Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The Sands of Time 66

 
Joon and Maia were staring out at the blasted landscape, at the ruined city in the distance. From here you could see how nature had reclaimed the once proud city, vegetation taking over. No one went there, Maia had explained, except for the wildlife and the mutants. And the occasional explorer or scout sent there to survey or gather artifacts. 

Some of them returned. 

It was intoxicating being next to her. 

He had a Maia at home, was in love- why should this woman affect him? But she was Maia, just from a different timeline. Did that make her identical, or a clone? Joon didn't know. 

They'd been silent for a time, and she had rested her head on his shoulder. He didn't know how to respond to that. 

"Tell me about the mutants," he said finally, desperate to distract himself. 

She sighed. 

"I haven't seen them up close. They attack periodically. They're twisted versions of us. Apparently the fallout or the dimensional... whatever... caused them to be how they are. More like beasts than men."

"Are we safe?"

"I think so. To my knowledge none have ever gotten in. Although there are rumors of underground tunnels, exits to the outside..."

"That seems... ominous."

She smiled and an errant lock of hair tickled his nose. He could smell her hair, felt rising desire. 

"How long have you been here?" he asked. 

"I don't even know." She shifted and looked at him. "A year, maybe?"

They looked into each others eyes for a moment. Then she hugged him. 

"I should turn in."

"I'll walk you back."

*******

Joon was having a drink with alt Joon later. 

"Enjoying your time with Maia?"

"I am," Joon replied. "Is that okay?"

Alt Joon waved his hand. "Just asking."

"It is weird," Joon admitted. "I find myself attracted to her, but then, she is Maia, so that's normal, right? What exactly have you gotten me into here?"

They both laughed. 

"Yvette is going to meet with you," alt Joon said. 

"What should I expect?"

"Be careful is what I would say. And remember, her and Jack know Stella, so pick your lies carefully."

"Do you kill for them?"

"I have... done things," he replied. "I try not to kill. As you do, I'm sure." 

Joon nodded. 

"I believe in the mission here. Or I did. Now, I'm not so sure. The best of intentions can go awry." 

"Maia said that someone in the program betrayed her Joon," Joon said carefully. 

"Right. And that leads me to why I lured you here," alt Joon replied. "I don't want you to lose your Maia, the way I've lost..."

Joon waited. 

"Just be careful. Be honest. They'll sense if you lie. If you don't want to be here, they may let you go back. But Maia can be saved."

"How?"

"I don't know. Warning you is hopefully enough. I don't know who killed her Joon."

"If you were me, would you join them?"

Alt Joon looked at him. "I don't know. I might just go to Elysium and... vanish."

*******

Jack studied Hillier as she ate. She seemed utterly fearless, aware of his eyes on her, but noncommittal. 

"Good," she mumbled around a mouthful. 

"You haven't eaten well lately?"

"The Gate traveling... you know how it is."

"You've done a lot, then?"

"Well, being security for Joon does keep one hopping."

"About that." Jack leaned forward. "Why don't I know you? You should be familiar to me."

Hillier shrugged. "I was transferred in recently."

"From where?"

"Operation Spear in Tampa." 

"Really?"

She nodded, sipping her wine. 

They regarded each other like two wolves. 

After a time Jack lowered his gaze, took a sip of his own. 

"You scan differently, you know," he said. "Your physiology."

Hillier shrugged. "I've had work done."

He scoffed. "I'm not going to learn much from you unless I forcibly extract it, right?"

She smiled. 

"Remember, we both want to keep him alive." 

*******

"How do you like our Sanctuary?"

"Sanctuary from what?" Joon asked. 

"You're blunt. I like that. Just like our other... you." Yvette smiled. 

"Are we free to go? I'd like to return and check in with my people."

"Your Maia?"

"Yes."

"How are you liking Maia-25?"

"She's fine. Look, we're playing games here. What do you want with me?"

"Me? Nothing," she replied. "I would have left you alone. Remember, you came here. At Joon-352's urging, apparently. Has he told you what a problem I am?"

"He- and Jack- have told me what they want me to hear."

"Good. Trust no one. Lesson number one."

"If you're so beneficent, why should I be wary?"

"Who said anything about beneficent? We're trying to do something that requires harsh choices. We had to eliminate a carrier of a virus that would have killed millions. Joon was involved. We lose a little more of our humanity each time." 

She seemed genuine, sincere. He was surprised. 

"Do you want to join us? Jack wants that, I suspect."

"I don't know," Joon answered truthfully. 

"Well, think about it. Stay a few more days. Fuck Maia, if you want. Your Maia would never know. I'm sorry," she raised her hands as he started to protest. "That wasn't nice. To be honest, I don't know what to do about this. You could be happy here, though."

Hillier had said the same. 

"What happens... to my Maia, do you suppose?"

"Does she come here?"

"Can she?"

"The Maia I know is determined. She likely won't want to wait long before attempting to find you."

"Is she in danger?"

"We're all in danger." 

7 comments:

  1. ooooh..great last line! Oh, I sense a pattern..maybe..how they find each other..or the idea of finding the different proto-types..which in the long run could be deadly or planting the playing field. Still is each Joon alike. Maybe they are all learning different skills..thus..to help each other. But like Yevette said..Maia's determination. Really an intriguing parrell in it's own right. Like this Joon is killed and that Maia is killed and yet they each find a different one in their pairing. Still there are options..and of course, danger. I am really impressed with this episode. Keep writing.
    ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ–€πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„
    Oh, that is kind of funny about giving your niece the LEGO set. Our niece who is in her 30s loves LEGOS too. We found out one Christmas that she always felt deprived growing up. Her brother got the LEGOS and she never did. She works at a builder's supply place. And its like she has to know a library of tools, wood and other supplies. πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™Thanks for your comment. Yoon Shin Yoon has quite a few dramas, but my favorite one which isn't all that old is Psychopath Diary where his character gets amnesia and thinks he's a killer.

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    1. Thanks for your comments! Oh..yeah..that Wade...(✿◡‿◡) and then maybe Chili is a friend indeed. Or could it just be the holidays! ❄️πŸƒ❄️πŸƒ❄️πŸƒIt's warmed up here..so yeah, a good time to get out there while you can...and do a little careful Christmas shopping..can't be too carefree these days.

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  2. Uy las cosas se complican. Me encanto este fragmento. Te mando un beso.

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  3. intriguing...I hope our Joon doesn't fall for alt Maia though LOL.

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  4. Those mutants sounds scary. And I hope Joon figures out a way to keep his Maia safe. All the layers in this story make it so interesting and fun. :D

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  5. Ooh, another ominous teaser ending. Loving it!

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