“Look, we’re not the bad guys here.”
Vančura leveled a cynical gaze at the colonel, then raised his wrists and rattled the handcuffs.
“These restraints would indicate otherwise.
Bosze didn’t look amused. In fact, he looked more than a little irate.
“You did break into a secure government testing facility and monkey with a highly sensitive piece of equipment. The handcuffs are protocol, but I’ll admit, I enjoyed having you put in them.”
The big man studied him, a frown starting to develop, obvious even under the indomitable composure.
“You bribe a crooked judge and prison warden to kidnap us off the street chip us like animals, then force us through an experimental machine. And you aren’t the ‘bad guy’?”
Bosze’s grin was anything but pleasant.
“Hey, I haven’t done any of that yet. You can’t blame me for something I’ve done in the past for the future you came from, but that I haven’t gotten around to doing in the future for this present. Just now, the only criminal here is you.”
There was a quiet pause as Vančura considered that. Finally, he nodded.
“You’ve got this time travel problem down to a science, I see. Impressive. So, since I’m the ‘bad guy’ in this particular iteration of our first meeting, what’s next?”
Surprise bloomed on the colonel’s face, then he laughed.
“Oh, I never said you were the bad guy. You’re just the guy who broke into the wrong place on some mis-guided…”
He stopped, frowned, then stared at Vančura, eyes widening.
“Wait a minute. ‘Us’. You kept saying ‘us’, not ‘me’. Kidnap us, chip us, force us. Who is ‘us’? We sent someone else through the STAd with you, didn’t we?”
It w as Vančura’s turn to grin.
“Slipped out of me on accident, I’m afraid. The question you really ought to be asking, though, is who went through the knothole without me. Or, to put it a different way, who did I send through it?”
Bosze paled and he slammed a fist onto the intercom button on his desk.
“Benwright! Get down to the STAd and check it’s logs for the time immediately around the incursion! Move!”
He leaned back, staring at Vančura like he’d seen a ghost. The big man just chuckled.
“Makes you wonder who I sent through, doesn’t it, Colonel? In fact, if I were you, I’d be wondering very, very much. I might even be worried. If I were you.”
End Chapter 20– Part 1
Ah, Vančura… what are you up to? I gotta tell you, readers, Vančura is the the single most unpredictable character I’ve ever written. If I ever figure out what he’s planning, I’ll be sure to tell you about it, but don’t count on it being any time soon.
Also, Merry Christmas, one and all.
Want to read the previous installments? They’re right here!
Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three,
Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six,
Chapter Seven, Chapter Eight, Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten, Chapter Eleven, Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen, Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen