Autor Thema: Dr. Thomas A. Richards Reloaded  (Gelesen 8774 mal)

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Offline DAOGA

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Re: Dr. Thomas A. Richards Reloaded
« Antwort #30 am: 27. Februar 2014, 17:07:26 Uhr »
Tom could feel his twin approaching without even seeing him, but the others had to wait for two more minutes until they could watch Firebird turn up outside the window. They had a bit trouble keeping him in sight because he was using his special sort of camouflage again. But before he penetrated the window once again - he´d have this and the window in his office exchanged after this, the general thought since there was no knowing what kind of damage the penetration did to the material, like if it was still bullet-proof after that - he doffed the camouflage. So maybe he wasn´t able to do both at the same time, or maybe he could but it surely would have then damaged the glass. In any case, the return to his normal flaming appearance outside the building had lasted no longer than about a second before he entered meaning that he had slipped in probably quite unnoticed by any casual bystander outside.
Their visitors and Dr. Keller with his crew gulped and grew visibly nervous when the superhero suddenly hovered close to them in all his blazing glory and almost inhumanly cool expression. They couldn´t understand why suddenly the others present more or less grinned at them instead of showing awe and respect in the presence of the superbeing - all save the general himself who stayed emotionless as was his habit.
"Is everything ready?" Firebird asked, after greeting them all with a curt nod.
More grinning all around as Dr. Keller stumbled over his own tongue trying to get an answer out.
"I think everything´s prepared as good as our Pauls could wish for," Tom helped him out. "So, let´s head for the lab, shall we?"
They filed out of the room. Firebird took the stairways not to make the lift going crazy with his strong energetical output, accompanied by Tom who took the little freedom of levitating himself down the stairs instead of walking. Maybe they also used the few moments of privacy to exchange news about what had happened in the last two days.
When they met with the others again including Mrs. Baker who had recovered from her experience and caught up with them in the basement, once again Tom marveled about the speed at which news in this building traveled. Because an unusually high number of Federal Agents seemed to be on their way in urgent business at the lab floor right now, all of them coming to a sudden stop and gawking at their group and especially, of course, at Firebird, until the stern gaze of their boss made them scram.
As promised, Dr. Keller and his assistants had prepared the room they would be using. Atmospheric humidity, temperature, contents of carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen and rare gases in the small isolated room with the huge windows made from bullet- and gasproof security glass had been changed to the values the Pauls thought best for that they were about to do, a few additionally organic substances they had thought would simplify the deed were prepared in liquid or powdery form on metallic platters. 
"We didn´t have all that when we created our bodies on Mount Hawthorne. It´s fine," one Forrester answered when Dr. Keller asked them if his lab crew had gotten it right, or if they had other wishes before they would begin. "I don´t think we could do better if we´re creating a human body. We have done a few others that have been much more difficult to create in our space training," the other Paul added, "those would be a real challenge. But we don´t have the genetic matrices for them with us, so it´s no use to ask us later to try and recreate them."
 "Genetic matrices?" Dr. Keller asked with interest. The others listened closely, quite curious what alien knowledge the Pauls would spill this time.
"Our mothership had a lot of them in its data bases, genetic samples taken from a lot of different worlds. But the ship will be many lightyears away by now. If somebody from our crew has to land on a planet and has to create a host body for itself, it´s easier and more safely to chose from what this world can provide instead of introducing an alien kind."
"That means, you can use alien bodies too? I mean, bodies that are alien to our kind as much as to yours?" the doctor asked, fascinated.
"Certainly, Dr. Keller. We trained such things in our version of Starfleet Academy," Paul Number One said proudly, making them all smile with his fitting Star Trek reference.
"But we´ll do that only if we´re in need of a body on a world that can support it but doesn´t house other lifeforms. We don´t want to contaminate a world with things that don´t belong there, you know," Paul Number Two added.
+Here+ Fox reacted to that comment with an audible snorting.
"You better lie down, Fox, with that cold of yours, "Tom couldn´t restrain himself from immediately cracking another joke, to be met by a truly killing glance from the agent and another round of grinning from the others. 
"So, let´s go!" They entered the small isolated chamber through the safety airlock, the two Pauls, Tom and Firebird and Scott. The air in the room wasn´t so different in composition that it would harm them. Maybe the slightly higher rate of oxygen made them feel a bit light-headed, but since they all save Scott were well trained they were able to cope with that. The higher temperature and humidity made them soon break out in sweat, but again, they could live with that. Especially since it wouldn´t take that long --
Everybody else had to stay outside, to watch either through the window or on the monitors fed by one of the many cameras which were pointed right now at the table standing in the center of the small room where they would do their work.
"It´s warm in here, that´s nice, so the clone won´t suffer from coldness,'" one of the Pauls commented. "I remember, on Mount Hawthorne I was almost frozen solid when I donned Forrester´s clothes." "And it took me long to get used to Forrester´s shoes. My body is an identical clone of his, but his shoe size seemed to be smaller somehow. My feet really hurt in the beginning," the other Paul added in innocently honesty, so they both looked puzzled when they heard the snickering of their audience outside. The intercom was working two-sided so they could communicate both ways without delay. As long as Firebird still retained his superhuman abilities there was no use to cut them off from the outside anyway, in case Wade and his men had something like that in mind.
"The discrepancies between the size of footwear and the feet that actually get stuffed in there is one of the still unsolved mysteries of mankind," Firebird patiently explained to the Pauls. He still wore his cool no-nonsense expression, but the telepaths in the small room could feel that he was amused. "But don´t ask Us about it. We never abided by such nonsense."
Dr. Keller and the others outside understood that they were joking so hard to work off some of the excitement.
"Now, let´s go to work." They sat down on the chairs surrounding the worktable. The audience noticed that this time they didn´t take each other´s hands. "Since we have no non-user here, we don´t need to create a circle in body. We are close enough to each other that we can do without," Tom said aloud so the microphones would catch it, remembering that Wade and his men and especially Dr. Keller and his crew wanted to learn about the process. Since they were no telepaths, he had to give on the information verbally.
"Our Pauls will now take the provided raw materials, including water and gasses from the air in here, to create a new human body. Since neither my twin nor I are trained in cloning a whole body from scrap, our only job is to provide energy, in any amount and form they´ll need. They will take the lead and tell us to what to do with it. I think it´s the best if Scott connects with me, not to disturb the Pauls with questions while they´re busy. I will get what they´re doing and give it on to him by telepathy. Firebird will work with us in the beginning, but towards the end, when the clone is nearing completion, he will lose consciousness. Since he will also lose his concealing fields this won´t be a pretty sight, so please have the sick bags ready, ladies and gentlemen." He grinned at their audience again. "And then we´ll have to work really quick to transfer his mind into its new housing before his old form dies and his soul can disappear into the happy afterlife. So, if you please, save all your questions that may pop up for later, because in the next half hour we can´t have any disturbances. And now, I will provide the needed genetic matrix. No, sorry, I won´t take spit. I don´t think my twin would be thrilled about having a man-sized caries bacteria for a body --" While everybody else that idea funny, Tom activated his matrix. It emitted a weak blue shine but seemed to do nothing at all, until Tom opened his mouth and something like a single small red pearl floated out. It was a drop of his blood, extracted from the inside of his body by the powers of his matrix which also held it in mid-air, protected from air and gravity by a tiny force-field around it. He commanded it towards the worktable with the platterns.
"Pauls, please begin," he said.
« Letzte Änderung: 27. Februar 2014, 17:56:56 Uhr von DAOGA »

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Re: Dr. Thomas A. Richards Reloaded
« Antwort #31 am: 26. März 2014, 12:54:20 Uhr »
The spheres of both Starmen came to life, filling the small chamber with their blue light. Tom and Firebird also activated the full powers of their matrices, still dormant but ready for getting taken and used by the Starmen, and suddenly the humid air in the small room seemed to be crackling with raw, barely controlled energy, like the very center of a raging electric storm. Tom had warned Dr. Keller´s team about the danger of equipment inside the chamber overloading from the energetically onslaught, and they had secured or removed as much as they could, but still, there were first losses now. Cameras and mikes went offline, when their sensible inner workings fritzed out, and even the watchers outside the isolated chamber could feel their hair standing on end from the static charge. Tom with his long hair looked like a bizarre feather duster, every single hair of his trying to get away from the others, but neither he nor his crew cared right now, they were busy concentrating on their job.
The single drop of blood which hovered shortly above the table started to grow. Flashes of blue lightning seemed to constantly go around it, first tiny ones, but they grew together with the growing red orb. With astounding speed it continued to grow while the raw materials on the platterns suddenly disappeared, maybe carried away by a sudden movement of the air or dissolved by interaction with the electrostatic charge. What had been first a single drop of blood soon reached the size of a match ball, the size of a pumpkin - then suddenly it started to lose its red color which faded away to a lighter tone, first  a light brown and then more like skin - and it also lost its almost round form and took on a distinct shape, that of a child, maybe eight or ten years old, curled up into a fetal position, and still enveloped into a constantly moving net of lightning. The red stuff around it that the onlookers realized to be some kind of uterus tissue simply disappeared, either sucked up by the still growing body or melted away by the blue flashes that flickered around it, controlling and stimulating and feeding the growth. And what grew there was now the naked form of a male, blond-haired youth, still hovering above table, still held by the energies Tom provided --
Suddenly one of the lights which fed the brightness in the chamber went out. The image of Firebird, unchanged until then, disappeared in the same instant, and something - a something it was, unrecognizably burned and mutilated and spreading a horrible smell of roasted and burned meat - collapsed to the floor. While the others simply didn´t seem to notice, not even Scott who fortunately was too deep in telepathic rapport to notice consciously much outside said rapport, the poor, wretched thing on the floor twitched for a last time - and died.
In this very second a strange high-pitched singing noise was heard in and outside the chamber, lasting no longer than a second but strong enough to make some pieces of glass in the lab shatter. And around the dead... thing ... something like a weakly blue-glowing mist appeared for a second and then slowly dissipated.
“Aw, too bad,” Tom commented aloud. Both his matrix and the aliens´ spheres had flashed even more brightly and blinding for a moment when the tone rang and then lost all their glow, Tom´s matrix taking on a dull gray-blue tone and the Algeiban spheres suddenly looking gray and eroded, until Tom and the Pauls brought them back online with stern thought orders.
The clone, no longer a youth but maybe in his early twenties now, had fallen on the table when the matrices suddenly had lost their juice and the force-field couldn´t hold it in mid-air any longer, making the emptied platterns on the table clattering when it hit. But since it seemed to be finished, a small fall like this couldn´t damage it. All three of the workers held their re-activate matrices ready, but they didn´t look as if they wanted to return to their work, to make the clone older still.
“What happened?” they heard the voice of Dr. Keller through one of the loudspeakers that still worked.
“His matrix died together with his old body. Too bad, I hoped it wouldn´t come to this. Our matrices felt the backleash of it dying and tried to do the same in response. But since they´re bound to us we could prevent that from happening. We felt it, though, and it didn´t feel nice. Luckily for us all it happened too fast to damage the clone. Well, in the flesh at least. What it did to his mind, especially the part that´s able to interact with matrices, is still to be seen. And now - let´s see if we were successful --”
He had gotten up and now went to the table with a single wide step. The clone was lying there, motionless, eyes closed, but his breast was moving with slow breathing movements, and Tom could see and feel the slight beats of his steady pulse. He looked for damages the short plummet could have done to the limp body, first visually, then, carefully, he touched it.

