A plane direct from Seattle left the juniper tree complex and took the better portion of the day to arrive back Stanstead, South England. Severely jet lagged and unable to put behind him what he had heard Tom made his way through customs to the entrance of the airport where Martian stood waiting for him after he was contacted in place of Morgan while they journeyed back from Rome. It had now been a week later and Martian had not heard much of the Army after spending his time when he came back from the Alps at home. With only a text from Morgan saying ‘meet Tomas Jackson at Stanstead at 4:27am’ he could not argue the facts without facing Morgan’s wrath, though the fact she did not pick up the phone within the week didn’t help much either.
Tom stood in the rain outside, hoping to hail a taxi. He walked straight by Martian as he sipped a drink of coke cola to keep him perked up on caffeine in the early hours of the morning.
“You missed me,” cried Martian.
Tom turned back and spied out the man, “Uh-oh, you again?”
“I was sent to meet you.” He explained, “Have a nice last week?” he asked.
“…Yeah” Tom said, “It was good, got some free time to do some boarding as well, you know. all relaxed and fun.”
“Cute guys?” Martian asked.
“You’ve changed your tone.”
“My girlfriend surrounded me by gay men when I got home last week. She thought it’d be a good idea.”
“I hate drag queens, the put the fear of god in me.” He said, “You’re alright right. You don’t scare me.”
Tom laughed and shook his head, “Come on, I’ll show you my car.” Said Martian taking his bag and leading the way through the car park in the dark damp drizzle.
“You think anyone notices that when you leave Britain behind its always sunny, and when you return it pisses down?” Tom asked.
“Every member of my family comments on that when we go abroad. I think its some kind of tradition, like a rain dance maybe.” He said, showing his small compact car sitting in the damp amongst others, it was a rustic old machine with faulty heating, but at least it was dry and could move.
“What is this job you were offering?” Tom asked, “Not porn I hope.”
Martian laughed, “You honestly think they’d send a guy like me?”
Tom looked over his body and tilted his head, “I don’t know.”
“In the car,” grunted Martian, punching his shoulder playfully.
“I’m going to take you back to my place for the night,” he said, reversing back, “I’ve been trying to get in touch with the guys at the estate but no ones answering.”
“How many numbers do you have?” Tom asked, flicking through his phone for Morgan’s.
“Three,” he answered, “Morgan, Charlotte and Dr. Kennedy.”
“And none are answering?” asked Tom, closing his phone and getting comfortable in the seat.
“Nah, not sure why. Then again it is 4am.” He sniggered, “I hope I woke Morgan up.”
“What exactly does this job require?” Tom asked as they drove along the open road to Martians pace in Essex, at the other end of London.
“To be honest mate I have no idea,” he said, steering down the streets in darkness while a few drunken people staggered around greater London and the taxi’s sped around at high speed. Martian looked n envy at all the drunk people enjoying a nice Saturday night out while he was busy chauffeuring for his new job, “I’m thinking the good Dr. will explain that to you when we’re back.”
“Where do you live again?” Tom asked, looking at the structure of London.
“Epping,” he answered, “Not too far now, don’t stress.”
“You know we could have gone back to mine, I’m in North Hampton after all.”
“Well you could have said that before I left my crap at home couldn’t you.”
They drove down a side street in an estate in Epping and pulled up outside a small council house which Martian had called home for some time before he joined the marines. A light flickered on upstairs in the house when Martian approached the door with Tom, they walked in to the home and were instantly confronted by a tall blond woman at the top of the stairs, dreamy eyed and tired.
“Look whose home,” he cheered, opening his arms to his lovely girlfriend as she staggered down the stairs rubbing her eyes.
“Here’s my little princess.”
She slapped him across the face instantly, “It’s 5am,” she wined, “Why come home now, just stay out the whole night.”
“It’s work stuff love.” He said, kisses her cheek, “Just go back to bed, I’ll sort this out.”
“Whose he?” she asked, pointing to the stranger.
“This is Tom,” he said, “Friend from work. Tom, this is my misses Rachel.”
“Hi,” he nodded with a smile.
She waved back but had trouble with facial expression this early in the morning, “I’d offer you something to drink but I’m too fucking tired.” She groaned, “Nice to meet you Tom. If off to bed.”
“Sweet dreams lover, I’ll be up in a bit.” He said, going to sort out the downstairs pull out bed for Tom.
“You know what, I’m too tired, I can just sleep on the sofa.”
“Nah, its ok mate. I’ll work this out.” Martians phone went off just as he went to pull the bed out, “Fucking hell,” he groaned, turning back to the phone and falling to the floor.
“Turn your fucking phone off!” screamed Rachel form upstairs.
Tom stood by idly, feeling a little out of place amongst this, interesting domestic coupling.
“I’m remembering that for the swear jar!” he yelled.
