Myths Of The Near Future
Noah Porter was an archaeology student. Ever since seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark as a kid he'd always wanted to be one. He knew traveling to new, exciting places and searching around for ancient relics was to be his calling. So after acing his grades in high school and saving up by working an incredible number of menial jobs, he launched himself into an archaeology course at London University. Unfortunately they didn't hand him a bullwhip and a fedora then send him off to some exotic locale to hunt for lost treasure. Whilst he wasn't naive enough to think he'd be saving biblical relics from Nazis, Noah really didn't quite grasp just how incredibly boring the study of archaeology really was until the end of his first year. Already somewhat disillusioned with the whole course the nineteen year old was relieved to find they were sending the students to an actual dig site. The site itself was in Campeche, Mexico where an old Mayan settlement had been discovered a few miles from the city and needed to be excavated. Excited to be actually doing something rather than listening to lectures all day he jumped at the chance to go and get his hands dirty.
So it was then that two months later Noah could be found struggling to stand upright in a very muddy ditch whilst holding something his professor thought might be important up to the light. It was a broken piece of hardened clay that might once have been part of a pot. It was obvious from the size of it that it wasn't going to be that important but the professor had insisted he be shown everything that could be anything. After dismissing Noah's scrap as nothing more than a rock the deflated teen went back to digging in the mud. Hours passed and night eventually fell causing most students to start packing up in gleeful anticipation. The inn they were all staying at seemed to call out to them with the promise of internet access and cold beer. After packing up his tools Noah made his way toward the ladder propped up against the side of the ditch and climbed out. As he headed down the dirt path that led back to the inn, he passed another temple-like ruin. Only this one had been closed off as it was deemed structurally unsound by the local tourism board. Except Noah could swore he heard someone speaking inside..
He set his backpack down as he made his way towards the entrance hall. The long hallway was dim, but there was definitely light coming from somewhere inside. Noah clutched his flashlight as felt his way through the tunnel. One of the things the professor repeatedly drilled into his students heads was to never explore alone, but curiosity got the better of Noah. He figured it was probably some first year with a lamp who had gotten turned around.
"Hello? Are you there?" A voice called out inside. He arched a brow. A strange place to plan on meeting someone.
"Over h-" Noah shouted, but was cut off by the sound of rushing water. It surrounded him until it was so loud he couldn't hear himself speak. A tingling sensation washed over him as he felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up. Electricity crackled and the air in front of him shifted. A bright light appeared, grew bigger and brighter as it formed a circle and then, a funnel of golden light writhed to life.
"No way..." Noah uttered in a hushed tone as he found himself transfixed. He literally couldn't look away. It just seemed so inviting. He felt his mind slipping away from him until he couldn't remember what he was doing in the ruins or where he was supposed to be. He reached forward but before he could reach the portal, a hand grabbed his shoulder and pulled him away. He tripped on a rock and fell backwards onto a pile of rubble and dust. The haze clouded his vision but he could make out a figure standing between the he and the portal. There was a second flash of light followed by a thunderous roaring, and then, both the portal and the figure were gone, leaving Noah alone in the dark once again.
Six Months Later
Rather than stay and continue the wildly exciting archaeological expedition, Noah opted out and left the dig site, citing “personal reasons”. The course just wasn’t what Noah had expected and rather than waste the next few years spending thousands of dollars and earning a degree in something he really wasn’t that interested in, he dropped out of college in London, and moved back to Paragon City where his parents lived.
He was never fond of the city growing up. The superheroes, specifically. His aunt was trapped inside her burning apartment building and due to a hero’s inaction, she wasn’t able to make it out in time. And while his family accepted the hero’s formal apology, Noah still harbored feelings of resentment towards the superhero populace. In any event, rather than be a complete drop-out, Noah enrolled in a local university. And then the headaches started.
It began shortly after he arrived in the city. He began experiencing intense feelings of deja vu. Later, he found himself finishing people’s sentences and answering questions that hadn’t been asked yet. Word of his oddness spread around campus until most students avoided him completely. Worse yet, he started having visions. Events a few seconds or minutes into the future. Sometimes they’d be minor things - like seeing sudden rainstorms coming, or catching things before they fell. Other times, the visions saved lives. Once, he saved a middle-aged woman from being hit by a car, all precipitated by a vision of future events. But his new found precognitive abilities didn’t come without negative effects.
The aforementioned headaches turned to excruciating migraines. He grew more and more pale over the coming weeks and it was clear his health was deteriorating. He knew it had something to do with the strange portal he’d encountered back in Mexico. When his parents questioned him, he always gave them the same story - He’d just been up late studying hard.
One afternoon, while he was studying in one of the libraries on campus, it happened again. A portal made of purple light ‘whoosh’ed into existence between two shelves, knocking them over as books and papers fell to the floor. Noah wasn’t the only one in the library and when he looked around, he was stunned to see everyone had stopped moving. Not just stopped moving to stare at the impossible portal. No, everyone had literally frozen in place. The books hung in the air, the papers suspended by some unknown force. It was as if time had frozen. And Noah felt himself being pulled towards the portal once again. And then he blacked out.
Future Foe Scenarios
Noah awoke to find himself in a black, void-like space. He could somehow tell there were no walls, yet he couldn’t see into the distance. The only light in the space came from a glowing orb suspended in the air. There was a woman as well. With hair as black as the void that surrounded them and luminous green eyes that almost shone. She wore nothing but a plain white gown and a pleasant smile.
“Welcome, Noah Porter.” She spoke softly, but it sounded as if her voice was coming from every direction.
“What am I doing here? What is this place? Did you kidnap me?” He questioned frantically. She stepped towards him slowly and he took a step back. “Trust me when I say I mean you no harm.” she replied. “Yes, I have brought you here against your will, but your life is in peril.”
