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Stopwatch 2: Prototype (IC)

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3rd June 2013


Telegrams were somewhat antiquated mean of communication in the world of satellites and the instant gratification of the internet. 


But, being antiquated, they had the charm of antiquity. 


And they could catch Megan Howell's eye because of that antiquity. And charm. 






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Megan Howell was still feeling the emotional high that had accompanied her graduation from Yale University (with distinction) two weeks ago.  The young woman's internship with Summit Transnational had ended just before the finish of her last term at Yale, and now she had her days wide open, which had led to a bit of an increase in activity around Freedom City as Velocity.


Today, Megan had spent most of the morning at a spa.  In a week, she and her two best friends from high school, Lisa and Janet, were planning a trip to Spain and the south of France to celebrate their graduating college. 


The blonde young woman had been a little surprised when the doorman for her apartment building the Wading Way had a telegram for her.


I did not even know people still used telegrams.  Megan thought as she looked at the sealed message with curiosity as she rode the elevator up to her thirty seventh floor apartment.


Once inside, Megan made her way into the spacious living room that had widows looking out at the Wading Way skyline as she tore open the telegram.  The young woman was able to quickly scan the message, but what she read caused her to stop suddenly in her tracks, a cold feeling gripping her as she quickly reread the message to be sure she had not misread.


Another Stopwatch?  She thought as she reread the sent line.  In a blur of movement, she was over at the small "office" area set up at one end of the living room, flipping open her laptop.  A quick search found out a good bit of information about Heather Steed, none of which made her feel any better about how this woman knew she was Velocity.


But right now, that mattered little to the young woman.  If there was another Stopwatch out there, she could not ignore that, given the problems the last one had caused, and the danger it posed. 


In another blur of speed, the young blonde was gone from the room, reappearing a split second later in her Velocity costume.  She sent a quick message to Daedalus to let him know where she was off to and then, checking the location of Gran Canaria, she was gone from the apartment.


Moments later she was clearing the Centary Narrows and leaving Freedom City behind as she accelerated to hypersonic speeds.  At top speed, she estimate she would be able to cross the Atlantic to Gran Canaria in only a couple of minutes.

Edited by Thevshi
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The ocean's parted for Velocities speed, a ripple threading back several miles as she ploughed the waves between continents. 


Hotel Castrello was in a nice location, a few hundred yards from a stony beach, with a good view in a quaint but well maintained part of the region. It wasn't a tourist trap, but catered for tourists. Tapas bars and restaurants spotted the streets, and there was a square where the locals - and some visitors drank wine, coffee, and the sites. 


The Hotel itself was fairly modern, a couple of stories high, and - Megan noted - four stars. Good, but not top quality. Fitted with what Megan had found out about Steed. She had plenty of money but preferred a bit of grit. A party girl. 


With her Helmet's magnification, she could see the detail inside, a slightly bored receptionist, a man of middle age with a salt and pepper hair and trimmed beard, playing card solitaire on the computer whilst keeping half an eye out for guests or his boss...


There was no sign of Steed, but the top floor did have a room with its blinds pulled down..

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As Velocity spent a bit of time studying the area around the Hotel Castrello, she had to give credit to Steed, or whomever had actually arranged all this, for picking a rather nice location.  The hotel was not quite up to the standards of what she usually went for herself, but to each their own.  The speedster was certainly one to do her fair share of partying as Megan Howell, though she tended to be more circumspect about it than Steed did.  And of course, she had been known from time to time to been seen as at some party or nightclub as Velocity, probably the most recent example of which was her twenty-four hour, around the world New Year’s celebration.


Not seeing anything that particularly screamed out "TRAP," though if any time agents were involved, it could be much more difficult to tell, the speedster decided the direct approach was probably called for.


A split second later she has "appeared" in front of the receptionist.  "Hi there, I'm Velocity.  I'm looking for a Heather Steed."

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The Receptionist bolted upright, a sweat breaking out and pupils dilating in fear. His eyebrows raised almost clean off his face in surprise. 


"la velocidad! la velocidad!" he proclaimed excitedly. 


"A superhero! here!" he asked in just slightly shaky English. "I...I...how can I help! Do you wish to stay? we can offer the finest rooms, a very professional staff...." he explained as a reflex. 


His eyes caught the beeping game of minesweeper on his computer. He quickly scuffled his mouse around the computer to try and get rid of it. 


"And yes yes. We have a Ms. Heather Steed here. Room 44, top floor. Aha....is she is expecting you? shall I call her?"

