Lost Empire: Part One.  

By Brad Marsh

Several hours after Shadows of the Past.

Downtown Boston: Federal Plaza.

The man in the charcoal gray suit stepped out of the gateway and into the trash littered control room. Striding through loose papers, trash, and other discarded items the man exited the control room and walked down the short hallway to a single set of stairs leading up into the darkness above. Without pausing or drawing a weapon the man ascended into the darkness above. The absence of fear without a weapon drawn would have struck most born into the Outlands as either stupid or suicidal. But the man who exited the gateway had been born in another time and place. A time before the bombs fell and the world came to a screeching halt, and civilization had died. He was what many called a Freezie, someone who had been cryogenically frozen, suspended between life and death. Most were frozen because they were dying on some disease that medicine could not cure. So they were frozen until a time came when there aliment could be treated. But there were those would were frozen because the coming war had been foreseen in some circles and those who were deemed too important or valuable to loose where frozen. Some were rich men and women or society and others were government officials like the Director of the FBI and a few chosen agents.

Only this freezie had not thought when he had been frozen that he would wake up in a world full of violence and madness that never seemed to end. Someone was always trying to kill you for what you had or for what they thought you might have. His pristine .40 caliber Smith and Wesson model 4010 was among one of the things he owned that others would kill him for. It along with his suit was the only thing that had made the trip through time with him.  Having awakened in a cryo unit in one of the rooms directly above the gateway, the man was surprised to discover thirty or so fellow Freezies waking up next to him. They were like him in many ways, they were all FBI agents or they had been before the bombs had dropped. Once they had all dressed they had discover that they were underneath the FBI offices in Downtown Boston. Several days after they had come out of stasis he and another agent had stumbled across the entrance to the stairway and found the gateway below. 

He and several other agents had made a jump to Arcadia Park after accessing the buildings comps.  Once there they had made there way to an old medical complex. There he had hoped to find the key to what was referred to as project Genesis. The records he had found with in the complex had been vague and incomplete do to comp failures sometime after Skydark. He had found references to cloning and Gene splicing. But he found a reference to a man named Ryan Cawder far more interesting. According to the records he had been guest with in the complex, but something happened and the scientists that ran the complex had tried to kill him and his companions, but they had turned the tables and leaving the head scientist dead, and the complex severely damaged. Most of the security personnel survived with a few scientists. The complex was abandon and the research moved elsewhere. Just as he and his men were departing gunfire erupted outside the complex, and then abruptly stopped. He and his men came across three armed individuals as they were entering the complex through a window. He recognized them all from photos he had picked up from local traders. For some food and a few bullets the traders had filled in the history since Skydark and what information they could about the four figures whose pictures had been circulating through out the Outlands. That history included Ryan Cawder and his band that had become legends through out the outlands and among the Outlanders whom lived there. He learned about the program of unification and the nine Barons, he also learned about the current hero's who were wanted for crimes against the Barons. Kane and Grant had been Magistrates, local police. Brigid Baptiste had been an archivist, and Domi was an Outlander born and breed in the Outlands. Having been rescued by Kane and Grant she had fled slavery in Cobaltville, along with Brigid Baptiste who had avoided execution. Now they fought the Barons, along with anyone who else who got in their way and it seemed as it they were winning at the moment. But he had other things to worry about at the moment, there were few of them and Kane had killed six of his men, leaving him to jump back to Boston alone. Not to mention the fact that he had not found out where project Genesis had been moved. He had a few ideas but it was going to take time to investigate those possible locations, and he wasn’t sure if he was going to have time to do that. It was only a matter of time before his path would cross with Kane’s once more. From what he had heard from the traders it was fatal to cross Kane. But there was an exception to every rule. He hoped he was going to be that exception. But only time would tell.

Cerberus Redoubt: Three months later.

Kane stood outside in the growing darkness, blowing plumes of cigar smoke into the air. He was dressed in a Montana State College Sweatshirt, blue jeans and a pair of gray hiking boots, which he had taken from the redoubt stores. He had been out hiking with Brigid that afternoon, and had not bothered to change out of his outdoor clothes upon their return. He was comfortable which was something that happen all that often so he figured he would enjoy it while he could.

