The group surfaced in 1986. They stood on the platform of an Amtrak train. Tom looked worried, “This isn’t right, something’s wrong. There wasn’t an Amtrak at the coordinates that we we’re supposed to land at.” Col. Taylor looked like he was processing every aspect of his surroundings. Finally, he headed for the exit.
The group followed as quickly as they could. No one asked any questions, even though their minds were running on overload. Col. Taylor stopped a stranger, “Could you tell me where the nearest three star hotel is?” The man gave him the information, and Colonel Taylor headed in that direction. Each of their group followed behind slowly.
A half hour later, they were having lunch in the hotel dining room. “What went wrong Tom?” Phyllis was furious, “I don’t like mistakes.” Tom alternated between worry and hope, “If I’m right, we have bigger problems than your preferences Phyllis. If I’m wrong, I’ll buy you a new Mercedes. Someone altered our signal.
Cameron thought a moment. “Logistics.” Tom nodded, “The question is, where is he in this room?” Cameron winced, “Too dangerous, he has an operative, probably more than one.” Phyllis wiped her mouth with her napkin, “So he wants us here, why?”
Virginia laughed, “A scene of a maniacal cartoon villain gloating over their plan comes to my mind. We know that isn’t it, so what else could it be, besides the fact he wants us to know he can make our equipment unreliable.”
Tom smiled, “He can’t make it unreliable, he just wants us to think he can.” Cameron examined the room while talking, “Then how are we off course?” Tom sighed, “A hard push. If you want to stop a car on the road, and have no control of that car, what do you do?” Phyllis sighed, “You take another car and ram into it. He makes a trip the same time as us, and the ripple effect, like a blunt object pushes us here.”
Tom thought about what she said. “No, he set up a road block, he’s transmitting a constant signal from two directions. He’s essentially locking us in geographically. We could jump in time, but not any location in time, unless we reflected his signals in another direction. In other words, we smash his roadblock. That’s what he wants to do, sidetrack us. He wants us to think stopping his counter signal is more important than our mission.”
Phyllis cut her steak, “Since we all agree that were not going to do that, how do we make him think that’s what we are going to do?” Cameron laughed, “The same way a cartoon hero would, by finding his operative, and punching him in the eye!” They all laughed this time, as the man at table four sipped his coffee.
He put down his cup and joined them. “My name isn’t Hannigan, but you can call me that. I’m your contact with Mr. Minnix, and he expects to have to eliminate the stubborn ones. So, who isn’t stubborn, who would rather return to their own time and live?”
Tom never flinched. “Walter Reynolds is in a small apartment somewhere. If Oscar wants to know where, he can drop the threat. If not, then he can target practice all he wants.”
Hannigan frowned, “I am not a fan of new information. I expect we’ll see each other again.” Once he had gone, Cameron commented. “Convincing gentleman, probably an actor.” “Tom agreed. “His name is Sykes, he teaches acting at a small college in Colorado.”
“Minnix knows that I know him, and he’s showing his abilities. That was Sykes years before I met him. He transported a younger version of him here. Sykes is good, but not so good he wouldn’t have acknowledged me in some way.”
“What it means is this. He’s telling us that he has an army of resources. That he can not only pull people from time, he can pull versions of them from different times. He’s wanting us to believe that he has limitless power, some sort of Machiavelli. He’s trying to use fear, which tells me he’s not sure of anything. If he were as powerful as he wants us to believe, there would have been two Sykes, setting side by side.”