Dystopia Chapter 55

From the Story Arc: Dystopia

Previous Story in the Arc: Dystopia Chapter 54 by Krasnaya Zarya (Wednesday, November 29, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Dystopia: Epilogue by Krasnaya Zarya (Monday, December 04, 2006)

(posted Saturday, December 02, 2006)

Aleksander stared up the hallway frustrated by the restriction of his senses to what would be considered normal human perceptions. He wanted to flee his body and take a quick trot down the base to see who was coming, but he couldn't afford to leave this group even for a moment; apparently, the Rabinoviches had troubles getting along with other people regardless of what dimension they were from. Instead, he listened carefully, judging the number and distance by the footsteps that rang down the hall.

They were loud, which meant that they wanted to be heard. Intimidation?

"You. Murdock." Aleksander pointed at the man in the fatigues with the terrible American accent. Not that his own English was very good – he grimaced mentally. "You look like military man... Good with gun, I am hoping. Care to make sure nothing comes through that hallway standing up?"

John Murdock gave him an odd, investigatory look before nodding. "A'ight." He smoothly came down to one knee and raised the sights of the deadly looking weapon to his eye. "An' just what am I keepin' an eye out for, Sofia? Rikti? Freaks? Nemesis?"

"Nothing so esoteric," the other Sofia replied, glancing up from her husband. "Just the Soviet Army. Well... In this world they're no longer called that – not since they took over most the planet – but it's the same. They've got force fields, laser guns, EMP weapons and telepaths." She shifted to her knees, and after casting a wary glance behind her, shifted a little to face the doorway. Aleksander, whose first impulse was to chase her – and the other Sofia, as a package deal – to the back of the room, had to remind himself that this woman could, and would, light on fire most of anything that threatened them.

"Lov'ly," Murdock grumbled. "Malta with a bigger budget. All we need is some giant robots..."

"They will not fit through doors." Aleksander grinned. "GSF just has regular robots."

"Great, just great." The woman, Victoria Victrix, calmly unholstered her firearm, double-checking the safety and ammo. "And I bet magic doesn't work here either."

"Frankly, I didn't think to try," the other Sofia replied drolly.

"It doesn't," Victrix replied, waving a hand through the air and making a complicated gesture with her fingers. "Luckily, I always come prepared; that's why I had Chug bring along the heavy artillery." She patted the massive humanoid – who smiled happily – on the shoulder. "We could always just collapse the hallway." Sofia – both the Sofias – grimaced with distaste.

"Nyet. Ah… no." Aleksander shook his head, pulling the detonator out of his coat pocket. "We already have lab wired to explode. I no want it to explode before we leave. No explosives. No EMP weapons, also, if you have them. Unlike your Alex, I am mostly machine."

Both Murdock and Victrix turned querying glances onto Alex's wife, who waves at them with a ‘I’ll explain later’ sort of motion, though Murdock quickly turned back to his watch - definitely military, Aleksander thought to himself. Victrix grumbled. "Just keeps getting better. No heavy firepower, well I hope your incoming friends are willing to hold back, too."

Aleksander felt the surge in electricity and whipped his head past the group towards its source. Much to his merit, Murdock was already spinning around to aim the rifle.

"I think something can be arranged," the familiar voice of Viy rang through the air. The glow of the teleport was still fading from the agent and the small army he brought with him. A half-dozen soldiers all had their various weapons trained on them behind the green-blue glow of the forcefield around them. Viy smiled grimly, speaking with perfect Oxfordian English, much better than Aleksander’s, with only a moderate accent to give him away: "It appears that I have arrived just in time to see you off."

"See us off?" Sofia – Aleksander's Sofia – asked, looking as confused as Aleksander felt. "You are simply going to let us go?"

"Perhaps." Viy glanced at the firearms trained on him – the pistol, rifle and launcher, not to mention Aleksander’s threateningly raised hand, and alternate Sofia’s focused gaze which, in Aleksander’s experience, implied readiness to burn something – and frowned. "That truly depends on you. Would you please lower your weapons so we can talk like civilized people, and not savage Americans?"

