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Stopwatch 3: Collapse


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Wakaya Island, Fiji

Friday October 25, 2013; 11:33 AM local time (Freedom City time: 7:33 PM (Thursday October 24, 2013))


The late morning sun shone brightly in the sky over the small Fijian island of Wakaya. With the "cool" season coming toward an end, the day was turning out to be pleasantly warm, the temperature already approaching eighty degrees.   


Megan Howell glided through the water of the large infinity pool located on the spacious main deck of the large compound situated on the highest point of Wakaya.  Dubbed Rai Ki Wai, Megan and Robert Howell had acquired the property a little over a month ago at a rather reasonable price, considering the size and quality of the property.


This last week had been their first real chance to enjoy their new vacation home, other than a four day weekend back at the end of September. 


The decision to purchase the property with Robert had felt like something of a major move for the young woman.  After all, it had only been about seven or so months since they had renewed their relationship, after nearly a year apart.  Of course, Megan blamed that year apart on her on mishandling of things in regard to her identity as the superheroine Velocity.  If she had not kept that a secret from Robert while they had been at Cambridge together, she was rather certain they would have recently celebrated two years together.


Of course, the decision to purchase Rai Ki Wai together had also been made a bit easier by the knowledge that, at least in some timelines, she and Robert married.  But that knowledge also came with the burden of knowing that in a number of those timelines (and perhaps even others where they did not marry), they had a son that would develop terrible powers.


That possibility had made Megan consider not reconciling with Robert when he had initially indicated his desire to do so.  But discussing the issue with a few fellow members of the Freedom League and their allies in the superhero community in Freedom City had convinced her otherwise.


As she neared one of the stairs from the pool, the young blonde woman put her feet back under her, touching the bottom of the pool and standing back up out of the water slightly as she walked the rest of the way and up the stairs to the polished teak deck.  Picking up a towel she had left nearby, Megan began to dry herself off as she made her way across the deck towards a row of lounge chairs overlooking the ocean.


Seated in one of the chairs was Robert, the young English lord apparently in the process of making more edits to a paper he was to be presenting early next month at some scientific society he belonged to back in England.  Unable to stop herself from smiling slightly, Megan moved over to take a perch at the edge of the chair beside him, running the fingers of one hand through his short blond hair.


"You know, you have a long plane ride home early next week, not to mention several days once your back, to finish that up."  She stated with a grin.

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"I know, I know" smiled Robert, as pleased as could be to be with Megan, in the idyllic little world they were in. 


"It just helps me relax. Things have been..tense...ever since the Stopwatch..." he said. He said it with only a slight strain now, a vast improvement. 


"It changed me, you know. Not just psychologically. Ever since I had it, something in my head clicked. Like a metronome started. I know the time now without looking. Never wear a watch any more. 11:33 AM and twenty seven seconds" he said with precision. 


He tapped the side of his head. 


"Spooky, huh?" he said with a grin. 


"Of course every second is a gem with you!" he said, ignoring his typing, and gathering her up with a cheeky pat and a cheeky kiss. Whatever anxieties the Stopwatch had caused him, Megan clearly evaporated them - and more. 


"Hey I'm going to grab some early lunch. I clean forgot breakfast, You hungry? I can make you a bite" he offered. 

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Megan listened with a slight feeling of concern as Robert talked about the Stopwatch and how it had somehow provided him an ability to instantly know what time it was.  But she was glad that some of the other effects from possessing the device had continued to fade some with time. 


Allowing herself to be drawn closer, she returned the kiss and then gave a sly smile.  "What use is being able to know what time it is if you still miss meals?"  She teased.  "But I could probably do with some lunch."  She then added with a wider smile.

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"Excellent! Now I know you could whip something up in a jiffy, but humour me, just this once" he smiled. "Let me do the cooking. I rather enjoy it. Eggs Benedict, I think. With some black coffee and the Times crossword. Just the thing! You just relax and two ten billion lengths in the pool or something!" he joked. 


