Skin-Deep part 3 [final]

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Literature Text

Light Warnings: this 3 part fan fiction is based on two stories that sometimes contain mature themes, but does not feature them itself. Does contain subtle safe-vore and a small amount of strong language.

Gerbils were not meant for riding, even if one happened to be less than three inches tall.

That was the primary thought going through Louis’ mind as he held onto the furry mass as best he could, as it ran through the field of enormous alfalfa. Will sat behind him, his arms wrapped around Louis for dear life. If a gerbil wasn’t even meant for one rider, it certainly wasn’t meant for two!

A severed hand ran up beside them, Tip sat unceremoniously on the stump of the wrist, clutching the bone that rose out of the ink black flesh.

“I think we lost them!” shouted Tip.

A loud screeching came from behind them.

“Spoke to soon Dr. Wilkin! But it’s no problem, our destination is not far ahead!” said the gerbil.

They had met Arthur Narbon that morning, he had been Tip’s contact who said could help them get back home. While he had appeared human at the time, it turned out he was just as weird as the rest of them. Instead of explaining, Artie just handed them a business card.  “Yes, I currently look human. It’s strictly so I don’t lose my keys. I am a rodent-derived transgenic created by a mad scientist hopped up on pink wine and Pixy Stix.” The back side read “I also have biochemically enhanced posthuman intelligence.”

“With all this brainpower, I suppose you have a plan to get us back to our dimension?” asked Louis.

“I do. And it involves your very special ability Agent Patriarch.”

“Great” grumbled Louis.

That was how they ended up in the middle of nowhere, shrunk, and running for their lives from god knows what. Actually. Artie knew exactly what, Ur-Gerbils; vicious mutant gerbils the size of great danes. They guarded the land around the laboratory they were trying to break into. The main entrance was too well protected, so Artie was taking them to a secret entrance.

Unity had wanted to come too, but Louis was unsure about shrinking more than three people, including himself. Still, she found a way. Handy was skittering nimbly across the field, even if it couldn’t see or hear, not by any conventional means.

Eventually they stopped. Artie stopped so fast that Louis and Will nearly flew off his back.  Handy soon arrived with the traumatized Dr. Wilkin. His outfit was covered in unsettling black splotches.

Handy was sent off, with instructions to lead the Ur-Gerbils away from them.

“Where is this, secret entrance?” asked Louis, sliding off Artie’s back after Will.

“It should be right here,” said Artie, shifting some grass to reveal what looked like the entrance to a bomb shelter, but the perfect size for someone shrunken.  

The rodent-man opened the hatch. Cold air rushed out, moist and smelling of mold.
There were metal rungs on one side that disappeared into the darkness below.

Artie quickly explained the next part of the plan: He would enter first, as he was less likely to trigger a trap or alarm, followed by Tip and Will. Louis would be last because he had the enhanced low-light vision.

As the plan was being explained, Louis sort of stood off to the side, not wanting to look down the passageway. Trying not to think about how confining it would be, but he still shook a bit. Will was at a lost for how to comfort him. Dr. Wilkin seemed to notice something was up as well.

“Agent Patriarch!” he said confidently, “It is your mission and duty to get back to your reality, and you’re not going to let claustrophobia stop you.”

To Will’s astonishment, and then frustration, that worked, at least enough to get Louis to follow them in and close the entrance. He wanted more than ever to return to his universe, and away from Tip.

Once they reached the flat surface of the floor, Will and Tip took out small red flashlights. The light reflected off metal walls, but did not reach far into the darkness, they were mostly so Will and Tip didn’t bump into things. It was also too dim to set off Louis’ size change, or as Artie had said “the wavelength that corresponds with dark red is the longest, and so the lowest energy, of all the visible wavelengths and shouldn’t trigger any response.” They were lucky that he had been right.

Artie’s brilliant plan was compromised when they encountered the first Tau Cannons.

They heard it before they saw it, a whirring sort of sound like something charging up. Will and Tip scanned the area with the flashlights and spotted the weapons, two of them, mounted to the ceiling. The ends of the barrels were glowing slightly, getting brighter with each second, and pointed straight at them.

