Orion spends his life travelling the world. He’s great with languages and earns his keep acting as a translator both for in person and just text that is emailed to him. He has an interest in mysticism/folklore/occult and in particular always seems to bring up mirrors as a particular point of interest.
He’s got the casual look of somebody who never really needs to do smart formal and looks to be somewhere in his mid 30s.
“So, how does this work?”
They are standing high on the Atlas Mountains, the land falling away before them and a wind blowing up hot from the desert spreading out below them.
He turns to look at her.
“Does it really have to be here? It is cold and you didn't warn me to dress warmly.”
Somehow, through her ski mask, she still manages to look smug.
“Yes it has to be out here. This is where I first crossed over.”
There is a pause, then he replies “Wait, what? No it isn't!”
She laughs and he smiles, reaches out and touches her forehead.
“In the name of blah blah blah, raiment blah puissance - hey this is serious - blah blah, I grant you the half portion of mine own power. There done.”
“What? Just like that?”
“Just like that”.
Together, the Worldwalker and the Spiegelshreck, brother and sister, turn to the view and step over from one world to the next - both clad in the raiment of their own extraordinary power.
He crosses over and into the main town square, and then immediately steps back as the first shots ring out. Shit, turns out the Shift Manager at the plant actually could wiggle out of the handcuffs in under half an hour.
Oh well, it seems they breed them canny and loyal here in Orcus, Ohio.
The Feds are set up to move into the town of course, but they can't be trusted to handle two immortals themselves. John and Mary Smith, as they style themselves at the moment anyway, are not like to be caught by normal authorities and if they are there will be blood, and precedent suggests it won't be theirs.
He begins to sprint. If the maps he studied were correct then 30m West and a sidestep South and - he crosses over again, this time inside the high street bank, just beside the window and in a perfect position to deal with the shooter. Nothing too permanent, but the sheriff'll have bruises galore when she wakes up.
Now, if his initial investigations were correct then the Smiths should be in the Mayor's Office across the road and probably in their panic room by now. According to the plans that should be - he passes over - 15m SSW, 3m NNW and up the ladder put in place to get the height he needs, and - he passes back.
And shit. Not a panic room, a bare concrete space with a small shaft and a metal staircase leading down to a… seriously… an underground railway? Well, a fantastically wealthy couple who literally own the ground the town is built on, the utilities and a majority stake in just about every business within municipal limits, and have done so since the Great Depression? Of course they were prepared.
Of course, so was the Worldwalker. He passes over, takes out the radio, and calls in the Family. Two dozen of the Family move into position, coordinating, tracking, homing in. It is very, very difficult to run from someone who can step through to another world and take a straight line when you need to go by the crooked way, who can avoid any trap you lay and come out behind you. Through tunnels, into the local salt mines and up to the secret helipad the Smiths are pursued, their lead of minutes cut to less than 30s. Time enough for them to split and get into their separate 'copters and take flight. The split was expected, is part of their escape plan, of how they have survived through the millennia, though the when and where was unknown. What was unexpected were the five separate helis taking off in different directions.
The Worldwalker passes over and is clambering into an ornithopter cockpit in less than 20s.
“Up, forty degrees NNW, about 300m by now I'd guess”.
Risky, very risky what he is about to do.
“Worldwalker - we're there”
“Ok Alice, I'm going for a three second drop - so that will be 44.1m down, and we are going at 134kmph, which is 37.2m across. You can work out the trajectory from there.”
He passes over, and for an instant he feels like gravity has forgotten him, hanging seemingly immobile in the air with the rapidly receding shapes of three helicopter in the distance. As he begins to fall he turns himself and, half upside down catches sight of the others. After precisely three seconds he passes back and lands heavily in the 'thopter cargo bay. Even as he is passing further instructions through the radio he makes a mental note to have the bar padded for the next time he tries this.
In the end, three of the escaping 'copters are tracked down, and Mr Smith is apprehended by local law enforcement. The fallout is more than significant - a whole town barely registered with either State or Federal authorities, with over five thousand criminal violations of various sorts, easily enough to put John Smith behind bars for the length of a normal human lifetime. Unfortunately, since Mrs Smith has escaped, all she has to do is wait for her husband to whither and die, then use her coin to buy the lifetime from some unsuspecting soul (literally), and the two will be reunited - and what is the space of a lifetime to an Immortal.
