Dreaming with Elli, Part 2
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Last time on Nexus:
Dreaming with Elli, Teil 1

Something wasn't right. As Chloe sank into Ellis' dreams, she felt something beginning to pull at her mind.
But the feeling was over as quickly as it had come.
When Chloe opened her eyes, before her she saw a drab, gray concrete wall, illuminated by moonlight. A pipe was attached on top of it. When she turned around, behind her were tall buildings made of bricks….
Chloe remembered. She had already stood before this wall with Dean and Elli.
But on the other side! The one with the graffiti.
She had ended up in East Berlin in the era of the GDR!
Alarm sirens blared and next to Chloe, something that looked like a VW Beetle with riveted armor plates broke through the wall.
The vehicle drifted and rushed to Chloe‘s position before braking abruptly.
"Usually people break out of this country, not into it! I almost ran over a girl!"
Chloe recognized the voice.
"DEAN!" she shouted, running to the driver’s side of the car.
Dean was sitting in it, but he looked different. He had his black hair and expressionless face, but he was much smaller and slimmer built. This had to be one of his previous bodies. He looked at Chloe skeptically.
"What the… Elli, is that a time-traveling friend of yours?"
Elli, who was sitting in the passenger seat, stared wide-eyed at Chloe.
"Let her into the car, Dean!"
Dean turned to her skeptically.
"What?"
" Let her into the car, QUICKLY!"
Shaking his head, Dean opened the door and, despite his reduced body mass, heaved Chloe onto Ellis' lap with one hand as he stepped on the gas.
Not a moment too soon, since green-uniformed border guards poured out of the hole behind them, chasing the car with loud shouts and whistles. Rifle shots cracked but bounced harmlessly off the car's reinforced chassis.
It took a little while, but then Chloe had crawled into the back seat. Next to her sat an old woman in a headscarf, eyeing her with moderate interest.
Elli, who now wore her blond hair in a thick ponytail, turned to her.
"So, now I want to know what you're doing here. You have no business in our escort mission of seventy-five. I was here with you in eighty-four."
Chloe's jaw dropped.
"Elli, don't you remember? I came in here to warn you and then we got chased by old people. You jumped on a train."
"Oh, you're the real Chloe?" wondered Elli. "Then you probably messed up another dream. Have I told you how everything works around here?"
Chloe nodded.
"The thing is, you mess up memories. But since my brain doesn't tolerate changes to its memories, such sequences are erased when they expire. You're going to have to tell me what you know!"
"Is that anything I should know?" asked Dean.
"No, on the contrary, you avoid listening as best you can. You too, Amanda."
The old woman shrugged and put her fingers in her ears.
Chloe began to talk while Dean steered the car through the nighttime East Berlin.
"Where are you guys going anyway?" asked Chloe then.
"We're supposed to deliver Amanda here to her accomplices."
She pulled down her shirt collar. An actual metal collar was attached to her neck.
"I can't use my Nexus and I can't get more than ten meters away from Amanda or this thing will explode. That's why I tuned this Beetle."
"That beautiful car…" muttered Dean sadly.
"You're supposed to NOT LISTEN!", Elli hissed at him before turning her attention back to Chloe.
"Well, as long as we stay in the car, we should be safe. We'll just drive far enough away for them to fall out of the dream."
"Elli?" the vehicle driver asked.
"Shut up, Dean," Elli growled.
