-Chapter 9-

The first helicopter of the four helicopters landed in Rabotpark, a mile and a half from the Belfry of Ghent. It was early in the morning, and rain was falling heavily, thunder rumbling off in the distance.

Lance Corporals Bryce Lynch and Roland Clary hurried to the ruins of the Disruptive City Lab.

'So, it's not in here, then?" Roland asked. "I mean we can't have lucked out?"

"No," Bryce told him. "War is never that easy. My destination lies one a half kilometers to the Southeast. The old bell tower of the Belfry of Gent. This is going to be our base of operations for the night and morning. The others should be here in ten minutes. Minus the chopper we lost over Margate."

"Who was on that one?"

"McIntyre, Thompson, and Adamson," Bryce replied. "Plus the flight crew. Be sure to put in recommendations for top honors for them when you get back."

"You really don't expect to survive this," Roland said.

"Even if I do, I'm not coming out of there," Bryce said. "I was thinking about what you said last night. And you're right. I do have a responsibility to my son or daughter."


Theora watched the snow storm through the garage window. She hadn't been able to sleep for about three hours. Finally giving up, she walked over to window and pulled the curtain aside to have a look. The weather forecast had been for four inches, but it looked to her like there would be a lot more than that.


As battle waged on the Botermarkt and Sint Baafsplein, Lance Corporal Bryce Lynch quickly entered Belfort Ghent. In his shirt pocket there was a small disc. Once he was at the top of the tower, he would upload the contents of the disc into the enemy computer. After that...

He raced up the spiral staircase until he reached the trapdoor. There was no way up, only a long hook to open the door with and a few boxes that might serve to make a ladder.


The wind rattling the garage door made Theora shiver. Even with the space heater going, her makeshift apartment was nearly ice cold. She would have to look for a new place soon. But without her old job at Network 23 she was rapidly running out of credits.

There was no way she was going back, however. Not after what Cheviot had demanded of her. As much as she cared about Edison's safety, she would not forgive the chairman of Network 23 for demanding that she abort the child she carried.

Edison and Murray had offered to help her out until she got back on her feet again. But she refused that as well. She wouldn't take any money that originated at Network 23. To her, it was a betrayal of the baby she already loved.


Climbing to the top of the stack of boxes, Bryce started to climb into the room beyond the trap door. He was halfway through when the stack gave way, boxes scattering many feet below him. For a dangerous second, he thought he might fall. But he quickly grabbed the leg of an overturned stone bench and pulled himself up.

Catching his breath, he stood up and walked over to the computer. Listening to the sounds of battle outside, he reached into his pocket and retrieved the disc. Slamming it into place, he waited for the upload to finish.

It was almost done uploading when he heard the sound of boxes being stacked in the room below him.


Theora put on a second sweater as the lights and heat in her apartment went out from the storm. Only the TV, connected to a citywide emergency generator like all the others, remained on. She wanted to disconnect it, to connect the generator to her space heater. But she would be in jail in mere minutes if she did that.


Bryce finished checking the new data. Satisfied and in a bit of a hurry, he pulled his disc from the Belgian computer and put it back in his pocket, turning the Time Ring and vanishing from the room.

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