Union interrupts her, "If Thor was responsible for the thunderstorm, he seems to have no problem with ranged attacks, Aegis. Did the other one actually fire Lightning? I'm not as concerned about that than other options, and I might even be able to turn it to my advantage."
"Not sure if it was really lightning, or something more esoteric. I'd suggest leaving experiments for the last resort, myself, unless we can find out more about it." Aegis continues, "We may need to split upsome of us dealing with any attack while the rest push on to try to find the prisoners. Delta, I think if that happens you should go with the second groupthe prisoners might need medical attention."
Delta V shakes his head, resulting in a blur of motion and a humming sound, "I agree that I should go through the machine along with Dumas. However, I do have some reservations about splitting the team into two groups. If my time in the army taught me one thing, it's that a group stands the best chance for survival if it stays together. But, in all fairness, I do think much of what happens when we go into this other dimension will be dictated by our reacting to exactly what we encounter."
Victor speaks up again. "The idea of me going in first was just to quell fears of the device working properly. If now you don't trust me to go first alone, then we can all go together. However, I think establishing some shade of trust is paramount to completing the mission." He looked on at them with a serious visage.
"It has nothing to do with trust, doctor," Aegis repeats in her best dealing-with-touchy-clients voice. "It's a matter of using what we have as effectively as possible. The concern over you going alone has to do with the fact that we can't afford to lose you, nothing more. If you appear someplace... unexpected, you may need assistance to extricate yourself and return to our dimension." She shrugs fluidly. "Everything in life's a gamble. I've no wish to lose one, going needlessly alone into a high-risk situation, any more than I want to stake the whole group on this contraption working as expected. Sending two to check out the situation seems to me an acceptable compromise." She looks around at the group for their opinions, as well. "Disagreements are allowed, you know," she adds with a smileno one can see it, but it warms her voice. "Don't let this place overawe you too much. We need to be unified before we can give this our best shot."
"Aegis is right, Dumasit's not about trust, it's about tactics." Union gestures to include all of the group from yesterday's riverside battle, "We all have enough trust in your device, and have enough at stake, to try it unconditionally. But if this is going to work we need to be flexible in planning and reacting, and make the best use of what we've got. You yourself said it earlier: we only get one shot at this, and the lives of innocent women are hanging in the balance." Union's voice is mechanically flat during this, masking any feelings or inflection, but his gesture and words obviously trying to be inclusive.
*Of course, I don't trust you any farther than I can throw you without this suit on. I've spent too much time dealing with slick customers like you to be taken in by your arrogant self-assurance, Doctor. You may be brilliant, and we may need you, but you can bet I'll be keeping an eye on you and think hard about any of your 'Suggestions'.* Adrian's eyes are hard under his helmet, suppressing the flare up of his old man's temper, but he is too far away for Dumas to read them and the suit prevents any unconscious body language.
"Hmmm...yes. I must yet to have a good grasp of your language. I did not mean to say that I thought you did not trust me in the manner of my honor, but more as to the manner of being able to handle myself. It was only a fragmented thought at best anyway."
He looks around the gathered heroes and smiles at them all in a friendly manner.
"Unfortunately the platform device has a life cycle of basically two trips. One there and one back. I was going to be going to the alternate dimension on my own power. I have yet to attempt to bring someone else along with me in the past, therefore I choose not to try this time. I will go and set up the beacons. The device here will be alerted when the beacon is in place and operational. Then Mister Stark will operate the equipment as he has done so in the past. You will all then be transported directly to the location where the beacons are. Presumably I will be able to find a safe location. If not, then I shall return, again on my own power. Once we have completed our mission, we will return to the beacons and Mister Stark will once again activate the device. After that the circuits will most likely be fused together and need replacement before another trip can be conducted."
Aegis can feel her eyebrows rising. "Ah. I think we were not aware that your abilities included trans-dimensional travel. That does change the situation a bit."
"Its one of the functions of being able to phase your body. When phased, I am not totally in this dimension. I have expanded my abilities over the years to include dimensional attunement."
Adrian is no more thrilled with this new information than Aegis appears to be. *Why does that sound like he just pulled an explanation out of nowhere? I know it's probably true, but even so it's troubling. It's also probably time to change the topic before this turns into a fight* "Aegis, do you have any other ideas on tactics?" Union asks hopefully.
She wants to pace, but manages to keep still. "Darkangel, that shadow dome seemed pretty effective last time. How versatile is it? Could you use it to contain them?"
