17th February was the 1st anniversary of my blog, so I decided to write something unconventional to celebrate the occasion. And… here it is, a crossover short story where the path of the main characters from my other novellas meet. If you continue you’ll be reading about Kim & Louis from Timetraveller (original short story and Christmas special), Alex & Tom from Cinderlight and Henry & Mark from Disparities (to read the latter two click here).
Henry blinked himself awake. As his eyes opened, he felt numb, his thoughts were cloudy. He was laying on a hard, cold floor, and as he pressed his palm and fingers flat on it, he shivered as recognition hit him straight in the face. Metal. He was laying on a metal floor.
Where the Hell was he? In a German bunker? He looked around anxiously assessing his surroundings. If it was a German bunker that would explain the metal floor, ceiling and walls. And if he was right, that meant he became a prisoner of the Germans, which would make his sorry situation a lot more hopeless.
Mark… Where was Mark? As the last memories hit him from the last battle they were in, he rolled on his belly with jerky movements. He remembered they were running for cover when the Panzer IV has arrived to back the German infantry soldiers up. The entore battlefield turned into flames and deafening booms preluded by the Panzer’s turret fire.
Lilly and Mark were also there. Lilly had taken a left turn because she saw someone in need of help. Henry wanted to follow her, but Mark grabbed him by his uniform sleeve and dragged him along, not letting him go. The only thing Henry could do was to follow him, until they were caught in an explosion wind coming from only God knew what.
The last thing he remembered was the hot wind knocking them off their feet. It sent them flying then crushed them into the muddy soil of the battlefield. Before Henry could register the pain crwaling into every inch of his body, everything went black.
And now, here he was. Letting his eyes adjust to the dim light of the metal cell, he looked around for anyone – hoping like Hell he would find Mark – to make sure he wasn’t alone in this narrow metal box with low ceiling. He wasn’t sure he could keep his sanity if he were to be left alone in the confinement of a claustrophobic place like this.
As he forced his eyes to take in everything in the dimly lit cell, he could make out the shape of three other persons laying on the floor and on one of the two narrow bunkbeds. His legs were still numb so he belly-crawled next to the nearest one. He looked at the body first searching for any kind of injuries – he was a medic after all, then checked the man’s vitals. He was alive, although unconscious but he at least seemed unharmed.
Henry observed his face. He needed a few seconds to recognize him; he was captain Alexander Noble from the British-American joined group. After making sure, the captain was as fine as he could be closed off in a metal box in a supposed German custody, Henry continued to crawl forward until he reached the next body.
It was the captain’s right hand man, none of them ever saw those two separated from each other. Henry closed his burning eyes for a few seconds, in an effort to remember his name. It popped up from his memory after a few tries; sergeant Thomas Bel, also unconscious and seemingly unhurt.
So far so bad. The Germans got two prominent potential information sources. Henry thought himself as the least concern – what can they coerce from a medic by torturing him? Not much except for the wounds he tended to lately.
Off to check on the last body at the other end in the metal cell laying on the bunkbed. Henry let out a silent plea to please let it be Mark… then he was crawling towards the last unchecked member of their captivated group. It, indeed, was Mark. Henry thought that even the Germans on the other side of the metal wall could hear his sigh of relief.
Before he could check him further, one side wall of the metal box slid sideways creating a hole in the wall large enough for someone to come and go. Henry tested his pricking, wobbly legs, but he has to propped himself against the wall in order to stand on his feet. There was a chance of a snowball in Hell for him to run for it… it seemed highly unlikely as his legs turned to jelly. And even if he could, he wouldn’t leave Mark behind.
He stared at the door warily trying to see past the blinding light creeping in trough the hole in the wall. Everything seemed to be mind-numbingly white outside. Or was it just the sharp light playing tricks with his brain and stinging eyes? He blinked the prickling tears away just in time to witness a tall and strong looking man enter the metal box.
After the was in the door slid shut behind him. Henry’s eyes required a few seconds to adapt to the returned dimness of the cell.
“You’re awake. Good. The one I wanted to talk to.” Said the newcomer, and Henry immediately recognized the voice.
