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Dr Archeville

The Case of the Mock Magnetokinetic [IC]

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Date: June 7th, 2011 (Tuesday; after Magnetic Particle Inspection, before Mangled Metal). Afternoon.

Temps in the high 50s/low 60s, clear skies, ~10mph winds

Doktor Archeville was curious. It was one of his main drives, really: to see how things work, and how they could work better. Which was partly why he was so interested in metahumanity: to see if they really were some 'next step' in human evolution, or, if not, to at least see if their powers could be reliably predicted and replicated for a host of civic-minded, world-improving projects; those who could affect the environment, especially one or more of the fundamental forces, and those who could be 'Terminus Babies,' were of particular interest. Closely tied to that was his interest in metahuman psychology, in seeing how such powers affected the mind, and to take what steps he could to make sure as few metahumans fell to the side of villainy as possible. This was the primary (stated) reason he created the Interceptors: to create a force for good and heroism out of those who might, due to assorted social pressures, slide to villainy.

All this combined explained why he was waiting, cloaked, just outside one of the chemistry labs at Hanover.

Supercape said this Ferros lad could control metals, but not via electromagnetism. Some form of telekinesis + a psychological block? I would like to know for certain! Tapping into the city's traffic cameras I was able to backtrack his trip to the Lab from this section of Hanover, though I could not pinpoint a particular building. Based on his height, build, and what I could see of his features, he is probably a student here. If so, and he is a freshman, he could easily be a Terminus Baby, though I have not detected any T-Radiation in the area, and Supercape did not mention any T-rads. But he could easily have been exposed to something during the Invasion, like the odd metallic contaminants Supercape did find.

The Doktor had been slowly flying around the area since morning, looking for students who fit the basic sketch for what he saw of Ferros on the traffic cams. (One perk of being founder of his own company: he could set his own hours, and set aside time for personal projects like this, though he knew work still waited for him back at the office.) He could have hacked the university's database to find the student's schedules, selected the ones who had classes in these buildings at the time he saw Ferros leave the area, then investigate each of those students to look for empowering background events, but he felt that would be -- for this case -- an unconscionable invasion of privacy. It was not a villain he was investigating, not someone who'd shown any problematic leanings, so there was no need to do all that digging, not yet. (Even with his Other gone, and with it his impulses to Archeville still had his grandfather's reputation to combat, so he kept an eye on his actions and did what he could to not go down slippery slopes.) Best to do some simple observations, see if he could catch anyone using some metal-bending power, then approach and strike up a conversation.

"Ah, perhaps this one?," he asked himself as he saw a young Chinese man leave one of the labs. He fit the basic outline of Ferros, but so had many others before him.

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[floatr]

"Unknown"; Iris

I understand

But I don't listen

Too perfect school

For this tuition

I feel unknown

The ever still decay

But I can't stop

I carry on this way

Here inside

Going down the road where I'm not followed

Deep into an empty hollow...

All out of speak, I feel the fight, it's on

But I've been late to know

The light's return is gone

And now

Theres been talk about us

Right down to knowing you're gone

I watch you stream across

While all of their voices go on...

[/floatr]

Jin dug his iPod out of the pocket of his lab coat just as he left the Biochemistry building at Hanover. Placing the ear buds in his ears, he pressed play, and relaxed as he heard a soothing song by Iris.

Jin slung his duffel bag over his shoulder, and began walking toward the parking lot. He unbuttoned the lab coat to reveal the wife beater undershirt he wore underneath. Visible on his chest just above his left breast, yet partially obscured by the strap of the undershirt was the roaring white tiger that looked to be climbing to his shoulder.[floatl]WhiteTigerTatto40%25.jpg[/floatl]

Jin paused in the middle of the sidewalk, took a deep breath, closed his eyes, tilted his head back, and relaxed. He sank into the music and the refreshingly cool June weather.

