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matapam
16 May 2018 @ 08:01 am

Chapter Two

Eldon yawned and stretched, easing out of his half-lotus meditation and only registered the woman at the last second. His reflexes saved his neck –literally. And his guts, his knee, his . . . "Hey, what the hell are you trying to kill me for? Oww! Shouldn't we at least introduce ourselves first?"

She just tried to get through his guard, to back him up to something he couldn't turn into a shield.

"Hi, I'm Eldon. How do you do? Shall I assume you're a D-cop? Look, are you trying to, like, impress Xen?" He took a flying leap off the couch and got through the door of the laundry room and slammed it in her face. He didn't try to defend it, just leapt though the garage door and dived through the Corridor to the New Jersey lab where scientific types tried to analyze and replicate what he did magically. The place was deserted in the middle of the night, but had guards. No nonsense Marines. Eldon bolted down the hallway aiming for the nearest guard post. Alarms were ringing all over as he skidded around the corner.

"Tasers! Tasers! Don't kill her, we need information!"

The marine on duty produced the requested taser and Eldon belly flopped and slid on the slick floor. The taser fired over his head, and he rolled just in time to see the woman duck back out of sight.

The marine, of course it was Ernie, jogged down to the corner and took a quick peek. "Gone. Geeze, Eldon, I've heard about all the women chasing you. I didn't know they were trying to kill you."

Eldon stood up and tried for dignity. "This is the first one that had mayhem in mind . . . er, actually about the fourth, now that I think about it. Oh, oww. Damn. She was good. Ungodly fast. I guess I must have been conspicuous at the fire, or something. But why kill me?" He trotted back, shaking himself up mentally. He needed a physical shield and a stun spell. No more karate stuff. He pounced through the Corridor. The garage was empty, but he heard the faintest creak from above and tossed the stun spell. Thud, slide, thump. He hit the button to raise the garage door, and there she was. Out cold. Hopefully just from the stun, not from falling on her head.

"Eye-witnesses at the fire said she was with two kids. I suppose we'd better look for them."

***

Rista first became aware of the restraints. Then the subdued lighting, cool air, rather stiff mattress. She didn't feel drugged. She supposed that would come later. She opened her eyes a slit and got an uninformative white ceiling. She turned her head and heard the immediate buzz. I'm being observed. They've notified the Cy that I'm conscious.

The two men who walked in were obvious from the northern latitudes, pale hair and nearly pigment free skin. The older, nearly bald one spoke first.

"Good morning. I'm Doctor Harkness. Let's just take a look at your eyes. You hit the ground pretty hard last night." He shown a light in her eyes, flicking it around and nodded in satisfaction. "But apparently not head first."

One of the dozen Bündniss languages she'd learned. Damn, damn, damn. She'd dumped the kids on a World with at a minimum, a significant Bündniss presence. Dimensional shortcuts on the surface, a science center of some sort, and now medical facilities and personnel. She froze suddenly as the significance registered. What were they going to do to her? Did they realize she was a half breed? Was this doctor skilled in creating the Cyborg soldiers the Bündniss depended on?

The other man stepped up. He was perhaps in his early thirties, fit muscles under a formal suit of some sort. "If you will not attack anyone we can remove those restraints. Do you understand me?"

Out of the restraints would be a good first step toward freedom. She nodded cautiously. "I spike Anglish."

"Will you refrain from attack?"

She nodded again. "I vill." Until it will be useful.

"I'm Lyle Hemmingway, of the Department of Homeland Security. Before we start, I want to read you your rights."

How amusing. They pretend to give a prisoner rights.

She listened to the list. The right to remain silent. Very amusing. And a lawyer. One of their own choosing, no doubt.

"Would you like a lawyer now?" He produced some short clippers and snipped the plastic restraints as he spoke.

"No. Thank you," she added. Might as well start out polite.

"Early eye witnesses put you in the company of two children. Are they somewhere safe, or do we need to actively hunt for them?"

Damn, damn, damn. She remained silent. As soon as Jau asked for help these people would have them.

"All right. You were first seen at the site of an odd hole in the ground and a truly impressive fire, apparently associated with an explosion sufficient to blow in the windows of the building. Would you like to tell us about that?"

She could have cried in frustration. To have landed in an urban area! Of all the horrible luck. And the blow back from the Portal overlap had been impressive, and brought the authorities and the Cyborg in minutes.

She didn't say anything. Closed her eyes for a long moment, and put all that behind her. She had to get free and find the kids fast. She sucked in a deep breath, opened her eyes and sat up. She surveyed the room quickly. A closed door in one corner. "Toilette?"

