by Samuel Orona
A man from 5150 and two young adults from our era are shrunk and travel through time!
Chapter Two: Ancient Pompeii
Once the time traveling trio arrived in Pompeii in 79 A.D. and they were hovering over the city, the leader of the Death Matrix contacted Professor Cannoli. His digitally modified face appeared on the main monitor.
"You have done well, Professor Cannoli, my gambling ring has made quite a lot of money placing bets on your adventure. This time, here in 79 a.d. you must befriend a 13-year-old Roman girl named Augusta living in Pompeii the day before Mount Vesuvius erupted, and convince her and her family to evacuate."
"I have the coordinates of Augusta's house locked into the navigation computer, we're ready to go!" the professor replied.
"You may proceed," said the leader of the Death Matrix.
"Cash," Tad asked, "earlier you explained briefly how miniaturization works. How do all the shrunken atoms maintain their integrity while shrinking? Does a computer keep track of the positions of all the atoms, or is it some kind of a chain reaction?"
"It's more like a chain reaction," the professor replied. "The repulsive force of electrons holds atoms in a specific pattern, so when the electrons shrink, this repulsive force diminishes, resulting in the atoms moving closer together while maintaining their original pattern in relation to each other."
"That sounds simple enough," Tad replied. "In your society, do people carry shrink ray guns?"
"Yes," the professor replied, "but they cost as much as a family vehicle, so not everyone has one. Most upper class people carry one, mainly women and children. Abductions are much more rare than in your century, because the weak have a way of defending themselves without causing harm to the abductors."
"Professor," Tiffany asked, "I'm learning to work the navigation console. It looks like we're ready to make the time jump."
Professor Cannoli walked over to the navigation console, and checked everything out.
"Yes, but remember, we stand an inch tall." said the professor.
"Why does the Death Matrix want us to stand an inch tall?" Tiffany asked.
"If we were normal sized, that would give us too much of an advantage," the professor replied. "The Death Matrix conducts betting on whether or not we will survive our ordeal, and the more the odds are stacked against us, the better it is for the gambling ring they're running."
The time cruiser cruised above Pompeii on an early morning the day before the eruption. The trio could see the wide expanse of the town on the main monitor.
"The automatic pilot will land us so we can make contact with the girl named Augusta the Death Matrix chose for us," said the professor.
The time cruiser descended onto a cobblestone walkway between two houses. The sun was up, but it was still early in the morning.
Professor Cannoli lowered the gangplank, and the trio stepped out to view their surroundings.
"As on our first mission Tiffany," said the professor, "I want you to remain in the time cruiser. Tad and I will have communicator rings so we can contact you if we need help."
"Cash, why was a specific girl chosen for us to interact with this time?" Tad asked.
"They want us to deal with someone who will cause the most conflict," said the professor, "they don't want our survival to be guaranteed. As before, we must warn her and her family to evacuate Pompeii before nightfall. We have twelve hours to complete our mission, or we will be stuck here."
"Is the time cruiser visible?" Tiffany asked from the doorway.
"Both ourselves and the time cruiser are invisible as long as we stand on the gangplank," the professor replied. "Once Tad and I step onto the ground, we will be visible to the locals."
Tad stepped off onto the ground. "You're right! I can't see you, Tiffany, or the time cruiser. Let's get moving! Is Augusta's home nearby?"
"According to this smartphone," said the professor, "her home is right in front of us." Professor Cannoli pointed at one of the homes.
"Should we enter her house and find her?" Tad asked.
"I don't see why not," the professor replied, "we can't always rely on serendipity like we did in the colonial Caribbean."
Tad and the professor walked toward the front of the massive dwelling. "What are we supposed to tell this Augusta chick?" Tad asked.
"Within 24 hours, some time tomorrow morning, this entire region will be buried in volcanic ash," the professor replied. "Thousands of people will be killed instantly."
"What if she doesn't believe us?" Tad asked. "We had that problem with Abigail in Port Royal, remember?"
"I have a holographic emitter built into my smartphone," the professor answered. "I can show her a digital re-creation of the effects of the eruption, if I need to."
The professor looked at his smartphone. "According to the sensors in the time cruiser, a teenage girl is asleep in that room right there," the professor pointed at a window. "We're going to need to climb up that bush and reach the window sill."
Tad began climbing, and in a short time, he was on the window sill. The professor followed quickly behind.
"Hey, you're pretty spry for an older man," said Tad.
"People in my time are immortal," the professor answered, "so we have athletic abilities that only younger people in your time possess."
Once they were both standing on the window sill, they peered inside the bedroom and saw a fifteen year old girl sleeping on the bed that was against a wall in the room.
"Should we wake her up?" Tad asked.
"We don't have any way to access the inside of the room without using grapnel equipment," the professor replied, "so I think waking her up would be a good idea. Remember, the time cruiser gave everyone within a twenty mile radius the ability to speak and understand modern English, so she should understand us."
"Augusta!" Tad shouted. The girl stirred. "Augusta, wake up!" Tad shouted. The teenage girl began to awaken, rubbing her eyes and turning toward the sound of Tad's voice. When she saw the inch tall figures of Professor Cannoli and Tad, she sat upright in her bed.
"Who are you?" she asked, as she stood and walked over to the window sill. She held out her hand, and both men stepped onto her palm.
"We came to warn you!" said Tad.
"Warn me?" the girl asked. "About what?"
"Mount Vesuvius is going to erupt tomorrow morning," said the professor. "Everyone remaining in this town will be killed unless you evacuate!"
"Tiny people!" said the girl. She stood up and scooped Tad and the professor up in her hands. "By the gods, they've delivered you to me!"
"We're not toys!" said Tad. "We came to warn you about a volcanic eruption that will take place tomorrow morning!"
