Conspiracy Theory Pogs

Summary:
September 24, 2014: Temporary intruders from another reality become lost in this reality. Various heroes and bystanders get caught up in their shenanigans.

Gotham City

Gotham City at night. The poor part.


Characters

NPCs

  • Hippo God
  • Gnomes
  • Trolls
  • Hardware Store Owners

Mood Music:
[*<http://insert.video.or.music.link.here>]


It's Gotham City at night. Perfectly pleasant if you're rich and hidden away behind well-secured mansion walls. Less pleasant and much more dangerous for basically anyone else. In one of the more run-down neighborhoods, some folks from 'out of town' have gathered after a pilgrimmage from their original arrival point. These folks are probably up to no good, considering about half a dozen of them are dirty non-humans of some kind, with big ears and bulbous noses, another ten are gangly-limbed grey goobers of some kind with big sharp teeth, and there is another who is very large and hippopotamus-like, and dressed in what might be… Ancient Egyptian attire?

This 17-large group is utterly confident that they have made it to Gotham stealthily, and that no one is aware of their presence, which is why they are hanging out in an alleyway (well, the trolls and gnomes are in the alleyway, the ancient Egyptian hippopotamus god or whoever he is doesn't fit and is blocking the failing streetlight for the others by hanging around at the alley's entrance) and planning their return to their home… The CENTER OF THE EARTH! …Because the inside of the Earth is actually just another Earth, and everything else on the outside is just growing out around it. Expanding Earth theory is legit, you know!

Their plans mostly seems to involve acquiring a drill of some kind, which they have thus far not been very successful with. Also, a mob of creatures that look like they climbed out of the sewers and have bitten at least eight people during their trip to Gotham, and also a HIPPOPOTAMUS MAN, are not nearly as stealthy as they think they are, and have left quite a trail of witnesses attesting to a 'monster army' marching on Gotham City.

It's really not much of an army, but rumors, etc. And, now, just to cement himself as the ultimate at non-stealth, the Egyptian god of hippos or whatever is advancing menacingly upon a generations-old, smeary-windowed hardware store. Because if a mom-and-pop hardware store on a side street doesn't have an industrial deep-mining drill, WHO WOULD!?

Dot dot dot.

Ellipse.

The thundering of the hippo-man as he crosses the street should be easy for anyone to detect.

-

WESTERN AFRICA

As dawn breaks in another part of the world, the sun sprays the sky with pinks, oranges, and reds. A figure floats toward the ground, carrying several stacked pallets full of medical equipment as a doctor exits a white tent in the middle of a jungle clearing.

Superman sets the pallets down carefully; he's had to fly a bit slower than normal to keep them balanced, but his help is appreciated in this remote part of Liberia. As soon as the white boxes come to rest, more aid workers rush to get their hands on the equipment.

"How is it?" Superman says, wincing slightly as he looks into the sun to face the doctor. "Worse than yesterday," the doctor replies with a thick accent. Superman nods grimly, "I'll see if I can't convince some doctors from some other countries to make the trek. You sure have your hands full." The doctor nods and is about to reply before Superman's communicator goes off. The Man in Red and Blue nods a few times to no one as he listens intently. "Doctor, I'm going to have to return shortly. There's a situation back in America that needs my attention. I'll be back as soon as I can." The doctor nods, and a split second later, Superman is rocketing up into the sky, heading west.

-

Roberto da Costa may be venturing outside the well-secured walls of his own palatial home, but as anyone who has met him can attest, he carries with him a thick set of metaphorical walls: wealth, idealism, supreme self-confidence — even obliviousness, from time to time. He closed a major deal for one of his shipping holdings in Gotham harbor earlier today, and has been out celebrating since. Now he's in a limousine bound back for New York, with a bottle of champagne and attractive company.

Fortunately, his driver is a lot less oblivious, and brakes courteously for the hippo crossing. "Mr. da Costa?" he says over the vehicle's intercom. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but there's… something in the road."

