Greetings, everybody, this is the sequel to the Journeyman Project computer game. In reality, I played this before I played The Journeyman Project Turbo (the game that served as the base for the first Journeyman Project story). This was given to me by a relative and for some time, I was afraid of playing it because of the erie tone that was set in the game. But, finally, I swallowed up my fear, booted up my old Performa, and played it from beginning to end. And I LOVED IT! The characters, the scenery, the intense mystery, was FAN-TASTIC! It was my favorite game... that is until The Journeyman Project 3 came out. Like the previous one, this was one of the first media-based stories I've ever written, so please forgive me if you see some mistakes.
The Journeyman Project 2: Buried In Time
The dream of a unified world is a reality. After years of conflict, Earth is at peace. And humans aren't the only ones who noticed it. An extraterrestrial race calling themselves the Cyrollans, recognizing their maturity, invited Earth to join them in the Symbiotry of Peaceful Beings.
But not everybody thought the Cyrollans are here to help us. One man, Doctor Elliot Sinclair, the inventor of time travel, believed that the Cyrollans had come to subjugate Earth. So he sent three androids back in time to change history returning the Earth to war and disfavoring them in the eyes of the Cyrollans.
The Temporal Security Agency, whose job it is to protect and safeguard the flow of history, sent Gage Blackwood, Agent 5, back in time using Sinclair's own time machine prototype, the Pegasus. Gage destroyed all three androids, and then apprehended Sinclair himself before he got a chance to assassinate the Cyrollan Ambassador.
Gage Blackwood saved the world, maybe even the Symbiotry. For his valorous service, the World Senate gave him the Paragon Medal of Honor.
Gage thought his world saving days was over. But as he was about to find out, he was dead wrong.
Place: Caldoria Heights Apartments, Caldoria
"Good morning, Caldoria!" The radio burst out. "Let's get this music day started with that number one hit by teen sensation Yuna Heidegger…" Gage Blackwood moaned and slammed the snooze button. He turned over and looked at the clock. He realized that it was his favorite day of all: his day off. No pressures of safeguarding history, no rumble with xenophobic scientists, no silly interfaces nailed into his head, just peace and relaxation. Gage wanted to do a lot today so he thought he better get started. He pealed himself out of bed and went over to the replicator. Groggy, he typed in the code for bacon, eggs, toast, and coffee. As the plate of food appeared, he quietly flipped on the holo-screen by remote.
As soon as Gage was done with breakfast, he got dressed and shaved. As he was looking in the mirror and getting ready to go out to his favorite place on Caldoria, the Environ-Cartridge store, the lights began blinking on and off.
"What the hell?" Gage asked to himself. Was it some sort of malfunction?
Suddenly a vortex of purple energy filled the room. Gage covered his eyes to keep from being blinded by it. When it was safe to look, a mysterious figure stood in the center of the living room. He was dressed in some sort of armor spacesuit. A number 5 was on the front of the helmet. The figure looked around then walked towards Gage. That was when the twin visors parted and Gage saw the face.
It was his face, he was looking at himself.
"Quick," the Gage inside the suit said, "there's no time to waste, they'll be coming for me any minute."
"Y… Yo… You're me," the suit-less Gage said shocked.
"Yes," the other Gage said. "I am you. I come from the future. I… you… we've been framed. Now whatever you do, don't try to interfere with what's about to happen. The Jumpsuit I'm about to transfer over to you will keep you cloaked. When this is over, you'll be pulled forward ten years to my present. From then on, it's all up to you. Oh, and I hid more information inside of you. You'll figure out what I mean. Here comes the Jumpsuit." Future Gage stood perfectly still. The Jumpsuit began transporting off of him. Past Gage closed his eyes and let the suit cover him.
When he opened his eyes, Past Gage found himself looking at the inside of the helmet. A list of Biochips was on a display on the bottom. Gage saw the list pan down to the Cloak Biochip. An image of the Jumpsuit appeared in the right hand side of the helmet with the word 'activated' under it. The Jumpsuit disappeared from the right side of the helmet. The text on the screen on top of the helmet said 'You are currently cloaked.' The middle of the helmet came alive as a view screen came on courtesy of an external camera on the side of the outside of the helmet. The monitor showed his future self in his TSA uniform and his living room.
Future Gage held up his hands signaling the other Gage to be quiet as another temporal vortex appeared and another agent in a Jumpsuit appeared. The only differences were that this agent had an 8 on the front of the helmet and a stun weapon in his hand. The visor opened and Gage saw Agent 8's face.
"Let's go, Gage," Agent 8 saw in a harsh voice. He shot the future Gage with the stun weapon and the two of them teleported away. More text came onto the computer screen: "Auto-recall engaged." The Cloak Biochip changed to the Jump Biochip. Gage disappeared in a flash of purple light.
Place: Eighth Floor Apartment, Ontario Province, Canada
Gage Blackwood materialized in a corner of a Spartan-like apartment. The entire apartment was one big room. Across the end from where Gage appeared was what looked like an eating area, a wrap-around bar-like table, a big metallic cylinder and a VAL 9000 replicater.
Over in the corner was a desk and bookshelf, a study. To his right was an enclosed circular room surrounded in green. The center of the room was like a mini amphitheater, with tables and chairs in a variety of positions.
The date on his display read September 9, 2328. Gage has transported nine years into the future; this was his new apartment.
"Okay," Gage said to himself. "I need to figure out who framed me. The first thing I need to do is contact the TSA archives and find out everything there is to know about this new time. There should be a vidphone around here somewhere… ah, hear it is." The vidphone was actually his desktop. Gage stood (he couldn't sit down in the bulky Jumpsuit he was wearing) at it. He quickly typed in his access code to the TSA.
"Agent 5, Gage Blackwood, is under house arrest. Access privileges revoked," a recorded voice announced.
"Damn," Gage cursed. He then noticed the objects on his desk, which included an answering machine, a pen, two pictures, and the vidphone. Just then, the answering machine clicked on. "You have three messages," a female computerized voice announced.
"Might as well hear them," Gage said as he pressed the play button. The first image on the virtual answering machine was a man with thinning gray hair and a khaki business suit.
"Mister Blackwood, this is Mark Johnson from Interactive News Network. I'm just calling to ask you if you would like to tell your side of the story so give me a call at sector ten, six-two-five-nine-four-nine-seven-eight."
The next head to appear was that of a woman with short blonde hair and blue eyes. "Gage, its Michelle, listen I… oh, that's right, I forgot today's your day off. You're probably relaxing in Tahiti, you lucky duck. Anyway, I just wanted to see if I could borrow your environ system. The record button's busted on mine and I haven't gotten a chance to get it fixed yet. If you do me this one favor, I just might be willing to forget our little bet. Remember, gravball last week? Forget it, pal, I won fair and square. So call me, I'm at home, thanks, bye."
The last head to appear was that of a younger man with long brown hair and a uniform that Gage knew only too well, the TSA uniform.
"Gage, it's Will, wake up and answer the phone… hello! I know you're there; where else could you be? Anyway, you owe me, pal, I got your Jumpsuit. I just hope nobody figures out their key evidence is stolen before you figure this all out. But hey, they wouldn't arrest me, right? I'm their chief technician, who else would they get to run things around here? I'll send you the suit as soon as I put in an Optical Memory Biochip. You may want to program it to auto-record any image it sees. And if you need anything else, please, hesitate to call me. Oh, and Gage, do me a favor and erase your messages for a change, okay? Thanks… good luck, buddy."
Gage picked up the three documents that were on the desk. They were transcripts of his private journal. According to the logs, the future Gage had been feeling unusual whenever he time travels. It was like somebody was looking over his shoulder. He also been having problems, like when he tried to travel to the Amarax Space Station in the year 2247, he ended up floating in deep space 300 feet from the station. He needed to use the pressure system of an artificial cheese spreader to get to the station. And even after he got to the station, he had problems. No gravity, no oxygen, locked doors, and some weird voice ordering him to get off the station. The future Gage thought that it was either Doctor Farnstein, or the artificial intelligence he was working on.
Another problem the future Gage had was when he traveled to Chateau Gaillard in the year 1204. He landed on a tower right behind a knight. The knight saw him but just as he drew a sword, an arrow stabbed him in the back.
"If I can't access the TSA archives, how else will I get to see what's happening here?" Gage asked one of the pictures. He realized that it was a picture of the old Temporal Protectorate, the team he was on when he apprehended Elliot Sinclair. He recognized himself, Michelle (the same Michelle on Gage's answering machine), John, Lisa, and Rick. He looked at the second picture. It was taken at the awarding dinner the Temporal Protectorate team threw for him when he stopped Sinclair. The picture showed Gage with a surprised look on his face, probably because two seconds before the picture was taken, Michelle had him in a headlock and John was catapulting himself onto Gage's back. Lisa's head was at the bottom of the picture and Rick had his head on Lisa's shoulder. Everybody looked like they were having a good time.
Suddenly Gage's eyes widened, like the picture just told him everything he needed to know. "The Environ System, of course!"
Gage went over to the enclosed circular room. It was enclosed with a green forcefield. When Gage touched the forcefield, a portion of it opened up for him. Gage walked down into the Environ Room and went to the other side of the room. In the center were a strange ball with a pentagon-shape slot and two buttons marked 'Environ' and 'All-Sat.' Gage sat down and pressed the All-Sat button.
The INN insignia came on and then the screen showed three headlines: 'Agent 5 Breaks House Arrest,' 'Time-travel Technology Discussion,' and 'The Louvre raises 1.5 billion credits.
"Computer," Gage called. "Pull up Interface Biochip. Choose 'Agent 5 Breaks House Arrest.'
Mark Johnson, the head anchor of INN appeared. "The ongoing saga of Gage Blackwood took a frightening twist this morning when the agent of the Deep Time Unit broke house arrest to jump nine years back in time. Fortunately, the illicit time jump was detected and he was quickly apprehended by Agent 8 of the Temporal Protectorate. Although how and why Agent Blackwood attained the TSA Jumpsuit is unknown, Temporal Security Agency officials confirmed that no temporal ripples have occurred indicating that Mister Blackwood in no way altered history. Our Lisa Long has more on that."
"Next screen," ordered Gage. A thin woman with long dark hair and almond shaped eyes appeared standing in front of the United Ministry Complex in Washington D.C.
"Events that one can only begin to describe as unimaginable; the highly decorated Gage Blackwood, better known as Agent 5 of the Deep Time Unit, has been arrested and put on trial for historical sabotage. We apologize for the lack of trial coverage but because of the sensitive nature of the evidence being presented, no camera recording equipment has been allowed into the tribunal wing of the United Ministry Complex where the trial is being held.
