Excerpt for Time Paradox (Time Travel) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



T I M E

Paradox


(Vol. 3)


By Brian K. Larson






Time Paradox


Brian K. Larson


Published by Slipstream Publishing

at Smashwords

Copyright © 2017 Brian K. Larson



No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any way by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author except as provided by USA copyright law.


This is a work of fiction, all the characters and events in this novel that appear similar to persons living or dead are unintentional and are completely coincidental.













Dedication



~ To faithful fans ~

Without you, I would not be sparking imaginations.

That is all...


Author, Brian K. Larson



Contents



One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-One

Epilogue

More Works




One



The only way we know time exists, is from our own perceptions. Time is our greatest treasure, and we only have so much allotted. Time has become our ruler over our lives; a foe we cannot combat or fight. Yet, we continue to wage battles at defeating time and its effects. These skirmishes with time are to no avail, as time will always win its battle.

If you could travel back in time, where would you go? When would you visit? What would you change? Think carefully, for even the smallest changes will cause unknown ripples in how things become.



Author,

Brian K. Larson



Earth

Present Day

Antarctica



The Bell helicopter batted at the wind with its four blades. Carrying two high ranking Government officials from the United States, they flew low to the ice-covered ground.

“How much further to the site?” General Patterson asked.

“We’re ten minutes out, Sir,” the pilot, Captain Randal Price, reported. The wiry man guided the chopper across the ice and snow laden backdrop with precision and ease.

“You say this is the place where Lieutenant Colonel Worsley bought it?” Major Rachel Henderson asked.

General Patterson turned to the young Major, who wore her jet-black hair back in a ponytail, answered, “No, not the place he died, but that’s the place he rested. On day seventy and seventy-one of his attempt at crossing the Antarctica solo, he suffered from exhaustion and severe dehydration. Eventually he radioed for help and was airlifted to Punta Arenas, Chile. He was diagnosed with bacterial peritonitis. On January twenty-fourth of this year, he died of organ failure in a Chilean hospital.”

“He was attempting the first ever crossing, you say?”

“Yeah,” the General answered, “Worsley's intention was to follow in the spirit of his hero, Shackleton.”

“Shackleton, Sir?”

“Yes, Major, you better brush up on your history. Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton was an explorer who in 1901 joined an expedition to the Antarctic. Devoted to creating a legacy, he led the Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Disaster struck when his ship, the Endurance, was crushed by ice. Worsley wanted to follow in Shackleton’s footsteps.”

“Too bad he didn’t make it, Sir.”

“Well, if it wasn’t for Worsley’s attempted expedition, we wouldn’t have found what we did out here.”

“Right, Sir,” Major Henderson nodded, “How long do we think it’s been here, Sir?”

“Colonel Dorsey estimates it’s been down there for hundreds of years.”

“So, it was Worsley’s illness that caused us to discover it. Do they think it had anything to do with his body shutting down?”

“That’s purely speculation at this point,” the General answered, “No one else has contracted any sickness. The doctors think it was genuine exhaustion and his body just couldn’t take the stresses of the weather.”

“Excuse me, Sir,” Captain Price said over their headsets, “I think you said it was bacterial peritonitis.”

The General raised his eyebrows, “Yes, that’s what they say, but it could have been something from what’s down there.”

“...and that’s why we’re being called out here, Sir?” Major Henderson asked.

“Yes, besides the fact, this is likely the most important archeological find in history.”

“We’re coming up on the landing pad in one minute. Buckle down, gentlemen,” Captain Price warned, “These landings can be pretty rough in this wind!”

General Patterson synched his straps tight and gave the pilot an okay, “Take us down, Captain!”

The chopper rode the wind as the pilot turned and then finally hovered over the landing platform. Several men outside the perimeter were ready with tie downs. The chopper lowered and set down on the center of the pad. Captain Price shut his engines down and turned off the helicopter’s electronics.

General Patterson patted the Captain on the shoulder and then unbuckled his harness, “You made that look easy.”

“Thank you, Sir. Lots of practice.”

“Bundle up it’s cold out there,” Major Henderson nodded, pulling her parka hood over her head.

“What is the current temperature out there right now?” General Patterson asked.

“It’s minus sixty today, Sir,” Captain Price smiled.

“Ah, a bit balmy today, eh’?”

“Yes, Sir, a regular heat wave. Come on, Sirs, It’s about a hundred yards to the shack. These men will secure our chopper. More bad weather is expected tonight.”

General Patterson popped the door open, the wind catching him off guard, pulled the door from his hand.

“Sorry about that, Price. I’ll buy you a new door when we get back.”

The men hopped out of the chopper and set their feet firm on the ice-covered landing pad.

Blocking the wind with their arms, the men made their way to the site’s upper building.

Entering the make-shift shack, the men struggled to pull the door closed. Finally, the wind relented and the men closed the door with a clunk.

“There!” Major Henderson smiled, taking her parka hood from her head.

“It’s a lot nicer inside,” Captain Price added.

Major Henderson walked over to a hatch and rotated the wheel on the top. She tugged on the lid, pulling it open exposed a ladder descending down into darkness.

A click of a light switch revealed the ladder descended more than a hundred feet.

“No elevator?” Major Henderson protested.

“Nope, sorry, Major,” General Patterson answered. “We climb.”

“Colonel Dorsey and Major Prescott are waiting below at the site.”

Major Henderson began her decent, followed by Captain Price and finally, the General, who reached for the lid and pulled it shut on his way down.

Reaching the bottom of the ladder, Major Henderson stepped aside, allowing her two companions to exit the cylinder they descended.

The dimly lit room echoed the hollow sound of the lower door being opened. The flood of light caused the three to squint as a man stood at the doorway.

“Colonel Dorsey, I presume,” the General surmised.

Colonel Dorsey stepped aside allowing the three to enter the lower station. Bringing his hand to a salute, “General Patterson.”

The two shook hands after the General returned his salute, “Yes. Colonel, this is Major Rachel Henderson; special extraterrestrial intelligence, and Captain Randal Price, our pilot.”

Major Henderson and Captain Price saluted the Colonel.

“At ease,” Colonel Dorsey said, with his chiseled chin shining in the bright lights.

“I’m sorry, Captain Price, but this will be as far as you can go.”

Captain Price held his hands out, “I understand, Sir; no clearance to see what it is down here.”

“Glad you understand,” Colonel Dorsey nodded, “It’s better we find out what it is we’re really dealing with here.”

“So, we’re really not clear about it, then,” Major Henderson inquired. “Is it extraterrestrial or...”

Colonel Dorsey shot Henderson a glare, quickly interrupting her, “That’s enough, Major. Captain Price’s clearance.”

“Sorry, Sir, but he already knows what division I’m from. I’m sure it’s not much of a stretch for the Captain to figure out what it is we’re here for.”

“Just the same, Major, I would appreciate your discretion.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Major Prescott will take us to the excavation. It’s not far from here,” Colonel Dorsey motioned with his hand.

“No time like the present,” Major Henderson smiled.

“Glad to see your enthusiasm, Major.”

“Thank you, Colonel, this is a chance in a lifetime in my field.”

“Quite possibly, you will make it into the history books,” Colonel Dorsey added.

The door at the end of the corridor opened, revealing several workers busy with their tasks, and another man standing at the door.

“General Patterson,” the man saluted, “Good to see you again, Sir.”

The General returned a lazy salute and extended his hand to shake, “Major Prescott. Let’s get to it, shall we?”

“Right this way,” Major Prescott motioned.

The group entered the snow and ice covered excavation to a metallic curved wall that appeared to be a hatch to a space ship.

“Here she is, General... Major...”

The two looked at the site. Major Henderson grew a wide smile, “Wow, this is so amazing. Can I touch it?”

“Yes, Major, of course,” Major Prescott answered.

“You say this has been down here, under the ice for several hundred years?”

“That’s right, Major,” Prescott answered. “And I am very excited to have you here on our team when we crack it open.”

“You mean to tell me, you’ve not even been inside yet?”

“We wanted to save it for the expert in the field.”

Rachel blushed, “Gosh, Major Prescott, I have to say I’m honored.”

Major Prescott smiled as he watched Rachel run her hand across the smooth metal surface, “It’s got such a strange feel to it. It’s like metal I’ve never seen before... fascinating!”

“You think it’s origins are extraterrestrial, Major?” General Patterson asked.

“I don’t think so, General.” Pointing to a panel, “Have you tried to dig the ice off of this? It appears to be an inscription written here.”

“We have only finished excavation around the hatch. Be my guest, Major.”

She reached into her pocket for a knife and opened it. Scraping the blade on the ice, she chipped at the ice-covered writing.

Rubbing the ice dust with her hand she gasped, “I don’t believe this!”

“What is it, Major?” Prescott asked.

“It reads...A-e-v-u-s... Aevus...”

“That means time in Latin, doesn’t it,” Major Prescott asked.

“Yes, that’s what it means alright,” Major Henderson answered.



Two



FTL Year:

2518/10/12 - 13:42:16

Gliese 667

The Aevus



“Three... two... one... Target in range!”

Bo shrugged as Jonas gave the fire order. Pressing the firing sequence three missiles rocketed from the hull of their ship.

“Hold on, changing course, now!” Jonas turned the ship from their present heading and flew into a low orbit and away from the impending detonation.

The missiles impacted on the second Aevus, sending a massive debris field out in all directions.

“Tip, track that other Aevus and tell me when they fire breaking thrusters.”

“I’m on it, Skipper, but so far, they haven’t fired any reverse thrusters... nothing at all!”

“They’re not going to either,” Bo added.

“What do you mean, they’re not going to either?” Jonas asked. “What did you do, Bo?”

“Who me?”

“Yes, you!”

“I kind of created an insurance policy.”

“Ah, Bo! You didn’t!”

“I did. But it worked, they’re not slowing down. I went over and reset our cryo-chambers, loaded the return NAV course and came back. If I’m right, as soon as they slingshot around Gliese, we should vanish.”

“You did what?” Pippen protested.

“Sorry, my lil’ Pipsqueak. I had to do this.”

“Well, it’s too late to change what he did now,” Jonas shrugged.

