Doubting their eyes, and the visual sensors, the bridge crew of Phoenix kept staring at the image on the main viewscreen of the bridge.

“This must be a glitch, calling up some obscure data from the databanks.” Kurt finally tore away from the sight. Agreeing, but still intrigued Regina sat down on the ground. The aftereffects of her abortion that morning still taking their toll on her.

“Zhu, there is a viewport in the storage compartment on deck two, please go there for visual confirmation.” Saluting the young woman jumped from her seat at the communication terminal, hurried off.

Although earth had been annihilated by the neutron star that ejected Mars out into the interstellar realm, and wreaked havoc on the sun, every child still learned how earth once looked like. “Suppose it is not a glitch. How do we get back home?”

Trying to boot up more systems after the violent encounter with the strange star and it’s effects on the systems of Phoenix, Kurt only shortly looked up and over to Regina. “If this thing there is not a glitch, then we are in deep trouble. Not being able to restore systems, instruments and sensors is then, the least of our problems. There are only two, maybe three possible explanations for this. One more unlikely than the next.”

Not satisfied with his reply Regina massaged her temples. “Give me those possible explanations.”

Busy in trying to restore some of the ship’s systems to functionality Kurt grunted. “One, a one hundred percent lookalike. Theoretically possible, but so unlikely that you’d need a universe several times larger than the one we inhabit to make it happen. Two,” he paused trying to decipher an error message, for a moment he mumbled something to himself, typed a command, gleefully he saw the result. “we broke out from our universe and landed in another one. Again, very unlikely, although the multiverse theory probably is a given. Three, we have gone,” this is ridiculous, “back in time.”

Nodding at each possibility Regona kept massaging her temples, behind her the doors opened. Babbling out an excuse for her delay, Cassandra entered, seeing Regina sit on the floor. “Didn’t I send you to your quarters?”

“Can’t keep a General from her ship!” Mumbling in between reading errors and trying to fix them with the help of a codebook that was stored on every terminal’s hard drive, Kurt did not look up.

“Is that?” The two male nurses and Cassandra stopped next to Rich Bauman, the first officer, who had suffered a head injury. “Probably not.” Regina replied, since the incident her head was pounding, although she had only fallen out of bed, not hitting her head.

Again the doors opened, Zhu returned, panting heavily. “It’s real. I saw it!”

Stopping his actions Kurt had to sit down.

 

On the console screen before his eyes error messages popped up, as well as return codes for successfully booted up systems. A few insturments came back online.

Devastated Kurt stared at the console.

Inside his mind everything was flying around.

The planet on the screen was truly out there, it had been visually confirmed. Although it looked like earth, it could not be!

Determined to get to the bottom of this Kurt sprung to action. “Putting in a computer query to make a comparison of thes star constellations with those visible from earth.” Behind the planet a moon became visible.

It looked like the moon that once orbited earth. Before both got destroyed by a neutron star. “Draw up images of earth and the moon while you’re at it.” Regina suggested, while the nurses put Rich on the med bed to wheel him out.

“Zhu, please get on the radio and listen for any transmissions.”

“As far as sensors can be trusted, there is no technology present capable of sending transmissions to or from that planet.”

Heaving herself into the chair Regina gave her boyfriend a scolding look. “What do we have at our disposal to make such determinations?”

“Energy detectors, metallurgical scanners and visual.” Still fighting with the loads of errors from other systems Kurt began to loose hope for these systems. “How about lifeforms?”

Slowly raising his glance from the console to the General, Kurt had to fight his inner demons. Everything he knew, everything he ever learned dismissed the notion of time travel, especially time travel into the past. It was almost a violent impulse that brooded from his subconscious.

“No. Too many errors, I’m afraid that stuff is broken beyond repair. Why do you want those anyway? Look at it, green forests, blue seas, an atmosphere. If we get back the chemical analysis sensors, we can determine if it is suitable for us, but I’d say there’s life there.” Please don’t say it. Please don’t say you want to see if there are humans.

“Too see if there humans.”

