The Super Soldier
"A Rocketman Story"
By John Pirillo
"Rockets!" Harry cried out and everyone scattered as he blasted past them, accelerating faster and faster, a trail of radiant energies lighting his path.
Techs and ground crew hid behind blast shields, not wanting to get exposed to the radiation, which they already knew from Einstein and Harry personally, was unstable and had some pretty drastic side effects, like projecting Harry back and forth through time, from the time of World War Two at a crucial moment of battle there, to the future where the Nazis ruled the planet because the Allies had been too late in stopping them.
Harry's so-called plate was full of sour grapes. The girlfriend he would never see again because he had been frozen in time on the real world and didn't wake up until she was long dead, and only her daughter and granddaughter still lived. That was the future Harry world, where Nazis ran rampant and destructive. However, in the first timeline Harry had been flying his rocket suit, the war had not yet been decided. In that war he was flung away from his loved one for another reason, to protect the secrecy of the project he lead...Rocketman. A rocket suit that allowed him to fly faster than even the Nazi buzz bombs. He had broken the sound barrier in that particular life stream, but in the present one, which seemed to become more and more of late the one he would live the last of his day sin, he had an incredible suit that had been updated and used tech that was unheard of in his original timeline.
In this timeline Einstein and Tesla worked together as a team to build his suit, and his weapons. The base was pretty much the same though, hidden high in the Swiss Alps, overlooking a beautiful lake below. In this life stream it was overrun by Nazis Warlords and Storm Troopers, and the occasional Super Soldiers, genetically enhanced monsters that stood over eight feet tall and could take a lot of punishment before going down.
Jet waved as he shot out the secret entrance and he toggled his suit slightly several times in acknowledgement and angled up towards the stars. He never flew during the day unless the weather was almost catastrophically bad, because they didn't dear let the Nazis know what they had and where they had it. If they did, it would be end game. Nazis win, no more free men anywhere to resist them.
Oh sure, there'd be a few here and there, but doomed to failure because of the lack of technical and weapons support. Harry was the support here. They had spies all over the place in secret resistance movements, who would flag important troop movements, supply trains...in time line, they were super fast bullet trains that hovered above the tracks and flew like rockets on their antigravity streams.
Harry had taken out one about a month ago and it had almost taken him with it, if not for Jet. Sometimes they flew together. He had a harness he could carry Jet with, but Jet hated it, and had no problem conveying that message.
Lately, Einstein and Tesla had come up with a lighter version of the Rocketman suit and let Jet test it out. It worked perfectly for about ten flights and then dumped him into the side of a mountain, which fortunately for Jet, was snow packed, or else he'd have driven ten feet through solid rock, instead of thirty through ice and packed snow.
It had taken Harry almost twenty four hours to reach his friend, who had been almost frozen to death waiting to be rescued.
"Harry." Jet called out.
"Are fingers supposed to be blue?"
"On Christmas morning."
"Funny. How about toes?"
"Now you've really got me roaring."
"Hang on, Harry I'm shoveling as fast as I can."
"Where's the techies when you need them?"
"A thousand miles away."
"Yeah. Happens a lot to guys like me."
"You know...I'm black."
Harry roared with laughter.
"What's so funny?"
"The only thing black about you is your attitude; the rest of you is a nice chocolate cream."
"Thanks a lot, that's really encouraging.'
"You're welcome buddy."
Harry looked at his rocket suit, leaning against the slope of snow and ice. It had melted in partially from the heat of the burners in back, but otherwise it was upright, with a gaping hole where he usually climbed into it. Lucky for Jet, he had an emergency kit built into both legs of the suit, one of which had an extensible aluminum shovel.
"Getting a bit warm in here, Harry."
"Yeah. It's just balmy as hell out here too."Harry replied. "I got pretty nurses lined up for a mile applying to work at our ice cream stand."
"Don't even go there, you monster."
"What? Hate ice cream?"
"No, hate eating it alone."
"No problem, pal. Almost there."
Something threw a huge shadow across Harry's view into the hole he was digging and over him. He turned around slowly.
"I've got a little problem."
"What Betty Boop wanta audition for your talent show?"
"Funny. No, a bit bigger than that."
Harry reached for his side arm, and then realized it was lying inside the suit, all bright, clean and shiny.
"Another small problem."
Harry angled away from the hole to give himself maneuvering room. In front of him stood a Super Soldier. It was missing an eye, and he could see some of its metallic brain pan gleaming on its left side, where something had gashed the skin away. The Super Soldiers were genetically enhanced soldiers, but also physically as well, a combination of metal, electronic circuits and wildly firing genomes.
"What's your problem look like?"
Harry spoke a bit more softly into his throat mike. "It's closing in."
"That's no problem."
"I'll try to lead it way from you. You've only got about three feet of packed snow behind you."
"What in the hell am I supposed to do, kick it out?"
"Hey! Sounds like you're not only chocolate as hell, but brainy as old Al himself."
"I'm going to kill you when I get outta here, pal."
"Be my guest, but you might have to wait in line."
Harry charged the Super Soldier who turned slightly, revealing that one eye was dangling from its socket. It shoved it back in and it promptly fell back out again. Harry snatched some snow, packed it tight and flung it into its good eye.
"Roar!" The Super Soldier screamed, temporarily blinded by the substance in its good eye.
Harry launched himself and struck the soldier in its midsection, knocking it backwards. It teetered on the edge of the drop it had climbed out of, and then regained traction and swatted Harry away from the edge like a tiger swatting a fly.
Harry flew through the air and struck a huge frozen rock. He lay stunned there, his senses reeling while the Super Soldier struggled to get its other eye back into its socket. It also looked for a weapon. Its weapon belt was empty. Whatever had happened to it, it was weaponless. But for a creature like that, it didn't need much of a weapon, its body was a pretty good stand in. It could crush Harry's skull if it every got its hands on him long enough.
Harry rolled over as a huge fallen branch in the hands of the soldier smashed into the stone he had lain against and shattered into a thousand pieces. The soldier roared angrily and charged after Harry, who saw his chance and launched himself in between two large trees, smashing in to some thick brush, where he hid behind, while the soldier tried to figure out exactly where he was. He was counting on the soldier's weaker mind to think he had kept going.
It didn't. Something changed in the equation, Harry realized. This soldier was not just super mean and super strong, but also clever.
He felt, rather than heard the movement behind him. He rolled aside as a huge fist punched past his face and smashed into the side of the tree he was near. The tree shook from the violence of the blow and split down the middle.
"Harry, you still alive out there?"
"Not for long."
"Don't worry, pal, I got your back."
Harry rolled a new direction as the giant soldier kicked at his face. He caught the foot and twisted. The giant soldier roared and collapsed to the ground. It got up again, its face glowering with intense hatred, and eagerness. Eagerness to smash him to a pulp.
"Look, big guy, I know we kinda started out a bit on the cold side of things." Harry laughed.
The soldier gave him a blank look.
Harry paused. What was wrong?"
Then the soldier slowly began toppling towards him. Harry threw himself out of the way as the soldier fell to the ground where he had laid, a huge piece of metal stuck in its back, yellow and red blood pouring out.
The giant soldier's one eye looked at Harry a moment, glowering with anger and hatred, and then as if a light switch had been flicked off, it dimmed and the being was lost to the world.
Jet came strolling out, smacking himself to get warm. "Man, you throw one helluva birthday party."
"It's not my birthday."
"Oh, in that case, maybe we should go home. I got things to do, places to be."
Jet had given him a hand up and he had helped Jet to load his jetpack onto Harry's suit, strapping it tight with metal bands, then he brought out the harness.
"How about I fly, and you ride?"
"Won't fit me. Made for you."
Jet's eyes narrowed. "You're sure about that."
"Would I ever lie to you, Jet?"
Harry laughed and Jet got into the harness.
They flew back home safe and sound.
Harry sighed to himself as he waggled his suit one more time at his friend watching him. War was hell, but friends were heaven. He shot upwards like a rising star.
Einstein's Swivel Chair
"A Jules and Wells Story"
By John Pirillo
Wells first noticed the aberration when he was working on an upgrade to the onboard flight navigator. He and Jules had come up with this very simple device that they could feed numbers into in a series of binary codes that would then turn the code into a visible interface. From that they had, with the help of their good friends Tesla and Einstein, as well as Edison, come up with lightware...another form of binary code that could be read by the device and seen as a kind of book to read, complete with instructions how to use it.
Of course, the device had to be miniaturized to be of use within the cockpit, as it had very little spare space, but they managed to fit it under the bombing station, which had a spare foot in it.
"That should do it." Tesla had decided after hooking up the string engine to the small device.
"Do what?" Watson had asked. They were giving him a tour of their work. Sherlock had declined because he was supposedly off on vacation in the Scots, but they knew better. He never took vacations and he was never a person to relax for long. He was up to something that they were sure out sooner than later, and more than likely...once more...would require the entire Baker Street team to chip in with their skills to solve, squash, or destroy it. Such was life for the people associated with him.
"Do exactly what it needs to do." Einstein said from his perch on the pilot's chair. He swiveled in it like a child, enjoying the freedom of it.
"I really must get one of these for my office."
Wells, poking his head in from back, grinned. "Done. When would you like one?"
He and Jules, who was in the co-pilot's chair exchanged grins. "Oh, I think that could be arranged."
Einstein laughed. "You two make a mockery of my Universal Field Theory."
Watson glanced at Einstein. "That dratted thing makes a mockery of a man's intellect."
They all laughed, except for Watson, who was serious.
Jules quickly diverted to another topic. "So you think our machine..."
"You should call it a putter." Watson ventured. "It makes this tiny put put sound."
"That's the energy conversion going on." Tesla pointed out. "When the energy gets converted from the String universe to ours, there's a kind of dimensional boom."
Jules brightened. "The Wright Brothers claim that one day planes will break that dimension and the atmosphere will shatter with an explosion."
