Third story in the ALPHAS series.
Riley Creek was a single large unadorned 1-story cinder block building surrounded on three sides by a 20-foot fence. The fence on the third side wasn't as high - maybe ten feet - but the creek itself was on the other side.
The boys were ushered out of the police van and herded into the center's main building by a woman named Mrs. Mazell.
She had a taser and told them she'd use it if they 'stepped out of line' so they were very careful to stay in a straight row, Two and Three in front, One and Four in back, and the three little ones in the middle. Theta called it a "guinea pig" formation, because guinea pigs walked in a line with the young in the center for protection. They were pretty sure they wouldn't need any protection here, but no one wanted to be tasered because that hurt.
In some ways, the center resembled their home - no windows, a dining room, rooms with beds and lockers. But their living quarters at Omnichron had been clean and the air was fresh. Here, everything smelled stale.
At Omnichron, the walls were decorated with artwork by over 70 years of Alphas. Some of them had painted people they knew or depicted things they had done. Some of it was beautiful and some of it was disturbing, but all of it was interesting. Here, the walls were blank except for an occasional faded poster.
There were faint smells of mold and urine masked by very strong chemical odors.
"It smells bad here," Seven said.
"Sodium hypochlorite and paradichlorobenzene," Four identified two of the chemical scents. He sniffed the air. "And ammonium hydroxide."
"Well, aren't you the little smarty-pants," Mrs. Mazell said. Then she pointed with her baton to a room that had a sign on the door saying "Intake Processing." It was painted blue and had lines painted on the wall in one-inch increments. There was a scale and a camera there, too, and a woman in blue scrubs with a name tag that said "Nurse Garcia" and a man in a uniform almost like the enforcers wore, whose name was Roy Cutler.
The woman took Two by the arm and stood him against the wall, then had him step on the scale. "Sixty-one, ninety-three," she told the man, who wrote it down. Then she looked at Two. "What's your name?"
"Alpha Two," he replied.
"Alfalfa?" Roy laughed.
"No, Alpha," Two said calmly. He knew the man was trying to make him angry, but he didn't understand why. He chose to consider him non-existent, knowing the others would do the same.
"Spell it," the woman said.
He did, and she looked at him sternly. "Your last name is Two, like the number two?"
"He looks like a number two," Roy laughed.
"Can it, Roy," Mrs. Mazell said crossly.
"Two is my name. Alpha is what I am."
"You giving me a hard time, son?" Nurse Garcia asked.
Two looked her in the eye. "I don't believe so."
"What do the papers say?" she asked Roy.
He looked through his clipboard. "Says they claim their names are Alpha One, Alpha Two, Alpha Three... all the way down to Seven.... he's the little one."
"I'm not little," Seven said.
"DID ANYONE SAY YOU COULD TALK!?" Roy shouted. Seven flinched. Roy was too loud.
"Don't speak to him like that," One said, gently stroking Seven's head.
Roy put his clipboard down and got as close to One as he could get without them touching. They were almost the same height. "YOU GIVING ME ATTITUDE, KID?" he yelled.
"Don't speak to me like that, either." One stared at Roy intently, not blinking, waiting for Roy to be the first one to avert his gaze. It didn't take long. Roy turned like he was going to walk away, but then he turned suddenly and aimed a punch at One's torso.
One's left hand shot out and grabbed Roy's fist, and pulled hard, using Roy's own forward momentum to get him off balance. He shifted his left foot so that it was in Roy's path, and in next instant Roy was sprawled face down on the floor. He got up on all fours and blinked in confusion, as if he was trying to figure out how he got there. He stood up quickly, his expression dark with anger..
"Taser that little bastard!" he shouted at Mrs. Mazell.
"You had that one comin', Roy. Now get up and shut up, and I won't report you for trying a beat-down. They'll fire your ass for that."
Roy got up, but he wasn't happy.