After a pause, the car's sunroof slides open, and the Brazilian's top half pops into view. He's wearing a blazer over a white button-up with most of the buttons undone. He's also visibly swaying as he takes in the strange creatures massing around the hardware store. Just to emphasize how off his game he is at the moment, it takes him a handful of seconds to come up with the brilliant line: "Hey! Monsters! I think… that store is closed."

Deeper inside the car, someone finds this incredibly funny, and dissolves into a fit of giggles.

-

Well, Zatanna Zatara was certainly rich. And she certainly was hidden away behind mansion walls. Pleasant however? That remains to be seen. "I…!" she calls out, her face and features turning crimson with kinda bottled up anger. "YOU get back here right now!"

Zatanna was without her hat, wearing something close to her jimjams - modest lavender pajamas.

Where was her hat? Well, in the hands of a devilish-looking imp, who was waving it in the air and cackling, safe on its perch atop a bookshelf. Zatanna had a broom right now, in fact, having set aside magic for something a bit more direct. There was no gentleness in the way that she swings the broom at the imp, said imp scurrying to one side to avoid it, and making a rude noise in return.

Now, Zatanna /almost/ missed it because of her anger at the moment, but Zee pauses, the anger kinda fading from her expression as her eyes grow distant. Brow furrowing, she stares at a point on the wall for a handful of moments.

"Oh, god," she says, the imp flinging… well, he was flinging something at her, that she readily sidesteps. A pause, and Zee rolls her eyes. "Sorry, gods."

A HANDFUL OF MINUTES LATER.

Zatanna steps out of a door in an alleyway - and shuts it behind herself. People who observe it might notice that the door was locked, bolted, chained - and a sign reading 'condemned' hanging upon it, so Zee couldn't have possibly opened it, much less stepped through it.

Hatless, she flicks her hand to the side, a wand sliding out of her sleeve and into her hand. Somehow, as if by ~magic~, she had changed into her coattails, slacks, and jacket, her heeled boots clacking on the dirty Gotham alley as she kinda… creeps to the mouth of the alley, clicking her tongue against the roof of her mouth (it was a different alley than the creatures had found themselves in). A beat. "Oh my gods - is that a /troll/?"

-

Drakos Recovery Solutions, South Jersey Shore

The portly former retailer Jim had an amazingly bland and boring day at Drakos Recovery Solutions. It isn't often that he gets the chance to go drink, due to the rather concerned method with which the partner tends to clamp down on such activity. And in particular, he doesn't get this when he's in Gotham. Normally, the partner is dragging him almost kicking and screaming mentally back to the apartment in Queens, so he can 'get proper rest'. But tonight, tonight the partner is quiet.

The last time the partner really went quiet was almost a full day of nervous and strange happenings, and the guy is really on edge. But hey, guilt-free drinking. And it's not like he really sticks out after a long day of work with typical work-clothes and a rather tired slump of the shoulders. If anything, he'll kind of blend into Gotham.

Gotham City, New Jersey

Thank goodness for the high-speed transit. That's about all the guy can say. Though getting off at the local stop was a bit un-nerving… this neighborhood was one of those 'exhausted' ones. The kinds of neighborhoods that back in say, Chicago one would be watching one's wallet and one's back. But, as is usually the case the beer is decent enough at the watering holes and the prices as well.

And then there's the strange tall big guy doing the whole 'Hungry Hungry Hippos' thing without the Hungry.

What. The. F….

His eyes glance towards the bar he was trying to get to… just past the strange tall big… oh, wait… there's more of them?

There may be some internal profanity going on here. Correction. Not 'may be'. IS.

-

"… so I want to know why I'm hearing about this on the news! This is my company, and if we didn't ship enough units to Hong Kong I should have already been given a list of names to fire… what do you mean we covered this in the board meeting? Who called a board meeting!? Oh…. we have one every Thursday? I mean, yeah, right, at the regular Thursday meeting…. Now now, that's not fair. I've gone to SOME of the board meetings this month…"

The Green Arrow has taken a break from his routine of patrolling crummy streets to take a phone call from some very important muckity muck at his (formerly his daddy's) company. The content of the message has mostly consisted of a king-sized bitchfest on the part of this anonymous employee, who seems to think that a bag of Jelly Bellies would be able to run Queen Consolidated better than Oliver Queen can.

