The Time Catalyst

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Chapter 14

Miracles, Inc. Tower, Monday morning…

It was one of those days when things at work were so normal that Patrick had actually forgotten all about chronoportation technology and Drogheda. What helped was the fact that, since the past weekend when Patrick, Tadosh, and Thomas were able to construct a new Solar Converter Receiver, the last few days had been quiet on the front. Patrick held meetings with a couple of potentially new clients. One was in the business of nanotechnology for medical purposes. The other was with a representative of the Egyptian government who was looking to Miracles as a contractor to desalinate seawater for his nation’s citizens. Patrick was even able to go to one of his more conventional labs (that is, not the one in the basement) and help out with a little scientific research. He had forgotten how much he had enjoyed his work because of all the time traveling business interrupting his personal and professional life.

But the issue of time travel came up anyway. Early in the evening on Monday, Patrick got a call on his cell phone while he was making a memo on his computer. After pulling out the phone from his business-casual jacket, he glanced at the caller id field. It was the Seattle police!

“Great…this can’t be good!” Patrick then turned his attention to his computer terminal and spoke to his Virtual Reality avatar. “Say, Charles…?”

Over the memo document that Patrick was typing appeared the silly-looking wizard, seen only from the chest-up. “Yes, Dr. McClain?”

“Can you try to do something with the last part of my memo? I’ve go to take this call.”

Charles’ eyes blinked and then he went into a little dance. “I’ll be happy to help you, Doctor!”

Patrick finally answered the call.

“Hello? Yes, this is he…yeah, I know him…what!…is he all right?…on what grounds? My wife’s a lawyer, she could—!…all right, I’ll be down.”

Patrick, as he often did when agitated, sighed heavily while rubbing his hair.

“Charles…?”

“Yes, Dr. McClain?”

“Why don’t you just finish the rest of the memo for me and save it then go ahead and email it, will you? I’ve got something to take care of.”

“I’m saving it now, Doctor…”

Seattle Police Department precinct, downtown Seattle…

After Patrick signed all the necessary paper work and paid the bail, he finally saw Tadosh come around a corner that led to jail cells. Tadosh, dressed in basic jeans, a T-shirt, a baseball cap, and a sports jacket, barely looked up to Patrick’s face. Patrick was a bit upset. It must have shown on his face when Tadosh looked at him.

On closer inspection of Tadosh as they both walked out of the precinct, Patrick noticed that his jacket had a rip on one of its sleeves and Tadosh had some dry blood on his lips.

“First of all,” Patrick said with genuine care, “are you all right?”

“Yeah…thanks for asking Dr. McClain.”

They stepped into Patrick’s “street” car, which was just a couple of years old and, even then, was still on the high-end of the price spectrum. Patrick’s other cars, his toy ones, stayed safely tucked away at his estate. They were driven only on special occasions.

“Was it one of them,” Patrick asked as he started up the car then slowly moved out into traffic.

“Oh, yeah…Stefan. I was taking a dinner break at one of the restaurants with a television set on. I heard on one of the local TV news stations that there was a robbery in progress at a downtown computer store. I figured it was one of them. How often do you hear about a computer store being robbed around five o’clock in the afternoon…during rush hour?”

“Hmm! Drogheda must be getting desperate.”

Patrick glanced at Tadosh with curiosity.

“So, you’re still driving around town with your spectrometer in the hopes that they’ll teleport again and you’ll detect them?”

“That’s right, Doctor. I figured it would be a good back up, just in case your wife was right about the possibility that we could miss them while they try to chronoport out of this time.”

“So, how did Stefan get away? If he teleported we should be able to detect where he went to, right?”

Tadosh rubbed his head, partially from the pain from his fight, partially because of embarrassment. “Uh…actually, Dr. McClain, the kid simply beat the crap out of me while I was trying to snag the computer away from him. That’s when we started to dance, if you know what I mean! That’s why the cops picked me up…disturbing the peace! Huh, and here I am trying to help preserve it! Anyway, Stefan jumped into his car with the computer and drove off…sorry, Dr. McClain, no teleporting to report about.”

