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Authors: Julie Cross

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BOOK: Vortex
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And do the EOTs, like, have a meeting place … or a meeting year? What would that invitation
look like?

Dear EOTs,

Let’s all gather in 1984 … sometime in July. Maybe at the Empire State Building. Bring
a future snack to share because McDonald’s is frying their food in animal fat in this
year and we wouldn’t want that type of lard to invade the future. Please check your
calendars and make sure you don’t have any planned attacks in July 1984. If you do,
let me know which day might work best for you.

Love,

Thomas

APRIL 3, 2009

Found a report in the CIA database from October 2005—the last time Thomas was sighted
in this timeline. It was Dad that he sought out. Dad recorded a three-minute conversation
muffled slightly by the sound of wind and New York City traffic in the background.
It went like this:

Thomas: We’re sorry to hear about Axelle Product A. Dr. Ludwig thinks he may have
a solution to prevent the tumors … with the other subject, anyway.

Agent Meyer: I’m not interested in any of Dr. Ludwig’s solutions, Thomas. But I think
you already know that.

Thomas: His scans show no signs of cancer?

Agent Meyer: His brain function is that of a normal fifteen-year-old boy in the year
2005. Axelle appears to be nothing but several million dollars not worth spending.

Thomas: I see. And your continued interest in the boy is motivated by what, exactly…?

Agent Meyer: Human compassion. Something you know nothing about.

Thomas: I know everything there is to know about human compassion. I just choose not
to be trapped by it. But you have nothing to worry about, Agent Meyer. We have no
interest in Product B. Not unless things change, and it doesn’t look like that will
happen.

Agent Meyer: And if it does?

Thomas: Then I suppose we’ll be seeing each other again.

The conversation ended there and the report states that Dad fired three shots, but
Thomas vanished, leaving him no outcome to record. Obviously Thomas survived, since
he found me when things did start changing. I wonder, how soon after my first jump,
in November 2008, did they figure out what I could do?

APRIL 9, 2009

The art of time travel. That’s what we’re studying now. I’m on the edge of my seat
memorizing every word that Dad, Marshall, or Dr. Melvin says. Then I have to go back
to my journal later and apply the facts to my own experience. Basically, what I learned
so far is that half-jumps don’t count as anything related to timelines. Actually,
I had to ask Dad this in private because I couldn’t exactly raise my hand and say,
“Hey Dr. Melvin … when I’m time-traveling using my gene from a cloned person…” All
12 of my teammates would simultaneously draw their guns and point them at me. Or maybe
the idea is so out there that they’d just begin treating me for heat exhaustion.

For some reason, learning that those jumps almost don’t count makes me feel a little
more grounded to one place. Less lost. From the time I was born—June 20, 1990—to the
date I left when I jumped to 2007—October 30, 2009—I had been in one timeline. Just
one world. I’ve been referring to that as World A. I’ve been calling the 2007 alternate
universe World B. This is where I have to stop because I’m still trying to figure
out exactly what happened next. More soon …

APRIL 12, 2009

It’s like Chief Marshall wants me to fail! Like he expects it. This makes me throw
everything out of my mind—saving the world, saving Holly, time travel—and the only
thing I can focus on is wiping that stupid-ass stoic expression off his face. He’s,
like, carved in stone or something. Everything I do gets that same look from him.
He knew I would do this, or ask a certain question. I hate being predictable to anyone,
let alone Marshall. He could at least make an effort to help me feel like I belong
here, or get the others to understand this. Oh, well. I’ll just have to work harder.
I’ll just have to beat everyone.

APRIL 15, 2009

Dad and I had an entire conversation today in Farsi. It took me less than eight hours
to understand Farsi through Dr. Melvin’s method he used on me in 2007—playing the
recording in my ear while I slept. But I’m just now getting down the speaking part
of it. And I have been practicing constantly for nearly a month. The other trainees
are more than surprised with my quick progress. If only they knew how quick it actually
was. Only five of us can speak Farsi, of course Stewart is one of those so I don’t
get to feel all that superior. Mason’s another one, but that’s no surprise considering
he has the highest recorded IQ in all of North America.

