Жанр книги: Научная Фантастика
Robert A Heinlein To Sail Beyond The Sunset

‘This is the sort of nudge the Circle of Ouroboros specialises in, the minor assist that makes a major change in the outcome - and the companions of the Circle feel sanguine about this one.

‘Now please look at the picture behind me. Our view is from the spot in Greyfriars Green occupied by the dressing station where Johnson Prime served that night. http://www.storecosmetics.ru Those three towers are all that was left standing in the central city after earlier raids - the towers of St Michael's cathedral, Greyfriars church, and Holy Trinity church. Off to the left is a lesser tower that does not show; that tower is the only original part of a Benedictine monastery built by Leofric, Earl of Merda, and his wife, Lady Godiva, in 1043. We have leased that tower from the Earl, and the gate that will deliver Gretchen's archers will be - has been - erected on it, as well as the time gate that will move them to 1941. It may amuse you to hear that, while the contract payment was in gold, a lagniappe was added, a magnificent white gelding that the Lady Godiva named "Aethelnoth" - and our gift to the Lady is the very mount she used in her famous ride through the town for the benefit of her townspeople. '

Jubal cleared his throat and grinned. ‘Despite widespread popular demand coming mostly from Castor and Pollux, this operation will not be combined with a sightseeing trip to watch Lady Godiva ride through Coventry.

‘Thats all today, friends. To take part in this operation you need to be convinced of three things: first, that the Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler was so vile that it must not be allowed to win; second, that it is strongly desirable to defeat the Nazis without dropping scores of atomic bombs on Europe, and, third, that it is worth it to you to risk your neck to achieve the operation's objectives. The Circle answers yes to these questions, but you must weigh them in your own conscience. If your answer is not a whole-hearted yes on all points, then please do not volunteer.

‘After you have thought it over, the remaining Gideon's Band will meet for first rehearsal at ten tomorrow morning at our Potemkin-Village Coventry. A transbooth shuttling directly to the practice village is located just north of this building. '

In Coventry, England, on Tuesday 8 April 1941, at 7. 22 p. m. the sun was setting, glowing red in smog and coal smoke. Looking at this city gave me a weird feeling, so exactly had Shiva's simulation matched what I now saw. I was standing at the entrance of a civil defence first-aid station, the one that research showed that Father had worked in (would work in) tonight. It was hardly more than walls of sandbags covered by canvas painted opaque to guard the black-out.

It had a jakes of sorts (Phew! ), and an anteroom for the wounded, three pine tables, some cupboards, and duck boards on a dirt floor. No running water - a tank with a spigot. Gasoline lamps.

Greyfriars Green spread out around me, an untended park pocked with bomb cratera. I could not see the monastery tower we had rented from Lady Godiva's husband, Leofric, Earl of Mercia, but I knew that it was north of me, off to my left. Field Agent Hendrik Hudson Schultz, who had conducted the dicker with the Earl, reported that Godiva's hair really was surprisingly long and beautiful but that it was inadvisable to be downwind from her, and she had apparently not bathed more than twice in her life. Father Hendrick had spent a hard sixteen months learning eleventh century Anglo-Saxon and customs and medieval church Latin in preparation for the assignment - one he completed in ten days.

Tonight Father Hendrik was with Gretchen as her interpreter; it had not been judged cost-effective to require the members of the military task force to learn an Anglic language a century older than Chaucer, when their working language was not English but Galacta, and their MOS involved shooting, not talking.

Northeast of me I could see the three spires that gave the city its nickname: Greyfriars, Holy Trinity, and St Michael's. St Michael's and Greyfriar's were gutted in earlier bombings and much of the centre of the city was destroyed. When I had first heard of the bombing of Coventry, a century ago on my personal time line, I had thought that the bombing of this historic town was an example of the sheer viciousness of the Nazis. While it is not possible to exaggerate the viciousness of that regime and the stench of its gas ovens, I now knew that the bombing of Coventry was not simply Schreckdich, as this was an important industrial city, as important to England as Pittsburgh was to the United States.

Coventry was not the bucolic town I had pictured in my mind. I could see that, if fortune favoured us tonight, we might possibly not only destroy a major part of the Luftwaffe's biggest bombers but also save the lives of skilled craftsmen as necessary to military victory as are brave soldiers.

Behind me I heard Gwen Hazel checking her communications: ‘Blood's a Rover, this is Lady Godiva's Horse. Come in, Blood. '

I answered, ‘Blood to Horse, roger. '

We had a uniquely complex communication net tonight; one I did not even try to understand (I'm a nappy engineer and a kitchen chemist - I've never seen an electron), a system that parallelled an even more astounding temporary time) space hook-up.

Like this - From outside, the west end of the aid station was a blank wall of sandbags. From inside, that end was curtained off, a putative storage space. But push aside the curtain and you would find mo time/space gates: one from Coventry 1941 to the medical school hospital, BIT, Tertius 4376 Gregorian, and the other doing just the reverse, so that supplies, personnel, and patients could move either way without traffic problems - and at the Tertius end was another double set of gates to Beulahland, so that the worst cases could be shuttled to a different time axis, there to be hospitalised for days or months - and returned to Coventry, fully recovered, this same night.

(Tomorrow there would be miracles to be explained. But we would be long gone. )