Part 1- Qbit: Chapter 2- A Natural Certain Affinity

A Natural Certain Affinity

{Chapter 2388 of the Book of Keepers}

Tau and Qbit were waiting in a small clearing hidden in a secluded part of Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington State.

Qbit, wearing a brand new red, long sleeve flannel shirt and matching red wool cap, sat cross legged on the forest floor with his back against a red alder.

A couple of feet away, Tau was reclining on a pile of boulders large enough to allow his feet to dangle and not touch the ground. He was swinging them back and forth, enjoying the seclusion.

It annoyed him that the squirrel, sitting on a branch of a pine tree to his right, was still there. For some reason he didn’t trust that squirrel. He wasn’t sure why but, he just didn’t trust it.

The problem was, even after firing several rocks into the branch it was sitting on, it was still there, watching him. Any other squirrel would have been long gone.

He picked up another rock from the pile of them sitting in a neat row next to him. Placed it between his thumb and pointer finger, then flicked it towards the squirrel. The rock, which left his fingers at a high rate of speed, imbedded itself in the branch next to the other five he had already flicked.

Still, it never flinched. He was beginning to wonder if the squirrel was real or a sophisticated drone.

Tau said to the squirrel, “One last time.”  He looked down at his rock pile and grabbed another. When he looked up again to aim, a second squirrel had joined the first.

He dropped his arm. Normally, a couple of squirrels sitting on a tree branch were nothing to worry about but, these two didn’t appear to be your run-of-the-mill tree-dwelling rodents.

He jumped from the boulders and hit the ground with a thud that echoed through the forest.

As he made his way over a couple of larger boulders he yelled to Q, “Hey Paul Bunyan!”

Qbit’s head came up slowly.

“They better get here soon because I’m not too sure about this place anymore.” He glanced back at the squirrels then rested his hand on a large rock and deftly jumped off, landing a few feet from Qbit. “I’m hope this meeting won’t turn into some sort of mistake.”

Qbit uncrossed his legs, rolled to one side then pushed himself up into a standing position. “Remember, it is said that the only man who never makes a mistake is the one who never does anything.” 

Tau raised a finger into the air and replied, “Ah, yes, this is true. However, please also remember that safety first is safety always.”

Qbit gently lifted a small inch worm from his pant leg and placed it on a leaf. “Well said, my metallic friend.” He stretched then added, “So, how about we give them five more minutes…”

Before he had a chance to finish, a loud crashing noise came from the edge of the forest.

About fifty yards away and heading straight for them at full speed was a Sasquatch. Tau judged it to be about ten feet tall with long, thick legs and long powerful arms.

It was holding someone under its arm.

The ape-like creature leapt over fallen logs and twisted and turned through the trees like a running back avoiding tackles.

When the great beast was about twenty yards out, it threw its male passenger into the air, rolled under a fallen tree, popped back up and caught him before he hit the ground.

All without ever breaking stride.

Qbit, impressed, said, “You don’t see that every day.”

Tau replied, “No, no you don’t”

Qbit put up his hand to block the sun. “That looks like Teddy Roosevelt?”

“Nah, way too hairy.”

“No, not the Bigfoot, I mean the person.”

Tau shifted a little to the right, “Ya know, I think you’re right…” He paused for a second then added, “What do you think Teddy Roosevelt is doing under the arm of a Bigfoot?”

“I’m not sure but considering what he’s going through, he doesn’t seem to be to upset about it,” commented Qbit.

“He certainly looks that way.” The Bigfoot leapt over a fruiting Huckleberry bush. “Perhaps he’s unconscious.”

“Or worse, he could be, you know…”

“Dead?”

Qbit stepped to the side to try and get out of the sun. “Well, yeah.”

Tau looked at Qbit. “But isn’t Teddy Roosevelt already dead?”

Qbit turned to Tau. “I hadn’t looked at it that way.” He looked back toward the fleet footed Bigfoot. “I guess we can ask him ourselves.”

They both took a step back as the muscular biped slid to an abrupt stop directly in front of them.

It lowered the president to the ground, standing him upright and facing the both of them.

Teddy’s oval Pince Nez eyeglasses were slightly askew.

While standing behind him, the Sasquatch took hold of Mr. Roosevelt’s head with both hands, then violently twisted it once to the right then yanked it straight up.

It unceremoniously dropped it to the ground, then grabbed the body by the shoulders and wiggled and twisted it until, with a slight popping noise, the upper torso became separated from the lower. It tossed that next to the head then took a step back to face Qbit and Tau.

The giant mammal put its hand to its mouth, cleared its throat then said, “Hey.”