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Velocity gave the man a small smile, purposely not looking over at the game on his computer screen, though she could actually see it perfectly well thanks to the technology in her goggles.  "No, I do not think I need a room right now, likely will not be staying terribly long."  The speedster replied to his initial question.


"And yes, Ms. Steed is expecting me.  No need to ring her, I don't want to keep her waiting unnecessarily."  She then added.  "Thank you for your assistance."


Then, she was gone in a blur of yellow, making her way up to Room 44.

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"Come in!" came the voice, in reply to Velocities rap on the door. 


"Do take off those glasses!"


Heather Steed was wrapped in a dressing gown, sitting on a plush chair enjoying the sea view. She had some colorful looking cocktail in her hand. She wasn't exactly drunk, but she wasn't exactly sober either. 


She was a tallish woman, blessed with great looks and a great figure. And a confidence that utilised both. She was sexy, and - more impressively - it wasn't spoiled by the fact she knew it. Her hair was long, blonde, and clearly died, tied back in a style that blended carefree and stylish. Her skin and features indicated that she took more from her Spanish heritage than her English one. 


She waved her hand at the Helmet on Velocities head. 


"No need for that here. There aren't any camera's or bugs here. Feel free to look, I'm sure it will only take you a second..." she explained as she sipped her pink liquor. 


"And thanks for coming so quickly. I had no doubt you would. I hope you don't mind the telegram. A bit old fashioned, I know, but it has its charm. And, when people try to snoop around they check the phone calls and the e mails, they don't stop to think of commissioned telegrams..."

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Velocity made her way into the room at the sound of the voice from inside, closing the door behind her.  The speedster regarded Heather Steed a moment (a considerable amount of time for her), noting the taller woman's looks, but not being particularly impressed.  After all, the young heroine was very attractive herself.


"You'll understand if I decline."  Velocity replied coldly as the other woman indicated she should take off her goggles and that she had no reason to be concerned about her identity.


"Well, it certainly got me attention."  She added, as Steed brought up the telegram.  "So…what is it you know about the Stopwatch?  And how do you know about me?"

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Heather kept her eyes on the shining sea. Perhaps out of dismissal, perhaps because Velocity was too fast to look at. 


"Suit yourself, you are safe here" she said, sipping her drink again. 


"I know surprisingly little, you see. I have a secret too. A unique talent. Its how I have amassed some considerable fortune on my own, hunting treasures. I can see into the past. Handy for archeology, of course. And every now again, for other things. Such as taking a holiday Skiing it switzerland and hearing a particular rumour of unusual activity. And renting a particular room. And seeing something very unusual had happened there"


"That kicked it off. Very interesting. It didn't take me long to put two and two together. I recognised Robert Harrow straight away. Nice boy, met him a few times socially. You, well, it was only a deduction, but a pretty safe one given the way you spoke to each other..."


"Now don't worry, your secret is safe with me. Hardly in my interest to unveil a superhero, is it? you guys save the world and so on. I'm quite attached to the world, you see. So you have my thanks for that!" she smiled. 


"Now, that stopwatch that Harrow was slobbering over. Damned if I know where that went. Even going out to the slopes. Teleportation makes it a painstaking task at best. Over ocean, its damn near impossible. I guess you have it secreted in some vault somewhere. But that's not why I am here..."


She tossed a slightly glowing shard of crystal onto her bed. 


"That is. I found it in Egypt, a few months ago. And yes, I used my particular abilities on it. It seemed to drop out of the air a couple of thousand years ago, was briefly worshipped by a cult, then the usual bloodshed and vengeance, and then buried deep underground in fear..."


"And take a look at it. It's about a third of what looks to be the shape of your beloved stopwatch..."

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Velocity listened as Steed explained herself and how she knew about the Stopwatch and the speedster.  When Steed explained her ability and how she had used it in the room to watch Velocity's interaction with Robert from a few months ago, the speedster could not help but tense slightly, wondering just how far back Steed had looked, given her and Robert’s stay at the same room more than a year before the incident Steed was talking about.


But whatever the case, Steed stayed focused on watch and then reveled what she had meant in the regarding a second device when she tossed the glowing crystal onto the bed. 

Velocity turned slightly to regard it, not taking a step closer, but instead using her goggles to zoom in on the device.  It did indeed appear to be part of something in the shape of the Stopwatch, though the speedster could not imagine why it would have been sent back so far in time.


"There was nothing beloved about the Stopwatch, at least not on my part."  She stated after studying the object. 


Turning to focus back on Steed (an actually unnecessary movement given her goggles three hundred and sixty degree vision, but still important as far as non-verbal communication that is expected with others), the speedster continued.  "But it does appear similar in shape.  So, what are your intentions regarding this?"