He got up and got to work. 


Robert was actually quite a good cook. His repetoire, was not vast, but he had a fine nose and liked to make pure simple food with good ingredients. And he took time and care. 


Time passed...




even for Robert, this was taking a long time...




a very long time...

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Megan's smile remained in place as Robert offered to make them both something for lunch, even if it was more breakfast style.  "I would imagine swimming that many laps would get dull very quickly."  She commented as she instead slipped on her nearby sunglasses and settled into the lounge chair, applying a fresh coat of sunscreen to relax in the warm sun while she waited for lunch.


Lying there in the warm sun, it was easy to lose track of time, something that was not necessarily a good thing for Megan.  Unlike Robert, she had no internal clock letting her know exactly what time it was.  Instead, her powers tended to give her a rather different view of time, where the passage of a few seconds could seem like hours instead. 


Sitting up and looking back towards the windows of the main pavilion, Megan looked for any sign of Robert, wondering if she had let herself slip into operating far faster than the world around her did.  Of course, her watch was sitting in the safe in the master bedroom pavilion, as she had had little need for it over the week.


After a few nanoseconds of internal debate, Megan stood up and walked across the large deck to the nearest entrance to the main pavilion, which was sitting open.  The living room and dining room area was a floor above, this floor holding some guest rooms, restrooms, smaller seating areas and the large kitchen.


"Robert?"  Megan called out as she started down the hallway towards the kitchen.  The large section of the house was ominously quite, causing a hint of paranoia to stir at the edge of the young blonde’s mind.


"Robert?"  She called out again as she reached the entrance the kitchen, stepping into the large spacious area just in time to spot Robert sprawled on the floor with several of the ingredients for their lunch scattered around him.  Kneeling beside him was a man dressed in the futuristic jumpsuit that she had seen some of the time agents wear back in Switzerland. 


“Stop!† She yelled out, as she started off in a blur of speed towards the pair.


But as fast as Megan was, the time agent was already activating some device, and both he and Robert faded from sight just as she reached them to grab at nothing but empty air.


"NO!"  Megan screamed a she became an almost impossible to see blur of movement, trying to grab at every square inch of empty space throughout the thousands of square feet within the main pavilion.  It took her less than a second to cover everywhere inside the pavilion (as well as a fair bit of the deck and walkways beyond) that someone could possibly standing invisible, let alone be while holding another unconscious invisible person.


Coming to a halt once more in one of the walkways between the main pavilion and another part of the compound, the realization came to Megan that Robert and his abductor had not simply gone invisible.  More likely, Robert had been taken someplace else, or more accurately, some other time.

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Megan's mind was racing, working thousands of times faster than a normal persons.  The group in the future had for some reason decided to take Robert, most likely to that null-time space they had once kidnapped her to.  Were they going to try to us him as leverage to get ahold of the Stopwatch or its prototype device?  Had they decided on a more radical approach to trying to stop Collapse from being born in various timelines by removing his father from the timeline?


The speedster felt her stomach sink at the thought of that.  She had to try to do something to rescue Robert, and an idea came to mind in what to most would have appeared hardly any time at all.


Megan was moving once again in a blur, speeding down the covered breezeways between the pavilions at the heart of the compound to the master bedroom pavilion.  Once inside her and Robert's master bedroom, she quickly stopped at her laptop, sending off a quick message to the staff at the resort on the island, who provide the cleaning and upkeep services for her and Robert's property. The message indicated that they did not need any cleaning services that day (sort of the electronic equivalent of a "do not disturb" sign).  It would not be the first time this week the couple had sent such a message.


A split second after the message was sent, she was dressed in her costume as Velocity.  Checking to be sure she had the cellphone she used in costume and her Freedom League communicator as well as enough of the steel ball bearings she could use as hypersonic projectiles, she then sped back to the main pavilion, cleaning up the food and other mess Robert had gotten out for their lunch in the blink of an eye.


