Episode Two—Hidden In The Foam

A man with the number of weapons that the Agent has should at least cause some level of concern for people, Corrina thought. She cautiously surveyed the weapons as he went through the basic maintenance routine. He’s got enough weaponry for a small army here, probably could win a war on his own with it. Kind of disconcerting in a lot of ways. Three weeks with him and all he’s let me do is hangout on the ship with the computer. Donald tells me about all the stuff they do and I feel pretty lame. My entire childhood spent training for the Olympics and what are they doing? Saving universes with advanced technology and concepts I doubt I’d ever be able to comprehend. All of them, apparently. Every single one. And they act like it’s just another job. Save one universe, move on to the next. No big deal. The Gold was the end all, be all for me for so long. Now, it doesn’t seem important. They showed me a supernova and flew us through a black hole like it nothing. Now I just want to help and they won’t let me. Donald keeps telling me that the Agent will warm up eventually and I think he is starting to. Seems like he thinks I was just another job. He does have this natural charisma about him. It’s like, if he wasn’t in this job, he’d be exactly the kind of guy I’d date. You just see him and you naturally start to trust him. It’s weird. But on the other hand… what have I gotten myself into? I’m here to help them save universes? Talk about a real head-fuck. I could barely keep myself in one piece without trainers and coaches watching my every breath. I left my universe to save it—according to him anyway—and now I’m hitching along with him? If I hadn’t see his spaceship, I would have bolted on him again. Why didn’t I trust that instinct even after I saw the ship?

Those were the thoughts running through Corrina’s mind as she finished putting her hair up in a bun held in place by a couple of hair sticks. The section that ended the forward circle of the Seraphim Raider housed an impressive armory—a two level store room with the top level divided by a narrow walkway. The walls and racks were lined with a variety of guns, swords and a myriad of other weapons she could and could not identify. Corrina could only gape as she looked at it, being particularly fascinated primarily by the beautiful designs and engravings on a collection of Japanese Katanas. The red-head looked at them in amusement as the Agent worked on organizing them and checking to see which ones needed maintenance soon.

Why would anyone need to have this many guns?” she asked. She adjusted her Union Jack t-shirt—tucking it into her black jeans as she spoke. Leaning over the counter a bit, she smiled coyly at the Agent. “Not over compensating, are we?”

Ha ha,” the Agent laughed. His initial unease with her presence on the Seraphim Raider was rapidly fading to a minor skepticism—focused more on the High Council’s actions in the matter rather than her personally—and they were getting more comfortable with each other. He still had a few concerns about her, but her solid acclimation and Donald’s assurance that she was learning very quickly in their lessons were helping to soothe those. “That is a good one. I’ll have to remember it. But no, this is actually the standard allotment of weapons for a ship’s armory. I agree that it does seem like a lot—and far too many guns. To be perfectly honest, I dislike using firearms. I usually search for every possible opportunity to avoid their usage when in the field, but sometimes you have to. Guns are simply one of mankind’s most ubiquitous and easy ways to kill themselves and I never had much use for the easy way. Too simple, too easy, and I’ve been around way too long to like them.

Unfortunately, you don’t often get to choose the weapon you use. Most of the time, I end up using a gun. Every situation needs a different tool. You can’t use a handgun where a sniper rifle is needed. Well, you could… but it would be extraordinarily difficult and more of a headache than it could ever be worth. Also, disguise is important for this job. Using a weapon that clearly doesn’t fit that universe or time would just be foolish. You grok?”

Grok?” she asked.

Ever read Stranger In A Strange Land?” he asked. She shook her head. “Pity, really a shame that they don’t make more people read that one in school. Then again, there’s a lot about sex in there, so they probably wouldn’t trust kids reading it… But anyway, the word ‘grok’ comes from that novel. It means to know someone or something intuitively, to the point where it is like a part of you. Always been a favorite word of mine, one I’ve constantly tried to work into my everyday vocabulary. I have a copy of it in the recreation room if you want to read it sometime.”

