Chapter 3- Where, or is it When, are We?
When Sarah regained consciousness, she started to wish that she had remained knocked out. At least when she was knocked out, she couldn't remember what had happened. Sean battling and being killed by that beast, and now her and Jack were sent through some weird portal thing. Wait a minute, where was Jack? Sarah jumped up to look around, but Jack was sitting against a tree a few feet away from her.
"You're finally up," Jack said.
"Yeah," Sarah said, rubbing her head. "But where are we?"
"Your guess is as good as mine," Jack answered, walking over to Sarah to help her up. "It looks like a forest, but other than that, I haven't the slightest clue."
"So we're lost, huh." Sarah took Jack's hand and stood up, still in her battle gear stained in Sean's blood.
"Yup." Jack was also still in part of his gear, he had taken off the plating on his arms. His arm was bloody. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," he said, shaking it off.
Sarah said, noticing the bleeding. "You're hurt!" She took a look at the wound to find that there was a small shrapnel of some sort sticking out just below his left shoulder.
"It's not much," Jack said. "With all of the explosions back there, it must have been sent flying into my. I'm lucky, actually. It might have taken my arm off if the armor didn't block it. I took out the big part, but I'm gonna need some surgical equipment to get out the rest of it."
"Then we should try to find out way out of here and get to the nearest dome," Sarah said. "Can't you use a knife to take it out?"
"Yeah," Jack said, flinching as he moved the arm. "But I can wait until we find some modern medical equipment. Shall we?" he said, motioning to the path that hopefully led out of the forest.
"Let's shall," Sarah answered and started walking with Jack following. They walked what seemed like a while, but was actually not even a quarter of a mile. They soon spotted light in the not to far off distance.
"Look!" Jack said, pointing to the light. He and Sarah started to run, only to find not quite what they were looking for.
"This should be an exit," Sarah said, nearing the opening, but then stopped dead in her tracks when she stepped into the light. "What on earth…?" she mumbled as they surveyed the terrain. It looked like a large plain ahead of them with no sign of anything besides a few trees for as long as the eye could see. The sky was rather misty.
"I could have sworn that I had seen most of the world in my jet," Jack started, "but this is not a familiar place." Sarah had turned around to check out the forest that they had just emerged from, only to see a sight that turned her face pale.
"Jack…" she mumbled.
"I just don't get it," Jack continued, "Maybe there's a map somewhere in this suit."
"Jack…" she said again.
"No, no luck," he said as he fumbled through some compartments on the battle gear. "Maybe a holographic projection switch…"
"Jack!" she screamed this time. He turned and went pale just like her.
"That's…" he started.
"Ancient Guardia Castle," she finished the sentence for him. Both of them stared at the massive castle on top of a hill on the other side of the woods that they had exited. The red flags were waving in the wind.
"Sarah," Jack started to say, "either someone is playing a really big joke on us," he paused for dramatic effect. "Or we just traveled back in time."
"Don't be stupid," Sarah said. "You know time travel isn't actually possible by laws of nature Mr. Genius! I thought you would know more than me that time travel just isn't a feasible explanation."
"Actually," Jack said, "it was rumored that SSAF had a black-op in the works that was based on the notes of a scientist from around 1000ad."
"Yeah. A top secret project in which a budget is secretly given to and the big wigs as SSAF deny all knowledge of it. Anyway, these confiscated memoirs or something were laughed at, at first anyway. Upon further inspection though, some scientists found some truth behind it and hypothesized that some of the theories could work. They never actually got anywhere with it, from what I heard, but I do believe that it was confirmed that the theories were sound."
"You've got to be kidding me!" Sarah didn't want to believe it. Time travel was still not a valid explanation as far as Sarah was concerned.
"No, it's possible. Normally I would be thrilled that we were the first people ever to travel through time, but I'm not in the mood to be happy about anything."
"I guess we should find a town," Sarah said. "We need to get that thing out of your shoulder before it gets infected, but I think you can say goodbye to your modern surgical equipment."
"Maybe I should just take it out with my knife," Jack said bitterly as they started to walk. "If my history is what it should be, the town of Truce is due east of here." The two of them walked for two or three hours until they finally ran into Truce. The town itself was in the middle of a frenzy. At first the two time travelers thought that there was a problem, but they soon realized that the people were celebrating over something. It looked like the entire town was having a party. Sarah stopped to question one of the citizens.
