Any other characters are the sole creation and property of Shaun Hately.
This fanfic forms part of my series of fanfics, entitled A More Perfect Union, and takes place after the events of Second Chance in that series. In terms of continuity with the television series' the story takes place sometime after the events of The Living Stones (ie after the new series had finished). Many of the events of other fanfics in A More Perfect Union are referred to in this story and it may be helpful to have read them
At one stage in the story, a character quotes from the Bible - lest someone feels the need to point it out to me, yes, I know the quote is slightly incorrect - the character is quoting from memory.
Profound thanks are owed to Beth Epstein and Megan Freeman for their beta-reading.
Comment and criticism (good and bad) on this story is welcome. e-mail
me with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Thank you, Houston,” The young USAF Major leaned back in his chair and examined each of his computer monitors and status boards one last time. “Houston, this is NRO Oakhill confirming straight board green. We are go to accept control of satellite.”
From the speaker above his workstation, came the voice of a NASA controller. “Roger Oakhill. We have transferred control to you at this time. Houston signing off.”
On the vast monitor screen at the front of the room, a large satellite image of Great Britain suddenly appeared. Major Green reached for his keyboard and typed in the alphanumeric string that would activate the United States newest and most sophisticated space based ground penetrating radar. His hand hovered over the ENTER key. “We are go for test.”
A single word of command came from the civilian at the back of the room. “Radiate.”
He pressed the key and suddenly the satellite image of Britain was covered with hundred of pulsating blue dots and lines, as Sophocles I went into operation. The young woman who had given the order to activate the satellite moved next to him.
“Well, it’s pretty Major. But what does it mean?”
“Well, ma’am, all those blue lines and dots indicate subterranean structures within England - subway tunnels, mines, root cellars - virtually anything of man made origin that lies more than ten feet below the surface. There’s a computer in San Diego which analyses the signal and is able to determine which signatures relate to known or identified structures and filter them from our display. Look.” Already the screen was less cluttered, as objects analysed by the supercomputers were removed from view. “We can also set up the system to specifically show us any structures that we want it to - for example, we can tell it to look for missile silos. This is just a test - on Britain, for some reason, I’m not sure why.”
“That’s simple, Major - they are willing to let us test it on them as long as they are able to share in any data we get from the satellite - after all, it was their vote on the Security Council that allowed us to launch Sophocles in the first place. It isn’t dangerous of course, but since Damoclese everyone has been a bit reluctant to allow any major military platforms in space.”
The Major looked up. “Damoclese, ma’am?”
“Damn. Forget I said that. Forget I ever used the word Damoclese. It’s strictly need to know and you do not need to know.”
“Yes, ma’am. Well, the Experimental Weapons Establishment in England have set up a test for us - they’ve buried a barrel somewhere in the UK with a particular radar signature. We have to try and find it. San Diego knows the signature, and so they’ve set the computer to look for it. It should take about two or three hours for Sophocles to sort out the wheat from the chaff.”
“Call me when you’ve found it.”
The woman left. Major Green breathed a sigh of relief. Even after working for the National Reconnaissance Office for 8 years, he still didn’t like working under professional spooks.
The phone next to her desk rang. She removed her right earring and answered it. “Yes?”
“Ma’am - it’s Major Green. We’ve found the barrel.”
“I’ll be right there.” She picked up her earring and glanced at the clock. 2 hours, 13 minutes - not bad.
She walked down the corridors past the armed guards and into the control room. The view screen was once again dominated by the huge image of the British Isles, but there were only a few small traces of blue left on it. Blinking, somewhere near Cardiff in Wales was a red dot.
“That’s the barrel, ma’am - matches Halton’s specifications precisely.”
“Well done, Major - inform the EWE that we have passed their little test. I suppose this shows that Sophocles is operational.” Then she saw a yellow dot blinking on the screen in or very near London. “What’s that?”
“That? Oh, it’s something the computers can’t identify. It could be just about anything - an old collapsed building, a bomb site - anything.”
“Can you zoom in on it?” She leaned forward as if that would give her a close view.
“Sure, ma’am - but why?”
“Because there aren’t any other yellow dots on the screen - that makes that signature unique, doesn’t it? And a unique signature near London could be worth investigating.”
The large image of Britain was replaced by a large scale radar image of London. The light still blinked and she could now see that the signature was quite near the River Thames, west of the central part of London.
“How much can you zoom in, Major?”
“Well, we can get resolution down to about 100 metres - that’s about it.”
Her voice was quiet. “I want that yellow section as isolated as you can get it?”
Major Green tapped a few more keys. The whole screen was dominated by a 100 by 100 square area of London. A wavering yellow line, added by the computer denoted what appeared to be some sort of subterranean complex. “That’s as clear as I can get it ma’am.”
“Major, I need a secure phone right now.” She picked up the phone that
was indicated and dialled a number. “This is Meldrum, I need to speak to
the watch officer right now . . . Frank? It’s Jennifer Meldrum - there’s
something you need to look at . . .”
The young man left his tent and began to walk towards the small stream in order to fetch a drink. He had not slept well although he was not quite certain of the reason. Sleep had been coming harder and harder and when he slept he dreamt although he could not remember the dreams. He could have asked one of the others to mind merge with him in an attempt to remember but he found he didn't want to. What he did remember of the dreams was that they were disturbing and he had no desire to experience them in his waking hours as well as in his sleep.
He scooped up handfuls of the cool, clear water and dumped them over his head. He did so again and again trying to clear his clouded mind.
"You know, Adam, you're always welcome to teleport to my house to have a shower. I'm sure Dad wouldn't mind."
Adam turned and saw Megabyte walking towards him. The younger Tomorrow Person bore his normal irrepressible grin. Nothing seemed to get to Megabyte - at least not for any extended period of time. He seemed to have the ability to be cheerful under any circumstances and Adam was always happy to have him around for precisely that reason.
"Hi Megabyte. I'm surprised to see you here so early. Ami normally beats you by a good ten minutes - what happened to get you up so early? Did you wet the bed?"
"Nope - who do you think I am - Kevin? Actually, I've got some good news for you. Do you have any plans for Christmas? Mom wanted to know if you wanted to spend the day with us - if you can stand being that close to Millie, naturally."
Adam smiled. "Yeah, thanks, Megabyte. That'd be great. Thank your mum for me, and I'll be there."
"It wasn't just her idea. I think Dad brought it up. He said last night that he wanted to see you more - he feels like you've been ignoring him recently. I think there's something he wants to discuss."
Megabyte watched as Adam gave him a sick grin and then began to walk back towards the tent without a word. He felt and heard the familiar sound of someone popping into existence behind him.
"Gee, what did I say?"
"Pardon?" asked Ami, who was standing there carrying a towel and wearing a swimsuit - obviously seeking refuge from the cold weather back in England.
