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Valkyrie Protocol Snippet #10

David's and Jacob Holo's newest alternate, cross history novel.
Valkyrie Protocol Snippet #10
Post by runsforcelery   » Thu Oct 17, 2019 2:15 pm

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

Posts: 2418
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:39 am
Location: South Carolina

At last! The next snippet! And it's only a week late!


Duck dropped me a line to say that we might want to put up a progress report on exactly what I'm up to project wise (and, just in passing, where the snippet has been), so I have posted exactly that in David's Dimension.

__________________________________________________________


Chapter Eight
Argus Station, SysGov, 2980 CE


"Ambassador Muntero, you have the floor," Lamont said, conducting the meeting in Old English for Samuel Pepys' benefit.

"Thank you, Chief." Muntero rose from her chair.

Here it comes again, Klaus-Wilhelm groused inwardly.

"Thank you for graciously permitting a delay in these proceedings. After consulting with our government, the Admin has decided to endorse ART's proposed venture to the seventeenth century with the intent of returning Samuel Pepys to his rightful place in history."

What?! Klaus-Wilhelm blinked in bewilderment and both of Lamont's eyebrows shot up. Lucius and Teodorà stood like statues, perhaps unable to comprehend the Admin's sudden change of position, while Samuel smiled eagerly.

"I'm sorry," Lamont said. "But did I hear you correctly?"

"You did. Furthermore, the Admin would like to make the following requests, though I will stress these are merely requests."

What's their game here? Klaus-Wilhelm wondered.

"And those requests are —?" Lamont asked.

"First, that the Admin be permitted to appoint a passive observer to this return mission or any others that may follow for the other 'guests' retained by ART. Second, that SysGov provide us with any data collected during this venture so that both our governments may further our understanding of time travel together. Again, I will stress these are only requests, and SysGov's denial of one or both will not affect our endorsement of this venture. We hope these requests will be well received by your government in the spirit of mutual cooperation in which they're intended."

"I . . . well, yes," Lamont stumbled. "Yes, indeed they are. Thank you. These requests sound reasonable to me. Wouldn't you agree, Klaus?"

"Quite reasonable," Klaus-Wilhelm responded neutrally, not taking his eyes off the Admin representatives.

"Does the Ambassador have anything else to add?" Lamont asked.

"Not at this time." Muntero sat down stiffly and shot a quick glance to a lounging Jonas Shigeki whose eyes were once again half-shut.

"Well, that was . . . unexpected." Lamont cleared his throat. "I suppose we can move straight on to the next point, then. Mister Pepys?"

"Yes, sir?" Samuel stepped forward, and Klaus-Wilhelm noticed Teodorà tense up slightly, though Lucius looked perfectly calm.

"Have you been appraised in full of Chairman Gwon's and Doctor Beckett's proposal?" Lamont asked.

"Yes, I have. I've enjoyed my time here in the future, and I have nothing but compliments for ART's treatment of me. Though a part of me will be sad to leave this land of wonders, I know I don't belong here. Sir, if there is a way to allow me to return home, I will gladly take it."

"I see. Then do we have your official permission to return you to the seventeenth century?"

"Sir." Samuel placed a hand over heart. "You have my permission, given freely and without a moment's hesitation."

"Thank you. I believe that will do." Lamont turned to Klaus-Wilhelm, then to Muntero. "Well, that's that, I suppose. It seems we're finishing early today. If there are no objections, we'll vote on the proposal at hand."

"No objections from the Admin," Muntero said.

Lamont turned the other way.

Klaus-Wilhelm hesitated. He felt the tug of powerful undercurrents around his ankles, as if he was about to be swept away by events beyond his control, but he couldn't place why he felt that way. Something was going on here. Something was out of place.

But what? he thought.

No matter how hard he tried, he found no answers.

"None here, either," he said at last.

"In that case, please cast your votes."

A vote tally with columns for YES, NO, and ABSTAIN appeared between Lamont and the representatives from ART. His and Muntero's votes registered almost immediately in the YES column, and after a final moment of internal deliberation and delay, Klaus-Wilhelm sent his own.

"The vote is unanimous," Lamont announced. "The proposal will move forward to the senate's Temporal Oversight Committee with our recommendation. We should have the result back from the Senate within the week, at which point I will schedule a follow-up meeting with all involved parties. I would like to extend my thanks to the representatives from ART and to the representatives of the Admin for their participation in this—"

Virtual alarms blared into existence next to Lamont and Klaus-Wilhelm.

"Klaus?!" Lamont asked urgently, his eyes skimming over the alarm. "What's a 'Gordian Division Priority One' alert?"

