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The Grand Tour (Jeremy Clarkson not Included)

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This is a mistake, Tristan Delacroix thought glumly as he waited on the moonlit beach.  Tonight he was a slender, middle aged man, tanned to the point of leathery wrinkles.  Freedom City wasn't known for its surfing, and furthermore this was the wrong time of year for it anyway, but the disguise still brought him some comfort.  Just some guy enjoying the beach, late at night.  If only the rest of his plan was as simple.


He spent the whole day second-guessing himself.  Easy enough to think about inviting an outsider to his new lair--well, no, even that wasn't very easy--but actually following through with the idea brought the risks to the forefront of his mind and pushed all possible rewards to deep, dark corners.  Even just Bonfire, whom he trusted fairly well by this point, could cause him terrible harm.  Perhaps just inadvertently; trusting the other hero's motives wasn't the same as putting potentially his entire heroic career in Bonfire's smoky hands. 


The blog deal hasn't backfired yet, he reminded himself.  No, no, that's unfair.  It's going well.  That's probably how Rayzer heard of me, so failing all else, at least Bonfire is effective.  That guy was all the way on the West Coast!  I could probably go to space and get recognized before long.


At any rate, it was too late now.  He had already contacted his "publicist" to request a meeting, with vague details, and most dangerous of all, advised Bonfire to bring a camera.  Tristan was sure that he could pick and choose what was photographed, but would that be enough?  What if he missed something?  He imagined a fan intensely studying their computer screen for clues, and finding a loose thread that unraveled the whole tapestry he spent years creating.  Never before had his cover story felt so flimsy. 


Tristan shivered from more than the chilly air, but didn't leave the beach.  All he could do was proceed with watchful caution and trust his ally.  Time would tell if that was enough. 

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It was quite an interesting proposition. While Bonfire and Leviathan kept up some basic contact to make sure the blog didn’t suddenly air something that Leviathan didn’t fully agree to, this was, as far as Cass remembered, the first time he’d actually been invited.


He wasn’t entirely sure himself. What if this was another hacker, trying to lure him into a trap? What if it was somebody else looking for a vengeance? Cass trusted Leviathan enough to not assume it was him, but he still was rather careful about this whole meeting. Especially when the specified meeting point was at the beach. Water and Bonfire weren’t friends, at all. And people knew about that.


Bringing a camera, on the other hand, sounded intriguing. IF whatever Leviathan had planned involved a camera, then perhaps Cass could use this to his benefit, in multiple ways. Adding even a single photo of something related to Leviathan into his portfolio would increase his value drastically.


So, when it was time, Bonfire arrived at the beach. He’d decided to wear actual clothes today, a maroon and black dress shirt and some more casual pants. He was carrying a large camera bag slung over his shoulder, containing a variety of equipment, and also his laptop. Of course, figuring out who Leviathan was wasn’t all that easy. With only one person at the beach, chances were high this was the right one however, so Bonfire approached.


“Hey, am I right here?”

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Leviathan had seen Bonfire in a few different forms--human, smoke-faced, and outright fiery--and, being on edge as he was, spotted the other hero quickly.  He lifted one hand in a silent greeting.


"You're right," he agreed when Bonfire came closer.  "I thought about making it more obvious, but I didn't want to stand out.  People tend to notice giant reptiles lurking around." 


From here, he hesitated.  "Well, ahh...I was hoping to show you some things.  If you're up for a bit of a trip.  I have arrangements to keep you from getting wet, but in fair warning, my house doesn't have the most convenient location."  One arm swept out to indicate the sea behind him.  Other than the foam-bombs that Solemn's agents used, Leviathan actually hadn't witnessed Bonfire's interactions with water yet, but he assumed they weren't pleasant.  Fortunately, he could work around that.  If he could successfully transport literal tons of electronics to his lair, then surely the submarine would safeguard Bonfire too.


So long as he doesn't panic, light up, and roast me before we get to the docking bay.

