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Electra

Creative Destruction (IC)

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Erin fidgeted as she leaned against the wall outside the Doom Room, clad in her blue and gold training uniform. She'd come way too early for her training session today, intending to sit down and finish up some of the papers she was behind on since the trip to Erde, but her mind kept wandering. Maybe because it was the end of summer and she knew she wasn't going to have to keep this punishing schedule much longer (at least the school year would be a different punishing schedule!) Maybe it was because she was worried about the session itself, because today's session was a joint training session with Mike. Neither of them were actually hostile to each other after the harsh things they'd both said during the last training they'd done together, but there was a definite aura of things left unsaid between them.

Mr. Archer walked by, giving her a nod as he went into the room to program the simulation. She jerked her head in return, saving the glare for when the door was safely shut between them. She wasn't looking forward to seeing what was planned for them today, but surely it couldn't be any weirder than the training she'd done with Mark. It was just a matter of the company. Erin wondered if she should apologize, just get the whole thing out of the way. Even if what she'd said had been true, it had been just as out of line as anything he'd said about her.

When she really dug down and admitted it to herself, she knew she wouldn't have said anything if his comments hadn't touched a spot that was already raw. What if some part of her really was hardwired to kill, and she couldn't or wouldn't stop it? She'd been working so hard for months now, and yet she still couldn't really control herself when the critical moment came. If he was right, and some part of her was doing it because she really wanted to, even after all this time, then the whole thing was a waste, and she might as well go back where she'd come from. But she wasn't going to think that way, she reminded herself. She was getting better, and going to get better, and he just didn't understand. If she didn't want to talk about it, she couldn't blame him for not understanding. Or at least, she shouldn't. She drummed her fingers against the wall, waiting.

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Mike nervously rode the elevator down to the Doom Room. Joint training had been going fairly well for the team and with everyone else there it was easy to not worry about the continued tension between him and Erin, However today it would be just the two of them. None of Eddie and Chris' wisecracks to break the tension, or Alexs gentle support, or even Marks cheesey speeches on teamwork. Just the most social maladjusted team members trying to to work together. Maybe she was right and Archer was just a sadist.

Mike shook off that line of thought and resolved to make this work, he had said things that aparently hurt her feelings though even after Alexs explanation he wasn't sure how exactly. Erin always seemed so strong and sure of herself the idea that anything he said would really matter that much was hard to wrap his head around. He had appologized before the action had started up on Erde and that had gone pretty well. 'Just remember like Alex said no qualified apologies that'll make it worse.' he reminded himself as he walked down the long hall towards the Doom Room.

Reaching the door he caught sight of Erin waiting outside, "Hey Erin." He said nervously, suddenly not sure he should even bring it up again. That was all the more reason to bring it up, like his dad always said nothing worth doing was easy.

He struggled for a moment with the right words before setteling on starting with the appology again, with a deep breath he spoke, "Sorry again about the last session, I lost my temper a bit and said some stuff I shouldn't have."

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Erin straightened up at the first sound of footsteps in the long hallway, looking over to see Mike approaching at his customary slumping lope. She watched him approach, ignoring her brain's usual burst of chatter about how he was bigger than she was and very strong, and the best way to incapacitate him and make her escape from this underground tomb. At least ignoring those particular reflexes was getting a lot easier after a year around people who mostly didn't want to kill her. She clasped her hands behind her back as he made his apology, and tried to think of what to say in return.

"It's okay," she finally told him, after a moment's uncomfortable silence. "I shouldn't have said the things I said either. I know you're not a coward, and if you've got issues you need to sort out, I've certainly got enough myself." She smiled, a little weakly, but it was an effort. "We've both got enough people giving us advice about how to run our lives, I'm pretty sure."

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Mike laughed softly, "Yea deffinately," he replied shaking his head. "Chris and Eddie have jumped in with all sorts of advice." He frowned slightly, "Solicited and otherwise. Well I guess its like my dad used to say, opinions are like..." He cut off and coughed slightly remembering he was in mixed company, "Nevermind."

He offered a weak smile, "I did mean one thing I said." He held up a hand so he could finish before she got too upset, "You can do it, it might take awhile, but you'll get the hang of it, holding back when you need to ya know? And if you want help..." He left off the rest of the offer assuming she would know he was willing to give it a more civil go whenever she was ready.

