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Part 5: Homebois

It was yet another chapter in the dimensional mishap, and for whatever reason, three of the participants were staying in a concert hall, abandoned by their friends and enemies. These three were Tranq the Penguin, Sneer the Hedgehog, and Elias the Echidna. As soon as the portal had closed with their allies in it, the light began to flicker every five or so minutes.

Sneer sighed, rubbing her forehead. "Well, you think we can get outside from here? It's not like we can do anything else in this hellhole."

"Elias?" Tranq said, motioning towards the controller in an attempt to subtly remind him to activate the remote that had been assumed to have some level of control over the hall's exits (whatever those might be).

Elias frowned, examining the remote. "Hm..." He pressed a button on the remote and a door across the room from them slid open.

"Yes!" Sneer said with a grin. "Freedom at last!" She made her way to the doorway, albeit a bit slower than she would have liked. "So, I wonder where we'll end up." The light out the door shone bright, and the group would be able to hear lots of honking and yelling.

Tranq, halfway through his obligatory fist-pump in celebration of their freedom, stopped when he saw and heard the outside world. "This place looks familiar somehow, but I can't quite place it..." he said. "I guess this isn't a time when I could just ask someone where this is, though."

Outside the concert hall was a busy street. Although the sidewalks were full of people, there was no traffic in the street; there was construction going on.

"Looks like we ended up in a city of sorts," Sneer said with a slight grumble, trying to keep her bearings. A random mongoose pedestrian bumped into her and walked away. "Watch it, lady!"

Tranq was too lost in thought to notice the conversation going on between some nearby construction workers.

"And how exactly are we supposed to find this 'artifact'?" one of the workers demanded, making obvious finger quotes with his three-fingered hands.

"It's supposed to be somewhere in this hole over here..." said another construction worker, scratching his hard hat.

"This hole?" the first worker said, pushing aside the brightly-colored plastic construction barrier to better indicate a nearby rather large hole in a pipe.

"Hey, watch it!" said the second worker, pushing the barricade back. "That's a serious safety hazard!"

"No, you watch it!" said the first, pushing the barricade again. "You nearly knocked me over that thing!"

"Let's take this somewhere else," said the second, dragging off the first through the crowd.

A completely unintended side effect of this was that the barrier was left askew, leaving the hole to the "artifact" unguarded.

Another unintended side effect was that this action of pushing through the crowd caused a chain reaction, pushing a number of other people around, including moving the unsuspecting Tranq directly into the hole (as he wasn't paying enough attention to move out of the way).

Tranq didn't realize his predicament until he was already a bit too far into the hole to be properly pulled out, at which point his startled yell of "Help!" was a bit too late to be of much good.

"Tranq?" Sneer looked around until she noticed the large hole and ran over, bending down once she got to it. "Tranq? You okay kiddo? I'm gonna climb in to let you out!"

Elias stood next to Sneer, frowning. "There's something... off about this hole..."

Sneer looked over at Elias. "What do you mean? It's a giant hole in a pipe in the middle of the city. Of course there's something off about it." She looked back down into the hole. "Tranq? I'm gonna climb down in a second to get you out, okay?"

"I wasn't referring to that, but yes, the fact that the hole is right here is off," Elias replied, his eyes studying the hole. "Sneer... I think there's something down there... and I'm not talking about Tranq..." He walked around the perimeter of the hole a bit, then spotted something. "Hey... there's a tunnel down there!"

"I'm kinda stuck in this tunnel," Tranq said, reiterating what Elias had just said. The echo added a certain sense of length to what Tranq had said, as the word "tunnel" stayed audible (though with diminishing volume) for the next 3.5 seconds or so.

"Can you see anything?" Sneer yelled down to him. "I'm coming down in a minute! Just gotta find a ladder or something..."

"Hey, there's a ladder over here, I think," Elias called. "It's stuck in the dirt, though..." The Echidna, using his cybernetic arm, managed to pull it out- albeit with difficulty.

"Great job Elias! Set it over here so I can climb down and get Tranq out," Sneer said with a nod, standing up from her bent position. "Hopefully he isn't too stuck."

Elias nodded and, albeit with some difficulty due to the ladder's size, managed to set it up for Sneer.

Sneer began climbing down the ladder using one hand on the ladder and the other hand to summon a small flame for visibility. "Okay, Tranq, I'm coming down!"

Tranq, who had been wiggling further into the tunnel in his attempts to get unstuck, called back (now somewhat more faintly), "You two might want to see this. It gets interesting further in."

"Whoa, little buddy, don't get too far ahead of me," Sneer warned as she dropped down into the tunnel and held up her flame so she could follow him.

Elias, hearing what Tranq said, climbed down the ladder into the hole. He then turned to follow Sneer and Tranq, observing the surrounding rock and dirt of the tunnel. Wondering what Tranq meant, Elias peeked over their shoulders to look ahead. His eyes widened with astonishment.

Sneer's eyes also widened, and she tried scratching at the wall with a robotic finger. "Huh. It kinda feels like amber or something," she mentioned with a blink. "Whatever it is, it's not metal anymore. No wonder you didn't want to leave right away," she said, directing it at Tranq with either a grimace or a smirk; you couldn't tell by the flickering flame she held.

"Well, I did get kind of stuck," Tranq said lamely. "This is definitely cool, though." After a momentary pause, he said, "Since we have no clue where we are, should we explore this place—" Tranq stopped abruptly as another thought occurred to him, then continued, "...or maybe find a payphone somewhere to try figure out where in the multiverse we wound up?"

Elias frowned. "Even if we did find a payphone, which is rather unlikely since we're underground now, who would we call?"

"Ghostbusters?" Sneer deadpanned, her flame growing a little. "Look, even if we did find a payphone and call a random number, nobody would answer. They all abandoned us when we said we wanted to stay behind and be rebels."

"If we happened to land in my timeline, there are some people I know," Tranq said, "but I guess the odds of landing in my timeline are pretty low, so we might as well explore." Tranq then started wandering off down one of the hallways of the amber-like material per his own suggestion.

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