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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Missy’s Mission: Only the Beginning (Part XIII)

Once the bubble was gone, Missy found that she was now inside, alone in a small, dark room, but she could hear a bustle on the other side of a door. They were speaking in a strange tongue, and it took her a hot minute to realize it was the Maramon language. She was doing some spring cleaning last year, and found the universal translator mask stored away. She tied it around her leg like a knee pad, just because, but it started feeling normal, so she had been wearing it like that ever since, and was glad now for the coincidence. She slipped it off her leg, and wrapped it around her head just in time.
A Maramon came into the room, and flipped on the lights. “A human?” she said in her language, but it sounded like English to Missy. She was surprised to see her, but wasn’t angry or violent.
Before Missy could say anything, alarms began to sound throughout whatever facility they were in.
The Maramon looked around at the corners and edges. “No cameras. Those alarms aren’t for you. Are there others here?”
Missy stayed quiet.
The Maramon sighed. “I’m not going to hurt you. My name is Alaha, and I’m kind of a big deal around here. Because of that, I’ve been allowed access to some historical records that most of people don’t even know exist. I even know you’re language, so you won’t need that thing.”
“Where are we?” Missy asked, taking off the mask, knowing that being shy wasn’t going to help her get out of this alive, so she might as well play it cool.
“In your language, you could call it The Crossover. It allows us to—”
Missy interrupted, “travel to other universe. Yes, I’ve heard of it. I’ve known people who’ve been in it.”
“Really? Humans?”
Missy didn’t say anything.
“You’re from the future.”
“How did you guess?”
Alaha appeared to smile, but it was hard to tell with that white monster face. “Time travelers just have this...way about them. They don’t want to disturb people’s worldviews, so they’re quick to caution.”
“I don’t know what time I’m from. I came here on one day, then I went back to the past thousands of years. I don’t know if this is before that, or after the first day, or sometime in between. The first leader I met here was named Junyj. He was a...covfefe.”
Alaha nodded. “Junyj is a child, so if you met him as a leader, you were in the future. If you went thousands of years into the past from there, then that was in the past, from my perspective. Now you’re in between those two points in time. And you never answered my question.”
“I’m not likely alone.”
“All right, stay quiet. Give me a second.” She took a small device from her pocket, and spoke into it. “This is Alaha, report.”
We found six tertiaries,” came a voice from Alaha’s communicator. “They were with a Maramon we believe disappeared centuries ago.
“Does six sound right?” Alaha asked Missy, but didn’t receive an answer. “Work with me here, I’m a good guy.”
“Yes,” Missy said, giving in. There are seven of us. We were with Khuweka.”
“Never heard of her.” She went back to her communicator. Take the humans to Command,” she instructed. “And get the Maramon they were with out of the machine. She has no business here.
Belay that order,” came a third voice on the communicator. “Put them in the hock.
“Ezqava,” Alaha said, “I want them to speak with Captain Shuhana.”
That’s not your decision,” Ezqava spat back. “They are a security threat, and I want them isolated.
Bring them to me!” came a fourth voice. After a beat, she continued, “Azazil, bring them up to me.
“Yes! Sir!”
That goddamn motherfu...” they heard the Maramon who appeared to hold the most power say before trailing off. She must have forgotten to turn the radio off.
“Shuhana is a good person, but she can be unpredictable. There’s nothing we can do for your friends, but if you wait here, I’ll get you something that will let you blend in.”
Missy looked down at her human body, and then gestured towards Alaha’s. Then she scoffed.
This was definitely a smile. “You would be surprised what we can do with our technology.” She left and came back, carrying a sort of white cloak. “We wear these to make us look human when we go to other universes. Just a little reprogramming could do the opposite for you.” She draped it over her arm, and tapped at the wearable computer embedded into the fabric.
Missy then graciously took the cloak from her and put it on.
“Squeeze your collar.”
Missy squeezed it, and could see her body transform. She looked like any other Maramon. “Holy crap.”
