A Transdimensional
              Portal HUZZAH!

  by Van © 2021




By a remarkable stroke of luck, The Spirit of Sky Woman popped back into her home dimension—with an dazzling BLUE FLASHand less than four nautical miles off the bow of HBMAS Cataphract.  The fearsome warship was a Romia-class armored battle cruiser, one of Brittania's newer and most notable contributions to the Grand Alliance Combined Air Fleet.  That meant Sky Woman appeared in full view of Cataphract's Captain, bridge crew, and fire control watch standers, all of whom were in the middle of a battle drill.  With such credible witnesses, there could be no reasonable doubt that Bonnie and George had, indeed, appeared out of nowhere.

The next day, Special Editions of newspapers across the Grand Alliance and all of Luropa had banner headlines announcing the joyous news:

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Bonfilia Plantuckett & Hon. Georgetta Congreve


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Exploration Ship The Spirit of Sky Woman

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Dragon-Riding Ginger Amazons
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By the next day, the rest of the world's newspapers had caught up.

An Admiralty Court of Inquiry was convened, but Bonnie and George had foreseen such an occurrence and had already prepared photographic exhibits documenting the existence of the Dearg and their dimension, and had solicited written affidavits from Mac, Queen Epona, and the Dearg Guild Leaders.  As with all such proceedings, Sky Woman's meticulously kept logs were submitted to close scrutiny.  And it certainly didn't hurt that they had already agreed to repay any insurance settlements that had already been made to their families and commercial interests.  The court quickly cleared the adventurers of any and all wrongdoing and the celebrations began in earnest!

Personal letters to Mac's family and friends had already been delivered.  And formal presentation of the official Dearg letters and gifts to the Grand Alliance government had already occurred.  In depth newspaper interviews were granted, and there was a highly popular exhibition of the "expedition's" photographs and Dearg artifacts at the Britannic Museum.  Bonnie gave public lectures and George delivered academic symposia.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Bonnie and George underwent extensive interviews/debriefings with mid-level government officials, and a technical examination was conducted of the Transdimensional Ansible.  Amazingly, the communications device functioned even when enclosed in a Faraday Cage designed to block all electromagnetic energy!  Clearly, neither radio waves nor any other known form of electromagnetism was involved!  Finally, even their most skeptical critics agreed that if Bonnie and George were perpetrating a fraud, it was being done by means beyond the bounds of known science.
Jamie Rose as...
Jamie Rose
Prof. Jenetta Rierdon, DPhil
Marg Helgenberger as...
Prof. Moira Starling, DPhil

It was agreed by the governments on both ends of the Ansible that Sky Woman would make a return visit to the Dearg Realm in five years, and two famous female scientists volunteered to make the trip and remain behind until the third visit.  They would be official ambassadors to the Dearg Crown, conduct research, and share Grand Alliance knowledge with their new "Transdimensional Friends."  Also, both had passed George's "Ansible Test."

While developing the communications device, George had discovered that while she felt absolutely nothing when the prototype Ansible was activated, any Dearg human who touched the metal casing felt a distinctive tingling sensation, as did Mac.  George posited the Ansible might serve as a detector of Grand Alliance women who might be able to "telepathically commune" with Dearg dragons (as Mac could).

And it was probably no coincidence that both future ambassadors were ginger redheads with fair, freckle-prone complexions, and green eyes (also like Mac).  The ambassadors in question were: Jenetta Rierdon, Doctor of Philosophy, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Dublin's Hibernian Technological University; and Moira Starling, Doctor of Philososphy, Professor of Chemistry at Edinburgh University in Caledonia.  Both 50-something women were physically fit and quite attractive.  Bonnie and George were convinced they'd get along famously with the Dearg.

With the help of their fellow faculty and scholars from across the Grand Alliance, the Professors were organizing and prioritizing avenues of research, as well as selecting books they intended to present to their Dearg hosts.  Also, Bonnie and George were meeting with Jenetta and Moira, whenever their collective responsibilities allowed, to teach them the Dearg language.  Of course, if George's "Ansible Telepathic Detector" theory was correct, the dragons would help the ambassadors "learn" the language almost instantly (as Una had with Mac), but it was best to be prepared.

