"Well?" he barked, standing toe to toe with the black goddess. "Who are you? Account for yourselves!" (The effect was slightly spoiled by the fact that he was a head shorter than she was.)
Now what? sent the Asian to the African.
There was a slight commotion some rows back, as a large, dubiously human figure likewise left its seat. "Give over, Lieutenant Metamorpho," it rasped. "You have been less attentive than you deem. Those two are in my unit."
The grotesque Super whirled around to where the ponderous red humanoid was rising. "I've had my eye on you too," he said. "I'm not sure I know either."
"Jemm, of Saturn," he rumbled. "And you're a fine one to twit me on obscurity, element man. Calm down. Just because you're angry they won't let you outside to fight that Trans-form is no cause toŚ"
"Stuff it, alien," said Metamorpho, but he returned to his seat.
Jemm turned to the black and Asian troopers and motioned them to a couple empty seats near him. Mystified, they took their places.
You miscalculated, you two, very nearly fatally, came a sudden string of thoughts to their minds.
The Asian gasped. The black laid a cautionary hand on her knee. Who are you? she demanded, with her mind.
Your rescuer from the posturing shape-changer. Know that we are friends, and of the Underground. You may refer to us as Jemm for now, since that is how we are known here. Till we may speak more freely, that must suffice.
We? the black woman questioned.
Later. You are not the only people with secrets here, Princess Diana and Sindy Boca.
That stopped her, as was the red alien's presumed intent. The women kept their silence all through the crosswall (into which the troop carrier had passed while they were still in the ladies' room), and into the East Wing Sector beyond.
The East Wing was one vast battlefield. Like the Noid, it was broader between the ringwalls than it had any business being, but unlike the Noid, there was ground beneath the tramway here. And all that ground, from one crosswall to the other, was the encampment of an army. The encampment stretched out far ahead as well, until abruptly cut off by a wall of energy that slice across the sector.
The Barrier? thought Sindy, not altogether certain. It had a different look than the parts of the Barrier she had seen, in the Centerlands.
No, sent Diana. The Barrier does not extend into this sector. The East Wing connects the Antipodes with what lies without. Or at least, it used to. Now, the projection you see cuts us off entirely. It is not the Barrier as such, but a sort of plug, if you will, through which nothing passes but by the will of Cyd Russell, so-called Keeper of the Antipodes. The East Wing continues beyond the plug, but we may not. For beyond the plug is Backstage Peripheral, and that is denied us.
Tue Sep 23 01:06:08 2003