Cool,” she said. She turned back to the armory. “Still seems like a lot of guns though.”

I used to have a team that I worked with on missions,” he said. “This job is usually done in teams. A crew of about seven or eight. It helps to avoid a number of problems. Cabin fever was huge problem for those in this line of work early on, so they had teams to keep people from going stir crazy and losing it. Unfortunately, I lost my team.”

What happened to them?”

There was a war in the Knighthood. It started when one member made an insane grab for power and kept it going when people started to think that the High Council was a bit too smug and getting corrupt. As you know first hand, we walk a thin moral line. We all get conflicted about some of the things we have to do, and when the War started, tensions came to a head. My whole crew was killed in one of the final battles of the War. Now I’m the only one left. Of my crew, I mean.”

I’m so sorry.”

It’s all right. I remember them well. Good men and women, all of them.”

Corrina nodded and continued to study the guns.

Schrödinger,” she read aloud. “Heisenberg, Einstein, Hawking… R-A-W?”

Robert Anton Wilson, Science Fiction writer and occasional philosopher.”

They’re all named for physicists and philosophers?”

Their earliest doppelgangers—counterparts, but doppelgangers sounds much cooler—were the ones to first develop the technology we use,” the Agent elaborated. “My forefathers, if you will.”

Excuse me sir,” Donald chimed in. The ship’s computer seemed almost excited as he reported over the intercom, the tone seeming more upbeat. That was another much appreciated change the Agent noticed since Corrina had come aboard—Donald was considerably less whiny in his mind. “We are near our destination in the appropriate universe.”

Thanks Donald,” the Agent answered. He looked to Corrina again. “Ready to go?”

You’re taking me along?” Corrina asked incredulously. “You didn’t take me along for the last three stops. I thought you didn’t trust me. Not that I mind. The stuff Donald’s been teaching is very interesting, but I’ve still been sitting around her for the past week or so.”

Interesting Mister Agent, she thought. Very interesting.

It’s not that I didn’t trust you,” he said. “We’ve actually gotten beyond a lot of my usual trust issues with people already. Now that the bruising has gone down, I don’t even care that you smacked me across the head with a frying pan. The problem is this: I was ordered to kill you and then—while I was fulfilling that order—it was changed so that I extracted you from your home universe instead. Very unusual sequence of events, and the High Council has yet to provide what I would consider a detailed explanation of the why behind it. Believe me, I sent a request asking for one. Think of it more as keeping a very close eye on you—but not in a creepy way. Basically making sure you don’t get into trouble, because they clearly think you should stay alive. Also, I kind of wanted Donald to run through the basics with you before you came along on a mission, which he has done. You grok?”

Corrina laughed and shook her head.

Alright,” she said. “Let’s go.”

Holy shit! she thought. Corrina Marvin: Savior of the Universe… Okay, that might be a bit of a reach, but still! This should be awesome.

They left the ship once the Agent had landed it. Upon their arrival in that universe, reality experienced a brief shock as a result. There was a minor earthquake in Portugal, breaking open a rock formation on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean—which revealed the previously unknown location of the lost continent of Atlantis. It was found a week later by a British Navy submarine on their typical patrol route.

Corrina grabbed her black leather jacket as the Agent grabbed his trench coat and they went towards the door, putting on their outer garments as they went. From the door they were stepping into a grove of trees. The sounds of a stream running nearby were audible as they walked through a park.

Where are we?” Corrina asked. She zipped up her jacket as they walked—partly because of it being a chilly morning, but also because it occurred to her that she was not sure the Union Jack would play well here.

Monk’s Park,” he said. “In the city of Cumberland, Mississippi, in universe designate 77-592, year 2007 of the late religious era. I believe this particular universe, the Catholic church rules the world, after they successfully put down a vampire uprising…”

Where do you get that designation number?” she asked. “Donald said that was something I would learn later.”