Bonnie and George each wrote a book (just as George had predicted), and as prearranged with Mac before their return, they cowrote a third book based on copies of Mac's journal and notes and bearing all three partners' names.  (The royalties from the third book went to Mac's family, of course.)  All three books were instant international bestsellers.

Also, and quite independent of anything Bonnie and George might be doing, "Dragon Mania" swept the Grand Alliance, taking the form of stuffed toys, children's picture books, Young Adult novels, Music Hall songs, and a handful of rather forgettable operas.  There were even dramatic plays with pantomime dragons onstage!  Seemingly overnight, variations on the theme of The Adventures of Mac and Una became a cultural phenomenon.  Every little girl, especially the little gingers, wanted to wear a "Mac" costume (with a stuffed Una perched on her shoulder or tucked under her arm) while trick-or-treating on the next Samhain holiday.  Dragon motifs entered the world of fashion and decorating, with dragon-shaped hats, dragon-print fabrics, dragon wallpaper, and dragon-carved furnishings.  Dragon-shaped teapots were especially popular.

In short, Bonnie and George were more famous than ever, Mac (and Una) were now famous as well, and the Grand Alliance was not at all concerned about the parallel world the adventurers had discovered.  The Dearg weren't a military threat, their dragons were friendly, and large scale trade and/or exploitation across the Blue Barrier was impossible.  The Grand Alliance collectively decided to grant the Dearg the status of a romantic curiosity, sort of like fairies, only more real.


Meanwhile, on the Dearg side of the BLUE BARRIER...

Mac's name and her story were already famous among her adopted people, but now she was coming to know them.

First came learning.  Mac regularly took two or three weeks off from consulting with the Guilds (especially the Artisans), and, carried by Una, of course, traveled from village to town, staying in the homes of distinguished artisans and respected farmers thanks to the arrangements of the various Guild Leaders.  For the first time, Mac met Dearg men, who were fit and athletic, like Dearg women, as well as handsome.  This wasn't really a surprise, as Mac had already learned that all Dearg of both sexes who were physically able served at least some time in the Legions.  The men tended to favor short hair and full beards.  Some were burly, some slender, and all were friendly.

Mac and Una made regular returns to Sliabh Baile for visits/consultations with Epona, Mæn, and the Guild Leaders, and eventually Mac announced she wanted to serve a tour with one of the Legions.  Una agreed, declaring that she couldn't become a Legendary Scout Dragon if her Rider wasn't a qualified Legionnaire.  Dragons might be conscientious objectors with respect to human bloodshed, but adventurous male and small female dragons were more than willing to drop human scout detachments behind enemy lines and participate in long-range patrols and reconnaissance missions.

Neither Epona nor Mæn were enthusiastic about what they considered Una's "adolescent fascination" with the Scout Dragon mystique, but they understood Mac's desire to fit in.  Every Dearg served at least one tour in the Legions, then became reservists until they reached the age of fifty.  If Mac was going to be Dearg, she'd have to serve her time.  Mac began exercising with the First Legion while Queen Epona and Brigadier Caradoc decided the best course of action.

Recruit training is integrated into each and every Legion, rather than being centralized, as it is in the Grand Alliance military.  With few exceptions, Dearg Legions are organized as full integrated units with infantry, scouting/special forces, artillery, engineer, logistics, and training cohorts, and are able to operate independently if required.  In short, each and every Legion is a small, self-contained army.  Also, all Legionnaires are infantry, fully qualified to fight in formation with spear, sword, and shield; and all officers are promoted from the ranks, without exception.  Even "princess" Danu had had to prove her worth in the First Legion before being promoted to the exalted rank of Subaltern.

Finally, the decision was made for Mac to join the Fifth Legion on the Boghadubha border.  Una could tag along if she wanted—and, of course, she most emphatically did—and would be allowed to hang out with Fifth Legion scout dragons and learn their tricks and techniques.  It wasn't unknown for a young Rider to enter Legion training.  Generally, his or her Dragon Companion would seek employment with one of the companies providing logistical support for his or her Rider's Legion.

There was another reason Epona, Mæn, and Caradoc sent Mac to the Fifth:  Both Mac and Una needed experience in a mixed-gender Dearg unit.  Mac agreed.  Granted, Mac had experience with men, but was only just beginning to interact with Dearg men.

