Chapter 10 : The Temporal Department
Where they were going was an unassuming building that would not draw the eye which was good, considering it contained one of the best kept secrets in Britain and, indeed, the world. The car drove into a underground garage through a hard-to-find entrance where they parked up and waited for a moment before Alfred was startled as the car began to descend into the ground and a panel slid closed over them. When the car finished its descent, they left it and the Kirklands took Alfred to an elevator that had a card reader. Peter took a card out of his inner jacket pocket and slid the card through the reader and a panel opened, revealing an eyepiece that Peter looked into. There was a flash of red as the scanner read the back of Peter's eye and a light on the card scanner flashed green, opening the elevator doors. They all got in and Peter pressed down, everyone feeling that weird turn in their stomachs as the elevator dropped. It descended for a couple of minutes and Alfred wondered just how far under ground they were before it slowed and the elevator doors opened on to a corridor with other corridors branching off it. They walked down and turned off into the third corridor on the right and it led down to, what looked like, another elevator but, in front of the door was a desk with a blonde man in his twenties sat behind it. They walked up to the desk and the man behind the desk looked up with blue eyes.
"Bonjour, Commodore Kirkland," he greeted with a French accent, clearly used to seeing Peter.
"Hello, Lieutenant Bonnefoy," Peter replied. Alfred's eyebrows shot up. Bonnefoy! Had that not been Marianne's family name?
"This is Lieutenant Jean-Paul Bonnefoy," Peter introduced. "He's the great, great grandson of Francis Bonnefoy, Marianne's brother. Lieutenant, this is Alfred F Jones, codename Tempus."
" I have a codename!" Alfred exclaimed. "Cool!" Jean-Paul smiled.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Monsieur Jones," he said. "There are not enough thanks for what you have done for my family." Alfred tried to think about what he had done for Marianne but could not think of anything and he had never even met Francis Bonnefoy.
"Dude," he replied. "I met your great, great, great aunt but I can't think of anything that I did for …..."
"You misunderstand, Monsieur Jones," Jean-Paul said. "I'm talking about my great grandfather."
"Lieutenant, we're here to see General Andersson," Peter did not want to keep the General waiting.
"Of course, Commodore," Jean-Paul replied. "You know the procedure." He pushed a button on the table and a panel turned round, showing a hand reader. Peter put his hand on the panel and a light ran down the panel, reading Peter's finger prints and palm and it glowed green. While the other Kirklands put their hands on the reader, Jean-Paul took a visitor's card out of a drawer and handed it to Alfred.
"A visitor's pass, Monsieur Jones," he said. "It authorises you to be here." Alfred nodded and clipped the pass to his jacket. When everyone was accounted for, Jean-Paul announced the arrival of the guests over the intercom, the doors opened and they went through. There was another corridor beyond that with more doors at the end but first they had to go through a security scanner in front of it, manned by another soldier who said nothing but let them pass when the scanner cleared them and they went to the door. Peter knocked and they heard, "Come in!" and he opened the door.
General Lars Andersson had been waiting for this day for a long time and he knew he would be here for it but almost feared that he would not live to see it. He was ninety-three and in a wheelchair now, so different from when he was twenty, when it all began. The blonde, spiky hair of his youth was now grey and his green eyes now sat in a face full of lines. A vast change from when his saviour from the future came to his aid, time and again and, while it was at the end for him, it was just beginning for his twenty-first century friend.
The Kirkland group came in with Alfred F Jones, codename Tempus and he knew for certain the day had arrived.
"Hallo, Commodore," he greeted in a Dutch accent. "Hallo, Kirkland Brothers. I see you have Tempus with you so I assume everything went to plan?"
"Perfectly, General," Peter replied. "The weapon was destroyed and the war ended before they could rebuild it and, as you see, the Kirkland family is intact."
"Good!" Lars replied and turned to Alfred. "And may I call you Alfred? I think it's time we explained everything to you?"
"Would be nice," Alfred replied. Lars indicated to Peter to do the honours.
