Uncertain Futures: Part Two

By: Brad Marsh

Kane, Grant, Domi and Brigid sat around one of the tables in the redoubts Cafeteria sipping real Coffee, which was one of the advantages of being an exile in Cerberus. Real Predark Coffee was worth it’s weight in gold, because it was hard to come by, leaving most of the worlds population drinking what was referred to as Coffee sub, which could be made with anything from Acorns to ground up pine nuts and all things in between. Cerberus was stocked with enough predark coffee along with sugar that each of the exiles could have a cup an hour everyday for the rest of there lives and never run out.

They were silent for several minuets, gathering their thoughts as they drank their coffee. It was Kane who spoke first. “ What’s everyone’s take on what happened back there in the control room? “ 

“ I’m not sure what to think. “ Grant replied “ It’s only been few hours since we returned from their casement. Now they pop up in the chamber with no warning and with that guy McCaffery claiming he saw Lakesh in a jump dream. “

“ Yet he know this was once Deathlands. “ Domi concluded “ Fucked up. “

“ I agree this is weird “ Brigid stated “ But it’s no less weird than anything else we’ve encountered in the last year or so. “

“ Yeah but it still leaves the question how did they get here? “ Kane told her “ We had to use the stones to break through to their casement, and we entered our doppelganger’s mind. Yet these three show up in the gateway, intact flesh and blood from their casement. It doesn’t make sense. “ 

“ It could be something Thrush did.  Evan stated he was chasing Thrush. Maybe Thrush altered the Gateways settings. We’ve seen it, look what happened when we tried to go back in time to New York City before SkyDark. Thrush was they’re waiting, but Lakesh has always stated his calculations were correct. “

“ Are you saying Thrush sent them here in Purpose? “ Grant asked

“ It’s possible. “

But why would he send them here. Why not just pick a random casement and push them into it. Why here and why our Gateway? “

“ Those are questions that are going to need to be answered. “ A new voice cut in. They are looked up from their conversation as Lakesh enter with Evan McCaffery, Sergeant Caron and Bear in tow. “ I’ve been speaking to Mr. McCaffery here about that very subject and he has some very interesting theories. “ 

“ Well? “ Kane prompted

“ I think this gatekeeper I saw had something to do with our ending up here. “ Evan informed him “ He called you the Guardians of the Deathlands. He also said my world needed me and that you would bring about Thrush’s downfall. Which makes me think he wanted us to meet all of you. “

“ That would explain this gatekeeper looking like Lakesh. “ Grant stated “ But that begs the question where’s Thrush? “

“ In one of the other Two casements. Would be my guess. “ Kane replied “ Waiting and planning for us to come after him, now that he knows we have the stones. “

“ Yeah but why send Evan, Bear and Carron here? “  Brigid asked “ Their potential allies for us in our fight against him. He’s taking a big chance that the three of them could tip the scales in our favor. “

“ I don’t think Thrush sent us here. “ Evan stated “ I think the gatekeeper sent us here to help you stop Thrush. If we had ended up were Thrush ended up, we could have ruined your chances of stopping him.  He told me Thrush was not my problem any longer that the three of you would bring him down. My duty was to my world, because the rebellion was almost over and my world was going to need strong leaders. “

“ What else did he say? “ Lakesh asked with a grin

“ He told me that the road home would be a long and dangerous one, that would test my faith and make me question all that I believe in, but I must believe no matter what my eyes show me. “

“ That suggests that you may not be able to just jump back to your own world. “ Lakesh stated “ As we all know there are things in the universe that go against all that we as humans are taught to believe in. This gatekeeper seems to think you will see some of these things first hand. “

“ If we can’t just jump home then how do we get home? “

“ Mat Trans winds. “ Domi replied cryptically, speaking for the first time since entering the cafeteria. Kane just looked at her, and raised his eyebrows, giving her a similar look to those she was getting from everyone in the room except Evan. Who was smiling as if he had known Domi was going to say something that. Catching sight of everyone’s faces Evan began to laugh a deep-throated laugh. The kind seldom heard in the Outlands. That caused Domi’s head to snap around to pin Evan in her gaze. “ What? “ she snapped at him.