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Re: Dr. Thomas A. Richards Reloaded
« Antwort #32 am: 8. April 2014, 13:50:36 Uhr »
“Move it or lose it, buster!”  he suddenly heard. His own voice, or what his voice must have sounded like to others (since nobody can hear one´s own voice the same way as others do, besides with the help of a recording device, thanks to bone and tissue of the skull that distort the sound on the way between throat and ears), but it was coming from the body before him and a bit raw maybe, since it had never been used before.
The clone opened his eyes, coughed and blinked, blended by the brightness of the neon lights that met these eyes for the very first time. What was meant as a grin turned to a grimace. His hands started to move, upwards to shield his eyes from the light.   
“Here you go,” Tom made helpfully and handed him the shades Scott had held ready, after he had helped his clone to sit up.
“Place your hands somewhere else, will you?” the twin said instead of a thankyou. “Somebody could think we´re gay.”
His own hands went further upwards, felt the hair that was of average length, not grown to a long horsetail like his other version wore. “If you had made me bald I´d kill you now.”
Because that was one of the little not-too-honest suggestions Tom had made to the Pauls while they had worked on the clone. He just couldn´t leave a poor joke alone, just as Wylie had said before.
“Did it work? Are you - you?”
“Well, I´m no longer over there,” the clone said, pointing to the place where his old shell was lying on the floor, frantically ignored by the others, at least for its sight if not for the smell which was impossible to block out. “Now I just can´t imagine I´ve lived inside that hideous thing for so long ---“
Tom turned towards the window and smiled reassuringly at the worried looking faces there. “That unsocially behavior of his is okay,” he told them. “I would react the same way if I was him. We just aren´t a morning person.”
Meanwhile, the new Tom Richards looked at the others of the crew that had worked on him and now admired their creation. One of the Pauls reached out for him, and this time the clone didn´t complain, knowing that the touch would tell the Starmen if everything was okay with him or if they needed to do last adjustments. But this Paul couldn´t find any fault. So he nodded as the clone swung his legs over the edge of the table and tried to stand. He didn´t look bad at all, a young man of about twenty-five, blond and with a fair face, tall and slender and well-built if maybe less brawny than his twin because of his lack in training. Of course, save for the shades he was butt-naked, which especially Dr. Kellers female lab assistant noted with undivided interest.
“We decided to stop the aging process sooner, so he´s now younger than me. In the biological sense, not in anything else. He´s now about twenty-five, twenty fictionally years younger than his old self. I don´t know what his aging pace will be, but he´ll probably age faster now than me, without all those protections I´m wearing,” Tom the elder told their audience.  “That reads you probably won´t live for another millennium,” he then turned to his twin.
“As long as I don´t age a lot faster and look like my own granddad coming Christmas, it will be okay,” the newborn Tom Richards sighed.
“I will see to it that this doesn´t happen,” +here+ Paul Forrester promised him, smiling about the idea of an ages-old looking Tom.
Since it seemed to be all over, Dr. Keller hurried now into the chamber. He carried a bundle of threads he´d yesterday sent out Mrs. Behmena to buy, fabric and slippers of the softest kind to accomodate the still tender skin of the clone. She had even given thought to the proper color scheme and bought a set in blue, since blue was always fitting for a not-too-little newborn baby boy. Dr. Keller wore a surgical mask but almost shrank back outside when the air in the chamber hit him, a piercing mix of ozone created by the energies at work here and of the smell of the dead body that seemed intent on making good now and at once for the decay denied to it so long.
“Fresh air! Now, and I mean it!” he immediately ordered his assistants. Obiently they switched the ventilation of the chamber on hyperdrive. While the new Tom donned the clothing, the other one concentrated upon what was lying on the floor and still spread that horrible odor. Dr. Keller who was used to gory sights took a look too, knowing that he would get a lot of chances later to examine the new and better-looking version. But the cadaver really seemed to be in a hurry now to dissolve into its ultimate elements,  it already turned to gray dust in some parts...       
...until Dr. Keller got it when he noticed the weak blue flashing coming from Tom´s cane.         
“What are you doing? Stop that at once! General, he´s destroying the specimen! Please, sir, stop him!”
“No can do, I´m afraid.” Tom answered, not in the slightest intent on stopping the destruction. “Experience taught us that things and especially life forms tainted with matrix energy gone bad are extremely dangerous. This thing is now without a human soul, but it might well be able to spawn its own army of darkness if it was allowed to exist on, even in an extra protected lab. And I won´t have you or somebody else with access to said lab going all George Romero on your neighborhood, if you understand what I´m saying.”
“He´s referring to the movie “Night of the Living Dead”, one of the Wylies outside translated for their audience. “He´s afraid it might produce zombies if it´s allowed to exist on.”
Wade frowned. “Is that possible?”
“With him, anything is possible. He´s seen too much in his life to rule out any possibility. So he won´t take chances here.” the same Wylie retorted. 
“A danger recognized is a danger eliminated,” Richards agreed while watching the very last remains of the body turning into a small heap of gray dust.
“Well, with that it´s settled. Nobody can abuse it now.”
One advantage the destructive action had at least. The smell slowly began to subside after that.
“What about contamination?” Dr. Keller asked Tom the elder, just to get his opinion. The man with the ponytail friendly grinned back at him. “Since my twin is a perfect copy of me now and I eliminated all remaining matrix powers in the corpse the only source of contamination that´s still left would be myself. The bodies of the Forresters are fully human anyway. Well, save for a few alterations we´ve already discussed yesterday. You´ve got my blood sample, so you tell me if you´ve found something dangerous in it.”
“It was... unusual in some ways,” Dr. Keller revealed to him. “There seemed to have been contents that had dissolved by the time I had the samples under my microskope. Can you make sense of that?”
“Yes, of course. I had always guessed that the dragon factory I told you about had more than a foothold in my body, as much as it has in my dragon´s body. The dissolving of said footholds as soon as they leave my living, breathing body is a sure sign. But since those things are programmed to die and dissolve as soon as they separate from me they can´t become a threat to you or anything else.”
“But the same factory that programmed them could also easily reprogram them. Have you ever thought of that?”
“Yes, of course. You seem to forget how old I am. You don´t live that long if you´re not chronically suspicious. But I keep telling myself that all those things, the dragons and the whole factory, got created for one single reason: To fight the same extradimensional powers we´ve fought the day before yesterday. If a reprogramming that remakes me into a cold-blooded killing machine is part of that, then I just hope I´ll explode into the face of our extradimensional enemy. Or that somebody will be with me then to point me into the right direction.” He was earnest when he said that, and Dr. Keller was willing to believe him. So, that´s why Richards was so eagerly making nice with Federal agents. He had learned never to trust completely in somebody, especially not in himself with all his tremendous powers, and wanted to have somebody around who was able to stop him if he should ever come too close to the edge. Good to know, the scientist thought, that Richards seemed to have his god complex under control. But, maybe, Firebird´s fate proved a warning example to him --
« Letzte Änderung: 8. April 2014, 13:56:44 Uhr von DAOGA »