“Might be a little unsettling, but hopefully you’ll get used to it. Stick next to me, don’t talk to anyone, and do everything I say. I’ll just tell people you’re my new assistant. Sorry if that’s humiliating, but you need a believable role.”
“It’s fine,” Missy assured her, but she said it the Maramon language, which was the most disquieting part.
They started walking through the winding halls. Other people were moving about as well, too concerned with their own problems to pay attention to the two of them. Missy followed Alaha to another level, where they found what must have been Command. Her friends were all standing there, hands in cuffs. Of course they didn’t recognize Missy in this form, and she couldn’t say anything to them. One of the Maramon was looking them over, like cattle at a livestock auction. “What universe are you from?”
“We have no designation for it,” Dar’cy answered.
“Hmm...” the Marmon said.
“That’s Captain Shuhana,” Alaha whispered to Missy.
“If you had to describe it to someone from a different universe, what would you say?”
“We have no frame of reference...except that your kind isn’t there.”
“That’s not entirely true,” Dubravka couldn’t help but say.
“What was that?” Shuhana asked, side-stepping over to face Dubra. “Speak!”
Dubra hesitated, but felt threatened. “We come from your parent universe. We are your gods!”
Shuhana laughed. “We don’t believe that anymore.” She continued to inspect her prisoners. “Well...most of us, anyway. Fine specimen you seven, however.”
“Seven? Sir?” one of the Maramon asked.
“Yes,” Shuhana replied. She lifted her hand, and pointed right at Missy without even looking. “That’s one of them too.”
Alaha closed her eyes in defeat. “Dammit.”
“You know better, Miss Adonai,” Shuhana said to Alaha. “I designed those cloaks. I can smell ‘em. I appreciate the effort, though. You have shown a care for the humans that I did not expect, not even from you. Had you come across the other six, instead of Azazil, this would have turned out differently. They might have been able to leave without us ever knowing.” She turned back to the rest of Missy’s people. “I’m afraid I can’t let that happen. Now that I know you’re here, I can’t risk you going out there with all those petulant civilians. Alaha, you’ve obviously already found your shadow. Please take that ridiculous thing off her body, though. The rest of you are going to need escorts as well. You’re free to explore most of the machine, but you can’t go anywhere alone.” She approached Savitri. “We’ll start with you. I think you would get along with...” She tapped her lips in thought. “Jakira Jeriesdi. Jakira! She cried out, still facing Savitri. “Oops, sorry, too loud.” She turned away, and tried again, “Jakira, get in here.”
Jakira appeared, hanging down from a crawl space in the ceiling. She was wearing a pair of steampunk goggles. “Yes, boss?”
“Protect this one with your life.”
“I’ve gotta do repairs on the primary hyperdimensional oscillator.”
“Great, she’s got two hands. She can help with that. Alaha, go with them. Make sure things don’t get too dangerous. I need to assign the rest of these people.”

Missy and Savitri tried to remain calm as they were watching Jakira work. Alaha had to leave after a couple hours to deal with some trouble Azazil was apparently brewing up. She said Jakira would be able to handle it on her own, which seemed to be the case. She didn’t ask for any help, leaving the two humans to carry on a conversation.
“What the hell happened?”
“Us? What happened to you, you ran,” Savitri accused.
“I know, I’m sorry. I just saw that...whatever it was, fall to the ground, and reacted. I don’t want my powers back. To be honest, I’m not sure whether they did, or didn’t, come back. I feel different than I ever have before. I feel...”
“Stronger?” Savitri suggested. “Me too. All of us, actually. There may be an explanation for that. The room we landed in wasn’t empty when Dar’cy jumped us here. I don’t even know what the Maramon was gonna do; whether he would help us, like your little friend, or if he was planning to turn us in. He didn’t get a chance to do anything...before Avidan killed him.”
“Avidan? What? How?”
“He rippled him apart.”
“You mean, like...”
