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 Pavlov's Checkmate, another story set in the DS universe
LettuceBacon&Tomato
Posted: Sep 6 2009, 08:33 PM


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They kicked James to his knees, and lights flashed on around him.

“Disarmed, and then full-Nelsoned him!” the man repeated to the man in the middle of the lights. "Donitz had his number!"

The man stepped into the light, and James saw it was Ricky.

Ricky socked him across the face. “What’s your name?” he growled.

James realized he was the voice from the radio. He said nothing.

“Who cares what his name is?” said one man. “Le’s just shoot him!”

“Wait, we should find out how he discovered this place!” interjected Hans.

Ricky nodded. “But if he ain’t willing to talk, no reason to waste my time.” He drew a knife and pointed it at James’ head. “Last chance. Name.”

James glared back. “James.”

Ricky didn’t lower the knife. “All right, James, how’d you find this place?”

“I’m an archaeologist. I was searching the desert for anything interesting and stumbled across the mesa. I saw lights inside so I decided to investigate.”

Ricky scoffed. “Sure. You’re a damn good fighter for an archaeologist.”

“Would you rather I say I’m a government agent? They know all about you, and you’re next on their list.”

“Did you come alone?”

“Yes.”

They all started laughing. James realized they already knew about Werner.

“Glad we got us one of them smart government agents!” smiled Ricky. He put his knife away.

“What should we do with him, sir?” asked a man.

“Lock him up with the others. If he is working with someone, we can use the hostages as leverage.”

A man roughly pulled James to his feet. “Git moving!” he ordered, gun brandished.

James saw two men carrying Werner. He wasn’t moving.

James looked at Hans, who wasn’t quite able to meet his eye. James bowed his head and let himself be taken back into the mesa catacombs.

They walked back through the locker room, took several passageways, and emerged in a dark room near the bottom of the mesa. Three tied-up figures were already in the room.

As soon as the door was shut and the guards left, James rolled Werner over and checked his pulse. “Werner. Are you all right?”

Werner nodded. “I tried to give you cover while on the ground, but they took my weapons.”

“Me too. It’s all right.” James checked the wound. It was a nasty puncture, that appeared to go through Werner’s side. “I wish I knew more medicine, or had something to work with.”

One of the figures behind them let out a muffled grunt, trying to say something. James looked over, walked to it, and pulled the hood off.

A tied and gagged Shelton stared back at him.


This post has been edited by LettuceBacon&Tomato on Sep 6 2009, 08:34 PM
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Serris
Posted: Sep 6 2009, 08:58 PM


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Oh, things are getting interesting.
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LettuceBacon&Tomato
Posted: Sep 7 2009, 01:38 PM


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James quickly pulled the gag out. “What on Earth are you doing here?”

“I’m not Shelton,” the man said quickly. “Let me explain. But first, let me and my companions loose. You’ll recognize them also.”

James got to work, and was even more surprised to find Zachary and Dr. Joe under the other hoods.

“James!” exclaimed Zachary. “I never expected to see you here!”

“James?” repeated Dr. Joe incredulously. “How did you get here?”

“I was just about to ask you the same thing!” James pointed at Dr. Joe, then Zach, then Shelton. “You’re supposed to be at Crimson Base, you’re testifying to the Supreme Court, and you’re on the other side of the bridge we used to get here!”

“Technically,” reminded Shelton, “as it’s 1990, I’m still in Europe, and that hasn’t happened yet. But like I said, I’m not Shelton. Nor is this Zachary or Jospehine.”

“Do you remember your first attempt at using the Einstein-Rosen Bridge?” asked Zachary.

James nodded. “It failed.”

“No, it didn’t. At least, not completely.”

Shelton took over the story. “Remember Lockdown? During the trip through, Lockdown panicked and overloaded the bridge with antimatter. It created an antimatter bridge, which finished the journey, complete with anti-matter copies of your team.”

“Copies?” James looked at the three of them. “So you’re—

“Yep,” Shelton nodded. “You wouldn’t believe what we went through to get home.”

“But there were at least ten people on my team…”

“Not all of us made it back.” Shelton paused. “It was thanks to the sacrifices of James and the others that we got through.”

Dr. Joe and Zachary looked down.

“So, the others. They all died?”

“Not Lockdown,” said Dr. Joe. “He made it through with us.”

“What happened?”

“We reemerged in Pelvanida on June 1st, 2009. Ricky, the night guard, was the first and only person to encounter us. We told him our story, and he offered to take us to the guard post and alert someone to our presence.”