Immediately clenching his fists and his jaw Kurt closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Even though this planet and it’s moon look like that which once was home to our ancestors, it is not earth. It can’t be. There might be intelligent life, but I highly doubt that. In all likelihood, this place is looking almost like earth, whichnis highly unlikely, but it cannot be earth. Neither in the past, nor in some alternate universe!” Towards the end he couldn’t hold back his aggravated mood any longer.

Until a beeping from the console drew his attention he stared at Regina with a look that spelled bloody murder.

 

Growing pale Kurt sank into the forgiving cushioning of his seat. “I give up.” Absently his gaze wandered back to Regina. “According to the patterns of stars, this is earth, roughly at the end of the last ice age.”

“Why so glum about it Doctor?” Zhou turned around with her seat, an earpiece in her left ear.

“This is a scientific nightmare! Nothing, absolutely nothing that I know of permits travel through time into the past.”

In the eyes of the communication officer and in Regina’s, he could see what both of them thought. Apparently a strange star can. Returning his attention to the failed and failing systems, something else struck Kurt’s mind.

“Oh damn.” Not waiting for Regina’s reaction he quickly explained that apparently the antimatter containment chambers, and their ability to make new antimatter were damaged. Only one of the fusion reactors was functional, and that at fifty percent.

“We have to shut down all non essential systems! Repeat, on the order of General Marston, all non essential systems have to be shutndown!” Zhou gave her best version of a confident voice, but at least to those knowing her, or being in the same room as her, her desperation showed.

“Deploying solar collectors.” Never thought I’m gonna say that, Kurt mused. From the massive sails that began unfolding in between the rings and between the spearhead and the alpha ring, only one error message came back to Kurt’s console. “Maneuvering Phoenix into optimal angle.” Navigator Kohaku Toryama stated, his speech sounded a little sluggish, Regina sent a request for medical attention upon noticing.

Half the lights went out after a minute, the remaining ones dimmed. “Cosy.” Remarking on the drastic lengths of the energy conserving measures, Regina felt suddenly overcome with exhaustion.

“We need a new shift. Fast. Right now we all had an adrenaline rush, it’s fading. Could you see to that?” Kurt also felt overcome with exhaustion. “Sure thing.”

 

Five hours, twenty three minutes. Kurt stretched.

He thanked his body for requiring that little amount of sleep, as he swung his legs outn of bed. From his son’s room came loud snoring.

He had only a minor injury, a twisted ankle, but knowing Leopold, he knew the youth would sleep off his pain. Next to him was Regina. After the events of the previous day she had not wanted to sleep alone, in order to keep an eye on Leopold for a little while she had come to Kurt’s quarters for the night.

After few moments it all came back to him. Confused he cursed the entire incident, he was, for the first time in his life, without a clue.

“Harpies!” Regina shot upwards next to him.

“What?”

“That’s the answer, we contact the Harpies of this time period. They do have the technology to come here. Or at least receive our call, record it, store it in their databases, and figure out a way to get us away from here.” Rubbing the sleep from her eyes Regina too got out of bed.

Perhaps that’s not a bad idea. Musing on Regina’s epiphany Kurt rubbed his stubbed chin. “That might alter the time line. It would endanger first contact with them, perhaps even cause the destruction of mankind, if the patriarchists get wind of it.”

Yawning he longed for nothing more than a coffee, the chemical product of years of loving addiction of humans yearning to have a cup after the exodus to Mars, and RV-p296. That issue, of whether or or not to contact the Harpies, could wait until he and the ship were more operational.

 

“Repairs on the lander fusion reactor are coming along well, efficiency of rear fusion reactor has increased to seventy five per cent.” Night shift commander, Major James Adamovic reported to the General.

Reluctantly he went to leave the bridge. “Gather a team, captain.”

“What for, if may ask, General?”

“An away mission.” Regina beamed. “We’re going to pick a suitable location, where you can’t interfere with the local population.”

Equally reluctant Kurt had manned the post of the first officer. After most systems had shut down, the console had become his office. Rich also was not fit for duty yet.

Only after Adamovic had left did he speak up.

