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Gizmo

Applied Physics (IC)

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It had taken a while, given the hectic schedules involved, but with her brother's insistence, Ellie Espadas had finally managed to find time for her girlfriend to come over to the Interceptor's underground base for a combat training session. Erik was adamant that Mara have at least some fundamental hand-to-hand fighting skills just in case she was ever caught without her inventions. Mildly annoying as the overprotective streak was, Ellie was grateful that her older sibling evidently liked her partner enough to be concerned in the first place, and if in the process the petite engineer ended up in sweaty workout gear, well, that was just a consequence they'd have to live with.

While Erik got things set up below, the younger Espadas waited on the steps outside the brownstone apartment building's front door, already changed into shorts and a dark grey vest top and enjoying the sun while she flipped through a textbook she'd brought out with her.

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Mara was late; she hated being late. She wasn't even running that far behind - a few minutes, at the most - but the idea that people were waiting on her just grated on every nerve she had. For her tastes it was too much time lost to traffic (flying through the air wasn't terribly subtle, and this wasn't a professional visit), and too much time lost to second-guessing what to wear (not that she'd ever, ever admit it to anybody but Ellie). As she pulled her motorcycle up to the brownstone she was idly considering the pros and cons of installing a teleporter in the area. or a network - city-wide? - convenient - not subtle - could be subtle - power requirements - might attract attention - probably not worth it - still - tempting

She killed the engine and pulled off her helmet, running a hand through her hair to slightly-un-dishevel it. "Ellie! Late, sorry. Traffic...mostly."

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Setting her book down as she heard the motorcycle approaching, Ellie looked quizzically at her watch in response to Mara's apology, her expression quickly turning to one of wry amusement. "Three whole minutes. I may never forgive you," she drawled, standing up from the steps and cracking her back quietly before stepping across the sidewalk to plant a quick peck on the flustered blonde's forehead and take her hand. "Wait, no, I'm over it. C'mon inside."

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Mara blushed, ducking her head a little but not dwelling too much on her lateness. She kicked the kickstand down and dismounted, stretching a little after the drive and letting her helmet dangle from one hand as she followed Ellie into the brownstone. "Will probably need to change. Have exercise clothes with me, but...not good for motorcycles. Too much exposed skin." She frowned for a moment, touching the heavy metal choker that rested at the base of her neck and making sure - for about the tenth time since leaving her warehouse - that she had, in fact, remembered to bring her clothes. "Mmh. How are you?"

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"M'good," Ellie replied, trying not to look too amused by the serious consideration Mara brought to things that other people might have dismissed as trivial. "Don't think I've mentioned yet how much I like the choker, by the way," she noted as the pair walked up the few steps and into the brownstone building. "I really like the choker."

"Fashion and function!" an upbeat voice agreed as they made their way into the main living room. The large, flat panel television abruptly turned itself on to reveal the life-sized image of a broadly grinning man in a bombastic, lime green suit, teeth gleaming as he leaned forward from behind a talk show host's desk. "And this is coming from someone who ought to know!" he added, tugging at the collar of his suit jacket. As he did, the clothing shifted smoothly into an equally bold plaid pattern in the signature greys and blues of Dragonfly's armor, while his tie darkened to black with a cerulean print of a four-winged insect. "Fifth Iteration Networked Computer Entity, at your service, though my friends call me Vince, and I can already tell we're going to be fantastic friends, now that I've finally been allowed to say hello!"

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Mara blinked at the television, tilting her head as Vince introduced himself. "Hello, Vince." Lights danced behind her eyes, but she didn't do any more than poke at the television to make sure that it was...well, a television, and not Vince's actual 'home'. "Mara. I am, I mean - suppose you knew that. Mmh - choker, yes. I'm...glad you like it." She touched it, looking a little pleased with herself, and a little bit of light ran down the seams and detailing. "Was difficult to make. Small. But wanted something easier and less...noticeable than carrying around gauntlets everywhere I go."

She glanced to make sure she wasn't too obvious through any windows, and held her motorcycle helmet up; it twisted in on itself and disappeared. "Convenient, too."

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The television was indeed only a place for the gregarious artificial intelligence to project his image upon, his actual program processing elsewhere. "Well, I was told to make myself scarce during that ladies' poker night, so I didn't get a chance to introduce myself them, but our little meatsack fixer here talks about you so much I feel like I already know you," Vince confided, leaning over his desk with a vaguely conspiratorial air while, on his command, the center of the room lowered and slid away in segments to reveal a stairway downward into the Underground.

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"Convenient," Mara complimented, raising her eyebrows as the floor rearranged itself. "Automated. Well-hidden. Relatively quiet. Very nice. Ladies' poker night...." The corner of her mouth quirked into the ghost of an amused smile, and she shook her head. "Not really a lady. You, I mean. Vince. Suspect you have 'eyes' everywhere, anyway. Would be cheating."

She put her hands in her pockets, rocking back on her heels a little to look at Ellie. "Talk about me a lot, mmh?" she asked, sounding secretly (or rather, with her somewhat poor ability to hide her mood, not-so-secretly) pleased.

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"Well, mostly complaining," Ellie teased with an airy deadpan, waving one hand in the air vaguely before lowering it to slip around Mara's waist and lead the way into the underground complex. "And maybe a little bragging. Besides, Vince is a big ol' gossip. He likes hearing the latest new from everybody even when he's already seen it."

"Well it's just a lot of security footage until you delightful kiddos spin it into a story!" Vince's voice followed them downward, his avatar projecting itself upon one of the smooth walls of the octagon shaped central room by the time they arrived. While his form hadn't changed, he was now sporting a fairy tale princesses' ball gown in bright pink, an absurd amount of ruffles and billowing material adding to the simulated bulk. "You do tend to get hung up on the silliest details, though."

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Mara took one look at the princess gown and groaned, slumping and putting one hand (the one that she hadn't quietly slid around her girlfriend's waist) to her face. "No," she insisted. "No, no. No. No princesses. Vapid, unhelpful, dead weight. Loud. Will be glad to never meet another one. Gossip for you:" she continued, taking her hand off Ellie's hip long enough to make vague and frustrated motions with both hands, like she was grabbing something the size of a basketball and squeezing. "Quirk exists. And is more annoying than advertised."

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"You have to admit he pulls off the look, though," a wryly melodic voice called moments before Erik Espadas stepped around the corner connecting one of the Underground's many corridors to the hub room. The athletic young man wore a simple white tank top and loose shorts, both items looking well worn.

"Thank you," Vince replied in exasperation, throwing his hands up in the air. "Honestly, all of this doesn't just happen, y'know!"

Sighing at their antics, Ellie shook her head. "C'mon, Marbar, I'll show you the locker room so you can change," she instructed, indicating another of the base's spokes.

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"Interesting base," Mara complimented, awfully amused by the two-man comedy show as she followed Ellie down the corridor. "Cross-dressing artificial intelligence, brother. And your brother, I mean; not implying your brother wears dresses. Guess he could. Wouldn't judge...out loud." She shook her head, the corner of her mouth twitching into a lopsided grin. "Still. Seems...lively?"

As they entered the locker room she glanced around and finally settled her eyes on the showers, entering and pulling a curtain behind her with muttered (and slightly blushing) excuses about not being tempted into anything before exercise. A minute later she was back out, having exchanged her more practical riding clothes for a dark grey tank top and matching cloth shorts.

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Ellie rolled her eyes at Mara's insistence of modesty, then proceeded to colour slightly once the curtain had been drawn. "They keep themselves pretty well entertained," she agreed, composing herself with a slight cough and looking studiously at the ceiling. "Vince is sort of a funny one. I'm never really sure how much of what he does is just the way he is or humouring us humans or just a big in-joke. He's a sweetheart either way, though." Tilting her head slightly in appreciation as her girlfriend reappeared, she added, "I think he's been looking forward to meeting you. We've got a lot of physical, nature types around these days."

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"Thrude?" the engineer asked, pulling her hair back and through a hair band, for however long such a thing could hope to keep unruly bangs out of her face. Clever things, bangs. "Can see that. Unfortunate. Haven't - mmh - 'looked' at his home computer. Don't know if it's in range. But he seems very impressive. Suspect he deserves more appreciation than he gets? Maybe."

She took a deep breath, shifting a little to get used to the sneakers she'd put on. "Guess I'm ready. Time for torture?"

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"Thrude, and Willow, too," Ellie confirmed with a nod. "Apparently she's like ridiculously ancient. The idea of 'indoors' was sort of a novelty for her, let along artificial intelligences. Which probably explains why she's so impressed by mi hermano, but that's neither here nor there." The young medic knew that Vince's main computer was mere feet away, buried beneath the Underground's hub, but knew how responsible Mara was with her tremendous ability to communicate with machines. Smiling faintly, she leaned over without warning to give the engineer a brief kiss on the cheek before leading the way back in the direction they'd come. "It won't be torture, just training. You are going to be sore after the first time," she admitted with a slight shrug, "and yes, I know exactly what that sounds like out of context."

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Mara blushed a little, but the corner of her mouth was still threatening to put a grin on her face. "Familiar territory then," she deadpanned. "Ancient? Makes sense. Immortals...mmh. Wonder if I'd go crazy. Crazier." She shook her head, following Ellie back toward the hub. "Remember everything. Immortality...almost wonder if it would be too many memories. Still. Would be very interesting to see world change. A lot of new science. Plus," she added, teasingly exaggerated cheer in her voice, "could put lots of toys in a cyborg or android body. Useful. Compact!"

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"Crazy beautiful, maybe," Ellie scoffed, knocking into Mara's hip lightly with her own as they walked. "And as a noted fan of you squishy biological bits, I'd at least like to be consulted about any 'modifications' you may be considering." Her tone was equally teasing, but there was a serious undercurrent to it; with the inventive Dragonfly, one could never discount an outlandish musing entirely.

Erik coughed pointedly as the pair returned to the hub control room. "Let's try not to mortify the older brother too much, lovebirds," he pleaded wryly as he straightened from his reclined position against the wall. "Mara, you typically use wrist-mounted blades when it comes to close quarters, right?"

