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Journey back where

Authors: Pinkskin
Categories: Adventure
Episodes: Set after The Dorcons
Show Year: Y2
Rating: PG-13
Date: 2012

Story 1 in the "Journey back where" series +
1 - Journey back where
2 - Remaining back where
3 - Trouble back where
4 - A twist in time
Present day Scotland - archeologists are baffled by an artifact uncovered when excavating during building works for a new visitor center at Banockburn.…
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Bridge of Allan, Scotland, January 14th 1337

The menfolk crowded into the smokey ale house for the weekly telling of stories, the days were short in January in the Bridge of Allan, and Stewart of Islay, the wandering itinerant storyteller would be welcomed to take his fill of ale and roast wild pig, and in return be the center of attention among the drunken illiterate men, telling his tales against a backdrop of guttural backchat and the crashing of tankards on wood.

"Tonight I recant a strange and enchanted tale indeed", he downed a large swig of ale, "Of men who would live on the very moon itself, trapped within a great castle of rock, iron and glass, for to set foot outside for even an instant would engender a curse that would boil a man's flesh and blood from his bones and tear the very breath from his lungs".

He had their attention. Several men crossed themselves at the thought of such sorcery. The whole room had gone quiet; dogs could be heard howling in the distance, giving the storytellers words a heavy, almost magical feel.

"The Lord of this Castle was a strong man of middle years named Koenig, who ruled over his large household with a fair hand, with his Woman at his side, a great healer of incredible power, able to cheat death and cure maladys that even the fair folk could not guess at."

He paused for effect, spat noisily into the fire, and beckoned for a serving wench to refill his tankard.

"Koenig's first Knight and right hand man was a warrior, a swarthy man, from the faraway lands of southern Europe, of quick wit and fiery temper, himself betrothed to a red haired Sorceress, who it was said was banished from her homeland beyond the stars by her evil father".

"It came to pass that Koenig and his followers, of who there were three times one hundred, had grown restless trapped in their great castle on the moon, as for all their great magic and power they could not begat children, or feel the sunshine and wind on their skin, and were destined to die old and barren, so one day Koenig made a pact with Lucifer himself, but in return for living out their lives as men in our lands they must give up everything, all their trappings of magic and power, to live as plebs among us"

Just then a log crackled in the fire, startling a man lost in thought, who had fashioned himself an odd rather out of place wide brimmed hat from badly tanned pigskin. Dave Reilly looked up and made momentary eye contact with the storyteller. He wondered how the story had got out....

Chapter 1

Mansell Construction site, Bannockburn, Scotland July 2012

Steve "Digger" Mansell arrived late for work. The site Forman, McCormick, a craggy weather beaten man in his fifties motioned for him to visit the site office. This was the second time this week Mansell had been late and by over an hour this time.

Mansell was the lead JCB driver and his passion for diggers had made him the most skilled with the machines in the company, but his tardiness was impacting the schedule. Public works like the Visitor Center had a high profile, and being the son of the construction firms MD didn't cut any ice with McCormick. "You are late again today laddie" McCormick said, in his heavy Scottish drawl "what have you got to say for yourself? Out on the piss again last night were we?"

Steve Mansell shuffled his feet a little. He could ill afford word of this reaching his father, he knew he was close to a breakdown in his relationship with his father anyway, who thought his job as a digger driver (that he had arranged to keep him out of any more trouble with the law) was beneath him.

"One more chance Steve" McCormick said, "next time it happens I will talk with your father myself. Now get in your digger and start work".

Steve Mansell shuffled out the door with a half-hearted "it won't happen again". He walked the short distance to where the earth moving machinery was parked. He took his place in the driving seat of the big seven ton excavator and keyed the ignition; the noise and vibration of the large diesel engine making him feel a little better.

He drove the machine to the area where he had been working for the last few days, digging the trenches for the extensive foundations to be poured, and swung the bucket into position to continue the job. He felt the usual satisfaction as the steel bucket bit into the earth.

After around forty minutes of digging, the truck into which he was putting the spoil was full, and Mansell paused his digging. That was when he saw it, something catching the light at the bottom of the freshly dug trench. He put the bucket into a safe position and stopped the digger's engine immediately. He didn't need any more trouble, this was a site of special archeological interest, indeed he had endured half a days "training" on the importance of any artifact that may be uncovered by the building works, before anyone was allowed to dig so much as a spoonful.

And now there was an artifact of some sort. He swore under his breath, if there was archeology here the site would be shut down whilst it was investigated, perhaps for months and he would be laid off, and if that happened he would not be paid. If he knowingly ignored it he would lose his job, son of the MD or not, as the firm could not risk the bad publicity.

He got out of the cab and took the keys with him, as protocol dictated, and made his way to the site office to report the find. Five minutes later he was standing on the edge of the trench he had just dug, with McCormick and John Spears, the onsite archeological consultant from the University of Glasgow.

