The Witch, the Mage and the Dimension Traveler, Part 2

Zenon Zwiefka, head of security at this event of the Polish Anomalous Mushroom Picking Association, was just on his way to his van, which he had parked in a parking lot at the edge of the national park. He was an older man who had once been tall and massive, but was shrinking due to his age. He was actually going to make a routine call to his people, but that's when his radio crackled.

"Zwiefka here, what's up?" he called in.

"Chief? Frydrychowicz here. Um, we have a break-in in the closed perimeter. The intruders have escaped. Some through some kind of portal technology, but two took off in a pretty fast Trabant."

Zwiefka rolled his eyes. Now he had to deal with that, too…

"Has anyone been hurt?"

"Szlachetka got rammed, but he'll live. None of the mushroom experts seem to have noticed anything."

Zwiefka exhaled in relief.

"Okay, get this guy to the emergency room and send Baran out in the SUV with three guys to get the Trabi stopped. And anything else these guys should be using to get around."

"You got it, chief."

Chalita checked the contents of the bag she had taken from the blonde. Her carpet, meanwhile, was moving east. With any luck, she would make it to Crimea today.

"Boss?" croaked Oz beside her as he stared down. "Are you sure stealing the mushrooms from those two was a good idea?"

"Don't worry about it," Chalita said, contentedly closing the bag. "We have to go to the other side of the globe, what are they going to do? Chase us all the way to Thailand?"

"Well, so far they're doing a pretty good job."

The witch turned, confused, and stared down from her carpet.

A country road ran below them, with an old car driving along it. Chalita didn't know the type.

But she recognized the woman who was sticking her head out the window below them.

But no one should be able to notice her carpet!

"APOOOOORT!" she heard her yell.

Suddenly, movement came to the bag. Like metal attracted to a magnet, it began to fly out of Chalita's hands and slither to the edge of the rug. She was still quick enough to turn the edge over via thaumaturgy, which actually caused the mushrooms to stop.

However, this seemed to cause the entire carpet to fall victim to this strange force, as it began to sink downward, right toward the car.

Chalita put more force into her flying object, but in response the pulling force increased. A kind of thaumaturgic tug-of-war took place, which the woman finally won, as the carpet suddenly leveled off again.

"No!" the witch was still shouting as her prey flew down.

Mirabilis nodded smugly as the bag landed in her hand. She retreated into Annemarie, the Trabant, and rolled up the window.

It should be noted that Markus sat in the back seat and she herself in the passenger seat. The steering wheel and pedals moved without anyone operating them.

"Okay, Annemarie, now put your foot down!"

At the steering wheel, the gear lever was set in motion and the car accelerated.

Mirabilis watched in the rearview mirror as the Asian-looking witch gave chase.

The saleswoman could recognize her, despite her glamour, because she had previously dripped clear drops into her eyes. She always had some of the stuff on her in case someone tried to pull a fast one on her with antimemes or witchcraft.

"Shall I deal with 'er?" asked Markus.

"Nah, leave it," Mirabilis waved off. "Her thaumaturgy is no match for Annemarie's magic, so sooner or later she'll have to give up."

"And what about the blonde?"

"We'll have to deal with her when we arrive, Markus. No matter how fast we are, Elli is unfortunately faster…"

"But what's so dangerous about 'er? Looked like a nice family. And she saved la fille that we couldn't track down in time."

The shopkeeper turned to the woodman.

"This woman, Markus, is staggering through the world, destroying priceless artifacts and ruining people's lives as she sees fit. Hell, I've heard stories of her tracking victims through multiple dimensions to kill them. If you think I'm going to grant even a modicum of pleasure to such a monster, you've got another think coming! And we'll figure out how to free the girl from her clutches later. I owe her that."

"Ah, the bag has changed hands. And there's a good portal frame coming up ahead, too."

Chloe and Dean looked at a monitor next to the cosmoscope while Elli continually changed settings so as not to lose sight of the car.

"What's the plan? Are we going to wait at the destination?" asked Dean.

Elli shook her head.

"No, the problem with Mirabilis' Wunderkabinett is that absolutely anything can happen when all the members are together. So we should prevent them from reaching their store and getting their colleagues into this, then we'll save ourselves a bunch of problems."

