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July 27, 2014 

HIT Baseball Field  


You might think that a bunch of nerds wouldn't be very good at playing softball - but Hanover Institute of Technology attracts all kinds of students!


This is a special game between HIT's mighty hurlers, the Lady Myrmidons, and their arch-rivals West River Technical College, home of the Fighting Fisherwomen. All proceeds for the game will go to build a Korean War monument halfway between Toms River and Freedom City, a long-neglected memorial to New Jersey's soldiers who fought in the 'forgotten war' from 1950 to 1953. With the game being played on the 61st anniversary of the armistice that marked the end of the Korean War, the bleachers and grassy stretches by the field are packed with veterans, their families, and active-duty personnel from Lonely Point and other nearby facilities.


It's a hot day but the soda is cold and the peanuts are salty, and as the game reaches the end of the ninth inning, it's clear it's going to be a nail-biter: the Myrmidons are at-bat and down by one with two outs, but there are players on the base and Yoder, the stalwart West River hurler who has pitched a nearly perfect game, is starting to flag. Can she hold off a hit as de la Cruz, the towering young woman from the West End with the mighty arm, begins to take the field? Her screaming fans from West River hope so but the hometown crowd, whipped up to a fever pitch by the Lady Myrmidons and their pep squad, have the hometown crowd on their feet and cheering on their champion. This is going to be a real fight. 

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Henry yawned, watching the game from a nice shady spot next to the bleachers. He had never really seen the appeal in baseball, or softball for that matter, he had always found them boring sports, preferring the gridiron as opposed to the diamond, but he had to admit, HIT could put on a show. He appreciated their display on the anniversary of the end of the Korean War and, well, it got him out of the base.


"Come on, Myrmidons!"


He shouted as he went back to his opining, spotting a few people from the base, as well as some old-timers that had recently retired. Henry spied around the bleachers, making out several faces of colleagues and old associates from the base, before sighing and taking a sip from his Coke, soaking in the warm, breezy day, watching the game. Today was a good day, all things considered.


Henry sighed, and sat down on a nearby park bench, his large frame looking comical in the seat. Of course, there were times when he was a little larger than normal...but he was content with being where he was at the moment. And who knew? He might not have to ruin his nice pair of jeans becoming a metallic monstrosity.

Edited by Avorez
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Most folks in the stands were at least a bit sweaty. Certainly not drenched, but it was July, after all.


Then there was that dude up in the back on the left side, sprawled over a couple of chairs (because it was the "nosebleed section") who was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and hiking boots, topped off with sunglasses and a baseball cap (HIT, of course). The guy had the nerve to not only be scarfing down his third hot dog and second bag of popcorn, but not have so much as a single drop of sweat showing up. He seemed to be enjoying himself, though.


Corbin wasn't usually one for baseball, but the mood had struck him, and considering his past experiences, a game to benefit veterans seemed like the perfect opportunity. He was hoping for a Myrmidons win, though he was gonna celebrate with a couple of those Snickers ice cream bars either way. (He loved his body's metabolism sometimes.)


"Knock it outta the park, ladies! You got this one in the bag!"


Admittedly the historical inspiration of HIT's team had tipped the scales on which over-priced hat he bought at the gift shop (extra donation included).

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Look like things are picking up. Warren though as he leaned forward, eyes on the field. He kept his baseball cap pulled down and his eyes hidden behind a pair of old sunglasses just to help hide his face in the crowd. While it was rare for the guitarist to watch or care about sports, it was a nice change of pace from being stuck in the studio writing and recording songs. It certainly helped that the proceeds were going to people that needed it. 


The guitarist leaned back and pushed his sunglasses up. He could have sworn he was slowly getting into what was unfolding, although he could not muster up the same enthusiasm as everyone else. At least all the excitement he was probably gonna see was just going to be confined to the game. He paused as he checked underneath his seat. The familiar black form of his guitar case was still there. You never know. Satisfied that everything was still in place, he took another mouthful of popcorn.

