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GM

 

San Diego, California

Friday January 4, 2019

8:22 PM local time

 

The night air was cool, at least for San Diego.  But to Cassidy Collins, it felt almost comfortable, seeing as it fifteen degrees warmer than Freedom City had been.  Dressed in his costume as Dust Devil II, Cassidy was standing atop an office building about two miles inland from the coast along a La Jolla Village Dr, near where it intersected with Interstate 5.

 

Cassidy had come to San Diego after he had seen a news report about an armed car robbery in La Jolla a few days ago.  Brazen as the crime might have been, Cassidy likely would have paid it little heed (there was more than enough crime to focus on in Southside), had it not been for the report included a short video clip from a traffic camera, that had shown one of the robbers carrying a high-tech weapon, one Cassidy had seen before in the crates his Uncle Ben had taken into the Southwest.

 

However, after deciding to investigate the appearance of at least one of those weapons, he had not quite anticipated just how spread out San Diego and the surrounding cities were.  With miles of canyons filled with corporate parks, shopping centers and residential development, there was no telling where the robbers might try to strike next. 

 

Cassidy was currently at a section of University City, a few miles from the location of the last robbery.  Both La Jolla Village Dr. below and the nearby interstate were busy with traffic.  Across the wide road from his location was a large, open-air shopping center, Westfield UTC, filled with some high end stores.  With little else to go on at the moment, he was gambling that perhaps the affluent area might be a tempting target for the robbers.

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Dust Devil II

 

Seeing those weapons on the news had brought back some bad memories. Cassidy could sometimes still feel the bullets holes, like phantom wounds, even if he knew they were long gone. It had been almost half a year, and this was his first lead to finding uncle Ben, and then he was all the way in San Diego. Getting here had been easy. Finding out anything about the weapons or uncle Ben? Much more difficult.

 

Cassidy had never been to San Diego before, and honestly, it was much more spread out than Freedom. No central place to stay and wait, and then swoop in. He couldn't really do much else but wait and hope something happened? So, here he stood, at the top of an office building. It close to the last location that had been hit, and it fit the same M.O., so hopefully, this would be the lead. 

 

At least he didn't need to sleep anymore. The only issue here was boredom, then. Hopefully something would happen soon.

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GM

 

Settling down on the edge of the building, Cassidy waited and watched as the people down below went about their evening. As the night continued to grow later, the traffic below began to thin somewhat, but it was still quite busy, not unlike parts of downtown Freedom City could be until very late at night.  But somehow he managed to avoid the boredom as he waited to see if the robbers using the advanced weapons might make another appearance.  After all, this was not Freedom City, so they likely did not expect any superheroes to be coming after them quite yet.

 

Then a faint sound of screams echoed over the more mundane noise of the traffic below.  Scanning the area below, he focused on the outdoor shopping center across the road, as he saw people starting to run away from one area of the mall.  From what he could see of the directions people were running, it appeared they were all moving away from a section toward the very center of the complex…

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Cassidy almost at the sound of the screams. His attention had been everywhere, all over the sights of the city, trying to find any sign of trouble, and then, it was just below, in the mall. People were running and screaming, all running away from the center. He couldn't quite see what was there, but he'd deal with that. Couldn't let people get hurt, with whatever they were running from.

 

He let himself fall off the building, his body dissolving into sand as he did so. Moving far faster than the wind could carry it, the sand flew down, straight towards the cause of the panic. He had to help everyone, but there was no reason to in without first getting a handle on what was going on.

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GM

 

Dust Devil quickly flew over the wide street below and over to the sprawling outdoor mall.  More people were running away in panic now, the center of the mall all but clearing out as Dust Devil heard the sound of breaking glass from somewhere just up ahead.

