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Dr Archeville

Science of Stabpunching 201 [IC]

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Date: February 5th, 2011 (Saturday)

Erik Espadas had just entered the Brownstone's training hall, when he spotted a familiar silhouette against the wall.

"Ah, Jack, there you are!," Doktor Archeville greeted, stepping forward with hand extended. "I had hoped to speak with you, and thought you might already be in here practicing, so I teleported here directly. Guess I got here a bit early!"

Or he is late. The man certainly has enough distractions in his life to throw him off by a few minutes here and there. Hopefully my Christmas gift will have helped him, in some small way, with that!

"So, how have you been?," he continued, shaking the swashbuckler's hand. "How is Jill? Doing well in her studies, I trust?"

Erik wasn't sure which was more 'off' -- Archeville's original balls-out Mad Scientist routine, or this newer, kinder, softer version. One thing that was certain, though, was that in the last few times they had interacted (which had been over the course of several months), Archeville didn't set off the eerie tingle Erik would get when near him. Well, he didn't set it off as badly; the tingle was still there, but much reduced. Whether that was due to it truly being reduced, or Erik just acclimating to it, was up in the air.

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"Oh, uh, hey Dok," Erik greeted with surprise, shaking the other man's man reflexively. The scientists newly gregarious manner wasn't a necessarily unpleasant change, but the sarcastic younger man did find it a little off-putting. "I'm fine, just getting in my routine." The fencer had taken to exercising in one of the black, sleeveless bodysuits he wore under his royal blue greatcoat as Jack of all Blades now that he'd been able to afford a few spares, but as was his custom around the Underground, had forgone concealing his civilian identity. "Y'know you really can call us by our real names when we're not working," he added with a bemused smirk. "It's cool. So... did you need like, some... data or whatever?" He wasn't sure what else Archeville would be doing in the Wreck Room.

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"Ah, sorry, old habits," Archeville replied. "I remember that, for some time, you had still gone by Jack even when amongst us!"

But then he decided he could trust us! And that is great!

"As for why I am here..." He paused and chuckled, "well, I suppose you could say it is for data. Like you and the others, I do engage in some combat training, to try and keep myself at an acceptable level of competency. My own simulators can only do so much, though, so..." An impish grin spread across his face, "so, I was hoping I could get in a bit of fencing practice with you!"

"Of course," he added, leaning over a bit and speaking in a suddenly lowered and hushed tone, "that is just part of it, as I am also here on a social call of sorts, so we can get to know one another on a more personal level." He straightened back up, "I organized this team, and while it has done a fine job despite my lack of any real oversight, I would like to re-integrate myself into the team, at least in some small manner."

There is no reason why we cannot all be friends!

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"Ha, yeah, fair enough," Erik laughed, rubbing the back of his closely shorn, dusty brown hair. "Taking a little getting used to on this end, too." As the Doktor elaborated on his reasons for being there, the swordsman raised an eyebrow questioningly. "Well, uh, sure, Dok. Real opponent's always better than a simulator run, but erm..." The younger man looked for a delicate way to phrase his question. "Have you actually ever done any fencing before?"

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"It has been a few years since I have done anything formal," Archeville replied as he pulled back his labcoat and pulled out (from an interior pocket far deeper than its outer dimension implied) a sheathed rapier, "but I was, in fact, on HIT's fencing team, 1996-1997."

Ah, such simpler days.

"Mind you, the German school of fencing," he went on as he unsheathed the blade and took a few practice swipes through the air, "actually focused on using the Langschwert, a two-handed longsword, as well as the Großes Messer, a blade similar to the falchion, and daggers and staves. It also teaches fighting with shield in hand, and while armored. I thought this Italian blade, though," he gave a salute with the rapier, "might be better to start with."

Ha! Look at his face! He was not expecting this!

He flashed a grin at the scintillant swordsman, and took a ready stance. "So, still up for it?"

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"Alright, smart guy, colour me impressed," Erik allowed with a lopsided grin spreading across his face, a competitive edge creeping into his tone and body language as he tossed his duffel bag on the floor and crouched to unzip it. "'Course, there's a difference pretty knowing the theory and putting it into practice." Retrieving a foil of his own from the bag, he straightened, rolling his shoulders and back in a brief stretch. Even against an experience opponent, the fencer wasn't going to risk using his superpowered weaponry in a friendly sparring match; he tended to pump a lot of energy into his blades these days, enough that he'd have to consciously hold back to avoid injuring his opponent.

