“You know,” a voice in Talia’s head said, “one of these days you’re going to get yourself into trouble with these ‘can’t miss’ plans of yours.”
“Oh hush, Methos,” Talia shot back through her neural link.
“And who’ll have to bail you out…? Oh, yeah, that’ll be me!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Methos.”
“How about Selkirk? Or that time you ended up on the ladder crane?”
“I told you I could take care of it myself.”
“Hmph. Sure didn’t look like it to me.”
“Pipe down shorty.”
“Hey! Mention my height again and I’m going to kick your ass from here to Mars!”
“You’d need a step ladder to do that.”
“That’s it! You’re in big trouble when we get back to the ship!”
“Like you could really do something to me.”
“I know all your ticklish spots, sis! And you’d better not cut off the sensations to the cybernetic body of yours!”
“Wait just one second! Who gives you the right to do that?”
“When you cracked on my height.”
“I think we need to discuss this…”
“Too late. Next time maybe you’ll keep your mouth shut.”
“You’re such a meanie!”
“Get used to it. Are you in position?”
Talia crossed over a walkway made of yellow river rock and then approached Madisen drive. Methos had a point of course, some of her plans fell through while others worked out. Still, Talia thought, no one could blame her for the failures given how many years they’d lived.
Mankind, and to a lesser extent the Gahl, spent more time and money on pursuing it then they did anything else. To live forever would be a dream they’d say; however, Talia would beg to differ. To continue to exist when all around you died ended up being a special kind of hell that words didn’t describe.
In her twenty thousand years of life, the warrior both saw and experienced things that Talia wished she could forget. Watching her son die of old age while she remained forever young; crewmembers afire and screaming in agony as lasers and missiles pounded her flagship.
What made thing worse, in her opinion, was the fact that the eggheads designed the four of them to get Dopamine highs when in combat. The official story claimed that it made them better fighters, but she found that to be bullshit. After many hours of secret research, Dannae found that it allowed the government to keep the four of them under control. Couldn’t have the four super warriors running amuck, she’d said.
Talia couldn’t believe her ears when Dannae told them what the scientists did to them, and how it was irreversible. The bastards set things up where their engineered warriors had to fight or suffer massive, debilitating withdrawals; thus ending any illusion of free will that Talia might’ve had.
Typical scientists, she thought, playing God and causing someone else to suffer for it. One of these days, the eggheads will do something that is irreversible and will affect them.
She crossed the road and then started to walk down the sidewalk towards the museum of art. Getting the device would prove tricky to say the least. No one up to this point accomplished a successful robbery on the institute-a record that stood until the terrorists stole the device eight hundred years from now.
To call the mission a tough task would be the understatement of the year. After hacking into the security system, Dannae could only tell Talia that a total of twenty to twenty-five guards patrolled the building. And to make things worse, the men and women didn’t move on any recognizable pattern.
Talia slipped into the shadows the lurked around the building and then made her way towards where the side entrance awaited. Limbs from the cherry and dogwood trees pulled at her black coat as she moved. It would be easy to switch to night vision and see everything clearly; however, the warrior chose to retain the last shreds of her normal life.
If someone doesn’t like that, she thought, then they can sue me.
“I’m approaching the door,” she sent to Methos.
“And here we go…”
“Not my fault your plans fail so much.”
“Keep thinking that. This one will work.”
“Ok. I’ll stay by the Ducati just in case. I got the feeling we’re going to be racing out of here.”
A small light shone down on the door, illuminating a small keypad. “Typical! Biometrics and retina scans and that want to push buttons!” Talia pulled a small device out of her pants pocket. “Shall we?” She asked herself as she hacked into the museum’s security network. “Don’t mind if I do.”
Red lights flashed as the computer scanned the network. A second late a button went green, allowing the device to go back to work. In less than a minute, four lights were green and the click of a door unlocking followed.
Talia opened the door and then entered the dark building and then closed it behind her before a guard spotted it. Easy part down; now onto the challenge. A part of her wanted to talk to Methos to keep her mind on track but it’d distract her too much from the task at hand and potentially cause a major problem with the timeline.
