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Chapter 39......... Experiment 27

After Faye had gone to sleep, Silas pulled the blanket over her and pushed the curls out of her face. He sat down against the bars and unbuttoned his shirt. The burns on his chest were a dull fire now, and the drafty air relieved the pain a little. He glanced back at Waters, who was on duty again, and was sitting on the floor playing a card game. He hadn’t looked up once since he arrived.

“Waters?” Silas asked.

Waters cleared his throat and looked up, his face contorted with a torn expression.

“I don’t suppose you have a cigarette?”

Waters relaxed and felt his pocket. “Yeah,” he said, getting up and taking a pack out. He held out a cigarette to Silas and lit it, then lit one for himself.

“Thank you,” Silas said.

Waters frowned and turned to go back to his card game.

“You think I lied to you,” Silas said, taking a draw.

Waters paused and kicked at the dirt floor. “Well… no. No, I don’t.”

Silas looked up at Waters.

“Look, if you planned all this like they said, you’re a complete idiot, and I don’t think you are, Silas.”

Silas let his head fall against the bars and let a breath of smoke out.

“It’s rotten luck,” Waters said, shuffling back to his card game and slouching over it.

Silas brushed off some ash that had fallen on his trousers. “I should have known none of you could be trusted.”

“Why did you come back, then?”

“I didn’t think we had much choice.”

“You’re probably right about that.”

“Why do you work for the Order?”

Waters slapped a card down and shrugged. “It’s a job.”

“You should quit.”

Waters looked up briefly. “Can’t.”

Silas frowned and remembered what his father had said about the Order. That’s once he’d joined as a child, he could never leave. And he’d kept the Order a secret from him so he had a chance to make that choice for himself. And now his father thought he was a liar and anarchist and wouldn’t believe a word he said. And here was Waters, who didn’t even know him, who believed they were innocent, and wasn’t in any position to help them.

“I don’t suppose there’s anything you could do?” Silas asked anyway. “Talk to the council?”

“And tell them what?” Waters asked. “There’s nothing I could say what would convince them. Not that they’d even see me. I’m only at knight… actually, a demoted knight. Back at squire now. Probably will be for the rest of my life.”

“I don’t suppose there’s anything… else you could do?”

Waters looked up. “Are you trying to ask me to break you out of here?”

Silas met his eyes and held them. “Please?”

Waters set the pack of cards down slowly. “You know what would happen. Look, I like you Silas, but I can’t believe you’d ask that of me. I’ve got two little girls. One’s eight, the other’s six. She just lost her first tooth. Do you think I’m

going to put their lives on the line for you? And even if I wanted to help, it’s not going to happen. There are two guards at the foot of the basement stairs, and four or five on the main level. The doors are all locked, and you’ve got nowhere to go. What do you want me to do, eh? Now, I’m sorry, and if there’s anything I could do, believe me, I would. But I’m not your man. You should talk to your father.”

Silas looked back down at the floor. “Sorry.”

Waters picked up the deck and began slapping cards on the ground. “Yeah, me too.”


Silas had fallen asleep by the time the second shift guard came to replace Waters. He packed up his deck of cards and stuffed it in his pocket, swinging his coat over his shoulders and giving a nod to the new guard. He gave one last long look at Silas and frowned, then strode out the door.

It wasn’t his problem, and it was 2 am and he was exhausted. He’d been demoted to guard duty for the next five months and they kept giving him alternating day and night shifts so he never got a real chance to sleep. And depending on Carson’s mood, he might be doing that an extra year if he was lucky, and up to a five if he wasn’t. And he wasn’t the lucky sort. He was the bottom-of-the-barrel, wrong-place-wrong-time sort. He knew it. At least he didn’t have Silas’ luck. Hopefully it wasn’t contagious.

He pushed out through the front doors and onto the street. It was below freezing, and the sky was cloudless. It was hard to see the stars through the smog. He tossed the scarf around his neck and stuffed his hands in his pockets, hunkering down as he paced down the street toward the Order’s bar. Before, they hadn’t been allowed to drink at all. The Order didn’t take kindly to the possibility of some drunk spilling their secrets. Eventually, though, they’d set up an Order-only bar where they could keep civilians away, just in case. It was incredibly popular, and Waters wished they’d hurry up and open another. All he wanted was somewhere to go and get a little peace.