He had no doubt that some pressing matter would come up that needed attention and he along with Grant, Brigid and Domi would be off to deal with it. They had enjoyed three full days of down time so he figured they were about do for a major crisis.  The familiar comfortable weight of his loaded Sin Eater rested on his wrist. A navy combat knife he had gotten from the armory was sheathed on his right hip.

It had been over three months since their strange encounter with a man claiming to be a Freezie FBI agent. Though they had only heard rumors of men in business suits roaming the Outlands asking questions about Project Genesis and about Kane, Grant, Brigid and Domi. There had been no contact between those in Cerberus and the FBI Freezie. What made Kane nervous though, and he knew Grant was just as nervous, was the fact that the Barons had done nothing to find out more about those asking questions. The rumors placed these suited wearing men from the Western Isles to the Florida Keys to Hawaii. Yet there had been nothing from the Barons. There had been no rumors of a confrontation between Ville Mags and FBI freezie’s followers.

A few months before Lakesh had set up a comp that could intercept and listen to ville communications and of all the communications they had intercepted there was no mention of the Business suit wearing men, even in passing between operators. The rumors were every where there was no possible way the Barons would not have heard about those asking questions, it was even more unsettling that the operators seemed to know nothing about the FBI Freezie. So through the last three months Lakesh had kept an eye and ear on things going on out in the Outlands. The rumors came in on almost a daily basis. Different packmen, traders, and assorted travelers stopped at the Lakota camp at the base of the mountain were they traded stories with the Lakota who lived in the camp. Kane struck a deal with the Lakota, Food and Ammunition, in exchange for obtaining this information and bringing the information to them. The deal had held well so far, Kane hoped his making the deal with the Lakota didn’t come around and bite him in the ass. With a start he realized he’d been so deep in thought that he had drifted out of it for a while, when he look over Brigid was standing a few feet away to his right. He hadn’t even heard her approach. She glanced at him, but remained silent. “ What is it? “ he asked

“ We got word that there’s been an attack on Sharpeville Mags near downtown Boston. All but one Mag in the squad was killed or captured. He brought back word of the attack. He says it was guys in Predark business suits that did it. They had more weapons than anyone had seen in a long time. It sounds like their armory is at least twice as well stock as ours is.”

“ They took out fifteen Mags. Was there word on how many were taken hostage? “

“ Four confirmed. But the Mag who made it back wasn’t sure if there were more survivors. Eight confirmed dead. But I haven’t told you the weirdest thing yet. The survivor claims this was done by two guys with handguns.“

“ Hand blasters against Sin Eaters and Copperheads. I don’t buy it. Two guy against a squad of Mags. “

“ He also says they hit these two guys in Suits with automatic fire from at least six Copperheads, scoring multiple hits and all it did was cause the two shooters to stager some. It was like they were wearing body armor he said, only they scored at least three hits on one guy's head. “

“ That can’t be right. You’re sure that’s what this Mag said? “

“ Yeah. Lakesh had Brye recorded the whole conversation. You can listen to it little on.“

“ Who was Sharpe talking to? “

“ Cobaltville. Baron Cobalt himself spoke with Baron Sharpe. It seems they were ignoring the rumors we were hearing because they didn’t believe any of it. Seems they thought we where making it up and paying Pack men and traders to spread the word.”

“Cobalt would come up with something like that. In his warped fuckin’ mind were out to get him like we did Baron Ragnar. Only he doesn’t know about Tara.“

“ You and Grant showing up in Minnesota and then Ragnarville didn’t help that situation any though. Even though we had no choice at the time. Since Lakesh doesn’t run things around her anymore it’s up to us whether or not we investigate.“

“ I’ll talk to Grant. If there are freezies out there that can take out fifteen Mags without a scratch then I think we should look into it. “

“ You thinking allies for us against the Barons? “

“ No. I’m thinking Survival. If fifteen Mags couldn’t two of them out them the four us have no chance in hell of taking out two and who knows how many this Freezie FBI guy has at his finger tips. “

“ What I don’t understand is you killed three of the guys with this freezie back in Maine. Domi killed three more, but fifteen Mags could handle two of them. You shot your three in the head. It doesn’t make sense to me. They died why not the two who faced off against Sharpe’s Mags?“

“ I don’t know but where going to find out. “ Kane replied “ How many gateways are in Boston?”

