Thursday, February 15, 2007

Chapter Four: The Returners

Anti-government group strikes again; officials baffled

Edenmore Sector, January 16- The anti-government terrorist group known only as "The Returners" has made yet another shocking assault on Republic property. Following November's embassy strike in Lancastle Sector, the new target has been identified as a military testing site. Recently, this site took part in a government space program that drew harsh but quickly-muted criticism from sources outside the Republic. While the site was not completely compromised, there are reports of several dozen casualties.

After almost a year of violent disturbances perpetrated by The Returners, the Republic's Office of Mainland Security has issued the following statement:

"This series of attacks will come to an end. We are close to identifying the leader's of this terrorist organization, and when we do, they will be executed without mercy. The Imperial Republic will not tolerate internal insubordination of any kind, and any deviations from this policy will be met with swift, merciless justice."

In keeping with what has become tradition in these events, The Returners' only message left at the scene of the attack was transmitted through a holographic projection system. Unfortunately, according to government policy, the contents of these projectors has not been made available to the media. A Republic spokesperson has continually stated that releasing the messages to the public would not only "embolden the terrorists," but also hinder further investigation into the now-famous group.

The Register will update you on this story as more information becomes available.


"The more you learn, the less you know."

Allyson muttered to herself softly in the diminished light of her hospital room. Over the past week, she had been able to slowly make her way through half of the Gladefall Register that was given to her by the man in the shadows. Since his visit the week before, Allyson had not heard anything from the mysterious figure, and had taken it upon herself to try to discover more of the realities of her current situation. More pieces of the puzzle of her life had been unearthed, but none of it made any sense to her. In the bleak, unmoving shadows of her room, Allyson went over the bits and pieces of her life that were floating around in her head.

"O.K., here goes: my name is Allyson Rhodes. I'm 22 ... er, 23 now I guess. I'm from Lancastle Sector, though I can't exactly remember where. Something has happened to me, and I was found near dead and brought here. But I don't know who brought me here. And the people here think I'm crazy for thinking all of this. But this newspaper confirms that my "dreams" haven't been dreams at all. I'm here. It's got to be ... March 30th or so. I've been in and out of consciousness for over a year. I'm in a hospital room on the tenth floor of a building in Montgomery Sector, in the ... Twelfth Precinct. The "Inn," I think it's called. Montgomery Sector ... which, unless it's moved somehow, is a little over four hours away from Lancastle."

Allyson stopped suddenly. A thought came to her from somewhere inside her mind - she couldn't quite put her finger on it, but it was coming fast. And then she realized it.

"Montgomery Sector is supposed to be completely destroyed. There was nothing left after the ... what happened to it? I can't remember anymore. I know I can't be there, though. Can I?" Allyson cursed under her breath, realizing that another piece had dropped into her lap.

"No, I can't do that one now. Let's just get the rest of this out and onto the table. According to the article about me, I'm supposed to be this government official. But I can't verify it because I can't see this "serial number" on my foot from here. And everyone tells me it's not there. But, then again, everyone here thinks I'm nuts - everyone, except Archer. James Archer. He's the one that tried to orient me that first day that I can remember. Since then, he hasn't been alone with me, and when he's here with the nurses and the shrinks, he acts completely different. I wonder - is he trying to help me? Is he not from here? No, he has to be. I'll have to try to get more out of him if I can. I just don't know how. And who was the man in the shadows? All I know about him is that he said I need this newspaper and I need to stay where I am. But how am I going to figure out things in this hospital bed?" The weight and breadth of these confusing facts and questions were beginning to take their toll on Allyson. Taking a deep breath, she tried to calm herself into sleep for the night.

"I'll have to pick this up tomorrow night - there won't be time for sleep otherwi.."

Before she could finish her thought, Allyson heard a sharp, high-pitched alarm sounding through the hall. The pattering of feet could be heard getting louder and louder - voices following the feet. Allyson could only hear bits and pieces of speech over the loud alarm.

"... They're here ... close her door ... Returners ..."

Suddenly, a woman Allyson recognized as Nurse Daniels appeared in the doorway - before she could ask what was going on, the nurse quickly closed the door. Allyson could hear the door's locking mechanism activate. Sitting up in the pitch black of the room, Allyson could still hear voices, a familiar voice present now. It was James Archer, and he sounded alarmed. His voice was getting closer, and more frantic. Then all sound stopped.

Allyson could only hear one set of footsteps moving closer to her room. Then she could hear a lone voice. It was a man. He began to converse with Archer.

"Where is she? Here?"

"No, she's not here, she ... she's on floor six."

"You're lying Archer. You can't keep her from us."

"Listen to me, Dorian. She's delusional. She doesn't even remember who she is. You can't see her now - it's too dangerous."

"Bull-shit! You're a liar, Archer - a government slug who's beginning to lose his usefulness. You and your people have been lucky to remain active in this ... "sector." Don't lose the trust of The Returners."

"Yes ... sir. Nurses, please evacuate the staff from this floor."

"Yes, Dr. Archer." More footsteps, then many more, getting fainter and fainter. When it was silent again outside, Allyson could hear the two men talking very quietly.

"So, James, you said she's finally awake? For good?"

"I think so, Dorian. Unfortunately, I've had to keep her drugged in accordance with hospital regulations. Every one's been trying to convince her that's insane. I don't know how well it's working, but she needs help. More help than I can give her here. What are we going to do?"

"I'm not sure, James. But we need to talk with her. Come on, let's get in there."

Allyson couldn't believe her ears. There was too much now - The Returners were here? She didn't know why she was so afraid of that fact, but she felt herself going faint.

Just then, the locking mechanism on the door deactivated. Swinging open slowly, Allyson could barely make out two men standing in the doorway.

"Allyson? Allyson, please wake up. There's someone here to see you. We need to talk."

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