“It’s past midnight, that doesn’t count.”
“That’s only in sex!” he yelled.
Quite uncomfortably, as you can imagine, Tom stood by glancing around the room slowly nodding and trying to keep to himself.
“Morgan?” he asked, hearing her frantic voice at the other end of the phone.
“Martian,” she sighed, “Thank god you picked up.”
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I don’t know, something’s happened. You’ve got to save us, please.”
“Calm down girl, explain it slowly.”
“The Dr. he went ballistic when we got back, something must have happened when we were in Italy, he just broke down.”
“Ok,” Martian said, “Anything that could have triggered it?”
“Well Leanna’s friend Zack passed on while we were there. Leanna and I were going to leave soon after, we told Charlotte and she agreed it was for the best for Leanna to go home, that’s when Dr. Kennedy turned his eight guards on us and locked us in the rooms in his estate.”
“He locked you in?” Martian asked.
“We can’t escape; those eight psychopaths are patrolling the grounds. Please help.” She wept, “I don’t know what to do, I’m so lost.”
“It’s ok Morgan,” he said, “How many of you are there?”
“There’s me, Leanna, Charlotte, a man called Antonio we met, Evelyn, the woman Charlotte brought back and also Jim, the bus driver. He won’t let any of us go and he’s disappeared.”
“Are the others alright?”
“I don’t know, we’re all in separate rooms,” she said, trying to keep her breathing and voice soft as not to alert her captors who stood outside her room.
“Do you know what they want?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she said, “I really want to get out of here Martian. Some weird things have happened.”
“Right, its ok Morgan don’t worry. We’ll come get you soon.”
“Please hurry,” she said, “Be careful to, the eight bodyguards are ferocious.”
“Please,” he snuffed, “I’ve been in the marines I can handle it.”
The conversation closed, Morgan stayed hid the phone under the pillow of her four poster bed before climbing in under the covers, unable to sleep through fear. The others were much the same, locked in rooms at different parts of the estate where they could not escape.
“Right,” thought Martian, biting his upper lip.
“What’s wrong?” asked Tom.
“How’s about a little adventure?” he asked.
“Adventure?” asked Tom, “How so?”
“Apparently our dear Dr. Kennedy is holding the others hostage.”
“Hostage?” asked Tom, “What do you mean hostage?”
“I’ll explain on the way.”
“On the way?” Tom asked, “We’re leaving again?”
Martian left the room into the kitchen and came back with more coke cola to boost Tom’s jet lagged state. They left through the front door with their stuff and got back on the road. Almost as soon as they drove off Martians phone started to ring again.
“Rachel?” he answered, “Everything alright?”
“Did you just drive off again?” she asked.
“Yeah, work business my love, nothing to worry about.”
“Martian,” she groaned, “What tie will you be back now?”
“I’m not sure babe,” he answered, “I’ll give you a bell when I’m on the way.”
“You better had, and it better not be before 11!” she screamed as he put the phone down.
Tom pursed his lips and looked out the window at passing street lights.
“Yeah,” groaned Martian, “She’s a handful. She’s been all hormonal recently too.”
“Really?” Tom asked.
“Yeah, just be thankful you won’t have to deal with that.”
“I don’t know,” Tom said, “Men get it too, just not as bad. So I read.”
“Really?” asked Martian, “Like once a month thing?”
Tom shrugged, “As far as I know. Just not as -”
“Firry?” asked Martian.
“Yep,” he agreed.
In the early hours of the morning the small car drove by the estate. Martian slowly sufficiently so they could get a look past the iron gates to the estate houses themselves. Everything seemed normal, nothing amiss there.
“I’ve come past this way once,” Tom thought, admiring the scenery of woodland and open pastures.
“Do you know if there’s another way into this estate then?”
“Yeah, I’ve been told the wall only follows the road, there’s a river it doesn’t cross.”
“Alright,” he thought, running his hands along his stubble, hoping to act the part of knight for these damsels (and Antonio) in distress.
“You know where it is?”
“Well there’s a river straight ahead, its probably that one.”
“Alright, alright.” Martian cried, “No need to get shirty.”
“I’m working on my language for Rachel.” He explained, continuing along the road towards the river.
Further along, they came to a small lay-by overgrown by gorse that bordered a large open pasture separated from the estate by a thick woodland of birch and ash trees. They both got out of the car and Martian went straight for the boot while Tom stretched and downed what liquid eye opener he had left before raising a very good question, “What are we meant to be doing again?”
“Morgan – the woman you spoke to on the phone. And some others are apparently being held hostage in the estate house.”
“Hostage?” Tom asked, “You know “I’m no police man,”
“Well I was in the marines,” explained Martian, “I’ll do the work, you just keep your eyes peeled and mouth shut. Alright?”