"It's Adam. I invited him to Christmas dinner at my house - and, from his reaction, you'd think my Dad was some sort of Grinch."
"What did you say?"
"Um - that Dad wanted to see him and discuss something. Then Adam just walked off. I don't get it."
Ami took a deep breath. "I'll talk to him."
She dropped her towel and walked over to the tent. "Adam - are you OK for me to come in there?"
She drew back the flap and entered. Adam was sitting in the farthest corner of the tent, his knees pulled up in front of him with his arms wrapped around his legs.
"What's wrong, Adam?"
"Nothing. Nothing at all."
"Come on, Adam - we're not idiots. I can tell something is going on. I want to help you." She suddenly had an insight. "Is this about the General? About him wanting to see you?"
Adam seemed to crumple slightly. "Yeah. Ami . . . how can I tell Megabyte we can't afford to trust his own dad. How do I tell the General that too. He's been good to me, good to all of us."
"I know, Adam. I know. I feel the same way." Ami sat down on Adam's sleeping bag. "Look . . . I think, maybe, I understand. My Dad . . . well, he's not really much of a father at all. You've lost contact with yours. The General has sort of taken his place, hasn't he?"
Adam shook his head. "Not really. It's not that exactly. It's just - well, you and I, yeah, we don't really have fathers in any real sense. Megabyte does. Do we have any right to ask him to give that up?"
"No, we don't. But we're not asking him to do that, are we? It's not his dad we're worried about, it's the people he works with - anyone of them could be some sort of enemy."
"It's the same thing. We're asking him not to trust his father. And, Ami, I'm not sure . . . I'm really not sure . . . if that's the right thing to ask him to do." Adam turned his head away. "Ami - I haven't trusted my own Dad for years. No real reason. I just haven't. And it's wrecked things for me. For both of us. I don't want to do that to Megabyte.
"I just don't know what the right thing to do is. And I don't know who else to ask. I can't exactly ask the General, can I?" Adam stopped, suddenly. "Sorry, I guess I'm laying all my problems on you."
"It's OK, Adam. I can take it - so can Megabyte. But I'm not sure what we can do. I don't have the answers for you - I wish I did. It wouldn't exactly be a good idea for me to base this on my idea of what a father's like either. You need to talk to someone," she paused. "Maybe Professor Cawston?"
Adam sighed. "I've thought about it, you know. He seems trustworthy. He took Amanda and Helena back to England and there hasn't been anything about what happened in the papers. And he did seem to know an awful lot about us already. But do I have the right?"
"The right for what?"
"To go and see him. To put our safety at risk by talking to a non-TP about us. Let alone a parapsychologist. I mean, we know so little about him. I'd ask the General about him - but that's the whole problem isn't it? Who do we trust?"
"I think it's you decision, Adam. You're the one who'll be doing it." answered Ami. "I know what I think - it's worth the risk."
"Let's ask Megabyte."
They emerged from the tent, and Adam saw the look of relief on Megabyte's face as he walked towards him. The red-headed boy spoke up. "You look a lot better."
Adam nodded, "Thanks. Megabyte - you know Professor Cawston? How would you feel if I went and spoke to him. If I tried to find out more about him and . . . got his advice on some things. I'll be careful."
Megabyte shrugged, "Hey, Adam, if you think it's a good idea - sure, I'm happy with it."
"OK. Well, I'll see you two later, then."
Adam crackled and snapped out of sight. Megabyte turned to Ami.
"Why don't you two come clean? You've been tiptoeing around the subject for months. I'm not stupid, you know."
"What do you mean?"
"Come on! You two have decided there's something fishy about my Dad. That he can't be trusted or something. You must really think I'm an idiot if I don't know that."
"Megabye, I . . ."
"It's OK, Ami. It really is. I know what you're thinking - all those people he works with, can they be trusted? I've seen it too - what about if someone like old General BS found out about us? I know the risks of anyone inside that spy world knowing what's going on.
"But he's my Dad, you know. He's not the best Dad in the world, sure. He was never home, he was always busy - he's on the first vacation he's taken ever and he can't tear himself away from London - but he's one of the good guys. He won't hurt us."
"I know, Megabyte. But it isn't simple."
"No, it isn't. But it's going to be a lot simpler for everyone if you quit worrying about my feelings. I know what it means to be a Tomorrow Person. Sometimes it means hard choices - I can take that. But you've got to include me, even if it might hurt. I know you and Adam worry I don't take things seriously. But I can if I have to. Trust me."
Adam materialised in the cold weather of an English December, and began to walk rapidly towards the old manor house which he knew contained Professor Cawston's research establishment. He was freezing - the clothing worn on a tropical island wasn't really suitable for the current conditions.
By the time he'd mounted the steps and entered the foyer of the house, he was moving at a run. His wet shoes slipped on the marble floor and he slipped and slided across the room almost crashing into the desk of the receptionist.
"May I help you?"
"I'd like to see Professor Cawston."
"Do you have an appointment?"
"No - do I need one?"
She opened a book on the desk in front of her. "May I have your name?"
"Um, can you just tell the Professor that Adam is here to see him?"
"Very well." She pressed an intercom button on her desk. "Professor, there's a young man to see you. He doesn't have an appointment but he says his name is Adam."
Over the intercom came an excited voice. "Please, Leslie - send him in."
She smiled at Adam. "Go through."
"Flippin' Dorset. I thought it was dull enough in summer - but that was nothing compared to winter. Now it's dull AND cold."
Kevin was complaining again - and it was beginning to get on Jade's nerves. It hadn't been her choice to come away from home and spend a week cooped up in a small cottage with the Wilson's. It was her mother's idea - her mother seemed to want to talk to the Wilson's about the problems of raising a telepathic teenager. So they had all come down to the coast for a short holiday.
And all Kevin had done was complain. Yes, the weather was not exactly the ideal for a week at the seaside, but there were some advantages to it - at least for those with a paleontological bent. She tried to put Kevin out of her mind and raised her small pick again.
"Do you really think you're going to unearth a dinosaur under all that rock?"
"Not a dinosaur - a pleiosaur. They have been found in this area, you know."
"Not for a million years!"
"More like 65 million years actually." Jade saw Kevin roll his eyes. "I would have thought if anyone had a reason to be interested in evolution, it would be us, Kevin."
"You weren't interested in it until three days ago! Now suddenly you want to dig up most of England trying to find a fishosaurous. I wish we were inside out of the cold." The last was plaintive.
Jade jumped down from her perch on the edge of the cliff. "They're talking about us, you know."
"Yeah - sitting around drinking tea and discussing their freakish kids while we sit around in the cold. If they don't want us around, why don't they let us teleport somewhere?"
"Because they don't want us doing that unless it's really necessary." Jade answered in perfect mimicry of her mother. "They're worried about us and want us where they can keep an eye on us. Adults - they just don't understand our generation."
