The Veritas League and the Quest for the Tome of Tangiers: Out Of Time

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    {From the personal journal of Professor. Angelus P. Fumolatro}

    26th February 1899.

    It has been four years to the day since all the members of the Veritas League died in the explosion of the Hoever-Carriage in the desert outside Volubilis. I alone was spared that end by chance and by my own weakness having been thrown from the carriage only seconds before.

    Ironic it is that on this day I make my last entry here. For me, the future ends today, just as it ended for my six closest friends. Only the past exists now and if, by the grace of God, should I succeed in my efforts, the past too shall cease to be.

    Never have I disclosed to anyone what I found in the desert, nor will I tell it here. Only to one person shall even a hint of my discovery and subsequent mission be told; The man by whom my mission is made possible, Professor Fate. I have just now completed for him a letter in which I set down my plan and my reasons. He deserves to know.

    Should it be a failure, I alone will suffer the consequences.
    Should I succeed, one life will be lost so that SEVEN may be spared.

    Let it be known, I acted alone and of my own free will.

    May God have mercy on my soul.

    * * * *

    {Letter from Angelus P. Fumolatro to Professor Wilfred Singleton Fate}

    Professor Fate,

    It is with a heavy heart I write this letter to bring an end to my time in your employ and to make a most serious confession. I have stolen your time machine.

    I neither expect nor deserve forgiveness for my actions. Please know that for having willfully deceived you, I am deeply ashamed. I want you to know also what I have done was not for profit; not in the monetary sense at any rate, but there is a reason. It is my hope that upon hearing the truth of my situation, my history, that you will come to understand the unfortunate necessity of this act.

    To begin with, although I applied to you under the name of Angus McGinty, former librarian from the University of Edinburgh, and despite your idiosyncratic insistence on calling me "Gibbs", my real name is Professor Angelus P. Fumolatro. I am the last surviving member of a League of like minded individuals who fought to protect the world from the misuse of scientific discoveries, and to defend the truth.

    Four years ago on this very day my companions and I were in a race for our lives in the North African Sahara. We were fleeing the ancient ruins of Volubilis in our Hoever-Carriage to escape a great explosion to be caused by a device of my own design. Seconds before the device was to detonate I fell from our moving craft but it, and it's crew, continued on. When my device detonated the shock threw me nearly 100 meters down a sand dune knocking me unconscious. I awoke hours later nearly buried in the sand. My goggles had fractured on impact and driven a small shard of glass into my eye. Unable to remove it, I improvised a patch and went in search of the others.

    To my horror I discovered the scattered wreckage of our craft and among it, the mangled bodies of my dearest friends.

    For the first few hours I only stood in shock. Stunned beyond my ability to grieve, I labored to understand what had happened. Before darkness fell, I gathered the bodies and knowing I could never transport their remains from the desert, collected personal effects from each of them including locks of hair to be given to their families. I dug six graves that night and buried the finest group of people it had ever been my great privilege to have known.

    The next morning I scavenged provisions and equipment from the wreckage for my trek out of the desert. While moving amongst the debris I began to notice a pattern. Based on my knowledge of the structure of the vessel I started to piece together in my mind a visual representation of what had happened. Soon I realized the scatter pattern of the materials could only have been caused by an explosion from WITHIN the ship.

    My first assumption was the boiler must have failed but it was not long after I realized the nexus of the explosion was higher up - from a point at which nothing mechanical or chemical on board could have generated such a force. Then I knew we had been sabotaged and the one person to blame was... myself.

    While I was not the one who planted an explosive on the ship, it is my fault the others became its victims. The only individual who would do such a thing, and who had both the knowledge and opportunity was a woman named Belladonna Acconite. She had briefly been our prisoner before we fled the ancient city. There can be no doubt she escaped her captivity and planted a bomb while we were constructing our device. I knew she had escaped but in my haste to flee the ruins I failed to mention it to the others. Had I been less rash, had a shown more sense and more patience we no doubt would have searched the ship and discovered her evil work and all my friends will still be in this world.

    After nearly a day of piecing together parts of this ship I determined the exact location of where her bomb must have been planted. I made careful notes in my pocket journal if only for the purpose of presenting it in evidence against her should she ever again be caught.

    That evening I started walking.

    For more than a week I marched through the desert each night. In the day I vainly attempted sleep only to find each time my eyes closed all I could see were the six corpses of my fallen friends. On the evening of the ninth day I staggered, half mad and nearly starved into the outskirts of wretched town called Col du Zeggota.

    With the help of the local French Consul, medical attention came but too late. I had lost my eye. When I was well enough to travel transportation home was arranged. But before my arrival, word of my survival and the success of our mission (the destruction of a certain dangerous artifact) somehow reached the ears of my enemy. In retaliation, the man known then only as "The Gearmaster" murdered my entire family.

    The devastation upon my life was complete.
    There was only one course open to me.

    I tracked him relentlessly for nearly a year. The discovery of his true identity and his subsequent capture was perhaps my greatest personal success. But it meant nothing without my family and friends.

    Then I heard rumors of your work. Admitedly, at first I thought you a madman. But the possibility, the most remote chance that you might succeed, sparked in me the idea which as brought us to this point.

    I applied to you under false identity for fear you might have heard of my exploits. I used all the remaining resources of the League at my disposal to allow you to continue your work. You see Sir, I am not only your humble assistant but also the anonymous benefactor that has been funding your research.

    As you know it has been nearly three years since I joined you. At times when our frustrations were high I had considered giving up, but when each night I would close my eyes and once again see the dead faces of my crew-mates, I knew I must remain calm and carry on. When our efforts at long last achieved success, I began finalizing the plan that culminated this evening... with the theft of the time machine.

