XV - Arrogate
“To assume or appropriate to oneself without right.”
Date: Thursday, July 14, 2095
Location: FCA-1, Lunar Station, Sector 7
Age: 35 (Current)
“Kevin,” Connor whispered, “You need to wake up.”
“I’m awake,” I said softly, reality slowly coming into focus. True to Connor’s word, the euphoria was long gone. A minor case of nausea replaced it. I stood up. The scattered unconscious bodies of the FCA Gamma and Beta teams covered the floor. “Where are we?”
“Inside the FCA-1 Jaunte room. I brought us back shortly before we escaped. We’re going to one of the security offices and activate a protocol that will induce unconsciousness in everyone on this level. Then we’ll go back to Medical and help Ryan and Krissie. Stay quiet and follow me.”
“What about these guys?”
“They’ll be fine,” Connor said, handing me an Impüls from the black bag. We left the Jaunte room and walked purposefully down a series of hallways. After a series of three hall junctions, we came to a control room with an empty window where a force field should be. All around, holographic alert lights on the ceiling screamed angry red.
Connor jumped through the open window, motioning me to follow. I stood back and he began working at various stations. A series of holographic displays appeared across the stations, each detailing activity in separate rooms. Pockets of FCA personnel paced with worry, some held Impüls weapons in firing stance, aimed at compromised entrances. One display in particular caught my attention. An image of Ryan and Krissie standing against the wall as Corporation goons pointed Impüls weapons toward their heads.
“Connor! Over here,” I said.
He looked over in the direction of the screen to which I pointed. “We have to work quickly,” his said, with authority. “If any of them try to leave that room, tell me immediately.” I nodded. Connor entered information into a holographic keypad nearby. “Okay, here we go.”
I watched the display, holding my breath. Connor pressed a final button and said, “Berechnen, aktivieren Code blau, Sektor sieben.”
An audible low hum enveloped the station. On the Medical display, everyone fell to the ground and stayed there.
“Are they okay?”
“Yes. They’ll be out for several hours, or until I wake up them with good old fashioned smelling salts. Now we can go in and secure those Corporation bastards.”
“Assuming we got them all.”
Connor nodded with a blank stare. “Keep your Impüls ready on a lower setting. I want each man who breached our security alive for questioning.”
Connor dug through the black bag and handed me a packet of smelling salts. “When we get there, revive Krissie. I’ll help Ryan. He and I will secure the room.”
I followed Connor out the same open window we entered. I held the Impüls in a defensive position to covering his back as we speedily walked to our destination. We experienced no additional complications en route to Medical.
I knelt down before Krissie. She appeared unharmed from the stun. I cracked open a smelling salt and waved it under her nose. She reacted quickly, swatting the offense smell away. After a few seconds, she focus in on me. “Kevin?”
“It’s okay. Connor has things under control. How are you? Are you okay?”
“Took a bit of a fall I’m afraid,” she said, sitting up. “Are you alright, love? Any temporal sickness?”
Krissie amazed me. Here she sits after taking a zap from the station’s security system and her first concern is for me. “I’m fine. Connor has me pumped up with his temporal sickness medication.”
“Be careful with that brew. It can become a nasty habit.”
“So I hear.”
Ryan snapped awake a few feet over as Connor waved a smelling salt under his nose. Connor grabbed his arms to protect himself from Ryan’s instinctive need to defend himself. “Easy Ryan, the room is secure. Can you stand? We need to secure the infiltrators.”
“Yes, of course,” Ryan said, quickly standing. “What happened? Did you code blue the sector?”
“Yes. Is this all of them?”
“I think so,” Ryan said, quickly picking up an Impüls rifle. He kicked the rest away from the unconscious Corporation agents. He looked over toward Krissie. “Are you okay?”
Krissie waved in confirmation, taking the first available seat she could find. “Nothing a stiff lager won’t solve.”
Ryan looked back to Connor who searched through various draws and cabinets. “What’s different about you, Connor?” He turned to face Ryan, half-grinning. Ryan looked back at me and then back to Connor. “Kevin looks no different. But you, you look…older.”
“By four years, give or take some months,” Connor said. “Do we have any restraints in here?”
