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Date: March 3rd, 2009 (Tuesday)

Weather: High of 26, low of 9 (no that such temps bother Topaz, or are even registered by her 'skin'). Clear, with light (~5 mph) winds.

Topaz, formerly Officer Liz Mathews, had faced her share of difficulties in her adult life. Being on any police force is hard enough, but being in Freedom City's police force is even tougher. And for those few on STARS, the Superhuman Tactics And Regulation Squad, well, most can't even begin to imagine what it's like.

But Liz Matthews didn't have to guess. She knew. On top of that, she knew the difficulties of someone who's gained superpowers (both useful and potent) and a radically altered appearance, in the form of a crystalline body that could rapidly generate more of itself as offensive weaponry.

It was these things that were irritating Liz the most now. She recently had to get a new bed because she had shot spikes through it while having a nightmare; she also had the throw out the pajamas she'd been wearing that night, because they'd bee shredded. She'd broken more than a few pieces of furniture both in her home and at work due to both her massively increased weight and her inexperience with being strong enough to casually lift subway cars. She'd gotten much better at using her strength and gauging how things would react if she tried to sit or stand on them, but she still felt she needed help from an expert. Plus, the bills for replacing all the smash furniture and ripped clothing was getting to be too much.

Which is why she was now in Hanover. Not at the Albright Institute, or even the Hanover Institute of Technology, but rather in amongst a block of plain and unassuming (though very modern) housing units, the type which had sprung up all over Hanover. She had come seeking one particular house, home to perhaps the keenest scientific mind in all of Hanover (and perhaps one of the top ten in all of Freedom City), Doktor Viktor Archeville. Why him? Because a) he was highly recommended, and B) she knew from reputation that he actually enjoyed having 'guests' drop by. And c) he was the only one who could or would see her before mid-April.

The small path leading from the sidewalk to Archevillle's front door was flanked by gaily-painted garden gnomes, four on each side. Each stood about a foot and a half tall, with blue shirts and red pointy hats. As Liz walked up, she almost thought she saw a pair turn towards her, but when she looked at them they were still as statues. The front windows were all obscured by what appeared to be thick and heavy curtains.

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Easy. Ya, this would be fine. Or at least, thats what Liz kept telling herself. Get in, chat with the good Doc for a bit, get some solid furnature, get out. Easy. Of course, there was the rumors she'd herd back at the presinct. Rumors that the 'good doctor' was a few beakers short of a full chemistry set. Rumors that he was prone to the occational bout of menical laughing. She told ehrself it was nothing, just a way for the every day 9 to 5 cop to get by, making fun of those higher up on the food chain then them. And yet...No, she refused to let herself think about it.

Insted, she walked all the way over to the norht end of freedom, refusing to think about any mad science-y things she might encoutner. She refused to think about the fact this may be an incredibly bad decision. Doctor Archville as one of the good guys. He's done plenty of helpful things for the city. And of course, trying not to think of something, invariably makes you think about it.

So by the time she got to the good doctors door, Liz was, understandably, a little nervious.

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The door opened quietly after Topaz stepped up on the porch, seemingly of its own accord. The room beyond was fairly dark, though she could just make out some movement, some glints of metal, off to one side of the room.

"Halt!" a voice from nowhere commanded. She had heard Archeville speak a few times before, sound bites on television, and this voice did sound like his, but it also sounded very distorted, very mechanical. "Please state your name and the nature of your visit."

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Liz halted as instructed. It sounded like Dr. Archeville's voice, but seemed a bit off. He probably was a bit under the weather or something. Understandable. Normal even. She halted, as instructed, looking into the darkness, attempting to ascern the interior, as well as the source of the voice as she answered "er..Liz Mathews. I have an appointment with you Doctor. I called yesterday, remember?"

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"Ah, ja, Ms. Mathews!," the unseen voice said in a far more upbeat (though still eerily synthetic) tone. "Please, follow de Kammerdieneraffe, he shall escort you to de vork-out room."