“Do you think that wise? We don’t know a thing about the implications this might have. A single picked berry might alter the timeline!” Keeping his voice low Kurt was reduced to a hiss as he pretended to show Regina something on a tablet.

“We need boots on the ground, in our present condition we are not able to go anywhere, but this location! If everything checks out we could extract,”

“A feat we can achieve on asteroids, other moons, planetoids in the outer reaches of the solar system. Places where we are not in danger of altering human history.”

Regina’s eyes narrowed, her lips formed a thin line.

“Going there requires resources we don’t have, time we can’t afford to waste. Besides, we could try to alter history to a beneficial outcome. Imagine if mankind skips the dark ages where four to nine hundred years of scientific progress is suspended. Imagine mankind going to the stars as fast as possible. Before that darn neutron star reaches the solar system!”

Appalled, growing pale in shock, Kurt felt all air flee his lungs. Now Regina had delusions of grandeur! “We can’t. We all, every man woman and child in existence would seize to be! None of us would ever be born! Altering time on that scale would spell the end of mankind as we know it.”

“We could save billions of lives!”

“By taking countless billions! This is not the billions that died when earth got destroyed, but the billions that came before them, and those that will live then. They are not the ones that will be alive if you go through with this! Our history, our culture, everything will be destroyed!”

Feeling scolded like a schoolgirl Regina bit her lip. She had hated these moments in her youth, and she sure hated that feeling now.

“Mankind has survived. And we need to ensure that it stays that way. We can not alter history.”

“That depends, Doctor Braun.” Maryjane Hutzinger entered the bridge. As the only addition to the crew from Equatoria she enjoyed the energy conserving measures, as she experienced the martian low gravity for the first time. “What if our interference with history has happened already in our distant past? Which then lead to the commissioning of Orion?” Smug faced she strode over to his workstation, although receiving a gaze of disbelief from her fellow scientist, and from the General.

“All right.” Regina shook her head. “For now we will do nothing that might interfere with history, but the team will go down, for a series of flybys. I want more information on what is going on down there. Perhaps the sensors of the pods are functional?”

A notion that had escaped Kurt, the limited range of those sensors however made them useless from Orbit. Gladly they had been designed with atmospheric flight in mind. “Not too low, we can’t risk being spotted, and immortalised in drawing. Or upsetting aherd of animals that trample our forefathers, annihilating us in the process.”

“Would we be aware of such annihilation?” Zhu seemed genuinely worried, still listening to a whole lot of nothing.

“Suppose my stoneage grandmother gets killed, I would vanish. No one would know me, no one would have ever heard of me. You’d all have no idea I ever existed.” Perhaps antimatter drive would still be hinging on Fineman. Removing Phoenix out of the equation, we never upset these animals, my stoneage grandmother lives and we start over. Caught infinitely in a time loop. At least in one theory.

Calmed a little by the paradoxon’s promise of eternal life, Kurt strode to his console.

“So even if we alter history, we would not travel back in time in order to do that, in which case history would not be altered, resulting in us ending up here, altering history?” Zhu rubbed her head, she began having a headache.

“Who knows? We might be here for the second, three billionth, or just the first time.” Trying to sound uplifting Maryjane leaned against the wall behind the console.

Rewarded with shocked stares from the bridge staff, she blushed. “Is there a special reason for your presence here, Doctor Hutzinger?” Incapable of hiding her annoyance with her Regina leaned deeper into her seat.

 

“Alright, you win. That little discussion with Hutzinger convinced me. No alterations of the timeline!” After Doctor Hutzinger had left, mood on the bridge was at its lowest.

Regina leaned half over the console that Kurt was working on. “The flyby is still taking place, after that contact with earth is off limits.”

“The pod is ready, Ma’am.” Zhu was glad to hear something on the ether. On a normal day there were dozens of queries for the bridge, one to three messages over the quantum entanglement network. With the energy conserving measures in place only one or two queries that could not have been relayed otherwise, and absolute silence over the QEN.

“Good, tell them to maintain a high enough altitude so they’ll be out of sight, but low enough to run all their sensors.”

