The effects of the test were widespread. The missiles had landed exactly where Jim had stated. The dots representing elements of each letter were perfectly spaced. Each "T" was identical with another in size and spacing. Ground zero of each impact was perfectly located to spell "THIS IS A TEST". Granted, the elements of each letter were craters on the moon of somewhat varying sizes, but each of these craters formed a large circle. All of the 102 circles were spaced perfectly, to allow people on earth to read the message. Earth observatories could easily make out the message, and the television networks did a very thorough job of telling the world all about the test.

 

As Jim had anticipated, his support strengthened, and the US Congress voted overwhelmingly against the President to give Jim the support he needed. General Armstrong was secure in his position again, and was urged to run for the White House. Several other nations joined in giving Jim support. 

 

The stock market took to the sky again, and Jim's billions compounded. He had quite conveniently bought into the contractors that would benefit most from his endeavors. Over the next several weeks, he and Antiope secretly roamed the high seas on the Dutchman retrofitting submarines. The Navy did not advise the President due to a special defense emergency bill, which passed against a presidential veto. States were threatening to secede. Congress voted to maintain an independent submarine command, which would be subject to congressional activity and could act independent of presidential authority. General Armstrong explained to the congressional committee, that the submarines would be able to make quick short-range strikes against any star cruisers within twenty-five miles of the earth's surface. He explained about the space mines and had his technicians wow the congressman with the impressive dynamics of these new systems.  He explained about the possibility of a first strike against the satellites and then summed it all up explaining the strategic necessity of the submarines. Jim tells me that she is terrified by the thoughts of our attacks from the sea. She is well aware of how effective the oceans are at hiding a fleet.

 

Shady maintained a low profile while effectively maintaining her Florida operations. The fact that Jim and Antiope were staying on the oceans made it very difficult to get any of her agents near them. She had no operating agents in Hawaii. Jim was quite effectively screening the islands, and no Venetian had the desire to go there again.

 

Throughout the land, religious cults would lend significance to these new visitors. Pagan and witchcraft cults envisioned a new age where Isis would rule the world. The more traditional religions were at a loss to explain the new occurrences. Everyone seemed to understand truth, integrity and honor as promoted by Jim, but he claimed no divine association and as such he played down the importance of his role in human destiny. Jim was quite aware of the pagan interests though. The myths from the ancient days had provided him with the evidence of possible Venetian tinkering with earth's past.

 

The pyramids and the Sphinx intrigued Jim greatly. He was quite aware of their apparent importance with respect to the ancient Egyptians intrigue with the stars. Genie had made several remarkable observations concerning ancient hieroglyphic texts. Jim had conducted a brief study of Egyptology and was dead certain that Isis had been there.

 

As such, it seemed her presence in the past was a given. John had given her the Pegasus, and he had run a default program to land Pegasus in ancient Egypt. Jim realized he was at fault then for his sister's interference in earth's past; or could he call it interference. She was earth's past.

 

Jim had been more than superficial in his studies of earth past. He saw in history the demise of Egyptian beliefs to the traditional religions. All the myths were tall tales of what actually happened, but something had triggered the myths, and the pyramids themselves were certainly no myth.

 

Apparently, he would have difficulty trying to relate to earth exactly how he fit in with earth's destiny. How could he explain his role now to these people, when he didn't know what was going to happen to precipitate these events?

 

Paradox upon paradox. He remembered John's remark of another day. His very existence was at stake as well as the fabric of space-time itself. Jim wondered if he really had any free will, or if he was just playing a part in destiny. He knew current speculation was useless, and he would just have to see what developed.

 

Soon, he would have outfitted the necessary numbers of missiles. General Needhymen thanked Jim for the laptop. He said that the boys at MIT and Harvard were indeed impressed, and JPL was designing a prototype ionic drive.  Technological innovation had received a jump-start as well. Jim found himself nominated to the Board of Directors of many of the companies that he had bought stock. Antiope accepted a few positions, but Jim refused all positions. Jim had to repeatedly remind Antiope of the ever present Venetian threat while they tried to maintain a low profile.

 

After their business with the submarines was complete, Jim and Antiope retreated to the Colorado home that the US government had provided them. Access was restricted and Jim and Antiope would always fly in and out if they went anywhere. They were always in disguise and their public speaking engagements would always be unannounced and would be held in random locations. After several weeks of missile refitting, no new evidence of another Venetian star ship or portal had surfaced. John had transmitted to Jim that he had still no luck finding evidence of Venetian activity.

 

Being reminded of the need to determine the existence of any more Venetian portals, Jim determined the time was appropriate for a visit to Artemis. Usage of Genie would be limited, since Jim would need the invisibility and enhanced mobility that Genie would provide to keep him undetected. Jim would return to Artemis as a ghost.

 

The Flying Dutchman was anchored at a remote secluded island in the Pacific and Antiope resolved to stay with John during Jim's absence. She had no more desire for any surprise visits from Isis. 

 

The world's business went on pretty much as normal as if there were no fleet threat. Although Jim maintained a very low public profile, and it seemed his whereabouts was always a mystery, everyone knew about him and the majority felt secure against the alien threat. The public also had requested that General Armstrong run against the President for the November elections. Each and every day his popularity was accelerating, and the President's popularity had declined to single digit approval ratings. Many claimed that she didn't deserve the office and she was never elected. Jim knew that the Venetians were still in contact with her. Jim reminded General Armstrong that these obscure contacts were his only way of having any hope of tracking the Venetian threat. Even Jim agreed that if he failed to accomplish his objectives, only the current President would be able to stem the wrath of Isis. The November elections would not occur in such a case, and it wouldn't make any difference then what the majority thought, because Isis would rule.

