Autor Thema: What If... (Sequel to "Reloaded")  (Gelesen 1045 mal)

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What If... (Sequel to "Reloaded")
« am: 2. November 2015, 15:48:42 Uhr »
... a story I just couldn´t resist to do. What if the leech from „Dr. Thomas A. Richards Reloaded“ had not brought them back into their own dimension but another and even weirder version? So bring out your history books because you might need them...



On Paul´s three-dimensional map of world-wide major breaches which he h´d got from the leech this one looked like situated somewhere in the U.S., so Tom wasn´t too worried when they came out of the biologically created wormhole that connected the two dimensions and he found that he couldn´t see a familiar landmark while hovering about a mile above ground. The dimensional bridge behind them collapsed with an audible sucking noise, and they all knew that it would never be activated again because the leech had promised them to seal up this breach behind them after they had crossed over. Tom wasn´t worried at all because all it took was a single teleport back to Washington, and that was the end of this weird voyage which had taken them to a parallel dimension´s version of their own home world. He +blinked+ -

and almost ran into a very strange kind of aircraft. Only a second hasty +blink+ saved them from going splat all over its windscreens.
“Damn, what was that?” Fox exclaimed. Azure had not blinked far away, for reasons of safety he confined emergency jumps to a minimum distance, and so they all still could see the strange plane nimbly humming away.
“I´ve never seen something like that,” Fox said, and Wylie added: “It looks like a movie prop. Like something out of a steampunk fantasy. Is that an advertising campaign for a new movie?” 
“Well, whatever it is, we won´t land on the same airport.” Azure´s sharp dragon eyes made out the faces of curious and startled passengers behind the plane´s round windows. The craft was a prop-plane, the unusual low noise of its motors told of good noise reduction - or of motors that used ´free energy´, and Tom Richards knew that those weren´t invented yet in this time, they wouldn´t enter production before the end of World War Three.
“But where are we? This is D.C., there´s the Washington Monument, the White House and there´s the Lincoln Memorial, but - look at those buildings!” And Wylie pointed downwards. They all saw what he meant - all the buildings down there that were considered old didn´t look different, but everything else that has been built in about the last fifty years had changed radically, if it was there at all. And Azure´s keen eyes saw even more, the transports on the streets that looked like nothing he´d ever seen, as well as the garb of the people.
“Either they´re having a huge steampunk party and redecorated the place, or we aren´t back in our dimension. Firebird´s dimension didn´t look like this either!”
Azure +blinked+ - and they were above another part of the town area. Lyonshome Manor didn´t look different for human eyes, but that was probably because all the buildings were older than fifty years too.
“Paul, look at all those defenses! I can´t land there, we´d get flash-fried if I tried. I never did such shields in our world, but they definitely are the work of a high-level M-Tec. Whoever´s living here seems to be in need of heavy defenses, even more than I am in our dimension.”
“You think we aren´t back at all.”
“Yes I do. No telling right now if it was my fault, that of the leech or somebody else´s. But first of all we need a place to stay and get new bearings. A quiet place with a library of sorts, preferrably, so we can find out what went wrong here - and when, because this parallel dimension seems to be older than the one before, it looks like it separated from ours somewhen around the Thirties.” 
“No visiting of the Firebird of here, or whatever he calls himself?”
“Right now he can´t feel me because I´m in my dragon form, and I´d like to know what we face here before I´ll meet with him. Suggestions, anybody?”
Wylie had an idea, a place in a quiet, rural area he remembered from visiting when he was a kid which had some remarkable natural landmarks that wouldn´t have changed much with time, not even in another dimension. He gave on his memories of the place, and Azure +blinked+.
The real settlement was a bit smaller than Wylie remembered, since some of the newer houses were missing - or rather, never got built in this world. To avoid attention, Azure steered towards a street that led through the woods at some distance from the next buildings and landed there. He waited until Wylie had taken some necessities out of the glovebox in the wide saddlehorn and they all had dismounted, and then he transformed himself back to human form. He knew that they wouldn´t have to walk far to the next motel which was situated next to the street they were walking on because he´d seen a sign from above.
They enjoyed stretching their legs in the warm evening air after the ride, but just when they came within sight of the motel, a car came from behind, a policecar from the looks of it, and again the car didn´t look quite like what they were used to. Their group seemed suspicious,  with two men in dark business suits, one in casual wear and one in visibly expensive threads, all of them strangers but no car in sight which could have brought them here from the next town.
“Good evening, gentlemen,” one of the officers greeted them after they had stopped some meters ahead of them and got out of their car. “A nice time for a walk, isn´t it?”
“Yes it is,” Fox immediately answered. As the oldest of the group he happily took the lead, leaving especially Tom free to do whatever would be needed in the next minutes of their first contact with this world´s natives.
“It feels nice to stretch our legs a bit after our transport dropped us off. I hope our luggage´s already at the motel.” He pointed forward where the building lay, still hidden behind the trees.
“My idea to squat there tonight, officers,” Wylie added, “I stayed a few times here when I was little and remembered the place. I just loved this part of the street with all the trees, city plant that I was.”
“Where do you come from, gentlemen?” the officer asked on.
“Washington originally, and we intend to return there on the morrow, officer.” Fox answered quite honestly.
“Weren´t there four of you just a moment ago?” the officer asked, suspiciously.
Fox didn´t turn his head. If the officers counted only three of them, it was because Tom had probably made himself invisible - well, almost invisible, either by using the so-called quick-time to hide wherever he found a place to hide from sight, or because of a matrixpowered trick that created an almost-perfect concealing field around him, which would work flawless in the dim evening light beneath the trees right now.   
