Chapter One: Mark and Ida
I struggled to keep up with Ida, who ran a couple of paces ahead of me. We stopped for a moment in the darkness, Ida hesitating as she looked from back to forth. I answered her unspoken question,
“We’ve been going at about 12mph for about 1.5 hours. So that’s-”
“8 miles. I know.”
“So then, we’re getting fairly close?” I worded it as a statement, although it came out as a question; I didn’t know the route, and she did.
As I had expected, I didn’t get a response.
She just set off again, although a little slower this time. I though perhaps that she was getting tired, although in fact I realised that she had slowed down to accommodate me. I was a fast runner, although I knew that she had the edge, and that I was a little smarter. I hoped very much that the same large gap of abilities wouldn’t apply to our intelligence: despite my pride, an intellectual equal to talk to would be an asset.
My name was Mark, and I was running. Ida and I both were Evon, and that was not a good thing to be in these times. I had met her in Jenner just a few days earlier, and at that time it had seemed like incomprehensible good luck, although I was now starting to wonder what had brought us together.
The path was still hard underfoot, although the sides started to become less wooded and the smell of fields and manure that had hung around was starting to fade. We arrived at a junction, and we turned left.
The path led us into a courtyard, which surrounded a small, fairly English-looking pub, which a faded sign informed me was called “The Everson”. There was a large, heavy-set door in the centre, and to the left a dusty conservatory jutted out. Behind, there was a sparse, yellowish lawn. All in all, it seemed like nobody had come here for a long time.
Ida sat down on a table outside, underneath an intact “Walls Ice Cream” umbrella. My instinct would have been to go inside, although out of polite respect I decided to go with her instinct. I sat down on another table, although she gestured that I should sit with her. She showed me a photo of this very same pub, but thriving, with people enjoying themselves in the windows and a suburb in the background: houses, a park and hundreds of busy people.
“There’s a reason why they call this a city,” she said, “although they should probably reclassify. We have a great community though; we survivors all know each other, and we don’t need to organise community events or anything because we all know each other”
I felt uneasy listening to her. I knew that all Evon had feelings, but they were meant to be logical, not to be attached to an area. I felt uneasy myself, as I knew part of my terror was how far I was from Gru and Rosaline and my own areas of attachment.
She sensed my unease, although she misread it (perhaps on purpose, her quick eyes darted from the path to my face and she seemed to be thinking).
“I’m sorry if this has been a little too much for you,” she said.
“What do you mean? I’m not scared”
“No… Losing Rosaline and Gru so soon”
My heart sank slightly. I realised then that she had not misread me, but had rather tried to be polite about it, in her misguided, Evon way.
“I don’t want to talk about it”
“That isn’t true”
“Maybe I don’t want to talk to you about it,” It wasn’t true, but I though it might drive her away.
“Mark… Please tell me about it, and not just because I care about you”
“You mean we can find them?”
“Perhaps we could, together. But alone, you will go on hiding from the stars and the memories, and I will be stuck entertaining the village of Jennner with my science tricks”
I looked at her, into her black-blue eyes. She was so different to Rosaline, and to Michael and Gru: she was much more like me; another Evon to talk to. I considered it for a second… Mark and Ida. But it wouldn’t work; we weren’t right for one another, and my heart was still left with my friends in the Helltunan Mountains.
“Let’s go” That wasn’t really me, or Ida. Just our combined thoughts speaking using one of our mouths, in this case hers.
Another hour of running later, we came to our destination. We stood outside an old house, making an odd silhouette: her short, skinny form and mid-length blonde hair contrasting with my taller, lanky body and long brown hair. We were at our destination: launch site Ga*23.
Chapter Two: Ga*23
Ida was the first to enter, ducking under the undergowth and vaulting over the obstacles. I tried to dodge the obstacles by weaving a path through them whilst running fast, so when I left the undergowth I found it a little disorientating to see the form of the manor looming above me. it was a yellow-brown colour, although it looked black against the dark-blue night sky. I opened the door, bracing myslef for a diffrence, although there was none. The room was panneled with steel, although there was no hiss of Nitrogen as the door opened, and there were wasps' nests on the mildewy ceiling. I felt a little shiver of horror: somebody had been inside here. Ida stopped, her mouth working wordlessley as she struggled to comphrehend the implications of this situation.
