YOU WAKE UP IN MANHATTAN, NEW YORK.
➩ You're in the ruins of the Baxter Building. You step out of a glass tube, into a room covered in ghostly decontamination tarps, and are sprayed down with chemical cocktail. Men in white Hazmat suits strip you and take whatever personal belongings you had on you. You're shuttled to a hostel full of other people like you - people from other places, other times, other realities - and you're told that everyone is very sorry that you were chosen. The machine's random, they say. It doesn't discriminate.
Two years ago, someone came through the transporter just like you did, but they took half of Manhattan with them in a rampage. Since then, the machine doesn't discriminate - but the people do.
YOU WAKE UP IN TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, NEW MEXICO.
➩ You're in a research facility deep under the desert. You stumble out of the glass tube, alone, and find nothing but storage boxes full of spare clothing, maps, blankets, and old cell phones. A screen lights up, activated by your presence. A tired-looking man tells you that you've been brought into an alternate reality; take what you need from the bins and try not to get into trouble.
You're marked now, he tells you. A circle or a star is now somewhere on your body.
YOU WAKE UP IN SEATTLE, WASHINGTON.
➩ You're in a high-rise building on the West Coast. A woman in a lab coat greets you, apologizing for the nausea you're feeling and the strangeness of the situation. You're on Earth, but not your Earth - if Earth was ever yours in the first place. She gives you pamphlets and a PDA, telling you that you aren't alone. The boundaries of their dimension are soft and people and things sometimes bleed through. There used to be people like you - powerful people, heroes - but they're all gone.
She won't tell you why.
YOU WAKE UP IN A DIFFERENT WORLD WITH DIFFERENT RULES.
At least you wake up still you.
- This is not your universe. It may look like it, but it is not.
- The first superhuman team to be formed was the Invaders, comprised of the usual crew. They fought together from 1941-1956. Captain America and Bucky were lost in April of 1945, caught in an explosion that left them frozen in the Atlantic.
- Bucky's body was never recovered, but Captain America was found in 1978. His remains were thawed, but he had died in the ice. He was interred in Arlington Military Cemetery.
- The Torch was deactivated and placed in stasis in the Mohave desert in 1949. An attempt to rouse him in 1953 failed.
- By 1956, the last remaining member---Toro, the Torch's sidekick---was dead. Namor disappeared from the human world and there were no more public heroes.
- Heroes became more fiction than reality until 1993, when foreign conflict transformed billionaire Tony Stark into the Iron Man. He gathered a team---Giant-Man, the Wasp, Thor, Hulk, and himself---but they were lost in a conflict in 1999.
- 1996 saw the incident that made the Fantastic Four, and their exploits became international sensations. They, along with the government-funded X-Men---named after their experimental "X" genes and the power they drew from those mutations---were lost in 1999.
- In the year 2000, the distortion machines built by Reed turned on. His notes had been destroyed and he himself was dead, so there has been no way to turn the three sister machines off.
- For the first five to eight years, the people who appeared in the three "soft" points were fully human. They were victims of the machines and were met by an outpouring of sympathy by the American people. As the years passed, the numbers have steadily increased. Instead of a handful of people a year, those dumped in have multiplied exponentially.
- In the year 2008, someone came in through the Manhattan gate and took a large chunk of the city with them. There are mixed views on who or what did it---entire conspiracy novels on the matter---but no hard evidence to be had.
- For the most part, the welcome for these dimensional pilgrims has all but worn out.