Incursion

ice station zebra

From the 1968 film “Ice Station Zebra”.

Kelgarries wanted the job done in a month, but he was a soldier, not an engineer. The construction and precision placement of twin temporal gates, one at the highest point on Vila do Porto, one of the smaller islands of the Azores, and the other at the epicenter of the Tunguska Event, some 65 kilometers north-northwest of the town of Vanavara, could not be rushed, particularly at the stage of configuring the fusion generator for each and then applying power to the gates.

Both gates had to be absolutely synchronized in power output and frequency for their plan to work.

The plan? To intercept an experimental alien space and time craft that launched nearly 4,000 years ago from what used to be the main island in the Atlantis chain, where now remains only the tiny islands of the Azores, and due to explode in the atmosphere above a remote portion of Siberia on June 30, 1908. The field the gates would generate between the launch and crash points would create a nexus in the time stream intersecting with the ship and sending it off source to another place in the far distant past.

Determining that exact place and time was the job of Gordon Ashe and his team, Ross Murdock, Lynn Huỳnh, and Aiyana Zheutlin. Gordon was in charge of the team in the field, Ross would pilot the vessel, Aiyana would handle communications, and Lynn would act as ship’s engineer, using a time map scanner to determine the final location of the Forerunner ship.

The night before Ashe’s team left their Arctic base to hijack the Orange Scout Ship at Basecamp, Nevada, Aiyana paid Ross a late visit in his quarters.

“Well this is a surprise. Does Gordon know you’re here?”

“He doesn’t have to, Ross. Let me inside his room.”

“I like pushy women.” He stepped aside and she barreled inside his room.

“No you don’t or you wouldn’t be sleeping with Lynn.”

Ross closed the door. “That’s none of your damned business.”

“Neither is my relationship with Gordon.”

“Fair enough, Aiyana. What do you want?”

“I want to know how come Barnes knows the Forerunner ship that launched from Atlantis was experimental. I want to know how he knows that only a single Orange, the one who telepathically assaulted you, was on board. I want to know how he knows the other Oranges didn’t approve of what he was doing, which is why they left before the experimental ship launched.”

“Oh is that all? Simple. I told him.”

“Why didn’t you tell us? We’re your team.”

Ross took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Because I wasn’t sure. Because I was afraid.”

“Afraid?” It had never occurred to her that Ross Murdock was afraid of very much, at least unless it was a direct physical threat.

“Of what I’m remembering. Of what it means. I’m not sure of what it means yet, Aiyana. I’m still seeing the base shrinks and they’re trying to help me put it all together. The shrinks told Kelgarries and Kelgarries told Barnes because it might have a direct bearing on how he interprets the time map. Kelgarries ordered me not to tell the team and to keep seeing the shrinks until I felt more secure about my memory.”

“Since when have you ever obeyed orders, especially from John?”

Ross chuckled. “You’ve got me there. Except that this time I happen to agree with him. Aiyana, you’ve only experienced one Forerunner telepathic contact, and that was pretty benign.”

“I’ve been to the shrinks too, Ross. They’re pretty sure the Orange on Ceres manipulated our thoughts rather than simply imparted information.”

“I know that, too. However my other two incidents weren’t exactly roses and kisses.”

Aiyana tried to imagine and couldn’t. She didn’t want to. Her undergrad roommate Gretchen had been raped and she saw how it tore her apart, how she went from a happy, outgoing kid, to a terrified recluse. If anything were more of a personal violation than physical rape, it was the rape of the mind.

“Sorry, Ross. I’m just used to you being honest with us. I should have known if you were hiding anything, it was for a good reason.”

“Keeping things from friends is never right, Aiyana, especially since we depend on each other for our lives.”

The linguist and historian took Ross by the shoulders and gently pressed her forehead to his chest. She hated the thought that Ross could be vulnerable. She…the team depended on him to be strong, to be a warrior. For the first time, Aiyana understood what Lynn saw in him.

“This will be between us.” She lifted her head and looked into his eyes. “Okay?”

“No. Tomorrow at the final briefing before we leave, I’ll tell the team everything I can remember. I owe it to them, to you.”

They exchanged weak smiles. To an outsider, it might seem as if they lived a grand adventure, an exciting series of journeys through time, tales of suspense and astonishment. However, unless you lived this life, you could never understand the toll it takes on your mind and soul. Which would come first, the ultimate success of their mission or the crippling of their human spirits?

******

cargo jet

Air Force C-17 Cargo Jet found at Max Pixel Free Pictures.

