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Electra

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About Electra

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  • Birthday 04/19/1982

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  1. Singularity Power Level: 12 (180/180pp) Unspent Power Points: 0 Trade-Offs: None In Brief: Refugee doppelganger brought to Prime to save her from a lifetime of use as an extremely lethal weapon, now a college student and semi-reluctant sidekick to a frog prone to wacky hijinks. Catchphrase: “You really don't want to do that.” Theme: “Nothing to Remember” by Neko Case Alternate Identity: Jessie White, formerly Erin White Birthplace: Seattle, Earth EZO1(e) Residence: DuTemps Building in Freedom City, roommates with Aquaria Base of Operations: DuTemps Building Occupation: College Student Affiliations: Aquaria, Wander, DuTemps Residents, Project Freedom Family: Erin Hunter-White (Wander): Sister(ish), Trevor Hunter (Midnight): Brother-in-law(ish) Description: Age: 25 (DoB November 11, 1992) Gender: Female Ethnicity: White, very fair Height: 5'8 Weight: 175 Eyes: Brown Hair: Dyed blonde, short Singularity bears a very strong relationship to Wander, though the two are obviously different if seen close together. It's more than the hair color, it's the entire bearing. Jessie holds herself extremely close, often slouching or rounding her shoulders, hugging her arms to her chest or ducking her head, making herself small unless she is deliberately trying to intimidate. Her wardrobe is very typical for a poor college student, for all she's getting to the older end of the demographic, lots of jeans and t-shirts or light blouses throughout the year because she never gets cold. Her uniform is black with a few orange-brown accents, and she wears an ankle monitor at all times. Lately she has taken to carrying a strange shield with an arcane symbol painted on it. History: Once upon a time there was a girl named Erin who lost her home. This is something of an understatement, honestly, but the whole story would take much too long. Suffice it to say that everyone she loved died, and everyone she hated died, and everyone she was mostly indifferent to died, so that eventually she had nobody left in the whole empty world but herself. So she went mad for a little while, and in the process, she lost track of herself as well. This is how it happened once: Erin was running through Oklahoma City and killing zombies like a running-and-killing robot, which was what she spent most of her time doing. Killing zombies was disgusting work but she was very good at it by now, and it was much better than stopping and having to risk thinking about everyone who had died. On this particular evening she spotted an electric light and thought that maybe she wasn't alone anymore, that maybe there were people and electric lights and human voices that did more than howl or scream, but she was wrong. When she found the light, it was a solar-powered sign that nobody had ever turned off, telling her that it was Christmas Eve and that everyone here was dead too. Unable to stand still and deal with that truth, she ran away as far and fast as she could and never looked back. Eventually she made her way to Freedom City and then to another Earth, where she lived happily ever after, or close enough. This is how it also happened: Erin did not run away. She couldn't do anything but stare at the sign she had hoped for so badly, until in her blurred vision it was just one more zombie. She attacked it as though it personally were responsible for all her many losses, screaming her rage as she smashed the light into darkness, the words into glass fragments. When it was done, she was left kneeling in the snow, her breath rasping so loudly in her ears that she didn't hear the footsteps or the voices until it was too late, much too late. She was not alone anymore, she had been found by a group of people who liked destructive things and were drawn to destroyed worlds in the hopes of finding more of them. Erin was captured and taken to another Earth, to another Freedom City, where she was ripped into tiny pieces. On Anti-Earth, the scientists were disappointed that whatever had killed Erin's world could not be replicated out of her cells, so there would be no exciting new plagues for them to play with. They gave her to The Academy to see what they could make of her, since she was the right age and had killed a number of