The three men stared into the trench, at the object catching the morning sun below. It appeared to resemble a spider or crab and was an iridescent bluish metallic color. "Can somebody get me a ladder" said Spears, "I want to get a closer look". McCormick walked the short distance to the equipment compound and returned a few minutes later with an aluminum ladder. Spears descended the ladder to the floor of the trench, his smart city boy shoes squelching in the mud, and crouched down in front of the object. He picked a biro from his shirt pocket and used it to gently remove some of the mud clinging to it, and he noted the remains of a leather thong clinging to an eyelet.

"I think it's a pendant of some kind" said Spears, more to himself than the other two men, "but it's not like anything I have ever seen, the workmanship is exquisite and it seems to be almost perfectly preserved, I'll need to get my camera to record its position, then we'll excavate it, and get a team in to pick through the trench for any other finds. I want all digging work stopped until further notice" He made his way back up the ladder, shaking with nervous excitement at the possibility of leading his first major archeological dig.

"Ok, you heard the man" said McCormick, "work is suspended for the time being". McCormick was not a happy man; there were a multitude of calls to make, from cancelling the concrete mixers, to telling HQ. He was really not looking forward to that, then there was the media, they were sure to show up, he hated dealing with reporters. He turned to Mansell "I'll make sure all the lads are paid to the end of the week, hopefully they won't find anything else and we will be back in business in a few days".

By lunchtime the next day the trench was swarming with fresh faced university students, a grid of squares was set out with red string in the area of the find, and a number of them were picking at the earth with trowels. But they found nothing; there was just the pendant with its decayed leather thong. After a two fruitless days the students left and the work on the Visitor Centre started again.

Spears had the pendant sent back to his colleagues in the University, to clean it up, and see what they could make of it. He resolved to visit them Friday afternoon, for an update.

"Good afternoon John" said Caroline Sterling, the university's head of archeology "I guess you want to know about the artifact you found" John Spears didn't want to give the impression he was too keen and made out he was in Glasgow anyway, and thought he would just pop in. "I would be interested though, I have to admit" he said.

Caroline twirled a biro over and over in her fingers "would you shut the door please John" she said. John Spears did as she asked, and wondered what the big deal was. "We had the leather thong carbon dated, and it does indeed come from circa 1300 - 1350, and that would figure, given its location. However, the pendant itself is another matter". Caroline lowered her voice conspiratorially "Fact is we don't know what it's made of. Even the jewels are unknown. As is the inscription around the circumference on the back. We are at a complete loss" Spears had noticed the strange inscription, but had decided at the time it would make more sense to check it out when it was cleaned up properly.

"Do you have a photo of the inscription?" he asked. "I'll email you one" Caroline replied, she knew John Spears had a bit of a reputation for being an ancient language buff, if anyone could shed light on it he would be him. "And one more thing" Caroline added "I think we should keep a low profile about it, or we may find the authorities poking their noses in - Metallurgy actually wanted to send it to NASA"

Something about the way Caroline looked at him when she said that turned the hairs on the back of John Spears neck into lethal weapons.

Chapter 2

"Moonbase Alpha status report, Doctor Helena Russell recording, 3494 days after leaving earth orbit. We have sustained massive damage from a space warp larger than anything we have encountered before, and structural failures have resulted in outgassing and critical damage to life support and protein production facilities, with the death of 18 people, and serious injury to another 6.

A command staff conference has been called to work the problems, and to try to keep Alpha alive. The conference is being telecast to all sections, all Alphans are invited to participate if they feel they have anything useful to offer".

John Koenig had been awake over 36 hours, and was running on adrenaline when he entered the briefing room. Security head Tony Verdeschi, Science officer Maya, Chief pilot Alan Carter, Doctor Helena Russell and Chief Architect Alexander Karedepoulos were already there, all showing various forms of exhaustion. Telecasting the meeting to all sections Alpha had been a risk, given the possible effect on morale, but he wasn't the kind of leader to keep his people in the dark about the seriousness of the situation.

"Ok Helena, let's start with life support, what have we got?" said Koenig. "The situation is critical John" Helena intoned softly "the carbon dioxide scrubbers were exposed to vacuum, and the extreme wind damaged sixty percent of the diffusion surface. We don't have any replacements, or the raw materials to manufacture more. They were intended to run trouble free for decades, so it just wasn't thought of as a priority to carry spares."

"So what's the prognosis Doctor?" the fatigue showed in Koenig's voice "We think we can cannibalize the life support from some of the Eagles, that will buy us maybe three months tops, before carbon dioxide poisoning begins to become an issue, of course then we would not have the capacity to carry out Operation Exodus, even if we had a planet to go to"

"And the protein production plant?" Koenig asked

"We were on the way to manufacturing a backup after a serious issue a few years ago, but it is still many months away from operation, and although we may be able to patch up the primary plant, even that is likely to take longer than we have. There is enough protein in storage for six weeks or so, maybe twice that with rationing."

Koenig turned to Karedepoulos "And the structural failures?" "The stresses imposed on the structure of Alpha this time were far worse than anything else we have encountered to date, Alpha was being pulled apart, to be honest I am surprised she held up as well as she did. Again we don't have the resources or the spare parts to do much more than patch up the worst. Some areas are going to have to remain depressurized for the time being"

Koenig turned to Maya "Any options? Do we know how far we have travelled?" "We have travelled a tremendous distance Commander, so far that the stars are unrecognizable, and it has not been possible to plot our path at all. The closest solar system is now six months away" the pretty Psychon looked despondent and was fighting back tears.