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Re: Dr. Thomas A. Richards Reloaded
« Antwort #33 am: 28. April 2014, 18:27:59 Uhr »
Since it seemed to be safe, the two Toms and the others were allowed to leave the small chamber that definitely needed a cleansing after that, the dust and slowly dissolving smell of the destroyed body still being in there. They changed over into the normal lab where Dr. Keller had anything prepared for the blood transfusion the newborn Tom needed. Both versions laid down on the gurneys so Dr. Keller and the assistants could work on them, eagerly watched by the rest of their audience.
“Fine, now he has to stop yakking for a few minutes. What a relief,” +other+ Wylie grinned, knowing that the needed flow of blood had to go the way through elder Tom´s mouth again.
“Don´t crow too soon,” he suddenly heard said man´s voice in his mind, not with his ears, and realized that the blue light from Tom´s cane would not only direct the blood into the flexible tube which transferred it on into the clone´s body but also amplified Tom´s telepathic abilities sufficiently to send his thoughts out to others, non-telepaths included.
Tom the younger twitched visibly when Dr. Keller stuck the cannula into his arm and grimaced with pain. “I´m afraid you´ll have to get used to that,” they all heard Tom the elder remind him telepathically. The blood was already coming from his side, since it would take a few seconds to travel the short distance between both Toms. But to make sure he wouldn´t have to stay silent too long, in words if not thoughts, Tom increased the bloodstream coming from him, filling an intermediary bottle with the needed amount of blood rather quickly so that he at least would be finished soon and could close his mouth which already started to feel dry. Being a doctor himself and knowing his body well he knew he could take such a loss of blood without passing out.
“Doesn´t mean I have to like it,” the clone answered. He still sounded grouchy, which made Dr. Keller wonder if he should later check the clone´s brain structure and chemistry for aberrations.
“As soon as we know that he´s developed an immune system, I´ll see to it that he´ll get the needed inoculations,” he said aloud.
“No way!” +here+ Tom immediately fretted. “I´m a doctor of medicine myself, so I can do that!”
“As if we ever cared about inoculations for ourselves,” they all heard elder Tom´s amused comment. But the long-haired version knew that his other self simply didn´t trust Dr. Keller. There was a slim but realistic possibility that the agent would use on him no vaccine but a long-term toxin to which only the Agency could provide the regularly dose of antidote, to keep him on their short leash forever on the general´s orders. Intelligence agencies did such things, they both knew well. 
“You better remember that you´re a Level Five no longer. Meaning there´s no way to clean yourself if you catch poison or bugs of some kind.” +other+ Tom warned in a telepathic message restricted to his +here+ version.
 “Yes, it´s too bad, me being a Level Five no longer.” the new-born twin answered aloud.“Well, I still have a weak Level Two stashed away. That´ll have to suffice until I´m getting another Five.”
“This also means that he´s done with superhero-ing for a while,” his other self translated for the others. “With a Level Two you can´t do much.” He was soon done with donating blood, but for his twin it would still take some time until his body had absorbed it all and he could get disconnected from the tubes.
“You know you´re in custody of the FSA from now on?” Wade asked +his+ Tom, using the moment of confessed weakness.
Both versions of Tom grinned at the general. “Forrester and son would do fine with that, but if he has to stay here too, you´ll soon find him so annoying that you will kick him out all by yourself,” the long-haired version from the other dimension said before his smirking twin could express his feelings about getting more chance to mess up the Agency. “So you better agree on another accomodation right now instead of prematurely making promises you wouldn´t keep anyway. - Do you still have your mansion? And did you buy that hospital?” he then turned to his other self.
“Aw, you´re no fun. But yes, and yes. The hospital, of course! Just when I wanted to re-name it and go to work there it happened... it had completely slipped from my mind.” 
Tom nodded. “In our dimension Paul and his family are staying with me at the mansion if they aren´t living in their own appartment I bought for them in a secured building not far from the hospital. Those will be the best places for you and them to be in the future. I´ll give you details on the new hospital staff you should hire and anything else. The general will send his agents to keep an eye on you all, and everybody´s happy. It worked out quite well in my dimension, I don´t see why it won´t in this one. You still have your old connections?”
The ex-superhero nodded. “They´ll be a bit dusty by now, but it will suffice. Larry will be glad to hear of me. He was very offended when I decided to cut our bonds in favor of his safety.”
“Larry?” The general proved overly curious.
“His once and future bodyguard, Larry Kiromoto. We took him over from a Japanese triad boss, and he´s proved loyal to the death since then. But somebody as hated and hounded as a superhero can´t afford to have friends. Not even such experienced ones in the ways of fighting and hiding as Larry.”
“I -- understand. You want to slip back into your normal human life in silence.”
“Firebird might still make an appearance now and then in emergencies. But he´ll no longer hang over your heads day and night. His future performances will be more low-keyed, if you get what I mean.”
“My superiors will love to hear that.” And the Secretaries and the other members of the government nodded approvingly.
“Low-keyed? Me?” the newborn “here” Tom went at his other self mockingly, face suddenly stiff and motionless. “For this offence I demand satisfaction, sir!”
“You may name the place and time, sir!”  his opposite answered in the same formal way and cool tone and the perfect Oxford-accent of an British gentleman. Then they suddenly both burst out with laughter.
Two Foxes sighed audibly. “It´s high time to get lost, before he´s going totally bonkers,” the +other+ one said. 
“And before he spreads the rest of his madness to our version,” +here+ Fox added. “Now I understand why they say madness is hereditarily, and they´re right.”
“You can call yourself lucky his younger, time-traveling self from the future isn´t here too. Three of his kind in one place - I just can´t imagine this horror!” +Other+ Fox shuddered.
+Other+ Tom had something else in petto. With an exaggerated gesture he presented his newborn twin with something he produced out of his pocket, which was a -- simple small plastic spoon. Which he had salvaged the evening before from their dinner table. 
“You know what to do with it,” he said, looking quite earnest now, and the twin nodded, almost as earnest, showing just a small grateful smile as he received the spoon, handling it as if it was a medal of the greatest honor.
“Is that another joke?” a curious Dr. Keller asked +other+ Wylie.
“No it isn´t, just look at their faces. I watched him yesterday evening working on that spoon with his matrix and it took him almost half an hour, which is half of eternity for an experienced M-Tec like him. I don´t know what he did, but that harmless looking piece of plastic is probably filled now with gadgets of all sorts which will come handy as soon as your version has regained some powers of his own. And they´ll be keyed to him only, nobody else but him will be able to use them. +Our+ Tom is always taking care that no unauthorized person can abuse his stuff, because it´s usually much too dangerous to take the chance that some of it could fall into the wrong hands.”
Dr. Keller nodded again, his eyes not wavering from the spoon that now disappeared into +here+ Tom´s pocket, he was determined to find out the secrets of that little tool.
“Before you leave,” the general said, “I want to have a final short interview with those I haven´t talked to in private until now. Mr. Hayden, how about you?”
“Me?” The boy suddenly looked scared at the prospect to be alone with the powerful general in his office, but he saw both Toms and even the Pauls nodding approvingly and smiling encouraging at him, and so he couldn´t refuse. At least the Secretaries had the decency not to come to this interview too since they realized that one interrogator was all the faint-hearted boy could stand.
“Don´t look so scared, Scott. I can call you Scott, can´t I? - Don´t worry, I won´t eat you,” was the first thing the general said when they were alone in his office, and he read open fear on the boy´s face.
“But you could, anytime you liked.” Scott began, hesitantly, voice hoarse from barely concealed fright, he had to clear his throat before he went on. “The other Tom is protecting us right now, but soon he will be gone, and his twin the former superhero isn´t able to protect himself right now, let alone us.”
“And that´s one of the reasons, as my agents told me, why they turned to us in the first place,” Wade answered.  “The Tom Richards of the other dimension seems to have reason to trust us.”
“He´s got no reason to fear you. From what I´ve seen he could best you and all your men anytime he liked to.”
The general sighed. “I agree that Peagrum wasn´t the best way to start a relationship. But you have to see it from my position, too. I had to make sure your father isn´t the threat Mr. Fox believed him to be. It´s my duty to protect my country, and not just this country but all of Earth from unwanted immigrants, especially from aliens from space with an unknown agenda. Your dad destroyed the data at Peagrum, but from what the scientists there still remembered and told me later he seems indeed to be no immediate threat, at least in terms of biology and chemistry. Meaning they didn´t find any kind of alien bugs or substances on him which could grow into a threat to mankind or to our environment. What he´s up to on this planet is a different thing, though, they didn´t get the time to pick his mind. These past two days brought us more information than all we got in the four years before.”
“Thanks to Richards who´s a real chatterbox,” Scott commented dryly. “You couldn´t shut him off if you killed him.”
“What do you think of this man, Scott?”
« Letzte Änderung: 28. April 2014, 18:29:33 Uhr von DAOGA »