At the word 'escort,' the source of the voice became clear: lumbering into view was a silvery metallic gorilla in a butler's suit. A moment of looking revealed that it was in fact a robotic gorilla, and not some sort of mutant gorilla.

When she steps over the threshold into the house itself, lights came on, showing that the inside of the house was far different than what the outside indicated. Outside, the house seemed to be a completely ordinary light gray one-story housing unit, the sort that's sprung up all over Hanover in the past few years. Inside, it was quite nicely decorated, with beautifully stained wood paneling along the walls and a tiled floor depicting an odd mandala-like design. Three hallways lead off from the entryway, left, right, and straight ahead; the robo-gorilla was heading down the left hallway. As she looked around, Liz saw a sparkling chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

The ceiling which was far too high for the building, based on the exterior dimensions. Come to think of it, this entryway alone seemed big enough to take up half the house....

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Well, this was unusual. And expected. It was unusal in the fact that seeing mechanical gorilla butler anywhere outside of a disney land ride was an odd sight to behold, but by the same extent, it was completly within the norm for a scientific genius like Dr. Archeville. The rules for what was and was not normal were different now.

Liz stepped inside the house, paused, and stepped back out again. She did this a few times, trying to wrap her head around it. Was the house....no, it couldnt be bigger on the inside than it was on the outside. That was impossible. You couldnt build a structure that had a volume independent of its surface area, that was basic geometry. And yet, the impossible scale of the entrance hall alone must have taken up most of the space in the house. Whats normal is different now, Liz reminded herself, and resolved to accept that it was not only possible for a house to have internal volume exceding the expected. Oddlyy, upon doing this, she felt much better. At least she was sure of her unsureness.

Liz followed after the big gorilla down the hallway, almost wishing she had an extra set of eyes so she could take in all of her surroundings at once.

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As they walked down several corridors -- far too many corridors, part of her thought -- Liz began to get the feeling she was being watched. As she looked around she still saw the occasional glare of light reflecting off of... something, and got the sense of numerous things moving about her, either beyond the numerous doors and walls in adjoining rooms or within the walls themselves, but she never saw anything definite.

Until the silvery metal rat scurried past.

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Walking down corridor after corridor after corridor, Liz was now sure that Dr. Archeville’s house had transcended normal spatial topography and existed in a hyper dimensional state. Honestly, she wished he could have just got a bigger house, one in which the laws of physics and geometry didn’t have to be warped just to get some extra closet space.

Equally disconcerting was the feeling of being watched as they traveled. Not paranoid by nature, she trusted that it was her own instincts putting her on alert. The glimpses of light and movement out of the corner of her eye were not helping the situation either.

And then she saw the metallic rat jump out in front of her, and wasn’t sure how to react. Was it one of the doctors servants, like the big robo gorilla? Perhaps. But then, why was this thing following her? Perhaps it would be best to just voice her questions.

“Um, excuse me, what’s with the rat?â€Â

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"Custodial Droid, you might say" the metallic gorilla said, in the same odd mechanical-yet-upbeat tone. "Essentially, a very smart vacuum cleaner. Dere are many of dem scurrying about, so dey do not require a very big collection bag."

Soon they reached a set of double doors, doors oddly similar to the ones leading to the STAR Squad's private workout room. The gorilla opened one, and beyond was a respectable gymnasium/firing range. Assorted pieces of exercise equipment was scattered about, as well as parallel bars and a pommel horse; the rear third or so of the place looked much like the STAR Squad firing range.

A large section in the middle of the room held a slightly raised dais, about 60 feet in diameter. In the middle was Dr. Archeville, apparently practicing some fencing moves with a sabre of some sort. He soon saw her, stopped his moves, and waved her over.

She was not expecting him to be so handsome. Or pale.

"Good, good, please, come in," Liz heard simultaneously from both the gorilla behind her and the man before her. He grinned as he realized the effect, then reached up and removed a small electronic device from his ear. When he did, she heard the gorilla turn and shuffle off. "Won't be needing dat communication link, now dat you're here. So, what bring you here, hrm?"

Hmmm... shiny.

And in need of our help.

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