Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Angelique » Thu Jul 03, 2008 9:09 pm

Battle by the Numbers

“So,” seethed Wolverine, as he and Nightcrawler marched down the corridors of Xavier Mansion, “Trask’s killer robots now trash an entire town looking for a mutant, and what does the Professor do? Send us out not to take them on with Colossus, Rogue, or any other heavy hitters, but to sniff around with the little math geek we only rescued last month!”

“I must admit I’m a little confused as to why he’d send only us with Theano, and with no more instructions other than to keep her safe,” said Nightcrawler.

Wolverine snorted. “I can understand needing to keep her safe. She’s too green. I’ve seen better fighting skills from some of ‘Roro’s plants.”

I had heard that Wolverine could be a tough leader. I also heard that he had a strange way of showing how protective he was of the newest recruits and refugees like me who found our way here, usually these days after being driven out of our homes and towns by sentinels. Had it even mattered, his harsh words would not have surprised me. Nightcrawler, on the other hand, had praised my ability to keep cool and think quickly in the Danger Room. The odds of him really meaning that under the circumstances were better than usual, but there was always the chance that it was mere flattery, too. I’ve heard of his way with the ladies, though it’s 6 to 1 I’m not his type anyway. I, Ellen Somerville, aka Theano, am neither tall nor shapely, though not unattractive if I consider the observations of a few men who, I estimated, had dispensed with much of the usual bias against skinny nerd-girls who prefer working on a second math doctorate to working out or even just hanging out. I also draw my greatest strength from the only things that have always made sense to me in a world gone mad - numbers.

Nightcrawler allegedly killed his own brother in a fight to protect innocent children. The most painful decision I had to make up until now was whether to stay on forever at my parents’ insurance company or go back to grad school. The chances of my being able to relate to him I believe are, at the moment, precisely at 0.000000000002 percent.

“I’ve calculated the odds as 11.5461 to 1 in favor of it coming down to a fight, and decreasing the longer we wait. However, the chances of people tampering with the scenes increase with time, and the ‘heavy hitters’ will just cause more collateral damage,” I explained rather pointlessly as I met them by the hangar, digital video camera and notepad complete with a pen haphazardly jammed in it in hand.

“And you need an accurate tally of the damage the sentinels alone have caused,” Wolverine almost growled as we began boarding the Blackbird. “Chuck already gave us that briefing.”

“Out of curiosity,” Nightcrawler asked, “why are you bringing all this along? I thought you had a photographic memory. And aren’t these the sort of calculations you can easily do in your head?”

“Yes, but my reports will need documentation,” I replied.

“And somehow I don’t think the people who will see these ‘reports’ will just take her word of honor that she added everything up right, Elf,” Wolverine added. “Good thinkin’, Slide Rule, but this still ain’t like adjustin’ claims.”

Was that a compliment? And he didn’t call me Toothpick this time! Of course, I don’t look as much like one now as I did when I first came here. Nightcrawler pretty quickly developed a charming way of insisting I could not, as he put it, “live on coffee and Pascal alone” as he offered me an extra plate of whatever he was having. Wolverine made a much less charming habit of literally dragging me away from my theses to the Danger Room to “put some meat on those scrawny bones.” It worked, a little.

Nightcrawler gave me an odd look as we took to the air. “Not to worry, Liebchen,” he whispered. “I think you’ll do just fine.”

A nice vote of confidence, but as his eyes lingered just a bit, I suspected the odds that he was actually beginning to notice and appreciate the results of taking all that time away from my studies to eat and train were…entirely irrelevant to me, as I had a mission to complete!

[Edited on 3/7/2008 by Angelique]
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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Elfdame » Thu Jul 03, 2008 11:09 pm

Yummy story already - I love it!

"Slide rule" Yeek! Wolverine and I are both ancients! And what a perfect nickname.

This is gonna be another great Challenge season; I can feel it in my bones.

