Jen Air: Frontier of Forever, Part Twelve

Continuum-ing a special Star Trek inspired story to celebrate the
show’s fiftieth
anniversary.  Tenley has tracked the boy, Alex, whose brainwaves transported the whole science fiction and fantasy convention to an alternate reality.  Now she just has to get him back to the others.

Part OnePart TwoPart Three Part FourPart FivePart SixPart Seven Part EightPart Nine Part TenPart Eleven

Jen Air: Frontier of Forever, Part Twelve

Tenley noticed that at least a part of the promenade had
changed.  The carpet was different, becoming
a much lighter with some triangle pattern on it, and a large tablet had
appeared on the floor covered in yellow bars and alien writing.  That though didn’t grab her attention so much
as the man sized white rabbit hopping in front of her, wearing a yellow
waistcoat and checkered jacket.

“Oh, my paws and whiskers!
I’ll be late!” The rabbit cried, and then hopped off.

Tenley narrowed her eyes and spun on her heel to arch an
eyebrow at the boy.  “What did you do?”

“Nothing!” Alex blurted, his cheeks flushing guiltily.  “I was just thinking this reminds of the
episode Shore Leave, from the original series… you know?  When they found a planet where all their
fantasies came to life, and…”

“No!” Tenley snapped.
“I don’t know.  And you need to
stop imagining things.  It’s
dangerous.”  She spun back and continued
to march them along.

“Well, i-it’s really hard, especially with all this stuff
all around,” he explained, trying not to look at any stalls or exhibits as he
ran a little to keep up with her.  “Maybe
if you talked to me I’d be able to keep my mind off anything.”

“Talk?” Ten said as if she found the word distasteful.  “Fine,” she sighed, “about what?”

“Well, um… how old are you?”

“Eleven,” Ten answered.
“And a half.”

“Really?  I… I
actually just turned twelve a few weeks ago.”

“It’s a miracle you’ve survived so long.”

“Heh.  Yeah… I guess,”
Alex chuckled nervously.  “Um… if you don’t
mind me asking, what are you?”

Tenley paused, her head tilting forward as her eyes cast
themselves upon the ground.  She then
turned, looked at him earnestly and said, “a girl.”

“But you’re not… normal, are you?  And I know I didn’t dream you up, so…”

“No,” she exhaled, “I suppose I’m not.  I was changed, by a woman.  She made me like her… much stronger and
faster and able to see and hear more.  But
she only ever wanted to use me to kill her father.  They’re both dead now.”

“That sounds… heavy…”

“It’s the past.  Right
now, Jennifer has asked me to bring you back to the control room.”

“Who’s Jennifer?”

“She’s the person who looks after me now.  You’ll be seeing her soon enough.”

“Don’t you have any family?
Parents?”

“No,” Tenley was obviously growing tired and uncomfortable
with the questions.  So she turned them
back.  “What about you?”

“I live with my mum.
My dad… well, he left a while ago.
So, how strong are you?  Could you
bend a rod of parsteel?”

“A what?” She squinted, then suddenly stepped to the side as
a rod dropped from above.  She caught it,
seeing it was just a metal bar that didn’t seem to serve any purpose.  “What is this?”

Alex furtively scratched his head.  “S-sorry… I just…”

Tenley held up the bar threatening as she fumed.  “I do not perform like some circus animal.”

“I’m sorry.  I didn’t
mean anything… I was just curious,” he insisted.  Tenley huffed and resumed walking.  “And, I mean, if you don’t think you can, it
doesn’t matter.  You’re still pretty
cool.”

The girl looked very strangely at him, and after a moment
she shrugged, rolled her eyes, and held the bar up between her hands.  Then, she bent it.  Alex stumbled forward when she handed it to
him, just slightly.  It wasn’t that
heavy, but still, he was impressed.  “C-cool,”
he stammered and let the bar drop to the floor.

“Can we get going now?” The girl chided.  “More people are likely to die the longer we
stay here.”

“Die?” Alex frowned.  “People
have died?  How many?”

“Three, I’m told.
Although I’ve only seen two.”

“How?”

