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Z-Space

The AnneX

August 20th 2019, 5 PM, Earth Prime Pacific Time Zone

 

Z-Space was quiet, as it usually was. The sky and almost everything that could be seen were swirling patterns of randomly intermixing colors, each heralding its own universe or dimensions. Stray bits and pieces of known and unknown universes, giant rocks with strange architecture floating through the sea of color, everything appearing close enough to touch, no matter where you stood. Everything that had fallen between the cracks of its own reality or out of its own broken reality were here. High above, but still seeming so close, a giant derelict vessel drifted by, pushing by multiversal waves, buffetted between the emissions of energy released by cosmic destroyers and defenders of each individual universe.

 

This was Z-Space. Chaos and peace at once. A window in to all the universes that were, could be and might be. And on a particularly large piece of rock, perhaps one quarter the size of Manhattan, in a structure that had been dubbed the AnneX by its occupant, a purple portal appeared to lead Justice and the Meta-Naut into Z-Space.

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Justice

 

Not that they could really see much of that, when the people-sized purple portal opened up inside the AnneX, which didn't really have any windows. Not that Robin hadn't though about getting some windows set up, but the entire structure had king of been there already, and she'd just gotten to work actually putting things inside it. 

 

"Ta-daa! Welcome to the AnneX!"

 

The portal opened up into an armory, where the Meta-naut would be able to recognize the hammer and blaster that Justice had used before, along with a sword with a black hilt and no guard. All three weapons were carefully placed on a weapon rack, with some different pieces of armor and equipment, including not just the armor that she had worn, but several other pieces of armor that seemed compatible with it. Her motorcycle was parked in the same room, with a pulled down gate on one end of the room, and a door leading further into the building on the other.

 

"So, what do you think?" Truth to be told, she was a bit nervous. The only other person that'd ever been here was Shrike, and that had been a whole other weird thing, so she hadn't really had time to show off her place. "I've got beds and a kitchen, a library, my workshop and laboratory, and a bunch of other neat things."

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The Meta-Naut

 

The Meta-Naut looked around curiously. Initially, she had expected things to be... stranger. Right now, it looked like the interior of a conventional, albeit impressive, building. She had expected levitation and counter-intuitive physics, maybe some weird architecture. But, she was impressed all the same. And besides, it wasn't like she was going to badmouth someone's place when she was their guest. 

 

She smiled over at Justice. "Well, when we work together in the future, it'll be cool to know there's a place we can go afterwards," she said. "Must be weird to sleep between realities. Still, this is really cool."

 

She looked over at Justice. "So. I want to see your lab first, then your workshop, then your kitchen, okay? Unless it's off-limits, which, you know, I get. But I'd really appreciate it."

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Justice

 

When we work together in the future, she said! Awesome! Yes, working together with another hero, just like that! So awesome! Robin was one huge grin, standing with her hands on her sides, just looking at the Meta-Naut taking everything in. This was so cool! 

 

"Well, I haven't really slept here all that much..." She trailed off for a moment, before continuing. "Well, except when I worked on something and sorta forgot the time and... never really made it to the bed... but ANYWAY! Yes, really cool! And yes, you can see it all, not like you're gonna try to steal my tech to turn it into some kind of doomsday device or anything like that after all, right?" She paused again. "Not that it could become a doomsday device, no. Of course not." 

 

So, right. Lead the way. Show off! Continuing in through the kitchen, which was a table, a stove and oven, a microwave, a fridge and some chairs, she turned sharp to the right to lead into the workshop, which was honestly, kind of a mess. A rectangular room with tables, equipment and tools everywhere, most of the tables absolutely filled with devices and gadgets in various stages of completion. Robin blinked a bit at the mess. She should probably have cleaned this place up, but... eh. Too late for that.

 

"Soo, I kind of, uh, used to borrow the 3D printer and discarded stuff from the university to make my stuff, before I found my way here. Now I mostly use stuff I found out there." She motioned back to the garage-slash-armory they had left with her head. "Things tend to get kinda screwy out there, all kinds of random stuff falling out of the sky, weird materials to mine and such."

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The Meta-Naut

 

The Meta-Naut could not help herself. She only barely managed to suppress a squeal when she saw the workshop, and started moving around, looking through all the various half-finished gadgets. She could appreciate more fully now that she was in the presence of a true intellect. Not that she couldn’t before, but all of this really hammered home just how brilliant Justice really was. When she mentioned having to borrow a 3D Printer, it just came spilling out.