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Re: Dr. Thomas A. Richards Reloaded
« Antwort #34 am: 20. Mai 2014, 16:47:37 Uhr »
A weak indication of relaxation, the boy was not shy to express his thoughts about people who were not his father. “That guy´s completely nuts. I just can´t decide if he´s really that crazy or if it´s just good acting, but I think - how to express it -- that all his mad behavior is aiming at something. I think he has always good reason to act the way he does. For instance, from the very hour we met him he taunted your Agent Fox to get at my Dad, as if he wanted him to -- to realize his fears and to face them once for all. It seemed to have worked with his own Fox, that man and his Paul are best friends, and from what I´ve heard their Fox was just as xenophobic as ours until some time ago. Later Tom did the same with your scientists, as you know, sir. He practically urged them ´Hey, will you take a look at that, that´s interesting!´ And not just once but repeatedly. But what he thinks to gain that way still eludes me. I guess what your Dr. Keller said is right, he´s using whip and carrot to teach your men the fastest way.”
“How do you feel yourself as the son of an alien? Did it give you problems, others besides than my agents chasing you? Did others learn about it, and if they did, how did they react to it?”
Difficult questions, Scott took his time to think them over.
“To answer the last question first, yes, a lot of people learned about it in the years we were on the run. But at the time they realized my Dad to be a genuine visitor from space most of them had already gotten that he´s in fact a quite friendly and innocent guy.” he began then. “And then most of them decided to help us to avoid or escape your agents. Your Agent Fox often went really badass on them, so I guess he didn´t make a lot of friends there.” He showed a short but honest smile.
“I think most of the problems with my Dad I had right at the beginning, when he still was totally inexperienced with human life. I practically had to teach him how to wipe his own butt because he´d never had a human butt to wipe before. Besides those three days when he´d been with my Mom, and they certainly didn´t waste the time on such menial tasks. But I still think he wouldn´t last long without me. He´s just too trusting. He doesn´t understand certain human emotions, like hate, anger, deception, greed or falsehood. He told me that on his world they all are telepathic, they´d know immediately if somebody´s lying or having ulterior motives or hostile feelings, and so they have no use for such things. Being with him is difficult sometimes, but it´s also fun. Especially when he gets to do alien things.”
“What kind of things?”
“Healings, for instance. But all by himself he can do only small things, like healing blisters, fresh burns or a broken bone. He healed Fox at Peagrum when he had a stroke. Such healings already leave him exhausted. A big and lengthy healing like yesterday he wouldn´t be able to do all alone. Tom was right there, you´d need a full circle of trained workers to do such things. Frankly, I wouldn´t mind doing that. That man we healed, his eyes were so full of hope when he learned he´d walk again... I´d like to repeat this with his friends from that care home he mentioned, together with our Tom and my Dad.” 
“What else alien things is he doing?”
“Well, some things aren´t so much alien but the result of good training. He´s a natural at playing pool, all without his sphere. Angle of entrance equals angle of exit, he said and mercilessly fleeced the other players. They never believed him that he was playing for the very first time, they believed him a pro trying to con them.” A short grin. “And once he determined the whereabouts of a man just from the positions of stars visible on a photo. Tom was right again about this, to own a sphere or matrix isn´t everything, you need the proper training and knowledge how to use it. I´ve still got a lot to learn there, I guess. But I noticed a difference between my Dad and Tom. It´s, how to express it--“ At the general´s inviting nod he continued: “If my Dad is using his sphere he always needs some time to concentrate first on what he wants to do, with a chance of getting interrupted and stopped. But Tom uses his matrix on an almost unconscious level. When we were in telepathic rapport I got from him that he´s always having it online in some way, which he can do as long as it´s close to him, enabling to activate it in an instant. To him it´s like an additional limb which he will use often even without thinking first. Or in other words, he can use it in an instinctive way like a gunman in a Western movie uses his guns, he can draw fast as lightning. When I compared him to my Dad I thought that it´s probably his human body which hinders my Dad to do as well because it dulls his alien senses and reflexes and is still lacking training. If he were in his original form he would be probably just as fast as Tom, maybe even faster. With Tom it´s the result of a very rigid training he´s had back in his own time. And from all I got about that they do need it there, because their group, the so-called M-Tecs, have made a lot of enemies.”
“You seem to be good in watching and analyzing,” Wade commented. “If you were fresh from college and applied for a job with my Agency, I would give it a try, because a lot of agency work actually consists of analyzing information. But, please continue.” Scott first kept quiet, not knowing what to do with the general´s unexpected compliment. Then he said: “Sir, now I´ve got a question of my own.” When the general nodded he asked what he had wanted to know all along: “What are you planning to do with us now?  Tom, the other one, wanted to take us, and he more or less ordered his twin to do the same. And if the ex-superhero is just half the man the other one is we certainly wouldn´t mind.”
“Even if he is plain crazy too?” Scott didn´t know the general well, so he didn´t know that Wade was in fact amused.
“Yes, even if he is. But I think he´s fun, just like my Dad. And if he´s got the same experience as his twin I think he can teach even my Dad a few tricks. Tom - the other one - mentioned a hospital they both are owning. And that he´s making our other versions slaving there. I don´t know if his +here+ version will do the same with us, but again I think I wouldn´t mind. On all the pictures of Firebird I´ve seen he looks distant and unsympathetic, but now I think this was in fact the mask he hid behind. If people had known about his merry character they never would´ve left him alone.”
The boy had a point there, the general thought. About the same he himself had told the president and his staff yesterday when he´d had his appointment at the White House.
“What about your own future? What had you in mind about that?”
“Well -“ Hesitation. “My Dad loves the thought I´d become a teacher. He loves to learn new things and give them on, but he can´t help it, his people are built that way. I´ve never given it too much thought, though - we had to run much too often before I could get a proper grade in anything, and when we found a place to stay we often found it more important to make money for a living, even when Dad tried to get me into school as often as he could. Since I´ve met my Dad four years ago, I´ve developed an interest in astronomy and mathematics. He taught me a lot there already. But I knew that many jobs in this field are intertwined with government activities, so I never gave it a closer thought.”
“Tom Richards gave me advise to hook your Dad up with scientists of all sorts, if he´s not busy doing healings.”
“To see what you can get out of him?” Again, a short smile. “Well, as long as  he does it voluntarily and as long as it doesn´t go along with freakish experiments on us, I would find this interesting too. My Dad knows about the most amazing things, and he often reacts surprised when I tell him that those are considered stuff of science fiction or theoretical disputes, since human sciences still are in their infancy there.” 
Wade nodded, and came to a decision. “Then it´s decided,” he said to the boy. “No more life on the run for you. Instead, you and your Dad will stay with Firebird, or whatever he´ll call himself in the future. You know I had a lengthy interview yesterday with my bosses in the White House, and after I had explained to them what had happened and might arise as a result, they agreed with me to keep the whole thing about aliens and dimension travelers and anything else under strict supervision by my agency. You are free to do as you please, with the small limitation that you´ll have to clear anything you´ll do in the future with me and my agents first. I vouched for you all, you know, from this very day I´m responsible for everything you and your dad and the former superhero will do or say. How about it?”
He could see the sudden hope in Scott´s eyes. “No more life on the run, but not in a cage either - that sounds too good to be true!” 
The boy was easy to please. “Please, wait with blowing it to the others when we return to the lab. I still have a few questions I want to get answers for before they´ll learn of my decision.”
Scott nodded. He could live with that order. Obiently he followed the general back to the lab floor, still wondering if this all was just a weird dream.
Two Forresters looked relieved when they saw +their+ son returning well and healthy and wearing a quite confident expression.
While Scott and the general had been away,+here+ Wylie had entertained them by asking the ex-superhero about something that had occured the year before, the first thing that made the newborn Tom Richards smile.
“You´ve visited the Comic Con in San Diego last year,” he said to him, invitingly.
And +here+ Tom promptly lost his grouch because he remembered. Instead, he grinned all over.
“Really?” +Other+ Wylie immediately jumped on the bandwagon. “Please tell us about it!” Because a story that mixed comics with a real-life superhero could only be good. The others also unconsciously moved closer because they wanted to hear about this, the +here+ folks because they´d already read about it in newspapers and watched some random camera shots on TV and now got the chance to hear the real story.
« Letzte Änderung: 20. Mai 2014, 16:50:01 Uhr von DAOGA »

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Re: Dr. Thomas A. Richards Reloaded
« Antwort #35 am: 3. Juni 2014, 10:56:07 Uhr »
“Yes, I just couldn´t miss it. I´ve always loved comics, you know, I have a huge collection right from the very beginning of the genre, including a lot of originals I saved from the waste paper collections in World War Two. So I went there, well disguised as an average man in a dark suit and hat. At least in the first days, and I did what all the others visitors did there, buying some nice things, getting myself some scetches and autographs, standing in lines and partaking in the nerd-talk and enjoying myself as hard as I could. But on the last day, when they did another one of those silly costume contests, I just couldn´t help myself. I stepped up on the stage, still in my disguise, and said that I´m Firebird. Of course, they laughed.”
He smiled, remembering the scene. “They asked me what I think of him, and I truthfully answered that he´s just a crazy guy with a cape. And that I should know, because he´s me. And with that, I shed my disguise and changed back into superhero mode. Boy, you should´ve seen their faces when I suddenly hovered there in all my glory! I think a few of them even wet themselves. And then I simply laughed at them and zipped up and away.” He was grinning over both ears now, remembering how, after a few minutes of baffled silence, the crowd had gone crazy, cheering and shouting, because he still had watched from a distance after his ´leave´, well disguised again. “But this year I couldn´t attend, the place was crawling with police and agents and commissaries of every kind waiting for me to turn up. I think the regular visitors had a lot of fun with them and with all the equipment meant to see through my disguise if I entered there somewhere through a door or window or mousehole.”
“You provided us, Mr. Fox and me, with a nice time there. The general sent us there too, you know,” +here+ Wylie smiled back at him while +his+ Fox made a face again, he´d hated every single second of their stay there. 
“Do you think the equipment would have picked you up?” +here+ Fox asked then, very curious.
“Yes, I think some of those things would´ve registered me as an anomaly. I also think I could have fooled them but only with a lot of work and concentration on my side. But I also saw all the other stuff they had prepared, hoping they could catch and confine me. I did watch from a distance, you know.” He smiled now especially at Fox whom he suspected for good reason to be one of the goons who had brought whole truckloads of nasty equipment with them. “So I decided not to go there, because there certainly would have been some collateral damage if all those wannabe superhero-catchers went for me in the middle of the crowd.” 
“Too bad,” Wylie sighed, “that would have been fun.”
“But we can have fun there next year, all quite incognito since I´m pretty normal now,”  the ex-superhero smiled at him, and Wylie nodded eagerly, but Fox snorted with disgust and said, now grouchy himself: “That remains to be seen!”
“Don´t worry,” the newborn Tom said to Fox and smiled at him. “Now that you have me, you won´t get rid of me so easily. I´m without any powers now but I still have all the knowledge and experience, and all my hobbies too. Or at least I hope so.”
“Stop threatening the poor man,” his twin promptly scolded him for his bragging which made their audience grin.
Fox looked again like suffering from severe toothache but retaliated in another way, he started to question the former superhero about some of the things he had done in the past years, and Tom answered freely. Firebird had proven early in his career that he was no goody two-shoes comicbook hero but willing and able to kill bad guys as a statement of justice. Or to hand said bad guys over to the hands of their victims or relatives of victims which more than once had turned out just as deadly. Acts that did sit quite right with a certain George Fox because he´d often thought just the same about what he´d do if he got the chance, so he actually didn´t mind that part. But he did mind that the agency didn´t know about certain details until now, and now he had the chance to change that. The VIPs present listened closely to what the newborn Tom Richards had to say. “In one of the main professions of my long life I´m a doctor of medicine, a good one I hope, and one of the things you learn there is how to cut out cancer.” he told them in defense of his deeds. “The people I killed, I saw them as cancer on the body of mankind. I don´t take pride in my actions, I never liked to kill and I certainly don´t get high on it, but sometimes it´s just necessary. That´s something you all here perfectly know and have acknowledged, or you´d be the wrong choice in your line of business,” he said towards their VIPs. “Since you´re into politics and elected members of your government you can´t do certain things but Firebird could. As a powerful superbeing you no longer belong to a single country alone but to all of humankind, and you try to keep it safe from threats not only from the outside but also from those that grow within. And I think, that´s what defines good from bad, and not dealing out mercy to those who don´t deserve it.”
“And now the being called Firebird is dead. He died this very day. With our own eyes we saw his remains lying on the floor, and we watched both the remains and the source of his powers turning into dust. So justice in every meaning got served,” Secretary Vandersteen replied with slow and heavy words, and they sounded like law to the others. “That´s what we can and will say if somebody asks us. Our law doesn´t know about clones or aliens with crazy cloning powers, and it doesn´t care for the fact that not too far away a human being was born who shares the same genetic code with the superhero. What this new being, a born American citizen, will do in the future is quite another cup of tea.”
“And the good General Wade will keep his watchful eye on him, and everybody´s living happily ever after,” +other+ Tom Richards added ironically, making not only Vandersteen smile.
Right on cue, the door opened, and Scott Hayden and General Wade entered.
 “Well, then it´s time for the last curtain in our drama today,” +other+ Tom Richards, of course, announced as soon as he saw that the General was back.  “Then we can return back home to our dimension. - Mr. Fox, I think you´ve learned a lot in the last days. Now it´s time to pass the test.”
+Here+ Fox stared at him, teeth grit, face pale and stiff. He´d rather had an extensively operation at his dentist´s than to do this. But he knew he couldn´t avoid it. Not since everybody, including his own boss, was expecting him to do it, even the secretaries who had gotten from Wade which important decision from +other+ Tom depended on this test - the decision if he could leave +this+ Forrester here, in this dimension, at the mercy of +this+ Fox and his whole agency.
He turned to face Forrester. The Starman was looking at him, not smiling, but with a friendly and expectantly expression. His sphere lay silvery and unlit and invitingly on his open palm.
Fox gave in. “Okay, here goes nothing,” he sighed, silently entrusting his soul to the hands of any god who wanted to have it, and made the last dreaded steps towards the alien. Now Forrester smiled. His sphere came to life, and its blue glow completely enveloped the two men as Fox put his hands into that of the Starman and they went into telepathic rapport.
It didn´t take long, just a few minutes, but as soon as the light had subsided Fox pulled back his hands and suddenly and quite unexpectedly stormed out of the room, hiding his face in his hands. Faithfully a very concerned Wylie wanted to follow him, together with Dr. Keller, but they got stopped by +other+ Wylie and Fox. “Give him some time to digest it, alone,” +other+ Wylie said to them.
 “He´s in dire need of a break now. I totally went to pieces too, after that,” Fox added.
“Why? What is it like?” Wylie asked them before anybody else could, and got the answer: “You´ll understand only if you do it for yourself. Ask your Paul for a trip of your own, but preferrably not today. Such a close contact with a human being disturbs him too, you know.” They looked at Forrester and saw that he was still smiling, but tears were running over his face. Scott already went to him, pale with worry. “Dad? Did he hurt you?”
They hugged. “No,” Forrester said, wiping his tears while he huddled against his son. “I just didn´t realize before - such a rich life! So many pains! So many feelings and wishes and needs and experiences - it´s incredible! He´s a whole universe by himself, and he´s just a single human being! I guess he wasn´t the only one to learn here!”
+Other+ Paul went to them, smiling and nodding approvingly, reaching out with his hand for his twin. But before they could touch Tom mixed in. “Fly on the wall?” he asked them boldly, as he had done a few days ago. “But not me, now. It´s the general´s turn.”
Because he knew that the general wouldn´t exclude the Forresters from his private interviews, so he better got it the right and proper and alien way.
Both Forresters bowed, turning to General Wade. And - the agents present almost couldn´t believe it - the general smiled back at the Starmen. “Mr. Fox proved his courage, so I can´t do less,” he said.
Two spheres flashed blue light this time when the three men went into rapport, carefully watched by Scott and everybody else present in the room, and especially Mrs. Baker was looking almost green with envy, she certainly would take the next opportunity to help herself to a chance of her own to have a rapport with this amazing alien.