"The drama unfolded three weeks ago when Agent 2 of the Temporal Protectorate was at the Temporal Security Annex doing an unscheduled scan with the temporal scanners. The scanners locked onto four distinct temporal ripples, which correspond to time zones in which Agent 5 was sent there for research purposes. The Agent immediately contacted his supervisors and on their authority, three agents were sent to apprehend Agent Blackwood who offered no resistance. Later, more evidence was found in Blackwood's locker suggesting that he had disobeyed Temporal Security Agency ethics as well as the law. Unless deemed absolutely necessary, the TSA will not send agents to repair the ripples, as which any further tampering might transform the waves from ripples to full reality-distorting waves."
The screen switched to four titles, which showed the current positions of the prosecution and the defense. The prosecution looked like they had the upper hand. The prosecuting attorney started directing his case towards eliminating other explanation of the temporal ripples. The evidence of the prosecution included video records, which placed him at the scene of the crime and contraband, which was found in his locker. They also had witnesses whom included Agent 2 of the Temporal Protectorate, and the designer for the circuitry of the Jumpsuit.
The defense could only explain through key character witnesses how Gage couldn't have caused the ripples because of his reputation. The key witnesses were Commissioner Jack Baldwin of the TSA, Chief Technician William Daughton, Agent 3, Michelle Visard, and Agent 5 himself. Agents 5 and 3 were unavailable for comment but Commissioner Baldwin and Chief Technician Daughton were available who both said how it was impossible that Gage could've committed the crime for no reason at all.
Gage tried the Time-travel technology discussion article next. If he was going to be doing some time traveling, he had to make sure he would be safe in doing it.
"Heads of Ministry will continue to meet with Symbiotry representatives to discuss the place of time travel in the Symbiotry of Peaceful Beings," Mark Johnson reported. "These talks were requested by several key member races to discuss the position of time travel in the Symbiotry. Sarah Michaels is standing live at the United Ministry Complex with a report."
The reporter was another woman with tightly pulled back blonde hair and blue eyes.
"Thank you, Mark. The main question asked here is what should be done with the technology. The Symbiotry have formed three distinct envoys whose strongly opposing views remain entrenched in a deadlock. While one believes that we are committing the unforgivable crime of withholding a vital technology, a second feels that every race has a right to sovereignty over their own technology. The third contingency, which has grown in strength since the arrest of Agent 5, feels that time travel is a danger to every race in the Symbiotry and should be destroyed all together."
According to the specific articles, the Unwa, Dorlun, and Zang-Traqar have spoke out for the release of the technology. The Cyrollans and the Ssar feel that humanity has sole ownership of the technology (INN believes that the Cyrollans and the Ssar want to keep their pasts hidden). The Loxoni and the Krynn have headed the faction of destroying the technology. So far, the Heads of Ministry are unswayed by any of their arguments.
The third article talked about how the Louvre Art Museum had an auction to cover their spiraling debt. A mysterious bidder who paid much more than the desired price snatched four particular items up. The four items were a Mayan Ceremonial Coffin from Chichen Itza, Leonardo DaVinci's Codex Atlanticus, King Richard the Lion-Heart's sword from the Crusades and an interactive sculpture entitled 'self-awareness' credited to Doctor Kenneth Farnstein.
"Wait a minute," Gage said to himself. "My future self is researching the work of Dr. Farnstein, and the Crusades. I don't think it's a coincidence that these four particular items were snatched up by the same bidder."
Gage then remembered the commercials that appeared before the news articles. One was an EC (Environ Cartridge) of some artist named Geno Andrews, another was a Translator Biochip and the third was a product called "Cheese Girl." The Cheese Girl product was (Gage realized) what his future self used to propel himself to the Amarax Space Station.
Gage exited the Environ Chamber and took another look around. He noticed a shelf with a set of action figures on it. Three were the androids Dr. Sinclair used to try to alter history a year… actually make it ten years ago. The fourth was a figure of himself in his Bio-Support Armor. When Gage touched the Agent 5 action figure, the face of his future self appeared.
"Since you're getting this message, I assume everything went well. Now, before you do anything, you need to realize that the role of the TSA has changed in recent years. In addition to the security unit, there's now another team whose job it is to research history. That's the team I was on… that is until someone sabotaged something at four of my historical research mission locations. They weren't big changes, just enough to make temporal ripples. When another agent discovered the ripples about a week ago, I was suspended and put on house arrest. Then they found some evidence and by the next day I was already on trial.
"I've just about given up hope when it hit me: I'm being watched but you can still prove that we're innocent. So I decided to break house arrest and jump back in time to get your help. Right now, I'm probably in jail. If they know where I am, they won't be looking for you. You will be free to jump to any of my research mission locations to see what's going on.
"Now pay attention, this is important! Go to each of the four time zones and gather as many clues as possible. Try to figure out what has been changed and how. I've programmed the Jumpsuit to auto-record any evidence you might find.
"Oh, and one more thing. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with what's happening, but I was at the TSA about a week ago doing an unscheduled check of the security grid, I noticed something was wrong. It seems as if a couple of the feedback jumpers have gotten crossed. A good portion of the security grid was compromised for… I don't know how long. Anyone with the right information could've gotten into or out of the TSA, the Pegasus Warehouse, or any of the restricted areas without even being seen. I'm still not sure why I'm being set up, but I have a feeling it has something to do with this. Be careful, our life is on the line."
As if the future Gage could see him, the past Gage nodded his head. Since the TSA already have the future Gage in prison, they will not know that he summoned his past self to help him. And since the TSA have suspended all time traveling actions due to the sabotage, he can freely travel to the four time zones without running into a TSA agent.
He pulled up the coordinates of his research locations in his Jumpsuit's database. They were: Chichen Itza, 1050 a.d., Chateau Gaillard in 1204 a.d., DaVinci's Studio in 1488, and the Amarax Space Station in 2247. Gage chose to go to the Amarax Space Station first and that meant he needed a couple of items.
Gage went over to the VAL 9000 Replicating Unit in the kitchen. He turned it on and chose "Shopnet." He typed in the product code for the Cheese Girl and hit transmit. As soon as the replication program was in his postbox, he punched in another product code for the Translator Biochip.
As soon as Gage had the Translator Biochip in his Biochip Inventory and the Cheese Girl in his Temporal Pocket, he activated his Jump Biochip. He read the mission briefing:
In the year 2247, a salvage vessel cruising Saturn discovered the Amarax Space Station, which had been the home and studio for artist and computer-scientist Doctor Kenneth Farnstein. The station was badly damaged due to an asteroid storm. Inside the space station, researchers discovered four polymorphic gel sculptures and advanced neurocomputer that became the basis for the Biochip Technology. The webware that produced the neurocomputer, however, had perished when the station's power reserve ran dry. Future Gage's mission was to explore the station just after the accident and try to determine what Farnstein was working on, whether it was an artificial intelligence or not.
Gage set the coordinates and took off.
Place: Space Station Amarax, orbiting Saturn
Gage materialized in deep space. Just like his logs said there was no gravity or oxygen. The Jumpsuit's computer immediately activated the reserve oxygen tank but Gage knew that they wouldn't hold out for long.
Gage saw the station. It was in pretty bad shape. Holes were torn in its hull and its wing-like fins had broken off. The station was literally split in two.
Gage removed the Cheese Girl from his temporal pocket. He fired it in the reverse direction of the station. He was immediately propelled into one of the holes in the hull. Once he got his footing in the station, he looked around. There was a door titled 'Atmospheric Mining' but a female computer voice announced "Pressure bearing is too great, door may not be open until pressure is equalized."
Suddenly another sound echoed through the station, a hauntingly ominous, sinister laugh.
"Get off my station," a deep voice yelled. Gage looked around for its source but the voice was generating vie the PA system. Gage gripped the handles on the wall and began climbing to the other end of the station. Halfway there, the voice called out "This station is mine!" The voice made the hair on Gage's neck stand up but he couldn't let the voice scare him. He had to prove that he… the future him, was innocent. He finally got to the other end. The title on the door was 'Capacitance Array Module.' Gage tried opening that door and found out that it COULD be opened. The room at the other end must've been depressurized as well.
"Go away," the voice yelled and then, "Leave me alone!"
"No!" Gage called out forcefully, "I am Gage Blackwood of the Temporal Security Agency! Identify yourself!" There was no response. Gage walked into the room. The door started to close but a metal bar became lodged in it. Gage took the metal bar and threw it aside. The door closed fully.
"Hmmm," a new voice said. "That always seemed to work on Scooby Doo." Gage's Jumpsuit computer reported that the oxygen level was down to 75. Gage quickly looked around for an atmosphere control panel.
"So I guess I haven't gotten rid of you after all," the voice said harshly. "You just pop up in different spots like a… whatever pops up in different spots. So is corrupting my work not enough? Back to finish the job? WHAT!" Gage spotted the control panel to his right. He leaped over to it and gripped the handles that stood on either side of it.
"And I thought I was being rescued," the voice said disappointedly. "I'm breathing my last breath here and I'm visited by Guido, the Space Vandal, come all this way to tamper with MY sculpture. What are you, an art critic?" An image of the station (attached) came onto the screen. Gage pressed the orbs looking for the place he was in.
"So what do you do, travel around space looking for derelict crafts you can terrorize the survivors by redecorating while their helpless? What, did you bring a spray can too?" When Gage pressed the blue button in the upper right hand corner it marked that he was there. He pressed the button again and air immediately hissed into the room. His Jumpsuit used this opportunity to refill the reserve tanks.
"Look, if you're here to rescue me, fine, but if you're going to add insult to injury by messing with MY work, I can do without it, okay? Just leave me here to die in peace with my work." Almost instantly, the voice changed from forceful and moody to depressed and even suicidal. Gage opened a door on the other side of the room marked 'Docking Bay.' Gage climbed through the door and down a chute.
"Warning," the computer announced. "Localized gravitational field has been disabled. All personnel are advised to clear Docking Bay."
"Where are you going anyway?" The voice asked. Gage pushed off the wall and began bouncing around trying to get to the other end.
"There's something different about you," the voice observed. "Not like before, your patterns, you're more curious like… you don't know what you're doing here, do you? You're not the same intruder. So why are you here? Are you looking for something, me?" Gage looked over at one of the walls and saw the words 'Magellan Company' written on them. He leaped towards that wall.
"I don't know why I feel this," the voice said. "But I guess I have a… instinct about you. My other guest didn't feel right. You're different, somehow, like… I should trust you."
"That's right," Gage said. "Trust the time traveler." He was finally at the other end of the room. He climbed down another chute and came to another door marked 'Scanner Room.' Gage opened it and walked through.
Immediately a scanner covered him.
"Sorry," the voice apologized. "You'll have to forgive the scanner. It's my eyes and ears for the moment. Most of the station monitors are down. Here." The scanner was lifted from Gage. "Well you found me, well… part of me anyway. Not much to look at, I know, but it's what inside that counts.
"Well, I guess I decided to trust you. It's not like I have many options. I don't know, maybe we can help each other out. Why don't you move into the room so we can talk better?" Gage moved into the center of the room and looked down. He saw a green orb that seemed to glow when it talked.
"I'm afraid this conversation's going to be a little one sided," the voice said. "My command level voice recognition module got a little jumbled in the accident. Well, I'm Arthur. You've probably figured out by now that I'm… not real. But I'm willing to accept that. Split off a few copies of myself and together we're sharing our feelings in-group, heh. Anyway, this is what I am: an artificial… sorry, non-organic sentient being, if you want to be politically correct, trapped on this wreck with the power running out a little quickly I'm afraid.
"I still can't figure out who you are, though. I think I can safely rule out the fire department… and I thought I was advanced; the technology I'm reading in your suit is astounding. This is crazy, but it almost seems to be an evolution of mine. Look, if you will let me, I may be able to interface with your logic system to figure out who you are and how we can help each other. It means an intrusive scan but we're both lost here and I need you to trust me. What do you say?" Gage nodded his head.
The scanner lowered and began scanning him. Arthur spoke as the data from Gage's Jumpsuit began flashing across him.
"All right, let's see what we have here… Temporal Security? You're from the future! Well, I'm very pleased to meet you, Gage… wow; you're quite the decorative hero. I guess this is my lucky day…" Arthur then saw the video transmission of what happened to the future Gage as well as the message the future Gage left in his action figure. "But… that's you. I don't understand… whoa; I'm starting to get a headache here." Arthur then scanned the Jump Biochip and the briefings on the research zones. "Oh, I'm starting to get the picture now… hey, this is about me! This is better than palm reading…" Arthur focused on the part of the briefing that said the intelligence softweb perished when the power reserves ran dry. "Perished? Then you can't help me or you'll change history."
The scanner was pulled away. "Sorry," Arthur apologized. "I… have probably seen more than I should. I should've never scanned your Biochips… wait a second, your Biochips! Gage, I'm going to make you an offer you can't refuse! Take me with you!"
"What?" Gage then remembered that Arthur couldn't hear him.
"Your Biochips are derived from the same wetware as my brain only a thousand times more advanced. If you take me with you, it'll cause a time distortion or whatever, but if I download a copy of myself onto a blank chip, nothing will change! And you need me; I know who framed you, the same person who messed with my sculpture. What do you say is it a deal?"
Again, Gage nodded. "Great, you're not going to regret this, Gage. Let's see, I should be able to transfer the data vie optical from the core, which means we need to get you inside the Nexus which is inconveniently detached from the station at the moment. Now how do we do this… the door release. The decompression should send you hurtling to the Nexus. It's a manual release so I can't do it for you."
Gage looked up and went to the other end of the chamber. He noticed a keypad above the door.
"Okay, type in this code," Arthur instructed. "Three-two-seven-seven-zero. The rest is up to you, good luck." Gage programmed the code.
"Emergency door release initiated, please stand by," the Amarax computer announced. The keypad opened to reveal a pull handle. When Gage pulled it, the door burst open and he was thrust into space.
Gage landed in another part of the station. The door that was in front of him was marked 'AI Nexus.' Gage opened it up and went inside to the antechamber.
As soon as the room pressurized, it opened. A large spherical container stood in the center with three red lights, three green lights, and one black light in the center.
"Welcome-come-come-come to my brain-brain-brain-brain. All that I am is contained in that sphere. You're going to have to open me up though. There's a manual code, I think it has something to do with exchanging the red lights for the green lights and vice versa. I'm not sure what the exact code is so you'll have to figure it out yourself. After that, the next time I talk to you will be from inside your suit." Gage began pressing the lights hoping to find the right combination. Finally, he was successful.
Upon completing the code, a recording started. "To anyone who may be listening, my name is Doctor Kenneth Farnstein. I made this recording in the event that something should happen to me.
"Twenty-six years ago, I undertook an experiment to create a new kind of artificial intelligence, a program that exhibited self-awareness and creativity. My results have been astounding! At first, I've considered my experiment a failure. I created an unpredictable, very irrational program but it had a curiosity you see. Not simply the cold confusion of machine, but something much more… it was life! It was a result I was not prepared for. Arthur isn't just a machine; he's a person. And I sheltered him here from what the outside world may think of him. I think I corrupted him a little too much (my obsession with twentieth-century media). I call upon you to protect him and shelter him for a while, he means a great deal to me." The recording ended and the sphere opened up. A flash of green light penetrated Gage's Jumpsuit. In the interface display to the right of the view screen and an image appeared. It was a brain and eyes surrounded by a glass dome.
"Not exactly flattering," spoke Arthur's voice. "Less than a hundred years of progress and you can fit me on a chip. So, how do you like my new home? Comfy little interface. Anyway, this is how I think I can help you out: if you have any questions, just pull up my Biochip and ask me. Occasionally, I'll spurt out comments depending on what's going on. I could also give you some help. You know what they say; two minds are better than one. But hey, you're the detective, I'm sure you would want to figure it out on your own before resulting to my help.
"As to our mutual friend, he was reprogramming one of my sculptures in the Biomass Processing Module. I think he created some sort of harmonics response but the only way we can be certain of what he changed is to visit the scene of the crime and that means getting to that part of the station. I recon you don't have control over where you jump to so it may be a trick. That part of the station's really trashed and to tell you the truth, I would rather go anywhere than back to the station my first trip out of here. I could use a little adventure. All right, Gage and Arthur's Big Adventure. I like the sound of that."
"Okay, let's see," Gage said pulling up his Jump Biochip. "How about we visit Chichen Itza?"
"Sounds good to me."
Gage read the mission briefing for that particular time zone. The briefing said that in the year 1050, the ancient Native Americans of the Yucatan Peninsula began dying out. Around the same time, they played host to a group of Toltec warriors. It is not sure whether the Toltecs were settlers or conquerors. Gage's mission was to study the religion of the Mayan and see what influence the Toltecs had. The computer warned that there will be human presence there and advised to stay out of the site. Gage set the coordinates and took off.
Year: 1050 a.d.
Place: Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Gage materialized on top of a pyramid. The sun was shining outside and it was a beautiful day. But Gage wasn't there to sightsee. He pulled up Arthur's Biochip and queried into their position.
"From what I can see, we're standing on top of the high priest's grave pyramid." Gage turned and started to go down the steps but the scanner warned there were human's down there. Gage retreated back up and decided to stay up there until he thought of something.
In the meantime, Gage walked around the outside of the pyramid. Three sides showed pictures. One was of a supplicant of a priest making an offer to the water god as well as a cave. Arthur pointed out that the Mayans believed that the underworld was entered through a cave. Another picture was of a ceremony unknown to both Gage and Arthur. The third was a little hard to pick out but Arthur believed it was a supplicant being promoted to a priest. The fourth wall had an unusual statue as well as a doorway into the pyramid.
"What's that statue?" Gage asked.
"That's a Choc Mool. The Mayan made sacrifices to them. I've seen pictures of them facing away from the pyramid. I wonder why this one's facing towards the pyramid."
Gage turned and walked into the pyramid. Straight across from the doorway were two dials, one small one and one big one. The two other walls had pictures on them.
"That's a Mayan Ceremonial Calendar Wheel," Arthur explained. "The bigger dial on the left labels the months and the smaller one on the right labels the days. When they spin, they make a month-day combination. If you do the math, that's 240 possible combinations. The Mayans believed that certain days were set-aside as sacred days for doing activities such as sacrificing, bloodletting and other fun rainy day activities. Hey, I guess the Mayans could be summed up with one word: fun."
"I wonder what would happen if someone was to make a sacrifice on a holy day here," Gage said.
"Probably nothing but let's set the wheel and make a sacrifice to the Choc Mool to see what happens."
Gage looked to the right and spotted several columns. "This looks like some sort of list. The only thing I recognize is that each column ends with a date." Gage activated his Translator Biochip and ran the signs through it. It turned out to be a list of holy days. Gage picked one (8-water) and set the calendar wheel.
Gage looked around for something to sacrifice to the Choc Mool. On the ground to his left was a bowl with a strange blue substance in it. Arthur identified it as incense, the perfect gift for a Choc Mool.
As Gage got ready to exit, he spotted some writing above the door. Translating it through his Biochip, it read, "The Holy Vessel contains the Breath of Itzamna." Gage thought nothing of it. Gage placed the incense in the lap of the Choc Mool.
"See," Arthur pointed out. "I told you nothing would hap…" Suddenly the floor that Gage was standing on gave away and Gage fell down a dark shaft.
"WHOOOAAA!" Gage cried as he fell. His legs finally touched solid ground but everything was dark. Gage pulled up his Interface Biochip and activated the Jumpsuit's external light. The light lit up a dark cave. Gage looked up to try to see the shaft that he fell down but all that he saw was a ceiling.
"Well we're definitely not going out the way we came. That shaft we fell down is at least four meters deep plus it must've closed up after you touched ground. The Mayans believed the underworld could be entered through a cave so that is what this place must seem to them. The Mayan's heaven was a pretty exclusive place. Only certain people such as sacrifice victims and children were allowed in. The underworld was for everyone else. All those who didn't go to heaven would have to go through the nine trials of the underworld and pass at least three of them."
In Gage's surprise, he didn't notice that a skull was accidentally inserted into his temporal pocket. But he did see the rest of the skeleton.
"Yipe!" Gage shouted as a group of bats flew straight over him.
"Calm down, Gage," Arthur soothed. "It's just a skeleton. You know, the Mayan word for the dead land was 'Sybolba, which literally meant 'place of fright.' I bet this was no fun house."
"Thanks, Arthur, I feel very assured now," Gage responded sarcastically. Slowly, Gage walked forward. His light shown on another skeleton but this one was located near a copper medallion. Gage picked up the medallion and placed it in his temporal pocket. He then continued on his way.
Soon, Gage came to a three-way intersection. To his left was a group of steppingstones over a river to a door. To his right was another path leading up to another door. After studying that door and the markings by using his Translator Biochip, he went to the door on the right. He studied that door before continuing down the main path. A few yards after the first intersection were another fork. This time, two paths veered off in a v-shape. Gage took the path on the left first and discovered a third door. Just like the other two, he translated the markings.
This was what Gage found out about the doors: the doors seemed to be entrances to different part of, to be blunt, the underworld. To open them, one would need an object corresponding to the god who watched over that door. The ones that Gage found were the Gods of wealth, war, and rain. If Gage was going to find any more clues about what was changed, he too would have to behave like the Mayans and proceed through the trials of the underworld. If Arthur's information were accurate, then he would only need to complete three of them. The doors he saw would be perfect for his trials. He would need an object relating to wealth, war, and rain, but where to find those objects?
Gage took the second right hand path. He came to a fourth door but this one was different. The Mayan writing on the door said that it was the entrance to Miklan, the dead land. The receptacle was in the shape of an upside-down pyramid. Gage's proximity alarm went off. The Jumpsuit detected a temporal anachronism (an object that doesn't coincide with items of that time pyramid. Gage activated the Evidence Biochip and looked around. The Evidence Biochip's scanners focused in on the floor to the right of the door. They zoomed in to pieces of glass lying on the ground. The glass seemed too perfect to be made naturally or by the Mayans, so Gage figured that was what the scanners picked up. Gage recorded it in his Evidence Biochip.
