2008-05-30: Final Wonder


Ando_icon.gif Frack_icon.gif Rochelle_icon.gif Sam_icon.gif

Summary: Ando and Rochelle end up in a situation where they could consider themselves reverse Dorothy'd. Welcome to Kansas. They uncover a little heard of myth about a Final Wonder.

Date It Happened: May 30, 2008

Final Wonder

Sam's Comics

Something went terribly wrong. The entire world seems to twist and turn, and suddenly two people find themselves deposited on cold hard floor. There's the smell of cardboard and paper and plastic from all directions, a very familiar smell, especially to one of them. As vision and clarity returns, a pair of shoes can be seen nearby, light steps carrying someone. "Hey— we're not open yet. How did you get in here?"

The man speaking stands at the end of an aisle surrounded by stacks of white cardboard with words scribbled on them. Rows and rows of books wrapped in plastic with cardboard backing. Titles listed in alphabetical order.

The man's hair is thick and red, with full beard and mustache, a t-shirt reads Sam's Comics right on the front. "And what are you doing on our floor. Do I have to call the cops?"

Lights! Bright ones. In her eyes. Rochelle puts up a forearm just as a voice reaches her ears. Floor? Is that what it is? Cops? Uhoh. The word is practically a cue, and Rochelle sits up as if someone put a spring under her back. And just as soon as she sits up, both hands lift to clutch painfully at her ears. Her head sounds like it is flooding with a mechanical, hissing whirr. Perhaps a result of the long, stretched twist in time, or perhaps simply because she sat up like a jack-in-the-box.

"No cops." Her voice is almost low enough to be a growl, and it takes a moment for her to open her eyes properly and look around. I don't know you! A puzzled look is given to the man working at …a comic store. Where's Ando? There he is!

Once she spots him, Rochelle gives Ando a sudden and rough shake. Be with you in a moment, comic dude.

What is— ? What? Ando is very confused and very disoriented, and just when he's coming to grips with everything, he's very shaken. No, literally. "GURLK!" he says with a small flail.

Where is Hiro? Either he's in another aisle, or he didn't land in the same place (or time). Same with the doctor they'd kidnapped. All things in time, though… in time…

"You're not supposed to— were you sleeping in here?" the man balks, looking at the large muscular woman without the right kind of intimidated look that someone of his general stature should have. He's not a tall man. "You came in first, how did you not notice these two?"

Another head peaks out of the back room, looking in, blinking in confusion for a moment before he says, "They weren't there when I came— wait…" He squints, looks between the two of them. "…Wow," he suddenly says, before he runs back into the back room.

"You better be calling the cops!"

"Sam, it's them!"

"Did you hire… new people without asking me? We don't need any new employees!"

"We've lost our ride." If there was one thing Rochelle noticed right away, it was the lack of Hiro. Whether or not Ando is entirely with it, Rochelle stands up out of her crouch with one of his arms hooked over her hand. Up! Not forceful, but all the same a bit of manhandling.

And now she does regard the two- where'd the other one come from?- employees in the room. "We're not… new. Or squatters. Sorry." Apologizing is really only the thing coming to mind.

It's them? It's who? Ando blinks as he's pulled up. Uh. Something isn't right. "Very sorry," he says with a bow to the other man. "We are … inspecting." Yeah, it sounds as lame as it reads.

"We're not due for an inspection in another few months, and one of us should be here when you do it," the shorter of the two protests stubbornly, looking skeptical at them.

"No, no, Sam," the other one comes from the front, smiling widely and looking excited as he holds up a comic book that he flips open, "See, right here— it's them. And they're here. I told you it looked like our comic book store."

The red head pulls the comic away and closes it, shaking his head. "This is that fancomic I bought at a convention. These guys are probably part of it, playing into it. There's probably cameras set up— you're in on this, aren't you? This is a prank for the convention in August, isn't it. I'm not falling for it."

The comic book has a style very similar to one they're familiar with, but the title… The Final Wonder.

Rochelle peers down at Ando when he answers. Inspection? Fft. She cannot help but steal a look at the book that the fetching guy brings back. Her eyes widen little by little and follow its route from hand to hand. "We're not actors. Accidental trespassers, maybe. …Is that- Is that comic by Isaac Mendez?" A sudden question comes as the tall woman steps forward. Attention grabbing, yes. Rochelle looks to be quite intent on stopping their bickering so she can figure out what just happened. On a mission.

Ando also notices the book, and his eyes go wide. He's not nearly as polite: he steps forward with the intent of grabbing the comic from the red-head's hands, murmuring an "excuse me" as a vague afterthought. If he succeeds in getting the book, he'll begin flipping through it.

"No, it's by a guy— hey!" The red head calls out when Ando snatches the comic book away. The first page shows them, Shannon and Hiro in Pinehearst, trying to break into the computer. The things they collected there did come with them, laying on the floor nearby. A few flips later, they're on board the Starship Enterprise. A few flips later they're walking through a museam— and finally… Africa.