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Erin bit back the automatic impulse to make a caustic response, mainly because it really seemed like he meant it. Even if she didn't think he'd be able to help, the impulse to help wasn't something to just shoot down because it made her feel uncomfortable. "I've got a lot of people helping me on it already," she replied instead. "They've had me working with a simulated weapon in these training scenarios, I don't know if it's a prototype or just some kind of reminder tool, but it helps some. "And, you know," she added awkwardly, "same goes, if there's anything I can help you with. Mr. Archer's already inside."

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"Thanks," He said, "We'll see how I do in the simulator and then you can give me soem pointers on technique maybe," He smiled weakly adding, "I might lack a bit in the finesse department." The irony of seeking advice on finesse from someone who fought like Erin was completely lost on him however.

Mike shrugged, "Well we gotta get started some time right?" He asked, then under his breath added, "I hate this thing."

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Mr. Archer was ready to greet both kids as they entered the Doom Room, a teacher's smile on his face at the sight of two of his strongest students. "Good morning Wander, Phalanx," he said with a nod. "I'm glad to see you both here today. I actually have two possible programs to run through today and I wanted to see where your interests are. Would you prefer Tokyo or Panama? You'll be running through both programs in your practices with me," he added, "it's just a matter of picking which one you do first."

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Erin looked over at Mike and shrugged. "I don't really care," she said, "I haven't done either of those places in sim yet. Want to do Tokyo first?" She had the idea that Tokyo was definitely the bigger city, with more room to run around and jump above the streets. All she knew about Panama was that there was a canal and a palindrome. "Am I supposed to use that bat thing today, or are we barehanded?"

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"Tokyo sounds fine to me." He said, after all a populated area seemed better training than some jungle.

Mike shrugged, "I mean we'll do em both eventually that seems like as good a start as any." he elaborated. He really mostly wanted to get this done with and get out of here it reminded him too much of hte itesting at hte institute, he didn't like the feeling of being watched and judged he always got in the Doom Room.

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"This one is with whatever weapons you can get your hands on, Wander, though your bat will be included in the simulation. Tokyo it is. I think you both will find this one interesting." He walked off to the doorway of the Doom Room and typed a few instructions into the panel there, the room around them soon rippling and changing as the walls vanished and a new scene swam up before their eyes. They were standing on a massive bridge across what was apparently Tokyo Harbor, the bridge itself nearly deserted and the city behind them very quiet. Both teens had acquired something new; Phalanx a "radio" fastened to his uniform, and Wander her bat at her hip.

Before Wander could have too many flashbacks of dead cities, Mike's radio crackled to life. "Alpha Team! We've succeeded in evacuating the city! Can you see the monster?" Sky and city revealed nothing to their eyes, but when they looked below they saw something in the water. Something gigantic and insectoid, swimming towards the evacuated city. "If you can't subdue the monster, at least drive it away!"

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Wander stared down at the giant creature, furrowing her brow. "Wow... I don't think we want to get into the water with that thing. It looks like it's heading for the city. Can you get us to shore before it arrives, so we don't have to have this fight on the bridge? I don't think Tokyo has a Dr. Metropolis."

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Mike glanced down at Erin with a slight smile, "Definately." He replied as he looped an arm around her waist and shot off towards it's most likely landfall. He accelerated almost instantly to supersonic speeds holding Erin tightly leaving only a rippling contrail to mark their passing.

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Erin held onto his arm as they accelerated, a grip tight enough that it would've been painful if his skin wasn't so tough. Landing in the path of the monster put them on a pier next to the bridge, with abandoned boats tied here and there, rocking gently back and forth with the wake the creature was creating. As soon as she was set down, Erin spun her bat out to full length and looked around for places to jump to. "It looks like a bug," she told Mike, "so it's probably got some kind of armor on it. Go for its eyes and the joints of its limbs, if you can."

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At ground level they could clearly see the oncoming monster as it came at them, a massive wave all on its own with a huge black shape inside. As it reached the docks, a single gigantic leg cast in an eerie, gleaming chitin came up on one side of them, then another on the other. As the great black shape of the monstrous beetle lifting itself out of the water at them, the two teenagers realized they had underestimated its size: this giant bug was over a hundred feet tall! It gave no sign that it had noticed them, heaving itself up and out of the water with an enormous crash, huge drops of salt water dripping off its chitinous skin as it moved past them over and towards the city.

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As the monster reached land, Erin moved instantly. "Now, go!" She ran a few steps and leapt, a superhuman jump that carried her up onto the giant creature's chitinous leg. With a grunt of effort, she slammed the long bat against the joint of leg and body, doing her best to cripple the thing before it could reach the city! Her aim was true, striking the thing exactly where leg met body.

