Sometimes there are moments in a person’s life where they realize that resistance is futile and it’s best to go along with what took place. Much to Talia’s surprise, the human soldier listened to her words and didn’t make a move to resist her. Maybe it had something to do with what she’d accomplished against the Dragus and its minions, or perhaps this young man possessed enough brains to know he was outmatched.
Thank Chiekra, she thought, I killed enough already today.
“Sorry about this,” she whispered into his ear. “You’re going to wake up with a headache.”
Before the man could speak, she slapped her palm down onto the back of the soldier’s head. The young man stiffened for a second before he went limp in her arms and then Talia lowered him to the ground. What she’d done bordered on dishonorable but the humans left her without a choice. Stay and she’d be captured and the other Dragus could run wild and take over the planet. Escape and try to find the second soldier and take her chances with the authorities chasing her.
She took a second to look around and try to get her bearings. One thing that didn’t change over the centuries was the amount of sprawl around the Washington DC area. Housing, shopping and restaurants sprouted up around the capital, making the area confusing as hell to navigate if not from there. And to make things worse, this city didn’t match the one she’d visited before and without access to the Valiant there was no way for her to find her exact location.
Somewhere along their travels, she’d heard the humans say something about finding a needle in a haystack. At first the saying confused her because why would someone waste time trying to find a needle in all that vegetation? Then it made sense, that it meant trying to find something small in a large area.
I feel like I’m the needle, she thought.
Night had fallen while she’d been incarcerated, which left Talia even more confused as to where to go. Overhead, the cloudy sky was a uniform yellowish green color as it reflected some of the city’s lights back down. No matter which direction she looked, things stayed the same, keeping her from being able to determine her location, which elicited a long, slow sigh of resignation.
As far as Talia was concerned, staying put wasn’t an alternative, so she might as well try to find her way to Richmond. If the foolish humans were going to try to monkey around with a Dragus, then that left her no choice but to step in otherwise there’d be no future for her to return to. And being in time line where her mortal enemies were killing everything in sight didn’t appeal to the warrior at all.
Talia sprinted across a large field and then knelt down in the shadows behind the landing gear of a large plane. If she knew the humans, it wouldn’t be long before someone sounded an alarm and would start hunting her and then the game would be on.
Lights started to activate across the field and soldiers raced out to the various vehicles parked around the main building. While it spelt bad news for Talia, it also impressed her too because it meant the commander was on his toes, which always pleased her. Of course it shouldn’t when the person they were after was her, but old habits die hard and the warrior found it almost impossible to not feel good about the performance of a soldier who didn’t qualify as an enemy.
Several of the jeeps approached and she moved deeper into the shadows and then leaned back against the landing gear. While it proved the facility commander knew his stuff, it made things difficult to say the least. Trying to escape the base, find a way to get to Richmond, and keep people from knowing she wasn’t human would keep her scrambling like mad.
Of course nothing’s ever easy for me, she thought. If only I could reach the ship.
In the distance several soldiers exited a building and each had a dog on a leash, which lead Talia to grit her teeth. While her body wasn’t human, that didn’t mean she didn’t give off a scent and it wouldn’t take but a brief exposure to her artificial skin or a part of her clothing and the animals would have the trail.
“Great,” she muttered, “just what I needed.”
The first of the vehicles race past and Talia rolled to her left and then came up into a runner’s crouch. Being hunted didn’t faze the warrior, but not knowing where to run to did bother her. Without knowing where she was, it would be difficult to avoid capture and reach the other facility.
A jet flew past overhead, the sight of it hidden by the clouds, catching her attention. The sound of the engines was different than what the military craft’s made when she landed earlier. Talia switched her vision to infrared and spotted the passenger plane as it started to descend in the distance and then she smiled slightly.
If there were passenger planes landing, then logically it went to say that the city was in that direction, which buoyed Talia’s spirits. A minute ago she’d been despondent, frustrated and fearful of how to escape but now the warrior had a sliver of hope. While it would take a lot of work to escape the base, at least now she had an idea of where to go.
Talia sprinted from where she was and then back into the safety of the shadows under another jet. A fence stood a couple hundred yards from where she was but the trick would be how to get there without being caught. Yes, she could outrun the dog and clear the fence in one bound, but that would exhibit far too many of her capabilities and it’d pollute the time line even more. However, if push came to shove she’d do it if that’s what it took to be able to prevent the Dragus from destroying mankind.