Flying on a military cargo transport, each member of Ashe’s team including Gordon himself pondered Murdock’s revelations. A group of Orange Forerunners was attempting to develop the ultimate weapon, a time-space ship, one that could travel anywhere at hyperluminal speeds and could also visit any point in time. It would be impossible to detect such a ship until it was literally right in front of you, and you’d be dead before you had time to react.

The Oranges were determined to exterminate the Blues but there was something else. In his contact with the Blue in the Ice Age at the Soviet base, the contact Ross had along with Vasnev Romanovich, they both sensed something that took months to understand. A hint of death. Something was wrong with the Blues as a race, something horrible, something that drove them desperately.

It was a survival instinct, but neither Ross nor Vasnev really understood. There was something in the Orange’s thoughts too about it, but that piece of information was overridden by their desire to commit genocide against…against their…creators?

That didn’t make sense either, or did it?

Ross saw the confidential medical report Dr. David Link had covertly sent to Ashe, the one he hadn’t even shown to his boss, the head of the Project’s medical division, Dr. Edward Nieves.

Two things. The Blues were amphibians which was somehow connected to their base under the ice of Europa. The Oranges were modified clones of the Blues.

How did it all fit together and why did Ross know that both Blues and Oranges had kidnapped humans from ancient times and were breeding them on other worlds?

The answer would have to wait.

“We’re ten minutes out, folks. Strap in and prepare for landing.” The pilot’s voice was amiable. Aiyana guessed he was from East Texas. That reminded her that she needed to spend more time in her linguistic studies, especially the recording Ross captured of the human at the Atlantis base who was part of the Orange Forerunner crew. It was a human adaptation of the Forerunner spoken language. Why would humans learn to speak such a language unless they were living with the aliens?

******

Vaughn Frederiks acted like the proverbial kid in a candy shop. “Wow. Gordon Ashe and Aiyana Zheutlin back with Ross and Lynn. The original team that took Citron into space and visited Ceres and Europa. This is a real thrill.”

“Thank you, Vaughn.” Gordon had to tug has hand a bit to get the engineer to let go.

“Oh, sorry. Just got excited. As you imagine, they don’t let us out much.”

“Any chance we can see the inside of our old ship?”

“Sure, Dr. Ashe. That’s the reason you’re here. Follow me into the hanger.” Once inside, Vaughn turned into a tour guide. “As you can see, the roof is built to dilate, like the shudder of an old reflex camera so the ship can launch, though we’re not planning on losing track of her anytime soon.” The engineer pointed up indicating the details of the ceiling above them.

“We keep the hatch open and the ramp extended for easy access. I could lead the way, but I’m sure you know it as well as I do.”

Security was relatively relaxed. It was just them and Frederiks on the hanger floor. Lynn ducked into the ship along with Ross while Gordon and Aiyana kept Vaughn occupied with questions. Fortunately, there was a quick launch procedure. They wouldn’t have time to go through a lengthy pre-flight checklist, both because they had a schedule to keep, and because this was planned to be, as Ross put it, “a simple snatch and grab.”

“Oh, one more thing, Vaughn.”

“Sure, what is it, Dr. Zheutlin?”

Aiyana had hidden a miniature somni-wave device in the palm of her hand. It was disguised as a small make up compact. She flipped the activation stud and then pressed its induction pad on his forearm. Gordon was halfway up the ramp as Vaughn collapsed on the floor. The linguist then ran the three meters across the hanger deck and up after Ashe.

“Are you sure he’s going to be okay down there when we launch?”

Gordon shut the hatch. “Fine. You know the ship doesn’t use conventional rockets.”

“Get seated both of you. We’re ready to launch and we’ll have to crash through the roof. The ship’s tough enough to take the impact, but until I activate the inertialess drive, you’ll really feel it if you’re not secure.

ship

From one version of the cover of Andre Norton’s novel “Galactic Derelict”

Lynn was monitoring the hanger as alarms sounded and the people in the launch booths went crazy. The ship was airborne and breaking through corrugated steel as armed MPs ran in to stop them.

“They’ll have interceptors in the air in minutes, Ross.”

“Not fast enough to do them any good. We’re in the upper atmosphere. Approaching orbital velocity.”

The red gel used in standard Forerunner seats on their ships absorbed all of the vibration and pressure from acceleration, so the ride wasn’t unpleasant.

Aiyana was monitoring ground to air transmission but they’d left conventional aircraft far behind. There were any number of orbiting satellites plus the International Space Station, but their orbit would be higher than any of them, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop them.

