When the initial shock of seeing his father faded, Tom said to him "I know why you're here, dad. I know you're here to tell me I've made mistakes in the past month, that I acted without thinking, that I need to understand that all actions no matter how small have consequences. I already know these things! What do you need?"
"Can I have a hug from my son?" Thomas asked. Tom put aside all regrets and hugged him, then walked back to look at the foggy town.
"Did you bring me to the afterlife? Is this... heaven?"
"You have. In Bridgeport, remember? When I was injured, and your spirit guided me to that chest where I found your hat and coat. I needed you then and you helped me."
"No, that is not what I mean. I mean, truly needed me. To guide you through life's pratfalls and misunderstandings, to hold you at your highest and raise you at your lowest. This was my mistake. I deeply apologize for leaving you, me and your mother do, but do not look at our deaths with despair. Our greatest success in life was giving life to you, and our proudest moments beyond the end were watching you from the afterlife as you achieved things no normal man would achieve, but you have only taken your first steps on a greater path."
"What? After all I've done in life these are only the first steps?!" Tom was visibly confused. He had fought supervillains, he witnessed the destruction of a town, he battled a unicorn alien, and yet here his father was telling him that something else was coming. "What's out there, dad? What's going to happen?"
"That is what you are meant to find out, my son. But remember... stand with your friends... with your family. Stand tall with them, and they will help you in your journey. They are your destiny."
"If this is your way of telling me to forgive Annabelle for Andy's death, then that is something I cannot do right now."
"Yes you can."
"No." Tom said, defying his father's spirit. "I will not forgive Annabelle until Andy herself tells me to!"
"Did I hear my name?"
Tom turned around and saw Andy standing next to her father, adorned in a heavenly white dress. She was as beautiful to him as she was in life, even more so. Thomas stepped back to allow the two to speak to each other. "Andy. I'm so sorry... I'm so sorry you had to die."
"I wanted to save you, Tom." Andy said. "You need to forgive Annabelle, she had nothing to do with my death. The other half of me was going to find me eventually, she was going to kill me or I her and both of us were going to fall anyway. I'm just glad I went out saving someone I love. Forgive Annabelle, Tom. She needs you. I am your past, she is your future."
Tom smiled. Andy was there, in front of him. She was telling him everything he wanted to hear. Then he had a more serious tone in his voice. "Andy, I need you to tell me something. What were you talking about? What did I come to Starlight Shores for?!"
Andy walked over to Tom and hugged him, and then whispered into his ear. "You need to listen to your youngest friend some more. She knows what she doesn't know."
With that cryptic saying, Andy stepped back towards Thomas. "I am your past. Remember me in passing but do not dwell. Be with her. Be friends, be lovers. Just be with her."... Andy then faded away, leaving the father and son alone once more.
"I should be getting back myself." Thomas said, "I can't stay here all the time. We will talk again, my son, make no mistake on that. And remember, I love you. I always will."
Tom smiled. His father told him he loved him. That was something he'd waited a lifetime to hear, and the words filled him with a feeling he hadn't felt in over a month. "I love you too, dad." Tom then thought over something. "Dad, can I ask you something? How do I know this isn't all just a dream? How do I know you and Andy really did visit me?"
Thomas looked at him. "You don't know that, Tommy. Then again, what is a dream?" Then, he vanished, and Tom found himself bathed in a white light.
Tom sat up in bed, breathing heavily. He was still reeling from that dream, unable to fall back asleep no matter hard he tried. But of everything that happened in the dream, of that entire experience, one thing stuck out in his mind. "Listen to my youngest friend?" He suddenly had an epiphany, then stood up and walked across hall to Keera's room. Keera was the youngest person he knew, and she was definitely his friend. He knocked on the door and Keera opened it a few minutes later, rubbing her eye.
"Tom? What the- it's three in the morning! What are you doing?"
"Oh, the Tomb of Richard Alan Ladeen? It's legend, something about a tomb that is guarded by magic. Why do you need to know this? It's at the graveyard, deep within the Mausoleum.Are you going to go grave robbing or something? What's do damned important about the tomb that you couldn't wait until at least ten AM on a Saturday to ask?!"
"I don't know." Tom said. "I just need to find something out." After this he left the hallway and ran down the stairs, with Keera angrily shutting her door.
"Why couldn't this have waited until the morning?" She asked herself as she tried to go back to bed.
Tom walked to the bathroom to look at himself in the mirror, and realized he hated the scruffiness that he was growing, and preferred his normal look, so he quickly shaved to his normal level of facial hair. After this he walked to his room to grab some clothes, then to his car where he saw Annabelle waiting in the garage.
"Annie? What are you doing here?"
"Where are you off to this time at night, Tom?" Annabelle angrily asked. "On an adventure or something?"
"Something like that, yeah." Tom said. He then climbed into the car and drove off before Annabelle could say anything else. Before he left, however, Tom rolled down the window and said "Wait up for me Annabelle, I'll be back soon." He said it with a slight uplifting tone in his voice, something Annabelle wasn't accustomed to hearing from him lately.
Tom found himself near the graveyard and decided to park nearby and walk the rest of the way. Something was telling him that things weren't right at the place, as graveyards usually didn't have tents placed around them. 'Better stay on my toes.', he thought to himself. Tom snuck around the back of the mausoleum, but saw no one there. He waited a few moments, then crept inside.
"Vazir I thought this excavation was going to take a short time. You promised me!"
"ERROR. THIS UNIT DOES NOT PROMISE ANYTHING. THIS EXCAVATION HAS BEEN HALTED. UNKNOWN ENERGY DETECTED. STAR STONE MUST BE RECOVERED AND REPAIRED BEFORE EXCAVATION CAN CONTINUE."
