CHAPTER ONE

Major Steven O'Niel sat silently on a lavish leather sofa in the spacious central briefing room of the United Federation Space Station Serenity, a top-secret military facility in a desolate sector of space. His ice blue eyes scanned a report of an earlier mission as it scrolled down the screen of the data pad that he held in his bionic hand. Steven sighed and set the data pad aside, "Come on, Jamie." He muttered under his breath, "You're late again."

Seconds later, a woman dressed in a black jumpsuit burst through the lounge's double doors, her long blonde hair reflecting the white deck lights. "Got a scanner hit!" she exclaimed with a grin, "The B.A.T.'s just confirmed it. We've found a Time Crystal!"

The Time Crystals were the experimental super energizers of the TimeSplitters, an evil alien race that is able to travel back in time and rewrite civilization's history in seconds. The TimeSplitters' most recent piece of technology, called the "Time Portal", used the Time Crystals to form its power source. Unfortunately, during a human raid on their base, most of the TimeSplitters escaped, taking with them pieces of the core and hid them throughout mankind's past and future. After the base was retaken, the Bureau of Advanced Technologies (B.A.T.) set up a top-secret organization at the base with a mission to hunt down and retrieve the Time Crystals from the past and future. So far, they had been unable to locate any Crystals, until now.

"Really? Where?" Steven asked as he bolted off of the sofa.

"The Wild West era." The woman (a.k.a. Jamie Banes) answered as she moved a strand of hair from in front of her fair-skinned face, "Boss wants us to go in."

Steven rolled his eyes. "Of course he does." He said sarcastically as he strode out of the room and towards a nearby armory door. Steven punched in a code on the door's keyboard and it hissed open, revealing racks of rifles, pistols, boxes of grenades, and suits of armor. He walked inside, grabbed a suit of armor, and started to gear up. Jamie joined him moments later and retrieved her precious sword from its special corner of the armory.

As Steven slid a clip into his favorite X-44 Assault Rifle, his mind rewound to when his first teammate, John Sanders, was alive. Steven and John were on a standard recon mission on the distant jungle planet of Verana when they walked into a TimeSplitter ambush. The blue bolt that morphed out of the jungle missed Steven by inches. John, however, wasn't so lucky and took the full force of the bolt and ended up ten feet away, dead. Steven never fully recovered emotionally from that day and it wasn't until a year afterward that his Commanding Officer (C.O.) told him of his new partner, Private First Class Jamie Banes. For the past year and a half, Steven and Jamie went on several missions as teammates and survived many encounters with the TimeSplitters, but never a high priority mission like the one that they were about to embark on.

Steven hastily slipped on his armor and helmet. "Okay," he said to Jamie, "Let's go." Then he walked out of the room and headed for the hangar bay with Jamie close behind.

Jamie Banes quickly sheathed her sword in its red leather sheath and followed Steven through the winding corridors towards the hangar bay. Her blood raced through her veins as she thought about the mission that she was about to go on. Jamie mentally forced herself to calm down and to focus on the mission ahead.

A narrow door hissed open and Jamie and Steven entered a huge, 75-foot long hangar bay. Jamie gazed around the bay and her green eyes finally came to rest on a cylindrical, 20-foot long shuttle that seemed to glow and reflect any light that came in contact with it. She whistled in awe and Steven glanced over his shoulder, "She's a beauty, isn't she?" he asked, "The B.A.T. engineers just developed it. It's called a T.P.T., or Time Portal Transport, and was designed to fit through the Portal and provide extra mobility and firepower on missions like this."

Jamie ran her hand across the T.P.T.'s hull, "Feels like glass." She commented, "Sleek, too. Are we taking it?"

"Yep."

"Sweet!" Jamie exclaimed as she rushed into the cockpit, "I call shotgun!"

Steven chuckled as he boarded the ship and sat down in the pilot's seat, "Control, this is Viper One." Steven said into his COM headset, "We are go for launch."

"Roger that, Viper One." The man on the other end replied through the ships speakers, "You are clear to proceed. We will dial up the Portal when you have cleared the bay."

"Copy that, Control." Steven said as he gently guided the T.P.T. through the force field and out into space. Jamie watched as a portion of space ahead of them transformed into a purple and blue aurora that expanded slightly like water on paper. The control man's voice came over the COM once again, "Portal established, Viper One. Good luck."

"Thanks, Control. Viper out." Steven replied.

Jamie nervously took a deep breath and settled back in the co-pilot's seat. Steven gave her a sidelong look, "Ready?"

Jamie nodded, "Ready as I'll ever be."

"I'll have to cloak the ship once we're out of the Portal so we don't attract attention." Steven said.

"This thing has cloaking technology?" Jamie asked, flabbergasted.

Steven laughed, "Yeah. Along with a bathroom, AM-FM radio, reclining seats, a coffee machine, the works! Don't even ask me what this ship is worth."

Jamie smiled, "Wasn't planning on it."

Steven pressed a few controls on the dash, "Okay," he said, "Here we go…" He pulled back on the yoke and the ship jumped forward into the Time Portal.