“In peril? In peril from what?”
Noah waved a hand angrily, “Okay, don’t start being vague. I’ve got a killer headache, a paper that’s due tomorrow and a nagging suspicion that I might be dreaming right now.”
The smile faded from her features as she apologized. “I am sorry, Noah Porter. But you are not dreaming. And as I said, your life and the lives of everyone you know are in danger.”
“So you’re what? My fairy godmother or something?” Noah asked as he arched a brow skeptically.
“More like... the universe’s fairy godmother.” She smiled again. “I am a Watcher,” she continued. “One entrusted with keeping the whole of reality safe.”
Noah rubbed his temples. “This is about that portal thing in Mexico, isn’t it?”
The woman nodded. “A gap in the fabric of reality, from which all of time can be seen. The past, the future, anything that’s ever happened and everything that ever will. You looked directly into it. And it’s killing you.”
Noah figured as much. About the ‘killing him’ part, anyways. She went on. “The feelings you’ve been experiencing, your visions. The Nexus is not meant to be seen by anyone, let alone a human. The Nexus energy won’t just kill you. It will drive you mad. And then there will be nothing to stop you.”
“Stop me? Stop me from what?”
“Here...” she said as she advanced again. She placed her fingertips upon his temples and Noah again experienced a powerful vision. He saw himself doubling over and collapsing inside his apartment.
"You'll grow increasingly unstable until you lose your grip on sanity completely." She narrated. The scene blurred and he then saw himself actually creating portals like the ones he'd seen and using them to teleport to different places. "Your abilities will increase however." She continued. "And your lingering hatred towards the city's superhuman populace causes you to lash out against them. Many lives will be lost at your hands."
He saw himself, appearing vastly different and deranged, pulling people and objects through the portals he'd create until they were swallowed up completely. "You'll eventually create a portal to The Nexus so large that you won't be able to close. And then... reality will suffer the consequences."
Noah pulled himself away from the woman. The vision faded and he was back standing in the void. "Why me?" he cried. "Why's this happening to me?"
"Even I don't have those answers." She responded. "A random space-time event, perhaps?"
"Well how do I stop it? All of this."
"The only option is to go back. Return to the past and prevent yourself from gazing into the portal."
And then Noah understood. It was him. He had thrown himself away from the portal. But he was still confused.
"I don't get. If I pulled myself away from the portal, how'd this all still happen?"
The woman moved away from Noah as she made a gestured. The air shifted again and another portal of bright, streaming purple light was created. "Quickly, there's no time for me to explain. You will have a seconds, a minute at best."
Noah stepped towards the portal and instantly found himself being pulled into it. Quite violently, actually. He was twisted and thrown about in the air as the light grew brighter and brighter until he was forced to shut his eyes. And then he fell onto what felt like the ground. He opened his eyes and found himself once again inside the ancient ruins where everything began. He picked himself up swiftly and glanced around. The portal he had traveled through had since disappeared and Noah was left squinting in the darkness. He felt his way around the dark cavern anyways, calling out for help.
"Hello? Are you there?" he yelled. He hadn't even meant to, but he found himself repeating what he'd heard himself say before. He heard himself reply before being cut off by the familiar sound of the initial portal appearing. The light emitting from it guided him down the dim, rocky corridor however, until he found himself standing in the room with... well, himself.
"I'm too late..." he sighed, crestfallen. He was already looking into the portal. Quickly, he lept forward and pulled himself backwards again. Like before, he was thrown backwards onto the rubble and he was left standing in front of what the woman had called "the Nexus".
Before he could look into it again, there was a clap of lightning and he was pulled into the air again. When he fell, he was back inside the void-like space he'd been seconds before. Only this time, he was lying on his stomach, looking up at the woman who'd sent him there. She smiled down at him. "Congratulations."
Noah slowly rose to his feet, filled with confusion. "But I was too late?"
She smiled again. "Actually you were early. You'd be surprised how large a difference a few seconds make. How do you feel?"
He hadn't noticed, but his headache was gone."I still don't understand. How-"
She waved her hands to interrupt him. "Time is... complex, to say the least. Do not try to or I sense your headache may return." She laughed softly. "In any event, though you prevented yourself from gazing into the Nexus for too long, you still hold within you an amount of Nexus time energy." She added. The woman raised her hand before Noah had a chance to speak. "Fear not, Noah Porter. It will not kill you. You will however continue to experience the visions you received before. And this excess Nexus energy you carry... Time itself now bends to your will, to a degree. Use this gift responsibly or I fear the future I showed you may still yet come to pass."
Noah could barely wrap his head around the fact that he had traveled into the past, let alone the revelation that he'd saved his own life and gained the ability to manipulate time. "So that's it then? It's over?"
"Oh no," she said with a knowing smile. "It's only just beginning. But a warning, Noah Porter. You've traveled backwards within your own time stream. In doing so, you've created a paradox. A contradiction within reality. Should you attempt to alter your timeline further, know this - The fabric of reality will be torn apart until the only thing that remains is nothing. Everything will cease to exist.
Noah nodded. "Oh sure. No pressure there. I still have one question though." In truth, he had about a hundred different questions just off the top of his head, but he had a feeling the woman wouldn't answer most of them. "Why'd you show me that vision? About what would've happened to me."
"To convince you. And to strengthen your resolve. For the trials that are yet to come." She smiled.
Noah tilted his head in confusion. Now he had ten more questions. "Wait, what? What trials?"
She gestured behind him again as another portal of light appeared. "Goodbye Noah Porter."
And with that, he was sucked into the portal once more, appearing on his feet a second later within the library on campus, in the same spot he'd been standing before.
"Well that was enigmatic." He commented.