Aug 03, 2021 4:31 AM
Freedom Five Unity and an island of clones
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Right on schedule, a door hisses open and a red blur whizzes through. It performs several circuits of the lab in a fraction of a second, then skids to a halt in front of the traveling trio. The blur resolves into an athletic woman in a green jacket, white shirt, and dark pants, her arms folded, her auburn hair framing a distinct frown. Red jolts of electricity travel down her body to the ground, bright but diminishing in intensity. 

"Devra. Explain." 

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"I fixed your warp gate!"

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"Before or after breaking it?" 

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"...maybe sorta both. I met new people though! From another universe!"

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"So I see. We will talk about this later." She turns slightly to look at Henry and Gabe. "Hello. I'm Dr. Meredith Stinson. I apologize sincerely for Devra. Welcome to...ah...this universe. I trust your visit was voluntary?" 

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"It was. She landed near us and we have been helping her rebuild the device for the past while."

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"Brave of you," Dr. Stinson observes wryly. "What's your story? As a researcher, I admit I'd be fascinated to learn all I can about your home universe." In the pauses between her sentences, Dr. Stinson flickers and the alarms stop. 

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"We come from a world where crystals can do a lot of magical things, including absorbing things and then replicate them. We landed somewhere, and now we are stuck on an island that spits out clones of us and others every so often."

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"And trying your explosive ring thing to go to a new world was more interesting than looking at the sea for another day."

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"Ooooh, magical crystals I'mgoingtowantoinvestigatethose..." Flicker. She's got a tablet and a fancy-looking pen-shaped object now. Her hands blur as she takes notes, small jolts of lightning accompanying the movement. 

"It's not supposed to explode," she confides, with a wry glance at Unity. "I hope no one got hurt?"

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"We wouldn't know if it exploded and hurt anyone on that side, but we prepared for the eventuality by having the others being away and with shields up. It didn't hurt anyone when it arrived either."

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"Shields? Is that another crystal effect?" She flickers some more, zips of lightning appearing around the warp gate as it slowly ceases sparking on its own. 

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"It wasn't that dangerous..."

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"People can learn to make their own individual crystal with a magical effect of its own. Gabe's is shields. Mine is anti-magic. There are other effects. Like the translation one I am using to talk to you. But we don't have a lot of diversity given our small population."

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"It gets kinda same-y given all the clones."

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Dr. Stinson has more questions. Even after Unity fills in some of the gaps. 

Could people from her world learn to make crystals? What determines the effect they get? Do superpowers count as magic? 

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They don't know, but Henry doesn't think there is any danger in trying to figure out if a local can learn their magic. The cause for individuals' empowered crystals effects is the topic of philosophic debate and speculation that usually doesn't go anywhere, but highly accepted to be somewhat influenced by the mind behind it, with some people going as far as thinking it's a mark of character or an expression of one's desires. They haven't tested superpowers and anti-magic in case it was unsafe and left Unity stranded or hurt. But Henry is open to test it.

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"Our superpowers sometimes say something about us, but not in any coherent way. My powers just say 'I was experimenting with time particles and got lucky.' I sure would have desired speed, though, it's convenient." 

"I got mine when I was eight," Unity adds. 

Tachyon and Unity both want to experiment with antimagic and superpowers. They start with a small mouse-shaped mechanical golem in case it turns out to be irreversible. They also want to learn magic, very very much. Tachyon periodically vanishes to continue her cleanup of the warp gate. 

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He is more than willing to teach people magic, but - at the risk of making their relationship too transactional - could they figure out arrangements regarding how Henry and Gabe will support themselves and get the others from their home world first? Learning magic is something that takes months to years to master. But he can walk them through the basics in a few hours.

 

Henry will poke the mouse golem with an anti-magic shard.

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The mouse golem is unaffected. Unity looks torn between pride and disappointment. 

"Oh yes, of course, I'm sorry for getting carried away, you're just so interesting. Do you use money? I can arrange to pay you ridiculous amounts of money, being the inventor of half of modern gadgetry has its perks. You can get a lot of things here with ridiculous amounts of money, it turns out. In the meantime we can find you a nice hotel or something while we fix the portal! Or you can stay here, we have some spare housing but it's kind of cramped. I can feed you and such no problem." Being a speedster also has its perks; one flicker later, Tachyon is waving a screen in front of Henry and Gabe with a map of the local area, hotels conveniently marked as teardrop shapes. 

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Henry blinks, and decides against telling her to slow down. "Uh, whatever is safest? And we do have currency where we are from, yes."

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"Safest, but not boring." Gabe gives Henry a nudge. "And yeah, money sounds very nice. Don't be shy to be generous about it."

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