“ There are two indexed gateways. One is in Government Center in the North End of the city. The other is in the basement of the prudential building. Near downtown and the public library Building. “

“ Was there an FBI building near either of those Gateways? I’m willing to bet there’s either an unindexed Gateway in or under the FBI building which wouldn’t be a surprise, or one of these indexed Gateways isn’t far from where this Freezie FBI man is hold up. “

“ There was FBI offices in Federal Plaza before Skydark. But Boston was hit pretty hard when the bombs fell. It’s a lot like New York City and we both know what that city looked like when we paid Manhattan a visit. The Gateway near the Library is the closest. We’ll have to see if it’s working. Otherwise it’ll be a long work from the North End to downtown.“

 “ Either way don’t you agree we should check this whole thing out? “

“ Yeah I agree I’m just warning you that it might to tough getting to Federal Plaza. That’s all.”

“ Ok. Then lets go in an listen to this communication between Sharpe and Cobalt, not to mention find out if any of the gateways in Boston are online.” Kane replied as he headed towards the entrance to the redoubt Brigid sliding up next to him and matching his pace.

“ What are we going to do if neither gateway works? “ Brigid asked as they passed into the redoubt and the door began to close behind them.

“ We’ll cross that bridge when get to it. “ Kane replied “ The way other our other field trips into the field have gone I’ve learned not to worry about the little things and focus on surviving. Not to mention if what this Sharpeville Mag says turns out to be true then this could be another one presenter. We’ve done this kind of thing before and survived so we’ll do it again. “

Boston: Two Hours Earlier.

Sergeant William Thorp led his squad of Sharpeville Magistrates down what was once Somerset street in downtown Boston towards the Federal Plaza building and the FBI offices. Thorp didn’t think his mission was all that becoming of a Mag officer, never mind important enough to take a squad of fully trained Mags from the Ville’s defense and send to a city hardly anyone lived in anymore. But the Baron had grown uneasy about the rumors of a freezie asking questions, and no matter what Baron Cobalt said about it being a trap laid out by Kane, Baron Cobalt had his own issues with Kane and they didn’t concern Baron Sharpe.  Baron Sharpe had felt the threat was real enough to send a squad f his best Magistrates to Boston where rumor had it this freezie and his army of followers was making there home.

The once proud, historic city had not fair well when Skydark hit on January 19, 2001. Being a city with a busy harbor, and several government and military building’s had sealed it fate even before the bombs had fallen. With it’s many hospitals, some of which being funded by the Military the city had been hit and hit hard. The Russian nukes had turned a once spectacular skyline into a skyline made up of a dozen broken and battered skyscrapers. Rubble from the other buildings that had been brought back to earth when the blast waves hit littered the streets making most streets passable only on foot or in some cases impassable. The office towers that had crowded one another for space in an ever-shrinking skyline, where gone. From his flight in on a DeathBird Thorp knew the center of the city was a rolling hole of jagged concrete and steel. The tunnel that had cost the tax payers so much money, during the project dubbed the Big Dig, had not been designed to whitstand the blasts of the nukes that rained down on the city. In a heartbeat the once majestic park that in so many ways resembled Central Park, was consigned to the ground from once it came. Two hundred years after the world ended, Boston was far from the once great and sprawling metropolis where freedom was born some two hundred and twenty-five years before. That city was gone, replaced by a rolling mass of rubble that had become the home of ghouls and the spirits of those that died with in the city when the bombs had fallen. They had just come around from behind a pile of rubble, the federal plaza building coming into sight, when a series of reports from a large caliber hand blaster shattered the silence. The two Mags on Thorps right went down in a spray of blood, brains, and bone; each shot through the center of the forehead right between their eyes. The Mag issue helmets doing nothing to stop the rounds, which meant there attackers were using depleted uranium rounds, which were rare in a ville’s armory, and almost nonexistent out in the wilds of the Outlands. In the splinter of time it took Thorp to process all of that and access the situation a second volley of Blaster fire erupted from up ahead and two more Mags dropped to the cracked pavement of what was once Somerset Street. With a start three more shots rang out behind Thorp, dropping two more Mags to the pavement. He had just begun to move to his left to put himself between two large piles of rubble, when more shots rang out and a sharp pain in his leg caused him to stumble and connect with the pavement face first.  As he clutched his wounded leg he pulled himself between the piles of rubble he had been trying to reach, just as several of his remaining Mags opened up with there Copperheads spraying a large pile or rubble up ahead that was the source of the gunfire.