However, it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that their stealing this craft had something to do with the time gate constructed in the Azores. Ross had only twenty minutes to get the ship in position so Lynn could power it down and activate a low level temporal field to isolate them from the upcoming time incursion. Then she had to be at the time map scanner to record where and when Dr. Barnes’s brilliant invention was going to send the experimental ship in order to stop the Tunguska Event and save the world.

******

In a makeshift underground bunker near the Podkamennaya Tunguska river, Major Vasnev Romanovich and a small group of technicians and engineers were taking one last admiring look at their achievement before powering up the time gate.

“You’ve done an outstanding job, Mineyev. Absolutely first rate. I hope this works. Otherwise, we’ll all likely be shot for treason.”

Mineyev Nikolay Duskin had recently retired as one of Russia’s top temporal engineers but missed the excitement of executing the State’s time missions. He also missed any sort of freedom since the knowledge he possessed was so classified, his home and telephone were bugged and he was followed out in public even to the men’s room.

Fortunately, he gave his guards the slip by driving like a madman and then switching cars in the few seconds he was out of sight of his pursuers, but he knew there was no going back. He’d known Vasnev since they were children, or at least he thought he had. He hadn’t shared this with the technicians Romanovich had brought into the job, but if his friend was telling the truth, he had memories of another timeline, another existence that Mineyev was totally oblivious to. If they were successful in their mission, he would remember his current life but when he stepped outside again, it would not exist. Who was to say if this life or another is better?

His conscience answered the question. Duskin was a life long environmentalist, not something always popular with his government, but for the chance to totally stop the primary cause of climate change, he was willing to not only give up his life, but his reality. That probably made him a radical, but he was comfortable with that identity.

The rest of the team members were just boys. They bought the cover story of investigating residual temporal effects of the Tunguska blast, just as the government did. Too late would the three young technicians realize that the life they remembered on the outside had vanished forever, that is, if Vasnev’s insane plan worked.

They didn’t have much time. State Security wasn’t populated with the most brilliant agents, but even they would see the connection between this project and Mineyev’s disappearance.

“Less than five minutes now, Vasnev. I’m powering up the gate.”

Romanovich couldn’t risk any telephone or radio contact with the counterpart gate in the Azores, so his watch was precisely calibrated to Travis Fox’s. At each end, both men would give the “Go” signal to activate their gates. Until then, all Vasnev could do was pray.

******

“We are go here, Travis.” The “control voice” of Thomas Lucius came over Fox’s headset.

“Right, Thomas. We are at 180 seconds and counting.”

The U.S. Navy had only been told there was a security operation being run on the island by the NSA. That’s all they needed to know and that’s all they cared to know. In any event, it was dangerous for anything smaller than a battleship to approach the area by sea because of the mysterious and dangerous currents. All of the equipment and personnel had been brought in by helicopter.

Travis looked up. Of course he couldn’t see the Forerunner craft but he knew Ross should have piloted it into position by now. He looked back at his watch.

“120 seconds, Thomas. Stand by.”

“Time gate operations standing by for Go signal.”

Travis loved listening to his voice. Just about everyone did. He sounded like a friendly Darth Vader.

In Siberia, Vasnev was also staring at his watch. “90 seconds, Mineyev.”

“I’ve got my hand on the switch.”

“One minute, Thomas.”

“Thirty seconds, Mineyev.

In space, Lynn had shut down the inertialess drive two minutes before. It was completely inert and the low level temporal field was up and running. They were operating on battery power and the young engineer was at her time scanner.

“We’re set, everyone. Just relax and enjoy the ride.”

“What ride, Lynn? We shouldn’t feel a thing.”

“Just an expression, Gordon” she said almost absent mindedly as she concentrated on the scanner.

“Ten seconds…five…” Aiyana felt her heart pounding. “Zero.”

“Roger that. I’ve got an image.”

Both time gates roared into life but it was like nothing Romanovich or Travis had experienced before. The area around each gate shimmered and fluctuated, as if they were looking through running water. The sound the gates made was deafening. The equipment began to spark and vibrate. Even Mineyev’s “hot young turks” looked worried.

In space on the time map screen, what looked like a bright orange line between the Azores and Siberia shimmered and twisted. Then the screen flashed, forcing Lynn to look away for an instant. When she looked again, the screen was blank.

Then the readings came back.

“The gates are off. Temporal incursion has been terminated.”

“Where and when, Lynn?”