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"Why, find the other part - or parts - of course! It seemed to me the Stopwatch that Robert has was dangerous. This may have a pale fraction of the power of the real deal, but it was enough to cause havoc in ancient Egypt. And, from what I gather, it may have exerted some influence over where it was buried. It seemed to activate a few months back, when..well, I don't know the full story, but when Lord Harrow activated the stopwatch..."


"Look, I'm no hero, but I'm no villain either. My father told me I was a vain, self obsessed, glory hunting thrill seeker. I told him he was pretty astute. But I'm not out to handle or use dangerous artifacts like the stopwatch - or whatever this is. Recover them, yes, revel in the glory, yes. Even get paid for my efforts, yes. I'm no superhero, just a girl with a gift. But if you are worried about me hatching some mad megalomaniac scheme, you have got the wrong girl..."


"All I ask for is exclusive rights to sell the story. Don't worry I'll keep you and your identity out of it. I may be liberal with the truth to the press, but that's how I roll..." she shrugged. 


"Thing is, I may not be an angel, but I don't, at the end of the day, what a disaster. I'm good at hunting treasures down. And this is no exception. What I do need is some help doing so..."

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Velocity listened as Steed explained her intentions, frowning slightly.  While the speedster certainly did not think the other woman was lying about not having some grand designs for this device, what she did want was still somewhat troublesome.

When Steed finished, Velocity crossed her arms as she replied.  "Well, you don't seem to have been paying close attention when you observed the encounter over the Stopwatch back in Switzerland.  That device, and likely this one you have found a part of as well, are indeed very dangerous.  So much so, it is probably best if the other parts to this one just remained undiscovered."


"But even if it might be better to find the other parts to ensure it is better secured, there is another problem with your desire to want to sell the story.  For one thing, the fewer people now that know about this device, the better.  But perhaps even more importantly, there are people in the future that were looking for the Stopwatch, and could very well come after this device as well.  So any story you write about it will bring them after you.  In fact, there could be some of them already in place in this hotel, waiting to make a move to acquire this part."

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Steed put her hand to her chin and thought about Velocities words. 


"That is a good point" she said, her eyes irritated but thoughtful. 


"You are right on one point, that media exposure is not a good idea. A good argument for me just throwing the whole thing away. But on the other point, you are mistaken. Whatever this broken crystal is, it has activated. Presumably by the stopwatch?"


"You think that thing was quiet in Egypt? Not a chance. Over the last few months, there have been reports of water flowing the wrong direction, people missing whole days, or doing a days work in minutes. Rumours, insanity, superstition. That's what its put down to, at the moment. But not for long. You and I know better. When I retrieved that thing, all those incidents. Pfft! not a word more. And I've had some strange experiences myself around it..."


"So you want to leave these shards in the ground? go ahead. You can wait for something to happen, but I don't think those shards are going to wait to be unearthed...."

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Velocity was a bit relieved that Steed appeared to accept her point about not wanting publicity about this device, though she was not entirely sure how much she could actually trust Steed.  What the other woman had to say about the shard she had found in Egypt was rather troubling though.  No small part of that was due to the fact that whatever this new device was, it appeared to not be keyed to Robert as the Stopwatch was.


"Okay, fair enough, these things do appear to be a problem that won't just keep.  So what is the next step in finding the other parts?  How did you find this first one?"

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"Same way as I found this piece" replied Steed.


"The Internet"


She nodded at her laptop. 


"Search for unexplained paranormal activity, see if it comes up suspicious, and then visit the area. I close my eyes and track back, looking for something odd in the flow of time, and then hone down to see if I can find the story of the shard. I only speculate, but it seems the..thing...whatever it is, maybe a prototype of the stopwatch you found, exploded back through time, landing hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago...each piece in a different time and a different zone..."


"The other lead I have, some really Dinosaurs, Conquestidors, very strange. The only problem is, I am not popular in the states. Turns out they didn't like me digging up old Native American Sites without permission. That's why I stay in Spain and other non-extradition countries. At least most of the time..."

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Velocity listened as Steed explained her plan for trying to find the other parts of the device.  "Really, dinosaurs and Conquestidors?  You must not read a lot about Freedom City if you think that particularly stands out."  The speedster replied with a slightly bored tone and a half grin.  "But still, it is a lead that should probably be checked out."


As Steed mentioned her legal problems in the United States, Velocity smirked slightly.  "You seem surprised.  I believe quite a few countries have similar views on archeological expeditions within their borders these days."


