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The Team

Conference Room

Command Center

Time-Keeper Colony

Switzerland

Thursday, May 10th, 2018, 6:30 pm

 

 

      They all gathered again in the conference room.  This time Carmen and Keith watched the children.  Aaron said, “Thank you all for coming on such short notice.  As many of you have already heard, we have an outline of our attack plan.  We also have picked the team.  Jared, Oliver, Sarah and I will all be going.

      “In the next few weeks we’ll finalize our plans and nail down the specifics.  We’re not sure how long we’ll be gone, and, of course, it is possible we won’t come back.  I think we have a great chance, though.  Kara, Oliver and Mike did an excellent job researching the problem.

      “Are there any questions?”

      The crowd stared at him blankly.  Mike raised his hand and said, “Who’s going to be in charge of things when you’re gone?”

      Aaron said, “Well, I’m sure Samuel will be able to help resolve any issues that come up.”

      Emma asked, “Does Samuel have access to make more time machines and builders if anything goes wrong?”

      Aaron said to Jared, “Jared, can you field this question.”

      Jared stood and said, “Yes, he does.  Carmen also has access.”

      Mike stood up and said what he would not have said had Carmen been in the room, “If Carmen has access shouldn’t we all have access?”

      Jared’s face went red with a temper that none of them, except Michelle, had ever witnessed up to this point.  Seeming to keep more self-control than Mike he said, “If it wasn’t for Carmen we probably wouldn’t be here today.  You can trust her more than anybody else here, maybe even more than Aaron.”

      Aaron did not seem the least bit offended by Jared saying that, since it was probably true.  Even if it was not true, they acted as if Mike was out of line, as if his point of view had no importance.  What was the point of saving the world if you do not even have a voice?

      Mike blushed slightly but then said what he thought was the perfect comeback, “Aren’t you a bit biased, though?”

      Jared seemed to restrain himself.  Yeah, that’s right.  If you hurt me, nobody will listen.  Just as Jared was about to reply Aaron said, “I agree with Jared.  Do you think I’m biased as well?”

      Mike said more calmly, “Well, she is dating your son.”

      Aaron did not seem to mind the counter-attack.  Still, he could not think of a reply.  Samuel stepped in and said, “Son, I trust her, and I’ll give you the beating of a lifetime, which I seem to have slacked on as your father, if you don’t leave her be.”

      Now Mike’s face darkened with embarrassment.  How could his father say that?  The worst part was that his father probably could give him such a beating.  Mike was scrawny compared to his father.  Samuel was built like a rock because of all his years of labor.  Mike had never seen his father fight, but Mike knew his father would wipe the floor with him. 

      After Mike’s face was back to its normal shade he said, “Shouldn’t we all have access . . . in case something happens?”

      Aaron said, “Enough people have access.  If all of us died, then there wouldn’t be a point to having builders and time machines anyway, because we’d have too few to continue.  Finally, if we let everybody here have access, where do we draw the line?  Will we even wait for kids to reach an age when they can use it responsibly?  This technology must stay here with us, even if it has to die with us.  Even if we can trust everybody now, you know the colony will grow, and it will eventually, inevitably, have untrustworthy people.”

      Mike did not give up on his stance, but gave up trying to convince them.  After an awkward silence Kara asked, “Can we get out if we need to?  Who can open the doors?”

      Aaron said, “All of us here, the adults, have access to open the outer doors.  You need two people to open the inner door, though.  Anybody can open the door to the cave from the inside.”

      Kara said, “Not to be morbid, but what if all but one of us die?”

       “Then you’re out of luck!  I wouldn’t worry about it though; there are what . . . twenty-six of us? Twenty-eight if you count Deirdre and Spencer.  Twenty-nine if we count your baby.  That’s almost a 1/30 chance!”

      Mike added his thoughts by saying, “Even if it doesn’t happen to her, it could happen to somebody.”

       “True, and China could leave Russia and Europe without spilling more blood.”  Aaron ended the debate by adding, “Any other questions?”

      Michelle asked, “How long will you be gone?”

      “Not long.  We can technically come back a few minutes after we leave.”

      Jared said, “That might be a bad idea.  It’s too risky.  They aren’t very fine tuned and you wouldn’t want to come back and smash into your younger self.”

      “Isn’t that impossible, though?”

      Jared shrugged, “Probably. From my tests I wasn’t able to change my own past, note’s withstanding.  But that wasn’t really my past, only a past I observed.”  Jared finally realized he had lost them all, “Let’s return a day later.  It’ll be safer, and less confusing.”

      “Thank you,” Aaron said to Jared.  He continued by asking, “Any other questions?”

      Cleo asked, “What is your plan?”

      Aaron, who seemed surprised that the plan had not got out to everybody yet, said, “As I said before, we still need to finalize the details.  Basically, we are going to trick China into attacking Russia and India on the Chinese New Year when most of their military will be on vacation.  At the same time, we’ll send forged e-mails from a Chinese general of the battle plans to various world leaders.”