"This is the Temporal Department," Peter said. "Simply known as The Department on the outside. After the destruction of the sound weapon, my grandfather was debriefed to explain just how he destroyed the weapon and the helicopter had been seen by too many people so he couldn't deny its existence. Even to this day, there's a conspiracy theory about a helicopter seen above the trenches in WWI. Arthur told them everything, about you, the trip to the future, bringing back the helicopter and the destruction of the weapon with it. The result was this, a secret department, dedicated to temporal anomalies and maintaining the time-line, created by the British government and then became a part of the United Nations when it was formed in 1945. Practically, everyone attached to this department has been affected by a time jumper or is a time jumper themselves. Your codename, as you know, is 'Tempus' and Arthur is referred to as 'Fugit', as in the Latin 'Tempus Fugit' meaning 'Time Flies'."
"The destruction of the sound weapon is not the end, my friend," Lars told Alfred. "The next time you jump, the 'Top Brass' as the British called their highest officers, will be interested in you. You must not tell them anything about future events but you can tell them everything about the time jumps from your perspective. Dates, times, what you were doing when it happened, the record of that is vital for Commodore Kirkland. By the way, his codename is Timelord as all temporal operations go through him and he will be the one you work with the most if you decide to work with us."
"What if I decide I don't want to?" Alfred asked.
"That's your choice, Alfred," Lars replied. "Time jumps will continue but, if you join us, you'll have access to vast resources that would be otherwise denied to you. It would be better for you to work with us, as we have the knowledge of when you will jump and what you will be needed to do. Arthur Kirkland's long life may depend on it."
"Way to guilt trip a guy," Alfred muttered. If he said no and did something wrong that resulted in Arthur Kirkland's death, then he would lose his friend and every Kirkland in this room might cease to exist.
As well as Alice!
"I don't have much choice, do I?" Alfred replied. "Okay, I'm in!"
"Good," Lars replied. "You have made the right choice, Alfred. We have resources throughout the world, even in America and with your family's history, or should I say future history, you will need them."
"What do you mean, my family's future history?" Alfred asked.
"Let's just say, time travel runs in the family," Peter replied. "You'll discover soon enough." Alfred just hoped it did not mean that any of his future kids would be time jumpers too.
"Commodore," Lars said. "I will leave Alfred in the capable hands of you and your family. Teach him what he needs to know. Alfred?"
"Hmm," Alfred replied.
"Welcome to the team!" Alfred gave a mock salute and everyone turned to leave. As the door shut, Lars sat back in his wheelchair and smiled.
In a year, it would all begin!
The Kirklands drove Alfred back to the hotel and a tearful reunion with Alice who had been worried sick about Alfred and she met her distant cousins. The hotel manager was not happy to see Alfred back after everything that had happened but a quick explanation (AKA a cover story) from Peter allowed Alfred enough time for him to collect his stuff and they were taken to Kirkland Manor.
On the way, they collected Feliks from the police station, having discovered him being held there when they went to sort out the mess caused by the shooting and the helicopter theft. Peter talked to the officer in charge, telling him that, no, Alfred was not insane! He had been working with Air Intelligence on something (and, no, he could not tell them what, that was classified!) and his friends had become worried about, what they thought was, his strange behaviour, leading to Feliks to make the silly mistake of pretending to be a psychiatrist in order to get his friend the help he thought he needed. The story about Alfred going back to 1917? That had been a joke he had told Alice but, coupled with the way he had been behaving, Alice thought that Alfred really believed it and thought he needed help too.
And the shooting incident? And why had the gun been confiscated by the army? Well, that was evidence but the safety had failed and the gun had gone off. Peter said he was just grateful that no one had been shot.
The missing helicopter had been brought up and Peter apologised, stating that the helicopter had been urgently needed and they had had no time to ask permission (and, no, he could not tell them why) but the cost of the helicopter would be reimbursed.