A single figure dressed in a jet black business suit and tie, boldly stood up on top of the pile of rubble and returned fire. For his boldness he was rewarded a stuttering hail automatic fire from several copperheads. Thorp watched in stunned silence as several bullets slammed into the mysterious figure's head, anyone of those shots should have been fatal, but the figure in the business suit only staggered. Fighting to maintain his footing on the pile of rubble, Thorp was shocked when the figure took several steps back and then began an ungainly shamble down the side of the pile, without so much as a scratch on his face and head. It was as if his Mags had fired a several hundred rounds and not a single hit on the figure. The figure moved towards his men firing his hand blaster as he went, wounding four and driving the other five to ground. That was before the second figure came sliding out of the rubble and shot two of those five Mags before anyone knew he was among them. That was when Thorp noticed that one of the five that had been crouching among the rubble with him had slipped off.

A young corporal named John Hale, he was a smart kid, Thorp knew that Hale would head straight for the Deathbirds, which had landed several blocks away in what was once called Boston Common. The common was little more that a dirt patch now with a few over grown clumps of grass. The manicured trees, the trimmed green grass, and landscaping were gone. Left forgotten somewhere among the sands of time, gone in the blink of an eye like some many other things people took for granted before Skydark came and swept it all away.

Thorp was pulled from his thought as he was roughly hauled to his feet, with a shock he realized he was looking straight into the face of the man who had been on the pile and taken multiple hits to the head. With a sudden shock he realized the man, if he could be called that, had skin that was pale almost to the point of being transparent. His black eyes bore into Thorp with a contempt and hatred that seemed to have no basis in reality. Seeing as Thorp had never laid eyes on the face of the thing holding him, that hatred didn’t make sense to him. Where had it come from and why was this thing so full of contempt and hate for him and his men? He had a feeling they would find out soon enough and he had a feeling he wasn’t going to like the answer when he finally got one. The figure raised a fist and slammed it into Thorps face, and the darkness came rushing in to claim him. His last conscious though was that Corporal Hale would make it to the Deathbirds and bring back help, otherwise he and his those with in the squad who had survived were dead.

Cerberus Redoubt: Three hours later.

Kane, Grant, Domi and Brigid stood around the comp system with its four large speakers. Lakesh called the whole system his eyes and ears out in the Outlands.  They were about to hear the tape of the conversation between Baron Cobalt and Baron Sharpe, about the attack in Boston and the Mags that had been killed. Lakesh had already filled in Grant and Domi on what was going on by the time Kane and Brigid had finished their conversation and entered the control room.  Kane nodded to Grant and Domi, as Brigid moved to stand by the system glancing at Lakesh who nodded slightly.

“ Ok old man lets get this little meeting rolling. From the run down Brigid gave me outside I got the impression that we don’t have whole lot of time to waste here. “

Lakesh nodded “ You are right in your assessment of the situation Mr. Kane. Things are moving fast and we have no idea what’s going on.“

“ There is definitely something going on out there. “ Brigid replied “ Kane and I agree that at least some of us are going to have to go to Boston and find out what this freezie FBI agent is up to. I did a little bit of research based of a piece of information that came from one of our Lakota friends. It had to do with something called the Genesis Project. “

“ And? “ Kane prompted

“ It was an other cog in the totality concept wheel. It was connected to project Calypso, which we know had to do with immortality. Project Genesis had to do with the integration of inorganic parts with organic human tissue. Lakesh here benefited from some of their research; the replacements he’s had over the years were based on Genesis designs. They were trying to create something called the New Empire. But there was nothing in the database that even hints at what the New Empire was going to be. “

“ And you think this Project Genesis has something to do with what happened in Boston? “ Grant asked

“ Its more than that. I think this Freezie we bumped into up in Maine was trying to find out where Project Genesis was based. Based on what were about to listen to I think he found at least part of Project Genesis and he’s used part of it to attack Sharpeville’s Mags. Defending his secrets is my guess. “

“ Then lets hear this tape and then get ready to make a visit to the city where Freedom started. “ Kane replied

Lakesh nodded as his fingers nimbly skated across the key board imputing commands, suddenly the speakers on top of the system crackled to life and the voice of Baron Sharpe began coming from those speakers. “ It was a massacre Brother eight of my Magistrates confirmed dead, four more confirmed as hostages and three unaccounted for. Only one young Corporal was able to escape and give an oral report and bring re-enforcement’s.“