"Excuse me," she said as she tapped an elderly man on the shoulder. "What's going on here?"
"You don't know?" the man said. "They just found Queen Leene wandering in Truce Canyon. She's been missing you know. They found her about three hours ago."
"Queen Leene?" Jack said, a little caught off guard by the name.
"Yeah," the old man said, "you know any other queens?"
"Oh, no." Jack was happy because at least he had a clue as to when they were. "Thanks a lot." The old man turned away and walked off, probably to go get drunk.
"What's the big deal about Queen Leene?" Sarah asked Jack after the old man left.
"Well," Jack started, "Now I can say with confidence that we are somewhere around the year 600ad."
"How do you know that," she asked as they started walking through the town.
"That's when Leene was the queen." Jack was pleased that all that study about ancient governments and rulers actually came in useful for something. "Now, the next order of business, let's try to find a medical person of some type." They set off looking until they found a building with a sign with the word 'doctor' hanging over the door. They went in and were a little shocked to see that the doctor's office was little more than a front room with a desk and a door that must have led to the operation room. There were chairs lining the front room, there were no people in them though.
Jack walked across the room and knocked on the closed door, but didn't get an answer so he slowly opened the door to be met by an awful scream that filled the room. He opened up the door to find the doctor standing above a patient who he in the middle of cutting open.
"Oh no, he's a bleeder," the middle aged doctor signed. He turned to Jack. "No people in this room during operations," he said calmly. "Please leave."
"Um," Jack went pale at the thought that this guy would be doing anything to him so he decided to take different measures. "Could I have some rubbing alcohol and some cotton swaps and then I'll be out of here," he said, figuring that operating on himself would be safer.
The doctor walked over to a shelf in the room, his patient still screaming and spurting blood from his chest. He grabbed a bottle of some sort and opened it up. "This should do for the alcohol," he took of swig from the bottle before closing it up and tossing it to Jack, "but what's a cotton swab?"
"Uh, never mind," Jack said, leaving the operating room with the bottle in this hand.
"Well?" Sarah asked when he got outside. "What happened, did you chicken out, or was he busy?"
"I'm gonna take the thing out by myself," Jack said, holding up the bottle. "I have more medical knowledge then the guy in there calling himself a doctor. Let's just say that modern medical technology has spoiled me a little."
"Whatever you say, Dr. McKlane," she said bluntly. "Let's just find a hotel, er, uhh, an inn to rest for the night. Anyway, we should probably get rid of these battle suits, people are looking at us weird."
"Good idea," Jack said, starting to walk. Sarah picked up after him. "So then what?"
"You're asking me?"
"Well I'm clueless," Jack said with a shrug. "I guess a good nights rest wouldn't hurt but," he paused.
"Never mind," he said. They walked down the streets of town until they found an inn. While the accommodations weren't what they were used to, Jack and Sarah rented a room for the night. They went upstairs and into their room. Jack walked over to sit down on the bed. He started to remove the battle suit and Sarah began to do the same. As the multiple layers of battle gear hit the floor, the two striped down to whatever they were wearing underneath. They both had SSAF army fatigue pants, white tank tops and black combat vests (Sean had made them change out of civilian clothes before going into SSAF HQ). Jack then whipped out the bottle of alcohol and a combat knife.
"Your just gonna cut yourself open and take it out?" Sarah asked, she didn't like the idea, but she knew that he was out of options.
"That's the plan," he said, pouring some of the liquid on the wound and cringing as it bubbled. He poured some on the blade as well and then made a small cut around the wound. He bled a little, but soon he worked the shard out of his muscle. He gave a sigh of relief.
"What are you so relieved about?" Sarah asked, a little grossed out by the situation.
"It didn't get lodged in the bone," Jack said. "If that happened, it would have been more of a problem." He poured more alcohol over the cut to attempt at cleaning it, but it probably wouldn't get too clean. "You have a bandage or something in your vest?" he asked Sarah, indicating to the many pockets on the combat vest. Sarah fished through some of the pockets in the vest and on her pants too. She reached into a pocket on her pants leg and made a funny face.
"What is it?" Jack asked.
"Look what I found," she answered, producing a box and tossing it to Jack. He opened it and found a complete first-aid kit.
