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Saturday, March 15th, 2018, 3:20 pm
As time went on, the Time-Keepers became accustomed to their new lives. Jared and Michelle had another baby, this time a girl. They named her Deirdre. Deirdre was the first baby born in the colony. Everything went well, and she was delivered in a healthy condition during the early morning hours of February 3rd, 2018. Zoe did most of the work, but Keith helped with the delivery. Carmen and Sarah took turns watching Spencer while Michelle was in labor. This time Michelle did not mind Carmen being around as much as she had during Spencer’s birth.
Deirdre had blue eyes like her father and started to grow red hair like her mother. She was six pounds and seventeen inches long when she was born. Spencer, for the most part, got along with his sister. Sometimes he would ‘accidentally’ hurt her, but usually they got along and sometimes he even played with Deirdre.
Carmen and Jared got the temperature changes made to the builders for food. They also built a pressure system that keyed off the lung. If the air pressure went too high, air would be converted to gold. They were going to use lead, but decided it was too dangerous or poisonous. When the air pressure was too low, the builders would turn the gold into air. If they ran out of gold, they used rock in the harvesting section. Samuel kept his precious waste recycling system running without the help of builders. As far as Samuel was concerned, it worked and that was all that mattered. As much as Carmen and Jared tried, they could not get the re-sizing to work.
Not to be outdone by the older generation, Mike and Kara announced they were having a baby in January. Besides working toward a child, Mike and Kara found work in the colony to keep them busy. Mike worked with Oliver, learning the black art of hacking. Kara spent her time watching the world change. She became the first full-time person to do the job that would later be called, a watcher.
In many ways, Kara liked to watch the world. It reminded her of a time of hope, a time of freedom, and a time with a future. This often caused her to be depressed, but she kept her depression from everybody but Mike, or at least so she thought.
She rarely watched alone. Usually members of the older generation would be there in their free time. All of the elder adults liked to spend time watching. It made them feel like their dream was ready to be fulfilled, if only they could find a mission worthy and worth the risk. Jared spent the least time watching because he felt it was unlikely a mission would be found this early that could be done. They could not travel back past when the colony was sealed, so there was too limited a window to travel back through.
Not much had changed in the time they had been inside the colony. Europe was heading to what many expected would be a government unification. Africa was finally catching up with the rest of the world. South America stayed about the same. Australia was right in step with Europe. More people started living in Antarctica. Travel too and from Antarctica had become safer. People were even traveling to and from Antarctica during the winter.
Russia had adapted well through the years and was in many ways as much a global leader as the smaller European nations. The Middle East was still a constant torrent of warfare. Israelis and Palestinians continued their violent conflicts. Iraq was actually one of the more stable countries because the US was so determined to keep it as their final hold on the world. Iran was at war with Afghanistan.
Asia, with the exception of China, had proven itself as a technological leader. China was still run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Their military had steadily grown to an estimated two hundred million. It was unclear whether there were plans to use the military, but many speculated it was only a matter of time until they attacked and started what many expected to be another world war. Most expected that Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam, and possibly Japan would be their targets. Even India was possible because of the buildup of military on both sides of the Tibetan border.
The watching room was located in the command center. Originally it was going to be part of the study, but in the end Oliver had convinced Samuel to place it in the command center. It would allow quicker access to the hardware connecting to the outside world if something happened. The command center was also a good choice because it allowed access to the system controlling the door to the time machine bay and had the video monitoring.
The watching room was fairly dark, with several isolated computer stations. Each station had a pink office chair. Samuel had trouble seeing certain colors, so when he bought the chair that was copied with builders he thought it was red. Watching had been nicknamed ‘Sitting in the Pink Seat’ by some of the Time-Keepers.
The computers at each station had speakers and headphones. Most of the watching was done through the internet. They did, however, have access to radio and television signals, which were still widely used in Switzerland even though many European countries only used satellite systems to broadcast radio and television. The internet connection came from satellites that Oliver hacked. Six different companies had satellites in range of the tower. Oliver’s software switched between them to help prevent discovery. During his initial tests, he found that all but one of the satellite companies were already being hacked by far less complex software. He hoped that meant they would have luck with those satellites for years. He also had the software avoid the satellites owned by the unhacked company in case there was a good reason they were not hacked.
Besides the wireless transmissions, there were also several wireless cameras throughout the tower and surrounding area. Like the heat sensors, which were still operational, the cameras were solar powered. The camera and solar panels were so tiny that a person could miss it looking from as little as a foot away.
Kara had been the first to catch the news of the invasion. She found the information on a Russian news site, WPS. After reading the article, she had the impression it was only a border dispute and that China was simply seizing some land on their shared border. Later, reading the BBC news, she realized that it might be a full-scale invasion.
There was no formal way to inform the others of an event like the invasion, so Kara simply went in search of her father. At this point, Kara was only three months pregnant so she literally ran around to find him. She passed the clinic and Zoe, who was with Kara’s brother, said, “Slow down, you’re pregnant.”
Kara was going so fast that she only heard Zoe say slow down. Kara quickly gave up on the command center to find Aaron. She was so panic-stricken she did not even think to use the cameras to find him.
The next place she looked was her parent’s house. Nobody was there so she went to the lung. Samuel had been having trouble with the disc, so Aaron and Sarah had been spending time there. The disc was getting stuck at the midpoint. They were still unsure why it got stuck. They expected the wall had some imperfection causing the problem. There was no easy way to inspect the place it got stuck, and it was fairly dangerous because when the disc finally slipped free, if it went up, it went up in a quick burst.
