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Lone Star

Who You Gonna Call? [IC]

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Date: November 10th, 2010 (Wednesday).

High 57 °F, low 38 °F. Overcast, winds NNW ~10 mph.

KC was outside of ArcheTech's entrance. He marveled at the sheer size of it, all metal and glass towering above him. He gulped, and adjusted his cape. He doubted the Doktor knew anything about his rather average alter-ego, but he wouldn't put it past him. He had done some research on the scientist, and knew if anyone could help him figure out what was occupying his soul, it was him. He took a deep breath, and entered through the sliding doors. He made some final adjustments to his costume, wiping the Elder Sign emblazoned on his chest with the back of a squiddy fist.

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A young and very perky blonde woman at the reception desk waved him over.

"Hello, Kid Kathoo... Katool... er..." The receptionist's voice was as perky as her appearance, but she appeared to have some difficulty pronouncing his blasphemous name. Finally she simply shrugged, "Hello, Kid C! Doktor Archeville is expecting you, in an examination room 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."

Blake may have 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 another floor, Doktor Archeville was going over some test results from one of ArcheTech's latest experiments: studying a new species of highly toxic algae found in oceanic waters of the Gulf of Alaska.

Harmful as it is, perhaps the unique neurotoxins we can harvest from them can be of use in the medical field!

"The primary task, for now at least, is to find out how this harmful algal bloom got there in the first place, and how it grew so quickly. Someone should have noted an HAB of this size by now. Perhaps one of the earlier experiments in the area to combat global warming by stimulating algal growth with iron-rich fertilizers, in order to absorb more CO2 into the ocean? We also need to see how much it has infiltrated the food chain, if any fisheries will need to be shut dow-"

A silent alarm from reception alerted him of the arrival of the young hero. "Ladies, gentlemen, please excuse me," he said with a short bow before leaving, "I have been reminded of another appointment. Doctor Bargu, you will be in charge of these operations."

I was surprised to hear he had made an appointment! If he is still willing to see me, perhaps Erin, Jack, and Taylor will, too!

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Blake tried as hard as he could not to stare at her ample bosom. Must...keep...hormones...in check! He smiled at her and slipped the lanyard over his neck. "Thanks, you too." KC entered the elevator, and pressed the seventh floor button. He gently tapped his foot against the carpeted elevator floor as he waited for the elevator to ascend. He was a little bit nervous. He made an appointment with one of the finest minds in Freedom City.

For some reason, he kept getting the feeling that alarms would go off when he exited the elevator, and the Doktor keep him for several months for evil experiments. This conclusion was highly unlikely, however- at least Blake hoped. He would have to discuss the events that occurred previously at Avenger's apartment. Whatever got into him- hopefully it was purged from inside of him. Hopefully the good Doktor would perhaps know something about what was dark squamous being lay within him.

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When he stepped out of the elevator, no alarms sounded, no nets fell upon his head Instead, he saw an ordinary clean hallway, with numerous twists and turns. As he wondered how on Earth he'd find his way to his destination, he noticed a glowing arrow on the wall across from him, and on the floor. If he went the direction they pointed, more arrows would appears, forming a path for him, which lead him to an examination room not that different from those found in any other doctor's office.

And Doktor Archeville was there waiting for him.

Wow, he looks quite different in this clinical light, as opposed to the lamps in Taylor's library and the streetlights outside.

"Hello, Mister... Kid!" he said warmly, extending his hand. "I must say I was a bit surprised that you had called -- I thought after our last encounter, you and Phantom and her family had written me off. How have you been? Have you heard from them?"

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"I actually only know Erin." KC shook his hand, and smiled at him. "But I actually wanted to discuss something with you. I'd love to get a tour of your facility though- I wasn't aware Freedom City had any such places until just recently. But I figured you'd be the one to talk to about my...problem." KC adjusted his cape a little. He felt humbled in the presence of a genuine genius. "You know the whole....thing. Cthulhu thing."

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"Well, I can only show so much," he replied, "but I am happy to give you a quick overview!"

For Science!

His tone shifted slightly, to a more concerned a doctor-ly one, "But, uh, perhaps that should wait a bit." He say down on a stool opposite the Kid, and retrieved something that looked like an iPad from his labcoat pocket. He pressed a few buttons, and a holographic image of the preliminary paperwork the young hero'd had to fill out appeared in the air. "Please, tell me when and how this all started. The device will record what we say, and transcribe it to your file. It can also be used to record images, so I will be using it to take some pictures of you for the file."

