I WILL SPEAK THE TRUTH AND I WON'T LET NO GUVVAMINT MAN TELL ME WHAT TO DO.
“You don't believe me,” Arma said, with an understanding nod. “I think you just need a little proof.” She stood up and stepped back from the table. Tilda raised an eyebrow. She had to admit that she was curious. At least to see just what kind of nonsense Arma would pull to try and 'prove' she was an alien.
Arma smiled, looked at Tilda, and blinked. But there was something wrong with the way she did it. Before Tilda could really process that, the strange woman started to glow with a pale shimmering white light. A humming sound filled the air, like an old electrical device powering up. A mist surrounded Arma, and Tilda's jaw dropped as it solidified into a white dress around the strange woman.
“W-what?” Tilda whispered. “How did you-”
“The Anunnaki are shape-shifters.” She spun around slowly. “We can all do this. Though this is still only a disguise.” As she turned to face Tilda, Arma's appearance changed again. Her skin changed to a teal shade, and the texture warped to scales. Her smile became filled with fangs. The woman's fingers twisted into claws. Tilda stood up and took a step back.
“Holy cats!” Tilda gasped. Arma laughed, a slight hiss in her voice. Tilda looked Arma up and down. She should have been more shocked. Maybe it was because the woman wasn't as monstrous as the spider-tank that she had fought before. Maybe it was because she was more willing to accept such a transformation after experiencing one herself. Or maybe it was because despite how inhuman she was, Arma was still, somehow, beautiful.
“Is this not proof enough?” Arma asked. She stepped closer to Tilda. Tilda was paralyzed, not knowing how to react. A claw came up to her face before running down it, softly. The scaled skin was dry and sleek.
“I think I'm willing to take you word on it,” Tilda said, weakly. Arma laughed again, and that mist surrounded her. As the humming and soft, slightly flickering light died away, she was back to that casual, human, form.
“Good.” Arma walked back to the table and sat down in her seat. “Now, if we can continue with the answers you wanted? I trust you're ready to listen now.”
“Yeah,” Tilda agreed. Cautiously, she sat down. She was definitely awake now. “Okay, so... what, you were here before, secretly in charge of things, and then there was a war or something and you all got kicked out and now you're coming back.”
“Extremely simple and missing many important parts, but essentially correct.” Arma nibbled on her bacon. “We weren't just kicked out. The same person that caused the nuclear war killed the secret masters, the Anunnaki that were in charge of dealing with your race.”
“Yes, a single man was behind the nuclear war and the Fimbulvetr. The entire Collapse. He set your race back decades, killed millions, and has set many members of my people on a quest for revenge against your entire species.”
“One man?” Tilda muttered.
“He died some time ago, and it isn't important who he was. As you've noticed, his name and deeds are already lost to your history. Only my people remember him.”
“So what are they going to accomplish with those... Verbesserte?”
“They plan on taking over the world again,” Arma said. “But before they can do that, they're going to eliminate the last few things that can threaten them.”
Claire cried into her pillow. She was alone, again. And this time, it had ended even more quickly than she had wanted. She had started dating a nice guy from a bar after he bought her a few drinks. Things had gone from there and she hadn't even gotten a new outfit before he had stopped returning her calls.
She wasn't sure how she was going to make rent this month. She'd have to work fast, or she'd end up spending another month or two sleeping on couches. It wasn't fair. If this kept up, she would have to get a real job just to make ends meet. It wasn't proper for a woman, especially someone as delicate as Claire was, to have to actually work!
There was a knock on the door. Clare looked up. Maybe things wouldn't be so bad after all. If that guy had actually decided to do the smart thing, the kind thing, and come back to her then her troubles were over! She wiped the tears from her eyes and skipped over to the door, adjusting her top to be just a little more revealing before she opened the door.
“Good morning, Claire,” the man at the door said. He was a tall man, handsome, and wearing a black tuxedo. “I know you've been looking for someone who can give you what you really want.”
“What I...” Claire blinked. “Who are you?” She wasn't used to strange men turning up at her door. Not usually, anyway, unless he was someone she had met while very, very drunk, which was entirely a possibility.
“I'm here for you, Claire.” He smiled. “You don't have to live like this. Are you ready for a good life? A better life?” The man stepped inside. Claire just got out of his way, watching him. He didn't seem like a thief. She wasn't sure what he did seem like. There was something strange about him.
“A better life?” Claire asked. She felt strange, an odd feeling starting in her gut and going all along her spine. She believed him. Or at least she wanted to.
“That's right,” The man smiled at Claire. “I can give you money, power, respect, anything you want. All you need to do is one little thing.”
