Vanilla World, Chapter 3

Genesis was tired.  That accidental portal jump had happened hours ago, early in the morning. Still she was exhausted and couldn’t shake it. When she’d finally gotten off the skyscraper and back to headquarters, she’d been treated like a lab rat.

She’d been stripped, poked, prodded, scanned and tested for any and everything imaginable. Surviving an unstable portal jump was apparently a big deal around there. In the end, all that her tests showed was that she was severely dehydrated and had a serious case of anemia. Both of which were easily solved with a basic IV.

That was it, she thought, she’d had a long day and walked through something that should very well have killed her. That was why she felt so strange. According to all the doctors at headquarters, she likely only survived because it was a short jump from this branch to this branch and to a location not at all far away.

Genesis pulled her long, thick hair from its ponytail and shook her wild tresses loose. She slid out of her uniform and into her favorite red and white flannel pajama set with its long, loose, draw string pants and equally loose button up top. Before she could slip her feet into her furry slippers she froze. Tipping her head imperceptibly to the right, she listened. She had company.

Genesis moved barefoot and walked directly to her kitchen cupboard. She imagined that most women didn’t keep a loaded Dessert Eagle and extra clip next to the Cap’n Crunch, but most women didn’t do what she did for a living.

Her magazine was loaded with specialty rounds. There were silver bullets, bullets laced with garlic, those filled with acid, others filled with dye just in case something went invisible on her, and good old fashioned bullets made of copper. The way she saw, if she just kept shooting, she could kill anything with that clip.

“Don’t be stupid, put the gun away.” The voice greeted her from the now open doorway of her small apartment. It was a familiar voice. Genesis was quick to turn and point her weapon directly at her intruder.

“Good evening Mr. Torres” She said quaintly while removing the safety from her gun with an audible click.

“You know I could rip your arm off before your brain could tell your trigger finger to twitch” Darius sighed with annoyance.

“Most guys take me to dinner before trying to sweet talk their way into my place.” She said with a slight smirk.

“I’m not most guys, am I?” he asked, feigning amusement. He knew better than to show weakness to this woman, but he also knew that she might very well get her shot off before he could pounce. He’d seen her work. She was unnaturally fast and efficient with a weapon. The woman was a machine. He could also smell the silver in the air from her casings. She was prepared for just such an intrusion.

“Put the gun down Genesis. You know I didn’t come here looking for a fight. I have better things to do, and so do you.” Darius leaned against her doorway with his hands wrapped across his chest demonstrating his lack of aggression so she could relax.

Werewolves made most people nervous and Genesis was no exception. As tough as she was, Darius knew she had no desire to have to battle with him. She was very strong and fast for a human, and she might even put up a decent fight, but she’d loose. They both knew that. Besides, it would be counterproductive to make dinner of a possible ally in times like these, even if it was a full moon.  

Genesis narrowed her eyes and looked at him hard before slowly lowering her gun. She didn’t take well to werewolves showing up on her door during a full moon, not even werewolves she knew and semi trusted.

“Fine, let’s go. You’re taking me to dinner since you’re preventing me from having mine” She said pushing past him through the doorway.She walked into the hallway in her pajamas and headed straight to the elevator. Darius didn’t bother to question her. He just followed silently into the elevator behind the pajama clad federal agent.

As the doors slid closed Genesis looked over to Darius.

“Give me a boost” she said nodding up towards the ceiling panel. Darius simply lifted an eyebrow at her request. “I can do it without your help, but why when you’re standing right here?” Darius shrugged and honored her request. He clasped his hands and boosted Genesis up to remove a panel from the ceiling.

“I heard you took out a Pan, single handed.”  She said as she rummaged above her head. She knew her weight was nothing for Darius to bear. After all, he was a werewolf, and incredibly strong, even in human form.

“Yeah, it was no big deal.” He said in a modest tone, knowing full well that taking down a Panopteryx was a huge freaking deal.