Seconds later, she was hundreds of miles away, running across the surface of the Pacific Ocean back towards the West Coast of the United States.  At top speed, she should be able to be back in Freedom City in less than ten minutes.  Taking out her phone, she called the number she had for Hronos.

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Hronos had managed to subdue a gang of criminals before they managed to escape with their loot. Certainly, it wasn't much of a challenged, but it still provided with a good test run for the repairs he had conducted on his left arm and right leg. Half a month ago, he had encountered a giant monster with a powerful bite, not unlike that of a tyranosaurus, and he proceded to fight it. Hronos had emerged victorious, but not before losing half of his limbs to the creature.


Normally, in order to deal with such a serious wound, he would have resorted to making a local temporal rewind, that would restore his body into a previous state. Unfortunately for Hronos, however, the Essence of Time had actually diminished from its normal operational parameters. It appeared as the source had been drained to a great decree, living him only limited capabilities. He had suspected that perhaps the Stopwatch he held was responsible for this, acting as a sponge and feeding off of his temporal energies. Or perhaps, the Essence itself was willingly withholding power; it DID exhibit a level of sentience, way back when Hronos was still acting as a fully active Wielder of Time.


At any rate, having to perform the repairs manually was no fun endeavor, but Hronos managed to scrounge up the necessary parts for his repairs. Now, after that test run, he headed back to the Daily Word. It was interesting, as Hronos had realised, but the Paper was a valuable information hub, and he had found that most of the staff was all too eager to share it with him, and even act as a cultural translator of shorts. As soon as he entered the building, Jerry, the Receptionist at the loby entrance who was currently on shift, greeted Hronos immediately, and informed him of the call Velocity had made.


Calling her back, Hronos informed her of his current whereabouts, at the building of the Daily Word, and indicating that if she desired, they could alternatively meet in Liberty Park.

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"Well, both of those places are a bit too public for me, even at this hour."  Velocity replied when Hronos had returned her call.  "How about meeting me over at Freedom Hall, I will be there in a couple of seconds anyway."  She stated as she was almost finished passing through Pennsylvania. 


By the time she was off the phone with Hronos, Velocity had already reached the outskirts of Freedom City, so it was barely a second before she reached Freedom Hall in the heart of the city center.  The speedster had to slow down a bit to ensure the security protocols all identified her, but was soon inside.


Velocity took a few moments to check if any of the other auxiliary members were available at the moment, but learned they were all currently unavailable.  She briefly considered seeing if any other League members might be able to help out, but for the moment decided against it.  Instead she waited for Hronos to arrive, having alerted the League's automated receptionist "Cynthia" that he should be arriving soon.

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"That is understood, miss Velocity. I will be joining you on the designated location with all haste." Hronos replied, before hanging up. It would be a nigh-impossible task to live in Freedom City for more than a few days and  not be aqcuaintanced with the Freedom Hall and its location, much less so if you've lived for almost a year, as Hronos has. After thanking Jerry, Hronos flew out of the Daily Word building, and in a few minutes, he had arrived at the fabled fulcrum of Freedom's finest. Once there, he followed the necessary procedures in order to validate his clearance, and meet up with Velocity. Truth be told, he got the impression that Velocity had exhibited a very urgent tone, on her request to meet with him. Seeing as this felt far too formal for a simple visit, he wondered whether something stopwatch-related had happened.

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In the short time it took Hronos to travel from the Daily Word building to Freedom Hall, Velocity had not been idle.  The speedster had stopped by the building’s laboratories, where she picked up modified version of the goggles she wore in costume.  After the various incidents with the time agents and their robot operatives, Velocity had asked Daedalus to work on a version of the goggles that would allow her to see through the visual concealment the time agents and their other operatives used.


