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Supercape

Space Safari: Fulcrum, Gossamer, and the Giant Beast

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Target 1

Supercape had carefully studied the first target, and the first planet, on the information disc given to him by Mr. Flowers.

The world itself was a chilly, miserable place, lit by a dying sun. The gravity was a little low, the air a little thin, but nothing problematic. What would be the real trick was the temperature. A mild minus fifteen. At the equator. At midday.

It was a testament to the power of evolution that life had managed there at all. Apparently on the basis of high levels of ultravoilet radiation that was utilised as the main energy source.

The target itself was huge. The creatures were around two hundred feet tall, bipedal, and aquatic (when they burst beneath the ice shelf to the magma heated liquid below). It looked like a huge albino godzilla. It would take some serious muscle to lift and subdue, and as far as he could see his own radiation powers would be seriously limited in taking down a life form adapted to metabolising off ultravoilet radiation.

What he needed was some very strong heroes, able to drag the creature across the icy landscape, or from the depths of the ocean, for some careful transportation.

His fellow Lab hero, Gossamer, would certainly be one option. Her hair was stronger than steel, and could punch through it. He had pulled up some other names - the power house known as Fulcrum had sprung out as an obvious candidate...

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Dr Estelle de Havilland received an email from her Lab associate Supercape, asking if she could stop by his lab to help him with a challenging situation; to be honest, she was happy for the interruption, as she'd been essentially hitting her head against a brick wall all day on her current project. She quickly saved all her work, locked down her PC and then her lab space, and took the elevator to Cape's floor. Still wearing her labcoat over her silver and blue jumpsuit, she gently rapped a knuckle against his door.

"Hi Cape, it's Estelle; I came as soon as I could. May I come in?"

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"You may indeed, madam!" replied Supercape, opening the door. "Please come in! take a seat!"

He took one himself.

"Damnest thing, my dear. This rather queer chap, Mr. Flowers. Gave me this..." he tossed her the transport ring. "and this..." followed by the data disk "and transported me to what I guess was the other side of the galaxy..."

"Look, I know it sounds crazy. But, well... yes, dammit! it does sound crazy. But the truth of the matter is it isn't. I even gave myself an MRI scan of my head when I came back just to be sure. And well, you can see those two things. They aren't earth devices I can tell you. And the maths on that disc makes my head hurt even trying to understand if I could ever understand it..."

He sighed.

"Mr. Flowers is some kind of galactic conservationist. A few stars have been flung out of the solar system. Too far for him to reach but close enough to scan. He wants to collect a few specimens, and believe me they are truly remarkable specimens, before they are lost forever. And I can get there".

He shook his head. It hurt.

"I can get there. What I can't do is catch the damn things. I'm no hunter. Spent my childhood in the library, not outdoors. I won't be much good as your rugged man of the wild. I would be terrible, in fact. Besides which, these specimens are no easy catch. So I thought about it, and put some names together of people who might be willing to lend a hand. "

He stretched and smiled at Gossamer.

"So, your name came up for target number 1. Giant beast. Outdoor work with heavy lifting. Not for me, but you know your biology, and can lift a lot more than me, that's for sure. "

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"You may indeed, madam!" replied Supercape, opening the door. "Please come in! take a seat!"

"Thank you!" She gladly accepted the offered seat, and easily caught the tossed alien artifacts with her shimmering hair; eyes wide with wonder, she turned them over as she studied them, passing each from tendril to tendril like ships on rolling waves. "Fascinating!"

"So, your name came up for target number 1. Giant beast. Outdoor work with heavy lifting. Not for me, but you know your biology, and can lift a lot more than me, that's for sure. "

Still holding the objects, she shrugged. "Well, I'd be happy to help, if only for the chance to visit another solar system; perhaps if I'm very lucky I can sneak a few samples, though of course I would have to isolate them completely here in the Lab." She stopped and frowned. "Mmm; the potential risks might outweigh the benefits, though I will have to discuss the possibilities of further excursions across the universe in the future!"

Then another thought struck her, and her frown deepened considerably. "About this Mr. Flowers...what do we really know about him? is he actually human, or another race entirely, and if so, how and why did he change his appearance? And is he actually a conservationist, or might he be some sort of...oh, interstellar poacher?"

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"About this Mr. Flowers...what do we really know about him? is he actually human, or another race entirely, and if so, how and why did he change his appearance? And is he actually a conservationist, or might he be some sort of...oh, interstellar poacher?"

"Its a good question" conceded Supercape "and one I had given some thought to".

He paused momentarily, putting his chin on his hands in thought.