"We're still in the process of implementing our new alarm categories, but—" his throat tightened noticeably—"Priority One is reserved for events similar to the Gordian Knot."

"Surely we don't have another one of those to deal with?!"

"It's a telegraph from Klieo. Let's see what they have to say." Klaus-Wilhelm expanded the alarm, and the text appeared in bold:

Universe-T3 destroyed. Universe-T4 destroyed. Cause unknown. Not a Gordian-type event. TTV Aion destroyed. TTV Klieo damaged but able to return. ETA seventy-three minutes to SysGov outer wall. Will provide a full report upon our return.

Klaus-Wilhelm shook his head in disbelief. Two out of the four time traveling societies gone! And so suddenly! The Gordian Knot would have taken over a thousand years to unleash its fury, but these two had been snuffed out in the span of a few months!

What could have caused this?!

Jonas put his hand on Muntero's shoulder, and the two huddled together, lips not moving.

My God, could this have been us? Klaus-Wilhelm thought. We think we're doing the right thing. We tell ourselves we're taking the necessary precautions, but in actuality are we just naive children playing in a minefield?

Muntero rose sharply from her seat.

"Given this new revelation, the Admin withdraws its support from ART's mission and any future missions of this nature until a review of Klieo's findings can be conducted."

"Sir, I must agree," Klaus-Wilhelm leaned toward his boss. "And we need to go beyond that. This changes everything. We need to cancel all unnecessary time travel immediately."

"I agree wholeheartedly. This is . . ." Lamont shook his head, visibly shaken. "I don't even know what to think about this!"

"Wait a second," Teodorà protested. "Let's not be hasty about this. ART has conducted hundreds of expeditions with no ill effects. There's no reason to believe this one will be any different."

"Perhaps the content of the message didn't quite register with you," Klaus-Wilhelm snapped. "Two time traveling societies have been obliterated and we do not know why!"

"But you just voted to approve our mission!"

"Yes, and we're going to have another vote," Lamont stressed. "Right now."

The tally appeared once more, and all three votes switched almost instantly.

"The ART proposal is rejected unanimously," Lamont announced.

"But . . ." Teodorà pled.

"Thank you, everyone, for your time, but as you can see, the Vice-Commissioner and I have some pressing business to attend to."

"May we come along as well?" Jonas asked. "Sounds like this'll affect both of us."

Lamont paused for a moment.

"He's right," Klaus-Wilhelm said. "We should share this, no matter what it ends up being."

"All right." Lamont pointed a thumb at the door. "The three of you can join us."

Jonas and the ambassador stood up, and their security synthoid stepped away from the wall.

"Please wait. . ." Teodorà said, her voice almost a whisper as the room cleared. Lucius put a hand on her shoulder and turned her toward the exit.

In the rush to leave, no one realized the star field in his shadow had vanished.

* * * * * * * * * *

The Klieo settled into the docking cradle, and the front ramp extended to the floor. Impacts had hammered the TTV's hull in dozens of places, and fresh prog-steel stood out on one side of the bow, plugging what might have been a puncture in the armor.

"What happened out there?" Teodorà wondered out loud from her high vantage in the reception balcony.

"I take it that's not its normal shape," Samuel said.

"No," Lucius agreed. "Looks like they've been through hell."

"There's Raibert and his team." Teodorà pointed. "They're coming out now."

"We'll wait here." Lucius sidestepped closer to Samuel. "There's no point in dragging Samuel into this, and my presence might be . . . problematic."

"No kidding!" Teodorà agreed. "I'll see if I can get through to him."

She took a counter-grav tube down two floors and met the Gordian team at the hangar's exit.

"Raibert!" she called out.

The big synthoid stopped midstride, and his two team members bunched up behind him. It was still disconcerting seeing him in a different body. The small, timid professor now wore the shell of a massive, muscle-bound brute. She wondered why he'd kept the stolen Admin body; he could have replaced it once he'd returned to SysGov, though perhaps he'd retained it as a memento of his daring escape. A sort of middle finger directed at not just the Admin, but anyone else who tried to stop him.

"Teodorà?" he asked. "What are you doing here?"

"Nice to see you too." She hurried over to him. "We need to talk."

"I'm sorry, but the Chief needs to see us. It's urgent."

"I know. That's what I need to talk to you about."

"You know?" he asked incredulously. "How?"

"I was in a meeting with Chief Lamont when your telegraph came in. One minute. That's all I ask. You can give me that, right?"

"I . . ." He sighed, then nodded slowly. "Yeah, I guess I can spare you a minute."

"Raibert?" A young, attractive woman still in her organic body stepped forward. "Who is this?"

