Chapter no 108

Quantum Radio

Once again, Ty was standing in the observation room on the space station. Through the floor-to-ceiling glass window, Earth loomed below.

The glimpse of the Looking Glass World was fading now, but Ty’s mind clung to it. He liked that world. More than that, he liked how it had made him feel.

He wondered what the others had seen. Glancing back at Nora, Kato, and Maria, he saw no clues. But each of them seemed deep in thought.

The four quantum historians moved away from the glass, toward the room’s only door. One stopped and looked back. “We’ll give you some time to consider.”

In the historian’s mirrored helmet, Ty saw himself standing in front of Kato, Nora, and Maria, nodding.

When the four historians were gone, Kato paced away from the group. “Let’s start with the obvious: I liked what I saw. I liked it very much.”

“Same here,” Maria said.

“Me too,” Nora said quietly. “Same,” Ty said.

“Is it real?” Maria asked, staring at Ty. “I mean, can they really do it? Or is it… some trick?”

Ty peered down at the Earth below. “It’s real.” “How do you know?” Kato asked.

“I know because there’s something I didn’t realize until now. A piece that never fit before.”

Nora studied his face. “Your father.”

“That’s right,” Ty said. “Somehow, he knew our world was being manipulated. He’s part of this somehow… in a way I don’t understand yet.”

“Can we trust them?” Kato asked.

“I don’t know,” Ty replied. “I think we can only trust what we’ve seen: the quantum historians are trying to save worlds. The Covenant is trying to destroy them—or at least, use them for their own benefit. I know what side of that war I’m on. And if it means risking my life, I’m willing to do that.”

Ty walked along the glass window, mentally arranging the words he wanted to say. “When I made the discovery at CERN—when I identified the quantum radio transmission—I thought it could change the world. I thought it would help us unravel the greatest mysteries of the universe and human existence.”

He nodded to the Earth below. “And it has. What we’ve found is different from what I expected. It’s also more amazing. We have the opportunity to solve some of the greatest scientific mysteries of all time. And probably ones I can’t even imagine right now. Honestly, just for that, I’m in. But for what’s waiting on the other side… it’s an easy decision for me. But I think we should all make our own decision.”

“I can’t go home,” Kato said quietly. “I thought I could, but now that I’ve had a little time to consider it, I know I’m not ready. Not like I am right now. What I had to do in Peenemünde… it changed me. I need to decompress. To recenter myself. And what I saw in the Looking Glass World—that’s the life I want. I’m willing to do a tour of duty in the multiverse for that. I’m in.”

Nora locked eyes with Ty. “So am I. Wherever this road goes, I’m in. I know what’s waiting on the other side.”

“I am too,” Maria said. “I also like what I saw in that… whatever it was.” She glanced at Kato. “I also see what we’re about to do like a tour. In a way, it’s similar to my last tour. Different places. Different people. Different challenges. I just hope it doesn’t end up like the last time I was on the road, and what happened to me. I want to say that upfront, for all of you to know: I have a demon that I’ve been struggling with my whole life—my anger. I’ve used drugs to help me control it. And that’s only dug me in deeper.”

Maria took a deep breath. “When this all started, I was on my way to beating the drugs. Or I thought so anyway. But the stress of what we just did was hard on me. I almost didn’t make it. I would understand if you don’t want to take me along. And I won’t go without being honest about what I’m dealing with.”

“We all have demons,” Nora said. “Of varying sizes.”

“We’re standing on a space station,” Ty said. “If they can take us here, the historians ought to be able to help you, Maria. I think we should make it part of the deal.”

“I agree,” Kato said.

Nora nodded. “So do I.”

Ty glanced at Kato. “I’m going to ask them to help you as well.”

Kato gazed out the wide window, into the black of space. His head dipped slightly, making the smallest of nods.

“I think,” Nora said carefully, “that we should ask them to resolve all of our outstanding health issues—mental and physical—before we embark on this… tour of duty.” She kept looking at Ty, and he took her meaning.

“All right,” he said. “Anything else?”

When no one said anything, Nora asked, “Who’s going to talk to them?” “Not it,” Kato said. “I typically negotiate using a gun or my fists. Doesn’t

feel like that kind of negotiation.”

“Also not it,” Maria said. “This is way over my head.” “Ty should do it,” Nora said.

“Me?” Ty laughed. “I’m the guy who pays the asking price when I buy a used car.”

Nora laughed. “True. But I don’t think this is that kind of negotiation either. And plus, I believe you have questions you want to ask them.”

“Ask them why they wear those suits,” Kato said. “It’s been bugging me since Buenos Aires.”

“Got it,” Ty said. “Anything else?”

Nora walked over to him and put a hand on his back. “Just be yourself.

Good luck.”

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