SHIMMER by Richard D Price

Terra was attaching a bomb to the compound wall. It was a delicate operation. The frantic gesticulations of her partner, Noah, were therefore a little unwelcome. She clicked the timer on the explosive and turned to glare at him. He was pointing at his wrist where a watch would have been, before motioning down the corridor. Noah was a strapping, muscular black man with deep brown eyes that now conveyed a sense of urgency. He originated from the States and was clean shaven with dreadlocked hair. He possessed a bionic eye which gave him a clear magnified vision for over a mile, and with a flick of his eyes up and to the left also portrayed the time in his peripheral vision. Terra knew therefore that Noah was keen to get back to the portal before it closed. This was almost certainly his thirty-minute warning. The portal was hidden within a hillside forest that overlooked the compound and was about a mile’s hike away. Still, she knew his athleticism would get him there in less than fifteen minutes and that she could do it quicker. Terra originated from Australia and was a petite, pony-tailed blue-eyed blonde with an attitude that was unsurpassed by anyone. Her talents lay elsewhere.

Noah repeated his urgent arm gestures, his dreadlocks shaking in a continued state of agitation.

“Keep your hair on, Yank,” snapped Terra belligerently. Noah’s eyes widened in surprise and he put a finger to his lips. She scowled at him but knew that speaking out loud whilst on a clandestine mission to plant explosives inside Mako’s terrorist compound was not a sensible thing to do. However, Mako was a ruthless man and Terra wanted to ensure he did not survive their mission. Two more explosives ought to do it. She held two fingers up, pointed to herself and motioned for Noah to head for the rendezvous point. He flashed her an exasperated look before disappearing into the darkness of the corridor. He knew better than to argue with her. Terra watched him go before continuing deeper into the compound with a grim determination, focusing on suitable places for the remaining two explosives. Her concentration was such that she missed her assailant. She felt a powerful blow to her head before passing out.

When Terra started to come around, she found herself crumpled on the dusty floor of the outdoor area of the terrorist compound. She remained exceptionally groggy and blood trickled from the corner of her mouth. The compound was protected at the perimeter by an eight-foot barbed wire fence and was overlooked by a hill, dense with forest, where Noah was almost certainly observing her with his bionic eye. The compound was a hive of activity with people moving haphazardly, following a series of barked orders. It reminded Terra of an ant’s nest that has just been vigorously disturbed. The explosives they had planted in the buildings within the compound certainly constituted a significant bit of poking. The barked orders were emanating from Mako, a wild-looking individual with unkempt hair and an unshaven face. 

Terra knew that she had to recover her senses if she was going to live. Whilst unconscious she had lost track of time and was thus uncertain of when the explosives would detonate. However, even more pressing was that Mako seemed intent on her imminent execution. He kicked her savagely in the side and she groaned and rolled over. Two individuals were assembling a pole, one holding it tightly whilst the other hammered it ferociously, to drive it into the ground. Mako yelled at a couple of his men, pointing to the prostate Terra and then pointing to the stake that had just been erected. Two men came forward and grabbed an arm each, dragging Terra roughly towards the pole. She allowed herself to be hauled unceremoniously across the ground, relieved to be taken out of kicking range of the furious Mako. Once at the pole, they pulled Terra to her feet but she collapsed weakly, falling to the ground. With more effort, they returned Terra to her feet, one supporting her against the stake whilst the other robustly bound her hands behind her back and the shaft itself. As they let her go, Terra sagged again and they quickly decided to use more rope to tie her body to the stake, forcing her to stay upright. Mako yelled again and threw a piece of material at them. It landed about half way and one of the men retrieved it before returning to the pole. The second man yanked her head back by the pony tail making it easier for the first man to slip the hood over her head. Both men spat on her as they walked away, leaving her securely bound to the stake, her hooded head drooping forward. 

