Chapter no 74

Quantum Radio

The airship sailed through the sky, the winds buffeting it but never dragging it off course.

In the dining compartment, Ty sat with Nora at a table by a window, peering down at Florida. It was an odd thing, seeing the beaches so empty. Sand stretched out, and blue-green water crashed upon it. There was no sign of humanity. It was as though the land had returned to a prehistoric time.

They had been told that the flight time to Argentina was approximately sixty hours. Ty estimated that the ship was traveling at around ninety miles per hour—about the speed of the Hindenburg and airships of that era.

The big question was whether Maria Santos would indeed be in Argentina when they arrived. They had no way of knowing. If she was gone

—if she had already made her way to Reich Europa—the entire operation was likely finished. If that was the case, Ty didn’t even want to think about what would become of them.

There was nothing he could do about it now. They were fourteen hours into a sixty-hour journey. Obsessing over that now would do nothing to help them. There was something calming about that. He could enjoy this journey and rest his mind a little.

Ty needed it. The last few days had been the most intense of his entire life.

After breakfast, a waiter came and collected the plates and brought a pot of tea and set a deck of playing cards on the white-linen-covered table. Nora glanced at them with a smile.


Ty smiled theatrically. “You couldn’t beat me before—in our youthful, carefree years. What makes you think you can best me now?”

She stared off and tapped her chin with her pointer finger, playing along. “If memory serves, one of us rescued the other from a dingy dungeon

outside DC. So who exactly is the master of strategy here?” Ty laughed as he picked up the deck. “Let’s find out.”

They played cards and laughed and occasionally glanced out the wide windows as the coastline of Florida disappeared, and Cuba loomed on the horizon and then slipped under them and away.

As the day went by, the sun shifted around them. It shone through the far windows at breakfast, directly overhead at lunch, and right in their eyes at dinner—at which time Ty pulled the shade, making the space feel even more intimate.

The food was excellent. For Ty, the time with Nora was even more enjoyable. Here in the sky, he felt something he hadn’t in a long time: what he’d felt on that blanket on the National Mall when they were eighteen, the day Nora’s father had disappeared.

It amazed him how time could change so many things—except how you felt about someone. He realized then that how you felt must be imprinted somewhere deep down in a mind, in a place not easily overwritten.

For him, being with Nora was effortless. It brought him a sense of calm and clarity that he needed now.

They both declined coffee after dinner, but Nora didn’t rise.

She rolled up the shade and glanced at the setting sun over the thin strip of land that separated the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the bridge between North and South America.

Her voice was barely a whisper. “It was so strange seeing him.” “Your father?” Ty asked.


“I know exactly how you feel,” Ty said. “In fact, I might be the only one. Seeing my father recently, after so long… it was jarring. It turned my world upside down.”

“He was so different, and yet still the man I knew. It’s amazing how a person’s environment can shape them.”

“In the end, he helped us.”

“At a price.” Nora stared out the window again. “If we let those rockets land in the Covenant, how many will die?”

“How many will die if we don’t?”

“None, if they detonate in Greenland.”

“Not today. But what about the future? If we leave the Covenant military intact, they can still destroy the Pax.”

A few silent moments passed before Nora said, “I should check on Kato.”

Ty rose to join her, and they strode through the halls with stained wood panels and art hanging on the walls.

The vessel was like a cruise ship from another time, a gilded age of luxury in the sky. It made sense to Ty. This was the only way for dignitaries and celebrities from the Pax to travel. Perhaps it was the last vestige of opulence left in the wilting nation. Transporting the team this way was a cover, to be sure, but Ty felt very special to be seeing it.

At Kato’s door, Nora knocked, and he called quickly, “Come.”

Nora turned the handle and pushed the door inward. The stateroom was tidy. The small bed had been made, and the only thing out of place was a rolling cart with a half-eaten plate of food by the door.

Kato clearly hadn’t lost his discipline. He sat cross-legged on the floor, his bloodshot, watery eyes peering up at them with a placid, laser-sharp focus.

“I came to check on you,” Nora said. “I’m fine.”

“I’m across the hall if you need me.”

The smallest of smiles formed on Kato’s lips, a genuine gesture. “Thank you,” he said, voice filled with feeling.

At Maria’s door, Nora knocked again, but no response came. She knocked once more, concern growing on her face.

After a few seconds, she pushed the door open and strode to the narrow bed by the window where Maria lay on her back, sheet pulled up to her neck, eyes wide open, beads of sweat on her forehead, shivering slightly.

Nora knelt beside her. “Maria, can you hear me?”

The woman turned her head, blinked heavily, and nodded. “You need to take a pill.”

She shook her head. “Need to ration them. Don’t have… that many left.” “Can I do anything?” Ty asked.

“We’ll be fine,” Nora said. “Just give us a little space.”


Back in his stateroom, Ty lay on the bed and stared at the ceiling and listened to the hum of the airship. His mind wandered and eventually it focused on his mother. She would be in Peenemünde. Well, not his mother. The woman waiting for him was the mother he’d never had. In a way, she was like what Nora had faced in the Pax: a father from another world, who made different choices.

There was a soft knock at the door. A very Nora-like knock.

Ty smiled. “Come in.”

The door swung open, and she stepped inside, a slight grimace on her face. “Sorry if I snapped at you back there.”

“You didn’t. I understood.” Ty sat up. “Is she all right?”

“She’s scared. She wasn’t doing that great even in the museum. She knows she’ll have to perform in Peenemünde, but she doesn’t even know the songs. And she’s dealing with the physical addiction. She’s scared of that too.”

Ty could see the exhaustion weighing on Nora. Seeing to Kato and Maria’s needs had drained her. He scooted back on the bed and patted the space beside him.

“Take a load off.”

Ty stretched out next to the wall, Nora lying alongside him, both staring up at the ceiling.

“You’ve got your hands full with the three of us,” Ty said.

“Since the police came to my door that morning in Oxford, it’s been exhausting. But it’s also been exhilarating. Taking care of the three of you… it’s been so fulfilling for me, in a way teaching wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but somehow, I feel like this is where I should be right now.”

For a while, they listened to the carts rolling by outside the door and the airship’s engines rumbling beyond the window. Every now and then, the ship shuddered from the force of the wind.

Nora’s voice was reflective and light when she spoke. “What’s going to happen, Ty?”

“I don’t know.”

“You really think there’s something else going on here? Some greater plan at work?”

“I do.”

He was about to say that the Covenant being in both worlds was a factor he couldn’t reconcile, but that he was sure it was significant. Before he could elaborate, he felt the soft touch of her hand on his. His hand was palm down on the bed, and she covered it with hers.

“What do you think it means that we’re both part of this?” “As in…”

“We’re the only two of the four who knew each other before.” “I don’t know. But I think it means something.”

Nora tightened her grip on Ty’s hand. “When my dad disappeared, I was really lost. I wasn’t myself. It broke my heart.”

“It broke mine too.”

“But I think,” Nora said slowly, “I think mine’s starting to heal now.” “Mine too.”

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