“That was close,” Hedoniet chuckled.
Enioreh squinted blearily around the thick cage of her flesh – she vaguely remembered her Invisiband flying off in the collision. She was inside a weird car, now, with two rows of seats facing each other; Hedoniet sat across from her, studying the gold-tinted psytron-tube between his forefinger and thumb.
“You prick,” Enioreh groaned. “Why’d you have to run me over?”
Hedoniet made a sympathetic sound with his tongue. “Had you been visible, I’m certain Bristol would have braked.”
The driver was glowering at her in the rear-view mirror – he was one of the suits who’d been to Faisal’s lab with the Prince.
“How did you know I’d be running through the parking-lot with psytrons, though?”
Hedoniet looked up into Enioreh’s eyes. “Because, I wanted you to.”
“Fuck you,” Enioreh growled. Her head was pounding out a rhythm she couldn’t ignore.
“Decorum, woman!” The Prince spoke sharply. “I am willing to overlook your many breaches in etiquette in light of services you have and will render the empire but don’t become too comfortable in your position. I am, after all, your Prince.”
“Seriously? You expect me to render more friggen services to some Empire I don’t even live in anymore? I’ve already been your psychic ferry across the starry galaxy and delivered the world’s first source of free, carbon-neutral, everlasting and non-toxic power to your antisocial clutches, albeit accidentally…what more do you want?”
“The physic-ferrying-through-starry-galaxies thing, once more, actually.”
Enioreh moaned. “Last time I did that it didn’t work out too well. You remember, with the whole, world-war, and all?”
“Is sense of duty so soon lost?” The Prince shook his head incredulously. “You still have a job to do.”
“Not until you pay my salary, I don’t!” Enioreh huffed. “Where are we going?”
“To the future!”
“No, seriously, where?”
They were pulling into a parking-lot, next to a tremendous, towering building.
“Liolaoc headquarters,” Hedoniet winked. “Resembles a castle already, does it not?”
“Uh-huh,” mumbled Enioreh. She waited for Bristol to get out of the car before she launched a kick at the Prince’s hand. He saw it coming and knocked her leg sideways with his elbow.
“Shit.” Enioreh gasped at the pain shooting up the inside of her leg. Now two parts of her were hurting. Bristol opened Enioreh’s door, and the girl hobbled angrily out.
“Try to be less alarmingly uncouth in front of my ancestors, please,” Hedoniet sighed, as Bristol forcefully escorted her into the building.
They rode an elevator to the first basement level, and Enioreh limped between Bristol and Hedoniet – the broken machine still clattering along behind her – through a set of double doors, around a corner, and through another set of double doors before stopping in an immaculately white room filled with shiny metal tables. The room was so big and sterile-looking, at first Enioreh thought it was empty – but as they kept walking she noticed a semi-circle of people standing towards the back. Three of them had on white lab coats, and one of them was wearing a suit, but all of them had hair that looked slightly bedraggled, as though they’d woken up just a few minutes ago.
The one with the suit stepped forward, smiling broadly. “Good morning,” he said, extending a warm hand to Enioreh. “Carlos Edwin Ortiz, at your service madam. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. My dear Hedoniet has already told me so much about you.”
“Thanks,” said Enioreh, gasping. “I’m actually here against my will, so if you can, like, correct that, or whatever…?”
“Oh,” said Mr. Ortiz. “Gee, um…that’s not really my area of expertise…”
“Here,” The Prince interrupted, putting the gold-colored tube in Ortiz’s hands.
“Thank God,” Ortiz sighed. “And is this…?”
“A tube full of psytrons – yup,” said Enioreh. “Not yours, so, you know – give ‘em back.”
“But…my dear!” Ortiz took Enioreh’s hand, his forehead full of wrinkles as he handed off the tube to one of the people wearing white laboratory coats. “Surely we can approach these discussions in a spirit of mutual cooperation?”