Terra tried desperately to clear her senses in the darkness of the hood. Mako barked out more instructions in his guttural language, holding up ten fingers. Men started to run and eventually, there were ten figures standing in a line, rifles at the ready, execution imminent. Mako gave the order. Shots echoed around the compound as ten bullets ripped into the body bound to the stake. It slumped forward as much as the ropes would allow, the head lolling around. Blood seeped steadily from the wounds. Just before impact, there had been an almost imperceptible movement of air around the victim, like a momentary heat haze—or shimmer. 

The ruthless Mako growled for some of his men to cut the body down and dispose of it before heading off towards the building. Two men responded instantly. One held a knife to cut the bonds and the other removed the hood. There was an audible gasp so loud that Mako turned back to look. Both men were stunned at what they saw. Mako’s eyes widened in rage as he stormed back across the courtyard. He struck both men viciously as he reached them and they crumpled to the floor. Mako pulled the deceased’s head up to examine the face. It was that of a dark-haired man in his mid-twenties, sporting a neat moustache. Mako roared with anger, punching the dead face several times before kicking one of his men when the concussion from the first explosion reached them. This was followed closely be several others. The building erupted around them, burning debris falling onto the courtyard.

“G’day, Yank,” smiled Terra as she appeared next to Noah, “Sorry I’m a bit late.”

“I never had any doubts,” grinned Noah and they high-fived. 

“So where was my knight in shining armour?” asked Terra.

“I knew you were sound and saw you shimmer,” grinned Noah pointing to his bionic eye. “How’s your mouth?” He went to wipe the crusted blood away but she brushed his hand aside and told him not to fuss. Terra surveyed the scene below but her vision was not the same as Noah’s. Her talents were different.

“Looks like a load of angry ants running around down there,” she observed, straining her blue eyes. Noah smiled and nodded his assent, focusing in on the carnage. Some of the terrorists had been killed by either the explosion itself or flying debris. Others were trying to douse fires on their bodies by rolling around whilst some were simply panicking and trying to scale the barbed wire fence. Mako himself had been hit by a piece of burning wood and his shoulder was ablaze, but he seemed unconcerned, and was instead consumed by rage. 

“We need to get in the portal,” advised Noah urgently. They had less than thirty seconds before it closed.

“The portal can wait until that fucker’s carked it,” replied Terra belligerently. She unsheathed her weapon and aimed it at Mako. A yellow laser beam flashed from the gun as Terra fired indiscriminately. Further screams were added to the chaos, but she was missing her target. Noah glanced at the portal and realised that they weren’t going to make it. Terra wasn’t leaving until Mako was dead. He sighed and took out his laser gun, slowing his breathing and aiming carefully at Mako’s head. His bionic eye bought Mako’s unshaven face into clear perspective. Noah squeezed the trigger slowly and a green laser photon emitted from the gun, obliterating half of Mako’s face. His body stayed upright for a brief moment before tottering backwards and then falling to the ground, dead.

“Okay, Mako has lost his head,” advised Noah, looking at Terra pleadingly. She stopped firing momentarily.

“Beauty, good on ya. Now kill the rest of the fuckers,” she said and re-commenced firing. Noah sighed again and focused back on the compound. Green and yellow laser photons rained down on the enclosure, the former to more lethal effect. Five minutes later, there was nothing human moving in the courtyard and Noah stilled Terra’s arm to cease the firing. After the crescendo of laser fire, the silence was comforting, other than the unerring crackle of fire and the odd subsidiary blast.

“If that was ‘House Of The Dead’ I would have crushed your ass,” grinned Noah

“Think my gun was cruddy, you FIGJAM,” retorted Terra petulantly. Noah’s grin broadened.

“Okay, so we’ve missed the portal. I need you to work your magic and get our asses back to base,” said Noah holding out his hands.

“All this chatter about arses. I’m looking forward to seeing this one when we’re in the nuddy later,” replied Terra. She cheekily squeezed Noah’s derriere before linking hands and focusing intently. Noah was hit with an overwhelming feeling of nausea and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, they were back at base and he was retching. Teleporting (or shimmering) with Terra always made him sick.