“What went wrong?”

“I quickly realized we were heading the wrong way,” said Shelton. “deeper into the desert. When I called him on it, he stunned us.”

Zachary took over. “When we woke up, we were tied up in what we later learned was the cave atop Red Dune Mesa. Ricky had friends in the Caron City lowlife, and they were forming an organization, revolving around the Einstein-Rosen Bridge.”

“Their plan was to use the bridge to steal weaponry and technology,” added Dr. Joe. “And possibly recruit others.”

“But they needed to build a generator to power the bridge,” jumped in Shelton. “And I told them I couldn’t do that without knowing more about the bridge’s construction.”

“They tried to force Cale to join them and power the bridge for them, but Cale couldn’t be intimidated,” said Dr. Joe.

“So they blackmailed Hans,” said Zachary. “As a former terrorist, he had been involved in the bridge’s creation and understood everything about it.”

“And so Hans and Shelton worked overnight, since Ricky threatened to kill one of us for every night that passes and the generator isn’t finished,” said Dr. Joe. “How they got it done in one night, I’ll never know."

"Hans had most of the breakthroughs," jumped in Shelton. "My biggest contribution was a compensator that rounded coordinates to the nearest 'safe' set, so people didn't walk into space."

"Long and short it worked, and the first target was chosen," continued Zachary. "1990, when Pelvanida was first built.”

“But I forgot to tell them one important thing,” said Shelton. “Namely, that once we go through the bridge, it won’t come with us.”

“It worked,” said Zachary. “We trapped them in 1990, with no way of damaging any more timelines.”

“Ricky wasn’t too happy about that,” said Dr. Joe. “To punish us, he killed Lockdown.”

“And he threatened to kill Zachary and Dr. Joe if I didn’t build him a new bridge,” concluded Shelton.

“So you did?” exclaimed James.

“What could I do?” protested Shelton. “I couldn’t let him kill Zachary and Jospehine!”

“I didn’t even know you knew how to build one!”

“Yours doesn’t. And even still, Hans and I only knew how to make one that travels in 3 dimensions on Earth’s surface. I still don’t know how the original bridge mastered time.”

“Ricky mentioned an ITG over the radio.”

“That’s it. I named it. Intraorbital Tri-Dimensional Gateway.”

Werner shifted his position, groaning slightly. “That’s very interesting.”

Dr. Joe knelt over him, tearing the hem off her shirt and using it to mop the blood. “This is bad,” she said. “I don’t know how much I can do.”

There was a noise outside the cell, and Hans appeared, face pale. “James, I’m so sorry!” he exclaimed. “I didn’t know it was you, if I had—”

“It’s all right, Hans,” said James. “I understand.”

Hans fished the key out of his pocket and unlocked the cell. He rushed to Werner’s side and sat on his knees next to him. “I’m sorry, son,” he said. “I was afraid Ricky would hurt you or attack you if I said no, and your life was just turning around with your new job and everything…”

“It’s okay, dad,” said Werner weakly. “I understand why you did everything. I read the letter. Next time, let’s face our problems as a family. Together?”

Hans held his hand. “I promise.”

“It’s not over yet,” continued Werner dizzily. “We’re here to get you out of here.”

Dr. Joe looked up. “He needs medication, the damage is pretty severe. We're losing him.”

“There’s an infirmary not far from here,” said Hans. “We can easily get there.”

“We can’t just go for the medicine,” said James. “Some of us need to head out and stop Warden, or we’ll help Werner but still be locked up.”

“Shelton and I will head for the infirmary,” said Zach. “You and Hans make your way to the barracks and gather support.”

“I know other personnel who feel like I do,” said Hans. “I can convince some of them to help stage a takeover.”

Hans unclipped his pistol and gave it to James. “First we need to get to the armory,” he said.

James nodded. “Let’s go.”


This post has been edited by LettuceBacon&Tomato on Dec 18 2009, 04:49 PM
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LettuceBacon&Tomato
Posted: Sep 8 2009, 01:29 AM


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The teams split up at the nearest junction. “Exactly how many men are we counting on?” asked James.

“There are only four or five I’d trust enough to arm,” Hans replied.

Two hallways later, and they reached the armory.

“All right,” said James. “Now we—”

Suddenly Hans ripped the pistol out of James hand and pointed it at him. “Get moving,” he growled, pointing at the way back to the jail.

James was stunned until he saw a giant hulking guard had just entered the room.

“This man escaped from the cell,” said Hans. “I’m taking him back.”

