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History Lesson

Authors: Kayleen
Categories: John/Helena, Tony/Maya
Characters: John Koenig, Alan Carter
Show Year: Y2
Rating: PG
Date: 2001
A mysterious ship crash-lands on the moon and sends John and Alan to Earth in 1956. Could their mere presence change history and threaten the very existence of Alpha?
First published in the fanzine "Semper et Ubique"
Average Rating: 4.0/5 (based on 8 reviews)

September 13, 1999 arrived and is now history. The whole Breakaway incident didn't really happen. Or did it? ...

"He said 'One small step for man; one giant leap..."

"'For mankind.'" Victor Armstrong Koenig gleefully chided in unison with his father, Commander John Koenig, who read to the five-year-old on his knee.

The moonbase wasn't originally planned to accommodate children. A few children's books and video were brought to the base as part of collections or sentimental pieces. Others for education or entertainment were rewritten from memory and printed from computer. Such was the book the Commander read to his son.

"Can I watch Pinocchio again?" The dark-haired boy asked.

"Again? That'll be the third time this week!" The Commander flashed his lop-sided smile.

"Yeah! I want to watch it again." Victor smiled back, gleaming with Dr. Helena Russell Koenig's eyes. "Can I watch it with Antonia?"

"Okay, you can watch it again." John lifted the boy off his knee. "Jackie Crawford's watching Antonia. I'll tell him to bring her over." Victor skittered off to his video, clutching a teddy bear made from a worn out uniform.

The Alphans never planned to subject children to a doomed life on the moonbase. They practiced birth control, but space travel and stresses of Alphan life threw off the women's cycles and pregnancies caught them by surprise. With more than a decade of exposure to radiation and unknown space elements, birth defects were a serious concern. So far, the defects were only minor. Shermeen and Eddie Collins' son was born without his fifth toes; Bill and Annette Fraser's daughter had a club foot. The pregnancy that gave Helena the most concern was with Tony and Maya's daughter. There were real doubts that human and Psychon DNA would be compatible. But Antonia Verdeschi was born healthy, strong, and became a beautiful, four-year-old version of her mother. She also gave confidence that the addition of Psychon genes would make their race stronger should they repopulate a new planet. Now, children gave the Alphans a new hope to continue on with life and find a planet to call home.

Before John could close the book, Command Center signaled him. He approached the screen.

"This is Commander Koenig."

"Commander." Sahn appeared on the screen. "We just found a ship that crash landed on the surface."

"How did that come about?"

"We have no idea. It just suddenly appeared. Our surveillance didn't even show it coming."

"Are there any clues to where it could have come from?" asked the Commander.

Sahn answered, "It looks like one from Earth. The lettering on the hull is in English."

"That's really strange. Run a thorough check for life signs, radiation, and damages." John ordered. "Is Tony there with you?"

"No." answered Sahn. "He's in Medical Center for his routine physical."

"I'll be right there. We can call Tony later." He turned to Victor, "I have to go to Command Center, okay, Sport. You know how to get a hold of your mother if you need anything."

"Okay." Victor replied.

A shirtless Tony sat on the exam table as Dr. Helena Russell Koenig examined his skin for abnormalities.

"From the waist up, your skin looks clear of any signs of melanoma or other problems." Helena explained. "Next, I need to examine the rest, including your prostate."

"Excuse me?" Tony asked with a start as he slipped his gown back on.

"I need to examine your prostate." Helena repeated.

"You don't really have to. Do you?" Tony asked.

"Tony, you are now at the age when that needs to be checked on a regular basis."

"Well, can't I just check it myself and let you know what I find?" Tony protested.

"You're not a trained physician and your findings wouldn't be objective." Helena explained.

"What about Dr. Matthias or Vincent? Why can't I get them to do it?"

"They're also booked up doing physicals. Look, it's just a routine procedure. I've done hundreds of them. You don't need to be embarrassed." Helena insisted.

"It's not that I'm embarrassed. Just look at those manicured claws of yours." Tony replied. "Those could be deadly weapons."

"I will be very careful and very gentle. Now, as an officer and as your personal physician, I order you to drop your drawers." Helena staccatoed the last three words as she snapped on a rubber glove.

"Great." Tony rolled his eyes as he reached for the waistband of his boxers. "Now I'm going to find out what a hand puppet feels like."

"Commander Koenig to Medical Center." John summoned.

