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Thaumonuclear

Twilight at the Museum (IC)

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The Hunter Museum of Natural History has two new exhibits and is playing them up for the season with their "Twilight at the Museum" celebration. For the month of October, operating hours have been extended well into the evening to allow the hardworking citizens of Freedom to come experience the museums exhibits new and old.

Most of the exhibits have been spruced up to play a bit on occult or mystical topics, but of special interest are the new exhibits. The Museum's Medieval Arms and Armor exhibits has been expanded with a collection of newly restored armor and decorations on loan from the estate of Baron Dragos of Bardonia, an infamous brutal warlord. They have greatly played up the rumors that Dragos was a genuine vampire and that his tomb in Bardonia is said to have been smashed open from the inside, shortly after his death.

The other new exhibit is the sarcophagus of Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose V, and other artifacts from his newly uncovered tomb. Little is known about Thutmose V, and some scholars are complaining that the artifacts are being used for this spectacle before further study by academics. But Hunter Museum assures them the artifacts will be safe and after this short promotion will be taken away for thorough study.

Opening day had a good turnout and Mayor O'Connor made an appearance in the afternoon. The public figures had left already by the time evening rolled around. As darkness crept over Freedom the museum was still relatively crowded but many of the children had headed home to do homework. Bob Rutherford casually strolled into the museum and stared up at the T-Rex Skeleton in the lobby. It had been many years since he'd been to a museum. This brought back fond memories of the last time his parents had taken his sister and him to the Natural History Museum in New York. He hadn't wanted to go, but it turned out the site of dinosaurs had reawakened a childlike glee in him, even at 18. Everyone loves dinosaurs, don't they? He thought, as he watched newcomers split to the left or the right, headed toward the Egyptian or Armor exhibits, this month's big draws.

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Synth moved amongst the crowd in an unobtrusive way. The months were getting colder, and although she barely felt the chill, she dressed for it, in a long waistcoat, and typically bland and unflattering clothes. For all her flawless beauty, she had absolutely no sense of style. And little desire to acquire it.

The observant would notice how she would stay deathly still at some points, move quietly and quickly, and no more than glance at the text accompanying the exhibits. Synth could move, think, and read much faster than her purely biological counterparts. But she liked to think, and stay thoughtful. The world was still new to her, with so much to absorb, and ponder. History was a fascinating insight into the human race. A race she felt so much kinship to, but new she was not quite kin.

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Catherine looked at the exhibits at the museum, smiling a little at the Egyptian artifacts. They'd had a few trips like this when she had been studying Ancient History at school, and they had left her with an interest in Ancient Egypt.

She wasn't so sure about the playing up of the occult angle, though. In her opinion, that was overdoing the whole Halloween holiday way too much, and inserting the occult when it simply wasn't there.

The two new exhibits were pretty cool, though. She thought as she headed over to the armor exhibit, smiling. Susan would have loved to see the armor. I swear, she's more into boy stuff than Tim is...

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Bob headed toward the egyptian exhibit, in a large room on the first floor of the western wing of the museum. The space was dominated by a replica pyramid structure, nearly reaching the roof of the two story room. Within the pyramid people crowded around to see the stone sarcophagus, carved with the likeness of the pharoah. Beside the sarcophagus, outside the velvet ropes, stood a replica mummy with its arms extended in classic movie-monster pose. On the other side of the pyramid, on a stone pedestal stood a 3 foot long sphinx with the head of a ram, carved from black rock. Large plaques stood beside both artifacts explaining their historical significance and where they were found.

"Hey Mr. Rutherford!" a high school student called, pressing a camera into Bob's hands, "Get this picture for us." The student and his friends were posing around the fake mummy. Bob snapped the picture and returned the camera, "Don't forget about the test this friday, Jack. We're covering chapters three through five." Jack groaned and he and his friends headed off to the next exhibit, laughing.

Catherine arrived at the armor exhibit and saw the new items. A group of new armor suits stand in front of tapestries and an elaborate throne from the castle of Baron Dragos of Bardonia. An older man standing near the throne is droning on about Baron Dragos. "Dragos was a brutal warlord in his time, feared by all his neighbors. It is rumored that his excesses became even greater after a visit from the infamous Vlad the Impaler and the people in his own towns began to show up murdered in the nights. Ultimately Dragos was killed by a mob of revolting peasants and a cousin replaced him as Baron, but the mysterious murders continued. Rumor has it that not only did is tomb turn up empty, but it appeared to have been broken open from the inside."