Earlier in the day, she and Methos scouted the museum out. Thanks to the throngs of visitors, finding the device and see how the Smithsonian Police patrolled the building ended up being absurdly easy. The biggest mistake officers make when looking at threats, they end up almost exclusively profile men; a mistake that allowed the two warriors to take their time and ensure that they found everything that could cause problems.
Of course, Talia reminded herself, things can always go south fast.
Knowing the device’s location was one thing; getting to and then exiting the building would prove to be another. Because, Cheikra only knew why, the humans put the device’s display on the fourth floor. That made getting to it problematic at best and would prove to be a challenge for every skill Talia knew.
Talia slipped through the shadows before stopping at the foot of the main stair case and then craning her head back. No security in sight; in fact, the place seemed abandoned of all human life as she licked her lips before starting up the stairs. Of course the police were still in the building; the computer, when Dannae hacked into the Smithsonian’s system, spit out a list of officers working tonight. A total of 6 mean and 5 women were on duty, which each patrolling different floors and areas.
“How’s it going, sis?” Methos asked.
“Approaching the second floor landing.”
“Seen any flat foot’s around?”
“What are you talking about? Flat feet and ‘the fuzz?’ Sometimes I swear you’ve lost it.”
“Talia Genea De’Zahna, you know that you’re crazier than me so don’t go there.”
“I think I will, the water seems fine.”
“Yuppers. Now, will you tell me what you mean?”
“’Flat foots’ and ‘The Fuzz’ mean the police.”
“Oi. Why didn’t you just say that?”
“I like human slang.”
Movement in the distance caught Talia’s attention and she pressed back against the base of the escalators. The guard took a leisurely pace, shining a flashlight into the shadows on either side, as he made his way down the wide corridor.
Talia bit back a curse as she edged backwards until she put the escalator between she and the man. Stupid humans! If they were more mature, more willing to not kill each other for the slightest thing, then this trip wouldn’t have been necessary. Now, she had to try to recover her people’s property and not mess up the timeline too much.
The guard still had twenty yards to go before he reached her, giving Talia some time to decide what to do. If she remained in place, then the chances of being spotted were high. Moving also gave the security a chance to capture her too.
Damned if I do, she thought, damned if I don’t.
She spun on a heel and then sprinted up the escalator, taking pains to try and keep the noise down. One thing about having a cybernetic body, she thought, was that it sometimes ended up being impossible to sneak around.
Of course, it wasn’t her fault; the murder of her biological body happened when Kate Almir controlled things. Almir’s attempt to escape the planet Barcelona, where kids and you adults were pitted against one another in arena’s in fights to the death. Making things more disgusting, in Talia’s opinion, where the thousands of seats built around the fighting surfaces. Humans actually travelled there, to a planet not within legal reach of any of mankind’s governments, to bet on the “games.”
No guards were awaiting her on the second floor landing, so Talia continued upwards. Maybe things would be easier than thought; probably not but it certainly didn’t hurt to be optimistic for a change. Sometimes Talia wondered if she wasn’t too pessimistic in life.
Hard not to be after twenty thousand years, she reminded herself. Look at the things I’ve seen or experienced.
Third floor held no surprises so she zipped ahead and then stopped short of the fourth. The device would be thirty yards to her east. Five minutes from now the timeline would be changed and billions would be alive. That, as far as she was concerned, made the risk to the timeline worth it.
“I’ve reached the fourth floor,” she sent to Methos.
“Alarms aren’t sounding so it looks like you’re doing ok.”
“Told you this plan would work,” Talia said as she stood up and then walked towards where the device was.
Talia passed another exhibit and then came to a stop. A white light shone down onto a golden egg-like shape. Unlike the Faberge eggs around her, the Planet Killer remained closed. Cheikra only knew how the humans hadn’t activated it and murdered the earth. However, given how her timeline went through that of the earth now, the warrior found herself thankful they didn’t.