Green Arrow sits astride his idling motorcycle, parked in an obliging alley, with his arms folded over the handlebars. He looks exactly like a petulant child. One that wears a hood over his face and carries an arsenal of archaic weapons with science fiction devices attached to the tips.

"Right. Right. Oh. Absolutely." He raises a hand up under his hood in order to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Valid point. In fact as I was…." His voice tapers off slowly as he brings his gaze up to look across the street. There, in front of a hardware store, is something that he wishes very much he wasn't seeing. "… I'm going to have to call you back."

The Arrowbike's engine is switched off, and a tarp is hurriedly thrown over the motorcycle.

-

There wasn't a lot of time to do detective work on this one. But an item on the news about something that is still not entirely being taken seriously by the news caster indicated there were reports of a 'monster army' marching on Gotham City. There were some very harassed-looking eye-witnesses interviewed, some sound-bites of sensationalist journalism, nothing that a respectable reporter like Lois Lane or Clark Kent would be involved with. But there was SOMETHING coming from Metropolis, and it was causing a ruckus.

Of course, when Batwoman heard 'egyptian god' mentioned, she figured this was another themed criminal, rather than 'an actual god'. But she couldn't be sure. If this is an actual, living and breathing mythological deity, this could be serious trouble. But, being a rational individual, she still assumed in favor of science and logic first.

Which is why she is totally hanging back on a rooftop and observing after driving to within grappling-distance on her motorcycle. A pale-skinned figure, flame-red tresses draping down atop her black cloak, sees that things are growing more and more complicated as more people come to investigate this monster army. The brand new pot-holes introduced to the already-worn street by King Hippo made tracking easy, even if the heavy sound of a 2-ton (maybe 3-tons, let's be honest, he's not slenderman) divinity hadn't been a tip-off all its own.

The limousine and its sloshed occupants, a mass of beings Batwoman is still not convinced aren't just dudes in rubber suits, and what is probably some kind of mutant or something, all hanging out in the street in front of a hardware store. There is a sort of sense of unreality to all this. As at least one innocent bystander also comes across this scene, the urge to act is there. Kate clamps down on it. Instead, the vigilante draws a few items from a pouch on her belt. Because rushing into this could simply make a tense situation even worse.

Vampire-like, she seems to float down from the rooftop, descending through darkness slowly via her grapple line, and coming down silently… Right behind Zatanna. The magician-girl might be involved somehow. She's dressed like someone who uses MAGIC after all. And so, a voice equal parts harshness and softness speaks like a ghost's whisper from the shadows, asking a single question in a way that would make a chill go up most people's spine, let alone people in a dark alley at night.

"Your handiwork?"

-

A limousine drives up, and some drunk dude sticks his head and upper body out and starts calling to the Inner Earthers. The Gnomes are more interested in the store. That's some sweet screwdrivers in there! Hippo-god huffs and turns to chastise the observers (not just limo-guy but also bystander-guy. Arrow-guy is still putting a tarp on his bike so hasn't been noticed, and the two ladies seem to be hanging together in an alley, and thus also not detected). "Huff!" he huffs. "We are displeased with your vocalizations! Take your verbal offense on a detour!" That was probably a totally sick burn in ancient Egypt.

The trolls, on the other hand, have a much creepier and much less ambivalent response. The long-limbed, small-skulled, bug-eyed, sharp-toothed creatures see undefended civilian prey. And they scamper along, starting to encircle Jim, a few of them even working around to try to get into Roberto's blind spot, while one of them stalks in plain sight up towards the hood of the car. "Heeeey, nice carriage, buddy! Mind if we peel it open and pop in for a bite?" Jim isn't even afforded the courtesy of an attempt at being tricked. They just smiiiile widely and say total creeper dialogue like, 'Looks tasty', 'Fresh meat', etc. all while licking their lips and showing off their sharp, snaggly teeth.

Honestly, this entire situation is really uncomfortable.

