As soon as I figured out that I was back at the Xian secret Neptune base, I braced myself for an attack. When Kink had pulled me away, I was in the middle of being attacked by The Origin. He had taken control of all the Xian on the base and they had been actively fighting us. The base itself was being shaken apart by the Origin’s fury. He had been much larger than when I had last seen him in the future. In fact, he had nearly filled this entire massive room with his bulk. Strangely, the room was practically empty now. I didn’t understand what was going on. Had I not been sent back to the right time? Had the Time Cops made a mistake?
No. Time Cops never made mistakes. If they had, they’d be here by now to fix it. Seeing as how they basically exist outside the time stream, being late was very rarely an issue for them. So if I wasn’t where or when I was supposed to be, they would have already been here to put me where or when I was supposed to be. It was their job to keep the timeline clean. That meant I had to be where and when I was supposed to be, but where was The Origin? Where was Jamal? Was he…oh, dear god! Was he even still alive? Without me here to save him, was he dead already?
Then the alarms sounded. I covered my ears as a loud howl filled the large room. Xian burst from every door, looking confused and frightened. Then the guards appeared with guns in their tentacles. They quickly surrounded me. “Infiltrator! Don’t move or you will be killed!”
I raised my hands, even while my vision began picking out targets. My futuristic body was ready for action. I wondered idly if that was how this body usually was or if it was just because I had recently left a war zone? “Where is he? Where’s Jamal? What did you do to him?”
“Jamal?” one of the Xian asked. “There is no Jamal here. You are mistaken stranger.”
I shook my head, furiously. “Don’t lie to me! I know he’s here!”
“You are confused. You are obviously lost. Leave the same way as you arrived and we will not kill you.”
“Kill me? I’ll kill you if you’ve done anything to Jamal!” I yelled at them. I didn’t know what game they were playing at, but I had no patience for it. “Or maybe you should just go get the Origin.”
“The origin? The origin of what?”
“The Origin! Your master! Bring him out! I’ll take care of him too!”
“We have no master. We are the Xian and we will not take some stranger coming into our base and threatening us.”
“Stranger? As if me having a new body has ever confused you guys before,” I muttered. “You’re not fooling me with your lies. There’s no reason to pretend.”
“New body?” one of the Xian asked, then the others began to whisper those two words to each other. “Are you…Dr. Clay?”
I glared at it. “Of course I am! Am I supposed to buy this act? That you don’t remember bringing me here?”
“We didn’t bring you here.”
“Of course, you did! You brought me and Jamal here to see your master, The Origin. You…you…you don’t remember any of this, do you?” I looked around. I knew the Xian well enough to recognize their confusion. “None of you remember that at all.” The building was showing no sign of my battle with the Origin or his frustrations or of his existence at all. And how could they so quickly hide such a huge mass? Why would they even try? “What is going on here? Are you trying to tell me that neither I nor Jamal were brought here? And you’ve never heard of the Origin? And your people haven’t been infected in any way?”
“Infected?” the Xian asked. “With what?”
“You haven’t been mind-controlled in any way?” I asked. “Corrupted by an outside influence? ‘Freed’ from independent thought?”
“No. Of course not. None of that’s happened.”
And then it became clear to me what must have happened. “The Invaders must’ve wiped the Origin out of existence!” That was what they had told me the Invaders touch did. Pahf, Grow, the Origin, all three of them must have been wiped out of existence, erased from history. That would explain what was going on here, but I was still cautious. Perhaps this was all a trap that the Time Cops had slipped me in “because it was where I was supposed to be”. But then again, maybe it wasn’t. Maybe this was all real! And maybe everyone was safe! If that was true, then I had to get home!
to be continued…
(in case you forgot, check out the last time Frank was at the Xian base, right before Kink snatched him away.)