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With a mighty BOOM, Yolanda de la Cruz smashed a towering home run that got the fans on their feet screaming with joy! It was still a close game, with the Fighting Fisherwomen giving no ground, but ultimately when the ninth inning ended the Lady Myrmidons were victorious. The coach had Gatorade poured over her head and Yolanda de la Cruz (who everyone was sure had a sports career of some kind ahead of her, tech student) was lifted off the field by her cheering teammates. It was a good day to be in Freedom City, and the heroes, smart men that they were (and big ones to boot) waited until the big crowd on the field had dispersed before they started making their way to the exits. And just in time they did, too, because as all three men reached the parking lot - they realized there was trouble afoot. 


Red-haired and with a thick, bushy beard, a man in a West River sweatshirt and jeans, oddly overdressed for the weather, had proved to have sinister intentions - as a family of four passed him, he ripped open his sweatshirt to reveal a bomb vest underneath, dynamite strapped to electrical equipment. His hand on the detonator, he ranted as the crowd screamed in terror and ran, "OVERTHROW will not let this monument to oppression and imperialist war stand! Death to the enemies of peace!" 

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Henry grumbled as he strolled into the parking lot kicking around some of the pebbles of chipped away asphault from the parking lot as he meandered about, noticing that there were a couple other large men that he hadn't quite noticed before...then again, he was more than a little surprised that he hadn't before. Both of these guys were massive! One of them was only a little smaller than he was, and he other was, well, to put it politely, a damned sight larger than he was.


He lost himself in a train of thought, wondering how in the hell he had missed these guys beforehand until, of course, the screaming started. Henry snapped to attention and saw the man shouting with, surprise surprise, a bomb strapped to his chest. Henry ducked behind a nearby mini-van, groaning as he felt his muscles and bones come to life, stretching and contorting, as his skin turned to metal, the eight foot tall metal giant with oily black hair and blank eyes towering over the vehicle.


"You know..." Henry began, "For someone who is screaming about this being a monument to imperialist war, and us being enemies of peace, it would seem that you are the only one becoming violent here." Henry snarled, stretching as he made himself limber in his metal form, "The name's Titan. Nice to meet you."


Henry mulled his options for a moment, hopping over the shoddily made foreign mini-van leaving his hand prints deeply imprinted on the roof. He took a boxer's stance, fists up and readied, hunched over and ready to swing, eyes narrowed and zeroed in on the bomber. "What'cha gotta say lumberjack? You even think of pressing that button, and you will know what war is."

Edited by Avorez
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Corbin had finished his food just in time for the end of the game. His trash had gone in the handy nearby receptacle, and he was on his way out.

...Right after this giant line of people slowly, so slowly, moved away. This was a time he wished he'd come in costume or something. But that would have been kind of obnoxious.


Just a couple minutes after that thought crossed his mind, he reached the parking lot as the stadium had mostly emptied.


And was promptly greeted with a sight that was one part terror, one part lumberjack-themed commercial, and one part Hot Fuzz joke. 


"Nazis. Why did it have to be Nazis."


With that timeless quote, he ducked back into a shaded, isolated corner of the stadium's entryway section (which was by now deserted what with all the running away). It took only a moment for a blur of blue and maroon to roar out of the shadows across the parking lot, at speeds that might boggle many minds. 


Of course, it didn't end there. As the blur moved through the air, it actually grew, until just a few feet shy of the mad bomber what bombs at softball games, it resolved into a powerful, robotic-looking form decorated primarily in metallic blue, with strong secondary maroon coloring.


It, he, wasn't far from the bomber now.


"Come on you bushy-bearded coward, you're not dragging anyone but yourself to Hell today!"


Perhaps he meant to all but fall on the bomber and try to absorb the blast?

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Warren tossed his garbage into the trash as we made his way out of the stadium. He was a bit surprised that the last people to leave the stadium were, quite frankly, built like pro wrestlers. While he was pretty tall himself, Warren was a stick next to these two. He pushed it out of his mind and picked up the pace, heading for the parking lot...


