From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
The world was bleak, and lifeless. A cold wind blew in between the ash-gray carcasses of buildings, riffling the water that had half the ruins of Steel Canyon flooded.
A white disc of light flared into being, and a single figure stepped out of it, a black-skinned woman in white cutout tights and a white and gold skirt. As soon as her flowing cape had cleared the disk, it vanished with a crackle.
Figures he'd hide it on one of the worlds he'd killed. Just great.
The woman looked around. What'll it be this time? War wolves? Arachnos Automatons? Or just his black-clad goose-stepping soldiers? A cursory scan of the streets revealed nothing, and she lofted into the air, to get a better view.
But she saw no one, just scraps and junk, where once had been a civilization.
"All right, here's what we know. We've detected traces of chronometic instability. This is energy that results from two realities being superimposed on each other. It usually happens when we send someone back through time... they invariably change something, and the effects of that change flow forward through time."
"The Butterfly Effect, Unai. I'm familiar with it. Change something in the past, anything it affects from that point on will also change."
"Yes. Everywhere time is being rewritten, we get this energy wave... where matter shifts to potential energy and then back to matter to fit the new timeline. In this way we can track the effects of reality being adjusted. Usually it's very small. But this time... the energy wave was huge, it covered nearly everything. So we're pretty sure that Time was rewritten for the entire planet."
"And this concerns me how?"
"As one of Lord Nemesis's premier Heroes, one with a deep understanding of subatomic physics and probability, we would think you would be interested in this phenomenon."
"Yes. I would. So, I take it you've pinpointed the causality point?"
"Yes. It actually originates from another dimension... so we're thinking that this change may actually be pandimensional in scope. There's only one person that has ever had that much gumption to challenge Lord Nemesis...."
Pan-dimensional. Amazing to think that he could even envision something that all-inclusive.
She picked her way across the broken landscape, zeroing in on the readings picked up by the device in her hands. Aside from being tooled out of brass, it was extremely sophisticated, the dual analog gauges pointing her directly to the source.
A force field. Apparently someone REALLY doesn't want this messed with.
She could make out a console-like device, with a rotating array of antennae on the top, at the center of the field, flanked by the generator itself. THAT design was familiar - she'd seen several installed on her Lord Nemesis's robot battlesuits.
Wait, Nemesis? Why would he have placed this here? There's no need to alter time so drastically, the Pax Nemesis has persisted for over a century.
She tried to step through the field, and was repelled, sailing up and back to land butt-first in a pile of ash.
Ow. OK... now, I'm mad.
She picked herself up, dusted off the ash clinging to her uniform, and then rose in the air and glided forward until just outside the perimeter of the field.
Let's see if it's shielded against probability effects.
Casting one hand forward, the heroine/researcher caused a localized breakdown in the nature of force and energy, right where the force-field generator was sitting. The SteamBall inside immediately ran out of fuel as all of the potential energy of its fusion fuel rod was depleted, and the force field collapsed.
They never learn.
Striding forward, she finally got a close look at the mysterious box. Next to it was a plaque.
- Here sits the Temporal Reversion Device. It has been placed on this dead and cold world within the Multiverse, so that no inquiring minds wander across and tamper with it. Know that this device shall forestall the greatest wars in known history, and that it is by this device alone that the Pax Nemesis will be maintained.
That's... not right. Why would someone create a device to ... enforce time? All that would happen is everything entering into a closed loop, no outside influence or change would ever be able to get past the causality horizon....
She examined the device closely, and brushed her hand across an engraved section of plating.
"WARNING! LIFEFORM DETECTED. TEMPORAL STERILIZATION COUNTERMEASURES INITIALIZED. HAIL LORD NEMESIS!"
The antennae began to speed up, and the woman ... felt... her history begin to disappear.
It's erasing me from time! That's why there's nothing here! It targets those who would interfere with it, and erases them!
In desperation, she let fly with the force bolts that were her primary offensive attack. The box was hit dead center, and promptly exploded in her face, the shockwave pitching her up and out over the dark cold lifeless water.
In midflight, the dead city reformed itself into a bustling metropolis around her, and she crashed butt-first onto the hood of a cab. The cabbie promptly honked the horn and yelled out the window at her.
"Hey! Soul Train! I know you're the best heroine States ever recruited, but damn, girl, you owe me some bodywork!"
States? Soul Train? What...?
The temporally-edited memories rapidly fell away, and Soul Train found herself in a world where the Temporal Reversion Device had never been conceived. It wasn't the same world that she had left, nor the world that had been rewritten around her, but yet a third permutation of the intricate dance of temporal butterflies.