The Time Catalyst

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Chapter 9

Miracles, Inc. basement laboratory, Monday morning…

Before the meeting in the lab, Patrick had emailed all of his special laboratory assistants for the Solar Unlimited project, informing them of “an unfortunate, violent act of thievery” within the Miracles building. Which, certainly, was true. But as far as the details of that act of thievery, Patrick decided not to tell his other assistants, leaving only Thomas and Cheri in the know about the time battle. And even then, Cheri was an executive presence at the company, not a scientist, like Thomas was.

Patrick had called in his Maintenance crew on that same Saturday afternoon and got them to clean up most of the mess in the basement lab. The strange, snake-like burn marks all over the walls (from Tage and Stefan’s laser guns) were simply explained by Patrick as “a specially made gun” that the assailants used during the attack. Patrick had to quickly change the subject matter after one of his assistants pointed out that the marks were consistent with laser laceration burns that she had seen after working for a previous scientific job. That was the thing about scientists, Patrick knew, you may try to lie to them or circumvent issues around them, but because of their curiosity they were not likely to just accept the answers given to them. In the educational and psychology fields, it was called Critical Thinking.

Patrick had finally gotten to the part in his conference with them that was the toughest part. He had gotten himself a chair and sat down, then let out a long sigh…

“I think we’re going to have to scrap the Solar Unlimited project,” he said directly, letting his word fall on its own among his workers.

The reaction was as he had expected. There were cries of, What!, You’ve got to be kidding me!, I can’t believe this!, and No way!, all coming at him simultaneously. Patrick let his lab assistants vent without any impediments from him. He knew that it was important for them to let it out. Besides, he had more news for the conference that would take some of the edge off the bad tidings. He waited until the gathering nearly went silent.

“Now, the good news is, you all still have a job with Miracles, Inc., that is, if you so choose to stay. With the exact same amount of pay and benefits, I’m offering all of you to work at other divisions within the corporation. It doesn’t have to be in Seattle, it could be at our New York site, our Chicago site…it could even be at our London site, for all I care. The point is, I’m not going to leave my team high and dry!”

Patrick was anticipating some applause from the workers for such noble English-crafting. But there was none, only a response.

“But, Dr. McClain,” said Erica, one of the assistants within the large group, “we’ve been working on the Unlimited for years! Besides, I think I speak for the rest of us when I say that I really believe in what the project can do for people around the world!”

Now the applause came, and loudly. There were even whistles and some whoopings! Oh, crap, Patrick thought to himself. Thomas, seated at the back of the clump of employees so that it would not look as though he had any inside knowledge of what was going on, looked at Patrick worriedly.

“You said that with the unlimited solar energy from the project, corporations and governments would be able to feed more of the world’s hungry,” said a very Hippy-looking assistant in the group, who was not that many years younger than Patrick. There were voices of Yeah!, and That’s right!

Everyone waited for Patrick’s response. He glanced at Thomas in the distance, whom met Patrick’s eyes with a barely visible shrug.

“David…I understand your feelings about this, but sometimes—“

“Dr. McClain, it’s not about feelings, sir! We signed a contract with Miracles with the explicit intent to progress humanity’s energy usage toward solar power…look, Dr. McClain, we all really appreciate that you’re willing to keep openings for us in the company, but if the issue were merely about money, I think it’s safe to say that we are all very well qualified to find jobs else where!”

Now the lab was a virtual riot. The lab assistants’ voices filled the basement. To Patrick, they sounded like a raging crowd in a football stadium. This was getting too much for him. He could not tell them why he was not willing to re-build another Solar Converter Receiver to replace the one that Drogheda and his men stole from him. That would mean Patrick telling them about the whole time traveling story.

It was bad enough that he had to worry about some of the Seattle cops telling the story to others, now Patrick would have to worry about a group that was more important to him professionally…other scientists. Like Tadosh said about the police not likely reporting what they saw in the lab a couple of days ago, when Drogheda teleported out of the lab, so too was it true for Dr. McClain in the scientific world…any talk about time traveling criminals and a time traveling secret agent chasing them would absolutely ruin Patrick’s career, both in terms of him being a scientist and as a businessperson.

But, yet, Patrick knew from what he had seen with his own eyes that he could not let the Solar Unlimited go into full production. The blood that Drogheda, Tage, and Stefan would spill on their destructive junket across time would surely be on his hands, especially now that Patrick knew that his invention was the catalyst to it all!

The pressure of the dilemma was too great on Patrick. All such facets of the implications of the Solar Unlimited had gone through his mind in a matter of seconds. After the lab had burst into a protest after David’s comments, Patrick yelled out to his employees.

“Hey, I’m the boss, here! I’m the one who came up with the idea of the Solar Unlimited!” The lab was finally hushed after his outburst. “When you’re in the position of leadership, sometimes you learn about things that the subordinates know absolutely nothing about! Of course I want to help feed the world, and of course I’d like to build up my financial empire while doing it, but sometimes there are unintentional consequences to the things we do…! Consequences that are so great, they actually undo the good you intend to do!”

The lab assistants were looking at Patrick and amongst themselves with a mixture of shock from his outburst, and confusion as to what Patrick meant by such unintentional consequences. But Patrick was not going to tell them.