And so the hunt and the Hunter must carry on.
“Well, it sure is kind of you to offer me a lift”.
The hitchhiker is average height, with a tidy mop of hair and an easy smile which is hard to dislike. His warm southern drawl both welcomes the listener in, but also introduces just a side of wry, gentle questioning, like every phrase is an invitation to think about the world a little deeper.
The car driver, meanwhile, is tall, with long salt-and-pepper hair framing his face. He looks like he could be anywhere between 30 and ageless, and whilst his clothes are just the well-worn, but sturdy vestments of an inveterate traveller, nevertheless he seems to be clad in some strange air of gravitas and importance. He looks like A Man On A Mission.
“No problem. Happy to help you out.”
“I'm Lemuel, and I'm not really heading anywhere special right now, so wherever you are going is good for me.”
“Please, call me Orion - I don't get to use the name much these days. As for where I am going, nowhere special is, unfortunately, precisely where I am not headed. Still, I think you'll want to come along for the ride.”
The two have never met before, but as they sit next to each other in the car you could easily believe them old friends, grown comfortable in their silence together. The hitch-hiker is used to this, all across the world he has forged bonds of friendship with his listeners, and so is the driver, who perhaps more than any other person can lay claim to the title of citizen of the worlds.
The Casino seems to come out of nowhere, a trick of the light, and the desert hiding the edifice until they are nearly on top of it. The car park is uncharacteristically full, and the crowds are gathering at the door before the official 5pm opening hour. A man wearing a janitor's overall ambles up to the car and opens the door for the driver.
“Evening Mr Worldwalker sir. Will you be doing the door-knocking thing as usual?”
“Hello Wendell. Well I probably should - it is protocol after all, and it is important to get that right. How are you? How are Wendell and Wendell doing?”
“Oh quite well thank you. Wendell told me that Wendell is recovering well after his fall, but I'll pass my best on to him from you.”
The hitch-hiker, Lemuel, probably ought to be more confused by the conversation than he seems, but he accepts it with a startling equanimity. He doesn't even startle when a young waitress, doing the rounds of the crowd getting advance orders in lets out a squeal initially audible to only bats and dogs, but which rapidly descends the scale into human pain-inducing levels, before breathlessly repeating “Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygoshit'sLEMUEL!”. Over the course of the evening the young woman will recover her equilibrium enough to actually speak to the man. What actually passes between them, however, is kept private by both parties.
The actual door knocking ceremony is a relatively simple affair. Orion, now taking on the mien, the role of the Worldwalker approaches the doors. Almost unconsciously the crowd parts before him. Thrice he knocks on the perspex door. Thrice he intones “I, who am anointed Ambassador from the Director do request and require entry into the Nexus to reforge the ties that bind us”. On the third repetition the door is opened by the Manager. She looks into his eyes and replies “I, the Manager of this Establishment do recognise your status, do welcome your presence and with this handshake do confirm and reinforce the ties that bind our worlds together”.
A feeling of pressure, like the heaviness before a thunderstorm, seems to life and the Manager she leans forward and whispers something in the Worldwalker's ear. They share a brief laugh, and the doors are thrown wide open and the crowds step in.
And so the years go on and the scene repeats, more or less. Sometimes the Worldwalker puts on a croupiers cap once the ceremony is complete and helps out. Sometimes he sits at the bar and raises a glass to the statues. Sometimes he even crosses the ropes and props a martini, or whiskey, or beer in the outstretched hands of one or another.
Eventually, very eventually, another crisis hits, and the next year the Casino (though it is no longer a Casino) has a new crop of statues. That the Worldwalker should seek to raise a glass to these also comes as no surprise to those who remain - the Director's Ambassador was present throughout, offering advice and support, even if his mandate precluded direct involvement.
The Worldwalker and the Nexus, the Nexus and the Worldwalker. Once a year, every year until one year the Worldwalker does not come, and the Casino-that-is-no-longer-a-Casino is clad in black, and the drinks are on the house. But that is a long way away.