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Supercape

Welcome to The Lab! (IC)

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Date: December 1st, 2010

The press and public swarmed outside the doors of the Lab. It under an hour till the ground floor expo would open.

Supercape had changed into his modified "Supercoat" costume, same theme and colour, but instead of a magnificent spiffy cape, he had a magnificent spiffy lab coat. His face was still masked of course.

The laboratory was now fully functional. Teething problems, of course. Especially the damn main computer bank on floor 13. Still, the back up systems were working fine. Even the particle accelerator underground was up to speed (he chuckled at his own mental pun).

He dusted of his immaculate lab coat. It never needed dusting of course, but it reassured him. He didn't like crowds.

The entire ground floor and first three levels were given over to demonstrations and public relation functions of the new building. Despite his nervousness, he was excited. So many toys to play with!

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Dragonfly was in her normal costume and gear, though she'd apparently either dedicated some time to cosmetic repair on her gauntlets, or just built a new set; they were suspiciously dent-and-scratch-free.

Her arms were wrapped around her stomach, one finger tapping on her ribs as she looked out at the crowd. She bit her lip, her visor (against her better judgement) calculating just how many people were in that crowd. "Many-" Her voice stopped on her, and she cleared her throat to try again. "Many people. Didn't expect it to be so...mm. Popular."

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Miss A, who was keeping an eye on the crowd as she adjusted a display of prosthetic models, gave Dragonfly a reassuring smile. "Don't worry about it, they're all just interested in seeing the inside of this place. It got put up so quickly, and with so much security, I imagine that everyone is itching to see what it's like." The beautiful heroine, clad in a burgundy and navy skirt suit beneath her pristine white lab coat, didn't look at all concerned by the press of people. "Just remember that this is your place. There are areas that are off-limits to the public, no one is going to tell you that you need to stay out here if you decide not to talk to anyone."

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"Just remember that this is your place. There are areas that are off-limits to the public, no one is going to tell you that you need to stay out here if you decide not to talk to anyone."

Dr Estelle de Havilland nodded in agreement; she'd opted to wear her jumpsuit under her lab coat, feeling it best presented the image of a scientific hero.

"Absolutely; and remember, you are prefectly within your rights to ask someone to leave the building, or even have them escorted out by security if they prove to be difficult. This is our new home for scientific endeavors, and we should all feel safe here."

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Ironclad made a controlled fall from a great height, activating her etheric drive at the last moment to counteract the fall and stop her from impacting on the concrete. She had chosen her landing spot carefully, and she didn't raise any dust or dirt to cover the other gussied-up super-science hero. Her own armor had been polished and buffed until it shone in the sunlight -- but that was before her entire left arm had been covered in some green-yellow gunk. As the heroine walked up to the others, her helmet folded back to reveal Jessica Parker's flushed but excited features. "Sorry I'm late," she said. "Someone brought up slime monsters from the sewers, and I was in the area." She gave the ooze a critical look. "Um, maybe I should stand to the back?"

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Supercape shook hands with his Labmates. He knew Miss Americana particularly well, of course. The others, he had only met as his alter ego at the Braniac Brunch Meeting, and briefly during the course of the Lab construction.

"Well, we still have some time before we have to meet the masses. A short speech from all, nothing more than a minute tops, would be good, providing everyone is happy to do so. Then a bit of mingling, meet and greet, all smiles and what not, then back up here to play with the toys and a spot of tea!"

"I can't say I'm particular fond of crowds. At least we have some PR staff down there to help. "

He coughed and looked at his shoes.

"Any volunteers for the first words?"

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The young woman made an expression distantly related to a smile - third cousin twice removed, perhaps - and shifted her weight a little. "That's -mm. Thank you. Both." She nodded to the two women in turn, shrugging a little. "Should probably stay here unless it kills me. Good...practice. Sink or swim?"

"Sorry I'm late," she said. "Someone brought up slime monsters from the sewers, and I was in the area." She gave the ooze a critical look. "Um, maybe I should stand to the back?"

