By Thomas Wm. Hamilton
Second sequel to the Time For Patriots novel,
which can be found in the Writer Development Section
The meeting of North Shore Military Academy officialdom was crowded with politicians, military, business types, even a couple scientists. As always, the Headmaster chaired. "I assume all of you have heard the details of the threat. Our timeline is being infiltrated by a timeline which seems to know how to visit other timelines, but is unaware of time travel. This infiltrator plans to take over our world, as they apparently have taken over many others. Any timeline discovered to pose a threat is simply exterminated."
General Bradley Fox, Deputy Army Chief of Staff, stood up. "We know where their offices are in our world. Let's just bomb them before they can act against us."
The Marine Corps Commandant, Jennifer Mallory, shook her head. "Won't work. We know some of their installations. No assurance we know all. And who's to say they can't counterattack even if we knock out all their local assets? Lunar portals, perhaps? And even if we knock out all their installations here, what's to stop them from building new portals?"
The CEO of the world's largest trading company (and Board member of several very large banks) said, "Can we make a deal with them? Perhaps a trade treaty?"
"That was suggested to the one we captured, and he laughed at us as fools."
The NSMA Commandant rose slowly, and spoke reluctantly. "The Commandant at the time we were shifted into 1770 left a letter addressed quote--To The Commandant Thirty Years After the First Lunar Landing--unquote. In the letter he revealed knowledge of the machine which sent the academy and some neighbors back over two centuries." Shock went through the entire room. The source of the time shift had been a mystery ever since it happened. Col. Gregory continued. "General Gryffyth was not responsible for the machine or the time shift, and his letter does not reveal who was. But he left instructions on how to find the machine. The machine was in a sealed basement storage room right here in the academy. It needed extensive repairs and parts that were not available in 1770, or for many years afterward. The Commandant in 1954, thirty years after the first lunar landing, opened the letter. In the ensuing century, Commandants have been quietly having the machine repaired."
The Headmaster said, "Are you suggesting we use time travel to defeat these infiltrators?"
"Can you or anyone else think of another method? The technological lead we had in this world evaporated over eighty years ago. These infiltrators seem to be well ahead of our world, simply by appropriating the best technology from timelines they take over. Time travel, if we can get the machine working, is our sole advantage."
"How do you see us using it?"
"This is just off the top of my head, but we have to approach the President, and have her provide some nuclear tipped cruise missiles. We seize a portal to their home line, and ship the missiles through to a time before they developed the portals."
This suggestion drew instant challenges, with nearly everyone present simultaneously trying to shout down their neighbors and Col. Gregory. The Headmaster did not hesitate to pound a gavel to regain order nearly instantaneously. "Did none of you learn any discipline as cadets? First, we'll see if there are any alternate proposals."
A minute's silence indicated no one had any notions of another approach. "Fine. Now first we have to decide how to approach the President. Other than the five Presidents who have been alumni, none since James Madison was aware of our existence. Madison and Washington were easily convinced of the truth of our claims of time travel thanks to displays of some advanced tech. That route is long since lost to us. So how do we convince President Lowenstein this isn't a joke?"
The Commandant said, "I can show her General Gryffyth's letter."
"Not likely to be totally convincing. The letter could be a fake."
Senator Mendham said, "Lowenstein and I are both Federalists. I can get an audience with her accompanied by General Fox and General Mallory. I rather doubt she would think the senior member of her party in the Senate and two senior generals were fabulating."
Mallory said, "Let's bring along Bob Crispino. The head of NASA would make a nice addition, and likely to be needed."
Crispino groaned. "Thanks a lot! I've got budget issues to resolve, a new supply system for the bases on Uranus's moons is fouled up, the planned expedition to Eris needs my guidance, and I've got that political nut raising a fuss on Mars. But I guess none of that counts if these infiltrators succeed, so, okay, if you insist."
A week later the four member delegation gathered in the Oval Office. The President looked them over, and said, "An unusual gathering. NASA keeps away from the military, and Federalist senators not on a defense or space committee don't usually join them in delegations. So, what do you four want?"
By prior agreement, Senator Mendham started. "Have you heard about the nigh perfect counterfeit money Treasury discovered?"
