Eve of Destruction

"Come with us," W.A. continued as the three of them started to run. "We have to get people out of here. We have to round up as many people as possible."

Aaron had started to run as well. Although he wasn't sure if he wanted to follow this weird group, he didn't have much choice or time to think about it at the moment. "Round people up? What for?"

"See that?" W.A. pointed at Logan's phone. "As far as this world is concerned...that's Noah's Ark."

Logan stopped frowned at WA for a moment. "Are you getting senile, Old Man? You want to try and amass a major evacuation in under an hour," She waved the timer in WA's face, "With this??? This thing doesn't have the power to transport a school bus full of kids, let alone any significant number of people! I say we lie low and wait to slide the heck outta here."

"Typical," WA frowned at her. "First sign of danger and you decide to look after number one."

"It's been just me since the beginning. And guess what? I'm alive." Then she paused and sighed. "But that wasn't my point. My point is, we literally can't help anyone. This ITF timer is meant for just a couple people. We could take, maybe, three more people with us."

"Could you boost the power?" Miles asked.

Logan shrugged. "I'm hesitant to take this thing apart while this world is ending."

"We can't just stand by and let these people die, Logan!" WA shouted.

"What are you guys talking about?" Aaron finally spoke up, having been staring at the trio with a confused look on his face. "What is that?"

"We don't have time for this," Logan argued.

WA shot her a look that would've put out the sun with it's coldness. Then he turned back to Aaron. "Long story short: we're from another universe, another Earth. This device let us come here, and we're gonna try and use it to help as many people as we can."

"Which means we get to bring three people to safety." Logan said, audibly annoyed with WA's insistence on playing the hero. "Unless you want to go full-on martyr and give up your seat on the next wormhole out of here, Dubs."

WA glared at her. Logan merely crossed her arms. "I'm just telling it like it is." Then her features softened and a pained look flashed across her face for the briefest of moments. "If I could... I would try to help them all. But the fact of the matter is that this world is ending and we're only here for less than an hour. We got dealt a bad hand, Max." She hoped using his real name would help punctuate the point she was making.

WA shook his head. "There's one option you're not considering, Logan."

"What's that?" Miles asked.

"You want to call the feds in..." Logan said, hefting up Agent 47's phone/timer.

"They could bring in more agents, start ferrying people off-world. It may not be much but it's more than we could do on our own."

"And they arrest us all, and we end up on a world that's yet to discover indoor plumbing." Logan said. "I'm sorry, but I'm not taking that risk."

"They'll be too busy for that." WA stated. "Besides, they won't know it's us. They'll assume the agent called in the evac."

"He's right, Logan." Miles finally chimed in. He gestured to the city around them which was already descending into panic. "Things are gonna get crazy down here. They'll never find us."

"And we can help Aaron get his friends and family out." Miles added. Then he turned to the beleaguered delivery boy. "Which means today is your lucky day."

Aaron didn't know how to react to that. He just found out that some alien planet-thing was about to wipe out the Earth, that alternate universes existed and that people could travel to them, and he wasn't able to get Latasha on the phone and call her about all of this.

"Please, Logan." WA insisted. "This is the right thing to do."

Logan stared at the ITF device and hissed through her teeth. "Fine... I swear developing a conscience is gonna be the death of me." She flicked on the touchscreen and went through the commands in the phone. Then she pressed the call button and handed it to WA.

"Agent 47, report." A voice said on the other end. It was somewhat surreal that WA was talking with someone across dimensions. He wondered if they counted as long distance calls.

WA thought for a second. "Uh... Situation is critical. An unknown entity is preparing to wipe out the entire planet. We need to get teams in to evacuate as many of these people as we can."

There was a pause. "Understood, 47. Mobilizing evacuation teams now."

WA hung up and handed the phone back to Logan. Logan nodded and put the phone back in her pocket. Then they all turned to Aaron.

"We need to move, Aaron. Who do you know that's close by?" WA asked.

"Uhh... My girlfriend... She's..." Aaron was still struggling to process this. "She works at the K-Mart... a... about ten blocks from here."

There was a distant whooshing sound overhead as a vortex opened in midair. Much to everyone's surprise, something that looked not unlike a Kromagg manta ship exited. However it had human markings and was colored blue and white with the letters "ITF" emblazoned on its hull.

"Guess they don't mess around," Miles said as more vortexes opened overhead.

"We better move." Logan said. "We don't have much time."

The four started to run as the wind began to pick up with the impending approach of the massive object.

----
Mia stared down at the gun in her hands. It was the Agent's gun, WA gave it to her just in case Agent 47 caused any trouble. But she hoped she wouldn't have to use it.

