He looked around and suddenly realized he was alone. He was in the middle of a city that looked bombed out an abandoned. He got to his feet and checked to make sure the stitches on his wing hadn't come loose.
After making sure they were all still in place, he started looking around. The silence was eerie. Not the physical silence; he could still hear animals in the distance, but he couldn't pick up a single sentient thought for at least a mile in all directions. The emptiness of the city wasn't so concerning as the fact that included his traveling companions.
He began wandering around, sure to keep within monitoring distance of the spot he arrived at. He'd seen areas ransacked in gang wars before, but never anything to this degree. At least in gang wars, grave diggers were allowed to clean the streets between engagements, but the number of charred and chewed bones in the streets told him either they were shot at too, or simply weren't left alive to clean up the dead.
He found his way into a convenience store and found a sight that explained the situation in full. Two skeletons, the cashier and a customer, still halfway through a transaction, moldy money still clutched in the skeletal hands. Nobody cleaned up the bodies because everyone died at the same time, if they had even half a second's warning, they'd have dropped that money.
He pawed through some newspapers for clues, thankful they were written in english, and the headline that greeted him was unsettling,
CS Daily Letter | January 7th | 2019
WE'RE AT WAR!
UN peace talks break downQueen Fairweather declares marshal law in controlled territories; no quarter to be given to combatants. Confederate States of America military mobilizing to secure own borders. The President called for Russian aid, but was denied, the CCCP Prime Minister claiming they wished to remain neutral and continue to honor the original treaty between Earth and the Pimmerian state despite sacrificing portions of their own land in the process. Alliance between CSA and CCCP considered broken in light of failure to assist us in the coming battles.Japan to deploy their navy in full force to secure the Pacific islands, Admiral Hito speaks on the matter: (translated into english for your convenience) “We had high hopes for peace between our worlds, and we still have hopes peace will reign for our children when this passes. Until then, we will honor the Wolven concords, and fight them with the same honor they have shown...” (continued on page 3)
His heart sank slightly. 2019 wasn't the right year, and the CCCP was supposed to have been disbanded decades before, and he had no idea what the Confederate States of America even were. Whatever was going on here, it was completely wrong.
He felt a sudden twinge of danger and ducked out of reflex, seconds later, gunfire ripped through the air, raining pieces of drywall and splintered wood down around him. Laughter echoed outside and a voice called to him,
“Come on out, xeno! We just wanna play with ya a little!”
He hadn't picked up any thoughts at all, this person managed to sneak right up on him. He reached for his sidearm, finding it annoyingly absent, then slinked across the floor towards the outside wall, peeking through a bullet hole, seeing four men in a technical, a mounted machinegun pointing towards the building.
He focused on them and was able to begin picking up their thoughts, but it was faint. For whatever reason, his abilities were severely dampened here. One of them noticed him and he scrambled deeper into the building seconds before machinegun fire started filling the air again.
The maniacal laughter was more irritating than it was intimidating, and as he carefully moved across the second floor of the building, he began contemplating how he was going to get out of this situation. Car doors slammed down below and he heard rifles being readied; they were coming in after him.
He slowly made his way towards the window and gathered his thoughts. His telepathy was crippled, but he figured he could still generate one good pain surge, at least strong enough to let him wrestle a weapon from one of them.
As he prepared to jump, he suddenly felt dizzy, the room began spinning around him and he felt like he was going to puke, then a hand reached for him, emerging from thin air. Before he had a chance to react, it grabbed him and pulled him through into blackness.
He landed violently on a rather soft surface, blinking as he realized his muzzle was resting between a pair of breasts. He hastily got back to his feet to find a much less disturbing environment, a laboratory similar to Michael and Marcus's, complete with a machine similar to theirs, but much more deliberately designed to house a gateway for people to pass through.
Veronica got back up, resting upon serpent coils still, but substantially smaller than before. She only had four wings now, and similarly fewer arms. She simply looked like an oversized naga, and not the embodiment of Quetzalcoatl. As she dusted herself off she apologized, “Sorry about missing the target there. I forgot dragons have a slower metabolism.”
He raised an eye ridge at her and she continued, “The potion, it didn't have time to fully kick in on you, so I had a hard time adjusting where you landed.”
A voice came from nearby, Marcus's voice, “Potion?”
Helma looked towards him to find Tanya clinging to him already, her eyes no longer glowing, and her markings invisible. Even the slits on her back were hidden. He scoffed at the sight of the whitewolf, “I thought you were dead.”
“That's the same thing the vixen said when she got here, now would you mind telling me who you are and where the hell you all arrived from? This gate is only supposed to link to Gamma.”
Helma looked towards Veronica, “About that, just where the hell was that place I was in?”
