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Hollow Teeth (IC, Open)


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March 1st, 2016, 2.03 AM (AST)

The Warrens, West wall of Farside Crater, the dark side of the Moon, Sol System


At all times the caves felt empty. The walls were covered in ornate and sophisticated technology, the floors often interrupted by sweeping, elegant examples of Farsider engineering, normally the squared tunnels blazed with light, but the silence of the vacuum and the blackness of deactivation made it all feel like a very elaborate stage, not a place that anyone could live in.


As she materialized on the teleportation dais, clutching her precious cargo, Atraxia looked at the motionless, austere world around her with a swell of pride. As the last of the blue-gold shimmers of recoherence faded, the dead Farsider straightened up, free of the oppressive grip of Olderth gravity, and flew, pausing only briefly to verify her identity to the monitoring system. At once, the rest of the power cells kicked in, and the world changed.


As Atraxia sped like a dark arrow through the now brilliantly-lit tunnels, she relaxed at last, grip loosening on the container still closely held against her black and red terrasuit. Inside, something pale writhed against magno-gravitic bonds, something which could make a corpse's eyes glitter with curiosity and delight. It had been years since it had fallen to Olderth's surface and somehow, despite all odds and the high price the governments of the planet would place on it, she was the first to recover it. One piece, all hers.


Coming at last to the doors of her laboratory, the Farsider reached out a spindly arm, sinking it into an adjacent aperture. She felt mechanisms inside remove the sleeve of her 'suit, and then nothing. With a tone that she had spent days perfecting, wasted on the acrid void, the door spiraled open, revealing a dizzying wonderland of intricate tools, specimens in myriad rainbows of solutions and nutrient baths, plodding simulations, readouts describing in exhaustive detail every action of every molecule of their given subject. It was a pleasure to step inside, to let the door cycle shut, blocking out the messy world and step into one of harmony and direction.


Taking the cylinder of silver gold to a spare section of her exotic containment module, Atraxia slid the thing into place, tested the field inside with a flick of her dead wrist and a flicker of her blank blue eyes to a crystalline guage, and taking a breath of useless air injected the Gorgon shard into its new home.


At once the inchoate mass of consuming, imprisoning nanites tried to break free, twisting and distorting as it tried to get a grip on something solid enough to entomb and ossify, but repulsed by a shifting stream of energy waves it could do little but fall into a pattern of outgrowth, collapse and regrowth.


Staring in a moment's gleeful awe at the mass of miniscule robots that would have rapidly reduced her and her home to a petrified state, the vampire quickly recovered herself and settled in to examine her find. Hunching over a translucent display, she absently thumbed a button that unfolded a nearby section of wall, offering a fresh canister of cloned blood. Swapping it with the empty one in her 'suit, the vampire felt her cares and stress wash away under the soothing quasi-sensation of revitalization, the new blood spreading through her withered veins and pumping into her wrinkled skull. For all that, she was as motionless as a statue, as a part of the high-tech furniture, as the silent walls and tunnels of the deathly-still Warrens.


In moments, it was just her and the data, the rest of the universe and its inhabitants a distant fifth concern. As were the facts that matter-transit signals could be tracked, and that maybe, just maybe, somebody else might want what she'd found.

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-Wiltshire, England-

Jerry had thus far enjoyed his trip to England. Truth be told, between exams and stopping crime, he had been getting pretty beat up, both physically and mentally, and felt that he needed to take a break, or risk breakdown. He hadn't sign up for this. He didn't decide to become a hero just so that he'd get overworked to death, but rather to experience the thrill that came with chasing bad guys, and all the insane stuff he could pull off with his powers. There was a certain level of satisfaction in turning into a man made of water and blasting thugs with high-pressure water, or turning into wind and blowing past a crimelord's security, but more often than not, Jerry seemed to go out of his way to help bystanders, even when doing so went well above and beyond the call of duty. That he'd managed to keep this up for more than a year, genuinely surprised Jerry.


Nevertheless, though he might not admit it, even to himself, but he felt very proud of his accomplishments and perserverance. But still, overworking was overworking, and with a paper on ancient ruins and their significance in religious practices comming up, Jerry found the perfect excuse for a much needed break. Deciding to do research on the Stonehenge, he booked a flight to the United Kingdom, took a tour bus to Amesbury, and before you know it, was walking around Wiltshire, gathering information from the locals, discussing and crossreferrencing their knowledge of oral traditions passed down from generation to generation.


