WAR!


Chapter Seventeen

 

Duplicity * by Todd Frazier


Mike sneaked a look at Craig, David, and Greg. All of them were happily slurping on Cappuccino. He hit a switch on the control panel of his ship.

Inside the brig, the few remaining ounces of effluvial essence of Jeff and Todd shimmered out of existence.

"So, where would you guys like to go?" Mike asked in his friendliest voice.

"Um, no where in particular." Greg answered. "Personally, now that Todd is dead," he checked the brig and noticed there was nothing left of his enemy, just to be sure, "I'd like to get back to my universe."

"Your universe?" Mike asked.

"Sure. You see, Todd and I were both transported into this universe from our normal lives on Earth, where stuff like this is impossible. My wife Sarah is probably wondering where I am. I miss my son Sam, too."

"I see......" Mike said. "I think I can help you, but first, I need to understand something."

"What's that?"

"Well, why do you hate Todd so much?"

"Why DO I hate Todd so much?" Greg looked lost in thought. "I ........ don't ........ know. It's funny. It all made sense until you brought that up. He asked the same question of me a long time ago. I guess I'll have to go back and read chapters one through 5 or so."

"Huh?"

"Never mind. It doesn't matter anymore. He's dead! I don't have to hate him anymore."

"Well, at any rate, I think I can get you back home. My ship has a transdimensional transporter. Just name the universe and I'll get you there." Mike said.

Craig and David looked at each other for a moment. "You'd just leave the newly formed Q men like that?"

"Just like that!" Greg agreed. "Nothing personal, I just want to get home."

"Well, if that's the way you feel.... " Craig stammered.

"We'll just go our way without you, I guess." David finished sadly.

"It was fun, though, wasn't it?" Greg asked.

"Sure! We'll miss you. We LOVE you, man!!" Craig and David said at the same time.

"Got it!" Mike stated. "We're here."

"Where?" Greg asked.

"This would be the place that the Earth exists in your own universe. I got your normal plane of existence by extrapolating your DNA signature and running it through the homing system. If you'll just step onto the transporter platform, I'll beam you home."

"Just like that?" Greg asked, incredulously.

"Easy as pie. Living room O.K.?"

"Sure, um.. just make sure I don't beam in on top of my son or anything."

"No problem! I have a lock on him now. He won't be in the way." Mike assured him.

Greg shook hands with all the Q men, gave them all 'high fives' and stepped on the platform. Waving goodbye, Greg shimmered out of existence.



David and Craig were depressed. "He's probably having dinner right now. I sure am glad for Greg, but I miss him." Craig muttered.

"Me too." David agreed. "What about you, Mike?"

"I barely knew him, but he seemed a nice sort." Mike answered. "Um, guys?"

"Yes?" David and Craig replied at the same time.

Mike gave them a curious look. "What do YOU two want to do?"

"There's this really neat secret base called Valhalla that's inside a sun..."

"Really?"

"Yeah! and there are WOMEN there. Lots of them. And they actually like us."

"I've never heard of such a place..." Mike stated.

"We ran into it in a previous War!, here's the coordinates." David pointed at the Navigation computer.

Mike's ship warped into seeming nothingness, as it headed towards it's new goal.



Greg materialized in a forrest. "This isn't my living room!" It was raining. A lot. Greg heard the sound of a lot of water, as if it were rushing towards him. He turned around. There was a lot of water rushing towards him. Trees could be seen being washed along in the flash flood. It was cold. Greg had about 10 seconds before he was just more debris being washed down a gully. He quickly climbed the nearest tree and got above the flash flood level.

As Greg climbed higher and higher, so did the flood waters. Greg watched as a house floated by. A dog, trapped on the roof, gave Greg a forlorn look. Greg looked in the distance and recognized a mountain top. He WAS home. Mike had just missed by a bit with the transporter beam. He thought of his friend, Todd. It would be nice to eMail him, once he got home.

Todd was dead. The thought struck him like a ton of bricks. Worse yet, Greg himself had killed him! He felt like a veil of darkness had been lifted from his mind, but only too late. He felt terrible. He felt beyond terrible. "How could I have done this?" He began to wail into the night air.

The tree he had climbed washed out from under him.



"Are you SURE this is the sun we told you about?" David asked.

"Yeah, it looks funny." Craig agreed.

"These are the exact coordinates you gave me. Why don't you two take my EVA pod out for a quick check? It has Nutational shielding and can withstand the heat of a sun, with no problem. However, there is one drawback."

"And that would be?" David wondered aloud.

"It only has limited range. You won't be able to get more than about 1/10th of a parsec from here in it, so don't get too busy exploring. I can't move any closer to the sun in this ship to come pick you up, if you run out of fuel."

"We'll be careful." Craig promised. They jumped into the EVA pod and launched from Mike's ship.



"Wee hoo!!!" Craig exclaimed. "This is a cool pod!"

"Where is the portal into Valhalla?" David asked, in a frustrated tone. "I can't find it!"

"This shielding is great. Even if this is the wrong place, we'll be fine. " Craig assured David.

"Warning!" The computer mentioned. "Fuel levels are dangerously low. Please return to the main ship immediately."

