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MarkK

Brainiacs of Freedom! ver 2.0 (IC)

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"That sounds like a lot, guess even prodigies have to take the basics though, right?" she returns Alex's smile. She turns to Archeville, "I'm afraid, Doctor, that in my case the appearance is the whole package. I can fly and these she holds up a hand showing off the long, talon-like finger nails "Are essentially eagle talons. When my wings devolved I didn't lose any body mass so my muscles expanded to compensate but... she shrugs "That's about it, ice breath or wind control or psychic powers; just exactly what you see and a little over a year of med school.

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"Oh, I'm not a prodigy, per say. There's no one realm I'm especially good at. I do test at peak-human potential on most tests designed to gauge intellect and that sort of mental potential, but I'm not exceptional at one arena. Honestly, my theory is that my meta-talent is an exceptionally adaptable mind. It grows whatever direction I push it in." Psyche returned the smile and beamed at the wings, "I wanted to fly more than anything and I finally managed it by figuring out how to move myself with my thoughts. I'm still lousy compared to other flyers but its one of the neatest things probably ever."

"I WISH I could have been there. I got to listen to a recording, though. The teacher I debated on it was a psychologist. She thinks that sentience is limited to humanity. Its a narrow-minded opinion in my estimation,"She turned her attention back to the doctor with a cheerful grin, much more at ease as a research subject than as a fellow dinner-guest, "I'd be honored to be a subject of research although you may have already read a paper or two on me, already. I'm the Psyche project. I was one of a handful of kids in utero when the Terminus invasion happened and pretty much always been telepathic. True telepathy, ESP, and all of that."

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The griffin-woman is a nurse?

Well, we knew she had to be moderately intelligent to be invited here. And being in the medical field indicates some strong compassion on her part, so that is a plus for her in our book.

"Med school?" Archeville asked, perking up. "Any specific field of interest, or are you aiming to be a general practitioner?"

Her teacher said that? What an idiot!

Now, now, Alex may have misquoted, or is taking something out of context. We can-

NO!

"Limited to humanity?!?" Archeville blurted out. "Vhere on Earth did your teacher get her training? Dat is quite possibly one of de most idiotic things I haff ever heard an instructor say! 'Limited to humanity'? Bah! Does she dink de Grue und de Lor aren't sentient? Vhat about de near-human races, like de Atlanteans und Utopians? Or beings such as Talos or Doctor Simian? 'Limited to humanity'.... bah!"

Archeville's agitated rant suddenly stopped as he happened to glance down and see his left hand was clenched into a fist.

"Ahem... ja, vell, I vould obviously side mit you on dat argument, Miss Albright... und I vould very much like to talk mit you more at length about your psychic abilities, und run a few experiments. Dere haff been some recent papers on de effects of de Terminus energies on neonatal development, und I vould relish a chance to explore some of dose lines of research in addition to mein own vork on psionics."

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"General medicine, there are far too many specialists these days she looks between Alex and Archeville, " I've read some of those papers, there's quite some debate on breach between our dimension and the Terminus not just affecting newborn children but anyone who was on the ground zero of the attack, possibly even being the cause that allows drugs such as Max and Zoom from affecting people to the degree they do.

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"Sure, I'd be happy to help. I'm always interested in how my powers work." Alex volunteered cheerfully. She didn't seem unduly bothered by the doctor's outburst, "My mother was attending a class at the hospital when a portal opened up about twenty feet from her. She was about six months pregnant. She and my father are both normal non meta humans. I've been able to utalize my psychic senses in my earliest memory although my range was much more limited in early childhood."

"I had to learn to stay inside my own head unlike most who gain their abilities in puberty. I spent a lot of my childhood eavesdropping until I was able to grasp the ethics of it. Now I've got excellent control and I would never listen in on someone's thoughts without permision or situational need, " she assured them earnestly.

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Hunh... that is an interesting idea.

I told you it was worth it to come he-

And by "interesting" I mean crackpot!