 

“I can get you funding to build whatever you like,” she said. Then, she paused. “I know this lady, Raya Wells. Runs Compass Rose International, and she funds my stuff. I know for a fact that she would be super jazzed about investing in anything you have going. No return expected or anything. She’s cool like that.”

 

She looked over at Justice expectantly. “I mean… If you still… If you would want that. It sounds like this dimension provides a lot but you know. Could be cool to have a more steady supply of stuff,” she said, shrugging and trying to look nonchalant.

 

“You’re pretty clearly some kind of super-genius.”

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Justice

 

Robin paused as the Meta-Naut blurted out that she could get Robin actual funding. Not so much because of the offer of funding, but because of where that funding would come from.

 

"You know Raya Wells?" 

 

Now it was Robin's turn to squeal, and she honestly didn't even think about suppressing it, instead doing a small jump with her hands clasped in front of her chest. 

 

"She's so awesome! All the stuff Compass Rose is doing, spaceships, going into space, that's just, so, so... so awesome!" She was just a bundle of joy now, and honestly, she didn't really mind. She was practically bouncing into the room, before stopping and pausing, quickly shaking her head to try and get some sense back. "Err, I'll have to think about it, obviously, but I wouldn't really object to some kinda funding. I got the ideas and everything, but, y'know, sad thing is that science doesn't happen from nothing, right? I mean, I've made do pretty well so far, even if my first suit was just a collapsible costume in a belt, but, maybe? I hope that's alright?" 

 

She froze as she realized the implications of the last sentence. "I don't know if I'd go as far as to call me a super-genius or anything like that. I just got a lot of good ideas?" She felt kinda uncomfortable at the idea, really. Sure, she was smart, she knew that, but she didn't like to be put on a pedestal like that.

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The Meta-Naut

 

The Meta-Naut realized she had made things awkward, which was no good at all. She wandered over and patted Justice on the shoulder. "Look, I just meant... Genius isn't just smarts, you know? It's creativity and the ability to go through with those ideas you have. Not everyone could do what you did. I certainly couldn't. You should be proud of what you achieved. Maybe virtuoso is a better term, or something?"

 

She shrugged and backed off. "Anyway, yeah, I know her. Keep it to yourself, though, I'm only telling you because I feel like you're the sort of person you can trust with that information. She's a pretty private lady."

 

She wandered away, heading back over to one of the tables and looking over the assembled objects, and then over at Justice. "Anything in particular you're working on at the moment? Maybe got some new tricks for the bad guys?"

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Justice

 

"Yeah, don't worry about it. Can't have people knowing that Raya Wells got super hero connections, would just get more paparazi her way, right?" She smiled, despite the moment of awkwardness that she had created. She'd gotten praise much of her life, but it felt weird to have a hero like the Meta-Naut praising her. She was used to people praising the work she'd do in class or at the university, not her actual work, like this.

 

So. Moving on. Push the weird feeling away for now, and over to the tools. She moved over and reached for some small blue pellets she had stashed in a small box on a table, next to a copy of the gun she had used earlier. "Well, I'm always working on new stuff, of course!" She was all smiles again, the awkward moment from before quickly forgotten. "That whole armor and weapons you saw before were pretty new, actually. I used to switch out whole armors for a bit, before figuring out I could make them modular, so I've been working on getting my entire armory up to speed! Like these!" She took out one of the blue pellets and held it up. "Saw the Shock Blasts I fired earlier? I'm working on some other kinds of ammo, something that can hopefully just stop people instead of hurting them." She looked a bit sheepish as she loaded the pellet into the gun, then took aim at a nearby mannequin. "I kinda forgot something like that in the excitement when I made the new armor." Pulling the trigger, she fired the pellet. The moment it hit the mannequin, it exploded, creating a thick layer of light blue foam that quickly hardened around it. "Got a few other ideas like that rattling around, but I'll figure it out!"

 

She paused a bit, there was something else she could show the Meta-Naut. "So, how would you feel about going out into Z-Space?"

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The Meta-Naut

 

The Meta-Naut’s eyes widened imperceptibly beneath her visor as they went over the little developments they made, and she audibly squealed with delight at the blue foam. That was amazing! She wondered at some of the other applications of such a quick expanding foam. Of course, it probably dissolved quite quickly, but to expand from such a small pellet into something so big, and to have the strength to hold a person… a bit of tinkering with the formula and you had an excellent ad-hoc construction material.