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"Oh, indeed there is," Archeville agreed, a small smirk creeping up, "though, for me, the gap is not as wide as it is for others. When I put my mind to it, I can do... well... most things." The smirk grew.

It is not bragging if it is true!

Archeville was of course nowhere near a match for the metamagical master of melee, but Erik would concede that he was skilled enough that he could probably win many competitions, and even teach the basics to students. Archeville's style, while drawing from many schools, was analytical and studious -- nearly instantaneous study thanks to his inhumanly fast mental processes, but still methodical -- while Erik's was far more fluid, inspirational, intuitive (and aided by his metamagical senses).

Oddly -- or, perhaps, eerily -- he seemed to really be enjoying himself.

Oh, this is fun!

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So much of Erik's time was spent fighting large groups or ranged attackers that it was a welcome change to return to the contained vigor of a true, sword-on-sword duel. Archeville's style confused him briefly as he put enough skill and effort into matching the scientists' pace that he didn't regret missing his regular workout. What's he... Spurred by a hunch, he abruptly turned a thrust into a feint and changed his angle of attack. There was the briefest of pauses, almost imperceptible, before his opponent swiftly compensated with mechanical efficiency. No reflex, he's actually thinking it all through. The swashbuckler mode of combat relied on his highly trained body responding to threats even before his conscious mind could identify them; by rights, Archeville's approach should have slowed him down considerably. "So, Dok, lemme know if - open on you left - this is a personal deal, but you're not just crazy smart, huh? I always got a little funky juju - whup, nice try - off you, but I kinda though maybe that was just all the gear you carry."

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"You can sense that, eh?," he replied, closing the opening at his left with a bit of fancy footwork. "I knew all my gear would set your senses off, but I always wondered if you would ever get anything off of me. What does my gear feel like to you? I keep meaning to ask you how that works."

Oh, why not tell him? We are all friends, and he should feel he can trust me!

"Ah, to answer your question: well, truth is, I am not entirely sure what it is, even after years of research. I -- hah, almost got me! -- I first assumed my fantastic brainpower was the result of a mutation, but all the Metahuman genetics tests came back negative, including the ones that could detect latent Metagenes. I even tried some of the tests Professor Psion and Doctor Kosmova developed to test for psionic abilities, which often go undetected by the standard Metahuman tests -- whoop! -- but those came up negative, too. I... well, this is going to sound really bad, but..." His movements and reactions slowed, "well, Psion may have actually been partly -- only partly -- right."

Oh, this is not going to win me any points. But, truth! And it is the best theory I have.

He was still now, "Psion is convinced humanity was evolving toward greater mental faculties, and that the future of humanity

involves the cultivation of those capabilities. In this, I believe he is partly right -- humanity got to where it is because we are the 'nerds' of Earth's life forms; we developed big complex brains by outwitting nature's 'jocks' with their claws or speed or armor plating or what have you. We had an evolutionary 'need' to develop sapience and intelligence, other species do not, at least not to the degree we have. However, he and others saw the wave of Metahumans that emerged during World War II," he shifted uncomfortably, "with all their wondrous and varied powers, as the future of human evolution, and in that he was wrong. Metahuman reproduction is still hard to predict, still too random to reliably pass on from generation to generation, and even Psion had to tinker with his children and grandchildren to cultivate their abilities to the point they are at now. But..." his voice lowered, quavered, "if he was right, if psionic and increased mental abilities are the next step in human evolution -- and given how prevalent these abilities are in certain extraterrestrial species, it could be the case -- then... well... I... I might be a... a preview in the next step of human evolution."

Man, am I glad my Other is not longer here -- he would be gloating like crazy!

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'Dunno, depends on what doohickey it is," Erik answered the inquisitive scientist, working a small shrug into his swordsmanship. "Your flying belt deal is kinda like a mini Dark Star, for one thing." The fencer slowed his own attack as Archeville clearly became distracted with his own explanations, eventually stopping altogether to listen. "Huh, can see why you gloss over the master race vibe when you can." The younger man snorted wryly, balancing his foil on his shoulder. "Hitler Clock may have been a little much." Seeing how uncomfortable the German hero was, however, he softened his expression. "Hey, Dok, c'mon. So you've got freaky magic brains. I see faerie glamour as three dimensional paisley. There's a pretty high standard for bizarre around here."

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"Yes, I do try to focus more on undoing all the horrible things my grandfather and the monsters he worked with did. And I told you," he added, "t was an anti-Hitler clock, the Grim figure is kicking-"

Waitasec...

