"Time and Tide Wait for No One" by Karen
The formation of the silver-sheathed slip fighters is perfect, Dylan thought as he shifted gears and took his own into a steep dive, signaling to the other members of his crew to do likewise.
Despite a few setbacks during the simulations and during the practice runs, everything was running smoothly, to his way of thinking, there should be no reason to anticipate that anything would go wrong. Indeed, when even Tyr Anasazi would have to set aside his hard-won and instinctive pessimism and admit that the mission would be stellar success.
Over the ship's communication system he heard his second-in-command, Captain Beka Valentine humming in time with the thrumming of her own slip-fighter's engines.
"Forty degree angle and level out," Beka said. "This is for all the marbles, kiddies, the real deal, so don't mess it up like you did in the simulations, big guy."
"I," Tyr gravely replied via the inter-ship communication system, "Do Not mess up."
Roswell, New Mexico, circa 1950's
Somewhere in the outskirts of town lay an United States government Air Force base, long since abandoned by its former occupants and mothballed upon departure, still it had found a new purpose, if not the one its original builders had intended.
Prior to World War II, that had swept over the governments and the populations of both the United States, Western Europe and part of Asia, the base had been a staging ground and billet for members of the Air Force Unit 1800, to house both the troops and their equipment.
More than five years had passed since the conclusion of the war, but the base did not stay abandoned for long.
The base had been designated Area 51 certain factions within the government had found a new use for the old base, one that those factions would very much like that it remained top secret.
To the heads of the unit, the value of those secrets were measured by the number of people from which they must be kept. And going by that yardstick,' General Stanz thought, 'then they are pretty damn valuable.'
General Ray Stanz stood above his assembled troops in a large square room encircled by a narrow catwalk and barked out orders for everyone to come to attention. His aide, Lieutenant Andrew Berkowitz nodded in time to the snapping of hands meeting foreheads in salute and eyed any who even appeared to be slacking or slow to respond.
The alarm klaxons began going in an ear-piercing wail in mid-speech, causing General Stanz no end of personal aggravation. Sure, up until the perimeter alarms had gone off, the past five months could have been summed in one very simple word: humdrum. That was the reason for assembling the troops and the officers for a motivational session, so perhaps he should be thankful that there appeared to be an actual emergency to respond to.
Outside in the desert surrounding the military base, two now severely scorched on the outside and crippled silver craft plummeted down through the blue sky and the cloud cover in a steep arc, its pilot frantically engaging every available tool and mechanical assistance that she conceivably could to bring her slip fighter out its fatal dive.
Beka Valentine never imagined that she would go out like this, if she was going to die in a crash landing, it had always been her beloved Eureka Maru, that she had pictured going up in flames, in a blaze of glory, not in a small one person dart ship. Anger at that thought and with a surge of desperate adrenaline coursing through her veins.
Beka pulled up on the throttle and brought her ship out of its fatal dive, coming leveling out and tearing a large chunk of the arid landscape that she peripherally glimpsed out of her front view screen before turning her attention back to the matter of staying alive,.
Her crash and burn landing left a deep twenty foot swath tear in the desert landscape.
Beka was sweating from the intense heat of re-entry into a planetary landscape, and wondered if that sudden energy spike that her instruments had registered shortly before her brush with death and the plummet toward the planet' su rface below, had caught any one else by surprise. She unbuckled her harness that held her to the pilot's seat and leaned forward to try and raise her crew-mates, Dylan Hunt and Tyr Anasazi.
Tyr did not like it that he could not raise either Captain Hut or Captain Valentine, he too had registered the strange energy spike shortly before his ship's instruments had begun to go haywire, rocking the ship beneath him like a thing alive and in great pain.
He managed to land his own slip fighter, although it meant crashing through the ceiling of ramshackle and to all appearances long abandoned outbuilding a few klicks from a larger complex. He did not recognize the construction nor the landscape surrounding it, but in his opinion, it was very, well, he shrugged his broad and heavily muscled shoulders, primitive. "Where the hell am I?"
Much to Tyr's surprise he got an answer to that question: "Whereabouts are going to be the least of your concerns, whoever you are." a gruff male, and rather irritated human voice replied. Tyr grunted and shrugged, easing out of the tangled mass of metal and plastic that had been his cockpit, and got out of the craft, and onto level ground.
