Legal was on the third floor and pretty badly damaged by the look of it. Most of the files against the outer walls were unscathed, and the important stuff was in the mainframe in the third basement – the bomb shelter. Alice met some of the others, but hardly took the time to get to know them before she swooped up a laptop, a steno pad and a pen and followed Glen and Lockhart. Boston showed her how to tap into the internal network so she could work while she watched, but she was not going to miss this. The pen and paper were for writing down questions she planned to ask when she had the chance, and she already had a couple of doozies.
The prisoner was in an isolation tank. There was a bed, a table with three chairs around it and a fourth chair pushed against the wall. There was also a toilet and sink behind a short partition, but that was it for decorations. And then there was a mirror behind an unbreakable plastic partition which was, of course, see through on the other side. Currently, the Vordan was sitting at the table with his back to the mirror, and Alice expressed surprise saying that she did not realize they could sit since they appeared to her to walk rather stiffly.
“Probably not as stiff as it would walk now,” Glen said. He noted that the Vodan was bandaged in several places. The doctors had been in there to take tissue and blood samples, but otherwise he guessed no one else had ventured into the room. He was wrong.
“Mister Lockhart?” The man, Belden, asked without asking before he answered Glen’s question. Lockhart merely nodded and Belden opened up. The woman in that room, Ms Franklin, was busy typing and taping everything the Vordan did and recording every noise it made, but she watched the exchange between Belden and Glen as well, having some questions of her own.
“Actually, two security officers and professor Singh went in to see if they could communicate with the creature.”
“Person,” Glen corrected. “Just because he isn’t human, that does not make him less of a person. And I bet he rushed the guards.”
“It – he tried to,” Belden said. He looked again at Lockhart as if to say he now had a different set of questions in mind.
“Yes, well don’t do that again without permission. Being taken prisoner is a great shame. He will try to get you to kill him as penance for his sin, and then you will have nothing. Just think of the Japanese in World War II. One opportunity and it is hari-kari.” Glen stepped up to the glass but was interrupted when the phone rang. Belden answered it. He listened a minute and mumbled and held out the phone to Lockhart.
“Land line’s back working I see,” Lockhart said without showing any interest in touching the phone.
“It’s for the Traveler?” Belden did not know what to do except cover the phone to not be overheard. Boston pointed at Glen.
“Who is it?” Glen asked.
“It’s the director, sir.” Belden held out the phone.
Alice mumbled as she wrote a note on her notepad.
“Tell her I’m busy,” Glen turned back to observing the Vordan. Unfortunately, the Vordan did not seem to want to do anything other than sit there. When Glen turned around a second time he saw that everyone was staring at him with open mouths, except Lockhart who was stifling his laugh. “Oh, OK,” Glen took the phone. “Bobbi? Yes, I am busy. I was thinking of waterboarding. Huh? No, just kidding… What? I don’t know anything yet, you interrupted the process… Calm down, you will know as soon as anyone… Huh?.. So sit on them. Tell him to tell them… Tell them that for the first time in history we are all in this together and now is the time like no other to support and help each other, not accuse each other. We need to let the experts do their job if we expect this threat to be neutralized… I don’t care if they don’t believe him… Tell him to tell them anything you like. Look, by the way, tell him I will be up there sometime tomorrow. There is something I need to get out of his office… A secret compartment… No, I’m not going to tell you, oh, wait, that would be Lincoln’s office… Yes, Abraham Lincoln. I had to hide it in a hurry… No, I’m not kidding. I suppose that would be the Lincoln bedroom now. Just tell him to try not to push any buttons between now and then… Yes, that time I was kidding.” He handed the phone back to Beldon with one more word. “Sheesh!”
“So?” Alice had to know even if no one else did.
“So the President called. A couple of governments are making noises like the strike on their territories was an American plot.”
“That’s ridiculous!” Ms. Franklin was the one who expressed what everyone felt. Glen looked back at the Vordan again with a final comment.
“There is a lot to be said for Boom-de boom, boom.”
“So what now?” Alice asked.
“So now I have to be someone else.”
Boston drew in her breath with excitement. Belden and Ms. Franklin did not know what this strange man was talking about.
