Shift was dressed in police clothes with a notebook in his hands. Phase intervened before Ray could say anything. “How did your investigation go, did you find a way to stop the thief?”
“Stop them?” Shift’s laugh caused Phase to stop typing and look around. “I wanted to go and admire their skill...” A dreamy look entered his eyes as he spoke.
“And?” Phase’s eyebrows knitted together as he continued to stare at Shift.
“...well it doesn’t beat the time that I turned into that pink elephant and you jumped in and took the gold—“The thought of Shift once being a thief doesn’t surprise me all too much, but Phase? “—in fact it was pretty simple, a small window was open. I tell you, they’re all idiots with no imagination, those police. Took me ten seconds to figure out what happened.” He leapt from the platform and landed with a light thud on the ground near the centre computer.
“Yes, nine seconds to boast and one second to figure it out, if I’m being generous to you.” Rob turned back to his screen, losing all interest. “I’ve met several alternate Frank Normand’s, Shift, every single one is more useful and modest than you.”
“Hey, I’m humble and modest, in fact, I am the most humble and modest person you will ever meet ever!” He jabbed his thumb at his chest, “statues will be erected in my name for my skill in being modest—“Ray had already lost interest, opening the fridge to see what was inside. A few minutes moving things around and he finally found his tofu snacks.
“—anyway, that was just a cover Shift, I needed to play the thief to get the connections.”
“A cover of a cover of a cover?” Shift scratched his head and frowned. “But hey, I’m sure all that money went to charity,” he whistled as he looked around at all the expensive equipment.
“I don’t have to explain myself to you,” Phase’s tapping was growing louder.
Ray sighed as he leaned back on the counter and chewed. He was determined to keep the other two on track. “Shift pipe down. Phase, I assumed you called us here for a reason?” Phase turned towards Ray, his blonde hair almost crackling with static.
“True, Ryuu,” Phase breathed deeply and slapped a button.
The screens suddenly danced with static and images appeared. It was a desert, all hard-baked dirt and scrubs of dead brushes with a shocking blue sky. There was nothing interesting about it, nothing around for miles. It was just barren land, Ray thought.
“Another spot for a Walker Inc building?” Frank stepped back from the computer to get a better look. “I can tell that place will be a real money maker.” When his little comment didn’t get a reply he changed tack. “Seriously, where do these towers spring up from?” Phase was still silent. “I didn’t know half of these buildings that exist, well, existed” Phase turned to Shift with dizzying speed.
“I have Walker Inc now successfully integrated into at least two dozen parallel Universes and many countries and states besides. Since I have the ability to travel between parallel worlds, I figured the business would provide an excellent foothold in case I ever needed to spend prolonged periods of time in one of these places.”
“Wait,” Ray could see the cogs turning in Frank’s mind. “So you’re saying that you’re actively President of all of these Walker Incorporated’s at the same time. No wonder you’re always so bloody moody!”
“I do employ Superhumans to have a hand in the running of each whilst helping to keep crime down where they can. And with the useful, parallel Shifts, I’m always seen by each world’s media. Even though it does keep me busy—“
“What’s special about this place?” Ray interrupted.Seriously, these two could get more sidetracked than stop-ins on a motorway.
“Ah.” Phase sent several commands into the computer and on the biggest screen at the end of a room, a series of readings were going berserk. Ray had never seen anything like it. “There’s some interesting stuff going on in this area. Back in our Universe, this was the place that a new city suddenly appeared overnight. Shift was with me that time but you weren’t Ryuu so I’ll explain. The City was called Heliopolis, a technical marvel that had regular dealings with the advanced alien species that came from their own Universe. We managed to stop the threat and get Heliopolis back where it belonged, but we think they might be trying their hand at this ‘Verse instead. It’s why I brought us here, and my readings are proving me right.”
“Geez Phase you make it sound like it were difficult. Those creeps were easy to defeat, though I suppose all villains are easy to defeat when I’m there—“
Before Phase could react I asked the question, “What are we going to do?”
“Shift and I will be heading straight there to keep an eye on the situation. Just in case it’s a trap, I want you to stay here, keep an eye on WISH and be our backup. Can I count on you?”
“Yes Phase, you have my word.” He didn't mind being left behind. He was the soldier, carrying out orders and making sure things got done. Ray just hoped those two wouldn't get in each other's way without him.
“Aw, whilst we play with the big boys you get to babysit the house,” Shift laughed so hard he had to hold onto the rail to stop from falling. “I’ll bring you back a lovely piece of desert rock,” he winked. Ray rubbed his temple, all his years of training had prepared him for any combat situation, but not Shift.
“Whilst you’re here,” Phase began, “you can check out the situation with this Thief, Snake Eyes. The news says the situation is escalating.” Phase turned to Shift and held out his hand, “give me that notebook.” Shift was about to argue but when he saw Phase’s expression, he handed it over. “Use whatever notes he made to help you.”
Ray opened the book to see the only words on it were:
S.E. I bet it's a she, I bet she’s hot.
Ray scrunched the book up in his hand and threw it at Shift’s head.