Disclaimer
I do not own nor have any rights to "the Traveler"
Characters and locations from the book "the Traveler" are referred to in the story for continuity.
However, all characters in this story have been created by me.

The story takes place six months to a year after the events in the book.

This is my second FanFic, though I liked the first I got sidetracked after the first couple chapters. I hope to return to it eventually. But this idea has been rolling around in my head for almost a year now. Point being: this is my first genuine attempt at writing something. So be kind but reviews will be greatly appreciated.

o:O:oo:O:oo:O:oo:O:o

"Defense of the Realm" a fan fiction by CJ Harrison

Chapter one…

Ciaran looked out over the village from the rooftop. The grass looked like it was dusted with a fine cover of snow and the pavement shown like a sheet of glass. But it was a spring morning and it was just the dew reflecting the light from the streetlamps. The sun would be rising in a few minutes evaporating the illusion of snow and ice.

But the illusion of a quaint little Midwest town was harder to dispel; Penfield IL, population 675. No wonder the Tabula set up shop here. The entrance to the facility was at the end of an alley between the "Second Chance" furniture store and what used to be an A&P grocery. Faded advertisements for Breck shampoo and the "New" Gillette single edge razor could be made out through the white wash covering the abandoned grocery store's windows. The alley ended at a dumpster, behind it was a brick and stucco wall. Townspeople walked down this street everyday and never had a second thought about that wall at the far end. The wall had not always been there you see, but if asked no one would be able to tell you why or how long it had been there. But why would anyone ask?

Penfield had been a happening little town in the 40's and 50's. Hanging in front of every other storefront was a neon sign promising ice cold beer inside. Sounds of laughter, conversation, and what ever popular music was currently being peddled on the jukebox pouring out into the street. The coal mines and railroad provided a good living for a town which had no local industry and nothing but soybeans as far as the eye could see. But the coal was gone, and with it the miners. The mines were just empty holes in the ground and the entrances had been sealed long ago.

The railroad was a victim of greed. Men at the top had deliberately sabotaged it for some quick and substantial profits. It eventually went bankrupt, another windfall for corporate lawyers. The Federal and State Governments attempted to keep it alive, but the money was siphoned off and never went where it should have. They finally had to pull the plug. Now it looks no different than the soybean field it borders.

The signs once full of promise, hung broken and lightless. The only sounds to be heard were the bark of a dog left out and the dull roar of a Tractor Trailer passing by at 60 miles an hour. The few people still living there were retired farmers, and ex-military. The farmers once the backbone of the community, had seen their family farm land slowly dwindle away as it needed to be sold to cover bank loans for equipment and seed from years past. Most finally gave up waiting for that bumper crop that would pay everything off and put them on easy street. The farms were eventually bought up by Asian and Middle Eastern Farm Co-operatives. Military personnel, who had been trained or stationed at the now closed Chanute Air Force base, and had once seen this as a promising place to return and raise their family; returned to see their dreams dry up and blow away along with the once fertile top soil. There were no longer the sounds of playful children or the sound of friendly conversation, the clinking of glasses or the fork against a plate at a backyard BBQ. No one stays in Penfield; the only people left are the ones with no where else to go. It's a graveyard, only the corpses haven't stopped breathing yet; just the right place for Lister to set up another shop of horrors.

o:O:oo:O:oo:O:oo:O:o

Ciaran (Keeran) had been on the rooftop across the street for several hours. The message had said his target was in the Penfield Facility; his immediate task was to get her out and rendezvous with a Pathfinder in Toronto.

Shift change came at 4:00 am. Several men dressed in jeans and flannel shirts walked down the alley, a few moments' later several men dressed similarly walked out. That had been 45 minutes ago, and the sun would be rising soon. Ciaran planned on being in, out and gone before the sun burnt off the illusion of winter.

Five hidden security cameras watched the alley and the facility entrance. Also monitored by satellite, it should have very impossible to get in unseen, but Ciaran did not expect it to be a problem. His grandfather, Gobban, a Harlequin weapon master, metallurgist, and electronic genius had supplied him with what his father Kellen called "the edge". Inside the sheath on his left forearm Gobban had inserted a silicon chip. The chip created a field approximately six foot in diameter that made him invisible to electronic devices. The field could also bend light in a way that made anything within it invisible to cameras. The human eye could not be fooled so easily, but that was not his immediate concern.

