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“Clear your mind of everything, just like we practiced - that’s it, very good. Now, concentrate on the other side. Feel yourself slipping through the barriers - you can do this Alex. You’re the only one who can do this, and you have to get across before they come after you.”
“I can’t do it dad.”
“You can, Alexandra. My friend will meet you there. He’s going to protect you.”
Alex was hyperventilating as she stood in the half destroyed lab, the sounds of gunfire somewhere down the hall. Her father, bleeding from his temple, stood in front of her, looking wild as he tried to force her to cross. She couldn’t focus. He grabbed her shoulders, smoothing back her hair with a shaking hand as the building shook around them.
“Alex, you have to do this. Keep yourself safe, whatever you do. Don’t worry about me. Richard will help you.”
“I can’t.” She said weakly, trying to calm herself down, but her body wouldn’t cooperate. Why did it have to be her? Couldn’t she be normal and make some other person be the important one they were after.
Alex finally gave a small nod and her father backed away. She lifted her arms to stretch out on either side of her, clearing her mind of everything except the thought of moving to the other side. She inhaled sharply, felt herself slipping through just as the door to the lab burst open -
- she collapsed hard on the broken and busted up floor next to an overturned metal table. She thought that she had awakened her in her father’s destroyed lab, but there was a layer of dust on everything, so she assumed that this disaster had been here for a while.
Coughing and close to puking, she forced herself up, but a hand slowly eased her back down. She instantly went on alert.
“Hey, hey, hey. Calm down. My name is Richard Evans, and I’m here to help you, Miss. Blake.”
She coughed again, finally spying the man who was now hovering over her. Black hair to match her own, and oddly colored eyes, he was looking at her in concern. His hand pressed against her forehead as her coughing fit ended.
“You’re okay. You’re safe for now, but we need to get you out of here.”
The next thing she knew he had lifted her up into his arms as she tried to regain focus. Traveling across made her disoriented - it’d happened in all the practice runs, but now that she had experienced the real thing, it made it so much worse.
He carried her out of the lab and into the hall she had just run down with her father not ten minutes ago. Except this hall was filled with dust too - no one had been in the area for years.
“What happened to my father’s company?” She managed to get out, inhaling several times to catch her breath. He gently set her back on her own two feet, glancing up and down the corridors that shot off the hall in several directions. It was silent in the halls except for the sound of their hurried footsteps and Richard’s voice as it echoed.
“He died a while back and his company went with him.” He replied.
He had a hold of her arm and was escorting her through the halls. Down a flight of steps and she recognized the familiar back hall that led to the loading bays. Richard led her through a door and out into heat - she blinked against the harsh light of the sun, her eyes trying to get used to it.
“Where are we going?”
“For right now? My apartment. I’ve got to make a few calls and you’ll be safer there than out in the open.” He continued as they jogged down another flight of steps - a single sleek black SUV was parked on the curb at the back of the building and he ushered her toward it. She climbed in the passenger’s side as he leapt into the driver’s seat. She barely had time to tug on her seatbelt before he took off.
The city around her was familiar, at least, to some extent. Everything was backwards, opposite, in its own way. Buildings that existed on her side were empty lots on this side, and vice versa.
“Was that your first time through?” Richard asked suddenly and Alex looked over at him, his hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly that his knuckles had turned white.
“Yeah. I’ve only ever done practice runs in dad’s labs.” She muttered, turning her attention back ahead out of the windshield.
“You’re only one I know of who can actually go through by yourself without the help of one of those stupid machines - and even then half the people that attempt to use those die.”
“You understand why they’re after you, then?”
She rolled her eyes, folding her arms across her chest, feeling much better now, but trying to comprehend what was going on.
“I’ve known since I was a six year old what they want with me. It’s just now that they’ve decided to come claim me.” She said curtly. “My father told you why they wanted me, didn’t they?”
“You might have to explain it to me from your perspective, but otherwise, yes, I understand enough.”
They pulled into one of the fancier looking apartment buildings. Richard turned the car off and jumped out - she followed. He took her by the arm again, hurrying her inside and up the stairs, not even bothering with the elevator. At the third floor they stopped and he pulled her into one of the doors, shutting and locking it behind him.
They’d stepped into his apartment, obviously - it was modern, perfectly clean, yet somewhat homely. Large windows were opened to thy cityscape - Richard drew the curtains across them before she could get a good look at the view.
“Sorry, precautions.” He replied, noticing her odd look. “You hungry?”
“Uh, not really. Thanks.” She stood there in the center of the room quite awkwardly. She was more exhausted than anything - traveling between the worlds pulled all her energy from her. But she was too worried at that moment to really think about sleeping. She was sure If she closed her eyes anyway, the nightmares would come back.
“Your father sent you across, correct?”
“Yes. To keep me safe.”
“I’m afraid not even this side is safe anymore - rips in the barrier are appearing. My job is to fix them - I work for a special branch of the FBI that technically isn’t supposed to exist. We follow the orders of the government and go out to fix the rips in the barrier separating the two worlds, and study the two sides when we’re not fixing them.”
Alex nodded, rubbing her temple for a moment, her mind trying to wrap around it all. Richard seemed to be speaking in a hurry - he could calm down now. After all, they’d be safe for a while if they laid low and didn’t attract any attention to themselves that the Chameleons could detect them with. Alex inhaled sharply, clearing her mind again.