TW05 The Nautilus Sanction NEW

BOOK: TW05 The Nautilus Sanction NEW
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THE NAUTILUS SANCTION

Time Wars: Book Five

by Simon Hawke

A CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY OF THE TIME WARS

April 1, 2425:
Dr. Wolfgang Mensinger invents the chronoplate at the age of 115, discovering time travel. Later he would construct a small scale working prototype for use in laboratory experiments specially designed to avoid any possible creation of a temporal paradox. He is hailed as the “Father of Temporal Physics.”

July 14, 2430:
Mensinger publishes “There Is No Future,” in which he redefines relativity, proving that there is no such thing as
the
future, but an infinite number of potential future scenarios which are absolute relative only to their present. He also announces the discovery of “non-specific time” or temporal limbo, later known as “the dead zone.”

October 21, 2440:
Wolfgang Mensinger dies. His son, Albrecht, perfects the chronoplate and carries on the work, but loses control of the discovery to political interests.

June 15, 2460:
Formation of the international Committee for Temporal Intelligence, with Albrecht Mensinger as director. Specially trained and conditioned “agents” of the committee begin to travel back through time in order to conduct research and field test the chronoplate apparatus. Many become lost in transition, trapped in the limbo of nonspecific time known as “the dead zone.” Those who return from successful temporal voyages often bring back startling information necessitating the revision of historical records.

March 22, 2461: The Consorti Affair—
Cardinal Lodovico Consorti is excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church for proposing that agents travel back through time to obtain empirical evidence that Christ arose following His crucifixion. The Consorti Affair sparks extensive international negotiations amidst a volatile climate of public opinion concerning the proper uses for the new technology. Temporal excursions are severely curtailed. Concurrently, espionage operatives of several nations infiltrate the Committee for Temporal Intelligence.

May 1, 2461:
Dr. Albrecht Mensinger appears before a special international conference in Geneva, composed of political leaders and members of the scientific community. He attempts to alleviate fears about the possible misuses of time travel. He further refuses to cooperate with any attempts at militarizing his father’s discovery.

February 3, 2485:
The research facilities of the Committee for Temporal Intelligence are seized by troops of the TransAtlantic Treaty Organization.

January 25, 2492:
The Council of Nations meets in Buenos Aires, capital of the United Socialist States of South America, to discuss increasing international tensions and economic instability. A proposal for “an end to war in our time” is put forth by the chairman of the Nippon Conglomerate Empire. Dr.

Albrecht Mensinger, appearing before the body as nominal director of the Committee for Temporal Intelligence, argues passionately against using temporal technology to resolve international conflicts, but cannot present proof that the past can be affected by temporal voyagers. Prevailing scientific testimony reinforces the conventional wisdom that the past is an immutable absolute.

December 24, 2492:
Formation of the Referee Corps, brought into being by the Council of Nations as an extranational arbitrating body with sole control over temporal technology and authority to stage temporal conflicts as “limited warfare” to resolve international disputes.

April 21, 2493:
On the recommendation of the Referee Corps, a subordinate body named the Observer Corps is formed, taking over most of the functions of the Committee for Temporal Intelligence, which is redesignated as the Temporal Intelligence Agency. Under the aegis of the Council of Nations and the Referee Corps, the TIA absorbs the intelligence agencies of the world’s governments and is made solely answerable to the Referee Corps. Dr. Mensinger resigns his post to found the Temporal Preservation League, a group dedicated to the abolition of temporal conflict.

June, 2497– March, 2502:
Referee Corps presides over initial temporal confrontation campaigns, accepting “grievances” from disputing nations, selecting historical conflicts of the past as “staging grounds” and supervising the infiltration of modern troops into the so-called “cannon fodder” ranks of ancient warring armies. Initial numbers of temporal combatants are kept small, with infiltration facilitated by cosmetic surgery and implant conditioning of soldiers. The results are calculated based upon successful return rate and a complicated “point spread.” Soldiers are monitored via cerebral implants, enabling Search & Retrieve teams to follow their movements and monitor mortality rate. The media dubs temporal conflicts the “Time Wars.”