"I see," Dean said. "I'll go get my bike ready."

"No," Elli stopped him. "I know this type of car, it calls for a more sophisticated approach… How far were we with Cynthia?"

"We're done, at least you said you finished programming the computer. I then reassembled the rest," Dean replied.

"Perfect," Elli grinned. "Watch it, Chloe, this is the latest acquisition of my own toy store…"

While Dean left the room, Chloe tried to make sense of who or what Cynthia was.

Annemarie was still being chased by the carpet witch as she drove past a gas station. Mirabilis just caught a glimpse of the world turning black under the roof between two pillars, then they were past.

She looked through the rearview mirror.

And rubbed her eyes in disbelief.

Out of Ellis's portal speeded a black Formula One car with a windshield and took up pursuit with screeching tires. She couldn't see who was driving through the blackened glass.

"Oh my! Annemarie, step on it!"

The engine howled a little farther but the acceleration was not enough to outrun the witch or the strange vehicle.

"Crow's feet!" the saleswoman barked.

Annemarie's trunk popped open, dropping a veritable cloud of crow's feet onto the road behind her.
The witch flew over it and the driver swerved to the side.

At first Mirabilis thought he was leaving the roadway, but there was a ditch beside him.

Then the car suddenly turned on its two left wheels, leaving the crow's feet behind.

Markus fell into a light applause.

"How did he do that?" asked Chloe in the Nexus as she watched the chase with not imperceptible excitement.

"The car can manipulate its own gravity," Elli explained. "By making one side much lighter than air, Dean can do stunts like that."

Chloe thought about it, then shrugged.

"Where did you guys find something like that?"

Elli waved it off.

"The thing was originally a weapon, at least until Dean removed everything that was a weapon on it. A warlord down in Africa put the thing on us for kidnapping his child soldiers. After he tried to make me his slave… Black supremacy and stuff. Anyway, the thing followed us into the Nexus where I unceremoniously shut it down. Dean rebuilt it afterwards and I reprogrammed the AI."

"What needed reprogramming?"

It was a moment before Elli answered, as she sipped her flask.

"Oh, one thing or another…" she then said.

Dean sat in an ergonomically designed seat with a motorcycle helmet on his head. The way this car had been modified, he was the only one who could drive it, because it required him to connect to it by cable. This ran from the console to Dean's wrist and disappeared under the sleeve of his jacket.

"Cynthia? Can you get the grappling hook ready?" he asked.

A female computer voice sounded in his head.

"I'm very sorry, but the target is moving too erratically for good target acquisition. Gathering more data."

"Hmm," Dean made.

The car had previously had a rocket launcher and some other weapons, but Dean had removed them because Elli had not wanted to approach the vehicle to work on it in this state. So what could he use to get this Trabant to stop?

"Uh, Dean?" asked Cynthia suddenly.

Was he mistaken, or did she sound shy?


"When we're done here, uh, maybe you and I can go to the drive-in? Alone?"

Dean gave a resigned groan.

"Elli programmed that into you, didn't she?" he asked dryly.

"Please don't hate me!" the car whined.

Dean rolled his eyes under his helmet.

"Look, I'll consider if you do your job properly."

"You're the best! By the way, I'd still have that gravity bind."

"Good idea, let's try that one."

"Determining radius… Target acquired. Gravity bind activated."

The vehicle began to emit a low hum.

The Trabant as well as the carpet suddenly slowed down as they were caught by the gravity field that Cynthia was projecting forward.

"Aiming grappling hook!" reported Cynthia.

The trunk of the Trabant suddenly opened and a disk mine flew out.

"Oh crap!" escaped Dean as he hastily dodged the bomb. However, this caused the two targets to leave his gravitational field and accelerate again.

"Crap! Deactivate gravity bind! Get after them, Cynthia!"

"Right away!"

The car began to accelerate.

"Heavens, what was that!" exclaimed Chalita excitedly as her carpet finally came off the floor again.
The weight that had just come to it nearly caused her to hit the ground. Oz rolled back to his feet beside her.

