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Power Gauging -- Dr. Archeville

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Date: June 5th, 2009

The Albright Institute stood as one of the leading scientic establishments in the city of Freedom. Though they had less money than the government run facilities, they strove to encourage more of the citizens to participate in their varies projects. The results helped keep the institute alive in the city.

Inside, a small number of people sat in chairs filling out applications for services when the good doctor entered. A number of the participants looked up as he entered but it was the receptionist that recognized him.

"Dr. Archeville. Welcome to The Albright Institute, May I help you?"

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This is pointless -- we can run any test they could, and better than they could!

Perhaps, but if we are to gain an accurate assessment of our abilities, we need clear objectivity.

Archeville smiled at the receptionist as he walked in, "I certainly hope so! I saw your adverisetment on de television some time ago, und had been meaning to stop by und see vhat all vas going on. Of course, one ding after anozher happened, time got avay from me -- you know how dat goes -- so it is only now dat I am able to stop by. Und den," he rose up a few inches into the air, surrounded by the soft blue glow of his Gravimetric Belt, "I dought 'vhy not let meinself get tested, und get a first-hand look at vhat goes on here?'!"

He descended back to the ground and leaned on the receptionist's desk, still smiling, "so, do I need to make an appointment, or... ?"

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The receptionist was surprised to see the good doctor floating in the air. "Uh, no.. of course not. Just fill out this form and we'll get you to see one of our tester as quickly as possible.

She hands over a clipboard with an application on it and gestures to the chairs for him to fill it out.

Designation:

Origin:

Power source:

Please Describe your Abilities in detail:

Any Known Weaknesses:

Do you use your powers actively in Freedom City? Yes No

If yes, in what way?


After the doctor had filled out the form, he was shown to a large room where a woman in a lab coat was waiting for him. She smiled and held out her hand to him. "Good day, Doctor. I'm Dr. Rachel Brown. I'll be adminstering your tests today."

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Designation: Herr Doktor Viktor Archeville, Future Scientist-King of Earth!

Doktor Viktor Archeville.

Origin: They laughed at my theories, but I'll make them pay!

Earth-born human of German descent.

Power Source: I'm simply better than you! Than you all! you are as gibbering monkeys to me!

Inherited mutation.

Describe Your Abilities in Detail: We're smarter than everyone in this building combined!

Subtle psionic enhancement of cerebral functions, extreme level of proficiency in all matters scientific and technical. Lab coat is as resistant to damage as fine plate armor. Gravmetric Belt enables flight, force field generation, cloaking (from auditory, radio and visual senses), and teleportation. Electromagnetic Screwdriver can harness entire electromagnetic spectrum for a wide variety of effects.

Any Know Weakness: Your stupidity!

None known.

Do you use your powers actively in Freedom? Our power is thinking -- of course we use it!

Yes.

If yes, in what way? In every way possible!

Scientific experimentation & technical development to help humanity against its less noble instincts.

Archeville smiled Dr. Brown and bowed slightly as he took her hand, "guten tag, Herr Doktor. If you are do von administering mein tests, den I shall make sure I do vell on dem!" He shot a quick wink to her as he rose back up and looked around the facility.

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Dr. Brown smiled as the doctor floated in the air. "We'll be sure to put your inventitions to the test as well. Doctor. I believe we are ready for you."

Dr. Brown gestured to a small table sitting against the wall. She walked to the table and sat down waiting for the good doctor to join her. "As you stated on your form, you mark your mind as your greatest asset, and I do have to agree. So, for our first test, we would like to test your raw mental prowess. There are four different parts to this test and I believe you'll do extremely well. Good luck."

Dr. Brown reached down and took out a stack of cards from a bag sitting next to the table. "Ready? Then let's begin."

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This section of the test were deceptively simple: the cards were a standard deck of playing cards. "You do know how to play poker, yes?"

Ha! Child's play!

Perhaps so, but don't get so cocky you give our hand away.

"It has been a vhile," he replied, "but I am sure I can remember de rules. Vould you mind if I examined de deck first?"

"Not at all," she handed the deck over.

"Danke." He appeared to give it a cursory glance, spreading the cards out and shuffling the deck a few times. He noted an odd weight to the cards, not large enough to detect with individual cards or even a full hand, but all 52 together showed a slight but detectable oddity. He decided to not mention that when he handed the deck back to her. She re-shuffled, then dealt hands.

