As they hurtled into the great blue sky, Frank kept his eyes on his visor's many camera angles. One screen contained the image of the Triplets store room, two more showed the insides of Nikolajs’s bed chambers, and others were located around the senator's estate. His concentration turned to the small device that he had placed in the storeroom before claiming the rift.
The device looked like a round disk made of painted black pottery, which was designed to fool the barbaric arseholes who called this place their home. While anyone would just see a piece of junk the device’s real purpose was to put a small area just a fraction out of this reality.
This external reality was impenetrable. Light, time, gravity, everything was artificial and aspects that Frank could control, a near perfect prison. The bartender was sure that nothing could escape such a bubble, but than he had been sure that whatever had been locked behind that door would stay there.
The owner of the Abstract discarded the cameras and mentally brought up an image composed of red threads. Forty beams of energy were connecting to a singular point and from that point they ran downward to form a sphere. That sphere now covered Urilus Marus house.
It always, always paid to be prepared for the eventual fuck up. Ever since the Istate statue he had been dropping the nodes everywhere. Inside statues, burying them in the ground, placing them on ships, at the bottom of the harbour, and under Nikolajs’s bed. All of those phase nodes were now directing their power at the senator's mansion, creating layers and expanding the field. Should half of them malfunction the sphere would shrink and tighten, hopefully squishing the invader.
Ahh, you're with me again. Frank said to you. I do not know who or what you are but I can feel you observing me. Are you the one coming through the door?
A huge globe of impenetrable darkness appeared to encompass what had been the senator's mansion. At first Frank thought his equipment had malfunctioned and he had put the area in a void, half a second of checking his instruments later and he came to conclusion that he was possibly not the cause of the black out.
Reaching the estate, Frank free fell and landed metres away from the dome.
“Arrrrrg,” Cyme groaned.
Frank’s attention drifted downwards to the two unconscious women that he had been carrying. He shook his head, it was so easy to forget how fragile his staff were. Back in his world it was common for toddlers to gleefully jump off of space stations, re-enter a planet's atmosphere fast enough that their body ignited, and then crash laughing into a shark infested ocean.
He let both the Amazon Spartan and the Viking woman drop to the ground. His sensors told him that Cyme had shit herself and Tila had vomited. He really needed to look back over his hiring policies.
Knowing that presentation was important when dealing with possible hostile, possibly god-like entities, Frank pointed his wrists at his two employees. Cones made out of red light shot out of his wrists and landed on the two women.
The beams were a combination of a hundred different worlds’ technologies. Nanotechnology, lasers, reality bursts, time manipulation, particle fabrication and dozens of other technologies that the people here would conceive as witchcraft. Though Frank would have scoffed at the notion.
In the worlds of fantasy, witches were at the lowest tire of the magic hierarchy. They were on the same level as hedge wizards. They were mostly self-educated and had low levels of magic. They were more idiot savants, who treated real magic as if it was precious.
To Frank, witches were like those old women who tried to make their own cosmetics using charcoal and weeds. They were nothing but hippy dumbasses who actually thought their organic medicines could compete against multibillion dollar industries.
Within moments, both Cyme and Tila were clean. Their wounds had been healed to the point that he had just doubled their lifespans. Tila was wearing a black pin stripped suit while her counterpart was given tactical armour much like Frank was wearing, only less advanced and given a camo paint job. When the process was done and Cyme's muscled arse was no longer covered in shit, Frank awoke both of them with a burst of painful electricity.
Cyme burst onto her feet. She attempted to remove the helmet that was smothering her but she didn't know to work the clasp. “What? What is this? What have you done to me wizard” she reminded Frank of a bobble head.
Tila was more composed. She groggily stood, looked at her surroundings, and then examined her own clothes. “Master, what am I wearing?”
It continuously astounded Frank how people thought. Tila had just flown through the air, there was a wall of darkness right in front of her, and her first question was about her attire.
He guessed that her question had some merit. Tila was wearing a cotton shirt that probably worth more than a hundred men's lives, a skirt and jacket made from a material that wouldn't exist in this world for another five thousand years, a pair of shoes that won't exist for another two million years, and black stocking that could hold up a jumbo jet. Add in the new hair style, the expensive make-up, and the earrings and Tila's confusion was understandable.
Especially as he made her more blonde, used a bra that made her breast look bigger, and her eyeliner made her eyes pop. She was perhaps the most beautiful woman in the country and all it had taken was some cheap products.
“We are about to meet an alien species that are possibly bent upon killing all life on this planet and the destruction of your civilization. I wanted you and Cyme to look your best.” Frank flicked his wrist and his suit's fabricator created a hand mirror which he then handed to Tila.