Ciaran stood up at the edge of the roof; he jumped and flipped forward towards the street. As he flipped over he threw out a thin polymer ribbon. When extended and put under pressure the ribbon hardens, so for a split second it acts like 20 ft pole. He pushed off the makeshift pole and continued the flip; the ribbon went limp and rolled back up into the sheath on his forearm, he then landed silently on the roof above the grocery store.

Ciaran moved along the edge of the roof above the alley. He tossed out the ribbon again, it hardened when it hit the ground but this time he slid down the makeshift pole to the alley floor. As he slid down the ribbon it went limp and rolled back into the sheath. He moved down the alley through the now blind eyes of the security cameras and around the dumpster. The wall was made of material which had properties similar to the polymer ribbon, the field created by the chip allowed him to walk through the wall as if it was a beaded curtain.

On the other side of the no-wall was the top of a stairway. Ciaran pressed ball of a putty-like adhesive against the handrail, attached the ribbon to it and went over the side. The staircase ended about three stories down. He slid down the ribbon through the center of the staircase. The walls were white, and had a multi colored sheen like a pearl. Below him a man in jeans and a flannel shirt walked into the area at the bottom of the stairs. He was carrying an AK47at his hip; he pivoted on one foot to return down the hallway from which he came. Ciaran grabbed the ribbon with his feet, twisted and continued down headfirst. With a twitch of a muscle in his left wrist a curved blade dropped from the forearm sheath into his left hand. He reached out put his right hand over the sentry's mouth and drug the blade across his throat with the left. Using the guard's body as support he twisted again into an upright position behind the body. There was a barely audible click as the blades opened and locked into place; now six thin curved blades extended from the center creating a disc.

Ciaran proceeded down the hallway passing several corridors and doors. At the third corridor he turned right. The target should be behind the second door on the left. He reached behind his head and pulled an Ivory handled Katana from the tube across his back. In a blur of motion the Katana passed in front of the door. He reached out to catch the doorknob as it fell from the door. The door swung inward and Ciaran slipped around the doorframe.

o:O:oo:O:oo:O:oo:O:o

Adrian Lister was eating in the lab; he stopped chewing and spit out what ever was left of the mouthful of apple he just finished. Something was wrong, very wrong. He dashed out the door and to the staircase on his right. The control room was on the floor below him. Grabbing the handrail he jumped over it and swung down to the next level.

Lister burst through the control room door. The guard in front of the monitors was reading the Chicago Sun Times and almost jumped out of his skin. He screamed at him, "What the hell is going on? What happened?" he looked at the slack jawed guard and thought, "God, where do we get these guys?" They had lost a lot of personnel in the Evergreen facility incident. Finding quality new mercenaries to fill out his staff was proving harder than he had anticipated. The guard started mumbling, trying to get his mouth in sync with his brain. "Nothin' Sir, nothing happened, I would have hit the alarm right away Sir."

Lister scanned the bank of monitors, and screamed, "Where is she you Idiot? She's gone!" But it was too late for the guard to answer, Lister had hit him right below the nose with the base of his palm, shattering his nose and forcing the bone fragments into his brain. There was a wet thump as his lifeless body slid down the wall to the floor. Lister slammed his hand on the alarm button on the console, grabbed the microphone and shouted out an unending string of profanities and orders. He probably shouldn't have killed the guard, but sometimes this human's body when flooded with emotion dumped adrenalin and hormones into its neurological system acted instinctively. He'd have to work on controlling it.

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As Ciaran slipped around the doorframe into the room a young woman looked up. She was seated in an apparatus similar to a dentist chair, but with a far darker purpose. He flipped the ivory sword around like a baton twirler; put his finger to his lips and grabbed her hand; the straps holding her down in the chair fell away. She looked up at him, "My God, it's true…… You're …. You're one of them, you're a Harlequin." Ciaran put his finger to his lips, and tugged her hand again. This time she stood up and went with him. They went out the door just as a sentry was coming in. The girl's mouth dropped open and she gasped. Ciaran's Katana was stuck up though the guards chin and protruded from the top of his head. Ciaran never stopped moving, pulling her out the door. He went back the same way he came in, when they turned down the hallway leading back to the staircase two guards came out of the far door. There was a slight movement of Ciaran's left hand. The windmill shurekin, his six bladed disc, sliced through the first guard's throat; shock went across the other guards face and he raised his gun to fire. Ciaran raised his hand and caught the shurekin as it returned to him. He never slowed, heading right at the second guard pulling the girl behind him. Before they reached him, his head slid off his shoulders, the shurekin had decapitated him as it retuned to Ciaran.