“Righto,” he nodded, throwing the bottle into the car to scratch his arm.
“You ok?” Martian asked, noticing how often he went for that one itch.
“Yeah,” he thought, looking down at the arm and realising it was where the needle had entered with Serra’s Cure, “I’m fine,”
“Good, don’t want you distracted in there. There are eight bodyguards, don’t know what they’re like but I’m guessing they’re pretty formidable.”
“Here’s a good first plan,” said Tom, while Martian disappeared in the boot out of site, “Why not call the police?”
“I doubt they’d be much good.” He answered, pulling out a gun and bullet proof vest, “Besides, I’m all suited up now.”
“Where’d you get that from?”
“…old work,” he shrugged, “Isn’t it tradition to keep your uniform?”
“You call that uniform?”
“You love it really,” he winked, slamming the boot and locking the car before heading for the forest.
“Don’t I get a gun?” Tom asked.
“When you earn a gun you can have one.” Martian cried, while breaking through the gorse thickets, “This way.”
“What kind of job is this,” Tom thought, “The money better be worth it.”
The scrambled through the trees and came to a small brook that babbled over the rocks and fallen trees. Muddy crumbling banks made up for what was otherwise a small easy crossing. On the other side the ash trees gave way to birch which succeeded into a few stands of gorse. A small wooden fence posed no harm to them, however what was just across the lawn stopped them dead in their tracks.
Conveniently placed behind the main building was a large blackened helicopter, much the style of the bus. Two large hooped propellers were either side of it rather then on top. It looked very sleek and large enough to carry many passengers and possibly other small vehicles.
“Who is your boss?” Tom asked.
Martian shrugged, “Not a clue, but I’m starting to think of joining his side no matter what he’s doing.”
They vaulted the fence and started across the lawn hidden behind a stretch of tall cypress trees that grew beside the front wall. Dr. Kennedy dressed in his most formal and sat in the ruins of a long abandon church, built at the far end of the estate with an old path leading through woodland to it. In his hands was a photograph of his two sons and their families, Gavin and his mother and his other son’s fiancé all sitting in the sun wearing wide smiles, on the back was a note from them while at their say in a lodge in Indonesia.
“Harold?” Pandora asked, approaching under the trees, she entered the church grounds and saw him kneeling at the front on a bed of leaves and mulch from the woodland around him, “What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing,” he sighed.
“There obviously is, you’ve got four innocent people locked up in your estate. They’re all terrified,”
“I’m sorry,” he said, his monotone voice, “I don’t know what to do.”
“Keeping these people locked up isn’t going to help.”
“I know,” he thought, “I just want to make sure they’re alright,” he said, holding up the photo.
Pandora wrapped her coat up tight and walked along what was once the church isle, she knelt beside him with a smile on her face, “They’re fine. Your curiosity and want for closure is driving you barmy. You must focus on the task at hand.”
“I know,” he said, “But I’m worried it’s all going wrong. Leanna’s friend, Morgan, Antonio, they were all endangered and I stopped to question things. I didn’t act I just stopped; that’s why Zack died.”
“There was nothing you could do,” Pandora said, “I’m sure wherever he is he is in a better place.”
Kennedy lifted the photo of his family again, “I’d like proof of that before I can settle.”
She shrugged a frown, “You know there are some things we’re not meant to know.”
“Yes, but there are some things we’re meant to find out.”
Leanna curled up in bed staring at photo’s of Zack on her mobile, conveniently without signal or credit to call anyone for help. She curled up on the bed in the dark with her music player on the cabinet. A tap came at the window, but she ignored it, another few taps occurred and again she ignored them. Martians subtly was summed up when a clod of flowers struck the window hard, forcing her to stir and rise. She went to the window and opened it, staring down at the two men on the patio.
“You’re not Morgan,” thought Martian.
“Give up, you’ve broken several windows trying to find someone, be thankful you got an answer this time.” said Tom, keeping watch for anyone in the windows of the lower floors.
“Who’re you?” Leanna asked.
“I’m Martian, where’s Morgan?”
“Oh you, the guy she was talking to on the phone in the car.”
“Yeah,” he nodded, “Where is she?”
“I don’t know,” Leanna said, “We were locked in different rooms, I’m not sure where anyone is.”
“Ok, we’ll get you out of here.” He whispered.
Another window opened and Evelyn leaned out, “Thank the heavens!” she cried, “What’s happening.”
“How did you know we were here?” Martian asked.
“You’re not being very discrete.”
“Who’re you?” Martian asked.
“My names Evelyn,” she introduced herself, “And you three are?”
“Leanna.” She waved and introduced herself.
“This is Tom and I’m Martian,” he added, “We’re going to get you out of here, any idea of a way in or where Morgan is?”
“Two windows down from here I think,” said Evelyn, “I saw them force her in there.”