“Yes there were. Good evening, gentlemen,” a voice saved Fox from coming up with a believable answer. And suddenly there he was, right behind the officers. How he got there - his companions had no idea.
The cops turned around, a bit startled because they suddenly got adressed from behind.
“Sir!” Suddenly they looked very pale, and it wasn´t just from the fading light. “We didn´t know... Mr. President!“
And to the huge surprise of Tom and the others they saluted, with quite stiff movements which the visitors didn´t know if they came from excitement or sheer fright.
“President?” made not only Wylie´s mouth, but silent only, they felt too stunned to make a single sound. Tom´s own crew stared at him now too. President... of this country, or of something else?
“Well, looks like somebody knows me here,” Tom said. Now he knew for sure that they were not back in their own dimension but another one. The leech had made a mistake with that tiny leech brain of it, and by now it was gone for good, their only way home into their own dimension disappeared forever... damn it! But then, suddenly, Tom looked upwards into the darkening sky, alarmed by something only he could sense --
The others of his crew noticed, and remembered.
“He felt it?” Wylie asked, finding his voice again.
“Hmm-hmm,” Tom nodded, not to give them away to the cops as long as he didn´t know what exactly was going on here.  But, if his version of here was just as reasonable as the one in the dimension before --
Blue fire from his cane engulfed him, and then he suddenly zipped upwards, into the colorful evening sky where he soon disappeared from sight because he had dosed down the light emission of his protecting ´flight bubble´.
Fox sighed audibly, turned his head and looked first at his crew, then at the baffled cops who were still gazing upwards. “Nothing to do but to wait for his return. We might as well use the time to check in now, there´s no telling when he´ll be back.”
“We´re sorry, sir,” the one cop repeated towards agent Fox. “We didn´t know you were with him. Of course we´ll assist you in every way we can.”
Fox nodded as if he just took this for granted.
“But, if you´ll please excuse my boldness, are you his only retinue, or will be more coming? Should we call for reinforcements to close the place off?”
Fox shook his head and sighed again. “He likes to travel light if he can afford it, without huge entourage and all the ballyhoo. If he goes somewhere incognito he has good reason, he will try to stay that way as long as he sees fit, and that´s all you will get from us. So don´t make a fuss now, is that understood?”
That was already much more than agent Fox would have spilled a few years ago, especially in an uncertain situation like this, but one thing he´d learned from Tom was that a bit of information placed at the right spot could save you a lot of trouble you´d certainly get later in dealing with unwanted rumors. Knowing his Tom Richards by now, he guessed the +here+ version wasn´t so different from his own in characteristics and behavior, making his actions predictable.
 

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Re: What If... (Sequel to "Reloaded")
« Antwort #1 am: 5. November 2015, 13:31:39 Uhr »
“Actually, there´s something you could do for me, officer. Would you borrow me a Dollar bill, one that´s not too worn? I´m not quite sure but I might have caught myself a forged one at our last stop and want to check it,” Wylie said.
Quick thinking there, Fox didn´t say but from his small smile the others could see he approved of Wylie´s trick. `Tricky Dick´, Adolf Hitler... or somebody else? ...
Of course the cop was willing to obliege and handed a bill to the agent, and Wylie took one from his own wallet - no need to compare them first to each other because he knew them all to be valid in their own home dimension - and started to compare carefully. Material, motif, color, then the smaller details of the print... when he had made sure that at least the ´right´ president was on the bill and at first glance nothing seemed to be different, he took the risk of handing both bills to the officer to hear his opinion. “If it´s forged it´s fine work,” the officer finally said after checking, “I´d think it´s genuine. But our lab might have other ideas...“
„No, it´s okay, we have a lab of our own, if something´s fishy about this bill they will find out. I just thought there´s something different about it.” He handed back the cop´s bill and carefully pocketed his own, but not back in his wallet, that would have been too suspicious for the police officer. He didn´t look at Fox but now they all three knew that they would be able to pay for their stay at the motel at least. If they had to pay at all and could not rely on this dimension´s ´President´s´ wallet or on Tom´s synthetical diamonds... 
At the motel, Fox rented and got an appartment for the four of them. The receptionist smirked when the agent told him the name of the still missing fourth man since Tom had not yet returned by now, but the name Tom Richards was in wide use in English-speaking countries,  so it surely would be simply a coincidence, even if two of the three men looked like government agents of some sorts with their dark suits and Officer Williams had seen them in... but a president surely wouldn´t check in at a common motel with no more than three men with him and no luggage or transports at all, or would he?
First thing the agents did then was to help themselves to as many newspaper as they could find, and to turn on the TV in their appartment to get the news. The TV set was somehow different from the ones they were used to, but it was Paul who pointed out the most important difference to them. “It has another number of rows of light signals in each picture,” he explained to them, “when Tom took Scott and me with him to Germany for that treasure-hunt I noticed the same difference. This set here has the German PAL standard, it´s not an NTSC as ours.”
“Figures,” said Wylie who had checked the first newspapers and now presented them what he´d found. One Thomas A. Richards was indeed president in this dimension, but not of the United States. “Well, I´ll be damned,” Fox said, and the others could only agree. Because even Paul knew enough about Earth history by now to understand the meaning of Wylie´s discovery.
“I wonder what takes him so long,” Wylie said after some  minutes of silently thinking. “He might be already in a German KZ for all we´d know...”
They looked at each other. Damn, they definitely didn´t wish for it, but in this world they had to be ready for anything...
But to their huge relief shortly after they heard a short rapping on the window, and then Tom´s voice: “Open up, it´s me!”
The man getting into their room, half leaping and half hovering through the opened window looked like a stranger with a broad, bearded face and short-cropped brown hair, cheap clothing which didn´t add with the expensive-looking oldfashioned silver cane of Tom Richards in his hand, but as soon as he was inside and the curtains were closed the strange image disappeared and revealed the blond, long-haired and handsome person who called himself Thomas A. Richards the Third. He had used a camouflage shield to change his appearance not to draw unnecessary attention, and avoided the door of the appartment which was in sight of the administrative building from where the receptionist of the motel could see who entered or left.
“What took you so long?” Fox asked immediately.
Tom showed a short smile while sitting on a couch with a somehow exhausted looking move. The others sat down, too, waiting to hear his tale. „You know you can exchange information in a telepathic rapport really fast, the experiences  of a whole lifetime in about ten minutes, but it turned out my other me here has been really busy in the last decades, so it took us a while longer.” He looked at the newspapers and magazines which lay scattered on the floor and almost every flat surface of the room, anything Wylie had managed to borrow, buy or to salvage from the garbage bins of the motel. Many of the headlines were clearly speaking for themselves.
“You will remember I told you before, if I had seen my own era of the future unworthy to exist I would have messed with history for good, changing it in every way I saw fit if just for the sake of scientific curiosity. Well, this was the case here. This dimension here is not an almost identical dimension of ours as the last one was, it´s different in many ways, and my twin believes it´s because of machinations of the Unknown Enemy. Our original of here found the stargate and later the time machine, yes, but under very different circumstances, so it was foregone conclusion for my twin to change as much as he could. He didn´t waste his breath in the medieval, though, he knew that the twentieth century would hold the best chance for him to go for power. He used the time before and after the first world war to build up a stronghold in Germany, and in 1933, after the Reichskristallnacht in which Hitler and his ilk showed their true colors, he killed the bastards and took over. No, there has been no holocaust in this dimension.” Again a smile, he could read the other´s thoughts there even without trying telepathy. „He made it quite clear, even bashed some heads in for it, that he wouldn´t allow any racial or religious or gender-related discriminations as long as he ruled. There has been a World War Two, but it was a ´war light´, one could say. Hitler wasn´t the only predator in Europe´s henhouse, you know, and Stalin had about the same plans for world domination as the little freak from Braunau. Again, my twin let his enemy do the first step of aggression to have an excuse for striking back, and then he dispatched Stalin and his leading communists in a chirurgical operation which left the country, its people and most of its governmental structures intact. The Romanovs tried to get back in power in Russia after but failed, my twin wouldn´t let them return the country to the not so good times of feudalism. Some smaller countries like Austria, the Netherlands and their like are now part of Greatern Germany, they got assimilated quite unbloody, the other bigger European nations like France, Spain and Italy are members of an structure similar to our European Union with quasidemocratic rulers who rule at the mercy of my twin only, if they do wrong or become overconfident enough to try something stupid he´ll simply replace them with somebody more malleable. Both Franco and the Duce shared Hitler´s fate, but not from my twin´s hand, they had enough enemies in their own countries eager to do the deed. Poland and Czechoslovakia took the brunt of Stalin´s aggression when he tried to get at Germany because the Prussian border in the north turned out too heavily defended. They are now protectorates of Greatern Germany, but again, he dispatched only parts of their governments which turned out too reactionary or self-centered and power-hungry, the rest including especially their intellectuals he left not only intact but encouraged them to work towards a better future. He also took care that the Sovjet Union got a democratic government which takes care especially of the re-education of the people there, taking them away both from the mistakes of communism and the earlier medieval system of feudalism and royalism and taking them into the twentieth century. He won´t allow the Tsars to come back to Russia and resume the old medieval system of rich, feasting nobility and clergy and poor and starving lower class. So, right now all of Europe is quite prosperous and peaceful. The number of good men and women this Hitler couldn´t waste in the war he used for something else instead, like sending them away as settlers to South America. Countries like Argentina, Brazil and Chile can be counted as German colonies today, but since Germans are a prosperous lot and no strangers to hard work they were quite welcomed there and those countries are thriving because of them. The United States are in good shape too, though much weaker in the military field because they never had to fight the Huns, there has never been a D-Day here, and the war with Japan got defused by courtesy of my other me, who by the way was never an ally of Japan here. When the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor they couldn´t sink the ´Arizona´ in port because it had already left, armed and ready for battle together with the other ships, and the Japs took quite a beating back then. And once again my twin did his trick, using the unprovoked attack as an excuse to get at the real culprits and their instigators. Together with a command of American soldiers he went right into their capital and took their emperor and the bunch from the Japanese military government who were actually the driving powers of this war prisoner. Since he knows as much as about Japanese culture as I do, he had no difficulty afterwards to pull the right strings and play the tunes to start changes in that country too, threatening to hurt their living deity, their most precious jewel, their god-like emperor, if they didn´t comply. The Japan of today is a mix of Western democracy and the useful parts of the old Japanese society. It´s still a little weak on the economic side, their products are still no match for European or American technology but they catch on fast, so the Klingons of this dimension are already part of the Federation, so to speak.”
The ´Star Trek´ reference made especially Wylie smile. “Of course, they had to retreat from China and Korea, they had committed too many atrocities in those countries to be allowed to stay. Instead, my twin made a deal with the Britons, knowing that the main reason for the Japanese aggression was actually the overpopulation in that small country. Japanese workers and farmers together with engineers and teachers from Germany went to Australia instead, settling and cultivating the wastelands, and from what I got from my twin they are working wonders there. Samurai swords to plowshares, and it worked out quite well. The other countries in that part of the world, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and so on, are more or less democratic as well, as much democratic as countries there with their centuries-old monarchic dynasties can become at least, under strict supervision by my twin and now and then nudged back into line if they try to go different ways. Mao got dealt with in time, and many smaller dictators like Pol Pot, the ´Docs´of Haiti or even Fidel Castro never got a chance to evolve in this different environment.  Korea isn´t divided either, it´s a parliamentary monarchy much like Great Britain today. The Middle East isn´t that madhouse it´s in our dimension since the state of Israel has never been founded, instead my twin made Jerusalem something like the religious capital of the world, with visitors of any religion allowed there if they come in peace. The city including the surrounding area is something like the ´holy ground´ in the ´Highlander´-movie, absolutely no fights allowed there, and gods help anybody who breaks that rule because he´ll get it from all sides.” Again one of his beloved references to well-known trivia which made the others smile. 

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Re: What If... (Sequel to "Reloaded")
« Antwort #2 am: 9. November 2015, 13:00:11 Uhr »
“It also helped that the Arabian nations never got so unbelievably stinking rich with petrodollars as they did in our dimension. They may sell their oil, but since my other me here now and then spilled details about technologies from the future, including the use of the so-called ´free energy´, this world hasn´t to rely so much on the ´Sabaean drop´. Most First World countries are almost independent when it comes to power supply, they use their own smaller ressources of petroleum for essential needs of their chemical and other industries, and my twin also taught them one thing or two about surrogates which are less hazardous to the environment. The only parts of the world my twin has neglected till today over all this work, as he confessed to me, is Africa in its middle and southern parts. The north is teeming with activity to make the Sahara a blooming paradise, including some really crazy projects to flood parts of the desert which lie below sea level with water from the Mediterranean, but anything south of that got attended to only when it affected other projects of his. It´s one heck to sort out all of the tribal differences in that area including the mess the Belgians made in the Congo and the Boers in South Africa, so this project will keep him happy for a long time to come. By the way, in this dimension the cold war never happened, nor did the nuclear armament. There is some basic research on nuclear power in all its forms going on in this United States since my  twin didn´t like no nuclear shit in crowded little Germany and wouldn´t trust any other country but the U.S. of A. with it, but it´s heavily restricted and gets supervised by my other self himself. His own role in this world, beyond playing firefighter now and then and getting the hottest international chestnuts out of the fire, is about that of a living deity, together with the emperor of Japan he´s big buddy with after said emperor learned how good his country fared after getting rid of the military government, and with a newly appointed young emperor of China who´s mostly working as a happy gardener just like his father if he´s not busy posing on his throne for paying tourists. Ruling Greater Germany is a piece of cake, he´s devolved the job to able hands, and with most of the other countries he´s responsible for he did just the same. People in power all over the world know he´ll kick their asses to kingdom come if they try something he won´t agree to. Many common people see him as a minor god or at least a superhero like Superman after it became obvious somewhen in the past decades that he doesn´t age like any normal human being, and because he likes to suddenly turn up somewhere like out of thin air and without any entourage besides maybe some military special force if needed, and he often displays some superhuman abilities when he´s at it, like flying and doing force-fields and stuff. In short, he´s the same crazy weed as I, just with much more responsibilities.” Grinning now. 
“He´s even got his own Superman-like comicbooks and a church of devout followers, both of them without his authorization of course, but he tolerates them as long as they don´t behave too crazy even for his level.” More grinning.   
“So, at first look there´s pretty much peace on earth, thanks to my self of here. But of course, if the surface looks so good you can be certain there´s a lot of crap going on under the roof which keeps him quite busy. In fact it´s worse than to herd cats, to quote him, and a damn lot of them. And that´s now the part where he turned to me. He agreed to help us to return to our own dimension after he learned of our messed-up past and present and quite better future and our duties to all of it, but with the small price that I am to assist him for the period of time we have to stay here. Nothing difficult, just playing stand-in for him at minor occasions when he has to attend to more important things elsewhere.”
He was looking earnestly at them now. “Since he´s had skirmishes with extradimensional invaders here too, and even more meddlings of the Unknown Enemy than we had, he´s our best shot at finding a way home now that the leech has left us for good. Trying to find dimensional doorways which could take us home would take me years at best, and he might know the right places where to look, saving me a lot of time. And I´m very curious what additionally information he´s collected on the Unknown Enemy here and in his own future while battling their forces on quite different terms. So I took the liberty of agreeing to his offer, not only on my behalf but on yours too. He said he´d give us this night to sleep it over, and send an airship in the morning to pick us up.” Tom pointed towards one of the newspapers that had a huge, modern-looking Zeppelin with swastika markings gracing the front page. Since there had been no holocaust and Germany had only defended itself against Stalin´s aggression and only waged small, chirurgical wars since then in order to help many parts of this world to become better places, the swastika would never be known as a feared and despised symbol in this dimension, the agents realized. Instead, it would become the symbol of a golden age of prosperity and progress, an age when demigods walked the earth and just about anything seemed possible. 
Fox and the others didn´t even try to argue with Tom about his agreement. ´Mr. Weirdness´ made perfectly sense as always in hopelessly mad situations, and they had learned by now to just go with the flow and trust in his instincts. And they needed some time to digest all the information he had just thrown at them. Greater Germany not ruling the United States but seeing them as an ally trustworthy enough to take care of their combined nuclear research was a small relief for the agents who felt quite patriotic.
“And if you´d ask me now if I disagree with some of the things he did I´d say I can´t, because I would have made exactly the same decisions if I had been in his shoes. Let´s leave it to posterity to decide if it was for good or worse in the long run. But you already knew that We can´t be measured up to common human standards . So get down on your knees and pay me your respects, lowly creatures!” he said so snooty that his nose actually pointed upwards to some unnamed spot on the ceiling.
Agent Wylie knew what was due now. With a heartily “It´s clobbering time!” he jumped up and chased a laughing Tom Richards crisscross around the room. Fox just smiled, remembering again one of the reasons why Richards wanted them to be with him, they were to get him down to earth every now and then when his god complex tried to get the better of him. Which Agent Wylie was well suited to do, in his not-quite stupid, just truly innocent and never really reverent way.