I’ll remind Donald it’s not a big secret. ‘A very complex formula’ is the simple, four-word explanation. No one knows the whole formula—it actually takes about fifty pages to write it out completely. The only people who know it are the High Council Members. It’s part of the initiation into it. Come along.”

They continued walking, starting to reach the edge of town.

So you asked them why they wanted to extract me?” she asked.

Yep,” he replied.

What did they say?”

They said it was a part of an ongoing investigation and I would be notified of the findings when they were reported.”

So, they’re keeping you out of the loop on a mission that were a primary participant of? Are they screwing with you?”

Wouldn’t surprise me. Like the hair by the way. That spiky bun thing suits you.”

Thanks.”

They entered the suburbs of Cumberland, walking down a fairly torpor looking street labeled Finch Street. Corrina wondered where they were heading as they moved down the drab street. The houses were painted a uniform gray, broken by a couple of brightly painted houses that looked like they had been built considerably earlier than the others, we chipping paint on the shutters. They came to a halt outside a pleasant looking house, this one painted a shade of green. A lattice-work archway overgrown with ivy marked the way from the sidewalk to the door. As they strolled in from the street, Corrina thought she could see something coming from the door. She could not say for certain what it was—it seemed to be shimmering in and out of sight as she tried to focus on it. She ignored it for the time being, deciding it was probably just a trick of the light and nothing important.

Who are we visiting?” Corrina asked. “Who lives here?”

The question isn’t who lives here,” the Agent replied. “The question is who should be living here?”

Great, she thought. He’s going to be annoying and cryptic the whole time we’re here, isn’t he? Maybe I should have stayed on the ship with Donald.

What do you mean?” she asked.

Just follow my lead and you’ll see,” he replied glumly.

Corrina held back the initial response of obnoxious cynicism that sprang into her mind and followed him to the door. Knocking, the Agent waited calmly as a short, middle-aged man answered. Opening the door, he grimaced at them beneath his thick mustache—his eyes narrow in a steely glare. He regarded them coolly. The Agent looked rather nonthreatening to him, but Corrina—in her black jeans and leather jacket—looked just about the opposite to him.

Hello sir,” the Agent said. “I’m sorry to trouble you, but this is the residence of one Theresa Carmichael, is it not?”

Not at the moment,” the man said. He kept his eyes on Corrina, not entirely trusting the girl’s stance. Corrina tried to give him a reassuring smile, but got the impression it did not work. “She disappeared two months ago. Was getting ready for school one and and just vanished. Cops say she ran away, no sign of where she went. I’m her father, Steven.”

I’m sorry to hear that,” the Agent said. “We’re here on an official inquiry, and I was wondering if there was any chance we could have a look at her room?”

What?” Steven asked. “Why? Who are you?”

Forgive me sir,” the Agent replied. He held out a flip wallet for him to see, opening and closing it quickly before returning it to his trench coat pocket. “I was relapse in standard procedure. I forgot to introduce us and present our credentials. My name is Carson Argyle, an agent of the Vatican, Section XIII. We deal with demonic threats and things of such a nature. My associate here is Corrina Marvin, a child psychologist and police investigator specializing in runaways and missing persons. I’m here because our intelligence tells us that there may have been some… unearthly elements involved in your daughter’s disappearance. We won’t be long, we just wish to confirm the circumstances that led to your daughter’s disappearance.”

Wha… What happened to her? Is she all right?”

We would prefer not to comment or speculate on that until we have all the facts. Only fools speak on matters that they do not know. Do not worry for her well being though, I’m sure the Lord is watching over her and guiding her back to you.”

Amen.”

That was impressive, Corrina thought. I thought for sure this guy was going to think we were just a couple of crazies or reporters come to exploit him. Looked like he thought I was going to beat him up. But the Agent is pretty impressive when he wants to be.

