Uncertain futures: Part One.

By Brad Marsh.

 

" Another time, Kane. And most certainly another place. "

The words had barely died away, the Alien presence from another world known as Kane fading away into nothing leaving Field Marshall Thrush standing in the street alone with the stiffening corpse of a man also known as Kane. He had been a trusted officer with in the German army, but his life had been sacrificed when an alien presence had taken control of his mind and body. That had started it all, the fall of an empire nearly three hundred years old. There had been three spies from another alternate world who had crossed through the thin curtains of time and space between the two worlds. They had died trying to kill him, and Thrush knew in his heart they would try again to over throw him and that scared him. Out of all the individuals who had tried to stop him, Kane and his mysterious companions had come the closest. But he had other problems at the moment. It had been three months since the invaders had been expelled back to there own time and place. In that time open rebellion had broken out and a gorilla war was been fought through the streets of Dulce New Mexico the North American Capital since the mid 1940's after Germany won the second world war. The German presence had been reduced to a few pockets of resistance one of them being Dulce, but they were quickly being drive back towards the southern limits of the city. What soldiers and officers remained were fighting a running war, always on the defensive, never having a momentís chance of turning the tables and driving the rebels from the capital. Even with there superior weapons the German army was being beaten. They were tired, bloody, and hungry. Any one of these things could spell defeat but all three meant swift and bloody defeat. Thrush was leading a headlong retreat through the city streets hoping to make it to the Chancellery building in the southern end of the city. He and a hand full of officers had been exchanging blaster fire with a group of rebels. He had lost three of his party so far and six rebels had gone down under the return fire. As the group of rebels steadily grew closer, he silently prayed that those that remained would make it to the Chancellery building.

 If he and his remaining officers could get there they could use the secret Mat Trans unit located with in the buildings basement to jump somewhere else. Some place where they could rest and regroup, then they could jump back to the Chancellery building and take back the city. If they failed to make it to the gateway all was lost. If that happened, Thrush planned to move on to one of the other alternate worlds, even though it pained him to see so much work and time go up in smoke. His goals could be reached from any of a dozen similar worlds, losing this world was only a set back not a loss. There were fifteen men and women with him, all white, blonde haired blue eyed, perfect specimens of the Aryan Nation Adolph Hitler's dream had helped create.  Now it was all coming down around Thrush's ears, because of three interlopers. No matter what the out come they would pay dearly for their roles in the rebellion. He pushed those thoughts aside as the Chancellery building came into view. They made an all out sprint down the deserted smoke filled street and through the open armored sec doors to the lobby. Shouts of rage and frustration erupted from the fifty or so rebels following them, as the building doors slide closed with a resounding clang. This left the rebels in the street and their enemies safe for the moment with in the Chancellery building.  Several riffle rounds hammered into the door but failed to penetrate. The sounds of shouting and rhythmic pounding of riffle butts and fists against the outer side of the door faded away as Thrush led his troops towards the basement entrance.

" Shit. " Hissed a short compact man, as he slammed the butt of his riffle into the armored sec door with no effect.

" Out of the blasted way. " A deep brass voice thundered from with in the crowd of rebels.

Those standing just below the steps to the Chancellery building parted to let a tall well-built man strode through. The man who appeared from with the crowd was a hair over six feet tall with close-cropped blonde hair. He was dressed much like all the other rebels that he commanded, in a oval green drab army fatigues and a shirt with long sleeves, rolled up to his elbows.

He was armed only with a .45 caliber Colt 1911 that was holstered on his right hip. A black and tan name patch identified his as Captain Evan McCaffery. He strode to the bottom of the marble steps that lead to the Chancellery building defensive Sec door. Evan McCaffery was the commander in charge of the rebel force that had pursued Thrush and his soldiers to the Chancellery building. He was a ten-year veteran of the underground rebellion. Even though he had never met Major Kane or his two companions Major Grant and Captain Baptiste, he like most of people with in the resistance revered them as heroes. Figures who gave everything so that the rebellion would have a chance of toppling the German Empire and freeing those who lived under there heel. Their names had become the battle cries that united the rebellion and a symbol of respect for those who died fighting their German oppressors.

" Status. " McCaffery demanded of the small compact man who he knew only as Bear.

