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Dr Archeville

Forge Works [IC]

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May 25th, 2012 (Friday)

"You three go on, I'll finish up the report; it's almost time for my monitor shift to start anyway."

The Freedom League Auxiliary -- Ace Danger, Doktor Archeville, Fleur de Joie, and Freedom Angel -- were in Freedom Hall's monitor center, finishing up their reports for their latest encounter. Larceny, Inc. was back in town, and they, Downtime, and Magpie were having a contest over who could steal the best prize. But one of them had stolen a reliquary from the sealed vault of a church, and that's when things went to hell -- the reliquary was cursed, its effects shielded by the consecrated vault, and once it was out, it began spitting out demons! The FLA caught the thieves and took back the reliquary, and while Heyzel held it the reliquary was quiet, but they had yet to figure out what to do with the seemingly invulnerable thing. Heyzel was going to ask around about its origins, Ace said something about a confessional, and Stesha had matters back at Sanctuary which needed attending.

"Ah, Fleur, hold up," Archeville called as she headed out, "I... I've been meaning to ask you something." His 'professional' tone had dropped, which was a change: in the ten months since the 'Dokthulhu' event, he'd barely said two words to the other Leaguers that wasn't directly related to some heroing work, or reporting about his recovery, and this sounded like neither.

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Stesha paused in the doorway even as she peeled back the black domino mask and green hood she wore as a crimefighter. She had a million things to do at home, as usual, but she always made time for her friends. And despite everything that had happened last year, Doktor Archeville was still a friend and a teammate. She stepped back into the room, smoothing a few flyaway strands of her closely braided green hair without dislodging the miniature yellow roses that decorated it. "Of course," she said easily, "what is it?"

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"Well, ah... that is..." he trailed off. Even after all he'd been through, it was unusual to see him fumbling so.

Oh, just spit it out! If you're really going to go through with this, do it already!

But what if she says 'no'? No, of course she'll say no, why wouldn't she?

I don't know that, not unless I ask.

Why would she refuse? She's so nice and friendly, and friends help each other out, no matter what!

Aah, shut up, all of you! I'm asking, I'm asking!

The Doktor stopped, cleared his throat, leaned forward in his chair slightly and placed his hands on the table before him. "I'd like to offer my help. With Sanctuary, that is. I can only imagine there's a lot still to do, and I wanted to offer whatever assistance I can. Or, ah, that you'd feel comfortable accepting."

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Stesha blinked in surprise. Of all the things he might have asked, that was one of the further things from her mind. Unbidden, her thoughts tumbled back to a night ten months ago, where she'd sat in the darkness in her leaf cottage, protecting helpless children and praying that the madman with Viktor's face wouldn't ever find his way to Sanctuary. She shook the thought away as quickly as it had cropped up. He wasn't responsible for what he'd done when he wasn't in his right mind. Precautions had been taken, and nothing like that would ever happen again. And hadn't he paid enough? He didn't even know her name anymore, or the names of most of the people he'd once called friend. It had to be so lonely.

"What did you want to do?" she asked gently. "There are all sorts of things Sanctuary still needs. I don't think I realized when I started what I was getting myself into, and there's plenty of work to go around."

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"Oh, I can only imagine!," he exclaimed, then self-consciously cleared his throat. "Looking back, I am still sometimes surprised at all I had to do to start and maintain ArcheTech, even with all the staff I had. I wonder if Miss Americana realized..." He shook his head, forcing himself to stop from trailing off, "I would expect running an entire planet -- ah, running its reclamation efforts, that is -- would be vastly more intense."

His hands fidgeted slightly, picking at some dirt under his fingernails. "I do not know what all needs doing -- I know what you shave shared with the League, and no more -- but from what I have heard there is much still to be done. I could make some air or water purifiers, or condensed food bars for the survivors. Or, ah, study the technology that is still there, work on that, see about getting it up and running again. Maybe work on setting up some basic technologies -- water wheels, a grain mill, a smithy -- so they can make more and better items for themselves. I can do that, you know," he managed a weak smile, "the basic stuff. I don't just keep up with the cutting edge things, I practice some of the older stuff, too. Never know when you might get whisked off to some other dimension where they've yet to invent the vacuum tube."

