Captain Wills raised both his arms as Peter walked in his office. “Don’t get things started, I am still your Captain and I think it is a good idea you learning new methods, seeing what other police forces do and all that. besides it came from Headquarters”
Peter shrugged. “You could at least ask me if I wanted to go.” “What good would that have done? I still be arguing with you, so I decided for you to go. Your suspension is lifted.That was the fasted multiple shooting investigation ever, but who’s complaining?”
Wills longed for one of his cigars, but regulations no longer allowed anyone smoking in public buildings, with a sour face he put the cigar back in the drawer and added. “That’s what bosses do, you know. They give orders.”
“Alright, alright I go, not that I really ever wanted to go to New York.”
“You are a liar.You wanted to go there back in 2001, September 11!”
“Not really. East coast or not this is still America, Yankees or not.” Wills got up and walked around his desk. “I even have a special treat for you.”
With these words he handed Peter a blue ticket folder with the word Amtrak on it.
”Since you have a few days before you supposed to be in New York, I booked you a room aboard the Texas Eagle Amtrak Train.”
“I am not flying?”
“I thought the train be nice. You see the country,relax a bit and best of all you won’t set up any federal incidents by trying boarding a plane with your usual hardware.”
“I might as well drive myself then, still faster than the damn train and I can take everything I want.”
Wills nodded. “That’s exactly why you do not take your gunship. Having you and that crazy rotary gun of yours in New York, would not be a good idea, not a good idea at all.”
“It seems you planned this whole thing into great detail.” “Actually I had only a few hours, but when the Feds called I had to plan the thing carefully.”
Wills put his hand on Peter’s shoulder. “You are a legend Peter, a real credit to the force. My best man, but I know you Peter. I am your superior for a long time and you aren’t exactly subtle in your methods. I think it’s a great idea having you learn some new stuff and get new insights, but I had to make sure New York still stands when you leave or you not being in Jail or something. So behave as best as you can, make Texas and the Rangers proud and don’t start another Civil War. North and South are supposed to get along now.”
Peter sighed. “Some of those carpetbaggers from that East Coast deserve a good whopping even today.”
Wills smiled, sighed and nodded. “I know, Peter.” Then the Captain’s face became more serious. “There are other reasons you must go to New York. I can’t tell you much because I am sworn to secrecy, but you know by the authority granted by the government, Rangers protect Texas against threats extremely evil, regardless of their origin.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Peter said, surprised by his Captain’s words.
“It means that the challenges to law enforcement keep changing. One hundred years ago it was enough to ride a horse, shoot good and know right from wrong. Nowadays you can rob a bank as easily with a computer as with a gun if you know how. I mean times keep changing and we must change with them or crime will win. So get your ass to New York, it will do you good.”
Peter left the Ranger HQ and drove to his favorite diner where he had left Wolf and Cloud while he was at the office. Some biscuits and gravy and some coffee that would just hit the spot anyway and he went in.
Wulf was sitting in the same booth he had left him nursing a cup of coffee.
Peter slid into the booth across his friend and looked around. “Where’s Cloud?”
Wolf pointed to the bathrooms. “He wanted to see what they do in there.”
Peter’s favorite waitress, Susan came over and she flashed her huge teeth by parting her bright red painted lips in a big smile. ”It must be my lucky day, Peter!”
She filled him a mug with coffee and said.“The usual?”
“Yeah, the usual.”
She leaned forward to make sure the men on the table got a good look down her blouse and she put her hand on Peter’s biceps. “Who’s your handsome friend Ranger?”
“That’s Wolf Starr, he’s from New York.”
“Howdy, Wolf.” She chirped with a happy tone and Wolf smiled back and said.“Whatever the Usual is, I have that too!”
As soon as she left, Peter asked with concern in his voice.. “Isn’t he a little long in there?” Nodding toward the bathroom doors.
Just then a hefty trucker wearing a denim vest and his wallet on a chain went almost running through the swinging doors, with an expression of pure fright on his face, holding his ripped pants with both hands and swaggering out into the parking lot.
