The Wraith of Time

January 24, 2017:

Miss America is called for expert advice in Flash dimensional displacement. Unfortunately the attempt to return the hero to his timeline hits an unexpected obstacle.

The Avengers Mansion

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tony Stark

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Last time Nathaniel talker with America he gave her the coordinates of several coltan mines in central Africa. Mines controlled by 'rebel' factions using 'prisoners of war' from the endless civil wars of the region as workforce, but actually under control of Roxxon Energy subsidiaries and worked by enslaved civilians. He kept tabs on the young woman through her cellphone.

Much punching was needed. But eventually Nathaniel ran out of targets. Coincidentally that was the day before he met Flash.

So he asked Miss America to come to the Avenger's Mansion, because there is someone that needs help from a veteran dimension-hopper. The paint is still fresh in the walls, and the meeting room in the first sublevel is shinny and new. Nathaniel is armored-up, except his helmet is on a table. Several holographic displays float behind him.

Nathaniel just located Barry at the Hall of Justice, and left him a message to visit the mansion whenever. He figures it is a five minutes stroll for the Flash.


The majority of those mines that MAC was sent to are currently shut down, do to instability and damage. Now, we'll see whether the news leaks out that a super-powered individual was the culprit for those specific shut-downs. Maybe they'll report it, or maybe they won't; it all depends on Roxxon and what they want to leak to the world.

As such, when Nathaniel's message came through, the dark-haired woman was mid-flight and just entering the air-space above New York City.

Pausing in that flight of hers, MAC will pull her phone from her back pocket of her pants. As she hovers there, she'll idly unlock the phone and tab to the text message screen. As soon as she sees who it's from, she frowns, but when she reads the message … that frown then turns to consideration. "Another dimension-hopper, eh?" She says to herself, up so high, "I suppose I'll check it out." And with that said, the curly-haired woman tucks her phone away and then pours the speed on. It's only a matter of minutes before she's at the front door of the Mansion and then inside, before finally arriving at the sub-level and then that specific meeting room. As soon as she's inside the room, her gaze will flick to Nathaniel and those holographic displays before him.


To be completely open and honest, Barry Allen is both an accidental dimension hopper and accidental time traveler. It's not as if he /means/ to jump dimensions, it just happens sometimes! Just like the jump that kicked him out of his own universe and into this one. Little does he know the Flash of this Earth has switched places with him. And is a blonde.

Awkward.

As he gets the message and directions to the mansion, it may take Barry five minutes to get there. But that is because after Flash took off from the Hall of Justice and ran into New York, he went and got in the line at Shake Shack, and ordered five Double Shackburgers, a Creamscicle Float, Cheese Fries, and large Fifty-Fifty. Most of the meal he scarfed down pretty much right after he got it. Total time at Shake Shack: Three minutes, fifty seconds.

There's a loud /slurping/ noise as Flash rings the security gate buzzer at Avenger's Mansion and waits for a reply. "I have an appointment with Mister Richards? Tell him Flash is here."


The door opens for both newcomers, and Nathaniel's voice directs them to the meeting room. No one else is in the building, not even staff (yet). Maybe he can build a few robot drones for that. Mental note: check with Stark."Good morning," he greets Miss America. "And… looks like Flash is here too. Welcome to the Avengers Mansion. Flash, this is Miss America. I hope she can help you get back home."

The holographic displays behind him show weird graphs in 3D models and alien characters. When the other heroes arrive, the alien glyphs switch to English alphabet, but it is still gibberish for anyone but the smartest nerd.

For the smarties, they represent models of multi-dimensional energy signatures. Unsurprisingly none of the present has a normal one. But the one labeled 'Flash' is a real mess. As if two energy signatures had been mixed in a blender, and then split.