Then one of the Gnomes tries opening the hardware store door, and they discover, 'OHHHHH SO THAT IS HOW ONE ENTERS A BUILDING'. Cue sudden, store invasion as all six Gnomes, and half the Trolls drop everything they are doing, and flock to the shop like they're handing out free Wonka Bars and only one has the golden ticket. There's still some creepy trolls out there, but there's also a number of them clogging the entrance and causing hippo-god to be even more furious at this noise disturbance around him.

"Apox! Be gone from my path!" he bellows. Apox was not the right word there, but he's a hippo. What are you going to do? For what it's worth, as far as Zatanna might be able to tell, hippo-god does not seem to be radiating any supernatural energy. There's no god vibes coming off him or anything. So what he IS is up for debate. All that's certain is he has a back like the broadside of a barn and it is presently turned on the archer securing his sweet ride, and anyone else who might want to take a shot at him.

S-M-R-T spells 'smart'.

-

Like a falling stone out of the sky, Superman smashes down with knees bent and hand upon the ground to steady. He's up on his feet a moment later and stalking towards the Hippo looking gentlemen. He'd only heard part of the conversation, picking it up somewhere over the waters of the Atlantic, but what he's heard has been enough. It was time to act.

A deep, inward intake of air is followed by a burst of arctic freeze from Superman's lungs, sprayed at the feet of the Hippo in an attempt to freeze his powerful legs in place! "I'm not sure who you are, or what you want, but you're going to start explaining yourself very quickly," he says, looking towards the foe defiantly.

-

"Get off my car!" Roberto yells at the troll making its head-on approach. He shucks his blazer, dropping the expensive and motion-limiting garment back inside the limo, and then pulls himself onto the roof in a mad scramble.

"Ate breve!" he reassures his fellow passenger(s?), who have the presence of mind to shut the sunroof behind him. The Brazillionaire marches toward the nearest troll, rolling up one sleeve as he shifts into the dark, flame-wreathed silhouette that is his mutant form. He hauls back, telegraphing his move, and aims a head-on solar-powered uppercut at the interloping creature's jaw.

"What you're doing is FLAGRANTLY ILLEGAL!" he shouts, before pointing at Jim. No — the trolls menacing Jim. The accusing finger is wavering a bit. "Leave that guy alone! Stop breaking into that store! I have plans for this evening, and they don't include beating up a bunch of Lord of the Rings extras, but I'm a spontaneous kind of guy!"

-

Zatanna Zatara, as one might suspect, was more or less fascinated. Resting gloved hands upon the alley wall (trying not to think of all the yuck that might be on them,) Zee was murmuring to herself when Batwoman approached. "Demons? No no, they'd be a big red boiling bowl of… boiling stuff of evil, and you could determine that a mile away. Fae? Maybe. I um… hmm…"

'Your handiwork?'

Zatanna nearly jumps out of her skin, leaping up in place and fumbling with her wand a moment, whirling around in her shapely heels to point her wand at… the darkness. "… are you with them?" she questions the darkness. Once the surprise had faded, there was a little more steel underlying her voice. A pause.

"…but if you're asking if /I/ had something to do with this - no, no. I just sensed… something weird," she says.

A beat, and she glances over her shoulder briefly, before looking back in the direction of the voice with a cocky grin. "…and I sure got it. Um. I think we should try to talk to them, though. I don't think… well… I think they might be lost?"

-

The work-exhausted fellow straightens up a bit. He was in ancient Egypt once. He thinks. He doesn't remember seeing Mister Hungry there. But the style… be darned if it wasn't a bit reminiscent of the partner's pacing. He cracks his neck a bit and coughs as the trolls surround him. "You'll do best to mind your manners and back off. Trust me."

Then a good half of the trolls zip off to see whatever is so gosh-darn important over at the shop. A rather clever idea comes to his mind.

"You should probably go see what it is that those others ran off after. It must be very important for them to all abandon looking at me, right? Go on now, go. I won't run away or anything. Go find out what that is!"

Customer Service Axiom 10: If people are flooding to find a thing, then obviously it must be worth more than whatever other people are looking at. Crowds are always right, right? At least, that's the mythology behind 'Black Friday'?

