"That means you are here to change history?" Avatar asked, "What about the paradox? What exactly is your mission in our time?"
"We are here to eliminate Aquarius. It is being used as a base for a Cybernetic race called the Cybertron that has enslaved the universe in our own time and destroyed Earth as their first conquest. It is because you have wave technology and is the only race that can stop them. So they returned to this time, to destroy you here, so they could win the galactic war back home."
"Oh." Avatar replied curiously, and he shook his head.
"Descend and land." Ihsss said, turning to the helm, "All hands brace for landing."
The ship hovered and a thud as the massive ship landed on the landing legs that touched the cement landing field.
"Power down complete." Veloxa said, turning and the crew was on their feet.
"Hi." Ihsss said, "Inform Earth Defense Headquarters We are down and ready to disembark." Outside the many pilots watched from the hangars, and near their planes, as the sleek Star Cruiser Class Starship descended. It is the size of the EDC Frigate, but visibly in need of a paint job after the many patches it received to fix its hull. There were many whistles and comments about the sleek craft.
Inside the ship, Hi'Mthsss turned to the Captain when she issued the command.
"Aye Captain," She replied and a few minutes later Ihsss, Felonious and Platt, along with Hi'Mthsss walked to the hatch on the side. It is here that the reptilian Captain pushed a button, and the gantry unfolded from the side of the ship. Her gaze turned to Avatar who stood next to them with several guards. The hatch hissed and opened, allowing the breeze to enter the ship, as well as the sunlight. Ihsss squinted, and she stepped out on to the gantry. Below, several platoons of soldiers and vehicles had surrounded their ship.
"A monster!" A voice said, and rifles were all aimed at Ihsss. Behind the guards, the Earth delegation and the maintenance crew, General Charles Singleton walked up toward the field with his top aides. Scientists also were on hand. Singleton squinted upward at the gantry and his eyes widened in surprise as Ihsss and her ragtag officers walked toward them, surrounding Captain Avatar. Ihsss stepped forward when guards stepped in front of them, their weapons lowered at them.
"Withdraw." Ihsss muttered, raising her hand. Beside her, their security guards went back up the gantry. At the top of the gantry, they took posts at the ship's hatch. Captain T'Larra, on the other hand, stood in front of Charles Singleton, the aides, guards and everyone. Each one of Ihsss' officers saluted formally. She glanced at a few of the pilots, who had come to stare at the occupants of this strange visitor. They had whistled and catcalled, but fell deathly silent when they saw the group.
"Captain Ihsss T'Larra, Commander of the SS Magellanic Clouds a ship of the Thyrnn Government." She said, stepping forward, "These are three of my officers. To my left, is the First Officer/Science Officer Felonious Purrtz, Standing on my right is my daughter, Hi'Mthsss T'Larra, Communications, and the ship's Doctor, Falora Platt."
Singleton nodded to each. "These are my aides Mitty Mc Donald and my Chief of Staff." General Singleton said, "Guards take your posts. Please this way." Around the entire vessel, guards of Space Marines took up positions, holding their rifles ready and dressed in battle gear.
"And, forgive me," Ihsss said suddenly, "Almost forgot. Someone you know, and know well." Her officers parted and behind her that Captain Avatar stepped forward.
There was a gasp by Singleton and the guards. Each one saluted formally. "Abraham!" Singleton breathed, "But how?"
"We found him on the bridge section of Yamato outside your solar system. It seems on the way a static charge revived the body after we sustained several direct hits." Ihsss said, "Our report is right here."
The reptilian Captain handed him a disk. "There is a report on a great armada that is headed this way, the disk contains data from our long range probes. Some serious heavy equipment is coming your way."
"Please." Singleton said, motioning to a jeep. They drove off the field. The crew of the Clouds was taken to Headquarters, where they were interviewed from which they told of the Armada. Analyzing the data, collected by their hop in the time continuum and by their probes, it revealed and confirmed Earth's worst nightmare as a fleet of ships raised up from the icy blue ball of Aquarius. The picture abruptly turned to static.
Ihsss walked with General Singleton, and together they headed to council chamber, from which their full report would be heard by the council. There were collective gasps that echoed through the council chamber and everyone stared in silence at the presenter of the information. Ihsss T'Larra herself. The reptilian woman stood clad in a uniform of the Thyrnn military, a dark blue tunic, pants and black boots, bearing the shiny gold bars on her collar despite the sleeve markings. Over her tunic, she wore a leather jacket that resembled the old style aviator's jacket.
"I am finished Sssirrr." Ihsss said with a nod, and she stepped back from the podium as the council sat staring at her in silence.
"We must act." Commander Singleton added, "If Ihsss is correct, this armada will be fifty times more powerful than the combined Dinguil Fleet, the Black Nebula Empire, the Bolar, and the Comet Empire. A battle, if we do nothing, will result in Earth's annihilation. We must start work on rebuilding the mechanized fleet, around the clock, and reactivate the finest crew of the EDC who would never give up a challenge."