When the two clowns had blown off their steam and settled down again, he asked Tom: “Are you certain he told you the truth?”
Tom smiled at Fox´s question. “You know we suck royally in lying, in an normal interview and especially in a telepathic rapport, so, yes, I´m quite certain. And I would have felt it if he deliberately hid something from me, and vice versa because he asked me about our dimension, too.”
Suddenly he yawned, and felt very tired. It had been a hard day for him after all, first helping in creating a body for his otherdimensional version in the dimension before, and now having had an extensive interview with another version of himself. Wylie helpfully handed him the necessities he´d bought together with the newspapers, and Tom got up and plodded wearily towards the bathroom to ready himself for the night before he fell flat on his face.
“Should have known to take some equipment with us, at least some spare cloth,” Wylie griped when they one after another prepared for bedtime, Tom already sleeping blissfully. “Tomorrow in the same threads again - feh. Should have made Dr. Keller´s goons dry-cleaning our suits when they were already over them anyway instead of just dusting them. I guess Tom didn´t reckon this would take days, or even longer. Paul´s family must be worried sick by now, and Larry too.” Larry Kiromoto was Tom´s bodyguard they´d left behind to watch the dimensional breach they had used as starting point for their crazy voyage.
Paul mad a sad face. “Yes, over all our adventures I haven´t thought of that. I just can trust in Scott to trust in Tom enough not to worry.” That last sentence made the agents smile. But they knew about the good relationship between Tom, the Starman and his son, so they knew it to be true, they knew as well as Scott Hayden that Tom would do anything to keep his ´pet alien´  safe.
“An airship... I hope that thing is filled with helium, and not with hydrogen,” Wylie mused after he had made himself comfortable in his bed, remembering the Hindenburg disaster.
“Without the war between Germany and the States they certainly had access to helium over there.” Fox who occupied the other bed in this room remembered, too. “And if his here version took over in 1933, he surely won´t have overlooked that detail. He can be quite the nitpicker if he feels like it.” An answer that made Wylie snicker.
In the morning the agents and Paul got up early, not knowing when the promised transport would arrive, but they let Tom sleep. They knew the airship wouldn´t leave without him, the most important person and guest of a president. At eight o´clock he got up too, and just when he was done with his morning toilet the agents who took turns outside to watch the sky discovered the huge, fish-like ship in the distance, coming directly at the motel. Remembering the old pictures which described the landing places of Zeppelins including the anchor towers which made landing more easily because the huge constructions could dock there and had not to be pulled down to the ground by many strong men with long ropes, he wondered how they would board, because the parking spot of the motel surely wouldn´t be big enough for the airship to land, and there was no tower either. Would they be required to get to some higher place, on the motel´s roof for instance?
The ship´s flag showed, of course, the swastika, it was no American airship. “Will be hard to get used to that,” Wylie pointed upwards. “I just hope we don´t have to stay too long here, because I really don´t want to get used to it.”
The low droning noise from the ship´s propeller motors had caused other guests of the motel and the receptionist to come out, too, and now they stared at it, quite curious why it headed towards this motel and who would deboard - or maybe board.
“I hope we can get a decent breakfast up there,” Tom said, because since he´d just gotten up he had not had the chance yet to grab some chow. He had joined the others outside, but again wore his camouflage of a dark-haired, bearded stranger to not raise attention. The camouflage worked quite well, even in the bright light of day, the agents noticed, because even they couldn´t tell that this face and hair wasn´t Tom´s natural looks, he must have invested quite some work to make it look so real and believable.
The airship didn´t land, instead out of its belly it lowered some kind of lift - no more than a big birdcage-like barred box made of metal attached to strong steel cables - as soon as it hovered over the parking lot. The motors kept on running at a low pace, keeping the ship steady in its place against the weak morning breeze. The pilot must be quite good to keep the ship so steady, the onlookers on the ground thought. The lift found soon some eager and strong helpers who grabbed it and held it tight in place, to assist the boarding. Since the lift had been empty when it came down it was obvious that somebody wanted to board, and not de-board. Tom and the others said their thanks to their helpers and got into the metal box, burdened with nothing more than they carried inside their pockets because they didn´t have any luggage with them. Normally there would have been certainly a steward in the lift to receive them, but a sign on the backside of the lift restricted the loading capacity to four people. So, instead of having to use the lift twice and waste time, the captain of the ship had decided that four grown men as which his passengers had been announced would be able to guess the workings of the lift door clasp by themselves, and it proved to be easy enough to understand because on the inside of the lift door was also a sign attached with pictures describing how to open or seal said door, typically Teutonic thoroughness. 
The steward they had missed inside the lift greeted them when they left it about fifteen meters above, opening the door for them before they could do it themselves. Besides him stood the captain of the vessel. Since he´d gotten the order to fetch those passengers from way up they had to be important, even if they didn´t look like it, two men in dark business suits that looked like typical American service men of some sorts, one man in an expensive suit who was carring an elaborately carved silver cane with him, and another one of about the same age who looked somehow like a typical American reporter or photographer with his quick, ever curious looking eyes and his casual if a little rugged clothing, even if he wasn´t carrying a camera right now. So he snapped a short salute at them. “I´m Captain Wilhelm Bachmeier, the captain of this craft, the ´Gulden Stern of Nuremberg´. I got charged with the task to get you safely to Washington. At your service, gentlemen!”
“´Gulden Stern of Nuremberg´,” Tom mused immediately, “named after the famous bratwurst kitchen at Nuremberg?”