He appeared to pause for a moment as he looked over his cards, "in fact, dere's a razher humorous story dat goes along mit de time I last played cards. It seems dere vas dis trio of ghosts who were haunting a man's home. He had tried everyding he could denk of to get rid of sem, but to no avail. Luckily for him, I happened to be passing by..."

Archeville recounted a tale of how he had faced the three ghosts -- which he believed were either mental 'echos' in the home or some sort of extradimensional noncorporeal entity whose actions and appearances were partially shaped by the psychic impressions left on the place -- and eventually got them to leave. After a few nights he figured out that they wanted someone to help them complete a task, which was to finish their last round of poker. But as he played, he realized they were cheating -- all three each had a Dead Man's Hand, two Aces, two Eights, and a face card, but a standard deck only has four Aces and four Eights -- so he called them on it. The ghosts turned on one another, and soon vanished.

"My, that is quite the story, Doktor," Dr. Brown said at the end, "but now it's time to reveal. And I've got a full house," she said with a smile, laying down her three 10s and two 9s.

"Ach, so you do," he replied with a small sigh, "und all I haff got is two pair. A pair of vons," he laid down two Aces, "und another pair of vons," he laid down his other two Aces.

A Quad of Aces beat any Full House.

He leaned back and smiled broadly.


Ha! Still got it!

Great, I will not get a moments peace for weeks, what with all the gloating you will be doing.

"Care for another hand, Doktor?," she asked as she reshuffled the deck, "or would you prefer something else?"

"No, no, dis is fine for now."

This time, Doctor Brown was on the offensive, making numerous attempts to psych her opponent out. Quickly realizing this, Archeville switched his tactics, concentrating on defense and blocking her out.

"Ah! An Ace-high Flush, an Ace, King, Four, Seven -- AK-47 -- and a Two, all Spades," she confidently exclaimed.

"Not bad, Doctor, not bad," he coolly replied, "but my Full House beats you Flush."

He had three Two and two Threes.


"Doktor, are you counting cards?," Dr. Brown asked coyly as she re-shuffled the deck.

It's hard for us not to!

Which is precisely why we don't play.

"Vhy, Doctor," he replied with mock indignation, "are you accusing me of cheating?"

"Well, you do have a keen eye," she went on as she shuffled, "and though you sometimes act the absent-minded professor, I've heard enough stories to suspect you have an amazingly good memory."

"Vell, perhaps I do exaggerate some of mein eccentricities, Doctor, but-" He stopped as she began to deal.

"Three of Clubs... Two of Hearts... Eight of Hearts... Four of Hearts... "

"What? How did you know I have the Two and Four of Hearts?"

"Because you are correct: I haff been counting. Shall ve go on?"

Dr. Brown shot Archeville an "I'm not sure I believe you" look, then resumed dealing.

"Two of Spades for me... Three of Spades for you... Ace of Clubs for me... Nine of Diamonds for you... Seven of Clubs for you... und Ten of Clubs for me."

She then began to flip cards face up, steadily going faster, but it did not seem to matter, "Queen of Spades, Five of Diamonds, Nine of Spades, Eight of Clubs, Ten of Spades, Three of Diamonds, Seven of Spades, Six of Diamonds, King of Spades, Jack of Diamonds, Ten of Diamonds, Jack of Spades, King of Clubs, Five of Spades, Jack of Clubs, Eight of Spades, Ten of Hearts, Jack of Hearts, Six of Clubs, Four of Spades, Eight of Diamonds, Queen of Hearts, Five of Clubs, Six of Spades, Ace of Hearts, Ace of Diamonds, Ace of Spades, Seven of Hearts, Two of Diamonds, Nine of Hearts, Five of Hearts, Three of Hearts, Queen of Diamonds, King of Hearts, Queen of Clubs, Two of Clubs, Nine of Clubs, Four of Diamonds, Six of Hearts, King of Diamonds, Seven of Diamonds, und Four of Clubs."

Dr. Brown leaned back in her chair, showing clear signs of surprise.

"Vould you like me to show you dat again, Doctor?" Archeville asked. This time he was the one speaking coyly.

"I... I think so, yes, please."

And he did, twice more.


Are you quite satisfied with yourself?

No, not quite yet. But once we get her- hold on now... I think she's about to do something interesting.

