ADVENTURES THROUGH TIME
A SCIENCE-FICTION NOVEL
BY MICHEL POULIN
WARNING TO POTENTIAL READERS
THIS NOVEL CONTAINS GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF WAR,
VIOLENCE AND SEX AS WELL AS COARSE LANGUAGE AND
CONTROVERSIAL SUBJECTS UNSUITABLE FOR CHILDREN.
WHILE THIS NOVEL DEPICTS MANY HISTORICAL PERSONS
AND EVENTS FROM THE PAST, THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION
AND WORDS OR DEEDS ATTRIBUTED IN IT TO PERSONS WHO
EXISTED DO NOT REFLECT HISTORICAL EVENTS AND ONLY
DESCRIBE ALTERNATE HISTORICAL SCENARIOS. RELIGIOUS-
RELATED EVENTS DEPICTED IN THIS NOVEL IN NO WAY
REFLECT THE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OF THE AUTHOR.
ABOUT THIS NOVEL
This science-fiction novel is the second installment in a collection of five novels depicting the adventures through time of Nancy Laplante, a female Canadian war correspondent and reserve army officer from the year 2012. Those novels were written prior to the fictionalized events of the 21st Century depicted in them, and thus should be treated as novels about alternate realities. The third installment in this collection, CHILDREN OF TIME, will be published around early 2013. The year in the dates shown in the headings are followed by the letters ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’, denoting in which timeline the action is happening. Timeline ‘A’ is the original historical line, while Timeline ‘B’ is a parallel alternate history created accidentally by Nancy Laplante when she was transported against her will from 2012 to the year 1940 and changed history by her actions. Timeline ‘C’ will be a second parallel alternate history but is yet to be created.
TABLE OF CONTENT
CHAPTER 1 – 2012
22:06 (Eastern Standard Time)
Thursday, October 11, 2012 ‘A’
Lake Manitou, Laurentians area
Province of Québec, Canada
The big gray, ovoid-shaped craft silently landed besides the summer cottage, near the shore of Lake Manitou. Its twenty meter-long dark shape was nearly invisible in the night as it now sat between the log house and the treeline. There were anyway only a few other cottages along the shore of the lake, the nearest of them being a good 300
meters away. A large ramp lowered at the rear of the craft, showing the inside of a wide cargo bay illuminated by red lights. A red Mitsubishi Outlander 2010 then rolled down the ramp and, hitting the long grass of the property’s ground, drove around the back of the log house before stopping under a covered parking space. The craft that had brought the car cleared the ground and flew off as soon as its ramp was closed again.
Rising silently fifty meters above the cottage, it then disappeared in a brief flash of white light.
A tall woman, measuring 183 centimeters in height and with wide shoulders, got out of the driver’s seat after shutting down the V-6 engine, closing the driver’s door before going to the rear gate. A big, powerful man and a teenage girl got out of the car as well and helped the driver unload the various boxes and suitcases from the rear compartment. The tall woman then unlocked the side door of the cottage and switched on the inside lights so that they could bring in their belongings.
“Let’s put everything first in the lounge, Mike. We will put the things in their proper places later.”
“Good idea, Nancy.” Said the teenage redhead, a girl of mesmerizing beauty with large blue eyes, repressing a shiver. “The night air is really cold.”
Nancy Laplante smiled in amusement at her stepdaughter’s remark.
“If you think this is cold, Ingrid, wait until winter comes to this place. The Laurentians can be much colder than Germany.”
“Hey, Canada is synonymous with ice box in Europe, don’t you know?”
“It is too in the States, Ingrid.” Cut in Mike Crawford while bringing inside Nancy’s TV/DVD unit. “Thank God that Canadian women are quite warm.”
“What about German women?” Asked Ingrid Weiss sneakily, attracting a frown on Mike’s face.
“Ingrid, you are our adopted daughter. You may be fifteen years old but don’t even think about starting a ménage à trois with us.”
“And I thought that the people in 2012 were sexually more liberal than in 1941.”
Replied Ingrid jokingly.
“Incest is still one step too far for me. Massages are the farthest I will go with you. Now, if you want to keep warm, you can help me and Nancy bring in all our stuff.”
“Just Mike will do, you young perverted girl.”
The young German giggled and went to pick up a box from the rear of the car. Between the three of them they emptied the car of its content in less than five minutes, piling their things in the middle of the large lounge of the cottage. Mike and Ingrid then looked around the lounge, eyeing the simple but comfortable furniture and the iron stove.
“Nice place you have here, Nancy.” Said Mike. “The property seemed quite large from the air, and well situated.”
“It covers nearly twenty acres, or eight hectares if you prefer using the metric system.” Replied Nancy. “I inherited it from my parents at the age of sixteen. The lake is quite nice, although the water is too cold now to swim in. I am quite fond of this place, actually. Let me show you around.”
Followed by Mike and Ingrid, Nancy gave them a tour of the cottage, showing the large master bedroom, the guest bedroom, the kitchen and dining room, the laundry room and the bathroom. Mike especially liked the fact that the cottage was equipped to be livable even in the event of a long power outage. Apart of the stove in the lounge, there was another wood stove in the kitchen, besides a modern electric stove, and a hand water pump connected to a well sat in the laundry room. There was also an emergency generator in the small basement of the cottage, next to a fresh storage room stocked with dry and canned food. Once back in the lounge, Ingrid went to the bay windows and admired the lake and the surrounding forest of firs and pines.
“This place is so quiet, so relaxing, especially after living through those years of war in 1940-41.”
“It will be nice to relax a bit, effectively.” Agreed Nancy, sitting with Mike in a sofa. “When I think that, only a few hours ago on this same day, those two scientists from the future kidnapped me with my car right here and dropped me in 1940 England.
After ten months of war and two hectic weeks in the 34th century, I am back in my cottage on the same evening, as if nothing had happened.”
“Well, you do have a few scars to prove that you lived through some crazy times.” Suggested Mike. Nancy looked tenderly into his green eyes and kissed him.
“I also have you and Ingrid to remind me that I was there. If for nothing else, finding you two was worth all the trouble and suffering.”
Ingrid sat besides Nancy and hugged her, while Mike did the same. The three of them were silent for a minute, enjoying that moment and caressing each other. Ingrid finally spoke in a soft voice, her head still resting on the shoulder of her much taller stepmother.
“Nancy, my adoption and your marriage to Mike, are they legal in this time period?”
“Not really, Ingrid. Remember your briefing back in 3384: as far as the year 2012
is concerned, you are a German friend of mine visiting Canada. As for Mike, he is my American boyfriend from Montana. You both have valid, albeit well counterfeited passports and other documents and a solid cover story. In both 1941 and 3384, however, you are my legal family. I could always marry officially Mike here, but that would open the possibility that both the Canadian and American government would conduct routine background checks on him. Remember that I am an officer in the Canadian Forces reserves and that, as a captain in Military Intelligence, I hold a high-level security clearance that subjects me to periodic security checks.”