Krissie answered, “No. Use the bed restraints.”
“Even better. Help me, Ryan.”
One at a time, the two men picked up the three downed Corporation agents and placed them onto medical beds. Krissie activated each bed, somehow bounding the agents to their respective beds. Connor turned his attention to the agent he tied to a chair when the breach first occurred and bound him to a bed as well.
“How exactly are they restrained?” I asked.
Krissie explained. “Those beds have gravity enhanced restraints. They won’t be going anywhere.”
Ryan stopped to look at Connor after they were finished. “How is it you’re four years older and Kevin is not?” Ryan looked at me. “You aren’t four years older, are you?”
“No,” I said. “We had some…problems, after we left.”
Connor held up a finger in pause. He flipped open his communicator. “Release FCA-1 lockdown, authorization MacKenzie four, pi, upsilon, omega.” The pulsing red lights in the room’s corners disappeared. Connor tapped at the interface. “Attention FCA-1, this is MacKenzie. The security breach has been contained. All sector seven section leaders please prepare SITREP reports and submit let to Control by end of shift. Thank you. Actual out.”
Krissie pointed to one of the agents suspended to his bed. “That bloody goon there shot you at least three times, Connor. Quite frankly, I’m amazed you’re alive and in one piece.”
I scoffed. “Tell me about it.”
“As am I,” Connor said, in agreement. “You can thank him for saving my ass, Kevin.”
Both Ryan and Krissie looked in my direction. “Uh, no. Jim did that.”
Ryan perked up. “Jim Marks?”
“Yeah, Markaurdus. All I did was go get him.”
Ryan looked back to Connor, his face etched with shock at the mention of the Brüder name. Connor nodded. “He knows just about everything now. I’ve offered him inclusion in the FCA. We’ve been through quite a bit while we were away.”
A communicator in Krissie’s jacket pocket chirped. She flipped it open. “Go for Medical.”
“This is Seitz with Gamma team at the Jaunte terminal. I need assistance. Could you assist?”
“Copy, Seitz. On my way.” Krissie adjusted something on her communicator. “Dr. Hayes, respond.”
After a few seconds, a female voice answered. “This is Diana Hayes.”
“Di, it’s Krissie. Would you join me at the Jaunte? Gamma and Beta teams are down.”
“Copy Doctor, I’ll meet you there.”
Krissie closed her communicator and smiled. “A doctor’s work is never done, my handsome gents. I expect a full report of your little adventure when I return.”
“You’ll have it,” Connor said. Krissie grabbed another black bag of medical devices and excused herself.
Ryan sat down, looking at Connor. “Now, what exactly happened to the two of you?”
Connor and I spent the next half hour taking turns regaling our tale. Looks of shock and surprise on Ryan’s face came and went as the story unfolded, most notably when Connor revealed the transfer of the Temporal Displacement ability to me when he was at his worst. The moment I thought Ryan might pass out from shock were the disclosures of ES-1’s survival and ultimately the divulging of Brüder-4. Ryan believed the ship to be a myth. His reaction was analogous of a fellow archeologist revealing he discovered and held the Holy Grail. Ryan stood up and walked to the other side of the room to collect himself. He looked at Connor. “You saw it?” He then jerked his head to me and asked the same thing.
“I saw it from a distance,” I said.
“Yes I saw it,” Connor said. “I flew it long enough to rescue Kevin and his friend. It glides like its on rails, the transport system.”
“And the gravity drive?” Ryan asked. “Is it real?”
“It is,” Connor replied. “Although we weren’t able to test it. I figured you might want to come along for that ride.”
Ryan’s eyes nearly fell out of his head. “You’re damn straight I want to be there. That would be an honor and a privilege.”
Connor laughed. “You’ll get your chance, my friend. I promise you.”
Ryan approached Connor and fell to one knee. “Thank you, sir.”
Connor appeared mildly uncomfortable at the show of royalty. “None necessary, old friend. Please, you can stand up now.”
Ryan did and then approached me, hand extended. “Kevin, please understand that any doubts I had about you was nothing personal. When Connor initially suggested he might ask you to join our group, I resisted out of concern for your lack of training and lack of information about your belief system. In the few instances I’ve witnessed, when some folks without any formal training are asked to join, they didn’t always end well.”
