Rainith the Red had never been subject to the rules which governed the reality of Star Metal City. Neither was she affected by 102 Woo's new dominion over the city. Also, she was in a very bad mood. The tiny fairy mounted an attack on her enemies so furious that they were driven back in confusion as she swooped, stabbed and slashed at their heads, her small sliver blade shearing through defensive shielding and armour and piercing flesh, moving so quickly that neither Melusine Morte nor Captain Woo could fire at her with any accuracy. Both stumbled back with cuts on their faces. Another of the 102 Agents, rushing to help, dropped his laser pistol as Rainith dived at his wrist and slashed it open before flying through his legs to mount another savage assault on Captain Lir.
Mixt and Nakishdan found themselves free as 102 Woo's force fields began to buckle. They drew their weapons and rushed forward to join in the melee. Geeda Lala grabbed Fourteen Trees to drag her to safety. As she did so, they heard a loud alarm from their communicators, an urgent signal from Ms Darben. Her face appeared on their screens as they took shelter in the doorway.
'Do you have the silver box? The transmitter?'
'Good,' said Ms Darben. 'Mixt has the other one in her pocket. Get it from her and we can bring you home.'
Geeda Lala and Fourteen Trees looked at the brawling melee in front of them. It wasn't immediately obvious how they were meant to obtain anything from Mixt's pocket. She was engaged in violent combat with two members of 102 Woo and even as she drove them back, another portal opened and three more 102 Woo agents appeared.
'It's just not fair the way they do that,' muttered Fourteen Trees.
'Try and block any more from arriving,' said Geeda Lala. Fourteen Trees bent over her tiny screen, hurriedly tapping in numbers and equations. Nakishdan was now engaged in a grim combat with Captain Lir. Both were talented swordsmen and seemed evenly matched, but Nakishdan remembered how the Captain had run him through on the Isle of Wight, and wanted revenge. He pressed forward with his blade, occupying the Captain so he was unable to come to the aid of Agent Morte, who herself was having difficulty holding off Rainith. The fairy was still attacking furiously and Melusine Morte had suffered numerous cuts as her advanced shielding gave way before the fairy's other-worldly blade.
Geeda Lala leapt forward and yelled at Mixt. 'I need the silver box!'
Mixt calmly withdrew the small metal item and handed it to Geeda Lala, before turning her attention back to the newly arrived adversaries who now came forward to attack her.
Geeda Lala retreated swiftly. 'I've got it!' she brandished the box in front of her screen, where Ms Darben nodded in satisfaction. 'You have to connect them. I'll explain how…'
Geeda Lala felt a surge of optimism. Minutes ago the situation had seemed hopeless but now they had the upper hand. Mixt was holding off the agents of 102 Woo, Rainith drove back Melusine Morte, and, as she watched, Captain Lir fell before Nakishdan's sword.
'We're going to win,' she thought.
At that moment the orange portal that hovered in the air suddenly expanded. There was a flash of orange light and a crackle of electricity as Superior 102 teleported himself into their presence, landing nimbly on the road. He pointed towards Rainith and immediately the fairy halted in the air, pinioned in some new sort of energy field. Superior 102 twitched his arm and the fairy was thrown violently into the wall, and crashed to the ground. Superior 102 walked towards Mixt. She slashed at him with her naginata but despite the excellence of her technique, the head of 102 Woo simply blocked the weapon with his forearm and threw her to the ground.
'It is time to end this annoying affair,' he said, and turned towards Nakishdan.
Nakishdan fought valiantly to delay Superior 102 Woo's inevitable victory. He'd seen the way the head of 102 Woo cast Rainith aside and threw Mixt to the ground, and knew he could not mount an effective attack without leaving himself open. He therefore attempted to engage defensively with Superior 102, closely enough so that his attention was occupied, but not so close as to be grabbed and thrown down. Meanwhile he hoped that the others were doing something. It had to be something quick because Nakishdan knew he couldn't last for long. Superior 102's fighting skills were immense, as was his power. Nakishdan blocked desperately with his sword, and hung on.
Behind them Fourteen Trees struggled to connect the silver boxes and install the software necessary to make the connection which would take them home. This required concentration, which was difficult for the young girl in the circumstances. Her hands trembled as she tried not to let herself be distracted.
Nakishdan was forced back. Superior 102 used a short sword, but relied as much on he power which emanated from his hands, seeming capable of firing energy bolts against his foes which were difficult to predict and almost impossible to stop. Nakishdan sagged as he was struck in the chest. A great rip appeared in his precious yellow outfit. He bravely raised his sword again but Superior 102 threw him down then turned towards Fourteen Trees.
'Make the connection!' screamed Geeda Lala, standing next to her.
'It's not ready!'
