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30 May 2016 @ 07:44 am
_Aliens and Shifters_ part 4  

Her father appeared suddenly, fairly well uniformed. "Hold this." He handed her an invisible handle and pushed the door open, looked left, no one, looked right, alert sentry standing up, one hand reaching for an alarm button . . . Her stun gun whistled without her realizing she'd fired it. He crumpled, and her father bounded forward to grab him before he fell on the button.

Uma strode up to the door and jerked at it. "Locked."

Her father pulled a long bar from the floating shimmer and applied it noisily to the door jam. It popped open with a splintering sound, bringing the two occupants to their feet.

"Cloak off!" her father hissed urgently.

She dropped it behind her as Corporal Brown blinked uncertainly and then gapped in astonishment. "What are you doing here?"

"Rescuing you, of course." Uma's face felt like it was going to split she was grinning so hard. The grin fell away fast. "What did they do to you?"

Corporal Brown was a bloody mess, but steadier on his feet than Sir Trent, who looked ready to collapse back onto his cot. He grimaced down at his blood streaked bare chest. "Mostly just fun. They didn't need answers."

Sir Trent staggered toward the door as her father entered. He raised his hands, as if to fight, before the ill fitting uniform and non regulation shoes registered.

"Hello," Her father beamed. "I'm Eric Robert Allen, Ultima's father. Call me Erob. Come on out. I want to leave a present behind." He eyed the Brits, and pulled out something that looked like a pen. "I'll need your clothes." He added, waving the pen first at Sir Trent, then at Corporal Brown.

"Out, out, I need room."

Uma hustled them out, shoving the shimmer aside so it didn't get tripped over. "Clothes, hurry." She firmed her lips at them. "I'm a nurse. I've seen it all, and if you don't want me to demonstrate how I've put stitches in it, hurry up." The shimmer slid into the prison room, and as the Corporal and Sir Trent reluctantly shed their pants. She took them and returned to the room. Closed the door behind her.

The cloak was off the floating . . . "Those aren't the dogs?" She shied back in disgust. "What happened to them?" A short while ago they'd looked like some sort of cross between a humongus mastiff and a shepherd, thick and muscular, black and tan . . . now they looked like movie monsters, frozen halfway as they turned into humans. Bare skin, thickening arms, toes lengthening . . . silvery white hair on one head, brown on the other.

"My little machines. It's a bit of a rush, good thing they're stunned or it would be painful. I've just fine tuned their actual appearance. It'll take another hour to finish, then they will look just like your friends. They can be taken out and executed, and we won't have to worry about alarms and people running all over the place." He stuffed one of the dog's hind legs into the English uniform pants and pulled it more or less into place.

"What about the door?" Uma grabbed the other pants and reached for the other dog.

"I'll fix it, it won't be a problem." He heaved his dog onto one cot and helped her with the other.

Corporal Brown and Sir Trent were looking embarrassed in their skivvies///current term?/// but Corporal Brown had the guard's pistol and was standing at the stairway door with it open a crack.

"Can we take this fellow's clothes?" Sir Trent asked. "I heard what you said, but it's not going to work."

"Ha!" Erob was bending over the damaged door jam. "There we go."

"What did you leave in there?" The diplomat blushed as Uma looked his way.

She sighed and pried off the boots and stepped out of the uniform pants. "Here, I look ridiculous anyway. And they're already going to shoot you for spying so it hardly matters." She pulled her skirt down, but the jacket was so big nothing showed.

Sir Trent held the pants up, and shook his head. "Your size, Brown." He tossed them to the Corporal who donned them quickly and returned to his lookout.

Her father stood for a moment scowling at the two men. "Drat. I forgot about sneaking past that fellow upstairs." He pulled out his stun gun and fired twice.

"Daddy!" Uma pounced at his arm.

"Now, Ultima, I couldn't show them the floater or the cloaks. They'll ride better limp anyway."

Uma glared. Even though it was true.

With Corporal Brown on the bottom, and poor Sir Trent, still in his boxers, sprawled rather obscenely over him, and the light pass cloak over them, they tiptoed past the front door guard, and hustled out and away while he investigated the door that had apparently blown open.

It was getting light.

"Will there be enough time for your little machines?"

"I think so." He frowned. "I haven't a clue what those poor dogs will do."

"Poor, my foot. They were huge, and trained to attack." Uma suppressed a twinge of guilt. They were just dogs, and nasty ones at that.

They made it to the truck without encountering anyone.

Uma whipped the cloak off the Brits. "You're sure they are all right?"

Erob shoved all the cloaks in the locker, and lifted Sir Trent to a cot. "You're going to have to help me with the big one. I think I hurt my back getting him on here."