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Seeing the joint strike was apparently ineffective Phalanx flew up and tried to get a clear shot at the eye hopeing to meet with more success. The creature was fast for its size however and he wasn't able to land a solid blow. He zipped back and forth weaving towards the head to no avail.

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Wander brought the bat down in an arc, swinging it so hard that something very peculiar happened. The giant monster's leg came apart with a sudden shriek of white noise, the breaking leg suddenly matched by a breaking world as the scenery behind it came apart with a shriek of noise and a flash of light. As Mike flew in the air, he could see the simulation coming apart in pieces, the walls of the Doom Room visible all around them. The monster disappeared first, followed by the Tokyo all around them, the simulation fading in an all-encompassing burst of light and noise that ended with the two of them on the floor. The only real change from earlier was that Wander still had her bat, and Mike still had his radio. Over by the door, a highly annoyed Mr. Archer was tapping at the panel in front of him.

"Oh, for the love of..." He turned an annoyed look on his students. "Sorry about this. It looks like this thing has blue-screened, and I don't know how to fix it. I didn't even think this thing was supposed to blue-screen. I'm calling Ms. Harcourt now." Muttering to himself about techies, he took out his cell phone and was soon in a conversation with the school's science teacher about programming errors and syntaxtical misfilings that neither Erin nor Mike were quite tech-savvy enough to follow.

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Erin rolled to her feet immediately, still clutching the bat. She looked at it oddly, gave it a little shake. "Huh. I thought this thing was supposed to be fake." She hit the button that collapsed it, then looked over at Mike. "You okay?" she asked. Her ears were still ringing a little from the shrieking of overtaxed circuitry, but a little fall wasn't enough to faze her.

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Mike lowered easily to the floor with a shrug, "Well other than the irrefutable proof I can't hit the broadside of a glitching barn I'm fine." He said with a chagrinned smile.

"Looks like Mark isn't the only one who can break this thing huh?" He joked about the sims failure right as she clubbed the creature.

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With no action in the offing, Erin relaxed from her crouch to sit crosslegged, clipping the bat to her belt. "I'd like to think so," she said with a half-smile. "I've hit as hard as that before and never managed to break the place, though. Maybe it was both of us attacking at once, and it felt like you whiffed because the simulation was falling apart. Maybe we'll get an automatic pass if they can't fix it." She rested her hands on her knees and watched Mr. Archer work with some satisfaction.

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About the time Mike and Erin were getting exceptionally restive, an exasperated Mr. Archer hung up his phone and sighed. "Well, guys, I'm sorry, but it looks like the Tokyo program has been corrupted beyond repair. I'll have to bring in someone to fix it. Take a couple of minutes to stretch, and we'll start up the Panama program. That one still looks protected." He went back to work typing away, the simulation around Mike and Erin appearing with noticeable slowness this time. Once again they were over water, this time standing on the deck of a truly massive freighter as it plowed across a massive green lake, jungles visible on either side of them. "This'll be just a couple of minutes, Phalanx and Wander."

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Mike looked at Erin skeptically, "Thanks but I'm pretty sure I just need to pick up a few more tricks than charge at max speed and hope its still there when I get there." He said with a self depricating grin.

He looked around consideringly as the new surroundings phased in around them.

"Huh," Mike remarked, "Must be the canal."

He took a moment to admire the scenery, "Well it is pretty at least." he said gesturing to the view.

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"Yeah," Erin agreed, standing up and unclipping the bat from her belt, but not deploying it just yet. "This place might be fun if every exotic location wasn't just the scenery for fighting monsters." She kept a close eye on the water, half-expecting to see the same giant insect monster coming at them. "Whatever it is, our best strategy is probably going to be to try and get out of the boat and away from the water, if it'll follow us. We'd get in trouble for breaking the Panama Canal."

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"Why not go now?" Mike asked. "I mean we have no reason to be on the boat we can take a quick spin soo if we can see whats coming ahed of time this time around?"

Mike stuck out a hand to hoist her up with him if she agreed.

"Besides," He said with a mischevious smile, "Why play the game their way?"

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Erin thought about that for a moment. "Yeah, sure, why not?" she agreed. "We can get the lay of the land, and if anything's coming, maybe we'll see it sooner." She took his hand, bracing for the quick stomach-turning swoop of accelerating to supersonic velocity. "And with these simulations, seems like being on a boat only means you're a hundred yards from a waterfall, anyway."

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