By the time he went to visit the actual location, Jerry had already amassed an entire notebook worth of stories and legends about the neo-druidic practices that had been given rise in the early post 1900s, and how they reflected to the practices and customs of the druids of old. Now, he wanted to see the actual Stonehenge up close, and revel in the monument's majestic naturalist significance. "Man, even with the hangover I got from yesterday, this place is so good for your senses that you can't help but wake up." He remarked to himself, as he breathed in the clear air and ancient history of the place, while also making a mental note to never let the locals buy him a drink in the pub again.

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Mere moments later, soon enough that a faint haze from the matter-transition still lingered in the air for Jerry to find, Red Moon darted Moonwards from within the very same ingeniously-arranged megalithic artifact.


For reasons unexplored, many such groupings and carvings of primitive stone resonated with technology unimaginably more advanced. Something about Preserver  and ancient human arts had grown in parallel, and the result while inexplicable was quite beautiful.


Starting from the inner arches, but moving steadily outwards, a silver-blue light began to play among the stones. It illuminated the nigh-obliterated remains of letters and crude runes, sweeping in currents and waves of light, suddenly collapsing together in the centre of the ring and forming a lance aimed at the low-riding ghostly Moon.


Jerry felt an abrupt and powerful urge to follow, though why or how wasn't obvious, the destination was clear enough.

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Jerry, absolutely mystified by the spectacle, and throwing all caution out in the wind, followed the light in the midst of the pillars. He was breathing heavily, his heart was racing, his eyes unblinkable as if staring into the void. At first, he pondered if maybe he had drunk a bit more than enough yesterday, but he quickly shaked that thought off. This was happening; the stone pillars were emitting this mysterious light pointed straight at the moon. He put a hand in the light, and felt a gentle warmth from within. "... It's not a laser beam of some sort, that's for sure." He commented to himself, and then, he looked around him.


Confirming that no-one was there, Jerry decided that he needed a change of outfits. Removing his casual clothes revealed a white and green suit, one he used to hide his identity from the world, while acting in any superheroic capacity. Putting his mask on, and stashing his clothes in a nearby bush, he proceeded towards the light. Taking a gulp, Jerry step forwards into the light, having no idea what would expect him on the other side. He entered the light beam.


It was at that moment that a thought crossed his mind. Wait, this will take me to the moon, right? Doesn't it exist in vacuum?...

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Even at the speed of a photon it takes a few minutes to reach Earth's largest natural satellite, but energy-shift transport sidesteps such archaisms. Meatheral was still pondering the wisdom of his compulsion when the Earth drifted serenly away beneath him, and he was flung at impossible speeds toward the brilliant ghostly disk of the Moon.


Indeed, for a heart-stopping second he passed through the Moon, only to emerge inside a dim, silent, very vacuum-filled room covered and full of things that would have hummed, shone or vibrated if the environment had suited such exuberance.


Exposure to vacuum is not instantly fatal for humans, but Jerry could feel the constricting, horrible sensation of not being able to breath, and knew his time wasn't long to find a source of air. 


Meanwhile, elsewhere, Atraxia switched off the vivid red warning that unidetified persons had entered the Warrens. The nanites weren't combining....but what if she could make them join?

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Jerry gasped for air. He didn't have time to reprimand himself for his foolishness, he didn't have time to think anything other than Air! Must get air! He ran around, trying to reactivate the portal, to get back. When that ultimately failed, he slunk to the ground, as the horror of his situation dawned on him. Air! Air! Need Air! As tha thought kept swirling into his panicked mind, finally, a moment of clarity entered him, as he realised that if he could not find breatheable air, he'd just create air for himself!


VENTUS AD ME CIRCUMFLAT! he shouted, elated at the prospect of transforming into an air elemental






VENTUS AD ME CIRCUMFLAT!!! he tried again, giving it his all on this shout. But then he realised; no sound was coming from him. Without air to produce vibrations, the sound was being restricted to his own body.


Don't.... DON'T SCREW WITH ME! Jerry raged at his luck, and dug his face into his suit. Just a bit of air... Just enough for one shout, no, for one whisper!




And finally, with that, Jerry felt himself transform, his body - flesh, blood, and bone - evaporating and being replaced with pure, breathable, compressed air. The sensation of the transformation left Jerry feeling elated. He did it. He was finally out of the fire!


... and into the frying pan, by the looks of it, for while Jerry managed to transform into an air elemental, thus eliminating his need for breathable air, his exposed body started expanding outside of his control, the zeroth pressure of the vaccuum drawing the air that consisted his body, outwards.

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Alert, atmosphere leak


Atraxia started up from the viewscope, staring in complete bafflement at the transmitter on the wall. What atmosphere? She hadn't turned that on when she arrived, and-


Her dead blue eyes widened. Of course! When she had come back from Earth, some of the atmosphere around her had been transported at the same time. Now it  was doing a valuable job and showing her a flaw in the Warrens' transit hub. 