At the bottom of the staircase, Ciaran again put a bit of the adhesive putty on the ribbon and tossed it up the center of the stairwell. It attached itself to something at the top. He pointed to her hands and then to his neck. When she didn't move he grabbed her hands and drug her arms across his shoulders and around his neck, took hold of the ribbon and pulled them both up hand over hand. Even with the girl's added weight, he could climb faster than they could have run up the stairs. Just as they had reached the top, the alarm sounded.

o:O:oo:O:oo:O:oo:O:o

In the late summer of his 10th year; Ciaran's grandfather brought him a message from his father. He was to walk to town and take the ferry across the bay, his father would be waiting for him on the other side.

At only ten years old Ciaran was already becoming a man of the world. He was almost 6 foot tall and most certainly would pass his father's height of 6 ft 4 in. He was descended from a long line of Irish Harlequins and could trace his ancestry back to the time of the Templars. His family had several homes and apartments in different countries, but Ciaran spent the bulk of his time on the Irish Moors with his grandfather. This was because both his father and mother were Harlequins; and there were times one or both parents were away for extended periods of time. Though strict, he loved the times at his grandfathers; where he was tutored by the housekeeper's daughter. His grandfather trained him in hand to hand combat with a multitude of weapons, also explaining their history and construction. Physical training consisted of running on the moors and repelling down the cliffs along the coast. He also learned the history and relationships of the Brethren (Tabula), the Travelers, their guardians (the Harlequins), the pathfinders (guides of the Travelers), and the Realms.

Ciaran's father's name was Kellen, and untainted Irish blood ran through his veins; he was six foot four and about 220lbs while his mother (Hyun-Ja) was Korean and about five foot three and 115lbs. They had a house in New Guinea, and when Ciaran was there his education consisted of finding and identifying medicinal plants in the wild, and learning the many sources of poisons, venoms, and their antidotes. On the moors he would run long distances, learning to pace himself and not tire; but while in New Guinea he ran through the jungle; sprinting, dodging through the trees, jumping and climbing, gaining speed, balance and strength.

When at his mother's ancestral home in Korea he was taught the art of meditation, control over the mind and senses, martial arts, and the art of the sword. His training was a perfect balance of mind body and soul. At no time did he ever consider anything but the life of a Harlequin. His teachers were very strict, sometimes bordered on cruel, but he accepted this, and had no illusions about the fate of one who did not give his all into training for the life he had chosen to follow. Death was a constant companion; he embraced it and did not fear.

It was a half days walk to town and the Ferry. His grandfather had always reminded him that a Harlequin must be prepared and never let their guard down; so he grabbed his pack and loaded it with some dried fruit, salted pork, and a canteen of water. On the way out the door he grabbed his throwing knife and sling; snatched up his pack and walked outside. Gobban held up a hand to stop him, "Here, I want you to have this." He said handing him a tube about 3 ft long. His grandfather showed him how to pop the end off the tube. When the top opened a portion of an Ivory handle popped up. He grabbed it and pulled it out of the tube. The handle looked smooth, but actually had very small symbols carved all over it. At the other end of the handle was a thin double edged sword. The blade was constructed of a silver metal, but the surface of the blade appeared white, almost like a china cup and very close to the ivory hilt. "This was passed to me by my teacher, and has served me well. But the time has come for it to be wielded by another."

The Ivory sword was said to be one of a set of 10 created by the apprentices of the thirteenth century Japanese priest Masamune. The legend was that the sword absorbed knowledge and skill from the blood of those slain with it, and this knowledge was supposedly passed to its wielder.

Ciaran made it to the ferry in the late afternoon; in time for the last trip across the bay. Approaching the other side he heard the sound of many voices and music. The smell of meat being roasted was in the air. He could see multi-colored lights where the sounds and smell came from. When asked, the ferryman said it was the annual spring festival celebrating planting and hopes for a bountiful harvest.

