Chapter 5: Your Friendly neighborhood Scientist
Pantsman led Leo and Aeris towards the industrial side of town. As the walked, Leo noticed that the area they were walking into looked rundown, but not decaying. They walked further in and started to see less, and less people around. "Pantsman, I don't feel like getting mugged today." Leo stated nervously. "Don't worry, we passed the safe zone boundaries five blocks back." Pantsman reassured Leo. "That just sounds more ominous. You're not helping." Leo growled. "Relax. Have I ever led you astray? You know what? Don't answer that. Just know that the guy that's gonna help us keeps a tight reign on this part of the town."
Leo walked in silence for the rest of the way, all the while making sure he had a tight grip on Aeris' hand as he went. He glanced down and was surprised to see that, instead of being frightened by their surroundings, she was more fascinated than scared.
After a few more blocks, they arrived in front of an old warehouse. Pantsman walked over to one of the large doors and knocked. After a few seconds an intercom crackled to life. "Who is it? What do you want?" An irritated voice questioned. "It's me Stratos, Pantsman." Pantsman answered hesitantly. There was a pause before the voice answered. "Oh, great. Give me a second." The voice responded. Pantsman turned to Leo and Aeris. "You two might want to stand back." Leo was going to argue but since he had Aeris with him he declined to do so and complied with the request. After a few more seconds the door opened with a groan and a screech. "Keep your distance." Pantsman warned as they walked in.
The interior of the warehouse was entirely different than the exterior. The walls were covered in metal plating that gleamed in the light, the floor was a polished concrete that was clean in shiny. There were various tables and computer consoles along the wall and the warehouse appeared to be separated into multiple rooms by walls added after it's construction. The trio entered the next room, but as Pantsman got to the center of the room, a whirring came from the ceiling as the 2 tiles moved away to allow a machine gun turret to come down and aim at Pantsman who just raised his arms and waited patiently. Leo was prepared to make a run for it, but stopped when he noticed the turret didn't appear to be to going to turn Pantsman into Swiss cheese anytime soon and seemed to be just keeping him where he was.
After a couple of tense minutes, at least for Leo and Aeris. The one of the doors slid open and a figure in a lab coat walked out with an unhappy look on his face. "What is so important that you would decide it is safe for you to come back here so soon?" The young man asked the surrendering superhero. "Calm down Stratos, my friend here needs your help and you are literally the only person around here that can help them." Pantsman replied calmly. "Calm down? CALM DOWN?! I leave my base in your care for three whole days, and when I get back, I find that you used my experimental Hypernet up-link satellite system to stream HD porn and hentai Manga! Which, I apparently have to remind you, all has to be re-formatted into a readable file, by Vivian, the most advanced AI on the planet." Stratos practically screamed at the sweating masked man. "And do you know why this is a problem?" Stratos calmly asked, to which Pantsman weakly shook his head no. "Fine, then I will enlighten you. Vivian, activate holo-emitters in the receiving room. I want you to say hello to our guests."
A few seconds passed, during which, Leo had started to think Stratos was just plain crazy. Then, a very slight buzzing could be heard and a figured shimmered into existence. The figgure manifested itself in the form of a well endowed young woman in tight fitting pants, and shirt appeared to be one size too small, at least. Leo also thought he saw a tail and wings on her back, but wasn't quite sure until she turned to face Stratos. "You wanted to see me sir?" She asked in a voice that was borderline flirty. Stratos sighed before replying. "Yes, I wanted to you to say hello." He replied. She turned to Pantsman and waved before moving on to greet Leo with a smile and a "Hello" before she saw Aeris and gave a soft squeal and picked her up in a hug. "You are so cute! What is a little cutie like you doing in a place like this!" She asked in an excited voice. Stratos cleared his throat to get her attention. "Yes, Vivian, why don't you take, Aeris was it? To the, oh I don't know, the training room, and play with her while I talk to these to gentlemen." Stratos asked. Vivian looked like she had just seen the presents under the tree on Christmas morning and drug Aeris, who stopped resisting after an encouraging look from Leo, out of the room.