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Catherine grinned slightly as she looked at the armor. "Looks pretty intimidating... how did they know the murders were committed by him, though? If he was that nasty, seems to me like he wouldn't be that concerned about keeping his killing secret."

The university student thought as she looked at the armor, before looking over at the throne and the banner. After all, she wasn't about to dispute that magic existed... but for a random lord to have access to it?

Naaaaaaah.

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The speaker nods, "That is the nature of legends, though. We do know Dragos was unpopular and it is likely that much was added to the story after his death. The string of murders is confirmed, though, in local church records and no murderer was ever tried. It is also confirmed that Dragos's coffin in the family mausoleum lies empty without a lid. Many historians attribute that to grave robbers, though." He is then distracted as he has shoos away a small boy, attempting to climb onto the horse of a mounted warrior. A security guard rushes to help and ushers the boy, whining "aww. you guys are no fun...", toward the lobby.

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As Synth is observing the exhibits and the visitors, she notices a man acting strangely. There are more than a few guests who have come to the museum in some sort of costume, but the man in an ornate renaissance-era jacket, a velvet cape and jeweled walking stick looks out of place even beyond his outfit. He walks around looking not at the exhibits, but at the lighting, security cameras and guards. Then he stops to watch out the large windows in the Egyptian exhibit, looking intently at the skies.

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odd...

Synth was no expert on human culture, but the man looked out of place. A velvet cape was not something she had seen before, even in Freedom City, who had a variety of exotically costumed characters.

Then she noticed his gaze, following it to the security guards and camera's.

a thief?

a rich thief? she pondered, looking at his jewelled walking stick. This was very strange, although plenty was strange to her. She had an innate distrust of wealth, feeling it a cruel inequity on the human race.

One to keep an eye out for...

She moved to the large window in the Egyptian exhibit, leaning on it for a moment with both palms, then wandering away, all the time keeping an eye out on the man.

On the ledge of the window lay an eyeball that rolled to the side, looking out to the skies where the man had been gazing.

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The eye at the window doesn't see anything unusual. The stars are beginning to appear as lights come on in nearby buildings. Blinking lights indicate an airplane crossing overhead. There is no obvious sign of what the man was looking at.

The man does not appear to notice Synth watching him, and after a few minutes he smile and taps his cane against the window before turning sharply and heading swiftly toward the back of the room. Several large stones covered in Hieroglyphics stand, alongside signs providing translations. He appears to be reading the signs, but then casually walks around one of the stones and never reappears.

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Synth was genuinely shocked when the man disappeared. Her instinct about the man's eccentricity was certainly justified. He had just managed to evaporate into thin air!

She circled the stone quickly, to check this was not some subtle and ingenious parlour trick, or mirrors and shadow, but she could detect none.

The possibility of alerting the guards crossed her head, but what could she say? a man...disappeared into thin air? no crime had been committed. She would just be labelled a lunatic, or a trouble maker, having a prank at securities expense.

Instead, she went to the large stones, to read the translations of the Hieroglyphics.

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There are shadows behind the stone but quick inspection is enough to see the man is not simply hiding in them, and no sign of hidden doors or other tricks.

The Hieroglyph translations are incomplete. The first sign concentrates mostly on translating example glyphs, but the others point out sections describing the history of the 18th dynasty and Thutmose V himself. The last is a section about the Onyx Sphynx of Aken, found in Thutmose's tomb. Aken takes Ra through the underworld in his ferry every night, and the Sphynx was meant to help guide the Pharoah to his proper place in the underworld.

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Synth studied the translation, rereading it several times, but ending up none the wiser. She had heard tales of magicians, sorcerers, cults, and the like in the world - but had not experienced such forces herself. In her experience, the magic of life came from science. She brought up and flexed her not-quite-human hand as she contemplated her own nature.

Nevertheless, it was possible that the mysterious man belonged to such forces. But what did she know? it could just as well have been a teleportation device, or a mutant with the power of invisibility. All she had was an ancient Egyptian Artifact, a dissappearing man, and some reference to Gods worshipped centuries ago in the underworld of that mythos.