"You look like I did when I first joined the ITF," 47 said. "How long have you and your brother been lost out here?"

"Almost a year now." Mia said.

"That's a long time." 47 fidgeted in his seat. "Why don't you tell me about the Earth you come from?"

"Why should I?" Mia frowned at him.

"Because I'm tied to this seat and we're both basically waiting for your friends to get back. I'm bored." 47 said.

Mia sighed. "It's home... I dunno."

"What's your America like? I once went to a world where the US had most of Canada as a number of states. That was bizarre." 47 said.

"On my Earth, we've got fifty-three states." Mia said. "A lot seem to just have fifty. It varies. My Earth seems like a lot of Earths. Even this one. It's got its problems like any other Earth. Though not of the bizarre variety like genetically engineered wasps or a cabal of dream-invading wizards who rule society. Just... normal boring things."

"You already sound like a slider. Like the older agents I work with. They see the weird stuff that can happen on other worlds and suddenly all your world's problems look tame in comparison. Especially when you run into Kromaggs and the like."

"What is a Kromagg?" Mia asked. "I heard you and WA mention them before."

"A big, nasty race of eyeball-eating psychics who are an offshoot of humanity where we went one way on the evolutionary chain, and they went the other. They discovered sliding and used it to pillage other worlds. But the ITF helped take them down a few notches so they're just a nuisance at this point."

"Still sounds pretty wild." Mia said with a hint of awe.

"Kromaggs are nothing." 47 said. "There are worlds where dinosaurs never went extinct. Even some where mankind never got the chance to evolve and now a race of dinosaur people are the dominant species. Infinite worlds, infinite possibilities."

"And this thing my brother and the others are looking into right now? What about that?"

"Let's just say that by the time they come back, they'll be more understanding of my organization's goals..."

----

Miles was running faster than he had ever ran before. The others were struggling to keep up with him while Aaron told them where to go. It had been a while since Miles had been able to bust out the ol "track legs." Though he just wished it was in a more enjoyable environment.

The streets were full of people just flat out freaking out while ITF agents in reverse-engineered manta ships descended from the sky and practically herded people into them. The sky had grown dark and the air cold as whatever was above them engulfed the sky. Already the tops of buildings were breaking up as it began to consume the world. People were screaming, cars and planes were crashing, it was unlike anything Miles had ever seen.

All the while, this THING just hovered over them, quietly consuming the entire planet. Miles recalled the message it had sent out and how... uncomfortably polite it sounded. There was no inflection to the words, no malice, just a matter-of-fact statement that it was here to consume the planet and everyone on it and there was nothing anyone could do.

By the time the group reached the K-Mart the place was being ransacked by looters. Gunshots rang out and people were smashing every window and glass case they found. Aaron ran ahead while the others stopped to catch their breath.

"Latasha! Latasha!" Aaron shouted. "Where are you???"

Aaron's voice was practically drowned out by the screaming and automated announcements the ITF were playing.

"PLEASE REMAIN CALM AND SEEK THE NEAREST ITF VESSEL TO REACH SAFETY."

As the group went further into the store they were stopped by the sound of gunshots. A man was standing on top of a display with a handgun in one hand and the arm of a mannequin in the other. He was just wildly firing at anything that moved, completely insane. The level of insanity had been ratcheted up to eleven at this point. Miles ducked behind a counter, followed by Logan and WA.

"You still got that stun baton?" Logan asked.

Miles pulled the baton out of the waistband of his jeans. "Figured it'd come in handy again."

"I'll distract him," Logan said. "You sneak up behind him."

"Latasha!" Aaron was still shouting for his girlfriend when the crazed gunman turned and fired at him. He missed and Aaron went running for cover and ended up hiding in a nearby dressing room.

"I'll do the same," WA said. Both he and Logan kept low and moved further into the store, making sure not to be spotted by the gunman as Miles went the other way and worked to get behind him.

Logan popped up behind a small stand with some mannequins. "Sale on shoes! 25% off!" She shouted.

The gunman fired at her just as she ducked out of sight.

WA opted to throw shoes at the guy from the shoes section. This kept the gunman occupied as Miles got behind him and stunned him with the baton. The gunman fell to the ground, out cold. Logan rushed up and snatched the pistol from his hand and checked to see if he had more bullets. A single clip was tucked into the man's rear pocket. However, instead of taking the gun for herself she quickly disassembled the pistol and emptied the magazine onto the ground.

Suddenly Miles was reminded of the last time Logan used a gun and understood why she had done that.