"A kind of sonic boom, hey?" Watson asked.
Einstein tapped Watson on his arm. "You're brighter than you look, Doctor."
At first Watson took that as a compliment and blushed, and then he caught on and glared at Einstein, who giggled like a school girl, got up and squeezed through his friends to exit. "Good luck with the flight, boys. Let me know how it all turns out."
He looks back and winks. "After you've dropped off that...uh...revolving chair."
Watson turned also. "Enough of this. My head's starting to hurt. It's bad enough to put up with Holmes and his outrageous theories, without busting my brain cells over this...bing...theory."
"String." Jules and Tesla spoke at the same time.
"Yes, that thing." Watson agreed, and then also exited.
Tesla patted the box he had installed the lines to. "I think putter is not a bad name at all."
Wells nodded. "Then putter it is."
Jules frowned. "Perhaps we should make sure out little device is protected from intellectual thieves."
Tesla gave him a look that asked a million questions.
Jules smiled. "In the future people will steal ideas if you don't protect them."
"Whatever for, my dear man." Tesla said. "There's so many out there."
"Some are just lazy." Wells responded.
"Or stupid." Jules added. "With greed."
"Oh yes, there's that." Tesla agreed. "Well boys, I'm off to. Got to help the old man solve his next momentous equation."
"You two have been working a lot together lately." Wells said.
"True enough. Edison has been off to the India Isles, working on some kind of device that harnesses prana."
"Prana?" Wells asked with a frown. "Not air?"
"Indeed. Air." Tesla said with a grin. "But air that's been revitalized through yogic means."
Jules shook his head. "Next thing you know someone's going to be telling us we need to meditate to help our hearts and bodies."
Wells laughed. "We'll be long dead before that happens, Jules."
"Mon Frere, I pray that is so."
Tesla shook their hands, and then also exited.
Jules tapped the pilot's chair.
Wells eyed it with eyebrows raised. "So soon, old chap?"
"Never too soon, Mon Frere."
"I see." Wells said, positioning himself at the controls. "You are eager to get into more mischief then."
"Always. I have never enough of it at home."
Wells barked with laughter. "Your children are enough mischief for a dozen men."
Jules brightened. "That is because they take after me."
They both laughed.
The Master of the World's String engines warmed up rapidly. Jules nursed them through the stages: entrance, magnetize indraw and energize. The four states of String energy. The first caused it to enter our dimension, the second to feed the engines, the third to phase it between both dimemsions and the last to direct the engines where ever in time and space they desired.
Wells looked to Jules, who nodded. He started to cause the Master of the World to rise on beams of bright String fields, when Jules suddenly barked out. "Wait!"
Wells settled the ship down and waited as Jules dashed from the cockpit through the lengthy middle and to the door, which he opened, allowing the ramp to fall down quickly. He plumetted down the ramp, not even breathing hard and dashed into a side room, where a brand new swivel chair stood.
He grinned, then hefted it easily and ran back outside, through the warehouse, up the ramp, which Wells activated from the cockpit. Before he had even stepped into the safety of the passenger compartment, the ship was sealed and lifting. He set the chair down, and then hurried back to the cockpit, where he strapped himself in.
"So what now?" Wells asked, fully knowing what Jules would ask next.
Wells set the co-ordinates and Jules gave the engines their needed juice.
The Master of the World lifted up from the warehouse for a moment, and then was surrounded by a bright penumbra, which promptly vanished. It lowered back into the warehouse. Jules unstrapped, went into the passenger compartment and exited, just as Einstein leading John Watson and Tesla entered the warehouse, all talking excitedly.
Jules went to Einstein with the chair in his arms and offered it to him.
"A little something from the future."
Einstein gave Jules a puzzled look, but when Jules set it down, sat upon it and spun. Einstein began laughing like a small girl. It's absolutely marvelous. For me? Really?"
Jules stood up and made way for Einstein, who sat upon it, then began spinning it around.
Inside the Master of the World Wells watched with a set of binoculars, his face wide with a smile.
"Sometimes time travel is not such a bad thing."
Death and Destruction
"A Rocketman Story"
By John Pirillo
He was taking a pounding that's for sure. The swashes were beating the hell out of him and he wasn't able to do a thing about it as long as his power pack was recharging. A couple dozen more charges of their hammer guns and it was all over.
How in God's name had he gotten stuck in the missionary position to the merciless bastards pounding his suit into atoms?
"A swash is a slang term for Nazi foot soldiers." Einstein told him as he sat at the edge of the cliff overlooking Lake Lucerne.
"Beautiful view, pops."
Al ignored his tease and went on. "The tropes are the super swash, genetically enhanced super soldiers capable of pounding you into the ground with one fist behind their back."
"I wonder if they still sell raspberry chocolate down there."
Al ignored this comment as well. "The zoms are civilians who have had their minds wired to remove all sense of self. They are still whole beings, but no longer in control of their senses. That is why we try not to kill them whenever possible. Instead we try to turn them."
Harry turned to eye Al, who was tamping his pipe onto the rock beside him, and reloading from a pack he pried from his jacket.
"Zoms are nominally still human people, just altered so that they have no control over their own body."
"A term I picked up..." Harry paused, trying to remember where he had heard it, and then shrugged. "From somewhere...somewhen."
Al nodded in a kind of fatherly way, and then scooted closer to Harry, examining his eyes. "The time dilation still hasn't worn off."
"Tell me about it. I feel like a taco turned inside out."
Harry turned to Al. "You really need to get out more."
Al laughed, and then tapped Harry on his right knee with his pipe stem. "Your next mission is critical. You must not harm the Zoms, even if they block your way to completing the mission. If it comes to it, you have to turn back."
"What if they're about to kill me?"
Al was silent.
Harry sighed and took a deep breath. "Life sure sucks sometimes, doesn't it?"
"Now that..." Al smiled. "That I understand."
Harry sighted the landing position in the cross hairs of his scope and began banking his rocket suit in that direction. He hadn't seen a single Swash jet since he had entered lower Lithuania, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on your sensibilities. He took a quick suck off his water stem, then clicked it shut and eyed the landing trigger. It was square on. He initiated thrusters and his suit slowed, then turned in a quick arc and landed him on his feet. He bent somewhat to absorb the impact, leaving a deep groove in the pavement he had landed on.
"Glad that was you and not me." He told the pavement, and then headed for the rendezvous point. He was meeting with a resistance leader, a pretend Zom, who was known to be faulty by the Swash, but ignored as long as he continued to do his job, which was loading and unloading weapons.
Harry's job. Rocketman's job was to make sure that loading and unloading came to a quick and timely end. The Allieds were mounting a quick thrust into the region in an effort to sweep out all the Zoms and return them to their own control, so they could join the resistance, which was spreading across Europe, however slowly.
Harry dreaded sometimes the work he did, because it kept him from returning to America, where the brain of Hitler ran everything. New Nazi New York it was called. The skyscrapers, the Empire State Building and the Monarch Building were now the headquarters for the Nazi party in America, which now led the war on the rest of the world.
When America fell during the last days of World War Two, it had ushered in a long period of subjugation and experimentation by the Fourth Reich, the reborn Nazis, led by a brain only Hitler, who lived through a robotic counterpart. It was Harry's determination to end that body that drove him on every mission in this alternate timeline.
Sometimes he missed the real timeline, but these days he wasn't so sure any timeline was real anymore than the other. No matter which one he lived in, he was getting shot at, battered and bruised, and the love of his life was dead.
But funny enough, the person he missed the most, was Jet, who had survived in the first timeline to be his best buddy and helper, but in this one, somehow didn't exist.
Harry parked his rocket suit inside the designated building, and then headed for the meeting place.
"Raspberry." Harry whispered in the ruins of what was once a beautiful church, its gothic spires marred by bullets and bombs, its beautiful stained glass windows shattered, its pews broken and scattered across the interior of the once magnificent structure.
"Chocolate." Came the counter answer.
Harry grinned, and stepped forward, and then as he lifted his hand to shake with the other person, he almost had a heart attack. It was Jet!
The person facing him gave him a blank look. "Who is that man?" He turned to see if he had been betrayed by Harry, someone hiding in the shadows perhaps.
Harry's emotions battered him. "Don't you know who I am? Your best friend. Your battering ram. Your personal line of envy."
Jet, a tall and well muscled black man, with deep brown eyes and a face marred by a slight scar on the left side of his neck frowned. "I've never seen you before in my life."
Harry didn't see the scar at first, but when Jet turned to look to his right, he did. Harry tensed. A Zom! Then he relaxed. Of course he was. He was an underground Zom, one who the rewiring had failed in.
"Where's your suit, Captain?"
Harry ignored the question and came closer, looked into Jet's eyes. The man stood stock still, as if frozen in place for a moment, and then he backed up. "I need to see the suit."
"Why would you need to do that?" Harry asked, his worry radar going full blast now. Something didn't pickle right in his brain. He gave Jet a closer examination. "The man I met was supposed to have a scar on the left side of his neck. Yours is on the right."
Harry ran for the exit of thee building, just as ten Swash entered, carrying their hammer guns ready to fire. Harry dove out a stained glass window that had been shattered to his right, and landed on his back, rolling to his feet. In seconds he launched himself swiftly towards the hiding place of his suit.
He felt, rather than heard the hammer guns fire. Their weaponry was so powerful that it fused the air about him, causing the skin closest to the blasts to blister from the intensity of the heat caused by their searing beams of energy.
He dove to his right, then threw himself into a cellar, crawled swiftly across it as quietly as possible, then levered himself to another window, and crawled out. He looked round, listened a moment, hearing nothing, he ran towards his hiding place. He reached it, just as the sound of alarms rang out and Swash lanced the air about him with their hammer guns. He landed inside the hiding place in a ball, rolled to a stop at the foot of his suit, then climbed inside of it. He clamped it shut, sealing it against the outside, then turned it around to exit.
