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Raveled

Unlikely Allies IC

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The Sentry Statue was a popular destination, and not just for tourists. The entire city was still standing because of the Centurion's sacrifice; there was still people who visited the statue to leave flowers and thank-you cards. To the hero community, it was a stronger connection, of course, a symbol of what they could be -- and what they could be called to do.

Ironclad floated level with the nose, about fifty metres out. She studied the face of the statue; in her bleaker moments, she wondered if she would go out that way, being called to sacrifice herself to save someone else. Would she be able to do it, when the time came? And if she didn't, would she be able to live with herself after?

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Dragonfly was looking much better by the time she made her way to the statue - she'd spent most of the hour recharging, figuratively and literally, while she ran a search on Ironclad. She hadn't found out a whole lot, but at least she had a better idea of who she was dealing with. need to assume less - not always what people appear to be - unfortunate misunderstandings - common? - do not want to cause more brawls be inflicted by more unneeded conflict

She looked up at the floating heroine, adjusting a gauntlet. "Almost thought you'd stand me up."

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Ironclad glanced down between her feet, noticing the visored woman for the first time, but luckily her helmet hid any expression of surprise. She floated down until she was standing on the short grass, right in front of her erstwhile ally. "Well, if you're ready we can get going -- Dragonfly." Her eyes twinkled with mischief behind her impassive mask. "That is what you go bay, right? Dragonfly?"

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The edge of Dragonfly's mouth turned up in an echo of a grin. expected that - connected - making a name for myself already? - fair's fair "Yes, it is, Ironclad."

She absently toyed with something on the underside of a gauntlet, tilting her head. "So. You have the scanner. Where do we go, what is waiting for us?"

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Ironclad nodded to the other heroine and lead her back to the parking lot. There was a big SUV there, black with chrome trim; she unlocked it with a wave of her hand and slipped into the driver's seat. The center console had an LED display for the GPS. She punched up a map of the town, and overlaid something, a number of hotspots of some kind. "I figured out what sort of radiation you were looking for and repurposed a satellite to look for it. These hot spots go back six months or so, see?" Ironclad moved her armored finger across the screen, pointing at three particular hot spots on the map. "Follow?"

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"Mm. Nice car." Climbing up into the passenger seat, Dragonfly eyed the GPS. better resources - could have done that if I wanted to - own the satellite or repurposed it? - hotspots - trails - note trails for later As she sat frowning at the GPS, the image flickered for a fraction of a second before zooming in and rapidly sweeping across the noteworthy trails and echoes. Satisfied she'd memorized as much as was useful, she reset the GPS back to the image Ironclad had brought up. "Follow. Wish more were this easy to track. Envy your resources. Almost cheating."

She leaned back, buckling herself in. "Not exactly a complaint."

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"Problem," Ironclad interrupted. "Checked the half-life on the radiation. These hot spots are all at least two months old. I'd almost say that it's not in town anymore, except." The hero pointed at a liune of radiation along the South River, almost evaporated. "This is new. I'm guessing it's where the speedster took it. And then it just disappears." She sat back in her chair. "I can't figure it out."

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The young woman tilted her head, eyeing the neighborhood where the trail ended. "Shielded, maybe. Not that hard. Specialized container, radiation scrubber, far enough underground...at least we have somewhere to start. Will have to hope no one just teleported away with it."

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"Underground..." Ironclad considered the idea. "City has miles of tunnels underneath it. If they took it far enough underground, we could use your scanner to follow it deeper." The armored heroine touched a finger to vehicle's steering column; looking closer, Dragonfly could see that there wasn't a place to put a key. Instead, it looked like an I/O jack, or maybe an infrared port. In any case, the car started up right away and they pulled off into the city.

Being a superhero apparently didn't qualify Ironclad's truck for emergency sirens, so they ended up sitting in traffic. The armored heroine drummed her fingers on the steering wheel, staring out the window. As the silence between them stretched, she cleared her throat nosily. "So, uh. That was a really cool force field you put up. Para-dimensional properties?"