"You and your family must evacuate!" said the professor. "You must get to Nuceria Alfaterna, a town to the East of here. There, you and your family will be safe from the eruption."
The girl held her two captives firmly yet gently within her hands, and went and got her sister. "My twelve year old sister will love you!"
Augusta entered her sister's bedroom. "Bellona! You won't believe this! I found two tiny people in my bedroom!"
The other girl was about twelve.
"Bellona was the Roman goddess of war," the professor informed Tad.
"We can have them fight each other, and have people bet money on them!" said Bellona.
"That's a great idea!" said Augusta. "And whoever loses, becomes the food of the gods!"
"What do you mean by that?" Bellona asked.
"Whichever one of them loses, gets swallowed by me!" said Augusta, and both girls began laughing.
"How about we make a bet," said Bellona. "If the older guy wins, I swallow the loser, if the younger guy wins, you swallow the loser!"
"You've got a bet!" said Augusta.
"Let's take them into town after breakfast," said Augusta. Tad and Professor Cannoli stood on the table as the girls ate. The rest of the family was still asleep. The girls ate bread and cheese, and when they were done eating, Augusta took the two captives and carried them into town, followed by her younger sister.
Before long, a group of people had gathered to watch the fight. Tad and Cassius were in the center of a group of people who surrounded them. There was no means of escape without getting captured.
Tiffany could see what was happening from the safety of the time cruiser. She used her communicator to contact Tad before the fight began.
"Tad, you're a better fighter than Cassius, you should make it look good, then throw the fight! It's more important that the professor doesn't get swallowed, so he can explain where they need to evacuate to. He knows this area better than us!"
"Loud and clear!" said Tad.
Soon, the fight began. There were piles of coins in front of each person. Each bettor was on their knees or sitting Indian style, while others stood behind the people who were crouched down.
"Let the fight begin!" said Augusta, and Tad threw the first punch at the professor, hitting him on his right shoulder. The professor hit back, and they began trading punches. It looked like Tad was getting the better of the professor for a while, but then Tad allowed the professor to start winning.
Augusta cheered for Tad to win, and her younger sister Bellona cheered for Professor Cannoli.
Professor Cannoli used a combination to hit Tad in the face, and Tad failed to block the punches. Tad appeared dazed, then Professor Cannoli hit him with a right uppercut, and Tad pretended that he was knocked to the ground.
The crowd cheered, and Augusta collected her money, and put it in a satchel, then collected Tad and the professor in her other hand. "It was a pleasure doing business with you!" said Augusta.
"Now it's time to swallow the loser!" said Augusta, and she handed Tad to her sister.
Bellona raised Tad above her mouth.
"Prepare to surrender to the belly of Bellona!" said Bellona. "It will make me feel like a goddess!"
Bellona dropped the inch tall Tad into her mouth, and closed her lips around him. She struggled with him for a few moments, then successfully swallowed him. After he passed through her esophagus, she raised her arms in victory, and shouted, "I'm a conqueror!"
"You don't have much time!" the professor warned. "Everyone in this town are going to die unless you evacuate before tomorrow morning!"
Augusta and Bellona looked at each other.
"Do you think he's lying?" Augusta asked.
"If they have the magic to become small, they probably know the future, too!" said Bellona. "We'd better take him to our parents and warn them!"
The two Roman girls made their way home, with Professor Cannoli clenched firmly within Augusta's left fist.
Upon arriving home, their parents were awake and having breakfast. Augusta threw the money satchel down on the table. Her father Demetrius dumped out the money and said, "That's a lot of money, Augusta! Where did you get this?"
"I gambled with him!" said Augusta, as she placed Professor Cannoli on the table. "He says Mount Vesuvius will erupt tomorrow."
"Do you have proof, little man?" Demetrius asked Professor Cannoli.
The professor pulled out his neural stimulator and said, "I can use this to make your daughter Bellona vomit, she swallowed a companion of mine."
"Then do so," said Demetrius.
Professor Cannoli aimed it at Augusta's head, and she began to gag. After a few seconds, she vomited and Tad came out, and landed on the floor.
Bellona picked Tad up and placed him on the table with the professor.
"I can't believe I got swallowed by a titanic twelve year old!" Tad shouted. "You only have a short time to evacuate! Mount Vesuvius will erupt soon! It will be the most horrible destruction this part of the world will see in a thousand years!"
"Where is the safest place to evacuate to?" Demetrius asked.
"To the eastern side of Nuceria Alfaterna!" said the professor. "And you must leave soon, because it will take some time to get there!"
"I believe you!" said Demetrius. "You must have been sent here by the gods!"
Within an hour, the family had all of their belongings loaded onto a wagon, and horses pulled the wagon. Tad had explained to Augusta where the time cruiser was, and she retrieved it and loaded it onto the wagon. Before long, they were on their way to a town to the east.
Bellona had the time cruiser on her lap, while Augusta held Tad and the professor. Their father held the reigns and drove the wagon.
Once they arrived in Nuceria Alfaterna, they stopped the wagon and Bellona placed the time cruiser on the ground. The gangplank was lowered, and Augusta placed Tad and Professor Cannoli on the gangplank.
"You must not return to Pompeii for the next two days," said the professor to Demetrius. "You can never return there! Be sure to stay on the eastern end of this town."
"We appreciate all you've done for us," said Demetrius.
Tad waved goodbye to Augusta and Bellona, and the two shrunken men entered the time cruiser and the gangplank closed.
"The lock has been lifted," said Tiffany. "We're free to journey to our next mission!"
"Where to now?" Tad asked.
"Nazi Germany!" Tiffany replied.
"Take us there, Tiffany!" said the professor, and Tiffany manipulated the control console and they made the time jump to 1935 Germany.
To Be Continued!