The Heart of the Team

Chapter One

A woman wandered through the dark, cold, and damp land. Two men followed behind her carrying weapons, despite the woman's assurance that they were not necessary. There weren't many animals or other creatures around, except the harmless ones that remained at the bottom of the bodies of water throughout the land. There were no other humans around because humans were yet to evolve in this period.

Helen Cutter and her hired guns wandered only a short distance from the phenomenon that brought them to this other time; an anomaly. It was a portal on the Earth that connected to another time.

Helen used these anomalies to gather information on both past and future periods on the Earth so that she would be able to soon stop evolution in its tracks in order to save the Earth from human made pollution, wars, pain, and suffering. No one knew of her true motives. If they had, no one would agree to help her.

She grew closer and closer to her goal daily ever since she had murdered her own husband, Nick. She had devoted her time, abilities, and resources to discovering how to do it. All she needed was the artifact. This was the device which she had discovered through an anomaly that led to the future. However, at the time when she had access to it, it was stolen from her by her husband the day she killed him.

The artifact was now in the hands of the ARC team, whom she knew were still struggling to discover what it was capable of as well. Helen's trip through this anomaly was a way to collect a sample of something that would give her a way to get ahold of it once again.

When Helen reached the shallow edge of the sea, she knelt down as she pulled out a test tube from the backpack she carried on her back. She took a cotton swab from the tube and reached into the water to collect a sample of the algal and bacterial substance that covered the sea floor.

When she was finished, Helen gently placed the test tube back inside her bag and stood to join her men. Together, the three of them walked back to where the anomaly shimmered like diamonds in the sky and stepped back through to their own time.

Meanwhile…

It was very early in the morning and the ARC was quiet. Everyone was still at home asleep, except for Connor. He sat inside Nick Cutter's office where the artifact was held. Connor was looking over the device, still struggling with how to turn it on.

Weeks ago, he and Sarah managed to do so for only a few seconds using light somehow. However, he had no idea how to repeat the process. The more he worked on it, the more frustrated he became. Mainly, because he felt he was letting the professor down. Surely he would have figured it out by now if Helen hadn't have murdered him.

Connor was angry with himself that he didn't try harder to save him. He reached him before he died. If only he had continued to carry him out instead of listening to Cutter when his mentor told him to just sit with him.

Abby, Danny, Sarah, and even Becker did all they could to assure him that he had no reason to blame himself and most of the time he was able to push these angry feelings down and believe them, but after days like yesterday, he was more vulnerable to them.

They had just come back through an anomaly that brought them to a future that was ugly and terrifying, full of monsters that they had decided to call predators since there was no official name for something that didn't exist yet and giant insect like creatures. There were no humans left in existence.

All of them made it back alive and in one piece and then Abby kissed him after all that. For a brief time, he felt at peace and truly happy, but she had yet to give him permission to move back into her flat. So, he was still homeless. Living with Lester was miserable, although he was still somewhat grateful to have somewhere to stay. It was better than nothing.

The peaceful feeling from Abby's kiss didn't last long after she left to go home. He was left alone with his thoughts from that day. He was terrified that if he couldn't find a way to get the artifact to work, the future they had seen would come to pass and it would be his fault. So, Connor stayed with the artifact and looked over all of Professor Cutter's work that survived the fire Helen had caused in the ARC months ago.

Connor had lost track of the time, until Danny suddenly walked up from behind him. The moment Danny placed his hand gently on Connor's shoulder, Connor jumped ten feet in the air. If it weren't for seeing how exhausted the young man was, Danny would have laughed at how funny he looked a moment ago.

"Connor, did you not go home to get any sleep last night at all?" Danny asked. "What's wrong?"

"It's nothing," Connor replied as he turned around again to keep scanning through the books in front of him. "I just had too much on my mind to sleep. You may not know what it's like, but believe me, there are times when I wish that I wasn't a genius. There would be a lot less pressure. Cutter would have figured out the artifact by now. Now it is my turn to do it. What if I can't and that future happens? It will be my fault."

Danny grabbed Connor by his shoulders and turned the young man around to face him as he responded, "Connor, listen to me. What we saw in that future has not happened yet and it isn't going to happen. You don't have to wear yourself out day after day to work on it alone. We will figure out how to stop it together."

Connor put his head down and answered, "I hope your right. Please don't tell Abby about this. There's no need to worry her more."

"You have my word," Danny replied. "Now, how are things between you and Abby again? I take it things are much better since that kiss the two of you shared yesterday."

"I am not really sure," Connor said. "I mean, I am not always so good at reading her. What if she only kissed me as a way of saying thank you or sorry? What if it didn't mean anything? How am I…?"

Danny interrupted, "Connor, relax! You and Abby have something special. You just need to admit to her how you feel about her. I think that it what she is waiting for."

Connor responded, "That's easy for you to say. I'd better get back to work before Lester comes in and yells at me for something. Thank you, Danny."

Danny was about to say something in response, until all of a sudden Connor's anomaly detector began to go off and people began to run around the ARC in frenzy. He and Connor ran over to the computer and as soon as they had figured out the anomaly's location, they quickly called in the rest of the team.