In 1964, John Bell came up with a way of testing whether quantum theory was a true reflection of reality. In 1982, the results came in – and the world has never been the same since!
"He's here," whispered Mikhail from the door.
And once again I was at the Institute, surrounded by all the new recruits who had been brought over to Eiger overnight. An unpleasant bunch to behold, malnourished, weak and terrified as Ruzakov would call them in the following months. Among the tired faces, the result of the difficult climb of the mountain, I can still remember that pair of amber eyes looking at us with a certain suspicion and also curiosity.
"And he is not alone," continued Mikhail. “I counted twelve long coats with him. All armed.”
"I'm going to need a little more time," I said back to him, trying to stay focused.
Locating the control room had not been easy, and disabling the Machine certainly added the mission to its own degree of complexity. And Mikhail had been one of the last recruits to join the organization. He was known from his lack patience. He had been the last to be trained by Ruzakov himself, before...
“If I can get the reactor to overload...”
The hexagonal cubicle that was the control room was summed up in a tempered glass room, with a leather chair, a control panel, full of buttons and levers and of course a single lock for a single Zelim key, which was nowhere to be found.
A few meters below, a gala dinner was taking place. Best quality food and drink at the Dawson home. Many of the most renowned members of the Order were there, including the Prime Minister and him.
“Someone is coming!” whispered Mikhail from the door, the gun released from its holster.
The sound of footsteps came from a distance only to be silenced seconds later. Certainly a servant making sure that no one unwanted was upstairs.
On the other side of the tempered glass, the reactor began to show its first signs of irregularity. The mission was simple enough, to infiltrate one of the Order's headquarters, which we achieved without too many problems, as Dawson's daughters liked to show anyone how much their father had managed to rise in life - and destroy the Machine - no matter how many there were. If Anne were here, she would certainly agree with me; the plan would not end the enemy, it would only delay them.
Waite, Croft and Barrett? Don't make me separate the three of you again. Focus!
“I'll take a look ahead!” exclaimed Mikhail. “Be quick.”
The adjoining room where the reactor was located, the Kepler tube and a platform were illuminated by a red light. The failure would prevent the quark and antiquark pairs from mixing, preventing the formation of mesons; the rest, if I could clearly recall Madame Hess's classes at the Institute, would put an end to the Machine bearing the name of Ruzakov and the Order's plans for the time being.
After the fall of the Institute, the Order took over. In the next five years they enforced travel laws, only the highest ranking member of the Order was allowed to cross - and what had previously only been used for academic purposes was now used as a weapon to control and coerce. Now the Order was everywhere, since the Machine not only opened passages between the worlds, but if the necessary energy could be directed with less power, it would open to different places within this one, thus enabling it to send its agents to any part of the world. And to think that five years ago a person like Dato Dawson saw no use in having a Ruzakov Machine.
“Hello, Des” hearing that voice again was what caught me off guard.
Even though the corridor was shrouded in shadows, I could still see the amber eyes glowing in the dark, like two flames burning.
“I suppose you didn't receive a proper invitation to be here tonight. And knowing the ridiculous Mr. Dawson's well enough, I doubt he invited you.” he said, walking into the room.
Before I could even think, I removed the gun, the expression on his face was almost comical.
“Don't be pathetic, Des. We both know that you are not going to shoot me.”
“Is that so?”
For a moment those eyes studied me, for the first time pondering the odds.
"No," he replied.
“I thought you were dead.” I said. “I thought...”
“That I was being tortured? No, Des.”
Waite, Croft and Barrett? Don't make me separate the three of you again.
“You killed Ruzakov. I saw the recording. Do not move.”
“He was a good teacher. But there comes a time when the apprentice overtakes the master. The Order teaches us these things.”
“The same way they taught Anne?” even the mention of her name was painful for me. “When they invaded the Institute and I found out that you killed Ruzakov, I thought...”
“That I killed her too?” he heard the hate in my voice. “No, Des, I didn't kill her. I never would have done that.”
Perhaps that doubt had been buried inside me for so long that at that moment when it left my lips, I felt my eyes water for the first time. And I felt his hands, at that moment there was no more weapon.
“Waite, Croft and Barrett forever, remember? Things used to be so simple.” He whispered, his head on my chest. How I wanted time to stop, the red light of the reactor to be silent, and the seconds later cease to exist.
A horn started to sound. The building briefly jerked.
“I'll give you five minutes. Go.”
I couldn't look back, that moment had passed and we both knew it, now we were enemies. When I finally reported what happened to my superiors, I would omit that meeting. Maybe one day I would have the courage to put a bullet in his head.