"Are you kidding me?! Who knows when that Benefactor will bring us the next piece of the puzzle?! We have to get past this barrier NOW!"
"I DO NOT KID. THE BENEFACTOR WILL BRING THE FINAL PIECE OF THE STAR STONE SO WE CAN ASSEMBLE IT BEFORE THE ECLIPSE. THEN THE ARTIFACT WILL BE IN THE POSSESSION OF DR. VU AND YOURSELF. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE, TOBIAS CORVAN."
Suddenly the robot vanished into a beam of light, and Tobias crawled back into the tent.
Tom couldn't believe a syllable of what he had just heard. Dr. Vu? He was sure that man died in Sunset Valley nine years before. And there was something about a Benefactor? Tom knew the only villain who used the Benefactor title was Jack Toomes and he was in prison.
Tom climbed out of the coffin and investigated the guard, who didn't seem to be injured by the attack, but was still knocked out. He quickly took the guard's helmet out and then stammered back; The guard had blank red eyes, like he was some sort of advanced machine. The impact from the coffin lid must have damaged his internal circuitry, and Tom realized he had to get out of there before the android rebooted itself and alterted the rest of them. Dropping the helmet, Tom half-ran, half-snuck out of the mausoleum and ran to his car when he was out of there, driving back home.
When he got there he ran up the stairs and knocked quietly on the door to Kelly and Mirabelle's room. Kelly came out of the bedroom and, seeing Tom in a state of distress, was about to ask what was wrong before he said "I think Dr. Vu's still alive, Kelly."
"Thanks Davis." Kelly said, then pressed "end" on her cell phone. She and Tom were downstairs in the study hall, having gone to a different room to prevent waking anyone up from their conversation. "I just got off the phone with Davis Cambridge at the Sunset Valley PD. He disclosed to me that there was a report of stolen robotics designs from the Landgraab Industries Science Facility about three months ago."
"So what do we do now?" Tom asked. "We can't exactly sit around waiting for them to find whatever they are looking for in that tomb. It could be bad, astronomically bad."
Kelly shrugged, then said "Well until we have more information, that's pretty much all we can do at the moment. But don't worry, I'm going to call Davis again tomorrow and maybe the two of us can knock heads together until we figure out a battle plan. Until then, just sit and relax. Maybe chat with someone, like... I don't know... Annabelle?"
Tom smiled back at her, then left the room. He knew what he had to do, and hoped she was still awake.
Keera overheard the conversation between Tom and Kelly and decided to do a little research of her own. She quickly walked over to her computer, looked up the tomb Tom was talking about, and after a few short minutes quickly found a picture of the rumored artifact that was within it. Keera realized that the book she reading recently had been telling her something, and the information from the book led her right to a site. It was only a matter of printing the picture out, framing it, and posting it on the wall so she could show everyone when they woke up.
"What's going on, Tom?" Annabelle asked. She noticed he was a bit wily when he had left earlier that night, far removed from his usual dismal attitude which he had displayed recently. Tom walked into her room, trying to find the words to get across whatever he was trying to say.
Annabelle stood there, trying to take all this information in. She didn't really expect to hear Tom say all this.
"And most of all, I am so, so sorry for everything I've said to you, especially at the graveyard. I was hurting and sad, and depressed. But now I've seen the error of my ways! This may sound crazy but I talked to my father, and Andy, and they both basically told me to accept what happened in the past and go on with my future. That is why I knocked on the door, and that's why I wanted to tell you I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, and that's why I am hoping, deep down in my heart, my blood, my SOUL, that you will forgive me for being such a cold-hearted a-hole. Please forgive me, Annabelle."
Annabelle walked over to him and looked into his eyes. "I need to apologize myself. I am sorry I acted that way towards Andy when I did, Tom. And if you ever want to go on, find someone else, I will never interfere in any relationship of yours, no matter how much I care for you." Annabelle then took his hand in hers, and smiled.
"But for tonight, stay here with me."
"What?" Tom was baffled. She accepted his apologies so quickly, and apologized herself for the way she acted in the past, and this quickly afterward she wanted to... "I can't. Not so soon-"
"No, Tom. I want you to." Annabelle looked lovingly into his eyes. "For just tonight, and we can be like it never happened tomorrow, just like France." Annabelle acted like she wanted to kiss him, but he didn't let her, no matter how much he wanted to. He was worried about ruining the friendship the two had just repaired, and this would cause more troubles in the long run, like what happened with France.
"No, we can't do this. It will be a mistake." Tom said, and after looking in her eyes, started to walk out of Annabelle's room. Suddenly he felt a hand in his, pulling him back towards the center.
Tom nodded without thinking, and the two walked to the bed. He decided to take Kelly's advice and not think about the whole thing he'd heard in the tomb, and to not tell Annabelle about it until the next day.
Dr. Vu sat in the tomb, looking at the star-shaped lock that separated him from his goal with anger on his scarred face. He was literally feet from reaching the artifact, but couldn't for another two weeks. Corvan, who was watching him sit there while himself sitting at a blackjack table he had brought into the tomb to pass the time, was wondering something.
"So I never understood, why did you try to destroy Sunset Valley nine years ago? I was a mere teen living in Bridgeport when I heard that news."
Dr. Vu blankly looked at him. "I wanted to show the military base at Sunset Valley the power I had. They denied my father everything they promised him when his gravity device went haywire eleven years before, and he slowly died off because he had nothing to his name. I even remember the letter that was sent to him by someone I hate and was believed to be dead. I remember the letter to the syllable."
"Dear Dr. Khan Vu..."
"While we commend you on your recent completion on Project Gravity, we are unable to proceed with development, and as such must cease all production on the device. Your recent test in Sunset Valley resulted in the destruction of a home belonging to a single mother..."
"Commander Thomas Richard Jameson
Sunset Valley Military, R&D Department"