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Re: Dr. Thomas A. Richards Reloaded
« Antwort #36 am: 17. Juni 2014, 13:35:30 Uhr »
“Wylie,” Tom told the +here+ assistant in a low tone, “go looking for Fox. Tell him that the general is at it right now. Tell him he did it voluntarily, but stop him only if he tries to interfere.”
Wylie nodded and went off, in search of Mr. Fox. He found him in the restroom close by and was surprised to find Fox all prostrated with grief, bent over one of the washbowls where he´d cleaned his face, but traces of tears were still visible in his eyes. “Wylie, I can´t go back there,” he said with hoarse voice before his assistant could say a single word. “I´m a failure, a moron, a loser in every way you´d think of and more. I failed the general, I failed my country, more often than I am able to count, I failed you, and above it all, I failed a honest, saint-like being, not to mention His son and Mrs. Hayden. I´ll never be able to atone for what I´ve done. I will resign, right now, and crawl into whatever hole wants to have one as wretched as me.”
Wylie swallowed, startled by his superior´s behavior. He chose his next words carefully. “Tom Richards told me to tell you that the general is at it right now.”
“The general?” Fox´s head shot up. The grief in his eyes suddenly changed to deep concern. ´No more ´can´t go back there´ now, Tom´s really one sly old bastard´, Wylie thought as he followed Fox who hurried back without another word. But when they arrived it was already over, the blue light just vanished, and they saw the three men standing there, the general with a very puzzled expression on his face.
“General!” Fox shouted, deep apprehension audibly in his tone.
“Oh, Mr. Fox. No, don´t worry, I´m okay. Now, that´s an experience one doesn´t make every day. I guess I have to thank you for it.” And to the astonishment of his staff he bowed deeply before the Starmen.
“You´re welcome,” they said in unison and smiled at him.
“Even if you did give us a black eye,” the +other+ one of them said then, showing a crooked grin. The full +other+ crew grinned at that, because they knew which running gag from their own dimension´s general  +their+ Paul  was referring to. Wade actually smiled back, since he also knew the gag now from the +other+ Forrester´s memories.
“General--“ Wade noticed that  Agent Fox looked very uncomfortable, and it was not for seeing the general standing next to the aliens.
Fox plucked up all his courage that was still left.
“Sir, because of all the faults and mistakes I commited in the last years, I resign. I quit, as of now, and I can only say I´m deeply sorry, sir.”
Wade looked at him, quite at ease with himself and the world as it seemed to Fox. He seemed to have gotten quite different things from the Forresters than the hapless agent.
“Sorry, Mr. Fox. I won´t accept your resignation. Not now, when your learning process has just begun as it looks to me. No, I did assign you the job of bringing in Paul Forrester for questioning a few years ago, and this you did. A little late perhaps, but you did. Since it turned out very informatively and useful to the agency, I´m assigning you now to another job. After due deliberation my superiors and I decided to leave Paul Forrester and his son into the able hands of somebody who´s an expert on aliens, +our+ Tom Richards aka the former superhero Firebird who has agreed to work closely together with us in the future.” He nodded towards said person who smiled back, relieved and visibly happy over this decision. The Secretaries of State also nodded approvingly. The only one in the audience not looking pleased with the decision was Mrs. Baker, she frowned, and all of them knew that Wade would have trouble coming from her side. “But since Mr. Richards is not able right now to take care of the needed security measures, be they for himself or for Paul Forrester and Scott Hayden, it will be your job to assist him there in every way possible, Mr. Fox and Mr. Wylie, and for as long as it takes. And I want to see a full report on your progress and anything else that´s of interest every day.”
“But-“ made Fox´s mouth, when his voice failed him. Insecurely his gaze wandered, from the general to the Forresters to a relieved looking +here+ Wylie to the newborn second Tom Richards to the secretaries, and all the way back.
+Other+ Tom knew what bugged him. He went to him, grabbed him by his shoulder with astonishing strength and said to him: “He´s already forgiven you. You know by now he can´t help it, Algeibans are just built this way. With Scott Hayden and Jenny Hayden, if you´ll find her, it´s quite different. This will take a lot of time and atonement from your side, so you better start ASAP.” 
+Other+ Fox also came on. “And don´t you dare to chicken out, or I´ll find a way to return back here and come for you,” he threatened. “I could do it so you can too. And you better make me proud, George!”
+This+ Fox grimaced, suddenly finding everybody and their grandma picking on him. To his astonishment +his+ Wylie came to his aid. “Go away, give him some air!” he said to the others. “General, may we end this for today?” he then asked towards his boss. “We´ve had enough madness for one day, I think.”
“Before our Headquarter turns completely into a nuthouse - I agree. +Our+ Mr. Richards, would you like to stay here for another night before returning into your private life?”
The ex-superhero sighed. “It would be very nice to feel my own nice bed in my mansion once again. I´ve slept above the blankets far too long,” he said. “And for Paul and Scott there´s room enough at the mansion, too. Your agents can start with their new job by taking us there, so they´ll know where to find us in the future. None of us will run away till tomorrow, I promise.”
And Wade knew that this promise was a honest one, made to be kept.
“I´ll have you know, General Wade, that I disagree.” Mrs. Baker made her first attempt. “They should be kept in custody and studied, not given the chance of running again. Your agent  just confessed his inaptitude himself. He and his assistant can´t be trusted with the safekeeping of such priceless specimens, but I say even the best agents wouldn´t be acceptable if you really want to assign no more than two of them.” 
“Of course you disagree.” Wade friendly replied. “And in time we´ll have to tighten security, because if somebody learns about Mr. Forrester and Mr. Richards - which will happen rather soon as we all know - there will be a lot of interest from other sides. The otherdimensional agents told me how they´re dealing with it on their world, they´re actually using this fact for their own means by using Forrester and Richards as very effective bait. People whose intentions turn out to be honest might be allowed to meet with the alien visitor, and anybody else will soon learn what one of our interrogation rooms looks like from the inside.”   
“Benefits you´d like to make sure the CIA will get instead of the FSA, I can read your mind there, Ma´am,” +other+ Tom Richards mixed in, grinning again. “Sorry, I won´t have that, I don´t want my buddy Wade to be at a disadvantage here.” (Loud snorting, suppressed laughter from their audience, while Mrs. Baker´s mien froze in sheer disbelief. Tom´s audacity seemed to shock her, and it definitely amused the others.) “Fact is, even if my other me is young now in terms of biology, his knowledge and experience is not. We aren´t exactly virgins in that kind of stuff, you know, and he can call on a lot of friends to keep himself and his pet aliens safe, if  Wade´s agents don´t suffice. If he´s getting a few days of time he can whip up better security than any agency - be it the FSA or yours, Mrs. Baker - would ever be able to provide, even without his most potent tool. And I do trust in you not to take advantage of the present situation.”
Caught again, they all could read it on the woman´s face which looked petrified. More grinning all around. “Told you he never lies,” they heard the proud voice of one Wylie in the background.
“I´ve met those friends of Tom, our version, Ma´am,” +other+ Fox added, trying not to gloat while he happily rubbed salt into the open wound. “Those guys have enough firepower to start a war and not much reservations to do so if somebody´s giving them an excuse. And they are damn clever, we´re lucky they´re on our side in our dimension because they could give even us trouble. Anybody messing with Tom and his pet aliens will regret it, big time, and I almost feel sorry for those who´re taking the bait. I know I do in our world.” ´Friendly´ grinning from his side, the grin of a shark in sight of its prey. 
« Letzte Änderung: 17. Juni 2014, 13:38:53 Uhr von DAOGA »

