Phantoms

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Terminus
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Phantoms

Post by Terminus » Mon Jul 06, 2020 5:58 pm

TerminOS v3.3.3
Now Playing: Midge Ure- The Man Who Sold the World.

Armor Model: Terminus.
Active Module: None.

Pilot: Pendragon, Nicolas.
System Status: Offline.


So, Predator X was on Earth. This Earth. Or at least, she had been. She'd come to make an appeal to the Society for aid, and they had taken her up on it. Nicolas hardly approved, considering there were ways to provide humanitarian relief that didn't involve working alongside a terrorist and mass murderer. But that wasn't the point. He didn't need to get into an argument with the Society's leadership, because he was no longer affiliated with them.

He had his own team, and they could make moves of their own. If X was still on this world, she had to be found and eliminated. If possible, a nonlethal approach would be ideal. There was little proof that another universe existed, but if the Front Line could capture one of its inhabitants and put them on trial, it would both legitimize that narrative, and allow the survivors of the St. Louis attack some closure.

In order to locate the Predator, Nicolas would need more advanced equipment. He hadn't moved everything from his personal lab to the Skywatch facility, out of concerns for the security of his more dangerous tech. Given that travel between the two locations was near-instantaneous thanks to the Junction room, it was an easy call to make. So he returned to Terminal, after having been on Earth almost exclusively for several weeks.

Unfortunately, he wouldn't be venturing from the lab on this visit. Pendragon summoned Sam, his AI assistant, which operated much of the machinery both of this lab, and the Skywatch Tower.

"Can you fire up the harmonic resonance scanner? Don't just limit it to Earth- X has better tech than anyone else on her planet. She could be hiding out in a dead orbit somewhere, broadcasting remotely."

The device still had the resonant frequency of the 'Divergent Earth,' acquired from scans of Revolt, while she'd made her residence on this world. Thinking of that made Nicolas frown. Her status was still unknown- with wounds that severe, death was likely. But she was also possessed of incredible resolve. If anyone could have survived being injured that badly, it was her.

"Roger that."

There was no indication the device was being activated- at least, not one that could be detected by conventional human senses. It was a curious mechanism, one that Pendragon had felt quite clever while designing. In essence, it worked like echolocation. Send out a pulse keyed to a particular resonant vibrational frequency, and wait for it to hit something. When it did, it would 'bounce back' to the device, and give the approximate location of whatever it had hit.

Since there were precious few items in any universe that hadn't originated there, it was easy to use. You were unlikely to hit more than one thing at a time- in this case, Predator X was the only known living being in this universe who had come from a different one. If she was still in this universe, of course. The scanner would have to cover quite a wide area to make sure she wasn't hiding out in the vast reaches of space, but the pulse moved at speeds approaching the speed of light, so there was almost no waiting period.

Still, Terminus had time to make himself a cup of coffee before the results came in. He'd equipped the cafeteria at Skywatch with the best coffee machines Earth had to offer, but they still didn't measure up to what could be had on Terminal. He was of half a mind to simply take this machine and install it in his office there, but that was likely going a little too far. Too many people would be coming into that office, and seeing it in a place of honor by his desk would make them think he was some kind of caffeine addict.

Well...

Just as Nicolas was coming dangerously close to admitting he had a problem, there was a pleasant chime, informing him that the machine had finished its scan. He didn't stop pouring milk into his cup, instead waiting for Sam to inform him of the results.

"Just one ping, boss. But it's not on Earth, or anywhere nearby. It's in this lab."

"What?"

Pendragon let go of the cup- which had been on a flat surface, thankfully -and whirled around, the Terminus 3.0 armor encasing him in an instant. Hardly an overreaction, given Sam had essentially just told him the call was coming from inside the house. But even with the armor's advanced sensor suite scanning his lab for intruders, he found nothing.

"Sorry. It's not X. It's, uh..."

Not yet ready to deactivate the armor, Terminus held out a palm, the energy cannon glowing blue, ready to fire the moment something moved. If it wasn't X, who? Jake, maybe? The man had managed to send a signal across the universal divide. Maybe he'd managed to transport himself, as well.

"I didn't program you to fucking stutter, Sam. Who is it?"

The AI sighed.

"It's Hector."

Pendragon slowly turned towards the corner of the lab where the stasis pod stood. Michael Carter's shield, the Aegis, was still protecting it, a translucent white field extending from the surface of the paracausal bulwark. And inside, Nick's best friend. The man Capacitor had tried to kill. Comatose, but slowly recovering. Right?

Slowly, several things clicked into place.

"Revolt wanted to bring him along when we made the attack. She came by to talk to him, before we left. She had him wrapped up in her eso- exoterium sheath, when she brought him in."

The answer was obvious. Like a machine that wouldn't start until you fitted the last part into place, it became clear in an instant. The man in that pod wasn't Hector. Never had been. At least, not any Hector that Nicolas had ever met. Revolt had brought hers over, entrusted him to Pendragon, and been forced to leave him behind when she returned.

There were a umber of implications to this revelation. First- Invictus had been wrong. He'd put his shield on that pod intending to heal a member of the Great Society. At least, that was what Nicolas had assumed. But... maybe not. This Hector had been dead. And the Aegis was... restoring him to life, it seemed. Resurrection was something Hector Williams was known for, at least in this world. Carter wouldn't have granted him a second chance without reason. But that didn't mean he'd made a mistake. Just that he'd had a different purpose in mind than what Pendragon had guessed.

Hell, Revolt needed him to help take on Surgath. Maybe that's why.

Second- this was a bargaining chip. Revolt needed Hector. Her entire world did. And Nicolas had him. That had been the case before, too. But even more so, now. Trying to blackmail her planet with the one man who could help save it wasn't very heroic, but... if it became necessary, they could. Something to discuss with Novak. The man knew how to make deals, and he could be as ruthless as anyone, if the situation called for it.

Third, and most important- the real Hector Williams wasn't here. He had been in Alaska, of that Nicolas was reasonably certain. And he'd been taken, along with Capacitor, after Surgath's defeat. At some point, Revolt had switched out the genuine article with this counterfeit. Most likely, that meant the government still had him. So...

"Sam. Prep the Phantom. I need to pay Doctor West a visit."

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