Darian backed up a few steps, finding himself tripping into the chair that duplicated the one he had spent twice a week in for the last two years. He had honestly thought that there would be an end to the experiments. He had always felt that one day he’d just be let free, or at least put in prison, like Devin seemed to suggest. Wait… that was right…
“Prison,” He whispered.
Phineas frowned, “I know you say this place is like a prison…”
“No, not that; put us in prison!” Darian responded.
“I…” Phineas began a look of doubt in his eyes.
“Transfer us; falsify documents, whatever you need to do, just move us into a prison and dispose of the paperwork,” Darian interrupted.
“That’s illegal. I could lose my job, I could end up in jail, I…” Phineas’s voice broke when he saw the glare that Darian was giving him.
“I don’t even know where to start…” Phineas finally sighed.
“Basalt Station,” Darian stated, a growing sense of certainty welling inside of himself.
“Basalt Station?” Phineas asked incredulously “That is a space prison. It’s in high orbit. You’d never be able to escape it. It’s a place for violent criminals and people dangerous to the empire. Only lifers go there. If I sent you there, it would be no better than here.”
Darian looked inward for a second, concentrating on the prison in his mind. The certainty started to form. That was the right direction.
“That friend of yours, the one who brought me here…”
“Thad Mason?” Phineas asked in surprise,” Well, actually… now that you mention it he does still owe me. A lot. And he does work at the station. Perhaps I could…”
His voice drifted off as he contemplated for a few moments. He snapped his fingers, his eyes going bright before turning back to Darian.
“You will not die. I won’t allow it. I have an idea, it should work. No, it will work. Tomorrow you are going to that prison,” His voice broke at that, “I am sorry. This might work, but you’ll still be a prisoner. If I could free you, I would… but there is just no way that I can see making that a reality.”
“Don’t worry about that,” Darian replied,” Just get me to that prison and I will do the rest.”
Phineas eyed him suspiciously, “You sound so confident, how do you know what will happen next?”
Darian smiled but did not respond. After a few moments, Phineas sighed.
“I suppose we all have our little secrets,” He continued, “I have a lot of work to do if I am going to make this work. If this doesn’t work out, you’ve been a good friend. I just realized that we are not going to be able to have our talks anymore, this will probably be the last time we ever speak together.”
“We’ll meet again,” Darian responded, slapping him on the shoulder.
Darian was almost certain they would. He wasn’t sure if that was because he wanted it to happen, or because he knew it would happen.
Dr. Faraday recovered the guard, asking him to come back once he had brought Darian back to his room. Before long, Darian was back in the familiar cell he shared with Devin.
“How long do you think they are going to keep us here?” Devin asked him once he entered the room.
“Oh not long,” Darian responded, “We’ll be back in prison before you know it.”
Devin seemed to accept his words. There was a time that he had depended on Devin. Devin had been the confident rock that kept his sanity and kept him going. He now realized that sometime over the last year that dynamic had changed. Devin seemed to more readily look to Darian.
He didn’t have anything else to do but felt very anxious waiting. He knew Phineas would succeed. Besides these newfound instincts that told him so, he had Devin’s past, which painted a road into Darian’s future. He would have to work to learn more about what was in store for himself from Devin.
Unable to rest, he sat back on the bed, crossing his legs and closing his eyes as he had done before. He tried to concentrate on his future, to see if there was a glimmer of anything to come. Occasionally, the shadow of images would appear in his head, but they never focused on anything tangible.
The images he was receiving now were even less substantial than the ones he had been getting before he met with Phineas. Perhaps he was doing it wrong. He opened his eyes and instead looked at the door. An image came to him of the door opening, but he could not see through it. The image melted and blew away before he could abstract any detail.
Well, that wasn’t helpful. That door opened four times a week. Predicting the door would open again, most likely tomorrow, Darian wasn’t particularly sure how he knew that, wasn’t very helpful. Was the door opening to transport him to the prison or was it opening to send him to his death?
Darian shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts again. He turned to Devin and began staring at him. Devin had his back turned away from Darian at the moment, but his back stiffened slightly, suggesting that perhaps he knew Darian was looking at him. He didn’t say anything, however, so Darian continued to stare and concentrate.
Suddenly, he saw Devin still in front of him, but they were in a different room. Devin was huddled in the corner, his eyes starring distrustfully at Darian. He muttered something, but Darian couldn’t quite make out what it was. Darian took a step towards Devin, but this seemed to agitate the man more.