The drawing is slightly different than Isaac's, but carries a similar feel. Hiro's laying down near rocks, as a rabbit looks on. The adventure carries on for a few pages, until he meets a guide, tall, carrying a stick, and the doctor, Shannon Goode, as well…

Meanwhile: In the US.

Rochelle and Ando in a comic book store.

"I still think IMF is a girl," says the other man, the one not named Sam.

"IMF is just a fan, who decided to continue the story after Isaac Mendez died and the issues ran out."

Rochelle stands with Ando as he flips through the comic, peering past his hands. "That's…" It is obvious what that is.

She lifts her eyes to the duo nearby, pausing and considering. Hell, what else can go wrong. "We were both in Mendez's Ninth Wonders series too. It's how I got in this mess, at least.- Ando, does it say where they landed over there?" There's usually a little box to that effect, right? "…What's up with that hare?"

As Ando flips through the pages, his eyes just get wider. Isaac Mendez is dead, this isn't his work. But it's very similar. Rochelle's question pulls him out of his reverie and he quickly turns to the page that shows Hiro. "Botswana, Africa," he tells her. "Maybe he could not take all four of us with him."

… oh, wait, there are still people here who don't have a clue what is going on. He looks at Sam and the other guy, holding up the comic book. "Do you know where this … IMF is?"

"I'm not buying any of this," Sam says, looking from the fellow employee, to the two people who might as well have hoped out of the comic.

The other employee reaches forward to make Ando flip another page or two, "Look, you said that same line right here on the page! It even knows what we're going to say." There's a skeptical look painted across the bearded one's face, even then. It might take a lot more to convince him— two bad the people in the room happen to have either no power, or cause no powers…

"Next thing you're going to tell me is that Claire Bennet and Hiro Nakamura and all of the people in 9th Wonders actually exist," he rolls his eyes. "Or that the Senator in New York that Flying Man was based off of really can fly." No believe. There's a hesitant pause, before he looks back, "Now I don't believe you guys— but I heard from this dude, who heard from this other dude who goes to the New York Comic Con… That before he died— the day before he died… Isaac Mendez bequeathed his sketchbook to a lowly bike messanger. Apparently— according to the legend… one of the pages in the sketchbook showed a hand drawing a new comic panel— and that new comic panel was signed IMF. IMF showed up on the internet a few months after he died… selling independant fancomics on ebay. Some of them ended up in conventions. I managed to snag this one for fifty bucks… But some people think… that IMF is Isaac Mendez's sucessor." There's a pause, before he adds, "Except no one knows who he is— "

"She! It could be a girl!"

"…who it is."

Rochelle simply waits til the two are finished before saying a word. "Hate to break it to you without ceremony." But it's true. "We're here because Hiro musta dropped us on the way. I wonder if the pages will blank out if I turn it back on…" And with that, Rochelle flicks that mental switch of her field, and steps forward to peer out into the room from where Thing #2 had come from. Investigating skillz. She has them.

Ando opens his mouth, closes it, then finally retorts, "It is true." Then he reaches for his cell phone. Maybe he can call Hiro. Maybe. He dials and waits. "Nobody knows?" His brainthings are spinning. "IMF still sells the comics on eBay?"

"What— the page does have a blank— " the one with spikier hair reaches for the comic again, turning the page, and low and behind, the big muscular woman says that line— and then the next panel is incomplete. It's a large interior view, with a big circular hole in it, like the paint and ink all ran out.

"…It just means she knows about the— what do you mean it's true?"

The other one is smiling a little too much, even flipping ahead. "That's what she does, Sam. She negates people, it was talked about in one of the other comics— the one you found scans of."

Looking perterbed, but quiet, he finally says, "Okay. IMF still occassionally shows up on eBay— but… there's a website, a forum. For 9th Wonders fans. They have a whole section on him… or her."

Rochelle whirls around on a heel when the two divulge her power in the conversation, stalking back and seeming much like a confused bull in a Very Small Pen. "Exactly." And down it goes again, her presence popping back onto the page. "How many did this person make? D'you have scans of them?" Forget E-Bay, pirates are where it's at.

He's not so much looking for the extra comics as he is the comic artist. Ando keeps his phone to his ear, hoping for Hiro to pick up. Did he drop his cell, too? The answer Rochelle's question is of interest to him, however, and it awaits it expectantly.

More likely there's no reception where he happens to be. He IS in Africa according to the comic…

"Are you trying to call Hiro?" the one with the comic asks, flipping back a few more pages. "I don't think you'll get him… If he's in Africa they probably don't have reception. Unless he went with Sprint." Did he go with Sprint?

"I don't condone piracy. People should buy the comics! Though it is a fan comic, so that barely counts."

"I have a few on a flashdrive," the other one says, not seeming to share the same view with piracy. "I don't know how many there were, but we found three total, they go for really high prices on eBay, though. I think IMF only made a dozen copies of each one."

"I think they must go to the New York Comic-Con. Most of the comics that are circulating showed up after the last one."
Rochelle waits to see if Ando miraculously gets some reception- he does not. "Ando-" She starts, pausing to look at the two comic geeks for a second, then back to Ando her attention goes. "Who do you think we should look for first?" Hiro or IMF? If they got sent here- maybe it means they should look for this artist- but then again, what if Hiro gets in trouble out there with the doctor, a rabbit, and a dude that reminds Rochelle of Rafiki? (Hey, anything could happen.)