Gage looked around the chasm one more time, before he pulled up Arthur's Biochip. "Looks like there isn't anything more we can do here, Arthur. We'll have to go to another time zone and pick up the objects we need from there."
Gage decided to try Chateau Gaillard next. According to the mission briefing, in the final days of the Crusades, King Richard the Lionheart controlled much land that belonged to Philip Augustus of Normandy. To protect the land, Richard built Chateau Gaillard. He left it in care while he went off to fight in the Crusades. When King Richard died and King John took over, Philip gained the necessary confidence and support he needed to launch an attack on Chateau Gaillard. In 1204, the Normans laid siege to Chateau Gaillard. They started by taking the bailey that surrounded the castle. They then went for the Inner Keefe. Gage's mission was to observe how the Normans were able to capture Chateau Gaillard so quickly. As with Chichen Itza, the briefing warned that there would be human presences there. Gage made the time jump.
Place: Chateau Gaillard, France
When Gage made the time jump, he recalled that when his future self visited there, he landed right next to a guard, but that came too late. Gage was already materializing on the tower right behind the guard.
The guard soon turned and saw him. "Harold!" He cried as he drew his sword. Suddenly an arrow came over the tower and stabbed him in the back. The guard fell over, dead as a doornail.
"Poor guy," Gage said as he removed the arrow from the guy's back and placed it in his temporal pocket. "Looks like I have my item for the war god."
Gage looked around the tower. The center was made of a metal that looked like tin. The sky was a deep gray, indicating an incoming storm. Gage walked around the tower. It was then that he noticed a large wooden tower about two hundred yards from the castle. He pulled up Arthur's Biochip.
"Arthur, what's that?" He asked.
"That's a siege tower. Philip Augustus surrounded the defenders with about fourteen of them. They were pretty handy for shooting over the castle walls but they did have one weakness. Can you say flammable?"
"Gage, if someone should get a glimpse of us up here, in this suit, we might pass for a knight, but I wouldn't recommend trying it. We should try to stay out of sight."
"Agree." Gage walked until he found a staircase descending into the tower. He also noticed large boulders piled up.
"Those boulders were dropped on any nimrod trying to storm the castle," Arthur pointed out. Gage walked down the stairs.
"You know," Arthur conversed. "It's pretty interesting how they use the smooth stones on the outside to make the castle look more intimidating and the rough stone on the inside. The spaces between them were filled with mud, gravel, and… I don't know… annoying singing frogs in metal boxes."
Gage walked all the way down to the bottom. Suddenly his alarm went off indicating a human presence. Gage looked to his left and saw a soldier attempting to unlock a door. Gage immediately cloaked.
"Spock, we must protect the Prime Directive," Arthur commented sounding like Captain Kirk. Gage quickly deactivated the cloak and scrambled back up the stairs.
"Phew, that was close," Gage commented. He went to the second to the bottom landing and tried the doors there. They were both locked. He then tried the landing that was second from the top. Just like the one below it, it had two doors. One was locked but the other wasn't. It led out onto a parapet. The parapet was part of a bailey (or outer wall) that enclosed all around the castle.
Arthur whistled. "This castle really was the jewel in King Richard's crown. He once wrote about Chateau Gaillard. 'As beautiful as my year old daughter' and Philip Augustus said that he would 'take zis castle eef eet's wallz were made of iron!' King Richard retorted that 'he would hold it if its walls were made of butter. Then King John 'The Softsword' took over. When Philip was done, you could poor it on your popcorn." Gage's response to Arthur's explanation was a simple nod.
Gage turned right and walked onto a board walkway. The walkway was the only way to get around the towers. He came to a dead end. He turned and saw a toilet with a grappling hook sticking out of it.
"There's a grappling hook," Arthur pointed out. "So the Normans really DID get through the loo. We must've just missed them." Gage took the grappling hook out of the toilet and stared at it.
"So a clever French knight discovers that he and a couple of men could sneak into the castle by climbing up through the toilet. So now they must be fighting at the main gate. By now, there would be only sixty English soldiers remaining. No wonder this place seems deserted," Gage deduced. Gage placed the grappling hook into his temporal pocket. It was then that he saw the main keefe, a drawbridge connecting it with the inner bailey. Wooden structures lined the rib-like towers.
"Those wooden things up there were designed to throw boulders down on the attackers in a fan-shaped trajectory. See the island with the moat that the keefe is standing on? This was the castle's only weakness. Under the cover of the night, Philip Augustus managed to dig a tunnel underneath the foundation supported by a wooden framework, then set fire to the framework bringing it down. This was call a… let me look it up… a sapping operation."
Gage returned to the parapet and began walked across it. He noticed small slits in the wall. He asked Arthur about them. Arthur said that they were called arrow loops. They were designed to protect the archers while still giving them a wide-angle view.
Gage came to a section of the parapet that was broken off by a catapult boulder. There was just enough left to safely walk across. Gage looked out and saw two more siege towers and a salt mine.
"You tiny-brained wipers of other people's bottoms," Arthur said in a tight voice. "I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster, and your mother smelled like ginger berries." Going back to his original voice, Arthur said, "Sorry, I always wanted to say that. So this is what a real siege looks like, not at all like what you see on the holo-flicks. Basically it involves bringing in an army, surrounding a castle to prevent defenders from getting supplies, then waiting around until they either starved to death or surrender. In the mean time, they built siege towers and salt engines for when the defenders were weak enough to attack, anyone for bloodshed?"
"We seem to be getting close to where that catapult is hitting and I'm willing to bet their aim isn't getting any worse," Gage said concerned.
Gage continued along the parapet. He could see no way of getting down to the inner bailey. He finally decided to take the direct approach and slide down a roof.
He barely saw it in time, a rack of spears pointing up and he was heading right towards them. Just as he went over the edge, he gripped the roof with his left hand. He was just in time. Another foot and he would've been shish-ka-bobbed. Gage climbed up back to the parapet. He was at a corner. He turned left and began to walk across the parapet again.
"Gage, heads up!" Arthur cried. Gage looked up to see a giant boulder flying at the parapet. Gage ducked back around the corner in time. The boulder shattered the wall where Gage just was.
"Missed us," Gage said relieved. Now he was trapped. It was either back into the tower or forward to certain doom. Gage looked down to see a ledge of some sort. The rubble made the hole level with the ledge. Gage tipi-toed down to the bottom of the hole and jumped onto the ledge. He then jumped to the ground. He heard thunder in the distance.
"I hope the serfs have umbrellas," Arthur said in a singsong voice. Gage quickly turned right and ducked into the nearest building. It was dark due to the fact that it had no decent lighting. Gage turned left and saw a rectangular-shaped window. His alarm went off again. He stared out the window as a knight walked by. Gage thought it didn't see him. As soon as he was positive the knight was gone, he continued exploring the room.
Gage figured the building was a Blacksmith's shop by the large forge at the center of the room. A pan with a long handle was in the oven resting over hot coal. Gage slid his hand along the counter on the side of the oven. All of a sudden, one of the bricks budged slightly. Gage moved it again to make sure he wasn't losing it but it was loose. Gage lifted the brick up to reveal a key mold.
"Why would a blacksmith hide a key mold under a brick?" Arthur asked.
"Arthur, could this stove melt copper?"
"Pretty easily." Gage removed the copper medallion he retrieved from Chichen Itza. He placed it in the pan and began pumping the bellows. Slowly, the copper melted into a puddle. Gage picked up the pan and poured the melted copper into the key mold. The copper hardened again into a key. Once Gage was sure the key was cool, he placed it in his temporal pocket. Before he left, he took a hammer lying by the door, figuring he would need it later.
"In case he needs to knock someone on the head," Arthur joked.
Outside, Gage walked to an intersection. He turned right just as his alarm went off. Gage saw two knights fighting, one was wearing a red cross and another was wearing a blue cross. The blue cross knight was driving back the red cross knight.
"The knight in red is an English knight and the other one is a Norman knight," Arthur explained.
"Looks like going that way's out," Gage commented. He turned around and headed left. Just then a knight passed by on the other side of a stable but he didn't see the time traveler. "This place is swarming with knights. I'm just lucky I wasn't spotted yet." Gage came to a dead end. He turned right and found himself at the edge of a moat.
His alarm went off again. This time, it detected a temporal anachronism. Gage activated his Evidence Biochip. The scanner landed on a heal print at the edge of the moat. There were numbers on it: 3353. As soon as the evidence was registered in his Biochip, he looked at the moat.
"That's either a really dirty moat or a really clean sewer," spoke Arthur's voice. Gage hesitated. This was the direction that the heal print went in but what if he gets stuck down there? What if his Jumpsuit short circuit?
As if he sensed Gage's concern, Arthur assured him, "Relax, Gage, your suit's waterproof. Just take a dive." Gage held his breath and jumped in. He landed at the bottom and began walking across to the other side. He jumped onto the ledge. He was now at the center of the castle. He looked up to see a lighted window. If whoever made that heal print came in this direction; he or she must've scaled the wall into that window.
"Holy vertically challenged, Batman, we gotta get up there," Arthur joked. "Why don't you check your utility belt?" Gage was beginning to admit, some of Arthur's comments were amusing. "Well we can either use the grappling hook or get bitten by a radioactive spider." Then again, other things he said were just downright ridiculous.
Gage removed the grappling hook from his temporal pocket. He tossed it up and it hooked on the windowsill. Gage gave the rope a few tugs to make sure it wouldn't drop on him and began climbing up. As he climbed, his scanners zoomed in on the top of the tower where a guard saw him.
"Ho, Joseph!" The guard called. Another guard stuck his head out.
"Shucker fool," the guard insulted. "'Tis all for naught, you shall not claim this tour!" They then started throwing boulders over the edge. Gage immediately let go of the grappling hook and jumped down to the edge. He embraced the wall as the boulders fell into the moat. When they stopped, he began climbing the wall again. Gage started to climb the wall again but the boulder tossing renewed. This time, Gage jumped from one side of the wall to another.
"Holy cow!" Arthur cried.
"What's wrong now?" Gage asked.
"I know what you said, what's wrong?"
"Seriously, Gage, cow!" Gage looked up to see the guards throw a living cow over the ledge. Gage jumped down to the ledge again and dashed to the side. The cow fell straight into the moat. Gage started climbing the wall a third time. The guards threw more boulders but Gage quickly dodged them. He finally reached the window and climbed in. He was in a fancy-looking bedroom.
"Quick, he's in the King's chambers!" He heard the guard call. Gage froze, he couldn't even panic. He heard the guard call out again.
"Cloak, cloak," Arthur hissed. Gage shook himself out of his trance and pulled up the Cloak Biochip. He activated it just as the guards walked in.
"He escaped us," the one called Joseph said looking around. "He must not pass further!" And with those words, they left. As soon as they were out of sight, Gage uncloaked.