Ciaran's father was waiting for him on the dock. When he saw that he had the tube containing the ivory sword over his shoulder, he smiled. "I was wondering if that old goat was ever going to pass that thing on. Come, let's get something to eat, there's much we need to discuss."

Ciaran's Irish heritage was very evident. He had thick curly reddish blonde hair, a chestnut complexion and was covered with dark freckles. That and his disarming smile gave him and innocent, boyish look (even later as an adult) which caused many to underestimate him, and allowed him walk inconspicuously in a crowd.

They walked down the main aisle where all the food vendors had set up their tents. Periodically they would stop and sample something from one of the stands. It was the usual fare of roasted meats, fried potatoes, grilled vegetables, and a whole array of desserts.

It was getting late and the crowd had thinned to almost nothing; vendors were closing up their shops and turning out the lights. Ciaran and his Father walked down the midway past the carnival rides which lined the aisle that led out of the carnival and on to the town's Inn. Ciaran heard a shuffling of feet. His father slowed and quickly gave Ciaran a hand sign. His ancestors had developed a system of non-verbal communication; this unique system (mostly hand signs) was taught to their children as they learned to speak, thus making it second nature. His father signed that they were surrounded by multiple enemies and they needed to split up and meet again later. He heard a whistle and then a clang as his father drew his sword and knocked an arrow out of the air. His father quickly signed a time and place to meet and melded into the darkness. Ciaran scanned for an escape route, he heard footsteps from over his right shoulder; several men in black from head to toe, faces covered so only the eyes were visible exited an old bus parked about 15 yards in front and to the left of him. Ciaran ran between the Ferris wheel and Tilt a whirl. Several other men came out from behind the tarp at the back of the rides, blocking his escape route. He leapt on top of the iron fence surrounding the Ferris wheel and leaped towards the ride, grabbed the bottom of one of a car and pulled himself inside. A combination of bullets and arrows beat against the bottom of the car.

Although the bottom of the car protected him, there was no way out. The only way out was up. Ciaran grabbed the roof of the car and pulled himself up. He then jumped up and grabbed the beam above him, swung around it and to his feet on top of it. He ran up the beam to the opposite end of the Ferris wheel. When his pursuers finally saw where he had gone, they moved around to the other end and began shooting at his current position. He jumped up, grabbed another beam, pulled himself up and ran back across to the opposite end; but before they could react again, he leaped to another beam and continued his trip to the top. The Ferris wheel lurched, and he fell, caught the beam below, threw his weight forward and swung around on top of it. The Ferris wheel began to turn. The gunmen ran to the end of the wheel which would bring him around and drop him back within their range again.

Ciaran knew he would only get one chance at this. As taught since he was old enough to understand, he slowed his mind, found his center, scanned the area, and then visualized the path he hoped would get him to safety. He jumped to the other side of the Ferris wheel and ran down the beam directly towards the gunmen. They raised their guns; an arrow hit a beam close to his head. He jumped back across the Ferris wheel and somersaulted off the side. He grabbed a light pole with one hand, planted his foot against its side and swung around the pole. Ciaran let his throwing knife slip down into his hand, and threw it at the closest man with his gun raised. The knife hit him the throat and he went down. Ciaran continued his spin around the pole, pushed off and jumped onto the roof of the operator's shack. He reached up with his right hand and the ivory handle slid into his palm. He somersaulted off the roof into the gunmen's midst.

Ciaran decapitated the first gunmen as he came over the top of him. One of the men in black had an arrow strung and was aimed at him. He hit him in the chest with both feet, heard multiple ribs crack and felt them give way; blood began to run from the archer's mouth and nose. He tucked himself into a ball raised the sword above his head and rolled forward into the next gunmen. The gunman's right arm fell to the ground with the hand still clutching the pistol.

He came up running and ran between two tents and into the trees. The rest of the gunmen looked around at the carnage spread over the midway, and chose not to continue the chase.

Ciaran ran along the tree line following his father's directions. Soon the ground was strewn with bodies and severed limbs. Three cars were burning where the tree line met the roadway. Though he did not see any movement around them he ducked back into the woods. Running through the woods, suddenly he felt a tug at the back of his neck. His feet left the ground as something pulled at him and swung him into the tree limbs. As he reached up to grab the Ivory Sword he felt a hand cover his own and turned to face his father.

