FULL SCALE INVASION, PART ELEVEN: FIT FOR A QUEENY
“Go on without me.”
“Not happening,” Kat answered.
“My shrinking legs are too goddamn short to keep up!” Alijda said. “I’m going full tilt, and you’re practically walking!”
Part of Kat’s brain suggested he say ‘Would you like me to carry you?’. But the rest of him knew that was less than funny, so instead he countered with, “Being a couple minutes later than Chris and Para won’t make any difference.”
“You don’t know that. At this point, I’m a liability. I can’t even teleport without potentially making it worse!”
“Well, I’m keeping my eye out for a skateboard.” Kat wondered belatedly if he should have filtered that thought too.
“Fine,” Alijda said, stopping to put her hands on her knees. She took in a deep breath. “Forcing your hand. Gotta catch my breath. You keep going.”
Kat stopped too. “Sorry, not letting you out of my sight. We need you on this mission. No matter how much you might wish we didn’t.”
Her hands curled into fists. “Right, because I’m doing a HELL of a job with non-interference. What with allowing Para to tell the Magic User’s Club about the third big breach, leading us to this!”
“I see our actions with the magic club as levelling the playing field against the DEO. Besides, it was me and Para who convinced Chris to do the spell to reach Alice. You kept quiet about it.”
“I could have overruled you. SHOULD have overruled you. My shrinking doesn’t really matter.”
The brunette shot him a look. “Stop WHAT? Being a depressive bitch?”
“No…” He found himself searching for the right words. “Stop hating yourself.”
“Oh, because it’s just that easy. Thanks for that life tip.” She resumed running, perhaps hoping to end the conversation.
Kat wasn’t willing to let the topic simply drop. Not now that he’d managed to articulate what had been bothering him. Hell, it had been bugging him long enough that he hadn’t even considered hitting on Chris.
“You’re harder on yourself than you are on us,” Kat said, matching her pace again. “Why? I want to get you, but I don’t.”
“Yeah, sure, I know how you ‘want to get’ me. Is it more of a turn on for you now that I’m the size of a midget? Or does that kill the mood?”
Kat clenched his jaw. “That’s not fair. To either of us.”
Alijda glanced at him, then away. “Sorry. Still, maybe don’t bribe women to eat with you right off an introduction next time, it sets a certain tone.”
“While abduction doesn’t? But okay, okay,” Kat said, as Alijda drew in another deep breath. “Sometimes I have a one track mind, and that was a bad track to start out on. But don’t change the subject. I do want to understand you.”
“What’s the point? We’ll be going our separate ways soon enough.”
“If I can understand you better, I might be in a better position to help like minded people on my Earth. Or maybe I’ll learn something more about myself. Alijda, don’t dismiss this. Please.”
Alijda ran her fingers back through her hair, sweat beading on her forehead as she continued to run down the city street. “Look, there’s nothing to understand. For whatever reason, you seem to think I’m pretty on the outside – except on the inside, I’m really frigging ugly.”
“I steal. I hack technology. I cut corners when I don’t want the rules to apply to me. I have a bunch of enemies, and no friends to speak of. Moreover, whenever I think maybe, just MAYBE life’s getting better, reality beats me down with nonsense like my shrinking away to nothing. The multiverse is trying to tell me something.”
“That you have the determination and drive to succeed against overwhelming odds?”
“Ha! If this is success, I’d hate to see failure.”
“Alijda, I think failure is when you give up. I hope you don’t. Your moral compass doesn’t seem completely out of whack, and I’m starting to believe that meeting you is the only bright spot for me in this whole crazy mission.”
Alijda glared. “You seem to have forgotten to shut the hell up when it comes to concern for my welfare.”
“I didn’t say I was concerned about you. I said I hope you don’t give up. Also, news flash, you don’t get to control what I tell you.”
“Mmm. Hmph. We’re nearly there.”
Again she was deflecting, but it seemed like he’d given her something to think about. As she had with him – namely, his first impressions needed work. Kat decided not to push the point further.
They rounded the last corner, on their jog towards the outskirts of town. The motel sat there, in the middle of the block, with members of the Magic User’s Club standing around on the front lawn. Chris seemed to be arguing with Tom. Not a good sign.
Kat figured asking Para for an update was a better plan than interrupting the spell casters. “What did we miss?”
Para frowned. “Um, Chris is upset the others didn’t do a magic sweep during the setup. She told Tom to do one now, to find Alice’s package. Tom said that’ll interfere with said setup. Chris said no, that’s an excuse for it not being set up properly in the first place. We’ve reached the point where Tom is saying Chris can take her oboe and jam it up her–”
“Is there anything we can do to help them?” Alijda interrupted.
“I don’t see how,” Para said, wringing her hands. “Chris said that Alice said that the stuff would be found with magic fu, yeah?”
Alijda grimaced. “We are lacking in that. But we know about the dimensional issues.”
“Right, Alice would have to shrink a package down,” Kat offered. “Granted, by now it’s ‘acclimated’, to use Larry’s term – might be why Alice had to send it back in time in the first place – but maybe it can be identified in some other way.”
Para tilted her head. “Except, what if the DEO got to it before it acclimated. Maybe THEY have the package right now!”