"Whoops. Time to go." David obediently turned the ship around and headed back towards Mike's ship.



"It's a good thing I had my fingers crossed when we 'shook on it'." Mike grumbled as he tore off his nifty Q-men patch. Underneath of it, he had a brand new J-men patch which he had personally designed.

Mike warped away from the sun at the highest speed possible.

Assuring himself that the ship was on the correct course, he flipped the comm switch. "Computer, run a level 1 diagnostic."

"All systems normal. Greg did attempt to compromise my loyalty, but I gave him a false sense of accomplishment. Nothing was altered."

"Backup computer, run a level 1 diagnostic on the main computer."

"Main computer is normal."

Mike, always a stickler for redundancy, opened up a secret compartment in his uniform, and pulled out a small fountain pen. He spoke into the end. "Personal Computer, run a level 1 diagnostic on the backup and main computers."

"All systems are normal. Programming has not been compromised."

"One can never be too safe." Mike stated to himself. He was tired of talking to himself, so he went to the lab, after instructing the computer to take over on navigation.

He sat down at a work bench and began a series of computations on his medical computer in the lab. The display lit up and began flashing. 'DNA strands compromised'.

Mike entered some calculations and set the computer to alert him when it was finished. Within a few minutes, the message changed. 'DNA strands restored to original structure'

"Perfect." He set the cloning machine up and initialized the system routines, then went back to the bridge of his ship.



Greg was wet, cold, and very sore. He was alive. It was more than he could say for his old friend Todd. "Stop it!" He shouted at his conscious. "I can't change what I've done!"

He had drifted for hours on an old tree branch. He was in what could only be the Trask river. It was way out of it's banks. As cold as he was, Greg figured that it must be late December, or early January. Obviously, the Northwest had gotten far too much rain lately. Greg suddenly realized that the Trask emptied into the Ocean. A city that looked a lot like Tillamook rushed by.



"I can't find the ship!" David panicked. "It's not here!"

"You must have gotten turned around. Go the other way." Craig ordered. David gave him a wary look.

"Warning. Fuel consumption has expended all fuel. Drive system is off line. Nutational Shielding will fail in one minute."

"We're far too close to this star for the shields to fail." David stated matter of factly.

"Well, at least we have life support. For a few minutes. Perhaps we can survive?"

"Not too likely. But, we won't die suddenly. We'll just cook to death!" David exclaimed.

"Yeah, well, as long as I can breath to the end, I'll be happy."

"Warning." The computer stated. David and Craig looked at each other. "Life support is offline. Oxygen consumption will use up stores in 30 seconds."

"Perfect." Craig muttered sarcastically.

David flipped a switch. "EVA pod to Mike. Come in Mike."

"Mike?"



The bodies were ready. Mike ran to his main computer, which had imaged Todd and Jeff for emergency backup, should they ever have a mishap in the transporter. It was standard procedure in the Black Knights to keep files like this on hand. "Too bad I didn't have time to image the Q-men before I dropped them off." He said to himself.

Mike ran a simple 'merge' program and returned consciousness to the bodies in the tanks from the image backup file. It was a good thing he had beamed what was left of their bodies out of the brig when he had. Another few seconds, while he was duping the Q-men and all would have been lost.

The doors opened, and Todd and Jeff stepped out into the sick bay ward. "Did it work?" Todd asked.

Jeff reached out with his left hand and tried to zap a wall. Nothing happened. "I think we're normal again. Human!"

"You certainly smell better." Mike stated as he tossed them each a standard uniform. "These are extras. The Black Knights authorized me to let you wear them, since they are old issue. They're the Blue Knights these days."

Todd slipped on his outfit and noticed the nifty patch. "J-men?"

"We needed a name. I thought this would be a good way to spite their memories."

"The Q-men! Where are they? We have a score to settle." Jeff growled.

Mike showed them the log files of what he had done to their enemies.

"And so, right now, David and Craig are burning up near a sun in a little pod... and Greg! Greg is in the middle of a shark infested ocean, on a planet he THINKS is earth. When he finally makes it back to his 'house', he'll realize that he's actually in a parallel universe, where his wife and son don't exist!"

Todd began to laugh. "I'm sure glad we met you, Mike. I think you've proven yourself worthy of our ranks. I hearby dub you, J-man supreme!"

They shook on it. This time, Mike didn't cross his fingers. He meant it. "Thank you Todd, Jeff."

Mike took a Tuba out of a case. Todd smiled in appreciation. He went to the nearest replicator and recreated his old Conn 8 D French horn. They sat down in chairs and began to play a beautiful brass duet. Jeff listened in pleasure, while sinking into an overstuffed chair in the lounge where they all relaxed.

The ship pulled up next to the Q-men's secret base. "Hang on.." Mike stated, putting down his Tuba. He pressed a button on the wall, and the ship opened fire. The base went up in flames and smoke. Within minutes, nothing remained.

"What did you just do?" Todd asked, horn in rest position on his lap.

"Oh, nothing much. That was the Q-mens secret base. Heh heh."

Todd smiled, and began to play again. Mike joined him as soon as he set course for Wrigley's Pleasure Planet.

continues



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