Quantum Flux

by Ace Corona

The faded wallpaper was peeling near the ceiling, and at some of the edges. This was truly the cheapest of cheap motels, infested with mice and cockroaches, and currently inhabited by three ex-Marines. Ex-sergeant Nick Wasco read the want-ads as he sat in a chair by the table drinking his coffee, while ex-corporal Doc Delano and former private Reggie Corcoran debated about what kind of jobs they should try to get.

"I'm just saying," Doc told Reggie, "we're over-qualified. We can fix tanks, but nobody's hiring out here in civilian life for what we're qualified to do!"

"Wait," Nick said, interrupting, "here's an ad asking for volunteers for an experiment. They specifically want military veterans. It pays $500 a day if we're chosen!"

"Well you can count me out!" Reggie said. "It's probably a dangerous medical experiment. Six months of that, and you'll need a liver and kidney transplant!"

"Does it say what kind of an experiment?" Doc asked.

"It just says a top-secret mission utilizing a new technology!" Nick replied. "We can check it out, Reggie, and if it's too crazy, then you don't have to volunteer!"

"Yeah!" Doc agreed, "It's not like we really have a choice!"

"Okay, count me in!" said Reggie.

"Me too!" said Doc.

At the facility where the experiment was being conducted, the three of them sat in a waiting room with two beautiful women, a blonde and a brunette. Nick had his eyes on the blonde, but Doc and Reggie both liked the brunette, because she had nice legs.

"Hi, they call me Doc," Doc said, introducing himself to the brunette.

"My name is Lindsay," she said, "Lindsay Lynwood."

"I'm Doc Delano, and this is Reggie Corcoran and Nick Wasco. The three of us were in the Marines together."

"This is my friend Cassidy West," Lindsay said, pointing to the blonde, "We were in the Air Force together."

Their conversation was interrupted by a man in a white labcoat who opened a door and stood there in the doorway. "Five of you, huh?" he said. "I'm professor Triton! Come with me. You're about to be briefed on your mission."

They walked down a long hallway and entered a room with comfortable chairs and a movie screen with a projector in front of it.

The professor turned out the lights and turned on the projector. It showed a map of the Carribean sea. "This island," the professor said as he pointed a stick at it, "is in the territory of a South American country. A certain doctor Nebulous has taken up residence there, and we believe he is working on building a nuclear bomb for for the Al Qaeda terrorist network. The country he is leasing the island from has refused to cooperate with the United States, so we're sending you five in to disarm the bomb, if you can...that is, if you volunteer for this mission. You will be payed five thousand dollars each, up front, and five hundred dollars a day, for as long as this mission takes. Any questions so far?"

"Yes," Nick asked, "how will we get there?"

"By submarine," the professor answered, "and one more thing...all of you will be shrunk down to two and a quarter inches tall. The miniature submarine is only three feet long."

"You've got to be kidding me," Nick said, "the mad scientist part I believe,...but do you really think we're supposed to believe you can actually shrink us?"

"I expected your skepticism, Mr. Wasco." the professor said. "Please allow me to demonstrate a device delivered to us courtesy of the Pentagon from Area 51 in Nevada."

The professor walked over to a ray-gun device clamped in a vice on a table, and pressed a button. A metal sphere the size of a basketball shrunk down to the size of a golf ball. The professor picked it up and held it in his hand. "This metal sphere weighed 20 pounds at normal size. Now it weighs less than an ounce."

He handed it to Nick to inspect. Doc asked, "What happened to it?"

The professor answered, "It is in a state of quantum flux. Over 99 percent of the matter composing the atoms of that ball now exists in temporal space. The remaining fraction of a percent is what you now hold in your hands."

"And you want to do this to us?" Nick asked.

"Yes," the professor answered, "the miniature submarine is already prepared, and all we need now is your agreement to go on this mission."

The professor handed out five clipboards, each with paperwork they had to sign to agree to go on this mission. "On your way out, you will each be presented with a check for five thousand dollars each, then you'll be payed five hundred dollars a day for each day of your mission!"

On the way out, Nick got Cassidy's phone number, and the five of them went out to a bar that night to celebrate. Cassidy was dressed like a stripper, and Lindsay was dressed to kill. Nick, Doc, and Reggie were dressed casually.

"Let me buy you ladies a drink!" Nick offered. "Bartender, three snakebites!" and Nick put a one hundred dollar bill on the bar. "You can keep the change, that's your tip! All of us here are ex-military!"

