Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hilario plays his hand, pt. 2 of 3

My penultimate entry.

December 18

5:49 PM

Shade’s hand drifted over the ARCTIC Device. “Catchy name.”

Hilario undid the bag containing the Black Swan and pulled out the small green rock. “Yes, well, I would hate for there to be any confusion.”

A nearby metal plate read: “Antimatter Resonance Chronal Transmutation Iota-wave Contraption”. It looked impressive. It looked devious.

Shade paused. It was unusual for his personal concerns to trump his motivation for respect and power, but the events of the previous week gave him a new found respect for the universe’s natural order of time and dimensional stability.

“How do we know this won’t cause the same rift it did in my timeline?”

Hilario held the Black Swan up to a soft blue light near a make-shift engineering station. One of a handful of technicians in the facility pounded keys on a nearby computer.

Hilario responded without bothering to look at Marcus Shade, instead remaining focused on the Black Swan, “Your original employer didn’t have this wonderful bit of magic. He couldn’t control the reaction.”

CLANK CLANK CLANK. Shade descended the ARCTIC device’s platform.

Hilario handed the flebotnum ore to one of the engineers and turned to another workstation, eagerly making entries into a leather journal with a silver pen.

“You see,” Vandenbergh continued, “In your timeline, your employer had to settle for more pedestrian flebotbum. But the Black Swan is different; for every instance of refinement there is a one-billioneth chance that an ounce of flebotnum will emerge in a heightened state of purity. The Black Swan is such a piece of super-refined flebotnum.”

A dusty, ancient book sat atop a workstation. Shade opened it. Vandenbergh, who he had not seen move, slammed it shut. Hilario stared into Shade’s eyes.

“The purity of the Black Swan, plus the advanced schematics I had the good sense to send back with you from your original timeline, gives me, in this timeline, the control I need to rectify the mistake committed by your old employer.”

“That’s a good thing.”

Hilario laughed and returned to his logbook. Engineers were busy fitting the enhanced flebotnum into the ARCTIC machine. A generator whirred and hummed.

Hilario, “Tell me Shade, how did you come to possess the Black Swan?”

Shade stared off into space. “Well, I suppose it all started just a couple of days ago…”

FLASHBACK TO: Shade Industries

The DDF has stormed the facility. Two Shades, both injured, fight alongside Shade Industries henchmen. The firefight has ravaged the complex. The Shades are being pushed ever back; from the entrance to the main warehouse, from the warehouse to the control room, and now, as another Shade henchman falls to the ground, clutching a fresh bullet wound, the Shade of this timeline orders his men to fall back.

Lt. Comm. Ashby Taylor taps his radio, “Commander, the control room is secured. Charlie Squad is investing the elevator bank. Shade’s men are holed up in a few hot pockets of resistance.”

A buzz and a crackle. Taylor’s radio roared to life with the transmitted sound of sporadic gunfire, “Be there in a second.”

Taylor nodded to himself and looked around the control him. It had been damaged, but his DDF forces had thus far refrained from high explosives. Most stations remained operational. The close quarters fighting was taken its toll. Nearby, dragged from the entrance way where he had fallen, Agent Simmon was being tended to by Medic First Class Ibanez.

Commander Ruby Quirk and the four-man fire team that was Dog Squad (“God,” Ashby had thought to himself more than once as the squad’s members barked and woofed following a victory on the DDF basketball courts, “Do I ever hate that name.”) stormed into the control room.

Clackity-clackity-clack. A submachine gun was being fired, somewhere.

Quirk, the red-haired, ball-busting DDF commando and head of the tactical response team gave the control room a once over. Her machine pistol was slung back around her waist.


Taylor snapped to attention. “We’ve secured most of the flebotnum ore; the Antarctica device is located in one of the warehouse’s basement storage units; Shade’s goons are holed up in the elevator bank, though.”

Quirk looked through the windows of the control room and out at the warehouse below. Baker Squad had stopped firing and were moving in the open.

“And the Black Swan?”

Taylor bit his lip. “Haven’t found it yet; but it could be in with the rest of the flebotnum…”

“Unlikely,” barked Commander Quirk, “They’re sure to know about it by now and have protected it.” She keyed her intercom. “Charlie, we need those elevators… NOW!”

