Shadows of the Past: By Brad Marsh

Note, events take place between Armageddon Axis and Wreath of Fire

Kane stood just outside the main doors to the Cerberus Redoubt, the place he called home at the moment. Had only returned to the redoubt from his visit to the Anthill complex in South Dakota roughly twenty-four hours before. The Cerberus redoubt was located in the center of what was once known as the Bitter Root mountain range located what was once known as Montana, he stood smoking a Cigar and watching the sun set. His mind was for the moment clear and free of conflict. He was dressed in Jeans and a red flannel shirt he had liberated from the Redoubts stores; his Mag issue boots on his feet and his Mag issue long coat snug across his shoulders. His Sin Eater was holstered snuggly on his right wrist.  Bapstite's words on the plains just south of the Ant Hill still rang in his ears, but there was nothing he could do, he'd pulled the trigger of his Sin Eater and Dian the self proclaimed leader of the Ant Hill was dead. Kane had severed Brigid’s only link to her past and she had called him a cruel man, accusing him of contaminating her with his cruelty. He'd done what needed to be done, the woman had looked like she was going to kill Brigid and Kane had reacted with deadly force just as his Mag training had taught him. His only regret was that he had hurt Brigid in the process.

" Penny for thoughts. " A familiar voice asked from behind him.

Kane turned to see Domi standing just outside the man Sec doors to the Redoubt. The petite Albino girl was dressed in one of the Installations standard issue blue one-piece jump suits. Her ruby red eyes glinted back at him, as stood there the light breeze ruffling her snow-white hair. She had her Detonics Combat Master hand blaster holstered on her hip. " They’re not worth that much. Taking a field trip? " Kane asked as he flicked ashes from the cigars tip.

" Field Trip through Mat Trans to Cadillac Mountain redoubt in Maine. Lakesh says Redoubt near old military hospital that was once a genetic research center. Mainly cloning and gene manipulation." Domi replied " Asked me to talk you or Grant into going with me and Brigid. What say?

Kane shrugged " Why not? Have you talked to Grant yet? "

" He says if you go he stays behind as back up. If not you be back up and he goes." Domi replied with a sly grin.  

" Why does Lakesh want a field trip to Arcadia National Park in Maine? " 

" He says because of genetic research center in old hospital there’s a good chance Barons go there after we blow up their ship. Thinks it good to check out. Barons need to regenerate and there may be comps and equipment there that they can use. Beat them to punch and we cut off access to it. "

" When do we leave? "

" One hour. Armed and ready in control room. If not their, go without you. Understand? "

" Understood. " Kane replied with a lopsided grin as the Albino girl slipped back inside the redoubt the doors whisking shut behind her.

An Hour later Kane, Brigid and Domi were standing just inside the gateway door facing Grant and Lakesh. " Twelve hours Kane. " Grant informed him " After that I jump after you. "

" Agreed. That should be enough time to check things out and get back here. " There’s no indication this is going to be a one presenter. " Kane replied " This is a Recon, more than likely there’s going to nothing there and we come home. Relax. "

Grant nodded and Lakesh moved up beside him. He was dressed much as he always was, white lab coat and all.

" I'm not sure what you will find when you get to Maine. " He said " According to the Wyeth Context she and her companions jumped to the Cadillac Mountain redoubt once. They encounter a group of in bred scientists who were experimenting with cloning. Their hope was to be able to destroy all mutations by cloning individuals with these traits and removing the genes that cause mutations. From her account we know the hospital was in disrepair but most of the building was intacted. When they left the complex she and her companions had destroyed several of the labs with grenades. I'm hoping that the buildings will be in ruins after all these years and you can turn around and come home. But with all that’s happened in the last few weeks it important we stay one step ahead of the Barons. Good Luck Kane."