These cannons were pointing at Artie, who was skittering down the hallway.  There was an intersection at the end of it. The three humans followed him, taking care not to be in line of sight of the cannons. They were still glowing brighter.

Louis slipped on his sunglasses, but Will had a feeling that whatever discharged from the cannons would be so bright that the shades wouldn’t be enough. There wasn’t enough time to voice his concern to Louis, so when the whirring stopped he just turned and grabbed Louis, who was so surprised that he couldn’t react, and put him into a hold, shielding the blond agent’s eyes with his hand.

The next second the cannons went off, a blaze of light as bright as a sun and a terrible sound like lightning filled the passage. Will, whose eyes were completely unprotected, when momentarily blind. When he released Louis, Will had to be led quickly around the corner of the intersection before the cannons recharged.

“What were those!?” asked Will, when his ears stopped ringing. His voice echoed around, hollowly.

“Tau Cannons,” said Tip quietly.

“That’s not an answer,” said Louis.

“They vaporize their targets,” said Artie.

Louis was still not satisfied. “Why are they here? You said this entrance was unprotected. It’s like someone was expecting infiltration by shrunken agents!”

“I said it was impossible to use the front entrance, but I suspected this one might still be tricky.”

“So we might run into more of those?” voiced Will.

“Next time we’ll be ready,” said Tip, drawing and loading his pistol.

Will and Louis took out theirs as well.

“I think I should have both guns,” Will said to Louis, who responded with an angry look, “You’ll be to busy covering your eyes to shoot, and the flash of the gun might be too much.” Louis conceded and handed over the weapon.

Tau canons weren’t the only things hidden in the darkness, the place was almost littered with different security systems. Most of them could be dealt with easily by shooting them while others were more difficult.

Will should have found it exciting; this was a real James Bond adventure, if it wasn’t for Tip. It was Dr. Wilkin who figured out how to disable, or navigate most of the traps.

Except for one, which instead nearly caused him to have a mental breakdown.
It wasn’t a particularly scary trap, since it was poorly designed. It was supposed to be spiked walls that close in, but someone had been overzealous and made it ALL the walls move in, which meant none of them could.

This still left them surrounded by the spikes, which Artie suspected were coated in poison. The only way out though, was to climb up the spikes. It took ten minutes to persuade Tip to rip the already ruined dress so they could wrap the fabric around their hands. The man looked like he was going to cry during the whole thing.

Artie and Louis went first, taking the flashlights with them so they could shine the light down for Will and Tip. The moment Artie and Louis got out though, the sound of charging Tau Cannons could be heard.

“I’ll distract the cannons, you help them get out!” Artie told Louis, and ran.

Louis crawled to the edge of the trap and pointed one of the flashlights down. He had his eyes covered with his other hand.

“You guys need to move quickly,” said Louis.

The passageway lit up above them as the cannons went off. Immediately they began charging again.  This encouraged the two agents to move faster.

Will was pulling himself over the edge when what he saw nearly made him let go. There was a cannon aimed right at Louis, who, with his eyes covered, could not see it.

“Louis! There’s a cannon pointed at you!” he yelled.

“Shit!” said Louis, who started moving away, using the wall to guide himself.

But he wasn’t moving fast enough and the cannon was about to fire.  Will, now completely free, reached for his gun, but couldn’t hold it with his hands wrapped in fabric. There was no time, he charged forward and shoved Louis out of the line of fire.

“What are you doing fanboy!?” cried Louis.

The cannon’s deadly beam hit Will instead. His screams were louder than the cannon’s discharge.

Once his eyes adjusted, Tip took care of the cannons before they could fire again, and then ran to where Louis was. There was a lot of smoke, and Will couldn’t bee seen.

“He saved your life,” said Tip.
Louis said nothing.

Artie appeared beside them.

“I found the exit!” he said, then “What happened!?”

But he really didn’t need to be told.

“We need to go. We need to get you back. There will be people who need to know what happened,” said Tip.

