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I am in so much trouble. This is great! Scott



Date Uncertain

Aside: Who Watches the Watchers

    The ship was very... angular. It skimmed just above the waves as it skirted the dome around New England. Within it, the members of the Image — the most highly-muscled hero-team-to-be in the world — were having an argument (except for Cyberforce, who had shoved his arms into the control panel and was driving the boat).
    "Okay, Spawn, tell me—"
    "Don't call me that."
    "Fine. Steven. What exactly are we doing here?"
    "What, Youngblood, you upset 'cause you don't think you're gonna be able to cut through that with your big swords?"
    "Don't make fun of my swords, man."
    "Look, my family is in there," Steven reminded him. "Our idol is in there. We have to try and do something, we're heroes, right?"
    "You're a freshman! What are we going to do?!"
    "I don't know," he admitted. "Maybe the dome doesn't extend all the way down. Maybe like I could swim under and find a way for you guys to get in."
    "I have to say that sounds pretty lame."
    "I admit it, all right—I appreciate the fact that you guys are—you could just go," he pointed out.
    "You're in my ship. What, are you gonna swim home?"
    "I could." There was a pause, in which tempers were restrained. "Look, all I'm saying is we have to try and do something."
    Stormfront levered herself into a standing position. "I understand what you're attempting to do here, and I think we're all in agreement with that. Why don't we just continue to try to circle around, you can make an attempt at swimming underneath, and if we happen to get lucky and find something... we'll act on it. But at least we can say that we tried, right guys? I just hope that there's someone a little more skilled at this than we are doing something," she added.
    None of them had noticed the surveillance plane following high above. "Sir, we have a bit of a problem here, this is Bitstream calling in," the pilot reported.
    From MEDUSA headquarters in Grovers Mill, NJ came the reply, "What's the problem?"
    "Well, it looks as if the... University of Houston freshman class is trying to get involved in this," he replied, his tone professionally neutral.
    "Transfer their coordinates, please."
    In the main conference center were a number of other agents and support staff, and quite a few of the Justice Defenders. In their midst was MEDUSA chief John Smith.
    "Powerhouse, could you fly to these coordinates and, uh, rein them in, please?"
    The lounging hero blinked. "Might I point out that asking me to rein somebody in is probably not your best bet?" Restraint and Powerhouse were not words that got used together.
    "You're fast and you're reliable, I'm sure that you'll be able to keep them from doing anything... untoward. Just stay in contact."
    "Okey-dokey." He strode out of the room.
    Smith looked around. "Okay. In the 48 hours that the dome has been up, we have been unable to penetrate it with any weapons or powers at our disposal. Nothing has functioned. The President contacted me earlier, letting me know that he's judged the situation grave enough to raise us to Defcon 2, and he's really afraid that the Russians are going to try and take advantage of this somehow. If anyone has any suggestions they'd like to throw on the table, unorthodox or unconventional methods that might help us penetrate this seemingly impermeable barrier, I'd be happy to hear them."
    Several moments passed.
    "I'll take that deafening silence as a lack of brilliant ideas."
    Survivor leaned forward in his chair. "Well, we've already tried digging up underneath it. The dome continues all the way down around. It's got some kind of energy field on it that we have not been able to successfully analyze, but I'm hoping that things will continue. And also remember that there are a variety of variant teams inside. If we could just make some kind of contact with them—"
    "Assuming they haven't been compromised," Smith put in.
    "Yes, assuming they haven't been compromised. Hopefully they'll be working on something on that end, that might open things up for us to be able to do something on this end. But if we just had the slightest idea as to where this had come from or what was going on...." The door swished open. MEDUSA Agent Doublecross entered, pushing a wheelchair. In the chair was a handsome woman in her sixties, her upper body well developed as if to compensate for her disability.
    "I think we may be on to something," Doublecross said. "Allow me to introduce Agent Eve of the PAA. She may have some sort of explanation for us."