Holy shit, the Agent thought. He actually let us in. I was all ready to climb in through the window and gas the house… Damn, that would have been fun.

Without another word, Steven led them upstairs to Theresa’s room and left them there alone after the Agent thanked him. They stood there in the room for a long moment, pondering then scene. The Agent walked about the room, studying the posters on the wall and giving everything an appraising glance. It was a clearly laid out room with a large closet dominating the wall across from the door, a vanity and dresser situated perpendicular to that and a desk against wall in the corner. The bed was between the dresser and the closet. The posters were of cheap horror and slasher movies.

Carson Argyle?” Corrina asked. “You have a badge?”

Just an alias,” he replied. “A prop to help me blend in a bit. Same deal with the badge. Donald downloads the badge designs for the local universes and we pass ourselves off as cops or whatnot. Rarely use it though.”

What is your real name?” she asked.

Forgive me if we don’t discuss that at the moment.” He gestured around at the room. “We have more important matters to attend to right now. What do you see in this room?”

There’s a dodge and a half if I ever saw one, she thought. Don’t worry about it kid. This is way too much fun to worry about stuff like that right now. He seems like someone who’s been burned in the past. He lost his crew apparently. That probably had an effect as well. Give him time.

He moved into the corner by the dresser as Corrina began to study the room more closely. He leaned back into the corner with his hands in pocket while she moved around and started to examine the room. She sat at the vanity, sniffing the open perfume and recognizing the scent as one she had used when she was a teenager. It was fairly unorganized—with items scattered around and left out or open. The beauty products almost made her nauseous—an open bottle of nail polish somewhere triggering the most noticeable reaction. A closer look—once Corrina had sealed the open bottles—revealed that the makeup and nail polishes were all very dark or very pale colors. Scattered around were various hair ties with dead smiley faces and other dark images hanging from them. Hung on the mirror were several pentagram necklaces.

How old was this girl?” she asked.

Almost fifteen,” the Agent replied. “What can you tell about her so far?”

I think she was very into emo or goth stuff,” she said. “These shades of makeup and polishes are pretty dark and pale. I don’t see too much variety in color to choose from here. Perfume seems to be out of place though. Christmas gift?”

If you say so,” he replied.

Corrina checked the drawers of the vanity before standing and looking through the dresser, glancing over the various items she saw. The drawers of the dresser were all full of clothes. She looked over to the Agent, who was standing beside the closet.

What’s in the closest?” she asked. The Agent opened the door wide so that she could see it as well.

Clothes,” he replied. “Mostly dark colors, some brighter ones here and there. Most of those are pushed more to the far back of the rack though. Lot of black shoes—pumps and boots as well. I think those are called Mary Jane’s? I’d say that supports your goth theory. Looks full, not likely even been looked at since she left.”

Nodding, Corrina sat on the bed and picked up a stuffed animal. It was an ugly black bear. It stared her in the eye as she looked at it, taunting her. She looked at the others, seeing a scattering of bears and alien looking dolls.

I don’t think she ran away,” she said. “Nothing seems to have been taken and there were still open bottles of nail polish on the vanity—nearly dried up, but still open. Unless somebody else has been using them, that would either mean she left suddenly or was absent-minded. Based on everything else, I would say she left suddenly or was taken somewhere—not running away. Clothes, makeup, stuffed animals—they’re all still here and look pretty much untouched. If she did leave, it was very sudden and probably unplanned.” Seeing a pile of CD’s below the nightstand, she picked them and began to look them over, reading the band names as she went. “Let’s see what we’ve got here… Panic at the Disco… Dashboard Confessional… Coheed and Cambria… My Chemical Romance… Bleh. Lots of Fallout Boy. Too much really. Too much emo. Haven’t these kids ever heard of James Marsters or Stroke 9? The New Pornographers or Modest Mouse? Blue Oyster Cult? That stuff is the shit, and I mean that in a good way. This stuff… it’s a cheap drug, nothing more. Doesn’t do what music is supposed to. It isn’t one that usually leads to running away either.”