Uma snorted and grabbed his feet. "Can't your little machines take care of that?"

"They will, if I'll stop doing it over and over." He opened the door to the front, but backed away carefully and closed the door quietly. "We have company." He stuck his head in the locker, and three small windows appeared on the walls.

"Do they look authentic?" he asked, "they aren't there on the outside, of course."

Uma looked at the trio of soldier having a smoke beside the truck. "Of course."///prevalence of cigarettes germany wwi?///

"We can leave if we need to," Erob said. "But it would be better if no one sees us."

Uma looked to the other side, nothing but the next truck, and out the back. A few people were about now, and she could see between buildings and out to those fresh looking posts on the firing range. Did she want to see if the canine impersonation worked or not? "Perhaps we should stay until after the execution? It's almost dawn."

"If they realize that those things in the basement aren't people, and start looking for the real Sir Trent, we won't be able to get away without being very noticeable." Erob rubbed his face, then looked at his hands for a long moment. "Not that they wouldn't notice if we left right now."

The camp was coming to life, and the focus seemed to be the firing squad. Uma gritted her teeth as a man carrying photographic///cinemascope-silent movie?/// equipment marched past the truck. "They're making a big deal out of this. I suppose it has been a long time since they had a good scandal to throw in the Brit's faces."

"Seems like a very strange way to make war."

"How do your people do it?"

"Oh, we mostly go into a killing frenzy that doesn't stop until one side or the other is completely destroyed." He grinned, "at least, that's what I've heard. We haven't actually done any such thing for about a hundred and fifty thousand of your years. Now we just deal with the messes left by this germ I was telling you about."

"What kind of messes does it cause? Plagues?"

"Yes, horrible planet wide contagions. It drifts in space, on chunks of primordial material, rocks and ice that are found on the outskirts of most stellar systems. The plague travels from star to star, randomly, as their icy homes escape from one star and are captured by others. If it gets into the inner part of a planetary system, it will eventually drop pieces into the atmospheres of the planets and life on that planet either fights it off like the disease it is, or dies."

"And that's going to happen here?" Uma was appalled at the thought.

"It already did. Hundreds of millions of years ago. It killed nearly all life on Earth, plants and animals. But the ones that did survive are resistant to it, them and all of their descendants. A few traces remain, but not the whole germ itself." He wandered restlessly from window to window. "I put all that in my report to my superiors. And then I faked my death and ran off with your mother."

"Despite her lack of . . . did you say scales and tail?"

"Yes. She fascinated me. Even before you happened. Much to my shock and surprise. That's why I did what I did to you. They would have studied you. And if they decided the actions of the plague bits in your Mother constituted a threat to them." He stopped abruptly for another turn about the truck. "I don't know what they would have done. It's been a hundred and fifty thousand years since we've been threatened. I'd like to think we're better now . . . but I don't know."

"I see. Why did you come back?"

He met her eyes, then looked away. "I had to find out if I'd killed you, fifteen years ago."

"I fell of a cliff into the ocean."

"I threw you off a cliff into the ocean."

"Oh." Uma reconsidered her usual nightmare. ///Freud known in America?/// Was that the monster that stalked her dreams? Knowledge that her father tried to kill her? Well, he hadn't been trying, but very nearly succeeded in any case. "So, will you be leaving then?"

"Yes, I should go back, so they don't trace me here. It's just not _wise_." He hesitated. "If you ever feel this odd tingling twisting feeling, you should plunge your arms under water. Salt water is better than fresh. Copper would work better. I'll make you some sleeves to slip on your arms." He went back to the locker, diving inside.

Uma turned back to the scene outside. The slice of the execution yard she could see was frustratingly narrow. Uniformed backs in stiff ranks marched by and lined up. More relaxed formations marched in behind them, blocking her view. Then they brought out the prisoners. Two men were holding each one erect, the prisoners thrashing and trying to _bite_ the soldiers holding them. The glimpse she caught was brief, but her breath caught at the sight of Mark in a frenzy. Sir Trent's silver haired figure followed.

She turned away with a shudder and checked the real Mark and Sir Trent. "How long until they wake?"

"It should be soon." Her father's voice was a bit muffled. "Maybe we should go. I can get you all back before they wake, and there will be a lot less to explain."

"Somehow I doubt that." Uma looked past his shoulder, "gloves?"

"With copper in them. They should work fine. I'll make several pairs, you can keep them in different places, so they're handy anytime."

Uma smirked at the long elegant 'opera gloves' that were knitting themselves out of thin air with invisible, and apparently very tiny, needles. "May I have one white pair, one black pair and, oh, leave the other copper. That would be pretty. With a scarf to match." She dragged her mind away from the allure of pulling the latest fashions out of thin air, and back to the scene out the back doors.