Nurse Garcia wrote Two's name on a little board with chalk and then made him hold it while she took his picture.
The process was repeated for all seven of them. They were then given combs, toothbrushes, sweatpants, a tee-shirt, underwear and socks, and taken to the dormitory and told to shower and change. Roy stayed to make sure they did.
They were assigned two cubicles, with two bunkbeds in each one, separated by 4 standard gym lockers. The rooms were only about 2 meters on each side. Each boy had his own room at Omnichron, and it was bigger than these cubicles were. The bigger boys were assigned to one and the smaller ones another. They were told to put their own clothes into the lockers.
By this time, the evening meal was being served, even though it was only 16:30. They were taken to the dining area which consisted of two long tables with 15 chairs on each side. They were assigned seats at the end of one table and then told to go get in line to get their food.
There were several other boys there, most of them around One's age, some a little older. There were a couple who were as young as Four, who was 10, but no other little ones, so Five, Six and Seven drew stares.
The serving line was like at the place they had eaten the first night with Miss Evie and Mr Orin, except the food didn't smell as good.
They had learned two things thus far: Not all of the adults there could be trusted not to harm them, and Mrs. Mazell's taser was for her own protection. She wouldn't use it on them unless they tried to hurt her, which they would never do.
They were each given an apple, a peanut butter sandwich, a scoop of macaroni and a bottle of milk. The portions were all the same size, so the little ones got the same amount as the older ones. At Omnichron, the food was put on the table and they could eat until they weren't hungry anymore.
"They obviously have failed to consider our nutritional requirements," Four noted, eyeing the food glumly.
"Food is food," Two repeated a mantra that Theta had often used on them. He'd told them it was nice that they were fed properly and well at Omnichron, but that there would be times when they'd have to eat what was available, and they should avail themselves of the opportunity. At times such as that, another meal might not be available any time soon.
They took the chairs assigned to them. Two would have liked it better if they were facing each other, but they were all seated side-by-side, across from a group of boys who were whispering to each other and occasionally glancing their way.
Then, as if they'd agreed on a silent signal, four of them reached across the table. One of them took Seven's apple, another took Five's milk. A third one took Six's sandwich and the fourth just poked his fingers in Four's macaroni. Seven slid under the table an a split second later came shooting up from underneath it on the other side. He used his head to bash the apple thief squarely in the jaw. The boy's head flew back as Seven, in one continuous motion, climbed over him, making sure he stepped on his crotch as he did. On his way, he grabbed his apple back. He then backflipped over the table on one hand and slipped back into his seat. During the distraction, Six had reclaimed his sandwich and Five took back his milk. Four threw a plastic knife with enough force that it pierced the milk bottle of the boy who had poked his food, flooding his tray.
It was all over in five seconds. The other boys were sitting there stunned when Mrs. Mazell came running over. All she had really seen was Seven backflipping over the table.
"You stay in your seat, young man," she scolded him. "This isn't a gym."
The boy whose crotch he'd stepped on was ashy with pain, but Two glared at him and he said nothing.
When Mrs. Mazell was gone, Two looked at the tormentors. "Don't take our food. Don't touch our food. Don't... even... look... at us."
One of the boys glared back. "You don't scare us. You just wait."
The apple thief looked at Seven, his teeth gritted in pain and tears in his eyes. "You're going to be sorry, you little shit."
"No, I'm not," Seven said casually, and proceeded to eat his apple and his macaroni. He was full after that, so he gave Three his sandwich.
There was not a lot to do after the meal ended. The diversion center had a small 'recreation' room and there were board games that the boys recognized, and some that they didn't. Most of them were missing pieces, though. They decided to go outside where some other boys were playing basketball.
A group of four of them asked One, Two, Three and Four to play against them. It was no contest, because the other boys were not very good, only getting the ball through the basket one time out of four.