Suddenly, something began tugging at his attention. He opened his eyes, tugged out one of the ear buds, and spoke. "Well now, there's an awful lot of metal floating around here, somewhere. But that's strange. I can't see anything, ya know? It's not just one piece either, it's like a bunch of little things, all in the same area, ya know? Hmm." Jin stroked tapped at his clean shaven chin with the hand that wasn't holding his duffel bag. He seemed oblivious to the fact that he'd just been thinking out loud.

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Ah ha! I knew staying cloaked only to the visually detectable portion of the electromagnetic spectrum would help in my search for the metal-manipulator!

"," a vaguely familiar voice came from nowhere. "Standard version, and with a slight Germanic accent on top of that; to Ferros, trained in the Southwestern dialect of his home, it was like a native of Texas hearing someone speaking Pennsylvania Dutch English -- intelligible, but weird.

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Jin's body went suddenly rigid, but only for a moment. He quickly fell back onto his heels in a half crouch. His left hand extended in front of him, falling into one of the basic katas of Bajiquan.

Way to go, Jin. It's been what? A week? And you've already screwed up the whole secret identity thing. Well, no help for it now. Be more careful in the future, you know? For now, just sort this.

He responded in kind to whoever it was that was watching him, "我ä¸çŸ¥é“你是è°ã€‚我ä¸çŸ¥é“你想è¦ä»€ä¹ˆã€‚但我å‘ä½ ä¿è¯ï¼Œä»»ä½•ä¼å›¾å¸¦æ¥ä¼¤å®³æˆ‘将结æŸä¸Žå¤±è´¥ã€‚也许我会更容易接å—你的报价,如果我知é“你是è°ã€‚"*

Relax. He told himself, This is nothing you can't face. But stay calm. Focus.


*I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. But I assure you that any attempts to bring harm to me will end with failure. Perhaps I would be more receptive to your offer if I knew who you were.

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""

A small portion of the air before Jin seemed to unfold, revealing a head he had at least glimpsed on the news: the bright blue-eyed, thin-nosed, marble-cheeked, golden-haired face of Doktor Viktor Archeville!

I shall have to remember this for Halloween!

"" the Doktor's floating head said, "" he glanced side to side, looking to see if anyone had noticed him yet, ""

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Jin stiffened once again when he saw who it was that had addressed him. He was a chemist, not a physicist. Still, the face of arguably Freedom City's most famous scientists and greatest heroes did not go unrecognized, even if their respective primary fields of study didn't mesh. Doubtless Dr. Archeville was no slouch in the field of chemistry himself, but as far as Jin knew his true passions lay elsewhere. After Jin got over the initial shock of what he was seeing, he relaxed and stood straight up once more. "是的,當然,原諒我,醫生。"* Jin apologized. He glanced around briefly. He only noticed one person nearby that had spotted what was going on. Though from the dumbfounded look of disbelief on their face, they had some short time before their observer had any presence of mind to even grasp what was happening let alone call attention to it. For that matter, Jin wasn't even sure he knew what was happening. "雖然我已經看到你的一些公眾場åˆéœ²é¢ï¼Œæˆ‘們從來沒有見éŽã€‚ä½ çš„è²éŸ³å¾ˆç”Ÿç–了。"** He decided, much as he always did, to let things flow and progress naturally. If he played along without asking questions he was likely to find out what was going on faster than if he demanded answers on the spot.

"ç›®å‰ï¼Œæˆ‘åªæ˜¯ä¸€å€‹ç ”究助ç†ã€‚我沒有ç§äººè¾¦å…¬å®¤ã€‚然而,"*** Jin paused, looked over his shoulder and pointed to a small stand of full pine bushes standing about fifteen feet tall against the side of the building he'd just exited, "有一個å°ç©ºé–“之間的牆的建築和那些樹。據附近,就看ä¸è¦‹äº†ã€‚除éžä½ çŸ¥é“一個更好的ä½ç½®ï¼Œé€™å¯èƒ½ç‚ºç¾åœ¨ã€‚"***

Translations

*Yes, of course, forgive me, Doctor.