"An old colleague." He waved them on. "You two head in. I'll catch up."

"You sure?" she asked. "We shouldn't keep the Chief waiting."

"I won't." He shooed them off. "Now get going. I can take care of myself."

The two members of his team left, albeit reluctantly, and Raibert smiled and waved at them as they boarded the grav tube.

"So." Raibert rubbed his hands together once they were alone. "What's this about?"

"I was trying to get approval for a trip to the seventeenth century, and I almost had it when your alert came in and scared the crap out of everyone. I need your help to me get my expedition back on the approved list."

"This for ART?"

"Of course it is."

"I don't know." His face soured. "You know how I feel about ART these days."

"This is different. We're different. We're trying make amends, to do some real good out there, and this is going to be the first step of many. But we can't go if SysPol is too terrified to even warm up an impeller spike!"

"You'd be scared too if you'd seen what we just went through."

"But we both know ART's trips into the past didn't cause temporal damage," she insisted.

"Well, yeah. Except for the Gordian Knot."

"Oh, come on, Raibert!" she protested. "I've seen the reports. The Knot was caused by a dogfight involving several time machines, and you know it!"

"Ehhhhh. Sort of." He scrunched up his face, then shrugged his shoulders. "Cause and effect get a little sticky where the Knot is concerned."

"My point is, it wasn't caused by ART."

"But we don't know that. Not for certain. For all we know, all our expeditions contributed to the problem and helped the Knot form."

"Oh, I don't believe this!"

"I'm sorry you feel that way, but we need to take things slow. Caution should rule the day."

"No, Raibert, you don't understand!" She put her hands on his shoulders, her eyes suddenly a window to all the guilt in her soul. "I need this! My hands are soaked with blood, and I have to make things right! I have to! I've yearned for a way to atone for my sins, and I've finally found it! It's within my reach—so close I can almost touch it—but now it's slipping away, and I need your help to bring it back."

"You could always donate your time to a charity."

"Raibert!" she snapped. "Don't fuckin' joke about this! I'm being serious here!"

"So am I. Look, I'm glad to hear you want to make amends. I really am. But it's just too dangerous."

"Damn it, Raibert," she cried, her synthoid eyes leaking realistic tears. "You're one of the reasons my life is in shambles right now. Can't you do this one thing for me?"

"Hey now." He reached up and wiped his thumb tenderly across her cheek. "You know I never meant to hurt you. It was Lucius and his cronies I was after. You were just . . ." he paused, unable to find the words.

"Collateral damage?" she offered.

"Something like that."

"Please, Raibert. I need this."

"I'm sorry, but my answer is no."

She hung her head, then slowly nodded.

"I understand," she whispered.

"Thank you. Now if you'll excuse me"—He removed her hands from his shoulders, gently yet firmly—"I need to see my boss."

He left her alone at the hangar entrance, and she stayed there for long minutes, like a statue with her head hung low. She put a hand to her eyes and let out a long, shuddering breath.

"Damn it!" She breathed, then composed herself as well as she could and took the tube up to the reception balcony.

"How'd it go?" Lucius asked when she floated in.

"It didn't," she fumed, fists planted on her hips.

"As expected." He pressed a hand against the wall, and the local infostructure shut down.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Making sure we can talk in private." Lucius brought the three of them close and spoke in a hushed tone. "Let's be realistic here. SysPol's going to clamp down on time travel even harder after what just happened. The Gordian Division's star team threw up a red flag, and their leadership is going to listen. We may never get approval, and even if we did at some point in the future, there'd be so much scrutiny and oversight that realizing our true objectives would be impossible."

"I think you're right," Teodorà said. "We all saw their faces when that alert came in. They're terrified."

"Oh well," Samuel sighed. "Being stuck in the future isn't too bad."

"Ah, but don't give up hope just yet." Lucius flashed a disarming smile. "After all, look where we are."

"What?" Teodorà asked. "You mean on Argus Station?"

"Precisely."


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Valkyrie Protocol Snippet #10
Post by Lunan   » Thu Oct 17, 2019 5:08 pm

Lunan
Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 397
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 8:06 am

And the Doctor is about to steal his Tardis, sort of...
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Re: Valkyrie Protocol Snippet #10
Post by Dilandu   » Fri Oct 18, 2019 1:22 am

Dilandu
Admiral

Posts: 2250
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 12:44 pm
Location: Russia

They are... remarkably calm & controlled for the situation "whole universes are falling apart and we have no clue why"...
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Oh well, if shortening the front is what the Germans crave,
Let's shorten it to very end - the length of Fuhrer's grave.

(Red Army lyrics from 1945)
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