Those horrific eyes stared out, aghast, over a landscape that deserved it. The desert stretched long and wide in all directions. Distant cities had stopped smouldering long ago.
A shimmering blue oval expanded in the air, and lowered itself to a few inches from the road.
'...So I said to the whale, no you don't, I've got the biggest balls in this universe, 'cos it's my universe! Pahaaaaahahaha!'
The jackal skipped out of the portal and started laughing like a hyena, without any sense of irony, at his own joke. The others followed: a spacequeen, a blacksmith, and a man with blue skin.
'Well what about this universe?' said the blue man. 'It's not your universe now, is it?'
The blacksmith frowned, glaring at the skyline.
'Doesn't matter, I'll take on anyone—'
The jackal sniffed. 'What's that? In the air?'
The spacewoman frowned too, then looked at a wrist implant. 'Shit. Radiation.'
The blue man blinked rapidly, and was immediately swallowed by a huge reflective egg. His eyes peeked out of a tiny window. The egg wobbled. 'Are you sure?'
'You really are a baby,' the spacequeen sighed, slapping the egg somewhere near his shoulder. 'Can't you just monitor your own molecular biology like everyone else?'
'I didn't know you could do that.'
The blacksmith pinched his nose, closing his eyes tightly. 'You mean to tell me, you lived under the sea, inside fifteen Russian-doll realities, as a coathanger, but when jumping dimensions you switch back to an ordinary human? Version 0.1?!'
'Hey! Version 0.5 at least!'
'Does that thing even have wheels?'
'Aha, the answer to that is yes!' The man inside the egg swiped a panel with his thumb. The egg instantly sprouted fins. Suitable for swimming, or perhaps flying.
'Well now that you're safe and highly manoeuvrable,' said the jackal loftily, hopping in the heat, 'perhaps our elegant guide can tell us what we're doing here?'
They stood on a highway running straighter than a bullet from one horizon to the other. The tarmac was surprisingly clean, new, shiny even. Under the intense glare of a made-up sun, it cut through the desert's amber dirt smartly.
'Something's wrong with the co-ordinates,' she said. 'And it looks like this guy can help.'
They looked at the robot.