Ashwin arrived at HRTS just in time for the meeting at nine o'clock the following morning. His mentor was already there, predictably. Ignoring the scolding look from his mentor about pushing it by showing so close to the start, Ashwin sat next to Dr. Fodds and looked ahead in an attempt to avoid eye contact. His mentor had a way of really making him feel like a failure when he cut it close where time was concerned. Ha ha ha, Ashwin thought, that was a good one. You know, because they studied the various dimensions in time and space, yet Ashwin had trouble being on time.
The meeting started as planned, though barely five minutes into it and an intern busted open the door, disregarding the stares of everyone in the meeting room, with the exception of the President of the HRTS himself.
"Mr. Altoid," the intern gasped, as if she had run from the laboratory, "There's a time issue in sector seven."
Outer space was separated into separate sectors so that scientists could keep track of any disturbances in the space and time continuum. Sector seven, in particular, was the very same sector that had had the time ripple that he dealt with last night.
Ashwin instantly turned toward his mentor to gauge his expression. Dr. Fodds remained straight-faced with the exception of his brow creased. Then Ashwin looked toward Dr. Altoid before explaining the time ripple that had needed fixing the previous evening. Once he had finished, Ashwin could tell that Dr. Altoid wasn't impressed in the slightest about the disturbance. Or maybe he just wasn't impressed with Ashwin. More often than not, the higher-ups tended to brush Ashwin off like he didn't know what he was doing. And even when Ashwin completed all tasks presented to him exceptionally well compared to his peers, he was still brushed over as if he were expected to perform at the highest standard without any encouragements or positive feedback. Almost like his older colleagues expected more from him than the others. Like he wasn't allowed to make mistakes like the other scientists his age.
At twenty-three, Ashwin had already set an incredible reputation for himself at HRTS that made it that much harder to impress the more renowned scientists that he worked with, including his mentor.
"What type of issue is it, exactly," Dr. Altoid questioned the intern.
The intern, whose name was Natalyn Madison, just sputtered out something about a disturbance. Ashwin wasn't surprised that Natalyn couldn't explain the issue since she was one of the interns that had gotten her internship at HRTS through familial ties. Her grandfather had been one of HRTS's top research scientists back in his day with the firm. In reality, though, Natalyn wasn't scientist material. She was more the type to end up working as an assistant or secretary after she completed her schooling and internship. HRTS usually always offered interns some type of position, though only the best were hired on as a scientist after interning. Most ended up as assistants before working their way up the chain. Ashwin had been one of the exceptions since he hadn't even submitted his resume after his internship ended when Dr. Altoid had offered him a position as a scientist under Dr. Fodds's continued mentorship.
"Fine, I suppose we'll have to reschedule for another morning," Dr. Altoid said. "Callahan, go figure out what the disturbance in sector seven is that Madison can't."
The way Dr. Altoid spoke of Natalyn sounded disdainful, like he had a bad taste in his mouth that he couldn't get rid of no matter how many mints he sucked on.
Ashwin stood and followed Natalyn out the conference room toward laboratory three hundred five. Upon arriving, Ashwin wasted no time in zeroing in on the disruption that had occurred in sector seven and was able to deduce that it had been caused through a back door opening up in space to pull objects, or people, from one time to their present. That sort of thing happened, but the last time he could recall was years ago when he had been in his first year of university. It had been headline news in his campus's weekly newspaper.
And with a bit more coding, Ashwin discovered that whatever, or whoever, had been pulled through space and time had initially been in the past. He couldn't tell for sure what year, though the estimation that cropped up was between the years of 1935 through 1945. Though he already knew he wouldn't be able to get any information on location. The only way he would know what, or who, had been pulled through was if anything, or anyone, was discovered that triggered the suspicion of the Intergalactic Time and Space Travel patrol.
"Did you figure it out?"
"Of course I did," Ashwin said. "Do I look like an idiot?"
"And what, I am?"
"You said it, not me."
"I'm a lot smarter than you give me credit for, Callahan."
"Yeah, that's why you explained the issue oh-so-eloquently to Altoid," Ashwin said, sarcastic. "Maybe you should find another career field you're better suited for because science isn't for you at all if you can't even pinpoint where a disturbance originated."
"You're such a know-it-all asshole."
"At least I know what I'm doing versus winging it and only able to keep interning because of what a brilliant mind your grandfather had been before he retired."
"I'm just as smart as my grandfather."
"That I will believe when you can decipher where a disturbance came from."
Then in walked Dr. Fodds, successfully breaking up their banter.
"Did you figure out what caused the disturbance yet?"
"Yeah, I did, as a matter of fact," Ashwin said, puffing out his chest. "Apparently something or someone got pulled through time from the past. Locations can't be pinpointed, though, which is to be expected."
"Are you sure?"
The pair of them shared a silent glance while Natalyn sat down on a stool and took out her communicator to text while she was supposed to be working. Interns who thought they could get away with having their communicators on them while clocking in hours drove Ashwin crazy. If it was up to him, he would confiscate the communicators until the end of the day.
"Madison, get off that silly device," Dr. Fodds said. "I need you to type up an incident report for this."
Incident reports were usually written by interns, but Ashwin would have preferred any other intern for this particular incident. Or any incident for that matter. Natalyn's incident reports were filled with errors and typos. He actually would rather write one himself than her, and that was exactly what he propositioned.
"You have more important things to do than spend an hour writing a report that an intern should be more than capable to fill out," Dr. Fodds scolded. "In fact, you need to check on the space travel gates in a couple of the sectors that had been opened through the night to ensure no additional incidents had occurred."