"Have you located all of the Star force crew for reactivation to duty?" A councilman asked.
"I have, and already we are filling them in on what is happening." Singleton replied, "Including the Wildstar’s, who are on their last assignment, have been pulled from Mars, as well as others from Neptune and Uranus stations."
"Commander T'Larra, if I may, you did not specify how you ended up coming to this time." The President of EDC asked.
"We were tracking the armada ssssthips as it sssstarted their time warp. We were attacked, and upon destroying the sssscout, it opened up an anti-matter vortex and it dragged us and the remaining Cybertron into it.
"From how far in the future?" A councilwoman asked, "If I may be permitted."
"Sssix hundred years." Ihsss said, "All I am authorized to tell you that the battle you face is with a muchth sssuperior technology. With our joint effort we should be able to win the day. It will be much harder, I realize, without the Yamato." Ihsss met the council's reactions, with a silent toothy grin, knowing she had persuaded them into action and she nodded to Charles Singleton.
"I will gather my crew, and fill them in at once." The reptilian officer said, and with that she saluted formally. She glanced down at her wrist, speaking into the wristband that she wore there.
Hours later, Major Aquilera, and Lieutenant Commander Miller walked along the hall of headquarters, running a tad bit late for a briefing with a special-forces unit assigned to destroy Aquarius. As he makes his way down the sterile white corridor, he managed a glance at his chronometer and grimaced as he read the time. '15:57' the numbers said, and he let out a sharp exhale realizing he is almost twenty minutes late, held up elsewhere on the base.
The young officer is clad in the standard light blue, blue uniform and he carries a leather briefcase containing their orders from General Singleton. Seth beside him wears the standard green and black uniform of the Space Marines. The young officer carries a stern, cold expression on his face, focused on the task at hand, to destroy Aquarius. The only thing that troubled the young officer is the plan of attack, reviewing it earlier in the day after the meeting with General Singleton and his staff. He absently returned salutes as he passed others in the corridor.
Lieutenant Commander Miller and Major Aquilera both chatted informally about the order and strategy, both agreeing that something should be done to change their plan of attack.
The plan was to warp into the sector where Aquarius was located, and drop a team in a landing craft to the surface where they would plant charges to destroy Aquarius' Tritium Mine. The only trouble was it was in the middle of over fifty or more Cybertron warships that orbited planet, with dozens on the ground, including troops. In the conference room, his team waits for the briefing to start and Sergeant Major Perry quickly inspected the team, making doubly sure that everything is in order for the Lieutenant Commander assigned with the Major. Lieutenant Kino Minazaki stepped forward outside as the Major and Lieutenant Commander approached.
"Attention on Deck!" The Sergeant Major shouted and everyone was on their feet as Major Aquilera stepped into the room with Lieutenant Commander Miller. Everyone saluted formally.
"As you were…" The young Lieutenant Commander replied, casually returning the salutes and he stood at the head of the long conference room. He panned a glance at the surroundings and to the others in the team, clad in the green and black uniform of the EDC Space Marines. He smiled when he saw Sergeant Major, the only man in the stasis crew who turned down a promotion to a Warrant Officer. He took another couple of stripes, making it three up and three down. His reason was that it took more than just a rank to execute a mission. He nodded a silent greeting to the Sergeant.
“Who’s the new fish Major?” Corporal Hicks asked, and the Major motioned to the Lieutenant Commander.
"I am Lieutenant Commander Miller. I have been assigned as your pilot for the trip down and back.” He said formally.
“What happened to Warrant Officer McGowen?”
“He took up sick with measles from his youngest.” Seth said, “So I found a suitable replacement.”
There was a mutter from the gathered Marines, and a groan from them.
“Don’t let his appearance fool you, he may be a second officer aboard a Heavy Cruiser, he is the one who was part of a stasis group like me, and he can fight hard like the best Marine.” Seth snarled, “I can vouch for that, having known him for a long time.”
A respectful silence fell on the room and Seth nodded.
"Excellent, there are no questions or complaints. If everyone is ready then we can dispense the formalities and get right to it." The Major said sternly, sitting in a chair at the head of the conference room table.
He briefed them fair on the information at hand, given to them by the Magellanic Clouds crew, and in some detail of their objective, Aquarius. He noted the heavy hardware that would precede the invasion force, and the fighters that the Space Destroyers assignment to this task would encounter. Other information was clearly outlined for the mission objective and each stage of the drop.
"Who the hell setup the tactics for this mission?" Perry asked, "What they are asking here is suicide."
"The headquarters tactician team and intelligence unit set this up." Major Aquilera chimed in.
"You know that's an oxymoron, right?" Manual asked and the Major and Commander grinned broadly. Everyone read on, glancing at the overhead chart diagram related to the information on the page.
“What do you mean Sergeant Major?” Lieutenant Minazaki asked.