Kane nodded as he slung his Copperhead assault riffle over his shoulder. He was still dressed in his flannel shirt and Jeans. Having added the Copperhead to his portable armory, and coming straight to the control room. Domi and Brigid were dressed much the same way in jeans, with a warm cotton shirt. They had also taken warm quilted parkas from the redoubt stores, along with hiking boots. Domi was armed with her Detonics Combat Master, while Brigid had opted for her Iver and Johnson Automatic.

" If we find anything out there we'll level the place and head out on winged feet. "

" Twelve hours. " Grant repeated as Kane began to close the chamber door.

" Twelve hours. " Kane echoed as he closed the armaglass door, and the lock engaged. The jump began almost immediately after the door was closed. Kane sat down between Domi and Brigid, as the chamber began to fill with mist and the floor and ceiling began to glow. He closed his eyes, the last sound he heard as he slipped away into the darkness being the humming of the Chamber. Darkness swept in and claimed them all.

Cadillac Mountain Redoubt.

Kane slowly clawed his way back to the land of the living. His head pulsed in time with his heartbeat, as tiny bolts of pain ran the length of his body. He carefully eased his eyes open, noting that the walls of the chamber were a dark gray, were as the Cerberus chamber walls were a rich brown. Domi and Brigid were slowly sliding out from under the effects of the jump. Kane slowly got to his feet, his Copperhead in hand. He moved to the door, trying to sense any movement with in the control room. Sensing none, he glanced down at the motion sensor strapped to his left wrist, which also showed nothing. Satisfied they were safe for the moment he turned back to Domi and Brigid. They had both struggled into a sitting position their backs against the Dark Gray wall.  Their faces pale for the effects of the jump, but they were awake and slowly crawling back to the land of the living. Kane leaned against the wall next the door and waited for them to recover.

Ten minuets later they were standing in the control room, in front of the closed sec door that separated the Gateway chamber from the rest of the redoubt. Domi had her hand on the green lever that would raise the door, poised to flick it up and give them access to the rest of the redoubt. Kane nodded and the door began sliding upward, he slipped under it when it reached the half waypoint, Sin Eater in his right hand, his copperhead in the other. He holstered his Sin Eater once he confirmed the hall was clear. Brigid and Domi stepped into the hallway once he gave the all clear single. Each of them was gripping a drawn Blaster.  They walked down the main corridor towards the main entrance. It took a little over twenty minuets to reach the main door leading outside to the park beyond. The redoubt was devoid of life. Baptiste stepped forward and typed in the code 352 to open the redoubts exterior doors. Kane's Sin Eater popped back into his hand once more as the door began to slide open. Seeing nothing but blue sky and the cracked remains of an old black top he stepped through the open door and out on the plateau. He could hear and smell the ocean as he inhaled the crisped mountain air. A thick pine forest stood vigilant at the bottom of the steep access road that led down from the plateau that marked the entrance to the redoubt. Brigid and Domi silently stepped up next to him as the redoubt door slowly closed behind them. Domi had punched in the closing coded before stepping out into the sunlight.

" Lakesh tell either of you were this Hospital is located? " Kane asked them.

Predictably it was Brigid who answered " According to the Wyeth Context the hospital is located a few miles northwest of here. She also states that there should be a large lake just beyond those trees. With a trail that winds northwest toward the complex. "  

" Were burning daylight so let’s go. " Kane announced as he began the long trek to the forest below. The trek took less than a half an hour to complete. Kane drew to a halt just on the edge of the forest, to allow Domi and Brigid time to catch up. Once they were together, Kane slipped his Copperhead off his shoulder, the two women followed suit by drawing their hand blasters. They followed a well-used game trail for a little over five minuets before they crested a small rise and the lake Brigid had mentioned came into view. Kane led them to the water's edge, where the remains of hundreds campfires littered the clearing. Seeing nothing of interest Kane turned his attention to the road leading away from the clearing to the North, he was looking for signs of recent use.