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So Leviathan didn’t just own one place, but multiple? How much money did this guy have? Then again, the Riverside location looked suspiciously empty, like somebody had either just moved in, or was moving out, so perhaps that explained that part. But still, whoever he was, he certainly had the wealth.


Of course, an ally (and client) having enough money was never a problem. Where Leviathan’s house stood, on the other hand…


While he went through the potential risks of it, Bonfire tilted his head at Leviathan, which, with the smoke, looked quite strange.


“Huh… Ah, you know what, you’ve saved my life a few times already, I can risk putting it in your hands. Plus, I’m always up for travelling.  I imagine you’ve got something to transport us there? Can’t say I’ve tried it since getting my powers, but I doubt swimming is gonna do me any good.”


Wherever, there was, if Leviathan wanted to show it, it had to be something quite big. Worth the risk. His house? Did he have some fancy oil platform repurposed as a hideout?

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"You would need very good lungs to make this trip," Leviathan agreed.  He attempted a hesitant smile, but the man was plainly worried about something. 


"Just a moment, please."


He turned and waded into the dark water.  Soon he completely submerged; seconds passed, then a minute, until he returned in a larger and scaly form.  The giant lizard held his old, soaked clothes under one arm.  He remained in place for another minute without appearing to do anything, but then the waves behind him began to change their patterns.  A dome-shaped object rose from the sea.  As it came closer to the shore, Bonfire could gradually see that the sphere at the front was part of a larger whole.  It connected to a long, wide body, from which branched triangular wings to either side, like a manta ray.  Scales much like Leviathan's covered the bizarre craft; when it turned to move past its owner, Bonfire would notice its propulsion system, a cluster of long ribbon-like tails that spun rapidly to push it forward.  This brought a low buzzing noise to the night air. 


Much as it looked like some kind of weird sea creature, Leviathan revealed otherwise when he followed it to the shallows and placed one hand on its living hull.  The dome--which, closer now, Bonfire could tell was mostly transparent--pulled back like an eyelid.  Beneath it were two huge seats, one behind the other, sized to his monstrous companion, and in front of the driver's chair, what looked like a control panel made of some glossy black material. 


When the biological submarine stopped at the edge of the shore, Leviathan helped maneuver it so that Bonfire could climb inside.  "I'm...not sure if I want you to take any pictures just yet.  The lighting isn't very good, for one.  But we should discuss some things on the way down, so we don't have any misunderstandings."

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Cass’ jaw couldn’t drop in this form, but he certainly felt like if it wasn’t for the smoke, it would have. This was just … whoa. He was speechless. What was this? Just how had Leviathan managed to get access to this? At first, it was clearly biological. Some type of alien lifeform, perhaps? But then, on a closer look, it wasn’t just biological.


“Whoa. “


Unless Leviathan had somehow crammed a control station into a living being. He didn’t seem to be the type for that, if Cass’ judgement wasn’t totally off. All the while, he took a few steps around, trying to spot anything that made it more clear what this was. And then, once had found a good position, he unpacked his camera.


“Oh, the bad lighting’s just gonna help. Makes it look more mysterious, details less obvious. Terrible for a photo, but good for the story. A quick “hey, what’s this” photo, not one that’s set up professionally. Unless you have some objections to it, in which case I’ll delete these ASAP. “


After taking a few photos, all of which specifically taken in such a way to make them look hasty, and all of which just showing small parts of the outer hull, Bonfire then got closer, and entered whatever this … vehicle, probably, was.


“Whoa the second. “

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Leviathan shifted from foot to foot uncomfortably, but he didn't move to stop the photography.  "Just don't get the control panels," he requested.  Once Bonfire finished and climbed into the back seat--far too large for him, so at least he had plenty of leg room--the lizard himself followed to take the driver's spot.  The lid-like dome closed after them.  The interior of the submarine had thinner, softer scales than the armored exterior, much like leather upholstery; furthermore, if Bonfire was still and very quiet, he would feel faint, rhythmic pulses of a heart--or some comparable organs--underneath him. 