 

Major Adamovic was relaxed during the descent through the upper atmosphere. Turbulence was as normal as turbulence got, not any worse than what they had experienced on Equatoria. After a few minutes the rattling died down, leaving behind the sensation of just having been shook. “Joe, maintain the altitude we have to maintain, and give me sensors.”

“Aye.” Joanne Carlin replied with a gleeful tone to her voice. For his mission the Major had chosen the best pilot he knew, there was an anthropologist with them. Kaleb Manheimer. Glued to the screen, having the feedback of the sensors at his disposal, telling him of all the creatures the sensors got a hold of.

“That’s earth alright. Not quite the place we’ve heard and read about, but earth.” With only a little curiosity showing, his voice had a neutral tone. “That’s what our people would call home, aren’t you at least a little bit excited?” James studied the same results on his screen.

Other members of his team stood behind him, and behind Manheimer. Originally he had thought they were going to land, so he had brought a geologist, some of his friends who he knew were capable of handling unexpected situations, and who would follow his orders. “No. We can’t land, we can’t call this home. There is no telling what effect our landing might have on the timeline, besides, everyone, everything down there will die. From our perspective it all has already died. Aeons ago. Even if there was some freak of nature capable of surviving the many millenia to our time, it will still die when the planet gets destroyed by the neutron star. Although Mars, or RV-p296, will one day presumably meet an end, we do not know when. It might be tomorrow, from our time, or in a billion years. Here I can tell you when. I wouldn’t want to get too attached to a place of which I know exactly when it will be destroyed.”

Scientists, always a source for mood dampening lines. “Joe, can we get any lower?”

“Negative, this is the optimal altitude.”

As James was about to say he wanted to get a closer look, a violent shaking stopped him. Friends and colleagues around him dropped to their knees, or landed on the floor of the ship. “Turbulence?”

“Stabiliser is unresponsive. Thruster fuel is leaking. Trying to climb!”

 

Finally at peace with the thought of not going to land Regina sipped on her coffee, chatting with Zhu who was monitoring the transmissions from the pod.

Suddenly the asian woman’s face grew dark. “They’re having trouble.”

As the systems still were in need of repair, especially their capacities of making and storying antimatter, Kurt had left the bridge to tend to those systems, Regina rushed to the console herself. “They’re losing altitude.” She cursed herself for giving the mission a green light.

On the main viewscreen the image changed, zoomed in on the pod, they saw that it drew a longntail of fumes and smoke behind it. “I’m losing them on the sensors, only visual still holding on.” Commenting on her own works as if she reported to the commander of the ship herself Regina had given up on the sensors. Walking around the console to her own seat she kept her eyes transfixed on the descending ship.

 

Across a forest on the northern hemisphere, what once would be called Asia, the lander headed out to the pacific. “I hadn’t noticed before, but the Bering passage is dry and ice free. We could be witnessing the settlement of north America by the natives.” Somehow Maryjane Hutzinger had sneaked back onto the bridge, commenting on what she was witnessing.

Not regarding the scientist with a single moment of attention Regina grabbed her own console tightly, feeling for the men and women she had sent to Earth, as they were descending possibly to their doom.

“They’re out of sight.” Toryama had a gentle tremor in his voice, almost as if his voice was breaking. Regina had heard that Adamovic had tried to get the Phoenix Navigator on board his team, but failed as Regina would not permit her best navigator to leave the bridge in the middle of a crisis.

“No energy spikes on the sensors.” Meanwhile Maryjane had taken up position behind the console with the sensor data. “Of course this,” interrupted by the harsh glares she received from the others on the bridge Maryjane did not complete her statement that perhaps an eventual explosion had just occured outside sensor range.

“General Marston to all hands, volunteers for a rescue mission of the crew just sent down to the planet, report to the hangar bays.” To Toryama she gave a nod giving him permission to fly the rescue.

“But check your craft thoroughly before you leave Phoenix. I suspect that our temporal incident had damaged the other one.”