He was right. Louis knew he was, but he didn’t even think he could explain what happened. Still, he resigned himself to follow Artie.

They were about to turn a corner, and Louis took one last glance back. The smoke cleared, but there was no pile of ash on the floor, but what was unmistakably a body. Louis ran back. It was Will, and he was still breathing. Somehow, the beam had not vaporized him, just knocked him unconscious. If he had been someone inclined to jump with excitement he would have.

“This is amazing!” said Artie, as he and Tip joined Louis. “Must be another benefit of the shrinking process! We should investigate this further!”

Louis gave him a death stare.

“Or, we could get you both back home.”

- - - -

Will began to regain consciousness after they entered the lab. He opened his eyes and saw Louis, sunglasses on, leaning against some lab equipment.

“Are you ok?” he asked, and then laughed.

“Idiot! You could have died!” said Louis, but he was smiling too.

“Yeah, why am I not dead?” Will asked next, trying to get up. His head pounded and he gave up.

“A question that unfortunately might never be answered,” came a loud, deep, voice.

It was Artie, human again, Tip on his shoulder. They were looking down at where the two rested on the lab bench. In Artie’s hands was an egg shaped device.

“This is what will get you home,” he explained, placing it on the table. It beeped, panels on it’s sides flashing colors and symbols.  

“What is it?” asked Will.

“Prototype time machine,” said Artie, then, before anyone could ask more, “It works by syphoning energy from other universes, but I’ve modified it to send energy instead. When Louis’s eyes are exposed to light, you will become energy and be sent to your universe!”

“That sounds completely impossible,” said Louis. “How can we be sure it will send us to our world?”

“Do you want me to explain? It might take a few days,” said Artie.

“No,” said Louis. “What do I have to do?”

“Just make sure you’re in contact with the time machine and Will when you change size, the machine will do the rest.”

Louis was still unsure, even once they were ready, with one arm around will, the other on the device. His eyes were shut tight, sunglasses in his pocket.

“Ready?” asked Louis.

“No, but that doesn’t matter,” said Will.

Louis opened his eyes.

Artie and Tip watched as they disappeared in a flash.

“Artie?” said Tip, realizing something.



- - - -

It had worked. Will and Louis had transported back to their universe. It had been a shock, ending up in a sewer, but it was not hard to find the way out. They were able to get back to civilization and phone Watch HQ.

When they got back they were greeted by Cetz and Rachel.

“Why do I have a feeling I’m in for a very interesting debriefing?” said Cetz.

“You have no idea,” said Will, “We’re still not sure how we got back.”

“Good thing you did,” said Rachel, “You’re just in time for your next test!”

The scientist was not smiling, there was no glint of excitement in her eyes that was usually present when it was test day. This concerned  Louis greatly. It worried Will too, even though he had started to look forward to the tests.

"Next test?" they said in near unison.

Rachel was looking more frustrated by the second when she answered "That's right, the next test."

"Which is?" Will inquired.  

"Tell me where the hell my BT-10 is!"

Will realized that he would have to explain, because Louis didn't know, he hadn't seen. But that didn't make what Louis said, as they followed Rachel and Cetz to the debriefing room, any less accurate.

"I think we're gonna fail this test, fanboy."

EDIT 1/29/14: added epilogue provided by Peachnewt herself! 

This time I am sure OOC'd  something from both stories. (FOR SCIENCE!?). Writing emotional stuff is hard!
I made a comic for this part: (well, some of this part)

This fanfiction is a crossover between :iconpeachnewt:'s prose story Getting in Deep and the webcomic Skin-Horse
Because both are about really strange things happening to secret agents, explained with SCIENCE! They are action packed and often hilarious. 

I really don't own anything in this. Everything and everyone belongs either to Shaenon K Garrity and Jeffery C Wells, or Peachnewt.


© 2013 - 2022 Tuiteyfruity
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Kamellion's avatar
Most excellently done, Tuitey! ^^ ((I've read this before, but I couldn't remember if I'd commented on it or not.))
A fitting end for a wonderful story.