The three younger ones sat at the sidelines and watched, and learned. Their mind was on the game, but they were not unaware that the boys from the dining hall were creeping up behind them. Roy was watching from the sidelines, but they knew he would not do anything to intervene. They waited until the thieves were almost directly behind them, then all three of them stood up and faced their much larger adversaries.
"Is there something you require?" Five asked.
"Payback," one boy said. "Where the hell do you little shits think you are, anyway? You need to learn what's what here."
"I don't think so," Five said.
"You should go away," Seven added.
Six noticed that the boy who had tried to take Seven's apple had a sock with a heavy object in it. He thought that was silly - that was the first weapon he'd learned to make when he was just a baby. It wasn't very accurate and they would all be able to avoid it easily if he decided to use it. Another boy had a sharpened stick, but he'd have to get close to use it and he did not have a proper grip on it. Taking it away from him would not be difficult. None of the others appeared to be armed, although one was pounding one fist into the palm of his other hand. Six understood that this was supposed to be a display of strength, but his trainers had taught him that it was a sign his opponent was unsure - 'false bravado' was what it was called.
They were five altogether, older and larger than the Alphas, and they seemed to think the smaller boys were just going to stand there and wait to be attacked.
They were incorrect, of course.
Insead of cowering in fear, Seven darted up to the apple thief and easily ripped the sock weapon from his grasp. At the same time, Six went for the boy with the stick and kicked it out of his hand. Five leapt into the air caught it easily. Now, they had the weapons and they did not waste time posturing. Seven tossed the weighted sock to Six who spun it to give it momentum and then released it at just the right time that it hit the apple thief right between the eyes. Seven gave him no time to recover his wits, he just rushed forward and grabbed the sock up again.
Another boy lunged at him and Five stabbed him with the stick. He howled in pain and only then did Roy intervene.
The three small boys were well-trained in evasive maneuvers and spread out in three directions.
Meanwhile, the four older boys had stopped playing and were keeping a close eye on what was happening.
"Aren't you going to help them?" a boy on the opposing team asked.
"If they need it," Two said calmly.
Five and Six managed to avoid Roy easily. The guard was awkward and slow. But even so, his longer strides enabled him to catch Seven. He took out his baton and raised it to strike the little boy. Three shot forward and deftly snatched the baton out of his hand. Roy probably had greater strength, but he wasn't expecting the baton to be taken away so he hadn't had a good grip on it.
Three stood back in a fighting stance, brandishing the baton as if he intended to use it - which, in fact, he did. "Let him go," he said evenly.
Roy looked panicked. The seven new intakes were some kind of Karate Kids. He could probably control the little one, but at the moment, the other Six were all looking at him and giving him the stink-eye, plus three of them were now armed.
"Don't make me ask you again," Three said.
"He started a fight," Roy protested weakly.
Two walked up. "You and I both know that's not true. Now, this can end here, or it can end with someone getting hurt, probably you. Let him go."
Roy released Seven, who turned around and said, "I don't like you. You're mean, and you smell like armpits." Then he walked up to Two. "Can we leave now? I don't like it here."
+ + + + + + +
They waited until the dead of night, when most of the other boys slept, and there were only four staff members there. The guards made scheduled rounds and it took a couple of hours to establish the pattern. Two of them never came their way, apparently patroling the other wing of the building. The other two passed each other every 45 minutes.
They had been prepared for electronic locks, but the diversion center was old and so was its technology. The locks were plain key locks. Five could have opened them when he was toddler. Even though he'd been assigned to a different room, One and Two kept Five and Six with them. They let the younger boys sleep until it was time to make their move.
They had been thoroughly searched when they came in, but as anticipated, no one had looked carefully at their shoes. Five picked his left shoe up off the floor and with his small fingers exracted the tools he needed. He had the door open in a few seconds.
Six pulled a piece of heavy elastic from the lining of one of his shoes, and retrieved two large pebbles that he had picked up from the recreation yard from his pockets. He used the elastic to launch the pebbles at the video cameras that monitored the hallway. To whoever was watching, it would simply look as though the cameras had failed. With luck, it would take a few minutes before they figured out that wasn't the case.