Then there was a kind of flicker as the world changed around him slightly. He closed his eyes to keep the strange dissolving picture from nauseating him. When he opened them Devin was in front of him, his face twisted in hate and anger. The old man leaped at Devin grabbing at his throat. He fought off Devin’s attack on instinct, but before he could think, he was on the floor, his friend’s hands around his neck as the man tried to choke him to death. The light started to fade around his eyes as he tried to call for help, although he didn’t know from who.
Then the present hit him in a flash. The sudden change of scenery disorientated him and made him dizzy. He realized he was on the floor next to his bed. Devin was over him, a look of concern on his face as he tried to restrain Darian’s wildly flailing arms. Darian noticed that one of his arms must have struck Devin, who looked to be sporting the start of a bruise on his left cheek.
“Are you alright, what happened?” Devin asked, a look of concern on his face.
Darian attempted to speak, but feeling the nausea rising, he held up his finger, jumping to his feet and racing to the bathroom, barely making it before he vomited into the sink. Darian was not unaccustomed to nausea and throwing up during the times he was experimented on, but the way this nausea had taken him had caught him off guard.
Devin stayed in the room, a look of concern on his face. Darian worked to reassure him that things were fine, but his mind kept wandering back to what he had seen in the vision. He had never seen Devin angry at him before, and the level of rage on the man’s face unnerved him. What could he have done to cause the man to hate him so? Was his vision definite? Or was it only a possible future? Would his one and only friend one day turn on him?
What about the mistrust? Darian watched his friend’s eyes closely. Was that level of mistrust starting? Were those looks of concern? Or uneasiness? Darian shook his head, banishing the dark thoughts from his mind. Nothing had changed, not to that level. Darian suspected that he’d have more than ample amounts of time to see it coming and prevent it.
If he could not prevent these visions from coming true, then what would be the point of having them? He also thought back to the nature of the visions. It was difficult to decide if he was in control of himself during the visions, or if the future Darian was in control. The few visions he had had, his actions had seemed natural and he simply did what he figured he would do. As a result, he couldn’t tell who was in control during the visions. He almost kicked himself for not attempting to change things outside the event earlier with Phineas. He could have said a different word or moved his hand a different way. Instead, his actions were identical and he didn’t know which was which.
On the other hand, his thoughts were different. He was pretty certain of that. His lines of thoughts were completely different when he had his first vision and when he saw Phineas for real. This also meant that he was not his future self when he saw the future. He thought independently of his future self, confused by places he didn’t recognize and not privy to future knowledge.
The idea that he should be concerned about maintaining individuality between his present self and his future self almost made him chuckle. He restrained the urge, however, as Devin was continuing to eye him with concern. He didn’t want Devin to think he was more insane than Devin already thought him to be.
Darian was already coming to the conclusion that Devin was not insane, at least, not in the traditional sense. It seemed like each night the record skipped and Devin was living the previous day rather than the next day. Darian wondered how crazy he’d look if he could remember a future no one else had experienced yet. He wondered how crazy he’d seem with his glances into the future.
He lied down in his bed and closed his eyes. He didn’t want to see any more visions right now. It wasn’t until he was just about to slip into unconsciousness that he realized that dreams were not any safer for him. He slipped into dream after dream, trying to forget them as quickly as he had them.
The next day Darian woke with a start. He was being shaken awake by Devin, who seemed concerned and panicked.
“How did we get here, what’s going on?” He asked, slightly frightened.
Darian sat in confusion for a few moments before he understood. Devin only remembered things in the other direction. So, if they were going to be transferred today, then he went to sleep in the jail and woke up in a completely different location with no memory of how he got there.
He made an effort to comfort his roommate and friend. He briefly considered telling Devin more about his future, but he hesitated. What would happen if he chose to tell Devin things that, to Devin, hadn’t happened yet? As he recalled, Devin had told him things about his future, but at the time he hadn’t understood them and couldn’t use them to his advantage.
He tried to think back to the details behind the many strange things his friend had said when he had first been imprisoned here. Unfortunately, he quickly grew frustrated at the patchy memory of his first year caused during the experimentation. He simply couldn’t remember what would come next. However, what would happen if he attempted to tell Devin about his future. Would that change Darian’s past? Or would there be some kind of contingency where events prevent him from changing the past?
Of course, why would telling Devin anything slightly earlier help? Devin knew his predicament wouldn’t change anything. They’d still be tortured and experimented on; they would still be trapped in the cell for two years. Simply telling Devin that would hurt him more than help him. More importantly, telling him this information may change the past and destroy the future.
