Monday, March 23, 2015

Shaun W. Patterson's 'Terminal Dawn (Rise of the TAR Squad)'


“When time and space collide, so do the worlds we know…when there is nothing left to lose, there is still life itself.”-TDU’s official TAGLINE.

Under the Global Union, the race of mankind hurdles towards its apex—that pinnacle of human achievement. They have accomplished much, including having shattered the barriers of time. Now, with the past perpetually kissing the future, imperceptible changes to the timeline have initiated a chain of devastating and unintended consequences.

A movement to abolish time-travel is afoot, but there are formidable opponents to this budding faction, including the very powerful Baldacci Space Corporation.

An intensive political battle ensues and the Global Union is on the verge of voting on legislation that is destined to forever change the course of human history. On the eve of the vote, Global Union senators mysteriously vanish. It is NOT the first time.

The planet advances toward the precipice of implosion from within its very foundations as weather systems and technological failures become exponentially devastating. But those are the least of mankind’s woes. Perched on the edge of Sun’s solar system is an awaiting apocalypse, and it is one of man’s own doing.
The human race find themselves with no good options—Perish by the planet’s implosion or face the onslaught of that which sits, panting, knocking at the door of deep space.

There is but one hope…the last hope…they are The TAR Squad.

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE—The End of The Beginning

TIME STAMP: October 5, 2285 A.D.
Location: Pacific Horizon Deep-Water Complex

The alarm sounded!
It is a blaring, high-pitched repetitive sound that comes with the capacity to jar the dead back into the world of the living. It is the alarm that nobody wants to hear…especially here in The Pacific Horizon Deep-Water Complex (PHDWC) community. It is not a strange sound. Everyone has heard it before. Every month, the Emergency Alert System (EAS) is tested to verify its operational readiness. Everyone knows when the test of the system is due. It occurs on the 3rd of every month…and when it sounds, no one really pays attention. The population continues their normal routine.
Today is not the 3rd.
It is the 5th…two days past the last test…and every soul living within the hemisphere of the Pacific Horizon Deep-Water Complex immediately knows this is abnormal. It is either a glitch in the system, and therefore they will expect that within five minutes the all-clear signal will be broadcasted, or this is Event Horizon—the doomsday scenario for this thriving ten-year old underwater community located 1,200 miles southeast of Hawaii on the floor of the Clarion Trench. It is situated about 2.5 miles deep, along the rugged mountainous volcanic terrain which extends into the Middle-America Trench off the South American coast. The current census numbers placed the population at a couple million.
The west-wing outdoor courtyard, with its girder free massive overhead translucent glass-like dome remains a touchstone of human engineering. It covers the courtyard—an area of 90,000 square yards—and soon, within an hour, below the dome will be teeming with life. It is the center of the evening ‘hotspot’ with its shops, restaurants, and high-end designer stores. Most of the residents are in the process of returning from the day’s work. They have not yet arrived in Pacific Horizon. But this specific area of the PHDWC is the preferred location to simply ‘chill’ for anyone who is anyone here in Pacific Horizon. And that just about included everyone who lived here on the west half of PHDWC. It is the perfect spot to ‘people-gawk.’ It is an ultra-rich exclusive sub-terrain community living on the frontier of human advancement. It is electric coupled with snootiness. The PHDWC was the first of its kind, and still remains the premier of the five existing underwater communities. All five communities are on par with the space colonies throughout the Milky Way galaxy as well as the two smaller isolated colonies—each located in the two closest neighboring galaxies. The Pacific Horizon Deep-Water Complex is the place to be for those who desire the frontier experience without the travel distance issues.

The siren continued to blare…and now a fine mist begins to descend from above. Everyone in the courtyard under the dome can feel those tiny water droplets on the surface of their skin—that misty sensation. On the surface of the planet that would be a welcomed contact against the skin, but here in Pacific Horizon, any sight of any kind of liquefied descending element is considered a hazardous threat. It is a definitive ‘no-no,’ and you don’t need a blaring alarm to make the case.
Every six months there is ‘The Practice Drill,’ known in short as ‘The PD’...pronounced, The PEEED. During that time you are supposed to head immediately to the nearest emergency ‘deep-water transport’ units and remain there until the end of the drill. Typically, no matter where you are located within PHDWC, you are never more than ninety seconds away from a deep-water transport unit. They are the fail safe—the final option, and if anyone failed to get inside one within a ninety second timeframe, they are supposed to report it. It is the law.
The lovely folks in the western courtyard of the Pacific Horizon Deep-Water Complex all turn their heads upward en masse. There is a deep crackling rumble sound that followed—like trunk sized twigs snapping in rapid succession. We are still within that first ten seconds of the initial blaring of the alert siren—it does not abate. The deep rumble cascaded across the entire translucent glass-like dome—that marvel of human engineering and the standard of girder-less covering. All eyes are focused on above. The portals of the onlookers bulged as they go from a state of mere curiosity to fear in a nanosecond. It is in response to the vista that greeted them. There are stress cracks snaking across the gigantic dome—stretching from one end to the other. It is made unequivocally clear that the fail safe—that final option is unattainable. The entire Pacific Ocean, after years of knocking on the door and being flashed the ‘do not enter’ sign, finally reared its frothy head and like fists of blazing steel punched its way inward to violently embrace its prey.


