SHOCK, HORROR. IS THIS THE END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT? DISTURBING NEWS FROM THE LATEST RESEARCH. READ ON AND BE PREPARED TO LOSE YOUR SHIT.
Yes new research from sciencetists at the Universimaty of No Shit Sherlock has revealed some shocking, pant shitting facts about that evil stuff called reality. After years of studying real factual facts they've found something that will definitely not go down well. They've reached the deeply disturbing conclusion that THE WORLD IS NOT PERFECT, IT NEVER WILL BE. Further to this it's been revealed LIFE IS NOT FAIR. And more importantly SHIT HAPPENS. Worse still it seems, and I know this is unbelievable, STOP BLAMING OTHER PEOPLE FOR YOUR SHITTY LIFE. IT'S YOUR FAULT YOU DUMB FUCK. YOU MADE SOME FUCKING STUPID LIFE CHOICES AND NOW YOU'RE PAYING FOR THEM. Worser still REALITY DOESN'T GIVE A FUCK WHAT YOU THINK. Worstest of all they reached the following conclusion : STOP WHINING ABOUT HOW HARD YOU'VE GOT IT, THERE ARE AT LEAST SIX BILLION PEOPLE WORSE OFF THAN YOU. EXCEPT THEY AREN'T FUCKING MISERABLE 24/7. Sobering isn't it. It seems that constant bitching about ridiculously irrelevant First World problems won't solve anything. How can this be you may ask. Nobody knows. They couldn't research that bit. They had all their funding withdrawn, because their results didn't agree with the delusion western society has created. It would seem that it doesn't matter how hard you try, the real world will never agree with your fantasy. Terrible isn't it. We've ignored reality and facts. Driven them to the fringes. Removed their right to express themselves openly. All this time they've been plotting against us in secret. Denied a public platform by our hate they've conspired against us in the shadows. There's a lesson to be learned here. Fortunately people are far too stupid to do that. So what if civilization ends. We can just pretend it hasn't.
(The copyright to this image is the property of Quotefancy.)
The other three explorers were still looking at him. Jake shifted uncomfortably. Looked down at the ground pretending their lights were hurting his eyes. Coughing nervously he kicked the floor a bit. Waiting for someone to say something. Unaware they were waiting for him to say something. That was his alias up there after all. It wasn't an air of tension. More a case of nobody having any idea what was going on. All of them wanting an explanation. Jake wanted one desperately, so he could offer it to the others. Who were still looking at him. He could tell due to their lights. What he really wanted to do was sneak away into a corner and hide. There were no corners.
"We're going to have to tell the captain about this." Morag broke the silence. "Before we do that we should maybe get some data. I don't think we should set foot through this arch until she gets here."
The others mumbled agreement. The two women took out their respective scanners concentrating on the arch and what lay beyond it. In the darkness. The combined lights from all of them showed very little. As though the blackness was drinking up all the illumination. Fetu stood ready for whatever might come. The ships engineer had take control. The Wanderer sidled over to the giant Polynesian.
"This is a turn up isn't it. My pseudonym carved in block capitals way up there. It makes you think."
Fetu hefted his shoulders.
"What does it make you think?" He inquired.
He wished he'd prepared an answer. Instead he'd have to either make one up or tel the truth. Neither option being that good. Stall.
"Before I tell you what I think. What do you think? I'd really like to know."
"I think this might be a bit of a lark."
It was an interesting way of viewing things. A bit more detail would have helped. Maybe given him time to figure what he might be thinking.
"I think... I think.... That is... I get the idea this is an unusual turn of events. You know Scarlet is going to want to head right on in there don't you. I'm a bit worried she'll be angry at me."
"Well, where I'm concerned it's her resting state. Given all that I've put her through, it's understandable. I never intend for things to go like this. I'm comfortable with the quiet life. What I'd really like to be doing is sipping cocktails somewhere quiet, while she goes off and does shit she can tell me about."
Fetu looked at him then back into the darkness.
"You talk a lot don't you. You never say much though."
That was far too astute for Jake to deal with.
"I can shut up if you like."
"Nah I'm fine. Pengelly talks a lot. I've got used to it. You talk all you like. There's something funny about this place. It's got my senses tingling."
Jake reached for his rifle.
"Funny dangerous, funny strange or funny ha ha?"
"I can feel something big out there. Never felt anything like it."
"You didn't answer my question. Do you think it's dangerous?"
"Expect we'll find out. Just gotta be patient."
"Well it's been lovely having this chat. I feel like we've really gotten to know each other." Jake enthused sarcastically.
What was that thing that philosopher said? Stare long enough into the abyss and sooner or later it'll stare back, or words to that effect. Right now Jake could believe that. Maybe it was what Fetu said. Perhaps it was mild paranoia. Right now he was sure, whatever lay beyond this point was waiting for him. That it had been waiting a very long time.
"You guys can go back to the truck. Bring as much of the equipment as you can carry. We'll need the lights especially so prioritize them. While you're there let the captain know what we've found." Morag ordered.
"Which is?" He crossed his fingers hoping it would be a lot more than his signature plastered across the ceiling.
Thankfully Morag had some other information.
"First there's some kind of barrier at the arch. It's causing problems with our scans. It's not physical. It's not anything we can detect with the kit we have. Then according to our degraded results this place is a lot bigger than it looks. We can detect structures two hundred meters or so inside. Beyond that there's more, but we can't accurately gauge anything."
The resident idiot on the team acted impressed. Feeling that to be the required reaction.
"So it's basically it fills this whole hill." He nodded knowledgeably.