“Don’t you find it confusing to be so many things at once, Nancy? Captain in the Canadian Military Intelligence and military affairs correspondent for a strategic studies magazine in 2012; Chief of Operations and co-founder of the Time Patrol in 3384 and, finally, a disgraced and officially dead Canadian Army brigadier general in the eyes of the British in 1941. To top all that, you went from deadly opponent to merciful angel for many Germans in 1941.”
“Ingrid, I am not an angel.” Replied Nancy, a bit annoyed. “I was healed by a supernatural being and given a few powers back in 1941, but I’m still a woman.”
“A woman that uses telepathy, telekinesis, levitation and touch healing and has the strength of twelve men? A woman that remembers over 9,000 years of past incarnations, along with her past skills and languages?”
“So? You also can remember your past incarnations, going back 7,000 years.
As for me, I still have my monthly periods, can stink if I don’t wash and still am fond of sex. Does that sounds like an angel to you?”
“You are to me, Nancy.” Said Mike, smiling. “The angel of my life. So, what do we have on our agenda for the next few days?”
“Well, a lot of rest and quiet times together, along with a lot of sex. On Saturday, I will have to go to my reserve unit in Montreal to formally sign on another operational tour in Afghanistan. If you want, I can bring you with me and let you two visit Montreal while I am at my unit.”
“Yes! I would love that.” Said Ingrid enthusiastically. “Could I do some shopping then?”
“It’s your money. After that, we will still have a good ten days of vacation. Once my report of my trip to Eastern Afghanistan, which I did just prior to being kidnapped and marooned in the past, is submitted to my editor, we will move to my condominium in Boucherville, then go back uptime, so that I can start seriously training you two and the other apprentice agents. From then on, I will periodically switch between the 21st and 34th centuries in order to keep an appearance of a normal life here.”
“Thank God that you got that anti-aging genetic treatment in New Lake City.”
Said Mike. “You were going to burn yourself quickly like this, trying to live two lives simultaneously. Now that you can live to past 200 years, you are not going to age on us before your time.”
“Don’t forget that you will also get that treatment, like all the members of the Time Patrol. You may yourself need it, as some of our training and most of our mission time will involve hidden lifetime.”
“When will we go on our first mission in the past, Nancy?” Asked Ingrid, thoughtful.
“Once you complete your training as a field agent and aircrew, in about sixteen months. Since I am somewhat uniquely qualified for the job, my first extended mission in the past will come much sooner. I will then have to use hidden lifetime, in order not to disrupt your training program.”
Mike didn’t like that idea much: hidden lifetime was the period of personal time used in either the past or the future of a given departure date and not evident due to the person concerned returning from its trip seconds or minutes only after its original departure time.
One could spend literally years in a past time period or parallel timeline, yet return apparently only seconds after leaving for the past. Mike knew that someone separated from its loved ones for months or years ran a real risk of seeing its emotional bonds weaken or even break. Nancy apparently read his mind and gently kissed him.
“Don’t worry, Mike: I will never stop loving you or Ingrid, whatever happens.
Now, let’s go to bed. We all had a long day.”
“But I’m still alright.” Objected Ingrid. “Do you mind if I watch something on your television?”
“Why not? We are on vacation, after all. I am going to bed, though.”
08:41 (Eastern Standard Time)
Saturday, October 13, 2012 ‘A’
4th Intelligence Company
“Please sit down, Nancy. This shouldn’t take long.”
Nancy took the chair offered by Captain Marc Lemire, the operations officer of her reserve intelligence unit. Lemire, unlike Nancy, was a full time regular officer who also acted as the acting commander of the unit at the present time, since quite a few of the unit’s personnel were serving in Afghanistan as part of the NATO force there, or were augmenting the depleted ranks of the staff of the regional army headquarters that was also based in Longue-Pointe. Lemire gave her a confused look as he eyed her hair, which was extremely short and gave her a boyish look, and spoke in French, the working language of the unit.
‘’What happened to your hair, Nancy? Only two months ago, it fell past your neck.’’
Nancy made a face at that, as if it made her remember an unpleasant episode of her life.
‘’Let’s say that my latest assignment as a war reporter in Afghanistan was a bit rough, Marc. At one time during a battle between an Afghan Army unit and a group of Taliban extremists, someone threw a white phosphorus grenade near me. Some of the 9
phosphorus fell on my exposed hair and started burning through. Thankfully, an American sergeant serving as a trainer and mentor with the Afghan Army unit reacted quickly and immediately cut off big chunks of my hair, thus getting rid of the phosphorus before it could touch my skull. I then decided to shave completely what was left, so that it could grow again evenly.’’
‘’Wow! You sure have quite a risky civilian job, Nancy. It makes me feel guilty to be here this morning, asking you to do another tour in Afghanistan.’’
‘’That’s alright, Mark. Tell me what happened to prompt this request for me.’’
Lemire eyed Nancy for a moment before answering her. For a reserve officer, Nancy was extremely qualified and experienced, apart from being a superb linguist, a world-class pistol shooter, an advanced black belt in karate and a true athlete. She already had more time on operations overseas than most regular forces officers in the Army.
She was also by far the person with the most experience under fire that Lemire knew personally, this mostly being due to her civilian job as a military affairs correspondent, which saw her cover the situation in war-torn countries all over the world. Her last trip in Afghanistan had resulted in some of her reporting being shown on such popular news channels as CNN and BBC, reporting which Lemire had watched. He just couldn’t think of a better candidate than her for the vacancy in Herat. She also happened to be a very pretty woman with a most sexy body, but that was irrelevant to the matter presently at hand.
‘’To make a long story short, Captain Lebowsky was acting as a NATO trainer and mentor for an Afghan Army battalion, or kandak to use the Afghan term, under training in Herat, in the Southwest of the country. During a training patrol, a roadside bomb exploded near him, wounding him seriously. He has since been repatriated for medical treatment.’’
‘’Will he be alright?’’ Asked Nancy, genuinely concerned. Lemire nodded in response.
‘’He will be and should not suffer long-term effects. He is however out of the picture for many months. Unfortunately, he was one of our very few people in Afghanistan who could speak either Pashto or Dari, the two main local languages. You, with your fluent knowledge of both Dari and Pashto and with your extensive combat experience and knowledge of Afghanistan, would be perfect to take Lebowsky’s place in Herat. There is however a slight catch that Ottawa informed us of only yesterday.’’