Dr. Melvin asked me a few minutes ago which language I wanted to learn next and Marshall
answered for me, saying, “Mandarin.” Now I’m curious to find out if we’re going to
China or if maybe there’ll be an EOT attack and they’ll give important information
in Mandarin. Or if Marshall just hates me and so picked one of the hardest languages
to learn.

APRIL 18, 2009

LOCATION: UZBEKISTAN, TURKMENISTAN, DESERT

My first field training mission! We took a helicopter to Karshi-Khanabad Air Base
in Uzbekistan. Apparently, the U.S. Air Force used this base from 2001–2005 for al-Qaeda
missions. They kicked us out in 2005. Anyway, we had to “accidently” land our helicopter
there. The cover was Red Cross workers heading for Africa with a malfunctioning aircraft.
The military workers weren’t exactly happy to see us, but they didn’t shoot anyone,
which I thought was a plus. Although I might have been willing to sacrifice Stewart
for the greater good of the team.

She was sent inside first to communicate with the director of something, and Mason
and I had the job of sneaking through a window and planting 5 listening devices. We
succeeded with no major problems and Freeman rewarded all of us with a trip to a bar
somewhere in Turkmenistan. It was actually air-conditioned. I don’t think I’ve ever
appreciated artificially cooled air as much as I did today. Mason, Dad, and I were
the only ones brave enough to sample the food. It wasn’t bad. Different, but edible.

APRIL 19, 2009

LOCATION: DESERT

We’re going to China. I totally called that one. And my Mandarin is coming along nicely.
Maybe it won’t be hot and dry there. I can deal with anything but desert conditions.

APRIL 20, 2009

LOCATION: XIAMEN, CHINA

We landed in Xiamen today. It’s on the coast, not far from Taiwan. Mason, Agent Parker,
and I were in the city gathering supplies when I saw this blond girl, just the back
of her, and I totally freaked out. I think it was because we were in China and there’s
not too many blondes here. This girl stood out like a sore thumb. It wasn’t Holly.
Not that I expected it to be. Of course I didn’t. But that didn’t keep me from running
to Dad and asking him if he’d checked up on her recently. This was the first time
I’d asked him for details. I knew he’d tell me if anything was wrong, and I couldn’t
bear to be reminded of her unless I had to. He told me he has a source … a non-Tempest
source that’s keeping an eye on her, and I have nothing to worry about.

I just want to be able to move on. Not like move on to another girl. That’s the last
thing on my mind right now. I just want to not want her with me. To not feel like
I made a mistake. I know I didn’t. Even Dad agrees.

Sometimes I try to imagine what Holly’s doing, what she’ll look like in ten years,
all the amazing things she’s bound to accomplish, and I’m grateful for the fact that
she doesn’t have to miss me like I miss her.

APRIL 24, 2009

LOCATION: XIAMEN

The art of time travel, Part 2—okay, Adam, you’re going to love this if you ever get
to read it. So, last time I left off trying to figure out what happened after World
B (2007 timeline). When I jumped to August 13, 2009, and confirmed that I was not
in World B anymore because that Adam said he hadn’t met me until March 2009, not September
2007. According to Dr. Melvin’s time-travel theories, the ones I’m slowly letting
my brain slog through because it’s migraine-worthy, I returned to World A. But my
steps looked something like this:

Then the final step includes the introduction of World C … or at least I can assume
this. Next, I need to tackle the theories on what I’m possibly able to do. Not that
I’m going to time-travel, but I need to know what the EOTs might be capable of. The
more I learn about time travel, the more sure I am that I never want to do it again.

APRIL 28, 2009

LOCATION: TAIWAN

We’re doing a mission here but my part is boring, monotonous surveillance. Which means
watching video footage from one of the cameras we planted in a government building.
I’m not even close to the mission site, so it’s totally boring.