The next door slid open with a sound of releasing gas, and the next room was cleaner and was kept so by a slight breeze. There was a tannoy on the celing, presumably designed to give information to now-vacated passengers. We walked past rows of elevator-trains and starways down to railway lines, looking at the eirie quiet of the staion.
It had been designed for many peopel to pass through it, and the design relceted that: the ultilitarian architechture was coloured in sleek silver and white; signs and now-empty LED boards flanked the places where the walls and ceiling met; and adverts in a mixture of Evonian and English told passengers of products that they must buy, and warned them of the biological weapons that were expeted to be released.
Three spaceships sat waiting on the platform, each with a faded sign in front with an eternally waiting Siri. I pressed one and said,
"When's the next tarin to London?"
"The next train has been cancelled due to waiting for a train crew member. The next train is now expected to depart in 22 thousand years."
I smiled at Ida, but she looked grim. Deciding to ignore that, I let her lead the way to the door of the spaceship, which opened for us. I was reluctant to leave, as I knew that the facility had been breached, but I knew that there was no need to voice those thoughts. Ida was quicke nough to pick up that.
I flew the spaceship: we both recognised my intellectual superiority. Compliacted mathematica equations flashed in white lettering on the dark-grey screens, and I was working at my utmost to solve each one as quickly as possible. Ida watched me, occasioanlly blurting out an answer that I had already worked out. We were both Evon, so we were both very able to solve whatever the ship threw at us.
When we were cruising in mid-space, I turned to Ida.
"Guess what?" I asked.
"What?" she said
"We're both about to die! And I thank you for being such a good audience. Almost as smart as Mark!"
I took of the mask that was Mark. My brain slowed down to my own, not-so-intelligent pace, and my face loosened into an ugly, slack-jawed grin. Before, I really was Mark; a copy of his brain generated by a computer, and now I was me again, ready to kill his associate. But when I looked back at Ida, she had changed too.
"Well, this is amusing!" announced another Helltunan spy.
"Well, if this is us, where the hell are Mark and Ida!"
Chapter Three: Meeting
Mark lay ona bed in a hotel room, slowly waking to the sound of raised voices.
"So, do you two know each other?" asked Ida
"Well, it is quite complicated," responded Rosaline, "but we don't know who this is, or who you are, so maybe we should be asking the questions."
"Well, you do know who this is, and in a minute I'm sure he will do a much better job explaining it than I will. But first, you need to tell me who you are, and how you know each other"
"You know," said Gru aside to Rosaline, "she reminds me a bit of Gally"
"Are you Evon?" asked Gru
"Yes, I am, but that is part of something which won't make sense until Mark wakes up."
"Gru and I traveled together," said Rosaline, "And there was also a third one of us who was Evon. We kept to ourselves... a little, and we ebcame fairly well-known to the Helltunans, and one day they decided they didn't like us, so BAM! Gru went off into some pocket universe, I ended up back in Helltuna, and Gally vanished."
"I was there before Rosaline," said Gru, "and I was linked to a tracker called Abby. Because I was from Rasu, it wasn't hard to wrangle, and sometimes there was also a fith one, called-"
Ida cut in, "That's enough as I need to know: Mark will amke things clearer, you'll see"
"This is madness. Following you around. You're a slightly crazy Evon who thinks that we know a dead guy."
"Please trust me."
They looked at each other, Rosaline showing mistrust and anger, Ida showing sadness and a burning intelligence. Rosaline looked away, and gave the slightest of nods. Gru grinned.
Ida asked, "I know that you are a BHH, from Rasu, but I need to know more about you, Rosa"
"Ro, if you don't mind." She tried to sound indignant, but she was too interested to do so, "I come from Helltuna; I'm a god"
Ida recoiled instinctiveky, a little bit of irrational fear shown in her body langauuge. Her blonde hair hung slightly limp around her face, and her eyes were heavy-set and tired.
"I was on your side," Ro continued, "so I defected. This wasn't popular, and the gods tried to have me killed. Gally didn't think that that was fair, so he took me with him and Gru."
Mark woke up properly, looking at his surroundings.
Ida and Gru both tried to get a better look at him, trying to see if he was okay, but Ro pulled them back to give him some space. Ida brushed herself off indignantly, but she ruined the affect by smiling at Ro afterwards.