So our luck has finally run out, thought Koenig, it didn't look like a solution was about to present itself any time soon, perhaps not ever this time, and running themselves into the ground wasn't helping. "Ok everyone let's get some sleep, we will convene again in twenty four hours".

In the Commander's quarters Koenig stared at the ceiling and tried to sleep, but all he could think of was the fate that would appear to await his people, a slow death of Alpha that was now beginning to seem inevitable. "Penny for them" Helena said in the darkness next to him "You should be asleep" he muttered "So should you" replied Helena. "I have let everybody down" he said softly "I think this might really be the beginning of the end" "I can't believe that" Helena replied "You always turn things around John, always find a chance for life against the odds, we have survived so long now, it's just one more challenge" 'yeah right' Koenig thought. It was another hour before a black dreamless sleep claimed him.

The next day most of the mess had been cleaned up in Command Center and the big screen was working again, though problems with the communications network were limiting what could be displayed. Sahn was busily directing several technicians making repairs to Alpha's external structure, her voice quiet; Maya sat at her station studying the specification of the carbon dioxide scrubbers aboard the Eagles, offering input to the team of Eagle techs headed by Alan Carter, tasked with the job of adapting them somehow to Alpha's life support system, though in effect there was little else she could do, as most of Alpha's external sensors were still offline.

Koenig paced up and down the room, his hands clasped behind his back, his expression grim. This afternoon was scheduled for a memorial service for the 18 people who had died and he felt it his duty to eulogize about each individual separately.

The Command staff meeting later in the evening offered no further answers, repairs to the structure of the base were proceeding, and it was looking like the Helena's plan to supplement life support with the air scrubbers from the Eagles was going to work.

That was it then! Three months to live, unless they could pull something out of the bag. It didn't seem very likely.

Tony Verdeschi sat in the quarters he shared with Maya feeling totally miserable. It all seemed so unfair, to have found his soul mate, only to have a death sentence passed over them. It would not even be quick; they would have time to think about it before the food ran out and the air went bad. This would not do at all, he thought to himself - to waste the precious time left wallowing in self-pity.

He looked over to the bedside table, where there was a photo of Maya and himself smiling, and one of himself and his brother Guido, in their student days. His attention was drawn to the large poster he had pasted on the wall of his digs, popular at the time, showing a caricature of a mouse, making a rude gesture at the bird of prey just about to have him for dinner.

For some reason that made him snap out of the depression he was sinking into, and he reached for his comlock and sent a personal message to Maya, asking if she minded them having guests 'round for the evening.

Several hours later, Tony, Maya, Alan and Sahn were eating what passed as Alphan Chicken with pasta (the rationing was to start the next day) recanting stories of the adventures they had shared, and were downing large quantities of Tony's latest brew (even Maya was decidedly tipsy and she hated the stuff), when Alan came out with how he John and Helena almost became crispy critters when they narrowly avoided being burned at the stake, after being inadvertently sent to medieval Scotland on Earth.

Tony suddenly noticed Maya's expression change, like it sometimes did when she had an idea about something. "Maya, what's wrong?" Tony said, his words very slightly slurred "what if we try communicating with Earth again?" Maya replied.

"But wasn't there something about a galactic eclipse preventing such a communication path for the next hundred years or so, not to mention the tachyon technology that was all on Doc Logan's end" Tony replied, wondering if Maya had actually drunk rather more than he thought.

"Tony, we have just been flung across the galaxy by the most powerful space phenomenon we have yet encountered, it is possible the galactic eclipse Doctor Logan spoke of will not be a problem where we are now. The information sent to us by Logan and his team should enable us to recreate the tachyon technology" and she paused for effect "if we have time".

The other three Alphans were quiet for some time. Tony thought about the poster of the mouse facing up to the bird of prey despite the odds, it seemed apt somehow. "Well, what do you know, damn the torpedoes and all that, one last roll of the dice" he said rather too drunkenly.

"Tony, I'm serious, I don't know what a torpedo is, but if there's a chance for life we should take it, no matter what" Maya replied. "I agree" said Tony "But can we talk about it first thing in the morning?"

"It's getting late", Alan said to nobody in particular "We had better be going" and he and Sahn politely excused themselves.

"I'm about done in as well" said Tony on his way to the bathroom after they had left. "Goodnight sweetheart". Five minutes later he was in bed and snoring quietly. Maya found she was rather tired too, in an oddly contented kind of way, soon she was snuggling against Tony and snoring too.

It was unusual for Maya to call a command conference, however the senior staff were all keen to see what she had come up with, Tony and Alan knew of course, and Helena had an inkling as Maya had called in at Medical Centre earlier for something for a headache (she had dispensed a couple of paracetamol; although always wary of the effects of earth medicines on Maya, she had found these were fairly effective on her alien physiology) and she had briefly mentioned her plan.

Maya outlined her idea, and Koenig gave her the green light to use whatever personnel and resources were required, provided this did not worsen Alpha's already critical condition.

