Through The Looking Glass
By Stephanie B
I'd like to take a few moments to thank all the wonderful people who have helped me with my story. After a few discussions on the MORFS forum [http://morfs.19.forumer.com/index.php] I had to alter a fair bit of background information on a few of the characters. I was getting a bit discouraged and almost abandoned the story completely. The positive feedback and encouragement I received changed my mind. What turned out to be a relatively small rewrite allowed me to complete the story.
Unfortunately I wrote myself into a bit of a corner about two-thirds of the way into the story. I needed a powerful character for a few chapters and didn't want to invent a new one. I was lucky enough to get help from Shrike, the author of Synergy and Blitz. Part three of this story features Synergy and a cameo appearance from Blitz in the final chapter. In addition to making sure that I didn't write something that was out of character, Shrike also gave me several suggestions, provided proof reading and is an excellent hunter of the many typos that I seem to generate.
I would also like to give a special thanks to Holly. Her ability to find typos, grammatical errors or just the wrong word is amazing! I know she's an extremely busy person, but if you can beg, plead or blackmail her into editing your work you will definitely be better off for it.
If you did not get this story from the official MORFS web site, you really need to check out all the incredible stories that this universe has to offer. This story, as well as all the official MORFS stories can be accessed at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org
The sun was low on the horizon but still shining brightly, the sound of birds and the small creek in the distance was a soothing distraction to Sarah McIntyre. She was lying on her side in bed, slowly brushing out all the tangles in the curly hair of her hip and leg with a soft bristled brush. Keeping her hair short helped but it was a long, slow process anyway. Sarah had been planning on a long relaxing session in a local spa, but she was just too busy to even make an appointment. It was an odd feeling to be completely naked in bed in the middle of an open field, but Sarah had gotten accustomed to it during her short time in Tenkei. She knew it was an illusion, but it was a very good one. Her hotel suite was one of only a few places that she was comfortable in. Another place was the open courtyard under the dome on the surface. The small domes were scattered all over the city and allowed people to look out on the stars, the moon or the Earth, depending on which side of the city they happened to be on. Sarah had never been to any of the domes that looked out onto the Earth. Fortunately the city didn’t spin, and the dome in the courtyard never faced that way. Knowing how high above the Earth they were was one thing, but seeing it was different, and she didn’t know how she would react.
A soft beep from Sarah’s tablet startled her for a moment. She glanced at the caller ID as she retrieved it from the other corner of bed hoping that Todd wanted to meet for dinner. Instead it was Danielle Tanaka from the medical center. Danielle was the technical supervisor monitoring Alice. Sarah and Danielle had talked over lunch several times during her stay in Tenkei. She was extremely smart, and very easy to talk to.
“Hi, Danielle,” Sarah said after hitting the accept button. She tried not to sound disappointed.
Danielle’s face filled the screen in Sarah’s hand. She was a beautiful young Japanese woman, with shoulder length black hair that contrasted nicely with her pale complexion. “Hello, Sarah,” said Danielle. “I’m sorry to bother you. I know you were finished for today.”
“That’s okay. I was still deciding what to do for dinner.”
“Well there’s a woman here to see you,” she explained.
“Did she say who she was?” asked Sarah. She wasn’t expecting anyone, and wondered who it could be.
“No, and she asked for you specifically,” Danielle continued. “Can I tell her that you’re coming in?”
“Aye, I’ll be there,” Sarah answered. “I’ll be a wee bit. Have her wait for me in the office.”
“Okay, I’ll tell her.” Danielle cut the connection as Sarah got up to put some clothes on. Fifteen minutes later Sarah walked through the main doors of the medical center and found Danielle talking to one of the other technicians. She walked over to Sarah when she saw her.
“Is she in the office, Danielle?” asked Sarah.
“Yes, I think she was a bit fascinated by some of the schematics that you had on the monitors.”
“Half the people I show them to cannae understand what they are,” Sarah said with a bit of a chuckle. She thanked Danielle and headed to the office that she and Todd had been using. Sarah opened the door to find a woman standing over several tablets studying the schematic diagrams for the field generator. She appeared to be in her mid-thirties with long black hair and dressed in a fashionable jumpsuit with a thick black belt round it.
“Hello, I’m Sarah McIntyre,” she said to get the woman’s attention. “You were looking for me?”
The woman stood up straight and turned to look at Sarah. “Miss McIntyre,” she said as she held out her hand, “I’m Maren Kramer. Tetsuo asked me to come and see you.” Sarah looked at the woman as they shook hands. She was a few inches taller than Sarah, a little thinner, but her most distinctive feature were her yellow cat’s eyes. Then she noticed that the belt was in fact, a tail. She said, “I hope you don’t mind me looking over your diagrams.”
The design of the field generator was an advanced circuit. There wasn’t much chance that she would be able to make any sense of them. “Call me Sarah, and no, I dinnae mind. I can explain what they are if you’re interested?” said Sarah with a bit of pride.
“Oh I think I understand the basic idea,” Maren answered. “I’m a bit surprised you used superconductors in the power emitters. That would be a bit expensive to build, wouldn’t it?”
Sarah was impressed, that was a part that most people wouldn’t have noticed. “Aye they’re expensive, but it’s a prototype. I’m more concerned with it working, than the cost.”
Maren smiled before saying, “Yeah, they would have made my thrusters work better when I was first building them. I just couldn’t afford them.”
“Thrusters, do you mean the Synergy Thrusters?” Synergy Thrusters had been an incredible breakthrough when they had been invented almost twenty years earlier. They were used everywhere for all types of things. Anything that moved and had an energy source powerful enough to run them had been switched over. The air cars that were being created recently had been the most popular, but the military had been using them since they became available. “I thought those were invented by Zoë Johns.”
“Maren Zoë Johns, that’s my maiden name,” she corrected. Sarah had thought that Zoë Johns would have been a lot older. This woman looked to be about the same age as she was. If she invented the Synergy Thrusters she must have been about fifteen or sixteen at the time!
“So what did Tetsuo have in mind?” Sarah asked. “We have the field generator working fine.”
“He told me you’re having a problem supplying power to it.”