* * *

MEANWHILE, in the technologically advanced basement storage unit of Shade Industries, the Shade of the current timeline squeezed the Black Swan hidden in his pocket—

Hilario interrupted, “The unfortunate Mr. Shade of now had it already?”

Shade answered, “He stole it from Smith. He had just returned to the warehouse with it when the DDF attacked.”

—Shade did not yet know why this particular piece of flebotnum was so important, only that it was.

The future Shade patrolled up and down the corridor. They were two rooms removed from the elevator bank. It appeared to be a hopeless situation. He listened to his radio: The elevator bank had fallen. The idiots had neglected to demolish it and the DDF were able to reroute the power to get it going again. They were coming down.

An explosion. Close by. The DDF were in the basement.

“Let’s go!” yelled the Shade of times coming; it was a primitive yell, that of a man fighting for more than just his life.

DDF commandos advanced from the elevator bank and into the primary underground warehouse. The air was thick with ammunition. The two sides reached a seeming stalemate, fighting between metallic containers. The DDF were being judicious in their use of weaponry, Shade thought. Bullets? Shells? They have lasers—but lasers pierced metal with deadly efficiency, and they were most assuredly trying to secure the Antarctica device intact.

The Shade of the present saw a pair of DDF agents head into an adjacent hallway. They were flanking. He reloaded his pistol and dove from his cover to the nearest door, rolling across the floor and narrowly being spared a bullet to the torso.

Future Shade and the few remaining henchmen continued the bogged down fight in the main room. The Shade of our time waited in the hallway—the far door opened, surely this was them!—he fired twice, catching the DDF agent in the chest both times. He crumpled to the ground. A second trooper came through, this one a red-haired woman—Shade fired again, she stumbled back.

Shade slowly slid past the body of the first enemy and into the room. He looked at his prey. She was slumped up against the wall clutching a wound in her gut, breathing heavily. Her weapon had bounced across the room. Shade approached her, out in the open.

And then Shade was shot.

The bitch had a goddamn laser pistol! Shade cursed to himself. She hadn’t been clutching her gut, she’d been hiding the damn gun. The blast had grazed his thigh, he was bleeding. Had the flebotnum been hit?

Shots were being fired outside. His radio chirped to life, “Shade, Shade. This is hopeless. Bring the Swan—let’s go.”

Shade didn’t bother to look his adversary in the eyes; if he did, he would have seen them steeled over with icy determination. Traveling through dimensions for a livelihood might make one less fearful of death; more appreciative of the mysteries of the universe.

Shade fired three rounds and retreated.

* * *

Like a caterpillar into a butterfly, the earth’s atmosphere transformed the meteor into a meteorite—a cocoon made of unforgiving heat.

The meteorite lost mass; more and more…and more. But it would not be denied. It burst through the atmosphere; below, a placid and quiet earth awaited it’s extraterrestrial visitor.

And Jason Smith exited a coffee shop.



18-12-2008 18:06:03 UTC

Hilario is a funny name.


18-12-2008 18:14:40 UTC

Impressive.  However, this will be your last seed this week.

You already seeded twice before during this blognomic week.

For Dimensional Stability!!!


18-12-2008 18:20:30 UTC

Cayvie is usually on Eljefe’s side. Maybe Cayvie can add Part 3.


18-12-2008 18:21:08 UTC

Nope. I seeded on Sunday, Monday kicks off the new week, so I have one more remaining.


18-12-2008 18:23:03 UTC

Well, looking back, I posted on Sunday EST and Monday GMT. Rats. I propose you overlook that in the interest of good sportsmanship.

Regardless, I’m gonna’ finish this turkey.


18-12-2008 18:24:45 UTC

What? Turkey? Why does everyone associate turkey with Christmas instead of Thanksgiving?

Hmm. Maybe Eljefe is Canadian. That would explain it. Everyone on the Internet is Canadian.

Amnistar: he/him

18-12-2008 18:40:40 UTC

Eljefe, send me part 3 and I’ll be glad to seed it for you, in the interest of good sportsmanship.