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2 & 3 Rebooted
10th, 19th, 28th - 31st August 2017
2nd, 4th & 7th September 2017
Only Jessie glanced out the café window when a couple of sirens and flashing lights passed by. When it soon became a near endless stream of them, everyone were trying to get a peek. It wasn't just them. People in the street had either stopped where they were to stare, as well as point their phones, or were running alongside them.
"What the... that's not good," Craig said, the only one in the café other than a couple of staff to not be staring.
B'Elanna mostly had to push through to the front to not only see what was happening, but get to Jessie. She lowered her voice to a whisper, "this definitely isn't on our records. We should investigate."
"This Boss guy, you think?" Jessie whispered back. B'Elanna nodded.
Craig anxiously glanced between the spot he remembered Jessie being, only now blocked by the crowd, and the group's phone left on their table. He picked that up to reread the website on the screen. He wasn't the only one, a lot of the customers were getting their own out of pockets or bags to film the commotion or to scour the Internet for what was going on.
The latter ones raised their voices, some in panic. "Oh my god," one woman stammered.
"Terrorist attack, here?" a man said in shock.
Their uproar got B'Elanna and Jessie's attention, they glanced at one another looking worried and confused. "Match day?" B'Elanna questioned.
Jessie stared with narrowing eyes, "that's not funny." She glanced back over her shoulder, hoping to see Craig but only saw the mass of people. "Craig?" No response and no one was moving, at least not the ones in her way were, some people were rushing back to tables to grab their things. Jessie and then B'Elanna pushed and squeezed their way through to their own table.
"Craig, call them," B'Elanna ordered. Craig stared up at her uneasily, he wordlessly handed her the phone. She assumed to do it herself. The first thing she saw on the screen was a brief news article with one grainy image underneath the headline.
Jessie grabbed it before she could get to the article part. "Ohno." B'Elanna tried to grab it back but Jessie was too busy running off with it towards the door. She and reluctantly Craig gave chase. Other people leaving and the crowds outside blocking them slowed her down enough for B'Elanna to grab her arm and try to pull her back. Jessie snatched her arm back but didn't move from where she had stopped.
"Calm down!" B'Elanna hissed, then she lowered her voice to a whisper, "the last thing we should be doing is splitting up."
"That's easy for you to say. Do you know what they'll do to him when they find him, if they haven't already?" Jessie stammered angrily.
Craig looked on sheepishly, "arrest him? I'll admit that's bad but..."
Jessie glared him into silence. "Guess again."
"They won't," B'Elanna said, using the opportunity to snatch the phone back. She refreshed the article which made it a paragraph longer, and skimmed it. "It's doubtful. It's not the same. The country's on their highest alert so this is knee jerking. I'd hardly say scuffling with that idiot is an act of terrorism, crazy politician or not. At worst they'll think he was a protestor who got carried away. Slap on the wrist."
Jessie tried to take a deep breath to calm herself, it didn't work though. Her eye fell toward the window which had cleared considerably of police and people since customers had hurried out to either get away from the area or nosey around. Only some remained, anxiously retaking their seats and glancing at the window. What she had seen earlier jumped back into her head making her tremble.
"That sort of response for a slap on the wrist? No. James is in trouble. We need to find him first," she said.
B'Elanna sighed, "I agree with that part. We really should be careful about contacting him though. Our calls would be traced. And for all we know Harry has the pho..." she frowned in realisation, "where was Harry in all this?"
The remaining colour in Craig's cheeks faded away, Jessie still looked as anxious as she did before. Craig glanced at her and shook his head. "Nothing I saw mentioned accomplices."
"What was he thinking, and why am I not surprised?" B'Elanna quietly snapped. The phone vibrated in her hand. "I mean seriously, if he pissed someone off then yeah it'd make sense that I react with nothing. But this?" she grumbled whilst glancing down at it. "Only an airbrained hothead would do something like this and yet here I am, not surprised. Weird." Jessie scowled at her, not that she noticed.
"Well I'm surprised. Considering who the target was and how dumb James isn't. I mean he can be a bit abruptly rude but this..." Craig stammered.
"It's my fault. Meet me at..." B'Elanna read aloud in a neutral tone. She sighed impatiently afterwards. "What do you know, an airbrained hothead did do something like this. I just labelled the wrong one."
Craig still looked a little surprised, "Harry? I believe that less."
"Believe me, after what happened on Seventh Voyager, I want to strangle this Boss character myself. He put us through hell and put it on repeat," B'Elanna grumbled.
"Hang on. If Harry was the one who did, something, and was there too, why is James getting the only blame?" Jessie asked.
"I guess we'll find out, come on. We'll call home in a quieter spot, if we find one," B'Elanna said, heading for the clearer exit. Her teammates followed.
"Breaking News coming in now," a news host appeared, interrupting a soap opera.
"Aaaw," the Doctor moaned, having getting into it. "We were just going to find out who the father of the twins were."
Kathryn slapped him across the head nonchalantly without even looking at him.
"Terror in England as a lone activist holds the leader of the DUD hostage," the host continued. Beside her a little rectangular window appeared, it then enlarged to take over most of the screen, showing a poor quality video. Dark and shaky, filmed clearly through glass as they could see a reflection of a partial face and the phone the cameraman was using. Eventually the awayteam did recognise a detail they wish they hadn't; James' face as he was raising his hands up.
"Oh for the love of..." Kathryn groaned.
The Doctor wasn't surprised, "hmm deja vu." Kathryn growled, he took that as a warning this time and ducked but she didn't slap him like he thought.
"As you can see from the amateur footage, the culprit escaped arrest and is now at large," the host said before she was back on the screen. "This news is still breaking, and we don't have the attacker's identity as of yet, nor his motives. We can confirm the suspect is a Caucasian male, blond, approximately five foot ten."
"Oh, so it's not terrorism, that's a relief," the awayteam overheard from a nearby table.
The speaker's friends didn't seem to agree with him, a couple laughed at him, while another jokingly thumped him in the arm. "No such thing as white terrorists, huh? I hope they shoot the monster."
Kathryn blinked rapidly. Neither the Doctor or Seven knew what it meant, but they prepared themselves for angry anyway. "Who the hell is DUD, and what kind of ninny calls themselves that?" she asked while fishing the phone she used earlier out of her bag. Despite tapping on it a while she didn't press it by her ear. Seven and the Doctor watched her curiously.
"Is Lieutenant Paris not answering?" Seven asked.
Kathryn shook her head, tapping the screen harder. "It says the number doesn't exist."
Seven held her hand out, "allow me to try." She expected a glare and maybe a scolding about being a know it all, but she didn't expect the device to be hurled at her chest. She managed to catch it before it fell to the floor.
The Doctor cringed as that got a few glances from people nearby. "If our awayteam was getting involved, it's possible this DUD is.."
"Them? It is a stupid name, so you're probably right," Kathryn said impatiently. Still she rolled her eyes in contempt, "but James knows better than to confront them in public. Surely his team... oh, wait Seven contact Torres or Kim. I want to know..."