“I heard about the suicide,” I said.
“Just the one?” Ryan asked. “There was more than one. It takes a very special kind of person to handle the truth of--” Ryan waved his hand around “—all of this.” I shook Ryan’s extended hand. “Thank you for saving Connor’s life. For whatever its worth, I would be proud to call you my FCA brother.”
“As would I,” I said, grinning cautiously.
Connor finished our story from the discovery of Brüder-4 up until we appeared here. Krissie returned, insisting Connor and I received a check up. Connor allowed it, as did I. Krissie noted the exceptional job the doctor who worked on me did on my broken ribs. We were in good health, considering my last twenty-four hours, and Connor’s last four years.
The status of the Corporation guards was another story. Out of the four, only three were revivable. The forth could not be revitalized with any known methods.
Connor stood over the comatose agent’s bed. “I wish Jim was here.” I asked why. “Because I suspect this man here, he’s soul suppressed. Someone was using his body as a vessel. Jim could confirm this.”
“Couldn’t we Jaunte to ES-1 and bring him back?” I asked.
“Could we?” Connor asked in reply. “Yes. Will we? No.”
“I don’t understand.”
Ryan stepped in, tapping on the agent who would not wake up. “Someone with the ability to displace spiritually was using this guard here.”
“You mean like Martin?” I asked. “With what he does.”
Connor slammed his hand down on the table. “Yes! Exactly what Martin does! There is only one known instance of that element and Martin has it.” The looks around the room ranged from terror to shock and in my case, confusion.
Krissie looked at Connor. “Are you in fact suggesting our Mr. Wexler is responsible for this brouhaha?”
“No, never,” Connor said, shaking his head, but the look of fear on his face told otherwise. “However, his ability could have been stolen or forcibly given to The Corporation under duress.”
“Well, hold on,” Ryan said, jumping in. “Martin was with me when The Corporation attacked us over ES-5, and he was conscious. He stayed behind at the Jaunte portal in 2006, as the Jaunte protocol would not protect him. It couldn’t possibly be him.”
Connor stared off into space. No one said anything. Finally, I said something. “Look, obviously The Corporation can imitate the visual displacement thing. Who’s to say they didn’t do the same with the spiritual displacement.”
Connor looked at me with concern. “I hope you’re not right, Kevin. The Corporation managed to crack the concept of visual displacement. The math behind it, it’s not so hard to figure out, but to synthesize spiritual displacement? It’s impossible, basically, just as synthesizing temporal displacement will always be impossible. But…” Connor cut himself off, staring blankly into the room. He shook his head, running his fingers through the air. “We need to interrogate these goons.”
Ryan readily agreed and walked to the center console controlling the beds. Blue force fields appeared, separating each bed. The pale blue walls became cloudy so one could not see inside.
Krissie leaned over to me to explain, “They’re separating them and will be interviewing them one at a time. This way, those sods will not have the opportunity to use one another’s answers.” She suddenly squeezed my arm – hard – and then let go. I nodded, writing it off as her touchy feely personality. Detective work is the same in any era, regardless how cool the technology is.
“Don’t you have some kind of future truth serum that would make this go faster?”
“We do,” she said, rubbing up behind me, body fully pressed up against mine at this point. “But it’s dangerous. If one of those lads were a Brüder in disguise, it would kill him in seconds. For humans, it works reliably for a half an hour, give or take, but then they require induced sleep or they could die of over stimulated brain activity. It’s a last resort. The agents know this, as does Connor.” Krissie paused. “He may get what he needs before we have to think about that protocol.”
Now Krissie was all but pushing up against me from behind. Normally, I would welcome such an act, but under these circumstances, it seemed more than odd. I turned my head to give her an inquisitive look. She smiled seductively, wrapping her left arm around my middle. I was about to say something to her regarding her advance. Her next action all but provided the explanation. With her right hand, she raised an injector of TS-14 and thrust it into my jugular.
“Connor!” She snapped, her noticeable British accent gone. Both Connor and Ryan looked back, immediately recognizing the new threat.
“Krissie?” Connor asked.
