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Earth Victoriana: On Track

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It was the ever enigmatic Mr. Smith, dressed in his black suit and carrying his extremely large suitcase, powered by his tall, muscular frame, that sent Synapse off. 




The channel tunnel had been shut. On the English side. There was a cover story, of course. Engineering works to ensure safety. All very reassuring. All completely false. 


Nobody really knew what was going on, but it happened fast. An explosion and then...nothing. No trace of explosives. A flash for one second popped into existence, and then popped straight out again. 


"From the little information we have, the origin of this may not be from our dimension" explained Smith as he introduced Doctor Rhona Rost. 


Dr Rost was working for the government, an expert in theoretical physics apparently, and well briefed. She was a nervous, thin, woman with nicotine stained fingers and bad glasses. For all that, she was also a tall, blonde, woman with sculpted Russian cheekbones. She looked like a Supermodel who had stayed up three nights on too much coffee and had thrown all her make up and fancy clothes down the toilet. 


"Y-Y-Yes yes" she said, adding a nervous stammer to her plethora of qualities. Her voice didn't indicate either a lack of confidence or an abundance of arrogance. "We best get going. Don't want another frazzin' explosion in a tunnel under the sea, do we?" she asked, hopping from one foot to another in perpetual restlessness. 


Smith's face was, as ever, like unnatural stone. No muscles moved at all. He merely handed Synapse a sealed document. 


"Only open if you are...displaced..." he said, stoically, before marching off. 



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Alexander wasn't sure what had filled him with the urge to travel the world as of late; Perhaps he was feeling his age and wanted to make the most of his abundant free time and very understanding boss? Regardless he was glad he'd let It lead him where; he felt Wiser for his travels and more resolved than ever to do whatever he could for the betterment of those around him and there was no shortage of things to do.


He'd always wanted to see the white cliffs of Dover, even after he'd left his home and crossed the Atlantic the old song had always stuck that chord when he heard it and like many people he'd put it aside and forgotten time and again. Falling years through time however had given him perspective on how fleeting it really was and made him more reluctant to shuffle such whims away and so he'd found himself a flight, a lovely little bed & breakfast near the channel tunnel station to stay in and here he was, unpacking his sweaters, shirts and trousers into a pristine set of draws.


Feeling rather peckish however he soon found himself out and about looking for someplace to eat as he got himself better acquainted with the area.

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...Uncle Bob's Big Bangers


Uncle Bob was fat man, of indeterminate age. He was one of those men that seemed to enjoy the expanse of his midriff, as if his adipose tissue infused him with some kind of vital tonic. He bustled about, ate heartily, and grinned widely. 


And his sausages were indeed on the large and tasty variety. 


He served them up to Alexander with a big smile. 


"There you go, my son. A fella like you needs his protein, eh? Big strapping lad like you!"


All a sudden, a flash...


It was like an explosion, a sudden feeling of light and heat and force. For the briefest of moments, Big Bob and Alex were in the centre of a ghostly explosion, like an echo. And then, it was gone, with just words lilting in Alex's ears. 


"Build it!"


Uncle Bob gulped. 


"Did...did you just feel something? Or did I eat one two many of my famous blue cheese burgers last night?"

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Dee Farrington listened rather impassively as Smith provided what little information the Ministry had about the incident in the channel tunnel. The young woman was dressed as Synapse, the identity she had taken on as a member of the Ministry backed Taskforce UK, better known as the Vanguard in the press. Despite what she had told Young Britannia when they had first met at the Ministry building, Dee had eventually allowed the patriotic heroine to talk her into a proper costume, though one far less flashy.

Dee's Synapse costume was a full body suit of medium grey and purple with a mask that covered the upper part of her face. She was still far from comfortable in the costume, and rather doubted she ever would be.

Glancing over at Dr. Rost, Dee could not help but smirk slightly. The theoretical physician was apparently very highly strung, which hopefully would not turn out to be a liability in investigating this disturbance. She then took the envelope that Smith offered her with a faint smile. "Always one for laughs, aren't you Smith." She stated before folding the envelope and slipping it into a belt pouch.

Take a moment to glance at the tools she had gathered together, the Englishwoman glance over at Rost. Hopefully the woman would at least make for some interesting theoretical discussion on the way to Dover. "Well, shall we be off then?"

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On the road to Dover...


The Car was a regular one, nothing too flashy, not even new, just reliable and medium sized. Not for economy - but for profile. The only remarkable thing about it was the driver. 


"My butler" she explained. 