Go, girl, go!
"Humanity is a parade of fools, and I am at the front of it, twirling a baton." From Chapter 9 of _Brother Odd_ by Dean Koontz / from Chapter 10: "Life you can evade; death you cannot."

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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Angelique » Sun Jul 06, 2008 9:16 pm

Still, I figured I’d fare much better if I took any vote of confidence at face value. After all, the chances were still good that I’d face a familiar enemy.

It’s difficult for even me to fathom that only a month ago, I thought I was as average as any mathematician whom MENSA ever courted could get. In high school, my teachers whispered words to my parents like “genius,” “prodigy,” and even “human calculator,” and my peers called me “geek” and “brainiac.” Thankfully that eased up in college and even more in grad school, but I won’t take that tangent. Not a one of us suspected I was anything other than just that, so my first actual meeting with a sentinel on my way to class came as a particular shock to me.

“Mutant signature detected. Apprehend immediately,” the robotic voice boomed.
I only wanted to be well out of the way when it found the unfortunate mutant it sought, and made a run for the nearest cover I could find.

“Halt, mutant,” the voice boomed again as the sentinel, cracking the quad’s pavement beneath its metal feet, began lumbering after… me.

“Mutant target noncompliant. Initiating pursuit.”

So the odds that this was some mistake were 1 in 259,547. I determined that the chances of me just allowing it to catch me were about… zero as I darted into the nearest building and the first empty classroom I could find. I took a moment to get my breath then shakily grabbed my cell phone to dial 911. The odds of that helping were 5.6243 to 1 against, but I had to do something while this thing tore up the campus.

“Mutant target detected.” A large hand burst through the windows and a good portion of an unfortunately load bearing wall as the sentinel proceeded to demolish the building. Once again I attempted a run for it. I got precisely 15 feet and 4.5 inches before the whole ceiling and much of the classroom above me came down on my head.

“Mutant threat neutralized,” the voice boomed.
There was a chance that I might have been hallucinating, but just as the world faded out around me, I thought I heard a gruff voice shout, “Yeah? Well, neutralize this, Tin Man!”
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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Angelique » Sat Jul 12, 2008 4:25 am

I was awakened two hours later and heard the diagnosis of multiple contusions, abrasions, and lacerations (all totaling 17, by the way), plus a minor concussion. There were a few, as I learned another four hours later, who weren’t as lucky. A student who fell from the second floor broke his leg. Another broke her back in three places. A professor on the first floor was in critical condition with severe head trauma. A student aide, badly crushed under the rubble, died while being extricated. 52 others required treatment for injuries similar to mine.

“Why do you need to know all that at now?” wondered the first and scariest looking of these X-Men I’d met, whose own aptitude for numbers I would soon envy because it, as well as his knowledge of most other sciences and fine literature, was acquired the hard way. “Your first priority at this moment should be your continued recovery.”

“I have my reasons, Dr. McCoy.”

But returning to the university to finish my business was not, at the moment, a good idea. Rumors circulating that a mutant provoked the sentinel and deliberately led it onto the campus, that the X-Men knocked the building down and killed that poor aide, and that a mutant genius, with her excessively high grades, skewed the grading curve against her classmates made that environment much too hostile even for my comfort. The odds that we’d face trouble not from sentinels, but from students were far too great. And I couldn’t even head back west to see my own parents!

“You’re safer with these X-Men,” Mom said. The odds were 99.9999998% that she really meant, “We’re safer without you luring a sentinel to our doorstep.”

The only one in my family who was okay with this recent discovery of mine was my slacker big brother, but he was likely under the influence of three separate substances when I told him. “That robot was after you? Freaky, Sis,” Donny said, sounding 75 times more impressed than he should have.

And so here we were. Point Pleasant, New Jersey. According to my briefing, a mutant with whom Professor Xavier had been in contact had been accosted by a sentinel while on her way to work at Jenkinson’s Aquarium. I took a shaky breath. If I thought Cal Berkeley looked bad after my own “incident,” based on appearances, this was on a scale 21.973 times as bad. A pure swath of destruction stretched from two miles inland all the way out to the sea, and what I heard was once a lovely boardwalk was nearly obliterated.