 

Jim's absence was not to be public information, and John, as promised would play the role of Jim while he was gone.

 

On the day for departure, Jim simply removed his belt as it shifted back into its basic box form. He opened the door and went inside. He found himself in the room with the console at the center. He instructed Idiot to return back to Artemis to the same location from which the box had been originally situated, but at the current time. Jim was still not quite ready for any time travel attempts. 

 

The box rematerialized in Jim's private chamber back in Xanadu. Idiot had carefully performed the displacement to elude Artemis defensive sensing networks. After scanning the room for any detection devices, Genie neutralized the scanners by providing simulated images within the camera circuits. Hence Jim's arrival was undetected, and he immediately had Idiot provide him with his shield of invisibility. Jim found himself able to walk right through the wall, as he was unable to open the door to his room. Being a ghost distinctly had its advantages, although he couldn't do anything physical.

 

Jim found his way to Xanadu military command headquarters to determine the state of affairs. His mission was partially successful. Isis had frustrated his efforts by alerting Xanadu that Jim had the "Ghost" power, and as such the location of the portal on earth was absolutely hush-hush. He was able to determine the fact that a portal existed, however. Jim made his way to the transportation center and discovered the chamber for the portal to earth. Idiot warned Jim about the stasis field barrier to the chamber, and disclosed that he would not be able to penetrate the barrier without revealing his presence. He checked the calendar and determined it would be still another few days before she arrived. Jim paused for a few hours while he rummaged around the city for more clues. He discovered that the Venetians had been directed by Sophia to stay out of sight until further instructions were received by Isis. Jim then determined that it might be proper for him to return to earth immediately and take adequate precautions.

 

Although it was very tempting to materialize and perhaps throw a monkey wrench or two into the works, he felt it would be more appropriate to return to earth with the information that he had as planned.

 

Idiot rematerialized Jim back on the Flying Dutchman. The transit time was not eight hours there or back in this case. Idiot had performed a true zero time displacement from earth to Artemis and back. Idiot reminded Jim of his time travel capabilities, and that he may soon be requiring these capabilities.

 

"Jim, I am receiving indications of extreme spatial time fluctuations occurring in the near future."

 

"What are the implications, Idiot?"

 

"We are the source of those fluctuations. You must make preparations for time travel to earth's past?"

 

"Can you elaborate?"

 

"Not really, I can't get a lock on the disturbances without affecting the outcome of any involvement that you may have. Wait.... I am getting a lock, and it's not us; it was John. I just detected his track going back through time from leaving Artemis. Very odd

signal, I've never seen one like that before. It seems that while transmitting through hyperspace we passed John, on his way back to earth."

 

"Very interesting Idiot. I didn't know you had that capability."

 

"I didn't either, but it's not every day that we encounter a time traveler."

 

"It surprises me that you can't detect portal displacement."

 

"I can, but we also have to be undergoing zero-time displacement ourselves at the same instant. In that case, I can not only detect the displacement, but have to act drastically to avoid particle collisions."

 

"Did you have to dodge, John's trajectory?"

 

"No, John was nothing more than graviton energy, and as such was incapable of interacting with any temporarily locked matter."

 

"Well, let's discuss this time travel phenomena some more. You keep telling me of your capabilities, and I keep getting warned of paradox. How do you safeguard against paradox?"

 

"Paradox is intrinsically linked with the dualistic nature of the universe. Our propulsion system harnessed the power released by creating very minuscule paradoxes called monopoles. These monopoles are singularities that are created when the forces of nature try to divide by zero. Since the monopole cannot exist at steady state, it is actually a result of a balance between matter and antimatter which occurs as a result of our gravitational field manipulations. The anti-matter particles can be envisioned as being the same as its corresponding material particle. The material particle travels forward in time and the anti-particle travels backward in time. They are actually the same particle. The monopole is the point at which the regular matter crosses the event horizon and becomes its own opposite. The trajectories of the two must not intersect; otherwise another monopole could be created. Most subnuclear particles are simply nothing more than a

harmonic oscillation of such high-energy bosons bound within such a space-time loop. "

 

"How do life forms cope with such duality dangers while we cross the event horizon? Do I encounter my opposite?"

 

"You cannot encounter your opposite by chance, if I'm navigating, and all that is accounted for. I am a machine and as such cannot elaborate on the forces of will and imagination which is a characteristic of a living being and not a machine. I am incapable of crossing the event horizon intelligently without a life form aboard. My navigational acts are a result of your will and imagination. You by controlling me determine the course of future events. However, once you have made manifest any action as a result of action of will that creation can not be undone without destroying local space-time in the region. A creation in imaginary space can be undone; a creation in real space can not be undone. As you live, time passes, and your brain balances between acts of the will and acts of the imagination. Since I am a machine, I can't elaborate much further than that. Perhaps you can elaborate further in your own mind, but I am of limited assistance there. The key to avoiding paradox with life matter is to avoid time travel."

 

"Yet, John just time traveled."

 

"But notice that he avoided all physical contact with you, until after you left him on the Pegasus. He deliberately avoided creating paradox. If you received radiated information confirming his dual presence, then you would have sensed a paradox. Causalimplications would be very indeterminate and as such certain instabilities could likely have occurred. We are aware of John's threefold existence as we encountered his graviton trail. We know that he is now on the Pegasus on its way to Artemis and also on earth with Antiope. We also just encountered his graviton trail. It is hard to explain how we are avoiding paradox, but we are because of the fact that the spatial temporal displacement is being controlled by precise calculated control of inter-dimensional dynamic displacement. You did program me with that function, as you well know. John's computer network got that from me while we linked on the Pegasus. Jim, you are still the inventor of time travel. 

 

John got the idea from you."

VENETIA

Chapter Thirty-Two 

THE TEST

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