The CRASH Team had long since departed through the gate, to return to their own place; their own time. There had been argument of course. Talk that ‘there was still a place for him,’ ‘his skills, abilities and knowledge would be needed still,’ and ‘You’re one of us, we won’t leave you here.’ Nicodemus still refused. He cited the fact that one would have to remain on this side of the gate to turn it off, to ensure that the link between Space and Time was properly severed. This was a lie of course. Despite the flaws and arrogance of the Atlantean people, the Gates were not crafted in such a haphazard manner, deactivating one gate would be sufficient to sever any linkage.
The man who called himself Nicodemus Tsanthos, and countless other names over his lifetime of fifteen thousand years, sat down on the onyx staircase that lead from the deactivated gateway. His hands interlaced, resting on the head of the staff he always carried with him. He sighed softly to himself; he had lied to the CRASH Team yet again. They had thought that they were actually on Atlantis during the final confrontation. While it was not a complete lie, it was more of a half-truth.
Instead of Atlantis, they had battled deep within the bowels of The Black Library, the vast repository of knowledge stretching back to a time when ‘magic’ was not an arcane mixture of formulae and gestures, but rather Words. A time that would be inscribed in history as mere myth and legend and the stuff of fantasy and fairy tales. The half truth was that while The Black Library was part of Atlantis, it was also separate. It had no physical location that one could find on a map. Only those that knew the ancient secrets or had access to the gateways could ever hope to gain entrance.
On reflection, Nicodemus found that the decision to stay was an easy one. When he realized his true location, and that the Fall had not yet occurred, he knew that he could end his herculean quest before it began. He may not be able to stop the sinking of Atlantis, but he could save the Black Library, he could keep those dark secrets where they belonged and ensure their safety for the rest of time…
…Alone. All alone. There was nobody else here, only himself, the ruined Destiny Engine and the limitless library of knowledge. Even the voices, the Whispers from the Darkness, left him in this terrible peace. For fifteen thousand years, he struggled to complete the quest to recover that what was lost, to prevent history from history from repeating itself. To correct a grievous mistake. And he succeeded. He had never thought of what he should do after he had reached this point, perhaps he felt that he never would achieve his goals? And yet he had done just that. Was it enough though? Was there nothing else from here?
Nicodemus looked at his pocket watch and watched the seconds tick by at their agonizingly slow, implacable pace. The voices had long since stopped telling him of the futures that could be or may have been. He was finally at a loss of what to do. “Is this the end? Do I sit here for the rest of eternity alone?” he mused to himself almost bitterly.
He had done so much, and yet the victory seemed hollow and empty. It was as if there was something left undone, some piece of the puzzle that had yet to be put into place. Perhaps more could be done. Did he have to stop with preserving the knowledge of his people? To save everyone would be hopeless, but he could save a few, just enough to ensure the survival of his race. Nicodemus looked at his watch as the long, ornate hand on the face ticked off yet another second.
“…of course not! There is still time!”
Nicodemus stood suddenly and ran to the remains of the Destiny Engine. The device would never work again, not as it was originally intended. But that did not mean that the focusing crystals and ancient glyphs could not be rearranged to serve another purpose, that the energies of Chaos that existed between reality that was the source of all creation and destruction could not be harnessed and put to use. It would take work, and it seemed again that while it was time that alerted him to the possibility, it was not necessarily an ally.
When it was all said and done, Nicodemus looked upon his handiwork. He knew that it would only work once, that even this attempt was a risk that could quite simply ensure his quest was complete by sheer fact that The Black Library and its entire contents would be returned to the Chaos that all reality was spawned from and would eventually return.
As Nicodemus activated the remnants of the Engine, the gateway flared to life once more. On the other side, instead of seeing a glimpse of the destination, there was only a twisted whirling morass of green and purple light and swirling energy. He stepped towards the gateway and tried to look past the past the gateway into the beyond. If it is truly within my power to alter and influence destiny, even by just a mere fraction, then let my influence be a means that my people can be saved. At that, he stepped through the rift…
* * * * *
“Not exactly as planned” Nicodemus remarked bitterly to himself as he looked at the burnt out husk and scattered debris that was the Destiny Engine.
“Perhaps not, but close enough, yes?” Eowyn replied as she slid her arm around Nicodemus’ side and rested her head on his shoulder.
“I had hoped to do more Eowyn. My intent was to save as many as I could… I wanted to do more.”
“And you did Nicodemus. You have done more than what anyone could have asked.” She replied.
“But there was still so much mo— ”
Eowyn placed a slender fingertip over Nicodemus’ lips, silencing him. “It was Atlantis’ destiny to be destroyed and the destiny of its people to die out and fall to obscurity Nicodemus. You could not have changed that, no matter what. But you managed to save some of us at least. We have a second chance now thanks to you.”
Nicodemus looked at Eowyn from the corner of his eye. “You’re right I guess.” He replied with a hint of resignation in his voice. “But the important thing though, is that I have you. Everything else is simply an added bonus.” He added as he moved his own arm around Eowyn’s waist and hugged her close.
She smiled at that and stood in silence for a moment. “So, will you go back?”
He shrugged his shoulders slightly and fished out his pocket watch with his free hand and checked the time. “Perhaps. When we catch up to them I think we can arrange for a visit.” He put the pocket watch away and turned in her arms. “But for right now, you and I have a lot of catching up to do.”