FULL SCALE INVASION, PART THIRTEEN: Transformation
It’s strange, the common bonds that can bring people together. Kat was reminded of that fact after their retreat to City Hall. With the shrinking Alijda having been brought to a convenient break room with Para, Kat had set his goal as having both Queeny and the Magic User’s Club on board with helping him to save his companion… his friend.
“We can argue later about who was in the wrong here,” Kat began. “Right now, our focus HAS to be on keeping that woman from shrinking away to nothing!”
“Wrong!” Queeny shouted into her megaphone, making Kat smack his hand against his ear. “You’re not even from this world. You can’t waltz in and tell us, the local government, what our priorities should be!”
“She’s right!” Chris asserted. “Society has to have rules. We can’t break them without considering the consequences!”
“Are you two willing to let someone die because you delayed?” Kat protested.
“Magic and technology seem to be going haywire,” Chris noted. “Unless we know more about what’s happening, we could make your friend’s problem worse.”
“Exactly!” Queeny agreed. “Maybe this mystery spell I have will go wrong, and make that woman grow to be the size of that thimble, destroying this whole building. We don’t know!”
Chris eyed Queeny. “You know, for being a government person, you’re making more sense than usual.”
Queeny lowered her megaphone. “And you seem a lot more practical to me than I’d expect of someone who believes in magical abilities.”
“Awesome lesson, individuals aren’t necessarily the same thing as their collectives, blah blah, can we leave yet?” Tom asked, stifling a yawn.
Kat saw the opening. Despite having some reservations, he decided to take it. “Enough! You have to listen to me – and not waste your time trying to form an alliance against that shady Department of Extra-Dimensional Objects!”
“Who still have my PROM,” Andi huffed.
“Speaking of, why DID you want Bonnie to see us at the motel?” Kendall asked Queeny. “You seemed to think the real one would show up instead of Andi.”
“Bonnie DuChessy always knows more about what’s going on than I do,” Queeny complained. “She certainly figured out my doubles plan faster than anticipated. So, I wanted to know if she’d be as surprised by your attempted murder of a gov… by whatever you were doing,” she amended, off Kendall’s look.
“Is Bonnie also the reason you were tracking us, trying to find the weak dimensional locations?” Michaela asked.
“Yes, since you weren’t always subtle about your activities,” Queeny admitted. “So, after seeing your interest in that motel five or six days ago, I paid off the owner to advise me of anything unusual. Either with respect to Bonnie herself, or arrivals like this guy’s package,” she said, jerking a thumb at Kat. “Or the rest of you trying to jam an oboe into an unusual location.”
“That’s why you moved our meeting,” Andi concluded. “You were told about the rest of them setting up for the spell.”
“Right. Thought I’d have one up on Bonnie, but SOMEHOW, she knew to stay out of danger.” Queeny adjusted the straps of her red silk dress. “That department was much less shady under Clyde’s direction.”
Tom slapped Kat on the back. “Okay guy, good job in getting us to unite against the DEO rather than against you. What’s your next play?”
Kat winced. “Okay. I admit that was my goal there. But it’s because I have intelligence for you, that I took from the DEO base.” He reached into his pocket, pulling out the USB drive that he’d grabbed, back before Alijda had teleported them away. “This was in a hidden back room, where the DEO seemed to be trying to build their own portal technology. It could explain a few things.”
Queeny’s eyes narrowed. “What?! You mean they’re continuing that project? That’s crazy, that’s what got Clyde killed!”
Kendall let out a low whistle. “Okay Kat, what’s this thing you’ve got? Does it project a hologram or something?”
“No, it needs to interface with a computer. Queeny, can you get us access to one?”
The head of government hesitated, then finally grimaced. “Oh, you’d likely figure it out – no, no, I can’t, not without Bonnie knowing. Her department regulates all the useful stuff. All we have on hand is confiscated odds and ends that haven’t been classified yet.”
Kat rubbed his forehead, considering alternatives. “Would any of those items include a USB on-the-go cable? Plugging the drive into something like that might at least activate it. Like the trigger on those laser cutters. Then one of the magic users could channel a spell to read the data.”
“Oh, I’m all about communications, spells or otherwise,” Chris affirmed.
Queeny snapped her fingers, and the security mook in a suit, who had been silent for as long as Kat had seen him, stepped forwards. “Go look into that,” she ordered. “Bring all the tech odds and ends to my office.”
“And could we maybe hurry?” Kat requested. “I am providing this information in the hopes that–”
“You get help for your companion in exchange, yes, I haven’t forgotten,” Queeny said. “We’re under a bit of a deadline here too, you know! I’m sure the press will want a statement about the thimble incident within the hour.”
“Some of us can run interference in the public for you,” Kendall offered. “Assuming you drop this sudden vendetta you’ve acquired, painting us as assassins…”
Queeny let out a noise of exasperation. “Yes, fine. But I reserve my right to change my mind about ALL of this when we learn about whatever’s on the DEO’s Sub drive thing!”
“Good to see that, underneath it all, she’s still the same old Queeny,” Michaela muttered to Andi.
They were ready to attempt data retrieval less than half an hour later. Para was still with Alijda, while the others were dealing with the fallout from the third major incursion, so only Kat, Chris, Tom, Queeny and her security man stood in the office.
