Chapter 2. Recon
The name meant nothing to Eva, so she continued on the road. Her cloak was good for about ten minutes and then she would have to hide somewhere and wait for the suit to recharge its energy.
She had a bad feeling about the whole thing. The buildings looked unfamiliar. She wondered if she was even on the same planet as before. It wasn’t that she left family behind or anything, but what you didn’t know could kill you - she knew that better than anyone.
The place was eerily quiet. Local time must be past midnight, most lights were out and there was no traffic, neither cars no pedestrian. Eva began to fear a Zerg infestation, which meant their life expectancy was measured in minutes. The Zerg advantage was in numbers, and four marines and a ghost had very little firepower, even if they would do their best to show the Zerg what angry humans could do.
There was some movement about fifty meters ahead. The ghost suit had limited night vision ability, so Eva could vaguely make up a young girl fighting… something she couldn’t see. A cloaked opponent - a dark templar maybe? Too unlikely - he would have killed the girl instantly; the dark templars had a devastating attack, even if their own resistance was not that impressive. Eva hurried to get closer - she had less than half energy in her suit, and if she wanted to help the girl she might need to snipe her opponent, which would instantly consume the rest.
Getting closer, Eva switched off her night vision - it didn’t help with the opponent anyway, and maybe she could detect his movement by the faint "trail" it would leave on the background. As soon as she switched off the NV, she saw the opponent - he looked human, but his face was horribly deformed, and he had… fangs? Plus, not seeing him with the NV equipment meant that his body temperature was at the same level as the background… long forgotten horror stories came back suddenly.
"Is that a vampire?" she asked without even realizing.
Both the girl and the… vampire… turned their heads instantly towards her. The girl looked puzzled - Eva realized her cloak was still on - but immediately turned back to her opponent and… slammed her hand into his chest. Eva realized that the girl had a small piece of wood in that hand, at the same time that the vampire turned to dust.
"Ok, what the hell is going on here?" Eva started angrily. This was absurd. Vampires were an ancient myth, only kept alive by storytellers who got bored of Zerg stories.
"Who are you? Why can’t I see you?" said the girl, turning back to the direction Eva was speaking from.
Eva turned off her cloak. The girl was obviously a fighter, but Eva did not believe she was a real threat to her, even ignoring the fact that she was heavily armed. "Sorry," she said, "I didn’t want to disturb you but WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?" she shouted, annoyed at being so shaken up by the whole thing.
"That was a vampire," replied the girl, "or a trick of the light, but I don’t think that will fly. Who are you?" asked the girl again. "Is that a gun? Guns don’t work on vampires," the girl continued.
"I’m a ghost, my name is Eva. Vampire? Vampires are a myth."
"A ghost? Ah, that’s why I couldn’t see you before. Wait, if you’re a ghost how come you don’t know about vampires? We should ask Giles, but he will make us research and I was hoping to hit the Bronze tonight…" the girl started babbling.
"Stop! I don’t know what you’re talking about. Who is Giles and who are you? Wait, never mind that. What planet are we on," asked Eva, getting to the most important part for her, "and where’s the closest command center?"
The girl looked at her like she grew a second had. "Planet? You’re a ghost and you don’t even know what planet you’re on? We definitely need to see Giles. You should come with me."
"What. Planet. Are. We. On." Eva was getting ready to shoot the annoying girl.
"Oh. I thought you were kidding. We’re on Earth, in the United States."
Eva’s face went white. This was impossible. Worse, if it was true then it was very very bad. The Earth considered all of them either traitors or puppets to be experimented with - they had conquered Korhal, the capital of the Dominion, only a few years ago. If the UED - the United Earth Directorate - found out they were here, being hunted was a very high possibility. She almost activated her cloak and fled, but that would only make it more probable that the girl would report this encounter to someone, even if she appeared to be rather… challenged. She had to find out more.
"United States? Do you mean the UED?" she asked the girl. "And what’s your name?"
"I don’t know what the UED is, my name is Buffy, and you should really come to me to see Giles. I’m the slay girl, he’s the one with the books and the answers."
"Ok, Buffy. Lead on," said Eva. "Let’s go see this Giles, maybe then I can wake up from this nightmare."
The trip didn’t take long, though the girl - Buffy - babbled all the way about boys, and clothing and… shoes? Eva soon gave up any attempt to understand anything, content to look around her. The place looked incredibly low-tech, which clashed with what she knew about Earth - their technology was more advanced than that of the Dominion, so where was it? Maybe they kept the high tech for their military and did not release it to the civilians. Eva would not have been surprised by that.