Qbit and Tau said in unison, “Hey.”

A slight movement pulled their attention back down to what was left of the twenty-sixth president. Surprisingly enough, Teddy’s lower half remained standing, perfectly balanced on his well-worn Chukka boots.

Like out some sort of weird sci-fy movie, two small hands slowly appeared from the top of the right leg. They crept back and forth along the waistline until they found the belt, undid it, then unzipped the fly.

The pants dropped, stopping at the knees, revealing a metal framework and…

 …a small woman.

She pulled herself out of the leg and lowered herself to the forest floor. She was dressed in a beautiful white evening gown and a smart pair of emerald-colored flats.

Qbit recognized her immediately. “Ah, Mrs. Privet, a pleasure, as always.” He bent down on one knee to give her a hug. “We were wondering how you were going to arrive.” He peered into the left leg and asked, “No Mr. Privet today?”

Mrs. Privet ran her hands over her dress in a desperate attempt to smooth out some of the wrinkles. “We thought it best if he stayed back with the others just in case we ran into any trouble.” Looking around she asked, “Where’s Tau?”

Tau took a step forward. “Right here Mrs. P.”

She swung her head towards Tau’s voice, looked way up and said, “Oh, there you are! Wonderful! My, my, you seem to get taller every time I see you!”

“Must be a growth spurt.” He bent on one knee, took her hand in his then pressed the back of hers against the place where his mouth would be if he had one.

She blushed slightly. “Always the gentleman.”

He stood and said, “From the looks of that dress, Mrs. P, I’d say you’ve been out on the town.”

Mrs. Privet pulled her long gray hair into a ponytail and tied it with a scrunchie she had wrapped around her wrist. “Exactly!  I was having a delightful time but unfortunately it ended a little too soon I’m afraid.”

The Bigfoot cleared its throat and shuffled its feet.

“Ah, how rude of me.” Mrs. Privet stepped over to stand next to it. She stood on her toes to take a hold of its hand within both of hers. Turning to face Q and Tau she continued, “This is Shandiin.”

Shandiin raised her other hand.

Qbit put a finger to his lips and tapped them. “Shandiin. I know that name. By any chance, are your parents Lofa and Shampe from the Oregon area?”

With a hint of shyness she replied, “Yep, that’s them.”

“Wow, what a small world! When I last saw them, you were tiny, about this high.”

Qbit put his hand down to demonstrate how tiny she was when he noticed his hand was at the same level as Mrs. Privet’s head. He also noticed the look on her face.

“Oops, did I say tiny? I meant…”

Mrs. Privet shook her head. “You’d better stop now Q, or you’ll only make it worse. Besides, we have something more important to deal with.

Qbit looked concerned. “What’s happened?”

“Chad has Kulkukan*.”

Kulkukan, his mate Cera and their offspring are all Red Dragons. Yes, Kulkukan was the dragon in the previous post.

Tau stepped up next to Qbit. “Uh oh, that’s not good.”

“No, it isn’t.”

Qbit asked, “How did it happen?”

Mrs. Privet put her hands on her hips. “Sergeant Becca and her bot, Athena had just gotten Cera and her baby through the gate* and were about to get Kulkukan through when several of Chad’s people suddenly appeared from out of another gate.”

*Gates are located at each end of a Thread. A Thread allows instantaneous travel between two points. Qbit will explain in greater detail in the next post.

Tau said, “Chad’s people? That’s even worse.”

Qbit raised an eyebrow. “Wait a minute, you said another gate. Isn’t there’s only one gate at that beach.”

Mrs. Privet shook her head no. “So, we thought. What’s worse is that it’s not on any of our maps.”

Tau added, “If it’s not on any map how’d they find it?”

Mrs. Privet reached into Teddy’s left leg. “One of them dropped this.” She handed him a small electronic tablet. “It looks like a normal gate locater but this one seems to be able to recognize gates we had no idea existed. Invisible gates I guess you could call them.”

Tau looked it over then handed it back to her. “How did you know it was Chad’s people?”

“We recognized his right-hand man Ryan on the video Athena was able to transmit before they disabled her with an EMP and hit Sergeant Becca and Kulkukan with tranquilizer darts.”

“Is Becca alright?” asked Qbit.

“She’s unhurt but I’m afraid Athena is permanently disabled. Poor Becca thinks it’s all her fault. As soon as she was cleared by the doctor, she entered a gate and hasn’t been heard from since.”

Qbit looked down for a second and sighed. “I don’t like the sound of that.” He looked back at Mrs. Privet. “You’ve got no idea where she is?”

“We have people looking but I’m afraid there’s still been no contact with her.”