Adam walked into the office. Behind a large wooden desk sat the Professor who rose to greet him. Bookshelves covered every wall straining under the weight of assorted books and ornaments, a raging fire burned in the fireplace and Adam moved over towards it in an effort to get warm. Professor Cawston noticed his somewhat bedraggled appearance.
“Hallo, Adam. I was wondering if you’d ever come to see me.”
“Hallo, Professor.” Adam looked around the room, searching for bugs of any sort. His eyes settled on a small switch near the teapot. Professor Cawston followed his eyes.
“It isn’t on, Adam. I assure you - no one will monitor this room, and there will be no recordings. And that’s the only bug of any sort in here - the office is swept every Monday. So what can I do for you?”
“I need to talk, Professor. I need to know what you know - and how you know it.”
The Professor looked pensive for a moment, sank down into an armchair, and then sighed. “Please sit down, Adam.” He waited for him to sit down in the chair opposite him on the other side of the roaring fire and then began to speak. “The first part is easy enough. I know you’re a Tomorrow Person, and I know what that is. You’re a mutation of the species Homo sapiens - you’re human but you’re a new type of human - Homo superior. Physically, you’re much the same as the rest of the genus - but you are capable of much, much more. You have the ability to instantaneously transport yourself from one location to another, you are able to communicate telepathically with other Homo superior over substantial distances, you can telekinese - that is, move objects with the power of your mind, and you may have other abilities I’m not aware of.
“But you are also limited. Your primary limitation, the one that makes you no real threat to the rest of mankind is that you have an inability to kill - if you were able to kill, you would very easily be able to dominate the rest of the world, and render extinct all of Homo sapiens. That’s what I know about you, Adam.”
“How do you know it?”
“I can’t tell you, Adam, I’m sorry. I’ve given my word on that.”
“To who? To other Tomorrow People? To the government?”
“Not the government!” Professor Cawston spoke with some heat, and then lowered his voice. “Never the government, Adam. I’ve known for 20 years precisely how ruthless a government can be with regard to anyone with special powers, and I will not help them to use you or anyone else. But Adam, I honestly cannot tell you where I obtained my information about the Tomorrow People. Not yet, at any rate. But I want to help you, Adam. I really do.”
“In anyway I can. Adam, it’s possible, for example, that you have powers you haven’t yet discovered. I may be able to help you find them and tap them. I can provide you with money, if that’s any help, or rather I can get the money for you from someone else.”
The Professor paused. “His name is Sir Christopher Harding. He’s chairman of Harding Holdings Incorporated. He also knows about the Tomorrow People - knows what you are.”
“How many people know about us?”
“More than you’d guess, Adam. Perhaps that will help to show you that we can be trusted. Adam - there are people out there who have known about the Tomorrow People for a long time. Ordinary people, just ordinary Saps who’ve kept your existence a secret, and done everything we can to protect you. We haven’t told people who you are - that you even exist. We can be trusted, Adam.”
“But you won’t trust me - you won’t tell me how you know about us! How can I trust you, Professor?”
“I’m sorry, Adam - but I can’t tell you any more. At least not yet. Hopefully, one day all will be made clear.”
Adam looked up at the mantle above the fire, looked at the ornaments sitting atop it. Most of them were mere curios, the type of thing you'd find in any office. But it was the item on the end of the mantelpiece, the end nearest to him that had caught his attention.
It was a cap - a peaked cap of the type worn by army officers. He stood up for a closer look and noticed that sitting next to it were two epaulettes bearing the insignia, two chevrons and a crown, of a colonel in the British army. Professor Cawston saw him looking at it.
"They belonged to a man I knew when I was younger. A man I admired in many ways. He taught me . . . he showed me what could happen if the military or any group was ever allowed to exploit psychic abilities. He also showed me what could happen to us if that was allowed to happen."
Adam touched the hat, and instantly, through his fingertips, he felt a slight sensation - hard to describe but similar in some ways to the feeling he'd had when he'd first healed Lisa back in the ship on the day he first realised he was not alone.
The sensation - it was like the echoes of thoughts were flowing through his arm into his mind. He felt fear, and guilt - the feelings of the man who had once owned the hat he now touched, he realised in wonder.
And suddenly he realised that he shared those feelings - feelings of fear, fear of death, and fears of failure. He bowed his head under the sudden realisation of those fears.
Behind him, Professor Cawston had also stood. He saw the young man, saw the boy slump and his arm began to reach out to touch Adam, to squeeze his shoulder. But he stopped, and waited, some sixth sense, some feeling of empathy telling him to wait.
Adam spoke quietly. "You're a psychologist. Can you help me with my dreams? Can you help me with my feelings?"
Professor Cawston nodded. "I'll do my best."
“We’ve broken through, sir.”
Frank put on his overalls and walked out of the workman’s tent and towards the hole in the ground that Worldex employees had been digging, trying to get down to the radar anomaly 150 feet below the surface. It had taken a few days of digging - so long that he was glad they were close to finished. No one could believe a gas leak could take this long to seal. And sealing off Kew Gardens was proving to be a public relations and logistical nightmare.
Jenny Meldrum, newly arrived from the US was waiting. She handed him a torch and they descended the impromptu mineshaft. They moved down through the wet soil, and Frank could feel the weight of the Thames only a few hundred yards away from him, threatening to wash into the tunnel at any time. It was cold and miserable in the tunnel already - he didn’t need thoughts like these as well.
Finally they arrived at the end of the tunnel and were faced with a solid wall - a wall constructed of some sort of metal. A man was standing next to it with a large laser cutter.
“Sir - I want your direct order to cut through. This is too weird for me - there’s no way that this could have got down here.”
Frank wished, not for the first time, that General Damon hadn’t gone on vacation. He knew the General hadn’t had any time off in nearly ten years, but it meant that he was left to make the decisions. He wondered if he should call the General but decided, once again, against it. This could still all be something minor - although that seemed less and less likely.
The heavily built man next to him, picked up the laser cutter and placed it against the wall. He depressed the trigger and a heavy whining noise erupted from the machine. The wall glowed and pulsed with energy as the cutter did its work. It seemed to be trying to protect itself against the cutter, but within ten minutes, the deed was done. The newly cut hole was exposed, and Frank climbed through it.
Into what seemed to be a storeroom of some sort. A large variety of tools, a card table, a ladder, racks on the walls devoid of the objects they had one carried. A few animal cages - a newspaper. He picked up the paper and Meldrum shone her torch on it.
“‘Iran Takes US Hostages’ - November 4th, 1979.”
He shone his torch around and saw a set of double doors ahead of him. He opened them and gazed into what at first glance appeared to be a living room. Wood panelling, yellow couches, a strange multi-domed coffee table in the middle of the room. A large screen dominated the opposite wall and as his torch moved around, he saw a slightly raised alcove between two corridors leading from the room.
