Once again thanks to Temporal Knight for betaing the first half of this chapter, his help is as always greatly appreciated. I wanted this chapter to lead back to Emily and Taylor having tea and just ranting about the idiocy of how the Bay was treated by the upper ups but honestly...this was just more fun, enjoy!
Madison walked down the sterile halls of the PRT headquarters beside Armsmaster and couldn't quite shrug off the awkward silence that permeated the air around them. Eventually she decided that despite being in the presence of her favorite hero this was a bit ridiculous.
"She was messing with you, you know that right?"
Armsmaster was silent for a moment, and then stiffly responded with, "Who are you referring to?"
Oh this was going to be…so much fun.
"Umbra, she is…well honestly extremely over protective of me, but she really was just yanking your chain, so really, please don't take anything she said at face value. She was just screwing with you and well, very likely flirting with and or teasing me, can't really decide which it was; damned blasé attitude…. Anyway don't take it too much to heart, alright?"
More awkward silence, "I see."
Madison winced internally; no he probably did not if their previous discussion was any proof, but moving on.
"Right… so where exactly are we going?"
"What you would call my public lab," Armsmaster replied. "The one that is allowed to be seen on tours and the like, please ignore the unnecessary bubbling beakers by the way, PR insisted on it for reasons that evade me. I have another more extensive and efficient lab on the Rig for security intensive projects that houses some of my more refined tools, yet this one will suffice for today's purposes."
She was going to Armsmaster's lab.
Madison was being escorted by Armsmaster to his lab!
She was very impressed by the fact that she wasn't giggling like a lunatic. Huzzah for self-control!
Before she could respond to that they stopped before a door that looked like it should be on the Enterprise-D, it slid aside after Armsmaster swiped a keycard over the reader, and the rooms now exposed contents made her eyes widen in glee.
Benches of tools, half finished projects, glass encased prototypes, and parts.
So so many unused parts!
Madison darted into the lab and picked up a piece that to the layman would just be junk and started twisting it about as she examined it, "Oh this is so cool! The capacitors are aligned in a manner that would allow them to all receive the same amount of power at once instead of acting like a simple series circuit but also bypassing the flaws of a parallel one. This is a self perpetuating oscillation dynamo charger isn't it?"
Armsmaster actually smiled lightly at that and responded with a hint of respect, "Yes, I attach them to my motorcycle's wheels to save any wasted energy on patrols for later."
Madison did not squee, she didn't, really.
"That is so fucking efficient! Err…sorry sir, freaking efficient."
She didn't know it, but that statement right there put her in the hero's good books for the long haul.
"Yes, yes it is, but that is beside the point, we are here to test out your kit if you are willing."
Hell the fuck yes she was willing! This was Armsmaster and he had her in his own lab to perform tests on her inventions and this was so fucking awesome!
Ok, ok, be cool Mads, what would Taylor do?
Ok what would dad do?
She took in a deep breath, and then smiled, "What would you like to test first?"
When she presented the Maglite Saber to him Armsmaster seemed unimpressed, then he double clicked the activation button and nearly dropped it as the meter long golden blade extended forth.
"Yeah…I really should have warned you about that. That one is on me," Madison opined, Armsmaster though was staring at the glowing blade in wonder.
"It is…beautiful… What spectrum does it operate on?"
Madison scowled at that, what, did he think she was a plebeian?
"It's the same as all of my creations; it oscillates along the entire light spectrum and locks on to the most effective one for the task at hand. Just like my death ray. Though my hardlight projectors are giving me a bit of a hard time I will admit."
"That is very impressive and, hold on you made a Death ray? Wait nevermind that, hardlight projectors?"
Madison nodded emphatically in return, "Yeah, both of our dads are dorks so they convinced us to have drones projections be Nega-Version's of the local Protectorate Heroes; so there has been a bit of convoluted coding involved making them look right. Honestly as much as I hate to admit it, it leaves my head spinning at times."
Armsmaster froze up, and then turned to look at Madison, "Nega-Versions?"
She let out a chuckle in embarrassment at his scrutiny then managed to mutter out, "The projections all have goatees, Miss Militia's is drawn on her scarf with a sharpie, and have abilities similar to their own. Or as well as I can copy it at the very least, it is after all still in the prototype stage."
Armsmaster was quiet for a time then asked, "This was not meant to be an insult to the Protectorate, was it?"
Madison nearly face faulted at that, "NO! No we just wanted to make something memorable that would be clearly showing we were with the good guys but that we also had a sense of humor. The drones that house the projections are all going to be controlled from the HUD in my visor and meant to simulate the real thing. They're kind of going to be a stop gap until I can build a suit of power armor, dad says he can help me convert an old auto repair garage for that but it'll take a bit of time…"
She was babbling, dammit Madison stop babbling!
Eventually Armsmaster asked, "What projection did you have planned for me, seeing as I already have a beard?"
She turned tomato red as she braced herself before replying, "Umbra came up with it actually, Nega-Armsmaster has surgically removed all of his body hair to become more effectively aerodynamic. His face is unnaturally smooth."
Dead silence, then much to her surprise Armsmaster let out a light chuckle as he picked up her death ray while shaking his head, "The thought had occurred to me once before oddly enough."
Madison blinked at that, "Wait, really?"
Examining the pistol in his hand he let out a 'mmhmm' before turning back to her, "Please keep in mind I had been awake for 72 hours and was on a blend of over caffeinated coffee that would likely kill a household pet at the time. That aside, yes, the thought had occurred, anything else I should know about Umbra's opinion of me?"
Madison slipped up, and wanted to bitch slap herself the second she began speaking, "Well she calls you my autistic senpai and…crap…"
Armsmaster froze up, then met Madison's gaze evenly, "I do not advertise my…condition openly, I assume it was through her pervasive control of shadows she discovered it?"
Wait, what the fuck?
"Uh…I can only assume sir…you aren't angry about it?"
"Was she being derisive when she stated it?"
"Umm...no not really, she was more or less teasing me about fan girling about the fact my favorite hero was interested in my inventions. Umbra rarely gets malicious unless there is a threat to me and or bullies are involved, then the gloves come off."
Armsmaster nodded at that as he played with the setting switch on the death ray, "Then there is no harm in it. I am aware of my faults and I have had to work twice as hard as my colleagues to reach the position I am in because of them. Yes I am autistic, but I am also the leader of the ENE Protectorate, apprenticed by Hero himself, nationally recognized as one of the greatest Tinkers in the nation, and I am even a collaborator and friend of Dragon, who I know you are well aware, is the greatest Tinker in the world. I am very proud of what I have accomplished so no, I take no offense of your girlfriend teasing you about being excited that I have taken interest in you."
Madison couldn't help letting out a sigh of relief as she nodded, "Oh, good, that's good I'm glad to hear it sir."
A moment later the far back wall slid aside and soon several pedestals extended out from the floor, their displays holding things like steel plates, blocks of ice, various composites and one very nervous looking chicken.
"So moving on, while the 'stun' and 'penetrate' settings are rather self explanatory I am very curious about this 'fuck you' setting. Would you be averse to allowing me to test it out?"
Madison grinned as she resisted the urge to squee…again.
"Not at all sir, just be sure not miss it can make a bit of a mess."
She nodded quickly adding, "It causes a photonic resonance molecular bond failure on the target in question, more or less reducing it into its base elements, it can get a bit messy honestly."
Armsmaster eyed the pistol in hand then glanced at the chicken, "Hmm…interesting…"