darain. The test is simple. YOu must hit your target and then mimic their abilities. We've set up the test into for parts with three targets each. Each part consists of the same defensive ability, but each target's ability to resist your power is stronger. So you should be able to hit all of the targets in part one but find that the third target is more imprevious to your mimicry power. You get three chances to hit your target, but only one chance to mimic their power. Regardless if you mimic their powers or not, you must move on to the next target in the sequence. Good luck."

As her voice fades out, three targets come out into the room. The first target begins moving around the room in a defensive pattern waiting for Darian to use his device upon it.

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Darian notes the temporal stasis with Miss Harcourt mentions it, thinking back to when he studied the subject for his workshop. He makes a note to dig deeper into the design of this room after he is done with the tests. When the food is delivered he remembers his stomach. It has been over 8 hours since he has eaten. While he is filling his plate, Miss Harcourt's statement hits him hard. He never was a physical person, but he never thought about training his body as learning. When Miss Horcourt mentions his Morphic Device, he sighs and makes a note to never mention projects to anyone before he is truly finished with them or at least out of the beta stages. He pulls a PDA out of his pocket and points the top of it toward the floor. A fluorescent silver beam shoots out and a 2"x2"x2" metal box about of a filled with quicksilver-like liquid appears in front of him. "I am sorry, this is so informal," he says stepping into the liquid, "I could not bring the whole stand with it." The quicksilver-like liquid quickly forms to fit his whole body, leaving not a drop in the box. Stepping out of the box the Darian makes the psychoactive skin turn into it's usual war-like form. This should not be hard, he thinks, it will give me a chance to test the targeting device and the duplication process. When the first target comes out, Darian chuckles. It looks like a cartoonish black duck walking left and right behind a doorway. The first time he his the tduck it makes a cartoonish gun sound and the duck turns the opposite way to walk. It is funny to Darian, but what's not funny is what the Morphic Device's system analysis says after hitting the target, "Target hit. Insufficient duplication." He shrugs and shoots the duck again, it responds with the same gun sound and the duck turn around again, but the system also replies with the same message. Darian sighs. The thrird shot is a repeat of the other two but this time the cartoon duck looks weary, stands straight up and then falls over. Darian would have laughed if he hadn't been worrying about his device. He lets the war-like form go as he ssteps back into the box. The quicksilver-like liquid slowlymelts back to it's original place. "I am sorry, but the duplication process has not been refined yet, Miss Harcourt," he says stepping out of the box.

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Darian looks around waiting for Miss Harcourt's disembodied voice to answer, but all he hears is a computerized voice, "Round 2". He quickly scrambles back in to the metal box and the suit covers him again. Standing where he was last time, the target walks out. The target is human, or at least living. A person in a black ninja garb strikes a defensive pose. Raising his hand-cannon again, Darian shoots. The beam of white light seems to throw the target off. Standing there in awe, the target flinches instead of moving out of the way of the shot and gets hit straight in the chest. "Target hit. Duplication successful. Analysis loaded. Apply," The suit questions Darian as it dimly glows, converting the energy into a compatible source of information. He looks over the breakdown of the duplicated ability scrolling down in front of his eyes inside the suit. He chuckles at the irony, the ability to deflect almost any attack. "Do not apply," he answers. The second target walks into place as he does. It is another ninja garbed target in the same stance. This time the target is more wary, trying to do an acrobatic move out of the way of the beam, but still gets hit. "Target hit. Duplication successful. Analysis loaded. Apply," the monotone voice repeats. This time the ability is much more interesting. It reads like minor chaos theory. "Do not apply," Darian answers, "Save to file." "Duplication saved. Recharge needed," the suit replies. The third target is standing there, waiting. Darian walks toward the metal box and the suit slides off again. Stepping out of the box, Darian looks for the disembodied voice, "Miss Harcourt I have a valid reason for doing this. My duplicator only has a limited amout of charges. I am out of said charges. I can recharge it, but it will take a while."

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Stephanie's voice comes quickly over the speakers. "Hmm, it seems limited is an understatement. How long does it take to recharge? Also, were you able to replicate any of the targets' abilities? We don't have a way of determining that just yet. It seems your targeting system is fairly good for basic targets though."

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"It will take exactly one hour to recharge the duplicator," Darian says matter-of-factly, "As for the duplication process. I have both successes and failures. The first round was met with all failures. I do not know if it was the subject not having anything to duplcate or the duplicator not working properly. It is still very experimental. This is the first time I have used it outside of my laboratory. The second round was a bit more successful," he smiles as he dotes, "Both targets were able to be duplicated. The first target was able to deflect any attack. Very powerful if they would of used it. The second one was a bit harder to read, it seemed they had a bit of what seemed like control of fate. I saved it to the suit's memory file for study later. Is there anything else you would like to know?"

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Stephanie's voice replies over the speaker. "Hmm, perhaps that will be something you can work on when your duties are not too heavy. Since it needs to recharge, we'll move along to the next stage. Take some time to refresh yourself while we prepare for the next stage."

Workers again came out to bring the table of refreshments and a chair for Darian. Others worked to clear away the targets.

Stephanie's voice again comes over the speakers. "Darian, would you like to test your Elemental conductors? Are they ready for a work out?"

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Darian nods, "Well, yes, but there is one problem. I have only one element so far: Air. There are other settings, but they are very experimental," He says stepping into the metal box again, "I can show you a few of them if you wish." This time the Morphic Device does not cover his whole body. It slithers around to his hands and forearms, forming what looks like a large pair of gauntlets made of clockwork and wires. They begin to give off a faint blue glow as he steps out of the box, "I have been thinking about having the other setting of the Morphic Device to look like a mask or a pair of goggles even. There is a lot to be said about having a theme in this day and age," Darian pauses and smiles with a gleam in his eyes, "but then again only heroes and villains have themes."

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"Okay, came Stephanie's response. "We'll test out the air feature of the device."

She listens to Darian explain how the device works for a while. A few more moments later the lights blink signalling the beginning of the next stage.

"We're going to test the device's ability to move objects of different weights across the room through the course that is set up for you. There will be four stage points through the course, where you'll pick up a different object to complete the next portion of the course. YOu can repeat a ection three times. Good luck."

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Darian watches the room turn into a giant puzzle game. Hexagonal colored blocks fall into a pattern and disappear when grouped into the same color. "Round One," the computer voice he's come to know and love reminds him, "Easy Mode." Round one is simple, the blocks fall easily and he is able to move them around easily. He does not slip up once. Of course, this is the training level and it is impossible to fail. "Round Two," the completely monotone computer voice announces, "Normal Mode." Round two is a bit more challenging, the blocks are getting harder to move it takes a couple of pushes and pulls, but he manages to complete the level, if in less than stellar fashion. To his note, he gets his name on the high-score list. He puts in his initials: DXC. "Round Three," the computer does it's job of telling what is to come, "Expert Mode." Round three is fast and furious. Darian catches a few block and makes a few patterns, but the blocks are even heavier that before. He cannot keep up with them and the blocks fill the area before he can move them. He sighs, wondering what the final round will be. "Round four," Darian can't help but think the computer's monotone voice is mocking him, "Nightmare Mode." True to it's name, round four is a nightmare. The blocks will not budge as they move around, and it seems that they have to be put in certain places! Darian cannot be precise under these conditions. Like last round, ultimately fails. As the room clears back into empty metal, he sighs, "I guess that is another failing grade?" He winces at the last two words.

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