Lurching away from her experiment, the nanites temporarily forgotten, the Lunar vampire hurried over to a viewscreen; a few sliders were pressed and a full climate readout of the Hub was presented. The results were...unexpected?


Atraxia was forced to admit the undeniable: somehow there was a miniature cyclone in her home, and unless the United Kingdom had been even more severely affected by temporal anomalies than usual, this was no carryover of a few whisps of water vapor and some nitrogen. This was something that bore immediate investigation!


For completeness' sake, the Farsider skipped back a minute to see how the mystery whirlwind had begun. It took longer than she cared to admit to agree with the evidence that it had somehow begun after she had arrived. Switching to the visible spectrum recorders, she started as she watched a replay of Jerry's arrival, the intruder alert from just a short time ago quickly taking on a very different context, now that she saw for herself that it wasn't just some error.


Hastily activating the Warrens' artificial atmosphere, centralizing it on the Hub, Atraxia raced back to where she'd arrived. 


Sliding noiselessly through a wall, the black-suited scientist croaked, her dry, rasping voice echoing with the sound of a dozen other languages whispered in the background "Hello! I-I am sorry, I did not realize you were here. Are you alright?" There was an awkward pause before she offered, tentatively "Who are you? How did you get here?"


"I am Red Moon" she added, remembering herself "These are my Warrens, you are on the far side of Luna."

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As Atraxia activated the life support systems in place, Meatheral felt his body's distortion calming down, until he was eventually able to fully resume control of it. The etherial hero was now able to catch his breath figuratively as well, and finally felt confident about moving around. He considered turning back on the spot, for a brief moment; after all, he'd come dangerously close to dying. And miss this incredible chance to explore this... place?


However, before he could take a final decision, Atraxia came to greet him. "Huh? Wha-, who are..." At first, startled, Meatheral tried to keep his guard up, not sure who that person was. But apologizing to him put Jerry at ease. "Ah, yeah, I'm alright, sorry for the reflexes." He spoke with his aerial voice. "My name is Je... *harum* I mean, I am Meatheral. As for how I got here, well... that's a bit of a story there." He faltered a bit, after almost giving out his real name. They did say that one could never be too careful, after all.


Hearing Red Moon's introduction, he acknowledged her. "I'm... pleased to make your aqcuaintance, Red Moon. I had an inkling of a feeling that this place here is the moon... Luna, as you say." He commented, and then proceeded to explain how he got here. "See... I was vacationing down in earth, looking at some ruins called The Stonehenge, when all of a sudden, a beam of light fell down upon them from the moon. You could say I became entranced by it, and so, I followed the light - which felt very gentle to the touch, I might add, nothing like a death beam of destruction - and, well, here I am."


Edited by Vahnyu
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"The transit ray shouldn't have stayed in place, that doesn't make any sense." Red Moon was crouched by the dais, fiddling with an array of glowing lines that curved and crackled at her touch. Straightening up to her full lean, spectral height, the Farsider scientist went on anxiously "Please do not hold onto this. I did not expect anyone, using the artificial atmosphere generator is a waste for me...in this suit, I mean, usually I keep it off."


Sounding as wretched as she felt, Atraxia added in her strangely echoing voice "I am deeply, terribly sorry for hurting you."


There was an awkward silence as the Farsider struggled to think of an appropriate follow-up, at last hitting on "Would...would you like me to show you the rest of the Warren? The atmosphere is on, you are quite safe in human form. I promise!"

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"No... No, it's okay. It wasn't your fault." Meatheral responded. "I was the one who stepped into the light beam pointed towards the moon with nary a worry." Still unsure of what had happened, and whether he should remain apprehensive or not, Meatheral decided that his host was being as forthrigt and honest as possible, and decided to oblige her. "Yeah, that is a good idea."


The cyclonian form he had assumed started to disperse, only this time non-violently so, revealing Meatheral's human body and suit underneath it. "Well, since I'm here and all, a tour to the place wouldn't be bad. Sorry for intruding, miss Moon. I accept your gracious offer." He was, in fact, a bit startled. How does one behave in such a situation, after all. It could, for all he knew, devolve into an international (interplanetary?) incident, with great ease, given that this Red Moon person seemed important.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Oh, hardly an intru...not bothering me, no." Atraxia hastened to reassure her impromptu guest, flitting ghost-like around the room as she cycled up the lighting systems and meticulously adjusted the pressure generators. Almost at once Meatheral felt the awkward lightness of Lunar gravity replaced by solid, comfortable Terrestrial weight.


