FULL SCALE INVASION, PART SEVEN: DOUBLE DOWNER
Para felt nauseous, to the point where her bunny ears drooped. So while she wasn’t “tripping” on the hallucinogenic gas like Alijda, Larry and Bonnie, she still followed them as they stumbled out of the passageway, back into the central hub of the DEO – the Department of Extradimensional Objects.
Para spotted Kat right away. He was running towards the wall furthest from their original entry. But that’s when the lighting in the room gained a red tinge, and an alarm blared briefly.
“Whoa! Call off your goons,” Alijda said, rubbing her eyes. “I’ll figure out why Kat freaked.”
“Didn’t turn that on,” Bonnie said curtly, the older asian woman’s attention going towards the main entrance tunnel. She pointed at Larry. “You deal with these three!”
Bonnie strode off, looking a bit unsteady on her feet. She seemed to be in better shape than Larry though, who had both hands on his head and appeared ready to fall over at any moment. “Candle? Collections? What?” he gasped.
“Let me help you sit down,” Alijda offered. She grasped Larry by the arm and steered him for a desk chair. Then she made a head motion at Para. One which Para was pretty sure meant, go for Kat. So she did. No one stopped her.
Granted, there were other DEO agents in the large area, but the emergency situation seemed to have them preoccupied. The ones on the second floor catwalks were coming down, and the ones on the main level were going for the weapons lockers or the phones.
Para reached Kat as he was feeling around the wall. “What are you doing?”
“Technology,” Kat said. “Larry mentioned magic style items, but also a Macbook, implying at least two worlds feeding artifacts into this one. Yet most of their tech items? Which they seemed to colour code blue? Weren’t in storage. Plus you said they might have a perimeter network.” He pointed to the floor. “And there’s cables feeding into this part of the wall.”
“Oh! So they’re using the technology artifacts? Maybe with a power source back there?”
“Maybe. There must be something.” As Kat’s hand hit a knothole, there was a click, and a door swung out towards them. Kat grasped it and pulled it open.
The region behind was shrouded in darkness. Kat pointed to a nearby desk chair. “Bring that over?”
Para hurried to retrieve it. As she handed the chair off to him, he snapped a leg off, then struck a match he must have had in his pocket. He held the flame up to the wood. Para shook her head. “You can’t light that…” With a whoosh of flame, Kat was holding a torch. “…so easily?”
Kat ducked into the darkness, pulling the door mostly shut behind him. “Keep an eye out, I’ll be right back.”
Para turned to scan the central hub again. Some armed agents were taking up a position near the main corridor, while others were heading into it. Alijda was gesturing at her, in a manner that either meant “hurry up” or “spin in circles” – likely the former.
Para leaned in towards the crack in the wall. “Kat, hurry?”
There was a low whistling noise. Moments later, the door swung back open and Kat stepped out. “Okay, close it,” he said.
Para threw her weight against the door, and it clicked back into place against the wall. When she turned back around, Kat had somehow managed to snuff out his torch. He tossed the burnt chair leg back on the floor, looking troubled. But Para decided there would be time to ask why later.
“Back to Alijda,” the blonde said, grabbing his arm.
Kat nodded, and they both hurried back. Para let out a breath of relief – with the excitement over, her bunny ears were returning to their state of minimized depression. They reached Alijda as Larry pushed himself back to his feet.
“What the hell was that about?!” Larry shouted at Kat.
“Sorry,” Kat apologized. “Had a flashback. A gas canister once attacked my father.”
“Oh. In that case– wait, what?” Larry glared. “Walk. All of you. In front of me. That way.” He pointed.
Once Alijda and Kat were facing away from Larry, Para saw them exchange a glance. Alijda looking… frustrated? Expectant? Kat simply shrugged. Para followed along, their trajectory taking them towards one of the other agents, a woman who hung up her phone as they arrived.
“Mary, have someone get a gas mask and do a quick cleanup outside the medical bay,” Larry ordered. The woman nodded back, reaching again for her phone. “As for the rest of you, keep moving, you’re off this Earth as of–”
“Larry!” an agent cried out, running back into the room. “You’ve gotta come see this.” He hurried up to them.
“Ahem. Joe, I’m dealing with these three. Ms. DuChessy’s orders!”
“Which Ms. DuChessy?”
Larry blinked. “What do you mean which Ms. DuChessy?”
“Come see for yourself. In the break room.”
For a moment, Larry seemed torn between his orders, and going to see what Joe was talking about. Then he decided he could accomplish both things. “I’m not leaving you three here,” Larry asserted. “You’re still off this Earth as of very soon! Joe, follow behind us, and if any of the offworlders step out of line, make sure they regret it.”
“Can do,” Joe affirmed. He eyed them. “No false moves guys, or I’ll read you some of Larry’s poetry.”
Larry, who had seemed about to say something else, palmed his face instead. Para missed whatever he mumbled as he spun away.
The whole group of them backtracked to the room they had been shown earlier, the one containing the pool table and the couch. There were now a few agents with guns there, along with Bonnie DuChessy. Or rather, two Bonnie DuChessys. Larry froze in place, his eyes darting back and forth between them.
“Oh. A shapeshifter?” Kat mused. “Seems like your DEO has a J’onn J’onzz problem.”
Alijda frowned. “Kat, was that a reference? We do NOT do references.”
Larry ignored Para’s friends, instead turning to Joe. “Is one a double? From another dimension, another Earth?”
Joe shook his head. “Doubtful. If so, she didn’t come through recently. We’ve seen no activity today, aside from the arrival of those three. So, are you sure the Bonnie you were with was the real deal?”