“Well, I’m surprised that he didn’t try to blast you!”

“Oh, no, Doctor. None of us would take any chances of shooting off our laser guns downtown. Not outside, anyway. There are simply too many people around and we would only complicate our presence in your time. Even Drogheda and his men wouldn’t risk that.”

Patrick sighed as he came to a stop at a red light. “Did you happen to see which direction Stefan drove off to?”

“South, but he could have turned off anywhere after that.”

So close, Patrick thought to himself.

“Oh, I did manage to retrieve a little something when I grabbed him, though,” Tadosh said with a smile.

Feeling depressed, Patrick glanced at Tadosh, uninterestedly. Tadosh pulled out a small device that looked similar to a cell phone.

“What is it?”

“A communicator that’s quite ubiquitous from my time…you know how, in your time, every email is recorded?”

“Yeah…?”

Tadosh just smiled as he gently tossed the communicator up and down in his hand. Right away, Patrick understood what he was inferring. Patrick’s eyes widened and his mood totally changed.

“You can track every communiqué that was done on that thing,” Patrick asked with a brighter demeanor.

“Yep! It’s a security backup system that governments in the 23rd century felt was needed, for situations like court evidence or for situations like ours…think of it as a flight data recorder for your cell phone!”

“I’m surprised the cops didn’t take that away from you.”

“Well, they have to return your personal items to you upon release…they didn’t know this was Stefan’s. For all they knew, this was an advanced cell phone that they’ve never seen before!”

The two men broke out into a laugh as Patrick drove back to the Miracles, Inc. skyscraper

Basement laboratory at the Miracles, Inc. Tower; Monday night…

After Patrick had stopped at a drive through restaurant to get himself something to eat, he and the Pangean secret agent were back in the clandestine lab. Tadosh played around with Stefan’s communicator device so that it would play back any and all messages at Tadosh’s keyed-in requests. Since the communicator could play back all conversations in various modes—audio, electronic text, and other ways too advanced for Patrick to understand—Tadosh had to take the time to select which method he wanted the recording displayed. The results were disturbing…

“ ’…the next thing I want you to do after that, Stefan, is try to see what it would take to get a job with the University in the Science department.’ “ The voice was that of Drogheda.

The late-23rd century communicator had means to conduct multiple-way communication, so Drogheda and both of his two subordinates were heard on the recordings as well. Patrick looked at Tadosh with horror after hearing Drogheda’s intentions with the University, for that was where Samantha taught law courses!

“ ’Okay,’ “ Stefan’s voice came in, “ ’what position do you think I should try for?’ “

“ ’Remember how we were able to get on at Miracles? In this time in history, people had to see what jobs they had open. It’s not like our time, guys, so you’ll have to keep an open eye for whatever’s being offered.’ “

Now Tage’s voice was heard. “Sir, I’m right in front of the University grounds and I see people tending to gardens and the lawns…those kinds of jobs are usually pretty easy to get.’ “

Now Drogheda responded. “ ’Well, the thing is, Tage, we’re trying to step things up before McClain and that agent finally catch up with us again! We don’t have much time to play the working part like we did at Miracles

“ ’I suggest you try to get something in the Computer Engineering Department, that way you’d have instant access to their software. Remember, we’re going to need an encryption program ASAP if we’re going to keep McClain and Pangea off our backs!

As the voices droned on, Patrick and Tadosh exchanged alarmed glances. Drogheda and his men were in the process of coding their time catalyst so that Dr. McClain and Tadosh could not find out when they were going to time travel! That was why Drogheda talked of an encryption program.

“ ’Sir,’ “ Stefan came back in, “ ’I don’t mean to sound like an obstructionist but where are we going to keep all of those people when they chronoport here? Our new apartment isn’t that much bigger!

“Sweet nectar of life,” Tadosh punched out quickly as the recording went on.

