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Thaumonuclear

Radiance at Dusk (IC)

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It had been a rough day at work for Bob Rutherford. Monday was the first big test of the quarter and he'd had non-stop questions from his students as he went through a final review of the material. He was worried about several of them; they would really need to study hard if they wanted to pass. But, he guessed, it was satisfying knowing they cared enough about the subject to be asking questions at all. There had been times his review sessions met with utter silence and blank stares.

With classes over on a Friday evening and the football team away this week, why not have a jog in the park? After changing to a track-suit in the Men's Room he drove the few blocks to Liberty Park, grabbed the backpack holding his costume and went for a run.

It was early evening, when he noticed trouble. He was coming down a footpath near the Botanical Gardens when he saw a commotion just off the main path. An old lady with a small dog (snarling and snapping) was being accosted by two men in dark clothes wearing masks. One already had her purse and the woman was struggling to take off her rings at gunpoint.

Bob swore to himself, "This sort of thing has no place in a beautiful park like this." Changing into his green costume and dramatically sliding his goggles over his eyes Atomic Bob flew in to action, placing himself between the muggers and the woman. "Two armed men to mug one woman? I don't like those odds. I think adding Atomic Bob will make them... beta?"

Startled by his sudden appearance, one of the muggers fired a shot at Bob, missing wildly. But they quickly came to their senses and did the smart thing, running full speed down the road, dropping the purse in the process.

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Atomic Bob took a moment to concentrate, pulling in some Cosmic Rays and redirecting it. A band of faint sparkling light appeared around the muggers. The radiation sapped their strength and unable to even stand, they collapsed to the ground.

Bob handed the purse back to the lady, then walked over to examine his handiwork. "I don't think these men will be causing any more trouble for a while."

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Even at a full run, the muggers actually weren't in that great of shape, and it was the work of only a moment for Bob to take them down and restrain them. He was just securing the last one when he suddenly became aware of the park coming to life around him. All around him, the ground was seething with vines, circling the scene and growing little white flowers that seemed oddly menacing in the half-light of dusk. One flower right in front of him budded and then grew, and grew, and grew, until it was the size of a garbage can, then the size of a phone booth. It opened in a flutter of petals and a pleasant-scented breeze to reveal a woman dressed in a brown hooded cowl over dark green tunic and trousers. The domino mask she wore made it plain, as though it were necessary, that she was also here in a super capacity.

She stepped out of the flower and looked around, then raised her hands. All at once, the vines stopped moving and began to recede. "I was coming to help," she admitted with a grin for Bob, "but you were too quick for me. I don't think I've seen you around here before. My name is Fleur de Joie."

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Bob leaped to the air in surprise as the plants came to life around him.

"Didn't expect that!", he says. Then he flies up to hover in front of Fleur. "They call me Atomic Bob, a bit of an accident but I like it. I haven't been wearing this suit for that long." He gestures to his green bodysuit and black leather gloves and boots. His eyes glow green behind his goggles. "But it seemed I need to do something with these powers to help people. A popular activity in this city. Though I'm not sure how I feel about being shot at." He glances down at the gun at his feet.

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"Atomic Bob, I like that," Fleur said approvingly. "And no, getting shot at is a hard thing to get used to. But I just try and tell myself it's better that the bad guys are shooting at us than at helpless civilians. Sometimes it makes me feel better." She laughed and pushed back her hood to get a better look at the situation around her. With the hood down, her long, intricate braids of bright green hair became visible, interspersed with a crown of yellow flowers. "Let me clean this up and get these bad boys off to the police station."

Fleur rummaged in her belt pouch, then withdrew her hand and seemed to mime throwing something at the muggers. As if out of nowhere, a flower began to form in the air, a giant trumpet of a lily that sent shoots down into the ground even as it descended over the bound men like a candle snuffer on a flame. When it bobbed up again, the men were gone. "How long have you been doing hero work?" she asked Bob curiously.

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"I guess the police must be used to criminals arriving by flower?" Bob asks.

He settles back on the ground. "I guess it was a few weeks ago that a burglar broke into my apartment. Didn't end well for him. It was last week that I first put the costume on and went out on the street. Just this sort of crook, though. Nothing like you see on the news. Or I suppose you see it first hand."