Time travel fact of the day: just learned that a full jump, in the same timeline,
like if I did this in World A, is called a complete jump and alterations are possible.
Thomas has been known to do this. I can’t find any other EOTs listed with this ability.

Tempest fact: When Courtney and I were toddlers, rolling around in sandboxes, the
entire Tempest division consisted of: Agent Freeman, Sr., Dr. Melvin, Dad, Chief Marshall,
and Eileen. That’s it. Only a couple attacks from known time travelers were even reported.
There was, however, a division of the CIA that seemed to be against Tempest and especially
Axelle. Dad and Agent Freeman, Sr., were constantly creating covers and being chased/followed
by them.

I wonder what changed. Why did Tempest decide to start recruiting more agents two
years ago? Did Chief Marshall learn something about the future? I’ve asked Dad and
he just said that they’ve always known the time travel war was coming. Maybe it’s
the clones?

MAY 5, 2009

LOCATION: BEIJING

Freeman just told us that we’d be getting partners eventually. Tempest agents don’t
go on missions alone. Plus, we all have such unique backgrounds and abilities, we
need to be matched with someone who isn’t just like us. That way we have a variety
of skills to use in a mission. I’m very concerned that I’m going to get stuck with
Stewart or Mason. I can’t stand Stewart. Actually it’s mutual hate. We can’t stand
each other. And Mason, well … I might just like him a little more than I should. Okay,
not like
that
.
Just that he’s so young and what if something happened to him, on my watch … like
with Dad’s old partner, Agent Freeman, Sr.? He was killed the same day as Eileen,
the woman who carried me and Courtney. The woman who Dad once loved, maybe still does
love.

It would be so much easier if I could just work alone. Maybe in another alternate
universe, like World D, you’re in Tempest with me, Adam. I’m sure Marshall and Freeman
would partner us up together. You’re the brains, I’m the skilled shooter, and now
that I’ve been forced into top physical shape, I could do the running around and you
could do all the boring observation, which I’m sure you’d find way more intriguing
than I have. You spent plenty of time watching me while I looked like a vegetable.
That had to be boring as hell. We’d make an awesome team. And you could help figure
me out. I don’t really have anyone to do that with now. Of course, I trust Dad 100%
but he’s so careful with me. Always worried about giving me too much information.
Like I’m going to break down any second and not be able to handle what he’s telling
me. Maybe it’s just out of habit. He kept so many secrets from both me and Courtney
for such a long time.

MAY 10, 2009

LOCATION: HONG KONG

Most Important Tempest Lesson thus far: every aspect of training is on a need-to-know
basis. We can’t talk about what happens in our specialty groups to members outside
of it. But Advanced Defense yields no big secrets. Not like Futuristic Technology,
which I’m dying to learn about. It sucks. We all have access to each other’s agent
profiles, but I know what mine says and more importantly what it doesn’t say (Axelle
experiment Product B, known time traveler), so I can’t really trust anyone’s profile
in the database. Maybe we’re all time travelers and just not telling each other. That
would be hilarious. Maybe Eileen gave birth to 13 babies and we’re all different versions
of the Axelle experiment. Maybe we are the EOTs and we’re battling our future selves?
Oh, my God, I need a drink.

MAY 11, 2009

LOCATION: BANGKOK

There’s one secret, only one, that I’ve kept from Dad. Emily. Something about that
little girl showing up in the storm, following orders from a future version of me,
seemed too important to hand over to Dad, knowing he’d do whatever he had to in order
to protect me. He would have killed Thomas if he’d had the chance. The fact that a
mysterious little girl might cease to exist if he had killed Thomas wouldn’t be enough
to stop him. But I don’t feel the same way. I picked her up, I saw her cry, saw her
regretfully leave me and head to somewhere that didn’t seem pleasant. She is something
important to me. I just haven’t gotten to that point in my life yet. Whatever point
where she first meets me. Do I have a child in the future? She has my eyes. Or is
it like I first thought, on that rooftop with Thomas, some kind of version of Axelle
but different? Like maybe instead of a half-breed, she’s a ¾ breed?

BOOK: Vortex
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