Leviathan tapped a few keys and pulled a lever that appeared to be made of ivory; the submarine slowly turned itself to face out into the Great Bay, and its propellers began to spin again.  Within a few seconds, the two heroes were moving forward and down, sea water rising over the top of the dome. 


"So..."  Leviathan gathered his courage and tried to get right to the point.  He almost wished that they had this conversation back on the beach, just in case Bonfire refused to help.  "I was thinking of clearing up some things before we get to the base.  I haven't been entirely honest with you about who I am, and I don't think I will be.  But...I assume you've noticed a few, ahh...irregularities about my identity.  To put it mildly."

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“…let’s just add a few more whoas onto that list, okay?”


At this point, Cass had so many questions. It was rude to ask, and chances were the answer would be confusing, but still. Even after spending a year as an active Hero, he’d never seen anything just like this. What was it? It was clearly biological, natural, yet also felt somewhat technical. Control panels? So it wasn’t a living being? Or was it, but only partially?


Too many questions. Cass was a bit lost in them, until Leviathan spoke again. Best not to think about the whole “being underwater” part of this all. Leviathan did a pretty good job at opening a possibility for that. What came now? Perhaps Cass would learn something more. Not too much, from how he judged the reptilian, but perhaps a hint at how he managed all of this.


“There’s certainly a whole lot of mystery surrounding you, and I assume you have a good reason for it. Secrets are … probably the most important part of our job … and you know me well enough to know I’m the best example for why that is the case. So, what is it? My lips are sealed no matter what. “

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Thinking back to how at least one of Bonfire's enemies knew far too much about his personal life, Leviathan just hoped that these secrets could stay buried a little better.


"Thanks," he said nonetheless.  He tried to get to the heart of the matter.  "I'm...not all of this.  I'm not really what I look like.  I created the transformation, and the things you'll see tonight.  I did it because all my life, this is all I've wanted.  I grew up watching these fantastic heroes, helping people and doing amazing things, and I just wanted to be a part of that so badly, but I wasn't born with the physical capabilities.  So I cheated nature and made what I needed myself.  At first I was happy with just being Leviathan, but then I started having trouble explaining it.  I'm not that unusual by Freedom City standards, but people still wonder, you know?  And I can't let them find out.  Not ever.  If people know who I really am, then I can't do this anymore.  They'll make me stop, and I don't want to stop.


"So, now I have this plan.  I think I can make a story that's plausible enough to keep the public from digging too much, but I can't implement it on my own.  I need your help.  I want to show you what I've designed, so you can give out just enough information in your blogs to help me sound reasonable without having so many specific details that your fans start picking it apart.  Like what you said earlier: sometimes blurry pictures are the best kind."

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Bonfire stayed quiet, and listened. It was quite a show of trust on Leviathan’s side to reveal this, and Cass certainly felt some emotions realizing that. He didn’t have the reputation of being the most trustworthy, but somebody like Leviathan revealing this stuff, even if just on a personal level, meant quite a bit. Meant that there was at least some trust, meant that not everybody disliked Cass because of a few things about him.


Sure, it left some questions. But that was good, probably preferable to a full reveal. This way, if anything were to happen to Bonfire, Leviathan still had some room to play with, he wouldn’t be revealed if anything went wrong. And at this point, getting tortured for information wasn’t something Cass could say was something that definitely wouldn’t happen…


But either way, once Leviathan had finished, Bonfire replied. He was a bit more quiet, clearly understanding what Leviathan had just said.


“Thanks. Really. “


A short pause, and then he actually went to speak.


“This is even more amazing, you know? All of this, one person’s creation. That’s just awesome. In the traditional meaning, even. “


“A full cover story, then? Let’s do this, should be lots of fun!”

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Kind as Bonfire's praise was, it raised new worries.


Did I already give away too much?  Can he find me, if he thinks about what kind of skill-set that my work would require?  ...No, no, surely not.  Even just in Freedom City, I'm not alone in my field.  But now he'll be able to narrow down his options, if he really wants to...