The butler was dressed in a suit and a cap, and had waxy skin, with the odd crackle of electricity and a buzzing voice. 


"Just the prototype model" she explained, as the automaton drove them efficiently and safely down to Dover. 


Dr Rost was fidgeting the whole time, but tried to close her eyes and relax - doing so by pressing her fingers to her temples and performing controlled breathing with some generic relaxation mantra. 


"I am in control, I am calm, I am relaxed, I am in my safe zone, I am in control, I am calm, I am relaxed, I am in my safe zone, I am in control, I am calm, I am relaxed, I am in my safe zone..."


For all her nervous energy, she was not talkative, but she was clever. The Ministry had not sent any old buffoon down with her. Her theory, based on the preliminary readings, which she gladly shared, was the energy was not from this dimension. Something was crossing the dimensions, sucking and colliding them for brief moments. 


"A bridge..." she explained. 

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Dee was half listening as Rost explained her theory based on the preliminary readings, focusing some of her mental energy on examining the robotic driver. That was partly to satisfy herself that it was indeed safe, but also just curiosity at the design and effectiveness.

The young woman could follow Rost well enough, though much of what she was talking about was a bit beyond things Dee normally dealt with (something she would have to change she figured now that she had committed herself to this whole superhero thing). "A bridge-the data certainly seems to support that theory. Only question is, is something making the bridge to come over here? Or for someone here to go to wherever the other end is?"

"Quite an interesting design for your butler by the way." Dee added. "I think some of the wires down in the processing core are not insulated enough, which is causing the feedback with some of the other systems. Does not seem like much of a hazard at the moment, but likely something that you should look at."

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Dr Rost waved her hand at the driver. "Old Frankenbolts? Well, he is just for us to tinker with down at the Ministry lab. Some of his parts even come from the original Vanguard Haven, you know. Perfectly safe. No weapons. Just a bit of fun really"


"I am pleased to service of" said Frankenbolts, smiling cordially and speaking with a buzzing voice inbetween the occasional spark "And, I can inform you that we are about to enter the Dover Channel Tunnel facilities, having made time good. I hope your journey was a one comfortable" he finished. 


"We never managed to work out the transposition of words at the end of the sentence" said Dr Rost. "To be honest, none of us really want to now..." she said wistfully. 


The Dover site was shut off by police, but Rost, Frankenbolts and Synapse could slip in without any fuss. It was a short journey, and one that required the emergency lighting, to enter the tunnel itself, and survey the damage caused by the explosion. 

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Dee gave a small nod as Rost mentioned that neither she or any of the other Ministry scientists wanting to fix the small quirks of the robot, although Dee also had a faint desire to open the robot up and try to fix the problems.

When they reached the entrance to the channel tunnel, Dee and Rost were able to slip through the police line with a wave of their Ministry credentials and were soon on the way down into the tunnel towards the site of the incident. It was pretty obvious when they reached the scene.

"Well, let's have a look shall we?" Dee stated out loud as she shined her flashlight around the scene and began a careful examination of the site of the explosion. The young woman made mental notes of what she uncovered as she went, putting the pieces together in her mind as she did so. After a few minutes, she stopped and looked over at Rost.

"It looks as if the explosion originated on the other side of your bridge and what we got was a bit of a spillover and not the full effect." Dee began as she began to point out the bits of metal shards from the explosive and how it was spread out. "I guess the question is whether this was accidental, or whether someone is purposely trying to get the explosives through to our side, or at least their effect."

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Rost was hard at work on her laptop, where her nervous energy translated to a rapid typing speed. Her fingers flew across the keyboard so fast, it seemed to hum. 


"Hypothesis, Hypothesis. Aggression? Accident? Too soon to tell. But we have a danger, in any case. If the channel tunnel collapses, its a disaster. We need to close it down..." she said. 


"Which will be politically hot, to say the least. Which translates to heat on us to get this fixed. And, bingo! we have another sighting..." she said, as an alert flashed up on her laptop. 


"Outside the tunnel this time, not far, but a relief. Another flash of light and smoke. In..." she peered closely through her glasses. 


"...Big Bob's Bangers..." she said, a voice pregnant with sneer, thanks to a diet of vegan health food that maintained her fabulous beanpole figure. She was obviously a health fascist. 


"Lets go. Ill wind up Frankenbolts to take us there..."

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Alexander required little more incentive than the charming name and promise of sausages to enter the cosy eatery, Taking an immediate liking to the Boisterous Uncle bob, he reminded him of Old aquaintances and better times with his darts playing physique.