They wasted no time, quickly filing down the hallway to the door that separated the dormitory wing from the main section of the building. That door wasn't even locked. Once they were in the main building, it was a simple matter of finding the code to open the simple lock to the kitchen. It had only 5 buttons and most locks of that type required a 3-digit combination, with no digit repeating, so there were only 30 possible combinations. Five studied the buttons carefully - the 1, 2 and 5 were polished with wear, so that narrowed the number of combinations down to 6. The second one they tried opened the door. Inside the kitchen, there was a small dock for food deliveries that was secured with a simple padlock.
Altogether, it took them exactly 1 minute and 33 seconds to get out of the building.
They headed for the shorter fence. One lifted Three, who was the second tallest, onto his shoulders, he was able to cling to the top of the fence. Two boosted Four up onto his shoulders and between the four of them, they formed a lattice that the three smaller boys climbed easily. They then walked along the narrow top to get out of the way while Three and Four hoisted themselves up. Two leaned in close to the fence for support while One climbed onto his shoulders. One moved quickly, because Two was much smaller than he was and he knew he could not hold his weight for long. Once he had pulled himself all the way up, he hooked his knees over the top and then fell backwards and reached down for Two, pulling him up to where he could reach the top. When they were all standing on the fence they looked carefully at the ground below. It was littered with dangerous debris, and was a drop of over 4 meters. They decided to walk along the perimeter until they found a safer place to jump.
They ended up at a body of water - presumably Riley Creek. The ground there was uncluttered. One jumped and rolled, followed by Two, Three and Four. The older boys then caught the smaller ones. They had no idea how deep the creek was, but it didn't matter. None of them even remembered learning to swim, they had been so young when they were taught. It ended up not being a problem, anyway, because when One went across first, he discovered the creek would only come up to Four's neck. The three tallest boys carried the younger ones across easily, while Four made his own way.
It was dark and they found themselves in a wooded area. They put Six on point. He had the ability to see in low levels of light. They were all able to do it to some extent, but Six had a natural gift. He also had a perfect sense of direction. He knew which way to go to get back to the city. They'd find Mr. Travis and Miss Evie, just as Theta had told them to do.
They walked for over an hour before they came to the road that would lead them back to the city, which was still 20 kilometers away. It would be a long walk, but none of them complained. Nu had taught them that complaining did not accomplish their goals, only effort did.
They had changed back into their own clothing before leaving the center, and dressed all in black, they were not plainly visible, especially if they stayed off the roadway itself. Theta had told them that the enforcers would come looking for them after they escaped, but so far, they had not seen any. Maybe they had yet to notice they were gone.
+ + + + + + +
Evie Travis sat in her living room in a recliner, her lap top set up before her. She was trying to write, but the words would just not come. She was troubled by the events of the day just passed, and how the boys had been taken away to that awful place. She and Orin had tried to speak for them, but it had been to no avail. They would stay at Riley Creek until they had a court date, then the little ones would likely go into foster care. Who knew what would happen to the older boys? She had spent much of the afternoon and early evening researching how she and Orin could become foster parents, but was discouraged by the discovery that due to their age and the size of their home, they would not be allowed to take all seven of the boys. And there was absolutely no guarantee they would get 'their' boys - in fact, it was more likely they would get complete strangers, something she was forced to admit, she was not eager to do. She wasn't even sure she was up to the task of the seven boys in question, but something about them just felt right - as if they belonged with Orin and her.
Orin sat alone in his study, still going through the files Nu had given him. He was still trying to wrap his mind around the details of the 'port' - was it possible that such a thing truly existed? A gateway to other worlds - or, even more astonishing, the same world, but other realities?
