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Journey, part 9: A plain somewhere near Iowa
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Date: 06/16/02 09:06
Game Type: Other
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No time for introductions. Destiny comes.

I give in. I’ll tell you. Three weeks from now.
Three weeks from now, the point of convergence comes. Three weeks from now, I meet my fate.
Three weeks from now, I can’t write to you anymore. Unless I survive, which I think I won't.

But don't worry about me. Not now. Things must be changed.

It was like a shooting star, a fallen comet blazing a red trail over the vast Atlantic. As it shot over the horizon, it cut a canyon through the ocean and set the water into a fury of waves. It cruised at a meteoric speed.
Gerard and Haman stared down the horizon, which the red streak had passed over. Where it once had been, there now was just a glowing afterimage in their eyes.
They stood silent on the dusty prarie for a long time, long after the afterimage was gone. Greg was the first to speak.
“What now?”
Haman jumped, and gave Greg a strange look.
Gerard said, “I think we should look at the news.”
“News! Look at..?”
“Yes. Something might be on it.”
“On the news? How...”
Gerard gave Haman a sidelong glance.
Haman said slowly, “I think we should follow that red thing. See where it’s gone.”
“No way you’d follow that.”
“I’ll try.
“I’m not stopping you.”
Gerard turned around. Far behind them were two wooden houses, side-by-side. The nearer one had been flattened, the farther one hadn’t. Gerard started walking toward them, and Greg followed.
“Wait! Where are you going!” Haman called.
Gerard looked over his shoulder. “To check the news.”
“News? What? But we have to follow—” he pointed— “that thing!”
“Good luck,” said Gerard. “This won’t take long, anyway.”
“But we have to follow it! Before it’s too late.”
Gerard continued walking toward the houses.
“It’s long gone.”
“But— but—” the Magician sputtered. “Barnes might be with it.”
Gerard stopped walking, and stared at Haman.
Gerard looked sinister. His hair was messy, his once spiffy-looking suit coat was now dirty and covered with dust, and his sunglasses were significantly less shiny.
Gerard stared at Haman for a while longer, then turned and continued toward the house.
Haman stared at Gerard’s distant back with an expression of disbelief. Then, wordlessly, he also turned around, lifted up off the ground, and flew into the distance.
Gerard considered following for a moment, but reckoned that he probably couldn’t move at one-tenth the speed that Haman could. Instead, he continued toward the house.
He arrived on the porch, and the door creaked open. The lights were off and the interior was dim. To his left the foyer opened up into a living room, with a reclining chair facing a TV in the corner. Gerard took the remote, flopped down in the recliner and flicked through the channels. It wasn’t long before he found CNN.

* * *

Jennifer cruised down the tree-lined two-lane Autobahn well over the speed limit, but nobody in Germany took the Autobahn speed limits seriously anyway. Some people thought that the Autobahns have no speed limit, which wasn’t too far from the truth.
The sun was setting in the West.
She had been headed for the airport at Berlin when the radio told her that all planes had been grounded due to the highjacking of a 747 from San Francisco Airport. Then she headed toward the nearest train station hoping to catch an ICE (Inter-City Express, German bullet trains that went significantly slower than a bullet) before she remembered that all train service had been cut because of the frequent earthquakes that had been occuring since the blast. Then she was just driving in the general direction of Spain (where the blast occured) when an earthquake hit. She immediately braked the car and sat in her bucking seat, waiting for the quake to stop.
She remembered when Gerard had boasted of his flying car. She laughed at him, but she wished she had a flying car, now.

* * *

“...this just in, a plane has been hijacked from SFO— San Francisco/Oakland Airport not less than twenty minutes ago...”
Gerard looked up at Greg.
“Twenty minutes. Hmm.”
The dusty old TV continued talking.
“...witnesses described the hijacker as a tall man, painted lines on his face, blue robes...”
Gerard stood up. “He always liked airplanes,” he said softly, “and he got the face marks a while ago... The robes are—”
“Who?” asked Greg, over the soft TV.
“Jim,” he said, frowning. “Not like his name matters. Though he did start calling himself Travesdain a while ago, in 1892.”
“A while ago?”
“Yeah, I think it was March 1892. You don’t forget a day like that, but the date slips by easy, of course. He’s up to no good, he is.”
“So, what to do about it...”
He sat back down and leaned forward in the recliner, watching the dusty TV with interest.
“fighters have been deployed, to try to force or shoot the plane down. The plane is headed toward the Midwest—”
The news anchor was handed a bulletin by a hand attached to some out-of-sight body.
“—another thing just in. Europe is being rocked by earthquakes, and—”
Gerard flicked the remote, shutting the TV off.
“So what now?” Greg asked.
“We wait for Haman.”
“Oh, he’s coming back.” Then he added: “Don’t worry.”