"In any event, I suppose you have an idea on how to get around your little problem?"

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Heather smiled "Patterns, patterns, patterns. Plenty of unusual things happen in Freedom City. It's not just those things, but small chatter too. Of course, I could be completely mistaken. But even for Freedom City, there have been all sorts of unusual events that are suspiciously like temporal disturbances..."


She became more serious. 


"As for going to America. I have no intention of risking myself. If I can't get the glory from finding the devices, as you point out, I have no intention of risking going to jail for it. Sorry. As I said, I'm no villain, but I'm no hero either. I'm not out to hurt anybody. Including myself..." she explained. 


She wasn't lying, either. Her demeanour was of interest but not commitment. 


She massaged her forehead. 


"Which leaves us with a problem. Or, as I am not a fan of responsibility, leaves you with a problem..." she said, uncertainly, She was disturbed by the whole business, it seemed. 


"As we can't let these fragments build up...and we need someway of pinpointing them..."

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"I can understand your reluctance."  Velocity replied as Steed indicated she had no intention of going to the States to try to find the piece of the device that the she believed was there.  The young speedster gave a small sigh.  "But yes, the Stopwatch, and everything connected to it, certainly is my problem."


"But I have an idea on how I might be able to locate the other fragments."  She then added.  Though Velocity was somewhat reluctant to have Robert potentially come into contact with a device like the Stopwatch again, he might have some connection to the device that could assist in locating the parts of this similar one.  Otherwise, it was going to be difficult scouring Freedom City looking for hints of where the fragment might be.

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The Crystal fragment in Hronos possession, previously owned by one Mr. "John Smith", started glowing slightly, eddies of time bubbling away inside and around it. 


The fragment was an enigma, even to Hronos. Clearly it possessed power, but activating it and understanding it was a painstaking process. It would take years even for the smartest of minds to understand it. 


Of course, "John Smith" had had centuries and more. There was no telling where - or when - he had dug it up. 


As it seethed with power, Hronos was vaguely aware of another signal, over the ocean...North West Africa? Spain? He could not be precise, at least at this distance. 


And...wait...another signal. A third. Somewhere south. Far South...

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Stuck between two possibilities, Hronos needn't give this occasion much thought, in order to decide what to do; both signals had equal priority, and since investigating them at the same time was impossible to him, Hronos decided to check the signal that appeared stronger to him. Taking flight, the mechanical being known as Hronos sought the source of the second resonance he picked up. Ever since he woke up from his millenias of slumber, he had found himself inexplicably drawn to Freedom City, in part because the place seemed to attract all sorts of trouble, in part because his powers had been greatly diminished, including his speed, and in part because... well, he wasn't sure why, but he had a weird feeling regarding this city, beyond the colorful sorts of people who frequented it, or the seemingly outwordly crimes that occured.


And then there was John Smith. Hronos understood the man's intentions very well, and if the circumstances had been different, he would have gladly agreed to let him change time, and bring his beloved wife and clan from their original time to the current one. However, John Smith's meddling with the timestream left it completely unharmed. Hronos didn't need to give it much thought to surmise that, whatever John Smith was trying to achieve, was doomed to failure. That in his endeavors, he needlessly and haphazardly put the lives of outsiders and innocents in danger didn't help matters, thus leading to the two of them, John Smith and Hronos, inevitably coming to blows.


And now... Hronos followed the lead emanating from the mysterious jewel he aqcuired from John Smith. Where it would lead him, Hronos wasn't sure. But he sensed that trouble was on the way, and he had the knowing of that fact. My first priority is investigating the disturbance in the south, then. The Mechanodynamis thought to himself.

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A little later...




Lord Robert Harrow rubbed his eyes and drank his tea. 


He missed Megan. Sure, they could meet up pretty much when they wanted, if not by virtue of her super speed, then by regular means. He was not a particularly busy man - a bit of academic work, a few society functions, running the estate. And he could afford to jet off to America every so often. 


Maybe he should move there. Maybe she should move here. 


Maybe, maybe...


He sat on the veranda contemplating what to do. As he was sometimes prone to do, he felt a pang in his chest, an emptiness that, however fleeting, disturbed him. The Stopwatch had left its mark on his heart. 


As he contemplated his future, his phone rang. 


"Harrow? is that you?" came the voice as soon as he answered. 


"Steed? What the devil do you want? I told you I'm not interested..."


"You may not be, but your lady friend is. She is on her way. She should be with you any sec..."


Robert snapped the phone shut, irritated, awaiting the blur of motion that was Velocity. 