**Though I've seen some of your public appearances, we've never met. Your voice was unfamiliar to me.

***"Currently I'm just a research assistant. I have no private office. However," then "There is a small space between the wall of the building and those trees. It is nearby, and out of sight. Unless you know a better location, that may serve for now."

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"," the floating head mused, ""

Sounds like a good project for ArcheTech to tackle! The tech to record and broadcast perfectly identical voices and images exists, it is just very expensive, but if we can find some cheaper alternatives... ha!

The head turned to see the spot Jin indicated, "" The floating head of Doktor Archeville was swallowed up by the sky, leaving Jin alone. When Jin reached the spot, he saw the floating head reappear again, up in the branches of one of the trees, like a Cheshire Cat.

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Jin fought his way through the press of branches and dropped his bag in the small space between the trees and the building. He stripped off the lab coat, folded it neatly and crouched, placing the coat within the bag. While he was crouched, he also withdrew a small metal object and palmed it in his right hand.

He stood and looked up into the branches, "So, hey, seems like you've got some neat tricks. Invisibility, flight, probably more. Really cool super science stuff, Doc." Jin switched to English. His South Jersey accent was quite prevalent, resulting in his speech being strew with half formed contractions and slang words. "I'd be willing ta bet you're the smartest guy in town? Well, one of'em, at least, ya know? Well, I'm no slouch myself, and I'd also bet that going by simply the merits of your intelligence alone, not to mention your penchant for research, and my earlier slip up, you've already figured out who I am." Jin broght his right hand to his face. The metallic object in his hand expanded rapidly forming a thin metal coating over his face, like a full size theater mask. There were two holes for eyes, but no mouth. They eyes were obscured from a distance because they were made of such a fine sheet of metal. But anyone closer to the mask such as it's wearer could see through the sheet with no problems. There was a sound like trickling water, and a silvery coating rushed out from underneath Jin's pants to expand and cover his entire body beneath the clothes. Fully costumed as Ferros, Jin pulled the wife beater over his head and tossed it onto the bag. He left his slacks on, however.

"Might as well give you that one, ya know?" he reasoned, looking back up at Dr. Archeville. "Now..." Ferros reached out with his powers, he grabbed hold of whatever metal was on Archville's person, and slowly dragged it downward. The use of his power required no gestures or motions. Once Dr. Archeville was at eye level with him, he asked, "Wanna talk like equals?" Ferros folded his arms, and the mask he wore molded once more. It cracked a large toothy grin (seemingly of it's own accord) which glimmered in the sparse rays of sunlight between the shadows made by the trees.

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"I know a few others who are in my league," the floating head replied as Jin put on his mask, tilting from side to side as he thought, "and, yes, quite a bit more I can do than merely flying and cloaking. But to that last bit: no, I actually have no idea who you are!" The bodiless head laughed, "I knew the young man who was interviewed by Supercape at The Lab came from here, so I have been floating around most of the day to see if I could catch sight of anyone with the same rough height and build as Ferros, and see if they used any metal-manipulation powers or reacted to the invisible presence of the metals I have on me."

He could sense them, but I wonder how fine his sense is? Can he tell gold from iron pyrite with it? Oh, there are so many tests to- whoa!

The head practically giggled as it was pulled towards the young man, "of course, of course! A moment, please." The air below the head shimmered and parted, revealing the rest of Doktor Archeville, in a blue business shirt, black khakis, black rubber-soled boots, and his ever-present white full-length labcoat. Many of the pockets along the coat bulged due to their contents being pulled by Ferros' power. "Speaking of giving, I have some advice to give you: if you are serious about this secret identity thing, take more care with what you 'think aloud.'"

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As soon as Archeville was both grounded and agreeable, Ferros let go of whatever metals he'd been tugging on. "Hey, well, guess not thinking aloud could be considered a lesson well learned then, ya know?" The grin stayed displayed across his mask until after he was done shaking the doctor's hand.