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traffic - miss my motorcycle - work harder on wings "Sort of. Shaped spacial distortion - tries to scatter attacks...energy gets split apart and channeled away. Physical objects meet resistance holding themselves together. Very effective. Not...ideal in execution, though. Absorbs some energy instead of channeling. Destabilizes. Working on that, hard to solve without killing myself."

She sat back in her seat, eyeing the traffic and drumming her fingers on the armrest for a bit. "....armor change was a nice trick. Modular?"

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"Kind of," Ironclad replied. "The whole suit can be visualized as sandwiched layers. The outermost layer is the armor shell, but just underneath that is a series of rails and switches that are fully articulated. If I want one ability, I use one configuration. For a different ability, it's a different configuration. See what I'm talking about?"

The light changed the traffic began to flow again. "Have you thought about about some kind of storage device," she asked. "If the problem is trying to control the rate that the system dissipates energy, then a sink could be a good idea. Store enough for a typical combat so that it can be radiated out at a slower rate later."

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Dragonfly pursed her lips, holding a hand up to look at the back of one gauntlet. "I wish. Problem isn't really energy buildup itself - slap a battery on it, done, no more problems. Problem is...mm." theoretical physics knowledge? can't assume - keep simple - good practice "Field's like...a mesh of tangled strings. Has to be to work. Random but with very specific qualities. When it absorbs energy it...adds to the field itself. Too much energy and it starts to untangle, gets less effective. Entropy. Universe wants to be ordered and even. Eventually collapses back into normal space curve. Hard to drain without draining the field, too...working on it - have a promising prototype. Needs more testing. Less stable right now; turned test dummy inside the field into kindling."

She grimaced. "And then set it on fire. Could just use a stable energy 'bubble'," she actually made little disdainful air-quotes with her fingers, "but that's boring."

"Rail system is interesting. Specialization over general utility. Not bad. Clearly effective." In her mind, Dragonfly could almost see it - mapping out the rails and circuits you'd need. "How many configurations have you managed to put together?"

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"Boring rarely sets stuff on fire," Ironclad mused aloud. "There's a reason I'm using a metal suit instead of shunting energies into a parallel dimension: it works. It's worked for more than two thousand years." The heroine stopped herself before she started lecturing. "What I'm saying," she finished lamely, "is get something working that protects yourself on the street, and worry about your masterpiece later."

She pulled a face behind her mask at the mention of her suit. "It's annoying," she said. "For example, my flight and ranged weapons are on one configuration, but my lifting servos and linear motors are on another. So if I want to fly I can't life anything. That's why we're taking my car, not flying," she added, gesturing vaguely to the vehicle and the traffic. It was flowing at a good pace at the moment; in another few minutes, the heroines should get where they were going.

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Dragonfly rolled her eyes a little. "Works well enough for now. Would have to put too many resources into other projects. Have...some plans for a full suit. Will take a long time to perfect. Piece by piece, maybe. Having to split time between building, patrolling, and personal life." She paused, like 'personal life' was a foreign word. "...will get there eventually. Doubt your suit was built in a day."

She nodded, looking back at Ironclad's armor. "Can see the problem, yes. Prefer to be more general myself. Possibly specialized suits for very specialized tasks, but otherwise...."

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Ironclad stayed silent this time. Having a personal life, of any kind, was a problem for her, too. She told herself it was due to all the time she spent patrolling, studying, and working on the suit, but the truth of the matter was that she was more comfortable around machines and technology than she was around people. She had a feeling Dragonfly would understand, maybe all too well.

It turned out that the spot on the map was opposite the Boardwalk; the armored heroine pulled her car onto a grassy verge and got out, glancing around. Her HUD painted the radiation over her view of the city, and so she was easily able to follow the trail to an elevator set into the sidewalk. There wasn't any apparent control board, so she redirected her suit's power into strength and ripped it out of the ground. She glanced over at Dragonfly. "Up for some spelunking?"

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The young woman sighed. "Just thrilled." concealed - underground - resources? secrecy organized - defenses With no visible movement on her part, a couple lights on her gauntlets blinked on and her force field came up around her. Looking down into the shaft and sighing again, she grabbed the spartan 'emergency ladder' and started climbing down. re-re-prioritize wings - spacial disturbance - fixed lattice?

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