Dragonfly blinked behind her visor, tilting her head to look at her friend and the ooze. "Don't...not on the carpet? Dripping concern. Poor opening if someone slips and falls two minutes in. Showers are available if you think you have time. Wind tunnel, maybe, if it's cohesive and the viscosity is-"

"Any volunteers for the first words?"

Her's head immediately whipped around. what's the phrase "Not it."

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Supercape looked around at the other members.

Scientists aren't reknowned for public speaking. Me included. He reminded himself.

He fingered the five straws in his lab coat pocket, one with the cut off end. Perhaps nobody would volunteer...

Good thing I came prepared...

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"Any volunteers for the first words?"

Gossamer nodded her head and raised her hand. "I'd be happy to go first, unless someone else would like the honors; my mother's been drilling the importance of good public speaking into my head since I was five."

She peered over her shoulder at Ironclad's unfortunate ooze stain, and made a face. "Ooh, that is nasty! If you'd like, you can always hide behind my mass of hair as it waves dramatically in the breeze; I'll make sure it only blocks the parts you don't want the public to see."

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"That sounds wonderful, Estelle, I know you'll make us all look good," Miss A said complacently. "I have a few remarks prepared as well, for whenever they might fit in. Jessica, we still have a few minutes, why don't you go and get yourself washed up?" she suggested kindly. "I think I can dig up some polish somewhere that will take off that goop, and you'll be good as new. You don't want to have to stand in the back, or risk getting any of that into Gossamer's hair."

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"Spiffing!" remarked Supercape, taking his sweaty palm from the now redundant straws.

"I'll put the Kettle on! Tea for everyone! helps lubricate the vocal cords and calm the nerves!"

He switched on the high powered microwave kettle and put some tea in the pot. He had, of course, insisted that the Lab had abundant supplies of all sorts and varieties of tea on every level, much to the bemusement of his fellow Lab-mates and the constructors.

His hands trembled slightly as he made the tea. He had made the mistake of glancing at a security camera and seeing the press thronging on the ground level.

"Oh dear" he muttered.

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Dragonfly shot Gossamer a grateful look, extraordinarily relieved to not have to go first. She'd managed to get her finger to stop its incessant tapping, though she hadn't gone so far to move her arms. And she grimaced when Supercape mentioned tea. hot water - ugh "Not for me. Prefer coffee...stimulants probably unwise for me anyway. Vocal cords will likely be best-off with calm nerves."

"Thank you, anyway," she added, mostly as an afterthought. thanking for rebuffed offers - very odd - social conventions are annoyingly complicated

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Ironclad regarded her slimed arm, then shook her head. "Thanks, Gossamer, but I think I can handle it. This stuff cracks off pretty well once it heats up, and we should have a ceramics kiln down on Manufacturing." She glanced around the room, noting the mob of reporters outside. "Just wanted to make sure I had time to." The superheroine nodded at the group and headed for the elevators. As she moved, she surreptitiously called up a chat box and connected to her friend's personal network. Don't let them rattle you, she typed. Just remember that you're smarter than anyone here. She paused for a moment to select her floor and enter her security passcode, then quickly added, except for me, of course.

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A pinprick of blue-gray light appeared in the room with the assembled super-scientists, and they all felt the slightest twinge of vertigo as gravitational fields twisted and folded space into a microwormhole. Doktor Archeville suddenly appeared, in highly polish black rubber-soled workboots, neatly pressed khaki slacks, a white dress shirt, and an immaculately clean labcoat. His teeth gleamed, his eyes smoldered, and his hair was almost as luxurious as Gossamer's.

"Hello, Ladies...," he said with an easy grin and a voice as rich and flowing as melted butter. "And Supercape."

The place looks great! I am so happy for them all!

"Hope it is alright for me to drop in like this," he continued, walking about and admiring the room. "I know I am not officially a member of this fine organization, and me being seen here could stir rumors that this is connected with ArcheTech, when we know it is its own entity. But I would be happy to lend my keen eye to monitor things from one of the non-open areas, while you all show the guests and paparazzi around. A place like this," he spread his arms wide, "is bound to attract attention, particularly supervillain attention. I believe it would behoove you to have someone on monitor duty while you do the meet-and-greet, so that you do not miss anything while socially engaged. And as it so happens, my schedule for the next..." he glanced at the A. Lange & Söhne watch on his left wrist, "two hours, so I am both willing and able to offer my services for such monitoring."