Five weeks later morale was as bad among the Alphans as it had been just after Breakaway, everybody was losing weight due to the food rationing and although medical were issuing vitamin supplements to everybody until they ran out, lassitude was rife around the base.

Maya and her team were close to completing the tachyon device, though they were forced to improvise for components and materials they did not have, and even employed Psychon knowhow to get around a particular problem. Eventually the device was completed, and tied in to the communications network, and the Transference Dome, also originally built from Logan's instructions was brought out of storage and set up. "Just in case we are successful" one of the technicians had quipped.

After the first few hours of Sahn calling Earth from the communications station in Command Center the brief spark of hope was extinguished. However Koenig ordered that the call would continue to be sent, twenty four hours a day, until there was nobody left to send it.

And then it came. After another month of continuous calling, a frail elderly voice from Texas City, Earth, acknowledging their call. Unfortunately it was not Doctor Charles Logan, it was his son, and he was very old. The population of Earth, in their great domed city's had turned ever inwards, in the hundred years that had passed on Earth since the last communication with Alpha, the overwhelming majority of citizens of Earth lived out their lives vicariously, their brains wired to computers that simulated anything they could imagine, whilst machines kept their bodies alive. Koenig had seen it going that way after his conversation with Logan the first time around, though he didn't expect it to have ended like this.

Brandon Logan, as it turned out was one of the few that had shunned that artificial life to some extent and still disconnected himself from the system to enjoy the real world, such as it was, though less so in his advancing years. He occasionally checked the computer logs in the outside world and had seen the record of the signal from Alpha. He had heard the stories about Moonbase Alpha from his Father in his youth, of course, but had not expected to ever speak to them.

"Good morning Moonbase Alpha", Logan began. A cheer went around the Command Center staff, Tony walked over to Maya and kissed her in front of everyone, causing several wolf whistles, the first light hearted moment in Command Center since the whole crisis began.

"What can I do for you" Logan continued, though he was hardly heard over the noise.

When things had calmed down a little, Koenig replied "We would like you to finish your fathers experiment, and send us back to earth" he explained their predicament to Logan.

"Commander" Logan replied sadly, "Unfortunately, as I assume you are aware, my father's experiment was a failure, if I recall the details correctly he very nearly killed three of you, and our society has collapsed in on itself since, and no longer has the capability to diagnose what went wrong, so I am afraid I can be of no help to you"

His father's laboratory had been kept as it was after his death however, as there was hardly anyone with the interest or knowhow to operate the equipment anymore anyway, and no interest at all in disassembling and packing up the experiments that had been carried out there.

Koenig however had a radical idea. It was a long shot, and it would literally cost all of them everything they had. He had to speak to Brandon Logan privately first, to confirm his thoughts. He had Sahn patch the link into his office, and shut the door.

"So do you think it is a possibility" said Koenig. "I honestly do not know" Logan replied. "The equipment will probably still work. If it works it will probably send you back to exactly where it sent you before. But there is a catch" Logan paused for a coughing fit "it's the timeline, as you are no doubt aware. You cannot do anything that changes history, or our timeline, or all of us will cease to exist. You cannot have children; you must have as little contact as possible with the locals and you cannot, I repeat cannot take any technology back with you"

So that's the deal, thought Koenig. Frying pan or fire came to mind. It theoretically might, just might and it's a long shot, send them back to medieval Scotland. If it did, they could take no technology of any kind, not even refined metals with them, they could have no children and virtually no contact with the locals. But they would live. Not only that but they would have sunshine, rain and the wind in their faces. That's what Koenig did, it was in his blood. He and his people turned impossible situations around. There would be a command conference, and then he would put it to the rest of the Alphans.

The command staff again got together in the briefing room, faces solemn, when Koenig made his announcement; "Trusted friends, I have something profound to say, something that will, if we decide to do it, and I intend to put the decision before all of Alpha, be utterly life changing for each and every one of us, should we even survive the attempt, and that is far from certain" he began.

"As you know, I spoke to Brandon Logan privately, at some length. There is a chance, albeit a slim one, for us all to survive. The equipment remains intact that was used for his father's experiments. Using stored records, Brandon believes he can operate it, but there's a catch. Firstly we will not be able to tell if any of us arrives safely, or vanishes into oblivion. Secondly if it does work, we will all have to get used to living out the rest of our lives in medieval Scotland"

Helena Russell was the first to break the stunned silence that followed Koenig's words "but there was a way to check if we survived, before sending everyone potentially blindly to their deaths, the original Doctor Logan sent instructions for building a device that sent biometric information back, so the first travelers condition could be monitored. And we could send a probe first, like we did before".

"Unfortunately that is impossible" Said Koenig "Brandon Logan cannot bring anyone or anything back, should the process work. Last time that took his father's entire team of elite scientists many hours. Brandon has no idea how it was done, it seems the details were not recorded, and we can take no technology back with us whatsoever, not even a hairpin" he looked at Maya "unless it is made of the basic badly refined metals of the time, furthermore we cannot have children, ever, and contact with the locals must be kept to a minimum"

"Because of the timeline" said Maya "We could end up unpicking the timeline, and all cease to exist, well except for me, I would simply die on Psychon, because you wouldn't be there to rescue me Commander"

Tony Verdeschi's face turned ashen, he was highly protective of Maya and the very thought of her death, particularly by the hand of her father sickened him.

