Jubal looked around again. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, what in the hell are we going to do about Pixel? When the bombs start falling and the wounded start piling up at that field station, the last thing we need is a cat who can't be shut up and can't be shut out. Colonel Campbell? He's your cat. '
My grandson Richard Ames Campbell answered, ‘You have that the wrong way around, Doctor. I don't own Pixel.
Whatever ownership there may be points in the other direction. I agree with you that we can't afford to have him underfoot during battle. But I don't want him there on his own account; he's too unsophisticated to know that bombs can kill him. He got involved in another fire fight when he was just a kitten. .. and it did almost kill him. I don't want that ever to happen again. But I have never figured out how to lock him up. '
‘Just a moment, Richard. ' Gwen Hazel stood up. ‘Jubal, may I offer a suggestion? '
‘Hazel, it says on the organisation chart that you are in command of this operation, all phases. I think that entitles you to make a suggestion. One, at least. '
‘Come off it, Jubal. There is a third member of our family that has more influence over Pixel than either Richard or I. My daughter Wyoming. '
‘Does she www.authoringstore.ru volunteer?
‘Stipulating that she will, can she control Pixel every second for about four hours? For technical reasons involving how we handle the time/space gates will use about that much Boondock time. So Dr Burroughs tells me. '
I interrupted. ‘May I say something? '
‘Hazel, do you yield? '
‘Don't be silly, Jubal; of course I do. '
‘Certainly we should use Wyoh; the child is utterly reliable. But don't have her try to hang on to Pixel here; one sneeze and he's gone. Take both of them to Oz and have them stay with Glinda. With Betsy, rather, but with Glinda's magic to ensure that Pixel doesn't walk through any walls. '
‘Hazel? ' Dr Harshaw enquired.
‘They'll both love it. '
‘It is so ordered. Now back to the raid. Projection, please. ' An enormous live picture grew up behind Jubal and around him. ‘This holo is not Coventry itself but our Potemkin Village practice ground that Athene has built for us, about eighty kilometres east of here. Take a bow, Teena. '
The executive computer's voice came out of the air: ‘Thanks, Papa Jubal, but that's Shiva's work - Mycroft Holmes and me linked in synergistic parallel, with Minerva waving the baton. Now that I've got you all gathered together, let me remind you that all of you are invited to our wedding, Minnie and me to Mike, after the conclusion of Operation Coventry Cusp. So you all had better start thinking about wedding presents. '
‘Teena, you are crassly materialistic and neither of your composite bodies can possibly be ready that soon:
‘Gotcha! Ish okayed moving our bodies to Beulahland, so now we can be uncorked and animated on any date we pick. You better study up on the laws of temporal paradox, Jubal. '
Dr Harshaw sighed. ‘Conceded. I look forward to kissing the brides. Now will you please let us get on with the operation? '
‘Don't sweat it, Pops. You know or should know that there is never any hurry in a time operation. '
‘True. But we're all a bit eager. Friends, Teena - or Shiva - built our practice field from photos, stereos, holos, and motion pictures taken at Coventry on 1 April 1941. You will recognise 1941 as a date so far back that all time lines patrolled by the agents of the Circle of Ouroboros are, in 1941, a single time line. In short, anything we do in Coventry in 1941 affects all civilised time lines - civilised in a parochial sense, of course; the Circle is not unbiased.
‘Research for this operation turned up an odd fact. Lazarus? '
My son stood up. ‘History of World War Two 1939-1945 as I recall it shows a more favourable outcome in England and in Europe than that which turned up in this operation's field research. For example, my oldest brother, Brian Smith, Junior, was wounded in the landing at Marseilles, whereupon he was sent to England, to Salisbury Plain and the American training command. Mama? '
‘Yes, surely, Woodrow:
‘But the history we researched shows that this could not have happened. The Luftwaffe won the Battle of Britain and there never was a Marseilles landing, much less an American training command in England. Instead, Germany was smashed from the air by atomic bombs delivered from North Africa by American B-29 bombers. Friends and family, I was in that war. No atomic bombs were dropped on Europe in the war I remember. '
‘Thank you, Lazarus. I was in that war, too, and in North Africa. No B-29s operated from there as I recall it and no atomic bombs were used in the European theatre - so this research startled me as much as it did Lazarus. This bad news changed Operation Johnson Prime - which had as its purpose locating and recovering Dr Ira Johnson, the Prime of the Johnson family - to Operation Coventry Cusp. .. which includes Operation Johnson Prime as one of its phases, but has the far wider purpose of changing the outcome of that war through this one raid. The raid of 8 April 1941 was selected not only because Dr Johnson was known to have been in it, as an AFS surgeon in civil defence, but also because the four waves of bombers - giant Heinkels - that bombed Coventry that night were the largest number of Nazi bombers used in any one raid.
‘The Circle's mathematicians, working with Shiva, all agree that this is a cusp event, where a handful of people can turn the course of a history. So it will be the purpose of Major Gretchen's ladies to destroy as many as possible of that air Armada - as near 100 per cent as superior technology can manage. With this one assist, the RAF can and will win the Battle of Britain. Without it, it can be - or was - too big a raid for the Spitfires to handle. An almost invisible additional purpose of Operation Coventry Cusp, three layers down, is to save the lives of Spitfire pilots, so that they will live to fight another day.