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Dariusprime

Containment Means Never Having To Say KABOOM! (IC)

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Date: January 15th, 2010 (Friday)

Sunrise 7:16am, Sunset 4:59 pm. Highs in the mid-50s, lows in the low 30s; clear, light breeze.

At the appointed time, Fulcrum spiraled down over the rooftops of high-tech Hanover. Okay, the spiral was more like a wild dive, and the appointed time approached being just plain late. Ace and Jack had been specific about the company: ArcheTech. Too bad all the buildings looked the same from overhead. Thankfully the logo caught her attention.

She touched down at the front doors and gazed inside. Doubt gnawed at her, and for a brief moment, flying away seemed like a completely rational course of action. Super scientists always creeped her out. Your normal, or even genius, researcher or inventor she liked, but something about anyone remotely capable of the 'mad scientist' archetype always set off alarm bells. Maybe she just watched too many old serials.

Shaking her head, those thoughts trailed away and she focused on the problem at hand. She was leaking radiation, perhaps Terminus radiation, and Dr. Archeville had agreed to help her. For that she was thankful, and the glowing recommendations didn't hurt.

"I'm sure he is a great guy...," she mumbled unconvincingly.

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When she landed, Fulcrum was a bit surprised at how normal the place looked on the inside, considering who she was seeing and what she'd heard went on inside. It looked like the lobby of any normal office building, sleek and austere, with a few potted plants next to some marginally comfortable chairs. Even the few passing technicians and businessmen (investors, she guessed) were moving about in what could be described as "casual efficiency," neither rushing nor idling. As she wondered when the cyborg gorilla might leap out and start rampaging, or a blob-monster ooze down one of the hallways, she saw a young and very perky blonde woman at a reception desk wave her over.

"Hello, Ms. Fulcrum!," the receptionist said in a voice as perky as her appearance. "Doktor Archeville is expecting you, up on the seventh floor. Here," she continued, holding out a VISITORS ID badge attached to a blue lanyard, "you'll need this to get around."

Fulcrum briefly wondered which had a higher percentage of plastic, the ID badge or the receptionist's chest.

"There's an elevator right down that hallway," she went on, pointing to the largest of the hallways behind her. "Have a super day!"


Elsewhere, on the 7th floor, Archeville was going over some test results from his latest experiments -- the development of a new radiation chelating agent, to help people exposed to radiation recover quicker, and with reduced risk of cancers -- when an alarm from reception alerted him of Fulcrum's arrival.

Oooh, our new battery's here!

That is not why she is here.

It may not be why she thinks she's here, but-!

That is not why we invited her here, either.

"Alvays nice to see a new face," he said aloud, before realizing he was alone in that particular laboratory.

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Fulcrum examined the badge and nodded to the receptionist, "Thank you! Have a super day yourself, Ms.," all emphasized with a thumbs up. The blonde's perkiness was contagious. Stepping into the elevator drove home that she was really going through with this appointment. The ID badge went around her neck as that deplorable muzak started up. The building looked lovely, but that stuff must go. She chuckled to herself.

Making the 'patients' feel more at ease was probably one of his dastardly schemes, but it worked in this particular case. Shoulders back, performance anxiety lessened, the giantess hummed patiently throughout the ride. When the 7th floor dinged, she took a deep breath, cracked her knuckles and stepped through the doors.

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The seventh floor was filled with more crisscrossing hallways, with innumerable offices between them. It was very quiet up here; if she strained she could just make out some soft murmurs from from behind closed doors.

As she wondered which way to go, a pleasant voice chimed out. "Visitor ID badge confirmed. Subject: Fulcrum. Please follow the illuminated arrows to your appointment." A soft light from under Fulcrum caught her eye: glowing arrows, forming a path to the right and going around a corner. After about a minute of following them, she found herself at a door which opened to what looked to be a large electronics testing lab. Standing by a computer terminal was Doktor Archeville, was turned to face her just as she stepped up to the doorway.

Mmm... that's a healthy girl, there.

Just keep your hands to yourself.

"Ah, hello, Ms. Fulcrum!," the super-scientist said warmly, "so good to finally meet you! Please, come, sit!" he added, pointing to a pair of black leather chairs by one workstation.