Helena approached the screen. "Yes, John."

"Is Tony still there?" He asked.

"Yes, he is." Helena answered. "I haven't finished his physical yet."

"We just had a ship crash land on the surface." John informed.

"A ship? When? How?" Helena asked.

"There's a lot we don't know yet." John answered. "We need to do a thorough investigation. Could you send Tony here to Command Center as soon as he's ready?"

"Yes. I'll tell him." Helena answered.

"Tell him I'll be right there." Tony piped in. Then he hopped off the exam table, gathered up his clothes, and hurried off.

Maya and Sandra Benes were at their consoles when Tony entered the Command Center. John stood between them, studying the ship on the screen. The vessel appeared to be four times the size of an eagle. The nose resembled an eagle's, but was longer and narrower. It had twice as many rockets as an eagle and each one was twice as big. The actual body was rather small and narrow - just large enough to support the engines and carry its internal systems. Over three fourths of the ship's mass was for power - engines, generators, and fuel storage.

"What do you make of it?" John asked Tony.

"My best guess is that it's a Sagan Hyper-swift." Tony answered. "I remember seeing models and drawings of it when I was studying quantum physics in University. Its proposal was for time travel for studying deep space and star formation. It was very theoretical. No one ever expected it to leave the drawing board."

"We're not going to run into what we did with the Super-swift, are we?" John asked, vividly remembering the deadly aliens that made them believe a Super-swift brought their loved ones to Alpha.

"Not likely." Maya answered. "But I can run a thorough check and compare our records with what happened then."

"Please do that." John ordered. "What kind of data do you have on it so far?"

"I haven't found any life forms." Maya answered as she punched buttons. "There's some erratic electrical activity. Some of its systems are still operating since the crash."

"Is there any reason why we wouldn't be able to go out and have a look at it?" John asked. "Maybe we can find out why it's here or if its computer has any useful data we can use."

Maya replied, "Right now it doesn't look very hazardous. I should check a couple of more things before we go out, and we can be on our way."

"Good. I'd like to have you, Tony, and Alan come out with me to have a look at it when everything checks out. Have Kami Ellerson join us, too. She'd have a pretty good idea how this got here." said John. "Be sure to bring a remote wave-link modem so we can retrieve data from the ship's computer. Meet me, ready to suit up in about an hour." he said as he exited the Command Center.

"Yes, Commander." Tony and Maya answered respectively.

Kami Ellerson was one of the youngest Alphans to ever be put on duty. As a child prodigy, she received her bachelor's degree at the age of twelve. At fourteen, she was doing a two-week project on Alpha as part of a graduate study when the moon left orbit. The first years in space were even harder on her than for most. Though she was extremely intelligent, she was still a teenager. She was still immature in some ways and had no family or same-age peers on the base. Shermeen was close to Kami's age, but the two had very little in common. Since everyone had to adjust to their new lives on Alpha and without Kami on the personnel roster, it took the medical staff several months to notice Kami's particularly deep depression. Helena then became her counselor and surrogate mother. Sahn became a best friend and stand-in big sister, which helped Kami navigate through adolescence. She then completed her studies and became Alpha's quantum physics expert.

Alan, John, Tony, Maya and Kami gathered up their supplies and equipment; including the remote wave-link modem. They donned their tangerine space suits and rode a moon buggy to the crash.

Technology had not changed much when it came to locks, and the ship's door opened easily. The team entered and immediately noticed the blinking machines.

"No chairs, no manual controls." John noted. "Clearly an unmanned mission."

The computer was still active, as was another unfamiliar apparatus. It consisted of a housing approximately two meters tall with blinking lights and a control panel with dozens of switches and buttons. Attached to it was an equally high, transparent cylinder with blurs of colored light spinning inside. It had a clear, narrow door and was wide enough to fit two people inside.

"What would you make of this?" John asked as they looked at the machine.

"This could actually be a quantum accelerator." Kami's wide, blue eyes studied the new specimen. "It was a proposed machine that would digitalize a person's structure, then send him or her through time and space in a matter of seconds. I've only seen drawings of it."

"I never thought I'd see technology like this." Tony stated. "This has to be at least fifty years ahead of us."

"Probably more." Alan added.

"Could it have been sent here to take us back to earth?" John asked.

"That may be possible. We'll have to go through the ship's records to find out." Kami answered.

John and Alan examined a control panel. They both tried to brush off some debris with their hands to get a better look at the lettering. A blinding light filled the ship.

