Sadie strolled in from Comm. looking relieved. “Okay, we’re good. Darwin Roost thinks we’re having a minor ship issue, and the conference is cancelled.”
“Good,” Avery said, nodding. “Not that I don’t trust you, Em, but I don’t trust temporal blips, and if this musses with our systems, Gull needs time to fix them.”
“I understand, Captain. I’m ready when you are.”
“Nova, honey, come on…” Jackson coaxed, gently, and reached out to touch his wife, ho was staring at the space they had all come to call ‘the Jonas Spot’.
“I know,” she murmured. “It just seems unfair, somehow.”
“Is he there?” Lincoln wondered.
“Yes. No,” sighed Nova. “The link is strongest right around 0600 and it only seems to last half an hour or so. I can’t see him. But I know he’s there. He heard what Emerald said and I think he’s staying at his spot until we…finish.”
“It’s like putting a puppy to sleep. That’s how I feel right now,” Jenks noted. “Poor kid.”
“I’ll wear the villain badge this time around, folks,” Crane said. “I don’t like it, either, but in addition to it being against natural order,” here she gave a significant look to the more spiritual members of her crew, “it also might exacerbate and become a real problem over time.”
“I agree, Captain. I cannot predict the course of this aberration in any way. I can, however, correct it.”
“Let’s do it, then,” Avery said grimly.
“Jonas, we really are sorry,” Nova said in a paltry hope he could hear when she could not.
“I’ll have to draw on some of the ship’s power. Not significantly, but the systems may flicker for just a moment.”
And the systems did more than flicker.
Vanished, and were replaced by something entirely different.
“I think he’s having some sort of breakdown,” Polly ventured, standing just inside the park gate with Morgan and watching the electrician. “He looks sick. Or nervous. Or nervous and sick.”
“I think he knows more about this shit than we think,” was Shaw’s expert opinion. “What the Hell is Marshall doing?”
“Trying to look inconspicuous and failing miserably,” Rivin replied with a stifled chuckle. “I think he knows more about this, too. Figured. A SETI goon and a twentysomething civilian are more in the know than us. Hail to the CIA.”
“Can we go now?” Shaw pleaded. “Nothing’s happening. We can go on some rides, drink around the world…”
But then, they saw Kade blink, walk a few steps over to peer off toward the interior of the park, gasp, and start hustling in that direction.
The two exchanged looks, then followed at a safe distance.
Doyle was getting tired. Three hours of waiting. He hadn’t slept much the night before, he’d hurt his foot getting off the damn monorail ramp last night, and the anomaly was not pinging anymore on the instruments back at SETI. He’d made calls every half hour, and there’d been no change. So why was the kid still here? Why was he still waiting? Something was going on. He knew something was going on.
He had just made up his mind to go and talk to the guy when the fellow actually started moving. Away from him and toward Spaceship Earth. He wasn’t leaving the park, and his stride looked determined.
Great, thought Doyle, I’m gonna lose track of him because I can barely freakin’ walk.
But he made the effort, anyhow, and followed after.