"It's been far to long since i last ate any banger; that much is for certain." he chimes merrily as he takes up his eating irons but before they can be put to use he found his senses assailed by light and sound and burning heat, as if he were sat in the middle of some phantasmagorical explosion that leaving as soon as it came left a ringing reverberating voice bouncing around his skull. 


"Build It!" 


the words resounded, within him as much as they had resonated around him; Build what? Where? his mind scrambled before Bob brought him back to the moment and presence of mind to answer "Hmm? sorry, i must have been staring into space for a moment."

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Bob looked rather dazed as he Alexander spoke, and looked around. The rest of the restaurant - or diner - was looking around a bit uncomfortably, scratching their heads. 


"Did you just feel something hot?"


"Was that a breeze?"


But nothing like the experience he had Alexander had had. They took the full blast - literally. 


"Don't tell me you didn't just feel something?" he said, wiping his sweating brow and rubbing his hands on a slightly grubby apron. 


"Light, explosions, heat? I am going crazy or something?" he sat down in a chair, slumped, besides Alex and took his own pulse. 


"Am I? My great uncle, he had epilepsy, he had all sorts of funny quaint feelings before he had a turn..." he mumbled, staring at his hands, willing them to stay still. 


"I'm not having a fit, am I?" he asked. 




The Ministry car, driven by Frankenbolts, with a siren on top, was steaming towards Bob's Bangers...

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"Like I care one bit about any political mess."  Dee had replied as Rost was rambling about the fact that they had to have the tunnel shut down until they were able to ensure that there would be no more incidents.  But then their equipment picked up another disturbance, this time located outside the tunnels.


The young woman almost laughed at Rost's apparent disdain for what she apparently felt was unhealthy food.  Dee wondered just how health conscious she could really be while poisoning herself with nicotine.  "Alright, let's get going then."  She replied as they gathered everything up and started back out of the tunnel and back to the car to make their way to the new location.

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With Frankenbolts at the wheel - and it must be said, he drove to perfection - and a siren blaring, it was barely a minute to Big Bobs Bangers. He buzzed furiously, and Dee was sure she could smell some ozone wafting from his overloaded circuits. The drive was pretty furious and fast. 


Rost pushed back her hair - if she was jostled by the rollercoaster ride, she didn't show it. Much. Instead, she kept on her laptop and clicked the occasional key. It was connected to some small, compact sensor at the back. 


"We still have some residual readings...faint, but there....the bridge isn't completely closed...oh my....there may be another build up..." she said, shrill with anxiety, excitement, or both. 


As the car screeched to a halt outside Big Bobs, Frankbolt sizzled quietly in the drivers seat, whilst Rost stepped out and pushed her glasses back on to her face. 



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"Another build up?"  Dee asked as she glanced over at the readings on Rost's laptop.  The young woman scowled at this thought as they arrived near Big Bob's Bangers. 


Climbing out beside Rost, Dee was suddenly surrounded by a glowing red forcefield of psychic energy.  "Stay out here and keep an eye on those readings.  I am going to go and try to get the everyone out of there and to safety."


Dee then strode forward and into the diner, figuring her costume and red glow would be sure to quickly get some attention.


"Good morning everyone."  She called out loudly as she stepped inside.  "My name is Synapse from the Vanguard.  I am afraid there is something of a disturbance that is centered on this location.  So if I could please have everyone exit the building until my associates and I can determine it is safe to return."

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With a mighty pang of guilt for his deception, Alexander puts a hand on uncle bobs shoulders brow furrowed with guilt tinged worry "I thought i might just have been having a senile moment; I'm sorry to have worried you, I'm a just a might too foolish to admit readily to them is all." he pours a mug of tea from the simple tin pot he'd gotten from his meal and pushes it along with the milk pot and sugar shaker towards Bob "have a brew to gird yerself with." he says as he looks over the back of his chair, giving the shop a quick once over for signs of anyone else in distress over the event. 


"Wonder what it was all about." he muses quietly "you got any capes around these parts that might know what's going on?"


Its almost on cue when the lady in red energy enters and announces herself "see bob, its not either of us, though from the sounds of it we might be needing the baking foil hats anyway."  he huffs amusedly as he waits for people to pile out, politely refusing those whom offer to let him though after them "you'd best be going on ahead of me Govn'r i have a feeling they'll want to talk to you as the owner. I'm going to try and catch up with myself a bit before i head out."

Edited by Exaccus
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It was louder this time, more real, a flash of heat and energy, and a smell. Gunpowder, metal, rock, dust. The explosion was not yet quite material, but it could be felt, heard, smelled. Hairs ruffled and singed, and Big Bobs rootund girth wobbled from the impact. 


