Chapter no 77

Quantum Radio

The next morning, Ty lay in bed after he woke, watching Nora sleep. Her face was nuzzled into the crook of his neck, her breath nearly silent, tickling his skin under the covers, which were piled high upon them. There was a slight chill in the stateroom (the airship’s heating and air conditioning was a minor shortcoming that they had easily overcome the night before).

They had left the shade up. Ty knew the heat and light of the rising sun would wake Nora soon, but he wanted to let her rest. He wasn’t sure when their next good night of sleep would be.

Soon, she opened her eyes and looked up at him. “You let me sleep.”


“You always let me sleep. On top of you. Trapping you.” “I don’t mind it. I like it.”

She pushed up off the bed, taking a sheet with her to cover her body.

Ty rose, went to the bathroom, and returned with a towel wrapped around him. Nora sat at the small table, pulling her clothes on.

He felt the ache and fatigue that he usually experienced in the mornings, though the time and stress in that prison cell in the Pax had made it worse, he thought.

The bottle of pills was by the bedside, and he wanted to reach out and take one—but not in front of her.

To his surprise, Nora seemed to read his mind. She grabbed the pill bottle, unscrewed the top, and tilted it until one slid into her hand. She held it out to him. “You need this, right?”

He took the pill and swallowed it down with some water from the glass by the bed.

“It’s okay,” Nora said. “You shouldn’t feel sheepish about taking those pills in front of me.”

“I don’t like you seeing my flaws.”

Nora stood and took his face in her hands. “It’s not a flaw.” Ty laughed. “What is it then?”

“The most natural thing in the world. Every human being alive takes actions to care for their own health.” She nodded at the pill bottle on the bedside table. “One of your health routines, right now, is to take those pills. Maria takes a prescription medication for her health too. In the past, so have I.”

Ty bunched his eyebrows and opened his mouth to ask about that, but Nora waved him off. “And no, I’m not going to tell you about it right now, because right now we’re talking about you.”

Ty smiled.

“For now, I’m your doctor too,” Nora said. “You have to be able to talk to me about your health. The entire team is depending on you.”

“All right. But I’m not going to like it.”

Nora laughed. “Of course. That’s your right—do logical things for your health and not, for one single second, like it.”

“I’m glad we’re on the same page.”

“Well, then, Mr. Not-happy-about-improving-his-health, how have you been feeling?”

Ty turned. “Honestly, pretty good.” He pointed to the pill bottle. “I don’t know what’s in those pills, but they work. Better than the combination I was using before. And frankly, I’m a little nervous about what I’ll do when I run out. My father wasn’t exactly forthcoming about what was in it.”

“You’re not the only one with that fear.” “Maria.”

“Yes. But we’ll figure that out after Peenemünde.” Ty shrugged. “If there is an after Peenemünde.”

She grabbed his chin and gently lifted it and smiled at him. “Hey. No negativity. This is going to work. Believe it. And then we make it happen.”

A knock at the door drew their attention. Ty reached down and tightened the towel around his waist before opening the door. A young, uniformed staff member stood in the hallway, eyes alarmed at Ty’s partial lack of clothes.

“Sir, we’re on approach. We’ll be moored in about two hours.” “Thank you,” Ty said as he closed the door.

Nora’s expression grew serious. “Are you ready?”

Ty nodded. “I’m ready.” He shrugged. “Well, as ready as one can be to infiltrate a Nazi weapons facility in an alternate universe.”

“You know what I feel like?” “What?”

“Like I’m on a roller coaster. That moment when it’s been tossing you around but you’re okay, and then it slows down and it’s climbing the final hill for something that is about to get totally out of control, and you get this nervousness that won’t go away.”

Ty smiled. “Yeah. I get that feeling too.” “You know what else I’m feeling?”

Ty squinted. “Unsure about what happened last—”

“No. Not one bit. I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.” Nora smiled. “The other thing I’m feeling is hungry. Let’s get breakfast.”


A few hours later, Ty, Nora, Kato, and Maria were standing in the office of the Pax ambassador, inside the Pax Humana embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A special forces operative stood beside the ambassador’s large mahogany desk, reading the paper they had brought. The man squinted, shook his head, and then looked up at the group.

“Is this a joke?”

“It’s not a joke,” Ty said.

“You want us to kidnap a South American citizen who is not a known Covenant operative, who is in fact a global celebrity that everyone would listen to about being kidnapped—abduct her from her home—and simply keep her here until you tell us to release her?”

“That’s accurate, Major,” Kato said. “Do you have a problem with that?” The man sighed heavily.

“We don’t really care how you get it done,” Kato said. “Buenos Aires is your theater of operation, and you have the local expertise. I would suggest acquiring her tonight and being very careful that she doesn’t know that it’s the Pax behind it. Obviously, within an hour of taking her, you should smuggle our version of Maria into the residence so that she can resume the real Maria Santos’s life.”

When everyone else had left the ambassador’s office, Nora closed the door and turned to the woman, who looked to be in her sixties. The ambassador had white hair that was tied in a bun and wore glasses that were perched near the tip of her nose.

“There’s something else this mission needs,” Nora said. “It wasn’t in the briefing.”

“Go on,” the ambassador said.

“Have you ever heard of a medication called methadone?” “No.”

“It may be called something different here.” “What is it?”

“It’s an opioid.”

It was clear to Nora that the woman knew what that was. Her eyebrows bunched together, and she studied Nora more closely.

Maria had spent an hour with Nora on the airship, applying makeup and cutting and dying her hair. Nora was also wearing large non-prescription glasses, but the way the ambassador was looking at her it was clear she saw recognition there. Did she know this world’s Nora?

“While it’s in the same category as heroin and opium,” Nora pressed on, “methadone can also be used as a cure for addiction. It blocks the high from other opioids while giving a similar feeling, alleviating withdrawal symptoms and cravings.”

“It’s for the singer? Or you?” “I can’t say.”

“Why not?”

“It’s part of my job.”

The ambassador studied her again. “Are you related to Robert Brown?” Nora inhaled. “Distantly.”

“This business of yours, this mission, it’s a strange affair. One I don’t understand. But I also know that the Pax is dying. Without a change, and a big change, we will be wiped from the map. I’ll try to find this medication for you. And if I can’t?”

“I’ll make a list of alternatives, like suboxone and naltrexone. Thank you for any help. This could save someone’s life.”


Six hours later, Nora sat in the basement of the embassy, staring at a video feed of this world’s Maria Santos pacing in a holding room, yelling at the ceiling, “What do you want from me?”

Their operation to stop a war that could destroy the entire world had officially begun.

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