"...Yyyeah.  Thanks.  I'm, ahh, thinking that it's best if we tell people I'm not from around here.  The old 'fell in a chemical vat' bit is fine, but that would mean I was once human.  I don't want to be some mutant sewer creature either.  My idea is that Leviathan's been near Freedom City his whole life, but his ancestors came from a little further away."


He tapped a key on the control panel, and bioluminescent growths on the nose of the submarine lit up.  Their overlapping cones of blue light revealed the Great Bay's sandy bed; some fish and little crawling crabs scattered away.  Sediments continued to stir even after those locals fled, however.  Slowly, the sand and rocks rose up and to the sides, pushed by something underneath.  They appeared to be huge, unfolding plates, previously locked together under the dirt.  Now they lifted up to reveal a vertical shaft that ran down into the ground. 


"Maybe a lot further away."

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All in all, all this talking did a lot to take Cass’ thoughts off of the fact he was currently in a submarine...-y thing. Still, part of him was aware of that, and that part of him wasn’t exactly happy. This was dangerous, and he couldn’t really do anything about it. Best to just take a few deep breaths, and wait. He’d be back above the sea soon enough, right? …Unless this was another bounty hunter. A shapeshifting bounty hunter? It was a possibility, after everything that had happened.


Either way, if it came to that he’d hopefully find a way to deal with it. This sub looked like even he could operate it. He just couldn’t be caught off-guard. Enough of planning for the worst case however, it was time to get back to the matter at hand. Leviathan’s ideas sounded quite intriguing…


“Ooooh. I see. Yeah, that sounds like it should work. And explains … all of this … quite well. Now, just for clarification, and feel free to ignore this if you don’t want to disclose it, is there a nugget of “further away” in all of this? “

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"Very much."


The submarine slowed and carefully lowered down into the tunnel.  Once they were through, the hatch above folded back into place, sealing them inside a long, wide passage; the sides, lit by blue nodes similar to the "headlights" on their vehicle, were covered in scales like Leviathan's own. 


"I think it will make everything simpler if I'm supposed to be an alien.  Solves a lot of questions.  It opens up some more, too, though.  I don't want to have to regularly invent new details about my home planet, so my plan is that I, Leviathan, am the last descendant of the original crew that came to Earth.  They crashed here in ages past, when humanity couldn't have helped repair their ship even if my people established good diplomatic relationships, and so, they were stuck.  Generation after generation, they forgot more and more about the old world, and their records decayed.  I've written a few reports for my database and then reduced them to fragments, mostly just for background flavor, but for the most part, Leviathan knows very little.  Keeping it vague, like we talked about.  The fewer lies we tell, the fewer we have to remember, and the more likely this all is to work."

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Cass observed the inside of the passage with wide-eyes. Even in the ‘biz, you didn’t get to see something like this every day.  If it wasn’t for the circumstances of this all, these would make for amazing photography. Something this alien, yet this familiar, unseen to, most likely, any other person out there? That would bring some serious attention with it.


Which, the more he thought about it, probably wasn’t the best of things. Especially with Beacon, his own company, up and running. Still, the fascination was there. Fortunately, Leviathan had stuff to say, so Cass’ mind didn’t end up floating off into the fascination.


“Oh, I like that. You’ve already put a lot of thought into this. I don’t see any direct issues with that. Vague, easy to explain and mysterious enough to create some interest. Actually that last part may be an issue. Why’d they never communicate if they were stuck here? “


“Might be something to think about so you have a response should it ever come up. I doubt it though, and even if it does, “I don’t know” probably works. Will just have to make sure no companies with an interest in aliens try to dissect you or your place here. “

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"Communicate with our 'home planet,' or with modern humans?  Well, for the first one, I've made some old scrap reports about sending out distress calls, and receiving no response.  Also some references to an ancient problem or disaster back at home.  All vague, as I said, but I've tried to create the impression that I may very well be the last of my kind, on this world or any other.  We could try to polish that, if you're interested.  At least maybe come up with a cool name for an event that drove the ancient Leviathans away from their old planet.  'The Cataclysm,' or something better and a lot more original.