The winged albino shrugs, indicating that he isn't entirely sure, but is willing to give it a try.
Union nods again, amazed at the armored woman's clarity of thought and tactical sense, "That hadn't even occurred to me. Even if you can't contain all of them, using DarkAngel's slid shadows or Emerald's telekinetic constructs to contain or blunt Skurge's Axe would be a huge advantage. Captain, do you think you could take Skurge in a brawl where he didn't have that thing?"
"I think so." The Captain responds, looking almost eager, "He had some good moves, but I'm not a complete slouch in that department myself. And like I said, I barely felt his punch yesterday. He sure felt mine."
Emerald glances up at the mention of his name. He too was looking at the new Stark microcomputers. "I'd be more worried that Loki might show up again. At least with the others you can see them coming. But Loki was a trickster, or messenger god of some kind. He mentioned being a wizard."
"I'd like to be able to say that magic is simply a science we don't understand, but after yesterday's events it strikes me more as a platitude than anything else." Union's artificially modulated voice can't hide a note of concern.
"I have to admit that I'm going to be a little out of element if this place looks the way I think it will: I'm at my best when there are a lot of electromagnetic fields around, and I think a magical Norwegian coast might be a little lacking in them." Union pats the metal cases on his left sleeve, "I've worked up some equalizers, but none of them are field tested. That being said, I think I'm better suited for the 'rescue' team rather than on the front lines on this one. My versatility might prove more useful there..."
Dumas cleared his throat to get their attention. "Perhaps, good Union, the overabundance of iron ore that is similarly located in the Norwegian fjords will also be found there. Since they were using steel type melee weapons, one might come to the simple conclusion that their homeland has those qualities similar to our own. And though I am not completely familiar with your vast array of capabilities, perhaps that one similarity between our worlds will help to some degree?" Dumas looked on through the plastic visor of the clean suit.
Union shrugs slightly, a very conscious gesture, "It's possible the natural magnetic fields of the other dimension might be greater than ours, Doctor. And the high use of metal will help, but for my purposes nothing is better than a good, stable, mechanically generated EM field."
"Emerald's right in that the rank and file Vikingseven their big bruisers like Thor and Skurgeare less of a problem than Loki in the planning stages. He just up and disintegrated a couple tons of water yesterday, and it didn't seem to cost him anything. Much as it goes against the way I'd like to handle things, when it comes to people like him, we may have to adopt a 'shoot first, ask questions later' policy, lest he do something like take over our minds or Lord knows what else. And the woman at the front of the boatdoes anyone have the slightest idea what she's capable of?"
The resulting chorus of silence did nothing to improve Adrian's mood.
Slowly, a faint hum, more tangible than audible, fills the room, emanating from the dimensional transporter. The overhead lights dim slightly. Those closer to the machine can feel the small hairs on their arms and necks standing on end.
Victor steps back from the console and nods to Stark. "She's ready to go when you are," Stark announces.
Dumas looks around. "Now, if their are no further questions, my calculations here are complete and I shall leave for the alien dimension?"
Aegis glances at Tony, the others, then back at Dumas. "No questions here. Godspeed."
He walked over to the axe while he was talking. Once there, he picked up a backpack and then removed one of his gloves and touched the axe with his bare hand. "I will take my leave now. I hope to see you all on the other side."
Victor turns towards Stark and nods.
"Godspeed to you too Aegis."
With that said, both Dumas and the axe seem to noticeably fade in and out of phase and vibrate a little. Then they both start to flicker. Dumas fades and the axe appears, then the axe disappears and Dumas appears. Just when it looked as though the sequence would never stop, Dumas did not reappear and the axe turned to normal phase.
Doctor Victor Dumas was gone.
After a moment of stunned silence, Union finally finds his voice, "Well, actually, its a bit of a comfort that he's based this device on his own powers. At least we know what he's talking about is possible..."
"Mr. Stark, I'm assuming that Dr. Dumas' powers and," Union nods his head at the dimensional transport device dominating the room, as well as the heroes thoughts, "this device work off the same principlesdimensional vibrational frequencies?"
Stark nods. "Basically, the principles are the same, Union."
Union nodes at this information. *That's good to know. I need to get a good look at this device later, as a key to understanding Dumas' powers.* "Well, we have to assume it works at least as well as that little trick. I think we're all set to go."
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© 1999 Mark L. Chance et al