Okay, apparently when Fossor decided to get someone out of the way for awhile, he didn’t go in for half-measures. Fuck. I’d really pissed him off this time. Now I was stuck somewhere far away from Earth. And worse than that, I had also been hurtled several years into the future. Years. He’d gone all out to send me pretty much as far away from him and his plans as physically possible. Which, in some ways, was almost flattering. It made me realize how angry he was, how much I’d actually gotten to him that he was willing to go to those extreme lengths.
But this was bad. Really bad. Years–how many years? How long had I been gone exactly? How far ahead had I been thrown, and how far away? Where was I and when was I? And in the time that had passed, how much shit had Fossor gotten up to? What had happened on Earth in the time that I was gone? What had happened to my friends and family? Had Fossor… had he carried through on his threat? Was everyone I knew now the undead slave of that monster?
Those thoughts and more, a rush of panicked terror, blew through my mind in those few brief seconds while I was coming to terms with what Rahanvael had said. I was in the future. Everything I’d been trying to stop had already happened. Or been stopped without me, hopefully. But… but years. Years had passed and I was nowhere near Earth. I had been gone.
For a brief moment, I considered using the Seosten possession recall ability. Now that I wasn’t trapped in Fossor’s place, the default recall should link me to my dad. I could recall there and… no. No, anything could’ve happened back there. If Fossor had gotten his spell off and me recalling back to my dad triggered it for me… yeah, it would all be over. And I didn’t trust my own skill not to accidentally send my whole self there even if I tried just connecting mentally.
Or maybe I was simply terrified of what I would see if I peeked. If I used the mental recall, connected to my dad, and found out the whole… that everyone was dead, I wouldn’t be able to control my reaction. I would probably fully recall without trying. Then I’d either be Fossor’s dead puppet slave like the rest of them, or surrounded by all the people I loved who already were.
Worse, my dad could be dead entirely. What if trying to recall linked me to someone like my Grandpa Arthur? What–would I even recover from that? Even knowing I wanted to go back to stop it, how would I get past knowing my father was dead?
Anything could’ve happened back there. Everyone I knew, everyone I loved, could be a dead and risen necromantic slave for that evil, despotic piece of shit. What if… what if they were…
“Felicity.” The pretty, yet eternally sad face of Rahanvael floated in front of me, hovering over my head as I lay there on my back. “Stop. You’re panicking too much. Breathe. Close your eyes.”
“Close my eyes?!” I stared at her, blurting, “How the fuck can you tell me to close my eyes when–” Then I stopped myself as she held up a hand. She was right. I had to calm down for a second. I was already in the future. It wasn’t like I could get any further in the future.
Wait. No, yeah, I got further in the future with every passing second, sure. That was the whole thing of how linear time worked. But still, the point was that the damage had been done. A few more moments wasn’t going to make any difference at all. I had to stop and collect myself.
So, I closed my eyes. Folding my hands against my stomach to ward off its violent, uncomfortable rolling, I took a long, deep breath. It was shuddery, and I could feel the terror, confusion, and anger in myself as I let out the breath. I did it again, then a third time. Breathing. I had to breathe. Panicked, horrified, desperate as I was, I had to make myself think straight.
After another moment of that, I stopped breathing so heavily and just laid there, eyes closed. Okay. I had it. I was together. Oh, I was still freaking out, of course. No way would that disappear so easily. But I had something of a fence put up around that panic, and had basically designated one corner of my mind to focus on that while the rest dealt with the situation at hand.
And speaking of the situation at hand, my eyes opened. I stared up at the white, spotless ceiling over my head before pushing myself up to a seated position. Right. Now I could breathe and focus, so I had to deal with the situation that I was actually in. I had to take this whole thing one step at a time. And the first step of that was to figure out where I was, exactly. Also when I was, but that could come after I established my physical location. And just how much trouble I was in.
To that end, I slowly looked around the room once more, taking in details. As with the first time, everything was gleaming silver and white, immaculately clean. The room was about twenty feet across and forty feet long, with three control panels along the narrow end opposite me, a sealed metal hatch of some kind behind me on the opposite narrow end, and a handful of viewing ports or windows (or just video screens, possibly) showing a selection of stars.