“We own a time machine, Jonas,” Tipper reminded, “We can fix this!”

Hali broke into the conversation, “I am sorry; however, Bo is correct in what he is telling you. There will not be enough time to fix this. I am already receiving time telemetry changes in our database. The news is not good in that I will soon not have the programming changes to interact with you, nor will I remember you ever being here.”

“How’s that possible? I thought the time chamber knew of all the timeline changes.”

“Bo has created a time paradox. You were here to go back in time, but you never found the time chamber to go back in time. One timeline will rule over the other and you will soon cease to exist.”

Jonas shot a glance over to Bo, “What have you done!”

“It was the only way, Skipper. I’m sorry, but Hali did agree that it was the only way to ensure the timeline would never have been fractured in the first place.”

Jonas held his hands out in front of himself, “It’s happening... I can feel it.”

“Me too,” Tipper said. She lifted her hands and witnessed her skin becoming translucent.

“So am I,” Pippen nodded.

The approaching Aevus engaged its slingshot maneuver and rocketed around Gliese. This version of the Aevus never slowed and returned course back to Jupiter Station.

Jonas, Tipper, Bo, and Doctor Morgan aboard their Aevus vanished from existence.

The time chamber darkened, Hali’s form disappeared, and the star-covered pyramid returned to quiet.



Earth Year:

1963/11/22 - 12:33:46

Dallas Texas

Grassy Knoll



Taylor teleported to the place he detected Bo landing. He looked all around and saw no one he knew. He did see the rifle lying on the ground that Bo had used.

“No! He couldn’t have gone through with it! I stopped the president’s assassination! This isn’t right!”

He held his hands up in the air, “What’s happening to me?”

His translucent hands began fading from sight. Taylor felt something was happening and closed his eyes to concentrate, I must teleport back to the time chamber... something is wrong... concentrate... that’s right... you know how to plug in... there!

The dark star-covered pyramid lit up with a bright beam of light in the center of the complex. Taylor stepped through the beam of light and then it vanished.

He looked all round him. It was dark, a blackness he’d not remembered ever experiencing.

“What’s happening!?” Taylor shouted.

The echo of his voice was soon met with a figure standing before him, “Taylor? How are you here?”

“Who are you?”

“I am Hali. But I shouldn’t know that. I should not know you, nor should you exist.”

“Come again?”

“There was a time paradox. The time quake is quickly moving down the timeline. Only one timeline will win.”

The color vanished from Taylor’s face once he realized what was going on, “Which one will rule?”

“You should have already ceased to exist, but you have not.”

“I think I started to. My hands; they were turning clear.”

“Yes, yes, of course. When you returned to the time chamber, it was enough to stop the paradox from erasing you for the moment.”

“What can I do? I certainly don’t want to be erased.”

“That is another paradox.”

“What?”

“You continue to exist aboard the Aevus that was sent back to Jupiter Station.”

“What if I’m sent far into your future?”

Hali paused a moment to calculate what Taylor was proposing, “Yes, I do believe if you are teleported far enough away from this time quake, you will survive.”

“You got any ideas of where to send me?”

“Yes,” Hali answered, “I do believe I have a solution to your problem.”

“Good, what is it then? I’m beginning to feel funny again.”

“I will advance you three-hundred and fifty-thousand years.”

“Why that far?”

“That is when the time chamber is delivering the people from this world. You can meet them. Live with them. Perhaps they can assist you with what you need to remain alive?”

“Let’s do it! I think I’m fading fast!”

“The time coordinates have been programmed and the time chamber is now activated.”

Taylor wasted no time in stepping through the time portal and vanished. Hali turned off her imaging program and the star-covered pyramid once again, turned dark.



Gliese 667

Black star-covered pyramid

Month and Day Unknown

Year:

352,518



Taylor stepped out of the star matter that lit up the dark star-covered pyramid. The time chamber spun down and he was greeted by a familiar face.

“Hali?”

“Yes, Taylor Jorgenson. My holographic representation was saved in the computer core until such time that I would be needed.”

“Needed?” Taylor stumbled, taking two steps to catch his balance.

“Yes, the ones that were sent to this time signature would have required interpretation. They wish to interact with you.”

“They who?”

“The people that were saved on this planet 500,000 years ago. It will all come back to you soon enough.”

“But...”

Hali interrupted Taylor, “... Traversing the time conduit for such an extended amount has certain side effects on memory. Those will catch up with you soon enough, as I have said.”

“I think I’m starting to remember...” Taylor held his hands to his head and screamed out in pain, “What’s happening to me?”

“I apologize for the discomfort,” Hali explained, “and for the lack of warning. The pain is from the memories coming back to you. What are you seeing, Taylor Jorgenson?”

“I’m seeing... I’m seeing a ship... yes... I’m an engineer on a mission of exploration... we found...” Taylor screamed out in pain once more, “we found a time portal. I was sick... yeah... I was getting rapid aging syndrome... that’s what happened... I fell into the star matter within the pyramid... that’s... that’s what happened to me...”

“We apologize,” Hali again explained, “You were pulled into the star matter. That was the only way you could have been healed of the cryogenic sleep sickness you referred to as rapid ageing syndrome.”