That was when a trope stormed into the building and landed a hammer like punch to Harry's helmet. Harry stumbled backward and with the weight of the suit so great, he couldn't maintain his balance. He fell onto his back, just as the swash burst inside.
"The Fuehrer wants the Rocketman alive." The trope ordered, and then grinned. "But he didn't say in what condition...alive."
Stunned by the blow still, Harry shook his fog away and launched a mini-rocket into the midst of the swash, blowing up half of them, but the rest plowed through the death and destruction, trailing guts and blood, then dove on him and began pummeling him.
He could no longer move, or resist. Several of them had placed some kind of magnetic clamp to his arms, causing them to seal together. He was helpless as a baby. He couldn't fire rockets, couldn't get out. In other words his ass was cooked!
Harry looked at his charge. Not enough to launch horizontally without frying every circuit. And no way to know if the magnetic clamps did anything else than hold his arms together. He might become a flying torpedo and hammer himself to death against a wall, his stabilizers and softeners running at low ebb.
He watched his charger begin to renew his power supply. It was a new one altered from the last by Tesla, who had used a new form of energy to power it.
"It will make you nearly invincible." He had promised.
"Yeah." Harry quipped to himself, unheard by the swash or the trope. "At least my suit. Meanwhile, I'll be turned into soup inside this bell!"
The Trope shoved the remaining swash aside and grinned into Harry's face. In a very bad imitation of German...even though he was German...he said, "And now I shall smash your face into atoms."
"I thought you needed me alive!" Harry joked.
"Not you. Just your brain."
"Then you better aim a bit lower, as now you're aiming right at my brain pan."
The trope gave him a confused look.
Harry's suspicions were confirmed. The trope couldn't see through the helmet plate glass. It was too dark inside the room. Harry glanced at his charger. Almost full. "I bet you're so strong you could handle me all by yourself, even if I had my arms free."
The trope grinned. "Yes. And still take your brain."
The trope laughed, and then smashed Harry's midsection, breaking the clamps.
The suit rang like a bell, even more so than when the swash had been pounding him.
The trope yanked Harry to his feet as effortlessly as if the Rocket suit was just a suit of clothing, instead of armor and stuck his face into the Helmet's glass, peering inside.
Harry's eyes went round with horror.
The trope had no pupils.
The trope swung its fist back, preparing to complete its death stroke.
Harry smiled, and then flicked a switch with his tongue.
A horrible screeching sound rang throughout the building. He had planted the resounders shortly after he landed, just in case. It was the just in cases you had to be the most cautious about, not what might be's.
The trope clamped its ham sized fists over its ears and screamed, joining the screams of the swash.
Harry saluted the soldiers. "Say bye-bye."
The trope gave him a blank look. "Bye-bye?"
Harry launched a mini-rocket into the trope and the swash, launching straight up and through the ceiling of the church. He wasn't there long enough to see them explode, or hear them scream. As he raced from the building's roof, he turned to the south and there below him stood the zom Jet.
The zom stood there watching him fly off, making no move to fire the hammer it held in its hands. Just watching, a hand over its eyes to watch him as he blasted into the skies.
Harry's heart pounded in his chest.
"I'll be back, Jet. I swear it!" He promised, his eyes watering from the pain of leaving the only real friend he had ever had. He blinked the tears away, and then accelerated across the skies, towards Switzerland and home base. Away from death and destruction. And away from a friend who meant more to him than life itself.
"I will return." He swore to himself, as he fired the rockets that steered him north towards the Alps.
"I will, Jet. I swear it by everything I hold Holy. I will return for you. Or die trying." He said, his eyes misting even more as he shot up above the clouds and became a speck of light to those below.
The zom, who might be Jet, dropped his weapon and put fingers to his eyes. They were wet.
"Why? He asked no one, and then leaving his weapon behind, he marched away, a lone figure in a land of war and destruction.
Alpha and Omega
"A Rocketman Story"
By John Pirillo
A slice through the shadows. Fall back deeper.
Heartbeat so loud his chest feels like it's going to explode.
Maybe this time.
Maybe the search has ended!
"Come on, bucket head." Jet whined.
Harry swiped at the sweat pooling across his brows, his concentration unwavering as he studied the battle plans before him.
Jet, leaning over the plans, anxious to get going, fretted like the little child he was sometimes. Got to love him, mused Harry as he finally swept his pawn across the board to block the only exit that Jet's king had.
Jet grinned so big that Harry immediately knew he had made a tactical error.
"You should have blocked the rook, not the castle." Einstein said, as he hovered over his shoulder, the sweet smell of his cherry blend whispering between his teeth from the pipe he was smoking.
"Easy for you to say." Harry complained. "You plan a hundred moves ahead."
"Well, one tries." Einstein replied humbly.
Harry gave him a scowl, then waited for Jet to close the game.
Instead, Jet yawned, stretched real big and got to his feet, stretching like a lion does before leaping upon its prey.
"I'm whacked. Think I'll catch some shut eye. 'Night!"
"Hey!" Harry complained.
"You win, Harry. As always." Jet said, the hint of a snicker in his voice as he swept off to the right and their bunks deeper in the underground fortress. A fortress that was deep inside a series of natural caverns inside the Swiss Alps. Left there by ancient Romans on their way to defeating the rest of Europe. You could still see some of their statuary in deeper pockets of the fortress, where even some of their simple columns supported the cavern roof with beauty, while not actual need.
Einstein sat down and pondered the board a moment. "Actually, he's right. You do win."
Harry looked at Einstein. "You're kidding, right?"
Einstein gave him a stony face, then broke into laughter. "Night, Harry."
He walked off slowly, heading a different direction, probably to work with one of his fellow scientists on suit modifications Harry had suggested. He just found it harder and harder to fly the damn thing. He felt like a walking tank. Not like a bird flying. More like a bomb flying the wrong direction.
Brenda, one of the Nurses on station, slipped into a chair opposite him and set down two cups of Java. "Thought you'd need this."
"Thanks." He said, grasping its warmth, allowing it to warm his numb fingers. While the base was comfortable enough, no amount of work could change the temperatures inside, which were usually just this side of freezing. You could always see your breath. When he complained about it, Einstein laughed. "Would you rather it got hot and our electronics blew up, causing a thermal nuclear meltdown of our reactors?"
"Boom!" Einstein made a cute explosion sound, then laughed.
So that ended that.
"Harry. Base to Harry. Come in, Captain!" Brenda teased.
Harry focused on her face, the hint of a smile on his lips. "Sorry, just thinking."
"Ask me flight boy, you ding that old noggin a bit too much for comfort. Some day you're likely to turn into one of those steel brains like Al."
Harry barked with laughter. "He'd love hearing that. Then he could have a real partner to beat chess with."
She smiled, then took a sip of her Java.
Harry did the same. Then his eyebrows rose. She gave him the hint of a mischievous smile. "Woke you up, did it, fly boy?"
"You shooting for bedpan duty, Nurse?" Harry quipped.
"No skin off my back. I've been doing that for years, Penguin."
He laughed. "Sometimes I wish I were."
"Yeah. Read you loud and clear."
They both sat there lost in their thoughts a moment, then Harry said what was really on his mind. "Do you think they're still alive...out there...somewhere?"
Betty's face grew impassive. "Facts are not always pleasant, flyboy."
"Atta girl, fast thinking. But not as fast as my jenny."
"Your jenny is nothing more than a firecracker with metal slung around it." She countered, then put a hand on his hand, not liking the direction their talk was taking.
"Sorry, Harry. Didn't mean to blow out your tanks."
"Likewise." He said with a grin.
She softened. "We would all like to think she was still alive, but..."
He grew somber with that thought. "So many gone. So many."
"You still seeing the split?"
"Must feel like being stuck in a Mae West double barrel salute when that happens."
"Worse." He admitted.
She looked into his eyes. "What's it like in that other world?"
"We were winning."
He didn't say anything more. What more could he say? On his own timeline the Allies were beating the crap out of those brown shirts, but here...they were on the run...hiding in rabbit holes and taking pocket shots, hoping for a big break.
"You live back then sometimes, don't you?"
"Yes." He sighed, put his head in his hands a moment, then looked back at her. "It's like a dream...this world...when I'm there, but now that world..."
"Like a dream?"
"Al or Nicolai come up with anything yet?"
"Not a damned thing."
She put a hand on his wrist and he could feel the warmth of her seeping into his body. He flinched at first, but she didn't let go. "Whenever you want to talk more about it."
She got up and smiled. "Why don'tchu come up and see me some time, big guy?"
"You been looking at those old reels, have you?" He smiled at her.
"Oh yeah. Those movie stars had it all down." She returned the smile, then walked off, the same time as klaxons blared throughout the underground cavern.
Harry bounced to his feet, spilling his Java on the table top. He ignored it as he ran as fast as he could to the rigging area. He, along with a myriad of penguins, who supported the operations, raced in every direction. Checking power. Checking radar. Checking entrances and exits. Checking fuel. Checking supplies. Hauling out fire equipment. All the things that penguins did to make sure the flyboys were safe and the secret base secure.
He mused over the term penguins a moment, thinking it funny that his fellow airmen would be called something as cute as that, but such was the slang of the times...even in this alternate reality. Which brought him back full circle to the klaxons blaring. Either there was a major battle coming, or something had gone terribly wrong.
"Suit up, Captain!" Ordered his commanding officer of the day. Colonel Windser. The man was an uptight asshole, without the slightest clue of good manners or mercy. He would just as readily swap a fellow airman down into the ground as a Nazi storm trooper.
Harry ignored him as always, leaped up the ramp into his suit, twisted around and slipped inside. The ground crew sealed him in quickly and made sure his electronic network was active and ready. Others manned the new electronic consoles that kept track of his heart rate, his air, his munitions and more importantly his amp out if need be. He'd only amped once, and it had cost him a month in rehab from the shock of impacting the ground. He was determined...not to let that ever happen again.