Emo?” the Agent asked.

Emo punk music,” she explained. “It’s a sub genre of punk music. Mostly sad stuff about how the world and everything sucks. Depressed kids listen to it and get more depressed—they somehow get the impression that they can relate to it. All they ever got was more annoying. Never really got into it myself though. I always thought good music should make you remember something about life and what it means to be alive. Get in touch with what you should be—not more with the sorry mess you are that particular moment. Like a really good kiss or seeing something that triggers a really important memory. It doesn’t necessarily make you feel bad. Why do you think gymnasts and ice skaters have their preferred songs to do routines to? Athletics with their warm-up songs? But anyway, I got off topic, didn’t I? Emo was never my thing. I usually wanted to beat those kids up. I actually did a couple of times… Simplest explanation is that you’re emotive and depressed, and try to make everyone else depressed with you.”

I see. What does that tell you about our present situation?”

Well, goth-emo kid… probably didn’t have a lot of friends—or at least not the good kind of friends a kid should have. Basically an outcast or loner, I would guess.”

You said an ‘outcast’. Interesting choice of words.”

I think he’s trying to piss me off, she thought. Maybe that’s been his goal ever since I decided to join up and work with him. He’s succeeding beyond all expectations.

Her eyes shut as he finished speaking, clarifying a new wave of annoyance that came over her.

Alright, what’s your problem?” she asked. “You know exactly what’s going on, so why this load of shit? What’s with being so cryptic and mysterious about everything?”

You’re right,” he said. “I am overdoing it with the whole being mysterious and cryptic references. But it’s for a very, very good reason. I’m testing you. I’m seeing how you work in a somewhat controlled scenario before we get into a real clusterfuck where your life or mine might be on the line. I’m trying to see if I can train you into something even more useful.”

You’re being a bastard.”

I know. That’s one of the many things that I’m very good at—my usual character defect. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you everything once we’ve done a bit more investigation into this. We’re in process of confirming the theory about what’s going on right now. I’m just easing you into the way we do things in this job while we confirm what’s going on. Just follow my lead for now—keep going like you have been—and you’ll be fine.”

uuu

They made five more stops that day to five other houses before regrouping at the ship. Back at the Seraphim Raider, they sat in the lounge discussing the day’s work. The Agent sat on a large bean bag chair while Corrina laid across the couch. She had figured out how to use the entertainment system that dominated the wall across from her and “Death Valley Nights” by Blue Oyster cult was playing.

All I need is a kiss from you babe! she sang to herself. It’s got one of the best beats of any albums you could find. I did floor routines to almost every song on it. Easily my favorite my album.

We visited six houses today,” Corrina said. The fingertips of her hands were pressing against each other as she thought, folding in and out as she thought and talked through the facts they had gathered. “Each of them was missing a child. Despite the activity patterns and behaviors in some cases, no signs of running away or kidnapping. Nothing to indicate that they left together or really were ever aware each other existed—so this being a planned group thing is highly unlikely. Nothing to indicate that they actually left at all. Unlikely that it would be kidnapping—there would be some kind of evidence to confirm it. Short of them wandering away on their own for no apparent reason, the only possibility left—which I’m pretty sure is impossible—left is them just spontaneously disappearing. It’s as though they’ve disappeared into thin air.”

That is a very interesting statement,” the Agent said. “If only because air is not that ‘thin’ in actual sense. But, the science of it aside… ‘disappeared into thin air’… Very interesting statement. Think about it for a minute.”

Well it’s not what happened here,” she said. “That’s not even possible… right?”

Okay, he thought. She’s gotten as close as she could get without training. Pretty damn good so far. Fully trained, she’d make a good Agent.

In a way,” he answered. “You know what teleportation is?”

Probably not in the way you’re talking about it,” she said.