scientists and guards in escape attempts that proved her aptitude. Erin proved stubbornly resistant to the Academy's culture and morals, however, so she was given to another new student as an extra-credit assignment. Pathos was more than happy to take on the work of bringing her around. The easiest and fastest way was simply to batter down all of Erin's mental defenses, then stroll through her mind, throwing away some memories while adding others, distorting others beyond recognition, and turning a few well-chosen ones into irresistible triggers. In well under a year, Erin could barely remember her own name from day to day, much less remember what had been done to her or formulate useful plans for escape. That wasn't to say she didn't try to escape, they just weren't very good attempts, typically full of incredible violence and mayhem that ended almost as soon as they began. The punishments for such attempts were severe, but the good part about not remembering anything was that she didn't remember. She could not be trained and could barely be controlled, but it was all worth it the first time Pathos turned her loose on a bunch of enemies and told Erin they were zombies threatening her little sister. The carnage was intense and very quick. Erin lost her old name but she got a new one: Singularity. The only survivor of a dead world, and an unstoppable force of destruction for anything in her gravitational pull. Pathos was a busy girl who couldn't spend all her time babysitting, so Singularity wound up spending most of her time in a reinforced white box of an underground holding cell, one that became more and more reinforced as she found new ways to almost escape. Pathos took most of her memories away, so she didn't know how long she spent in the box or much of what she did when she left, though she had the occasional scary technicolor dream about it. Eventually she began to associate the box with safety, with the outside world a nebulous place full of fear and fighting. That was where the other Erin found her when she came with her friends, broke the cage open, and dragged Singularity into the blinding light of a new reality. Erin knew that Singularity was dangerous, she knew she couldn't be trusted. Singularity didn't know much, but she knew that about herself. She also knew from what little she remembered of her many escape attempts that Pathos would come looking for her, and that Pathos would find her, and that the consequences would be unimaginably terrible. It was a relief to be arrested and put into the psychiatric ward at Blackstone Prison. The people there were very kind to her even though everyone there knew she was a crazy murderer, and in such a high-security facility, maybe even Pathos would have a hard time getting in. They gave her another new name at Blackstone, because she couldn't be Erin anymore and Singularity was not an appropriate people name. She dipped way back into her scrambled memories and borrowed a name from one of her favorite children's books and that was good enough. Once upon a time there was a girl named Jessie who lost her memory. Well, not lost, not really. She gave it up on purpose and she knew where it went. A girl with the same voice and face as Pathos told her that the fastest way to get better would be to take away all the ruined parts of her memory and replace them with undamaged ones from the Erin who'd lived happily ever after. Jessie was happy at Blackstone, but she did want to be better, and she didn't want to have to think about all the bad things she'd done and had done anymore. And it worked, or at least it worked well enough. Jessie knew the childhood memories she had weren't hers (though they technically were); they had the smooth-edged quality of being watched through a screen, like remembering a movie she'd seen a thousand times. And in all the places where Jessie had been and Erin hadn't, there was nothing, just empty white darkness inside her head. But the nightmares went away, and the fits of uncontrollable rage. She was better. What Jessie had not foreseen was that getting better would lead to the end of safety. When she was better, they would not let her stay in her cozy room in Blackstone with its strict routines and thick steel walls. Instead she went to Project Freedom, where they taught her how to live in the world as a grownup, even though in her mind she'd only lived sixteen and a half years. She met Aquaria there, who was friendly and nice, and who didn't care