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Electra

To Boldly Go... (IC)

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Stesha folded the last of her clothes into her duffel bag and zipped it up, singing along with the radio as she carried it into the living room and dropped it on the couch. It had been a bad week, one of the worst, but she was determined to let all that go just for a couple days. They were doing everything that could possibly be done to find Moira, and Ace's reasoning seemed sound when he said that Moira would be safe while she was gone, even if she didn't want to be there. They'd find her, but in the meantime, Moira wouldn't want her to be worried and upset all the time. That was sort of the opposite of the way Moira was. So she'd go, and she'd have a good time, and... well, whatever happened, would happen!

Grinning, she opened the fridge to check on all the food for the cooler Derrick was bringing, deviled eggs, several kinds of sandwiches, a beautiful-looking carrot cake and bottles of wine, juice, and pop. The hamper was already packed, and she was ready to go! A half hour early, perhaps, but it was better to be early than late. She'd dressed down for this excursion, in jean shorts and a blue scoop-neck t-shirt, with her swimsuit on under it. The straps showed, but at least they matched. Her hair was plaited down her back for swimming, and the whole outfit topped off with a fanciful daisy-chain wreath of gardenias. They reminded her of the first date, and that had to be lucky.

With nothing left to do, she sat down crosslegged on the couch and waited, watching Felix the Cat's tail twitch back and forth on the wall. Almost time now!

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Dark Star floated down to her door promptly on time, maybe a minute or two early. He was eager of course, but he didn't want to be rude and show up a early. Like two hours early. He'd had to deliberately find something else to do, flown out system for a bit as well. He'd resisted the urge to open a portal to the planet to check it again. But he'd already been there and set a few things up.

But here he was, concealed and floating outside her door. He reached out and gave a gentle telekinetic rap on her front door to be polite. He waited a moment before phasing through the door. He stopped just inside the entryway to wait. "Stesha? It's Dark...I mean it's Derrick." He so seldom thought of himself as anything but Dark Star. Derrick barely even existed anymore. Outside of his sister-in-law and her kids and now for Stesha, he didn't. Though, since meeting Stesha, Derrick seemed to around a lot more. Dark Star hadn't spent this much time as Derrick since before he became Dark Star. He enjoyed spending time with her more than almost anything he could ever recall as Derrick.

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Stesha bounced off the couch and was at the door in seconds. "Hi!" she told him, letting him in. She'd been hoping, a little, that he'd have come to the door solid so she could give him a kiss before they got going, but that probably would've been a waste of energy for him. Oh well, they had all weekend. "I'm all ready to get going, whenever you are... um, where's the cooler?" It belatedly occurred to her that a teleporter could probably move things like coolers whenever he wanted to, but she wasn't sure what to do with the cold food now.

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Even though his empty face really had no expression, he couldn't help but smile at seeing her. "I have it waiting, though it isn't exactly a regular cooler. More like a small refrigerator. I figured we'd only want to move things once and I didn't want anything to go bad." He took a moment and focused, opening a small portal into another room. He reached through and caused a large electrical cooler to float through to them. After it passed into her room, he let the portal close. The cooler was sizeable, probably large enough to hold almost a week's worth of food if necessary. "Once we get it there, it'll be able to stay cool despite the weather for however long we need. It''s already chilled as well, to make it easier. Soon as we fill it, we can get going. My belongings are already there."

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"Oh, neat!" Stesha exclaimed, giving the cooler a looking-over. "You can be on my desert island anytime," she told him. "Of course, the whole exercise is sort of futile if you imagine you could escape whenever you wanted." Going to the refrigerator, she began gathering up the piles of supplies and loading them into the cooler. There wasn't quite enough to fill it up, but for someone who didn't actually need to eat, she'd paid a lot of attention to the refreshments. That didn't take long, and soon the hamper and the duffel bag joined the cooler on the floor, ready for vacation. "Okay, that's everything, and I already watered the plants, so they'll be fine for a couple of days. Ready when you are."

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He nodded, clearing his through. "Before we go, I wanted to say, that you, uh, look lovely." Of course, he tended to think that regardless of her attire. Whether it was the formal and amazing dress she had on for their first date or a simple short and t-shirt, he thought she looked great. Of course seeing the straps for her hidden bathing suit was a little distracting as well, but he soldiered on! The sooner they got there and all that...