Not that there was much of a party going on at 2 am on Friday morning. There were maybe four or five others there, and they were all there for the same reason as he was, and that reason wasn’t to talk. Oliver was serving. Well, mostly he was just leaning on the bar, and it looked like he was taking a nap. Waters untangled the scarf from around his neck and draped it over his knee as he sat down.

“Evening, Oliver,” he said.

Oliver jolted awake with a snort and painted on a cheerful smile so quickly you’d miss it if you blinked. “Will! Good evening! What can I get for you?”

Waters flicked a coin to him. “Whatever.” He leaned forward and rubbed his hair back as Oliver set a shot of whisky in front of him. Waters stared at it. His eyes were bleary.

“Rough day at the office?” Oliver asked.

“That’s one way of putting it.”

“Carson still not showing any signs of reinstating you?”


“He will,” Oliver gave him a pat on the shoulder. “Don’t worry too much about it.”

Waters downed the shot. He wasn’t worried about that. It was annoying, but nothing to worry about. It’s not as if it hadn’t happened before. Carson was so damn fickle and moody. He wasn’t sure what he was worked up about. It was probably Silas. But there wasn’t anything he could do about that.

It wasn’t right, though. He knew Silas was innocent, and the big wigs knew it, too, from all he could tell. So why condemn innocent people to death on account of an untested experiment? What was that thing anyway? Must be important to get everyone’s knickers in a bunch like that. Still, it was a damn shame about Silas. And he’d liked Silas. He didn’t let his guard down very often, because Fellows were always friendly and charming, and if you took a liking to them, you’d only have to force yourself to kill them later and it would be harder on you.

But with Silas, he’d thought he was safe. Now he was… feeling guilty. That’s what it was, he realized with a wave of confusion. Why the hell should he feel guilty? It was no one’s fault, and there wasn’t anything he could have done differently. He had a job to do, and a family to look out for. What was he supposed to do? Jeopardize everything in a vain attempt to thwart the Sovereign Order’s designs? Ha!

Oliver poured him another and he down it just as quickly. No. He wasn’t going to do it. He wasn’t stupid. Not that stupid, at least. Tomorrow it would all be over, and the quicker he could put it out of his mind, the better.


Faye woke up from a dreamless sleep, crying with only a vague sense of why. Yesterday came flooding back to her, the trial, George and Skander, the Alethia and all she couldn’t remember, and she felt the weight of the world toppled down on top of her. She curled into a ball to cry more quietly. She shouldn’t be crying. She should be finding a solution, or looking for a way to escape, or trying to get the guard to let them talk to… someone. She knew, though, that there really was nothing left to do but cry. They’d exhausted their options. No one was going to help them now.

She heard something shift behind her and she looked over her shoulder. Silas had fallen asleep leaned up against the bars. He couldn’t have slept well. He didn’t look like he’d slept at all. His hair was a tangled mess, there were dark circles under his eyes and bruises from the fight they’d had at Mr. Lawrence’s. She didn’t like seeing him that way. It made her start crying again.

Eventually she saw Skander get up. He paced to the bars and looked at her, but she didn’t know what to say, so they said nothing. Faye sat down next to Silas and leaned on his shoulder. Silas startled awake then put his arm around her, brushing her hair with his fingers. The morning passed by without a word.

Around noon, someone came down with food for them, and the guard handed it to them through the bars. Faye didn’t want to eat. Not at a time like this. She wasn’t sure she’d even be able to. Silas set the tray down on the floor and picked up the bowl of porridge.

“I’m sorry for everything, Faye,” Silas said. “I wish there was something more I could do.”

“You can’t blame yourself for something that’s not your fault. If you’re going to blame anyone, blame your bastard of a father.”

Silas didn’t respond. “You should eat something.”

“I don’t want to,” Faye crossed her arms and looked away. “Damn it all.”