Nancy frowned then: she had a rather low regard for the desk-bound staffers at National Defense Headquarters in Ottawa. The majority of those officers spent too little time in operational units in her opinion and, as a result, too often lost sight of the realities of combat or became politically-sensitive careerists concerned only with promotions for themselves.
‘’What kind of catch, Marc?’’
‘’Well, Lebowsky had about two months left to do in his tour before returning to Canada. Since very few officers are as qualified as you for his post, Ottawa is asking that you fill in for his two remaining months…then pile on another nine months as his official replacement, which would make you go on tour for eleven months.’’
Lemire gave her an apologetic look as she digested his words, hoping fervently that she wouldn’t turn him down now. To his hidden relief, Nancy finally nodded her head.
‘’Alright, I am ready to take this eleven month tour, on one condition: that my editor at CONFLICTS MAGAZINE agrees to let me go for that long. Ottawa is asking a lot of me by expecting that I drop my civilian job for this long. Things are very tense all over the Middle East and around Iran right now and my editor is very possibly planning to send me there to cover the situation for the next few months.’’
‘’Nancy, I would understand you perfectly well if you refused this tour due to the demands of your civilian job. You already served more time overseas than any of those paper shufflers in Ottawa and they would be poorly placed to criticize you if you decide not to go. When could you know if your editor let’s you go or not?’’
‘’In a few minutes, if he answers his phone. May I?’’
‘’Go right ahead, Nancy.’’
Nancy then took out her cell phone and composed the private number of her editor, as Lemire sat back and waited patiently while she did her call. Nancy got an answer after two rings.
‘’Frank? This is Nancy. I came back home this Thursday and got your message.
To answer it, I will be able to send you my full trip report and article within two weeks, as you were asking.’’
‘’Excellent! I sure could use it soon.’’
Something in her editor’s tone of voice then lit a warning light in Nancy’s brain.
‘’Is there something I should know, Frank?’’
This time, there was a distinct moment of hesitation before her editor answered her.
‘’Uh, no, not really. I’m just having a few problems with some of our other correspondents, who are not pulling their weight in my opinion. Be assured however that I have nothing to say but praise about your work, Nancy.’’
‘’Well, you may have something to say about this, Frank: I would need eleven months of unpaid vacation, so that I could go on an operational tour in Afghanistan as part of the NATO forces there.’’
‘’AGAIN?! Don’t they have other officers in the Canadian Army?’’
‘’Officers that can speak both Pashto and Dari? Maybe two or three others, at the most. I know that this is asking a lot of you, but contributing to the building of a stable Afghanistan would truly mean something to me. Besides, I love nothing more than being able to help pound another nail in the coffin of those Taliban bastards.’’
There was a rather long silence on the line before her editor spoke in a resigned tone.
‘’Alright, Nancy. You may go on your eleven month tour in Afghanistan. I will somehow find a way to plug the giant hole this will create at the magazine.’’
‘’Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Frank. I will owe you one. I promise to send you my article and trip report quickly.’’
‘’That will be appreciated. And Nancy, please be careful over there in Afghanistan.’’
‘’Thanks, Frank. You are a nice guy, truly. Have a good day.’’
Nancy then cut the link and pocketed back her cell phone, smiling at Marc Lemire.
‘’You are lucky, Marc: my editor proved flexible…again. So, when exactly would I fly out for Afghanistan?’’
‘’I still have to look after that, but you can expect to leave from Trenton in at most three weeks. I hope that your passport is still valid for at least another year.’’
‘’It is in fact good for another two years, even though it is starting to be full with entry and exit stamps and visas.’’
‘’Good! I have already booked in advance an appointment with the base quartermaster, while hoping for a positive answer from you, to get you new field kit.
Your appointment is at one O’clock and the quartermaster was told not to be miserly with you. In the meantime, I have here the paperwork for your tour. Here, first, is your contract for Class ‘C’ employment in Afghanistan. You will be attached to the Regional Support Command West headquarters in Herat, from which you will be assigned to the kandak that Lebowsky was helping train. The description and number of your position is here. Please read and then sign if you are satisfied with the contract.”
Nancy read quickly the employment contract, a standard form for reservists designated to fill full-time positions on overseas operational tours, then signed it. There were a few more forms and messages for her to read or sign before Lemire finally got up and shook her hand.
‘’Well, you are now in line for your next operational tour, Nancy. Just remind me how many overseas tours you already have.’’
‘’Well, let’s see! First, there was Kosovo in 2004, then Lebanon and Syria in 2005, Haiti in 2006, then my first tour in Afghanistan in 2007, Darfur in 2008, my second tour in Afghanistan in 2010 and, finally, the Libyan operation in 2011. This will thus be my eight operational tour and my third one in Afghanistan.’’
‘’Wow! That’s a lot of combat experience, especially for a reserve officer.’’
Nancy smiled at that, thinking about what Lemire would have said if he ever learned that she also had over ten months of combat experience during the Second World War, with two Victoria Crosses and a few more medals to show for it. Thinking back about that, Nancy scratched the part about the medals, as she had returned them to Prime Minister Churchill in 1941, as a protest after she had been unjustly accused of treason.
08:07 (Eastern Standard Time)
Sunday, October 15, 2012 ‘A’
Lake Manitou private cottage
Ingrid Weiss, having just awakened, walked in the lounge of the log house, still wearing only her panties. She found Nancy sitting at the small work desk in a corner of the lounge, typing on her desktop computer and with a steaming cup of coffee by her side. Ingrid went to her and kissed her on the head, attracting a smile from Nancy.
‘’Had a good night, Ingrid?’’
‘’Very! Is Mike up?’’
‘’Nope! I think that I burned him out last night.’’
Ingrid giggled at that and looked at what Nancy was typing.
‘’You are doing your article about that trip as a reporter in Afghanistan?’’
‘’Correct! Thank God that I kept backup copies of my recordings and notes on USB flash drives. If not, I would have lost everything about my trip in Afghanistan when I had to ditch my laptop in the sea just before being captured by the Germans.’’
That brought back some awful images to Ingrid’s mind as she remembered that horrible episode when Nancy had been tortured mercilessly for two days by the German Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, after being captured following a plane accident.
‘’Well, at least Farah Tolkonen got the authorities of the Global Council to reimburse you for all that you lost in 1941. I suppose that you will buy a new laptop computer soon.’’
‘’Damn right you are! For me, it is an essential work tool as a war reporter. That reminds me that I will have to give you courses on how to operate a 2012-era computer.
Let’s say that the software programs now are quite different from those you learned to use in 3384. For one thing, those 3384 keyboards made for twelve-fingered persons are a bitch to get accustomed to in my mind. By the way, there is still some hot coffee in the pot in the kitchen.’’
‘’Aaah! I certainly will get myself a cup then.’’