"Captain," the Doctor warned her while pointing at the screen. Kathryn turned to watch once more but missed what he meant, only catching the end where Damien fell into the officers. The whole footage repeated. The Doctor gestured once more when Damien walked in front of James on his way to the police, his face briefly showed when he looked ahead.
"That little prick. I should've known it'd be him," Kathryn grunted.
Seven was more than puzzled, "I don't understand."
"No you wouldn't. Damien's before your time, more or less," the Doctor whispered to her.
"That is not what I was referring to," Seven said, nodding toward the phone. "Even Torres and Kim's devices aren't connecting." She discreetly brought out a tricorder from under the table after some awkward shuffling about, but kept it out of sight at the edge of the table while she scanned the phone.
Kathryn stared at her in disgust, her eyes wide. "Do I want to know where you were keeping that?"
Seven stared back blankly, all while the Doctor was coughing on purpose as he looked away. "The dress garment did not have pockets." Kathryn's face scrunched even more. "It's a holster on my thigh."
"Of course it is," Kathryn groaned, rolling her eyes, "Well?"
"The device is working efficiently. The signal is transmitting," Seven reported. "Perhaps this Damien character is responsible." Her words caught the attention of a red headed girl who had stopped behind her to watch the screen.
"Hardly," Kathryn scoffed. "You're forgetting that the last thing he did was arm rabbits with guns and try to set them on us. Of course he'd make crazy incompetent copies of us, the little verruca."
"We still don't know that for certain. It could be a coincidence that he's here," the Doctor said, not believing it himself. Kathryn gave him with a disapproving glance. "All right fine, but it still doesn't excuse James causing a scene."
"I'm not," Kathryn hesitated. "No, he wouldn't. There must be a reason that happened, we just don't know it yet. We need to get in touch with Voyager so they can retrieve him."
The girl cautiously approached their table, "uh... excuse me?" All three looked up at her, making her a little bit more apprehensive. "Is Voyager your ship?" she directed at Kathryn.
Her eyes flared up, Seven and the Doctor instinctively pushed their chairs backwards as the smoke began to rise. "I beg your pardon!" Kathryn hissed at the young girl.
"Yes, that's scary," the girl said flippantly which caused Kathryn to tremble. "You're wasting your time here. He's who you need to deal with," she said, pointing at the television.
Seven's eyes flickered up when the video playback paused on James, a few seconds afterwards it changed to show the footage of the speech in the city centre.
"We are not law enforcement," Seven said.
"Of course not," the girl frowned at her. "Damien, that's what you called him right?"
Kathryn pointed her finger at one of the spare seats, unfortunately for the girl it was beside hers. The girl took the hint and sat. "What do you want, and make it snappy."
"I was on my way to him, but you re-opened the portal and diverted my plane. Now I've missed my transfer flight," the girl said.
"We didn't open the..." the Doctor started to protest, both women stared him down into silence.
The girl giggled behind her hand and lowered her voice to a near whisper. "You guys don't do covert often?" Kathryn's eyes narrowed. "Doesn't matter who opened it. You're here, so it looks like I don't need those primitive planes after all."
"You're presuming an awful lot and you still haven't answered my question," Kathryn icily said in a quiet voice.
The girl's face fell, she looked worried. "I escaped, but my friend. He took her, or rather they did."
"Who?" Seven asked.
"They call themselves the Six Coalition, or Sixes for short," the girl answered in a bitter tone. "They had a ship exactly like yours." Kathryn's eyebrow twitched, one hand resting on her leg clenched. "I actually thought it was them returning without the fleet, but then I happened to overhear your conversation about this Damien. And of course this television report. That mirror ship, they're loyal to the Boss, they wouldn't attack him. So I knew..."
"Hold on," Kathryn warned her. "You're quite knowledgeable about these Sixes and Seventh Voyager, who I'm assuming don't know how to count, and Damien. Where exactly did they take you from? Or rather when?"
The girl bit her lip nervously, eyes shifted side to side as she made an uncertain moan. "It's an ickle complicated. It might take some getting into and we don't have much time. We need to use your ship to take us to England. Take down the Boss and their command structure weakens."
"I'm not interested in that. We only want to get back to our time before we cause anymore damage," Kathryn said.
"Yeah," the girl said grimacing. "You won't be able to open the portal without the other Voyager, or him. If you knew how you wouldn't be here, right? And I wouldn't worry about that."
The Doctor shook his head bewilderedly. "Sounds like something we should worry about."
"No I mean," the girl laughed at herself. "Your ship being seen, your crewmember, these won't have happened for you, it won't hurt anything. That was a dimensional tear you came through, you didn't simply come back in time."
"But... I thought that since Seventh Voyager was only a recent dimensional split that we have simply gone back in time," the Doctor said.
The girl trembled, her eyes fell to the table. "That ship is as much from here as you are. The Boss brought that thing through one day and..." her voice cracked, she stopped herself and tried to hold still. "This isn't your dimension, or theirs. Not even close. It's mine."
Tom couldn't focus on any of the multiple screens he had up, they had all blurred into a noisy one while his head throbbed. Neelix hovered behind him, helpfully pointing out specific screens but Tom's attention had already gone for a coffee break.
The current one Neelix was gesturing to was the one currently talking about only Damien and his party, while the others were focused on the footage and interviews with the police. Tom barely made a squeak so Neelix quit pestering him and watched it in silence.
"Now Frank, a lot of people are asking just who are the DUD? It's the eve of the election and yet no one has heard of the party at the heart of the attack," a news reporter was saying while a man in a different location waited for her to finish. "There's even accusations that the DUD set this attack up as a way to get exposure, but we still know little about them or their policies. Would this get them a few sympathy seats in parliament?"
The man nodded for a few seconds, then began to answer. "It is still far too early in the investigation to label what kind of attack this was, or the attacker's motives. We do not even have his identity yet. However the DUD is such a minority party, primarily focused in the northern areas of England and other areas outside of England that'd be considered a weaker vote..."
"Wait, what do you mean by a weaker vote?" the newscaster interrupted.
"Their policies are extreme, nothing like the other parties, leaning neither left or right," the man continued as if she hadn't asked anything. "Their leader, D. Boss was self appointed pretty much overnight and as such even with this attack, their party do not have enough of a voice to make any impact in tomorrows election. A lot of their critics jokingly refer to them as the Empire or Sith party due to the way he presents himself, and repeatedly say their odds of winning are lower than the Greens getting a majority. Mr Boss himself has responded to these with a scathing humour that has brought him a few fans, but not enough to win him anything."
"Do you think that this attacker was one of his critics?" the newscaster asked.
This time the man responded, "we can't discount it but in my opinion it's doubtful. No one takes this party seriously enough. It's more than likely that Boss has insulted somebody who was already unhinged, as he is only known for his antics on social media and not for his politics."
"That sounds dangerously familiar, Frank. Are we underestimating Boss and the DUD, despite recent history telling us to be wary of people like him?" the newscaster asked.