“I think what he means is how it should be is that it is better suited than warping into the sector and getting hammered by fifty plus to one odd. We need a ship that is equipped with a cloaking device or jamming device. It is the only way this is going to work is to get us in close to the drop point. The ship can stay in orbit, so long as it remains cloaked until extraction and with maybe a diversion to keep the enemy…” Nathaniel started.
"Attention!" A voice said, and everyone was on their feet again. The Lieutenant Commander turned to see General Singleton, Commander Mc Donald, Ihsss T'Larra, Felonious Purrtz, Hi'Mthsss T'Larra and Falora Platt enter the room. Major Aquilera was on his feet, moving toward the General and the Commander.
"As you were…" The General replied, motioning to the Clouds' crew to be seated.
"I apologize for being late," General Singleton said formally, "I'd like the Clouds' crew to be on the strike briefing."
"No problem, General." Major Aquilera replied, "We were just going over strike targets, and reconnaissance data."
"I heard your comments from outside. I hope you have a better solution than what was prepared by our tactics team?"
"I don't at this moment, sir." Major Aquilera said, and glanced at the Lieutenant Commander next to him.
"I see," Singleton replied, "Do you at least have a recommendation?"
"What we need is a ship that is either well armored like Yamato, able to take hits and keep on fighting, or a ship that is equipped with jamming mechanism, and/or a cloaking device. We also should have a task force, to keep the enemy busy, while we slip in to do the drop and recovery. So the Commander can get us in there, and drop us, and extract us when we are finished." Seth noted the reptilian Captain had a toothy grin on her face.
"I have a sthholution." Ihsss declared, "The Magellanic Cloudsss is sssso equipped. Sssset the Yamato crew in the Destroyer, with your task force to act as a decoy and lure the fightersssth and part of the task force off while the Clouds slips in and deposssitsss the team in atmosphere in their landing craft. Then standby, cloaked, until ready to evacuate and hit the detonator as we leave orbit."
"Detonator is set for ten mega-meters; I will up to fifteen and give us some leeway. Gunnery Sergeant Jeevers said, "I will have our resident tech set that up. Is there anything you all might need, besides the detonator and high explosives?"
"Let see, some night vision, goggles, infrared scanner, and various anti-personnel weapons that can be effective against Cybernetic targets." Lieutenant Minazaki chimed in, "Or the equivalent of equipment. I would recommend mainly claymore mines, which shoot out explosive charges for up to fifty feet. Just to cover our escape, if things get dicey."
"A wise precaution but we don't need to be bogged down with too much unnecessary equipment." Seth replied, "This is going be a fast in and out job and we're not taking on the ground forces if there are any. Maybe the guards and selected targets, but we are going to keep a low profile."
"Well we need to cover our tracks, if we alert the task force by removing those targets." Sergeant Major Perry replied icily, "Best to be careful."
"Very selective targets." The Major said, "I concede the point though, safety net if things get out of whack. I got that. This has to be done fast, smooth and cleanly."
"That looks good on paper, but when it comes right down to it, the grunts are going to get the brunt of the action." A corporal said gruffly and Manual shot him a dirty look.
"On that note, Major Aquilera and I will be in the trenches with you, not monitoring from ship bound." Lieutenant Minazaki replied, "I firmly believe in hands on support, and pulling my own weight."
"Great, we're going to be babysitting the brass kites instead. How many combat mission have you been on Major?" Another voice said sarcastically, and Manual cleared his throat in annoyance.
"Just so you know, the chances of us returning in one piece just doubled with the Major and the Commander on board." Sergeant Major Perry replied coldly, "They both can kick ass, and I have seem then in action. They got the skills to do the job. They don’t need punks like you to nurse maid them through their difficulties. Don't let their background fool you either."
"Yes Sarge." A sub servant voice replied, and he glanced at the smiling Major and the grizzled Lieutenant Commander next to him, in charge of the piloting of the landing craft.
"Keep it covert as possible." General Singleton suggested. "But keep an alternate plan, just in case things don't go well."
"Aye, we'll work on that and have something before the day is out." Seth replied, nodding.
For the next few minutes there was a bit of a Q&A session, getting the final details in order for the strike. Lieutenant Commander Miller stepped out on the balcony nearby, and gazed out over the futuristic city that he technically been reawaked in and now had been living a new life. Sergeant Major Perry joined him, as did Seth Aquilera.
“We’re almost ready gents.” He said, “I’m glad you are coming along with us Commander. I didn’t know you had so much technical support with this stuff.”
“Glad to do it.” Nathaniel said, “General Singleton I guess wanted as many people familiar with the project stasis chambers to be involved with the mission. I couldn’t leave you guys to have all the fun.”
Seth laughed as did Manual.
“You guys need to relax. Go to the hospital and spend quality time with your missus, Seth. You too Commander, we will be shipping out soon and the more you spend time you won’t miss them as much.”
“That’s a good idea Sergeant Major.” Seth said and grinned, glancing at his chronometer.
