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 had experienced more missions than any agent in the CIA’s Department of Historic Intervention (DHI). The medical recovery team was erring on the side of caution following his recent assignment.
The reentry room at DHI headquarters in Langley, Virginia was designed for prolonged recuperations, looking more like an extended stay apartment than a time travel recovery room. On one side of the bright, spacious room 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 room 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 newly captured lion.
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 a dangerous mission was eating at him. His daily demands to join her had been ignored.
His time at the recovery facility would put him in catch-up mode if and when he was sent to reconnect with Terri. Nearly a week had passed since she stepped into the time capsule, departing the safety of DHI headquarters.
Miles faced the holographic TV and shouted, “Get Dr. Jones, now!”
A Now Dialing holographic icon spun across the room as the call went out to the DHI director.
As Miles waited for a response, the door opened. Dr. Jones stepped into the room wearing his customary red tie, white shirt and blue blazer with the gold DHI logo 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, Miles. 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 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 the new mission in a couple months. You’re much better suited for that assignment.”
Miles clenched his jaw. 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 mission, and it won’t be on this one. Either you agree to send me, or my role as a DHI agent is over.”
Dr. Jones shook his head as he studied Miles. He knew Miles wasn’t bluffing. The ultimatum left him without an option.
“They’ve been sent to 2032,” Dr. Jones said. “To Sydney.”
“Not the Death Games?” Miles asked, his voice rising.
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 caused 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,” Dr. 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 frown displayed his disbelief.
“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. Once infected, there’s no cure for smallpox. 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?
“You’ll be working for the International Security Organization assigned to the games, filling 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.”