"In my opinion we are already overestimating him, Charlotte," the man replied.
Neelix grinned, "you were wrong, this politics stuff is absolutely delightful. Not at all under-dramatic like you promised."
Tom mumbled something unintelligible as he was tapping away at his console. "Why is no one responding to my calls? I can't even find their lifesigns."
Neelix's smile faded away. "What? Even our team on this very island?"
"Yeah, it's like they're not even there. Everytime I try to send a call or even a text only message, I get nothing but feedback. Since no one has called about James' adventure with the cloaked dude, I'm going to safely assume they can't call us either," Tom said. "Something here has got to be blocking our signals, but what?"
"Or who?" Neelix said helpfully, worrying Tom further. "Wait, can't we transmit something via these television signals we're watching, maybe..."
Tom shook his head. "Can't. That's not live footage, it's pre-recorded. We're in the dark."
"Oh," Neelix mumbled. "If what's blocking us is here..."
"It is here. If it were in American or England where our teams are, that would've been the breaking news first, not that they'd be able to see it," Tom said.
"I guess. My point is if it's here, our team will surely find it, won't they? This island isn't very large," Neelix said.
"Yup. This island that shouldn't have anyone on it but has an abandoned village or town on its hills. I don't like this at all," Tom sighed.
Chakotay was regretting his decision to follow the road up the hill, an hour ago. He had slowed to a near crawl, the sun beating down on him left him looking drenched and yet his mouth dry. It wasn't just him, he could see Tuvok's pace had slowed as well. His young daughter though was a good distance ahead of them both, her only complaint seemed to be the lack of something to drink.
At least the strange antenna looking tower was getting closer. He figured Morgan would reach it in ten minutes if she kept going. Only she stopped, he assumed to wait for them.
"Did you hear that?" she asked.
Neither of the men had time to answer, dozens of people with hoods over their heads leapt out from behind the hedges and trees on both sides of the road. All of them pointing colourful rifles at them.
"Well, did you?" Morgan asked irritably.
Chakotay knew she was still joking despite her tone, he managed a weak smile. "Barely."
The closest to Morgan stepped up to push the tip of the rifle into her shoulder. "Move, with the oth..." She responded to that with a punch to the face. A lot of the weapons pointed at Chakotay or Tuvok moved to her.
"Morgan, come on," Chakotay said through gritted teeth, his hand gesturing for her to join him and Tuvok. Morgan looked around, glaring at them all. She rolled her eyes before walking over slowly to her dad and the Security Chief. "Listen, we're not here to hurt you or to intrude. We came here thinking this place was uninhabited. We'll leave if that's what you..."
"What gave you that impression?" one of their attackers asked. One figure approached them while lowering their hood and revealing her face. She wasn't familiar to the team or an alien, anything that would explain why they all hid their faces. It confused them as much as their words.
"If pointing weapons at people is your way of saying hello you should see my goodbye," Morgan said.
Tuvok's eyebrow raised while Chakotay silently preyed to the spirits. "Morgan please, let me." Morgan shrugged casually. "Why don't we start again. I'm Chakotay, this is Tuvok and Morgan. We're from..."
"Voyager. We know," the woman said coldly before smirking at him. "Thanks for making this easy. You'll make a wonderful present for the Boss."
Morgan frowned. "Who's the Boss? Does he she have a name, or is it actually literally The Boss. Should I start calling them The?" She glanced at her teammates, "is this linked to the other Voyager malarkey? I'm confused."
"Perhaps we should have explained the reason for our predicament and mission before we let her join us," Tuvok said quietly to Chakotay.
Chakotay uncomfortably laughed discreetly, "sometimes I don't even know what's going on."
"Allow me. The Boss wants Voyager, we're giving it to him," the woman sneered.
"But doesn't he already have one? Greedy little bitch isn't he?" Morgan grumbled.
Chakotay sighed, his patience wearing thin. "You only have us, not the ship. If you're thinking of using as hostages you're wasting your time. The people Seventh wanted are not there anyway. Now..." His words made the woman and a few others tense, he knew why so kept going. "Either take us to this Boss or let us go. We're of no use to you."
"You mistake us for your stupid copies, then make demands. Do you understand the position you're in?" the woman snapped, gesturing her weapon toward them once more.
"You're taking orders from this Boss guy, lurking around on some abandoned hidden island we only found because of those stupid copies leaving a door open for us, like you own the place. What do you expect us to jump to, cos the conclusions stone is the only one I can see," Morgan asked.
The woman smirked. "Foolish child." Morgan rolled her eyes then sniggered to her impatience. "We are the Six Coalition, the Resistance. And you, you're the morons who trespassed on our island. The penalty; ship impounding."
"Oh my god," Morgan pretended to sound shocked, the woman seemed to fall for it and sneered further. "Is that how many seconds it took to name yourselves?"
Chakotay closed his eyes and cringed, silently wondering why the rude Janeway gene was the most dominant.
The queue had reached the door, people were beginning to get more than a little annoyed at the holdup. It wasn't like they could give up and go somewhere else, they had already refueled their cars. Passengers who only wanted snacks did just that, all but one didn't come back. The reason for it not budging wasn't bothered in the slightest about them, he slammed his hand down on the counter.
"What are you talking about woman? I only put a tenner in," the tall but scrawny looking man shouted down at the clerk, thankfully behind glass.
"That's not what it says. Are you sure it's tank two?" she responded with calmly.
The customer shrivelled up his nose and snarled, "I only have ten pounds on me. Why would I fill the tank? Stupid bitch, get me a manager."
"I'm... he's not here," the woman said politely despite the insult. "Sorry sir but there are no tanks out there with ten pound to pay."
The next in line sporting a cap and sunglasses groaned impatiently. "Excuse me but..."
The problem customer didn't even look over his shoulder, he raised his hand up rudely above it. "Shut it, mind your own business!"
"I imagine it's everyone's business that some moron who flunked the first year of Primary school because it was too hard, can't count and takes his fragile little ego frustrations out on the cashier," was the annoyed response. It did for a brief moment lighten the queue's mood. "I'll give you a hint, thirty is higher than ten."
"Listen buddy, piss off," the customer grunted. He seemingly was listened to, they dumped their food on nearby shelves and left the store.
"There's nothing I can do. If you try to leave with the fuel you haven't paid for..." the clerk said.
The customer saw red, but still brandished a credit card. "I'm never coming back, you've lost my..."
The clerk scanned it while he was talking, smiled and said before he finished, "have a nice day sir."
"Smart bitch," the customer grumbled as he stomped off. He returned to his black Range Rover, all while flipping a finger at the two waiting behind him to move. His eyes were fixed on the refuelling tank as he climbed in, double checking that he was right. Confusion hit him, he wasn't, the clerk was. He huffed about it as he put on his seatbelt, only when he went to turn on the ignition he noticed something amiss beside him.