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Re: Dr. Thomas A. Richards Reloaded
« Antwort #37 am: 17. Juli 2014, 12:39:20 Uhr »
“I think, for the time being all questions of scientific evaluation should stay in the able hands of Dr. Keller, since I know from our version he´s able and trustworthy. Mrs. Baker, you´ll have to live with the fact that won´t get Forrester and my other me but of course you and your Directorate are free to make agreements about a cooperation with General Wade and adding your own experts to the team,” Richards went on, giving orders as if he was the President himself. “Mrs. Baker, General Wade, before you go for each other´s throats next time, please understand that you and your agencies work not only for your government but for the safety of all of mankind, and that I see rivalties between two agencies of the same Administration as stupid pissing contests which will result only in a waste of time and ressources, a weakness which the Unknown Enemy surely would try to exploit. You are both grown-ups and should be able to overcome your differences.” (Single clapping from the background. It was Secretary Vandersteen who applauded.) “I can´t give you orders, mind you, my crew and I will soon be gone and we´ll probably never meet again, but you both have learned now that mankind is not alone. And if one of the not-so-friendly forces that are out there will attack earth, it won´t attack the CIA and leave the FSA alone, and it won´t attack China and leave the States alone. We´re all sitting on the same small raft when it comes to aliens and otherdimensional enemies. So you better get over your egos and do what is needed. Stake up your turfs and mark your borderlines if you can´t do it any other way, but learn to cooperate. My twin here as the third member of this party will also have some suggestions on how to use Forrester´s knowledge most profitably with all those connections he has. And you better listen to him, it´s for your own good. - But now I think we better get going. Our means of transport is a leech, after all, a damn big one but still a leech, and with the brains of one. The deal we made it won´t remember forever. Nor will it remember forever the place where to take us. And we don´t want to wind up in a dimension which is even more bizarre than this one.”
The General nodded. And accompanied them up to the helicopter strip at the flat roof of the building, where he, Secretary Vandersteen and the other ´bigwigs´, the full “here” crew including the ex-superhero and Dr. Keller with his staff were allowed to watch the amazing transformation of Tom Richards into a huge, winged reptile. The saddle it wore was a two-seater but for a short flight it could carry three as well. Tom´s crew didn´t mount immediately, though. Knowing they´d probably never get another chance again to examine such an amazing creature from legend, all the +here+ people took now what they could get. Dr. Keller was deeply disappointed when he learned that he couldn´t get samples from the dragon´s body because of the incorporated destruction program that immediately dissolved any organic part that got removed from the living creature. His staff was busy doing pictures, taking measurements of all parts of the dragon, even climbed halfways into the dangerously tooth-rimmed open mouth of the creature to check interesting parts like the tongue, which was equipped  with rows and rows of small barbs fit for ripping meat from bones - or to catch and cut apart the science staff´s lab coats, as they soon found out.
But then, finally, it was time to say good-bye. +Here+ Wylie, Paul and Scott couldn´t help themselves but to wave, when the dragon did the few steps to the end of the roof, spreading its huge wings to full size to catch the updraft, and simply went over the rim. Immediately it ascended, carried by the air despite its huge bulk and weight, and with a few additionally beats of its wings it soared away, until it suddenly disappeared, vanished into thin air with a low puffing noise. It had teleported away, to some place on this earth with another dimensional breach with an incredibly universe-spanning extradimensional creature, a leech, waiting just beyond its border, to take them home - or elsewhere...

x

(still not the end  8) )

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Re: Dr. Thomas A. Richards Reloaded
« Antwort #38 am: 31. Juli 2014, 15:24:06 Uhr »
A short time later, in the underground garage of the FSA building, the General and his VIP guests saw the group of their own Tom Richards off. Mrs. Baker was still frowning, but Wade had the feeling he could trust in +his+ Richards´s words, so he didn´t send more of his men with them but his old two-men team of alien-hunters.
On their way to the mansion Tom briefed his crew. “Mr. Fox, Mr. Wylie, you won´t come with me into the house today. Since nobody outside the Agency knows I´m back it will be safe enough for the first day and night without you, and tomorrow we´ll take care of security together. The first thing I have to do today is to convince Larry Kiromoto, my custodian, that I´m back and it´s me indeed and not some wannabe impostor, and this will be hard enough without two federal agents looking over my shoulder. Larry was a member of a Japanese Yakuza triad, a very dangerous crime organisation, before I took him over, and he is still a very suspicious man and quick with knife and trigger finger. For you, Paul and Scott, that reads please do what I say, watch what I do, follow my lead and don´t speak until you´re spoken to. I´ll answer all your questions later.”
“Sounds dangerous, that custodian of yours,” Wylie commented.
“He is. But he´s been good since I imported him from Japan. He´s the most devoted family man I´ve ever seen. As his boss, he sees me as part of his family and his private property, I can´t tell which role outweighs the other. With the rest of my staff it´s mostly the same. To them I´m an old and precious piece of furniture they now and then dust or air but hopefully will never try to sell in favor of their offspring who are to inherit me one day.” He grinned boyishly. “They all know how old I am, you know. Many of them I know since they were born, and some of them are grandparents by now.”
“Do they also know about your - other career? The one that included a cape?”
“Most of them knew, the rest guessed. But since all of them know I´m doing important work, they also knew to be quiet about it. Some of them had been into weird situations with me before, so they knew a career as superhero isn´t exactly all roses either. That insight made it easier for them to keep their traps shut.”
Soon they reached the mansion. Wylie the driver made the car stop at the huge closed wrought iron gate right there where an electronic eye suspiciously scrutinized everybody seeking for admittance, and a voice coming from a squawk box inquired after their wishes. 
“It´s me, Larry. Your evil overlord has returned at last.” Tom said in fluent Japanese into the micro, doffing the shades so he could look directly into the camera, and the man at the Monitor in the control room could take a good look at his eyes.
There was no audible reaction, but the gate opened slowly before them. They went on.
The car stopped before the huge entrance. A small, slender figure clothed in white stood on the stairhead which led to the huge bronze main door, hands tugged behind his back, face motionless in perfect Asian composure.
Tom went up to him. “Hi Larry. Long time no see,” he greeted the man, again in Japanese. Nobody else but him would have noticed the barely hidden expression of surprise on the man´s face. “It´s really me,” he smiled. “I know I look a bit different now. But that´s a long story. How about a nice cup of tea while I´ll explain?”
Larry bowed, still staying quiet. And looked inquiringly at the others. 
“Those are guests of mine, and two watchdogs from the government, but the latter won´t come in today. But all will be explained in time. Let´s first sit and drink, okay?”
Larry bowed again, just a slight moving of his head. He still wasn´t convinced at all, Tom understood. But he knew what Larry would accept as proof of his identity.
Tom led on to his private living room in the huge, maze-like house where he made a beeline for his favorite seat at the table. “Hi, Moriko. I´m back,” he greeted the pretty Japanese woman who was already there preparing their drinks and a few morsels. She looked at him wide-eyed, and he grinned back in his boyish way. “It´s really me, believe me.”
They sat down, and Moriko brought the tea cups. Tom looked down at the empty cups. Without thinking or saying a word he swapped his cup with that of Forrester, and he knew that Larry was now ticking off another post on an imaginary list. Because said cup the blond visitor claimed for himself had been that of Thomas A. Richards, the true master of this house. Moriko poured them the tea. Still staying silent, they relaxed and drank, then waited for Moriko to pour them the second round. It wasn´t what a Japanese would call a tea ceremony, but for an American gaijin like Tom it had always sufficed, real tea ceremonies were for friends and guests who were able to appreciate them. This they would catch up on later, when Larry had had the chance to satisfactorily convince himself that his master had returned indeed.
When Tom had waited for a proper period, he began, this time in English:
“Let´s start by introducing. Mr. Larry Kiromoto, the most trustworthy keeper of this house, and his nice wife Moriko Matsumura.” He bowed towards Larry and Moriko, the small bow that was due to a good custodian from a superior. Paul and Scott mimicked his move as he´d told them to do before, without saying anything.
“This here are Mr. Paul Forrester, the famous photographer and Pulitzer winner, and his son, Scott Hayden.” Again bowing, both from Tom - a little bit deeper - and from Larry and Moriko - definitely deeper in centimenters, the proper greeting of a honored guest.
“Larry, you remember what I said to you and you to me when I had to leave, a few years ago. I know you didn´t like it then that I had to completely break up with you, but it couldn´t be helped, for your safety and the safety of the others even if you thought otherwise. I don´t regret that I did this, and I don´t regret anything that happened after. I think you got most of what happened from the news and through other channels. What you didn´t get I´ll fill you in on sooner or later, we´ll have that time now. But some time ago something happened. In one of my heroic feats I got hurt. Really badly, my body was way beyond any chance of repair. The only way for me to survive at all was to merge completely with my matrix. That made it impossible for me to return to an anonymous human life, I was forced to live 24/7 as my superhero alter ego. I tried to become human again by creating another body for me but I failed, over and over again. I failed because all the cells of my body I could have used got tainted in that accident that almost destroyed my original form. I had to wait with trying anew until I found an acceptable donor of a healthy cell. And I finally found such a donor, just three days ago. This body you´re seeing me in now,” he shortly caressed it over the chest, “is no older than a few hours. You can well say I got reborn this very day. But there are differences to my old form. This body is much younger as you can see. It´s also lacking the invulnerability of my old one, its superhuman strength and speed, and it never got any training. If we were to spar right now you would beat me in every way you liked to. In fact, I can already feel the strain of just being on my feet for the last few hours. This will take some getting used to, after one millennium of being more than human.”
Larry´s eyes were as wide as Moriko´s now, but he still didn´t say anything.
“When my friendly helpers transferred me into this new body, they had to cut off the matrix powers that had kept my old body alive. Since we were merged completely my good old Level Five didn´t survive the separation. That means I´m also left without even the weakest tool right now, let alone my strongest.” He smiled at Larry. “But you know I´ve got supply. No Level Five which I am almost glad for now, because I don´t know whether I could deal with it in this newborn form. I´ve got a few Level One specimens which I wanted to give on to apprentices, and two Level Twos. I didn´t get a Level Three, to my great dismay, when I got my delivery from the stars.”
“What about Level Four?” Scott burst out, sick of that persistent silence around Tom and suddenly remembering that neither Tom had ever referred to this Level. But this version of Tom here wasn´t peeved about his uninvited interruption. He smiled at the boy. “Level Fours are instabile and therefore unreliable, they never know whether to be a trustworthy Three or rather a powerful and capriciously Five. A few M-Tecs have actually managed to housebreak a Four into something useful, but those few are the exceptions proving the rule. It´s considered woe! to every M-Tec to get himself caught at Level Four. Either they try to jump it completely by immediately starting with a Five if they are considered strong enough or they voluntarily go back to Level Three, even if it means a material loss of power. I, too, would rather have a weaker Three which is working perfectly than a more powerful Four which is malfunctioning half of the time. I was a stripling Level Three apprentice when I got separated from my original in the future. So I knew the black-hearted Benu bastards were making fun of me when I discovered the Level Five in their package. They wanted to know if I was ready to deal with a Five, if I would dare to activate it, and if I would be able to resist the temptations that come with such an amount of power. Well, with the latter they were quite right... and now I´m afraid to try even a wee Level One. I could have lost my ability to deal with a matrix completely, you know.”
“I don´t think so. I´d feel it if you had.” Paul said his first words in this house which wouldn´t be his last, and reassuringly put his hand on Tom´s.
“Thanks, Paul, you´re a great help. But I won´t know before I´ve tried.” They all could see he was really nervous now.
“You want me to open the safe for you, Sir?” Larry asked, without throwing even the smallest glance at the huge oil painting behind which the big old-fashioned safe was hidden in the most classical manner.
Another test. Tom smiled.  “If my memory hasn´t suffered from my rebirth I put my matrices into the small safe. The one that´s open all day but isn´t opening up to anybody but me,”  he answered. He got up, but instead of approaching the painting he went to a finely chiseled original Roman water spout that was embedded into the wall for its size and weight. The mouth of the spout hadn´t seen water for a very long time and wouldn´t see it for some time to come because it wasn´t connected to a conduit. Instead, all one could see was the white chalked wall behind it. There were no cavities in or behind or under the spout or the wall behind, and neither the spout nor the wall were moveable in any way. No place to hide something from sight - but still, this was the ´small safe´ Tom had mentioned. He put his hand into the mouth of the stone figure, and felt something where his eyes just saw empty air before a chalked part of wall. He felt a few small bundles of silk cloth, each of them held together by silken threads and closed with a special kind of knot which told Tom what it contained. He felt the right knot and pulled out the bundle, from empty air as it seemed. 
« Letzte Änderung: 31. Juli 2014, 15:25:50 Uhr von DAOGA »