“Who’re they?” Tom asked.
“The tough guys. Dressed in black.” said Leanna, “They threw us all in here.”
“Right, hold on we’ll be up in a moment.” Martian added, pulling Tom after him.
Leanna and Evelyn looked to one another and shrugged, “Are you alright my dear? You look upset.” said Evelyn with concern.
With a few subtle hints from Martian, Morgan appeared at the window, “What are you doing?” she cried, seeing how obvious the two were.
“We’re here to help.” Martian explained with a suave bow of the head.
“Then hurry up!” she yelled, “I can’t take much more of this.”
“Who else is in the house other than you three?”
“Charlotte, a man called Antonio and the bus driver Jim.”
“Right, and how many of those guards are there?”
“Eight,” she explained.
Tom paused for a moment, “Perfect match I think.”
“Yeah,” Martian looked around, “Maybe we can lure one out somehow.”
Tom took the gun from him and shot at a window on the lower floor, the glass cracked and shattered loudly.
“Another cowboy?” thought Morgan, “You two must be getting on well.”
The eight guarding the halls looked to one another. One of the two females walked on ahead with her gun at hand to investigate, leaving the floor of captives behind. She entered one large hall where the glass was shattered across the floor and looked around, there was no one here. Slowly she walked across the floor, sweeping glass fragments away as to limit the amount of noise she made. At the window she peered out, a shadow grew over her back, she swung around, Tom took her gun arm and Martian dived in through the window, practicing his sleeper hold on her he stunned her successfully while she had her back to him.
They lay her on one of the chairs, Tom took her gun and tried to figure how it worked, with some hints from Martian they crossed the hall and spied out a second shadow approaching. Tom and Martian hid either side of the door, Tom watched the gun hand come in first, cautiously leading the way. With a smug gesture to him, Martian let Tom move in, lifting the arms up and taking the gun from the guard. Martian twisted around and kicked him in the gut so hard the wind was knocked form his lungs. Taking down the binds for the curtains they tied his hands up while he was unable to move and left into the house armed and ready. Along the corridor they entered the conservatory and stood back for a moment.
“You think they’re in?” Leanna asked Evelyn while they both listened to the noises made, “We can’t leave them to do it alone.”
“What can we do?” Evelyn asked.
Leanna bit her lip and looked around for inspiration, and of course, as per usual, music came to her mind, some lovely fast pasted drum and base should liven up her limbs and put her in a feisty mood.
Two more guards walked down the stairs cautiously. Tom and Martian held their guns up slowly taking aim at the adjacent guard on the stairway.
Martian counted down, “Three, two, one.” They both shot, Tom struck a banister while Martian just missed the guards leg, the two vaulted from the stairs to the suites and took aim. Both men dived back and ran for cover in the house chased by the other two.
Carefully, Leanna shimmied across from her room to Evelyn’s, thinking the music would simply make her want to move she kept it muted for the time being, “Where’s Antonio?” Leanna asked.
“The Italian man?” she asked, “I’m not sure where they put him.”
“Morgan!” Leanna cried.
Morgan looked over form her window.
“Do you want to help me get out of here?”
“How?” she asked.
“If we can all get to the same room I think we’ll be able to overwhelm them.”
“Where are the other three?”
“Antonio, Jim and Charlotte?” Morgan looked back, “I think they’re down there.” She pointed across at three rooms at the end of the row, “Alright, can you climb over here?”
“Climb?” Morgan thought, looking down at the patio and shrubbery beneath “Are you insane?”
“It’s that or stay in your room by yourself.” She suggested.
“Its ok, it’s not that far.” said Evelyn, “You’ll be alright.”
“It’s not that far down or across?” Morgan thought, “Either way I think I could argue.” She climbed into the sill and watched Leanna shimmy past, “Wait for us in Evelyn’s room.”
“Alright,” she said, taking a few deep breaths before she started to climb along.
“I’m sure if you explain all of this to them, they’ll understand, in some way and form.” Pandora said to Dr. Kennedy as they both sat under dappled light in the church.
“I know I can prove it somehow, I’m sure the boy found something.”
“What?” she asked.
“He mentioned muses and Erebus.”
“Erebus was the Greek underworld correct?”
“One of them,” Dr. Kennedy thought.
“What happened to the girl?”
“She said she found a cave, then when I found her she was buried under rubble in an old reservoir with a book she’d found.”
“It’s in the house,” he said.
“What is it about?”
“She didn’t say, I’ll show you later just what it does when you open it.”
“Did you read any of it?”
“No, it’s not that straight forward.” He said, rising to his feet.
“What are you going to do then Dr. Kennedy?”
“I will apologise for my behaviour, and give them all a proper explanation; for once.”
“It’s for the best,” she said, rising up beside him, “I’m sure they’ll understand.”
