Phyllis Esposito: Interdimensional Private-Eye #222

The briefcase portal generator was not programmed to destruct after a single use. Instead, it was programmed to do anything we told it to for intra-slice portals. If we tried to use it to leave the slice in an unauthorized way, however, it would spoof the destination and dump us back in the containment cell.

Not a bad trick, but it turns out that it is hard to keep technical secrets from a nanomancer and a genius portal engineer.

I drilled a microscopic tunnel into the briefcase interior and then used an array of nanobots to display the contents, just like sports fans in a stadium. With Henricks’ direction, we had the security features of the portal generator unlocked in no time.

Once we had unsupervised control, we did exactly what we had promised to do in the first place. After all, we weren’t looking to screw anybody over, we just didn’t want to give up the ability to set our own terms.

I won’t bore you with the blow-by-blow, but Henricks and I used the portal to leapfrog across the landscape, retracing our steps and recovering all of the little “seeds” that Faux-lurian had spread on our first journey to see the Sorceress.

It wasn’t even as hard as we had expected. Henricks had worried that Faux-lurian had acted as a mobile cloud of spores, constantly spreading nanobots to the winds. In retrospect, the idea that he had been literal minded shouldn’t have been such a surprise. Over the course of our journey, he had been leaving small pods of dormant nanobots; “seeds”, awaiting his command to sprout.

Instead, I commanded them to dig themselves out and clump together for collection. At first, I absorbed them, but after a couple dozen bundles, I started to be concerned about gaining mass. After that, I had them form into a backpack, gradually filling with more of their brethren.

In that way, we hopped across the countryside, un-planting seeds, like Johnny Appleseed in reverse.

Henricks and I were active participants in this little scavenger hunt, but Ms. Moon just tagged along.

She’d been keeping to herself since the Sorceress left. Not catatonic or anything; just quiet.

I understood. We didn’t exactly have a lot for her to do. She wasn’t able to help Henricks and I build a portal generator. She didn’t know any of the people back at the Taskforce headquarters, and she couldn’t help to search for the rogue nanobots either. We could have dropped her off somewhere, but she didn’t ask and I didn’t offer. Where would she go?

My impression was that she was trying to decide, and having a rough go of it. I asked a couple of times if she was okay and got single-word replies. Maybe she didn’t want to talk where the Sorceress could listen, or maybe she just didn’t have anything to say to me. In any event, I had important stuff to do, and figured she would speak up if she needed anything.

I didn’t really want to think about where she would go next, because then I might have to ask myself the same question.


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