And nothing to back up her suspicions.

But suspicions none the less!

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Without warning, all through the museum, the lights blink out. In the Egyptian exhibit, and other exhibits with exterior windows there is still some light coming in from the darkening skies outside, while other exhibits (including the armor display) are pitch black.

Flashlights blink on all over the museum and security guards attempt to keep order. "I want everyone to remain calm and stay where you are. I'm sure this is a temporary outtage, we'll let you know when we know more." The guards chatter on their radios and individually calm anyone who gets too upset. It is only a few moments before emergency lighting comes on around the building, leaving pockets of shadows everywhere.

Synth's eye at the window notices looks like a wall of smoke crawl over the outside of the window, unnoticeable to anyone further from the window.

Synth, Catherine and Bob all overhear a voice over a nearby radio. "I'm heading down to check the electrical room, outtage seems to be restricted to just this building. Wait, who are you..." followed by a scream. The guards react quickly to turn down the audio on their radios.

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Synth concluded this was an attack. Of what sort, who could tell? but the exterior was being obscured by smoke, and now the lights where out. Somebody wanted the Museum in the dark. And there wasn't a moment to lose.

With a blisteringly fast pace, she ran towards the stairs, barging past the barrier that said "Staff only - No entry".

She paused for one moment ate the stairs, taking off her coat. With a moments concentration she focussed her hypermetabolic cells, causing them to grow, split, and multiply.

The process was uncomfortable, bordering on painful. But she needed to be in two places at once. And a lone eye would not do. Her flesh distorted and bulged, causing her clothes to sag in places, and bulge to the point of ripping in others.

And then, growing into the cloth, was a perfect duplicate of herself. The clothes was something she could not duplicate, but the coat would suffice, tied up properly. She threw her clone her baggy top and, after a moments notice, her baggy trousers. She was left with her own cheap "Superhero" costume, a silver spandex athletic suit she wore under her clothes for these emergencies, with a "S" in gold and red over her top, a complex symbol evoking science and genetics.

Her rather ragged clone ran back into the museum proper, barefoot, in a coat and baggy, holed clothes. Quite a site. But at least Synth could now be in two places at once. The original version leapt down the stairs, trying to find her way to the electrical room...

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Bob jump when he heard the scream over the radios. This wasn't good. This wasn't just a power outage, someone (or something) dangerous was down there in the electrical room. He snuck away quietly from the other visitors, don't want to alarm them any more. A quick trip to the nearest restroom gave him the chance he needed. Under his polo-shirt and cargo-pants were his green body-suit, worn just for such an occasion. Goggles and gloves came out of his pockets (cargo-pants are useful) and Atomic Bob was ready for action. (Hopefully no one will notice the shoes).

Costumed up, Atomic Bob slipped back out of the bathroom and headed down toward the basement.

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Catherine blinked as she heard the scream. Leaving the exhibit quickly and discreetly, she headed into the bathroom, walking into a stall (checking it was clear first, though). Locking the door behind her, she quickly stripped out of her long-sleeved shirt and her jeans, revealing her costume underneath.

Good thing America had Autumn in October, she'd never get away with that trick in Australia this time of year. Catherine tied the mask around her head, covering her eyes and protecting her identity, before she walked out of the stall, leaving her clothes behind- she'd have time to pick them up afterwards, most likely.

The young woman quickly headed towards the stairs, heading for the electrical room.

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Synth's clone saw the guards trying to keep order, ushering people out of the exhibits and out to the main lobby. They at first suggest they're going to evacuate everyone, but quickly the story changes. "We think it's best if everyone remains inside until we know exactly what's going on. We have contacted the power company and the police and they'll help us resolve the situation as soon as possible."

The three heroes head down the stairs, ignore "No admittance signs", pass offices and storage rooms and converge at the electrical room in the basement. The door stands ajar and a figure is collapsed against the door frame, inside the room is dark and no movement is visible.

Atomic Bob carefully floats down the hallway toward the other two. A muscular six-foot two man in a green costume decorated with yellow radiation symbols. A faint green glow comes from behind his dark goggles. He smiles uneasily and whispers, "I'm Atomic Bob. Came down to figure out what happened to that man, and the lights."

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Synth nodded at the man, impressed at his entrance and appearance.