 “ It was just the expression on everyone’s faces. “ he replied “ They don’t understand you the way I do. You’re extremely observant and keen in your interpretations. It was one of the things I loved about the Domi in my world. She was a lot like you. I’m sorry if I offended you. “

“ It’s alright. Made up with compliment. “ She replied “ What saying was Mat Trans may just take them back. They’re not from here. Mat Trans set things right. “

“ That is one possibility. “ Brigid replied “ But if this gatekeeper can be believed that is not very likely to happen. “

“ That brings up a good point. “ Bear announced as all eyes turned to regard him. “ How do we know this gatekeeper guy can be trusted? I mean if he really did send us here then why can’t he just send us home again? This guy could just as easily be on Thrush’s side, someone who was sent to distract us from following Thrush. “

“ Man’s got a good point. “ Grant rumbled “ Why is nothing ever simple around here? “

“ Because we’re the Guardians. “ Kane replied “ It’s your call McCaffery. We’ll do all we can to get you back home but right now you have a choice to make. Stay here a little longer and research things before getting into the Chamber for a jump home. Or you can just sleep for a few hours and then jump off straight away without any research. “

McCaffery hesitated for a single beat of the heart before turning to his two companions. Who regarded him solemnly. “ It’s all our lives at stake here. Rank doesn’t matter here. Tell me what you think we should do. “

“ I say we go slow and careful. I say rest and then jump straight away research is going to be fruitless because I highly doubt this has happened before. “ Bear responded

“ I agree. “ Caron replied “ Rest, then try and jump home. “

“ I was thinking the same thing. “ Evan replied truthfully. " Then we rest for twelve hours and then attempt a jump home. "

" We will give you all a place to rest and whatever else you may need. " Lakesh told them as he and Domi stood up from the table. " Domi here will show you all to the guest quarters, were you can clean up and rest. "

Domi nodded and strode out of the cafeteria with the three men following behind her. As soon as the doors slid shut. Brigid's voice shattered the silence " What the hell are you doing? " she snapped as Kane " Your sending those men off to die. "

" It's their choice Baptiste. " Kane responded " They want to get back home to friends and family. The three of us should understand that better than anyone. "

" I don't think they'll be killed during the jump. " Lakesh announced " It's what's waiting for them on the other end of that jump that could kill them. "

" Dead is Dead. " Grant replied

" It's in the hands of this gatekeeper now. " Kane replied " I'm not sure if he's kept us safe these last few months with were we've been an all but I still don't trust him. " With that Kane stood and strode from the room. Leaving Grant, Brigid and Lakesh staring after him.

The sound of Evans boor heels of the concrete floor of the redoubt echoed off the walls and reverberated down the corridor. Domi had already shown Carron and Bear to there quarters and was now leading Evan to his own. She could feel his eyes on her back, watching her every move as they strode towards his quarters.

" Are you happy here? " Evan suddenly asked

Domi stopped in the middle of the corridor, but she didn't turn around. " Yes. " she replied " My family is here. "

" You mean Kane, Grant and Brigid? "

" Along with Lakesh, and everyone else here in redoubt. " she said as she turned to face him her eyes glowing with anger.

" Then you would not consider leaving with me. "

" Home is here. " she replied as she turned and began walking down the corridor once more. " Plus love Grant not you. "

" Does he love you in return? "

" In own way. " With that they fell silent as Domi came to a door marked with the number twelve. " This you quarters while here." She didn't wait for a reply she simply turned and head towards Grants Quarters around the corner. She needed to talk and he was the only one trusted enough to talk no matter what. It was one of the reasons’s she loved him so much.

Grant had just entered his quarters, stretching his large frame out on the bed, his eyes closed, on the cusp of much needed sleep when the chime by the door jerked him back to full wakefulness. He swung his feet over the side of the bed, and made his way to the door. When he opened it he found Domi standing there tears streaming down her cheeks, eyes red and puffy. Without a word she through herself into his arms, the door closing behind him. “ Do you love me? “ she gasped between sobs.

“ We’ve been through this. “ he replied “ I’ve told you why it wouldn’t work. But you are part of my life here, along with Kane, Brigid, and even Lakesh. I dare say I’m starting to consider DeFore part of our little family as ill tempered as she may be. “

“ But do you love me? “

“ I’m not sure what I feel anymore. “ replied honestly “ Where is this coming from?  

“ Evan says he loved me in the world he comes from. Asked me to come home with him?“

“ What did you say? “

“ No. I love you not him. “ She replied looking up at him as he pulled her tightly to him. Lowering them to a sitting position on the bed. Domi buried her face in his chest, as her sobs slowly subsided. After awhile she fell asleep in his arms. Grant laid back and slipped into a comfortable sleep.

