The Professor asked, “You sure about this?”
Seamus said, “If this is as bad as you say, I don’t have a choice.”
The Professor patted him on the shoulder, “It is, and now I owe you one.”
Seamus nodded. His jaw set, he braced for the coming impact. Katie knew better than to offer words of comfort. Instead, she armed herself to the teeth.
Flynn cruised through a stretch of reality where Ada Lovelace invented the first computer, and used it to enslave the human race with an army of steam powered war machines; then into a realm where the Earth grew too close to the Sun, and no life ever stained its surface; into a once upon a time when fairies existed, but were on the verge of extinction thanks to a superstition that claimed powdered fairy cured impotence. The Mirna Loy cruised the timelines gracefully, barely shuddering as she plunged from one reality into another. Flynn stroked the floor with his foot, whispering soft thanks. She was showing courage though the nightmare was coming fast.
Without warning proximity alarms sounded. Flynn jerked the controls, causing the trio to topple about the bridge. The sound of thunder crashing inside their skulls, everyone on board felt the pull of a temporal current as they were caught in the wake of a massive ship.
Seamus growled, “Here we go.”
On the view screen the monstrous train, Fenrir, plowed through the rift like a mobile city. Time itself seemed to part before the mile wide cow catcher. Display screens lit up signaling numerous warnings from weapons detected to disturbances in the rift caused by the titanic mass passing through.
Flynn’s grip on the controls went knuckle white as he countered the turbulence. He spotted a laminar flow, and rode the temporal current settling Mirna Loy into the slipstream behind Fenrir.
“That a girl,” Flynn murmured. Turning to the Professor he said, “Beauty’s right behind the beast.”
The Professor, his eyes on a screen, asked Seamus, “What’s the move?”
Seamus said, “They know we’re here.”
Katie said, “Then let’s say hello.”
The Professor flipped on the comm. Picking up the mic he said, “Fenrir this is the Mirna Loy. Do you copy?” – a minute passed in silence – “I repeat…”
The boom of a railgun cut him off. The shot streaked off trailing a blue column as it ripped into a timeline, perhaps to spear Kennedy’s head.
“So much for chitchat,” Flynn said.
Seamus said, “That's just hello.”
A crackle of static hissed over the speakers then a bored voice spoke, “Mirna Loy, hold course to OS6-17-1908-KRAT7-14-Tunguska, and follow us down. Over.”
“Copy that,” The Professor said. He nodded at Flynn who shrugged:
The coordinates OS6-17-1908-KRAT7-14-Tunguska put the two vessels down in a part of Siberia. The exact point in time gave them two hours to discuss any business before a meteor exploded in the low atmosphere, obliterating any trace of their presence from the timeline. Though Fenrir took a holding pattern, circling itself like an ouroboros, Mirna Loy settled on the ground.
Flynn said, “Don’t go too far. I got a new trick if we need it.”
The Professor spread a taut grin. With any luck, things would go smoothly. Still, it was good to know they had options.
Seamus hoisted the Kid’s corpse onto a shoulder. Katie took point, heading onto the deck of the u-boat to secure the area. As the Professor emerged a drop pod detached from Fenrir. It plummeted like a stone, repulse jets firing at the last second breaking the fall. Two men who looked more like a mess of gears than human emerged from the pod, jumping down onto the Mirna Loy. They inspected the deck a moment before signaling the pod. From within emerged an eight foot behemoth.
Seamus muttered under his breath, “Caleb.”
Dropping the Kid unceremoniously on the deck Seamus approached Caleb. With a subtle hand gesture he let the Professor know, “I got this.”
Caleb the titan folded his arms across his chest, “Long time, Seamus.”
“Long time,” Seamus nodded.
“Nobody here owes you shit.”
Seamus held up his hands, “Didn’t come for favors.”
“Business.” Seamus jutted a thumb at The Kid’s body, “You know who that is?”
Caleb shrugged, “Maybe. What’s it to you?”
Seamus chewed on his teeth a moment, “How ‘bout a few years service?”
Caleb cocked an eyebrow, “You made it pretty clear when you left, you wanted to be out for good.”
“Left alone or else – how’d you put it?”
“‘I’ll kill you in every timeline.’”
Seamus growled, “That’s what I said, and I meant it.”
Caleb chuckled. It sounded like the mouth of Hell laughing, “I don’t owe you shit little man…” -- Seamus scratched behind his ear, a signal to Katie. She caught the sign, and readied for anything.
Caleb said, “But this is your lucky day.”
Seamus seemed to relax his stance, though in reality he just shifted closer to one of Caleb’s guards.
“That punk ain’t nothing to me other than a pain in the balls. Had to bring his ass back more times than I can count, and not a penny for it.”
“You don’t say.” Seamus narrowed his gaze. Free of charge, the concept didn't exist among Resurrection Men.
Caleb nodded, “Funny thing, we just got orders not to bring him back. Not now. Not ever.”
Seamus asked the only question that mattered, “Who’s ordering you around?”
Caleb looked off. Jaw clenched he said, “They scare me Seamus. I never met anything like them.”
Seamus swallowed hard. Back in the day, when he ran with the Resurrection Men, he saw Caleb go after a pack of velociraptors with nothing but a Bowie knife, and come out on top (a bit bloody, but still the winner). The prospect of anything frightening him frightened Seamus.
Caleb said, “I tell you, man, you got to put them down. All of ‘em. Or you in for a world of hurt.”
Caleb said, “They’re…” – one of the gearmen turned sharply, gun firing as he moved, he put two rounds through the other guard before emptying the clip into Caleb. Despite the .38 cal tearing through him, Caleb managed to grab the gearman by the head. The sound of his skull cracking in Caleb’s grip sounded over the ratta-clak-clak of the empty gun trying to fire. Almost as quickly as the titan grabbed the traitor, a bullet screamed out of Katie’s pistol, whizzing past Seamus's ear into the gearman’s throat.
Dropping the dead man aside, Caleb staggered. Seamus took a step forward.
Caleb held up a hand, “Don’t. I can fix this.” – he coughed up blood – “If you get ‘em.”
Caleb dropped to one knee, “They’re in… worst part… the rift.”
As he collapsed, sliding over the side of Mirna Loy to the ground below, the pod returned to Fenrir. Turning, Seamus headed straight back to the control tower. The Professor and Katie followed at his heels. Fenrir exploded back into the rift.
On the bridge Seamus told Flynn where to head, “Into the devil’s maw.”
Flynn laughed at the top of his lungs, “Then smile that black tooth grin.” – he slapped controls, setting course – “Cuz we all gonna die.”
The Devil’s Maw