Ashwin gnashed his teeth. "Fine." But the moment Dr. Fodds had exited the lab, Ashwin was turning to face Natalyn, telling her that he would write up the report. All Natalyn did was shrug her shoulders before slumping over the chrome table while still perched on the stool, pulling her communicator back out now that Dr. Fodds was gone.
He left the lab and headed toward his own, which was laboratory seven hundred fifty-four. He swiped his badge to get in and headed straight toward his desk before pulling up a lighted, floating LCD by flipping the ON switch that was on the panel that stood on the left side of his desk. He wrote up a detailed report that took him a good hour and a half before he was able to look into the space travel gates in sectors twenty-seven, five, and sixteen. Only a few incidents, none requiring the expertise of HRTS.
Then he spent the rest of the morning before his lunch break flipping through various sectors on the LCD panel, keeping his eyes peeled for any disturbances that cropped up in outerspace. His mind wandered toward what could have been pulled through from the estimated time period. If it had been in the early 1940s, then WWII had been occurring.
He had always been fascinated with how soldiers had fought wars without all the technological advancements that had been made to fight battles. Now if a battle occurred, it happened in outerspace where no innocent civilians would be injured or killed in the crossfire. Either way, the soldiers of today were more protected than they used to be. There had been greater risk.
After lunch, Ashwin spent the rest of the day typing up a journal he was in the middle of writing based on his research that revolved around time ripples. No scientist could explain why time ripples happened. All that was known was how to close them up. But Ashwin felt positive that if they could figure out how ripples originated in the first place, then there was the possibility of stopping the ripples from happening. Until they discovered what caused the gaps in time that appeared in space, Ashwin would be forced to hypothesize and anagonize over whichever formula he needed to prove that ripples could stop forming.
Delilah had no clue as to what could be done by way of returning back to London, nor why they were no longer on the ship. She and Molly had been talking in whispers with the others in a corner of the library, hiding from the librarians and patrons. But now Delilah held little Alice on her lap, rocking the child back and forth in an attempt to sooth her. So far it had been working quite well. The girl had fallen asleep and Delilah was jealous of how simple life was to a child so young, even when things blew up.
"I think we need to take our chances with the librarian now," Molly said. "What's the worst she could do? Report us? It still wouldn't be worse than what we just went through by somehow escaping that ship with no memory of how we had done so."
"But what if she can't explain what we're doing here?" James asked.
"Well, she won't know why we're here, obviously."
"Then what's the point in asking her?"
"The point," Delilah said, speaking softly so not to wake Alice or Renee, "is that we can gauge what normal is for this time."
"Delilah has a point," Molly said.
"But Lila," Thomas said, "we can't just go around blurting that we're lost. Forget the fact that we were on a ship and now we're without any memory of how we got off. What if we end up in an asylum for the insane?"
"We'll just have to be careful about what we tell about ourselves to strangers, then."
Delilah told the others to stay there while she approached the librarian since she was the oldest and therefore needed to look out for the others. She was also the only one who was legally an adult at eighteen years old. The only reason her mother had shipped her off along with her thirteen year old brother was so that she could keep an eye on him. Ensured that Thomas would give the foster parents no trouble.
The librarian looked up from her desk. Upon looking up, Delilah noticed that on the surface of the granite desk was a window of some sort with pictures of numbers, letters, and images scrolling in a vertical succession. All it took was a single tap of the librarian's index finger for it to pause.
"Yes, how may I help you, young lady?"
"I'm a little lost," Delilah said, "I was wondering if you could tell me where I am."
"Why, you're in York," the librarian stated. "The leading city of New United States. Where, may I ask, are you coming from?"
Delilah only gasped. They were in the states. The United States of America. But that was impossible. They were supposed to be in Canada. And the librarian wanted to know where they had came from. "Canada," Delilah said, saying the only place she was currently thinking and hoped that Canada wasn't terribly far from York.
"My, that's a good few hours drive from here," the librarian said. "Are you just passing through?"
"Yes," Delilah said. "Also, one more question. What day is it?"
"Why, it's Tuesday, June 18, 2537."
Delilah was speechless. All she could do was turn and head back toward where the others were still seated, waiting for her. It took several minutes after she had sat back down before she was able to tell them that they were no longer in their present time. That somehow they had been catapulted several centuries into the future. It explained why there was so much of the current time that none of them recognized. It seemed more like a new world that they had stumbled into instead of Earth.
Deciding for them, Delilah led the rest out of the library where they walked along a raised platform that looked similar to a sidewalk. Some buildings Delilah could decipher based on the generic titles, the heading flashing in electronic, bright lettering in midair at about three quarters up from the front entry doors of each building.
It was a whole other world. Their future, yet it wasn't. They would no longer be living if they had not been sucked forward through lightyears of time. But now that they were in the future, Delilah had no clue how they would get back. Time travel wasn't possible in 1941, and she had no clue as to whether there was even an iota of possibility here in 2537. There was no way of knowing until Delilah was able to find people they trusted. People that wouldn't think them crazy if they started sprouting out things like being from the past.
"Where are we going, Lila," Thomas said, being the first to break the silence that had encompassed the group since leaving the library.
"Not sure," Delilah said.
"That makes me feel so much better."
"None of us know where we're going," Molly said. "We're all feeling our way around in this unfamiliar world."
"I want my mummy," Alice cried, sticking her thumb in her mouth.
Molly hugged her closer, still carrying her. The girl had still been asleep when they had left the library, but had chosen that moment to wake. "I know, sweetie," Molly said, shifting the child to her other hip. "We all want our mummies, but for now we're going to have to figure out our way around on our own."
Then, as sudden as if struck by lightning, Delilah noticed the building that stood across the highway, or airway since there were flying cars that had been zooming back and forth in midair above the ground. Across from where the group stood was a building titled the Head Research of Time and Space.