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Sleep Sound Tonight (IC)

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Date: May 19th, 2011

Erin was early for her interview at ArcheTech, really early in fact. She hadn't wanted to be late, and was nervous about traffic, and since she hadn't been sleeping well anyway she'd woken up early and gotten ready. Then she'd felt stupid sitting around her room, so she'd decided to leave early... and wound up sitting on the parking deck outside the giant gleaming ArcheTech obelisk with nearly an hour to kill before her scheduled interview. She sat in the truck for a few minutes, but didn't want to spend the gas to run the air conditioner or risk sweating and wilting her clothes. So she got out and began walking towards the building, taking her time and taking everything in. This was one high-tech building that she hadn't been in during her previous life in Freedom City; it hadn't existed at all in her world. That was probably for the best, she wouldn't have to deal with those weird little deja vu feelings.

She killed a little more time by walking around the grounds and checking out what she could see of the building's security. It seemed very solid, though she wasn't an expert on that sort of thing, and she could tell that she was being monitored. With that in mind, she turned her steps back towards the front and stepped into the lobby, immediately feeling out of place. She looked fine, she reminded herself, her interviewing blouse and slacks weren't expensive, but at least they were new, and no one was really going to look at her worn shoes. By the time she'd gone to the restroom and checked her hair and teeth, then double-checked the manila folder that contained her thin resume, she was only half an hour early, and had run out of delaying tactics.

Walking up to the counter, she gave the receptionist a smile that tried not to be nervous. "Hi, I'm Er-, um, Keeley White, I have an appointment with Doktor Archeville. I know I'm probably way too early, I just, um, thought I would check in."

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"Ah, yes, hello, Ms. White!," the very perky blonde receptionist said in Minnie Mouse voice. "Doktor Archeville is expecting you, up on the twelfth floor. Here," she continued, holding out a VISITORS ID badge attached to a blue lanyard, "you'll need this to get around."

Erin wasn't sure 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. There were a few people going up and down the hall, or chatting as they waited for elevators to arrive. "Have a super day!"


Elsewhere, in his twelfth floor office, Archeville was going over some rather tedious paperwork -- signing off on several large invoices for assorted R&D equipment -- when an IM popped up on his monitor, alerting him of Wander's arrival.

Ah, here she is, the young woman Mona recommended!

I hope there is no call for her to hit me again!

"Ooh, I should get a fruit tray, maybe some coffee and juice!," he mused.

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"Thank you," Erin said politely, looping the lanyard around her neck and walking towards the elevators. As she went, she automatically scanned the layout of the building, checking on exits, windows, potential ambush spots, anything that might be of interest in a fight situation. She wasn't as paranoid about that sort of thing as she'd once been, but some habits never died. Some habits were good to keep up, especially if she wanted a security job. She got into the elevator and rode it up to the twelfth floor, fingers fidgeting with the plastic access card. She stepped out when the doors opened, then followed the indicator lights on the walls to the room where she hoped she was supposed to be. Taking a deep breath, she smoothed down her hair once more, adjusted her folder, then knocked lightly on the door.

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Erin noted several clearly marked exits, and that the windows in the lobby had all seemed quite sturdy. She did note several sharp corners where halls intersected, but she also saw several small cameras set in the ceiling, and numerous smoke detectors and fire alarm switches along her path. Her keen eyes also picked out several atypical seams in the walls and ceiling, concealed from casual observation by the pattern of the ceiling tiles or paintings and other decorations on the walls.

The dark wood double doors of Archeville's office, each decorated with a large golden A, silently swung open moments before her knuckles hit, revealing the large office beyond. Doktor Archeville sat in a high-backed chair at a large glass-topped table (covered in neat piles of papers), in front of which were two smaller, leather chairs. On one side of the room was a bank of monitors showing stock updates, news (local and global), and advertisements for ArcheTech's latest products. At the other was a small bar flanked by neatly ordered bookcases, a few comfy chairs and sofas, and some small tables.

Simple outfit, not far from shabby, despite her living situation. Though I have heard rumors she actually is well-cared for, so perhaps she is still having trouble adjusting to her life here.