I popped on my sunglasses. While I did have a uniform, my work here was to be kept as undercover as possible, and so the idea was to protect my identity while also not resembling a masked superheroine. Instead, I wore black slacks with a blazer over my white blouse, calculated to project an authoritative and professional image while also being practical in the event of a fight, if not for the 90 degree weather forecast for later today. Thankfully, it was still early in the morning. The cool fog that had rolled in from the ocean and blanketed the rubble, looking all the more phantasmal for all the smoldering fires and the spinning red and blue fire engine and police lights that reflected off of it, had yet to burn off.

“Ya ready for this, kid?” Wolverine asked.
“50% would be a liberal estimate,” I admitted.
“Heh. Don’t get overconfident, Darlin’,” he replied, clapping me on the shoulder.

As a possible testimony to the training I’d been given, I didn’t cringe in pain this time.

“And we don’t let her out of our sight,” I overheard Nightcrawler say, as I disembarked and disappeared into the fog.
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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Angelique » Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:08 am

“I’m sorry, Miss,” barked a police officer as I ducked under the crime scene tape. “Authorized personnel only beyond this point.”

I pulled out a business card. “I’m with All Seasons Insurance. Looks like there are some major claims here I need to investigate.”

Hey, my parents said I couldn’t come home to visit. They didn’t say I could no longer adjust claims.

“You don’t say,” he said, pocketing my card. “All right, then. What all do you need to know?”

“Do you have any reports from eyewitnesses?” I got my camera out and continued walking, recording the devastation while making mental calculations.

“Not very much,” he replied. “Most everyone was asleep when it started, but I can have HQ send you the dispatch transcripts.”

“Did you see any of this take place?” I asked.
He shook his head. “By the time we got here, it was about over. All I saw was this girl run across the beach and dive into the water and the robot fired bolts of something at her. It then took off and flew out back and forth over the shore before finally flying away…

“…hey!” He shouted running back to the perimeter, as he spotted Nightcrawler and Wolverine on the scene, obviously under no cover. “Your kind can’t be here!”

“Can and are, bub,” Wolverine growled, menacingly.
Nightcrawler nudged Wolverine aside. “With all due respect, Herr Officer, this also being a mutant concern, we were called in to assist the investigation.”

“But …”
“We got a name and address.” Wolverine slid the officer a piece of paper. “We think that’s your girl. Ya might want to check her house, if it’s still standing.”

“But…”
Nightcrawler interjected, “If our information is correct, Jamie Connelly is indeed a mutant, and there is a chance that she is still alive and is so far eluding all search efforts. If so, she may already be home packing her bags to leave town.”

“Not meaning to interrupt,” I said, as I continued filming, “but taking all that into consideration, there’s a good chance that sentinel will be back, anyway. I’d just as soon have a couple of mutants who’ve dealt with them before here should that happen. Besides, it doesn’t look like they could cause much more damage here, anyway.”

The officer nearly gave himself whiplash, snapping my way, mouth agape, before he pulled himself together. “Ah… okay, then.” He then looked back to Wolverine and Nightcrawler. “But you’ll split at the first sign of trouble.”

Wolverine growled, but Nightcrawler, getting his real meaning, replied, “Of course. If it gets to the point that our presence endangers this fine lady or any of your officers, we will leave.”

[Edited on 22/7/2008 by Angelique]
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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Angelique » Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:09 am

Fine lady? Fine lady? What were the odds that he meant that? And just why did I find the charms and offhand pleasantries of a funny-looking guy who smelled a bit like a hot spring and with whom I had only two things in common so distracting? Why did these immaterial questions plague me, and now, of all times? I cleared my throat. “So,…” I checked his badge, “…Chief Kowalski, what all do you know?”