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Re: Dr. Thomas A. Richards Reloaded
« Antwort #39 am: 21. August 2014, 16:55:14 Uhr »
When he turned back to the others, the already opened bundle lying on his open hand, they could see it contained a small faceted crystal of dark gray-blueish color, maybe a semi-precious stone. But they knew what it actually was, a so-called energy matrix or dhyarra in its inactive form. The silk cloth prevented Tom´s hand from directly touching it, because with the slightest touch the process of activation would begin, and he still shied back from that. But he had to do it eventually --
“Well, here goes nothing!”
And with this he moved the crystal on his unprotected palm and started to concentrate. Just as he had done as an absolute beginner, one millennium ago and still some centuries in the future --
The crystal changed. It gave up its dark gray-blue color and changed into a bright-blue and clear crystal which blazed with blue light. At the same time Tom´s cup which was still standing on the table started to move across the surface all by its own--
until Tom deactivated the matrix. He smiled, proud of his achievement and much more confident now.
“Mr. Richards.” Larry Kiromoto bowed deeply, as befitted a loyal Japanese servant greeting his returned master. Moriko mirrowed the deep bow.
“But this was only a Level One! I haven´t tried the Two yet, so I still could be a fraud!” Tom joked after returning the proper smaller bow. But Larry remembered what Tom had told him when he´d created the “small safe”, that nobody but the true master of this house, namely Tom himself, would ever be able to pull something out of that little dimensional fault he´d created and secured with his Level Five matrix. The members of the menage or a common burglar could fumble in the spout all day round without feeling more than empty air. 
“Is that a magical trick? There´s nothing in it!” Scott wondered promptly, checking the spout by himself.
“No, it just looks that way. There´s a small invisible dimensional fault in it. Works like Excalibur. Only the one true king may pull the sword from the stone, remember? And this one´s answering to me only, I created it that way.” Tom put the knotted bundle with the One back into the spout where it vanished, and pulled out another one containing one of the Twos.
With the activated matrix he turned to the normal safe. He didn´t even need to touch it, the painting swung aside seemingly all by itself and the lock opened hurriedly without him even moving closer, brought to life by the powers of his Level Two matrix. A small box flew out of one of the filled shelves of the open safe and opened itself, and something small and flashing golden came out and went on towards Richards while the box returned to its shelf.
The golden thing landed obediently on Tom´s hand. It was a genuine gold nugget the size of a big marble. Another thought command cold-melted and formed the metal until it took on the form of a common golden men´s ring, with a hole on its plate exactly the right size for a stone to fit in. Which Tom did, fitting the matrix in and securing it with gold so the stone wouldn´t fall out on its own. Then he put on the ring on his left hand, still changing it until it fit smugly.
“Oh my, that brings back memories!” he sighed then, staring at the matrix ring. “No more cane for now, though I might need it. At the latest when you´re done with me after our first training lesson.” He grinned at Larry who had suddenly lost all his cool Asian composure and was grinning back widely.
“Why? What is he going to do with you?” Paul Forrester asked, a bit worried now.
“Just the usual stuff. Coming for me with swords and knifes and spears and nunchakus and his bare hands and feet which are killers all by themselves,” Tom grinned happily. “A few years ago I could handle him easily, but now he´ll mercilessly whup my sorry newborn ass.” Larry bowed to that, not losing his definitely un-Japanese grin.
They returned to the table, and Moriko poured them the next round of green tea. 
“Moriko, what did you put into that stuff?” Tom asked, suspiciously sniffing the tea. “Suddenly I´m feeling all logy.”
“It´s not the tea. Your new body isn´t used to the strain of daily life yet. When I got my first human body I couldn´t read the signs of fatigue or hunger or thirst yet, so it burned itself out very quickly,” Paul answered instead of Moriko. “And using a matrix cost you even more energy. You need to rest now.”
Tom sighed. “I´d be the first doctor to heed a good advise concerning his own health,” he complained. “Before you put me to bed and sing me a lullaby I still have to tell Larry about you.” He turned to his housekeeper/bodyguard. 
“I told you he´s Paul Forrester, photographer and Pulitzer winner. But there´s a little twist to it. The real Paul Forrester died four years ago, in a helicopter accident at Mount Hawthorne. What came back from the mountain was an exact dublicate, a clone copy, created by an alien from outer space which needed a human body as a protecting shell and host body and feeding ground. The alien had been here once before, eighteen years ago when it curiously had approached Earth and got itself shot down by the airforce. Back then it had left Earth after three days when it rendezvoused with its mothership, but the three days had been enough time for it to produce offspring with a human woman. That offspring is Scott, here.” The boy nodded affirmatively.
“When Scott´s foster parents died in an accident he unconsciously called out for his alien father, and the being from space returned to take care of him. It took on the identity and human guise of Paul Forrester, but it retained all of its alien abilities. Including the knowledge about how to clone a body, which he and a crew of others used this very morning to create this new body for me.” He pointed towards himself with both hands.
“But everything comes with a price. We did the deed in a building of the government, and the houseowner, the Federal Security Agency, jumped at the chance to kill a lot of birds with one stone. They have been after the Forrester-alien and his son for years, you know, and two days ago when I met with them for the first time they finally got them for good. But since I know how useful a being of his kind is, especially for the needs of a trained doctor of medicine,” he smiled at Paul who returned it promptly, “I´ve nailed them down for myself. The price was that I am under supervision of the FSA now, too. They know my secret identity and that there´s no more superhero-ing for me for the time being, but of course I won´t give up on the weird business. I´ll just lie low for a while, until I´ve learned to cope with this vulnerable and much weaker body. I also have already a plan in mind how to get my nigh-immortality back, with anything that comes with it. But this will be a bit tricky, and I´ll probably need another Level Five to do it. So I first need to regain as much strength as I can.”
Larry and Moriko stared at Paul who smiled back innocently. This was hard stuff to swallow for the bodyguard and his wife, even if it had to measure up to the other weird crap Thomas A. Richards brought up constantly. “Aliens, here, in this house?” Larry murmured.
“Don´t worry. Algeibans like Paul are totally pacifistic and friendly and really squeamish, they can´t hurt a fly. He´ll probably get sick if you´re giving me a bloody nose in training.”
“He´ll do that?!” Paul´s handsome face was suddenly showing such a terrified expression that Larry almost went into defensive stance. But then Tom and Scott and Paul started to laugh all at once, and he realized that Paul had been joking.
“Your jokes are improving, Paul,” Tom grinned admiringly. He turned back to his housekeepers. “Joking is an art he´s still learning, you know. But since he´s so pacifistic he´s not able to defend himself against the government goons and anybody else who will be coming for him and his son. That´s why I´m taking them in, and why I´m tasking now you, Larry, Moriko, and the others of the staff to protect and defend them if needed. As soon as I´m able to I´ll put my own versions of security upon them, of course. But one can never be too careful. Algeibans like Paul are living treasures for their phantastically abilities, and I intend to employ this treasure. General Wade of the FSA knows about it, his head of science Dr. Keller and a few of his agents, especially two of them named Fox and Wylie, the men who brought us here. We´ll work together with them quite often in the future, I think, so if they turn up here and ask for Paul and Scott it´s okay. It isn´t for anybody else, even if they are with the government and can prove it.”
Larry bowed again. ` An alien from outer space. So what the heck? I can already see they´re birds of a feather!` he thought. He´d managed with ´Mr. Weirdness´ Tom Richards for years, so he would manage this Paul Forrester and Scott Hayden, too. Both the man and his boy didn´t seem too bad to him.
“I´d also love it if you´d give them courses in Japanese language and customs, and in self-defense, of course. You´ll see that Paul picks up new stuff really quick. Algeibans have an eidetic memory and are really fond of learning. Scott is mostly human so he´ll take more time, but he´s bright in human terms. I don´t think they´ll be the shame of their teachers.”
Tom sighed. “But now I really need some shut-eye. I´d say that was enough craziness for a single day.” He got up but wobbled visibly when he did his first steps. Larry and Paul immediately were beside him to brace him. Together they brought him to his bedroom. “Aw, home, sweet home,” Tom made with low voice, sounding almost drunk from what was in fact sheer fatigue.
“I think I better stay with him tonight,” Paul said to Larry and his worried wife. “In case he needs my help, you know. He´s never had a new body before, he wouldn´t know what to do in an emergency.”
Larry nodded, but he knew that he would spend this night before the door, in case something unusual happened. “Put Scott in one of the guest rooms. But not in the dungeon, please.” Tom grinned weakly while they stripped him, Moriko already having his old pajama ready. Larry carefully took his matrix ring he couldn´t wear while sleeping, enveloped into a handkerchief not to inadvertedly touch the matrix, and placed it onto the nightstand.
“You have a dungeon?” Scott asked, amazed.
“Of course I do. Every lair of a superbeing´s got one. That´s an important part of our image, you know.” Since anybody around him including Tom himself was grinning now Scott wasn´t too sure if that wasn´t a joke again. With this man anything was possible, that much he´d gotten by now.
Fully changed, Tom slumped onto his bed, sighed again - and was out like a light. Moriko carefully arranged the blanket over him. Larry looked at his peacefully sleeping master with an expression in his eyes that spoke almost of love. To his surprise he found a similar expression in Forrester´s face when he turned to him. 

