Chapter two: W.E.G.R.A.S.P
If Leo was to sum up his emotions at that moment… He wouldn't, because he was too busy panicking and trying to think of ways to get out of the shaft that wouldn't include breaking every bone in his body or getting turned into strawberry jam at the bottom.
There was surprisingly little he could think of.
Flapping his arms hadn't worked, nor had thinking happy thoughts, nor had attempting to disprove the law of gravity, or even purposefully distracting himself to forget he was meant to fall, like that guy did in one of the hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy book things.
Next up he tried to telekinetically grab and lift his own body. Unfortunately, that didn't seem to work either. Okay what next? How about realizing that reality is a lie and that rules do not apply here?
No…wait, even if that did work, everyone falls the first time. No good.
It really was a spectacularly long shaft, outside it alternated between labyrinthine tunnels, service vents and dingy corridors… at least until the floors abruptly ended and it was just the shaft, floating in space.
In freefall Leo twisted, flipping over and under until he spotted the biker from earlier below him.
Angling himself downwards, he fell faster until he spread-eagled himself on level with the rider.
Knocking on the glass skinned his knuckles so he tried elbowing it until the rider's head turned.
Leo waved and tried to explain "I'm falling, I will die, Please help me?" with free-fall interpretive dance.
The figure on the bike shrugged and shook its head, the bike itself dipping as the rider let go of the handles.
Leo pointed down and mimed himself getting strangled and then dying, since the only real way of miming a fatal fall while falling is to simply wait for a while.
The rider seemed to nod and draw back as if to prepare to ram the shaft, but then they looked down, cursed and flew upwards.
The outside world was cut off abruptly as the tube re-entered…. Something. It could have been any sort of building, at terminal velocity, the openings and the floors that whizzed by simply seemed to merge into a blur of colour.
Looking down there seemed to be a lot less of the tube than there had been from the top.
Leo began to wonder if he should say something badass or profound, just on the off-chance that it might be the only requiem he ever got.
"I was supposed to die in France?...No…. Uhm… Tubular ride? NO! Uh…. What the hell is taking so long? Falling like this is putting a lot of pressure on me- Ah, I've got it!" he cleared his throat to utter the most Badass and incredibly appropriate lines to ever be uttered by a boy about to be killed by the cold merciless hand of gravity. "Ahem-"
The following instant was one of mixed fortunes. Fortunately, an intense blast of air buoyed up the falling fellow, propelling him upwards and outwards.
Unfortunately, he'd been falling while lying horizontal and as such, was propelled through the opening, face first. Leo got a close up look at the cold and glossy black metallic floor as he slid along it.
"Ow? Ow. OW! Not fun, Not fun!" Leo patted himself down, ticking boxes as he went. Arms, yes. Fingers, got those. Feet, a tad stressed. Not missing any toes. Head, still there, face, not going anywhere.
Shoes, socks, pants, shirt, tie, blazer. Wavy swirly tail thing, metallic body, organic shapes, translucent, Pointy hat, Lazor.
Leo looked at his mental checklist and for a moment, was profoundly puzzled at where these entries had come from, at least until he started paying attention to his immediate surroundings.
"Target Acquired, Unregistered Biological Entity. Initiating Neutralization Protocol."
Before Leo floated the most bizarre and unlikely combination of elements ever. The whole creature was slightly transparent, its eyes were large and the shape of the metal body, organic. Upon the head was a pointed hat that curved over slightly at the end, while a rich red cape was affixed to his shoulders.
It's mouth was a screen that showed a wavering line when it spoke, it's right arm seemed to be two dimensional and it's left arm was a gigantic optical cannon.
Leo Simply stared at it, dumbfounded. "What… Are you?"
"A Wizard Extra-dimensional Ghost Robot Alien Super Policeman. A member of the W.E.G.R.A.S.P.F, Wizard Extra-dimensional Ghost Robot Alien Super Police force."