While Nathaniel's greetings is quite polite, MAC's is a little … brisk. "Mr. Roboto -" She begins, invoking her nickname for Iron Guard, "- I thought you said you had another dimensionally shifted person here?" And while her tone holds a note of suspicion within it, she still enters the room fully, as her gaze turns back to those holographs. She may not be the smartest of the smarties (really she's just a tank), but she has a knowledge of dimensions and their energies. So, while she doesn't necessarily understand all the gibberish that's now in English upon that display, she does at least understand that they're looking at some type of dimensional read-out.

And while she was just about to ask a question about that curiously odd loop, the young woman pauses, when Nathaniel announces the arrival of Flash. She'll turn expectantly towards the door, waiting for the speedster to arrive.


Flash is one of those smarties. Just not a super-smartie. However, as the scarlet speedster arrives in the room, he's looking between the two and arches a brow before offering a smile. "Mister Richards, good to see you again." he says as he offers his hand, before his attention to turns to America. "I'd be that 'dimensionally shifted' person, aforementioned, guilty as charged'." there's a chagrined smile after offering up the information and turns his attention to the glyphs.

"Is this the multiverse theory?" he asks as he looks over the symbols and studies it, his finger tapping against his chin thoughtfully. "I've only seen a few other worlds - it's not as if I go to a new world every other day."


Nathaniel stands up, offering America his best smile. Then to Flash. "Well, the three of us are dimensional shifted. Even after a year I am not showing as a native," he points at one of the displays. "Although I could deceive a crude scan. But my armor sensors are still good enough to detect major differences, it is 30th Century technology."

The young man glances at America again, "I am not sure if this is of any use to you. Do you navigate instinctively or can you visualize this kind of information? In any case, Flash's d-image is strange and I cannot track his native timeline directly. I could try to… hmm… scan with tachyon screening. But it is somewhat irrelevant, since I could not open a temporal gate without being targeted by temporal mines and blown up to the Mesozoic in tiny pieces.


"Nice t'meetcha, Flash." Says MAC, even as she considers the scarlet speedster before her. Idly, her arms will cross over her chest, as she splits her attention between Nathaniel, Flash and the holographic projections. It's only with that last question of Flash's, that MAC's gaze will turn amused. That humor will likewise be heard in her voice, as she speaks up, "Multiverse theory? I hate to break it to you, but, it's not really a theory. There are many realities out there and there's even some where we're not the nicest of people."

And with that last remark America's gaze will shift right on over to Nathaniel.

While MAC could offer a few more digs at Nathaniel, she doesn't. Not when the trio gets down to the nitty-gritty of the situation at hand. Nathaniel's question will earn a one-shouldered shrug from the young woman. "It can be both. If it's a new place I've never visited, it's more instinctual. If it's a place I've previously visited, it's more visual." Her gaze will turn back to the read-outs a moment, as she considers her next question.

While Nate might think she didn't hear that last remark of his; about the bombs, in reality, she did. As such, she adds, "And we wouldn't want you to be blown up, would we. Heaven forbid." She finishes with, even as she turns her focus upon Flash now.

"I've encountered other Flash's in my travels, but which one are you? Garrick?" She asks, hazarding a guess.


"Garrick?" Barry asks, clearly confused. Nope, strike one, Chavez! "I know, but it's easier to call it a theory, because there's still so many universes that have left to be explored. I've seen two. Besides my own. There was one where there's a Supergirl, and a Kryptonian prison ship that crashed on their Earth." Much fun to be had there, really!

"I'm not sure if you would be able to track the information or tachyon trail on me back home.." he admits, as he sighs. "I found out that there was a Flash on this world, once. Power Girl brought him up, and I did some research. After doing so.. I have a feeling he might be someplace.. somewhere else - and I ended up here to fill in the void. The Speed Force abhors voids when it comes to it speedsters, after all."


Speed Force? Nathaniel hmms. But it looks like Flash used extra-dimensional energy as fuel for his speed. He can't be sure without testing, but he can't fathom what could that had to do with the weird dimensional signature. "So perhaps a transposition? I mean, switching places with the native Flash?"

