These are the letters written by Dr. Aemaren Colby Decker. Some of them were sent, some never will be (those that are unsent currently live tucked into her journal).
7 October 2008
Dear Grant –
I wish my departure wasn’t going to be so abrupt. I wish that I’d been able to help you with finding your wife. I wish a lot of things, but right now no one seems inclined to be granting those wishes.
We’re leaving in a couple days for Borneo. After that, I’m not sure where we’ll be going. We’re off to save the world, maybe. Snatch hope from the grasp of the ultimate evil. Something crazy like that. Everything these days is crazy. Been that way since I left Germany. No. Since before I left Germany. Since the storms. Since New York. Since communications went down with Indonesia. Since everything changed.
Someone very, very bad has something we may need very, very badly. I’m not sure if they can use it as a weapon or not. Caspar said it amplified hope. Or something. I’ve really no idea what to think of it, other than that we can’t let them find a way to corrupt it—this monster and whatever he works for. I won’t let him take my world away., whatever’s left of what I knew. There’s not much. Pockets here and there.
I wish I could leave you a way to contact me, so I know how it all turned out, if it turned out at all. If you even survived whatever cockamamie scheme you came up with after you threw yourself out into the desert. There’s not really one to give, though. US military communications aren’t quite what they could be since shit hit the fan, and I’m not really sure that you’d know what a cellular phone was if one hit you in t head (not that mine is ever in service anyway—I keep it turned off most of the time, now because it’s not). If you want to try with the military, though, I can’t say that you wouldn’t have any luck—who knows? You might. You’ll want to earmark any messages for Captain Aemaren Colby, United States Marine Corps. Who knows? Might even get them eventually.
Please keep your eyes open for my little brother. I don’t know if your Allison had any brothers, but if she did, I’d imagine that her youngest brother might look like Zach—if we’re right, anyway, and I’m her mirror. Either way, he looks a lot like me. I think he might be with the Knives of Artemis. Of course, he might not be. I’ve no idea. I don’t even know why he’s working with any of them. He shouldn’t even be here. He should be back in the States, with Megs and Beth and our parents.
And I’m rambling and saying things that aren’t important and that you don’t need to know. And yet I can’t bring myself to cross out the words.
God, I hate myself.
Be safe. I hope you get this. I’m sorry I couldn’t help you this time—come find me if there’s a time I can help. If there’s not something of world-ending importance going on, I’ll come. I owe you that much. Maybe more.
I hope you find her, Grant. I really do.
10 May 2009
Doc Savage –
I write this knowing that I may never get to send it, or that it may reach you after I’m dead. This line of work doesn’t seem very conducive to a long life, and recent events have more than certainly driven that home for me. But it needs to be written, and hopefully it will make it to you in time to make some kind of difference—or something.
It was my fault, really. He’s tried to teach me before to be aware of my surroundings and I…well. The lessons took all too late, I guess. If he makes it back, tell him I’m sorry, too. He’ll understand. If he doesn’t, then you can blame me for all of it. I know I’ve cost you trusted comrades, able hands. For that I hope you can forgive me. I’ll try my damnedest to keep Mable out of too much trouble. I owe all of you that much.
At the time of my writing, we’re somewhere well north of you, near the border between Earth and Tharkold. If we by some miracle make it out of Tharkold alive, we may head southeast, to the Levant and the Persian Gulf, hopefully to locate the remnants of the First Fleet. If we manage to survive what we’re walking into in Tharkold, anyway. It’s a trap. I know it’s a trap. I think we all do. But there’s nothing we can do about it—we need to go there if we’re going to unravel the mystery of what this is all about, and stop Odette/Odyle from doing whatever she’s set out to do.
She betrayed us, Odette. She calls herself Odyle now, and she’s at least nominally working for the pope. I’m still trying to figure out at what point she betrayed us, if she was ever an ally at all. The Wraith seems to be something of a wild card in the whole mess—I’m still trying to sort that one out.
