When the world righted itself, we were somewhere else. Maybe somewhen else. The Origin was gone. The Xian were gone. Their base was gone. It was just me and Kink in an empty gray room. I couldn’t believe what she’d done. “What did you do?”
Kink frowned at me. “I saved you. You’re welcome.”
“Saved me?” I growled. “Jamal was with me! You left him there!”
Kink did not look apologetic. “Ape-man?”
“He’s not an ape anymore,” I retorted sourly.
The seemed to amuse her. “Oh no? What is he now? A giraffe?”
“If you must know, he’s a dinosaur. A raptor.”
Kink nodded approvingly. “That’s quite a leap down the evolutionary ladder.”
I glared at her angrily. I wanted to punch her, but that would get us nowhere and we needed to move this along and quickly. “Do you want to tell me what we’re doing here? Because Jamal is in trouble right now! He could be dying!”
She was unfazed by anger and desperation. It would be impossible for there to be a more infuriating woman in all of existence. “This is time travel, Franky. When we’re done, we can always just go back and save your lizard friend.”
“Or,” I replied, “we could go back and save him right now, then both of us could help you with whatever nonsense this is. As you said, this is time travel.”
“No,” Kink said. “Sorry. It doesn’t work that way. And since I’m the one who can travel through time, we’re going to do it my way.”
“No!” I was putting my foot down. I wasn’t going to put up with her childishness. Jamal was in serious trouble. “We go back now or I don’t help!”
Kink gave an amused smile. “If you don’t help, I won’t take you back.”
“You’re going to hold me hostage? That’s a great way to get my cooperation.”
“Hold you hostage?” she laughed merrily. “Franky, this is no time for foreplay. We need your help. This is serious.”
“‘We’? Since when do you work with others?”
“When I have to. Come on. I’ll introduce you to our army.” She led me into another nondescript gray room, but this one, at least, was not empty.
As far as I could tell ‘our army’ consisted of four ‘people’. “This is Pahf.” She pointed to a greenish smoke. “His race evolved on a gas giant. His race has the ability to regulate their density and to a smaller degree their personal gravity.” It didn’t say ‘hi’ and neither did I.
She moved onto the next. “This is Grow.” It looked like someone had crossed a squirrel with an ant tripled its size then stuffed it into a tortoise shell.
“No,” Kink replied. “The thing on its back. It’s a fungus.”
“Oh. It’s a symbiotic relationship?”
Kink stared blankly at me. “No.”
“This is Gra,” she continued pointing to a figure with crimson liquid-looking skin.
He looked awfully familiar. It didn’t take me long to remember from where. “I think I’ve met your species before. Though that was maybe 70 million years ago. And that guy had weird tubes all over his back.”
“From what I understand, you evolved on the planet we imprisoned the criminal Na Fru,” Gra replied. “He was deranged, perverting the sciences for his own sick needs. I am not like him.”
I nodded. I wasn’t about to take his word for it, but there was no reason to press it. “So, our army is some mist, a fungus, a rock, and what?” I pointed to the last figure. “A robot?”
Kink looked at the last member of our team. It looked like a robot to me. Though its design was more humanoid than any of the bodies I’d given ALAN. “That’s just his containment suit,” Kink said as the suit’s mask opened revealing a green slimy face. “It’s actually called The Origin.”
to be continued…