“What?” Claire asked, slightly afraid. The man stared her in the eyes. He blinked, sideways.
“You have to say 'I do.'”
Charles knocked on the door to his professor's lab. The classes at the university had been canceled for the day, and so the halls were empty except for a few grad students and professors who had come in to work at the facilities. In this corner of the university, those students and professors were rare. Aside from Professor Gable, that is. Charles wasn't sure he ever left the Alternative Energy Department except when someone remembered to have him eat.
“Professor?” Charles asked, as he pushed open the door. There was the soft sound of white noise from within. He looked around the room. Strange devices covered several work benches, some of which Charles had helped the Professor put together.
He spotted the Professor hunched over a table, assembling something. The man was, like always, so absorbed in his work that he didn't hear Charles enter. The young man walked over and glanced at what he was working on. Some kind of small device the size of a thick book. After making sure he wasn't going to startle the man in the middle of something delicate, Charles tapped him on the shoulder.
“Ah!” Gable exclaimed, blinking. “Mister Masterson. Is it time for class already? I apologize. I'm afraid I've gotten a bit wrapped up in this latest project of mine. It's really quite an exciting time to live in, you know. It has been too long since people really took this department seriously, and for good reason. We've gone decades without a proper discovery or development.” He looked down at what he had been working on, the case still open to reveal its internal components.
“Classes were canceled today, Professor,” Charles said. “You said you wanted me to come in to help you with a special project when we spoke on the phone.”
“Ah! Yes.” The professor nodded. “I'm just finishing it now. I need rather a, ah, test subject for this. It's quite safe, I assure you. It's a derivative of a device that I was lucky enough to study when I was a grad student. Of course, that device wasn't nearly as safe.” He shook his head. “Quite a dangerous thing, that. It produced a large amount of deadly orgone radiation.”
“Deadly orgone radiation?” Charles asked. “But you said that hasn't been a problem since the fifties.”
“It hadn't been, no,” Gable agreed. “After many of the more esoteric examples of borrowed and subversive technology went out of fashion, conditions did improve. What little orgone radiation is still produced is easily negated by sunlight and weather patterns. But that changed when I took my readings today. I hadn't seen orgone radiation levels like that since I investigated the site of nuclear tests.”
“You mean that what happened last night was some kind of nuclear accident?” Charles was surprised, and horrified.
“No, no,” Gable waved his hand. “Nothing quite like that. I don't think this was the work of men. It's possible that this is only the start of something greater. If so, then this is an opportunity to put theory into practice. Even if I'm wrong, then no harm is done.” He indicated what he had been working on. “I spent most of the night working on a new batch of orgonite for this. It's my finest batch yet, I think. I used microcrystals in addition to the metal shavings, and a novel arrangement of quartz crystals that should provide a large energy flow to the integrated coil.”
“So what is it?” Charles asked, readying himself for a long explanation.
“Ah. Well, I considered the original device I had examined. It was a beautiful device in its own way, though horribly irresponsible. Focused entirely on power and performance above efficiency. The power supply it used was the strongest they could come up with back then. I don't know who designed it, but he was a genius. Fifty years ahead of his time and limited to what he could make with the tools of the day.” Gable shook his head. “Anyway, I had been tinkering with something similar for years now, but there hadn't been much need and I had been focused on simply minimizing the radioactive exhaust rather than converting it to work on something more sustainable.”
“I see,” Charles said. He smiled and let Professor Gable talked. He liked listening to the man simply expound on his theories. It was relaxing.
“Yes, so what I had done was I brought the sample tank I had taken back here. It was still charged with deadly orgone radiation, you see, so I was going to have to dispose of the material safely. But you see I had accidentally placed it on the table next to a piece of orgonite. The orgonite created a fountain of clean orgone energy as it converted the deadly radiation. Do you know I had forgotten just how efficient it really was? We've seen so little deadly orgone radiation since the Collapse that I had been used to orgonite simply giving off a trickle of collected orgone from the environment.”
“Really?” Charles asked. “I'd have loved to see that.”
“You may still get a chance!” Gable had a twinkle in his eye. “I put down some orgonite on the street to dissipate the lingering radiation, but I doubt this is an isolated event. The next time it happens, though, we'll be ready with this.” He closed the device's case. The only part of the internal mechanism that Charles recognized was a sphere of orgonite, glittering from the metal shavings, the crystals and coil faintly visible in the resin.
“What is it?” Charles asked. The casing of the device was burnished silver and bright wood. There was a bird on it. At first Charles thought it was an eagle in flight, but the silver bird's beak was smaller. After a moment, and with the help of an olive branch it carried, he recognized it as a dove.
“I call it Pax.”