Dr. Snip Ch. 13bydrsnip©
Stefan, one of Steve's alternate selves from a parallel dimension had just captured Steve and Alison. The trap had been meant for Stephen, the third alternate version of Steve. However Steve had come home before Stephen, and had been gassed by Stefan's booby trap.
Stefan couldn't understand why anyone would try and kill him without reason. He didn't know that Stephen mistook him for a rogue Storm trooper, and thought he was acting in self-defence by making a pre-emptive strike against him.
In all fairness Stefan did look like a British Storm trooper. He wore black titanium armour, with a black tinted visor and Stephen had first seen him in suspicious circumstances.
Stephen had attacked Stefan twice and had been beaten twice. Understandably Stefan was well pissed off by this, and had decided to capture this aggressive person and interrogate him as to what the fuck was his problem.
As the ultimate human killer, trained and conditioned to survive in a deadly version of Earth, Stefan was very observant indeed. His life often depended on identifying whether a plant was relatively harmless or a killer, by the subtle shadings on its foliage. In his world relatively harmless just meant that it would take a bit longer for you to die.
He had seen that this man and woman were not responsible for the attacks on him. The main piece of evidence was hanging at Stefan's waist; it was unbeknownst to him, the legendary sword Excalibur. He had taken it off his attacker during the last skirmish. However this man who could have been his attackers twin, still had his sword.
Stefan had disarmed him before tying him up securely, as they slept their drugged sleep. He hadn't dared tie up the woman. Alison was the first woman Stefan had seen in this world, and she disturbed him greatly. His society was a matriarchy, one where the women made all the major decisions.
They were worshipped by the men; as the source of life; and the whole purpose of humanity's survival. Each of the home bunkers of his world had its own Queen. Her function was to rule wisely, and produce children from the best warriors available to her.
This engendered immense completion amongst the men of the bunker, ensuring that only the fastest and bravest of the male part of the human race contributed to the gene pool. The women had their own secret means to decide which of them was fit enough to be a Queen. Stefan didn't know what they were, and was too scared to ask.
The home bunker's Queen was the ultimate authority on all matters, and had the power to sentence anyone to banishment. On his world banishment was just a polite word for death. Stefan was the Alpha male of his home bunker, but if he were ever banished he would die without the logistical support of his home bunker. No matter how good a shot you were, your ammunition would eventually run out and you would die.
His only hope would be to make it to the next bunker, and challenge it's Alpha male in a fight to the death. All in all it paid to keep the Queen happy in all things. Therefore Stefan was understandably nervous in the presence of this woman. He didn't know her status or place in this society; he was more concerned about her than he was about the male.
Alison woke up on the floor with her head resting on Steve's coat. Stefan had placed it under her head to make her as comfortable as he could. 'Are you OK?' he asked her as soon as he saw she was awake. Alison looked up at the tall armoured figure and said the first thing that popped into her bemused head. 'I'm thirsty.'
To her amazement the man almost ran to the sink and brought her back a glass of water. He knelt down beside her and helped her drink some of it. Stefan's visor was raised, and she could see his face clearly as she gulped down the water. 'You look just like Steve,' she said smiling up at him in gratitude for the water. The gas had knocked her out so fast that she didn't yet realise that she was a prisoner.
Stefan saw the first stirring of fear wash over her beautiful face, and hastened to reassure her. 'Have no fear lady, I will not harm you in any way,' he said comfortingly. Despite the situation Alison believed him implicitly and visibly relaxed.
Steve who had also regained conciseness had witnessed this interchange and was understandably confused as to what the fuck was going on here. His first inclination to snarl at this being was overruled by his reason.
He decided a polite approach might gain him more of an advantage. Steve could tell instantly that this wasn't the rogue Storm trooper. He could see why Stephen had mistaken this person for one because of the similarities of the armour and dark visor. However the rogue Storm trooper wouldn't have given Alison a drink of water.
Steve cleared his throat and addressed the strange figure. 'Hi there, my name is Steve, and this lady is Alison, who are you and why have you captured me in my own home?' Stefan was impressed with Steve's demeanour, there was no trace of fear in his voice and Stefan appreciated politeness.