"Ah, Miss White! Welcome!" He rose as she entered, a cheerful smile on his face, and walked around to the front of his desk to shake her hand. He glanced back at his desk, "ah, sorry for the mess, I was hoping to get these done before you arrived!"

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Erin shook his hand, her strength carefully modulated so that it was firm but not painful. "It's nice to see you again, Doctor Archeville," she told him, not sure she should bring their previous meeting up, but figuring it would be weird to not acknowledge it. "I'm sorry I'm early, I can wait if you have other things that need to be done. It's not a problem." As always, she took a moment to glance around this new room and suss it out, but tried to keep most of her attention politely focused on him.

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"Oh, no, please sit!" he insisted, indicating the two chairs before his desk. He returned to his seat, "these are not so urgent that they cannot wait an hour or two."

Good grip! Good control, too!

Tucked in with the invoices and requisition forms was a flashdrive, holding a copy of the info the League and others got when she first arrived in this dimension, including the initial psych reports they ran. Also on it were copies of the (sparse) reports of the observations 'Lenya' had made on her since last February. Along with his own observations of her made during their last meeting at the Farettis, and his review of all of these earlier this morning lead to one inescapable conclusion: she was a hero, not because of the serum in her veins, but because of her ceaseless work to keep people from suffering the kind of losses she had. This was a goal he could definitely appreciate.

"How are your classes going?" he asked casually. "You will be graduating this year, yes?"

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Erin nodded, sitting down and folding her hands over the folder in her lap. Confident posture, make eye contact, no weird facial expressions, she reminded herself as she answered. "Yes, I'm graduating in two more weeks. I still have to take finals, but right now I have a B average." She suspected that not a lot of B-average people came here looking for jobs, but she'd worked her butt off for it and wasn't going to be too ashamed. "I have a lot of combat training, simulated and real life experience. I'm very good at it." Okay, that was probably jumping the gun and being too eager to volunteer what he hadn't asked. She reminded herself to sit back and breathe normally.

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A B! That is certainly better than the impression she had given when we last met! Possibly some lingering PTSD or survivor's guilt causing the self-image issues.

"Oh, I know all about that," he chuckled. "First-hand experience, even! But, ah, we can revisit that in a moment." He leaned forward slightly, "what I would like to know first is, do you still plan on not attending college?"

Few colleges would turns her away based on those grades! But does she have any passions aside from beating up monsters and menaces? It takes more than just beating on Evil to make the world a better and safer place! And I would like to help her achieve that!

"Because if you had changed your mind on that," he quickly added, "but were still harboring doubts due to, for instance, financial reasons, there are several programs in place for the staff of ArcheTech that continue their education."

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Erin shifted uncomfortably, then shrugged. "I don't really think I'm college material," she admitted. "Even keeping up in high school classes was hard and took a lot of time, and my SAT was... not great." She didn't know whether she ought to admit that, but judging by all the paperwork he had in front of him, the information was probably in there anywhere. It was better to be honest. Maybe if she'd postponed the test longer, maybe waited till senior year instead of taking it with the rest of her class, she'd have done better, but it didn't matter that much. It didn't take a huge amount of education to smack bad guys around.

"With the things I'm good at, I can't really think of anything I could do with a college degree than I can't do with a diploma," she told Doktor Archeville frankly, fiddling with the edge of her folder. "And I would like to have a job and start working. I'm very responsible," she assured him. "You wouldn't have to worry about that at all, you can ask my teachers."

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Perhaps I should steer the conversation away from education. It seems a sore spot for her. But we can revisit it later!

The Doktor nodded, "I intend to, but I am more interested right now in knowing what your opinion of yourself is. What can you bring to ArcheTech, aside from your phenomenal strength and speed?" He nodded towards her folder, and held out one hand. "There is far more to being a security guard here than simply being able to take out trespassers, infiltrators, saboteurs, and escaped laboratory specimens."

I wonder what sector would best suit her? Lobby? Animal pens? The biochem labs?