Superman's arrival is met with a bit of a side-long glance.

"See, even the big guy is in on it. You'd better hurry, 'cause they're going fast!"

Then the inebriated mogul points at him — why is it that every single male mogul on the planet seems to think its their god-given right to waste their company like that? And hey, isn't that the guy who does the mutant thing? He comes slumming here in Gotham, too?

"Oh, whups, there's yet another one trying to get to the store! You'd better hurry! Fire sale!"

Yeah, Jim is selling it. Now the question is… are the trolls buying it?

Is it going to get them away from him, at least?

-

"Gosh, we're all really impressed down here, I can tell you." Having secured all of his non-essential gear, Green Arrow has begun making his way up a fire escape. Which is why he has a bird's eye view of the Man of Steel rocketting toward the ground. Isolated as he is, it's unlikely that he imagined anyone could hear his sardonic musings all the way up on a neighboring fire escape. But then, nobody has ever really explained the concept of Super-Hearing to him.

But as more of the costumed set begin filtering into his line of sight, Green Arrow's grim sarcasm is replaced with an ever-increasing exasperation. "Six murders reported in this dump in the last forty-eight hours. There's a homeless population here so big they could legally file paperwork to form their own town. Kids in Gotham are more likely to be murdered than graduate high school. Not a peep from these clowns."

He continues jogging up the stairs, position himself better as befits his archery-centric superhero schtick.

"But the second some extras from Fraggle Rock show up, the superheroes swoop down on Gotham like they're having a half-price sale on long johns…" He shakes his head, though this is pretty much obscured completely by his green hood. Reaching behind his back, he pulls out an arrow from his quiver, nocking it rapidly on his bow.

"Guess I'd better hang out, make sure they don't knock any buildings over…."

-

When she is addressed, Batwoman emerges from the darkness, red hair like a waterfall of blood, corpse-white flesh, dead-pale eyes, and black over all the rest of her, excepting the interior of a cape that would fit the image of Dracula (minus the stereotypical vampiric collar). "I have bigger problems to deal with than them. If you think diplomacy can help, feel free to try it." She has noticed the arrival of Superman, of course. That's an unexpected assist… Is something major going on here after all? The near-vampiric figure advances up the alley, aware of the pointed wand, but sweeping on past with a glassy-eyed look afforded the mystical implement's wielder. "But you had better do all that you can to make sure they get back where they belong, if what you say is true."

Then she turns a corner out onto the street, seemingly into plain sight of those in the dim street lights. But if anyone looks down, even Green Arrow from his rooftop, they'll find that Batwoman appears to have vanished like she was never even there. Some of those crimes that Green Arrow mentioned? She was actually investigating them before all this. Maybe they'd do well to talk sometime, since they seem to have a shared concern for the people of this city.

But not tonight, it appears.

-

Hippo-god's legs get frozen to the pavement. He roars and twists and turns, trying to face his attacker, and, while not a god, seems to be strong enough (or maybe just fat enough) to break free — with difficulty — and turn to face the one confronting him. "Caped strange, we are sorely vexed by this," he gestures at the store, and the older couple behind the counter wondering wtf is going on. "And by this…" Then he gestures at his legs. "This attack… ARRR!" Oh jeez he's a hippo pirate now!? Game over, man! Game over! "We seek egress back to yon Inner Earth from whence we came!" Okay, what era is he even from, he is mixing his archaic speech up something fierce. "And for that we need a drill." He lifts his pudgy, thick-skinned arms, and to the best of his stubby-fingered ability, attempts to outline in the air what he imagines a drill looks like. With his lack of manual dexterity, and the shape of his limbs, it looks more like he's trying to define the outline of a particularly shapely woman. Wait, maybe that is actually what he means. Is he looking for a date? Is that what he meant by 'drill'!? IS HE, INFACT, ASKING SUPERMAN TO HOOK HIM UP!?

"A heavy drill for drilling through the planet's crust to get back to the REAL Earth, which we come from, and is inside this outer Earth!" Whew! Good thing he clarified, or this situation might have gotten weird or something. At least he hasn't attacked anyone yet.

