Q1X took a seat in the Director’s office as the Director settled into the huge chair, nearly a throne, behind his massive desk. The office was decorated in a elaborate centuries old manner that Directors seemed to like, as such luxuries connoted prestige and rank.
Both of which, the Q1X knew, were fragile. The Director would not be willing to lose his status. That made the situation all the more dangerous for Q1X.
“It’s your mission,” he said to Q1X.
Q1X didn’t need explanations. The first of the two rapidly-approaching continuum ripples originated in the 19th century Hawai`i mission, and the second originated in the related Calgary 21st century mission. Both of those were on his watch. His responsibility.
“I needn’t remind you …” the Director said, letting the words hang.
Of the consequences of failure. Q1X again didn’t need to be told.
“Fix it. Now. Go. There is little time.”
Or spend what little lifespan would be left to him in the remote past, probably as a slave in a penal colony.
Q1X stood. “Yes, sir,” was all he dared say, and turned to leave. At least in such a situation he would have enough resources at his disposal. But he had little doubt that, even should he escape banishment to a penal colony, his career was over unless he resolved the situation quickly.
Doctor Gorder gave Julianna a sleeping draught saying to her mother that it would be best if she slept dreamlessly for some hours.
“Mrs. Huntingdon, I am gravely concerned,” he said, out in the hallway, after ensuring that Julianna was no longer awake. “You say she spoke of visions, and of strange machines and strange buildings. I suspect, given what you have told me of recent events and her, shall we say, rebellious behaviour, this is a case of neurasthenia.” The Doctor paused for a moment. “Or perhaps something a little … more of concern.”
“Neurasthenia? I’ve heard of it …”
“It is a nervous condition more common to the upper classes,” Doctor Gorder replied. “Often it just passes with rest, or time away at a peaceful place such as the seaside. But sometimes … in, um, more severe cases …”
“And is this a ‘more severe’ case, Doctor?”
“I am afraid … let us just say that your daughter bears observing, and if the seaside is not the proper place to convalesce, as I fear may be the eventuality, London has a number of discreet … homes, shall we say … where Julianna can receive proper … attention.”
“We had hoped she would simply accept Mr. Brixton … but now this … please, no one else must know. It would assuredly ruin the match.”
“I am a model of discretion,” said Doctor Gordon. “For now, though, please ensure that Miss Huntingdon rests and takes the sleeping draughts regularly. I shall return in a few days time to re-evaluate and make further recommendations.”
Mrs. Huntingdon bid farewell to Doctor Gordon, wondering just how much to tell her husband. After Julianna’s comportment in front of Mr. Brixton, Mr. Huntingdon would very likely be in favour of rewarding Julianna with a stay in a private asylum. Perhaps a stay long enough to bring her around.
Joan and Paulie were due to open Tea Trader at 10 AM. Kate was off and Ted was at his regular day job.
It was a beautiful sunny day. A Chinook wind had warmed the air and the temperature was above freezing for the first time in quite a little while.
“I just love Calgary when it’s like this,” Joan said.
Paulie nodded in agreement. “I wouldn’t mind being off skiing, actually.”
“Well, duty calls,” said Joan as she put her key into the lock of the street level door.
“Oh,” she said, “the door’s unlocked. How could that be.”
Paulie pushed on the door and it swung open. “You don’t suppose …” Images of her ransacked apartment flooded her mind. “Should we call the police, you think?”
“No … let’s just have look. Cautiously.”
They ascended the steep stairs to the second floor landing and stood in front of the Tea Trader entrance. “You try,” Joan said.
Paulie, without reaching into her backpack for her own set of keys, turned the knob on the door. “This one’s unlocked, too. Who closed last night?”
“I did,” Joan said, “and I’m certain that this door was locked. I know others have keys for downstairs but I’m sure I locked that one too.”
“Only you and I, and Ted, have keys to Tea Trader, right?” asked Paulie A sudden thought occurred to her. “Does Kate have a key?”
“No. She asked for one and Ted said he had to have one made, but I don’t think he got around to it. There wasn’t any rush because there are always two of us in the shop.”
Paulie eased the door open and took a tentative step inside. “Everything looks okay … “
Joan followed behind her. They quickly surveyed the small shop. “Nothing missing that I can tell,” Joan said. “Not even anything disturbed or out of order.”
“There is one thing,” Paulie called from near the kitchen. “The door to the back stairs is open, too.”
“Well, it’s strange, but I don’t suppose any reason to call the police,” Joan said. “Anyhow, it’s one minute to ten. Time to be ready for business.”
“I’ll give Ted a call just the same,” Paulie said. “He needs to know about this, even if nothing seems to have been taken.”
Joan flipped the sign on the front door from “Closed” to “Open.” She couldn’t hear a faint click coming from somewhere in the basement.
