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MarkK

Braniacs of Freedom!

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The sun shone brightly over the steel and glass towers of downtown freedom, giving a sense that the city itself was gleaming. Ensconsed between the skyscrapers was a small, if well appointed banquet hall, used for the sorts of conferences and parties that wanted an intimate, but yet high class feel. Rented out for the day by the supergenius Prodigy (if with some organizational assisstance from the Emissary), guests would find that past the frosted glass double doors of the entryway, signs within pointed to the rooms for this hallowed conference.

Making his way through was a man with ageless Mediterranean features, a trim goatee over olive skin, his seeking gaze taking in every detail of his surroundings. He wore a beige trenchcoat over what looked like a far too bulky physique for his face, though there were glints of metal underneath.

A small smile was pulled from him in the room proper when he noted that while arranged buffet style, brunch included some of his particular favourites. He savoured the smell of the baklava as he moved to get a plate instead of staking out a chair at one of the tables.

"Benefits of being early" Daedelus mumbled to himself.

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Why are we here so early? I thought we were going to be 'Fashionably Late'?

This isn't a social call. Well, okay, it is, but not the kind we want to be late for.

Whatever. As long as Daedalus is here, so we can show him up.

If he's here, we'll take the opportunity to have a pleasant conversation with him, like we've been wanting to do for months.

Archeville moved down the hall, actually walking rather than flying, to get the full feel of the place; certain aspects of its architecture were best appreciated from ground-level. His shoulder-length golden blonde hair was pulled back in a loose ponytail, which accentuated the thin, sharp lines of his face. His navy blue khaki pants and white shirt had been crisply pressed, and his hands were in his lab coat pockets, though one hand constantly fidgeted with the wand-like omni-gadget inside. His rubber-soled boots made soft squeaking sounds as he walked down the hall.

"Herr Daedalus!," he exclaimed on entering the banquet hall, a bit louder than he'd intended, "it is a pleasure to finally have a chance to talk mit you!"

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Sarah considered the matter over again, struggling to reach a decision. She had calculated the trajectory of the first moments of the universe, described pi to one hundred and forty trillion decimal places (and counting), and yet faced a problem for which all her brainpower might as well have counted for not. And that was deciding what to wear. The lunch engagement was a chance to assemble some of the most brilliant minds under one roof for the goal of humanity’s betterment. An engagement which she was looking forward to with great excitement. One which she hoped would go well.

At last she decided on a red blouse over which she donned an graphite blazer. Adding a pencil skirt and dress shoes, she felt that she adequately fulfilled the social doctrine for the event. Arriving at the meeting hall which had been reserved, Sarah observed that she was in fact not the first to arrive, finding herself third present. Already, Daedalus And Dr. Archville had arrived. A smalll twitch, something reminecent of a smile, momentarly appeared on her face. These were her people. "Salutations Gentlmen, its a pleasure to meet both of you in person. I've read much of your wkors. Very intresting. Im glad you could attend. Social tact indicates introductions to be a requisit, so as to appeal to that, I'm known nomitavly as Dr. Sarah May Brown" She did the little twitch like smile again.

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Who's she?

Doctor Sarah May Brown, obviously.

You are so useless!

At least I can hold a civil conversation.

"Ah, hello Fraulein Brown," Archeville replied, bowing slightly to her. "It is a pleasure to meet you, too. You are de von who organized dis all, ja? Is it just to be de three of us, or are others expected?"

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Sarah blinked, nodding in answer to the question. Yes, she had orginized this meeting, with some aid from Emissary. But more intresting was Dr. Archville's facial movments. His momentary defocused gaze, the slight shift in postire, she could actually watch the throughts progressing in his head, all three of them, each taking place super imposed over the others. Interesting.

"Dr. Archville, are you aware your suffing from hallunicnations related to an emerging dissassociative personality disorder? Argunging with one's self is not a problem, however when it reaches a point of externam manifestation and infridgment on the preception of events around one's self, I would suggest looking into the issue post haste." It occured to her that, if he was aware of his condition, perhaps he was delibretly keeping it concealed "I will attempt to exercise restraint in sharing this information if that is what you would like."

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Darian makes his way into the banquet hall to find that he is late. Mingling between the select few honored has begun. Doctor Archeville, Doctor Brown (known to Darian elsewhere as Prodigy), and Daedalus all where here. This cannot look good on my part, he thinks as he walks toward the three, I wonder if they will even acknowledge me. Upon reaching the group he smiles nervously and bows, "I apologize for my tardiness."

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An invitation next to a hospital bed started it out. A time, a place and a date. Her moniker written out in a precise, intent hand; there was no mistaking someone wanted her in attendance of a conference. "The foundation of the Freedom City Society for the Advancement of Scientific Understanding. " she murmured, "Medicine is technically a science and if promoting Understanding would create a few less Knievel's... there wasn't any way that she could say no.

