|2015: Los Angeles is destroyed in the ELI Event, a space-weapon catastrophe that leads to a bleak and brutal distant future for all but the privileged few—unless rogue time-travelers from the twenty-fourth century can prevent the tragedy and mend the timeline. In an attempt to protect humanity from itself, the sentient computer ELI steals the weapon's code, but unwittingly makes his only friend, fifteen-year-old Robin Kirkland, a suspect in the sabotage and the target of a military manhunt. ELI's creators, scientists Stephen Wheeler and Kelly Duncan, find a mysterious ally in Arty, a mere janitor sent from the near future to prevent the ELI Event and change history. But there is another, anonymous player: ruthless Vice Governor Lokus has also jumped upstream to stop them and thus leave his elite and entitled future world unchanged. The race is on—not just to save present-day Los Angeles, but to alter the future of mankind and its machines forever.|
|Excerpt from Chapter Nineteen|
|Background: In 2312, the Federal Police have finally located the rogue scientists' time-travel laboratory. Inside the lab, the scientists try to get a message to colleagues they have sent back to the year 2015 — before the facility is compromised.|
. . .
Lucinda sat at the dark console, despondent. Pan-Li sat wordlessly by her side. Neither knew if Aurora and Denes were still alive, and even if they were, there was no way to know where and when they might be. Pan-Li deeply regretted his attempt to retrieve them simultaneously and knew that Lucinda resented him for it, but he had no choice at the time, and in any case he could not change it now. Their friends were gone, most likely forever.
Arty, at least, had been deposited at the correct points in time, that much was certain. After a brief stop in 2015, where Arty had helped the boy Robin escape Major Pettis at the orphanage, Pan-Li had snatched him back up and sent him on to Stephen Wheeler's apartment. Whether he would succeed in preventing Wheeler's death, or in helping him and his partner, Kelly Duncan, stop the Eli Event was anyone's guess.
Occasionally he and Lucinda looked at each other briefly, silently, searching the other's face for solace. Then they looked away again, each grieving their losses and knowing there was nothing to be said.
The sudden explosions were deafening, one large one followed by two smaller ones in quick succession.
"Pan-Li," Lucinda cried. "Pulse cannons! They've found us!"
"They've breached the surface entrance," Pan-Li said. He sprang from his seat and began powering up the relocator.
"What are you doing?" Lucinda screamed over the din. "Don't..."
"We're found," Pan-Li shouted back. "No harm now. Security doors!"
As the console came to life she quickly checked the interior safety barrier between the surface entrance and the laboratory. "Closed and locked," she reported.
Pan-Li snatched a note tablet from the console and with a finger frantically scratched at its writing surface as he ran for the transmission chamber. "Set the coordinates for Arty's current location," he shouted over his shoulder. "Activate the moment the relocator reaches full power. Do you hear me? The second it's ready to transmit, do it!"
She did as Pan-Li said, not knowing what he had in mind. She searched for and quickly found Arty's callback unit and locked in its coordinates. The transmission chamber's power meters began to rise.
The explosions had ceased, but now there were repeated concussions at the security doors, loud and insistent, accompanied by a terrible screech — the rending of metal, she guessed — as Lokus's soldiers tore their way through the doors. The cacophony grew as shouted commands and replies were added to the mix. She shuddered, knowing she was almost certainly about to die. The power meters hovered momentarily at sixty percent, then gradually moved upward.
"They're close," she shouted to Pan-Li. "Whatever you're going to do, do it quickly!"
A few seconds passed with no reply, just the noise from the direction of the entrance, soldiers clamoring down the hallway, almost upon them. She watched the power meters anxiously, her finger hovering over the Transmit button. Seventy percent, eighty, ninety...
"They're here!" Pan-Li shouted. "Now! Activate now!"
The meters weren't quite to one hundred percent, but there was no more time. She punched the red button as the glass doors to the lab shattered and four heavily-armed soldiers burst in...
. . .
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|About the Author|
|Dave Gash is a Southern California software developer, technical writer, and professional musician whose passion for sci-fi goes back to the days of The Twilight Zone, Star Trek (the good one), and Doctor Who. He loves all kinds of time-travel stories and movies, from the sublime (The Time Machine) to the obscure (Retroactive) to the ridiculous (Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure).|
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