PREVIOUSLY: Laurie’s mission is to make people believe Mindy is outside Carrie’s party, as Frank and Mindy barge into the stationary temporal generator.
PART 92a: STORMING THE CASTLE
When Julie had said she was taking him to the mission hub, Tim hadn’t been sure what to expect. In retrospect, he’d expected something more impressive than the back room of a music store. “R-Really? Um, operations are r-run out of a place like this?”
“Operations are mobile, the sites change,” Julie answered. “So they can’t be pinned down. Or that’s how it worked before I cut my ties.”
“Still works that way,” came a voice from behind a piano.
Julie and Tim rounded the corner to see an older man in a faded sport jacket with unruly hair. He was sitting on the ground in front of a set of holographically projected keyboards and video monitors. Julie clucked her tongue. “Lee. Surprised to see you’re here.” Tim’s eyes widened in recognition.
“Likewise,” Lee said, glancing over his shoulder.
“Conflict of interest much?” Julie pressed.
Lee shrugged. “Luci felt my personal investment in this particular target would prevent any rash actions on their part,” he explained. “Also, I was available on short notice. Don’t worry, we still have redundancy, Megan’s observing my every move, ready to jump in.” He gestured at a monitor off to the side.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight,” came the voice of the dark haired woman pictured there.
“Luci’s approaching the spot for Laurie’s retrieval,” Lee continued. “The men on site have eyes on the door with no sign of Mindylenopia, but it’s not quite ten o’clock yet. No abort has been given.”
“All right. I’ll stick around until I know Laurie’s safe,” Julie decided. She sat herself down on the piano bench.
Lee shrugged. “Suit yourself.” He turned to Tim. “Your communications are working?”
Tim jolted out of his reverie. He reached up to touch his earpiece. “Ah, y-yes. Laurie’s already checked in twice since we dropped her off. She’s w-walking the perimeter.”
“Okay then. We’re a go in six minutes and ten seconds. Mark.” He then lay back on the ground, clasping his hands behind his head.
“One question though?” Tim ventured.
“Ayup?” Lee asked, tilting his head a bit.
“It’s just… I mean, I know my confidence is better of late, but am I r-really the best person to be doing this? The translation, and the prompting? Surely, in the future, your r-resistance has other people capable of speaking Temporal…”
“Ayup,” Lee repeated. “But first of all, their temperaments might stress out your Laurie. Second, again, short notice. With Carrie in town, Ottawa was kind of the last choice for running a major operation – our best linguist is currently in Australia, where Carrie’s right hand man, Glinephanis, is busy stirring up trouble. And third…” He flashed a smile. “Call me crazy, but I think you’re a good guy to have around in a pinch.”
“Oh. Okay, thanks,” Tim acknowledged.
Megan cleared her throat. “You know, you could simply tell Tim that he’s the younger variant of that agent in Australia.”
Lee shook his head. “I don’t care what Luci says, Megan, I don’t want to accidentally impact our past.” He glanced at Tim. “Australia’s still got dangerous snakes, y’see. Given a choice, I might’ve picked the assignment in Europe.”
Mindylenopia checked her watch. “Okay, the front guard’s going to check in at 10:04pm. We move in right after that, gives us a full fifteen minutes to get to the displacement room before their next check.”
Frank nodded. “Right…” He eyed the shed-like structure. “And how many people are in there?”
“Night like this? Couple dozen. We should be able to avoid most of them though,” Mindylenopia said. She peered closer at him. “You DO realize the majority of the structure is underground, yes?”
Frank blinked. “Right,” he repeated. Now that she said it, he remembered Luci remarking on how the nature of the place made aerial assaults impossible.
“Also, for when you use it…” Mindylenopia reached into the handbag she held, pulling out what looked a bit like a cross between a pistol and a fancy corkscrew. “My %temporal gun%.” Frank was taken aback by the smaller size, before remembering that not only was it a prototype, it was also made with more futuristic materials.
She pointed at a switch. “Two settings. Carrie, and Not-Carrie. Every time you stun someone with the latter, you use up power that could have been used for the former. So don’t go crazy with it.”
Frank frowned. “Meaning a Carrie shot drains the batteries?”
“Right. But it should temporarily drain hers as well, and the more juice you have, the longer that lasts. That said, the recoil will be proportional to the strength of the shot, watch for that. And don’t bother with the Not-Carrie setting on Carrie. She’ll be able to shake off such a mild freezing effect.”
“So you’re saying it’s all or nothing with her? No middle settings?”
Mindylenopia snorted. “I’ll consider more settings for my next upgrade.” She shoved the gun back into her bag and looked at her watch again. “Okay. Get ready. It’s almost time.”
Laurie began to fidget. She wasn’t sure if that was something Mindylenopia would normally do, but she couldn’t help it. Pacing around the block and ducking behind cars and trees, it might have been fun under other circumstances. But she was pretending to be a Temporal double agent or whatever Mindy was, while eyeing a property that was easily twice the size of the LaMille mansion back in town.
She would do this though. She would get through it, to restore their timeline. And in doing so, she would restore her brother. That’s the way these things worked, right?
Laurie forced herself to stop playing with the skirt on her red dress. Trouble was, it didn’t fit quite right, hugging her body in the wrong ways… but it was supposedly a double for the one Mindylenopia was wearing. And the voice modulator taped at her throat would make her voice sound the same too. All part of the plan.
