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Calcutta, India
1892 AD

"... which is why me and my Associates are very displeased with your policies in the Bengali province, Captain Ayres." The man in the red suit said.

"We are invested in the proper development of the area, and quite frankly, your policies, appart from brutal, are in conflict with our interests." The man in the blue suit added.

"Your objections are noted, gentlemen, I assure you. However, understand that I have to deal with a rebelion here, one incited by Korean spies who would sooner see India burn than have it prosper under Brittish rule. I've always acted on the behalf of the Company's interests, which I was given to understand were YOUR interests as well." Captain Ayres was very upset, but he held on. The men in the suits were hard to deal with, given that they always seemed to be wearing their expressions like a man wears a suit; fittingly, but it was obvious that the clothing was not an actual part of said man.

"And that was why you chose to align yourself with Feng Huan Po?"

"..." That had hit a nerve. Captain Ayres had taken the utmost of precautions to ensure that whatever dealings he had with Feng Huan Po remained under wraps.

"Surely the governor-general isn't very appreciative of your alliance with a follower and representative of the Old Ways."

"Feng Huan is... a necessary concession on our part. He ensures that the Chinese will keep to themselves, while also posing a significant threat to the Koreans from attempting an outright invasion." He tried to explain. The expressions of the two men warped, as they tried to imitate concern.

"He is more dangerous than you realise, Captain. Feng Huan Po moves in circuitous ways, ensuring that his actions largely remain concealed from our eyes."

"It is imperative for our plans that the people of Calcutta, and India in general, enjoy a secure, safe, and prosperous for them enviroment."

"If you fail..."

"... we will have to take action against you. Even if that means..."

"... that the East India Company meets a premature end."

"It is our hope that we have made ourselves clear."

"If you think... IF YOU THINK THAT I WILL CAVE UNDER YOUR HOLLOW THRE-"

"There is NOTHING hollow about our threats, Captain."

"As your superiors no doubt have informed you, the Spanish once tried to dare us into action."

"You ARE aware of the Battle of Gravelines, aren't you?"

"Heed our words, Captain Ayres. You are walking a very thin line as it is."

"Do not cross us."

"..." The Captain remained further silent, as the two men took their leave. Their warning was clear as a day. However, the Captain remained undeterred in his resolve to proceed with his plans. "If the East India Company is the sacrifice needed to ensure 'our' future... then so be it." He silently mouthed. He knew that forcing the two men into action was tantamount to challenging god's wrath. So that was why...


Present Day, Freedom City
Tuesday, June 16th, 2015
Midday, 14:35

The tears closed as soon as they opened, and everything they enveloped vanished completely. Sometimes, other random stuff would emerge from those energy swirls. Not only where they fast, the tears appeared at random places, from the City's center to Parkside, from there to Hannover, then the Great Bay, Lincoln, Riverside, Ashton, and Southside. The tears would continuously open and close in each of these areas for approximately an hour, before moving on to another place. This had been going for the better part of the last day, with reports of similar phenomena accross the country. The superhero community were as stumped as the scientific one, about what was going on, much less its cause. Thankfully enough, though, the tears didn't seem to affect humans, so barring a few indirect injuries caused by the odd falling piano, there was very little cause for panic.

The news made sure to keep updates of this peculiar phenomenon, keeping the citizens informed of the tears' current emergence location. Last sighted, they'd appeared in Kingston, while for the last 10 minutes, they seemed to start appearing over at West End.

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Arnasaq had been rather disappointed to learn of the excitement that transpired after there last little visit to freedom city and much to his bemusement he found himself taking her there on various excursions to the Mecca for meta-humans curtsy of a conspicuously quiet Aldonite and whilst it was true that he found himself a little exhausted by the exertion it was never enough to ruin his day out with Arna, taking breaks now and again to intervine in the occasional street crime, that such was still a thing in the city where so many powerful human and meta-human heroes lived was something of a mystery to him.

Today he had bigger problems it would seem, finding himself ripped from his coffee by the sudden appearance of portals eerily similar to his own parting the the very air itself and swallowing up or on occasion spitting things out.

"Stay behind me." he bellows in his faux knightly tone and accent, more to Arna than the other patrons of the quiet little coffee shop, as Aldonite shimmers into being clenched in his left gauntlet 

"T'would seem things are about to get Exciting."

