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Gizmo

The Ghost and The Machine [IC]

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The vaguely egg shaped skyscraper known as the Lab stood out even amongst the many research and testing facilities in Hanover as a beacon of progress. Named with typically efficient accuracy by its founders, the building represented the coming together of some of humanity's finest minds, working together to move the world toward a future free of the past's superstition and fear.

The irony was largely lost on the chipper poltergeist known in an equally informative fashion as Ghost Girl as she floated through the large windows of the Lab's lobby as if they were empty air, pulling back the hood of her tattered reaper's cloak so that she could crane her neck and gape in wonder at the ultra-modern architecture. "Woooow..." the translucent blue teen murmured as she coasted about almost two meters off of the floor taking everything in. She'd missed a fair bit since her untimely death but it was moments like this that really made her feel like a time-traveler.

Spotting the receptionist behind the desk, she sped forward with a sunny smile. "Oh, hi! I, um, have an appointment?"

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The receptionist looked mildly startled at the sight of Kimber, but had seen enough unusual things here that she wasn't nearly as shocked as the average civilian might have been. "Your name please, and who you're looking to see?" It took only a moment for her to bring up the necessary information on her sleek computer touchscreen. "Yes, Ghost Girl, Miss Americana is waiting for you in the biosciences lab on 14 East. Take this pass and-" She stopped for a moment in the act of holding out a plastic visitor pass to Kimber. "Ah, that is, if you can take it?" she hazarded delicately. "Or I can have you escorted, if that would be simpler."

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"Oh sure, no problem!" the phantom beamed behind her affected domino mask, the pass seemingly pulling itself free of the receptionist's fingers to bob up and down in the air next to the large capital 'G' emblazoned on her chest. "This must be such a rad place to work," she mused conversationally as she telekinetically turned the pass around to examine the back and front before blinking as if abruptly switching trains of thought. "Oh, I shouldn't keep her waiting! East side of the fourteenth floor, right?" she double-checked, pointing in the cardinal direction before speeding upward right through the ceiling. The notably physical visitor's pass followed her upward but smacked into the top of the lobby before fluttering back down onto the floor.

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The receptionist stared after the retreating spirit for a moment, then with a philosophical little sigh, walked around the desk to retrieve the pass as she alerted Miss Americana that her visitor was on premises and would most likely not be arriving through any doors.

Upstairs, Miss Americana acknowledged the message and looked around for signs of impending visitation. She had the biosciences lab set up just the way she wanted it, with scanners and sensors cribbed from all over The Lab to cover nearly every contingency. She was very interested in studying the makeup of this alleged post-life entity, but god only knew what sort of equipment would be necessary to get readings at all. For the moment, though, everything was pushed to the sides of the lab so as not to spook (ha-ha) the patient, so the middle of the room was occupied only by a very pedestrian-looking physician's exam bed, a table and a few chairs.

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Some muffled shouts from the space beneath her feet heralded the sudden appearance of a pair of slim translucent boots sticking up out of the middle of the biosciences lab's floor. There was another noise and the rest of ghost attached to the boots jerked into view as if recoiling from something reflexively. "Rude!" Kimber muttered, looking perturbed. "I said I was sorry. Oh!" Spinning about, the undead teen's eyes went wide. "It's you! I mean, I'm me! I mean, I'm Ghost Girl! I mean-- wow, you are really pretty!" she rambled at a breakneck pace that would have been difficult for anyone who actually needed to take breaths. Pausing only long enough to give the scientist a broad smile she waved. "Hi! Sorry to barge in! It's super nice to meet Sharl's host mom!"

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Making a mental note to have a quick apology chat with the staff in the forensic biology lab, Miss Americana stepped forward to greet her guest with a smile. "It's nice to meet you too, Ghost Girl." She let the mom remark pass, though a small, vain part of her wanted to protest that she was too young to even be Sharl's honorary mom. It was beside the point. "I'm very glad you were able to meet with me today. I'm looking forward to working with you to map out your unique energy signature. Have you ever had a complete full-spectrum scanning done before?"