“Crikey, you’re chundering again,” exclaimed Terra as she stripped off her clothes. Noah recovered his poise before stripping off too and they both walked naked into the decontamination room, a necessary precaution after travelling by shimmer. They stood adjacent to one another as the decontamination mist was sprayed all over their bodies, purging them of any ill-effects they may have incurred during teleportation. After the ten-minute cleanse cycle, the mist cleared and a door opened on the other side of the chamber. Noah and Terra were met by a young woman carrying bathrobes and a warm drink for each of them.

“Oh, a cuppa. I was hoping for a coldie,” said Terra as she spotted the warm drink.

“She needs to be blasted again,” remarked Noah pointing to Terra, “She shimmered twice.”

“Ignore him, he’s just a cranky drongo because his old fella’s all shrivelled up,” snapped back Terra, motioning to Noah’s groin. The young woman blushed uncontrollably and tried to avert her eyes whilst Noah glared at Terra and shook his head.

“Are you new here?” asked Noah as the young woman helped him into his robe before gratefully turning her attention to Terra.

“No sir, I have worked here for about five years now,” replied the woman demurely.

“Oh!” said Noah, surprised, “I’m sure I would have remembered such a pretty face.”

“Urgh, now I’m going to chunder,” said Terra. “Be careful, you’re a dazzler and he’s a mad rooter,” she added conspiratorially. The young woman blushed again before carefully handing them their drinks.

“The captain wants to see you both straight away,” said the young woman, hoping to end the embarrassing encounter. 

“Looks like we’re in for another earbashing, Yank,” hypothesised Terra. Noah nodded resignedly. Since he had partnered with Terra at the agency, earbashings had become commonplace.

“Come in, sit down,” said Captain Blake, motioning to two seats. Blake had been at the agency for over thirty years and Captain for the last ten. He was a tad old-fashioned and didn’t tolerate nonsense. Unfortunately, Terra and respect were not something that went together.

“Do ya mind if we bring our cuppas in, Cap?” she asked holding her warm drink aloft. Blake winced and rolled his hand, signalling his impatient accession to her request. They both sat down and Terra placed her drink on the Captain’s desk. He glared at her. She gingerly picked her drink back up and held it in her hand, taking a small sip.

“Report?” asked Blake brusquely. Noah stepped in quickly before Terra could make a sarcastic comment.

“Well sir, in short mission accomplished. The terrorist, Mako has been eliminated... “

“Defo, and all his bogan blokes,” interjected Terra. Captain Blake looked confused.

“Yes sir, we were also forced to eliminate all of his men,” continued Noah.

“That’s what I said,” complained Terra.

“We destroyed the compound so everything is completely neutralised,” said Noah. Blake mused over this information. Terra sipped her tea loudly which earned another grimace from the Captain.

“You missed the allotted portal transfer,” stated Blake.

“Yeah, we were still offing some bad guys,” explained Terra.

“And you shimmered?” asked Blake.

“Yes sir, as we had missed the portal, offing the... err… bad guys, Terra got us back to base with her shimmer,” explained Noah.

“Hmmm, so when did you shimmer into the past?” asked Blake. 

Noah was stunned. “You shimmered into the past again?” he asked Terra. She scowled at him.

Noah cupped his hands over his face and Terra winced. “Look, Cap, I know you’re probably pissed but I had little choice,” she replied sulkily. “There shouldn’t be any harm done.”

“That may be so, but the stats guys tell me that, however imperceptible, the timeline has been changed,” retorted Blake.

“Imper-what?” said Terra. Noah looked to the skies and Blake’s grimace got uglier.

“I want a full account of what happened. Don’t leave anything out,” demanded Blake.