Ingrid was back in the lounge with a cup of hot coffee in her hands after two minutes. Her face was now thoughtful as she sat in a sofa near the work desk.
‘’Nancy, I was thinking about something while getting to sleep last night. Me and Mike are from Timeline ‘B’, the alternate history you created accidentally out of the original timeline, Timeline ‘A’, when you were dumped by those two Global Council scientists near London in 1940. You told us as well that me and Mike are basically copies of another Ingrid and another Mike, who lived and died in Timeline ‘A’ and who never met you. In my case, my timeline twin died officially in 1945 ‘A’ during an allied bombing raid on Berlin, while Mike Crawford ‘A’ died in 1941 ‘A’ when the plane transporting him from London to Washington crashed in the Atlantic. Up to now, the Time Patrol counts only a grand total of 21 members, including us. Of the lot, you, Farah Tolkonen and her two assistants, Maran Tolvek and Mona Zirel, are the only persons from Timeline ‘A’. Me, Mike and the others are all from Timeline ‘B’ and you said yourself that we will need many more members in order for the Time Patrol to become eventually an effective organization.’’
Nancy stopped typing for a moment and turned in her chair, looking at Ingrid with interest.
‘’Go on, Ingrid.’’
‘’Well, how about going to save secretly my timeline twin as well as Mike’s twin and then enroll them in our Time Patrol? From what I understand, Ingrid Weiss ‘A’ and 14
her four comrades were incinerated inside their shelter by an incendiary bomb, while the body of Mike Crawford ‘A’, or that of any of the other occupants of his plane, was never found. Couldn’t we save them in extremis and hide that by substituting anonymous bodies, especially in the case of Ingrid ‘A’ and of her comrades? If this could work, then there should be quite a few disappeared persons that we could then save secretly and enlist, no?’’
‘’That is actually an excellent idea, Ingrid. Missing and officially dead persons could indeed constitute interesting prospects as potential recruits for the Time Patrol.
We would however have to keep to the 20th and 21st Centuries for recruits. Earlier than that and the potential recruits would be too ignorant of modern technology to be really useful to us. Keep your idea in mind until we can talk to Farah about it. If you can think of known disappeared persons that could make good recruits, then note down their names and the general circumstances of their disappearances, so that we could do some research later on about their fate.’’
‘’I will certainly do that, Nancy.’’
Ingrid then fell silent, gazing through the windows of the lounge at Lake Manitou outside, while her mind was on the sad fate of her timeline twin in 1945 ‘A’. Ingrid ‘A’ had served like her as a secretly underage female auxiliary of the Luftwaffe, the German air force in World War Two, until killed in 1945 by allied bombs. The story of the present Ingrid had however started to differ drastically from that of Ingrid ‘A’ in 1941. Ingrid then thought about the first time she had seen Nancy, after having been captured by her British unit, along with the rest of her Luftwaffe fighter division headquarters staff in Wissant, France.
Nancy had then brought her to London, to be interned as a prisoner of war with other captured Luftwaffe auxiliaries in the old fortress of the Tower of London. Ingrid, who had been orphaned by the war, had quickly developed a strong bond with Nancy, with the latter ending up secretly adopting her after a few weeks. Both had also started remembering their past incarnations simultaneously at about that time. While Ingrid ‘A’
had never met Nancy, this Ingrid was sure that she would have also liked the tall Canadian woman instantly. Remembering what Nancy had just asked her, Ingrid then started reviewing mentally what she knew of history, searching for possible recruits for the Time Patrol.
CHAPTER 2 – ARSENAL
12:46 (North America Central Time)
Sunday, August 30, 3384 ‘A’
Time Patrol headquarters
New Lake City University campus
American Great Lakes area
Nancy waived happily to Farah Tolkonen as she disembarked with Mike and Ingrid from the heavy time shuttle HERMES: the gentle giant was waiting inside the large hangar where the shuttle now lay and was already waving at her. Farah’s 220
centimeters of slender frame was the norm with the humans of the 34th century, along with hairless body, bald heads and six-fingered hands. The mixed blood of the Eurasian was also a common trait. It was actually ancestors like Nancy, Mike and Ingrid who stood out with their pure racial features, short statures, body hair and five-fingered hands. That didn’t stop Nancy from considering Farah as her best friend, though. The co-founder and chief administrator of the Time Patrol was easily one of the most agreeable person she had ever met, apart of being a kind and caring person. She also happened to be a scientific genius, with degrees in medicine, physics, electronics and computer science. Walking to her, Nancy exchanged a hug and a kiss before looking up into her yellow eyes.
“It is nice to see you, Farah, as always.”
“And I am pleased to see the three of you. How was your vacation?”
“Short but nice. Some countryside fresh air was what we needed, along with some quiet time together. How are the others?”
Farah seemed amused by her question. The others Nancy had referred to were fifteen other ancestors brought back from the past by her and who were now members in training of the Time Patrol. They, like Nancy, had been on vacation, adapting to the society of the Global Council and its advanced technology and, for many of them, the shockingly liberal sexual mores of the 34th century.
“Well, you will not be surprised to learn that most of the young women you brought from the past are huge hits with local men here and have been going from party to party. As for the lone man in the group, he is tagging along with the girls.”
Both Nancy and Ingrid giggled, while Mike smiled widely, making Farah’s heart beat faster. The 190 centimeter-tall American may have been small by contemporary standards, but his powerful built, green eyes and handsome face had warmed up Farah from the first day she had seen him.
“Don’t worry too much about them. Besides, everyone starts training tomorrow and they will have little time from then on for pleasure.”
“Don’t be too hard on them, Nancy, unless you want the medias to paint you as being abusive with your people.”
Nancy rolled her eyes in exasperation at that. The most charitable expression a person from the 20th century would have used to describe in general the pacifist giants of the 34th century would be ‘wimps’. Raised in a society where all the hard physical work was done by robots and where contact and extreme sports had disappeared two centuries ago, the average citizen of the Global Council found such energetic ancestors as Nancy and her group of apprentice agents nearly scary. The term ‘barbarians’ was in fact still uttered in low voices from time to time to describe them. Farah spoke before Nancy could make a remark.
‘’Anyway, they should join us here in fifteen minutes, so that we could all go together visit a model of fast liaison and space exploration ship that could be adequate as a basis for our future patrol ships.’’
‘’Hey, that could be really interesting.’’ Said Mike, smiling widely, his engineer side awakening. ‘’And where is that ship we are going to visit?’’
‘’In a hangar of the Zeta Alpha orbital city, which is in a geosynchronous orbit around Earth.’’
Ingrid’s eyes widened at once with joy.
‘’We are going to go in space?’’
‘’Yes, and you better get used to it: for our citizens, traveling in space is routine, may it be as tourists or as workers. In fact, nearly twenty percent of Humanity now lives off the Earth, and live quite comfortably, thank you.’’