Jenny looked past him. “Curiouser and curiouser.” She walked into the room for a closer look. Frank could feel his pulse racing. He knew that this was big - a very important discovery.
“Frank.” Jenny pointed to a folded envelope sitting on the couch. He picked it up and opened it - a letter of some sort. He read the first couple of lines and Jenny saw his face go quite pale. He put down the letter.
“We need to get the General here - right now.”
"Can you describe these dreams, Adam?" Professor Cawston was leaning forward in his chair as he asked the question.
Adam shook his head. "No . . . no, I can't. I just know they frighten me. They disturb me, but I can never remember why when I wake up. I just have the feelings."
"What type of feelings?"
Adam closed his eyes as he tried to summon up his feelings and describe them. "I'm unhappy - but that's not all of it. There's something else . . . guilt."
"What do you have to be guilty about?"
Adam shook his head. "This is a mistake."
"Adam - please tell me, so I can help you. Let me help you."
"My mother," the words came almost unbidden and very fast. "I killed my mother."
"You can't have!" Professor Cawston was adamant. "You're a Tomorrow Person. What do you mean you killed her?"
Adam took a deep breath. "It was three years ago. We were coming back from a short trip, me, my Dad and Mum. I'd been . . . well, I guess I'd been a bit of a brat and Dad wasn't particularly happy about it. I was in the back of the car and he turned around to give me another lecture, and something happened - he lost control of the car. We hit a tree.
"Dad was knocked out, and Mum was trapped. She told me to get out of the car and run for help. She didn't tell me how badly hurt she was - her legs were cut, but there were internal injuries as well. She just told me to run for help."
Tears welled in Adam's eyes. "I started to run, then . . . well, everything changed. I teleported - I broke out and suddenly developed all my powers. I'm fuzzy on exactly what happened. I can't remember it very well. I must have fallen into the sea - we all seemed to do that when we broke out. I passed out, I must have done, and I woke up on the island."
"Tapahini. It's where we go when we break out. It's in the South Pacific - don't go looking for it, though, I doubt you'd find it. It's very hard to get onto - and once you're there, it's hard to get off it."
"I didn't know what had happened, Professor. I had no idea how I'd got to the island. It was like a nightmare. I found - well, I thought it was a wrecked plane but it turned out to be a spaceship. I suppose that sounds crazy."
"Not at all - please continue."
"Somehow inside it, I knew what was happening to me - at least part of it. I realised I'd teleported to the island and I realised I could get off the island. So I got outside and teleported so I could get back to Mum and Dad. And I fell into the sea."
Adam's voice quivered with the effort of speech, the effort of not bursting into tears. Professor Cawston wanted to help him - wanted to take away his pain and spare him the ordeal of reliving it. But he suspected that Adam had never let his pain out and he knew he had to do that before he could fully heal. So he waited.
"Finally I got off the island - it took hours. By the time I got back, Mum had bled out. Dad was alive but - well, he'll be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life."
"Adam - what could you have done? You were trapped, stuck on an island. It wasn't your fault."
"I should have been there. I could have saved her. I should have been there."
"Adam - it wasn't your fault. You did all you can. You can't blame yourself for what happened."
Adam shook his head and gazed at the ground. "It isn't fair. I never even had a chance to say goodbye."
The Professor nodded. "No, it isn't fair, Adam. But sometimes life isn't fair."
"We live and we die. Those are the rules." As he said it, Adam looked directly at the Professor.
"If you want to put it that way. Adam, people die. It's not always anyone's fault. On the day your mother died - well, obviously things didn't work out the way we would have wanted. But it wasn't your fault."
"I should have done more, Professor. If I hadn't . . ." his voice trailed off.
"Hadn't what?" asked Professor Cawston, gently prodding.
"If I hadn't been a Tomorrow Person, if I hadn't broken out, she might have lived."
"I see. Do you regret being a Tomorrow Person, then?"
"No . . . no, I don't. At least I don't think so. But sometimes I wonder what it would have been like - what it could have been like."
"That's natural. We all wonder things like that."
"But this is different." Adam fingered the Celtic cross that hung at his neck. "A Communion present from my mother - I used to believe in God, once."
"Do you still believe?"
"No - well, maybe a bit. It helps sometimes. I keep remembering something my mother used to say - I think it was from the Bible. 'A time to live and a time to die' - something like that."
The Professor smiled. "'To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to love and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.'"
"That's it. Well, I know Mum believed it. If it was her time, then she would have gone happily. I just find it hard to see the purpose."
"Maybe one day you'll find it?"
"I hope so. But it does worry me, Professor. See, it's not just my Mum." He stopped.
"I'm wasting your time."
"No, you're not." The professor was as adamant as he had been before. "I want to help you, Adam. You have to let your feelings out."
"I know it does, old son. But you've got to let it out to heal. Can you remember anything else about the crash?"
"There was a man . . ."
"Yeah - he must have seen the crash. He was running towards us. When I disappeared - why didn't he get help? He could have saved her - but no one called for help for hours after I'd gone. He must have just let her die." Adam bowed his head, his hand on the cross around his neck.
"I'm sorry, Adam. It must be hard to think about that - it must be hard to understand how someone could let your mother die."
"But isn't, Professor. That's what worries me." Adam wiped his eyes on the edge of his sleeve. "I do understand. I almost did the same thing.
"It was only a short while ago. Megabyte's father was almost killed - he was lying there in hospital. And I tried to get Megabyte to leave him - to come with me. It was important, sure." Adam got a faraway look in his eyes. "But important enough to make him leave his father to die? I just don't know. Do I have the right to ask someone to do that?"
"Adam." Professor Cawston now, finally, reached out and put a hand on the young man's knee. "You are a Tomorrow Person. So is Megabyte. There aren't many of you and you do have responsibilities.
"I can't tell you if you did the right thing in trying to persuade Megabyte to leave his father. But I do know that what you are means you have to make tough choices. And if you start doubting those choices - well, you may put yourself and others at risk. A leader can be right - or a leader can be wrong. But a leader must never, never be unsure."
"I didn't ask to lead."
"No, maybe not. But could any of the others do as well?"
"I don't know . . . I guess not."
"Then it's your job. Until someone better comes along."
The young black man looked up with a start from his briefing screen as Janis, his assistant sped into the room as fast as his six legs could carry him. Kenny was surprised. It was very unusual to see anyone running through the council halls of the Galactic Trig. Things normally moved at a much more sedate pace.
"What is it, Janis? You know you shouldn't be running in here - it's almost as bad manners as jaunting."
"Apologies, your Excellency. But you must come quickly. It's urgent!"
"What is it - I'm not late for another appointment with the Chair-President am I?"
"No - it's Timus. He needs to see you right away!"
Kenny rose to his feet. "What about?"