As he read, a revealing, yet disturbing fact became clear. The Alphas were the guardians of the port- a small army trained from birth for the one purpose of keeping the timeline of this version of Earth intact. They were 'Series IV' meaning there had been other sets of Alphas before them, as far back as WWII from the looks of it.
Who had discovered the port and how it worked wasn't in the files - or at least, he hadn't found it yet. He vaguely resented that the knowledge had never been shared, but he wondered what would have happened if it had been? Obviously, there had been some sort of incident at Omnichron earlier that day, and somehow, the boys had known they had to be there. The fact that the Alphas were created in the first place testified to the fact that scientists were aware of the dangers the port presented.
He wanted answers, damn it. But now that the boys were gone, it seemed unlikely he'd ever have any.
He was startled by the sound of the doorbell. It was almost 11 pm.
He stepped out into the living room to find Evie gazing through the peep hole in the door.
"Who is it?" he whispered.
"I don't know. It's a man in a business suit."
"It might be a detective..." Orin guessed. Oddly, no one had contacted them for a statement regarding their car being stolen. It had been towed away as evidence, but they'd had a call just an hour later saying they could pick it up.
"Seems kind of late for that," Evie observed. Then, loudly enough to be heard through the door, she shouted, "Who is it?"
"My name is Theodore Morris," a deep, baritone voice replied. "You may have heard me referred to as 'Theta.'"
Travis opened the door. Morris was an imposing figure, tall and muscular, and extremely fit for someone his age.
"You've come about the boys?" Evie asked.
"They're gone," Travis said, but somehow, he had a feeling Morris knew that, and probably a lot more.
"They'll be back," Morris said. "If you'll have them."
"Of course we will," Evie said quickly. "They're beautiful children."
"Beautiful and exceptional," Morris agreed. "And they need a home while we rebuild Omnichron."
Travis bristled at that. "Rebuild it for what? So you can imprison them there again?"
"They were never imprisoned," Morris said.
"They couldn't leave," Travis argued. "They'd never been out of that place until I found them."
"Did they tell you that?" Morris sounded amused.
Travis had to think about that one. "Well, no, not exactly... but they'd never been in a car, or to a restaurant, or watched TV..."
"And yet," Morris smiled genially, "Seven is doing college level mathematics at five, Six can outshoot a trained sniper, Five speaks fifteen languages fluently and about 20 more well enough to get by. Four could perform surgery if he had to, Three can fix anything - including the port. One has abilities that no one outside of Omnichron even believes in."
Travis noticed that Morris had left one boy out. "What about Two?"
"Two is their leader. Alas, that is a quality he was born with - it was nothing Omnichron taught him. His value as such is inestimable. Without him, they are six very remarkable boys. With him, they are a formidable team, even though they are still children."
"Why are you trusting us with this information, anyway?" Travis asked. He was still expecting the black helicopters to arrive at any moment and the MIBs to whisk him and Evie away.
"Please," Morris said casually, "may we sit? This will take awhile."
Evie returned to her recliner and Travis sat on the couch. He motioned Morris to the love seat opposite him.
"Who burned the lab down?" Evie asked. "Did they know the boys were trapped inside?" The very thought that someone may have tried to kill those sweet children bothered her more than anything else.
"Oh, well, Nu and I did that. The boys were never in danger, we saw to that."
"WHAT?!" Travis was suddenly afraid for himself and Evie. Was Morris mad? "Why?"
"There are Alpha teams from other timelines on this Earth right now. Most of them are harmless - they are just curious to compare our version of reality to theirs. We do much the same thing, observe.
"But some of them recently discovered that our Series IV Alphas are unique in that we believe they can move freely between timelines due to the nature of their... origins. This makes them highly valuable to... certain factions. Kidnapping them likely would not succeed - they are quite adept at taking care of themselves - but the safest thing for them was for it to appear they were dead."
"Burning down the entire facility was pretty damn convincing," Travis scoffed.
"It didn't burn... there was a release of sub-atomic energy of the type characteristic with a port being destroyed. It appeared burned, but it was disintegrated."
