The clicky rattle of the scintillation thingy over-rode the first arriving Fed's anxious requests that she come away from what was apparently a scene needing expert evaluation.
She turned off the machine. "Will you be quiet? What if they're keeping the park under observation? You're a bit obvious . . . Malloy, isn't it?"
"Yes, Ma'am. Now please . . . "
"I'll come if you'll stop looking so much like a federal agent. Relax. We need to find out where those men went from here. I assumed they just jumped back through the gateway, but maybe they didn't. One of you lot needs to go talk to . . . Lord! You'll scare them. Maybe I'd better ask if the Bad Guys went back to Fairy Tale Town or if they're still here, somewhere."
"The two women who saw the cyborgs jump out of the gateway." She dumped the geiger counter in the passenger seat of the car. "They own the New Age Crystal Cavern on second street. Now, I think I'll go home and pack for a longer stay. Might even bring the horse."
He looked skeptically at the minicar but didn't say anything.
On the way through town she spotted a sign for vacation rentals and walked in and asked for a list, and received that and a map. Perfect.
They came for them four days later.
"Ve haf a beutivul place to keep jou until Eldon comes to rescue jou."
"Great." Tiffany growled a bit. She was clean and well fed, but bored to tears and damned tired of putting on a strip show every morning when her captors turned on the shower for about half an hour. Brian's shower did likewise, so they got the not terribly erotic experience of trying to not watch each other shower, while the cyborgs oogled without shame.
One of the creatures grabbed her upper arm and led her down the hall. Brian was right behind her.
"If I ever find this Eldon, I'm going to kill him." Brian sounded quite determined.
"I'll give you an alibi, any time you need one." Tiffany looked back for a second, then forward, to try to see where they were going this time.
Back to the circular room. This time it was broad daylight, and the half of the circle that was windows looked out at a grassy slope dotted with spreading oak trees. It was actually quite pretty, when you could see it properly. They were pulled over near the window wall and turned to watch. Long metal arms reached toward the middle of the room, a slightly raised platform had a strip across it of prickly things like antennae sticking up from it. Low in the middle, taller to the sides, outlining the base of a vertical circle. The arms moved in and completed the circle. Ball lightning crackled in the center and spread open like a wreath. She was yanked forward and tossed into the darkness in the center.
Two other cyborgs caught her. It was night. Outside somewhere. Her green ensemble didn't actually glow in the dark. Brian came flying through the crackling circle, four cyborgs followed. From this side she could see the sunny slope and the trees in the center of the lightning wreath. Talk about false advertising! The lightning wreath shrank and disappeared.
There were cars waiting for them. The cyborgs put her in one and Brian in another. In the middle of the back seat, bracketed by armored shoulders. They wound through a touristy looking place, like a ski resort in mid-summer. Huh. She'd heard the snow was late this year. Maybe it was a ski resort. She eyed the door latch.
The cyborg on that side stuck his elbow out, pinning her against the cyborg on the other side. She slumped. He relaxed. She jumped for the door latch, and caught the returning elbow in her ribs. The cyborg snickered.
By the time they got out, inside a dingy warehouse, she was breathing normally again. "I ought to breath on you." But she kept her voice quiet.
There was circle in the middle of the warehouse. Inside, two cots and what looked like it might be an actual bathroom. With semi-privacy. They were pushed inside the circle.
"Don't cross the circle. Don't even get close."
Tiffany rubbed her sore arm, and stepped toward the circle. "Or wha – eep!" She jerked away as sparks leapt off something less substantial than a sheet of glass and delivered a small shock to her nose. She hustled into the bathroom. For better or worse, there was no mirror.
Prissy walked into her apartment and stopped dead.
"Hey Cheekbones, did I leave a horse around here someplace?"
"Eldon! Eldon, where have you been! They kidnapped Brian and Tiffany! They're using them to set a trap for you!"
"What? The D-cops? They wouldn't."
"No, no, the other ones. The cyborgs with the ugly metal things. They came back. Zeus and I got away, but they got Tiff and Brian." She looked at him, suddenly uncertain. "Will you help?"
He huffed out a breath. "Sounds like I'd better." He looked at the door. "There's about ten men about to break your door down, why don't you open it and step aside. We can get the official threats and stuff over with."
She opened the door and stepped aside.
Hawkins was first in, then Jenner and Malloy and all the rest. Hawkins must have been listening in because he just joined the conversation. "So, you're going to help?"
"As much as I can. There's only one of me and they've got about three armies, last I saw. And probably more. One Agent from a World they're just finishing off said they already had ten Worlds under their control, and were moving on five more. So I suppose it could be eighteen armies or something. I suppose." He sounded uncertain. "I could put you in contact with the D-cops."
"Those would be the people who grabbed Miss Valaskovitch and Mr. Keller, thinking they were you and someone named Eppie?"
"Epee. Like the sword. She's got long blonde hair, too. Yeah. The D-cops, or Disco. Department of Interdimensional Security and Cooperation. They're, umm, actually a small elite group. For something like the Drei, they get help from the other worlds. Finding and stopping this sort of thing, it's what they're for."