El No, We Won't Go
Copyright© 2010 by Ol'Mac
Sunday 10:50 A. M. E. Van Buren and Wabash
'Not On My Watch, ' was the phrase that kept repeating itself in Mike's head on the return trip to the News Stand.
The Dwarves cloaked that attitude in a war like mien. The Elven Clan cased it in sometimes stilted formality. Clan Faery covered it in Honor and Duty, that made Japanese Samurai look like Libertines. But the underlying thread that ran through all these modes was, 'Not-On-My-Watch'.
The love that had initially bonded Mike to the Elven Clan was still a burning flame in his heart. But added to it was now and forever, 'Not. On. My. Watch'.
Every police officer, soldier, or guard all the way back to the first Cro-Magnon - who had stood in the mouth of his cave while the terrible night descended and yet his family slept on in safety - would have recognized a kindred spirit and called him brother.
When Stan and Rick would meet him later today they would be puzzled at first. But they would recognize it instantly the moment he spoke. Mike would then become, their commander in truth, as well as in name.
The reason for their confusion was completely understandable and totally forgivable, these types of fundamental changes in men normally take place on the battlefields of Earth, where boys are winnowed and the survivors emerge as men in the truest sense of the word, not on the streets of American cities, and certainly not in Grant Park.
Then halfway back to the Stand the GRIN made a re-emergence along with a grimness that had till this time been absent. If Alzor or any of his 'slaves' had been able to see that grin, plus understand the thought behind it, they would have 'immediately packed up the entire circus' and fled to a much safer place... 'any place'. Because, as everyone knows, the best defense is of course, a great offense. The last recorded offense on the Demonic realm had been ... well ... never.
When Gordon Alison Kilian looked into the face of his child, he took great pride in the man looking back at him and said, "If you ever need, or want, to talk about this son. I'll be right here."
"Thanks Dad. It turned out a lot better than I feared. But you know what they say about 'The Best Defense'," replied Mike, as the grin continued to grow and was answered in turn by his Father's -who had understood it perfectly. After all, he'd seen that same grin in the mirror thousands of times.
Especially after his 'all expense paid tour' of Vietnam.
Sunday 5:32 P. M. Grant Park Grove
Mike waited as Stan and Rick walked into the grove then asked Stan to key the portal, saying as he stepped toward it, "You guys need practice working with this tech and this is a great opportunity for it. Let's go, gentlemen." Then stepped through the portal.
As Rick glanced at Stan the thought passed between them with no need for a communication device, 'What in the name of heaven happened to him?'
When they cleared the portal Rick and Stan came to a screeching halt. Spread out before them and nestled in a shallow valley, was what looked like a military campsite. Neat rows of tents were laid out in a pattern surrounding a central square. It reminded Rick of the diagram of a Roman Cohort camp he had seen one time in school.
Stan yelped, "What the... , OK Mike. What is this, and more importantly, what happened to you?"
Turning to them, Mike said, while looking each man in the eye, "That, is the entire Dwarven Clan and a little child playing at 'Commander' almost got all of them killed this morning. But it won't happen again, 'Not On My Watch'.
The 'Yes, Sirs' that answered back to this statement, made Mike grimace a bit, and say, "Not yet gentlemen. I haven't done anything except wake up so far. But the honorific might apply, 'if' the plan I have in mind can be carried out."
Stan said, "So, what's the plan, Sir."
Mike replied with, "Well, it's a work in progress, but it centers around the old adage of what folks use for 'The Best Defense'." As the grin crept back over his face with the new underlying grimness that had not been there before today. It was answered in turn by the fellow soldiers standing before him.
Breaking the mood, Mike said, "OK. Stan have you been working with your shield today?"
Rick snorted out, "Has he ever. The frigging show off. You should have seen him sipping coffee out of thin air with a look that said, "Why yes. I do have my pinkie raised, you uncouth savage."
All the while Stan just grinned.
Stan then added, "Yeah, I seem to have fairly good control over it and can shape it into just about anything I want. But, delicate control is still a bitch. Almost crushed my coffee cup I don't know how many times today."
Laughing grimly, Mike said, "OK, so you know you're going to need lots of practice to refine the 'touch'."
Then Mike said, "OK, let's test for limitations. Right now let's head for that grove, I've got a few other things in mind that I want to test for also."