“We better get him out of there. Who knows what he is doing and this is Texas, guys don’t like to be watched doing their business.” Peter said as he got up and headed for the bathroom.
Cloud was standing there holding a roll of toilet paper before his eyes, like someone who just found a huge diamond. “Oh, hello Peter. The complexity of human behavior is most impressive.”
“I am sure it is, but this is not the right place to conduct your research, my tall friend. Let’s eat some biscuits and gravy.”
“I shall follow your lead.”
“You can leave the TP here. I got a roll in the truck.”
Cloud followed Peter outside and folded himself to the booth and sat next to Wolf.
Wolf leaned forward.“What did you do to that poor man who left the bathroom?”
Cloud was thinking for a moment. “Poor? The human was without means? I merely asked him to demonstrate what is done with these white paper document rolls and he first wanted to refuse, but I persuaded him to show me.
Apparently those paper rolls are not used for writing at all but for an entire different purpose. When I wanted him to demonstrate what the stick like object with bristles at one end is used for, he left rather hastily, before I could persuade him again.”
Peter was choking on his coffee as he heard and coughed. “Maybe it is better you ask one of us first.”
Wolf held up both of his hands. “Oh no, Peter. He is a nice guy and I think we will be friends, but I don’t want him to persuade me how to use toilet paper or something even worse.”
Peter sighed. “Cloud, just take it easy. Humans are not used to huge guys like you, looking at the world with Sesame Street eyes. When Elmo does it, its cute. When a 7 foot giant, with more strength than a tractor does it, it could be frightening.”
“I do not know who this Elmo is and I was not aware I did something harmful or inappropriate.”
Peter had no idea how the big guy did it, but he managed to say this in a way, making Peter feel bad. “No worries Cloud. It’s all good just take it slow and in a few years all be normal to you as well.”
The food came and the waitress cooed at Cloud. “Oh my, this table is getting better all the time.”
Cloud examined the table closely. “I do perceive any changes to this table. It has the exact same mass and physical characteristics as before.”
Her smile faded a little. “New Yorkers! Ah, must be a joke.” She served and left.
Wolf leaned forward.“So we really go to New York with you?” “Well, as soon as I figure out how to get you proper ID’s.”
“No problem, my nanite factory produced two ID’s identical to yours, but with our data on it and I uploaded all the necessary links into the computer systems of your world. I’ve been undercover on many worlds and know how to obtain such documents. It was quite easy.”
“I pretend I did not hear that. Faking ID’s is a crime you know, even if it is a grey area with you guys.” Then he said.“Do they hold water? ”
“You are a law man, check them out!” Wolf said and pushed a perfectly normal looking Texas Drivers license across the Formica surface of the table.
It had the proper picture and Peter used his Cell phone to call it in and the girl at dispatch came back a few moments. “Wolf Starr, Texas Resident, Born in New York, FFL Class 10, no prior records, and no warrants. ”
He thanked her and closed his phone. “You check out indeed and even got a Federal Firearms license class 10. That’s a heck of a thing to do, sitting at a diner table table and in five minutes.”
“It took me over an hour, and I worked on them last night. I made Cloud a Resident of New Mexico, just as the paper he had from that Chief Seven Feathers.”
“Well then let’s get tickets then. We’re taking the train as per my captain’s orders.”
Dr. Smith greeted Kate and wished her a good morning. The FBI agent had spent the night in a guest room of the AXIOM HQ and now was waiting in his office.
She no longer wore her skirt suit, but the black coverall uniform with the blue earth globe logo on the right chest and the US flag on the right sleeve. Her face expressed open wonder, a little anger, a little sarcastic smile and even a little fear and all at the same time. “I still don’t know what this exactly is, where I exactly am and who the hell you are. Most of all I wonder if I am conscripted, drafted, kidnapped or just a guest.”
“Care for a Bagel?” He said, sitting down and opening the brown bag.
“No, I like some answers. I was basically force stripped, my personal belongings taken along with my duty weapon and not allowed to leave.”