"So you don't actually know who I am. Just what I look like out of costume and that I'm Ferros in costume. I'm thinking out loud that we should keep it that way, ya know?" Ferros fished a small metal disk out of one of his pockets. It was designed to look like a Yin-Yang. with a motion, he stretched it until it was about twice the size of a manhole cover and then sat atop it cross-legged. The disk floated in mid-air around waist height, give or take. It left Ferros' eyes even with Dr. Archeville's, "So, hey, ya wanted to talk?" Ferros cocked his head to the side and his mask grew a stylized pair of eyebrows seemingly for the sole purpose of raising one of them, it seemed.

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"Not a clue!," Archeville exclaimed, appearing oddly happy at that, "I just know what Supercape told me over chess and tea, and that was not much! But I do look forward to getting to know a man of your unique abilities!"

I wonder what metals he uses for his mask, and that flight disc? It looks like-

Doy! I can just ask him!

"Just what sort of metal is that," he pointed to the mask with one outstretched finger, then pointed down to the disc, "and that? And, speaking of metal," he leaned back a bit, "Supercape said something about some some odd metallic impurities or contaminants in your blood. Are they tied to those two?"

The Doktor glanced up, then back at Ferros, a grin on his face. "Say... just how fast can you move that thing?"

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"Well, hey. Another super powered interview." beneath the mask, Jin smiled. "I must be making a name for myself. Hey, how long til I get my first supervillain, I wonder, ya know?" The mask winked at Archeville.

Ferros' tone was always rather relaxed. When he spoke he seemed to project his feelings of inner peace he was feeling toward others. He fielded Dr. Archeville's questions with grace and patience. "Well, the mask and the disk are just everyday steel, ya know?" He said with a motion from his hand, dismissing them as uninteresting. "The fancy part of the costume is the suit, ya know? Some heroes wear morphic molecule costumes. But they can't control those costumes. Now, Mercury's liquid at room temperature. But I found it didn't offer the type of protection I was looking for. So I created an alloy by mixing it with a few other metals. But the bulk of it is Mercury." Ferros raised an arm above his head and across his chest. He brought it down quickly in a chopping motion. The metal from the suit covering his left hand shot off quickly into the dirt. It punched a hole in the ground like a metal slug from a Gauss rifle or similar weapon. "Needless to say, it lets me do quite a bit more than spandex would, ya know? Didn't come up with it until after I met Supercape, though." The metal from the ground zipped out of the whole like water flowing backward into a hose, covering his hand once more.

"As for the impurities in my blood, I truly don't know. It's something that I've been studying privately, but I don't have the answers I want yet. Being able to manipulate the metal once it's outside my body in a blood sample does help, though. What I do know is that the contaminants still in my blood today after I'd been treated by countless doctors when I was younger would still be enough to kill a normal man, or at the least make him very sick for a very long time before it killed him."

What I won't be telling you is that the suit is made partially by mixing some of the metal from my blood with Mercury.

"Well, now, you're probably wondering how I'm still alive? Don't know, ya know?" Ferros shrugged, and his mask adopted a quizzical expression, "Maybe my powers are keeping me alive subconsciously, maybe it's the metal that's giving me the powers rather than killing me. Who knows?" Ferros scrutinized the backs of his hands at a distance as he said this.

"Now, as for the disk," he gave it an appreciative pat. "Hey, well, let's just say I can make it go faster than Supercape, ya know?"

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"Word tends to spread, even in Freedom, about new metahumans. But do not be too quick to seek out an archnemesis!," he said, half serious, half laughing, "they will find you in time!""

Stupid Power Corps!

"Mercury?!" A puff of air escaped the Doktor's mouth after Jin explained the costume, sounding somewhat like a dog's woof. "For your sake I hope you do have some sort of immunity to metallic poisons -- that stuff is highly toxic! I- hrm..." The Doktor paused mid-sentence, and stroked his chin in thought. "There is a hypothesis on metahuman abilities, that their ultimate source is a 'metagene' located in a small percentage of humans, activated by assorted stresses, mostly environmental. The stress -- exposure to experimental rocket fuel fumes, or lightning bolts, or ionizing radiation, and so on -- dictate the manifestation of the abilities, but the cause itself is the metagene. It could be that you are one of these individuals, and your exposure to the metallic contaminants that are now in your blood activated your metagene, giving you the ability to alter and manipulate metal, and resist any toxic effects metals may have." He lowered his hand from his face, and used it to draw circles in the air before him, around Ferros' head, "but if not through electromagnetism, as Supercape said, then how?"

