Chapter 4: Planet Fall, Earth
Earth hung in space outside the observation window of Odysseus. It had taken nine months but they finally reached home. They still had no communications with Mission Control on Earth but they were home. Commander Hughes called Jake to the command deck as the flagship of GalaxyX established a synchronous orbit above the Earth at a distance of two hundred and sixty-thousand miles.
“Has a planet ever looked so beautiful?” Jake asked as he walked up to Commander Hughes. “Where is the command staff?”
“I sent them to lunch,” Commander Hughes said. “Do you see anything odd?”
“Odd? As in?” Jake asked.
“Just tell me if you see anything odd.”
Jake looked out the observation window and then at the monitors that had been locked onto different areas of the Earth.
“Where is everything?” Jake asked, bewilderment on his face.
“That’s what I was wondering,” Commander Hughes said.
“We didn’t make it back to our dimension,” Jake said softly.
“It doesn’t appear like it. The crew is still running scans but you can clearly see that the land masses aren’t right. Some are too close together and some are even attached. What’s odd though is that we are detecting satellites in orbit. I had the crew position us a little further from the earth than the moon when we detected them. We’re pretty much hiding for now,” Commander Hughes said.
“What do you have in mind?” Jake asked.
“We don’t have the fuel to return to Ceres, figure out how to get back to our dimension, and then back to Earth. If we could figure out how to do it, to begin with. This is science beyond our understanding.”
“And the only option, other than sitting here until we run out of fuel or supplies, is to head down to the surface,” Jake deduced.
“Exactly. From what Astro cartography has ascertained, we are within three hundred thousand years of our own time but the exact year is unknown. It could be the pre-industrial revolution era or it could be the Jurassic Period, we don’t know. We have spotted large structures on the surface with movement but the odd part is the atmosphere.”
“What about the atmosphere?” Jake asked.
“No pollution or not to the type of pollution we are used to. There are a lot of carbon emissions but also electromagnetic streams as if electricity were being transmitted through the air.”
“Where are the concentration of structures?”
“Mainly in the Middle East, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia area. The orient, China mainly, along the mountains and the coasts. Central and South America where the Inca and Aztecs were. Europe has a few but further spread out. North America or the plains have a few but not as large as Eurasia or the Far East.”
“When do we depart to find out?” Jake asked.
“Four hours. We are still monitoring a few things. Once we are fairly certain of the technological level and the most feasible landing site, then you and your team with have the green light.”
“How certain are we that we are in a past Earth timeline instead of a future one?” Jake asked before leaving.
“Absolutely certain. No matter how far in the future we could go, space debris would still be in orbit around Earth. We have Thirteen satellites that we have identified and they are all pointing towards the surface. That and there are no signs of the moon landing. No Moon Rover. No flag. Nothing.”
“Understood. I’ll brief the team.”
“The drop ships have been prepped and ready to go. Have your security force split into two groups and equipped for a major confrontation and a minimum of two weeks on the surface. You’ll be accompanied by ten scientific members per team. The flight crew will drop you off and return in two weeks. Communications have been routed through the satellites that we have detected so we shouldn’t have an issue with comms. Try not to be detected
Would you object if Galantine and Mira accompany the investigative team?” Jake asked.
“I would insist on it. If Gilgamesh’s brothers and sisters are down there, Galantine may be able to assist in a peaceful interaction.”
“I’m on it,” Jake said before leaving the command deck.
An hour later Jake had his security force checking their equipment and going over the security risks as far as he could conceive them. Commander Hughes had two analysts working on detailed photos of multiple landing sites for different contingency plans. The main issue would be avoiding contact with the populace until it was decided on the hostility level they posed.
“Galantine, how proficient are you with the energy weapons?” Jake asked when the Ceresian returned after explaining to his warriors and the refugees what was happening.
“For the time I was in Gilgamesh’s service, I rose through the ranks from cleaning and storing the weapons to maintaining and calibrating most all the weapon types. I can recondition spent energy cells for longer life. Why are you asking?” Galantine asked.
“We will need the energy weapons on the surface. We have a limited supply of ammunition for our Earthly weapons. If you have time, or one of your warriors or the refugees knows archery and swordsmanship, the entire crew could use the training,” Jake explained.
“I had not thought of that. I assumed that your weapons were much like ours in the replenishment of ammunition. Swords and crossbows are definitely easier to maintain and replenishment of bolts is a small matter. I will check with the other tribes. For the time being though, have you thought about taking my warriors and myself along? I have experience with the energy weapons and you have seen my men are adequate in their usage. My warriors can also show you how to construct crossbows from the natural materials we made find on your planet,” Galantine replied, indicating the refugees as another tribe instead since they were of other tribes than his own.
“I’ll take it under advisement,” Jake smiled at his Ceresian friend as the warrior left.
“Galantine has offered up his warriors and himself to accompany us,” Jake told Commander Hughes. “His twenty-four, my twelve, and the twenty that you are sending, we have room for enough equipment and supplies to last us a good month if necessary. I would also like to take ten tribals for each team, in case they can communicate with any indigenous people we might encounter.”
“Good idea. Will you be able to accommodate that many?” Commander Hughes questioned.
“Just barely. But it’s better safe than sorry,” Jake said.
“Ok. I trust everything is ready then. Galantine’s people are ready as well?”
“Standing by for the word,” Jake said.
“How is Mira taking the news?” Commander Hughes asked.
“Tanya. Staff Sergeant Jenkins told her that we were going on a trip. She has latched onto Jenkins as if she were her mother,” Jake said.
“And you’re the father,” Commander Hughes looked worriedly into Jake’s face.
“I guess. We are the ones, other than Galantine that spends the most time with her. Jenkins has begun to teach her how to speak English as well as read and write. She is an intelligent woman, even if the majority of her life was stolen from her,” Jake responded.