He took stock of his situation, half a dozen humans in old-fashioned military costume armed with projectile-style hand weapons, and much to Tyr's wry amusement, those particular style of weapons had not seen use outside of the Perseid Museum on Centi III, they were practically relics of Old Earth. As that thought flickered through his mind, Tyr considered the possibility that something had gone drastically wrong on the descent into Rualka IV, and they may have been thrown off course by more than a few hours.
"What year is it?" Tyr demanded of the soldiers ringing him around.
"He speaks English," one of the men whispered to the obvious leader.
"Lovely? Hard of hearing, are we?" Tyr continued in a deceptively pleasant tone of voice, arms folded over his massive chest.
"It's 1951," replied the leader. "And might I add, you are trespassing in a restricted area."
Tyr had noticed the non verbal as well the verbal signs given of by the soldiers. It was a matter of course, survival and continued self-preservation was both second nature and an inbred trait of the Nietzcheans; it also made a lot of damn sense.
"1951 of what century?" he tried again.
"The 20th," the man who had whispered about his being able to speak English replied.
"Remind me again, to double check the calculations of a certain would-be crusader, should I ever get my hands on him again," Tyr muttered under his breath.
"Now what?" the leader asked.
"Ah, General Stanz. Correct me if I'm wrong, but does not military procedure states, dictate that any and all civilians or unauthorized personnel being taken into custody and questioned."
"Then that's exactly what we will do," replied the officer addressed as General Stanz. "Berkowitz, Michaelson, check to see if he's carrying any weapons."
Tyr nodded. "I, do, however, have one stipulation to make prior to any questioning."
"Which is?" asked General Stanz
"That your people do not come anywhere near my ship," replied Tyr in a tone which indicated that there was not, would not, and could not be any room for debate on the matter.
"I don't think I've ever seen a ship quite like that," the small sandy-haired mustached human commented as stepped out of the ring of armed soldiers and edged his way over to the crevice created by Tyr's crashed ship.
"It would seem to be beyond repair and as such it could be extremely hazardous to anyone approaching it. As he did so Tyr wondered if his slip fighter alone had felt the systems go haywire, and the subsquent energy surge, followed by the disastrous and jaw-clenched plummet through the stratosphere of the planet. Both Dylan Hunt and Captain Beka Valentine had accompanied on that last mission, and their whereabouts were still unaccounted for.
The last communication he had before his fighter's systems overloaded had been Beka rambling about not messing up the mission, and then nothing but static until the channel went dead.
Aboard the Andromeda Ascendant, Captain Dylan Hunt brooded and paced on the command deck of his ship, wondering if the universe had decided to play some kind of cosmic joke. Not only had he lost his entire original crew during the battle of Witch Head in the final battle against the Nietzcheans, during the fall of the Commonwealth, now he had lost both his acting first officer, and his armory and tactical officer. This time, it was not due to anything as simple to blame as an attack, or dereliction of duty, not, of all things, it was simply, bad luck.
In the background Dylan could hear Rommie and Harper discussing the drive thrust mechanisms of the data retrieved from all of the slip fighters's black box sensor logs, which meant only his, and the last few minutes of sensor readings that Andromeda's AI had retrieved before and leading up to the communications blackout when he had lost contact with both Beka and Tyr..
Dylan had barely been able to coax his damaged fighter back aboard the ship, hoping against hope that both Beka and Tyr had been able to do the same. He had had the utmost confidence in their ability to do so. Beka was up there with the all time best pilots he had ever had the pleasure of serving with, and Tyr, well, Tyr was too good at what he did, to have been caught off-guard like that. "Come to think of it," Dylan muttered aloud, "I don't think I have ever seen that man, truly relaxed, or at ease."
Turning his attention back to the Andromeda's avatar, Rommie, he asked the burning question that he had been balancing on a knife's edge ever since the accident. "Where the hell are they?"
Rommie nodded and pretended not to notice or comment on the agitation written into every line of her captain's form and figure, and simply replied. "Unknown at this time, Captain. We have now come several jumps through slipstream away from the planet Rusalka IV, and are continuing to analyze the data. We will let you the moment we find out anything more concerning their whereabouts."
