The Epilogue to the Time Travel Adventures of Ross Murdock
Ross Murdock and Major Vasnev Danya Romanovich were facing each other standing on snow and ice. The ghosts of trees surrounded them, barely visible through the fog. The sky was overcast and it was threatening to once again snow. Romanovich was pointing his Soviet Army issued Makarov pistol at Murdock’s chest.
“So you want to know why I saved your life in the Ice Age, Murdock? It started out so simply. My men were engaged with the invading Forerunners. Months ago, one of our technicians accidentally activated some sort of transmission device on the spaceship. Apparently it emitted a signal that can travel faster than light, assuming the Forerunners who arrived came from outside our solar system.
“The invasion force hit without warning, repelling down through the opening above the spaceship’s chamber. I was the only one to get out in time. I planned to use you as a bargaining chip. I knew that our scientists had developed the time gate by studying portions of the alien technology we had recovered years ago from the first site in Siberia. I knew the Forerunners might follow us into the Bronze Age.
“I planned to defect. I was going to use you to negotiate with your people, secure safe passage on your submarine back to your base, and then return with you back to the present. I know where other spaceships are in the past, Murdock. I know of at least one in the Americas. I would have helped you find it, even before the Forerunners linked us telepathically.
“Why did you hit me and run? We could have escaped together. Didn’t you sense my thoughts, understand my intent? You understood the alien. Why didn’t you understand me? Why didn’t you save me like I tried to save you?”
Ross woke up startled. It was a dream, just a dream. Or was it?
Ashe found Murdock in one of the small conference rooms. A detailed map of a part of the Arizona desert was being projected on the wall in front of him.
Ross turned as the older time traveler sat in the seat to his right. “I’m glad you’re here, Gordon. I want to show you something.”
Murdock told Ashe about the dream. He’d had the same one for the past three nights running, always right before waking up in the morning. It had to mean something more than a dream. Along with Romanovich’s monologue, Ross saw an image of a map, a map with all of the Forerunner bases and outposts in the Americas.
“The one in Arizona is our best bet. Soviet intelligence believes it has suffered the least amount of degradation over time, though Romanovich didn’t know exactly how the Red spies came across that information.”
“You just now realized that you had been telepathically linked not only to the alien but the Russian as well?”
“That was a lot of data the Forerunner crammed into my head. It’s taken months for me to sort through this much and I think there’s more. With time, I should be able to process it. Who knows what’s still running around up here?” Ross tapped the side of his head with his index finger.
“I’ll call a meeting.”
Murdock rolled his eyes at his partner. “Not another meeting.”
“We’ll have to recall the other time agents in the Indo-European eras.”
“So we’re going to Arizona.”
“We, Ross? You were to be released from the project at the end of the current mission. You’ve been a terrific help, but with your criminal record erased, don’t you want a life outside?”
“Forget it, Gordon. I’m hooked. Nothing I’ve ever done before can compare to the project. I’m in for the duration if you, Kelgarries, and Zheutlin will have me.”
“I have a feeling you’ll be accepted, especially because of the knowledge that you’ve assimilated from the Forerunner and the Soviet. Right now, you are the best source of intel we’ve ever had. Welcome to the team, Ross.”
The previous stories in this series are:
- The Recruit
- The Artifact
- The Traders
- The Curse of Lurgha
- The Cache
This series was inspired by an original piece of flash fiction that led me to consider refactoring Andre Norton’s (Alice Mary Norton’s) 1958 science fiction novel The Time Traders.
Technically, this is the end of my version of Norton’s novel “The Time Traders,” but it’s not the end of the adventure. We still have to find out how the Forerunners are “terraforming” Earth and whether or not it can be reversed.
We also need to know about the Forerunners in the present. If they are responsible for changing the planet’s climate as a prelude to invasion and colonization, what’s the timeline? Will humans have to be extinct or will we still be here when they return?
And what about Forerunners and time travel technology? Did they really invent it or did the Soviets simply exploit and adapt the alien tech they discovered? It certainly seems as if the Forerunners understood how to use the time gate.
The answers are forthcoming in my upcoming adaption of Norton’s 1959 novel Galactic Derelict.
The first chapter in my “Galactic Derelict” homage is Canyon of the Moon.