“Those have always been famous last words with you.”
“Hush,” Talia said.
“Stop right there!”
“Oh dear…” Talia mumbled as she looked over her shoulder at a pair of guards, guns drawn, less than 20 feet away.
“Step away from the egg!” A middle aged man snapped.
“Hello guys,” Talia said with a smile. “I’m kind of lost and was just passing through. Do you know where the exit is?”
“Who are you?” A woman in her early twenties said. “Someone wanting to make a name for themselves by robbing us?”
“I’m just a nobody. Not worth anything,” Talia said.
“Don’t worry,” the man said, “it doesn’t matter if you tell us or not. We’ll just fingerprint you and run a DNA test. If you’re in the database, we’ll find you.”
“Is that what I think it is?” Methos sounded exasperated.
“If you’re meaning me talking to two guards, then I’d say you’re correct.”
“I knew it! And another plan goes south.”
“I won’t ask again,” the woman said, “Who are you and what is your name.”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“No, you really won’t.”
The officer’s glared at Talia.
“Oi! No need to get pushy. I’m a genetically engineered alien warrior who is twenty thousand years old and I’ve come back from eight hundred years in your future to make sure that,” she jabbed a thumb in the direction of the egg. “Never gets into the wrong hands.”
The woman rolled her eyes and then shook her head. “Looks like we’ve got a ripe one here. The docs are going to have a field day with this one!”
“I knew you weren’t going to believe me,” Talia said.
“Lady,” the man said, “you are a few cards short of a full deck.”
“Huh? What does ‘a few cards short of a full deck mean?”
“This one’s crazy and dumb,” the woman said.
It took every bit of the warrior’s self-control to keep from shaking her head. How typical of a human. Mock that which they found different. Once more, Talia found herself wondering why the Gahl decided to take the humans under their wing and help push their evolution forwards. If anyone asked her, and none of the eggheads bothered to of course, Talia would’ve told them to forget about it.
However, if there proved to be one constant with the human race it would be a combination of stupidity and aggression. Stupidity in the fact that the younger race seemed to love to give up their rights and freedoms at the drop of a hat. The aggressiveness came into play with their incessant need to wage war. At this rate, in Talia’s opinion, no wonder the military industrial complex had as much power as it did.
They both looked competent, so expecting them to suddenly become incompetent would be pie in the sky. However, they were human and humans tended to have a weakness when it came to surprises. Instead of reacting to them immediately, humans would stand there and stare for several, critical seconds.
“Goodbye!” Talia snapped as she spun on a heel.
Both guards looked dumbfounded as Talia grabbed the device and then sprinted towards the far end of the hall. One thing Talia loved about her cybernetic body was the speed of its reflexes. Even with her keeping it, for the most part, at the strength and capability level of a human body, it blew away anything that a normal human could do.
“Hey, Methos…” Talia sent as an alarm started to wail.
“Don’t tell me, Little Miss Perfect, you have the device and am running for your life from the guards.”
“Wow, sure you don’t have psychic abilities?”
“No! I just know you!”
“Well, now that you mention it…”
“I’m with the bike, waiting. From the sounds of the sirens coming our way, I’d say half the police force is inbound.”
“Hope you have a plan for this!”
“Every time you say that, something terrible happens!”
“Don’t ‘oi’ me! You know it’s true!”
Talia approached the end of the hall and the large window that overlooked There’s times when a person needs to do something crazy, an action so out of place that others would find it stunning, to accomplish their goal. This was one of those times, she thought as she leapt.
Glass exploded outwards, the force of her impact sending the shards fling forwards with her, as she burst through and out into the open space beyond. Time seemed to crawl, and then stop for a split second, before gravity won the battle with momentum. The cool wind whipped through Talia’s hair as she fell downwards.
The impact with the sidewalk, while not violent for her, still caused the warrior’s teeth to slam together so hard all the King’s horses and all the King’s men might not have been able to put them back together again. Talia ran her tongue over them and then sighed in relief when they were all there.