"Or, if you mean to ask why I'm the first to venture out somewhat-publicly, then it's probably because of loneliness.  I'm all that's left, I have no way home, and I'm tired of hiding.  If I grew up in this ship, all alone, watching the surface world with my computers on the bridge--I'll show you those soon--then I think it makes sense.  My ancestors were cautious and didn't expect good reception from the locals; given human history, I think that's a reasonable conclusion to reach.  Just...so long as we don't think too hard about why giant lizards with space-tech were afraid of some little hairless apes.  Maybe they were pacifists--a lesson that clearly didn't settle in with me, if we go that route."


As the submarine descended further, Bonfire could barely see from their domed windows that below them was another strange hatch of folded bone-plates.  It opened too, like the entryway above, and let them into a new room, currently flooded.  This one was much wider, yet not so tall.  The same scales covered all the walls and floor, but furthermore, now they could see some unusual decorations.  It appeared that masses of alien bamboo ringed the perimeter, from ceiling to ground.  Instead of the long green shoots that an Earthling would know, these clusters were much more tangled and disorderly, like briar patches without the thorns, and all colored a faint orange.  Raised rings on the stalks gave them a segmented look, much like regular bamboo, and from these centerpoints, new branches also split off. 


Whatever they were, the plants didn't seem to mind the flooding.  Bonfire surely felt differently, so he might be happy to see that water levels were lowering in this room, quickly too, in spite of no apparent drains. 

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All of that was good to hear. Leviathan had put a lot of thought into all of this, probably had enough time to. It all made sense, it was all reasonable enough that most people would (hopefully) accept it. Good, good. Made Cass’ job easier too. He had something to work off of, and it was vague enough that he could go “uh, maybe this, maybe that? No idea.” Should it come down to it.


“Oh, I like that. Yeah, those should all work just fine. Probably don’t even need much more unless you somehow end up talking to some curious reporter. Somehow. Heck, if you want to, we can “fake” some logs that somehow find their way to me, maybe just parts at a time from a mysterious source, to make it all look a bit more dramatic. Add in a bit of drama into your backstory, I guess. Unless you want to avoid any sort of attention. “


And then Cass looked outside again. This was just blowing his mind, and whenever he thought it’d stop, there was something new. These plants, also part of the base. And the fact that they (or something else in the room) worked as an airlock. Which meant that there was enough air down here, that was good.  

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"I can give you some of the files," Leviathan agreed.  "I made them to be seen, to back up my story.  I mean, attention is the whole point of this.  I don't want to keep hiding.  The real truth, sure, but...I guess I should just admit that I'm vain.  I want Leviathan to be at least kind of famous, so long as it doesn't ruin my normal life.  It's hard to say it out loud, but this is one of the perks of being a hero, right?  For people to know about you, and hopefully like what you've done."


Seemingly embarrassed now, the lizard waited while the water continued to drain, until their submarine at last settled down in a basin in the floor.  Leviathan popped the hatch, climbed out, and helped Bonfire follow.  Now that he stood outside, Bonfire would more clearly see the pool containing the submarine, and five others like it--all empty--arranged in a hexagon pattern around the edges of the area.  Inward from the pools was a huge circular platform in the center, a little darker than the surrounding scales.  At its rim, the dais had a narrow podium about as tall as Leviathan's naval (if he had one, which he clearly didn't). 


"That's the elevator," he explained with a gesture toward the platform.  "And this is the docking bay.  Top floor of the ship."

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Ah, so that was his plan. Cass hadn’t quite picked up on that one fully just yet, but now it made sense. And it would, fortunately, only take minor adjustments to what he’d already been considering. Besides, Leviathan was speaking the truth. Being recognized. Being asked to take a photo when walking down the street. Not getting shot at at crime scenes. It certainly had its perks.