    The woman inclined her head in general greeting and spoke with calm assurance. "For those of you who aren't familiar with the PAA, we were an organization during the Depression that attempted to put paid to alien threats and poltergeist activity. In a couple of instances in northern Maine, my partners and I dealt with a couple of what we eventually discovered to be Coven-oriented incidents, where a werewolf clan and some daemonic agents were attempting to make use of some sort of cross-dimensional rip in order to take over the world. Now, this was fifty years ago, and we succeeded, but from the information that Agent Doublecross got me, the dead center of this dome geographically would be in Millinocket Maine, which is where these things took place. If they somehow managed to retroactively succeed, or try again... I don't know, my senses in this are a little confused. I had some detailed diaries about everything that happened, they were stolen a few years ago, but my memory is still good. I should be able to fill you in on the precise details..." She paused suddenly, turned her head to stare at one of the technicians and commanded, "You. Stop watching us!"
    In Detroit, Daedalus opened his eyes with a start. "She saw me. Oh, that can't be good, I must have broken some sort of law there."
    "But you were able to get information," Steel stated. He didn't bother much with things like inflection.
    "Yeah, the identification and information you gave me on that guy was enough for me to make contact with him. I heard most of what's going on, I'm afraid to say that the government doesn't particularly have a clue."
    "So it was meaningless?"
    "No. Nothing that they've got is able to penetrate, President's flipping out, lord knows how long it's going to be before someone foolishly tries a nuke on that thing, and I don't think that they're giving the Revolution enough credit. Well, Survivor was there speaking up for them, and the other groups that are there, but... They don't know what we know."
    Xorn leaned forward. "Can we try and get in contact with them again?"
    "No," Steel opined grimly. "As long as I'm operating with the team, MEDUSA considers us all to be a security risk. They're not going to listen to anything that we have to say, and if we do manage to get in there, you can bet that we'll end up in a military prison fairly quickly. I'm sorry, it's just one of the counterbalances of my own peculiar background."
    "So, what exactly do we know?"
    Daedalus spoke again, "We know that Emily and Dawn are connected somehow. We know that both of them have the ability to rewrite reality on one level or another. Emily, you've been crying in your sleep pretty much constantly since this started..."
    "She's... she's bound somehow. And moving... moving fast," the tall woman told them. She didn't look good, wings stretched to fill most of the room, as if picking up a signal through them.
    "Bound but moving fast? What, is she in a plane or something?" Steel asked.
    "No...I don't...."
    "Accelerated time rate," Xorn said suddenly. "Whatever's going on in there, it's moving at an accelerated time rate. Would that match what you're feeling?"
    "You think she's responsible for it, though?"
    "Not of her own free will," Emily replied quietly.
    "Can you get through to her? Break her out? At least get her to open up the dome somehow, do something?"
    "Someone's gotten control of her powers. If we feed her more power, it might expand the dome."
    "That's not good," he admitted. "Can we drain power out of her, somehow?"
    "I don't think so," she whispered.
    "So we alter the conditions of the test," Cold Steel mused. "Get her to change something."
    "Change what?"
    "We're gonna have to figure out. If you can get through to her, if Trent can somehow back you up and get through to her, and we're in position to take advantage of something, it would only have to be a momentary gap for Xorn and I to get in. Or at least to find out more about what's going on, or even change things inside to give the Revolution more of a chance, we just have to figure out what the one code phrase would be. What one change would matter."
    "If we had enough power to back it up, we could possibly effect an awful lot of changes. But where are we going to get that?" she wondered. Someone walked through the wall and out of the room—which was, in truth, a hologram generated by equipment in the Host's headquarters.
    "Our contact was correct, it's obvious they know most about what's going on here," the man stated. "We're going to have to get through to them. Apollyon, can you put together a team and head out in position to give them the backup they need?"
    Apollyon, standing in his usual regal pose, nodded slowly.
    "I don't see why that's required," Uriel replied. "We've handled these sorts of situations before. There's no reason to bring a variant team in on this."
    "They seem to have the best idea of what's happening."
    She shrugged. "So we get whatever information we need from them, through whatever means, and then we move in and handle it on our own. Their forces are simply not to be trusted in this."
    "Is there anyone whose forces you would trust in this?"
    "We've never required outside help before."
    The door opened. "That's not entirely true," Chandler Prentice noted. "If I recall, you were my familiar once."



March 28, 2003, Boston

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© 2003 Rebecca J. Stevenson