Graham Brammer was born in Brisbane in 1944 and through necessity left school at age 13 to join the workforce. He enlisted in the Army in 1966 to support the Australian Government’s commitment to the war in South Vietnam under the South East Asian Treaty alliance. After two operational tours of South Vietnam in 1968 and 1971 with the 2nd SAS Squadron as a patrol member and Patrol Commander Graham continued to serve with Special Forces as an instructor and Staff Officer until his discharge in1995. Since retiring, Graham has written Uncertain Fate, a novel based on the operational experience of the Australian SAS in Vietnam, and been involved in the corporate sector as a facilitator on Leadership Development programmes. He is now completely retired from participating in strenuous undertakings but continues to produce entertaining stories.
Testing the Time Continuum
Commander Provis im Dakis and her Flight Operations Supervisor, Vesis Kasis, studied a monitor on the command console of their Ranger IV class spacecraft, Nomad I, where an incoming message materialised slowly on the screen.
“You are to proceed to the Skole system in the Tolven Galaxy, and be in position to observe and record events on planet Arkis from Galactic (-) 37.33.15.00.00 and continue recording until the exodus from Skole is complete.”
‘That’s a time skip of over 3000 Doran years, and a shift across two galaxies.’ Provis was surprised, excited and a little concerned at what was expected of them. ‘Are we capable of making such a jump in time?’
Vesis reacted to her question by reaching over to press a button on the console.
Vesis pressed another button to alert Coris Lusis, their Engineer Supervisor. ‘Coris! We’ve been ordered to make a time transfer of over 3000 Doran years.’ A face appeared on the communications monitor and Vesis allowed time for Coris to absorb the information. ‘What are the risks involved?’
The face on the screen remained expressionless. ‘We’ve made several short transits and our scientists assure me that long transits are possible; but 3000 Doran years is such a long time, and my only concern is the accuracy of our return.’
Provis felt her mind relax. Their scientists wouldn’t risk a new craft and crew unless they were confident of success. Besides, the decision was taken out of her hands by the directive from supreme command.
Provis’s face appeared on the monitors. ‘Our mission is to record events surrounding the birth of our Wymieran culture. Proceed to the Skole system; stabilize above planet Arkis, then set a time transit to Galactic minus 37.33.15.00.00. Alert the crew and advise me when you’re ready to activate.’
Coris’s face disappeared and the monitors went dark momentarily before her voice came through the communication system. ‘All crew stand by for a rapid transfer of location.’
Provis fastened glowing eyes on Vesis and fixed her with a satisfied smile. She was unable to keep a sudden rush of pleasure from her voice. ‘This is a great opportunity, Vesis. To finally have the technology that allows a return to the cradle of our culture to capture events of the time is almost beyond my comprehension.’
Vesis didn’t share her commander’s enthusiasm. History had little appeal for her. She was more interested in the assignment they were being directed away from in the Zod system, but orders must be followed. She ran her fingers over a number of lighted disks until a series of letters appeared. She transferred the information to Provis’s monitor for her commander to read.
“An interplanetary war was initiated by the Narken race of planet Narl and raged briefly in the Skole System. Although it was short, the war devastated two planets and cost the lives of almost five-sixths of our Wymieran race. All visual evidence from the time was destroyed and our only record is what was recalled and chronicled by survivors many Doran years after the event.”
Provis concentrated her thoughts briefly. ‘The Senatan is searching for our past. Scientists believe the new, deep scanning capability will capture a complete picture of our earliest history.’
An automated pre-recording of Coris’s voice from on-board processors reached them, and a smooth impulse of power impacted softly on their bodies. ‘A course to the Skole system is calculated and departure scheduled for one galactic minute. All crew, strap in immediately.’
‘Power initiated.’ The voice returned after a short break and continued to drone. ‘Activation will occur in five galactic seconds. Destination, planet Arkis in the Skole system; Tolven galaxy.’
Commander Dakis and her Operation’s Supervisor settled back and fastened their restraints before a rush of power sent Nomad I hurtling across two galaxies and many thousand star systems.
‘There’s no life on planet Arkis.’ The voice of Dala Trokis, Nomad’s Communications Supervisor flooded Provis’s mind. ‘In fact there’s insufficient power in Skole to support life on any planet in this system.’
An image of the desolate surface of Arkis appeared on all monitors to verify Dala’s announcement. Sadness seized Provis as she looked at the dead planet. The remains of several cities ravaged over time by forces of nature indicated that an advanced society once inhabited the planet. She wondered briefly how much warning of impending doom its occupants had before mission imperatives caused her focus to shift to their current operations.
Provis glanced across at Vesis to find her eyes partly closed in anticipation of the coming transfer and Provis gave the order. ‘Activate time transit.’
A frightening thought entered Provis’s mind. How did their scientists know to send them to Galactic minus 37.33.15.00.00? It was more than 3000 Skole years since the war. How could they be so precise in their calculations to know the Narken invasion of Arkis began 37 years, 33 days and 15 hours of Skole time before their legendry scientist, Korsis, invented a galactic clock to automatically calculate orbital and rotational time for any star system in any galaxy they entered?
The computer-generated voice filled Provis’s mind. ‘Time transit will occur in 90 galactic seconds. Secure for transfer.’
A rush of adrenaline brought a flush to her face, her heart pounded and a mass of small prickles invaded her mouth as apprehension took hold. The mission they were about to embark on could easily lead to their destruction.
The galactic clock flashed silently as the mechanical voice counted the units down to zero. ‘Time transit in three, two, one, Mark!’
Provis took a slow, deep breath and held it as a deep hum entered her mind and darted in surges through her body. A sensation of soaring on waves of turbulent air gripped her and sent another adrenal rush through her body. Humming sensations swirled as spirals in her mind while doubt invaded her consciousness. All concept of time was lost, and any thought of disaster slowly disappeared in a rising sense of serenity.
Awareness returned slowly as her senses resumed their normal function. She opened her eyes slowly to see lights flashing on the command console.
Coris’s calm voice came over the intercom. ‘Nomad I’s galactic clock has failed to accurately calibrate the ‘G’ factor. We’re experiencing problems as a result. Working instruments indicate that we’ve emerged from time transit 15 galactic minutes prior to the programmed arrival time.’
Vesis’ voice was not so calm. ‘We are also in close proximity to the Narken invasion fleet.’
Provis checked her closest monitor and was surprised to see six spacecraft in staggered orbit below Nomad I. There was something familiar about the craft, but she had no time to study them. They needed to withdraw quickly. ‘Reposition in deep space where a view of the Sixth Carn is possible, and cloak for security against detection.’
‘Our cloaking function is not operating.’ Coris’s voice filled the operations centre as Nomad’s power pack surged in response to Provis’s command, and the craft rapidly gained altitude. Light from Skole was beginning to brighten the planet’s surface and Provis was pleased a glitch in their galactic clock caused their early arrival over ancient Arkis.
Darla’s excited voice filled their minds. ‘Shuttles are launching from the spacecraft.’
‘Scan the Narken operations centres,’ Provis ordered. ‘Record all events there and on the surface.’
A sudden air of expectation filled Nomad I’s crew as excited communicators readied scanners, and recorders made final checks in anticipation of coming events.
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