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we had to take a short detour, we hope you will continue to fly with us after this minor glitch.” Joanne Carlin spoke softly, the crew behind her however, was mostly not in the mood for jests.

“Good one, do you write your own material?” James peeled out of his straps that had held him in his seat. “We are afloat, I have limited capabilities of maneuvering this tub, so we could land on that shore there.” Joanne glanced over her shoulder, ditching the jesting attitude.

“Yes Pilot, please bring us to that terminal. Perhaps the local snackbar can make up for the terrible in flight menue.” Smug smiling at her James went through the rows to see if the others were injured.

“Well, Doc. You might get to see terran soil after all.” Cameron Dixon sat up slowly. Her long dark fingers slowly wandered across her face, looking for any injury. “Glad to hear that, I just had hoped it would be a little less,” musing, she waved her hand, “sudden.”

“Y’all need to stop watching those old time movies.” Dennis Filiposchenko rubbed his shoulder. He had bumped it when the stabiliser went out.

“Oh boy.” Joanne’s sudden words of dismay alarmed James, he couldn’t exactly say why, but he felt the sudden urge to run to the front of the ship.

“What? Are we sinking? Leaking? Is there a fire?”

“No. None of that.” Giving him a benign smile one could only give someone who one had seen naked, Joanne turned her head back in the direction the pod was swimming now. “We have company, Jim.”

 

A group of fur donning men and women stood at the shore of the sea. Beneath their feet were stones and fist sized rocks, washed round by sea and wind. With open mouths, yet anticipation, they watched the unusual bird that had fallen from the skies, and was now swimming to the shore.

Spears were readied, knives drawn.

 

“Can you hold a position, just far enough away from them so they couldn’t hurt us, or damage the ship?” Thanking Joe for her immediate affirmation of his request, James turned round. “I need a com line. To Phoenix, another lander, for all I care a 20th century cab stand. Any com line. Get to it.” He instructed his friends whom he knew were savy with the radio.

“Take readings, people, take all the readings you can get. We have a unique opportunity to investigate our past. So take as many readings as you can!”

A warning beep alerted him that his way of conduct may not be possible.

 

“Lander two to Phoenix, we have them on sensors, the lander is intact, and I have their transponder signals, they’re alive.” A wave of relief washed over Regina, she had not sent anyone to their deaths. “However,” Toryama paused on the other end of the transmission, “they had landed on the beach, their craft is surrounded by natives.”

Moaning Regina let her head sink to the console.

“That is exactly what I was warning you about.” Unnoticed by her, Kurt had come to the bridge, originally to report on the progress of the repairs. “It’s too late for scolding lessons on the implications on our history, of our being here. The situation is that we are where we are, and that has happened what has happened. We should see to get out of this mess.”

“I know that it is too late, but how come that the Equatorians have settled for years on RV-p296, yet never ran into one of the natives, we’re here, what, two days? And promptly we run into an entire group of them?” Kurt strode over to the console of the first officer, checked a few readings relayed to them by the other landers. “Land them within sight, but far enough to make the natives run to the other craft, if they are hostile, stun them.” He looked at Regina. “But only stun them. If the lander, or several of them, lost any parts, like Hull plating, chips, anything, it needs to be either retrieved, or destroyed.” Nodding with his words Regina wished for the entire incident to end.

 

As soon as another of the strange birds had come into sight, this time gracefully,  without flapping of wings, but thunderous screams, the group of curious, yet cautious people had left the beach, just far enough to see the tall figures emerge from the strange birds.

 

“I had just ordered Joe to stay out at sea, when a warning system alerted us that we were taking on water.” Linus Tuovinen looked up from the error report sheets generated by the landers computer systems. “Taking on water? Hearing your report and reading this data, both suggest that the landing itself was not harsh enough to crack the hull of the lander.”

With the same curious uneasiness as Linus did Kurt look at the Major. Only Regina did not seem to be upset by those events.

“No sir, I believe the crack would’ve been torn into the hull as we experienced the turbulence still over Asia.”

Both Kurt and Linus stared at the man with an empty expression. “Is there a problem with that?” Regina turned her seat around to the two scientists and engineer.