I shall call this... 'The Case of the Cthulhoid Kid!'

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"It's a strange story, to say the least." the Kid said, taking a seat on the stool. "My parents were both artists. We grew up in kind of a Bohemian district, so I got to meet a lot of artists and other interesting people. They didn't really pay that much attention to me, I guess. Not that I'm bitter about it, or anything, but it wasn't exactly a nurturing environment." KC gulped and scratched the back of his head. "So my mom died. Alcohol overdose. My dad died not too long after. He didn't talk much after her death. I didn't really think about it until after they died, but I know they did some experimentation with drugs and magic. A few years later, I got a book as an inheritance. The Necronomicon." He pulled the grimoire out of thin air. He had been reading about how to keep pocket dimensions, so he always had the book in one that he set to be only accessible with his costume. The cover of the book was black, and covered with evil symbols and sigils. "This is where it all began."

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Archeville looked upon the tome with trepidation, "I... think I shall stay away from that for now."

Neglectful home environment... seeking attention and approval from others? Perhaps with the same cultist his parents dealt with? So sad!

He cleared his throat, "so, how, exactly, did that book cause your change? Did either of your parents exhibit any... side-effects, as you have? Do you know of anyone who has been as changed as you have?"

As he talked, he reached into another pocket and brought forth his Electromagnetic Screwdriver, and fiddled with the controls some.

It appears to be a very incongruous mutation. Saurian legs, chiropteran wings, a face like a cuttlefish... and the smell!

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"It was my fault. I tried a ritual in the book." KC's face fell as he remembered that night. "I was just so curious- I wanted to see what would happen. Well, one sigil and a few spoken words later, and I'm half-Cthulhu." KC said with a small laugh. He brought forth his hand, and summoned the eldritch energy inside of him. A small green flame floated a few inches above the palm of his hand. "The good part of the whole deal is that I get these cool magic powers. Pretty neat, huh?"

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The Doktor stroked his chin and nodded, "was that the first... ritual you had attempted from the book? What about others, do you know what happened when other attempted to use it?"

I am going to need a bigger sample group if I am to do a proper investigation!

"And were the changes only physical?" He ran the Screwdriver over the Kid's head and torso (though still kept a wide berth from the tome), "any mental or psychological changes?" He scanned the tiny ball of eldritch flame in the Kid's hand, too.

These readings make no sense! This is... a great case!

"Have you felt ill since your change, or changed when you did not mean to?"

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"It was the first ritual I attempted, yes. And I have always been able to control when I transform. It's never been a problem transforming when I don't want to." KC shifted uncomfortably a little as Dok scanned him. He was reminded of the metal detectors they always run all over you at the airports. "But no, there haven't been any adverse side effects other than the obvious." As Dok finished his scan, KC zipped open his bag and put the evil tome back inside. "I mean, even if there's nothing you can do for my condition, I'd just like you to maybe run a few tests. I don't know how much you know about magic and the paranormal, but I wanted a real doctor's opinion on it." KC said with a smile, his tentacles stretching and twisting over his mouth. "And just as well, I've kind of wanted to meet you since we first met. I guess in a way, I'm kind of a fan."

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"It was the first ritual I attempted, yes. And I have always been able to control when I transform. It's never been a problem transforming when I don't want to."

"Now that is interesting!," Archeville exclaimed. "In the vast majority of cases there is a 'learning period' where one must learn to control their new abilities. But you say you were in complete control for day one? I wonder if your experience with and exposure to prior rituals is the key...."

If so, this could be a boon for other Metahumans, too!

"I mean, even if there's nothing you can do for my condition, I'd just like you to maybe run a few tests. I don't know how much you know about magic and the paranormal, but I wanted a real doctor's opinion on it." KC said with a smile, his tentacles stretching and twisting over his mouth. "And just as well, I've kind of wanted to meet you since we first met. I guess in a way, I'm kind of a fan."

The Doktor actually blushed a bit, "that is quite flattering, but... well, you do not seem the type to be taken by scientists and technicians." He smirked, "I would think you peg you for more of a Siren fan."

She has such nice skin!

