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Electra

Out With the Old (IC)

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The morning after her date with Mike, Erin was up early, as usual. It was a weekend, so there was no class, and this was an off-weekend for group training, so it was practically a free day. She went out and exercised for a few hours, then came back to the room and did her homework. After that... she was bored. That was a weird sensation, given how busy she'd been all summer. She didn't like it. And though she could always go and do more training, or study ahead in one of her classes, that sounded even more dull.

She was sitting on her bunk with her legs crossed, trying to decide what to do with herself for the rest of the day when Alex came in. "I'm bored," she told Alex, sounding a bit disbelieving about it. "What are you doing today?"

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"Cleaning out the HQ. It's covered with grime and I don't want Granpa to try and do it all himself. I can help with the heavy lifting after all." Alex said with a grin as she released her textbooks to juggle them telekinetically, "Wanna come?"

As she spoke, she gestured for the books to fly over to her desk and began stripping out of her good clothes and pulling on some very faded (for Alex) old work clothes.

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"Sure," Erin agreed. "I'm good at heavy lifting. It'll be interesting to see more of how the place is set up, anyway." She waited till the books were finished flying, then went to her closet as well. None of her clothes were expendable, but the patched jeans from the fight at the baseball stadium and the badly stained shirt she'd worn on her trip to Erde were at least unlikely to get more disreputable. She changed her clothes quickly and tied her hair back with an elastic. "You flying out this time?"

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"Nope, I've got the prototype to test out." Alex said proudly and lifted up the hem of her shirt to show off the shiny F-shaped buckle on her jeans. "Granpa's pretty sure that the ol' teleporter's running again and this is the first beacon. I should be able to activate it and 'port right onto the pannel. Want to ride along?"

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"Uh, sure," Erin said, a little uncertainly. "At least if we wind up somewhere weird, we'll both be in the same place." After the last time she'd been teleported, she was a little leery of the wisdom of this idea, but it would be convenient if it worked. She took a couple of steps closer to Alex. "How's it supposed to work?"

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"Interdimensional particle physics. Fifth dimension stuff." She explained cheerfully, completely misunderstanding Erin's question. Alex looped an arm through Erins and set her fingers on the belt buckle as she chirped. "Two to beam up!"

There was a twisting sensation and the girls landed on what did look something like the teleporter from Star Trek although a little dusty. It certainly had sixties sci-fi written all over it, but of course this actually worked. Alex reached out to brace herself as she reoriented her senses, and cheerfully called out, "It's still kicking at the last minute, Granpa. I think the fourth coil's still surging on the re-intigration. You okay, Erin?"

They were standing in the base proper. The manor above was a gently aging sprawling house but below it was all very dusty sixties sci-fi. It was more cluttered than the last time they'd been through as Alex's grandfather was clearly puttering through trying to get the base back in heroing order. The place was huge enough that it was going to take more than a weekend or two to fix everything up.

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Erin blinked a couple of times, getting her bearings, then nodded. "Looks like it worked. Hi, Mr. Caldwell," she added politely to Alex's grandfather. It still looked a lot like a movie set to her, and it was hard to accept that everything worked, or was supposed to work, anyway, but the teleporter seemed to be functioning at least. "What can we do to help?"

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"Hello, Erin. Good to see you," Kevin Caldwell was a robust man still although his hair had long ago faded to pure white from its one time red. "I think we're going through storage today. I'm hoping the two of you can help me find a replacement coil."

His weathered face creased into a smile as he ruffled Alex's hair and gestured vaguely to one of the manor's many underground storage rooms to start in. Several decades of superheroing apparently led to a lot of stuff accumulating.

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"Um, okay," Erin said, looking to Alex to see if she had a clue what he was talking about. "We can probably find one, if you tell us what it looks like. Or I could clean some stuff up for you or something like that..." She'd done her time as a gofer monkey for a superscientist, but that didn't mean she didn't feel more comfortable hauling things around and wielding a dustrag. If you weren't careful enough with those technical doohickeys, half the time you could break whatever it was you'd been trying to find in the first place.

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"Don't worry, I know what it looks like," Alex said with a smile as her grandfather went back to banging on the teleporter. Apparently he shared some of Chris's fondness for percussive maintance. Alex scrambled over some of the debris and pressed her palm against the pad by the door which opened with a soft whoosh of air.

Inside the storage bay there were the remains of what had obviously been neatly organized storage but now the shelf units had no real rhyme or reason to their contents. Alex sighed and rolled her sleeves up, "Lets empty it all out, clean it down and then we'll have a place to put everything."

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Erin nodded at that, digging around until she found a couple of empty cartons to start loading things into. She was a very, very fast cleaner, if not a totally precise one, moving far faster than a normal person as she began taking things down off the shelves and wiping away a few decades of dust. She stopped for a moment to play with a pair of binoculars she found, holding them to her eyes and pointing them Alex's way. "So all this stuff was your mom's and your grandpa's, and it's just been sitting here?"

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"Kinda." Alex agreed as she fiddled with some cylindrical device, trying to see if it still had power, "Granpa was a bit of a techie. I mean, he started with making his own trick arrows and then it just sort of evolved from there. It was more of a do-it-yourself thing when he started. So when he came accross something that might prove useful later on, he kept it. He's a packrat that had access to neater stuff than most. Instead of old newspapers, he's got gadgets."