Which way to the bike, she thought. Oh, I’m on 12th street, so it’s to my south!
A siren, no multitudes like Methos said, grew closer by the second. If she didn’t make it to the bike, and fast, then there’d be no way to return the device without causing major problems to the time line.
She raced down the sidewalk, the parked cars a blur, as Talia raced towards Methos. While she could easily outrun the police cars, the warrior refused to. What was the point? Every time she’d had to use her body to its fullest potential, it left her shaken and depressed. No one, herself included, wanted to be something other than alive. Just knowing she had the body made Talia sad sometimes. Unlike Methos, Dannae and Crios, she’d never truly bleed if hurt, or be able to lie in the sun and tan.
At this point, she told herself, it didn’t matter. Getting back to the Valiant and returning to their own time did. And if that meant breaking some eggs timeline wise, then so bet it. Not like she couldn’t keep from doing that now anyway.
Methos stood beside the Ducati, her 5’4 frame barely visible behind the motorcycle as Talia raced up. One glace from her shorter sister told Talia all she needed to know. There’d be a major scolding, with a lecture buried in there somewhere, when they got back to the ship.
And it’s not like I don’t deserve it, Talia thought.
“Get on!” Talia snapped before she slammed her foot down on the kick starter.
The twin cylinder motor fired up, it’s silky smooth sound denoting its horsepower output. Talia revved it up three times, allowing the machinery to warm up and get a good flow of oil throughout before throwing it the gas. Rocks sprayed behind them as the rear wheel spun momentarily before grabbing traction, sending the bike forwards.
“Hang on!” She said.
“Talia! I’m going to get you!” Methos said.
Talia took a wide turn, taking care to avoid any large holes in the ground, and before heading west towards the Washington Monument. Dannae hid the ship in the rural areas near Loudon, forcing them to head back towards the museum. Ten, maybe more but Talia didn’t have time to count them all and control the bike, police cars raced along Madison Avenue, keeping pace with them.
“That’s bad,” Talia mumbled as she headed towards 14th street and the interstate beyond.
A swarm of DC police, capital police and FBI vehicles raced northbound on 14th street towards them.
Talia cursed under her breath. “And that’s worse.
Judging from the amount of vehicles in pursuit, Talia’s little cat burglary must’ve been the biggest thing to happen in DC in a long time. Why else, she wondered, would Federal Agents, local and capital police all team up to go after one person? Either that, or things were slow and everyone got bored. And given her experience with capital cities, she doubted that.
Without cracking the throttle, Talia swung the bike hard to the right, letting her foot slide across the yellow rocks in order to keep her balance and then shot across the grass.
The police cars rapidly closed the gap as Talia raced to reach the corner of the mall.
“Are you going to do what I think you are?” Methos yelled into Talia’s ear.
“We’ll be fine!”
“Fine? They’ll have us blocked!”
Methos, of course, had a point but Talia would let hell freeze over before admitting that. One thing twenty thousand years of life with her sisters taught Talia, it was that Methos loved to keep things hanging over your head; particularly if she’d warned you about it earlier. In Methos’ mind, that gave her carte blanche to rub her sisters’ face into it.
The rows of cars closed to within twenty feet of each other.
“Hang on!” Talia said.
“Wait! Are you nuts?”
Many times over the long years they spent fighting the Great War, Talia’s sisters claimed that she was crazy. Each time she’d vocally protest their accusation and the argument would run in circles for hours. In reality, though, she agreed with them. No one but a mad woman would’ve been able to create some of the battle plans that she drew up to stop the Dragus’ advance.
However, Talia thought as the wind raced through her hair, it didn’t matter in the end. Many times, despite the failure of her plans, she brought the four of them home safe and sound. No one, not even Methos, could argue that fact.
“I think we can make it!” Talia snapped as they approached the road.
“There you go thinking again! That’s dangerous!”
“Shut up,” Talia said as they jumped the curb and then reached 14th street.