I like to help!

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The little icon in Ironclad's systems that usually indicated Dragonfly's connection animated, sticking its tongue out. You wish. So do I. Suspect I'm not the smartest...but thank you. It's a nice thought. Will just have to put up with the crowd...and try not to vomit.

Dragonfly - impressed with Archeville's entrance but apparently not awfully moved by his flowing hair and sumptuous voice - snorted. "Would have to be crazy to try. But...generous offer. Thank you. Good to have someone with your skills watching, if no one else has objections."

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Hmph. Not a gentleman? thought Supercape, for an instant. Anyway.. good to have him on board, he was the father of the Lab, really.

"Excellent stuff!" he exclaimed, holding up a finger and circling it to emphasise his point. "And aside from your generous offer, it is most fitting you are here, as you are the prime reason for the building and the organisation. In fact, if you would be prepared to make a little introductory speech, I am sure we would all be grateful!"

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"Actually," Miss A cut in, "while we're absolutely delighted to have you here, Doctor, and it would be wonderful to have you monitoring the opening, a speech might not be the best idea. After all, though I'm sure we'll be working hand in hand on a number of projects, we don't want to confuse the press and the public that we're actually a subsidiary of ArcheTech. Seeing the doctor give a speech, no matter what the substance of it, would give the wrong impression. Today should be a day where we speak our own words. I'm sure you understand, Doctor Archeville?" she asked with a smile.

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"Crazy -- and desperate -- is often used to describe supervillains," he replied to Dragonfly, "but while I would like to believe that there are no so crazy that they would try and attack this fine facility while you all are here, I also know that it is best to hedge one's bets."

I really should try and schedule some time to chat with Dragonfly. She is obviously bright, and painfully shy. No... no, not shyness, something else...

"Actually, Miss Americana," he turned to the scintillating secret cyberkinetic, "I agree with you fully, 100%. This is your show," he stretched his arms out to the assembled Brainiacs of Freedom, "and, in fact, I would prefer it if my name was mentioned as little as possible. You are the ones who designed this, you are the ones who built this, and you are the ones who will be working here to make the world a better place. Besides," he added with a sly grin, "confusion about who is actually running this place aside, can you imagine what they would write if they saw me up on the podium, surrounded by four highly intelligent and highly skilled blue-eyed blonde women?"

Every one of them! Even Supercape! What are the odds?!

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"Very well then, its decided! and your support is always welcomed, Herr Doktor! Danke Schon!" replied Supercape.

Stop delaying it. You have given tons of lectures before. Admittedly, not in front of live TV camera feeds...

He glanced at the cameras. "Nearly time then, folks. Just a few words each, and then a little mingling and all that jazz. Then retreat back here. "

He coughed and cleared his throat singing "lalalalala". He glanced around at his fellow laborians - "Just clearing my throat" he added, by way of explanation.

Taking out his PDA, he took down the order of speeches "So, its Gossamer opening, then the rest of us can chip in. Thanks again, Gossamer. Jolly good show. "

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At the mention of mingling and speeches, Dragonfly went from nodding at Archeville and Americana's words to wrapping her arms back around her body, the finger tapping like it was trying to break through into her lung. right - a few words - try not to look stupid - prepare? - too little data - watch others pick up ideas - oh god that's a lot of people - shut it out - standard advice picture them naked? She tilted her head and looked outside, but found that it didn't really help. Some of them she just never, ever wanted to imagine naked, and the others....

The HUD in her visor twitched and went fuzzy for a moment as her connection to it wavered. Shaking her head, she got control back and decided to stop that train of thought where it was. don't need extra distractions

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The clock was ticking down the final minutes. Supercape pressed for the elevator shaft A (one of the three equidistant spines running up and down the periphery of the Lab). It would take them almost directly to the speaking podium of the Ground Level.

"Ladies? shall we?" he asked, politely offering them the lift first.

Never hurts to be chivalrous...