"That's a hell of a choice" Alan Carter added.

"We also need to consider the medical side John" said Helena "Last time it nearly killed me, living in the sterile world of Alpha has reduced our immunity"

There was much to discuss and the meeting dragged on. It soon became apparent the Commander was driving this course of action, and the others were somewhat less enthusiastic with the idea, particularly Helena and Maya, and things were becoming somewhat tense.

Eventually Koenig thumped the table - hard, and raised his voice;

"Do you know the symptoms of carbon dioxide poisoning?" Helena replied, her voice calm and steady "Carbon dioxide poisoning or hypercapnea initially causes headache, confusion and lethargy, as the level of carbon dioxide in the blood rises further, you can expect panic, hyperventilation, convulsions, unconsciousness, and eventually death!"

The room fell silent. The Commander had made his point; it was a choice between certain death by remaining on Alpha, or an uncertain possibility of a very hard life on old Earth.

"Are we all agreed we need to put this to a vote of Alphan personnel? We all go, or we all stay and die" said Koenig. Alan added "I'm with you Commander" as did Tony. A very emotional Maya said "where Tony goes I go" Helena added "John, I think we are trading a drawn out awful death for an even longer drawn out death of hardship and disease, but as Maya put it "where John goes I go"

The next day, John Koenig announced the plan to all sections Alpha; and a ballot was arranged, every Alphan was issued with a ballot paper, each ballot paper had two boxes, stay or go.

The ballot box was placed in the recreation room, and was left for a day.

Two Alphans were randomly assigned the duty of counting the ballot papers, with Tony Verdeschi and two of his security guards standing watch over them. The count didn't take very long. There were a number of abstentions, Alphans that refused to vote and make the choice. So be it thought Koenig, as he reviewed the results: Stay 112 Go 139. The results were announced to the base almost immediately.

A list of permitted clothing and articles that could be taken was drawn up. It added up to not a lot, Security and the Command staff would enforce it with draconian authority, they had to.

The remains of the protein stores were to be divided up as rations, wrapped in non-synthetic cloth, and issued to each Alphan.

Koenig issued an all sections bulletin to inform everyone that the departure would take place in two days, to allow appropriate clothing to be devised, and for the Alphans to prepare themselves.

Most of the uniforms were deemed unacceptable due to the use of artificial fabrics, so civilian clothing would be worn where possible, everyone was encouraged to share any suitable clothing they did not require, and a team set to work making very basic garments from the cotton bath towels that were commonplace on Alpha, for those who did not possess or were otherwise unable to find clothing deemed acceptable.

The last evening for Tony and Maya was spent in their quarters, during the buildup to what was already being referred to as Operation Exodus, Maya had become increasingly quiet and solemn. She was on the couch, clutching her Psychon dress, crying uncontrollably "Tony, what will become of us?" she hiccupped "We will be ok, we will be alive, that's what matters" said Tony.

Tony had indeed voiced concerns over how Maya would cope to John and Helena, after all her people had been capable of space travel for hundreds of years, and the complete loss of technology even Alphan technology, relatively primitive to her, was going to hit hard as was the drastic decline in living conditions.

"Tony" she hiccupped again, her racking sobs shaking her thoroughly "Please can I have a beer, a large one" Tony couldn't believe his ears "Well, how about that" Tony exclaimed "If you only knew how long I have been waiting for you to say that!" He went to the small kitchenette area and produced two pint glasses from the back of one of the cupboards "Pat Osgood gave me these, but under the strict instructions that they were only to be used when my beer was good enough - I guess they should get used at least once".

He poured two large glasses of beer from what was originally a large coffee urn, which he had placed in the refrigerator the night before, and placed one on the table in front of Maya "bottoms up" he exclaimed, and drank a large gulp. "Bottoms up what?" said Maya, her sobbing subsiding a little. "It's a term used on Earth, when consuming alcoholic beverages, it refers to the bottom of the glass being raised when drinking I believe"

Maya exclaimed "Bottoms up then" drank from the glass and continued drinking, until she had drunk half a pint, straight, then gasping for air, she turned and sobbed some more.

"Hey baby, take it easy" said Ton. At over eight percent alcohol by volume, bad though it was, nobody could accuse Tony's beer as being weak. Within 15 minutes she had consumed the other half pint. Tony downed the rest of his pint as well, not wanting to be outdone.

After the second pint she had stopped crying, had put her dress away, and had selected the video Titanic under the guise that "Watching what happened to those poor people might make tomorrow not seem quite so bad" by the end of the movie, she had not quite finished her fourth pint and fell asleep sideways on the sofa with a whump.

Somewhat tipsy himself Tony carried her into the bedroom and laid her carefully on the bed. Then he sat down and drank another four pints, warm beer this time, as the cold stuff was long gone. Into his eighth pint and quite frankly out of his tree, he staggered over to the closet, went to Maya's dress, and detached the pendant from it with some difficulty, falling forwards into the closet at least once. He put the pendant in the woolen suit jackets inside pocket that he was due to wear tomorrow, staggered over to the sofa and passed out.