"So the port is gone?"
"No, it only appears gone."
Travis shook his head in confusion.
Morris continued, "The energy came from some rather nasty weapons confiscated from another reality. But only Nu and I know that."
"What about the people who worked there? Were they... disintegrated... also?" Evie asked nervously.
"No. There were always contingency plans to abandon the facility in the event it became necessary, as has happened in other realities. The non-essentials were relocated to other jobs. The Alphas and their mentors are at other port facilities. The boys should have been, also, but we received intelligence that there would be an attempted incursion in the near future - which is what happened today - so they had to be here to guard this port."
That was something that had been bothering Evie. "How did they even know?" she asked. The boys had no way of being contacted. They didn't have cellphones or tablets or any kind of communication devices and no one had called the house. They still had a landline. She would have heard the phone ring.
"It's complicated... " Morris hedged. "Let's just say that One knew, and told the others."
Travis was still fixated on Morris's previous comment. "Other facilities?" he asked. "There's more than one?"
"In this reality, there are twelve. Thirteen if you count Antarctica, but that one is buried under a mile or two of ice."
"Why did they build one there?"
Morris smiled. "It was not under the ice when they built it."
Travis let that sink in a moment. "You mean..."
"With one exception, the MATSAP ports are immensely old. We don't even know how old."
"But this one... the one here... it was built in the 1930s..." Travis remembered reading that in the files.
"No, the building was erected then. The port was here long, long before that. The only MATSAP we know the age of is the one in Switzerland. That one opened up in September of 2011."
Evie gasped. "That's when they turned on the Large Hadron Collider."
"The what?" Travis blinked, surprised that Morris seemed to know what Evie was talking about even though he himself did not.
Morris grinned. "One of science's bigger Oops Moments. Ironically the scientists at CERN don't even know they opened a MATSAP. We had to cover their asses."
Travis was beginning to feel left out of the conversation, so he steered it back in his direction. "What is it about these boys that is so special?" he asked, then added, "Besides the obvious?"
"It's true that the boys have not experienced life outside of Omnichron, as you observed, but that was for a reason. While we believe they can move freely between timelines, we are not exactly sure. We had planned to study them further before we released them."
"What makes them so different from all our other Alphas?" Travis asked.
Morris shrugged. "They don't come from this reality."
"What do you mean 'don't come from this reality?'" Evie asked, suddenly confused. Travis had told her about the files he'd read, but not about the 19th century dates, since he wasn't sure what those meant. He knew where Morris was heading, but it made him feel uneasy - he wasn't sure he wanted to know the truth.
"Our boys are the fourth series of Alphas. The first three sets of children were fairly easy to come by. Babies were abandoned for any number of reasons up until the late '70s or so. But by the '90s, that wasn't the case. Better records were kept of births, and orphanages and foundling homes were a thing of the past. There was also no longer a significant stigma to being an unwed mother, so many of them kept their babies. Illegal adoptions and trafficking in human infants were never considered, even by us," he smiled wryly. "Then one day, an Alpha group stumbled upon a planet - this planet, with a different timeline - where something had destroyed most of the biosphere. It was in the very, very earliest stages of recovery from that cataclysm. The only human populations remaining were in Australia and Siberia, and they weren't doing well..."
"Go on," Travis had to hear it, even if it still sounded like bullshit.
"We determined that whatever had happened was probably just a major news event in our timeline, but was a global catastrophe there. It may have been Krakatoa, or the Tunguska event - we had no way to know without extensive investigation that would have taken time and resources better spent elsewhere. The point is, humans in that reality would soon be extinct. There was no future to tamper with.
"In our timeline, those seven little boys grew up to be legends. Study your U.S. southwestern history, and look for references to Los Magnificos, or the Magnificent Seven, and you'll find them there. But in that other timeline, all of them died, along with 98% of all the other living things on the planet."
