The Encounter at Duluth’s Bluff
Nala arrived overland on a personal light jet, setting down at the point where one of the uncounted ley lines coming out of the Sky-Blue Republic crossed with another that intersected it. This point stood atop a ring of hills that shadowed the ruined harbor below, a complex of stone and steel that once stood proud as the Old World’s largest freshwater port. In those ruins, far in the distance, arose a series of alien towers—the surface presence of a Bug Hive—and about those towers a consistent screen of specks revealed Flyers fluttering about.
“Yancy said that they maintained a regular combat air patrol.” Nala thought, “If I hadn’t put down here, I probably would have been detected.”
No longer needing his personal jet, he deresolved it out of existence and rejoined what were the joysticks into a single baton. Through his helmet, he enhanced the sight before him as if he were one of those old-timers that still used binoculars or telescopes and examined the hive below. In addition to the Flyers in the sky, Nala now noticed a large number of other Bugs of various sorts: workers, guards, sentries and more. He observed the Bugs clearing out the remaining ruins as if they mined a quarry, not caring one whit for what they destroyed in service to their own ends- or any hapless creatures that they encountered.
“This looks to be worse than I heard.” Nala thought, and he resolved a palm-sized sphere-like thing into existence. Holding it forth, he scanned the scene below.
“Masters, we need to move on this now.” Nala said, “By the time you receive this message, I will have the anchor point erected and resolved. I recommend a special team. End of Line.”
Nala waived the sphere off and, under its own power, it dove into the ley line and disappeared- heading back to the Sky-Blue Republic at the speed of light. Then Nala pulled out his baton, and then drew a second from a boot sheath. Separating each one into halves, he used them as anchors to some as-yet invisible tent; he touched one side in a swift, slicing motion and then waited for it to resolve into existence- to solidify into a single thing. After a long, anxious moment—Nala had to watch for any sign that the Bugs knew he was there—it finished and before him stood a gateway arch.
Some moments later, the interior of the gateway illuminated itself. In a rapid sequence, one after the next, four others appeared and approached Nala. They, like he, were young members of the order that served the Sky-Blue Republic.
“Special Team 1 reporting as called.”
Nala smiled. “Welcome to Duluth’s Bluff, brothers.”