The gate at Arlanda Airport was slightly busy. The usual crowd of people stood at the gate, waving and showing off signs with names and company names. Jasper Hill slowed down, scanning the crowd… and to the side, there were the two familiar faces.
Erika Haglund jumped over him and grabbed his face, dropping kisses all over before settling on a serious one.
“Hey, I was there two days ago, it’s not been that long!”
Quan… no, Henry. Henry Esteban stood to the side and smiled.
“You know, it’s weird as fuck to see you two and have zero information from the Interface.”
“Glad to see you on this side as well. You'll see; you get used to it after a while.”
He came up to Henry and hugged him, which surprised the former FBI agent.
“Hey. You never do this in Northworld.”
“When in Northworld, do as in Northworld. When on Earth…”
Henry snorted in half-faked disgust.
“So, how does it go?” asked Erika once they reached the parking and found her car.
“The Cartographers are still scrambling all over the place tying themselves to knots with the Aliengates.”
“Name sounds ominous,” remarked Henry drily.
“It’s shorter than Those Aliens’ Silvergates.”
“Anyway, recess ends in two days, and we’re plunging back into the shark tank,” added Erika.
“That we do. That we do.”
Jasper turned toward Henry.
“How is the life of the fugitive for you?”
Henry Esteban sighed.
“My boss is still dropping a new message every day on my phone. And I got another call from my fellow agents. They came here and were trying to find me to talk me into coming back.”
“It’s a brave thing you did. I don’t know if I would ever have the courage of deserting from the law…”
“It’s the weird thing, but it was the right thing to do. I mean… I joined the FBI not just to pursue and punish criminals, but to keep the Americans safe in their homes. All of them. Which is why I choose the FBI rather than join the police in Atlanta.”
He interrupted Jasper who was starting to reply.
“And sometimes, you figure out that this protection takes priority over the simple rules. I mean… we’ve barely convinced some people over in Northworld that there’s an entire universe of alien Gater lifeforms coming up. I wasn’t entirely sure, but now, I know I was right. No one will take any of that seriously for months… years this side. Certainly not my boss; he told me that in very strong terms. Even if Northworld does things, it’s still the big hoax of years ago for many.”
“So I have to begin somewhere. To protect the USA… and the entire world maybe.”
“Protect is a very strong word. I mean, we’ve barely seen them yet, and as long as we’re high level enough, we may keep it cool…” started Erika.
Henry looked dubiously from Erika to Jasper.
“For someone with high Reasoning, you’re sometimes dumb as rocks, you two.”
He added, “Northworld is okay, but we’ve now got some Silvergates that presumably lead back to their own world. So, tell me… what happens when they get hold of some of our Silvergates.”
Vincent Archer wrote his first story around age 11. On a mechanical typewriter, with carbon paper for a mimeograph to distribute in class. His teacher knew enough to make vague encouraging noises rather than really tell him what she thought. He wrote more stories afterward, but Time has thankfully managed to erase every trace of them.
Now that his career has settled in a mix of routine and insanity and that he's figured out that herding cats would probably be easier, he's finally started to write stories again on a media rather than inside his brain. Some of those are even potentially good enough to show to other people.
Silvergates is his first attempt to finish one rather than admit defeat against the usual writer's block.