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

A similar but not identical double-gate arrangement served Gretchen's command. She and her girls (and Father Schultz) were waiting in the eleventh century on the monastery tower. The gate that would place them in the twentieth century would not be activated until Gwen Hazel notified Gretchen that the sirens had sounded.

Gwen Hazel could talk to the twentieth century, the forty-fourth century, and the eleventh century, each separately or all at once, using a buried throat mike, tongue switches, and a body antenna, whether she was at the Tellus Prime end or the Tellus Tertius end of the aid-station gates.

In addition to these hook-ups she was in touch with Zeb and Deety Carter, in Gay Deceiver, at 30. 000 feet over the English Channel - too high for bombers, too high for Messerschmidts or Fokkers, too high for AA fire of that year. Guy had agreed to be there only if she was allowed to pick her own altitude. (Gay is a pacifist with, in her opinion, a deplorable amount of combat experience. ) But at that altitude Gay was sure that she could spot Heinkels taking off and forming up long before the British coastal radar could see them.

As a result of rehearsals at Potemkin Village, drills involving every casualty we could think of, the surgical teams had been rearranged, with most of them held back on the Boondock side of the gates. ‘Triage' of a sort would be practised; the hopeless cases would be rushed through to Boondock, where no case is hopeless if the brain is alive and not too damaged. There Doctors Ishtar and Galahad would head their usual teams (who need not be volunteers for combat; they would never be in Coventry). The hopeless cases, repaired, would be gated to Beulahland for days or weeks of recovery, then gated back to Coventry before dawn.

Cas and Pol had been volunteered (by their wives my daughters Laz and Lor) as stretcher bearers, to move the worst cases from Coventry to gurney floats on the Boondock side.

It had been decided that too many surgical teams and -too much equipment showing up out of nowhere as soon as the sirens sounded would alert Father unnecessarily, make him smell a rat. But, when the wounded started pouring in, he would be too busy to notice or care.

Jubal and Gillian were a reserve team, and would go through when needed. Dagmar would go through when Deety in Gay Deceiver reported that the bombers were on their way, so that Dagmar would meet Father - Dr Johnson - as he first poked his head in. When the sirens sounded, Lazarus and I would go through, already masked and gowned, with me as his scrub nurse. I'm an adequate surgeon but I'm a whiz as an operating nurse - much more practice at it. We figured that three of us could do what might have to be done at ‘all clear', the end of the raid: grab Father and' kidnap him - drag him through the gate, sit him down in Boondock, and explain things to him there. .. including the idea that he could have the works - rejuvenation and expert tutoring in really advanced therapy and still be returned to Coventry 8 April 1941. If he insisted. If he had any wish to.

But by then I hoped and expected that, with Tamara's help, Father could be made to see the Quixotic futility of going back to the Battle of Britain when that battle had been won more than mo millennia earlier.

With Tamara's help - She was my secret weapon. By a concatenation of miracles I had married my lover from the stars. .. and thereby married my son, to my amazement and great happiness. Could more miracles let me marry the only man I have always loved, totally and without reservation? Father would certainly marry Tamara, given the chance - any man would! - and Tamara would then see to it that Father married me. I hoped.

If not, it would be enough and more than enough simply to have Father alive again.

I had gone back through the gate to Boondock when I heard Gwen Hazel's voice: ‘Godiva's Horse to all stations. Deety reports bandits in the air and forming up. Expect sirens in approx eighty minutes. Acknowledge. '

Gwen Hazel was standing beside me by the gates in the hospital, but this was a communication check as much as an intelligence. My own comm gear was simple: a throat mike not buried but merely under a bandage I did not need; a ‘hearing aid' that was not one and an antenna concealed by my clothes. I answered, ‘Blood's a Rover to Horse, roger. '

I heard, ‘British Yeoman to Horse, roger. Eighty minutes. One hour twenty minutes. '

I said ‘Blood to Horse. I heard Gretchen's roger. Should I? '

Gwen Hazel shut off transmission and spoke to me, ‘You shouldn't hear her until you both shift to Coventry 1941. Mau, will you please go through to Coventry for a second comm. check? '

‘I did so; we established that Gwen Hazel's link to me, forty-fourth C to twentieth C, was okay, and that now I could hear Gretchen - both as they should be. Then I went back to Boondock, as I was not yet gowned or masked. There was one point in the transition where something tugged at one's clothes and my ears popped - a static baffle against an air-pressure inequality, I knew. But ghostly, just the same.

Deety reported that the bombers' fighter escort was becoming airborne. The German Messerschmidts were equal to or better than the Spitfires, but they had to operate at the very limit of their range - it took most of their gasoline to get there and get back; they could engage in dogfighting only for a few minutes - or wind up in the Channel if they miscalculated.

Gwen Hazel said, ‘Dagmar. Take your station. '