Terra was a unique woman with a huge talent. Several agents were able to shimmer. This was a skill where the individual could teleport to another place. Terra’s powers were so strong she could teleport anywhere in the world. She could also bring someone with her or send someone on their own. Furthermore, she could shimmer into the past. Clearly, the latter is dangerous. Anyone who has seen ‘Back To The Future’ knows the implications of altering timelines. 

Before going on missions, Terra would research potential shimmer locations in case things went awry. It’s fair to say that her research was not always the most thorough, or her choices the most prudent. She had the ability to swap places with anyone around the globe, resulting in some unfortunate person suffering her intended fate. Hence the idea was to identify someone so vile and reprehensible the world wouldn’t miss them. But you had to be careful. For example, if their mission was in the Middle East and things became difficult, it wouldn’t be appropriate to swap places with one of her former teachers from Australia. Explaining how Mr Miller had been found decapitated in an Iraqi prison camp, 11,500 kilometres away from where he had been earlier observed purchasing a sixpack of Fosters near his Queensland home, was a tad difficult. That, in the words of Terra, “He had it coming to him because he was a pervy mongrel who didn’t teach me anything,” didn’t really justify her actions.. Also, the notion that he had been her (very poor) Geography teacher perhaps went some way to explain, but never excuse, why Terra had not comprehended the magnitude of her error.

Given some of her historically poor choices, Terra decided that her backup shimmer for this mission would be the past. This would ensure no similar geographical cockups like the Miller incident. It was unlikely to be needed, as she rarely encountered trouble to the extent that escape by shimmer was indicated, but better to be safe than sorry. 

As the hood covered her head, she focused on the time zone from her research. She concentrated hard and suddenly stood outside a door of a house in England. It was twenty years ago. She rapped urgently on the door. Time was of the essence. She had about a fifteen-minute window during which time stopped at her place of departure. Beyond that, things got a little tricky.

“Alright, alright, I’m coming,” complained a voice from inside. The door opened and she came face to face with the man that she had researched. His neatly groomed moustache and rat-like features repulsed her. 

“What’s all this knocking about?” he asked angrily. Terra punched him in the face and burst past him, knocking him over as she dashed headlong for the stairs. She ran up them two at a time, looking for the right bedroom. The moustached man clambered to his feet and, with a cry of rage, hotly pursued her. Terra topped the stairs and surveyed the bedrooms. A name plate adorned one door, spelling Carol with a pink background. Terra headed for this room and found a little girl of about five years old cowering in the corner.

“Please don’t hurt me,” sobbed the little girl.

“I’m not going to hurt you, I’m going to save you,” said Terra calmly.

“Where are you, you little bitch?” cried the moustached man as he reached the top of the stairs.

“Daddy, help,” cried the five year old Carol.

“You get out of there,” cried the moustached man. He burst into the room and Terra turned to grapple with him. Their hands interlocked and Terra smiled.

“Hooroo shithead,” growled Terra and with a flash he had gone and Terra stood alone in the room with Carol.

“Where’s my Daddy gone?” wailed Carol.

“Listen, sweetie, your Daddy was a very bad man and would have done lots of bad things to you,” soothed Terra gently. “You’ll achieve your dreams without that pervy drongo ruining your life.”

“Where’s my Daddy gone? Please bring him back,” repeated the wide-eyed Carol.

“Sorry, sweetie, but I gotta go now,” and with that Terra disappeared from the little girl’s bedroom and reappeared at the rendezvous point with Noah, twenty years in the future.

Captain Blake listened intently as Terra recounted the story between sips of tea. He sighed and shook his head.

“So, what had this guy done?” he asked.

“Well Cap, he was a filthy perv. That girl would have suffered torment and abuse until she eventually took her own life. The poor young Sheila drank poison at the age of thirteen and died horrifically,” explained Terra.

“Are you sure you got the right person?” asked Blake.

“Yeah, Cap, bloody oath. I researched this one properly,” insisted Terra.

“You know it’s one thing to try and explain why an innocent Australian Geography teacher ended up beheaded in Iraq and quite another to explain why a man missing for twenty years ends up executed by a firing squad in Chechnya... a man who hasn’t aged a day since his unexplained disappearance.” Blake’s pitch rose in anger as he delivered his assessment.

