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03 June 2016 @ 06:52 am
_Aliens and Shifters_ part 7  
 

She woke up back in her room. The only change was a stern female of middle years sitting and watching her.

Uma rolled out of bed and stretched, and took inventory. She was still dressed in the green sweater and brown pants. Someone had removed her shoes, they were sitting beside the bed. She sat down and put them on, then wandered over and took a drink of water. Her throat wasn't even sore. One of the benefits of being strangled by an expert.

A traitor. Dear god, he'd been Sir Trent's driver and partner in espionage since before the war. All those tales of espionage came back to her. Turncoats, double agents, bribery and blackmail in the Capitols of Old Europe, and around the world. What was Mark Brown's story? How had he come to this?

She closed her eyes in pain. I am a total idiot.

"What time is it?"

The woman just sniffed, but did rise and knock on the door.

More guards on the other side escorted her to Colonel von Gruenewald and Lieutenant Brown of the /// She eyed him coolly and returned her attention to von Gruenewald without comment.

"Thank you so much for showing us your father's _fascinating_ vehicle."

"Where is my father?" Uma glanced around the room, which was conspicuously missing her father.

"Oh, we thought we'd play the pair of you against each other for a while yet." von Gruenewald showed his teeth is something the generous might have called a smile. Uma wasn't feeling generous. She rather wished her ring pointed at her father, not Mark, but just now she wouldn't even glance at it. _How much do they know? Suspect? Surely not the whole of it. Scales and tails. Magical suits of invisibility._ She'd better wise up and watch out for herself. The absence of her Father and Sir Trent, for instance. Had they escaped? She'd best doubt everything these two men said until she had proof. The truck, for instance. How had they gotten it back to the underground base? Or had they not? Was it just sitting out in the forest refusing to budge?

She smiled sweetly and said nothing. Only safe thing to do.



Chapter Seven

Breakfast was a plate under the eyes of her keeper, who, to her delight left with the dirty dish. She repeated her performance of the previous night, but lay awake and restless. Was it even night? Maybe it was afternoon. Hell, it was probably still morning. How long could she have been unconscious? It had been evening when she found the truck, so maybe it wasn't even morning yet. She ought to be seriously short on sleep, not thrashing around…the key clinked in the lock and she rolled off the bed and stood against the wall, hopefully nothing but an odd shimmer against the rock.

Her nanny was back. The woman took two steps into the room, and Uma dodged out the door as the woman's screech alerted the guards. She ran down the hallway and then flattened herself against the wall as more guards ran by. She remembered the route to the guarded door, but couldn't head that way. Right now she needed a little traveled spot, some place she could dodge and hide. She turned down a side corridor, then another and, dodging more soldiers, found a staircase. The locked door was down . . . She found a natural cave with some crates sitting to the side. Perfect. She climbed up the low stack and sat in plain sight, invisible.

Except for her left hand. She'd put her father's ring on her middle finger, and now she took it off and turned it this way and that. Ha! The pistol was up and over _that way_, Mark, on the other hand, was on the same level as she was, and moving around. She put the ring back on, tucked her hand away and waited. The search parties were suddenly methodical and carrying powerful battery operated lamps///check///. They swept through the cavern quickly and thoroughly, every corner examined, every crate eyed. She stood quietly watching their eyes, but in the wavering light the distortion of the light pass and the thin slit she was looking through must have been unnoticeable. The second team through the room even checked that the lids were nailed down. For them she shifted from crate to crate, but no one looked up. As the search died down, she climbed down and searched deeper down until she found the assembly plant again. The guarded door was across the large cavern from her. She traveled carefully, avoiding the few people working at this, possibly late, hour. The door was still guarded, and she settled down in patience to wait for it to open. She didn't wait long. Colonel von Gruenewald, in full uniform, spiked helmet topping a thunderstorm expression stalked up to it and was admitted. The door moved slowly, as if extremely heavy, but with eerie silence as the guards pulled on it. It was obviously well balanced on a hub a bit off center. It pivoted rather than swung. What secrets could they have down here, that warranted a door worthy of Fort Knox? The Colonel was impatient and strode through before it was fully open. Uma trotted over and looked through, slipped down a short rough passage and dodged to the side as she saw the next cavern was even larger.

She hugged the rough natural walls. The floor was smooth concrete, the racks ahead unfinished lumber, built for strength not good looks. She scowled at the narrow isles in between and detoured to the far left. She could hear voices. The Colonel's was raised in anger, echoing off the stone and unintelligible. The replies were lower, clearer but accented. But the words she caught were in English, and she eased closer, hoping to eavesdrop.

