Seamus the gnome awoke under the full moon, finding himself alive and well. He felt himself up and down for cracks or chips. He felt nothing at first, but noticed that the arm with which he was feeling was sore and stiff, and realised that it had been glued back on.
“Feckin’ terrific,” he said. “Sure and it’s a hardware store here. Ye’d think there would be better glue.”
“Oh, that’s bloody gratitude.”
Seamus looked up to see Wellsey lounging against a shelving unit full of trellises, and munching on a sandwich.
“We had a man down and a destroyed AA gun that was looking like it was going to set fire to the Pavilion,” Wellsey said. “I figured you wouldn’t bleed out while I found some superglue and a clamp.”
“Now, I ain’t criticising ye for yer tardiness, I’m criticising ye for yer choice of materials,” Seamus said. “Look at this arm! Sure and I’m a single man, I needs me right arm working.”
“Well, the glue said ‘suitable for ceramics,” Wellsey said. “Besides, your pants are made of glazed pottery, Seamus O’Consolodatedshanghaipotteryworks. You can’t even open the fly.”
“Tried, have ye?” Seamus said with a leer.
Wellsey just shook his head and went on eating his sandwich.
“So how come they have ye on alone, this time?”
“I’m not on alone. Laura is here. She’s just outside with Bruce and Buck. Looked like Buck was delivering exposition, so I didn’t want to interrupt them.”
“Exposition. Dat’s important.”
“Not always interesting, but.”
“True, but dat don’t mean it’s not important.”
Seamus looked around at his plants, and wished Wellsey hadn’t been there. He wanted to check them, ensure they were adequately cared for and watered. It was his chosen task in life. True, he hadn’t had many options to choose from. Basically, it had been this or fishing, really, and he didn’t have a fishing pole.
Actually, now that he came to think of it, his vocation had chosen him. But that was probably okay.
“So how’s your war goin, then’?”
“Awkward. Really awkward. How do yer expect a war between hardware centres to go? We’re just not cut out for armed combat.”
Seamus sneered. He often did. The curved lip his sculptor had given him to accommodate his pipe helped.
“Ye feckin’ blatherskites,” he said. “If you won’t save me plants, who will?”
“We’ll beat ’em,” Wellsey said. “Somehow. We’ve beaten everything they’ve thrown at us so far. Ms Shan’s planning a counterattack. She has big plans. She’s a tough one, that one. Always thought of her as just another corporate type. Doesn’t matter where you come from in the world, I guarantee that there’s a private school there, turning out pricks like that with a cookie cutter. But no, I had her all wrong. She’s one of us.”
Seamus wanted to dismiss this speech with a joke, but a strange lump in his throat blocked his cutting remark before it could reach his lips. “You know who you need?” Seamus said. “That weird twitchy little fella who keeps hoidin’ his cigarette butts under the bonsai section.”
“Axel? He’s in prison.”
“So, he can bust out. Ain’t he a supervillain?”
“But he used ter be?”
“What’s your point, mate?”
“Me point is, you people have big brains, but brains made of feckin’ meat,” Seamus snapped. “Are Nalda and Fanaka around?”
“Working in the arsenal,” Wellsey said. “Or ‘working’ in the arsenal. I don’t like to look.”
“Well have fun watching the skies. I’ve a plan, so and I do.”
Seamus trotted off towards the Pavilion, leaving Wellsey scratching his head behind him. So Axel was in prison. That was too bad. Of all the Pavilion staff, Axel was the least likely to fold because of some moral qualm. The Pavilion needed Axel. The plants needed him. Ducking under the shelf that held the bonsais, Seamus salvaged a cigarette with Cyrillic characters around the filter. It was still a little damp. Sometimes having non-porous hands was a blessing.
Inside the Pavilion, Seamus considered walking right into the arsenal/break room, just to cause trouble. Unfortunately, the door was closed, so all he could do was knock on it with his foot. After a moment, the killer cyborg Nalda Teheinthausand opened the door. Seamus had been hoping to see her guiltily buttoning her shirt or something, but unfortunately she didn’t seem to have been doing anything untowards.
She looked left and right before looking down to see Seamus. “Ja?”
“‘Ullo, love, may I come in?” Without waiting for an answer, he trotted past her. Inside the little breakroom, there was barely room to move for jerry-rigged infernal devices. Fanaka was up to his elbows inside one, and quietly singing a rhythmic African song. Seamus disliked the tune — just as he despised all songs that didn’t contain reminders of Kilarney, or bid their listeners to go from glen to glen.
“Alright, you two,” he said. “You’re from der future, Nalda. And Fanaka, you’re from some alternate past where der bastard English got what was coming to ’em, roight?”
“I think that’s a little bit…” Fanaka began.
“Essentially correct,” Nalda intoned.
“So we should see a build-up of potential temporal energy whenever you touch. Pure electricity when youse are skin to skin,” Seamus leered.
Fanaka blushed and Nalda sneered.
“Right, so here’s me plan. The Guarda have Axel, see? What we can do is bring a past version of him into the present. Pick him up from just before he got arrested, and put him back there as soon as the battle is over.”
“Wait — what do you know about temporal physics?” Fanaka said.
“As much as any man with twenty seven days a month in which to contemplate the mysteries of der cosmos,” Seamus snapped. “I’ve done der maths, and I have here one of Axel’s cigarette butts, with his DNA on ’em. Do one of youse yahoos have a transdimensional energy source?”
“Your accent is vildly inconsistent,” Nalda said.
“Listen to who’s talking, bedad. Do you have the source or not?”
Fanaka shrugged. “Yes, but attempts to use the Skull have been…”
“Aha! A Skull! Roight, I need you two to hold hands on top of the Skull.”
Nalda looked at Fanaka. “I do not trust der liddle man.”
“I thought it was humans you didn’t trust,” Fanaka said with a smile. “Look, I need to know more about the skull if we’re going to be able to use it as more than just a battery. You know what I mean.”
He placed his hand on top of the glass skull, which was sitting on top of a wooden chest, covered in dozens of lights.
Nalda sighed deeply. “Very vell. If you try anything, little man, I vill destroy you.”
She put her hand on top of the skull, interlacing her fingers with those of her lover.
“Sure, and I wouldn’t do nothing to endanger this place,” Seamus said. “Trust me.”
And with that, handed the cigarette but to Fanaka, who placed it on top of the skull, in between fingers.
The lights in the room went out. A wave of force knocked Seamus back onto his ceramic rump. When the lights came back on, a little man stood next to Fanaka and Nalda. He sported a crewcut and a huge pair of goggles, and he wore a purple labcoat over an outfit that looked like pale blue surgical scrubs with knee high boots. In a second, he had shaken a ray-gun from his sleeve.
“All right! What’s going on? Who are you? Who do you work for? The Society of Wickedness? N.E.S.T.? Les Frers Montgolfiers du Mal? Who are you?”
Winded, Seamus could only gawp. Fanaka’s mouth opened and closed silently, his eyes focused on the raygun aimed at his gut. Only Nalda seemed able to move. Ignoring the gun, she leaned in closer to the stranger.
“Axel?” she said.
“That’s Professor Devestato to you, fraulein!” Axel snarled.
“Oh, moi word,” Seamus moaned. “I think me calculations were a tad out.”
He looked up at the ceiling, his fingers twitching slightly as he revised his equations. “Yep. My bad. Sure, and I forgot to carry der one.”