At best, the more Devin knew, the stranger he might act around Darian. Darian already had thought his friend was mad, if the man had told Darian when they first met that he was, for all intent and purposes, from the future, Darian would have never trusted him. It would have driven a wedge between the two of them that may have never been fixed. He never would have learned to speak the common tongue, learned about hints to his future or learned about the society outside of his cell.
Darian resolved to not tell Devin more than he had to about Devin’s future. It seemed like the safest course of action for the moment. He wondered about the vision he had had the night before. He would need to do something so that wouldn’t happen. However, now that he thought about it, he couldn’t do anything to prevent it, since whatever he did to cause it wouldn’t have happened by the time he was attacked. He shook his head.
This added a very strange dynamic to his friendship with Devin; he wondered how Devin had managed for so long having known this secret. He presumed that Devin had figured it out a few months before when he had started his friendship with Phineas Faraday.
After he had finished comforting Devin, telling him that they would return to the prison soon, he sat back down on the bed and began trying to open his mind to more visions. It was an interesting way to past the time and bordered on a kind of meditation. In a way, it was relaxing, the smoky visions that never quite showed him the future glimpsed at the edge of sight.
He had realized from yesterday that the visions formed best when he focused on something. So he focused on an image in his mind of Phineas Faraday. He saw the man a few times in a few different areas, but nothing that really told him anything. These visions seemed to tell him of his own personal future. As a result, he could only see things he was present at, through his own point of view.
Therefore, he couldn’t see where Phineas Faraday was going to be tomorrow or the next day unless he happened to be going to see Phineas tomorrow or the next day. However, he was relieved to see that he would see Phineas again sometime in the future. This meant that both he and the scientist would survive their respective predicaments somehow.
As he glanced around the room, trying to come up with something else to focus his visions on, he decided to avoid delving more into Devin’s future. His hand impulsively touched his neck, although he did not feel any of the effects from the vision, the memory of being choked to death was very strong in his mind.
The guard that had recovered him yesterday was the only other person that might be able to give him a glimpse of his near future. So he focused on the man called Thad Mason. Quickly he saw the man opening the door. Devin walked beside him as they crossed a corridor, entered a ship. He saw them leaving, the ship pushing up through the atmosphere. He felt his head being pushed back against the headrest as he experienced several times the gravitational force when the ship left the atmosphere.
Darian opened his eyes. He knew the guard would open the doors in about two minutes. He still wasn’t sure how he knew it. The certainty became stronger once the vision occurred, but he had had the feeling of its inevitability growing all day. He didn’t know if these temporal instincts were related to the visions or a different beast altogether, but he knew this was another part of himself he would have to find a way to master if he hoped to escape the prison.
Despite never knowing a life outside of captivity, he seemed to know his escape was inevitable. He could see himself being free in the future and knew it was real. He didn’t know the specifics. What would he do once he was out? Where would he go? These answers eluded him. Still, he knew he needed to leave as if there was a definitive reason for him to get out and be free. Something important that he couldn’t do behind bars that exceeded the comfort of the only life he could remember.
Like clockwork, Thad Mason opened the door. He rose as the door opened while Devin jumped a little.
“It’s time to go,” Darian stated, turning to his friend and nodding encouragement.
He walked out of the room with Devin following behind, a strange air of confidence and authority surrounding himself. He knew his strength was at least slightly bolstered by the fact that he had already seen the events unfolding in this way. If he didn’t know what was going to happen next, he might have been more apprehensive and concerned, as his roommate seemed to be at this point and time.
Thad realized he was following Darian, versus leading him, and quickly took a few steps to get in front of him. He gave Darian a confused and wary look. Darian had known exactly where the guard was taking them and had already started heading that direction with Devin in tow. However, in the vision, the guard had led them along the entire way.
So the visions can change, at least, to an extent. Darian nodded to himself as he followed the nervous guard. The hallways were not any different from any of the other hallways he had been in, making it exceptionally easy to get lost for someone who did not know their way.
Suddenly, a flash of warning struck Darian’s mind as they approached an intersection. Thad had started to walk straight down the hallway, but Darian suddenly had a strong desire to turn right, a sense of foreboding along the current path. That was different from his vision too. He was beginning to question how reliable these visions actually were.
“I think we need to go right,” Darian said, his feet stopping short.
The guard jumped at his voice, turning around with a glare at him.