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After leaving Steed ant the Hotel Castrello, Velocity started off towards England, quickly accelerating to top speed once she was out running across the surface of the Atlantic.  The trip took little over a minute, but far more than enough time for the speedster to think about the situation.


While looking forward to seeing Robert, she was somewhat hesitant about asking him to help her with looking for the parts to this other Stopwatch, given the hold the other had had on him.  But he might be the only means she had of easily tracking down the pieces.  Of course, once they had them all, there was still the problem of what to do with it, as they had not been able to determine a means of destroying the first Stopwatch thus far.


We will deal with that problem when it comes.  The yellow clad speedster thought as she reached the shores of England.


A dozen seconds or so later, she had arrived at Robert’s estate, speeding around to enter the grounds from the side and approaching the large home from the back.  The technology in her goggles spotted Robert out on the Veranda, and he appeared somewhat irritated.


The, Velocity was skidding to a halt a short distance away from Robert, a wide smile on her face.  "Hey there!  Sorry to drop by unannounced."

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"As a matter of fact, you were..." replied Robert with a smile. 


"Heather Steed. You probably don't know her but she has a little notoriety around the pistes and castles of Europe. Disowned Aristocrat, but loaded with gold, thanks to a career in raiding every last tomb and burial site in the northern Hemisphere. And probably a few in the Southern too. Girl has quite a gift, I'll grant you. And she has turned a few heads.."


He blushed briefly but covered well. 


"Anyway. She just called me. Megan...I'm sorry. I didn't want to bother you, but the little vixen called me up last week, asking me about the stopwatch. I feigned ignorance. How the hell did she know about it? anyway, it turns out she found something...something that resembled it...."


"I don't want anything more to do with it, Megan. The last time, it...it nearly destroyed me. It nearly destroyed us. And, well..."


"...I love you Megan. And I don't want to risk that" he said, red again, stiff but bold. 

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When Robert talked about Steed, Megan noticed his slight blush, but paid it little heed.  After all, she had had a number of boyfriends, or even guys she had been interested in, before she had met Robert, and even a few during the time following their break up a year ago.  "Yeah, I know."  She replied to Robert's description about Steed.  "I did some quick research on her after I got a telegram from her asking for a meeting in the Aguimes."  


The young woman paused a moment, then went on.  "Well, it seems that Steed has the ability to look back in time to see past events at a location, or connected with an object.  She recently stayed at the Aube Blanche, in the room you stayed in when you had the Stopwatch.  So she was able to 'see' us there to learn about the watch." 


Megan was quite as Robert went on, talking about how he had not wanted to deal with Steed and his concerns about getting involved with anything to do with the Stopwatch once again.  The young woman felt a pang of guilty at what she had come here to ask Robert to do.


"Yeah, I met with her.  She has part of what looks like something similar to the Stopwatch Robert.  It has apparently been causing temporal disturbances ever since you came into contact with the Stopwatch, almost as if it 'woke up,' after being buried in the desert for several thousand years."


She paused, taking her mask, wig and goggles off as she looked over at Robert, sympathy and caring apparent on her face.  "I am sorry to bring all this up again Robert, I know that the whole incident was difficult for you.  I….just did not realize how hard it was."  She paused a moment, then went on.  "Though, I would not quite say that it nearly destroyed us, seeing as we were not together at that point.  If anything, it helped reconnect us."


In a split second, she was over next to Robert, embracing him, her head resting on his chest for a moment.  She then looked up into his eyes.  "I love you too Robert, and I certainly do not want to see you hurt.  But…I can't ignore the possible danger this new artifact represents, especially if it is connected with the Stopwatch."


"There are other parts to the device Steed found, and I need to try to locate them before they fall into the wrong hands.  Steed has what she think is a potential lead on another part, only it is in the States, where there is a warrant out for her arrest, so naturally, she has no interest in going there.  I need to find a way to try to track the other parts."

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"I...understand" replied Robert. "I can't stand by. It's just...It's just..."


He smiled, and kissed her passionately, as if it was the last kiss he would have with her, savouring every moment. 


"I don't want to ever lose this" he explained, lost for words that were not needed. 


He sat down and finished his tea, a semblance of serenity over his face, masking fear. 


"Well then, to business. Saving the world, and all that. Do I need a mask and a costume?" he asked, teasing her. "I suspect I can sense the watch, or anything like it. It's part of me, now. Just keep an eye on me when I do get close, hmmm?"


"But its still an awfully big area to cover. To be honest, Steed may be our best bet. For starters, she has the first piece, doesn't she? I suppose I should see what kind of sparks that sets of in my head first. Can you take me to her?"

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