The man nodded. “I’ll sound the alarm.” He crossed to the radio embedded in the wall.

“No!” Hans said hurriedly. “Ricky doesn’t want panic to spread! He wants to keep the break quiet.”

The man furrowed his brow. “I guess…”

Suddenly an alarm went off. “Jailbreak! The prisoners have escaped!” the radio yelled.

“Hey, that wasn’t me—” the man started, but Hans pistol-whipped him over the head.

“That was Stevens,” Hans explained. “He would have torn us limb from limb.”

James looked at the alarm. “Zach and Shelton must have been seen. We’re running out of time.”

Hans opened the armory, taking an AK-47 and passing James an 89 Howa. Then he passed James a helmet.

James put it on. “I can’t hear a thing.”

A radio cackled near his ear. “These have radios in them,” Hans explained. “And flick the eye screen down, you’ve got night vision. We stole these from Great Britain.”

Now armed, Hans and James approached the barracks.

“3. . . 2 . . . 1!”

Hans and James burst in. Ten or twelve men looked back.

James recognized one. “Kerzach!”

Kerzach looked back at him.

Hans kept his gun in a non-threatening position and removed his helmet. “This is Donitz. The prisoners and I have started a takeover, and anyone who wants in can join us and escape back to 2009.”

The men were silent, but no objections were raised.

Hans pointed out four of them, including Kerzach. “These are the ones I know I can trust,” he said.

“And I can vouch for these two,” Kerzach motioned to the men on his left.

The remainders were tied up. “Sorry about this,” said Hans. “You might be on our side or you might not be, and we can’t take any chances.”

He turned to the newly-recruited men. “Let’s get to the armory and stock up.”

On the way, James turned to Kerzach. “What on Earth are you doing here?”

Kerzach looked sheepishly at the ground. “Remember I changed my identity to Steven Irving? Well, I had to sneak into Pelvanida late and change a bunch of files to keep from getting discovered. Ricky discovered me and promised to keep quiet, but later threatened to expose me if I didn’t join his organization. So I decided to go willingly and be a member rather than a prisoner.”

“Is there any other random people going to show up that have no business being here?” James asked Hans exasperatedly.

They reached the armory the men stocked up on weapons. “Someone’s coming,” reported Hans from the doorway.

“Are they friendly?” asked James.

Hans peeked out the door, then retreated into the armory as their attackers returned fire. “No.”

Three men took up positions at the door. “They’re pulling back!” Kerzach said.

“Obviously they don’t want to fight us when we’re in a room filled with weaponry.” James cocked his rifle. “Let’s stop them from getting back to the mesa top.”

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LettuceBacon&Tomato
Posted: Sep 8 2009, 05:40 PM


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They eventually reached the infirmary. Shelton and Zachary were nowhere in sight.

“Do you think they were killed?” asked Hans. James didn’t answer.

They emerged at the T-junction. Hans took three men down the right hallway, while James, Kerzach and the two remainders approached the locker room.

Ricky’s men were attempting to get up the crawlspace. Those who weren’t up yet fired at them. One of James’ men fell.

James sniped the man halfway in the tunnel, giving them time as the survivors pulled the man out. James saw Kerzach taking cover behind the lockers.

“Cover me!” James dove to the side, avoiding the return fire, then shot one man in the leg. Crawling into the clothes locker, he dropped to the floor as bullets ripped through the wood and uniforms above him. He started army-crawling to the end of the locker, which filled the wall.

He heard someone fall from his team. He didn’t know if it was Kerzach or not.

He was at the end of the locker. Cocking his rifle, James kicked the door down and fired at the first man he saw. The next he cracked across the skull with the butt of his rifle, then quickly re-loaded—

A shot pinged off his helmet. He staggered backwards, stars erupting into his vision. He lost his aim.

The amount of gunfire in the room suddenly increased, but when James hit the floor and his vision cleared he found he was still in one piece.

Hans and his men were in the door, barrels smoking. Behind him, Kerzach was leaning against the splintered locker, breathing heavily. “Are you all right?” asked Hans.

James nodded, getting to his feet. “Some of them got away.”

“It doesn’t matter,” said Hans. “We’d have to go up there to stop Ricky anyway.”

James looked at the crawlpassage up. “They’ve got someone waiting there to shoot us.”

Hans nodded. “They definitely have the mesa top by now. But it is the only way up.”

James shook his head. “There’s another way. But first, Kerzach you need to go back to the infirmary and grab as many of those medicinal bottles and stuff as you can. Get it to the cell block, Werner’s badly injured. Can you do that?”

