Chapter 6: Jones
Light slowly filled my vision. It started as a dim orange, then slowly grew into a bright yellow, and finally a brilliant white. I opened my eyes, and allowed the to adjust. A sort of pleasant disorientation overwhelmed me as the room came into focus. I became aware that I was in a bed, a very high-quality one. The light was coming from a bay window to my left. The walls were a spotless white, and the floors were a glossy oak. After a few moments, I managed to raise myself from the bed. Still dazed, I was unsure of where I was, but I didn't particularly care. With a groggy amble, I stumbled towards the door and opened it.
And, upon being greeted with a cold, metallic, and pitch black hallway, I remembered exactly where I was. Katie's bizarre trunk world. We had all agreed that it was much too dangerous for us to check into a hotel, so we would use the sleeping quarters in the facility contained in Katie's trunk. The pleasant contentment that I had been basking in vanished, sucked into the black hole of a hall.
"Smith?" Nick asked, he was across the hall from me. I shut the door to my room and turned in the direction of his voice, it was still too dark to see. Slowly his figure came into view. "Natasha and Matthias have breakfast ready in Room 607." On cue, Natasha opened Door 607, which was in another hallway, and called us over.
"I thought I heard you two talking," she said, "Hurry up. We don't have time to waste today."
"Is it me or has she been more cheerful since the incident with the Schmidt guy?" I asked.
"She has, but I still have that nagging worry that she's going to snap and murder us all with a knife," Nick replied.
We were overwhelmed by the scent of pancakes, eggs, and still sizzling bacon upon entering Room 607. The floor was a dark wood, and the walls were made of brick. It was enormously long, with a large table stretching the entire length, and on the opposite end there was a crackling fireplace. I pulled up a seat next to Natasha, and Nick sat across from us.
"I didn't know you could cook," I said to Matthias, who was busying himself around the oven and counter tops preparing our breakfast.
"It's my second love, after conspiracies and intrigue," he replied as he brought us a platter of pancakes and shoveled generous portions on to our plates. "The eggs will be ready in a second."
"Actually, I don't believe we have the time," Natasha said, "We want to get down to the city sooner rather than later."
"You're right," Matthias said, looking at the rows of eggs he had cooking on a griddle. Without even hesitating, he scooped them all into trash. After a quick clean-up of the area, he plopped himself down in the seat next to Nick.
"What are we doing in the city?" Nick asked.
"Establishing diplomatic relations," Natasha replied, "They're about to be thrown headfirst into a conflict with Rousseau International. They would be very useful allies."
"So we're just going to waltz in, tell them we came from another world via 'car trunk', and ask to be friends?" I asked.
"Essentially yes," Matthias said, "That is the plan. They are a very peaceful people, so we shouldn't have to worry about violent conflict, should they reject our offer."
"Are they... y'know... human?" Nick asked.
"More or less, yeah. They look and act human anyway. They even speak English. Well, some of them."
"Actually, since we're kind of edging towards the issue anyway... where exactly is this place? Are we still on Earth?"
"Well, yes and no. I can't really adequately explain it. Don't worry, we'll have plenty of time for these questions when we get down there, and more knowledgeable sources as well," Matthias said, "Now, I already ate. I'll be waiting for you all outside of the facility. Hurry up, we can't afford for this to take all day. While we are all down here wasting time, Midas and Rousseau International are slowly but surely hunting us down."
We scarfed down our breakfast, which as far as I could tell, was delicious. I was eating too fast to really appreciate it. As soon as we were finished, Natasha lead us to the blue-lettered Door 636. Matthias was waiting outside, calmly leaning against the wall of the star-shaped facility.
"It occurs to me," Nick said, "That the exterior of this building is smaller than the interior. The center and the six branching hallways are alright, but... the exterior implies there is only the six hallways and the focal room. Nothing branching off from the hallways."
