Duncan picked up his phone and dialed. "Liam, what's going on with the timeline?"
"You're not going to believe this," Liam replied with a note of disbelief in his voice. "When Ryan died, the timeline skewed right off the charts. The computers have all crashed with fatal errors. I think we're headed towards a major paradox," he said with a shudder.
"Ok. Is travellator 4 ready?"
"Ready whenever you are."
"Good. Has Adrienne returned."
"A few minutes ago."
"Ok. Thanks." He hung up and hit the overhead page button. "Adrienne, please come to my office." He turned to Connor. "I have a job for the two of you." As Adrienne came in and sat down, Duncan continued, "I want the two of you to dig into the backgrounds of the members of the Tribunal. See if there is any connection between the Tribunal and Ryan's cases. Somebody is out to get Ryan. I'm leaving in a few minutes to stop the attack on Ryan in prison. The more I study this situation the more I'm convinced that we have a temporal causality loop on our hands. Somehow Ryan and this Ethan Evans are connected." As an afterthought he added, "See what information is available as to when and who created the universal STD vaccines and HIV cure." All of this is connected somehow. I can feel it. I just need to figure out how and to fix the timeline before a catastrophic paradox happens. "Let's get this done."
He walked into the control room, dressed as a corrections officer from 2132, complete with credentials and stepped into the travellator, nodding to Liam. A half hour later he returned, looking much worse for wear. "I wasn't able to completely stop the attack on Ryan, which was actually instigated by the guards, but I was able to get it under control. Ryan sustained some injuries, but at least he'll live," he said to a much relieved Liam and Connor. I want to see everyone in the conference room in a half hour," he ordered as he left to take a shower and tend to his bruises.
Looking around the conference room at the assembled faces, Duncan began, "Okay, who's going to break the bad news?"
Adrienne spoke up. "So far, we haven't found any connection between any of Ryan's cases and members of the tribunal. We're digging into the backgrounds of their immediate family members. If that doesn't turn up anything we'll dig deeper and deeper until we find something."
"All of this is connected somehow. I know it," Duncan spoke his thoughts out loud for the first time. Everyone around the room nodded in agreement.
"I have a surprise for you, Duncan," Adrienne said with a smile on her face.
"I'm all ears."
"The universal STD vaccine was created in 2133 at the same hospital where Ethan Evans was treated, by a Doctor Jonathan Thomason, the same doctor that treated Evans. The HIV cure was created a year later. There's your proof of the temporal causality loop." Everyone cheered.
"So Ryan going back in time and administering the drugs as a necessary temporal event. Awesome news. However, I'm gong to need irrefutable proof to take to the tribunal."
"We already have it," Connor spoke up, sliding a file across the table to Duncan who picked it up and scanned it quickly. "Excellent work, you two. Now, if we could just find some kind of connection to the tribunal, I'll be a happy man. There's just no reson for them to refuse my appeal."
"We'll find something boss. Just give us a little more time."
A severely beaten but stable Ryan was being wheeled into the emergency room just as Ethan was leaving after having more blood work done, proving once again that he was HIV-free.Through barely open eyes, Ryan spotted Ethan as they passed each other. He reached out and took hold of Ethan's arm. "Ethan." His voice barely came out as a whisper.
At the shock of the strange tingling he felt in his arm where he was gripped, he stopped in his tracks and looked at the barely conscious man on the stretcher. "Do I know you?"
"Not yet, but you will," Ryan whispered as the medics continued to wheel him through the emergency room to a secure area.
Ethan turned and watched as Ryan was wheeled away, his hand rubbing his arm where Ryan and grabbed him. It was then that he noticed his heart was racing. He started following until he was stopped by security. Shrugging his shoulders, he turned, left the hospital and headed home.That was certainly strange. Walking into the living room he found his brother with his feet propped up watching an action movie, enjoying a rare day off.
"And?" Chris queried, raising one eyebrow.
"Still clean, but the weirdest thing happened at the hospital. I left through the emergency room since it was the closest exit to the lab A badly beaten guy grabbed my arm and whispered my name." Ethan subconsciously rubbed his arm where Ryan and grabbed him. "It felt weird, kinda tingly. The weirdest part is that it felt familiar, as if he had touched me before, but I've never seen him before in my life."
"That is weird. Are you sure you've never seen him before?"
Ethan was quiet for a few minutes as he thought about it. "Well," he began thoughtfully, "he was pretty beat up, so I guess it's possible that I might have seen him somewhere but I doubt it. Nobody has touched me like that in a very long time. Nor appeared in my dreams like a guy who looked kinda like him did last night.
Late that night Liam, Connor, Adrienne and several others were gathered around the conference room table, files and paperwork scattered everywhere. "We're close to something. I can feel it. It's right here in front of us, only we're just not seeing it." Connor exclaimed.