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Avenger Assembled

The Transporter (IC)

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June 1, 2015

At the end of a long shift, just when she'd made it back to her apartment, Sarah's phone rang - her caller ID reading FREEDOM HALL. 

When she picked up, an unfamiliar, accented voice spoke, "Greetings. I am Dr. Dimitri Peshkov, but you may know as COMRADE FROST of the Freedom League. I am calling because of Claremont alumnus agency placing graduates with temporary work. Can you meet with me in person to discuss matters? I can pay for your consultation time to the sum of..." He named an amount equal to what Sarah would have made with a solid week of work and good tips. 

 

Edited by Avenger Assembled

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Rachel stood quiet for a moment, letting everything sit in her work-addled brain. It basically processed as 'something something COMRADE FROST, something something work, something something...wait, how much money?'.

She shook the confusion out of her head and started actually talking. "Yes, uh, yeah. Give me a time, and a place, and I can be there in..." Quick mental calculations ensued. How fast could she get all equipped up? "A few minutes?" Teleportation did make everything much easier, didn't it?

Edited by Cabochard

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"Excellent. I shall meet you at Cline Park," a small kiddie park located a few blocks away, technically closed at this hour, "in ten minutes. Pardon delay, but old man flies slower than young lady teleports." He hmmed. "Also, if you happen to have weapons, or some sort of device you need for combat purposes, make sure to bring it along! Who knows what we might see in park, heh-heh-heh. See you soon!" 

Checking his digital watch, Comrade Frost was waiting in the park precisely ten minutes later. He was instantly recognizable as the man Tessaract had seen on the television; no one else wore that blue parka or that blue mask, or was surrounded by a faint cloud of white mist that was cold to the touch as she approached. And few other superheroes still smoked; the red light at the end of his cigarette the same color as the red that showed behind his domino mask. 

 

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Tesseract had slipped into her hero-ing costume, putting on the jumpsuit and jacket - she still wasn't sure why she'd stuck with the jacket, but she had to admit it was a pretty solid addition. The jumpsuit alone might have been a little weird. The whole ensemble was made with a camouflage design, to help break up her shape when she flipped up the hiding powers. That was one of her favourite features of it all.

Once she was dressed and ready, and she gave a moment of thought to the fact that hiding her identity behind the mask was probably a little pointless, given Frost had known her enough to be able to call her cell. With that semi-depressing thought out of the way, she'd focused, bending space, widening the cracks in the doorway and turning a crooked, several-mile long path into a single step, and she'd taken the step, finding herself in the park in mere seconds.

She took the few minutes while she waited to look around, calm down, and prepare herself for this, and when he arrived, she simply raised one hand in greeting, the other tucked behind her back in half of a military at-rest position, and waved it from side to side once. "Hello."

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"Ah, Tesseract! So nice to see you!" The Russian World War II veteran was all warm effusion to the young hero despite a grip that was cold even through his heavy gloves. "Hope call came at good time. You are so fortunate to have helpful powers!" he added warmly, releasing her hand. "What I need is transportation to certain site off the coast of Cuba, and then porheps transportation of myself and certain cargo back to Freedom City in discreet fashion. Is easy money and can make sure your name does not need to enter into transaction." He winked broadly. "Do not worry, is joke, is joke! Would not actually ask nice young American heroine to break any laws." He made a circle in the air with his hands. "You would just need to wait outside fence. Maybe cool heels, listen to iPad?" 

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"Yes, it's nice to see you too." She shook his hand somewhat loosely, then when he released it, she shook it in the air a little more to get more feeling back into it, after the cold. She nodded along with his talk, cocking her head a little as he said she was fortunate to have the right powers. However, that was forgotten when he made the joke about it being illegal. Her face dropped a little under the mask for a second, but then rose again as he confirmed it was a joke.

She nodded one last time, after he finished. "I suppose I can do that. I just need a good description of the location or...well, where it is on a map would be really helpful. Do you mind if I ask what exactly I'm going to be moving back? Or is that secret League business?"

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"Delighted you asked!" Frost sat down on the grass and reached into his parka, pulling out something a woman of Sarah's age had mostly seen in classrooms - a paper map. "This is Isla de la Juventud, or as you Americans say, the Isle of Youth!" He spread out the map on the grass, using a penlight to illuminate it for Sarah. The island in question turned out to be just off the coast of Cuba. "Back during Cold War, Soviet government left certain device on the Isle of Youth that has recently been causing problems for Cuban population. Certain, ah, super-science devices that have effect on human aging. Do not worry!" he added, "is perfectly harmless, is just cosmetic. But unsettling to Cuban fishermen and tourists from Havana. We need to get device out of island and away from Cuba. But Peoples' Heroes are occupied with, ah, border defense these days, you know, and Freedom League would raise questions if it went to Cuba unannounced." He hmmed, looking over at Sarah. "You know, if this works out, I can have you listed as trusted name in Freedom League files. Consultants are paid well - and it could be the start of better things!" 