"Terminus energies affecting de efficacy of Max und Zoom? Ah, I do recall hearing some debate on dat a few months ago." He flitted back to one of the buffet tables and poured himself a glass of orange juice, "not much has been said, at least not dat I haff found, but it is an interesting avenue of research. I believe de main point of contention is de times involved: de only two recorded instances of Terminus Energies spilling over to dis vorld vere during de two Invasions, in 1965 und again in 1993, but Max has been in use since de late 1950s. I recall hearing dat some vork vas going to be done on trying to compare the potency of Max dat vas made at different points in time -- before de Invasions, during dem, und days, veeks, months, und years after -- to see if Terminus Energies did have any effect, but I believe de vons doing dat research hit some manner of roadblock." He paused to take a drink, "funding issues, I vould guess; de panel vhere I heard dese debates vere more geared tovards stopping drug problems, not in exploring how dey came to be."

'Come into our parlor'.... muah hah hah hah hah!!!!

Stop that.

"Fascinating! How far back do your memories go? I haff known some psychic who can remember everyding, even from de last three months or so vhile still in de womb!"

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As they were conversing the doors deeper into the Embassy opened and a well dressed man in his mid twenties stepped out. Those who payed much attention to the tabloids likely recognized him as Ace Danger, Hero and son of the Famed Johnny Danger of the Jungle Patrol.

He gracefully crossed the floor to address the group. "Ladies and Gentlemen I regret to inform you that our illustrious host has been called away on League business." He made a quick assesment of who had arrived that he recognized, "He has requested that I stand in his stead in this matter and I can only hope I do not disappoint. The conference room will be ready in a few minutes untill then feel free to mingle and partake of our hosts lovely Hors'douvres."

Ace then made his way into the crowd to introduce himself to the new faces.

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What? Who's that? Is he taking our crab cakes?

You are a crab cake.

... you can't even trash talk properly. Oh, I know who that is! That's the wastrel black sheep of the Danger family!

Well, he has done better in the past decade or so. Give him some credit.

A long-haired man in a lab coat -- whom Ace may have recognized from the newspapers -- flew over from the other side of the buffet line to greet him. "Ah, guten tag, Herr Danger! If I had known you vould be here, I vould haff brought mein request forms for more daka crystals to you, rather dan mail dem off to Danger Inc.!"

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Alex waited politely for the adults to finish their introductions and then held out one small hand to the new arrival.

"Thank you for the invitation, sir. I'm Alexandra Albright." Alex said quietly before answering the doctor, "While I do have perfect recall, Doctor, I've not made an effort to recall any memories in utero. I could likely recall some images and sensations but my intellect at the time was not so very much greater than any other infant's. By the time I was six or so is when there was truely a noteworthy difference between my view of the world and my peers."

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"Ah welcome good Doctor, I'm glad you were able to make it." He grasped the doctors hand firmly with a broad smile and chuckled at his commentary on the family business. "Well for so talented a mind I'm sure we could make some arangement." Ace added smoothly providing a card and mouthing 'call me' silently with a quick wink before moving on to the next introduction. Ace had encountered the Doctors grandfather in his youth but saw no reason to let a little crazed Nazi in the family get in the way of so skilled a scientist, besides h wasn't hard on the eyes either.

As he came to the end of the group he lightly took Alexs hand by the finger tips and gave her a slight bow, "Enchanted Ms. Albright." he said with a comforting smile. Then took her arm as he turned to usher everyone into the conferance room.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I know your time is valuable, shall we?" he announced witha sweeping gesture to the now open double doors before escourting the young Ms. albright intot he conferance room.

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Did... did he wink at us? Like... a wink-wink?

I... I believe so, yes.

I'm not quite sure how to process that.

It didn't seem to bother you at Oktoberfest....

That... that was a completely different set of circumstances!

Riiight... look, let's just go with the flow for now.

"Vell, dat is somevhat of a conundrum, Herr Danger," Archeville said, floating along behind. "Shall ve... vhat? De invitations Emissary sent out vere qvite sparse, dey only said ve vould be here to 'talk about de future'... but," he chuckled, "dat is, as I am sure you can imagine, a very, very broad subject."

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"Yes, what did you have in mind?" Alex agreed curiously as she was seated at the table. She smoothed her skirt down and pulled out the thin leather folio with her notepad.

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Twilight followed the group into conference room, the specifics already questioned, her wings unfolding slightly to accommodate the chair and wrapping her tail around her waist like a belt before sitting down next to Archeville.

