A Fistful of Destiny - Part Three
"I can smell the future," Kate said.
Buba felt Lisya as she shifted next to him and glanced toward her. Her eyebrows were raised, but she said nothing else. Smell the future? Okay. He looked back at Kate, slightly puzzled. "And they laugh at you for that?" He couldn't understand why any kind of power, even smelling the future, would be criticized. In his world there were no such things as gifts like these, as far as he knew. So anyone that might have one would be highly looked upon. Maybe here in a world with so many gifts, the greater the gift the greater the person. Someone like Lisya might be more prestigious with her overwhelming power while someone like Kate would be in a lower class. He didn't know.
"They claim it's useless," Kate replied. "Like so many of the people I've talked to, we are put down because our gifts from the gods are so pathetic that they aren't even considered gifts. More like flukes." She sighed softly, running her fingers through her bright red hair. It was probably an innocent action, might even be a long forgotten habit, but Buba noticed. When she did it, it made her look very attractive in his eyes. It took him a moment to realize Kate was talking still. "You know?"
His skin brightened considerably. "Uh..." But that was the least of his problems, in his confusion of having missed the question, he glanced toward Lisya for some help but Lisya was frowning at him. Suddenly he found himself in a very bad situation.
"I'm going to bed," Lisya said sharply.
Kate watched her go, then turned back to Buba. "Something I said?"
What just happened? Judging from Lisya's reaction, something not good, not good at all. Huh? That has never happened before. Buba was at a loss to explain this sudden change. Had he done something wrong? There was a deep ache in the pit of his stomach as he watched Lisya walk away nearly at a jog. Somehow he'd managed to hurt her; he wasn't so dense as to not know that. But how?
As soon as Lisya disappeared through the splintered door of the inn, he turned back to Kate. It was too late, though. She had walked away also. What a mess.
Fried circuitry didn't do much for the olfactory organ. Brand's nose hairs singed at the baked computer chips as he wildly waved his left hand around and tried to clear away the white plumes of smoke lazily reaching for the ceiling. Down the hall, the echoing foot steps of heavy boots grew louder as the approaching force was no doubt following their nose directly to Brand's cell. Surely execution was not one of the options these soldiers used to deal with attempted escapees.
"Dammit!" Brand hissed, far more loudly than he intended.
"They aren't coming this way," Miranda called through the wall.
Brand jerked his head toward the right wall, eyeing it suspiciously. But, sure enough, she was right. Just when all hope was lost, the echoes started to fade as the foot steps passed on, not bothering to take a detour by Brand's box.
He slipped off his cot and knelt down next to the wall. "Hey, sorry about before. Didn't mean to be rude."
"Any idea what this place is?" Brand asked.
"Some kind of research installation."
Obvious much? Brand rolled his eyes, his forehead coming to rest against the wall. "Why are you here?"
"Same as anyone else," Miranda replied. "Everyone here has some kind of special ability and these fine folks want to know how those abilities work. Now it's my turn. What did you mean when you told them you were from their world? I thought you were the Wielder. Not so much impressed, mind you, I just gathered that much from listening."
Not so much impressed? Now who's being rude? Brand had half a mind to lay into this woman, but a voice in the back of his head hammered away, telling him to mind himself. It was the voice of the first Wielder, echoing words spoken to Brand in a dream. Just because you are the Wielder doesn't mean you can function in this world alone. Consider everyone a potential ally and a potential enemy. So instead, he held his tongue. She was probably just scared and trying her best to deal with that fear while putting on a brave face, Brand thought. Then he said, "I am, to both questions."
"This must truly be the final days, then."
Final days? Oh, right. The end of their world, the beginning of mine. No, wait. That's from some t.v. show. Brand's brow creased in thought as he leaned up against the wall. Something about bringing this world to its end before returning home to stop the influence of this land from spreading. Whatever that meant. Brand wished about then that he had paid more attention. But, maybe that's why he had friends. They could pay attention and keep him on track. Right?
"So tell me what these people are," Miranda said. "If they're from your world, you must recognize them."
"Dunno. Soldiers of some kind. This could be an army base. Government maybe? I'm always reading about conspiracies and shit. I guess it's possible my government is running experiments in your world. Why, though?"
"What's it like?"
"Huh? Corrupted, evil depends on who you ask. Supposedly we elect our offic-"
"Not the government. Your world."
"Oh," Brand said. He chuckled. "About the same."
It was about then that Brand realized his entire arm had started to burn as it awoke from a deep sleep. He leaned back from the wall, trying with much will power to raise his arm. Each try produced greater results, until he was finally able to lift it level with his shoulder. The wild fire burning madly in his muscles began to ease up while his arm became more and more responsive.
"Sword?" Brand whispered, not wanting Miranda to overhear.
"What!" Sword shouted. So much for Miranda not hearing.
"Who was that?" Miranda asked.
"Quiet!" Brand hissed at his arm. "Sorry, clearing my throat."