“Oh, yeah. It has a lot of benefits, and I can certainly see how you’d benefit from it. How many paranoid officers have tried to put bullets into you recently? I still have some going through me occasionally, even if they’re starting to send out the memo to not shoot the talking cloud. “


“And I think you won’t have to worry about the “Normal” life one too much. I doubt you’ll have a bunch of mercenaries kick in your door and try to abduct you down here. Has happened one time more than I’d like to me so far, I’d relocate if I could afford it. Anyways, so long as you cover your tracks, and I can tell you do that, it shouldn’t be an issue.  


By now, he’d gotten out of the sub, specifically choosing to not use his powers at all, and even switching back to his human face. This stuff probably wasn’t flammable considering it was all scales surrounded by water. But Cass really didn’t want to find out the hard way.


“Lots of capacity. How many people could you even fit down here? Works for the cover story, yeah, but how did you even… Actually, I never asked, let’s see how many floors this ship has, then?”

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"It's a big place," Leviathan agreed.  "I wasn't completely sure how large the crew list should realistically be for this type of ship, but I built enough rooms down in the hab-blocks for about three hundred people.  I've got about everything except for a dining hall, and that's anywhere you want it to be."


He walked to a wall of the docking bay, took hold of a stem of the tangled orange bamboo, and broke it off.  Using his blunt claws, Leviathan cracked open the plant along its length and pulled it in half.  The two resulting pieces each had a core of darker orange fluff, almost like cotton candy.


"This is kind of a pick-me-up food.  I thought it could be useful for ancient scouting parties, either leaving or returning home.  It's got stimulants, proteins, and a long list of other stuff.  Half coffee, half energy shake, basically.  The shoots down near the floor are weaker and get more concentrated higher up.  I won't get much out of this piece, but the top stalks have far too much caffeine for a normal human."


He offered the treat--its taste a little bitter, like unsweetened dark chocolate--to Bonfire, who might very well have a higher caffeine tolerance than the beast himself.

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“You had me at coffee.”


Cass took the stem, sticking it in his mouth and sucking on it like on a popsicle before biting off a piece. It was a bit like chocolate, true, but not quite. Something alien to it, something incredible. Something that told him that just with this stuff, he could earn so much money from all kinds of people. Perhaps it was something to think about in the future, but not now. That would be a bit rude, and it wasn’t the reason behind all this.


“Yup. This is pretty great. And you could probably make some interesting coffee out of it. I’ll definitely have to try the top stalks at some point. But … probably not in here. “


Cass took a better look around the room. So all these plants were edible. And the craft…base..whatever was a lot larger than he’d assumed. Three-hundred Leviathan-size people. Probably enough to fit a human village, and even self-sustaining. However his ally had done it, this was quite the miracle. And if this was just the docking bay, Cass couldn’t wait to see some of the other parts.

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Leviathan chewed on his own snack while leading Bonfire to the elevator at the room's center.  He tapped some keys on the podium's control panel--the letters were twisted and wound around one another, but if Bonfire took the time to stare, then some of them might start to look vaguely familiar.  However, the fiery hero would probably focus more on the rush of water above them.  Once the elevator began its descent, a translucent membrane grew from the edges of the new hole in the docking bay floor.  It spread inward until it connected to itself, sealing the gap, just in time to hold back the waves.  Bonfire could watch from underneath as the bay flooded again; presumably, the sight was less comforting to him than to Leviathan.


"Next, we'll see the bridge," he promised.  But then he reached for the podium, realizing something.  "No, wait--we'll go there next.  I almost forgot about this room; I just renovated it after our last adventure."


The elevator dropped another floor before smoothly stopping.  Four intersecting hallways led in different directions; Leviathan chose one and brought Bonfire to another round, domed room, much like the docking bay.  Golden ivy, heavy with fruit, drooped from the ceiling.  Something more familiar--and less pleasant--stood near the wall: Solemn's armor, posed in place so lifelike that it might've been a statue of the hacker himself.  His rifle was on an ivory stand next to the mannequin. 


"I decided to make a trophy room.  It's kind of pathetic now, but I'll fill it up as time goes on."