Leanna made it to Charlotte’s window and alerted her. Jim and Antonio both came to their windows when they heard her scream in surprise. All three were drawn together around Leanna who stood on one of the ledges keeping balance in the quiet.
“What the hell are you doing?” Jim asked.
“You three, come with me. We’re going to get out of here.”
“Get out?” Charlotte asked, “I keep hearing gunfire, is it safe?”
“Oh sure, that’s just that Martian man.”
“Trying to save us,” said Leanna, trying not to look down, “Right, we’re all in Evelyn’s room at the moment. We’re going to escape from there and out of the house.”
“What’s your plan?”
“Hopefully the other two aren’t dead, so they’ll be able to help.” She said, starting to shimmy back. She looked over her shoulder at the others who seemed a little daunted by the height.
“Aren’t you coming?”
“Hell no!” cried Jim, “I don’t want to break my leg!”
“I think it’s your neck you should be more worried about,” Charlotte emphasised.
“Thank you for your vote of confidence,” Leanna said.
“I don’t like heights,” Antonio grumbled as he climbed out of the window.
“Then where’s the logic in following her!?” cried Jim.
“I don’t care too much for arguing.” He said, willingly following Leanna along.
“Can I go next?” asked Charlotte.
Antonio helped her onto the ledge and kept her close to the wall as they followed Leanna. Jim stared blankly at them, all making their way along happily, his hands slapped against his head and he looked around in complete awe and confusion, “What the hell?”
“Come on,” said Charlotte, “It’s not actually that hard.” She glanced down at the patio, “Er, just don’t look down.” She advised with a nervous stammer.
Tom hid in the pantry while Martian led one of the men into the wide open ball room. He placed his gun on the table at the side and called up the man in black who glanced down at the gun and turned to Martian with a curious glint hidden by sunglasses.
“Come on, bit on manno’e’manno.” He said, with little to no understanding the man held up his gun and shot the armour on Martians chest, knocking him to the ground.
Tom appeared behind him, having lost the other in this large house. He held his gun to the mans head, “Put it down,” he said calmly.
Martian groaned as he stood up, Tom glanced over to check he was alright and in that brief second he felt a sharp jab against his throat that took him down to his knees. The guard kicked him onto his back and turned with the gun; Martian knocked it from his hand and rammed him into the wall. He took the mans head and with one starchy strike knocked him out against the wall, the glasses fell to the floor and two dull grey eyes stared up blankly before he fell.
Martian knelt in front of Tom and helped him up as he struggled to breathe, “Thanks for that,” he said, patting Tom on the back, “You’re pretty useful after all.”
Tom nodded, while trying to breath and gave the thumbs up, though he could move little else. Charlotte climbed past one window and kicked the glass, she stared through at the door of the room which swung open slowly, the second female guard had her gun held towards Charlottes head. Antonio pushed her aside as the trigger pulled back and a bullet shot through the glass. Charlotte screamed and fell, her hand grasping the ledge to let her swing freely instead of fall.
“What was that?” Pandora wondered as they walked leisurely through the forest.
“Guns.” Thought Dr. Kennedy, “Why are they using guns?”
“Charlotte?” Jim and Antonio watcher her swing, Leanna opened the next window along and climbed through, she turned back and reached for Charlotte’s hand to help her up. The door behind opened and two of the men came in with their guns.
“Antonio, help her!” cried Leanna, turning up the volume and leaping back into the room.
“Okay!” he cried, kneeling down slowly with Jim holding his hand to keep him steady.
“Don’t let me fall!” she said, looking down at the rose bushes below, “Actually.”
She let go of the ledge, Antonio and Jim watched her fall and land in the bushes, “Arh!” she cried, “I forgot about the thorns!”
“Are you alright?” Jim asked.
“I’m fine!” she yelled, “Keep going, I’ll find Martian.”
“Righto,” Antonio nodded, the woman appeared at the window with her gun held close, “Not today thank you!” he cried, pushing her back as soon as she appeared. He hurried Jim to the adjacent window which they opened and leaped in to.
Morgan leaned back out, the others weren’t visible, “Where is everyone?”
Charlotte limped across the patio pulling thorns from her tattered top.
“Do you know where Martian went?” she asked, turning to see the open window where the one woman sat under the spell of the sleeper hold, “Oh, never mind.”
“Where are the others?” cried Morgan, though Charlotte entered before answering.
“Maybe we should go and see?” suggested Evelyn.
Morgan ran across the room to the door and looked between the cracks, there was no one outside anymore.
“Maybe,” she thought, she looked back at what Evelyn had packed away in suit cases and floral bags, “We need weapons.”
“Don’t look at me, I’m a pacifist,” she cried.
“You don’t have anything?” Morgan wondered, “Not even something heavy, like a paper weight?”
“I do not own a crystal ball, if that’s what you mean.”