"A message from Earth - the Lab has been breached."
"Find Ambassador's Smith and M'Bondo and get them to the Trig as soon as possible! Authority of Overmind."
In contravention of all protocol, Kenny placed a hand to his wrist and jaunted from the chamber.
"This had better be good, Frank. Mrs Damon is not pleased at me leaving the hotel in the middle of our vacation. I need to get back there as quickly as possible."
"Sorry, sir - but I thought you needed to see this."
The letter was thrust into the General's hands. He looked at his thick gloves, struggled with the sheet of paper and finally held it under his chin while he removed a glove. He unfolded the single sheet of paper and read it.
"Frank - seal the area."
"It's already sealed, sir - it has been for days."
"Good man - excellent anticipation." The General pulled a mobile phone from his pocket, and pressed a button. "Honey - it's me . . . yeah, I love you too . . . yeah, I wish I was back at the hotel with you and Millie . . . yeah, I know we were going to have lunch . . . yeah, I - honey, could you do me a favour? Could you look in my filofax and find out the number of the boarding house when the Wilson's and the Weston's are staying . . . thanks . . . OK, I got it . . . sure, I'll be back there as soon as possible . . . yeah, I know we're going to a concert tonight. I'll be there. Bye."
He pressed some more buttons. "Hello, Penny. It's Bill Damon here. I need to speak to Kevin or Jade right away. They've just come in for lunch? Great . . . Hi Kevin, it's General Damon. Can you get the others and all come to where I am - Kew Gardens in London."
Behind him, Frank had also dialled a number on his phone. "Hallo, Bennet's Flowers and Gifts? I need you to make up the biggest bouquet of flowers you can and deliver it tonight to Suite Four at the Ritz . . . the label should say, 'Sorry, honey, something came up. Enjoy the concert' - and sign it 'Bill'."
"Thank you, Professor."
"Adam, if you need to talk - any time, please drop in on me. I do want to help you. All of you - and I hope I have."
Adam smiled. "I think you have. At least a little."
*Adam.* Suddenly he heard Megabyte inside his mind.
*What is it, Megabyte?*
*It's my Dad - he wants us all to teleport to Kew Gardens. He didn't say why.*
*Something to do with the stones?*
*I don't know - maybe.*
*OK, I'm on my way.* Adam broke off the telepathic communication. "Professor - I need to go. General Damon wants to see us."
"Megabyte's father? There's a man I want to meet."
Adam paused. "Would you really like to meet him?" He thought for a moment. "I can take you with me if you like."
"Wouldn't I be in the way?"
Adam shook his head. "No, Professor - not at all. I want you there. I'm going to have to talk to the General and I'd . . . well, I'd appreciate your support."
Professor Cawston raised an eyebrow. "Very well. Do I need to do anything?"
"Just hold on to me."
Adam teleported, taking the Professor with him. In a blink of an eye, they found themselves in Kew Gardens. Megabyte and Ami were talking to General Damon, who was holding a small piece of paper in his hands, while Jade and Kevin were peering into a tent - next to the tent was a very large pile of earth and rubble. There was construction equipment everywhere.
Adam walked up to the General, Professor Cawston by his side.
"Who's this?" the General was looking at Professor Cawston. "No - wait, I know you - you're Ian Cawston, aren't you?"
"Yes - and you're Bill Damon? I'm very pleased to meet you, General."
"Hmm - likewise, I guess." The General turned to Adam and handed him the sheet of paper. "You'd better read this."
Adam unfolded the paper and began to read.
I call you that, although it is extremely unlikely that I have ever met you, and I sincerely hope that you are my friend. The survival of mankind requires that we are all friends, and that we eliminate enmity from the face of the planet.
I am writing this letter on the assumption, that you are like me. It seems a reasonable supposition. This lab will not be found easily or by accident, and so I must assume one of two things:
1) that if it is found in the near future, that the only people
who will find it, are those rare few who have advanced to a similar level
2) that if it is found in the distant future, that you will have likewise reached that level of evolution, but that rather than being a rarity, you are the norm.
Whichever circumstance occurs, I leave this missive to you and to posterity. It may seem arrogant to be writing in this way, but I believe that the possible importance of what I am trying to say, must override any modesty I feel at this point. And it would be false modesty. I am proud of what I am, and what I have accomplished. I also acknowledge my failure.
I was the first of my kind to survive on this planet, at least, I am the first that I know of, with any degree of certainty. It is perfectly possible, perhaps even likely, that there were others before me. But I was the first of my ‘generation’ to break out. Because of this fact, and because of my age, I have been the de facto leader of my people. I accept full responsibility for our failures but am perfectly willing to share any credit for our successes.
Who are my people? We call ourselves Tomorrow People. We are human, but we are not identical to the vast majority of the people on this planet. We number fewer than a dozen at the time of writing this letter, we of the species Homo Superior (a rough translation is Better Man). I did us not give us this name, and in any case, I feel that the Homo is far more important than the Superior. We are human, with most of the faults that entails.
I will not outline our powers here, those powers that set us apart from the bulk of mankind. Part of the reason for this letter being written is that such information is now in the wrong hands, the hands of people who fear us, and I will not compound our error. If you are like us, you already understand our powers and our limitations. I will however mention our primary limitation, in the hope that it may diminish the fears of non Tomorrow People. We cannot kill another human being. We are utterly incapable of it. I do not say this in order to suggest that we are paragons of virtue, for we are not, but we are not a threat to mankind in any way. We do not seek to rule the Earth, but to cherish her, to care for her. We are no threat to you.
If you are like me, you may wonder where we are, myself and the others. We are safe, and perhaps one day we will meet. I hope so. In the meantime the contents of this laboratory are yours to do with as you wish. Do I have any advice for you? All I can say, is make your decisions with your heart as well as your mind. Value your friends. In the final analysis, they are what is important. And remember, all mankind should be your friend.
I close this letter, with a plea to anyone who finds it. Cherish the Earth, or you will lose it. Mankind has a great deal to fear. But we, all members of the genus Homo, are a people with one of the most precious gifts in nature - Intelligence. We can use that intelligence to turn Earth into a Utopia. Utopia means ‘no place.’ We should change that meaning to ‘every place.’
Yours in hope and friendship
John Smith, 1-1-1980
Adam finished reading and took a deep breath. He closed his eyes, and sought to recover his equilibrium. Just reading the letter had made him feel dizzy - emotions began to well to the surface and he had to fight to keep them down, so he could think clearly.
"Where was this found? Where's this laboratory."
The General pointed to the tent. "There's a tunnel in there. I have to ask you to be very careful with what you find down there - some of it may be fragile . . ." He realised he was talking to empty air - Adam and the other Tomorrow People were already heading down the tunnel. Professor Cawston moved to follow, but at a nod by General Damon, he was grabbed and held by Frank.
"Let me go!"