"Well will you look at that," Jack grunted. He I am playing tough guy with this whisky and I've got cleansing spray right here, he thought to himself. He took out a can a sprayed some white stuff on the opening. After it stopped foaming, he applied a bandage and tossed the kit back to Sarah. "You can hold on to it," he said, finishing putting on the bandage.
"You okay now?" she asked, putting the kit back in it's pocket.
"Yeah, I'll survive," Jack said. "All I want to do now is sleep though. It's been a long day."
"I'm game for that," Sarah said, taking off her vest and tossing it on a chair. She walked over to her bed and lay down. Jack took the bed next to hers. "Sleep well," she said after blowing out the candle on the nightstand, but he was already asleep.
Jack awoke the next morning to find Sarah already up and worrying about where she could go to take a bath.
"Well, It's unsanitary if we can't find somewhere to clean off," she with her hands across her chest. "You can't tell me that you think these people don't shower, can you?"
"Sarah," Jack pleaded with little hope for success. "It's the year 600, I don't think they have showers or baths yet. We have more important things to worry about anyway."
"That can wait until we find a bath house or something," she said. "So let's get going."
"What are the chances that your gonna listen to me and think logically?" Jack asked, putting on his vest and grabbing some stuff he took out of his pockets and replacing them.
"I am thinking logically," she shot back, "you're just being stubborn."
"Whatever," he said. "But what are we gonna do about the battle gear?"
"Should we hide them somewhere?" she suggested.
"Yeah, it would be kind of unpractical to carry it around with us. But, who can we trust to keep it?"
"Jack," she said. "You weren't listening, were you?"
"Huh?" Jack put the equipment he was holding down on the bed.
"We can hide it somewhere. Pick that stuff back up and let's go." They both carried their battle gear downstairs and out of the inn. Sarah walked around like she knew where she was going, Jack tried to follow with what limited visibility he had through the pile of stuff in his arms.
"Jack, your gonna knock someone over like that!" Sarah scolded him.
"Well I'm sorry, but if you hadn't left me to carry half of your gear too, then maybe I'd be able to see," Just as he finished, he walked into someone and the two of them fell down, battle gear and all. Sarah just giggled at the whole affair.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Jack said, standing and going to help the young lady that he had just knocked over. While Jack felt sorry, all he could think about though was how peculiar this girl looked. She was dressed in clothes that didn't resemble those of the other towns folk, and she was wearing a helmet with some sort of antenna sticking out of it. "Are you okay," he asked the puzzled girl as she fixed her large glasses.
"Yeah, I'm okay," she stood up by herself. "But maybe you can help me. I'm looking for this guy, he's about your height," she pointed to Jack. "He's got really wild red hair and he's wearing a blue karate gi over his brown shirt. Have you seen him?"
"No," Jack said, "I can't say that I have. I'll bet that you're not from around here either though, are you?" Jack started to gather some of the dropped battle gear.
"Actually, I'm from the year 1000ad and I traveled here by controlling a gate that was created by…hey! Wait a minute! Why am I telling you this?"
"Did you say you came by traveling through time?" Jack and Sarah asked at the same time, nearly dropping their gear.
"I bet you think I'm crazy, huh?" the girl said. "Well, thanks anyway." The girl then ran off before Jack could stop her.
"Wait!" he screamed, but she didn't here him and kept on running. He turned to Sarah. "Did you hear all that?!" he exclaimed.
"Yeah," she said. "But it didn't make much sense. What good could she do us?"
"Don't you get it!" Jack tried not to get too excited. "That had to be her! That scientist from around 1000ad that had notes about time travel! What are the chances that we actually ran into her! If there is a god, he must be smiling on us now! She can help us! I think her name was…oh, who cares, we gotta follow her!"
"Two things Jack. First, if there is a god, not only is she a female, not a male, but if she was smiling on us, then we wouldn't even be in this whole mess. Second, what about the battle gear?" Jack stopped rambling on and calmed down.
"We'll have to carry it until we can find a safe place to hide it. For now, let's just head in the direction that the girl went." Jack gathered the rest of the gear and took the lead. Sarah followed him, upset that she had to carry the battle gear. They continued walking until they came across a river on the outskirts of the town. In hope that it would be there when the two returned, Jack and Sarah hid their battle gear near the bank of the river. They continued walking west, tracking the girls foot prints, until they came once again to Guardia forest. The sun was getting high in the sky and the heat was pelting down on them so both Jack and Sarah were relieved at the thought of walking in the shade.