The sounds of dogs barking draw her mind away from the fence and back to the problem at hand. If she didn’t get away from the animals, then nothing else mattered because the canines could hunt her down anywhere she went on the base. No, she’d have to risk showing what she was capable of if she wanted to be able to stop the Dragus.
What the hell, she thought, things are screwed up as it is, can’t make it any worse.
Over the years Talia came to realize that sometimes it was better to ask for forgiveness then permission and this quickly started to turn into one of those situations. Yes it would cause repercussions on the timeline, that couldn’t be helped because just by arriving in this time, she’d caused it to diverge so everything from here on out was a new stream. Perhaps, with some luck, it’ll stay clean and unpolluted from here on but she didn’t plan on holding her breath for it.
Wind whipped through her hair as she sprinted across the open space towards the fence. Behind her the dogs started to howl before handlers released the leash’s and let the animals run free. Talia spared a quick glance over her shoulder before she sucked in a deep breath and then leapt over the fence.
Talia hit the ground and then forwards rolled before jumping back to her feet and sprinting away into the darkness. Behind her, the dogs stopped short of the fence and continued to bark and howl in frustration as they realized the warrior thwarted their pursuit.
Sirens continued to wait as Talia sprinted in the direction the landing used. Now that they were in the open areas, the chances that the humans could catch her with their archaic vehicles were slim to remote. Not that it didn’t mean she could afford to take it easy either, because it wouldn’t take but a slight mistake and the soldiers would be hot on her heels again.
What I wouldn’t give to’ve gotten Dannae to listen to me earlier, she thought. But, no! String bean decided to be too smart for her own good and look what happened!
During her long life, it’d been Talia’s experience that major cities, especially capital ones, never truly went dead. Activity continued all day and night long between the clubs and various government and military installations, which made the lack of traffic on the road outside the base unnerving. The humans either changed a lot over the centuries or the base was further away from the city than she thought; both of which were alternatives that didn’t appeal to her at all.
But that didn’t matter to her because there were more pressing issues to deal with. Reaching Richmond would entail travelling, which meant be around the humans and in no way could they be allowed to see the section of her arm that the soldier’s uncovered. The only question remaining was what to use to cover them up with and then how to travel when wanted.
Talia sprinted across the street and then entered a woods on the far side. The small strip of forest separated two neighborhoods, allowing her a chance to use the residential area to her advantage. If the human military worked anything like the one she commanded on Gahlza, then the last thing they’d want would be for the public to know an alien run wild amongst the women and children. The resulting panic would cause so many problems that chasing her would then become the least of their worries.
Too many innocent people would get hurt if I did that, she thought bitterly.
However, the warrior knew the younger race didn’t operate with the same amount of common sense and pragmatism that her people had. No doubt they’d be circling around the neighborhoods either in vehicle or aircraft in the effort to find her, which made getting into cover somewhere her upmost priority. Yes, the human commander would no doubt expect that but nothing could be done about that now.
Talia emerged from the woods and a shopping center of some sort stood a couple hundred yards away. The large cathedral of steel and concrete held court around parking lots capable of handling thousands of cars. Devoid of all sign of human life due to the time, except for a handful of cars by an entrance, the mall looked more like a morgue than a place families went to pass the time or purchase things they needed.
A gentle tug on the main entrance told Talia all she needed to know: it was locked and a security alarm would sound if she opened the door. Just then an idea popped into her head. The humans did function like her people to an extent in that they needed night security and work crews to keep the facility maintained. That meant there’d have to a service entrance open somewhere; she just had to find it.
After several tries, Talia found an unlocked door and then slipped into the labyrinth of passages that ran behind the shops. Pipes ran along the ceiling and the beige colored sheetrock walls screamed of utilitarian design as the warrior wandered them. No tell where they were going to take her; however, with any luck it’d throw the human commander off the track and allow her to find a way to get out of town.
Talia stopped short of a door and peeked through the window before opening the door slowly. Shopping malls at night, when most of the lights were out, look both strange and frightening when devoid of life. The mannequins, normally innocent appearing during the day, took on almost a demonic feel due to the murky lighting.
None of that mattered to Talia because the demons that existed in the universe weren’t made of plastic. They were created out of the shells of what used to be living beings whose bodies were coopted and then used for a purpose against their will. In twenty thousand years of living, Talia never saw anything like the Dragus and hoped to Chiekra she never would again.