“Nice” Genesis commented as she hopped down from his hands. The compliment was a temporary peace offering between the two and the best Genesis could offer. A black duffle bag hit the ground with a loud, dusty “umph” and she was back on her feet.

She quickly stripped down from her pajamas and pulled on a pair of dark blue jeans, a black turtleneck and black boots from the bag. She’d even managed a pair of silver and black hooped earrings. She straightened her outfit and looked up to find Darius wide eyed with shock just as the bell dinged and the doors slid open. She stuffed her Pajamas back in the bag and left it on the elevator floor.

“What? My apartment and everything in it is bugged. Did you want our entire conversation on record with the Federal government?" she commented about stripping in a moving elevator. "If I want any privacy, I have to get a little creative.” She stated in a dry tone, not at all embarrassed at having changed clothes in an elevator in front of a werewolf on a full moon.

“And I thought my job was bad.” Darius said, shaking his head at the shameless woman.

They walked a few blocks, just long enough for both of them to be sure that they weren’t being followed and ducked into a cozy little diner that was warm in an old fashioned kind of way. The second they squeezed into a small booth in the back, Genesis began talking.

“What are you doing here on a full moon, are you insane? You are clearly breaking the rules of your treaty with our government Darius.” She berated him. “Have you done something or killed someone? Is that why you’re here?”

Man she was like an annoying older sister, Darius thought, though she was not older or a sister at all. He imagined that was why the government was often called ‘big brother’. They were always in a persons business. Genesis was no exception. 

“No, I haven’t hurt anybody, but if it wasn’t serious I wouldn’t be here. So our usual deal, I give you something you give me something?” Genesis nodded wondering what was so big that it got him out during a full moon. Torres was usually more responsible than that.  He’d been on border detail a lot longer than she had. The guy was a legend for his tracking skills. Of course she’d make the deal.

“What can I get you two dears?” A thick middeled waitress with red hair and too much perfume on asked.

“He’ll have a side of ham, bacon, sausage and the largest cut of steak that you have, all rare please. I’ll have spinach salad, with raspberry vinaigrette please.” She knew that her order and Darius’ were shockingly different, but she was a vegetarian, and he was, well, a wolf. They’d gotten the strange looks before when they’d eaten together on rare occasions. Genesis offered the woman a half hearted smile to make her go away and spare her the explanation.

“You didn’t have to order me an entire farmhouse. I’m not going to eat you, you know.” Darius sighed. This chick had obviously heard Red Riding Hood one too many times. She was paranoid. 

“I still have my gun, I'd give you a hell of a stomach ache if you tried. That was for all the people you pass on your way back home" she quipped. "So what’s the deal Torres? Why are showing up to my place in the middle of the night during a full moon? I’m not even going to ask you how you knew where I lived.”

“I’m a wolf, I can track anything.” He shrugged. “That’s the problem. I’ve been tracking someone and I keep finding your scent all over my trail.”

It was Genesis’ turn to shrug. “It wouldn’t be the first time we were tracking the same creature.”

Darius grimaced. He hated when she referred to the citizens of the Netherworld as “creatures” or “things”. Genesis refused to consider them as people, just like her. She was so blinded by her prejudices that she couldn’t see the facts right before her.

“Yeah, but I’m not tracking a living person, at least I didn’t think I was.  There has been a disruption in the portals that seems like it’s coming from a machine. It’s like someone is creating artificial portals, but the technology is going a little crazy. But then, some of the rips I’ve traced are smaller, but far stronger. They don’t feel mechanical, but they’re not regular portals. They’re almost like random, chaotic wormholes.”

“That’s what I’m tracking” Genesis offered, putting her information on the table as the waitress put their meals there as well.

“What I’m tracking has power and energy surges off the meters. It’s stronger than anything I’ve ever seen. I can’t even imagine what kind of beast could harness that kind of power. Whatever it was, it left a portal open.” Genesis lowered her voice into a conspiratorial tone. “I fell through it. I actually fell through a portal today and survived.”