So Kowalski sent a couple of detectives to check out Miss Connelly’s address and told me everything he could as he offered me an- entirely superfluous, by the way- hand as we stepped through the rubble of Elizabeth Avenue and made our way gradually seaward. “Word is that the whole boardwalk was destroyed, all but for the aquarium. Thankfully, none of the businesses had opened yet, so we don’t have many casualties reported from there. This area, on the other hand…”

Wolverine’s nose twitched as we paused in front of a home partially demolished and spewing smoke, on which the escapees, a couple and their three children still choked.

“My mom had a stroke and can’t walk! You have to go back for her!” the woman cried hoarsely.

A firefighter made a pathetic attempt at explaining that the house was about to come down, and they couldn’t go back in.

“…is gonna have a lot more if we just walk around talking!” Wolverine shouted, making a break for the house, claws extended.

I dropped Kowalski’s hand to take off after Wolverine, then rethought that and looked anxiously toward Nightcrawler. How could I tell him the odds that Wolverine would not make it out with that poor woman without blowing my cover? “Nightcrawler,” I said, “I think they’re right about the house.”

He stepped up and gave my shoulder a reassuring squeeze. “Don’t go anywhere,” he said, quickly studying the house in an attempt to catch a glimpse of what took place inside.

“So this was the work of one sentinel?” I asked, rather rhetorically as I silently added up the cost of treating four cases of mild to severe smoke inhalation and first and second degree burns plus one more such case if not a funeral and wrongful death damages.

“Best as we can tell,” replied Kowalski, “yes.”
“I got her!” I could barely hear Wolverine shout from what I guess used to be the house’s entry way.

I gasped as it became apparent he would not defy the odds. With a groan that quickly turned into a crashing roar, the front of the house began to cave. Nightcrawler immediately vanished in that cloud of sulfuric smoke, but reappeared with the woman in his arms and Wolverine standing beside him.

“They saved Grandma!” the youngest child, a girl who I estimated to be five years and two months old, squeaked with excitement. “Those superheroes saved Grandma!”

“It was my pleasure,” said Nightcrawler, as he set the grandmother upon a waiting stretcher, ignoring the jaundiced looks the parents gave him.

“Just doin’ our jobs,” said Wolverine, as he ran off, apparently sniffing out another impending tragedy. “C’mon, Elf, let’s make ourselves useful.”
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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Rowena » Sun Aug 10, 2008 12:55 pm

Sentinels! Yay! I'm really glad you chose this prompt. You've got the start of a good team dynamic building here, and your character's numerical ability is really interesting. Thanks so much for entering! I'm looking forward to reading what happens next! :D
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~The Doctor, Survival

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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Angelique » Mon Aug 11, 2008 4:56 am

And so they busied themselves helping with the rescue and- I hate to say- recovery operations, Nightcrawler occasionally casting concerned glances my way as they dashed off to the aid of another distressed soul.

“Relax, Elf,” I overheard Wolverine say. “Kowalski’s with her, and I don’t think he’ll let anything bad happen.” As overprotective as Wolverine could be, his mission to keep me safe did not override his obligation to help others, not to mention his general instinct to sniff out trouble and plow right into the thick of it.

Kowalski was quite solicitous toward me, to the point at which I began to find it slightly grating. “So, Doctor Hyp… Hype...,” he stammered, pulling out my, if you haven’t already figured, not entirely authentic All Seasons card, complete with updated information and my full alias, struggling with my supposed surname.

“Hypatiakis,” I said. “But you can just call me Theano.”
“Theano,” he said, as if my name were an exotic wine he tasted for the first time, “where do you get a name like that?”

“Greece,” I replied, tersely. Actually, in my case, only from my desire to pay tribute to some favorite ancient Greek mathematicians, but I had neither the time nor desire to explain. If, as Wolverine said, fighting skills are not my forte, making small talk is much less so. Nightcrawler had to make a game of it over one of those lunches I was far too polite to decline.