"Doesn't know how to lock his car either," the capped figure from earlier said from his passenger seat. He chuckled as he took off the cap, then leaned forward to dump it on the dashboard. "I wouldn't be surprised if you pushed this here."
The man, still red with a mixture of anger and recently embarrassment spluttered in shock. "What, get out of my car!" He heard the click of the doors locking. The trespasser sat back once more.
"See, that wasn't so hard."
The man clenched his left fist, ready to swing. His wrist was grabbed while his elbow was still pulling back. That was when he got a good look at this passenger's face. It looked familiar but he couldn't place how.
"If you'd prefer, I'll drive," James said.
The man struggled to pull his arm back, it only hurt him. Jaw clenched, heart pounding, he mouthed a no.
The car finally pulled away with no one any of the wiser, and to the people behind him's relief.
Seven looked on in amusement as Kathryn's time travel face had evolved into a scrunched up eye rolling scowl mesh, too funny to be wary of like her other stares. The girl they had met was baffled by it, unsure whether or not to continue. She looked to Seven and the Doctor for a hint.
"So in your dimension Gravett Island was discovered centuries before we did, by a group of explorers looking for a new home," the Doctor said.
The girl smiled meekly. "Yes, in a nutshell that's the key difference between my dimension and yours."
"And you claim to be one of the descendants of this group," Seven added.
"No I don't claim," the girl scowled. "I am. What you call Gravett was my people's home until they chased us out a few years ago."
"The Sixes," the Doctor said to make sure.
The girl sighed bitterly. "Damien and his ilk. He lead them against us, chased us out. We had to find a new home while they setup shop in ours. It seems like that wasn't enough for Damien; he's upped his goals a tad."
"England?" Kathryn smirked. "He hasn't got a hope in hell."
"Doesn't he? He managed to convince the Sixes to side with him. They're not stupid like the Seventh crew. And you're forgetting, this isn't your time. If they defeated us, with our own weapons and technology, Humans of now will not stand a chance," the girl explained.
Seven's eyebrow raised, "your people possessed greater technology?"
"I don't want to sound braggy, but yeah. That's why we had to hide. Humans would have took everything we had if they found us," the girl said, cringing slightly. "No offense."
Kathryn though wasn't offended, "from what I've seen, that's the bright side."
"Hold on. Damien possesses not only your technology but also ours, in a sense with the other Voyager," the Doctor said.
"And Borg," Seven reminded him.
"That's a stretch. The Borg probably assimilated them, kicked them out and they're too dumb to remove it," Kathryn said.
The Doctor mouthed a yeah before continuing, "if he has all of that at his disposal, why bother with Humans of this century, or this dimension at all for that matter?"
"I... I'm not sure," the girl reluctantly answered. "I didn't even know his name or what he looked like until today. All I do know is he isn't from our dimension and doesn't usually stick around here this much. We traced him to your dimension and attempted to recreate the portal, hoping that since he only had Voyager at the time, we could defeat him without the Six backup."
Seven seemed impressed with her, "the Ligers are warp capable?"
Kathryn stared blankly at her. "Wait, that's your people's name? Liger, as in tigers and lion crossbreeds?"
The girl frowned, clearly offended. "As in Michaela Liger, the woman who lead the expedition to get us away from humanity's love of war, famine and that really annoying habit of making fun of people." Kathryn actually looked sorry for once, Seven was taken aback by it. "And yes we are. However it's no surprise that Voyager was more than a match for us."
"It is?" Kathryn was shocked, so was the Doctor and Seven.
"Yeah, the crew used to be far more competent, their ship upgraded with Tolg weaponry and shields. We had to retreat," the girl said with a touch of regret. "It's almost like a different ship now. Really odd."
Kathryn groaned into both of her hands loud enough for nearby tables to hear her. She rubbed her temples but her headache got worse not better. "Okay, let me get this straight so my brain doesn't shrink to Tom size. Damien has an army and a copy of our ship which he used to chase a far more advanced group of people than us from AU Earth. Despite that ability he's taking part in this alternate dimension twenty first century UK election. We have no idea how he got the army, or the ability to dimension jump, or the other Voyager, why he attacked us with Seventh, and what his plans are full stop.
"We've lost contact with Voyager which is sitting in Sixes territory, and for all we know could be taken over now as we speak. James is on the terrorist watch list after not punching out Damien and we're stuck here in this airport because some idiots on her plane thought we were a flying saucer or something."
There was an awkward silence after she was done. After a few minutes the Doctor fake cheerfully broke it, "that's it pretty much."
"Great. I'm so glad we're on the same page," Kathryn said dangerously.
The girl laughed a little uncomfortably. "What do you mean you're stuck here? I know you guys have transporters or you wouldn't be here."
"Our communications keep bouncing back, so the possibility of Sixes being in charge of it now is pretty high," Kathryn grumbled.
"I doubt it. If they took it, they'd have brought you back themselves," the girl said thoughtfully, she hinted for the phone Seven was holding. She tapped the screen a few times, frowning deeper every few sequences she tried.
"A thought occurs, we haven't actually introduced ourselves," the Doctor said.
The girl's eyes briefly floated up to look at him then down again. "I'm Lilly."
"Lilly what?" Kathryn questioned.
Lilly bit her lip, sighing as if she were tired of answering that. "Johnstone. And it's okay, you don't have to. I know who you are. The Doctor, Six of Twelve. I'm not sure about grouchy pants though."
Kathryn narrowed her eyes while Seven blinked in confusion. "It's Seven of Nine," the latter corrected her.
"Huh?" Lilly looked up and matched her expression. "Now that you mention it, you don't look as gross as her." She shrugged and got back to work.
Kathryn snorted into giggles, earning a glare from the ex drone.
"I thought so. The creeps turned up the Shadow's frequency," Lilly smiled. The awayteam stared at her again, confused. "Oh right. The Shadow is, think of it as a cloaking device. It didn't just hide the island visually, it made sure any outside primitive sources trying to scan or anything would bounce off us. It obviously wasn't capable of blocking your stuff on the normal settings."
"Obviously," Kathryn groaned. Her irritation didn't last, a smirk formed in its stead. "If we can't get through to that island, he won't be able to either. Correct?"
Lilly looked on a little unnerved, "that's right. I doubt they would've done that without his say so though."
"One thing you should know about this little pissant before we pay him a visit," Kathryn said. "He's not as smart and evil as he thinks he is. Keep this in mind and you take away any power he has."
Two of Damien's servants ducked as something small and white flew toward them. The one who didn't duck ended up with a conk on the head and chocolate yoghurt drooping down her face. The duckers passed her a look of sympathy.
"How hard is it to get the right one? I'm not asking you to spell it," Damien complained to them all.
"Sir they haven't made that flavour in years," the other non-yoghurt faced female minion said.
Damien scowled, all while reaching over to stroke the rabbit sitting on the armrest. "You imbecile. They made it an extra special item. It will cost more but so be it."
"Are you sure it wasn't limited edition?" the only male minion asked sheepishly.