"One more game, Doktor?," Dr. Brown asked as she shuffled the cards again. Her smirk and tone clearly indicated she had something odd up her sleeve.

"Certainly, Doctor Drown. Another game of poker?"

"No, no, this will be more a straightforward card counting game."

"Ah, I see," he replied, tilting his head slightly to one side. "Und does dis particular card game haff a name?"

"Why, yes. Yes, it does."

She paused.

He waited.

"52 pickup."

The cards sprang into the air, landing on the table and floor. All of them landed face-down.

"Ah, so dat's vhat dat extra veight vas for. Interesting."

"Stalling, Herr Doktor?"

"No, no, I... er..." he looked over the splayed out cards, trying to remember which ones landed where. As he pointed and called, Dr. Brown picked up the card, "Three of Clubs... Queen of Clubs... Jack of- no, no, Ace of Spades... Ten of Spades... Three of Diamonds... Seven of Di- wait... no, Eight of Spades..."

"That last one was the Ten of Hearts, Doktor."

Archeville was silent for a moment. He was actually pouting a bit.

"Vell... I never did like card games much, anyvay." He let out a sigh, then his smile was back, "here, let me help you mit dose cards, so ve can get on to de next phase of de testing."

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Dr. Brown nodded her thanks and the two quickly gathered the scattered cards. "Well, now that is finish, we can head over to the lab for your next stage of tests."

Dr. Brown continued to explain the next stage as they walked down the hall. "The next stage will test your inventive streak. We have a number of projects that are releatively in the finishing stages. We have purposely removed key sections that your skills should be able to identify. We would like for you to look over the four items and have you point out what has been removed. Good luck."

Dr. Brown opened the door and let Dr. Archeville proceed her into the area.

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When the door opened, Archeville almost immediately froze. A smile slowly spread across his face, not unlike one a child would have upon entering a candy store.

Muah hah hah hah hah-

-hah hah hah hah hah!!

He was silent as he walked around, looking over the technological bounty before him. The dozens of partially-completed projects all sent his mind spinning as he tried to work out not only how to complete them, but how to alter or combine them in new and innovative ways.

Suddenly, he whirled around and faced Dr. Brown, "Ah-HA! I know precisely vhat I shall create, und I do believe you haff everything here dat I need!"

He flew over to one group of workstations, which held an assortment of metal plates for testing; some were standard alloys, but most were new and experimental alloys. "Ja ja, dese should do nicely. But I vill also need...." he looked around and zipped off to two other stations, and brought back what looked like a mannequin and a bolt of cloth. A tag on one end of the cloth bolt indicated that is was a new insulator fabric, a sort of "armored spandex."

Archeville worked with amazing speed, using his near-magical Electromagnetic Screwdriver to cut and join the cloth and to shape the pieces of metal around the mannequin. In surprisingly little time, the mannequin was wearing a body suit of the fabric, over which were several overlapping plates of blue-gray metal, not unlike a suit of medieval plate armor. At the knees and elbows were small bars, like blunted spikes, and the backs of the gauntlets were noticeably thicker.

"Vell," he finally said, stepping back to take it all in, "not too bad, if I do say so meinself."

He turned back to Dr. Brown, "I shall be creating a 'battlesuit,' dough it shall be an... unconventional von. De first step, of course, was to make de basic suit itself. De Volfram-steel alloy -- er, pardon, tungsten-steel alloy -- plates should give excellent protection, und thinner sheets of a new radiation-blocking alloy under dem should provide protection from environmental radiation hazards. De overlapping plates, und dose protrusions at de knees und elbows, should provide extra protection to de joints und vitals, to mitigate any blows at dose critical areas. De ballistics cloth body suit underneath provides cushioning, und some thermal insulation. Dose same protrusions, und de thicker sections, here, at de gauntlets, shall greatly enhance de force of any blow."

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The laughed at our theories, but we'll show them! Oh, how we'll show them!

Hey! Focus! One thing at a time! Besides, we need to maintain some dignity, so watch it.

As soon as he'd finished the armored suit itself, he took the helmet and began zipping around the room, taking electronic components from assorted workstations. After a few minutes he came back to the armor and began disassembling the pieces he'd acquired.

