Billy tossed his canoe out of the black portal, then stepped into it. The lean, navy-suited man floated in the middle of an endless ocean on a bright day. The only other craft on the water was a single, simple 10′ x 10′ wooden raft. A portly, white-haired man stood on the raft next to a shoddy cot. He resembled a castaway dressed in frayed pants and a threadbare shit. The man eyed Billy with an amused interest.
“I get time off for good behavior?” He asked when Billy’s canoe floated close enough for the man to hear. Billy shook his head.
“Not officially, Mr. Reddington; but, I have the authority to make you an offer.”
“Will it get me off this Earth sooner?” Raymond asked.
“Off this Earth, yes. But it won’t net you shorter sentence,” Billy replied. Raymond grinned.
“I’m in, what’s the gig?”
“My bodyguard while I gather inanimates.”
“Since when do you need a bodyguard?” Raymond asked.
“Since I started running into other Uniques hunting down the same inanimates. You have an AlterNet character, right?” Billy asked. Raymond nodded. Billy reached into his suit pocket and pulled out a golden skeleton key. He tossed it at Raymond. When the round man caught the key invisible walls glimmered around the raft. The sound of glass shattering filled the air as the walls came down. With the cell broken Billy wiggled his fingers at the air and opened a black portal on the raft.
“We’re on a scavenger hunt, Raymond. The game is afoot!”
“Since we’re traveling together, call me ‘Red’, Raymond said, then stepped into the black hole.