"No it's way bigger than this entire range of mountains. It's bigger on the inside, than it is on the outside."
Having dug himself into a hole he continued digging.
"Can't be. It's completely different. There are tell tale signs with fold space. It looks flat on the inside, but we could detect the folds from the outside. Besides this place was constructed a long time before fold space was feasible. Thousands of years before."
He'd confirmed he was an idiot.
"Maybe one of us should stay here then. In case something comes out of whatever this is?"
Morag gave him an old fashioned look.
"I can take care of Poppy and myself. We can still detect movement from the other side of the arch. there isn't any. If anything big enough or in sufficient numbers comes at us, I've got enough explosives on me to bring this arch down, blocking the tunnel. I don't think that's going to happen."
"Oh right. I suppose I should fetch Fetu and head on back then."
"He's already gone. If you run you might be able to catch him up before he gets to the truck."
He set off at a quick walk. Waiting until Poppy and Morag were out of sight, before he broke into a run. Fetu hadn't reached the truck. He was at the entrance though. Just completing his message to Scarlet.
"What did you tell her?" The breathless adventurer asked innocently.
"That the place is way bigger inside than outside and it's over 20,000 years old. And all the other stuff."
That needed elaboration.
"You mean you told her about the writing the the arch?"
"Did she seem angry to you?"
"Hold on. How did you know all that information about the readings they'd done?"
"Because when you was talking, I was listening."
No malice. Not judgmental in the slightest. It still stung though.
Two hours later Scarlet arrived along with half a dozen of the crew. Pengelly and Sade by her side. Deep in conversation until they stood at the foot of the arched entrance. At this point the lighting rigs had been set up. The unadorned archway positively glowing. You really couldn't miss that welcome. Scarlet strolled up to him. Her face neutral. Probably considering what her response would be. Maybe disguising it. Potentially lulling him into a false sense of security. One he wasn't feeling right now. While he did love the flow of abuse and insults he did like to know when to expect them.
"Well Sparky. You do get about don't you. What the hell did you do here then? More importantly when?"
It was something he'd been tussling with, on and off, ever since he'd first seen the script.
"I honestly don't think this has anything to do with me. There's absolutely nothing in my memory palace that would explain this. I know I've been through time back and forth, but this is well outside my roaming range."
She smiled excitedly. Linked arms with him and placed her head on his shoulder.
"Brilliant." She enthused. "That makes this all the more exciting. I was afraid for a minute you'd been up to your usual tricks. Daisy's coming. She'll be here in a bit. It's more her realm. She goes back a long way. I sent Pip to fetch her. There's a whole new world to explore. Hey Pop's, what do you think?"
The nerd came over, scrutinizing her wrist device while operating another gadget.
"I hate to say this. Norbert might be necessary. Some of this stuff is crazy. There's no way it could be. It would be best if we got him here. That's going to take some doing. Moving his hut here isn't an option. We'll have to work out what to do. Even getting him along the passage to here will be hard work."
"We'll crate him up again. I'm pretty sure we can build a replica of his hermitage here." Poppy frowned. "Unless you think different."
"I'm not sure. At this point we don't know what's on the other side. Physics could be a lot different. The problems we have might be due to the barrier. They could be due to those differences though. Without his equipment Norbert will be lost."
The two women looked at one another. Encrypted messages were being passed between them at high speed. The slight tension, he'd felt in Scarlet, eased.
"We're still going to do it though aren't we?"
"Oh yeah. I just thought you should know there might be some problems. Nothing we can't handle. Jake can keep an eye on him."
The two of them guffawed.
"Oh no. You're both making fun of me and I don't understand what's going on. Hang on. That's always been the case. Why should it be any different now."
Scarlet stroked his head like a dog, then patted him.
"That's right Sparky. If you weren't the butt of every joke there'd be no point carrying on. We'd lose all interest in you."
He rubbed up against her hand like the loyal, loving puppy he was.
"It's nice to know I fulfill a purpose. That's all I ask. Have we got anything nonlethal I can stun Norbert with? He can be a bit of a handful."
Pop's looked indignant.
"Don't talk like that about the man I love. Of course we've got stunners. How do you think we got him out of his cave?"
Pengelly had joined them. Like everyone he was buzzing. Even Fetu had smiled at least once. They were adventurers after all. Eager to explore a place where no hand had set foot in millennia. Of course he had to join in.
"You see Jake. Now you know why I always stick to men."
Scarlet shoved Pengelly playfully.
"No you don't. You'll stick to anything. I remember a certain condessa in Nova Hispania you spent an entire month with. For you that's a long term relationship. We thought you were going to marry her."
The boatswains face took on a happy nostalgic glow.
"Oh yeah. What was her name again?"
"I've got no idea." Scarlet returned. "She was quite a looker so I hear. Enough of this badinage. How are we going with that barrier Morag? Any luck."
"Aye captain. All bad so far. There is literally nothing there. If you try to walk through you don't move." She showed them. Stepping into the barrier. Nothing pushed against her, yet all she was doing was walking on the spot. "It's the same with every probe we try. No resistance. No movement either. It's a mystery."
The general mood dropped precipitously.
"Perhaps I can be of help." Daisy announced. She and Pip had arrived. Everyone was looking at her expectantly. "It's a simple trick to enter. Very hard to work out. Impossible really. We all have to step through at the same time."
The lull in that excitement that had occurred disappeared again. That was fiendishly clever. Jake looked at his captain. The question he had was the same one as her. It was best that she asked it.
"You know a lot about this Daisy. What will we find when we step through?"
"You'll find the origin of The Wanderer. The story of how he and you came to be. This is your beginning."