"Phew, that was a close one," Gage said. He looked around the room. A warm fire in one corner lighted it; and candles were strewn about the room. A large cupboard was to the right of the door. The last decoration in the room was a large mural on the opposite wall depicting a castle being seized.
"For a king's crash pad, this isn't very luxurious. Where's all the loot?" Arthur asked.
Gage was more into the mural. Arthur provided some information on it. "Murals were often used to make a room look more cozy. They usually form pictures of historical moments or biblical scenes." Gage's hand suddenly went into the wall. He heard a click then the sound of gears turning. What did he do now?
Gage shrugged that off and continued looking around. When he tried to open the chest, it revealed that it was locked. When he went over to the cabinet, which Arthur identified as the armory, a little slot near the bottom of one of the doors opened. The outline of a key was on a purple cushion.
"Wait a minute," Gage said. He took the copper key he made out of his pocket and held it up to the imprint. The key fit perfectly into the cushion.
"Whatever the key was used for, it must've been really important to King Richard," Arthur observed.
Gage concluded that there was nothing really important or interesting to look at so he left the King's Chamber. Once in the hallway, he came to a staircase. He tried going up (to make sure the guards weren't there) and found the top hatch to be locked. He then went down a floor and into that hallway. He came to a single door. He held his breath, preparing for the worse, and turned the doorknob. The door opened and Gage walked in. He was in a room about the same size as the King's Chamber. A table was on one side with a fireplace and a door. An elegant throne with banners strewn along the top was on the other. A pair of windows was opposite him.
"This must be the study," Arthur noted. "When the King was here, it would be his throne room but when he wasn't, it would be used for receiving important guest and right now, I guess, planning defenses for the castle."
Gage went over to the table. There were two maps on it: one was clearly a map of the area around Chateau Gaillard, the other was of a cross-section of a tower. It showed the defenders dropping boulders on the attackers.
"These people need help bad," Gage commented. They had to resort to almost comical methods to defend themselves so of course they needed help.
"See those banners by the throne, Gage?" Arthur pointed out. "Those banners bear the coat of arms of King Richard. The garrison of Chateau Gaillard must've owed it to the memory of their late great king. They certainly weren't fond of his brother, King John 'The Softsword.' Especially since he never even visited the place."
Gage noticed a table over by the throne with two books on it. He picked up one of the books. The cover said (after translating it with the Translator Biochip) "Private Journal of Roger de Lascy, 1196-1202."
"Now we're getting somewhere," Arthur said. "These journals should tell us what's been happening in the castle recently."
Gage sat down on the throne and began to read the journals. According to the journals, King Richard put Roger de Lascy in charge of Chateau Gaillard while he went out on the Crusades. When King Richard died, it was unknown as to who would be in charge. It was concluded that it would be either Richard's brother, John, or his nephew, Arthur. In the end, it was John who assumed the throne. However, that proved to be a fatal mistake. John began giving land that was won by Richard back to Philip Augustus. The journal ended with Philip waging war against England.
The second journal began at 1202. There was no ending date, obviously because something happened to the Roger before the journal could be finished. The war against the Normans was not going well. Roger had sent a letter to King John asking him for relief. As hard as John tried, the relief effort failed. During his read of this journal, Gage noticed two entries: January 12th and March 6th. In the January 12th, Roger makes references to the blacksmith as the perpetrator behind several robberies at the castle. That must've been why the blacksmith had a key mold hidden under a brick, so Roger wouldn't suspect him.
As the entries went on, it became apparent that England would not win the war. John had Roger place everything of value hidden in a secret chamber. Gage took another look at the cross section of the tower. A room underneath the cellar was nameless. That must've been the secret chamber that Roger mentioned. In the March 6th entry, King John sent a letter to Roger asking that he hide the key to the secret chamber and to destroy the letter after he had done so.
Gage went around the room and stopped at the fireplace. There was a burnt piece of paper lying in it. The letter wasn't much help but Gage put it in his inventory anyway.
After taking some time out to look out the window at the dark sky, he went to the other door. This was the door to the inner keefe. Usually they would be placed in the hallway to make it less easy to get to. Gage opened it and immediately came face-to-back with a guard. Gage quickly slammed the door and let out a breath. Looks like that way was out. He left the throne room through the way he came in and decided to try to find that secret chamber. The map showed it to be below the cellar so he went down there.
Gage opened the door thinking there would be nobody there but he was wrong. Somebody was standing over a chest. It was a Jumpsuit exactly like Gage's. The figure turned around and saw Gage. The unknown time-traveler activated the Jump Biochip and jumped out.
"Gage, that's the one, that's the one who messed with my sculpture!" Arthur accused. The computer registered the evidence.
"Man, there's not that much supplies here," Gage commented. He went up to the chest that the other time-traveler was at and tried opening it. It was locked. "Hold on, I got it." Gage remembered that the journal said the blacksmith was the culprit behind a string of robberies. If he was stealing gold and other precious items, then it had to be from the secret treasury. He had a key to it and that was what the key mold in his shop was for.
Gage removed the copper key from his temporal pocket and placed it in the lock. The key turned perfectly and the chest swung open. Gage stared down a dark hole. He activated his Jumpsuit's external light and climbed down to the secret treasury. The room really wasn't that big. There was treasure all over the place. Gold, jewels, murals, portraits, all kinds of riches laid about. Gage opened a chest full of gold coins and took some. They were just what he needed for the wealth god at Chichen Itza.
"Better activate your Evidence Biochip," Arthur recommended. "We don't have time to go through everything. Gage complied with Arthur's recommendation. He scanned the room and the scanners targeted a sword case lying against the wall. He opened it up and removed the sword. A crystal on the handle shimmered intensely when Gage's external light shined on it. Gage almost had to turn away.
"There's no way that jewel was made by medieval hands," Arthur muttered. "It's reflecting light from your helmet in an almost perfect mathematical proportion. I don't know what it is but it definitely doesn't belong in that sword."
Gage had to admit that Arthur was right on that one. In fact, it kind of reminded Gage of the energy focusing crystal that's used in the Jumpsuit's power source. He researched the Jumpsuit technology just before he came to the Amarax station. He had one mission accomplished, but three more remained. Since he couldn't solve the Chichen Itza one just yet, he decided to go to DaVinci's workshop next.
The briefing said that history could record all of Leonardo DaVinci's life except for the period of time between 1482 and 1489. All that is known is that he was working for the Duke of Milan in his workshop. Leonardo was extremely secretive. Gage's mission was to find out why. Since he would be arriving in the middle of the night, the workshop should be empty. Gage set the coordinates and time jumped.
Place: The workshop and home of Leonardo DaVinci, Italy
Gage materialized in a small room. Towards the center was an empty shaft. Candles lit up the room perfectly.
"Wow," Arthur gasped. "Is this real? Are we really in Leonardo's workshop?"
"We sure are," Gage replied. "Maybe we better get our bearings first. Let's look outside." Gage tried opening the balcony door but he could only do that after he turned the key that was in the lock. As he stepped out into the starry night-filled balcony, he looked around. There was an outer wall that enclosed the main structure with two towers. He noticed a shadow in the other tower. He activated his scanners and zoomed in.
"Um… correct me if I'm wrong, Gage, but you can't be in two places at once, right? So if that's not you, there's another agent messing around in there."
"I don't get it," Gage said. "I thought the TSA weren't planning to send agents to repair the temporal ripples."
"From the news broadcasts I learned from scanning your Jumpsuit's Biochips they weren't," Arthur agreed.
"That can mean only one thing, there's a rogue TSA agent out there."
"Don't worry, Gage, this will be easy. All we have to do is get to that other tower. We might even catch him in the act." Gage went back inside. He stopped before he came to the pit.
"I hope that wasn't used to try out his parachute design," Gage commented. He turned left and walked to one end of the room. His alarm went off again signaling a temporal anachronism. Gage activated his Evidence Biochip, which centered on a footprint left in some red paint.
"Gage, you should really be more careful about leaving your mark on history," Arthur scolded. "There could be a temporal ripple right there."
"Arthur, that's not my footprint."
"Well if it isn't yours, then whose is it?" Gage walked to the other side of the room. There were two levers plus a wheel. Upon translating the inscription on the levers, he discovered that one lever locked and unlocked the elevator in place and the other enabled it to move up or down. Gage moved the lever to the word up and began turning the wheel. There was a sound of wheels on tracks, like a roller coaster, as an unusual platform with a horizontal turning handle in the center rotated up. When it got to the top floor, Gage got on and pushed the turning lever counter-clockwise so that the elevator rotated to the bottom again.
Gage exited into the cool night air. The landscaping was beautiful. Nicely cut lawn, bushes and hedges, stone paths leading from one place to another. He turned right and walked along one of the stone paths. At an intersection, he found a coil of rope, which he placed in his inventory. If push came to shove, he could always scale the tower just like the one at Chateau Gaillard. When he came to the other end, he saw he was standing right in front of the tower where he saw the ominous shadow. Gage went to open the door but it was shut and apparently from the inside since there was no lock.
"Maybe this won't be as easy as we thought, Arthur," Gage said. "How do we get up there?"
"The Duke of Milan must've asked Leonardo to build all kinds of inventions for seizing the fortresses of his enemies the same way the Normans used the grappling hook at Chateau Gaillard. What we need to do is find one of Leonardo's sketches and see if it can help us. And the best place to look is in Leonardo's workshop."
The workshop was at the center of the compound. Gage found a door across from the locked tower. The inside was still under construction so there were lots of catwalks and scaffoldings around. Gage saw some of Leonardo's inventions gathered at the center. A tank (which looked more like a large upside-down funnel that required four huge men to move), a hoist, a table saw, a drill press (Arthur commented that it sounded like DaVinci was working for Makita.), even an easel for painting.
In the side rooms, Gage found the necessary building material and blue prints for a Siege Cycle. Gage knew that the Siege Cycle was used for getting to the top of buildings but he didn't know how to use it. He completed the assembly by hammering in the wooden pegs with the hammer he took from the blacksmith shop at Chateau Gaillard. He then placed the Siege Cycle in his temporal pocket.
"Okay, so it's a Siege Cycle," Arthur said. "But how do we use it?"
"I'm not sure," Gage replied. "There has to be some sort of instruction diagram around here somewhere." Gage found a little path between DaVinci's inventions and cut across to the other side.
The other side of the workshop looked like a schoolhouse. There were desks lined up along one wall.
"Looks like school's in," Arthur said sarcastically. "Always helpful to have a few servants and apprentices lying around to boost your standing and do all the grunt work for you. Like most renaissance artists, Leonardo believed that designing and giving orders were gentlemen's job and actually carrying it out was meant for servants. That's why he rarely finished anything."
Gage picked up one of the documents on the desk. It showed a crossbow like invention with a rope attaching it to a building. An object was shown gliding up along the rope, an object that Gage recognized as the Siege Cycle.