Mark tried again to speak, "Hello Ro, or is it Lily Black, I don't know. And hello Gru, nice body armic, arman, armor - that's it! And oh look, it's Ida as well, I am so asleep," he said all of that in a drunken slur, and then fell back on his pillow.
Ro looked stunned, and she shared an open-mouthed glance with Gru, who made a funny gesture somwhere ebtween a shrug and an incredulus gesture. About a mnute later, Mark woke up again, and this time he sat up and moved to a chair. he was still fully-clothed, as he had passed out very quickly.
"I'm not going to ask any questions, but how the hell did you all get here?" He spoke quite fast, looking at each of them in turn. "And if it's Ro, not Lily Black, then how the hell did you get out of Helltuna! And before we get all confused, I'm gally, but my name is Mark"
"You said you weren't going to ask any questions, but that was two," said both Ida and Gru at the same time.
"I've been passed out in a coma for about an hour, I think that you could cut me some slack!"
Ida rolled her eyes, but then everybody smiled.
Chapter Four: Explanation time
"Okay, Ida, I'm going to talk to you first. I know these two very well, and to give you a full explantion would be a waste of what little time wehave, so let's just take it as red that there is a good reason for me to trust them. You might pretend yout rust them, but I know you better than Ro and Gru do: you can't lie to me.
Ro, Gru, this is Ida. She is another Evon, and she is very clever, very fast, and I trust her completely. Where ever we go, she will be coming with us. Gru, I need you to try to contact Abby. I know that she was suppoused to be dead, although I had every confidence that you were both dead too, so you never know what could happen"
Gru brushed some of his white-blond hair back into a windswept arrangement and pressed a button on his body armour. Whith his shiny black clothing and pale face and white-blond hair, he looked like a shadow puppet. Ro still looked intently at Mark (or Gally, whatever we going to call him), waiting for her turn.
"Ro, you were sent to Helltuna and you escaped. I'm not telling you anthing until you tell me how you escaped."
"I'm not Ro. I'm another Helltunan god, a spy, who was supposed to use my form to infiltrate you or Gru. When Helltunan spies assume their subject, they don't just take on the apperance: they literally become the person, memories, brainpower, feeling and personalitites, and they genuinely have no idea they are just a spy, at least until the trigger is reached and they transform again. A spy was tasked with becoming me, although the real me worked with the spy - who though she was me - to disable the chip and stop me form ever being triggered or tracked"
"Congratulations, Ro - you have become one of the first people in the universe to fool Helltuna."
"You've done it loads of times, you're just trying to act all modest in front of Ida. Don't forget, Gally, I know you."
"You tricked the high command. I've tried that twice, and the first time I screwed it up badly."
"Spies aren't high command any more. Well, they are, but there is a whole new department in charge of exterminating you, me, Gru, Abby and Ida, although they reffered to you and Ida by Evon serials, so I couldn't tell."
"What's an Evon serial?"
"It's just a propaganda message as part of the war. They say that the Evon are not people, and thus they don't deserve names. Sorry, Gally, I have been for too long amoungst the gods."
"I'm not Gally anymore, I'm Mark. But I think I owe you an explation. When I "vanished", I actaully jumped into one of Gru's black holes, which took me to a plante called "Earth". With no spaceship, no sonic device and no help, I was left to fend for myself and try to discover where you might be. I met Ida before you, during the Time War, and I trusted, and still do trust her completely. We did things that we both promised would not leave with us, but I knew that she would be safe.
Recently, I discovered traces of Gru left about; sightings in the background of CCTV shots; Black Hole residue. I followed them to their logical end in Exeter, but there was nothing. Forced to conclude that I was wrong, I stayed in Exeter for a week or two. Today, I could sense that you were on this train - I can sense gods, it's a time war thing - and when I got a bit closer, I though maybe that I could feel some sort of a gravational warping. That was Ida's devices protecting her, although i assumed that it was Gru.
I ran to keep up with the train, and I got to about 50mph before realising that I could never keep up with it. Ida might have been able to, and teh fastest Evon soldiers could, but I couldn't. So I tried to quantum tunnel, and it worked, although I left about half of my blood and parts of my bones behind. I landed on a seat, and passed out so my body could repair itself."