1 – What Happened ?
(Spera – Bridge – Day 150 of the Nova Roma Expedition, 0800)
Nikita Aranov had woken up with a splitting headache. But the ship had still been in one piece and nobody had died. They had spent several hours straightening up, but now they were ready to get moving again. Nikita took a seat behind Science Station Two as Colonel Vale sat in the command chair.
"Here we go, people," Vale said. "Alec, let's see what happens when we try to bring systems back on-line."
"You got it, boss."
The lights came back on and then the consoles followed suit. Nikita checked the sensors and found that they were fully operational. As he ran a series of scans to figure where they were, he heard the other people on the bridge report that their systems were on-line. After they had all checked in, Vale made his way to his station.
"How are you sensors looking ?"
"Fully functional," Aranov said. "I had already moved on to 'figuring out where we are' part of the report, boss."
"Well, we can see stars out the window."
"But the system is not showing any Stargates in range," Aranov began. "And from what I can see, we're in the middle of nowhere. Based on the readings, we're between solar systems. As for where exactly we are…" He hit some keys. "…the computer is looking for known constellations now, but it's a long shot."
"I'll take what I can get."
Nikita kept the searching program going. And then he got a hit. ~That's impossible.~ So he double-checked. But the result was the same. ~No way.~ The program got another hit, followed by another and then another… He got up and made his way to Flight Control One, where Levine was checking the navigational sensors.
"Are you seeing what I'm seeing ?"
"Yes," Levine began. "I double checked and we really are where we think we are. Also, I think I can get us back into FTL and into the nearest solar system. Which is probably the only way to be absolutely sure about our current location."
"Do it," Vale said. "How long until we get there ?"
"Just a tic under two hours, Colonel," Levine said. "FTL in three…two…one."
The ship jumped to Faster-then-light speed. Aranov knew what they would find when they dropped out. But at the same time, there was also part of him that doubted it. ~The colonel knows that something is wrong.~ But he also knew better then to ask. The ship had just been swallowed by a giant rift and the crew needed time to process that. ~And if we're right, that's just the beginning.~ Taking a deep breath, he made his way back to Science Station Two and got back to work.
(Spera – Infirmary – Day 150 / 22 January 2018, 0955)
Marc Vale had left Frank Levine running things on the bridge and gone to tour the ship. The infirmary was his last stop. ~We got very lucky that nobody died during….well, whatever just happened.~ He walked in to find Doctor Bennett treating Private McConnell, who appeared to have sustained several cuts during the event.
"How are you feeling, Hetty ?"
"Fine, sir," McConnell said. "Looks like I'll get some cool scars out of this trip, sir."
"Yeah, I've been on a few of those," Vale said with a smile. "And how you are doing, doctor ?"
"I'm still in one piece. And I am glad to report that the walls didn't melt," The Infirmary was on Deck Zero, which was made out of Wraith spaceship issue. "Also, we have plenty of supplies. So I figure we are in good shape."
"Excellent," Vale began. "Carry on."
He gave the doctor a nod and walked out. As he made his way to the bridge, he saw that the crew was either working or enjoying their down time. ~Not that there is much to do here, except working and eating.~ Still, it was good to see them having moments for them self. Or together. ~They're a good lot.~ Part of him wondered what his father would say if he was here. ~A spaceship in the middle of nowhere? He would have a hard time wrapping his head around the idea. Let alone all the technology here.~ Before he could ponder it further, he reached the bridge.
"How is it looking, Major ?"
"Fifty seconds until we drop out of FTL, sir," Levine began. "And we have finished all the diagnostics, they all agree that Spera is fully functional."
"Okay," Vale sat down in the command chair. "Let's do it."
"Thirty seconds….ten….five….and zero," Levine pressed the proper buttons and Spera dropped out of FTL. "And on approach."
"On approach to what ?" Vale asked.
"Yes," Aranov began as he made his way to the command chair. "We need to talk about that. Because I did not believe it when I saw it, but Frank and I double checked. And we are where the computer says we are. At least, as far as we can see."
"Which is ?"
"There's no way to soft peddle this," He hit several keys on the tactical console, which changed to a familiar image. An impossible image that made Vale get up from his chair and walk towards the console. "Earth, we are on approach to Earth."
"Be careful what you wish for, you may get it." Vale muttered.
"Why haven't we be contacted by Homeworld Command yet ? No, something is wrong." He looked to Aranov. "If my hunch is right, this will be a total cliché, but did you check WHEN we are ?"
"No," Aranov began. "No, I didn't." He made his way back to Science Station Two and ran the check. When he saw the result, he ran it two more times. But the computer kept spitting out the same result. "Well, Colonel, who says you can't go home again ?"
"12 BC," Levine said. "The years is 12 BC."
Vale leaned on one of the consoles. This was going to be the weirdest homecoming ever. ~But if there are answers, they're down on that planet.~ And he was going to get them.
(Philippi – Street – Day 151 / 19 December 12 BC, 0831)
The first problem had been figuring out how to get down to the planet. Using the Stargate had not been an option. There were two Gates on Earth. But in 12 BC, both of them had been blocked. And the Puddle Jumpers were in the Jumper Room, with the only way out being the Gate.
Fortunately, the rogue Ancient Ajax had come to the rescue. He had designed the floor so that there were no circuits in the area in front of the Stargate. Alec Colson had thus been able to cut a hole and the install a hatch. Once that had been done, the Jumper could use said hatch to access the communications relay factory and exit through the doors that were normally used to drop the relays.
So, Jumper One had headed down to Earth. In order to keep the chances of them being spotted to a minimum, Vale had engaged the cloak the moment they were outside the ship. As for the team, taking any of the non-Humans was not a good idea. And besides him, Aranov was the only one who spoke Latin. ~Well, passable Latin.~ He had landed the Jumper some distance outside town and they had walked there. But now they were standing outside his parents' house. ~Just as I remember it.~
It was odd to think that – as he stood here – there was another Marcus Valerius stuck in a stasis chamber somewhere. Taking a deep breath, he knocked on the door. There was a pause and then the door was unlocked. His father looked stunned, but then put his arms around his son. And then he began to laugh.
"Marcus !" He yelled. "You are alive. How ?" He took a step back. "How is that possible ?"
"It is good to see you again, father." Marcus said.
"Come in," Gaius began, before noticing Nikita. "Both of you. And tell me all of it."
The two them walked into the house, with Gaius the Elder locking the door behind them. They had just reached the living room, when Attitia and Octavia came running up to him and hugged him. They were soon followed by his nephew Gaius the Younger. Nikita smiled as they watched the reunion. After they were done, they all sat down in the living room. Before he began explaining, Marcus gestured towards Nikita.
"This is Nicolaus, he is a scribe."
"So," Gaius the Elder said. "what kind of scribe are you, Nicolaus ?"
"History. I write historic accounts."
"I see," Gaius the Elder said while nodding. The look on his face made Nikita – or Nicolaus – suspect what the older Valerius was going to ask next. "Marcus, what has been going on ?"
"It's a long story, father," Valerius said. "Which began when I climbed down the well to safe that boy…."
Nicolaus listened to the tale as Marcus tried to explain where he had been and what he had been doing. If sounded like he had gone crazy. And that was to him and he had been there for most of it. He could not even imagine what it sounded like to the member of the Valerius' family. ~A story of madness and magic.~ But he for now, he would simply wait until Marcus was done.
(Philippi – Plain – Day 151, 0925)
His family had not believed him, which Marcus could not blame them for. So he had decided to show them the biggest piece of proof they had. He had picked up a pebble on the way to the Puddle Jumper, which they were now standing near to. ~Here we go.~ He threw the pebble at the Jumper, making it bounce of what looked like nothing.
"Sons of Dis…," Gaius the Elder said. "What was that ?"
Marcus reached into his pocket, where he had an Ancient remote. He pressed a button and the Jumper decloaked, making his family gasp. His father put his hand on the ship and tapped it, as if to make sure it was real. Then he turned to Marcus.
"I am sorry, son. We should have believed you."
"I understand, father," Valerius said as he lowered the rear hatch. "If you had told me such a tale, I would have declared you mad. Come on, I want to show you the inside."
The whole group moved into the Jumper and sat down. There was a moment of awkward silence as they took in the craft. ~It is a lot to take in.~ Then Attitia spoke up.
"So, this boat….this craft, can fly ?"
"Yes, mother," Valerius began. "Yes, it does." ~I wonder if mom or dad could fly this ship.~ He knew that both of his parents had the Ancient Technology Activation gene. But there was more to flying a Puddle Jumper then genetics.
"And you are now a Tribune, Uncle Marcus ?" His nephew Gaius asked.
"Yes, I am," Valerius turned to his father. "Father, please sit down behind the rudder." He noticed the confused look that Nicolaus gave him. "Because there is more I need to show you," He paused. "And for that, we need to go someplace else."
"The ship ? It is here ?" Attitia asked.
"Yes, and we need to go there."
Gaius the Elder took a deep breath and sat behind the controls. Marcus was about to start giving him instructions, but his father closed his eyes and the rear hatch closed. Then he opened his eyes and the Jumper took off. Marcus looked at Nicolaus-slash-Nikita with a look of surprise on his face. Apparently, flying ran in the family.
(Spera – Gate Room – Day 151 / 19 December 12 BC, 0930)
Marcus was still shocked at the fact that his father was such a good pilot. But his father was also shocked. They had arrived by Puddle Jumper, which was now parked in the Jumper Room again. His family was own in the Gate Room, looking at the Stargate. ~And that is just the beginning.~ His sister Octavia turned to him.
"So, this is the Portal to the Stars ?"
"Yes, it is," Marcus began. "But it does not work."
"And there are creatures here from other worlds ?"
Before he could answer the question, Sergeant T'Zalo and G'Yal walked into the Gate Room. Gaius the Younger screeched and hid behind his mother. Gaius the Elder put his hand on his sword, but did not draw it. ~Well, this is awkward.~ But they would have to break the ice sooner or later, so Valerius turned to T'Zalo.
"Decanus T'Zalo ?" He began. Decanus was a Roman Legion Rank and – at least as far as Vale knew – the closest translation to Sergeant there was. "Is there something you have to tell me ?"
"Yes, Colonel….I mean, Tribune," T'Zalo said. "We are not alone here, sir. There is a large number of hostile space vessels heading here. We have identified them as command ships, sir. And there has been a development in the….," He paused to find the proper words. "…Chamber of Scribes. We need Scribe Nicolaus there, Tribune."
"I see. Lead the way, Decanus," He turned to Aranov. "Nicolaus and Legionnaire G'Yal, take my family to the Chamber of Scribes and deal with the development there."
"I want to come with you, Marcus," Gaius the Elder said. "I am not going to lose the chance to see my son on the throne of this vessel."
The two groups headed out. Nicolaus-slash-Nikita got the feeling that the Valerius' family was in for quite the visit. Colonel Vale had made it clear to the crew that he might be coming back with his family. They had discussed how they were going to approach the situation if that happened, which was why T'Zalo had addressed Vale as Tribune and he had referred to Nikita Aranov as Nicolaus. The reason Vale had introduced Nikita with that name, was because there were no Latin translations for Russian names. For now, however, Nikita had to see about whatever had happened in the Science Lab.