Thanks to Kiss of Judas for the names!
“Shit.” They’d been just about ready to grab the kid when all their equipment died. For the third day in a row. “Shit, shit, shit.” Ryan pulled out his earbud and threw it to the ground. “If I didn’t know better, I…”
“Don’t,” Chelsea cut him off. The rookie glared at her.
“Come on, Taylor, we’re hunting a fracking baby singularity! You can’t tell me not to be superstitious at a time like this!”
“Exactly.” She pulled out her own earpiece. “Come on, we’re walking back to base. Look, Moore. We’re hunting a baby singularity. That means that we’re out of the main guide book and into the red cover.”
“Meaning don’t know better. If your gut or your superstition tells you it’s probably a flying tribble, then look for flying tribbles. The target has harpies providing air support, Moore. Harpies. Anything. Is. Possible.”
“Is that the first page in the red-cover guidebook?”
“Rookie, that’s the only page in the red cover.” She grinned at him and got out of the car. “Anything can happen. Your granny was right. Watch out for flying tribbles and talking moose.”
“And wear comfortable shoes,” Ryan added, looking down at his very-practical black boots. “Is there any proof against… whatever keeps happening?”
“Depends on what it is that’s happening. If it’s a conventional EMP, turning everything off or using old-style tech would do it, although we’d stand out like a sore thumb in a steam-powered car. But what were you saying, before I cut you off?”
He shot her a look. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was gremlins. My grandfather was a World War fighter pilot,” he added, his hackles visibly rising. “He talked about gremlins all the time.”
“Gremlins.” Chelsea flipped back in her mental creature list. Goblins, greymalkin… gremlins. “You know, that would make sense. I wonder how they got them to work for them?”
“Sheer charisma?” Ryan glared sourly at the ground. “You’ve met the pair. They don’t seem all that charming, but they’ve got all the aberrant races eating out of their hands – in some cases, I’d be willing to bet it’s literal.”
“Well, they’re singularities. You can’t expect a singularity to act by normal human rules.” As nice as it would be, since most singularities looked and acted like humans on the surface.
“Man, she really looks like a kid.” He frowned, suddenly worried. “You’re sure she’s really an anomalous individual?”
This happened to all rookies at least once. Some of them got over it. Others washed out. “Ryan, look. You gotta just put on your green lenses and look at the flows. Don’t look at the kid-shape in front of you. That way lies madness.”
“Right.” The rookie’s shoulders slumped. “It’s just…”
“Yeah, I know, kid. They look so cute. It’s like a baby harpy, though: it looks cute, right up until it’s ripping your intestines out. Stay strong, man.” She patted his shoulder. “You’ll see, once we get this one contained. Then her true colors will come out.”
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