Kerzach nodded. “I’ll hurry.”

“The rest of us,” James thumbed back down the hallway. “This way.”

He led them back to the first room, open to the mesa wall. The breaking of dawn was visible outside. “Let’s get climbing.”

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Serris
Posted: Sep 9 2009, 12:04 AM


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This is getting cool.
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LettuceBacon&Tomato
Posted: Sep 9 2009, 02:32 PM


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James slung his rifle over his shoulder, hoisted himself onto the mesa ledge and started scaling the mesa wall. His men followed him out.

The climbing was quick and silent. Finally, James rolled over the top and braced himself.

The mesa top was empty.

“They’re all in the cave,” said Hans. “Probably planning to transport themselves to safety.”

James’ blood ran cold. “We have to stop them!”

Gunfire rang out from the cave at them. Gunners had taken positions in the rocks and were firing down at them.

One of them had a stationed machine gun. A row of dusty bullets peppered the mesa edge, missing James by inches. His helmet thankfully blocked the deafening sound out.

James flipped his night vision visor down and scoped the machine gunner, quickly dispatching him. “Cover me!” he yelled, making a run for the ramp. “I have to get up there!”

“You won’t make it in time!” said Hans, firing at the cave. “He’ll have the gateway up and his men through in seconds!”

__________________________________________________________________

Inside the cave, the survivors from the locker room battle had just arrived.

“Get it on!” ordered Ricky to the man at the control panel. “Fall back coordinates!”

“Sir, once we go there, we’ll be trapped again,” complained one soldier.

Ricky jabbed his thumb at Shelton and Zachary, both roped together in the corner. “We still got the doc, and someone to threaten. We’ll make him build another one.”

“Sir,” reported another. “Nguyen’s due back from China in two minutes. If we wait for him…”

Ricky shook his head. “I don’t want to spend any more time in this base than I have to.”

The gateway flared to life.

“Quickly! Go! Go!” Ricky yelled.

The first men headed for the gateway, but suddenly it fizzled out right before they ran through.

“What the—?” breathed Ricky.

Beside the gateway, Cale flashed into visibility, his right hand sparking with the electricity he just absorbed.

“Good evening,” he said, pointing his hand at the gate team. A blast of electricity threw the men into the cave walls. “I received a letter, wherein you offered me a position with the organization. I just came to let you know my decision.”

“Shoot him!” yelled Ricky.

Cale rolled to the left, shooting two more lightning bolts and whisking invisible. “Being a prompt fellow, I decided to let you know 19 years in advance.”

“Where is he?” yelled one man. Most of the man had retreated, guns out, to the far side of the cave.

A blast of electricity went off right in the middle of them. As the men dove for cover, Cale reappeared, using a super-heated blast of lightning to smelt a gleaming thick glass sword.

“Heart-warming as your efforts to blackmail me were, I have to decline.”

He dove forward, slashing and swinging. Men fired everywhere, but he was like liquid, sliding between his attackers and dispatching anyone who was close enough.

“Somebody get a clear shot!” Ricky yelled. He bolted over to his prisoners in the corner. Slitting the ropes with his knife, he pulled Zachary to his feet and looked over.

Cale stood in the center of the cave, Ricky’s men strewn about his feet.

Ricky held the knife up to Zach’s throat. “Don’t try anything,” he hissed. “Don’t come any closer or he dies!”

__________________________________________________________________

Two-thirds of the way up, James slid under the ramp for the umpteenth time. Bullets left dents in it above him.

He peeked out, returning fire, and advanced to the next rock level. He was almost there.

“Keep it coming, Hans!” he radioed.

“They’re not making it easy!”

James was out of ammo. He dropped him gun and ventured unarmed to the next rock level. It was up to Hans to clear the path for him now.

____________________________________________________________________

Cale stopped, warily.

“You,” Ricky ordered Shelton, “Get the gateway on.”

“To where?” asked Shelton, scrambling to get to the controls.

“Don’t care, but make it safe! Your pal’s coming with me!”

Making sure to keep Zachary between himself and Cale, Ricky crossed to the now-activated gateway. Hurling Zachary away at the last second, Ricky dove through.

Zachary staggered to his feet. “He’s getting away!”

“Don’t worry!” yelled Shelton. “We’re fine!”

Zach stared at the wormhole. “Where did you send him?”

“A spot two feet in front of the gateway. So when he exits the wormhole, he falls right back in. He’s stuck in a loop until we feel like letting him out.”