The black car seemed to have some tricks up its sleeve.

But so did she…

"I can't believe I have to use this…" she muttered as she rummaged in her robe and finally pulled out a black stone decorated with runes. She crushed it in her hand.

From her hand erupted a massive black hellbird, as large as a glider. It trailed a tail of burning ash behind it.

"Grab the small car!" the witch barked.

The bird gave a low croak and grabbed the roof of the small car, which suddenly changed color from red to white.

This wasn't actually part of what she had in mind, but Chalita took it that way. She had no intention of hurting the occupants, but hopefully they would be so startled that they would voluntarily hand over the bag of mushrooms.

Annemarie wiggled back and forth as that ghastly bird scratched the paint job of Mirabilis' car with its claws.

"You might want to hand in the mushrooms, Madmoiselle!" shouted Markus from the back seat over the bird's roar.

"Don't talk nonsense, Markus, we aren't finished in the slightest!"

She had to say that, hadn't she?

Promptly, a black portal appeared in the passenger window.

"Surprise!" she heard Elli purr on the other side before sticking her head and left arm through to reach for the bag.

Luckily, Elli didn't know that Annemarie could control her inner dimensions. The space between Mirabilis and the door suddenly expanded, putting distance between the two women.

Elli responded by pulling back and creating a new portal in the resulting space right next to Mirabilis, this time using the entire driver's cab as a frame.

Annemarie simply repeated the procedure.

Elli cursed and closed the portal again.

By now, the bird was about to lift the car off the ground. Mirabilis had to act quickly.

In front of her in the glove compartment was a linen bag when she opened it.

Elli had burned the original, but Mirabilis had put more effort into the 2.0 version she now had on hand.

She rolled down the window and shouted, "Cudgel, out the sack!"

A small wooden club shot out of the sack, whizzed out the window, and started hitting the bird's head. The latter tried to snap at the magical object, but it elegantly dodged and resumed its task.

All this action had Mirabilis so upset that she didn't even notice how the bird forced Annemarie to drive in a straight line.

And behind her, the black Formula 1 car moved into position…

There was a jolt as a grappling hook with a carbon rope as a tether shot out from the car, pierced Annemarie's rear and snagged.

In response to this brazen attempt to outbrake, Annemarie extended a machine gun from the trunk and emptied its magazine at the vehicle behind her, which seemed to take no damage from it.

She then poured her special oil onto the roadway behind her. Actually, it was meant to make pursuers run off the road, after all, its coefficient of friction was close to zero. But now it was used to provoke the stunt maneuver from before again, because it would not give the car enough grip to outbrake the smaller car.

And indeed, it worked. Only, Annemarie's oil supply was limited.

Mirabilis looked out the window in a hurry and saw the solution to her braking problem, now that the bird was distracted with the stick.

"Annemarie! To the left! Get off the road!"

"Mademoiselle!" warned Markus. "We 'ave a 'ole in the trunk!"

"There's nothing important in it, Markus. Come on, Annemarie!"

Annemarie swung to the left and made a hop onto sloping grassland. The bird let go momentarily and soared into the air. There it spewed a blast of flame at the club, burning the wood to ash in seconds.

The black car, still on two wheels, was completely thrown up by this change of course and lifted off the ground like a balloon. It then crashed to the ground, seemingly back to normal weight, but did not muster enough friction on the damp grass to brake.

Annemarie, meanwhile, shot away down another slope and reached her destination.

The cool waters of the Bober River.

Zwiefka had his men line up while he surveyed the damage.

He had gone after his men with another car after informing his second-in-command of everything and found a wreck.

The car had missed a field of crow's feet by a hair's breadth, some of which were nevertheless stuck in the two left tires. So far so good, but what the safety chief hadn't wanted to believe was that his employees had then driven into a shaped charge mine.

The plate-shaped thing had immediately triggered and driven a small metal spike into the engine block, which had subsequently disintegrated itself due to this small irregularity.

The remains of the car gradually disappeared behind a growing cloud that rose from the engine compartment.

"What are you going to tell me next? That the thing was boarded via grappling hooks or that you slipped on oil?" he asked with dry anger.

That would have consequences…

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