 

Rounding a corner of one of the main thoroughfares of the mall, Dust Devil spotted what appeared to be the source of the disturbance.  Further up ahead, the large windows of a jewelry store were smashed out, and a group of men in masks were making their way into the shop.  One of the men standing outside was holding one of the Terminus weapons Dust Devil had seen his uncle transporting…

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Masked men? Yeah, they were probably the bad guys. And the weapons? Yeah, they were probably the ones that uncle Ben had been selling. And they were using them to rob a jewelry store. Really? Was that what they thought to do with weapons that had been used in a freaking interdimensional invasion? For some reason, that just pissed Cassidy off. 

 

First things first, then. He had no idea what exactly the weapons could do, so any advantage would do here. Time to see how these punks dealt with a localized sandstorm coming their way. It was a good trick. Sand bursting out from him, cutting and ripping at them, getting in their eyes, whirling around. He was just sand, flying forward, in the middle of the storm. Get to them, then hit them.

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GM

 

Dust Devil's sandstorm quickly filled the air around the robbers he could see outside the store, the sand and wind swirling around them as the men raised their arms to try to shield their faces from the onslaught.  "What the…"  Several called out, along with a few colorful comments as the four robbers all tried to regain their bearings, in the face of the swirling sands.  None of them noting the approaching sand cloud that was Dust Devil himself.

 

As he drew closer, Dust Devil noticed there were still a few civilians near the scene of the robbery, a handful of people that had ducked behind some sort of cover when the commotion apparently started and where now to terrified to try to get further away…

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There were still people there, but they would be left untouched by the raging sandstorm. Cassidy had practiced long to be able to do so, but it was worth it, to keep them safe instead. Still, he needed to get in between them and the robbers before they started firing blindly. 

 

The sandstorm still whirling around him, the Dust Devil took solid shape once more, the sand solidifying near the front of the store. His arms already spread out to the sides, Cassidy couldn't keep a grim grin from his lips, as he brought his hands together with the sound of thunder, a shockwave bursting straight forward towards the crooks and the store. He would probably cause a lot of damage, but honestly, he didn't care much about what they were stealing. He cared more about how dangerous those weapons could be.

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GM

 

The robbers were barely able to register Dust Devil's appearance when the shockwave he created slammed into them full force.  The three in front of him, including the one with the Terminus weapon, were knocked off their feet and sent flying backward to slam into walls.  Unfortunately Dust Devil's shockwave was not as indiscriminant as it blasted out the remaining sections of the windows to the store, shattered several glass cases within and knocked over other display cases in addition to causing other chaos within the store.

 

When the dust settled, two more robbers appeared from a door toward the back of the store.  One of them had his arm around a young woman and was holding a pistol to her head.  The other was aiming his weapon at Dust Devil, but did not fire. 

 

"Back off!"  The man holding the store employee yelled.  "Back off or she's dead!"

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Was it excessive force, breaking parts of the shop to take down the men? Probably, but Cassidy was more focused on taking them down quick. There was no telling what those weapons could do to anyone, and he wasn't about to risk that. And then they had a hostage. Damn. Cassidy had hoped that everyone was gone from the store already, but it didn't seem like that was the case after all.

 

At least his sand storm was still raging, still swirling around them, making it difficult for the two robbers to see anything. That might give him a chance here, at least. So, what should he do? Give up, let them get away with the hostage and the jewelry? Take a shot? He had been practicing. He was getting better, but still... it was a chance.

 

And then he saw it, the water. That was not how water was meant to behave, was it? It is moving forward, towards the robber. Maybe it would be best to see how it played out, then? 

 

"Alright." He raised his hands, taking a step back. The sand still spun around him, he wasn't about to let that go. Not if it meant they didn't notice the water. "No need to go killing anyone now. You don't want that on yer conscience, do ya?"

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GM

 

Between the swirling sand and Dust Devil's presence, the two remaining robbers did not notice the approach of the water, which flowed across the floor far faster than water likely should. 

 

"Do you want it on yours?"  The man with the gun called out, his hand trembling slightly, but he did his best to keep the weapon aimed at the hostage’s head and his eyes on Dust Devil.  The sands lashing around him made the second harder, but he was managing to resist the stinging sands for the moment.