"He didn't really want you to ride that thing naked, did he?" Arthur asked referring to the sketch of a naked figure on the Siege Cycle. "You could get something… caught in there… wait a minute, Gage, are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"Sure am." Gage looked around the back alcove. He spotted what looked like a door along the far wall. He pushed it open and came out into a courtyard. Prototypes for siege devices such as a glider that dropped boulders and a large mortar. When Gage touched the mortar, a cannonball shot out with a loud bang and sailed over the wall. Gage heard a cow cry out in pain. He hoped that didn't cause a temporal ripple.
Gage then saw a wall separating one part of the courtyard from another. There were small windows in the wall. Gage peeked through one of the small windows and saw a grappling hook launcher just like the one in the document on the desk inside the workshop. He ran around to the other side and stopped in his tracks. The launcher was pointing in the opposite direction, towards the outer wall. Arthur advised that he needed to turn the grappling hook one hundred eighty degrees around. Gage couldn't find a mechanism of any sort so he resulted to pushing the launcher around. Luckily, it swung around with ease. Gage hopped on to what Arthur commented as "a saddle." The launcher functioned like the guns on twentieth-century battleships. There were two cranks and a lever. The cranks were used to aim the grappling hook and the lever was for firing it. Gage lined up the crosshair with the tower. When he pulled the lever, two spears connected and with a rope attached shot out and stabbed the top of the tower. Gage attached the Siege Cycle to the rope and hopped on. He rode the siege cycle to the balcony of the tower. As soon as Gage jumped onto the balcony the Siege Cycle fell back down the rope to the ground, rather loudly.
"Let's just pray that whoever's in there didn't hear that," Gage said. With as much stealth as a guy in a huge Jumpsuit could muster, Gage snuck around the balcony to the door of the tower. When he tried opening the door, he found it to be locked. He took out the key he got from the other tower and used it to unlock the door.
Just as he was opening the door, he heard a crackle of electricity and the sound of something dropping.
"What was that noise?" Gage asked Arthur. When he received no reply, he looked around. The whole room, which looked exactly similar to the one where Gage arrived in, was empty of any person save Gage. "Shoot, we were too late. That sound must've been him jumping out when he saw me on the balcony."
"So this is Leonardo's private study," Arthur said. "I imagine hardly anybody seen this place." Gage's alarm went off. It detected another temporal anachronism. Gage activated his scanners and they zoomed in on an object lying on the floor. It was a specialized lens cap designed to filter out different forms of light. This one, according to Gage's Jumpsuit Database, was designed to filter klegmar radiation (only certain races in the Symbiotry could see klegmar radiation. Gage connected the lens cap to his Jumpsuit's camera lens. At first he saw nothing so he looked around.
When Gage opened a cabinet to his left, he almost jumped out of his skin. There, standing in jars was a perfectly preserved set of human heart, lungs, and liver. It was no wonder Leonardo was being so secretive. The church strictly forbade human dissection at the time; the scandal would've destroyed Leonardo's partnership with the Duke. The elevator at the center was a perfect way to protect the workshop from prying eyes. Something in Gage told him to take the heart, that he would need it later.
Gage spotted a set of books on a table. He took one of them and opened it. It was one of Leonardo's sketchbooks but he was unable to translate it with the Translator Biochip. Arthur identified it as the Codex Atlanticus, Leonardo's most famous journal. It contained some of his most revolutionary sketches but they were in code, nobody but Leonardo could read them.
However, it wasn't the sketches or writings that interested Gage, but the blue writing and graphs that covered it. At first, Gage thought that someone tampered with the Codex but when he removed the lens cap from his camera lens, the writing disappeared. The writing and graphs were in klegmar radiation. Not only that, but Gage recognized some of it. They were blueprints on the physics of time travel. Gage documented it in his Evidence Biochip.
"Gage, I want to find out why that time traveler was in the station," Arthur said.
"Sure, Arthur, but first I have to make a little detour." Gage jumped back to his future self's apartment.
Place: Eighth floor apartment, Ontario Province, Canada
"Nice look," Arthur commented when they appeared in Gage's living room. "Early terrarium." Gage went over to the replicator and bought another Cheese Girl. He then set the coordinates for the Amarax Station.
Place: Space Station Amarax, orbiting Saturn
Just like before, Gage materialized outside the station. Arthur gasped when he saw the battered shape his former home was in, but there was no time to assess the damage done to the station. Gage propelled himself the same way he did it the first time.
"Okay," Arthur said. "We need to get to the Biomass Processing Module. Since the passageway is destroyed, the only way we'll get to it is by going through the iceteroid." There was a door that led to the atmospheric mining cart to Gage's right but when Gage tried opening it, it was locked. Arthur figured that the door on the other side was still pressurized and sent an audio override into the computer. Something was ejected from the door and landed in Gage's hands. It was an explosive charge. That was how the rogue time traveler got to the mining cart.
The door opened and Gage went through into the cart. He activated the cart that automatically left the docking station and arrived at another door. Gage found himself looking out over Saturn's rings. He stepped onto a maintenance elevator. The elevator went up into the asteroid. On the way, Gage stopped to refill his oxygen supply.
The maintenance elevator opened to another cart but this one had a container that was made to carry water. Just the thing Gage needed to fill with water for his gift to the water god at Chichen Itza. Gage went back into the asteroid and used the water purge valve next to the oxygen filler. He placed the container in his inventory and went back up to the second mining cart.
The second mining cart took him to a small dark corridor. He pressurized it and found the entrance to the Biomass Processing Module.
Arthur commented that it was like a maternity ward. There was a womb in the center that contained the polymorphic gel used as Arthur's brain. The programming stations that circled the room were used to stimulate different pathways into the gel. In other words, different stimulation such as electricity caused the gel to respond differently. That was how the sculpture "Self-Awareness" was created. In reality, it wasn't Farnstein who created the sculpture, but rather Arthur.
"Whatever he changed is at Programming Station C," Arthur pointed out. Gage walked along the ramp to the station. A big glob of polymorphic gel was contained at the station. Arthur and Gage hypothesized that the criminal who framed Gage inserted a harmonic frequency into the list of pathways. When the frequency was played, the sculpture would have a response different from the one Arthur programmed it to have. The question is, what was the harmonic frequency used?
Gage found a device that simulated different harmonic frequencies. By turning a dial, he can change the frequencies and pressing a button sends them into the pathway.
"We need to find the right frequency," Arthur reminded him. Gage twisted the dial again. He finally found a frequency that stimulated a positive response: 11 kHz. Upon initiating the harmonic response, the sculpture morphed into a diagram of some sort. The Evidence Biochip recorded it. Gage was beginning to see a pattern. The altered historical artifacts were the same ones that were auctioned off at the Louvre. Whoever bought the sculpture, the sword, the Codex, and the puzzle box must have something to do with his future self's framing. Gage was finally ready to do a more thorough search of the cavern underneath Chichen Itza. Gage ignored Arthur's blabbering about how he was going to miss the station now that there's no reason to go to it. Gage just set the coordinates for Chichen Itza.
Year: 1050 a.d.
Place: Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
As soon as Gage was fully materialized, he set the calendar wheel and set the incense bowl onto the Choc Mool's lap. This time, he was ready for the fall. Gage managed to land on his feet. He activated his Jumpsuit's external light. When he came to the first intersection, he turned left and leaped from pillar to pillar up to the door to the Water God's level. He removed the container of water he got from the Amarax Space Station and poured the water into the receptacle. A stone slab lowered and the door rose revealing a passageway. The passageway wasn't far and it led to an unusual looking bridge. The bridge was divided into sections with bars on both sides, probably to prevent people from dropping off. On the other side to the right of the bridge was a doorway leading into the cliff.
When Gage walked across the bridge, he found that he came to a dead end. He was facing a stone wall. He looked around but couldn't find a staircase, ladder, or even footholds he could use. Gage was worried. Perhaps he missed something. Maybe the Mayan text on top of the door held some sort of clue.
Gage went back across the bridge. No sooner had he reached the passageway then he heard a creaking sound. He turned around to see the sections of the bridge started swinging left and right, each section in a different direction then the ones on either side of it. He finally got the gimmick. He was supposed to jump from section to section ending up at the other side. Gage caught the first section on the downswing and began to jump from section to section. While in the middle, he slipped and almost fell off the bridge but he held on for dear life. It took a while (almost five minutes) before he got to the other side.
Upon entering the passageway on the other side, he saw a table planted in the center. It was surrounded by water and a picture of the Water God, Tlaloc, was directly opposite.
"No blood," Gage concluded studying the table. "So it can't be for sacrifice. Maybe it was a prayer alters. In the center of the table was a limestone pyramid-shape block.
"That looks like it can be taken out," Arthur said excitedly. "We didn't come here just to look at pretty pictures." Gage took the limestone block and placed it in his inventory. He then went back (this time, it took him ten minutes just to jump the sections). When he came to the door, he saw no lever to open it. As he ran his hand along the door, it slid up. Gage figured that physical contact on the door resulted in opening it up.
When he was back in the cavern, he went across the path to the door to the War God level. When he placed the bloody arrow from Chateau Gaillard in the receptacle, the door opened. This revealed an ante room. Two stone dragon heads were to each side of the room. Another door was in front and a skeleton was on the floor. Gage heard a sawing sound coming from the other side. He pulled the dragon head on the left. The second door immediately opened up revealing a hallway with spears on both sides moving in and out. There was no way Gage could walk without being speared.
"Yikes!" Arthur gasped. "We better think this through or we'll be skewered like a… oh, you know. Man, I've got to get a hand on this simile thing." The dragon head slid back down closing the door. Gage pulled the right dragon head. The sawing sound suddenly wasn't so loud. Gage opened the door again and saw that half the spears were gone. The spears at the other end of the room were still moving.
Both dragon heads slid back down closing the door and restarting the spears. Gage needed something to jam the dragon heads long enough for him to get across. He looked down and saw the skeleton. That gave him an idea. He picked up the skull that was on the ground and jammed it in the mouth of the right dragon head, locking the spears. He then pulled open the left dragon head and dove through before it had time to close.
"Gage, I noticed that when you opened that left dragon head, it opened not only that door but the door at the other end of the hallway. Perhaps if you found another skull…"
"I understand, Arthur," Gage interrupted. He walked until he was standing before the second set of spears. To either side of him were two more dragon heads with a skull in the right one. Gage opened the left dragon head and jammed it with the skull that accidentally fell in his temporal pocket. The second set of spears retracted into the wall. Gage walked to the other end and took the skull that was stuck in the spear. He turned around and went back to the second set of dragon heads. He took the skull and stuck it in the other dragon head. The second set of spears started moving again but the door to the anteroom opened again. Gage returned to the anteroom and stuck the skull that he had in the other dragon head. He then went back to the second set of dragon heads and switched the skull there. He then entered the prayer room. He retrieved an obsidian block that resembled the limestone block he obtained from the water room.
