Holes In Time And Space

December 04, 2018:

Two scientists investigating the rift phenomenon run into each other in central park.

Central Park - New York City

Sitting on 843 acres of public land, Central Park is one of the most famous sight-seeing spots in New York, and is considered large enough to have its own police precinct (the Central Park Precinct) dedicated to its protection. The Park boasts several lakes — all of which have been created artificially — extensive walking and bridle paths, two ice skating rinks, a variety of outdoor theater spaces, several playgrounds, and a considerable collection of whimsical statuary. It is home to Belvedere Castle, the Carousel, the Central Park Zoo, the Conservatory, and Cleopatra's Needle (one of three, 70-foot Egyptian obelisks from the Temple of Ra in Helios, its mates residing in London and Paris).
On the east side corner of Central Park, the Manhattan island zoo might be considered small for a zoo in such a famous city. The animals in residence skew toward those that are able to put on shows, perhaps in an attempt to draw crowds through cute tricks as opposed to variety. Past the gift shop and the cafe, the largest open space is occupied by a manicured garden and the slightly raised sea lion tank surrounded by seats and a slate courtyard. The sides of the tanks are made of thick glass to give visitors greater visibility into the depths of the water.

Many of the other exhibits, like the penguins and the tropical birds, are in enclosed buildings to the east and west. Mimicking the feel of the vast park that surrounds it on three sides, the zoo feels more like a large green courtyard and meeting space. It is a playground that happens to have exotic animals living nearby.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Caitlin Fairchild, Tony Stark

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

A few days ago Nathaniel was Rift-chasing in Metropolis. Where he met a mystical super-villain that was oddly not in the wanted list of any American agency. There is probably a mystery there, but not one he wants to investigate right now.

So instead of fighting they talked. But Enchantress' viewpoint on the universe was so radically different they could find little information to exchange. He is still pondering the metaphors and parables she used. That she could 'smell' he was from another time was pretty damn odd.

Nathaniel aka Iron Guard, had gone to Metropolis because he finds the New York area still permeated with extra-dimensional energies from the recent sp-called 'demon' invasion. He wanted some pure readings so he can delete that background 'noise' when he investigates New York. And he wants to investigate New York because he has close access to the Avenger Mansion labs and the gear he has built there.

Which brings him here, to Central Park. Where a rift opened, took a hotdog cart and the owner and lingered for over a minute. -Almost- long enough for him to arrive, but no luck. He barely manages to scan the rift at two hundred yards or so before it blinks close.

*

With all of the chaos and panic the demon portals caused it's perhaps no surprise that other scientists based in the New York area have been fully mobilized now that yet another strange portal phenomenon has begun. Which is why Nadia Van Dyne, Head of G.I.R.L and resident teenage super genius over at Pym Industries is currently flitting through Central Park on her Wasp suits wings.

Although the portal itself had just closed before she could directly study it that doesn't seem to have discouraged her. Before she's even touched foot on the ground Nadia has released two dozen micro-drones and, thanks to the wonders of pym particles, deployed a battery of advanced sensors the size of a small truck.

"Are you here to investigate the rift as well?" she wonders, still flying about the area deploying sensor equipment from her belt. "If not then I would recommend that you stay back. Just to be safe."

*

Nathaniel is following the stream of information the armor sensors is feeding him through the neural interface. It is a massive amount of information even for someone trained from birth to this kind of communication. And then… Pym radiation. What? Why?

Lets just say his landing is not as graceful as it should.

But he stands up quickly, dirt and dust not sticking to his shiny red and silver armor. "Oh, er… good afternoon. I am…" he looks at Nadia, "researching, yes. For the Avengers. I am Iron Guard."

*

"Iron Guard? Are you a relation of the Avenger Iron Man?" Nadia asks brightly with a hint of a Russian accent. "My name is Nadia, Nadia Van Dyne. But you can call me 'The Wasp' if you prefer to use code-names. I'm investigating on behalf of Pym Industries… I hope that I did not interrupt your results while deploying my equipment? If I have I would be happy to remove any influences that pym radiation could cause from your data."