When she received word that Hronos had arrived in the reception area of Freedom Hall, the speedster had already replaced the goggles she normally wore with the modified ones. 


A moment later she was skidding to a halt in the reception area, where Hronos had been greeted by Cynthia.


"Hi, thanks for coming so quick on short notice."  She said in greeting as she led Hronos down a hallway to a small conference room.  "I would not have called so out of the blue like this, but I have a major problem.  Robert was kidnapped by one of those time agents, and I assume taken to some other time, or more likely a null time that they operate out of."

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Hronos didn't take more than an instant to fully process this information. He had met lord Robert the same time that he had also met Velocity, and he was aware that the man, through no fault of his, was a magnet for danger. Certainly, that, and the fact that Velocity was part of Freedom City's, if not Earth's, premier team of Superheroes, lent credence and weight on Velocity's words.


"The premise that lord Harrow was kidnapped by the time agents, given the established events that I witnessed occuring, appears to be the most likely one to have occured. I am saddened to hear that, miss Velocity. Furthermore, and given the nature of this incident, I understand why it would be necessary that I lend you my assistance. However, I should note that, regardless of the course of action we choose, we will most likely end up dealing with the time agents on their own terms, in a location in which they have the advantage over us. We will require as much help as possible, if we hope to succeed."

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Velocity listened as Hronos spoke, though she had already thought of much of what he stated, what she had not, she was able to consider at great length in a faction of a second.  "I fully realize that we will likely be at something of a disadvantage, if not walking into an outright trap.  But at the moment the other members of the Freedom League Auxiliary are not available, and while I could try to contact other League members, or even other heroes I know, I am not certain we have the luxury of a great deal of time to try to do so."


"While normally I recognize that time travel should allow us to go to wherever Robert has been taken and arrive just after he does, if not at the same moment.  But given the likelihood that he has been taken to a null time, I am not so certain we can count things working as they normally would.  The more time we take getting there, the more time Robert could be there in danger."


"As for pulling in other League members, there is also the fact that this really involves a personal issue for me.  While I am certain any of the other League members would not hesitate to help me if I ask, I am not so comfortable with pulling too many of them out of this timestream without an absolute need to do so.  I will contact Deadalus to let him know what is going on and what we are doing, so, if it becomes necessary, some of them can try to follow us.  But for now, it is probably just best if it is you and I going."


She paused a moment and gave a wry smile.  "And don't worry, I should have something in store to help counter some of the advantages they might have," she tapped her goggles as she spoke.    


"So, the question is, how can we try and follow them."  She then added.  "I was thinking we might try speaking with the John Smith you told me about, as he seems to know a good bit about the fragments of the prototype Stopwatch."

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After a moments consideration, Hronos nodded his head in agreement. "I understand the situation. There is no doubt that your reasoning is sound. It is unfortunate that your teammates cannot assist you with this situation, but I certainly do not blame you for your chosen course of action."


"As matters are at the moment, we have very few options available to us. As you have surmised yourself, John Smith is probably our most certain line of inquiry. Unfortunately, he has proven to be much less cooperative with me than what would be desirable. I suppose he holds a grudge against me for preventing him from reuniting with his long deceased wife. Perhaps you would be more successful in convincing him to cooperate, though." Hronos said, musing that perhaps the similarity of Velocity's predicament to John Smith's would be enough to appeal to John Smith's better nature... if the man does have one.

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...Shortly, at John Smith's Abode, Just South of Freedom City...


John Smith, it appeared, was actually of that name. The paper trail of his history was well concealed though, with documents apparently "lost in a fire" back when electronic records were a future aspiration. 


He was, it seems, 47 years old. He looked at least ten years younger to Hronos. He was, by admission to Hronos but nobody else, thousands of years older.


Technically he was under bail conditions, but rather limited ones. The proof he was any threat to the fabric of society was scant. An upstanding citizen, by all accounts. Even got a commendation for apprehending two muggers a decade ago. Single handedly, two - without a scratch. Of course, having survived two thousand years of various scrapes and brawls one would imagine his combat experience would be hard to match. 


