“Stop me, Jen,” Perry pleaded once more. “If things don’t work out, if you have no other choice than to kill me, don’t hesitate. Once the Doc Omniverse of your timeline makes the tenth connection, my timeline may not exist. I don’t know how many times I may have tried this same tactic or if I am the only incarnation of Perry that ever learns from my mistakes. You must stop me.”
“I will, Perry. I promise.”
“Remember I know you as well as you know me. Only the truly unexpected can work. By now this Doc Omniverse has a contingency plan for everything he thought you might try. You need to get out of our heads and find unconventional help.” Perry took a gasping breath that wracked his broken body.
“Jen, there isn’t time.” He slumped into the stasis unit. “I love you and all is forgiven. Remember that. Remember the good times. Now go! Please, Jen, go!”
Armed with the few things Perry brought from his timeline, Willow activated omnilocators. “I love you too, baby brother.” She pulled the emergency story of home from her boot cuff and dove back into her apartment. You just got to love future tense, it always works to get you where you want to be–One step ahead of your foes.
Willow laid out the few items that Perry had provided. There was a list of where Doc had opened the ten portals, a few books that Doc thought might help, but since he thought of them Willow tossed them on the couch. She needed new material. Willow pocketed the omnilocators, mind reading rings, and the durite handcuffs. The earpiece, which she promptly put back in its place, thankfully still had power. “Testing…testing, Dave? You there?”
The comm crackled, “Willow! I thought we lost you!”
“Well, I’m back and I have a plan. It’s mostly formed anyway. I am going to need to pick your techy brain, Dave.”
“I’m all yours Willow. What do you want to know?” He sounded like a kid in a candy shop.
Willow sighed; she needed cool heads not mundanes with ideas of grandeur. “To make a long story short, while I was offline, I met a future version of Doc Omni who warned and pleaded with me to stop him at all costs.”
“What?” Dave gasped.
“Don’t interrupt, Dave, its bad manners. Here is what I know so far. With each universe Doc Omni connects it gets harder for me to make the jump. Without the omnilocators Perry gave me the jumps can be fatal. Basically, I need to do something unexpected. He, the future Doc, said that our current Doc had contingency plans for everything he thought I might try. ”
“So we need to try something you wouldn’t think of?”
“Exactly, and that is where you come in Dave. I need some off the cuff, out of the box ideas.” Willow sat down at the table and started tapping her fingers. Let this work.
“I have an idea, it’s complicated, but it just might work.”
“Spit it out already!”
“Since we can assume that Doc Omni knows all the stories in your library, we need a new story that neither of you have heard before. Take out that list of portal connections and tell me if there are places you don’t recognize.”
Willow slid the list over the tabletop. Only one place didn’t immediately conjure an image of a storyline or visual–Starborne Academy. “Dave, what do you know about Starborne Academy?”
“Um. I don’t. Is it on the list?”
Willow wanted bang her head on the table. “Of course, Dave. Get with the program.”
A new voice crackled across the comm, “In case you two haven’t figured it out I’m still monitoring your comm lines.”
“Who is this?” Willow demanded.
“Nick, remember I located and tapped your communication channel.”
Dave gave a whoop. “Oh, wow man. That is great, but next time, if there is a next time, let us know.”
“I don’t like surprises.” Willow said with more calm than she felt.
“Well, Willow, you might like this one. I happen to read the webserial Starborne Academy, and I have the First Year in paperback.”
“That is a happy circumstance, not a surprise, but I’ll take it. Listen up you two.” Willow continued, “Nick, I’m coming to you to get the book and I need you to show me in the book where the location of the portal should be. Dave, I want you to read over this Starborne Academy. Find me some allies.”
Nick interrupted, “The allies you need are Liz Grissom, Gem Schirra, and Peep who are collectively known at Triad 3-G. They are what we call metahuman, genetically altered, but basically human. Liz’s is a tracker. She has acute sensory abilities that can locate anomalies undetectable by natural human perception. Gem is a technopath. She can intuit any type of machinery or technology human made or otherwise. Peep is omni-lingual and smarter than Einstein.”
“All right, smarty-pants, transfer a copy of the story by data packet to Dave. I’ll be there shortly.”
Willow pulled out her copy of Legion of Nothing. Placing her hand on the same page as last time she glowed with power and dove into the book.
“Nice to see you again, Willow.” Nick said.
Willow gave him an annoyed look. “Yeah, moving on. Where is the book?”
“Right here.” Nick pushed a pile of nuts, bolts, and circuitry over to the left of his work bench and put the book down. “I am thinking the best spot to jump to, from your limited information is in this chapter. First Year: Sting Like A Bee.”