Captain Bachmeier beamed all over. “Quite so, sir. You have been to Nuremberg, if I may ask, sir?”
Tom smiled back. “Yes, a few times, and I remember the Gulden Stern. A very narrow place, but the sausages are worth the trouble of getting a seat there. But, I forgot my manners. This here are Mr. George Fox, Mr. Benjamin Wylie, Mr. Paul Forrester, and my name is John Corner. At your service, Captain Bachmeier.”  And he bowed a little, in his nice old-fashioned politeness which seemed quite appropriate in this dimension.
Tom´s crew knew about the real John Corner, some childhood friend of Tom´s original Siwa Hendricks from the future, and they knew also that Tom and Paul sometimes used that name as an alias when they couldn´t use their real names for some reason. Anybody who knew Tom - or his counterpart in this dimension  - well enough would get it that there was something going on if this name was used. In their own dimension even some bank accounts and a social security number existed under this name, to be used if the need arouse.
Tom felt the slight movements of the floor under his feet, the slight shifting of G-forces, and as an old sailor who had been once the captain of his own ship he knew that the airship picked on pace. He didn´t worry about his companions to get airsick, Fox was too stubborn for this kind of weakness, Wylie had had much worse flight maneuvers sitting on the backs of dragons, and Paul was a trained pilot himself. They followed when the captain led on, towards the salon of the ship where they would spend most of their stay aboard.
“I do hope your ship makes good of her name,” Tom said jokingly to the captain, “because I haven´t had a decent breakfast today, didn´t get out of bed early enough.”
Captain Bachmeier smiled back. “I´m afraid original Nuremberger bratwurst is already out, Mr. Corner, but we have other original German specialties in our coldstores. Most of our American passengers are asking for them, you know. I will have the steward cook something up for you.”
And Tom knew that the man de-emphasized, the meal they´d get soon would be a feast. The captain showed them the corridors that would lead them to their cabins and to a restroom, and then took them to the salon where he showed them the ship phone with which they could call a steward or the bridge directly. “You´re my only passengers on this trip, so please feel quite at home. But if you´d please excuse me now, I have a ship to see to. Feel free to call the steward if you need something.”
Tom nodded. “Of course, and thank you very much, Captain Bachmeier.” They watched him leaving, and when the door had closed behind him Fox let out a long sigh. “Well, now I´ve seen it all, a friendly Nazi!” he said and slumped into one of the soft chairs. This move that was most uncharacteristical for this seasoned Agent, showing the stress he´d been under.
“He´s right, Tom, my skin is still crawling all over. Flashback to Indiana Jones Part Three, I guess,” Wylie jumped on the bandwagon. 
“They are no Nazis. My other me wiped out this movement for good. He took some of their structures and symbols that were useful for his needs and discarded the rest. So please behave. We are not here to make enemies.” warned Tom. “By the way, use my name. They might not like nicknames.”
Wylie realized his fauxpas, having called Tom by his real name in his outburst. “Sorry. - John.”

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Re: What If... (Sequel to "Reloaded")
« Antwort #3 am: 17. November 2015, 15:44:15 Uhr »
To not commit another mistake he concentrated first at the newspapers of today that were lying in a rack while Tom enjoyed a late and very good breakfast, sharing tasty morsels with the others, and later, after Ben had read anything readable and passed it on to the others, on the passing world outside. So it was him only who noticed the small flying object which approached damn fast and was already out of sight again, towards the hatches of the ship, before Wylie had his mouth open to tell the others. But, it had resembled the other Firebird in his ´almost-invisible´ camouflage. Just a few minutes later they heard the noise of steps from the outside, then a muffled but very surprised sounding “Sir!” And when the door opened, the agents thought they were dreaming. Because there stood Tom Richards, clothed in a dark-blue uniform-like suit with just a few decent strips of golden braid on it, long blond hair bound to a ponytail as usual... and behind him the young steward who looked as flabbergasted as if just hit by lightning, with a very sheepish expression on his face and obviously not knowing what to do with himself. Heads turned to ´John Corner´ who just smiled and got up. And they realized, the other Tom Richards their own version had talked to the night before, the President of Greater Germany, had returned, maybe to spend the trip by airship together with them.
More noises of hastily steps from the corridor, this time it was Captain Bachmeier himself, but he stopped dead in his tracks when he recognized the unannounced visitor.
“Sir!” And he petrified in a salute.
“At ease, Captain,” the President said to him in German language, which he spoke perfectly accent-free. “No need to make a fuss. I´m sorry I had to enter your ship without proper announcement and without your permission, but  I´m just here to talk to your passengers. You may return to your duties.”
Captain Bachmeier knew that President Richards had the habit to suddenly appear out of thin air in the most impossible places, so why not aboard his airship in mid-flight? So he just saluted a second time and left, taking the anxious steward with him and wondering what might make his four guests so important that Germany´s omnipotent ruler himself had to talk to them. But of course he knew better than to secretly activate the intercom between bridge and salon to overhear what was going on in there. He would have been disappointed anyway.
“Nice looks,” was the first thing the President said towards Tom Richards. Since he recognized both Tom´s aura and the low emission of energy coming from his matrix, the camouflage field with the image of a stranger couldn´t fool him. His gaze wandered on. “Mr. Fox, Mr. Wylie,“ he said, knowing about them from yesterday´s rapport.
„Mr. President!“ The agents didn´t salute, they were not Military or Navy, but they bowed politely, acknowledging his position as head of a foreign country.
“And Mr. Forrester.“ This time the „here“ Tom Richards reached out with his hand.
The Starman knew, if a being like Tom Richards did this it wasn´t meant just for a handshake as greeting but as a request for telepathic contact, and he oblieged, smiling. The other Tom didn´t try to mix in. He knew he just had to ask Paul afterwards to get all the contents of the interview. The agents were experienced enough in such things not to disturb or interfere either. After a few minutes the two let go, and this Richards said: “I see.”
