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Chapter Four: Portal 1.1

by LadyMysterio


Verena subtly rolled her shoulder, attempting to work the soreness out. She glanced at James, reflecting on the past few minutes. She still wasn't sure why he'd disappeared. All she knew was that she'd been tased and dragged back to HQ, as was the Prime Minister. She awoke sat in a chair. Interrogated shortly, and then dragged over to watch James awake. Through some sort of hidden window.

He'd seemed desperately worried for her, maybe that it was a clue to his disappearance. She pushed the thought away. Time to focus on the present. She stepped off the raised platform and started striding across the room. Listening to James' footsteps behind her. In front of them stood an imperious-looking man in a long black leather coat, almost similarly dark skin, and piercing brown eyes. He stood with arms crossed and waited until they were a few feet in front of him

"Agent Laufy, Operative Jameson. Congratulations on a," She watched him pause and glance at James, "Mostly, successful mission."

James shifted his weight from one foot to another.

She should brief him on what happened and get his side of the story. It felt like something was incomplete. They were two pieces of a puzzle, it was strange being picked apart.

The Director spoke again, this time to her," I have a new mission for you, "He paused and folded his hands," Now due to your compromised physical position-"

She scowled. She was in peak condition," Director, if I may-"

"Agent Laufy I will not consider any pleas about your condition."

She pressed her lips together, catching James glancing at her out of the corner of her eye.

"As I was saying, "the Director sighed," due to Agent Laufy's physical position. This mission requires you to adapt to changing situations, adopt a persona and stick to it. No matter what the situation. We have prepared files on the people whom you will become."

A frizzled-looking old man appeared beside them and handed each Verena and James a folder. She nodded her thanks, studying him with a precise gaze. He looked like the opposite of everything the corporation was. If the corporation was a concrete block, this man was a crooked old tree covered in moss.

The Director continued, and Verena peeked at her file." Now, this mission is of the utmost secrecy. This is highly classified."

He just about drilled a hole through James' head with his eyes, "HIGHLY classified.”

James looked like he wanted to melt into the floor.

Verena looked at the director. He'd turned away from them and was fiddling with a screen. An organized contraption of translucent screens projected from the floor, tiled at an fourty-five degree angle a few feet off the floor, "I'll get Doctor Theodore to explain the rest to you. We'll reconvene in the morning, as this information may take some time to process. "He waved a hand at the man who'd handed them the files.

She felt James look at her instinctively and turn to meet his gaze, equally as confused.

Doctor Theodore rubbed his hands together and shuffled in front of them. Studying them for a moment. Then flapped his hands at them, "Go, go ahead and. Read those folders. First."

His sentences were in fragments. Like puzzle pieces that looked like they fit in one space, but had to move to another. Unsure and confident at the same time.

Verena looked down at her folder, tracing the corners with her finger. Her finger stopped at one side and gently opened it. James, who was now more comfortable that the director had left, settled himself on the ground and set his open on the floor.

She gave hers a quick skim and started to frown, "Doctor, why is this written like it from the eighteen hundreds?"

Theodore pressed his hands together and lifted his lips to them, then chuckled excitedly. "Exactly. Because. Because that is where you will be."

James let out some sort of strangled-sounding laugh from the ground. One that seemed filled with more excitement than pain. Like this news brought him joy. Instead of something close to fear.

Verena started at the doctor, "What do you mean?"

"Well," he started pacing," you see. You will be. Be, becoming these. People. Then you will be. Going back to the 1800s."

"That's impossible."

"Was. Was, impossible," Theodore smiled at her and she wasn't sure she liked seeing him smile about that.

She looked down at James, who seemed a mixture of mild curiosity and rapid confusion. Then turned back to her file.

It was laid out and outlined in a plan simple manner. Her full legal name  in bold across the top of one page. VANESSA LYNN PARKER. Under which described  basic facts that were the same as Verena's. Age, gender, hair colour, skin tone, height. Beside that lay a brief character synopsis.

The doctor reached over and tapped his finger over that section. "The character synopsis has been, kept brief. For the reason of. Imagination."

Verena closed her file," you want us to make stuff up."

Theodore waggled his head, "Imagination my dear agent, imagination."

James slid over to Verena, looking up at her, "Hey, this might be kind of cool."