Silas held out a piece of stale bread and she took it from him, biting into it roughly. She felt so sick she had to force herself to chew and swallow. Silas ate the porridge slowly, as if he, too, was forcing himself to eat. She finished half the piece of bread, then tossed it back onto the tray and laid on the cot. Silas was staring at the bowl of porridge with a puzzled expression.

“What?” she asked him.

He put his fingers into the bowl, fished for something, and brought it out. They shared a glance. It was a key.

“Father,” Silas whispered with a shadow of a smile.

He wiped the key clean on his trousers and shifted closer to Faye, looking over his shoulder again at the guard.

“But what are we supposed to do with it?” whispered Faye. “There’s a guard, and others outside and who knows how many upstairs!”

“He might have found a way to distract them, if he went this far…”

“But then how do we know when to act? It could already be too late.”

“One way to find out.”

Faye looked at the guard, who was carving a small block of wood and not paying much attention to them. “What about him?”

Silas stood, and the guard glanced up at him, then looked back down. Silas looked at Skander, who was staring disconsolate into thin air. He waved to get his attention and Skander looked up, his eyes blank.

Silas held up the key slowly while keeping an eye on the guard. Skander’s eyes widened, and Silas hid it in the palm of his hand again. Skander raised his hands and mouthed something that Silas couldn’t understand. He shook his head, then pointed at him and George and the guard. Skander nodded and looked up at the ceiling in thought.

“You there,” he said after a minute to the guard. “We want to talk to someone in charge, so you go find someone.”

The guard didn’t even look up.

“You’re not listening, you… unintelligent… ugly criminal. And you have a ridiculous nose.”

The guard raised an eyebrow and didn’t move.

“Skander, would you stop it?” George sighed, sitting up from where he’d been lying all morning. “If you want to make him mad, you’ve gotta hit where it hurts. You’re embarrassing yourself.”

“George,” Skander said, trying to get him to stop.

“It’s pathetic!”

“You’re pathetic.”

George snorted.

“Quiet, you two,” the guard said.

“There,” George agreed. “You got something out of him. Happy now?”

“No! I want him to go talk to someone in charge or let us out.”

“Well, that’s not going to happen, so you’re just going to sit there and hope you can get even by hurting his feelings? If you’re going to do that, just tell him what an abysmal failure he is, being a low-level Order member who’s been working for them all his life and still a bottom dwelling spineless eel with no prospects, and who lives in a dump and can’t get any woman to stay with him more than a year because he’s so horrifically –”

“Enough!” the guard snapped, taking a step toward them. “I said quiet.”

“Well…” George drawled. “I was only guessing about the woman part. Isn’t that interesting. You just don’t know when to give up on them, either, do you? Luckless and stupid. What a pathetic combination.”

“Shut up!” the guard yelled, walking to the bars and drawing a revolver from his pocket. “Or I’ll make you! They don’t need all of you for their experiment.”

George shrugged. “If it’ll make you feel better about yourself, go ahead, but I can’t imagine how it would. ‘Honey, today I killed a defenseless man in a cell! I’m so brave!’”

The gun cocked. “It’s not as if I’m not allowed to, based on my own discretion. And right now, my discretion is telling me –”

His voice cut out as a chair hit him in the back of the head. He crumpled to the floor and Silas snatched the gun away. George cocked his head.

“Oh, is that what was going on?”

“You were making him angry for fun?” Skander yelled.

“We’re all very upset right now, and I think we should hold off on the accusations until –”

“I agree,” said Silas, rifling through the guard’s pockets and taking out the ring of keys. “We should hurry.”

He unlocked the cells and George stopped to pick up the unconscious guard’s revolver before they hurried through the door to the room of torture equipment.

“We don’t know how many there will be outside,” said Faye. “Take whatever you can find in here. We may need it.”

“And then what?” George asked.

“And then we get out of here,” Faye said, irritably.

“Right. And then?”

“I don’t know, George! What do you want to do? Should we go get pastries?”

George rolled his eyes. “No plan. Alright, that’s fine.”

“Since when are you the one who wants a plan?” Skander rolled his eyes.