“Aye, this thing is a bit of a power hog,” she explained. “Do you have an idea to reduce the amount of power it needs?”
“Well no, but I might have another idea,” Maren explained as she walked over to the original prototype. “Is this it?” she asked, picking up the large power cable connected to it.
“Aye, we’ve replaced it with a portable one. But it still needs almost as much energy.”
The cable ended with three metal blades that need to be inserted and twisted into a power outlet. Maren looked at the cable for a moment before putting the thumb of each hand on two of the three metal blades and closed her eyes. After only a second or two, the field generator powered up and the ready indicator came on. Maren opened her eyes and asked, “Can you turn it on? I’d like to see how much energy it draws when active.”
Sarah quickly turned the generator towards the target sensors and turned it up the fifty percent. After verifying that is was generating the field at the correct level she turned to Maren and said, “That’s it running at half power.”
“Okay, that’s not too bad,” she said. “Turn it up to full power for a minute.”
Sarah hit a few buttons on top of the generator and then checked the readout from the sensor again. “That’s it, full power.” After watching for a few seconds, Sarah noticed that the room was starting to get colder, and the light somehow seemed dimmer. Then the unit shut off as the power was cut and the light went back to normal levels. “I’ve never seen anything like it! How long could you keep that up?”
Maren shuddered slightly from the memory before replying, “Well the longest time was about six weeks with rests in between. But that thing does need a lot of power. I wouldn’t want to have to run it for more than a few days.”
“We dinnae need days! I think we only need a few hours.”
Some time later the two women sat at one of the patio tables at a bistro. The dome lights had dimmed to their normal night time level and the stars could be seen through the glass. Sarah enjoyed her salad while trying not to stare at Maren as she ate her chicken. She hadn’t seen a piece of meat that large since leaving the family farm.
“I cannae see how you can eat that?” she finally said as Maren took another bite.
Maren looked at Sarah eating her salad and suddenly realized that she was likely a vegetarian, like her sister. “I’m sorry! I never thought about it. I hope you don’t mind me eating meat.”
“No, no, I dinnae mean that,” she said quickly. “It’s just the size of it. It’s massive!”
Maren blushed a bit and said, “Oh yeah. Well I was hungry, though my husband Gabe makes a much tastier chicken dish.”
Sarah gave Maren a puzzled look before asking, “You’re married to Gabe Kramer? As in Chef Kramer, owner of that chain of restaurants?”
Maren smiled with pride and nodded. “Everybody’s Place, yeah that’s him,” she answered. “He’d be here instead of me, but he’s back with the kids and busy with work.”
“Is that where the energy comes from, are you an electrical elemental?”
“Not really, no. That would be my husband’s specialty. But he was too busy so he couldn’t come here,” she explained. “I convert the energy from other sources. I was converting the heat and light in the room to electricity. That’s why I had to stop so soon. It was starting to get cold in there.”
“Aye, it was getting chilly,” agreed Sarah. “So you’ll need another energy source to power our generator?”
“Yeah, but that won’t be a problem,” Maren explained. “There’s a wide range of sources that I can use. Heat and light are just easy to make use of. Though for more power I use something else.”
A voice behind Sarah interrupted their conversation, “So this is where you disappeared to.” Sarah turned and smiled at Todd as he walked up to their table.
“So you finally came up for air, did ya? Or did ya just get hungry?” Sarah joked. Todd had been working all day trying to understand the difference between the portals Alice generated and those Tetsuo created. The field generator was disrupting the portal she used to draw energy but not the visible portals that she created between locations. If she got access to another powerful energy source, she might be able to create portals again.
“I tried to call you, but you didn’t answer,” he said. Sarah looked for her tablet to see if she had missed his call, when Todd handed it to her. “I found it in the office when I was trying to call.”
“Thanks,” Sarah said as she took the tablet and put it into her purse. “Todd, I’d like you to meet Maren. Tetsuo asked her to join us to help Alice.”
Todd and Maren shook hands briefly before he sat down next to Sarah. “That’s great! I have to admit, Alice has given me a bit of a puzzle to figure out,” confessed Todd. “So what is your specialty?”
“I’m going to help Sarah with the field generator,” Maren answered with a bit of a grin.
“Oh, so you’re into electronics as well?” asked Todd. He doubted that anyone would be able to improve on Sarah’s designs. She was too good at her job to have someone just step in and be able to make changes in the time available.
“Yes but that’s not what I meant,” Maren explained. “I’m here to power it, so that it can run while it’s in the shuttle.” The confusion on Todd’s face made Sarah laugh.
“Maren’s an energy converter,” Sarah explained. “We were in the office with the prototype. She powered it up for almost a minute just on heat and light.” Todd knew the power requirements for the field generator as well as Sarah did. Being able to run it by converting photonic and thermal energy was impressive.
“That’s great,” Todd said. “I was looking for you so we could talk about moving Alice. Since you’re here, Maren, we should work out the general plan. I wanted to try something when she’s away from the city.”
“I was hoping to be able to get some more information on all this. Tetsuo didn’t give me a lot of details,” explained Maren. “But before we get too deep, can I borrow your tablet for a moment? I didn’t bring my own, and I need to make a call home. I want to say goodnight to everyone.”
Sarah handed the tablet to Maren, “I dinnae mind at all.”
Maren smiled her thanks and started a video call. Soon a female dog hybrid answered with a gruff voice, “Ya?”
“Hi Mem, can I say goodnight to the children, please?”
The sounds from the tablet muted for a moment before a cacophony of sounds from children sounded. The gruff voice urged them to be quiet and informed that their Mom wanted to see them. Moments later two little girls came into view and the sounds, “Memmy, memmy” came from the speaker.
Maren hushed them, “Listen Jessica, Caitlin! Have you two been nice girls and did you listen to what Beppe told you?”
The oldest girl gave a big smile, “Yes Memmy, I brushed my teeth myself this time and put all the toys away like she asked.”
The other girl, much smaller, just nodded. Maren smiled, “That’s good, now I want you two to go to bed without making a fuss and say your prayers. I love you, good night, sweeties.”
