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A STITCH IN TIME
Nightbringer looked behind himself as he, LiveWire, Liquid Chill and
Lady Athena streaked through the vertical slalom course that was Skyway
City. Prismatic had just mysteriously fallen, and an
enigmatic voice had told them she would be safe.
He hated leaving a person behind, something he never did as a hero, but
even when he ran with the Skulls, it was something he was loathe to
do. But the voice seemed to speak to more than their minds; it
seemed to touch deep down into their being, reassuring them that their
companion would be safe.
So the four flew on, heading towards Talos Island, where the ferry
known as The Melody had just been hit by the sudden materialization of
a ghost ship. No doubt several other heroes would be at the
scene, but Nightbringer always preferred to take care of his own.
He felt that as the group’s leader, he should be leading the
charge, no matter what they were called upon to do.
Bright flashes could be seen from their bird’s eye view; people,
and things were changing or appearing out of thin air. A
dilapidated building, battle-blasted, vandalized and otherwise abused,
suddenly transformed into a completely restored version of
itself. A horse and buggy suddenly appeared in the middle of the
street, panic evident on the driver’s face at suddenly being
thrown into such a strange environment.
Nightbringer promised himself to try and get to the bottom of things as
quickly as possible once they had retrieved Beguiler and his son.
A shrill beeping went off from his comm device. What now,
he growled to himself as he managed to remove the small pager from his
belt. A cursory glance told him it was Psirene, who had been in
absentia all day. Originally, she said she had some
business to take care of in Kings Row, and would be back later that
afternoon, but a later message told him that she would be helping Fixit
and his group.
In that simple message, Nightbringer knew who it was that Fixit had been referring to earlier. Well, the blonde hero thought, that’s one situation that they can sort out for themselves.
Seeing the glimmer of water, Nightbringer sped up his flight, the others right behind him.
Xandria looked at the gathered heroes. She had filled in
once before as leader when Nightbringer had fallen ill, and had proved
herself more than capable of directing things. However, she was
no less grateful when he had recovered; leadership was something she
would only do when absolutely necessary. Like now.
“Perhaps we should start with our most pressing news,” she
started, and all eyes turned to BlueDragon. The
black-skinned, formerly dead hero looked at the others with puzzled
“I don’t feel dead,” he said, in his usual light-hearted way. “Are you sure I died?”
“Yes, Diego, we’re positive. Sara and I saw it happen.”
BlueDragon furrowed his brow, thinking hard as to what had happened to
him. “The last thing I can recall is being on a case with
you guys. Some museum robbery that the Tsoo had done. We
had just finished fighting them when this bright flash hit me. It
didn’t hurt me or anything, I just assumed it teleported
“Eyewitnesses have reported bright flashes around town, and then
people or things appear that aren’t from this timeline,
Xandria.” commented Flora.
“At least it’s not the Rikti,” muttered Sara.
“But something’s causing it, right? Where would we
even begin to look?” asked Evan, still somewhat freaked out
by the sudden appearance of someone they knew was dead.
“I wish I knew, Evan. Maybe Beguiler can provide some insights when he gets back here.”
“Or perhaps I can help,” came a new voice.
The Nameless all turned in unison to face the speaker; he was a tallish
man, dressed in the red and black body armor of those called the
Rogue Isle Protectors.
Xandria’s features became more icy, and she regarded this
intruder with calculating interest. She held up a warning hand to
Evan, who tensed up in his chair, ready to leap at the man with a spiny
The Protector could detect the apprehension as well as the general mood
of uneasiness his presence was causing, and he wasn’t even
psychic. With a smug grin under his helmet, he reached into a
spot under his armor’s breastplate, and produced a small disk,
which he casually tossed onto the table before taking a seat alongside
Solanum. With a slight, disdainful sneer, she shifted her
position, turning herself away from him.
“Play that,” instructed the
Protector. “It will tell you what you how these things are
Xandria, with a thought, lifted the disc off the
table and into her hand. The Protector shifted slightly, as
if he realized she wouldn’t have to use her psychic abilities on
his mind if she chose to attack. Putting the disc into the
player, she darkened the conference room.
The TV came to life, and security footage, always grainy, always in black and white, began to run.
The Nameless strained forward to get a better
look. Within seconds they realized who may have been responsible.
“Looks like Gamester is back,” commented Solanum. “When did this happen?”
“A couple of days ago, Solanum,”
answered the Protector. “I was able to obtain it after it
occurred. I knew it would be useful, but I didn’t know to
“Any ideas as to where they went to
afterwards?” asked Stingray, who had his largest spine
barely protruding. He was ready to leap across the table
and use it on the intruder if he needed to.
“I had been tracking them, but it appears they
may have gone back to the Rogue Isles,” he stated
“Why are you giving us this
information?” Xandria asked. “It doesn’t
seem like the sort of thing a Protector would do.” She
hoped the statement would lure him into taking the bait and giving out
a little more information.
It worked, or at least, he let them think it
worked. “We would like these people caught just as much as
you would. I have particular interest in the little one.”
“Toyster? She’s a little young for you, isn’t she?” asked Stingray.
“I have my own reasons for my interest, none of which concern
you,” Norman sneered under his helmet. He could
detect the formation of spines in Stingray’s body, as well as the
tension building up in the young man. While he knew he could very
easily defeat the young hero in a fight, the Protector also knew that
in close quarters, Stingray had a clear advantage; intelligence
indicated speed that only Synapse could rival, and Norman wondered if
he could maneuver away from him in time.
