Paradox Metaphor
Chapter 2 -- Covert Activities
by Steve Donohue

Jeff carefully removed the battery pack from his flashlight and let it fall gently onto the table. He set down the flashlight and began carefully peeling back the duraplast exterior of the batteries to reveal a compartment within the battery. It hadn’t been easy to make this thing, but it was essential to his plan. The battery pack was the only place he could hide it, since it would have been detected anywhere else in his gear.

He tipped the case forward and a tiny box fell onto the table. He reached down and began unlacing his boots. Once he had both laces free, he pulled back on the aglates to reveal a tiny jack in each one. He plugged one end of each wire into the tiny box and then moved to the control panel.

He popped the panel open and began checking the wiring harnesses until he found the pair he wanted. Pulling out the jacks, he replaced them with the leads from his own device. He set the device down on the bottom of the panel and then closed the panel door.. He sat back in his command chair and initiated the return sequence. He smiled a very satisfied smile when the panel display showed him his destination and displacement.

Seconds later he braced for a jarring ride as the temporal displacement initiated.. He endured about a minute of intense vibration and pressure before the capsule finally stabilized and the ride became smoother. He turned on the entertainment system and listened to Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries as his plans finally came to fruition. Just as the song reached its crescendo, the distortion alarm sounded and the capsule again began to vibrate. Jeff knew it was pointless to try and continue listening to Wagner, so he turned it off and hummed the War of 1812 Overture to himself.

Finally, the capsule came to rest and Jeff examined the geo-locator. He was less than 20 meters from his destination, not bad considering how far he’d come, but not as good as he’d have liked. He’d have to examine his program when he got home and find the bugs. He unbuckled the safety harness and moved to the back of the capsule, pausing only to grab his flashlight. He screwed the end cap back on and left the capsule, heading cross-country at a pace that belied his advancing years.

He spotted them easily, making a lot of noise and shining flashlights all over the place instead of in the old box they were examining. He took a few snapshots using the camera concealed in the head of his flashlight and then moved away quickly, knowing he didn’t want to get involved in what came next. The procedure was repeated for several days, with him following the group covertly and taking snapshots whenever he could.

As they packed to go home, he took one last shot and then headed up to the capsule. Once there, he strapped in and initiated a second displacement, this time to a more urban location. He entered the store carefully, trying not to say or do anything that would call attention to himself. He handed over the film and paid the extra $20 for "overnight" service, smiling at the thought of the extravagance. He spent a restless night in the capsule before returning to collect his photos in the morning. Returning to the capsule, he initiated his third displacement.

Perhaps the algorithm wasn’t so bad after all, because this time he landed only 3 meters from his destination, just outside the walls. He opened the equipment locker and removed the sampler from the geological evaluation kit. It was a marvel of technology really, designed to drill beneath the surface and extract a core quickly and easily. He carried it out to the site and switched it on. He had to work fast to avoid discovery. He’d have preferred to leave himself more time, but he didn’t want to leave Donohue any chance to make good on his threat. He completed the first core, then extracted it and tossed it down the steep bank of the hill. He took several more, each one widening the whole until finally he could slide in the envelope in its specially made hermetic enclosure. Finally, he slid the vessel in and began hurriedly packing some of the cores around the holes. A light snow had begun to fall, and that would help to camouflage his work.

He could hear the sounds of the war horns and knew his time was limited. In a few minutes, they’d be here and all would be lost. Working quickly, he stuck the remains of the third core back in the hole so it would be at least partially camouflaged, then headed back to the capsule as quickly as he could. He considered staying to watch but decided it would be too risky. Instead, he initiated his fourth non-sanctioned displacement and returned to the Pleistocene. From there, he would be able to clean up whatever tell-tale signs he might have left in the capsule

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