The sounds of the girls saying “Good night, Memmy” sounded before the face of the female dog hybrid appeared again. “Gabe isn’t here, Maren. He had an emergency to handle in Australia. Something else though, Caitlin feels bothered with her sturt.”
Maren smiled, “You mean her tail. You’re mixing up the languages again, Mem.”
“Ya, that’s what I meant to say. I can ease her growing pains from that, but it’s uncomfortable, and she misses her Mem and Heit. Come back soon, okay?”
“I will, this job shouldn’t take too long, see you soon, Mem. Give a kiss to both Jessica and Caitlin for me.”
With that Maren ended the call and returned the tablet to Sarah. The three stayed in the bistro for several hours discussing their plans. They eventually called it a night when the restaurant staff made it clear that they wanted to go home.
The next day Maren and Sarah were back in their makeshift lab in Todd’s office running the prototype for hours at a time. Todd was keeping busy researching the portals, and talking with both Tetsuo and Alice on his idea. He wanted to try a few tests while she was in transit. It would be a perfect opportunity to see if Alice had any other abilities, and if the field generator would be needed for the rest of her life. Finally, the day for the move arrived. Tetsuo and Alice walked hand in hand to the shuttle hanger, followed closely by Sarah and Maren.
“So, Nyoko, are you excited about riding in a space ship?” Tetsuo asked Alice as they entered the hanger. The hanger was the size of a soccer field, but was completely empty except for the one shuttle that they would be using. It was about twenty meters long with the main body under a large delta wing. The shuttle was a hybrid design and able to operate in space or the atmosphere, like most of the shuttles in use within the city. Once Alice was on board the shuttle and far enough away, Tetsuo would move the city back into its correct orbit. Later, the shuttle would make its way back to the city under its own power.
Alice held her teddy bear with one hand and Tetsuo’s with the other as she looked at the shuttle. “I’m going to be an astronaut,” the little girl said as she walked closer. Sarah and Maren looked at each other and smiled at the cute comment. Dr. Kobayashi was standing with Danielle Tanaka on the ramp leading to the shuttle’s open cargo door. All their equipment had been loaded into the shuttle and connected to its power systems for the short journey.
Danielle knelt down and asked with a big smile, “Are you ready for your big adventure?” Alice returned the big smile as she nodded.
Dr. Kobayashi and Danielle were followed closely by Maren and Sarah as they went into the cargo area of the shuttle. Tetsuo stood outside as the doors slowly closed. Once closed and sealed he headed for the airlock and the shuttle control area. The cargo area of the shuttle was reasonably large and had been setup with chairs and a few monitoring screens for the passengers. The screens near where Sarah, Maren and Alice were sitting were currently showing an image from one of the external cameras as the shuttle bay doors were slowly opening. When the earth came into view through the shuttle bay doors, Sarah turned her monitor off and started to scan through the power readouts on the field generator. She tried not to look up too often, as the image could still be seen on the other monitors.
The radio crackled for a second before Todd’s voice said, “How’s everyone doing over there?”
Sarah immediately said, “I dinnae know why I’m here, and not you.”
“I want you there if there’s any problem with the field generator. You know that,” he explained for the tenth time. “I’ll be monitoring the portal that Tetsuo creates for the city to pass though. I want to see what differences there are between Tetsuo’s and Alice’s portals with the equipment we have.” Sarah knew that would be Todd’s reply, but she still didn’t like the answer any better this time.
The pilot said over the intercom, “We have clearance to leave. Since there is no artificial gravity on this shuttle, please make sure that everyone one is strapped in. I’ll let you know when it’s safe to move around.”
Kaito hit the button on the intercom panel near his seat and said, “We’re all set here. You can launch when ready.” Only a moment later the shuttle lifted off the floor and floated towards the open doors of the shuttle bay. It easily passed through the force field that covered the bay doors and held in the air. Once outside the city, the gravity dropped off quickly and everyone had the feeling of falling. Alice grinned from ear to ear again and seemed to be enjoying the ride. Maren was busy powering the field generator. Sarah desperately tried to keep her breakfast from making a return visit, while the rest of the passengers didn’t seem to be fazed at all.
Todd’s voice could be heard over the radio again as the shuttle accelerated away from the city, “Tetsuo has opened a portal ahead of the city. We should pass its threshold in about thirty seconds.” Sarah’s curiosity overturned her fear of heights as she turned the monitor back on. The city was already several kilometers away, the portal barely visible on the other side of it. Other than a slight distortion of the star field at the edge of the portal, there was no way of knowing where it was. The count down timer in the corner of the monitor was the only indication that anything was happening. Sarah watch as the counter hit zero and then started to count up again, but still couldn’t see any change. That was, until the counter hit thirty seconds again, the portal flashed and disappeared, along with the city.
Danielle suddenly gasped and all the others turned to looked at her. “Sorry, I’ve never seen it happen from this view before. It’s a bit of a shock.” The camera view changed and zoomed in to show the location of the city in its new orbit.
“Can I take my seat belt off now?” asked Alice.
Danielle smiled and said, “Not yet, sweetie. The pilot has to turn off the engines first. Then we can all float around for a little while.”
Sarah looked at her for a moment before saying, “He’s had ‘em on for a long time. I dinnae think we needed to add that much velocity?”
Danielle was just about to say something when all the power died and the emergency lights came on. The sound of the main rocket engine kicking in was a clear indication that something was seriously wrong.
It was like a roller coaster ride in a nightmare with the deafening roar of rocket engines, nearly complete darkness and everyone screaming. It only lasted for a few minutes, but it felt like an hour! As soon as the engines were cut off, the feeling of gravity was gone again. Sarah grabbed her tablet and tried to access the computer network, Kaito was almost pounding on the intercom button in a futile attempt to contact the pilot and Danielle was trying to calm Alice down. Maren seemed to be the only one not in a panic.
Maren reached over and held Sarah’s arm for a moment to get her attention. When Sarah looked at her she said in a calm voice, “Do you still have power for the radio?”
“Aye the radio,” she replied, “let me check.” The radio had been loaded into the shuttle and was hooked to its power, but it also had batteries for emergencies. Sarah unbuckled her seat belt and floated up. She used her hands to pull herself to the radio and hit the power button several times. When it didn’t turn on she opened the battery compartment to see if they had come loose during the violent shaking. “They’re gone! I know they were there yesterday. I put them in myself!”