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Oh, dear. The good doctor was quite the hunk. No wonder she heard rumors of him being something of a lady killer. Of course this visit was for purely medical reasons. Trying to reign in the surprised/interested look, she crossed the room in several long strides and offered an over-sized handshake.

"Mona Teymourian. A pleasure to meet you as well, Dr. Archeville." Fulcrum smiled professionally, her face otherwise, hopefully, neutral, "I appreciate you seeing me on such short notice." So far so good.

Mona sat down, fidgeted a bit and looked around the laboratory, "Thank you. Quite a set up you have here, Doctor. I see science and the super hero business has been lucrative for you."

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Fulcrum was a tad surprised to find the chair, which looked like a normal office chair, was a perfect fit for her, expanding to comfortably fit her 8 foot 2 inch frame.

"I do vhat I can," the super-scientist said with a grin as he took the other seat, "und mit all I haff set up here, und mit additional ArcheTech branches opening across de vorld, I can bring mein genius to bear on a far greater number of problems, help far more people, dan I could alone."

I wouldn't mind helping myself into her-

Cut that out!

"So," he continued, leaning forward a bit, "vhat is it I can do for you today, Miss Teymourian? Herr Danger did not go into much detail vhen he contacted me, but I am alvays eager to help any superhero."

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Fulcrum was suitably impressed, both by Dr. Archeville and that fabulous chair. Offhandedly she examined it and wondered if she could purchase one. Finding comfortable and aesthetically pleasing furniture at her scale was either difficult or prohibitively expensive. And she even liked the color.

Coming back to matters at hand, she cleared her throat and laced her hands together, "Well, Doctor.... I participated in that big charity fundraiser a while back. To make a long story short, Dark Star and Jack-of-All-Blades are convinced that I emit radiation, especially when exerting myself." She leaned back, frowning, and continued, "On top of that, both identified the stuff as...Terminus...radiation." The word itself practically had to forced from her throat.

She looked around the room and gathered her thoughts before continuing, "Apparently a lot of it. Even as calm as I am now, Jack said I was still dangerous. Look, Dr. Archeville, I don't know the difference between radiation and cosmic energy in anything but a comic book sense, but I need help figuring out what the hell is going on here. Would you help me please?"

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Archeville's eyes went wide and his jaw slack for a moment when she mentioned Terminus radiation.

A Terminus Baby? Ha! I knew we'd get one eventually!

She may be one, she may not. It is premature to jump to the conclusion that she is one.

Archeville got up from the chair, walked over to a nearby desk, and picked up the phone. "Carol... hold mein calls. Und clear mein afternoon appointments."

He set the phone back down, then clapped his hands together and rubbed them; his eyes were practically sparking with excitement. "I vill of course be all too happy to help you! I vill need some information from you, of course," he went on as he walked over to another workstations and began pulling electronic components out of drawers and off shelves, "vhen und vhere you vere born, vhen your powers first manifested, vhat your powers are, dat sort of stuff."

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Dr. Archeville's reaction did not put her at ease. If anything it made her tense up. That feeling only increased when she noted the sparkle in his eyes and items in his hands. She managed a polite smile, "Thank you, Dr. Archeville."

She sat quietly a moment, a variety of emotions playing on her face. Figuring now or never, she opened up the floodgate, "Well, lets see. I was born in 1980 here in Freedom City, but my mother emigrated from Iran when she was pregnant. My only allergy is amoxicillin, I've had several surgeries, and I've broken a lot of bones. Most of the surgeries were between 11-12 when I had leukemia. I can't remember the type, only that the doctors said it was rare and really aggressive."

Standing up, Fulcrum strolled up to watch the doctor's preparations. Some may be over her head, but she was interested nonetheless. She continued, "I developed my powers about four years ago. Started out with flight, then rapid growth, super-human strength and stamina. I also heal really fast and don't have to breathe. I can also sense something I've researched as 'cosmic radiation', but apparently didn't detect myself."

Her tone hinted at curiosity, "Lately I've been noticing odd happenings too. Like this," she said while holding out her hand, palm side visible. Her eyes narrowed in concentration, and for a brief second her arm blurred out. When it focused again, she was holding one of the small components Dr. Archeville previously had in hand. "Its hard for me to do, but sometimes it happens at random. I swear I read the Sunday Edition Herald in under a minute without realizing it."

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1980? Blast, she can't be a Terminus Baby, then!

