Taggart walked down the corridor with Talbot toward the prefabricated laboratory in the rear of the building, which had once been the gym for the police officers. He stood nearly a head taller than the scientist, with his close-cropped graying hair. Three stars adorned his green Army dress uniform, and a few medals were positioned on his chest opposite his nametag and a badge with a bar code on it. He slid that badge through a reader on the outside of the plastic wall of the lab, and stepped inside with Talbot.
Once they were out of hearing range of the two young men, Talbot finally spoke. “Do you really believe their story, sir?”
Taggart turned to watch the two as they seemingly argued outside the room the two had been questioned in. “Honestly? I don’t believe a word of it. But I’ve heard stranger stories from more reliable stories. So until we receive proof otherwise, treat what they’ve told us as fact. It’s all we have to go on.” The General stuck his hands in the pockets of his pants, then pulled out an unlit pipe. He didn’t put anything inside it, just holding it in his teeth.
Talbot took his glasses off, wiping them clean on his labcoat. “What about paying them? Are we really going to?”
Taggart nodded. “We can keep them on in an advisory position as long as we might need to ask them questions. Pay them a stipend for lost income and whatever travel and food expenses they might incur. They seem willing enough, and nothing in their background checks came up as red flags. Just a couple of teenagers with a crazy, but possibly true story for now.
Talbot watched the two as the one named Colin smacked Dwayne on the shoulder to emphasize something he said. “What if they turn out to be right? What if she really is some kind of super-powered magical alien? I read whatever I could about that race he spoke about.” Talbot nodded toward Dwayne. “If any of it’s true, she’s more than a match for our soldiers. And our preliminary analysis of the metal shavings we managed to collect from the car is coming back a completely unknown metal that would far surpass anything we can create in both strength and lightness.”
Taggart’s eyebrows went up. “Speaking of samples, I want to know everything you do about anything we can collect from her.” He frowned. “If it’s even a her.”
Talbot nodded and motioned toward one of the tables. “I arranged all our findings so far here.” He moved toward the table, and Taggart moved to the other side, turning a few papers around so he could read them. “This is what we’ve managed to gather so far. The energy in her blood is a previously unrecorded radioactive signature that we only got the faintest of glimpses of before it faded. And that’s all we know about it. We don’t know if it’s dangerous, the wavelength, or even the strength. It was there, and then it was gone. It would seem that whatever it is comes from her body, and fades quickly when removed. I suppose If we got a fresher sample we could learn more about it, but that would require finding her first.”
Taggart nodded, then began reading through the report on the metal. “So we have nothing like this on Earth?”
“No sir. It comes off a bit like Titanium, but it’s molecular structure is very different. The samples we collected had an incredibly high tensile strength, and needed almost twice the heat that Titanium does to melt down. And she’s wearing a suit of it that we believe is anywhere from a quarter of an inch to half an inch thick.”
Taggart looked up, surprised. “That’s thicker than we have on some tanks!”
Talbot nodded. “I’m aware, sir. But as you can see… Where is it…” He fumbled around in his pockets for a moment before he pulled out a remote, and pointed it at one of the computers on a table nearby. It beeped on, and then an image was projected on a screen hanging from the side of the lab. “As you can see, judging from the images we collected, and gauging the width of her armor based on her height and the Humans around her, it seems to be half an inch thick on her shoulderplates, and as thin as a quarter of an inch on her hands, where the gloves give way to leather.”
Taggart stood in a position known as “parade rest” as he listened to Talbot. “There seems to be some sort of paint on it, as the metal we recovered was silver, but what she’s wearing is blue. You can even see some scratch marks on the paint where the armor shows through. These shine, meaning either the metal oxidizes, or it has some kind of coating on it to provide it with a matte finish. Presumably for stealth of some kind.”
“Or she just doesn’t want to blind people around her.” Taggart looked at Talbot and raised his eyebrow.
“Er… yes, sir. But from the information I gathered from the website, the Night Elves lived in forests and deep wilderness. They were mostly nocturnal, excellent archers, and guerilla fighters.”
The General frowned and looked over the image. “That probably explains how she escaped from police and still hasn’t been found, then. We couldn’t even pick up a trail after the first hundred feet, even with K-9 units.”
Talbot nodded. “We were also able to tell from the video,” Talbot hit a button on the remote, and the image began to play, revealing that it was the cell phone video recovered from YouTube, and Taggart held out his hand.
“Wait. You’re telling me that this video is the one we recovered from YouTube?” Talbot nodded, and Taggart put a hand on his chin. “Damn. I didn’t know cell phone cameras were that good.”
The scientist smiled. “Well, we did have a video tech touch it up quite a bit. Sharpened it and brought the colors out more. Anything to learn more about the subject. As you ordered, sir.”
Taggart nodded. “Right.”
Talbot let the video play until the camera lost the Elf in the treeline, then rewound the footage and let it loop. “She ran at a top speed of very nearly fourty miles an hour. Which is nearly twice the fastest speed that a Human can achieve. And she did that in armor that we guess might weigh as much as sixty pounds.”
Taggart looked to Talbot, his expression unbelieving. “There’s no way.”
“The video doesn’t lie, sir.” Talbot froze the video on an image of the elf’s face, her large dark scar dominating it. “Whatever she is, video game, elf, or something else, she’s definitely not anything we’ve ever dealt with before, sir.”
Taggart frowned and nodded. “That is probably the most factual thing you’ve told me all day.” He turned toward the image, staring at the face captured in it, and brought his hand to his chin to think.
Dwayne stepped out of the room after the General and scientist walked off toward the back of the station, Colin following right after him. “I really don’t think this is a good idea, dude.” He turned to his friend.
Colin shot him a look. “They’re going to pay us, man. And being here when we very well might make First Contact is totally worth missing school for. I mean, you’re failing anyway so what do you have to lose?”
Dwayne frowned and watched the two older men disappear through a doorway, then leaned up against the wall. “But something about those two doesn’t sit well with me, man. They’re probably going to capture her and do all kinds of crazy experiments on her and shit. She’ll die. Or something.”
Colin stepped out into the hallway in front of Dwayne, then turned to face him. He poked him in the shoulder. “Why do you even care? It’s not like you’re her friend or something. Just take the money, tell them whatever they want to know, and shut up. She’s some elf or something from another world.”
Dwayne just shrugged his shoulders. “It wouldn’t be right, man. I still think we shouldn’t be a part of this.”
Colin slapped Dwayne on the shoulder with the back of his hand. “Oh, if you’re going to whine about how they’re going to treat her, you go find her! And I’ll stay here and get paid to do nothing.”
Dwayne smirked a bit then, making Colin lean back a bit. “If I leave, then what use are you? I’m the one that knows all the information.”
Colin huffed, thinking. “Then… I’ll go read the wiki! Like you did.”
“That scientist already did that. You’d be nothing to them. You didn’t even really play WC3, man.” He said ‘WC3′ as “Wee-see-three”. “You don’t know any of the story, or what they can do, or anything.”
Colin finally seemed defeated. “Fine. But at least give it a few days! See if they come up with anything. If they treat her like shit, we can protest or something. But at least take the money for a few days.”
“Fine. But the first time they start shooting at people, or someone gets stabbed by that bigass sword she was carrying, I’m fucking gone.”
Colin laughed. “Fair enough, man.”