2500-2510:
Extremely rapid growth of massive support industry catering to the exacting art and science of temporal conflict. Rapid improvement in international economic climate follows, with significant growth in productivity and rapid decline in unemployment and inflation rate. There is a gradual escalation of the Time Wars with the majority of the world’s armed services converting to temporal duty status.

Growth of the Temporal Preservation League as a peace movement with an intensive lobby effort and mass demonstrations against the Time Wars. Mensinger cautions against an imbalance in temporal continuity due to the increasing activity of the Time Wars.

September 2, 2514:
Mensinger publishes his “Theories of Temporal Relativity,” incorporating his solution to the Grandfather Paradox and calling once again for a ceasefire in the Time Wars. The result is an upheaval in the scientific community and a hastily reconvened Council of Nations to discuss his findings, leading to the Temporal Strategic Arms Limitations Talks of 2515.

March 15, 2515– June 1, 2515:
T-SALT held in New York City. Mensinger appears before the representatives at the sessions and petitions for an end to the Time Wars. A ceasefire resolution is framed, but tabled due to lack of agreement among the members of the Council of Nations. Mensinger leaves the T-SALT a broken man.

November 18, 2516:
Dr. Albrecht Mensinger experiences total nervous collapse shortly after being awarded the Benford Prize.

December 25, 2516:
Dr. Albrecht Mensinger commits suicide. Violent demonstrations by members of the Temporal Preservation League.

January 1, 2517:
Militant members of the Temporal Preservation League band together to form the Timekeepers, a
terrorist offshoot of the League, dedicated to the complete destruction of the war machine. They announce their presence to the world by assassinating three members of the Referee Corps and bombing the Council of Nations meeting in Buenos Aires, killing several heads of state and injuring many others.

September 17, 2613:
Formation of the First Division of the U.S. Army Temporal Corps as a crack commando unit following the successful completion of a “temporal adjustment” involving the first serious threat of a timestream split. The First Division, assigned exclusively to deal with threats to temporal continuity, is designated as “the Time Commandos.”

 

PROLOGUE

The lookout in the crow’s nest of the
H.M.S. Avenger
had been the first to spot him, clinging to a floating piece of wreckage off the port bow. They sent a boat out and discovered he had lashed himself to a large section of what had once been the mainmast of a ship. He was half dead from thirst and badly burned, both by fire and by the sun. His lips were cracked and parched and his skin, where it had not been blackened by flames, was red and blistered, oozing with infection. They feared they would lose him.

Admiral Lord Hood, anxious to learn the fate of whichever ship it was the poor devil had come from, gave strict orders to the
Avenger’s
surgeon to call him at once should the man regain the power of speech. No such summons proved necessary. The entire ship’s company heard it when, on the second day following his rescue, the man began to scream.

They had managed to calm him down somewhat by the time Hood arrived in the sick bay. The man was thrashing on the surgeon’s table, and for all that he was little more than skin and bones, it took two men to hold him down. He was struggling against them, his eyes rolling wildly, while Dr. Graves attempted to administer some laudanum.

“Belay that!” Hood said firmly, though without raising his voice. “The man is of no use to me drugged.”

Something in Hood’s voice penetrated through the shipwreck victim’s terror and he ceased to struggle against the two sailors. His eyes became fixed upon Hood, who met his gaze steadily and nodded reassuringly.

“You’re safe, man,” he told the shipwreck victim. “You’re aboard the A
venger,
bound for Bristol.”

“Thank God,” the man whispered, his voice now barely audible. “Thank the Almighty God!”

“What happened to your ship?” Hood said gently.

“Destroyed,” the man said, shutting his eyes. His chest rose and fell unevenly as he breathed laboriously. “It was the beast,” he said, with a shiver.