TIME STAMP: July 18, 2150 A.D.
Location: Time Travel Immigration Gateway (TTIG)—Nevada location

A weighty man in a white full body form-fitting suit sauntered in through the wide double glass doors which automatically opened as it sensed his approach. His long faded brown hair sat below his shoulder-blades. It held a gentle wave, but is neatly trimmed—particularly the fully grayed sideburns which are cut close to his temples and tapered just short of the bottom of his ears—nothing too dramatic. Looking at him, as well as many of the bustling bodies of flesh busily heading to their respective areas of departure, it was unbelievable to imagine how fashion did not really change…it simply morphed over time from one application to another. The man’s full body spandex-type body suit was reminiscent of wet suits worn by divers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. His was sparkling white. Here in the twenty-second century, this spandex-type garment had become fashionable attire on land, particularly while travelling…and especially so when the voyage entailed jumping through time. Not everyone though wore them. Many around still donned what was considered the ‘classic-look’—loose hanging wrinkle-free trousers. But here in this facility, the form-hugging apparel was almost the standard look. It was the recommended garment listed on the Government’s time-travelling lists of do’s and don’ts found in Section 23.5.5 of the travel approval visa application for those who traveled to the future or more recent past—although the traveler would not be hassled too much if they chose otherwise. On a case by case basis, exceptions were made when travel was slated for eras with dramatically different styles. Some never quite understood what difference it made. It was pretty much akin to the requirement in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries not to use your cell phone while in flight. Well, here in the twenty-second century, the government, or more specifically the time-travel engineers had their reasons…reasons not fully explained to the general public. So like docile sheep, most people complied.
The man, toting behind him six travel bags which were being ferried along by his Personal Robotic Transport Platform (PRTP-2000), headed down the long hallway. Above, the ceiling vaulted up some 150 feet. Translucent glass fixtures hung on both sides of a central overhead walking platform which transverse the full length of the hallway. Underneath the platform housed recessed lights that glowed in contrast to the blue hues from the lustrous glass ceiling. The man in white strode alongside a ‘travellator,’ as the British once nicknamed it, which is a moving walkway. He wanted the exercise. His girth had begun its collection of fat, and it was in an expansion phase, inflating from east to west along his waist line. Every day for the last month, the growth stared back at him in the mirror and screamed: “How you like me now?” It dared him to change the present trajectory. Well, he’d had enough of the taunt, and every chance he had he was going to strike back at that tormentor—hence, his current snub of the ever so convenient ‘travellator’. This trip he had planned was not going to help him out in that endeavor. It was going to involve a whole lot of sitting and waiting. His business was observation…the field was science, and it was the kind of work that could put one to sleep even if you had needles being rammed in your skin by a nurse performing a venipuncture for the first time.
That was his agenda for this trip and he wasn’t looking forward to it, but it was mandatory. Every six months, the TAR Division—the environmental arm of the newly formed Global Union, working in concert with the private entity The TAR Foundation—dispatched an observer through time. The purpose of today’s specific mission was classified, even from him, which was not usually the case. It was a rushed assignment. Early yesterday, he was yanked into one of their conference rooms at his place of employment. It was one of the larger ones on the upper level—specifically the 163rd floor—that was designed with one wall that integrated the one-way looking glass as an optional feature, when triggered. Today, it was activated. There, he was informed by his immediate boss who accompanied him in the room, as well as unseen and unidentified parties on the opposite end of the viewing wall, that he needed to make this trip. His supervisor never informed him that the other party or parties were there, but he knew. By the nervous manner in which Richard’s eyes shifted toward and away from the glass wall, he knew. He was advised that his task was simply to ‘observe’ and insert ‘check-marks’ by the specific compartmentalized queries on the unusual downloaded digital form in his brand new SR-PAD—the next generation of personal portable computing. It was going to be a chore.
He finally made a left turn under the holographic overhead sign labeled ‘Immigration Control,’ and proceeded toward the entry point. There was a queue and he halted behind the last person in line.
