Title: Murphyonic Field Dynamics
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Summary: In my defense, at the time I had no way of knowing just which bit of the mortal world lay across the dimensional walls from any given point in the Nevernever. 1500 words.
Prompt: 24 Days of Ficmas, Day 10: For polgara. Prompt: Dresden Files/Eureka, "Harry suddenly finds himself in the middle of GD amid all sorts of sensitive electronic equipment".
In my defense, at the time I had no way of knowing just which bit of the mortal world lay across the dimensional walls from any given point in the Nevernever.
I'd entered it at random from the mortal side from time to time when the need was dire, but I tried to exit only on one of the known paths. The topography over there is nothing like it is on our side; whenever I see someone demonstrate the science fiction concepts of subspace travel or wormholes by folding two separated points together on a napkin, I think of Faerie, and wonder just how the geeks would react if they knew how long their 'theories' had been in general practice.
But I digress. The point is, there's no knowing where a wizard might end up when exiting the Nevernever at random. It could be five blocks from your entry point; it could be halfway across the planet. I have a sneaking suspicion it may actually be possible to travel to other planets from there, if you know exactly where to go; I know there are Native American legends about canoes among the stars, but if they're true, Injun Joe isn't telling. Maybe one day I'll find out- when there are no monsters left to fight in my city, or friends to defend. So, probably never.
There's kind of an underlying sense to the way physical places project into the Nevernever, though, based on their history and emotional associations. Places that have seen a lot of trauma and despair will attract predatory shades and horrific imagery; sites of long-standing haunts will warp to match the spirit who resides there; and an island hosting a wellspring of dark power might share metaphysical territory with a bit of Faerie where even a member of the Senior Council would fear to tread.
So when I stumbled across a faintly glowing curved golden line into a realm full of straight, soaring lines, reflective surfaces, orderly paths, and bright light in the midst of my flight from an unexpectedly vicious Faerie foe, I naturally figured whatever was on the other side must be a place of human order. The colors were bright, the flowers lining the paths were large and outsized, and the strangely shaped Fae insects buzzed happily around shrubs and soaring edifices alike, so it probably didn't represent a soul-sucking locale like a prison or office building. Regardless, I figured it was the best shot I had to survive. I could practically feel the warmth of the saber-toothed tentacula's breath lapping at my heels.
There was no time to dither. I bolted down one of the paths, careful not to approach the flowers that bordered them in case they were carnivorous traps- I'd seen that kind of thing before. Then I sucked in a deeper breath as I ran, slashed my staff through the air in front of me, and cast: "Apartum!"
The fabric of the world parted in front of me in a long, ragged tear, just big enough for me to fit through. I still wasn't good enough at portals to get the gorgeous walk-into-a-window effect I'd seen the youngest of the Summer Queens create, but I didn't need pretty; I needed quick. I dashed through it, hit the ground running, stubbed my toe on something I couldn't see yet, and stumbled; but even as I fell I turned and slashed my staff at the air behind me to close the aperture again. There was no sense letting my pursuer follow through behind me; then we'd just end up repeating our chase in even more unknown territory.
I had about two seconds to catch a glimpse of the new scenery around me from my position sprawled on my back on a polished concrete floor before the portal finished sealing itself shut. Then the left-over magic- plenty of it, since I hadn't been very precise in my spellwork in my haste- exploded in a shower of sparks cascading through every piece of the machinery around me.
"Oops," I muttered, wincing.
"What the hell was that?" an annoyed voice called from somewhere off to my right in the suddenly darkened space.
It was a lab, I had been able to tell that much. Hopefully not in a hospital- though I'd have expected a few more ghosts and a little less sparkly cleanliness on the Nevernever side if that were the case. There'd been racks of blinking lights and smooth black cases and lit-up screens all around me, merrily whirring away before my unexpected arrival had put them out of commission.
"I'm not sure, Dr. Stark," a female voice replied, baffled. "The experiment seemed to be working- we were seeing the expected luminescence in the air from the vibrations of the p-brane- but then a man suddenly appeared, and everything shorted out."
There was a brief, appalled silence while I breathed, ignoring the pain in toe and wrenched knee as I tried to shuffle quietly toward where I remembered the nearest door to be.
"You are not seriously suggesting that our prototype fifth dimensional space folding communication system somehow created a human being out of thin air, I hope," Annoyed Senior Scientist- aka Dr. Stark- replied. Then he made a disgusted noise. "Anyone's phone still work? Someone get out into the hall and call Sheriff Carter; tell him we need him up here right away. Anyone here from security? A flashlight would be really useful right about now."
I had just about reached the wall at that point, the sounds of my movements helpfully obscured by the scuffling of the likewise vision-deprived lab coat wearers elsewhere in the room. I'd been worried I might run into one who'd chosen to quietly wait his ground rather than do the normal human thing and panic, but I'd been lucky thus far.
Of course, that was exactly when the emergency lighting finally chose to snap on, painting the room in reddish tones like an anteroom of Hell. All focus in the lab shifted my way inside of five seconds. Not nearly enough time to flee.
I levered my six and three quarter foot height back upright as the lone suit-wearer in the room approached, since there was no further tactical benefit from remaining on the floor. Never mind how badly my knee ached; it was better for my ego. Dr. Stark wore a neat beard and strode commandingly through the room, as though he was used to being the lord of all he surveyed- and he looked distinctly nonplused at having to look up to me. I take my victories where I can.
"Just who the hell do you think you are?" he blustered at me.
I put on my best foe-baiting smile, leaning my weight on the staff to take some of the pressure off my throbbing joints. I was still sweating a little from the long run across the Nevernever, and my leather trench coat wasn't helping me cool down at all, but I'd at least had a chance to catch my breath. "I think I'm Harry Dresden," I told him cheerfully, "but I could be wrong. How about you?"
Stark's tanned face flushed a shade or two darker in irritation as he answered. "I'm Dr. Nathan Stark, and I run this facility. Don't try my patience. Who do you work for, and how did you appear in the secure Global Dynamics communications laboratory?"
Global Dynamics? I'd never heard of the place, but at least he spoke English- and with an American accent, no less. I was still somewhere in my home country, thank goodness. And as soon as they took me somewhere away from the patch of Nevernever where an angry minion of Summer waited to devour me, I could effect my own escape.
"Would you believe it was an accident?" I asked, innocently.
Stark glared at me a moment, then shook his head, expression shifting to rueful amusement. "Carter's going to have fun dealing with you," he said. Then he turned and waved forward a pair of personnel who'd just entered the room, each with those solid clubs disguised as flashlights hanging from their belts. "Take him to the holding cell until the Sheriff arrives. Check him for weapons, too."
There went my handgun. Ah well; I'd lost and replaced plenty of them over the years. They were a lot easier to get my hands on than a new staff, and I'd certainly got my use out of each one of them.
As they led me away, I idly wondered what my odds were of getting out of my little mishap without Murphy finding out about it. Slim to none, I figured- but a guy can always hope.
That's the way it goes in this business. Sometimes the wizard rescues the damsel in a flash of mighty power- and sometimes the damsel taps her heel in annoyance while she waits for someone to process his bail.
Fortunately, I wouldn't have it any other way.