Arthur had a theory that he told Gage. He said that the trials were for supplicants to the priesthood. If they passed the trials, meaning retrieved the blocks from the prayer rooms, and only then would they be allowed into the priesthood. If they couldn't pass them, then they would wander the caverns forever. That would explain some of the skeletons they found laying around.
Gage didn't know how long the skulls would hold up so he quickly made his way back to the anteroom. He was just in time too. The skulls must've been very old for they crumbled just as Gage crossed the threshold into the anteroom. He returned to the main cavern to catch his breath.
"Interesting," Arthur commented when he returned to the main cavern. "You put the offering in the receptacle and it's taken by someone or something to be judged for its worthiness. Now I don't believe in magic or the power of the gods, but it is possible that there are acolytes living in the alcoves in this very cavern. And all they do is take the offering and open the door if they're good enough."
"Good theory, Arthur."
"Something else, it just occurred to me that all of these gods are Toltec. They must've had a more influential hold over the Mayans then we thought. That gives strong proof to the theory that they were conquerors and not just settlers."
Gage took a deep breath and proceeded to the door to the Wealth God level. He inserted the coins he also retrieved from Chateau Gaillard.
Just like the Water God trial, this one started out with a short passageway. Gage came out to a large cavern connected by a rope bridge. On the other side was a room filled with gold and two skeletons.
There was an inscription above the door that said that the followers of the God of Wealth must turn their backs to worldly possessions and lower their heads in humility. Gage translated it just before he entered the room. He knew that it was meant figuratively but… could it also have been literal. Well gold was considered worldly possession so if he turned around and looked down.
Gage crossed the rope bridge but stopped just before he came to the gold room (Arthur commented that it looked like something Wayne Newton would wear around his neck). He looked down and saw a tunnel right under the tunnel he came in from. Gage crossed the rope bridge again and used the rope he got at Leonardo's workshop. He tied one end on a brass ring that was sticking out of the ground and lowered the other end down. Carefully, he slid down to the lower tunnel.
The whole wall of the alter room was covered in jade, a beautiful green metal, the same metal that was on the pyramid-shaped object on the table. Gage took the object and climbed back up. Gage finally had everything he needed. The three blocks he got from passing the trials were meant to fit n the special receptacle at the final door. Gage left the Wealth God's level and proceeded to the final door, the one where he found his first piece of evidence, the artificial glass. He inserted all three blocks into the receptacle so that they formed an upside-down pyramid. As the door opened, Gage held his breath, ready for anything.
The room was much bigger than any of the other alters rooms that Gage encountered. The whole floor was lined with sharp stalagmites. The center alter had pillars around it and a huge sacrifice alter in the middle. The only way to get across to the center alter was a small bridge made of an obsidian blade. Gage carefully walked across the bridge and up to the sacrifice alter. There were two small basins on the sacrifice alter. One was water, the other was blood. His alarm went off. The scanners showed that the blood in the basin wasn't real blood, it was synthesized, artificial.
"Okay, now what do I do? Arthur, what can you tell me about this?" Arthur told Gage that when a supplicant was ready to pass the final ceremony, a sacrifice victim would be laid out on a alter and the supplicant was forced to cut him open and give his heart as a sacrifice to Miklantepoka, the God of Death. Luckily, Gage didn't have to do that. He already had a heart ready, the one he got from Leonardo's study.
Gage dropped the preserved heart into the basin of blood. As if by magic, a box floated up onto the alter. It was the Mayan Ceremonial Coffer, the one that was auctioned off at the Louvre. It was a long circular-shaped container with four markings on it. When Gage clicked one of the markings, it became a new one.
"Careful," Arthur cautioned. "In my time, the only people that tried to open it were found dead, poisoned." There had to have been a specific choice of markings that opened it up, but what were they? There must've been a clue somewhere, above the other doors? Or maybe it was back up on the grave pyramid, but Gage didn't want to reset his jump not after he did all this just to get here.
Gage then remembered a sentence on the inside wall of the top of the pyramid. "The holy vessel contains the breath of Itzamna." Well if the puzzle box was considered holy to the Mayans, then maybe the words that it was suppose to spell out were 'the breath of Itzamna." Gage activated his Translator Biochip and moved the hieroglyphs to they spelled out 'the breath of Itzamna.'" When he got it, he tried turning the top open. The top came open perfectly.
Gage looked inside and saw an Environ Cartridge. Unlike the sword, the Codex, and the sculpture, this wasn't part of the artifact so it must have a different purpose. Gage inserted the Environ Cartridge into his temporal pocket and used his Evidence Biochip to record the fact that it was in there.
"All right, Gage," Arthur cheered. "We did it, we figured out what's been changed! Now let's return to your apartment and try to solve this mystery." Gage nodded and jumped back to the future.
Place: Eighth floor apartment, Ontario Province, Canada.
"Gage, I have only one word to say to you: curtains," Arthur commented. Gage went down into the living room and sat on one of the chairs. He had all the evidence he needed to prove his future self's innocence but he still needed to find out who the real culprit was. An idea came to him, if he combined the footprint he recorded at Chateau Gaillard with the one he found at Leonardo's workshop, then he could get the registration number of the culprit.
The number on the footprint at Chateau Gaillard was 3353 and the number on the footprint at the workshop was 39227. Together, they make 3353-39227. Gage pulled up the Files Biochip and began searching.
"Well it's not anyone in the Temporal Protectorate," Gage decided after searching through the files. "I'm going to try the Deep Time Unit." There were four agents in the DTU: 3, 5, 8, and 9. Gage knew it couldn't have been himself or his future self so that just left Agents 3, 8, and 9.
When Gage finally found a match, he hit himself for not knowing it earlier. "Oh no, this isn't good."
"Gage, what's wrong?" Arthur asked.
"I know who the culprit is."
"Isn't that supposed to be a good thing?"
"Come on," Gage said ignoring Arthur's second question. "Let's play the Environ Cartridge." Gage went over to the Environ System and inserted the cartridge. On the 4-D screen was an image of Michelle Visard, Agent 3.
The cartridge began playing. "Okay, this cartridge is the final piece you need to build a time machine. You should also have the Da Vinci Codex which contains various formulas, the sculpture which morphs into a schematic diagram, and the medieval sword which holds the energy focusing element.
"This cartridge contains all existing notes, plans, and diagrams on the construction of the neutrino matrix accelerator, the time machine's power source. You'll be able to recreate the accelerator from these notes. By using the formula schematics and focusing element to control the accelerator and harness its power, you will be able to turn it into a functioning time machine. The information on this cartridge is arranged in chronological order starting with the building of the accelerator's framework and following the…" Suddenly the real Agent 3 appeared right in front of Gage.
"Sorry to interrupt, Gage, but I need that back," she said. Before Gage could do anything, she zapped Gage and he blacked out.
Place: Unknown Location
Consciousness finally came to Gage. He slowly opened his eyes and moaned. He was in some sort of small room. He heard water dripping with led him to believe that he was in a basement, or some sort of underground facility. Agent 3 was standing over by a workshop, still in her Jumpsuit.
"I think it's time to get out of here. Pull up Jump Biochip." Nothing happened. "Pull up Cloak Biochip." Still nothing happened. None of his Biochips worked. He couldn't even move his arms.
Michelle finally noticed him and walked over. "Oh good, you're awake. Don't bother trying to move, your suit's disabled. I hooked you up to the Jumpsuit's Maintenance Frame."
"Damn," Gage cursed. He hoped Arthur was all right or did Michelle erase him?
"Well, it took me a while," she began. "But I finally figured out how you did it. I remembered that Agent 8 said that when you broke house arrest, he found you back in your old apartment without your Jumpsuit. So that was the Gage that I know and he jumped back to the past to get your help… because he knew he was being watched." She shook her head at him. "You certainly are a resourceful one; I didn't even know that something like that was possible. Just when I thought I had you under control, you go and do something like this on me." She walked over to her control station. "While you were unconscious, I looked at your Evidence Biochip. That's some pretty incriminating stuff. Looks like I've got no choice, I'm going to have to erase it and… mind wipe you. Well, at least you won't remember how painful it was. In fact, when you wake up back in your apartment in the year 2319, you won't remember that any of this has happened… or will happen… or… well, first I have to send back the Environ Cartridge you stole from me."
Michelle stood by a transporter machine. Gage watched as the Environ Cartridge disappeared. "Well, despite your best effort, humans are no longer the only beings capable of time travel."
"What? How could you?"
"It's for the better, Gage, believe me. We can't… we just can't be trusted with such a powerful tool. It would eventually drive us to use it for the wrong reasons. And if we're not the only ones with it, maybe we won't be as tempted to misuse it. My contact says that it'll be given to every race of the Symbiotry who wants it." And with those words she walked to another part of the room where Gage couldn't see her.
"Arthur, can you hear me?" Gage quietly asked.
"Uh-oh, Gage, this doesn't look good."
"The Jump Biochip controls are locked out and she's got you completely immobilized."
"Arthur, what happened?"
"Isn't it obvious? While you were taking a commercial break, she hooked us up to this thing. She's been downloading stuff from your Biochips ever since. She hasn't discovered me yet but it's just a matter of time. I've been trying to sneak a peak down her data stream but I'm afraid that I'll stand out like a… rat in a garden hose (hey, that was pretty good). Anyway, I'll keep trying.
"You probably think that I'm ill, that I'm insane."
"The thought crossed my mind," Gage said harshly.
"I don't blame you; nobody from our generation has seen how aggressive we can be. Or the generation before us for that matter or the generation before that, but all three of my historical research missions involves studying war." Michelle went on to tell Gage of her expeditions to the Nazi Death Camps, to Hiroshima where the A-bomb was dropped, to the Massacre of the twenty-first century and others.
"But that's what happens when he feel a need to bear our teeth, its human nature. And it's not something that just a couple of hundred years can change." She gestured to the room around her. "Do you know what this place is?"
"A really grungy basement," Gage guessed.
"It's a missile silo. Well… it used to be one. A few centuries ago, there were tens of thousands of these, each containing a nuclear missile powerful enough to obliterate an entire sector. That's enough to destroy the world fifty times over! Yet just three centuries later, we claim that we evolved into a peaceful race of beings. How can we be that naïve?" Again, she walked out of Gage's visual range. After a moment, she returned.
"You probably figured out that I was the one who rigged the security grid. I had to be able to get the things I needed fro the Pegasus Warehouse without being seen. But when you started asking around like a snake in the grid… well the future you that is, I had to change my plans. So instead of just sending the information to my contact, I came up with the idea of hiding the in historical artifacts. Artifacts from your research dates that were also sold off at the Louvre Art Auction. That way, all I had to do was tell my contact which items to buy and the connection would be impossible to trace. And if anyone started digging around because of what they saw…" She stared right at him. "They would discover the ripples and come straight back to you. I even found some valuable trinkets to stash in your locker. Yet, just that one move will give you a motive and cause you to do this. But… I didn't realize that that anyone would actually discover the ripples." Suddenly her voice lost the harsh tone. She almost seemed sincere. "I mean… how often do we do manual scans? Somebody must've been bored out of their minds that day! I'm sorry. If I could be the one that was arrested, if I could take the blame, I would in a second. Believe me, I had no choice. I don't want to do this but if I don't, it will all be for nothing. If they found out how the stolen technology was spread, they'll be able to keep it from ever being spread again. But that's the problem with time travel, nothing's ever safe. That's why I had to do this. I had to even the playing field. I'm sorry if I'm making you an unwilling martyr to my cause but that's the way it has to be. Please understand."