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Mara frowned, taking a moment to consider that. "Mmh. Sort of? It's-- mmh. Just show you." Her choker flared, sending a ripple across her body that left her armor in its wake; while normally this would be immediately followed with her defenses, this time her helmet's faceplate split apart and moved out of her way.

She made a fist and her 'sword' formed about an inch off the end of her knuckles, space twisting together and tinting her signature neon blue. Mara turned it around a few times to show how it moved. "Placement is more like...punching dagger? Only longer. Punching sword; would probably be impractical if it weighed anything." She shrugged, and let the sword disappear; as soon as it was gone her armor flared and vanished in the same ripple effect it had appeared in, leaving her back in her exercise clothes. "Good reach. Probably better leverage if it was positioned like a real sword, but doesn't have any mass - can't build momentum anyway, doesn't matter how hard I swing it."

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Erik nodded in understanding and approval as Mara demonstrated her armor's projections. "Perfect, that works out. My swords are only as solid as I want them to be, so a lot of my repertoire is based on unarmed fighting," the swashbuckler explained, miming a sword strike that shifted to an uppercut mid-swing. "We can start with that; useful if you're caught without the tin pants."

With a pointed cough that indicated she was going to leave that last line uncommented upon for the time being, Ellie folder her arms. "It totally never occurred to you that stabbing harder wasn't actually doing anything, did it?"

"Well, it makes me feel better," her brother noted with a broad shrug.

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"It's true," Mara confirmed, nodding once. She made a jabbing motion, casually miming using her sword on something or someone. "Very satisfying. Design trade-off, though - usually not lethal, good for getting past armor, but isn't solid even if I want it to be. Goes right through most things. Scatters on things it can't. Useless for defense, parrying. Leverage." She shrugged. "Unarmed - yes. Probably best. Would be unarmed anyway if without my...mmh. 'Tin pants'"

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"That's the idea, yeah," Erik agreed with a nod of his own. "Which is good, it'll save time. Still not going to be overnight, though," he warned the petite engineer frankly. "Today I mostly just want to get a feel for where you're at now and set you up with some exercises you can do when you get a spare minute here and there."

"Heh... 'overnight exercise'. In all seriousness, this is one time he's not talking about his--" Ellie stopped short as she was interrupted by a loud clearing of the throat, shrugging innocently before turning back to Mara with a more serious look. "Just don't get discouraged the first go, okay?" As much as this had been her brother's initiative, she worried about her girlfriend's safety, too, and was hoping her inherited propensity for fitness would be something they could share.

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"That's the idea, yeah," Erik agreed with a nod of his own. "Which is good, it'll save time. Still not going to be overnight, though," he warned the petite engineer frankly. "Today I mostly just want to get a feel for where you're at now and set you up with some exercises you can do when you get a spare minute here and there."

"Heh... 'overnight exercise'. In all seriousness, this is one time he's not talking about his--" Ellie stopped short as she was interrupted by a loud clearing of the throat, shrugging innocently before turning back to Mara with a more serious look. "Just don't get discouraged the first go, okay?" As much as this had been her brother's initiative, she worried about her girlfriend's safety, too, and was hoping her inherited propensity for fitness would be something they could share.

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Mara snorted, and shook her head. "Could tell you where I am now - generally below average. Poor upper-body strength, faster than most, okay flexibility - hard to judge that last one, mostly comparing to Ellie, who - ....you probably don't want to hear about in context. Mmh. Should probably eat better, get regular sleep." She was ticking them off on her fingers now, in a tone of basic self-assessment. "Rely too much on technology for protection, rely too much on suit's proprioceptive feedback and targeting assistance for accuracy."

She tilted her head, frowning. "Probably missed something. Not expecting instant results - not how science works, not how life seems to. Wouldn't expect it from training. So. What do I do?"

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Mara snorted, and shook her head. "Could tell you where I am now - generally below average. Poor upper-body strength, faster than most, okay flexibility - hard to judge that last one, mostly comparing to Ellie, who - ....you probably don't want to hear about in context. Mmh. Should probably eat better, get regular sleep." She was ticking them off on her fingers now, in a tone of basic self-assessment. "Rely too much on technology for protection, rely too much on suit's proprioceptive feedback and targeting assistance for accuracy."

She tilted her head, frowning. "Probably missed something. Not expecting instant results - not how science works, not how life seems to. Wouldn't expect it from training. So. What do I do?"

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"See, it's like you know you need to take better care of yourself, and yet..." Ellie teased dryly, heaving an exaggerated sigh that gave way to a smile despite her best efforts. There was a fine line to be walked between convincing Mara to actually get a full night's sleep occasionally and convincing her not to be so hard on herself, but fortunately the blonde inventor was much too determined to give up now that she'd set her mind to it.

For his part Erik nodded approvingly. "Alright, good attitude. C'mon, I've set up a basic training program in the Wreck Room to start with," he explained, indicating another of the underground base's hallways by pointing a thumb over his shoulder.

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