"As far as I can see, we have absolutely no way of establishing the answers to those questions. With the technology he possesses, he could probably fool us anyway. The only comment I can make is that he hasn't, so far, been malign. That isn't much to go on, of course. "

"I checked out the planets. They are indeed in hypervelocity systems, ejected from our galaxy. So that pans out. They will soon be flung far from our galaxy into intergalactic space, and probably lost forever. In a sense then, even if he is a poacher, he may be performing a conservationist role. And I am not entirely sure what his motivation could be other than conservation - of some sort or another. A chef? well, its a lot of effort for a few meals..."

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"I checked out the planets. They are indeed in hypervelocity systems, ejected from our galaxy. So that pans out. They will soon be flung far from our galaxy into intergalactic space, and probably lost forever. In a sense then, even if he is a poacher, he may be performing a conservationist role. And I am not entirely sure what his motivation could be other than conservation - of some sort or another. A chef? well, its a lot of effort for a few meals..."

Estelle nodded as she stroked the bridge of her nose with a slender finger. "I suppose you're right; based on the facts, he more than likely is telling the truth, and if he isn't, how could we prove it?" She passed the two items back to him as she steepled her fingers and turned various ideas over in her head. "So yes, I'm willing to go; my suit provides protection from the cold, but I might have to have my techs make a few modifications, in case the planet's environment exceeds the suit's capabilities. As far as the actual capture goes..." The blonde chemist idly formed a lasso that she whirled over her head like a cowgirl. "Hmm, I'll need help, someone else with muscle or a strength-enhancing device; a flier or at the very least a jetpack would be immensely helpful, especially since we'll probably need to cover a lot of ground to find the specimen. And most importantly we'll need some means of restraining the creature, preferably a combination of sedatives and either a stasis field generator or low-powered neural impulse scrambler. What do we have available here at the Lab?"

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"A sedative sounds a good idea" replied Supercape "Although biology is more your expertise than mine, I know. And if we can't whip up something in the Lab, with our equipment, I don't know where else can. I suppose we could order some, but I would trust your expertise more than some generic pharmaceutical company, to be honest..."

"As for muscle, I was thinking of the superheroine known as Fulcrum? Size of two women, strength of twothousand? or something like that anyway. I don't know if she could tolerate the cool clime, but the name was top of my list. Do you know her?"

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Fulcrum received Supercape's message in a timely manner. Unfortunately, her phone was buzzing while the owner wrestled a rather large snake. A rather large snake as in the size of a taxi cab. In girth. Oh, the beast had lasers and hover engines too. Yeah, Fulcrum was preoccupied.

Thankfully, the villainous mastermind proved no match for Fulcrum's power and did not appreciate being tied in knots. As the Blackstone facility hauled it away, Mona checked her messages. As usual everyone and their dog wanted to call, text or email while she was busy.

Of course, this one from Supercape was...intriguing. She really didn't know the man, but had heard a few things through Viktor. Which only intrigued her more after reading the message's contents. With the beast under control, time to follow up!

Standing before Supercape's lab entrance, she double checked the address and knocked "Hello? Mr. Supercape? This is Fulcrum. I've come to chat about your email."

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"Aha" replied Supercape "perfect timing!"

He took a look at the doorway, frowning slightly. He guessed Fulcrum would have to stoop slightly. Really, the Lab should have been a bit more flexible for differently-sized beings, he realised. He would have to speak to Dragonfly about that.

"Come in, come in" he continued opening the door and craning his neck slightly, offering his hand upwards and scanning the superheroine. HE could sense the terminus energy oozing out of her.

"Take a seat" he said. "And allow me to introduce you to Gossamer, another Lab-member. Apologies if you have met already. Its a small world in Freedom City, I know."

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"Thank you," Fulcrum replied politely and stepped inside. She did stoop somewhat to enter, but from the looks of it the maneuver was almost reflexive by this point.

Smiling to the two, she shook Supercape's hand firmly and took the pro-offered seat. She did hover a moment, testing the strength of the chair, before finally resting. Who knew how many seats had given out under her.

Without needing to stand again, she offered a handshake to Gossamer as well. "We've met briefly. Good to see you again, Gossamer. Are you in on this adventure as well?"

"For that matter, what exactly is your proposal? Your email was a bit vague."

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"As for muscle, I was thinking of the superheroine known as Fulcrum? Size of two women, strength of twothousand? or something like that anyway. I don't know if she could tolerate the cool clime, but the name was top of my list. Do you know her?"

The blonde chemist nodded as she put away her 'lasso'. "Somewhat, mostly through Viktor; we're always at the same parties, but we never seem to have time to chat."