He moved over to the left wall, frowned as he remembered someone was in there, too, then made his way to the middle of the cell and plopped down. As if that was putting much distance between any of them in this tiny enclosed space.
"What kind of mess have you gotten us into now, Brandy?" Sword asked. At least this time it got some sense and lowered its booming voice to a whisper.
"You tell me. Where have you been?"
"When you're unconscious, I'm unconscious. Duh."
"I wasn't unconscious. My arm was just number than hell."
If Sword could shake its head, Brand no doubt believed it would be right now. "Impossible. Your arm is untouchable with my protection. I think you're mistaken."
"No time to argue about that now. We need to get out of here. Can you still see, or whatever it is you do, through the actual sword?"
"What's happening to it right-"
Brand was floored, quite literally. His entire body jerked back, his head bouncing off the hard concrete floor. As stars danced in his field of vision, his eyes closed. But he couldn't tell the difference.
Brand found himself surrounded by men and women all wearing white coats, the kind you'd find on doctors and scientists. There was something wrong with what he was seeing though; the angle was askew, as if he were on his side and looking straight ahead from about five feet off the ground. Behind the scientists (Brand decided), a door stood, flanked on either side by armed soldiers in green.
There were voices, too. Brand strained to hear what was being said. "...solutely fascinating. The metal is completely foreign to our world. But, get this, it's completely foreign to this world, as well."
"How's that possible?"
"It doesn't originate here?"
"Calm down, people. One thing at a time."
"This has to be the greatest find. We've been looking for some kind of cross-contamination between worlds and I believe this proves that theory."
"You wish. Just because it's foreign doesn't mean it's not from this world. It just means they haven't found the source yet."
"Will you get over yourself?"
"We've mapped this-"
"Please. We are just as likely to miss something as anyone else."
"What about the man that we found it on?"
"Sorry, Sorry. What about 790309? It claims to come from our world."
"You'd do well to remember the rules, doctor. If one of them speaks, ignore it. You would not believe a Neanderthal if it told you it was smart, would you?"
Suddenly, Brand's vision blurred. A moment later, he opened his eyes and found himself once again surrounded by that disturbingly small cell. For the longest time, he just lay there staring up at the single light buried deep in the ceiling. While it was pretty obvious he had been looking through the sword, his mind was still trying to wrap around what he'd witnessed and heard. Not so much the actual sights and sounds, more... the interpretation of the sights and sounds, for what he saw and what his mind transformed it into were two totally different things. It was like being bombarded with a million different images and sounds, but of course his mind couldn't compute that, so it whittled the stimuli down into a single, moving picture that he was more able to comprehend. Even now, thinking back at the whole experience, his mind was getting hazy. The words spoken were there, but he couldn't place faces to them anymore, nor could he even get a clear distinction between the different voices.
"Sword?" Brand said weakly.
"Is that how it always is for you?"
"Hell no. It's much simpler for me. Your puny little mind is so archaic in design that there's no possible way you'd ever begin to understand the nature of what is available to me."
Idly, Brand briefly wondered what kind of insanity had overcome him when he'd actually wished Sword would talk to him.
"Go away, Ben."
Buba took a step back from Lisya's door and sighed. While the temptation to knock again was great, he didn't. She wanted to be alone; who was he to intrude on that? That ache in his stomach had spread to his heart. It hurt him severely to see Lisya upset. He loved her dearly. He knew her so well, more so than he'd ever known any woman and now here she was, pulling away from him because of something he had done.
But what had he done?
Buba turned to the sound of the voice. It was Greg. And he was holding his menacing knife. "I want my car back," he said. "And I want it back now."
Now was not the time for this. Buba pulled at his beard, still uncomfortable with it but more uncomfortable with the idea of shaving with a hunting knife. This guy, Greg, he was a mystery sure enough. Not the kind of mystery Buba was all too concerned with figuring out though. "We'll get it back. Just relax," Buba said, his eyes remaining firmly locked on Greg's. He wasn't about to let the knife control this situation.
"Are you deaf as well as retarded?"
"That's right. I called you a big ol' ugly retard." Greg rambled on, the words were lost on Buba. Nothing was able to penetrate the pounding in his head, the shear will he exterted trying not to lash out at Greg was staggering. A few words managed to get through. "...stupid...retard-o-rama...shit-for-brains..." Every word drove Buba into a deeper and deeper rage. It was a rage he rarely knew and a rage he'd come to regret, but a rage he found he had no control over.
Given normal circumstances, Buba might have been able to control the fury that was inside of him at that moment. There had been times in the past, times when he was younger, when such words would drive him into the madness but in more recent years he'd been able to suppress the desire to push his fist through the speaker's face. Now, however, was quite possibly not the best choice of times to try this. Buba was already worked up over slighting Lisya and this added on top of that was explosive.
Without thought, the vicious rage inside of Buba unleashed itself. He stormed at Greg without a worry in the world. The knife was invisible to his mind and he was on autopilot.To be continued...