And seeing the sight a screaming man with the resemblance to a lumberjack strapped with an ungodly amount of explosives.


Riff quickly ducked behind a nearby car and cracked open his guitar case. He slipped on his coat, gloves and mask before pulling out his Instrument. He launched himself into the air, landed on the roof of a nearby car. Which was the moment he was greeting with the sight of a man made of steel and a giant glowing blue and maroon robot.


"...Well, I was gonna say something witty. But screw it." The Guitar Genius said as he hit the power switch on his instrument and sent forth a shockwave of sound towards the wannabe suicide bomber. He made sure to twist the sound just right to freeze him in place and have either of the Iron Giants grab him. AEGIS will probally want him.

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The crowd screamed and parted, leaving the heroes the only ones in immediate range of the bomber. As Riff's blast hit him, the madman suddenly warped, rippled, and disappeared! Cobalt Templar realized he instead was grappling a slippery fellow in an all-black bodysuit, one who didn't seem at all like the terrorist who had just vanished. For his part, Riff saw someone rise up behind a parked car and turn to run away - a black trenchcoated woman he didn't recognize, but for the moment his attention was on the crisis at hand.


"Gotcha!" the ninja-clad man sneered - and an instant later, they were all gone! A circle of energy had erupted from Cobalt Templar's prisoner and wrapped itself around Cobalt Templar, Titan, and even the distant Riff, transporting all four of them to somewhere else entirely. They were somewhere in a suburban neighborhood like Aston or Grenville, in front of a tumbledown house that was glowing with internal power.


Wriggling his way free, the teleporter laughed, "I just wanted some military fools, but you'll do nicely! You'll never stop us!" he exclaimed before he turned and ran inside the open door of the nearby house. 

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Henry cursed rather audibly, seeing the circle of energy engulf the four of them and then, bam! They were somewhere else. He felt his forehead throb, his metallic skin scrunching into an awkward assortment of shiny ripples and valleys. “Ugh. Why are they always so melodramatic? Can’t they just give up? Now I’ve got a headache and a want to smash that house.â€


Henry watched the slippery little rat scurry away towards the house; he looked around, taking in his surroundings as his headache subsided. “This is…odd.†He said, looking around the strangely suburban setting. “I hate the suburbs. They have a way of making people go crazy.†Henry stretched, his joints making a nice sharp metallic ping as they got limber.


Thus, he looked to the house and sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, “Well, while we’re at it we might as well check things out…†He looked to the giant robot and the comically dressed man with a guitar, “Like I said earlier, the name’s Titan. Pleasure t’meet ya.†He turned and extended his hands, one to Cobalt Templar, the other to Riff, in some sort of folks-y gesture.

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The robotic suit made of energy tilted his head as the teleporting ninja-man ran inside. He straightened up a bit from his crouched stance (he'd been trying to just grab the bomber and toss him up in the air before flying after him, but that obviously hadn't happened). Clearly he wasn't worried.


"Name's Cobalt Templar. Nice to meet you, Titan. As for the suburbs-"


And then suddenly he was back to "normal" size again, clad in the somehow less conspicuous "plate armor" style outfit complete with dramatic cape. He shook the metallic hand of the hero in front of him.


"Pretty sure any place can make you crazy. You're right, though. We can't let these wackos get away with...whatever it is. I can take point, Riff can stay in the middle, Titan can play rearguard. We watch each other's backs, nothing's gonna stop us in there, right guys?"


His optimistic tone indicated he felt it was a settled matter, backed up by the way he just started walking forward toward the house, calm as can be.

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Riff groaned as his blast simply went through the phantasm. "Aw, come on!" In hindsight, crazy person accusing softball of imperialism would have been a tip off that something was wrong. Though that said, the guitarist did not have much time to react to everything happening around him when he found himself in the suburbs feeling a little dazed.


"Teleporting..Not a fan of it." It took him a moment to collect his wits as he tried to work out what had just happened. He took Titans hand and shook it, once again noting how small he was compared to everyone around him. "Names Riff. Nice to meet you." He said with a grin.


