Published by Flag in the journal Flag's journal. Views: 638

(Collaborative post by @Chase and myself. Composed and posted with permissions by all parties involved)

2 years ago:

This stupid little pacific island never ceased to surprise him. The first time he was here it was a factory for super-science that was only a whisper of a thought the second time he had visited. Since it had been abandoned when he found it then, he took it over in an attempt to shape it for his own purpose. This didn't work at first, but then it did and he found himself back where he started this absurd adventure.

Now it was a nature based resort for those rich enough to afford it. He should have had been able to vacation here for a while, but he had blown his money hiring a small private army on the promise to make sure certain events happened as they should... events that brought him here.

He remembered being shot. He also suspected that it was by no coincidence that the bullets had hit in the scars that Carmen's men had mended when she and he first met (again).

The bedside conversation that followed that first encounter had been abnormally awkward. Her body language indicated that she knew what had happened and he wanted to ask her how much she remembered, but instead he maintained the silence. After a while she collected the notes they had written and left.

That same week he had done something new and resigned himself to his exile on this planet. He underwent surgery and had his body modified so that he could blend in better. No more having to hide his ears, tail, and hair. The only things that he couldn't change were his eyes, which remained their weird shape and mix of colors.

These eyes watched a small dot on the horizon avoid a storm and start to grow in size (again). He lifted his glass and silently toasted the sight before drinking from the first of what was sure to be many glasses of scotch.

* * *

In the months that followed the Kamchatka incident, Chase Devineaux buried himself in work. But no amount of distraction could fully erase what he thought he perceived. Standing among the cold stones of a fortress, he watched as a foreign being weave some form of ritualistic web — more importantly, he watched it come after him — and he responded with fire.

Muscles in his right hand still sensed the pistol’s grip. It wasn’t his gun, he would remember his Beretta. If recollection serves, Carmen carried an enemy handgun tucked at her back, most likely because she recently disarmed someone… yet why would she need to?

None of that truly mattered because there were still congruent gaps in his memory. Temperatures were warm when he fired the shots, he thought he heard birds, and Carmen wore her summer coat — why his mind chose to keep those details but not the bigger picture was perplexing.
Weeks of backtracking brought him to Hawaii, and to an island that he recognized, but had never quite understood.

The Cessna landed in the water and Devineaux hiked up to a steel and concrete structure set in a mildly active volcano. Someone cleared a path for him, just like before, and he followed suit in hopes of answers. At the very least, he wanted evidence that what he remembered occurring here truly did happen.

The ex-Sivoan watched the director take the long way up to the resorts pool deck. Whether this was because he didn't see the elevators, or was trying to affirm something mentally, he would never know - but he found it vaguely amusing.

When the ACME leader did finally reach the top Flag stuck a hand up in perhaps his most unenthusiastic wave to date.

Chase reached the top platform and watched in silence for some time at the other man. His encounters with Flag rarely ended well, if they resolved at all. When the coast seemed clear and the lackadaisical wave was presented, the recent arrival walked out into the open. A bottle of scotch nearby beckoned and Devineaux gestured in its direction.

“Got another tumbler?”

Flag pushed one of the three glasses remaining on the table towards the director. He then decided that it was best to get to the point of this meeting.

"Our truce is finished when these drinks are. I know you have questions. You have until then to ask them."

Chase picked up a tumbler and inhaled, letting the effervescence of aged single malt linger before taking a discrete sip. Flag was right, he had a multitude of questions, but more than that he prized efficiency. There were few questions that were worth anything to him, and perhaps one more valuable than all others combined. But he was decently relaxed here, and present company seemed in no hurry; so to that and the irony of the situation, he chuckled once.

“I’ll take my time, then,” he then sat adjacent to this temporary friend, taking in a view of the Hawaiian hills.

Flag opted to continue watching the coastline. He had accepted the fact that the island had been turned into a tourist haven, but the pavilions on the beach still seemed out of place. It made him like Stone Harbor just a little bit more. Naturally this line of thought brought his mind around to Carmen and ultimately the reason that he was able to lure the director out here in the first place.

"She fine."

Devineaux’s glance snapped to Flag at those words. He waited, something about the man’s expression told him there was more thought involved than the short sentence that came out. Yet nothing further came, and the director formed his own speculations as to why.

“That was my only question,” he admitted and took another drink of alcohol. The answer without inquiry told him much more than anything he could have asked. Everything he remembered happened.

Strangely, that revelation made the dark coastlines and tree-covered hills seem like the scenery from a distant planet.

“I suppose the next logical thing to ask is what you were hoping to achieve,” he paused briefly, empathizing; every sign perceptible told Chase that Flag failed. “Didn’t seem like an easy thing to complete.”

"It wasn't," Flag cracked a weathered smile. "but I succeeded."

The alien paused again, this time to let his words sink in. He lost, but he also won - a lesson he wanted the director to leave with. A sip of liquor brought him back to his temporary promise to be civil and he withdrew his intensity.

"The short of it is that I wanted to reconnect with someone who had moved on."

Skeptically, Devineaux also drank. Of the years he lived, there were certain things he could easily let go, and other things he could never seem to shake off. What Flag was saying sounded vaguely like resurrecting the dead, and from what he remembered it didn’t look pleasant.

“You came at me with a weapon,” anger rolled with the whiskey, “If she hadn’t protected you, I’d have better aim.”

"Your aim is impeccable and I have no desire to experience it again." Flag snapped, suddenly aggravated at the fullness of his glass. "I make no promises for the future, but I am currently unarmed."Chase nodded, understanding, “Me too.” He looked out at the view and the sunset, and after a moment of silence asked, “Does it look like this, the sunset, wherever you came from?”

Flag deadpanned for a moment before rolling his eyes. "More or less." He suspected that the question itself was supposed to hint that the detective knew more about him than he was letting on. Of course he knew! This meeting wouldn't have happened otherwise.

The sorcerer poured the remaining scotch over the railing and watched as the wind whipped it into a fine mist. "It's not my place to tell you how to do your job detective, but you should be stopping thieves; not providing them aid for their internal affairs."

As he set the glass upside down on the table, he warned "The next time that our organizations meet, it shall not be as friends." With that he left the detective to enjoy the remainder of the sunset alone.

In all honesty, Chase did not know about Flag’s origins, he could only guess. But that reaction verified his suspicions. Standing alone to take in the sunset, he subconsciously acknowledged Flag’s parting words. They would not meet again as friends, but as ‘what’ and under ‘which’ circumstances, only time would tell.
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