The Bite Mobile slowed to a hover above ANOS’s parking lot. Peter and Holly slowly lowered down to the asphalt. When their feet touched the ground, his harness detached in a quick series of snaps and clicks. It retracted up into the chassis, then the mushroom-shaped craft clunked on to the pavement, its thrusters darkening with a descending whine.
“So this is the real you.” Peter put his hands on his hips and gave Kor’Thank a thorough once-over.
“Define ‘real.’ ” Kor’Thank said.
“Wh…what happened? Where am I?” Holly cupped her temple, struggling to process the heaps of corpses littered the parking lot. She turned her uncomprehending gaze onto the barbarian troop sitting astride a pack of seven-foot tall dinosaurs.
“Sleep,” Wodec proclaimed. A bright blue twinkle shown from his totemic staff. Holly’s eyes rolled back in her head and she collapsed in place. Peter caught her and looked at Eun, who was still in the Bite Mobile’s future-cool cockpit.
“Can you take her home?” he asked.
The craft went through a Michael Bay-worthy transformation, turning from a mushroom-mecha into a sleek-ass car. Eun leaned out from the driver-side seat, arm resting slightly outside the rolled-down window. A rear-seat door folded up.
Kor’Thank walked up to Holly and grabbed her feet, helping Peter carry her into the car. Once she was in, the gull-wing door folded down. Peter tapped the roof with the flat of his palm.
“See you at the house.”
After the Bite Mobile turned a corner, the barbarian king glanced at Peter Lee.
They both spoke at the same time: “This was—” and then broke out laughing. “You first,” Peter lifted an open-palmed hand.
Kor’Thank shook his head and spread his arms. “Come here, you crazy motherfucker.” Peter stepped in and embraced the king clapping him soundly on the center of his back.
“Always thought this would be weird.” Peter stepped away, regarding the king with a critical eye. “Seeing you in your true form. But it’s not. Not in the slightest.”
“Peter.” Kor’Thank shot him with a beaming grin. “You’ve already seen my true form. This—” he ran a hand up and down his hulking body, “this is just a shell.”
Wodec piped up: “We are simply ideas, projected through a temporary configuration of matter and light.”
Kor’Thank nodded at his High Mage. “That we are, that we are.” He turned back to Peter. “Hanging out with you and Eun was the craziest, most rewarding experience I’ve ever fucking had.”
Wodec brought his crystal-tipped staff close to his face and breathed lightly onto the craggy rock. It lit with an inner glow that was dim at first, then brightened into a steady, pulsing flare. At the same time, a ball of light sizzled into existence fifty yards to the mage’s front, bouncing inward before it dilated into a hypnagogic portal.
Peter’s eyes welled with moisture. He tried to speak, but his voice roughened with emotion. He tried to disguise it by coughing into his fist. “Will you…” he paused and gathered himself. “Will you ever come back? Or is this the…is this the last I’ll—”
Kor’Thank led his velociraptor toward the gyrating portal and looked over his shoulder. “Peter Lee. You of all people should know that we’ll reunite, somewhere, some when. Everything old is new again.”
“Goodbye, Kora.” Peter’s voice was tight with emotion. “Don’t be a stranger.”
Kor’Thank paused as the rest of his troop marched into the portal, slipping into its dissolute center. The barbarian king held Peter’s gaze for a long, hanging moment.
“I’ll see you soon.”
Then he entered the gateway, dissolving into the infinity from whence he came.