“Pulled in!?”

“Yes, Taylor Jorgenson,” Hali answered, resting her holographic hand on his shoulder, “You traveled the time portal without the core programming a recall sub-routine.”

“Why would I do the things I did? I... I tried to kill... I did kill... what happened to me?”

“You suffered a psychosis after traveling to your past on Earth.”

“I remember destroying a base on Earth... I killed the Jupiter Station Director... explain to me, why?”

“As we have said, Taylor Jorgenson, you suffered a psychosis, which is now healed by the attendant. However, the more troubling fact that you are here in this time portal is of major concern.”

“I do remember... my mission... my mission... was to stop ourselves from ever finding the black star-covered pyramid... I tried to alter Earth’s timeline.”

“You were unsuccessful at every attempt.”

“Apparently, if I had succeeded, I would have ceased to exist... but I didn’t...”

“Yes, Taylor Jorgenson, if you remember, I sent you to this time signature. But the real question we have for you is why didn’t you cease to exist?”

“Because,” Taylor surmised, “Even above all else... above the mission to stop ourselves from reaching this planet... above all else, I wanted to live!”

“I am sorry, Taylor Jorgenson,” Hali softly smiled, “It was not your will that saved you, rather it was one of your crew that caused the time paradox.”

“What happened?”

“Bo Richardson ran into himself on the approaching Aevus. By running into this Bo Richardson and interacting, it has caused the time paradox. My calculations show that if he had not interacted with the approaching crew, you would have vanished from existence before arriving back at the time chamber.”

“I do remember more now... yes, yes indeed. So, how long do I have before the paradoxical time quake arrives and destroys us all?”

“It is more complicated than that, Taylor Jorgenson,” Hali clarified, “I will explain...”


Three



FTL Year:

2518/10/12 - 13:34:16

Gliese 667

The Aevus



“Bo, the ramifications of you running into yourself could be detrimental to the success of your mission,” Hali explained in Bo’s ear.

“I know, I know, you don’t have to tell me that,” Bo whispered.

He stopped cold when he heard himself heaving after waking from the cryo-sleep.

“I think I’ve got a few minutes. Enough time for me to alter the ship’s course back to Earth.”

“And what about yourself down in the cryo-chamber?”

“I’m going to have to tell him.”

“FREEZE!” Bo heard from behind him. The voice was very recognizable, then he heard the click of a chamber on a weapon being pulled back.

Bo rose his hands and stood as another Bo held a weapon to his back, “Tell me what?”

Bo continued with his hands in the air, “Take it easy.”

“Who are you?”

“Don’t I sound the least bit familiar to you?”

“Come ta’ think,” Bo said, relaxing his stance slightly, “Turn around! Slowly...”

Bo turned, following his own instructions, faced the man and looked into his eyes.

The Bo holding the gun lowered his weapon, “How... what the?”

“I don’t have much time to explain. But you have to promise me that you will trust me... I mean, it’s me, Bo, right?”

“What’s not to trust,” Both Bo’s said in unison.

“What’s this all about? How is this even possible that I’m talking to myself? I’m in one of those nightmares Doctor Morgan was telling us about... yeah, that’s it. I’m not really awake yet...”

“You’re awake, my man.”

“...but...”

“Remember, trust?”

“Okay, I’m listening. What about the others? They’re set to wake up any minute.”

“That’s why I do not have time to argue about any of this.”

“I’m listening.”

“I’m another version of you. A little ways in the future from now.”

“Come again?”

“Just listen. And keep up, because I’ve got to get to the navigation control,” Bo said, turning to head to the pilot house of the Aevus.

“What’s going on?” Bo shook his head in disbelief, “I can’t believe I’m talking to myself here.”

“I’m here to ensure you never see what’s down on that planet.”

“I know, I know, Hali,” Bo said to the air.

“Who’s Hali?”

Bo glanced at himself, “I can’t help it, Hali. He knows. Can’t fix it now. I have to tell him.”

“Is there another ship out here?”

“Well,” Bo smirked, “Two actually... Well, okay, mine makes three.”

“I’m so confused.”

“Look!” Bo pointed off the ships forward view screen, “That right there is the Aevus.”

The second Bo leaned over Bo’s shoulder at the computer console and pointed, “Okay, then what’s this one?”

“That’s the Aevus.”

“Huh?”

“I told you it was complicated. It’s my version of the Aevus from my future... your future... god this is confusing!”

“Hey, you’re the time traveler, if you can’t figure this out, no one can.”

“Okay, okay, give me a minute,” the first Bo answered.

“Well?” the second asked.

“Hali...”

“Who’s this Hali you keep talking to?”

“She’s the holographical lifeform we sort of ran into.”

“And this Hali, she’s the one that owns a supposed time machine?”

“Exactly, see, it’s not so hard.”

“Well, I kind of have to believe I am talking to myself... that is if I’m not dreaming after all.”

Bo sat at the navigation controls and input the prerecorded return course online, “I’m sending your Aevus back to Jupiter Station. Then I’m extending your cryogenic sleep program to run the full nineteen months.”

“Wait a minute? We were sent out here to explore. What makes you think you can change our finding what’s down there? Obviously we did, or you wouldn’t be standing here having a conversation with yourself.”

