Prologue

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"What happens if this doesn't work?"

"Same thing that happens if we don't try it. We're screwed."

"Yeah. Hey, Alex. What's the ETA?"

"I've buggered the traffic lights. Caused a pretty good wreck at 14th. That should slow 'em down for a few."

"How. Much. Time?"

"Ten minutes? Hell if I know!"

"Cal, do we have ten minutes?"

"If this works, we'll be gone in five."

"If." Gene looked out the window. Electric cars choked the sun-drenched streets. Just another day in Paradise. Damn, I'm gonna miss this, he thought. But everything was packed. One way or the other, San Diego, Pacifica would soon be only a memory.

"Time and place are locked in!" Cal barked. "Let's do this."

"Good thing we're dealing with idiots," Gene opined. "I'd have cut off the power first thing."

"Yeah, but we have backup generators," Alex chortled.

"Ready... now!" Cal snapped. On the far side of the room, the wall turned into mental static. "The Wrinkle is open. Push the test payload in!"

Mack grabbed the payload cart and got a running start, shoving it toward the portal. With a final grunt, he pushed it into the static.

"Ping received!" Cal grinned. "And data incoming. Test payload is intact. Photo shows level ground, the Wrinkle comes out on a path. Nobody to be seen. Perfect. Let's go, guys!"

Mack jumped through the portal. The payload cart doubled as his; it carried his portable surgical equipment and his share of the provisions. Alex followed, pushing his own cartload of gear.

"Go, boss," said Cal. "I gotta close the door behind us."

"Dammit," Gene griped. "Can they follow us?"

"No way in Hell. Go!"

Gene hustled over to his own cart, equipment piled high. "This had better work," he growled. The mental static beckoned; he drew a bead and charged, using every curse he had ever heard (along with a few he made up on the spot).

Passing through what Cal had called "the Wrinkle" was the weirdest thing Gene had ever felt. Momentum carried him through; he vaguely noticed Alex and Mack pushing their own carts off a dirt path, making room for his.

"Keep moving, boss," said Mack, helping to push Gene's load further down the path. "Cal's coming."

Gene turned to see the other side of the mental static. "Yeah," he grunted, and pushed his cart off to the side. "Good thinking, Alex, putting these fat tires on the carts."

They tried to watch for Cal, but their vision kept slipping away from the Wrinkle. Finally, Cal burst through, dragging his cart behind him.

"Hey, guys!" Cal called, then turned back to the portal. "Closing in three... two..." The static dissipated. "Uh, just a little sooner than expected."

"Is that a problem?" Gene demanded.

"Nope. I activated Chernobyl Mode on the way out. The controller's doing an Erase and Catch Fire, and our drives melted themselves. Not only can they not trace us, they don't get our research. We're home free."

"So," Mack grinned. "We're now the gods of Olympus?"

"Uh... maybe?" Alex pointed toward the nearby peak. Someone floated through the air, coming their way.

"Oh, come on," Gene snarled. "What are the odds someone else got here before us?"

"No way," Alex mused, looking at the newcomer through a scope. "Those wings are way too tiny to carry a dude that big."

"What wings?"

"They're on his heels, man!" Alex fumbled for his tablet. "How fast would they have to go to get enough lift..." He lost himself in calculations.

"Dude probably has an antigrav belt or something." Gene rolled his eyes. "The wings are for show."

"I don't know, man," Cal rejoined. "I've been trying to figure out antigrav for years. Sure, just on the side, but..."

Gene thought a moment. Everyone in Chimera, Inc. was intelligent far beyond even university physics departments, and Cal was a couple orders of magnitude beyond the others. Forward time travel had been discovered in 2178, almost two hundred years ago, but only Cal had found a way to go backwards.

So if antigrav was beyond Cal, then... "Okay," he said. "What are the odds that there are actually gods on Mount Olympus?"

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