"Hmph, no wonder you let that meddling freak near me. Can't even follow a shopping list," Damien grumbled.
The minions shared glances with one another, all while the yoghurted one tried to wipe her face with a hankie.
"Isn't that what your security team's for, sir?" the male minion asked.
As if on cue a few members of his entourage walked into the large and vastly overdecorated with rabbit themed objects office. "Mr Boss sir," the lead one said.
"What is it? I don't see a blond idiot in handcuffs. I have the perfect torture for him," Damien cackled, his stroking of the rabbit emphasised for no reason his lackeys understood.
"Our forces are still spread a little thin searching for the Liger girl," the leader reminded him.
Damien rolled his eyes with a grunt. "Then what good are you?" He flourished his rabbit stroking hand toward him as a hint to leave. The rabbit hopped off the armrest to make its escape. "Why do you disturb me?"
"The media are here for your statement," the leader replied.
"Hmm," Damien smiled darkly. "This could prove advantageous. Very well, give me five minutes. I'd best put on my face."
"Does that mean we have to go shopping again?" one of the female minions whined.
Damien stared at her blankly until she hurried off, not without picking the yoghurt pot off the floor by her teammates feet. "As for the rest of you, I have a very important mission for you. My whole campaign depends on it. Come here."
The two left shuffled closer, he beckoned them to lean over so they assumed he could whisper it to them. Instead he handed them a piece of paper. When they read it they felt a little let down but weren't surprised. "Should we get the sweet or the toffee kind, sir?" the male one asked.
"Surprise me," Damien cackled evilly in response.
For the tenth time today his minions were regretting filling out that job application form.
The awayteam made a few wrong turns before they found Harry leaning against the wall of a bus station, with a Pepsi can pressed against one side of his face. Everytime he span it slightly they got a glimpse of the bruise across his nose and cheek.
"Look, I know you got this I'm edgy and shoot first thing going on, but I didn't expect you to do something as stupid as this," B'Elanna scolded him.
Harry couldn't look her in the eye, he didn't dare. Still he clenched his jaw and tried not to look so intimidated. "He was alone. He made us relive the fake crash, the guilt along with it, and die again and again for his amusement. I couldn't..." The shutters of a nearby shop were brought down, the noise startled him into jumping a few feet into the air. He breathed in to calm himself. "I'm sorry I did it, but you must understand. What would you have done?"
"I do understand," B'Elanna said in a tone that told him otherwise. "But you knew the police would jump at the slightest thing. You knew who he was and what he was doing. And yet, oh I'll attack him in a public place. You're right I would've been tempted, but even I would've thought twice, at least until there was no chance of getting caught or when we knew more about what he was up to. Now look, we've made an already paranoid country even more paranoid which'll make it harder to investigate, we've lost a member of our team..."
"James didn't have to jump in too. He obviously agreed we needed to stop him and..." Harry snapped defensively, but he was cut off by a harsh slap to the uninjured side of his face. It was so brutal and loud it got the attention of most of the bus station.
Craig laughed nervously and backed off from the scene, then pretended to look at the coffee shop's prices.
"You have some bloody nerve blaming him for all this," Jessie snarled. Her eyes were sharp, pointing directly in Harry's direction while his spare hand shakily checked his newly red cheek. Since he still had the can by his other cheek, he looked pretty pathetic to the people watching. "He was only doing his job, saving your ass after you did something so god damn stupid. He gets guns pointed at him, his face plastered all over the news, labelled as a scumbag terrorist and..."
"Jessie breathe," B'Elanna whispered to her.
It was useless, she may as well have told Kathryn to put the coffee down. "And you stand there, huffing and puffing like you're some badass when you're really some little boy with a phaser fetish, crying over his first booboo. Grow up and take some responsibility, and while you're at it, get the hell over it," Jessie said, venom coating every single letter.
"Oh, they have caramel lattes. That's neat," Craig said as nonchalantly as he could.
Harry stared at him accusingly anyway. "Phaser fetish. What have you been telling her?"
"But I'm more of a hot chocolate person," Craig said, side stepping towards the coffee shop. B'Elanna cleared her throat as a hint to stop. He did so, smiling awkwardly. "You got to admit, Mr Shooty stories are funny."
"He's right," B'Elanna said, managing to keep a straight face despite the stories she was reliving in her head.
Jessie stared at them all irritably. "If you're quite finished, we need to come up with a plan."
"Jessie, I get that you're a little..." Craig said as diplomatically as possible. He struggled to think of a suitable word, so instead decided to skip over it completely. "But there's nothing we can realistically do about James until we get through to Voyager." Harry frowned at him, but it hurt too much so he had to stop. "I think we should focus on stopping this Boss. I'm sure James will be thinking the same, and we'll bump into him at some point."
"Agreed," B'Elanna said.
"We lost touch with Voyager?" Harry whimpered. "Is that my fault too?" He didn't think it was possible, but Jessie managed to pull off a much meaner deathglare than Kathryn. He backed away out of hand's reach. Doing so he remembered something, "oh, he was saying something about raising a frequency when I attacked him. That's why I...""
Jessie scoffed in disgust, "that's why you nothing."
"Anyway," B'Elanna said as a warning to both of them. "It's late, we've drawn enough attention. I suggest we find a place to stay. We can discuss our next move there."
"I'm all for it," Harry mumbled, once more checking the slapped side of his face.
Jessie stared at him as he did it, eyes narrowing. "You're lucky we're in a public place. He better be alright." Harry swallowed hard and squeaked in response.
The radio had been playing three songs without interruption, all of them annoying but better than the tense silence inside the car. Once the third song was in its final seconds the host began to speak, "you're listening to Moon Radio. Now for the news at eight pm."
The man looked over at the driver's seat bitterly, angrily, fearfully. Still he spoke up, "why did you...?"
James though was more interested in the radio and so shushed him back into silence.
"The unknown terrorist who targeted the candidate D. Boss of the DUD party after his campaign address in Newcastle is still at large. His identity is at this moment of time not verified, and the police have advised the public to report any sightings but to not confront him."
The man noticed James smile at the news, unnerving him further. It reminded him why he had recognised his face. "You're..."
James sighed and turned the volume up via the buttons on the steering wheel.
Another voice spoke from the speakers, "so he's an unlisted immigrant, yet he doesn't match the usual stereotype. Could this be a case of a city clearly on edge from recent events, overreacting to random thuggishness."
"We know nothing about the attacker at this time," a different third man spoke. "We cannot comment until we have more information."
"Mr Boss has made his own statement, clearly still rattled by this callous attack," the first voice said.
The next voice they both heard was Damien's modulated one, which made James shake his head for more reasons than one. "Do not be fooled. This man is extremely dangerous." The man in the passenger seat nodded rapidly. "And he is not alone. They work in the shadows, targeting anyone who threatens their close minded values. I suggest..."
James turned the radio off, rolling his eyes at the same time. The car's owner seized the chance to speak, "you're him, aren't you? What do you want with me?"