Amping was a term for bailing out, but in his suit, it just meant being enclosed with a super inflated cushion that was supposed to protect him from earth impact. It did, but it usually left him in shock for weeks from the violence of the impact. They had tested it once without him and deemed it okay, but he knew better. It was experimental. Which was why he was begging them for lighter suit.
As his helmet sealed off and his scanners lit to life, his screens for monitoring the outside of the suit, his armament, his flight navigator, his communications gear came to life as well. "Rocketman, loud and ready." He quipped.
"Gotcha, Harry." Jet rang in from a receiver near his right ear.
Harry activated his legs and began disconnecting from the ramp. He turned and faced the ramp he would be launching from. He began racing up it as the mountainside ahead began to part like the fabled walls of Ali Baba's forty thieves.
"Rocket!" Harry shouted, then shot up into the midnight black of the Swiss night. No moon, no stars. Clouds thick and dreary. Perfect for his flight to stay hidden from the Nazi base below, but bad for his systems readouts, as the fog caused a lot of false readings.
"Jet, what's going on? Nothing in range."
"This is Colonel Windser, you are to stay air born until further instructions. We have a bogey. I repeat we have a bogey."
"Colonel, that tells me zero!"
"Heads up." Jet ordered.
Harry turned his helmet up.
The clouds were thinner there. As he flew higher, they thinned further and he became aware of something metallic coming into view. It was larger than him, and armed to the teeth. Another Rocket suit...with a huge Swastika on its chest.
"Jet, we have a problem."
"What is it?"
Static blasted into his ears, then Colonel Windser's voice blasted through. "Shoot it down. Now!"
"Captain, are you disobeying a direct order?"
"No sir, just not interested in shooting my own self."
Long silence. "What?"
"It's me. Rocket me."
"Holy crap, Harry, how's that possible?"
"How are you possible, how am I?" He shot back. "Some kind of new split in the timeline. Jeepers, you're rattin' up the wrong tree, if you wanna make sense of this."
"Other suit is arming, Harry."
Harry did the only thing he could, he amped.
Inside his suit, he became compressed in a soft substance that would save him from any impact. The suit was made of a highly resilient metal that nothing short of an atom bomb could destroy. He was the only breakable part.
"Harry, you crazy!"
The last thing he saw was the face in the other suit as it closed in. His own. The eyes were in shock, then it shot to the right and vanished as he plummeted towards the earth.
That was the last thing he remembered for about a week. The next thing he remembered was Nurse Brenda's voice talking to Jet in a low murmur. Then he realized it was just him surfacing from dreamland.
He opened his eyes. He was hooked up to all kinds medical scanners and body fluids. "Hey!"
They both gave him looks of relief.
Colonel Windser stormed into the room, his face bright with anger, but instead of hollering at Harry, he wiped at his eyes, which were clearly wet with tears. He touched Harry gently on his shoulder. "Damn you, Harry!"
"Damn me, sir!" Harry joked back.
Colonel Windser jerked his eyes to Jet and Brenda. "You make sure he has everything he needs to recover fully."
He looked back at Harry. "And then you got a lot of explaining to do." He smiled. "I'm glad you made it, son."
He paused as if about to say more, then left in a storm as he had entered.
Jet whooped it up. "Harry, you just got cussed out by the meanest guy on the earth and survived."
"Didn't sound that way to me."
Brenda laughed. "You should have heard him when you amped. My ears are still healing from all the swear words."
"So what happened?" Harry asked, genuinely confused.
"You survived." Jet said gently, his smile warm and soothing. "You made it, fly boy!"
Harry laughed. "You should have seen the look on the other guy's face."
"I'll bet." Jet snorted. "Bad enough to have one loser in the air, let alone two!" He laughed. But what he was really thinking was "How could Harry be sure the other Harry would recognize the gesture of surrender and not blast him to kingdom come?"
Brenda joined the laughter, but Harry didn't. What had happened to the other him? Did he realize that Harry was not the enemy like he had the other? And why was he flying a suit with a swastika on it? Those questions boiled in his mind as he slipped into a much needed, and deep rest.
The Dark Master
"A Rocketman Story"
By John Pirillo
Nordenbrough was a densely populated area of Germany that bordered on the Alps. Its main industry was steel, imported from the south where it was hauled in by train from the frontiers that had been conquered by the Nazi hordes. Its people were untouched by the fanaticism that ran through much of Germany at the time, protected from it in a way as an experiment by the Fuehrer, who was secretly building a base in the nearby Alps for what he was determined would be the fatal blow to the hopes of the Western Allies.
For almost ten years, even before the war took a prominent place in the news and eyes of the world, he was already secretly meeting with a man of dark persuasions. A man dedicated to the Occult. That man exuded such confidence and power that Hitler had immediately allowed himself to be taken on as a disciple of this Dark Master. Even though still in a position to become a powerful force of good for his country, his own ambitions and disappointments, were driving him further and further away from the mainstream of good people and closer and closer into the cult that the Dark Master had built.
Unknown to the world, but known to the top Allied Leaders, Britain and others were waging a secret war against the Dark Master, who was using ley lines of the planet to gather power and force and disrupt commerce and supplies across the planet. You might think this an exalted view of a simple man, for that was his outwards appearance. Small, like Hitler, soft talking and polite to a fault, but his heart was made of mud that swished and ground with hatred and anger towards life that disposed towards anything uplifting and positive. He was a devoted disciple, in his words, of the UberMasters, those beings who rode the flying discs from the central area within our planet.
Hitler, long disposed towards the Occult, was immediately enamored of this fascination and shared it devotedly with his own growing circle of disciples. So in effect, there were two Dark Masters, the one that Hitler gave silent obedience to and his own, that he harbored and nurtured. On one day when Nordenbrough was steeped in its normal routine of smelting iron and producing steel for weapons of destruction, a small parade of black cars with Nazi symbols, drove into the town.
The Dark Master was staying in the Black Hotel, called the Swartzen Haus. Wherever he stayed it always had the numbers 666 and the color black in it somewhere. While he didn't personally believe in Satan, he did believe in the power of numbers. Had the churches realized that this man was gathering power and influence they might have had a stronger influence in the war than they had at the time, knowing that evil was brewing beneath their noses. But they didn't. And they didn't!
The Dark Master met in the conference room with his twelve Dark Disciples, an inverse of Jesus and his own disciples. They wore red Swastikas and their faces were hidden beneath red masks that resembled blindfolds. The Dark Master was the only one not wearing a mask. He stood before them.
"Soon, we shall have a thirteenth disciple. One whose power and dominion shall help us extend our reach beyond the Germanies to the entire world."
The Dark Disciples raised black gloved hands and applauded in an eerie way, no sound emitting from their clapping. He smiled and urged them to stop. They did. The silence in the room grew. "I want you to treat him with the utmost respect, as he is at a tipping point, where he could go our way or to the way of... (with great distaste)...the other."
A low humming filled the room as the men and women of that group made a sound of deep distress that signified displeasure. He had taught them that. It was very disturbing to anyone not aware of its psychological significance.
The door to the room opened and two tall Dark Soldiers stepped inside. Hitler stepped between them, followed by two of his own soldiers, who glanced around nervously, hands on their pistols in case.
"I am here." Hitler announced. "As you requested, Master."
The Dark Master nodded, and indicated a chair to his right next to him. Hitler went to it and sat there, his Soldiers to his right and left, their eyes watching the others of the room nervously. The Dark Master sat down and laid his palms on the tabletop. The moment they touched the tabletop the highly polished surface lit up like a movie screen.
The Soldiers gaped at it in awe, but Hitler remained unphased. "An interesting toy."
The Dark Master smiled at him, his small dark eyes filled with a tender kind of menace. "But a toy that will help you win this war you plan."
"I seriously doubt that, but I'm listening."
The Dark Master swiped his hand across the table top and a view of Nordenbrough from above showed there. Hitler leaned forward with interest when he saw something bright and metallic lancing into view from the right. "Rocketman!"
"Yes. The one block to our ambitions."
Hitler looked at the Dark Master.
"I have not yet made that determination."
Confidently. "You will."
Hitler's eyes locked with the Dark Master's a moment, then looked away. "I'm perturbed by the timing of this event."
"It is not a mistake." The Dark Master announced, his voice trembling with excitement.
"How is this not a mistake?" Hitler demanded, his voice shrill and angry. "You have led me to an encounter with the one man I cannot stop."
"Oh, but I can!"
Hitler looked at the Dark Master. "And who shall aide you, the giants from the center of our earth?"
The Dark Master made a sign above the screen and a flight of saucer shaped devices shot into view in pursuit of Rocketman.
Hitler's eyes widened. He glanced at the smiling Dark Master. "Then it's true!"
"Yes. It is."
Rocketman, Captain Harry or just plain Harry to his friends, navigated the cold and frigid air above Nordenbrough, his eyes on the readouts inside his helmet, as well as the view through the semi-opaque visor he had just thinned so he could see outside with his eyes as well. Tesla had called the visor a String enhanced metal that changed density depending on the energies pouring through it.
Harry didn't understand the rocket science behind it, nor his pal Jet, but they both knew it worked and worked pretty damned well.
"Harry, you in range yet?" Jet asked from his receiver.
"Range and closing."
"It's the tallest building in the village. Not hard to miss at night, but stands out like a big bad boo boo in the light of day."
"I just love your analogies, Jet."
"Yeah. And I love being here safe on my butt, while you pretend to be Superman."
"I'm not pretending anything."
"Tell that to the girls I'm dating that want to meet you."
"Middle name and don't you forget it. Word down from Allied is that the Fuehrer himself is in that hotel at this very moment."
"How would they know that?"
"Shall we say a little birdie told them?"