‘’Ooh, I can’t wait to see Earth from orbit!’’ Exclaimed Ingrid, jumping with excitement. Her joy warmed Nancy’s heart and she pointed Ingrid to Farah.
‘’Did you tell her that she is going to be trained as a patrol ship pilot?’’
Farah smiled but didn’t tell Ingrid that all the members of the Time Patrol would at least receive basic training as pilots. However, only those showing special aptitudes as pilots would be selected to actually become ship flight crews.
‘’Uh, no. With everything else I have to do, I forgot to tell her.’’
‘’YES! I WILL FINALLY BE ABLE TO BECOME A PILOT!’’ Shouted Ingrid, making the three others grin. Nancy then became serious as Ingrid calmed down and spoke to the giant scientist.
‘’By the way, Ingrid had an interesting idea about where to find extra new members for our Time Patrol.’’
She then described Ingrid’s idea of going to save secretly Ingrid ‘A’ and her four Luftwaffe comrades, as well as Mike ‘A’. She also told her about the idea to save secretly other people listed as missing in the past. That left Farah thoughtful.
‘’Hmm, I have to say that the concept is very interesting and could bring us quite a few good people. Saving Ingrid ‘A’ and her four comrades looks to me to be a simple, straightforward operation. However, saving Mike ‘A’ raises a serious point: what about the other passengers and the crew of his plane? Will Mike ‘A’ accept to be saved while abandoning the others in his plane to their fate? From what I know of your Mike Crawford, I doubt it, Nancy. What do you think, Mike?’’
‘’I unfortunately have to concur with you, Farah.’’ Said the big American, his face somber. ‘’If I would be in the place of my timeline twin, I would probably fight rather than let myself be saved while the others are left to die. It would be basically all of us or none of us. Many of the other passengers are probably married, while some may even have children. Unless you are ready to recuperate their families as well, those other passengers and crew would probably refuse to come with us. I am sorry, but I think that we will have to let my twin die in 1941 ‘A’.’’
Nancy and Ingrid lowered their heads in sadness, realizing that Mike was probably right.
Farah then tried to cheer them back up.
‘’Hey, Ingrid’s idea still has lots of merit. We may however just have to concentrate our efforts mostly on singles. By the way, we have now started to produce in good quantities the space-time transfer probes we used to transport the Luftwaffe girls and Ingrid out of the Tower of London. We will now have the means to grab quickly and safely the people we judge of interest.’’
‘’And what if those persons refuse to join us and demand to be returned to their time?’’ Asked Ingrid. Farah mentally gave her points for solid, logical thinking.
‘’You know the basic rules we laid for the Time Patrol, Ingrid. Nobody from the past of Timeline ‘A’ can be allowed to know about the existence or even the possibility of time travel. Once they know, they either stay with us or are returned to experience their fate to the bitter end. That rule especially applies to those declared by history to be officially missing and presumed dead. The same rule will apply to Timeline ‘B’, but we will be more flexible there, as the passage of Nancy as a time traveler from the year 2012 is widely known. If I may change subject briefly, I have a good news for you: I obtained last week permission from Grand Administrator Kern to gain access to the surviving records and technical data we still have about the last war fought by Humanity, five centuries ago. Those records and data contain detailed information and even complete schematics on the weapons and ships then used in that war, which is why the access to them is so severely restricted. I have found and copied a few files that are going to make our job of building armed ships much easier.’’
‘’Like…’’ Said Nancy, immediately interested, while Mike and Ingrid listened carefully.
‘’Well, four systems in particular could be of interest to us. One is a high power laser cannon used to arm the ships of the War of World Hegemony of 2890. I also got hold of the plans for its power source. The lasers of 2890 were tunable in frequency and varied in beam power from forty to a hundred megawatts.’’
‘’Wow!’’ Exclaimed Ingrid. ‘’That sounds like the lasers in your film ‘Star Wars’, Nancy. What other systems did you find, Farah?’’
‘’The second system of interest to us is purely defensive and is a sort of electro-magnetic shield capable of stopping most projectiles and missiles fired at a ship. That shield however does not stop laser beams, which is why laser armament was so common in 2890. The third system is a variant of that shield but works differently and deflects electro-magnetic waves and light rather than solid objects. Essentially, a ship equipped with that masking shield becomes invisible to radar and other sensors, including the human eye. That masking shield was still only in prototype form at the end of the war of 2890 and had no known counter-measures.’’
‘’My God!’’ Exclaimed Mike, truly impressed. ‘’Someone possessing such a masking shield in my time could have conquered the World.’’
‘’Effectively!’’ Replied Farah. ‘’I intend to keep the existence of that masking shield a secret restricted to Time Patrol members only, in order not to alarm the High Council. As for the fourth system of interest to us, it came as a shock to me: it was 19
already in service at the time of the Nuclear Holocaust of 2052. The cleverness shown in the past in inventing such weapons truly scares me. In this case, it is called a ‘rail gun’ and uses electro-magnetic forces to propel projectiles to velocities of a few kilometers per second. While mostly of small caliber, the kinetic energy delivered by the various rail guns in service in 2052 was enormous and could reach ninety megajoules for the bigger models. Even the electro-magnetic shields of 2890 could be overloaded by such an impact.’’
‘’Ouch!’’ Said Nancy while making a grimace. ‘’That represents the combined kinetic energy of ten armor-piercing projectiles fired by the best tank guns of my time.
Well, apart from guided missiles, I believe that you found most of what we needed for our warships. I will only need on my part to find individual weapons and body armor systems for our agents. By the way, did the High Council accept to produce stun pistols for us?’’
‘’Yes! Stun pistols being non-lethal weapons, it didn’t drag its feet too much on that. We received three days ago a first shipment of one hundred pistols, along with spare parts and recharge units. If we need more, we will only have to ask. Uh, do you have an idea of what kind of individual weapons we will use, Nancy, and where we will get them?’’
‘’Not yet, but I know how to find the best ever produced in the 21st Century, and where to find it.’’
‘’Hmm, you are scaring me, Nancy. Your time period was decidedly too good at inventing weapons. Ah, here comes the others!’’
Nancy turned her head and saw a group of fourteen women and one man enter the hangar. They were easy to recognize as ancestors by their hair and short size compared to the entrance doors. The group was dressed in a variety of modern civilian clothes, the new uniforms for the Time Patrol not being ready yet. Nancy smiled on seeing the happy expressions of her members.
‘’Well, you certainly seem to have had a good time, my friends.’’
The young Frida Winterer, an appetizing blonde of eighteen, answered her with a wide smile.
‘’Those two weeks of vacation were just what I needed after two years of war, Nancy.’’