“You can leave, but would you like to hear what I have to offer?”
“I just told you I want answers, if it includes offers I am all ears.”
“You are really detached to AXIOM and it is up to you if you decide to stay and become an AXIOM operative. The pay is slightly better , the pension benefits are pretty much the same and you remain a Federal Agent, what changes is that you cannot tell anyone who you work for and what you actually do.”
He took a bagel, but did not bite in it. “As I told you before, aliens, the kind that comes from other places than Earth are very real and pose a very real potential threat to this nation and more so to the entire planet and its sentient inhabitants.
We are devoted and dedicated to make sure Alien activities are investigated, monitored and evaluated. If necessary we will capture, contain or eliminate alien forces deemed harmful or hostile.”
She got up, took the poppy seed bagel from the small selection he had brought in today and said.
“I understand all this. The entire subject of aliens and UFO’s was until yesterday about as far from my mind as can be. I don’t really read Science Fiction, I don’t like Star Wars or any of the other shows, but I am open minded enough to accept the facts. Your outfit here seems to have serious funding, is a government entity and that means someone takes all this very serious and the dangers you talk about are real.”
“Right now I have a team in Texas. ” He said and activated a screen behind him. On it images of the moon surface appeared the first images were distant and the pictures could have been from the National Geographic Magazine or the JPL web site, but as the slide show progressed and the images had a greater magnification a bizarre scene appeared.
A collection of motorcycles and what looked like a white hatchback car, with open hood. A number of bodies, some frozen to their bikes, some badly mangled.
She cleared her throat. “That isn’t Texas. Looks like the moon to me. Is that some sick Photoshop montage or something?”
“These Bikers and the Vehicles were in Texas a few days ago. Our Image analysts have identified the license plates and linked them to a Biker group called the Death Warriors out of New Mexico. Some unidentified force was active and somehow teleported them all to the Moon.”
She became pale and sat down. “Do you guys have Transporters and Energy weapons? ”
“AXIOM has the most advanced weaponry and we do have technology no one else on Earth has yet developed, but we have nothing like that.”
“I am in. Sign me up.” She said with a determined face.
“What made you decide?”
“I joined the FBI to make our nation safer. To do my little part in the fight against capital crime, crime committed by other humans. If there are unknown real outer world Aliens killing and abducting Humans then this is a far greater evil and must be stopped.”
He grinned.“I somehow had a feeling you think that way and that is the main reason I decided to show you.”
The door to Dr. Smith office hissed open and two men came in with mine detector like things. He growled.
“You better have a very good reason for storming in like that and without being announced.”
One of the men said. “Sir, Security picked up two very strong ultra burst signals that originated from AXIOM HQ. Signals none of our equipment emit. ”
He was somewhat less angry but still barked. “What are Ultra Burst Signals?”
“Developed originally by the British as early as the 1970ties, radio messages packed into a compressed signal. There are very sophisticated bugs that use Ultra burst technology. Sending signal messages of less than 100th of a second long.”
“Thank you for the lecture, Emil. You say there is a bug, a surveillance device down here?”
The other man swiped his device and pointed at the Bagel bag. “It comes from there.”
Smith lost all color in his face as the two men peeled back the glued bottom of the brown bag and revealed a tiny and very flat electronic device.
The one Smith identified as Emil held it up with a pair of tweezers and whistled. “That’s a beauty, Sir. The most advanced bug I have ever seen.”
Smith wiped his face with a napkin.“Is it alien? Are we compromised?”
“Don’t know what it is exactly, but looks Terran to me. As for what capabilities it has Sir, I can’t tell by looking at it. We take it to Dr. Isah and he’ll let you know. I am certain however the signals we picked up are way too weak to penetrate 200 meters of dirt, steel, rock and concrete.”
Smith wanted to relax a little, but then it was as if an ice cold hand of pure ice cramped around his very heart and sent showers of fear and anger down his spine. There was something sticking out from between the folded up pages of the Magazines he bought today. With a slight tremor in his hand he opened the fold as he knew what he would find from the black stem he had spotted. His worst fears proved to be true.