The doctor smiled down at him, "You'll like this. Next part, then."

He pulled out a hologram device from his pocket and knelt by James, beckoning Verena to do the same. She watched his eyes sparkle like a child discovering magic.

The hologram lit up Verena's face with blue light as she peered at him. It displayed a strange-looking thing. She wasn't sure neither the scale nor classification of it. But going by the doctor's statement she'd find out any second now.

"Now this," Theodore was absorbing James' excited demeanor," is a time portal."

Verena started at him, almost overwhelmed with the need to laugh.

"Time travel is impossible," she spat

James turned wide eyes toward her.

The doctor chuckled," You keep getting. Your tenses mixed up wasn’t. Wasn't possible."

He continued despite Verena's blank gaze.

"Now, your. Mission. Is to go through this time portal, to the. The city outlined in your files. Of a country. That. Doesn't exist anymore." He paused," I'll let you retire and read. The rest. goodnight." He smiled brightly and strode away.

A few moments of silence filled the room. Broken only by an excited gasp from James.

Verena closed her file with a snap and turned her heel, "I'm going to bed."

James scrambled up," bed??? After the most exciting news of our life!"

Verena stated," That's highly debatable."

James pressed his lips together, "All alright. Goodnight grumpy frog woman."

Signing Verena stepped back onto the pedestal. It activated and the room faded from sight, "Night James, "

The last thing she saw was his hopeful green eyes.

The next morning Verena snatched the folder from the floor where it'd been flung. And marched out into the commons room.

The commons room was spacious, with smaller rooms branching off from it. It was many things. A buffet-style cafeteria, and a digital library(with a small physical library). Most of all, it was a community space within the Corporation.

Tucking the folder under her arm, she headed towards where she'd find James. Where he always was without fail every morning. The beverage table. Specifically with a donut in hand, beside the coffee machine.

VEE!" James already had another donut in his mouth.

She grunted and poured herself a cup of tea, watching him eye the folder in her arm, noting one under his.

"So uh, any more, maybe positive thoughts?" He inquired.

She sipped her tea and looked at him, "table."

He nodded" OK."

She let James lead the way toward their favorite table. Weaving around the buzzing occupants of the rest of this main space.

Their "table" was tucked in a little corner. It held a small and circular bench that was built into the wall and a circular table in the middle

James slides onto the bench, his coffee sloshing around violently in his cup. He plopped it on the table and slapped the folder down beside it.

"Ok, thoughts," He started to yawn. 

Verena narrowed her eyes at him, "You didn't stay up all night reading that did you?"

James made a show of looking everywhere but her.

"Maybe?"

"There's barely two pages in here."

"You never know what information is hiding in these sorta of things."

Once she finally sat, James tapped her file, which now sat on the table, "Stop stalling. Thoughts."

Verena stared at the drab yellow folder that beckoned her to open it. She stole a glance at James who was looking at her, eyebrows raised in expectation. She flicked it open. Scanning the writing within. It was still the same, a mission for them to go through some strange silly time portal.

She pressed her lips together, "I still think it impossible. I'd rather go kick some butt than go step through some, never before used, supposed, time portal."

James slid her file towards himself, "sounds rather negative, I said "positive. That being said, I'll take it."

She sipped her tea and watched him.

"Ooh very interesting," James chuckled, "you get to be a," he mockingly bowed to her, "Lady in waiting" "

"A lady in waiting is just a fancy word for high-ranking servant James."

"Hey, at least you're not a," he peered at his folder now, "well, basically I'm still your getaway driver. Just the 1800 version I guess."

That prodded a smile from Venera's lips.

The rest of the morning was spent awaiting further instructions for their departure. James informed Verena of every single word of information from his file.

Finally, their watchs buzzed in unison, which preceded a groan from Verena and a cheer from James.

"Let's go," Verena left her file on the table and stood. James swept both of their files up, skittering after her, "Let's Goooooo.!"

They met Doctor Theodore in a cement-covered room that felt like it was in the depths of the earth. It was drearily lit by old yellowed LEDs that dangled from the ceiling. Both agents had changed into period accurate wear provided by the Cooperation's highly skilled(and highly overworked, or so he complained,)resident tailor. Ones that must have been prepared months in advance.

Verena adjusted the skirt, it felt heavy, but at the same time, she felt protected. She decided it was from the many layers that made up the debacle. James stepped up next to her and smiled, looking her up and down

"You look nice."