"I don't, don't worry," James replied.
The man flinched, bitter once more. "If you only wanted my car, then why didn't you chuck me out when we swapped seats, or anytime?"
"If I let you go, what would you do?" James asked.
"Well..." the man hesitated, quickly trying to think up a convincing lie.
James shrugged lightly, all while faking a small smile, "exactly."
"Why me? I just updated my car insurance," the man complained.
"You see, I have this little issue that I didn't want to put anyone out. So, I figured I'd wait for a dickhead. Turns out I didn't have to wait for long," James replied, smirking slightly so his victim didn't know if he was serious.
Still the man was a little offended with that answer. "Were you the arsehole who put more petrol in my tank?" James' struggle not to laugh answered him, making him more than a little furious. "I didn't get pissed until after you did that, and rightly so. What made you think I deserved..."
"Hey, move that bubble car grandma, I'll park right behind you till you do. It's only two pence over craphead. Wah my car's recently insured," James said mockingly. He waited till they had to stop at lights to glance at him. The man wasn't impressed at all. "Let me guess, it has a girl's name."
"No," the man muttered, clearly lying.
"Yeah thought so," James sniggered. He sighed, letting his face fall back to serious. The lights changed so they had to move again. "Look, I'll tell you what. You help me secure other legal transport, and you get your Christene or Sally back."
"Alice," the man blurted out, immediately regretting that since he got a smirk for it. "No, no. I'm not helping no terrorist. You can forget it."
"Fine," James shrugged. "I'll keep it, but I have to drop you off somewhere. Picking somebody annoying wasn't a good idea after all."
The man panicked again, "no, you do that and I'll sort you out. We won't need the police."
The car turned off the regular road already in the middle of nowhere into a narrow country one, barely wide enough to fit a normal sized car so it was a tight squeeze for the monster they were in. James pretended it was a mistake, inhaling through gritted teeth and pulling a face. "It's been a while, must've made a wrong turn somewhere." He slammed the breaks while the man was still fretting over his car getting scratched by hedges. He was too shellshocked by the sudden stop to notice or care when James reached over to open his door. "It'll do. Thanks for the ride."
"Here? You're leaving me here?" the man stuttered. "There's nothing here!"
"You catch on fast," James smiled at him.
The man glared at him as fiercely as possible, "at least give me my mobile phone back."
"Civilisation is still within walking distance, I'm not that cruel," James said. Of course the man didn't move, not that he expected him to. Still James clicked the other man's seat belt so it'd come off.
"So um, where are we going?" the man tried to ask politely.
One of the Sixes grunted as the previous blow he landed to Chakotay's face left his hand aching. He stomped off to the door, lowered the forcefield there to go through it, leaving him to stew in the chair he had tied him to. Outside he ran straight into one of his teammates who didn't look much better.
"I had to get the Vulcan, didn't I?" he complained.
Chakotay's abuser suddenly felt a little better. "So you didn't get anything either?"
His teammate shrugged, "why bother? I just sat in there and read for a bit."
"Ayla's going to have our heads if we don't get anything that'll help us into that ship," the interrogator groaned.
"It's alright. Shep got the little girl, smack her once and she'll be squealing," the teammate sniggered. "Come on."
The two headed for a completely different room, full of confidence. As soon as they opened the door their faces changed instantly to horrified. Instead of their third prisoner, one of their own was gagged and tied to a chair, his face bruised and a little swollen. He made a lot of noise on seeing them, his eyes widening.
"What the... how did she get out?" one asked as they ran over to untie him.
Two was equally puzzled. "That's impossible. She should be here," he said as Morgan slipped out from behind the door and tiptoed behind him. The tied up one squealed a warning. She smirked and pressed a finger by her lips. "What?"
A few minutes later Morgan walked out of the room completely, casually pressing the button next to the door to raise the forcefield. "Chumps," she scoffed while going for the first door she spotted.
The summer sun had barely rose above the horizon and the DUD lair was already buzzed with activity. A massive bucket of popcorn on his lap, Damien slouched in his chair with his eyes glued to the television. When a clip of himself came on he quickly turned up the volume and smiled. "Such presence, how can you not vote for me?" His minions standing out of his view struggled not to laugh.
The clip ended far too quickly for his liking, replaced by somebody he didn't recognise making a speech. "Ugh boring, who is this bint?" He laughed at the next thing she said, "as if. The only strong and stable one is I. Soon you'll be serving under me, while the rest of the world trembles under my might just like those weakling Ligers." He threw more popcorn into his mouth a little too enthusiastically, a tiny crumb flew into his eye. His reaction to that brought all of his security officers running in with guns.
"I think he meant strongly unstable," one minion whispered.
Damien wasn't the only one with his eyes transfixed on a screen. Craig munched on a slice of toast while watching the news, which had been muted and had subtitles for anyone watching it. He was so engrossed that when he finished eating he picked up a napkin instead of his second slice, not noticing he had until he put it into his mouth.
B'Elanna sat opposite him so saw the whole thing, she laughed as he pulled a face and tried to pretend he didn't do it.
They had chosen the closest table they could to the TV on the wall, which was quieter since it was the furthest from the buffet tables. Only one other table was occupied by a family with teens, every one of them glued to their phones.
Harry returned to their table with his plate, grumbling about something they couldn't hear. He sat down with an over the top sigh. "You'd think they'd never seen a broken nose before. So much for Newcastle being the rough party town."
B'Elanna shook her head, smirking all the while. She waited for him to pour some coffee into his cup. "Do you believe everything that Tom tells you?"
"What?" Harry scoffed, picking up his knife and fork.
"Is this a bad time to tell you that Captain Proton isn't a true story?" B'Elanna teased playfully.
Harry mockingly laughed as he spread something on his food. "It wasn't Tom. I picked that up on my own. You only have to look at Jess..."
"Jessie isn't from here. She told us that," B'Elanna said, clicking her tongue a couple of times. "And besides, you deserved it."
"Where is Jessie?" Craig asked before Harry could make a retort. He pouted about it.
"She said she had to go get something, ease her worries," B'Elanna replied.
Harry frowned, "I doubt she's off clothes shopping. We spent most of our money on this hotel." He started to eat his breakfast. His face soured further while he chewed, then reluctantly swallowed it. "Which wasn't much to begin with, clearly," he coughed.
Craig finally stopped looking at the TV to glance at his plate. His eyes widened in shock, "did you put chocolate spread on your omelette?"
"No, I put chocolate on my pancakes," Harry said as if Craig had said something dumb. Then he thought to check and sure enough if he was right. There was brown sludge spread across the clearly bacon and cheese omelette. "I think I should've had another cup before I went up," he gagged, reaching for his coffee.
Jessie approached the table with an uneasy look on her face while the others were laughing. A few folded newspapers were dumped on the table in front of the only spare seat, which she took reluctantly. B'Elanna eyed them curiously.
"Dare I ask?" she said, reaching for the one on the top.
