Chapter no 70

Quantum Radio

Robert considered Nora’s words for a moment. “You’re who she could have been… if what?”

“If a thousand things—a million things—had gone differently.” “What things?”

“To begin with, the Axis powers losing the Covenant War—what we call World War II. In my world, Britain never fell during the Blitz. America rose in the wake of the war. There was a true, long peace after. A world without the Covenant.”

“What are you talking about? Where are you from?”

“A world far different. More kind. But with its own problems.”

“Assuming I believe you—and I’m not saying I do—what are you doing here?”

Nora couldn’t help but smile and shake her head. “Honestly, I don’t know.”

How did you get here?”

“That’s an even stranger story.” “What do you want?”

“This morning, I wanted to save a dying man who was in my care. And beyond that, I wanted to go home. I still do. But right now, I’m wondering if I’m here for another reason. If I have a purpose here. I have a friend who thinks we’re here for a reason. I thought it was a crazy idea until I saw your presentation.”

“Now what do you think?”

Nora studied the copy of her father, this dark counterpart in a ruined, evil world. The weight of the conversation fell upon her then—the idea that her next words might change the fate of this world forever.

And as she contemplated what to say, she also wondered what the Pax had done with Ty and Kato. Were they dead?

What would become of her and Maria now that this man knew they didn’t belong here?

Nora also realized that within her mind, she had a tool that she had sharpened over a lifetime, but never used in such a way: psychology. Almost by instinct, she began building a profile of this Robert Brown, looking for facets and threads that could be pulled upon. It came naturally to her, and when she spoke again, it was with a new confidence in her ability to save not only herself and Maria but Ty and Kato, and perhaps help heal this wounded world. For the first time, she saw her role in whatever was happening here.

“You think we don’t know each other. In a way, it’s true. But it’s also true that I know a version of you very well. The father I grew up with disappeared when I was eighteen. I see a lot of him in you. If I’m right about that, then I know that you don’t really want to release that pathogen into the seas. The Robert Brown I know wouldn’t have killed something he loved so much—something so many depend upon, something that gives life to billions of innocent people. Children and mothers and fathers and sons and daughters.”

“You’re a Covenant agent, sent to make me second-guess what I have to do.”

“You know that’s not true.” “What do you want?”

“I didn’t know it until now, but I want to help you. I want to help return your daughter to you—the one you know. And save Dylan and Allie and Wyatt.”


“I don’t know yet. But I’ve very recently begun to agree with my friend. I think I’m here for a reason, on this world at this moment for some purpose. I have a role to play. I don’t know what it is. But right now, I think I’m meant to be in this room with you, because you need my help. And I need your help.”

“Help with what?”

“I need to find my friend. His name is Ty, and he was nearby when you found us. Another friend was with him: Kato Tanaka. You mentioned them just now.”

Robert studied her. “Yes. We have them. One of our combat spiders lanced them, and a team captured them.”

“What did you do to them?”

Robert inhaled sharply. “Ty wasn’t in our files. Tanaka is a Reich Europa intelligence operative. One based in Peenemünde.”

“The man in your custody is not in any way connected to the Covenant or Reich Europa. Before yesterday, he had never heard of either. Like me, he’s a… visitor here.”

“This is insanity.”

“I think, deep down, you know it’s true. It’s the only reason we’re in this office and not in a prison cell.”

“The only reason,” he said slowly, “you’re not in a prison cell is how

you’re different from her.” “How am I different?”

Robert stared at the floor and shook his head. “How?” Nora asked again.

“Her heart is a lot harder than yours.”

Nora saw it then. The opening. “But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here because you wish her heart wasn’t that hard. And seeing me tells you it’s not too late for her. Or for your grandchildren.”

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