"Oh. Right. You two." The big woman points, not quite agitated, but frustrated enough to seem s bit more intimidating. "Where the hell is this?" Gotta find out where they are, first. Oops!

Ando frowns. No answer. No reception. No Sprint? He hangs up the cell. What do they do next? He doesn't know. Getting to Africa without Hiro in order to save Hiro doesn't seem like a very plausible idea. They wouldn't know the first place to look. Africa is big. So is Botswana. "We will find IMF," he replies. "Maybe he will know what we should do next." Then, when Rochelle asks her question, he points at Sam's shirt. "Sam's Comic Shop." Helpful Ando is helpful!

"Lawrence, Kansas," the not-Sam answers, speaking up immediately, though he can't help but look intimidated by her size.

Funny, cause Sam doesn't seem to carry the same worries. His jaw tightens, lips setting, and he stands up to his full height— which is not much over five foot. "And if you damaged my Final Wonder original, you're going to be paying for it," he says, stubbornly, reaching to take back his comic finally, checking it over for tears. It's a little wrinkled from all the handling, but not torn.

"If you're— looking for IMF… New York Comic Con was only a couple months ago. You might be able to find some people who went that remember if the person had a table— and if not there's always San Diego. Sam and I have a booth there— we're helping out our brother store over in Costa Verde… If this person goes to conventions— that one's even bigger than NYCC."

"How the hell did we get to Kansas. This trip is like some backwards journey to Oz." Rochelle rubs at her nose, fingers moving to her forehead. "When is the San Diego convention?"

Toto, I think we are in Kansas anymore. "Maybe Hiro's powers could not take us all to Africa," Ando offers again. "He must have been tired or unfocused." And then he waits for the all-important answer to the all-important question.

"His nose was bleeding when he ended up in Africa," the unnamed employee answers helpfully, pointing at the comic that Sam holds protectively. "And the doctor you kidnapped seems to have been there a week ahead of him— I wonder what date it is there…"

The calander up on the wall shows May, when last they knew it should be APRIL, and there's a lot more Xs through squares than their should be. If they look closely… they may have just lost a month jumping around like they've been.

"San Diego CC is in July. The 24th through 27th," Sam answers, still narrowing his eyes at them. "If you are— not that I believe you— but if you are Knight and Ando…" He glances over at his friend, before moving away to the counter, moving behind it and shuffling through something. A drawer opens. "There was a preview released on the forums. I printed it out— It showed you…" He points at the heavily muscled girl… "Helping a guy with a cane— and a limp. And kind of a beard like mine… He has a gun. I don't know when this is happening or what you're doing… But here. If this… is real… I have a copy at home anyway."

The other one moves over and grabs a card. "And here, take our card!"

Rochelle only notices the calendar once dates begin to float around. There's a wash of nervousness about several things- personal things- but nothing is verbalized. Instead, she pays attention to what was said, and what is being said. "He was bleeding?" She asks quietly, a rhetorical moment. She heard it the first time.

Rochelle moves closer as the bearded one begins shuffling through a drawer. "Doesn't sound familiar…" And she waits to see the print, interest being worn on her sleeve.

Bleeding? That doesn't sound good. Ando frowns, concerned. If Hiro overexerted himself and caused damage, that would be Very Bad. He takes the card and pockets it, then glances over at the print as well, curiously.

The print out definitely seems to show a large woman of her own stature… and a man who is a little shorter than her. Dark hair. Nice clothes. A cane. And a scruffy beard. He doesn't look like anyone she recognizes or has seen before, but she's standing behind him, intimidating. Strong. Supportive. The hand not holding a cane has a short shotgun— possibly sawed off even, and it's pointed up towards the viewer.

"And let me get you the flashdrive— I have most of it on my computer at home…" the taller one scurries off into the back room and returns with a flashdrive, which he also holds out to Ando. "I guess you guys are going to need a cab?"

Thank god they still have their wallets.

Rochelle tilts her head to study the picture, relieving the guy of the paper if that was the intention. She seems to be looking for anything familiar- but so far it doesn't pop out at her. "Never seen him." She notes this to Ando, just in case he was wondering.

"You guys got a phone book?" For that matter, they have cabs here? "Where'll we go, though?" This is for Ando, who she looks at with a slightly bewildered expression. A lot to process.

"Yes," Ando responds to the taller guy, feeling for his wallet and looking relieved to find it there. He glances at Rochelle, frowning. They missed the New York convention, and the other one isn't until July. He pockets the flashdrive as well. "Back to New York," he decides finally. "We need to regroup." Aww, lookit him, all using big words like "regroup".

The paper is allowed to be taken, before Sam reaches under the counter again to slap a small phone book. They're a college town. Of course they have cabs. Drunk students need to get back to their dorms SOMEHOW.

"Man, I hope you guys manage to find him. It'll be so awesome," says the one who hasn't been named, still smiling as they're given a phone.

Time to go back to New York, and begin a new mission.

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