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Tesseract nodded as things connected in her mind, during his talk. "Oh, so, it makes people look younger? That seems practical, actually." She shrugged. "And definitely not illegal, nope. I can help. I can probably go there right now, since I know where it is." A second passed, as she thought. "You being caught would still be suspicious though, right? You're just less likely to get caught, alone?"

She took another moment to think on what he said next. "Well, I am going to need a new way to get work, besides just patrols, after graduation.." She shrugged. "We'll see how this job goes, right?"

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"Hah-hah, yes, of course, that is effect of device, yes," agreed Frost, steepling his fingers in front of him. "As for your role and why you are needed, I could get there on my own but it is long flight to Cuba from North America. I would have to take commercial flight to Miami and those are always unpleasant, I would need to fly over straits to get to Cuba...And if I took Freedom League Javelin to land there, there would be many questions, such as "Comrade Frost, why are you stealing space plane?" and "Comrade Frost, are you trying to start war?" and "Frost, at last I can crush you like you deserve!"" He seemed to be doing impressions of at least three of his fellow Freedom Leaguers. "Last one is not really question I suppose. Anyway, Cuba shares timezone with Freedom City so now is excellent time for us to make journey. Are you prepared?" 

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Tesseract cocked her head to the side for a second, frowning at him. Doubts swam through her mind, dragged up by the idea that the other Leaguers were apparently unaware of this stint into Cuba. On the other hand...Frost was a Leaguer. She could trust him. Right?

She nodded, rubbing her hands together nervously, in preparation for the jump. It wasn't a hard task for her - she did bigger jumps regularly, when she wanted to have a good croissant in Paris, or check out the Highlands of Scotland. But, she hadn't taken anyone on one, before. "I see...yes, I can help. Just, take my hand, and I can get us there in a few seconds." Her hand stretched out, offered to Frost, and she waited until he grabbed it.

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Comrade Frost's directions took them to the center of a complex of squat, round buildings, a half-dozen cylinders that towered five stories above Comrade Frost and Tesseract's heads. It was night here too, and dark, the formidable-looking complex lit by artificial lights along a nearby walkway leading out towards a nearly-empty parking lot and a larger road out and away from the complex. "Welcome to Presidio Modelo," said Frost, patting Tesseract on the arm as he looked around. The dim lighting didn't seem to bother him. "Was once Cuban prison and scene of many horrors; is now prison museum. Though they say little of horrors under Castro!" Frost shrugged, evidently unbothered by the realities of life under dictatorship. He walked around, peering at the nearby buildings with those glowing red eyes. "So," he whispered, "you have career plans? Young lady like you, just at beginning of career!" 

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Once Frost had taken her hand, Tesseract had begun the bending process. It had taken time, and effort, six seconds to be exact. Frost - now in contact with her - could actually see it as it happened. The air in front of them shimmered and warped, and he watched the entire movement to their destination by foot, though it was much, much faster, over within seconds. Once the space was bent, Tesseract stepped through, pulling Frost with her.

The effect was strange. Not because it felt peculiar, but because it didn't. The step felt just like any other step would, as if the spaces were meant to connect, as if Cuba was meant to be in the middle of Freedom City. Moments after they finished the step, Tesseract released the space, and it all returned to just the way it was.

She looked around as he spoke, feeling a little apprehensive. The fact that they were in a prison, in Cuba, even if it was no longer a prison, definitely made her feel uncomfortable. The air around her bent and reshaped itself, as she used her power to pop up her defences - a small set of distortions that would move blows around her. As it came up, she looked at Frost. "Not really. I have a little job, that brings in money, right now, but no real big plans." Her shoulders raised in a delicate shrug. "No plans beyond that."

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"Ah, to be young and eighteen again. I remember it well." Frost put his hands in his pockets as he looked up at the buildings, seeming to try and peer inside them. "I was living in Ukraine at the time, just four years before hungry mass-death. Things were better then. You know," he went on, sounding more like an accented guidance counselor than a partner in a secret mission, "if you are ever looking for paying work, People's Heroes pay foreign metahumans _very_ well, especially with powers like yours - all you need are a few extension classes in Russian and then - say, I have it!" He stopped when they reached a particular prison tower. "Tower number six, but only five towers in prison! And strange thermal signatures all over inside. Hmmm...." He looked thoughtfully at Tesseract, as if about to suggest something, then suddenly the sound of the night was interrupted by the sound of crying babies! 