At the Ground level, the intro music, Also Spach Zarathustra, started playing, and the lights started dimming. Lasers light displays started spinning, and the spot lights swung on to the podium. All was ready. Camera's started flashing, but the crowd went silent.

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Ironclad relaxed on the first sub-level, one of the ones they admitted existed. This kiln hadn't even been test-fired; she'd had to removed the plug blocks and connect it to electricity. She had the smiled armor sections locked inside and heating to nearly 400 degrees. The heroine herself say on a nearby table, watching the various news feeds of the event happening above. The slime monsters had been tough, and Ironclad had been lucky to escape. Especially since she had hunted that particular clutch down. Anything to avoid public speaking.

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Gossamer stepped to the podium, her hair cascading down her back, and offered those in attendance a warm smile.

“Ladies and gentlemen, members of the press and distinguished guests; I am Dr. Estelle de Havilland, and on behalf of myself and my fellow partners in scientific endeavor, I’d like to officially welcome you all to ‘the Lab’, a facility dedicated to spearheading scientific research, utilizing not only state-of-the art facilities but also the many and varied gifts of our diverse and talented members. We at the Lab could not be more excited to have the opportunity to open our doors and invite you to have a look around at a place that I like to think of as ‘a world of pure imagination’, as the great Willy Wonka might say.â€

She paused and then smiled a silly little smirk.

“But please don’t sample the Fizzy Lifting Drinks; they’re still in the development phase.â€

After waiting for the amused response to die down, she turned to indicate the equally impressive woman standing nearby with a nod.

“I would now like to yield the podium to my distinguished colleague, Miss Americana. Thank you.â€

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Miss Americana stepped forward, every eye and camera in the place instantly focusing on her. "Thank you, Estelle," she said politely, then turned to the guests. "Good afternoon, everyone. On behalf of myself and my colleagues, I'd like to add my welcome to Doctor de Havilland's. The lab we've built here has been a lifelong dream for many of us, an opportunity for us to fully utilize our skills, knowledge and powers in service to humanity. I'd like to thank everyone who's supported us in the endeavor." She took a moment to list the names of the major contractors and a few donors who had assisted in the speedy construction of the Lab, not bothering with a written note but remembering every name nonetheless.

"And most of all, I would like to thank the citizens of Freedom City for their support and encouragement of our efforts here. There is no finer city in the world in which to be a scientist or a superhero, and we are all grateful for your presence here today. Please feel free to look around and ask any questions you wish. We are all eager, maybe even too eager, to talk about our pet projects." She gave the audience an endearing smile. "There are refreshments being served in the rotunda, and the Freedom City Orchestra has provided a string quartet as well. Again, welcome, and enjoy yourselves!" She stepped away from the podium, but remained near the crowd and accessible for questions, hopefully drawing heat away from her more reticent colleagues.

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Dragonfly took a deep breath, setting her shoulders and making her way toward the podium. don't stutter don't stammer don't sweat don't vomit don't hesitate don't overthink don't underthink for Tesla's sake sound like a normal person - or as normal as possible

Looking out over the assembled people she couldn't for the life of her manage to flash the smile she'd been intending to give, but hopefully a more serious face would do. probably more fitting anyway "Not...I'm not a...very good public speaker," she began, telling her stomach that if it didn't stop fluttering she'd find a way to make it structurally superfluous. "I am more the...nose in a project, poorly-socialized type. So I will keep things brief - spare you all my social ineptitudes." Now she flashed a smile, if a fleeting, forced, self-deprecating one.

"This - all of this," she gestured at the building and the other scientists, "is not for us. I mean, it is, of course - we own the building, we do work here. But not for ourselves. Our group - our building, our resources, the work we do - is for you. All of you, and the city, and anyone we can help with something we make, we think up. Maybe we can change the world, even out the damage and hardship made by more selfish or irresponsible minds. Maybe we can't. But we can certainly - must certainly - try."

She paused briefly and surrendered the podium, stepping down to find a wall somewhere to put her back against. almost not bad - could have been better - now to try to avoid being surrounded - fairly certain putting up a force field at a party is socially unacceptable

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