And then, a sucking sound, a sucking feeling. 


And then...


And then Bob, Alexander and Dee were somewhere quite different. On a railtrack, to be precise, the sun overhead, hot. Dust in the air, and the twisted remains of a metal track in front of them. The fields were lush around them, with fair mountains in the distance. 


It must be built! came the voice of industry to Alexanders head. It was clearer here, but still enigmatic and vague. Half a voice, hald a sense of urgency, desire. The track, it said, must be built. 


And clearly the explosion had not helped that. 


Ahead, a few hundred metres, some people were running to the explosion. Workers, it seemed, building the track onwards through this hot and pleasant land. 

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Dee was relieved that the restaurant patrons quickly moved to comply with her request to leave.  The young woman stood to one side of the door as people began to exit.  She was just turn to address the two older gentlemen that were bringing up the end of the exit line when suddenly there was a flash of heat and energy accompanied by the loud boom of an explosion.  It was partially real, but also partially ghostlike. 


It was real enough that Dee felt an impact on her forcefield, which she luckily had up.  The glowing red energy protected her from harm, but she was still knocked off her feet by the blast.  Everything became confused for a moment, then she sat up to find herself on the blasted remains of a railroad track out in a the open air surrounded by fields and distant mountains.


Climbing back to her feet and feeling the hot air that was not at all southern England in the winter, she looked over to where the two older gentlemen had been standing, finding one still on his feet and apparently unfazed.  Ignoring the people rushing towards them for the moment, Dee asked, "Are you two alright?"

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Big Bob groaned and sat up. His hair was singed, and his face a patchwork of black soot, grey dust, and angry red flesh. 


"What the hell was that?" he said, eyes glazed slightly as the ringing in his ears spun round his skull. "And where the hell are we?" he said, the cobwebs parting slightly. It didn't take much to realise the three of them were not in Kansas anymore. 


"I'm fine, lady...whoever you are. Take more than a gas explosion to hurt old...ouch!" he yelped as he stood up. It was then he noticed a shard of warped metal protruding from his stomach, bleeding at a brisk pace, into his apron and t shirt. 


He sat down again. 


"Holy bells! I'm skewered!" he moaned. 

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His mouth having just opened to try and whisper to the lady when, true to form he was cut off by another...explosion? this one was much more intense however, he could feel the wave of pressure wash over him and once the dust had cleared he found himself somewhere he'd not left himself, he barely managed to feel bewildered before the urge overtook him again, a mix of his own voice and that of something vaster still pressed at the core of his being.


He was snapped from this dazed state by Uncle bobs Crying out and quickly moves to attend him, face turning slightly pale at the sight of the sliver of metal protruding from his abdomen crouching to the ground without so much as brushing the ash and dust from his shirt. being medical untrained his mind quickly scrambles looking for anything of use to offer or do for the ailing man with little luck. he simply does what he can to comfort him, wrapping one arm around his shoulder. "hold it together old chap, don't want to go agitating it now do we before you can get it seen to by a paramedic." he says having not managed to take much in from his surroundings just yet.

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Dee's attention had been quickly focused on the man in the apron, apparently the owner of Bob's Bangers, quickly noting the shard of metal that was protruding from his stomach with a growing blossom of blood.  The other gentleman was beside the injured man quickly, helping to steady him as the young woman moved forward to examine the injury.


Darn it, where is Jasmine when I need her.  The Englishwoman thought about her teammate, who had at least some level of first aid training.  While Dee did not, she did possess a near perfect memory, and had been looking over medical files with Jasmine that had been recovered in the computer systems of the secret base of the original Vanguard members.  Trying to draw on that, and any other medical article or textbook she might have once glanced at, the young woman knelt down and pulled Bob's hands aside as she examined the wound. 


"Let me get a look at this."  She said, as she looked at the injury, estimating the how much of the shard might be inside him.  What she saw did not look good for him long term, unless they could get him to a hospital where he could get surgery.  "We need something to try to control the bleeding."  She said aloud as she focused on the injured man.  "Sir, you need to try to keep from pushing against the shard.  Right now it is stable, and should not cause any further harm, but you will need to get to a hospital to have this treated properly."

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Big Bob looked pale, the reality of a serious injury hitting him. "Agitating? You try not agitating when you have a piece of shrapnel in your guy!" he said faintly in reply to Ulysses inquiry. It was the shock that did him, a cold sweat on his brow. 