Tenley glanced back, momentarily gritting her teeth. She
didn’t think he had the stomach for all the details.  “It… doesn’t matter.”

But Alex wasn’t stupid, unfortunately, and put things
together in his head.  Turning pale, he
said, “Y-you mean it was my fault, don’t you?
Something I thought caused those people to die…”

“No,” she snapped.  “It
wasn’t your fault.  It was the fault of
the man who brought us here.  He’ll be
punished, I’m sure, but there’s nothing that can be done for those already
dead.  Just worry about the living.”

“That’s a bit… cold…”

“It’s practical.
People die all the time – you’d go mad being sad about all of them, especially
if there’s nothing you can do.”

“Would you be sad if I died?”

“I’d prefer you didn’t while I’m protecting you.”

“You’re protecting me?” Alex smiled slightly.  “Cool.”

“I’m… just doing what I was told,” Ten grumbled, continuing
on the path.

She stopped, her eyes falling to the floor with suspicion.  The ground ahead was pool of shimmering black
like a pit of tar or oil had materialised there.  She turned back to Alex, asking him, “what is
this?”

The boy tremored, his eyes bulging from his skull.  “I… I-I was thinking about death, and…”

The girl screamed, suddenly hit by an invisible force that
lifted her into the air and threw her far across the promenade.  “Ten!” Alex cried, but heard no answer.  He saw dumped on the floor like a ragdoll and
he his eyes snapped between her the creature rising out of slick.  The shape of a man, with dripping black
wings.  It exalted, it’s cry seeming to
chill all it touched.

Alex turned from it and tried to run, but the same invisible
force tripped him and he felt himself being pulled back toward the pit.  He knew what would happen next – he would be
sucked inside the creature, subjected to pain unlike any he had ever felt
before, and there was nothing he could do.

But there was something Tenley could do.  She almost always carried a vine with her, a
last gift from Titania that responded to her thoughts.  Bracing herself against a pillar, she whipped
it out, the end of it coiling around the boy’s arm.  She was then engaged in a tug of war with the
creature, but feared if either of them tugged too hard it would snap him in
two.  If she could distract it for just a
second… unfortunately Jen and Kay were very disapproving of her carrying
weapons all the time, so all she had was a flashbang.

The flash and bang proved enough, confusing the creature
just long enough for Ten to pull Alex to her.
But this didn’t seem to be an enemy she could beat with just her fists,
or it would have been no problem, so after helping the boy up they immediately
started to run.  Tenley slowed herself
down to keep pace with the boy, but the slick followed.  They ran through a door, hoping to lose it in
the maze of corridors, but its wails stayed right behind them.

“What… w-what now?” Alex panted desperately.

“I don’t know,” Tenley shrugged, “you thought it up.”

“So?”

“So,” she put her thumb under her lips as she thought, “think
up something that will help us.”

“Like what?”

“It’s another Star Trek monster, I’m guessing.  So how did they beat it on the show?”

“They… they didn’t.
They just distracted it so they could rescue their crewmen.”

They walked into what seemed like a dead end with just a
sofa and photocopier.  Behind them, the
slick was already slithering it’s up the corridor.  “Well,” Tenley observed, “you’re going to
have to come up with a more permanent solution.  And you have about twenty seconds to do it.”

“I…” Alex tightly shut his eyes.  A few seconds later, a shiny black object
dropped into Tenley’s hands.

“What’s this?” She asked, wrinkling her nose at it.  “A hair dryer?”

“A Varon-T disruptor.
Banned by the Federation… it disintegrates things from the inside out.”

There was no more to discuss it, as the angel of death was
taking shape again just a few metres away.
She aimed and fired, the weapon screeching as a bluish-green beam struck
the creature.  It cried, backing off a
little clearly at least hurt by the attack.
But it didn’t disintegrate.

“Just keep firing!” Alex insisted.  “It can take a few…” the creature
exploded.  Tenley seemed to sense it just
the instant before it happened as she forced them both behind the photocopier
to avoid any of the oil splashing on them.

Tenley stood, patting herself off before handing Alex the
disruptor.  “Good job,” she said.  “Real slick.”

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