By 9:30 PM (Central Time), most of the dayshift had been recalled to monitor the increasing number of trans-dimensional disruptions. For, while Thunder Child had abandoned her flat bow for her harpoon (using it like a quarterstaff, while trying to impale MarySue/Mai with it), other self-proclaimed GTS-goddesses had begun popping up!
In Canada, there were two of them fighting at the parallel of fifty-four degrees/forty minutes north. One claiming to be Dame Antonia Banfield (representing a Great Britain that had permanently reconquered the U.S. during the War of 1812). And, another claiming to be Dona Ynez Santiago (representing a Spain that had never lost the colonies of Mexico and California).
In China, Lady Shiori of the Black Dragon Society fought Li Rong Niu of the Lin Kuei Tong over a Hong Kong they both apparently believed had never fallen to the British in the First Opium War!
And, on the Eurasian steppes of Russia, a giant female Cossack called Valentina was trying to keep a neo-Nazi German giantess, Johanna Schmidt, west of the Volga River.
"Where the frig are they all coming from?!" Scott Chelgren exclaimed at the top of his lungs. Partly in frustration; and partly to be heard above the clamor of the klaxons that had to be repeatedly turned off after each new disruption activated them.
"Sir!" shouted Sadako (instinctively raising her right hand): "I think this might answer your question."
Scott ran over to her console.
"What am I looking at?"
"I finally managed to trace the t-d energy residue from the first disruption. It's coming from a telecommunications satellite in geosynchronous orbit above Alice Springs, Australia. And, sir? Get a load of its audiovisual feed!"
Scott shook his head in disbelief: "Am I seeing what I think I'm seeing?"
Sadako grimly nodded: "Yes, sir. These are images from an MMORPG called 'Sizecraft.' And, it appears some of the players, currently on-line, have chosen GTS-goddesses as avatars!"
"Yeah," muttered Scott: "Only the avatars seem to have been magically imposed on their real-world bodies!"
* * * * *
Meanwhile, in Canberra, Australia (where it was approximately thirty-four hours later), Ray Venn carefully descended the stairway from the roof of the shrunken factory. He finally reached the bottom step, and began to slowly proceed down a painted gray corridor.
He emerged into a vast storage area. An industrial-strength attic, as it were, with nothing but large packing crates as far as he could see. And, each crate was filled with gaming cartridges marked "Sizecraft."
Twelve gross per crate (according to the black lettering on the exteriors)!
Suddenly, he heard a nearby freight elevator start up. And, if he judged the Doppler effect, correctly, it was ascending to this floor! So, he swiftly ducked behind the biggest, farthest-back crate he could find. His left hand quickly-yet-quietly unzipping his jacket. And, his right hand already grasping the butt of the Model 39.
He heard the elevator stop, and its wooden door hauled upward. This was followed by the sounds of two pairs of feet...and a forklift tractor.
"Where are these going, again?" asked the driver.
There was the sound of paper rustling, as someone evidently checked a clipboard.
"Says here: 'Black Mountain Academy via University of North Carolina (Asheville).' Must be some sort of prep school."
"On this Earth, or the other one?" inquired a third voice.
More paper rustling: "The other one."
"OK!" said the driver: "Which one do I get first?"
"Might as well go sequentially," replied the second voice: "The serial number at the top of my list is...that one! Right against the back wall."
Whereupon, the forklift began heading for Ray's hiding place.