His tone suddenly shifted, from apologetic/explanatory to confused/questioning. "Hold on - are you saying my brain, my mental energies, detect as 'magic' to you? Has it always read like that?"

Nooo... it could not... could it?

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"And I'm just saying most people don't want a tiny Hitler on their wall period," Erik told Acheville, spreading his hands with a bemused look. At the abrupt change in topic, he blinked and arched a brow. "Hmm? Oh, well, I don't know the technical names for all that stuff, but yeah, I guess so." He scratched the stubble on his chin absently. "Kinda reminds me of the Terminus kids in an 'ick' way, but they're definitely more radiation-y. Your deal smells less overripe and feels more... slick? Like a slimy, brain magic taste. I guess. Sort of." Even with ample hand gestures, the swordsman had trouble articulating his metamagi impressions into words. "Either way, there's less of it these days, I think. Or I just got used to it."

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"... hunh," was all he said.

Reminds him of the Terminus... an extradimensional component to my mental processes? Accessing some other dimension for storage? Drawing extradimensional energy to 'boost processing speed'? Tied in to the collective consciousness of humanity, though some sort of -- for lack of a better term -- Astral Plane? Oh, this does open some possibilities!

The smirk that flashed across Archeville's face would have been enough to give his intent away, but before even that Erik sensed the energy channeling though the scientist's nervous system, and he easily dodged the 'surprise' lunge. The fight was back on.

"So the Terminus kids -- Phalanx and Psyche, I presume -- smell like overripe fruit to you? Fascinating! Does Mona carry the same sensation? Her origin is not -- whoop! -- not entirely the same as theirs, I wonder if there are subtle differences you can pick up?"

I wonder if I could replicate his detection abilities?

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Abruptly bouncing his foil off of his shoulder to parry the sudden lunge, Erik nodded. "More or less. The half-pint is a sorta strawberry vibe, and the boyscout is more of a rhubarb and apples deal." Ducking under a quick horizontal attack with considerably more showmanship than was strictly necessary, he continued. "Ran into a speedster about the right age once who 'smelled' like raspberries past their prime. Mo', though..." With a wince, he sent a probing strike Archeville's way. "Let's just say, first time I saw her cut loose without any power dampers? I thew up. Like, a lot. Not cool."

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"Zephyr, right?," he asked while recovering from a temporary unbalance. "Strawberry, rhubarb and apples, raspberry... interesting blend; I shall have to consult the aroma wheel and fragrance wheel to see where those fall in relation to one another."

I wonder if Lynn ever let on that she as doing recon of them for me? Ah, well; if he asks, I shall tell. Friendship and teamwork are both built on trust!

He quickly recovered, in time to fend off the probe. "Ah, yes, Mona -- it was on yours and Dark Star's recommendation that she first came to me for help with her powers. I suppose I have you," he sent a few probing strikes of his own, "to thank for our being together!"

Maybe I should repay Erik in kind? No, wait, was Natalya not flirting with him? He would definitely be her type -- roguish, debonair. Ah, if I was still getting regular psionipsychotherapy with Elena, I might be more on top of their comings and goings!

"So, what do your senses pick up from Eli? Or Ellie?"

Heehee, Eli Ellie Eli Ellie Eli Ellie...

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"Dunno, maybe. Some rock guitar princess type." Challenging himself a bit, Erik deflected Archeville's cautious attacks in a manner that created the illusion of weak spots in his defense. "Kinda stumbled into this weird musical drama-fest that time. Heh, as for Mo'," he continued, capitalizing on his feints with a sudden strike, "can't take too much credit. Never woulda thought to set you two up that way." With a shrug, he fell back again, settling into a defensive posture. "Zip just reads like a crazy amount of electricity. All 'bzzzt'. Things are a lot less metaphorical when I actually recognize what I'm looking at. Mi heramita's like me; sorta bioenergy furnace in a stained glass enchantment."

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"We do make an odd couple, certainly," he said as he just barely parried away the strike, "and I was just as surprised! Still am, sometimes! If you had asked me a week before what I thought the odds were of my finding what I have with her, what we have together, I would have said they were so remote as to be mathematically disharmonious."

I have known Jack is good, based on the footage from the training sessions -- it is one reason why I recruited him in the first place -- but seeing it in person, sparring with him... wowee!

"Speaking of Eli, Elli, Billy and Grim," he shifted to a series of precise strikes, patterned after a Fibonacci spiral, "how would you say the team is doing? Do you all need anything, any additions or alterations to the Brownstone?"