After the girls had bee gone for a few good seconds Pantsman spoke. "That, was Vivian? That emotionless voice that kept reminding me that I was accessing unapproved material is her?" He asked in confusion. Stratos took a couple of deep breaths and answered. "Yes, that, is Vivian. She was developed to grow, learn, and think. Ever since you exposed her to that content, she has undergone massive changes, most obvious being that body she created for herself." He explained. Leo, noticing something he did not understand, asked a question. "How does she interact with things in the real world like she did if she is just a hologram?" He asked. Stratos sighed and started to try and knead the headache he felt forming out of his head as he answered. "I don't know, she designed those emitters herself and used the maintenance bots to install them in all facilities that she has access to. She did it around the same time as she designed her body, and she wont tell me how she did it, or give me access to her files. Probably so I can't jam them." He half growled the end of his answer.
Leo and Pantsman looked at each other in confusion. "Why would you want to jam them?" Leo asked. Stratos sighed again. "Because, another habit she has formed appears to be trying on different 'outfits' and then parading around in-front of me with them." Pantsman gazed at Stratos, still confused, while Leo believed he might have an idea as to what he was referring to, but he needed confirmation. "I'm afraid to ask, but what kind of outfits?" Leo asked hesitantly. "Well, so far we have had five different bikinis, each one more revealing than the last, a nurses outfit that onetime project blew up in my face and put me in the infirmary for a week, and a maid's uniform appears to be her favorite when I ask her to clean anything." Statos answered the question with a blush growing stronger at the memories being brought back. Pantsman just looked at him like he was an idiot. "Are you gay or something? You don't like her doing that?" He asked in disbelief. a vein throbbed in his head as he tried to calmly answer the accusation. "No, I am not gay, and in fact, her antics amuse me and I am loath to admit that I look forward to seeing what she comes up with. What I am concerned and angry about is what will happen to me when my colleague that programmed her will do to me when she finds out that her greatest creation that she entrusted to me, has taken on the form of a Succubus and is now actively attempting to seduce me!" Stratos yelled back.
After a few awkward minutes, Stratos calmed down and seemed to come to his senses. "That is beside the point however. What did you two come here for?" He asked as he smoothed his lab coat down. Leo glanced at Pantsman who motioned for him to answer, but keep it short as the pantsed man was still under the sights of the turret. "Well, long story short, my friend Aeris went to bed early last night, she was mad at me and she doesn't normally do that, so I decided to go check on her. When I did, there was a little girl there instead. The one Vivian went to go play with in fact. She looks just like Aeris did at her age, and she claims to be Aeris as well." Leo finished he explanation and Pantsman chuckled. "Stratos, why don't you use your sciensy knowledge to inform Leo as to how that is entirelly-" "Possible." Stratos interrupted. "Say what?" The hero asked. "I said it is possible. Although science probably has nothing to do with it though. Let's go check the scanner readout in the main room, it should have scanned all your DNA as you three walked in." Stratos said as he turned and walked out of the room while motioning for the two to follow him.
"Um, Stratos! Could you please call off your pet ceiling gun!" Pantsman called after the scientist. "Oh, that's right. Disengage." Stratos called back, upon hearing the command, the gun gave a quick know to Pantsman as if to say "Just doing my job" and then disappeared into the ceiling.
Author's note: I just want to say I am sorry for how long it took me to update this. I just kind of stopped writing for awhile, but I got a comment on the story asking me to continue that reminded me about it. I will warn any readers that my college semester starts Monday and I might have time to write for a couple of weeks or more.
Also, I want to mention that Stratos' name might be subject to change. It was an early name I had for him when I first came up with him and after redesigning his character, I no longer like his name. But I am terrible with coming up with names so it will take a while to come up with a new one.
Anyway, thanks for reading!