that Jessie couldn't talk about her past or her family or pop culture or much of anything, or that she'd killed far more people and zombies than anyone could begin to count. Aquaria was her friend, the first one Jessie'd had in two entire worlds. When she went places with Aquaria, Jessie could hide her own painful awkwardness behind Aquaria's cheerfully brash alienness and most people didn't even notice her. Eventually, though, even Project Freedom came to an end, and Jessie had to go out, over her own protests, into the world. Erin stepped back in then, finding Jessie a safe place to live with one of her own friends and even providing the money for college. Jessie knew that the things Erin did for her came mostly from guilt, guilt that somewhere along the line of their shared life, something had gone right for her and terribly wrong for Jessie. It meant they'd probably never be friends, but Jessie was still grateful for the help. She didn't make great progress in college, being constantly called away on Aquaria's crazy adventures, but she worked hard and steadily to pass whatever classes she could. She practiced her hero skills too, and helped out wherever she could to keep people safe and evil things at bay. Mostly, though, she tried to figure out what to do with her life. It seemed inevitable that at some point her time at the DuTemps building would have to come to an end too, and she would need to be ready. Personality & Motivation: Jessie really does want to help, but she spends a lot of her time dealing with significant anxiety that is free-floating because its moorings have all been ripped out. She will always follow Aquaria into danger and will usually follow anybody else with a good reason, but she doesn't enjoy hero work and would be happier if she didn't have to do it. She wants a quiet life with no violence where she can concentrate on school, but she is unwilling to have that life at the expense of other people. Powers & Tactics: Singularity is an enhanced human being shaped by training and experience into a finely honed lethal weapon. Training on Earth Prime has helped to take some of the edge off that weapons, so that Jessie can fight nonlethally against most of the threats she deals with as a hero. Jessie's fighting style is raw and unpolished, mostly hitting and kicking, with her hands or with a bat, and counting on overwhelming ruthless strength to win the day. She would prefer not to fight, however, and will often use her ability to intimidate to try and defuse battles before they start. Fighting is bad, because sometimes Singularity will come out during a fight, and Singularity fights to kill. Power Descriptions: All Jessie's powers are of the “punch it till it falls down” or “run with your legs” descriptor. Lately she has also added “hit it with your scary shield” to her repertoire. Complications: The Frog Princess: Aquaria is Jessie's best friend and Jessie loves her very much. Aquaria gets Jessie into trouble ALL THE TIME. Sometimes Jessie wishes Aquaria had more friends. Cinderella: Jessie is latest and least of all the Erins on Earth Prime, so much so that she couldn't even get a piece of their shared name. She has her own identity now, but being third of three is still fraught with all kinds of problems, especially when it comes to mistaken identity. Rapunzel: Jessie's legal status is fairly opaque due to a lot of negotiations on behalf of non-Prime natives who commit crimes in their own worlds, but suffice it to say she is on supervised release. She has a monitoring bracelet and an allowed travel radius, and breaking that can cause a lot of trouble. Gretel: Jessie has most of a lifetime of borrowed memories in her head, but there is almost nothing left anymore of her time in captivity except bone-deep fear without any object. She knows enough to be afraid of Pathos, but this loss of markers might make her vulnerable to others from her past. Abilities: 8 + 4 + 4 + 0 + 2 + 2 = 20PP Strength: 30/18 (+10/+4) Dexterity: 20/14 (+5/+2) Constitution: 30/14 (+10/+2) Intelligence: 10 (+0) Wisdom: 12 (+1) Charisma: 12 (+1) Combat: 12 + 12 = 24PP Initiative: +13 Attack: +6 Base, +10 Melee Grapple: +24 Defense: +10 (+6 Base, +4 Dodge Focus), +3 Flat-Footed Knockback: -12 Saving Throws: 0 + 3 + 7 = 10PP Toughness: +14/+2 (+8 Enhanced Con, +2, [Impervious 10] +4 Forcefield) Fortitude: +10/+2 (+2 Con, +8 Enhanced Con) Reflex: +8/+5 (+2 Dex, +3 Enhanced Dex, +3) Will: +8 (+1 Wis, +7) Skills: 64R = 16PP