"As well as presenting a danger to the people of California, this civil discord has far
reaching consequences for America as a nation," said Governor Haverstock grimly. "Our
religious differences have to be resolved as peacefully as possibly. To that end I have
received permission from the President to use the services of the NTA."
           Des turned away from the TV and said, "That's the National Time Administration,
           "Of course it is," I spluttered. The NTA and NASA started at about the same time and
we'd all been learning about them in school ever since. Everyone knew what the acronyms
stood for. National Time Administration. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
            Then I checked his face. Why was he making that particular point?
            Des pointed at the TV screen. "Watch."
            The Governor turned to someone off camera and beckoned. A tall, dark haired woman
stepped on to the stage to stand next to him. She wore a navy skirt suit, with the NTA
silver infinity symbol shinning on her breast pocket.
            Haverstock introduced her saying, "Time Marshal Victoria Dupree, the most senior
field officer in the National Time Administration, will undertake the mission." He gave her a
nod of respect. "She will transpond back to Rome in 8AD and investigate the ancient leader
of the Isis worshippers, the Hierophant."
            The screen then went into a close-up of the time marshal. She didn't look like she'd
let much get in her way. I'd read somewhere once that the time marshals were all law officers,
just like the first astronauts were all pilots.
            The marshals still had an air of the Wild West to their reputation. Gung ho. Against all
odds. Macho. Their missions, on behalf of their own government and as a favour to others,
had covered every time and place in our collective histories. The Civil War...France during
the Revolution...Rome during the Fall.
            "I wonder what missions she's been on?" I mumbled. "I must look them up..."
           An old black and white photograph of a much younger Dupree, replaced the press
conference close-up.
           "Kannon." Des tapped my hand. "This is it."
           I lent forward trying to read his face. "What are you talking about Des? What do you
mean 'this is it'?"
           "Just listen, Kannon, please."
           "This is not the first time Marshal Dupree has been at the centre of a furore." The
news anchor's voice droned on over the black and white photo of Dupree. "Twenty years ago,
Victoria Dupree was a San Francisco homicide detective. Criminals involved in a murder
case she was investigating abducted her young daughter, Celeste. She was two at the time."
           Twenty years ago... Marshal Dupree's daughter was abducted when she was two...
           My heart started to pound.
           Des looked at me, nodded, and then turned back to the screen.
           The screen changed to a colour photo of a young Victoria Dupree kneeling with her
arms around a little girl. A little girl with big black eyes, and white blonde hair swept up in a
ponytail. She was dressed in a cream, frilly dress and black tap shoes. They were both
smiling into the camera.
           "Tragically," said the news anchor. "Celeste was never found."
           Des pushed the pause button and the picture froze in place.
           He rose and, next to the image of the affectionate mother and happy child, he slapped
a black and white photo taken of me the day I was found. The photo was smaller in scale than
the screen image, but it was easy to see the likeness. Each showed the same little girl with
dark eyes, framed by long white hair.
           Des tapped the screen image with one stubby finger. "I believe that Victoria Dupree is
your mother. That you are Celeste."

The Timestalker Series
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