Larry turned back to the two Bonnies, who were currently standing and glowering at each other. “I WAS a little surprised she agreed to the tour.”
“What?!” one of the asian women snapped. “It was to deal with these visitors. Something you don’t seem capable of doing alone!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the second Bonnie cut in. “I’ve been tied up in my house all day. Who knows what my double has been doing to our organization??”
Joe rolled his eyes. “The guard on duty out front registered Bonnie Two’s arrival. He sounded the alarm, knowing she was already inside. The doubles encountered each other in the hall and have been sniping ever since.”
“Huh. Is one of them in a wig?” Larry said hopefully.
“Natural hair,” Joe countered. “Similar features. Same outfit.”
Para nearly laughed. “Same outfit?” she blurted. Only to feel embarrassed as most of the eyes in the room turned to her.
“Grey business suit, cut the same way,” Joe said, pointing. “DuChessy has a closet full of them.”
“But…” Para caught herself. No. No, she was NOT going to finish her thought out loud. Not this time.
“But what?” Larry pressed.
Para swallowed, looking towards Alijda. A hint of a smile formed on the face of her first human friend. Then Alijda turned to Larry and the Bonnies. “Oh, look! We know something you don’t know. But we have no incentive to say anything, not when you’re kicking us off your planet before our investigation is concluded. Perhaps you should reconsider that plan?”
“Oh, seriously?” Larry said, frustrated. “I thought you were worried about shrinking away to nothing if you didn’t leave soon.”
“At present? I’m worried about a lot of things. Including your poetry.”
“Larry, let them speak,” Bonnie1 put in. “Maybe they can break this stalemate.”
“Yes, or at least give us more reasons to get rid of them,” Bonnie2 agreed.
Larry clenched his jaw. “Fine. Talk, and we’ll reset our relationship back to how it was before that stunt Kat pulled.”
Para waited. Alijda considered, and then gestured for Para to continue. “Okay,” Para said, smiling. “Second Bonnie’s outfit? It’s more expensive. Same cut, sure, but fits her better, nicer material, and a bit less worn. See, at the sleeves?”
Joe grunted. “I can’t believe we’re being lectured about clothing by a blonde wearing a hot pink dress overtop of a neon pink bodysuit.”
“I know suit jackets, I wear one when I’m in factored form,” Para protested. “And our jumpsuits are density adjustors.”
“More to the point, she’s right,” Larry realized. “No way can Bonnie afford new suits, not on our department’s budget. Someone grab the one on the left!”
“What?! This suit was a gift! I got it last month from my, um, er… aw, hell with it,” Bonnie2 sighed. Two armed men had grasped her by the arms. “Queeny didn’t pay me enough to do such extensive role-play.”
Para was unable to hold back her gasp at hearing Queeny’s name. She felt her cheeks darkening further, to match her outfit. So much for self control. Though it was reassuring to feel Kat patting her shoulder and murmuring, “Good job.”
“Interesting. Seems our head of government disbelieves my reports SO much that she’s stooped to sending in a spy,” the true Bonnie said, pacing slowly around her doppelgänger. “How fortunate that I ended up cancelling my evening plans, and coming down here instead.”
“Score another one for us there,” Kat pointed out. Alijda frowned again.
“Rather remarkable resemblance,” Larry agreed. “Queeny couldn’t find someone like that overnight. She had to be planning this for a while.”
“No doubt,” Bonnie agreed. She completed her circuit, coming eye to eye with her double. “How long has this been in the works?”
Fake-Bonnie rolled her eyes. “I don’t know nearly as much as you think. I’m an actress, I was hired a couple weeks ago to come and do reconnaissance.”
“When are you reporting back?”
Bonnie nodded. “Then you will give me all the details, so I can report in your place. Oh, and we will, of course, hold you here until then.”
“Meaning we throw Actressy in a cell with these three?” Larry asked, jerking his thumb at Para and her friends.
“No, they can stay in this room until the meeting. The couch has a roll out bed.”
“And we get back one communicator,” Kat reminded.
“Oh no.” Bonnie shook her head. “No, you could still have planned this whole charade. We’re not letting you talk with your project, not unless you’re going to leave immediately afterwards.”
Alijda seemed troubled. She eyed Kat and Para before saying, “You’re not getting rid of us that easily. Someone bring us bed linens.”
Less than an hour later, Alijda, Kat and Para were alone in the DEO break room.
Peering through the window in the door confirmed that they were being guarded. “I can keep an eye out, while you two sleep,” Para offered. “I don’t rest quite the same way as you. I mean, they already drew blood, but you never know.”
“I’m not that tired,” Alijda said, after switching on a radio in the corner of the room and tuning it to static. “Here’s the thing. We were supposed to warn them, and go. Instead, it got complicated. And now, we’ve interfered significantly.”
“Have we?” Kat asked.
“Yes! Without us, that spy might not have been caught,” Alijda said. “We’ve affected the whole political landscape. And Alice had us arrive before an incursion – what if our actions here have messed that up?”
“Should I not have said anything?” Para worried.
“No, you did fine,” Kat said. “Alijda, we didn’t have much of a choice in the matter.”
“Maybe we didn’t. But we have a choice now. Namely, should we simply let things play out? Or should I teleport out of here and go warn Queeny about Bonnie?”
Kat’s eyebrows went up. “Whoa! That’s kind of drastic. We could simply help Bonnie2 escape.”
The brunette shook her head. “Please. There’s no WAY we pull that off without the DEO knowing. Then we’d never get our communicators back.”
Para cleared her throat. “Ah, the more we do, the more we might mess stuff up,” she noted. “If Epsilon is about non-interference, doesn’t it make more sense to wait?”
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