The problem was, thanks to my time at the Aelaestiam base that had become the Fusion School, I knew that seeing stars didn’t necessarily mean anything. Again, those could be holographic screens showing a view of stars that were several trillion miles away. Or further.
“Do you know where we are?” I asked quickly, glancing toward the ghost figure hovering in the corner before I moved to look at the nearest console. On the way, I glanced at the stars. Yeah, I wasn’t an astronomer or anything, but I was pretty sure none of those stars were anything like what I would see from anywhere near Earth. “Any of those look familiar to you?” A second later, I blurted, “Wait, are we near your planet?!” Yeah, that thought had suddenly struck me. Of course it made sense that Fossor might hurl me toward his own planet. Where else did he have more control of the situation? On the other hand, if he did send me to his own world, why had I ended up here, in this place, all by myself? That was… wrong. Something was wrong about all this. Beyond the obvious point that I had been teleported years into the future and far away from home. Why was no one here? Wherever I was, there should’ve been somebody ready to meet me, right? Fossor would’ve had all that time to get ready for my arrival and either be here himself or have someone else waiting. Was the fact that he wasn’t a sign that he’d lost? Did I dare hold out that kind of hope? The idea that Fossor had been beaten while I was gone flared up in me and I just… wasn’t sure what to think of it. It would be an unbelievable relief in almost every way to believe that Fossor had actually been beaten and that I didn’t have to do anything.
But on the other hand… I didn’t believe it. I didn’t know why he wasn’t here, or why there wasn’t at least one of his people here waiting in this exact spot for me after he’d had years to prepare, but I was almost positive it wasn’t because he was gone. I honestly didn’t believe I was that lucky.
Wait, time travel. How did that work? Was–was it possible that I would go back into the past, help everyone beat him back then, and that was why he wasn’t here to find me now? That was possible, right? That could be how this whole time travel thing worked, if it was–ergh. Headache. My head hurt. Time travel was annoying. On top of all the other horrific atrocities he’d committed, Fossor had to make me think about the mechanics of time travel? Bastard.
Rahanvael’s voice interrupted my thoughts. “No,” she answered firmly, no trace of uncertainty in the words. “We are nowhere near my homeworld. The stars are different. I don’t recognize them. I know we’re very far from Earth, but how far, or where… I’m not certain. I’m sorry.”
“So, we’re somewhere else,” I muttered under my breath, before focusing on my item sense.
Or rather… trying to focus on my item sense. Nothing happened when I did. I couldn’t even sense the stuff I was wearing, and I was pretty damn sure I wasn’t naked. A quick glance down confirmed that. Yup, definitely not naked. I had all my clothes and everything. I even had my staff. It was lying a few feet away on the floor, with Jaq and Gus sitting on top of it, watching me. I couldn’t sense them either.
One by one, I tried several other powers. Portals, infrared vision, nausea liquid generation, and more. None of them worked. Nothing worked at all.
“There’s a magical field within the room,” Rahanvael informed me when I blurted that out. “It’s possible that the field is blocking your powers somehow. I am still here because I’ve bound myself to you. Try to force me to move.”
I focused on that for a few seconds before exhaling when nothing happened. “Right, so I’m trapped here in this room. Can you get out? I mean, on your own.”
She tested that, putting a hand against the nearby wall before shaking her head. “The magical field seems to be keeping me here as well.”
“Right.” My eyes rolled. “This is definitely feeling like a Fossor thing. He knew you were with me, and he’d want to keep you here. But if so, where is he?”
“Do you really want him to have been here waiting for you?” my ghost companion pointed out.
“Fair,” I muttered before punching my own palm. “Okay, if Fossor set up this trap or whatever but something’s stopping him from being here, let’s see if we can get out before he gets back.”
With that, I focused on the nearby consoles. The holographic controls meant nothing to me. There were what looked like words on some of them, but they were in some alien language. “Do you understand any of this?” I asked, gesturing that way a bit helplessly.
Rahanvael floated over, squinting at the controls for a moment before answering. “No, it’s not a language I understand. Wait, look.” She pointed to one of the other nearby control panels.