Alex finally found the on switch and the device petalled open. Quickly she depressed the center button and closed it up again, putting it in the smaller pile of 'still does stuff'.

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Erin leaned away reflexively when the device opened, having learned a healthy respect for super-gadgets in her travels. "Why doesn't he still do it?" she asked. "I think there are still heroes out there using bow and arrow, even, and practically every hero has a couple of little trick devices. If he could make them, he'd probably be in big demand, right?" She set the binoculars aside and shinnied up the side of one of the shelving units, attacking it with a rag as she went.

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"I think it has to do with my mom walking away. I kinda get the impression that she left when my granma died and granpa hasn't touched any of this since. Well, till now." Alex said with a small smile. She was continuing to sort through things, looking for the aforementioned coil.

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"He seemed pretty happy to be down here today," Erin observed, tossing a couple of odds and ends down from the high shelves to Alex. "Maybe now that you're taking up the hero thing, he'll start up on it all again. What do your parents think about all of it?" she asked, pausing again to look at a device that, against all odds, still had a glowing energy light on it after all this time. Curious, she pressed the button, and was rewarded with a substantial shock. She jolted, then set the thing aside, shaking out her hand and arm.

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"You okay?" Alex asked with concern. Once she was sure that Erin was fine, she answered her friend's question with a calm, "I haven't informed them of my time with Granpa. My mother's not yet emotionally ready to face her father. It would only further the rift. Once I'm more certain that her reaction will be less reactive, I'll let her know the current situation. She's still processing my own super hero activities."

Alex carefully cracked open the case that had jolted Erin and with triumph removed a blue glowing coil, "This might work, I think. Mother has a lot of unresolved hostility over her own mother's death and that makes it very difficult to face the world with any real objectivity about these things."

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"Uh-huh..." A few months of day-to-day living with Alex had taught Erin a couple of things about her roommate. Alex always talked like someone about ten years older than she actually was, but when she veered off into the truly didactic, it was usually because she didn't want to talk about something and didn't want to admit to not wanting to talk about it. Erin could respect that, even if she didn't always even understand what Alex was going on about when she got like that. "So what do we need the coil for, anyway?"

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"The teleporter runs off of several of these coils. They've got some sort of fission reaction in them from what I gather. The fourth coil though is a little quirky and Grandpa's worried it could blow if we ever really taxed the machine." Alex explained as she slipped the coil into something that looked a lot like a thermos for safe-keeping. "But he doesn't have a lot of them kicking around anymore and he doesn't want to have to buy one. Super science is a lot more expensive now that its not so experimental. Apparently its a real money market these days."

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Erin raised both her eyebrows as she looked at the container. "Fission reaction? Isn't that like what they had in the bomb that nuked Hiroshima?" she asked, sliding out to drop down from the shelves. "I'm not sure things like that are just supposed to sit in a storage room for a few decades and then go back into use," she pointed out dubiously. "It sounds like you could melt down your grandpa's house."

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"That's nuclear fission, alright." Alex supplied helpfully. "But that's a highly unstable and explosive reaction. This is more stable than that. Granpa wants to switch the thing over to run off Dakan power crystals, though, because of concerns like that. After all, this thing was built in the 60s, so this isn't all cutting edge the way it once was."

Alex pulled up a chest harness thing and sorted it into one of her many growing piles, "If you want any of this junk, let me know. Its not like we can do a yard sale with it or anything."

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"I don't know what half this stuff even does, besides irradiate me," Erin pointed out, grimacing over a chewed-up set of technical manuals peppered with mouse droppings. "But those binoculars might be cool. I know how to work those." She tossed the books into the garbage bin and started wiping down the shelf. "Maybe you could set up a table at school," she suggested, "sell them just before exam time to students looking for an edge in their simulations. When they cant', you know, get Edge in on their simulations."

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Alex giggled at the pun as she joined Erin for cleaning the shelves. She floated up to work on the higher shelves while they chatted, "Help yourself to them if you'd like. You know donating the stuff to the school isn't a half bad idea. I'm sure the shop classes could use more spare bits."

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"Somebody will melt it down into something," Erin agreed, giving her shelf a very quick and efficient scrubdown, then moving to the next. "I forgot to ask before, how did the thing with Mark's family go? Have they won the lottery six times or something like that?" She grinned as she started pulling more items off the shelves. "It would have to be weird to have someone in your family with that kind of luck. I can't even decide if it would be good or bad. But probably weird."

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"Let's just say Mark definately get a lot from his dad. He's got a lot of neat stories though. Its kinda wierd to go somewhere where the super hero thing is the norm." Alex said after a long and thoughtful pause, "What about baseball wit Mike?"

Alex asked with curiosity and perhaps a touch of wistfulness. She wasn't exactly the athletic type.

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"It was fine," Erin replied after a thoughtful moment. "We only really played three innings before the fight simulation started, but it was fun. I want to try and figure out how to take the fight part out, so it's just the game. It was nice to play again, and he did really well for someone who's never played before. I think if there's an intramural team in the spring, he should go out for it." She bought a few moments by scraping the rust off the corner of one shelf before asking "I know you've told me a lot about him. Did you ever tell him anything about me?"

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