Rhada Nuveen stopped her Segway at Derek and Crystal's door. She normally sent an encrypted message detailing the agent's new assignment to their living quarters, but this one she wanted to deliver herself. When she pressed the autolock button, the door swung open.
"Good morning Madam Director," said Crystal.
"Good morning Rhada," Derek added. "To what do we owe the pleasure of your company? Come in and sit down. Care for some coffee?"
"That sounds good," Rhada said with a smile.
"Have a doughnut?" Crystal offered.
"There goes my diet; yes."
"This must be a difficult assignment," Derek said, "To bring you here."
"It is most critical. The Looking Glass Tech's have encountered several of what they describe as surrogate anomalies in the timeline. Historical events through the ages are being removed and replaced with intricate simulacra and 3-D holograms virtually indistinguishable from the actual occurrence.
The technology is such that only the Rectifier's can be responsible. As it is so often the case, their motives are a mystery; however these thefts must be stopped before the fabric of the time skeins are weakened."
"Where are these time segments now?" Crystal asked.
"The techs have followed secondary angstroms from the stasis fields to their nexus in the mid 20th Century; an island in the Hawaiian chain called Oahu and a place called Pearl Harbor. The year is 1941, the date December 4th. You must move quickly, as the nexus moves erratically within the time stream and how long it will be there no one knows."
Furthermore, this Pearl Harbor is a naval base and will be attacked by an enemy utilizing battle tactics and weapons of the period within a three day time span.
You must complete your mission before the nexus moves and the attack begins. Are there any questions?"
"May we take our own weapons?" Derek asked, "Or do we utilize weapons of the period?"
"Your micro disruptors will be activated, plus you may take whatever weapons you choose that are molecularly reduced."
"Battle Axe," said Crystal.
"Saber," Derek added.
"You will be Cerebriefed and garbed in period clothing," Rhada continued. "Transfer at 0900 hours tomorrow. I'll have another coffee and a jelly donut, please."
Derek and Crystal emerged from the time portal into an aircraft hangar redolent with the smells of disuse and decay. Several ancient aircraft covered with dust stood about on the hangar floor, their fabric covered wings and fuselages in tatters.
Derek wore the uniform of a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Engineers, Crystal the uniform of a Major in the Army Nursing Corps. These uniforms had been selected by the Looking Glass Chamber Techs as the least conspicuous, yet elevated enough in rank not to be challenged by most of the personnel at the base.
Finding a door, they emerged into a lush paradise. Exotic flowers and plants grew in verdant splendor under a cloudless, azure sky. They were in a seldom used area of Wheeler Field, a US Army base for pursuit planes intended for the protection of Pearl Harbor. A few minutes of walking put them in the heart of the army installation, returning salutes and occasionally giving them.
After asking directions, they entered the Officers Mess, drew mugs of coffee and sat at a table near a wall so they could observe the room.
"I've activated the tracking sensors, but there's not a trace of stasis field signatures within a thirty mile radius," Crystal muttered. "Could the techs have put us in the wrong place?"
"I've never known them to miss a target by that great a distance," Derek replied. "Wherever their location, the Rectifiers have equipped it with maximum shielding. We'll need to determine where it may be by more conventional means."
"Meaning what exactly?"
"Examining printed matter; maps, blueprints, diagrams, that sort of information; let's go find it."
"There's Base Headquarters building," Crystal said. "It's my guess what we want is in there."
Derek nodded in assent and they walked inside. Finding an office with the words 'Records and Documents' stenciled on the door glass, they entered and a man seated behind a desk wearing buck sergeant's stripes snapped to attention.
"At ease Sarge," Derek said amiably. "I'll need to see the blueprints and maps of the field's installations. We're constructing concrete revetments for the new P-40's."
"I'll need to see your security clearance sir," the soldier replied. "That information is classified."
Crystal pressed the insignia on her cap and the man resumed his seat at his desk, staring forward with a bemused smile on his face.
"He'll be out for an hour at least. See what you can find, I'll keep watch."
Derek grinned, blew her a kiss and disappeared into the storage rooms. Close to an hour had passed and Crystal saw the soldier begin to emerge from his hypnotic state. She was about to put him under again when Derek emerged, a tube of blueprints under his arm.
