"We'll come through for you!"
Spindle's home dimension of Frobenius
During his burn into Frobenius, Josh made up his mind that he was going to land on his feet like the other DimensioNoids did. Besides, Tempo was along this time. She’d witnessed his face-ﬁrst ﬂop at the end of his ﬁrst dimension burn into Durratta. She’d heard Denso tell the others of Josh’s landings in a bush in Cadavra, and a snow drift upon his return burn. The burn into Frobenius was going to be different. Josh was determined to call upon his skateboarding skills to nail the landing. What he didn’t know was that it was raining in Frobenius.
Tempo had arrived moments before Josh reached terminus. She saw him come out of the burn on a muddy, slippery hill. He landed on his feet, but they immediately ﬂew out from under him like a circus clown stepping on a banana peel. Josh zoomed down the muddy slope on his butt, crashing into a small stand of saplings at the bottom.
“You have yet to master terminus velocity,” she said, with no hint of ridicule, as she helped him to his feet.
“It’s raining! Nobody told me it would be raining!” Josh groaned, covered in mud. Tempo’s cloak, though rain-soaked, showed no trace of mud. She’d landed properly.
“It rains half the time in Frobenius,” Tempo said. “This is why the land is so plentiful.”
Josh looked around. Frobenius was truly a place of bounty. Berries as big as baseballs covered the bushes. Fruits and nuts ten times the size of those in Josh’s dimension hung heavy from colossal trees. Vegetables of every color and shape imaginable clung to vines growing up the half-mile wide trunks of the towering trees that dwarfed even the great Sequoias of California. All were foreign to the boy from Solaria. Josh could not classify a single one. Well, he never did do well in biology.
The rain drenched the land and the great trees drank. The rain stopped. The suns came out—three of them. Droplets still dripping from the foliage were struck by the suns’ rays sending fracturing rainbows through the forest. The colorful array of fruits and vegetables seemed to glow when touched by the dancing sunlight. Frobenians wearing cloaks like those Josh and Tempo wore came ﬁltering out of the undergrowth. Some shed their cloaks, hanging them on bushes. In an incredible demonstration of Frobenian elasticity, these stretched their legs, then their arms way up, to pick the high bounty, then they shrank their arms and legs down to deposit their Frobenian plenty into several huge two wheeled carts on the ground being pulled by strange domesticated draft animals that snorted like pigs.
Josh was about to approach the Frobenians when Tempo grabbed his cloak. Two Minion warriors on anti-grav skimmers ﬂew out of the jungle. They had their cell disruptors at the ready and were obviously there to oversee the gatherers.
Josh and Tempo immediately began to mimic the others, picking fruits and berries, all the while working their way away from the guards and nearer the thick jungle. One of the skimmers edged closer. The Minion noticed something strange about Josh. His hands weren’t the pasty yellow color of a Frobenian. His feet were not three-toed with claws like a chicken’s. The guard turned his disruptor toward the boy.
“You there! Do not move!” the zombie said in the deep, stilted, rasping voice of the dead.
Josh could have hit the burn band activator under his cloak, but he wasn’t going to leave Tempo behind. Also, he wasn’t sure the burn would take hold fast enough to protect him from the disruptor. The second guard joined the ﬁrst and they jumped to the ground. They smelled like only zombies could. One pulled back Josh’s hood.
“What dimension are you from?” the zombie Minion said, forcing dead facial muscles into an attempt at a sneer. The second guard pulled back Tempo’s hood, but instead of Emily Kinicki, Tempo now held the form of a yellow skinned Frobenian girl, bird-beak, big round eyes, rooster comb of bright red hair and chicken feet.
“Don’t ask me,” Tempo said with a shrug, and the blackboard scratch of a Frobenian teenager’s voice. “I’ve never seen him before in my life.”
The guards pushed Tempo away and both focused on Josh. It was a mistake for them to turn their backs on Tempo. She morphed into what Josh would later learn was a Tizlakian Ape from a dimension called Horanth. As they heard a guttural roar and the shredding of the cloak she wore, the guards turned. They were so stunned at what they saw they didn’t even raise their weapons. The ape, which was Tempo, smashed a ﬁst completely through each of their faces, and the two Minions became piles of debris.
“They have transmitters imbedded in their skulls and are in constant communication with their commanders!” the ape that was Tempo said, her very feminine voice a contradiction to the hairy, hulking form she’d taken. “Run!”
Josh and Tempo ran to put distance between themselves and the two piles of dust that used to be Minions. It was fortunate they did, for seconds after they disappeared into the thick undergrowth, an electrically charged patch appeared before the dumbstruck gatherers. Chaos stepped through.
“Where did the Solarian go?” he growled. The Frobenian gatherers shrugged as though without a clue. Still, Chaos knew—knew the Frobenians, though conquered, were a rebellious lot. Chaos grabbed the cloak front of the nearest male and brought him into the gaze of his haunting mesmer eyes. The Frobenian man’s will crumbled.
“That way,” the mesmerized Frobenian said in a hypnotic squawk, pointing to the path the two fugitives had taken.