He collapsed as the adrenalin left his system, and he realized what had just transpired. Firstblood, his first kill, when confronted, his training had kicked in, his thoughts had become focused on one objective, all other thought and distractions disappeared. There was no satisfaction from the bloodshed, it's what he had been trained for, and was the purpose of his life.

o:O:oo:O:oo:O:oo:O:o

Peter is considered the first Harlequin mentioned in historical documents, and Christ the Traveler under his protection; but Peter denied Christ 3 times after his arrest. Peter's betrayal is regarded as the reason that the Harlequins are bound to protect Travelers till the end of time. The Harlequins were most powerful in the 1300's. The Templars protected pilgrims on the way to the holy land, and went on to protect people who were on spiritual journeys. Because of the Crusades and their travels all over the known world, the Templars made contacts over the whole globe. But they grew too powerful, and controlled too much money. They were considered a threat and so arrested for Heresy, many were burned at the stake; but those still living went underground and continued their duty.

And so it has been down through the years, the Travelers were a source of change in the world. Their influence had brought down Nations. So in the name of stability, the Brethren sought their destruction. The age of communication gave the Brethren the tools to complete this objective. Worldwide more and more security networks were connected together, much of the time without the networks knowing they had been tapped. The Tabula were finally able to find, track, and act quickly. And so the numbers of Harlequins were dwindling. It was surmised that most if not all of the Travelers and Harlequins had been killed.

But something had changed since the incident at the Evergreen Foundation Laboratory. Under the guise of the Evergreen Foundation, the Tabula had created a quantum computer. It used sub-atomic particles instead of the standard binary On/Off system in other computers. Sub-atomic particles travel at or over the speed of light; because of the speed and area covered it was as if there were multiple instances of the same particle. Instead of one instance of the simple on/off binary code they could perform multiple computations at the same time. The boundaries between dimensions become tenuous when traveling at or close to the speed of light. These sub-atomic particles moved so fast they would disappear and then reappear again, actually moving between dimensions. Shortly after the quantum computer had been turned on, the Tabula scientists discovered that binary data, in the form of mathematical calculations, was being sent from another realm. After they replied in the same mathematical form, their new friends sent diagrams and plans for a better quantum computer. Whoever they were, they conspired with the Brethren track a traveler's passage through the realms, so they too could cross over to our realm. In their quest for control of mankind, the Tabula were giving them everything they needed, without concern of the consequences

But with the destruction of the quantum computer by a Harlequin named Maya and a Traveler named Gabriel, the plans had been given major set back. Since then more and more men and women who were possible travelers were being discovered. And after 700 years, the world wide network of Harlequins was re establishing itself. Though their numbers had dwindled, they were not extinct. Their efforts to hide from the Great Machine had also hid them from each other.

Hollis Wilson was a Martial Arts instructor Maya had hired as a mercenary. Since the destruction of the quantum computer, he had been working with the French Harlequin, Linden, to set up a support network. With money he received from Linden, Hollis would open a Martial Arts school. The school was then turned over to the most promising and loyal students. A paper trail was created in which there was nothing the Great Machine could find that would connect the school to Harlequins or Travelers.

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Ciaran's first contact in the US was with a school Hollis had opened in Indianapolis IN. Contacts there had provided him with a 1970 Nova. It wasn't much to look at but it did have a V8 and new tires all around. An added bonus was an air conditioner that worked and an 8 track tape player. The glove box had even been full of 8 track tapes.

Carmen, a young Hispanic student, now owner of school, drove Ciaran from Indianapolis to an empty barn a few miles south of Penfield IL. They had loaded the Nova into the back of a U-Haul truck. That way the Nova would not appear on the grid till the last minute. There would be no evidence of the car coming into the area, only leaving. They timed their arrival so they would exit the Interstate after dark, about 15 minutes later they arrived at the barn. Carmen jumped out of the truck and motioned Ciaran to get into the driver's seat, he opened the barn door and Ciaran drove the truck inside.

