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Pengwolf

A Day at the Museum (IC)

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(GM)

What kid doesn't love a field trip? An excuse to get out of class, see something new, and goof off a bit. And so it was, that on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, a dozen students from Claremont Academy arrived at The Hunter Museum of Natural History. As the group dashed up the marble front steps, their chaperon, Mr. Davis took a moment to point out the Greek-style architecture of the impressive building.

"Built by Daedalus and Dr. Metropolis themselves!" he almost shouted, in order to be heard over the falling rain.

Inside it was warmer, but still somewhat wet, and janitorial caution signs stood every twenty feet or so to remind visitors to watch their step on the slick stone floors. As the students wiped their feet on the mats in the entryway and stashed their umbrellas in the provided stands, Mr. Davis caught the attention of a man in tweed.

"Class, I'd like to introduce Dr. Elphinstone, the curator. He's generously offered to lead us on a personally guided tour."

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(IC)

Edward Elphinstone, curator of the Hunter Museum, tried to show as much enthusiasm as Mr. Davis, but his smile was clearly an attempt at covering his nervousness.

"Uh, hi kids," he said, "Um, you can call me Mr. Elphinstone, really. I never thought the doctor title made sense, even though I've got two PhD's, one from Oxford in..." Fortunately, he recognized the bored looks on the student's faces and stopped his rambling.

Edward still felt a little confused as to how he'd been roped into doing this. Normally, he'd be managing the exhibit rotations or dealing with new acquisitions, but instead he'd be leading a bunch of kids around on a guided tour. They told me most of the students were supers, I wonder which ones, and what kinds of powers? But anyway...

He waved one hand at the enormous T. Rex skeleton that dominated the displays in the expansive lobby. "You've, ah, probably already, uh, noticed Betsy," he said, his tone and filler words betraying his lack of tour guide experience, "One of our most popular exhibits, even though she's just a, uh, replica. Still, we had a time traveler come through here once, and, well, he was kind enough to verify that this is, in fact, an accurate reconstruction of a Tyrannosaurus skeleton from the late Cretaceous period."

"So, um, any questions before we get started?"

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Among the students. Ashley was naturally quiet. She watched the man's rather unstudied speech, a lot of "Um" and "Uh" sounds made her think that this was his first day on the job.

As he asked for questions, Ashley turned to her roommate Aiko, who was standing beside her. "How much do you know about this place Karakuri-san?" She knew that Aiko was a gynoid, but wasn't entirely sure how much Aiko knows about the city. Meanwhile, Ashley could feel someone behind her, waiting for a moment to speak,

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Aiko was another quiet one in the group, not exactly a student but still Claremont affliated, she was there as much because her roommate was as due to the fact that it had been 'suggested' that it might do her some good to get out a bit. She only half bothered to pay attention to Mr. Elphinstone, but she did constantly keep updating her own folders on just about anything said, shown or mentioned. Details like the guide's possession of two PhD's and the visit from a timetraveler were squirreled away, possibly to be of use some day.

"Not much Culdis-san. Until today I had neither visited or had any reason seek out information regarding the museum."

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Blake came with the group for the art. He really could have cared less about the T-Rex. He was in his human form, his black hair worn down to his shoulders, a green streak down the front. He was wearing black jeans and a The Who T-shirt. He looked bored. "Where's the art?" he blurted out. He was glad, at least, to be with his Claremont friends. He was standing near Ashley, but he hadn't said a word to her all day. Maybe later. He didn't want to talk to her when she was with her friend. They might...talk about him later, which is something Blake really wanted to avoid. If there was any way he could avoid being gossiped about, he would have done it.

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(IC)

Edward seemed a little flustered by the student's simple question. "Well, ah, that depends on what kind of art you mean," he said. He looked at the asker and appeared slightly put off by his punk-ish appearance. "If you're after so-called modern art," he said with an uncharacteristic sneer, "then you'll have to ask your parents to take you to the Kirby Museum down the street."

"On the other hand, we have, well, one of the finest collections of ancient artifacts from around the world." His tone picked up confidence as he shifted to the more comfortable subject of his own work. "Not all of them would be considered art now, of course, but to the cultures who produced them, many of the items stored here were seen as works of great craftsmanship and skill. Why, just over in the second floor gallery of the east wing we have a set of pottery dating back to..." He rambled for another sentence or two before realizing that he'd be showing them all those exhibits shortly anyway.