"Of course, de ding about most suits of armor is dat dey restrict von's vision und hearing, so practically all battlesuits incorporate some manner of sensory enhancement. Mostly straightforvard enhancements, such as nightvision," he held up a pair of nightvision goggles, "or radio frequency monitoring," he held up a few earbuds, "but rarely anyding very exotic. Vhat has surprised me, dough, in mein studies of powered armor, is dat...." He paused a moment as he worked to rack open a GPS unit, "dat most suits do not incorporate any sort of advanced targeting arrays. Few even have a basic GPS, someding available in many automobiles."

He began to wire bits from the assorted electronics into and onto the helmet, and ran some wires down the right arm to a small control panel he installed on the right vambrace (forearm guard). After it appeared he had made half the necessary connections, he stopped, then tore out the components he'd installed in the arm, took them apart, and added them to the helmet with everything else. "I had dought to put de controls for de visual enhancements und radio on de arm, but I dink having dem be controlled by movements of de jaw vould be better. Hands-free, und so on."

He worked a bit more, then suddenly leaped into the air and zipped over to a small grouping of combat training robots, and came back with components salvaged from them, including some small but powerful batteries. These he incorporated into the armor, mostly in the helmet and breastplate but also some in the arms and legs, and after a bit more work switched it on. The optics in the helmet glowed green, and green light seeped out of the overlapping pieces.

"Und dere ve go! Infrared und ultraviolet vision modes vill allow vision in many situations. A radio und GPS for communications monitoring und target tracking. Und de targeting arrays und varning systems from dose combat robots, vired to de heads-up display, vill greatly enhance a vearer's reaction times, in both offensive and defensive modes, at least as long as de target isn't completely invisible."

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And now for some better living through applied chemistry!

Just watch it, we do not need any more acid burns on our hands. Remember, we are not in our laboratory, we do not have access to our own highly advanced medical equipment.

"'But Doktor,' you must be dinking," he was already off again, retrieving surgical tubing, syringes, a few more electronic components (including a portable defibrillator unit), and several dozen bottles, beakers and flasks, "'surely somevon as intelligent und handsome as you knows dat protection und senses alone do not make for a battlesuit What of de physical enhancements?' Vell, Dr. Brown, dat is precisely vhat I am vorking on now!"

Archeville added a few small components to the breastplate and limbs of the armor: medical monitors and automated injectors. He connected the computers for these to the combat computers already in the armor, and connected the drug reservoirs in the auto-injectors to a series of long, flat, semi-flexible containers which were housed on the inside of the back of the armor.

"Rather dan enhance de vearer’s strength und durability via electrical or mechanical systems, dis armor shall use chemical injections. Upon activation -- either manually via controls here und here," he pointed to a small dial on the right wrist and one at the left shoulder, "or via pre-programmed signals form de computer systems, a host of amphetamines, corticosteroids, hormones, neurotransmitters, painkillers, und other stimulants can be flooded into de vearer’s bloodstream via a system of tubes feeding into all major veins. De activation dial determines how high de wearer is amped up, but de complex monitoring system in de armor tracks de wearer’s vitals und determines vhich chemicals to administer. De system can also administer a large selection of antibiotic, antiviral, und clotting agents, and a mini-defibrillator incorporated into de chest plate can deliver a therapeutic dose of electrical energy in the case of cardiac arrhythmia or unsafe tachycardia."

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And now to really wow her!

Be careful, we don't want any of that stuff spilled on us.

Archeville looked over what he had assembled so far, double-checking all connections and monitors. "'But Doktor,' I imagine you are dinking," he said without turning to look at Dr. Brown, "'vhere is de... de flash, de power? How can a vearer contend mit foes at a distance?'"

The Doktor suddenly spun around and let out a truly impressive maniacal laugh, compete with arched back and waving hair.

"Dat is vhat I haff saved for last, Doktor Brown! How many metahumans haff received deir powers from chemical accidents or experiments? Or through some quirk of genetics? Vell, fortunately for de vearer of dis armor, I haff studied many such cases, und have been able to isolate certain formulae dat can be used to grant superpowers, on a temporary basis. Und I know dis facility has everyding I vill need to make several such formulae, including...." He flew over to anther workstation -- one somewhat hidden, off to the side -- and retrieved a large flask from it, "Chimerizine, a key catalyst in many mutagens, vhich vas developed by ASTRO Labs."