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Erin moistened her lips and opened the folder, taking out a single sheet of white bond paper with her resume printed on the top two-thirds of it. It was obviously from a word processing template, and word processing didn't seem to be one of her strong suits. Everything was correct, but it wasn't exactly artistic. It listed her school, her GPA and graduation date, her contact information, all the normal information. Below that was a list of her experience, which included her membership in Young Freedom and a job as personal bodyguard for Jack Faretti, Jr.

"I have a lot of experience," Erin told him as he read. "Most security guards don't see a lot of action before they begin work, but I have. I know how to spot trouble, and I can work in adverse conditions. I'm hard to scare, and I will guard whatever I'm set to guard with my life. I don't have a family and I don't need much sleep, so I can work odd hours and on short notice, and I don't mind traveling. And if you need me to learn something specific, I can learn it." She'd prepared for this kind of question with Dr. Marquez, and thought it was a pretty strong answer, considering her considerable deficits in other areas.

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Typing skills... could use improvement. Though it is not like she will be filing many lengthy reports!

Archeville's eyes barely flicked over the sheet, for that was all he needed for his super-fast mind to read it. But he continued to look over it for a few seconds, lest Erin think he was brushing it off.

"Alright, then, show me what you can do. Not hitting!" He quickly added, followed by some good-natured laughter. "I mean, when you came in here, into the building, walked through the corridors, what was your impression, from a security standpoint? Did you notice anything that you think could be improved?"

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"Your security is really good," she told him honestly. "It's easy to see that you have experts designing it and directing it for you. There are only a few places where someone could stage an ambush without being seen, and I'm pretty sure you probably have cameras on those places. I could tell outside that I was being monitored when I walked around on the grounds. I'm pretty sure some of my friends could mock up one of these," she told him, lifting her visitor card a little, "but it's, you know, good for the general population. I figure your receptionist is probably trained up pretty well to spot trouble, and the guard in the lobby looked alert, even if I could've taken him out pretty easily."

She thought for a minute. "I guess what I'd worry about in a place like this is going to be metahuman security. How do you stop people from teleporting in, or getting into peoples' brains, or just exploding parts of the walls. I couldn't say anything about the kind of security you have without knowing more about how you deal with that. I mean, if I came in and was looking for trouble, none of that stuff would have stopped me. But I know you're a genius inventor, so I assume you probably have stuff that would. Or if you don't yet," she added with a flash of inspiration, "then I could help you test different things until you do. If it stops me, it'll stop pretty much anything that comes in flying or on foot."

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"Monitoring is one of our key security measures," he said in reply to the first part of her analysis. "We have cameras that can scan every square inch of the building, out to the parking lots, with filters extending their scanning into the infrared and ultraviolet portions of spectrum. Each floor has its own security substation that their cameras feed to, monitored by at least two guards at all times; each floor also has three guards on patrol. The entrances have metal detectors and backscatter x-ray scanners, monitored by a trio of guards in the primary security station station, concealed behind the reception desk. The primary station also receives feeds from all cameras, internal and external, and all monitors also feed to my office here."

A fine start, shows she is aware. Now, will she ask about- ah!

This... will be tricky.

"We do have motion detectors that can pick out invisible intruders, and neuro stunners housed in retractable turrets in the ceilings that can render unenhanced humans unconscious, and at least daze most metahumans. The walls are made of an assortment of highly resilient materials, which can be reinforced with energy screens for further protection. However...." The Doktor shifted slightly in his chair at her next questions, "we do not have any sort of anti-psionic or teleport denial fields in place, primarily for two reasons: one, those are rather expensive, particularly when the number of ArcheTech facilities around the world is taken into account, and our funds are pulled in a lot of directions already," he explained, placing each hand atop a pile of invoices on his desk and thumbing through them. "Two, those fields would interfere with a wide assortment of experiments, so having those fields active around the clock would be an impediment to our research. It is my hope, however," he steepled his fingers, "that you will be the first of many extranormal guards that I can hire for ArcheTech, as part of a 'metahuman job outreach' project I am working on in conjunction with a few other organizations."

Personal anti-psionic shields for them would be cheaper and less disruptive to the environment than building-wide fields, and- eep!