"Right shoulder, huh." a drill sergeant belted out to a troop of marines. John and Alan found themselves lined up in a rank of soldiers under a sweltering sun. They didn't realize where or when they were and didn't promptly follow the sergeant's orders with the rest.

"Private Pierce, Private Bristol! Do you have a problem?" The sergeant shouted as he faced Alan and John, nose to nose.

"No, sir." a confused John answered.

"I can not hear you, Private Bristol!" the sergeant shouted in his face.

"No! sir!" John shouted back.

"Is there something wrong with you, Private Pierce?" the sergeant shouted at Alan.

"No! sir!" Alan shouted.

"Since you two can't seem to pay attention, I think you need to pump some oxygen into your brains. You will drop and give me fifty!"

Alan and John left their rank to do push ups as the rest of the troop continued their drills.

"My God, John!" Alan exclaimed as he dropped to the pavement. "Where are we? What's happening?"

"That quantum accelerator must have done something to us." said John as he started his push ups.

They looked around as they continued and could only surmise that they were on an Earth's United States' Marines' base. They finished their push ups and ran to catch up with the rest of the troop, realizing all they could do was go through the motions as soldiers.

The two Alphans kept themselves fit and healthy on the moonbase, but they still were not up to advanced basic training of the Marines. They had to strain to keep up with the rest of the soldiers and quickly became fatigued. Even worse, their confusion caused them to frequently make mistakes and they found themselves doing push-ups and extra calisthenics as punishment. They had little chance to talk privately between themselves to discuss their situation. The day of drills, running, obstacle courses, and firing range practice eventually brought them to the mess hall.

John and Alan went through the line to fill their trays, then sat down at an empty table across from each other. The training made them work up an enormous appetite. The chipped beef on toast, frequently referred to as "shit on a shingle", was also a welcome change from Alpha's limited offerings.

"So far, I figured out that we're on Earth in the United States Marines." said Alan

"But when? And are we here forever, or will Alpha be able to bring us back?" asked John.

"All I know is that the quantum accelerator obviously screwed up and sent us here." said Alan. "And who on Alpha knows anything about quantum accelerators?"

Another private sat down next to John. "You two sure have been quiet today. Are you guys feeling okay?"

"I've had quite a headache lately." John answered. "My throat's getting a little sore, too. I'm probably coming down with something."

"I must be hanging around you too much." Alan said to John. "I feel like I'm coming down with the same thing."

"Well, I sure hope you two will feel okay tomorrow night." the private added. "We're all planning on going down to the honky-tonk. They got some good music and there's gonna be lots of pretty girls there."

"I sure hope to make it." said Alan.

John and Alan considered going to the honky-tonk with the rest of the soldiers as a means of getting to know them and becoming familiar with their new setting. But the two Alphans were exhausted and decided to use the time to discuss their situation privately with each other and to research their new identities through Bristol's and Pierce's belongings. They looked under their beds and in foot lockers for letters, pictures, and personal items. John found letters and pictures for Bristol from three different girlfriends. Alan discovered that Pierce had a wife and three daughters. Then, Alan found a copy of Stars and Stripes. He pointed out the date to John - November, nineteen fifty-six.

They continued their research until they were too tired to stay awake. That night, the two Alphans slept quite soundly. The rest of the soldiers returned extremely late. Though they were drunk and loud, John and Alan didn't even hear them come in.

After another long day's training, Alan and John staggered into the latrine. They leaned up to the sinks and splashed water on their faces. John propped himself up against a wall. Alan lowered himself against the wall and sat on the floor.

"I can't believe what's happened to us." said Alan. "There must be some way to get out of this."

"Well, from here, it looks like there's nothing we can do to get back." said John. "Unless Alpha finds a way, all we can do is live out the rest of our lives as Private Bristol and Private Pierce."

"You know, we could make Bristol and Pierce very rich." said Alan. "From now 'til nineteen ninety-nine, we know the stock market trends and upcoming inventions."

"You also know that any little move we make could alter the future." John added as they both gave a melancholy chuckle.

"For so long, all I could think of was how much I wanted to go back home on Earth." said Alan. "Now all I can think of is how much I want to go back to Alpha."

"Did I tell you I was going to teach Victor how to swim next week?" John added. "I can't believe how much I'm going to miss Helena and that little guy."