Acrobatics 10 (+15, SM) Craft (Artistic) 8 (+8) Intimidate 14 (+15, SM) Notice 9 (+10, SM) Sense Motive 9 (+10, SM) Stealth 10 (+15) Survival 4 (+5) Feats: 25PP Acrobatic Bluff All-Out Attack Attack Focus (Melee) 4 Challenge 2 (Fast Acrobatic Bluff, Fast Startle) Dodge Focus 4 Environmental Adaptation (Underwater) Evasion Improved Initiative 2 Interpose Luck 2 Power Attack Skill Mastery (Acrobatics, Intimidate, Notice, Sense Motive) Startle Takedown Attack Uncanny Dodge (auditory) Powers: 10 + 16 + 6 + 12 + 1 + 2 + 10 + 9 + 9 + 2 + 8 = 85PP Device 3 (Elder Sign Shield, 15PP, Flaw: Easy to Lose, PF: Indestructible) [10PP] Damage 4 (shield strike, PF: Mighty) {5} Enhanced Feats 3 (Second Chance 3 [Toughness Saves Against Falling Damage, Will Saves against Confuse and Mind Control) {3} Immunity 3 (drowning, environmental cold, high pressure) {3} Force Field 4 {4} Enhanced Constitution 16 [16PP] Enhanced Dexterity 6 [6PP] Enhanced Strength 12 [12PP] Feature 1 (Temporal Inertia) [1PP] Immunity 2 (disease, poison) [2PP] Impervious Toughness 10 [10PP] Movement Array 8 (8 points; PF: Alternate Power) [9PP] BE: Leaping 4 (x25; running long jump 500 feet, standing long jump 250 feet, vertical jump 125 feet) + Super-Movement 2 (Slow Fall, Wall-Crawling 1) {4+4=8/8} AP: Speed 4 (100 mph / 1000 feet per move action) + Super-Movement 2 (Water-Walking 2) {4+4=8/8} Regeneration 9 (Bruised 3 [No Action], Injured 6 [No Action]) [9PP] Super-Senses 2 (Accurate Hearing) [2PP] Super-Strength 4 (Effective STR 50, Heavy Load 12.5 tons) [8PP] DC Block ATTACK RANGE SAVE EFFECT Unarmed Touch DC29 Toughness Damage (Physical) Totals: Abilities (20) + Combat (24) + Saving Throws (10) + Skills (16) + Feats (25) + Powers (85) = 180/180 Power Points
  2. "Shouldn't have to." On the other side of the room, Wander was checking her gear, grim-faced and steady handed. There weren't many fights she walked into with more than just her bat, but for this run she had a backpack of basic supplies including food, first aid, and extra weapons. Nothing on Nihilor could be trusted to be free of contamination. "We can worry about getting back when the job's done." She tried not to think about the possibility of not coming back, or of how much more powerful she'd been the last time she'd faced the wrath of the Terminus head--on. Didn't matter, she reminded herself. These were the people who had once killed her world and everyone she loved. If she died stopping them from doing that a second time, it would be enough. Slinging her bag onto her back, she holstered her bat and walked over to Trevor. She wanted to hold him, just in case they didn't have another chance later, but she didn't want to distract him from his work. She settled for brushing a hand lightly over his shoulder as she watched the spot where the portal would open. "Ready?"
  3. "Well it can't have been just to pick us off," Goggles reasoned, "that would be too complex even for your average supervillain's stupidly complex plan. It would've been child's play to engineer a dimensional portal generator that worked fine in every test, but when it detected our genetic signature, transported us into the yawning void between universes-" "It ain't actually a void," Cowboy Hat interrupted. 'S more like a big clock, or one of those antique things where the planets spin around on wires." Several other Erins nodded in remembrance, including Erin herself. Goggles thought about that for a second. "Huh. Well, whatever it's like, you guys could've gotten dumped there, or on any of a million deadly universes, but instead you came to where you intended to go, right? So the question is not only who wants to destroy us, but why they specifically want us all together more than, or at least before, they want us dead?" "Terminus has magic-users," Midnight-Erin put in. "Could be some arcane power in killing a bunch of us at once." "But that would mean one of us was actually working for the Terminus," Erin protested. "Can you really see that happening?" Midnight-Erin shrugged. "Better people than us have been corrupted. We're not special." "What do you think?" Megan asked Robot worriedly. "Did the one who attacked you look like she was working for the Terminus?" Robot blinked at her a minute. "I don't know," she finally said. "What would that look like?" "Um, evil, I guess?" Megan answered hesitantly. "Well, she did rip my heart out," Robot pointed out. "Right," Megan said weakly. She looked over at Trevor. "What are you doing?"
