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02 June 2016 @ 09:29 am
_Aliens and Shifters_ part 6  

"Is that why I could hear you, down the hallway?"

"Yes, and I could hear you, very faintly. That was clever, trying to make Mark and Trent important enough to keep alive. I'll continue to act like that's true," he frowned momentarily. "It is, isn't it? I do like them. Put your wrists against mine." He held the backs of his wrists against hers for an awkward moment. "Give the little machines a couple of hours to work on the fibers. Then your clothes will go totally light pass if you do the crossed wrists and think 'invisible'."

"Yes. What about Mark and Sir Trent?"

"Take my ring. See the star reflection? I've set the main pointer to your stun pistol, the smaller points to Mark. If I can get to the truck—that was also very clever—I'll be back with light pass cloaks for them and with luck we can just walk out."

"All right." Uma straightened and let her shawl collar drop as she heard more footsteps.

This time the guards escorted them to what appeared to be hastily converted store rooms. The walls were brick except where they were unaltered native stone. The doors were stout and the locks shiny and new. The one she entered was furnished with a bed and a small table holding a pitcher of water, a glass, and a bowl. Further exploration revealed a chamber pot under the bed. The rest of the room was bare. Marks on the floor led her to imagine hasty clearance of crates and boxes. The door opened out so the hinges were unavailable. No hiding behind the door, but . . . She explored the walls of the cave, smooth but ruffled, with irregular niches and she pulled the table over to check out a black patch behind a knob on the ceiling. The crack was…small. She might have been able to fit, if she had been of monkey-like inclination. On the other hand, it did suggest a way out that would minimize a search of the room for a nearly invisible person. A couple of hours, her father had said. She moved the table back to where it had started and replaced the crockery. Fully clothed, she lay down and let exhaustion take over.


Uma didn't wake until she heard the key turn in the lock. Silent guards escorted her to what she suspected were Colonel Von Gruenewald's quarters, and closed her in a nice modern bathroom. She rushed through her ablutions and redressed; the clothes her father had produced from thin air were surprisingly presentable after hiking through woods and being slept in.

Dressed again, she opened the door and followed the still silent guards.

The dining room she was led to was opulently furnished, and except for the lack of windows, could have graced the halls of any mansion on the pre-war continent. ///check social niceties add lots///

"I'll have some suitable clothing sent for, if you are going to remain here longer, Miss Allen." the Colonel seemed appalled to have a woman in pants as a guest. Snob. If he found out her early childhood had been spent on a farm and her later years in an orphanage, rejected by her mother's own brother (speaking of snobs, a single cheap present on Christmas, nothing on her birthdays . . . ) she'd probably find herself washing dishes or scrubbing the floors. _Guess I won't share fond childhood memories with the Colonel, I hate doing floors._

The Colonel was fortunately more focused on Sir Trent and her Father. Mark was very quiet, and von Gruenewald treated him like he was invisible. Chauffeurs apparently should not eat with their betters, even if they were actually spies.

Uma ate steadily through everything that was placed in front of her. Any war time scarcities had bypassed the von Gruenewald kitchen. The food was excellent///find out what the well fed German ate for breakfast.///

After the meal, the Colonel's focus changed alarmingly.

His crocodile smile was turned on Uma and he insisted on giving her a tour of the facilities. She smiled back, just as falsely and made mental notes as she was escorted through what looked like chemical laboratories, and then a small assembly plant, where odd looking guns were being produced.

"These guns are so advanced they will turn the tide of war. We will be destroying your army before they can get within the limited range of their obsolete rifles" ///what was in use?///

"That's very impressive, but what of aerial warfare? I believe///check state of air war at this date///

"However romantic the notion of the late Red Baron and his Flying Circus, aeroplanes are merely useful, not essential. Winners or losers are determined by whose boots are in what territory. The Army///German nomenclature/// will win the war."

"Actually the Allied Armies will win, however I take your point about the relative importance of ground and air power."

What she didn't see was a way out. She wished she had the map, or better yet, that three dimensional illusion of her father's.

She made small talk, expressed interest and tried hard to give away nothing. She glanced at a heavy door with two guards flanking it.

"We are also stockpiling ammunition. Nothing will stop us."

Uma considered the need for a special guard on a munitions dump inside an underground military base and declined to comment. Whatever was behind that door, she suspected bullets were the lesser part.

"If I were of a philosophical bent, I'd speculate on the cruelty of a Universe where war-winning breakthroughs occur only after the war is essentially lost."

"There are always retreats and reverses in war. Only the final results matter."

///historical example ///

"True, but as you mentioned, the winner is the side with the boots on the ground. The appalling death count of this war has put the Axis at a serious disadvantage. Where America has a population of //// and has only recently joined the hostilities, Germany and Austria combined have only a population of /// and have suffered through ///years of intense conflict already."

"Miss Allen, I am going to have to revise my opinion of American women. While I am not in favor of your egalitarian culture, it does seem to produce very capable women."

"Europe is not so backward as all that." Uma countered. "Many of your Universities have enabled brilliant women, such as Madam Curie, to excel in the most demanding professions. Where I see the current educational establishment failing my gender is in not allowing the merely intelligent women to reach their potential."

///More witty repertoire, Uma analyzing VG's culture. Deciding what line to take. Dressing for dinner, hiding old clothes, more repertoire, with Mark showing signs of jealousy///

The problem with her escape scheme was that it necessitated _someone_ opening the door. She probably wasn't going to be able to leave until morning.