In summary, Mac was doing her best to find her place in Dearg society, and Dearg society was making her welcome.


Meanwhile, on the Grand Alliance side of the BLUE BARRIER...

In addition to formal discussions of Dearg society and instruction in their spoken and written language, George was emphatic that Professors Rierdon and Starling needed exposure (so to speak) to the cultural realities of their future hosts.  That is, the distinguished academics needed to become comfortable with the Dearg "causal attitude" regarding fashion.  Male and female, in their daily lives the Dearg showed a lot more skin than was acceptable among the nations of the Grand Alliance (not counting the Iroquoia outside the major cities).

Bonnie professed she have no idea why her partner was so obsessed with bare skin—which put George in a protracted dither (as Bonnie had intended)—but, she had a solution to the supposed problem: George and the professors should book a month at a naturalist resort in the country (meaning one of those scandalously risqué nudist colonies).  George reacted as expected, then realized her grinning partner was teasing.  Actually, it was a clever tactic on Bonnie's part, as it made it much easier for George to accept Bonnie's fallback proposal: a week at a conventional health spa.

The Professors readily agreed.  They were well aware of the Dearg's more casual attitude towards nudity, and had already become reconciled to dressing in mid-thigh-length belted tunics (or less).

Plans were made, but unfortunately Bonnie couldn't participate.  She was called away at the last moment on urgent and unspecified business by the Britannic Home Office.  George, Jenetta, and Moira would have to brave the wilds of Somerset and luxuriate in the hot springs of the famous Romian Bath Resort without the pleasure of her company.  There was every hope that Bonnie would be able to join them later.  They'd just have to wait and see.

The Grand Alliance had made funds available to support planning for the Second Expedition, meaning Sky Woman's return to the Dearg dimension.  After all, the professors would be acting as official government representatives; however, the money wasn't much.  Bonnie and George's Honorable Trans Junn-Junn Trading Company was also contributing, so George decided to splurge and commandeer one of the HTJ-JTC's small Skylark-class airships.  The plan was to travel from Londinium to Edinburgh to retrieve Professor Starling—from Edinburgh to Dublin for Professor Rierdon—then continue on to the resort in the green forests and rolling hills of Somerset.

All went as planned (at first).  There was a scheduled crew change at Dublin, then the airship got underway for the final leg of the journey. 

George, Jenetta, and Moira were ensconced in the airship's small but comfortable lounge, making idle conversation in rudimentary Dearg, with George correcting their grammar and enlarging their vocabularies, of course.  They were all getting along famously, and George complimented the professors' stylish traveling ensembles, an olive-green and rust traveling dress on Jeanette, with matching hat and gloves, of course, and a dark jade and ivory dress on Moira, also with matching hat and gloves.  George's traveling dress was navy.

As the rugged hills of the Hibernian/Britannic border country rolled by below, a smiling attendant in HTJ-JTC uniform served tea and biscuits... and the conversation continued... briefly.

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George opened her eyes... blinked several times... focused on her surroundings... and scowled.

"Oh, stuff and bother!" she huffed.

George was sitting in a rather uncomfortable wooden chair with armrests, footrests, and a headrest.  There was padding, but clearly the chair hadn't been designed with the comfort of its occupant in mind.  Thick, wide, brown leather restraints with double-tongued brass buckles encircled George's neck, wrists, upper-arms, waist, thighs, and ankles, pinning her in place.  Except for the collar, all the straps were tight enough to dimple her flesh.  Yes, that's right: flesh!  George had been stripped naked!  Her navy traveling dress, just in from Paris, was gone!  And it had been brand new, and in the latest shade of navy!  Her undergarments were also missing.  All of them!  George was naked!

And that wasn't all!  Professors Reirdon and Starling were also present, also naked, and also restrained!

Jenette and Moira, the 50-something (or possibly ever-so-slightly older) professors in question, were hanging from their wrists, arms-over-head, with their wrists and ankles buckled in thick, wide cuffs obviously designed to distribute the pressure of the wearers' predicaments as widely as possible and thereby minimize discomfort and damage to their skin.  George already knew her new friends and colleagues in future transdimensional adventure were quite beautiful, and she also knew they were accomplished equestrians.  So, it was hardly surprising to learn that their bodies were every bit as fit, toned, athletic, and curvaceous as their former clothing had strongly suggested, but it was still a shock to see such pulchritudinous and distinguished academics hanging like two naked slabs of meat!