As Tila stared in fascination at the dazzling woman who stared back at her, Cyme was close to freaking out.
“Where are we? We flew. How can you fly? What is this place? What is that black thing?” the Orian spewed out in one long stream of frantic gibbering.
Once again, Frank had to remind himself of the fragile nature of people on this world. “We are at Urilus Marus’s estate. As you can see, before the door opened I displaced the area around the mansion so as to contain a possible threat to this universe. And to answer your previous question, yes, we flew. Now, try to act professional.” He turned to look and scan the darkness.
“Professional?!” Cyme exclaimed. The Orain got between Frank and the dome, “You are going to explain things before I force you to eat your own teeth.”
Frank thought about reminding his employee about the contract. “Can't we do this later?”
“No.” Cyme shouted.
“Fine, what do you want to know?”
Cyme was a little taken aback, not expecting to actually get some answers. “Tila said that my sisters betrayed me, that they tricked me into selling myself into your services. Why? What debt did we obtain?”
That was not a simple question to answer, “It might be better to show you how we met.”
He showed Cyme's time in the cage, naked and cold. She dropped to one knee as she was shown Frank pulling her out of the cage, seeing Tila murder that Enseen traitor in the bath, and then the bartender rescuing the other members of the Red Spears. He did not show her the times she stayed in the bath, scrubbing her skin until it was red and raw. It would have only upset her more.
Frank estimated that his employee now had a good idea why she chose to remove the memories.
While this was not a situation that she enjoyed it was infinitely better than being a chained up and used. Measuring her heart rate and vitals, Frank saw that the experience was not painless. Most likely the burst of video had brought up some flashes of her emotions.
“Forgive me for not accepting your kindness... Master.” The way she said it caused Frank to recall his more than painful surgeries. “But the others. Why did they think that the fish raining was a sign that you were angry with us? Why did Stafýli want me back inside the Abstract? Why did they want me to have sex with you?”
She definitely had a lot of questions. The one that was at the top of Frank's list was the huge bubble of death that they were standing just a few metres away from them.
“It was a side bet.” Frank rubbed the bridge of his nose and looked like a parent that was about to award his child with some unfortunate truth that will break their heart. “You do understand that you were...” he looked to Tila who chose this time to look at a cloud that could have been a rabbit or a dog throwing up.
“Were...” Cyme said edging the conversation.
Feeling horrible about it, the bartender decided to yank the band-aid off. “You were raped. The men who had you and your unit sexually assaulted you on a daily basis. You understand that right?”
Cyme sucked in a breath. She wanted to say that she would have killed any man who so much as thought about such a thing, but it was hard to dispute the evidence. “I know,” she whispered, “and I know that I can never repay your kindness. But I must know why my sisters ordered me back to the Abstract when there was no need.”
Frank held up a finger, “But you weren't the only one who was ordered back inside. Do you remember the other two women? Do you recognize one of them from the memory?”
Cyme thought about it and suddenly recalled, “The woman. The first one you gave the amnesia to.”
“Well, she was just the first one you saw take the drink.” Again, it was Frank who had to brace himself. He hated being the one to explain the worst news to people. It was all crying and awkward moments. Sometimes they even wanted to hug. “Do you know what the Oria custom is for children born from rape.”
Realisation struck Cyme like lightning as the puzzle was starting to come together. She saw Tila look away in shame. Frank could picture the barbarian woman closing her eyes and gritting her teeth. “Boys born from the seed of rapists are treated like the malformed and sick. The girls are spared but the boys are thrown to the Pit, a crevice that is little more than a glorified trash heap.” Cyme said.
Frank let out a frustrated sigh, “Long story short, you sold your unborn baby to me and I destroyed it. I asked you and the other women if you wanted something for them but you just wanted to forget.”
“And the reason I and the others were ordered back inside?”
“A side bet that Stafýli set up. You were emotional and she thought that you were clear headed that you would want your child back. Should you return to the Abstract I would have to give you my children. I thought that it was an easy bet that you wouldn't.”
The bet had been for a few lesser ser, an amount that Frank had no knowledge about but felt confident in. The women were eager get out and if he was being honest he felt flattered. If he did lose he would bang three women that were no longer his responsibilities.
It was more than a little bit creepy that they were prostituting their members who were recently and repeatedly sexually assaulted but from what he had seen the Red Spears had been a group of... bitches. Like high school cheerleader, feminist, axe wielding bitches.
“But.” Cyme’s eyes went wide, “You didn't.” She put her hands on her stomach. “Wait, did you?”