“Be careful. If Gilgamesh’s people are down there, they will have the same technology as he had. Keep your wits about you. Anyone with an implant could become an enemy and that comes from my discussions with Galantine,” Commander Hughes warned.
“We’ll be on our toes. That may be why Galantine has handed over all the energy weapons. He isn’t certain either how the Anunnaki will respond if they are on Earth.”
“Dropship Penelope, you are clear for separation in five, four, three, two, one, separate,” The command deck said.
The Penelope moved slowly from its couplings followed thirty seconds later by the Telemachus. The two drop ships pointed their noses towards the Earth and started a slow acceleration towards home. They chose near midnight to begin their descent in hopes that nighttime would mean fewer eyes to see their landing. At twenty-four thousand miles from Earth, the drop ships separated. Their flight paths had been plotted and they were descending into the relatively sparsely populated region of Northern Turkey and the Pampas Region of the later Argentina nation of South America.
Jake’s team was heading for Northern Turkey. Galantine Mira and Staff Sergeant Jenkins accompanied Jake’s team. Jake caught himself thinking more and more about Jenkins. The kiss had blindsided him as did the strike to his jaw just before the kiss. What was he to do about it all? They were on a mission thousands of years from their timeline. In reality, they didn’t have to follow orders from anyone but their sense of duty said otherwise.
Then there was Mira. A full-grown woman with the mental and emotional growth of a child. She looked to Jenkins and himself as her surrogate parents and Galantine as her uncle. What were they to do with her? What if the Anunnaki were on Earth in this timeline? What if they were able to access Mira’s or any of the others’ implanted devices? Too many ifs to think about. Jake tried to clear his head and focus on the mission at hand. A hundred-and fifty-nine individuals were looking to him to do his duty and find them a new home. Such a heavy weight for one man to carry and what of Commander Hughes, did he not have even more on his shoulders?
“Are you ok?” Jenkins asked as she caught him staring at her.
“Oh, I’m sorry. My mind is going in a thousand directions,” Jake said.
Jenkins leaned close to Jake’s ear.
“Damn, I was hoping you were thinking about how we could get some alone time. You’ve been really busy since we kissed. Are you trying to avoid me?” Jenkins asked, kissing his ear.
“Of course not,” Jake replied in a whisper, looking around to see if anyone had seen them.
Jake was grateful to see that everyone was either watching the monitors or staring out the observation window. But he couldn’t deny that he had feelings for Jenkins, he had them even before the mission to Mars had launched.
It all started the first day the crew of the Odysseus gathered at the GalaxyX corporate headquarters. Her no-nonsense attitude while training, her playful attitude when relaxing and the fact she was a combat veteran caught his eye. What piqued his interest was when he found out that she was a combat veteran as a sniper. What captivated him was her bright sparkling green eyes, shoulder-length dark blonde hair, and ample breasts that she tried to keep hidden under modest attire but fail miserably. Her hand-to-hand combat skills and how she could hold her own against any of the security force physically and mentally made her a valued friend. A bonus was the fact that she could drink almost all of the security force under the table and still be ready for a mission at a moment’s notice.
Penelope rocked as she entered the Earth’s atmosphere. Flames leaped past the view window. It was a harrowing experience as the drop ship assaulted the Earth’s atmosphere before it passed into the stratosphere.
“Where are we landing?” Jake asked the pilots.
“We’re trying for the Istanbul, Turkey region of Northern Turkey but we may have to land before then. A massive storm is bearing down on Northern Turkey,” The pilot said over his shoulder.
“Gotcha,” Jake replied.
Penelope was having issues with the atmospheric pressures and crosswinds. Unlike Ceres, Earth’s climate and weather patterns were constantly changing. The ship passed through a thunderstorm before the pilot was able to adjust their descent.
“Jake, change of plans. We’re sitting down in Central Turkey. It’s the only opening in this storm. You’ll have an hour to offload before we have to be in the air,” the pilot told Jake. “Touch down in ten minutes.”
“You heard the man. Once we have landed, everyone has to help unload. Security will do a perimeter sweep and return to lend a hand. Galantine and three of his warriors will be on guard duty while security is doing their sweep. Staff Sergeant Jenkins will be in charge until I return from the security sweep. Penelope has to be back in the air as quickly as possible. Move like we have a purpose, people.
The landing was a lot rougher than on Ceres but the drop ship taxied to a stop on an old dry lake bed. As soon as Penelope landed, the security and research teams were out of their seats. Security took half an hour to make a perimeter sweep around the landing site before returning to Penelope. The research team and Galantine’s people were already unloading the equipment and supplies. The drop ship lifted off ten minutes earlier than they had projected. It was a good thing as the storm seemed to target the landing site.
Jake and the team loaded everything they could on the Assault Vehicle and a foldable trailer. They also had ten solar-powered ATVs and two lightweight one-person helicopters. Once Penelope had lifted off, the team moved out to put as much distance between them and the landing site as they could in case any indigenous people had spotted the landing and were coming to investigate.
Odysseus made radio contact every thirty minutes to make sure communications were still working. By midday, Jake called the convoy to a halt along a river. He chose a site of high ground on the south side of the river that had a ledge that overlooked the river. The area around the site was fairly clear of trees and obstacles. Patrol towers were erected in the tree line where the trees became denser. The vehicles were put into a semi-circle with the back of the encampment overlooking the river. The smooth, muddy river wall was almost unscalable. Two sentries could defend that avenue of approach, if necessary, with the majority of the team able to focus their attention on the tree line.
About the Creator
Prior Service, saw the Berlin Wall dismantled and the aftermath of the Gulf War/ Desert Storm/ Desert Shield. He has drawn upon his unique views of life and science fiction to bring together an alternate reality of excitement.