A revelation is made.
Gregory P. Wong
Chapter 2: Return
"What!?" she gasped as the flash blazed through their room.
She felt Yukimura's arms tighten around her as they squinted. She could make out what looked like a swirling vortex of luminescence in the middle of the blinding glow.
The light faded. In its place stood a youngish man clad in camouflage cargo pants and a skintight long sleeve black shirt that looked to be made out of pretty thick material.
Perhaps six feet tall, with black hair streaked with brown locks, and green eyes. He had a face that looked part Asian and part Caucasian, though she couldn't be completely sure. He was pretty handsome and young, when she looked a little closer. Maybe not too much younger than them, in fact. And if that shirt he was wearing was any evidence, he had pretty well-defined muscles. Not body-builder big, but probably larger than Yuki, and ripped. She noticed one more thing.
The man seemed transparent, as if he were a ghost.
This was totally weird. Naw, to heck with that. This was in the next county over from weird.
"Who the hell are you!?" Yukimura called to the transparent person. "What do you want?"
The kid, smiled, revealing perfectly white teeth. "I'm glad even history couldn't keep you two apart..."
"Wha...?" she said, puzzled by the stranger's /non sequitur/. She felt Yuki shift against her as he reached for the Smith & Wesson .45 that was in a drawer in a nightstand on his side of the bed.
"You'll know, soon enough. And Yukimura Sanada, you can stop. Bullets won't hurt the real me; this is only a holographic image. And your phone line is deactivated."
She felt her husband cease moving.
"Anyway, like I said, I'm glad you two could be together, even if you're in the wrong when."
"What the hell are you talking about?" she yelled.
"Do you really want to know, Kunoichi?"
"Oh, my God... he's a nutjob. He just called me 'chick ninja' in Japanese," she mumbled. "Yuki, pop him."
"I'm not a nutjob if I call you by your chosen name."
"Yeah, I have the name 'Female Ninja.' My name is Makie, you moron. You know, Yuki, don't cap him. Let's kick his butt and then check him into a looney bin."
With that, she charged out of bed-naked- and aimed a punch right at the guy's chin. It passed right through. Off balance, she fell through his "body."
"Like I said, this is hologram," she heard the kid say as got to her feet. Realizing that she couldn't beat that whackjob unconscious, she felt self-conscious being naked next a male who wasn't her husband... even if he was just a hologram. She moved her arms to cover herself, but she felt something soft and light hit her shoulder and slide off. Her night robe. She hurriedly put it on.
Good ole noble Yukimura.
"Do you want to hear what I have to say, and see what I have to show?" the stranger asked.
After a moment of hesitation, Yukimura answered, "Yes."
"Then you get out of our apartment," she whispered.
"Of course. But whether you stay is entirely up to you..."
"And why would we want to leave?" Nobunaga muttered.
"Because you are not who you think you are," the apparition told him. He exchanged glances with his wife-now clad in a violet bathrobe-and frowned.
"Can't you think of something else? That line is much too overused in cheap horror movies," he growled at the hologram.
The young man chuckled. "I'm aware of that. But it fits the situation."
"What do you want?" Noh whispered to the stranger.
"To tell you who you really are."
"And who are we, then?" he growled at the man.
The stranger didn't say anything. He looked behind him, at the wall, where four bullet holes gaped. Slugs from his Colt .45 had passed harmlessly through the stranger's "body" and lodged in the plaster.
"You are Nobunaga Oda and Nouhime Oda... and you are not from this time..."
"Oh, sounds perfect. So, what, we're from the 1600s?" Shang Xiang said dangerously.
"No. You two lived circa 200 /Ad domini/."
She and her husband gaped.
"Your story is getting more harebrained the more of it you spit out!" Bei snapped.
"Then let's make it even more bizarre: You two lived in ancient China, during a period called the Three Kingdoms Era. Liu Bei, you were the leader of the Shu Kingdom."
"My husband ruled /shoes/, is that what you're saying?" she queried sarcastically. If it hadn't been for the fact that she couldn't touch him, she would have kicked his face so far in that he would have needed a straw to eat.