There were some fresh footprints of local hunters, along with several old sets of tire tracks that led from the south along the trail towards the north. He wasn't surprised to see the signs of habitation, anywhere in the outlands were there was fresh water, there were people living near by. 

" What do you think? " He asked Brigid as she strode up next to him.

" I'm not sure. But so far we haven't been threatened or shot at. After so many of our other field trips, I tend to take that as a bad sign. "

" I vote we hike towards Complex. " Domi said from just behind them.

" Then lets go. " Kane replied and began the long walk to the old hospital.

Two hours later, Kane stopped short just on the apex of the latest curve in the path. Brigid who was walking along behind him, knew something was wrong the moment she heard the sound of Kane's Sin Eater spring into his waiting hand. He dropped to one knee, motioning for Brigid and Domi to stay were they were. Knelt in the middle of the trail for not more than a minuet and a half before he turned and carefully made his way back to them.

" Bad news. " He told them. " There are four guys in cheap suits standing guarding by the ruins of some sort of Sec Barrier. There’s a sign on the barrier that says Melissa Crichton institute of Medical research. Cryology and Gene Sculpturing. That what you about read in the Wyeth context? "

" Yes. She mentioned the Melissa Crichton Institute. This is the place Lakesh was talking about. "

" Then someone’s beaten us here. " Kane hissed " Those guys in the suits could work for the Barons. "

“ Maybe but I doubt it.“ Brigid replied “ You don’t see to many people walking around in pre-dark style suits and ties. I think these guys are with someone else.”

" What now? "

" Did the Wyeth context indicate there was another way into the complex other than through the Sec Barrier?"

Brigid shook her head in response. " Then we circle around the and follow the Sec Barrier. After all these years, there has to be some brakes in it that we can slip through. " With that he struck off to the left, moving horizontally to the path for a ways and then cutting in towards the Barrier with Domi and Brigid at his heels. Kane was conscious of the need to need to get into the Melissa Crichton institute, and that time was working against them. In slightly more than nine hours Grant would be jumping to the Cadillac Mountain redoubt to find them. If he stumbled unknowingly into Baron Sharpe's Mags and there was fire fight, their presence would be announced and their cover would be blown. In eight hours time, with or without knowing what Baron Sharpe was looking for or if he had found it, they would be heading back to the redoubt on Cadillac Mouton.

Fifteen minuets into there track Kane rocked to a sudden halt his fingers moving aside a large evergreen bush of some sort. He smiled as a four-foot wide hole in the wall appeared behind the bush. They had a way in. The hole faced a large pile of over grown rubble that was once one of the hospitals wings. Kane could see to identical inter connecting wings just beyond the rubble. A fourth wing was just a shell of blackened concrete as if there had been an explosion and a fire had burned it out. The whole complex and the surrounding area had the aura of having been abandoned long years ago. The main entrance to the Sec Barrier was nowhere in sight, and Kane could not see any Mag guards posted at the front door to the abandoned complex. Kane knew that there would be guards post inside the main entrance, there best chance of entering what remained of the complex was to jimmy a window and slipping that way. The casings were liable to be rotted and the clasps had more than likely long since rusted away to reddish dust. Kane motioned for Domi and Brigid to stay hidden as he stepped out into the open and sprinted across the rubble strewn dirt courtyard towards the building. He had almost made it when shots rang out, the echoes of more than one Uzi on full auto washing over him. " Shit. " he muttered as he dove behind a pile of crumbling concrete, his own Sin Eater springing into his hand. He sprayed half a dozen rounds towards the area he thought the shots had come from. He was rewarded with return fire from at least three separate Uzi’s. Kane had not even thought to consider that sniper could have been placed along the tree line facing the complex rather than out in plain sight. He cursed himself for not having thought of it, seeing as now that he was under fire it seemed an obvious place to post sentries.