Meanwhile, Car Troll gets socked in the face, though he manages to stagger backwards enough to avoid being, like, decapitated or incinerated or anything. He does have a red spot on his jaw as he scampers backwards like a grotesque mix between a spider and a beaten dog. "Now, now, man! We was only going to take a little nip! You'd hardly miss it! What do you have to be so rude for?" Oh, yes, how innocent these cannibalistic trolls are. Not at all like they were ready to climb into the car and eat people like two seconds before they realized they were actually in physical danger. "Come on, just a little bite?" AND ARE STILL GUNNING FOR SOME PEOPLE-FOOD.

What. Total. Creeps.

The three trolls still hanging around Jim seem hesitant about what they should do. But, eventually, they take Jim's advice. Kind of. While keeping their bug eyes on Superman, and wondering if he's edible, they're also suggesting cleverly, "Well, wouldn't want to spare you the rod of good deals!" That was a terrible turn of phrase. Why are all these folks so terrible at talking. "Maybe you can come in with us, eh?" one of the trolls behind Jim suggests, possibly bumping into him a bit. The SMELL off these things reveals that no matter how weird, goofy, and cartoonish they may look and act, they are probably not safe to actually hang out with for long. They have carnivore breath.

The smell of rotting meat wafting from their mouths with every breath. For all their cajoling and gaslighting, the uncomfortable idea may come to mind that people unfortunate enough to stray into a cave or some other dark place where these things make their home are probably never seen again, as pale forms stalk them, whispering and taunting, voices echoing off the walls, taking bites gradually, suddenly, painfully piercing flesh one nibble at a time, until their prey is worn down from terror and striking aimlessly at unseen foes, that they can simply be swarmed and eaten alive.

Creepy as hell. The mental image of all that comes unbidden. Almost mystically, like this is a thing they have done so many times that it carries through to potential victims through their body language.

There's a commotion from inside the store. While Hippo-god is out on the street, confronting Superman (verbally only still), the Gnomes appear to be stuffing everything they can grab into bags, forgetting they were here for a DRILL. NOT A CLAW HAMMER. A GIANT DRILL. Not that they'd find one here anyway, but priorities, people! The trolls, meanwhile are harassing the shop owners. The old man is holding a shotgun tremblingly, but surrounded as they are, they probably don't stand a chance if violence occurs. There's a clear shot through the window from Green Arrow's angle. The Hippo-man frowns (how can anyone tell though, really?) and says, "We feel… Strange." Then there's a slight 'de-rezzing' effect, like a camera going out of focus, all around his edges. The Troll cowering in front of Sunspot's car, the three hanging around Jim and trying to lead him somewhere more isolated, where they and the rest of their fellows can chow down on him more easily, and the ones in the store, all likewise seem to stagger.

Some of them even go transparent. And images of another Gotham, similar to this one but different, float through in that transparency. Including… Batman with guns!?

It's like some other reality is bleeding through around them!

-

Superman hears Green Arrow, he just doesn't pay attention. "Not until you pay for what you've done," Superman exclaims as he grabs the giant hippo by the chest and rockets upwards, high into the sky. As they clear the rooftops, however, something peculiar happens. The hippo begins to phase in and out. Before long, and before going too much higher, the best is gone completely. Superman stops for a moment, flummoxed.

-

Sunspot is a lot harder to read than Roberto: pretty much the only visible features on his body are a pair of glowing embers that have replaced his eyes. But those are plenty, in this case: they narrow, then turn to stare at the troll, then swivel back to Jim. "Both of you: what? Shut up!" the mutant says, continuing to mix moods and muddle syntax. "I don't have time to shop or get eaten, I'm in the middle of a rescue."

He grabs the troll by the arm and hops down to the pavement, dragging the punch-drunk beastie after him whether it cooperates or not. The X-man makes for Jim, with a break midway to wordlessly gawp at Superman's rocketing ascent. Once the Last Son of Krypton is out of sight, the Fresh Prince of Rio swerves and bumps into the troll crowding Jim from behind. He blinks at the creature for a second, then shoves the Car Troll at him. "Take this and go back to Disneyland." He spins to face Jim and reaches out to clap one hand on the man's shoulder, putting a considerable amount of weight on it if he gets the chance. "Get into the car, meu amigo, I'm here to rescue you. And that goes for everyone who isn't trying to beat up a store or burgle somebody!"

-

There was a moment, Zatanna's eyes kinda glancing up and down Batwoman as the other woman kinda pulls herself from the shadows. Having a… human (?) face to put to that voice didn't seem to help matters much. A shiver involuntarily runs up and down Zatanna's spine. Even if the hand holding the wand was a little firm.

"Bigger problems!" she enthuses, "I mean, what's bigger than a hippo guy running up and down the street?!"

A handful of moments. "…I can but try," says Zatanna, breathing out a little sigh. And like that, the mysterious Batwoman was gone. Certainly, Zatanna could scry with a bowl or a crystal ball, or something, but she didn't have time for that right now.

Stepping out into the street proper, Zatanna lets her eyes take in a little bit more of. "…oh," she says, as if caught by an epiphany that she should have understood all along. "Is /that/ what it is, hmm…" she says. This whole… reality merging thing was more the domain of scientists and things rather than magicians, at least in her experience. Beyond horrible demonic rituals.

It was the gnomes that her attention turns towards. "Think, Zatanna…" she says to herself. Leaping to the side of a parked car, Zatanna looks into the reflection of the same. This other world was a reflection, right? So she just had to look into the reflection of the mirror, keep the gnomes firmly in her thoughts and… "Og emoh semong!"

Well, if it worked, they should go back to their own reality. Otherwise, well… trying to do /that/ sort of magic was kinda big leagues stuff.

-

If Jim knew about what the Arrow was muttering about he'd probably be a bit indignant about it, and would probably also have some few choice words for the home invader. But thankfully and blissfully, he is unaware of the presence of the vigilante as he eyes the trolls around him. And then they make it sound like they're going to be going to follow his ever-so-sound-founded-on-many-years retail advice… as they start herding him away from the area.

Oh, heck no. That is *not* going to fly. While he's trying to come up with a good clean solution to this situation without the dangling strings of say, being their next meal. And then hey, rich mogul got off his… glowing butt… and.. yeah. He's not going to question that —- OW! He's probably going to have a bruise in the morning from that.

Then reality flashes for a second and he blinks a bit, reeling under the influence of the alien dimension for a moment or two. The two trolls in front of him look at him while he's disoriented and take tentative nibbling attempts at his calf and his thigh… as suddenly he finds himself yanked out of their way with a twisted ankle. In comic fashion, the two chomp on each other and dissipate, almost as if the pudgy guy had planned it. The way to the limo clear, he starts trundling his way over and in. No way he's going to stick around and that limo looks armored and hey, maybe it'll have a bar in the back! The guy who just rescued him sounded a bit tanked a few moments ago…

Rich mogul can be forgiven for wasting their company… this time… if that's the case.

-

As a product of habit, Green Arrow already has a flashbang arrow nocked on his bow. Nice general-purpose option, particularly when one wants to make a dramatic entrance. However, he quickly places it back in the quiver when he gets a look at the elderly couple who are in danger of being eaten.

"Poor bastards are scared enough already… have to try a Softer Option." He runs his hand back and forth across the fletchings of his arrows before finally selecting one with what appears to be an array of speakers wrapped around the head. This arrow is fired through the window, landing in the middle of the group of trolls. A light on the arrow begins blinking, and the voice of Green Arrow can be heard blasting through the arrow's speakers.

"Bump ba da BAAA BAAA! Bump ba da BAAAAA BAAAA! Bump ba da BAAAA BAAA! Bump ba da DAAAA!" The trolls look confusedly down at the arrow in their midst. One of them tries to solve the problem by kicking it.