Leo slumped a little in sheer exasperation "We Grasp? Why don't you rearrange the acronym?"
"I want to eat your heart."
"I ziad, where would we start. The order of the words is most dear to our force as otherwise it would be an inaccurate title."
"No, No you didn't, you said you wanted to eat my heart in a creepy voice." Leo waggled an accusing finger at the entity before tossing it aside.
"Please note that I am A: Wizard Extra-dimensional Ghost Robot Alien Super Policeperson. Which is why you just committed littering with that index finger." The robot incinerated the digit with its laser, even as Leo recoiled.
"Gah!..." Leo almost began hyperventilating when a sudden thought struck him "If you're a policeman, then can you tell me how to leave?"
"Make like a tree? Ha. Ha. Ha." It responded mechanically.
"Was that a dead joke or artificial humor?"
"BoooO00Ooooth!" The glowing pupils of its oversized eye's whirled in different directions as it drew out the sound.
"Fine, whatever, how do I get back to reality, I just hopped on a train and then ended up here."
"Present your ticket and the trip will be refunded."
"I got it when I… Aw crap." Leo patted his pockets fruitlessly. Had he got a ticket when he entered the station? Had it fallen out during the fall, or maybe in the train, or maybe when he slipped?
"Profanity detected, Calculating probability of Ticket location….. Calculating. Voice patterns indicate likelihood of .9%."
"Fine, I don't have it. So now what, I just sit here?" Leo threw up his hands.
"Negative, this is a public place, you must vacate it periodically and remain above appropriate cleanliness standards. Currently you are Thirty foifve Per-cent above legal limit. Congratulations."
"I have no residence here, I just got on the wrong train and suddenly, BAM! I'm in this place!"
Leo tried to wave his arms for emphasis, instead it merely looked like he was trying to lift off.
The W.E.G.R.A.S.P's eyes turned red.
"Neutralization Protocol Enacted, subject distraction successful. Beginning pan-dimensional Transmogrification of unregistered bio-illogical entity."
There wasn't even time to do a comedic doubletake, he simply was in one place one moment and then his entire world was simply stretched and rolled up like a spool of taffy. For a moment, the world went dark.
He blinked. The sensation of nothingness had lasted all of a moment, yet it had left him feeling fatigued and his vision blurred. Blinking helped and Leo winced a little at the sting that accompanied it.
He was lying on an angle and…. Couldn't move?
Every instinct advocated panic.
Leo clamped down on his emotions. Taking stock, he tried to figure out what was the best way out of the situation, when a mechanical voice emitted from a speaker next to his ear.
"Subject mental activity approaching full wakefulness, ceasing slumber self restraint mechanisms."
There was a sharp hiss and an inrush of air. The curved glass lid in front of him lifted. Leo let himself fall forward, stumbling onto the steel floor.
He turned to stare at what he'd been… been… Teleported into!
Holy freaking crap, that robot wizard extradimensional police alien …. Whatever! It was the real deal!
Standing up, he stepped over to what he'd been transported into. It looked like a POD of some sort.
A curved glass lid, gel interior bed and a shining steel framework with all sorts of screens, controls and assorted little fiddly techie bits! Suddenly it all began to come together, blue gel, glass lid, complex technological monitors and the whole pressure seal thing.
It…. It was a Cryo-Pod! He'd Always Always ALWAYS wanted one of these! He swung the lid shut and tried to hug the whole unit bodily. It looked just like how he always imagined one would look!
"Are you planning on getting up or just making out with your bed?" came a voice behind him, with an even mix of 20% surprise, 60% scorn, 15% pity, 5% curiosity and 100% female.
Leo spun around, shifting his left arm into a high block, letting his knees and feet shift into a state of advanced evasion readiness.
Old habits die hard. He should have remembered he wasn't at his last school when her speech wasn't preceded by a flashbulb*.