"Yeah, I'll leave it well alone, madam" he said to Dee, somewhat reassured but still afraid. "And a hospital sounds great. I hear they have them doctors and nurses in the hospital..." he said, smiling weakly. 


The cries of the men approaching grew louder. Probably two dozen or so. As they approached, Ulysses and Synapse could make them out - Indian's - or at least most of them. Dressed in white cotton, complete with turbans. Calling out in Hindi. They looked like the rail workers, some carrying light tools - the heavier ones being dropped after the explosion that had wrecked the rail. 


Leading them was the foreman. Englishman, by the looks of it - at least, he dressed like one, and had an excellent bushy moustache in the style of a victorian gent. His skin was dark, however, and his hair jet black. Maybe half Indian by descent. 


"Captain Vikram Singh! Halt in the name of the King!" he said, pulling up his revolver at the three dimension travellers. "What in blazes are you doing here? Another explosion? We will never get this damn track finished? Who are you? The culprits?" he asked with a trace of suspicion but little enthusiasm. It would take some rather silly bombers to hang around in the explosion, and all three had a light coating of dust, earth, and soot. 

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Dee was hardly one to miss the sarcasm in Bob's response to her comment about a hospital, she was often quick to respond in kind.  But in this case, that he was able to make witty comments and manage something of a smile was a positive sign.


The Englishwoman then turned her attention to the approaching crowd of workers.  The sudden change in location had already been an indication that somehow they had been transported somewhere else, but the appearance of the crowd and the foreman that stepped forward made her believe there was far more to it than just a change of location. 


Standing back up slowly as Singh drew a revolver on them, Dee held her hands out in front of her.  "Easy Captain.  We did not cause this explosion.  In fact, we are not completely sure how we got here, as until a moment ago, we were in Dover.  I go by Synapse, or at least I do when I am dressed like this."  She stated, her crisp British accent hard to miss.

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"I do beg your pardon, ma'am!" said Captain Singh as he put away his revolver. "Couldn't be rightly seeing you with all that dust and whatnot. Beggin' your forgiveness, but i do declare I thought you were a man for a moment. We don't get many of the fairer sex on the rails. On accountin of their more fragile disposition, you see" he said, giving her a doff of his captains cap. He was clearly impressed with her demeanour and language. 


He ordered a couple of Indian labourers to waft the dust from her face. 


"Be a damn miracle you survived. We have been trying to build this track to Dehli all last summer, right into spring this year. Keeps getting blown up faster than we can build it. The toffs...beggin' your pardon ma'am...the top brass so to speak, well, they are getting a bit short of the fuse, as the mayor told me. Well, I said, I'll show them a short fuse! we have lost two dozen men and more. Cant get anyone to work here but these poor souls, too desperate and hungry to turn up work if its offered..." he sighed, clearly sad by the whole affair. 

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While Dee smirked slightly at Singh's comment that he had at first mistook her for a man, that slight irritation was quickly pushed aside and replaced by his comment about women being the "fairer sex" and have "fragile dispositions."  Who the bloody hell talks like that/  The Englishwoman thought to herself with a growing feeling that wherever they had ended up, she was not going to like it.


She quickly waived the workers he had tasked with dusting off her face.  "Thank you, but I can dust myself off just fine."  She commented, taking a rag from one of the men to do the task herself.  She bit back any further retort, as for the moment she did not want to anger Singh, particularly as Bob was in need of medical attention.


"We did not come off completely unharmed Captain."  She then stated, standing aside slightly to gesture towards the other two.  "One of the gentlemen with me has been hurt.  For the moment he is in no danger, but he needs to get to a doctor as soon as possible."

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"Let me see..." said Singh, advancing forward and looking at the faint Bob with an inspectors eye. He twirled his moustache in thought. "Yes, I see. Surprising you all got off so lightly, really, a mighty big explosion. Nearest hospital...well, its either 20 miles down that way..." he thumbed back towards the railtrack that had been built. "Or 10 miles that way..." he thumbed were the labourers were building track. "Although I say hospital...this is rural India, Ma'am. The British I have done fine things here, like this track. But the big hospitals are only in the big towns. We have small community hospitals. Hopefully enough for your manservant here...." he said. 


Bob coughed, a dangerous thing with a piece of metal in your midrif. A small leak of blood came out. Still, he didn't regret it, in light of being called a manservant. 


"Devil of a treck either way in  this heat. We could fashion a stretcher of sort, but its a long walk either way. And the quickest route..." he pointed towards the unfinished track. "Well, its probably riddled with bombs!"

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