"Synth" she replied, to both Atomic Bob and Vector. "I hope you can see in the dark, its almost pitch black down here" she commented, straining her eyes. Her senses were sharper than normal human organs, but she still could not see without light.

"I heard something on the Radio, I presume this place is under attack - although I have no idea by whom, or by what, or where. But they cut the lights, and something is stopping the evacuation..."

"I have an eye out upstairs" she explained, quite literally.

She moved, slowly, in the darkness, to the collapsed door frame. The man (or woman) could be seriously injured...

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Bob shakes his head, "Hopefully we can borrow his flashlight, unless the culprit is emitting radiation, I'm just as blind as you down here." On the evacuation, he adds "We're going to have to be careful about innocent bystanders, then. As well as worrying about all the expensive exhibits and artifacts."

The security guard has fallen on top of his flashlight, blocking the light. Pulling it free allows Synth to see the man is unconscious. There are no obvious wounds, but lifesigns are faint. Chatter comes across his radio, as the guards and administration try to keep order and discuss how to handle the situation. "Whatever's blocking the main entrance seems to cover the windows as well. We've called for emergency assistance, try to keep people calm and keep them from wandering until help gets here."

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Synth hefted the camera in her left hand whilst focussing her stem cells into overdrive again. There was the same warping of flesh, that uncomfortable feeling, and yet another clone grew out of her arm, in all her glory.

Her second clone was without cloth, but fortunately covered by darkness. She took the security gaurds jacket to cover herself, then effortlessly hauled the man over her shoulders to take him outside.

Synth looked at atomic Bob. "Clone" she explained "its handy".

"Although it can be a problem. I need to work out how to keep myself - all of myself's - properly clothed. Walking around naked is not - culturally normal...." she explained. It was of no issue to herself, but then she had hardly had decades of human culture imprinted on her. Many human customs seemed oddities, although she understood enough to respect them. There was value in tradition.

"Ill see about getting him medical attention, and if there is any clue as to what happened to him. In the mean time, I think we should try and get some power back on..."

With that, she flicked on the flashlight and went looking for the generator...

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Vector hurried down the stairs, frowning as she saw the guard. She stepped over, nodding in acknowledgement of the other two superheroes present. "Hey. I'm Vector, pleased to meet you both, wish it were under better circumstances.

Caught the tail end of what you were saying... I should probably come down to help check on the generator- I can take surprise attacks fairly well.

...we'll need to split up, though. Some of us go down to check the generator while the rest of us start keeping the visitors contained."

Once Synth started heading off, Vector accompanied her, staying a little in front of the shapeshifter.

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Bob picks up the radio and tosses it to Vector. "Nice to meet you, Vector. I don't like this situation, so glad to have as much help as we can get here. I'll follow her upstairs and see what we can do to help keep order," he says, nodding toward the Synth carrying the guard. He's really unsure how to talk about multiple copies of the same person. Should he assign them numbers? Would that be rude? "Call for help if you need it, I'll try to get someone to lend me another radio so we can keep in contact."

Synth (with the flashlight) and Vector head in to the electrical room. There are rows of circuit breaker boxers, but as they look toward the back a cable lies disconnected in the back and the darkness is split by an arc of electricty from the severed live wire. It appears the main electrical line from outside the building has been cut. Not far from the wire is the backup generator, fed from an underground fuel tank. Another spark of electricity arcs from the wire to strike the generator.

Synth (with the guard) and Bob head upstairs again, reaching the lobby where guests sit huddled nervously together and flashlights dart around the room. "If the doors are blocked like they say, where will we take him for help?" Bob asks. "We should probably try not to let too many people see us carrying around a body, that might just make the panic worse."

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Vector winced as she saw the generator. "Oh, this isn't good... don't touch the generator, Synth, it's probably live with current. We need to find some rubber gloves so we can be insulated from the current, unless you've got an immunity to electrical shocks..."

She swept her flashlight slowly across the room, trying to spot if any rubber gloves were present- after all, there was the possibility that someone had stored electrical protection near the electrical equipment.

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There is a tool-chest near the door, and inside Vector is able to find a variety of protective gear, including insulating gloves.

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Vector nodded, pulling on the protective gloves. "Okay, here goes..."

She took hold of the wire, pulling it carefully away from the backup. "See if you can get the backup working, Synth..."

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