"I'm already missing everyone on Alpha. Even Tony." said Alan. "Remember that time Maya caught Tony looking at Cranston's chest?"

"Do I?!" John laughed.

"Tony turned around, and here Maya transformed into Cranston with breasts even bigger than beach balls." Alan could hardly talk past his laughter. "The look on Tony's face!"

"I never saw a face so red!" John added. "He thought he was in so much trouble. I couldn't figure out how Maya could even stand up with those."

As John and Alan were laughing, a marine private entered the latrine and proceeded to wash his hands. Alan wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes and noticed a trickle of blood on the marine's boot.

"Hey, Oswald. Did you do something to your leg?" Alan alerted the soldier.

Oswald looked down at his boot. "Oh, that. It's just a scratch. No big deal. I don't even know how I got it."

"You still should probably take care of it." John suggested. "At least clean and bandage it. Put some antiseptic on it if you've got any."

"You might be right. It won't hurt to do that, anyway." Oswald replied. Then he removed his boot and sock and lifted his foot to the sink.

The next morning, a bugle's reveille presented the sunrise. John and Alan strained their heavy arms, pulling on their uniforms. Their leaden legs labored to keep up with the rest of the troop as they ran into formation. Then, the same, split-second flash that brought them to the camp blinded them both.

Alan and John stood in front of the quantum accelerator. Tony, Maya, and Kami were in the same place as before.

"Maya! Tony! Kami! Boy, are we glad to see you!" Alan shouted. "How did you get us back?"

"What's been happening on Alpha?" John frantically asked.

"John, you're not making any sense." Tony stated.

"You seemed to have disappeared for not even half a second." Maya added.

"Half a second?" Alan asked. "We were gone for several days!'

"What's been happening here?" asked John.

"Nothing happened here." Kami replied. "We should ask what happened to you."

"This machine - it sent us back to Earth." John answered.

"We were there for over a week." Alan added.

Then, smoke poured from the quantum accelerator. A series of bangs popped like firecrackers.

"What's happening to it now?" John asked.

Spinning, lighted rings inside the cylinder became visible as they gradually slowed down.

"I think the machine was malfunctioning from the crash." Maya began to explain. "When the two of you touched the control panel at the same time, you must have completed a circuit and were transported there and back instantaneously. That's making the rest of it overload and burn out."

They watched the machine come to a complete stop. Intense heat melted its knobs and light lenses as it enveloped in smoke.

"Is the computer still okay?" John asked as they backed away from the quantum accelerator.

"The computer seems to be functional yet." Kami answered. "We were just connecting the remote wave-link modem."

"Good." said John. "Let's get going before anything else can happen."

In the records lab, Kami had logged onto the ship's computer. John walked in.

"So have you found anything about us on its computer?" He asked.

"I found absolutely nothing about Moonbase Alpha from the Sagan." Kami answered.

"What do you mean, nothing?"

"Just that. Nothing. I've tried everything. I even entered my own name and birthdate. It gave all correct information about me except my assignment on Moonbase Alpha. It's as though the computer doesn't even recognize the moonbase's existence." Kami explained.

"Can you think of any reason why?" John asked.

"I'm really baffled right now." Kami answered as she pushed a lock of blond hair behind her ear. "Maybe the crash made it malfunction and lose some of it's memory. I'll have to comb through it's files to see if I can find some answers."

"Well, see what you can do." John ordered. "We should find out if it was sent here for a reason."

The cool water of the swimming pool soothed John's aching muscles. His strained limbs and sore joints remained as evidence of his trip to Earth three days before. Victor, equipped with water wings, paddled back and forth between John and Helena in the shallow end of the pool. He squealed in delight with each success.

"Ellerson to Commander Koenig." Kami summoned.

John climbed out of the pool and approached the screen. "Yes, Kami."

"I think I found something on the Sagan computer."

"Can you tell me what it is?" John asked.

"It will take a while to explain. Could you come to the records lab?"

"Sure. Can you give me about a half an hour?"

"Yes. I'll be waiting." Kami answered.

John and Alan each took a seat next to Kami at a computer screen in the records lab. Kami punched keys.

"I tried every search and every term I could think of on the Sagan Computer." Kami explained. "No matter what I tried, nothing came up on Moonbase Alpha. I entered individual Alphan's names, and it gave some correct information on them, but still with no mention of Alpha. I finally resorted to comparing the records on the Sagan's computer with the records on Alpha's. Somewhere between Alpha's records and the Sagan's records, history changed."