She hunched over to keep her distortion below the level of some laboratory work tables, then edged around the end of one to get a look at the other man.

Or . . . not man. Whatever it was, it was hairy, winged and loomed over the tall Prussian. The back limbs were jointed like an ordinary mammal, a dog or cat, then the shoulders had an odd double joint on each side, the lower limb rather arm-like, the upper limb was clearly a wing, folded and bat-like. The arms took the creature's weight and it reached out with a hand located halfway up the winged limb to take something from von Gruenewald. It sat back, dog-like on the hind limbs and all four of the fore limbs manipulated the object. It was pointing out something to von Gruenewald, and she listened carefully.

Distance and echoes defeated her efforts. Von Gruenewald took the object, it looked like the breech of a gun, a large one, and after more discussion, the man turned and left.

Uma didn't try to follow. She stayed and watched . . . the alien. It didn't look at all like her father's pictures of his own people—no scales or tail.

There was a bit of a muzzle, cat-like, but on a neck about two feet long, no tail, quite evident due to a total lack of clothing. Bat? Pterodactyl? Well, neither had six limbs, nor the obvious intelligence this critter was showing.

So, her father was one sort of alien and this oversized bat was another. Did her father know about the bats?

How many bats were there, and why were they helping the Axis? Could she sabotage either the weapons or the alliance?

She walked carefully and quietly around the cavern, looking over everything. There was a lot of equipment lying on shelves. It had, despite its obviously alien origins, an air of junk. Of dismembered, used parts. And in the far corner, the jackpot. An odd squat . . . thing. Vehicle. A fat airplane, or maybe a sub-marine; it look at bit like a sting ray. Much bigger than a biplane, triple the length with a fatter body. The surface was smooth and cool to the touch. White; painted metal she decided. Wouldn't the metal make it too heavy to fly? The door had been pried open; the damage obvious, the door gaping open. She craned her head and couldn't spot the bat. She climbed up on the low trailing edge of the thick short wing and peered inside.

Dangling wires and rough edged holes explained all the shelves full of equipment. _So, Mister Bat, the Germans captured you and your plane and they are studying you and your machines. If you are helping, it is probably with the hope of escaping from them._

_I need to find my father_

She didn't hear the door opening, but the Bat suddenly looked that direction. She shifted on the wing until she could look down a row of shelves. A large party of soldiers had entered the cavern. They spread out methodically and searched. Uma climbed carefully to the top of the plane and waited quietly as they swept through, climbing up and searching inside the plane, but only giving the smooth white top a cursory glance.

How had they gotten this huge plane in here?

She remembered her father's three dimensional display. There had been three openings to the caverns. The small one they had planned on using, a large one high on the mountain, and the one they had been marched through.

From her high perch she could see the back half of the cavern. No other openings. Her eyes rose. Directly overhead, metal panels covered a sizable chunk of the cavern roof. How they had lowered the plane down here from where they had captured it she had no idea. But here it was, and the bat alien was well and truly stuck.

The searchers formed up and marched off. The bat came into sight, walking on four legs with von Gruenewald following. When he got to the plane the bat reared up on his hind legs and stroked the nose of the plane.

"You primitives are fools. A space ship falls into your hands and all you can think to do is ruin it. 'Give us your weapons' you cry, when you could have had the stars. I have helped you all I can. Let me die in peace."

Die? Had the bat said he was dying? She looked at her Father's ring. Her pistol was still 'up' and Mark was as well.

Could she change what it pointed to?

"Oh, I don't think it's time to die." von Gruenewald ran his eyes over the plane with a proprietary air. "I've received a new shipment from Berlin, we'll just have to see if we've eliminated the amino acids that are poisoning you."

Ah. Yes, an alien diet _would_ differ from human requirements. She wondered if her father's diet was also different. No doubt his truck could produce whatever was needed, but where was he, and where was the truck?

"I'll send you supper shortly." von Gruenewald gave the bat a stiff smile and departed. The bat patted the plane again, then sagged and drooped off on four legs, even his wings looking limp and defeated.

Uma waited until von Gruenewald's footsteps faded and she thought she heard the door close, then spoke softly. "Where are you from?"

The bat spun clumsily, staggered a bit. "Where are you now?"

