Phyllis Esposito: Interdimensional Private-Eye #236

Henricks opened the interdimensional trash-chute and I got busy sending those microscopic monsters into oblivion. It was a good thing that I’d seen first-hand how dangerous they could be, because as I sent them down the cosmic storm-drain, all I thought about was cool stuff I could do if I kept them.

Rebuild the damaged parts of my city? Heal the sick? Give everybody in the world their own personal food replicator? Hell, why stop at world-singular? I could take these things on the road!

And the only downside was the not-insignificant risk that I would lose control of them and end all life as we know it.

Yeah.

Just like when Faux-lurian had pulled all of the nanobots out of my home city, ridding this slice of them was a time-consuming process. But as I sifted through the ruins, the nanobots served up one last surprise.

Even when I’d had trillions of electronic eyes all over the city, I’d avoided looking too close at the ruins of my old high-rise. The last time I’d been there, the building had still been standing.

And a friend had been in it.

So I steeled myself with the idea that I would give him a proper resting place, but then I couldn’t find a body, or remains of any kind.

I queried the nanobots, verifying that they had not just consumed him. They had not, and they could not find a trace of him anywhere in the city. I was just about to ask Henricks and Fox for help when I found something.

Or rather, I found nothing.

There was a spot in the rubble where the nanobots couldn’t sense anything. I don’t mean that they sensed a space, I mean that they sensed nothing. It was a bit like discovering a secret room by realizing that another room was smaller than it should be.

I had the nanobots clear everything else away from the spot, revealing a black sphere, about eight-feet in diameter. Then, as soon as it was free from obstructions, it popped, revealing a seven-foot man with a three-day growth of beard and a deep scowl.

“Avo!” I cried.

As he told it later, Eddie had given him some kind of slow-time bubble, for use in emergencies. It had protected him from the collapsing building, and had kept him alive in the weeks since.

From his perspective, however, he’d had a trying couple of days to say the least; trapped in a bubble, not sure if he would ever get out.

I told him about everything that had happened since he pushed me through that portal. Somehow, under his withering glare, it felt like a series of weak excuses.

He took in the entire story without changing expression.

No, I take that back. When I demonstrated my near god-like control of the nanobots, he raised one eyebrow a little.

“Anyway,” I finished, “I’m glad you’re alive?” I offered an awkward shrug and grimace.

He nodded. “Fine,” he said. “I would like to eat something and get a change of clothes now.”

“Of course!” I managed a nervous chuckle. “Um… Do you want me to… Make them with the nanobots?”

After a significant pause, during which his eyes noticeably widened, he shook his head. “I’ll wait,” he said.

“Sure,” I agreed. “Just need to finish this and we’ll get you back to Eddie, and then you’ll never have to see me again.”

He shook his head. “Eddie didn’t come for me. You did.”

I felt my cheeks flush. “Yeah, well,” I mumbled. “That doesn’t mean I own you or anything.”

“No,” he said. “But it means something.”

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