Suddenly there was a blur. James was running for the gateway.

“Wait! James! No!”

James dove in.
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Serris
Posted: Sep 10 2009, 08:33 PM


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Oh my! Giant twist! James is now stuck in the time loop! I'm looking forward to the continuation.
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LettuceBacon&Tomato
Posted: Sep 11 2009, 06:13 PM


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Sorry for not posting yesterday, things have been busy, and they still are. here's a small update, and the conclusion will be tomorrow! Another story coming to an end!
________________________________________________________________

James found himself back in a black void, floating forward. There was no way to know if he was rotating or staying upright. He tried to get his bearings, but that proved impossible with nothing to stand on or even a reference point.

He floated weightlessly, looking for Ricky. But there was no light at all. Not even the night-vision visor could see through the pitch-blackness.

A flash of light as he exited the wormhole, and just as quickly a return to darkness as he reentered it. But he’d seen Ricky. He was to his immediate left.

A knife stabbed into his helmet, sending it flying off and stars erupting into his vision. Ricky had obviously seen him too. James swung his fist but connected with nothing. The floating was making any attacks difficult.

Another brief flash, and James saw Ricky’s enraged face bearing on top of him, knife held high.

James cast his arm out and caught the arm as it stabbed down. Swinging with his free arm, he felt his fist connect with Ricky’s face.

The knife arm remained taut. Ricky’s free arm clawed James’ shirt angrily. Then it groped up, found his throat, and started strangling him.

James choked. He couldn’t force Ricky’s hand without letting go of the one with the knife.

Another flash, but this time there wasn’t as much light. Not all the darkness in his vision is coming from the bridge.

With his ebbing strength, James swung his foot, connecting with Ricky’s groin. Both arms loosened, and James took a small breath and bit Ricky’s hand.

He was rewarded for his escape with a sock to the face. James’ head snapped back, barely keeping hold on the knife hand.

Ricky forced his head into another headlock, and was whispering in his ear, but there was no medium for the sound to travel through.

A flash. James discovered they were spinning. This didn’t help his equilibrium.

Ricky forced the knife closer and closer. James needed both hands to keep it back. He felt himself getting choked again.

Hurtling through nothingness, the only two beings in the universe fought over a single knife…


This post has been edited by LettuceBacon&Tomato on Dec 18 2009, 05:00 PM
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Serris
Posted: Sep 12 2009, 12:00 AM


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Wow. A very unique battle; a battle in zero-g.
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LettuceBacon&Tomato
Posted: Sep 12 2009, 03:23 PM


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Aaaaaaand. . . the conclusion! This one's a bit longer than most posts, mainly because I'm starting school again, and probably won't be writing any new DS stories any time soon, so I thought it deserved more closure than the last two. I'll of course continue to follow the RP.)
_______________________________________________________________
“Shut it down!” yelled Zachary. “Get him out of there!”

Shelton fumbled with the controls. “I’m on it, I’m on it!”

With a flash the gateway shut down, and James came tumbling out. Behind him was Ricky’s body, the knife protruding from his chest.

Zachary ran to check on James. “Are you all right?”

James got to his feet shakily. “Yes. Excuse me.”

He stumbled over to his dented helmet which lay further beyond the gateway. “Hans, what’s the status on Werner?”

“Kerzach just told me. He’s stable, and Dr. Joe says he’s going to make a full recovery.”

James exhaled. “That’s great. Get everyone up here; it’s time to go home.”

“How are we going to get home?” asked Cale. “This bridge only operates in three dimensions.”

“Wait!” Shelton snapped his fingers. “Did you say your Shelton was on the other side of this bridge?”

“Yes. He said he was going to check around for anything else unusual.”

“Look around this room,” said Shelton, pointing at the various equipment. “Is any of it still there in 2009?”

James thought. “We saw that file cabinet in the corner.”

Shelton crossed over, opened it and took out a piece of paper. Sliding a green pen out of his coat pocket, he scribbled a note on the back, put it back on top, and shut the cabinet.

“Now we just have to wait,” he said.

Five minutes later, the familiar space-time fabric of the original bridge formed, and Shelton stepped through, confused, holding the paper.

“Did you actually write this? It looks like my handwriting.”

James took the paper.

Shelton: Dial the bridge to these coordinates, increase the t-coordinate by .01
P.S. you might need some more transportation.


James handed it back. “No, I didn’t.”

“Then who?” Shelton looked over James’ shoulder, and saw himself. His mouth dropped open. Then shut. Then open again.

