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Cyroa

Down the Rabbit Hole (IC)

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James stretched, cracking his neck before blinking out and reappearing back at school. He was tired. Not sleepy tired. More ‘been running around all over the place, dealing with magical and dimension problems for the last 6 hours’ kind of tired. He was pretty knowledgeable in the magic stuff, true. And while he could sense magic and dimensional traces, they were still often limited and indistinct, which basically meant a lot of running around for him while Phantom would have just known where to go with a thought. And so he was running around a lot trying to take up the slack. Who knew that actually caring about a job and following through could be this hard? He really needed to work on this magic stuff more.

He leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes, enjoying the quiet and stillness of the room for once. He needed a five minute break before heading out again. He had a lot to do. But not ten seconds of sitting down, there it was. That tingle on the edge of his awareness, telling him something was off on the dimensional borders.

“Gotta be kidding me,†he said wearily as he sat up with a groan.

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Erin walked into the common room just as James opened his eyes. She was looking far more alert than he was that night, and carrying a paperback novel she'd borrowed from Alex. "You look like you could use a nap," she commented with a smile. "All the new extracurricular stuff keeping you busy?" Although she wasn't exactly clear on what James was doing to help Phantom with the interdimensional bouncing business, she knew it was keeping him off campus a lot lately.

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James sighed. "Sounds good to me; though I'd be happy to just sit and zone out for a couple hours honestly. But not going to happen at the moment," he said as he stood up and stretched quickly. "Yeah, it's definitely been tiring. I'm not quite as good as she is, so I do a lot more running around. Like now. Just felt another ripple. Duty calls and all that," he said with a half-smile. He might complain about it at the moment because he was that tired, but having a real direction was actually something he enjoyed.

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"That sucks," Erin said, giving him a sympathetic look. "You need any help? I can't do any dimension hopping or anything like that, but if you're trying to pin someone down so you can send them back where they come from, I might be able to help out. Get done fast enough, you might even get that nap in before class," she suggested with a small smile. "Anyway it'd be a nice break from the videogames, right?"

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James nodded. "If you want to, sure. No idea what it could be though; I'm not that good at knowing that yet. Sometimes it's just sending something on its way. Sometimes it's a fight." He gave a wry chuckle. "Video games sounds like a nice break at the moment actually. Don't need to sleep though; I can do that in class," he said with a laugh. He reached out and lightly grasped her hand. "I could use the company. Here we go."

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They vanished from their usual lounging spot and reappeared in a large room filled with dressed mannequins and clothing wracks. The lights were mostly off, leaving the place dim and shadowed. But it wasn't hard to determine for the two teenagers that they were in a large clothes department store that was connected to the mall. After hours, it was all closed off and shut down. But something in here had tickled Hellion's dimensional senses...

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Erin went on alert the moment they arrived, scanning the dim store with eyes and ears. Everything seemed quiet and still, but... there! A rustle of clothes caught her attention, and from the corner of her eye she saw something small and white moving among the racks on the far side of the room. "There!" she snapped, not bothering to explain any further as she launched herself at the moving figure, leaping over racks and mannequins in a single, ceiling-brushing leap.

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Erin's fast movements left James in the dust so-to-speak. Even as he was teleporting over, Erin had reached out and snatched up the darting figure before it could more more than a foot.

"Unhand me," the high pitched voice squealed. Looking at the squirming figure in her grasp, she was perhaps surprised to see what really looked like the Michelin Man...in a rather fetching petticoat. In one hand he held a little golden scepter, the other held something that looked like a grenade mated to an alarm clock. Neither hero was a technology expert, but that thing practically screamed 'bomb'. "I say again, unhand me you pink skinned cretin!"

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James blinked at the sight and tried not to chuckle. "Ok...this is a new one for me. I think we can safely say we've found the disturbance." Indeed, his senses told him as much. Not to mention that the little golden scepter was quite magical as well.

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"Yeah, but what is it?" Erin blinked at the oddity of the thing she'd caught, but didn't loosen her grip as the dimensional intruder squirmed uselessly. "It looks like some kind of Stay-Puft marshmallow terrorist. In a dress." She hefted the creature a bit, turning so James could examine the cartoonish bomb. "You might want to take this and move it somewhere where it won't blow a hole in the mall while we're standing here." Giving the creature a little shake, she demanded, "And you can start talking. What are you doing in this universe?"

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The little figure raised its puff chin and said in an imperious (if somewhat comical from their point of view), "I'll have you know that I am the great Lufibiotagius! Master of my doman! Purveyor of lost relics and antiquities! Explorer of the strange and unknown!" He seemed to take a deep breath then sort of 'oozed' out of Erin's hands with a 'schloping' sound to land with a plop on the floor. "Now I must be off to deliver my finds! Today is the day you will remember throughout your pathetic lives! Today is the day you met Lufibiotagius!" With a twirl of the little scepter, he vanished, Hellion's dimensional senses registring the movement.

Of course, right about then, Erin noticed two things. One, her teleport beacon to the YF base was missing. And out of the corner of her eye she noticed a pair of well worn but empty shoes laying in the aisle next to a broken flashlight. Both were very similar to what a security guard would have...

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Erin said a nasty word as the creature slid through her grasp, and then another one as she realized that her pocket was lighter than it had been a moment ago. "Alex is going to kill me," she muttered, then dismissed that problem when she saw the shoes and flashlight. "Look at that," she told James. "It might have attacked a security guard. Can you feel anything?" Hopping nimbly onto the nearest clothes rack, she scanned the store, listening intently for any noise, even breathing.