Frank gave a tired smile, “I don't know what they teach in Oria about where babies come from but we haven't had sex. Anyway, remember the contract? I can't touch you sexually unless you give me permission. Which you didn't.”
He could see that the information had unbalanced his staff member. While he had not made it a rule it was just common sense not to bring a relationship into the work place. Things tended to get messy and complicated.
“No,” Cyme cried. “You are not free of the bargain, yet. You have taken my son but a daughter might still be mine. Now, take off those pants.”
“Wait,” Frank said, stunned by the sudden turn of events, “You want to have sex with me? After everything I just told you? I just told you that I aborted your rape baby. Your friends tricked you into getting to sleep with me. I... You hate me.”
“I don't hate you,” Cyme admitted, “I find you an manipulative peacock. If it was not for your size I would see you as a weak puny being who needs magic and tricks to survive.”
“I'm glad that you think so highly of me.” Frank said dryly.
“You are wasting your time trying to understand this woman, master,” Tila said. “While we were in the city I learned more about Oria. While they are nothing but men haters they no different than horse breeders or the noble houses. They seek strong men to gain strong children.”
“As is our way.” Cyme said proudly.
Frank became confused, “But when they were back in the Abstract none of the woman so much as glanced at me.”
Tila kept her eyes on Cyme like mother hen eyeing a suspicious fox, “I talked to the crone Roumpíni. She guesses that the Red Spears feared your magic while inside your tavern. Once inside their city they thought that they held the advantage. Cyme sees sleeping with you as a chore, a sacrifice. She cares nothing for you and less if she gives birth to a boy.”
“You make it sound like he would not enjoy my body.” Cyme sneered at the Northerner, “Unlike you, I do not need potions to please a man.” She took a step towards her soon to be lover but Tila intercepted her.
The blonde Northerner was not amused, “You thrice fooled yourself Cyme. You broke the deal by having Frank tell you the nature of the bet. You have failed.”
Tila wasn't wrong. As much as Frank wouldn't have minded a quick booty call, the Orian women weren't exactly pretty. Movies and propaganda had made the Amazons seem like the most beautiful women in existence, but bad teeth, large scars, and hairy legs and armpits gave them a less then attractive appearance. Frank would need to consume some serious bleach before his standards dropped that low.
Cyme was taken aback. She looked from Tila to Frank, who nodded with a smirk. A cold rage filled her and she went to draw her weapon only to discover that it was gone. The dame armour had taken both her stolen hook and her broken sword.
“As much as I would like to see Cyme scream her lungs out,” Frank pointed at the dome filled with darkness. “I think that it would be a good idea if we fix this up first.” He approached the dome and gazed deeply into its endless blackness.
He needed to handle this situation with care and finesse. Whoever this party was they were powerful enough to keep a collapsing rift open and were crafty enough to establish a link with a primitive psychopath.
Now that they were in this reality, Frank's sensors were able to delve deeply into their make-up. He was picking up nearly ten thousand lifeforms from inside the prison, none of them human and all of them were moving at extraordinary speeds.
Inferred and radio waves were showing that the mansion was on fire. People, most likely the remains of Urilus Marus and his staff were laying on the ground, their bodies having ignited from the extreme heat and radiation that was being stored inside the bubble. A large heat source was shooting out of the Abstract's door. It appeared almost like a beam of some kind but Frank wasn't too sure.
The beam was originating from the other side of the door. It was showing a extreme amount of heat and radiation that was eerily similar to a solar flare. Back in the mine there had been no traces of solar radiation leaking through, just a mild telepathic field.
He decided that it was a good thing that he had put up the phase nodes. The amount of radiation and heat alone would turn the planet into a burning marshmallow.
His sensors picked up on a large force descending upon their position.
Suspecting that his day was going to get a lot more complicated, Frank turned around and used the zoom function on his helmet. “Crap,” he cursed as he saw nearly a thousand men assembling near the city, from their armour and weapons he judged them to be members of the local militia.
If it was found out that he was the cause of this ecological nightmare it was possible that a licensing board could revoke his prospector and sales licence. Worse, they may even fine him. Those stuffy bastards tended to look unfavourably on you when you killed all life on a planet. He needed to make this look as if this was just a common Thorn Event.
He looked at Cyme and a thought came to him, “How good an actor are you?”
Both Tila and Cyme pared a moment to glance at one another, neither of them liking where this was going. “Why,” Cyme asked.
Born in Australia I am a late bloomer when it came to books. I started writing when my grandfather died and it just sort of turned into a hobby.
I like science fiction, but not space opera. I like fantasy but I am picky when it comes to epic and urban types. I try to stay away from vampires, zombies and romance novels when I can.