A simple visual assessment of her apparent age should have told you that.

... bah!

Archeville leans forward and stares at her intently during some parts of Fulcrum's history, but in others he leans back and has a far more casual air about him. After her display with the components, he seemed genuinely surprised.

"Vell," he began, "dough Freedom City is de vorld center for metahuman activity, und de site of two Terminus invasions, I do not recall anyding particularly notevorthy occurring in 1980 dat vould tie to your abilities. Metahumans who generate Terminus radiation tend to be vons who vere conceived or born during von of de two invasions, in 1993 or 1965. But you vould haff been a young teen during de second invasion...."

He paused for half a moment, then began again, slightly softer. "Could puberty be de key?," he said, more a thinking out loud than a real declaration, "Terminus energies altering any energy manipulation abilities you vould have expressed normally? Or de leukemia treatments...."

His eyes met hers again, and his voice took on a more pronounced, commanding tone. "Did any of your leukemia treatments occur during de Terminus invasion of '93? De chemotherapy drugs in your system may be a factor... copies of your medical records vould be of some help, if you can get dem."

His voice and mood shifted again, to the more relaxed, casual conversation one. "Powers first manifested in 2006, eh? Do you recall de circumstances? Vhat vere you doing vhen you discovered you could fly or had superhuman strength? Or grow? Vas dat a sudden und permanent growth spurt, or a gradual ding?"

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Cocking an eyebrow, Fulcum handed over the electronic doodad and watched Dr. Archeville at work. The way his mind processed information, even rudimentary fragments, was a marvel to behold. Made him appear somewhat schizophrenic, but then again his line of reasoning was sound.

Once his questions were complete, the answers returned efficiently, "I requested my records be released to ArcheTech. They should be here by now. As for your question," she stopped and tapped her chin in thought, "Yes, I was receiving a final round of chemo during the Invasion."

Fulcrum mulled over the next disclosure for a good minute, and the conflict read across her face. Finally she clicked her tongue and looked across the lab, her voice serious, "I've only told a handful of people this information, and most didn't believe me. I was in Freedom Medical Center's Children's Ward during the Invasion. In fact I watched Centurion and Omega fight from my window," her gaze drifted into the distance, "When Centurion punched Omega, that one that breached his suit, I saw something."

She grasped with her hands, trying to articulate the right words, "It was like this shock wave of crackling white and roiling black energy emanated from the point of impact. The stuff felt like it was saturating, changing me. By the time I woke up Centurion was dying and Omega was gone. I...died too. The doctors pronounced me, but I woke up six hours later like nothing happened. I haven't even had the sniffles since then."

Looking at Dr. Archeville, she crossed her arms defensively, "As for when the powers came, this cape drifted down into my apartment. I'm not sure if its a psychological thing or what, but I started flying and developing other powers right then. Took me about three months to get this tall. And yes, I do think this is Centurion's cape."

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Archeville's right hand went to his chin and began to tap it with his index finger as Fulcrum explained what she saw at Omega & Centurion's battle. When she described the cape, his finger tapping stopped.

Ha! She's an elephant!

Well, she is not exactly svelte, I will grant you, but I hardly see that as reason to label her a-

No, you namby-pambying nitwit! The cape's a psychological crutch, just like Dumbo and his 'magic feather'!

"Vell dat does fit mit mein hypothesis," he began. "I do hope your records include some genetic workups from before your treatments began, to see if de exposure altered some pre-existing proclivity tovards energy manipulation powers or if de combination of de chemotherapy treatments und Terminus exposure instilled an all-new set of powers mitin you."

"As for de cape," he continued, resuming work on whatever it was he was working on, "I am not sure it is Centurion's -- as far as I am avare, he vas buried mit de cape he vore vhen he vas killed. It is possible dat is not de case, dat he vas buried in a different cape, und dat dat is de von he vore. I could run some tests, try und determine de age of it, und try to find traces of anyding dat he vas known to be exposed to in order to prove dat de cape is von he vore... but dat is up to you. It could be, as you said, a psychological ding, as your resurrection und improved health indicate to me dat your powers vere already manifesting years before you found de cape... or, perhaps de cape is a catalyst to further physiological changes, dat your body is altering to mimic Centurion's based on trace of his DNA or of de particular energies dat infused his body embedded in de cape."