 

Then, the offer of going up and out into Z-Space came up. She had to stop herself from doing a little dance, and managed to divert her energy into simply nodding vigorously. “If it is half as cool as what you’ve shown me here? Then hell yeah,” she said enthusiastically.

 

“No need for suits or anything for me, either, if that’s necessary. My badge provides life support systems so I will be fine,” she said.

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Justice

 

"It's way cool." Robin couldn't help herself. The grin was spreading from ear to ear again as she looked at the Meta-Naut, then gestured for her to follow by waving over her shoulder and moving back into the garage that they had first entered through. "From what I've seen so far, you can breathe just fine out there, no instant decompression or anything. But still..." She reached down and flicked her amulet into her belt. It started glowing, she pressed the activation button, and bits and pieces of her armor flew to her from the stands around her, until she was fully covered. "Better safe than sorry. It's weird out there." She stradled her bike and looked over at the Meta-Naut, her wide grin hidden behind her helmet. "You want a ride, or are you good with flying?"

 

After the Meta-Naut had replied, she flicked a switch on a remote built into her armor and the gate started rolling up, revealing a strange sight to the Meta-Naut.

 

Once they were outside, the Meta-Naut and Justice would find themselves on what appeared to be a giant floating rock, with a metallic structure behind them, a sort of watchtower placed firmly in the middle of the space that surrounded them. A swirling pattern of colors filled the around them, debris of various kinds floating all around the space that surrounded. Rocks like the one that they were currently on, metallic structures, other dimensional vessels. They were few and far between, but there were certainly things out there in Z-Space. In their immediate surroundings, they could see a rocky plain that stretched out into the horizon. To the right, a large rock, the size of a mountain.

 

"It's not really rock," Justice mentioned, gesturing to the things below them. "Some kinda metal, actually. I mined some to use for my sword and parts of my armor. It's kinda weird."

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The Meta-Naut

 

“Eh, I’ll fly,” replied the Meta-Naut.

 

Flying out after Justice, she could not help but marvel at the strangeness of her surroundings. She had been to many weird dimensions, some of which that didn’t obey her own native homeworld’s laws of physics, but few were as alien as the world around her. Watching the colours, she couldn’t help but note that it was very pretty, too.

 

“Huh,” the Meta-Naut said, popping her cheek. “…This is… Huh. I don’t really even have words for it.”

 

Putting her hands on her hips, she looked out into the distance, observing the floating rock. All sorts of questions came to mind about this place, and the adventurer in her wanted to race off and explore. However, that would be quite rude to her host, so she held herself back. What she didn’t hold back on was the questions.

 

“So, do you know if this place has any native life-forms? Have you gone far out from here, tried to find any potential civilizations? Any other strange materials besides the metal? Like a room temperature superconductor? Been looking for one of those. I found one in another dimension, but it dissolved on contact with our own dimension’s laws of physics. It was very disappointing.”

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Justice

 

"Its quite something, yeah." Justice mused, as much to the Meta-Naut as to herself. She had stopped her bike, leaning over it and looking up at the Meta-Naut as she took it all in. 

 

Then, the questions. Of course she had questions. It would be weird if she didn't have questions! After all, this wasn't just some other city or something, or, if Meta-Naut could travel between worlds, it wasn't even just another world. This was the world between worlds! As far as she knew, there was nothing else like this anywhere!

 

She shook her head, making sure to overdo it just a bit, so that the movement would be visible despite her armor. "We're not the only ones here, seen some ships flying above, and I've met this guy that calls himself a Professor that helped me find the AnneX," she pointed over her shoulder at the building they had just left, "but I doubt any of that's native here. In fact, the Professor said he was from Emerald, but he said all kinds of stuff from the multiverse ends up here. Helpful guy, gave me some good ideas." She pointed up ahead, a metallic mountain stretching up. Saying it stretched into the sky would be weird, so up was probably better, right? "Haven't really seen anything like that here, but wouldn't surprise me. I've only been around this one rock, but c'mon, let's go up that mountain there. There's some old ruins up there that might have something." Revving her bike, she moved towards the mountain, engaging the stabilizers to allow her to drive straight up it.

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The Meta-Naut

 

Old ruins? That sounded fascinating. She nodded eagerly, and flew off after Justice. As she did, she considered the possibilities. If time was a factor, here, maybe she could make an attempt at travelling backwards in time to see it in its height. Of course, attempting that could be a foolhardy proposition. If time didn't work normally, she could end up with bits of her strewn across the multiverse, a very lethal scenario indeed.

