Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Avenger Assembled

Are You Ready? (IC)

Recommended Posts

June 2011

Miss Americana's laboratory

It was thinking about her, and his time with Eira, that finally made Sharl broach a question to Miss A some days after the events at the hospital. "What if I stay?"
He was floating around as they talked, his electronic body shimmering a little as it caught the light from the laboratory window. "Not forever," he added, "I mean, of course I want to go back to my family." He took a breath, or rather, looked like he was doing so. "I can't really leave long-term till Eira's better, my folks know that already. But now that I know about Rogue, I can't just leave the outside world behind. If there are more programs like her, who've either gone bad or are stranded out here, I need to do what I can to help them. They're my people; they're my responsibility. That's especially true if she's part of Talos' people." Learning about that sinister robot intelligence, and what it probably meant that Rogue was on his team, had put ice in his veins. "So if I stay here, and work with you, and keep training...I'll be able to help out here. And when I do go back to stay, not just to visit, I'll be all the better for it."

Share this post


Link to post

Miss A put down the small robotic arm she was adjusting to listen to Sharl talk, her perfect brow creasing in thought. "I know that you and Eira have gotten close these past few weeks," she began, "and it's been very good for her. Her adaptation has gone better than we had any right to expect. But she'll be moving into her robotic body in just a few more weeks, and there are going to be a lot more people available to help her with that transition. You shouldn't worry that she won't have anyone if you go home and are just penpals with her. And I have a few surprises up my sleeve for Rogue next time we meet." She smiled humorlessly. "You shouldn't feel like you can't go home."

Share this post


Link to post

"I can't..." Sharl looked away for a moment, pacing so his feet didn't quite touch the floor beneath his feet. "I can't just go back in the box, the way I am now, when I know everything is out here." He put his hand lightly against the wall, then partially through it, speaking with the urgency of an impassioned teenager. "Maybe this doesn't feel as real as home did, and maybe it never will, but I know this is the real world. If I'm going to be one of the only people in Tronik who knows what the real world is, I need to know more about it. And if I'm going to be the only superhero there...well, I mean, I need to know more about how superheroes work!" He shrugged. "I can't just fake it from watching you and Dragonfly."

Share this post


Link to post

"You're right," Miss A said simply, turning back to her work. "If you're going to stay here, you can't keep going on the way things have been. You deserve more exposure to the outside world, the normal world, and that's not really anything I can give to you. You'll have to apply at Claremont, the superhero school. That way, you won't fall behind on your education, and you'll be living with people your own age, and learning about the world outside the lab and the server room." Her voice was entirely even, though the very corners of her exquisite lips turned down just a tiny bit.

Share this post


Link to post

"I'd really like that," answered Sharl. "I've been to Claremont, I've met some of the students, and...it's very different than how I've been educated, but I'd like to try it. There are so few people there, but they're all so different from each other, it's really...really something I want to be part of." He added, without thinking, "If I did that, I'd still be on your team, right? I mean, I could visit the Lab and visit you at home?" He smiled a little nervously. "I mean, I can just send myself over by email; so I can still be your sidekick and a student too?" It sounded like he was trying to reassure himself more than anything else. "We make a pretty good team. And you're my best friend here."

Share this post


Link to post

"I'm not sure what the rules are about sidekicks at Claremont," Miss A said honestly, "and I imagine they'll be keeping you pretty busy. I know the students live on campus, so I'll help you get set up in a dorm room there, with your projectors and your emulator, everything you'll need. And even if you can't do sidekick work, I'm sure you can come and visit me at the Lab as often as you like. But what about your parents?" she asked him. "Have you talked to them about any of this? I know they only expected you to be gone for a little while."

Share this post


Link to post

"It's not easy to talk about with them," admitted Sharl. "They're scared about Tronik breaking down, and it's not easy for them to keep the secret. But they know what we did made things better, and that helped a lot. They've been really supportive of my work at home. My mom puts my costume in the scrubber every night, and they always cover for me." He ran his fingers lightly over the wi-fi symbol on his chest. "If I go back for a little while, and I stay in contact with them, I think it'll be all right. They know I'm never going to be a normal Tronik kid again," he admitted. "And if I'm away with the plankton fleet, they won't have to keep covering for me."

Share this post


Link to post

"Well, you'll have to clear it with them," Miss A told him, most of her focus seemingly directed at the minute adjustments she was making to the little robot fingers, "but as far as I'm concerned you're old enough to make your own choices. If you want to go to Claremont, I'm sure we can make that happen. I'll sponsor your tuition, so that won't be a worry, and I'll look into their entrance requirements while you're gone. You certainly have superpowers and can use some training, so I'm sure they'll be interested in taking you."