Brown's mouth hung slightly open, "how dd you-"

"I consider it mein business to know such dings, Doctor Brown. Just as I consider it mein business to know dat several young metahumans haff come by recently for tests, und you haff samples of deir genetic materials... there!" Again he was off, to another semi-hidden workstation, scooping up vials and other equipment and bringing them back to his workstation.

Archeville added a second set of long, flat, semi-flexible containers to the inside of the back of the suit, and a second set of tubes form them to the auto-injectors. Once the delivery system was set, he worked on mixing several batches of mutagenic agents.

Soon....

"Und dere ve haff it! De second injection system can induce temporary superpowered mutations in de vearer, granting an assortment of attack powers, dough it takes a bit of time to svitch betveen abilities as de old mutagens must be flushed out before new vons can be added. De most basic are four types of blasts: electricity, cold, fire, und intense sonics. Another type of mutagen allows de vearer to secrete semi-viscous emotion-altering biochemical agents, vhich can be hurled at foes, or at allies to deaden any out of control emotions. Another bestows telekinetic abilities; I am setting dis von on a slow, constant 'trickle' to telekinetically enhance de vearer's ability to leap und to handle a fall. Lastly, dere is de ability to generate a swarm of biting, droning insects from de vearer's body, vhich vill surround de vearer und bit und hamper anyvon nearby."

"Yes, dat last von is a bit disgusting. You did vant to see just vhat I could do, Doctor Brown."

"I also tveaked de first chemical injection system a bit. Even vhen not actively boosting a wearer, de drug harness pumps a high-nutrient, high-protein food substitute and low levels of antimicrobials, oxygenated perfluorocarbons, stimulants, temperature regulators, and radiation-chelating agents into de bloodstream."

Archeville closed the suit up, took a few steps back, and looked over his invention. He was beaming like a proud papa.

"Now, let's see, dis ding needs a name. Biological Enhancement Through... Transdermally-Administered Reagents! Ha! I haff built a BETTAR suit of armor!"

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Dr. Brown was truely impressed. "That is extremely impressive, Doctor. We'll have to put it through some tests of its own. But that will have to wait until another time."

Dr. Brown led Dr. Archeville to another section of the institue. "Here, we're going to test out your Belt, put it through its paces. Other than the flight, what else can it do?"

Dr. Brown listened to the abilities that the belt had and she nodded her head. "Okay. We'll test the flight abilities, the force field, teleportation, and immovability of the device. Just let us know which you would like to use first and we can get started. You'll have three attempts to complete the various tasks. Good Luck."

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Pfah! Bring on your 'tests,' we'll fly circles around them!

As a matter of fact, I believe that is exactly what we will be doing.

Archeville watched as part of the room transformed into an obstacle course. He paid special attention to the suspended rings coming down from the ceiling and out from the walls.

He hovered a few inches up, "mein belt's flight capabilities is de simplest functions, so let us test dat out first."

Off he went, through and around various suspended rings, weaving in and out of a line of pillars, and executing barrel rolls and loop-de-loops. Halfway though, he'd begun cackling, as his mood shifted from "semi-serious scientist" to "guy having fun."

He eventually made his way back to Dr. Brown, landing like a gymnast (feet together, arms raised in a Y), then bowed to her.

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I thought we came here to be challenged?

Patinece, you, we will find something, I am sure of it.

Archeville's attention turned to another section of the transforming obstacle course, containing what appeared to be several large (as in "could contain a human") transparent bowls, some on the floor, some suspended open side down from the ceiling, and some set into the walls.

Dr. Brown noticed he was eying that section. "You can use that to test your teleportation function; the 'bowls' close down to form airtight hollow spheres, and they can move about like a shell game."

He nodded, "ahh... ja, dat vill do qvite nicely."

Again he was off, and as he approached the large bowls began to twitch and move towards their mates on the opposite side to form the airtight spheres Dr. Brown described. He hopped into one as it was closing, looking around to see where the other spheres were, then activated his teleport function.

A blue-gray swirl appeared in the air in front of the spheres -- which were slowly moving around the room -- and out of it popped Archeville.

"Ah, I did not expect dem to move once dey closed. Right, let us try dat again."

Another blue-gray swirl swallowed him up as he teleported into another transparent sphere. And from there to another, then another, then another, and then another.

And then he 'ported back to Dr. Brown's side.

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I would've put spikes on the balls. And inside them.

I am sure you would.

Archeville looked to another section of the obstacle course, one filed with assorted gun turrets in the walls.