The other Sofia snickered and nodded to her companions. Victrix gave her a hard, mistrustful glare, querying whether she was absolutely certain and, in the same opportunity, questioning her sanity, still holding to her pistol. Sofia frowned, and pointedly looked down again; a clear command. Victrix managed another, darker glare as she lowered her pistol, quite unused, it appeared, to have Sofia be the one in charge. Murdock did it without complaint; there was still an air of tense anticipation, like that of a coiled spring, that gave the impression that Murdock had never stopped aiming at his enemy.

Immediately after, Viy's troops lowered their arms.

Everything was very civil. Viy smiled amiably – although his expression still seemed a bit sour – and the newly arrived guests, though casting somewhat confused gazes onto the assembly, managed to hold back their significant firepower. The agent looked around curiously, taking in the rather… interesting congregation. The soldiers behind him shifted their eyes restlessly between the two sets of duplicates; it spoke well for their discipline that that was the only emotion detectable.

Viy was looking, too. “What’s wrong with my escaped scientist?” his eyebrows rose sarcastically as Sofia’s mouth tightened at the turn of phrase he chose, and her arm tightened around Alexander’s shoulders. Victrix blinked. Murdock showed nothing.

“Radiation sickness,” Sofia responded curtly. “He would have died after a few more days in your prodigious care.”

Something – Aleksander was never good at reading people’s emotions, and certainly his abilities had not improved after ten years of incorporeal and isolated existence, but he rather thought it was a sort of grudging compassion – flickered in Viy’s eyes. That was not as incongruent as one might think; nuclear warfare and its consequences were the bane of this world, Viy, as a military commander, would have lost men to it. Even a bastard such as himself was bound to have some pity, or fear, to the phenomenon. “All the more reason to be thankful,” he glanced down at Sofia with one of his frighteningly pleasant smiles, “that I am letting you leave.”

"What is…?” frustrated, Aleksander abandoned his efforts for a moment. “Agh, what’s the English for ловушка, Sofia? Yes… What is the catch?" he asked, crossing his arms.

"Catch? Why would there have to be a catch?" Viy's gaze swept across the group before he nodded. "Very well. There is, indeed, a catch. I want the portal anchor - intact - and I want to never, ever, see any of you again." He observed the look on their faces and continued: "There has been nothing but trouble since the two of them,” he motioned to the duo on the floor, “arrived, and I think there will be nothing but trouble so long as people from your dimension come here. And what I have learned about the Rikti invasion of your world tells me that there are worse things than you out there in the multiverse."

The other Sofia grimaced, nodding. "So, you just want your universe to be left alone?"

"Exactly." Viy raised a hand and gestured to Sofia's companions. "While you have come here and broken the laws of my country, I do not want to start an interdimensional war. I think that, perhaps, it is time to let bygones be bygones."

"What, no revenge?" Victrix asked. "No fancy monologues? No elaborate stand-offs? Just drop it all here and now? How boring…"

"No revenge." He whispered something to his troops, who immediately stood at attention. He then walked past them, to the edge of the bubble created by his mobile force field generator. "I was doing my job by trying to rein in a threat to my world, and I am doing my job now, by seeing the permanent removal of this threat. Not everything has to be done with violence."

"And why would you trust us not to come back?" Aleksander was taken totally by surprise by this, Viy's sudden change of heart. Though, perhaps, it made absolute sense: Viy was now faced with a lose-lose situation. He already saw the damage that a mere couple Rabinoviches could do, and here he was faced with the prospect of fighting many more people with strange powers. He was trying to cut his losses and run.

"That is why I want the portal anchor." Viy gestured to the giant device, which had quieted down since the arrival of Sofia's friends. "I want to make sure that anybody coming to this world has to go through me and mine. I underestimated you, and I have learned from my mistakes. I will be a… guardian... of a fashion, to this universe."

"I can understand that." Victrix nodded. "I am a Knight-Guardian of my universe, sworn to keep out any and all threats from other dimensions."

"Ah, a comrade-in-arms," Viy smiled as Victrix rolled her eyes, then paused and cocked his head to one-side, raising a hand to the small transceiver at his ear. "And as a gesture of goodwill..." He lowered his hand to the controls at his belt and pressed a button; a large box teleported in beside Viy, the large red cross on one side of it plainly visible. He kicked it across the room to Sofia, who eyed it wearily. "My base is fully stocked on drugs; and we certainly are equipped to deal with… this particular problem. It took me no time to get the things you need for your husband."