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"A very broad subject indeed," Ace said as he led the group down the hall. "The esential task is to create a brain trust of sorts." He explained as they walked, "A selection of experts in a variety of fields as well as promising young people," He flashe a wink at Alex and Twilight, "The primary tasks will be divided to sub-commitees. These will all be interdisciplinary to foster an outside th box way of thinking."

He began to move through the crowd handing out folios with names of the attendees embossed upon them. Also listed were fellow members of the comittee as well as the conferance room set aside for thier use. Acheville, Alex, and Twilight Gryphon all found themselves in the same group as the other attendees sorted themselves out and filed into the provided rooms.

Ace followed the small group into thier room and took a seat for himself as well. "The goal is to identify and begin work on problems early is my understanding." He said and gestured for his guests to seat themselves. "My own position is to act as facilitator for whatever research may need to be done."

The opening page of the folio was entitled 'Proliferartion of Empowered Individuals in the Modern Era' followed by some basic facts and figures regarding the trend towards a larger percentage of 'Super' individuals over time.

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Oh, good! I was hoping it would be something like this!

Bah. I was hoping for something more... concrete. More... immediate. Not so... city council, public works-y.

Archeville skimmed over the papers -- in truth rapidly scanning every bit and committing them to his astounding memory, and mentally cross-referencing the data with his own studies -- then nonchalantly tossed them to the center of the table. "Jah, it is known dat de number of active Metahumans has been increasing over de years, dough vhy dis is so has been up for considerable debate. But if de focus of de talks here is 'vhat do ve do mit dem' or 'how do ve manage dem', mein suggestion -- as is often de case for any problem -- is increased education. Primarily for deir sake: to make sure dey know dere are other Metahumans dey can talk to, set up programs vhere newly-erupted Metahumans can safely learn to use deir abilities in constructive vays, to make sure dey don't fall through de cracks in society und turn to villainy. De Albright Institute has done an acceptable job so far, but mit de increasing numbers of Metahumans, it is not enough, especially due to legal issues dey have faced vhen trying to vork mit certain other countries. AEGIS und UNISON haff similar programs, focused on teaching Metahumans how to use deir powers in law enforcement, but dose training programs haff alvays faced more dan deir fair share of difficulties."

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"Not to mention the training programs existant have some serious flaws in their approach. In the facility I was in, despite the wealth of therapists, they really never did get past treating us as possible threats." Alex opinioned as she flipped through the paperwork. She closed her folio and folded her hands on top of it, "Despite their best efforts, that really has led to some long term psychological damage for a few within the program. I know I'm better adjusted than most that came from my facility and I think that's honestly due to my nature more than a successfully implemented support structure."

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"And while educating people about metahumans, especially the general public, is often a good idea, it can also be used to create fear or brew up more resentment or even hate toward us; for every member of the Hero Booster's Club there's a Knieval wanting to do the opposite. There exists the possibility of infiltration into programs designed to teach parahuman abilities how to use them. Get a smart enough, charismatic enough villain and he or she could set up a similarly designed school to teach the use of powers with a slant toward villainy. Twilight said flipping through the papers, To present the devil's advocate side of things.

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Ace nodded as the conversation began to take form. "And those are precisely the kind of contingencies that are often overlooked. There is also the chance that with proliferation of super-powered individuals there will be a concurrant rise in super-powered crime, all facets of the issue are relivant in this discussion." He explained, his primary goal and purpose here was as a facilitator if a mind such as his could soleve these issues these panels would not be needed after all.

"So What are the likely and unlikely impacts of this rise if it is in fact an accurate assumption that such a phenomenon exists?" He posed the question to the group curiously, it was rare for even as well connected an individual as Ace to spend time witht he sheer volume of intelect this room contained.

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Crime! Now we're talkin'!

Yes, in how to stop it!

"De same impacts," Archeville began, "as for any group mit sub-standard education und mentorship und health care. Dey fall to crime, become prey to gangs und other criminals, und turn to supervillainy. Many super-criminals vould haff vastly different lives if dey had had proper counseling und support in deir formative years."

"Of course," he added between sips of water, "some require more dan simple counseling, dey require medication as vell. Dough I haff yet to find any concrete studies von vay or de other, it does at times seem metahumans are more prone to neurochemical imbalances vhich lead to psychopathic und sociopathic tendencies. Dere are many conflicting reports on dis phenomenon, of course -- vhether de genes dat code for metahuman abilities are tangled mit de genes for assorted mental disorders, such dat activating von activates de other, or how closely metahuman abilities are tied to de personality of de individual und how mental disorders affect de manifestation of powers."