"Bathroom. Go ahead." The other man stepped back politely. She'd nearly forgotten the doctor. He had been observing her questioning, such as it was.

She opened the door, and found something that resembled a Bündniss privvy, the whole tiled so the back half could be used as a shower without a curtain.

She took care of immanent personal business, and unobtrusively checked every hidden weapon and tool she'd carried. All gone.

Why did I even follow the Cy? I should have turned the other way and kept walking.

She walked back into the other room, trying hard to stuff despair away. What time was it? Had the kids even woken up? If they searched her pack they'd find food. But the pack was heavy. They couldn't carry it. Would they dump everything and take just the edibles?

Back in the other room the Homeland Security Agent . . .

"Vhat county is dis?"

"This is the United States of America. While we are aware of the Multiverse Embassy, we have not contacted it, and thus do not have a specific name for our Earth."

She stared at him for a long time. "Are jou not vith da Drei Mächte Bündniss? Do Jou know ov a group in da uberverse dat could stand against da Bündniss?" Something painfully like hope leaped in her breast, only to come crashing down as the Cy walked into the room.

She backpedaled, put the bed between her and the Cy.

"No. Juve already solt out." The let down was painful.

Hemmingway turned to the Cy.

"What do you think, Eldon?"

"That's she's very hard to read, and whatever she's running from, it's not the D-cops. In fact it sounds damned serious. I think you guys really ought to bring them in on this. If this drei thing follows her here you could be in trouble fast."

"Jou claim to not beink one ov dem."

The Cy looked at her and nodded. "Whoever you enemy is, I'm not one of them."

"Jure an Alliance cyborg."

He looked indignant. "Am not!"

She barely refrained from a childish retort and studied him. He was half a head taller than Hemmingway, medium pigmented skin, pale blonde hair, blue eyes. Classic Master Race genetic engineering, right down to the over done chin and cheekbones and arrogant arch of nose. Well, the skin pigmentation was a bit dark. Perhaps he was a halfbreed.

He looked over at the Federal Agent. "I could try and get a gate to Embassy. Throw her through and let them sort out who this Bündniss is and . . . is it attacking between parallel Worlds, or is it just on your World? How long has your World had transdimensional travel?"

"Ve don't. Dey, jou, do."

"Umm, your 'they' and me are separate."

Hemmingway stepped in. "You called them the Drei Mächte Bündniss. That sounds like German. The Three Powers Alliance, I think that would translate to. What three powers?"

She frowned. A history lesson might be useful, if he was genuinely ignorant. And it certainly wouldn't be giving away information. "In der world, der history vas diverent dan ours. All da Germanies vere a single country, under a leader named Hitler, da Marxists took ofer Russian, and captured parts of Eastern Europe – Germany took da remainder -- and da Japanese Empire joint them."

"Ouch." The Cy winced. "From what I've read, that's two of the worst governments ever, and the Japan of that era wasn't all hearts and roses, either."

"Yeah. Where did your own World's history diverge from theirs?" Hemmingway asked.

They don't know who I am, who the kids are. Where we are from. Of course. They don't have contact with Home. Her hopes soared at the possibility that she'd damaged the portal enough to limit contact with remote outposts.

The Cy sighed. "She's not going to give out any information about her home. They must be under attack."

"Right. Come talk to me." They left, but the doctor stayed.

"You've got some bad bruises. Would you like a pain killer? Perhaps some ice packs? How did you get those?"

"Iz would be good. I fought da cyborg. I tought I could kill it, but I was wrong."

"Cyborg? These Drei Mächte people have actual cyborgs?"

"Yes. Djene engineered and den mechanic enhanced."

"Humph. Eldon's genetically engineered, but otherwise normal. Well, normal's not quite the right word . . . "

"Jou admit he's a cyborg?"

"Certainly not. All his parts are home grown. Fascinating society. They call all the mental effects 'magic' and call themselves wizards and witches."

She felt her face drain of blood. "A mentalist?" I gave the children away! No. Wait. He said I was very hard to read. Of course the likelihood he was telling the truth is low.

"Yeah, you could call him that, I suppose. Oh, hey, do you mean to say you are the one who beat him up? He's got bruises on his bruises." The man actually grinned, like the Cy was a friend and him getting beaten up was a joke.

She growled in irritation. "He iss tricking jou."

The doctor smiled. "I'll let you sleep, or whatever you feel like. The door will be locked, and you are being monitored . . . will you tell me your name? No? How about a nick name?" He glanced at her hair. "Blackie?"

"Dat iss a dog name. Jou may call me Rista."

"Rista. Right." He left her alone at last and monitored or not, she searched the room thoroughly. Nothing obviously useful.