He glances at America to see if she can just grab Flash and push him into his home. Hey, sounds like something she would do. "I cannot follow a tachyon trail right now if it means shifting timelines, and this one would."


Not Garrick. Got it. She'll consider other names, even as she follows the conversation at hand.

"Realities are like that too." States America, when Flash mentions the Speed Force abhors voids. "If a void is around usually it'll crash another reality into it, to fill it." And with the way she words that, perhaps she too, has had some experience with colliding realities. Frowning now, MAC will consider Barry a moment, before she turns her gaze to Nathaniel.

"Well, you brought me here for a reason so -"

Shifting her attention back to Barry, America will drop her hands to her hips as she says, "Tell me about your world, perhaps I've been there, if so, that'll make this much easier. If not, perhaps hearing the names of people, places, points in your history will help me locate it."


"Well.. let's see." Barry ponders. Sitting there for a moment, Flash considers as he looks between the two and finally starts to explain. "On the Earth I'm from, metahumans didn't even exist until a few years ago, when there was a particle accelerator explosion at STAR Labs in Central City. There was a few vigilanties before that - Arrow, the Canaries, a few others.. but I was among the first generation of the world's 'superheroes'."

He's not sure how specific he should be, and not wanting to out others who may exist here, he's trying to stick with the large picture generalities, as he considers how to explain it best. "Does that help?"


Nathaniel sits down again, listening to Barry description of his home timeline. Definitely not ringing a bell, but that is not surprising, in truth he has only been in half a dozen timelines himself, and in a couple was long before the 21st Century. “If nothing else I can send all the data to Stark and see if he can come up with an ingenious solution. Anything I can think right now would take several months, maybe a year, to implement.”


America's dark eyebrows will lower as Barry describes his world. Her head will cant slightly to the side before she offers a shake of her head. "Doesn't sound familiar." She states, even as she takes a step closer to the seated Barry, "But that doesn't mean I can't get you home - let's make this happen." She continues with, even as she reaches over to place a hand upon his shoulder.

At Nathaniel's words, America will turn a look upon him, offering a faint snort, "Pretty sure we won't need a year." Comes her confident sounding words and then MAC's heavy hand will settle upon Barry's shoulder. Her eyes close and her brows furrow as she now concentrates upon the task at hand.

There's silence from the young woman now and after about ten seconds a faint glow might be seen emanating from the star tattoos upon the underside of her wrists. While typically her portals open with vary little trouble, MAC is finding it harder this time, to get one to form. Eventually though, before the trio, a star shaped portal starts to take shape. It's about as tall as MAC and wide enough to fit all three through. Perhaps oddly, the portal itself looks to be covered by a sheet of glass and when it's completely formed, MAC's eyes will pop open.

"There we go." She states, even as she frowns towards the portal. "Let's get this sucker open." And just like that, MAC steps forward and lashes out with a quick punch to shatter the portal open -

- When she says she can punch holes into reality, she means that literally.


"I could try to vibrate to find the proper frequency of my…" Barry starts to say, as Nathaniel and America are talking, but then America decides to just go for it. "What is she..?"

And she /punches physics in the face/; causing Barry's jaw just to slacken slightly. "Uh, are you sure that's safe.." he starts to say.

As if on cue, as he says that, there comes a terrible wail from within the hole that America has created. Inky black smoke comes pouring from the dimensional rift, and it takes on a vaguely human form.. we say vaguely because it's emancipated arms reach out, stretching towards America and Barry. It's face is gaunt, partially skeletal, mostly decayed, but the sunken eyes betray what looks like the tattered remains of a black cowl gripping it, it's upperbody clad in the smoky remains of a costume of some sort.

And it's fast, already streaking into the room.

It reaches out, it's bony fingers touching America's wrist, and she'll feel the sudden cold and tiredness, as if she's aging immediately before her own eyes. "Don't let it grab you!" Flash says as he moves quickly. And the rapid movement causes the creature to rip away and hisses at the costumed hero as it starts to move towards him instead.