“What I hope to accomplish, is to erase your future. I mean your future of finding this place. If I don’t send you back and try to erase what’s happened, the timeline is broken so badly, I don’t even know if it can be fixed.”

“What do you need from me?”

“Well, you need to get back down to cryogenics and get back in your tube. I’ll be down in a minute to reprogram the others.”

Hali interjected, “You better hurry, Bo, you do not have more than six minutes before Jonas docks with your Aevus.”

“Okay, Hali, thank you for the update,” Bo answered, “Yeah, that was Hali,” Bo said, glancing at himself, “Now you better get moving, the clock’s a-tickin’.”

“What’s the rush if you own a time machine?”

“It really doesn’t work like that. Not at all... sorry, no time. Just get moving while I finish with the course corrections.”

Bo patted his duplicate on the shoulder, “Okay, I’m on my way.”

Bo finished the course corrections and verified the ship would target the Earth system in the nineteen months it took to travel to Gliese.

Bo got up from the station and headed down to the cryo-tubes where he found himself already hooked up to the tube and closed. A muffled voice was heard from within, “Just hurry it on up and engage my sleep state already, will ya? It’s cold in here!”

“Keep your shorts on, I’m on it.”

“My shorts are all I’ve got on... that’s why I’m cold!”

Bo completed the time clock setting for each of the cryogenic chambers and engaged the sleep sequence for Bo’s tube.

“Nighty, night, my man... okay, Hali, all finished up here. Initiate fracture back to my Aevus.”

“Very well, Bo, the time portal is activated.”



Earth Year:

2566/03/11 - 14:00:00

The Aevus





White vapor clouds formed within each cryo-tube before hissing sounds escaped from everyone’s cryo-tube. Each top slid down exposing the sleeping occupant. Bo sat on a stool in front of Jonas’ cryo-tube, his hands resting on his knees waiting.

Tipper rested in her tube. She moved her arm to her chest while she fluttered her eyes open.

Jonas struggled to open them to the dim lights of the cryogenic bay. Their breathing returned to normal, and heart rates stabilized before the metal cuffs expanded, releasing its hold on their arms.

Jonas rose upright and looked over to Tipper and smiled, “Well, nice way to wake up after a long hibernation,” he groggily said.

“Wait for it,” Bo smiled, “It’s gonna hit ya like a ton of bricks, any time now.”

“You waited to see me wake up? You’re a sick pup, my man.” Jonas sat in his cryo-tube for an extended time before attempting to climb out.

Bo stroked his chin, “I don’t understand. Why aren’t you getting sick?”

Pip stepped over to Bo and placed a sympathetic hand on his shoulder, “Not everyone experiences cryo-sickness.”

“Well, that’s just no fair,” Bo protested, clenching a short cigar between his teeth. “I even put out buckets for ‘em. Man, it’s just ain’t’ no fair at all!”

“I take it you were,” Simon said, drying his body with a towel, “Try the shower trick, it worked for me.”

“Yeah,” Bo said, glancing at Simon, “Good for you.”

Pip handed him a towel, and then ran her scanner up and back down his body, “You’re fine, Skipper, and for your information.”

Pip ran her scanner up and down Tipper, “Well, you’re normal too.”

Tipper was interrupted by gut wrenching pain, “Ohhh, boy!”

“Here it comes,” Bo smiled with satisfaction.

“I think I’m gonna puke!”

“Aim for the...”

Tipper doubled over with pain toward Bo and spewed projectile vomit.

“...bucket...”

Looking down at his feet, the liquid splashed on the deck, covering his boots with vile colored liquid. Tipper’s face contorted, turned red as her eyes bulged and red lines drew across her cheeks. She retched three more times before taking the towel from Pip to wipe her face.

Bo only stared at the mess he stood in and shook his head, “I gave you a bucket and everything...”

“I’m so sorry,” Tipper apologized, “I think I’ll hit the showers now...”

“Not even going to help me clean this up?”

“I don’t do vomit well, thanks for getting it for me, Bo, you’re a real prince,” Tipper said with bloodshot eyes.

Jonas grimaced at Tipper, “Now that’s attractive.”

Sterling shouted from above decks, “Skipper, you gotta come see this!”

Jonas shouted in return, “What’d ya find, Mister Sterling? We have aliens out there?”

“No, not like that at all,” Sterling again shouted as he scurried down the ladder to the cryo-bay.

“What’s got your panties all in a bunch, anyway,” Jonas said with one eyebrow raised.

“We’re not in orbit around Gliese, Skipper.”

“Then, do you mind telling me where we are?”

“Our reverse thrusters already fired and we’re approaching Jupiter Station.”

“That ain’t possible!”

“It is, Sir. Come see for yourself!”

Jonas quickly followed Sterling back to the flight deck, Bo and Doctor Morgan followed close behind.

“Well, I’ll be dammed! We’re home.”

“Yeah, but we’re not supposed to be,” Sterling complained.

“Give me a chronometer check.”

“Yeah, already did, Skipper,” Tipper said, joining them on the flight deck. “We’re fifty years from when we first departed Earth. The year is 2566, March 11th, and almost to the day.”