Kane searched the tree line hoping to spot movement that would at least give him an area to hose with bullets, if not a target to take out. The last thing he expected was to see Domi step out of the tree line, holding an Uzi in her right, with two more slung over her back. She was smiling a bloody knife held in her left hand. Kane noticed it was her favored Knife, the same knife she had slit Jordan Teague's throat with.  Brigid at that moment broke cover behind Kane and sprint up next to him; her Iver and Johnson Automatic clutched in her right hand. Domi strode up as if she didn't have a care in the world, handing one her captured Uzi’s to Brigid who holstered her handblaster and excepted the compact sub gun from Domi.

" What the hell did you do? " Kane demanded

" Went into bush for piss, then suits fire their Uzi’s only a few feet away from me. I hear you return fire, thought you could use help. Took knife and slit throats. Easy as that. Got Uzi of my own and two extra. Welcome. "

Kane didn't respond as he turned back towards the windows that line the outside of the remaining research wing. When they had first glimpsed the building it had appeared that all of the windows were intact. But now that they were closer, they could see that not more than a dozen of the window casings held glass. Most were gapping like missing teeth in a ninety-year-old mans smile. Kane chose the closest window to the main entrance from there point of entry. He climbed over the shards of broken glass, landing silently on the mold covered ceramic tile floor. Domi slipped through the next window along the line, with Baptiste at her heels. Each one was holding their captured Copperheads. But Kane hardly noticed them as he scanned the room they had entered. There was a single door leading out into a dimly lit corridor. But what had Kane puzzled were the walls. All for of them were covered with dirty white padding that looked as if it had been stapled of nailed to the wall. There was no furniture in the room. Just the door and the padded walls.

" What is this place? " Kane asked

" It's what was once called a rubber room. " Brigid replied softly

Before Kane could answer a strangely familiar voice spoke from the doorway. " You are correct, it is what was called a rubber room. You have far more knowledge than I was led to believe. "

Kane turned to see tall man in charcoal gray suit standing in the doorway, flanked by three armed suits Kane wondered briefly if they were some of the men from the front Sec Barrier. " Who are you?" Kane stated evenly  " And who are you?”

" I could ask all of you the same question. But I already know the answer to that question " the man replied “ I am here seeking knowledge Mr. Kane.”

" How know us? " Domi spat

" As I matter of fact I know very little about any of you. " the man replied " Yet where ever I go I hear word of all of you. And where in the esteemed Mr. Grant?"

" He had a prior engagement. Now what? " Kane asked, " If were not going to kill each other then we just go our separate ways. Is that it? " 

" I can not let you live know that you have seen me and know of my existence. My mission is jeopardized. "

" We know nothing of you or your mission. " Kane spat " We don’t even know your name. "

"That maybe so but the code says you must die. " the man replied " You have seen my face and it is only a matter of time before you put two and two together. "

“ You know as I know that ancient secrets lay here in these ruins. Secrets that if uncovered could unseat the Barons and give control of the Outlands to whoever welds the power that comes from these secrets. “ The man announced “ I a freezie much like the man you call Lakesh. But I am more than that. I and my men are the remnants of a shattered government.“

" So you've come all this way seeking what?  Immortality, power, fame, wealth, What? " Brigid asked

“ Yes and no. Once there were those that carried on the work that it's founders had started long before Skydark. But one Ryan Cawder came and destroyed that legacy and those who had labored for generations to complete the work started before skydark, slowly dispersed out into the outlands leaving this complex to ruin. Much of there work was in Gene splicing and in cloning techniques. I had hope that there would remnants of that research hidden away here waiting for someone like me to uncover them. But alas there is nothing but useless comps and crumbling walls. Now I bid this place farewell and moved onto other adventures elsewhere. "

With that Kane suddenly knew that there was something located with the complex that the freezie wasn’t telling them about, something that connected to some arcane piece of knowledge that would unseat Barons. Without any indication of his Actions Kane's Sin Eater slid into his hands, his finger curling around the trigger, the hand blasters roar split the silence that stretched through the complex and surrounding area. Kane saw the three suits flanking the freezie as the most immediate threat to their survival, so his first rounds slammed into their heads, dropping them to the dusty floor in three distinct unmoving bloody heaps. Kane's sights automatically shifted to cover the freezie, who had no visible weapon, but Kane knew better than to trust strangers. He was fairly sure that freezie had a hand blaster holstered under his left arm, the man raised his hands, as Kane grinned mercilessly “ How about you give us the Truth?”