"A year to do this with technology," notes Nathaniel. He enumerates. "To filter the right dimensional signature, to build a tachyon battery, to draw the energy from Flash power source's dimension…" then America shows how to punch through dimensional barriers. "It was easier just to text you, see?"

He reaches for his helmet and puts it back on. "Let me see where exactly have you broken through," he adds, his voice going mechanical. Pause. "I do not quite like the readings on that portal, it is not anchored in just two timeli…" the monster appearance shuts him up, but he is quick jump to his feet and raise a hand to blast the wraith away.


"Safe?" States MAC with an amused sounding tone to her voice, "Traveling between dimensions is hardly ever /safe/ -" Continues the curly haired woman and while she would have liked to go on with that retort of hers, the wail from within the star shaped portal grabs her attention. "- What the Hell?" She instead ends with, as her gaze flicks away from Nathaniel and Barry and back towards the portal. Her fists will immediately be brought up, as she takes a step towards the opening into another reality.

Of course, her steps pause when that black smoke pours forth and then when those arms form, MAC can't help but say, "Oh great. Zombies. Why is it always /zombies/." Her first swing misses, as the thing zips from the portal and into the room. "Super powered zombies. My /favorite/." Comes her sarcastic response to the surprise of just how quick that thing is.

"Hold still, so I can smash you." Growls the woman and just like that, her wish is granted, as the Time Wraith touches America's wrist. There's a stagger to her movements as that all encompassing exhaustion hits her. That growl now turns to a snarl, as MAC lurches backwards, even as she raises a foot to try and kick the thing away from her and into a wall. Behind that kick is the full might of her superhuman strength. "A little late there with that warning, Flash, ten seconds earlier would have been better!"


"You're the one that had to go and punch physics in the face and didn't bother to ask!" Flash retorts. "Not a zombie! Wraith! Different die to roll!" the speedster calls out as he nerds for a moment before he returns to his attention to the situation. As if to prove him right, Nathaniel's blast disappates the Wraith for a moment, before it reforms and howls it's anger.

However, it's ignoring both America and Nathaniel - the creature's attention is turned directly at Flash. "Dammit. I'm going to take it outside, get ready to punch another hole, America. Nathaniel, find a safe world to send it to!" he says as he streaks out the door in a red blur, the black smoke following behind him quickly.

Die he just tell America and Nathaniel to work together?? Oh dear lord.


"America, I think your portal was also linked to that 'Speed Force' dimension," states Nathaniel. Which might be why Flash dimensional signature is such a mess. He really needs a minute to think. But the wraith doesn't give him a second.

He attempts to zap the wraith again as it follows Flash, following with a gravimetric shield to try to cage the critter before it reforms. But this time he is not quick enough and his repulsor blast blows up several expensive plasma screens, scratching the ferroceramic wall behind. "Portal to a dead world, I suppose," he adds reluctantly.

Caging this temporal monster would be so much more interesting. Oh well.


"Physics has nothing on me." Exclaims MAC, even as her gaze moves to follow that Wraith, "Zombie, Wraith, whatever it is, we need to get it back in the portal. Now." Especially when the Wraith shakes off Iron Guard's blast.

When Barry reveals his plan (if one can call it that), Mac will turn an incredulous look from the Speedster to Nathaniel. Her quip is quick and snappy, as she says, "Ah, who's the pro here at hopping between dimensions? Pretty sure it's me and I know just the world to send this critter to." Says MAC, even as she turns towards the shattered portal behind her. Quickly now, she'll think a happy thought and with that happy thought, the original portal behind her will close; mending that tear between dimensions.

Then once more, she concentrates, the tattoos upon the underside of her wrists glowing once more. "Give me five, then get that thing back over to where the original portal was - I'll be ready."


