Copyright (c) 2018 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.
By R. Peterson
The massive starship moved out of reverse light speed halfway through sector 187439 and the ship’s navigator, Teuth, plotted a course that would take the crew of the Centurion to the outer edges of the Milky Way galaxy and to First Officer Jeff Bland’s home planet Earth. “What’s this I hear about Keeper taking us home?” Bland demanded of Teuth. The junior officer had just returned from a rest and relaxation period in biosphere seven and he sported an all-over tan from the synthetic oceans and beaches.
“It’s not my home,” the land adapted cephalopod told him, “and Keeper had no choice. The Admiralty on Mateuse 17 ordered us to pick up an exotic specimen for their scientists to study.”
“Really? What? Some exotic bat from the Brazilian rain forests?” Jeff asked, and without waiting for an answer, babbled on, “perhaps I’ll get a chance to visit my old home town, look up some old friends. I can see myself now cruising up and town Townsend Avenue in my fifty-six Bel Air … driving all the girls crazy with my good looks and sex appeal! I can’t wait to find out what’s been happening on good old Earth while I’ve been gone!”
Jeff was standing next to what he called the gum ball machine, a globe on a stand filled with hundreds of much smaller spheres. Each of the spheres contained water and an exotic species drastically reduced in size by Keeper’s advanced technology to a manageable form. He took three of the spheres from the globe and began to juggle them as he danced across the control room floor singing … I’m going home I’ve done my time …”
“You retarded Maloovian Sand Blap!” Leika had just stepped from the inter-ship-level transporter and snatched the three balls away from Bland. “Each one of these exotic species weighs at least two thousand tons in its non-emaciated state and eats a forest of Ligortass cabbage every sixteen hours!” She smiled. “They have been known to consume human flesh.” She floated across the control room floor, moving like something out of a love sick sailor’s dream. Jeff found himself wanting to follow her … he fought the urges. “I should have let you break one of these containers … then perhaps you’d learn to respect what you don’t understand!” The Organic Science Officer placed the globes back into the larger sphere and then spoke to Teuth. Bland kept his back turned and avoided her eyes. Porosities species like Leika had the dangerous ability to hypnotize people and make them do things they normally wouldn’t … usually something of a sexual nature … you didn’t want to get on their bad side.
“How long before the time fusion reaction happens?”
Teuth was moving his hand through an array of light beams suspended above his control panel. “We won’t know the exact time until we get a dimensional lock,” he said. “My guess would be sometime in the next thirty-seven minutes, twenty-five seconds.”
“Time fusion?” Jeff Bland had been a member of the crew of the vessel that acquired rare and exotic species for intergalactic zoos throughout the universe for some years now but had never heard that term.
“We’re going back in time, brain-lag!” Leika laughed and looked in his direction. Jeff quickly turned so she couldn’t make eye contact. She taunted him anyway with her sultry voice. “Hopefully you’ll enjoy running through the jungles of your old Earth just as much, screaming and driving all the monster-sized carnivorous crazy with your good looks and tasty appeal!”
“Teuth! Can you tell me what she’s talking about?” Jeff was beginning to feel nervous.
The door to the transporter opened and Keeper answered for his navigator. “I’m sending you and Leika back precisely one-hundred fifty-three million, six-hundred and eighty-seven thousand four-hundred and thirty-four years, twenty-three days, eleven-hours and forty-nine seconds Earth time to acquire a specific species of Saurischia for a Mateuse 17 exhibit. The Zavontian crystals used for time travel and delivered to us under armed guard are beyond priceless. We mess this up and we’re out of the zoo acquisition business.”
“Don’t tell me we have to capture a dinosaur!”
“Not just any Theropoda,” Leika said. “An Allosaurus! Possibly the most dangerous animal to ever stalk prey on your planet,” she added.
“Think of it as your basic Tyrannosaurus Rex on steroids,” Teuth added. With a quick movement of his hand in the light array the engineer projected a holographic image of a huge beast in the air above the control room. They watched in awe as the monster tore the flesh off from an even larger animal.