  4. "Surface level biometrics are identical on most human-organic versions of Erin until you reach the very edges of our probability sheaf," Robot explained, her voice growing a little easier as Goggles began carefully adding the antifreeze Erin gave her. "But I noticed that the Erin and Jessie on my world had subtle biometric distinctions due to the years they spent apart. It's not an exact science, it's the shape of the face, the length and color of the hair, skin temperature and the very faint scarring they tend to keep after fights. The one who attacked me had more of those scars than any of the Erins I've encountered, and her hair was jet black." "That doesn't sound like anybody we've seen so far," Erin agreed, just a little doubtfully. There were already more of her around than she could keep track of. She leaned back against the work table, well out of the way. "Did she say anything to you?" "Not so much," Robot replied, "but she seemed really pissed when she figured out I wasn't what she thought. I- my memory isn't entirely clear, but I think she went through my stuff." She gestured vaguely to the coolant-splattered backpack laying next to the table. "Broke my dimensional transit machine." Aaron picked up the backpack and began looking through it, careful to avoid the stains. He pulled out a badly damaged piece of equipment that looked a lot like a sonic screwdriver cosplay. He blinked. "This is exactly like mine. Tricia got ahold of it somewhere a few months ago." Robot nodded. "Trevor had it, but they gave it to me when they decided to take Jessie and hunker down in the Manor." Her smile was a little twisted. "I wasn't exactly welcome, but they didn't want me to just die, I guess." "Mine looks like that too," White-Hair said, frowning. "But Dragonfly had it, not Midnight. I don't know where she got it from." "Same here. She told me wanted to analyze it when I brought it back, so i guess she probably didn't build it herself," Cowboy agreed. "One of my friend on Next Gen gave mine to me," Megan offered, "but I don't know where they got it." She held up an intact version of the same tool. "Don't look at me," Hell-Queen put in laconically, "I got here by magic." She looked around. "But it's interesting how many of you happened to come across the same tool that you could use to get to a more central dimension even though dimensional travel isn't part of our traditional skillset."
  5. Raina's skin itched from the magic pouring through the room, sealing the rift she'd slammed shut. It was old, old magic, age that her senses parsed as the scent of mothballs and rare books and cedar, and it was neither good nor evil, it just was, with an implacability that would've disturbed her if she could've collected her thoughts long enough to consider it. Instead all those impressions drained instantly to the back of her mind as she stood in the middle of her magic circle and got a good look at what she'd done. "Sorry," she heard herself mumbling in Robin's direction. "Sorry, shit, sorry, sorry, sorry, I didn't mean-" She took a step back, then another one, taking herself out of the circle, then looked over her shoulder. The place where her parents had been was empty, they were gone. That was... not too surprising, really. "I'm so sorry, Robin, I didnt- I gotta-" Stiffening her back to keep from stumbling, she turned and broke into a walk just shy of a jog, heading for the nearest door. Merlin appeared out of nowhere to leap onto her backpack and scramble to her shoulder as she went. With any luck, she could get someplace a lot more private before she started throwing up.
  6. "What's a wendigo?" Jessie asked. She was staying well back from the main action, hugging a wall and watching everybody carefully. "I dunno, whatsa' wendigo with you?" Goggles muttered absently, now up to her wrists in the robot Wander. "Okay, I think that'll patch the leak, that's a good start. No idea what it is though, some kind of coolant? You got any antifreeze laying around?" "It's a magic-adjacent creature kind of like a werewolf," Hell-Queen Erin explained dryly. "So basically very much like any of the rest of us except that if she becomes really angry, she's even more violent and deadly than usual." "Oh," Jessie said faintly, looking as though she were trying to press herself through the wall by osmosis. "That's completely oversimplifyin'-" Cowboy Hat began, then subsided at Hell-Queen's raised eyebrow, "but probably good enough for now. I've got it under control most of the time, ain't killed anybody since my first year at Claremont. We've got bigger fish to fry here." "She's right," Megan said, making her way through the crowd with the ripple of strange tension that always marked her passage amongst the gathered Erins. None of them ever seemed to know what to say, which would've been almost comical if it weren't so tragic. "We all need to work together, no matter what difference there are in the worlds we come from. Losing my sister once was enough," she entreated the group at large, "I don't want to see any more of you die!" The silence in the room was total and deeply uncomfortable. Finally Erin cleared her throat and looked back to the work table. "Right, yeah. Working together. Is she gonna be all right?" The robot on the table opened her eyes, twisting her neck a little in a move that looked like it hurt. "Functional," she reported in a wheezy voice. "Could be worse."
