The investigation didn’t take long to conclude. Dr. Creeper sent over some of the xenobiologists specializing in multiversal specimens. They didn’t bother to tell me until they got over here that they haven’t figured out a way to tell if a being has crossed the universe divide and traveled to another universe. Creeper wasted my time there, but I know why he did it. I’ll have to have a talk with him about honesty and trust later. Maybe while dangling him off the side of a building.
Not having a good relationship with the Elders, and having reaffirmed my leadership by murdering people, the Elders didn’t want to talk to me. I had Toyotomi handle that for me as well, with the idea that he could threaten th em with talking to me if they were difficult or if he thought they were lying. Officially, I was inclined to be merciful so long as my subjects stayed in line. So he handled the investigation.
I have my people looking out for any similar phenomena around the world, either with people returning from the dead or new people appearing fully-grown. Either one could turn into a hell of a problem considering some of the folks I’ve fought and killed. A sample size of one doesn’t give me an idea if I’m being targeted or just lucky.
I don’t like having nothing to do. I think that’s why it took me so long to really delegate things. Being a badass makes it hard to sit a threat out, but this is something better left to others. I’ve done incredible things based on the work of others, but I’m really no scientist. I don’t have Toyotomi’s rapport with the locals and I just scared the crap out of some of the people he thinks would know if this Eld guy was some lost sibling or undead prince. What I could do is exhaust myself by spying on the world. I have lots of people who can do that instead.
Good people. I got a report back from my Intel Chief that showed that in a report he sent to me. It’s a dark report, one we can destroy after I’ve dealt with it. A few of my guys in the States are sympathetic to folks in the camps and got the idea to form a cell to intervene. They wanted to help. Pagan dressed up the language a bit so it didn’t come across too altruistically, but they’ve already taken a few steps.
The ones that have appropriate contacts are using them for cover, but it amounts to them having people removed from camps or convoys heading to the camps. They don’t have any real documentation other than what they can forge, and it could compromise our infiltration of the government. On top of that, my Foreign Service is talking with some Acting Secretary of State or maybe whatever intern is left working for that department to try and get us a consulate or an embassy. This could screw that up.
I sent in my orders and looked into anything else I could do in the meantime. Then I was like “What the hell, let’s continue my tour of the Mu colonies,” and gathered up my personal guard for a flight to New Paradise.
From above, it looked like a fun little mess. The Hares had laid out an outer wall that enclosed part of a forest, a bit of farm land, and a grid pattern of streets with the beginnings of a city. They had streets going out further than they had buildings, which were in all sorts of different styles. I saw a log cabin across the street from an adobe house. A villa with Greek columns was neighbors to a cottage that stood on two tall legs resembling chickens. They had styles from all over the world thrown together like it was nobody’s business. In the middle of it all was a building that looked more utilitarian and even brutalist. It was a thick, concrete thing, like a Soviet version of a medieval keep, except for where it flowed into a smaller, lighter section that could have been a normal government building in Europe or North America.
I heard the chatter as ground control contacted our pilot. I didn’t even think they had an airfield, but we flew around and came down at a small area that had been cleared northwest of the keep area. It was a mostly empty section of city except for a couple of sheds and a small hangar.
Since I didn’t coordinate this visit with the Hares, they didn’t roll out the marching band or the welcome wagon. Instead, an apologetic alien with purple skin called ahead about us and stayed to show us what little amenities there were in the hangar and air traffic shack. She seemed nervous to have us there, but then I was a well-known villain in powerful power armor flanked by a squad of trained, genetically- and cybernetically-modified soldiers in power armor of their own. And all she had for us was a TV, a DVD player, and a single pot of coffee.
“We don’t keep enough on hand for large crowds,” she said while my guys swarmed the coffee machine.
I waved it off. “Understandable. Please relax, this is merely a visit to check up on the place under my banner. No big trouble, no fights, none of that. No need to worry, miss…?”
She held a hand to her own chest. “My name is Iza.”
“What?!” I said, taking a step forward. She meeped and shrunk back, shoulders hunching to make herself look smaller. “How dare you say that about my mother?!”
My guards all looked up as soon as they heard me first raise my voice, but quickly continued raiding the coffee when I chuckled. “Relax, it’s just a stupid joke. You’re fine. Just chill. And breath, I think you’re turning a deeper shade of purple.”