He waited. It did not take long before he was beckoned in front of the Time-Travel Immigration (TTI) Officer. His digital ID was requested. It was scanned by the immigration control officer, who then isolated the encoded travel itinerary. He selected the projection tab and all the details are displayed in an interactive holographic screen.
“Mr. Xavier…the purpose of your trip? Is it business or pleasure?” The TTI Officer asked the question while simultaneously viewing his own private screen. His hands typed at a rapid pace as he inserted data pertinent to the traveler before him.
“And how long will you be gone?”
The man who sported the Xavier identity furred together his eyebrows in a quizzical expression. The data was obviously there, projected in the holographic image.
“It’s the same as shown in the itinerary,” he replied with a slight hint of irritation. “Is there something wrong?”
Sensing the traveler’s aggravation, the officer glanced up. His ‘smart-glass’ photochromatic UV liquid crystal display eye wear with its nano-crystal embedded coating now reversed the one-way viewing option and revealed the eyes behind the lenses. His right cheek puffed slightly in a reassuring grin: “No Mr. Xavier…it is standard procedure to double check with the traveler the details within your encoded itinerary. It is simply a fail-safe.”
The officer returned to input the necessary details. Then he added: “I see from your record that this is not your first trip…and as you know, once you leave, it will be a while before you can return. So it is best to get the destination and time element correct right here at the point of departure.”
Xavier nodded. He did know that, but he was distracted…still mentally mystified about this entire trip and the need for such secrecy. He was not sure what he was getting himself into, and it was bothering the heck out of him why the Union would send him, a high ranking scientist, to simply be a ‘secretary’ of sorts. Actually, he was peeved…and that’s putting it lightly.
“So how long is this trip?” the officer again queried.
“Two weeks.”
“Thank you Mr. Xavier.” The TTI official finally looked up and pushed himself away from the desk. He spun around to the control screen behind him, began to manipulate the window screens, and then he swiveled back to face the traveler on the other side of the immigration counter.
As Xavier awaited directions from the immigration agent, he glanced over to the family of four standing at the next terminal. They are asked about their trip. Their planned getaway is to 2652 A.D. They receive their approval and the agent then scanned their special permit digital visas. The initializing sequence began, but then froze in the midst of the process.
“Hey Bill, we’ve got another ‘freezer’ here,” the immigration agent assisting them said in a controlled yell as he looked over at his comrade who was assisting Xavier. “What did the control center say was to be done?”
The agent known as Bill chuckled: “It’s you Dale…it only happens to you, my man.”
“C’mon Bill help me out here. We’ve got to get these folks through.”
The agent turned to Xavier, excused himself and then walked over to the terminal with the glitch. He did not appear to be phased by the malfunction. “They want us to do a ‘B-circle’ bypass sequence.”
Bill proceeded to show his comrade the procedure and then returned to his station.
“Having problems?” Xavier asked.
The officer shook his head: “Nothing critical. It’s about the twelfth incident for that destination in the last two weeks. Anyway, let’s get you situated.”
Agent Bill tapped the entry tab.
A sudden static sputter occurred with the holographic itinerary. It disappeared and then immediately reappeared.
“Sir, please confirm the travel point indicated in the projection. If it is your destination then please palm-stamp it by placing your hand directly within the outer layer of the projection.”
Xavier shuffled his feet and scooted himself closer to the image: “Yeah, I know the routine,” he said as he provided his palm-stamp as confirmation.
The image contorted itself and then reset. The officer removed the personal digital ID and handed it to Xavier, the man with the flowing locks of hair that hung just below his shoulders.
“Your itinerary is confirmed and your travel visa is affirmed for travel to 2620 A.D. Have a safe trip.” The photochromatic UV-lens reset to the one-way viewing calibration and the eyes of the officer are no longer visible.
Xavier shuffled away from the booth and was directed to the scan-sector room which was the final point before departure at the gate-portal. As he walked through, followed by his PRTP-2000, his entire body was scanned and so were his bags. The door at the other end still displayed a red light above the header as he approached. It was supposed to change. A non-change meant trouble, big trouble. It was the kind of trouble that got your arm tugged by muscular men as they summarily dragged you over to the Interrogation Center a few doors down. It finally changed as he approached within three feet of the exit door, and so no such treatment was forced upon him. The green light signal finally materialized at the end of the transition cycle. A green light indicated that all was a go with the traveler and that there were no banned substances being ferried to the next point in time. He breathed a sigh of relief.

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