FULL SCALE INVASION, PART SIXTEEN: Perchance to Dream
Kat watched as Alijda and Chris – or rather, Axiom – flew through the dimensional rift on what appeared to be a throw rug. He didn’t question it. Partly because he didn’t know the specifics behind the current magic-technology blend, but more because he didn’t have the time to think about it.
Four masked men (women?) had emerged from the rip between Earths, carrying some sort of ray guns.
For a moment, the arrivals seemed disoriented. Possibly an effect of being shrunk down, Kat reasoned, given the difference in scale between TechWorld, and the world they were on now. Either way, that moment gave Tom the time he needed to act. He sat up from the ground and took aim with his walkman.
“Click,” the young man with the bright red hair intoned, pressing the eject button.
Instead of spitting out a cassette, when the walkman popped open, a pulse of energy shot out. It travelled the 50 metres necessary to strike the first of the masked men. In the process of reaching for his head, the guy seemed to freeze in place.
Tom slapped the walkman closed and took aim again. He managed to get off two more paralysis spells before the last of the individuals realized what was happening, ducking behind one of his companions, out of Tom’s line of sight.
“How many shots do you have with that?” Kat asked, on the ground next to him.
Tom shrugged. “Dunno. But the tech seems to amplify the magic, and seeing as we’ve been refraining from extraneous use the last couple days in preparation, I figure there’s enough. Hopefully.”
Kat scanned back over the area of the train station. The Magic User’s Club, along with Queeny (of the government), plus Bonnie and Larry (of the DEO), had constantly gathered there, at both sunrise and sunset every day. That being the time of day when the invasion was supposed to occur. This morning, they had finally been proven right.
The lone non-paralyzed Invader poked his head out from behind his friend, seemingly firing his ray gun off in Tom’s general direction – but nothing happened. No beam of energy, no explosions, nothing.
That’s when Mook, one of Queeny’s faithful guards, charged in. The remaining invader spun ninety degrees, pointed his ray gun at the man, and seconds later, Mook face planted down into the dirt. Seemingly unconscious. Kat heard Queeny let out a shriek.
“I guess their own TechWorld tech still works fine, assuming the gun was designed to do that?” Tom mused.
Keeping low to the ground, Kat circled away from Tom, over towards where Mook had come from. He saw Queeny and Larry, flattened back against a nearby building.
Kat and Para had agreed to hang back, acting as backup more than anything else. And while Kat was stretching the definition of “hanging back”, if Queeny was getting reckless, it could impact Alijda’s safe return.
“How could I know?!” Queeny was saying as Kat got within earshot. “That gun hadn’t worked, and his friends got zapped easily!”
“Your habit of issuing orders to people based on superficial information is why people like Bonnie and Shemp don’t tend to tell you things,” Larry sighed.
Queeny did a double take. “Why bring up Shemp?”
“Please. I know he was reporting to you. How else could the guy afford new business cards?”
Queeny fumed. “Well, maybe if people told me things, I wouldn’t have to issue orders using only superficial information!”
“People shouldn’t have to state the obvious, Queeny. As Tom said, listen, and become a better observer,” Larry suggested. He peered back around the corner, raising a pair of binoculars. As the rift wasn’t that far away, it seemed to Kat like this was a signal he wanted to end the conversation.
To her credit, all Queeny said was, “I hope he’s okay.” She looked towards her fallen bodyguard again before lapsing back into silence.
As the stalemate continued to play out, Kat retreated.
“PROM away!” came a new yell. Kat looked back up, in time to see a fast moving woman in a dress approaching the last Invader from behind. Andi, moving faster than human limitations really allowed, completed a right hook to the guy’s jaw before he could turn and bring his ray gun into position.
The last invader crumpled to the ground. Then Andi started hopping around in a circle, still moving at triple speed, shaking out her punching hand while yelping, “Ow! Bad idea! Ow! Ow! Bad idea!”
“Andi! Grab the ray guns!” came Kendall’s voice.
Kat glanced at his watch; it had been barely a minute since Alijda and Axiom’s departure. As if on cue, at least a dozen more people emerged from the rift.
The carpet streaked through the sky, weaving around flying drones. Alijda was pretty sure she had the capability to hack into those helicopter-like devices, what with the magic infused tech glasses she was wearing. More to the point, doing so might provide the TechWorld people with something of a distraction.
She didn’t do it though. After all, she was meant to be taking readings and providing support, not actively sabotaging anything… though she was also rather preoccupied too. Giving Axiom a better bead on Clyde.
“Veer left!” Alijda called out. They had, what, ninety seconds left? Before their density shield failed? “Great, Clyde will be almost right below us,” Alijda noted. “I think it’s best if I teleport down to grab him.”
“But I was going to be the one who–”
“Rescued him, I know,” Alijda finished. “Except you can’t cast spells on account of maintaining the shield. It’s fine, life and death situation, I’m the same size as Clyde, and I’ve got the density suit. Just, you know, catch us when I teleport up?”
“Okay,” Axiom yielded, simultaneous to her USB staff Minerva stating “Affirmative.”
If Alijda had to guess, she’d say they were flying over an abandoned military air field. Or formerly abandoned – the largely open space was currently home to maybe a hundred individuals, and some large equipment. Nearest to the rift, the front line seemed equipped for an assault. At the back, where they were now, there was more equipment, technicians, and possibly the higher ranked officers. And androids.