  7. The fact that Erin was able to pick up her leaking robot doppelganger without a qualm was merely testament to what kind of night it had been already. The robot Wander seemed to be edging on some kind of failsafe or powersave mode, reciting strings of code under her breath or trying to tell Erin about the Deep One version of themself that she'd been trying to track down. "Yeah," Erin assured her, "that one's come in too, there's all sorts of people here. Don't talk anymore, it's making you leak faster." Jessie had scampered ahead to hold open the clock, then followed them down the stairs to the workshop. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there weren't a lot of Wanders answering the call for technical support, but one Erin did show up wearing circuit-patterned gloves and a pair of goggles that obviously had a built-in HUD, as did Midnight-Wander. "Ouch," Goggles commented as Erin laid the robot on the worktable. She glanced around at the others. "So I'm guessing the nexus might not be as free of heart-destroying dimensional abominations as we might have hoped." "Still strength in numbers," Midnight-Wander pointed out brusquely. "We need to get her operational again so she can tell us if she saw anything. Can you do it?" Goggles blinked, her eyes big behind the glasses. "I dunno," she admitted. "But I can probably do something. Tech isn't actually my specialty, it's just that this universe is so backwards, no offense, that anybody could be a hacker." She pulled a kit of tiny but sophisticated tools from a secondary holster next to her bat and unrolled them. "First thing's probably to stop the leaking."
  8. "No!" Raina shrieked, pulling away from her parents as she struggled not to retch at the feeling of power washing through her. So much spilled blood, so much more than she'd ever imagined trying to work with, and some of it belonging to somebody who was nearly a friend. Somebody who was now in serious danger of bleeding to death in the middle of the ritual circle. Without a thought, she catapulted through the air to land in the middle of the circle near where the portal had so recently been, one that was still humming with magic and power. "No, no, no, no. It is not happening like this!" She leaned down over Robin, looked at Fred, and then raked her perfectly manicured fingernails down her own arm, raising three tiny furrows of dotting blood. "Now maybe I'm just thinking that the rooms are all on fire," she sang softly, almost spitefully, "every time you walk in the room. But there is magic all around us, if I do say so myself, I have known this much longer than I've known you..." The circle flared, and from outside it looked as though a pillar of fire were rising up from the ground to obscure everyone inside it. Raina screamed once, though it sounded more angry than afraid or in pain, and after about five seconds it began to fade away again. Robin and Fred, trapped in the circle with Raina, could both feel a burn that simultaneously hot and soothing over their various wounds, stopping the bleeding and easing the pain. The room seemed much darker when the fire died away, leaving afterimages and ruined night vision all around. In the aftermath, Raina stood in the center of her circle, defiant, unscratched, and completely covered in fine black soot. Her eyebrows and bangs were totally burnt away, giving her a startled expression even as she glowered.
  9. The Midnight Erin nodded at Trevor, angling her body so she could look at him from the corner of her eye rather than head-on. "About half of the Erins who've arrived live in the Manor on their worlds. Some of them have gone to collect bedding so we can set up a barracks in the trophy room, maybe one of the garages if people keep arriving. Maybe Mark can whip up some cots. Under control, do what you need to." She turned away and raised a hand to run it through her hair, stopping when she remembered it was covered, then headed back to the wall of security feeds. Across the room, Erin made the same gesture but managed to complete it, disordering her auburn hair with agitated fingers. "Right, yeah. We should get some kind of plan in order here, and somebody really should get Jessie out of jail." She looked to Mark. "You've probably got the best legal contacts, can you find somebody at Project Freedom or the Freedom League and tell them what's going on? We can send somebody over to pick Jessie up and get her back here, but nobody should be traveling alone if something's gunning for us." "We should mount a watch," the Erin in blue and white suggested. "The surveillance here is not bad for a private residence, but nothing beats the personal touch. And lay in some food supplies. Do you have Big Star Pizza in this world?" she asked hopefully. "God, I miss real Freedom City pizza."
