EPSILON DELTA, PART TEN: SEE DEUCE
“Okay, good idea,” Rose decided, nodding at Firestorm. “See what you get from the diary, there could be something in there about where Destiny’s technology came from.” She glanced to Kat. “We could use the techno tech know, you know?”
Kat seemed to hesitate before nodding. Rose chalked it up to the possible invasion of Destiny’s privacy – but they needed every angle here, right?
She was second guessing her decision within five minutes of leaving Firestorm at Destiny’s house. True, he had given them the information they’d need for dealing with the police, including the location of the station, but what if something unexpected happened? Maybe the only planetary resident they knew should have come along. Rather than leaving him to snoop. Then again, maybe they had the Station for backup by now?
Rose tapped her communicator. “Rose to Alice, are you up there?”
Kat reached out to seize Rose by the arm, though he stopped short of actually touching her. Still, Rose flinched at his sudden movement.
The tall man cleared his throat. “What’s wrong, Rose? Anything I can do?”
“I wondered if they’d managed repairs up there yet, I guess,” Rose admitted. “But I probably shouldn’t disturb them, huh? They’ll call us?”
“Probably,” Kat said, smiling wanly at her. “Don’t worry, Rose. I can handle talking to the police.”
“Yeah. I just… yeah.”
“It’s just, you’ve been abducted from your Earth and are feeling a little out of sorts. I get it.”
Rose let out a long breath. “Don’t forget, I’m also in charge somehow. If this goes pear shaped, it’s on me.”
“Oh, Rose. Oh no,” came a soft voice from her other side. Beam reached out and touched Rose through the shoulder, with her incorporeal hand. “It’s on me. Because I’m the one who pulled you into this. I’m so sorry it’s distressing you.”
Rose turned to look at the blonde hologram, and immediately had to look away. That tender, apologetic gaze… Rose wasn’t sure if she was more irritated at the sense of being pitied, or more rattled by how her first instinct had been to give Beam a reassuring hug. Her feelings for the pretty girl were still rather mixed up.
“Let’s all talk about something else,” Rose suggested. “Your previous missions, maybe? Were any of them as screwed up as this?”
Kat spoke first, as they walked down the dirt road. He offered up some highlights of his only previous Epsilon involvement, where he, Alijda and a personified parabola – Rose idly wondered if this “Para” was in any way related to “Sine” – had come together to look into dimensional tears on a scaled-down world. It had apparently led to Alice being fired.
Though the way things were going here, Beam might end up fired too, so that wasn’t entirely comforting.
Then Beam launched into a tale of her first Epsilon involvement. She had been pulled onto the station, where some higher entity had communicated to her through the computer. They had provided her with the station’s mission, requesting equipment repairs at first. After Beam had agreed to and accomplished those, there had been the actual prospect of a retrieval mission.
“It’s like it had been hand picked just for me too,” Beam remarked. “Very tech world, but with a magic amulet. Which had been buried in a lava flow, so the Station couldn’t get a positive lock until it was uncovered by an archaeologist centuries later. So, fine, I devised a clever plan. I appeared shortly after said archaeologist found it, pretending like she’d released me from being confined in said amulet. After rewarding her for my freedom, I left with the artifact, mission accomplished.”
“Rewarding her?” Kat asked. “Like with money?”
“Oh, no, no. With me. She swung my way.” Beam raised a finger to her chin. “Interesting thing is, she tasted spicier than the women of my world.”
Rose stumbled and nearly face-planted into the dirt.
“I mean, sure, every female tastes different,” Beam chirped, without breaking stride. “And it’s connected to diet and all that, but sometimes I wonder if it was that Earth? Or maybe being an archaeologist contributed to her–”
“BEAM!” Rose cut in, wide-eyed. “TMI!”
Beam turned to her. “The Michener Institute what now?”
“Too. Much. Information. Ix-nay on the Issing, ‘kay?!”
Beam glanced from Rose to Kat, whose eyebrows were up, and then back again. “‘k-kay. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to overstep. I really haven’t had occasion to socialize much since leaving my Earth. Except with the Epsilon computer.”
“We know you didn’t mean anything by it, Beam,” Kat soothed. “But don’t forget, Rose was a tad conflicted about you, particularly on that sort of subject.”
“I haven’t forgotten.” Beam nibbled on her lower lip. And it was cute, and Rose had to look away again. She took a moment to take in the village (town?) that was now around them. They had covered a fair bit of ground during story time.
The three of them were still on the dirt road, but there were now other roads crossing it, and wooden or stone structures surrounding them, versus having houses appear only every so often. There were a few people about too, though they were not paying much attention to them. Well, aside from the occasional sideways glance at their outfits – their lack of cloaks might be making them stand out. But the residents themselves seemed more intent on getting to wherever they needed to be.
It was probably close to dinnertime. Or maybe, on a magic world, you simply took things at face value and didn’t ask too many questions.
