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A STITCH IN TIME
“Dead? What do you mean, dead?” answered
BlueDragon. “How could I be dead if I’m talking to
Solanum took a deep ragged breath. She had no
idea how or why, but by some bizarre twist of fate, her former lover
had seemingly come back from the grave.
“Meet me and Nightbringer in Constellation
Row. We need to talk,” she whispered, once she had managed
to compose herself.
“Ok. I’ll see you there.”
Solanum took another deep breath, closing her eyes
to calm herself. When she opened her eyes again, Faberge was
standing there, a patient expression on her face.
“I take it there’s been a change of
plans?” she asked. “Should I let Director
The redhead shook her head. “That
won’t be necessary. Something big has come up, and right
now, we need to find out what’s going on.”
Leaving the bustle of Atlas Park, the pair ran westward.
By the time Solanum and Faberge had reached
Nightbringer and the others, the mammoths had been contained and were
guarded by several heroes in a makeshift pen. The ancient
creatures, although still nervous, had calmed down considerably, and
resumed grazing on the large bale of hay provided for them.
Nightbringer stole a quick glance at Sara and the
newcomer before returning his gaze to the mighty animals. The zoo
curator had no idea as to how they would transport them, let alone how
the zoo would be able to make room for such a large herd of giants.
“Nice of you to finally show up, Solanum.”
“Spare me the sarcasm, Jon. You know I
had that team up with a newbie today.” She smiled over at
Faberge, who seemed too awestruck at the sight of a fifteen foot tall
bull mammoth to say anything. “But, I gotta tell you.
Weird things are happening.”
“You finally noticed that, did you?” Nightbringer retorted.
“You are in an exceptionally foul mood today, Jon. What gives?”
Nightbringer’s jaw clenched. The group
had seemed entirely involved in doing other things this day.
While he had been somewhat guilty of that with a motorcycle ride
earlier, the Nameless would rally together when called.
“Xandria called. Vision’s in the
hospital. Dr. Collins is checking him out, but he can’t say
for sure what’s wrong,” he finally revealed.
“Jon, I think there’s something going on
that’s beyond Kirk’s illness. Let’s leave
Liquid Chill and Lady Athena to take care of the animals, and go to
Cygnus.” Sara reasoned.
Nightbringer nodded. He smiled slightly in greeting to Faberge, who stared at him wide-eyed.
“Don’t worry about him,
Cassie,” Sara said cheerfully. “He’s
usually not this grumpy.”
The call went out. Flora, seeing that
the page was an emergency, quickly excused herself from the meeting and
made her way to Cygnus Medical Center. Psirene called back in,
telling Jon she was on an impromptu assignment, but she would join them
as soon as she could, if possible.
Beguiler, for his part, was returning from the Rogue
Isles via one of the shuttle boats that ran between Lord
Recluse’s domain and Paragon City. He had successfully
convinced his ex-wife to allow Tristan, their son, to come with him for
an extended weekend. He looked over at the boy, who was leaning
over the railing, watching the water spray out from the side of the
Thoughts of relief of being away from his mother and
her undead servants were radiating out of the teenager’s
mind. Edward smiled to himself; he had last seen his son when he
was an infant, and his then-wife declared she was leaving him.
Tristan looked back at his father, as if aware of
the psychic scrutiny. Looking at him, there was no doubt as to
his parentage; lanky build, much like his father, a shock of
ivory-white hair, like his mother, and eyes of a deep violet color that
only came with the Harlowe bloodline.
“When do we get to the house?” he asked.
Edward looked at his watch. “We have
probably another hour. We have to switch boats when we get to
Peregrine. Unfortunately, the Melody is
nowhere near as fine a vessel as this one is.” As if to
emphasize his point, he handed his now-empty glass of scotch back to a
passing waiter. Getting up from his chair, he stood next to his
son at the railing.
“I’m sorry,” Edward said suddenly.
Tristan looked at his father with a puzzled
look. He had heard all sorts of stories about this man, but he
never knew how true they were, if at all. “For what?”
“Not being more of a father. Your mother
left shortly after you were born, and I had no idea as to where you
were,” he sighed. “It’s amazing how much
you look like your grandfather.”
The boy nodded wordlessly and returned his gaze to
the water. Something out in the distance caught his eye, and he
strained his vision.
“Hey, look! Another boat!” he said.
Edward looked at the horizon, and then cautiously
looked at his son. At first he didn’t see anything, and he
wondered if his son was attempting to project an illusion. Alyssa
had warned him; Tristan could make people see things that weren’t
really there. He had been suspended from school once when he had
gotten into a fight with Jack Webb. During the course of the
fight, Tristan had tormented Jack with visions of horrible, gaping
wounds on his body. The fight had ended with Jack huddled in a
corner, crying and Tristan laughing cruelly.
When the hero finally spotted the other vessel, it
winked out of sight. He thought for a moment and recalled an
article he had read in the Paragon Times about a supposed ghost ship.