" Thrush and his brain washed fucking lap dogs are inside. This door is made of Sec steel; some kind of Armaglass based alloy. I've been hammering on it for the past five minuets with nothing more than scratches for my efforts, Sir. "

" Very good. Bear. " Evan replied " You yourself saw Thrush and his troops go inside this building, through this door. " Bear nodded to Evan in reply. " Very good work Bear. " He replied as he turned back to face the crowd of rebels and freedom fighters that were assembled behind him. " Anyone with Grens turn them over now, it's going to take everything we've got to blow this door and I'm not sure that all we've got will even dent this door, but we have to try. We're to close to taking out Thrush now and to many of our friends and family have died getting us this far. So don't hold back, Grens, C-4 and any rockets you may have, turn them over to Bear and he'll see to their placement." With that one by one each rebel deposited whatever Grens, rockets and C-4 they had at bears feet. One man ever produced a half-pound bag of black power that he added to the pile. Explaining that he had taken it from a mortar emplacement on the northern edge of the city after he and three other had chilled the crew manning it.

Fifteen minuets later everything that had been turned over was piled at the base of the door, with several Grens fixed along the sides of the door jam. A long length of fuse ran from the black powder around the corner of the Chancellery building. It ended in front of Evan and Bear, where they were crouched. The rest of the rebel force was hunkered down behind a burned out APC a hundred yards behind them. Bear glanced at Evan, who gave a slight barely perceptible nod, and Bear touched the lit self light he held in his hand to the end of the fuse, watching it hiss and spit as the flame raced towards the pile of explosives.

Field Marshal Thrush was smiling. Not because he had escaped his rebel enemies, but just because he and his troops had reached the Mat Trans unit with in the Basement didn't mean there were safe. They had no more than reached the control room connected to the Gateway when a huge explosion rocked the building. Small clouds of plaster dust, and chunks of concrete rained down of the groups heads, bouncing off comp terminals and ringing off the stainless steel desks that were scattered around the room. Thrush snarled in bitter anger, as the sound of steel bending and warping drifted down to them from above. He strode to a console on the far way next to the doorway that lead to the anter room and the gateway chamber beyond and quickly tapped in a four digit code. That done he turned to his troops once more.

" Into the Gateway. Quickly. " Thrush snapped as he moved through the anter room doorway and opened the armaglass gateway door. He waved his troops through, and then he slipped into the chamber, closing the door behind him. He sat on the floor, staring at the rust colored armaglass walls, as white mist began filling the chamber and the jump began. Thrush closed his eyes and smiled as the darkness took him into its embrace, then he and his troops were gone. Whisked off down the invisible mat Trans pathways towards their destination. Which Thrush himself only knew. He only hoped his little parlor games would work. For he had left a nasty little surprise for anyone who tried to follow him. The first two digits of the code he had tapped into the chambers main computer, was there destination code. The second two digits was a block out code that would send anyone who attempted to followed them any where but where they were head. His little insurance policy.

Evan McCaffery and Bear were the first one through the smoke and heat of the blast and into the Chancellery buildings lobby scrabbling over the what remained of the sec doors to get there. Evan had his Colt 1911 clutched in his right hand, Bear his Mossberg 500 pump action shotgun braced against his hip as he moved it in a sweeping arc looking for targets and finding none. The expected volley of blaster fire that would cut them to ribbons never came. There was no sign that anyone was still in the building, even though the sound of the blast would have carried to the deepest parts of the building. Evan turned as a half dozen of his men sprinted up from across the street and entered the lobby, each one gripping a drawn blaster.

" Sir the rest of the squad is waiting across the street to cover over backs and prevent any of the enemy from escaping. " the sergeant leading the group announced as he saluted. His shirt identified him as Brian Caron.

" Well done, Sergeant Caron. " McCaffery replied " Leave two of your men here to guard the door and the rest will accompany the three of us to the basement level. I have a feeling that's were Thrush will head, if he has a rabbit hole that's where it will be. Lets move out. " Caron and his remaining four men followed McCaffery with Bear bringing up the rear, as they headed towards the stairs and the basement. McCaffery had herd rumors that there was a device called a Gateway in the basement of each and every Government building. They were said to be able of to instantly transport living and organic matter from one Gateway to another. No one with in the rebellion had ever seen one. But Evan had a sinking feeling that there was one located with the Chancellery Building. It made sense in a way, because Thrush had picked this building, losing two men getting to this building, while passing up hundreds of other buildings. There had to be a reason why, and Thrush was not the sort of man that would put himself into a situation he didn't have a way out of if things turned ugly. If he were a stupid man he would not have been Field Marshall of the units of German soldiers stationed in North American.

Either that or he was leading his men into a trap that would get them all killed, either way he had to find Thrush. The stairwell leading to the lower levels of the building stood dark and silent as the seven rebel soldiers approached it. Each man looked around nervously as they began descending the stairs to the basement level. Their footsteps and their breathing was the only sound with the stairway as they made their way down. Each man gave a small sigh of relief as the lights from the basement area came into view. There was still no sound coming from the basement area. They stepped into the basement, immediately seeing that there was only a single doorway at the end a twenty-foot long corridor.  McCaffery motioned Bear and Sergeant Caron forward.