“L-Laurie? It’s time,” Tim said. “Are you in position?”
She closed her eyes briefly, then reached up to tap at her earring. “Right. I’m here.”
Laurie reached for her handbag, pulling out the first cartridge. Her hand shook slightly as she tapped the button, but she steadied her nerves in order to throw the object high into the air. The firework exploded several metres up, and Laurie ran quickly to her next location.
Mindylenopia marched up to the building as if she owned it. Frank found he could only follow along, attempting to project the same confidence. “Names?” said the bored looking woman at the front door.
She looked very young, and seemed to have red hair. Frank wondered if she was a Temporal – then felt ashamed at that prejudicial thought. Hadn’t taken long to become suspicious of gingers, had it! Still, it made some sense to have your main guard be someone who couldn’t be mentally influenced, and who was definitely on your side.
“We’re Smith and Jones,” Mindy said, flashing a smile.
The guard looked closer. “Who?”
“He’s Smith, I’m Jones, we’re expected,” she continued easily. “I have the data key with the orders on it right here.”
“Wait, aren’t you–”
Mindylenopia, having reached into her handbag, now pulled out a perfume bottle. She sprayed it into the guard’s face. The redhead on duty only had the time to fumble for the gun on her belt before crashing to the ground unconscious. Mindylenopia dropped the bottle back into her purse.
“Smith?” Frank asked.
She reached for the guard, grabbing a swipe card, then pressing the woman’s hand up to a sensor by the door. “I spent some time watching old time travel shows. To better fit into the past,” she explained.
There was a click as the door unlocked.
“One down, three to go,” Mindylenopia sighed.
Laurie peered around the tree trunk. The person advancing on her position from the house was getting closer. Feeling glad that there was not only a tree, but also a fence between them – even if it was only a four foot high fence – she reached up to tap a few times at her earring.
“Tim? You still there?” Laurie breathed.
“Y-Yeah. How many security people coming?”
“Just the one.”
“Well, that’s good. If he speaks loudly, I s-should hear, s-so long as you’re still w-wearing the brooch. S-Simply repeat what I s-say.”
“Right.” Laurie reached down to adjust the brooch ornament even as she tried to make herself blend into the tree trunk even more. She reminded herself that things were going according to plan.
“Mindylenopia?” came the male voice. “%Is that you setting off those fireworks?%”
“%Happy five zero!%” Laurie blurted, off Tim’s prompting.
The guy sighed. “%Don’t be so juvenile. Why not come inside, with the rest of us?%”
“%Here I like being!%” Laurie retorted. “%You, you can go have some fungus, you who keep believing life is happy. Fun, some fun,%” she amended, off Tim’s pronunciation tip.
The young man didn’t answer. Laurie edged partway around the tree, to take a peek, and saw that his hand had gone to his gun. Oh no. Had she muffed it up? She pulled back again.
“Some of the others say you’re a traitor,” the Temporal continued after a moment, using English. “I don’t want to believe that. But this may be your last chance to prove yourself. Please, join us inside.”
Laurie licked her lips.
“Don’t use English!” Tim whispered, causing the ‘no’ to catch in her throat before she could speak. “Say this…”
“%I am not the one here speeching like them do%,” Laurie fired off. “%Maybe you be the alien instead%.”
“%Funny.%” There was another moment of silence. “%It’s your funeral. No more fireworks, okay?%”
“%You throw boring parties%.”
The security man snorted and moved off, saying something into his own communications device. Once he was out of earshot, she repeated it to Tim.
“They’re standing down,” he sighed. “That guy even told you no more fireworks. So make one last circuit, then meet Luci for the pickup.”
Laurie felt weak in the knees. “Okay.” She moved off in the opposite direction to where the security man had gone.
Moments later, she heard the sounds of a struggle.
Frank had once been inside the Diefenbunker, outside of Ottawa, on an educational trip. He found that the stationary temporal generator building was vaguely similar on the inside; there had even been a long corridor behind the first door requiring Mindylenopia to babble all the way down, to mentally influence the guard at the end before he could react. Since then, they had made it down three levels.
“We may have a problem,” his redheaded companion remarked, as she dumped the latest security guard into a janitor’s closet and shut the door.
“They know something’s going on?” Frank wondered.
Mindylenopia made yet another derisive noise. “Bernard, they’ve known something’s up since I jabbed that datalink into the panel inside the entrance,” she acknowledged. “It’s scrambling their feeds. But they won’t interrupt up the chain unless they’re sure they won’t get a dressing down for being incompetent about a minor glitch, so it’s fine. No, the trouble is, we can’t knock out the last guard. I’ll need that person conscious, to summon a tech to the displacement control centre.”
“So, you use your mind power on them?”
“That’s the thing,” Mindylenopia sighed. “One of the security people who work here is immune. And I haven’t seen her yet. So, if it turns out she’s the one we need awake…”
“Ah. Then we have a problem,” Frank affirmed. He hoped they could also think up a solution.
NEXT: Veni, Vidi, Veniti
ASIDE: It’s my birthday later this week! So if you didn’t vote for T&T on Friday, maybe do it today, tell your friends there’s this cool time travel story out there, that sort of thing… I need to stop looking at stats.