Chapter 5: Girl Behind the Gun
The kids darted out from behind their shelter and sprinted toward the relative safety of a nearby rock pile. Laserfire rained down on all sides, and they slalomed now and again to avoid the blasts. Just as the kids were about to complete the final leg of their dash, their assailant sprang out of nowhere with a high-pitched war cry. Jimmy, Cindy, Carl, Sheen, and Libby careened to a stop, only to find themselves staring down the barrel of a blaster weapon. Behind it they caught a glimpse of green skin, a flash of purple eyes, and the glint of fangs.
Jimmy gaped in astonishment. “APRIL???”
The girl dropped the weapon and staggered back, extending her arms as if to ward them off.
“Jimmy? Jimmy Neutron? It is impossible. This cannot be happening…”
The kids found themselves looking at April the Gorlock, only much taller and somewhat shapelier than the last time that they met. She wore blue and purple battle armor, complete with spiked shoulder pads and horned helmet.
“What?” exclaimed Cindy, staring disbelievingly at the woman before her. “April the Gorlock? How on earth did you get here?”
April was barely able to speak. “Cindy…you’re…so YOUNG. So young. All of you. You’re not really you…It cannot…I must be hallucinating.” She shook her head violently. “Wake up: they are not real. They are NOT real.”
“I would say the same thing,” said Jimmy, reaching out to lay a hand on her shoulder, “except that we can’t all be having the same hallucination.”
“Do not touch me!” cried April, shrinking away from his hand.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean…”
“Do not ever touch me again!”
Jimmy looked down, crushed. “I’m sorry…”
April’s eyes cleared, and she took a deep breath to compose herself. “Apologies,” she said, relaxing. “I did not mean that. The shadows of the past do not so easily dissolve, that is all. But forgive me, I have gotten ahead of my self. Allow me to back up: where did you come from? How did you get here?”
“Need you ask?” retorted Cindy. “Neutron screwed up, as usual. Could there be any other reason?”
Jimmy scowled at her. “For your information, we got pulled from our own universe after a teleportation accident. We ended up on this planet, and we've been wandering around ever since. It's funny – at first I thought the two universes would have nothing in common, but now I see that I was wrong. We clearly know each other in both universes, so they can't be that different. The only variation seems to be the time difference.”
“I would not say that,” said April, eyeing him warily. “If you are who I truly think you are, then our worlds are more different than you could imagine.”
“What do ya mean?” frowned Libby. “You know us, don't ya?”
“I KNEW you, yes. But that was years ago. Things have changed so much since then.”
“In what way?” asked Jimmy.
“I am not sure if I should tell you,” she replied, still watching him from the corner of her eye. “I have to first make sure that you can be trusted. But in the meantime, there is someone you should meet.” April flipped open a panel on her sleeve and spoke into it. “Aurora, you had better get down here. You are not going to believe who I just met.”
A female voice answered irritably. “This had better be good, April. I was in the middle of running a piloting simulation.”
“Trust me, it will knock your shoes off.”
The voice on the other end sounded both amused and irritated. “April, the expression is ‘knock your socks off.’”
“Whatever. Just get down here.” April flipped the panel closed.
The sky overhead began to hum, and a large gray ship materialized out of thin air. It hovered for a moment, then slowly descended and alighted on the ground, sending up a cloud of yellow dust in its wake. Carl hacked loudly as it billowed over him, but the other kids scarcely noticed.
“Get a load of that, Nerdtron!” shouted Cindy. “Now there's a ship that leaves your junky tin rocket in the dust!”
April gave Cindy a faint smile, then her expression saddened and she shook her head.
“You know what this reminds me of?” asked Sheen, shirt ruffling in the gale.
Libby raised an eyebrow. “Lemme guess: Ultralord.”
“Actually, I was gonna say my cousin Floyd’s RV, but now that you mention it, this does remind me of Ultralord! Wow Libs, you’re beautiful AND smart!”
The dust settled, and a panel slid open on the fuselage of the ship. A mechanized ramp dropped to the ground, and a young woman appeared in the doorway. She walked down the ramp with a swing in her step, and the kids stared on in fascination. The woman wore a silver mask over her face. It gleamed in the sunlight, reflecting her surroundings like a mirror. Her suit was distinctly alien, with a light blue, metallic surface webbed with silvery tubing. She carried two weapons in holsters around her hips, and her long blonde hair was fastened in a high ponytail.
“Well April, what is so important that you dragged me all the way…”
She froze in her tracks. The wind caught her hair and blew it in a wild arc around her face, but her expression was shielded from the children by her silver mask.
When she spoke, her voice was uneven. “Is…Is this some kind of a joke? Because so help me, if it is…”
April shook her head. “I assure you, this is no joke. You are truly seeing Jimmy, Cindy, Sheen, Carl, and Libby as you saw them ten years ago. These children have come from an alternate universe…a universe untouched by all the calamities we have witnessed.”
“An alternate universe?” she repeated. “You mean…”
“Exactly,” she replied, in a tone that made the kids shoot her an uneasy glance. “They are completely lost and alone. And best of all, HE does not know about them.”
The woman remained silent for a moment, then spoke in a whisper. “Do you know what this means, April? If they help us, we could turn the tide of war.”
“I know, but we must keep in mind that 'if' is the key word here…I am not sure if we can trust them, Aurora. It might be another trick, like the holograms or clones.”
“All right,” said Jimmy, stepping between them. “I’ve had enough of this cryptic talk. What are you two talking about? Calamities? War? Holograms and clones? And you, girl in the silver mask! Who are you anyway? Show us your face!”
The girl surprised them all by laughing. “Neutron, you always were so domineering. But for old time’s sake, I’ll humor you.”
She took off the mask and let it drop to her feet. A second later, the kids’ eyes nearly bugged out of their heads.
-> Chapter 6
Thanks to Edniz for
the above April icon!