" This doesn't feel right some how. There should be guards in this corridor and in the Stairway. But there aren't. It feels like Thrush and his troops are gone, but it may be a trick. I want two men left here to cover our flank while the rest of us check out what's through that doorway. Even though I have a pretty good idea of what we'll find. " McCaffery told them once they had come up to stand next to him.

Both men nodded as Caron motioned for two men to remain behind and the other two to follow McCaffery and Bear into the other room. All five of them stopped dead as they glided over the thresh hold and entered the room. The room was little more than ten feet across by twelve feet long, and almost every square inch of floor space was occupied by Comp terminals or stainless desks. A small leeway at the far end of the room led off into an alcove roughly half the size of the room with the comps and desks. It was what all five men could see inside that alcove that had made them halt just inside the doorway. It was a hexagon shaped chamber, made of a rust colored material called Armaglass. The door to the chamber was closed, but through the small port hole in that door they could all see a thin cloud of white mist that was fading away right before there eyes.

 " Holy Shit. " Bear whispered with a quiet awe. " What the fuck is that? "

" A Gateway. " Evan replied 

" What the hell is a Gateway? " Bear demanded

" Only a rumor or so I thought. It's a device that's said to be able to transport living and non-living matter instantly from one Gateway to another. The US Government was working on it before the war. Seems Hitler and his pals finished the work and made it a reality.  Holy Shit is right. "

" This could mean the end for the Rebellion. " Caron responded " Nazi's popping up anywhere without warning. Who knows how many of these Gateways there are in the city alone, never mind across North America. " 

" In that case we need to get in there and find out where Thrush and his goons ended up. " Bear announced " It's the only way the Rebellion will be safe. The more we find out now the better off we are."

" I agree Bear. You, Sergeant Caron and I will use the Gateway to follow Thrush or at least try. I know Thrush and I know how his mind works, more than likely were not going to end up in the same place. Seeing, as we have no idea how to use this thing. But we have to try. " He replied as he turned to the Corporal standing behind Caron. " Corporal. You and these other men will wait here for twelve hours. If we do not return by then, you are to pull back to the lobby and wait there for another Twelve hours. If at the end of that time we still have not returned I want a messenger sent to General Stoner, one who will be able to give an oral report on what happened here. This discovery could either win this war for us or lose it for us. Depending on how we use this information. Understood? "

The corporal nodded and saluted the three men, who in turned returned the salute. " God Speed. Gentlemen. " He announced as they entered the rust colored chamber and closed the door. The mist began to gather inside the chamber almost immediately. The three figures inside sat down on the glowing floor plates and with a brilliant flash of light they were gone. Leaving the Corporal and his sidekick standing alone in the control room. Not knowing if they would ever see the three men alive again.

Kane, Grant and, Brigid had been back in the Cerberus Redoubt for no more than ninety minuets when the Mat Trans unit kicked on and Bry's voice sang out " Incoming Jumpers. " Kane and Grant tensed their wrist tendons and their Sin Eaters sprang into their waiting hands as they rushed into the control room. Lakesh and Baptiste (Brigid grasping a mini-Uzi in both hands), right on there heels.  The jump chamber powered down and Kane through open the chamber door, with Grant at his shoulder, even before all of the mist had dissipated. Waving some of the mist away with his left Kane saw three unconscious figures lying in the middle of the jump Chamber.  The figure closest to Kane was a tall muscular man with close-cropped blonde hair. The second figure was a short compact man with dark brown hair that was also close cropped. The third and final figure was also a male; he was of medium build and height, with raven black hair. Kane had a suddenly flash of memory, as he got a good look at what the three men were wearing. Glancing over his shoulder at Grant, Kane knew that Grant had spotted the clothing as well.

" How? " Grant asked

" I don't know but will know as soon as they wake up. "

Evan McCaffery was in the midst of one the most vivid dreams he had ever had in his life. At least he hoped it was a dream. The jump chamber was gone and he was now walking in a black and burnt ash covered forest that was still smoldering in places. His feet sending tiny clouds of gray ash dust into the air around him with each step. For as far as the eye could see there were charred remains of thousands of trees, a haze of smoke hung in the air like a burial shroud. He could see a short compact hooded figure standing amid the smoldering, smoking ash, with no other options available to him, Evan McCaffery began walking towards the figure. As he approach, the hooded figure turned and the figures smiling face greeted him, only his eye were bloody raw weeping sockets. He had no hands, and as his hood fell back, Evan was greeted by the sight of the mans bald, head which was covered with open sores that leaked Purple blood. It was only with an iron will that McCaffery tore his eyes from the mans head and focused on his face and what the figure was telling him. He was of Indian ancestry that much was for sure. But other than that he had no idea who the man was. But his words instantly grabbed McCaffery's attention. " Welcome to the land of lost souls. " figure announced " I am the Gate Keeper. "