Bob takes the time to readjust his costume and his hair. "Botany was never my strong point, but I don't think I've seen these varieties of flower before. Very lovely". He smiles at Fleur, opens his mouth to speak again, then shakes his head. No, not going to embarrass myself by babbling at the first hero I meet.

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"A lot of my flowers aren't quite as nature intended them anymore," Fleur admitted cheerfully. "But they do their jobs very well. And the police here are used to dealing with criminals arriving in all sorts of ways. I'll give you the number of the precinct I work with, you can call them and use my name and let them know exactly what those thugs should be charged with."

She walked around the place where her vines had been, looking at the trees and shrubs and grass. Everywhere she passed, the plants became a little greener, a little bigger. "And you say you've only been doing this a week? You've got a talent for it, obviously! Back when I was a week in, I was still falling off porches and scaring myself with bee stings." Fleur laughed. "I like the glow you've got going on. Are you a light controller?"

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"Well I had a little practice before I started on my own." Bob admits, "professional trainers of a sort. Though most of that was just physical training. We had a bit of a falling out, though. I spent time experimenting with my other powers on my own."

He conjures up a circle of radiation around himself again. "The light's just a side effect. I'm focusing an emission of radiation. It's exciting the energy levels in some of the atoms in the air. When those energy levels drop back down, that's the light you're seeing. For the muggers, it interfered with the functioning of their muscles, their legs collapsed right out from under them." Bob shrugs, "If that hadn't worked, I just would have had to punch them." The muscles under Bob's costume flex indicating those punches would probably be quite effective."

"I wish I had a green thumb like you," he laughs, "All the flowers in my apartment keep dying. And I don't think I can blame it on my experiments."

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"Is the radiation you emit dangerous?" Fleur asked, sounding a little bit cautious. She was understandably concerned by the idea of plants dying in his presence, though some people without radiation powers could kill plants almost by looking at them funny. "If you haven't had that tested, it might not be a bad idea. I know some people who could help with that, without having to deal with questions about secret identities and things like that," she offered, then grinned. "And I could probably set you up with some very nice silk plants for your apartment. Sometimes it's just easier that way."

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Bob shakes his head, "You've had x-rays before? Granted this is considerably more powerful than those, but with only a few exposures it's safe. It took some work, but I got the department to fund a few Geiger counters, which I borrowed over the weekend. So I have a good idea of what I'm dealing with. Don't worry, just standing here I'm not giving off any radiation." He cocks an ear and closes his eyes for a moment. "Any more than you are, that is."

He nods at the idea of silk plants, "Silk might be the way to go. I'm sure it would confuse the cats, though."

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"If you have cats, it might not be the radiation killing your plants," Fleur pointed out with a chuckle. "Nothing a kitty likes more than a few bites of leaf or a romp through the "jungle." To say nothing of having a go at the dirt." That drew a bit of a grimace from her. "In any case, it sounds like you're safe, but if you do ever want to get a more scientific analysis, I can help you get set up. Here."

She dug into her pouch again and this time produced, incongruously enough, a business card. It smelled faintly of flowers and gave phone and email contact information for Fleur de Joie, Freedom League Auxiliary. "If you ever need anything, or need to get in touch with another hero, just give me a call at this number. If I don't know someone personally, I'm sure I can find someone who does. None of us should have to go it alone, not in Freedom City!"

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"Thanks," says Bob, taking the card, "My only card has my day job on it, so I've got nothing to trade. I'm sure I'll have a chance to look you up some time, though. Great to say I know a member of the Freedom League. May take you up on your scientist friends some time, too. It would be good to get my hands on those toys again, don't have room for a particle accelerator in my apartment."

He floats up into the air again, "I guess I should see to the precinct, make sure those thugs get locked up properly. Thanks for helping clean up, Fleur." He puts his hands on his hips, thrusts out his chest and laughingly says, "Crime doesn't stand a chance near Atomic Bob!"

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"That's the spirit!" Fleur told him with a friendly chuckle. "If you do stop in at The Lab, tell them that you're my friend. They're all lovely people there, and I'm sure they'll be glad to help with whatever you need. Good luck with the crime fighting! And remember, dust your silk flowers and turn them every couple of weeks so they wear evenly in the light. Wherever the light is coming from!" Reaching up, she touched the flowers in her hair and disappeared, leaving only a faint scent of flowers behind her. Well, that and a park that looked like April in the middle of September.

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