What Stefan didn't know was that simply removing Steve's QT device had little effect, as long as it was within range of his body and Merlin's ability to activate it remotely. Steve could have jumped both himself and Alison out at any time since he regained consciousness.
Stefan realised he was a stranger in a strange land, and didn't want to have to keep looking over his shoulder for the next attack, therefore he decided to reply in kind.
'Greetings Lady Alison and Steve, my name is Stefan, Alpha male of home bunker 37. I apologise for trapping you like this, but I have been attacked twice by someone who would be identical to you were it not for the fact that you do not have a scar on your face.'
'Ah, that sounds like my twin Stephen; I think that he believes you to be a rogue Storm trooper. If you were to untie me, then I could quickly correct this misunderstanding.' 'Forgive me for being cautious Steve, but until I am convinced that you pose me no threat then it's best that you stay on the floor,' replied Stefan coolly.
'Understood, Stefan, but could Alison please be allowed to sit on the chair, she is pregnant,' said Steve. Alison squealed in shock and surprise, as Stefan's armoured helmet slammed against the floor as he made obeisance to a pregnant woman. 'Please forgive me Lady Alison I didn't know,' he said apologetically banging his head against the floor in remorse.
In his world women were many times more valuable than men, a pregnant woman was priceless. The entire male population of a home bunker would sacrifice their lives to protect a pregnant woman. The females of his society had programmed his abject abasement into him from birth.
'Please stop that Stefan,' asked Alison once she had got over the shock of seeing this scary armoured figure abasing himself before her. 'At your command Lady,' he said and stood up to help her into a chair. Steve would have found this funny, if he hadn't still been tied up on the floor. Alison was a very clever woman, and decided to take a chance.
'Stefan, you have my word that Steve won't hurt you, please release him,' she stated calmly. 'At your command Lady' replied Stefan, and kneeling down beside Steve quickly untied him. Steve had a good look at Stefan's face as he did this, and noticed that he looked very similar to Stephen down to the scar on his face.
However where Stephen was fresh faced and young looking, Stefan had the face of a much older man. Constant battle and worry during his dangerous life, had given him far more lines than either Stephen or Steve. 'Let me guess Stefan, you used your QT to dimension jump,' hazarded Steve. He could see from the puzzled look on the man's face, that he hadn't a clue what Steve was talking about.
'How did you get here to our world Stefan?' he asked outright. 'I have no idea, I was thrust into this soft world without warning,' he replied. 'I was hunting for food when a strange distortion in the air sucked me into this place. I have no idea why or how this has happened to me. I would be grateful if you could get me back home as soon as possible.'
Steve stood up and brushed himself down as he gathered his thoughts. 'Could you excuse me for a minute please Stefan, I have to communicate with an old friend. He will know what to do about this situation.' Stefan stood and watched as Steve sat down at the kitchen table and closed his eyes.
'Merlin old friend, are you there?' asked Steve out loud so Alison and Stefan could have some idea of what was going on. 'Yes old friend,' replied a disembodied voice. Steve could clearly see the image of an old wizard sitting at the table, but that was due entirely to his implant. Alison and Stefan could see nothing, but Merlin caused Steve's implant to act as a loudspeaker so they could at least hear him.
Merlin was the World Brain of the 26th Century, a super powerful AI that had evolved from the massive computing power of the futures interconnected computers. For reasons of its own it had befriended Steve and had helped him many times. In return Steve had performed various tasks for Merlin. As far as a disembodied entity could be a friend to a human, Merlin was Steve's friend.
Steve had heeded Merlin's warning not to push the phase shift function of the QT device to such a point that he could jump dimensions. Stephen had ignored his version of Merlin and deliberately jumped through the dimensional wall that separated their dimensions, and had appeared in this one. Steve didn't know how Stefan could have got here without a QT device.
Merlin enlightened him, ' It appears that the dimensions are similar to soap bubbles clustered together, each separate dimension is held together by a form of surface tension. By Stephen bursting through into this dimension he had inadvertently weakened Stefan's dimensional wall, and Stefan had been thrust through.' 'But why Stefan, he appears to be yet another version of me?' asked Steve.