"No, Professor - not until I know what brings you here."
There was a familiar high pitched tone as Elizabeth and John arrived almost simultaneously in the luxurious private quarters occupied by Timus. John gave Elizabeth a quick nod, as he descended from the Jaunting Pad to the floor. Kenny and Timus were sitting at the ornate wooden construction that served as a link table.
"What's going on, Kenny?" Elizabeth seemed annoyed. "I was within weeks of arranging a permanent treaty between the Thargons and the Sorsons - that's been put at risk now, they'll be most insulted I left in such a hurry."
John echoed Elizabeth. "I was in the middle of a formal reception for the new Criton Ambassador - I had to leave my dessert."
"Sorry, John, Elizabeth - but this is more important. The Lab has been found."
"Which Lab?" John and Liz spoke together.
"The one under Kew Gardens - the second one."
"Who found it?" John and Liz were taking seats in order to join the Link as John asked the question.
"We're not sure. We're in communication with TIM - but it's sporadic. Conditions for communication between Earth and the Trig are particularly bad at the moment."
*TIM? This is John - can you hear me?*
*Hallo John. Yes, I can, but communication is difficult. I cannot send any visual signal to the Trig. The Lab was breached at 1123 GMT today. My defences failed just prior to this time, for reasons I cannot explain. So far, several people have entered the Lab via a shaft dug down to the workshop.*
*Were they Tomorrow People or Saps?* Elizabeth asked the question.
*I cannot tell - if they were Tomorrow People, their minds are not trained to communicate with me, and so I cannot identify them. John - your letter has been found.*
Timus interrupted. "What letter, John?"
"I left a letter behind when we left Earth. I know it wasn't authorised, Timus - but I felt then, I still feel, that the Federations decision to evacuate us was in error."
"We can discuss that later. What did the letter say?"
"It told people about us - about the Tomorrow People."
Another message came through from Earth. *John - more people have just entered the Lab. These are younger people. I cannot tell if they are Homo superior, but they are young enough to have avoided the seeding preventing their breakout.*
Adam lead the way down the tunnel, and finally emerged into a room that looked like a storeroom. He looked around at the cages, the empty racks. Ahead of him was a set of double doors, and he headed towards them. Adam and Megabyte entered the next room together.
A large room, dominated by a raised podium ahead of them and to their right. Immediately in front of them was a couch, and beyond that a strange domed table - the domes brightly lit. Another couch was beyond it and then on the opposite wall, what looked like a large television screen. There were also two passages leaving the room on either side of the raised dais.
"Freaky." Ami had entered the room now flanked on either side by Kevin and Jade. The two younger Tomorrow People looked around in awe. All of them felt the same way - a feeling they had in only one other place, on the spaceship. A sense of profound rightness.
A sense of belonging.
Adam looked to the left and saw a large bench. It contained a large array of scientific equipment and looked very much like the labs he had used in school science. But it was the only thing that seemed directly familiar in this room - even though the room itself did have a sort of familiar feeling.
In the centre of the room, silent and watching, TIM waited. Waited for a sign that these people belonged here.
Behind the Tomorrow People, General Damon and Professor Cawston entered the room. The Professor looked around. It was not the room he had expected - it was much more brightly lit for one thing - but there were some areas that looked right. The podium was in the right position to be the jaunting pad - and that domed contraption in the centre of the room was close enough to be . . .
"Good afternoon, Professor." The soft cultured voice came from the table in the middle of the room, causing Megabyte who had been leaning against it gazing at the strange light fitting on the ceiling to leap away in fright.
The Professor took a deep breath. "It's been a long time. TIM - may I introduce to you - the Tomorrow People."
The Galactic Trig
*Professor Cawston has entered the Lab . . . I am talking to him now. John. Elizabeth. He says that the young people are Tomorrow People.*
John and Liz leaped to their feet. Elizabeth turned to Timus.
"With your permission, Timus."
The older ambassador hesitated for a moment. John saw this and looked straight at him. "Or without your permission, Timus. If you want to stop me, you'll have to call Proctor Detention."
Kenny intervened before matters could escalate. "By authority of Overmind, I appoint John Smith to be Special Ambassador to the Closed World known as Earth. We can sort out something more formal later on."
Timus nodded. "Thank you, Your Excellency. John and Elizabeth - good luck."
John and Elizabeth stepped up onto the jaunting pad and Timus initiated a transporter beam to Earth.
"Do you know what this place is, Professor?" Adam had turned towards Professor Cawston. "Does this have something to do with how you know about us."
"Yes, it does, Adam - but I'm not sure . . ." A strange, unearthly music began to issue from TIM, interrupting the Professor's words.
"What's that!?" asked Jade. "It sound like the music from Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
TIM answered. "It is the theme of the Galactic Federation."
On the podium, two forms dressed in ornate robes slowly materialised. A man and a woman stepped down, as TIM spoke. "Welcome to Earth, Your Excellencies."
"You can skip the formality, TIM."
"In that case, John - welcome home."
Professor Cawston stepped between the two older Tomorrow People and the five younger ones. At the back of the room, General Damon observed looking slightly apprehensive and even a bit afraid.
"Hallo John." The Professor shook the other man's hand in a firm grasp, and then he kissed Elizabeth on the cheek. "Hallo Elizabeth."
"Hallo, Professor," she smiled. "Are you going to introduce us?"
"Of course. John and Elizabeth - meet Kevin, Ami, Jade, Megabyte, and Adam."
The two generations of Tomorrow People moved towards each other shaking hands warmly. There was only one exception. Adam shook hands with Elizabeth, and was surprised at how warm her touch was and how friendly she seemed. But when John came to Adam, the older man suddenly seemed to stiffen, and the camaraderie he had shown the other Tomorrow People was not evident. He seemed to be uncomfortable around Adam.
Adam noticed this - and wondered at the cause. Suddenly the Lab which had seemed so warm and inviting seemed to chill a bit. He looked at the others and realised he seemed to be the only one who felt it. And he knew where it came from. John seemed worried about something - very worried. Adam stared at him, trying to work out why John seemed so uncomfortable in his presence. Then the older Tomorrow Person turned away.
Suddenly all the feelings Adam had discussed with Professor Cawston - the pain, the guilt he had felt when his mother died began to come back to Adam. In his minds eye, he saw the car crash. He couldn't handle the feelings - and he couldn't tell why they had suddenly come flooding back. But he locked them down hard - he didn't want the memories. He just wanted them to go away.
Langley, West Virginia
"Lieutenant Davis - do you have that report finished yet?" The Colonel stood in the doorway, looking across the room at the young woman sitting as a government issue desk in front of her computer. She didn't seem to notice him - or to have heard him. He asked again ."Lieutenant - have you finished that report?"