“I’m just saying I don’t see this going well. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’d very much like to try. It would be fun to take a few out with us if we’re going to go. Ooo! Big knife!” George picked up a long knife and swung it around.

“No one’s going anywhere,” Faye frowned. “We don’t want to kill anyone. We’re going to get out of here, and we’ll figure out what to do once we’re safe.”

“If you say so. Are we going, or aren’t we?”

Silas unlocked the door and George and Skander yanked it open.

The guards outside gave a surprised yell as they dashed past them and up the stairs. By the time they could draw their guns and fire, they were almost all the way up the stairs. A guard at the top threw the door open and George hit him with the pommel of the long knife as he barreled past him into the corridor, the others close behind.

“Oh, hell,” he said, skidding to a stop. The others ran into him.

The corridor was filled with guards. There must have been eight on duty, and at the commotion, six more came running from the common area.

“Drop the weapons!” one of the guards shouted, drawing a revolver.

“What do we do?” Faye whispered, her throat tight.

“Charge!” George screamed, grinning maniacally.

He ran headfirst, shooting off all the rounds of the revolver, charging into the Order guards. After a moment’s hesitation, Silas, Skander, and Faye followed. They made it as far as the end of the hall before the guards managed to overpower them.

“Four on one? Is that really fair?” George yelled at them as they dragged them back down to the basement. “You know I could take any one of you – even two on one! You know what, let’s try it. Right now! You gaggle of cowards!”

They locked them in the cells again and left four to guard them this time. George shook out his fist and stretched his neck.

Faye sat on the cot and buried her face in her hands. “So much for that,” she mumbled under her breath.

“Thanks,” George said. “That made me feel better.”

“Shut up,” said Skander.

Faye watched Silas collapse onto the floor, leaning his head back against the wall and closing his eyes, his breath shallow.

“I wish you’d go ahead and shoot us already,” George said to the guards. He flopped onto the cot and folded his hands behind his head. “If you’re going to kill us anyway, I’d just as soon you get it over with.”

“You’re needed for the experiment,” said one of the guards, who looked like he was in charge. “But you know, it might not kill you.”

“And I can’t tell you how much that cheers my heart.”

They all went silent. Faye sat down by Silas and buried her head in his shoulder. She didn’t feel like she had any tears left to cry, or words to say, so they sat there together in silence, their fingers intertwined.

“Silas, what happened?” Faye asked after a long time.

“I don’t know. At least he tried.”

“Not your father. Me. What did I forget?”

Silas kissed her. “Nothing worth remembering.”


“Get up,” said the guard, banging a baton against the bars. “It’s time.”

Faye shuddered, feeling sick as she pushed herself to her feet. She rubbed her hands over her now-filthy dress. It was torn and stained and was beginning to smell. She’d been wearing it for days now. Now it looked like she was going to die in it. Silas pushed himself slowly away from the wall and stood with a wince, bending over to catch his breath.

The guards let them out and chained them together in a line. They led them up the stairs, flanked by guards on all sides, and through the common area to the back door where a large black carriage was waiting for them. Faye’s step faltered when she saw it. She felt as if she were standing on the shores of Acheron and the carriage was itself the ferry to hell. In a way, it was. She didn’t want to go. Not yet.

The other’s bumped into her, pushing her forward, and she bit her lip until it bled to keep the tears at bay, climbing into the darkness.

The drive was long. It took almost an hour from where they were. It was impossible to tell where they were going except to know they were headed out of the city, since the noise from outside gradually quieted until all they could hear was wheels on the dirt road and the occasional lowing of a cow.

When the carriage finally stopped and the door swung open to the cold night, there were no buildings at all except the silhouettes of a row of large barns, seemingly placed in the middle of nowhere. They clambered out of the carriage as the guards came out behind them. There were more guards here as well. Five waiting for them, and several more walking out the doors to watch. Probably to catch a glimpse of them, Faye figured grimly. They probably hadn’t had something so exciting happen in a long time. They led them inside and closed the door behind, shutting out the cold. It was warmer and well lit, but it looked nothing like a barn.