“That’s the long way, this is the shortest route,” the man argued, pointing down the hallways as if that was evidence of his statement.
“There are people down that way, there are not people down this way,” Darian said.
The guard looked at him strangely before responding, “You don’t know that, and even if there are guards down that hallway, they won’t suspect anything.”
“I do know that, and I never said they were guards, we meet with the wrong people at the wrong time, and we will all be in a lot of trouble,” Darian responded.
The guard glared at him, his eyes narrowing.
“Listen to him.” Devin suddenly spoke up, causing both of the other men to glance his way. “He always knows the right way.”
Devin’s voice held just a hint of bitterness, giving me a bit of pause. Was it a premonition about the future? I knew I wouldn’t get my answer. The guard continued to stare at each of them for a few moments, frustrated at the thought of taking a prisoner’s advice. Darian grew certain that he would though. Devin had lowered his head, deep in thought. He must have grown used to Darian proclamations of the future and simply accepted them, which meant Darian would be making a lot more of them.
At the edge of hearing, the rumble of a couple of voices came down the hallway. They were still far off and out of sight, but there was just enough echo down the long hallways that something could be heard. This caused the nervous guard to jump again, before breaking eye contact and nodding grudgingly. They went right. The voices faded as they rounded a corner and were out of sight of the intersection.
“I still say they were just guards,” The man grumbled as he continued to walk down the new hallway, still identical to the previous hallways they had been in.
“What do you owe Phineas Faraday?” Darian asked suddenly.
This caused Thad to blush slightly as he continued to walk. He didn’t answer right away, but Darian knew he would answer; otherwise, he wouldn’t have bothered to ask.
“He, um… My son’s grades were never that great, but he really wanted to get into school. Phineas put in a recommendation and got my son accepted on merit. He also helped him get a scholarship to pay for it…” The guard trailed off, turning his head away from Darian and staring straight ahead.
Darian smiled to himself. He had long suspected that Phineas was a good man. It seemed like his suspicions were right. Still, he would miss the conversations he had with the man, and wondered how long it would be before he met the scientist again. He was not able to glean a time, just a feeling that they would meet again in the distant future. They continued to walk down a few hallways before the guard finally spoke up again.
“You are now prisoners transferred to the Basalt Station from the surface jail. If asked where you transferred from, you are to say you were transferred from Port Geneva, a small colony located on the surface of the planet. You are locals there, and the two of you were tried and convicted for raping and murdering a local woman,” Thad declared.
Darian blinked, a horrified expression forming on his face.
“Don’t argue with me, I chose this crime for two reasons. First, a woman was raped and murdered by two men recently in Paris near Port Geneva. It was reported that the two men escaped, but more than likely locals lynched them.”
“Second, if you wish to survive at Basalt, other criminals need to think you’re hardened. Rapists tend not to be housed with other prisoners for obvious reasons, giving you two a cell to yourself, and any sentence lighter would have you going to a surface prison, not Basalt. “
“I can’t pretend to know why Fin hated you so much that he would send you to Basalt, but rest assured, it will most likely be the last place you ever see. He seemed to like you and said you requested this; I don’t understand that either. I am about to hand you off to some transfer guards. They don’t know the circumstances of your transfer, and you aren’t going to tell them.”
“That is all I can do. I’ve put in a notice and I’m quitting. After this stunt, my face can’t be seen on either Basalt or this research facility, I will not risk my family’s lives, I am no Lancer scum. Never mention my name to anyone, and things will go fine. I don’t know why he wanted this done, but knowing the doc, it was important. So shut up, lower your eyes, and do a better job imitating your friend over there,” Thad nodded to Devin, who looked considerably more cowed.
Darian decided to take his advice and lowered his head and eyes too, adopting a more docile appearance. Before long they had reached the guards that Thad had spoken about. To Thad’s credit, the man handled himself incredibly well. He kept an air of authority and discipline, his voice strong. He spoke with the guards and signed some papers before saluting and leaving.
The guards that took the two of them roughly grabbed them and shoved them through a door, which appeared to be a dock for the ship. Darian was not unaccustomed to rough guards and keeping his head low, and quickly followed in the same demeanor that he had adopted for the better part of two years.
He then came to realize just how cocky and sure of himself he had been with the other guard. He stood straight, looked in his eyes, questioned, asked, and even demanded. These were actions he never would have tried with anyone else. Was this because of the fact the man was a friend of Phineas? Or was this because he had some preconceived instinct about how the man would react to pressures?
