Part 21: Architect: Out of Place - Part ThreePreviously, on City of Heroes:
"Do you know, Peacebringer J, I just realized. We're having an honest-to-goodness team-up, aren't we?"
Dr. Aeon explained that the reason the ghosts were attacking was due to a perpendicular universe colliding with ours. Apparently, when universes that have completely differing structures meet the results always turn out rather nasty.
I remembered that Neutrina, the heroine from the festival, had a strong connection with subatomic particles and decided that we should try and enlist her help. We met up at her "allies'" art studio (a re-purposed warehouse), and proceeded to rescue her and her friends from the ghosts. Afterwards, we headed back to the Architect Entertainment building to continue figuring out what to do.
Out of Place
"Right. We have our organic high-energy particle detector, we have a bunch of Longbow scanners... and what else? Oh YES, I have some pocket lint that's more useful than the latter!"
"Riiight. You know, if we contacted someone like Positron or Dr. Science or even I dunno, Dark Watcher or something we could probably get real some kind of better equipment."
"BAH! Do you hear those sirens? Listen to those army jets mobilizing! What's happening to Paragon City is spreading all over the entire WORLD, and here we are, playing with equipment roughly at the level of LINCOLN LOGS while the planet BURNS!
Well, I say it's time we pulled out the big guns! Longbow thought they were so smart, confiscating my personal devices! Well, foo to them: I smuggled a state-of-the-art Dimensional Correlator right into the predicted epicenter of the disturbance!
Right under Longbow's little, piggy noses! How did I accomplish that, you ask?
EASY! I did it TWO YEARS AGO!
BWA-HA-HA, what an untrammeled JOY it is to be ME!"
"So we what, go to those machines and just turn 'em on and then everything's solved? Why didn't we just start with that in the first place if you already knew what was going to happen?!"
"Why should I? I have no particular desire to see the world destroyed; but on the other hand, why waste a golden opportunity for science? I always have to keep in mind an illustrative principle I like to call Aeon's Cat: "Let a hero observe your experiments, and she'll inevitably bung them right up." There's a bit more math behind it, of course, but I have to consider your limitations."
"You just let this all happen and now that everything's going to plan you're going to 'fix' it? At this point I'm back to not even knowing if you caused this in the first place!"
"You don't trust me? Oh yes, that's fair. Perfectly fair. Fair, fair, fare-thee-well. True, this could all be a horrible Arachnos plot. But consider this:
See those TVs in the shop window over there? Look, there's Dr. Science. And Positron's on that channel. And so on. All those dithering, dilettantish dullards, with their supposed 'expertise.' Listen to them. What are they saying? EXACTLY WHAT I WAS TELLING YOU AN HOUR AGO! And those were things I had figured out YEARS ago!
As always, I am three point one four steps ahead of everyone else (rounding off). I run circles around them, ha hah! By the time the "heroes" figure things out, the world will have ENDED! Only I can sa
Urk. What in SCIENCE'S name was I about to say?
I can... *hwulp!*... SAVE THE PLANET?
Sweet mercy, WHAT HATH SCIENCE WROUGHT?!"
After calming down, Aeon pointed out that he had built the Architect Entertainment building right next to the epicenter of the dimensional collision. By some freak accident (or dimensional nonsense) the epicenter happened to be in the tallest building in Steel Canyon:
The former Southern Manufacturing Co. headquarters. Also known as the "Nemesis Tower" by folks who still remember Brass Monday, seeing as the company and its headquarters were a front for Nemesis's attempt to conquer Paragon City back in 1932.
All we had to do was get in, take the readings, and get out. While reality itself clashed with some other dimension's reality. Nothing too bad, right?
As we approached the tower the sky turned a sickly green- another sign of the barriers between the two dimensions clashing. Immediately after entering the building, I noticed something majorly wrong. Despite being just behind me, Aeon and Neutrina had both disappeared.
Most likely related to that, the insides of the building were radically distorted, as if viewed through some poorly made lens. While I didn't seem to distort, the ghosts definitely warped with the environment, losing some of their human figure in the process.
As I headed into the building, a fog began rolling in from ahead. Though, it felt less like condensation and more like... radiation?
The source of the fog seemed to be from the former lobby of the building, emanating from some strange energy clouds and-
"Peacebringer J! These... energy fields are pulling me to them! I can't help it!"
I rushed in to help her, but couldn't seem to pull her out of the clouds at all. So, I did the only thing that seemed to work when it came to the rest of this nonsense.
The clouds disappeared in the same way that the ghosts did- another byproduct of the dimensional collision or something. As I approached Neutrina to speak to her, she ran ahead at a speed I'd never seen her take before, shouting something like:
"Dr. Aeon got ahead of me. I'llmakesurehedoesn'tgetintotroubleBYE!"
As I ran after her, the fog began thickening to the point of where I could tell it was some type of radiation simply by how it felt. The source was yet another set of clouds, with Neutrina once again being pulled into them.
"N! N! Stp dng ths t s! Y hv t g bk!"
I cleared out the clouds, and then went to speak to Neutrina.She was 'faded'- probably being drawn into that other dimension just by being near it.
Her voice was difficult to make out; it wasn't quite faint, but rather more like her words were stripped of any useful context. I tried to convince her to get out, but I don't think she could quite understand what I was saying, either.
"Hy tre! I' tnk knw wt gng n, bt nd hlp... fl rl fny... "
"Neutrina, you've gotta get out of here- you're fading out of reality!"
"Gt g, thk cn fnd th src f t ll! W cn d ths!"
As she ran off I tried to stop her- but my hand phased through her body without her even noticing.
Chasing after her, she disappeared into another set of clouds. In her place was one of her friends, who was rather shocked to have suddenly appeared here.
"Trina? Where are you? Oh god, what's happening?"
"You've got to get out of here! It's not safe!"
"I'm not leaving here without Trina! What happened to her?"
"She somehow crossed over into another dimension to try and stop this, alright?
He accepted my white lie as I pointed him to the exit of the building, while I continued with my search for the doctor and Neutrina.
Unfortunately, I found Neutrina first. Or, what I think was Neutrina. More fog had appeared, and within the clouds was a singular ghost.
It seemed like it was trying to communicate with me, but I couldn't understand it.
"-- ---- - - ------- ----"
"--- -- ----- -- ---- ---- -- - ---"
I left her and the clouds behind, and continued deeper into the building. The doctor had apparently ended up in the basement, and was taking readings while waiting for my "inevitable" arrival.
He had ended up next to the Dimensional Correlator after entering the tower, and was taking the necessary readings as to compare to the machine's readings when I came along. Apparently, the machine was spewing out gibberish due to the dimensional interference, and my whole 'dimensional anchor' schtick was enough to make it work.
As Aeon collected the data from the machine he began panicking:
"Oh no. Oh DEAR, it's even worse than I thought! AND I HAVE SOME PRETTY HORRIBLE THOUGHTS!"
"What's the machine say?"
"It's... it's an Absolute Quantum Cascade Reaction! And we're about to get a little preview action, or warning shot...!"
As reality itself began crumbling around us, I grabbed him and activated my emergency teleporter, hoping that it would work despite the scientific chaos happening.
Luckily, we ended up in the AE building's medical hall as I rushed out to see what had happened to the building. For a moment it seemed completely fine, until the tower suddenly released a brief, massive wave of energy.
As I was getting up from the blast, I noticed that the radioactive fog from the building had began to cover the city, with some of the energy clouds coming from the building and floating off in various directions.
Dr. Aeon ran up behind me, absolutely hysterical at the turn of events, and shouted:
"You see? YOU SEE? And so the WORLD, if we don't do something!"