Chapter 10 -- Back to the Future
McGrath and Radke didnít expect a heroís welcome on their return, but they did expect some sort of recognition. Instead, they found themselves on the landing pad alone, met only by a tech. They took Randís still unconscious form down to the infirmary and left him in the care of the doctor on duty. They then headed to the debriefing room to make their report and receive further instructions.
When they reached the debriefing room, they found it in a state of mild chaos. Operational people and Continuity Staffers were gathered around a huge table arguing with a number of Paradox Theorists. McGrath was surprised to notice that Mike Doubleday was among those present.
He knew from his readings that Doubleday was considered the father of modern paradox theory. His presence here could only be a bad sign. Downes noticed their entrance and motioned for silence. He gestured to two chairs at the end of the table and the two officers took their seats.
Downes spoke first "Gentleman, as you are all aware, our operatives journeyed into the past in an attempt to end whatever Paradox Rand created. As you know, their mission failed." He paused for a moment to let his words sink in. "In fact, we are now reading the Paradox at .97, and unless we are able to make drastic changes in the next forty-eight hours, the event will become irreversible. Lt. Radke, will you please explain, in detail, what happened on your mission."
Radke launched into his mission report, pausing only to answer a few questions from the assembled group and to occasionally allow McGrath to interject with his own observations. At the end of his report, everyone was silent for a moment.
Doubleday spoke first: "Obviously, you did nothing to correct the paradox; you acted correctly in that regard. What is puzzling is how you could have created any additional paradox by your actions. It is possible that Rand originally took some action that reduced it before you interrupted him, but that seems unlikely. My own suspicion is..."
At that moment, the phone rang and Downes picked it up. He listened briefly and grunted acknowledgment a few times. Everyone waited patiently for his call to end. Finally, he hung up.
"Gentleman, it appears that we intercepted the wrong Jeff Rand. The additional Paradox must have been created when you snatched the 1998 Jeff Rand and brought him forward to the future. Heís in the infirmary now, and heís regained consciousness. Doubleday, Radke, youíre with me. The rest of you try to figure some way out of this mess."
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