“ Kane has killed Magistrates from three separate Ville’s including your own and my own.“

“ This was not Kane’s doing. “ Sharpe roared “ My men were killed with a large caliber semi-automatic hand blaster. You know as well I do that Kane uses the Weapons that he was trained to use, Magistrate weapons. Which are both fully automatic.“

“ That means nothing. “ Cobalt spat “ Kane has on more than one occasion deviated from his training and his regular pattern of operation. This time is just another instance of that. “

“ You are wrong and I will tell you why. “ Sharpe responded “ This was not Kane, because Kane likes us to know he was the one that put the hurt on us. Not to mention we both know Kane could never take half a dozen rounds from several Copperheads to the head and not drop dead. “

“ Kane was behind the death of one of our Brothers. He is capable of many things. You barely escaped your meeting with Kane alive.”

“ Kane spared my life. We are spending far too much time talking about Kane. We need to get to the real issue. “

“ Which is? “

“ Two men took out eight fully armed Magistrates and wounding four others. Both of these men took multiple hits from both Sin Eaters and Copperheads, and it did nothing more than make them stagger a little bit. “

“ That isn’t possible. “

“ You of all people should know things are never what they seem out in the Outlands. America’s government had its hand in many different things, all with the same aim. Create a superior human being. We are both products of that tinkering with Human DNA. “

“ Assuming your right about all of this, what are we suppose to do about genetically altered humans who are impervious to blaster fire. “

“ I’m not sure. If I am right and I honestly hope I’m not, then we better hope there’s a way to fight these things. Because if two of them can take out a full squad of Magistrates then what could a dozen or two dozen do? “

With that the tape ended and Lakesh made a few quick keystrokes causing the speakers to fall silent. For once the old man was not the first to speak. He was pale and drawn. Kane eyes him, briefly considering calling DeFore the resident medical doctor to take look at him, but he dismissed the idea, mainly because no one else seemed all that concerned about him.

“ This scares even me. “ Grant rumbled  “ If the Barons are worried about the shit that went down then it has to be triple bad. “

“ Agree with Grant. Barons not scare easy. Got bad feeling. “

“ The Barons being scared is all the more reason to make a jump out there and take a look around. “ Kane replied turning to Lakesh “ Are either of the gateways in Boston active? “

“ Yes. At least one the gateways that are part of the official Cerberus network. But that particular gateway is listed as Frank Paul One and it’s functioning. I checked for previous activity, and there have been at least a dozen jumps made to and from this gateway in the last three months. The first activity on the gateway came just before you left for Maine and the destination was the Cadillac Mountain Redoubt. Then just before the three of you came back there was a jump to the Frank Paul one gateway. That little fact pretty much links our FBI Freezie to all of this.“

“ Where have the other jumps been too? “

“The Western Isles, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Alaska, and the Barons in California just to name a few. “ Lakesh replied “ Some of those redoubts we know where research bases for several Totality Concept projects. The others may have been but there’s no mention of them in the database as research facilities. So we can only guess. “

“ Was there a jump made to a redoubt in North Carolina. Winston-Salem to be exact. “ Brigid asked

Lakesh made a few keystrokes on his keyboard before answering. “ Yes, there was. About three weeks ago. Why? “

“ Because North Carolina was mentioned in the documents I came up with for Project Genesis. I was thinking about it and I just remembered that there was a hospital there in Winston-Salem that was part of medical row. It was doing major work with mechanical implants before Skydark. I also remember seeing a gateway listed in Winston-Salem, it was one of the gateways Ryan Cawder and his band visited. Though the hospital they emerged in was not the one I was talking about. I think we should visit this hospital before we go to Boston, we may find something that will help us beat these things that attacked that Mag squad. ”

“ All right. That makes sense. It would be a pleasant change of pace to know what were up against before we get there.“

“ It will also means you won’t be making shit up as you go along. “ Grant Grumbled

Kane looked at each of his companions as he asked, “ Is anyone against this little field trip?”

Kane chuckled to himself when no one answered “ Well just for the record I don’t like the feel of this whole situation but we have no choice. We’ll meet back here ready to jump in one hour; anyone wants to back out now the rest of us will understand. “

No one spoke. “ One hour then. Fully armed and ready to jump to North Carolina. “

To be continued

October 2000

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