The noise from the speakers has done more than get their attention, however. It's also disguised the noise of another arrow flying through the window and anchoring to the wall. A nearly-invisible wire is pulled taut, and the Green Arrow begins ziplining down from his vantage point and does a frontward flip through the window. Now there's no need for his theme music to play over the micro-loudspeakers, because he's there in the flesh to hum the tune himself. But unfortunately, he only knows the first part.

The trolls immediately forget their other troubles and try to bumrush Green Arrow. But between their blinking effect and Arrow's strong distaste for getting punched in the face, they aren't very successful.

Finding the biggest, meanest-looking troll, Green Arrow does some fancy footwork and grabs his arm when he attacks. He pulls himself up and over the troll, taking an impromptu piggyback ride on the creature's shoulders as he wraps his thighs around the troll's massive neck. Two arrows are quickly pulled out of his quiver, one in each hand. He jams the arrows into the creature's ear holes, causing an ungodly shriek of pain to be heard for several blocks around.

As the creature begins to thrash, Green Arrow begins shouting into the creature's partially-clogged ear holes.

"Tell your boys here to stand down, or I swear to God I'll push these arrows in so far that the tips'll touch!"

The creature quickly complies, yelling something trolly at his boys. They stop doing trolly things.

-

Hippo-man is indeed swept up in the super-strong arms of Superman and flown into the sky. And he does indeed, go back home. Just in time to be called names by Batman. Actually, with how disjointed his home universe is, it is entirely possible that popping in and out of other realities is standard daily routine. Either way, he's back home now. And his legs are cold. Ancient egyptian geneticists made him, so they didn't account for ice.

Some more of the trolls are warded off, backing up when threatened, still grinning and assuring they've done nothing wrong… Even as two of them creep in close and make attempts at chewing Jim's skin while he's distracted with his 'rescuer'. They wind up biting each other, and as they hiss and retreat, looking not as happy now as they did before — even the one who got punched by Sunspot was able to keep an ugly smile on his face — they seem to back up right out of this universe and into their own.

The pale creatures vanish back to wherever they came from, and other two out here on the street as well. Zatanna's magic works similarly. The Gnomes are at least loosely-magical in nature, even if they have an affinity for tinkering and machinery. So they're hanging around a bit longer even as reality shifts around them. With Zatanna's assistance, however, it's a bit like she stuck her leg out in front of them and shoved them all over it at the same time. They almost literally fall out of this reality and back to their own. Their ransacked power tools are left on the floor. The speaker-distressed trolls, the ones cowed by the least-scrawny of their number indicating with a distressingly unfriendly smile of capitulation they should back off, and the one who did the capitulating, all are sort of flickering and fading in and out.

They are not going to forget how easily they were beaten here. They were not hunting helpless prey in the dark. They were not nipping at Robin's behind. They went up against people who could fight back, and they got fought back against! And when they tried to go after those who couldn't fight back, they were shut down hard by protectors of the weak.

In one last flicker of unreality, the last of the trolls vanish from the store, leaving it a bit messy, and with a busted window, but nobody inside worse for wear. The store owners thank Green Arrow profusely, and if he and Zatanna stick around (given that Sunspot and Jim are both heading away in a limousine), the old woman offers them both a free package of gummi worms each. She may look like a grandma, but that doesn't mean she has cookies on-hand.

With the trolls gone, this area feels… Stable. Both from a magical standpoint and just in general, there was something off about everything that just happened. Like things were happening that ordinarily wouldn't be… That COULDN'T be. And now that the culprits are gone, Gotham is back to being its dark, oppressive, all-to-real self. The kind of place you can die to some thug with a gun, just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. For all their 'wrongness', the monsters brought with them a sort of unsurety of what was going on. A pandemonium where anything could happen, including violence… But not this slow, soul-crushing certainty of a bad end that seems to permeate Gotham's poorer districts now.

But that can be changed. Through the efforts of people like these, Gotham doesn't have to stay this way. And rampaging hippos and cannibal trolls wouldn't have helped that goal at all.

Even so, the question remains:

Where did they come from exactly? Why were they here at all? And what does it mean that things from other dimensions are just wandering the streets? Has reality been compromised somehow? Or was this just the last traces of such a breach, finally put back to how it should be?

We'll just have to find out.


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