The officer in charge was not sure he bought the whole story and was going to argue the point when he was called away for a phone call. When he came back, he begrudgingly accepted everything and let everyone go. Muttering something about 'bloody spooks', he released Feliks with a caution, saying the next time he thought one of his friends was a nutjob, inform real medical professionals and do not pretend to be a shrink!
They booked Feliks into another hotel and, after dropping him off there, went straight to Kirkland Manor, a modest 18th century manor house and Alfred stood, in what used to be, Arthur's home when his family were not moving around on the orders of the military and he found pictures on the walls of the Kirkland brothers in various stages of their lives, as well as other Kirkland ancestors. One picture of all of them as children, showed Arthur at age six, wearing a little green suit and holding a rabbit, his brothers around him with Allistor, as the oldest, standing dominant over them all with Patrick and Rhys standing at either side with no indication that they would become one of the best fighting units of WWI. Peter took them all into the library where they sat on sofas in front of a fireplace. All in all, somewhat reminiscent of Peter's lair at Tower Bridge.
"First things first!" Peter said. "No one outside of the department is to know about your time jumping, Alfred. Alice already knows and, as she has been affected by it, I have permission to bring her into the loop but it can't go any further at this time."
"So I can't even tell Mattie?" Alfred asked. "But he's gonna be affected too if I keep disappearing through time at a moment's notice."
"There'll come a time when you can discuss it with your brother," Peter replied. "Just not right now. And certainly don't discuss it with that Feliks fellow! That was a pretty mess we had to sort out and I don't believe that officer bought the explanation. Now Alfred, you'll be trained in things, such as combat and the like because, more often than not, you'll be jumping into combat situations and you'll need to know how to fight properly if you are to safeguard both Arthur and your own life."
"What about my life here in 2017?" Alfred asked. "I've just started a new business, I can't abandon it!" Peter waved that off.
"We have the knowledge of when and where you'll jump," he replied. "So we can work around that but you need to learn how to use the weaponry of the past, how it works, how to strip it down and put it back together and how to use it safely. There'll come a time when you'll face greater dangers than you have already."
"Great!" Alfred replied, sarcastically.
"Just how dangerous?" Alice asked, worriedly. Scott patted her on the shoulder.
"Don't worry," he said, reassuringly. "At this point, there's no indication that Alfred ever died in the past." Alice gave a sigh of relief.
"Well, I can help cover the business," she replied. "So Alfred can train and I'll try to keep Feliks under control and out of your hair."
"Excellent!" Peter replied. "I knew I could count on you, Alice." Alice looked contrite.
"I'm sorry, Grandpa," she said. "You were right all these years and I just thought you were demented." Liam gave a laugh and Aidan smiled.
"Welcome to the Time Travel Roller-coaster," he quipped.
Back in 1917, Frau Adelhied Beilschmidt looked down at her now fatherless children. Three year old Gilbert was curled up in his bed and six month old Ludwig was asleep in his crib. What would the future hold for them now, she did not know but they would grow up, knowing what a brave hero their father was, she would see to that!
Wolfgang lay in a bed of the infirmary of the nearest German base the soldiers who had found him had come to. The last thing he remembered was jumping from his plane as it passed over the trees and he was thrown into them by the blast and then began to fall to the ground, the branches breaking his fall and a few bones in the process. Some of the men who had been running from the helicopter found his unconscious body and carried him back to the base and he had been there ever since, unconscious for a few days as his body healed itself.
He had no idea that some panicking officer who had seen his plane go down, had reported him dead and a message had been sent to his wife to that effect. As he lay there, he thought only one thing. He and Kirkland would meet again, of that he was certain.
It was only a matter of time.
A year had passed since Alfred joined the Temporal Department of the UN and, just as he was warned, he jumped and the British Top Brass of all three militaries were fascinated by this visitor from the future, wanting him to tell stuff from the future and tried to get their hands on him, not an easy task when Alfred usually popped up when Arthur was in the field at some kind of risk. Alfred just told Arthur how he came to be in 1917, the times, dates, where he was and what he was doing at the time he jumped. Arthur or one of his brothers, who now knew the truth about Alfred, wrote it down in a report to the Top Brass officers, opting to keep them away from Alfred, fearing what some might do to get the information, despite Alfred being an ally.