“Could you describe your best friend for me?” he asked.
“Not unless you count Euler, my compass.” I replied.
“Your compass?”
“Why not? It’s always dependable. Even when things are tough, it always draws a perfect circle, and I get an answer that always makes sense, yet is always different depending on how many places I feel like calculating pi.” I continued eating, wondering just why I felt so comfortable telling someone with looks like, well, Nightcrawler and whom I’d known at that point only one week, five days, two hours and one minute about my sentimental attachment to a relic of grade school geometry.

“All right. It’s your turn,” Nightcrawler reminded me. “You have to ask me a question now.”

A question? What did I want to know about him that he could possibly answer? “Well, there is one,” I smiled, inwardly hoping I was underestimating his chances of understanding, “about your hands.” About those strange, tridactyl extremities. “Do you find that senary numeral systems make more sense to you than base ten?”

So when Kowalski, between trying to help where he could and his walkie buzzing with more developments, went on about his buddy Papagiorgiou also being Greek and how maybe he should introduce us, I have to confess I felt almost relieved when what passed for casual conversation between us was interrupted.

“Chief!” The radio practically leapt out of his hand. “Port Authority just picked up a near drowning out by the Brooklyn pier. She refused medical attention. Said she didn’t want robots following her to a hospital. Never mind that she would have had to swim all that way in less than two hours, what you wanna bet she’s our girl?”

Wolverine paused for a moment while using his claws on a smashed car in lieu of the jaws of life to sniff, his mouth pressed and a peculiar light shining in his eyes. I had heard about that kind of almost-smile, and that I would not like what it meant. “Let’s hope they don’t find out, Chief,” he shouted.

“Who?”
All Kowalski heard in reply was a roar that drowned out all the helicopters, sirens, all the other noise, followed by a boom and a series of cracks.

“Mutant signature detected. Apprehend immediately.”
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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Angelique » Thu Aug 21, 2008 4:42 am

Jamie Connelly had the right idea, making a run for the beach, luring the sentinel away from people’s homes and apparently away from her beloved aquarium too. If we couldn’t get immediately back to the Blackbird and out of this mess, at least I could take the battle someplace safer. Besides, I figured while the footage might be nauseating, I’d get enough documentation filming as I bolted, thanking Wolverine in silence broken only by my labored breathing for yanking me away from my desk or the whiteboard.

“Evacuate the whole neighborhood!” I could hear Kowalski bellow into his walkie. “I want everyone who can be moved out of here, NOW!”

“And pull your own men back too, Chief,” Wolverine shouted, as he and Nightcrawler took off after me.

“Confirming mutant identity.” Once again, I had a sentinel on my trail, and chances were 100% that it would match my signature to one another had detected a month ago on the opposite coast. Wolverine might have been pleased at how I wove through and hurdled over the rubble, but not at how I stumbled as my feet finally hit the sand. I rolled to see a monstrous metal hand shoot out a stream of cable my way.

“Mutant threat confirmed. Requesting directive.”
Wolverine didn’t wait for it to process whatever directive it requested. “Port me up there, Elf!” he yelled, grinning, claws extended. I didn’t wait, either. I hadn’t gotten as much information in writing as I needed, but this information needed to be recorded one way or another, cover or none at this point. Kowalski wasn’t yet in earshot anyway. I rolled away, narrowly avoiding entanglement, and back up to my feet. “With the loss of ten residences and twelve businesses, five vehicles, and damage to two miles of road and the boardwalk, I estimate property damages will top $40 million, excluding lost work and the cost of emergency shelter,” I huffed, still filming as I took off running, dodging another cable. “Medical expenses and wrongful death damages for the 68 known casualties will likely exceed $220 million.”

“Directive received.” the voice boomed. “Terminate immediately.”

“I think not!” Nightcrawler yelled.
I then immediately felt a small, warm gust of slightly geothermal air, arms wrapped around me, and then the sensation of being simultaneously punched in the stomach and pulled to pieces while my mind took a completely different tangent.