 

The water pooled up underneath the man and his hostage as a few tense moments passed, the two robbers unsure how to proceed as Dust Devil continued to block their exit.  Then, the water rose up into the air in a flash, spreading out over the side of the woman that was toward the robber's pistol, moving all the way up to include a barrier between her head and the pistol.  Even as the water formed this barrier, it seemed to shift in nature, seemingly becoming more…solid.

 

Although surprised, and still holding the woman with his other hand, the robber pulled the trigger of his pistol.  The bullet slammed into the water that was between the weapon and the hostage, glancing harmlessly away without any apparent ill effect to the water barrier.

 

The other robber had taken his gaze off Dust Devil at this moment, the pistol he had been aiming at the hero dropping down slightly as the man's attention was no longer on where he was aiming his weapon…

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A stand off, then. Fine. Cassidy began shifting his sand slightly. Time for another trick, but, the water was still moving. And yeah, his gamble paid off. The water moved with intent, moving up between the robber and the hostage and blocking his bullet. 

 

Cassidy took his own shot, raising his right hand towards the other robber, now that he seemed distracted. A revolver made out of sand formed in his hand. He probably didn't really need to do this, but it felt right. Something left over from his predecessor, maybe? Didn't know, didn't care. It felt right. Pulling the trigger of sand, he fired a sand bullet at the man. It wouldn't kill him, but it would hurt if it hit, and hopefully take him down for the count.

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GM

 

The robber barely had a chance to be shocked by the appearance of the water that protected his hostage when Dust Devil's sand blast slammed into his chest.  The impact knocked him unconscious which caused him to let go of the hostage and he was sent flying backward where he slammed into a turned over display case.

 

The pistol in the hand of the last robber was shaking badly as the man tried to take in all that was going on around him.  But he seemed unable to pull the trigger, instead choosing to run towards the blasted out windows, trying to get around Dust Devil.  Of course, the swirling sand around him slowed him down and he was just able to make it to the opening.

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Tsunami

 

As the last robber started to run, another figure came through the door toward the backroom of the store.  The newcomer appeared to be a young Asian woman, dressed in a skin-tight bodysuit that was colored in several shades of blue that had a pattern that seemed almost to flow and shimmer like water.  She wore a dark blue domino mask that covered the upper part of her face and had one hand extended in front of her, generally reaching out toward the water that had formed the barrier around the hostage.

 

Turning her gaze toward the robber attempting to flee, the costumed female lowered her extended hand and the water that had formed barrier spilled down to the floor.  With a smooth motion, the Asian woman brought her hands together in towards her torso and then extended out once more, a blast of water shooting forth from her open palm.  The blast struck the fleeing robber squarely in the back, knocking him unconscious and sending him flying out into the open area outside.

 

Lowering her hands, the costumed young woman turned her gaze towards Dust Devil.  "Greetings, I am Tsunami."  She stated calmly as she started forward to check on the hostage who had dropped down to sitting on the floor.

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One shot. Maybe Cassidy was getting better at the old Dust Devil's gun trick than he thought. So, one guy remaining. And he started running. Probably didn't like his odds, being all alone now. He was about to go for the robber, but a newcomer beat him to it. He had been right about the water, then. A hero, someone that could manipulate water. Her entire costume brought it to mind. Skin-tight, unlike his own. She moved, and Cassidy found himself just watching as the water followed her movements, sending the robber flying out of the store. He might even have been unconscious before he hit the floor.

 

"Dust Devil." He nodded at once, then turned towards the nearest robber, kneeling by him. Tsunami was checking on the girl, no reason to crowd her. "Is she alright?" At least Cassidy was a good enough shot to not touch her with his shot, but still, the shock alone could be too much for the poor girl. Nobody liked having guns pointed at them. He wasn't the most personable person, so hopefully Tsunami would be better at dealing with her, while he looked at the weapons. He had to be sure if this was uncle Ben's stock.