*Photographic evidence of blackmail counted for double points during the Fey-rocks Unofficial Non-regulated Deception Endorsed Reward's. The UNDER-ground prizes were given to the students who best exploited their peer-group over the year. The day of the ceremony was always neutral and the entire thing had arisen as a way to 'Wipe the Slate Clean' each year.
Without it, the school that always teetered on the brink of anarchy would become so wrapped up with plots, plans, alliances and suchlike that no one would actually get anything done. Even with the awards, by the end of the year you had to suspect Everyone. You never knew who had dirt on who and what they'd do to keep it coming out before the UNDER-ground amnesty. The awards themselves were partly ceremonial and wholly practical; all grudges, debts, blackmail materials and miscellaneous holdings would be converted into universal favor points.
The student council regulated the 'Meal-Ticket' system, with price lists for everything from "Stationary loans" to "Involuntary Medicinal Prescriptions".
The student council themselves was above suspicion and beyond reproach, with a set yearly salary of favors, but otherwise debarred from participation in school intrigue due to conflict of interest.
Leo had always wanted to become a member, if not for the diplomatic immunity it offered- because of his sheer admiration that a single body of kids could successfully impose rules** on three hundred or so children with all the anarchistic inclinations of the entire population of pre-revolutionary France.
** Rules were specific and almost universally supported, such as:
"No use of high-explosives during school hours."
Or "Do not draw attention to Fey-Rocks through media outlets. All students must refrain from plots, plans, schemes and anything that might be constituted as unsuitable or in violation of state/federal statutory law"
And "Inducing unconsciousness is dangerous, as are all other forms of proscription and non-prescription medicine. Prior to the use of any drug on another student, thorough research on the target must be performed and dosage calculated with findings to be presented to the council.
Copies of the key to the nurses office and medical database passwords are available through the website. While we do not need to explain this rule, newer students, the slow and the retarded should be reminded that anyone caught in violation of these rules will find that they no longer apply to them.
If violations and infractions continue, then the rule-breaker will be treated true to his creed.
It will look like an accident. You Have Been Warned."
Leo assessed the situation with lightning acuity. He had no escape options beyond the door that had been opened in the opposite wall, currently blocked by the unknown opponent.
She was approximately thirty seven kilos with nut brown hair and streamlined features. Unknown descent, most likely the result of a Eurasian and eastern European mix a generation or three back; her stance wasn't hostile. Simply leaning in the doorway, propped up on one elbow.
Of course the appearance of weakness is a key element in using strength to its fullest.
That caused Leo's brain to shift out of his instinctive 'Flight or Fight' response. Time came back.
"Well? Who are you? New in the joint, jah?" Her speech became sharper as Leo continued to stare.
Leo just didn't know what to make of it. Actually he did. He folded his curiosity into a question and fired it at the newcomer. "What exactly are you wearing?" He asked, pointing at her outfit.
She looked at herself "Nothing special. Flight suit."
Leo boggled. The suit itself wasn't his focus, he just knew that he'd seen the design before.
The under-weave of form-fitting kevlasbestos weave, fire-proof, water-proof and bullet proof.
The matte Exo-skeleton of titanium-boron-cobalt metal amalgam with a blued finish; he'd seen this before, a bodysuit, reinforced with a metallic cutaway superstructure.
He'd designed it.
It was ridiculous! Two things he'd always wanted to see, cropping up in the same place.
Statistically that was…. No, actually, statistics would place him as well overdue for a straightjacket, or a live talk show.
So what did he know? He might be hallucinating, or he might not. This world might be real, or it might not. The inventions he saw might be the products of his imagination, or they might not.
So what did he KNOW? Living is good. Pain is bad. I am not in Kansas anymore.
Unfortunately for Leo, his little mental dialogue did not take place out of line with the rest of 'reality'.
"You're weird. Even for this place…. Bye weirdo."
The door slipped shut as she stepped away.
Leo didn't even notice. He'd blown his mind.