Her flash of insight caused the Doktor to pale a bit. His tone shifted, to a more formal (and slightly fearful) one, "that would not be necessary, Miss White. My company does not make a habit of human, or metahuman, testing, especially of weaponry, even nonlethal ones." His gaze fell to his desktop for a moment as he breathed in deeply, then exhaled sharply. He looked back up at her, seemingly calmer, and smiled, "besides, you are more than qualified for the position -- you do not need to add 'willing weapon effects test subject' to your list of qualifications."

'A fist or a target'? Is that really all she sees herself as?

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Erin listened attentively to the doctor's rundown of security, filing the information away for later. She knew she probably wouldn't remember all of it, but she would at least know the high points. She was startled when her suggestion about testing security met with such a negative response, tightening her fingers around the folder until it wrinkled and hoping she hadn't ruined her chances. "I, uh, I didn't mean to suggest anything bad by that," she offered, "it's just that at school, we did a lot of tests of new equipment and stuff. I mean, I know you wouldn't do anything to put people in danger." That was not entirely true, she still thought he was kind of creepy even now that he'd lost the messed-up accent, and she'd seen him get possessed and unleash evil magic things on the world. But that would hardly be a productive tack to take in the middle of an interview for a job she really needed!

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"I... am aware what Mr. Summers puts you all through," he said, shifting again in his chair, "but his purposes and mine are very different. Nor is he under the same level of scrutiny, both from peers and the general public-"

and myself

"as I am. Which is but one reason I am averse to human testing."

He was silent a moment, thinking through a dozen different things. How he could help her, how she could help him, how she could help herself.

"There is... one thing which comes to mind, one contribution you could make aside from your strength, speed, keen senses, and time. Would you," he fixed her with his Rhine blue eyes, "and I do wish to emphasize that this is completely up to you, and your acceptance or refusal of this will have no bearing on your hiring here," he tapped on the desktop at each emphasized word. "Would you allow us to take some tissue samples, blood and whatnot, so that we may study the changes the serum did to your physiology, and, with luck, replicate it?"

It could revolutionize medicine! But if she says no -- and it is her right -- no hard feelings.

But I hope she says yes!

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"Yes, that's fine," Erin said without hesitation. "They already took a ton of samples when I first got here and never were able to isolate what exactly the serum was, but maybe with more advanced equipment, you could figure it out." The doctor certainly seemed sincere about not taking her acquiescence into account for her job prospects, but saying no to a guy who was hopefully going to be your boss wasn't a great way to make a good impression. Besides, aside from the discomfort associated with the very invasive procedures needed to obtain blood and tissue from her, it wasn't really that much to ask. "Do you want them now, or some other time?"

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Yaaayyy!

Archeville beamed, "Thank you, Miss White! Ah, we can do so at another time -- we will need some specialized equipment to get the samples. But we can probably start... a month after you begin?" His tone indicated this was as much a question to her as it was to himself. "That should give you time to get a feel for the place, see if you still wish to stay on."

"Speaking of," he rose and walked around his desk to her side, "would you like a tour now? Have you been by here before? Or is this your first time here?"

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"This is my first time," Erin told the doctor, rising from her seat as well as he came around. Despite her nervous fidgets while sitting, she moved with the grace of a trained athlete while standing. "I spent quite a bit of time in the Goodman building, and I've done an extra credit project at the other Lab for my science class, but I haven't been to ArcheTech before. It's very nice," she added after half a beat. "The directional light things were really helpful. This place was built just in the last couple of years, right?" She set her folder down on the chair, ready to follow him on the tour.

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"Indeed," he nodded as the double doors opened for them. "This, the first ArcheTech facility, opened in October 2009. Since then, over a dozen other branches have opened, across the globe, making it an international chain of research laboratories."

The files the Freedom League has on her indicate the point of divergence for her world was 2006. I was still in Europe then, still forming plans for my company; she probably only knew of me from references on Star Trek or The Big Bang Theory. Well, maybe not Trek...