"So, anyone else? Or shall I begin the tour?"

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The museum was cleverly constructed; underneath it's pseudo Greco-Roman facade, a lot of planning had gone into positioning the exhibits to draw visitors deeper into the building. Following the floor plan, the public would then be lead back to the entrance, where more interesting pieces awaited to catch the eye. Jessica had been happy to go with the flow, pausing every so often whenever a particular panorama interested her. A thin black wire snaked out of the heavy backpack the girl wore and plugged into her ear, and from the way she was nodding in an easy rhythm it was pretty obvious there was some kind of music player in there.

Jessica had just finished walking through a section detailing the histroy of early American settlements, when her gaze passed over the group at the door. She stopped in her tracks and looked again: at least one of the teenagers there had on a Claremont tee-shirt. A metahuman field trip, she thought to herself. This should be good. Settling against the wall, she waited to see where they'd go first.

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(GM)

And so the tour began.

And continued.

And went on and on and on.

Sure, some of the artifacts looked cool, but the way Mr. Elphinstone droned on and on about ancient cultures and dead civilizations bored most of the students out of their minds. Even Mr. Davis could be seen checking his watch far more than could ever be considered polite.

Finally, as they neared the central lobby again, their guide seemed to realize that he was not exactly providing much entertainment, and decided to try something different.

"Wait right here," he said, pulling open a door marked "Employees Only."

"I'll be right back with something, ah, a little more interesting, I hope."

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Blake was bored out of his skull. Although they had gone around, behind, even over it, they had not checked out any of the museum's supposed art collection. He turns to Ashley and says "Let's ditch this guide. I'm bored. Me wants to see the art." He looked back at the other Claremont kids, and they looked as bored as he. "I should have just come here on my own." he said, almost tempted to light something on fire in his intense boredom.

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Ashley sighed at the incompetence of the curator here. Going on and on made her regret going on this trip. She did get a surprise when Blake mentioned to her about leaving. Quickly turning to him, she responded, "Blake, I know it's boring, but we have to make the best of the sit...u..at.." She was hiding her true feelings, she agreed with Blake, but knew it was a bad idea. "*Sigh*, you're right." she muttered quietly under her breath. She turned to Aiko, "Karakuri-san, we're... uh..." She realized that Aiko was listening on the whole conversation between the two.

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By all means it should be pretty hard to bore a machine, the curator here was managing it. Sure, Aiko wasn't an average example of machinery, but she was still getting bored. And evidently she wasn't the only one. "I understand completely Culdis-san. If I want to learn here I do believe I would be better served by coming here outside of a tour. Lead on."

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Jessica hung back from the group, trying to keep them in sight while staying unobtrusive herself. It proved easier than she expected, due to the tour guide's continuous monologue on the exhibits. Whoever he was, he really knew his stuff.

She noticed a few of the Claremont students peeling off from the group and glanced around quickly, but neither the tour guide nor the teacher trying to ride herd on the students seemed to notice. Figuring that following them would be more interesting than listening to the tweed-clad guide drone on for another hour or so, she waited for the teens to pass the by and fell in behind.

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(GM)

The trio of students found their chance to slip away, with their guide off in a back room and Mr. Davis busy examining a nearby display. The rain was driving people out of the park and into the heated halls of the museum, so there were plenty enough crowds for the group to get lost in, unnoticed by their chaperon.

They soon found their way to an area they'd skipped during the tour. There was a large display on the history of drawing and painting, all the way from scribbles on cave walls to the development of inks, oils, and watercolors, and eventually the great works of the renaissance masters.

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The three of them left the group as the new people entered the building, managing to slip away without mostly anyone else noticing. "This is a bad idea..." she thought, nervous about this, worried that she will regret doing this.

Ashley looked at all the arts that we're there. Some of them felt underwhelming while others we're too grand for such a museum. "Could this be a storage room perhaps?" She asked the others while her heart made heavy pounds. She had never taken off from the group before, and was scared if they got caught. She still had her backpack on her back, it was notably bigger than others since it housed her costume. This made her more noticeable than the other two here.

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"This is so tight..." Blake said, absorbed in the sheer artsiness of it all. He was everywhere at once, oohing and ahing over everything. If there was any dark foreboding at all, he took no notice. He wasn't carrying anything on him, as his costume appeared when he changed. Magic is strange like that.