Teleportation is the process of destroying a set of molecules and recreating that set in an identical arrangement at another point,” he explained. “In order for the reconstruction to occur, some molecules need to cross to the new point and serve as the basis for the new copy to be built on. That is where the exchange occurs, some molecules crossing over to help put the transferred object back together.”

So if that’s what happened here, where were these kids put back together?”

A smile crept across the Agent’s face.

And therein lies the rub,” he said. “I explained what Quantum Foam was to you, right?”

I think you said it was the stuff that keeps universes separated?” she said.

That’s the simple answer,” the Agent said. “However, it is also permeated throughout each universe—as all universes are occupying the same space and merely vibrate on different frequencies than each other. When we’re traveling through the Foam, we are actually just shifting our frequencies from one universe to another. The interweaving of Foam will occasionally act as a net—catching certain objects and people, canceling out their frequency and replacing them with the Foam.”

So these kids are caught in the Foam,” Corrina concluded. “How do we get them out?”

No fucking clue.”

Corrina gaped at the Agent for a moment before responding.

Is he fucking kidding? she thought. “Going Through the Motions” began to play as she spoke.

What?” she asked.

In most cases, we would just lock on to them by identifying their particular set of molecules and bring them back,” the Agent explained. “In those cases, a simple operation. But—and this is almost unheard of—we have been unable to identify any wayward Quantum Foam in the area. Care to elaborate, Donald?”

Normally the Quantum Foam will form large deposits when the exchange occurs,” the ship computer began. His voice echoed hollow over the speakers of the ship. “In those cases, we would simply locate the deposit and reverse the exchange there by reversing the polarity of the energy flow. Unfortunately this has not been the case so far. The energy deposits are not appearing on my scanners at this moment. I have not determined a plausible explanation as of yet.”

So where does that leave us?” Corrina asked.

As you have said to me on multiple occasions, ‘up a certain proverbial creek without a particular instrument,’” Donald replied. “We have only six hours before the universe becomes inherently unstable and collapses as a result of the tangential elements.”

No plan?” she asked.

Our scanners are useless at the particular moment, madame,” Donald said. “Unable to lock onto the deposits, we are out of options. If there is an outside factor acting on the Foam, we have no idea how to detect it.”

So things are pretty well fucked up right now,” the Agent added. “Part of our trip to the houses was to see if we could figure this one out, as well as to give you a field exercise. We didn’t, so here we are. Unless you got any bright ideas, we’re going to have to let this universe die and take our chances with the survival of the ones nearby.”

Corrina thought about it for a long moment, considering what they should do. The last song on the album began and she closed her eyes. She had done a floor routine at the Baghdad Olympics to the song “Nosferatu” and earned the Gold for it. Everybody thought it was very dramatic. The song had always been a favorite of hers and it helped her to concentrate. The Agent was about to press her for a response, but stopped as she held up a finger and sang along with the song. Once it finished, she sat up and looked at him.

There’s got to be something we missed, she thought. Some little thing that is the key to all of this. Something we didn’t think was important enough the first time we noticed to actually look at fully—

Can we take another look at the Carmichael place?” she asked. “I think I saw something while we were there. Probably nothing, but it might be worth checking out.”

He did not answer for a long moment as he considered.

Alright,” he said. “Let’s go.”

uuu

Outside the Carmichael house, Corrina and the Agent together stood on the sidewalk. The Agent suggested they go back inside, but Corrina’s idea was something that involved them being outside. The Agent looked annoyed and dismayed as he saw ominous streaks moving across the sky.

I hope your idea is going to start panning out pretty soon,” the Agent said. “We’ve got a matter of hours to restore the universal balance before it goes into collapse.”

Corrina’s mouth was opening to respond, but stopped when she saw it. It was a glowing tube, about four feet off the ground and stretching out from the door. It was clear and fuzzy with a random range of colors running through, looking kind of like a warped piece of glass and no wider than her finger. It started just in front of the door to the Carmichael house.