Such mysteries!

He glanced back up through the branches, down to Ferros' disc, down to his own Belt, then back up to the young man. "Would you mind telling me under what conditions you were exposed? Was it in a laboratory of some sort? Are the metals in you some experimental alloy?"

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"Hey, well, I guess it can't hurt. Another place and a time long ago, right?" Ferros' voice sounded whimsical. No expression graced the mask he wore this time. Clearly his concentration was elsewhere.

Ferros glanced toward the trees. Briefly, he touched the end of one of the nearby pine branches. "Guess you could say it was a lab. My father's basement chemistry lab, ya know?" He looked back at Archeville. "I was two years old, and it was 1993, ya know?"

Ferros paused for a good long time. When he spoke next, his voice was calm, but gave the feeling that he was heavily measuring it, "There was an explosion. My father died instantly." Ferros turned his right arm so that Dr. Archeville could see the underside of his forearm. The metallic suit peeled away, exposing the tattoo of his father's name. "My mother died as well, ya know? But not before she dragged me to safety." He showed Archeville the other arm, and the tattoo that served as the memory of his mother. "All I can remember are flashes of light. Blurry images. Pulsating terminus energy. Clouds of vaporized, super heated metal. Fires..."

Screaming...

Ferros breathed out stiffly as the suit covered the ink on his arms again. "Well, I guess it's like you said, hey? The explosion. The metagene, ya know? As for what my father was studying, what was in those jars on his desk?" Ferros shook his head slowly.

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Oh, my!

Archeville nodded, his face a solemn mask, at Ferros' tale. "I am deeply sorry for your loss, young man. I have some firsthand knowledge of how difficult foster homes can be... how you always feel apart from them, different... the way their eyes look at you, reminding you that you are not really their child..." His voice drifted off, his face softened, "they say they love you -- and maybe the really do -- but there is always that disconnect, that absence of a biological link that keeps you forever apart." He squeezed his eyes shut

No! There is no reason for this maudlin self-pity! I may have had some negative experiences as a ward of the state, but that does not mean he did. He may have had a wonderful foster family! They may well have loved him as much as any biological child -- it does happen!

but opened them wide a split second later, "bah, enough of that! So, 1993, eh? Yes, those Terminus energies may have had a hand in your change, too -- I have some experience with the effects of those, too!," he laughed, thinking of his beloved Mona. "So, how long was it before your abilities manifested? Yesterday was the first I can recall seeing you!"

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Archeville nodded, his face a solemn mask, at Ferros' tale. "I am deeply sorry for your loss, young man. I have some firsthand knowledge of how difficult foster homes can be... how you always feel apart from them, different... the way their eyes look at you, reminding you that you are not really their child..." His voice drifted off, his face softened, "they say they love you -- and maybe the really do -- but there is always that disconnect, that absence of a biological link that keeps you forever apart." He squeezed his eyes shut.

"How many homes did they place you in?" Ferros begged the quick aside, "I'm on my seventh. Not counting the Temple. I still like to think those monks are the ones who really raised me. But you're right, hay? I never really had it bad. But you can never help but wonder if it could be better, ya know?"

"Saw that little escapade, did you?" The emotions returned to his mask once more with a smile. "Well, it's true I haven't used my powers much until recently. I wanted to make sure I had control over them. So I wouldn't hurt anyone, ya know?"

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"They... never actually placed me in one," he said after a moment. "I lost- my mother passed shortly after I was born, and my father was taken from me when I was thirteen."

Taken by madness!

