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Displaced I: The Exchange

By Kevin Provance All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Adventure

XVII - Genesis

“An origin, creation, or beginning.”

*

Date: Thursday, June 13, 1991

Location: Ocean City, Maryland, Room 13

Age: 35 (Current)

*

I

The silence in the room was deafening. Martin, using Krissie’s body as hit host gawked at Victor, his long lost friend. I stared at Martin in shock, amazed he could turn on the FCA the way he did. It did answer a great many questions raised over the last hour. Even with the reveal of Krissie’s abductor, it raised other questions. Although Martin had knowledge of inner FCA workings and its players, he seemed ignorant of activities that happened over the last few days, my time. There was no mention of Wald, or the incident at Area 51 where we left him, and absolutely no mention of anything that happened at ES-1 or the existence of Brüder-4. The only logical answer: he did not know about them. I wondered if this personification of Martin was the one left behind at Area-51. The evidence suggested he was not, so this must be some younger embodiment. Connor was going to be pissed beyond all comprehension. Martin Wexler was the FCA mole.

Martin’s tears began to fall down Krissie’s face as he lowered his weapon and took several steps toward Victor. Unfamiliar with Martin’s surrogate body, Victor backed up. Martin stopped. “Victor, it’s me. Martin.”

Victor peered from behind the Corporation agent. “I don’t know who you are.”

“No, it is me. I have this…ability, to jump my consciousness from one body to another,” Martin said. “I wasn’t able to come here as myself.”

“No,” Victor said. “If you were Martin, you’d help get me out of this mess.”

“No, dude – I swear. Walter knew all about it. I was going to tell you about it the night you disappeared at Cranberry Mall.”

Victor’s apprehensive expression changed to one of cautious belief. “I was told Walter died that night in a riot and that Martin disappeared.”

“Walter did die,” Martin said, with a wince. “He gave his life to save Cyndi. I took a knife to the chest to save him. I wasn’t…I wasn’t fast enough to save him.”

Victor looked at me, with additional confusion. I gazed back pondering why he looked so familiar. It was more than putting a face to the stories Connor told me about him. I had seen him before, at his current age. “Kevin?”

“You know me?” I asked, surprised.

“You don’t remember me, do you?”

Martin looked back at me, also confused. Dan smiled smugly at the diatribe in progress. He appeared to be enjoying this encounter with a certain amount of satisfaction.

I looked back to Victor. “You look familiar. I don’t know why.”

Victor shook his head in sympathy. “Dan was right about you becoming some kind of time traveler. How old are you now?”

“Thirty-five,” I said in a small voice. “Why, at what age do you remember me?”

“It was two years ago. You were seventeen,” Victor said, sounding disheartened. “You’re thirty-five now and you still don’t remember.”

Victor’s reference to my age meant we met in 1989. It had to be the morning at Liberty reservoir I was never able to remember. What else could it be? “But you remember me,” I said with enthusiasm. “Something happened to me in the summer of 1989, when I was seventeen. Something I can’t remember. Were you there? What happened to me that day?”

Dan stepped in front of Victor, damned near in panic. “Sorry Kevin, but I can’t allow Mr. Merrick to answer that.”

“You know too, don’t you?” I asked. Dan shrugged. He knew, but wanted to be a prick about it. “You bastard, I saved your life. You owe me the truth.”

Dan’s expression indicated he took exception to my comment. “On the contrary, I already repaid that debt. It’s the reason you are standing before me now, instead of serving at my whim. I understand you have no idea of what I’m talking about. For that, I forgive your lack of respect. But knowing now that you still have your freedom due to my act of compassion, I would appreciate the proper respect.”

I glared at him, but made no further comment. From behind, Victor shook his in warning, suggesting I let the matter drop.

Dan turned his attention to Martin, grinning. “An interesting dilemma, wouldn’t you say, Mr. Wexler? I suppose we’ll find out shortly where your loyalty truly lies.”

Martin shot Dan a hateful look. “Fuck you, little man. I could kill everyone in this room in an instant and walk away clean.”

“I believe you, but I’m guessing you won’t. You want what my superiors promised you, correct? Your freedom?”

Martin said nothing, stepping down from his defensive posture. He looked at the IA next to him. “Go on, give him what he wants.”

The IA stepped forward, pulling an item out of his vest pocket. He held it up for Dan’s inspection. I could see all too clearly, what it was.

A quarter, from the year of its origin, in 2025. I was witnessing the origin of FutureQuarter’s rightful place in time.

The IA spoke, “The information you desire is encoded inside the inner edge of this coin.”

“Encoded?” Dan asked, annoyed. He reached for the coin.

The IA snapped it away. “Here is how we will proceed. I will turn the coin over to you. You will turn Mr. Merrick over to The Coyote,” – Martin, using Krissie’s body - “at which time I will send them through the portal. When the Coyote returns, I will then supply you with the decryption protocol.”

Dan was fuming. “This is not what we agreed to, sir. There was never any stipulation involving cryptology.”

The IA remained devoid of emotion, physically or in his reply. “Our apologies Mr. Wilson, but we felt this precaution necessary considering the reputation of your organization.”

One of the Corporation agents shifted in discomfort, offended by the IA’s words. He caught my attention. I recognized him immediately. He was the man who gave chance to the kid who ran into me at the Photon arena in 1991, when I was nineteen. Tessie Manyette and I were endeavoring to find change for the horoscope scroll machine when that kid ran into us. When he took off, the agent standing before me now would continue pursuit, pausing only to turn around and give me a creepy stare.

It all fell into place.