“You have developed a lot of wisdom for someone of your rank.” The Commander complimented.
“All part of the service, sirs.” The Sergeant Major replied and he offered a pack of cigarettes to the Lieutenant Commander and Major. They were a pack of Lucky Strikes ™.
“Don’t smoke.” Nathaniel whispered, and Manual lit up a cigarette, standing downwind of the Lieutenant Commander and Major on the balcony of the Earth Defense Headquarters. Together the two men stared out over the city, at the spectacular view.
They chatted over weather, and the future, and other topics but neither of them brought up the mission and what was ahead. The three of them had their doubts about the mission, but none of the three were prepared to discuss what lie ahead for their mission or group.
Manor Aquilera shook his head before he walked back into the conference room, followed by the Sergeant Major and the Commander. They took their seats. Sitting in the chair, the young officers turned his head to listen to General Singleton outline the strategy with the Clouds' Captain, partially Ihsss’ staff and the strike team. A few minutes later, the briefing broke, and Commander Miller walked down the sterile white corridor to a turbo-lift with the Major.
Arriving outside the lift, both men stepped onto the ward, in which they and the others who survived stayed for his stasis group. Only he and Angie were the last survivors of the Commander’s group and the seven of the new group. The two men chatted informally as they arrived bu t them they saw the ward, they remembered his time spent here well.
Here the young officers walked quickly toward the familiar nurse's station. They stood respectfully when they saw them. Nathaniel noted the familiar, youthful nurses who worked this floor with the head nurse, ones he recognized from his time here in the Federal Hospital himself. Major Downing glared at him, and muttered a growl at the others at the desk.
"As you were," Seth said quickly, flashing his coded identification, "Please, carry on." Commander Miller flipped out his as well.
Both passed the station, and Major Downing followed him.
“Hey! You two can’t come on to my floor, without checking in with me first or my staff to see people in this ward. You know that, it’s a restricted Ward.
"Major. My visit is not a social call." The Major replied, "I am coming from General Singleton, official business." She rolled her eyes, and scoffed silently at his statement.
"Just get your butts off my floor." She told him, "I can call security you know, you are not welcome here."
"Look, Major, I don't have to be here. You know, I can always report the uncooperative staff of the hospital to the General." Seth said sternly, "Just let me do my job and what I am ordered to do. He orders, we move, it's that simple. You of all people should understand performance of your duty." She grimaced at the statement and said nothing as the two men stood there.
The young Major, and Commander realizing their good moods had gone, tapped their hand on the uniform leg, and spun leaving her standing there. He had pointed out discipline, and carrying out orders of a superior officer.
The Major and Lieutenant Commander had a job to do. As they walked the familiar corridor, both saw Angie Stethem-Miller, the Commander’s new wife leaning on the door of their room. She was dressed informally, in a casual non-military outfit, a rather attractive attire of a red tunic and pants. She had the symbol of the EDC pinned on the breast of her jacket.
"Nathaniel!” Angie said, gasping as she saw him and embraced, kissing him quite passionately, "I was just thinking about you. Damn I miss you when you are working and wish those quarters were ready. I so want you right now."
“I know, honey, me too.” He replied, and grinned at her, kissing her on the lips, as he put his arm around her, sitting with her on a bench outside the room belonging to Emily and Denise. He eyed her curiously, at the attire. He noted no uniform. It was the first time he had seen her outside of a uniform and she was rather attractive in the new age outfit.
Angie eyed the Major, and grinned. “How are you doing Major?”
“Not bad, not bad. Is she in?”
“They are changing and showering.” The young Commander’s wife reported.
“Uhh I wish I was in there with her, damn it.” Seth muttered, and grimaced.
"Ah, so this a social call I take it?" The grizzled Commander asked and she nodded.
"How'd you guess?" She asked, and he shrugged.
"Your outfit gives you away." He replied gently, and she smiled at him. She spun in place and he managed an impressed nod.
"Don't you ever get out of that uniform Nathaniel?" Angie asked, "You ever let your hair down?" He grimaced, shaking his head.
“With this new project, they are running me ragged.” He complained and the new wife frowned.
“I still wish they would send someone else, beside You Seth and Manual.” She said, “We’re all hardly qualified to fight their war.”
“I know it, but orders are orders.” Major Aquilera said, “Unfortunately when it comes to Aquarius, we all know that system, and power source. Otherwise I would have declined.”
The Major frowned and shook his head.
"So what's the caper tonight?" Seth asked, and was almost afraid to hear her answer.
"Was planning to take Emily and Denise for a little R&R, get them away from the hospital for a while." Angie replied grinning, "I received Doctor Sane and Commander McDonald's permission of course. Amy and Melinda will be joining us, and so will Manual and Amanda. It is the last few nights with you fellas, so we should paint the town red.”
"Hrml, interesting." The young Lieutenant Commander replied casually, echoing the words of someone from a very long time ago, when he was part of a Bulletin Board System.