"Nice to see you again Templar." Warren said with a nod. "Unless they have some other tricks up their sleeve, I should be able to hear them coming so hopefully no unwanted surprises." Unlike what had just happened, he noted ruefully.

Edited by Darksider42
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There was a terrible electrical whining in the air as they entered the house, which on closer inspection had been nearly completely hollowed out. The heroes burst inside the house, only to find it was hardly a house at all. Stripped of its furnishings and with a hole cut all the way into the rafters, a giant machine towered above their heads, glowing white and red and spilling energies everywhere! They could just make out a small group of four individuals inside a big glass cylinder in the middle of the machine, the focus of its great energies - in their black jumpsuits, the people inside all looked like the teleporter who had escaped them earlier. Alongside, a white-haired, lab-coated fellow with a shock of white hair turned to the assembled heroes and declared "You're! Too! Late!" just before he pulled the switch! With a tremendous flash of light, the world around the heroes seemed to wash away in a brilliant explosion of power, walls, floor, ceiling, and each other lost in a wash of sheer, overwhelming power.


And then they were all in a darkened living room, and it was as if nothing strange had been happening. They stood on an old-fashioned brown shag carpet, just inside a big wooden front door, the faint sound of a television coming from the front room of what was now at least in plan a typical lower-income small bungalow. Inside the living room in front of them they could make out a man fast asleep in an orange and red easy chair, beer bottle fallen from an outstretched hand, while the television droned on about the Genetic Purity League. The occupant of the house was middle-aged and muscular, his grey crewcut and roughened hands making him look like a blue-collar worker catching a much-needed summer nap. Outside lay a small lawn, and what looked like some sort of parade taking place outside. 

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Henry screamed in pain, the effects rippling through his body as he felt the energy from the mysterious machine ripple through him. He couldn’t see the others, though he wasn’t particularly concerned about that. He suffered through the pain, not sure as to why or how he was in so much pain, feeling like he was being ripped apart and remade continuously. He saw his life flash before him and…well; he didn’t really know what to make of it. Memories of a different life, kinda like watching television, but with the faces rubbed out and the volume on mute without the closed captioning.


Then, just like that, it was over. Henry stopped with the screaming once the pain stopped, though he looked more than a bit different. His clothes were singed, and there were parts of his metal skin that looked like they had been burned too, shiny orange-black marks running along him, as well as several parts of his skin being warped, some of the bands of metal looking as though they were melded together. Henry felt some of these spots, the warping feeling more than a bit unnatural.


He looked around the greater area and saw something that looked like it was straight out of the 1970s. He saw the others, and groaned, stretching once more, “So…any ideas as to where we are?†Then he looked to the man asleep on the couch, “And who the hell that is?â€

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"Wait-". He did not get to finish as he shielded his eyes from the light. It offered him little protection as the world seemed to fade away, replaced by something altogether different. He opened his eyes and lowered his arms. Taking a moment to observe his environment, the guitarist quickly came to a conclusion.


"Going from the T.V, the house being redecorated and the parade going on just outside, we seem to be in an alternate version of Freedom City. Not sure if the result is due to dimensional transportation or temporal intervention by the Einstein knockoff and his goons." The guitarist rambled on with a shrug. "We should find them and get things sorted out quickly. We probably don't want to meet those guys." He continued, pointing at the TV.

Edited by Darksider42
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Cobalt Templar just gave a world-weary sigh as a contraption that seemed related to time-travel powered up.


"Here we go again."


And with that, they were whisked away! Or preserved as everything else was whisked! Either way, whisking seemed involved, and not the kind that made brownies.


'I suddenly crave brownies. And ice cream.'


He blinked and looked about the room, its lighting as clear as day to his enhanced vision.


And then Titan and Riff started talking out loud. With a guy in the room. In a world that talked about a "Genetic Purity League". Some part of his brain said this was bad juju, but talking had already happened, unfortunately.


