Review this story                                                            Stories # - L | M - Z | Authors




A STITCH IN TIME
PART 3


“Dead?  What do you mean, dead?”  answered BlueDragon.  “How could I be dead if I’m talking to you?”

    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 Smythe know?”

    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 craft.

    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 Moraine.

    “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.

    “Cassie?”

    “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 anythang.”

    “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 looked crystaline. 

    “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 smile.

    “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 life…”

    “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. Collins.

    “All of you, outside!”  the normally calm empath ordered.  “I need to consult with Kirk.”

    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 time. 

    “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 Kirk.”

    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 they work?”

    “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 doctor explained.

    “And you figured this out just by a few minutes with him.”  Xandria said with no small amount of skepticism.

    “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 his arm.

    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 going on.”



    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 fallen into.

    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 ones.

    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.


TO PART 4 >



    Review this story