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Re: Dr. Thomas A. Richards Reloaded
« Antwort #40 am: 2. September 2014, 16:50:38 Uhr »
“The few bites you got with your tea won´t keep you fed,” he said in a low tone, not to disturb Tom´s sleep. “I´ll order food for both of you at once.” Keeping the alleged alien always well fed certainly wouldn´t hurt, he thought.   
Forrester nodded. “I don´t want to leave him alone,” he said, looking at Tom. “Can we eat here?”
“No problem. You can eat, you can watch TV or hear music if you use the headsets” - he pointed towards the entertainment unit of this room-- “and we can get you a couch to sleep on. Mr. Richards has a habit of using all of his bed for himself at night.”
The bed was monster-sized and big enough to accomodate more than two average sleepers, but Larry wouldn´t let a stranger whom his boss had met just three days ago having body contact with him all night. Especially not when said stranger was male and in fact an alien from space. If his master wanted to have strange bedfellows he could do that when he was well and strong again. 
 
When Larry saw his master the following morning, he was puzzled. “Sir, what happened to you? You look - different.”
Tom happily smiled at him. “No I don´t, it just looks that way. I used  a little concealment field to make me looking like my old self. My Level Two is strong enough to do that. I´m still young and lusciously, you just can´t see it. And the directorates of my companies won´t see it too. It would raise too many questions if I turned up there after many years of absence looking like my own son. I´ve got a lot of catching up to do now.” With a short thought command he extinguished the deceiving appearance.
“Then you might need this, sir.” Larry didn´t grin when he presented Tom with one of his canes. But Tom grinned back, well knowing this was Larry´s decent way of making a joke. But he still took it. “Guess I´ll need it indeed. I was really out of it yesterday, wasn´t I?” 
Larry was too well trained to give an answer to that. He led his master downstairs to the huge livingroom instead of the dining hall where Tom usually took his breakfast, thus telling him that something was going on.
With a most dignified  “Master Tom is back!” Larry opened the door. Tom beamed when he saw his welcome comittee in the living room, almost all members of the Sambo Brown clan, the full- or partly-purebred Japanese bunch of Larry´s relatives and a few Caucasian faces too, ranging from a gray mouse-bookkeeper to a typical nerd with horsetail to three really wild looking, tattooed and bearded bikers and their fitting female companions.  And, of course, Scott and Paul and Moriko who all had been up long before him.
“Happy birthday to you,” they´d started singing upon his entry, but most voices trailed off when they noticed Tom´s looks. They stared at him and obviously couldn´t believe it. Yes, Larry had warned them before that Tom had changed, but not in which way...
Mac the tattooed biker was the first to react. “Well, will you look at that,” he roared. “He nose-dived into a pool filled with anti-aging cream! Dude, you´ve got to get me that receipe for my wife!”
“If she knew what I had to get through for this looks she´d wear her wrinkles with pride,” Tom replied, well knowing that the just as wild-looking and tattooed woman (still without wrinkles!) besides Mac was said wife. It was one of Mac´s habits to talk of his wife as if she wasn´t there. She loved him regardless. And right now she was laughing with the others when her husband made: “Oh, too bad.” 
Larry led Tom to his place at the well-filled table. The others could see that Tom needed his cane for real, and that he moved unusually weak, he was not at all his usual energetically self. They even noticed more.
“What happened to your magical wand?” Mac asked again, seeing there was no matrix in this cane´s hilt.
“It got destroyed. I´m back to the roots for now, so don´t ask me for miracles today,” Tom said, showing the golden ring on his left hand.
“Well, we all know what you did in the last years, even if we would deny everything if somebody asked us.  Must have been one hell you went through, if your wand didn´t make it,” Mac went at it again, knowing from experience how powerful the magical stone had been. He didn´t ask how or why it got destroyed, because he knew Tom would spill the tale one day when he was ready to talk about it.
“Is that cake for me?” Tom asked.  It was about the size of an old-fashioned cart wheel, enough to feed a real big family... like Tom´s crew assembled right now in this room, they would make short work of it. A single candle adored it, to celebrate his rebirth. Tom tried to blow it out and giggled childishly when the small flame stubbornly continued to relight itself. Of course, Larry had used a trick-candle, perfectly appropriately for somebody who´d just gotten reborn like the mythological phoenix from its fire.
He finally used his finger to extinguish it and reacted surprised, to the continued amusement of his audience, when he burned himself. He licked his finger and then buried it into the whipped cream of the wedge Larry quickly had carved for him. “Well, your eating manners at least haven´t suffered,” Mac laughed and declared the buffet opened, helping himself to the next huge piece of cake.
One of the servants appeared and spoke a few low words to Larry. He immediately came over to Tom. “Three men are waiting outside. They claim to be from the Federal Security Agency,” he whispered in Tom´s ear.
“Fine! The proper clowns for our party. Let them in!”
“Mr. Fox, Mr. Wylie, Dr. Keller,” he greeted them when they entered. “Couldn´t do a single day without me?”
“What´s going on here?” a puzzled Dr. Keller asked. He visibly felt unconfortable in the suit he had to wear in field service outside his lab. All three of them looked like alien elements in their suits among the casually clothed participants of the party.
“Just a little welcome party my friends and staff arranged for their returned slavedriver,” Tom answered friendly.  “Come, sit and have some cake, before they´ll eat it all up.”
“We wanted to talk to you in private...”
“We´re all quite private here. Anything you want to tell me they´ll get from me sooner or later anyway,” he said, nodding at their attentively audience. “And they all are quite used to strange stuff, I don´t think you could surprise them with anything. But you´re allowed to try, so please don´t restrict yourself.”
The agents hesitantly followed the invitation, seeing that Forrester and son were present, too.

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Re: Dr. Thomas A. Richards Reloaded
« Antwort #41 am: 8. September 2014, 13:29:06 Uhr »
“A nice house you have here, Mr. Wayne... sorry. Mr. Richards, of course.” Dr. Keller´s well-intended verbal error missed its mark, Tom just friendly grinned at him. “I haven´t done anything my staff wouldn´t be happy to deny,” he said. “I know why you´re here. You want to have another round of fun with me, huh?”
When the doctor reacted with a surprised expression he laughed: “My other me gave on anything of importance to me before we parted, including anything you did the day before yesterday.”
Dr. Keller still seemed amazed about how much alike this ex-superhero was to his older version from the other dimension, especially how sociable and merry. When he´d watched the super-human feats of Firebird on screen he´d always looked cool, remotely and distant, almost inhumanly in his lack of emotion.
“He also gave on to me what I needed to know and what to do, and that´s quite a lot. So I´m afraid I have to put you off for now. I have companies to see to, you know, or I´ll have to sell my staff into foreign slavery in order to keep this nice house.” He grinned, once again, surrounded by the grinning faces of said staff. “And there´s that hospital I bought. I didn´t have the time to take care of it before, but now it´ll play an important role in our future, not just for me but for Paul and Scott, too.”
“So you won´t give up on the-- uh, weird stuff?”
“Heck, no! I´d die of boredom. I`m just a little handicapped for now, but I´m no way out of the game. I already missed a few things which need to be looked in, and which I´ll have to catch up on. But you´re allowed to watch if you like. If you don´t mind a lot of boring sessions with my accountants and my tax preparer.”
“What about your, uh,  - guests?” He didn´t need to look at them to make Tom know whom he spoke of.
“Paul will be with me most of the time. I´m not letting him out of my eyes as long as I can´t make the proper safety arrangements for lack of the necessary tool.” Keller had already noticed the golden ring with the blue crystal, and he wondered about the strength of this matrix. Tom had talked about a “Level Two” which was actually much weaker than the Level Five he was used to, a children´s toy to a trained M-Tec. It was probably still stronger than anything a normal human being in his right mind wanted to mess with but not strong enough for what security measurements Tom wanted to provide to “his” alien.
“For Scott I thought of getting him a few good home teachers who´ll fill him in with anything he did miss in the last four years so he can finish high school and graduate in one final year.” He laughed all over when he saw the face Scott made. “Your years of happy freedom are over now, Mister! It´s back to the treadmill for you,” he said to the teenager. Turning back to the agents he continued: “But as the son of his father he should be able to catch up really quick. Then it´s off to college, in any direction he wants to go. His other version is studying medicine, you know, that doesn´t sound too bad for me.”
“Medicine? He´s becoming a doctor?”  Only now Scott started to realize what it really meant to be adopted into Tom Richards´ crew.  It meant having the world at your fingertips, in a literally sense.   
“I´ll give that on to the General. He might have some suggestions concerning those teachers you spoke of,” Dr. Keller said.
“I´ll take his suggestions into close consideration,” Tom smiled back. He knew what he would get, some of the best teachers he could find but pledged to the agency, and able shrinks in their secondary occupation charged with picking the brains of the son of a genuine alien. Well, as long as they did their main job well he wouldn´t care too much about the rest. 
“How are you feeling yourself?”
“Unpleasantly weak. So that´s what it´s like to be fully human again. I guess I´ll have to live with it for a while. Rome wasn´t built in a day, and it wouldn´t be rebuilt in one.”
“You said you´d try to get your abilities back--“
“This will take time and some preparations, and maybe it won´t work at all. It´s no use to wet yourself already, you´ll get it when the time is at hand.”
“And what are you planning to do until then, like today, if I may ask?”
“First, I´ll have an extensive look into the books of all my investments and companies. Then there´s that hospital you already know about. I have a few things to change there and new staff to hire my other me recommended. People who might be gifted enough to work matrices, you know. I also want to visit my relatives in Lyon´s Home once again. I don´t have many connections from the past few years, though, if you wanted to ask about that, I always saw to it that nobody would get connected to me in a meaning of friend or anybody else who could be abused for a little blackmailing. So, no, there´s no Lois Lane waiting for me somewhere, and no other damsel in distress.” He grinned at his guests, knowing this was something they certainly would have inquired about. 
“Mr. Fox, Mr. Wylie, are you ready to begin with your new job?” he asked then.
The agents nodded, Fox mirroring Wylie´s smile. After having had one night of surprisingly good sleep - as if he´d shed the day before a huge burden that he had carried with him all the time without even noticing - he felt good for every imaginably kind of mischief. Knowing that he´d be with Forrester and his son all day without having to fear they´d run from him again he probably would even get said mischief, carefully watching the antics of one Tom Richards, the alien and his son. Scott surely wouldn´t make it easy for him, the looks he threw at the agent were deadly enough to murder a herd of elephants.
Oh well. The day was still young, time enough for another round of incredible, unbelievable madness.--

- The End (for now) -