“Forget it,” Morgan thought, leading her to the door, “We can try to run, right?”
“Good idea,” Evelyn agreed.
Charlotte looked around the empty room, there was only one woman lying dormant on the chair, the other man had freed himself from his bonds. She snuck across the glass slowly, each footstep cracking fragments underfoot. As she approached the door a shadow appeared, she went to back away and suddenly Martian and the man rolled past swiftly, knocking over everything along the hall.
Charlotte turned about and lifted a vase from the desk, she ran out and lifted it overhead to strike down the man but it instantly fell apart in her hands with the sound of gunfire. She jumped and covered her head form the falling shards, then looked back at the man who’d chased Tom into the pantry. Martian’s face glowed red while the other guard tried choking him. Charlotte slowly held her hands up peacefully as the gun was aimed for her. Tom leaped from the doorway and wrapped his muscular arms around the guards neck, the trigger squeezed and shot into Martians leg, Charlotte coiled away with a loud screech while Martian could do little else but grow redder and redder. She glanced down at him and the guard who seemed absorbed in trying to pop Martians head off, with a sharp series of kicks from her shoes she separated the two while Tom put the other guard in the same position Martian had been.
“Fuck that hurt!” he cried about his calve, when the guard rolled away from Charlotte’s kicking foot tip.
Morgan led Evelyn down the hall, they could hear loud grunts and gasps and thuds against the walls of the next room. The door swung open slowly and Morgan saw Leanna dancing her way around the room, knocking the other two about while moving to her music with no apparent limits to her strength.
“You have everything wrapped up?” Morgan asked.
Leanna flexed back just as the two went to apprehend her; she opened her legs and struck them both back a step before spinning on the palm of her hand to knock them both to the ground then leaped back onto her feet. The two guards ached all over as she’d stretched and flexed them just as much. Leanna ran for the door and rolled through, closing it on her way past. With a flick of the switch the music stopped and her body had chance to catch up, with one deep breath she fell against the wall and groaned.
“That was amazing,” thought Evelyn, “Your spirit is a spry one.”
“Thank you,” Leanna laughed, “Let’s get the others.”
They made their way down the hall to the next room where Antonio held the female guard off the floor in his tight grip. Jim opened the walk in wardrobe and he hung her up on one of the hooks before turning back to the others and limping away in pain, obviously she’d managed to get her fair few of hits.
“Where are the others?” Jim asked.
“I did - .” wheezed Leanna, “They’re – ”
“She took care of the other guards,” Morgan explained.
“Carry me,” she sighed, falling into Jim’s arms.
“Right then,” he thought, needing Antonio’s help to keep her moving.
They appeared at the top of the stairs and started running down, Charlotte led Martian limping into the lounge with Tom close behind.
“Everyone alright?” Morgan asked, taking her keys from the desk.
“I got shot in the leg!” Martian yelled, “What do you think.”
“But everyone’s alive.” She said calmly.
The door opened and Dr. Kennedy and Pandora appeared in front of them. Instantly Tom lifted the gun and aimed for his head, “Whose this guy?”
“Jumpy aren’t you Tomas.” He commented.
“This is Dr. Kennedy,” scowled Morgan.
“Get out of the way Doctor.” Said Martian, “We don’t want any trouble with either of you.”
“Your leg,” Pandora noticed, “Are you alright?”
“No I’m fucking not! I got shot!”
“Everyone calm down,” said Kennedy with a calm tone, “Please allow me to explain.”
“No!” Morgan yelled, “We’ve listened to you for long enough, and it’s only led to trouble.”
“I didn’t mean for anything bad to happen,” he explained, “I’m just trying to understand.”
“Let me help you understand,” glared Leanna, bringing up a photo of Zack on her phone, she threw it to Dr. Kennedy’s hands, “Is that enough for you? There are more on there too!”
“I only wanted to know they were safe.” He sighed.
“What?” Morgan sneered.
“No!” yelled Martian, “Don’t listen, he’ll manipulate you!”
“Just let me explain for a moment, I’ll give you all the answers you need.”
“Such as why that man attacked us and took my inventions?” Antonio asked.
“Or who the hell those three women were?” Leanna asked, “And that book?”
“And what that mountain monster was?” added Tom, though the others all gave him an odd look.
“I suppose it’s easier if I show you.” He thought, walking past the group to the table where the console for Antonio’s two drones settled over the file that Dr. Kennedy kept so close.
He approached them again and looked through the file, handing them each a piece of paper before settling on the chair and taking a deep breath to sum up the words. Each of them was handed their own image of what Gavin had captured, “My grandson Gavin, became very ill from fire fever a few years back. He drew these images before he passed on, saying a woman inspired him to do them, and that I needed to round you people together.”
