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    The sub vanished.
    Thunderbolt, Talon and I looked at one another.
    "Pocket dimension?" I theorized. "Black Whip?"
    The sub rematerialized.
    "Well, that was neat," Scott said, evidently unharmed.
    "What happened?" I asked.
    "It went away. It was all white. I wonder who did that for him?"
    Theory on pocket dimensions has been around since the 50s; physicists in that area generally either make a hobby of them or pretend they don't exist at all, and the two camps don't talk to each other if they can help it.
    "You might want to take a look around, I couldn't find anything that would make it do that," Scott told us, emerging. "Poke around the cave, maybe it's hidden in the cave someplace. Did you detect anything?" he asked Thunderbolt.
    He told us that there had been a small, strange energy pulse from the apparent midpoint of the submarine.
    "I suppose if somebody decided they were going to hang a singularity in the middle of the sub and use itself as its own event horizon... that would be amazingly stupid," Scott concluded.
    "It may perhaps be simpler than that," I suggested. I've heard Plovian technology goes in for profligate use of singularities, but I can't feel comfortable with that. According to Scott, they can also take physical objects and reduce them to EM wavelength structures that simply "hang" in the space around them until called upon, at which point they collapse into physical space. That would have left one heck of an energy signature for Thunderbolt to see, though. I climbed on in and found a support column in the place where Thunderbolt had sensed the strange energy. No way to get at whatever it was right now without a blowtorch, which might well destroy whatever we were looking for.
    The discussion turned to the question of how we could get the thing and the body it contained out into the light of day. We could, of course, have some or all of us get in and head down the waterway to see where it came out. The thing looked usable, but I had my doubts about its actual seaworthiness. There was also the fact that we were out of radio range, so no one would have any idea where the sub actually was. Or we could hide the sub again and come back with help, which was what we finally decided to do.
    When we did that, Thunderbolt saw it; he was watching for that energy signature again, and spotted something floating in the water. Scott went back in and found what looked like a gemstone, an oval about two inches long, floating in the water. A weight kept it from bobbing to the surface.
    "Or we could take the miniaturized sub with us," Scott announced cheerfully.
    Thunderbolt frowned at it. "That looks familiar." He couldn't remember where he'd seen something like it before, though.
    "Looks like that stone that Cait Sith stole," Scott remarked. Different color, but similar in size and cut to the ruby. "There's also of course the odd chance that it could just be magic."
    We returned to the surface with the little evidence we'd found, and Scott called the FBI to get a professional crime scene team out there.
    "What this time?" was the wary response.
    "We found this currently abandoned supervillain henchmen training facility."
    "The defenses are still mostly active except where we knocked them down getting in."
    "Oh, we'll come check that out, that's not a problem!"
    "Yeah, this time I'm not calling about dead people in tubes," he correctly interpreted the relieved tone.
    "And we're very happy for it."
    "By the way, there are a lot of defenses on this building, it's about thirty years old but it was designed to kill everybody it could on their way in."
    "We'll keep that in mind."
    We waited for the first of the feds to show up, showed them the way in, let them know that we were appropriating a minisub for further investigation and got a lot of confused looks, then returned to the helicopter and headed back to Boston.

[Aside: Scott]