"No, /Shu/. S-H-U." The man turned to her. "And you, Sun Shang Xiang, are the daughter of the warlord Sun Jian. You were loyal to the Sun kingdom until you met Liu Bei and fell in love with him."
"Ah... a Chinese /Romeo and Juliet/," she muttered scornfully. His lies were seriously getting out of hand.
"Not a bad analogy, except you two didn't die from some botched plot. You actually helped Bei fight his way past a small pursuit force."
She couldn't think of anything to say.
Her husband spoke up.
"So, if we did indeed lived thousands of years ago, how are we still alive?"
"That's impossible," Rong snapped.
"At this time, it is. But not in three hundred years."
"Okay, you've played a pretty good trick with that hologram stuff. This has gotta be a prank from one of those guys at work. Who got you up to this? Jake? Zane?" her husband rumbled.
"Look to your right."
She took her eyes off the see-through stranger and looked to her right. It was their coat rack... So what?
"Now you see it, now you don't..."
She stole a puzzled glance at the man, and then focused back on her coat rack. There was nothing...
As she watched, a shimmering white blanket of light crawled over the rack and covered it. There was a blinding flash, and the rack was...
Huo ambled over to the spot where the rack had been, and poked into empty air.
Mouth open in amazement, she looked back at the hologram.
He smiled. "I'm taking a guess that you believe me. At least, partially."
She and her husband nodded wordlessly.
The figure crossed his arms. "You see, to a certain extent, the how. Now, I believe, is time I showed you the /why/."
"This is probably overused, too, but we took you from your original timelines and replaced you with cyborg doubles because of an alien invasion."
"/Aliens/...?" Keiji said incredulously.
"In the broadest sense, yes. And more. In all but four of our ground engagements, we've lost."
"That's bull. If you have time travel and stuff, you've gotta have super laser cannons and super nukes, and super whatever. It's impossible to lose-"
"It's not impossible, Keiji, if it's happened to us. Almost every single ground engagement, we have lost. Simply put, these creatures aren't affected by high-technological weapons. Blaster bolts, magnetic-accelerated shells, EMP cannons, artillery... they do nothing. Inches from touching one of the creatures... the projectile disappears."
"How can that be?" Okuni inquired. She clutched his arm.
"We don't know much about them, but our researchers have confirmed that they're from some sort of parallel dimension. Our scientists noticed a recent surge of electromagnetic and gluon activity about three light years from the outermost colonies."
He and Okuni couldn't say anything for several moments. It was too shocking.
"Like I've said, these creatures aren't affected by technology.... on the ground, at least. We've won almost all of our space engagements against the tin cans they use as starships. But every time there's a successful landing, we lose. Simple."
"If you've lost every battle, where do we fit in?" He asked.
The kid looked him right in the eyes. "We need you to fight."
"You've lost almost all your ground engagements, and you want me and Yu to /fight/!?" Qiao yelled.
"Why should we do it?" her husband snarled. "You want us to die, is that it?"
She grabbed her hair and pulled it in frustration. "Then leave! What you want us to do is suicide."
"For normal people, yes. Do you know how those four engagements were won?"
She and Yu shook their heads.
"With hand-to-hand battle. I'm the commanding officer of a brigade of soldiers called Mindlancers. We're a group of psionically-gifted individuals who use our powers as weapons. And we're the ones who've stopped the enemy advances. But now we're depleted to a mere battalion. Simply put, the average Mindlancer isn't enough to stop the invading swarms."
"And we are?" Yu muttered
"How powerful are these 'Mindlancer' people, anyway?" she demanded.
"The average Mindlancer can kick a car twenty feet, catch crossbow bolts, and channel their psi-energy into energy blades that can cut through just about anything but another psi-blade."
She gaped. "And we are supposed to fight with you. Excuse me for sounding incredulous, but even if what you say is true, what can we do?"
The Mindlancer's face grew grim. "A lot. You may not know it, but you and fourteen other people have the power that probably rivals mine."
