CHAPTER 2 - The Looking Glass (2)
“Really, Fenrir? ‘Oz’? Could you show your age a bit more?”
Alex replied, indignancy apparent in his voice. “Fuck you, that’s a classic! Technicolor, fam!”
“Focus, Fenrir. You’re either dreaming, or I was right.” ALICE sounded stern, like a mother scolding her child.
With a sigh, Alex nodded. He reinserted the ‘chalk’ to the chamber on the side of ALICE and looked around. The dragon passed by overhead and flew off into the distance. The plains continued nearly as far as the eye could see.
If normal eyes were used, that was.
Alex lifted ALICE and dropped to a prone position in the grass. He raised the rifle and placed his cheek against the stock. As he peered through the scope, he couldn’t help but smile that crooked grin as he enacted his most comfortable position. “Just like always, huh? ‘Through the looking glass.’”
“Shut up, idiot. Focus on your surroundings. Rule #1.”
“P7. Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance, Private. Talking like I didn’t write the GEARS handbook after joining.”
Alex peered through the scope and slowly scrolled through his surroundings. He may have borked the spell, but he couldn’t do the same with the results. It wasn’t the first time he was in an unfamiliar setting, and, if the odds stuck, it wouldn’t be the last.
The scenery flickered past like someone reading a novel at ludicrous speed. Where an intellectual would see words, Alex saw potential combat scenarios. The gently waving grass hid possible claymores and other traps. The distant mountains were riddled with ravines, landslides, ambushes.
Then the smoke was spotted.
“Fenrir, you see it, yes?”
“Given the barely seen peak of the plume and its size, it’s 40 klicks out. A day’s journey at walking speed.”
“So, you intend to walk, soldier?”
“Come on, you know me better than that.”
“What’s the bet?” ALICE’s voice raised half an octave in excitement.
“New realm. No idea when we can return home. Supplies are low. Quarter can.”
“Full can of polish, you stingy bastard.”
Alex thought for a moment, then smirked as he lowered the rifle, his eye leaving the scope. “Half can, three hours. Take it or leave it, you greedy little…” He left the sentence hanging as he stood.
“…” ALICE was silent for a moment. It could have been a few seconds. It could have been hours. Then her tinny voice emitted from her housing. “You renege, and I’ll run Boston on you.”
“Oh, sweetheart, I wouldn’t have it any other way!” Alex took the first step, then the second, and a third. Each was faster and longer than the previous until he achieved a full-blown sprint towards the smoke.
His muscles rippled, scarred and toned as they were, a perfect contrast of physique tearing across the open fields as if they were an asphalt track back at the base. Scenery whizzed past for what seemed like an eternity until the lactic acid built in his modified muscles, and he finally began to feel the fatigue of his efforts.
It was then that the rooftops of a medieval-style city came into view. He was so close to his destination that he could see the people and roads surrounding the destination’s main gates.
It was also at this time he noticed the old-fashioned wagon to his right and the people with swords and armor surrounding it.
Shortly after, he spied the assailants they were trying in vain to fend off.