‘’I see! I hope that you at least tried to stay in shape in the meantime, because we are starting our training program tomorrow and it is not going to be a vacation.’’
‘’Oh, we did a lot of push-ups…in bed.’’
That triggered a round of laughs. Farah, doing a quick head count, then nodded her head and spoke up, raising her voice.
‘’Since everybody is here, let’s board the shuttle for our little space excursion.
Let’s keep an orderly file, children.’’
Frida Winterer pulled out her tongue at her in response.
Led by Farah Tolkonen, the eighteen ancestors boarded eagerly the heavy shuttle, taking place in the jump seats lining the sides of the cargo bay. Viewing screens lining the inner walls of the cargo bay then came on, letting the passengers see the outside as the craft lifted off the ground silently and started floating out of the hangar, thanks to its directed gravity propulsion system. Once out of the hangar, the occupants were able to see a team of heavy construction robots 300 meters away, busy digging the foundations and underground levels of four future buildings. Farah then activated the intercom to speak to the others as the shuttle overflew the work sites.
‘’We are now over the future site of the headquarters of the Time Patrol and of its training center. Apart from the headquarters building itself, the complex will include a sports center, a residential tower and a hangar with technical workshops. The whole complex should be completed in three weeks, thanks to the modular construction methods common in the Global Council. We will now climb to orbit and fly out to the Zeta Alpha orbital city, where we will visit a fast liaison and exploration ship that could become the basic design of our future patrol ships. The goal of this visit is to evaluate the potential of that type of ship to be modified to our needs. Even though you do not yet have the technical knowledge to understand the systems aboard that ship, I will ask you to keep in mind your past military experiences and to feel free to speak up if you see particular points about that ship that should be modified to make it more suitable for combat. Remember that my compatriots have not known war for 500 years now. You are the military experts here, so don’t hesitate to raise points or objections during our visit. With this said, I hope that you will like your excursion.’’
Farah then stayed quiet in her seat, letting the ancestors around her appreciate fully their first trip in space and smiling at seeing their joy and excitement. Hanna Reitsch, the ex-German test pilot, seemed particularly fascinated by this experience, something Farah could easily understand. In fact, Farah was counting on Hanna’s long 21
experience as a test pilot of military planes, as well as on Nancy’s extensive knowledge of modern military systems, to give that fast liaison ship a thorough inspection. Allied with the expertise of Mike Crawford as an ordnance engineer and the data recovered from the old files on the War of World Hegemony of 2890, Farah was confident that a truly superior ship design could be made following this inspection trip.
After about twenty minutes of flight, and as the ancestors around Farah were marveling at the beauty of Earth’s blue orb as seen from space, a small white dot became visible above and forward of the shuttle. The dot quickly grew in size, becoming a spinning top-like object. Farah then used again the intercom microphone.
‘’Ladies and gentlemen, we are now approaching the Zeta Alpha orbital city, the permanent residence in space for over a million people and also a prime tourist center able to accommodate up to four million visitors per month. The diameter of the central cylinder is three kilometers and its height is fifteen kilometers. Its equatorial belt, which houses ship hangars and construction yards, has a diameter of five kilometers. Zeta Alpha was built in orbit over 300 years ago and is self-sufficient in terms of food production. Despite its age, this orbital city is still at the edge of our technology, being constantly renovated and enlarged. Ships regularly resupply it with water, oxygen and other materials extracted from the main asteroid belt situated between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Many inhabitants of Zeta Alpha work in nearby orbital yards, which produce both ships and space structures, while others work in the hydroponic gardens of the orbital city and help produce food for the restaurants of Zeta Alpha, which are acclaimed in the whole Solar System. The city also houses many human services industries and technical production plants, including the studios of the biggest news agency in the Global Council, those of the Global News Network, or GNN in short. GNN is the most popular holovision news channel in the Solar System. Your visit on Zeta Alpha may in fact attract the attention of GNN reporters. If you are approached by reporters, I will ask you to let me or Nancy do the talking. The subjects of ancestors and of importing weapons for the Time Patrol are still quite controversial and what may appear to you to be an innocent answer from you may be turned into a negative piece of reporting.
Thank you for your attention.’’
The colossal dimensions of the orbital city soon became evident, attracting exclamations from many as the huge door of a ship airlock slid open and the vertical wall formed by the equatorial belt filled the screens.
‘’My God!’’ Said Mike Crawford. ‘’Building such a thing in space is nearly unthinkable.’’
Farah nodded her head at that.
‘’Building Zeta Alpha was effectively a major project in the history of the Global Council. While there are hundreds of other major space installations, Zeta Alpha is still our biggest orbital structure. Only our cities on Mars and on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn are bigger. After inspecting the ship that is interesting us, we will take the rest of the day to visit Zeta Alpha.’’
That attracted a concert of cheers and happy screams, making Farah smile: the exuberance and energy of those ancestors contrasted sharply with the nonchalant, slow rhythm of her compatriots from the Global Council, accustomed to a risk and effort-free lifestyle. Only the crewmembers of spaceships, chosen for their taste for adventure, could approach the activity level of the men and women surrounding her now. In fact, since risk and danger levels in a job dictated higher salaries, Farah had had no problems convincing the secretariat of the High Council to grant high salaries to the agents of the Time Patrol.
The HERMES soon entered a large tunnel leading deep into the equatorial belt of the orbital city. After flying in for 600 meters, the heavy shuttle pivoted on the spot and entered a huge airlock which had three large doors along its inner walls. Once the armored door of the airlock was closed, clouds of condensation appeared as it was pressurized. Less than two minutes later, one of the three inner doors of the airlock opened and the heavy shuttle floated inside a hangar big enough for four more similar shuttles. The door of the hangar then closed behind the shuttle as the craft landed in a corner, near what looked like a big bus. Maran Tolvek and Mona Zirel emerged from the cockpit as the rear access ramp started to lower.
‘’We can get out, people.’’ Announced Maran. ‘’A bus is waiting outside to bring us to the ship we are going to visit.’’
They did not have to repeat their call, as their passengers nearly ran out of the shuttle and to the bus, followed at a more sedate pace by the trio of giants. A large door 23
opened on the side of the vehicle and Farah pointed the inside of the bus to her companions.
‘’This bus will bring us to the hangar containing the ship that we will visit. Climb in, ladies and gentlemen.’’
Ingrid Weiss got in first and was about to say hello to the driver when she realized with a shock that the driver was in reality a robot that could not be mistaken for a human.
‘’Uh, good day!’’
‘’And a good day to you, miss.’’ Answered the robot in a singularly human tone of voice, his two camera lenses fixing Ingrid. ‘’Welcome to Zeta Alpha. If you would please take a seat, we will soon be on our way to your destination.’’
