2004-03-03 02:34:29 UTC
Part A. Uniting Against the Other.
Berlin, March 1943 (March, 2003)
Heinz Guderian drew his heavy greatcoat about him as he hurried down
the street. A desultory, icy rain dribbled out of a gray sky onto
Berlin's equally gray rubble, coating Guderian and the other few
people out and about with a cold miasma of wetness. Guderian coughed
a bit, hunched over like an old man. He had not weathered the winter
well, after his capture, despite the relatively comfortable prison the
Americans had held him in.
A loud motor roared overhead, and Guderian looked up to see a
helicopter he believed it to be of a type called Blackhawk' by the
Americans as it flew southwest. Presumably, it was carrying
attendees for the "Potsdam Conference" the Americans were hosting to
decide the fate of
Of well, everything. The final surrender of the Third Reich on
January 1, 1943 coincided with Japan's decision to "end" their war
the US-educated emperor and 2002 Japanese embassy staff (coupled with
US Special Forces operations that targeted the most die-hard of the
Japanese militarists) proving sufficient to the cause.
Adolf Hitler was dead; if you believed the surviving members of the
bunker, he'd died fighting off the Americans until the last minute; if
you believed "CNN", he was shot by his own SS guards right before US
Delta Force operatives stormed the place. Guderian knew what he
believed; the Americans would have loved to put the man on trial with
the other Nazis at Nuremberg, and the SS (acting under orders from
Bormann or some other flunky) never would have allowed it.
The rubble was still piled high. The Battle of Berlin had proven to
be the most costly battle in terms of lives for the Americans over
2,000 combat fatalities. Of course, of the 1.5 million defenders,
there was no accurate total on deaths. Suffice to say that number had
been in the hundreds of thousands. When initial American armored
probes into the city had been roughly handled, the US had backed off,
and sent in the USAF. B-52s, A-10s, F/A-18s, F-15s, F-16s, B-1B, B-2
Stealth; these were the litany of names that spelled death for Berlin
and the Nazis. And, after the idiocy of THULE, it was only strong
American pressure that kept Churchill from gassing the city.
Guderian arrived at his destination; a small dark door in a ruined
apartment block; no different than a thousand other blocks in ruined
Berlin. He knocked once, feeling the cold of the door even through
his glove. After a moment, the door opened, revealing a man dressed
in the latest Berlin fashion; filthy clothes. The man eyed Guderian,
and then beckoned with one hand. Guderian entered, and the man
glanced furtively down the length of the street before firmly shutting
and barring the door.
"You're late, General." The man said, picking up a lit candle, and
leading Guderian into the freezing gloom of the building.
A ghost of a smile touched Guderian's lips. "You are mistaken. The
name is simply Herr Guderian. There is no German Army any more, and
therefore, I could hardly be a General, could I?" Guderian laughed
briefly at his own joke. "As for the lateness, well, I apologize; the
Americans keep an eye on me now."
The man grunted, and continued to another door. This one led to a
stairway down, which Guderian followed to another door. The guide
knocked again, and a tiny hatch in the door opened. A pair of cold
blue eyes regarded both the guide and Guderian, before it closed, and
the door opened. The guide gestured again, and Guderian entered the
A single naked bulb lit the interior a former basement storeroom.
A rough wooden table and several chairs were in the room, along with
several men Guderian knew, if only by reputation. His eyes widened in
Guderian had been captured several months ago, and held in Hamburg,
after that city's fall. His American captors had treated him well
enough, but had been closed-mouthed about his eventual fate. They had
shared the original history with him, and he had read of the Nuremberg
War Crimes Tribunals set up in 1946. Now, the Americans had
reconvened it, and Guderian had been able to help it but to wonder if
he was slated for his own trial. However, two weeks ago, the
Americans had moved him to Berlin. Rather than a prison, they had put
him (with several other captured German civil and military
authorities) into a converted hotel. His daily movements were
unhindered, but he was told to be in the hotel by nightfall.