 

As they ascended the mountain, she attempted to match Justice's speed so they could talk. After all, there was much to talk about with someone as fascinating as Justice. It wasn't often you got to meet someone who designed their own armour and decided to become a superhero.

 

"So, how did you get started with all of this?"

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Justice

 

"You mean the super hero stuff? Or this whole Z-Space thing?" she asked, before driving over the top of the mountain, the front wheel raising up before falling down heavily on the ground. Robin let out a short "Whoo" before continuing, while she leaned over the front of her bike. She wasn't really sure how Meta-Naut would react, thinking back it was all honestly a little bit silly, but, on the other hand, what harm could it do? Well, could make another hero think she was silly, of course. Could lose that connection to Raya Wells. So, yaeh, could do some harm.

 

Still...

 

"Ah, it's gonna sound silly, but honestly, I've kinda wanted to be a super hero since I was a kid." She stretched her arms over her head and looked up at the flying Meta-Naut. "Saw all the heroes on TV, and it was just so awesome, and Emerald didn't really have any heroes, so I figured I'd try and step up. Gymnatics, shooting range, studying, whatever could help me. Whole armor and everything was inspired by a Japanese TV show, used stuff from the university, and then I just kinda jumped into it last Halloween." Lots had happened since then, sure, but still, sounded kinda silly to say it all. "What about you? I figure it gotta be something a bit less, well, mundane than me?"

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The Meta-Naut

 

"Ah... Well, you could say that," the Meta-Naut said sheepishly as she considered whether this was the sort of story she wanted to be sharing. Given Justice had been forward with her, she gave it a shot. "I accidentally sent myself to a dimension where the dinosaurs never went extinct and made a civilization of their own. I was made a slave to a professor, turns out he was a cool guy, gave me this badge, and then I made my way back here after about... 12 years. Decided to adventure not long after that since my life here was kind of... weird now. And that's sort of it. I mostly do adventuring more than superhero stuff, I'm not really a heroic person like you are."

 

She shrugged her shoulders. "I do stuff for the government sometimes, but that's mostly because if time nazis take over America, then I'm out of a place to live and... well, you know. Time nazis. Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing this ruin. Will be interesting to poke around a bit."

 

She smiled. 

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Justice

 

"Huh." Alright, Robin was really not sure what she had been expecting, especially given the whole multiverse thing that Meta-Naut had been talking about, but the whole dinosaurs not going extinct and time nazis? Yeah, huh was a good reaction.

 

"Sorry about that," she finally answered, feeling a bit sheepish. "Didn't mean to compare or anything like that, honest. Dinosaur civilization sounds kinda out there, but well, there's the whole theory of something being true somewhere, right?" Her tone was slowly growing more confident again, before she pointed towards the ruins. 

 

"Let's go, then! I've only been looking around a bit, so might be something cool I've missed."

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GM

 

Not that they got much of a chance. Once the duo approached the ruins, an arrow was fired from somewhere in the ruins, flying directly towards the Meta-Naut, luckily bouncing harmlessly off her force field and falling to the ground. It wasn't just a wooden arrow or anything like that. It appeared to be made of some unknown alloy, the arrowhead integrated directly into the shaft. It seemed to have 3 round buttons on the side. While Justice and the Meta-Naut either looked at it or reacted to the attack, the arrow slowly faded away, before disappearing.

 

There were movement in the ruins up ahead. Whatever had attacked, they clearly weren't about to just be sitting ducks for any retaliation.

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The Meta-Naut

 

"Woah!" cried the Meta-Naut as the arrow came whizzing out at her, her life flashing before her eyes. Then, it hit her force field with a sizzle and a hiss and hit the ground. The Meta-Naut could hear her heart pumping in her ears, and she looked around frantically for whoever could have shot at her.

 

"What the hell?" she asked, before flying higher up into the air to see if she could catch her assailant with a bird's eye view, in addition to hopefully moving out of range of the enemy's attack. As she looked down, she realized she could see nothing. She frowned deeply. This wasn't good.

 

"I can't see who did that, can you?" she called down to Justice, her blaster now manifesting over her hand in attempt to give herself some measure of security.