R= 3,963 a = 0.6846108
(π/4) × sin(a)
(2 × π/24) × R × (cos (a + .15/R) – cos (a))
Ω˜ R × ∑….


I now understood the applied mathematics of teleportation, but figured I’d have to wait to work more on that. The triumph and queasiness alike quickly passed. I was somewhere else, and now all I felt were arms still around me, lips pressed ardently to mine. “While you’ve been calculating costs, Liebste,” Nightcrawler murmured as he retreated, tenderly brushing a strand of my mousy hair out of my face, “I thought you should know that I find you priceless.”

1111 1000 11011 1111 11011…. *

* "Oh, wow..."


[Edited on 25/8/2008 by Angelique]
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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Angelique » Mon Aug 25, 2008 4:09 am

“Kurt…” I dropped the video camera, forgetting in the moment all the horrors around us as well as the use of code names, my mind still reeling in binary, my desperate grip upon him melting seemingly on its own into a genuine embrace.

“Ellen,” he said, likewise abandoning the use of my code name, silly terms of endearment, even that ridiculously formal Fräulein Professorin Doktor Somerville as a serious pall descended upon him, “you have to go.”

“No…” I couldn’t help protesting feebly as Kurt ported away and back again with Kowalski.

“Get her out of here, Chief!” he shouted. “Wolverine and I will cover your retreat.”

Kowalski, despite looking quite literally green, paused only to nod before grabbing me by the arm and taking off running, while Nightcrawler ported back into battle.

“Wait!” I scooped up the camera before being half dragged off.

“Aggressive mutant threats engaged,” the sentinel boomed, apparently in response to Wolverine, dangling by his claws from the sentinel’s leg.

“Glad you could make it, Elf,” I heard Wolverine yell. “Didn’t want you to miss taking on the Tin Man while you were smoochin’ Slide Rule.”

Was?
“I can smell her lipstick, Pal.”

I didn’t hear the rest of this banter, but as Kowalski and I ran back toward the street, I saw Wolverine now in the sentinel’s hand driving his claws into its thumb, and Nightcrawler climbing up, porting off, darting here and there in hopes of keeping that metallic monster off balance.

Now to address any misconceptions one might entertain about me, it’s not as if I’d never been kissed before, but this was… different. He seemed to respect me and earned my respect in turn. He didn’t add up to be the sort of guy who would dump me for beating him in state math finals. My extensive orthodontia long since replaced by a couple of fixed retainers, I wasn’t apprehensive about my braces getting caught. In fact, I wasn’t nervous at all.

I was terrified.

Unless that display of affection was a product of Kurt getting caught up in the moment of rescuing a damsel in distress, I had to consider the chance that while calculating what little he and I had in common, I had overlooked one unquantifiable yet critical variable. It explained the interest Kurt took in my well-being and the time he wished to spend with me and not just helping me train. It explained why I enjoyed his company and why the odds of us ever being able to relate even mattered to me. It occurred to me that Nightcrawler, who now dodged particle beams fired from the robotic hand Wolverine was not trying to saw off, would die for me, mission or no mission, and I could not just run away and let that happen.

If my estimation was correct this time, this variable on both sides made a reciprocal equation of us.

“I can’t leave!” I yelled, wrenching myself free of Kowalski’s grip, running back toward the beach.

“And I can’t another mutie running around making things worse!” Kowalski shouted, running after me.

“I beg your pardon!” I snapped.
“So what is it you do,” Kowalski continued, “blow stuff up? Control people’s minds?”

I had to take a moment to calculate. Nightcrawler once suggested that I needed a catch phrase or otherwise adopt some appropriate witticisms in order to fight crime with a little dramatic flair. Storm could deliver divine edicts to the weather. Beast could banter in iambic pentameter. What could I do? Recite polynomial sequences?

“You won’t find me easy to kill, bub,” Wolverine shouted. “I’m the best at what I do.”

The latter part of that statement may have applied to me, but no. That would not have the affect I needed.