She surveyed his new look," You look dapper."

Doctor Theodore was tinkering with the device. One she realized had been in the hologram that'd they seen. Verena finally had an idea of how it sized up, compared to the small projection. It took up most of the room, Nearly reaching the ceiling. The main part of the machine was a large circular frame. With a heavy base filled with wires, electrical bits and bobs.

And here they both stood, utterly out of place and time, like some horrid editing attempt

She imagined that the uncased chaos of wires and mix of present and past was how the doctor's brain looked.

As if summoned by her thoughts, the doctor, stepped through the circular piece of the device. Looking back at it as he did. Then he turned to them.

"What do you think?" He looked like a child showing his mother a scribbled school project.

"It's huge," James was entranced by the time portal, stepping closer.

Verena was less impressed, "and, a mess."

"An organized mess, " Theodore joined her.

"You built this down here, for, what must have been years. How did I not know?"

"It was highly, highly. classified. I was essentially. Prisoner down here." he chuckled, "almost went crazy."

Verena raised her eyebrows." almost?"

He drifted away to James, "almost."

James was now standing in the circular section of the portal. what Verena presumed to be the "doorway" or actual portal part. He put his hands on his hips and beamed at her." I must look so cool right now."

Verena shook her head," Always, James. Always.'

The doctor folded his hands, looking at them both sternly. ”Now. The Director said. I. Was supposed to, explain this. Mission, adventure, to you. This town holds. An important society that no longer exists today. You must make this society collapse and disappear. From history. Earlier than they did. To do this you only have to take out. One Target. It is in the file. You were given."

"So how does this thing turn on? Do we stand in here when you turn it on? Or do you turn it on and then we walk through? Or does it suck us in from where we're standing and we don't have to do anything?" James hit the doctor with a barrage of questions as he fiddled with a control panel near James.

The doctor rather patiently explained the answers. 

Verena dug out a stopwatch from her jacket. It was bronze and neatly clipped to the jacket with a chain. The stopwatch was a disguised version of the watches that every agent carried. James had been allowed to keep his watch, as it already fit the era. If one didn't study it too closely.

Hers looked like it'd be pulled from time itself. But with a twist of the small nob on the side, usually reserved for rewinding it. The analog clock faded and was replaced with a digital screen. Twisting the nob again reset it.

"Agent Verena, " the doctor beckoned her over," we are ready to begin the trip."

Out of the corner of her eye, she caught James fighting the urge to jump and clap his hands. Like an ecstatic five-year-old.

Theodore pressed a few odd-ended buttons and then placed his hand on a large lever. Similar to a throttle on a ship, then pulled it down. The Time portal started to buzz, it grew louder and then turned into a softer fizz.

The portal lit up in a blink of light. Beams emitting from exit points inside the circle and bouncing off the interior. Until there was a solid curtain of light inside it.

The Doctor gave them a thumbs up, and Verena looked at James. He smiled, then gave her hand a quick squeeze. " It'll be fine. Just like the movies!" Then pulled her closer. The portal bathed them in bright blue light, blinding them from seeing any other colour.

Verena held her breath, as James stepped into the portal. His existence in his time disappearing and pulling her into another.


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Sun Jun 02, 2024 2:27 pm
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goodolnoah wrote a review...



Image

Hello there, one of King Koopa’s loyal henchmen, here!

Hello again! ~ Writing Commentary

“Now, your. Mission. Is to go through this time portal”


The reveal that they have to go into a time portal to succeed in their mission is a super cool reveal! It makes me wonder what kind of true capability that this agency they are working for has!

They met Doctor Theodore in a cement-covered room that felt like it was in the depths of the earth. It was drearily lit by old yellowed LEDs that dangled from the ceiling. Both agents had changed into period accurate wear provided by the Cooperation's highly skilled(and highly overworked, or so he complained,)resident tailor. Ones that must have been prepared months in advance.


The room with the time machine really goes to give an idea how Doctor Theodore may have went mad trying to create a machine like this. It feels like a quiet prison hidden the darkness. Something that could make any man go insane, no matter how intelligent.