"Ah, I believe dat is de perfect place to test mein force field."

He flew over, activating his field as he want. As the field sprang up around him, he appeared to glow with a soft blue light... a light which the gun placements suddenly turned and focused on.

Many energy beams slammed into him once he crossed the line marking off the testing area. The first several caught him off-guard, causing him to spin and bump into the walls.

"WHOA!!!"

He soon righted himself, and set down onto the floor. More energy beams trained on him, and his field flickered a bit, but it held up to the barrage. After a moment the beams slowly cut off, one by one, until he was no longer in danger.

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I do believe we need to double-check our gyrostabilizers.

Agreed. And the power conversion readings seems off, too.

That's just residual heat and static from rapid us of the teleport circuitry.

No, this looks different. See, here: the flight and teleportation circuits themselves are fine, but these running to he power source, and thse, to the energy matrix, show signs of deformation.

The energy matrix? Oh, the daka crystal better not have burned out -- you know how long it took to replace the last one! I- hold on... you hear that?

As Archeville had become engrossed in noting some needed or preferred adjustments to his Belt, he was mostly unaware that the fourth part of the test had begun. Mostly , but not completely.

"Vas ist-?!"

A large metal block was rapidly approaching him, shaped vaguely like a gorilla... or a football quarterback. It slammed into him, but a split second before it did, Archeville managed to switch his force field and gavitic anchor (immovability) on.

The metal gorilla was now wrapped around him, the same way a cheap car would wrap around a telephone pole after a sudden impact. Archeville himself seemed unharmed, though a bit shocked.

"Sorry, Doktor!" Dr. Brown called out as she rushed over, "I could swear you had heard me announcing the final part of the test!"

"Dat is..." he began as he stepped back from the warped metal, "dat is alright, Doktor Brown, I should haff been paying closer attention. Still," he paused, then smiled, "it vas an adequate test, ja?"

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Dr. Brown nodded her head. "Yes, it is." She watches as the workers begin to clean up the area.

After a while, Dr. Brown looks at her subject and smiles. "I noticed earlier that you use a very interesting device to help you in the construction of the armor. I think we would like to test the capabilities of your screwdriver, Doctor, see exactly what it can produce."

Dr. Brown leads him to another room. "There are four tasks that needs to be overcomed. Use your screwdriver to solve teh problems. The first part is energy based, the second is physical, while the third is mental. The last part, I'll keep a secret until you get to it. Good Luck."

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Ha! This will be but child's play compared to our last demonstration!

Again, I cannot disagree, but let us not be too haughty.

Archeville approached the test area, and as he did several cameras and other sensors emerged from the walls and trained on him. A moment after a given camera or sensor focused on him, a small read beam shot out from a barrel under it, and the sensor made a beeping sound. When he looked to his left, a large monitor had risen from the floor, and showed the feeds from all the camera and sensors, showing dozens of view of Dr. Archeville, the dozens of red dots being painted on him, and a running tally of the number of times he'd been "hit".

"Ah, it vould seem de object of dis test is to avoid being hit. Or perhaps, it is..." he raised his Gadget and pressed a button, "to avoid being detected."

At first nothing seemed to happen, and the cameras and sensors continued to pain red dots on the Doktor. He began to fly around the test area, forcing the cameras to work a bit to keep track of him, and he continued to press the button on his Gadget. Still nothing happened.

"Mein compliments to whomever designed dese sensors, Doctor Brown!," he called to his tester, "but I do believe dat if I hover... here, den...." he had moved to the exact center of the testing area, and tried his Gadget again. This time something did definitely happen: the cameras and sensors all began looking this way and that, as if unable to find any targets, at all, anywhere.

"Ja, dat is much better. De radio pulse mein Gadget produced vas having some trouble broadcasting through to all of de sensors at vonce -- possibly due to someding in de valls -- but it got through vonce I vas in de center of de area."

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C'mon, c'mon, give us something hard!

Be careful what you wish for...

The cameras and other assorted sensors retracted, and the walls of the test area were soon an apparently seamless whole. Then, more walls began to pop up, hemming in Archeville.

"Ah, dis vould be de physical part, ja?," he called out. "Not mein preferred method of physical interaction..."

He pressed one of the larger buttons on his gadget, and a meter-long beam of humming greenish-purple energy sprang from one end.