The forest was very cool to the travelers' delight. The sun broke through the canopy in many places, creating little beams of light piecing through the roof. It was in this feeling of relaxation that Jack and Sarah were having, that Jack realized they had lost the tracks.
"Crap," Jack muttered, stopping in his tracks.
"What?" Sarah asked. "What happened?"
"We lost the tracks," he said angrily.
"You're going to loose more than that!" came a sudden voice from behind them. Jack and Sarah both spun around and fired up their TAGs to be met by someone who appeared to be a knight. He was about six feet tall, taller than Jack, wearing full upper torso armor but no armor on his legs. He wielded a giant broad sword, which he was leaning on. It was at least six inches wide and the hilt was just below his shoulder. Spiky jet-black hair topped his un-helmeted head. Jack and Sarah positioned their weapons in a defensive stance.
"Okay Sir Wacko, what do you want?" Jack said casually.
"Do you mean to tell me you are unaware that you are walking through royal property?" the knight asked.
"We didn't mean any harm," Sarah said. "We were just…"
"Going to assassinate the King!" the knight finished her sentence. He jumped into a fighting position. "So you're the assassins sent by the evil Magus!"
"Evil Magus? Assassinate the King?!" Jack was insulted at such faulty accusations. "For one thing, I don't even know what a Magus is and for another thing, what makes you think you can go around pointing that thing at random people," Jack pointed at the giant sword.
"So you are saying that you aren't assassins?" The knight seemed to be calming down.
"Look," Jack said. "If we were assassins, wouldn't we have already tried to kill you to prevent you from warning the King?"
"I believe that you may be correct," he began. "But why are you in this forest?"
"We were following a girl that might help us get home," Sarah said, turning off her TAG.
"Get home?" the knight questioned. "Where do you live?"
"I don't think that you would believe us if we told you," Jack said. "But I'll give it a try." Jack told the knight about what had happened to them and Sean and the monster. How they had ended up here and were looking for this girl that might be able to help the get home.
"I see," the knight said. "It is true that you don't look much like Mystics and that doesn't sound like an easy story to just make up." He paused for a moment before slinging his sword over his shoulder. "My duty is now clear. In order to uphold my sworn duty to the chivalric code, I shall help you two weary travelers return to your home!"
"Look buddy, we don't need help, we just want you to…" Jack said, but he was soon cut off again by the knight.
"It's no use fighting it. This is a deed that I must do. And besides, I can't possibly leave such a fair maiden in the responsibility of child. My name is Aragorn, former Knight of the Knights of the Square Table."
"What was that last thing!? You calling me a child!?" Jack reached for his TAG and turned it on.
"Jack, relax!" Sarah said, putting her hand on Jack's shoulder. "He's sort of like a lost puppy isn't he?" Sarah whispered to Jack.
"Do we really want him tagging along?" Jack whispered back.
"Who are we to decline help that's offered to us. Besides, he probably knows this land and might be of some help," she whispered.
"So now what?" Jack said, speaking to everyone now.
"Well, that girl might be in and out of the castle at this point, taking a different route on the way out, being that we didn't see her," Sarah pointed out.
"I guess we could go back to truce and see what Inn she's registered at, she has to go back there eventually," Jack said.
"This girl that you're looking for," Aragorn said. "Does she have purple hair and a helmet with a wire coming out of the top?"
"You've seen her?!" Jack and Sarah exclaimed at once.
"Yes," Aragorn said. "I thought she was lost and I offered to walk her home. I believe she said her name was Lucca, and that she was staying in the Shanghai Inn."
"Wait a minute. So you attacked us, suspecting that we were assassins, but you go to help her because she looked like she was lost?" Sarah looked pretty angry."It doesn't matter now," Jack said to Sarah. He turned to Aragorn. "Looks like your already proving yourself useful. Aragorn, Welcome aboard!" Jack said excitedly. "Now let's go find that girl." Jack started walking back towards the entrance of the forest with Sarah and Aragorn following. Soon after, the eyes that had watched the entire conversation slipped deep into the forest, going to report back to his master.
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