"Right... And we're off then. The system is approximately 27 or 28 thousands light years from here, I don't recall exactly how much off the top of my head. I can find out easily enough I suppose if you really care. It's a twin star system. The planet is a 30 hour rotation or so. Most of it daylight effectively. The planet is mostly water. There is some salt in it of course, but practically none. More like a ridiculous large lake than an ocean really. All land forms are small archipelago-like islands range in size. Biggest might be the size of the state of Rhode Island I suppose. The one we're headed to is almost the size of Long Island. There are some life forms of course. Fish, mammals, some insects and the like. But nothing is harmful or dangerous. The weather and tides are rather mild though I think there may be periodic heavy storm seasons at some point. Not any time soon of course. It's probably rather..." He realized he was rambling on there and brought himself up short.

He offered a weak chuckle before focusing once more. This took a little more effort considering the distance. But a few moments later, a portal opened in her foyer to another world. Through the portal could be seen a long pristine beech and miles upon miles of crystal blue water...

He gestured towards the portal as he mentally lifted the cooler and the bags. "After you. Your vacation awaits."

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Stesha looked through the portal with the expression of a little girl who'd just gotten exactly what she wanted for Christmas. "It's so beautiful," she told him, "I can't wait!" Without hesitation, she jumped through the portal, her feet landing in the white sand with a soft paf sound. "And it's warm, and it smells like water!" The air itself was a little intoxicating, without a hint of pollution anywhere, and a cool breeze blowing in off the water. She did a little twirl in the sand before turning to him and urging him through. "Come on, it's wonderful!" It was impossible to conceptualize that he was actually twenty-seven thousand light years away, so she just ignored that.

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He chuckled and floated through, letting it close behind them. The weather was warm, even warming than Freedom City, but then they were in the more tropical zone. Regardless, the constant ocean breeze made it pleasant. "I'm glad you like it," he said, happy she was happy.

He turned and moved up the beach, 'inland' to where he'd taken the time to set up a few things. A large pavilion tent, with screen sidings to let the ocean breeze sweep through was already erected. It was large enough that it could be sectioned off into multiple 'rooms' though those sections were currently retracted. There were two queen sized cots with air mattresses already laid out. He had hemmed and hawed over that one for days. It had been more than enough to make him nervous, anxious and eager all at once. He hadn't wanted to presume though he had hopes... But eventually, he went for manners and set both up in separate sections so they could be screened off if necessary. There were a couple folding tables and chairs. Under it all, there was actually a thick, but rather cheap, rug to give it all some support. Just beyond that was a smaller tent with a temporary sink and a big container of water set up as well as portable bathroom. A long, long extension cord could barely be seen heading off into the trees. Leaning off to one side of the tends were some towels, folding chairs, large umbrellas and a few other things necessary for fun at the beech. He had tried to make sure everything they could need was covered; in spades.

"I'll just go set this up. Why don't you relax and enjoy yourself? Or feel free to look around and wander."

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Stesha was surprised to see the whole cabana he'd set up for this little trip, she'd expected maybe a tent on the beach, but this... "Wow!" she said again, ducking in to look at everything. "You really went to a lot of work to set all this up. It's amazing. Thank you!" She collected her duffel bag and dropped it on one of the beds, not commenting on the sleeping situation at all for the moment. "I'll help you set up, we'll both kill some time while you're powering down, and then we can go exploring together," she offered.

While she wasn't anywhere near as strong as Derrick in his superhero mien, she could set up a campsite as well as anyone, and most of the work here was done already. Stesha concentrated on the food, making sure that everything that needed cooling was tucked away, and the rest was off the ground and away from any opportunistic bugs or small animals. "It's all so beautiful," she said again, looking out over the blue water. "And nobody lives here?"

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Dark Star nodded. "You're most welcome. I suppose I could have gone a bit simpler. It's only a moment to head back after all. But I just wanted to make sure everything we could want was already here. That all we had to do was relax and enjoy it all. I set up the solar panel bank off in the woods a bit. With the sun and the panel size, it'll provide all the electricity we need without a problem. I even made to have cooking materials if we wanted. Whether over a fire or a little camp stove I brought." He gestured as he spoke, moving things with his powers to speed the process up. In no time, they were 'settled in'.

He shook his head. "We're all the way out on the Rim. Not a lot out this way, spaceship and empires-wise. The planet is empty. Near as I can tell, the system hasn't even been visited by any starfaring race in quite some time, if ever. It was likely explored or charted but that's about it. Near as I can figure, the closest sentient being is about 50 to 60 light years away. Roughly anyway."