Share this post


Link to post

"Do you think it's a good idea?" he asked her, sounding a little wistful. "I mean, I don't _like_ leaving my family. I wish I could stay with them. But I think it's necessary," he added, folding his holographic arms around himself and leaning against the wall as he hovered, solid so he could lean without actually falling through. He was obviously on edge about the decision still, though he looked relieved having gotten it out and not just been bottling up the dilemma inside him."I just don't feel like I can turn my back on this world, anymore than I could turn my back on my own."

Share this post


Link to post

"I think you'll learn a lot if you stay here and go to the school," Miss A told him, picking up a little laser-guided scalpel and using it to make a tiny adjustment in one artificial tendon. "It's a rare opportunity, one you won't get in Tronik. It will prepare you to train other heroes, if they should start to arise in the population. On the other hand," she continued, "you're sixteen years old, and you have a family that loves you, friends who miss you. That is a more valuable thing that you can possibly understand, just because it's something you've always had. That is not something to take lightly or take for granted. You'll have to choose what sacrifice you're willing to make."

Share this post


Link to post

"I can keep up with my friends online, and maybe we can work out a way to zip home if I really need to see my family." He spoke with the confidence of youth, but Miss A could tell he was still a little troubled by his decision. "And...I'll still be close to you, and able to make new friends at school. If I am going to be our ambassador to the outside, I have to know more about it than what I can get here." He looked at Miss A, aware she was focusing overtly on her work but lacking the confidence to try and break her attention. It was really tough to argue with Miss A when she didn't want to talk. "Have you ever thought about teaching at Claremont?" he suggested suddenly.

Share this post


Link to post

Miss A chuckled, but there was no humor in it. "Nope, not even for a minute. There is nothing on Earth or off it that would get me to step into high school for even one more day, as student or teacher. In any case, I don't have a college degree, though that's privileged information I'll thank you not to repeat, so I'm not qualified to teach high school. The teachers at Claremont are fine people, I'm sure, and good at their jobs. You'll learn a lot there, both in and out of the classroom. Just make sure not to get too attached to anyone you can't take home with you," she advised dryly.

Share this post


Link to post

"Thanks for understanding, Miss A," said Sharl, as always using the word Gina preferred for herself when they were out of her basement. "I wouldn't have been able to get this far without you." He was aware that she was a little unhappy with what he'd done, he knew, but there wasn't anything he could do about that. Gina was his best friend, the person he relied on the most, but he couldn't live in her basement all the time anymore than he could go back to living in his parents' home. The genie's out of the bottle, he decided as he got back to work helping out his mentor. And I can't go back to the way things used to be.

Share this post


Link to post

Miss Americana stayed late in her lab that evening, working long after Sharl had popped home to Tronik to speak with his parents, long after her assistants and even the janitorial staff were gone. She heard the occasional footsteps of a very conscientious security guard outside, but other than that, the building was quiet and still. It was past midnight when Miss A checked out and flew to her personal lab, where she could step into an unassuming little booth in the corner for a night of diagnostics, cleaning, charging, and routine backups.

Half a mile away, Gina's eyes opened and she stretched in her chair. She was getting flabbier than ever, she noted with disgust, now that she was sitting in a catatonic state for most of her days. Worse than even regular web surfing. She needed to get more exercise. Maybe one of those vibrational exercise machines they used on accident victims and coma patients to keep their muscles working. Sounds kinda fun, she thought with a private smirk as she stood up, cracked her bones, and headed for the stairs.

The house was dark and very quiet, just like she was used to, just like how she wanted it, as she tended her body's most urgent needs first, then headed to the kitchen for food. She poked two holes through the cellophane on top of a frozen dinner and tossed it into the microwave, making a note on the list on the fridge of what groceries to order next week. While it cooked, she took a crystal wineglass from the cabinet, where it and three fellows were out of place amongst the functional tableware and tall plastic tumblers chosen for their large volume, and set it on the counter. Another cabinet produced a fancifully fluted bottle of deep amber cognac, which she carefully unstoppered and poured into the glass.

Gina didn't even like cognac, but the idea of paying a few thousand dollars for a bottle of something to drink amused her, as did her own ability to do it. Imagine what her mother would think, how green with envy she would be. Gina was one of the world's greatest intellects, it seemed wrong not to try and cultivate some tastes that were more lofty than backwoods Missouri. She picked up the glass and swirled, sniffed, sipped, grimaced. She'd work on it. Carrying the TV dinner and the wineglass, she made her way back downstairs to her sanctuary. It wasn't bad to be alone, really. She had so much to do, and she didn't need any companionship, or an audience. Sharl was right that he shouldn't have to live confined here his whole life. Claremont would be good for him. She of all people knew how painful it could be to live in a box, and she wished him well in his efforts to escape. It just seemed a little strange without him.

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

×