Before the debriefing of James and his comrades the damaged lander had been towed back to Phoenix, brought in and a detailed examination had begun. Any and all pieces that the lander had lost were added. By far the entire process was not finished yet.

“Send lander two down, and have them scan for the metal aloy of the hull, any computer parts that might have been blown out.” Kurt rose, talking to Linus, whom Regina had given full authority in the crash investigation. Followed by the eyes of James and Regina, as well as other officers present for the debriefing, Kurt and Linus left.

Cursing himself for not reading the oldest entries, at the bottom of the sheet, first, but working, so to say, backwards through the errors, Linus headed directly to the hangar bay where the crashed lander was investigated.

 

Inside the small confines of his quarter the air was growing stale, but Kurt did not notice, as he kept to himself, and had not left those walls since the debriefing.

Indeed hull plating had been found, and a few pieces of computer systems.

Was there more that had been lost over the waves of the pacific? Kurt did not know, he did not exactly want to know. The entire time travelling experience made his head ache beyond his abilities to tolerate it.

Over the course of a day and two nights, operating on only two hours of sleep in that time, he had succeeded in bringing the antimatter production back online, and storage as well.

Sleep for four hours had relaxed his body, but not helped him find any answers on how to get back to the future.

“Dad?”

Maybe his error was in thinking like he could solve this riddle? Perhaps someone else could solve it. In their database they surely had a record on how much the lunar colony over RV-p296 had excavated. Hiding a message there, so they’d find it days or weeks after the Phoenix got lost, would provide information on the where and when Phoenix could be found, so any potential future time travel savy humans could come and put them back.

“Pa!?”

Leopold’s voice finally woke Kurt from his train of thought. “Yes?!”

“It stinks in here! Can you turn on the AC for a minute?” Finally seeimg the chaos he had left in his room, clothes strewn around, dishes that he had used but not returned to the messhall. “Sure. Why not.”

“What are you working on this time?” Often Leopold had asked, often did Kurt give short answers, answers so vague no one could help if they posed a problem Kurt was working on. This time Kurt could only be vague. Sensors had been shot by the incident, no one had recorded, or witnessed exactly what happened. “Well, the entire incident with the strange star, that got us here, I want to make it happen again, only in the other way.”

Leopold came to his father’s desk, stared at the missing logs of sensory data. “Try pulling data from the sensors in the fusion chamber that did not give up, then there’s the science pod on beta ring, it has a special set of sensors, running on batteries in case of catastrophic power loss, and its own data storage. It was designed to function as an interstellar weather station in case we discover a planet but couldn’t settle it for some reason or another.”

The science pod was Kurt’s first and only idea for alternative data, but the sensors on it had also been shot, and still were offline as they were not important enough to be restored. On the contrary, parts from them were cannibalised for sensors that were in need of repairs. Making new parts was a luxury they couldn’t afford, the energy requirements were too large.

“I will check the fusion reactor, thank you.” Kurt was astonished that he hadn’t thought of the reactor.

 

Gleeful Kurt entered the bridge, just as usual he found Regina at her post, Rich was back into action as the first officer, Kohaku Toryama at the helm and Zhu at the communication terminal. Perhaps everything was going to return to normal.

Only the presence of Linus and his expression of desperation, anger and fear was abnormal, even off setting.

“Dire news, Kurt, a few parts from a computer Platine are missing.” The engineer called for Kurt as he saw him enter the bridge. Regina turned to him, wearing an expression of desire, to see him after missing him for almost a week and a half. Recoiling from what she saw her expression froze immediately.

His hair was rough and stood in all directions, he wore a beard he normally hadn’t, his clothes were wrinkled, dirty and he wore a smell of not showering in a few days. Now Regina fully understood why he so often was referred to as a borderline mad scientist.

“Widened search pattern?” Kurt rose his eyebrows.

“Nothing.”

“Slower, lower flybys?”

“Nothing. I’m afraid it fell into the ocean. And our dear General here is not letting me continue the search under water!”

Not asking verbally Kurt just turned his eyes on Regina.