There, between the pages of the magazines, was a pressed Black rose!
Sunku-Taku greeted Nalka. “It is good to see you and the true form of a Feron. ”
Nalka bowed. “It is good to see you, despite the revolting disguise you must wear. The Inners have authorized me to convey the gratefulness they feel for your services.”
Sunku had been altered to look human and the changes were extensive.
Nalka was not sure it could be completely reversed. It didn’t matter however, neither Sunku nor the other Feron stationed here on Earth would ever see Feron Prime again, of course they did not know that.
Nalka’s orders to eliminate the Feron spies once they were no longer needed were so secret, that only he knew about them.
There was an element of Nalka’s consciousness that found this arrangement unfair and highly immoral.
Sunku and his men served the Hegemony with unerring devotion and endured the long exile on this cursed human world. It was a very little part however. He understood the reasons for that order perfectly well and he was a Feron down to his core.
His spaceship hidden in a perfectly concealed hangar carved out of the rock that made up the mighty Himalaya mountain range, he followed the altered human looking Feron to the actual secret base, with the old cloister above it.
“Are you ready to deploy Experiment Nine?”
“Indeed we are. The Larvae are already hidden in our temple’s basement in New York. All that is needed is the impulse for the breeding machine to activate and start the hatching cycle.”
“You already moved the larvae?”
“This is a primitive world with many odd customs, my old friend. There was no danger to get it ready! The general population of this world still believes they are the only sentient life in the Universe.”
Nalka could not suppress an undignified laugh that expressed more of the disgust and contempt he felt for these Humans as it amused him how primitive they were. “How did you manage to get it there?”
“That was even easier. We shipped the larvae to New York. That is a big human metropolitan center. That city is in a nation state called United States and they are more afraid to offend someone’s religious fate, than they are afraid of possible terroristic acts. All we had to say was, we are peaceful monks, horribly mistreated by the nation state of China, and they accepted us with open arms. Our religious regalia was not searched or touched.”
“I trust your judgment of local conditions; after all you spend a long time among them. It just sounds so stupid; it makes me wonder if these naked monkeys are even worth to be researched.”
“Oh, not all of them are stupid. But the great masses are totally ignorant and believe whatever their leaders say. ”
Nalka thought that this wasn’t so different to the Feron. They too believed whatever the Inners said to be the truth.
“The Inners agreed and you are to begin with the operation.”
“Once we start Experiment Nine, there is no turning back. There is no off switch.”
“That is understood and you need not to worry. You all will be evacuated and great rewards are prepared for you. After all if Experiment Nine is a success we have a weapon that will make our enemies take notice.”
“Captain Nalka, it is one thing to let loose these bio engineered monstrosities against the primitive humans, but what good will they be against the Saran or the Ult?”
“Because you do not know the entire plan, my dear Sunku. Experiment Nine is not just hard to kill and very aggressive. It is intelligent. A self replicating army, feeding on the biological matter they find and taking the enemy’s equipment.”
Sunku did no longer question the decision, but he knew the Terran legend of Pandora and he wondered what safeguards were in place to keep Experiment Nine from turning on its creator.
Nalka handed him the Activation key. “Go to this New York and activate the Breeder.”
Wolf was excited as a little boy as they stood on the platform. “I can’t believe we ride a real train! I saw one once in a museum. Oh, I can’t wait!”
Peter was not so enthused about fifty plus hours on a train and questioned the wisdom of his Captain once again. “We have planes, trucks and cars, and he wants me to take the train. I can’t help but wonder if he had an ulterior motive.”
Of course he somehow understood Wills reasoning from him taking his truck, but he was not stupid, and knew having a Suburban fitted with a rotary cannon, was everything but legal in most of the United States, and on the very verge of legality here in Texas. Peter smiled at these thoughts, because he knew he would have been tempted.
He looked around and sighed. “Where is he now?”
Wolf, who was looking at everything like someone visiting a natural history museum, checking out a candy vending machine turned and said. “He wants to get his fortune read again!”
