The four women entered the briefing room, followed by Man-Dude, Hark, Fred, and Prime Minister Sox. The all took their seats as they waited.
Finally, Defense Minister Bologna walked in. He pressed a button a wall which activated a large monitor.
"I trust you all know why you're here," said Bologna. "But first, I must inform you that what happened to Mrs. Sox was no accident."
"What about my wife?" asked the Prime Minister.
"The chamber's malfunction was the result of sabotage. One of your workers weakened a power flow containment seal, then altered the computer programming so it would not shut off the chamber or let out its occupants. Our interrogation revealed that he had done so after a substantial payment from our enemy."
"What good would killing a politician's wife do them? And why such a slow and inefficient method?"
"I suppose the method was chosen so it would look like an accident. Also, sir, the prisoner indicated that you were the intended target."
"Usually, I'm the one who checks our processing chamber, not Alice," said Sox. "Guess we chose a bad day to change things up."
"I doubt she'd want you in there, either," said Bologna. "I also have a bit of a confession to make: he actually turned himself in and confessed a month and a half ago, as soon as he found out he'd gotten the wrong person. We thought it would be best to let you and your wife spend your last days together privately, and relatively peacefully."
"I certainly appreciate the sentiment," said Sox, "as will Alice, when she regains consciousness."
"Why was the Prime Minister targeted?" Fred asked.
"No doubt the enemy wished to disrupt our government, and by extension our war effort," said Bologna. "Which leads us back to the main purpose of this meeting. We also interrogated some captured enemy soldiers and learned a few things about the other world."
Bologna pressed a few buttons, and an alien landscape appeared on the monitor, with red energy transmitting through its atmosphere.
"This is the other world. Its inhabitants refer to it as Redsphere, much like our own Goldsphere. Unlike with Goldsphere, Redsphere's inhabitants do not conform to any particular body template. If you can imagine it, there's someone living there who looks like it."
The landscape was replaced with a picture of a man. He wore an ornate crown and an over-the-top military-style uniform.
"This is their Emperor, Adolf Q. Stalin-Pot. He unified this world just decades ago, and it took him some time to achieve stability in his realm. There's been speculation that he started this war in order to draw attention away from ongoing resistance to his rule."
"Does such opposition exist within the ranks of their military?" asked Fred.
"If you're asking about possible defectors, I'm afraid all of Stalin-Pot's forces seem to be totally loyal to him."
An alarm suddenly went off.
Not again! thought Britney.
"It seems we'll have to cut this short. Everyone get to the appropriate shelters, and be prepared to evacuate if need be."
"What about my wife?" Sox said. "She can't be moved right now, and what if they decide to finish what they started?"
"We can guard her," Britney said. "That is, if that's okay with you."
"Do it," Sox ordered. "I'll try to keep in touch with you until this is over."
Britney and her teammates rushed through the hall toward Alice's room.
We'd better not let anything happen to her, she thought.
She couldn't shake the feeling that she and the other women were about to get a lot more involved in this war.