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Stesha frowned, just a little, just for a moment, at the idea of the doctor making up purifiers or food bars for Sanctuary. She believed in second chances, she really did, but there was a line between forgiving and being dumb. It would be dumb to ignore the possibility, however remote, that some fragment of the evil personality remained in Doktor Archeville and was keen to set up shop again. She couldn't discount the possibility, not when she'd worked with the evil personality for months before last year and never noticed anything amiss.

"You know how to set up a water wheel?" she repeated, brightening at that idea. "That could be just perfect. I've been trying to get more electrical power there, renewable power that isn't dependent on Prime, but it's been slow going. I found a blacksmith, one of those folks who does horseshoes out of a truck-mounted forge, and he's held a few classes on technique for making nails and hinges, but we don't have a real forge yet either. All those things would be helpful." She was obviously quite pleased with the possibility, even the flowers in her hair seeming to perk up.

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"Wonderful!," he exclaimed, now beaming. "We'd need a source of running water for the water wheel, of course, a stream or such. Or, if need be, even people pushing and turning it, though of course that would be less than ideal."

As he spoke the holographic emitters embedded in the table activated, and images of water wheels sprang up on it, first as wire frame meshes before resolving into fully rendered models. Some were shown grinding grains into flour, others crushed wood into pulp for paper and rocks into smaller rocks for construction materials, and others were connected to turbines and generators to make electricity.

He chuckled when he saw her reaction to the scene, "I do find visual aids most helpful in planning things out. As for the smithy, I actually have an anvil at my home in Hanover, and would be happy to donate it, if need be. And I can make a forge, easy enough, it's not much more difficult than making a fireplace. A gas forge would be easier to use, especially for beginners, but would be slightly trickier to set up."

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"That won't be a problem," Stesha told him, stepping forward to take a closer look at the simulation. "The Wading River is still in very bad shape pollutionwise, but it does flow still. The South River is much better off, we've been using that as a potable water source, with some extra filtration. Ta- ah, Gaian Knight has done amazing work there. Having him around means we don't lack for building materials and won't need to crush up many rocks, and paper is simple to import, but power and food production are high on my list. Wind and solar power are nice, but water power is just more reliable. What would you need to get started?" Enthusiasm for a new project swept her concerns, both for her schedule and about the reliability of her colleague, off to one side for the moment.

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"Who?," he asked, brow furrowing for a split second as he searched his mind for the name. "Ah, yes, the geokinetic. I've not had the pleasure of meeting him -- at least, I don't recall that I have -- I only know him by reputation, his fight against Talos on the bridge, and that business with the giant vampire squid. I would like to meet him sometime, see how his-"

He cut himself off; while it was hard to bottle up his scientific curiosity, especially in regards to metahuman powers, he knew such questions tended to make others uncomfortable, especially in light of recent events. "Ah, that is, I believe he could be helpful in setting up some water filtration centers. A very basic filter can be made with alternating layers of charcoal and sand; depending on what the pollutants are, we could add supplements, such as silver to kill off any bacteria. Do you know if he can control sand or metals?"

So much for not asking questions about other hero's powers.

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"I'm not sure," Fleur admitted. "I know it's a soil filtration system that's keeping the South River as clean as it is, and that he had a hand in shoring it up when we were preparing for the Gorgon invasion, but I was so busy with all the refugees that I barely had time to take a breath, much less watch what others were doing! But he and a couple of students did excellent work there, and the water tests as healthy, for now anyway. Since he keeps a headquarters on Sanctuary as well, I'm sure he'll be interested in helping out with a few improvements. I'll get in touch with him later and see. Can you... are you allowed to travel freely between dimensions?" she asked as delicately as she could. Stesha knew the doctor had spent little time in the psychiatric hospital, but she'd never actually asked what constraints had been placed upon him when he returned to the community.

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"Well... no one's told me I'm not allowed to," he replied, voice fading a bit, "and since you would be there with me, I don't expect there'd be any objections to it."