As they drank, Nick explained to Cassidy and Lindsay that since he was a sergeant in the Marine Corps, he out-ranked Doc, who had been a corporal, and Reggie, who had been a private. Cassidy and Lindsay had been lieutenants in the Air Force, so the five of them agreed that Nick would be the leader, but since Cassidy and Lindsay outranked him, they would have the power to veto any decision Nick made that they disagreed with. While they ordered more and more drinks, Nick became louder about being an ex-Marine.

One of Nick's biker friends happened to be at the bar that night, and walked up to Nick. "Hey, Nick!"

"Hey, Rollo! What's happening? Hey bartender, another snakebite for my buddy Rollo!"

"I just came to tell you that you shouldn't go around this place announcing that you were in the military! Alot of people are angry about what's been happening in the Middle East!"

"So what!" Nick shouted. "If anyone wants trouble, bring it on! I'm an ex-Marine, and I'm proud of it!"

Two burly college football players finished their drinks, and headed over to Nick. "I think you and your friends should leave!" the bigger one said.

"Yeah!" his friend agreed. "We don't want your kind around!"

"And what if me and my friends don't want to leave?" Nick asked.

Reggie and Doc walked up to either side of Nick, indicating they would back him up. Reggie pulled out several hundred dollar bills and handed them to the football players, who refused to take the money.

"What's this," the larger football player asked, "you're trying to pay us to not beat you up?"

"No," Reggie replied, "it's for your hospital bills after we're through with you!"

With that, Nick punched the larger of the two in the jaw, and from there, it was on. Cassidy and Lindsay sipped their drinks and watched the action. It didn't last longer than a minute, but alot can happen in a fight in a minute. Nick and Reggie did most of the work, but Doc pitched in by getting down on all fours so Reggie could push one of the football players down over Doc. Several more people jumped in to help the college guys, and Nick's biker buddy Rollo pitched in to help Nick, Doc, and Reggie.

All of the men were arrested. Nick didn't bother posting bail. They just sat there for awhile, then an officer came in and said: "The three of you are being released into the custody of professor Triton! He has orders from the Pentagon!"

As Nick, Reggie and Doc filed out, the two college football players wanted to know why they, too, weren't being released. Reggie made a face at them on the way out. Nick stopped to explain to Rollo that he couldn't help him. A short car drive later, they were back at the facility where they had first met the professor.

"Unacceptable!" he said to the three men. "Completely inappropriate! The three of you have been trusted for top secret clearance for a Special Ops mission, and you get into a barfight?"

Soon, the professor calmed down. "I guess I should've expected it from three ex-Marines. Cassidy and Lindsay called me after you got arrested. They should be here shortly."

A few minutes later, Cassidy and Lindsay were let in. Several assistants brought some equipment in, and set the items on several tables.

"This is a gas-powered spike-gun. It uses high-pressure gas to propel a spike high into the air, with sufficient force to imbed it in solid concrete. A cable reel will release a cable that is attached to the spike and allow you to climb to areas that would otherwise be inaccessible to you because of your decreased stature."

"That looks like something out of Mission Impossible!" Nick said.

"It's the exact same type of device they use in those movies," the professor explained, "the only difference is, ours really work!"

The professor went on to explain that there was a device inside the sub that could re-pressurize the gas cannisters, so they never had to worry about only being able to use the grapnel-guns a limited number of times. For the next hour, professor Triton showed them alot of other goodies.

Then the professor handed out photos of a teenage girl dressed like a punk rocker. "This is Alyndria! She is the daughter of doctor Nebulous! She's sixteen years old, and she's almost as smart as her father! Currently, she's studying calculus."

"She's cute!" Reggie said after looking at the photo. "Too bad she's not twenty-one!"

It took about a week for everyone to get their personal possessions in storage. They all met back at the lab on the agreed date, and each of them stood on the platform to be miniaturized down to two and a quarter inches tall by the strange device that had come from an alien starship stored in Area 51 in Nevada.

"And remember!" the professor said, "if you lose your quantum flux initiators, there will be no way to restore you to normal size! You'll be two and a quarter inches tall forever!"

Before they got zapped, the professor handed each of them a manila folder. "This contains personal facts you need to know about doctor Nebulous and his daughter! There are some more photos of her in your folders. When you get to the island, you'll be two and a quarter inches tall, so watch out for her!"

Each of them had on backpacks of gear, including the gas-propelled spike guns with cable reels attached. Nick was first to get zapped. The shrinking was instantaneous, so Nick was two and a quarter inches tall while Cassidy stood there normal sized.

"Doc was right, Cassidy!" Nick said. "You do have great legs!"