“I don’t want to do it,” Jeff wined. “Not with Leika … she’s more dangerous than anything from the late Jurassic period.”
“Intergalactic law prohibits us from acquiring any species without a representative of the host world in attendance,” Keeper said. “You’re the only person from Earth on this vessel and as our Organic Science Officer she must be there when the specimen is captured.”
“So how are we going to capture this beast from hell?” Jeff was feeling more nervous by the minute.
“Easy you shrink it, put it in a marble sized globe and bring it back in your pocket!” Keeper laughed at the expression on his first officer’s face.
“I have a feeling it’s not going to be that easy,” Jeff moaned.
Thirty-six minutes, fifty-five seconds later, Teuth announced to the crew of the Centurion that a dimensional lock had been achieved and directed the crew to prepare for a time fusion reaction. “What exactly is happening here?” Jeff was lowering himself into a hibernation chamber used for long voyages.
“Three Zavontian crystals absorbing and reflecting the same light stream allow anything inside the triangle to slide through a vortex fracture into a parallel-running dimensional stream. Since there are an infinite number of streams both moving faster and slower than our reality it’s just a matter of micro mathematical calculations to achieve the desired time period.”
“Then it’s possible to move into the future?”
Keeper laughed. “I am from the future … and we’re all going there … only much more slowly!”
“Why the deep sleep?”
“This is just a safety precaution,” Keeper said. “In case one of the Zavontian crystals shatters and we’re left floating between dimensions.”
“That sounds bad! How do we get out of something like that?”
“I have no idea.” Keeper was adjusting the temperature of his hibernation fluid. “Like I said it’s just a precaution. “I just think it’s better to sleep in limbo for a few hundred million years than be dead for that long!”
The safety instructions, projected by a tiny holograph, inside each sleep chamber said to keep your eyes closed but Jeff couldn’t resist looking. The walls on the hibernation level appeared to become fluid and then swirl toward the center like water flowing down a drain. Colors first became brighter and then merged to become new and more brilliant light spectrums. Now instead of three primary colors … there were nine. Music mixed with spoken words to become the sound of euphoria. I’ve been here before on LSD! Jeff grinned just before a blanket of darkness covered everything.
“What did you think?” Keeper was standing outside Jeff’s sleep chamber as the fluid was drained from his capsule.
“About what?” Jeff moved under a photon particle shower to clean and dry off.
“The new colors! New sounds! New sensations! Wasn’t it a bit like hearing the Beatles for the first time?”
“What makes you think I opened my eyes?” Jeff was dressing.
Keeper laughed. “Because I know you.”
“It was like being born or dying … I can’t really decide.”
Keeper led him toward the transporter. “I’m always amazed at your advanced perception. Come on; let’s see if Leika and the shuttle are ready.”
A moment later they were standing on the master control deck. Suddenly the walls appeared to vanish and they could see the Earth before them rotating slowly. “It looks like the same old Earth,” Jeff said looking at the blue water and white clouds.
“If you’ll look loser,” Keeper said you’ll notice that North and South America are much closer to Europe and Africa, and are out of your current alignment. Also look where your home state of Montana should be!”
“That looks like a huge ocean cutting North America in half!”
“It is. The Great Salt Lake in Utah is all that remains of this inland sea in your time.”
Leika was already strapped into the shuttle when Jeff arrived. “I hope you know how to swim,” she said.
“Why?” Jeff took a moment to become familiar with the controls.
“Because you obviously don’t know what you’re doing and we’ll probably crash into the ocean.”
“Then why don’t you fly this thing?”
“I would, but someone has to look for our target.” Leika placed a helmet with a special visor on her head that allowed her to use her eyes as extremely high powered binoculars.
“Are you ready?” Jeff ignored her remarks.
“I’m always ready!” Leika laughed and Jeff was becoming more nervous by the second. “The question is … are you?”