Her own equipment ranges in sophistication from physical samples to advanced, at least for this period in time, sensor suites. "Perhaps we could even arrange a more formal information sharing agreement?" She glances at something on the hud of her suit and frowns. "It is good that there has only been a light breeze today. It makes it much easier to gather trace particulate matter that was tranferred from the other end of the portal."

*

"Van Dyne?" The armored man pauses for a second. His temporal database has become mostly obsolete as the past three years the timeline has diverged considerably, but Van Dyne rings a bell.

"Richards, Nathaniel Richards," he has no secret identity whatsoever, so not much of a hesitance. "No direct relation with Stark, he is a role model of shorts. And no problem about the Pym particles, I can filter the radiation, I was just surprised. But the rift closed a minute too early - it is not easy to find long-lasting ones." Brief pause, "oh, of course I will exchange information with Pym Industries."

*

"It is… how do Americans say… /complicated/. Hank Pym is my biological father," Nadia explains with another shrug. "But that is much less interesting than these rifts. I agree, it can be very hard to reach an active portal before it closes, it's a big part of why I've brought so much equipment to collect samples."

"I'm hoping that by collecting matter that has been through the portal I can look for residual energy traces that will either confirm or rule out some of the hypothetical causes. I would much prefer to be able to send a probe through an active portal, but to do that reliably I will either have to reach a portal before it can close or predict the location one will appear in advance."

*

The question of Nadia's ancestry will be filed for future reference. It is not he is not interested! But as she said, priorities. "I did. Sent a couple mini-drones. One never returned, the other did, but two days late. I have the readings. Also readings from a long-lasting portal in Metropolis that was forcibly closed by 'magic'." He quotes with his fingers.

One can't see the eyeroll behind the helmet, but the tone hints it.

"My current theory is the other side of the rift shifts quickly," he offers. "Also, some of the people transported might be lost in the transition. I am trying to calculate where they go. It is possible they are not dead but trapped in a hyperspace pocket."

*

"I did a lot of work on the demon portals with Caitlin Fairchild from the Justice League and after that study I am fairly convinced magic is simply an application of physics which is simply not yet understood. A more pronounced version of the observer effect perhaps," Nadia muses as she hovers between the component parts of her mobile lab.

"That seems to fit with the data I have gathered so far," she replies, nodding in agreement. "I suspect some people may also simply be deposited in remote regions or countries for which English is not the primary language. I'm concerned some may open at extreme altitudes or above the sea… Given that over seventy percent of the surface of the planet is water covered many people might simply be drowning."

*

"And yet the targets seem to be people," notes Nathaniel, giving Nadia's equipment a careful visual inspection. "It suggests design and a goal. There is, of course, a considerable amount of energy involved in forming the breaches." Again hinting an active, not accidental, purpose.

"I was in Europe during the so-called demon invasion," he explains, "but the portals back then were exit points from another dimension only, right? These seem to be space-time tears. Main vector is spatial, but there is also a temporal displacement, often considerable. Days, even."

*

"I'm keeping an open mind on that one," Nadia says with a shrug. "Portals which affect people are much more likely to be reported. Given the speed with which many of the portals open and close the majority may not be transporting anything of significance. There may well be a guiding intelligence behind them, but if so then as yet there is no sign of any patterns in terms of victimology. At least not that anyone has been willing or able to prove."

"I don't believe the two phenomenon have any direct link, but again I think it's a little early to rule it out. The sheer number of inter-dimensional breaches may have caused some sort of damage to fabric of space and time itself… It's perhaps a little implausable but if you had asked me if 'demons' would try invade New York back at the start of the year I would have laughed at the very notion. Implausable doesn't mean impossible after all. The temporal displacement is interesting, have you been able to detect any patterns? Are people only being displaced forward in time?"

*

"I have a very limited sample, but yes," confirms Nathaniel. He is going to try to download all the data into one of the computers Nadia brought. "I have also a long list of missing persons, but it is difficult to confirm who was taken by rifts and who just has been missing for other reasons. There are still many missing from the invasion. Displaced that have yet to return or settle."