“That’s what I figured,” said Maren. After everyone looked at her in confusion she added, “This was deliberate. We’re being hijacked.”
Kaito was the first to recover from the shocking news, “But why, what would anybody want with us?”
Maren looked at him for a moment before answering, “Do you know of any other person who can generate portals who could be kidnapped?”
“Any idea where we’re heading?” he asked. He didn’t bother mentioning that other than Tetsuo, Alice was the only portal generator that he knew of.
“Earth,” said Sarah. “A burn that long means we’re dropping out of orbit.”
“A small island in the South Pacific to be exact,” said Danielle as she hugged Alice.
All three of the others looked at her. Maren was the first to ask, “How do you know that?”
“I’m a telepath,” she explained. “I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone, but I think we all need to work together now.”
“And you dinnae know that they intended to do this then?” asked Sarah.
Danielle shook her head before answering. “They’ve been thinking ‘rendezvous point’ all the time. I didn’t think anything of it,” she explained. “When the rockets fired, I looked deeper.”
“So they know about you then?” asked Kaito.
Danielle smiled before saying, “No, as along as I don’t go too deep they shouldn’t be able to sense me. That is unless one of them is a telepath as well.”
“How many of them are there?” asked Maren.
“Just the pilot and co-pilot,” answered Danielle, “and no, I don’t think it’s a good idea to take them out. I don’t think anyone here knows how to pilot a shuttle.”
“Okay then, what options do we have?” asked Maren.
“Well, we could wait until we land before attempting to overpower the crew,” Danielle offered.
“I dinnae like that idea,” replied Sarah. “We have no idea who’ll be there waiting for us.”
“Wouldn’t the city notice and send another shuttle?” asked Kaito.
“It wouldnae be able to get to us in time,” answered Sarah, “unless Tetsuo opened another portal for it.”
Kaito asked, “Couldn’t he just open one here for us to be able to step through?”
They all thought for a moment before Danielle suggested, “Maybe he’s not able to create another portal so soon after moving the city.”
Alice turned to face Danielle and said, “I want to go home.”
Todd was looking over the shoulder of the shuttle traffic controller. They were tracking the course of the shuttle and trying to determine where it was heading. Once the city had passed through the portal and it closed, they had attempted to reestablish communication with the shuttle. That was when traffic control had told him that the shuttle had changed course.
“I can’t reach them at all,” said Todd to Tetsuo. “Even the data link to their computer system has been killed.”
“Have you determined where they’re going?” Tetsuo asked the technician at the control station.
“Their current course will have them entering the atmosphere over the Indian ocean in a little over two hours from now, but we have no way to predict where they will touch down. That shuttle has the range to go anywhere on the planet!”
Tetsuo pulled an eCom out of his jacket pocket and dialed a number. “I want an armed security team to report to me immediately,” he said before hanging up. He looked at his watch and cursed.
“Are you able to create another portal?” asked Todd.
“Not yet,” answered Tetsuo as he looked at his watch again. “But as soon as I can, I want my people on that shuttle.”
“How long will that be?” asked Todd.
“It depends on how far they get,” he explained. “I can open a portal from here to anywhere in the city right now, but that distance will take more time. I’ll be able to get to them before they enter the atmosphere.”
Todd thought for a moment, trying to figure it out. “This doesn’t make sense,” Todd said. “They would know that. And that you would come after them. They must have some plan to stop you.”
“Sir, you need to look at this,” said the technician. As Todd and Tetsuo stepped closer to the screen the technician pointed to an object close to the Earth. “We’ve just picked up a high energy launch from Micronesia. It’s on an intercept course for the shuttle.” The course for both of the shuttle and the rocket had been extended with dotted lines until they met.
“Damn it!” cursed Tetsuo again. “How long?”
The technician double checked his numbers in order to stall before answering, “Unless one or both of them slow down, they’ll meet in sixty-four minutes.”
“Call me the moment that either of them changes course or speed,” barked Tetsuo to the technician as he stormed out the door. The technician didn’t even have time to answer before he was gone. Since there was nothing that Todd could do from the control room, he decided to follow Tetsuo, but almost had to run to keep up with him. Tetsuo entered a small room with a wall of large glass windows that opened to an enormous hall. Todd stepped closer to the window to get a better look. One section of the hall was filled with rows of shipping containers sitting on movable platforms under a sign labeled ‘Outbound Items’. The opposite side of the hall was completely empty, but had another sign labeled ‘Inbound Items’. It was clear that this was one of the main transfer stations in the city. A few people were moving about checking on the cargo that was waiting to be moved through a portal when it opened. Todd turned to ask Tetsuo a question when he stopped short. Tetsuo was sitting in a large comfortable chair that overlooked the shipping area, but appeared to be concentrating on something with his eyes closed. “Damn it!” he said quietly.
“What is it?” asked Todd. Tetsuo was startled by the question and opened his eyes. He seemed surprised that anyone else was in the room.
He recovered his composure quickly and said, “They’re still out of range for me. I’m hoping that they’ll start to decelerate soon.”
“They really don’t need to, you know?” Todd commented.
Tetsuo look confused for a moment before asking, “What do you mean? They’ll have to slow down to be able to transfer to the other ship.”
“Not really,” answered Todd. “They just need to get a teleport within range of the shuttle.”
“You mean a ship to ship teleport?” asked Tetsuo. “The timing needed to do that at their speed, they’d have to be insane!”
“I don’t know about insane, but professional and organized. From what I see, they’re well funded and have a clear understanding of your abilities,” explained Todd. “Somehow they knew about Alice, and that she was safe to move. But the most important point is that they knew exactly when you would be vulnerable.”
Tetsuo looked at his watch again and said, “If they’re attempting a ship to ship teleport, then we have less than thirty minutes to do something.” As the two men looked at each other, each hoping that the other would be able to come up with a plan, Tetsuo’s eCom rang. He hit the talk button and said, “Yes?... Okay pipe it through to my control room.”