The scientists crowded around the tube, whispering excitedly as they made their way to one of the shiny metal machines located on a table close by.
“Nope,” Enioreh growled. “I realize I’m all fucked-up and outnumbered, here, but – seriously, those aren’t your psytrons. Give them back, or you’re a bad, bad guy.”
“That is not the way posterity shall remember it.” The Prince smiled grandly at his ancestor.
“I’m fucking posterity!” Enioreh yelled. “And I say it will make everyone hate you, if you don’t give them back to me, right now.”
“Well, now I’m confused,” Ortiz chuckled. “Did you discover psytrons?”
“No, but…they’re mine, ok? That’s not even the point, though! You guys are bad.”
“Hey!” Said a scientist in the back of the room indignantly – a pretty blonde.
“Well, you are,” Enioreh insisted.
“What’s the word?” The Prince demanded of the blonde. “Are they psytrons? Are they usable? Will we be able to reverse engineer the process, to capture our own?”
“We don’t need to.” She spoke in hushed tones. “The number has been growing in the short period we have been examining them. We’re not sure how, but it appears that psytrons are able to produce, or attract, more psytrons.”
“Extraordinary!” Ortiz said, delightedly. “Then have you successfully transferred…ahh! Here they are!” He rubbed his hands together, his eyes fixed on a petri-dish on the table filled with tiny, silver-looking pills.
Enioreh sidled closer, curious in spite of herself. “What are they?”
“Time-capsules,” the Prince said, taking a pill and pressing it into Enioreh’s hand. “It takes a few minutes longer than the old syringe model, but its accuracy is great. All you need to do is swallow the pill while thinking of our own time, and when the outer shell dissolves the psytrons are released into your blood. As before, any person or object you are touching will travel safely with you.”
“Then this is really it,” said Mr. Ortiz – and he sounded sad. “You’re really leaving, now.”
The Prince turned to his ancestor and made a deep and courtly bow. “For your hospitality, I thank you. For your kinship – I will remember you, always.”
Ortiz took Hedoniet’s hand, then pulled him into a hug.
Enioreh was staring at the capsule in her palm. It had a lot of weight, for such a little thing, and it responded to her touch, getting heavier on one side and then the other when she moved it. Like it was half-full of mercury, or iron filings.
“It makes me proud,” Ortiz was saying, “To know how far the strong work ethic and boldness of my family will carry on. And it makes my heart glad, to know there will always be young people working to make the world a better place.”
“Um,” said Enioreh. “Yeah…abducted girl, here, potentially facilitating the germination of global warfare, so…don’t go overboard, there, with the glad heart.”
“Touche!” Ortiz chuckled.
“Don’t do that!” a scientist said quickly, noticing the way Enioreh was jiggling the pill up and down.
“What. The. Fuck.”
All heads turned to the great room’s entrance. Jessie was standing there, fixing Ortiz with such a look of rage the rich man had to look away. Bristol made a move like to tackle him as he started stomping across the room – but Ortiz shook his head.
“Jessie Newman,” he said gently, “How are you? I haven’t had a chance to speak with you since you last were here.”
“Oh, I’m just peachy – and how are you, dad?”
The scientists gasped dramatically and Mr. Ortiz, after opening his mouth in surprise and shutting it, fell into a convenient coughing spasm, shaking his head and shrugging to show how politely apologetic he was that he couldn’t respond.
Jessie had marched as close to the group by the machines as Bristol would let him. “Seriously, pops, how’s it going? Ruin any good lives, lately?”
“Ooh,” said Enioreh raising her hand. “Me! I was kidnapped.”
“Kidnapped from where, kiddo?” Jessie laughed once, turning on Enioreh. “From Faisal’s lab, right, psytrons and all? Cause I know you wouldn’t betray us the way your loser friend did.”
Enioreh had a weird urge to laugh and covered her mouth with her hand – then started choking on the time-capsule. She’d forgotten she was even holding it. The Prince slapped her on the back and it scraped a path down her throat with an aftertaste taste like lightning.