“What the fuck?” Martian stared down at a child’s rendering of him standing in the baron wastes of Iraq with his U.S military comrades, attached was a photograph that had been taken of him some while ago in the same position, with his friends, the exact same striking blue eyes were clearly visible in both images.
“Why?” Charlotte asked, seeing two versions of her singing books for fans.
“He was sketchy on the whole, but told me a woman would come and could destroy the world if we didn’t help a pair of people I’m yet to locate.”
Tom looked at the images of himself, Lee and Brett that helped Martian hunt him out, behind it was another image with him standing in front of an unidentified man with a gun held up at the large alpine mountain monster.
“My parents,” Morgan thought, looking down at images of her standing over two graves, “This is twisted,” she exclaimed.
“How do you explain what happened to Leanna then,” he said, drawing attention to Leanna who was fixated on one image in particular.
“Are you alright?” Morgan asked.
“Zack.” She said, looking down at a picture drawn of her and several others standing over a grave with Zack still behind her, “What kind of joke is this.”
“Leanna,” he held up another image, “Is this what you saw when you entered the cave?”
The three headed creature Skylla had been scribbled down by the same childish hand, with a book in the middle held up by a woman with vines and flowers crawling up her arms and eyes so bright they blurred everything else.
“Yes,” she said, glaring at him, she crushed the picture and threw it to the table.
“The images gave me warning about what would happen in Florence.” said Kennedy to Antonio.
“What’s this one?” Martian asked, holding up a picture of himself and Rachel with a baby baring the same dazzling blue eyes as he did.
“You don’t have a child?” Dr. Kennedy asked.
“No,” he thought.
“You might want to go and check,” he said.
“So you just want us to band together to find some people?” Morgan asked.
Evelyn looked at a picture of her sitting under the stars with one specific one shinning bright above, through drawn out in directions.
“I’m sorry; I know I didn’t handle things well. I’m just trying to make sure my family are alright. I’m sure every one of us would like to make sure someone in our lives is safe in the next world. I thought this would be a way to do it.”
Morgan took a seat beside him, her hands trembling as she looked over the picture of her standing in front of a wide open audience.
“Whose this?” Tom asked, pointing to the unidentified man in the picture.
“I’m not sure,” Dr. Kennedy shrugged, “I’m not able to identify him.”
“That was the thing in the alps,” thought Martian, dabbing his leg as it hurt.
“Let me help you.” said Pandora, leading Martian to one of the seats.
“I’m very sorry for what I did,” said Dr. Kennedy, “I’m just trying to find my children again.”
Leanna settled on the end of the seat while Jim stood behind her, “I understand,” she sighed.
“You do?” Morgan asked, quite surprised.
“I’d like to know if Zack is alright too.” She said, looking down at the image of him standing behind her over the grave.
“I might be able to help with that,” said Evelyn.
“How so?” Leanna asked.
“I can hear things, all manner of things.”
“Which reminds me.” said Dr. Kennedy, “I have something to show you.”
He stood up and led them to the door that entered the underground.
“Not here again,” thought Morgan.
“Where are they going?” asked Martian, “I want to see.”
“Come on then,” sighed Pandora, helping him up with Tom’s help.
What things were still being unpacked still lay around in boxes, though most of the things had been opened and emptied to form collections of Dr. Kennedy’s possessions, some laboratory equipment and also some more exotic inventions and gadgets that caught Antonio’s eye as they entered. A small foyer was built in front of a set of sliding doors that opened as they approached.
“This place is pretty seedy,” thought Tom, “It’s like some secret agent basement.”
They walked into one large room empty white room, made up of panels with a soft texture.
“I’ll warn you now; if you drag dirty foot prints in here my cleaners will have your head.”
“What is this?” asked Morgan.
The doors closed behind them and all lights from the panels turned off plunging them into total darkness. A few moments of computers warming up and a tiny light appeared in the darkness.
“Oh! I see something!” yelled Jim, “Look, there!”
“Where?” Leanna asked, though they remained completely shrouded in darkness.
“Right in front of you,” he said.
“There’s nothing,” she replied.
“Turn around then,” Tom suggested.
“Oh, hey, you’re right.” She cheered, noticing the small white dot.
“What is that?” Evelyn asked, “It looks, familiar.”
“You might be most interested in this Mrs. Greenway.”
They felt a cold feeling overtake the room.
“I’m scared now,” Jim said, breaking silence.
“This better be good,” Morgan added.
In a sudden flash of light the whole room lit up, the small spec of light had erupted flooding the whole room. The light began to fade and clear up showing many more tiny specs and swirls of colour.
“It’s the big bang theory,” thought Evelyn.
“Exactly.” Dr. Kennedy agreed, “All that is and ever will be in our world came from that spec of light just now. Theoretically of course”
“Is this going to take a lot of brainpower?” Jim asked.