Chaos set off in dogged pursuit, calling for Minions to cut off Josh and Tempo’s escape. What he didn’t know was that Tempo, using the abilities of the Tizlakian Ape she’d morphed into, scooped Josh up by the waist and climbed a tall tree shortly after they’d ﬂed. Hidden amid the thick mile-high foliage, the two watched Chaos race by below.
“Shouldn’t we burn back to the command center?” Josh asked, frightened at the sight of Chaos.
“If it is your will,” Tempo blinked, her silken voice emanating from a hairy ape complete with ﬂies.
Josh thought better of it, as she knew he would. “Naw, we gotta help Spindle,” Josh decided. Tempo then carried Josh down from the tree.
She set him on his feet and they ran off in the other direction side by side. She ran like gorillas on earth run, a lumbering knuckles to the ground stride, though a Tizlakian Ape was much larger, chartreuse in color, and way uglier!
“Uh, could you lose the King Kong look?” Josh pleaded.
“The shape you’ve taken. I prefer Emily Kinicki.”“Oh, so do I. Sorry,” she said, and reverted to the form of Emily as they ran.
Now, Tempo ran with human grace. She was barefoot, and wore only that purple one piece bathing suit. Her Frobenian cloak was gone, shredded by her transformation.
It began, again, to rain.
Emily’s bathing suit soaked through in a heartbeat. Her form seemed somehow reserved for older girls. He looked at her, his dream girl, running there beside him. She looked over at him and smiled as they ran. That’s when the hem of his stupid Frobenian cloak snagged a root, and Josh ﬂew face ﬁrst into the ferns. Tempo helped him up from another embarrassing crash and burn for what seemed to Josh to be the hundredth time in the last twenty four hours.
“We’d better ﬁnd shelter and rest,” she said.
“You don’t need to rest,” Josh panted painfully.
“You run and climb and ﬁght like some kind of robot!”
“An interesting analogy,” she said, as they scurried under the twisted snag of a giant tree stump to hide from the rain. “I am metal based. But I am also—alive.”
“You’re telling me,” Josh sighed as he sank down to the ground, exhausted.
“And I have gender,” she added, crouching next to him.
Josh looked into her eyes. He pulled himself up into a crouch and started to wrap part of his cloak around her.
“There’s no need for that,” she smiled. “I’m unaffected by the elements. Though extreme cold sometimes makes me feel a little—sluggish.”
Her breath caressed his face.
“Is that real? That breath. Do you need to breathe?”
“No. Not as you know it. Once a day, my nitrogen and oxygen intake is absorbed—through my skin.”
She looked at him blankly. “I know not—”
“Uh, you have—great skin,” he smiled.
“In reality my skin is more of a metal. A ﬂuid alloy. I do have excellent surface tension.”
Josh laughed. It was a nervous laugh. He was falling in love with a glob of liquid metal!
“I like the way you laugh,” she said, her shoulder touching his, thus reading his thoughts about her form. “Laughter is common to all dimensions. All the intelligent entities laugh,” she added with a purpose.
The rain stopped, and the three Frobenian suns came out. It was like a hot house, but the Frobenian cloak was light and airy, yet highly resistant to the rain. Some sort of coated linen, Josh concluded, but it didn’t stretch, like the bright red body suits the Frobenians always wore.
“We’d better keep moving,” Tempo suggested. They got up, but Tempo touched his arm. Her telepathic message was, “Be still!”
Josh looked where she was looking, and saw movement among the trees.
“Hurry!” she said inside his head.
They ran around the giant stump and into the jungle behind it. Tempo instinctively used the bulk of the stump to block the view of whoever was following, kept them from seeing which direction they went. They found some open area and jogged along pretty well. Josh was proud of being able keep up with her. Then he thought, I’ll bet she can run as fast as any creature in creation, if she wanted to. She’s just keeping her pace down to accommodate me! Not too humiliating! Josh shouted to himself inside his own head.
Twice they had to stop and hide under the great ferns as Minion skimmers prowled by high overhead. But the searchers were above the jungle canopy, and the fugitives beneath it. Even the enemy’s vast technology couldn’t track the fugitives down. They ran some more, down into a ravine, and up the other side. Suddenly, an elongated three-toed leg stepped in front of them from behind a tree, and then the rest of its body snapped into view, revealing a Frobenian woman. She wore no cloak. She wore the same red elastic garb Spindle wore, the bird face and the chicken comb-like shock of red hair, as well.
“Come with me,” the woman said in the same kind of bird-like voice all Frobenians had.
The woman turned and trotted effortlessly ahead of them, leading them into the thickest part of the jungle. Tempo and Josh hesitantly followed.
“How did you ﬁnd us?” Tempo asked.
“I was in the party of gatherers you joined. We try to put an agent into most of the gathering parties to keep up on what’s going on outside.”
“Outside? Outside what?” Josh panted, the running wearing him down, and the two girls running with him without a drop of sweat.
“You’ll see,” the Frobenian woman said.
CLICK HERE FOR CHAPTER NINE: ALLIES