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James half-frowned and half-smiled. The little guy was kind of funny but he was also rather slippery. "He's...gone. He slid between dimensions." He noted where Erin was pointed and swore as well. "The little guy said something about delivering his 'finds'. I...I think we can follow him, but I'll have no idea where we're going. Jumping in blind as it were. But if he took something from you, not to mention that guard maybe, we don't exactly have a lot of choices." He half closed his eyes, doing what he could to study the signature left behind.

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"I'm pretty sure I can get another beacon," Erin said, still perched like an odd bird on the clothing rack. "But if you think he might have made off with a person, we can't go without checking it out, at least. I don't see or hear him anywhere in here, anyway. But why would someone steal some random civilian? What's the point in that?"

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James looked around, not seeing any trace of the guard either. He shrugged his shoulders but grinned. "You're asking me what a 4' tall marshmellowy-looking guy dressed in odd clothes from another dimension who popped into a lady's clothing store to steal something thinks? Seriously?" he said amused. "I've got nothing. I haven't been at this that long...not that I think an expert would have a clue either honestly." He sobered up a little. "But yeah, I don't think we can just assume the guard is somewhere else and safe." He wasn't really the traditional hero like Mark, Mike or Alex. But that didn't mean he was going to let this go.

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"Can we follow him?" Erin asked. "I don't see or hear anything here, and I'm not sure we have time to search the whole store." She climbed down from the clothing rack and went to investigate the shoes and flashlight to see if they held any clues to the owner's identity. "There doesn't seem to be any blood, at least. We can hope that whatever it wanted him for, it wanted him alive. I'm not sure how he would've lost his shoes, but it probably doesn't matter right now."

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Besides a rather strong and extremely unpleasant foot odor coming from the shoes, there is nothing to tell who the guard was, what had happened or how he'd lost his shoes for that matter. The broken flashlight looked more burned out/drained than truly broken, but even that was not much of a clue.

James nodded. "Like I said, I think I can follow his trail to wherever he went. Just no idea of what or where we'll be going." He rubbed his face briefly. "Well, no sense in putting this off. I'm gonna try going after him. You don't have to come if you don't want to. Travelling to other worlds and dimensions...wasn't exactly what you volunteered for." He shrugged. It probably wasn't her favorite topic but at least they weren't going to a dead world; he hoped. "Or I can 'port you back home if you'd like," he said with shrug.

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Erin hesitated a bare moment. "I'll come with you," she told him, as though it was never in doubt. "Just make sure not to forget me in some universe of melting marshmallow people, or I'll be pissed. Will it mess up the track if we pop back long enough for me to get my bat? I don't really need it," she was pretty sure, after all her practice in self control, "but it would be nice to have, if we might get into a fight."

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James chuckled. "Well, we wouldn't want that now would we?" The chances that'd he ever abandon Erin anywhere...it had to be a joke. "Shouldn't be a problem." He reached out to take her hand and in a blink they where standing outside her dorm room. "We should be back in less than a minute. Grab whatever you want and we'll get going." He didn't need to get anything himself. He needed little and had gotten used to carrying various knickknacks that might be useful in the pockets of his coat.

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Erin nodded, darting into her room. She took a few precious seconds to scramble into her costume, just so she wouldn't chance ruining any of her precious clothes, then grabbed her bat, made sure Oliver had food and water for the evening, and was out without Alex ever waking up. "All right," she told James, clipping the bat to her belt and securing the cloth band that kept her hair out of her face when she fought. "Let's go find the marshmallow guy." Taking a deep breath, she took his hand and prepared for the transit.

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James chuckled and transported them back to the scene. "Bet you don't get to say that one too often," he said before turning to focus on the dimensional boundary. He could travel between the boundaries of dimensions easily. He'd done it plenty of times since realizing he could. This was the first time he was trying to track someone else's signature though. Ah well, first time for everything. He built up the energy, carefully, and liked the power to the target's location. "Here we go," he said. Holding onto Erin, they stepped forward and vanished from Prime.

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Hellion and Wander's trip between dimensions lasted only a tiny moment. They stepped out and onto a rocky outcropping. Beneath them stretched miles and miles of purple grass. Behind them, a cave opened up into a cliff. And high, very high above them atop the cliff, the two heroes could make out the spires of a castle of some sort. Besides a rather strange and mildly unpleasant odor, things seemed perfectly normal and the world just like home (except for the purple grass of course).

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Erin opened out her bat and sniffed the air, looking around for trouble. "Weird," she said, looking towards the castle in the distance. "Guess Freedom City doesn't carry over very well on every world. I wonder what that thing is over there." She bent down and began studying the ground, looking for any tracks of the odd creature's passage, or any sign that he'd been dragging something large, like a body.

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James nodded. "Definitely not." He frowned, looking around. He wasn't the tracker Erin was but he had a few tricks. He let his magical senses extend hoping to pick something up and he sniffed a few times as well, hoping to get a scent of...something helpful. "So...we want to try the tunnel or just 'port right up to the castle?"

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Hellion's magical and dimensional senses were of little use here. There was simply too much magic to be of use and it felt very weird/different; enough that he could get nothing useful out of it. His nose however was of more use. Besides a prolific 'sugary and cheesy' smell, it definitely picked up the smell of their quary as well as multiple other scents he couldn't identify.

Erin's skills were more solid in nature. Her trained and practice eye noted the tiny little tracks through the purple grass heading for the gave. There were were some other tracks as well. 4 set of size...40's? It was hard to tell since the grass didn't compress much, but there were definitely some faint impressions there. It was also odd to note that they all moved very tightly together in grass, along a single 'narrow' (being a relative term given the size of the prints) path.

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