"Aha" replied Supercape "perfect timing!"

"So it would seem." Estelle did her best to suppress a grin; there's just nothing like bookish English enthusiasm.

"We've met briefly. Good to see you again, Gossamer. Are you in on this adventure as well?"

Doctor de Havilland rose slightly from her chair to return the handshake. "Good to see you as well, Fulcrum, or do you prefer Mona? I myself also answer to 'Estelle' and 'Goss' in the field, if you're so inclined. And indeed I am involved, as the matter at hand is quite extraordinary." She shook her head sadly. "Hopefully we'll actually have a chance to chat for a bit; I'm afraid when I usually see you, I inevitably get sucked into conversation with your more Teutonic half."

"For that matter, what exactly is your proposal? Your email was a bit vague."

Estelle gestured towards their 'host'. "That I shall leave to 'Cape, as he so enjoys telling it."

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Supercape was most pleased to note that Gossamer and Fulcrum knew each other. He wasn't surprised, they were both what he would call veteran heroes. It was convenient, to say the least. If they knew each other, they would work better together.

Turning his attention to Fulcrum, he repeated the story he had told Gossamer. He toned down the science slightly, and hyped up the adventure a little more. He had no idea if Fulcrum was also a scientist or had some mutant super-brain, but he thought he would hedge his bets.

"So the upshot is, its a bit of galactic preservation that's in order. And in this particular case, a little bit of heavy lifting. Very heavy lifting. Unfortunately, the planet itself is a little grim. By which I mean, a veritable snowball. But it's a trip of a lifetime, nonetheless. "

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Fulcrum listened intently to Supercape's proposition. Her face was, for the most part, inscrutable. She nodded occasionally during both the scientific and adventurous bits. Finally she nodded.

"If you didn't have the data disk and ring, I wouldn't believe it," she said finally, examining the ring. "These items alone are finds of the century. Let alone the mathematics on the disk. What do you plan to do with them?"

"Okay, more on task, does this guy check out? I mean, if he has the technology to transport you across the galaxy, why exactly would you need you to reach these planets? Not to be rude, but from what little I've heard, we live on the galactic equivalent of a backwater planet. Something sounds a little fishy to me." She leaned back in her chair, lost in thought momentarily.

"Don't get me wrong. Protecting species from extinction sounds like a worthy cause. The data we could collect on them, their ecology, even their evolution could invaluable to xenobiology." She smiled, "I'm in regardless. This does sound like the trip of a lifetime. I should be fine on planet."

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Supercape shrugged. Fulcrum had exactly the same concerns as both Gossamer and himself about Mr. Flowers.

"I had the same discussion with Gossamer. All I can say is that it checks out. The sun in question is indeed hypervelocity, and has been flung out of the solar system. Mr. Flowers indicates that whilst it remains in range of his scanning systems, once these stars have lest the galaxy, he can no longer reach them unaided. That's where I come in. So that part at least is plausible. "

"As for his intentions, as I said to Gossamer, well... what have we to lose? the system will soon be lost to the galaxy, short of a hero who can move stars. And I don't know of one. Saving a few specimens for the sake of biodiversity... what's the worst that could happen? Its plausible, and the worst scenario I can come up with is that we are going to be involved in some cloning experiment for some pan-galactic rare meat restaurant. And that's pretty far-fetched. "

He looked at both Fulcrum and Gossamer.

"Well, I'm ready to whip us all there when you chaps are ready. I cant say I will be much good when you are there. But taxi service, that I can do. "

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Estelle grinned and tapped her temple. "I knew Viktor didn't just date you for your impossibly long legs! Nice to know you come with the full package, Fulcrum."

She turned to Supercape. "I'm sure time is of the essence, but I'll need to return to my lab for just a few minutes; I'd like to put together a powerful general anesthetic, assuming a carbon-based lifeform, but it would be foolish not to have a back-up plan. I'll bring a portable lab kit in case we need to whip something up on the fly, assuming Mona can get us a blood sample first."

Then she stopped and began to stroke her lower lip. "Delivery system. I'm not any good with tranq rifles, are you? If not, we might need a hypodermic harpoon so you can fly up to the creature and drive it through the epidermis yourself."

The blonde scientist abruptly got up and practically ran to the door. "I'll be back shortly! I might need to get another suit as well!"

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GM

Later, on a distant alien world...

After Gossamer had busied herself with a spot of Chemical engineering, it was time for transport courtesy of some quantum entanglement from Supercape. The process only needed a few seconds of warped time, space, and other dimensions, and they where there.

The world was, indeed, freezing. Well below freezing in fact. Supercape's costume protected him, but he soon decided to modify it still further, adding a 60s style fishbowl space helmet to stop his lips freezing together.