Incredibly Tony was the first to wake, with a mouth like the bottom of a birdcage, a headache the size of a planet and a desperate need for the bathroom.

He put his uniform on for now and made for Medical Center - he couldn't function with a hangover like this. Helena Russell looked very out of place in a long grey woolen dress, particularly with an Alphan standard belt with comlock in place. "Hangover?" she said.

"Can I have something stronger than usual, Doc?" Helena went to the dispensary and came back with three co-codamol tablets. "That's fifty percent above the recommended dose Tony, but I think you need it" Tony took the tablets and the proffered glass of water and knocked them back. "Can I have something for Maya too please?." Helena produced two paracetamol tablets "I don't know what co-codamol will do to her Tony" she said. "Thanks" he replied and headed back to his quarters.

Maya was still sleeping, snoring loudly in a most un-ladylike way when he returned. He poured a glass of water, and put it on the bedside table with the two tablets. He stroked the side of her head, she grunted and her eyes flickered open. It seemed to take a few seconds before reality hit. "Morning" Tony said cheerfully (though he still felt awful) "welcome to your second hangover".

Maya sat up too quickly and was nearly sick. "I feel awful Tony" she exclaimed. Tony gave her the glass of water and the tablets. "Get these down and you should start feeling better, we have a big day ahead of us".

Less than an hour later they were ready, Maya in white cotton trousers, a donated white cotton tee shirt and sheepskin jacket. Tony in denim trousers with the zip and buttons removed, and replaced with waxed string used for making cable looms, his cotton dress shirt, and woolen jacket. Maya deliberately didn't look at her Psychon dress, so didn't notice pendant had been removed. Tony didn't remember removing it in a drunken stupor the night before either.

Both of them were starting to feel better when they entered Command Centre, to be confronted with what looked like a worst dressed Alphan contest. Sahn was talking to Brandon Logan, who was ready whenever the Alphans were. After the previous experiences with the unfriendly Scots, the first people to be sent were to be the fittest security personnel, and anyone else with experience of physical combat.

A line of rag tag Alphans were starting to form outside techlab 5, where the Transference Dome had been set up. Two Security personnel were already stationed inside.

Maya printed the departure order schedule; each Alphan had been contacted separately. As each transfer took around five minutes, there would be a large number of such transfers. Also Logan could not be expected to work continuously given his age, so with breaks built in this was going to take well into the evening.

Within half an hour the first transfer was ready. This would be the acid test, nobody was sure the equipment on earth was still going to be working after all this time. Maya initiated the Transference device, and the first three security personnel stepped into the device, Maya did not know any of them that well, but could certainly detect the tension and fear on their faces.

Logan began a countdown, and after a minute or so there was a very bright light and the three men were gone. In less than five minutes Logan reported that he was ready for the next.

No problems were reported, however it was not known what happened to the people. They could be annihilated, or they could be at the expected destination, or just reappear in deep space to face instant death. Helena and Maya were just about holding it together as the personnel dwindled to just the command staff. Eventually just John, Helena, Tony and Maya were left. John would be the last to leave, "His duty as commander" he said. The other three stepped in, and the process started for the penultimate time.

Tony and Maya found themselves sprawled out in thick undergrowth, freezing cold. The strong arms of Alan Carter pulled them to their feet. "The cold effect wears off after a few minutes" he said. Tony looked around, several fires had been lit, and Alphans were busily gathering firewood. They had got lucky, it was early summer, the year thirteen thirty, they were eventually to find out. So far they had not encountered any of the locals, but security had fashioned themselves spears, and had set up patrols of their perimeter already. The plan was to make for an area around two miles from Bridge of Allan, which the history records stored on main computer suggested was uninhabited at this point in time. They would build their homes and live out their lives there.

Chapter 3

Alpha Village, Scotland, August 1st 1335

After five years the Alphans had settled into their self-imposed subsistence level exile. They had built basic wooden dwellings, with thatched roofs, and simple log construction. There was a tavern, which purveyed strong ale brewed by Tony Verdeschi, a Blacksmith, a Tannery, Grain store and many other albeit basic facilities.

They were not troubled by the locals, the appearance of a number of monstrous creatures at certain opportune moments that most certainly didn't belong in Scotland, or indeed on Earth for that matter had seen to that.

But today was special, Tony and Maya were getting married. John Koenig was officiating, and just about everyone was on the guest list. Tony had managed a smart woolen suit, and the women had got together and managed to make a very passable wedding dress for Maya from donated cotton clothing.

But there was to be a surprise, it was time it was out in the open anyway. Tony had been mortified when he found the pendant from Maya's Psychon dress in his jacket pocket, and he had initially hidden it. Eventually he had confided in Sahn, and she surmised that as they didn't appear to have corrupted the timeline by bringing it back, it had to be ok.

So Tony had visited the Tannery, where Dave Reilly had fashioned a leather thong, so Maya could hang it around her neck. He would give it to her instead of a wedding ring, and he hoped that she would be pleased. He knew John would have words with him about it, but it would seem they had gotten away with it.