Running around to the front door of the roundhouse, the heroes were confronted by the ominous sight of two empty Cuban army uniforms - filled by two loudly weeping infants! From inside the building, audible now that they were at the front door, came the sound of more weeping children. Comrade Frost said something in Russian that sounded naughty, then, "Are you feeling well, Tesseract?" 

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"I'll...think about it. Wasn't planning on working outside of the US, but...I suppose, with my powers, I could work anywhere and still live where I felt like it." Tesseract shrugged slightly, following him around to the tower he mentioned, quietly letting him reach his conclusion. When she saw the babies, she froze for a second, a profound frown appearing on her face. "I thought you said it was just cosmetic." She felt...something, for a second, then shook her head. "No, I'm fine. We should probably get the machine shut down, then? Do you know which room it's in? I could get there in a few seconds, assuming it's within a few hundred meters."

Edited by Cabochard

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"I have maybe never actually been inside building," admitted Frost, "here, I can handle door. Mind appearance." And with that he seemed to dissolve into a cloud of white mist broken up by two glowing red eyes - a sentient cloud that pooled its way under the sliding glass door that guarded the front entrance and reformed on the other side a moment later. Only a second or two passed as he fiddled with the controls before they opened for Tesseract. The sound of babies weeping through much of the dark, half-lit building was more than a little disturbing even for Frost, who pulled his parka's hood up for a moment, leaving only his glowing eyes visible. "Okay. Okay, we must move quickly. Device is most likely in basement, and, hm, security alert is going. Let us move quickly, eh?" 

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She rubbed her hands together nervously while he opened the door, staying mostly quiet. But, when he mentioned moving quickly, she nodded, and her mask bent as the mouth beneath it smiled. Just like before, her powers made it much, much easier to reach places than by foot. Her hand reached out to touch him on the shoulder, and a small laugh made its way out of her throat. "I can do you one better."

Tesseract didn't know the best way to get to the basement on foot, so she didn't bother compacting space that way. Instead, she focused downwards. Between every piece of dirt, every concrete block, every drop of cement, there's a microscopic amount of space. To most people, most insects, and most gases, even, that's not enough space to squeeze through. But, to someone for whom the laws of time and space are merely a suggestion, it was more than enough.

The space below the two opened suddenly, that minimal distance between molecules suddenly becoming yards wide, and she hopped through, taking Frost with her, if he was willing. A second, just long enough for a breath, and they were in the basement.

Edited by Cabochard

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They found themselves in a super-science laboratory like the ones Tesseract had seen while touring Freedom Hall as a Claremont student, the computers, scientific equipment, and beakers of various colored fluids as familiar as a staged movie set. A rusting old machine the size and shape of a hot water heater sat on top of the largest examination table in the room, the leaking side of the vessel showing the drip-drip-drip of a thick, tarry substance onto the tiled floor of the lab. From the quantity of particularly tiny babies in this room, all of them crying the eerie wail of a newborn, it wasn't hard to guess that this was the center of the field of youthenizing. 

Of course, the two heroes had an entirely separate problem. The largest baby in the room also looked to be the oldest, perhaps eighteen months old and even standing on two feet. It was also at least sixteen feet tall, towering over the two heroes and its bald little head brushing the metal vaulted ceiling. The toddler wore a uniform, a tight, spandex-looking number with the faint sheen of morphic molecules. Frost said a bad word as the toddler looked at them, his face red and angry. "...Gigante of the Cuban People's Defense Alliance, and-" The toddler screamed wordlessly and reached for them with giant chunky fists. "And he is an angry baby!" 

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Tesseract had always thought that the ability to go anywhere, at anytime, without having to put too much real thought into it, would get her into serious trouble one day. Apparently, that day was today, and it was even more trouble than usual. Maybe she should have thought to scope the place out with her farsight first. Ah, missed opportunities...

She didn't really have the time to do anything but stare up at the monster, her mask shifting quite a bit as she spoke, silently. "Ba...ba...ba...uhhh...that's a big baby."

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Frost burst into a cloud of steam, reforming on the other side of the Youthenizer. He placed his hands against the device, spreading his fingers wide, and opened his heart to the cold of Nifelheim. Icy crystals immediately began spreading where he touched, spreading across the metallic surface of the old machine and into the chemical matrix within. As he worked, he called to his hired gun - "Machine is designed with destruction-safe! If machine is destroyed, chemical matrix will lose cohesion and affected will begin to return to normal!" Gigante's shrill, ear-splitting scream, briefly blocked out his words as he flailed at Tesseract's head with a fist big enough to catch her face. "-need you to distract Gigante! Remember that he is just child and room is full of newborns!" he went on, thinking about how young Tesseract herself was. But wasn't everyone, these days? 