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Miras wasn't usually seen in Kingston. The upper-class suburb wasn't the sort of place she felt at home at, and she didn't usually find her cases taking her there. Today, though, she was running all over town trying to figure out the what and the why behind these weird portals. Right now she was standing in front of one that had blocked all five lanes of Austin. The police barricade kept civilians a good fifty feet away while the magus paced around and around the hole in the world.

She had seen Daedalus and Miss Americana and other technology heroes scanning and examining the portals around town, and she hoped that they would have an answer for it all, but if they didn't she had her own angle to try. She stood upwind of the portal, holding a piece of loose paper; it fluttered in the wind and Miras gauged the flight path carefully. At once she released the paper and shifted into slow-time. The entire street with the fluttering paper and worried police and craning, inquisitive civilians all froze, and she got a chance to watch the paper creeeeeeeeeep towards the portal.

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Siobhan Drake sighed as she gazed mournfully at the half-full plastic beaker. She'd only just bought this coffee. And now rifts? Really? It had been an awful meeting, and she'd rewarded herself with coffee, and, and...

"Everybody stand back from the rift!" she boomed in a resonant voice, striding out onto the road towards it. In a flash of light, her clothes morphed into a long-trailing coat and tunic, her hair darkening as light burst forth from her eyes. She drew forth a wand from within her robes as she walked to stand in front of the hole in the world. 

"Well, let's hope nothing comes out." She extended her mage's senses towards the hole, seeking to find rhyme or reason to the phenomenon.

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Silberman's Books

The week was not off to a good start; Lynn had really been looking forward to her first birthday back on Earth among family and friends, but as always Freedom put the special in 'special events'. On Monday, she'd watched the news coverage like everyone else, and guiltily told herself the Leagues could take care of it.

But now it was Tuesday, and these so-called 'tears' were still appearing, and worse, they were in her own neighborhood. Damn it.

Lance came running back into the store from lunch, his eyes wide with excitement. "There's one out in the street! "

Gretchen looked up from the register, her face clouded with concern. "You sure?"

The big barista nodded as he leaned forward and tried to catch his breath. "Big ol' tear in the world? Yeah, pretty sure!"

Lynn's assistant came scurrying around from behind the bar and rapidly knocked on her door. "You hearing this, boss?"

"Yeah; door's open."

Inside, the changeling was seated at her desk, watching streaming coverage on her PC as she sipped her coffee. Gretchen sat on the edge of her desk, nervously twisting the silver ring on her left hand.

"Don't do that the wrong way."

"I know, I know."

The remaining customers quickly finished their coffees and headed outside, either to look at the tear or head home to their loved ones; the residents of Freedom were old hands at emergency preparedness. With no one left to serve, Lance soon joined the others in the owner's office, followed by Kiki from the back room. Crowded around the monitor, no one said a word; their local tear was too recent to show up, but there plenty of other images from around the city to stare at with mute dread.

"I have to check it out."

"You? Don't you mean 'we'?"

Lynn sighed and shook her head. "Not yet; not this one."

Her assistant folded her arms and moved into her boss's space."Why the hell not? You said yourself, the only way I can learn is to do."

Kiki gently reached out and laid a hand on her shoulder. "Gretch, I think what Lynn's saying is-"

The snarky musician shook off her arm with an angry shrug. "No, I want to hear her say it; why not this one?"

Lynn sighed and gave her young protege her undivided attention. "This looks like some transdimensional s###, or worse, a time bridge; you don't f### around with that stuff when you're just starting out."

"So what you're saying is I'm incompetent."

"No, what I'm saying is someone needs to protect this store in case something happens to me; you've seen the crazy stuff that comes through that front door!" She waved at her other two employees. "Who's gonna protect these guys if I'm not here? The last time I dealt with something like this, I was gone for three years; I'm not going to trust this store or anyone in it to chance."

That actually stunned Gretchen into several seconds of flustered silence. "You...you think-?"

"I do. Now if you'll excuse me, Grimalkin is needed outside."

- - -

Soon a familiar tiny figure appeared in the sky, flitting about like a hummingbird; the faerie shapeshifter alighted on the ground near the tear, then resumed her normal size. Two police cruisers was parked nearby, and the officers were doing their best to keep the small gathered crowd away from the mysterious portal.