The speakers had a bit of static but a woman with a Scottish accent could be hear saying, “.. do you read me? Tenkei, come in.”
Todd couldn’t stop from shouting, “Sarah, it’s good to hear you! What’s going on in there?”
“The pilot and co-pilot have killed power in here,” she said quickly. “Maren is powering up the radio.”
“Is Alice alright?” asked Tetsuo.
“She’s fine,” answered Sarah. “She’s been asking to talk to you.”
Alice could be heard over the speaker. Her voice was quiet and further away from the microphone. “Oji, I don’t like it here,” she said. “Can I come home now?”
“Soon, Nyoko,” he answered. “I’ll come and get you as soon as I can.”
“Sarah, did you bring your tools with you?” asked Todd.
“Aye, of course I did,” she answered.
Todd never knew Sarah to go anywhere without some tools. He was happy that this time was no different. “Good, I need you to modify the field generator,” he explained.
“But we’re still running power into it,” she objected. “I cannae modify anythin while it’s running!”
“I know, but there’s another ship heading your way,” Todd really didn’t have time to explain this, but knew she wouldn’t blindly follow him. “You need to attach it to a bulkhead and modify the field to disrupt teleports.”
It was now Tetsuo’s turn to object. “That will allow Alice to charge up again! You can’t turn it off!”
The delay in getting the changes done was starting to get at Todd, but he explained anyway. “The field generator is the only thing they have to stop a teleport,” he said. “At the distance they are from the city and with the fact the Alice should be completely drained of energy, she shouldn’t be able to start a connection to the singularity.” He thought for a moment before talking to Sarah again, “I’ll give you the configuration you need to set the field harmonics to. Do you have something to write them down on?”
“Aye,” she answered, “give me the numbers.”
The modification wasn’t complicated and would only take a few minutes. Todd explained all the changes that were needed to modify the generator. Since the generator wasn’t really designed to work at the new settings, Todd hoped that it wouldn’t burn itself out too quickly. It wouldn’t last long in any event, but it seemed that this was their only way to buy some time before Tetsuo could open a portal.
Maren cut the power to the field generator and Sarah made the changes before taping the whole thing to the outer hull of the cargo section. She told Maren not to power up it up until they needed it. Danielle was still sitting with Alice, trying to calm her down without much success.
Danielle finally gave up and said, “Okay, I’ll ask them, but no promises.” This seemed to satisfy the little girl and she smiled at Danielle.
“What’s going on, Danielle?” asked Maren.
“Alice and I have been talking telepathically,” Danielle started to explain. “When Alice said that she wanted to go home, she meant she wanted to open a portal of her own and take all of us to Tenkei.”
Kaito responded first by saying, “She’s never opened a portal deliberately, yet. How does she know if she can?”
Alice was getting tired of all the people talking, but completely ignoring her. “I don’t know if I can, but I want to try!” she said loud enough for all of them to hear.
“I think Alice may be able to open the portal if she has enough power,” explained Danielle. “I just have no idea how much power that is.”
“I have a feel for how much power I need,” Alice added, “but I have nothing to compare it to.”
“What form of energy are you able to absorb?” asked Maren.
Alice looked a little embarrassed as she said, “I don’t know. I know what it feels like, but I don’t know what to call it.”
“The type of energy she’s thinking about isn’t familiar to me either,” Danielle explained.
“I think that the three of us have an understanding of almost every type of energy known,” commented Kaito. “Could you compare it to what we know?”
Danielle shrugged and said, “Sure, as long as one of you and Alice envision the energy in a similar way.”
Danielle looked at Alice and concentrated so that she could get a good impression of the energy pattern before looking for it in the others. She started with Kaito. He had been in telepathic contact with a few bio elementals during his career and was familiar with several forms of energy generated by the human body. Unfortunately, none of the energy patterns were familiar, or even close to the amount of power needed. The next person was Sarah. She was familiar with a far wider range of energy patterns, but again, none of them matched the pattern that Danielle was looking for. However some of the extremely high frequency radio waves were close. The last person to look at was Maren. The number of energy sources that she was familiar with was incredible, and the search took a while to compare them all, but finally a match was found.
“Okay,” said Maren to Alice. “Now that we know what type of energy you can use, we need to know how much. I’m going to convert some energy and you need to let me know how much more you need.”
Alice smiled at Maren and nodded her head. Maren floated over to the little girl and touched her shoulder. Maren was limited on the energy sources that she could use for conversion. The light was too dim to be of any use, and the micro gravity they were in was out of the questions as well. She could still convert matter to energy, even though that was always a bad reminder of an unpleasant experience. Alice was surprised by the sudden increase in energy level, but frowned when the source was cut off so soon.
“Is that all?” she asked. “I need a lot more that that.”
“Wait,” called Kaito. “You can’t flood the shuttle with that kind of energy.” He turned his tablet around to show the others the screen. On the tablet was a graph showing background radiation during Maren’s test with Alice. The spike at the end of the graph was significantly higher than the time before or after. “That spike is showing gamma radiation. If you flood the shuttle with that we might be able to get out of here, but we won’t live long!”
Maren chuckled for a moment before explaining, “I wasn’t generating gamma rays. I’m surprised that your sensors picked it up at all.”
Kaito was confused, if it wasn’t gamma rays what was it? “What do you mean?”
“I’ve only encountered that type of energy from one source. I know it’s not dangerous, at least not at that low level.” Maren thought that it was interesting that Sanura’s dark energy would set off a gamma ray detector. She wondered if Sanura knew about that. Maren had always wondered how Tetsuo had been able to harness the power of a singularity. Now she knew. “We have another problem though. I can’t generate very much of that energy.”
”Maybe we dinnae need that much,” Sarah suggested. She turned to Alice and asked, “With the energy Maren gave you, are you able to recreate the link to the city’s power source?”
Danielle suggested, “Close your eyes and look out with your mind. You should be able to see the energy source as a bright light in the distance.” She noticed the confused look on the others and added, “I know it’s not a light at all. It’s just the image I saw in her mind before you were able to cut her off from it.”
“I see it!” exclaimed Alice. “But it’s so far away.”