    "I wonder where they decamped to," I thought out loud as we made our way back toward Boston.
    "If we're really lucky, we can do a search of the database of architects and find all the buildings that Oscar R. Bouros designed."
    "Hm. I wonder if there are any in Seattle."
    "Oh, I'm almost positive. I'm almost positive the building they're currently using as Justice Defenders HQ was designed by him."
    "That would explain a few things." I sighed. "We're going to have to get these guys on tax evasion, aren't we?"
    Neil landed the chopper out on Mariner Island.
    "Hi guys, where's the sub dock?" Scott called. "And has Reilly got here yet?"
    "He radioed to say that he was on his way." Sparky looked around. "You said you had a submarine?"
    "I do." He held up the stone.
    "May I see that, young man?" J.T. rumbled. Scott handed it over. "Haven't seen one of these in a while," the old adventurer mused. "What's the command phrase?"
    "Well I'm not going to say it while you're holding it!"
    "Write it down."
    "I'll tell it to you in a minute once Reilly gets here."
    "Fair enough."
    "When's the last time you saw one?" Phoenix Talon asked.
    "What are they?" Scott followed up.
    "There was a scientist, someone who had done some work in the States, who had run afoul of Sa Hud. But he had produced... oh, God, must have been five or six of these? Y'know, high end physics work dealing with pocket dimensions and dimensional apertures. Each one of these is a two-piece crystalline unit, the information for the transfer is encoded in them," J.T. explained, holding the gem up to the light. "There's a harmonic key for them, which conveniently works out to a command phrase. They can be reprogrammed if you know how, but it'll swap whatever this is connected to for whatever is inside the pocket. In fact if one of you were to say it while holding onto it, you'd disappear."
    "Be floating in the pocket holding this?"
    "What was the guy's name?" I asked.
    "I think after this whole thing is over, we have to keep this thing," Talon opined. "It's too useful to let go."
    "What was his name.... Gilly, do you remember his name?" J.T. asked one of the Windjammers, who shook her head.
    "I mean, this way we get a sub and we don't even have to take care of it. You never can tell when you're going to need a sub."
    "That's true," Sparky agreed cheerfully. "We often find that we need subs in our—sorry sir," he stopped, catching his boss's look.
    J.T. sighed. "I'm getting old... Rushdie."
    "Rushdie?" I'd never heard the name, but then this is well outside my area.
    "Yes. Dr. Rushdie."
    "Well, that'll be something to look into later on."
    "Do you know how to reprogram them, by the way?" Scott added.
    "No. It would be whoever got his hands on Rushdie's journals. As these things usually play out, Sa Hud had kidnapped him, some of the stones had already been misplaced in various areas, he wanted Rushdie to recreate his work so that they'd be able to smuggle armaments into various places by transposing physical locations, we discovered this, we went in, the base blew up, everything was destroyed, Sa Hud was presumed dead—"
    "For about a week and a half," Gilly put in.
    "Yes, well. Rushdie was critically wounded, died in a coma a couple of weeks later. I have to say it wasn't one of our better cases, although we did prevent Sa Hud from getting his hands on these. But like I said, there can't be more than a half dozen of them in existence. They have to be fairly well coveted at this point. Where did you find this?"
    "In the cave of the Black Wh—"
    Scott threw a pseudopod over Thunderbolt's mouth. "Don't do that!"
    "As I recall, they float?" J. T. dropped it into the water near the sub dock.
    "Black Whip," a couple of us said in unison.
    There was the sub.
    "I have to say, that's a fairly impressive submarine for the time period," J.T. judged.
    "Fortunately, the pilot's still sitting at the controls," Scott told him. There was a boat angling across the cold bay toward the island.
    "So, what do you have for us?" Reilly asked. He'd brought Dr. Armani with him.
    Scott pointed at the submarine. "The previous owner of that died at the controls. As far as I can tell just looking at the place, as I haven't gotten to the end of his journal yet, he retreated the whole sub to the other side of the dimensional portal and just sort of died there."
    "So there's a body on board?"
    "Well, let's open it up."
    Scott handed the wallet over to Reilly, who flipped through it with a frown.
    "This is someone you were checking up on before, wasn't it?"
    "Hm. Okay."
    "He's connected with the Resurrectionist stuff," I put in.
    "Which has to do with 1-800-HENCHMEN?"
    "Yes," Scott supported.
    "I'd say it all fits together, but we're not really sure how," I admitted.
    Dr. Armani climbed up to the hatch and paused. "I'd like one of you to come in with me. I don't really care which, but...."
    I think those zombies scarred him. I volunteered.
    "This guy was sort of an early survivalist," Scott explained. "Well, actually, he was just convinced somebody was going to kill him one of these days. So it's pretty much a floating bomb shelter."
    "I'll back that up," Armani agreed, going inside and looking around. Phoenix Talon followed us, just in case.
    Scott realized that he had forgotten to pass on something important. "Oh, and for those of us who just got here, if you know his supervillain nom de guerre, don't use it. Otherwise the thing turns into a little floating rock. Or if you do use it, say it again to get it back."
    "Something to bear in mind...." Reilly shook his head with a familiar long-suffering look.
    Inside, Dr. Armani conducted an initial survey. "Well, there are no obvious wounds on the body. It's been here for quite some time. The place is dry enough that dessication simply set in. Doesn't look like anything killed him, he probably just died. Heart attack? I'm going to have to do something more conclusive than this, but there's no reason from looking at it for me to assume that there was any foul play involved. Maybe he took poison, I don't know." He picked up the gun carefully in gloved hands. "Loaded. Could you bag that?"
    I dropped it into an evidence bag without touching it.
    "We're going to have to take this to actual facilities," he indicated the body. I moved the body out of the submarine, careful not to bang it on anything in case something fell off, while Armani went over the control room for fingerprints and additional evidence.
    And then what had been a fairly good day got... well, annoying.
    "I have to make it back to Rhode Island," Neil announced. "Sorry you guys couldn't find anything else but, but I was glad to be available."
    "Thank you very much," Scott told him sincerely.
    "So I... actually, can I talk to you for a second?" he asked me.
    "Yeah, let's do that." Might as well. We appropriated a small conference room while I pondered how much I really hate dealing with people.
    "So... I was wondering if you wanted to come out to Rhode Island, or I could come back up here, for dinner, some night, next week," he said with much hesitation.

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© 2001 Rebecca J. Stevenson