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A computer screen chirped and read, Records Transfer Complete.

Fulcrum wasn't paying attention. She shrugged at the doctor's suggestion, "Sure, if you want to. I've been reluctant to have it tested, but if its authentic, I want it donated to the Super Museum." Pulling it off, she rubbed her hands over it, as if saying goodbye to an old friend. Then with some reluctance the old cape was neatly folded and reverently placed on his workstation.

Pulling her chair over, she leaned forward and rubbed her hands together, "All good ideas, Dr. Archeville. I'm the only meta-human in the family as far as I know. So what's the next step?"

A review of her records reveals the state of affairs. Other than a rather athletic series of childhood injuries, her early history is remarkably uneventful. Seems the worst she suffered disease-wise was a bout of tonsillitis when she was eight. The series balloons when she was diagnosed with mast cell leukemia. She rapidly deteriorated over the course of months, and that she survived to the Invasion was remarkable of itself. Her post-Invasion status was clean, as if she was never sick.

The attached films and reports confirm the diagnosis and staging. Interestingly, genetic testing was conducted both before and after the Invasion. The post-Invasion results were...interesting.

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"Dat is quite kind of you," he said in response to her mention of donating the cape, right before he began looking over her records.

He was quiet for some time.

What the hell is this?!

There do seem to be some irregularities in her readings. Perhaps we should run a scan ourselves.

Gee, ya think?!

"Dese are some intriguing readings here," he finally said. "So intriguing, in fact, dat I qvestion some of dem, und vould like to run dese tests again meinself, both to see if dey are correct und if you haff changed appreciably since dese vere taken."

Before she could answer, Archeville was already walking over towards another workstation, and pulling more items from its drawers and cabinets. Most of these were common medical gear -- stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer -- while others were of completely new to Fulcrum.

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"Thanks," she replied, as much to his offer to test the cape as to his final response.

While he read through the rather extensive chart, Fulcrum looked around the laboratory and tried to quiet that nagging anxiety. Judging from the look on her face, much of the stuff really did interest her a great deal. Especially the really strange things that were beyond her knowledge to identify. She smirked a bit as her mind wandered over just what that large, metal cabinet in the corner could contain...

Her daydreaming interrupted, she blinked, "Sure, Dr. Archeville, whatever you need." The chair glided up next to him, and seeing the blood pressure cuff, she rolled up her left sleeve.

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"What is the Terminus, Dr. Archeville?" she inquired, focusing directly on the problem at hand, "I really don't know much more about it than what the textbooks say. That it's a hellish other dimension ruled by the cosmic tyrant Omega and his vast army of cyborg soldiers. A place so dangerous that the very energies of the place caused illness and abnormalities. I've heard about people like that, but I didn't realize that some produced the same radiation and had powers. Disturbing to say the least."

"The symbolism though is what really bothers me. Why is it named 'Terminus' and is ruled by 'Omega'? Makes me think of some sort of annihilating force given animation," she mused. Her ramblings were going somewhere, suggesting something, but she didn't say it directly. Part of her knew the answer wouldn't be good, but then again, that same instinct said the test results were going to be troubling as well.

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The tests took some time, in part because Archeville started with routine medical equipment, which for assorted reasons simply could not work. The blood pressure cuff couldn't get a read because it could not compress enough to affect her blood flow. Attempts to draw blood failed because the needles would shatter when pressed to her flesh. The standard doctor's light was insufficient for the pupillary response test, as it was not bright enough to cause any appreciable reaction. Standard x-rays would not penetrate.

"Ve learn as much through failure as by success," he commented as he placed the broken pieces into assorted scanning devices, "in case you are vondering vhy I am using methods dat ve both know vill be inadequate. But seeing how dey are inadequate, in vhat vay dey fail, is qvite useful."

Hurry up and get to the vivisecting!

I believe you mean biopsy.

I know what I meant.

Then came the more advanced tools, which did look at least vaguely like standard doctor's instruments. There was some trial and error with these, too, though. One item, which emitted a small cone of light that should cause blood to ooze out of a target's pores -- "created purely for medical purposes, I assure you!" -- did nothing at all to Fulcrum; the gravitic press had to be cranked almost to one-quarter full power to compress her arm enough for a blood pressure reading. He was only able to get a blood sample when a panel on a medical laser accidentally flipped open to reveal the Daka crystal focusing lens, and he witnessed pained her reaction to it.