“I think that was the Moraine,” he said. “There are rumors of a ghost ship patrolling these waters.”
“Cool,” Tristan said.
“That’s the one ship mom hasn’t found yet.”
“What do you mean, hasn’t found yet?” Edward asked, suspicion aroused.
“Mom sends her zombies out into the water
looking for sunken ships. Then she has them bring back any
valuables. Since they don’t need to breathe or worry about
the bends or anything, they just march down to the sea floor and bring
back what they find.” Tristan explained with a smile on his
face. “Pretty cool, huh?”
“It’s grave robbing, criminal and
utterly genius,” Edward sighed. “No wonder your
mother has so much money.”
A sudden flash of light occurred 50 yards on their
side of the ship. Appearing in the water, and in a perpendicular
course, was another ship. The lettering along the side said
“Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up,” muttered Edward.
“Huh?” Tristan gave his dad a puzzled look.
Edward realized that the ship that had just appeared
was not just an apparition; he was detecting feelings of panic
from the people he could see on the deck of the supposed ghost ship.
“We’re going to hit!” he
yelled, grabbing his son by the arm and pulling him back. The two ran
towards the back of the shuttle.
Any evasive actions taken by either ship were
useless; they were too close to begin with, and both had been running
full speed. The bow of the Moraine slammed into the port side of the Widow Star. Passengers were flung like rag dolls from the force of collision, chunks and splinters of the Widow’s
hull flew tumbling through the air. The more massive,
steel-plated vessel vanished upon impact with no evidence of
damage. The damage inflicted upon the smaller shuttle, made of
twenty-first century fiberglass and polymers, was all too real.
The craft began to take on water immediately.
People were scrambling to grab life preservers, and
as Edward tried to get one for himself and his son, he realized there
were no other means of safety on this ship. No lifeboats meant
the survivors would become a floating buffet for whatever creatures
swam in the channels around the islands, sharks being the least of
their worries. To make things worse for himself, the rising flood
of fear and panic coming from the passengers aboard the doomed shuttle
began to overwhelm his psionic defenses, and would render him useless
if he didn’t get away.
He gave his son a life jacket and then hit the
emergency button on his communicator. As he and Tristan jumped
into the water, Edward hoped someone from the Nameless would get to
them in time.
Sara, Jon, Prismatic and Cassie entered Kirk’s
room, where the others had been waiting. Despite the look of
disapproval from the nurse, the growing crowd of heroes in the room
looked with concern at their fallen teammate.
“What happened?” Jon said.
His face took on the stern, dour look it usually bore whenever things
were not going well.
“We were about to ambush a group of Tsoo who
had robbed the Imperial China exhibit at the Museum, when Kirk grabbed
his head. We barely got out of there in time before the gang
caught up with us. White Diamond tried to see what was wrong,
but…” Stingray shrugged.
“I thought the Tsoo case happened last
year?” asked Sara. “Don’t tell me they
were dumb enough to do the same caper twice!”
“I know that seems weird, but it
happened exactly the same way it did a year ago. I think
the official we spoke to said the same things a year ago.”
White Diamond’s brow furrowed, and then, as if noticing for the
first time, realized who the newcomer was.
“I was wondering when you were going to
recognize me, Xandria!” Cassie exclaimed, putting her hands
on her hips and tapping her foot in mock impatience. “So
you’re a super too?”
“Allright, rule numbah one,
darlin’,” interjected LiveWire, “don’t call
yawself or any othah hero a “supah,” or a
“cape.” They’re more insults than
“Oh.” Cassie said apologetically. “I didn’t know that.”
Xandria rolled her eyes and gave her husband an
annoyed glare. “Ignore him, sweetie. What
happened to you?”
Cassie retold the story of meeting Thomas, being
given a drink, and waking up with ultradense, stonelike skin that
“Did you get yourself appraised?”
asked Stingray. Sighs of disgust came from both his sister and
Xandria. “What?” he asked.
“It’s a fair question!”
Cassie giggled. “I thought about
it. Actually, I was going to go to Tiffany’s, but on my way
over there, I stopped a mugging, and decided to come here
instead!” Genuine excitement radiated in the girl’s
“You know, all these trips down memory lane
are getting out of hand,” started Nightbringer. All eyes
turned to him and he continued. “Thomas reappears, injects
another model, then vanishes. We’ve got wooly mammoths
showing up in the city, we’re repeating old cases, we’ve
got people who are supposed to be dead coming back to
“Who’s back?” asked LiveWire.
“BlueDragon. Sara got a call from him a
little bit ago. She asked him to meet us here.”
Pandemonium erupted. “Impossible!
When did that happen? How did it happen?” The
Nameless were beginning to argue until the nurse came back in with Dr.
“All of you, outside!” the
normally calm empath ordered. “I need to consult with
Chastened, the group went out into the waiting area
to discuss the strange events, not knowing what they portended. A
sudden shrill alarm went out on all their communicators at the same
“It’s Beguiler! He’s in trouble!” Sara exclaimed.
“Where?” asked Flora.