Verena adjusted the skirt, it felt heavy, but at the same time, she felt protected. She decided it was from the many layers that made up the debacle. James stepped up next to her and smiled, looking her up and down


It’s cool to imagine these characters essentially “regressing” their look. I like how you describe her skirt as “heavy” perhaps implying that it’s age means that it’s harder to get around in!

Some recommendations…

"Doctor, why is this written like it from the eighteen hundreds?"


I think you mean “Doctor, why is this written like it’s from the eighteen-hundreds?”

"Well," he started pacing," you see. You will be. Be, becoming these. People. Then you will be. Going back to the 1800s."


I wanted to make a little section here to talk about the way Doctor Theodore speaks here. I assume your intention was to make him seem even more eccentric by the way he talks. Like “puzzle pieces”. I think the statement here is fine!

His sentences were in fragments. Like puzzle pieces that looked like they fit in one space, but had to move to another. Unsure and confident at the same time.


I think it would be okay to keep this statement about the way he talks, but fix the grammar of his sentences. I am unsure if it’s because I’m a fellow writer which are by nature, grammar police, but the way he speaks is more distracting than endearing. I actually think he’d sound better with his sentences restructured with normal grammar. When they are scattered, it sort of sets off a “false alarm” in my brain that says “BAD GRAMMAR, BAD GRAMMAR!” Hence, it’s a distraction for me because I am only focusing on the grammar aspects, and not what he’s saying.

If you really wanted to keep his sentences like that, consider adding a real “pause” by using what I henceforth deem the “three dots method”! They would look like this, instead!

"Well," he started pacing," you see…You will be…Becoming these…People. Then you will be going back to the 1800s."


If you are to do this option instead, I would opt for the important parts of his statements to be fully legible sentences so the reader understands the important reveals here.

Sorry for the word salad here, this suggestion is all my opinion, but I figured I should leave my recommendations. You are the writer, so the decision is in your hands!

Verena closed her file," you want us to make stuff up."


I think you mean “Verena closed her file, “you want us to make stuff up?”

I say this because Theodore in the next line seems like he’s answering a question.

James scrambled up," bed??? After the most exciting news of our life!"


You might simply want to rephrase this as “bed? After the most exciting news of our life?”

Since James says “bed?” first, it would make sense for the next sentence to be a question as opposed to a statement. I would also refrain from using multiple punctuation on a sentence, as it may look a bit sloppy or unprofessional. I usually make it a point to avoid “text-like” speech during my writing!

James pressed his lips together, "All alright. Goodnight grumpy frog woman."


I don’t think there’s any need to have all alright before “alright”.

Love and…Time! ~ Story Commentary

For all my statements about the Doctor, I do really think he is an interesting character! Thus far, you’ve done a good job at adding new and interesting traits to every new character I’ve come across! The mysterious agents, eccentric doctor, and of course, our main protags, which have an electric dynamic!

Back to the past… ~ Closer

The doctor folded his hands, looking at them both sternly. ”Now. The Director said. I. Was supposed to, explain this. Mission, adventure, to you. This town holds. An important society that no longer exists today. You must make this society collapse and disappear. From history. Earlier than they did. To do this you only have to take out. One Target. It is in the file. You were given."


A society that no longer exists today? I wonder how this is important to the agency, and how will them only having one target cause them trouble? Will they get trapped in the past? I am excited to see where their quest brings them!




LadyMysterio says...


Hi Noah! Thank you for the review! I appreciate your thoughts on the Doctor, I wasn't quite sure how it'd come across to the reader so that's good to know. It works for me because I know what he sounds like in my head (if you look up Kang the Conquerer from the Loki series, that's who I too inspo from for his voice) however it's important to know how people who have no references for his voice interpret it!



goodolnoah says...


Ahhh, ive seen the Loki series! If I were to translate Kang's voice into words I could see it as being more drug out, lol.



LadyMysterio says...


oooh ok!



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Mon May 27, 2024 1:52 pm
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vampricone6783 wrote a review...



Hello there, human! I'm reviewing using the YWS S'more Method today!

Shalt we commence with the mutated S’more?

Top Graham Cracker - Time travel is suddenly possible! Verena and James must time travel to the 1800s to get rid of a super secret society, but how so?

Slightly Burnt Marshmallow - I think that you meant to put a period after “spat”, but that’s one little thing.