“Not a clue, Gordon. I’ll have to get Barnes to help with interpreting the data so we can locate the Orange ship. Meanwhile, I’m turning off the temporal field.”

“Let me know when it’s completely dissipated so I can fire up the engines, Lynn.”

“Sure thing, Ross.”

For an instant, their eyes met and she thought she saw something in them, like he was proud of her. Then he turned back to his controls and the job at hand.

Right. Space and time travel are dangerous. Can’t get distracted. That’s when she realized she was falling in love with Ross Murdock, not that she had meant to.

“So now what, we put the ship back where we found it and wait to get arrested, Gordon?”

“We see how the timeline has changed, Aiyana. For all we know, we’ll land and the President will be waiting to pin a bunch of medals us.”

“First things first.” Lynn was still using the sensor devices. Checking environmental conditions. “Checking…” She started to mutter to herself and then, “Yes! Yes! It worked! This is only an estimate, but the preliminary readings say that the average combined global temperature over land and water is 1.15 degrees Celsius or 2.08 degrees Fahrenheit lower than when we left. It freaking worked!”

“Starting re-entry, everyone. Cutting out inertialess drive so stay seated.”

“I’ll see if I can raise Kelgar…oh wait. He’s calling us.”

“Can you read me, Scout Ship? This is Kelgarries at Project Retrograde.”

“I’ve got you, John. Can you confirm the good news? Lynn says the incursion worked. The global temperatures are definitely cooler.”

“Preliminary figures indicate the same but we’ve got other issues. Do not, repeat, do not attempt to land at Basecamp. It is under some sort of siege. Reports are sketchy, but they seem to be surrounded by a foreign army. They’re trying to work out a common language now.”

“What?”

The team’s engineer interrupted. “I’ve got other strange news, Aiyana.”

“Hang on, John. What is it, Lynn.”

“Well, the International Space Station is missing and there are a lot fewer satellites in orbit. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear this was the early to mid-1960s judging by the number and type of objects orbiting.”

“Did you get that, John?”

“I did. All of our communications are out except with you and Basecamp, and we could only get through to them by tapping into what seems to be an old style communications satellite.”

“Yes, I can trace the signal. Oh my God. It’s Telstar or something just like it.”

“What’s that mean, Lynn?”

“Like in 1962, it was the first communications satellite launched into orbit by the U.S. It belonged to AT&T and relayed television, phone calls, and telegraph images. It’s still in orbit today but doesn’t work…in our timeline anyway, but here it’s fully functional, like it’s brand new.”

“Scout Ship, this is Travis Fox at the Azores gate and we’ve got big problems.”

“This is Aiyana, Travis. What’s wrong?”

“The Navy ships vanished right after the time incursion and I think the time gate explosion attracted…well, a sea monster.”

“Explosion?”

“No, Aiyana. We’re fine, but we’re scared out of our minds. This huge sea dinosaur like something out of Jurassic World keeps circling the island. We have helicopters, but no radio contact with Naval Station Rota in Spain. I think we did something horrible to the timeline. I think we somehow went back hundreds of millions of years.”

mosasaurus

A mosasaurus as seen in the 2015 film “Jurassic World”.

“Negative, Travis. Yes, something has changed we didn’t anticipate, but there are humans in North America. If you’re in danger, we could pick you up.” Aiyana looked at Ross for confirmation.

He nodded and keyed his mike so he could cut into communications. “I can change course. We should be there in about ten or fifteen minutes. That work for you and your team?”

“Yeah. I don’t think the thing can get at us, at least I hope not.”

“Okay, we’re coming in.”

“This is Kelgarries. I’ve been monitoring. Yes, pick up Travis, Lucius and their team, then get back to base fast.”

“John, I’m going to try contacting Vasnev to see how his people doing.”

“Good idea, Aiyana.”

“Scout Ship to Tunguska base, come in Romanovich.”

“Thought you’d never call, Aiyana. We would be having a great time down here except we’re not sure which time we’re in.”

“Are you in any immediate danger?”

“Funny you should ask. The answer is no. Everything in our immediate vicinity seems relatively unaffected by the timeline change except that now there is no evidence of any catastrophic blast, so congratulations are in order.

On the other hand, I’ve got a bunch of terrified young technicians in this bunker with Mineyev and me. Also, we’ve been able to isolate local radio frequencies. We’re still in mother Russia. The Soviet Union hasn’t come back, but it might as well have, because from what I can tell from the news, the country is a lot bigger than the last time I looked.”