Yesterday, Guderian had gotten an odd message via a close-mouthed
hotel steward; a meeting at a certain location in Berlin at a certain
time, and his presence was requested. Guderian hadn't thought long;
he'd decided to attend it. There was always the chance that it was
some form of assassination attempt, but Guderian doubted it; besides
he was bored.
Now, Guderian faced several men in uniform. He recognized Bernard
Montgomery of Great Britain and General LeClerc of the French Army,
and knew General Crerar of the Canadian Army personally. He had never
met Marshall Koniev of the USSR or General Badgolio of Italy.
Additionally, he saw several others presumably translators.
Guderian stood for a second looking at the various men in the room.
He hadn't known what to expect, and this certainly wasn't it. He
managed, however, to sound fairly composed. "Good afternoon,
Gentlemen. What can I do for you?"
Monty indicated a chair, and Guderian sat. All the military men did,
with translators close at hand. Guderian eyed all of the men. Koniev
and Monty glared with open hostility - at Guderian and each other -
while LeClerc and the Italian regarded Guderian with wariness.
Guderian could not imagine for the life of him what they were all
doing here together.
Koniev opened the conversation. "Are we secure here? Can the damned
Americans hear us?" The Soviet Marshall addressed the Canadian,
Crerar shrugged. "I don't think they can hear us. My men swept the
whole building and found nothing."
Monty chimed in. "Their listening devices are devilish, and tiny.
How can we be sure?"
Crerar shrugged again. "The man in charge of my team spent some time
at the Americans' CIA headquarters in Langley. He did get a chance to
view some of their Bugs' they're called. He knows as well as
anyone from this time what they look like." Another shrug. "Besides,
the Americans haven't bugged the whole city, and they have had no
reason to come here. The rubble will muffle our sound, and no one
knows we're here."
LeClerc looked sour, but nodded at Crerar. "I think he's right. Our
best defense is that the Americans have no reason to suspect that we
are all here."
Guderian spoke. "And why gentlemen, are you here? More to the
point, why are any of us here?"
Monty looked at the German general, distaste in his eyes. "Because
of you, General. The Americans won't let you leave Berlin, and all of
us are here for the Potsdam Conference anyway, so this was the time
our governments decided that we should be here."
Stranger and stranger, thought Guderian, their governments are
sponsoring this little chat. Very strange, given the US troops
massing on the Soviet border, and that Canadian and British troops
were massing with them. There was every possibility that Koniev would
soon find himself at war with Montgomery and Crerar.
"Me?" asked Guderian. "Why me? I'm not even a general anymore.
Besides, I believe that the Americans have a slot reserved for me in
"They don't." Crerar cut off Guderian. "Actually, the Americans do
have plans for you but they aren't to put you in jail."
Guderian felt a wave of relief flow through him. He was careful not
to let it show. "Oh?"
"Actually, General, they have an offer to make you at the end of this
month." Montgomery spoke. He nodded at Crerar. "General Crerar and
I are privy to their plans. They intend to reconstitute a small
German Army, and plan to ask you to be in charge of it."
Guderian felt surprise again, and it showed. LeClerc smiled
humorlessly at him. "Yes, General. You. Apparently, in the original
history, you were in charge of the German Army in 1945, and had the
good sense to be sacked by Hitler, thus making you a good guy' in
American eyes. Additionally, sir, you enjoy a reputation as a fine
field commander with the US military, so the Americans feel confident
you'll do here as well, in charge of what they're planning to call the
Bundeswehr. It will be quite limited in scope; from what we hear no
more than six divisions, but an army none the less."
Guderian felt a surge of different emotions run through him; relief,
pride, excitement, anticipation, and finally a bit of disappointment
at the Versailles-like limitation of the German Army. "I I thank
you for sharing that with me, sir. But I still fail to see what it is
we are doing here."
Montgomery stood, and placed his hands behind his back. He paced for
a minute, and then looked at Guderian. "You have an advantage, sir,
that none of us do. Two of them, actually."
Guderian did not respond.
