The entire base was on alert. They were weakened, trapped and expecting an attack at any moment. The Golems staying relatively still was messing with their nerves. When would they move?
Sirvanna was in the cafeteria with Ines, Yuni and Alexa playing a game of cards when Jenny approached them.
“Can I speak with you?” she asked, a serious look on her face.
“Sure,” Sirvanna said. She put her cards on the table. “Deal me out for a while.”
The two walked in silence for a while. It was Sirvanna who finally spoke. “Is this about Anastasia? If there’s something I can do…”
“No,” Jenny said. “Callie has that well in hand. I need your advice.”
“Zhao,” Jenny said.
“Relationship trouble again?” Sirvanna asked. “Ines is really better with that kind of situation than I am.”
“It’s not our relationship, really,” Jenny said. “I’m worried about her. Lately she spends all her time locked in her workshop. Whenever I stop by she welcomes me in, but she covers whatever she’s working on with a tarp and seems distracted the entire time I’m there. I’m worried that she’s going to do something stupid.”
“It could very well be something dangerous,” Sirvanna said. “But you don’t want to say anything to Naoko because you don’t want to over-react or get her into trouble, right?” Jenny nodded. “I understand. I’ll go to her workshop and find out what she’s doing.”
“You won’t hurt her?” Jenny asked. “No, no, of course you won’t. Thank you.”
It didn’t take Sirvanna long to reach Zhao’s workshop. She rapped on the door. She listened to the sounds of things being hurriedly moved. After a couple minutes the door opened. She hurried inside.
“Sirvanna?” Zhao asked. “What are you doing in Zhao’s space? Did Naoko send you?”
“I came to check what you’re doing,” Sirvanna said. She walked over to the tarp and pulled it off. The device underneath looked like a miniature launchpad with gadgets hanging overhead and a control panel. “What is this?”
“Sirvanna doesn’t need to know,” Zhao said. “Zhao’s work is super top secret. Sirvanna needs to go and forget what she saw.”
“Not happening,” Sirvanna said. “I know for a fact that Naoko doesn’t know what you’re up to. In fact, no one seems to know. But you will tell me.”
“Is Sirvanna trying to bully Zhao?” Zhao asked. She’d crossed her arms and was trying to stare down the larger woman.
“I’m not bullying you,” Sirvanna said. “I’m concerned that your mad scientist shtik could blow up part of the base or worse. That’s why you’re going to reassure me that it’s not dangerous. Otherwise…” Sirvanna held up her left hand, a ball of crimson lightning formed in it. She pointed it towards the device.
“Wait!” Zhao cried. “Zhao will tell Sirvanna.” She ran between Sirvanna and the machine. “This is Zhao’s time machine. Zhao is going to use it to go back in time and rescue Professor.”
“Wait, what?” Sirvanna asked. “A time machine?”
“Yes,” Zhao said. “Zhao was just putting the final touches on it.”
“That’s insane!” Sirvanna yelled. “Wouldn’t changing the past create some kind of paradox that would cause severe damage to the present?”
“Zhao knows temporal mechanics better than Sirvanna,” Zhao said. “Zhao’s machine will work!”
“I can’t let you use that,” Sirvanna said. “I don’t want to hurt you, but you have to be stopped. Just… just follow me. You can talk to Naoko and we can have this dismantled before it causes real damage.”
“It will work!” Zhao cried. “Watch! Zhao will open a quick portal and show Sirvanna!” Before Sirvanna could stop her, Zhao manipulated some controls and switched the machine on. A brilliant Onyx sphere appeared. It stabilised quickly. “See?” Zhao asked. That was when the portal started pulling things in. Sirvanna tried to find something to hold onto.
“Oops,” Zhao said. “Zhao forgot. The tuning wasn’t quite done. She hurriedly switched the machine back off. “Is Sirvanna…” she looked around the workshop. Sirvanna was nowhere to be seen. “Zhao is not going to like explaining this,” Zhao muttered.