Aleksander watched as both Sofias and Victrix went through the box of goods, examining them carefully before nodding to each other. The three of them quickly began administering them to his fallen alternate, muttering such incomprehensible things as ‘hold the IV bag up and just stand there…’ and ‘don’t overdose on the immune system stuff, you don’t want it to go haywire…’.

"I seem to have misjudged you," Aleksander began, when everything seemed to be going well, and Alex had not succumbed to poison, or displayed tendencies to attempt to round them all up and do Viy’s work for him. "You may be an evil, heartless bastard, but at least you lose gracefully." He pulled the detonator out of his coat pocket once more and flipped a switch. "There. The bombs are disabled." He stepped forward and put the threatening cube slowly on the table, keeping his hands in plain sight. The soldiers seemed a little twitchy, all of a sudden, and though they were no real threat Aleksander had no wish to receive another parting present in the form of a hole in his midsection.

Viy smirked and gave him a mock bow before taking a few steps backwards to once again be in the midst of his troops. "I trust you not to renege on our terms... You have one hour before I come back here to claim the anchor."

A bright purple-blue light surrounded Viy and his men, and then they vanished from sight.

Aleksander merely shook his head and walked over to where his alternate lay, quietly recovering. "If we can trust Viy, this means it is all over."

"I think we can," both Sofias said simultaneously. The visitor Sofia continued: "I haven't seen much of this Viy before, but that definitely seemed genuine. Besides, at this point I will do almost anything to get away with no more violence. Unlike you men, I have never been a fan.”

"You know my motto," Victrix chimed in, "I trust no one. But he definitely seems a more reasonable fellow than most of the people we're up against. When we get back home, I'll look into the spells they used to seal off the Rikti homeworld; perhaps we can isolate this dimension, too. Give this Viy-person what he wants."

“And stop Viy from come… uh, coming after us.” He always did hate progressive tense.

"Whatever it is y'all want," Murdock was still glancing up the hallway – just in case - "y'know I'm up for it. I jus' want ev'ryone safe 'n' sound."

"Safe... Sounds like..." They all turned to the downed Alex, who seemed to finally be recovering consciousness. "Good idea." He looked at them a little drowsily, and blinked at the assembly of women staring down at him.

"Sasha..." Alex's wife leaned down and kissed him on the forehead. "You're back."

"Of course," he grinned weakly. "Can't die and explode ‘n a laboratory. 's sacrilege." He grabbed Sofia's hand and gave it a small squeeze.

"Welcome back, Alec." Murdock returned the broad grin. "Gave us all a scare, pal."

"I see Ivan Ilyich got the portal working..." He glanced over the new arrivals, eyes stopping on Chug. "Why didn' somebody tell me we had a rocket launcher? And please tell me he didn’ eat any of the ‘lectronics…"

"First thing he notices..." Sofia mumbled, rolling her eyes.

"What!" Alex grumbled. "I think I'd just like to go home now, really..."

“What, now that you’ve had your fill of causing all four of us trouble…” Sofia, as always , was notoriously lacking in the expected womanly pity, and has been eyeing Alexander with a sort of look that promised third degree burns. For that matter… Aleksander turned, to see his own Sofia giving him the same gouging stare, surely contemplating how one could hurt a robot. If her eyes flicking to Sofia’s now-bare neck were any indication, Aleksander anticipated years and years of good behavior lying ahead of him.

Right on cue, the portal anchor started up once more, a small light show playing across the Tesla coils. Within moments a miniscule hole in space appeared, then exploded into a giant tear in the universe. A man encased entirely in metal armor peered through the portal from the other side.

"Let's move, people," Victrix ordered, already heading toward the gaping maw, the huge beast called Chug following immediately after. “If you want, we can help with Alex there.”

“No, I think we’ll manage fine between the four of us,” murmured his Sofia somewhat sarcastically. Aleksander picked up his alternate and followed after, flanked by both Sofias.

John Murdock was the last to leave, satisfied that nothing would follow them.