“Ling?” He asked dumbstruck; the half Chinese, half British Londoner was the laughing stock of Henry’s company until he proved everyone wrong with his battle and survival skill. “What’s the meaning of this?”
This whole situation didn’t make sense. Why could Ling enter a cell containing four of the joined forces’ soldiers freely? Was he a traitor spending month with them playing them all for fools?
“The name’s Kim, for starters” the man looked at him smiling.
“Can I guess? Your not a half-breed Londoner” Henry said bitterly, already feeling the imaginary knife in his back.
“No. I’m Korean. But I’m not here to speak about my lineage.”
“Then why are you here? To sell us out?”
“Wrong again, Every.” And the bastard actually had the audacity to grin like a loon. “But again the army’s not keeping you for your sharp mind. You’re here for special reasons. The others… Well, let’s just say, I’ll need them exactly where you will be.”
Henry remembered why he couldn’t stand the sergeant right away. He despised his way of talking, the way he treated the others, his patronizing attitude towards everyone and his haughty bearing. Time and time again Henry made silent wows to treat him without any painkillers should the sergeant turn up injured after a firefight. But until now he’d gotten away with everything, with not much as a scratch on his shoe.
And here they were. Henry staring directly in the eyes of a traitor who was stringing them God knows how long. Selling them out to the enemy. But as they continued the staring content, and the smirk widened on Ling/Kim’s face, Henry got the feeling that something wasn’t right with his theory. The man had a captain and an other sergeant in custody but he really wanted to speak with Henry? How was that logical?
“I want to know about Garrett” the man spat it out finally. “And you’re my best source of information.”
“Whatever you want, I won’t tell you anything” Henry bit back.
“One would believe you, but not me really. I watched your tremendous effort to make everyone in the company believe that you two are together. In order to cover your real relationship with him.” Kim nodded in Mark’s direction and Henry’s stomach churned uneasily. So that was why the bastard brought a captain and a sergeant along. To dispose their secret ensuring court martial for the both of them if he refused to cooperate.
Henry gulped down a big lungful of air almost choking on it. It was an impossible choice. He cannot rattle out Lilly whatever this freak was after. But he had to defend Mark at any cost. He swallowed hard then asked.
“What do you want from Garrett?”
“I don’t want anything from her. I simply want her. I want the anomaly cleared of the timeline.”
Anomaly? Henry almost sputtered. What the Hell was it all about? Did someone really wanted the woman-doctor out of play? True, Lilly had a bunch of enemies, but… Could someone be foolish enough to look at the war as a male-dominated playground as it was for centuries, loathing Lillyana Garrett and her skills enough to send someone crazy enough to get rid of their doctor? The only one left…
Still… the bastard’s words still didn’t made any sense. Timeline? Anomaly? It was madness. Before Henry could say anything, Kim lunged forward, and pinned Henry against the wall, put one hand over his mouth preventing him let loose a startled yelp. Then he attached a button like object to his temple. The sting of it was almost unbearable, but he cannot scream due to Kim’s hand slapping his mouth shut.
Then Henry heard voices in his head. Garrett and her father don’t belong to your time. They created far too big changes in the timeline. But what they did turned the world to be a better place. I have to act like I’m pursuing the anomaly, but honestly I don’t want to undo those changes. It would be a huge downgrade. So I give all of you an out. When they wake up, tell the captain everything I said to you. Tell him, the Fay told you all of this, and he will help you save Garrett. And if the captain helps, the sergeant will follow along.
How can I know you’re telling me the truth? Asked Henry without words still incredulous.
I’m telling you all this using a technology nobody in your timeline ever dared dream about. I will be invented hundreds of years after your epoch. Isn’t it a proof enough? I’m putting my life and others’ on the line for one girl, trying to help. I was undercover in your laughable army in order to snatch her out of your time before she makes her ultimate impact right after the war ends. I’m telling you all this to help her. Now you know why I’m here, you can keep her safe.
How? Henry still didn’t know what to think. Kim leaned closer and slid a small device in his uniform trousers’ pocket and a bracelet on his wrist.