“I can try giving her a little more energy,” suggested Maren. “See if that will help.”
“Only if you’re sure that it’s not gamma rays,” warned Kaito. “And no more than the amount you already generated. If the detector is reading gamma, I can’t believe that it will no have any effect on us.”
“Alice,” said Maren, “I’ll give you that same amount of energy again. You need to concentrate on the light when I do, okay?”
“Okay, I’ll try,” she answered. Maren placed her hand on Alice’s shoulder again as she concentrated on the light. In her mind she felt like she was pulling herself closer to it. The closer Alice got the more energy she received until it flooded into her and she clutched her chest, moaning in pain.
“Are you okay Alice?” asked Kaito. “You need to stop if the pain is too much.”
“It’s okay,” she said. “A control switch popped into my mind. I think I can handle it now.”
The others looked at Danielle but didn’t know if she had done anything. She blushed slightly before saying, “It was just a suggestion. I’m just as surprised as you that it worked.”
“I’m getting it,” Alice told the other. “It feels funny. Like someone is tickling me from the inside.” She giggled as she tried to explain it to the others.
“Now for the hard part,” Danielle said to the others. “Alice, you need to concentrate on where you want to be. Picture it in your mind with as much detail as you can remember, okay?”
A teleporter can appear in a lot of distinctive ways. Many of them make a popping sound as their body mass instantly displaces air. However the teleporter that appeared in the shuttle made no sound at all, he simply faded in. If he hadn’t appeared right in front of Kaito, no one would even have noticed him in the dim light. The man had dark skin and was dressed from head to foot in black. It was also clear that he was well armed, including an odd looking gun that he held in his right hand. He quickly decided which of the two people near Alice to shoot. Since Danielle was facing him, he aimed at her. The dart that hit Danielle was very small but the sedative that it contained was extremely powerful. If there had been any gravity, she would have fallen to the floor, unconscious. Fortunately she was still strapped into the chair and didn’t float away.
Sarah yelled to Maren, “The field, you need to power it up!” Maren was still holding the cable from earlier and she sent an electrical charge down the wire to the field generator. Instead of the quiet gentle hum that it had been making, the generator made a high pitched whistle and sparks could be seen arcing across the surface of the shuttles hull. The teleporter attempted to turn in the micro gravity, but was only able to twist his body slightly to see where the sound was coming from. The man floated close enough to Alice to grab her arm. When he didn’t immediately disappear he looked around, searching for the reason why. That was when Kaito made his move. He launched himself at the dark man with a hypodermic in his hand. The impact forced the contents into the back of the teleporter before the doctor bounced off and crashed into the hull again. The teleporter aimed the dart gun at Kaito and pulled the trigger in a single, smooth action. Kaito’s momentum caused him to bounce off the hull again and float motionlessly through the air. The teleporter attempted to turn and fire his dart gun at the next person, but the drug was already taking effect. He blinked several times in an attempt to focus on his next target. He aimed his weapon at Sarah but couldn’t hold it steady enough to get a good shot. The dart embedded itself in the chair behind her as he lost his short battle with the drug. His eyes rolled back as he passed out, the gun floating off on its own path through the air.
Sarah hit the button on the radio again and said, “We have him and he’ll no’ be going anywhere!”
“What’s going on over there?” Todd almost yelled into the radio. He hated not being in control almost as much as not knowing what was happening. “What happened?”
“We had a nice gentleman come and join our little party,” explained Maren. “I don’t think he expected it to be a one way trip, though.”
“Is everyone okay?” asked Tetsuo.
“Yeah, there was only the one man,” explained Maren. “It was a good thing that he was using a dart gun. A regular gun would have made Swiss cheese of the hull.”
Sarah had pushed off of the wall and floated over to Kaito to check his pulse. “Aye, it looks like Kaito and Danielle are having a wee nap, too,” added Sarah.
Alice had lost her concentration during the attack, but she started again as soon as she was able. Maren kept the power running to the field generator, just in case there was a second teleporter. With the changes to the generator, it couldn’t stop Alice anymore, and after a moment a black oval started to appear. It started small and slowly grew to about two meters at its widest point. Once it stopped growing it stayed black for several seconds before the shuttle bay in Tenkei appeared through the opening.
“Get someone down to the Shuttle bay,” Sarah said over the radio. “I have no idea how long that bloke will be out. We’ll meet you there.”
“What are you talking about?” Todd asked but she didn’t answer. She wanted to make sure they all got through the portal while Alice was able to hold it open.
Sarah grabbed the unconscious teleporter and pushed him through the opening. She chuckled a little to herself as he crashed to the floor once he passed through and was within the gravity field of the city. Maren floated over to Danielle, loosened the buckle around her waist and pulled her to the opening. Sarah was already maneuvered Kaito through the opening while Maren got Danielle closer.
“Nice of you to make a soft landing for us,” Maren joked as she push Danielle through.
Sarah floated over the chair that Alice was buckled into and said, “Are you ready to go home now?” She nodded her head and grinned from ear to ear, partly from pride, and partly from the fact that she would be home soon. When they turned and looked at the portal, they saw that Maren had already passed through and was standing in the shuttle bay looking back at them. The two passed through and fell to the floor in a heap from the sudden gravity. They both looked at each other and started to laugh as the portal flashed and disappeared.
Maren, Sarah and Alice hugged each other and were still giggling when the security team burst through the door into the shuttle bay area, followed by Tetsuo, Todd and an emergency medical team. The security team put the teleporter onto a stretcher and started to take him out, when Tetsuo said, “Make sure he’s placed in a cell with a teleport suppressor. I don’t want him going anywhere.” The team leader just nodded and continued with the rest of his team through the large doors.
The medical team checked Kaito’s and Danielle’s vital signs. They placed them onto stretchers as well and started to move them to one of the local hospitals. Before they got too far, Maren walked over to one of the EMT’s and handed her the dart gun. “This should help you figure out what they were hit with,” she said. When she turned back to the group she was a little surprised to find Todd in a tight hug with Sarah. It was almost as tight as the hug that Tetsuo was getting from Alice.