“Okay, sit tight. We’re going to pick up Travis and his team and then return to base. That means once we get low enough for the curvature of the Earth to interfere with radio transmission, we’ll be out of touch.”

“No, we won’t.” Lynn switched to a different part of her console. “I can launch one of the probes we found out about. Once I heard about them, it was easy to figure out how to configure the little guys for just about anything, including an orbital commsat.”

“Work fast, Lynn. I’m approaching Europe.”

“I’ll have it ready by the time we lift off from the Azores.”

“Then I will talk with you later, Aiyana. Hopefully then you can tell me what the hell is going on. In the meantime, we’re breaking out the Vodka.”

“Acknowledged. Don’t get too pissed, Vasnev. Scout Ship out.”

“Descending toward Vila do Porto now. Travis, you should be able to see us in a few seconds.”

“Got you, Ross. You’re a sight for sore eyes.”

“Holy shit. What’s that?”

“Travis wasn’t kidding, Lynn. It’s a dinosaur. I’ll need some confirmation but I believe it’s a Mosasaurus. Right now I wish my degree were in paleontology and not archeology.”

“Dinosaurs aren’t our only problem, Gordon. I’m picking up ground to air communications. It’s in English. British English. Ground control talking to three military jets. They’ve been sent to intercept us.”

“I’ve got them, Aiyana. They’re coming at about Mach 2, ETA 42 minutes.”

“Landing now. Let’s get the team loaded as soon as possible. Lynn, keep working on the commsat.”

“Right, Ross.” In all the excitement, she’d momentarily forgotten about it. “Have to get it from auxiliary engineering.”

“Wait until we land. He we go.”

The Scout Ship landed on the closest flat piece of real estate to the time gate Ross could manage.

“What a mess.”

“Worry about that later, Gordon. I’m opening the hatch and deploying the ramp.”

Lynn was up and out of her seat to work on the probe while Aiyana and Gordon got up and ran just outside the ship. “Hurry. Everybody on board now. The Mosasaurus isn’t out biggest problem.”

“The hell you say, Gordon.” Thomas Lucius was leading the three other techs up the ramp while Travis was bringing up the rear. Two of the techs were carrying the portable fusion unit they’d used to power the gate.

“Aiyana, show them up to crew quarters, get the reactor secured,  and then get them in the gel beds. I’ve got to talk to Ross.”

“Right, Gordon.” She turned to the five gate team members. “All of you follow me. We’ll be launching in just a few minutes.”

“Ross, can you handle the weapons on this thing?”

“You don’t expect me to shoot those jets down, do you? We’ll be long gone by the time they get here.”

“No, not the jets. The gate and all the other equipment including the choppers. I don’t know how we changed the timeline so radically, but we can’t let anyone get their hands on our technology.”

“Sure, Gordon. Once we take off, the ship’s plasma cannon can pretty much vaporize the gate and anything else within a mile radius.”

“That’s what I wanted to hear.” Gordon patted Ross on the shoulder.

“Gordon, what they hell happened. Where and when are we?”

“We are on Earth in the year 2017, Ross. However when we stopped the Tunguska Event, we must have changed something else, too.”

“I don’t know. Look at the pattern, Gordon. At Atlantis, the experimental Forerunner ship was emitting radiation that caused random time incursions, such as bringing the Megalodon forward in time so it encountered our sub. I think when we changed the destination for that ship, it triggered another time storm, changing the timeline into this, whatever this is.”

“Okay, they’re ready so let’s get this bucket off the ground and head home.” Aiyana was coming down the ladder just as Lynn came back into the main control room.

“Got the probe set in the launch bay, Ross. I’ll transmit the specifics to your console. Make the orbital maneuver I’ve outlined and then I’ll launch the probe. It will be high enough to allow comm between the Project and both the Tunguska facility and Basecamp.”

“Got it, Lynn. Good work.”

Lynn had to keep pushing her personal feelings aside every time Ross acted like she was just a co-worker. They were in a crisis fighting against time. What did she expect anyway, violins? Why was she feeling hurt?

With the ramp retracted and the hatch closed, the four Scout Ship crew seated themselves at their stations and lifted off. The three military aircraft were just under thirty minutes out.

“Let’s see if I can pick them up on visual. Okay, got them. Oh my. British insignia, at least I think it is. They’re very, very similar to F-4 Phantom IIs. I recognize them from my high school history class.”

“If I remember my history, they were first put into service around 1960.”

Royal-Navy-F-4K-Phantom-FG1

Found at flying-tigers.co.uk

“You’re the historian, Aiyana. You should know.”