A few minutes later they were skimming over the surface of a vast ocean. Nothing remarkable happened until they were near a shoreline. The shuttlecraft was flying about fifty feet above the rippling waves when suddenly something that looked like a monstrous crocodile with fins leaped from the water and almost swallowed the twenty-foot long craft whole. “What the Hell was that?” Jeff barely maneuvered the craft out of its snapping jaws.
“It appears to be a species of Brachauchenius,” Leika watched with her telescopic vision as the monster plunged back into the water, “but a much larger specimen than the data collected from your Earth led us to believe.”
Leika told him to turn north. “Let’s try landing near the base of those mountains.”
“When did you people start collecting data from Earth?” Jeff stretched his fingers to keep them from shaking.
Leika laughed. “A long time ago! Scientists from Mateuse 17 first set up an automated data collection device on your Earth’s moon around 2500 BC. They monitored your planet and millions of others from their home. For thousands of years they thought there was no advanced technology on your planet. They moved the device to the dark side of the satellite when they realized you had finally discovered telescopes a couple of thousand years ago. Then in the 1920’s they began picking up radio transmissions and within a year they knew most of your languages. Two decades later, they began to receive primitive television broadcasts and finally knew what you looked like. They were all surprised that you weren’t a bunch of monkeys.” Leika put her hand over her mouth and stifled a giggle. “When they watched a program called I Love Lucy they decided that you were idiots.”
“Then when you met me, I guess I changed your mind …” Jeff was looking for a place to land the craft.
“No, I thought they were wrong all along!” Leika smiled. “Then I met you … and had to admit they were right after all.”
Jeff turned to glare at her and just then something very large struck the craft sending it into a spin. The Centurion’s first officer was disoriented for a moment. They seemed to be right in the middle of a large flock of monster sized birds. All he could see were feathers and talons large enough to pick up an automobile. Leika reached over and activated a switch on the console.
“What did you do?” Jeff was frantically trying to stabilize the craft.
“I put all the power to a cushioning shield,” she told him. “Thank your God you didn’t crash us in the water.”
The Centurion shuttle craft struck the ground and bounced like a ball, coming down a second time and crashing through a grove of trees before plunging through a swamp, rolling across a meadow and banging into the side of a rock cliff.
Other than being dizzy and disoriented, Jeff was amazed that neither he nor Leika were injured.
“That was better than the roller coaster at Coney Island,” he blurted.
“I hoped you liked it,” Leika said. “We’re stuck here for at least twelve hours until the drive systems recharge!”
“We have no power at all?”
“When I said all power to the shields I meant everything!” Leika opened her door.
“What were those things?” Jeff found himself in a dry wooded area, not the steaming jungle he had imagined.
“I think those creatures are what we came looking for,” Leika told him. She was removing equipment from the back of the shuttle.
“But those things looked like birds,” Jeff objected. “I thought we were looking for a Tyrannosaurus Rex on steroids!”
“You Earth people’s conception of dinosaurs always has the monsters resembling giant lizards,” Leika smirked. “Haven’t you ever looked at one of the fossilized skeletons you erect in your museums and compared it to what you have left in the center of your table after your thanksgiving dinner?”
“They do look similar,” Jeff said. “But those short arms near the front …”
“Wings,” Leika said. “Not the wings of an eagle … more like those of a poultry species. No long flights, but enough of a lift to get to a roost or out of trouble.”
“All this time I was worried,” Jeff laughed. “I thought we had to capture some ferocious monster … now I find out all we have to do is capture an oversized Foghorn Leghorn!”
“Remember these creatures have teeth,” Leika told him as she set up what looked like laser guns on mounted tripods to create a large rectangular area of coverage. “And to them you’re just another bug.”
“So what do we do now?”
