Traveler: Storyteller Tales: Labs of Junk

             “Come.”  The Princess said as she cracked the door to check the hallway.  She had to step over to grab Nancy by the hand, but as soon as they were out the door, David and Goldman followed.  “I’m not allowed out of the school without my teacher.”  The Princess teased as she kicked open the door to the emergency stairwell and climbed to the third floor.  She stopped there and turned to David.

            “Glen?”  David asked.

            “Still me.”  The Princess responded.

            “Princess.”  Goldman identified her.  He was huffing and puffing a bit.

            “Out of shape.”  The Princess slapped him in the stomach with the back of her hand, but not hard, and she smiled.

            “No one is in your shape.”  He responded and turned to David and Nancy.  “She works out most of the time, and with those weapons, too, but hunting and tracking and sneaking around buildings are her specialties.”

            “Hush.”  The Princess quieted him.  “Which way, David?”  She asked in a whisper.

            David had to think for a minute before he pointed.  They were by chance on the right floor, but they had some hallways to navigate.  The Princess went first in that armor of hers to sniff out the way.  She kept Nancy close at hand but behind her as much as possible, just in case.  David had picked up a gun from the floor and Goldman had his out of his holster and in his hand, but both men hoped they would not have to use them. 

            By chance or good fortune, the halls were empty and they quickly reached the laboratory rooms they were searching for.  The Princess was ready to enter the first door she found, but David pulled them along to the second door.  He pointed at the first and said, “Quarantined.”

            “The pox room,” the Princess said, and David slapped himself in the head for not realizing that sooner, and that slap was a very dangerous thing to do with a gun in his hand.

            “Pickard.”  David called as they entered the second room down the hall.  The man who was sitting on a high stool against a lab table that might have come out of any High School science room, looked up.  There were chalkboards on the wall, and the start of an equation on one, and file cabinets against one wall with some other chairs and a few end tables.  There was also a second man at the lab table in the midst of his own project, and every open space, including a good bit of the floor was covered with equipment of one kind or another.

            “David.”  The man, Pickard recognized his friend.

            “Check him.”  The Princess turned to Goldman who raised his gun and walked to where the two men were staring at him with unbelieving eyes.

            “Put your head down and hold still.”  Goldman said.  Pickard looked at his friend, but David assured him.

            “Just do it.  Everything will be alright.  Rupert, you are next.”

            Pickard complied while Goldman and Nancy examined the back of his neck and checked through his bushy brown hair.  Rupert ran for the door.  He did not get far.  The Princess’ long knife shot across the room and pinned the man’s lab coat and probably his shirt sleeve as well to the chalkboard with the equation.  Rupert looked like a pinned butterfly as David and Goldman ran to hold the man.  David actually had to hold him which was not too hard since David was young and Rupert was old.  Goldman had to look hard to find the thing.

            “He’s clean as far as I can tell.”  Nancy said of Pickard.

            “Got it.”  Goldman announced at about the same time, and as he separated the little thing from Rupert’s neck, Rupert collapsed into unconsciousness.  The Princess raised her hand and her knife vacated the chalkboard like it had a will of its own and sprang back to her hand.  As soon as she put it away, she traded places once again with Doctor Mishka so she could examine the man on the floor.  Rupert was out cold, but the Doctor saw no sign of serious trauma or permanent damage.  It almost appeared as if he was asleep, and she wondered if he had slept since receiving his little brain modifier.

            “He should be alright after a while.”  She said, and thought, I hope; but she did not say that part out loud.  Instead, she went away again and let the Princess return.

            “Look.  What is this all about?”  Pickard started to ask, but paused as the Princess began to examine the things on the table. 

            “A piece of the engine, useless in itself and no great technological wonder.  Navigation system with everything of real value removed.  Broken weapons array, but these are just fancy switches.  Junk, junk, junk.  Who said you would get anything out of this?”

            David and Pickard looked at each other.  David spoke.  “The Director was very excited that first day and said there was no telling what we might discover.”

            “You know what these things are?”  Pickard was amazed.  He saw the Princess in her armor, which was an unusual enough sight; and he just saw her change to the Doctor and change back again to the Princess, though most likely his eyes just glossed over that sight because his mind told him people did not do such things; but as for her to know what some of this alien equipment was; now, that was impressive.

            “We clear the hall and then head for the Quarantine room.”  The Princess looked at the others.  It was a question but it came out like a statement.

            “Sounds like a plan.”  Goldman said.

            “I’m in.”  David said, though the Princess feared the man might shoot himself in the foot if he ever used that gun.

            “Can I come?”  Pickard did not want to be left out.

            The Princess looked at Nancy, but Nancy looked surprised.  “Me?  I’m not letting Glen out of my sight.”  It was settled.

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