"History changed? How can that be?" Alan asked.

"I started with nineteen ninety-nine and went backward. The history records didn't match until I went back to nineteen sixty-three. Before that, the records between Alpha and the Sagan are the same. This seems to be the turning point. According to the Sagan's computer, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while in office."

"Kennedy?" said John. "He died in a plane crash with his son and daughter-in-law shortly before we left orbit."

"That's history as we know it." Kami explained. "In our history, Kennedy lived until nineteen ninety- nine. Even after he left office, he pushed for space exploration and settlement. He also made an impact on which presidents were later elected. The U.S. presidents that followed him were Lyndon B. Johnson, Edgar Bunkers, Reagan, then Carter, Jefferson O'Brian, Ted Kennedy, and Bush. Some did not have the same foreign policies as the U.S. presidents in the Sagan's history. The cold war remained intense and space programs had more importance. In the Sagan's history, the following U.S. presidents didn't have as much interest in space as Kennedy did. Foreign relations gradually improved, and the cold war came to an end in the eighties. There was no longer a 'space race' between countries. Space travel only went as far as some moon landings, shuttle flights, and a few unmanned explorations."

"What about World War Three?" asked John.

"There was a short lived war in the Persian Gulf, 'Operation Desert Storm', but nothing like the war we remember." Kami explained.

"What changed that made Kennedy get assassinated? I remember from history in college that conspirators hired a hit man to assassinate him." said John. "But they hired a guy named Hand or something who turned out to be an undercover agent who turned them in."

"But in the Sagan's history, the same people evidently hired Lee Harvey Oswald, and he followed through." added Kami.

"Oswald?" John and Alan both gasped and gave each other a piercing stare.

"Kami, see what you can find on Oswald." Alan requested.

"According to the Sagan, he was shot and killed shortly after Kennedy."

"And what does the Alpha computer say?" asked Alan.

Kami paused while punching keys. "Here it says he died in nineteen fifty-six."

"Does it say how he died?" asked John.

"He was in basic training in the United States Marines." Kami read from the screen. "He suffered a minor wound that became severely infected and he died from gangrene."

"That's it?" Alan asked. "He just had a scratch!"

"That's all it took to change history?" John added.

"What are you saying?" asked Kami.

"The quantum accelerator sent us to Earth in nineteen fifty-six. We were in the United States Marines." John explained. "We warned a soldier named Oswald about a scratch he had on his ankle."

"We had no idea we were saving his life." said Alan.

"Or changing history." John added.

"So, now, if history changed, why are we still here?" asked Alan.

"Well, since we left orbit, we went through some space warps." Kami explained. "That may have altered our time line, so we were unaffected. It may also explain why the Sagan's records changed, but Alpha's did not."

"And why did the Sagan crash here?" asked Alan.

"I can only guess that in our time line, it was sent for us. In its own time line now, it was sent to study deep space." Kami answered.

"So it must have crashed because it didn't calculate the moon being in its flight path." Alan surmised.

"But now, as far as Earth is concerned, Moonbase Alpha never existed and we're forgotten." John pointed out.

"But we are still here." Kami added. "We must exist in Earth's memory somehow. In some form or dimension. Maybe in someone's imagination; maybe in a novel..."

"Yeah. Somehow." said John. "Is there a reason why the rest of Alpha needs to know about this?"

"I guess I don't see a point." answered Kami.

"I think you're right." added Alan. "It wouldn't change anything for us."

Tony and Maya walked into the records lab with Antonia and Victor close behind. Tony carried a jug of brown liquid, Maya carried a tray of glasses.

"What's this?" John asked. "You know you're not supposed to have food or beverages in here."

"We waited for hours for you guys to get done in here." Tony answered. "We didn't want you to miss out on my best brew yet."

"Try some, Daddy." Victor spoke up. "It's really good!"

"Are you letting my son drink some of your poison?" John noted Tony's infamous beer-making hobby.

"Uncle John, it's root beer!" Antonia squeaked.

"It's the only good thing he's managed to come up with yet." said Maya.

"Well, if you say it's good," said Alan, "let's have some."

Tony poured a glass for each of them.

John raised his glass for a toast. "To everything that can be."

Copyright (c) 2001. Reprinted with permission.
Space:1999 is (c) 1976 by Carlton International Media.
All stories are the property of their respective authors.

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