It was a beautiful summer's day and Tony waited nervously for the bride to arrive. Everyone had dressed for the occasion, to the best of their ability anyway, and John Koenig stood at the dais that had been constructed for major events within the community. Maya appeared after a few minutes with Helena and Sahn as bridesmaids, and she looked radiant.

The ceremony reached its conclusion, John mentioned if they had rings or anything similar to exchange, now was the time. Maya produced an intricately carved bronze ring, and Tony chose his moment; "Maya, I don't have a ring to give you, but I do have something else" and he motioned for Sahn to come forward with something concealed within a cloth drawstring bag. "I imagine you never expected to see this again, but that last night on Alpha when we both got drunk, and I drank even more after you passed out and I did something stupid"

Sahn passed the bag to him, and he opened the drawstring, reached inside, and withdrew the pendant, on its leather thong its pale blue iridescence shining in the sunlight, and passed it to Maya. For the first time he could remember, Tony had managed to render Maya speechless. Eventually she managed to come out with "Tony, that's incredible", with tears pouring down her cheeks, as she hung the pendant around her neck.

The crowd erupted in a spontaneous cheer.


University of Glasgow Scotland August 2012

John Spears studied the photograph on his computer screen. The inscription meant nothing to him at all. That was unusual in itself, he prided himself on being able to recognize almost all forms of ancient script, it was just a talent he had. But not this one, the scrolls and symbols were beautiful, yet meaningless. Could it be a very elaborate prank of some kind? He didn't think so. Perhaps the Archeologists could be fooled, but not the hard science of the metallurgists.

There was something odd about this pendant, and he was going to get to the bottom of it. Perhaps he would post the pictures he had on one of the well-known Archeologists forums on the internet. Yes, he would do that first thing in the morning.

A few weeks passed, and he had absolutely no replies to his posting of the pendant, in fact he had forgotten to check it recently, so he thought he would check one more time, just for luck, as his Mother had always said to him as a kid. He went online, and scrolled through to his posting. He had a reply! What was more, it actually scared him a little. It came from a young woman, and she had an avatar, and the avatar was in the same script as the pendant, but he was sure it was different words. He checked it against the photograph, it was.

She wanted to meet him! What would his wife think? Meeting strange young women from the Internet? He was a respected academic! He almost deleted his post on the spot. Then he thought it couldn't hurt, he would meet her in a busy pub, he wasn't doing anything wrong, he just felt a bit freaked out by the whole thing.

He replied, and suggested one of the nearby pubs, popular with the students. After all it was her that wanted to meet him. Ok five thirty, after work tomorrow. He would be wearing his Donald Duck tie.

He sat in the pub, nursing a pint of diet coke. He actually wished it was something stronger, but he had to drive home this evening. After about ten minutes a girl in her late twenties appeared wearing far too much makeup, and walked up to him. "John Spears?" she said. "Yes" he replied, "and you are?" "You can call me Jane" she replied "Ok Jane, nice to meet you, can I get you a drink?"

"No thank you, this won't take long" she replied, then added "do you have it?" "Have what?" he replied "The pendant, do you have it?" John wondered what was going on. The girl seemed very earnest and genuine, despite her appearance. "No, actually I don't. It's not in my possession anymore, and it's locked away for safe keeping."

Jane looked devastated. "I was hoping you had it. I want it back, it's very important indeed that I have it, more important than you can possibly imagine" She replied.

This is all getting very heavy, very quickly, John thought. "What's the big deal? It's only an old archeological relic" he asked. "If that's all you and your colleagues thought it was, we wouldn't be having this conversation. It would be on a shelf in some museum. By rights I shouldn't even exist, let alone be here talking to you, the timeline has already been changed" Oh shit, thought Jane, she had been so stressed that it had slipped out. John was all ears "what?"

"This place is too public" she replied. "Take a walk with me and I'll tell you a story. I would say don't repeat it to anyone, but I don't think that matters now. Nobody would believe you anyway, you won't have a shred of evidence, and everyone will think of the sad old professor who lost the plot. I want you to get the pendant for me, when you have heard the story, you will know why. For your reward for this, I will read the inscription to you in English "

John Spears didn't know what to think. Was she mad? High on drugs? Something in his gut told him that was not it. There was something compelling about her, something she believed in so passionately, more than life itself. He could see it in her eyes.

"Ok" he found himself saying, "let's take a walk"

They walked the busy streets of Glasgow's university district for half an hour, before she said anything. "The pendant was a wedding present for my distantly related grandmother some six hundred and seventy five years ago" she began. "So it is an archeological relic" John butted in. "Well, sort of I suppose, but that's not important. It's where it came from, and the technology within it that matters. Unfortunately over the millennia some of the details of the story have been lost. It's only in recent times I have been able to put the pieces together and make sense of it, and just in time, I hope" she went on. "Technology?" John interrupted again, incredulously.