“And you’ll have to catch me first, du metallischer Übeltäter*,” Nightcrawler taunted. Besides the fact that I didn’t speak any German other than the few words I learned from Kurt, that didn’t really reflect my powers or quite how I felt at the moment.

“Halt, sentinel!” I screamed, striding up ever closer to my mechanized nightmare. “I’m the ‘mutant threat’ you want. Fear me, you jealous reject of MIT robotics. I am Theano, and mine is the power of MATH!”

*"you metallic miscreant."

[Edited on 25/8/2008 by Angelique]
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Rowena
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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Rowena » Thu Aug 28, 2008 2:20 pm

I really love how your character thinks in math. Her power really is fascinating. I'm sorry to hear this'll likely be your last work of fanfiction, but if the ending's as good as the rest of this story you'll certainly be going out on a high note! Don't forget the deadline's Aug. 30. If you need more time, though, please let me know!

Congratulations on your new writing job!!! :D
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei

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Angelique
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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Angelique » Sat Aug 30, 2008 2:05 am

“What the- they’re now hunting down math geeks?! Since when are they so dangerous?” Kowalski roared, bolting past me, drawing his gun with one hand, walkie with the other. “I need everyone available to back me up, now!”

I was impressed with how quickly several of the police officers responded.
The sentinel also responded, dropping Wolverine from its now badly damaged hand, giving Nightcrawler a brief reprieve.

“Stand down, officers,” the sentinel boomed, directing his attention particularly to Kowalski, who now stood valiantly, if rather pointlessly, with his gun aimed at it. “My programming is to uphold federal law.”

Kowalski swore. “No badge, no jurisdiction, and especially no authority to do this!”

I saw Wolverine nudge Nightcrawler and glance briefly toward that right hand, hanging almost now by only a couple of cables.

“You have been warned,” the sentinel droned, raising its undamaged hand, ejecting from its palm several small metal balls to roll among the gathered officers, releasing their anesthetic payload.

“Fall back!” I cried.
“How about that law against assaulting police?” Wolverine charged in. “Not to mention all those other ones you broke today.”

Nightcrawler took his cue and ported up to the sentinel's right arm, then back down with several yards of bundled cable in his hands, a foot, and his tail, spinning out of the way barely in time as the sentinel’s severed hand and no small number of small parts thudded into the sand.

“Sentinel 41 critically damaged. Returning to base for repairs,” it said. It then took off, much to my relief, and went away.

Kowalski, understandably out of sorts, opened his mouth to share some pointed words, but rethought that as he tottered woozily on his feet. I couldn’t blame him for that at all. I wasn’t feeling very with it, myself.

“Sorry…” I coughed.

“Who’ll see this… really?” Kowalski sat hard in the sand, apparently too preoccupied with staying conscious to show how angry he was about my little deception.

“…Congress…”

He managed to get one more word out before passing out. “Good.”

[Edited on 1/9/2008 by Angelique]
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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Angelique » Sun Aug 31, 2008 3:47 am

And so went my first field mission as a member of the X-Men. All that remained was to sort through the dispatch transcripts, write out and itemize all the estimated damages from Point Pleasant and Cal Berkeley, send the reports as well as a copy of the film footage to the House and Senate appropriations committees, and I had that done by the end of the day.

Nightcrawler was off working on some project with that Shadowcat girl.

Meanwhile, there was still that unfinished second doctorate, but my chances of getting much work done on that proved to be zero. My phone rang. My new roommate Jamie took the liberty of answering it as she breezed in from a training session and a shower.

“Hello, this is Selkie!” she chimed, reveling way too much in her new code name.
“No code names on my phone!” I hissed. “You don’t know who that is!”
“It’s for you anyway.” She blithely handed me the phone, her long, dark hair dripping water onto my books, then began digging through her clothes.

“This is Dr. Somerville,” I said.
“Dr. Somerville, I have some concerns about the reports you sent Congress. You are, I hope, aware that some mutants can cause damages equal to or greater than what you claim the sentinels have caused in Berkeley and Point Pleasant.”