Alijda shook her head. “If they had it, I think Bonnie would have asked us about it.”
“But what if it didn’t exist back then? Not until we contacted Alice! And so Bonnie DID ask us, but it’s in this new timeline, rather than the old timeline we remember?”
Alijda stared, then struggled to speak, settling on, “Stop that.”
“The magic users said they use a fairy mirror to track these things, right?” Kat noted, feeling the need to escape from the causality conversation as well.
Para nodded. “So could THEY have the package, without realizing?”
“Let me check.” Kat headed for Michaela, deciding not to get between the increasingly rude gestures that Tom and Chris were making at each other. “Hey, question for you – when did this motel register as your weakest dimensional spot in town?”
The redhead rubbed her chin. “About five days ago, I guess? But these spots can register for months before anything actually comes through. We try to wander by whenever we can, so that we can be the first ones to get any objects. Or, you know, to actually see a breach.”
“So you haven’t picked anything up in the last five days?”
“Nah. Besides, the mirror usually shifts to a new weakest area after an incursion. That’s our key to really comb through a location – after it changes.”
Kat blinked, as a thought occurred. Namely, if someone wanted to track dimensional portals, and didn’t have the means to do it themselves… the next best thing would be to track those who DID have the necessary technology. Or magic. Right?
He wondered if Alijda’s paranoia about the government was rubbing off, but considering it from a military point of view, it also made sense.
“Your club – it’s hardly a secret, is it? I mean, Chris was doing spells for hire.”
Michaela gestured vaguely. “We don’t advertise the club. But people know we’re among the few who have magical abilities, sure.”
Kat motioned for Alijda to join them. “Could the government be tracking you, and through you, these breaches?”
“Why bother? The DEO has their own technology to do it.”
“I didn’t say the DEO. I said the government.”
Michaela blinked. “What – you think Queeny’s monitoring us separately? But then why call attention to it by hiring Andi? Unless she hoped to learn more about the glamour we used, to help with the resemblance to Bonnie.”
“You used a…” Alijda cut herself off. “Kat, government involvement makes total sense. Do you think Queeny has been tracking artifacts too?”
“Maybe QUEENY has the package,” Para said, having approached along with Alijda.
“It’s a setup!” came a shout from across the street.
Kat turned, and was as surprised as Michaela to see Andi running towards them. She was still recognizable, despite having changed out of Bonnie’s business suit into a flowery dress.
“My meeting with Queeny,” the older asian gasped. “It was moved here, why here, cuz they’re gonna take your stuff, so get outta here, run…!”
“Excellent! You’ve arrived!” came yet another voice, this one substantially louder.
Kat spun again, this time seeing a woman dressed in a red silk dress marching out of one of the motel rooms, holding a cone up to her face. She was flanked by two men in dark suits, presumably some sort of security detail. As if that wasn’t enough to give away the new woman’s identity, the amethyst crystal she wore on her head like a crown clinched it.
Behind them, Chris leaned towards Tom, their earlier disagreement apparently forgotten as she muttered at him, “Why does she always have a megaphone?”
“We can hear you just fine, Queeny,” Michaela pointed out.
“Shut up,” Queeny said, not putting the cone down despite being a mere two metres away from the redhead. “Now don’t worry, I don’t want your trinkets today. What I want is Bonnie’s reaction to…” She paused. “You’re not real Bonnie. You’re my Bonnie. Did you escape using magic?”
“I’m not telling,” Andi said. “Unless you pay me, or give me back my PROM.”
“Hold the phone,” Kat protested. “How does Queeny even know about Andi having been captured?”
“Queeny must have a spy in the DEO,” Alijda said, rubbing her forehead. “Meaning the government didn’t need the Bonnie double. It was a ruse to lure out someone with magic.”
“Shows what you know!” Queeny sputtered. “I needed the double, my spy isn’t competent. Also, if you three are you’re who I THINK you are, you’re going to jail!” She snapped her fingers and motioned to the two men in suits.
“Oh, you do NOT want to start that now,” Alijda said. Kat recognized the same look and tone that Alijda had used in her staring match with Bonnie2. And while it lost some power from the brunette being under three feet tall, it still seemed to make Queeny hesitate.
“Correction, you’re going to jail AFTER I get my information.” Queeny snapped her fingers again, and the two men resumed their original positions. “In fact, no one’s leaving here until I find out why you magic people left a package for me, talking about a thimble appearing here today!”
“Thimble,” Chris breathed. “That’s–” There was a thunderclap, and a great rip seemed to appear above them in the sky. “Noooo, not yet!” she shrieked. “I don’t have time to adjust the spell for–”
“Chris,” came Kendall’s calm voice. He raised his palm, and only now did Kat realize that the blonde man had been quietly chanting off to the side the whole time.
Chris sprang over next to him, slapping her palm against his. A five pointed star, albeit somewhat skewed, began to glow on the ground beneath all of them. Queeny swore in a language Kat didn’t recognize.
And then things got a little crazy.
VOTING WILL CLOSE LATE ON TUESDAY MAY 10th EDT
UPDATE: VOTING WILL STAY OPEN UNTIL THE TIE BREAKS. (I’ll be over here impersonating Alijda… small and hating myself.)