Peter blinked. “He wants what?”
Wolf held up a small paper card. “There is a machine in the main hall that tells you your weight, very inaccurately I might say, but on the back it has something called a Horoscope and a prediction.”
He smiled proudly, mine reads:” Love: Do not be taken by appearances. Try to get better acquainted before pass judgment. Health: Avoid any brisk and violent exercises and my lucky numbers too!”
Peter rolled his eyes. “Those cards are preprinted. Of all persons I ever met, I thought you be not superstitious. ”
“I am not. I thought this machine uses some advanced divining logarithm, like the Saresii Faith whisperers.”
“Wolf, where have you seen any Saresii or whatever whisperers lately? This is Stone Age Earth to you remember?”
Wolf pocketed the card. “You’re right of course. All this is just so exciting for me.”
Peter felt a little worried. “You know how our big friend is. He takes things very literal and while I am sure he is one smart cookie, he’s got the innocence of a five year old. ”
Wolf got a little worried too. “You’re right; we better keep an eye on him. He is a five year old, but has the strangest powers and abilities.”
Just then Cloud strolled onto the platform, holding the heavy scale machine under his arm, like someone carrying a news paper.
Peter paled looked around and approached his big friend. “Put the scale down; just put it there, Cloud. Very good! Now come before anyone asks how you could carry a three hundred pound scale and rip apart the chain it was secured with.”
Cloud looked disappointed but followed Peter. “This device might hold answers to my origin! It called me Gemini.”
“Were you born in June?”
“I don’t know.”
“I made my point. This is just a machine to make money for the owner. It has no valid information whatsoever, trust me.”
“I trust you Peter, you know that!”
Peter wasn’t sure what would be the lesser evil, leaving Cloud behind or taking him along. But then leaving him alone would not be a good idea. At least not until the big fellow remembered who he was, and Peter sort of gave his word to Seven Feathers to be the big guys guide.
A loudspeaker announcement was made and announced the arrival of the Texas Eagle in 5 minutes. Other passengers came through the turnstile, and stumbled running into the scale, Cloud had left right there.
There was cursing and a big man, with a ten gallon hat and red cheeks, collected his luggage after he had run into the thing. “What a stupid place to put that thing!”
Wolf giggled. “I think that’s just the start. I agree with you, we better keep an eye on him.”
Cloud brushed his shoulders. “I have an eye on me? Where is it?”
The train came and Wolf got all excited. “Oh, look at that thing! It is just like in the museum and in perfect condition.”
To Peter’s surprise the train was almost full and he was glad he booked rooms. “I didn’t know anyone was still using the train.“, he said to the conductor showing them to their room.
“It has steadily increased ever since the 9/11 attack. Folks rather take the extra time and have less hassle, and they feel more secure. ”
Peter was in somewhat of a holiday mood, as he settled down in his sleeper room, although his companion had each individual compartments they found seats in his for now.
Peter took of his hat and looked out the window. Looking over the busy station platform, he was about to relax when he saw a face in the crowd. It was only for a moment and he wasn’t sure, but somehow he had seen that face before. Like many law men he developed a good mind for faces and the one he just saw, he was almost certain, was from some mug shot book or wanted poster.
Someone he had never seen in person, but still someone of interest. He decided to find his way up the train and check the faces, just to see the man’s face once more and make sure it wasn’t anyone he should be arresting or at least keep an eye on.
So he put his hat back on and said to Wolf. “I’ll be back shortly. I just thought I check on something. Would you mind and keep Cloud company till I am back.”
Wolf nodded. “One thing never changes in all the millennia between you and me, my new friend. The look on the face of a policeman when he saw something he needs to check.”
Peter smirked. “It’s probably nothing, but I just could not relax if I didn’t make sure.”
“I understand and no worries Cloud and I won’t get bored.”
Cloud agreed. “I do not know how to get bored. You both have so many skills. I feel so inadequate. I can’t even get bored.”
“Yeah, that’s one real important skill!” Peter smirked and left the compartment.