Traffic was lighter then when they’d scouted the place during the afternoon. Most of the government workers had gone home for the day, leaving the residents, those who came to the town to eat and party, and the politicians being wined and dined by lobbyists all who remained.
Which still was a hell of a lot of cars.
Weaving in and out of traffic, and sometimes running between the cars in either lane, became the norm as they raced northwards. Behind them, the authorities refused to give up on their pursuit, which surprised Talia. They were willing to risk a potentially fatal accident over what, to them, was just a harmless golden egg?
And Methos calls me crazy, Talia thought.
Four, blue Ford Taurus’, their flashing lights gave a circuslike feel to the intersection, entertaining the now no longer moving pedestrians on the sidewalks. They’d lived in DC enough to know that such an action either meant a VIP was coming or something bad happened. And while the first was boring as hell, the second gave them a few moments of freedom from their mundane lives, so they watched with joy.
To Talia, though, it was a poor attempt at blocking their advance. If this had been back on Gahlza, the two of them would’ve already been stopped and in custody. Of course, she thought, the humans would be weak and sloppy at their criminal justice. If just fit with everything else she’d learned about the younger race.
Horns blared and cars skidded to a stop as Talia cut across the flow of traffic and then accelerated again. It didn’t take her long to realize this wasn’t going to work in the long term. All indications said that whoever called the shots decided to mobilize every law enforcement, local and federal, unit in the District in order to capture them. And Ducati, or no Ducati, the dragnet would eventually catch up the them.
She cut to the right, then took a jog left before accelerating again. Behind them, the police piled up for a moment before the turned into the entrance, half of them turned right, and then continued the chase.
“Do you know where we are!” Methos shouted to be heard over the wind.
“Well, genius, we’re on the Ellipse! They’ll pin us in now!”
“That’s all you can say? I should smack you!”
“I’d wreck the bike!”
“Got a point there, damn it.”
Multicolored lights off to the right caught Talia’s attention. Methos was right of course. The road they were on just looped around the park, leaving the two of them facing the onslaught of police.
Unless I change the rules,” Talia thought.
One thing about living in DC is that one gets used to having streets either closed off or barricades of some sort being placed at certain places to shut off vehicular traffic. While they, for the most part, gave residents a feeling of security, there were times that they became a royal pain. To the police chasing Talia, this was a day where the latter proved to be correct.
A small opening in a concrete jersey wall, just big enough for a person to walk through, lead towards a small concrete security hut and then to an open road behind it. Somewhere in that direction was the White House; the one place in the city she wanted to avoid because the Secret Service and other agencies would have the ability to log her time spent there and not have it disappear over the next eight hundred years.
And I’d prefer to not let the humans know I’m playing with their past, she thought.
“Don’t you do it!” Methos said as Talia slowed down.
“Got to. No choice.”
“Talia Genia DeZahna! I swear I’m going to kill you when we get back to the ship!”
“Where are we headed?” Talia said she made the left turn and started to accelerate towards a guard who’d stepped out of the shack.
Wisely, or foolishly to his superiors, he stepped aside and let the two women flash by.
“Where are we?” Talia said as the police stopped at the end of the road.
“Uh, I don’t think you want to know, sis.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
For the first time since the chase started, Talia took a moment to see where she’d driven to. One glance was all it took for her to see why they police had stopped chasing. Spotlights were trained on a white building that humans everywhere, even as flung out as their colonies were in the future, recognized.
The White House.
And to make matters worse, they were racing up the south lawn towards the President’s home. No doubt the Secret Service was on high alert and racing to find a way to intercept her and Methos before they could enter the building. Thankfully, Talia thought, the agents didn’t need to worry about that.
“Uhm,” Talia said, “I see what you mean.”
“You’d better get us out of this if you know what’s good for you!”
“I’m working on it!” Talia snapped as she swung the bike to the right and then shot up the sidewalk the marked the eastern edge of the White House complex.
“Cut across the north lawn!”
“What? Wait! You just said that was bad!”