“I stay here,” Leika said. “You climb to the top of that cliff when it gets a little dark. We don’t think they see very well at night. I think there is probably at least one nest up there. Get one of these Allosaurus to chase you … no males, we want a female. Make sure you lead her into the center of this triangle so that I can shrink it to a manageable size … then all we have to do is wait for the shuttle craft’s power cells to recharge.”
“How am I going to get one of those big chickens to chase me?”
Leika smiled. “Take one of its eggs.”
The light was beginning to dim when Jeff set off. Leika spent her time constructing a crude camp some distance from the capture area and had built a shelter that looked like an igloo made of tree limbs and leaves. She was gathering wood for a fire. “Remember, no males!” Leika told him. “They run much faster than the females and are even more ferocious!”
It was almost dark by the time Jeff found the nests. Each pile of sticks and leaves was as large as a small house and had what looked like a truck-sized hen sitting on it. They appeared to be sleeping. The only sound was a low clucking almost like breathing.
“This is going to be just like gathering eggs back on the farm in Cloverdale,” Jeff muttered to himself.
He could make out one of the eggs under the fluffy feathers and it was as large in diameter as a truck tire. He tried pulling on it but the egg wouldn’t budge. Finally he found a broken tree limb and used it to pry it out from under its would-be-mother.
“That wasn’t so bad,” Jeff almost laughed as he rolled the egg back the way he’d come following the edge of the cliff. “I’ll just get a big head start and then I’ll wake up the bird!” He stopped long enough to fill his pockets with large stones.
He was almost ready to throw a stone when he heard crashing in the trees. What looked like an eighteen foot tall enraged rooster came thundering toward him flapping wings as big as ship sails and snapping its tooth-filled beak. There was no time to react. His only path of escape was blocked by the monster. He turned and rolled the egg and himself over the cliff edge.
Jeff plunged at least twenty feet before being slowed by tree branches. He was aware of the egg bouncing along beside him and also the rooster that was chasing close behind as he tumbled down the cliff side. When he reached the bottom, adrenaline had him up and running even though he was battered. He could see the fire burning from Leika’s camp and he ran for it. A giant beak snapped first on his left and then on his right … missing him by inches. He stumbled on something and began to roll just as he reached the camp.
Leika was there holding what looked like a huge torch made from the branch of a tree. The green spines on her head that resembled hair were all now standing erect. The Porosities was in fighting mode. Leika jammed the fire toward the Allosaurus and there was a shriek followed by the smell of burning flesh and feathers. “Learning to make fires was the only thing that kept your weak Earthlings from going extinct,” Leika said as the monster retreated.
“Sorry,” Jeff said. “I guess I messed up big time.”
“You messed up,” Leika agreed. “But you have to be one of the luckiest men I’ve ever met.” She pointed toward the capture area. The egg Jeff had stolen had rolled just past the center of the triangle. A large hen clucking angrily was stalking toward her stolen property. A second later Leika activated the shrinking device and for the next twenty minutes Jeff searched in the grass for the marble sized globe … finally with a little more of his luck he found it.
Jeff and Leika sat together under the shelter that she had constructed. They were sitting much closer than Jeff had ever thought possible. The moon shown down on a primitive Earth sleeping softly before the thousands of centuries of technological turmoil to come. The huge egg sat between four rocks slowing cooking over the red hot coals. “I hope you’re hungry,” Leika said. “I found a few edible roots and herbs to go with our omelet … and I’ve made plenty.”
For the first time since Jeff had known the exotically beautiful alien he was able to relax. “I must admit I was a little scared to come on this mission with you,” he said. He could feel her leg pressing against his and he was strangely aroused. “But you surprised me. Not once have you used your hypnotic powers to make me do something … humiliating!”
“It wasn’t my fault,” Leika grinned. “Keeper didn’t want any trouble so he made me wear this arm-band that only he can remove.” She raised her hand to show him an iridium coated bracelet that he hadn’t noticed before.
Jeff gasped. “Thank God,” he said, wondering what might have happened if Leika had been left to her own devices.
Leika smiled. “But just wait until we get back to the ship!”