"Hey there, Grimmie," one of the cops called out as she strode up to them; despite her somewhat shady past, she usually got along alright with law enforcement. 

"What's the word, boys?"

"Our orders are to keep people back, but I know what you capes are like, so-" He gestured towards the rift. "Knock yerself out!"

"Yeah...we're really not much for common sense as a rule."

The cops laughed as she took a step closer...

Edited by Heritage

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Miras stood in front of the portal, hands on her hips, feeling mightily annoyed and just a bit curious. The paper had disappeared all at once; she had watched it at several hundred times the speed that anyone else in the crowd could perceive, and she had to admit that as soon as the sheet of paper had touched the portal, the whole thing was sucked through in a blink. She was just considering maybe holding onto the paper this time when the short woman with the pointed ears stepped into the circle of police cars. Miras gave the other woman a wave, backlit by the glowing portal. "I don't suppose you've got a long stick on you, by chance?" she asked. "Or maybe a reeeeeeeeally long tape measure."

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At the sight of Miras, Grim smiled and waved back, looking visibly relieved. 

"Ah, thank goodness, a mysterious hooded figure; now we can get some answers! Name's Grimalkin, by the way."

In response to the young mage's question, the changeling looked thoughtful.

"Hmm, portal exploration, eh? Let's see what I have in my handy haversack..."

She mimed like she was reaching into a large satchel, then produced two objects out of thin air, one long and thin, the other in a loose coil. Both visibly trailed thin streams of vapor for a few seconds.

"How about a ten foot bamboo pole and fifty feet of silk rope? No adventurer should leave home without them!" 

The fae waved the rope and grinned. 

"I knotted it at one foot intervals to aid with climb checks!"

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San Diego, CA
Del Mar Beach

Giang Trang was crouched on a thick jet of water which flew through the air over the Pacific Ocean.    The Asian young woman was wearing the costume she wore as Tsunami, a full body suit of morphic molecules covered in several shades of blue in a pattern that seemed to flow and shimmer like water.  The effect was amplified by the thin sheen of protective water which flowed over her body. 

Down below people in the water and on the beach looked up, noting the heroine's passage.  Although Giang had been operating as Tsunami here for close to a year, she was still a rare enough sight that it attracted a fair bit of attention. 

The beach was a familiar place for Giang, where she worked as a lifeguard.  Today was supposed to have been her day off, and she had been planning to take care of some things in preparation for the arrival of several of her friends in a few weeks.  But then there had been reports of unusual rifts appearing in the area, with one here at Del Mar Beach. 

The spot where the rift was on the beach was not too difficult to spot, a small clear space of sand, with a ring of people forming around it.   

Giang veered her water spout over toward the clearing, and a few moments later hopped gracefully off the spout to land near the tear in space. 

"Please move back."  She stated in a calm but authoritative tone.  "This could prove to be unstable, or a door to somewhere else."  She added, moving a bit closer toward the tear to examine it more.

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Miras took the rope from Grimalkin, coiling it through her hands. Her fingers tingled with the feeling of cool, clammy air, and for a moment she smelled green growing things and undergrowth. The moment passed, though, and she just gave the other hero a sideways look. “I hope no one’s going to be climbing out of the portal,” she said, “but just in case we should be prepared.” She stepped close to the portal, holding the end of the rope in one hand and swinging the other around lazily. She tossed the free end towards the portal and took a firm grip on the coiled end of the rope.

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GM Post

San Diego, CA

At Tsunami's insistence, the people were quick to take safe distance. Still, a woman bearing a professional camera persisted, as she kept intently taking photos of the tears. A boat, still sailing in the beach, was speeding rapidly towards the closest port that it could find, only for three tears to open up; two tears started swallowing large quantities of water nearby the boat's route at a super fast rate, creating a whirlpool effect and causing big waves to form, while the third tear released what appeared to be a very slick car with nothing for wheels, letting it drop towards the photographer. And as all that happened, a peculiar energy started traverse the sand, 50ft away, its movement feeling reminiscent to as if someone was writting on the sand with a stick.