"Are you hungry? Can I get you anything? You don't have to wait here for me you know. I'm certain you're eager to move around, especially in all the sunlight."

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Stesha laughed. "I want to explore," she admitted, "but I want to do it with you. I don't mind waiting." Even though it would mean fixing it again later, she gave into temptation and unfastened her hair, shaking it out of its braid to let it take in the sun. It was oddly striped, light and dark green like mixed foliage, for a few moments before all of it settled the same uniform rich green. Unfolding a lounge chair, she settled in on the edge of the sand, tipping her face up towards the light. "Best vacation spot ever, hands down." When she stretched to put her hands behind her head, she revealed that her swimsuit was obviously a two-piece number, but that was okay too.

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He watched her settle down with a smile. "It certainly is amazing." He wasn't particularly looking at the planetary scenery of course; more the recent addition to it. He gestured using his powers, setting up a second chair beside hers as well as an umbrella, though that he left closed. Then he backed up a little ways and started concentrating. Focus was something he still required to change, and staring at Stesha was not a great way to accomplish that.

A mere ten minutes later, he stepped up next to her, offering her a cool glass of water thanks to the elaborite setup. "Thirsty?" he asked with a smile.

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Stesha startled a little bit to see him walk up in his human form, but recovered quickly. Rising, she took the glass of water, then leaned in to kiss him, putting a hand behind his neck to bring him into reach. "That was really fast," she remarked with obvious pleasure. "And you look great. Ready to go exploring, or do you want to rest up a little bit after changing?" Letting go of his neck, she squeezed his hand again, obviously pleased to have him back in a form she could see and touch.

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Derrick smiled and helped her up. "I've been practicing." In truth, before now, he'd had little desire to practice at all. Being human had little appeal before meeting Stesha. He let the kiss linger, enjoying the sensation and just the contact. It was amazing how much he missed that when he thought about it. "Nice to see you too."

He shook his head. "I'm fine." He had planned ahead, and was already wearing a t-shirt, bathing suit and a pair of new sandals. Most of his clothes were new really; he hardly needed them after all. He gave her hand a slight. "We can explore away. No real mountains on this island, but some rises and good hills back a ways. Or we could walk the beech. Think there's a rocky side with tiny cliff off that way," he said pointing.

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"Let's walk on the beach," Stesha decided, keeping her hand in his and shedding her sandals to go barefoot. "Then we can jump in the water if we get hot." She could've gone for the water right away, but it seemed a shame not to investigate at least a little of the first alien planet she'd ever been on. The sand was soft under her feet, feeling much like beaches she'd walked on before, for all that the air didn't smell nearly as much of salt.

As they walked, she paused occasionally to pick up and admire seashells and bits of strange rocks that had washed up on the shore. Pulling one of the gardenias from her hair, she started putting the things she collected into the cup of the flower, where they were obligingly swallowed. "You mentioned you had a sister," she said when they'd gone a little ways, out of sight of their camp. "What's she like?"

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Derrick nodded in agreement. "Sounds fine to me." He followed her lead and kicked off his sandals. He happily walked beside her, holding hands, away from their camp. He chuckled lightly at her collection. If someone back on Earth found her little keepsakes, they'd have a rather perplexing and nigh unsolvable mystery on their hands.

He gave a little shake of his head. "Sister-in-law, but close enough. She has done wonders raising her two kids alone while holding down a full time job as a computer support in one of those large corporations. She's a good person. Works hard, tries to help and do the right thing even at her own expense. I wonder where she has time to do it all, get enough sleep, and still stay sane." She was really the reason he had even become human on a semi-regular basis once he'd returned. Outside of Stesha, his sister-in-law and her kids were his only real connection to being human. And he treasured that. It helped keep him grounded, remind him who he was without Dark Star.

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"It's nice that you can spend time with her and give her a hand," Stesha decided, linking her arm through his so both her hands were free to handle seashells. It also brought their bodies close enough to be nearly touching, a nice bonus. "And so the kids have a good male role model. It sounds like their mom's doing a great role model job, but more never hurts." She grinned. "I wonder what they'd think if they knew you were really a superhero. Your sister would probably be a little flabbergasted, but I bet the kids would think it was cool."

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He nodded. "I try to make time to help. Most of the money I get from the SCC gets transferred to her. And I take the kids a day or two when I can so she has some down time." He was slightly distracted by the rather close proximity. He could practically feel the warmth of her body despite the warm sun. At least this topic gave him something to focus on when she bent down to ...do something. FOCUS. "Actually, she knows. I told her shortly after I came back. I had to explain after all. The kids know something is up but I haven't said anything. They are still teenagers. Maybe in a few year we'll tell them."