“ The truth? “ the freezie queried

“ I was a Mag for most of my life, “ Kane replied “ I can tell when someone is full of shit and you’ve just spent the last ten minuets shoveling a ton of shit. Now tell me what you found here and how it relates to whatever you’ve got planned. “

“ There are secrets hidden here that could unlock so much. The human race suffers because the Barons rule with an iron fist. Who doesn’t want to see them die.“

“ Why are these secrets hidden? “ Brigid asked

“ Locked away in useless Comps.“ the man replied “ There is no power here and I have yet to see a way of transporting them to elsewhere. “

“ You can’t hope to hide this from the Barons for long. “ Kane told him. “ Then your troubles will really begin. Not to mention I for one don’t feel like trading one dictator for another.”

“ All I have to do is hide my plans long enough to unlock the secrets for myself. By then there will be nothing the Barons can do to stop me or steal my secrets for themselves. “

“This place elsewhere? “ Kane prompted

“ I have set up a power base set up in not far from here in what’s left of Boston. It was where I once upheld the laws of America and honored my oath. It is where I will be able to unseat the Barons from and harness the power of these secrets of the past. “

“ Good Luck. “ Kane replied sarcastically. Though he didn’t quite like the Freezies choice of words “ Like I said the Barons aren’t going to be to happy when they find out. What makes you think you of all people could unseat the Barons. “

“ Because I have forgotten knowledge locked away inside my head. Not to mention an army of highly trained agents at my fingertips. “

“What did you do before SkyDark? “ Brigid asked “ Agents sounds like some Law Enforcement agency.”

“ Right on the money. FBI to be exact. “

“ FBI? “ Kane replied skeptically “ Why would a formed FBI man wanted to ruled what’s left of America?”

“ Because the Barons are not human I have learned that much since awakening in the blighted reality.” The freezie replied “ I lived in the America before the blow out, I know what it was like. These hybrids that call themselves Barons have no true claim to what's left. That is why I seek to rule. “

“ You were sworn to protect the public, now your seeking to control them.”

“ You make me sound as if I’m so monster. That oath was to a long dead Government. It is void now.“

“ You are, monster. Oaths are suppose to mean something.“ Domi hissed “ Go leave. “

The freezie looked questioningly at Kane. “ Yes go. You’re no threat to us. Another distraction for the Baron’s is Welcome. “ Kane held the same view of the Freezie that Domi did, a person was only as good as there word and that extended to promises along with sworn oaths. The strange Freezie didn’t need to be told twice he turned and fled back out into the corridor and was gone from sight before Kane or anyone else could even blink. At that moment Kane questioned his decision to let the strange man who claimed to be a Freezie and a FBI agent for a long dead government go free. But it was done. He wondered when they would cross paths with FBI man once again and if it would be on friendly terms. With all he and his companions had seen and done he doubted it would be a friendly meeting and they didn’t even know the freezie’s name. Kane turned and led them outside once more. They would trek back to the redoubt and would jump back to Cerberus to fight another day. If they had to they would deal with him and his secret plans to claim the Outlands for himself. But at the moment the FBI mans plans didn’t conflict with Kane’s own and he had no desire to take the man on if his plans would throw a monkey wrench in the daily lives the nine Barons. For the moment Kane and his Companions would be on guard and watch for signs that the Freezie was no better than the Barons were. But time would tell.

The End

Copyright August 2000.

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