When the gunfire ceased, Aaron left the safety of the dressing room and continued to call out for his girlfriend. But it was becoming abundantly clear that she was no longer here. He looked to WA and the others with a defeated look.

"Look," WA tried to assure him. "We've still got time. Is there any place you think she'd go to be safe?"

Aaron thought for a moment than nodded. "Her mom's place! She'd go to her mom's she lives on the other side of Golden Gate Park."

"Dubs," Logan said to WA, "We're running out of time here."

"I know! I know!" WA said in frustration. "We need to get there quick."

"How about a car?" Miles asked, then he looked to Logan. "You could hotwire a car right."

Logan smirked, amused that Miles immediately assumed she would be the one who could do that. "I can, but the streets are packed with wrecked cars and screaming people, we'd never be able to get through in time."

Miles turned and looked towards the sporting goods section and smirked. "Anyone thinking what I'm thinking?"

Minutes later, the four of them were riding out of the K-Mart on bicycles. WA and Aaron rode their own while Logan and Miles were forced to take the only remaining bike left: a tandem bicycle.

"This is embarrassing." Miles said, unamused.

"Don't knock it!" Logan smirked. "We can keep the bike and then maybe you and Mia can have a romantic bike ride in the park on the next world you two visit."

"You seriously need to stop with that, it creeps me out." Miles said.

"I'll stop doing it when you stop being creeped out by it." Logan said with a devilish grin.

The group rode through the streets, racing to the place Aaron believed his girlfriend was at. An ITF manta ship flew over them for a moment, it's PA system blaring out the same message as before. The sky was opening up with more portals, with manta ships flying into and out of them. WA smiled at this, it meant calling the ITF was the right call. Even Logan had to admit, it was better than leaving these people to die.

By the time they reached the house where Latasha and her mom were supposedly holed up in, the panic in the streets had eerily subsided. Even the wind, despite blowing so hard it made it difficult to ride their bikes, was eerily silent. Aaron leaped off his bike and raced up the stairs to the front door shouting for Latasha.

Much to his relief, Latasha burst out the front door and ran to him. "Aaron! Aaron! Oh my god! Aaron I tried calling you! I tried! I'm so sorry, baby! I'm sorry!" She was already breaking down by the time they embraced.

"I know, babe! I know!" Aaron said, he didn't care about anything. He was just glad to know she was alive. "Look, you need to get your mom and come with me. These people," he gestured to Miles, WA, and Logan, "They're here to help, they'll take us someplace safe."

Latasha looked up at the sky as the enormous machine blocked out the sky. "Where can we be safe from THAT???"

"Trust us," Miles said. "We know of a place. But there's no time, we're about to leave!"

Latasha reluctantly nodded and then looked to Aaron. "You trust them?"

"It ain't like we got a choice," he pointed out. "But I've seen them work, they're solid."

Latasha nodded and went back inside to get her mother. Latasha's mother was a older woman, yet despite the situation was still rather feisty."

"You trust these three? Heck! Look at em! Two white boys who look stringier than your spaghetti! And the lady looks like bad news! She's got the prison eye!" Latasha's mother pointed to Logan. "You done time, girl! I can see it!"

"Mama! These people say they can take us to a safe place! You have to come!"

"I don't trust em!" Mama said.

"I believe a demonstration is in order." Logan pointed out as she whipped out Agent 47's timer. It was beeping, the time was up. She activated the vortex at the end of the house's drive way. Mama's eye widened while Latasha clung to Aaron in surprise and fear.

"Oh Lord protect us." Mama said.

"Right now we're the only ones who can do that," Logan said. "It's safe! Look!" She nodded to Miles for him to jump in.

"See you all on the other side!" Miles said before hopping into the vortex.

"Come on!" WA shouted. "We need to go!" He pointed to the sky.

The San Francisco skyline was being consumed, buildings were flying upwards and crumbling. The massive machine that was Shiva opened itself up, revealing what appeared to be a massive, glowing, red eye which proceeded to consume the incoming debris. Planes tumbled skywards, and so did a few unlucky ITF manta ships which had yet to flee into their vortices. There was a deep rumble and the earth began to shake. In the distance the sliders could see the water from the bay beginning to rise up now, as well as pieces of the very ground which were pulled from the Earth by the same unseen force that was rending the buildings asunder.

Latasha and her mother were overcome with horror and both started crying. WA urged them to enter the vortex, and they eventually did so. Aaron followed suit, leaving Logan and WA remaining. Both were transfixed by the destruction they were witnessing.

"We need to go..." WA said before stepping into the vortex.

Logan stared up at the machine consuming the Earth one last time, she closed her eyes, looked away and then stepped through before the wormhole closed.

And then the world ended.

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