HAVING HIS BODY reduced to subatomic particles and shot through space at light speeds had taken a toll on Miles. The physical stress of time travel was cumulative, and he’d experienced more missions than any CIA agent in the Department of Historic Intervention (DHI). The uncontrolled twitching of his muscles and burning sensation on his skin had subdued shortly after returning, but the medical recovery team refused to release him, erring on the side of caution.
The reentry facility in Langley, Virginia was designed for prolonged recuperations, and Miles’ recovery room looked more like an extended stay apartment than a medical facility. On one side of the bright, open space was a holographic 3-D video system. TV programs and movies could be projected into the room in three dimensions, giving the appearance of live onstage performances.
A massive picture window was positioned on the other side of the room. From the outside, passersby saw a ten-foot-high reflective glass. From the inside, Miles could select real-time panoramic views of anything from Niagara Falls to waves crashing on shore at Waikiki Beach. A sunny, snow-topped Colorado mountain was currently displayed.
Confined to the facility for five days, Miles was beyond restless and on his way to agitated. Even with all the hi-tech distractions, he’d had enough and was pacing the room like a captured leopard.
He hadn’t been told anything about Terri King’s recent assignment, and the thought of his former partner being sent decades into the past on another dangerous mission was eating at him. His daily demands to be told her whereabouts had been ignored.
Miles had never erased the hopeless look on Terri’s face as she was forced into the time capsule at the end of their first mission. He was unable to do anything to save her. He could only hope that Terri made it back to Langley safely, but he never knew for sure until he finally returned earlier this week.
He’d learned it had been nearly a week since she re-entered the time capsule, departing the safety of DHI headquarters, and on her way to anther destination in the past.
Miles faced the holographic TV and shouted, “Get Dr. Jones, now!”
A Now Dialing icon spun across the room as Miles waited for a response.
The door opened, and Dr. Jones stepped inside wearing his customary red tie, white shirt and blue blazer with the gold DHI logo sewn over the left pocket.
“Getting a little anxious?” he asked.
“You’ve got that right,” Miles replied. “I can’t believe you’re letting me just sit here.”
“You’ve been on two missions in a short period of time. It’s all precautionary.”
“I feel fine!”
“Actually, I just looked at your medical report, and the doctors agree.”
“It’s about time. Now tell me where Terri is, and get me the hell out of here.”
Dr. Jones paused.
“I’m not sure her mission is a fit for you.”
“We’ve been through this,” Miles snapped. “I don’t care what the mission’s about or where it is. You can’t tell me the odds of success wouldn’t be better with me as her partner.”
“She already has a partner.”
Miles glare intensified.
“Dr. James Brock was hand-selected from two dozen highly-qualified candidates. He prepared alongside Dr. King for two months for this assignment.”
“What makes this Brock guy so perfect?”
“For one thing, he’s a top researcher in viral microbiology, knowledge vital to this mission.”
Miles resumed pacing before turning back to Dr. Jones. “So what are you saying, only doctors are to be sent on this assignment?”
“The DHI is working another case. We’ll be selecting agents for this new mission in a couple months. You’re much better suited for that assignment.”
Miles clenched his jaw and stepped toward Jones before stopping short. He wanted to grab Dr. Jones by his lapels and lift him off the floor.
“It’s not an option. You know that I have to go.”
“And you know that personal needs don’t play a role in who’s assigned to missions.”
“Our relationship wasn’t an issue on our first assignment, and it won’t be on this one. Either you agree to send me, or my role here is over.”
Dr. Jones slowly shook his head as he studied Miles. He knew Miles wasn’t bluffing, and the ultimatum left him without an option.
“They’ve been sent to 2032,” Dr. Jones said. “To head off the Sydney attack.”
“Not the Death Games?” Miles asked, his tone serious.
Dr. Jones nodded.
The 34th Summer Olympiad was known as the Death Games. It never was determined how a rapidly spreading strain of the smallpox virus was introduced, but it resulted in more than 10,000 fatalities, including scores of athletes and spectators. Sydney, and eventually the entire continent of Australia, was quarantined for more than a year before the epidemic could be brought under control.
“Dr. King has assumed a position in the World Health Organization,” Jones continued. “Brock has been assigned to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.”
“Couldn’t you just transport them back with a vaccine?” Miles asked.
“The smallpox virus in Sydney was intentionally released, and it had been genetically altered, possibly combined with other viral contaminants. That strain of the virus no longer exists, nor does a vaccine that would control it.”
Miles frowned, weighing Dr. Jones’ response.
“If this Brock is such a hotshot scientist, why can’t he just whip up another vaccine after he arrives?”
“That’s possible, but it would take time to get his hands on a sample of the virus in order to develop the serum. Thousands would die before given the vaccine. The objective of their mission is to find the source of the virus before it’s released in Sydney.”
“So, what have you got for me? Where do I fit in?
“We’ll create an opening on the International Security Organization assigned to the games. You’ll fill in for a senior CIA officer.”
“Fine. When do I start?”
“I’ll get you a briefing package this afternoon. In the meantime, you might as well stay here and rest up.”
Miles picked up a remote controller and clicked off the mountain scene from the massive screen.“If it’s all the same to you, I’d like to get some real sunlight.”