“Has anybody checked the lab where Athena was created? She might have headed back there.”

“Hm, I think it closed a long time ago but that’s still a good idea. When I get back to the house, I’ll send someone over.”

 Tau added, “Do you have any idea where Ryan’s taken Kulkukan?”

“They loaded Kulkukan into a steel crate then disappeared back into the gate and we think they’ve taken him to Barentz Dome*.”

* A natural ice dome formed on the dark side of another planet. More on that later in the story.

Qbit was surprised. “To the dome? Really? I thought Chad had cleared all his people and their equipment out of there after they finished relocating his stolen animals and failed cloning experiments there.”

“That’s what we all thought, but now we’re getting info from some of the inhabitants of the planet that indicates Chad’s been flying people back in. They were probably getting things ready for Kulkukan’s arrival.”

Tau asked, “What about Cera? How’s she handling this?”

Cera and the baby are with Mr. P., however she’s ready to go and do something herself about finding Kulkukan. I’ve been able to convince her to wait but I don’t know how long she will.”

Tau whistled and said, “I bet she’s furious.”

“She is and if she won’t stay with Mr. P. for much longer. I have a feeling you may run into her sooner than later.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Qbit paced back and forth. “We’ve got to get him out of there. Who knows what Chad’s going to try and do with him?” A thought suddenly came to him. He raised a finger. “You know, this might end up being a good thing.”

Mrs. Privet put the gate tablet back into the leg. “I don’t think I follow your thinking Q. How can this be good?

“I ‘m thinking this might be a good opportunity to test the new Keeper’s abilities.”

Mrs. Privet thought about that for a minute. “I don’t know, it sounds far too dangerous. We don’t even have all of them together yet. Besides, Kulkukan can be very stubborn, especially when he’s angry.”

“Is Sŭchō available? Maybe she can help?”

“Hm, I don’t know about that. The last time I talked to her she was very adamant about being and staying retired.” She grew silent as she ran some scenarios through her head. “Let me work on that. Meanwhile, let’s move up our schedule on getting the Keepers to Arcadia. Tau, you get started on getting everything set up in Miami.”

Tau straightened up and threw her a salute. “Aye, aye Captain.”

“Q, I need you to go help Professor Birshtein. She got word out that Chad has moved up the schedule for the evacuation of his island compound. She’s going to need your help.”

Qbit suddenly grew very concerned. “Is she in danger? Is she hurt? What happened?”

Tau let out a laugh. “Qbit and the professor sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g.”

Qbit shook his head. “Real mature Tau. It’s not like that.”

“Oh, no? Then why is your face all red?”

Qbit put a hand up to his cheek. “Is not!”

“Is too!” replied Tau.

Mrs. Privet stepped between them. “Boys, boys, cut it out.” She turned to Qbit. “She helped me create you, Q, it’s only natural for you to have an affinity for her.”

He put his hands on his hips and said to Tau, “See, I have a natural ‘certain affinity’ for her.

“More like un-natural.”

“That’s enough Tau,” scolded Mrs. P.

“Yes, Ma’am. Besides I think I should get going.”

As he stepped past Qbit, he gave him a playful push. Qbit tried to push him back, but Tau quickly ducked away. As he turned, he happened to look up and notice that a third squirrel had joined the other two. He stopped and turned back to Mrs. Privet. “You may want to wrap this meeting up. We seemed to have collected some suspicious looking visitors.” He motioned toward the squirrels with his head.

Mrs. Privet casually glanced up. “I see what you mean…Shandiin honey, how about we start reassembling Mr. Roosevelt and be on our way.”

As Shandiin helped her back into the leg, Mrs. P turned her head toward Qbit. “Now listen Q, it’s very important that you and Professor Birshtein get out safely. Whatever you do, don’t get caught.”

Qbit picked up Teddy’s head and handed it to Shandiin then waved his hand in the air. “Pfft, that would never happen in a million years.”

The Book Of Keepers: Chapter 2389

Your Mustache is Drooping

The guard working the evening shift at Chad’s Animal Retrieval and Cloning Facility shoved Qbit through the cell door then slammed it closed. He turned, grabbed the bars with both hands and said, “I believe I get a phone call.”

Ignoring his question, she locked the door with a push-button code, then said, “Your mustache is drooping.”

Qbit put his hand to his upper lip. “So it is, thank you.” He tried to re-stick it, but it refused to cooperate.

“Don’t mention it.” She turned and left the detention room through the same door she had just escorted him in through.

Qbit listened to the tone of each button as she locked it from the outside. He turned and noticed a single bench along the back wall. He slumped down onto it and said, “Mrs. Privet is going to kill me.”

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