Rachel in Infinity City: Part 22

“Hey,” I said.

She held up her left arm, looking down at the League communicator on her wrist. It looked just like the ones Nick made for us when we were in costume.

She tapped on the screen, waited, and then said, “It’s her. Thank God.”

Then she pulled a roll of duct tape out of her utility belt, floated down, and taped Julie’s mouth shut.

I laughed. “Duct tape? Did Nick put that in there?”

She froze. “No. I… Wait a second.”

She pulled up the communicator again, and this time she pointed it at me. After tapping the screen she said, “OK, this is going to be weird, but we split off early last summer—your time.”

“My time?”

She shook her head. “That’s the weird part. Sometimes when universes split the timestream speeds up or slows down. Whichever it was, I’m three years older than you.”

I took that in. “Was it a good three years?”

She didn’t answer quickly, and by the time she did, I almost didn’t need the answer.

She looked me in the eye, and said, “Nick’s dead in my world.”

“How?”

She hesitated for a second, and then started talking. “I don’t know all the details. Early in his second semester, he discovered something was going to go wrong in St. Louis. He tried to get a hold of Isaac Lim and local heroes, but he couldn’t get the response he wanted, so he went down himself. He died in an explosion there. No one quite knows what happened, but along with Daniel, and Haley, he saved most of the city.”

“Daniel and Haley?” I asked.

“They died too. It was supposed to be worse,” she said. “They still don’t know who put it in, but they found technology like the kind in St. Louis in major cities all over the world.”

“Hold it,” I said, “does this have something to do with the alternates that fought the League last summer?”

She tilted her head a little. “I don’t know anything about that.”

“You said we split early summer? My mistake. This was mid-summer. Part of the League ran into a crazy version of Nick called War. His whole world had died.”

She frowned. “I don’t know if what we found could have killed everybody, but when Dr. Nation analyzed it he did say they might have killed millions.”

I wanted to ask her more, but it didn’t sound like she knew anything. I don’t know that I had high hopes for what might happen if I ever met myself, but it would have been nice if she knew a little more about something that major. Anyway, even if I’d had a question to ask, I didn’t get the chance.

Grandpa walked around the corner, relaxed in his armor, smiling. I’d never seen him looking that young. He’d been in his seventies in my earliest memories. He even seemed to have a little bit of a swagger.

Well, he did until he saw me. He hesitated so briefly I wondered if I’d imagined it, and then he said, “You look… remarkably like my late wife. She had blond hair, not brown, but except for that you look like she did when we met.” He looked over at Ghostgirl. “She’s from your end of things?”

“Almost exactly,” Ghostgirl said.

Grandpa nodded. “Good. Good.” He looked past me toward Travis, Rod, Samita, and Tara. “They’ll be fine?”

Ghostgirl said, “I’m sure Julie just ordered them to stand still. It’ll wear off.”

He nodded, and looked like he was just about to step back out of the alley. He didn’t though, because that’s the moment Red Lightning choose to walk around the corner.

He smiled widely at everyone. “Great work, all of you,” he said, and then he turned to me. “Did Joe mention just how much you look like his late wife? I’m sure both of you do, but I don’t recall ever seeing you,” he smiled at Ghostgirl, “without a mask. Nonetheless, she was a brave woman. I hope you both got to know her.”

“We did,” I said.

“Wonderful,” he said. “If she’d just lived a few years more, we might have saved her, but alas.”

Grandpa cleared his throat. “Giles, I’d like some help checking on the captives.”

Giles smiled, “Of course.”

They began to turn, but I said, “Rocket, who designed that armor? It looks exactly like something my brother imagined once.”

Grandpa smiled, but it was a very thin and a very, very fake smile, and said, “My grandson. He died recently. The alien invasion.”

While that rolled around in my head, I found a few words, and tried to deliver them smoothly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

He said, “There’s no reason you could. It’s no problem,” He kept the smile on his face as he turned, but I only saw the back of his head as he walked away.

“He’s had a hard year,” Red Lightning glanced after him. “Give us a moment, and we’ll help you get the slaver back to your home universe.”

Ghostgirl nodded. “Take all the time you need.”

He smiled at her, but not a happy smile. “You can’t afford to wait that long,” he said.

14 thoughts on “Rachel in Infinity City: Part 22”

  1. This was surprisingly… weird. So, the Ghostgirl and the old timers are from different realities? I’ll admit that I hadn’t even considered the effect of time shifts on top of alternate universes before, but it sure is enough to give one a headache…

  2. they meet war in “Crossovers: The Omnisphere”
    i thought that it was made to be not part of the real story. but im happy that its going to be part of the timeline. it was realy cool.

  3. It was tentatively non-canon, but was both so well written and so well received that it became tentatively canon, if I recall correctly.