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Tsunami

 

"Are you alright?"  Tsunami asked with a concerned tone as she knelt down by the young woman, giving her a visual examination to ensure that she had no injuries.  The young woman nodded, thanking the heroine before looking over toward Dust Devil and offering him thanks as well.  Tsunami put a reassuring hand on the young woman.  "Just relax, the police and medics should be here shortly.  Take deep breaths and try to get back to your feet when you are ready."

 

Dust Devil moved amongst the wreckage inside the store, some of it caused by him, but other parts caused by the robbers when they began their robbery.  The weapons used by the robbers were scattered about, dropped as the robbers had been blasted about by the various attacks.  Most of the weapons were normal firearms that could be obtained from any number of sources.  However, he came upon another weapon that was anything but normal, the one wielded by one of the robbers he had spotted outside of the store when he had first arrived and had blown into the store with the shockwave.  This weapon was clearly some sort of high-tech device, and looked very much like those contained in the crate Dust Devil had looked into when working for his uncle.

 

Tsunami moved up next to Dust Devil, moving rather quietly.  "She has not apparent physical injuries.  She's a bit shaken up to be sure, but does not appear to be in shock."  The Asian heroine looked down at the weapon at Dust Devil's feet.  "That looks far too advanced for simple jewelry store robbers."

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Cassidy honestly didn't know if he was happy or concerned about this. The last weapon, the only one that wasn't just a normal gun, was pretty clearly one of the weapons uncle Ben had been selling. The kind of tech that he had seen in the crate, the kind of tech that got him killed. The first real lead to uncle Ben. Should he touch it? He was made of sand, and the police would need fingerprints to get whoever was behind this. No, better to leave it alone now.

 

He didn't even notice Tsunami coming up before he heard her voice. "Huh?" Get a grip, Cassidy. Focus here. "That's good. Was no telling what they'd done before we got here." He looked around. Would be difficult to even tell what they did with the mess he had made, but honestly, keeping people safe were more important. Tsunami noticed the gun too, so at least he wasn't just seeing things, and imagining it being something it wasn't. "Yeah, it does. That thing's the reason that I'm here. Heard a rumor that weapons like that had popped up in San Diego. I'm looking for their seller." He looked over at the robbers on the floor around them. "You're a local, yeah? Any idea where they might have gotten this?" If not, then they could maybe wake up one of the robbers. He hadn't hit them that hard, had he?

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Tsunami

 

Tsunami shook her head slightly at Dust Devil’s last question.  "Yes, I am local, but I am afraid I do not know where they could have gotten ahold of such a weapon.  Superpowered criminals are somewhat rare here, and it is equally unusual for common criminals to get ahold of super-tech.  There are a few tech companies in the area that might be capable of producing such weapons, but I have not heard that any are actively pursuing such technology."

 

She looked back down at the weapon for a moment before adding, "they apparently only had the one super-tech weapon, which suggest they either happened upon the one in some manner, or that it was the only one they were provide the opportunity to obtain.  Though that could be because it was all that was offered to the, or it was all they could afford."

 

As Tsunami spoke with Dust Devil, she began to feel a sensation that she had felt a few time before, a slightly feeling of disorientation as the area around her began to blur.  "Get clear!"  She tried to shout to Dust Devil, pointing away from her, but it was already too late, as the store and everything around the pair began to warp and shift…

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Figures. It would have been too easy if Tsunami had just known where the seller might have been. Of course, he had seen the weapon before, even if it was just the one of them. Made sense that they would only get one. If uncle Ben was the seller, then the prices would probably be high. Of course, Tsunami might be right about it being a local, but he doubted it. This looked too much like the Terminus weapons that uncle Ben had been selling in the desert. He would probably never forget what they had looked like. Not with what had happened after.

 

"I don't think its local." He replied. "If I'm right, it's leftovers from the Terminus Invasion last year. My..." Should he say uncle? Nah, probably not the best thing, if he was hoping for Tsunami to help him. "The seller I'm after was selling tech like this last I saw him. Been trying to find him since then, so I could stop him."