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"That's nice," Stesha said, a little wistfully. "That she knows, I mean, and it isn't a big secret. Though maybe you should tell the kids now," she added with a smile, "so they're still young enough to think it's very cool. Did she take it well when you told her the truth?" she asked, turning a multicolored seashell over in her hands. "Was she upset or anything like that? She must've been glad just to see you alive again, after all that time."

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"I worry more that they might let it slip. As Dark Star, I seem to have made a few enemies along the way since my return. I worry that they would be a target if the kids let it slip. Maybe in a few more years when they are in they towards the end of their teenage years and more aware."

Her next question certainly focused him away from her tantalizing presence and brought some unpleasant thoughts to the fore. There was a rather lengthy pause before he replied again. This wasn't exactly his favorite memory. "No, she was most certainly not happy to see me. I barely knew her back before I changed. She had only been with my brother a little while. I think they might have just gotten engaged. He'd been dead for 6 years by the time I returned. He'd been sick for almost 5 years before that; he fought the cancer to the very last. Lived far longer than the doctors said he would. My brother was always a fighter; right till the end. " He sighed. "Anyway, it didn't help when I told her everything. She was particularly angry when I told her about the fact that I got 'distracted' and could have been back so much sooner. I could have healed him if that had happened." He shrugged, bringing him back to the present. "Eventually, she forgave me. I think she's glad to see me now and grateful for my help."

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"I'm sorry," Stesha told him softly, touching his cheek with her fingertips. "That must have been hard for both of you. I think it's hard for anyone who hasn't been outside of everything people think of as normal to understand how much goes on, and how much there is to think about. I mean, I only have the smallest glimpse myself, really. I'm sure your brother is grateful, wherever he is, that you're back now and able to help. Nobody can say what might have happened, but you're doing the best you can now. That's important." Impulsively, she reached out and gave him a hug, because it seemed like he could use it, and she could too. It was a very sad reminder of how this sort of work could pull you away from what had been most important before.

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He shrugged. "It's alright. She was right to be mad. But it's in past. You're probably right. Most people don't really know. And I think they are happier that way really. They just wish to be safe and know that someone is taking care of the problems." He nodded, a little smile on his face as he was hugged. "Thank you. I'm ok. And I didn't mean to depress the start of our weekend. But you asked." Sometimes telling the truth was a little more unpleasant than others. Still necessary though.

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She looked up and smiled at him, her arms still looped around his waist. "I did ask," she agreed. "I want to know more about you, even if some of it is sad. But I'm glad you've been able to work it out." She still felt a little bit of unease, not so much for his situation as about her worries with the secrets she kept from her own family, but for now she could push those aside. All those worries were, literally, a million miles away for the moment. "Want to go in the water?" she asked.

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He bent forward to place a light kiss on her lips. "Me too. Otherwise, among other things, I would never would have met you." He nodded, refocusing once more on his girlfriend and everything that went with that title. "I'd love to. I'm not what you call a strong swimmer. It's been a while. But I'm willing if you are." Of course, he'd probably risk drowning from stumbling once he was that close to the scantily clad woman. He was so much smoother as Dark Star. That detachment from the physical came in handy sometimes. He didn't have to worry about things like this. Not that he'd change to Dark Star for anything short of the planet blowing up. And then the planet would have to be blowing up right now. Otherwise, it could wait a little while...

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"Me neither," she told him with a laugh, sliding her fingers through his hair and behind his ear once before disengaging and stepping away to pull off her clothes. "I'm from Chicago, after all. But the water's so clear and blue, it has to be shallow for quite a ways. We'll just wade, and dig out the snorkeling stuff later." She tugged her t-shirt over her head and slid out of her shorts, leaving both puddled in the sand while she straightened the small mess the movement had made of her hair.

Her swimsuit was blue and green, as promised, an abbreviated tank top that revealed everything from ribs to navel before the bottom part started up. Stesha was all too aware she didn't have a model's physique, or a superheroine's for that matter, but if she ever planned to show him, well, everything, might as well start with the tummy and thighs. For all that the saleswoman had assured her that the curves she was showing were exactly the right ones in the right places, she wasn't entirely reassured. She released her hair and let it fall loose down her back, past her waist, and stepped towards the water, sneaking a glance over Derrick's way to see what he thought. She'd spent hours picking out the wretched thing, so she hoped he appreciated it.

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