“Ancient history, Gordon. I only remember because one of my Uncles was a collector of vintage aviation photos. Proud of his collection, and I can recall each and every time he showed it to me, whether I want to or not.”

“Ready to fire, Gordon. Got a lock on the target.”

“Fire?”

“Relax, Lynn. At the time gate, the helicopters, and whatever else we have to leave behind. When those three Phantoms get here, the only thing they’ll find is a smoldering crater.”

“Go ahead, Ross.”

Murdock had never fired the Forerunner ship’s primary weapon before, but his lesson in how to fly this craft imparted to him by the Orange on Ceres told him how, both in terms of information and the feeling of actual experience.

The ship was high enough that the detonation only caused a momentary vibration, but they all had to look away from their monitors for several seconds because of the flash. When they could see again, there was no evidence that the gate or other equipment had ever existed. Only melted and scorched rock where a small peak used to be. Vila do Porto had lost nearly 100 meters of height.

“I’m climbing now. We’ll be in space by the time those Phantoms arrive.”

“Aiyana. Did the portable fusion reactor get secured?”

“First thing Lucius did when I got them on the upper level. It’s strapped down in a storage compartment, Gordon.”

“Good. Wouldn’t want it rattling around. I know the team knows their jobs but I wanted to make sure,”

“Passing the upper atmosphere. We’ll be at the deploy point in a few minutes, Lynn. Is the package ready.”

“Just say the word Ross and I’ll launch. We should be good to go after that.”

“I’m trying to make some sort of sense out of the communications I’m getting. Mostly English transmissions with some French, German, and Spanish coming from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Russian and Chinese from further East.”

“What about America, Aiyana?”

“That’s the puzzle. I’m getting some English, but there are at least three other distinct languages. The one I’m best able to identify is…Iroquois. Yes. It’s coming from stations all over the Eastern seaboard and as far west as the Great Lakes.”

“Iroquois?”

“I can’t explain it, Gordon.” She turned to face the other three, puzzlement and anxiety written on her face.

“Maybe Kelgarries can. We have to report in anyway.”

“Wait a sec. We’re at the orbital insertion point. Lynn?”

“Way ahead of you Ross. Launching the commsat now. Give it about thirty seconds and then start your descent toward the Arctic.”

“Thanks, Lynn.” This time he allowed himself a small smile.

Okay, Aiyana. Give base a call.”

“Scout Craft to Kelgarries at Project Retrograde. Come in.”

“Kelgarries here. Did you get a hold of Romanovich and did you retrieve Fox’s party.”

“Yes to both of those questions, John. Vasnev says he’s in no immediate danger, but we think the British sent three F-4 Phantom IIs at us. We got out before they could see us. The Forerunner ship is stealthy enough to avoid radar, so someone must have eyeballed us on our approach, possibly commercial aircraft.”

“Well get the hell down here fast, Aiyana. We’ve got news and it isn’t good. The cargo hanger will be open. It’s big enough for the Scout Ship.”

“Right. What’s our ETA, Ross?”

“Ross here, Kelgarries. We’ll be down and in the hanger in less than thirty minutes.”

“Take an evasive course. Don’t go over or near any population centers. So far, we don’t think our secure communications have been detected, but I don’t want to take any chances. Whatever we did changed the timeline radically and so far Barnes has only a vague idea of what might have gone wrong.”

“Acknowledged, Kelgarries. Scout Ship out.”

An alien ship carrying nine human beings approaches their hidden Arctic base which may be the only thing left of their previous timeline. What happened to the Earth and what caused it? Preliminary data suggests that the team was successful in eliminating climate change, but at what cost? Gordon Ashe and his team should be at the conclusion of their original mission, but now it seems they’re only at the beginning, especially with their facility at Basecamp, Nevada surrounded by unknown forces and Vasnev Romanovich and his people stranded in a makeshift underground bunker in Siberia. What will they have to face next?

Before answering that question though, we’ll take a short detour into the past to discover how severe the effects of the time storm have been in the past up to this very day.

This is the second full chapter of my “book” which I call “Key Out of Time.” Here’s the Table of Contents so far:

  1. Prologue: Key Out of Time
  2. Threshold

As I mentioned above, our next wee chapter represents a detour into the 11th century CE so we can see the truly profound effects of the Forerunner time storm on the European seafarers and why men like Erikson, Columbus, and Cabot were completely unable to explore the “New World. Find the next submission to my homage to the works of the late Andre Norton (Mary Alice Norton) at Interlude: What Lies in the Deep?

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