The pit of my stomach turned ice cold with horror. The teenage Victor Merrick currently held hostage in this room was the kid who ran into me at the Photon arena while fleeing the Corporation agent. I now understood why Victor seemed so familiar.

II

I knew what was about to happen here.

Victor will take the coin from one of the men in this room and run with it. The Corporation guards will give chase. Soon after, Victor will run into the teenage versions of Tessie and me at the Photon arena only a few blocks away. The guard will eventually catch Victor. Finally, for some reason I still don’t know, the Corporation will attempt to kidnap my seventeen year old counterpart, but will fail because I caught Myer’s cap when the thunderstorm wind blew it off his head, putting it on my own. The Corporation will confuse Wald with me, and will take him in my place. I am standing moments away from the beginning of this mess. I witnessed it when I was seventeen and I didn’t know it. My seventeen-year-old equivalent was going to suffer years of pain over the loss of Wald because of this moment here, now.

III

Dan glared at the IA with disdain. “Excuse me? Reputation? What reputation would that be exactly?” The IA did not reply. “Look pal, just give me the damned coin, you cold hearted, emotionless, shell of a person.”

“Scurrilous insults do not affect me, Mr. Wilson. I am incapable of emotion. Do you still wish to know the location of the missing Bruder ship?”

The missing Bruder ship? Did he mean Bruder-4?

“Yes, of course!” Dan said, with impatience. “What about the decryption protocol?

The IA withdrew a HoloLog from his inner vest pocket. “You get this when Mr. Merrick and The Coyote cross through to my counterpart and the Coyote returns.”

Dan didn’t look convinced. “How do I know any of this information you are providing is legitimate? What if it’s nothing more than how to make waffles in 2025?”

“You don’t, Mr. Wilson,” the IA said, flatly. “What you have is the track record of our organization in keeping promises and delivering those promises. Anything else would require lies and deception. We are incapable of neither.”

Dan was speechless. He seemed to believe the IA’s last line. “Fine. Let’s do this.”

The IA handed Dan the quarter. Dan inspected it closely. He nodded to the guard holding Victor. They stepped forward. Victor stopped to watch Dan hold the quarter up to the light. “Was it worth it, Dan?”

“Was what worth it?

“Kidnapping me and holding me hostage the last two years.” Sourness dripped over each word.

“I knew it,” Martin said, glaring at Dan. “Why take Victor? Why not me?”

“As you'll recall Mr. Wexler, when we first met, The Corporation had another task in mind for you. Then you escaped. Not that it matters at this point. My superiors asked for Victor Merrick by name. He is a better candidate.”

“Candidate for what?”

“The final phase of The Awakening, of course.”

“I don’t understand what that means,” Martin said.

Dan laughed. “Nor do you need to.”

Before Martin could reply, Victor snatched the quarter out of Dan’s hand and pushed him onto the floor. Martin, whom I expected to assist the Corporation, turned on them and fired on the Corporation agents. He hit the first one point blank. The agent dropped to the floor, writing in pain. Victor ran for the door. He threw himself into it, knocking off its flimsy hinges. I didn’t have to see outside to know Victor was heading for the boardwalk.

Martin called out after him. “Run Victor, hide. I’ll find you.”

Krissie’s body went limp as Martin left her. I caught her before she hit the floor.

Dan flipped open his communicator. “Cristalstimus, Merrick is on the run. Locate him and do whatever you have to do to recapture him.”

Kopieren,” a gritty voice replied.

The remaining Corporation agent and the IA left the room to give pursuit, leaving Dan with an unconscious Krissie and myself. He stared at me, shaking his head in disgust. I locked his gaze. I would not let this little man back me down. “Well, this turned out to be one major fuck up, wouldn’t you say, Kevin?”

“What happened to me in 1989?” I asked, ignoring his commentary.

Dan laughed again, finishing with his creepy grin. “Take your friend and go while I’m still feeling generous. None of this concerns you any longer.”

“We can leave, just like that?”

Dan made a ‘brushing away’ movement with his hand. “Yes, go. I’m sure we’ll see each other again.”

Without further diatribe, I picked Krissie up and carried her into the brightly lit portal.

IV

Krissie and I returned to 2025, exactly as we left it. I placed her gently on the floor.

The older Dan tiredly observed our arrival. “Mr. MacKenzie, you may close the portal now. No one else will be returning.”

The portal disappeared.

The other AI turned to Dan. “Where is my partner? He should have returned.”

“No, I’m afraid he stayed behind to fulfill his destiny.” Dan revealed an Impüls from his coat pocket and fired it at the IA, dropping him to the floor. In fluid motion, he also fired on the two remaining Corporation agents, dropping them as well. He then tossed the Impüls to the floor. It landed in front of my feet.

I picked it up and holstered it in the waistband of my pants. “Did you kill them?” I asked.

“Absolutely not,” Dan replied. “I am no murderer. They’ll all wake up in a few hours and I will be gone. My work here is done, forever.”

Connor appeared genuinely intrigued by Dan’s words. “You’re leaving The Corporation? I didn’t think that was possible.”

“It’s not,” Dan said. “It’s a lifetime commitment. Anyone who attempts to leave is captured, eventually. The punishment is soul suppression until death. As you may or may not know, that soul does not return to its source. It remains lost for all eternity. A fitting end to traitors.”

I peered at the old man, highly suspicious. “Why would you quit?”

Dan shook his head. “I need to ask something of Mr. MacKenzie first.”

Connor peered at Dan, motionless. “Go on.”

Dan stood up straight, adjusting his tie and suit jacket. “Connor MacKenzie, I hereby request asylum within the FCA. I am now an exile of The Corporation and a wanted man. I seek your protection.”


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