If I understood correctly, we had just stepped out of the universe, but where exactly we were or what it looked like I did not know. I heard echoes of sounds that never happened and saw colors and shapes shooting at me like a 3-D projector gone horribly awry. It was too much! Just too much! My eyes, my head, my ears, my brain, it hurt! I had to close it off! Cut myself from it all! Too much!
I could hear Kink, maybe, in the back of my head behind the screeching of the cosmos. I think she said, “Relax, Franky. Let’s slip this on.” And then something hit me. My skin was burning and freezing and stinging and buzzing, but I was pretty sure something hit me, like something had been slapped against my back. Then it was growing, I was sure of it. That was real, not a phantom feeling. It was covering me. My skin felt like it was going numb, all sensation was being cut off. I was being cut off. Like I was being stuffed into a tiny box, isolated from everyone and everything, even myself. Whatever it was, whatever had struck, had attached itself to me, it surrounded me and I was trapped inside it.
Then my vision returned. I could see the world and things were normal again. Or close enough. There was a weird reddish tint to everything and I could see tracers following everything and sometime preceding. I looked at my hand. I was in some kind of suit. It was skintight and for a second I felt a wave of claustrophobia. I wanted to get out of it. I couldn’t breath.
“Calm down, Franky.” It was Kink. I recognized her voice as it was piped directly to my ears. She too was wearing a suit. It was pink and red and orange and many other colors, too. Even her wings were covered in it. Exuberant might be the word. I hoped mine didn’t look that crazy. “Everything’s all right.”
I took deep breaths. “I’m fine.”
She nodded. “Your body panicked when it started experiencing a dimensions it was not made to interact with. The suit you’re wearing is designed to filter all the bizarre exterior sensations to normal ones. It takes a little time to get used to. It won’t take much time for me to get used to your suit because as far as I’m concerned it looks great on you. Perhaps, we’ve found your new look.”
I don’t think she could see me frowning at her, but I hoped she could her the irritation in my voice. I certainly could hear her amusement. “Have all the fun you want. But I thought we were here for a reason.”
“Yes,” Grow said from the back of the Invader. “And perhaps we should get on with it. It’s not very pleasant riding this creature.”
I noticed that Gra was now wearing a suit similar to the one I saw the Crimson Figure wear back in prehistory with all its strange tubing, though this one had helmet attached as well. The Origin’s appearance had changed as well, completely sealing itself off from the outside.
I found that my suit had a propulsion device and I was able to follow the others deeper into this strange dimension. A large ship lay before us. But it was not a ship. It was more like a building, a tall apartment building that turned at a right angle. Or maybe it was more like a tree. Like a tree made of concrete and glass. Though I doubted it was either actually concrete or glass. But it was a ship. I knew that. I could tell that. It was an Invader ship, one of many, and we were heading right for it.
We could see a group of Invaders leaving the ship and swimming into another tear. There were many tears and many, many more Invaders. One of them must have seen us because it broke off from the others and headed right for us. “Let me guess,” Grow grumbled, “I’m supposed to take care of it?”
The fungus swam its Invader body to intersect the oncoming enemy. There were some tense moments, as they stared at each other, but whatever test Grow had gone through, he clearly had passed. He rejoined us and we continued on our way.
We reached the ship with little trouble and Gra jumped ahead. He landed on the ship and pressed his hands against its hull. Then…nothing happened. “Can you do it?” Kink asked, impatiently.
Gra glared up at her, the angriest I had seen him. “This is not easy. It is not…normal metal,” he explained.
Kink replied coldly, “But can you do it?”
Gra gave her a stony look, “I can do it.” The man of rock struggled and strained against the hull of the Invader ship. Slowly, his hands began to sink into the skin of the ship. Cracks began to form along his rocky exterior. A liquid that may have been blood began to drip from his eyes.
“We should stop him,” I said.
“He can do it,” Grow told me. I reluctantly held my tongue as finally the hull parted and Gra collapsed.
“Let’s go in,” Kink said gleefully.
Grow and his parasitically controlled Invader went first. When the coast was clear, Kink followed then the Origin carried Gra inside. I came in last. I found I had trouble standing, but I wasn’t the only one. Kink, the Origin, only Grow seemed to be able to control his balance. Even with my suit’s filter, the ship just didn’t look right. I leaned against the wall, but that seemed to only make things worse.
“Any day now?” Grow growled.
“Just go,” Kink said. “We’re right behind you.”
The fungus turned his Invader around and started down the corridor. We all tried to follow. I grabbed a hold of Kink, hoping to stabilize each other. For a second, she pushed away, then leaned into me. “You’re so romantic, Franky.”
I wanted to push her away, but I knew I’d fall as certainly as she would. Instead, I changed the subject. “Where are we going? You still haven’t told me what we’re doing here.”
“To get the Brane Cutter.” Kink’s answer was surprisingly straightforward. Was she finally done playing games? Was being outside the universe just too much for her?
“The thing that allowed the Invaders to cut through the membranes of space and time.”
“Oh,” I said finally comprehending. That made sense. That seemed like a perfectly reasonable excuse to be coming here, to take away the Invaders’ ability to enter our universe. “We’re going to destroy it.”
“No,” Kink replied, “We’re going to steal it.”
to be continued…