A bit intimidated by that unusual encounter, Ingrid took one of the first seats and whispered to Farah when the scientist sat beside her.
‘’Why isn’t the driver human?’’
‘’Because most of my compatriots find that job too monotonous and boring, which forces in return the use of robots to fill the vacant positions.’’
Ingrid gave her a look of incomprehension, shocked by such laziness.
‘’Farah, without wanting to insult you, I would say that many of your compatriots would be in need of a good kick in the ass. In Germany, volunteers would flock to take such a job and thus make a honest living.’’
‘’I know, Ingrid.’’ Said Farah in a discouraged tone. Her growing experience with ancestors made more and more evident to her to what level the average citizen of the Global Council was spoiled by the generous social system of her society. The Global Council provided free to all the basic necessities of life, including free health care and education, plus a small stipend, even to individuals who never raised a finger to contribute to society by their work. Nearly a quarter of Humanity now lived in indolence, assured of a work-free life in fair comfort. As Ingrid had just alluded to, such a state of affair would never have been tolerated in the 20th Century. In a sense, the technological and social progress achieved by the Global Council was leading to a spreading decadence. The human population of the space colonies and outposts, a lot more active and daring because of the inherent dangers of living in space, had in fact been complaining about that state of affair for a few decades now, claiming with good reasons that their hard work only helped to support too much dead weight. While relations between Earth and its space colonies were still good, Farah would not be surprised to see real tensions developing in the years to come.
The bus then started to roll smoothly, taking Farah out of her depressing thoughts. The trip was actually quite short, the bus entering another hangar after covering about two kilometers. The eyes of all the passengers then fixed on the ship in the middle of the hangar. Of a length of 45 meters and shaped like a flattened egg with thick cruciform bulges at the rear, the ship was very similar in appearance to an old 20th Century dirigible, but with a smooth, curved body. Ingrid spoke, some disappointment in her voice.
‘’Damn! I was hoping to see something, uh, more racy.’’
Farah replied in a voice strong enough for all to hear her as the bus rolled towards the ship, besides which six persons were waiting.
‘’This fast liaison ship, of the HURRICANE class, is actually the fastest type of ship in the Global Council. Its ovoid shape is dictated by its directed gravity propulsion system, which uses a very special electro-magnetic field. That field, of spherical shape, necessitates that all the volume of a ship be inside it, which makes long and narrow ship shapes impractical. Despite its mundane lines, the ships of the HURRICANE class are capable of sustained accelerations of up to fifteen Gs, one G being an acceleration equal to that of an object falling under the force of Earth’s gravity. This is even better than our best interplanetary cruise liners, capable of twelve Gs accelerations and considered very fast ships. In comparison, our own shuttle can only make six Gs at maximum power.’’
‘’Fifteen Gs?’’ Exclaimed Hanna Reitsch, the test pilot. ‘’What I was flying in 1940 would look like turtles in comparison. How come the crew is not flattened like pancakes by such accelerations?’’
‘’Remember your flight in the HERMES, Hanna: you didn’t feel any acceleration during your flight because you and all of us were being accelerated along the rest of the craft. Propulsion by directed gravity makes a ship fall in the direction its pilot chooses.
Inside the ship, short-range gravitational fields keeps normal gravity for the crew and passengers. The system is powered in turn by thermonuclear fusion generators. You will in fact study all of this in the months to come. Well, here we are! Let’s go out!’’
The 21 passengers of the bus were greeted at the foot of the large rear cargo ramp of the ship by a giant woman with brown eyes and a sympathetic face.
‘’Welcome to the COMET, ladies and gentlemen. I am First Pilot Virna Landross, Commander of the COMET, and this is Second Pilot Jens Tarl. My crew includes as well our ship engineer, Alvan Kor, our sensors specialist Greg Thorgal, our hostess and purser Natia Mindicor and our rescue paramedic Karen Mirza.’’
An exchange of handshakes and presentations followed before Landross pointed the large cargo ramp.
‘’Well, if you are ready, let’s start the visit.’’
Led by Landross, and with her crewmembers mixing up with the visitors, the group climbed the ramp and visited first the large cargo bay, measuring twenty meters long by six meters wide and five meters high, listening all along to the explanations of the pilot.
They visited next an airlock and a locker room on the same level than the cargo bay, then went up to the next level, which contained the propulsion and power systems, some laboratories and workshops and the crew quarters. Virna Landross was surprised by the apparently scandalized or disapproving looks on the faces of the visiting ancestors when she proudly showed them the luxurious crew lounge, the sauna and bubble baths and the individual cabins, spaces that occupied an appreciable part of the internal volume of the ship and which were very well equipped and furnished.
‘’Uh, is something wrong in your eyes, ladies and gentlemen?’’
‘’Yes!’’ Answered Nancy, her face serious. ‘’All this wastes a lot of precious internal space. Extra generators or larger capacity holds would be more useful. The space taken by the captain’s cabin alone would probably be more than sufficient to house all of the crew facilities we would need.’’
‘’But, we spend weeks, even months in space, miss. The crew facilities have to be comfortable to cope with such long space cruises.’’
‘’Don’t take this as a blame, Miss Landross.’’ Replied Nancy in a calm tone.
‘’This is appropriate for the present role of this ship, but what we need for our organization will have as tasks armed patrols and expeditions far in the past.
Performances, armament and protection will be primordial for our crews, who can easily live without all that comfort.’’
Virna, who had only received from the Space Council a simple request for a visit, looked at Farah, confused.
‘’Armed ships? The High Council approved this?’’
‘’Yes, miss. I we choose to adopt this type of ship as the basis to build the patrol ships of the Time Patrol, it will need to be extensively modified to adapt to it a number of offensive and defensive systems, apart from receiving a space-time distorter drive.’’
As Virna looked again at Nancy, the latter gave her a disarming smile.
‘’Say, miss, wouldn’t you be interested by chance in joining the Time Patrol? We certainly could use an experienced pilot like you.’’
16:09 (Universal Time)
Production offices of Global News Network
Zeta Alpha orbital city
Lori Kano frowned as she reviewed the content of the evening news bulletin for tonight: it was rather meager to her taste, even after the addition of a few items that hardly qualified as news. As the star news anchor of GNN, she was going to have to compensate for the lack of content by the quality of her presentation…again. She repeated to herself that it was a small price to pay to live in a near ideal society, but she was too good a reporter not to know that the Global Council was not perfect. Even though they were rare, violent crimes had not completely disappeared, while cases of corruption and theft were signaled every week. Her videophone then buzzed, making her head turn towards the viewing screen on her desk. Pushing the ‘link’ button, she saw the face of a woman working in one of the numerous restaurants of Zeta Alpha appear on the screen. The woman actually provided her from time to time with bits of news gleaned around the orbital city.