She winced slightly, then sighed and looked away, “A place you weren't supposed to see.”
“I saw a newspaper there, it said 2019, that's four years from now, and that place was a wasteland, somebody bombed it to oblivion and back, what aren't you telling me?”
Marcus blinked, “2019? that's...twelve years from now...not four.”
Tanya's ears perked up, “You sent us back in time?”
Veronica rolled her eyes, “What part of fourth dimension was so hard to understand?”
Marcus pried Tanya away before commenting, “Okay okay, wait. You're telling me you came backwards on an 8 year leap? How'd you generate the energy for that?”
Veronica went past him, picking up the backpack and shouldering it, “The less you know, the better. Suffice to say we're only stopping here as a slingshot to our actual destination.”
Tanya looked back and forth between them, her and Akaila both confused, “so...we went back in time, but we went to a world that's not ours, where not only is Marcus still alive, but he's already perfected inter-dimensional transit, and isn't completely freaked out by a group of time-travelers arriving on his doorstep?”
Marcus smirked, “Welcome to infinite universe theory.”
“So then where are we now?”
A loud thump came from nearby, Jagra unloading an armful of food onto a table, “Wherever we are, they've got some of the best pork I've ever tasted.”
Marcus's ears went back, “That's not pork. That's homo-sapien, and it's supposed to be for lab use only.”
Jagra shrugged and took a bite of it, “Whatever those are, they taste great.”
Marcus just blinked in disbelief, “Well that's just horrifying.”
Tanya smirked, “Welcome to hill dwarf theory. Homo sapien is Human, Jagra, you're eating human meat.”
He paused, “I thought that sounded familiar.”
After several moments, he took another bite, “Well it's cooked now, no sense letting it go to waste.”
Marcus shuddered, “So...how soon can you lot be out of here and on the next leg of your trip?”
Veronica shrugged, “No clue. I can't create a portal of my own without risking damage to this reality, so it would be whenever one can be created with local energy sources.”
He nodded, “Right, so you picked this place because you expected me to help you.”
“Not so much expected as hoped. We need to get to Beta Prime, and we need to arrive at a date before August of 2015.”
“Beta Prime? How the fuck did you get here from Beta Prime?”
Jagra chuckled, “You tell us, it's your parallel self who sent us.”
Veronica interjected, “Actually, he sent them to a void between dimensions and it was a combination of luck and a distress beacon that saved them. Can you get us there or not?”
He sighed and sat down at a desk, rubbing his forehead, ears back, “It's not that easy. There's a reason we don't go to the Beta series. Well hell, if you came from there, you should know why. The channels between Beta and Gamma are way too unstable. You might have been better off going to Alpha.”
“But Alpha's a wasteland.”
Helma's eyes darted over to them, “So I was in Alpha then?”
Marcus looked over towards him, “Possibly, describe it.”
“Bombed out city, newspapers dated to 2019 and declaring war, and four humans were shooting at me and calling me 'xeno'”
“Yeah, that's Alpha. They probably mistook you for an alien.”
Helma's eyes narrowed, “Aliens now.”
Tanya mused again, “Welcome to infinite universe theory~”
He sighed, then looked around until he found a door labeled “exit.”
He went towards it and looked back towards the group, “I think I need a few moments to process all this. I'm not going to find killer robots on the other side of this door, am I?”
Marcus shook his head, “No, of course not.”
As the door was half-open, Marcus suffixed his statement, “Iris is the nicest android I've ever met.”
Helma growled under his breath and hastily exited the room. Tanya went to follow, but a snake tail coiled on one of her ankles, Veronica stopping her, “Let him go. He's not used to not being in control of things.”
Helma made his way through several corridors, following exit signs, coming outside into the light just in time to cross paths with a vixen...a very familiar vixen.
She looked up with a smile “Oh good, my letter did arrive first. So, what do you think of my qualifications?”
“Oh, I, Uhm...I don't work here...j-just head on in and talk to anyone in a lab coat.”
She bowed to him and continued inside, leaving him staring in disbelief, she was eight years younger than the Sapien he'd seen just a day ago, barely even an adult, but she was still a dead ringer, fur patterns, voice, even the tint of her eyes was exact.
He found himself wondering if he could run into himself here, and his thoughts piqued only seconds later; running into himself was exactly what he needed to do. This timeline was a little different, sure, but he knew exactly what city he'd be in.
He spread his wings to take to the sky only to wince in pain as his stitches were tugged on. In his excitement he forgot he was still grounded. Thankfully the parallel Sapien had arrived by car. He was sure with what she was about to see, a missing vehicle would be the last thing on her mind. With a couple touched wires under the dashboard, he was on his way.