  10. "Clara, be polite," said the Wander with the flag on her arm, even as she reached down to scoop up the little girl. This Erin watched Mark with wary impassivity, an expression more carefully schooled than what he was used to seeing on Erin's face. "Remember that this isn't our home, and the people here aren't the same as the ones you know, even if they look familiar." Clara's little face (it was hard to tell her age, but she didn't look more than four or five) screwed up as she thought about that, then smoothed into a polite little pout. "No thank you, Daddy," she tried again, "but can I have a unicorn with rainbow hair instead?" From next to them, Megan muffled a snicker. The brief moment of byplay was enough to let Erin finish staring and recover her equilibrium. She knew Megan had caught her staring, but the younger heroine seemed resigned to it by now. Erin was hardly the only one in the room doing so. Before she could say anything, though, another pair of Wanders joined the group, one a dead-ringer doppelganger except for the blue streaked hair, the other sporting a spiky auburn cap and a uniform that seemed to be about 85% pockets. Pocket-Wander grinned at Erin. "Hey, long time no see! I'm Wonder," she added helpfully. "We were Disco Freedom last time you dropped in on us, but we're over that now. Remember? You helped us beat Breakdown so hard he pissed himself?" Erin nodded, she did indeed remember that. "Anyway, me and my kind-of evil doppelganger are both here. Wander here and I stashed her in your holding cell, hope that's okay?" "Ah, yeah, that's fine." Erin said, trying to make her voice strong enough to at least be audible. "Do we know if there are any other evil or evilish Wanders running around?" "I saw a Deep One Wander about ninety minutes ago," Blue Streaks volunteered, "but I couldn't catch up to her. She seemed kinda pissed. And I guess your Jessie's still in prison, or in prison again?" "Who's Jessie?" asked Cowboy Hat. On the other side of the room, Midnight Erin stared at Trevor for another few moments, then blew out a long breath. "Yeah, I hope so. It's what Travis said too." She rested her hand on the edge of the console, pressing down with her fingertips in the deliberate way Erin had of controlling her strength when she'd rather be crushing or punching or smashing some hapless inanimate object. "Feels strange to be here like this," she admitted. "Haven't seen other people in the house for awhile."
  11. "This is it," Erin murmured to Trevor, staring around at the crowd of herself. "I always figured one day I'd just crack under the pressure, but this isn't really how I saw it going down." Her grip on his arm was implacable as stone, just shy of painful. Most of the other Erins were obviously able to hear her, but they seemed to be a taciturn bunch overall, most of them watching at best, glaring at worst. Every defensible corner of the room had been staked out by at least one Erin, while the rest milled about more or less aimlessly. White-haired Erin stepped forward from among the throng, giving her counterpart a crooked smile. "I'm gonna guess from context clues that you're probably the Wander who actually lives here. Sorry for dropping in on you like this, but I guess that's what happens when you live on the dimensional nexus; you get all the weird relatives dropping in every time there's an emergency." "What kind of emergency are we talking about?" Erin asked, her focus sharpening. "Y'know, the thang that keeps hopping dimensions and ripping our hearts out, or tryin' to anyway," This came from a Wander who seemed to have traded the usual spandex or tac pants for riding chaps and whose reinforced vest had a silver star on it. Erin was absolutely sure she had a cowboy hat somewhere nearby. "You ain't heard anything round these parts?" White-haired Wander didn't seem surprised by Erin's obvious incomprehension. "Dragonfly, our Dragonfly, theorized that whatever it is got started away from the dimensional nexus and has been sweeping its way inward, maybe because it came from that direction, maybe because it wants to hit the nexus last. Either way, that's what got me headed in this direction." "We need to get a plan together to face this thing." Here was a Wander who looked quite similar to Erin herself, but much tireder and wearing a flash patch on her shoulder that looked like a flag with flowers, a crown and a Latin saying. Erin racked her brain and came up with "I live free and die," but suspected that was wrong. Flag-Wander had a little girl clinging to her leg, but Erin was very deliberately trying not to look at that right now lest she have that mental break for real. "Is this going to be a secure base?" "Depends on how many of you guys show up," Erin pointed out ruefully. "But yeah, I want as much info as I can get about the threat. Have you all been talking with each other?" "No offense or anything," a new voice piped up, "but I still think we'll be better off at Claremont. They'll have room and enough security to back us up." Erin felt her brain briefly white out as Megan pushed her way into the conversational circle. Not just Megan, but Megan three inches taller and with fifteen extra pounds of muscle from the last time Erin had been to Seattle. A Megan wearing a Claremont uniform like it was familiar as her own skin. She just stared. A few feet away, another clot of Wanders near the control board shifted around, apparently in the service of finding some bedding upstairs. Four or five Wanders left the room, leaving the way clear for Trevor to at least see his command center. There was a Midnight there already. That would've been surprising enough, but a second look revealed that this was almost certainly another Wander, judging from height and the way the costume fit. Midnight-Wander was already facing him, motionless and silent. After a moment she reached up and pulled off her mask, revealing an Erin who was staring at him very much the way his Erin looked at Megan: like the ghost of someone lost and bitterly grieved. "Trevor?" the unmasked Midnight asked, voice thick.