"You see, " Montgomery continued, "this new United States represents,
well, something no one else in the world is quite prepared to deal
Guderian snorted. "Certainly I understand that. And I would point
out, I understand that as the target of this new United States,
something no one else here has been." Guderian didn't count the
Italian, Badgolio, or even look at him. Certainly Italy had not
suffered as Germany had.
"Yes, quite." Said Montogomery. "Yet, it seems that all of us share
one thing, General. A reorganization of the world order on terms not
of own making."
Guderian raised an eyebrow.
"Oh yes, " broke in LeClerc, "they certainly talk a good game. But
in the end, they have both carrots and the sticks, as it were. They
have technology beyond our dreams, and wealth to support it. Their
ideas are are well, Alien, almost." LeClerc reached into a pouch,
and brought out a folded map. He spread it out on the table, and
Guderian recognized enough of the English on it to read the year
2001 and realize that it was from the future. Guderian's eyes
lingered over it; noting the truncation of Germany, and the breakup of
the USSR. "Look at this, " LeClerc continued, "the parts I've marked
in blue are the French Empire in 2001 the parts in red, the
British". Guderian stared for a moment. These empires were gone;
only tiny bits around the world were left.
Montogomery spoke quietly. "This is the world they came from. A
world they dominated already as a hyperpower'. This world-" he waved
a hand at the room and Berlin beyond "they will not simply dominate
they will own." The British general snorted. "They will not call
it ownership of course. They are very clear about that; they will not
expand the territory of the United States by even one square inch.
But that doesn't matter. Their culture, their technology, and their
businesses they will rule. The next generation wherever and to
whomever they are born will be American."
"The attitude they have displayed most of all, General, is a kind of
condescending paternalism, with a dash of disapproval thrown in for
good measure. They are very polite friendly even - and open about
their technology. But when it comes to sharing their marvelous
weapons, they have proven most reticent." Montgomery shrugged. "They
have an absolute monopoly on modern military equipment, and they show
no signs of sharing it any time soon."
The military disasters that had befallen Germany before the fall of
Berlin, and his personal fate afterwards, had dominated Guderian's
thoughts. He hadn't really considered the longer-term implications of
the arrival of the future United States. He knew their technology was
impressive, and, had come to realize that they had been supreme in the
world they came from. To hear them speak, Britain, France, and
Germany were allies some might even say partners, albeit junior ones
in an alliance called NATO. Russia was shattered a dead empire of
declining population and importance. Japan was an economic
powerhouse, but a military pygmy, firmly subordinated to Washington.
Crerar spoke. "So that is what we face. The breakup of the European
empires, the universal rights of all people, regardless of race or
culture " LeClerc snorted at this, his eyes locked on Algeria on the
map. "and finally capitalism ruled from New York and Washington."
Guderian thought of shattered Germany. "I frankly don't see how this
impacts me or Germany. Or what you can do about it right now."
"Nothing. We can do nothing about this." LeClerc gave a Gallic
shrug. "They have power, we have none. We must go along with them."
He stared off at a point over the table. "For now."
Montogomery looked at the German. "You remember, Herr General, I
said you had two advantages over the rest of us?" Guderian nodded.
"Well, here's what they are. First, unlike all of us, your country
will have a large American military presence for quite some time to
"I fail to see that as an advantage." said Guderian.
LeClerc smiled humorlessly. "But of course it is, General. Unlike
Germany's occupation of my country, the Americans do not intend to
loot Germany; primarily because you have nothing at all they would
want. No, they will secure the country, use it as a base to keep an
eye on Europe and the Middle East, eradicate the remains of the Nazi
government, and, with our help, establish a new government for
Guderian's brow furrowed. "I thought this conference meant you were
their enemies now."
There was laughter, and then Montogomery spoke. "Only an idiot would
make themselves the Americans' enemy, General. No, we are not their
enemies. Merely concerned I would say, yes concerned about the
future. In no way would we oppose them openly."
