McNeil looked on silently, uncomfortable with the persistent religious theme that seemed to pervade Tilston's program. He made a mental note to speak with Tilston about his "theology" teachings later. For now, McNeil noticed that technicians and guards were evacuating the room as the sounds of whirring machinery grew evermore deafening.
"Come, Senator - it's time to retreat to the mission control center," Tilston announced, guiding McLean back through the entrance. The thick blast doors hammered close behind them, minimizing the loud reverberations coming from within. Dr. Tilston walked quickly towards another entranceway, directing the Senator into a room filled with scientists, a medical team and a dizzying array of computer and wall-mounted screens. Images of the mammoth time machine appeared to be streaming into the command center live.
"From in here you can watch the entire show, Senator," Tilston said, guiding McNeal towards a row of chairs, "I'm just going to check through the systems one last time." Tilston hurried off to peer over technicians' shoulders, quietly asking questions as he bustled around the room.
McNeal stared in awe as the giant cone groaned to life and began to spin - every-other layer of the giant device spinning in the opposite direction, lending a feeling of chaos to the mechanism. As the individual parts reached unimaginable speeds, the cone appeared whole once more. As McNeal watched, sparks of light began to flicker within the interior of the time machine, illuminating the gears and joints within. Within moments, a blinding radiance emanated from the tip of the cone, bathing the platform in an eerie bluish glow.
Suddenly, with little warning, a final flash erupted from the contraption and McNeal could hear its engines slowing down. The platform held an empty chair.
"Well, Senator?" Tilston stepped over the McNeal, a triumphant smile on his face.
"Yes, magnificent...um...what now?" McNeal hoped he had successfully hid the subtle feelings of horror that raced through his mind.
"Now," Tilston's eyes were wide and eager, "We search for our sign."
Dr. Helms stood over his drawing table, studying the scattered topography charts which lay before him. Wiping beads of sweat from his brow, the aging archeologist was grateful for this brief respite from the sun and sand. Moments later, however, the sound of excited cries and running brought Helms to the entrance of his tent.
"Arzt Helms!" yelled one of the diggers, running towards the archeologist, "Arzt Helms, Ich habe gefunden-"
"In English, son," Helms said, once again amused by the myriad of ethnicities collected within this particular project.
"Es tut mir leid, Arzt Helms...We...We found..." the young man stammered, struggling to find the correct words amidst his excitement, "We found...come...!" Frustrated, the young man grabbed Helms' hand and pulled him towards the most recent dig site.
Upon reaching the edge of the hole, Helms immediately saw the cause of everyone's excitement - half-immersed within the desert lay an ancient pillar. At first glance, the formation appeared to be made of simple bricks, crammed together in a display of crude craftsmanship. However, it wasn't the structure itself which caught everyone's attention - it was the eroded markings carved onto the bricks.
Helms knew for a fact that, at this level of soil, artifacts and buildings were dated to the first century - or even as early as 50A.D. However, the carving on the tablet before him was in perfect English - a language that had simply not existed during this period.
Stepping down into the hole, Helms brushed the remaining sand from the pillar and began reading:
Let this be a memorial to future generations.
- Subject A1103
With the grace of God the Father guiding me, I have arrived in the past.
The language I learned in preparation for my voyage has allowed me minimal communicate with local villagers.
They call this land "Judea", and it is under the oppressive rule of Rome and Emperor Augustus.
These people suffer under tyrants; they worship an angry and bitter god.
I now see my true purpose here - the reason God has sent me to this time is to free these peoples' minds and souls.
I have begun to teach them the ways of God - of the patience and kindness of God - as you have taught me, Dr. Tilston.
A small group of men follow me and believe, and our numbers grow with each new village we visit.
I hope and pray that my teachings of peace, love and compassion reach forward through the generations, echoing through history, and make future wars and cruelty a distant memory.
I believe I can change the future, Dr. Tilston - change your present - for the better.
I am with you always, until the very end of time.