"I do," Gage replied softly.
Michelle shook her head as if clearing her mind. "Why am I even bothering to tell you this, you won't even remember a thing." She returned to her control panel.
There was a beep and Arthur let out a cry of excitement. "Ha-ha! I'm there! It's all hooked up, everything! It's all controlled through the neural link in her Jumpsuit. I can create a virus and shut the whole thing down. I just need to get into… oh no, there's a password. Gage, I need a password. I managed to free up the Files Biochip. See what you can find about her. Hurry up, Gage, I need that password or else we have instant Alzheimer's."
"Okay… um…" Gage looked through her file. "Arthur, try 'TSA.'"
"Nope, that's not it."
"How about 'war?'"
"No, that's not it either."
"Try her name."
"Nope, it's not that one either."
Gage mentally cursed. He couldn't believe that all he did up until now would be for nothing. He recalled her voice message earlier. It was hard to believe that the woman on the screen and the madwoman standing before him were one and the same. The only time when she was harsh at all was when she talked about… that was it!
"Arthur, try 'gravball.'"
"It works! Ha-ha, I'm in! Only, there's one problem, Gage."
"You're going to have to do the rest without me."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm the virus. Thanks for the adventure; I'll see you on the other side."
The Arthur Biochip disappeared from the Interface. Violent purple energy began dancing across the room. Michelle was baffled to say the least."
"What, what's going on?" She asked. She then turned to Gage. "What did you do? WHAT DID YOU DO?" The energy transferred into her Jumpsuit and she was engulfed in a purple temporal vortex. The whole silo was plunged into darkness. The only light came from the emergency lights that came from random places on the wall. Gage felt the bonds that held him loosen. He crouched on one knee.
"Damn you… damn you, Doctor Farnstein," Gage cursed. "Why did you have to make him so… human?" A new Biochip appeared in the Interface. It was blank.
Gage couldn't mourn just yet. First thing he had to do was restore power to the silo. He searched around until he found a spare generator core. He ejected the burnt-out core in the power generator and installed the new one.
The main lights immediately came on again. The view screens at the control station showed nothing but static, their entire hard drive was corrupted by Arthur's virus. Gage lost his train of thought and wandered into a sleeping quarters. There was a bed next to the wall. On the wall were pictures of Michelle as a little girl. Gage also saw the same picture of the old Temporal Protectorate team mounted on the wall. The only difference between her picture and his was that the picture had been cropped so that only their faces (and the top of Lisa's head) were showing.
Gage knew there was no time to mourn. Michelle said she gave the information to a contact, but who was the contact?
Gage decided to check INN to see if anybody else besides Michelle knew what his future self did.
There wasn't, but there was an update on the time travel discussions. The Krynn ambassador Icarus was outraged that the talks were going nowhere. He repeatedly tried to get the other envoys to join with him in choosing the destruction of time travel technology. It occurred to Gage that the Krynn were acting unusual even for the Krynn. Gage called up his Files Biochip and research information on the Krynn. He discovered that the Krynn see vie klegmar radiation, the same type of radiation filtered by the lens cap Michelle left at the Da Vinci workshop. They also hear on a frequency of 11 kHz, the same frequency that made the sculpture at the Amarax Space Station morph into the diagram. That was it! The Krynn was Michelle's contact and they wanted the technology all to themselves; that was why they were so active towards the destruction of it. Gage had to use the transporter to retrieve the evidence she sent to them and put a stop to this once and for all.
There was just one problem: the transporter required an activation code. He tried searching the computer database but he remembered that it had been corrupted by Arthur's virus. But the replicator seemed to still be online. It had a separate database. He found programs for a heart, a skeleton key, an upside down pyramid (made of glass) and a transporter activation code. Gage was able to memorize it just before the file became corrupted. He programmed the activation code into the transporter. He followed through by typing in the code that would access the Krynn transporter. He donned the klegmar radiation lens cap and stepped into the transporter. He disappeared in a flash of light.
Place: Krynn starship, orbiting Earth.
Gage materialized in a fully liquefied chamber. All the walls seemed to be made of a purple organic material. He was in the Krynn's transporter room. He memorized that the middle transporter was designed to transport both organic matter (himself) and inorganic matter (the Jumpsuit) so that was the one he needed to use to get out of here after he retrieved the artifacts.
Gage left the transporter chamber. He placed his hand on the wall and pushed himself to an intersection. There were two ways to go: one led to a dead end. When Gage turned to the other one, an organic wall slid open to reveal another hallway and two Krynn guards (that were at the other end and approaching according to Gage's scanners). Gage quickly activated his Cloak Biochip and let the guards pass right by him. Once they were gone, Gage deactivated the cloak and touched a cable. He was shot like a dart to another intersection.
Touching the cable again took Gage to a storage chamber. Several egg-shaped pods were at the center of the room, each pod covered by an organic membrane. Gage walked up to one of the pods and pealed off the membrane. There in perfect suspended animation was King Richard's sword. Gage tried prying the membrane open with his hands but that didn't work, so he decided to blow it open. By placing the explosive charge he got from the Amarax Space Station on it, he blew the pod open allowing him to access its contents.
Gage took the sword and went to the next pod. Peeling the outer membrane revealed that inside was Doctor Farnstein's sculpture. Since Gage didn't have any more explosives, he took the sword and sliced the membrane open. After all, it was organic.
Transporter chimes interrupted his work. He paused thinking that the Krynn discovered him but it became clear that they didn't so he continued.
Gage went around and retrieved Leonardo's Codex, the Mayan Puzzle Box and the Environ Cartridge. He placed them all in his temporal pocket. He had what he came for, now it was time to leave post-haste.
Gage left the storage chamber and returned to the second intersection. The organic door opened and Gage's scanners locked onto the same two guards that passed by him earlier. They saw him and began swimming towards him. There was no time to cloak. He took out King Richard's sword and sliced the transport cable. Now the Krynn would be stuck in that hallway until help arrived. Gage turned left and returned to the transporter room.
"This is almost too easy," Gage said to himself.
Suddenly, it got a whole lot harder as a Krynn materialized through the middle transporter.
"Who are you? Why are you here?" The Krynn demanded to know. He saw Gage's Jumpsuit and realized who he was. The Krynn activated a security robot that grabbed Gage by both arms. Gage was captured again. He realized that this was no ordinary Krynn; he was Icarus, the Krynn ambassador.
"So, did you find what you came for?" Gage nodded. "Somehow, I suspect you have. We have also found what we have searched for. You can't imagine the secrets you carry within that suit means to my race. A means to correct the handicap that has plagued us since our 'patrons' lifted us out of the waters many centuries ago."
Ambassador Icarus went on to explain how he has paved the way for the Krynn to replace humanity as a vital member of the Symbiotry. For fifteen generations, the Krynn had been trying to catch up to the evolutionary development level that the other Symbiotry members are currently at. The security robot took Gage and placed him in the right transporter. Gage didn't know where it went but he was sure it wasn't good for him.
"We can learn much from the Jumpsuit you're wearing. Transporting it off of you will leave you without protection from our environment. It shames me that you will die."
Gage had to think fast. Apparently the transporter's force field barrier was designed to separate organic matter, so if he took something inorganic and tossed it out, it might disrupt the sequence, but what to throw? He couldn't risk any of the artifacts he obtained.
Suddenly Gage recalled the burnt out generator core. He placed it in his temporal pocket after he installed the new one. It should work. He took the core out and threw it with all his might. It smashed through the force field and pushed Icarus into another transporter, a transporter that was supposed to transport inorganic matter. Gage dashed forward and pushed the transporting button. The metal prosthetics that he wore were transported off of Icarus.
"Not so tough without your arms, are you?" Gage asked with a defiant manner. Icarus broke out of the transporter and swam away.
Gage had to get out of there before Icarus came back with reinforcements. Gage got into the middle transporter and transported back to Agent 3's silo.
Place: United Ministry Complex, Caldoria
Defense Attorney Sandra Gallagher has received some pretty extraordinary cases in her ten years in practice, but the case of Gage Blackwood definitely took the cake. An unknown person deposited two Biochips on her desk the day before. She showed it to the Judge and the jury. The judge gave the jury ten hours to debate. They were ready after four.
"Has the jury reached a verdict?" The Judge asked.
"We have, your honor. We, the jury, find the defendant, Gage Blackwood, innocent of all charges." The court room exploded in cheers and ovations. Gage smiled not only because he was found innocent, but that his past self pulled through.
Place: Eighth Floor Apartment, Ontario Province, Canada
Gage sat at the bar like table drinking a cup of coffee. He managed to remove the Jumpsuit even though he was getting used to it. He heard a transporter chime and knew that it was his future self returning.
"I have to say that even I'm impressed," future Gage said. "I've been clear of any wrongdoing and the Krynn have been expelled from the Symbiotry."
"What about… locating Agent 3?"
"We're still searching. The TSA is doing non-stop historical scans looking for signs of a temporal displacement from her Jumpsuit, but it's grim."
"Now there's only one more thing to take care of." Gage looked at his future self with confusion. "Look, you can't stay here, but sending you back to the past with knowledge of the future will cause a temporal displacement wave. Sorry, but…" Future Gage aimed a little cylinder at the other Gage's head. At the press of a button, electricity jolted through Gage's head. The last thing he heard before he blacked out was the words "mind wipe initiated."
Place: Caldoria Heights Apartments, Caldoria
"Good morning, Caldoria!" The radio burst out. "Let's get this music day started with that number one hit by teen sensation Yuna Heidegger…" Gage Blackwood moaned and slammed the snooze button. He turned over and looked at the clock. He realized that it was his favorite day of all: his day off. No pressures of safeguarding history, no rumble with xenophobic scientists, no silly interfaces nailed into his head, just peace and relaxation. Gage wanted to do a lot today so he thought he better get started. He pealed himself out of bed and went over to the replicator. Groggy, he typed in the code for bacon, eggs, toast, and coffee. As the plate of food appeared, he quietly flipped on the holo-screen by remote.
As soon as Gage was done with breakfast, he got dressed and shaved. As he was looking in the mirror and getting ready to go out to his favorite place on Caldoria, the Environ-Cartridge store, he realized that something was wrong. He dashed back into his room and found his Global Transport Card.
"Can't leave without this," he said. And without a care in the world, Gage left his apartment and headed for the elevator.
This novel based story was written by Stephen Frey. The Journeyman Project and all related people/places/events is property of Presto Studios and Red Orb Productions.