_In for a dollar, in for a dime_ Uma slid down to the wing, and slipped off the low trailing edge. _Visible._

Green flowed over her arms, showing her crossed wrists.

"I'm here. I'm an American, on the other side of this conflict, as you probably know, since you speak English." She walked up to the bat, and looked _way_ up at him.

"We've listened to your primitive radio broadcasts." the bat said, "And analyzed your languages.

"How many kinds of intelligent beings are there?" _do you know Father's people?_

"You are the first we have found. We have only fifty of your years ago started exploring the stars. We have found eight planets we can live on, yet yours, with an intelligent race, is the one that fascinates us."

_Doesn't know Daddy_

"Are you helping the Axis on purpose," she glanced back at the plane, "or out of necessity?"

"Desperation." The short muzzle swung back to the plane. "Foolishness. We were so determined to not interfere. We were all so sure of our technological superiority." His head jerked up and down in an exaggerated gesture of, perhaps ruefulness? "I was shot down by a biplane spitting little metal pellets at a pathetically slow velocity. They weren't even shooting at me, but they twisted and turned, and one of them shot almost straight up. The pellets shorted out my invisibility."

His wing hands swung forward to clasp over his eyes. "Then, a suicidal fool _hit_ my space plane with his little kite. To bring me down was more important than his life. I tried to come down low enough for him to drop off, but another plane dropped onto one wing and tipped me." He gestured up at the ceiling. "I hit the ground and it collapsed, some under me, a lot on me. I could not escape. They pried me out and," he waved around the cavern. "Here I have been since."

"From what I understood, you cannot eat our foods?"

"Some are not bad, but incomplete, and some, I think, have things I should not eat. They have brought biologists and doctors in to see me, to poke and prod. So I eat a little, hoping to neither starve nor poison myself. I cannot keep it up for much longer."

Uma took a deep breath and leapt into the deep end. "I will help you, as much as I can. In return I want drawings of what you have already given the Germans. Not more, not less. Then leave us alone, to find our own solutions."

"Gladly, but what can you do?"

"At the moment I'm not sure. I need to get back to my equipment and my friends, then I will be better able to know what, if anything, I can do." She looked up at him. "Don't give up and die."

The bat collapsed downward, which put his head on her level. "I will wait, and hope."

 
 
 
ekuah on June 3rd, 2016 01:29 pm (UTC)
Two things:
First. Fort Knox was an ordinary Army Fort during WWI. Not worth knowing or mentioning.
The 'United States Bullion Depository' was constructed since 1936, well after the first World War.
Maybe you could use 'Kings George's treasure vault' instead?
(George V. King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, Emperor of India 1910-1936)
Second, and this is just a suggestion, you could use a 'Petromax' as a extremely bright search light.
If you want a German battery operated lamp you could use a 'Daimon'.
But I don't think they were really powerful, because portable electrical lamps were only invented about 10 years prior.


Edited at 2016-06-03 01:38 pm (UTC)
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on June 3rd, 2016 02:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Two things:
Vaults of the Bank of England perhaps
(Anonymous) on June 3rd, 2016 02:32 pm (UTC)
Axis
Axis was the name given to the opposing powers in WWII - not WWI.

Andrew Ramage
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on June 3rd, 2016 02:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Axis
Yep, so not Axis but Triple Alliance (Russian Empire, the French Third Republic, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland were the Triple Entente)
ekuah on June 3rd, 2016 03:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Axis
Yeah, the military alliance between Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria was called 'Central Powers' or 'Mittelmächte' (lit. Middle Powers)
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on June 3rd, 2016 09:22 pm (UTC)
=="We've listened to your primitive radio broadcasts." the bat said, "And analyzed your languages.==

Standard SF trope but an anachronism here.

Not much radio and nearly all of it morse code.

(wiki Aviation_communication)
In June 1915, the world's first air-to-ground voice transmission took place at Brooklands, England over about 20 miles. Ground-to-air was initially by Morse code but it is believed 2-way voice communications was available and installed by July 1915.

The first true vacuum triodes in production were the Pliotrons developed by Irving Langmuir at the General Electric research laboratory (Schenectady, New York) in 1915.
matapampamuphoff on June 3rd, 2016 11:45 pm (UTC)
The story takes place in the September to November 1918 time frame. I'm going to presume they've got enough from the early bits pick up enough English that the Germans found it more convenient to speak English with the captured Alien, no doubt expanding his vocabulary with time.

Of course the Bat's been there long enough for the weapons to go beyond prototyping . . . Grr!