Rose also noticed that the tavern that Firestorm had told them to be on the lookout for was up ahead. The police station would be down on the cross street, not far away. Making it easier for the cops to get to refreshments whenever the work day ended, the fire mage had griped.
Suppressing a sigh, Rose looked back at Beam. “Yippers?”
“I’m used to talking about – um, let’s say kissing of girls – with both girlfriends and guy friends. But I gather that’s a bad topic for girls who are friends? Or is it more a case of too soon?”
“Yes. That is, maybe. That is…” Rose paused to press the heel of her palm to her forehead, before sliding her hand down over her face. “Flûûûûûûûte.” As she said it, Rose realized something. The mild french swear word was becoming a way for her to feel closer to Paige. Her girlfriend. A multiverse away.
With effort, Rose swallowed away the lump in her throat.
“Look, Beam,” Rose began. “You said all girls… taste different?” Damn it, normal girls didn’t talk this way when they got together. Beam simply nodded back. “Well, girls as friends have different tastes in conversation too. Meaning for me, right now? Sexy time talk is a no-no. But maybe the next girl you befriend will be different. That make sense to you?”
Beam nodded again. “It does. I guess I’m just hoping some universal truths will come up. Ones which will always apply for your new subclass. Like how the male subclass is all just kind of ugh.”
“Oh, thanks,” Kat remarked, a hint of amusement to his tone.
“Oh no, I mean, you’re nice enough. It’s only you’re lousy lovers,” Beam clarified.
“Thanks again,” Kat said. He apparently couldn’t resist adding, “you know our anatomy is the basis for how toys are shaped?”
“Pffft, it’s not about anatomy,” Beam scoffed. “It’s about the five senses. For instance, compared to a man, ooooh, the scent of a woman, that’s so…” Beam paused, hands partially clasped, looking sidelong at Rose. “So totally a movie. Yippers, on some Earths ‘Scent of a Woman’ is the name of a movie.”
Rose wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry at the conflicted expression on Beam’s face. She settled for lifting her finger and pointing. “There’s the tavern. We’re almost to the police station here. Destiny awaits?”
“Right,” Kat agreed. “Let’s get to it.”
Rose felt a tingle as she walked through the doorway into the police station. Shaking it off, she held the door for Beam, so that the hologram wouldn’t need to phase through the wall. Kat walked up to the main counter before them.
The station itself looked like a small time police department out of a TV show. A female officer was looking over some sort of newspaper as Kat approached. There were a couple more male individuals in the back, one reading, another looking at papers he’d taken out of what Rose took to be a filing cabinet. A door in back led to where they presumably had a jail cell or two.
“Take a number,” the desk officer said, before Kat could speak.
Kat looked around. “We three are together though,” he said. “And there’s nobody else in here.”
“I’m on break. More people might come,” the officer said, not looking up from her news article.
“Okay, well, crime waits for no one,” Kat said. “So maybe you could take a break from your break?”
She looked up, irritated. “Why, are you about to go commit a crime?”
Kat smiled. “Heeey, only if it’s a crime for me to look this good. Though I will grant that, next to you, I pale in comparison.”
Rose considered gagging. Until the officer folded up her newspaper and smiled. “Well played. I can appreciate an ego that rivals my own. What’s the trouble?”
Kat gave a quick rundown of their situation. They used the angle that Firestorm had recommended, saying they had come in from out of town to find Destiny missing. As the story came out, the interest of the desk officer gradually faded, and neither of the cops in the back paid them any attention. Soon, the woman was reaching back for her newspaper.
“Fill out an initial report form, then come back in a couple days,” she said.
Kat winced. “Isn’t there anything that a charming and intelligent woman such as yourself can do for us in the meantime?”
She eyed him sidelong. “Fishing for special dispensation? Fine, fill out the waiver form.”
Rose had already noticed the various forms in the slots near the door. Grasping the one they needed, she took it over to Kat, placing it on the countertop. He grasped a pen and filled it out as Beam paced back and forth, occasionally looking over their shoulders.
The desk officer scanned over the form after Kat pushed it at her. “Hmph. I guess this is in order,” she sighed. She reached underneath the counter and brought out some sort of stamp.
It happened quickly. Before Rose could react, the cop had seized her by the wrist and brought the stamp down onto the back of her palm. There was a chiming sound. “Hey!” Rose protested, jerking her arm away.
Now she was seeing double. Much like how she had seen two cauldrons after charging into Destiny’s place. It was making her nauseous, so she closed her eyes and fell to her knees, judging that to be more dignified option versus falling on her ass.
“What the hell?” Kat’s voice was saying. “I’m the one who filled out the form, lady! What did you just do to Rose?!”
“This isn’t our first rodeo,” the officer answered. “You know magic potential gets scanned as soon as you walk in here. That girl’s is the strongest, so she leads the search. We’re not going to let you file a complaint as if we didn’t notice that.”