"So you're saying you kidnapped them out of time?" Evie asked.
Travis was impressed - that possibility hadn't even occurred to him, but he felt a cold chill down his spine because he knew what Morris's answer would be.
"Yes," Morris stated calmly. "We did. We went back into that timeline's past, and took them."
Evie, for whatever reason, didn't seem especially shocked by that. "But doesn't just kidnapping people from a timeline change its future?" she asked
Morris nodded. "Of course it does... but as incredible as those seven individuals were, they could not have stopped a super volcano... or a deep impact meteor strike... or whatever it was that happened. The odds were overwhelmingly against any offspring they may have produced surviving, either."
"But what if they did? What about people who never got born because of what you did?"
"Everyone gets born," Morris stated. "It's the path they follow that makes each timeline unique, and decides the points where they diverge. There is a reality where Hitler is a beloved and admired 20th century artist, and Charles Manson is a Grammy winner." He shrugged. "Today, we had visitors from a reality where Spain never invaded Mexico and now a crazy Aztec named Kukulkan the Tenth rules all of North America."
"Kukulkan was a god..." Evie interjected, again surprising Travis. He'd never heard the name before.
"In this reality he was considered one, yes. In that reality, his descendent calls himself the Emperor of the Universe - even though he only rules a continent. The script is different, but the actors are always the same. Unless, of course, the timeline is doomed as it was for the one into which the boys were born. And because they theoretically don't exist anywhere in this timeline, they can move about freely. Theoretically," he repeated the last word. "They can also guard the port without fear of the timeline being altered should something happen to them."
"But why them?" Evie wanted to know. "Why those seven?"
Morris looked amused. "Natural selection, dear Evie. In our time line, they survived pretty much everything. Hell, they all died with most of their own teeth. They were exposed to cholera, typhoid, smallpox, diphtheria and more than a dozen strains of influenza - including the one that killed 18 million people. They all lived past ninety, which was twice their life expectancy at birth. They have as close to the perfect combination of genes that is statistically possible without manipulation. All 14 of them."
"Fourteen?" Evie asked.
"There are girls, too," Travis informed her. Then it hit him. "You want to breed them!" he said accusingly.
"Well, I would not put it so crassly," Morris said, "but we did have to consider that since they are not part of this timeline, it might be unwise to allow them to procreate within it."
"So what? You have arranged marriages for them?" Travis scoffed. "So you can build some kind of secret master race with them?"
"Good heavens, no. We just hope for a line of... high-potential Alphas."
"You're insane," Travis said bluntly.
"I'm only giving you the facts."
"You said that One has abilities no one believes in..." Evie interrupted before the argument escalated.
Travis knew what those abilities supposedly were. He'd read it in the files. he didn't believe it either. "He's Psi-positive," he said, somewhat irked at the abrupt change of subject.
Evie's eyes widened. Travis didn't think she would know what that meant, but to his chagrin, she asked Morris, "What abilities does he have?"
"Telekinesis, astral projection and remote viewing are his strongest, but he has also demonstrated a potential aptitude for apportation and transvection."
Travis didn't know what most of those terms meant but he knew bullshit when he heard it. Evie was buying it, though, and Morris smiled at that.
"And precognition," Evie stated. "That's how he knew they had to go to the port... "
"Not exactly," Morris replied. "There is a tachyon transmitter that activates when an Alpha not from this timeline approaches one of our ports - which is what happened today. One has been trained to receive the transmission in the form of a vision. He will see a red pyramid suddenly appear in front of him."
"And where did he get these... abilities?" Evie asked hesitantly.
"He was born with them. All of us are. However, in this reality, almost all of us lose the them after age four or so... , as you well know," he looked at her as if they shared some secret, which irritated Travis even further. He kept his mouth shut even though he was not buying any of this
"But you were able to train him to use it?"