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Justice

 

"What?" It happened fast, way too fast. An arrow hit the Meta-Naut's force field, hit the ground, then just sort of faded away. Magic or some kinda tech? Didn't matter, someone was attack, and they were far away. Reaching a hand down to her belt, Robin made some quick adjustments, causing portals to manifest all around her, quickly bulking up her armor. They were sitting ducks out here, no reason to not armor up.

 

"I'm not seeing anything. Nothing's supposed to be out here like this, anyway!" Only place to hide here were the ruins, so she revved up her bike and started drawing. "Gotta come from the ruins! C'mon!"

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GM

 

It didn't exactly take long before the attacker started again, this one targeting the approaching Justice. Another wooden arrow came flying out from the ruins, this time harmlessly hitting Justice's armored form, fading away much quicker this time, having disappeared before it even touched the ground.

 

There were more movement ahead in the ruins. In fact, as the heroes approached, they could see multiple shadows moving around the ruins. It seemed their attacker was not alone.

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The Meta-Naut

 

The Meta-Naut groaned at the second arrow coming out of nowhere. That wasn't good. She looked around frantically, trying to find the source of the attack. Their defences were holding up, sure, but her force field wasn't that reliable and she really didn't like being attacked from somewhere she couldn't see. But as she flew around over the mountain, towards the ruins, she couldn't find anything. 

 

"Aaaaaahhhh," she groaned, frowning as her eyes darted about. 

 

She didn't want to freak out. Justice had just started to like her and she knew if she lost her cool, that would stop. The Meta-Naut was an adventurer, not a superhero. She had said that. But still. No one wanted to be around a coward. And she was a coward, wasn't she? Always running from things. Freaking out when things didn't go right. No, get it under control.

 

"Where ARE these guys?"

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Justice

 

"There!" Finally! These guys were quick, they were small, they were running all around those ruins, and they just kept attacking, but finally, Robin spotted one of them!

 

She pointed ahead to the ruins, where one of the guys attacking them moved around. And then another, and another... and a fourth one. Alright, these guys had them outnumbered. They shouldn't even be here, but they had them outnumbered. Great.

 

Screeching to a halt in front of the ruins, she quickly got off the bike. "Hey guys, better come out, 'cause its time for justice!"

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GM

 

As Justice called them out, the first of the four creatures made a shrill shriek, quickly clambering around the buildings. They were small, maybe 3 to 4 feet tall, their skin a dull grey that seemed to fall in rather well with the ruins. They had relatively long arms for their stature, with only 2 fingers and a thumb on each hand. Their long faces that had moustache-like feelers. Their eyes were a dull yellow, and they were all bald with no visible ears or noses. They were clearly humanoid, even if they were clearly not human. They seemed to be dressed in armored shorts, with metallic bows that seemed to have strings made of energy. As one of the creatures pulled the string of its bow, an arrow like the ones that had hit the heroes appeared on it.

 

They screamed, quickly letting loose a flurry of arrows that pinged off Justice's armor and Meta-Naut's force field.

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The Meta-Naut

 

The Meta-Naut's eyes lit up when the creatures were revealed. Suddenly, all the panic she had been feeling just a moment ago was gone. The unknown element removed, she could go ahead and begin an assault with confidence. She took only a second to chastise herself for almost losing her cool. That couldn't happen again. 

 

Eyes focusing on the one who shot at her, a malicious grin crossed her face as she hatched a plan. The translucent image of the blaster around her hand reshaped slightly into its tractor beam form, and she aimed it at her attacker. Her plan was simple: She was going to use him as a bludgeon to beat the other assailants with, taking out multiple opponents at once!

 

"Take this!" she said, the beam firing down toward the strange looking being.

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Justice

 

The attackers were weird looking, sure, and they looked mean, but also kind of adorable? Little bows and arrows, armored shorts, it seemed pretty obvious they weren't from back home, at least. And they were attacking, so she really didn't have to feel bad about attacking back, but on the other hand... they were kind of adorable.

 

"Hey, let me show you something!" Robin shouted, as much to the bad guys as to Meta-Naut. A few button presses on the belt, some of the outer armoring disappeared into portals, shedding enough wait that she could use her rocket boosters. With a quick burst, she jumped up, landing in front of the nearest of the attackers. Mid-jump, she reached into a portal and pulled out her Rocket Hammer, quickly slamming it into the floor where the attacker had been standing just the moment before. Of course it had to move. "Dammit." She'd get him yet. Speedy little guy.

Edited by RocketLord

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