A Time’s Edge Sampler: Meet Michael and Max

Even writers need to paint their living rooms occasionally. While we work on that, please enjoy an excerpt from Time’s Edge, Chapter Two: “Do You Believe in Fate?” In this scene Commander Michael Blayne has landed in an Old Earth sidetime with a Mutlipurpose Advanced eXperimental Computer (Max).

Michael’s ship passed smoothly through the Time Tunnel, the name Division 9 had given to the passage between two time portals. It emerged into the first of a series of shimmering, rainbow-colored curtains of light.

“Transition complete. Frequency achieved. We are approaching sidetime 7,” Max announced.

“Initiate time braking,” Michael instructed. He swung around in his seat and ran his hands over the multicolored console.

“Time braking complete. We are currently in orbit around the planet Earth.”

“Phase out.”

“A wise precaution,” Max approved. “Although the technology level is primitive, the sensors of the period would have been able to detect our presence.”

“Thanks,” Michael said dryly. “Did you transmit our history-making arrival to RMB 1020?”

“Certainly,” Max returned. “However, I did not use the term ‘history-making’. In fact, we did not make history since a probe made the trip prior to our arrival.”

“Ah, but we’re the first living beings to do it,” Michael replied sarcastically. “Or so I’ve been told.”

“I do not see how anyone could possibly make that claim with any assurance. The SAF supposes they are the only ones to have the technology, but they cannot prove it. There may be others making the attempt. Also, I am not a living being, so you are the only one to make history.”

“I wonder if I am the first one to make this trip,” Michael said. “When Alrick said I was perfect for this mission, I had the distinct impression he didn’t mean probe retrieval.”

“A probe was sent back to this sidetime. It was launched from RMB 1020 on—”

“I’ve been briefed.” Michael sat lost in thought for a moment. “The probe may just be a cover for whatever the real mission is. Unfortunately, I have no information.”

“Chief Zartollis will most likely provide it when he arrives.”

“When he arrives?” Michael sat up straighter. “How do you know he’ll be here?”

“He told me.”

“Why didn’t you inform me?”

“You said you had been briefed.”

“Don’t be snide, Max.”

“I am not capable of feeling emotions, Commander.”

“No, but you’re very good at expressing them. Division 9 will be overjoyed. Now give me Alrick’s entire message.”

“He will be arriving in this sidetime within one Earth hour of our arrival. If you find the probe during that time, he asks that you wait for him.”

Michael drummed his fingers on the console. “There’s obviously something more than probe retrieval going on here. But it makes no sense. If Valda, Lucas, and Franc are involved, why send us to distant corners of the galaxy? What could be so secret that even the agents involved can’t be told?”

“I cannot answer those questions. There is insufficient information.”

“I agree. We’ll have to keep our eyes open for anything unusual and see what develops.”

“Commander,” the computer said, “I do not have eyes.”

Michael sighed and swiveled back to the main screen. “I suppose we had better get on with it. Show me the last known location of the probe.”

A picture of Earth came up on the screen. It was succeeded by a map of North America and then one of the northeastern section of the continent. This zeroed in on New England and became a state. The town was displayed and then a specific quadrant of the town. The final image was a picture of a cluster of buildings built around a square of grass.

“This is the last transmitted image from the probe,” Max said.

“Any information on what type of institution that is?”

“None from the probe. I will begin scanning as soon as we are within range.”

“Good. Notify me when you have the information.”

Michael brought the ship into orbit and then guided it down to the last location of the probe. As the ship hovered unseen over the buildings, Max began his report.

“I have locked onto the central computer system. My preliminary scan indicates this is an institution of learning, Clarondon University to give its exact name. It is a multi-disciplined school with 10,243 students. The breakdown of teachers—”

“I don’t need that. Print out a plan of the grounds.”

The computer immediately ejected a map of the campus. Michael studied it carefully.

“A university,” Michael mused. “A teacher or perhaps one of the students—”

“Commander,” Max interrupted, “I am receiving signals from the probe.”

Michael leaned forward attentively. “Location?”

“The signal is emitting from the building directly beneath us. The Verne Science Hall, to be exact.”

“This is going to be the shortest mission of my career,” Michael commented as he stood up. “Pinpoint the exact location. Also, do a visual of the inhabitants and generate appropriate clothing. I won’t be able to wear my uniform in this time.”

“Sidetime,” Max corrected.


About jmdattilo

J.M. Dattilo is our pen name. We are the authors of the Time's Edge sci-fi/fantasy series.

Posted on February 13, 2011, in Books, Reading and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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