“We have caused enough potential damage to the timeline! We can not risk doing even more! Besides, I believe that the active volcanism in that area, and the ending iceage, will destroy what is left of the parts.”

A momemt of silence passed, Kurt felt anger rise in his stomach, he wanted to spew lava out of his mouth, scream and yell, and tear the bridge apart with his bare hands. “I think I found a way back. If not we’ll have to try again some fourty thousand years ago.” He threw the tablet in Regina’s direction, turned on his heel and went to the tube network.

He wanted to go home.

Finally he felt the beard itch, and he wanted to get rid of the fur as he called it.

“Kurt! Wait up, pal.” Linus caught him as he entered the cab, slipped in with him. “You gave her a way back without doing a proper cleanup job?”

“Either we arrive in our time and nothing has changed as either every change we made has already been made, or we can only return to our time line present. Or we arrive in an alternate version of the present in which case we can go back and fix what ever we have done, so we can go back. If the changes made would have caused us to vanish, we would’ve done so already.” His reply was without any emotion, one continuous tone, almost as if he had rehearsed it, either to calm himself, or someone else.

 

About four months went by after Kurt had given his nickname full honor, by appearing like a deranged, mad genius on the bridge. “Approaching the designated coordinates.” Toryama was glad to utter those words. As glad as the rest of the crew was to hear them.

“Begin the procedures.” Rich Baumann looked up from his console for a moment. Sunken in thought Regina had sulked the last months in her chair. She kept her daily routines, but other than that, she rarely spoke a word. Today she was not there.

The cold, harsh General he had gotten to know on Mars was shining through again. Had the relationship to Doctor Braun suffered under the incident? They were hardly seen together, but on the other hand it could be a ruse to throw off the rumors aboard.

“We are good to go.”

“Beginn.”

 

Fresh air was circulating through the dimly lit quarters of Doctor Kurt Braun, he leaned in his bed, staring at the sleeping General next to him. They hardly spoke, hardly discussed what had happened at earth, what had happened between them during that time. But when they met, they met like wild teenagers.

“Attention, all personnel. We are attempting to return to our own time. Please assume safe positions.” Regina woke from the announcement. Panicked at the time she looked at Kurt, opened her mouth, but said nothing.

Kurt nodded, both jumped out of bed, got dressed and hurried to the bridge in awkward silence.

A moment after they had sat down in the chairs of the cab, a flash blinded Kurt.

When he came to, he sat in the cab, Regina came to her senses next to him, they had fastened their belts, otherwise they might have been thrown around again.

Still not talking the two hurried to the bridge, noticing that the lights had gone out, and only reserve batteries kicked in.

Almost having a routine in it by now, Kurt opened the console to boot up the system, but suddenly the lights sprang back into action. “Fusion reactor operating within normal parameters.” Rich stood up upon seeing Regina, the back ups that had been designed for the blackout following the jump, had kicked in. “Backup sensor array coming online.” Toryama stated, having immediately a sense of where they were. “QEN coming online,” Zhu said, but something in her voice sounded like an abrupt stop.

Flickering the main viewscreen came to life, showing the strange star as it was supposed to be. “There is a lot of chatter out there.”

“We were gone some time,” Regina tried to justify the traffic in the quantum entanglement network, but both Kurt and Zhu shook their heads. “Barely a day.”

“They are not speaking english. Switching to auto translate.”

Kurt felt a sigh forming in his lungs, an elongated sigh, slowly rising to the top. “It’s Japanese.” Zhu looked to Kohaku, who shook his head. His grandmother had still spoken some Japanese, he was raised with only one language.

First officer Rich Bauman had moved to his console. “There is a vessel relatively close by, called the Sakura. Attempting to access their databases without being noticed.”

All eyes were lying on Rich as he accessed the foreign system. After a few moments he had gained access and began downloading their entire database. “Oh my,” he gasped, reviewing a certain part of the history, “they saved earth. They have developed technologies far beyond our stage of development.” Rich grew pale. He began trembling and sat down on his chair.

“They friggin’ saved earth!”