'The answer to that question is that I have no idea, all this is just theory based upon the available data,' admitted Merlin honestly. 'Can you send him back?' 'Not without a QT, and there would be no way of knowing which dimension he went to,' answered the AI.
Steve looked at Stefan and said, 'I feel that I should apologise for my dimensional twin Stephen. He seems to inadvertently have caused a lot of bother to you Stefan, and I honestly don't see how we can make it up to you,' said Steve frankly. Stefan considered his response to this news; if he were brutally honest he would have to admit that he wasn't overly devastated to hear that he might never have to go back to his own world.
Being an intelligent person, he could see that the main problem he would have in this world would be a lack of purpose. He was bred, trained and conditioned, to kill, and it seemed that there was nothing on this world worth killing. While Stefan pondered, Steve called up Stephen on his implant.
Stephen was just coming out of Dr. Young's surgery where his torn muscles had been repaired. Steve explained the situation to Stephen, and was relieved when his twin believed him and even offered to come and apologise to Stefan. Steve was surprised at how relieved he was that Stephen was being so reasonable about this. He was a bit uneasy about his twin, and realised that there was something frightening about Stephen.
Stefan was kneeling on the floor looking with pleasure at Alison. She was a beautiful woman, and he rarely had the chance to feast his eyes on a woman, let alone a beautiful one. Since the uncontrolled spread of genetically modified vegetables and animal's generations ago on his world, humanity had been fighting a losing battle for survival.
The increased radiation levels had not only twisted the already altered genes of his world's plants and animals, but also had inexplicably changed the birth ratio of humanity. Ninety percent of all births were male, those rare female births were fraught with complications, and few female babies survived their first few weeks of life. Rarity gave value, and women became the most precious commodity on the planet.
The majority of the human race was also starved to death, by a variation of simple bindweed. This flourished and as its seeds were airborne it spread across the world, destroying the cereal crops of the world within a few generations. As if that wasn't bad enough a variation of the Venus flytrap spread across the globe, this plant grew to a height of 6 feet and could snap up an unwary child or any animal the size of a dog.
Humanity did what it always did in the face of adversity. Countries declared war on each other for food and women. By Stefan's time the situation had stabilised, the remnants of humanity had retreated into hardened bunkers and had adopted the hive system of the Ants and Bees.
The caste system had re-evolved, there was one Queen, attended by her handmaidens, a contingent of soldiers, and the rest of the males were workers. Every male was born a worker, and was allocated a task suitable to his abilities. Any male could apply to be a soldier on his eighteenth birthday. The rewards were great, but the down side was that if the applicant didn't make the grade, he was either killed in training or banished to the jungle that surrounded each Home bunker.
When there were too many mouths to feed, the Queen could either cull the population of the weak and stupid, or set up another Home bunker. She would choose from her handmaidens a girl who was strong and clever. This girl also had to be very fertile as she had the responsibility of increasing the human race. The handmaidens would be impregnated by the best of the workers, but the Queen would only allow the best of the warriors to mate with her.
The chosen handmaiden would be given all the help the home bunker could afford, to set up her own bunker. After one year she was expected to be self sufficient, and so humanity spread little by little. Stefan by his complete dedication to the home bunker; had become a soldier by choice.
He had completed his training without being killed, although his scar had come from his training years. He was blessed with naturally fast reflexes and soon rose to the position of second soldier to the Queen. This allowed him to challenge the then Alpha male, if he survived a year as second.
His Queen Fern forbade these contests to be to the death. She needed all her soldiers, and couldn't afford to lose her best soldiers in some testosterone driven contest. Her word was law, and the Alpha male was chosen after a series of tests to determine which of them was the strongest, fastest and most intelligent. Stefan had won the contest and was Alpha male for at least one year, until he too was challenged.
He had been privileged to mate with Queen Fern, and miracle of miracles he had fathered a girl child who appeared to be thriving. Stefan didn't just love Fern; he absolutely adored and worshipped her. She was his sun and moon and seeing Alison sitting there pregnant reminded him that he might have lost Fern forever.