"... but it is not something I am a stranger to. Un, ja, ja, I know, dis is hardly original," he said as he cut Doktor-sized holes through the walls, "but a good idea is a good idea."

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We're starting to get rather bored.

Oh, I am sure they'll- oh....

The Swiss cheesed walls slid and retracted away, leaving Archeville in a wide, open area.

"Umm... hello? Vas ist-"

A cacophony and atonal sounds and strobing multicolored lights suddenly hit the scientist from all sides. He knelt down, keeping his eyes down and hunching so as to try and shield his ears with his shoulders and the collar of his lab coat.

"Ah, a visual und aural assault designed to distract me!," he called out, though the sounds drowned him out completely. He struggled to adjust his Electromagnetic Screwdriver into something which would help him resist this assault on his senses, and remembered something he had heard Daedlaus once jury-rigged while facing Lady Lunar. What he could make in this instance would not be as good, but it would be better than nothing.

Archeville soon stood, and on his head was what appeared to be a crown. A closer examination would reveal that it was his Electromagnetic Screwdriver, pulled out into five segments (Still connected by wires running through them) and formed into a circlet. The scientist had a less pained expression on his face, though it was clear the noises and lights still caused some discomfort.

"I vill definitely haff to remember dis von!"

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Alright, I admit, that one was interesting.

That is one word for it, yes.

Ooh, this last one's our choice, right?

... yes...

Bikini Photo Shoot!

... no.

The lights and sounds stopped, and Archeville removed his "crown" and returned it to its traditional wand-like configuration.

"De last von is mein choice, ja?," he called out to Dr. Brown, who nodded. "In dat case, I vould like to fight a robot. A basic von, please, dough I vould prefer a flying robot."

Dr. Brown smiled, and pulled out a remote from one of her lab coat pockets. She pointed it at a wall and pressed a few buttons, and part of the wall slid away, revealing several robots, of assorted shapes and functions, each about the size of a housecat. After she pressed a few more buttons, one droid -- a spherical one dotted with camera lenses and microphones -- rose up and drifted over to Archeville. "It's one of the recording units we use to monitor some our of experiments. We have dozens, so feel free to do whatever you like."

"Oh, dis is perfect! But... vell, it seems to move a bit slow. Can it go any faster?"

"That is precisely why I chose this one, Herr Doktor," Brown replied as she pressed a few more buttons on her remote. "Because it can go... too fast!"

The camera drone suddenly zipped off, knocking things over and bouncing off walls and tables and generally causing chaos.

"Ah, even better!," Archeville exclaimed with some joy as he took off after it. "Dat means I vill haff to time... dis... just... right!"

As he flew after the errant droid, Archeville was adjusting his E.S., which had begun to emit a low hum. He moved to the center of the room and watched the droid as it bounced around, calculating where it would be crossing him. With split-second timing, he activated his newly-configured gadget, which sent out an intense beam of blue-white energy that slammed into the droid, which then fell to the ground and bounced a few times before coming to rest at Dr. Brown's feet.

"Focused electromagnetic pulse," he said as he flew back down. "Fried de flight system. I hope dere vas nothing irreplaceable recorded on dat, because if so, de recording is probably gone, too."

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Dr. Brown clapped as the test finished. "Very impressive, Dr. Archeville. Your screwdriver seems to be very versitile. Add to the fact that your great mind allows you to shape it to any possible situation, you should never have any problems."

Dr. Brown looked over at the walls and shook her head. "We were prepared for that possibility. Any important information has been stored on a secured server off site. We had an intruder recently and we've made a number of upgrades to ensure that it couldn't happen again. We have just one more stage of tests for you to perform, Doctor. If you'd be so kind as to follow me."

Dr. Brown led Dr. Archville to another room, this time with only a chair and table within it. She gestured for the docotr to sit down within the chair. Once he had seated himself, Dr. Brown explained the final stage of tests.

"Dr. Archeville, your mind is your true strength. As such, most villians will target it as an effective form of neutrailizing you. Therefore, as your last stage of tests we will be subjecting you to a variety of psychological stress to give you a better understanding of what you may face. We ask that you not use your scredwriver though to augment your defenses as this test will give you a better understanding of your natural ability. Good luck."

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That doesn't seem to make much sense.

Eh? What are you going on about now?

Our mind is our greatest strength, therefore it's the last thing most would attack. They'd either go for our soft, squishy body-

Which is protected by our potent force field.