One by one, they were all miniaturized. There was a gangplank that led from the miniaturization platform to the roof of the submarine. The quintet walked over and boarded the sub.

Nick Wasco, Doc Delano, Reggie Corcoran, Lindsay Lynwood, and Cassidy West were strapped into their seats in the miniature submarine for the whole trip by boat into the Carribean. 20 miles from the island of doctor Nebulous the submarine was dropped from the boat into the sea, and Nick piloted the sub toward the island.

Nick cruised the submarine around the perimeter of the island, then found a small cove that was perfectly hidden. The landing was uneventful, and Doc and Lindsay agreed to stay behind, in case the others were captured. Nick, Reggie, and Cassidy climbed up a cliff above where the sub was moored, and made their way to the laboratory of doctor Nebulous.

"Remember," Nick reminded them, "we need to remain absolutely silent in case a normal sized person stumbles onto us."

Just then, they could hear a Walkman nearby. Nick put his left hand on Reggie's shoulder, and his right hand on Cassidy's shoulder to stop them. He put his finger to his lips to indicate that he wanted them to be quiet. He peeked around a boulder that towered over them, and saw a teenage girl dressed up like a punk rocker with purple hair and torn fishnet stockings beneath a black leather miniskirt. She wore mid-calf Doc Marten's boots, a Sex Pistols tee-shirt, and a purple denim vest with punk rock band patches all over it, and buttons with punk bands just below both shoulders. It was 16-year-old Alyndria, the beautiful daughter of doctor Nebulous they had been warned about by the professor.

When Nick hustled back to Cassidy and Reggie, Alyndria sensed movement and took her headphones off. "Scatter!" Nick ordered, and the three of them split up.

Cassidy ran across the path into some bushes, Reggie ran back toward the lab, and Nick ran in the opposite direction as Reggie. Alyndria went after Nick. As he ran, she easily closed the distance between them in just a few steps. Her Doc Marten's came crashing down on plants that Nick had ran under for cover as she approached him.

Soon, Nick was scooped up in Alyndria's hand; he was no match for the sixteen-year-old titaness. Unaware that there were more of them, Alyndria carried Nick back to the mansion where she and her father lived.

"So you've been shrunk?" Alyndria asked Nick as she carried him in her fist, the upper half of his body extending out of her grip, his arms and lower body held firmly in place.

"Yeah!" Nick replied.

"Are there more of you?" Alyndria asked.

"Not that I know of!" Nick answered.

"I'm Alyndria. What's your name?"

"I'm Nick Wasco, ex-Marine!"

"I'm going to show you to my father. Hopefully, he'll let me keep you! I have a cage in my room that would be escape-proof for someone your size!"

Alyndria entered the mansion, and walked down a hall, and turned into her father's lab.
"Daddy, I found something you might be interested in!"

"Don't bother me!" doctor Nebulous said to his daughter. "I've got to deliver a nuclear bomb that fits in a briefcase by next month, and I don't have time for interruptions!"

Alyndria showed Nick to her father. "Huh?" Nebulous muttered. "It looks like he was miniaturized with a neutrino dissimilator. There's probably more of them!"

"He said he came alone!" Alyndria said.

"Bah! He was lying to you! There's probably an entire group of them! That way, if one of them gets captured, the others can complete their mission!"

"Can I keep him?" Alyndria asked.

"I don't see why not!" Nebulous answered. "Just keep him out of my way, and try to capture the rest of them!"

Alyndria thanked her dad, and took Nick into her bedroom. She held him firmly in her fist as she rummaged through her closet, until she found the cage she was looking for. She set it on a dresser, and placed Nick inside. Then she went back to her closet and rummaged around some more until she found a long piece of cord.

Alyndria hung it from a hook on the ceiling, and pulled one end to the top of the cage. After tying a knot through the handle on the top of the cage, she pulled on the cord until the bottom of the cage was about four feet above the floor, then she tied the other end to an outcropping that was an ornamental design of the dresser.

"And that's that!" Alyndria said with confidence. "I doubt you'll escape from there!"

Meanwhile, back at the sub, Reggie showed up, and a minute later, Cassidy arrived. Doc was standing guard when they arrived.

"What happened?" Doc asked.

"Nick got captured by Alyndria!" Reggie said.

"The scientist's daughter!" Cassidy said to Doc.

"We have to rescue him!" Reggie said.

"Now hold on," Doc said, "we can't make a rescue attempt until we find the bomb and destroy it! That's our mission! As soon as we do that, there'll be plenty of time to rescue Nick!"