His house was well furnished, but not extravagant. An outside wall, some good but not excessive security, and a few dogs outside. It struck a very well judged balance between firm security measures without drawing attention to itself. 

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"Have a good evening, John Smith. I trust you have been faring well enough." Hronos greeted him formally. "I understand that my frequent visits to you may not have been the most pleasant experience for you, but worry not; I am merely acting as a guide." Indicating at the Freedom Leaguer with him, the Mechanodynamis continued "This is Velocity, well known superhero and member of the Freedom League, though I imagine that you are already aware of that. Nevertheless, she would like to ask you some questions. Velocity, this is the man I spoke of, John Smith." Stepping back, Hronos decided to let Velocity take the lead for the rest of the conversation. The simple fact that she was human meant that she would be more well-versed in reasoning with the millenium-old gentleman.

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Getting to John Smith's house had been a bit slow, at least from Velocity's perspective.  While she could have gotten there in mere moments from Freedom Hall, Hronos had taken a little bit longer, and it really did not make much sense for her to arrive before him given his prior interactions with Smith.  So, she had been left with having to hope that they were not taking too much time.


"Good evening Mr. Smith."  The speedster stated after Hronos had made the brief introductions.  "I am sorry for our intrusion, but we could really use your assistance the piece of the device you used to have possession of and its properties to manipulate time."

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"Metal Man, I couldn't care two dollars about you. You aren't human. Just a toaster with ideas above its station" said John Smith dismissively. 


As Oscar Wilde said, if there was one thing worse than being spat at, it was not being spat at. John Smith didn't even consider Hronos worthy of his eye contact, let alone anger. He was just a machine that had got in his way. 


"Velocity...I have heard of you" he said, smiling at the speedster. "You, I can talk to. On account of being flesh and bone and soul. Please come in". 


It was not clear whether he included Hronos in the invite. Possibly, he simply didn't care. 


"You are not intruding" he said, relaxed and calm, and making himself some tea - nothing exotic but good quality. "I take pleasure in inviting you in. Fascinating to meet you" he said. 


He sat down, and crossed his legs. 


"The device, as you call it, I believe is legally mine, and I intend to challenge the charges placed against me by the machine you are with. I understand societies caution, but it has been in my possession for some considerable time, and I am well versed in its properties. It seems to me an interesting legal issue. After all, the government hardly seems to deprive every superhero in Freedom City of dangerous items does it? even if they are nuclear powered battlesuits? hmmm?"


"I believe I have a good chance of legally recovering my property, and I am a patient man. But you intrigue me, what would you want this device for? what do you know of its nature?"


Despite his calm, there was a glint in his eye, of fierce intelligence and the cunning of countless centuries. 

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Velocity frowned slightly as Smith was so quickly dismissive of Hronos.  When he turned his focus back to her, she gave a small smile as he allowed her into the house.  "Thank you Mr. Smith, though I will say that while I am not here to debate philosophy with you, and I am far less than certain I could do so with much success, I would not be so dismissive of Hronos as soulless.  When I first joined the Freedom League, it was alongside another new member named Envoy, an artificial creation from Utopia Isle, and someone I would point to as strongly supporting the argument that such an entity can have a soul.  He was one of my closest friends on the League while he was there."


She took a seat across from Smith, but upright and partially on the edge of the seat.  "Well, I am certain your attorney would not want you talking too much about your case to us, and we are not here to try to learn anything that could be used against you in the case either."  She replied briefly before continuing.  "I am sure there is a great deal about the device that you know that I do not, which is why we are here."  She began.