... yes, or, they'd try to find some way to turn our devices against us, if not deprive us of them altogether.

True, but most foes who would be using psychological assaults on us are either going to be "Masterminds" or Psychics, and both types tend to lean towards arrogance. So they would attempt mental assaults against us, as they would arrogantly believe they could break us.

True... the fools!

Oh, please. Like you have never tried something similar.

True, but in those cases, we were proven right, because we beat them.

Not all the time. Like our first encounter with Le Bouc.

That... he... there were extenuating circumstances! In fact, it was your do-gooder nature that almost let him go!

Well, yes, because he had used his mental powers to make a little girl think a busy Parisian street was a field of flowers that she should run through! And at least I was doing something more constructive than ogling women!

You saw the way they were dressed, they wanted to be ogled!

That... that is completely beside the point!

No, I'd say that was exactly the point.

"You do not seem to be off to a good start, Herr Doktor," Brown's voice said.

"... vas? I am sorry, vere you-"

"Finishing the first part of your test, yes," she replied.

"Finishing?!," he exclaimed. "But... ve vere just..."

"This," she said as she pulled what looked like a flashing metallic pancake out from under the table, "is a neural scrambler, which generates a field of 'neural static.' And these," she continued as she pulled off her earrings, and showed that they had tiny flesh-colored plastic bits that snaked into her ear canal, "can block the signal the device generates." She put the earrings back on, "you've been sitting there in a fugue state for about 60 seconds."

Archeville's brow furrowed a bit as he thought through what she had told him.

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Dr. Brown placed a large metal box on the table, and undid the series fo complex latches on it. Opening it revealed a large orb made from an eerie green stone inside. At first glance it looked smooth and lustrous, like pearl, but a closer look revealed a series of intertwined reptilian figures carved into it.

"This is known as the Basilisk Orb. It was dredged up by a fisherman off the coast of the Caroline Islands in 1376, and it seems to possesses some very... unusual qualities." She took a few steps back, "it emits some manner of mental radiation that has... unpleasant effects on others, though thankfully they can be blocked by a lead alloy."

Archeville was surprised, "Dr. Brown, are you exposing me to some manner of... evil magical artifact?"

"Well... yes. The Albright Institute does dabble in so-called 'magic,' it is a... valid avenue of research."

"Hurm."

"And, I would point out that I'm being exposed, too. And the results have never been fatal, or even long-lasting; they quickly fade one the Orb is put back in its case. So, just look at it for a bit...."

Well, this is pointless. It's a rock!

Yes, but it could be a non-terrestrial one. I don't recognize the material, and it is possible for some types of radiation to affect mental processes.

Or it could just be a placebo, a con, and one of the Institute's kids made it in art class.

Now, now, I hardly think that- whoa! Did you see that?

See what? I-

The Basilisk Orb did indeed work its fell power on Archeville, showing him visions of squamaous things, madness and amorphity in motion, whose very forms defied rationality and the sight of which twisted perceptions and minds, things whose very existence is simply wrong. Sharpened bills and hooks slid in and out of view, razor-scaled carapaces hardened and melted without warning, vents opened and closed to spew sticky acidic goo or flaming mucus, and other noise sights besieged him.

Get a hold of yourself, man, we've seen worse!

Wha... what? How can you sa-

Remember our alternate self we saw a month ago?!

I don't se- oh. Yes. Right.

Archeville slowly stood, reached over to the Orb, and closed the box over it. "I believe... ve are done mit dis part."

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I will admit, that one was a bit of a surprise.

Indeed so. Which makes me even more curious as to what she will bring out for the third and fourth pats of this test.

Well, it can't be much worse tha- ARGH!

AUGH!

Archeville suddenly gripped his head in pain, and a bit of blood trickled from his nose and ears. Looking around frantically, he saw no source of the assault; even Dr. Brown had disappeared.

"Vas... vas ist? Alright, I know a mental blast vhen I feel von, but vhere is it coming from?!"

A section of wall slid back, revealing Dr. Brown and... a brain in a glass dome with wires sticking out of it?

"Sorry for that bit of duplicity, Herr Doktor," Brown said somewhat apologetically (and somewhat mischievously), "but this did seem an ideal way to test this device, 'killing two birds with one stone.' And, no, that's not a real brain: the whole thing is completely artificial. And rather clunky."

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