Less than an hour later, Tetsuo was in the shuttle bay again with the same security team. He closed his eyes for a moment and concentrated. A portal started to form in mid-air, about five meters off the floor of the shuttle bay. When it finished growing the portal was at least forty meters in diameter and remained completely black, unlike his normal portals. This one would only allow matter to travel one way, from the other side to this end, stopping the air from being sucked out. Several thousand kilometers away, another portal formed near the shuttle moving at the same speed as it. The pilot or copilot had no idea what was happening until it was too late. As soon as the portal had grown to the same size as the one in the shuttle bay it slowly started to move closer. In the shuttle bay the underside of the shuttle could be seen emerging from the inky colored hole. As soon as it came into contact with the gravity field of the city, it crashed to the shuttle bay floor, returning the shuttle to the exact spot it had been just a short time before.
Tetsuo turned to the security team leader and said, “Lock them up. I’ll deal with those two later.”
Todd’s frustration was starting to show as he stood in front of the mirror. He hated ties and was about to give up when Sarah stepped into the bathroom. “Ach, you’re useless with that thing,” she said as she pulled it out of his hands. “Let me do it for ya.” She untangled the knot and expertly retied it at the perfect length.
“Where did you learn to do that?” he asked as he examined her work.
“I had to wear one every day with my school uni,” explained Sarah. “You Americans could learn a thing or two from our schools. Now zip me up or we’ll be late.” She turned her back so that Todd could pull the zipper of her dress up. She could reach herself, but it was easier to ask for a little help. The two stepped out of the patio door onto the lanai and waited. The white sand of the beach a short distance away was being painted pink and red by the setting sun. Sarah smiled at the beautiful scene and held Todd’s arm a little closer. He looked at her and smiled before leaning down slightly to kiss her.
It had been only a couple of weeks since their adventure in Tenkei, but it had changed their relationship forever. Todd finally realized how much she meant to him when Sarah had been in danger. Todd hadn’t had a real relationship with anyone since his daughter Rebecca had disappeared. He still wouldn’t accept that she was likely dead after all these years. It was one of the main reasons that his wife Helen had left him so long ago.
“It should be here by now,” Todd said as he looked at his watch again.
Sarah turned and straightened his tie again, even though it didn’t need it and said, “Would ya just calm yourself? You need to learn to be a little more patient.” As if on cue a portal started to form in front of them. It only took a few seconds for the portal to grow to its full size of just over two meters before a crowded room could be seen through it. Alice stood on the other side wearing a very pretty red dress with matching ribbons in her hair.
Alice bowed before saying, “Konbanwa, tomodachi.”
Sarah and Todd stepped through the portal and bowed before saying good evening back. Alice giggled at Sarah’s attempt at saying the Japanese phrase while she gave her a tight hug. Todd found himself in a tight hug with Alice soon afterwards.
Tetsuo walked up behind Alice and said “You are showing great control of your portals, Alice. I’m very proud of you. But remember what I said. Don’t be going around hugging everyone, okay?”
Alice let go of Todd’s waist and said, “I remember Uncle, but they’re different.” Tetsuo was about to say something else when Alice suddenly noticed someone in the crowd and ran off. The large room was only dimly lit, but the city lights added to this though the glass windows on three of the four walls. A large portion of the city could easily be seen through each of the large windows. People were wandering around talking to each other, most of them with a drink in their hand from one of the three bars that could be seen.
Todd and Tetsuo stepped over to a nearby table filled with glass cups and a silver drink fountain. The flowing fountain had been filled with fruit juice instead of champagne, so that no one would have to worry about the younger guests that were running around. Todd decided to ask the question that had been on his mind for the last few weeks. “I did a little digging, and I know that you have no siblings. Since Alice couldn’t be you’re niece, who is she?”
Tetsuo smiled as he picked up one of the cups and started to fill it with juice. “Can I get you something to drink?” he asked, making it clear that he had no intention of answering Todd’s question.
Todd wasn’t surprised with the sudden change in subject. He was only curious and didn’t want to offend Tetsuo. “I’d love some, thank you,” he answered with a smile.
“I was hoping to get a chance to talk to you tonight,” said Tetsuo. “I have another small project that you might be interested in.”
Sarah followed Alice into the restaurant in hopes of finding Maren. When she caught up with Alice, she was with a younger girl who was wearing a cute black dress with white stockings. As Sarah got closer to the two girls she noticed Maren standing nearby, facing the other way. The small child in her arms was dressed in a white dress with black stockings, but must have been only about three years old. She looked like a miniature version of Maren, including the black tail and the cat’s eyes. As she walked closer to Maren the little girl noticed Sarah’s horns and tried to reach for them. Maren turned to see why the little girl was squirming and noticed Sarah walking towards them.
“Aw your wee bairn is a right beauty,” said Sarah as she held out her hand for the little girl to hold onto. She was a little surprised at the strength of her grip, but was more surprised when her tail wrapped itself around her wrist. Sarah looked at Maren and laughed before saying, “She must be a right terror around the house with that.”
“Yeah it makes for a few challenges when baby proofing the house,” replied Maren. “Fortunately, I had some experience with a pet I had before. A squog can be even more trouble.”
Sarah was excited and couldn’t wait any longer to ask, “So, I’ve been dying to know. Have you had any news?”
Before she could answer, Todd walked up behind Sarah and put his hand around her waist as he said, “News about what?”
“I was at the doctor’s last week,” she started to say. Before Maren could continue her answer, a tall man with a drink in each hand walked up to them, followed by a dog hybrid woman. He looked to be in his mid thirties and dressed in a fashionable suit. He handed Maren one of the drinks before giving her a quick kiss.
“So, have you told them yet?” he asked Maren.
“I would if you men would stop interrupting me,” she said with a slight chuckle. “Anyway, I was at the doctor’s last week for another check up. He said everything is fine. I’m…” Maren looked at the man affectionately before continuing, “We’re ten weeks pregnant. And all the scans indicate a healthy boy.”
Sarah leaned in for a one handed hug and a quick kiss on the cheek before saying, “Congratulations, I was so worried for you. I’ve been researching cases of pregnant women and portals, but there’s no’ much information yet!”
Todd raised an eyebrow as he looked at Sarah and asked, “You already knew about it?”