"Okay you can all come in." Emily called and the trio entered to stare at the familiar EDC uniforms. Both wore the familiar blue and dark blue uniform that Nathaniel wore. Both dubiously stared at the mirror in the room at the uniforms and both busily pinned the rank insignia, a set of gold bars for Lieutenant JG on their collars. Emily put on the insignia that marked her as a nurse. Denise pinned the symbol of as operations specialist on her collar for Radar/Analysis. The uniforms were cut properly, flattering the formidable curves of their bodies.
"Damn, you both look great in those uniforms." Angie complimented.
“Outstanding.” Seth said, and he whistled, “Hubba, Hubba, baby.”
Emily laughed, and blushed, as she walked toward and embraced her husband.
“So they let you out of Prison?” She asked, and Seth grinned.
“I’m scott free and clear from Headquarters.” Seth replied, “I am off-duty for two nights, just to spend quality time with you. They were quite generous after learning of our marriage.”
She laughed loudly and leaned over toward her husband. Seth kissed his wife passionately, hungrily and they held each other in the room. They broke and sheepishly grinned at Nathaniel, Angie and Denise who were looking on, as they chattered along in their small group.
"Uh, I hope we put these uniforms on correctly." Denise complained and glanced at Emily who was smiling.
“You both look sharp.” The Commander said, “Don’t worry.”
The two grabbed a pack containing their new identification cards and slipped on the dog tags around their neck to put them under the uniform tunic. Turning their heads, Nathaniel and Angie both were smiling too, nodding in approval. They spent a couple of minutes going over the new military courtesy how to salute and rank recognition.
"You really know your stuff, how long has your group been out of stasis anyway?" Denise asked casually and The Commander snapped his head to look at her.
"Oh we were only awakened last year." He replied, nodding, "Don't worry you'll learn the ropes quickly. It's not hard to survive the service."
"So, are you both ready for the good times?" Angie asked, politely interrupting, and both Emily and Denise turned their head to nod.
"Just like it was two hundred years ago?" Emily replied and there was a brief chuckle, "I can't wait, bring it on."
Together they walked toward the door and into the hallway. Angie led the way with the young Lieutenant Commander and Major as they headed toward the turbo-lift on the other side of the nurse's station.
"Curfew is ten hundred." Nathaniel said, "We'll try to have you both back here by then. There is one place I am going to take you both. I at least owe you both a look of a very special place here in this century." Angie perked up on Nathaniel's statement and she nodded, realizing he was talking about the memorial where everyone was buried. The turbo-lift cab arrived with a whoosh, and the doors slid open to reveal Amanda and Manual, Amy and Melinda.
"We got your message." Amanda said quickly, glancing at Denise and Emily with a smile. "Damn, you both look great in those uniforms. They really suit you."
"I wish more of us survived the whole damn project. Eddie would have liked this."
"For sure…" Amanda prompted, "Same with Sherry and the others."
"This way." Angie said, and they all stepped into the turbo-lift. She pushed the button for the lobby and the lift hummed into life as it moved quickly downward to the street level.
Together, in a group, they stepped into the large plush lobby of Federal Hospital. It is an open room with plush carpets, tiled walkways and furnishings throughout. It reminded both newcomers to this century of the Doctor's office they had been at in San Francisco, Presidio where they had been screened and accepted for stasis. Emily noted several guards posted in the lobby with thick battle armor and large nasty looking rifles as they stood guard.
Many times as they passed enlisted, and higher ranking officers who they returned the salutes formally. The Lieutenant Commander merely nodded his head or flashed a quick salute to them, despite their rough looking frowns. Outside on the street, they peered at the buildings that loomed around them, the scale much different from their perch high above them. Several Air-trams appeared into the sky as they moved on their courses to other cities. Glass tubes for the monorail system were high above them, and it reminded them of Disneyland in their century.
Seth crisply held the salute as he passed higher ranking officers, arm in arm with his wife who stood on his left.
"So what do you think of the city?" Angie asked them and both glanced at each other.
"It's big." Denise replied, "I didn't realize how big, until you are on the street level."
"Yeah, and it's a bit unnerving." Emily chimed in and the young Lieutenant Commander managed a chuckle. So did the Major who put his arm around his wife.
"We probably all were the same way. It took a guide for me if I had to travel around to other cities." He mused, "It was hard as hell to get used to, always forgetting where you are and what century you are living in. You will acclimate over time though."
"I know this is Federal City, but have you been home yet, Nathaniel?" Denise asked, "I know you were from the San Francisco area." He shook his head.
"My duties kept me busy a lot of the time when I am ashore. But usually I am aboard ship. I haven’t been home yet."
"So why the hell are you going on the strike team to this Aquarius, if you are assigned aboard a ship?" Denise asked, "That makes no sense."
"I have knowledge of the power sources for the stasis chambers and technical knowledge." Nathaniel replied gently, "They temporarily pulled me from my ship to assist in the strike because of that knowledge of the chambers, their power sources and because I am also from the twentieth century. I can’t let Seth and Manual go alone. It wouldn’t be right and Singleton knew that.”