“What?” Moving that way, I looked down. What was she–wait. Felicity. One of the holographic levers had the word ‘Felicity’ right above it. That… couldn’t be a coincidence, right? Every other bit of language around here was made out of completely alien symbols that didn’t look anything like the English/Latin alphabet. The odds of that ending up with an exact copy of my name was just… astronomical. If I ever got back home, maybe I’d ask Vanessa what the exact odds were.
When. When I got back home, damn it. Because whatever it took, I was going to get back home. I was going to get back to my family. Whether that would be in the now time or after managing to get sent back to the past… err… present, damn it, past-present was up in the air.
“Okay, it says Felicity,” I murmured aloud, squinting at it. “But do I trust that? I mean, obviously it’s supposed to tell me to pull the lever. But why would I do that? It could be Fossor or one of his people. Maybe I pull this lever and some kind of inescapable forcefield pops up or something. Or it summons a bunch of ghosts or zombies or something. Can you imagine how much he’d laugh if he actually managed to trick me into pushing the button that ends up trapping me again after all that? Seriously, that’s something he’d do, just for shits and giggles.”
“You’re right,” Rahanvael agreed in a quiet murmur before looking over to me pointedly. “He would. But on the other hand, you are already trapped here. We are years in the future, on some far side of the universe, trapped in a room that is shielded by magic to stop you from using your powers to get out of it.” She offered me a shrug then. “Besides, remember, your friends were all right there when you were sent away. They’ve had years to figure out where and when you were going to end up. It could be them somehow extending help.”
Considering that briefly, I grimaced. “Yeah, I guess you’ve got a point. I’m stuck here already. But… damn it. But if I pull this thing and I’m wrong…” I trailed off, trying not to dwell too much on just how bad it could be.
If I had my powers, I could just leave. The hatch wouldn’t have stopped me. Not for long anyway. I could’ve just gone through and taken my chances with seeing what was in the rest of the station. But no, I had to deal with it this way because some asshole put up a magical field blocking those powers. Which I didn’t even know was possible, so fuck.
Either way, I had to pull this lever. There was no other choice. Yes, it could be a trick from Fossor, but at that point, what did I have to lose? Besides everything that I had to lose.
“Fuck it,” I finally blurted, reaching out to grab the lever. It was made of solid-light, warm under my grip as I yanked the thing down while holding my breath. I really wished I had my powers right then so I could’ve pulled the lever through a portal from the other side of the room.
The lever went down, and… there was no visible trap. Fossor didn’t pop up to laugh at me or anything. Better still, a very low hum that I hadn’t even consciously noticed abruptly stopped.
“It’s gone,” Rahanvael quickly informed me. “The power-negation field. It’s not here anymore.”
Instantly, I tested that by using my item-sense. She was right, I could feel everything around me again. I could feel my staff, my cyberform mice, my clothes, the hatch, the electronics in the consoles in front of me, everything.
I could also sense that there was no one beyond the hatch. Well, no one my power could detect anyway. They could be shielded, or just be a creature who didn’t wear clothes or armor. Still, it was somewhat encouraging. Actually, just having my powers back was encouraging.
“Let’s get out of here,” I announced, heading for the hatch. My hand reached out for it, then I stopped. Wait. Just because my item sense couldn’t pick out anything didn’t mean everything was hunky dory. Time to be smart about this. Especially since I still didn’t know anything about where I was or who else might be here.
To that end, I touched the hatch and focused on one of the powers I’d picked up recently, from that car chase in Vegas. It was the power to designate an object, then see and hear through that object. In this case, I designated the door as my object and focused on seeing through it.
Okay, now I was looking at myself. But by essentially mentally pushing my vision around (it felt like turning my eyes in a circle, which was weird) I was able to shift the view to see through the other side of the hatch. There was a short corridor leading away from the hatch. It was only about ten feet long before it reached another door. To the left from my hatch, there was also a small alcove area where an enormous figure with gray fur and a warthog-like face was lying on his side. A huge axe lay nearby where he had dropped it. Belatedly, I realized there was also a smaller Rakshasa figure next to him, also lying motionless.