Archeville did not speak of his past much -- it was not something he took great pains to hide, he was not ashamed per se, it was just unpleasant to dwell on -- but being with another child of the foster program made it easier for him to open up. "And most families wish to adopt babies and toddlers, not adolescents. So I was a ward of the state -- the foster agents themselves raised me -- until I turned eighteen, though by then I was already in university."

"Temple, eh?," he asked, his mood swinging back up. "Buddhist? Taoist? Would you say their meditative and bodily control techniques have helped you control your abilities?" He had, of course, noticed Jin's calm demeanour, his even breathing, his measured and controlled moves. "Many metahuman abilities are influenced by one's emotional and mental state."

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Jin managed a sympathetic nod at the rest of Dr. Archeville's story. Speaking of things was difficult, and he respected the doctor's effort to answer his question. He wouldn't bother him about it anymore.

"Taoist," Jin answered briefly. "And hey, yea. I'd say that's exactly what they did. Before I joined their temple, my powers were just uncontrolled random happenings, ya know? Hey, I even thought I might have been haunted."

"Hey, now, it's funny you should mention emotional states." Ferros commented with a interested tone crossing his voice, "I've actually found that when I'm angry I have a great deal of difficulty using any of my powers beyond the little energy it requires to keep my costume on, ya know? Now, I always thought it had to do with my training and style of focus, though. I never knew it could be something biological or genetic." Ferros mused.

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Ah, so he did show abilities shortly after the exposure, but control took time to master. How fascinating!

"Metahuman abilities and psychological states are often a 'chicken and the egg' conundrum," the Doktor replied, then chuckled, "though that is a misnomer, given that any evolutionary biologist could tell you that the first chicken egg came from an ancient chicken-like creature which was almost, but not quite, a chicken -- a 'proto-chicken' -- whose offspring experienced some mutation, a change to its genetic material, which lead to a sustainable change in the inherited traits of the proto-chickens from one generation to the next, eventually giving rise to a chicken! Ah, sorry, tangents" he chuckled again and waved a hand dismissively, "my point is: how much does your mental state affect your abilities? How much do your abilities after your mental state? It is, I feel, one reason why, despite how much research has been done on the nature of metahuman abilities, we still know not much more than what we did several decades ago: because the research has been too narrow, focusing solely on the physiological. Taking the psychological into account, looking at the whole picture, is the only way we will ever truly understand these amazing abilities."

And make sure fewer and fewer metahumans become supervillains!

"Speaking of," he looked back up through the branches, "would you be interested in demonstrating some of your abilities? Supercape's initial findings have me quite intrigued, and I have some tests in mind, if you were open to it."

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..."my point is: how much does your mental state affect your abilities? How much do your abilities after your mental state? It is, I feel, one reason why, despite how much research has been done on the nature of metahuman abilities, we still know not much more than what we did several decades ago: because the research has been too narrow, focusing solely on the physiological. Taking the psychological into account, looking at the whole picture, is the only way we will ever truly understand these amazing abilities."...

"How much? Well, ya know, in this case, I'd say it's a one way street. Mostly. I can't use my powers when I get angry, ya know? But I wouldn't say using my powers makes me angry. Or gives me any other strong emotions. That said, I do tend to use my powers in times of above average stress. So it may be the situation that heats my blood, ya know?" Ferros gave a small shrug. "Most of my attention goes more toward ensuring I stay calm and maintain my peaceful frame of mind, rather than figuring out what was making me upset."

"Speaking of," he looked back up through the branches, "would you be interested in demonstrating some of your abilities? Supercape's initial findings have me quite intrigued, and I have some tests in mind, if you were open to it."

"Hmm, more tests?" Ferros reached behind his head with a hand, placing it on his neck. The mask adopted quite the thoughtful expression, "I suppose I could. I'd be missing dinner, though. Perhaps we could make an eating contest part of the test or something?" The mask smiled and winked, the metallic hero was clearly cracking a joke.

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"Ah, well, far be it from me to interrupt one's meal!" the Doktor replied, putting his hands up defensively. "If you have plans already, we can meet later; the tests I had in mind are simple and should not require much of your time, an hour at most. Or, as I have not eaten yet, we could share a meal somewhere. My treat!," he added, hoping the enticement of free food would grab the man's interest.