Jessie yawned far longer than she expected. Her tired eyes then flickered to the TV. "Big surprise as to what's front page news today," she said.
Harry stared down at his plate as if to avoid her, he even looked away as well. Craig meanwhile did the opposite and turned to her. "And yet the news have barely made a peep. It's all the election now."
Jessie smiled weakly, he assumed out of relief. "Yeah, but it's still a big talking point on the Internet." Her face twisted into a cringe, "they weren't kidding about that cesspool. It's like a competition to see who is the most gross and right at the same time."
"You really should..." B'Elanna said, gesturing to the buffet. "It's got to last us, we've got very little cash left."
"I dunno, after that twit site I lost my appetite," Jessie said. She still got up somewhat reluctantly.
Once she was gone Harry looked up and frowned, "twit site?"
Craig sniggered, "close enough. Our friend Boss man is on it." He pushed the phone lying on the table to his teammates.
Harry picked it up first. "D. Boss. Strange A symbol, thegreatestevilofall. In a country where all your choices are akin to what flavour tea to get, I am coffee." He pulled a face. "What? Is he trying to provoke Janeway or something? That makes no sense."
"Character limit issues, probably," Craig said.
"What does it mean and what does D stand for, it's bothering me for some reason," Harry questioned. Something else about the page on the screen caught his annoyed attention. He stared at Craig accusingly. "Wait, you signed up to this?"
Craig looked at him as if he were stupid. "Well yeah. It's easier to keep track of him this way."
"You used your real name," Harry snapped. Craig's expression didn't falter. "What if some great influential person also called Craig Anderson is destined to spread his teachings using this site, contributing to world peace but now can't because some schmuck from the future is using the username he'd have picked?"
"I..." Craig started to squeak as his expression faded, "I put a fifteen on the end."
Harry flushed a bright red, aggravating his still sore cheeks. "Still!"
B'Elanna laughed at the pair. Jessie meanwhile returned to her chair with a bowl of cereal and a glass of juice, struggling not to yawn until her hands were free. That didn't work, it only lasted longer.
"You weren't up all night reading rubbish on this twit, were you?" B'Elanna asked.
"Yeah yeah, I know, I'm one track minded. You don't need to remind me," Jessie replied with a smidgen of irritation.
Craig smiled in her direction, eager to get the subject off him. "I take it no one's found him yet."
"No," Jessie said while shaking her head. "But I did find some stuff about this Boss guy. I thought it'd help so..."
"Please tell us you've found out where he lives," Harry said, still avoiding eye contact with her.
"Hush Mr Shooty," B'Elanna whispered. Harry huffily put his food to one side and got up to replace it. "I really owe this Boss a slap for Edgy Emo Harry alone."
The tiniest of smirks formed on Jessie's face, "yeah don't we all. Anyway Boss has a few crazies who follow him, real brainwashed cultists." Craig nodded having noticed that as well. "He's meanwhile made two statements, the one for the public and another on his video channel. The latter's a bit less, how do I put this?"
"Diplomatic?" Craig suggested.
Jessie made a few uncertain groans while pulling a few choice faces, "the public statement has him fueling fear about a terrorist group that he thinks James is in. Diplomatic isn't the one I'd use. The second statement is for his cult, telling them to hunt him down and video it. Luckily only a dozen saw it before it was blocked."
"Oh good, I suppose a website wouldn't want threats of violence on their servers," B'Elanna said.
"No, he used a clip from a TV theme song for his opening animation," Jessie said in deadpan.
B'Elanna's brow furrowed while her eyes darted around, rendered speechless, only managing an, "uh..."
"Yeah," Jessie laughed awkwardly. "It gets weirder. The evidence of him definitely being a wannabe super villain are all out there but no one cares. At most they treat him like a joke, like the black knight guy. Until yesterday he was a nobody, he hasn't been in any debates, leader polls, nothing. It's like he literally appeared in a poof of smoke and no one's batted an eye."
Craig quickly looked down at his own phone and tapped on it eagerly. "Black knight guy? This I gotta see."
"Normally I'd say we should be treating him like a joke too but, he managed to get this far despite... everything. We need to find him," B'Elanna said.
Harry returned with another plate, which he purposefully put down as loudly as he could. "Or he finds us."
Craig glanced up once more, "what?"
"Don't you remember? Janeway put us all in one team for a reason," Harry said.
"You mean as bait. We tried that, now we're minus one party member," Craig reminded him.
B'Elanna crossed her arms across the table, smiling between the two of them. "We need to get his, and only his attention. Why waste time looking for him and his hideout when he'd be more than willing to invite us."
Jessie hurriedly swallowed her last scoop of cereal so she could speak before anyone else, "how? Post a we are here post on his twitter?"
Craig looked like he was considering it until B'Elanna elbowed him in the arm. "No, something far more subtle than that. He can't know we're trying to get his attention after all."
Lilly woke up from her barely a nap in the uncomfortable airport seats to the smell of coffee. Through her foggy eyes she saw Kathryn approach with a cardboard tray holding four large cups. It didn't occur to her that one of the people she was with wouldn't want or needed it, she was just relieved to have something that'd keep her awake until boarding. Only Kathryn sat down and drank them all like they were glasses of water. Lilly's jaw dropped.
Seven of course wasn't surprised. "This is Janeway, cutting back." Lilly's jaw dropped even further.
"Well I'm sorry, after buying those tickets I didn't have that much money left," Kathryn sniped.
The Doctor shook his head, "I hope you remembered to add in flight meals. Without any money this what, ten hour trip is going to be uncomfortable."
"What?" Kathryn looked shocked. "How slow are these stupid things?"
Lilly recovered for the time being. She lowered her voice to a whisper to say, "it's okay, I've got enough to share." Seven nodded gratefully.
"What time's the flight again?" Kathryn asked. She fished some tickets out of her bag to check for herself, making a mental note of the 02:40 take off time. "With the time difference, we're not going to make it there in time. Great."
"What happened to oh Damien's not a threat, just laugh at his incompetence?" the Doctor asked.
Kathryn was too tired to scowl. "It's not him I'm worried about."
"Are you talking about your crewmember?" Lilly asked. She noticed Seven's demeanour flicker at the mention. Kathryn meanwhile was staring at her empty cups with concern, Lilly assumed because they were empty and she wasn't the only one. "I didn't peg you as a Captain who cared about their crew so much, you seemed a bit..."
"She is a bit," Seven commented, not put off by Kathryn's growl. "It depends on the crewmember in my experience."
"She's right. If it were her I would be giving them her file and asking to be on the firing squad," Kathryn said.
The Doctor tried to laugh it off. "The Captain has a tough facade. She does care." Kathryn laughed before trying to sip the drops left in the cups.
"If you say so. Maybe she's worried he's gonna screw up and get caught. Is that likely?" Lilly asked.
"James is... um, well, he's not really the sneaky type. Unless you're talking about him, then poof, he's there," the Doctor commented.
Lilly giggled at the image. Seven though was a little irritated by it, "he's a brute. It's no wonder he's the one in this situation."