"Right. Proceeding with drop."
Harry flicked a switch with his tongue and the suit began a plunge towards the quite town below. On its fringes were several factories were the steel and weapons were melted and built. He was more interested in those than the hotel, but he made it a point not to disobey orders too frequently or they might take away his suit.
"Thousand feet and dropping."
"Just like a bomb."
"Hope not. They explode. I intend to come home and date one of those girls you've got compromised."
"Be still my heart."
"Shush or it might be."
"No such luck, fat boy."
"Just because I gained two pounds last week doesn't make me fat."
"Gain another and they'll have to squeeze you into that suit with a pair of giant pliers."
"Funny, ha, ha."
"At your service, through good or bad."
"Jokes that is."
"You got it."
"Two hundred. No signs of anti-aircraft weapons. How's that possible?"
"Cocky Nazis. Dumb Nazis."
"Never met one. Know a dumb ass though."
Harry brays like a donkey. "Got me!
"Preparing to drop."
Harry flicked another switch inside his helmet and his two armor piercing rockets began to open up on his right and left sides of his jet pack. As he swooped lower he noticed the air began to become cloudy, then darker, and then almost smoke like.
"Something's happening, Jet."
"Gotta go to the bathroom?"
"No, I'm serious. I'm losing visibility."
"Impossible. It's clear as a sunny day in the Bahamas right now there."
"Gotta pull out."
Harry flicked another switch and his suit broke from its dive and angled skywards again. He looked down with the help of a screen inside his helmet and the entire town of Nordenbrough was gone.
"Holy crap, Jet!"
"It's all right. I'm safe, but Nordenbrough is gone!"
Harry put on speed and his Rocketman suit shot off like a rocket deep into the Alps towards his home base.
Hitler rose slowly from his chair, a smile on his face. He clapped his hands slowly and precisely. "I would be honored to join my forces with yours, Dark Master."
The Dark Master rose, waved his hand over the tabletop and the image of Rocketman shooting away vanished.
"How soon before we can have this technology for ourselves?" Hitler demanded.
The Dark Master stood silent a long time. Before Hitler could speak out in anger, he waved a well manicured hand and smiled. "When the time is right."
Hitler almost exploded, but instead, he bit the bullet and remained silent. His day would come. He must learn what he could from this man, and then one day, he would be the Master.
The Dark Master rang a small bell and servers came into the room with trays of food and drink. "Now, let's eat and talk about how we shall help one another, shall we?"
Hitler nodded, and then eyed his Soldiers. They fell back against the wall behind him and remained alert, but he sat down and began helping himself to the delicious food being spread before him and the Dark Master and his 12 Dark Disciples. What he had thought was just a mission to expose another occult fake had turned into something much more exciting. He didn't understand the technology he had just witnessed, but he knew it was...technology. And anything this man could build, he would also build.
He had time. He had the patience. Soon his scientists would complete Operation Forever and he would be ready for the next step of his world conquest.
The Dark Master raised a glass of wine into the air. His Dark Disciples did as well. "To our future."
None of the Dark Disciples spoke.
Neither did Hitler.
Jimbo rubbed his nose vigorously, trying not to sneeze. Samuel was opposite him on the other side of the walkway, which was lined with heavy shrubbery. Their hiding places. That darned fly kept coming back and tickling his nose. He could have swatted it any other time, but he didn't want to make any loud noises. The terrorist group Mahmud, dressed in blood red, with dark red knives holstered through red belts and short snub nosed Rat guns, a new release from the Iranians that combined the power of a machine gun with a snub nosed pistol. It could fire hundred two caliber hollow point bullets in less than a second.
One might think that's not so bad, until you realize that at the velocity the bullets travel they will open a tenth penny hole on one side of you and blow out the other the size of a silver dollar. In other words size doesn't matter. Power and point do. You're dead. Bleeded out within several seconds.
He'd seen them practice with one of the weapons on an Egyptian soldier who got in their way. The man hadn't even been able to scream in pain. His body looked like Swiss cheese on one side and shredded tissue paper on the other. He had died instantly. No one walked away from a stream of those bullets.
Samuel could feel Jimbo's anxiety and let his hand rise several inches. A soft radiance glowed about it and then vanished.
Jimbo couldn't see the radiance when it struck him in the heart, but suddenly he felt as easy going as a smooth banana crème pie.
The troops finished passing and he and Samuel rose from their hiding places. Samuel pointed to a building to their left and Jimbo hightailed it there, knowing Samuel would be behind him. Only thing was, when he got to the building, Samuel was nowhere in sight. Then he heard the unmistakable rattle of the Rat guns.
"Damn it!" He roared, then hightailed it down the path, hoping he wasn't too late.
Samuel stood at the other end, surrounded by the Mahmud, their weapons smoking in their hands and everyone of their bullets smoking in a heap about Samuel. Not one bullet had struck him. Samuel just stood there with the most devilish of smiles, his hands out, the palms glowing a brilliant white.
Finally, the Mahmud ran. Not towards Samuel, but towards Jimbo.
Jimbo dove from their path. Not one of them slowed to try and catch him. He saw a brief glimpse of the face of one of them as he passed and the man's eyes were as big as moons. He ran as if all the Ifrits in Arabia were after him.
"They are." Samuel said as he gave his friend a hand up.
Jimbo turned to watch the Mahmud scramble for their jeeps, hop in, swerve in circles of dusty clouds, then race towards the horizon, leaving the grassy area Jimbo and Samuel stood within untouched and unharmed.
"But not for long." Samuel answered to Jimbo's unspoken thoughts.
"You're right." Jimbo said. "We've got work to do."
And they did. Rescuing the son and daughter of a teacher who was preaching peace to all men in the Middle East. His name was Gandhi Mohammed, and he bore an uncanny resemblance to all the portraits that had come down through time of the real Mohammad. His eyes were large and luminous and his children were all equally as bright and beautiful in their own ways.
They reached his humble abode, which had been surrounded by the brief grounds of shrubbery and grass. To the sides were simple gardens, with vegetables growing and clothing hanging from clothing lines strung from one post to another, flapping in the hot, arid winds of the desert they were in.
"God is with you." Gandhi told them as they hustled up to his porch, both breathing hard.
"Grab your children. We must hurry before they realize those weren't real demons after them." Samuel croaked, his throat dry from the hot desert air and the exertion of will he had just made to defend the humble abode.
Gandhi smiled patiently. "I will not be leaving here. Not now. Not ever."
Samuel and Jimbo exchanged looks of surprise.
"But I thought you hired us to rescue you." Samuel finally blurted out, confused and puzzled by the man's attitude.
Gandhi motioned to them. "Come inside. My daughter and son have prepared something to drink and eat for us."
They went inside. The interior of the home was as simple and humble as the exterior. All the furniture were handmade, and carefully crafted. The stove was a clay stove on the floor in front of which Darmilla, Gandhi's oldest daughter squatted warming up flat bread for their repast. Several moments later Desh, the son, came inside with a bucket brimming with fresh well water. He brought it to a counter, also handmade and then began filling clay mugs from it.
Gandhi said no more, but helped his children distribute the bread and water about the table, motioning to Jimbo and Samuel to sit as he did so. They sat, no longer confused, but wondering if the man had lost his mind.
Finally, Gandhi sat down and began breaking his bread. Before he put it into his mouth, he dipped it into water. "May the waters of Allah purify my soul."
He raised the wet bread to his mouth. "May the bread of Allay feed my heart and mind."
He ate the bread.
The children repeated the prayers, then looked sideways at Samuel and Jimbo to see what they would do. Samuel grinned good-naturedly, and repeated the prayers, followed by Jimbo, who said God instead of Allah.
"Sorry, Mister Gandhi, but I'm not really the Allah type of fellow." Jimbo apologized.
Gandhi and the children burst into laughter.
"What's so funny?"
"Allah and God are one and the same. There is no difference. You drink water in America. You drink water in Arabia. Water is water." Gandhi explained.
Samuel smiled at the confusion on Jimbo's face. "Just accept it, Jimbo. You won't win this one."
Jimbo nodded and began tearing into his bread big time. In a matter of seconds he had it finished and Darmilla scrambled back to the oven and pulled out a warming plate of ten or more to place on the simple table they sat at.
"But you still haven't explained why you're not leaving." Samuel said, after having ate one piece of the bread, which felt light in his stomach and very filling.
Gandhi finished his own bread, as if having not heard a word, then wiped his hands on a simple cloth and looked into Samuel's eyes.
"There never was any danger."
"What do you mean?"
"God tests us all, Mister Light, does he not?"
Samuel shrugged. He didn't disagree, he just didn't get the point.
Gandhi smiled. "I just wanted to see the two of you, and to thank you for the service you have offered my people and the people of the world. That is what I wanted the rescue from. From not thanking you."
He rose, then motioned to the door.
"When you return tomorrow. All will be explained. For now, be at peace and God be with you!"
Samuel and Jimbo got up. Jimbo snatched a couple more slices of the flat bread. The children burst into renewed peals of laughter, but said nothing.
Jimbo blushed and hurried outside, and Samuel followed him.
"Man, that has got to be one of the strangest dinners I've been invited to." Jimbo finally said, after polishing off the last of the breads.
They cut to the left and sought the shelter they had made earlier in the day. It was well hidden in the sands of the desert, using a cloth that blended with the sand colors. Beneath it was their jeep and supplies. Both men settled in for the night and laid down quietly to rest.
"Do you believe in demons?"
"Not really. Why?"
"Nothing. Just wondering is all."
Samuel was just about to drift off to sleep when Jimbo spoke again. "I believe in angels."
Samuel sat up so fast he banged his head on the open door of the jeep. "Owww!"
Samuel rubbed the sore spot and lay back down.
"What brought that burst of silliness?"
Jimbo rolled over and looked at Samuel, the faint moonlight of the desert Moon shining inside their camouflaged tent.