She stopped suddenly - Buffy had just mentioned another impossible thing. It must have been her psychic abilities that helped her not become catatonic from repeated shocks. Buffy just said it was the year 2000 while making fun of some geeks who thought the technology would crash when the year started. That was over 500 years in the past. Eva would have scoffed at the idea… except what was one more impossibility? Vampires, Earth, and now time travel. She should stop trying to think and just wait to meet this Giles, maybe he could bring some sanity to this world. Big silver lining if Buffy was correct, however - there was no UED government to fear. No Zerg or Protoss either, at least not anywhere near. That was good.
They finally arrived at a small building, where Buffy knocked on a door. There were no anti-Zerg defenses visible, which supported Buffy’s claims, as ridiculous as they sounded.
The door was opened by an older man with some kind of a contraption on his nose, who looked at the girl and smiled. "Hello, Buffy, I trust everything was well during patrolling?" he said. "Who is your friend?"
"Ah, Giles, this is a ghost, her name is Eva, and she is really weird. She didn’t even know she was on Earth!" the girl replied while entering the room.
"How interesting," the man replied. "My name is Giles, it is very nice to meet you, Eva."
"Nice to meet you too, Giles," said Eva. She was really hoping the man was going to tell her it was all a misunderstanding, and she was back on Shakuras, just in another place, not near the battle field she had left… only hours ago? It seemed more than that. "Before anything else, what year is this, and can you prove it? It’s very important to me."
"Well," replied Giles, "I guess there’s a newspaper around here… ah there it is. Here," he started to give her the newspaper and then realized. "Oh, sorry, you’re a ghost… here, let me show you."
Eva took the newspaper from his hands, causing both Giles and Buffy to take a step back. "I thought you said you were a ghost," said Buffy, a slight menace in her voice.
"Huh?" asked Eva, still focused on the newspaper. The date printed on the top was October 6, 2000. It was… she didn’t know what she felt. On the one hand, no UED, no Zerg or Protoss threat - all good things. On the other hand, everyone she knew was… gone. Also, she was a soldier, with a very clear mission - what was she going to do now? She didn’t think she could adapt to civilian life, and she didn’t even want to.
"You know," said Buffy, "ghost, sometimes invisible, immaterial… dead human?"
Eva looked at Giles. "Is she… not well? First she claimed that guy she was fighting was a vampire, now she thinks she’s talking to someone who’s dead."
Suddenly annoyed, Buffy pulled Eva down to look in her eyes. Eva got a bit scared… there was something ancient in there. "Answers, now!" Buffy continued. "What are you and what are you doing here?"
Eva straightened herself up, causing Buffy to let go of her suit. "I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m a ghost, a sniper with some psionic powers - limited telepathy and very limited telekinesis. I have a limited cloaking ability provided by my suit, and I can also use the suit energy to deliver a very powerful shot at a distance. Where I come from , everyone knows what a ghost is."
"Which is where, exactly?" asked Giles. He seemed genuinely curious, but there was also a menacing undercurrent to his voice. Was she in a mental facility? Was everyone around her a dangerous mental patient?
"I’m from Korhal originally, but an hour ago we were fighting on Shakuras," said Eva. "Some accident happened - a nuke went off just as we were pulled into a Protoss vortex, and we came back around here."
"I’m afraid that answer only leads to more questions," said Giles. "What or where are those places you mentioned, and more importantly - we? There are others?"
"Yes, I have a few colleagues with me, we were all in a medevac when this happened. I am the only one with cloaking ability so recon fell naturally to me. Yay me," she added in a sarcastic voice.
"Ok, we’ll have to discuss them later - in the meantime, where are those places? Korhal, Shakuras, Protoss…" asked Giles.
"Protoss is a race of aliens," answered Eva. "Korhal and Shakuras are planets in the Koprulu sector, which is about sixty thousand light years from here. However, that’s not even the most important issue right now."
"Really," asked Giles. "I would think you deluded, but you seem to regard us as… not well, as you put it, and I don’t wish to return the favor. Please continue. What is the most important issue?"
"We were fighting in a skirmish with some Protoss forces after the end of the Second Great War… which ended in 2504," said Eva. "We also got moved to five hundred years in the past."