"There's something else I can't wait to see." Denise said, "Actually serving aboard a ship in space. We were just entering space travel to Mars two hundred years ago. That's hard to believe."
"They have stations on all the planets, or orbiting stations. Ships and people actually serve in those places too." Angie explained. "Earth has advanced a lot since we were in the twentieth century."
Lieutenant Commander Miller nodded to his wife who led the way, and the group chatted, joked, laughed and carried on while on the main drag. The newcomers took in the sights of the city. There were whistles and catcalls from civilian clothed personnel who stood outside the surroundings disco-techs. Denise smiled at them. A few minutes later, Angie stopped at the entry of the restaurant they frequently had inhabited while in New Tokyo, the one they found on today's internet.
"We're here." She murmured and she opened the door.
'The Silken Rose.' The sign read and a smell of oriental cooking heavily permeated the air.
"Smells good," Denise said, "Hope they have good food."
“Oh they do indeed.” Nathaniel prompted and motioned to Angie as he opened the door. He allowed the ladies to step through first and stepping through the doors they stood before a podium in a rather large entry foyer that connects with the eating and service areas. The foyer itself has a fountain in one corner and a bench adjacent to it. Seating in the form of tables littered the room and booths along the windows. It is two levels and there is a sweeping staircase here, leading to the floor above them. Throughout the adjacent room that connects the foyer, it is decorated with many panels of brush paintings and ancient writings. The floor is tiled with a white decorative tile trimmed in blue. Plush dark maroon colored carpet lined the floor throughout the restaurant. Above them, old style Japanese lanterns hang from the ceiling to light the rooms. Angie turned to the young oriental man, who stood at the podium, holding menus and who nodded formally to the party.
"Haw many in your perty prease?" The host asked and Angie glanced at the group quickly. All were fighting a grin.
"Nine." Angie said, and the host nodded.
"One moment prease, I have to setup yaur tabre."
"Thank you." Angie replied, bowing slightly to the host who smiled at her.
"You know the customs well." Denise complimented making Angie smile as she motioned to a nearby bench and they all sat, laughing and talking amongst themselves. Many people, non-hilarious groups seated and unseated, frowned as they watched the rowdy group of people in the foyer. Laughter echoed through the room, as the Lieutenant Commander made a joke relating to the host that was about to seat them. The Major shot back a joke, and rowdy laughter echoed through the foyer.
"Dis way prease." The host said, and they all stood, and they followed the oriental man toward the corner table that was setup to seat all eight of them. Menus littered the table. Nathaniel and Seth held their chairs for their new wives, as Manual held the chair for Amanda. They took a seat a moment later. A young woman appeared at one end of the table with a touch pad.
"I am here to correct your drenk ordar." She said, and there was sharp laughter.
"Gee, didn't know there was anything wrong with it." Amanda spouted off and more laughter followed.
"I'll have a Rong Isrand Ice Tree." Nathaniel said and there were choked snickers among the group.
"Pardon me?" The lady asked and he frowned.
"You know a Rong Isrand Ice Tree?" He repeated and she frowned at him. He muttered a silent curse under his breath.
"Long Island Ice Tea."
"Ah-so, yes." She said, putting it on her pad.
"Beer." Manual said.
"Prum Wine." Amy said solemnly, with a dead pan straight face. More laughter echoed the room.
"Excuse prease?" The women asked, cocking her head apparently not getting the humor behind their responses.
"A grass of prum wine." Amy repeated, "Prease." The girl frowned, trying to understand the patrons before them.
"Jesus." Amy muttered to herself and out loud she spoke quickly. "Plum wine please."
"Make that two." Melinda said.
"Make that three." Amanda added.
"I'll do the beer thing too." Denise ordered.
"Tequira Sunrise." Emily said and there was a smile all around.
"Ah so, Tequira Sunrise." The woman replied, and she managed a grin at the group, suddenly understanding their humor. She realized they were teasing her, making fun of her accent.
"Scotch, neat." Angie ordered, "With a beer chaser."
“I’m in for a Beer too.” Seth said, and there was a grin.
The young woman nodded before she walked away and conversation resumed, also the hilarity at the table at the dismay of the other patrons. Their laughter echoed the restaurant, comparing notes on what they saw so far in this century. They shared humorous stories of their arrival into this century. When the drinks came, they all were distributed quickly and the waiter, a young oriental kid stepped up to the table.
"Can I rake your ordah?"
"Yes, so long as it's in a neat pile." Manual said jokingly and there was laughter among the group. Other patrons frowned at the table containing the stasis volunteers, quickly finishing their meal and leaving. Soon the area around them was empty except for a few patrons. Orders were taken quickly and the discussion continued, turning to sex in the twenty-third century. It was a topic that was not appreciated by a full Colonel who sat two tables over with his wife and four children. Two older ones wore the uniforms of the EDC and two younger ones sat beside them.
