Brute Force Tobias
Meet the force of nature, himself
Given Name: Tobias Holt Age: 25 Home Region: Outside the Centuryverse Favorite Food: Shopping mall soft pretzels
Originally from the Munich, Germany you and I know, Tobias was transported to the Centuryverse after being recruited by the JGRE. He's loyal to anyone who treats him well, and contrary to his intimidating size (6'5", 260 lbs) he's quite gentle. Well, gentle when he's not on assignment.
When static clear, something is…how you say? Off. I can tell.
I am in station, as was plan, but something about station is different. They say, “Is different world, Tobias. Is like our world, but don’t be fool, Tobias. It will be warm area, so dress light, Tobias.” But people at station were not dressed light. People at station were dressed heavy. I look stupid.
I must be in wrong place, I think. Must be glitch in system. I look for train schedule, to find out where I am.
At this time, I am JGRE enforcer. Dispatch told me I was going to place call “Dallas” to apprehend temporal anomaly. I don’t question. I don’t need to prepare. I dress light, casual, so not…how you say? Suspicion. I take Matter Containment Unit and Chewable Cloaking Capsule. I ask dispatch for the grape flavor and they give me the cherry flavor. Typical. Then dispatch hit me with static. But am not in Dallas; am in place call “Chicago.”
“Scheiße,” I say. I do not know how to get to this Dallas from Chicago. Is different world, you know? Different universe.
“You are in wrong place,” a person say next to me. Forgive my English, he say it better. But I look at him and he have static flitting above his head. He sees me looking at it and he smile. He is from JGRE.
“Ah, yes,” I say to man. “Hallo, friend.” I cross my arm over my chest in customary JGRE salute. “Am supposed to be in place call ‘Dallas’ for S-and-S mission. Can you help me?”
The man look confused, but return salute. “What are your S-and-S orders, soldier?”
I snort. He is funny. I am not soldier, but I let slide. “Standard search and subdue,” I say. “Intel says temporal anomaly will appear in Dallas today. I close rift and secure Anomalous Matter.” The man nod his head.
“Good, good,” he say. “I can send you to Dallas.” He pinch bridge of nose. “Those idiots send you a thousand miles away.”
“What can you do, you know?” I shrug. It nice to have someone from own universe here in strange place.
“Hold your breath,” he say. I know drill. In moment, the static covers my eyes and then is gone. I squint. It is dark here. And hot. The ground move, and I fall on butt.
“Scheiße,” I say for second time. I don’t like curse, but today had been…how do you say? Doozy. I feel pocket to make sure MCU not broken. I sigh relief when I feel it in once piece. When I stand, I get better look at surroundings.
A train car? That make sense. Dispatch told me The Enemy had been using Railroaders to do dirty work. I laugh when I think of word. Railroader. Stupid word.
Train car is dark, but my eyes adjust and I see the chairs of the rocking. Maybe…ein, zwei, drei…fifty of them. I sit in chair and chew cloaking gum. They call fancy “capsule,” but everyone know is gum.
I chew gum. I sit in chair. I do the rocking. I wait.
In all my time working for JGRE, I haven’t seen the explosion like that before. I didn’t know was possible. Every other time, I simple turn on Matter Containment Unit, collect anomatter, radio HQ, and go home for dinner time. But every other time, I was alone. This time, there were the two others. The—how you say? Bumpkin? And the other JGRE man.
But now I am thinking he does not work for JGRE. Who was he? Why he stopped mission?
When static clear, I see plants. Tiny plants, huge plants, fancy plants. Plants everywhere. I’m in hot, humid room of glass. The bumpkin man is next to me, screaming for his mama.
“Hey, man, is okay now,” I try to calm him. I reach for shoulder and he flinch. A butterfly land on his hat. The bumpkin look at me then rub his eyes.
“You do this to me!” he shout in bumpkin voice. “You do this and now Mama gone forever!” He grab his hat and throw it on the ground. The butterfly that was there just float away like nothing happen. “And now where we are?” he ask.
I shrug. “I don’t know,” I say.
“This is butterfly conservatory,” say the JGRE imposter man. He appear in cloud of static.
“Explains butterflies,” I say. Imposter Man laughs. Even though he’s imposter, I can tell I like him. He have kind eyes.
“Forget butterflies,” say Bumpkin, “you two take Mama away!” His face get very red and he stomp feet, like child.
Imposter Man wave hand and send Bumpkin Man away in cloud of static.
“Where you send him?” I ask.
Imposter Man jerk his chin toward other side of building. “To my office,” he say. “He’ll be safe there until he calm down.” I squint ears and can hear pounding on door from direction of office. I laugh, and that make Imposter Man laugh.
“So who are you, JGRE imposter man?”
He explain his name is Shayan Kahree and that he used to work for JGRE, but that he defect. He say Researcher make him sick, trick him into hurting good people, but he won’t do anymore. Shayan met with Stranger Man and they team up.
“I know Stranger Man,” I say. “They say he’s Enemy Number One. They want kill him.”
“Of course they do,” Shayan say. “He try to stop them from taking over multiverse.”
Shayan and Stranger Man steal Static Reality Displacement chip and implant in Shayan. Stranger Man can already control time, for some reason. Together, they working to undo evils Shayan cause while working for Researcher.
“So why stop me from collecting Bumpkin Man’s ghost mama?” I ask.
Shayan let out deep sigh. “Because we calculate it was best chance to keep him safe from JGRE and get you on our side.”
“You want me to quit JGRE?”
He shake head. “We want you to be double agent.”
I like the sound of that.