The professors were also gagged!  Brown leather harnesses with brass buckles caged their heads and fixed wooden dowels between their teeth, like bits!  They had no choice but to bite down on the dowels and drool!  Saliva emerged from the corners of their mouths, dripped down their chins, and splashing onto their chests and breasts!  It was both distressing and disgraceful, like the absence of clothing and their hanging postures!  Whoever had done this was not civilized!

Oh-by-the-way, there was the issue of George and the professors' setting.  It was—and there was no getting around it—a torture chamber!  Stone walls.  Flickering electric filaments burning in sconces.  Torture engines and/or furniture—including a rack, a St. Andrew's cross, a horse (of the torture furniture variety, not a specimen of Equus caballus), a pillory, a set of stocks, a pair of whipping posts, and a bondage table!  There were also wooden utility racks laden with hanging whips and floggers, a basket of thin canes, and another rack holding a distressing volume of coiled hemp rope!

Also, while clearly the chamber was adequately ventilated, the air was stiflingly hot.  Not as hot as a dry spa or steam room, but hot enough that George and the professors were... glowing... profusely... and there was nothing they could do about it!  Their captors hadn't even provided handkerchiefs, much less towels.
Society of the Occult
          Mechanical Octopus
And speaking of captors, mounted on the stone wall off to George's right (Jenette and Moira's left) was a large brass plaque in the shape of an octopus wearing goggles... and possibly a metal helmet.  She recognized the emblem of La Société de la Pieuvre Mécanique Occulte (The Society of the Occult Mechanical Octopus), a highly secretive organization of mad or demonstrably unstable scientists, physicians, and aristocratic sailing enthusiasts dedicated to... something.  The SOMOs (as Scotland Yard and the Sûreté called them) were so secretive that no one knew much of anything about their agenda.  Members who had been captured and interrogated stated outright that they did not want to rule the world, but were closed mouthed about exactly what it was they did want.

Anyway, the SOMOs had captured George on three previous occasions, each time in order to force her to divulge the secrets of one or more of her inventions or discoveries.

The first time they locked her in a basement room in Surrey and threatened to withhold tea service if she didn't talk.  Bonnie rescued her.

The second time they locked her in the tower of a Burgundian castle, stripped her to her underwear, and threatened to tickle her bare feet with ostrich feathers!  Bonnie rescued her.

The third time they incarcerated her in a dilapidated barn near Kilkenny, stripped her to her knickers, and threatened to touch up her back with a riding crop, then move on to her breasts, nipples, and tummy!  Bonnie rescued her.

Three times!  And as to the total number of times George had been kidnapped and interrogated by villains other than the SOMOs... seventeen?  She made a mental note to consult her journals and compile a matrix of the exact number of times she'd been abducted, by whom, for what professed purpose, to what state of déshabillé she had been reduced, and with what tortures she'd been threatened.  Abductions that occurred in the course of an actual adventure didn't count, of course, only domestic kidnappings between adventures.  Anyway, perhaps a pattern would present itself.

George noticed that Jenette and Moira were staring at her with fright and/or distress in their green eyes.  This was entirely understandable, of course.  "Oh... yes... well... sorry about this," George sighed.  "I don't suppose either of you are conducting research that might be of interest to a secret society of mad scientists, are you?"

The naked, bound, gagged, and sweating professors exchanged questioning looks... then shook their gagged heads.

George sighed, again.  "I thought not.  That makes all of this my fault... again.  I really am most sorry.  But not to worry, Bonnie will be along at any moment to rescue us and set things right."

"I'm afraid not, Mademoiselle," a male voice with a pronounced French accent announced from the shadows.  Then, a 30-something gentleman in custom made shoes, spats, light trousers, waistcoat, cutaway morning coat, and wide cravat, stepped into view.  His face was narrow (weaselly) but overall handsome, his goatee and mustaches impeccably trimmed, and his figure athletic and slender.  He moved with the grace of a dancer... or a master of the épée.