She pulled the table under the hole in the ceiling, put her wrists together and thought _invisible_. The deep green sweater and brown pants faded from view. The very unlady-like boots looked like the stone floor. With a delighted grin, she pulled up the cowl to cover her head, pulled down the sleeves to hide her hands and curled up on top of the bed.

First stop would be that guarded door, then she'd worry about escaping from the caverns. Or maybe the stun gun and then Mark . . . She drifted off with visions of capturing the base single handedly.

The clicking of the lock jolted her awake, and sent her scrambling out of bed and into her chosen position against the wall a few steps from the door. How long had it been? Without the Sun she was unable to judge///watches common?///

But the figure in the German uniform and great coat slipped furtively through the door. In the faint backwash of the hooded ///flashlight?/// she caught a glimpse of Mark's profile.

_Visible_ _Normal_ she thought, wrists together, and to her relief saw the sweep of green up her arms. She yanked down the collar and pulled up the sleeves. "Here." she whispered, as the dim light swept over the empty bed. "How did you get out? What's happening?"

"I palmed some things at dinner and picked the lock." he whispered back. "Either something happened or they're incredibly lax, the guards are roaming instead of 'avin' some at our doors." He fidgeted, then burst out, "I can't find Sir Trent or your father. They've taken them somewhere."

"Father's truck?" She eased up to the door and looked out. The hallway was empty. "Can we catch up with them?"

"Can you find the truck?"

"Yes, I was very careful to note where we left it."

"C'mon then."

Mark led her on a circuitous route, only twice did they have to duck into hiding while guards passed. They eased along behind the varied trucks and cars in the motor pool and approached the ramp with caution.

"This'll be the tricky bit." Mark whispered, but Uma was studying a small door behind them. A cold draft was tugging at her hair from the warped edge. She edged it open to find a staircase leading both up and down.

"Looks promisin'." Mark breathed in her ear.

She led the way up, with Mark hard on her heels and trying to look both ways at once. The walls turned from stone to brick abruptly, and then Mark was elbowing into the lead, pistol in hand, to explore the tiny room and ease open the door. He waved her back as he raised the pistol and stepped quietly through the door and she heard the thwack of an impact, then he was back through the door dragging a limp soldier.

"All right, quietly. If the alarm is raised just keep walkin', run for the woods if I tell you to."

Which direction was obvious. The forest had been cut back fifty feet or so, the tall trees still looming over the buildings, but the gibbous moon overhead showed a thin path through the underbrush slightly to the left. She walked steadily across the leaf mulch and thin grass cover and onto the path, Mark following a few feet behind.

"Keep going but look for a good place to leave the path." his voice was soft, not carrying very far. A limestone outcrop gleamed in the moonlight to the right and she stepped up on it, looking back to find the leaf and pine needle covered path too dark to tell if it was marred by betraying footprints.

"We need to get to the northwest," she tried to soften her tones as much as possible.

"Keep going this way for a bit, then we'll circle to the west and then cut north. It'll make it hard for them to find us."

Uma concentrated on staying on rocks and generally moving uphill to the south for a long time. As the moon sank in the west, complete darkness claimed the forest and Mark finally called a halt.

"You must have eyes like a cat," he whispered. He shrugged out of the great coat and spread it on the ground, under the low lying branches of a ////. "We'll stay here until dawn, move on as long as it looks safe."

She crawled under the bush and collapsed, not the least objecting to Mark's comforting arm and comfortable shoulder to lean on. ///romantic interlude. How far to go?///

As soon as they could see in the predawn glow, they were moving again. Westward now. The occasional glimpse into the distance showed the ridge ahead. She figured if they climbed half way, then turned north to parallel the crest they should hit the road very close to where her father had concealed the truck. About five hours of walking, depending on the trails they could find and dare to use.

It took, in fact until nearly sunset as they hid from a few patrols, kept off trails and wove through the rocky terrain. From an outcrop overlooking the road, Uma studied the forest, and finally realized that she was very nearly on top of the truck.

She leaned over to Mark. "Keep an eye on the road, I think the trunk is right down there."

He nodded and edged forward to peer up and down the road. She slid down the boulder and rounded a tree, and there it was, a truck colored just like a rock.

She put her hand to the door and it opened easily. Now, how had the coloring worked?

"Function five, secha, off, dan, or better yet, hur."

"I take it 'ur means black?" Mark asked from just behind her.

"Yes. Come in. Now, how are we going to find Daddy and Sir Trent?"

"Oh, I think they may come to us." Mark slipped an arm around her shoulders for a quick hug, trailing his fingers up her arm and skipping across the shawl collar to tickle her neck. His other hand slipped around the other side of her neck and his fingers pressed gently on her carotid arteries. She had a moment's astonishment that was working towards anger, but she barely had time to twitch before everything blacked out.

ekuah on June 2nd, 2016 02:56 pm (UTC)
Watches were some kind of luxury (or at least moderate wealth).
Highly unlikely a nurse grown up as an orphan would have the funds for a wristwatch.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on June 2nd, 2016 03:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Watches
Give her a fob watch as part of her nurse's uniform ?

There was even a special 'read upside down' nurse's model.
Zan Lynxzlynx on June 2nd, 2016 05:12 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure about the carotid artery trick. About the time it would take, I mean. I think that she'd have more than a moment and time to twitch.