Superior 102 advanced. Suddenly he was struck from behind. Mixt, dragging herself to her feet, lunged at him with her naginata. The blade did not penetrate, but the energy shield around the leader of 102 Woo flickered. Immediately it flickered again as Rainith the Red picked herself up and flew at him in a blind rage, slashing at the force field around his head. Troubled by this, Superior 102 turned to confront the fairy but was halted by Nakishdan, who'd hauled himself back to his feet and lunged with his blade towards their opponent. Assailed by the weapons of three determined adversaries, 102 Woo's shielding began to flicker more. It still didn't seem enough to stop him.
Geeda Lala, who'd never been involved in any of the fighting that surrounded her, had, since arriving in Star Metal City, practiced on targets, wondering if she might be able to assist her friends. As yet she had never fired a shot in anger. She took out her laser pistol, aimed with excessive care, and fired. The beam hit Superior 102. He stumbled and sank down on one knee.
'Make the connection!' she screamed again.
Fourteen Trees frantically tapped a few final figures on her screen. As Superior 102 rose to his feet once more, raising his hands to strike a lethal blow, the whole world suddenly began to dim around them. Fourteen Trees, Geeda Lala, Mixt, Nakishdan and Rainith found themselves fading out of existence. Their perception of the world went blank for a few moments and then they tumbled into Mixt's main living room, in her mansion, where they lay on the carpet groaning, and looking at the ceiling.
Ms Darben and Agent Duluth were there. They looked down at the figures on the floor.
1 of 1: posted 31 October 16
Search Unit Sigma lay on the floor. Nakishdan turned his head towards Mixt, who lay next to him.
'Did you notice the way I got up after that serious injury and kept on attacking?'
Mixt nodded. 'It was very heroic.'
Nakishdan smiled. 'I ripped my new pirate's outfit,' he said, in a voice which implied he would not let such a terrible tragedy affect him too badly. Rainith the Red, who's tiny fairy body had had the good fortune to come to rest on a cushion, laughed at them. 'You were both useless. We'd all be dead if it wasn't for me,' she said, though her tone was, by her standards, only moderately hostile.
'It's a relief to have you all back.' Ms Darben had been worried. Losing so many agents on a mission would have reflected badly on her leadership. Besides, she'd almost come to like her charges, at times.
After the journey home they all felt exhausted. Geeda Lala struggled to her feet, helping Fourteen Trees onto the couch. Fourteen Trees' long yellow hat was comically askew, and the young Kesh looked pale and fatigued. Ms Darben congratulated her for making the calculations and the final connections which had brought them all home.
'Did we really travel through Rainith?' asked Mixt.
'In a way. She was always connected to this world. You travelled back through her connection.'
Nakishdan made a face. 'Now I need a bath.'
Rainith glared at him. 'So do I.'
Nakishdan hauled himself off the floor, assisting Mixt on the way, and they slumped together into one of Mixt's large, old, comfy armchairs.
'I need a drink.' Mixt looked hopefully as Ms Darben, who showed no inclination to fetch her one. Agent Duluth, however, left the room, heading for Mixt's drinks cupboard in the kitchen, feeling that after their strenuous adventure it wasn't too much to ask.
Ms Darben looked at Geeda Lala. It was the first time they'd met in person.
'The Department of Historical Disturbances would like you to stop creating historical disturbances.'
'Sorry,' said Geeda Lala, and looked quite ashamed.
'If you still refuse to go home, you must stay in the present. Any more trips into the past will cause chaos again.'
'But the Kesh will find her if she stays here,' protested Fourteen Trees.
'Ms Darben is right,' said Geeda Lala. 'I shouldn't be causing all these problems. I won't do it again.'
Fourteen Trees lacked the energy to reply, but Rainith sat up on her cushion.
'What do you mean, no more trips to the past? You promised me I could see the Sex Pistols first gig. That's why I co-operated. You'd all still be stuck in the game world without me. I demand you send me back to 1975. I want to see that gig.'
Ms Darben didn't reply. No one had the energy to argue. Even Rainith's incredible fairy vitality was temporarily exhausted, and she lay back on her cushion, muttering that she'd better be sent back to see the gig or there would be trouble. Agent Duluth arrived back with a supply of gin, lime, tonic, lemon and ice, and poured drinks for the them all. They sipped their drinks, pleased to be home and out of the game world, which, as Nakishdan and Mixt later agreed, had not been nearly as enjoyable a place to be as they'd envisaged.
'Though I did like Dr Tau as a therapist.'
'Me too. When we go back to our own therapist we should tell him about his methods. It's time we got some better therapy. We've had a lot of trauma recently.'
Nakishdan agreed. 'What we need is some peace and quiet. I don't want any more adventures for a while. As long as Geeda Lala and that stupid fairy behave themselves we should be OK. Do you think they will?'
Mixt shrugged. 'That remains to be seen.'
End of Part Three
Simulation Bleed is now ended. For a while, anyway.