Ice, ice, ice. As far as the eye could see. At least, it looked like Ice. It had a slightly blue-green tinge, but otherwise it was Ice. The air was a little thin, the gravity a little low, but unremarkable. It was like being at the peak of a mountain. Except more unpleasant, and with less of a view (although not bad, one had to concede).

A distant yellow sun burned low in the sky. The landscape was very flat, but still had undulations of Ice here and there.

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Fulcrum grinned back to Gossamer and replied, "I do my best."

"Right. I need to grab a couple of things myself. I'll be back in just a minute."

Indeed she did return in little under a minute! Nothing seemed to have changed except for a new headband. The side of it sported a small, environmentally sealed camera system. She panned her head around the room, and the camera focused accordingly.

"A little something that Viktor designed. Very durable," she said, tapping the camera. "Between your transportation, Gossamer's tranquilizers and my throwing arm, we shouldn't have too much trouble."

Before departing, Fulcrum quite seriously advised Supercape, "Be careful with this transport. My powers do not interact well with wormholes or other manipulations of space-time." Considering the Terminus energy radiating from her, that advice was indeed sound. Thankfully, her bracelets and anklets looked to be containing the radiation. They themselves released hummed with power to Supercape's senses.

---

Looking out over the alien landscape, Fulcrum inquired, "How could anything evolve out here? Let alone a building-sized apex predator?"

Still wearing her standard costume, she looked unaffected by temperature or atmosphere.

Out-of-the-blue, she turned to Gossamer, "Mona is fine. Perhaps we should do lunch sometime?"

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Estelle returned within a few minutes, all geared up; unlike Supercape, she couldn't wear a helmet and thus take her hair out of the fight, so she instead she opted for a pair of self-polarizing snow goggles and a rebreather mask which would hopefully protect her from thin or tainted atmospheres. Of course if there was a life for on the planet, pressure and radiation shouldn't be a concern, at least not for the short time they would be there. Over her normal blue and silver protective suit she sported a khaki photographer's vest with many pockets, and what she couldn't carry in that she packed into a lightweight bag over her shoulder. Lastly she hefted a pair of the hypodermic harpoons, one for her and one for Fulcrum; several doses of the strong sedative she'd concocted were stuck in her vest, not unlike shotgun shells.

Looking down at herself, she was reminded of a character out of a Star Wars film, but one of the good ones, not the blasted prequel trilogy (though to be fair, Episode III was actually pretty good, up until the very end.) She was also reminded of Hooper in Jaws, who might have lived in the movie but died in the original novel...

With the goggles up on her forehead and the mask dangling around her neck, the clearly-delighted scientist gave them both a thumbs up.

"Ready when you are!"

- - - -

So strange to be on the surface of an alien world! Almost unconsciously Goossamer's hair tendrils began fanning out to fill sample jars with the alien ice and bits of debris. The sound of her breath was amplified and slightly distorted through the rebreather's speaker system, further adding to the unworldly ambience. She dug into the bag and pulled out a pair of range-finding binoculars and began to scan the bleak horizon, various digital readouts dancing in her eyes.

"You couldn't ask for a more desolate expanse of- goodness, that sounds odd!" She raised a hand to her throat, then looked first at Mona and then at Cape. "Wait a moment, let me just get this out of my system." She stood there slackly for one moment, and then dully recited, "'These are not the drones we're looking for.'" Then she sharply nodded her head, her smile invisible behind the mask but clearly audible in her voice. "Right, that's out of the way, then!"

"How could anything evolve out here? Let alone a building-sized apex predator?"

The chemist shrugged, her vest rustling slightly as it began to stiffen with frost. "Who knows, it might not have been native to this world; perhaps it was brought here as a beast of burden before going feral, like the Spanish horses that became mustangs. Or selectively bred here? There must be a dozen possible explanations, and we may never deduce the truth."

"Mona is fine. Perhaps we should do lunch sometime?"

"Oh!" Estelle blinked behind her goggles, only off-balance for a moment. "Very well then, Mona it is. And I'd love to do lunch sometime; just give me a ring at the Lab."

She dramatically handed a loaded harpoon to the much taller woman. "Here is your weapon; use it wisely!" She mimed poking at the air. "Pointy end away from you, of course. So Cape, do any of your abilities allow you to track the beast?"

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She dramatically handed a loaded harpoon to the much taller woman. "Here is your weapon; use it wisely!" She mimed poking at the air. "Pointy end away from you, of course. So Cape, do any of your abilities allow you to track the beast?"

Supercape shook his head.