I could write it off as a business expense!

"What is your pleasure, hrm? Italian? Greek? Something familiar, or something untried?" He offered his right hand, "lots of choices out there!"

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"Hmm." Ferros dropped his hands to his hips, "I wouldn't mind getting a meal with you, ya know? I'm enjoying this talk. I didn't have any other plans, so you don't have to worry about intruding, hey?"

Ferros mulled over the choice in cuisine for a moment, "The only thing I'd request we stay away from would be sushi. Otherwise, it's your choice since it's your treat." Something else seemed to cross Ferros' mind briefly, "Though maybe we should stay away from fine dining, ya know?" he made a motion to his costume, "Wouldn't really wanna attract undue attention, ya know?"

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Archeville shrugged, "we can do take-out, eat on a roof somewhere, or take it back to my laboratory." He began to fly up and out of the tree, "Have you taken much time to explore the city's skyline? There are some surprising things up here for fliers to find!"

Note to self: see what ArcheTech can do re: jetpacks for the commercial/civilian sector.

As they flew, he asked Ferros what places he'd been to before, and which ones he'd not been to but had been meaning to try. At last they settled on, as the young man insisted, a place of the Doktor's choosing: Der Augenblick, the Hanover biergarten Archeville had visited many times both as a student at HIT and as a famed hero/successful CEO. And because he was such a regular, and so famed, he was able to get two to-go orders with no fuss, and got them to whip up something that would not violate any of Ferros' Taoist proscriptions on food.

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Ferros shared much of what he knew during their flight. Other than spending the first few years of his life in China, Ferros hadn't traveled outside the city. His tour of the many foster homes that had supported him over the years didn't offer much time for sightseeing. "I've only really been exploring the city this way for a month or so now, ya know? Before that I never used my powers to fly. And even since then, I decided it'd be better to keep more of a low profile just starting out, hey?"

Eventually, the two settled down amidst a rooftop garden with benches and a small picnic table. Ferros remarked about the idea of locations like this one, "These are a nice idea, hey? Way for all the people in town to give back I guess, ya know? Show us heroes how much they appreciate what we do. Wow. I'm still getting used to calling myself that, ya know?"

Ferros opened the top of the salad dish he'd gotten from the restaurant. In addition to the greens, there were also some pieces of grilled chicken scattered throughout the dish. Dr. Archeville could also see a few cucumbers, artichokes, and strawberries as well. It looked like a healthy meal. Ferros opened a separate container holding a mixture of crushed almonds and walnuts. He had chosen to eat the salad dry, finding many of the dressings served by the restaurant too salty. He removed his mask and placed it on the table beside him. Putting his hands together with an eastern gesture, he prayed a simple prayer, "天堂的美惠"* before lifting his fork.


"Heaven's Graces"

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Archeville's meal, a stark contrast to Ferros', was a far more traditional offering from the Hanover biergarten: a small plate of assorted cheeses for appetizer, and potato salad and sauerkraut to the side of his main dish. Said main dish was a trio of fat sausages: a bockwrust (veal-and-pork sausage flavored with salt, white pepper and paprika, smoked over oak), a frankfurter (a boiled pork sausage, the prototype for the American hot dog), and a weisswurst (veal-and-pork sausage, flavored with cardamom, ginger, lemon, mace, onions, and parsley, and boiled in chicken broth), all with mustard. Plastic knives and forks were included in the bag, but Archeville pulled out his own set of metal silverware from an interior pocket of his lab coat. "Zu Ihrer Gesundheit -- to your health!"

Here is hoping this meal does not get interrupted!

"It is nice up here," he mused between bites. "I admit, I do enjoy these nice little out-of-the-way spots the citizens and other heroes have set up. Provides an nice place to just sit and admire the view for a while, or catch one's breath, collect ones' thought while on a case." He smirked and laughed softly, "I am still not wholly acclimated to being called a hero, either."

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