"Vicomté Florian de Châtillon!" George gasped.  "Surely you're not a member in good standing of SOMO!"

The gentleman bowed.  "Enchanté, and surely, I am.  En fait, mon grand-père, on the side of ma mère was a founder of the third circle of the second society."  The viscount stroked his goatee and nodded to the two hanging professors.

"Oh," George gasped.  "Where are my manners?   Vicomté Florian de Châtillon, allow me to introduce Professors Jenette Rierdon and Moria Starling of the Hibernian Technological and Edinburgh Universities, respectively."

The viscount executed a deep, courtly bow (with flourishes).  "Enchanté."  He turned back to George.  "And now, Mademoiselle Congreve, I am afraid I must require you to tell me all the details of the process by which you manufacture the remarkable crystals that enable you to travel between the dimensions.  Otherwise..."  He indicated Jenette and Moira with a grand gesture.  "I shall be forced to have my minions do rather unpleasant things to your academic friends.  Comprenez vous?"

"You wouldn't dare!"  George huffed, tugging on her wrist-bonds.  "Your cousin Solange was my classmate at boarding school!  Our families are... acquainted!"

The viscount heaved a deep sigh.  "Alas... I must.  And don't think your friend, Mademoiselle Plantuckett, will come to your rescue this time.  She is many, many miles away, on the border between Germania and Helvetia, how you say... chasing the wild goose?"

"Actually, I'm in the Gallic Alps chasing a kidnapping fop," a familiar female voice announced.

"Bonnie!" George shouted cheerfully.  Her partner had stepped from the shadows.  She was dressed in one of her distressingly masculine but highly practical leather outfits, was armed with her favorite Tesla pistol, and was accompanied by a squad of Gallic soldiers armed with rifles and led by a young Lieutenant brandishing a machine-pistol.  From the insignia on their camouflaged field uniforms, they were members of the 8e Bataillon de Chasseurs Alpins.

The viscount was grabbed by two chasseurs (each about the size of a tall gorilla) and hustled from the torture chamber.  "But, my plan was perfect!" he whined.  "Ow-ow!  Do not rip my jacket you oaf!"

 Meanwhile, other soldiers were lowering the professors and removing their gags.  The lieutenant (blushing furiously) was calling for clothing or blankets.

All things considered, Jenette and Moira were taking things rather well.

"I tried to warn you," Bonnie said as she started unbuckling her partner's restraints.

"You did not!" George objected.

"Not you," Bonnie chuckled.  She was smiling at the professors, who were busy unbuckling and removing their wrist and ankle cuffs.  "Them."

"She did," Jenette confirmed.

"But only in the most general terms," Moira added.

"Everyone in the Grand Alliance who reads the newspapers knows Georgetta Congreve is prone to kidnapping," Jenette said, then smiled at George.  "Is it always this exciting?"

"Just look at all these horrible devices," Moira shuddered, then smiled at a soldier who had removed his coat and was holding it for her to slip her arms into the sleeves.  "Très galant."

Soon, all three rescued damsels were wearing borrowed coats.  George's was decidedly oversized and fit her like the proverbial tent.  The chasseurs were all acting like perfect gentlemen.

"Let's go find where the viscount has stashed your clothing," Bonnie suggested, then grinned at George.  "Or perhaps you'd prefer a pretty maid's uniform."

"Very funny," George muttered.  "Where exactly are we?"

"Chateau Châtillon," Bonnie answered.

George rolled her eyes.  "What?  That idiot!  He took us to his family estate?  What a moron."

Bonnie shrugged.  "I think the SOMOs subject their applicants to a rigorous written exam measuring native intelligence and covering a variety of academic subjects.  If they pass... they're rejected for membership."

Everyone laughed, even the chasseurs.

"Could we please have someone brew a pot of tea?" George asked plaintively as they left the torture chamber.


...& the Story 

The   End

Throughout this story I used Google Translate set on English-to-Gaelic for the Dearg language.  I'm far too lazy to invent an original fictional language for a race of transdimensional dragon-riding gingers.  Tolkien I ain't.  If any Gaelic speakers were or are offended, please accept my deepest apologies.  😔  Although... why anyone would be offended by being associated in any way with large numbers of fictional super-hot redheads is beyond me.  😄

Chapter 12
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