The smokers were gone, and so were most of the other soldiers. All gone to watch the spectacle. And blocking her view. "I can't see a thing." She complained.

Erob glanced back, and then all around. "This looks like an opportunity." He slid forward and through the hatch. "Still no one looking?"

"All clear."

"Light pass on, and off we go." Erob sounded relieved as the ground dropped away.

"If they can't see us, can we go see what's going on?"

"Certainly." The truck swayed gently and floated low over the camp. The window stretched to cover the whole back of the truck and sound flooded in. They had a band of drummers thumping a dirge, but the yelping screams, growls and barks overwhelmed it.

"Oh, those poor dogs!" They'd been wrestled into clothing and jerked up on their hind legs and were behaving just as one would expect a dog in that position to behave. The 'man' with brown hair staggered the men holding it so that one of the guards came too close to the silver haired 'man'. Silver lunged and sank his teeth into the guard's shoulder, the brown haired 'man' jerked free from his grasp and threw himself on his other guard, who staggered around in a circle trying to keep his prisoner from sinking his teeth into his throat, and tripped the guard holding Silver's left arm, pulling them all down. An officer ordered more men into the melee, that lurched into the photographer and then scattered the drum corp, and then there were two figures running oddly on hands and feet away from the mess, a trail of pursuers, gunshots . . .

The truck rose rapidly at that and Uma lost track of the man-dogs' escape.

"All right, we need to leave these friends of yours somewhere."

Uma hesitated, "In camp would raise too many questions."

"And too close to the front might get them shot."

"Oh, dear, I have to get Mark out of that uniform!" except it was just the pants and boots, she was still in the jacket. She peeled it off and turning to Mark, pulled off the German boots. The pants. "I'm a nurse, I won't blush." She muttered under her breath.

"Perhaps I should whip up some clothing for your young man and his friend." Erob slipped back through the door.

"I'm sure they would be grateful." Disrobing a very large limp young man was awkward, even though she'd had plenty of practice . . . "Are we parked?"

"Hovering. The wind won't blow us very far, and we do want a happy ending to this little adventure. Try these."

They looked and felt pretty much like nice tailored wool suit trousers, except that when she finally managed to get them up over Marks rather nice butt, they stretched for a perfect fit.

The second pair shrank to fit the thinner Sir Trent. She refused to think of him as spindly shanked. Although the description rather sprang to mind.

Marks hands were twitching a bit. "Father? Perhaps we should hurry?"

"Oh, certainly." He handed her two shirts as he passed, "no time for shoes, I'm afraid."

The trunk sank abruptly and they manhandled the men out into a nice dry ditch///check weather///.

Uma sent an anguished look back as she climbed back into the truck.

"All right, now let's get you back where you belong."

The truck floated upwards again, and followed the road to the familiar sight of ///get names of army hospitals and where/how located///. The sun was up and people were moving about. "Maybe you should leave me outside the gates."

"Nonsense." The truck sank suddenly, "come up here, and just step out the door and turn around and act like you just came out of that one there."

"The men's barracks? Please, Dad, that one there will work much better." She pointed to the women's barracks.

"Oh, sorry." The truck leapt like a startled hare over to the woman's barracks.

"Dad, I want to see you again, talk to you. In two days, all right?"

His face relaxed into a beaming smile. "Of course."

She hopped out of the truck, and turned around to see a large distortion rising quickly upward.

"There you are!" ///highest ranking nurse officer/// "And look at the state of your uniform. I _don't­_ want to know what you were doing."

"Umm," Uma trailed off, with nothing to say.

"I hope you have a clean uniform," she looked at her watch. "You are on duty in fifteen minutes." The older woman drew herself up disapprovingly. "If you weren't a good nurse, this would get you sent packing, girl. Get."

"Yes, ma'am." Uma bolted through the door and scurried to her footlocker.

(Anonymous) on May 30th, 2016 10:11 pm (UTC)
Aliens and Shifters
Transport - mostly Horse and cart few cars and trucks
Cigarettes - not until the 30's, people mostly smoked pipes or cigars Clay pipes were very common.
Skivvies or Unmentionables
Freud - set up his practice in Vienna in 1886 published 9 or 11 books before WW1 so probably fairly well known in Medical circles.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on May 31st, 2016 03:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Aliens and Shifters
No, cigarettes were 'in' from 1900 or so.

See the O'Henry stories or

"Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag, and Smile, Smile, Smile" (1915)

"While you've a lucifer to light your fag"

German doctors were the first to identify the link between smoking and lung cancer, which led to the first antitobacco movement in Nazi Germany.[21][22] During World War I and World War II, cigarettes were rationed to soldiers.