Temporal Displacement Device

By Michael Cleveland


"Team six is in position, sir."

Hapshet nodded his acknowledgement. The Technologists the he had under his command were all seasoned veterans, so he knew he had little to fear. Still, the Djinn was more than slightly nervous, and for good reason. The Lightning Tether that he was about to lead an assault on had weathered more than its share of storms, and its Seneschal was a traitor to their glorious Archangel. Vapula had made his wishes clear - the Tether was to fall before the night was through.

Getting out of his car, he checked his earpiece and vocal connections one last time and then looked at his Gamester counterpart. "All right, let's do this. Remember, Technology calls the shots. You're here as an observer and nothing else." Before the Gamester could argue, Hapshet started moving towards the building. On the outside, it looked like a plain office building, but he knew it was going to be a lot more interesting than that.

Placing his goggles over his eyes, he waited a moment for the tactical displays to initialize and then dropped his voice into his command voice. "This is Operations. Mission timer goes active in fifteen seconds. Remember, we have guests with us, so no screw-ups on this one. One and two take west entrance, three and four take the south. Team five, you boys stay outside until we hit resistance. Six, the Game contact says your beacon for your insertions is stowed and secure, so you should come in within thirty yards of the locus. Remember, estimates on response time give us only a ninety second window, so if we don't nail it inside two minutes, we're in trouble. Go."

The Djinn listened as his team muttered assent, then focused all his attention on the dots flashing before his eyes. Only a few years back, he would have actually had to accompany the team inside the building, but with the latest revision of the battlefield comcomp, he could stay and do the real work of commanding the forces. His two bodyguards would alert him if the enemy was advancing, so he could just sit back and -

"Operations. Team five reports loss of contact with team one. Engaging."

Hapshet shook his head violently, and then looked at his display. Team one was falling rapidly, much faster than he had calculated. Something had to be going wrong. And where the hell was team six? The locus couldn't have been that well defended - he'd specifically set fifteen of his finest on that task. Things could be this bad at twenty-seven seconds...

"Team One, report."

After a few moments, a reply came back. "Heavily engaged. Forces not what we expected. Enemy pressing forward."

"Download gun camera footage and telemetry to my link. Standby."

The Technologist growled to himself - this couldn't be happening. All of these people were good, too good to get taken down by the servitors of the so-called Archangel of Lightning. He reached down to make sure his sidearm was functioning properly as he waited for the video feed to filter into his goggles and...

"What the -"

"Team six is in position, sir."

Hapshet nodded his acknowledgement. He wasn't feeling too well today, and he sincerely wished that his team had more time to plan, but sometimes you had to make do. He looked over at his Gamester counterpart, who was looking back at him and pointing at his shoulder. "What's that flashing thing?"

The Djinn looked down at his shoulder, and paled as he saw a metallic band pulsing with greenish-yellow lights on his upper arm. "Damn. We've got to change plans. Something's wrong. I told you this place was a deathtrap."

The Calabite looked over from his seat. "Listen, I understand your fear of Lightning, but Asmodeus has commanded that you -"

The Technologist shook his head. "No, no - you don't get it. This thing - it's a temporal displacement device. Only goes off about two seconds before you die. Takes you back to a few seconds before the event that caused your death, and it gives you a second shot at it."

The Gamester blinked twice, then shrugged. "Then don't do what you did last time. If you just got a glimpse into the future, then use it."

Hapshet rubbed his temples, trying to get the pain to leave his skull. "No, it's not like it's that simple, you moron. If you know the future, you lock yourself into a specific temporal loop, so to get around that the device strips the ethereal force that had those memories. I don't remember how things went wrong, all I know is that they did."

The Calabite rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a moment. "Well, the plan had called for you to split your forces and insert from three points. Perhaps we should make only one point of entry. Maybe that will work better."

"Maybe you're right. Let's go..."

"Team six is in position, sir."


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