‘’Good day, Mina. Do you have something interesting for me?’’
‘’You can say that, Lori!’’ Said excitedly the woman. ‘’A group of ancestors is here, on Zeta Alpha. They are having coffee and pastries at a terrace near my restaurant, on Level 231.’’
‘’Ancestors?’’ Exclaimed Lori, interested at once. ‘’How many?’’
‘’About fifteen, mostly women. That Nancy Laplante that appeared in front of the High Council is with them, along with a few of our own people. They are sitting at the terrace of the COFFEE AND CINNAMON shop.’’
‘’FIFTEEN?! Hell, I’m on my way! Thanks for the tip, Mina. I will owe you one.’’
Closing the link, Lori then got up from her chair and grabbed a camera headband while shouting at her assistant, sitting three desks away.
‘’JOSH, GRAB YOUR CAMERA HELMET AND COME WITH ME! WE HAVE A
FLASH INTERVIEW TO DO ON LEVEL 231.’’
‘’COMING!’’ Answered the young man before closing his own computer and grabbing a helmet sporting a battery of cameras and lamps. He had to run to catch up with Lori, who was already walking out of the studios.
16:18 (Universal Time)
Terrace of the COFFEE AND CINNAMON
Level 231 North-East of Zeta Alpha orbital city
‘’Mein Gott! I would have killed to eat such hot cinnamon pastries like these during our detention time in the Tower of London.’’ Said with fervor Bertha Reinholdt between two bites. Ingrid Weiss, sitting with her, Susanna Berghof and Frida Winterer at one of the tables of the terrace restaurant, smiled, her mouth full. She took the time to swallow before speaking.
‘’I think that I would have done the same, Bertha. These people certainly know how to eat well. I will have to watch my waistline here in the 34th Century.’’
Ingrid then saw a man and a woman approaching quickly. Apart from the fact that the woman was beautiful, even with her bald head, and wore the latest in high fashion clothes, their apparent hurry contrasting with the normally lazy rhythm of the giants around them had attracted Ingrid’s attention. She thus looked at Nancy and Farah, sitting at the next table.
‘’Heads up, Nancy! I think that someone is coming to see us.’’
Farah looked in the same direction as Nancy and straightened up.
‘’Oops! The woman is actually Lori Kano, the star news anchorperson for GNN, which has its offices here on Zeta Alpha.’’
‘’Is she professional or is she the paparazzi type?’’ Asked Nancy, using French to speak to Farah.
‘’She is a professional, Nancy. She is quite intelligent and reports news honestly.
Anyway, at this stage we still will have little to say about the Time Patrol.’’
‘’Don’t underestimate the capacity of a reporter to get out the most of a source, Farah. Don’t forget that I am also a reporter.’’
‘’A good point. Let me speak at first.’’
Farah got up from her chair as Kano and her cameraman slowed their pace and stopped in front of her table, with the cameraman stepping sideways to take a good position for filming the conversation. Kano was the first to speak, offering her right hand.
‘’Doctor Tolkonen, I am Lori Kano, news anchorperson and reporter with GNN. I am sorry to disturb you like this, you and your friends, but would you accept to be interviewed by me and to be filmed?’’
‘’You are welcomed to interview and film us, Miss Kano. May I present you Nancy Laplante, co-founder with me of the Time Patrol?’’
‘’Pleased to meet you, miss.’’ Said Nancy while shaking hands with the reporter.
‘’Maybe we could discuss later about our common profession.’’
‘’You specialized in covering wars, I believe?’’ Said Lori, tensing up at facing a woman who had publicly acknowledged that she had killed dozens of times. If her interlocutor detected her sudden nervousness, she didn’t let it appear.
‘’Correct, miss. But please, take a seat.’’
Lori took the chair offered by Nancy and signaled to Josh to start filming.
‘’Thanks! I have to say that, to meet so many ancestors at once, after seeing none for centuries, is quite special. May I ask from which century your friends come from?’’
‘’They all came from the year 1941, except for Klaus Manheim, who was extracted by me from a hospital bed in 1940.’’
Lori looked briefly at the man pointed by Nancy, appreciating mentally his athletic physique and his undeniable masculine attractiveness. She also let her eyes examine Mike Crawford, whose smile made her heart race.
‘’And your friends from the 20th Century, are they all soldiers?’’
‘’Yes, even though most of them were in non-combat support specialties.
However, we now consider ourselves as agents of the Time Patrol and citizens of the Global Council. Understand that we are not what could be called mercenaries. We all said goodbye to our original time period and are citizens dedicated to the good of your society. I alone will lead a double life, continuing with my original life in 2012 in order to keep a foothold in that century.’’
‘’And what were their motives to take such a heavy decision, Miss Laplante?’’
Nancy smiled and pointed the men and women around her.
‘’You may ask them directly, Miss Kano.’’
Thanking Nancy, Lori chose to sit at the next table, occupied by four young women, of which three of them were of uncommon beauty. Lori smiled first at the tallest of them, who had blond hair and blue eyes and was of extraordinary beauty.
‘’May I have your name, miss?’’
‘’Certainly, miss. I am Susanna Berghof and I was born in 1917 in Kiel, Germany. I am 23 years old.’’
‘’And what was the reason for you to choose to leave your century of origin, Miss Berghof?’’
Sadness then appeared on the face of the blonde.
‘’The realization that my country, Germany, followed the wrong masters and was condemned to destruction. Seeing no worthwhile future for me in that time, I accepted Nancy Laplante’s offer to come work for her here in the future. I was also attracted by the possibility of escaping the petty attitudes towards women that were too common in my time, attitudes that severely restricted the dreams of women and relegated them to secondary roles.’’
‘’Could you precise what sort of secondary roles, miss?’’
‘’According to the philosophy of the leaders of Germany, and of most countries in my time, women were made to stay home, produce babies, raise children, do the cooking and clean up for their husbands. Because of the urgent needs for extra workers, that policy was relaxed during the war and women worked in large numbers in industrial plants, replacing the men that had gone to the front to fight. Most men of my time were however still resistant to enlarging the role of women, even with the war on.’’
‘’And you, miss?’’ Said Lori, turning towards a teenager of mesmerizing beauty with reddish-brown hair and blue eyes. ‘’What is your name and what were your reasons to leave your century?’’
‘’My name is Ingrid Weiss and I was born in 1925 in Berlin, Germany. I am fifteen years old. The war made me an orphan, with my whole extended family being killed by a bomb. I was also secretly of Jewish faith, something that attracted very harsh treatment in Germany at the time. Despite the fact that I was technically an enemy for her, Nancy came to love me and adopted me with the help of her husband, Mike Crawford.’’
Lori looked briefly at the powerful man that had made her heart accelerate, then returned her attention on Ingrid as the latter continued.