Once the last of the data was entered into his systems, and the last of her samples placed in the assortment of humming scanners, Archeville returned to Fulcrum's questions regarding the Terminus.

Well, looks like she does have two brain cells to rub together.

Be nice. Besides, her search for answers shows she is quite wise and clever, clever enough to know when to ask for help, and how to get that help.

Meh.

"De Terminus," he began, pacing back and forth (and occasionally up a wall, thanks to his gravimetric belt), "is a bit out of mein areas of study, dough I do know de major points... und dey match vhat you haff surmised. According to Dr. Atom, who vas von of de first to study it, it can be thought of as vater. Specifically, as de vater of a stream, und every universe und dimension is a stone at the bottom of dis stream, being slowly vorn avay by de surrounding vater. Omega is de Lord of it, attacking other realities in order to hasten deir topple into the Void dat is his domain. Dus far, dis vorld is de only von dat has repelled him. Repelled him tvice, to be precise!"

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Fulcrum cooperated attentively with all of the procedures. As the busted pile rose, the concern on her face grew as well. She figured the good doctor had an ulterior motive for conducting obviously self-defeating tests, and all were very enlightening. Particularly so by how much her body had changed since her last doctor's visit four years ago. Being tough was one thing. Being impenetrable to X-rays was another matter entirely.

None of the procedures bothered her until that blasted medical laser. The moments that lens was exposed where sheer liquid agony pulsing through her veins. The only way she could describe it was like plunging her entire arm into ice water. Felt like that crystal was actively trying to kill her. Even after pushing the laser away, the throbbing pain and weakness persisted stubbornly, causing the normally non-breathing paragon to hyper-ventilate. Thankfully the blood samples came easily, although the samples had a strange, mercurial look to them.

Glancing uneasily at the laser, Fulcrum replied, "So not to be melodramatic, but I'm radiating energy from the universal Void? A place that exists to destroy, well, everything?" Saying she looked down or uncomfortable at those prospects was an understatement. After looking around the lab, trying to regain her composure, she added, "I wouldn't be the first with weird powers and I won't be the last I'm sure. All in how you use them. History is full of people like that. At least we did repulse his invasions twice." She didn't sound entirely convinced, judging from her tone of voice, though she did her best to sound upbeat.

Although powered down, a low hum emanated from the laser. The pitch didn't match the operational tone. The lens itself condensed the alien energies and pulsed regularly with its charge.

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"Vell, radiating energy vould be a bit of a misnomer," he said while standing on the ceiling, "in de same vay it is technically incorrect to say some metahmuan can radiate cold or darkness. Dese are an absence of energy, so it is more accurate to dey absorb or othervise nullify heat or light."

Aww, is da big, stwong girl gonna cwy because she found out she's a multiversal maw of destwuction?

Even in the face of such a potentially world-shaking discovery, you never stop, do you?.

"But, really," he continued -- rather cheerily, she noted -- as he flipped down from the ceiling and floated down to the floor, "it is not dat much vorse dan de ability to manifest any energy. De Vhite Knight is not dangerous because he creates fire, he is dangerous because he is a biogted psychopath. De Terminus is not evil, per se, no more so dan de passage of time itself is evil, but de von who rules over it, Omega, is quit de nasty piece of vork. Being linked to something ruled by evil does not make you yourself evil," the German scientist added.

One of the machines let out a series of dings, crying for attention from the Doktor. He went to it, skimmed over the readouts, and nodded. "Ah, just as I had hypothesized: de needles I tried to use to draw blood, und de scalpels I used to try und get a skin sample, all broke not because your skin is phenomenally tough, but because deir physical structure vas catastrophically veakened. My guess is dat dis is de main defensive manifestation of your abilities: your body veakens any object trying to harm you, und diffuses any energy directed at you."

He turned to face her, still quite chipper, "now, de qvestion is: is dis somehthing our body constantly does? Is de chair you vere sitting on, or de gravitic platform I had your arm in, veaker now dan it vas before you came in contact mit dem? Or is dis something dat only occurs vhen your body sense some localized und sudden threat?"

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The information was enlightening to say the least. In its own way, it made her snap. She came out of the chair as a blur, reappearing across the room and stalking around tensely with balled fists. Thankfully her willpower kept her from anything rash, but she still seethed with all the pent-up anxiety from the last few days.