"Five minutes, five seconds, five hours, be specific!" Flash calls out in the phone as he's leading the time wraith through Manhattan currently, quickly hitting top speeds, with the wraith only moments behind as he continues to make drastic motions to keep the wraith from being able to get to it's own full speed. There's a little frown as he runs, talking mainly to himself, perhaps not noticing his phone is still on.

"…Next time, check to see if there's unchecked sexual tension between people before working with them." he mutters to himself as he runs.


"What she means is her abilities are magical and therefore understanding them is optional," as usual Nathaniel seems pretty calm about all this, so it is hard to figure out if he is being sarcastic or not, at least for people that does not know him well.

Yes, he is being sarcastic.

"Hmm… and this entity could be native from the 'Speed Force' dimension? I wonder if they artificial." No comment about Barry's muttered comment. Either he didn't hear or he believes any kind of response would get him punched.

Much better if Flash is the one punched.


"Minutes!" Snaps MAC, even as a new portal begins to take shape. Her attention while mainly focused upon the portal forming before her, does split momentarily when Barry mutters that last sentence of his. Her brows will furrow ever so slightly, even as she flicks a look towards Nathaniel. Her brown eyes will narrow as she considers whether he's being sarcastic or not and while she doesn't necessarily know this version of him well, she's going to hedge her bets towards sarcasm.

"You're just mad you can't understand them." She retorts, "They make perfect sense for those smart enough to figure them out." A flash of teeth will be offered in a mean grin, before her gaze flicks to the phone and that mutter of Flash's.

"Boys. Your minds always /go there/ don't they." And while more could be said, any threatening that MAC might do stops, as the portal finally snaps to life. This one will read quite normal to Nathaniel's instruments, as it's connected to a world where only beasts and ugly critters live. "We're ready. Get back here."

Already America is stepping towards that portal, her fist raised to punch the hole open.


It was purely sarcasm, as Flash hits the I-95 and calculates how far he needs to go to double back and head towards the Mansion. At the two and a half minute mark, outside of Trenton, New Jersey, he reverses field and starts to streak back towards the city.

"I understand them fine." Flash retorts as he runs, not bothering to glance over his shoulder, he knows the time wraith is right on his tail. "You're the one that called it a zombie!" he points out to America as he passes over the George Washington Bridge. "One minute out!" he warns as he continues to run.

"And my mind didn't go /there/. You just seem to get along sooo well." Through the front doors Barry comes, down the stairs, and as he nears the portal, he drops into a slide, going around the side of the opening, as the Wraith streaks past him and into the portal beyond. "Close it!"


"There is nothing mysterious or impossible to understand about the laws of magic," replies Nathaniel evenly, while ensuring Flash has all the mansion doors open. Fortunately there is no one else in the building. "But humankind in the future will build the civilization based on science and technology, not magic or super-powers, because it is within the ability of all human beings to understand and use technology reliably and not depending on random genetic or 'spiritual' markings."

Brief summary of future history: The nerds win.


At the minute out mark, MAC will take a step towards that portal and slam her fist home and much like before, it shatters, opening to the world she's chosen. From the portal the world looks desolate, barren, a desert type of world. Upon the sands are various creatures roaming, fighting, dying, surviving. A perfect place for a creature like a Time Wraith -

- Or so America thinks.

Once Barry makes his way inside, MAC is stepping away from the portal, and as soon as the Wraith overshoots and is inside, she'll quickly close that same portal. It's quicker than the last one, thanks to the normalcy of the dimension she connected with. As soon as it's close, MAC will turn back to the two men. "Well, that was fun."

Definite sarcasm there.


Rising to his feet, Barry looks barely winded as he pulls back his cowl to expose his face and hair as he runs his hand through it. "So much. Let's not do it again soon." he says with a little frown. "No telling how many more of those things are waiting for me to try it again."

Which is exactly what Barry was fearing. "This is a fine kettle of fish.." he starts to say, before he looking between the two slightly younger heroes. "…you two… aren't a thing, are you?" He remembers what Nathaniel said about America before they met, and now he's totally curious.