Because he knew that Algiebans weren´t able to lie, and if his twin from the other dimension had managed to hide something from him he´d have gotten it now from the alien instead. But he´d found no inconsistence, just some additionally details because the visiting Tom didn´t own an eidetic memory like the Algieban. But together with the information he´d gotten a request from Forrester, and now he nodded in agreement.
“I´ll see what I can do there.” Because he was interested in that, too, jumping at the chance of acquiring an Algieban for himself. The other visitors had had by now the chance to eye him and they found some small differences between both Toms. The hair of this one was even longer, he had it grown probably since 1933, and he wore the cool apprearance they already knew from his Firebird alter ego. So either he had experienced some really heavy blows of fate in the past which had made him change his character noticeably, or that cool stance of his was his mask, just like that of Firebird had been, and he let his true jokester self out of its cage only in private, with nobody around to learn about it but his closest friends and servants.
They all took place. “So, what´s what you need us for? We didn´t count on leaving our own world for longer than we needed to solve that problem with the Enemy in the last dimension. Our friends and families back home must be worried sick by now, and that´s why we´d prefer if you found us a wormhole back to our own dimension really quick. With your permission, Mr. President.”
The +here+ version suddenly grinned back at his twin. “Dictator for life is more like it, also known as firefighter, jack of all trades, boot scraper and working slave for all the world and her grandma in a single body. First thing I have to do today when we´ve arrived is to take care of an assassin. He tried to get a shot at me but got caught in the act, and the good God-fearing American citizens don´t take it slightly if the head of a foreign state gets snuffed in the U.S. of A.. So the stupid sod´s facing court martialing if I don´t put in a good word for him. You´re allowed to watch me dealing with him. He´s German, by the way, a young Prussian Junker who got brainwashed into thinking he´d do Germany a favor if he fragged me. In our original timeline the eviction of the Junkers and other big landowners from Prussia by the Russians and the division of Germany after destroyed their semi-feudal  dreams of political power forever, but our Germany here won the war against Stalin, making everybody who happened to be in the way of Russian forces national heroes, and many of them dislike a born and bred American like me as Germany´s leader. The Prussians have always been priggish, self-complacent, proud and stubborn,  the only leader they´d acknowledge at all would be one of their own, and that´s why they´re a constant thorn in my side. And, no, your Stauffenberg didn´t do it because of Germany. He probably did it because he didn´t want some little Austrian shit putting Prussian territory at risk, and he couldn´t have cared less for all the rest of the country. The Prussians knew better than anybody else how the Russians would retaliate, they knew since Napoleon´s conquest of Russia, and they knew they´d be the first to fall to the onslaught as soon as Germany grew weak, which was obvious after the battle of Stalingrad. I knew Stauffenberg too, you know, but in my world he knew his place, and he died some years ago of old age as a decorated war hero.”
“What will you do with the assassin, sir?” Agent Fox dared to ask, causing another grin.
“My staff has a lot of practice dealing with wannabe assassins. First they weed out the crazies and anarchists, because there´s no reasoning with the lot, and also all the contract killers. What´s left then are the brainwashed wanna-do-gooders, and they´re for me to deal with. Our Junker is one of them, and I´ll have a fun time de-brainwashing him. If he´ll survive the experience, sound in body and soul, is quite another cup of tea tough. Many of his sort suffered a nervous breakdown after the first week, but most of those who made it through made fine additions to my staff.” Grinning again.
The agents didn´t ask for details. They were used to their own Richards making strange bedfellows wherever he went and in his own quite unique way.
“So, what do you need us for? I doubt it´s fun jobs like dealing with assassins.”

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Re: What If... (Sequel to "Reloaded")
« Antwort #4 am: 20. November 2017, 17:18:16 Uhr »
The president nodded. “I told you a bit about our own time, the twenty-eight century, and how it differs from the one you came,” he said towards his twin. “And I wondered how I came into existence here at all - must´ve been more than the casual miracle now and then, and certainly a lot of messing from my side in the future that´s still to come. But for some time now I´ve had the feeling that something, or rather, somebody, is messing with me and with what I´m doing. Somebody who seems to know there´s something wrong with this timeline. Somebody who tries to get the future the way I remember it, a future I don´t want to see ever to happen.
I want you as my proxy to work behind the scenes while I´m in the flashlights, to sniff out the culprit. It may be the Unknown Enemy again, it might be somebody else, maybe even another time-traveler. In your disguise you might be able to get close to him, it, whatever. While you do that, I´ll see what I can do about sending you all home.”
“I understand. We´ll be around you all the time and you know that you can trust us, but since we´re not from here we´re bound to notice sooner than everybody else if something´s not right.”
+Here+ Richards nodded. “The enemy has to be close to me too, to do what he´s doing. And you know I´m sometimes blind as a mole when it comes to people I trust. I hope your eyes will be open where mine are not.”
“Where are we going?”
“To the capital, of course. Washington. That´s where the Feds of here are keeping my assassin. I want you to be with me from now on, wherever I go, at least at the ´official´ parts.”
“No problem there. We´ll stick to you like another set of genital warts.” +other+ Tom grinned, and his crew nodded, almost failing to hide their amusement over +their+ Tom´s attitude towards his high and mighty twin.
Fortunately for them the place they´d been before was not too far away from the capital, so at noon they reached the first outskirts of the city. At that time they all were glued to the windows, trying to catch all the differences between this and their own world. They saw another one of those strange prop-planes, and more airships too, and lots of newer houses built in a strange modernized art-deco style. Only Richards stayed perched, silently smiling to himself over the excitement of his guests. 