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The nature vs nurture arguement has been around for a long time, but which side are you arguing, Doctor? Or are you suggesting an innate predisposition for criminal behavior among mutants and those that are born normal but then gain abilities through experimentation or accident?

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"Well, I think we can touch on the addage of if power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Contemporary psychological theory dictates that the actual prevalence of psychological abberations are woefully underdiagnosed. I think that idiosyncracies such as that are simply more pronounced in the very high profile antics of metahumans." Alex gave Raylis a small smile, "The brain and all of its workings is something that modern science is still just at the tip of the iceburg of. I suspect neurology is going to turn up all sorts of fascinating discoveries in the next few decades."

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Ace nodded as they continued thier conversation. It was quite enlightening just witnessing a free exchange of ideas on the subject.

He chose not to speak instead turning expectantly to the good Doctor to hear what more he had to offer on the subject.

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Nature vs. Nurture! Yes! We should clone the other Knights, then swap their memories around and see what happens!

... I cannot begin to count the holes in that prospect.

"I am arguing neither side of Nature vs. Nurture, Ms. Gryphon," Archeville replied, "but Miss Albright has stated de heart of mein current thought quite clearly: Metahumans are seen as having more extreme personalities -- for good or ill -- because deir actions are so much more extreme dan does of even de most gifted athlete, und because dey are in de limelight so much. Metahumans draw attention, knowingly or not; some react positively to dis, some negatively."

"Segueing, for a moment at least, to something else Miss Albright said: vhile it is true science's knowledge of de vorkings of de brain are growing mit each year, knowledge vhich vill be of great help in a number of fields, science's knowledge of genetics -- specifically Metahuman genetics -- is of equal if not greater import. Reliable methods of artificially generating Metahuman powers are few, und dey are limited in vhat dey can grant, mostly assorted physical enhancements such as enhanced strength or toughness, or wings, or assorted sensory abilities borrowed from other life forms." He paused a moment and glanced at Gryphon, then continued, "De... 'flashier' abilities, like energy generation und manipulation, or mental abilities, have proven irritatingly hard to predict und replicate. Knowing not just how Metahuman powers vork but how dey manifest in de first place, nd how to test for Metahuman abilities, vould be a boon in helping future generations."

Archeville knew full well that talk of testing for Metahuman abilities would be a touchy subject, especially given the "tests" people like his grandfather did on thousands of pregnant women. But he didn't say that; he wanted to see who among his table-mates would confront him on it.

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For a moment Twilight went rigid. Her tail lashed out, thumping the chair's legs at the implication, "They're a mutation I can assure of that her tone was even although her eyes held a predatory look about them.

"Again, you're implying that it's a person genetic makeup either mutation or alteration that is the reason that those with metahuman abilities are more public for good or for ill. Let me ask you this; the heroes and villains that rely on technology and have no genetic re composition, why are they out there in the limelight?

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Fool! Is she not listening?! Bird-people supposedly ave good eyes, but did she get poor hearing as a trade-off?

Settle down, her questions are ones many have asked for decades.

"The answer to dat," Archeville replied, "is so obvious I am surprised you even asked it."

"Vhy are de gadgeteers und vearers of battlesuits out dere in de limelight, shoulder-to-shoulder mit other metahumans? For de same reasons de martial artists und veapons masters -- und, stepping avay from 'superheroes' und 'supervillains,' actors und actresses und athletes -- are in de spotlight. Because it is inevitable. People like seeing vinners, seeing dose who can do dings dey cannot, or vill not, und people who can do dings others cannot or vill not do dose dings, in part, because only dey can do dose dings. Even dose who claim to not be in it for any glory or recognition do vhat dey do because dey feel dey must, und de rest of de vorld vatches deir activities mit rapt attention."

"However," he continued, "it is possible dat de genetic factors for metahuman abilities are linked in some vay do de 'extrovert' genes, und perhaps all dose gadgeteers und veapon masters und martial artists und actresses und athletes vould manifest metahuman abilities if exposed to de correct stimuli... but dat is a theory dat seems qvite untestable."

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