“Wow, time dilation is the real deal,” Jonas said. “Just a little more than three years for us.”

“Contact the Station and see if anyone’s home?”

Simon climbed into his seat and pressed the controls, “Jupiter Station, Jupiter Station, this is the Aevus. Come in please.”

The radio returned static, and then Simon pressed the transmit button once more, “Jupiter Station, Jupiter Station, do you read us, over?”

The radio static ended this time with an older man’s voice, “Jonas? Is that you?”

“Clint Bartholomew, you’re still alive!”

“Yeah, well, I’m almost a hundred and three. I stayed alive just to see your sorry asses return.”

“We’re setting course to dock. Be there in ten minutes.”

“Fine, fine,” Clint answered, “I’ve got Berry running the place now. I’m just here living on the station; enjoying my retirement, until I heard you were returning.”

“Good for you, Sir.”

“What did you find out there, anyway?”

Bo leaned closer to the microphone, “We found absolutely nothing. No signal, no nothing.”

Jonas shot Bo a glance, “Huh? We never woke up...”

“Shhh,” Bo said, pressing his finger on Jonas’ lips, “Long story, I’ll explain when we’re all settled.”

“Okay then, Clint, we’ll see you in a few minutes, Aevus out.”

Jonas turned to Bo, “Now, that’s very odd, my man.”

“Just gonna have to trust me on this one, Skipper.”

“Can’t wait for the debrief later,” Tipper smiled.

“In the meantime, let’s celebrate our home coming!” Jonas laughed.

“To home coming!” Bo shouted.

Pippen wrapped her arm around Bo, “I can’t wait to see what they’ve done with the place.”

“We’ll, you won’t have much time to wait. We’re pullin’ up now,” Tipper reported. “...and in three, two, one, docking clamps locked and set.”

“Power down the systems and let’s get off this crate.”

“I’m with you, Jonas,” Tipper smiled, “I’m with you.”




Four



Earth

Present Day

Antarctica



General Patterson shivered in the cold sub-zero temperatures. The overhead space heaters were barely enough to ward off the piercing cold.

“What do you think, Major?” Patterson asked. “You still think this is extraterrestrial?”

Major Henderson stepped back, contemplating the General’s question, “Well,” she hesitated, and then continued, “It’s not likely an extraterrestrial vessel would have words that we can understand, so, the short answer is no. I don’t think it’s extraterrestrial at all.”

“Just where do you think this came from, Major?”

“Based on the age samples that were taken, thank you very much,” she said turning to Colonel Frank Dorsey, “Thank you for getting this data to me. I was able to review most of everything you sent, Colonel.”

“And your conclusion, Major? Colonel Dorsey quizzed.

“The origins and metal samplings indicate it was made out of materials from Earth.”

“What else, Major?” General Patterson asked.

“The carbon dating indicates that this ship has been under the icecap for over seven hundred years,” Dorsey said.

“Which begs the question,” Major Prescott added, “How could this ship, which apparently came from Earth, get under the icecap in the early fourteenth century? I’m pretty sure we didn’t have spaceships in that era.”

“That’s a great question, Major,” Rachel nodded, “I’m dying to find out what’s inside. I think we’re safe to open it up, Colonel? Whattya say?”

“I agree, Major,” General Patterson said, “Open it up,” he ordered, pointing at the hatch.

Two military technicians ran up to the hatch. Taking a cutting torch, one of the men ignited it and then handed it to the second man after he lowered protective goggles. Sparks began to fly as the men began cutting through the hatch.

Major Henderson could barely contain herself as she turned away from the brightness of the torch, “I can’t wait to see what’s inside!”

General Patterson turned away with her, “I’m afraid that going inside will only result in more unanswered questions, Major.”

“Well, let’s hope we can get a few of those answered, shall we?”

“I’ll take a few minutes to cut it open,” Colonel Dorsey said, stepping over to the two.

“Regardless, Rachel,” General Patterson began, placing a hand on her shoulder, “My men are going in first. You’ll have to wait until we’ve got an all clear...”

“Pardon me, Sir?” Major Henderson protested, “With all due respect, Sir, I am the expert here. I’m going in first, Sir...”

“Ahhh, I’ve heard rumors of you being a spitfire, Major.”

“... you’re men can come along if you want, err, Sir...” Major Henderson gulped, her eyes darting between Colonel Dorsey and General Patterson, “... But I seriously doubt there’s anything in there we have to worry about, Sir. This thing’s been buried here, all these years.”

“Yes, Sir,” Major Prescott nodded, “And yes, her reputation is true, Sir.”

General Patterson cleared his throat, “Very well, Major. Do you always get your way?”

“Most of the time... Sir,” Major Henderson answered, keeping her smile hidden.

Major Prescott broke in to the conversation, his attempt to change the subject successful, “It appears as if it was buried here to hide it.”

“There’s a reason why it’s here, General,” Henderson said, “and I intend to find out why. Buy the way, Major,” Rachel turned her attention to Major Prescott, “How big did you say this ship was?”

“It’s a hundred meters in length by thirty meters in width.”

“How many levels did your radar detection tell us?”