When Kara arrived, she was winded. Kara was slim but not because she exercised. It seemed unlikely that Kara would lose much of the weight she would gain during the pregnancy.
Samuel, Aaron and Sarah were all at the edge looking down at the disc, which was now 75% of the way to the top. All of them had their backs to the entrance, but they all turned as they heard Kara’s sneakers.
Aaron said, “What’s the matter? Are you feeling OK?” Aaron seemed worried it was her pregnancy that had got her to find them. Kara tried to talk, but she could only let out little bits between her panting. Kara could taste blood in her throat from her rapid breathing.
Kara finally got out, “Russia – attack – Russia!”
Samuel said, “You want to attack Russia?”
Sarah said, “Relax, Honey, breathe!”
“Russia was attacked by China!”
Aaron looked relieved, “That’s it. You’re fine, though, right?”
“Yes, but Russia. We have to do something!”
Samuel said, “Well, what can we do? We can’t go back far enough to stop them. We would have to go back far enough to stop the communists from taking over.”
Aaron agreed, “Listen, Honey, he’s right. You’ve heard Jared. We need more time. Besides, they won’t get far. History has shown that Russia is too vast . . . and cold to take.”
Kara got down on her knees, which were covered by her jeans, and started to cry. Sarah went to her. “Honey, what’s wrong?”
“Why are we down here? We’re supposed to be helping. I’ve . . . we’ve given up our lives for something we aren’t even doing. I didn’t want to come here, this place is so, so awful. Please, we have to do something.”
Aaron sat down beside her. “Honey, this is a long term project. Just because something happened doesn’t mean we are going to do something about it, especially so quickly. If China succeeds, we’ll watch and we’ll wait. That’s what we need to do, watch and wait. We can’t do anything until we’re prepared. We’re like bullets: once we’re set on something we can’t turn back. If we’re not aimed correctly we’ll have been wasted.”
Kara let out everything, all her emotions for the last few years that had built up, all the sadness, frustration, bitterness and anger. “We need to act. You know China; you know what they’ll do. This is just the beginning! They’ll overwhelm Russia. We can stop them if we just go back and stop them at the source. Take away their leadership. I don’t want my life to be a waste. We can’t miss this. We have to act. Don’t you see? Has age blinded you?”
Aaron said, “Stopping their top leaders won’t stop them. They’ve been on this course since before I was born. We can’t go back far enough to stop them. It’s too late.”
“Then we’re taking the wrong approach! Forget about stopping it at the source. Let’s be proactive. Let’s prepare Russia and the world!”
Sarah said, “How? Russia would laugh at us if we said they were going to be attacked. They have no reason to believe us, and we can’t let them know we can travel through time! If they knew, the whole world would know. They would hate us, find us and crucify us. Once they found us, they would do their own time changing. We can’t let that happen!”
“Then we prove it to them some other way. We make them listen. We steal proof and give it to them. We have to do something.”
Aaron said, “We will do something. We’ll watch and we’ll wait.”
Kara got up and screamed at him, “DAMN YOUR WATCH AND WAIT. YOU’RE COWARDS, YOUR MAKING US ALL LIVE THE LIVES OF COWARDS. WE HAVE TO ACT! ACTION IS THE ONLY THING THE WORLD WILL HEAR!”
Aaron got up, “Honey, you have to listen. Even if we act, we need to plan. It’s too early and we have too little to go on.”
“SCREW YOU,” she screamed and left as quickly as she had come.
Aaron went to follow her, but Sarah grabbed his arm. “Let her cool off. You’re only going to make things worse if you follow her.”
Aaron sighed, accepting his wife’s advice.
Even with Mike’s support, Kara lost. The colony would not act until there was a plan and until China proved to be a global problem.
As weeks passed, they watched. Everybody was watching as often as possible, especially Mike and Kara. Mike used some of the skills he had learned from Oliver to break into Russian and Chinese computer networks to take any information that might help.
The Chinese invasion was swift. In five weeks, the army reached Moscow and forced Russia to surrender. While it was difficult to get accurate reports of what happened, it seemed that the Russians were taken by surprise and completely outnumbered. What had seemed impossible for Napoleon and Hitler proved to be trivial for China due to their size. Even Germany’s invasion of France, which was far smaller than Russia, had taken a week more than the Chinese invasion of Russia.
Technically, the Chinese reached Moscow in a little over four weeks but the Russians delayed surrender for as long as possible. Finally, the Russians signed an armistice allowing the Chinese unconditional military rule over Russia.
Once Russia was enveloped by China, the world started to fear the worst. All of Europe and Asia felt they were at risk. Without India, none of the other countries combined would have a force comparable to China. India had no interest in getting involved. If China had attacked India, it was very likely China would have won, but now India felt they were safe from China because the Chinese forces had to cover Russia and China. India briefly considered trying to make a non-aggression pact with China, but finally decided it would be a waste of time and that China was no longer a threat.
Some historians actually predicted that India would be China’s Russia, meaning China would become sloppy just as Hitler’s Germany and Napoleon’s France had been sloppy by attacking Russia. Japan formed a blockade, but it was of little use. Submarines could easily bypass blockades, but even trade ships got past. The US became China’s largest trading partner. China’s coast was so vast that the Japanese were barely able to stop twenty percent of the ships in either direction. Besides ships, China used low orbit flights to quickly and cheaply trade goods with the US.
The French and English navies were able to stop the Chinese from using Western Russian ports for shipping. Their victory was an insignificant accomplishment, though. China was ready to be cut off and prepared for far worse than the world was willing to do.
Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford