The Others, Part 3
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Last time on Nexus:
The Others, Part 2

Guerra was still shaking his head inside his mind when he returned to his headquarters. He had never experienced anything like this before. However, the insights the artist and the drawing had given him had been instructive, if disgusting.

He had returned to Lisbon around dusk, laid down, and tried hard not to dream.
Unfortunately, it didn't work.

Less than badly rested, he got up the next morning and went back to work after his morning routine.
Videos, photos, witness statements. It got so boring again that he was almost tempted to wish himself back to Madrid.

Then he came across something that caught his attention.

It was a report that had been hacked out of the Foundation archives.

It was from the nineties and told of a man who, according to eyewitnesses, had manifested in a flash of light in Breakenridge, Colorado, USA one day.

Photographs taken by a tourist were attached, showing that the man was wearing some kind of white full-body suit. He had looked around in a hurry before fleeing.

After a small manhunt by the Foundation, which had sold the whole thing to the public as a hoax, the newcomer was finally caught and transported to the next location.

The man had panicked throughout and asked to be released. He seemed to be in fear of something. This continued even after he was locked in a cell. He constantly wanted to be moved to another room. He was afraid of the "Dark," as he called it.

Finally, an interview was arranged with a certain Dr. Trevor to get to the bottom of this fear and also the subject's background. The interview was conducted in a normal interrogation room in front of a running camera that produced a grainy image.

The man, by now wearing Class E clothing, was quite tall and broad, of dark complexion, and kept looking around in a hurried manner. Dr. Trevor, an older gentleman with a short fringe of gray hair and glasses that made his eyes extremely enlarged, sat across from him in a white coat. There were no guards in the room.

Dr. Trevor: Good Sir, you don't have to be afraid. Nothing is going to happen to you here.

Man: That's easy for you to say. You have no idea what's going on here!

Dr. Trevor: That's why I want to ask you. But the room here is brightly lit. You don't have to be afraid of the dark in here.

Man: This is no ordinary darkness, Sir.

Dr. Trevor: Why? Is it alive?

Man: (laughs hysterically) Alive? It's being controlled! And the one who commands this… this thing… She has taken away my home! And she chased me through five different worlds after I escaped.

Dr. Trevor: Uh, worlds? Speaking of which, you showed up here with a flash of light, right? How did you do that?

Man: That was an ontokinetic translocator. Unfortunately, it broke on me the last time I used it. I overused it. Caught fire shortly after I arrived and that's when I threw it away.

Dr. Trevor: So you're from another planet?


Dr. Trevor: Calm down. There are guards everywhere. Nothing can touch you here. Uh, what's your name, anyway?

Man: I won't tell. She'll find me if anyone finds out my name.

Dr. Trevor: All right, um, can you tell me about the world that you-

At that moment, the wall behind Trevor rapidly turns black from a point in the center. The man falls from his chair, his face distorted with fear.

Unknown: No escape…


Dr. Trevor: Wh-what is that! GUARDS! GUARDS!

A woman steps out of the darkness and aims what looks remotely like a silver rifle at the man. A flash of light releases from the barrel, burning the victim to nothing within milliseconds. The woman retreats back into the darkness, which immediately closes again.

Dr. Trevor: What the hell?

Guerra rewound. There was no doubt that the grainy picture showed Elli. But she looked completely different. She wore worn-out clothes, her hair was unwashed and matted, she wore no makeup whatsoever, and what he could read of her face from the grainy image was obviously sheer, mind-bending insanity. That countenance was one more thing that would haunt his nightmares.

He wondered if this phase was before or after the Madrid thing…

He made a mental note to check it against more data.

It took almost five months to sift through and catalog the material he had collected over two years. Much had been redundant, a similar amount embarrassing to all involved, at least Guerra hoped so, and some had been just plain scary.

The spy, who by now knew what Elli could do if someone put a spoke in her wheel, meanwhile wished she'd never find out he'd done research on her. Unfortunately, that had to hold even beyond his death; after all, this was about a time traveler.

Who was so stupid as to want to research her anyway?

Guerra had wanted to personally meet the man who was so interested in the time traveler because of this question.

After everything he had found out had been transferred to a USB stick, he set out to meet his client in downtown Lisbon.

The customer had chosen a small bar and welcomed Guerra at one of the corner tables.

He immediately disliked him, although he made quite a friendly impression. The man had noble features, a bright white smile, and his dirty blond hair was tied back in a ponytail. He had a carefully short-shaven beard, and Guerra was sure that he could be used effectively at Anonymous Eyes to squeeze out everybody sexually attracted to men. And probably even with some other individuals.

But there was something in those gray eyes that Guerra didn't like. A well-hidden arrogance, as if their owner believed that he could stand above everyone else simply by birthright.

He wore a bomber jacket and brown cloth pants.

"Mr… Pipe?" asked Guerra.

"Please, call me Lawrence," the man requested, gesturing for him to take a seat.

"I prefer to call you Pipe, if it's convenient," Guerra said curtly and sat down.

"How cold," Pipe remarked with a smile. "Would you like me to order you something? They have good beer here."

"Thanks, I'll decline," the spy denied. "I won't stay long."

"Suit yourself," his client replied, shrugging his shoulders. "So, what do you have for me?"

"Less than you might have hoped for," Guerra explained. "You forgot to tell us that the subject is a time traveler and can even change universes. That made creating a unified biography extremely difficult to impossible. There are huge gaps."

"That was to be expected," was the flat response. "That's why I paid you so much money."

There was nothing else Guerra could add to that.


"While we're on the subject, you know that was just the advance payment, right?"

With his foot, Pipe pushed a suitcase under the table towards Guerra. He took it, opened it so it couldn't be seen by other guests, and began counting through the bank notes that were inside. This took a little time, but then he nodded.

"You should be less trusting," the spy commented. "I could have just made off with the money.
Pipe didn't stop smiling.

"You would have been dead before you even got up," he said kindly. "I took precautions, you know."

Guerra didn't know if he was telling the truth or bluffing. He hadn't taken major notes of any of the guests when he came in, and as a spy you inevitably developed a kind of sixth sense for that sort of thing. But one could never completely rule out something like that…

Guerra wordlessly handed him the flash drive.

"What are you going to do with it, if you don't mind me asking?"

"I've been looking for this woman for a very long time, Sir. I want to finally meet her."

Guerra thought back with slight discomfort to what he had heard in Lisbon.

"If you think so… if you'll excuse me now, I have other commitments waiting for me."

"Oh, of course, if you'd like. I would have bought you a drink."

"That's very kind, but thank you. I hope you have a nice day."

"You too, Mr. Guerra."

Guerra froze for a moment. He was sure he hadn't revealed his name.

"I told you I was prepared," Pipe replied, still smiling that penetratingly friendly smile.

Guerra left the pub with a queasy feeling in his stomach.

Behind him, Pipe stared with triumph at the flash drive he had received.

"Do you hear that, I773?" he asked quietly into the void. "That's the sound of approaching fate…"

And disappeared in a flash of light, to the surprise of everyone present.

Next time on Nexus:
Copy Cat, Part 1

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