“Listen…” Patrick leaned back in his chair and rubbed his stubbled chin. “This is the best I can do. Please see me later today about being re-assigned. I’ve got Cheri handling my meetings for me for the next two days, so I’ll have plenty of time to deal with you guys, okay?”

He looked out among his assistants. Many still had the look of confusion on their faces, but they weren’t going to ask any question, now. Patrick’s eyes caught those of Thomas. Thomas’ head nodded, confirming to Patrick that he did the right thing. But Patrick still wondered if he was doing the right thing.

Miracles, Inc. Tower, Monday, afternoon…

“Doctor,” Patrick’s secretary informed him over the intercom as he was sitting at the conference table with three of his lab assistants, “there’s someone here to see you…a Mr. Tadosh?”

Patrick’s stomach tightened a bit. He glanced at the three lab assistants from the basement and smiled at them. “Can you guys excuse me for a bit?”

“Sure, Dr. McClain,” one of them said as Patrick got up from his chair and left the office. The three assistants looked at each other with puzzled faces. Patrick was acting a little weird that day, they thought.

Patrick was worried that Tadosh would show up in his building dressed in his fatigues, looking like some guerilla radical. But Patrick was surprised to see the little man outfitted in a very pricey dark suit and tie! Tadosh had even shaved and slicked his hair back. He looked very Wall Street. Even Patrick rarely dressed that way, except for important business trips or crucial meetings.

“Wow,” Patrick said to him as they shook hands, Tadosh’s face beaming brightly, “you clean up quite well!”

“Thanks, Dr. McClain.” Tadosh’s face quickly turned serious as he looked around. “Do you have a moment?”

“Uh, yeah…sure,” Patrick said as he also began looking around the secretary suite. “Why don’t we, uh…” Patrick looked over to his secretary. “Pam, is anyone using conference room B?”

“No, Dr. McClain,” she replied as she looked at the two men with suspicious eyes, for Patrick always met with people in his office, even if he had to break up another one to do so.

“Great! Come on, Tadosh.”

When they had gotten to the vacant conference room, Patrick flicked on the lights and shut the door behind them. He gestured to Tadosh that they should carry on as if it were a regular business meeting since all of the conference rooms had large windows to them, which many business had taken to doing so that the bosses could keep an eye on their employees. They sat at the large wooden conference table in the room.

“Okay, Tadosh…you got some good news for me?”

“Well, I don’t know if you’d call it good, but I think I might have an idea of where Drogheda and his men could be…on the northeastern area of Seattle, somewhere west of Sand Point Magnuson Park.”

“Magnuson Park area,” Patrick said incredulously. “Why would they be around there?”

“I don’t know…I was able to pick up some faint signals that are consistent with teleportation.”

Patrick looked at Tadosh inquisitively. To him, it seemed like a stretch that Tadosh could possibly have found Drogheda and his men within two days out of a metropolitan area of six million people!

“How are you able to detect their signals?”

Tadosh took out another portable device that was tucked away in one of his dress jacket’s pockets. “This contraption is the closest thing we can get to knowing exactly what coordinates Drogheda teleported to…like I said to you and your employees on Saturday, the best way we can know for sure would be to physically take their portable teleporter and look up the history of their activities—but we obviously don’t have their teleporters, so I’ll have to use this instead.”

Tadosh pushed a button to activate the small device. In three-dimensional holographics, it displayed a stylized representation of the city of Seattle and its surrounding suburbs. Patrick jumped in his seat out of surprise and began to look around, making sure that none of his employees could see the high-tech marvel.

“Oh, sorry,” Tadosh said, “I forgot.” He then moved the device in such a way that his back had blocked the holographic projection. He then tweaked with the machine so that it zoomed in on just the city of Seattle. On the northeastern quadrant of the image blinked a beacon. “This is where I detected about four signals that may be teleportational in nature.”

Again, Tadosh punched in some commands into the device and the projection now zoomed in on the northeastern quadrant until it filled up the whole image. The pulsating beacon was now in the image of a grid of street blocks.

“This is the narrowed zone of interest, Dr. McClain.”

“Between 60th and 80th streets, huh…?” Patrick nodded to himself as his eyes stayed glued onto the holographic image. “I know this part of town well…when were you planning on going?”

“Well, now, but Thomas informed me that you’re busy with your lab assistants.”

“Don’t worry, Tadosh, I can reschedule it. They deserve another paid day off, anyway. Besides, you’re going to need some help with these guys, after what I saw on Saturday! I don’t suppose you have another of those portable teleporters, do you?”

Tadosh smiled as he reached into another of his jacket pocket and pulled out another teleporter. To Patrick, it looked like a super-tech watch with a large interfacer and several buttons on it. “Pangea suggested I take two with me, in case I broke or lost mine…” He tossed it to Patrick, whom caught it with the smile of a child in a toy store. “Are any of your assistants still in the lab?”

Patrick merely shook his head to indicate, no. He was too busy gawking at the portable teleporter.

“Good. Let’s go down to your lab in the basement, Doctor. You’re going to need a few practice lessons in teleportational technology before we go for the hunt!”

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