Working for JGRE is just job. It wasn’t ever goal for me. You know? Somebody recruit me when I beat up thug in alleyway, back in hometown. It was woman with pink hair in lab coat who find me. She say her company need someone with brute strength to take care of bad guys. And I had no family, no work, no money, so I say, sure, why not.
They treat me well at JGRE. I make good money. But after a while, being brute get boring. Capture people. Steal from people. Punch people in face. I ask if I can try sales job, and they say “Shut up and be brute.”
But I’m not just brute. You know? I like nice things. I like the puppies and the kitty cats. I play the piano. I like going to shopping mall for big pretzel. Brute work is just work. But maybe Shayan could give me work where I can be brute for good.
Or maybe sales job.
“I go on one mission for you,” I tell Shayan. “And then I decide if I stay with you or go back to JGRE.” This is—how you say? Bluff.
“Is all I ask,” he say.
“What can I do for you?”
Shayan shift on feet and scratch his nose. “We need you break into JGRE HQ at Research Bay.”
“No need to break,” I say. “l use front door.”
JGRE in this universe called Johnson Group. Is funny because it sound like shampoo company from home universe.
When I get to front gate, I nod at guard and show employee badge. He make scrunchy face.
“Ah, you from Extradimensional Branch,” he say. “Watch out for Spatial Delineation Policy.” The guard man open gate for me. “Check in at the front desk, they’ll help you out.”
I have no clue what “Spatial Delineation Policy” mean. We don’t have that in home universe. Must be new tech. I don’t care: silly policy won’t get in way of mission.
Shayan tell me he and Stranger Man have number of friends who were kidnap by Johnson Group. He say I only need focus on finding two people: tall, Smart Boxing Man and short, Loud Boxing Man. They being kept in parallel realities, but Shayan think finding one will lead to finding other.
Front lobby of Johnson Group is nice. Sleek. Stylish. There are the little pools of water on the floor, with the lily pads and the fishies. The light is low and glow like gold in reflection on shiny black floors. At front desk, I tell the woman cover story Shayan come up with.
“I am here from Universe Delta-823. They send me for brain chip upgrade.”
Woman at desk raise eyebrow then type on keyboard. She hand me device that look like cellphone. On screen is map of lobby. A flashing arrow point to door in back of room.
“Follow arrow,” she say without looking at me. “Arrow will take you to Cognitive Prosthetics Department. If you stray from programmed path, Spatial Delineation Policy activates. Do you understand?”
I nod yes.
She wave hand to shoo me away, and I leave to find door on map. On other side of door is huge, dark, empty hallway. The map flicker and change to show the new room. The arrow point to door near end of hallway, and I start walking. There are doors on my right and left, and all have department name on them. The map want me go to “Cognitive Prosthetics,” but I need to find place where Smart Boxer or Loud Boxer are. Which door is right door?
I pass door to Portal Technologies. I pass door to Climate Technologies. One for Plain Technology, one for “OOP Studies.” I pass cafeteria.
I get the curiosity when I see door for Creature Containment. It is six doors away from where map say I should go, but this sound promising. I remember Shayan say water creatures took Smart Boxer…
Where am I?
I don’t remember how I come to this place.
I am standing in big, dark room. Huge windows line one side. I am holding device I don’t recognize. It look like cellphone, but screen is fuzzy like static. I look for buttons, I poke at screen: nothing happen. I’m not sure, but pretty sure I come here for reason, but I don’t know what.
I feel like… I’m looking for somebody? Maybe two somebodies?
That feel right.
I walk slowly into room, feeling like I’m in wrong place. I get to first window and look at room inside. It is like animal tank at zoo. I see small pond in middle of rocks. I see cucumbers all over tank. And small…human…turtle-thing sleeping in corner.
Next tank is filled with ice. I see penguin bird waddle toward fish flopping on ice. Then white part of penguin bird’s feathers open up like huge mouth, with sharp teeth and slimy tongue, to slurp up fish.
Next tank is hot like desert. I see big swirl of sand in middle of tank, like small tornado. When I tap on glass, tornado look like it turn toward me. It move toward window like it can see me.
None of the tanks have people, just weird creatures, so I look for door to leave.
Where am I?
I am in huge, dark hallway, but I don’t know why I come here. Or how I come here.
I am holding cellphone, but screen is fuzzy. I see nobody else in hallway, but feel like am looking for somebody. Who am I looking for?
“Hello?” I yell down hall. I hear voice echo off shiny black floor. Nobody yell back.
One of the doors say “Cafeteria” on it. Maybe the people all on the lunch break?
I am in big room with lots of people. But I don’t know why am here or how I got here.
The people all wear long, white coats. They sit at short, round tables with trays of food. They talk and laugh and wave hands. Is this cafeteria? I am not hungry. Why come to cafeteria?
I remember I look for someone, but not who. I am thinking… Someone smart?
I look around room and see woman with pink hair sitting at table. She look at me with strange look on face. I wave at her, then she smile and walk to me.
“Tobias Holt, from Universe Delta-823,” she say, shaking my hand. “What pleasant surprise!”
“I’m sorry, Miss,” I say, “I’m having trouble with memory today. Who are you?”
She look at me like I am crazy, then she say, “Would you mind showing me your locator, Tobias?” She look at my pocket. I reach in and am surprise to find cellphone. The screen look broken—is all fuzzy. Pink Hair Lady take phone from me and look at it. “Ah, you trip Spatial Delineation Policy on your way to Cognitive Prosthetics,” she say.
She is smart lady.
She must be one I’m looking for.
“I am sorry,” I say. “I get lost.”
Pink Hair Lady smile. “Is okay, Tobias,” she say. “I help you find way.”