“Well, firstly, Cap, Mr. Miller was no innocent teacher—he was a pervy mongrel. And secondly, I don’t think you need to worry about anyone identifying any bodies in Chechnya as we shot it up pretty good,” replied Terra.

“Yes sir, Terra is right, sir… well at least about the Chechen compound, sir. There were lots of fires and explosions. We fully expended our photon laser guns,” supported Noah, trying to be helpful. Captain Blake shook his head.

“I’m right about Mr. Miller, though… he used to lech over me in class,” protested Terra.

“Enough,” roared Captain Blake. He pounded his desk with both hands.

“Get out, the pair of you. I want a full written report on my desk first thing in the morning,” he demanded. Noah and Terra got up and started to walk towards the door.

“Oh, and Terra,” called Blake. She stopped and turned back to address him.

“Yes, Cap?” she prompted.

“You’d better hope that you haven’t caused a time ripple,” he threatened.

“Crikey, I’ve never seen Cap that angry. He was acting like a proper Pommy,” muttered Terra after they exited Blake’s office.

“Jeez, yeah. Think he hurt his hands banging the desk at the end,” commented Noah.

“I fancied some tucker and a few cold ones but now we’re gonna be writing a report all night,” complained Terra.

“Perhaps you can shimmer back into the past a couple of days and write it there?” suggested Noah, nudging Terra playfully.

“Rack off, you Yank drongo,” muttered Terra nudging him back.

The young lady that had provided them with the bathrobes and cups of tea appeared at the end of the corridor and started to walk towards them.

“Hey, Yank, here’s your dazzler. Are you going to try some more cheesy chat up lines?” teased Terra.

“I bet she wants the cups back,” mused Noah. “Oh shit, we left them back in Blake’s office.”

“Huh, you’re hoping she wants your bathrobe back,” continued Terra, once again patting his posterior playfully. 

“Hi Miss, err, Miss... “ began Noah peering at her name badge which read ‘Miss C. Thompson—Executive Assistant to Captain Blake’... Thompson. Can I interest you in a drink?”

“No, thank you, agent fourteen. I think you have a report to write,” replied the young lady primly.

“Wow, crash and burn, Yankee boy!” chortled Terra.

“I’d very much like to see you though, Terra,” said Miss Thompson. She motioned to a side room where they could converse in private.

“Start writing that report for me, agent fourteen, and hopefully I’ll see you later,” chuckled Terra as the two walked away. 

Terra was a very sensual woman and enjoyed beauty in many forms. She certainly had no preference between men and women and enjoyed sexual gratification from either.

Once inside the room, Miss Thompson closed the door for added privacy.

“So you’ve seen me in the nuddy, are you going to join me?” asked Terra as she started to loosen the bathrobe. However, she stopped in her tracks at the curtness of the response.

“I suspect you don’t remember me even though we first met only a couple of hours ago,” said Miss Thompson icily. Terra looked puzzled.

“Well, I remember you handing me a robe and nice cuppa,” she said, confused.

“I was five years old when we first met,” stated Miss Thompson. Terra remained perplexed.

The younger woman continued. “That was twenty years ago for me, but I suspect only a couple of hours for you.”

The penny suddenly dropped for Terra. She noticed for the first time that the other woman was brandishing a gun.

“Carol? The little girl I saved?” said Terra as realisation dawned.

“Saved?” cried Miss Thompson angrily. “I had already lost my mother when you burst into our house. My father disappeared that night at your hands and it wasn’t until earlier on today that I finally learned of his fate. You took my only surviving parent and delivered him to a Chechen firing squad. I was left alone in the world.”

“I am sorry to say this but your father was a monster,” explained Terra calmly. She wasn’t worried about the gun. She could shimmer away at any time. 

