Someone bumped into Glen and was rude about it, grabbed his suit jacket and turned him in a half-circle. The man was obviously in a big hurry and Glen had not been paying attention to where he was going. Glen could not do much more than brush off his suit and watch as two men in gray suits caught up with the man on the corner. The man put both hands up in the air like he was being arrested and the gray suits confirmed that impression by patting the man down. The three then turned the corner and walked out of sight, and Glen imagined those gentlemen had some questions.
Glen shrugged. It was 1994 and he was in Atlanta for a two day conference for the church. The church might have timed it better, though. The Olympics were going on and Glen could not imagine the exorbitant rates the out-of-towners had to pay for rooms. He was currently serving a small church in rural Georgia and while it was three hours away, he could at least sleep at home for free. Then again, he felt lucky to find parking even if it was some blocks from the conference. That was why he was walking.
Glen felt the weight in his inside jacket pocket right away. He looked up to shout to the gray suited men but they were already gone. He pulled the thing out. It was a slim piece of electronic something. He was not sure, but it looked familiar. When he looked up again he saw a face that was even more familiar than the object, and this familiarity came with a name.
“Lockhart,” he called and ran to the storefront where Lockhart and a younger gentleman were window shopping. “What are you doing here?” Glen paused. He knew the man but he could not place where. Lockhart returned Glen’s funny look before he responded.
“Glen, good to see you.” Lockhart’s expression changed from surprise to curious.
“Are you in town for the Olympics?” Glen asked while his mind said, where do I know this man from?
Lockhart nodded. “A little vacation.” He introduce his young friend. “Fyodor Stoloyovich. He just recently joined the organization.”
Glen shook the man’s hand. “Good for you,” he said while his mind frantically raced to remember what organization Lockhart was talking about.
Fyodor did not know what to say, like he did not know what he was allowed to say.
“I’m here for a church conference myself.” Glen shook his head. He did not know this man in a church context. That much was certain.
“We have some time to kill between events.” Lockhart spoke like it was just an ordinary pleasant morning, which it was—a pleasant early morning.
“Is he of the—organitsation?” Fyodor used the word Lockhart had used but mispronounced it with his heavy Russian accent.
“Yes. No.” Lockhart’s pleasant expression turned serious and then worried. “He is trouble. What is going on?”
Glen shook his head, but found his hand go for the gadget in his pocket. He glanced at the street corner where the gray suits had disappeared and looked back at Lockhart, confused. “A man just bumped into me and slipped this into my pocket right before he got arrested by a couple of gray suits. Have you ever seen anything like it?”
Lockhart shook his head, but Fyodor’s eyes got big. Glen and Lockhart looked at the man but he appeared to back off from whatever idea he had.
“What?” Lockhart insisted.
“Well.” Fyodor hesitated before he blurted it out. “It looks like a trigger—a timer of some kind.”
“For?” Lockhart was not going to let the man get off easily.
“Well. For a retro rocket, if it is former Soviet.”
Lockhart breathed. “Cosmonaut.” He told Glen and pointed with his thumb. Glen smiled but now he was really confused. What organization employed former Cosmonauts and who on earth was Lockhart?
“Or a bomb,” Fyodor added. “Like a bik bomb.” He made a face and lifted his hands. “Boom.”
“Maybe we should take it to the police,” Glen suggested but Lockhart was not finished.
“How big a bomb?”
“What is the word? Yes, Atomic. An atomic bomb.”
Lockhart had a mobile phone and he made a quick call. Glen wanted to drop the gadget from his hand but did not dare. He was afraid it might explode on contact with the sidewalk. He tried to hand it to Fyodor but Fyodor would not touch it. Lockhart made several calls and Glen got more uncomfortable by the second. At last, Lockhart returned from phone-land.
“We have an appointment with the FBI,” he said. “And you need to come with us.” That was not what Glen wanted to do, but somehow he felt he was not going to get much out of the church conference.
They were met at the door by the two men in gray suits. Glen recognized them because one had a full head of red hair and the other had no hair at all. Lockhart flashed his billfold for the men and Fyodor did the same. The men looked impressed at whatever was in the billfolds and the redhead immediately asked, “Is this the man who found it?” He spoke over Glen’s head as if Glen was not even there.
“Yes he is and lucky for you,” Lockhart said. “Though he says there is no such thing as chance or accident in this universe.” He went to escort Glen into the building but the bald one blocked the way. “Of all the people on this planet and maybe in this galaxy, he is the best chance we have to find out what is going on here and stop it.”
“May I see the detonator?” The bald one wanted it.
“It’s not a detonator,” Glen responded as he pulled it out. “It is a temporal trigger as Fyodor said. At least Martok calls it that.” He looked at Lockhart. “Who is Martok?” He did not wait for an answer. “You still have that man on ice? The Princess says hold on to him until she can get here to follow him and see where he goes. Lockhart?” Glen collapsed.
“Help me.” Lockhart kept Glen from hitting the floor and Fyodor stepped up to help. They pushed their way into the building and the red head found a room with some privacy. The bald one got the trigger, but then he did not know quite what to do with it. The FBI expert had not yet arrived.