“Wait, what?” Alijda muttered. There was no time to consider it – they were almost directly overhead.
In a cloud of purple smoke, Alijda vanished, reappearing in an open space on the ground, near to where Clyde was being guarded by the pale android-looking bodies. She got her bearings, and then teleported next to their prisoner. He was easy to identify, not merely due to his size, but from being in a cage. Handcuffed to the bars.
Alijda reached out to grab Clyde’s arm, then willed for the both of them to be teleported back up into the air, picking a place that would avoid possible rematerialization inside an airborne drone.
They began falling. Seconds later, they landed on Axiom’s magic carpet. It immediately shot back up, high into the air again. Alijda felt out of breath, but they seemed none the worse for wear.
“What is going ON?” Clyde said, nearly back-pedalling off their improvised vehicle, but grabbing at the rug fibres instead.
“Magical rescue mission,” Axiom said. “Hold tight, we’re headed back for the rift.”
“About that rift,” Alijda began. Then she stopped herself. Was her thought of shrinking Axiom down even feasible?
Clyde quickly came to his senses. “If we’re out of here, I’ve got a script to execute. Is that a VR keyboard chip in those glasses? Give me those.”
“Hey!” Alijda bristled as Clyde plucked the glasses off her nose, severing her link with the portable keyboard and technological surroundings. “I need those readings!”
“Sorry. I’ll give these back, but I’ve had a parting shot planned ever since these goons forced me to help them assemble the damned portal generator.” Glasses on, Clyde began to run his fingers over what Alijda assumed was the virtual keyboard. “Move in close to me, I’m not sure if my exclusion field will cover everyone.”
“Exclusion field?” Axiom said, crouching down.
“Yeah. Don’t want you to be caught in the sleep ray.”
“Sleep ray?” Axiom parroted again.
“It’s some ray these guys can fire to stimulate alpha waves and induce unconsciousness,” Clyde explained as he typed. “Only reason I never attacked them this way before is because the ray doesn’t affect those damn droids.”
Axiom shook her head. “But why wouldn’t the rest of them be protected against their own weapon?”
“Oh, they are. But not at the force I’m invoking. This program will set off all the possible sleep ray pulses for miles around, simultaneously. And they’ve got a bunch here, what with the invasion. Even us, this far up in the air, and within an exclusion field, we’ll probably still feel tired.”
“Miles?” Alijda broke in. She glanced back out at the landscape, noting what looked like houses in the distance. “But what if there are people within your zone who aren’t part of this invasion force? Could they end up in trouble, like if they’re driving past or something?”
“Do I look like I care?” Clyde countered. “Damn place has been keeping me prisoner for over a year! And they want to mine MY world for oil and other natural resources! Screw them. I gather most of their vehicles are self driving anyway.”
Alijda felt like she should continue protesting, but that was when a laser sliced a hole in their carpet. Axiom executed a sudden stop, then flew higher, beginning evasive maneuvers.
So the brunette hacker held her tongue. Again, she was meant to be primarily an observer, right? She didn’t know the people of TechWorld like Clyde. This wasn’t her call. Never mind that she’d executed the jailbreak, making this possible…
To avoid thinking too hard about it, Alijda instead wondered whether she’d looked as bizarre as Clyde now did, waving his hands over on an interface that was invisible to everyone else. It did look a bit like he was trying to invoke some form of magical spell.
“Boom. Good night,” Clyde said, punching his finger into the air.
A brief humming noise surrounded them. Axiom yawned. Then, on the ground, everyone began to keel over. Some of the drones also dropped out of the sky, as others began to spin in circles.
“Ten seconds to density shield failure,” Minerva noted. “Accelerating our departure.” The carpet went into a dive, as Axiom yawned again.
Clyde pulled off the glasses, handing them back to Alijda. “Thanks.”
Alijda accepted them, unable to turn away from the sight of an uncontrolled drone landing on top of a military man who was lying unconscious below them. “You’re welcome,” she murmured.
Para’s job was simple. As soon as she saw Alijda and Axiom return, she was to use her (recently returned) Epsilon communicator, and call Alice. That way, their group of three could still get picked up, before the spell could be cast to seal all dimensional breaches.
Granted, there was no guarantee that such a spell meant the Epsilon Station itself would become inaccessible. But there were a lot of unknowns at present, including whether Alice would even be able to make a portal for them as quickly as they hoped.
Not to mention whether Para would be the only one left conscious by the time Alijda reappeared.
“They knocked Tom out. We’re not going to be able to contain this force much longer,” Michaela decided. The magic user had been keeping herself out of the thick of things, along with Para and Bonnie.
“You may not have to,” Kat said, crawling back to reach their position. “Looks more like those ten are trying to establish a foothold. Meaning the real problem is convincing them to retreat, now that they’re wise to ranged attacks and Andi’s speed.”
“Hrmph. We need some real life version of those blasted tech security systems those people run,” Bonnie declared. “Firewalls, I think they’re called.”
Para felt her ears drooping. “Should I simply call Alice now? I mean, she’s like the inter-dimensional police… so maybe she can help?”
“No, don’t,” Kat asserted. “If Alice interferes, she’ll probably end up in even more trouble than us.” He grimaced. “I’ve got a suggestion.”
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