"…I wonder if that's possible in zero-G. That would kind of get a bit weird don't you think?" Manual said with a laugh.
"Nah probably it's done the same way. We can always try during the moon flight, on our time off together." Amanda commented followed by loud laughter from the others.
"Whoaaa, Jesus, get a room you two." Denise laughed.
"Been trying, but there is no time." Amanda replied drunkenly and there was laughter and banter among the group.
“Shit, I can’t wait till Em gets out of the Hospital. It gets lonely in those quarters of mine.” Seth said, “Hopefully soon right dear?”
“Doctor Sane said in a few weeks.” Emily replied and there was a smile by Seth.
“That’s why god made Rosy palm and his five daughters.” Manual spouted, and there was laughter, and banter to follow.
Sitting at the table the Colonel glanced many times at the group of stasis volunteers, grimacing annoyed at the trash talk and taboo topics while they waited for their meal. They drank at least two rounds of alcoholic beverages as they waited for their food. The Colonel, finally fed up, shook his head had pushed back his chair and walked toward the group sitting two tables over from them.
"Excuse me, Lieutenant Commander and everyone." The Colonel said formally, and Nathaniel looked up in surprise, staring at the birds on the green and black collar that now stood at his elbow. He quickly deciphered the ranking recognition.
"Yes, Colonel," He replied after a moment, addressing the superior officer "How may I be of service, SIR." A quick hush fell over the group, as they turned their heads respectfully.
"Your voice is carrying, a topic I rather not have my young children overhear you and your party flap your big mouths about."
"It happens to be a public place Colonel, but we will try to keep it down a touch, and maybe keep the topics PG rated." Nathaniel offered and he turned his head back to the group. The high ranking officer shook his head.
"Consider it an order and I prefer it as a courtesy to STAND, when you address a superior officer." He droned, and Nathaniel frowned to slowly stand.
"I know who you all are. You should not be wearing those uniforms." He said with a touch of disrespect, "You didn't earn them. Not in this military boy. You are all dinosaurs in comparison and are hardly all EDC material. I'll see to it you people don't last in this man's military."
"Oh I heard an asshole boy." Manual said, pushing away from the table, as did Seth and Amanda readying for action.
"With all due respect, Colonel," Nathaniel said with a snarl, "Fuck you… Sir…"
He snapped off a fast salute with the middle finger extended and there was a brief pause, as he turned his back on the officer. At first there were surprised looks on the faces of the stasis group, their jaws dropping open in awe at what was just said by the young officer, and their friend. A low hush rounded the table, as smiles appeared on the stasis member's faces. They stood up a moment later, applauding the Lieutenant Commander. He smiled back and bowed slightly at the waist.
The stunned Colonel stammered and sputtered as his face turned dark purple with rage. "How dare you speak to me in that manner, do you know who I am?"
"No who… The pope?" Manual spouted off and there were snickers among the members of the stasis group. The Lieutenant Commander put up his hand calling for silence.
"Colonel Samuel Allen Jackson, Saturn Station." He rasped, "Your, er… a superior officer."
"Yea? Bully for you. I'll have you know, Heir Colonel, we did earn these uniforms and we are definitely the kind of people you'd want as EDC material. We fucking aye earned it, putting our asses on the line for Earth, king, country by risking two hundred years and possibly death in that deep freeze." The Lieutenant Commander snarled belligerently, "And what did we get for it? We lost fifteen people, good men and women in that bloody stasis project between two groups. As well we lost two hundred years, our friends, our families, everything we cared about, a home and got a world that totally forgot about us. That's what we got, we got screwed, blew, and tattooed at the same fucking time. You welcome us home, with some fucked up bullshit like this. Nice fucking welcome, nice fucking century. With all due respect, which I have none, you are an asshole, sir."
"Doo rah." Manual replied, glancing at the stunned expressions on the stasis member's faces and then to the hard expression of the Lieutenant Commander, his friend and high school buddy of long ago. A stunned silence moved across the room, as the Colonel stammered, his face turning purple with rage again. Nathaniel paused as he glanced at the group, then to the room at the others present. His comments had drove the point home, to remind them all that there was a lot of life lost among the stasis crew and sacrifice made to protect Earth, just like the many who died in the Star Force. Everyone had forgotten that fact, and he merely reminded them. There were stunned expressions on a lot of the faces present, and regret on a few of the others, his point very clear to the situation at hand.
"I think we are done here gang." Nathaniel said, turning to his friends and they nodded slightly, as they stood in silence. Here, the young Lieutenant Commander flipped out bills of the new currency to pay for the meal that they had not even received yet, and for the drinks that were not quite finished before they filed out into the street. Seth held his wife’s arm as they exited the building.
"I want to go find a bar and drink till I am not sober." Nathaniel said sternly, "To forget that asshole's face. What a fucking jerk, I surely wanted to pop him a new one. It would have been worth a haul in the brig, being a higher rank or not."