  12. Tired as she was, Wander had lost no time in spinning her own bat to full-length to face the intruder. Then blinked, her weapon faltering slightly as she got a load of who they were actually dealing with. She'd thought she had lost the ability to be surprised by her own doppelgangers at least a half-dozen universes ago, but this was a little beyond the pale. "Swander?" she repeated weakly. "Jesus Christ." Redbird's words didn't make her feel any better. "The usual me this time? As opposed to... another one..." She looked closer at the house, where there were a lot more lights burning than normal, even if Redbird had been expecting them to come home. "Redbird, is Jessie having some kind of party in there?"
  13. "Ah, protective custody?" White-Hair guessed. "The Singularity in my world didn't seem to be a target, nor did the native version of us, but it's smart to be careful. Hopefully we can figure this out soon and we can all go home." She sighed and raked a hand through her pale hair, a gesture she had in common with the Erin and Jessie that Aquaria knew. She looked around as though about to say something else, then startled slightly as Charlie slunk into the room, looking both nervous and put out. "What's Charlie doing here?" The question caught the attention of the little girl, who happily abandoned her bunch of grapes. "Kitty!" she cried enthusiastically, racing across the room much quicker than most children her age could manage. Charlie seemed to decide that this was more than enough and booked it for the door, his tail a bottle-brush puff. The little girl began to cry. "Hey now, Clara," Megan soothed, reaching down to scoop up the little girl before Clara's mother could break off from her conversation with Redbird. "It's all right, kitty was just surprised! Do you want to say hi to the nice frog lady?" Clara thought about that, one small hand tugging her own strawberry blonde curls. She looked adorably pathetic. "Yes," she finally sniffled. "Hi, Frog Lady."
  14. "Stay quiet," the Wander with the scythe instead of the bat told the young woman. She looked oddly familiar to Aquaria, someone she'd seen before, but not another iteration of Erin or Jessie. "We don't know if this is a safe place." "This is Midnight Manor," White-Hair explained to her compatriots. "Midnight is a good friend of ours, we should be safe here. Though I don't know why Redbird is putting out the all-call here and not Bluebird at the Castle. Maybe the Wander in this universe isn't around right now?" "I don't really care where we go as long as we get somewhere defensible, and soon," the burdened Wander snapped, shifting from foot to foot. "We can't just run around Freedom City all night." The weight on that Wander's back shifted, a small face suddenly becoming visible as what Aquaria had thought was a bag resolved itself into a small human, clinging with arms and legs. "Mommy?" the small human whispered, almost too softly for even the sensitive security pickups to catch. "Can we go home now?" "Not yet, baby," Mommy-Wander murmured soothingly while the others winced. "Soon as we can, I promise." "We could go to Claremont," the young woman suggested hopefully. "My friends there and I could-" The others all told her "No" simultaneously, with various degrees of firmness. She folded her arms over her chest and sulked. "This is getting ridiculous."
  15. Raina's eyes widened. "Do you have any idea what that's going to do to my karma?" she yelped, her voice shrill. "I don't want to know what threefold of bisecting somebody with a universe is!" But at the same time, she didn't have any better plans, and they were rapidly running out of options. She couldn't stop glancing over at the new thing that Fred had turned into, now obviously injured. but still in the fight. What would happen to little bitty Fred if big monster Fred took more damage than it could heal? What would happen to any of them if the feral Alkahest got truly loose to run around? Spinning away from Riley, she summoned a handful of brilliant, sickly green fire to her hand and pointed it at the wavering place where the portal had been. "We'll live in slow motion and be free," she sang, practically spitting the words, "with doors unlocked and open, doors unlocked and open..." The portal ripped its way into existence like a compressed spring freeing itself, once again glowing malevolently in the room.
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