“Wrong,” she answered. “You’re going to do exactly as I say MacKenzie, or I’ll pump your boy so full of this shit, it’ll turn his brain into a Slurpee.”
Connor and Ryan lifted their hand into the air as she pushed the injector uncomfortably deeper into my neck.
Connor carefully stepped forward. “I assume you’re the one responsible for these security breaches?”
“You assume correct,” Krissie said, although it really was not Krissie. Someone else controlled her, most likely through spiritual displacement. “This has been a long time coming MacKenzie. I can’t tell you how glad I am we’re finally here.”
Connor looked cautiously at Krissie. I turned my head to the side to see her better. Her eyes were different, no longer green. Connor held his hands up higher. “I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me who you are.”
“Maybe later, after we’ve finished doing what we need to do. In fact, there’s no maybe about it. I want to see the look on your face when you realize the truth about this whole charade.”
Ryan was visibly displeased. Connor kept his cool, attempting more dialog. “I see you’re able to displace spiritually. When did The Corporation achieve this?”
‘Krissie’ shook her head, pursing her lips. “In time MacKenzie, in time. For now, we’re going to take a little trip. There are some things I need to do before I can finally be free of this nightmare, and you good sir are going to help me.”
Connor glanced cautiously at Ryan, and then back to us. “What exactly do you want me to do for you?”
“Provide me with some transportation.”
“Where do you want to go, specifically?”
“Not where. When.”
Connor raised his eyebrows. “You want me to take you to another point in time?”
“No one else has the ability, so, yes.”
Connor shook his head. “Sorry friend, no can do. If you know anything about me or the FCA, you’d know that any of us would willingly give our lives before violating any Temporal Directive, including me.”
The soul inhabiting Krissie’s body used her to laugh at Connor and his statement of bravery. “I’m well acquainted with your FCA Oath. However, your boy Kevin here isn’t FCA and I know you wouldn’t give his life. I also know everything Miss Ecklie knows, including ways to use these wonderful Brüder toys to inflict pain.” ‘Krissie’ and Connor stared each other down. “No, I don’t need to kill you MacKenzie. By the time I am done with you and everyone here, you’ll beg to take me whenever I wish to go.”
Connor glanced briefly at me. I could see worry in his eyes. While I had no doubt Connor would die for his cause, I had to wonder if he would let me die.
“Take me instead,” Connor said, offering himself up in my place.
“Displace into my body, we’ll work it out from there.”
“No,” Krissie’s abductor spat. “I know exactly what you’re capable of, MacKenzie. You’ll take us past 2095 and kill us both.”
Connor’s gaze of concern changed. He now looked suspiciously confusion. I could almost read his thoughts. Whoever controlled Krissie’s body had knowledge of classified FCA related information. I could see Connor working it out in his head.
“I’d like to say something here if I may,” I said under my breath. The force of the injector increased.
“What is it?” Krissie’s abductor asked.
“If you can read Krissie’s thoughts, you should already know I don’t care about dying.” I attempted to project confidence in my statement.
“I know things about you, Provance. Things you haven’t experienced yet. I know you don’t want to die, even if you believe you’re ready to right now.” ‘Krissie’ paused. “Oh boy, do you have some tough times ahead. You really will want to die before it’s all over.”
“Huh? What the fuck does that mean?”
“Can’t say, old chum,” she said with a phony British accent, bending my arm behind my back. A sharp jolt of pain shot through my shoulder. “I know you want to see your little boy again. So be honest with me, conundrum, do you really want to die before that happens?” I didn’t answer. She had me. “Yeah, I thought so. Now shut up!”
Connor interrupted, “Where do you want to go exactly, in time?”
Ryan reacted badly. “Connor!”
Krissie’s abductor shoved the injector higher up on my neck, to show Ryan they were serious. I flinched as she pushed me slightly forward to show her intention to harm me. “Shut up, Capcoseve!”
“Stand down Ryan,” Connor said, softly. “I’ve got this under control.”
Krissie’s kidnapper pressed the inject button, sending a stream of medication directly into my blood stream. I gasped. The head rush was unbelievable. Even with the added euphoria, I wasn’t feeling first-rate. “You are not in control of anything, MacKenzie! This thing has about seven more shots to it. Four will kill him, easily.”
I had to close one eye to see straight. Ryan shook his head in defiance. Connor reached out in concern. “C’mon now,” he said. “That isn’t necessary. I’ll cooperate.”
“Damn straight you will,” I heard Krissie’s accent-less voice declare. “Let’s understand one thing right now, gentlemen. There will be no time jumping stunts like you pulled a few minutes ago, or I empty this thing into his blood stream. And you Ryan, if you pull a disappearing act, I will kill your new friend just as quickly. Do we understand each other?”
Ryan nodded. Connor asked, “Again, what year do you want me to take you?”
“Right now we are going up to the bay where Brüder-2 is docked and fly back to Earth.” No one said anything. “Is there a problem?”
Connor said, “You do understand it’s a risky thing, flying Brüder-2 from here to Earth, right? She can handle outer-space flights with one pilot only, and even then, it’s not a good idea. If you’re taking all of us, I can’t guarantee life support will handle the load.”
“I do understand the risks,” I heard Krissie’s voice say. Staying awake was a chore now. I really wanted to fall asleep. “We are not using the Jaunte gentlemen, considering all of us have to be asleep to go through. I also know you can open temporal portals big enough to fly into, and that’s what we’re going to do. The ship will be fine, as will I. Your survival is all I care about, MacKenzie. Everyone else is expendable. You and Kevin will wear portable life support systems. Ryan can make due with the ship’s life support.”
Ryan flinched. “What the hell did I ever do to you?”
“Being a kiss ass suck up to begin with. I could go on forever about why you’re worthless.”
Ryan looked suspiciously confused. He turned to Connor. “Who the hell is this guy?”
“Not now, Ryan,” Connor whispered. “That’s an order.”
“Yes sir,” he said lowly, clearly perturbed.
Due to my questionable state of consciousness, I had to say something. “Look, I don’t think I can walk right now. I feel like I might pass out.”
Krissie’s hijacker pointed to the wheel chair next to the medical bed. “MacKenzie, push that chair over here. Easy!” Connor obliged. He gently pushed the chair towards us. It rolled to a stop on its own inertia. Finally, I could sit down. Krissie’s abductor continued to press the injector into my neck. I forced myself to stay awake as long as I could.
Ryan looked down in my direction, his hand still held high. “Are you okay Kevin? Can you hear me?”
I nodded. “I really want to go to sleep. Would that be bad?”
‘Krissie’ answered me. “No, it wouldn’t, at least not yet. Any more injections from here on in would be bad for you, sleeping or not.”
“Okay,” I said, lazily. “Thanks.”
“Listen Kevin, don’t take any of this personally,” ‘Krissie’ said. “This isn’t about you. I kind of like you a little. I’d really hate to hurt you more or kill you, but make no mistake; if Connor doesn’t do what I need him to do, I’ll have to carry through with my threat. Do you understand?”
“Yeah,” I said through a slur, finally succumbing to the desire to sleep.
It was a wonderful sleep, very peaceful and quiet. It seemed to last only a few seconds until I was asked to wake up. ‘Krissie’ snapped a smelling salt under my hanging face. I snapped awake. “Ugh, fuck that shit. Where are we?”
Connor answered, “We’re ready to board Bruder-2.”
I looked over. ‘Krissie’ was pushing me in the wheelchair as she held the injector against my neck. “Do I know you, when you are – you?”
“Sorry Kevin, I can’t answer that right now.”
“You said you kind of liked me,” I said, closing my eyes from the vertigo. “This means we’ve met before, right? Under other circumstances?”
‘Krissie’ sighed in frustration. “Yes Kevin, we’ve met before. But it might not be the meeting you think it is.”
“Dan?” I groggily asked. Who else could it be?
‘Krissie’ threw her head back and laughed. “Sorry old bean,” she said using a badly mock British accent. “No more questions. Let’s just get this done and it’ll all be over. Then you can go home.”