“What the hell?” Shaking my head, I figured the only thing there was to do was go out there. Luckily, a stray neuron fired in my brain at the last second as I was about to do that, and I suddenly stopped myself. “Wait. Two guys—at least two guys out there are down with no visible wounds. This room is sealed. What’re the odds there’s…” As I was saying that, I focused on creating one of my small portals with one hand while still seeing through the hatch to make the other end of the portal out there. Quickly turning off the object-vision power, I turned to look at the portal and sniffed.
Yeah. Poison. There was poison coming through the portal from the other room into this one. Thanks to one of the guards on the ship back when I’d been trapped in Seosten space (possibly the first time, depending on where I actually was right now), I could smell the poison. Good thing the same power that allowed me to smell the poison gave me a brief immunity to it in order to do so without being affected by it.
Quickly shutting off the portal before too much of the gas or whatever could come through, I backed away from the spot where I could still smell it. “Okay, that poison smells really bad. And if it was able to put that big guy out there down, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t last very long with it. I can hold my breath for ten minutes or so, but the second I open that hatch, if I don’t have a plan to get rid of the poison, that’s–wait.” Pausing, I looked to Rahanvael. “You can go out there, huh?”
The ghost girl smiled just a little, giving a short nod. “Would you like me to?” She’d obviously been waiting patiently for me to work my way through all that. When I gestured for her to go ahead, she passed right through the hatch. With a thought, I made myself see through it again, watching as Rahanvael looked at the downed figures before floating right down the short hall to pass through the second hatch there.
She was gone for a few minutes, but I could still sense her. Things seemed to be fine, so I just waited until she came back. Floating through the hatch, the girl looked to me. “There is another console in a room on the control deck of this small station that is also labeled with your name across several buttons. And there are more bodies, all apparently killed by the same gas.”
I considered that. “Another console? Right, gonna guess that’ll either totally secure this trap, or vent the poison. Only one way to find out. Let’s go do this.”
Yeah, there was poison out there. But that was okay, because thanks to one of the other guards on the same ship, I could hold my breath for a full ten minutes. Which would be plenty long enough to get to that lever.
So, I stooped to grab my staff before moving back to the hatch. Jaq and Gus jumped to my shoulder together, and I reached up with one hand to pat both of them. “Let’s go spring this trap and/or rescue, guys.”
The hatch was locked, but that didn’t last long. The second I pulled at the manual release, it resisted for just a second. Then my pass through locked doors power kicked on, and the hatch slid open. Just as it did, I took a deep breath and held it. The poison gas was already seeping in, as I moved through the hatch, glancing toward the two bodies nearby. But I didn’t slow down, heading quickly down the corridor.
Rahanvael led me through the short maze of corridors on this station, around a corner, up a narrow flight of stairs, and straight to the control deck she had mentioned. There were more dead bodies there. Bodies I tried to ignore for the moment while hurriedly stepping over to the console my ghost companion was pointing to.
There it was. My name was on the console. It was Flick this time, rather than Felicity. But it was also scrambled. The console was covered in buttons, with F over a button in the top right, an L in the bottom left, an I near the middle, C just under the F, and a K in the upper left. Obviously, I was supposed to hit the buttons in the order of my name.
So, I did just that. Quickly, my fingers hit the buttons in that order. Once I did, the holographic controls vanished before being replaced by the image of a floating hand. After a second, I realized it was the exact size and shape of my own hand. So, I touched it.
The moment I did that, the very instant my own hand touched the hologram hand, a new sound filled the room. It was the sound of rushing air. The poison was being vented out of the room, out of the entire station or whatever this thing was. A few seconds later, it stopped, and all was silent.
Well, silent for as long as it took me to exhale and take in a new, fresh breath now that the poison was gone. As soon as I did that, a voice suddenly piped up. “Hello, Felicity.”
Jerking that way, I found myself staring at a hologram. A hologram of a familiar face.
“I imagine you have a few questions as to how we brought you here. Hopefully, this recording will help answer enough of them,” the hologram of Elisabet informed me.
A/N: The chapter setting up Elisabet being involved in this was Interlude 2B – Elisabet for Year 2, which can be found right here. And the chapter from several years ago that introduced future Flick in the first place is Interlude 15 for Year One, which can be found here.