Rubbing her neck, she looked to the Doktor, "I understand, Doctor. It's just more of a psychological thing. Hard to accept when you wanted your powers to be from your hero instead of the Terminus." Taking a deep breath, she continued, "But that may solve why I've had five batteries in six months for my iPhone."

The conflict was evident on her face, but she was slowly coming to terms. You could see it in her eyes. Stepping up to him, she looked at the readouts for herself. Much was indecipherable, but she nodded at the little she could comprehend.

"How do you propose testing this hypothesis?" she asked in a surprisingly curious tone, "Plug them into the scanners somehow? If I was a betting woman, I would say its a modulated thing, increasing in strength with triggers, but always functioning in the background at some level."

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Hmph. Okay, three brain cells to rub together.

I like this one, she has a keen mind. Though.. oh, I do hope her heroic deeds are not born out of guilt for some hidden tragedy.

Well, there's just one way to find out!

No! Be nice!

"A quite reasonable hypothesis, Miss Teymourian," he continued, "und, ja, I vill be running tests on anyding in dis room dat you touch, even if only for de briefest of moments. De cameras," he made a wide circling motion with one finger, indicating that there were cameras all over the place, "vill help make sure I do not miss anyding."

He began walking towards her, and floating up to reach eye-to-eye level with her, "also, do not be discouraged at dis revelation, since, in a vay, your powers und dose of Centurion are of de same source!" He placed his right hand gently on her shoulder, "vhen he came to dis vorld, his exposure to de cosmic energies of de Terminus altered him, just as dey altered you. You und he haff much in common!"

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She just stood there blinking. Centurion was her number one hero. Even as much as she knew of the man, this new information was shocking to say the least. He was always very protective of his secret identity and privacy. That fifty plus years of villains failed to unmask the man spoke volumes. Apparently another layer of history existed inside the super hero community.

"I...I had no idea. He never said anything about the source of his powers. At least the sources of which I know," she began, slowly digesting the information. A wide smile crept over her features, "We do have much in common don't we?" Her tone suggested the latter had another layer of meaning.

After a moment of looking into his eyes, she turned her attention to the cameras. Searching proved mostly futile. "I never would have noticed."

A thought occurred to her and her face pinched in thought. More appropriately perhaps, a particular tidbit of information registered. She looked up at the Doktor. "So he was an alien?"

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My, my, look how easy it is to sway her. Yes, I think I can make use of this one.

No! No brainwashing or manipulating the patients!

"Alien... is a term dat could be applied, ja," he said after a moment's though. "He vas an alien in de sense dat he vas not born on dis Earth, but he vas born an an Earth, von in a parallel dimension," he explained while gliding back over to the assortment of scanners and checking their progress, "a vorld dat vas lost to de Terminus. It vas his trip through, from dat universe to dis von, dat empowered him."

"At least," he tuned and looked back to her, "dat is vhat I haff heard und pieced together."

DING!

"Ah, von of de other scans is complete... de von for cell structure! Let us haff a look!"

Archeville tapped a few commands into a keyboard, and the monitor showed an image of what looked like a blob with lots of little blobs inside it. A few more keystrokes moved the image from the desktop monitor to one of the larger screens on the wall. As he worked, he hummed and nodded, and continued doing so as he glided over to the large screen. He opened his mouth to begin his next lecture, but then closed it, zipped back to the computer, entered a few more commands, and then zipped back to the large screen, which now showed three image,s the original blob flanked by two other blobs.

"Okay, de von on de left here," he began as he retrieved his Electromagnetic Screwdriver and began using it as a laser pointer, "is a basic human cell. Dere is de cell membrane, a skin dat houses de entire ding. De brain of de operation is de nucleus, de blob in de middle; it carries your DNA, de specific code dat makes you you. Dose squiggly bits coming off of it are de endopasmic reticula, vhich turn de instructions from de nucleus into de various proteins dat make up your body; dose free-floating squiggly bits, de Golgi apparati, complete de formation of de proteins, und help move dem from inside de cell to outside vhere dey can do some good. Dat strcture dere is de mitochondria, de power source of de cell, converting chemicals into energy for de cell machinery. Und dat dot over dere is a vacuole, de vaste disposal system of de cell."