“Computer, speed the simulation up to show the formation of Sol.”
The angle and direction of view moved and sped through space and time chasing after clouds of debris and elements that erupted from the point. It chased through light of physics and chemistry to a small nebula that fluttered and sparkled as new stars were born from bright eruptions of light. One star in specific trailed away from its parent nursery from where it wondered surrounded by what debris its nursery gave it. Many millennia later and the precursors of the planets started to form. The camera swayed and turned and flew in towards Earth as it solidified, the oceans filled up and the atmosphere thickened with volcanic gasses. One powerful eruption from the sun skinned the fat of Earth’s skies and made it what it is, after minutes of storms cleared the skies became blue and the super continent became flooded with greenery along its rims leaving room for baron deserts. Moments later the continents separated and drove apart slowly becoming what they currently are. The view dived in deeper below the atmosphere and into place view of the old estate, which quickly grew two new additions all in that second. The computer paused and stopped showing them an aerial view of the home they currently stood in.
“It needs some fine tuning, but this machine can generate a whole host of hypothetical astral scenarios. It is connected to my observatory as well.”
“That whole start up made me motion sick,” said Jim, sitting down on what appeared to be blue skies underfoot.
“Me too,” Tom agreed, leaning against a clouded panel.
“If any of you want to leave I’ll understand,” said Dr. Kennedy, turning back to the others as they stood by watching the world revolve beneath the camera.
“I want to,” said Leanna, “But for the funeral,”
“Of course,” he nodded.
“I’ll come back after that, just to gage how insane you really are Dr. Kennedy.”
She handed him the paper and turned back to the doorway, “Thank you.”
“This job still paying big money?” Martian asked.
“Of course, the money is still yours, why?”
“Well, if your dead grandson’s right, I’m going to be a father.” He said, with a smile breaking across his face.
Tom nudged his arm with a grin as Charlotte congratulated him.
“I’ll help,” Evelyn said, watching the camera turn to the skies, “So long as I can use this machine.”
“It needs some adjustments, but one of the future employees I hope to find will be able to see to that, with Antonio and Charlotte’s help.”
“My help?” Charlotte asked.
“Everyone needs inspiration Ms. Bryce,”
“I did say you were designed to inspire.” Evelyn agreed.
“Where am I meant to go next?”
“I’ll give you all your assignments when you’re ready.” He said, “Tomas Jackson, I suggest you go back to your place in the alps and look into this creature. Perhaps you can catch it.”
“I doubt that, its like a ghost.” He chortled.
“A ghost you say?” Evelyn wondered, “Perhaps we should talk about this being.”
“Who’re you?” he asked, still a bit bemused by the days events, and the jet lag he still suffered.
“Evelyn Greenway,” she said, shaking his hand.
“Evelyn is a mystic, I believe Tomas is our tracker.”
“Tracker?” he asked, “Tracker for what?”
“That’s something you’ll have to find out.” Dr. Kennedy said with a sly look.
“Don’t try to get any more explanations out of him,” said Morgan, “He’s this thickle all the time.”
“Right,” Tom thought, following Evelyn out of the room.
“Morgan, Antonio, what do you say?”
“If you give me a place to work in peace,” Antonio thought, “Perhaps I can think up a few of my designs again.”
“Do you remember what they were?”
“One was an alchemist’s cauldron, the other was a time machine. I had a few others in my workshop, but I fear that man may have found them if he stayed behind.”
“Do all the work you can and take all the time you need Mr. Carlopoli.” Said Dr. Kennedy, “I’ll give you everything you need.”
“A new workshop and some tools would be a good start.”
“Of course, go pick out a room.”
“Mind if I make a run for it?” Martian asked, while Pandora still helped support him, “I just want to see if this is true.” He said, waving the paper.
Kennedy nodded; Pandora helped Martian out of the room leaving him alone with Morgan whom just looked at the stars shown by the room, “So your ultimate goal is to find out where your family have gone?”
“And I’ll need your help.” He explained, “I’m sorry Morgan, I did not mean for any of this to happen.”
“I know,” she nodded, “Sometimes things get out of control. But you must promise me that you’ll tell me every detail you can.”
“Of course,” he nodded.
“Good. Then whose next?”
“I was thinking of sending you after a Doctor in New Mexico, he goes by the name of Phillip Grant.”
“Ok,” she nodded, “Give me the details and I’ll get right on it.”
She walked to the door and went to leave Dr. Kennedy, “I want to make sure Leanna is alright first, before I go.”
“Of course,” Kennedy agreed, “I feel my presence is uncalled for, keep and eye on her Ms. Leblanc.”
“I will,” she nodded, leaving him alone in the room that flew out into deep space as she left.
He glanced down at the stars below his feet, while on shone bright to his far left, though he paid no attention to this glint of bright energy.