"You can't be serious!" Reggie argued. "He's our leader!"

"Trust me," Doc said, "Nick would want it that way!"

Meanwhile, back in Alyndria's bedroom, Alyndria wasn't done playing with her new toy yet. Alyndria opened the cage door, and ordered Nick to remove all of his equipment. He put his grapnel hook, rope, and crossbow in Alyndria's palm, and she set the items on her dresser.

"What about that device on your wrist?" Alyndria asked. "Give it to me!"

It was Nick's quantum flux initiator! Without it, he could never return to normal size. Nick unstrapped it and handed it over to Alyndria.

"What is this thing?" she asked.

"Just some gizmo," Nick replied, not wanting to give up any more information than he had to. "You wouldn't care what it does!"

"I'll just take this to my father, if you're going to be secretive about it!"

Alyndria shut Nick's cage, and put a padlock on the door. She took the wristband to her father, in the lab, and explained that Nick didn't want her to know what it really was.

"I'll put it in the x-ray scanner!" doctor Nebulous said.

After scanning it, Nebulous was able to figure out what it was in a matter of minutes. "It uses a quantum flux field! Over 99 percent of the matter composing his body exists in another dimension, probably temporal space! In order to return to normal size, he needs this wristband!"

"Don't worry, daddy! If I find any more of them, the first thing I'll do is remove their tiny wristband thingies!"

Alyndria returned to her bedroom, and removed Nick from the cage. She sat down on her bed, with her back to one wall, and her legs sprawled out on the bed. Placing Nick down on her left thigh, the titanic teen ordered Nick to mend her fishnet stockings.

"Excuse me?" Nick asked.

"I want you to find two ends of thread, and tie them together to mend the rips in my fishnet stockings. You're just the right size to do it!"

Nick complied. He got two pieces of black threading, and tied them together. There were dozens of rips in Alyndria's stockings, scattered all across her legs. This was going to take a long time. Nick decided to make conversation.

"So you're into punk rock?" Nick asked.

"Yeah!" Alyndria replied.

"Don't you think what your father's doing goes against the whole philosophy of punk rock?"

"Not really," Alyndria replied. "Punk is all about not having anything to do with society. That's kind of what my father's all about!"

Nick realized he didn't know enough about punk rockers to argue with Alyndria about it any further.

"What's your reason for being here?" Alyndria asked. "Is it to stop my dad from making that nuclear bomb that fits in a briefcase?"

"You guessed it!" Nick replied, certain that it wouldn't hurt for the teen to know of his true plan.

"You're wasting your time," Alyndria added. "My dad has a medallion from a spy satellite that has the secret launch codes of half a dozen nuclear warheads!"

"Thanks for bringing that to my attention!" Nick said.

Meanwhile, back at the submarine, Doc, Reggie, Lindsay and Cassidy were getting ready to invade the mansion of doctor Nebulous. Doc was checking out the oscillator the professor had provided them with.

"So what is this thing again?" Reggie asked Doc.

"It's an oscillator! It can bust open a safe by finding the natural mechanical resonance frequency! I've got a feeling Alyndria has Nick's wristband in a safe, and we're going to need it to accomplish our mission!"

Reggie and the two women helped Doc haul the huge oscillator out of the sub and onto the cliff. Lindsay checked her watch. "It's 9:00! Do you think that's late enough?"

"Alyndria is 16!" Doc said. "we shouldn't head over there until after 11:00! I want to make sure she's asleep when we get there!"

"So what's the plan, Doc?" Cassidy asked.

"You and Lindsay are going to find Nick, while Reggie and I case the lab, to figure out the best course of action!"

Over the next two hours, Doc went over the plan with the group. They each had backpacks with the gas-propelled spike guns that would shoot out a line of cable like the professor had showed them.

At 11:15, Doc gave the okay, and they moved out. They had studied a map of the island that had been provided to them by the professor, thanks to an image made by a spy satellite. They made their way toward the mansion. Doc had a pretty good idea of where Alyndria's bedroom was, even though it wasn't on the map. He turned out to be right. Lindsay used her spike-gun to shoot a spike attached to a cable, and was the first to ascend to the window sill. She gave Doc the thumbs up hand signal that indicated they had found Alyndria's room.

Doc, Reggie, and Cassidy followed Lindsay by climbing the cable up to the window sill. Once they were all on the window sill, Doc used a knife to cut through the window screen while Lindsay hauled the cable back up and swung it inside of Alyndria's bedroom.