" How did I get here? " 

" You were brought here because you have crossed from the place of hope to the place of death. "

" I do not understand. "

" Your hero's. Our hero's wait for you in the place of death. They are the guardians of the Deathlands. You have taken the path that will lead you to their rightful place in time and space. "

" Why have I been brought the land of Death? "

" To learn the truth. " the figure replied as if it was a surprised that Evan did not know this already.

" Will these truths lead me to Thrush? " 

" Thrush is not your concern. You world needs you more now than ever. You are a leader and your world is going to need leaders if there is ever going to be piece. The Guardians have the power to stop Thrush and if you do your part right then they will succeed and your world along with countless other will be safe once more. But the road home is a long one; it will test your faith, and make you questions all you know. You must believe even when your mind tells you not to." With that the figure was gone and an inky blackness enveloped McCaffery. The land of lost souls, and the burnt forest faded into nothingness. Slowly Evan began to wake from his Jump dream. What he saw as he opened his eyes made no sense. But he still had the figures last words echoing in his ears. You must believe it had said. What saw was a tall well build man with Gray eyes and long brown hair standing over him. He was in a room almost identical to the one that had been in the basement of the Chancellery building in Dulce. But he could sense other people behind the man with the gray eyes.

" I for one have a million questions. " Grant replied. With that the two men carried the three figures out into the control room laying them on a large worktable near the main door and disarming them. DeFore there resident doctor was waiting for them, her Med kit in hand. As Kane and Grant moved away to stand by Lakesh, Brigid got her first look at the uniforms the three men wore.  A look of surprise registered on her face but she said nothing as her eyes met Kane's.

" There coming out it " Defore announced. The man with the close cropped blonde hair that seemed to be the groups leader, opened his eyes. He was lying on the table staring up at the ceiling, trying to control his breathing. His eyes focused once more as Kane stepped into his field of vision.

" Who are you? " the man gasped his eyes boring into Kane. 

" My name is Kane. "

" That is impossible. Kane is dead. Killed by Field Marshall Thrush three months ago. You lie."

" What you say is true, but it is only true in you reality. In this reality I am very much alive. "

" Are Grant and Baptiste here with you as well? "

Without a word Kane stepped back and Grant, Brigid and Lakesh stepped forward. The moment Lakesh came into the mans frame of sight his hand shot out, index finger drilling a line towards the old man. " You. " he whispered. " You are the Gate Keeper. How can that be? " 

" I ashore you that I am not the Gate Keeper. My name is Mohammed Lakesh. "

" But I spoke to you. You were waiting for me in the land of lost souls. You were deformed and bloody but it was you I spoke to. "

" I am in the Deathlands. " Evan announced

Kane nodded " It's called the Outlands now, but once it was called the Deathlands. "

" We have much to talk about. " Evan announced as he pushed himself up off the table and planted his feet on the floor. He stood looking as the four figures before him.  No one spoke for a very long time and then the door to the control room slid open and Domi strode in. All of the blood drained from Evans face, at the sight of Domi.

" Domi. " he whispered

" How you know name? " she demanded as she strode up next to Kane. " Who you? "

" My name is Captain Evan McCaffery with the Resistance. I know your name because we were lovers once, a long time ago. Before you joined the resistance. I was slow to follow. I was in California when word of your Death reached me. It is one of the reasons I am chasing Thrush. "

" You know about Thrush. " Kane asked with mild surprise, as he knew most everyone in the Nazi controlled casement they had just left knew Thrush.

" He and I have crossed swords before. When we attacked Dulce it was my job to find and destroy Thrush at all costs. I will tell you the whole story once my companions awaken, then we can all talk and no one will have to repeat them selves. "

Kane nodded " Lets get all of you to the infirmary where you can rest. Once youíre strong enough and rested we can talk more. About how you got here, Thrush and this Gate Keeper who looks like Lakesh here."  With that Kane and Grant Carried Bear and Caron to the infirmary with Evan walking along behind them with Defore steadying him, ready to catch him if he should fall or begin to pass out. All talk of Gateways, Thrush, and the Mysterious GateKeeper were put on hold for a better more suitable time.

TO BE CONTINUED.

COPY RIGHT AUGUST 2000.

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