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Aiko was sticking by Ashley for now, but she did take an interest in the art present. Currently the gynoid was taking it all in, her seemingly cursory glances recording it all for later reviewing if she so felt like. Unlike her roommate the bluehaired girl wasn't carrying anything apart from the clothes on her body. Underneath those clothes was her costume, it wasn't like the heat was about to bother her at this stage. Still, while the art was interesting Ashley seemed anxious. "You alright Ashley-san?"

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Nearly losing herself in the art and anxiety of being found out, Ashley managed to hear Aiko's concern, as she responds, "Ah... yes. I'm just a little frightened about getting caught here. She turned to Blake, who already found himself marveled by the art that was all around them. "Blake..." She didn''t get a response. "Blake...!" Still no response, he was really into art. "Blake!" a third cry got his attention. "You're really into art. We're your parent's artists?"

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Blake finally looked up. "Yes, yes they were." he said, and went back to the art. If there was one thing he didn't want to talk about, it was his parents. Maybe he had been hiding his mourning behind his joking facade. That had worked for him. He squinted his eyes, squeezed the bridge of his nose, and kept looking around.

He had missed them, and a wave of emotions came over him. As he turned from Ashley, a tear squeezed out of his eye. He quickly wiped it away, and went to look at some Roman statues.

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Jessica was regretting following the other students. They'd wandered into the art gallery, of all things. At least the group with the tour guide would be looking at exhibits.

She sighed and turned away, eyes sliding across the paintings as she picked her own way around an opposite wall. It wasn't that she hadn't old art; it was just that she didn't see the point of looking at pictures all day long and arguing about "what it meant." ASk the artist what it meant, and if he was dead when why was anyone arguing?

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(GM)

From the direction of the main lobby came the sound of shattering glass, followed by screams and a blaring security alarm. A voice came on the PA system, but the words ware hard to make out over the sound of the panicking crowd. Suddenly, the screams and shouts from the lobby ware cut short, and the PA system became intelligible, but still punctuated occasionally by crashes and the tinkling of glass.

"...where you are and remain calm. Docents will be along shortly to lead you to the exit. Por favor..."

As the voice repeats its message in various languages, our heroes notice great metal grates sliding down at either end of the hallway they are in, clearly part of the security system intended to keep potential thieves from escaping.

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Blake takes absolutely no notice. He continues pawing through the art like a geek through back issues. He begins to hum to himself, completely absorbed in what he's doing. He took no notice of the voice, nor the grates coming down in the room. Nope. Nothing could reach him now.

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Benefit of having a faster than human processing capacity; getting past that stage of momentary confusion that is likely to occur when something comes out of the figurative left field. Half a moment after she noticed the security systems portucillises starting to descend Aiko was on the move. The gynoids powerful legs quickly got her underneath the descending grate were she braced herself and formed an improvised stop; allowing the energy of the oncoming metal to move through her straight into the floor. "It would be advisable to get moving."

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The sudden sounds of shatters, screams and alarms had Ashley's heart almost skip a beat as she notices Aiko holding the grating up that would trap the three. Hearing her roommate's warning, Ashley took no time in sliding under the grate, yelling "Come on Blake!" without noticing he wasn't paying attention to her.

After getting through, she started to make her way to the cause of the situation, unzipping her backpack and putting on her costume as she ran. She happened to notice another teenager as she passed her, not recognizable but not taking more than a quick look as she went by without a word. Stopping the intruders came as first priority.

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The alarms snapped Jessica out of her daydreams and she looked around, half-panicking. When she saw the gates descending, sealing off the art area, she made a break for the quickly-narrowing entrance. She rolled under it without too much time to spare and only then noticed the blue-haired woman holding the gate up. Jessica hesitated for a moment, wanting to help her, but she knew that without her suit she'd have no chance. Instead, she glanced around for an out-of-the-way place to change. Her eyes fell on a door with a discreet "employees only" sign and she headed for it.

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(IC)

Edward sighed with relief as he slipped into the back room, glad to have an excuse to get away from the kids for a moment. He continued down the hall, and spent a few minutes looking for the artifact he'd come here back to get before finding it, surprisingly, right where he'd left it earlier that morning. This should be a treat for them to see.

When the screams and alarm from the lobby began, though, he dropped the ancient object back on the table and hurried back toward the lobby. Carefully, he eased the door open and peeked out. Startled by what he saw, Edward closed the door again, took a few deep breaths, and then mentally triggered the spell that would put him in costume and summon his magical gear. His museum was threatened, and it was time for him to defend it.

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