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Chapter 23 – I Did Not Sign Up For That

“What’s this?” Sabrina asked, turning the device over in her hands. Her surprised expression was entertaining, at least.

“A gift,” I said. “Trying to make myself useful.”

I still couldn’t move around very much, but I had enough mobility in my hands to craft, and at least my brain seemed to be firing on all cylinders. I got restless.

“Okay. What does it do?” she asked, sounding more than a little skeptical.

“It’s a shock glove,” I explained. “A modified version of my own. Good for incapacitating people without causing them any lasting damage, you know?”

“Isn’t that still really bad for you?” she asked, frowning.

“Can be,” I conceded. “Especially if they have a heart condition or something. Hard to design around that, unfortunately. Use with caution.”

She held it up, looking inside of it, as if expecting it to be booby-trapped.

“Why?” she asked.

“What do you mean, why?” I responded, pretending I wasn’t expecting exactly this line of inquiry. Of course she was going to be suspicious.

“What do you get out of this?”

I pretended to be offended. “I like to help, okay? I can’t do much right now, not in the middle of my treatments, but I can at least do this much. It’s… I used to do it for Charlie, until…”

Sabrina’s face softened immediately. My chest ached.

“Thank you,” she said. “Um, how does it work?”

I grinned.

“There’s a specific hand gesture to activate it,” I explained. “Here, put it on and I’ll show you.”

She nodded, sliding her hand into it. As it clamped around her, she flinched and cried out.

“Ow! What was that?”

“The best part,” I said. “It doesn’t need to be charged, because it uses you as a battery.”

“What? I did not sign up for that,” she said, tugging at the glove, trying to remove it.

“Relax, you have plenty of excess energy,” I told her. “I’ve been looking at the tests Zoe ran on you. You won’t even notice it, and it means it’s always guaranteed to work. Plus, you can ramp up the power if you need to use it on, well, someone a little tougher.”

It took a moment, but I saw understanding cross her face. She nodded covertly.

“So how do I make it work?”

I ran her through the gesture. She had to do it a few times to get it right, but the glove lit up, and she tested it out on a receptor I’d build specifically for that purpose. She smiled, satisfied.

“Thank you, Rachel,” she said. “Um, I don’t mean to complain, but it is a little tight…”

“Oh, of course!” I said, hoping it didn’t sound completely rehearsed. “Here, let me get it off you. I’ll adjust the size a little, and get it back to you.”

“I appreciate this,” she said, as I unclasped the glove and slid it off her hand. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. I guess I’m still adjusting to, you know, everything.”

“Trust me, I know what you mean,” I lied. “But for what it’s worth, I think you’re doing a great job.”

She blushed, smiling awkwardly. I let her leave, more than a little pleased with herself. God, she was so naive I wanted to throttle her. Not literally, of course.

As soon as I was alone, I opened up the glove, pulling a small vial out from a hidden compartment. A tiny amount of her blood sloshed around inside. A smile broke out on my face.

I slipped the vial into a locked, hidden container. The last thing I wanted was anyone else stumbling on it, and asking what I was doing with it. A girl’s got to keep her secrets, after all.

With that sorted, I turned my attention back to more important matters. I was pretty close to figuring out Zoe’s machine, and I’d already managed to point out a few adjustments that had impressed her.

From what I could tell, the core of the machine was going to create a literal black hole. That actually wasn’t all that difficult, all things considered. The difficult part, and the part that Zoe was clearly still struggling with, was turning that black hole into an actual transdimensional gateway. She was almost there, but with the materials we had available, it was still a little ways off.

The genius of the thing excited me like nothing else ever had. It was the most advanced, incredible piece of technology I’d ever seen, and to have the chance to look at it up close, to go through the designs, to watch it being built, it was a dream come true.

Then of course there was the fact that it was supposed to be a bridge to a parallel dimension. An actual, bona fide alternate reality, one which was apparently so technologically advanced it could create superhumans like Zoe. I wanted to see that world more than anything else.

Did Zoe intend to let anyone go back with her? Was she just looking to get home, or did she care about more than that? I found it difficult to believe it would be that simple, but I didn’t know nearly enough about her to predict more than that.

There was another risk, too. Even if we could create an interdimensional rift, what if it got out of hand? It only needed to open long enough to send her through in theory, but what if we couldn’t close it after? What if it expanded?

What if more like her came through? What about getting rid of the others that were already through? There were too many variables, too many possibilities, and I did not trust Zoe to nearly the same degree as Sabrina seemed to.

A gentle knock at the door drew my attention, and I was surprised to see Zoe standing there. She never knocked.

“What’s up?” I asked, putting down the soldering iron I’d been absently turning over in my hands.

“Time for your medicine,” she said, grim humour accenting her voice. “It’s going to be a big one.”

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