Carl Obermeier, a cadet at the Time Corps Academy, discovers he has been admitted to his second year on Conditional status. This is due to his high “emotional liability.” He is advised to mediate and study the precepts and disciplines of the Corps. But on his first day back, his class is shown an example of Temporal Crime committed by the Time Pirates, enemy of the Ordered Society, and he is smitten by the pirate Armand’s beauty. Troubled, Carl remains true to the Corps when he is kidnapped by the pirates and meets Armand face to face.
Armand lives a free and easy life with the pirates ... until he sees Carl, and realizes the cadet has fallen for him.
As the pirates deprogram Carl from the rigid tenets of the Ordered Society, the two men fall in love. But a pirate’s life is never safe, and when Armand fails to return from an Action against the OS Marines, Carl steps up to save him. Unfortunately the men are caught on either side of the Time War. Can they find their way out?
The day of the Action dawned at last. Armand left to do preparation along with other members of the team. Carl headed down to the Operations Room, without a minder this time, and took stock of his console. The operators were put through this initial tests, and finally the doors opened and the team entered, clad in the strange, body-hugging fabric, dark in color that was supposed to have field-facilitating properties.
Armand winked at Carl as he passed. Carl smiled at him, but felt a pricking of tears in his eyes.
The Incursion field was generated, on the coordinates that had been scouted out previously. The blue circle of the incursion window flickered into being, while the six members of the team stood by in a relaxed posture, feet apart.
The field showed a room that was carved out of rock. Only the floor was smooth. From the packing cases, it seemed that the room must be a storage area for foodstuffs. There were two open passageways leading from the room and clearly visible to the rose barrier that marked the far end of the field. No human figure was in sight.
“Alright,” bellowed the Captain. “Mr Dalgliesh will as usual act as Controller for this mission. Go ahead Controller.”
“As you all know,” remarked the Controller, “this is the closest we can access. It is a local minimum in their Resistance field.”
He nodded to the leader of the raiding party, whose men moved rapidly forward into the displayed room and down the right-hand corridor.
“Reduce!” Dalgliesh barked, and immediately the blue faded into a more tenuous rose: the color of the Probe field. This preserved energy and reduced impression left by the pirates’ presence here, making it less likely the Corps security would swoop in.
The waiting began.
Less than an hour later sounds were heard, shouting and blaster discharges. Dimly three men were visible running back along the right-hand corridor. Two of the men were Enzo and Jamal. The third was not Armand. Enzo activated a hand-held device and an alarm sounded in the Operations Room.
“Request for shift to full Incursion field, sir,” commented the Controller.
“Do it!” the Captain barked.
Through the blue surface along the corridor a Corpsman appeared, moving cautiously, weapon drawn.
The three pirate raiders ran from the Incursion field, through the viewing window into the Operations Room, as more Corpsmen appeared in the corridor.
“Reduce to Probe level!” roared the captain. There was a low thunk that made the floor shiver, and the blue of the field quickly changed to rose. The Corpsmen seemed disoriented as they arrived in the storage room: the Incursion field having just vanished. Now that actual physical connection had been severed, attention in the Operations Room turned to the three pirate survivors. Carl saw that the third man was wounded.
“It was a trap,” Enzo said breathlessly. “Only three of us escaped this way. Armand took two other men a different way. Any sign of them?”
The Captain shook his head.
“There are lay lines incoming,” the Controller yelled. “They are attempting to get a fix on our location.”
“Pull out!” barked the Captain. The probe field at the front of the room collapsed.