For her part, Red Moon had a rare reason to thank her transformation, since being able to simply float above the ground at will meant she didn't have to feel her bones and sinews struggle and crack under the punishing grind of Earthly gravity. With a final swipe of her fingers across a many-coloured control board, the basic lighting of the Warrens was replaced by proper illumination. What it revealed was quite beyond what Jerry had seen even in the most fanciful of sci-fi.


The stark white walls, floor and ceiling were lined with glimmering currents of power under semi-translucent strips running through and across the room. From the dais the Hub radiated in a rough circle, a crystalline pillar pulsating gently at each edge of the room acting as conduit for the strange energies powering the Moon base. Despite their solidity, the structure felt as fluid as light, seeming to course with some hidden energy and waiting to fly apart in a moment. Even the floor trembled and pulsed to the eyes like it was some kind of illusion. Overhead the already low roof dipped, until Jerry could have reached up and touched the broad, dark inverted dome bare meters above his head, a single point of pale blue light lurking in its depths. It was uncomfortably like looking into an eye.


Above a small, one-person control station in front of him and off of the dais, a hologram of the Earth was projected, unintelligible letters and symbols surrounding one location he did recognize: the damp island he'd just left. Orbiting it was a representation of the Moon, different letters and symbols around a spot near a deep crater on the dark side that was probably where he had ended up. All of it was shades of blue and purple.


Beside the red, black and grey his host wore the place already looked incongruous and ill-fitting. But as she drifted up to her guest and extended a spidery limb, Atraxia felt quite at home in asking "So, where first? What first? Power? Quarters? Matter Transfer? I have an incredible find in the Lab, though it will be tricky to fit two in there at once. I can expand the room if you want?"

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Jerry took Atraxia up on her offer, and joined her in her tour of the place. So different than a typical earthen structure, this place seemed... lighter. As if it was designed for someone weighting 10 kilos, not 60 kilos. It all seemed so etherial and floaty and... alien. But not completely so; he could see there were plenty of similarities to the architecture of terran buildings. It was just alien enough.


Mystified by the look of the place, Jerry stumbled a few times on his way to reach Atraxia. When he reached her, he listened to her suggestions. "Well... you've got me at a disadvantage here. I honestly couldn't make a sound judgement, so... what the hell, let's go to the Lab first!" He exclaimed, with some excitement to his voice. At this point, no thought of his paper and its subject could enter his mind.

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  • 3 weeks later...



With the giddy thrill of anyone showing off something only they knew about, Atraxia led Jerry with her long, jerking strides down the now-dazzling corridors, with their harshly-straightened bends and ruthlessly-squared floors and ceilings. Readouts and holographic displays followed them silently, folding or projecting out of the walls and collapsing back into them as they passed, all buzzing with alien numerals and letters and graphs and charts and what Meatheral could have sworn was a rerun of an old 70's episode of the Atom Family Adventures show. Her grip on his hand was pincer-sharp and rigid as steel, something even the padding of her terrasuit couldn't disguise, and when the pair slid to a halt in front of an unmarked door the Farsider's hand squeezed down painfully.


"This is it, one moment." Releasing her guest, Red Moon slid off a glove to reveal a pale, withered hand with blackened veins. Inserting it into a narrow hole beside the door, there was a faint tone of gentle, solemn music and the door spiraled open.


The tools and equipment, so familiar to Atraxia, were thorougly alien to Meatheral's eyes, like a cross between a sci-fi movie set and a dentist's office. Tubes hung from the ceiling and embedded in pulsating crystals, while racks of intricate tools lay beside them in meticulously-arranged rows, containers and pods holding bits of animals, plants, and minerals ranged the walls or lay on tables. Getting too close made more holographic displays pop out, showing what must have been very interesting data on what they held.


Wit pardonable pride and a sideways glance concealed by her helmet, the Farsider said "Made it all myself. No largie." Stepping over to a circular control panel she tapped a few buttons, and the dimensions of the formerly-cramped room began to warp and shift dramatically, until the cozy/cramped lab of moments before was spacious enough for two to walk abreast in the narrowest sections.


"Was on Earth, gatherng samples. Recent nanotech deposits from extrasystem entities, see?" She guided Jerry through a broadened maze of tables and crystalline pillars to a small canister in the middle of the room. In its depths, two twining, wriggling metal things fought against some invisible force.


"A piece of the Gorgon and still-active Communion nanites. Find a way to combine them, and near-infinite computing power! No need for slow, slow quantum computing and everyone can access!" Atraxia spread her gangly arms "All previous methods, obsolete as the concept of self!" The helmet turned to Jerry "What do you think? Exciting, right? Will..." her echoing voice suddenly softened "will your people like that?"