“Who?” Lockhart was curious.
“Lady Alice,” Glen said.
“Me?” Alice looked surprised, but Lockhart and Glen waved her off.
“I thought she was tied to Avalon,” Lockhart said.
“Not tied, exactly, but she is more contemporary than the Captain, in a way, and she is tied into the organic net. The change isn’t required, but in my brain there would be some lag time in speaking as the language would have to be filtered through my memory. She has direct access.” Lockhart shrugged. He did not quite follow that, but he smiled when Glen went away and Lady Alice stood in his place. Boston clapped. Ms. Franklin shrieked, but softly. Belden had his mouth open, and Alice shook her head.
“What?” Lady Alice asked her namesake in a voice as sweet as her looks, and Alice the lawyer thought this woman was almost worse than the Princess. This one easily stood about five-ten with blond hair and medium, sort of light brown eyes that were piercing – not a description normally associated with brown eyes. What is more, that evening gown kind of a dress she was wearing showed off her slim body perfectly. Any supermodel would die to look like that, and it seemed that the dress itself enhanced this beauty’s movements in a way that was more than supermodel graceful. She was sort of ballerina graceful, or even more graceful than that; and she was very pale, like she never spent time in the sun. Lady Alice just finished kissing Lockhart gently on the forehead when Alice the lawyer wrote “Avalon” on her pad and spoke.
“So you are, what? The Fairy Queen?” That summed things up nicely.
“No.” Alice of Avalon laughed a laugh as sweet as the rest of her and the other Alice thought this one is very different. She could see the Princess was a great tease and that she had a bit of a bawdy side, but this one probably did not know what bawdy was. This one came across as totally innocent, like a perpetual virgin. What is more, the Princess was more, well, everything – the kind of sexy, attractive beauty that men might fight and even die for. This one was more the kind that could only be dreamed about and admired from afar.
“No?” Alice the lawyer found her hand writing fairy queen on her notepad and then was amazed at what she heard.
“But I have perhaps been spending too much time with her of late. She is so enchanting and rather hard to resist.”
“Alice of Avalon lives in Wonderland.” Lockhart smiled and pointed at the Lady.
“Not exactly,” Lady Alice countered and she shook her finger at the man like a school girl might scold a little boy. “But near enough.” She dropped her hand, smiled that enchanting smile and gave Lockhart another kiss on the head.
“Um.” Boston hardly knew what to say.
“Lovely to meet you, Boston, dear,” Alice said. “And Belden the brave, and Ms. Franklin too.”
The lawyer wrote on her pad, “and Toto too?” but Lady Alice was not finished.
“Now, I am sorry, but I will have to erase any record of my being here, and while that may make things more difficult in a way, you must trust me that it is safer. And now, I am going to need some help with this work.” She held out her hand and a metallic circle appeared in her palm. Ms. Franklin held back the shriek this time, but Alice, the lawyer shrieked softly. She held the volume at bay by writing “magic” on her pad.
Lady Alice stepped up to the window and picked up the microphone with one hand while she placed the circle against her throat with the other hand. She paused and coughed a sweet little cough to clear her throat, a sound so sweet, Alice the lawyer was almost sickened from the sugar overdose. Then Lady Alice spoke in a deep male voice that sounded like gears grinding in a factory with some crashing of waves against rocks and jackhammers making those rocks into gravel. And it was loud enough to make everyone cover their ears.
The Vordan immediately stood and answered in kind and he seemed willing to carry on a dialogue for a while, but soon enough, he shut his mouth and though Alice tried several more times, the Vordan clearly decided to say no more. Alice set down the microphone, backed up and sighed, and it was such a pleasant sound after that cacophony of conversation, everyone sighed with her. And then she was gone. She took that little metal circle with her, and Glen returned.
“Not much information.” Glen said immediately as if he had conducted the interview himself, which Alice the lawyer was beginning to understand that in a sense he had. “This one is merely a soldier and I don’t think he knows anything, except this is not the place they had planned to come and he was not sure if his superiors know how to get home.”
“Great!” Lockhart threw his hands up which said he thought it was anything but great. “So we may be stuck with them, and that could make them very dangerous. Don’t underestimate what desperation can do.”