Chapter 46 - Once More into the Breach
Jeff looked at the package the Beast had had delivered. It seemed unlikely this single item could save the universe as they knew it, but there was little other chance. The world outside the walls was changing. Doubleday had insisted that the only reason they hadnít seen much change inside the walls was their knowledge of the problem and their belief they could solve it. Even so, the combined weight of twenty years of history weighed heavy on them and they did not expect to get a second chance at this.
The plan was simple, he was to go back in time and make sure that the photos were never seen by anyone at camp. He believed that once he did so, the future would be saved. He just wasnít sure how he would accomplish the feat. He knew how he would have planned it and knew there wasnít going to be much time for him to make any changes. They had toyed briefly with sending him back to a time before his displacement to set things straight, but Doubleday believed that would no longer work.
The paradox theories all suggested that the longer the paradox went unchecked, the harder it would be to repair it. In most cases, it was believed that time and the universe were self-correcting. What it came down to was that they had to return Rand to the event horizon and somehow prevent what had happened from happening again.
Jeff took a deep breath and settled back into the acceleration couch in the pod. He had never made a conscious displacement before and what heíd heard so far didnít do much to inspire confidence. Still, he had caused the problem and it was clear that only he could solve it. He looked up into the monitor to see his friends looking at him. He waved to them and they waved back. Suddenly, Donohue and Bollman were gone, and the others seemed not to have noticed. He looked hard and saw the room behind them changing.
There was no time to think; he was certain that the paradox had finally reached them. He stabbed at the initiate button and was thrown back into the couch as the pod accelerated and then winked out of existence.
Just as suddenly, the pod stopped moving and he realized he was back in 1998. He set the countdown timer to sixty minutes. The pod would return to the future with or without him. He did not intend to be on that return voyage, but he knew it was possible that he might have to be and he wanted to keep his options open. The return was set for eleven months prior to his departure. Doubleday felt that if he couldnít contain the event horizon, the best thing for him to do was to return to the future and try to somehow stop himself from sending the photos.
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