"You see, my distant relative all those years ago was born on another planet, and that's where the pendant came from." John had a feeling outer space was going to come into this at some point, he didn't know why he didn't tell her to get the hell out of his face, but there was something so compelling about her, and there was the mysterious pendant, that he saw in his mind's eye as she spoke. "It has to do with changing history. I fear it has already been changed; the stories were passed down the female ancestry with an almost religious fervor, about making sure the secrets within the pendant were not discovered. You see she did not just come from another planet, she, and many other humans with her came from the future."

John could barely keep up with this ridiculous story. She went on "It would seem something they did has caused the timeline to diverge, in the early nineteen seventies I think. Kind of like The Butterfly Effect. Change something small in the past and usually it makes no difference, kind of like dropping a stone into a pond, the ripples spread out, dispersing as they go. But just occasionally something tiny matters. Like the well-known science fiction story, go back in time to study dinosaurs, get back and the world is fucked up. Then you notice the squished prehistoric butterfly on your boot."

"Well, there's been a big change, but it seems the universe has accommodated it. She looked up into the sky, the moon was just visible, and sunset was not for an hour or two this time of year.

The moon should not be there."

"What" John said?

"I have to admit to reading between the lines a little" said Jane "The space race did not stop in the way we know it, and there was even a third world war. There was a base of some sort built on the moon, and this is where the guesswork really starts, something happened on September the thirteenth nineteen ninety nine that flung the moon into space. Somehow the inhabitants ended back in our past. I don't know how. There was an extra-terrestrial with them. She had the pendant, and was my ancestor. I know there is a lot missing from this story, but six hundred and seventy five years is a long time. And nothing was written down; they couldn't risk it being discovered in the future and changing history"

John felt like he needed a drink. "Don't tell me, the pendant was lost, and for all these years you guys have been looking out for when it turned up, so you could recover it" he said.

"Exactly" she replied "You are very perceptive"

"So let's say I buy your crazy story, and I'm not saying I do, how do you know we are not in an entirely different timeline that has branched off in nineteen seventy whatever, and we will just keep going regardless, and the other timeline has ceased already?"

"It cannot work like that; you see I would not be here, because my ancestor would have not been able to go back to the past" Jane replied.

John considered. It was making his head hurt, but the logic trappings were intriguing. He thought he would try a punt; "Did you know the metallurgists at the University of Glasgow wanted to send the pendant to NASA for investigation" he said.

Jane's face turned ashen. He thought she was going to be sick. "That hasn't happened has it" she said, shocked to the core.

"No, as it turned out the university's head of archeology thought it would bring too much attention from the authorities that she didn't need" he said.

"I believe my ancestor thought the technology in the pendant would advance mankind to such an extent this timeline would be wiped out. My personal belief is that it would seem that the universe can adapt to a few hundred people at best, and even an alien going back in time, but for such a profound leap forward to affect the billions of people on earth would be an apocalypse." Jane finished up.

They arrived back at the pub where they started. Jane handed him a business card with her address and telephone number. He noted she was an electronics and software engineer. "Please consider what I have told you, and please bring me the pendant back to me as soon as you can."

John stopped on his way home at the local supermarket, and bought himself a bottle of bourbon. He didn't usually drink spirits, but felt he would need it to get to sleep this evening.

The next day at work he waited until Caroline Sterling had gone home, and walked into her office. He took the pendant from her desk drawer. It wasn't even locked.

He waited a couple of days before getting the courage to ring Jane. So far the pendant hadn't been missed. He arranged an extended lunch hour to meet her at her well to do Glasgow flat, he arrived at twelve thirty, and buzzed the intercom system, She let him in. He noticed she did not have the excessive makeup slapped over her face. He also noticed strange markings on her cheekbones.

She caught him staring. "Recessive gene, comes out every so often in the female line, we think. Apparently I had funny bumpy eyebrows as well. My father paid a fortune to a no questions asked plastic surgeon in Stockholm to have them corrected when I was two." She said. "Coffee?"

John apologized for staring "That's why the excessive makeup then. Yes please, white, no sugar. I guess you wouldn't want to take part in Who do you think you are "

"Indeed" she replied. "So you believe me. Do you have it?" he took the pendant from his jacket pocket and handed it to her. She placed it on the table and busied herself making the coffee.

He looked around - she had a very nice flat, with a large picture window looking over the city.

They sat down together, and she examined the pendant. They had done a nice job of cleaning it up. "You said you would tell me what the inscription says. I have been trying to decipher it for weeks. I guess I never would have succeeded. It's alien, isn't it?" John said softly, taking a sip of his coffee.

"Yes, Psychon, - the inscription reads; Manufactured 6609 Eetria, Triska Hills, Manos Province, Psychon" said Jane.

"That's a bit of an anticlimax, presumably it's like a hallmark or some such" John replied. "I don't know really, sort of, though I have been taught the words by rote as a child, I have to say it's pretty meaningless. Just an address of a jewelry factory on another planet" Jane said thoughtfully.

"Well I have to say I didn't expect to have such a conversation in my lifetime. All that research trying to find life in the universe, and now I'm one of the few people on the planet that knows there's life out there. Still I'd better be going. Thanks for the coffee."

John paused on his way out. "By the way, what do the words on your avatar say?"

"Come and get me" Jane replied.

This is the first story in the "Journey back where" series. Next story
Copyright (c) 2012. 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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