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The Dharma Papers: Chap. 18 "A Gathering in the Desert"

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The five enter SSI's main lab under the desert. At one time, they all led vastly diverse lives but, due to fate, circumstance, destiny, or maybe a combination of all three, they found themselves gathered to face their future. A future that was as mysterious as the circumstances they now found themselves in. A future that may be very short or not even exist. Aaron Littleton, Clementine Phillips, Ji-Yeon Kwon, Charlie Hume, and Megan Pace are escorted, still at gunpoint, by Julian Carlson and Eva Jarrah, into a Geodesic sphere that contained a plethora of instruments, charts, graphs, computers, and monitoring systems that lined the circular wall. In the very center of the lab, stood an Archimedean spiral container that held the hyperbolic obelisk, "The Shell" that still seemed to gently fade in and out of existence. In front of the shell, was some kind of vertical gurney and in front of the gurney was a foam padded chair with safety straps. Julian directed the group to "take a seat" as he pointed to some leather chairs off to the side, arranged in the form of the Greek letter pi. "Okay, Carlson," Aaron said, "What is going to happen to us now?" "Be patient, Mr. Littleton," Julian replied, "All will soon be explained to you by Mr. X, himself." In through a side door walked Walt Dawson, with a look of anticipation on his face. "Do you have the documents with you?" he asks Julian. Julian nods then turns to Eva. "Give him the papers," he commands. Eva reaches into a belt pack, pulls out the document tube and hands it to Dawson. Dawson hurriedly takes out the papers, unfurls them, then studies them, turning over page after page until he comes across what he apparently wanted. "Yes. Yes, this is it!" he said gleefully. "Hey! Sorry to interrupt your little paper party, Erkel," Clementine says, "But are you or are you not Mr. X?" Dawson looked up at her and smiled. "No, I'm not Mr. X, but I can speak for him." He then turns back to Julian. "Did you bring Shephard?" Julian nods. "Good," Dawson says, "then the experiments can begin on time." "Experiments?! What kind of experiments?" Charlie asks, "and what the hell does any of this have to do with any of us?" As Walt Dawson starts to answer, an elevator door opposite the group, slowly opens. An electrical "whirring" sound is heard. "Oh, God. Not more freaking "spiders"!" Megan says. But exiting the door is an ancient man with long reddish-gray hair and a long gray beard. He is dressed shabbily but he seemed to be alert and in complete control. All watched in silence, as he approached the group. Aaron noticed the man's eyes were clear and bright. "Hello, sir," Julian said, "You'll be happy to know all "cargo" has been delivered and is ready for setup. We also have the Dharma Papers you are seeking." The man smiled and nodded, but said nothing. Walt Dawson then turned to the group. "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Mr. X. I'd like to introduce you to the owner and director of the Syntropic Sciences Institute. Mr. Alvar Hanso!" To be Continued: Next Chap. 19 "The Darkness of the Soul"

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