“It’s four decks. We’re entering on deck two.”

“So most of the ship is still further down inside the ice?”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Major Prescott answered, “and I think we’re about to find out some of its secrets,” Prescott pointed.

The rest of the group turned just in time to see the crew take away the burned metal hatch.

“Well,” Major Henderson smiled, “Let’s get some lights, and take a peek!”

Major Henderson grabbed a light that a technician handed her. She nodded and continued toward the dark entrance the military had finished cutting through.

“Careful,” Major Prescott said, placing a hand on Rachel’s shoulder, “Don’t get to close, the edges are still hot, okay?”

“Yeah, I got this, Major.”

Rachel leaned low enough to duck through the hole. She flashed her beam of light all around before stepping the rest of the way through.

“What’s the matter, Major?” Prescott teased, “Why the hesitation?”

“Hey, this is all new, okay?”

Rachel stepped into the airlock of the ship. Her eyes wondered in every direction she pointed her light.

Major Prescott entered next, shining his light in different areas, while Colonel Dorsey and General Patterson entered last.

Rachel pointed her light farther into the open room and gasped, “It looks like a bunch of tubes!”

“C’mon,” Major Henderson waved, “This way. I want a closer look.”

“Easy there, Major,” Colonel Dorsey warned, “Use extreme caution, okay?”

“I’m using about as much caution as I’m gonna, Sir,” Henderson carefully stepped up to the first tube and flooded the tube with brightness, followed by another gasp.

“What is it, Major?” General Patterson begged.

“It’s a human, Sir.”

Racheal went to the next one and shined her light inside, “They’re all human, Sir!”

“How many we got, Major?” Colonel Dorsey asked.

“I count seven tubes, Sir,” Major Prescott answered.

“Looks like five male and two female, Sir,” Major Henderson finished.

“Are they alive, Major?”

“Hard to say, General,” Rachel replied, “But it does looks like this is a computer console over here, Sir.”

“Does this ship even have any power?”

“Another question I’m about to find out, Sir,” Henderson said, shining her light on the panel.

“This is all in English, Sir.”

“How can that be, Major?” General Patterson asked, stepping over to the panel she stood by.

“That’s English!”

“That’s what I said, General,” Rachel nodded, “This looks like power here,” she pointed with her right index finger.

The panel lit up with a soft glow and lights began to flicker above their heads.

With the sudden illumination, they all took a step back and dimmed their flashlights.

“Well, Sir,” Rachel began, “I think this means they’re alive, Sir.”

“So what? They’re in some kind of suspended animation?”

“I think so, Sir... wait, this panel is booting up now. I’m beginning to understand what this is, Sir.”

“Well, Major?”

“It’s defiantly some kind of cryogenic sleep chamber. Yeah, I’m going to try and tap into any of the ship’s logs. See what happened, and who these people are.”

Rachel fiddled with the screen for a few frustrating moments before Major Prescott came to her aid, “Here, let me have a look?”

Rachel stepped back, allowing her peer to track down the information from the ship’s computer.

“Okay, okay, here we go...”

“Major?”

“Yes, Sir,” Prescott answered with a smile, “I’m getting the data now. This ship is named Aevus, and is piloted by Captain Jonas Arnell. He’s the one in tube number one. His second in command is named Tipper Montgomery.”

General Patterson glanced over to his Colonel, “Dorsey, get your team on tracking down any commanding officer named Jonas Arnell. What about the others, Major?”

“Yes, Sir,” Prescott continued his description, “The one in number three is their ship’s doctor, Pippen Morgan. Number four is Bo Richardson and is listed as the ship’s mechanic. Simon Stone is in five. He’s the navigator. Number six holds Sterling Hess and is their systems analyst, and in seven is Taylor Jorgensen, ship’s engineer.”

“Are there any logs, Major?” Colonel Dorsey asked, looking up from his data pad, “and General, there aren’t any records of any Captain Jonas Arnell. In fact, there are no records of any of them.”

“Interesting,” Major Prescott added, “No ship’s logs either. It’s like the system was wiped. No navigational charts, no data points of where they’ve been, or anything, Sir.”

“Then how is it you got their names, Major?” General Patterson asked.

“The only data I can find is here on this terminal for each cryogenic tube. The computer is controlling their life signs.”

“Maybe we should go up to the next level,” Major Henderson urged. “There might be more clues...”

Major Prescott stood upright, “She’s right. I’m not getting anything here. We should check out the next level up, which should be the flight deck according to our scans.”

Rachel headed to the ladder that was forward to their position and held on to one of the rungs, “Looks like you did activate lighting up stairs too.”

She hoisted herself up with her foot and then hand over hand until she climbed the latter to the top.

“You were right, Major,” Rachel yelled below, “Looks like the flight deck and more computers all over. There are seven seats, which matches each of the tubes below.

Major Prescott was next to ascend with Major Henderson, “Let me have a look at their computers.”

“Have at it, Major,” Rachel returned a smile at the young man. “It looks as if my specialty won’t be needed here.”

“That’s not true!” Prescott snapped. “Your skills are extremely valuable here!”