"How did you guys get into this situation, anyway?" asked Chloe.
"Well, actually, I was going to buy alcohol, but a couple of people from the resistance waylaid us. Knew who I was, apparently. Probably had a fortune teller. Well, they wanted us to get Amanda to Potsdam. She can teleport herself and others, but only to places she's been before. That's why the Stasi is interested in her, so she can't just enter the country."
"Elli?" asked Dean again.
"Not now," Elli requested.
"Are we there soon?" asked Amanda, taking her fingers out of her ears.
"We're not even out of Berlin yet," Elli pointed out to her.
"What, what was verbatim said?"
Elli gave a suppressed sigh.
"Oh yeah, Chloe, she's hard of hearing."
"Bullshit! I hear very well!" exclaimed Amanda. "Heard the Russians coming before they were even in sight back in the war, back over in Silesia. Yeah, you youngsters have no idea what those times were like."
"Elli?" said Dean again, but was completely ignored.
"I might be more interested if I hadn't had an explosion collar put on me," Elli replied.
"What, the export buttered in who?"
Elli groaned in annoyance.
Then something rammed the car.
"What was that!" gasped Amanda.
"That's what I've been trying to tell you all along," Dean said annoyed. "There's been a car following us all along with a couple of dodderers in it."
Sure enough, a Trabant had pulled up beside them, ramming them repeatedly.
The woman in the back seat finally leaned out the window with a large iron bar and smashed the glass of the VW Beetle to reach for Elli.
"Hey. How can we open your mind to Oneiroi West?" she shouted as she did so.
"So for that you have to firs-Mmmpf!" began Elli, but Chloe sprang forward and covered her mouth from behind.
"Thank you, Chloe," Elli thanked her.
When the woman tried to reach for her again, Elli didn't dodge, but in turn grabbed the old woman's hands and, using Dean's driving skills, dragged her out of the car, only to have her slam to the pavement.
She rolled a bit due to her moment of motion before coming to rest. The two cars roared away.
Chloe watched her go through the back window and thought she saw her suddenly fall through the ground as a barely discernible dot in the distance.
"Give it up!" yelled Gaunt from the passenger seat. "You have no idea what powers you're messing with!"
"I could care less about your powers," Elli returned with a laugh. "You're here on my turf and you haven't even begun to realize how terrifying I can be!"
Suddenly, all sound disappeared from the world. What Chloe saw blurred and distorted. Suddenly, gravity no longer affected her and she felt that pull again. She realized for the first time what Dean had meant when he said Ellis' spirit was immense. She felt as if she were staring into the endless blackness of the cosmos, only to realize as she walked backwards that she had been looking into the pupil of a gigantic Elli.
Elli was not feeling well…
Her hair was strangely white and her body was too small. That wasn't right. A correction was needed-
I'm Chloe!, it suddenly jerked through her thoughts.
Oh yes, that's right! She was Chloe Winter! And no one else!
The swirl of colors suddenly consolidated again, sounds returned, and Chloe was again caught by gravity.
It happened so suddenly that she struggled to keep her balance, even though she was standing on solid ground.
It took Chloe a bit to get her bearings.
She was standing in a white-painted, high-ceilinged hallway, seemingly made of concrete. An alarm siren blared.
Chloe walked a bit through the empty hallways and passed a clipboard that someone must have dropped on the floor. A symbol on the sheets on it caught her eye.


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She had no idea what that was.
The earth began to shake.
Nearby she saw some people walking through the corridor, they seemed to be soldiers escorting some scientists and mechanics. She pressed herself against the wall so as not to be seen. Then she went in the direction from which the squad had come. When there was chaos somewhere, Elli was usually found in its center.
The floor kept shaking as she wobbled through the corridors.
Then she saw the old people.
They were leaning against the wall of a corridor, obviously worn out. As expected, the woman had disappeared.
"We're not getting anywhere like this, Dorian," the goatee told Gaunt. "This is the second time we've reached that stupid bitch, and the brat is there before us, preventing her from spilling the beans."
"That's right, Tom," Gaunt confirmed. "Better get her out of the way when we run into her again. We may not be able to kill her, but we can at least throw her out of the dream by doing so. Then at least we'll buy ourselves some time, and we just have to hope the dream doesn't change again."
"Good idea, let's go find her."
Chloe decided to go after them. Sooner or later, they had to find Elli.
Only, something found Chloe before then.
She managed to duck just in time before the wall to her right gave way and something she recognized as a blonde angel was hurled through it. At first, she thought it was Elli, because the creature was female and its face was hidden under a white helmet with blond hair sticking out from under it, however it was taller than her. Besides, Elli didn't survive being thrown through a wall, even if she was wearing bright white armor.
Without making a sound, the angel stood back up and turned its attention to the dust cloud behind the wall it had broken through.
Chloe thought she saw faint purple light in it, but then the angel had already lifted off the ground and disappeared back into the cloud. There was a loud crash, followed by the screech of tortured steel.
She had been completely ignored.
No, Elli wasn't here. These were things she was wisely running away from as fast as she could.
Chloe needed to get upstairs.
After some searching, she found a fire escape leading upstairs. Around her, there was another rumble.
Through a fire door above her, the angel crashed through again. This time she had a person in his outstretched hands. A person who wore armor made of segments that had purple glowing lines.
Chloe knew this armor. Elli had shown it to her once, apparently it was one of her projects since it was no longer functional. Apparently it was missing a lot of processors to control the movement.
This model here, however, seemed to work flawlessly, as the female wearer, as revealed by the bulges in strategic places, lashed out with powerful blows at the angel, who, much like Dean in such situations, let the attacks wash over her without batting an eye.
A crater was created when the scaffolded one was drilled into the stair wall. She grabbed the angel's head and gave her a hard headbutt. This seemed to daze her briefly, allowing the armored one to point her index finger at her.
But the winged one caught herself faster than she thought and ducked with superhuman speed under the blue beam that shot out from the finger. Instead, it caused a hole in the concrete wall behind her. The concrete wasn't burned away, it just seemed to cease to exist. The angel then grabbed his opponent and threw her against the wall one floor below, right next to Chloe.
The victim stood up again as if nothing had happened and abruptly turned her head to Chloe.
"What are you doing here? You don't even belong here."
The voice didn't seem to hold itself up with a detour through her ears, but rang directly in her mind.
It belonged to Elli.
But it was cold and steely as a knife.
Chloe felt transported back to the time when she had seen Dean's memories. Elli had spoken similarly then. But at least there had been some humanity left in it. This Elli was indistinguishable from a machine.
This small distraction was enough for the angel to ram Elli again and break through the ground. It took a moment, then the Angel was flung upward.
"Elli! What's going on!!!" yelled Chloe down the stairwell.
Elli below her dropped down.
"Destroying a potential threat to the planet," was the cruelly cold reply. "And you are not supposed to be here."
The angel seemed to be seized by an invisible force, for it accelerated back down, right into Elli's armored fist, and was catapulted back up. Then Elli got her feet on the ground just in time and repeated the process.
The angel was flung up and down like a feathered yoyo until she regained enough control to escape the telekinetic forces Elli's armor was imposing on her. She fled upward.
Elli simply leapt after her, making ten meters in one leap.
Chloe had no choice but to run after the two as the fight continued higher up.
If Elli was in such a fight for whatever reason and thus always kept moving, chances were slim that the old guys would find her. Or could stop her long enough to start a conversation.
Then another part of Chloe's brain reported that the two opponents were moving pretty fast, which meant they could also move very fast away from her. She risked falling out of the dream. Chloe quickened her steps as the duel shifted above her into adjacent spaces and then back down again.
Elli flew through the wall above her and broke through the opposite side. In the process, she brought down the stairs above Chloe. She did not see if the angel followed, for she had to hastily take to her heels to avoid the falling debris, and she rushed through the fire door on a landing.
She found herself in a long corridor with numerous doors branching off.
And at the far end were the old people.
"There you are!" triumphed Jester. They both ran toward her.
Chloe would have trusted herself to take one of them on, but she didn't stand a chance against both. Not without a weapon.
The doors she tried were locked, the stairs buried behind her, so how was she supposed to….
Wait… technically, this was her dream too, right? Elli's memory couldn't be influenced, but Chloe's dreams could. Only, pure imagination was useless. She couldn't just wish a gun into her hand, she wasn't a lucid dreamer…. Wait, maybe Dean could influence her dream from the outside….
Chloe concentrated hard on sending a message outside as the two old men drew ever closer.

Dean was setting up what looked like a cross between a tent and a plastic umbrella around Ellis' bed when Chloe started to get restless. Was she waking up? But Elli was still incessantly giving her error message.
"Mmh… Weapon… Dean… Help," Chloe muttered.
Dean had absolutely no idea what to do. As mentioned before, he wasn't able to dream, so he didn't know how to help Chloe in her dream.
Time to apply what he had learned from the movie Inception (by Christopher Nolan)!
He bent down to Chloe's ear. What kind of weapon did she need? Probably a pistol or something….
"Bang! Bang!" he whispered repeatedly.

The two old men were almost close when Dean's influence was felt. A large roll of bubble wrap materialized in Chloe's hands.
The old men seemed to share Chloe's confusion, for they stopped before reaching Chloe. She threw the roll as a distraction and dashed past them.
Shouting loudly, Jester and Gaunt took up pursuit, but Chloe did not hear them. She tried with all her might to contact Dean again.

"Not enough… More…", Chloe muttered.
Dean skeptically leaned back a little.
He doubted Chloe could handle a machine gun but maybe just holding it in her hand was enough…. He thought she was smart enough not to overreach herself.
"Rattattatta!" he whispered.

Chloe, with an expressionless face, dropped the jackhammer Dean had sent her while still running and tried again.

"Something… Else…"
Dean pondered with much effort, if one could speak of effort in his case. He didn't know what the problem was, after all. Maybe she needed something explosive.
He tried again. A hand grenade would certainly help, even if Chloe was demonstrably a poor thrower.
"Boom!"

The earth began to shake, Chloe was already expecting Elli to crash through the ceiling, but instead a tank burst through the ceiling behind her. Chloe couldn't reach it, let alone operate it, but it gave her a head start as her pursuers had to climb over it. Chloe tried another time as she reached another set of stairs and climbed them. That last one had been a weapon, after all.

"Smaller…" came uneasily from Chloe and she turned on her side.
"You sure are picky today…" remarked Dean.
Maybe she needed something future-oriented with the power of a grenade….
A plasma gun, maybe.
"Pew! Pew! Pew!" he tried.

Chloe frowned as she was suddenly surrounded by cats of all shapes and colors. Fortunately, they were smart enough to stay out of her way.
"Damn it, Dean!" she clenched between her teeth.

Dean waited for more cries for help, but got none. He seemed to have done his job well. He stood back up and continued to build the shield.

Chloe had one big disadvantage over the old people. She was shorter, so she had shorter legs, and thanks to her little god problem, she was starting to run out of breath. It was probably only adrenaline that had gotten her this far in the first place.
She came to a stop on a landing, breathing heavily because her legs suddenly refused to take even another step.
Jester closed in on her, grabbed her by the throat and held her over the railing across the stairwell. The floor was in darkness, so it was impossible to see how deep the shaft reached.
"One less problem," he said grimly.
Beside them, the angel and Elli burst through the wall.
"Chloe!" it echoed in her head, but Elli was too busy with her opponent. That one grabbed the armored lady right now to ram her from below against the stairs above Chloe.
Jester let go in fright rather than on purpose and Chloe began to fall with a loud screech.
She accelerated toward the ground at the usual 9.81 m/s2, but there was nothing to hold onto.
A kind of ring opened up below her, through which she could see the stairwell from a higher perspective. And herself as she fell.
Then she was through it.
And fell past Gaunt and Jester.
The two gentlemen and Chloe exchanged incredulous glances, but then she was past them, too, but she came right back.
Meanwhile, the fight around them intensified. Elli seemed to be giving some of her attention to Chloe now, because it was apparently she who had created the portal. Now she tried to direct the angel toward Jester and Gaunt, who fled hastily up the stairs.
Elli threw her opponent at them and used the moment to slow Chloe down by telekinesis and lift her onto the stairs.
The angel meanwhile crashed into the stairs directly in front of Jester. The whole construct tilted to the side, with the old man slipping off screaming and trying to hold onto the angel as he fell. He caught him by the ankle.
The winged one, however, paid no attention to him at all, but attacked Elli again. The forces at work caused Jester to finally lose his footing and fall down the stairwell, screaming and flailing. Only the portal had closed beneath him.
He disappeared into the darkness and his screaming faded away.
Gaunt growled at Chloe.
"You little tramp!" he spat down at Chloe.
Above him, Elli had grabbed the angel by the throat and seemed to want to wield him as a striking weapon against the old man. But he didn't seem to notice.
"Get the hell back where you came from and don't mess with us anymore!"
He seemed absolutely livid.
And then, just before the angel's helmet made contact with Gaunt's chest to shatter it, the world blurred before Chloe.
The dream was over.
And everything that made Chloe who she was, was caught again in the maelstrom of Ellis' gigantic mind.

Next time on Nexus:
Dreaming with Elli, Teil 3

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