"You're correct. The building... it is like a stepping stone between our world and this one," Matthias answered, "As such, it's pretty bad at following the rules of both worlds."
"Hey Matthias," I cut in, looking at the long dirt path to the city, "We aren't going to walk, are we?"
"No, no," Matthias produced a flare gun from his holster and walked a few feet away from us, "When they see this they will send transportation, we just need to wait a few seconds." And with that he fired it into the air. A lazy trail of smoke and light followed the flare upward a few yards before it exploded into a brilliant shimmer.
"We aren't making first contact here," Natasha explained, "First contact was made a few months ago by two other Rousseau International agents. So there are some protocols already in place that we are going to have to follow. For instance, there are certain parts of the city that we aren't allowed in, we aren't we aren't around to transport anything in or out of the city. Pretty standard stuff, we should be fine." In the distance, I could see a gleaming, silvery speck speeding down the dirt road towards us.
"Oh, and, let me and Natasha do most of the talking, alright? Children are meant to be seen and not heard," Matthias said, cutting in front of me and Nick as the speck grew ever closer. Eventually, its features started to appear, and it became more than an indistinguishable dot. The chrome beast seemed to be a sort motorcycle, though it had a very curved, organic shape to it. Additionally, the wheels were made from a type of white rubber I have never seen before. Within seconds (it moved with impressive speed), it was right in front of us, gently rolling to a stop. The operator, who was wearing an all black uniform, cautiously dismounted and produced a silvery pistol from his shoulder holster.
"We mean you no harm," Matthias said, raising his hands into the air. The rest of us followed suit with the gesture.
"That remains to be seen, but for now you are under arrest," the man said, removing his helmet from his head. I was surprised to see a younger, black-haired man with piercing green eyes. He couldn't have been much older than me, but he spoke with an authority that was beyond his years. Matthias nervously glanced at Natasha, who replied with a cold, rational stare that said 'hold your ground'.
"May I ask why?" Matthias said.
"We were told that the next contact between worlds was going to take place six days ago. We were told that if contact did not occur, than the gateway between our worlds was compromised and we should not trust anyone who came through." Matthias swore quietly.
"Six days ago was when we were supposed to have Katie to Midas..." Matthias turned to face us, and kicked up a cloud of dirt in a quiet rage, "He's too good at this, always one step ahead. He counted on Katie being captured, he prepared for that possibility..." Matthias turned back to the black-clad man, "When were you told this?"
"During our first contact with your people," the man replied, Matthias swore again.
"Yep, figures, he was prepared to lose Katie from the beginning!" Matthias yelled in frustration.
"So what, he knew he was going to lose her?" I asked, "Then what was the point in trying?"
"He didn't expect to lose her, he was just prepared for the outcome. If we get arrest, no one is going to be able to drive Katie, which makes her a sitting duck. It will take a while for him to find her, but he will..." Matthias rubbed his eyes. "Alright so you're arresting us on the expectation that we are terrorists coming to fill your ears with lies?"
"You are under arrest for being a highly probably threat to our population," the man replied.
"Hey, so, sorry to interrupt but I have a question," Nick said, raising his hand, "If we are such a big threat, why were you the only one sent to deal with us?"
"I'm just a distraction so that the snipers can get a clear shot," the man replied.
"The what?" Matthias asked, less than a second later there was a quiet, zipping sound, and the red plume of a tranquilizer dart was suddenly protruding from his neck. The thud when he hit the ground was sickening. Natasha, in an incredibly rapid motion, drew a knife from seemingly nowhere, grabbed the man in black garb, and held the knife to his gullet. It was too late though, a sniper had managed to get a shot off on her, and another dart was embedded in her abdomen, piercing the thin fabric of her t-shirt (it hadn't hit her leather jacket). Before she even hit the ground, I felt a shooting pain in my neck. Darkness rapidly engulfed my vision, the last thing I saw before I faded to total black was Nick frowning slightly with an air of dull suprise.