"It wasn't difficult... If you tell an adult to move an object without touching it, he will look at you as if you are mad. If you tell a 2-year-old to do it, he will attempt to comply. Since we generally don't ask that of 2-year-olds, few people are aware that one child in fifty will succeed. All of the Alphas are trained to use their psi abilities, but with some of them, like One, who have a natural gift, the training is specific and intensive, And because he's been at it longer, his abilities are highly developed." He looked at Evie and asked her gently, "You're not shocked by any of this, are you?"
She looked both bewildered and trapped by his question.
"Do you remember?" he asked.
"Remember what?" Travis interrupted. "What's he talking about?"
She looked at both men defiantly. "Yes, I remember. I want to know how you know." That last question was directed at Morris.
Morris smiled warmly. "I was there, Evie. You called me Tay-a."
Evie's gaze softened, but her tone was still abrupt. "I thought I had dreamed all of that."
"What the hell is going on?" Travis asked.
"Evie and her brother were Betas," Morris said. "Children who for any number of reasons were not suited to being trained as Alphas, but who possessed unique and powerful gifts nonetheless." He smiled. "They were both gifted at what we call 'remote viewing' - the ability to see specific things that are nowhere near them. Evie was very good at the game of 'Find the Rocket'," he laughed softly. "The Russians never had a clue how we were locating their missile bases. They wouldn't have believed it even if they had known."
Evie looked at her husband, who asked, "What is he talking about, Evie?"
"When I was small... I remember being taken into a room... I had crayons and ... and they would show me a picture of what they wanted me to see in my head. Missiles, planes, submarines. And then they'd give me paper... no, maps... They were maps, weren't they?" She looked at Morris, who nodded.
"Evie was one of the most talented remote viewers we ever had. Her Psi abilities were off the scale. Unfortunately most children lose their ability for remote viewing eventually, alas. Otherwise, Evie would have made a superior Alpha."
"An Alpha? What the hell...." Travis began, but then didn't know how to finish.
"I was the youngest of the Series I Alphas," Morris explained. "Evie was one of the first Series II candidates. It's no accident that we have entrusted the boys to your care."
"Why wasn't I chosen?" Evie asked, sounding vaguely hurt and bewildered.
"Oh, but you were, as a Beta," Morris said. "You are a point of contact."
"Point of contact? With what?"
"Most creative people - such as you, Evie - are aware of the existence of alternate time lines, even though they never suspect that's where their ideas are coming from. You think your writing is just a hobby, but it's studied very closely by Omnichron and our sister organizations around the globe."
"It is?" Evie's eyes widened. "But I'm not that good... I've never been published - I just have a small following on the internet..."
Damn it, that was news to Travis, too.
"Certain individuals perceive the existence of other realities, even though they don't realize it. 'Remote viewers' can unknowingly see things that happen in other time lines. They are often our best 'storytellers.' They are the people who supposedly imagine worlds where there are Hobbits and Harry Potters and dragons named Godzilla."
Travis frowned. "What do you mean, 'supposedly imagine'?"
"It's all happening, somewhere," Morris said.
Evie gave Travis a pleading look, but he was no help. He'd never read his wife's stories. He didn't even know what she wrote about.
"But my stories are about the future... they can't be happening now."
Morris smiled. "All it takes is for one or two important events to occur differently and everything changes. In the timeline you write about, the Library at Alexandria never burned, so that knowledge was never lost. Rome and Egypt did not fall, so there were no Dark Ages... The light bulb was invented by DaVinci, and on July 4th, 1776, a man walked on the moon. Think where that timeline is by now."
"Oh... " was all Evie could say.
Morris abruptly changed the subject. "You don't have to take the boys if you don't want to... but you are the best option. Both of you."
Evie's expression suddenly changed. "Where are they?" she asked, her voice full of concern. "They are out there alone, right now."
Morris didn't have to question how she knew this. Her psi abilities were almost as strong as One's. "They will be fine," he said. "You'll see them soon."
And just like that, he left.
Continues in "Journey"
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