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Giant baby. It was reeeeally big, seriously. Tesseract wasn't always the best with dimensions and size, but she was about 90% sure that this baby was far, far bigger than it should be. And, usually, when something was bigger, that made it more likely to stand up to a powerful hit. Right? Right.

So, no need to hold back. She acknowledged Frost with a nod and a grunt, and then her fingers plucked at the air, as if pulling back a rubber-band water-balloon-launcher, and then she let go. The space directly in front of her compacted as she pulled it back, and then, when she let go, it snapped back forward, aiming to hit Gigante right in the chest!

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The blast whizzed past the giant baby, whose flailing seemed to move him out of the way at the last moment. Tesseract's blast did take out a chunk of ceiling, though fortunately one that simply vanished rather than collapsing down on the people, and babies, below! Gigante tried another swipe with his giant baby fists but again missed; it seemed that being transformed into a toddler wasn't very good for one's combat style. He took a stumbling step towards Tesseract, nearly falling on her, and wailed again in a booming whine that matched the smaller cries from the 'newborns' still all around them. The situation was rapidly becoming untenable. 

And cold! Comrade Frost, still at the device, now stood in the center of a rapidly growing cloud of white mist as the air itself condensed around him; the effect was like standing next to one gigantic heat sink as the temperature in the room visibly dropped! The babies didn't like it at all, screaming now, but Comrade Frost paid them no heed! Finally, when the youth machine was completely white with rime and frost, the cold controller pushed it over off the table (carefully making sure there were no infants on the other side), where it shattered into fragments of frozen metal that scattered themselves across a corner of the room blessedly free of writhing infants. 

"Done! Now we just wait out transformation!" he exulted. 

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"Well then, if we're done..." No need to overstay your welcome, especially when you're not welcome. Of course...did they have to pick up the remaining pieces of the machine? Either way, they didn't have to be in the room with the flailing, angry baby any more, and Tesseract was pretty sure that once he transformed back, Gigante wouldn't be any less angry. And, she didn't have to take them very far.

Tesseract didn't do a whole lot of work. Space warped, and she stepped the few feet to where Comrade Frost was with one movement. Then, without spending too much time in that location either, her hand landed on the Comrade's back, and she pulled them up. They stepped back up out of the bent space exactly where they'd started, before she took them down to the basement. She tapped her hands together, letting him adjust back to where he was, and then spoke again. "So...are we going to have to go back down there to collect the pieces?"

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"No, pieces are too small to collect or identify, but we should really make our way back to Freedom City," said Frost, who was moving quickly as they exited the prison tower. "Reasonably confident that frost obscured all security tapes, but who can say with what you kids are doing these days with computers, eh?" He winked at Tesseract as they reached the open air. "Let us make haste," he added, "Best to leave before little brains can form connections and remember faces and or costumes. Don't want Cuban authorities to think we had anything to do with release of youth chemicals, heh-heh-heh!" Looking backwards, the babies they had left guarding the front door now had the distinct look of toddlers about them. "What an exciting adventure!" he added warmly. "You did fine job versus giant toddler Gigante."

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"Right. Right." She nodded swiftly, following along with him. "At least their baby memories won't remember us from down there, right? Right?" She didn't really leave him the time to confirm, just moving on immediately. "It was...a thing. Thanks, I didn't really do anything. Just, gave him something to focus on." She shrugged. "Anything an illusion could have done, really."

After that, she didn't waste any time, at all. Her hand landed on his shoulder, and she stopped moving for a moment, just concentrating on her location. The space warped and bent, and they stepped through it, to find themselves right back where they started the day - the park.

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"Delightful," declared Frost, resolidifying as they reformed in the darkened park. "Tesseract, you are all that file in Claremont promises and more." He stuck his hand in his back pocket and came out with an old, cracked leather wallet and immediately began digging out well-used hundred dollar bills. "We have saved innocent Cuban soldiers and scientists from being transformed into non-existence by leaky old Soviet device, we have destroyed device before any awkward questions could be raised about how it found itself on Cuban soil as if by happenstance...delightful!" He kept feeding money into her hand while he talked, until she had the weight of all he'd promised her and more. "Your first mission with the Freedom League! Not bad, eh?" he asked with a red-eyed wink. "Too bad it must remain secret - but don't worry, your name will be on market now."

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