I got up and looked around. The Origin’s cage vanished and he spilled onto the ground. Kink was lying nearby, but she wasn’t moving. I ran to her. “Kink! Kink!” I knelt beside her, but there was no response. My head display started to give me her biometric readings. There was a pulse! She was still alive!
That was when I noticed that the Invaders Freyja’d been keeping away were no longer being held back. They were streaming toward us, but the Origin appeared to be lifeless goo and Kink was barely holding on. I was alone against the Invaders. I didn’t think I could take them, but I would try. I would try my best. Kink was counting on me.
And then, as the Invaders got dangerously close, Freyja reappeared. But this was a Freyja I had never seen before. She’d always appeared to be young and regal, a queen in her prime. This Freyja seemed older, more worn down. She was lacking the opulence of previous incarnations. She was a woman at war, embattled.
The Origin didn’t seem to care. She was Freyja and that was all that mattered. Powered by pure rage, he rose from the floor and retook a more solid form. He cared nothing about the oncoming Invaders or that his attack could put all of us in danger. He pounced at her with all his fury, thinking only of how she had wronged him. Freyja barely noticed him, gesturing dismissively at him, sending him flying into the oncoming Invaders. The Origin reacted quickly, adjusting to his new target. Even revenge came second to survival. He fought against the Invaders with all his might, but in the end he was no match for them.
Freyja glanced at the Invaders then up at the tear. “Ah. The Third Minor Extrauniversal Incursion. Small matters.” Then she vanished.
A darkness fell over us and I thought the effect of the sun’s implosion had finally reached us. I looked up and instead saw a massive ship. “What is that?”
A Time Cop appeared before me. “That is one of Freyja’s ships,” he said.
“But I’ve seen one of Freyja’s world destroyers. This doesn’t look like one of those.”
“It’s not a Surtr,” he replied frankly, “This is larger. And much more dangerous.” The Time Cop took out his temporal knob from his belt and pressed it into the air. The knob was suddenly attached to a door. The cop twisted the knob and opened the door. Inside, I saw a large room with a lot of Time Police walking around. It was the Time Police Central Hub. It could be nothing else. “Come on,” he told me. “I need to get you out of here right away. Because,” he gestured up at Freyja’s ship, “we won’t want to be around here when she uses that.”
I could see the Invaders, now that they had disposed of The Origin, were now coming toward us. We had no time to dawdle. I picked up Kink, who wasn’t looking too good after Freyja’s blast, and ran through the door. The Time Cop closed the door. “All right, Mr. Clay,” another Time Cop said. “Hand the woman over.”
I held on tight, clutching her unconscious form to myself protectively. “What are you going to do to her?”
“She’s a wanted criminal, Mr. Clay,” the Time Cop said. “She’s going to jail.”
“Just like that? No trial?”
“Oh, there will be a trial, Mr. Clay. Don’t you worry about it. But for you, that trial is not now. You are supposed to be somewhere else.”
“Don’t you mean somewhen?” I asked because it was the only way I could attack them.
“Say it however you like,” the cop said, taking no notice of my snark. “We need to send you back to where you belong. So hand over the woman.”
“She said something about us having children.”
“You know I can’t tell you anything.”
“She said they were in danger.”
“We wouldn’t prevent you from being where you needed to be, Mr. Clay. Now, hand her the woman over.”
“She’s injured,” I told him. “She needs medical care.”
“She’ll get it,” he assured me. “Don’t worry, Mr. Clay. We have the best health care in all of history. We want her in perfect health for her trial.”
I handed her over. There was nothing else I could do. I wanted her to be taken care of, even if it was going to wind her up in jail. They took Kink away. I wouldn’t even be able to say goodbye. I was surprised how sorry I was about that. Normally, I was happy to see her go.
“Now, Mr. Clay, let’s get you back to your correct place in the timeline,” the Cop said.
“But what about the Invaders?” I asked.
“You shouldn’t have even heard about them, but if you’re worried, this particular incursion will be taken care of. Freyja will see to that.” The cop took out a small handheld device and ran it over my body. “I’ve located your proper place in the timeline. Prepare for your reinsertment.”
“My reinsertment?” I asked. “What do you…?”
But he didn’t wait for me to ask my question. My time here was apparently done no matter what I wanted. The cop opened the nearest door, possibly even the same one we had used to get here, and he pushed me through it. I stumbled through, as the door slammed closed behind me. When I turned around, the door was gone, vanished back into the time stream.
I looked around, I was back in the secret Xian base, back where I had started.
to be continued…