At first glance, the Chamber is perhaps the most uninspiring sight in the Wasted West, and that’s saying quite a lot. But in a land where green skinned, flying squirrel men aren’t uncommon
I’ve met one personally it’s an almost refreshingly mundane experience to find a herd of cattle grazing in a box canyon.
The Chamber itself sits in an old Spanish mission not too far outside of the shell of Tombstone. Nestled in the mountains, it’s an easily defensible position and rightly so considering what I’ve gleaned lies in it’s depths. If you’re a member and you’re reading this, don’t worry. I won’t divulge that here.
Mary Lou and I had spent several weeks on the road, slinging vittles or killing game as it showed up. The journey from San Francisco to Tombstone was long but I was glad for the company. I could finally make up for lost time with the daughter I had adopted and then left behind. Afterall, I might not get another chance.
In 200 years, Mary Lou had grown into quite the woman. She was smart, self possessed, and beautiful; everything I could have hoped she’d become. She told me about her adventures in my absence, about running from Stone, about the war and the day the bombs fell. She told me about all of the boys she had cared about and let go of because of her goal to keep fighting the fight I had asked her to fight, the fight that I had stared. I was proud of her but sad for her. If I had never left, this girl might have had a normal childhood. She might have met a man and gotten married. I might have even walked her down the isle. In another life I would have filed the papers to make her my own and she would have lived the life of a princess, a life which she deserved and still does. Maybe if I’m successful and I fix all this, I’ll give her that life. The thought of that happening is almost laughable but at least I can still dream.
Three weeks together went by quickly. By day we’d camp out of sight, out of the sun and heat, out of the elements. By night, we’d ride. From time to time I’d catch her sneaking glimpses at letters, reading them over and over again before she’d fall asleep but I didn’t have the heart to ask who they were from. Best let her keep some secrets I suppose and if they put a smile on her face, they couldn’t be a bad thing.
I was shocked to discover the Chamber when we came upon it. From the outside, it was a dilapidated mission that must have been in its prime about the time I was stomping around Arizona so many years ago. As we approached, we were greeted by gunfire. A few warning shots echoed through the box canyon from above before a few armed guards appeared and held us at gun point. After a brief inquiry and dropping the name Eli River, they escorted us inside. The mission was in an extreme state of disrepair but it was only a cover. Beneath the surface was the real Chamber, a mostly in tact Confederate military base from years before. It wasn’t long before I met Eli. He hadn’t changed a day, although it had only been about two months since we parted. He wore new robes, carried an odd looking stick and had a robo-monkey he’d named Little Bill that followed him around but, given how well I now Eli, none of this was particularly out of character, the monkey least of all.
The Library was a dark, dank place, with a ton of quietly speaking initiates running around trying to impress the higher ups with the vastness of their knowledge. It was a miserable place, perhaps the least human place I’d ever been, and although the people were nice, the environment was less than ideal for a man accustomed to loud saloons and the bustle of a busy house of ill refute. I say this so that when I tell you that the Chamber made the Library look like the House Calypso, you grasp the magnitude of my meaning. With only 40 people at the facility at any given time, all of which spouted techno babble at 1,000 miles an hour, it’s easier to wish for better company. Finding Eli was not my main motivation for being there though.
After some begging and pleading, I was finally introduced to Whitlow, the head of their group. It was him who I had set out to see to begin with. Before my leap through time, I had met a woman named Jackie Wells who claimed to come from the future. She died in the past but not before leaving me her journal, claiming the Chamber had sent her back.
I wasn’t shocked to learn Whitlow had never heard of a Jackie Wells nor had they been able to pull off time travel. Stone had murdered her in the past, and somehow when Stone killed you, you seemed to die a hell of a lot more efficiently. It was a major disappointment to learn but not without a silver lining. Whitlow and his ilk claimed to be able to pull off something like time travel but not without a massive, concentrated power supply. Something like the Heart of Darkness which had gotten to the future in the first place. The next step would be to find it.
Empty handed and back at square one, Eli, Mary Lou and I departed from the Chamber. If we wanted to get back to 1876 we’d have to find the Heart of Darkness again or something similar and we were without a place to start. Tombstone was only a day away though, which meant Last Stand was only about a week or so off. What better place to begin looking that in the place where our stories began.
If only I had known what was waiting for us when we arrived, I probably never would have gone. Hindsight, they say, is 20/20.