"Boss," Harper added. "Uh, before you wear a groove in the floor I've got something that will lift up your spirits, and to not to dredge a up time-honored clichИ, but I will turn that frown upside down, and it is just groovy."
"Out with it, Mr. Harper," Dylan sighed, realizing as he did so that it did little good to try and curb the young brilliant human acting engineer's enthusiasm for a difficult project or task.
"Well, it's nothing definite, but I think our essential problem of discovering where Beka and Tyr have disappeared to, is not a question of where you see, it is more of a question of 'when'.
"You see, after scanning that area of space and running numerous computer models of the anomaly prior and post the big goodbye," Harper grinned. "Thanks to Rom-doll and my own hypothesis, I think we're dealing with a case of temporal displacement."
"Temporal displacement?" Dylan questioned.
"That energy surge, not only sent their slip fighters plunging down, down, down, it also sent our friends back almost a thousand or more years into the past," Harper replied shaking his head ruefully.
"Assuming, for the sake of argument, that you're correct, Mr. Harper," Dylan asked. "How do we get them back?"
Harper sighed and stuffed his hands into the pockets of his orange pants. "That's the tricky part, boss. Harper looked up and then out the view screen at the panoramic scene of the star field just outside. "Unless I miss my guess, they might have to find their own way back., unless..." he trailed off thoughtfully.
"Unless, what? Give me something I can work with here, Mr. Harper," Dylan said.
"Unless we can trace their exact space time coordinates, get there and rig up some sort of device for hooking onto them and pulling them both back to our timeline. That's a pretty big IF, if you know what I mean?"
"Agreed." Dylan sighed. "Do you think that between you and Rommie, you can work up some kind of device?"
"Sure, give me the easy jobs," Harper joked and then his expression sobered into a more contemplative look. "Dylan, do you remember when I rigged up that time machine? I know that it did nott exactly work right, and a lot of innocent watermelons suffered as a consequence, but I think I might able to figure out what went wrong."
"I remember," Dylan replied, thinking in the back of his mind of that time machine, had also meant that he had had a shot at being reunited with his lost love, Sarah, but he was only fooling himself, that such second chances came around more than once. "Do what you can, Mr. Harper. Good luck."
"Thanks, Boss," Harper replied. "I'll get right on it!" Then he was off and out of the com command deck, and down the corridors to the Machine Shop.
In a square chamber furnished in Spartan-like with one table, several chairs and an antique rotating electric fan, and lit only by a bulb hanging in the light fixture overhead, Tyr was ordered to take a seat in one of the chairs. If he had not already grasped the fact that he had now become as much as a temporal anomaly as Dylan Hunt was in his own time, relatively speaking, he would have found the situation wryly amusing.
"You got a name, big guy?" one of the uniformed men asked as he lifted one end of a lit white stick to his bearded lips and began puffing and exhaling on it.
"You are aware that is a carcinogenic-inducing poison, and it will end up killing you," Tyr mildly observed.
"Yeah, so,?" the other rejoined. "What about it?"
Tyr shrugged and folded his arms across his chest, "Nothing, just making conversation."
"Do you have a name, or are you going to settle for hey you?"
"I am Tyr Anasazi."
"Okay," General Stanz cut in, darting reproving glares at the others in the room. "Care to tell me where you came from, and what you're doing here?"
"That would be telling." Tyr nodded and held eye contact with the general for at least the space of five minutes before the other was forced to turn away and break contact, just a little unnerved from the dark intent stare of the intruder.
"Humor me," General Stanz replied, when he felt that he was back on more or less even ground.
"It is complicated, and I am not at all sure that it would be comprehensible, even to me." As Tyr gave his glib reply he wondered where Captain Beka Valentine was and if she had survived the crash as he had, what she was up to.
Knowing her as well as he did, he could only assume that whatever she had in mind, it usually involved lots of guns and explosions, with the aim of increasing her own gains, usually at the expense of others. Human or not, as a Nietzchean Tyr found much he admired and found merit in the human female.
Meanwhile, the object of his thoughts trotted across the desert, his shoulder laser pistol out of his sheath and grasped in one sweaty palm. Beka did not care for her present situation, but considering that her slip fighter had gone up in flames and smoke, she was left with little choice in the matter. She had lost both radio and visual contact with Tyr, and had set out on foot in order to find him.