Iza let out a deep breath. After a couple of seconds, she laughed too, but I don’t think she enjoyed the joke so much. Left her alone and waited outside after that to give her a break, prompting a couple of my guys to rush after, little styrofoam cups in hand.
Apollo arrived twenty minutes after we landed, driving a yellow and white Cadillac convertible that Elvis would have called gaudy. That’s the Hare’s Apollo, too. The other Apollo I know is a guy who looks like a sculpture due to some powers of controlling stone and other materials. This guy took the name of the Greek deity, and did his best to emulate the guy with a bow and arrow, teleportation, and doing things to people’s bodies. “Hello, Empress Gecko. What brings you to New Paradise?”
“Just checking on the colonies. Seeing how they’re doing, if there are any strange problems going on. This continent’s kind of odd from what I’ve noticed.”
He nodded. “I know what you mean. We didn’t mean to worry you, but we have been fighting an unusual threat. When we arrived in this area, we found ruins and bodies belonging to a snake cult. We buried them, leader and all. Now, for the past few nights, the town has been besieged by the snake cult, lead by their fanged leader.”
“So, it’s Return of the Living Dead up in this beast?” I asked. Sounds like another example of what went on back at the Bronze City.
Apollo shook his head. “We checked. Their bodies are still buried.”
“Huh. So it’s either time travel or invaders from another dimension,” I said. “I want to see this.”
That evening, my guys and I got to see it. We were waiting up on the wall along with a few of their aliens with high-tech beat-up guns, a few guys with rifles, and a small detachment of folks with mail, crossbows, swords, and spears. Between the bunch of them, they were prepared for very small numbers of everything from Greek Hoplites to white-tailed deer.
We were waiting since around sunset, but nothing really happened until dark finally set. When it got too dark to see normally, Apollo fired an arrow into the air that lit up the night like a beacon and showed the ground outside the wall crawling with snakes. Among them moved people with curved swords wearing armor resembling snake’s scales. Off in the distance was a snakeman with a lower half like a snake and a staff in his hand.
“Seems easy enough to deal with,” I said. I pointed at that guy. “Men, target and kill.”
My guards raised their microguns and opened fire. The targeting assist program in their armors’ HUDs helped them find their mark, the shots bounced off a writhing barrier that only became visible when hit. The snakeman seemed to say something, then laughed. I noticed that a few of the shots went wide and the same barrier appeared to block them from striking the cultists that otherwise would have ended up quite holy through the power of 5.56.
“Huh,” I said.
Apollo shook his head, “Yeah. I tried just killing him. It goes all the way around, too. I tried to teleport behind him and get him in the head, but it stopped the shot. I can’t get inside the barrier, either.”
“Hmm… I have an idea…” I called up Telechamber Command. “Hey guys. This is the Empress. I have a special request I need taken care of. I’m sending you a set of coordinates now. I need you guys to target the coordinates and teleport it to this other set of coordinates. Yes, I know that’s a heck of a distance, but it shouldn’t really matter.”
A minute after our conversation, the snakeman was engulfed in a bright white aura, then he and his protective orb disappeared. My guards began to fire on the approaching snakes and cultists, who were getting a little closer for comfort now. The Hares went at it too, and Apollo fired off a few shots in between walking over toward me to ask, “What happened to their leader?”
“I stuck him where the sun doesn’t shine,” I responded, then pointed up into the night sky, and the moon that hung in it. “That’s one small slither for snakeman, one giant leap for snakemankind.”
Apollo laughed. “That’s one enemy you sent to the sun, another to the moon.”
“The dark side of the moon,” I said. “He’s the moon Nazis’ problem now.”
“Is that a reference to something?” Apollo asked.
“If you don’t already know, then I’m now allowed to tell you,” I said to him, waving off his questions. There aren’t moon Nazis, but I still owe the Hares a lot of fucking with, even if they are technically a colony of mine now. “You got these snakes handled?” I asked.
Apollo raised his bow and pantomimed pulling back an arrow. A yellow glow filled the entire interior of the bow between the string and the body. When he let it go, the yellow bolt flew off and burst into the ground, exploding and sweeping out in a corona that burned everything caught in its radius. He grinned and looked to me. “They die easily enough without the Snake King to save them.”
“Ooh, I call dibs on the title,” I said, the Great and Devious Empress Psychomp Gecko, Snake King and King of the Bronze City.