“Like Lucius, yeah. Avidan has Lucius’ time power. Before that other Maramon found us, Khuweka explained that that powder contained Serif’s blood, along with some other ingredients. I don’t know how they made it, or why, but it’s chock full of those nano things that allow Serif to heal people with her breath. It was supposed to give us our powers back, but I think we all breathed in too much.”
“So we may have all switched powers with each other?” Missy asked.
“I don’t know,” Savitri said, shaking her head. “Maybe. Maybe it was a fluke, but Lucius was certain he didn’t ripple that monster, and Avidan was certain he did. We didn’t have much time to discuss it before all of this.”
Missy thought this over. If it was true, it needed to be tested. She never wanted her powers back, and definitely never wanted anyone else’s too. But if she had no choice, then she had to at least understand it. And who knows? Maybe they could be used to protect herself from The Cleanser, which was all she really wanted all along. “See that big pillar thing over there?” Missy asked, pointing down the way.
Missy loosened herself, and concentrated on the spot on the floor just in front of the pillar. She drew in a breath, and let it out slowly. Then she clicked her tongue, which was something Curtis said he had to do when he was learning to control his power as a kid. It worked. She suddenly teleported about twenty meters away.
“Whoa!” Savitri shouted up to her. She stiffened up as well, and before Missy could protest, she tried to teleport too. She only traveled about a meter, and in the opposite direction, but it was something.
Maybe the new powers would wear off at some point, but if not, Savitri needed to not use them. “Don’t do that! You could run into a wall, or worse!”
Jakira crawled back out from under some piece of machinery. “What’s goin’ on? Get back over here!” she ordered.
“Relax!” Missy said, carelessly preparing to lean against this glowing wall next to the pillar. “It’s fine.”
“Don’t touch that!” Jakira warned, but it was too late.
Missy had her hand on the glowing wall, instantly scared it might burn her skin, but it was actually freezing cold; so cold that she was frozen to its surface, and couldn’t let go.
Jakira ran over to her, but Savitri beat her to Missy with a quick crash course in teleporting. “Mom, let go!” she screamed, which was the first time she ever called her that. She tugged at Missy’s other shoulder.
“I can’t.” The wall, or rather the mechanism behind the wall began revving up like a gigantic wind turbine. The glow increased, and it somehow became even colder, until her arm felt completely numb. Missy lifted her free arm, and pointed it out the wall, hoping to destroy the thing by Lucius’ power of molecular teleportation. The energy she sent towards it only seemed to make the machine even stronger. The glow burned hotter, and started spreading across the room. She tried to get away from the wall again, and was successful this time. Unfortunately, she left her whole arm behind, all the way up to her shoulder. It was still there, frozen in place.
“My God,” Savitri gasped. She too tried to use some power against the machine, but this only made it stronger yet.
“It’s overloading,” Jakira exclaimed, starting to back away. “Run!”
But it didn’t matter. The light was too bright to keep their eyes open, and a sudden wind thrust Missy off her feet, but in one second, it was all gone. She reopened her eyes, and saw literally nothing, except for Savitri floating next to her, and Jakira floating a few meters away. They were in an endless, near lightless void. She couldn’t breathe, but didn’t seem to need to. It was like outer space, but without the stars, or the vacuum. She realized she was slowly drifting away from Savitri, and couldn’t get back to her. Something was pulling them in opposite directions, faster and faster. As quickly as they had come, she left the void. She was standing in the middle of a field, along with a bunch of human strangers. They all looked like the wind had been knocked out of them.
“Is everyone okay?” a man asked. “My name is Detective Dimitri Orion! Can someone tell me where in the world we are?”
A man stepped forward proudly. “We’re not in our world. We...are in another universe.” Not another one.
“Oh my God!” a young man yelled. “She’s lost her arm. You tore off her arm!” he accused.
They all looked at Missy, who was dizzy from the pain, and could only focus on the treeline in the distance. Instinct took over, and she teleported her to it. Then she collapsed, and lost consciousness.

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