The explosions have stopped, and in their absence a raw quiet unfolds. The bunker feels empty and cold, as if the people it harbours are already dead and have been for some time. Outside, what looks like snow is falling. It is not snow. Figures lurch past the cameras, sudden ghosts, there then gone. Inga breathes out. Breathes mist. In the confinement of the underground space, she listens to her thoughts detonating one by one.
This is the calm before the storm.
This time—this storm—will be the end.
There is a chance to fix this, but it means breaking everything they believe in. All that they’ve worked and sacrificed to preserve.
“The heating’s gone.”
That’s Toshi, the eldest of them.
Inga looks about the bunker, observing her depleted crew. Only a handful of history’s incumbents remain. Some have died during their travels through time, or have taken their own lives. Most have been buried never knowing the truth about their nature—perhaps they are the lucky ones. Others are yet to be born. Might never be born, now. Those too, she envies. What is left of the House of Janus is a world-weary collective, traumatised by experience and the implausibility of what has happened to them.