I found myself in the middle of a warzone. It took me a second to realize it was the Chaotic Zone, just as we had left it. Chaos and Disorder. Death and Mayhem. Spaceships everywhere, doing battle with the Invaders, and we were in the middle of it.
Kink retracted her suit. She looked a little groggy, but she tried to hide it behind a big smile. “That went well enough!”
“Well enough?” I growled back at her. “We lost 2 members of our crew! We almost died!” But she couldn’t understand me. My outrage was being wasted on deaf ears. I was still an Invader and she still looked like a paper cutout. The whole battle looked like paper cut outs. Only the other Invaders looked real.
“Staying this close to the tear might not be the best idea,” The Origin said, still keeping a tight grip on the Brane Cutter.
Kink agreed and picked up the origin before flapping away. I saw little choice but to lift up Gra and follow as best as I could. But we didn’t get far before I felt a presence in my mind. A lot of presences, in fact. I glanced behind us and I could see a horde of Invaders streaming out of the tear. “It looks like they’re coming after us,” Gra said, weakly.
Kink and the Orign both glanced back. The Origin met Kink’s gaze and said, “I believe this is why you’re here.”
Kink gave him an angry look, but she had no time to retort. The Invaders were getting closer. They were coming for what we had stole. We were just floating there in the middle of the Zone. I thought we should keep running, but no one could understand me so I didn’t bother saying anything. The swarm was getting closer and Kink leaned over and grabbed a hold of me. “Hold on tight,” she told me as she hit her emergency evacuation wristlet.
Everything went purple static.
We arrived on a world of flashing lights, twisting pillars, and absolute silence. It was a surprising change from the war zone. Gra pushed himself away from me. “Let’s quit standing around and get on with it! Take me to my homeland!”
“No,” The Origin replied in his gelatinous state. “I will go first. Without my suit, my body will continue to degrade.”
“No!” Gra said. “I will go first! My people’s lives depend on it!”
“Your people can wait. I cannot!”
“I suppose it’s out of the question that we start with me?” Kink asked.
The Origin and Gra both glared at her, but it was the Origin who said, “You go last. You’re the one who can escape.”
“Fine,” Kink agreed with surprising ease. The whole thing seemed to amuse her. “In that case, we’ll let Frank decide.”
They looked at me. “Decide what?” I wanted to ask. I really had no idea what was going on here, though I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like it.
“So, come on, Franky, tell us who should go first. Do you think we should go where the Origin wants us to go or should we go where Gra wants us to go?”
I would have said neither if I could. But if I had to make a decision I would. I didn’t want to be stuck here. I just wanted to get out of this whole mess and back to my own home and my own time. Jamal still needed me to save him. I looked at the monster who was the one I had to save Jamal from. The creature who only a short time ago, my time, had been trying to kill me.
I pointed at Gra. It was the easiest choice I had ever made. “I guess Frank chooses Gra. Too bad, Origin.”
The Origin didn’t reply. I’d say he remained stoic, but his face wasn’t the most expressive. If you could even called what he had a face.
Kink took a deep breath. The lightness in her attitude slipped. “All right. I guess that means we’re ready to do this? Just let me warn you, this will be dangerous.”
“We know the dangers,” the Origin said, still hefting the Brane Cutter. “Let’s just do this before we’re found out.”
“Fair enough.” Kink turned and opened up a temporal portal. “Right behind you.”
“Gra can go first,” the Origin said.
The stone man glared at him. “If you want to hand me the Brane Cutter…?”
“The Cutter will remain with me,” the Origin replied, wrapping its tentacles around it tighter. “Just try to keep up.” The Origin walked through the portal followed immediately by Gra.
Kink looked at me. “Ready?”
I had no answer for her. She wouldn’t understand it anyway. Kink didn’t seem to mind.
She grabbed me with three hands and pulled me into the portal. There a brief sensation of the usual static, but then there was a flash. It was as if we had had our time travel interrupted in the middle. Suddenly, it was not just a sensation, but there was also a solidity. We were standing, the four of us, in a tunnel of purple lightning. Not exactly standing, but not floating either. And there was a force pushing us forward, almost like we were in the middle of a river, but we were blocked…by what I couldn’t tell. “You know,” Kink said, “if we go through this, we’ll bring Freyja and her empire down upon us.”
Freyja? What the hell did this have to do with Freyja? Was this her barrier? Is that where we were? Was this some kind of blockage to keep time travelers out? If this was hers, then I was even less happy with what we were doing then I was before. I could’ve screamed at them, I would have. The last thing I needed was another run in with Freyja.
“I am well aware of the risks,” Gra said before turning to the Origin. “Now, break it down! My people need me!”
The Origin flipped the Brane Cutter on and a darkness formed in front of us. Then the barrier was gone, utterly destroyed. The sense of solidity vanished and we were once again, pushed into the stream of time. There was no turning back now.
to be continued…