Darius shook his head vigorously in disapproval of her statement, and of her using the term ‘beast’ as he devoured his plate of meat.

“Not possible. At very least you’d be in a coma right? Homo sapiens can’t travel through unregulated portals. Your molecular build up could never handle it. You aren’t evolved enough.” He loved throwing that in her face. By all scientific accounts, those of the Netherworld had existed far longer than the Vanilla world, and were far more evolved.

“Maybe it’s the meds I’m on to make portal travel easy on me. We aren’t supposed to be able to travel through as often as I do, but these pills build my defenses against the travel tearing away at my immune system.” Genesis pulled a few large pink pills from her pocket and held them out for Darius to view like some prize of modern human medication. He sniffed briefly and balled his face into a frown.

“That’s just a generic woman’s multi vitamin Genesis. That wouldn’t help you cross at all. They might help you fight that anemia you have though.” He thought she was too smart to be that stupid, but that was thing thing about being a soldier. They followed orders blindly without ever taking the time to ask questions. 

Genesis snatched her hand back incredulously. Darius was just a wolf, what did he know? How could his kind decipher between a miracle in medical science and a One-A-Day women’s? She’d been taking those pills for two years. Her doctor’s had guaranteed her that travel between branches would have minimal effect on her because of those pills. No human could travel back and forth as often as she did and not be negatively affected, and Genesis was the picture of health, except for the anemia. Darius was wrong.

“Anyway, what information do you want that I have Torres?” her anger was palpable. Darius knew he’d better get on with it before she pulled a gun again and he really did have to rip her arm off. On a full moon, that was absolutely a possibility as an ending to this inter agency intelligence meeting.

“I need to know what is causing the mechanical tears. There is someone who is particularly good at getting unattainable information, but he’s not a contact I’d be permitted to negotiate with. I happen to know that he’s been in your government’s purse strings very recently, and word is, you are his contact.”

"Gramtag,"Genesis sighed. Why was it that classified information never stayed classified with these things? This was why she hated working with the supernatural. They had no respect for rules and protocol. That Gramtag was always bragging about his work. She did not enjoy dealing with that character. Darius must have had some very valuable information if he thought she’d volunteer to get in contact with a mercenary, a vampire mercenary at that.

“What’s in it for me?” genesis queried.

“Exact locations of where your jumper entered my world and a promise of inter agency cooperation as we both hunt him or her down and take their hopping privileges.” Darius offered. That was a good deal and Genesis knew it. If she knew where her creature was going, she could establish a pattern, which would make it easier to hunt down. She could care less about a mechanical hopper. That wasn’t her job or her jurisdiction. She just wanted to get whatever made the rip she fell through. 

“Fine, I’ll make it happen. Give me the coordinates.”Genesis demanded.

“Not until after you get my information for me. I will tell you this though, as an incentive. Whoever it is, it seems they are tracking the same device as I am; they are just one step ahead of me at every turn. This person is after the same information as you and I.”

“Rebels” Genesis frowned. Rebels always made things more complicated. While she and Darius did their best to keep the three branches separate and orderly, there were always those who wanted the worlds to fall together. Creatures that hadn’t been seen since the times of the Greek gods and African Mythos would suddenly be walking down Main Street. The result would be pure chaos: men would be hunted by monsters, more harmless creatures would be trapped and tested on by men, and things would surely fall apart. 

“Yeah, I’m thinking rebels too. I just don’t know what faction yet. So you find my vampire, and I’ll dig up your coordinates, deal?”

“Deal” Genesis said begrudgingly. She felt like she got the raw end of the deal having to deal with Gramtag. “Oh and Darius? Next time call before you drop in. I really dislike unannounced visitors” She said as he slid out of the booth and sauntered away, leaving Darius with the check. 

The End

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