“Aye,” Sarah said with a nod. “We were talking in the hospital after Alice got us all back to the city. Maren was a wee bit worried about passing through the portal.”
Todd was still confused. “Didn’t you get to the city through a portal to begin with?” he asked Maren.
“No, I took a shuttle. No one could tell me if there would be any effect on the baby,” explained Maren.
Maren smiled at the man and sipped her fruit drink. Suddenly she realized her mistake and said, “Oh you haven’t met my husband yet, have you? Todd, Sarah, this is Gabe Kramer and his mom.” She motioned to both her husband and the woman hybrid. Than she turned slightly to face Gabe before saying, “This is Todd and Sarah, the two that I’ve been telling all the stories about.”
Gabe shook Todd’s hand and said, “It’s nice to finally meet you two.” He turned to shake Sarah’s hand but found that her arm was still a little tangled up. “I see that Caitlin has got a good grip on you there,” he said with a smile.
“Aye she does,” Sarah commented. “I was trying to work out how to free myself.” Gabe reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a small stuffed animal. The black and white material was worn and showed several areas that had been repaired. It might have been a cat at one point in time, but it had seen better days. The moment Caitlin saw the small toy she loosened her grip on Sarah’s arm and grabbed it.
“Kitty,” Caitlin squealed as she cuddled the soft toy into her neck. Gabe’s mother took little Caitlin from Maren and cuddled her.
“There you go, works every time,” Gabe said. “It was Jessica’s favorite toy when she was younger. She surprised us all when she gave it to Caitlin on her first birthday. It’s been Caitlin’s favorite toy ever since.”
Gabe’s mother asked something from Gabe in an odd language. Gabe replied in English, “Jessica is over by the juice fountain with Alice.” She smiled and excused herself to the group and headed off to find the other girls.
Todd looked around the room, admiring the decor. The view of the city out the window was spectacular. It would definitely be a great attraction, particularly at this time of night with the city lights. “I can’t believe you got all this done so fast,” said Todd in amazement.
“This was the observation level of Tetsuo’s head office,” explained Gabe. “He donated it to us as well as the crew to get it all done in time.”
“I cannae believe the view from here,” Sarah said as she looked towards the windows, but kept her distance. “But you’ll have to forgive me for not getting closer.” After a few seconds she turned and focused on the decor of the restaurant instead.
Suddenly a familiar voice was heard a short distance away, “You haven’t seen the best part yet.” Sarah turned to see Tetsuo walk closer to the quickly growing group of people. He was followed by a short woman holding a small child in her arms. Sarah knew the woman instantly, though she had never met her before. The grey fur, black hair and bright blue cats eyes made it very easy to recognize Dr. Sanura Miller. Since the small boy in her arms had the same hair and eyes, he had to be her son. The red elf shaped ears and red tail were a nice contrast to his dark hair.
Since Sanura was holding onto the baby, she playfully bumped into Tetsuo and said, “Don’t you be ruining the surprise for them.”
“Dr. Miller,” Todd said with a smile, “it’s an honor to meet you, finally. I had no idea that you were in Tenkei.”
“Please, call me Sanura,” she said with a bright smile. “I was here to do some repairs on one of the power generators. It seems that someone has been over using the energy output of the singularities, here.”
“That’s why I’ve asked you to build another one,” Tetsuo added. “That is, when you have time, of course.”
“I knew you had a hand in those things,” Maren said with a little satisfaction. “The energy has a very distinctive feel to it. Where’s Amy? Didn’t she come too?”
“She’s around here somewhere. She’s looking for Faline again.”
Gabe couldn’t resist teasing her. “How do you lose a ten year old girl with flaming wings and hair?”
Sarah was shocked. “Her hair and wings are made of fire?”
“No, no,” explained Sanura. “They’re just a very bright red. She gets that from her mother.” As if on cue, a tall woman with bright red hair stepped up behind Sanura. The small boy in her arms reached out to her as she took him from Sanura.
“Did I hear you talking about me again?” asked Amy. “Oh, he’s getting heavy,” she added as she tried to hold him on her hip.
“Where’s Faline?” asked Sanura as she stretched out her arm to get the feeling back.
“She’s with Alice and Jessica at the juice fountain. She promised to stay here this time.”
Tetsuo looked at Gabe and asked, “Since everyone is here now, would you like to do the honors?” Gabe and Maren both smiled while some of the group just looked on in confusion. Gabe and Maren made their way to a large set of double doors on the only wall that didn’t have any windows. They stood in front of the doors and waited a moment to get everybody’s attention.
Gabe spoke in a loud voice, “Ladies and Gentlemen, if I can have your attention for a moment?” He waited again, but only for a moment while the room filled with people became quiet.
He continued once the room was almost silent, “Maren and I would like to thank each of you for coming to the grand opening of our latest Everybody’s Place. We plan on spending a lot of time here over the next few months to get this place up and running.” Gabe indicated a young man in a Chef’s uniform near the back of the room, “I have a new head Chef to train as well, so I have a good excuse for staying.” Several of the people in the room laughed politely at his attempt at humor.
“While I know all of you would enjoy the drinks, I hope you’re really here for the food and to see the whole place.” With that, both Maren and Gabe opened the double doors that led to the remainder of the restaurant. The next room was filled with tables of food, laid out in buffet style. Behind each table stood someone to explain each dish and serve them to the guests. The comfortable, relaxed decor was continued through to the next room, but the most striking item was the view out the far window. The Earth could be seen through the glass, the sun was just about to set behind it and lit up the room with a beautiful yellow color. The image was breathtaking and several people gasped as they saw it through the large double doors.
Maren said to the room, “I hope everyone is hungry. I know I am.”
Todd looked at Sarah and said, “We don’t have to go in there if you don’t want to. I know how you feel about heights.”
Sarah looked at the Earth floating in the sky through the window and smiled. “That’s okay,” she said. “It doesnae bother me. I know I cannae fall that way. Now looking out the window at the street below is completely different.”
Todd just laughed as he said, “Now you tell me!” He held out his arm for Sarah to take hold of before passing through the large doors with the rest of the guests.
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/