“How dare you! My father never laid a finger on me,” cried Carol Thompson, shaking with rage, tears streaming down her pretty face.

“Yes, because I went back to a time before the abuse had begun, don’t you see?” explained Terra.

“Lies,” spat Carol. “It’s well known that your research is shoddy. Poor Mr Miller was beheaded in Iraq just for being a crappy teacher.”

“What is with it with Mr Miller today? As I keep saying, he was a pervy mongrel as well as being a crappy teacher,” exclaimed Terra, a little exasperated. “Look, Carol, I learned from my mistakes. My research this time round was thorough. Your father subjected you to years of abuse.”

“I’m not listening to any more of your lies,” cried Carol. She was becoming overly emotional and waving the gun around wildly. Terra had to be ready to shimmer.

“He abused you from the age of five until you eventually took your own life at thirteen,” cried Terra.

“Lies, lies, all lies!” shrieked Carol.

“You drank poison at thirteen and died horrifically. I saved you. You are what you are today because of me,” cried Terra. This seemed to strike a chord with Carol and she suddenly became calm.

“You think I’m going to shoot you?” she asked coldly. “I know you can shimmer, I know all about you, Terra. I’m Captain Blake’s executive assistant. I have access to everything.” She placed the gun down on the table and turned her back on Terra momentarily.

“So what then, Carol? Seems we’re at a bit of a stalemate. You know I can leave here at any time. This room can’t hold me and you won’t be able to shoot me. What I am telling you is true. I know it’s hard to hear but it’s the truth. So, what’s the plan?”

“For twenty years I have thought about you, driven by a thirst for revenge. Fate bought us together tonight, the very day you went back and took my father,” Carol explained. She spun back around and beseeched imploringly, “If only I could have somehow stopped you?”

“Even though stopping me would have resulted in you killing yourself at thirteen by drinking poison?” questioned an exasperated Terra.

“How ironic.” Carol smiled evilly, her features twisted by her insatiable need for retribution. A further penny dropped for Terra and as if to confirm her suspicions, she coughed and felt the metallic taste of blood as it trickled from her mouth.

“You poisoned my cuppa?” cried Terra before coughing up more blood.

“It’s ironic, isn’t it? You should be dead, executed by a Chechen firing squad, but my poor father took your place. And according to you, I should be dead at my own hands from drinking poison but it looks like you’re going to take my place.”

Carol began to laugh uncontrollably at the absurdity of the situation. Terra slumped to the floor and coughed up more blood. She could feel the poison working, eating away at her insides.

“I’m going to enjoy watching you die,” cried Carol looking on eagerly as Terra began to writhe on the floor. 

“Please…” murmured Terra as she began to drift out of consciousness to the sound of maniacal laughter. She vaguely heard a crash and a gunshot. and then the laughter cut off as Terra passed out.

Terra awoke in a hospital bed to see a vague, yet familiar outline standing beside her. This is it. she thought. The grim reaper has come to claim me.

“Forgive me, I’m sorry,” she mumbled incoherently, anxious to repent for her sins.

“Did I hear right? Did she just apologize?” asked a surprised Noah. He reached down and grasped one of Terra’s hands.

“Didn’t hear anything from over here,” muttered Captain Blake who stood by the door that separated Terra’s room from the rest of the ward.

“Yo, Terra, are you coming back to us, girl?” cried Noah. He rubbed her hand tenderly.

“Go away, reaper... Noah, is that you?” she cried, her mind in a fuzzy haze.

“Nice to hear you call me Noah instead of that abusive Yankee shit,” smiled her partner.

“Sorry Yank,” she mumbled.

“Wow, two apologies in the space of a minute. I never thought I’d see the day,” chortled Noah. 

She eased herself into a sitting position, wincing in pain. Noah gave her a glass of water and she gulped two mouthfuls before an icy pain shot up the bridge of her nose.

“Better fill me in on why I’m not dead,” she said when the pain had subsided a little. She took a gentler sip of water.