      After a pause Aaron asked, “Any more questions?”  Once another period of silence passed he said, “OK, I guess that’s it.  We might have another meeting before we go.  If not, we’ll tell you well in advance when we are leaving.”

      After the meeting, Aaron met privately with Jared and asked him, “Does Carmen know how to use the time machines?”

       Jared shook his head no.

      “Would Samuel understand how to use one?  Are they tough?”

      Jared thought for a moment then said, “No, I don’t think so.  Not as tough a programming a digital television recorder.”

      “OK, can you teach them both before we leave?  I don’t think they’ll need to know how, but we should do it to be sure.”

      “Yes, definitely.”

****

      That afternoon the team got together for their first strategy meeting.  Carmen and Samuel also attended the meetings to help advise, but also to plan how the colony would be run with everybody gone.

      After gathering, the first order of business was to pick a general to frame a betrayal.  In the end, they actually choose two generals, one to frame, and one to issue the false attack order.  It was decided that if it came from the same general the team would be too obvious and the general’s betrayal would make less sense.  It was agreed that many would ask why if the general wanted to prevent the war he would start it.  They quickly found the generals and went on to the next issue, the language.

      Aaron started the language discussion by saying, “We’re going to have a tough time blending in, not only because we look American but also because we don’t speak Chinese.”

      Jared said facetiously, “I speak Chinese.  Listen, I can say wonton, crab Rangoon and Tempura.”

      Sarah said, “Great, you can order food if you stop at a restaurant while we’re there.”

      With a frown Jared said, “Come on, I made a funny.”  When still nobody laughed he said, “You’re all laughing inside!”

      “R – I – G – H – T,” Aaron said.

      “You have delayed senses of humor!”

      Aaron tried to get back on topic, “So anyway, a good amount of Chinese know English thanks to the internet.  Also, they have a great relationship with the US that started in the seventies when Nixon visited Mao Zedong in China.  Now with the US and China both being rogue nations in many respects they have become strong allies.  In a way, it’s historically ironic!

      “Still, we’ll fit in fine with civilians, but the military is another story.  Any amount of communication will be pointless as we break into the offices.  We might be able to get into their base, though.”

****

      The meeting continued for a few hours.  After the meeting, Mike found Oliver in the watching room, alone. Mike said to Oliver, “Why were Carmen and my father at the meeting and not me?”

      “I’m not sure.  We don’t really need many people.”

      “Then why have Carmen and my dad?”

      “I think your father is there because he’ll be running things when we’re gone.  Also, he designed this place, so he might help us plan leaving, entering, and sending the note.”

      “And Carmen,” Mike asked like a viper lunges at prey.

      “Look, Mike,” Oliver explained, “Carmen’s probably the smartest person here.  She knows a ton about science and probably about history.  She’d make a good hacker, because she’s curious.  She feeds on knowledge like, like Garfield feeds on lasagna!”

      Mike had no idea who or what Garfield was but said, “She’s still just learning though, like I am with you.  I should be there too.  I can help get information for the project.”

      Oliver let out a sigh, and then said, “Listen, Mike, you have to understand, she’s paid her dues.  I’ve seen her work with Jared.  He’s not her mentor; he’s her peer.  Yes, he has a better understanding of the hardware, which I can appreciate, but her understanding of software and her ability to code is extremely impressive. Hell, I bet she could out-code Yuri, and he’s been coding since he was younger than Carmen!

      “Also, we haven’t talked about it, but there are several differences between hackers and coders. Besides the social aspects, hackers take apart things and reshape them to work the way they desire.  Programmers build things from the ground up.  They’re designers and builders.  Sure, they reuse code, reuse ideas, avoid reinventing the wheel, but in many ways so do structural architects, like your dad.”

      He gave Oliver a blank look.

      “We break things, they build things.  We’re both driven by curiosity, but it’s a different curiosity.  Ours is a curiosity to see how we can change things, theirs is a curiosity in how they can make things . . . sort of.”

      “So you’re saying because we ‘break things’ they didn’t want me there?”

      “Yes.”

      “That can’t be the only reason.”

      “Why can’t it?”

      “Because it’s stupid”

      “You want a better reason?”

      “YES!”

      “Fine, here’s a better reason: because of what you said about her.”

      He blushed, “But it wasn’t about her.”

      “It was to them.  You didn’t complain about anybody else’s access.”

      “Who else was there?  That’s just it.  Almost nobody has access.”

      “Your father does.”

      “Right, and he should, we all should.  But her, she’s just, she’s no better than the rest of us.”

      Oliver shook his head as if the argument was circular.  “Look, if you don’t like it, talk to Aaron.  I’m not running things here.”

      With that, the conversation ended.  Mike never did talk to Aaron about it.

      During the next few weeks, the teams planned and trained to execute their strategy to stop the Chinese. During this time, the colony was very chaotic.  Several projects that they had been working on were postponed.

      As the team prepared, China tightened its grip on Russia, Belarus, Poland, and Germany.  A week before the team left on their mission China began its invasion of France.  While France made a better stand than they had in World War II, it was obvious that the Chinese would win.

Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford

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