As the cannons swung into position, the lookout, Admiral Grey, and everyone on deck saw the flash of light coming from the boat at some distance away. There was just time enough to hear a whistling noise before something slammed into the Sovereign near the engine room.
There was a roar and a billowing cloud of fire and smoke. “We’re hit!” someone yelled.
The Admiral, thrown to the deck with the rest of the crew by the force of the impact and explosion, made his way to his feet. His ears were ringing, his head fuzzy and thick, and he had trouble moving.
“Admiral, Admiral, your orders!” shouted a crewman but the words only barely registered. “We’re taking on water and going down!”
Admiral Grey shook his head to clear it, but it only worked partially. Still it was enough for him to feel the list of the ship. “Abandon ship!” he cried. “All hands abandon ship!”
Then he thought of the King, still in the Admiral’s quarters. “King Kalākaua! Someone get him off the ship quickly!”
Dazed crewmen moved as fast as they could. The ship was listing more with each passing second. Admiral Grey feared for those below decks, particularly toward the sinking stern end of the ship. There was no way everyone would survive. But he had to save the King.
He sped toward his cabin. At least it was nearer to the bow, and that might give him a little more time. A sailor tugged at his sleeve as he passed by. “Sir, we’re sinking!” the sailor said. “We must get you to safety!”
Admiral Grey pulled away, ignoring the sailor’s entreaties. He reached his cabin, pulled open the door and entered.
The King of Hawai`i was unconscious on the floor, his head bloody. He must have been thrown by the explosion, the Admiral realized. But now Admiral Grey would have to drag him to a boat. No time.
He reached for the life jackets stowed in the cabin. Quickly, he put one around the King, not taking the time to put one on himself.
Then he started to pull the King by his feet toward the railing around the deck, hoping to take the one action remaining that might have any chance of saving the King’s life.
Kate was off today and she had her plans. By the end of the day she would have found and disposed of that logbook once and for all. She’d be finished with her assignment and would request immediate recall upline. It would be best to be out of this forsaken century before local authorities started looking for her. It would be an unfortunate distraction if she had to dispose of any of them, but she certainly wouldn’t mind doing so if it came to that.
Kate took a glance at the clock on the kitchen wall of the tiny apartment she had rented. Ten o’clock. She smiled as she prepared to leave the apartment. She’d start at Joan’s place first, knowing no one would bother her. And if anyone did … they would only do it once.
Ray was tired and stiff. It was a six hour flight from Honolulu to Vancouver and another six hours to Ottawa by way of Toronto. How he hated flying commercial. You would have thought that in times of crisis there would be something better available, yet the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly, even when there was so much at stake.
But CSA, the Canadian agency responsible for signals intelligence, was working with their NSA cousins on the other side of the border, and they still thought there might be a couple of days until anything took place. To Ray, that didn’t seem like very much time.
Here he was, though, sitting in yet another meeting at CSIS, his own home agency. The meeting had gone on for hours, considering courses of action within Canada, debating the pros and cons of each option. Well, they were due to report to the Prime Minister by the end of the day, so they would have to come up with something.
So many lives hanging in the balance. The intel was credible. Despite a lot of negative publicity, behind the scenes the Americans were really good at this sort of thing, but they too had a well-developed bureaucracy and things didn’t always reach their President quickly enough.
Ray wanted to call Paulie and make sure she had left Calgary as he had told her to do. But of course cell phones weren’t allowed in the building, and in any event he couldn’t step out of the meeting.
He would just have to hope she was safely away in case they weren’t able to prevent the unthinkable from happening.
In an upper story apartment in northeastern Calgary, two men received their orders, given over a communications device unknown to the 21st century.
Tomorrow. Not in five days.
It was clever, but then again it wasn’t hard to fool the “intelligence” authorities of this primitive era. All they had to do was to plant weakly encrypted messages in the right places, knowing full well that the missives would be intercepted and decrypted. What a laugh. The authorities here would pride themselves on being able to read “sophisticated” communications, without ever suspecting that they were being duped.
Then they would think they had a little time. But they would be wrong, so terribly wrong.
The grand plan would succeed.
To be continued.
In this month’s episode, nearly everyone is suffering from stress in rather high degrees. Had they the time, they should have slowed down for a moment and enjoyed a restorative and calming infusion such as Wildwood, available (of course!) from Tea Trader.
Wildwood is reminiscent of a forest in early summer, with the sweet taste of strawberry, the tartness of rosehip and the clean aftertaste of mint, all in a bed of elderflower and black currant leaves. It’s sure to relax, calm, and refresh. Brew a pot after a hard day of work, as a comfort if not feeling well, in a time of stress … or just when you’d like something gentle, fresh, and relaxing.