The airplane went straight for the federal building where his wannabe-killer was held. Like many buildings in the city it had a special tower including anchor fixings which made deboarding from an airplane easy if the wind wasn´t too strong, and today it was bright and dry with no more than a soft breeze in the air. They bid the captain and his gawking crew farewell and were received by a small comittee of cops and officials waiting for them on the roof, some of the cops having helped hauling in the floating airship.
“Brian F. Murray, I´m the Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department. At your service, Mr. President. It´s an honor to see you, Sir.”
“Thank you, Mr. Murray.” Richards greeted back. “Please don´t make a fuss on my behalf, I´m just here to take care of your prisoner. With some luck I´ll relieve you of his presence here, and of all that might come out of it.” Since the assassin was a foreigner in this country, some political entanglements were to expect. 
“I see.” After a small round of introductions of other peoples present, they went on, towards the room where the assassin was being held. Richards went in, and found an room that was small and empty save for a table - without the famous table lamp - and two chairs, one of them for the delinquent, the other one for his interrogator. One cop was present to watch the prisoner and maybe get something out of him but left when he saw the chief nodding from outside the door, leaving Richards alone with the man who had vowed to kill him.
The hands of the young man were chained to his chair. Surprised by Richards´s appearance in person, he jumped up and frantically pulled on his chains, but without more results but hurting himself when the unyielding metal scraped the skin off his wrists. When he finally had blown enough steam and sank back on his chair, he stared defiantly at his target he couldn´t reach, obviously prepared for the worst.
Next door to the interrogation room the rest of the group, Richards´s guests and Chief Murray together with his assistant and the cop who just had left the other room watched with interest through the window that looked like a big mirror from the other side.
“What will President Richards do with him?” Chief Murray asked.
“It´s within his rights to kill him, you know, accordingly to German law which overrules our own in this case. Will he do it?”
“No he won´t.” Fox as the senior of Richards´s small entourage answered. “He wouldn´t hesitate if it´s somebody who desperately deserves to be killed, he´d first free him to give him at least the illusion of freedom and an easy victory, taunt him until the other one attacks and then do him like a cat offs a defiant mouse. But this is just a brainwashed boy, too far beneath him to be considered a worthy opponent. Did you see his smug expression when he went in? He´ll mess with the poor lad in every way he sees fit and have fun with de-brainwashing him. He just loves to mess with people, you know. But I doubt he´ll ever lay a hand on him. Just wait and see.”
And they watched.
Richards sat there, looking quite relaxed while gazing at the prisoner with earnest mien. One minute, two, seemingly not at all intent to say or do something, to ask the questions that were due or to do something else, he just sat there like having all the time in the world, and stared -- five minutes --
And then, suddenly, he flashed a wide smile. A condescending smile it seemed, and it unnerved the chained young man more than a show of anger or intimidation or any threatening tools of torture he probably had expected to see instead.
Again he jumped up and tried to get at the blond man, but the chains stopped him cold again, the cuffs again cutting painfully into his wrists for all his efforts. And Richards, the hated enemy, just grinned all over at his feeble performance. Finally, the young man gave up, wrists bleeding, and fell back into his chair, exhausted.
“So get over with it. Kill me if you like, I´m prepared for anything.”
“No you aren´t.” Richards answered unexpectedly. “There are far worse fates than a quick death, believe me. I just had to wait until you´re reasonably enough to use your own brains, instead of whatever nonsense the people who sent you filled you up with.”
“If you don´t want do kill me, what will you do to me instead?”
Richards pulled something out of his breast pocket. When he laid it on the table it became recognizable from the outside as two simple white playing cards with black symbols on them. One showed a libra - the sign of justice, the other one a question mark.
“Well, I could just leave you to the mercy of the local authorities. They don´t like assassination attemps at foreign dignitaries on their home turf at all, you know, gives them a bad rep for not being able to keep said dignitaries safe. So you´d probably face a shooting squad pretty soon, they are much more generous with death sentences here than in Germany, and German authorities certainly wouldn´t try to interfere, in such a clear case of attempted assassination. “ He pointed at the card with the libra.
“Or... I could give you the chance to prove that you´re indeed acting for the greater good of Germany, and aren´t just a cheap thug who´s doing it for the money or some false concept of honor.” The other card with the question mark on it.
“For the good of Germany, not for my good, got it? Big difference, you wouldn´t be able to compete in my weightclass if you tried. But there are still a lot of things that can be done by one as you. -
I´ll give you some minutes to mull it over. But I have to warn you, what looks like the easy way out of here, in fact isn´t. There´s always a price to pay, and some prices are higher than others.”
He got up, leaving the cards as a little reminder, and left the room.
Outside he joined his crew. “They always take the questionmark, just wait and see.” he told them while losing his earnest mien to a smirk. “But I´ll let him first stew in his own juice for a bit. Makes them more tender, you know, believing they still have the luxury of choice.” 
“What is he to do for you?” Chief Murray asked.
“Again, just wait and see.” The blond man grinned on. He took a seat and watched quite casually the delinquent in the interrogation room thinking over his offer.
“I know that grin,” +other+ Richards had the audacity to point out to the others, not caring that his twin was within earshot. “That young man in there will get more than he ever wanted to know, and then some. Going to the gallows would be child´s play in comparison. But I´m curious too, how he´ll work out if he gets thrown to the lions without any forewarning.”
“Nothing like a good challenge for a young man to prove his mettle, wot?” +here+ Richards remarked. Despite the difference in settings they were still thinking alike, all right. So the +other+ crew knew, that another crazy stunt was under way right now, because they knew their own crazy well.
« Letzte Änderung: 20. November 2017, 17:21:49 Uhr von DAOGA »