With the second question, Lisa suddenly lost her train of thought. For a moment, she had felt something - something profound, something telepathic. Her powers were fading - she'd known that for some time, and just as she was on the verge of something - the Colonel had snatched it away.
"Sorry, Sir. I was somewhere else."
"Is the report finished, Lieutenant or not?"
"No, Colonel, not quite."
"Well, you'd better hurry up - they wanted that report yesterday. Do you understand what will happen if we can't give the Committee some strategies to prevent people teleporting into secure areas soon?"
Lisa snapped - no matter how hard she worked, no matter how much she did, it was never enough for this loathsome man. And to make matters worse, she was sure his interference a moment earlier had caused her to miss something . . . something important.
"Yes, Colonel Masters, I know exactly what will happen if they don't get the report soon. They'll pull your parole and you'll wind up back in Leavenworth. Now just let me get on with it and I'll get the report finished . . . Sir!"
The Colonel gave her one of his irritating smiles. "Very good, Lieutenant - see that you do."
As he left the office, Lisa place her head in her hands and tried to recover the threads of her telepathy that she could feel lurking just out of reach. But while she could sense their presence, something, somewhere was preventing her making use of them. She gave a low sob.
"I want to go home."
"Adam! Come on, Adam - something's bugging you. Tell me what's going on?"
Megabyte was trying to follow Adam up the cliffs behind the spaceship but Adam was moving at a considerable pace and it was difficult to catch him - Adam's superior physical dexterity meant that the younger Tomorrow Person was left behind. Finally, Megabyte did the smart thing and teleported to be right in front of Adam.
"Come on, Adam - you've got to talk about it. What's going on?"
Adam sunk down against the bole of a tree. "I don't know - it was John, there was something weird about him."
"He seemed like a nice guy - a bit old, maybe, but he can't help that."
"Megabyte - he is a nice guy, or at least he was to you and the others. And Elizabeth seemed really nice as well. But John seemed to not want me around, to not want to be around me. I don't get it."
"I'm sure you're imagining it . . ."
"I'm not!" Adam's voice was sharp and brought Megabyte up short. The redhead sighed.
"No, I guess you're not. I saw it too."
"What has he got against me?" Adam's voice was quavering and Megabyte was shocked to realise that Adam was near tears. He put out his hand and grabbed his friends arm in sympathy. "I just don't get it . . . why was he like that?"
"Adam . . . geez, I don't know. But why is it upsetting you so much? Maybe the guy has a problem. Maybe . . . maybe he's jealous. I mean, it sounds like he was in charge around here for a long time and now he sees you. Maybe he thinks you've taken over?"
"But I don't want to take over! Megabyte - you know, when I saw him, when I realised he was a Tomorrow Person, I felt so relieved. We're not alone. But . . . he hates me, and I can't work out why."
"I don't think he hates you. He just seemed uncomfortable."
"But why. What did I ever do to him?"
John and Liz sat alone in the Lab. The younger Tomorrow People - the new Tomorrow People - had left, promising to return the following morning. Professor Cawston had gone off with Jade and Kevin to explain to their parents why they were returning home at midnight, and the General had suddenly remembered the concert he had missed, and was now back at the hotel trying to explain things to his wife.
"John . . . what's wrong. I know something is. Is it Adam?"
"Yes, of course it's Adam . . . Liz, I didn't react well around him. Every time I looked at him, I kept seeing that day on the island. Watching him jaunt, time and time again, desperately trying to get back to his parents and I could have helped him - but I didn't."
TIM spoke. "John, you had no choice. Peter prevented you from helping him. You cannot blame yourself for Mrs Newman's death."
"TIM's right, John. What else could you do? You had to follow Peter's instructions. You couldn't help Adam's mother."
"I could have helped Adam."
"How? His mother had to die - you understand why, don't you, John?"
"Yes, I do . . . but he doesn't. As far as he's concerned, he lost his mother and he doesn't know the reason why. Liz . . . I need to tell him."
"John, I don't think that is a very good idea." TIM sounded alarmed. "Telling Adam why his mother died could change history. Peter told you she had to die in order to shape Adam's personality . . . if you tell him that, you could disrupt that process."
"Well, what can I do? He must know how I acted around him. He needs to know why. I need to tell him something. Maybe I can just tell him part of it . . . I can tell him that I was there and I let her die, but not tell her why."
Elizabeth shook her head. "That might be even worse, John. He could end up hating you - you can't expect a boy Adam's age to understand someone letting his mother die."
John stood up. "It's better he hates me than him thinking I hate him. I'm going to talk to him. TIM, is he on Tapahini?" he asked as he mounted the Jaunting pad.
"I'll be back later."
"I still think this is a mistake, John." Elizabeth made one last attempt to dissuade John from his course.
"Maybe - but it's my mistake to make."
John jaunted away.
Megabyte looked up as the older man approached. "John. Hi."
"Hello, Megabyte . . . Adam, you and I, I think we need to talk."
Adam nodded. "Let's go to the ship."
John and Adam teleported together and in an instant were inside the main room of the ship. John looked up at the strange elevated seats that formed part of the vessels intricate communication system, and then sat on one of the side benches. Adam sat almost opposite him. There was silence for a moment and John spoke.
"I haven't seen a ship like this in a few years. The last time was in a Museum on the Galactic Trig - this is one of the earliest ships the Federation used to explore space."
"It may be old . . . but it's home to me."
"I know. Adam . . . you might have noticed, I'm sure you noticed that I was less than ebullient around you earlier. Part of that is my nature - I'm not a particularly warm and friendly person - but there was more to it than that."
"Yeah, I noticed. John - why? I mean, if you're worried I want to take over from you, forget it. You've lead the Tomorrow People for years, and I can handle that. I'll do what you say and I'll follow you - but . . ." his voice trailed off.
"But don't leave me out. Don't reject me. The others, they're the only family I have, and I need to be part of them, I need to be one of them - one of us. I'm a Tomorrow Person - I don't need to be in charge, but I need to be involved."
John shook his head. "Adam - I will never reject you. I will never exclude you. The problem isn't you - don't think that. The problem is me.
"In terms of leading - well, yes, I've lead the Tomorrow People for a long time. But I haven't done it alone - Liz has been there, and TIM. Carol and Stephen, and even Mike - I hope you'll meet them later. We've all worked together - we're strongest when we do. And I haven't always lead - there are times when I have given up and done other things. If someone else can do a better job, I'll let them."
He smiled slightly. "Adam - you've kept the others alive, and you've kept them safe. It's all anyone can expect you to do. It's all you can expect of yourself."
"So why are you so cold and distant? If I've done so well, why did you react the way you did?"
"Because I haven't been that successful. Because I haven't always got things right . . . and that's hard. There's something you need to know about me, Adam, and you need to know it about yourself too."
"Do you remember the day your mother died?"
"Yeah, of course I do."
"Do you really, Adam - or are there some things you don't remember?"