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Jerry was... silent. His eyes looked upon the works of Atraxia, the mighty. They didn't seem to have arrived on a conclusion on whether they should despair or not, but it was undoubted that what he was seeing was impressive. Beyond impressive. "That's... you built this? On your own?! I mean, with no help?" Jerry suddenly felt that he was way out of his depth. Magic, gods, fey creatures, curses. Those were things that he could deal with, even if he himself had little actual arcane knowledge. This however...


"Ummm... honestly? I fail to see why they'd hate super-computers... but, will it be safe? I know from personal experience that Communion nanites could reanimate the dead and even bring upon gods on the mortal realm. I heard the heroes took down the Communion Mothership, but what if another one emerges? And that's not touching the matter of the Gorgon." He asked Atraxia, concernedly.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Lots of time, little to do, plenty of things lying around." Atraxia waved the Herculean feat her Warrens represented away with a twinge of self-satisfaction. Crouching nearer to the viewplate, she brought the competing strands of nanotech closer into focus, her black helmet reflecting off it and dimming Jerry's view "Besides, I needed a new lab, my old one in Farside City very old-fashioned, take too long to properly refurbish and update. This, much better."


"And new equipment leads to better information. This fragment," a spindly finger tapped the plate over the Communion piece "like a dead skin cell, will break down without nearby material to convert into inactive computronium. The subspace intellect that controlled its form and activity is not sending it any new orders, and its only function is conversion and reception/transmission suitable for instantaneuous conversation between systems. Keep it in a magnetic field and it cannot harm anything!"


"This, however, some slight danger," the finger tapped over the gleaming, bone-like shard of the Gorgon. Red Moon folded her arms and studied it closely for a moment before venturing "however, the Preserver construct only uses these to immobilize and...preserve objects. These are not the same as those used to alter the Guardian Willow, and so far as I know their purposes are separate and distinct. With these supporting the Communanites, the Gorgonanites should make any computational system virtually indestructible."


"So far as we know the Communion Mothership was not important, the subspace-intellect was; the nanotech is merely a matter-space extension, not the true shape, of that intelligence. From all accounts it was thoroughly dispersed by your kind." The willowy alien bowed "We thank you."

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  • 1 month later...

Jerry listened intently at Atraxia's words. There was passion in her explanation, the evidence of a true maestro craftsman. He could only nod to indicate that he understood, as she pressed on.



"So far as we know the Communion Mothership was not important, the subspace-intellect was; the nanotech is merely a matter-space extension, not the true shape, of that intelligence. "


"Hmm... so far, indeed." He replied, voicing his doubts. He couldn't really understand the nature of the Communion nanotech, other than explaining it in broad terms, but he also doubted that anyone else did, as well. And that was worrying him. Meanwhile, various Earth organization and nations had gotten their grubby hands on whatever Communion leftover tech they could find. He recalled questioning on how that would affect the power balance between the nations... and how they would react to it.


"From what I heard, from the news, as well as from other heroes, it was a team effort, as many alien species joined the fight. Even the Grue did." He replied. "Honestly, I hoped I could get more action than what I did, during the Incursion; it was a great opportunity to test my powers, and seeing as I mostly end up going against regular robbers and street thugs, I don't really get the chance to stretch them, to put stress on them and see their limits."

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"I take your meaning. Still not enough data. Thus, the enclosure."

Bending over her experiment, Atraxia scrutinized the proceedings with great care. Narrow fingers darted across panels and swept against bars, though no obvious effect was achived with this.


Stepping back and folding her arms behind her back, Atraxia nodded soberly to her guest, her echoing, reflected voice remarking "I saw much of that on Earth. A great deal of crime, want, fear. I am not used to it like your kind, cannot...live with it. Do not expect to find it. It is part of why I left."


"I can relate to wishing you could stretch your talents. Another reason I left, I wanted to make a home, some place I could be and work without disturbing anyone else, discovering my limits..." As she trailed off, Red Moon's helmeted head completed the slow turn it had begun, looking with a thoughtful tilt at Jerry.


"I could assist in your efforts. There are open, unused spaces in the lower levels that are as reconfigurable as the rest. Shall I create a series of challenges for you to overcome? Later, of course," she raised a forestalling hand "I must run some tests first.


She turned to a wall-mounted cabinet that opened at a gesture, reaching inside to pluck out a small, smoky, closed cylinder dancing with inner lights. Extending her arm with a mix of uncanny smoothness and a jerky spider's-leg air, the Farsider explained briefly "Keep this with you, against your skin, when you use your powers. Should match your substance constancy."


"Do you...enjoy fighting?"

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