Eventually, they managed to get the Top Brass to back off with the argument that if they got the information they wanted and used it wrong, they could, potentially, wipe out Alfred's future existence and undo everything he had done up to now and it was decided that it was not worth the risk so they eventually left it alone.
Peter had asked Alfred if he wanted to visit Arthur's grave but Alfred elected not to because, although he knew Arthur was dead in his time, it seemed abstract to Alfred, like it was nothing to do with him or Arthur but seeing Arthur's grave would make it real and he was afraid that he would start being weird around Arthur if he thought of Arthur as being really dead and make it difficult for him to behave normally around Arthur, a risky thing in the dangerous situations that they would often find themselves in.
But now Alfred faced something much more scary than a battlefield or over-zealous superior officers trying to force information from him.
He and Alice were getting married.
Alfred, Alice and her grandfather had talked long and seriously about the past and the future. Alice had to deal with the fact that her future husband was a time jumper and it was necessary for the existence of the Kirkland family. They talked about the theory that Arthur had, that Alice and the helicopter had only jumped with Alfred because of the part she played in saving them at the bunker and the helicopter in destroying the sound weapon and that things and people would not necessarily time-jump with him every time, at which point Alfred confronted Peter with why he had given Alfred the WWI uniform and rifle if he was never going to use it. Peter shrugged and said that it was in the reports and besides, it was good for a laugh.
Alfred stood at the altar, dressed to the nines and waiting for Alice to walked down the aisle while Matthew and Feliks stood beside him, dressed in similar wedding tuxedos. Somehow, Alfred had ended up with both as his best man and he still did not know how that happened, some kind of misunderstanding so it was decided that Feliks would give the ring to Matthew and Matthew would give the ring to Alfred.
The music started and Alfred turned to see Alice, a vision in white, walked slowly down the aisle on the arm of her father, Robert who had the Kirkland eyes. And the Kirkland eyebrows! Alfred just hope that, if he and Alice had boys, they escaped that particular curse. Peter, Scott, Liam and Aidan were sat in the front pew with Alice's joyfully teary-eyed mother, Olivia, a small woman with strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes who already regarded Alfred like a long lost son.
They had chosen this day for the wedding because they knew Alfred was not going to jump. Imagine the vicar saying 'Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?' and the groom disappeared! Alice could not get that image out of her head as she came up to Alfred's side but Alfred remained just where he was, where he was supposed to be. Many a bride had a fear that the groom would disappear on the wedding day but she had a legitimate reason to fear it, literally.
"Dearly beloved," the vicar boomed out. "We are gathered here in the sight of …..(Blah, blah, blah)" Alice kept her eyes on Alfred which brought her grandfather and cousins into her line of sight over his shoulder, all of them were checking their watches and not in a 'Oh how much longer is this going to take?' kind of way. Had they lied about this being a jump-free day for Alfred, because if this was their idea of a joke, she was going to kill all four of them.
"Do you have the rings?" the vicar asked, bringing Alice back to the ceremony and the wedding party all turned to Feliks. Feliks looked panicked for a moment and he dug into his pocket. After a few seconds of rummaging around, he pulled his hand out, holding everything that was in there. Pocket fluff, an opened tube of sweets, a handkerchief and, among the miscellaneous pocket dwellers was the gold band that Alfred had entrusted to Feliks. Matthew rolled his eyes as Feliks picked out the ring, dropping everything else except the handkerchief which he used to give the ring a polish and that was when Matthew heard it and looked up at the stained-glass window.
Funny, he thought. I don't remember a thunderstorm in the weather forecast!
In the pews, Scott, Liam and Aidan were counting down.
"Five," they muttered, quietly. "Four, three, two, one!"
Lightning filled the church.
Feliks finished cleaning the ring and turned to give it to Matthew, to give to Alfred.
Matthew was gone!