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"Ah, I think we're - hup - good, Dok," Erin decided after a moment's consideration. With a sober look, he met the scientist's eyes without pausing the duel. "I know we didn't really turn out the way you were hoping, but I think we turned out the way we needed to." Intuitively catching onto the rhythm of Archeville's assault without ever recognizing the mathematics involved, he continued, "We needed backup in the field a lot less than we needed... this. Lynn's a social creature, the Knights imploding hit her hard. Bill was doing the stranger in a strange land routine and Eli needed somwhere he could slow down for once. Me..." The fencer smirked broadly. "Well, I needed folk who could call me out when I was being a jerk."

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Archeville shrugged, "no battle plan survives contact with the enemy," he scrambled to cover the opening his shrug had exposed, "and it is rare indeed for an experiment to come out with no unexpected permutations."

Lynn was not the only one who was hit hard by the dissolution of the Knights... though I suspect Lynn never told you all the full details for the team's disbanding.

"You all have done fine things with what I gave you, though," he shifted to patterning is strikes on pi, "so I certainly cannot label the team a failure. Well, not a complete one; there was the incident with Avenger," he broke the pattern to send a probe Jack's way, testing how hearing that unpleasantness brought up would affect him, "but, if anything, you all came out the stronger for it!"

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Erik snorted derisively at the reminder, knocking the Doktor's probing thrust away a little more forcefully than he had the others. "Man, I know what you were going for, testing the security, but Lieutenant Governor Broodington? Great in a fight, responsible dad and a tremendous, nigh-incomprehensible jerk." Clearly a little irritated, the fencer pressed forward more aggressively, though neither his accuracy nor his defense seemed to suffer perceptibly. "And this is coming from a guy who knows jerk."

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"You are smarter than you... give... yourself credit... for," Archeville replied, struggling to keep his defense up in light of Jack's increased aggressiveness. "Or, rather... than you let yourself.. appear to be. And, yes, in retro... spect I probably should not have... gone with someone so... extreme for the test."

Glad to see Erik is not holding any grudges!

"Speaking of... atypical people," he shifted to a purely defensive stance, focusing wholly on deflection, "how is Vince doing? What is your 'read' on him? Have you all been comfortable taking orders from him? Does he seem comfortable in giving orders to you all?"

I hope they are! And I hope he is!

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"Pfft, yeah, I'm a mystery wrapped in an enigma," Erik snorted flatly at Archeville's assessment, though the dry tone carried a note of good-natured amusement. "I'm fine letting Vince run the show; guy's got eyes on the big picture, just makes sense to have him coordinating." Easing up on his rapid attack, he gave the Doktor enough room to do more than focus on defense. "He seems fine with it, but it can be tough to tell with him sometimes, y'know? Never totally sure how much of the talk show thing is just him being the class clown."

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"Heh, the 'class clown' bit was definitely not something I had expected when creating him," he said as he took a slightly more offensive stance, "but there is much about him that came about on its own -- er, on his own, I suppose I should say -- after I laid out the foundation."

He has grown so fast!

"I figured if anyone could tell if he as having difficulties, it would be you," he continued, punctuating the last word with a thrust, "as you are the one he seems to interact with the most. He always did favor films from the 20s, 30s and 40s, and you do have an Errol Flynn vibe to you."

Which is fitting, given one of the components of his creation!

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Erik smirked as he parried Archeville's thrust and responded with a sudden feint. "Ha, well, flattery will get you everywhere, but I'd hate to make Mo' jealous," the fencer drawled dryly. "Vince once told me that humour is hard enough that he has to slow down closer to human speed for it, which is good, since thinking so fast gets kinda lonely." The younger man appeared the feint again but at the last moment recommitted to his blow, following through. "He might have been joking about that, though."

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"He was not," Archeville replied flatly, struggling to parry the blow.

Hrm, another uncomfortable revelation. Still, I suppose it is good to let them know some of my own vulnerabilities.

"It is a problem I myself faced for a very long time," he went on, resuming the offensive. "My own mind works so fast, goes in so many directions at once, it is sometimes... difficult to talk to others, to properly convey what I am thinking about. It is one reason the relationship between Mona and I has worked so much better than all the ones I have had previously: she can actually keep up with my trains of thought, which is, frankly, refreshing."

She may not comprehend them all, but she tries! And the fact she does means so much!

"I am sure it is a issue with which you," he again punctuated the word with what first seemed to be a thrust, but changed midway to a swipe, "are not unfamiliar. A quick wit like yours surely finds some frustration when dealing with those who are less mentally and socially adroit, no?"

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