"If it was a quantum string, a radio wave, or a radioactive isotope, then yes, I could probably track it. Unfortunately, as far as I am aware, it is none of those things... and my experience of hunter-gatherer adventures is limited to nicking some strawberrys in old Farmer Rotberry's fields when I was a young lad. That parts up to you chaps I am afraid. "

He gestured towards the data disk. "And from what I can understand, the life forms here feed on the ambient radiation. And are, thus, immune to it. So you can forget about me blasting it with a pulse of gamma. I'm afraid i'm not going to be much help..."

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Fulcrum chuckled and waved one hand in front of her, "Move along."

Hefting the harpoon, she tested the weight. The important part was the durability and sharpness, but those qualities seemed reasonable considering the short time Gossamer had to arrange the items. "Not bad. Not bad."

She looked up at Gossamer as she questioned Supercape over tracking the beast. "That shouldn't be a problem. You have aerial surveillance," she added, pointing at herself. "Give me a few minutes. I'll find it."

Lifting off the frozen ground, she began surveying the horizon when something below caught her attention. ""Wow. Uh, Estelle, Mr. Supercape? I found one of the beast's footprints. We seem to have arrived right behind the heel." She indicated the shape with her finger.

Whistling to herself, she took off straight up, putting her a mile up in a few milliseconds. For now she didn't bother flying around. Given the barren expanse of the place, Supercape and Estelle could easily be lost from sight. She didn't need that hassle. So instead she flipped into high gear, hovering in place while her senses compiled input at 5000 times faster than normal.

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GM

It was not hard to find. The giant footprints lead 3-4 miles away, where the terrain seemed a bit more craggy, with undulating cracks and hills of ice. A lumbering beast was lurching through the icy wastes, towards the sun. The ice cracked and splintered as its immense weight smashed collided with the planets surface. Sometimes, the crack was so large that water would seep out of the crack only to freeze in the blistering cold of the atmosphere.

It was hard, at this distance, to get a feel for the size of the creature, but the data disk had not lied. It was an enormous thing, probably 200 feet tall, looking like a freakish godzilla, only with a white-purple tone to its hide.

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"Oh, boy," muttered Fulcrum again.

Dropping down next to her companions, she held her arms up for emphasis. "It's...well, big. Very big. We may need sharper harpoons. I don't know if these will even pierce the hide."

She pointed in the direction the footprints appeared to lead. "These tracks are fresh. Looks like it may follow the sunlight. If it does feed on radiation, it will probably continue moving away from us. It's not far though, maybe four miles into rougher country."

The balance of the harpoon was tested again. She looked at it skeptically, then to Gossamer and Supercape, "Want me to test it? I can escape quickly enough if all I do is irritate it."

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Supercape shrugged his shoulders.

"I can't see the harm" he replied "and I imagine you are better at throwing than me, thats for sure. I tossed a few Javelins in my secondary school, but I wasn't top of the class in atheletics, to say the least. And I lack your super-strength. If anyone can get it through the beast, I guess it will be you."

He gestured to the data disk Mr. Flowers had given him.

"To be honest, I'm going to be spectacularly useless. I can create all manner of radiation, but these things feed off radiation from what I understand. I may as well use a feather and tickle it..."

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Gossamer's brows furrowed as she appraised her weapon critically. "Hmm, I'm not very nautical, so perhaps 'harpoon' is the wrong word; I was thinking we would drive the points in via brute strength rather than hurling them, so 'spear' is probably more accurate." She shaded her eyes and looked off in the general direction Mona had indicated. "Perhaps we should target the skin near any sense organs? The epidermis should be thinner near there."

She transfered her spear to her hair tendrils, and started to practice a few lunges, first closer to her and then increasing the distance away from her body; her reach and the apparent strength of the various jabs was very impressive.

"We may also need to coordinate a simultaneous attack; if the creature is as large as you say it is, I doubt one dose will suffice to subdue it."

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Mona nodded to Gossamer, "Not a bad idea there. Although given the size of the creature, I hope you're quick on your feet. It probably can move really fast over short distances."

She coordinated a few jabs of the harpoon/spear along with Gossamer. "Spearing it is then. Sensory organs? Okay, I'll try there first. If I could hit the neck, that would speeds things up considerably."

Stopping a moment in thought, she addressed Supercape, "You can create radiation? That could come in handy actually. If we can't sedate it easily, you may be able to 'tickle' it into moving out of those icy hills. Generate some radiation that it can snack on and lead it out onto this open plain. Give us a lot more maneuverability."

"In any event, I'll see if we can even hurt it. I really don't want to have to wrestle this thing."

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