"And, yes," his voice resurged, "I'd love to meet Gaian Knight and talk with him about the reclamation work. Honestly, I'm just thrilled to be able to help out on another world... especially since I was not able to help during the Gorgon... ah..." His voice trailed off again as he replayed all the reasons why he wasn't able to help with the Gorgon, but he forced himself out of the replay and surged back to a more positive and constructive mood, "but it will be a very nice change to visit an alternate Earth and not be attacked!"

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"Well then," Stesha said, seemingly reassured enough by this, "I don't think there's any reason you shouldn't get a look at the place, if you like, to get an idea of what we're doing with the place. I can show you the river and introduce you to some of the townspeople. The monks haven't moved in yet and we'll steer clear of the bees. Unless you're too busy today?" She blithely shoved aside her own schedule for the moment, hoping that this could be the start of another major asset for Sanctuary, as well as perhaps a rapprochement with someone who had been a friend. And if she didn't take him to her cottage where Ammy was today, well, there would be future visits.

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"How are the bees doing? I stilll don't buy Bee Keeper's claim he never used any meta-scientific processes to create them, and- wait, Monks?," he asked, looking rather perplexed for half a second. "You're importing monks?"

Easy to see why -- most monasteries are fairly self-sufficient, skills which would be welcome for a post-apocalypse world. And they would see it as a chance to help others and spread their 'Good Word,' though whether that is something which should be done is... not a debate I wish to get in to.

"How did that arrangement come about? Are they tied to Gaian Knight?" Archeville knew little of the geokinetic, but knew his powers were attributed to 'magic,' so the idea of monks and cultists being associated with him came easily enough.

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"Oh no, the monk's were Gabriel's idea," Fleur told him cheerfully. She reached out and touched the doctor's arm, then lifted a hand to the flowers in her hair, and suddenly they were teleporting. A wash of green-colored light, the smell of newly mown grass, and they were stepping out on Sanctuary, near the bank of a large creek that was a navigable river on Earth Prime. "He's putting up a headquarters here as well, and suggested bringing in a group of agriculturalist monks to help teach farming and animal husbandry. It seems like a good idea to me, so long as they keep the proselytizing to a dull roar. We can always use more teachers."

Sanctuary looked much different from the last time Doktor Archeville could remember seeing it. The area of clean air and land had obviously been greatly extended, and where ruins had dotted a decimated landscape, now the creek ran through a wildflower meadow on the near side and wet the roots of a healthy forest on the opposite bank. If it weren't for the faintest touch of landscape appeal recognizable in the placement of trees and plants, it would look very much like a natural and untouched world.

Fleur stepped forward to the bank of the water, gesturing upstream to where a large bank of plant-choked sand and silt had blocked much of the water flow. "Here's the South River, or what's left of it. Between the plants and the soil dam, it's clean enough to drink along this length, which is more than you can say back home. On the other hand, we've lost some strength of flow. The village is over the hill about a quarter mile, they have a well and several pumps. I figured you wouldn't want to have a water wheel too close to that?" Stesha didn't know much about any of that, honestly, but she figured the doctor would have plenty of ideas.

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"Gabriel? Ah, yes, the soniWHOA-" Archeville had no expected to be taken to Sanctuary so soon after his request, or so abruptly.

Ahh, so many questions! Is dimensional travel something her own powers alone allow, or has prolonged exposure to Dark Star altered her so that she can do so?

And speaking of her powers, they manifested after being exposed to a rare plant. Is it something unique in her that allowed her to manifest powers, or could the flower do so in others? Are people altered by that rare bloom the secret behind stories of 'fertility goddesses' throughout human history? Well, the flower would have to be more common than it is now, or else there be several flowers like it throughout the world... could it grow here? Or is it so delicate that even comparable conditions here would not be good enough?

Ah, time for questions late. For now, restoration!

The Doktor looked around and took in several deep breaths, and thought briefly of the forests of his homeland. He was always more of an indoors person -- easier to control the environment, no (well, fewer) pests to contend with -- but he could not ignore the grandeur of nature, the intricacies of the interconnected flora & fauna, the resilience (or vulnerability) of an ecosystem. That the scene before him was largely created -- well, recreated -- by one woman was even more impressive. "This is astonishing, Fleur! Even I would be hard-pressed to have done so much, if given twice as much time!"

He looked over it all silently a moment more, then turned back to Fleur, "so Gabriel brought the monks in? Fine idea, a fine one! So, aside from him and Gaian Knight, have your brought any other non-Leaguers in on this? I recall the core Leaguers were at a bit of an impasse over who should and should not be allowed here, at least for long-term projects."

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"They aren't moved in yet, but they will be soon," Fleur explained, walking next to him along the river's edge. "Back when I started this whole business, Sanctuary was my personal project, as much for practice as anything else, so I didn't get very many other people in on it. When I discovered this world actually had survivors, though, it wasn't just my project anymore, it was their lives as well. And I certainly don't have the resources myself to do everything necessary."

It was interesting, from a scientific standpoint as well as aesthetic, to watch the plants responding to Fleur as she walked by. Leaves rustled and flowers opened as she passed, leaving a verdant trail behind her."All kinds of heroes have had their hands on the world by now. Gaian Knight is the only other one who lives here, but there's Gabriel moving in soon, and then Dark Star and I, of course. And I've recruited help from all over. There's Supercape, Midnight, Jack of all Blades, Miss Americana, some of the students from the school, and others as well. It's nice to know that someone's always around with a skill at the right time when it's needed." Being back on her home turf had clearly lessened Fleur's remaining caution about talking with him, though she was still careful not to name names. "And that's not even counting the non-superheroes! This place is really starting to shape up. You haven't seen Beedom City lately, have you?" she asked. "It looks much different now than it used to."

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"Jack?" Archeville asked/exclaimed, a hopeful look breaking on his face for just a moment, then crashing back down.

Maybe he's here now? No, that could be bad, especially since he is, if I recall one of Fleur's reports correctly, something of a folk hero among the Bees, so any sense of distress or irritation on his part may lead to me being chased by panel truck-sized fire-breathing bees.

"Ah, what did they all help on? I'd imagine Miss Americana offered some medical help, and Supercape something with power generation. Did Midnight help with trying to figure out just what happened here?" As far as the Doktor knew, no one had yet pieced together what had caused such devastation, though he certainly had no shortage of hypotheses. Many had to do with him going mad and/or falling completely under the influence of the pseudonatural thing that had been bred into his family line, and unleashing something worse than Hell.

It must be nice, having so many friends willing to help.

"It must be-" he began to say, but stopped as he caught himself about to voice (and thus reinforce) some of his depression. "I mean, ah, no, I've not seen Beedom City lately. Or at all, really; the one brief visit I had here before, I really didn't get to see much of the city, it was more of a global overview I was taking with Dark Star."

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Fleur chuckled. "No, not exactly. I suppose people do work out of their comfort zones around here. Miss Americana hasn't been here herself, but she's provided materials and advice. She helped me find a development grant through... ah, through ArcheTech, actually, to help set up the village with water and power. Supercape put a giant roof on the biggest structure here, the building where I put civilians I teleport out of emergencies on Prime. I'd take you to see that, but he warned me that if anyone thinks about it too much, it might disappear." She shrugged with a grin. "I couldn't tell if he was teasing me, but I don't like to take chances."

She led him to the top of a rise along the riverbank, tall enough that they could see the village a little ways away. It was very modest, a dozen houses made of stone and soil, a tall windmill, a few electrical lines, and one central prefab structure. The buildings were surrounded by large gardens and what looked to be an orchard with an assortment of climatically improbable trees that were nonetheless thriving. A handful of goats and sheep grazed in a fenced-off pasture, and the pleasant smell of baking bread carried in the air. "Midnight helped me repair my generator last time it blew, and Jack has been a great help with the bees. I'm not totally sure what he did, but Curlbee insists that Jack is responsible for his great success with the queen in her last mating cycle. I really wasn't brave enough to ask."

Some of the people working in the village began to notice them standing on the hill, to judge by their attention and waving. Fleur was apparently a popular figure here. She waved back, then looked to the Doktor. "I can introduce you if you like, or we can go over and see the bees. The river runs near Beedom City as well, you might find an appropriate spot there."

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