The walls were finished and insulated. The edges of the room were filled with desks and bookshelves and long tables littered with vials and powders and metal bits and wires. In the center of the barn was a low dug-out that had been scorched recently. In the center of the scorch marks was a tall, thin pedestal, and at the top of the pedestal stood a completely smooth, ominously dark orb the size of a serving plate.

“Is that…” Faye started.

“It looks like it,” said Skander.

A soulgate. An extremely big one. Faye wondered why it was so large, and what they could possibly be doing with it that would require so much secrecy? Soulgates weren’t anything the Fellowship didn’t already know about.

The guards led them to an unused table on the other side of the room where there was a bench and pointed at it. They sat down and watched as scientists hurried to-and-fro with coils of wires and odd-looking equipment.

“What are they doing?” Faye whispered to Silas.

“Final calibrations,” said a voice behind them.

She gave a start and turned to see a man, likely in his mid-forties and so thin he looked malnourished, walking toward them.

“Have we met?” George asked.

“Afraid so,” the man said with a vacant smile, sitting on the bench at the other side of the table. “You dropped by the other day.”

“At the soulgate downtown,” George nodded. “Thought I recognized you.”

“I’m Victor,” he said. “Victor Kent.”

Skander’s brows furrowed. “You’re the one they were talking about at the trial.”

Victor nodded. “I’m to activate the experiment and oversee its testing with you.”

“They’re making you a lab rat?” George asked. “One of their own?”

“Oh, I’m not Order,” Victor said, chipping the wood on the table with his thumbnail. “I’m Fellowship. Used to be, at least.”

“If you’re Fellowship, do they really trust you with this?” Faye asked, gesturing toward the experiment.

“They trust me pretty well,” Victor smiled, eyes vacant and still chipping at the table. “They keep my family near to them so they can be sure of it.”

“That’s horrible,” Faye shuddered.

Victor shrugged and looked at Silas, studying him a moment. “Are you really Count Lawrence’s son?”

Silas nodded.

“I heard about the sabotage. Shame it didn’t work, but still… incredible. How did you do it?”

Silas sighed and looked up at the ceiling.

“Apologies,” Victor said, raising a hand. “I know you can’t answer that.”

“I really can’t,” Silas said.

Victor turned and watched the scientists at work for a while. The clock ticked on, and no one showed any signs of beginning.

“How would it kill us?” Skander asked finally, his voice wavering. “This soulgate experiment? Is it like a normal soulgate, where you can disintegrate from both planes of existence?”

Victor turned and rubbed his ear. “I suppose that might happen, but I’m told they are fairly confident about the experiment’s viability. If it works as it should, it will be like normal.”

“There’s a chance we will survive this?”

“Of course there is,” Victor coughed. “I have heard it’s been a little unstable the last couple weeks, ever since the explosion, but opening it should balance the gravitational pull. They’ve been working on this for a decade. I imagine it will work fine.”

Skander closed his mouth in a frown.

They waited there for another hour or two. Faye wasn’t sure how much longer she could sit there waiting. It was unbearable, not knowing how much time there was left. Like the ax could fall at any moment. The guards began to grow impatient as well, tapping their feet, or walking up and down the length of the barn.

“Look, is this going to be much longer? Because –” one of them started.

“Yes, yes,” said a scientist holding a device in his hand in the center of the room. “Give us a few more minutes. We’re only making the final calibrations. Unless you’d like to be blown to tiny bits tonight?”

The guard grumbled. “Go on.”

A half an hour later, the head scientist gestured to the guard in charge. “Alright, everything is ready,” he called. “Gavin, go outside and start the motor. Pete, keep an eye on the gravimeter. It goes over forty, shut everything down, alright?” He turned to Victor Kent and beckoned. “You can come on down now.”

The guards pulled them to their feet and shoved them toward the experiment, though they themselves stayed at the top of the stairs, not coming any closer to the soulgate than they needed to. Silas, Faye, George and Skander followed Victor down the stairs and onto the scorched earth. Victor walked to the head scientists and exchanged a few words they couldn’t hear. The scientist frowned and said something, and Victor nodded. The scientist patted Victor’s arm and jogged up the stairs to what looked like the controls of the experiment.