“Well, I had gone back to my office to make a start on the report,” began Noah.

“Yeah, Cap was defo pissed off,” interjected Terra. Blake grimaced from the other side of the room and Noah smiled at this latest indication of Terra’s recovery.

“There was something that just didn’t feel right and it was bugging me,” continued Noah. His sharp, inquisitive mind was what made him a top agent.

“You mean why your charms hadn’t worked on a pretty Sheila, ya root rat?” asked Terra.

“Well yeah, that was part of it,” grinned Noah before resuming his story. “You had left your research papers in my office so I took a look at them.”

“I left them for ya to file,” muttered Terra. Noah was the conscientious one in the partnership.

“So, from the bits that were legible in your notes…” started Noah

“Strewth, you drongo! I put hard yakka into those notes,” Terra interrupted again. Noah ignored her and continued.

“So, from your notes I discerned that the target was a twenty-five year old man from England... “

“Pommy wanker,” interjected Terra with her forthright opinion.

“…by the name of Reginald Thompson but I couldn’t fathom your logic as it simply left his five year old daughter, Carol, an orphan,” explained Noah. He stopped momentarily, expecting another interruption. Terra said nothing and simply eyed him with a smug expression.

“And then I suddenly remembered the Captain’s words about a time ripple and I astutely realised that your trip to the past must have changed them,” Noah continued, singing his own praises.

“And I don’t suppose my appearance in your office helped at all?” asked Terra coyly.

“Err, well yes, that certainly confirmed my suspicions,” stammered Noah. As Carol placed the gun down and turned her back, Terra had taken the opportunity to shimmer. She had appeared momentarily in Noah’s office and signalled her imminent peril at Carol’s hands.

“I’m stoked that you had it all worked out,” muttered Terra sardonically.

“Yeah well, the name Thompson rang a bell and I recalled the name badge of the pretty young woman who handed us our bathrobes... Miss C. Thompson... Carol... Reginald’s daughter. You shimmered back twenty years and she looked in her mid-twenties... the math worked.”

“You little ripper,” commented Terra.

“So, I headed straight for the side-room you went to, and, as I was racing over, I recalled how Miss Thompson had carefully handed us our drinks. This made me think about the possibility of poison,” explained Noah.

“Good on ya, Yank,” nodded Terra, acknowledging his deductive powers. “Cap, you should revisit some of the payroll checks around here.”

“There’s nothing wrong with our systems, it was the time ripple caused by… oh forget it,” growled Blake gruffly, realising that Terra was winding him up.

“When I got to the room I heard irate voices inside. Without any concern for my own safety, I burst in to save you,” Noah recalled proudly.

“More like you wanted to get ya mits on that Sheila,” muttered Terra.

“And it’s a good thing I did,” said Noah, ignoring his partner’s accusations. “Carol went for the gun but I was lightning quick. She pulled the trigger but I deflected her arm and the shot was diverted harmlessly into the ceiling.”

“You are my knight in shining armour, after all,” commented Terra.

“I spun her round before executing the sleeper move…” stated Noah.

“Was that by more cruddy chat up lines?” interjected Terra. 

“I placed Carol’s comatose body on the floor and rushed over to you. You had collapsed and had spewed blood all over the floor,” recounted Noah.

“A charming picture you paint there, Yank,” commented Terra.

“So, I scanned your body with my bionic eye,” Noah explained.

“I wonder how many times you’ve done that before?” remarked Terra.

“I located the type of poison and required antidote. I sorted everything as quickly as I could, but I thought it was too late,” finished Noah. He was right; Terra had been lucky to pull through. 

“I guess I owe you my life, Yankee boy,” conceded Terra. “What happened to Carol?”

“She escaped, Terra,” replied Captain Blake. “We’ll need to reapprehend her ASAP and remain on high alert, should she resurface in the meantime.”

“You beauty!” she replied quietly, smiling. saving Carol remained all important to her, despite Carol’s nearly successfully attempt to murder her.

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