“This is stupid,” Caroline Masters, PhD muttered.

“Unless it works,” her brother, Louis, smirked. “Then it’s genius.”

She shook her head as they watched the two young men adjust pieces of alien technology. “Two of the smartest students in the world, alien technology we’re only beginning to understand, and it’s all reduced to a testosterone drive display of machismo.”

“This might be the only way. The tech seems to respond to emotions. We need heightened emotions, but we also need focus. Anger solves both those problems.”

“Both components are showing active energy signatures,” Nuriko said, timidly. Caroline just glared at her.

“I want to thank you, Nuriko,” Lois sad, glaring in turn at his sister. “I know you didn’t like manipulating your fellow interns, but it was necessary.”

Caroline snorted. “That remains to be seen.” The entire thing was degrading to everyone involved.

“They won’t… hurt each other, will they?” Nuriko asked.

“Nah,” Louis said, waving a hand dismissively. “The guns should respond to intent. Neither one of them wants to hurt the other that much. It should sting, but no permanent damage.”

“But what if they mess up construction, or we misunderstood how the guns work? There’s so much we don’t know.”

Louis gave her a toothy grin. “That’s why there’s an ionized field between them. Nothing they shoot is going to hit the other one in the first place.”

Nuriko sighed, and turned her attention back to the duel. Kuro had all the pieces in place. All he needed was to assemble the casing around them. Robert wasn’t doing as well. His workbench was covered with scraps of alien tech, and only a few components were assembled in front of him.

“They’re going to hate me,” she whispered to herself. She didn’t want to lead them on. She wasn’t even sure she liked men that way.

“Nothing buys forgiveness like fame and fortune,” Louis said. “We’re going to be in every scientific journal on the planet.”

“I’ll make sure both men know the entire thing was my brother’s idiotic idea,” Caroline said, thinking that Nuriko didn’t seem terribly convinced by this. “And we’ll gloss over the details of this… experiment. I don’t think the entire scientific community needs to know that we’re running our lab like a soap opera.”

Louis laughed. “Could be a way to get next year’s funding.”

With a cry of triumph, Kuro stood, a completed alien blaster in hand. He pointed it at Robert…

And vanished.

Louis stopped mid-laugh. “That… wasn’t supposed to happen.”

“Huh,” Caroline said, staring at the spot where Kuro had been a moment ago. “Their teleporters must be based on the same technology as their guns. Nuriko, do an energy scan. Let’s see if we can figure out where Kuro ended up.”

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