Freedom City

As soon as Miras tossed the one end of the rope towards the tear, it immediately started sucking the rope, as if it were pasta. Despite Miras' grip, the tear overwhelmed her handle on the rope, which burned her hand as it swiftly disappeared inside the portal. 5 seconds later, the tear closed, leaving no sign of the rope behind, only for another few tears to open up nearby.

From one of them, sprang three strong horses clad in steel armor and bearing colorful banners. The beasts stampeded towards Black Knight, who was keeping six civilians behind him. As soon as they saw the rampaging mammals come their way, one of the civilians, a mother, grabbed her two sons and broke for a ran towards the opposite direction, while the other three remained paralyzed from fear. Unfortunately, however, in her haste to avoid the horses, she did not notice where she was going, and she was about to find herself and her kids in the middle of the road nearby, with several cars driving fast by.

And while this was going on, 100ft away from Miras and Grimalkin, and 30ft away from Black Knight, Equinox was finding herself having to deal with a nasty surprise from the tear she was examining.

 

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Miras let the rope uncoil, but when it began to burn her hands she dropped it and stepped back. She had half-expected a reaction like that, and had no desire to be pulled into wherever the portal was going. She eyed the new tears, snorting with irritation. "Okay," she said over her shoulder to Grimalkin, still facing the nearest tear. "Why don't you hand over the pole?"

Before the magus could try whatever her new plan was, though, three armored chargers leapt out of one of the portals and started charging a group of civillians! Miras raced over as fast as her legs could carry her, gathering the power of mists and fog in her hands as she went. "Almwqd walbyt, alhzyrة walsh‘yr!" she shouted as she moved, casting her power out onto the animals. "Be calm and be at peace, before you crush someone!"

She cast her illusion over the chargers and tried to imagine a situation that horses would find calming. She wove images of a barn around them and injected the smells of fresh hay and oats, of clean water, of warmth and safety.

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<Ah, Cheese and crackers...> Jonathan bemoans silently to himself as he watches the panicked mother rush into head long traffic even as his arm raises his sword and pokes open a hole of swirling darkness in the very air itself  linking the space before him to the place he predicted the panicked woman would run and whisking her out of the path of the oncoming vehicle without a moment to spare. turning on his spot to put his back between the charging horse and the civilians behind him.

"Thy concern for thine children is noble and genuine beyond reproach and it is of my ken why thou might not put much stock in mine word but prithee, believe me when I give mine word that no harm shall befall thee whilst The Black Knight yet stands." he says as diplomatic as possible even as the sound of approaching hooves thunders behind him, tightening his grip on Aldonite as he braces himself for what may follow.

Edited by Exaccus

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Grim nodded sagely as the rope was swiftly yanked through the hooded woman's hands and the portal snapped shut; she stepped over to her, holding out the pole for her to grab. "Yeah, had a bad feeling that was gonna happen. You want some topical ointment for that? I could probably whip up some-" But then the horses appeared out of nowhere and everything was bad. "Holy crap!" Grim tossed the pole at Miras's feet as the half-djinn began her incantations. "Here ya go!"

Wow, impressive! I'm thinking probably illusions - yep, that horse ain't buyin' it and he ain't slowing down!

In a flash, the changeling resumed her pixie shape and zoomed over towards the panicked beast; as soon as she was directly over its saddle, she once again became full size, dropping down onto hard leather and having a bit of wind knocked out of her. "Oof!" Using the skills she picked up back on Otherworld, where she and her late husband raised horses for many years, she did her best to bring the frightened beast under control. "Alright, alright, easy now, easy!"

Edited by Heritage

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Giang probably should have felt annoyed when the female photographer ignored her request to move away from the rift.  But she knew well enough that there were those who put regularly put their lives at risk as part of their livelihood, although some might question the logic of that in the case of someone just wanting to have close up pictures of an incident. 

Whatever the case, sure enough, the photographer was soon in danger, as a rather unusual car started falling down from a rift that opened up above the woman.  At the same time, a speedboat out on the water was being threatened by a whirlpool that was formed by two other rifts. 

With a quick gesture, Giang pulled water out of the surf, moving it quickly to form a dome between the photographer and the falling car.  Once in place, the water took a solid appearance, ready to shield the woman and divert the heavy object. 

Meanwhile, Giang jumped back up on a new water spout that had moved up beside her, which then quickly carried her out over the water to the distressed speedboat.