Hood frowned. “The
Beast?
I know of no such ship.”

“A sea beast!” said the man, opening his eyes wide and staring at Hood with the gaze of a lunatic.

“The
Covenant
was destroyed by a monster from the depths!”

“Monster?” Hood said, glancing at the doctor. “What monster?”

“Perhaps he means a whale, Your Lordship,” said Dr. Graves.

“No!” The man struggled to rise, finally managing to prop himself up slightly on his elbow. “No, not a whale!” he said, fervently. “A beast, I tell you! A veritable leviathan! A great, horrid, monstrous thing from the very jaws of hell!”

“Come, man, what nonsense is this?” said Hood. “We are not children to believe in sea dragons.

Even schoolboys know such creatures do not exist.”

“I
saw
it, I tell you!” said the man, his voice rising. “It churned the sea all round as it thrashed its mighty tail. It sounded and we heard it scream! I will hear that dreadful sound for all the days and nights left in my miserable life!”

“The man’s a lubber,” Dr. Graves said. “It must have been a whale he saw.”

“Not this one,” said the first mate, who had helped hold him down. “There’s tar in his hair and those were good seaman’s knots he lashed himself to the mast with.” He glanced up nervously at Hood. “No seaman gets himself frightened senseless by a whale, Your Lordship.”

“Lubber, am I?” said the sailor, his voice rising in pitch as he neared hysteria. “Whale, was it? Aye, you show me the whale that can hole a man-o’-war and then spit fire into its hull! Aye, the very flames of hell! One instant, there was a mighty ship, the next, there was nought but flaming splinters! The creature spat at us and we were consumed! Not a man jack left alive to tell the tale save me!”

“The poor man’s daft,” said Dr. Graves. “He’s lost his mind.”

“Aye, call me mad! Any sane man would. But I know what I saw, and I only pray to God I never lay eyes on it again!”

“Steady, now,” said Hood, bending down close to the man. “You have been through an ordeal enough to make any man half-mad. Try to remember. Think, could it be that a whale struck your ship or was struck by it? Perhaps the shock caused a lantern to fall and ignite the powder magazine?”


I tell you, it was no whale!”
the man shouted. “Think you I do not know a whale when I see one?

We thought at first it
was
a whale when we glimpsed it on the surface, but no whale could swim with such unholy speed or give vent to such a cry! No whale spits fire at a ship!” He reached out and grasped the lapels of Hood’s seacoat with shaking hands. “
Pray!”
he said, his eyes glazing over, staring not at Hood, but at something else that none of them could see. “Pray you do not cross this creature’s path!

Tell your lookouts to keep watch! Tell your men to keep their eyes upon the sea! If they should sight a dark shape in the water with a fin very like a shark’s, but larger than any shark that ever swam the ocean, tell them to make their peace with God! For you can turn your ship; you can put up every foot of sail in the strongest wind and flee, but it will avail you nought! The hell-spawn swims with a speed beyond belief! You shall hear its awful cry and it will sound and the sea will roil with its passage!” The man began to laugh hysterically.

“Aye, a whale, you say. A whale!”

Hood firmly grasped the man’s wrists and pried himself loose from his hold. He stood, watching sorrowfully as the shipwreck victim alternately laughed and sobbed.

“Do what you can for him, Graves,” he said. “Poor wretch. I fear he is beyond your help.”

“Aye,” said the doctor, shaking his head. “Sea monsters.” The mate looked up at Graves and Hood, then glanced back down at the shipwreck victim and quickly crossed himself.

Later in the day, they lost him. That evening, Hood himself said the words as they put the poor man’s weighted body over the side. By then, there was not a man aboard who had not heard the story. When the
Avenger
made port, the tale began to spread throughout the pubs of Bristol, a tale of a leviathan that had risen from the deep. Sailors prayed and watched the sea with fear.

BOOK: TW05 The Nautilus Sanction NEW
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