‘Krissie’ helped me stand, still under duress. We walked to the entrance of Brüder-2. Connor and Ryan entered first, hands raised. Krissie’s abductor placed me in the seat behind the copilot. I managed to glance over to the pilot’s chair, where Ryan sat. He looked back with great concern. Connor took his place in the copilot’s chair. ‘Krissie’ stood behind me, injector firmly planted into neck.
Ryan handed me a backpack with no discernable purpose. He also handed one to Connor.
“Ryan, you take mine,” I said. “You’re the pilot and you should have it.” Ryan glanced at ‘Krissie’, who shook her head.
“Thanks, partner,” Ryan whispered. “You use it. I’ll be okay.”
Connor tapped the panel for a COM line. “TDI-1 requesting clearance for take off.” There was no answer. Connor repeated the request. He looked back at ‘Krissie’. “Sometimes this can take a minute. It’s not a planned launch.”
“Yes, I know!” she snapped. “Keep trying.”
“This is TDI-1, MacKenzie, Connor, FCA 67910509 requesting clearance to launch Bruder-2. Please advise.”
Still slightly confused over what was happening to me, I asked, “Won’t they be suspicious?”
“No,” ‘Krissie’ said. “Connor is TDI-1. He could literally do anything he wanted and no one would question him. It’s a flawed system.” Connor looked back towards ‘Krissie’ clearly perturbed. “Something wrong, MacKenzie?”
“Apparently so,” Connor said, in quip. “You certainly have some strong opinions regarding the FCA.”
“No MacKenzie, I have some pretty strong opinions regarding you.”
A reply over the COM system cut off the about-to-get-ugly diatribe. “TDI-1, you are clear to depart. Safe journey.”
“Copy, FCA-1. See you soon. TDI-1, out.”
Ryan tapped at various controls on the ship’s flight panel. The cockpit pressurized as the shift is gravity jostled us. Ryan powered up the engine, lifting the ship upward. I watched the ascent through the ship’s front view screen. Within seconds, open space filled the view, along with the surface of the moon slowly drifting away. I could see no visible opening where the ship emerged. I closed my eyes. The vertigo was too much to handle with an already spinning head.
“Okay Ryan,” Connor said. “Let’s do this.”
“Inertia dampening activated.” The air pressure in the ship increased, enveloping me.
“Check,” Ryan responded.
“Ion drive primed.” The hum emanating from the rear of the ship grew louder, increasing in pitch.
“Check. Operating at ninety-six percent efficiency.”
I could hear Connor tap at additional controls on the flight panel. “Life support at maximum.”
“Check,” Ryan said. “I estimate we should have enough usable air for at least forty-five minutes before we need to recycle.”
I cracked open an eye. Connor looked at Ryan. “At ninety-six percent, how long till we reach Earth? Can we do it in under thirty minutes?”
Ryan tapped in calculations. “In relation to where we are now? Yes. If we’re going to displace the entire ship in space and Earth ends up on the other side of the sun, no.”
Connor turned at looked at ‘Krissie’. “Okay, so? Where do you want to go?”
“June 13, 2025, as close to five in the evening as possible.”
I opened my eyes, perked up by the reveal of 2025. I gauged Connor’s expression. He glanced at me briefly to acknowledge the look of surprise on my face. This was about the 2025 quarter. Connor returned to his position at the flight panel and closed his eyes to concentrate. After several seconds Connor spoke. “If the math is correct and I should be able to pull this off. The Earth’s position should be between 3 to 5 light minutes from our position, upon arrival.”
Ryan tapped out additional calculations at his panel. He paused after reading the results. “It’s going to be close Connor, assuming we can maintain that ninety-six percent engine efficiency. Figure twelve minutes of travel – fifteen to be safe - for each light minute, anything past three light minutes is a question mark.”
Connor turned back to Krissie. “There you go, what do you want us to do?”
“Displace now, please.”
Connor shook his head in resignation and turned to Ryan. “When I open the portal, take us through.”
Ryan stared back at Connor, expressionless. “Copy.”
Connor sat back and closed his eyes. Through the view port of the ship, the white star-like light of the displacement portal appeared. In my previous experiences, its size never exceeded that of a basketball. The one Connor opened was enormous. I couldn’t guess at how big it was, except to say it was big enough to encompass the entire ship. After a few seconds, Ryan guided the ship through.