* * *

Jennifer had just gotten started driving again when another earthquake hit.
Aftershock, maybe?
What on earth did Gerard do this time? He’d “accidentally” caused earthquakes before, but never two in a row.

* * *

Greg and Gerard were back in the dusty plain now. What little grass there was was now flattened into the ground.
They’d been out there for a long time.
Gerard looked at Greg. It was the first time Greg had called him by name.
“Yeah?” Staring at Greg.
“What is this?”
Gerard pondered the question.
“What is what?”
“This. Everything!” He spread his arms. “What’s happening? What is...”
Gerard looked down into the ground.
“I don’t know.”
“Then how did—”
“I know a lot of things,” said Gerard. “I’ve lived longer than I can remember, you know that?”
Gerard started walking back and forth.
“I was there. Throughout history. I was there. Spent most my time in the west, of course. Most interesting. Place, that is.”
Gerard continued.
“I was there when Moses confronted Ramases. I was there when Tutenkhamen was killed. Tried to stop it. I had stopped a lot from happening. But some things I couldn’t prevent. I didn’t want the world to find out about... my abilites. I don’t even know about them,” he added.
“I did try to find out. But that’s another matter.
“I was there when Julius Caesar died. You know that? He was stabbed to death by half the senate. I was on the senate. You don’t know what it’s like... to see this great man, such a great and imposing figure get stabbed to death before your eyes, symbolically... He was bloddy. Know what his last word was? ‘Brutus’. His close friend. When he saw Brutus attack with the knife, he just gave up... and then Antony stepped in. Hoo boy.
“And then there was the others. Tiberius, who captuerd little boys and forced them to... And Caligula. And all the others. Nero. You know. Something like 20 emperors over the course of 50 years.
“They think that there might have been some poisining going on in the palace, now. Lead in the pipes. But I know. It was one of the seals. Er, I’ll explain” Gerard looked at the ground again, and shook some dirt off his toe. “Stupid Roman Palace built right over one. I don’t know what the seal was for— well, sealing something, obviously, but why— but it caused all the insanity. It sealed something dangerous, but it wasn’t totally sealed, because something was leaking out. Some sort of evil that caused the emperors to do these things. The actual thing was not unlike that thing you just saw, in the spaceship. I got five of us together— there’s nine of us total. Magic users, that is. So five of us broke the seal and fought the evil in it. It was a difficult battle, but nothing the five of us couldn’t handle.”
“You killed it?”
“Obliterated it. After that, the insanity stopped. The empire fell not long after, but it was falling anyway.
“A thousand years or so after, we found another seal. It was at the pope’s whaddya-call-it in France. Broke that, too, and killed the thing inside. I think it was using religion, controlling it. Dominated Europe for a good part of the middle ages. Cus not long after that, the reformers came. Martin Luther and Jan Hus, you know. That’s my therory, anyway.
“Third seal we found, using world dictators. Genius, how skilled manipulation and magic use on one person was used to dictate the world affairs. Hitler had such an awesome grip on Germany. You really have to have been there... Albrecht Speer said that one seldom recognises the devil when he is putting his hand on your shoulder. He was Hitler’s architecht, you knnow, and yeah, he summed it up nicely. We broke the seal in 1941, and the war— Hitler’s war— went downhill from there.
“I’ve come here because I’ve been trying to track down a fourth seal. It’s been inactive, fortunately. I think. I was shocked to see that the seal wasn’t broken. Because that thing, I figured it must have come from that seal.” Gerard looked into the distance.
“So I’ve figured it out now. The blast under the Atlantic ocean was the unleashing of a fifth seal. But it’s like none of the others. None of them ever caused natural disasters. The conduits did— I’ll tell you about those later— but not any of the seals. This is no conduit, but it’s like no seal there ever was. That explains why it was buried under the Atlantic.
“And then I sensed Haman. With a magic power like that, he was pretty damn easy to sense. I’d seen evidence to suggest that there were people—” he waved at the stars “—out there, but Haman...” Gerard trailed off.
Greg stood their silently, saying nothing.
“Want me to tell you about the conduits? But wait. Hang on,” said Gerard. He paused. “I think I sense Haman coming back.”

The journey continues June 23, 2002.

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