“What?? But Rose doesn’t do ANY magic. And I’m the one who handles fire!”
“Oooh, good for you. Look, either fill out a rescinding form, or get out of here.”
Rose reopened her eyes. She was still seeing double, so it looked like Beam’s concerned gaze included four pretty blue eyes and two sets of kissable lips. Whoa, no, no, bad thoughts! “Bye bye bad thoughts, go away now!” Rose gasped.
“Rose, are you okay?” Beam asked.
Rose hiccuped, then giggled, despite trying to suppress the urge. She smacked her palm over her mouth. “Oh, ah feel shooow gooood,” Rose cooed. “‘Cept mebbe ah’m too shexhy for dish magicks.” Wait, she was saying that aloud?
Rose pulled her hand back, glaring at both her right palms, as if they were to blame for letting those words escape. “No!” she accused. “Bad hand! Ooo, filtersh, filtersh, come back brain filtersh… ah neeeed youuuu… ah neeed yoooouu lik a lite houshe needs a coasht…”
Rose had no idea why the lyric of that hokey country song had suddenly come to mind, and she dissolved back into giggles. It was just too FUNNY, that a song she’d heard maybe ONCE would come back to her now, in the presence of a seductive lesbian hologram while on some alternate magical Earth.
By the time Rose was able to stop laughing, she’d been helped outside, Kat leaning her up against the side of the building. He was saying something, but Rose wasn’t entirely clear on what.
“Youse haff two hedds,” she pointed out to him. Granted, they were sort of focussing themselves into one, but they didn’t seem to want to stay that way.
Kat said something else while waving six fingers in front of her face, as if that would help anything. Rose closed her eyes, turned to the side, and reopened them. Beam was standing there. Oh no.
“Rose…” Beam began.
“Nooo!” Rose yelped, trying to step back, and only succeeding in flattening herself against the wall. She hiccuped again. “Know what? You my anti-Angie. Shtay ‘way, anti-Angie!”
Beam frowned. “Auntie Angie?”
In a flash, Rose realized what the root of her problems was. And she couldn’t stop her stream of consciousness from running out of her head via her mouth. “Angie. I liked her ’n high schewl. An’ she pulled back, an’ so I diden go deeper, an’ so I diden figger me out. But now’n I know, wif me an’ girls, an’ here you are.”
Rose took in a deep breath. “An’ Beam, you go thuther way, instead of no deeps, you want ALL the deeps, Beam, ALL the deeps, an’ I canna take it. I canna, cuz I wanna wif Paige, but ’m lost n’ scared here, ’n you is pretty, ’n you lead me to titillation, and you don’ deliver me from evil, and thine is a kingdom, an’ power n’ glory, uh…”
Rose steered her thoughts back on track. “Yis, so Beam, you an anti-Angie cause jest like wif Angie I wanna but I DON’ wanna, cuz it’ll mess all life up. Which, okay, we deal wif it, maybe? Until you TURN LOVE OFF. Is NO FAIR BEAM, I no turn it off, not wif Angie, or Paige, or you, an’ then you make me all confuzzled about friendships. Why you do this to me, Beam? Why?? DAMN it, I HATE you!” She was almost screaming by then.
Beam flinched back. “Rose, stay calm. Okay? Y-You’re being affected by that police stamp. You d-don’t really mean you hate me, right?”
“I DO. I hate YOU, an’ I hate bein’ in CHARGE, an’ I hate my head’s HURTIN’ now, an’ somehows I gots magicks so I canna even flee to Station no more,” Rose sobbed. “So know wha? YOU, Beam, I wan YOU t’go ‘way frum me.”
Beam reached out, so Rose lifted her arm to point for emphasis. “NO. Go ‘WAY, y’hear? Go ‘WAY Beam, you an’ your cutesy love off switch. Mk? JEST GO FAR ‘WAY FRUM ME F’REVER!”
“Rose, stop, that’s enough,” Kat said sternly, grasping her by the shoulder. She swatted his arm away. Alas, the movement unbalanced her enough that she felt herself sliding down the wall and onto the ground.
The last thing she saw before closing her eyes again was a sideways view of Beam sprinting away as fast as her legs could carry her.
The last thing she heard before falling unconscious was the sound of the Station communicator on her wrist.
 “I Need You”, Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill.
VOTING CLOSES NOON EDT SATURDAY SEPT 16th
PATHS NOT TAKEN:
If the police had been no help, the group would have been approached by a thief or someone from the underground in order to further the investigation (and runner up would decide if Firestorm came along). If Firestorm had been deputized, well, he would have been able to handle the “drunk” effects a lot better, and Rose-Beam tension would likely have continued (though I hadn’t expected it to burst quite that way here). There was also another plot effect, we’ll see it in an Oracle Prophesied segment later on.
There was a post last week with information and a poll about where to take this site in 2018. Also, voting for the time travel story never hurts… this site just had two consecutive zero view days in a row (plus nine spams).