Ciaran backed the Nova out of the truck. Carmen had brought some sandwiches and drinks in a cooler. They relaxed and ate. Carmen told Ciaran he would wait at the barn until he had the girl out and they were on their way to Toronto. But Ciaran would have none of it, "As soon as we finish eating, I want you to take off. If I need help getting back out, you won't be able to help me. It would take an army to get us out. Turn off the voice mail on your phone, and do not answer it when it rings. When we are safely out and on our way, I will call you three times. It will ring twice, then three times, and then twice again. If it doesn't ring, tell Mom to not wait up."

Carmen snickered; it was just enough humor to cut the tension. Twenty minutes later Ciaran opened the barn door. The U-Haul pulled out and headed back to the highway. He closed the door sat down and crossed his legs. He looked deep inside, found his center and closed his eyes. He wouldn't fall asleep but after meditating a couple hours, he would be as refreshed as if had slept all night.

o:O:o:o:O:o:o:O:o:o:O:

Ciaran was headed north on Illinois Route 1. The interstate had too many surveillance cameras, so they took blacktop roads and two lane highways as long as they could. Carmen had put some clothes in a bag that he thought might not be as conspicuous. For the girl there were some white chinos and a red "Rush Baby on Board" T shirt. Ciaran found a pair of painters' pants (with paint already splashed on them), a tank top that read, "Guns don't kill people, it's the dang bullet that kills em," and a Fighting Illini ball cap.

o:O:o:o:O:o:o:O:o:o:O:

Adrian punched #3 speed dial on his phone. "This better be good Lister, I've got a Press Conference at 9am."

"Sorry Senator Durbin, but I'm going to need your help. We had an intruder last night, and our house guest is gone. They left a big mess too. I've checked securities video but nothing out of the ordinary shows up till the end. The time stamp shows it was running continuously but there is nothing on the tape except the sentry doing his rounds, that is till the end." Senator Durbin snapped, "Well what was it? What did show up?"

"Well Senator, the camera is situated at the end of the corridor so it can cover the stairwell and the length of the hallway. Two sentries come out of the weapons room. They turn away from the camera and walk up the hallway. They stop and draw their pistols. At this point Senator there is nothing else in the hallway, so one might assume they had heard something. Then there was a blur on the screen, it came toward the camera and then away from it. Both guards are dead; they were decapitated by whatever created the blur. By the time stamp I figure it was just couple minutes before I hit the alarm. I'm going to replay it again, hopefully I find how the tape was doctored and get a clue to what happened. The only thing is, they only had a few minutes to do what ever was done to the tape. In the meantime, if you could have your State Boys looking out for the girl it would be a great help. She left at 4:55 am. So the search should spread out from the facility accordingly."

Senator Dick Durbin, though a master at evading the issue, got right to the point, "Adrian, this girl could undo us all. Her mother was a great influence on Ronald Reagan. If not for him this country would be Socialist by now. That woman helped cause the downfall of one of the greatest nations the world has ever known. Within eight years, her influence helped Reagan take the USSR from the mightiest Nation in the world to a 3rd world country." Still fuming, Durbin wouldn't let Lister get another word in, "That set our plans back decades and this latest fiasco of Evergreen's, well lets just say……. The buck is going to stop somewhere, and it won't be here!" The Senator takes a deep breath and then coughs. "I'll get Lieutenant Hayes to call you within the hour. You can co-ordinate everything with him."

Adrian knew better than to voice his own opinions on the Senator's choice of staff at Evergreen. "Yes Sir, thank you for all your help Sir." Adrian knew his job and did whatever it took to get it done, but the people he worked with on a daily basis, made everything so much harder than it needed to be. The Tabula had the power and resources to accomplish almost anything. What they didn't outright control they could extort, and manipulate; but time and time again a Traveler and his Harlequin guardian would throw a monkey wrench into the works. They would unravel plans that thousands of people had worked on for decades. Shit, what he couldn't accomplish, with a staff with that drive, resources and motivation. If they weren't such a pain in the ass, he could probably admire them. But nah, he'd much rather feed'em to the splicers.

The end of Chapter one

This was a blast to write.
I hope you enjoyed reading it.

I plan on letting my imagination really roam, after reading chapter two, you'll find out just how far.
There will be lots of violence and gore, so if you don't like that sort of thing, well too bad.