"But what I do know is that what you had in your possession, for what was apparently several thousand years, was a piece of a prototype device that was created in the future.  Hronos and I, along with a number of others, recovered the other two parts a few months ago.  Several months before that, I, along with another hero, recovered the device that is the finished product of the prototype, a Stopwatch, also from the future and planted in the past and keyed to a certain individual.  That individual…someone very close to me, was able to control time with the Stopwatch, but it also asserted a fair amount of control over him, making him act in ways he normally would not."


"That individual has been taken from the present, and very likely out of this timestream, by an organization in the future that is after by the Stopwatch and the parts of the prototype, including the piece that you possessed.  They want those devices to help them combat a threat in the future, not just to this timeline, but, at least according to them, to every timeline.  I have every reason to believe they have taken him to a null time, a place they are able to operate from outside the normal flow of time.  I need to try to go and rescue him, and your knowledge of the device may be the only thing that could help us get to this null time."

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"Modern society has gained much, but forgotten the primal reality of humanity" answered John with complete confidence in regards to Velocities question about Hronos. 


"I don't forget" he added simply. 


He offered Velocity a cup of tea, paused, then, with a mocking smile, offered Hronos a power socket. 


"A Stopwatch, did you say?" he said, after considering Velocities words a while. 


"That would certainly make sense. I studied the fragment for many years. I always appreciated it was but part of a whole, but never what that whole was. Elegant, I must say. Poetic, too. You would not understand, metal man" he said, once again dismissing Hronos. 


"Yes, yes, I can help you" he said keenly. 


"But let me ask you this, why is that machine allowing this? It defied my wishes to help my beloved. And now it helps yours? this smacks of injustice!" he said, angrily. "I imagine it believes that snatching your friend was a perversion of the time stream, one it has to correct, whereas my crusade, to save my first love, my family and my tribe, from the misery of disease and starvation that chained the age, was a perversion in the first place. Ah yes! How noble a sentiment! One must, of course, allow suffering if it preserves the time stream!" he snarled sarcastically. 


"But I am moved to romance and love, Velocity. If I can save your beloved, I will..." he explained, smiling once more. 

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Velocity took the offered tea from Smith, but only had a few sips.  She brightened up some as he stated that he would help her, but then that mood darkened slightly as he once again brought up his prior encounter with Hronos and his attempts to bring his wife and others forward in time.  "That is not an easy question."  The speedster began.  "And one that Hronos could probably answer more directly.  I understand your commitment to your wife and tribe, but history is filled with suffering, and events that are unjust.  But I am sure even you can agree that major problems can arise if one was to start pulling large groups of people from the past to save them from those conditions."


"But I am very grateful for your willingness to assist."  She paused a moment then took out two heavy black cloths which she sat down on the coffee table in front of her.  "As I said, I believe that Robert has been taken to a null time, sitting outside of all the various timestreams.  I am hoping that we will be able to use these pieces to allow us to travel to that null time."  She continued as she opened the cloth to revel the pieces of the prototype that had been recovered by Steed and by the Russians. 

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John's face seemed bored with pretence. He was clearly darkened himself with Velocity. 


"Major problems always happen. Who are you to judge what is major and what is minor? The suffering I witnessed, it certainly was not minor to me" he said. His voice was full of warmth - not anger, but full of love. An altogether more dangerous emotion. 


"How easy it is to bear other people's pain, is it not? and then tell them what problems are major and minor" he smiled. 


"This null time sounds very interesting. A sanctuary, perhaps. A purgatory, some might say, is safety worth such disconnection? I wonder. But, yes, your description of this null time...it would explain a lot. It would explain a lot of the problems I had with the fragment..." he said, as the pieces fell into place in his head. 


"Well then, for love! Shakespeare would be proud, would he not? Perhaps we should pay him a visit and ask him to write a play about this whole romance. It would be magnificent!" he smiled. 


"Let us be away then. I am your humble servant. I believe I can take you to this Null time. If you give me access to the fragments, the prototype, or better still, the stopwatch..."