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"Oh, sure," Ghost Girl nodded as she coasted about the room, moving up and down in the air to get a better look at the various pieces of equipment that had been brought into the room. She didn't have the first idea what most of them were supposed to be for but that only made them more fascinating. "Dan -- Daniel Storm, y'know? -- did a whole bunch of tests when we were trying to figure out how come I didn't, like... 'move on', right? Necromantic, obviously, whole bunch of different divination spells, this thing with a chicken foot talisman..." She looked back over at Miss Americana with a slightly abashed look. "Aaaaand that probably doesn't count, eh? 'Scientifically' and all."

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"Those tests were probably conducted quite differently," Miss A replied diplomatically. "For this series, I'd like to use various kinds of equipment in the lab to measure your energy emissions across a wide range of spectrums. I might ask you to do a few simple powers demonstrations, if you're comfortable with that, but it'll mostly be sitting or laying down and talking."

As she spoke, Miss A took a pristine white labcoat from a rack and shrugged it on over her russet and slate-blue pantsuit. "If at any time you feel any pain, or anything we're doing makes you feel uncomfortable, I want you to let me know right away, all right?" She picked up her pad computer and smile at the ghostly apparition. "Do you have any questions before we start?"

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"Well, I can't really sit or lie down," Ghost Girl admitted with a cheerful shrug, "but I can totally float wherever you need and I do like to talk!" Moving through the air to stand back in front of Miss Americana, she straightened so that her feet were pointing directly downward, her shoulders squaring as she gave the superhuman scientist her best posture. "And don't worry about hurting me, just about nothing can! Perks of already being dead and all!" The phantom seemed oblivious to any macabre undercurrent to her statement, instead coming across as genuinely positive. "Besides, Sharl trusts you -- well, mostly he brags about you all the time, but he does trust you, too, and that's good enough for me!"

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"Your best approximation will be fine," Miss A assured Ghost Girl with a smile. "Right now, any position that is comfortable for you is fine, so long as you stay around the exam table. I'm going to do some very basic scans, take some video and audio footage, and generally try to establish a baseline of which of my instruments can detect you. Renee from downstairs mentioned that you passed through the security sensors without tripping them." She brought over a small handheld video camera and activated it, setting it on the counter to record. "While I do that, can you tell me a little about yourself? Anything you'd like."

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"Sensors? Ooh, in the walls, eh? Sorry..." the poltergeist apologized, looking contrite as she folder her legs beneath her so that she was floating cross-legged high enough off of the ground to look the adult heroine in the eye. "I guess I don't really think about that stuff much. It's probably sorta bogus to just waltz into a place with all kinds of top secret projects and stuff, right? Dumb, dumb!" Muttering to herself for a moment, she sighed before seeming to get over it and cheer up again. "I'm not a spy or anything, though, promise! Um, let's see, I'm from Thunder Bay, that's in Ontario. I'm pretty sure I've been dead for about fifteen years or so but it's hard to know 'cause I spent a bunch of that time haunting a cabin in the woods and I was pretty coo-coo bananas for that. All smashing plates against the door and making scary faces in the windows." For a brief moment, the girl's face practically melted away, becoming sunken and skeletal even as her mouth gaped wider than her jaw should have allowed, the ethereal breeze that kept her hair aloft turning violent. Just as quickly, she snapped back to normal. "That was pretty boring, though! It's nice to have people to talk to again!"

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Miss A blinked and considered that, watching the girl's face distort and distend. "Yes, I can't say I'd like seeing that face in my window on a cold winter night," she decided, her tone mild. "So after the biological death of your physical form, your consciousness persisted , but you weren't really yourself?" she asked, hoping to clarify the story a bit. "You didn't remember who you were, or have coherent understanding of the present, desires for the future? What happened to change that?" She positioned a small microphone near the exam table, testing it with a flick of her finger. "Was it all at once, or more gradual?"

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"Thanks!" Kimber beamed when Miss Americana noted the unpleasantness of the face she'd pulled, sounding as if she'd just received a professional compliment from an industry professional. "Oh, I don't remember who I was now!" she went on to clarify. "It's different, though. It's kinda fuzzy, of course, but the way Dan explained it it's kinda like being stuck in a loop, like a skipping record? I froze to death in the woods, see, so I was pretty much always cold and lashing out and scared and..." She trailed off for a moment before clearing her throat; and affectation since she didn't actually have a physical throat to clear let alone a need to breath. "Anyway, he found what was left of my bones and such and gave them a proper burial which was supposed to send me to the other side, right? But instead here I am! Just one of those things, I guess!"