"Now, dis von over here," he pointed to the blob on the fer right, "is a plant cell. Note dat de cell vall is much thicker dan de cell membrane of a human cell. Also, note dis part: de chloroplast, de fuel center of de cell. Dat is vhere photosynthesis occurs, de process vhereby a plant uses sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into various organic compounds, notably sugars."

"Und now ve come to your cell," he said cheerfully, pointing to the central blob. "For de most part your cells are de same as human cells; de biggest changes are in de mitochondria. See, here: it has as much in common mit de plant cell's chloroplast as it does mit de human cell mitochondria. It appears your cells can be fueled in two vays: either by ingesting matter, like normal food, or by direct absorption of energy, und perhaps some trace elements." He turned slightly to look at her, "tell me, since you haff grown, how has your appetite been?"

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"Overwhelming at first. I'd eat five large meals or more a day but tapered off over the years." she said while approaching the big screens, "My appetite has basically disappeared over the last six months or so. I'll eat maybe once every few days. My last meal was two days ago and I'm not hungry."

Tapping her chin, she compared the various cell structures. High school biology was over ten years behind her, but she followed what he was saying. Marvels of science allowed her to see the inner workings of her own cells! Although something didn't look quite right about her cell profile. Drifting up to the screen, she squinted at the mitochondria.

Turning back to Doktor, she asked, "Why are the interior of my mitochondria blurry? All the other pictures are so crisp. This one looks washed out." That made her think of something else. "Absorbing cosmic energy here then? I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble squaring this information with what Dark Star and Jack told me. They were very specific that I was releasing energy of some sort."

The model did look ever so slightly distorted. If compensated for the pattern, the interior clearly considerably and revealed some unusual protein structures not found in normal mitochondria. In fact the huge and convoluted protein complexes were so bizarre than perhaps even Dr. Archeville hadn't encountered them. Their size actually made them blend subtly into the background. Somehow the layout looked strangely familiar...like some sort of physics instrument.

A particle accelerator? Impossible! There had to be a more reasonable explanation!

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"Overwhelming at first. I'd eat five large meals or more a day but tapered off over the years." she said while approaching the big screens, "My appetite has basically disappeared over the last six months or so. I'll eat maybe once every few days. My last meal was two days ago and I'm not hungry."

"Ja, dat fits mit mein hypothesis," Archeville replied, "dat you are absorbing energy around you to fuel your bodily processes. First it vas to supplement vhat you took in from food, but in time your body should adapt to de point vhere you do not need any food, just ambient energies. It is possible your body vill adapt so it does not require sleep -- or, at least, not as much sleep -- and becomes unaffected by de ravages of time."

Another immortal! And one we may be able to study more in-depth!

No extracting nutrients from our patients for personal use!

Turning back to Doktor, she asked, "Why are the interior of my mitochondria blurry? All the other pictures are so crisp. This one looks washed out." That made her think of something else. "Absorbing cosmic energy here then? I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble squaring this information with what Dark Star and Jack told me. They were very specific that I was releasing energy of some sort."!

Archeville muttered while he tapped on the screen, zipped over to the scanner and fiddled with the controls, then zipped back and tapped on the screen again. "Vell, mein hypothesis is dat de distortion is due to de energy-absorbing properties of your cells. Dey only take on dis visible manifestation vhen looked at dis closely." A flash of an idea visibly crossed Archeville's face, "Mit training, dough, you should be able to extend und 'tune' your field so dat it varps energy around you, making you invisible to visible light... to radio vaves, to radar... und to sonar, too, perfectly silent by absorbing sonic und vibratory energies!"

Oh, this is exciting!

Pft. My cloaking technology is better.

"I may haff to develop a different vay to examine your cell structures... perhaps a shrink ray of some sort," he said under his breath while looking intently at the monitor. Then he turned back up to Fulcrum, "As for Dark Star und Jack... vell, given deir sensory abilities, I vould be unvise to dismiss vhat dey report, but it does not seem to make sense, as de Terminus consumes, it does not create. It- oh! Oh, of course!" he cried out, "by 'Terminus Energies' dey must mean bits und pieces of universes not quite yet devoured by de Terminus, dat escape out... through you! Dat vould explain any oddities in energy scans, if you are leaking out a... a... a bouillabaisse of different energies!"

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