"Ah, so I can kick a car over our house?" she intoned derisively, gesturing to herself. She wasn't exactly an Amazon.
"Yes. You have psi energy too."
Yu sighed and rubbed his face.
"Fine, fine, I'll play along. What exactly are us arrow-catching warriors going to fight against?"
"I'll show you. But brace yourself..."
"/WHAT IN BLAZING HELL IS THAT/!?" Nagamasa yelped.
It was simply hideous. The... thing stood seven feet tall, and looked like an insect crossed with an octopus. Its spindly, backwards-jointed legs. Four arms jutted out of where shoulder should be, festooned with spines and blades. The arms ended in three wicked, razor-sharp claws. Along the creature's back were a dozen tentacles that were at least six feet long. The bulbous head was shaped roughly like a pyramid tipped onto a side, and crowned in arm-long spikes. The creature had dozens of small green compound eyes, and a mouth that was ringed with tentacles about the length and width of his pinky. The teeth of the creature were large and wicked-looking. The creature had plated skin, like an overgrown bug, and was colored a dark gray.
"Strange you should say that. I seriously entertained the idea that these things were from hell." The young man gave a grim, humorless laugh.
He felt Oichi hug him closer. He saw that the bed sheets were slipping off her shoulders; he pulled them up, and focused on this Mindlancer character.
"What is that thing?" he asked in a whisper.
"From what've gathered of them, they call themselves the 'Sraida'. They're some race never encountered in the known galaxy, and we have yet to successfully communicate with them. They don't seem unintelligent, as they coordinate quite complex field maneuvers. Strangely, they only battle hand-to-hand; their ships are unarmed."
"And the only way to kill one is hand-to-hand, right?" his wife noted. She groaned. "Good God, this has to be type of dream."
"It's not, I assure you."
"Fine, fine. I'm tired of this arguing. What exactly do you need us for? Specifically."
"Let's just say if you don't help us, life in this galaxy is toast," said the stranger.
"Huh?" he grunted.
"We're reeling. All we need is time. Time enough to stop the largest planetary invasion yet.
"Yes, largest. We estimate about one hundred thousand Sraida inbound."
"But your fleets can prevent a landing, correct? And even if they can't that number can be reduced, no?" Liang inquired.
"No and yes. The fleet is currently on the other side of the galaxy right now, and we can only take out so many of their swarming transports. At best, our surface-to-orbit defenses might be able to reduce the number by six thousand before they make planetfall. But then technology goes down the drain and we're reduced to having troops with edged steel.
"What forces do you have?" his wife queried.
"We have a total of ten thousand troops."
He bit back a sharp remark. "Why is this planet so important?"
The young man sighed. "The planet in question has a research facility, with the best minds of several species working there. Perhaps the most important project ever to be conceived is nearing completion."
"Go on," he told the hologram.
"The group is developing a weapon that can actually affect the Sraida. I don't know the full details, but the device is essentially a tachyon displacer. It reads the bio-signs of the Sraida and creates a miniature warp gate to send them back to their dimension. Basically, each and every Sraida in the emitter radius is sent back to their universe."
"What's the radius on this displacer device?"
The Mindlancer rubbed his chin. "I'm told it's about three light years in diameter. If we're able to bring it to the main gateway, we'll be able to cause it to collapse."
"In other words," his wife spoke, "this is perhaps our only chance?"
Ying lowered her eyes to the ground. "Then we must help. I can sense he isn't lying, and... I've seen those creatures before."
He and the Mindlancer fixed his wife with stares.
"My dreams, Liang."
At that, he tore his gaze from her eyes, and looked at the hologram.
"It appears we have no choice. We will do our best to aid you," he told the Mindlancer.
The stranger nodded... and disappeared.
"What...?" Ying gasped.
He felt a tingling at his feet. He looked down.
"Liang!" his wife cried out."
A white sheet of energy, like that which had made the chessboard vanish, was crawling over him.
Then, he was seeing bright white... and then nothing...