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Miss A was very interested at the talk of Ghost Girl's physical remains, but it seemed impolitic to ask after their whereabouts just yet. Scanning the bones might be quite informative, but it also seemed like a good way to upset the gregarious energy being. It was a question to save for later. She flipped open her handheld scanner and activated it, pointing it at Ghost Girl to see what readings it might pick up. "So you have no memory of your original life?" she asked as she worked. "Nothing at all, no vague impressions, sensations of deja vu, dreams or flashbacks?"

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"Well I don't dream 'cause I don't sleep!" Ghost Girl laughed amiably, unfolding her levitating legs absently and placing her hands behind her head. "Luckily neither does my roommate or that'd get super boring at night. And I remember lots of, y'know, stuff," she clarified, emphasizing the word as if that explained the distinction. "I know what people were wearing when I was alive and I remember that cellphones used to be way bigger and I can name the capitals of all the provinces and territories -- did you know they added a new one?! And I can totally sing the entire theme song from Saved by the Bell! I just don't remember actually learning any of that. It's like amnesia, I guess." The phantom shrugged apologetically but didn't seem too worried about it herself.

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"So you remember general knowledge, but no personal tidbits at all?" Miss A nudged, even as she frowned slightly at her scanner. She could detect a temperature variation in the vicinity of Ghost Girl, very noticeable in the strictly climate-controlled lab, but no trace of her presence on anything but the visible light sensors. Even those didn't seem certain of themselves. "I'm going to try some different sensors now, don't mind me." Setting aside the handheld scanner, she rolled a boxy sensor system the size of a refrigerator into place at the foot of the bed and activated it. A soft green light played over Ghost Girl and the bed as the machinery hummed softly.

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Kimber flowed the green light up and down with interest, craning her neck to mirror its methodical motion. "Sure, whatever helps! Just let me know if you want me to go invisible for you or freeze the room or something!" The phantom was happy to help what seemed like a good cause even if most of it was a bit over her head on the technical side of things and the favour Miss Americana had agreed to in return would be well worth some metaphorical poking and prodding. If she could see the look on Sharl's face when science proved that she really was a ghost that would just be a side benefit. "I get little bits of stuff now and then, like when you're trying to remember a word you've used before but it won't come out? I kinda try not to think about it too much, though."

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"We'll get to that," Miss A promised her eager subject with a half-smile. "Right now I'm calibrating equipment, trying to find the proper energy range to use to scan you," she explained. "All energy, whether it's natural, man-made, or in the realm of what some people call magic, has enough tangible effect upon the universe to be detected, measured, and explored. The trick is in finding the right tools to use for that measuring. You have a very unusual type of energy, so it may take a little while to dial in on that and get a look at you through my scanners. But that's all right, I've got all afternoon."

She fiddled with the machine, changing the scanning range, altering the frequencies by fiddly little fractions of a degree. "I've been curious, actually, what do you plan on doing with the impervium fragments you asked for in trade? It doesn't seem as though they'd be useful to you."

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"Hee, Sharl's lucky he's got somebody who sounds just like him to talk to," Ghost Girl grinned, looking amused as she spread her arms to make sure the latest scan was able to get a good look. The gorgeous scientist was a little more diplomatic about it but she put the same metaphorical finger quotes around 'magic' that her protege did. The poltergeist suspected she'd had the right idea leaving Avro behind for this trip into the city; a manticore kitten on top of everything else might have been tough to accept. "Oh, it's not really for me, it's for a gift!" she answered the blonde woman's question. "You remember I mentioned my roommate? Well, um, I'm not sure how much I'm really supposed to say but the important thing is she's outrageously tough to shop for and the holidays are coming up!"

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"Well, even a small piece of impervium would certainly be a conversation piece," Miss A allowed. "It's quite rare. I hope she appreciates the effort you're going to." She pushed a few more buttons on the machine, a single crease of concentration appearing on her perfect forehead as the scanner continued not cooperating. "When you interact with the physical world, how do you usually handle it?" she asked as she worked. "I know you have telekinetic powers, but do you experience any tactile sensations when dealing with people and objects?" Sharl's thumbnail sketches on his teammates had been useful, but hardly thorough.