Victor beckoned them closer, pointing to a place near the experiment. It was inside a circle of red paint, and on the ground was a fine mesh of wires.

“Stand here,” he said.

“What do we have to do?” Skander asked.

“Just stand there,” Victor replied. “I’ll do the rest.”

“Last checks,” the head scientist called. “One by one, please.”

The scientists around the room listed off numbers and names that made no sense to any of them. Skander’s eyebrows were scrunched together like he was trying to put together what they were doing, but he looked as confused as the rest of them. When the scientists finished talking, the head scientist looked at Victor and gave him a nod.

“Go ahead, Victor. Good luck.”

Victor gave a hollow smile and turned to glance over his shoulder at them. “Stay right there,” he said. “You move and it could throw the whole process out of balance.”

“At the ready, Victor,” said the head scientist. Victor put his hand on the soulgate and flinched. “Five… four… three… two… one…”

Victor closed his eyes and the whole room burst into white light. Victor gave an involuntary scream, and a second later the wires under their feet pulsed with electricity. Pain shot up through Faye’s entire body, so much worse than it had been even their first time through the soulgate. The pulsing shocks ran through her system and she felt her heart stop. She tried to move, but her feet were rooted to the spot. Her ears were ringing so loud she couldn’t hear or see anything else but the white light and the searing pain. It could have been minutes or hours before she finally felt consciousness slipping away.


Faye woke up gasping for breath, coughing and feeling like she was going to throw up. She was on her back and her head pounded and throbbed as she tried to scramble to her knees, but she got tangled with Silas and George beside her since they were still chained together.

She twisted around quickly and threw up on the floor. The motion jolted the others awake and they started coughing and heaving, too. She felt like everything had been drained away from her. Every muscle was shaking, and she wasn’t even sure she could stand.

“Well, how about that?” George gasped eventually, sitting back on his knees and panting. “We’re alive.”

“Where are we?” Skander asked, looking around.

It was almost completely dark except for some starlight coming through a high window. Someone took in a strangled breath beside them and gave a horrible, dry cough.

“Victor?” Faye asked.

“What?” he answered, still coughing and wheezing. Faye didn’t reply. It took him a long time to catch his breath, and when he did, he was breathing heavily. “We should go,” he said, finally.

“Where are we?” Skander repeated.

Victor got up and pointed above him. They looked up and caught a glint of moonlight shining on something round and shiny. The soulgate.

“We’re still at the experiment?” Skander asked. “It didn’t work?”

“No. It did,” said Victor, coughing again. “Come on.”

“Where are we going?”

Victor started coughing again and didn’t reply, doubled over and trying to catch his breath.

“You alright, there?” George asked.

Victor took a shaky breath and straightened. “I’m fine.”

They got to their feet, trying to support each other and stumbled after Victor as he walked up the stairs of the dug-out and out the door. The whole place seemed to be abandoned. Where had everyone gone? Victor held out his hand as he walked through the door, and his fingers brushed against the doorframe, or rather through the door frame.

“We’re in the non-existent?” Skander asked.

Victor paused, staring at his hand. “I suppose,” he muttered.

“Is that all the experiment was for?” Skander gaped. “Why all the secrecy? Why the false accusations and condemning innocent people? The Fellowship already knows about the soulgates – they were the ones to use them in the first place! Was all of this for –”

“It’s not just a soulgate,” Victor interrupted, weakly.

He started coughing again and they waited while he gasped for breath. The sky was cloudy and snow was drifting down, falling straight through their nonexistent bodies. Victor caught his breath and straightened.

“The experiment,” he waved his hands at the sky. “I thought you knew. It’s not a soulgate, it’s a time machine.”

End of Season One


My dear reader, My deepest gratitude for those who have supported this endeavor. I am frightfully (and I mean that in the fullest extent...

Faye woke up to the sound of marching footsteps. Her whole body tensed as she bolted upright, the blood rushing to her head. Outside the...

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