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Siobhan clamped her hands over her ears, psychic static bursting across her temples. As soon as she'd tried to probe at the tear, something had hit her. It couldn't have been magical, or it wouldn't have overwhelmed her senses so quickly, but that was all she really had time to thing before her head was full of the sensation, crawling across her brain like nails scratched down a chalkboard over and over and over again.

And now she was aware of it, she couldn't 'look away'. Siobhan gritted her teeth. Knights were rampaging down the street on horseback, she was aware of that, but only dimly through the mental fuzz. "Nnnnnnnnnngh." A groan escaped through gritted teeth as she applied her will and focus to her brain, blocking out the tear from her sixth senses. She didn't hurry, as rushing wouldn't speed up the process. She just slowly, but surely, pushed the sensation away from her mind, until she was only aware of it being in the street through the other five senses.

"Dammit," she sighed, breathing heavily and turning back down the street, reaching for her wand. She called out to the heroes wresting with the commotion. "If you've got sixth senses, don't look into the tears with them," she called. "It just nearly took me down!" Siobhan reached to wipe a sheen of sweat from her brow.

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Despite all her talk about being 'a real cowgirl' back on Otherworld, the simple fact was that Bill really ran all things horsey back on the ranch; sure, Lynn looked damned good in the saddle and could manage a few tricks, but it was her late husband the hands always turned to for dealing with a difficult thoroughbred. So while she was finally able to jerk the reins and steer the horse clear, it wasn't like the creature had suddenly warmed to her. Still, a horse careening away from innocent civilians was a good thing...unless you slammed into a tree.

At that very moment, Gretchen's familiar mental voice burst through her intense concentration.

- Boss, what's going on out there? Do you need any backup? -

- Can't talk, on a runaway horse! -

- On a what? Where the hell are you? -

- Bye for now! -

 She was going about this all wrong; she wasn't a cowgirl, but she was a faerie princess, which still made her dad laugh his keister off. Leaning forward in the saddle, she began to call out to the horse, her voice taking on an eerie, sing-song quality. "Easy, my sweet one...rest now..." Now finally in control, she turned the horse around and began to ride towards yet another mysterious woman; seemed these tears were really bringing out the mystical ladies! She called out to the woman with black hair and shining eyes.

"Greetings! The name's Grimalkin, Mistress of Mystery." She conjured a dark blue musketeer hat with a plume and bowed low in the saddle, then took in all the capes now in the area with a sweep of her arm and shrugged. "Maybe we should all pool our efforts and resources to figure out what the hell these tear things are?"

Edited by Heritage

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Having been bracing for what he expected to be a fairly painful impact, he's pleasantly surprised when it doesn't come, no ear-splitting whinny of terror, no clang of horseshoes on magic armour and to boot he'd been stoicly standing between the civilians and danger, it was almost going too well.

"T'would be wise to make your move now, Good folk,  whilst the way is clear of apparent dangers." he says indicating the police barricade a little ways off with his none sword arm, he'd learned that waving aldonite around generally made people feel intimidated the hard way only a few weeks ago when the police had arrived to arrest "the guy in black with the big knife." 

Back-pedalling a little bit so he could keep his eye on the group till he felt they'd made it home free he turns and walks full stride towards the two ladies standing near the portal.

"Well met grimalkin, I am as my armour betrays, The black knight." giving a slight incline of his head, knowing full well that arna wouldn't appreciate him giving the full bow and Milady treatment to another nor how well it would be received he opts for the old standby of polite and to the point even as he examines the heraldry of the steed she sits upon.

<Really need to get myself a horse some how...Arna'd love that....and it'd be pretty hardcore.>

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Miras breathed out slowly as she approached the horses in their illusory barn. Each of them had already chosen a 'stall' and one was even now trying to bend its head down and chomp on the 'hay' just in front of it. The mage quickly scanned the crowd and motioned a pair of beat cops to take the far animal; she stepped up to the nearby horse and did her best to sooth it, patting the side of its neck and stroking its mane, racking her brain to remember what the heck you were even supposed to do with horses. As she soothed the animal she stretched out her magical senses, trying to get a feel for the creature. These breaches seemed magical in nature, so she expected some of it to be hanging on them, but if they were created by the tears themselves or had long-term enchantments laid on them that would feel differently.

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