"Found what we're looking for. Let's find someplace private and study these."
As the office door closed the corporal jerked awake, remembering nothing of his visitors.
Secure in a room in the Visiting Officers Quarters, Derek and Crystal pored over the drawings of the airbase, finding nothing that appeared to be a potential location for the Rectifiers hideaway. Then Crystal saw something odd on a diagram of the runways and hangars.
"Derek, what's the Forward Echelon? There's a notation on this diagram and an arrow pointing northeast, nothing else."
"I don't recall seeing any references to that in any of these blueprints ... wait a minute ... here it is." He studied the drawing for a moment. "I think this may be it. A man-made cavern cut into the base of Aliamanu Crater intended to be a command post in the event of an invasion. It's below fifteen feet of rock and is fairly deep. That has to be where they are."
Crystal stretched luxuriantly and began removing her uniform, followed by her bra and panties. She turned down the bedclothes and stretched out, her whitish blond hair spilling over the pillow like a cloud.
"All that walking made my feet hurt; will you rub them for me my love?"
Derek grinned and undressed quickly. Crystal was the only TMA agent to have ever bested him in training pentathlons; her feet were as toned as the rest of her sensuous body. It was one of many love games they played to heighten their arousal.
Things progressed quickly from there.
Receiving a wakeup call from the OD, they showered together with much tickling and teasing then donned their uniforms and went to breakfast. Finishing their meal, they lingered over coffee and discussed their attack plans.
Obtaining a jeep from the motor pool, they followed a series of increasingly rough roads covered with broken seashells until they reached the Forward Echelon. There were no guards or fencing, only a pair of massive steel doors with smaller doors at their base. 99 parked the jeep in a clump of trees overgrown with vines and they went to examine the door.
"A simple but strong tumbler lock," Derek muttered, his micro disruptor disintegrating the inner workings leaving the outer plate intact. A twist of the levered handle, a squeal of unused hinges and they were inside. A flick of a switch and lights in the high ceiling flared into life, illuminating a tunnel cut deeply into the living rock.
"Detector's going off the scale," Crystal said excitedly. "We're right on top of some powerful stasis field generators. They must be huge to encapsulate whole historical events. There's secondary radiation too. Their reactor must have a flaw in it's shielding. Not enough to be harmful for a short period though."
"Let's see where this tunnel leads," Derek replied. "It may be a decoy and the real access point's somewhere else."
They walked cautiously down the tunnel, electronically heightened senses attuned for the slightest sound or movement. Numerous rooms were cut into the tunnel walls, the steel doors open revealing rows of tables and desks, map boards, telephones, chairs and other equipment; all coated with a thick layer of dust.
"I don't think anyone's been in here in years..." Crystal began, and then they saw a second pair of steel doors blocking their path. Derek tried the handle on the smaller access door and it opened easily. They moved through warily, but only encountered more of the tunnel.
"There's something odd here," Derek said. "Given the depth of this tunnel we should be inside the crater wall by now, but we're only going deeper and yet we're still level..."
"Very perceptive of you Agent 66," a voice boomed out of nowhere. "You are in fact no longer in the tunnel; rather you are in an encapsulated skein of time and in my domain."
Instantly, they were surrounded by a squad of Rectifier cyborgs leveling blast rifles, their synthoflesh skins gleaming in the lights.
"If you two would care to partake of my hospitality," the voice said with a chuckle, "I would like to show you my collection. Bring them here!"
Prodded by a blast rifle, Crystal spun about in a fury and kicked it from the cyborgs hands. Derek kicked at a cyborgs leg, knocking it down. They dove for the floor as the ones remaining fired mindlessly and, since they were in a half circle, destroyed each other.
Derek grabbed two rifles, tossed one to Crystal and they ran back to the door where they entered. Finding it locked, they ran further down the tunnel seeking a place to hide. Seeing an open door, they rushed through it into a dome shaped room with multicolored walls constantly shifting into different shapes.