Several hours later Kane was sitting by himself in the Cafeteria drinking his third cup of coffee for the day, when Evan strode in, freshly showered and rested. He drew himself a cup of coffee and joined Kane at the table he was sitting at. “ Evan. “ he said in way of greeting.

“ Kane. “ came the reply  “ Your up late. “

“ Sleep is a luxury I am rarely able to indulge in. “ Kane told him “ I hardly ever sleep more than four or five hours a night. It’s part of my Mag Training. “

“ Mag? “

“ Ville Enforcers. “ Kane explained “ Like the SS in your world. “

“ I see. Brutal enforcer of Law and Order. The currant leaders version of it anyway. “

“ The Chamber is almost ready for your Jump. “ Kane informed him.  “ In a couple of hours it should be an all go. “

“ Good. “ Evan replied “ If the gatekeeper is to be believed the sooner I return to my world the better. “

“ As Domi said earlier it’s going to be in the hands of the Mat Trans winds. “

“ With Thrush and the gatekeeper unknown variables I’m hoping the lords of chaos don’t step in. “

“ I’ve never known a time when they haven’t. “ Kane replied grimly.

“ That’s comforting. “ Evan replied as he swallowed the last of his coffee and stood. “ I’ll leave you to your thoughts. I’m going to grab some shuteye before I climb into that torture machine you call a gateway. “ With that he turned and glided through the double doors at the head of the cafeteria and out into the main part of the redoubt. Kane sat there staring after him, as he drank his coffee. Finally he returned to the problem he had been mulling over when Evan had entered the cafeteria. Thrush and the remaining two casements.

Two hours later Evan was standing just outside the Gateway with Bear and Carron already sitting in the Gateway. Kane was facing him, flanked by Lakesh and Brigid. Domi and Grant stood just behind them. “Good Luck. “ Kane intoned “ I have a feeling your going to need it. “

“ Thank you, for everything. “

“ Your very welcome.” Lakesh replied “ As Mr. Kane has told me on many occasions allies are allies no matter where they come from. “

Evan nodded a smile of understanding flashing across his face for just an instant before it was gone and the cool demeanor returned once more. He nodded to each of them, his eyes lingering in Domi’s face as she leaned against Grant. With a sad smile he turned and entered the chamber, silently closing the door behind him, triggering the jump that would hopefully take them home. He lowered himself to the chamber floor as the familiar white mist began filling the chamber. He had barely settled his muscular frame on the floor when the blackness swept in and claimed him. His last thoughts were of the exiles in Cerberus, he hoped that they would be able to defeat Thrush once and for all. Remembering Kane’s cold gray eyes staring down at him when he had awakened he had a feeling Thrush was in for fight unlike anything he’d experienced before. He wondered if he’d ever see them again.

Evan awoke to find himself laying inside a chamber almost identical to the one he had start the jump from back in Cerberus. The one major difference, were the walls, were they had been brown back in Cerberus they were a deep maroon in this chamber. They had jumped, the question was were did they jump to. He was now lying on his back, as were his two companions. He slowly eased himself into a sitting position with his back against the wall. Bear groaned from across the room, as he slowly struggled to return to consciousness. Carron was already awake but he was not willing to move anymore than he had to at the moment. He had opened his eyes and promptly closed them as bolts of white-hot pain shot through his head.

It was a little over fifteen minuets before the trio was recovered enough to move out of the chamber to discover where they had ended up. Evan drew his Colt 1911 as he eased the chamber door open and peered out. What he saw caused him to slam the door closed with a curse.

“ What? “ Bear asked

“ I’m not sure where we are it’s not the Chancellery building back home. “ he responded  “ The color of the walls told us that right off, but what I saw out in the control room confirmed it. “

“ What did you see? “

“ People. “ Evan replied “ They looked like Eskimo’s “

“ Eskimo’s? “

“ I know it sounds crazy but that’s what it looked like. The fact my slamming the chamber door closed didn’t trigger another jump isn’t lost on me either. “

“ What know? “ Carron asked

“ Either we stay in here and they starve us out or we go out there and they kill us. “

“ Great. “ Bear muttered “ It’s always nice to have choices. “

“ I for one would rather have it be quick. “ Carron stated

“ I agree. “ Evan replied as he gripped the handle to the door, and opened it, stepping through with his Colt pointed at the floor. Bear and Carron right on his heels. They hadn’t even bothered to draw their own blasters. They were greeted by a dozen fur clad figures, armed with homemade single shot muskets.  Each of those Muskets was trained on the trio as the walked out into the control room.

To Be Continued.
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