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“You call it pathetic, I call it a great opportunity. Really makes you want to go out there and fight some crime just so you can fill it up. Or at least, it does for me. I’ll give you a call if I stumble across a bunch of goodies and don’t leave them behind, I suppose. “


Bonfire seemed pretty upbeat about the entire thing. Sure, the guy who wore that armor had tried to kill him, and almost succeeded, but it also brought up good memories. It had been one of the most interesting and action-packed days of Cass’ life. And that was a good thing. And while he couldn’t do one himself, he didn’t have nearly enough space, he really enjoyed the idea of a trophy room. It had something savage about it, taking your defeated enemy’s equipment. Which, at least to him, only made it ever the cooler.


Sure, he understood that, from a legal standpoint, it wasn’t the best idea. And that it probably made a lot of people more angry, and didn’t do great things for anybody who did it’s rep. But Leviathan could do it in a way nobody directly knew. And things disappeared all the time during super-fights, anyways. Besides, with all the lighting and the architecture, it was just too damn cool to care about those.


“And just out of curiosity, what’s up with the fruit … well, I assume it’s fruit … up there? Also edible, or just decorative?”

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"Oh, if something looks edible here, then it probably is.  I've got a few exceptions floating around, but we'll get into those lower down.  These are fine."


Leviathan reached up and plucked one of the bright treats, then handed it down to Bonfire.  The soft outer skin was slightly tangy, while the inner pulp tasted like citrus, not far off from earthly oranges.  When he got to the center, he'd find no seeds; except for perhaps the stem, the entire product could be eaten in a big greedy bite.


Which is exactly what Leviathan did with his own piece.  He swallowed and went back to their original topic: "Anyway, glad you like the room.  I had to strip out the bugs from Solemn's stuff first, of course.  I expected some recording devices or transmitters, probably to monitor the fight for him to study and improve his designs later, but he had more in there than I anticipated.  I'm actually not sure what to make of it.  Maybe he was worried that one of his goons might grab the armor and take it out for a test run."

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“Huh. No idea. Making sure his goons won’t grab it and dash is probably a good bet, yeah. Strikes me as the kind of person who’d have a few failsafes in place for that stuff. Still … how big a bug are we talking here? Because it doesn’t really look like that thing has a lot of space to use, so if he’d used amounts of it on just tracking, that’d mean he was serious about this. And that’d bring up the question of why…”


And that’s when it struck Cass. This wasn’t over yet. Sure, Solemn was locked behind bars. But if he’d prepared as well as it sounded like, he had some plans. Some things were still to come. This wouldn’t be somebody that just disappeared. This’d come back to strike again some more… Great.


“He probably has plans. I doubt that was the last we’ve seen of him. Still, not much use in worrying about that if we don’t know anything about it beyond some suspicions. So, you mentioned the bridge? “

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"Hrmm.  ...Yes, the bridge.  Back this way."


Leviathan continued to think about what Bonfire said as they returned to the elevator, then went down another level to a much larger room.  The ceiling stretched high above them; given its colorful design, Bonfire would probably notice it first, as the mobile platform gently descended past it.  He would see a vast arrangement of flowers across this roof, so vibrantly bright, and when they landed, the smells were wonderful. 


At the edge of the landed elevator was a pathway, its scales colored a lighter shade of green.  This road lifted up and made a tall spiral in the middle of the room.  Smaller platforms branched off of the tower; these had huge, egg-like chairs and desks made of ivory, which supported beetle-black computer terminals.  As they climbed the path, Bonfire would see the personal touches at each station; most had one or two different plants growing directly from the furniture.


"I thought it would be cool to let the old officers pick their favorite snacks and have them here on-hand.  Just, you know, as a background touch.  This one at the top is mine, the captain's station."


It was positively enormous, right at the peak of the spire.  In addition to a padded chair that was spacious even by Leviathan's standards, he also had a much more elaborate electronics system than the lesser platforms.  Multiple keyboards were arranged in a semi-circle in front of the throne, and above and behind those was a monitor bigger than the reptile himself. 


He plucked an orange, disk-shaped fruit, like a doughnut, and ate it while Bonfire took in the scene, looking quite pleased with himself. 

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