Wrong Turn – an Eiko story
The moment she woke up, Eiko Takashima knew things were weird.
She was lying on something that was hard, warm, and slightly angled. In fact, her feet were hanging off into space. Her face was warm, her eyelids had light shining through them, and her hands felt oddly heavy. She then remembered that she was wearing the BREAQER gauntlets, and then the memory came flooding back.
“OK,” Dr. Flagler said, “we have the path plotted to the Long Island facility through subspace. Ready to go in three… two… one…”
Eiko slammed her hands together, then activated the gauntlets and started pulling spacetime apart to make a tunnel. It worked the same way it had before.
Just as she was stepping in, the green lights on the gauntlets switched to red, and just before she was pulled in, Eiko heard Dr. Flagler yell, “Wait, wait, quantum derangement, abort, ABO-“
And then it all went black.
Figuring out what happened, Eiko opened her eyes.
She was surrounded by four women in grey jumpsuits, wearing heavy technological backpacks. One was leaning over her, a blonde with manic eyes and tinted glasses; the tall thin redhead, the slightly pudgy brunette with the glasses, and the tall black woman looked on with interest.
“Hey!” the woman leaning over her said, “she’s not dead! That’s pretty cool.”
Focusing past them, Eiko saw a wooden ceiling above her, and to her left a… pole? Wait, was she in…. Yes. Yes she was, she was in a firehouse. She raised her head, and saw past the women a high-tech series of devices she couldn’t immediately identify, then realized she was lying on the hood of a car.
“Not dead. Where am I?”
“Ooh! And she speaks English!” the blonde added. “This is New York City. Do they have that where you’re from?”
“Holtzmann, please!” The brunette turned to Eiko. “So, yeah, this is New York City, and you’re in Ghostbusters headquarters.”
Eiko sat up, and checked the gauntlets. “Right. Okay. I think these went to the wrong place. I was supposed to go to Long Island.”
“Well, you definitely undershot,” the tall black woman said. “Oh, hey, since no one else did, I’m Patty, the gargoyle standing over you is Holtzmann, that’s Abby,” she said, pointing to the brunette, “and the one that’s kind of stunned because your shoe caught her head is Erin.” Erin waved, and Eiko noticed she looked a little glassy-eyed. She pulled herself forwards and off, letting the gauntlets fall to the floor, pulling a penlight from a pocket, and grabbed Erin’s head, checking her eyes.
“Ooh, pupils different sizes and slow to react, that’s a mild concussion, you better sit down.”
“Oh, she’s a medic!” Holtzmann said, approvingly. “Can we keep her?”
“No, Holtzmann, she’s not property,” Abby admonished the blonde. “Where did you come from?” she added, addressing Eiko. “I mean, you’re no ghost. We’d know.”
“Can I have some water and a bottle of Advil?” Erin asked, a little plaintively. “I didn’t get missed this time.”
“She’s right,” Eiko said. “I’m Eiko Takashima, mad scientist and doctor – including trauma surgeon – and I don’t think I’m even from this universe, but let’s take care of the medical needs and then we can talk.”
“I like her,” Patty told Holtzmann. “She’s making sense in the middle of all this weirdness.”
“I always thought making sense was a little overrated,” Holtzmann opined.
“So you’re from another universe?”
“I’m pretty sure.” Eiko had run around, looked out a window, and from where they were she should have seen the tower in the World Financial District that had Millenium Guard’s headquarters at the top. The tower was there, but the distinctive appearance of the hero base was not. And there was one tower near the southern tip of Manhattan where the Twin Towers should be.
“There’s some significant differences. So either I’m unconcious and having a really complex dream, or in a parallel universe.”
“Do you ever have a dream where you see yourself standing in sort of sun-god robes on a pyramid with a thousand naked people screaming and throwing little pickles at you?” Holtzmann asked in a completely conversational tone, then looked around. “No? Just me? Okay.”
“So this is what it’s like to be other people around me,” Eiko mused, as if that was a totally logical bridge. “I don’t see why they get frustrated.”
“Okay, so, how the Hell did you get here?” Patty asked, bringing the conversation back on track.
“I was testing a teleportation device that uses the atomic vibratory resonances of hyperstabilized yttrium -“
“Wait, no, no,” Erin, who’d decided she felt okay enough to be part of things, interjected, “what is hyperstabilized yttrium? I’ve never even heard of that kind of thing, even in the fringiest of fringe science journals. On the Internet.”
“I gotta go with Erin,” Holtzmann added. “What the hell is hyperstabilized yttrium, anyway? I mean, yttrium, it’s for LEDs, and lasers.”
Eiko rolled her eyes. “First you take Y-89, which is the stabilized form. Then it undergoes a complex process involving heating and cooling using thermal conductive materials in a vacuum cylinder, along with specialized agitations and tractor/pressor beams, which ends up organizing it into a mock-crystalline structure.” She popped open a pocket, pulling out a small grey piece of metal. “At which point we encase it in lucite to keep the air from messing with it, and boom. That’s the sample for the return trip – the travel destabilizes it and we have to make a new one. Takes a month to do the whole thing.”
Holtzmann tapped it, and Abby looked. “So what, this lets you pop holes in reality?”
“Well, the gauntlets are part of the system and, wait, where are they?”