They continued down the hall, towards the elevator. "My vision was to establish a center for multi-disciplinary research, unconnected to any one government, working in a number of scientific fields. Particularly those pertaining to extranormal activity and the increasing emergence of metahumans. Our fields of research & development include bionics and cybernetics, energy projection, force field generation, genetics and genome stability, gravimetrics, advanced metallurgy, nanotechnology, and particle physics, among others. and, n addition to this exotic research," he was briefly interrupted by the chime of the arriving elevator, "ArcheTech also provides humanitarian aid in times of crisis."

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Erin nodded along with his explanation, though she didn't understand all of what he was saying. Some of her attention was occupied with observing and absorbing the scenery, but she hadn't been Alex Albright's roommate for two years for nothing, and she was able to get the gist of most of it. "Do you work with UNISON?" she asked curiously when he spoke about the humanitarian efforts. "I have a friend who's going to work for UNISON after we graduate," she added, trying to explain her sudden interest. "He's going to Africa."

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"Some, yes," he replied as they entered the elevator. "AEGIS receives most of the 'super-tech,' though UNISON does much the same job, but on a far wider scale, as well as less flashy but no less vital tasks like distributing food and medicine in Third World countries. We have done some work on communications, defense, and transport-related items for them."

Improved communications & surveillance satellites! Better, lighter armor! Antigrav personnel carriers! Weather control devices! Well, okay, that last one is still in the experimental stages...

The elevator stopped at the second floor, opening to a hallway mostly empty of people. Displays along the hallway showed local and international newsfeeds, and brief presentations on the latest ArcheTech inventions; currently a new type of efficient solar panel was being demo'd. One end of the corridor forked, but Archeville went down the other end, which lead to a mezzanine from which the entire ground floor lobby could be seen. He looked out over it, watching a group of high school kids come in; he beamed at the sight of the field trip. "Of course, most of the humanitarian work we do is in the countries where an ArcheTech facility exists. During the recent Grue invasion, for example, this branch uses its transporters to move people to safety, and equipment to resupply STAR Squads and other heroes, and our satellite helped locate the invading fleet. Our Russian facility helps with cases of radiation damage, and our mobile Pacific ocean station helped in Japan during the tsunami a couple of months ago."

Some of them seemed really excited at the sight of Fjölnirskraft...

"Who is it that is going to help UNISON in Africa?," he turned and asked. "If you do not think they would want it advertised, that is fine," he added, again being quite sincere; he was curious, but he was not going to pry.

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"My friend Edge," Erin told him, seeing no reason not to share that information. Mark was really excited about the new opportunity, nervous as he'd been at first about it. And when Mark was excited about something, the idea of keeping it a secret pretty much went out the window anyway. "With his powers, he's going to be able to do a lot of good down there for a lot of people. It's not traditional hero work, but it's what he really wants to do." It was her opinion that getting away from traditional hero work for awhile would probably be really good for Mark, after all that had happened with his dad. "Most of the rest of us are staying around, at least for now."

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"Ah, young Mr. Lucas!," the Doktor exclaimed, with more enthusiasm than Erin would have expected. "I met him once, briefly, during that bit of trouble you all had on Erde, and of course I have seen him on the news; he seems a fine young man. I had often wondered what he would be doing with himself after he graduated from Claremont. So much potential! And to do such wide-reaching work -- this is wonderful!"

It is more than that -- it is nifty!

The Doktor laughed aloud, drawing a few looks form the lobby below. "Ah, do forgive me -- I guess I am a bigger fan of his than I realized!" He took a moment to gather himself, cleared his throat, "right, so, down there is the main lobby, behind the desk is the main security office. Loading docks at the rear and sides, though much transport is handled by the teleporters, housed in the basement. Most of the ground floor is devoted to the public, information kiosks, rooms for press conferences, and the like."

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"Yeah, if we'd known back then how many times we were going to get sucked into alternate dimensions, maybe we'd have had you make some more permanent retrieval device," Erin said wryly. "It'll probably be really good for him, too, give him some perspective." She went quiet and listened attentively as the doctor explained the layout of the main floor. That was a lot easier to follow along with than the laboratory stuff, she knew what things like loading docks were a lot more clearly than she understood gravametrics labs! "How much of the building is open to the public?" she asked.

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