“I am,” I replied, sounding 573 times more composed than I felt at the moment. “But may I remind you that 22 people were killed, a town was declared a disaster area, and over 4 hundred million dollars worth of damage were caused by two sentinels in failed attempts to apprehend and kill a mutant whose powers are remembering things and being really good at math and one who can turn into a seal.”

“Atlantic harbor seal!” Jamie made sure to specify, as she quickly changed. “Hey, El, I’m going to pick up some Japanese for dinner. Want anything?”

Jamie insisted that part of her mutation included desperate cravings for sashimi. I shook my head.

There came a knock on the door.
“Come in,’ Jamie chirped, now running a comb through her hair.
“Hallo, Jamie. Ellen- oh!” Kurt stopped, realizing I was still on the phone. “Jamie, please tell Ellen that I’d like the honor of celebrating the success of our mission with her. I’ll be back in fifteen minutes.”

I put the phone down just as he departed. Jamie didn’t even allow me the second I needed to process the whole conversation. She sighed loudly.

“I don’t care how he looks. He’d have me just with the accent. And you,” she said, bodily dragging me out of my chair, “are lucky enough to have a date with him in fifteen minutes. What are you waiting for?”

“A date?”

1111 1000 11011 1111 11011….

“A date. Or did you hear him say, ‘Logan und I zought Ellen vould like to join us für a beer to celebrate’?” she said, imitating Kurt’s accent atrociously while she rifled now through my clothes with a disapproving expression. “You need to get ready. You can’t go looking like you’ve just been in a fight. You got anything more appropriate than this?”

Fifteen minutes later, I was grateful for Jamie’s fussy assistance. I finally stepped out freshened up, hair tidied and pinned up, and in my best black dress accessorized with the pearl necklace and earrings my mother was gracious enough to send with the rest of my things. Jamie had finally left to get her raw fish fix, but not before mentioning that she’d want to hear all the details tomorrow. And then Nightcrawler arrived. In a tuxedo. With a dozen roses in hand.

1111 1000 11011 1111 11011 1111 1000 11011 1111 11011….

“Hi,” I squeaked, accepting the flowers, and then his arm.
“Hallo, beautiful,” he said, as he began to escort me through the corridors and staircases even I still found somewhat labyrinthine. “So what was that phone call about?”

The phone call? The phone call! That’s right! “Oh, the president’s issued an executive order immediately suspending the sentinel program. Didn’t want to lose New Jersey and California in the upcoming election.”

“I knew it. Another reason to celebrate. Logan,” he called to the feral who, with Cyclops’ keys in hand was apparently on his way out as well, “did you hear that?”

“What don’t I hear around this crazy joint?” he replied. “Sure did. Looks like you hit ‘em right where it hurt, Slide Rule.”

“In the pocketbook,” I smiled before Kurt led me down yet another few stairways.
“So, the Danger Room?” I wondered, contemplating how overdressed we were for any training. “Are we celebrating with a James Bond simulation or something?”

“No, but that’s an excellent idea.” He smiled as we entered, then pressed a couple of buttons. The lights dimmed, some jazz music came on, and the blank white walls gave way to images reminiscent of a luxurious yet intimate supper club. “So after dinner, I hope you’ll enjoy some dancing.”

“Actually,” I said, blushing slightly, “I do like dancing. The physics, the geometry…”

“And with the right partner,” Kurt added, raising my hand to his lips, “the chemistry.”
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Angelique
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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Angelique » Tue Sep 16, 2008 8:09 pm

Okay, with the challenge voting nearly over, and this being my final posted fic, there will soon be no more opportunities for you all to see and critique any new amateur stuff of mine, so have at it, please.

What could I do to set my stories heads and shoulders above the rest?
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Summer Challenge: Battle by the Numbers

Post by Angelique » Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:48 am

Oh, and in honor of Pi Day, I thought it might be appropriate to revisit this old fic. :)
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