“Look’s like he’s near
Peregrine.” answered Evan, who had designed the
communicators with emergency GPS to make rescues quicker.
“Hey, guys, look at that,” announced Cassie as she pointed at a television.
The news was showing aerial footage of several
dozen people floundering in the water. The headline read,
“Rogue Isle shuttle in Accident with Ghost Ship.”
“This is just getting weird,” mused Sara.
Nightbringer quickly rallied. “LiveWire,
Prismatic, come with me. We’re going to go and help as many
people we can in that accident. We’ll need flyers, so
I’ll call Liquid Chill and Lady Athena to help us out
again. The rest of you try to piece together what’s going
on here and find out from Dr. Collins what’s wrong with
He left so quickly with the other two heroes no one
had time to argue. Dr. Collins emerged from Kirk’s room, a
grim look on his face.
“What is it?” asked WhiteDiamond.
The doctor took off his glasses. “What
do you know of you friend’s powers? I mean, do you know how
“Not really. He basically told us that
he’s aware of a future timeline, but that was the only way he
said he could explain it,” she replied.
Dr. Collins nodded. “Well, it’s a
little more complicated than that. You see, inside Kirk’s
mind is a small dimensional portal. I know his file says he
became aware of his premonitions after a Rikti portal enveloped his
house, him and his family included. Only he was left when his
house reappeared. This microportal had actually formed inside of
him, but never formed into a full-sized one.”
“Huh? Yer losin’ me, doc,” blurted LiveWire.
“It’s as if the Rikti had started to
open a doorway, realized it would be inside of someone, and then
started to shut it, but it was never closed all the way. As a
result, Kirk’s mind is in multiple dimensions and timelines, in
addition to ours. This makes him aware of, and sensitive to, any
changes or disruption of the fabric of space-time.” the
“And you figured this out just by a few
minutes with him.” Xandria said with no small amount of
“I know it sounds very odd, and it is, to be
honest. But I believe that someone has done something to the flow
of time and Kirk is feeling the effects of it. I’m keeping
him in a coma for now, but we will need to wake him shortly.”
A sudden crash came from Kirk’s room, catching
everyone’s attention. The Nameless all ran into the room
and gasped at the sight. The supposedly comatose Kirk was wide
awake, staring in wide-eyed terror at his visitor, an ebony skinned man
with blue hair.
“You! No! You’re not
supposed to be here!” he whispered. “I was not
supposed to meet you! I saw you die!”
“Dammit! Get out of here, all of
you!” Dr. Collins bellowed, and then called for a team of
nurses and orderlies to get Kirk under control. The panicked hero
was frantically trying to remove the sensory pads and IV needle from
The remaining heroes did as they were told, not wanting to upset Kirk and reluctant to see the doctor get really angry with them.
Xandria looked at the team. “Let’s
get back to base. We need to regroup and figure out what’s
The five heroes were flying fast over Skyway City,
passing numerous sights on the way. Scavenging Clockwork watched them
momentarily before resuming their collecting; Circle of Thorns’
mystics paid no mind as they conducted their ritual; and Trolls merely
lumbered along as they made their way to their base, wanting to see the
new King who had overthrown Atta.
No one saw who fired the shot, nor did anyone see
which direction it came from, but Prismatic suddenly screamed and fell
to the concrete below.
Nightbringer turned downward to catch her from what
would be certain death, but a voice filled all their heads.
Go. Rescue your friends. I will take care of her. She will be safe with me, it assured them all.
Not knowing why, but the four were filled with the
confidence that Prismatic would be allright, and they resumed their
flight towards Peregrine.
Instead of falling straight down, Prismatic
plummeted at an angle, crashing through a billboard and landing
unceremoniously in a garbage-filled alley. She struggled to stay
conscious, trying to untangle herself from the pile of trash she had
Around her she could hear the voices, and she knew she didn’t have to look and see who it was.
Having flown over Skyway many times, she knew when
she was over the Land of the Lost. Heroes wandered in here
unprepared all the time, and their obituaries graced the paper on a
regular basis. Sometimes heroes vanished, and sometimes they were found
but it was widely held that those who died were considered the lucky
Prismatic steeled herself. The voices were
closer, moving in on her location, yet she could not move, her strength
having been completely drained from her. She felt nothing but
terror as the first set of hands lay themselves upon her. As more
grabbed her, she wanted to struggle, but couldn’t.
So, this is how it ends, she thought.
“I say to thee, let her be!” came a strange voice.
Slowly, Prismatic felt herself lowered back to the
ground, despite grumbling from her would-be captors. She began to
realize who was speaking, and why The Lost were obeying. The Can
Man had come to her rescue.
“Begone with you, lest you be in two!” he ordered again.
Prismatic heard the rapid sound of running away on
the part of The Lost. She then became aware of the Can Man
kneeling beside her. Looking into her eyes with a kindly blue
gaze, there was something in his mind, something she recognized as
familiar to herself.
“It’s you!” she breathed, and then darkness took her.
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