Chapter 13 - The Crossing

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Picard looked Doug up and down. "Are you our Virgil, sir?"

"Excuse me?" Doug asked.

"I know what he means," Yi'Imspi sneered. "Virgil guided Dante through hell."

"Oh. Sort of, I suppose. But the Mirror Universe, difficult as it is, it is not hell."

"You sound like someone who has been there. To hell, I mean," said M'Belle.

"One could say that. It's not a separate place," Doug explained. "But I'm not at liberty to tell you much about it. And we've got certain fish to fry that aren't those."

"Don't mention fish around us felinoids," M'Belle joked a little. "Is there an afterlife for Caitians as well, do you know?"

"There's an afterworld for everyone."

"Good to know," she replied.

Calafans strolled by, mostly silver. They generally ignored the six of them. Throughout, Marty and Mack held hands. "I'm glad you're with me," he murmured to her.

"Same here. Makes this easier to deal with. It's so strange." She paused for a second. "Uh, Doug? Grandpa? Um, what should we call you?"

"Doug is fine."

"Are we invisible or something?"

"It's me; I kind of am. I only show myself to those I want to see me."

"Oh, um, okay."

They took a turn and suddenly everything turned dark. The Calafans in the neighborhood were all coppery, and the population seemed sparse. It felt, to Mack, as if she was walking in a bad neighborhood. For just a second, she remembered how she'd been arrested. It had been an open air market on Keto-Enol but the day was ending. And someone had slipped drugs into her bag – the harsh, expensive, often deadly high called etrotherium – street name: fugu.

"Let's be careful," Picard cautioned. "One could turn an ankle."

"It's because of our eyes in the Mirror," Doug explained. "We have a Y Chromosome Skew whereby close to three-quarters of all births are males. And we have extreme photosensitivity. I suppressed my photosensitivity as well as I could when I crossed over. I wanted to fit in and I didn't want Lili or Melissa to have to worry about me in that way."

M'Belle, like any cat on Earth, had no trouble making her way. "It feels almost as if this area is a place for prey to be hunted by predators."

"I suppose you could say that," Doug affirmed. "What do you think?" he asked, turning to Yi'Imspi.

"I think I want to be done with you." She took off like a shot, running, with an athlete's grace and speed.

But M'Belle was also an athlete, as was Mack. They ran after her, even though it was noticeably darker and Mack could barely see anything. Picard was right – she could injure herself – maybe – if she wasn't careful. But would it really be a real injury in her dream? Silently, she thanked Lili for the warning that Yi'Imspi would run.

She was faster than M'Belle, even in the dark, turning on the base stealing speed she'd been known for when she played shortstop and occasional second base on the Titan Bluebirds. With the ground or floor virtually ebony black, she had to trust her instincts and relied on muscle memory – how she had taken out occasional catchers during a play at the plate. Mack hadn't been 100% above spiking an opponent back in the day, if she could get away with it. And so, in the nearly pitch-black anteroom to the Mirror Universe, she slid, with imaginary spikes up, straight into the ankles and calves of the fleeing Yi'Imspi.

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