Alison saw the sadness on his face, and by dint of compassionate questioning persuaded Stefan to tell her of his life in his world. Kneeling in front of her telling his story of blood and death he reminded Alison of a knight of the round table. Her heart went out to him, lost in a strange world without any friends or family.
Steve wanted to know why Stefan's version of Earth was so different from this one. 'You mentioned an increase in background radiation, I can understand the Solar flares because we experienced those as well many years ago, but they didn't affect us so drastically. Where did all this radiation come from in your version of Earth?'
Stefan looked at Steve as if he was retarded, ' The radiation was caused by the War of course. This happened before I was born, so I don't know all the details. You would have to ask the Queen about things like that. Two big countries fought a war and used Atomic weapons on each other.
Apart from killing millions of people, these weapons were apparently very dirty, whatever that means. By the time the war was over, clouds of radiation had covered the globe and poisoned the water tables.
Within a few generations, mutations were appearing in the plant and animal kingdom. The worst consequence of this war was the affect it had on our birth rate. Most of the few viable births are male, females are very rare on my world and so are valued immensely.'
'We must help Stefan,' Alison said to Steve when he had finished talking to Merlin. 'Surely you can think of something Stefan can do in our world Steve.' Steve had indeed thought of a suitable job for Stefan, if he was interested. Britain of the 26th Century had a small army, a very small army. It was probably the smallest army ever to exist in the world.
It consisted of only ten soldiers, the feared British Storm Troopers. Each Trooper was effectively a robot with a human brain. They were virtually indestructible, and very good at killing anyone that the government wanted dead. The government kept the number of these Storm troopers to ten for a very good reason. They were frightened to make more than this; if the Storm troopers ever thought to rebel they would be almost impossible to stop.
However of these ten precious soldiers, one had to be spared to guard the King of Britain. Steve was considering asking the King if he would consider giving Stefan the job of Royal bodyguard thereby freeing up another Storm trooper for the army. He would ask the King when he met him at his elevation to the peerage, which was due very soon.
In the meantime he needed a cup of tea, and something to eat. Stefan was astounded when he saw Alison happily cooking up a big dinner for them all. Steve was capable of simple cooking, but he left the real cooking to Alison. Soon they were all tucking into hot food washed down by tea.
In order to eat comfortably and as a show of trust in his new associates, Stefan removed his helmet. He blushed when Alison remarked to Steve how good looking Stefan was, and how the women of the Kings court would want to get to know a real man instead of a humanoid robot. The only sex that a Storm trooper could have was virtual.
After dinner Steve couldn't wait to jump them all to meet Angel and Stephen in the 26th Century. He had explained to Stefan about his QT device, and Stefan was suitably impressed at the power it gave the owner. Steve was extremely impressed that Stefan had survived two attacks by someone using a QT.
When asked how Stefan could draw his guns so fast, Stefan stood up and as if by magic his guns were pointed at Steve's chest. Steve hadn't seen him draw them, but there were two rock steady laser dots on his chest. As fast as he had drawn his guns they were reholstered.
'Wow, fuck me backwards Stefan, I have never seen such speed. I think that you are even faster than Omega, the King's bodyguard,' said Steve. A proud Stefan delighted in telling Alison about his suit and its capabilities, and showed her the memory cables that enabled such a blindingly fast draw. On impulse, Alison leaned over and kissed Stefan on his scarred cheek.
The result of this compassionate gesture on her part, was unexpected to say the least. Stefan jumped back in shock and stared wonderingly at Alison. Then he fell to his knees in front of her and taking her hand kissed it saying 'Yours unto death my Lady Alison.' 'Oh fuck me Ali, what have you done now?' Steve breathed softly. 'Why thank you brave knight,' she said flattered by this attention.
Stefan's heart was full of joy; he now had a place in this society as the protector of the Lady Alison. He would kill without hesitation, anyone who posed her a threat. Neither Alison nor Steve realised what had just happened, but they could both see that Stefan was suddenly a happier man.