“ ’Well…’ “ Drogheda’s voice came in, this time with the sound of a crowd of people in the background and a horn blowing.

“He must have got on a ferry, most likely in Elliott Bay,” Patrick quickly commented as he nervously looked at Tadosh.

Tadosh quietly nodded as they both listened to Drogheda’s voice.

“ ’…I know that most of them can fit in the apartment. I don’t know…we may have to rent another one somewhere.’ ”

“ ’How many are you expecting to come over, sir,’ “ Tage asked.

“ ’Twenty…that should be a big enough number to start with…

Tadosh deactivated Stefan’s communicator and the lab fell silent, with the exception of the hums from the computers and the rumblings that were typical of a large building. Patrick was looking off toward a corner of the lab, thinking about what they had just espionaged upon.

“Dr. McClain, you’ve got to tell your wife to stay away from the University until we resolve this!”

“Yeah, tell me about it! She has sabbatical time coming up anyway. She’ll have to find some way to take leave right away…that’s her area of expertise, not mine. What’s scaring me, Tadosh, is that this conversation happened days ago! Drogheda, Stefan, and Tage had all seen her here in the lab when Drogheda held us at gunpoint. Any of them could be employed by the University by now and could have seen Sam there!”

Tadosh straightened up his posture, as he was leaning against a table during the playing of the recording.

“Has Mrs. McClain said anything about seeing any of them at the University?”

Patrick thought for a moment. “No…”

“I think we’ll be okay, then.” Tadosh shifted from one foot to another, as though to visually signify that he was changing the subject matter. “You know, Dr. McClain, as bad as this news is about finding out Drogheda’s plan to chronoport more Anarchists into your time, there’s still more for us to gain from hearing their conversation.”

“You mean we know about their next move,” Patrick said, brightening up a bit. “Yeah, I have some thoughts on that.”

Tadosh’s face contorted with surprise. “Really? I’m glad to see that you’re taking the initiative in this, Dr. McClain!”

“Now, hold on there, Tadosh, I’m not going to convert to your Pangean beliefs or anything!”

“Go ahead, Doctor,” Tadosh said with a chuckle.

“Well, seeing that very few people know about this time traveling business, I thought maybe we should do a little job hunting at the University ourselves!”

Tadosh’s smiling face blinked to that of a warning as he shook his head. “I don’t know, Doctor…”

“Now, hold on, let me explain. You, Sam, Tommy, Cheri, and I have all been seen by Drogheda and company, right? Right. Since we know where Tage and Stefan will try to get their next jobs, we can have someone else inside the University to work for us that hasn’t been seen by them!”

“Kind of like a spy, where that person would tell us when Stefan and Tage are there and when would be the best time to apprehend them…” Tadosh imagined how the plan could work with more details. He nodded his head and twisted his lips. “Dr. McClain, I must say, that’s something that Pangea itself would have hatched up!”

“Thank you! Now, there’s still the detail of Drogheda. We haven’t heard what he’ll be doing while the other two are at the University.”

“If we nab Tage and Stefan soon enough it shouldn’t matter! He’d panic after realizing that he was alone, and believe me with his plan it’ll take more than one person to succeed. He’ll likely teleport to the University to see what was wrong—“

“—and we’ll be there to nab him, too,” Patrick finished with an almost nefarious grin. “Then you can finally chronoport back to the 23rd century with your prized catch! After which, I would proceed to dismantle the Solar Unlimited before any more neo-Anarchists from the future comes to my time and screw things up…! So, there you have it, Tadosh. You’ll get your military metals and I’ll get my life back!”

The two shared in a short laugh. Patrick then sobered up as he lightly slapped Tadosh on one of his shoulders.

“But seriously, Tadosh, I unwittingly had a hand in all of this. I realize I was a bit stubborn about it, at first. But…” Patrick looked off to some unknown part of the lab, slowly shaking his head. “…whatever future may be out there, I don’t want to be responsible for making it worse for those who will live in it!”

Tadosh leaned back against the table and smiled. “You mean for people like me…?”

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