Dave’s voice came over the comm. “Willow, sorry to butt in, but I just started reading the story. You are definitely need to find this Gemini Schirra, well she goes by Gem. This girl can do anything with technology and the story is written about 800 years in the future, so the tech they have available is out of this world. In her timeline humans have mastered cold fusion, can create pin-point singularities, almost anything that you’ve ever read about in a science fiction novel. And this thirteen year old girl can make it all work for us.”
“So you two want to entrust the existence of our universe to a gaggle of thirteen year olds?” Willow couldn’t believe it. The plan was sure unexpected and definitely unconventional.
“I guess that’s right, Willow. But they have you too and you have me and Nick to back you up. We can do this. We have to.”
Dave sounded so confident. “We don’t really have a choice, do we?” Willow stated.
Nick clapped his hands, “No. So let’s get down to it. In this chapter the girls have just completed their weapons training, and a Starliner, basically a cruise ship in space, breaks down and the only Starbase around is the school. The Commandant, Jed Cannon, has offered assistance for the repairs. The cool bit is the Starliner is host to the millennial Comic Con!”
Willow huffed, “Why on Earth is that the cool bit?”
“Simple, you’ll fit in perfectly on the ship with your little purple boots.” Nick smiled like a Cheshire cat.
“That is genius! Woot!” Dave yelled. “Oh, yeah…I’m reading over that episode now…yes! That is perfect. What do you think, Nick, if Willow can get one of those black hole devices. Surely, even Doc Omniverse can’t escape the power of a quantum singularity on that level.”
“Dave that might just work.” Nick said, tapping away at his computer.
“Ok, you two lost me there. Are you saying that we are going to try to trap Doc Omni in a black hole? And those girls can help me do that?”
“That is exactly what we are saying, Willow.” Nick started typing again. “Dave I am sending you my calculations for Gem. You should have them any second.”
“Got them…Wow, Nick you really are a sharp cookie.”
“So you agree?”
“Absolutely, Willow this will work.” Dave said.
Nick printed out a complex set of equations and stapled them together. “Willow, you have to show this to Gem. She will totally know your story is valid when she read this.” He handed over the document.
Willow looked that the first page. It looked like some type of ancient Greek. “When I said I wanted something unexpected, this far exceeds what I had in mind.”
“And that is the whole point, Willow. Sometimes you have to trust. I know that is hard for you, but we are on your side.” Dave said softly.
“Ok, then. Let’s get this show on the road.”
Nick laid a hand on Willow’s arm. “Since there will be lots of costumed heroes you are going to fit right in. The girls are at the stern of the ship on the maintenance level. Once you get there ask for Cadet Gemini Schirra. Give her the papers and tell her your story. She will believe you.”
“What about the other girls?”
“You might have to convince them, but remember how I said, Liz is a tracker? Show her your omnilocator with her keen senses she will be able to see the time flux it creates. Once you get her and Gem onboard, Peep will go along with the plan. She trusts her team.”
Willow walked over the book, with one last glance and Nick, she jumped into the book. She appeared in the corner of the main ballroom of the Starliner Queen Elizabeth IV.
“Wow! How did you do that?” A man in blue tights and red cape looked Willow up and down. “Can you actually move through space time or is that a trade secret?”
Willow looked around the room, and as far as the eye could see were superheroes and aliens. “You could say that. It is a secret.”
The red caped man laughed, “We all have our secrets, Honey.”
“It’s Willow, not Honey.”
“Sorry.” He waved to a well-built man covered in green paint. “I’m off, good to meet you, Willow!” He lifted one arm in the air and jogged over to his green friend. I’m not in Kansas anymore.
Willow made her way through the throng of heroes to the hallway. She looked for a sign but there wasn’t one.
“You look lost, Ma’am.” A young man in a dark jumpsuit spoke to Willow.
“Do you work here?”
“No.” The young man said, “I go to Starborne Academy. We are here helping with repairs. My name is Cadet Mark Hatten. At your service, Ma’am.”
“Perfect. I am looking for a cadet, you might know her. Gem is her name.”
“Cadet Schirra, I do know her. Are you family or a friend?” The boy looked sideways at Willow’s outfit.
“Friends. I just wanted to say hello considering the serendipity of the occasion.”
Cadet Hatten held out his arm, “I know exactly where she is. If you allow me the pleasure I’ll show you the way, Ma’am.”
