Spacer Interludes & Assemblies 20
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First meeting.



    He looks at the large group of heroes.
    "We will need a short while to make the technical adjustments, but we would be ready to go within an hour after taking possession of the ax."
    Adrian's eyes goggle under the helmet. *Excuse me?! He built a WHAT?* Fortunately, Union's mechanical voice hides Adrian's complete disbelief . "Dr...Dumas, you're saying that you've constructed a device that will act as a doorway to another _Dimension_?" even the masking of the helmet can't cover the shock of the last word. "And it will reliably work?"
    Victor turns towards Union and gives him a quick up and down look gauging his measure. "Not so much a doorway of course, but more like an apparatus that will adjust your attunement that of the aforementioned dimension. You and all your belongings will be thrust into the alternate reality. The devices generally have two uses and then the circuitry is fused. But we will only need two uses."
    "Assuming everything goes well. Better to have a backup," Aegis inserts—she can sense that a discussion of esoteric electronics might be in the offing, and now is not really the time. She has little interest in the whys and hows of these devices as long as they work the way they're supposed to; at the moment, she's interested in working out a way to actually accomplish what must be done. "We don't want to leave anyone behind, since if we pull this off they're going to be plenty angry."
    "I understand that you don't want to talk about the mechanics now, but I'd like to discuss this with you and look over the device before we actually step through." Union says that last instinctively. *Yes, I do want to see it, but if he did build it, all I'll do is impress him with my ignorance. Better prepare yourself for a new level of experience OLD man...*
    "But of course. My inventions and technology are open to any who wish to view them. I am a citizen of the world, and what I create, I do so for humanity's sake."
    Behind the tinted glass of her helmet, Bethany can't help but roll her eyes. *Fine, whatever,* she thinks to herself. *Long as we can get this job done.*
    Union continues, "We have more things to think about than the rescue attempt, however. If we are going to deal with these people again, we have to be more coordinated and more aware of each others potential. That's one." Union ticks off the second finger on his hand, the first indicating the rescue attempt itself.
    Dumas watches Union's fingers and studies the armor he is wearing. Though he never fancied the idea of creating a set of armor, he can see the obvious advantages.
    Emerald half raises his hand, "Well, you all saw what I could do in a general way yesterday. I just thought I could help out. My power, if you will, is still quite new to me, so I'm kind of following my instincts about how to use it. I can handle things as big as the ladle from yesterday," at mention of that trick everyone can see a smile form beneath his mask. "And things as big as a car, but I don't know how much more I could lift like that. When the car blew up I thought I was done for, but I guess this field is a little stronger than I thought at first."
    "For what it's worth, I thought you were a goner when the car went up too. I'm very glad that field of yours is as strong as it is—we never would have extinguished the warehouse blaze without it." Union lays his hand on his chest. "For myself, this armor is a cybernetic electromagnetic manipulator. In addition to the considerable protection it provides me, it also lets me control and redirect electromagnetic flows—I can short out electronics, redirect electricity, generate powerful shocks through conductive surfaces and move several hundred pounds of metal at a distance. I also have some small skill at electronics." *Even if I can't build a dimensional portal...*
    Dumas speaks up. "That is quite impressive Union. I should like to discuss electronic and electromagnetic theory with you at a later time if you so desire?"
    "I'm sure we'll be able to find the time after this is over, Doctor." Union returns Dumas appraising glance from a few minutes earlier, finding the European doctor's slick, polished self-confidence somewhat off-putting. *He's so sure of himself. He reminds me of Bestman...But that's hardly a fair comparison.* "I am curious, though—from the way you're talking, you sound as if you intend to accompany us on this junket. I have to warn you—the people we battled earlier today are extremely dangerous. I don't think we can bring along any normal person in clear conscience, even one with your apparent scientific skills."
    Victor regarded Union with a smile.
    "Fear not good Union. I am more than capable of taking care of myself, for I have other abilities beyond my scientific knowledge that are best not spoken of here in this open location.
    Union holds up a third finger, "And if we're going to keep doing this in the future, we need to have some form of 'party line' and group identity. The heroes of World War Two may not have needed one, but that was a different era, with a more clearly defined enemy. Already the media is trying to figure out where we came from and who we represent&3151;never mind what to call us. I don't think we want to go with any label they might ascribe, considering Jameson called us 'Showboating Buffoons' and 'Reckless Incompetents' in his editorial.
    "The general people don't know what to think of us right now, but we don't want them to start labeling us as dangerous, or showboaters like Miss Storm. This is just something we should all be thinking about—it's the lowest priority over Avenging yesterday's events and freeing those hostages." After this Union is quiet for several minutes.
    Emerald turns these new phrases over in his mind. *There's something there,* he thinks, half aloud. He shakes his head. Whatever it is he'll mull it over and figure it out later.
    Delta V answers first. "I agree that the first priority should be the rescue of those women. We can worry about P.R. later. Maybe Jameson will have a better view of us if we bring those women back safe and sound."
    "Mr. Jameson can think whatever he likes—this is still a free country, I suppose," Aegis remarks, her voice just shy of a growl.
    "Well," Captain America, hovering just off the edge of the deck, speaks up," I sure hope the things I did around town today don't get perceived that way. People I saw looked almost, I dunno, inspired. I still think a lot of them just don't know what to make of me in this costume. But the rest of us have a clean slate, as individuals and as a group. How we build our image is going to depend on how well people can trust us. Right now, all we've got is a not-so-hot showing at the waterfront and a few city blocks of cleanup. Other than the folks we saved directly, we're still a mystery."
    "Perhaps we could continue this conversation at Stark Industries before we depart on this rescue mission?" Dumas turned towards Delta V. His raincoat caught the wind of the high rise in a dramatic way.
    "If you all agree to this plan, then I will accept the ax now so that I might get back to my lab and make the appropriate configurations. Then we can either meet later tonight or sometime tomorrow to implement the plan. The sooner the better is what I would recommend. The very thought of those poor women suffering at the hands of those god-like Vikings makes my blood boil."
    "If we're agreed that we're going to go after these guys, we're going to need an airtight plan." Aegis starts pacing unconsciously, the city lights flashing green and gold highlights from her armor. "Ideally, we'll be able to reconnoiter first, see what we're going to be dealing with‹the odds were bad yesterday, and on their own ground it'll be worse. Communications are essential," she continues thinking out loud. "And we'll have to do it fast. Get in, get them, get the heck out, do whatever we can along the way to hurt them hard enough that they don't decide to come back.
    "And if we make it back," she adds with a fierce smile, "perhaps we can call ourselves the Avengers."
    "How long will it take you to do the lab work?" Emerald asks. "If we have time I'd like to grab a bite to eat."
    Dumas smiles at the younger man knowing he had just said how long it would take a few minutes ago. But with his polite European manners, he answers him.
    "Probably an hour or so once I get to the lab Emerald. I imagine we can buy you lunch at the Stark Industries cafeteria if you'd like?"
    "Mr. Stark," Emerald speaks up. "Got any room for an out of work actor?"

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