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Kimber stifled a laugh but had the composure not to explain that Indira probably wouldn't just be putting the impervium on a shelf. "Oh, well, not really," she answered the question about her interactions with the real world, beginning to feel a little useless given the vague information she was providing. "Wehn I pick stuff up I'm sort of picturing holding it in my hand in my head, right?" she continued, pointing to a nearby table where a small cylindrical tool lifted into the air and began spinning about lazily. "I don't actually feel it though, so like it wouldn't matter if it was, I dunno, covered in spikes or something! Some stuff can touch me though."

She set the gadget back down carefully and turned back to Miss Americana. "Sage used her tee-kay to give me a hug one time, although I guess maybe that was partly her making me think that? She's a telepath, too, y'know, and a big softie even if she tries to act like a real hard case when she helping us train. Well. Not a 'big' softie. Petit softie. Cee Tee, too, with his magic ring! He makes armor and stuff and that worked. A lot of magic things, I guess, like Avro, my pet manticore. I helped save him from the jerk poacher, see, and... I think I'm getting off topic, sorry!" Shrugging her shoulder with mild embarrassment she tried to refocus on the topic at hand. "So yeah! Oh. And, um, fire. See, 'cause I froze to death and all I absorbed some of that cold -- it's actually a little tough not to freeze everything around me when I'm not paying attention! But that means that I can still get burned and, er... we don't have to test that part, right?" The ghost looked to the scientist hopefully, reflexively biting her lower lip in apprehension.

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"I'm not going to do anything that will risk harming or hurting you," Miss A assured the ghostly teen. "We'll make sure to avoid any incendiary devices. But other than fire, you can be affected by certain types of telekinesis, as well as some magical energy. That's good information, that makes it easier to home in on where on the spectrum your particular energy signature exists." Her fingers played over the keys like a finely tuned instrument, making the machine hum with renewed effort. "It sounds like you have some information or memory about your corporeal death. What do you remember about that?" Her voice was still politely professional, but with an underlying delicacy that said she understood the question might be difficult.

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"Oh, well, it's mostly a blur," Ghost Girl replied, tapping the tips of her index fingers together pensively and avoiding Miss Americana's eyes. "I remember a couple moments pretty well, sorta. Y'know, like sitting down against a tree to rest and realizing my legs were too numb to stand up again. Mainly just general feelings, though. Being cold and terrified. Knowing that nobody was going to find me in time. Pretty much what you'd expect, I guess." For a split instant, the poltergeist's face flickered like a burst of static on a monitor unfocusing violently before reasserting itself just as quickly. "Can... we maybe talk about something else?"

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"Of course," the scientist said easily. The description Ghost Girl gave of her death only raised more questions, but they weren't anything to get into now, when the girl was obviously distressed. Instead, Miss Americana stood up and walked to the other side of the room, coming back with a large spotlight on a wheeled pole about seven feet tall. "Sharl says that you and he are in the same class at Claremont. What are you studying? Have you got plans for after graduation yet?" She switched on the spotlight, which bathed the exam table and the ghost with a gentle blue light.

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"Oh, a bit of everything!" Kimber volunteered readily, glad to change the topic. Her translucent blue being blended in with the blue light coming from above. "I've got History this semester, oh, and a really neat Creative Writing course! Plus powers-type stuff. Even getting some magic tutoring outside of school! Watch this!" Reaching up to her face with both hands, the phantom plucked her own eyes right out of their sockets without warning. Holding her palms parallel one over the other, she sent the removed orbs spinning in a levitating circle between them, the grin on her disfigured face suggesting she'd been working on the stunt for a while. "Ta da!" Pulling arms back to perform enthusiastic jazz hands, Ghost Girl floated her ectoplasmic eyes back into the empty sockets behind her domino mask, blinking a few times to set them into place. "See, most magic comes from life, which leaves me sorta out of luck but I've got a connection with death which is almost the same thing only not at all? Um. Nick and 'Nox give a lot of contradictory information, honestly. Dead Head knows all the best undead party tricks, though, for sure!"

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