  4. Amaral: It is weird, and intentionally so. I’ve always wanted to tell a few stories set in Infinity City. I came up with the setting separately from this story, but some of the things I intend to write in it someday are weirder than this. I originally intended this as a science fiction setting, and it’s probably way too influenced (at least originally) by watching X-Files and a tabletop role-playing game called “Over the Edge” and thus indirectly by William Burroughs.

    Tieshaunn: It’s a crossover written by Robert Rogers. You can start reading it here: http://inmydaydreams.com/?p=2578

    Rain/Luke: Roger and I agreed that it would be part of the timeline (though I reserve the right to change details if I need to). He was willing to have it not be, but I don’t mind the idea of his story “The Last Skull” affecting mine in some way.

  5. They remind me a little bit of that one team Marvel has had. They have to travel around and help out in other dimensions and they’re made up of heroes and villains from other dimensions. It is an interesting idea even if I’ve never read them. Just could be a very useful take on various characters. Especially in light of City of Heroes ending.

    Should be enough characters left over from that to fill two whole new comic book universes for another 70 years.

  6. I was wondering when and if the crossover was going to come up again- badass! Also it seems like the universe is out to get Nick.

  7. @Phizle It’s because War was right. I mean, really, the guy hit it dead on the head. Nick just plays at being a Superhero. Not only the bit about not killing – which is stupid, he constantly lets mass murderers and other nasty sorts go free rather than kill them, or runs away from the same sort (such as the nine) when he could easily kill them even with just the gear he carries around (primarily the guitar).

    Also, though, he’s not even much of an inventor. He’s not the type to sacrifice his life for the cause, to put his all into heroing and improving his gear. He’s more the type to blow off repairing or upgrading his armour for months in favour of watching movies and eating pizza with his friends or just reading for fun. I mean, it’s been a couple of years now and he’s still running around in THE SAME horribly outdated rocket armour. He’s done, what, added a cell-phone into it? Put in some controls for the roach-bots and done some small upgrades to them? Cobbled together a terrible unsecure comms system for the team using his grandfather’s old work? Hell, he hasn’t even cleaned up the headquarters yet.

    He’s lazy, he doesn’t take the whole hero thing or his responsibility to keep people safe (even if it means killing monsters) seriously, and honestly I’m not even sure he’s any kind of genius. He’s certainly not a ‘super genius’ or posessing any gadgeteer/mad scientist type superpower like his grandfather had to to build power armour in wwii (not to mention to come up with the power system for the Rocket suit, which going by the sketchy descriptions so far is a perpetual motion machine; it uses the ‘wearer’s motions’ to amplify those motions to superhuman strength, there’s not conservation of energy at all).

    Still, even with his limited capabilities, he could have improved the hell out of the suit by now. He’s got the design for super batteries that are apparently astounding even in this universe (according to Rook anyway), so he could add an actual powersource to the rocket suit and make it pretty much the strongest power armour in universe (because it could afford to expend the most energy). For that matter he’s got the reverse engineered specs for alien fusion plants, so maybe he could miniaturize that to power the suit (or perhaps just use it in a rocket mecha for when shit gets real). He’s got the laser, which in combination with the tiny battery in the guitar can apparently cut through battleships (as well as the toughest tough-man type supes presented in universe so far). It stands to reason that hooked into the larger version of that battery he’d use for his suit, or perhaps just larger batteries in a laser rifle that can be exchanged like magazines, that would take out pretty much any enemy in universe. He’s also got the gravity plates he could switch out for his propulsion and force field tech for protection if he could get micro fusion reactors going to power them.

    Essentially, the Rocket could be the most powerful superhero in this universe. However, he’s either too stupid, lazy, or immature to put together all the tech he has at hand, not to mention too much of a moral idiot (and not saying he’s an idiot because he has morals, but that his morals are idiotic and childish and cribbed from superheroes like superman who never have to worry about dying and can take any enemy captive without killing them or expending any real effort, but who still allow millions to die as their fights tear down whole cities instead of just putting the threat down immediately with a bit of laser vision or a nice solid punch), or more likely a combination of all of the above.

    Unfortunately he still ACTS like he’s up to any challenge in the universe without putting forth the effort, so yes the end result is that it looks very much like the universe hates him. Fortunately he’s also the protagonist so he is always saved by blind luck in the end no matter how much he screws up.

    1. I’ve always thought Nick didn’t do as much as he could. As an inventor, he’s mainly working on modifying his grandfather’s inventions… Sometimes. I want to see him make something new, something useful. Where his grandpa used sound, and man-machine used light, Nick needs his own strength.

  8. Okay, way to go TOTALLY deflating my squee at having two Rachels around. >.< So in other realities, Nick died not once but TWICE? Once in St. Louis, and then again in an alien invasion. And a THIRD Nick lost everybody and became crazy War! (I have read the crossover story.) Not only does her brother have the worst luck, this does not set the stage for a nice multi-Rachel chat over coffee about Travis and other gossipy relationship things! … Fine, it makes for good drama, and the time stream thing is interesting. I also found the Red Lightning cameo was cool, yet somehow creepy.

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