"No general, not enemies. But back to that occupation. The
Americans intend to rebuild your country. Part of this is simply
sympathy on their parts, and that is how they portray it to their
press. However, a much more concrete reason is that the Americans
need a market for their goods, and a strong German and European
economy is the quickest way to that.
"No, General Guderian, we are not their enemies. However, the first
advantage of which spoke is this: The Americans intend to rebuild
Germany's Army from their own obsolete equipment. Older weapons and
vehicles removed their National Guard arsenals and such."
Guderian was silent for a moment while this sank in. "Surely they
will not give us anything that is dangerous to them-"
Montogomery was shaking his head. "Of course not, General. The
equipment you get is completely obsolete in their eyes weapons and
vehicles scrounged from the bottoms of their arsenals from the 1960s
and 1970s, meant as a stop-gap while Germany's own industries recover.
Completely obsolete to them."
"Decades ahead of what we have." Said LeClerc softly.
Guderian stared. "Surely they are planning to equip you, their
allies with similar technology-"
"No." said Crerar. The Canadian shrugged. "They say that there's
no need; that war in the future will be eliminated or non-existent.
They recommend that we simply disband our militaries to invest in
upgrading our civilian economies. Needless to say, our elected
civilian leadership is happy with this, as are most people."
Koniev spoke. "Simply put, General, no matter what they give, you
won't be allowed to use it aggressively; firstly the German government
that the Americans are putting into place won't be like the Nazis at
all; secondly, they will maintain their own military to crush anything
"So, if I understand you gentlemen, Germany will have a small army
equipped by Americans capable of defeating any 1943 opponent, but not
allowed to do anything with it."
Nods all around. "And this were you come in, general." Said
Montgomery. "The two advantages; US military occupation of Germany,
and then a US-equipped German army will provide you with access to far
more military equipment than we. We want you to share that with us."
"We want you to actively and secretly share advanced American
technology with us."
Guderian was silent for a moment. "And even if I could, why should
I?" He stared at Koniev.
Crerar spoke. "You are of course familiar with the conference going
on down the way in Potsdam?" Guderian nodded, and the Canadian
continued. "The Americans are deciding, among other things, they face
of the new Europe. National boundaries, ethnic movements, and the
like. While the Americans are deciding these issues, it is odd that
they don't actually have much of a stake in them."
Guderian raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, to be sure, the Americans have their own domestic reasons to
care; ethnic voting blocs and the like." Montogomery said. "However,
in the end, no one domestic group can influence the Americans to the
extent that we can. Quite simply, the American State Department is
out of its time. It has no local experts, and their man in charge,
Mr. Powell, is relying on us to help dictate the terms of this new
Understanding dawned on Guderian. "I see. And in return for my
agreement to this proposal, you will present a case favorable to
Guderian furrowed his brow. "And why are there no diplomats here
now? Why are soldiers doing this?"
Koniev spoke. "A new and wonderful term our American friends have
taught us plausible deniability. If this blows up on us if the
Americans find out, then our governments just shrug, fire us, and say
we didn't know'".
Guderian frowned again. "I see." Guderian tried to buy time to
think. "Even if I were so inclined to accept, eventually I will have
to answer to a civilian authority."
Crerar spoke, "A difficult position, yes." The Canadian stood.
"However, I would think that the prospect of a Germany whose Eastern
border was not on the Oder would be sufficient."
Guderian stared at the Canadian. He knew the strings to pull to get
to Guderian. Then Koniev came into view, and Guderian's back
stiffened. "I'm very sorry, gentlemen, but I can not view sharing
advanced military equipment with Stalin. He is a lunatic as bad as
Koniev burst out laughing. "Oh, my dear General Guderian, Comrade
Stalin does not know that I am here."
Guderian looked confused. "I thought that you said that the
Montgomery gave an uncomfortable-sounding cough. "Marshall Koniev is
attending this conference at the behest of certain elements of the
Soviet government. Chairman Stalin is not aware that he is here."
Guderian's eyes widened a bit.
Montgomery continued. "As a matter of fact, General, we have reason
to believe that the Soviet Government may soon undergo a bit of an
Koniev broke in. "You see, General, I watched the Americans' war
from Harwich, and I assure you that no sane man would defy them.
Comrade Stalin seems bent on a course of defiance, and the safety of
the revolution dictates that adjustments be made."
Guderian stared at Koniev, but addressed Montgomery. "I see. What,
precisely, are you prepared to offer?"
Part B. Leadership changes.
Potsdam, March, 1943 (2003).
Colin Powell was surprised at how well things were going. The
squabbling was to be expected of course, but the rough outline of
post-war Europe was emerging. The only real non-Soviet sticking point
was Poland. Powell was amazed at how well, nice to Germany the
French, British and Italians were being. The Poles were, predictably,
outraged at the idea of German retention of Silesia, and Powell didn't
know why their former allies, the British, were being so favorable to
The truth of the matter was, however, that Powell had little
attention for Poland. The Soviets were being completely intransigent,
and war was clearly brewing between the US-led allies, and the Soviet
The conference room was large, ornate and filled with delegates,
availing themselves of the refreshments the US security detachment
provided. There was quite a bit of milling about because, as usual,
the Soviet delegation was late. Powell didn't know if it was
grandstanding, simple stubbornness, or to try to convince others here
that the Soviets were a viable military power to compete with the
Americans. If so, it wasn't working. Not one country sided with
Powell was distressed at the absence of any Asian delegates. Asia
was a mess into itself, and a conference in Honolulu was planned for
July. It seemed the Chinese embassies both of them were up to
something, and Powell could only hope the CIA could keep a lid on it
while the US moved to stabilize Japan. Additionally, the hopes and
aspirations of Vietnam, Indonesia, and India were taking center stage
as 2002 citizens of those countries viewed the Imperial masters
through the lens of the 21st century.
Powell turned as a commotion arose behind him. General Buchanan, his
military liaison was speaking into a sat phone with tones that
indicated something was up. Buchanan looked up and said one word
"Moscow" quietly. Before Powell could inquire further, the door to
conference room opened, and the Soviet delegation entered. Something
in their manner made Powell look up.
Rather than moving to his seat, Molotov walked over to Powell
directly. A translator appeared with him. Powell looked at the
Soviet Foreign Minister.
Molotov cleared his throat. "I must ask for an indulgence sir."
"Yes. I must request a temporary recess. It seems that there has
been some trouble in Moscow."
Powell frowned. "What kind of trouble?"
Molotov looked uncomfortable. "It seems that certain
counter-revolutionary elements of the Soviet internal security
services attempted a coup against the Center."
Powell raised both eyebrows.
Molotov continued. "The conspirators were of course defeated, but I
regret to say that they wreaked considerable havoc." A deep sigh. "I
must regretfully report that Chairman Stalin was killed in the
It got very quiet in the American delegation. "I see," said Powell.
"I am in a difficult position sir, " Molotov continued, "and must ask
for a recess to consult the new leadership of my country."
"And who is in charge of the USSR?"
"General Georgi Zhukov has assumed the chair position until the
Politburo can convene."
"I see." Said Powell. "And you expect this will impact Soviet
positions on the issues we are discussing?"
Powell sighed. So even the Soviets were going to come on board.
Part C: Skip, the alien space bat.
Washington DC, April 1943 (April, 2003).
President Bush was in an upbeat mood as he entered the Oval Office
with Colin Powell. The Potsdam Conference was over, Stalin was dead,
and the economy was turning around. The strategic situation was
Bush froze mid-stride at the sight of a monster behind his desk. It
was a huge bat-like beast, vaguely man-shaped, but with
leathery-looking black wings, and a demonic face. Glowing red eyes
regarded the US President from beneath a bony brow, and two horns at
least a foot long each sprang from the beast's forehead. It must have
been 9 feet tall, and had somehow managed to fit itself and look
completely at ease while doing it in Bush's chair, behind his desk,
with clawed talons/feet up and resting on the blotter on the desk.