"Welcome to my playroom," the voice said. "Now I can greet you personally." A wall opened and a cadaverous man with a bald head emerged sitting in a floating chair. "Allow me to introduce myself," he said as he neared where they were standing. "I am O'Neill Jorgenson."
Derek snarled an oath and fired from the hip, Crystal fired a split second later. The man laughed as the energy bolts were absorbed by the chairs force field.
"How rude Derek and Crystal, I offer you my hospitality and you attack me. Those rifles and your internal weapons are now useless." Two cyborgs appeared behind them carrying chairs. "Please be seated. We have much to discuss."
"Jorgenson?" Derek said throwing down his weapon, Crystal following suit. "You can't be him. He's dead. He was killed along with six Time Techs when the third experimental Time Portal imploded in 2016."
Jorgenson laughed again, "So that's the story now? How I heroically died in the early experiments? Far from it I assure you. The portal did implode and the techs did die, but I did not. I was kept alive until I fully recovered, then I set about my work once more."
"Then why are you listed as dead?" Crystal asked.
"After the accident, I suddenly realized that many events in human history were misdirected and did nothing to advance the perfectibility of humankind, therefore I proposed to my colleagues that we return to those events and alter them. Naturally they refused. Jasper and Turgenyev are deluded fools.
I became increasingly annoyed that they could not see things that I felt needed to be done, so I assembled all the existing information on time travel technology and simply disappeared into the time stream.
Finding like-minded persons elsewhere in time, I organized a concerted effort to right the wrongs of history and thus the Rectifiers were born."
"I suppose you are the Ultimate Overlord of the Rectifiers mentioned in captured information?" Derek said.
"At your service," Jorgenson replied. "A pretentious title I will admit, but I do have my little conceits." He frowned, "Now what shall I do with you?"
"Engage us in fair combat?" Crystal said wryly.
"Alas my age and infirmities preclude that option," Jorgensen chuckled. "Were I but younger ... but never mind. I could modify you two into cyborgs, place irradiation bombs inside your bodies and have you detonate in TMA's headquarters ... but that is so crude and it would destroy valuable equipment.
No, I have something more interesting in mind for you. You will be placed in Sensory Deprivation Tanks and driven slowly insane, then I shall use your shattered minds and intact bodies as I see fit."
"We've both experienced the Tanks," Crystal sneered.
"Ah, but not like this," Jorgenson replied. "I have captured the final moments of your first deaths and looped them in Cerebro programs. You will experience your death agonies repeatedly until your minds snap under the strain and then you shall be reprogrammed to become my acolytes."
"Other agents will be on your trail," Derek said. "They'll bring you down."
"I shall deal with them as I dealt with you," Jorgenson replied wearily. "You have become boring." He gestured to a squad of cyborgs. "Away with them, when everything is ready into the tanks they go."
"Wait a minute," Derek barked. "Why are you stealing historical events from time?"
Jorgenson laughed, "Because I intend to alter them in subtle ways to affect their outcomes as I first intended, including the imminent attack here at Pearl Harbor. Then human history will progress as I think it should. The next time we meet you will serve me and do my bidding."
His chair spun around and carried him through the wall opening where he had emerged.
"I thought we had them there for a minute," Crystal muttered, gingerly touching a swelling lump on her forehead.
"There must be hundreds of them," Derek replied, dabbing at a shoulder wound with a handkerchief. "We gave them a hell of a fight though." He grimaced, "Jorgenson's gone off the rails, a real megalomaniac."
Crystal looked around at their featureless enclosure. "It's not going to be easy to break out of here, any ideas?"
"I was never good at solving locked room murder problems ... wait a minute, there was something Jorgenson said about converting us into cyborgs. I wonder if these warriors of his were once human."
"It did feel like I was hitting human skin, either that or upgraded synthoflesh. What do you have in mind Derek?"
"I'm thinking if we can lure our guards in here and divert their attention, we can take them out with our edged weapons, capture Jorgenson and put history back."
"What sort of distraction do you think would be the most effective?"
"I'll act as if I'm having a seizure. You scream your head off. When these cyborgs come in to see what's going we'll nail them. I'd rather go down fighting than let Jorgenson puree' our brains."