He swiped his hand over the black glass clasped to his forearm. The interface sprang to life with a keypad of vivid blue glyphs. Tapping at a few keys the interface began to darken, a small blue light blipped faintly at his wrist.
“This is Sanctum.” The voice came from a small communicate patch behind his ear.
The voice came from a small communicate patch behind his ear.
“Sanctum, this is 198.”
“198, what is your status?”
“We lost the target Sanctum.”
“Stand by.” The comm link went quite, the small blue light pulsing in a sea of darkness.
“We’ve noticed an anomaly in your location, can you confirm?”
“Yes, Sanctum. Target destroyed the gap when we got too close. Pursuit is now impossible.” The voice cut him off sharply
“Nothing is impossible 198.”
The black glass surrounding his forearm sprang to life, darkness brightens to a map, two blue dots appeared and the screen zoomed out showing an aerial view of London. Slowly it refocused on another dot, this time a red beacon. A line between the points became visible and again slowly the interface scrolled back to the location of 198 and his partner.
“Good, now don’t let us down again or you might consider not coming back 198.”
The small blue light faded from the interface, leaving a map to the next gap.
198 turned to the agent beside him.
The second time through the portal was equally weird, Jake thought that he could dimension hop a million times and he would never get used to it. The Gap from the Scottish Earth had led to a sprawling metropolis with tall buildings of glass and vibrant holographic signs, holograms 100 feet high fought for the dominance over the skies while the sideways and road were congested with people and multicolored tear dropped shaped projectiles which Jake could only guess was cars, although no discernible wheels or windows could be seen.
The shock of coming out on a busy sidewalk was far more shocking than the actual gap itself. An old man who had been sitting sipping at a bottle of spirits had seen the two materialize out of a galvanized wall, a look of puzzlement had crossed his face momentarily before he checked the back of the bottle and smiled to himself, the liquor had done its job today.
Jake stumbled out into the road, a horn blasted and loud whirl deafened him to the point of disorientation but luckily Sam managed to grab the neck of his gray suit and pulled him back to safety. It was Sam’s turn next to step out into the road as raised his hand. A metallic yellow vehicle glided over to the curb, the traffic flowed around it like a current in a river. A portion of the body disintegrated and a hairy arm and breaded face looked out.
“Fourth and Main.”
The driver nodded and pointed above his head to a black box on the roof of the cab. A red strip of light flashed out and scanned Sam’s Face, a beep sounded from within the cockpit of the cab and the driver gestured to the back door.
“Jump on in guys.”
The rear portion of the cab disintegrated like the driver’s window allowing them to board the weird vehicle.
Moments later the cab flittered through the busy evening traffic as Jake watched the inhabitants of this Earth go about their day. The tall high rises obliterated the sky, the darkness of the night didn’t touch these sidewalks, the illumination from the advertising scared the shadow into the most deprived parts of the city, like rats in the sewers.
The taxi eventually slowed and stopped outside a rough looking building with the letters Rockefeller in dull red type attached to the wall. The F dangled down like it was trying to escape its drab existence. Theatre pictures clung to the dirty walls, some peeling away in complicity to the F.
An automated female voice rang out from the Taxi.
“Thank you, Mr. Welsh, your account has been debited for 45 credits, have a good day.”
Jake stepped out on the cold streets of Manhattan, the wind swept a crisp packet down the gutters as Sam walked around the taxi to nudge a gawking Jake.
Sam allowed himself to be guided down the sidewalk, content in being a stranger in a strange land, he also thought that Sam looked like he knew where he was going, that was until he turned into a busy Chinese restaurant. Once inside, Sam conferred with a Brunette lady in a red dragon print dress. She pointed to a small table at the rear of the restaurant by a huge glass fish tanks. Sam nodded and signaled to Jake. After a couple of minutes at the table, a waitress in a similar blue dragon print dress approached with a small black handheld tablet.
“Good evening gentlemen.”
She pointed the tablet at Jake’s face and a burst of red light surged out.
Jake blinked while the same happened to Sam.
“Thank you, Mr. Welsh Mr. Schafer, Can I get you guys some drinks first or would you like to see the special now?” Sam rubbed his face and blinked a few times.
“The Special please and two beers while we wait.” The waitress nodded and tapped at the tablet.
“Won’t be a moment.” she turned in a flurry of blonde hair and was gone.
Sam relax in the high-backed seat and looked at Jakes questioning look, the supple brown leather was scarred and marked by constant wear.
“The owner is an old friend of mine, he has contacts everywhere. If anyone knows what going on with the Regulators he will.”
The smell of the food made Jake’s stomach wake up. How long had it been since he last ate? Probably the 6-inch steak and bacon from the subway that afternoon.
The waitress came back with the beers and passed Sam a note. Sam took a swig from the bottle and placed it back on the napkin. He unfolded the paper, read the contents and refolded it. Sam looked about quickly, took another swig from the beer and stood up.
“The way I see it if we know whats going on within the council we can plan our next move is. Come on Jake.”
“What, I thought…” Sam rounded the table and walked to a red door beside the fish tank as Jake followed reluctantly behind.
