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Bravo Echo Mike

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Chief Stormcloud woke to someone banging on his bedroom door.

"Dammit! We were up past midnight chasing that unidentified plane! What's so urgent you've got to wake me at three in the morning?"

On opening the door, Agents Smith and Estevez were there, looking like they'd just run all the way from the near airfield. Between exhausted breaths, Smith explained "they found one of the pilots. It took four guys to get her into one of the holding cells!"

"She was one tough seniorita," said Estevez. "But as soon as I saw her face, I knew we had to get you as fast as we could."

"Why didn't you just drive here?"

"They're still looking for the other pilot, and needed all of the spare Ironhides to drag their weird-ass plane out of the river. But, Cloudy, you're not going to believe what we saw, unless you come and see for yourself."

"Then it's a good thing we have a couple of Interceptors in the stable. Let's see just what you think is so urgent."

Five minutes later, Stormcloud was looking through the bars of the holding cell,  at a face he hadn't seen since the Hex beasts ravaged the reservation "Running Deer?"

"Since you don't have that disappointed, condescending tone in your voice, I can rule out time travel. So it must be a parallel world." She opened one eye. "No airforce uniform? Definitely a parallel world. Looks like the stories O'Reilly said were true after all. Also, the name isn't Running Deer. It's Thunderwing."

Stormcloud was confused. "What do you mean parallel world, and why do you look and sound like Running Deer?"

"We were running a test flight of an experimental aircraft, and the sky went weird. We guessed either the Bravos fired off a new weapon, we fell through a Sturginium distortion, or the Penguins got their time machine working and O'Reilly shielded me from the changes in the timeline," said Thunderwing.

"Bravos? Penguins?" asked Smith, as she walked in the door. Two more people were dragging something heavy behind her. "Care to explain the robot pilot?" 

"I see you still haven't found O'Reilly," said Thunderwing. "If she's ditched her armour, you're not going to find her until she wants you to."

"Armour? That's clearly got machinery all through it."

"Looks like you're going to need a bit of background knowledge, so you know what you're dealing with," said Thunderwing. "Firstly, do you have anything equivalent to the Covenant of Antarctica in this world? In my world, they started off as a benevolent collection of scientists, who founded their own nation, so they could research some artefacts they found without external interference. About three years ago, they accidentally tripped some defence mechanism while exploring ruins in Sudan, and we've been dealing with Things appearing around a number of ancient sites ever since. The Britannian troops that first encountered them called them Bug-Eyed Monsters."

"Okay. Penguins are your term for the Covenant, and Bravo is radio chatter for 'B.' So that's your Bug-eyed Monsters. That still doesn't explain O'Reilly," said Smith.

"She turned up about two years ago," said Thunderwing. "Apparently, there was an accident with something called an experimental efftee yell drive, and she ended up in my world. She's not human. She's rarely been seen outside of her armour, after some Penguin merc made a derogatory comment about going back to tending flowers, and swatted her to the ground. The scientists he was escorting got to witness an unforgettable demonstration of a particle beam rifle a few seconds later. I still don't know how someone six inches tall could lift that thing, let alone fly with it."

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Artificer Captain Hikaru O'Reilly watched from her hiding place, as half a dozen men tried to recover her exo-armour that she had  deliberately entangled in a briar patch. Sure, it could stop a .50cal round, but it was 19th century "technology" and had the same stealth capabilities as a Thanksgiving Day parade. On top of that, the battery packs that powered it drain way too fast, and were almost dead. The only disadvantages to ditching the armour was being six inches tall, and resembling a fairy.

Another parallel world,  she thought. At this rate I should just write "Hikaru's Isekai Travel Guide" (although the one with the giant, transforming, robots was pretty sweet). However, from the paradox fissures I'm sensing, it looks like this reality was the result of a Wells-type time machine being used around the time of the test flight.

Even though watching the soldiers trying to extricate the armour was entertaining, there was work to do.  Hikaru had already stashed her particle beam rifle near the driveshaft of the glorified farm utility vehicle the squad arrived in. The chances of them finding it there will be highly unlikely, and if anyone does spot it, everyone will think she has smuggled herself into the airbase, to break out Thunderwing.

Whether the rifle is found, or not, if Thunderwing spots the armour being transferred to where they're keeping her, she knows to tell the story of what happened to that Covenant moron that swatted me out of the sky. That will send search parties back this way, to try to find myself or the rifle. While that is happening, I'll be investigating power station 3, just outside the nearby township.  

She quietly took to the sky, and keeping close to the treeline, made her way towards town. 

If I'm lucky, my original, 25th century, exo-armour will have finished its auto-repair sequences. That FTL inversion, combined with the reentry impact, did so much damage, two years might not have been long enough. Because the systems had to go into standalone mode, to speed up repairs, I have to physically go to the armour myself. If I'm unlucky, the timeline change happened before the temporal shields reinitialised, and I'm about to walk into a paradox rift.

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