“Can’t you people synchronize your coughing fits?” Jessie demanded. “What did it take, Enioreh? Are you afraid of these people – did one of these pricks threaten you?”
“I heard that!” The blonde scientist huffed.
“Come on, man,” Enioreh rasped. “That’s not what it is. It’s not personal, just…”
“Just what?” Jessie cut her off. “Professional? Is that what you’re trying to say? You think it’s objectively better for the world if an evil corporation has a patent on brain-power?”
“Just a minute, now!” Mr. Ortiz objected.
“There is nothing evil about efficiency!” the Prince argued.
“No one’s talking to you, monster-cock.” Jessie glared.
“I didn’t want anyone to have psytrons,” Enioreh protested. “They’re the cause of the war.”
“Liolaoc having psytrons is the cause of the war, according to your Prince. After all those times you told Faisal you believe in him – you didn’t even give him a chance to do things right.”
“Dude, look,” said Enioreh, angry now. “No future can be worse than the one that I remember. Where I’m from, the world is a fucking graveyard, and I hate to say it, but it’s kind of all your fault. You and Faisal are the ones who let the technology fall into the wrong hands to begin with.”
“That’s completely unfair – in that hypothetical Faisal was dead. You’re alive and you let the technology fall into the wrong hands.”
“Guys, we’re right here…” Mr. Ortiz waved his arms around emphatically.
“Yeah, but now they have time-travel,” argued Enioreh. “So maybe they’ll take over the whole world fast, like the Prince wanted, and there won’t be anything left to fight about.”
“Enioreh!” Jessie gasped. “Don’t tell me you’d support a global dictatorship?”
“Hey, if a little world domination will get us to a war-free zone, I say let ‘em have it!”
“Help!” One of the scientists yelled suddenly. “There’s someone over here!”
Everyone had been looking at Jessie, but they turned now at the yell. The scientists had moved a bit away from their machine, and Enioreh could see the gold-colored tube where it was set in a bigger glass tube, leading to a number of spiraly containers surrounded by thermometer-looking things. The whole machine was tilted now, was moving, and was halfway to being pushed off the table by forces invisible. The scientists responded quickly, holding the machine up, and Hedoniet snapped into action like the pretty good soldier he was – lunging at the area they were staring at. After a series of swift jabs he was grasping a banged-up Faisal in one hand and an Invisiband in the other.
Faisal twisted and made another dash at the machine, while Jessie rushed it from the other side. Hedoniet made a swift movement and tripped Faisal on his way to intercept Jessie, but Bristol-the-suit wasn’t waiting on the Prince. He’d pulled a black gun out of his shirt.
“One…more…move,” he hissed. The gun was pointing at Jessie.
Enioreh wanted to do something very sensible and noble now to make everyone happy and not fighting, but she found herself sitting down on the ground, instead. Her mind was going blank, and she was feeling mighty strange.
“Here we go.” Enioreh didn’t know whether her words were getting through the cyclone in her head. “If we did fuck up we’re the ones who’re going to suffer for it. You guys are only mad at us because you’re all, like, concerned for the future, or whatever – but it is our present, so, you know…our choice.”
“Enioreh!” The Prince’s arms were around her. “Think, and think of peace…” His voice was stretching in her ears, and she fought to hold it and talk back before her body sucked away through the vortex of her mind.
“Peace or no peace…we will make things right…” Break, smashing sea, hard as stone – throw as will be thrown, and ripples rise to push horizons fast away…Let go, let go the pain, oh pull away from what was done – let ripples grow to surf and coursing change. Ride, and ride the rivers through whatever daunting shift, as echoes turn to strangeness, mountains heaving breathe, and haunted loss resounds to see immortal love still kept. Bear on, waves and waves in starry daze, take hold in folding times – and rest you waves and all, bereaved, on shores of storied death…