Kathryn rolled her eyes, "oh, are you still whining about that? If I punch you will you change the channel for once?"
"Very well. Your daughter is equally as bad, if not worse," Seven said a little too smugly.
Kathryn sat up to turn around and gesture the tickets at the people sitting behind her, "does anyone want this bimbo's ticket? Free ticket to England." They looked at her with annoyed stares since she had woken them up. "Oh, sorry," she said genuinely.
"I wonder..." Lilly sighed. The Doctor and Seven looked at her curiously. "Sorry, I was thinking about my friend. Will I find her with Damien, or did they take her back to the island?"
"We'll find her," Kathryn said, turning back to face them. Lilly looked on in surprise. "If he's using her to get to you, she won't be far away."
The massive car pulled into an empty car park for what looked to James like a pub, sitting in the middle of nowhere on top of some hills. He left the engine running until he noticed the sign confirming that, then he pulled the vehicle further forward to park it at the side of the building. Making sure first that no one was around, he stepped out and quietly shut the door behind him. The heavy thing still made some noise, even though he left it partly ajar, worrying him into checking his surroundings again.
James walked around to the back of the car to open the boot. He checked again to make sure no one was watching him before he reached in to grab what was there.
Unfortunately for him it was a second too early. A young brunette girl unlocked the front door of the building to step outside, carrying a few empty glass bottles and an unopened energy drink can. When she went to dump the bottles by the door she noticed him and the tail end of the car. She shrugged it off at first to start her break with the can in her hand. It wouldn't be the first time the regulars came before opening, hoping she'd let them in five minutes before. Not that she ever would.
However in the corner of her eye she noticed him take something large out of the boot. A theory popped up into her head which made her smile, but she figured it was just wishful thinking. Still she sneaked a look, expecting it to be something benign like his coat or something. A smirk spread across her face when her imagined scenario turned out to be accurate. The previous owner of the car had been left, slumped against the side wall while James went to close the boot.
The girl couldn't help herself, she was grinning from ear to ear having caught something like this in the act. "You know..." she said. James glanced at her quickly, clearly startled as he hadn't heard anything. "I have a shovel in the back."
James looked at her a little blankly, only his eyes still showed the shock. "What?"
"You forget to bring one?" the girl asked, trying to peep around him. "Is this your first time?"
"Um," James wasn't sure what was happening, he assumed she was attempting to stall him. He crept backwards, one slow step at a time. "My friend er, started early. Stressful day."
The girl's eyes narrowed for a moment, then quickly her whole face brightened, "oh you're that guy, from the news." James struggled to think of an answer on the spot, luckily she wasn't done. "He's not dead," she said accusingly.
James' shock was fading into a one of confusion, his eyes shifted to one side while he tried to figure her out. "No. I never said he was, and that's a bad thing?"
"No," the girl sounded disappointed, which didn't help. "Let me guess, that's his car. You smacked him around for it but then thought, uhoh I can't leave him or they'd be onto me."
James groaned, mentally berating himself for getting caught so easily, "so much for the too drunk to believe idea."
The girl laughed and waved him off, "that would never work, how daft are you?" She walked off into the building before James could even stop her. He darted for the car, and had barely time to put the keys in the ignition when she came back out with a pint glass full of liquid. She tossed it over the slumped over guy, leaving him drenched in what James could smell even from the car as lager. "There!"
"Um," was all James could respond with, frozen on the spot.
The girl put the glass down beside the still unconscious guy and walked over to the car. James was still a little shocked so didn't react right away to her opening the passenger door to climb inside until she grabbed the seatbelt. Then he looked at her and put his hand out as a hint to stop. "What are you doing? What's happening right now?"
"Duh!" she scoffed, slapping his hand with a disgusted look on her face. "You're an enemy of that know it all Boss prat, right? I owe that asshole a sawing or two."
James' hand twitched slightly, hesitating for a few seconds as her comment threw him even further off. It eventually lowered to the handbrake and hovered there instead. "Who are you?"
"Do I have to?" the girl complained, twisting her face, all while clicking the seatbelt closed.
"What? Yes," James stammered as he pressed the button on the belt to release it again. Then he gestured to her car door.
"Fine!" she huffed. "I'm Emma. Your turn since I saved your butt."
James was about to object but saw the guy starting to rouse. With a heavy sigh he decided to drive away even with his unintended replacement passenger. "Aren't you a little young to be at the pub?" he improvised.
"Gotta do something to pay the bills," Emma shrugged, then scowled at him. "Hey, I bailed you out. I don't get a name?"
"All you're getting is dropped off at the nearest town. I'm already on the receiving end of a witchhunt as it is, kidnapping a kid..." James mumbled, getting more worried by the second.
"I'm not..." Emma protested.
Though James wasn't done, his trail of thought got derailed as soon as he said kid, "bills? You're what, fifteen. Why do you need to worry about that?"
Emma looked despondent, "that happens when you're dumped, all alone, with no way home because they haven't invented space travel yet. It sucks."
"You're from the future," James said, keeping the final word too in the back of his mind.
"You could say that," Emma smiled awkwardly.
James had second thoughts on his destination. He noticed a junction to the right and turned off there instead of going straight on towards civilisation. Emma looked at him, puzzled. "He brought you here, on purpose or accidentally like I was?"
"Definitely purpose. It wasn't me he was after though, I just got caught up in it," Emma replied bitterly. "You'll be here for a reason too. There's no accidentally about it."
"If he wanted to be assaulted, we could've stayed in our time and made a day out of it," James said.
Emma sniggered, picturing what he said. "You're going after him, right?"
James thought about it briefly, sighing, "I don't know." Emma looked disappointed with that answer. "He's not going to win any election, and there's got to be more to it than that. I can't help feeling I'm missing something. Besides, people are looking for me, throwing them off has been my first priority."
"Alice," Emma said, puzzling him further. He sharply looked at her and back. "The registration plate's private, probably the car's name. Saddo." James cringed, muttering of course to himself. "One phone call to the police and they'll be on your tail again."
James slowed the car and pulled to the curb so he could stop. Emma didn't look too happy about it.
"Uh, maybe we can ditch it somewhere else, not in the middle of nowhere?" she stuttered.
James didn't answer her, he got straight out of the car, leaving the engine running and the door open. He disappeared around the back of the car. Emma thought about climbing into his seat to take over the driving but he passed by while she was still taking off the seatbelt, tossing a bit of metal onto the empty chair on his way to the front of the car. Something metallic groaned, the front of the car wobbled briefly, then he returned to the door again with a second exact same sized piece. Before he sat back down he picked the first one up to hand both pieces to her. That was when she realised what they were; long and metallic thin strips with AL1C3 written on them.
Emma started to stammer a bit, a little shocked that he did that. "No licence plates at all?"
"For the moment," James said nonchalantly. The door shut and they were soon away again, but not for long. A few yards down the road they turned into an industrial estate car park.
TO BE CONTINUED
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