Use this to check the newcomers in your group, the bracelet will show you who came from an other time. The device I gave you opens a door and sends them back here. Point it at them, and push the only button on it. Don’t let them see any of the tools. Understood?
Yeah… I think. But what about his father? Henry thought back.
Sacrifices has to be made. I can’t save the father, nor can you. But she doesn’t have to know about it. It would be better to leave her believe her father was lost to the war. And now…
Kim snatched the device away from Henry’s temple. It hurt so much, his knees buckled. Everything around Henry shifted, the wall behind his back disappeared and he was falling, Kim clinging to his shirt and yelling at him.
“So you won’t tell anything? Tell me where Garrett is! I’m sick of your lies! Abomination!”
“Let him go you sick fuck!”
Henry would recognize that voice anywhere. Mark. He was awake. Before he could tell anything to him, Kim’s knuckle connected with his jaw. The hit dazzled him, made the world somersault around him. As much as he could see, they were back on the battlefield, and the fight was over momentarily.
“Stand down, sergeant!” The order came loud and clear from the captain, but Kim ignored it. Punches rained down on Henry, Kim made everything in his power to make the mental breakdown look real. He was yelling, spatting out curses until the captain, Mark and Sergeant Bel managed to hold him down.
“Henry! My God, what have he done to you” Lilly was looking down on him concern evident on her features.
“I’m… good…” he coughed, turned to his side and spat the blood out. “It’s just his nerves. Don’t hurt him, just let him cool down.”
“He can cool down in the lockup as much as he wants. No one hurting my men goes unpunished.”
Mark held Henry up, and he tanked them their help and saving him from the neurotic soldier.
Later that day Henry visited Kim in the lockup. He was beaten and bruised, the captain true to his word didn’t let the attack on him go unpunished. Henry didn’t believed for a moment that the always righteous captain Noble gave an order for the man to be beaten from an inch of his life, but certainly overlooked the action of the soldiers seeking justice.
“I’m sorry, Kim.” He apologized when he entered the room to check on the man’s injuries.
“It’s okay, Every, needed to make it look good. This way your men will believe I’ve gone bonkers, and my superiors shall believe I did everything to get the girl. And catching the father certainly will save my hide, and decelerate their pursue for Garrett. I’m certain if I take the father back, he will do his best to steal as much time for his daughter as he can. He will be on board with everything just to save his little girl.
“You’re in no condition to…”do anything he wanted to say, but Kim interrupted him.
“It’s not your place to worry for me. You go and keep the girl safe. And turn a blind eye to anything what did happened to me. Besides, someone’s coming to get me out here. I won’t be here long.”
In that moment a long brown haired man appeared in the cell from thin air, and he turned his concerned gaze at Kim right away.
“What did I tell you about not overdoing things?” He asked with a smirk on his handsome face.
“I didn’t overdo anything. At least nothing a kiss from you wouldn’t cure.” Kim teased.
“Yes you did. Royally. Lucky for you I brought you medicine to get you back on your feet.”
The slender man produced something looking like a syrette from one of his pockets, and held it to Kim’s neck. And pushed it against the bruised flesh. Kim stiffened, but let the other man inject him with whatever is was.
“Okay, half an hour and you’ll be good as new” the man announced.
“Thanks, Louis.” Then he turned to Henry. “How long until the next patrol?”
“About fifteen minutes. Why?”
“Because I need you to go. Tell everyone I was beaten but okay. Let the patrol check on me, so you won’t be suspected with my disappearance. You go too, Louis. Drag me back in a half hour.”
They nodded, and before they went their separate way, Kim whispered words make Henry’s step to falter.
“They are together, you know. Captain Noble and sergeant Bel. This is why I brought them along with you to the cell at the end of times. I had to make sure you would be saved and his suspicions got confirmed. You’ve got new allies, so use this knowledge wisely.”
Henry didn’t turn just nodded barely visible even for Kim. Then left the other man alone in the lockup.
“Piece of cake” Henry muttered to himself while he left the building. “Save the girl save the timeline they said.”