"I'd be right with you too, skip. Who was that guy anyway? He had a lot of fucking nerve." Manual asked.
“Same here.” Seth grumbled, “If you wouldn’t have said something, I would have popped that jerk. What a hypocrite.”
"He's one of the battalion Commanders of Saturn Station." Angie replied, "He's a stickler, every times he comes to Earth the EDC hops to. They give him spit and polish or you hear him bitch from lower ranks to upper echelons. The Command Generals listen to him. He's some great hero and tactician within the EDC. He could cause you great grief, now that you told him what you think of him."
"He's an idiot." Amanda murmured, "We did nothing wrong, but have a normal conversation. Even though we were, I admit, getting a bit rowdy. But when did that stop us before though, when we were together painting the town red in San Francisco?"
"Hey it's us." Melinda replied, "Old and new friends on our first meal together as friends, together again after two hundred years… That guy just needs to pull his head out of his ass and cut us a little slack."
"You certainly gave them something to think about." Angie mused and Nathaniel turned his head to smile.
"I meant every fucking word too." He replied.
Turning, the group heard conversation and music. A crowd of people stood outside a bar, drinking and talking. They went toward it.
"Hey wait up!" A voice shouted, as several uniformed officers, patrons while in the restaurant who were there around when the Colonel walked up toward them, all carried bags. They handed them to them.
"You all forgot your meal." A Lieutenant told them, "Don't worry the boys and I settled up for you at the bar. You guys have some brass balls, excuse me ladies, for standing up to Colonel Bonehead, Jackson." The stasis group smiled at the politeness of the youthful officer. "So where are you all headed, it's early for heading in."
"To the Nearest Bar, sir." Manual spoke up, and there were smiles as they pointed to the bar they were walking toward.
"Ironic that is the hottest bar that EDC inhabits." He told them. "Come with me, the first round is on me." There was a cheer by the group as the mingled with the officers and enlisted that had seen the fight at the Silken Rose. As they stepped in, the place was crowded with uniformed personnel, and not. A few of them glanced at the door as the stasis personnel entered and some stepped aside allowing them to head to the bar.
"Hey look it's the group from the past!" A voice said, and the room fell to a hushed silence as applause thundered among the uniformed personnel.
"I am buying you the first round on us." A full Commander declared, "For your bravery and service for Earth. You guys are the bravest people I have ever met, second to the Star force and deserve a top brash welcome into the century the right way."
"With thanks." Nathaniel said formally.
“Fuck ya.” Seth said, and the banter started up among the group.
"…And for telling Colonel Samuel Allen Jackson where to fricking go." Another voice said and laughter followed. "He'd the hardest dick in the EDC and you stood up to him. That takes some huge brass balls to do that."
The speaker paused sheepishly, glancing at the ladies among the stasis personnel and nodded. "I was speaking figuratively of course… with my apologies ladies."
"Don't worry about offending these ladies of stasis they probably could take you down before you could say Jack Robinson." A voice said, and heads turned to see Alex Sandor who walked toward them all, raising his hand in greeting.
"Apparently news gets around." Seth said to his group and there were smiles among them, "Looks like we're famous." He put on his aviator glasses and he moved to the bar where beers were put in their hand. There was laughter among the stasis volunteers. The conversation moved through the bar like wildfire.
"A toast," A voice said, "To the bravest men and women in the EDC and the newest sensation. May they have profitable careers, long lives and welcome home!"
"Thank you all." Nathaniel and Seth replied simultaneously, holding up the beer mug before they all downed it as a cheer echoed the bar. Laughter followed as conversation resumed and they stood drinking, clearly welcomed by the personnel in the bar. Turning his head Manual grinned when he saw Cory Conroy, Dash Jordan, Christopher Eager, Homer Glitchman and Chief Yamazaki standing at the bar. All found their way to the stasis personnel and Sandor clapped the Lieutenant Commander on the back.
"How are you doing there, Lieutenant Commander? How bout it Major?" Sandor asked and Nathaniel turned, grinning as did Seth.
"Not bad, you sir?" He replied, "The mission ship out date is in a couple of days, are you all ready?"
"Yea, all set and briefed, we set about the Heavy Space Cruiser Whirlwind tomorrow and get situated with the crew and the Captain."
Nathaniel nodded and he turned to the barkeep. "Keep them coming, our plan is to wake up in the alcohol ward and love every minute of it!" Laughter and cheers followed as the Major chugged another beer as they chanted.
"I like your guy's style." A voice complimented.
"We got a secret admirer!" Manual boasted, holding up a mug and handing it to the speaker who smiled broadly. Music resumed, as stories and conversation moved through the bar, making the stasis personnel feel welcomed by their peers. Better than what they got with a certain Colonel. They inhabited a back table where they feasted on the Japanese Food from their first stop and continued with the beers, bought by many of the patrons.
But little did they know that would all change with the formation as this new time progressed forward.
To be Continued – Part two