When they reached the grove, Mike said, while walking away, from both men, "Alright Stan, I want you to shape your shield into a fist, then extend it out about five feet from the end of your arm. When I give the high sign take a swing at me. About eight feet away Mike turned and nodded.
Stan, concentrating on his 'arm', hauled back and swung. There was a swishing sound of displaced air and, as Stan's 'arm' made contact with Mike, a subdued rose colored glow appeared on Mike's upper arm. While Stan felt a mild shock, like a static electric discharge and nothing else. He glanced at Mike saying in a confused and almost plaintive tone, "What the heck? Mike, where was the recoil I was expecting?"
Mike just grinned, and said, "Yeah, that's also a real nice feature of shields, no inertia. You won't feel a thing if something hits your shield, or if your shield hits something unmovable, like mine. Even if you jumped off the Sears Tower and plowed into the street you wouldn't feel a thing. Of course, you'd leave one heck of a pot hole."
"Just to give you an idea of the kind of force you're generating when you're swinging, take a swipe at that tree over there," he said, pointing at a Beech Tree.
Stan nodded, wound up and swung. Again the swish noise was heard and the Beech in question exploded into two separate pieces at about five feet off the ground, splinters flying everywhere. Stan and Rick's eyes got huge, while Stan muttered, "what in the name of ... I didn't hit it that hard."
Mike just grinned grimly again, and said, "You just 'think' you didn't. Nice force multiplier, huh? What you'll find is that you can modify the force applied by using your mind set. You didn't crush your coffee cup today, did you?" Getting the 'no' head shake, Mike continued, "Well, try to visualize this. What you now wield as a tool can be tuned by 'how you think'. You can exert any amount of force, from what is required for the most delicate brain surgery, to -with a ton of practice - just under a Tactical Nuke. Of course, no one has ever tried that one out in the 'Our World' yet. As far as I know, there are no real limitations on speed, distance, or effect."
Then, tapping his forehead with his finger, Mike added, "Gentlemen, the biggest limiting factor to the effective use of these Talents lives right between your ears. What you have to do, is let go of your preconceived notions of what 'is' possible, and then let your imaginations run wild. Of course, you then get to practice until you're blue-in-the-face, but you'd have to do that with anything you set out to master."
"But ... but ... but, you said we were testing for limitations," Rick sputtered.
"No, what I said was, "Let's test for limitations". You guys had to think there were some when we first started otherwise you'd have collapsed under the mind boggling insanity of all this stuff. If I'd walked up to you guys, and said, "Here you go. Have a nice 'Tac-Nuke'. You'd have left poop trails all over the ground.," came Mike's reply, "and by the way, there is a 'reason' we carry this kind of power. If even 'one' of those Demon bastard's gets loose in the Our World, well, the destructive force they can exert will make the 'Hiroshima A-Bomb' look like a 'Firecracker'. Along with corresponding casualty rates too. The first time it dawned on me that this kind of power was being place in my hands I about went catatonic for six hours. To tell you the truth, I think you guys are taking this real well."
The pair of eyes looking back at Mike, just kept getting bigger, while Stan muttered, "Like we're not leaving poop trails now. God help us all."
Hearing this, Mike walked over and said, "I know it's a lot guys. That's one of the main reasons I apologized when I brought you in. The responsibility that goes with these gifts is sometimes beyond belief. But, I know both of you. I also know if anyone can be trusted with this kind of power it's you guys."
"Oh, and we haven't even touched on scanning yet," Mike said with another, lighter, grin.
Bigger eyes seemed to be the uniform of the day. Because Stan and Rick both were dressed 'To-The-Nines' in them.
After Mike had gone over the basics of scanning, the first thing he had them 'scan' for was the portal.
Rick whistled, and then said, "Holy Mackerel, Mike. Could they have put up a... 'Bigger-Neon-Sign'?"
Chuckling, Mike replied, "Yeah it's something, isn't it? First time I saw it this way. I swear I expected to see a line of 'Top hat and Tails' decked out Fairy girls, while 'Chorus Line' played in the background."
"Hmum," murmured Rick.
"Don't even think it you horny old fart," Mike laughed out loud.
"Well, it does make an interesting image Mike and who ya calling old, ya whipper snapper," Rick shot back with a grin.
"OK folks, I've got to get back to the Stand. Now that you guys know where the exit sign is and how to open the door, I'd appreciate you fellas, sticking around here and getting in all the practice you can. Maybe work on tactics using the new tools."