The red door opened into a small corridor with pictures of Chinese rice field on the walls. A small pot plant stood by the opposite door, with long purple stems and leaves that swayed to the faint music coming from speakers in the ceiling.
Sam opened the next door to a crowded room, a small staircase went down to a worn green carpet with a diamond patch designs. Large screens within the room illuminated the room to an eye-hurting level. The screening filling the walls showed some kind of animal racing. What looked like giant spiders scurried around a huge red dirt track with men perched in saddles on their hindquarters.
One of the spiders fought for a place amongst the bunch, the spider spat out a sticky web and caught the lead rider, the next moment the rider was jerked from his saddle and into its hungry mauls, the lead spider lost its direction and slammed into the walls of the track. The men around the walls cheered, others screwed up their faces and buried them into their hands. Sam trotted down the stairs and was met by a small light skinned man with long white hair tied back in a ponytail, cherry red cowboy boots and worn blue denim jeans.
“Hey Y’all, so good to see you Sam and …” Sam cut him off with a quick hand across the throat signal. The urban cowboy turned the faint into a cough.
“Ugh, excuse me, I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure, I’m Billy Lee.”
The little man shook Jake’s hand in a limp grip.
“Now then my friends, what do I owe this pleasure?”
Billy pulled at a passing man and spoke in rapid Cantonese, the man nodded once and darted away.
“Come, follow me, it’s as loud as a gun fight in here, and hot too boot. One of my little ladies will bring Y’all some refreshments soon.”
Billy led them through the throng of the denizens of his gambling den to a doorway covered by a velvet curtain. Two menacing gargoyles framed the opening with automatic weapons. He patted one on the arm and chuckled in an apologetic air before going through.
“Never can be too sure, come come.”
The doorway led to a smaller room with lush furniture and low lighting, 3 scantily clad girls lounged about idly. Billy waved a hand and the girls vacated with hurt expressions.
“Sit, sit, Y’all must tell me what brings you to my fine establishment.”
Jake sat in an overly larger armchair while Billy put his cowboy boot up on the small table and put his hand behind his head. For the first time, Jake noticed the state of his expensive suit. Dirt stained the knees and the left arm had been ripped and torn from one of his flights. Yesterday he would have been mortified by his disheveled look, but that was before his world had dissolved around him.
Now he just felt lucky that he wasn’t being chased by people trying to kill him. Jake listened as Sam told the cowboy about the recent encounter with the Regulators, how the other Jake had found his doppelganger and had given him the device and the subsequent chase that lead them here.
Billy whistled, “That’s some story. I’ve heard rumors that they’re searching for something. Someone has stolen something very important to them and they want it back bad.”
“Do you know what?”
“It’s pretty hush at the mo, but from what little I’ve heard, it’s what you just described. All I know is that it’s supposed to be a real game changer.”
“Billy here use to work in the same department as me before we went rogue.” Billy smiled and flicked Jake a quick salute.
“Dimensions right? What a head fuck.”
“Billy was the one who caught wind of what the polluxian’s were up to, although he also found out that the council wasn’t playing fair either.”
“Yeah, you told me the story, bad aliens, sent through a wrong portal.” said Jake.
Billy leaned in over the small table. “No not wrong, exactly the opposite.” Billy touched the side of his nose and sat back.
“I didn’t believe him at first either, the council would never knowingly send a destructive race to another earth. But the signs are there if you know where to looks.” Said Sam, as he turned to Billy with a serious look.
“We need to use it, Billy.”
“Arrrh, so soon, can’t it wait? Y’all need a bit of R and R. Take a load off, have a few beers, I’ll bring back the girls. it’ll be fun, just like old times. It’s been ages since I last saw someone from 9.”
“Sorry Billy I didn’t want to bring trouble to your door but I didn’t have a choice. I destroyed a gap from Earth 8 so they couldn’t follow but there are other ways to get here. The sooner you get rid of me the better it will be for you.”
“Ah, they can go to Earth 500 for I care.” Jake looked quizzicality at Sam, he shook his head.
“Asteroid hit it, brought in another ice age.”
Billy stood up and motioned for them to follow him. The velvet curtain flapped open and the lady in the red dragon dress came through in a fluster. She grabbed onto Billy and spoke rapid Cantonese. Billy’s eyes went wide with fear, the distant sound of gun fire punctured above the noise of the gambling den. Billy spoke back to the girl, she nodded and ran back through the curtain.
“Too late, they’ve found you, quickly.”
Billy flew through the curtain not waiting for them. Out in the gambling room, Billy shouted and the denizen froze. Just then the door to the room shattered to pieces showering the room. The two armed guards opened fire on the Regulators as people fell to the floor in fear. Billy shouted above the gunfire.
“Quickly, follow me.”
Jake darted toward Billy with Sam close on his heel, Billy pulled at a section of screens and they slide apart.
Inside was a pool of slowly rotating blue light, Billy reached to his throat and removed a string necklace with a holographic disc on the end and gave it to Sam. he pointed to the pool as he pulled a gun from his back.
“That will show you the way to Max. If anyone can help you, Max can. Make sure you say hi from me though.”
With that, he turned and went back out into the firefight as Sam and Jake jumped into the swirling pool.