You see that?” she asked.

See what?” the Agent asked.

This tube thing,” she said. She tried to touch it, but her hand passed right through. The prismatic quality did not even vary or shift with her movement. “You don’t see it?”

No,” he replied. “I don’t see a thing.”

Is she going crazy on me? he wondered, running through the possibilities. Regeneration process already beginning? That would be a record for showing signs of it. Well… without “encouragement” anyway.

Really?” she asked.

Great, she thought. Now he thinks I’m going crazy.

His eyes narrowed and focused on her, trying to determine if she had lost her mind or if she was actually seeing something. His lip twisted to the side slightly as he thought.

Hurm,” he mused.

You all right?” Corrina asked.

I was about to ask you the same question. Let’s follow this ‘tube’—whatever it might be—to its destination.”

Nodding, Corrina began walking in the direction the tube went. It weaved across town, through hedges and yards—they got some odd and angry looks as they bounded the fences—eventually going into the park not far from where the ship was waiting. On the edge of the park it merged with five other tubes, all becoming one tube about as wide as her forearm. It led through some trees into a pond before vanishing into the water.

Interesting,” the Agent said. “Any idea why it ends here?”

It goes into the water,” Corrina corrected.

Hurm… Well, I’m not seeing much here. Maybe Donald can run a scan on this area. Are you sure—”

He stopped as the clouds above them cleared, letting the sun shine down on them for a short time. Reflecting light danced off of a piece of metal on the ground, flashing into their eyes. Reaching down, he unearthed a chain leading into the water. Corrina watched as he dragged out a small cube, to which her tube was connected. He held the box, turning it over in his hands. It was about as big as his palm, fitting in his hand easily. There were several impressions on it that looked as though they were buttons.

That’s interesting,” he said. “That is very interesting.”

What is it?” Corrina asked.

A Quantum Capacitor,” he said. “It stores the charge of the Quantum Foam. Surprisingly simple to make, really just an annoying trinket. Although this one looks like something I’ve seen before. My bosses have dozens of these in storage. And it looks to be about full at the moment. This little piece of shit is the reason why we haven’t been able to find the accumulations. Whoever set this up knew enough to hide the Capacitor in water.”

Why water?”

Water is a universal barrier. The frequencies of the universes are scrambled by it. That particular aspect made it invisible to Donald’s sensors. But you found it. I’m impressed. Now all we have to do is shut it off and Donald can do the rest.”

He made a quick call to alert Donald before switching off the small device. He pressed the button and there was a quick flash of light and six children stood around them. The Agent put the device in his pocket as he looked at the children. They stood for a moment, stared ahead dazed and unsteady, passing out after a moment.

Give me hand, will you?” he asked.

Taking the children two at a time, they deposited them on a gazebo in the park. The Agent smiled as they began back to the Raider, the children groggily waking up behind them. A couple of minutes later they could hear the sounds of the children being discovered by a passerby. Looking at Corrina, he noticed a gray streak in her hair as they went—something he knew to watch. He did not tell her about though.

That’s one problem solved,” he said. “One more universe saved just in time. A group of future world leaders are now safe, and things gets to keep going a bit longer. You did well Corrina.”

Thanks,” she replied, warily. This sudden change in the Agent scared her a bit— he seemed almost jovial as they walked. “Is there something else we need to do?”

Just discuss what you saw back there.”

I guess so. What do you think?”

I don’t know yet. Your… ‘tube’ is something I’ve never heard of before. We need to look into that. Unless I’ve missed my guess, you were seeing a fate line. No one’s sure what they are. All we know is they help people get where they need to be when the universe needs them. I don’t know much about them, that’s getting into the higher functions of existence and I’m no expert on that. We’ll get in touch with a real authorities on this type of thing later—maybe this has something to do with your strange extraction—but for now we’ll just file the official documentation on it and such.”

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