Chocolate Bar - TIME TRAVEL?! That’s so…that’s so cool! I didn’t expect that to happen, but I can’t wait to see what they’ll do! I like how James is so positive about the whole thing, whereas Verena is more wary. Hopefully they won’t get into trouble…but I doubt it…

Closing Graham Cracker - James and Verena are time-traveling to the 1800s, where they will be on a mission to dismantle a society. They’ll experience troubles that only existed back then…and they’ll have to try their best not to blow their cover.

I wish you an amazing day/night! ^v^




LadyMysterio says...


Hii thank you so much for your feedback and review!!



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Mon May 27, 2024 4:58 am
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Spearmint wrote a review...



Hi hi Lady! It's mint, here to leave a quick review. :> So, overall thoughts first: the plot and pacing of your story are excellent! And who doesn't enjoy a good time traveling adventure? I also enjoyed reading the dialogue and the interactions between your characters. The main critique I have would be related to grammar, which I'll expand on later!

So, on to specifics...

She awoke sat in a chair. Interrogated shortly, and then dragged over to watch James awake. Through some sort of hidden window.

Just a couple of grammar things here! In the first sentence, it should be "sitting" instead of "sat". The second two sentences are fragments, so typically they wouldn't be able to stand alone. One possible rephrasing could be: "She was interrogated shortly, and then was dragged over to watch James awaken through some sort of hidden window." More info on sentence fragments: https://www.grammar-monster.com/glossar ... agment.htm

If the corporation was a concrete block, this man was a crooked old tree covered in moss.

Love this description so much XD It's very creative and also gives the reader an idea of what the man is like!

He just about drilled a hole through James' head with his eyes, "HIGHLY classified.”

James looked like he wanted to melt into the floor.

PFFT James is my favorite character.

Then flapped his hands at them, "Go, go ahead and. Read those folders. First."

Oh the way you write Doctor Theodore's dialogue is very interesting! I can tell you give a lot of thought to your characters and their mannerisms, and that is wonderful. :]

Verena closed her file," you want us to make stuff up."

Theodore waggled his head, "Imagination my dear agent, imagination."

James slid over to Verena, looking up at her, "Hey, this might be kind of cool."

The doctor smiled down at him, "You'll like this. Next part, then."

Your dialogue is also awesome and fun! The formatting of this section feels a little repetitive though, since it's an action followed by dialogue four times. (Sorry, this is very nitpicky lol.) Also, if it's an action, it should be a separate sentence, because of pesky English grammar rules. So, "Verena closed her file," you want us to make stuff up."" would be "Verena closed her file. "You want us to make stuff up.""

The doctor chuckled," You keep getting. Your tenses mixed up wasn’t. Wasn't possible."

Heh this is such a perfect response.

James pressed his lips together, "All alright. Goodnight grumpy frog woman."

HAHAH

Finally, their watchs buzzed in unison, which preceded a groan from Verena and a cheer from James.

"Let's go," Verena left her file on the table and stood. James swept both of their files up, skittering after her, "Let's Goooooo.!"

Their reactions are so much in contrast with each other that it adds to the humor. XD

And here they both stood, utterly out of place and time, like some horrid editing attempt

!! Another great simile. :]

She imagined that the uncased chaos of wires and mix of present and past was how the doctor's brain looked.

Also excellent commentary by Verena. Your details and dialogue make your characters all feel vivid and alive.

Verena held her breath, as James stepped into the portal. His existence in his time disappearing and pulling her into another.

Wheeeee time travel!!

Thanks for sharing this story, Lady! It was a delight to read, and I shall review the others soon. :] Have a wonderful day/night! ^^




LadyMysterio says...


Ahh thank you so much mint!! And thank you for the Grammer details. I always miss those rules >.> so thank you for your expertise!

I don't mind nitpicky! Nitpicky means that there's not much to pick on so I get the details picked hehehe.



Spearmint says...


my pleasure! <3
and haha yes exactly XDD :D



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Thu May 23, 2024 4:39 am
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Spearmint says...



Verena narrowed her eyes at him, "You didn't stay up all night reading that did you?"

James made a show of looking everywhere but her.

"Maybe?"

"There's barely two pages in here."

XDD

Can't wait to review these this weekend! :3




LadyMysterio says...


Ahh thank you!!




The very worst use of time is to do very well what need not be done at all.
— Benjamin Tregoe