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Hronos wordlessly watched with mild amusement at John Smith's petty attempts to belittle him, to justify his actions, and to patronize Velocity in his own personal sanctimonious little way. Truth be told, he had no problems with tampering with time; certainly, the ability to do so was hardwired in the universe. But intimate knowledge of the mechanics involved with time travel still eluded even the most learned of people, and as with everything, caution should be taken when treading on uncharted waters. In fact, even Hronos himself, who was designed for the express purpose of guarding the integrity of time itself, had quite a few blindspots in his knowledge of the matter. The Essence of Time itself, though, acted as a potent guiding hand on such occasions, and Hronos had come to greatly rely upon it.


Caution ranked low on John Smith's priorities. That much he had proven when his experiments brought about a dinosaur in the middle of Liberty Park, and a small 16th century spanish army on Wharton State Forest. With practically no safety measures to speak of, right in the middle of frequently populated areas.


Still, when the man asked for the parts, it was time, the Mechanodynamis deemed, to interject. He placed his hand upon Velocity's shoulder, and told her "This problem is closer to you than it is to me, and while you may not be able to make a purely objective assessment, you still have a more complete understanding of the problem than I do. As such, the decision lies with you, Velocity, and know that I trust you completely on this matter."

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Velocity gave a small sigh at Smith's reaction to her comment.  "No, you misunderstand me.  I was not suggesting what happened to your wife and tribe was minor, or that any event in the past is minor.  No, I was commenting on how it comes a question of where one draws the line when one starts pulling people from the past.  If everyone from the past gets moved to a future where there is less suffering…well, how will that future ever come about?"


"But again, I did not come here to make moral judgments or debate philosophical principals."  The speedster then added.  "But again, I thank you deeply for agreeing to help."


As Hronos got her attention and spoke, Velocity gave a nod a she replied quietly.  "Thanks, but be sure to keep an eye on things and don’t hesitate to speak up if something concerns you."


Turning back to Smith, she gave a somewhat reluctant nod.  "Yes, I thought the Stopwatch might be useful for us."  She stated as she took a small box out of one of the pouches on her belt.  Opening the box, she took out an intricate and old looking pocketwatch.  "As I mentioned, this is somehow keyed to Robert, and as far as we now, only he can operate it.  I figured if need be, we might be able to use it as something of a lodestone for finding him."

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John's eyes positively glinted when he saw the watch. 


"That?...that is the original stopwatch? my my..." he breathed out, lost in the moment, which lasted several seconds whilst he admired the timepiece. 


"Forgive me. It is beautiful. It is rare you see such power melded with such beauty, such charm. It breathes antiquity, does it not?" he said, not really asking a question. 


"My breathe leaves body. Ah, what wond'rous artifice!" he smiled, full of joy! "Would that I had forged such a piece myself! I am envious, yes! envious!" he said. 


"May I examine it? Even looking at it, my work on the prototype fragment now falls into new and sharper focus. Mysteries of its ways now sunder to fresh perspective!" he said, enraptured by the ticking of the watch. 

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Velocity regarded Smith for a moment (a very LONG moment to her) as he was entranced with the Stopwatch.  She was rather apprehensive about allowing him to handle the Stopwatch, considering the trouble it had caused when it first appeared.  It was believed that only Robert could activate the powers of the Stopwatch, but the fragments of the prototype certainly did not appear to have that limitation.  Could Smith also possibly access the Stopwatch's powers?  Of course, she believed that part of her problems in dealing with Robert when he possessed the Stopwatch was that she had been hesitant to hurt him.  The same could not be said for John Smith.


"Well, if by 'original,' you mean the finished product, then yes, this is the Stopwatch."  She replied as she gently set it down on the coffee table in front of her.  "Although, I suppose one could say that it exists so that it can be created."


"While I am hesitant about allowing you to handle it, I understand that it is probably necessary to try to help us get to the null time."  She added, as she slightly tensed for the possibility she might need to act.

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