Einstein was the first to theorize
that mass, or people, couldn’t travel at light speeds. Mass would become energy. It took nearly 100
years after Einstein’s death for someone to discover a process for transforming
mass into a form capable time travel. Time
machines where designed to convert mass into protons for passage across time and
then convert them back to mass upon arrival.
Protons can’t think, yet Miles firmly believed he had
thoughts, or maybe dreams, during his trips from one decade to the next. Even as he was being propelled across time,
his vision of Terri was vivid. She greeted
him, arms extended, smile bright. She
stood tall and moved with elegant, athletic lines.
Time travel took picoseconds but seemed like hours,
even days. Without his body to limit what his mind imagined, everything seemed
possible. Miles wondered what it would be like to be suspended indefinitely
passing through time. He decided that existing
only as thoughts was euphoric, but thinking wasn’t as satisfying as doing.
Hope sustained Miles during his last time travel mission:
hope of Terri making it safely back to Langley and hope of them reuniting. If she was safe, then their feelings for each
other would also be safe, or so he thought.
Miles heard the doors of the time capsule snap open
and felt the rush of fresh air filling the cabin. He squinted as his eyes adjusted to the
florescent light of the reentry room.
He could see Dr. Jones, standing stone faced outside
the capsule door. He scanned the space
before him, but there was no sign of Terri.
Miles had successfully completed two missions since
leaving Langley. To Dr. Jones and others
at CIA headquarters, Miles had only been gone only a few months. To Miles, it had been nearly a year since
he’d seen his former partner.
Where is she?
HIS BODY 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 two days 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 hotel 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 onstage performances.
A massive picture window was positioned on the opposite
side of the room. From the outside,
passersby saw a ten-foot-high reflective glass.
From the inside, Miles could select live panoramic views of anything
from Niagara Falls to waves crashing on shore at Waikiki Beach. A sunny, snow-topped Colorado mountain was currently
Confined to the facility the past 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.
After reentry to Langley, Miles was given a note. He’d
read it dozens of times during his recuperation, committing it to memory. He took the worn paper from his pocket, unfolded
it, and read it again.
If you’re reading this, you’re
safely home and I’m relieved. Waiting for you to return was driving me
crazy. I’ve never loved a man enough to
worry this much, and I don’t know if I can do it now.
I’ve asked to be assigned to the
next DHI mission. I need the diversion and time to think. I do love you, but I
can’t live my life in constant despair.
He hadn’t been told anything about Terri King’s recent
assignment. 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 informed of her whereabouts had been
ignored, further building his frustrations.
The hopeless look on Terri’s face as she was forced
into the time capsule at gunpoint had never left Miles’ mind. He was unable to do anything to save her and could
only hope that Terri made it back to 2050 and to Langley safely.
Miles stuffed the rumpled paper back into his pocket
and turned toward the holographic TV.
“Get Dr. Jones, now!” he shouted.
A Now Dialing icon spun across the room as Miles waited for a
Seconds later the door opened, and Jones stepped inside
wearing his customary attire: red tie,
white shirt and blue blazer with the gold DHI logo sewn over the breast pocket.
“Getting a little anxious?” he asked.
believe you’re letting me just sit here,” Miles replied.
“You’ve been on two missions over 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.”
Jones paused, studying Miles.
“I’m not sure this 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 thirty
highly-qualified candidates. He prepared
alongside Dr. King for two months for this assignment. They work well together and have
“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 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 the 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
him by his lapels and lift him off the floor.
an option. You know that I have to
“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
Jones slowly shook his head as he looked at Miles. He’d known Miles long enough to tell he wasn’t
bluffing. The ultimatum left him without an option.
“They’ve been sent to 2032,” Jones said. “To head
off the Sydney attack.”
“Not the Death Games?” Miles asked, the venue
startling even him.
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. “Dr. Brock has been assigned to the Centers for
Disease Control in Atlanta.”
“Couldn’t you just transport them back with a vaccine?”
“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, not understanding all he just herard.
“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 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, 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 who will be called away.”
“Fine. When can 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 view from the massive screen.
“If it’s all the same to you, I’d like to get some real sunlight.”