"The Treasury Secretary has mentioned it a couple times. It hasn't really reached any sort of executive action level, and won't unless Treasury is stymied in tracking down the source. Now why," the President cocked an eyebrow, "would two generals and the head of NASA be concerned about counterfeiting?"
"We've tracked down the source. Several apparently unrelated, recently organized banks, located in remote parts of the country, have been giving this money to customers."
"Interesting, but why does that bring you here?"
"Let me play you some scenes from questioning of a bank employee who was taken unofficially."
"Unofficially! Dammit, I'll have the head of any official in this Administration involved!"
"The government wasn't involved."
"Who?" The tone was decidedly unfriendly. She glared at them, for some reason even more at Gen. Mallory than the others.
Senator Mendham took a deep breath. "North Shore Military Academy's administration heard about the counterfeits, and feared time travellers were involved."
"Time travellers? Have you all lost your minds?"
"Surely you know that at one time NSMA attracted all sorts of strange rumors. The truth was even stranger. The academy and some neighbors were sent back from 2009 to 1770 by a spoiled physics experiment. Since then, they, or I should say we, have been involved in guiding the United States."
The President turned and looked at the other three. "Are you here to take Mendham away to a sanitarium, or do you intend to back this absurd story?"
"We are all alumni of NSMA, and the Senator is telling you the truth." Fox spoke, and the others nodded.
"Such a remarkable claim is going to require some remarkable evidence."
"We brought a book dealing with history as it was before we were time shifted with us. Ben Franklin stole this book from the school library. He, Washington, and James Madison are the only outsiders ever to have read it until now." He handed the President a book. The cover showed the title to be "History of the United States, Vol. 2, 1865-1945". Columbia University Press was the publisher in 2002.
"What's so special about those dates?"
"1865 marked the end of the Civil War and 1945 the end of the Second World War in the original history that was changed after NSMA altered history. We also have an unpublished manuscript, written by an historian in 1924 that we managed to suppress. If you insist, we'll let you read each to convince you."
"Reading two books will take some time, especially if I'm to read about non-existent wars. Let's see this questioning of the alleged infiltrator first, if it's quick."
They played the video of the prisoner. The President snorted derisively when the prisoner was asked if he came from the future and responded time travel was impossible. At the end, though, she looked at the four and said, "I'm semi-convinced. How do you need me to help stop this presumptive invasion?"
Fox replied, "The infiltrators have technology well ahead of ours, except for time travel. We propose to seize one of their portals, and ship a time machine with some nuclear-tipped cruise missiles into their homeworld. The time machine shifts the missiles back to a time prior to their invention of the portal. Enough of their technology is destroyed and their society suffiiciently destabilized that the portals are not invented."
"Just how many other times have you people used a time machine to interfere?"
They all looked very uneasy. Finally Crispino said, "The only previous use of a time machine was when NSMA was sent back to 1770. Frankly, we have tried to avoid interfering, except for ending slavery early and getting women the vote. There were a few other deliberate changes, but they were mostly unauthorized."
"Deliberate but unauthorized. Fascinating. When we have the time, you must explain that. But for now, I warn you, I may be President, but I can't just freely go ordering cruise missiles and nuclear weapons to be moved around. Especially since they will then disappear from inventory. We have several nations keeping a suspicious eye on us, and I imagine their espionage services would be good enough to pick up on that."
Mallory shook her head. "If this works, that won't be a problem. The invaders will never have entered our world, and all history for the past six years or so will be changed. None of us will remember these events, which will not have happened."
The President blinked several times, and then sat thinking for several minutes. "Does that mean I could lose the 2056 election?"
Crispino seemed to have anticipated this or a similar question, for he immediately responded, "Their influence in 2056 was minimal. They were just starting to develop their infiltration. Even in 2060 your re-election was safe, but a number of primaries and Congressional elections would have gone differently."
"You realize that if I authorize shipping you people some cruise missiles and nukes, if this doesn't work I could be impeached?"
"If this doesn't work, the least of our worries will be impeachment proceedings. If they realize we are counterattacking, they may sterilize our timeline."
This series to be concluded with "Time War", forthcoming in the April Changing the Times