“I put them on a table downstairs,” Patty informed her. “Figured big weird gloves, don’t want them just laying next to the car. Holtzie here might put them on and scratch her butt and make a hole all the way to Times Square.”
“Hold on,” Erin said, waving her hands. “She just casually mentioned tractor/pressor beams and we all let that go by? Like, energy devices that let you manipulate things from a disance?”
tEiko paused. “….and you don’t have those kinds of things here. Oh boy.”
Holtzmann snorted. “We also don’t have gloves you can rip a hole in the time/space fabric of the universe with. We do have nachos, which may be a superior achievement in food science.”
Eiko was getting the idea the other women were used to Holtzmann’s comments, as they just kept on going.
“So how did you get here?” Erin asked.
“Well, before things went nuts, the person who developed these said something about a ‘quantum derangement’. This was the longest distance we had tried – everything else was a few hundred meters – but… ghh. If I was back there I could check and see if anything really weird was happening at the time.” Eiko rubbed her forehead. “Gah, and I don’t have Orochi here to do the math, but at least the power cells on the gauntlets should still have a charge, that’s a positive.”
Erin waved her hands again. “You have tractor beams and batteries that can fit in huge gloves to rip holes in reality, and whatever an Orochi is. What kind of a place do you come from, anyway? Some kind of super-science utopia?”
“Couldn’t be.” The tone made everyone look at Holtzmann. “If it was a utopia, she wouldn’t have weapons.”
There was a brief moment of silence as everyone considered that.
Then Eiko spoke. “Orochi is an employee of my company – a synthetic sapience.”
“Like an AI?” Abby asked.
“Beyond that. Fully autonomous. Took us a while to get him stable, and then we had to get him to unencrypt the financial department by explaining he wasn’t a slave or just an experiment. We offered him a job. He works for my company, handling the computers – he loves security – and with his salary he’s a huge collector of Funco Pops.” She shrugged. “And yes, we have – limitedly – tractor/pressor beams, and my company designed and sells the batteries, and we’re kind of renovating Philadelphia with fusion generators and modern city planning and some nanotech for keeping public works repaired. But the way things are, always someone trying to get their way at the cost of others.”
“That sucks,” Patty said, “but we still have to figure out how to get you back.”
Abby cleared her throat. “Patty’s kind of the common sense of the operation.”
“Somebody’s gotta be,” Patty shot back.
A week went by. Eiko fended off Holtzmann’s (finally learning that she was named Jillian) attempts to study her things. Instead, in-between her work on the calculations on how to get back, and figuring out a way to give their particle-beam accelerators (really, Eiko thought, they were pretty good work and she might need to look into this when she got back) a little better control and a smaller chance to accidentally destroy each other with feedback. (Holtzmann objected with “Safety levers are for dudes!”, to which Eiko espoused the idea that blowing yourself into a quark-laced plasma was for anyone who didn’t care about their lives.) She met their office assistant, Kevin, who was not one of the great intellects of this or any other world.
Finally, that week done, she was ready. She put on the Gauntlets late in the evening, and was tapped on the shoulder. The four women were there, in their uniforms.
“You’re just gonna go like that?” Holtzmann said. “I had a ca-raaaaazy idea that might help. Maybe use the protoncasters on the portal, might rigidify the quantum structure and prevent a premature collapse.”
“Willing to try!” Eiko said, and then turned around. “When you’re ready.”
Patty and Holtzmann stepped up, unracked their casters, and flipped the switches. The slight whine of the casters activation rose quickly into the inaudible range. Eiko tapped her belt to activate the forcefield, then slammed the back of the gloves together as she had before. Then she dug her fingers into the ephemeral nothingness before her, and with a slight bit of surprise, they bit in. She pulled her hands apart, slowly, like making taffy. Something about this spacetime was different, stiffer, but she continued on.
Two blasts of orange-blue lighting lashed in, and she felt things become easier. Then two more lashed in, and Eiko looked to see Abby and Erin as well. The portal opened with almost contemptuous ease, and with a yell of “GERONIMO!!” Eiko stepped into the void, which slammed shut behind her.
The four Ghostbusters high-fived and went to their work, getting things together.
Jillian Holtzmann tapped her keyboard and pulled up her email, to find a message marked urgent from “Clara Kent”. Opening it curiously, she found it was actually from Eiko:
Find attached to this message some ideas I had to improve the efficiency and weight of your colliders. I think they can help.
Also find attached the plans and theory behind the batteries and a pressor/tractor device. Might take you a while, but I think you can get it out.
Don’t blow up!
Strange Visitor From Another Planet
Jillian grinned, and started looking at the attachments. This was gonna blow some minds.
Eiko opened her eyes. This time she hadn’t lost consciousness, just balance, and was lying on her face. (Well, almost – certain salient features were large enough to keep her face off the ground.) She took a breath, rolled over on the concrete, and looked around.
“Oh, thank God you’re back, boss.” Mary was there, her tail lashing. “Where were you? We couldn’t get a trace on you. Doc Flagler’s home on freaking Xanax, figured she blew you up.”
“Everybody take the rest of the week off with pay. Next week we go over the data. Yes, Mary, you too.”
“You’d be lost without me, boss.”
“True. OK, we’ll figure something out. It’s been a weird week in a parallel universe.”
The Ghostbusters are the property of Columbia Pictures.