E p i l o g u e
F u n e r a l
It was a stoic atmosphere in the church.
The room was filled with relatives, mostly; come abroad to see the tragedy in the Olson family. But there were quite a few friends here as well; several from Riggs, many of which, ironically, would later have been her higher-ups in the war. These were friends, however, who had not yet had heard Kenzi's offer of world domination. Still, it was hard for some of the Gang not to look upon them and know what they would become if it all had happened: merciless enemies.
Standing in their own corner of the room, the Seminary Gang kept quietly to themselves, out of range of listening ears. Still, there was little to say right now that had not been talked about over and over in the past few days since the accident.
Brian cleared his throat. Everyone glanced up as Jade entered. Unlike the majority of the Mormons in the room, she was wearing an all black dress. She spotted their group and quickly made her way over. Brian was waiting with a hug.
Jon shifted nervously, staring down at the floor.
"You okay?" Richard whispered to him.
Jon shrugged, a sad smile playing at his features. "For some funny reason it still feels like she's dead."
Richard frowned, glancing up at Jade. She was now in some kind of hushed conversation with Brian and Kaitlin. "You mean Jade?"
Jon followed his gaze, staring on a moment longer. He glanced over at Richard, keeping his voice low. "It's gone…those feelings I had for her…they're gone…" He let out a breath of astonishment. "It's like, the moment she died, any attachment I had to her died, too."
"And even though she technically never died…?" said Richard.
"It's just like last time," Jon said nostalgically. "It doesn't matter if it never happened. Things changed. So do feelings."
"And apparently so do people," Richard finished.
A few minutes later Kimmi arrived. She too was dressed all in black, being Catholic from birth. It was all she could do to hold her stone cold expression without breaking down.
"So," Kaitlin said sheepishly. "We're all here."
For a moment they filled the silence with friendly conversation. But that was all it was; something to fill the space. Eventually talk shifted back to the last moments of the battle, and Jon slipped out as Jade held everyone's attention with the story of her last stand.
He ambled through the room aimlessly, observing those that had come to Kenzi's funeral. Some were friends from Riggs, talking in quick whispers; stunned, shocked. Others were relatives, making long-winded comments on the tragedy of such a young death. Then he spied Kenzi's parents, Scott and Angela, standing over the casket on the far side of the room. He could not even begin to imagine what they were feeling right now. In one world they had been slaughtered by Kenzi's future posterity, while their daughter became a blood-thirsty whore. But here, in the world that mattered, they were but parents who had lost their child at an age far too young. Angela was in tears, and Jon could see that Scott was restraining himself from the same urge. It was so strange; Jon had never known a tougher man in his life. This was the same guy that could tackle Jon to the ground with ease. And here he was, broken down by something far worse.
Richard appeared by Jon's side. "It's so weird…how things played out."
Jon turned, looking back towards the Gang. "I'm still trying to figure out what's real and what's not."
"The short version," Richard began, "is that after a normal day of seminary, Kenzi plowed into an oncoming car, and was killed on impact. The end."
"And the long version?" asked Jon.
Richard shook his head, smiling sheepishly. "I wouldn't even know where to begin."
Jon sighed. He held up his hand, watching light twinkle around the edges as it threatened to drift into the quantum foam. Of their group, they had all retained their quantum abilities. Whether this was proof that the last five years had really happened or just some cosmic hiccup didn't really matter. They were the only ones who even remembered any of it.
Charlie's words were beginning to have truth. While everyone else from Riggs—be it Seminary Ganger or part of Kenzi's army—was alive and shocked about her death, those years never existed. By all scientific definition, they didn't happen. Such were the bizarre wonders of quantum mechanics.
"It feels more like a dream than anything," said Richard. "I can remember it all; the trauma, the horrors. But it feels…"
"Distant?" said Jon. "Like it all just melted away?"
"Eh, I don't know. Our old lives just slipped back on so easily; like we never left."
Jon couldn't help but chuckle at the irony. "Just like the first time."
And just like the first time, things would never be the same again.
Kenzi was dead, for one thing. And Jon was still dealing with the fact that he had betrayed everyone. They all knew the story in full now—especially Jade, who had to know why first—but that didn't excuse his actions. And Jon knew that some of them would always have an ounce of doubt about him from now on. After all, if he could do it once, why not again? Although in reality most of them believed it impossible, the doubt still remained, and Jon hated himself all the more because of it. The cost was his very friendship with Jade.
Jade had had it rough, too. She may have known now why he did it, but now she couldn't look at him without wondering. Worse still, Dan was alive again, yes, but like the others, he didn't remember anything. And in reality, it never existed for him to remember. A romance and a life with him had been lost. And then there was that whole thing with her death.
Jon watched their group closely. He could tell by Jade's animated conversation that she was getting into the nitty-gritty details of her last moments there on the mountain.
A strange sensation, to be sure; she had explained that she really only remembered up to the point the device in her heart was activated. She didn't even remember Brian's addition to the story about coming to find her. After that, she woke back up in her old bed to her alarm clock. Like it all had been a dream. Jon's sudden appearance on the scene quickly disproved that theory. It was only natural that he go there first upon landing back in Real Space.