Still, he held up one blue-clad finger to his lips in a "be quiet" gesture, and motioned for them to move to a room further back into the house, away from both the sleeping man and the parade outside.

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Backing up, they found themselves in the personal library of the man who owned the house, whose name was evidently Frederick Dawson. Dawson was evidently both an amateur photographer and the kind of person who leaves books he's reading scattered around dog-leaved and bookmarked; making it easy, over the space of about twenty minutes for the heroes to get a glimpse of where they were. And it wasn't good! Dawson was a Grand Cyclops of the Genetic Purity League, an organization that (from the books left scattered around) seemed to borrow rituals freely from the Boy Scouts, Freemasons, and the Klu Klux Klan - and was obsessed with genetic purity. Graphic illustrated accounts in the rear of the books told stories about "mutant hunts" where "genetic deviants with Communist-given superpowers" were rounded up and sent to internment facilities in Canada. Perhaps unsurprisingly, every picture of a GPL member was a white man. Pinned to the wall by corkboard, Dawson had a letter from his son deployed to the 'Australian Front', a heavy redacted document that spoke of vicious fighting in the desert where "the abos called their phony gods, but we put them down, fast and hard."

Dawson didn't seem to be a history buff, but they did find medals for military service on another wall that spoke of Dawson senior's service in "World War II" fought in France, England, and South America, with frequent badges for "ATOMIC SURVIVOR" inside a hefty chest of paternal decorations. Dawson Senior, a  man visibly suffering from the latter stages of cancer in the pictures they could see on the walls, looked to have been quite the war hero. The last picture they found was one all too familiar - tacked to the corkboard in the kitchen was a newspaper cutout of the day's coupons that just happened to have a picture of "local physicist Leon Litwack teaching his science classes to a new generation of Americans", a man instantly recognizable as the operator of the time machine they'd seen. Litwack was even in the phone book, a resident of a neighborhood that looked to be on the other side of the "William Shockley Institute of Technology", which seemed to have replaced HIT.

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Henry sort of floated about the library at least, as well as a metallic giant can float about a library, and looked outside, spotting a beat down old Ford pick-up truck. “Looks like the parade is ending.†He said, moving over to Dawson’s desk, rummaging through it for a moment before finding the greatest prize of all: A history book! Henry raised an eyebrow and opened the book, “Huh. Copyright McDougal-Littell, 2000…â€


Henry skimmed through the book, looking a little bit bored as he did so, until he finally came to the World War II section. Henry’s eyes widened, and he began to read aloud, “In 1942, the monstrous Soviet Atomic Mutant Dimitri Peshkov overthrew dictator Joseph Stalin, installing himself as the absolute dictator of the Soviet Union. Following this, Peshkov and other Atomic Mutants overran large tracts of Europe and Africa in 1943. The Americans responded with a nuclear bombardment, eliminating Smolensk, Volgograd, and Vladivostok as well as several locations along the African and European fronts.†Henry continued on through the book, coming upon the Cold War, “Since the end of World War II, several conflicts have waged around the world, the Korean Extermination of 1952, the Cuban Engagement of 1962, the Columbo-Venezuelan War, and the Austrailian Pacification, to name a few…â€


The book clamped shut quickly as Henry looked around, “I…Don’t know what to say. Peshkov sounds familiar, but…from what I’ve seen there are no American heroes. Just a fascist government and an endless war.â€

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Cobalt Templar was shaking his head, a deep frown on his face.


"This doesn't make sense. I mean, I've seen a few alternate dimensions where Hitler wasn't a thing. But...I mean, this just doesn't feel right? It's like someone flipped a magic switch or something, yet it all went horribly, terribly wrong. 


I mean, we didn't have nuclear weapons until 1945. How did we bomb multiple sites in Europe in 1943? The sheer number of ripple effects this scenario would need is kind of insane. 


We have to find that guy who ran the weird device from earlier. Find out if this is a time machine aftereffect, or a dimensional shift, or what."