A profile is coming, but slowly. If the people taken have anything in common it is not obvious. But then again, Nathaniel is not a detective.

*

The equipment Nadia has set up ranges in sophistication from simple core sample boring tools to a portable super computer that's impressive for the time period. Of course most of it isn't designed for wireless or remote access for security reasons but there are some standard physical access ports on the computer.

"Sample size /is/ a huge limitation," Nadia admits with a sigh. "Of all the people reported missing some have died in the demon invasion, others are simply yet to return to the city and a few are taking advantage of the situation to leave unhappy situations."

*

"Exactly," agrees Nathaniel. "So the data from the New York area is unreliable and maybe needs to be filtered." No wireless or other remote access is okay, he can always reconfigure his outfit to input the information directly. "I am going to share the raw data I have. I have some ideas, but I am afraid the math is not… standard. I am not from this timeline. If you want to work with the Avengers in this case I will endeavour to translate."

*

"Oh I wouldn't worry about the math," Nadia assures with a smile. "I do not wish to sound immodest but I have been told I take after my father in terms of academic ability. If it was not important for the research to proceed quickly I would actually be excited by the prospect of working it out for myself! But in the interest of time efficiency then any help you can provide would be appreciated. Although I understand if there are things you can't share to prevent temporal contamination…"

"If you want you can upload the records I have stored locally. They represent everything pym industries had on both the demonic portals and these new rifts up until approximately an hour ago. I'm sure anything other teams have added between then and now can be requested by the Avengers directly. Except for any schematics or formula for proprietary products or inventions that is… None of which I think are relevant at this point in time anyway."

*

It is a few billion years too late to worry about temporal contamination. Now, paradoxes are dangerous (for others - Nathaniel is shielded) but unlikely since reality diverged so much after the Omega Event.

On the other hand Nathaniel is quite reluctant to give Pym Industries the advanced mathematics and physics knowledge he has from the 40th millennium. Do they really need it to track down the cause of the rifts and put a stop to it? Possibly, but in the wrong hands it can also be used to blow up the whole planet. And a good chunk of the galaxy.

"I do not know. Let us try solve this using the tools at hand first," he offers reluctantly. "And not here… I will setup a virtual data-center this very evening to share information with your team at Pym. Perhaps adding Fairchild and the Justice League resources if you can reach her."

*

"That seems an acceptable compromise," Nadia agrees. "Although I do not really have my own team at Pym Industries. I run the non-profit subsidiary G.I.R.L but my team are excellent." She beams another smile. "I will try to reach Caitlin and involve her in the research. Do the Avengers and the Justice League not have any data sharing agreements in place?" Ironically Pym Industries is one of the places with people who are probably already capable of blowing up the planet and perhaps an, although admittedly smaller, portion of the galaxy using the math & physics knowledge currently available.

*

"I think we share only criminal databases," replies Nathaniel. "And not everything, since some of the U.N. information is classified. It is complicated. But in this case it is going to be just my personal research. Maybe Stark's if I can manage to hold a good, long conversation with him. But he is very busy with the reconstruction, I believe."

Since the demons used Stark Tower as their centre of operations. Poor Tony had already been forced to rebuild much of the building after the great blizzard last year. Maybe he should move to the Avengers Mansion.

"In any case it has been a pleasure to meet you, Miss Van Dyne," he adds, hovering a few inches over the ground. "I look forward to see your work in the virtual data-center. And hopefully see you in person again soon. Farewell."

*

"It's always a pleasure to meet another scientist," Nadia agrees brightly, then she glances at the site the rift had occupied and sighs. "Even if the circumstances behind the meeting are not so fortunate. I will probably remain here for a while longer to take physical samples. If the rifts have any radioactive or mutagenic properties I think they will show in the local micro-organisms which may have been trans-located here. I know it's unlikely, but I'll sleep better once I've checked to be sure."

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