"Not very fun, but informative, at least," Nathaniel adds the wraith dimensional signature to the floating holograms but when Flash speaks his train of thought is derailed.

Hmm. He pulls off his helmet and leaves it on the table. "Not much, no," he glances at America. "I would say we do not know each other well." Despite her belief he is a bad guy out to conquer the world. "And I am quite sure that is not important right now."


MAC was all ready to move onto other subjects until Barry brings up their relationship again. A look will be slanted towards the speedster, even as he removes his cowl from his features. "Hardly that." She says dryly, "Team boy is boring, team girl is much more fun."

Which should hopefully put that line of questioning aside.

"So what was that thing? You said it's a wraith and I've met some wraiths in my travels, but that wasn't one I've seen. And it sure did seem to have a particular hate for you." She finishes with, as her gaze flicks from Barry to Nathaniel, to see if Iron Guard has anything to add.


"Ah." Barry shrugs. Different strokes and all that. There's a moment of thought as he considers. "It's a guardian of what's known as the Speed Force. I don't know if it's a speedster that's passed or what.. but whenever someone breaks through the time or dimensional barrier.. they show up. At least if you do it by speed." Which would explain why 'Miss Punch a Dimension' doesn't get them.

"And I think it's trying to /keep/ me here for some reason." Barry admits, a hint of frustration in his voice.


"Hmm. There are creatures like that one lurking in between the cracks of reality and time," admits Nathaniel thoughtfully. "Possibly natural defenses against careless meddling, possibly creations of advanced races to discourage unchecked time travel. Some means of travelling are considered unsafe even by the most reckless scientists and magic-users." And Flash tachyon-based speed abilities might qualify. "Your speed power seems a function of time manipulation," contrarily to Quicksilver physical/psychic abilities. He said Match 13 to Stark. A racer would need Asgardian-like physical endurance and strength to move that fast by purely physical means.


"A guardian - " Begins MAC, as she considers the rest of what Barry's said, "- It's a pretty freaky looking guardian." She ends with, even as her hands settle upon her hips. "But I have to agree with you, it seems like it wants you to stay here. We could try to open another portal, but I'd rather not have that thing touching me again, or running loose in this world."

Nathaniel's explanation is actually listened to and considered a moment, before MAC nods, "He may have a point there, as well. My dimensional powers aren't speed based. Like Nathaniel said, they're magic. I've never encountered a speedster who used their own powers to hop from one world to another, so I can't say if this is normal or not." Did MAC actually admit to not knowing something about dimensional travel? She did!

Mark the calendar.

"But, if what you said is true, that it wants you to stay here, then you better figure out why. Is there something within this world that you need to help with? Or perhaps something is wrong in your home reality and it flung you here, to keep you safe."


"I guess so." Barry says, rubbing the back of his head before he blows out his breath. "Well.. I guess this is a dead end for now. Thank you both for your help, I hope to seeing you around again soon." he offers as he starts to pull his cowl into place. Yet another mystery that he's going to have to figure out. As if he didn't have enough to work through. With that, he prepares to speed off again.


Nathaniel looks a little… annoyed. On the other hand, here is a problem he can't solve easily, so it makes an interesting challenge. "Do not give up so soon. There are several possibilities to explore. The problem, the reason the wraith attacked, might be your unstable dimensional signature, and it will likely stabilize quickly. Meanwhile we can investigate alternative routes. Also, dimensional walls are weaker at certain geographic locations, as well as certain temporal windows." And he will check with Stark, certainly.

He will go with Flash to the door, like a civilized host should. Unless he just vanishes at super-speed. And then glance quizzically to America. What kind of impressions did they give Flash anyway. "Thanks for trying to help, regardless. Have you considered joining up the team? If nothing else you could keep an eye on me in the case I go the Evil Tyrant way."

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