Chuckling slightly, James stepped back through the bridge and reappeared in the present day.

The room was swarming with soldiers. James looked around and saw Aisha.

“We weren’t so lucky the second time we tried to sneak out of Carson City Camp,” she explained.

General Moby walked over, flanked by four soldiers. “Head in, men.”

The soldiers nodded and exited through the bridge.

“Cobalt squad,” explained Moby, as James watched them go. “Officially, they were the ones who traveled through the bridge and shut down Warden. Completely authorized, of course.”

“Of course.”

“Don’t worry,” said Moby. “Nobody’s going to know you or your team were involved. Other than Aisha, who ran the bridge, none of you were ever officially here.”

“Maybe,” said James, “but if there’s one thing all this has taught me, it’s that the term ‘official’ says more about what the public finds out then the government.”

“True that,” agreed Moby. “But remember that this is much different from the Pelvanida incidents. For one, it was a smashing success. An openly hostile rebel group was shut down, a valuable piece of technology was recovered, and the public never found out. There’s no need for heads to roll.”

James nodded. “Still, even if they leave us alone, I doubt they’ll rescind their scientific bans. I’m still out of all the jobs I want.”

“Ah, but only for ten years,” Moby reminded, “and if you ever get desperate, we can make ten years go by fast.” He pointed over his shoulder at the Einstein-Rosen Bridge. James raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.

The first of the 1990 survivors were coming out now. Both Sheltons emerged, chatting excitedly, and Zachary was helping the wounded get to the Jeeps.

“James!” one of the Sheltons waved him over.

James obliged. “Which of you is which?”

“I’m me, and he’s him,” said one helpfully.

James rolled his eyes.

“I’m the alternate,” said the Shelton that was covered in scrapes and scuffs. “And we’ve decided, to reduce confusion, I’m going to go by our middle name, Oscar.”

James looked at Rudy. “Your middle name is Oscar?”

Rudy changed the subject. “We were thinking, Oscar doesn’t have a scientific ban on him, does he? He can get a job with the government.”

“Technically yes,” said James, “but the government’s never been one to listen to technicalities.”

“They will when I’m the only person who knows the t-coordinate conversion scale, not to mention being the foremost expert of bridge operations on the planet,” Oscar jumped in. “That gives me a bit of authority. And I’m going to need assistants, right?”

James smiled. “You mean…”

“Any of you who want to come work with me are welcome to.”

“I get dibs on best positions, though,” added Rudy.

“No, you don’t,” countered Oscar. “You think you call the shots just because you came first?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Think again.” Oscar looked over at Dr. Joe and Hans, who were just emerging. Werner was on a stretcher between them. “Got to go, I have to tell Werner about himself, he won’t believe it…”

And he left, followed by the disgruntled Rudy Shelton.

“James?” Zachary had come up behind him.

"Hey, Zach."

"Call me Steven."

"Middle name?"

Steven nodded silently. He stared at the activity around him. “Thank you for rescuing myself and my companions.”

“Don’t mention it.” James smiled wryly at watching Dr. Joe trying to push an excitedly babbling Oscar away from an interested Werner. “I can’t even begin to imagine what you went through to get home.”

“No, you can’t.” Steven reached into his pocket and pulled out a bunch of slips of paper. James saw they had the names of his team members on them.

“The first thing I’m going to do,” said Steven, “is finish a book chronicling what happened to our team, the trails we faced, who sacrificed themselves. So my teammates won’t be forgotten.”

James nodded. “You’ll never get to publish it.”

“Someday I will. Maybe in a hundred years. Secrets can only be kept for so long.”

“That’s the spirit,” James clapped him on the back, and they climbed back onto the mesa.

Werner’s group was waiting for a copter approaching to lift them off the mesa. Aisha was back with General Moby, trying to convince him to let her go through the bridge. Kerzach was picking out the helpful gang members from a line up. Cale wasn’t talking or socializing with anyone, but looked immensely pleased with himself.

“Yes,” said Steven absent-mindedly. “Your team is whole and all alive. Appreciate that very much.”

“I will.”

The helicopter took off, sending dust swirling around James and Steven’ feet. They watched it hover for a second, then set off slowly for the buildings in the distance.

“Are you going to take the next copter back?” asked James. “Or a Jeep?”

Steven shook his head. “For the first time since I existed, I have all the time in the world. I think I’ll walk.”

“So will I.”

They climbed down the mesa and started the long walk home.


This post has been edited by LettuceBacon&Tomato on Oct 28 2010, 10:42 AM
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