It’s just a grand mess.
We’ve managed to rescue Frederico DeSoto from the papal forces in Avignon, but not without a price. Marcus is still in Odyle’s hands. I’m not sure if he’s alive or dead. Grace took the news hard. What am I supposed to do, though? There’s nothing I can do at this point. Just chase down Odyle and hope that I fare better against her this time than I did the last time. Last time I had an ace in the hole. This time I’m not going to be so lucky.
I’m rambling, and rambling in ways I shouldn’t. There’s things I need to tell you in this letter, in all the letters I’ll write and maybe never send, that haven’t yet been said.
If you can get in touch with him, you may find an ally in my brother, Andrew. If you can somehow manage to communicate with him, please let him know how I am either way, and let him know everything that I will write to tell you. If this has come to you and I am gone, please see that my journal gets to him. As of this writing, I do not know the disposition of either Theodore or Zachary, so I cannot trust either of them with the book or the information it contains.
I know I ask a great deal from someone who’s already paid a high price for association with me, with my allies, but I have very few friends and of them, I think I trust you furthest.
The situation in Aysle is unstable at best. When we left England, Tolwyn hadn’t regained consciousness after a particularly nasty battle over control of London. I’m still not sure what her status is. The Fey have left this plane of existence and now lick their wounds in the Realm of Magic—Amarant gave up his corporeality for sake of being a boundary between that world and this one. Hopefully that will stabilize the situation in England and Scandinavia, but the hope of that is faint, especially if Tolwyn doesn’t recover quickly. There didn’t seem to be anything I could do for her, though, at the time we left.
The pope has called a crusade and ordered a march on Tharkold. They’ll likely be slaughtered, but I can hope I’m wrong. There is some confusion right now within Avignon itself—one of my compatriots caused a panic in the city when he killed one of the pope’s supporters during the speech. We were lucky to escape alive. He did not.
The death toll is high, Savage. Of the people I was with when you met us, only Grace and I are still at it. Tyche decided to remain in the Realm of Magic with the rest of her people. I’ve already told you what happened to Amarant. Rei died shortly after we left Egypt, in Indonesia. Odette betrayed us. It’s been difficult, at best, these past few months.
Before I forget, return correspondence can be routed through Cincinnatus. Hopefully you’ll understand the reference; I dare not be more clear. Not yet, anyway. Of course, this assumes I get to send the letter and that I’m still alive when it reaches you.
The Gaunt Man is currently trapped in the heart of a maelstrom—a miniature reality storm, if you can believe it. Thratchen is running things while his “master” is indisposed. I’m not sure if this information would mean anything to you, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t pass it along.
The Red Hood proved to be a valuable help to us in escaping France. I hope that someday we can return the favor she did for someone in bailing us out. I’m not sure who the favor was for, but it was an appreciated and timely repayment of a debt.
If Grant makes it back to you, please tell him I’m sorry. I’m sure if he comes home, he’ll tell you more than I have.
I’m just…broken. I’m so, so sorry. I should have been paying attention to where I was standing. I shouldn’t…I shouldn’t have been where I was. I wasn’t thinking. I wish I had been. Maybe if I had been, this wouldn’t have happened, and you’d be fine, and we’d still be fighting over whether or not this is a good time to be talking about something.
Moot point now, huh?
God, why did you run? It just keeps bothering me, nagging me. Why did you run? You didn’t have to run. We would have taken care of you.
Or is that what you didn’t want?
But now I worry, and I wonder. I wonder if you’ll survive to read this letter someday, if it ever reaches you. I wonder if I’ll still be alive if and when you get to read it. I’m going to try to stop making mistakes, but we both know that’s easier said than done. I’ve been stupid about you almost since we met. Of course, that doesn’t change how I feel.
I love you, too.
I’ll take care of Mable as best I can. We both know she’s not going to listen to me. But I’ll do what I can, like I always do. Hopefully she’ll make it back to Doc Savage in one piece.
Be careful, be safe.