He glanced at the other two men, apparently sizing them up.


"I could rig up something to keep you guys in while I fly us to this guy's house. I can move pretty quick, and neither of you should be a big problem to carry."


That would be more surprising if he hadn't turned into a huge glowing blue robot, but all things considered, him being able to carry Titan wasn't that crazy. 

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"Would have to be time travel after all." Warren concluded. "That many changes requires several alterations rather than one singular one. Plus the early introduction of technologies is usually a sign that someone has been screwing around with time anyway." Theories as to why such changes would be made were starting to form in his mind. But he would not know until they found him and got the world reverted to its original form. Gazing at the board, he ripped off the picture of the scientist that brought them along into this mess. They might need it.


"I can fly on my own. But I'm gonna guess you can get us around faster than me though." Riff said.

Edited by Darksider42
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One supersonic cobalt-blue trip through the sound barrier, the motley crew arrived at the home of Leon Litwack, a shabby, rundown place in what was Ashton in the place they'd left behind. This was a poor, rundown neighborhood, the preWWII slum that had been eventually torn down to make the suburban development they were all more familiar with. From the street names and storefront businesses, all closed against the late hour, this looked to be a Jewish neighborhood - and an unhappy one at that. Leon Litwack's house looked like most any other, a small one-story box-shaped house that looked like it had seen better days. Certainly not the home one would expect of a scientist who could build a machine like the one they had seen before, but who was to say what was true and what was false in this nightmarish mixed-up world? 

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Well here they were. In front of the home of the man responsible for this mess. "I'll check for anything out of the ordinary." Riff said as he closed his eyes. He focused his superhuman hearing as he checked the rather shabby house before them. Lets see....Electricity seems to be flowing. Can't tell if its anything out of the ordinary and...


"Uhh. Guys? I think I hear crying inside. I think its the guy we are after." Suddenly previous theories as to before were starting to change rapidly from completely planned to something a bit more tragic. And possibly idioticHe thought grimly.

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Titan looked around for a moment, checking both sides of the street, eyeing the buildings and shady alleyways before quietly saying, “It would seem that there is nothing going on at the moment…†Slowly, he looked over the house that, he assumed, was the one that they were going to enter, “What kind of mad scientist time traveler decides to take refuge in a run-down old slum? You’d figure he’d steal the Taj Mahal or kill the Queen of England and declare himself King of Clocks.â€


Titan wasn’t exactly the stealthiest fellow, and one could probably hear his feet plodding from some distance away, so he looked to the others, “Well, we could enter…but the last time we did that, we ended up here. It probably isn’t smart to stay on the street, on the other hand, I wouldn’t like to get tossed through time again. That hurt like hell…but I’d rather suffer through that pain than have to fight the Freedom City Police Department because I’m a metallic giant. I vote we go inside."


Then Titan heard what Riff said, "He's crying already? Well that's no fun."

Edited by Avorez
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Inside the house (the door was unlocked), Cobalt Templar found Leon Litwack sitting by himself in a cramped, fallen-down old house crammed almost entirely with old-fashioned electronics and chalkboards covered in frantic scribbles. At Litwack's feet lay a history book with the pages torn in half, a grim account indeed of this fallen world. With his hands on his knees and his face in his hands, Litwack wept piteously, his labcoat far shabbier and his hair much whiter than the last time they'd seen him. He didn't look much like Einstein now, instead more resembling a scientist left homeless on the streets. Whatever had happened, this transition from one world to another had been a disaster for the would-be mad scientist. 

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Both Titan and Riff turned to find that Cobalt Templar was simply not standing there any more. Which was impressive, considering his size and mode of dress. They would probably notice the front door being somewhat open, though.


Inside, he took in the "decor" with a deep frown. This...did not bode well.


Then he came upon the weeping scientist, and pondered his options for a few moments.


Finally he settled for quietly walking up to directly behind the man before speaking, his arms crossed over his chest.


"So what exactly went wrong, Professer Litwack? I get the impression this isn't the present you wanted to make."

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