For whatever reason, it was a strangely exhilarating experience, being treated like a human being. He vaguely recalled what it felt like to be treated that way, in some time before his memories began. He realized for the first time that he was no longer a lab rat. Although when he looked into the disdainful eyes of the guards that ushered him into a seat and strapped him in with locks, he realized that now he was back to being something less than human, at least in the eyes of these people.
He didn’t know why he wanted to escape the only life he could remember, but the desire to have people look at him and see a person worthy of respect seemed like a start in the right direction. Before long, the ship’s engine rumbled, and they were pushing up into the sky, just like his vision had foretold.
Aiden took the last few steps towards the room with a level of giddiness and excitement he had not felt in some time. Of course, he did not let his excitement show on his face. Even around the lowly guards nearby, he always had to maintain a state of complete control. It was one of the most important lessons his father had taught him.
Finally, after all of this time, he had tracked down the boy who had killed his brother. That the boy was still alive on the other side of that door was both a blessing and a disappointment. He had done a fair amount of research on the Chronos project before working to have it shut down. It wasn’t very cost effective and it had not produced any tangible results anyway.
Still, his primary reason for getting the program shut down was to finally get vengeance on the boy. He had heard the experiments had been particularly painful, torturous even. Aiden, however, would not be satisfied until his brother was avenged. That meant the death of this person, even if it did release him from a life of pain.
Aiden hid his impatience well as the guard entered in the codes into a small wrist pad and the door opened. He continued to wait as the guard entered the room to bring out his prey. The guard made a noise of surprise. Irritated, Aiden pushed himself into the room.
The room smelled. It didn’t smell as bad as it should have or could have smelled, even though it had two occupants that had occupied it almost nonstop for two years. The walls and ceiling were covered with an antibacterial layer. The room was seemingly designed to be self-sufficient and self-cleaning.
The lamps emitted a kind of UV flash that helps sterilize the room. The toilet regularly cleaned itself and air was continually being filtered in and out of the room. Still, it would seem that the occupants had also made an effort to keep things clean within the room, whether from boredom or a sense of cleanliness that didn’t die with imprisonment.
Even with these modifications, years of stink left from people confined like animals layered the place. Unfortunately, the smell was all that was left in the place. The occupants were gone, and by the confused look of the guard, this was not expected.
“Where are they?” Aiden asked, his voice struggling to stay under control.
Before the man could answer, he struck him across the face. He never was particularly good at controlling his anger. However, the effect of his calm voice yet aggressive actions seemed to be a trigger for all of the other men nearby, who quickly bowed their heads and began searching.
Two guards took off in opposite directions down the halls in a desperate attempt to locate the missing occupants. Another guard began looking through the terminal. He moved up next to the guard on the terminal, who quickly became aware of his presence and was visibly unnerved by it.
The guard he had struck finally rose to his feet; he made a dazed bow to Aiden before moving from the room and leaving down the hall after one of the other guards.
“Sir, the last person to open this door was Phineas Faraday, the man in charge here. He never used his own code to open this door, one of us always fe…”The guard stopped speaking when Aiden held up his hand.
“Where is this Phineas Faraday,” Aiden asked calmly.
“Reassignment sir, he left last night, there is no way he could have used his code, it had to be stolen or…” the guard’s voice trailed off at the dark look Aiden gave him.
“Where was he reassigned,” Aiden continued to question.
“Classified sir, Level 10, only the Lord Regent could give permission to access…” Aiden had to hold up his hand again to stop the man from stumbling over his own words.
It all came back to the Lord Regent again. Why was his father protecting this murderer? Did he not care about his own son’s death? What were his motives? He cared little about this Phineas Faraday whether he was involved or not, but where would his father put the boy.
Two years of work and he finally found him, and like that, his father snatched the man out of his fingers again. He didn’t know what his father’s game was, but he would one day claim his vengeance.
The guard was terrified down on the ground next to him. He hadn’t realized he had lashed out, his fist slamming into the computer monitor just in front of where the guards head had been. The glass terminal had cracked, the display now only showing a black and white distorted image around the spiderlike cracks that crossed the monitor. His temper, he needed to be better at controlling his temper.
He glanced down at the trembling guard, his eyes intense, “Get up, get the other guards together, and burn this place to the ground. By daybreak, I want nothing left of this facility or anything in it but ash and stone.”
The guard stood up and left to follow the orders, acting slightly braver now that he had a specific task to carry about. Aiden stood and contemplated what games his father was up and where he would need to look next to hunt down the boy who murdered his brother.