Rachel continued to snoop around the flight deck. Seeing something standing out to her eyes, she held her hand to her mouth and gasped.

“What’d you find, Major?” Colonel Dorsey asked, climbing the ladder.

“Get a load of this placard!”

Major Prescott and Colonel Dorsey leaned over her shoulder when she glanced back and then to the manufacturing stamp, “This says the ship was commissioned in 2515!”

“Is this some kind of joke?” General Patterson begged.

“No Sir,” Major Prescott nodded, “First time we’ve been inside, Sir. This is the real deal! This ship was constructed five hundred years from now!”



Five



Earth Year:

2566/03/11 - 14:10:26

Jupiter Station



The aging Clint Bartholomew stood on the descending platform surrounded by ten military guard. The Aevus crew docked and secured their airlock to the station’s docking port, located at the end of the long spire.

Jupiter Station orbited between Jupitar’s moons Europa and IO, three hundred and fifty thousand kilometers above the surface. The station’s ring held the promenade deck and all other personnel. Situated three quarters of the way from the end of the spire, the turbo elevator delivered the former Director and his entourage.

Standing over to the control panel of the double-doored floor, Clint pressed a security code causing steam and a hissing sound as the two halves of the airlock slid open.

Jonas and Tipper each climbed the ladders and stepped off the platform and to the side. Jonas extended his hand at the aging man, but Clint held his glare at the ship’s captain.

The remaining crew exited the airlock and stood as the marines aimed their fully charged weapons at them.

“Clint?” Jonas asked, his hands raised slightly in the air, “What’s the problem, Big Guy?”

“You all are under arrest!”

“Arrest?” Tipper protested.

Bo held a short stubbed cigar in his teeth, his eyes fixed on the marine’s insignia causing his eyebrows to raise, “What’s with the MCO tags? I thought we were all PAC?”

“I’m not sure what the hell’s going on here,” Clint began, “But when you left you weren’t with the Planetary Alliance.”

“See,” Jonas added, “This makes no sense to us either. When we left, this station did not belong to the Mars Consortium.”

“We’ve never been PAC on this station, Jonas. Nor any of our bases. We defeated the PAC over eighty years ago!”

“That’s just crazy talk!” Tipper once again protested.

“Just the same, we’re going to lock you down until we can figure this all out,” Berry Patrick, Jupiter Station’s director nodded, “Come on, move out,” he pointed, “To the turbo lift, all of you!”

The Aevus crew reluctantly made their way to the turbo lift and rode the platform up the spire to the promenade deck.

Jonas looked over to Clint, “Hey, buddy, you’re not looking too bad for your age. What’d you say you were again, 103?”

“Yeah, yeah I guess I am that old, but now days, a hundred is the new seventy. Least that’s what we’re told anyway,” Clint chuckled.

“So, can we put our hands down now?”

“Sure, sure,” Clint nodded, pointing a stern finger in his face. “Just don’t try nothin’!”

Jonas raised his palms up once more, “I’m not going to do anything, Clint.”

“Just the same, you just behave.”

“You said the PAC was defeated eighty years ago?”

“Yeah, what about it?”

“How long ago did you send us to Gliese?”

“Fifty years... almost to the day, in fact.”

“And you know we’ve not aged, right?”

“Apparently,” Jonas answered, “What’s your point?”

“If you defeated PAC thirty years before we left, then how is it we came back with PAC insignias?”

“That’s a great question,” Clint said, nodding his agreement.

The turbo lift slowed and then stopped at the top deck. Clint motioned for the crew to follow the marine guard.

“Take them to a holding cell. Then send a team down to check out the ship,” Berry ordered.

One of the marine guards stood to attention, nodded and turned back to the turbo lift, “On it, Sir!”

“Clint,” Jonas said, turning to the old man, “You have to hear us out!”

“We will... it’s just they want to check out the ship first. Then we’ll talk.”

Jonas glanced between Berry and Clint.

“I’m sorry, Jonas,” Clint said, “I’m not the director, Berry is. He’s callin’ all the shots on Jupiter Station now.”

The group was escorted at gun point to the promenade holding cell, or known by the station workers as the Detention Center.

“So this is what it’s come to?” Tipper asked, addressing Berry.

“This is the DC. We’ll detain you until we’ve determined what to do with you all,” Berry smiled.

“Last time I saw you,” Tipper said, stepping into Berry’s bubble and with pointed finger, “You were a snot-nosed kid! Confused and inexperienced!”

“And I remember you, Tipper Montgomery. Jonas had to pull you into Clint’s office, if memory serves.”

“No, I was pulling him! He made it look like he did, like he always does!”

“Why, Tipper,” Jonas said, facing the angered woman, “I do think you’re a little bitter?”

Tipper leaned closer to Berry, “We’re with the Planetary Alliance Coalition! We’ve always been PAC! You even fought off the MCO when we were departing... in a rather hurry, I might add!”

Tipper stopped herself short and shook her head, “Wait... wait... no, that’s not how it happened... we left and came back without even stopping...”

Bo interrupted Tipper, “What she means, Mr. Patrick, is we saw nothing worth stopping for... right, guys? We saw nothing,” Bo slowly smiled, nodding his head for the others to follow along.


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