Adam's eyes widened. "How did you know?"
John's eyes closed. "I lost my mother too, Adam. I know how that feels. And I know it's hard to think about, but Adam - you have to face it to recover from it."
"I don't want to face it."
"But you have to, Adam - you have to remember what happened and you have to face it. We all do. I can help you face it, if you want to."
"How? I don't remember it."
"Adam - you know that isn't true. Nothing is ever forgotten, it's merely hidden, we can always recover the memory. Linking - I suppose you know what that means?"
The younger man nodded. "Yeah, mind merging, we've done it before. But why, John, why is it so important we do this?"
"You'll know when we've done it. That's all I can really say."
"OK, then. Let's do it."
The two Tomorrow People each mounted one of the chairs - Adam with ease, John with a great deal of reluctance. They both relaxed and both sought out the others minds.
Adam felt himself being drawn towards John's mind. In his own mind, he could see John's eyes, blue as steel. He felt himself drawn towards them and he felt the gentle caresses as John stroked his brain, opening up the locks that he had put in place. They opened . . . and he remembered:
The music was slowing as the batteries on his personal stereo began to fade, unable to take the punishment he had inflicted on them listening constantly, hour after hour, to the music trying to drown out the words and voices of his parents. He had a headache now and he didn't relish the resumption of hostilities that was bound to happen as soon as he took the headphones off.
Out of the window, he could see the country road, boring as all such roads with their dried grass edgings and occasional twisted gum tree. There was a person, a man, and he seemed familiar. Adam craned his neck as they passed trying to recognise the man. But he did not . . .
Or he had not then at any rate. Now it was clear, now he knew who the man was. It was John. Why was he there?
John's telepathic communication came to him *It was a coincidence, Adam, I was on Earth for my father's wedding. I happened to be walking there that day . . . no special reason, just one of those things.*
His father's voice interrupted his reverie. "Adam . . . Adam!" He looked up and saw his father looking over the back of his seat at him. Reluctantly he removed the earphones to listen.
"What?" Adam remembered the tone of his voice, and he cringed. Maybe if he'd been more polite - maybe if he hadn't tried to be so smart, his Dad would have paid more attention to the road. And then he heard his fathers reply.
"I wish you wouldn't listen to that thing all the time. Why don't you pay attention to your mother and me?"
Adam remembered the answer he was going to give and even though in his memories he now expected the lurch, it still came as a shock. He watched his father's head spin to the front, moving rapidly even in the slow deliberate motions his memories now took on. He watched his fathers hands grip the wheel as he fought to control the car. His Tomorrow People's mind saw every action and calculated the effects, taking into account every aspect of friction, torque and speed and he marvelled at how closely his fathers instinctive actions matched those he had calculated. But perfection wasn't good enough - there was no way the crash could be controlled. They hit the tree - still travelling at over 40 kilometres an hour.
Adam remembered. He heard his mother's voice full of frantic concern for him. "Adam, Adam, are you all right? ADAM?!" and he felt the tears well up at the sound of her voice - the voice that had imprinted on his mind at the moment of birth and that he would never hear again.
"I'm fine, Mum, I'm fine. Are you all right? What's wrong with Dad?"
"I'm all right, Darling, but I'm stuck, my legs are stuck underneath the dash board. I can't move them. Can you move? Can you get out of the car?"
"Yes, yes I can."
"Okay, Darling. Listen to me. You have to get help." That voice again, so calm and analytical. He listened for the sounds of pain, any clue that might have betrayed to him the seriousness of her injuries, but there was none. "You've got to run back down the road and get help. We passed through a town about a kilometre back. Run and get help. Please, Adam, can you do that?"
He heard himself answer. "Yes, yes, of course I can. Will you be all right?" He couldn't see her. He had to see her, but he was behind her and he couldn't.
"I'll be fine." Certainty in her voice - a certainty he knew was false, but still he couldn't hear any sign of it. His hands were fumbling at the seat belt and he left the car to try and get to see her. He had to see her.
But he had never got there, and in his memory that could not change. Before he had reached the front of the car, she had spoken in a very firm voice. "I'm fine, Adam. Just go and get help." He realised now that she had wanted him to go . . . that she had not wanted him to see her injuries. Her last thoughts had been for him.
He turned and began to run towards the town. Running towards him he could see John, concern etched on his face. Suddenly a pins and needles feeling enveloped his body. There was a flash of light.
And the memory ended.
He was in the chair. He climbed down and moved around the central pillar to where John stood waiting. Adam tried to speak, but his throat was dry. He saw the glass of juice in John's hand and he took it when it was offered to him. Then he spoke.
"You were there?"
"You let her die?"
John nodded. "Yes, I did."
Adam felt the rage begin to boil up inside him, the rage he had held in check since the day his mother died, the rage he had been afraid to release because it's only target had been himself. Now he had a new target and his anger attempted to come out. It was cold and it was hard, and it was like bile rising in his throat.
It came out as a sob - one single heartfelt sob of utter misery. The anger was gone - a killing rage could not survive in the heart or mind of a Tomorrow Person. There was a word in the sob - a single word.
John shook his head. "I can't answer that, Adam."
"You have to - how could you walk way from her? How could you walk away from me like that?"
"I can't answer you, Adam. I wish I could."
"If you can't answer, why did you make me remember that? Why did you put me through it? You didn't have to make me do that. I didn't know - I might never have known!"
"You had to know. Adam - you have to know who I am and what I have done. You are a Tomorrow Person, and so am I. We have responsibilities for each other and unless we are honest with one another we can't do what we have to do. I wish I could tell you why your mother died - but I can't. And I wish I could tell you why I did what I did, but I can't tell you that either. All I can tell you is that I had no choice."
Adam turned away from John and stared at the wall of the spaceship. His anger was fading. He remembered standing with Megabyte outside a hospital room, trying to persuade him to leave his father, to leave a man who could be dying, in order to help Adam save mankind. It had seemed the right thing to do . . . it had been the right thing to do. The General was in danger, but so was the planet - and Adam was responsible for the planet.
He turned again and faced John and saw the look of sorrow and anguish on his face.
"I need to know, John . . . was there a reason? Was there a purpose to her dying?"
John looked at Adam and tried to work out how to answer. A purpose? To the death of a parent. How did you answer such a question. He tried to frame an answer that would answer Adam's question without giving any information away that Adam should not have. His diplomatic training allowed him to run through many platitudes and formulae of words in seconds in order to arrive at the right response for a given set of circumstances. Finally he answered.
It was all he could say and he watched as Adam straightened before his eyes as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He put forward his hand.
"Let's try again, Adam."
The young man took his hand and the warmth as their hands met sealed their mutual wounds. Then John clapped a hand on Adam's shoulder.
"Let's go back to the Lab. There's things we need to talk about - things you can help me with."
"Sure. However I can."