A secret service agent caught sight of the beast, and drew a gun
while trying to leap to cover Bush. He froze literally stopped all
movement and hung suspended in mid-leap, in mid air. The agent's
eyes darted furiously as his brain to process the impossibility of
being suspended motionless in midair.
"Good Afternoon, Mr. President," the being spoke. His voice was
surprisingly mellow for such a huge and monstrous-looking being.
Later voice analysis by the NSA would suggest a lifetime spent in
Bush managed a croak. Both he and Powell were also immobile, though
Bush could at least speak.
"What's the matter sir, cat got your tongue?" The being asked.
"Who who are you?
The being stood, and moved around to the front of the desk. He
smiled a truly horrible sight and spoke again. "My own name for
myself, you would find impossible to pronounce. However, for the
duration of this discussion, you may call me Skip'."
Skip shrugged massive shoulders. "It'll do for now. Besides, my
agent loves it."
Bush was trying to process what was happening, so Powell spoke. "Who
are you, Mr. Skip, and what do you want?"
Skip looked at the US SecState. "Just Skip, no mister' needed.
Well, let's get the obvious out of the way. I'm an alien. As in, not
from this planet."
"Why can't we move, and how did you get in here?" Bush had found his
Skip stared at the US President. "Well, gosh, I would have thought
the whole Alien' thing would have given you a clue that hey, maybe
this guy Skip, in addition to his stunning good looks and suave sense
of style, has command of some technologies that we don't'"
Neither man spoke.
Skip placed his clawed hands behind his back, and wings, and sighed
deeply. "OK, clearly I have to make this simpler. First of all,
despite that fact that you can't move, and no one else will be coming
in here until I leave, all of the recording devices that monitor this
room, both visual and audio, are picking everything up. I figured
Powell would be enough to verify this little chat we're having, but
that should help. Secondly, I guess you've noticed the little
temporal displacement that took place a year or so ago?"
Bush stared blankly. "Huh?"
Skip closed his eyes and counted backwards from ten. "The US being
back in the 1940's you recognized that?"
"Well, I represent the organization that was responsible for that
Powell's face bulged with fury. "Do you have any idea of the damage
you've done, the lives you've shattered, the-"
Powell's voice shut off, and Skip waved one massive hand. "Gee, like
I care. Look, I'm acclimated pretty well, but let's not forget the
whole Alien' thing I mentioned earlier. Completely different value
set, OK? Individual human lives don't mean squat to me, or those I
work with, and won't until you've earned it."
"Why? Why did you do this?" Bush asked.
Skip blinked rapidly. "Wow, an intelligent question. And just when
I thought all was lost. Well, that's why I'm here. To explain why.
And to assure you of something else. This will not happen again. No
more displacements. This is the world, now, and you're here to stay."
The alien blinked. "Or is until you bozos figure out how to do it on
your own, which ain't likely in the near future."
Skip sat down on a couch. He reached behind his back, and pulled out
a cigar. He struck a match against Bush's desk. He puffed several
times on the cigar, and then glanced at his three human visitors. "Do
you mind if I smoke actually, who cares if you do mind? It's not
like you can stop me."
Skip leaned back, and crossed his legs. He inhaled on his cigar, and
blew a perfect smoke ring. "Ahhh. Nothing beats a Cuban." He
chuckled. "Cute trick with the Israelis down there. That got some
laughs, I gotta tell you. You should let Fidel try out for baseball."
He stared at the ceiling for a minute and then spoke.
"OK, clearly we're now past the whole we're not alone in the
universe thing'. I mean, that was arrogant beyond belief. Also, I'm
not two million years old, so clearly FTL you can as NASA what FTL'
means is possible, though probably not for you for a while." More
puffing on the cigar. There were no ashtrays in the Oval Office, and,
after glancing around for one for a moment, Skip shrugged and simply
flicked the ashes on to the carpet.