He looked down at his scanner, and his brow furrowed as he studied the readings. "Very interesting results here. The scan I just ran was of your internal organs, and... well, see for yourself!" He manipulated the Gadget again, causing a new image to appear on the hologram display before them. Some of it Blake recognized from his high school biology class, but most was a mystery to him. "AS you can see, the changes are more than skin-deep."

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KC almost jumped. "So you're saying, it not only changed my outwards appearance..." KC felt his stomach, as if expecting to feel an alien organ. "This is kind of cool, I have to admit. I'm glad it hasn't affect my health or anything. I've actually been very well since my change. I don't think I've ever been sick. I guess whatever the hell's inside me is somehow better than humans, at least in its immune system." KC flexed a little, and his wings sprung from his back. "Oh, and I have wings. It's kinda tricky controlling those sometimes. It's like a new muscle. Kinda weird."

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"A new resilience to pathogens could be a sign of altered biochemistry, too," Archeville said as he studied the new and weird organs of the holo-Kid Cthulhu, "or at least a drastically improved immune system."

I wonder if his appetites have changed? Are the things he likes now that he did not before... or things he cannot eat due to his new body?

"As for the wings," he turned back to the real Kid, "the difficulty with those is normal. And you are quite right -- it is a new muscle! They are essentially an entirely new set of limbs, so they alone would require extensive reworking of the human skeletal, muscular, and nervous system."

Archeville glanced at KC's bag, though the glance lingered longer than he'd intended. "That book," he said at last, "what does... that is, can you tell me -- in broad strokes, please -- what the book is about?" He looked back to his patient, "what it talks about? What other 'rituals' it holds? Does it speak of... alien worlds?"

Perhaps this is not a random mutation -- maybe the book (somehow) allows one to access other dimensions, and his attempt pulled in something but merged it with him. What else could be beyond? Could there be diseases there that he would be vulnerable to, but life forms native to this world would be immune to? Such exciting possibilities for discovery!

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KC remembered what happened last time. "Yes, yes. Alien worlds, terrifying new vistas of reality, the whole shebang. It's something no mortal should glimpse upon. I can't destroy it- believe me, I've tried. Plus, these crazy cultists in yellow won't stop following me! Those guys are creeps. I can't imagine what would happen if this fell into the wrong hands." KC flapped his wings. "But that is interesting. Having this as an additional muscle. What do you think, Doktor?"

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"Well...," he began, looking back and forth between his patient and the skinned holographic representation of him, "my first question would be, why have you not gone to Phantom about this, or to Eldrich? This sort of thing is their specialty, and as flattering as your appreciation of my scientific skill is, why come to me?"

Unless it was partly to check up on me, after my own incident with an 'eldrich tome'.

"As for my thoughts on your... condition," he continued, "I have a few hypotheses, a few ideas, but I will not have anything more concrete without many more scans and examinations. This," he held up his gadget, "is little more than a glorified x-ray-slash-MRI scanner, it can only tell me so much. Also, what can you tell me about these 'cultists in yellow'?"

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"First of all, neither Adrian nor Phantom have their phone numbers on the Internet." the Boy Eldritch Wonder said with a sly wink. "Also, you seem to have a little experience with the mystical. I was meaning to ask you about that book...but we'll discuss that later." KC scratched his tentacles, and adjusted his stance. "So yeah. The Kings in Yellow. They're always trying to steal my book! They keep saying something about the lakes of Hali, some mumbo-jumbo like that. Whatever. They be crazy men."

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"But you have been to Phantom's house," he said, brows knitting in thought. "Have you not tried going back there? Leave a note? She and her husband have not gotten back in touch with me since... that night, but I assumed it was because I such a... poor house guest," he said with a slightly nervous chuckle.

If they are avoiding me, I hope they get a good doctor for their son. JJ has special needs!

"And, yes, I do have a little experience with 'mysticism,' but it is just that, little experience. Though I do hope to expand on that," he said, smiling with returned confidence, "and I hope you will agree to be a part of those studies."

"'Lakes of Hali', eh?" he repeated, glancing again at the bag containing the dread tome. "Is that a location mentioned in your book? Or in other such books?"

Naturally-occurring portals to these extradimensional locations, and the unlucky wanderer to them writing about it, formed the basis of the books used by these cultists? Worth investigating!

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"Of course, Doktor. I'd be more than happy to help. I'm sure I could get an explanation from either of them, but I really wanted the scientific perspective first. Is that weird?" KC adjusted his cape, and polished the Elder Sign emblazoned on his chest with the back of his knuckle. "But that's kind of what I was here for. To be tested scientifically. Figure this out from a logical perspective other than...you know. Mystical!" KC paused for a moment. "I said the Lakes of Hali? I don't remember saying that. It must have been from a different book. I've been studying a number of mystical texts in order to maybe learn a little more about magic. Ever been to Carcosa this time of year?" KC paused for a moment. "Yeah, so I've read The King in Yellow recently. Umm...I wouldn't recommend it. Kinda messes with you. I have been chased by what I believe are Yellow Sign cultists. Among other people. This book is apparently of some value to magicians."

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"Carcassonne? Have not been there in...," he paused for half a moment, "actually, I do not believe I have ever been there!"

That is the place with the huge medieval fortress, yes? I bet Mona would love to see that!

"Well, if you are here to be tested in a scientific manner," he said with a renewed vigor, "let us begin!"

Some hours later, Kid Cthulhu was exhausted, and missing what he felt was half his blood. Archeville had run him through x-rays and MRI and CAT scans, ran him on treadmills, had him fly through hoops (literally!), and a dozen other tests. Every test left him with more questions than answers, and sparked ideas for further tests, but he had to keep reminding himself they needed to finish the basic tests first.

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KC walked from the last testing lab, breathing heavily. "Wow, Dok. Those tests were more intense than the SATs. When will I know my results? I hope I get to Stanford." KC retrieved the shirt of his costume from the lab chair he left it on, and slipped it on. "I don't understand half of what happened. I've never really been a left-brain kind of guy." He paced around for a moment, trying to get his breathing back to normal. "But whew. Intense." KC forgot he had left the Necronomicon outside of its pocket dimension. It could have been a fatal error. He picked up the tome, and shoved it back into what looked like thin air.

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"Well, we do want to be thorough," he chuckled, "and besides, knowing how unusual the schedules of people like us can be, there is no telling when I would get the chance again to run such tests!"

The life of a hero is a busy one!

"As for the results," he continued, looking over the projected holographic readouts of the tablet he held, "well, it is going to take us some time to make heads or tails of this. Especially the boodwork."

I can hardly wait to start the analysis!

"But, I will call you as soon as I have anything concrete," he extended his hand to Kid Cthulhu, "and if there is anything else you need, or begin experiencing anything unusual, please, do not hesitate to call! Or even drop by! My personal office is on the top floor, I usually leave the blinds open so heroes in dire need can fly right up and tap on the glass. Oh, and go see Phantom about safeguarding that book!"

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KC nodded. "That would probably be a smart idea. God knows what would happen if it got into the wrong hands." KC shuddered with the thought. The sheer chaos of it all. "But yes, I'll give her a ring sometime. I'll maybe try and get a magic lock together for it. It was nice seeing you again, Doktor Archeville." KC extended a squiddy hand to the Doktor.

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"Likewise, Kid," Archeville replied, "and I do look forward to continuing to work with you!"

He is a pleasant fellow! Even if he does... well... smell a bit. But no one is perfect!


One week later (Nov 17th, 2010, a Wednesday)...

Blake soared through Freedom's night skies on hideous pseudonatural wings. It was an unusually warm night, cool rather than cold, and as he flew he saw a few clouds pass over the gibbous moon. It'd be full in four days, and that'd be a time to watch for cultist activity... and to start preparing for Thanksgiving dinner!

As he thought on how to ask Robin if she was doing anything for Thanksgiving, another figure approached him, coming up from behind. KC heard the rockets first, and when he turned he saw moonlight glinting off golden armor. "Bonsoir, monsieur!" a voice announced from the suit's synthesizer. KC had heard of this newcomer to Freedom, a Frenchman in a piecemeal battlesuit who'd come last month in pursuit of cultists, but this was the first he'd actually seen him. "Nice night for a patrol, non? Would you be adverse to some company?"

I am going to kill you.

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KC smiled. He had heard of the Frenchman in golden armor, but he had never met him. The first thing he noticed about him was his armor. The guy definitely had style. He pulled off the gold very well. "Fine by me, good sir. It's an awfully nice night for a good flight, anyway. I believe I've heard of you. You were fighting some cultists, right? They can hardly get enough of me. Pretty annoying, you know." KC slowed down a little and flew next to him. "They call me Kid Cthulhu. Because of the..." KC looked at his skin a little self-consciously. "Yeah. What do they call you?"

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