The University of Washington State at Seattle; Computer Engineering Department, Thursday morning…
“Tage…Tage, could you please come here for a moment?”
Tage, dressed in a pair of slacks and a shirt with a necktie, got up from his computer terminal where he was typing up memos for the Computer Engineering dean’s office. His boss, Valerie, had a bit of a scowl on her face when he reached where she was standing.
“Is there something wrong, Valerie?”
She inhaled and blew out a soft sigh before answering. She liked having Tage work for her, which was why she was so disappointed. “You wouldn’t happen to know where some of our files have gone, do you?”
“What files are you talking about?”
Valerie looked around and lowered her voice. “We seemed to be missing one of Dr. Range’s drafts for his research into superconducting computers!”
“Sh-sh-sh…! I asked Amy if she knew anything about it and she said she’s been busy at the library, pulling books for Dr. Range’s up-coming lecture…she suggested that I ask you.” Valerie, pretty and almost twice the age of Tage, looked at him with wanting eyes…both in terms of wanting to hear an answer from Tage and in terms of her attraction to him.
“Well, how would I know? I’m just an office clerk. What good would some geeky science stuff do for me?”
“Okay! I’m, I’m sorry I asked…the file was probably just misfiled or still in Dr. Range’s office. You know, the absent-minded professor!”
She then giggled. Not laughed, but giggled. It was a true sign to Tage that she had something for him. Just then, a janitor walked in with a maintenance cart and began dumping trash. This caused Valerie to turn so that her back was to the janitor, so that he could not hear their conversation.
“Say, um…” Valerie inconspicuously grabbed a piece of scratch paper and a pen and began writing. “Would you be interested in, I don’t know, grabbing a bite to eat or…” She shrugged nervously.
“Sure, why not?”
The janitor began to cough harshly. Valerie quickly handed Tage the slip of paper with her contact info on it and walked away briskly. Tage’s eyes followed her and he shrugged to himself.
“Are you crazy,” Stefan whispered admonishingly to Tage as he dumped trash into his cart’s garbage barrel. “We can’t get attached to people of this time, you know that!”
Tage barely looked in his direction and whispered back. “Why, afraid I’ll change history somehow by interacting with her? My friend, we’re already doing that with our mission, so what does it matter?”
Stefan glared at him. Tage rebutted the stare.
“Hey, don’t look at me. At least I didn’t lose my communicator. Now that’s got to alter the future somehow!”
“Okay, Tage, so now we both have made a mistake…”
Stefan quickly moved to another part of the office where there was a lone trash can sitting in the corner. Tage faked a need to go over there.
“Where is the file,” Stefan inquired softly as he placed a new trash liner in the can.
“In the recycle bin that’s next to the emergency exit door…you’ll have to dig a bit, I didn’t want to chance anyone seeing it…”
Tage walked back to his desk and resumed typing the memo he was on while Stefan proceeded to other parts of the office and dumped trash. When Stefan reached the last office nearest to the recycle bin, he looked around and then tossed a piece of trash next to the recycle bin so that he could justify his presence there.
Stefan finally got his hands inside the recycle bin and had to do just a little digging before he got the stolen file out. Slyly, he placed the file into the trash itself, pushing it farther down so it couldn’t be seen. He then wheeled the maintenance cart out of the office, not even bothering to glance at his fellow neo-Anarchist.
Patrick had just finished a conference call with several of his corporate clients. They represented the who’s who of high-tech industry, from computer software applications to hardware for rocket ships. It was a relatively quick meeting that was meant to put faces to the cold numbers within Patrick’s corporate network, especially since they were all kicking around the idea of selling their company to Patrick and integrating all of their expertise services under one roof.
Even though Dr. McClain was a billionaire at least a couple of times over, he still had an appetite for Capitalistic adventures. Should these various tech companies follow through and sell their company (or parts of them, anyway) to Miracles, Inc., Patrick stood to add another billion dollars to his personal empire…and that did not include what he could have profited from the Solar Unlimited project, if he were to continue its development!
It was a thought that Patrick had struggled quite ardently against. Morally speaking, Patrick knew he had to dissemble the Solar Unlimited project. He was sincere when he told Tadosh that he did not want his own hands stained with the blood of potentially thousands of people who could die because of some irrational, inter-temporal war that some radicals from the future waged for merely philosophical reasons! Patrick had his own human faults, avariciousness being one of them. Which explained why it was, indeed, a test for Patrick to discontinue the Solar Unlimited. But when he compared himself to Drogheda, Patrick felt like a saint!
After the videoconference, Patrick grabbed a special cell phone that he used for certain occasions and dialed up a certain pretty young lady that he secretly chatted with from time to time.
“…Sonya, what’s going on with our guests from the future,” Patrick asked his newfound spy. Her cover job was being a computer technician for the Computer Engineering Department at the University. It fit her perfectly, since that was what her Bachelors degree was in, anyway.
Sonya, skinny with cropped brown hair and in her mid-thirties, was number three on the hierarchy of Miracles, Inc., after Patrick and Cheri. Patrick and Tadosh had a long talk with her about chronoportation and what Drogheda was up to. They even demonstrated in the basement lab how the portable teleporters worked just to prove to Sonya that the story was no hoax! At the moment, Sonya was sitting outside on a set of bleachers of one of the University’s outside athletic fields. In her immediate surroundings there was no one nearby for several yards.
“I see Stefan all of the time since he’s a janitor, with him walking all over the building,” Sonya said over the secured cell phone line that Patrick utilized from time to time for more delicate contracts he had with governments. “Tage’s story is a bit different…he’s an office worker, it would look suspicious for a computer tech to go to the same office all the time, so it’ll be harder for me to keep tabs on him!”
“What about during break times,” Patrick asked from his office at the Miracles Tower. “You should be able to get a glimpse of Tage during those times.”
“Good idea. I’ll do that on the next coming break. Say, Boss, when, exactly is Tadosh supposed to grab these guys? I mean, if they start to suspect something…”
“Don’t worry, kiddo, we’ve got your back. Tadosh is incognito on the University grounds.”
Unconsciously, Sonya started to look around, as if she would be able to see him from where she was. “Oh, really…? As what?”
“He doesn’t want me to tell you.”
“Well, he thinks it might influence the way you conduct yourself; that you might run to him too often or rely on him too much and not do your part. Sonya, he’s the secret agent, we’ve got let him make these decisions!”
“Yeah, I know…so, when it looks like a good time for Tadosh to apprehend one of them, just dial that weird number combination on my cell?”
“Yep, that will connect you to Tadosh’s own communicator. We had to use that dial code since his communicator is late-23rd century technology, remember?”
“Hmm! How could I forget? Not after seeing you guys pop in and out of the air like it was some Star Trek episode!”
Patrick laughed over the line.
“All right, Patrick, I’ll call you when something changes.”
“Okay, but don’t wait too long, Sonya…we don’t have that much time before Drogheda gets his own time catalyst running and he’ll start pouring out Anarchists from his time into ours!”