"Damn it! Double Damn it," she yelled as her foot caught up in a upsweeping in the unsteady and shifting ground and she tripped to land face down with a mouthful of grit and sand. She spit it out and forced herself back onto to her feet.
Beka stood up and wiped the worst of the detritus from the front of her shirt.
Her uniform jacket had been too hot to keep on in the dry and humid temperature of the desert, forcing her to take it off and tie it around her waist.
When she looked up again Beka realized that she was surrounded by a group of uniformed men, holding antique looking weapons trained on her. Beka was reasonably sure that the trek across the desert had not robbed her of her well-honed common sense, so they could not have been a mirage, or a trick of the fading moonlight.
"What's up, guys?" .
"Come with us."
"Sure, as long as you guys put away the pop-guns, and take me someplace that has drinking water and maybe a shower?" Beka said in her most reassuring and wheedling tones, her hands spread out in the universal gesture of no-harm, no-foul.
It seemed to work as the uniformed men put away their own weapons.
"I mean no disrespect, ma'am," one of the soldiers said as he fell into formation at the back of the small group. "But, we don't often get women out here and I reckon from ya'all's getup that you got lost from your regiment, am I right?"
"Yeah. I reckon," Beka replied with a grim smile. "Thanks for the save, feller. I've been along time dry," Beka replied, realizing with a start that she really was thirsty, her own supply of drinking water was getting very low. Much longer out here on her own, Beka thought, I really would have began to see things."
"Ma'am, I've been meaning to ask you," the solider with the southern drawl said, "What unit did you get uh, separated from.?
Beka found his diffident attitude both amusing and cute, in certain respects the young man reminded her a little of her brother, Rafe, although without that particular young man's trademark mischief lurking behind the big green eyes.
"Uh, the unit I was with had a top-secret mission," Beka replied, hoping that he would buy it, until she think up a more plausible cover story. "One I can't reveal right now.
"I understand," the young man nodded. "We sent a detachment back there, but your transport, is well," he shrugged. "In a word, totaled."
"Was anyone else with you,? the solider in front of the group interrupted.
For a brief second Beka considered whether it would better policy to lie and say she was alone, wondering where in the name of seven hells, Tyr had managed to lose himself, or if it would be better to tell the truth.
'I wonder if Dylan realizes that we never reached our rendezvous coordinates on Rusalka IV and will come looking for us.'
"The funny thing is, I don't recall the natives speaking with an Old-Earth Southern drawl."
Beka shrugged and then thought, "Ah, well. I guess a lot of things can change in give or take two decades or so."
Beka continued to keep pace with the soldiers and heaved a sigh when they came within a meter or two of their destination, a blockish m wire-fenced in military base, and shoved the stray thought into a back corner of her mind.
They passed through the gate in the fence, closing it behind them, and Beka took a good look around, solid, orderly, but old, old in terms of both construction materials and technology, 'hmm, it appears that these folks have fallen on hard times, or they have deliberately let things go, or are trying to hide from the Magogs, the Nietzcheans, or maybe both. These days, it's getting harder and harder to tell."
Her impromptu escort led her from the exercise yard into the base proper, and then down long metal and concrete corridors to the personnel area, and gave her all the water to drink that she wanted.
Much later and with a few sheepish grins, averted gazes which allowed her to use the shower facilities. When she was finished the guard handed her a spare uniform.
As she got dressed Beka suddenly felt a low thrumming sound that began at the base of her heels and vibrated up through her legs and then moved around to the base of her spine. It tingled, but oddly enough, it did not hurt.
In fact, it felt like being at the helm of her own ship, the Eureka Maru. She had been an experienced freighter and salvage pilot long enough to recognize the signs of a space ship stashed somewhere near, obviously in the lower sections of the base. She smiled, and thanked the young man who had either had orders to be her escort, and followed him as he led the way out of the crew quarters.
In the back of her mind a plan to find a way of this dull rock had begun to form, Step one, find Tyr, Step Two, borrow that space ship and then find their way back to Dylan and the Andromeda Ascendant.
The big snag in implement that plan, however, was that both Dylan and the Andromeda were several thousand years in the future. But Beka was a Valentine and Valentines did not allow little things had temporal blocks get in their way.
Chapter 2: Mutually Assured Destruction prompt #84 destroy