"I don't know. We've been through so much by now. I've got to start believing in miracles sometime, even with all your stupid powers."
Samuel laughed. "Go to sleep. We got to get up early and say goodbye to Gandhi and his children."
"Yeah. There's that." Jimbo said with a yawn. "Night, pal."
"Good night." Samuel said, falling into a peaceful sleep that night that he hadn't experienced in a long time.
When he woke up in the morning, Jimbo had everything packed and ready to go. Even the tent was down and packed into the back of the jeep. Samuel rolled up his sleeping bag, tossing out a lizard in the process. He picked it up and put his hand on it. "Sorry little guy."
The lizard's head perked up and its eyes rolled as a gentle green light flooded its shape. He set the lizard down and it looked up at him, then almost smiled and shot off like a rocket.
Jimbo started up the jeep and headed back towards the house. As they drove Samuel and Jimbo became more and more alarmed. The shrubs were gone. The path was gone.
Jimbo looked at his dash. "We should be seeing the house, where is it?"
He pulled the jeep to a stop and they both climbed out. They walked the area for about twenty yards in all directions, but no signs of anything having ever been there before.
Then they climbed back into the jeep and rushed towards where the other jeeps of the Mahmud had been. No marks there either.
"No storm last night." Jimbo drawled in his husky Texan accent.
"Jimbo. I get it." Samuel said, relaxing against his seat finally, the tension flowing away.
"Why you should believe in angels." Samuel answered cryptically.
They spent the rest of their drive pondering what they had experienced, and it wasn't until both of them climbed off the stairway from the Southwestern Airlines flight into Las Vegas that Jimbo announced. "They were angels. Damn!"
Samuel smiled. "Al would be glad to hear you believe in him."
Al appeared in front of them grinning. Samuel waved.
Jimbo talked towards where he thought Al was. "I think I believe in angels now."
But Al was not in that spot. He was to the right. A very pretty red head was in Jimbo's line of vision. She perked up at his words, then grinned.
She came to him and reached out a hand. "You're from Texas, aren't you?" She asked.
Samuel nodded to Jimbo and he headed towards the lounge with the redhead, talking up a storm. Al dropped back alongside Samuel as he headed for the lounge too.
"Can't win them all, Sam."
"How about one?"
Al laughed, then like the wise man he was...he vanished.
Chapter One Hundred Five
As the war ships rose from the Thames they immediately began searing the merchant ships, war vessels and dockside structures with deadly swaths of living fire. It was hell on earth. Sailors, tourists, soldiers, civilians screamed and ran for their lives in a futile effort to avoid the flaming death.
A young mother with a baby carriage dashed for the safety of a building, only to have it erupt in flames. Frightened out of her wits she screamed, causing her baby to scream even more in terror as she whipped the baby carriage around to flee in another direction.
Five soldiers ran forth to cover for her, firing at the nearest of the war machines. They never missed a round, but their bullets were useless against the field of green glowing energies that lit up and flashed about the body of the war machines as it was struck.
The war machine slowly turned its evil muzzle of doom towards them and its lens flared to full fury, then the machine vanished in a halcyon of furious energies that resembled threads of force and vanished from existence.
The soldiers and woman looked up and a beautiful flying ship tore across the sky, letting loose first one bolt of powerful energies at a war ship, then launching a torpedo of the same that sawed through the air and took out another war s hip.
The woman suddenly became aware of her baby again and hurriedly swept it up into her arms and cuddled it close. "Now, now, hun, you'll be fine. You'll be fine."
The soldiers ran with her and the baby to a waiting Tesla carrier and it drove off with them, rushing from the hurricane of power weapons pounding each other behind them.
The Master of the World, the incredible ship of Jules and Wells, acquitted itself well that day, annihilating first one war ship, then another before they could move from the Thames or achieve any kind of coordinated firepower.
The sound of fire trucks and paramedics was everywhere on the docks as the last of the warships angled down against the far bank of the Thames, its muzzle of doom slowly drooping until the entire ship came to rest and never moved again.
The soldier who helped the woman and baby into the carrier gave her his coat and even though it was freezing, insisted that she use it. He pulled it close over her and the baby, smiling. "You and your old man must be very proud to have such a fine young girl. I've always wanted one."
She looked up into his eyes. Saw a kind, considerate soul she could learn to love. "I have no husband. He ran off to join the war in the India Isles and never returned."
The soldier shook his head. "How could anyone ever leave someone as beautiful as you and this fine child alone like that? Shame on him!"
She smiled. She did like him. More and more.
Later on, after they parted, but he with her address, and she with his, they would begin seeing each other frequently and one day their friendship would develop into a strapping young boy to join his older sister in play.
So even in those foul conditions where London had come so close to death and destruction, some good had come into being.
Chapter One Hundred Six
"Prepare to engage!" Captain Nemo announced as the golden Nautilus shot into the Thames channel.
Later on Captain Nemo would reveal to Sherlock and his other friends why there were no more war machines rising from the Thames. He and his crew fired their Tesla torpedoes into their underwater base and sent it to the seventh level of hell.
Harry and Moriarity looked on in awe as the Tesla device caused the massive underwater structure to be torn into numerous parts which in turn broke into many more parts, all burning fiercely, as if they were made of magnesium and not plain metal.
No one knows now or then how many poor souls died in that conflagration, but it must be assumed that there were thousands. And to that memory Captain Nemo later on constructed a beautiful underwater shrine to commemorate and remember those souls who had lost their lives in the underwater battle due to no cause of their own. It was a weight and a burden that he would bear with him to his dying days, his inability to spare those lives. For he was neither a cruel man, nor an unjust one and to take even one life in vain was to him a sin worse than death.
Chapter One Hundred Seven
Constable Evans sat on the top step of the constabulary, his eyes on the setting sun. There was so much destruction around but somehow the building still stood.
He felt a presence beside him and then Constable Evans sat next to him.
"We have a lot to talk about."
Inspector Bloodstone raised his weary head to look into the eyes of the child he had helped to bring into this world. "Yes, we do. Son."
Constable Evans smiled. Perhaps hell could sometimes bring also a piece of heaven.
Chapter One Hundred Eight
And so it was that the brave adventurers met one last time before each returned to their various occupatiaons and duties. It was a sad meeting, for many of their friends had not been saved in the cleanup that occurred afterwards. Many of the zombies escaped from the various hiding places and started a different kind of war that caused citizens to use any kind of weapon they could find to save themselves and their families.
It was a short, brutal war that caused even more death, pain and suffering for an already devastated London, but its citizens were made of proud fiber and it's Queen Mary of Scots a brave soul went from city block to city block to speak to her citizens, to encourage them and to render aide wherever possible.
The treasures of the Empire were likely to remain in short supply for decades to come, but the war for survival of man was over and it was now time to rebuild and to heal.
Sherlock stood at the window overlooking the street and smiled as he noted the many children outside playing in the snow, making snow angels and snowmen.
"It seems as if things are slowly getting back to normal." Watson said from beside him.
Sherlock turned to his friend, but he did not see him. The concussion which had rendered him blind had apparently left him that way. Watson didn't care. He was his friend. He felt another presence and turned to face James Moriarity, who was now clean shaven, dressed in a top hat and suit and a cane to support him. He stood on the other side of Sherlock.
"Don't worry, Watson, I shall be his eyes if he needs them."
"And I." Came the voice of Professor Langdon from behind.
"And I." Came the voice of Lady Shareen, holding onto the arm of her dear Lord Graystone, who looked scarred somewhat and fatigued, but as handsome as ever.
"All of us shall be his comfort and his sight." Challenger roared.
The room was silent a moment, then Mrs. Hudson in her own ineffable way lent a charm to that moment by coming into the room with a huge tray of glasses already filled. "I suggest a toast to our brotherhood."
Conan applauded. They all did as they took a glass.
Watson took a glass and put it into Sherlock's hand Sherlock put a hand over Watson's hand and squeezed. "It's good to have you home, John."
Watson smiled kindly at his friend, his heart torn with emotions. "And it's good to be here with my friend."
Sherlock nodded and raised his glass. "May we always see the Light in all the darkness we must face and may we always cherish the one real thing that life can never take away from us."
He turned towards Watson. "Friendship and love."
"Hear. Hear." Roared his friends and family.
James smiled. He already had plans for Watson and Sherlock, but had not disclosed them for fear of them not being appropriate at the time. But there was no way he was going to break up this new friendship. He had nothing but love and admiration for this man from another world. For had he not also come from another world as well.
Then they heard this tremendous droning sound in the air. They wedged into the narrow area of the window to look out. The Master of the World was descending slowly from the skies.
"I think we have much to discuss with our friends." Captain Nemo pointed out.
Harry, juggling cards between his hands, looked at the First Moriarity and smiled. "All our friends."
Moriarity gave Harry a smile that could be mistaken for nothing less than his heart in his eyes and face.
James looked on the crowd of friends, his memories finally coming back more and more clearly. There was so much to be done. So much healing and mending to do, but now was not the time to dwell on tomorrow.
He raised his own glass. "To Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson and the Baker Street Adventurers!"
They all cheered and drank their toasts.
The hardest part of being an aviator in the Secret Corp is that no one can know that. You have to go into a bar, kick up a stool next to a beautiful dame, sip your beer and pretend you're just another world war slob out for a good night. You can't talk about anything that really matters to you...like how Einstein is working with you in developing weapons that can repel Nazi Messerschmitts from a distance...and more importantly...that your best friend and buddy, whom you have a love hate relationship with is Rocketman!
Jet wasn't the drinking type; he was just sociable. He had grown up in a tough part of New York City where being brown or black meant that you didn't get much yardage with the local cops and those women who saw you at night quickly stepped to the other side of the street and men...well, men he wouldn't even go into.