Mark took Willow to the stern of the ship and opened the portal to the engine room. He was just about to yell out a greeting when Willow grabbed his arm and put her hand over his mouth. “Shhhh, I want to surprise her.” Willow let the cadet go as quickly as she’d overpowered him.
“You’re fast.” Mark took a hard look at Willow. “Are you sure you aren’t really…”
“I just surprised you, Cadet. Now which way do I go?”
“Go left by the fusion generator, you can’t miss it.”
Willow must have looked puzzled.
“The tall blue dome. Then left.”
Willow gave Mark a jaunty salute, “Thank you for your assistance.” Without another thought for the cadet she headed into the belly of the Starliner.
Turning left she walked among the pipes and computer terminals until she could hear the sound of giggly chatter. It was now or never. Willow stepped up into another dome the inside looked like a geodesic dome. Each of the triangular elements came to a sharp point with the spikes all directed to a glowing orb at the center of the room.
“Ma’am, are you lost?” A blonde girl about five foot nine stopped Willow’s forward momentum.
Willow raised her left eyebrow. These children were going to save the known universe? Dear Lord, help us. “No. Actually I’m looking for a cadet. Goes by the name Gem.”
A girl with short black hair and piercing green eyes popped up out of the open maintenance hatch. “I’m Gem, do I know you?”
“No. You don’t know me. My name is Willow Wisp. I’m in big trouble and I heard that you and your team could help me. I have this tech schematic that explains what I need to do. Will you look at it?”
Gem hauled herself out of the hatch. “Is this some kind of Comic Con weirdness?”
Willow adjusted her purple mask, “No, I swear to you I’m on the level.”
“The level?” Gem looked skeptical, but motioned for Willow to hand her the papers.
After a few moments Gem was completely absorbed in the document. She would read a page, flip back to another then, back. She did this over and over. How she made head or tails out of the techy gobbledygook Willow had no idea. Finally she lifted her head and made eye contact.
Willow gave her a sharp nod.
“Okay then. Liz we need Peep.”
The blonde girl tapped a series of buttons that were part of the sleeve on her forearm. A voice emanated from the sleeve. “Shepard here what you need, Liz?”
“Are you done with the repairs on your end?”
“Yeah the diagnostic has to run.”
Liz looked at Gem and they seemed to come to an understanding. Were these kids telepaths?
“Well we need you down in the fusion generator. Something big has come up and we need all hands on deck.”
“On my way.”
“Lady,” Liz spoke to Willow. “I don’t know what is going on, but there is something off about you. It’s like you’re literally hazy around the edges.”
“I heard you have acute sensory abilities.” Willow held out her omnilocator, “What you are seeing is the proof to the math Gem is looking over. I’m not from this timeline. I have the ability to move through other realities. Before Doc Omniverse started connecting the realities I could go from place to place without this device, but now I need it or the jumps could kill me.”
A thin girl with blazing red hair bounded into the room. “I’m here. Where’s the party!”
Willow turned to the girl. “You must be Peep.”
“Did you escape from the loony bin upstairs, or what?” Peep laughed, “That, my dear, is a lot of purple.”
“Peep, this here is Willow, and mercy we have a big problem to solve.”
The girls all looked at Willow. They were pretty intense for teens. Gem spoke first, “Here’s the deal. There is this bad guy who is not only trying to connect all the known and unknown realities together; he is actually succeeding in pulling it off. And some guys named Nick and Dave have come up with a plan to stop the guy, but they need our help and bit of 28th century tech to get the job done.”
Peep threw her hands up and waved Gem off. “Oh…whoa, whoa, whoa! Haven’t you ever read Star Trek, you aren’t supposed to mess with timelines and give tech to other cultures!”
Liz held up one hand. “Peep you read way too much sci-fi. If we let this guy run amuck and he manages to connect enough of these realities, then our reality is screwed.”
“Why didn’t you say that in the first place?” Peep said.
Gem cut in, “Ok, Willow. We are all onboard with your plan. Now the three of us can help you with your tech but you have some decisions that will determine how we adjust your omnilocator and how big a singularity you will need to contain Doc Omniverse.”
She reached down into her tool bag and pulled out a square metal box. “This is a pin point singularity generator. We can use this one to create anything from one that only affects electrons, or we can amp it up to remove dangerous nebulas. This one has three basic settings.”
Willow smirked, “Small, Medium, and Large? Like French fries?”
“Essentially. Now that you have what you need it’s time to decide where you want to go. Do you want to go to the fourth portal location and try to head him off in the Super Powereds universe, the fifth portal at Cape High, or the sixth portal where the Emergence is happening?”