"Let's go take a look. Betelgeuse, be ready to close the Corridor and take the kids away. I'll leave the Suburban."
The Mercedes made quick work of the trip back to his townhouse. He cheated and influenced the lights to be sure of that. They walked the Corridor to the lab. The hallway was wide enough for a car, and had vehicle doors at the end, but it wasn't something he did regularly.
The marine on duty directed them to the front door and he phoned ahead to arrange transportation. Their gate and corridor experiments were carried out all over a large facility. The Gate he'd made to an Empty World – a world without humans or other sentient species – was outside the main building, and featured very heavy doors on both sides to keep the mammoths where they belonged. The doors were surrounded by heavy pipe fencing, modeled on the experience of Zoos, to contain any breaches.
Right now, Colonel Vickers had his heaviest weaponry aimed at a light bending phenomenon about a hundred feet beyond the corral. Eldon sat down and closed his eyes, deep breaths, looked at the inbetween. Look down the toothed maw of another power serpent, reaching and trying to grab the substance of the World. Eldon stayed well back, and looked for a cone. Several. He had a nasty feeling this thing was going to be hard to detach it if ever got a good grip.
"They're trying to establish a Gate. I think they are at the farthest reach of their power. Want me to help, hinder or just stand back and watch?"
"Can you track them back home?" Vickers sounded calm and cool. Good for him. He couldn't see the snapping teeth.
Keeping a respectful distance, Eldon traced the path of the serpent as far as he could reach. It was coming from a lone universe, he could trace its history back to a book. A whole different book of the multiverse. Rain of Fire. Of Course. And very glad I am that I wasn't there with Rior and company. The Serpent World had pulled well ahead of the rest of the book in time, and had tentacles all reaching out and down to a different band. Rista's band, no doubt. Odd that they hadn't ravaged their own band first. Or maybe they couldn't keep that serpent close enough? What was Rista's tech level? Perhaps they chose the toughest battles they could win.
"OK. I've got their home. So, now what do I do with it?"
"Come away, and we'll do a recee on the quiet if they quit this attempt."
Eldon stood up and shook himself fully out of his trance. "I wonder if they're using the same co-ordinates Rista put in, or going by the general direction and the presence of a gate? When she came through, I poked the thing – it looks like a big silver snake, magically speaking – and it attached close to my location. I may have thrown the directions off."
The flex and pinching of reality stopped abruptly. Eldon closed his eyes and took a quick look at the inbetween. No snake. Excellent.
"Best all around if they simply don't have the power to get here." Eldon scratched his chin. He needed to shave. Maybe start with a good night's sleep. "If they don't come back, shall we sneak a peek tomorrow?"
Lyle nodded. "I'll grab some personnel and start equipping them. I need to talk to Rista again and ask about clothing. You headed that way?"
"Yeah, and maybe you and your bosses should think about contacting the D-cops."
Lyle bit his lip, but shook his head. "No. Not yet. Umm, if something happens to you, can Betelgeuse find them?"
Eldon blinked. "Do you know, I'm not sure about that. Maybe I'd better open a second Gate. So she and the kids can get home, and you can yell for help."