    It is my intention to use the device to return to past moments before the destruction of the Hoever-Carriage, find the bomb and remove it from the ship.

    As you know I am quite capable of operating the pair of time control engines. I will first activate the Auto Systematic Implosive Negative Incindiary Nucleational Engine to open a 'window' in the time continuum. Next I will use the Time Dilator to compress two sides of the time stream to focus the point in the time line where I'll make my incursion.

    Knowing that the Dilator requires items with a temporal connection to the anchor points at either end of the time frame into which I would pass; I have chosen to install two of the personal effects I collected from wreckage: A pocket watch I'd given to one of them as a gift and a lock of Lady's hair. If what you told me about temporal signatures of living things emitting the strongest signal, I should be able to anchor the later end at the exact moment her life stopped. I will attempt to make my incursion no more than two minutes prior to the destruction of the vessel. I fear any more than that would risk seriously contaminating their time stream.

    Our theories on temporal alteration differ; but If my theory is correct, the moment I remove the saboteur's bomb, thereby changing history, my current self will cease to exist and all the events of the last four four years will never have happened. In the event that I am wrong, with no operator at this end to control the time engines, the window will collapse and I'll be stuck in the past. In either case you shall not see me again.

    Lastly, and this will be difficult to take, I have known for some time of your intention to use the Time Engines for your exclusive personal gain. I have said nothing because perfecting the engines was my only hope of saving my friends. But as man of good conscience and one dedicated to the ideal that science should be used only for good, I cannot allow your plan to continue. This evening I have burned all your papers and journals, and left strict instructions with a local demolition company to dynamite the building in which the machine is hidden. By tomorrow morning, whether I succeed or fail, the time machine will no longer exist.

    I now take my leave of you. My future lies in the past.
    Hopefully you will come to forgive me... in time.

    Your humble servant,
    Angelus P. Fumolatro

    Penseroso, _Val W, and Mr. Sable added this photo to their favorites.

    1. Drhaggis 77 months ago | reply

      Fortunately for Gunther I had tied him to the bunk with his bed sheet just before we crested the giant dune. I on the other hand had been tossed into the air like hat in wind. No sooner had I come crashing to the floor when there came a flash of light in the corridor outside my room. I feared a hydrogen gas pipe had ruptured, but when I peered though door I spotted a body stretched out prone upon the floor. I approached, the man on the floor righted himself and looked up at me.

      "Angie!" I shouted "What are you... How did you get up here? You were under the Carriage, And what's happened to you? You look... wait a moment... Those aren't your clothes and where did you get that eye-patch? Angie what's happened?"

      He looked up at me half smiling like in a daze; reaching toward me.
      "Manleigh... my old friend, you're..." He gasped so loudly I though he was choking. He looked about in a frenzy, patting the floor and running his hands over the walls. "Where is it?! We've got to find it!"

      "Find what?"

      "The scullery cupboard!" He screamed, pointing as he struggled to his feet and pulled violently at the door handle.

      "Angie, what are you doing?"

      "It must be here", was all he kept saying "it must.. be..!" He was like a man possessed. Pails, mops, rags and bottles came flying from the cupboard as he dug deep into the supplies until at last, "HERE!"

      Yanking and tugging at something within, like a wild man he stepped from the cupboard desperately clutching a large canvas mail bag. It was clearly heavy and secured with three separate padlocks.

      "Overboard! We must get this overboard!" he was heading to the rear of the ship to the door that opened onto upper observation deck. Struggling with the weight of the bag, he had a look of madness about him. "I haven't much time, in a few seconds I'll be gone. You'll find me on the far side of a small stone outcropping at the base of the dune... almost buried in sand...please, find me."

      He pulled open the door and limped out onto the deck; hoisted the bag onto the rail and then inexplicably, he stopped. Looking down a his hands and then all around as if he were unsure of where he was. He looked up at me and said: "I don't understand... nothing has changed... I'm still here...I fixed it, I put it right...I removed the bomb, I shouldn't exist! I shouldn't be here!"

      "Bomb?" I thought, he'd gone mad. I had no idea what to say or even what was happening. I placed a hand on his shoulder. "Angie, let me help you."

      "YOU?... Me." His visage went from stunned to somehow enlightened. "Me! Yes, Manleigh, it's me! I'M what's not right here. I wasn't in this time stream the first time so I CAN'T be here now or it wont go back to the way it was!"

      A calm seemed to settle over him. Looking me in the face, he grinned and said only "Good-bye Manleigh, don't forget... come find me." Before I realized what he was doing, he'd wrapped his arms tight around the bag, leaned into it with his full weight and tumbled over the rail into the sands below.

      "ANGIE!" I screamed as a I tried to catch him, but it was too late. I watched him roll over a few times in the sand, still holding the bag.

      As we left him behind, he sat up and called out: "Manleigh!, I almost forgot to tell you, The Gearmaster is" - the sound of his voice was cut short by a thunderous blast. The black bag exploded with such force that all that remained in the sand was a scorched stain of red.

      Unable to bear the sight of it I turned my gaze away searching for anything else on which to focus. Whether it was my confusion or grief playing tricks on my mind I would have sworn I had just seen the figure of a man in the distance standing atop the great dune.

    2. _Val W 77 months ago | reply

      Wow!!!! Who needs Steven King with you guys around...... Another perfect picture to go with the saga. Bravo.....

    3. Professor Fumolatro 77 months ago | reply

      As I stood on the crest of the hill attempting to calculate my distance from the rapidly retreating hoever-carriage, I would have sworn I saw the flash of an explosion.
      Then, there came a pulse... and my breath left me.

      Much like being struck square upon the chest every ounce of air seemed to be sucked away. I turned to the horizon whence we came. Even there, four miles from the ruins, I could tell it had happened.

      There came a flash.

      I whispered. "Time's up."


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