Nick was high above them in his cage, and Alyndria was passed out on her bed. Lindsay didn't have a spike-gun, because she had used hers to climb to the window. Cassidy aimed her spike-gun, and it shot over the cord that hung above the cage, and a grapnel hook attachment grabbed onto a bar at the top of the cage. Cassidy climbed up to the cage, while Doc and Reggie went to the lab.

Alyndria's bedroom door was open, so they carefully walked out into the hallway. After exploring for about fifteen minutes, they found the laboratory. There were a series of cables near the ceiling, and Reggie shot his spike-gun at them, and his grapnel hook caught on a cable. He tugged on the cable attached to the grapnel, to make sure it was strong enough, then climbed up. Doc followed him.

Once they were on the counter top, Cassidy showed up and climbed up to join them. "Nick said Alyndria took his quantum flux initiator, and gave it to Nebulous! It's got to be somewhere in this lab!"

Cassidy climbed back down and tied the oscillator to the cable she and Doc and Reggie had climbed, and then Doc and Reggie pulled together to haul it up onto the counter they were standing on. There was a small safe next to a shelf, and Doc was convinced Nick's wristband was in there.

When the oscillator was on the counter top, Doc and Reggie slid it over to the safe, and Doc attached the oscillator to it, and turned it on. The safe started to vibrate, and Doc adjusted a dial on the control console of the oscillator.

"Tell Lindsay to give you her wristband, and leave yours with me," Doc instructed, "then the two of you get back to the sub! Reggie, give me your wristband too, then go with Cassidy and Lindsay!"

Reggie was worried. "What are you going to use our quantum flux initiators for?"

"I'm going to use all five of them to shrink the bomb into oblivion!"

"But you remember what the professor said! We'll be stuck this size forever!"

"I know that!" Doc replied. "But this is the only way! That bomb is almost ready to be activated, and we won't get another chance again!"

Reggie complied, eager to get away from the lab, but Cassidy was worried. "What about Nick?" she asked.

"We'll worry about Nick after we accomplish our mission! Right now, we need to make sure that there's never a time when all five of us are in here at the same time! That way, the ones who are free can rescue the others!"

"Okay!" Cassidy said, and joined Reggie.

After about ten minutes, the hinges of the safe shattered, and Doc pried the door open with a knife he had. Inside, there were several objects and some gold coins, and after looking for a few moments, Doc found the wristband. He took his writband off, and placed them with the other three. Soon, Cassidy came back with the fifth wristband, then left as Doc had instructed.

The nuclear bomb was nearly completely assembled. Doc, being a man of science, recognized it when he first ascended the counter top. There were several pieces of equipment connected to the bomb that appeared to be part of it, so Doc realized he'd been right in his assumption that he would need all five wristbands. He set the quantum flux initiator wristbands at key locations, then set timers on each one so they would all shrink at exactly the same time.

Once everything was set up, the timers hit zero, and the bomb disappeared. By setting the wristbands at 100 percent dissimilation, the bomb had been completely transferred to temporal space. There was no way doctor Nebulous could ever find it again!

Doc looked at a clock, and saw it was just after midnight. He climbed back down the cable, and returned to Alyndria's bedroom. He had a small blowtorch with him, and used it to cut through one of the bars of the cage after he climbed up the rope that had been left by Cassidy.

Nick was able to slide out between the bars, and the duo made their way down the cable, then up the cable leading out of the window to Alyndria's bedroom. When they got to the sub, Reggie and Cassidy and Lindsay were there waiting for them.

"I destroyed the bomb!" Doc said, "Our mission is over!"

"But doctor Nebulous has some kind of medallion!" Nick warned. "He can use it to build a device that will allow him to control about a dozen nuclear missiles! Our mission isn't over, we have to stop him!"

"As far as I'm concerned," Doc said, "our mission is over! We destroyed the bomb, and that's that!"

When Reggie turned the ignition on the control console of the submarine, the engine didn't turn over. Nick looked at it. "The battery's dead! So it looks like we're stuck here anyway, incommunicado!"

"I say we help Nick!" Reggie said. "We're stuck at this size forever without our wristband quantum flux initiators, so we might as well use our diminished stature to fight for our country!"

Cassidy and Lindsay agreed. "Okay!" Doc said. "I agree! But shouldn't we have a name for ourselves?"

"How about the Microscouts?" Reggie said.

"Then the Microscouts it is! We'll stay on this island for as long as it takes to defeat doctor Nebulous and his evil plans!"

And so on that day a new group was born, the Microscouts! Pledged to fight evil and destroy the evil plans of doctor Nebulous...and they had many, many more adventures awaiting them!

THE END