She didn't recognize the name Sarah Brown but after the conference this would change. She chose a backless (it would have to be as the inhibitor was still with Ian, explaining that she'd tried to give someone a temporary tail was awkward to say the least) white dress, strategically modified for her tail but so nothing inappropriate showed. The dress was elegant, if simple in design and she accompanied it with a domino mask instead of the usual hood, the latter would definitely be out of place.

She arrived before the scheduled time, doing her best to keep away from any potentially xenophobic villains lest a repeat of last week occurred, walking mostly; there was no way she would fly above the city in a dress The site of the room caused her to draw a quick breath Maybe I'm underdressed she thought moving through the frosted glass doors.

Then she saw Daedalus.

And Archeville.

Whoa, if those two are here...what am I doing here? I'm no where near their league. There must have been a mistake...

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Tactless teen twit!

What?!

What? I said twit.

... oh, good, look, here's more people!

Archeville seems to pause and think on Sarah's words, then turns to Quark as he makes his way towards the group. "Ah, Herr Cale, so good to see you again! How are you? How are your parents?"

He could just barely see Twilight Gryphon arrive. "ah, it appears we are a pentaverate now," he said to those near him, then waved the newcomer over with a just-this-side-of-manic smile.

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Daedelus opened his mouth to reply to the good doctor's initial greeting.. but felt his reply cut off entirely at the sudden talk of unseen voices in the brain.

"Ah.. ha."

Okay, so it was possibly going to be one of /those/ kinds of gatherings, but really, this sort of business happened all the time when you put enough high intellects in the room. Everyone has their little quirks, went the mantra he started repeating to himself internally.

He managed to smile again at Twilight Gryphon's entrance, given his status as the secret patron that scored her invite.

"Good morning. To all of you really. I'm looking forward to this little conference, and just what exactly Ms Brown's proposal is."

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Gryphon takes a step further into the room as Archeville beckons pausing at the smile. She crosses the room to join them calmly enough and she returns Daeldaus' smile, seeming calm enough. However her tail betrayed her calm demeanor lashing about as if she were a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

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For her own part, Sarah held back from the conversations, finding its maneuverings uncomfortable. Better to observe from a distance rather than engage directly, at least for now. Other arrivals trickled in, Chris, whom Sarah knew personally from their time at school together. Also soon to join the group was the unmistakable anthropomorphic figure heroine, more commonly identified by the nom de super of Twilight Gryphon.

Daedelus takes it upon himself to get the ball rolling, as the saying goes, and places it on Sarah to lay out the nature of the gathering, and its intent. She took a moment, 42 microseconds to be exact, to gather her thoughts before addressing the group.

“It is an unmistakable trend that the success of a society depends not on leadership nor military strength, but the collective intelligence, and the ease at which stored information can be accessed. Sumar rose to be the first civilization after they created a system of writing. Egypt kept records spanning centuries, and maintained a grip on the Mediterranean until the library of Alexandria overtook them and Greece became the dominant power in the west. China was an unopposed empire for dynasties before falling into a backwords society after burning much of their accumulated teachings, a loss that only in recent times they’ve managed to recover. The Data supports the hypothesis, and it is on these grounds that I moved to take advantage of the trend as stated, collecting together brilliant minds, thereby exponentially improving the cognitive ability of the group when compared to the individual.â€Â

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Daedelus crinkles his brow.

"That's not quite exactly how such events flowed, Egypt long lost its grip on the Mediterranean before Greece could have been called a dominant power, for one thing."

He had, it must be said, a proprietary interest in the accuracy of history. After all, he had lived quite a bit of it. Still, he managed to stop himself before he went into full "Civlization: A lecture series" mode.

"All the same, it's a sound core principle. A braintrust for societal progression eh?"

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'Sum greater than its parts'? We're already smarter than all of the combined. We'l be running this group in no time!

We don't know that we are smarter than all of them, we barely know what sh- ohhh crap.

Hey, this is exactly what you'd wanted to do, right? Use our brains to be proactive, and work the System itself rather than parts of the System?

Yes, but I was hoping to be rid of you before that, because we certainly don't want you in charge of... well, of anything!

You and you and I all know that's never going to happen.

We'll see!

"Sooo," Archeville started, paused, then started again, "vould dis Illuminated group be a secretive ding vorking behind de scenes for de betterment of humanity, or someding strictly on de up-und-up, in full view of all?"

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“Yes, I know†Sarah replied to Daedelus’s comment, showing a slight twitch of annoyance, one which sharp eyed observers might pick up on. “I embellished on the ease of transition between the empires to simplify the geopolitical interplay. Even a shallow investigation of the topic would take hours and I felt it best to avoid such a lecturing which would ultimately be redundant to the point that the torch pass between the Greco-roman and Egyptian culturesâ€Â

Sarah next turned her attention to Archville, finding his internal debate to be something of an amusing puppet show. Vaudevillian antics aside, his question was an understandable one “While I’d prefer to keep actions of such a group on display fully, where in it could do the most benefit, by virtue of human nature in the regard that their exists those whom might use the fruits of the collective group present here for nefarious or otherwise detrimental ends. Thus, it follows a need for secrecy in matters which may ultimately prove beyond a scope which could be safely released for public view.â€Â

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Daedelus stroked his beard.

