(This story contains violence, nudity, coarse language, and mature subject matter. Reader discretion is strongly advised. Gma, this means you. <3 )
(The other chapters are here: 1, 2, 3, 4 in case you missed them.)
“I have seen the Great existence without need of form. I am haunted by the freedom. Even without these bars I am behind, I am imprisoned within my own skin. I long to be dust. Dust everlasting.”
~Auguste “Dust” Mendes
Whereabouts unknown: Currently
Orleans found herself standing in a dimly lit room with her back to a door. Xell was seated at a small table to the right. Behind him was an empty cot. On the left was the same furniture and an old man stretched out with his legs crossed on his cot reading a book. The rest of the room contained no decorations. Just black walls, and sleek grey cabinets.
Both of the men were wearing some kind of uniform done in a pale blue that looked like gym clothing.
She could feel strong vibrations coming through the floor and resounding around her. Every now and then there was a sharp shudder. She felt unsteady on her feet and reached out to the wall to steady herself only to find it also was rhythmically resonating.
“There are things to be done, Orleans. You won’t understand at first, but I hope in time you will come to know the why of it. I want you to understand my intentions in all of this,” said Xell.
The large window behind him looked out onto space. The room they were in was moving. Slowly, stars passed by.
Xell continued, “I want you to come to me willingly. As always, I need you.”
Orleans didn’t respond. Just stared at the impossible galaxy beyond. She tamped down the feeling of nausea as best she could.
The old man seated on the cot looked up from the book he was reading and asked, “Who is she, Lucas? How did she get here?”
Xell/Lucas waved his hand casually, “Not to worry Mr. Bishop. This is Orleans. She is a dear friend. She’s here to help us.”
Mr. Bishop looked thoughtfully at the woman and turned back to Xell. “I see.”
He went back to reading.
Xell held a sleek black pen in his hands which he rolled between his thumb and his forefinger. “You’re in more danger than you know, Orleans. It’s a risk to contact you like this, but I need you to be aware of your surroundings. I need you to know they are watching you. Always watching you.”
Orleans walked past them both to the window. She ignored her reflection other than noticing she was dressed in a hospital gown and look out onto the blackness of space. “I don’t need your help. Don’t want it. You went your way. I went mine,” she said. She couldn’t help but stare at the slow swirl masses ahead of them.
“They hope you will lead them to me.”
“Ha,” replied Orleans. “Fat chance of that happening. I don’t even like acknowledging your existence these days.”
“Eventually you will come to find me. I expect they will follow you. I just want you to be aware of who you bring along.” Xell sounded sure of his assertions.
She closed her eyes, tired of the tension she felt around her. She didn’t feel like participating anymore. “Bullshit. I don’t give a shit what your plans are.”
“Even if it means the survival of us of us? Would you care if I told you Jules and all the rest of the veil will die without intervention?” Xell had a pleading tone to his voice.
She took a deep breath. Opened her eyes to see the ‘heavens’ her ancestors had only been able to see from Earth’s gravity. “I’ve seen so much death in my lifetime. What’s a few more bodies to add to the count?”
“You don’t mean that.” Xell’s voice softened.
She turned back to look at him noticing for the first time the ever present sadness in his eyes hidden beyond his pride. “Maybe I do. Maybe in the end of all this, none of us were ever meant to survive the Grey.” She looked back out the window completely captivated.
“It troubles me to see you so, my love,” He said lightly.
She sighed more than exasperated. “Leave me alone, Xell. I just got back home and I’m tired as hell.”
“We’re all tired, Orleans. But the fate of the world is at stake and we must continue on just like everybody else.”
“Oh no. Not the fate of the world you say. Dear Lord. Whatever shall we do.”
He stood up from his table and moved closer to her. “Orleans, listen to me.”
She turned to fully face him. She shivered in her hospital gown. It was cold in this place. She gritted her teeth as she bite the words at him “You’ve become pathetic and boring even in my dreams, Xell. This must mean something.”
“Are you certain this is a dream?” He tilted his head and looked past her to the view beyond.
She grinned as her eyes narrowed. A tinge of hate to her voice. “Hmm. Spaceship. Random old guy who vaguely looks like someone out of a history book and you. Yep. Pretty fucking certain this is a dream.”
“Don’t discount this. I may end up turning out to be real.” He studied her face which made her self conscious and uncomfortable.
“As real a ghost as you ever were, Xell.”
His whole face tightened. His jaw clenched. “There’s not much time left to waste in this idle chastising.” He grabbed hold of her arm tightly and she couldn’t escape his grasp. He pulled her towards him as he looked down into her eyes. “Listen to me, I’ve reprogrammed the relays to read as though you’ve been gone to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1911 for the last four years. So when they ask you, be sure to tell them that is indeed where you’ve been.”
He let go of her and she fled back towards the door. It had no handle and it would not open for her. She briefly searched for a keypad but couldn’t see one. She turned back to him. Prepared herself in case she had to get violent.
“I don’t understand. Why would you need to reprogram the relays?” She asked.
“You don’t have any idea where you were, do you?” He looked at her with sympathy as he kept his distance.
“I don’t remember.”
“That’s not surprising.”
“Fine. Where have I been?”
He ran his hands along the back of the chair he had been sitting in. “That’s the thing: you’ve never been anywhere in any time period. Four years ago you went into a relay and never stepped through to any side or time.”
“That’s not possible.” She stopped looking for an escape for a moment as confusion set in.
“It is quite, I assure you, possible. After all your sister did the same thing albeit it by accident. You went into that malfunctioning relay and brought her back. I have done the same for you. The only difference was the relay you were in wasn’t malfunctioning.”
“It’s not possible to stay inside. That kills people.”
“It didn’t kill you, Orleans. You’re here. You’re home. You’re alive.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“It doesn’t matter whether you believe me or not. It’s the truth, and I always told you above everything I’d be honest first and foremost.”
“Look how well that turned out for us.”
Her words hit their mark in him as he pleaded, “Orleans, please just tell them you were in 1911. Don’t let them find out the truth. They need to believe you’re still controllable.”
Xell stood up and moved towards her. She turned her face away from him. Closed her eyes.
“Orleans,” she heard him say very softly and very close. “Orleans please look at me.”
She opened her eyes to see him looking down at her inches from contact. His eyes tried to hold hers but she had to look away.
His voice cracked when he said, “I’ve missed you so very much.” His eyes filling with tears.
She slid out away from him. A strong light blinded her eyes. And she was gone away from the strange place.