 

So, that meant questioning the would be robbers, if he could wake one of them up. He turned, when Tsunami suddenly yelled for him to get clear. "Huh?" Cassidy could freely admit that he wasn't always the fastest draw, but right now, he was not ready at all. He felt himself being pulled, everything started warping and shifting, and all he could do was let out a loud curse, trapped in whatever was happening.

 

 

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GM

 

The warping of space around the pair of heroes lasted only a few moments, briefly disorienting the pair before that faded as well.  When their senses returned to normal it was immediately apparent they were no longer in the San Diego outdoor mall.  Instead of the damaged jewelry store, they were in a dark chamber with stone walls, floor and ceiling.  But the clearest sign that they were no longer in San Diego was the fact that it was sunlight shining in through the opening in one of the walls.

 

 One of the walls of the room had another opening, a doorway that lead into a hallway that was shrouded in darkness only a short distance in.  The light that shown in from the reveled some carvings on parts of the walls.  The air in the chamber was warm and muggy.

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Tsunami

 

Even as she felt the disorientation of reality warping around her, Tsunami had shifted into a defensive martial arts stance, summoning a thin sheet of water that flowed around her body as well.  Once her senses returned to normal and she was satisfied there were no immediate threats, the Asian young woman shifted out of her defensive stance, but still kept the watery forcefield around herself.

 

"Are you aright?"  She asked Dust Devil, scanning the room for any other clues about where they might be, and why.

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Everything warped around Cassidy and Tsunami. On pure instinct, he hardened the sand in his body. Everything was spinning, he felt like he was being thrown around, and then, sunlight shining through the opening in one of the stonewalls that surrounded them. The experience had knocked Cassidy off his feet, but it was more the disorientation than anything else.

 

"Yeah." He climbed to his feet, not bothering to dust himself off, but looking around. He noticed the water moving around Tsunami, but decided not to comment. Seemed like she had a lot of tricks up her sleeve. "Not my first time being thrown somewhere strange." The travel had been different from what he was used for from the Magic Mesa, but close enough. 

 

So, he looked around. Stone, sunlight. A single exit, unless they made something. Great. Whatever had brought them here, it was pretty clear where they wanted them to go. But wait... Tsunami had shouted a warning. "You warned me, just before it happened. You know anything about what's going on?"

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Tsunami

 

"I have experienced this form of transportation before, although the prior times were under very different circumstances."  Tsunami replied as she walked up toward one of the walls, studying the carvings on it a moment.  "These writings are Atlantean."  She stated, tracing her fingers over some of the carvings before looking back toward Dust Devil.

 

"I believe we have been transported to an alternate dimension generally known as the 'Lost World.'  My previous visits were made by traveling to specific locations in our world where the barriers between this world and ours are weak, allowing travel between the two.  This is the first time I have been pulled here like this."  She looked back around the empty room.  "If someone, or something, is behind this, I do not know why."

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"The Lost World." Didn't sound like a fun place to be. And there were probably no using the Magic Mesa to get out of there, not unless it had a counterpart somewhere, or decided to pull Cassidy out of this place on its own. Neither were likely. This was supposed to be simple. He should just have grabbed one of those robbers and gotten out of there immediately. But couldn't do that, could he? Still, it wasn't Tsunami's fault, and she seemed to know more about what was going on than he did. He had thrown to enough weird places by the Magic Mesa, being in some place called the Lost World shouldn't freak him out too much, should it? 

 

"Right. What's the deal with this place, then? You mentioned Atlanteans? They're the ones in charge here?" Two options, two paths out of here. And he knew nothing about this place. "And any clue how we get home?"

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Tsunami

 

"No, from what I have been told there are no living Atlanteans in the Lost World, only ancient ruins evidencing they once had a presence here."  Tsunami replied, moving away from the wall.  "The Lost World is something of an collection of anachronisms.  Dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals are plentiful and freely roam the wilderness.  There are a number of humans, from primitive tribesmen to a Roman city as well as an Incan city."   

 

"I have friends here that can help us return to our world.  The main challenge will be to find our way to them.  Depending on where we are, we could be a few days from where they might be, or only a few hours."

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