"You wouldn't want to have the existance of such an organization publically announced? I'm just looking for a clarification on what you mean here. In my view, I think we should avoid getting too cloak and dagger, separating yourself from humanity in your workings can lead to feelings of disconnection, of dehumanization."

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"If that was what you understood from my explination, my mistake. The orginization on a whole would be overt and open to public knowledge. i mearly wanted to use descression in the display of the discoveries that we may make, filtering out those with to great a potential to be used harmfully" Sarah answered. She prefereed to keeping things in the open, but the last thing the world needed was another good discovery turned into a weapon.

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Hunh, that's pretty much exactly what we'd planned to do with ArcheTech.

Can we sue for copyright infringement? Identity theft?

I am fairly certain we can not.

Well, then, I guess we'll just have to take over.

No, we will not!

"How interesting," he said while pouring himself a cup of tea. "I had planned on doing someding similar, an international chain of multidisciplinary research laboratories, unconnected to any von government or business interest. It vould also provide humanitarian aid in times of crises, especially medical aid und supply transport, a task aided by teleportation pads I had planned to install."

He took a sip of the tea, and nodded approvingly, "I suppose a good idea is evident to dose mit de eyes to see it."

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"Where would we start?" Gryphon asks looking between Archeville and Sarah "What determines the greatest need? Individuals could decide and work on that particular problem while seeking aid from the whole when needed, but that would defeat the purpose of such a group...

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My, what a cute tail.

What? Oh... wait, what?

Lion's tail, bird's wings... wonder what else she's got?

I am sure she'll show you, if you persist. Though I am sure it shall be in a manner you do not appreciate.

"Vell," he said between sips of tea, "I dink you are one de right track right dere: communication. A solid communication infrastructure, such dat efforts for any crises can be coordinated mit maximum efficiency. Recent history has shown how slow certain government agencies can be to react to certain crises, und I dink streamlining und updating de crisis response structures -- for events both natural und dose driven by some type of intelligence -- vould be a noticeable change for de better."

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Darian keeps a smile on on his face, but his thoughts reprimand him. Why have I not thought of something like this before? How better to help humanity than to confer with some of it's greatest minds? "This sounds all well and good," Darian nods, "though forgive my 'devil's advocate' skepticism, would the world governments accept us running things more efficient than they could? I am sure you are aware of the speculative fiction that hits close to home with this. A group of superpowered individuals change things for the better and then they become puiblic enemy number one, resulting in gruesome fates." There is an awkard silence followed by a short cough by Darian, "Then again, it is only speculative fiction."

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We should be running things! The world's a mess and we just... need to rule it!

No, we really do not. Besides, I bet you have not even begun to consider all the logistics of running the world, have you?

I... well... that is... shut up!

That is what I thought.

"Oh, goodness me, no!" he laughed, setting his tea down so not to spill it. "I am not advocating ve run dings for de governments! First off, I am far too busy as-is mit mein own vork to even dink about running some big project like dis. As I said earlier, I haff plans to start up a corporation, but does are some years off; running government operations vould be so much more complex."

"No, vhat I am saying, vhat I advocate ve do -- at least, at dis point in time -- is to come up mit plans und projects dat can largely be run by de governments demselves. Ve show dem how de procedures vork, show dem how to do dings better dan dey are currently being done, und den step back und let dem go. It vill take some time, ja, und dere likely vill be accidents und miscommunications, und dat is vhere ve vould step in -- to pick dem up vhen dey fall, until dey have a good enough handle on dings to move ahead at a steady pace."

"Or, to put it another vay," he paused as a picked up a bright green apple which had caught his eye, "ve continue doing vhat ve haff been doing, but find vays to slowly allow de governments und de... greater mass of people to do dings for demselves, relying less und less on superheroes to solve deir problems. To make de vorld de kind of place vhere are not needed -- at least not in any but de most cataclysmic of situations -- but de are still velcome. Yes, dis vould mean some fairly massive social changes, to make a vorld vhere needs und vants are met, und crime is the least palatable option for anyvon... but I dink it could be done."

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"Again, where would you begin? How would anyone convince a corporation or a government to implement proposed changes?"

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With logic and rhetoric.

... did you just say-

BACKED BY LASERS!!!

... oy.

"Ve do it de same vay ve do most dings," he replied, then took a bite out of the apple. He chewed for a moment, then continued, "ve start mit dose closest to us, mit dose ve know, mit dose whom ve already haff some influence."

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Gryphon folds her arms, "But what problem to tackle first, or do we want an assortment? If everyone is working on their own problem then nothing will be done, but on the other extreme is too many cooks ruins the pot.

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