Schisms Pt. 1

Logan was uncharacteristically quiet as the group made their way down the street, passing both people and Kromagg alike. Her pace was quick and you could practically see the aura of utter contempt she had for the place increase with every Kromagg she passed. Miles was concerned, there was no telling what she would do.

WA had explained to both Miles and Mama Latasha what the Kromaggs were. He himself wasn't too keen on the situation yet admitted that the general vibe of the world was one of peace. It was rather bizarre, yet nice at the same time, to see Kromaggs happily chatting with humans on street corners and smiling. Sure the smiles were still comprised of needle-y teeth, but they were smiles nonetheless.

"Seems fairly normal aside from the baldies," Mama Latasha said as she passed a Kromagg wearing a business suit. "You tellin' me they're supposed to be some missing link to man? Cause they look more like somethin' you'd see in a freak-show."

"The prevailing theory is that they were from a Earth where an apex-predator ape-like species wiped out the predecessors of man." WA told her.

"And they invented sliding to conquer worlds?" Miles asked.

WA shook his head. "No. Someone gave them the technology. A slider."

Logan remained silent, but did glance back at WA when he said this.

Miles frowned. So much pain and suffering from one slider. He wondered, for a brief moment, if the ITF weren't so bad after all for wanting to catch every wayward slider they found.

They soon reached the location of the rendezvous point, and were surprised to find it was a towering building with the name "Slide-Tech" on the front. It was a lab for researching sliding.

"This wasn't in the file 47 sent us." WA murmured.

"Could be a good place to get some parts?" Miles suggested. "Maybe they know about Shiva? This could be the best place to gather data on it."

Logan didn't bother speaking and just continued walking and entered the building. The others followed behind her. The main lobby and a finely waxed floor and cool air. The receptionist, a young human woman, behind the large front desk looked up from her computer and smiled at Logan who continued to glower before looking back to WA.

"Who was the contact?" Logan said.

WA leaned forward and smiled at the receptionist. "We have a meeting with Brandywine. We should be on the list under Torme."

The receptionist looked at her computer and clicked her mouse a few times before nodding and producing a key card from beneath the desk. "Yes, here, use this to access the elevator and take it to level B-12. Mr. Brandywine has been expecting you."

WA smiled. "Thanks." Then gestured for Miles and Mama Latasha to follow. Logan was already headed to the elevators. Once they reached the elevators WA used the card to open the doors and they all stepped inside and descended into the underground section of the complex. Logan was tapping her foot as they all waiting inside and listened to the surprisingly good muzak playing through the speakers.

"Why so edgy, Logan?" Miles finally had to ask, the tapping had finally broke down his reservations on asking her.

"I hate Maggs." Logan told him, succinctly.

"I'm no fan of them either," WA said, "But its clear they're coexisting with the people here."

Logan shook her head. "I don't buy it. Kromaggs never coexist with humans. They think our eyes are too tasty."

"I saw a Kromagg kissing a human on the street up there," Miles pointed out. "He was more interested in eating her face than her eyes."

Logan blew air through her nostrils. "This place stinks. Let's just get what we came here for and get out. Okay?"

The elevator door opened and a small Kromagg in lab coat was standing at the elevator. He smiled when he saw the group. "You must be the people 47 was talking about." The Kromagg smiled and gestured for them to exit the lift. "My name is Brandywine, welcome to Slide-Tech!"

"You're the contact?" Logan hissed. "A maggot?"

Brandywine was taken aback by the slur, visibly hurt even. "I uh... you didn't know?"

"Would I be here if I knew?" Logan said in a raised voice. She looked to WA, "Dubbs, we can't trust this maggot!"

"He was 47's contact," WA rebutted. "Obviously he has information about Shiva, we can trust him!"

"I'm not working with a maggot!"

Brandywine visibly recoiled when Logan said "maggot." He looked to the others and meekly said. "I'm sorry for any deception. It wasn't my intention..."

Logan was about to speak again but WA put his hand on her shoulder to stop her. "No, it's we who should apologize. Or rather... my friend here... We just didn't know and... well we're not used to seeing Kromaggs."

"Most who come to this world are startled at first," Brandywine said. "It's not the first time, and it most certainly won't be the last. I... understand your friend's discomfort..."

"You have no f--" WA had to firmly squeeze her shoulder to stop her from blowing up on the little Kromagg. She glared at him before shrugging off his hand and crossing her arms. "I'm not apologizing. Just... get what you guys came here for..." Logan insisted she stay near the elevator while the others followed Brandywine into his lab.

"So this building is dedicated to sliding research?" Miles asked.

"Indeed," Brandywine said with a nod as he led the trio down the hall. "It was established after the Peace Accords between the New Kromagg Hegemony, The Six Earths, and the ITF. We were established to find ways of making sliding safe, as well as providing technology for the ITF to help with their endeavors. However, we're privately funded, so we don't have to abide by much of the ITF's regulations so long as we don't get on their bad side and keep them stocked in cool toys."

"That's how 47 knows about you?" Miles asked.

"Yes. I met our mutual friend at a yearly summit that discusses maintaining order across the multiverse, it's dreadfully boring. You see, I was one of the first people to discover 'The Shiva Problem' but I was ridiculed by my peers. But 47 believed me and we've been working to try and stop Shiva ever since. It's only a shame we have to operate under clandestine situations."

"But the ITF knows about Shiva, they've been to the worlds its attacked. Why not acknowledge it?" Miles asked.

"Because the ITF is afraid to acknowledge the problem." Brandywine said. "Better to classify the disasters as some sort of natural multidimensional disaster, than to admit there's an unfathomable entity out there consuming entire Earths." Brandywine said.

"Sticking their heads in the sand." WA chuffed.

"Not to mention the bureaucratic nonsense." Brandywine added. "The ITF may have helped stop my people from committing atrocities across multiple Earths, but now-a-days they're more concerned about maintaining their precious laws and tossing hapless sliders onto stone-age worlds."

"Hopefully we can do something about this that they refuse to," WA said.

"I hope so too." Brandywine said. They entered his lab. It was just as Miles expected it to be. A clean room with tables full of techno-nonsense full of blinking lights complete with a chalk board of what he quickly realized was the Unified Field Theory. The key to sliding.

"So what do you have for us?" WA asked.

"I have been going through old Kromag Dynasty reports to see if they ever came across Shiva." Brandywine explained. "Interstingly enough, they had lost a number of worlds to Shiva over the years. They were working on methods to combat or prevent Shiva from entering alternate universes."

"My guess is they didn't?" Miles asked.

Brandywine shook his head. "My research implies they were close to making a major discovery linked to how Shiva slides to other worlds. But their defeat put a stop to their research before they made a breakthrough. I have been gathering all the data I can on their Shiva research, and I believe with your help, I may be able to finish what they started."

"How would we be able to help?" Miles asked. "I'm just an engineer. I know a little bit about sliding from my tinkering, but I'm no expert."

"I don't know what any of this gobbledeegook even means!" Mama Latasha exclaimed as she looked at the blackboard. "That ain't a chicken pot pie recipe! Cookin' and kicking brats in the behind are my two strengths! And unless you need someone's butt to be kicked, I'm not your gal!"

"I'll try to help," WA said, "though I'm a bit rusty. To be honest... there's only one person here who I think knows the science of sliding well enough to help you with this."

Brandywine looked visibly ill when he heard this.

Logan was rubbing her temples in frustration when WA broke the news to her. "You've gotta be kidding me.

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