“It still doesn’t answer why they did this,”
Solanum commented, eyes returning to the screen. The footage
showed the group tossing a device into an active portal.
“Are they still in contact with Dr. Webb?”
“Remember, Gamester is all about distraction,” Medusa
cautioned. “He had everyone chasing after those presents as
well as mind-controlled the kids from Sussex Academy, all to hide his
Those present nodded, except BlueDragon, who looked confused.
“So, this may be part of something bigger,” said Xandria, jaw clenched. “But what?”
Beneath his helmet, Norman smirked. “I have a theory.”
Beguiler was busy trying to keep the shipwrecked passengers calm when
the water around them suddenly became brilliantly illuminated. A
field of light about 150 meters wide flashed in the deep waters of the
channel. Immediately, Edward could sense another mind far below
We’re a floating buffet,
he realized. Through the clouds of panic and worry coming from
the survivors of the wrecked Widow Star, the empath could detect
something else, something dark and sinister. Something, he
realized, swimming in the cold blue water beneath them. While his
abilities focussed primarily on the human mind, Edward knew they also
worked on animals, whose primal thoughts were more emotional than
Whatever lurked beneath them was large, curious, and
from what he could sense, hungry. Edward cast the equivalent of a
net over the minds of the people splashing around in the water.
Trying to get them calmed down, he reassured them help was on the
way. Not at all wanting the people to know about what was beneath
them, he boosted feelings of courage and hope.
“Everyone get together!” he called
out. “The heroes will have an easier time getting us
“Dad? What’s wrong?”
Tristan whispered. “Is something wrong? You look
Not sure if his son would be able to respond, Edward told him mentally something
was swimming far below them. Tristan took the news wide-eyed, but
said nothing. The boy had an amazing ability to keep calm in a
crisis; but perhaps it was all those years of living among the undead
that gave him such steeled nerves.
Someone suddenly screamed and disappeared under the
waves; Beguiler knew it was too late to do anything about
it. Another person vanished but tried to grab onto a fellow
passenger, and dragged her down with him. The air became thick
with panic once more, as people tried to make their way towards the
shore. Screams about sharks filled the air, but Beguiler knew
they were wrong. Sharks would have been much more preferable to
deal with, and much easier.
A giant tentacle, easily two hundred feet long,
broke through the water surface. Panic gave way to fear, and
overwhelmed Beguiler for a couple of seconds. He had heard
stories of a creature that lived deep in the ocean, far larger and more
dangerous than anything known before. He dismissed it as just
wild tales, something to amuse children with, but as the titanic body
broke the surface and regarded the people with baleful eyes, he found
himself fighting back his own fear.
Somehow, the Kraken had been brought from myth to reality.
He grabbed his son, who seemed startled by the move. He had
two teleportation tags on his person, and now, he felt, was the time to
use them. Activating the tags, he sent himself and his son to
Chiron Medical, in Atlas Park. While the tags were to be used for
medical emergencies and arrests, they could, on occasion, be used for
emergency escapes. Of course, Beguiler knew there would be a
mandatory review of his actions, that most likely he would be fined for
improper usage of the ETS, and that he would probably get censured in
some way for failing to help others. He would deal with all
of that, including the twinge of guilt he felt for not helping anyone,
at a later time.
Wake up my child, came the voice inside Prismatic’s mind.
The opalescent heroine woke with a start. She found herself in an
enclosed section beside a stone wall, surrounded by can-filled shopping
carts. The area was dimly illuminated with a bluish-green
glow; and Prismatic was surprised to see the source.
Can Man’s eyes glowed a brilliant shade of aqua, making the
surrounding hovel seem as if it were under water. It did more
than provide light; it told Prismatic that Can Man, for all his
appearances, was somehow, much, much more.
She sighed deeply; it wasn’t the Can Man that she recognized, it
was the being that resided within him she knew. Prismatic
struggled to sit up, and faced her host, who sat at the far end of his
shelter, watching her. Stories abounded about this man, she had
heard how PhoenixHawk and the rest of the Onami had been able to set
back Crey’s Protector program with information provided by
him. The Trolls feared him, as did The Lost and practically any
other villain group that strayed into his domain. Even heroes
gave him a wide berth, although no one could give a satisfactory answer
as to why.
Prismatic could tell from the moment she saw him before losing
consciousness; it was like a flood of repressed memories that came
flooding through her. He was of her race, or rather, he held the
essence of one of her people. She began to remember who she was,
where she had come from, and why she was here.
Were the dreams sent by you?
Yes, child. It was the only way we could assuredly reach you. The urge you felt to come to this place-
I remember. I said that the Universe wanted me here.
A funny way to put it, but, you were
more or less correct. We are Children of the Universe, wanderers,
teachers, and scholars. Somehow, you had gotten lost and spent
more time among the humans than what is customary. Your
involvement is quite unorthodox.
Prismatic scowled. She was not expecting to be lectured, especially since she had helped people.
The mental voice continued. However,
that can all be discussed later. For now, it is important for you
to return home. One of the humans has ripped the fabric of
space-time, and it will soon consume this planet. Eventually,
this world will be destroyed by it, consumed by the void.
Shouldn’t we try to mend the rift? The lives of billions of people will be lost!
The voice became impassive. We
are scholars, not warriors, and not saviors. Your interference
has been more than enough. Let this world pass, my child.
They are a doomed race, anyway.
Prismatic stood up, angered at the sheer callousness of this
being. “To you, perhaps, but as long as I am on this world,
I am part of it, and I shall fight for it.”
Without looking behind her, she left the shelter and flew as fast as she could towards Talos.
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