"One of the things we like about your species is your capacity to
dream fantasize if you like. Now, let's face it, most of the
fantasies that aren't prurient sexual desires are religious
mumbo-jumbo and other superstition, but sometimes something
interesting comes out. Your capacity to believe in a universe beyond
what you can touch, but still governed by rationality. Rare, but
Skip looked at them. "The universe, and all species in it are
governed by rational scientific laws, gentlemen. Humanity has
discovered some of these, but many more are out there. It is
believed, by my organization that in due course, Humanity would have
discovered those laws, made use of them, and well, let's just say
become more than what you are now."
More puffing. "Now, I'm actually going somewhere with all of this
crap, believe me. There are other races out there, as should be
obvious to even you. Some of these have sets of cultural or racial
values that are completely different from your own. One of these
races is local, in a galactic sense of the word. And they know about
"This race is, well, if you about them you would say that they are
vile. And hey, they are. They've also targeted you. They're not
overfond of competition, and your rate of scientific and cultural
advance is a whole lot faster than theirs. Additionally, for now at
least, they're more technically advanced. If left alone, we figure
you two would've blundered into each other at some point or another.
Predictions were that you'd win; believe it or not this other race can
be even more pig-headed than humans; but it would be a tough fight.
In the end, a war against that race, fought mostly in your solar
system, would've resulted in a politically unified Earth, with
technological development spurred by the conflict."
Bush and Powell still couldn't move, but the shock registered in
Skip waved his massive clawed hand, scattering more cigar ash over
the Oval Office. "Probably. Of course, maybe you'd just get your
butts kicked; and these guys put the gen in genocide, if you catch my
Skip scowled; a terrifying sight. "But something went wrong." More
puffing. "Certain elements of my organization decided, for a
variety of reasons I'm not gonna go into right now, that this other
species needed a leg up. They utilized this localized time-travel
capability we have to knock these guys back in time; not much, but
enough to make the odds from about 90-10 in your favor to more like
50-50. Part II of their little plan was to make that 50-50 about
10-90 against, but we intercepted that before it happened."
"What was that?" Powell could speak again.
Another dismissive wave from Skip. "Oh, they were gonna send some
lunatic from Tampa Mike or Mark or something it started with an
M'- back to 1942 instead. This loser is a Nazi sympathizer, and any
disruption there could have been awful. Oh, the Nazis weren't gonna
win, but enough advancement from this idiot, and your economic and
cultural development would have been slowed down. By the time we
caught up with this, the let's call them entities in question had
already started the time displacement procedure. We decided to kill
two birds with one stone, and simply equalize the earlier part of
their plan. Viola, you guys get a one-way ticket to 1942."
"Why didn't you simply reverse what had happened to this other
species, " asked Powell.
"Yeah, that would have been easier, and more moral, but hey, this was
already paid for, and a lot more fun. I gotta say" - Skip was
chuckling now "that some of the things that have happened since you
got here have been a hoot. I mean, come on. The whole British Empire
is on the brink of collapse Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet. And
who'd ever though the USSR would be brought low by well, never
Powell was thinking of shattered lives, combat losses, aliens, and
rebuilding Europe. "You know, I don't think this has been funny at
all. In fact, I think that this whole childish attitude " Powell's
mouth kept moving, but no sound came out.
Skip stood, and waved his arm with a certain airy indifference. "You
say Potato, I say Pototo. Look, I've already explained, I don't give
a crap." A deep draw on the almost-depleted cigar, and a sigh. "This
world is yours, gentlemen. Your particular nation state has the power
to do what it will. What you choose to do from now on out is entirely
up to you, but I might think that a little unity in the face of a
genocidely-inclined enemy to be a spur. We're out now; your destiny
is you own."
There was a flash of orange, and a bright light from Skip's eyes.
Bush, Powell, and the Secret Service agent all involuntarily closed
their eyes, and then they could move. Which was unfortunate, as the
agent's flight resumed, and he crashed into Bush. The Oval Office was
suddenly flooded with security as Bush and Powell looked around.
Apart from a small scent of brimstone, and a mostly used Cuban cigar
burning on the carpet, Skip was gone.
Thanks, it was a lot of fun.