"So you see, Harold. I can call you Harold right?" He told the man seated next to him. "It's like this, here I am my folk's fresh from Africa about two hundred years ago, and my sister works on a cotton farm, as a manager and my little brother steals bicycles for a living. A mixed baggage. Right?"
The other man stared at him without speaking.
"So it's like this, you don't' want to get pegged for the bad things some of your family does. Every family has its black sheep, its Cain that strikes out into the desert to do mischief. I don't care what color you are. Difference is that the white man has this thing about power and domination. He over ran the Indians. Oh, you didn't know that? Yeah. He sure as hell did. They ran every good Indian tribe that tried to help them make a living into the wilderness to die and those that didn't volunteer were volunteered or eliminated."
The other man said nothing. He just stared.
"So here I am the modern version of Moses, but with no sea to part and no slaves to save. They've already been saved by the mighty prophet Lincoln. Trouble is, when he got about freeing us, he didn't get about freeing the hearts and minds of the men who had owned us. They fled into the wilderness of their dark hearts and pretended...well some did anyway...that it just hadn't happened."
"What's really cool is they formed these crazy block parties for us to welcome us into their neighborhoods and celebrate our new freedom. Complete with these beautiful huge crosses lit up with flames and all kinds of things...like young kids and women...you know those who have no need to be free. Just baggage."
The other man's face made no expression on those words, though you'd think they might. After all, Jet was spilling some pretty heavy baggage into his lap. Most black men tend to keep it inside, letting it burn there like a smoldering piece of charcoal. And let it stay there despite the ongoing treatment of black people...his, hers and your bathrooms...restaurants that had patrons who would gladly show you to the door if you entered...schools with his and their sides to it or none at all. Yeah, Lincoln had done well.
"So I said one day. Well, I can't change the way Americans view the color of my skin. I can't hate them. Because you don't hate dumb, ignorant and stupid people. You just ignore them or pray to God that someday they'll grow up and become real people and recognize that we have hearts and souls just like they do. Maybe even one day our kids will play with yours and marry each other. But no, I can see that might disturb you. The idea of mixing colors would be a terrible thing."
Jet turns away from the man and gazes into the mug of Schnapps that sits between his hands. He can see scars on his right hand. The bomb from three nights ago he wasn't quite fast enough to dodge. The scar on his right wrist. Some guy in a crazy jacket with a kamikaze stance had tried to sever it off in hopes of mounting it on his bizarre cross.
"Nope." Jet went on. "Life is like a box of chocolates. Except in this case. Real chocolates." He laughed. "Get it? Chocolates! That's me, babe! Me!"
Jet sighed and pushed his mug away. "This is no use. I'm just shooting my mouth off for nothing. You listen, but don't hear. What's the use of it?"
He stood up, shrugged his flak jacket back on and eyed the Nazi who sat on the stool next to where he stood. The soldier had been young like him, full of life and vigor, maybe even was a regular beer drinker. Had a girlfriend back home. Or this town. He didn't know. Never would. He had to shoot him before the young man could warn his friends in town they had guests.
"Damn! I hate this job!" Jet complained, eyeing the pooling blood that stained the bar where the young man's head lay, a bullet hole between his eyes. A look of astonishment on his face.
"I guess it really doesn't matter, does it, what I think? You fools are just like those A's back home who don't manage to get their thoughts past the color of my skin. You just shoot and ask questions later. It's the only way to deal with people smarter than you, isn't it?"
He pulled the young soldier's jacket up and over his face in respect. "You want to rule the world and make it a better place. Trouble is, your idea of better is somes idea of hell!"
He heard a loud noise behind him and spun around, his service revolver ready to fire.
Rocketman stood there, the visor on his helmet open so Jet could see his smile.
"Harry, one of these days when you sneak up on me like that I'm going to accidentally fill you full of holes."
Rocketman, Captain Harry Jackson, just shrugged, which wasn't easy in that heavy outfit he wore.
"You heard it all, didn't you?"
Harry nodded, which also wasn't easy in that heavy duty metallic outfit. Einstein and Tesla had been working at making it more flexible and lighter, but it had been a long road to travel. For both Harry and himself, Lieutenant Jet Barry.
"Don't beat yourself up over that dead Nazi, Jet."
"I'm not. And he's not a dead Nazi; he's a poor farmer who got stupid with the help of politics and people who care more about what they think than anyone else does. He and most of his other soldier friends. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Yeah. I suppose you're right, Jet." Harry acknowledged. "Maybe someday us."
"Maybe. But not soon if I can help it. I want to live long enough to see my people really free."
Harry gave him a sad look. "It's war time and the guys don't care that fight alongside you. Most of them anyway, but when we get back."
"Yeah. Back." Jet winced. "I don't like the sound of that word anymore. Back to what? Sitting in the back of the bus, his and our toilets, women that want you but holler rape if you look at them, men that consider us property."
"Hitler's our main target now, Jet. Not America."
Jet nodded. "I love America. I was born there, but that doesn't make me proud of how its people treat me and those of color."
Harry came closer, lifting his feet awkwardly. The weight of the suit was tremendous. It cracked the wooded floor and splintered it as he strode closer. "It will change one day, Jet. I swear it. And I'll be there right alongside you when we go back. I'll be pulling for you."
"It's going to take a helluva lot more souls than you, Harry, though God Bless you, I appreciate the thought."
"Look, Jet, one battle at a time. Okay. Let's win this one, and the next, we'll deal with when the time comes. Together."
Harry lifted his right hand and the metal glove on it flipped back and revealed his human hand. He stuck it out. Jet grinned, and then took it. "You are really going to scare the crap outta lot of white folks when they see us together back in Selma."
"I hope so." Harry said with a grin. "I hope so!"
They exited the German hofbrau and stood on the sidewalk outside. What was left of the city was in ruins and burning.
"I hate this job. War's hell and people can be devils." Harry said.
"Yeah. Don't I know it. And I especially hate it when you..."
Harry moved too fast for Jet to finish. Before he knew it, Harry had him in his arms and was hurtling skywards, the rockets on his back blasting them higher and higher.
As the clouds above came closer Jet shivered, but then he felt free again. Free like he never did on earth. Maybe this is what a soul felt like when it got wings, free from its mortal shell.
"Wahoo!" Jet yelled as he and the Rocketman shot above the German town and hurtled towards the distant Swiss Alps where their secret base was.
Harry and Moriarity looked at the approaching pirate ship and their hopes for returning home safely flew into the wind that was picking up about them.
"What now?" Moriarity demanded. "From the pan into the fire. How appropriate."
Harry looked at him and smiled. "You have one good thing to remember."
"At least you're not on the side of the bad guys any longer."
"How do you know that?"
Harry didn't answer. He didn't have to. He turned back to face the incoming pirate vessel. "I suggest we raise our hands and surrender."
"You're just full of witticisms this morning, aren't you?"
"I specialize in them. Remind me to give you a free ticket to my next show in London when we return."
"Don't you mean...if we return?"
The pirate ship pulled alongside them and Harry's grin widened.
"Oh definitely when."
Captain Nemo leaned over the railing as his men kept firing into the ship they had escaped, bringing it to utter ruin and destruction behind them.
"Need a ride, Harry?"
"Couldn't think of a better time for it, Captain." Harry replied with a laugh.
"You know this pirate?" Moriarity asked.
"Yes. He's Captain Nemo. My friend."
Moriarity's eyes widened. But he said no more. He lowered his hands.
Then a Giant stepped to the railing and looked out at Harry. "I know you?"
Harry eyed the Giant quietly a long time, and then he leaped from the small boat to the side of the pirate ship and began scrambling up the net that hung over its side, until he reached the deck. Then he clasped the Giant with his arms and hugged him tight.
The Giant gave Harry a look of confusion. "I do know you?"
"Yes, you do, big guy. You're one of my finest and best friends. James Moriarity!"
The Giant stiffened as Moriarity climbed up the rope and joined them.
He gently pushed Harry away. "I do remember you!"
Moriarity raised his hands. "I am not the one you remember. That was number one."
James gave him an even more confused look, as did Captain Nemo.
"There's more than one Moriarity then? Here?"
Moriarity turned to face the Captain. "Oh so many more."
Captain Nemo's face clouded over for a moment, and then he turned to James. "I'm sorry I lied to you."
James, who was still in shock over the revelations, was beginning to remember where he had seen Harry before and the images of Watson and Sherlock, Challenger and Conan flashed through his mind. And like a great, black storm cloud hiding the sun, his confusion and loss of memory was broken and shattered.
He grabbed Harry this time and lifted him off the deck and kissed him on both cheeks. "I could marry you!"
Harry laughed. "James, a simple hello would do just fine."
James put him down, tears streaking his face. "So much time has passed, so much has happened."
He turned to the Moriarity standing there, favoring his hurt leg. "You helped me."
"Yes. I did."
"I never forget a friend."
James put a hand out and Moriarity looked at it a long time, as if he found it offensive, then his dark face lit up brightly and he accepted the hand.
At the same time a strange thing began happening to the planking about the vessel. It began sliding off into the water and floating away. As it did so, they found themselves on the main deck of the Nautilus, its golden metal shining brightly in the morning sun.
Captain Nemo cupped his hands. "Below decks. We make full steam to London!"
The men all cheered and began rushing for the main hatch, climbing inside and descending from view.
Captain Nemo looked to his new guests and to James. "It seems we all...have a lot of catching up to do."
The Captain looked at Moriarity. He looked at his feet. "I will understand if you don't trust me and thrust me from your vessel. I deserve no less for my past actions."
James put an arm about his shoulders and he gave him a startled look.
"No friend of mine shall ever suffer such a thing." He looked to Captain Nemo, as if reading his mind. For Captain Nemo was nervous about bringing the Moriarity into his ship. It was everything to him and he knew how power mad that creature had been in the past.
Captain Nemo nodded. "Your friend is my friend."
Captain Nemo stuck his hand out and Moriarity clasped it tightly with both of his, barely able to speak because of the intensity of the emotions he now felt. He hadn't allowed himself to feel friendship like this...forever it seemed.
"With all my heart, I thank you, Captain. You won't regret it. I swear it."
The Captain nodded, and then motioned everyone to hurry to the hatch as the vessel began blowing air from its ballast tanks and slowly descending beneath the waves.
Harry was the last to enter and he paused to look back at the sunken ship behind them. Nothing was left now but burning debris. He was about to enter when he saw something glow for a moment in the debris, then it vanished. He gave it a long puzzled stare, and then entered.
The hatch slammed shut behind him.
The sea boiled with frenzy as the mighty Nautilus carved its way into the depths, casting up great boils of air and water from its descent. The return to London had begun.
The Jungle Lord stood high on the Tower of London, his eyes narrowed like an eagles on a distant object only visible from that height. He weighed its dimensions in his mind, and then he considered it carefully.
Highgate Cemetery is a graveyard in London of historic importance. It is rumored that Alexander the Great had it built as he swept across the continents in his search for power and the Holy Grail. It was also supposed to be the real burial grounds of King Arthur and the Bull Head King of the Druish, a clan of sorcerers who once dominated the Greater Britains before Arthur and Merlin destroyed their cult and cast them back into the sea.
A large stretch of land it was bordered by post hotels on one side, large parks on three others. The visitors to the hotels often used those expensive places as a launching point to tour the ancient grounds in search of historic names...such as King Duncan the Third, and Mary of Winsor, and Robin Hood the First.
It is also the burial site of many novelists, artists, political activists and professionals. A list of their names is engraved in golden letters on a great scroll on both sides of the main gates for visitors to look at and consider the past that lay buried there.
But all the Jungle Lord, Lord Graystone, saw at that moment was the odd protuberance that thrust alongside one of the better known crypts...that of King Duncan, who was a very famous mathematician in his time, as well as all around scholar, responsible for funding many great men in scientism research and exploration.
The Jungle Lord had smelled the odd contraption as he swept through the gigantic oak trees that filled the park, but at the time it had registered as completely as now what that source might indicate. But as he completed his meticulous search of London, the scent came back to him and he remembered from where.
So now he watched the cemetery with eyes that would miss nothing. And it was from there that he saw the metallic thing slowly raise into the setting sun's light and sprout an odd nimbus of bright red and green colors.
It was the scent of the stolen metals.
It had to be the hiding place of the original Mummy creature and it looked as if it were preparing to launch a new portion of its plans for the destruction of London.
He cupped his hands to his mouth and let out his bull dragon yell, again and again.
As he did so, the air shimmered mightily, as if a great ocean were sideways in the air and beginning to swell open. It grew larger and larger.
In the streets below citizens looked everywhere to discover the source of the horrid sound, and at Baker Street, Sherlock, who stood at the window looking out as ever for his lost friend, stiffened.
Harry kicked off his shoes the same time as Moriarity did and they ran across the short space from the hatch to the emergency boat tied to the side of the main cabin. They never reached it. A huge giant of a man walked from behind it and faced them, a sword in each hand.
"You'll have to pass me to go further."
Moriarity smiled. "We were just out for a stroll, weren't we, Harry?"
The huge man gave Moriarity a strange look.
Harry, who had his left fist behind his back, made several arcane gestures, and wove power into a knot of energy about his fist.
"Surely, you don't expect us to stay down in those cramped quarters like bilge rats, do you?" Moriarity explained.
The huge man wrinkled his nose. "You smell like them!"
Harry cast his fist around and shouted. "Be gone!"
The huge man staggered a man, as if struck by something, then a huge grin crossed his face. "Magic, hey? I was warned you might try that." He grinned, revealing teeth sharpened to points, then touched his jacket where a strange shape was drawn on it.
"Harry?" Moriarity shot.
Moriarity turned his back on the huge man to face Harry. The huge man hadn't expected that. He wavered for a moment. Harry cast his fist at Moriarity. "Be gone!"
Moriarity slammed across the deck like a rocket and struck the huge man. He slammed into the deck rail, breaking it aside, his body fracturing as he launched into the air, with Moriarity close behind him.
Harry ran over and caught Moriarity by an outstretched hand and with great effort swung him up and over the broken railing to the safety of the vessel.
But too late for surprise now. The scream of the broken sailor and the yells had stirred the ship to life. The sailor in the crow's nest was scrambling down with a knife in his mouth, and others were spilling up from below, swords and knives at the ready.
"They don't look like zombies." Harry noted.
"Not all zombies have to be persuaded to be that way." Moriarity explained, then shoved Harry overboard.
Harry gave him a look of utter surprise, then twisted himself around so he could cut the cold waters smoothly. He struck the waves, and went under several feet. As he surfaced he saw something large tumble over the edge towards him.
He ducked beneath the water again and swam under the dropped emergency boat and was given a hand up by Moriarity, who had a look of utter joy on his face. Harry couldn't understand why until he looked up and saw some smoke begin to rise from where the railing had been broken by his magic.
"I had a few matches left on me."
"What kind of matches could do that?" Harry gasped, spitting water out as he did so.
Moriarity smiled enigmatically. "Not all of us are destitute of magic, Harry. Some of us are just waiting for the right moment to use it."
With that he stood up in the boat, nearly capsizing them and flung his hands up to cast a spell of rebuffal as several knives hurtled towards them. They struck the shield of magic and spun safely into the water.
The Mummy creature came to the side, its fiery red eyes casting a look of pure malevolence towards them. Then it raised a tentacled hand with an odd shaped weapon in it. It began to glow at its barrel.
"Oh bloody hell!" Harry cursed. "We're all going to die!"
Then the bridge of the ship exploded as first one, then another cannon shell struck it, then the main deck. The ship buckled from the blows, then more shells began to strike. In moments it was burning like a raging inferno.
Harry and Moriarity looked behind them and saw an approaching pirate ship, a bloody red skull and crossbones rising on its main mast.
"From the pan into the fire." Moriarity hissed.
"Never a dull day in the life of villains, is there, Moriarity?"
"Never." He replied, a slight smile touching his lips. "Never at all."
Sherlock stood at the spot where the original battle with the warship and Mummy creature had been, his hands clasped behind his back. He was deep in thought, but no so deep that he didn't turn and speak as Lord Graystone, the Jungle Lord, stepped into view, his bronzed face stern and lit with fury.
"You have something, I assume, Lord Graystone?"
Lord Graystone stepped closer, then threw Sherlock over his shoulder and turned around and leaped into the air as lightly and easily as if Sherlock were a child.
They landed on the nearest rooftop and then Lord Graystone began running for the next rooftop, then leaped. It was a distance of nearly ten yards.
For the first time in a long time Sherlock wondered if he was going to live.
Lady Shareen and Mrs. Hudson climbed from the Lady's personal Tesla and struck along the shoveled path to the entrance of Edison and Tesla's warehouse. A guard met them at the front door.
Lady Shareen eyed him thoughtfully. "You don't know who I am?"
"My lady, I don't know who any...any one is anymore?" He replied firmly.
She laughed, then reached into her purse.
He backed up hastily, then she pulled out her passport and handed it towards him. "I am the Lady Shareen, first cousin to Lord Cutherbome and niece of Professor Challenger. I suspect you know at least one of them."
He took the passport, eyed the photo, then her and stepped to one of the new Edison phones that was being tested. It was the size of a small book, with a box where his lips spoke and another box where his ear was. He put it to his ear. "Sir, there's a lady down here wanting to see you."
Lady Shareen turned to Mrs. Hudson. "I remember a time when anyone could walk in here without a word."
"Times change." Mrs. Hudson replied, her face weary with fatigue and worry.
Lady Shareen put a hand on her arm and squeezed it warmly. "He's going to be fine. Trust me. My intuition is never wrong."
"I pray you're right. For quite honestly, if something were to happen to John, I'd...I'd..."
She burst into tears.
Lady Shareen pulled her close and hugged her tight.
Tesla appeared at the entrance, saw what was going on and nodded to the guard, who fell back, but didn't leave the entrance entirely. He kept his eyes sweeping across the parking lot and the environment, searching. For he no longer felt safe anymore. None of them did since the attack.
"Lady Shareen!" He announced, stepping into view, reaching his hand out. "Mrs. Hudson! It is such a delight to have you both come."
Mrs. Hudson pulled free and sniffled.
Tesla whipped a hanky from his vest coat and handed it to her.
She blew into it and started to hand it back.
"Keep it. I have more where that came from." He said with a gracious and warm smile.
He slipped a hand about Mrs. Hudson's shoulders, then around Lady Shareen's. "I think we have much to talk about, we three."
Then he let go and they followed him inside.
When they reached his private offices, they entered and Mrs. Hudson gave Madame Curie a look of surprise. She was hugging Inspector Bloodstone with Constable Evans standing beside t hem, a big smile on his face.
"You see, Mrs. Hudson. We've made a bit of progress since last we met."
Inspector Bloodstone rushed over to take her hands. "I am so, so sorry for what has transpired, and I tell you now, by every cell in my body I swear this. We will find Watson and recover him safely."
Constable Evans turned to Madame Curie. "Will this work for the more advanced cases, like the men in our constabulary?"
"Only one way to find out, isn't there?"
Tesla watched as Constable Evans helped Madame Tesla gather up some devices he and Edison with her help had constructed, then head for them.
"What is happening?" Lady Shareen inquired, a bit confused at the goings on.
Inspector Bloodstone's face grew as cold as ice, his eyes mere pinpricks of flaming anger and disgust. "We are taking this battle to the streets. I'll not see one more man, woman or child fall to this deadly infection. And then..."
"And then what?" Mrs. Hudson demanded.
He looked at her, his face filled with fury. "We shall destroy every last one of those monsters and send them back to the hell they came from!"
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