Chris eyed the USB drive she had in one hand, and the USB OTG cable she held in the other. “You’re saying I plug these together, then channel a spell?”
“Best plan I’ve got,” Kat said.
“Rock on,” Tom said, giving a thumbs up.
“Hurry up,” Queeny sighed.
Chris murmured a few words that Kat didn’t catch, then carefully fit the two pieces of technology together. For a second, there was nothing. Then the magic technician jerked her gaze forwards. “OH.”
Five glowing purple lines traced themselves out sequentially on the floor. They formed a five pointed star with Chris in the centre. She rotated her arms ninety degrees. There was a flash of light from the USB. Then the jumpsuited technician smiled. “Pretty Phlebotinum, Henshin Go!”
Incredibly, Kat heard music playing as a glowing circle formed around the star on the floor. The last thing he saw of Chris before she was enveloped by a column of purple light was her hair magically undoing itself from her usual ponytail.
When the purple light burst away, Chris was gone. There had been barely enough time for Queeny to stammer and for Tom to curse. Which was weird, because the musical interlude had felt like it had gone on for much longer.
Where Chris had once stood there was now a slightly younger woman, wearing a pretty dress of purples and blues, covered in multiple bows. Her hair was even longer, now held back from her face with a hairband that had a small blue witches’ hat stuck onto it. And in one hand, the woman held a very long USB cable wand. She spun it in her hands a few times like a quarterstaff before tapping it’s base against the ground.
The stunned silence that ensued was finally broken by Kat. “Chris?”
The purple haired woman rolled her eyes. “Did I, or did I not introduce myself?”
The light on her USB cable wand flashed, and a feminine voice that Kat didn’t recognize intoned, “Interface confirmed. Introduction verified. Auditory assessment required.”
Kat exchanged an uncertain glance with the others present. Honestly, his first instinct had been to compliment the technician on her makeover, kiss her hand, and ask whether she was doing anything that evening. But it hardly seemed the right approach. Besides, what if it wasn’t Chris? First impressions, as Alijda had said.
“Yeah, okay,” Tom said at last. “Look, Chris–”
“–you’re 28, isn’t that a bit old to be playing dress up?”
“I didn’t authorize any of this!” Queeny asserted, finding her voice. “Give me a good reason not to throw all of you in jail!”
Axiom adjusted her hairband. “Fine, it’s me – yet somehow more, so it helps if I don’t think of myself as Chris. In fact, the two of us realized very quickly that communicating through that spell was liable to give Chris a brain aneurysm, so the form of a techno-mage was adopted as a safer way of interfacing. Isn’t that right, Minerva?”
The USB wand flashed. “Affirmative.”
Queeny snapped her fingers. “Mook, go find us a psychologist. Fast.”
“Hold on,” Kat protested, prompting Queeny to motion for Mook to wait. “Chr– Axiom might not be crazy. In fact it sounds like she can access the data, so we should hear what she has to say! That way we’ll have something we can act on while she’s being assessed, and maybe we can also finally–”
“Save your friend Alijda?” Axiom finished, making Kat wonder if his requests were becoming something of a broken record. She smiled, and it was a brilliant smile. “I can do that.”
The purple haired woman then looked to Queeny. “In fact, with Minerva’s help, I can resume channelling magic safely. Meaning I can not only save the teleporter, but also use the necessarily wavelengths to seal the dimensional rifts.” She grimaced. “Yet based on this data, which is related to why Bonnie has been acting the way she has, that spell might be a bad idea. It will take some time to explain.”
“Time we don’t have,” Tom objected. “Chris herself was the one who called today’s meeting, saying the dimensional alien attack was imminent. If she’s in there, you must know that!”
“I remember. Worse, I am not sure how much longer I can maintain this form. But we need to take the time to do this right,” the magical woman asserted. “For the sake of our world.”
“Okay, whatever, Mook go find that psychologist NOW,” Queeny demanded. “For ME,” she added, before Kat could speak up.
It was night before another formal gathering could occur. By then, things had calmed down. The government had released a statement about how they were looking into the thimble incident. The older members of the Magic Users’ Club had left to take some readings, leaving Tom and Chris – who had been forced to temporarily dispel her Axiom form – at City Hall. Alijda, while cured, remained unconscious.
Queeny had made the main conference room available to them. She had already sent a message to the DEO, telling Bonnie that the jig was up, and to come and discuss their next move. Instead, at the allotted time, it was Larry who appeared in the doorway.
“Huh. Is he your DEO spy?” Kat wondered.
“No,” Queeny sputtered. “And shut up about that.” She rose from her position at the head of the table. “Where is Bonnie?!”
“She’s pretty sure the entire government has been corrupted by this point,” Larry said, nonchalantly shoving his hands into his trenchcoat as he leaned against the door frame. “I can’t say I blame her. I see you’ve met the offworlders, and haven’t thrown them in jail?”
“Hi Larry Appleson!” Para said, waving energetically. “Did you miss us?”
“Bonnie thinks WE’RE corrupt?! Why that–” Queeny reached for her megaphone. “You tell that power crazed department head that I–”
“We know, Larry,” Chris interrupted. She was as loud as Queeny, yet her tone was gentle where Queeny’s was abrasive. “We know the truth about what happened with Clyde. About what happened to the former head of the DEO. We know.”
Kat wondered if that would be enough.
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