They talked for a long time after that. About what had happened, why he did what he did, and what they were going to do. And most importantly, he took her to the scene of Kenzi's death. The ambulances were already gone, and most of the crowds departed. But the Gang was still all there, and what followed was the retelling of events.
Poor Kimmi had been the most silent during their whole exchange. Aside from a few stories and clarity in certain situations, her tale was mostly known. And like him, Jon suspected, she hated herself for it. Hated how she had been so eager the night Kenzi came with the proposal, hated how she led armies that killed mercilessly, hated how she had allowed herself to become almost as evil as Charlie.
But there was no denying it; she was part of their group now. Jon smiled as he took stalk of how she stood tightly in their little group. She was grafted in as a Seminary Ganger, just like Jade. Maybe there was hope after all.
Kaitlin was quiet, too. But she had always been kind of quiet; reserved. The war had no doubt turned into some kind of military instrument, but it seemed as if she was becoming her old self again. She didn't need the horrors of war shaping her life.
Jon turned his attention quite suddenly to Brian, who was still holding Jade close. As always, Brian was his usual stoic self, but if it were possible, a little more matured as well. His friendly side seemed to come out a little more. There was something to it, but Jon couldn't place it. Maybe it would be chalked up to Jade's friendship, or maybe the whole experience. Jon hoped so; at least someone grew from it.
"I think they'll be all right," Jon said aloud.
Richard looked over their little group. "Kaitlin seems a lot quieter now. I think I'll miss that military commander she used to be."
"I won't," Jon said flatly. "She wasn't meant to be a soldier at this age. None of us were."
"Well, I guess we're lucky, then. The only relics left of that nightmare are our memories, and…quantum abilities."
"And all bestowed because of the fabled old Time Remote." He looked up at Richard sharply. "Do we know what happened to it?"
Richard shook his head. "I'm not too sure, really. When we destroyed it to create the bridge between quantum realities, I never thought about what kind of affect that would have once we got back. I mean, just like before, we still had the storage unit rented under our names, and Kaitlin said she even checked it out. The brief case was there, but the Remote wasn't. Whatever we did to it, it erased it from Real Space."
Jon folded arms. "Makes sense, in a way."
"Oh, indeed. We shouldn't have brought it back in the first place. Unless Brian somehow already had his ability to create matter straight from his mind. I mean, I guess it's possible that we had technically already been irradiated enough to possess these abilities after our trip through the Book of Mormon, but still…" He shook his head. "Just like Kenzi's apocalypse, that reality never existed either, so how did we bring something back?"
"Stop asking questions, and don't worry about it. We got it, and without it you wouldn't have created your own little Door."
Richard chuckled. "Heh, I guess that's right…we created our own Door…"
The rest of the Gang glanced over at them.
"Oh, I guess we're wanted," said Jon.
The two strolled back into the midst of their group.
"Well…what are we going to do?" Jade finally said.
Kimmi grunted. "Does it matter?" No one noticed the faint grin play across Jon's lips.
"I should think so," said Kaitlin. "What will Charlie do now that her partner in crime is suddenly out of the picture?"
"Charlie? Is Charlie even still in existence?" said Richard. "Now that Kenzi is dead, none of her posterity will be born. What if time travel isn't even discovered because of this?"
"You forget, though; we don't know if Kenzi really is dead," said Jon
To medical science, all the evidence pointed to Kenzi's death as a result of the car accident. Only the Gang knew the truth. Knew that a part of her had been launched into the deep void of…what? Certainly beyond the restoring affects of the collapsed reality merging back with Real Space.
"I don't care if she is or not. She got what she deserved," Jade said forcefully.
Kaitlin shook her head. "Did she? What about the gene activator? Charlie's cocktail drug?"
"She wasn't using her own judgment," said Richard. "There's no way she would have willing done those terrible things. She was just Charlie's puppet."
Kimmi smirked sarcastically. "But hell, I know she enjoyed it…no matter how doped up she was on Charlie's do-my-bullshit drug."
Silence settled among their group, but Kaitlin finally asked the hard question. "Could she be saved?"
Jon didn't miss a beat. "She has to, Kaitlin. This wasn't how time was meant to be. This is not Kenzi's final destiny. And it most certainly isn't ours. We can't just leave her out there."
"Time traveling was troublesome enough," said Jade. "Universe hopping is in a league of its own. Who knows if we could find her? Who knows if she's even out there? As far as I'm concerned, this was Kenzi's final destiny."
"That is, if there was another universe out there for Kenzi to be trapped in," said Richard. "The cosmic playground is a dangerous place. One badly distorted quantum reality mirrored after our own universe had been filled with oddities. Could we hope to survive somewhere where the laws of physics are vague abstract ideas? Where there are new and strange rules to play by?"
The thought sent shivers down their spines.
But Kaitlin was undaunted. "The Seminary Gang isn't over yet. Our final destiny wasn't an early death."
"No," said Jon, "it wasn't. And by God, neither is Kenzi's. Even if I have to go through hell to make it so."