Tuesday, July 8, 2014

When Johnny Comes Marching Home---Part One.

 (Important author's note: This story is pure fan fiction! All the concepts and ideas are the creation of a fantastic writer by the name of S.M. Stirling. Several years ago Mr. Stirling pondered the effect on history if Americans loyal to the British Crown migrated to south Africa instead of Canada. Add even more arch-conservative refugees in later years, namely unrepentant Confederate Americans nursing a significant grudge and you have the makings of a nightmare called the Domination of the Draka. 

The various books based on this premise caused someone to describe Mr. Stirling as the "H.P. Lovecraft of political science." His imaginary creation, and thank God for that, are a people forged for nothing but war and conquest and the will to see their desires through to the end no matter how many they kill. I write this with no exaggeration that these imaginary Draka have given me nightmares. I offer this fan fiction for others like myself who would have very much likes to see those fictional monsters defeated. I will provide a link to his books at the end of this post.)  

For any casual observer that had some understanding of the often quirky workings of the Pentagon it was nothing unusual to see a group of sullen men and women dressed in either civilian attire or military uniforms standing outside an undistinguished conference room apparently waiting for someone to allow them inside. The normal assumption would be that some star-wearing officer with delusions of godhood had organized yet another boring discussion panel to promote his or her pet project that was sure to save the nation in some fashion. For those civilians and military personnel waiting in front of conference room sixty-nine a closer observation to the details would have revealed some disturbing differences to the usual redundant meetings those permanently inhabiting the Five Side Funny Farm was known to promote.

The most obvious was the extreme early hour of the morning, one or two of the civilians would occasionally look at their watches and mutter something about no sane person would be awake at this hour and that this better not be some damn practice drill or false alarm. That sort of comment would quickly earn the offending civilian a silent but stern look of rebuke from a couple of the military types. But yes, for the military officers in the gathered group the early hour of the morning was indeed a bad omen.

The civilians did in fact notice the second unusual thing about the gathering, namely that they were all physicists of some type and in fact many were colleagues on research projects around the world. What none of them mentioned through was that they were all under contract with the Department of Defense for emergency consultations. The fact that over the years all of them had at one time or another been pulled out of their warm beds for practice drills kept their natural suspicions at bay.

The third difference were the three armed Marine guards standing in front of the two large mahogany doors leading into the conference room, not an uncommon occurrence except for their obvious level of extra alertness. The conference room itself was also somewhat different than the scores of others in the Pentagon, situated on relatively deserted section of the massive building it was rarely used. However, its lack of use was never more than an afterthought by anyone passing it by on their way to a more populated and active section of the building. As the years passed, the room had faded into the background and now went unnoticed, few would have guessed that was the whole intention of those who ordered its construction.

Without warning the two doors for the conference room began to slide open, at the same time the three Marine guards stepped aside to allow those waiting to go inside. As they walked into what looked to be a medium-sized auditorium a few of the civilians noticed that the mahogany doors were extremely thick and that the opposite side was made of metal. Just on the other side, a junior officer greeted each civilian and then escorted that person to a seat reserved just for him or her. Those civilians who worried that they may have been awaken and pulled from their homes for some false alarm or practice drill began to think that this time the situation might be different given that on previous occasions they had never entered such a secured room with such extreme formality. For the military types in the group, they had long since realized something serious was afoot and took the solemnity in stride. It took thirty minutes for the entire group to be seated, but during that time enough of a realization had spread among the normally talkative and unruly civilians that the room remained silent.

Without notice a four-star Air Force general abruptly walked out onto the stage followed by five civilians who all looked as if they had seen a ghost. A few of the civilians in the audience recognized the people up on the stage with the general as colleagues from their university's history department but said nothing. The civilians who accompanied the general took seats on the stage while he walked up to the podium placed in the center and began speaking.

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen,” the senior Air Force officer said with a seriousness that actually began to scare a few in the audience. “I am General Scott McDonald of the Defense Intelligence agency,” he continued, “and the first thing I want you all to clearly understand this is not a drill and that everyone will be held to the top secret security clause of their consulting contracts. This is a level five-alpha briefing, which everyone should understand carries with it possibility of life imprisonment or even the death penalty for violators.” The general paused for dramatic effect while looking out at his captive audience, absolutely none of the civilians had the courage to protest his explicit threat.

“The historical information,” General McDonald began again, “you are about to see and hear has all been verified by the men and women behind me. Each one of them are experts in eightieth-century America from the late colonial period to the years after the Revolution leading up to the establishment of the Constitution. I'd advise each and everyone of you to keep your mouths shut and your minds open. At the end of these proceedings, everyone should have an idea of the unprecedented but bizarre threat that the United States and the world as a whole faces. But first, Colonel Ellen Marcus will give a small briefing explaining how this surreal situation first developed.”

As if on cue, just as the general stepped aside, a stately African-American woman wearing a similar Air Force uniform walked out on the stage to take the spot behind the podium. “Getting down to business,” she said, “ I am Colonel Marcus, current head of installation security at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex located outside Colorado Springs. As you probably know, for decades the complex housed under Cheyenne Mountain was the center for the North American Aerospace Defense Command because of its ability to take a near direct hit from a nuclear weapon and survive and for its total security. With one point for both entrance and exit, we have never had a cause or reason to worry about someone we didn't authorize from gaining access, until now. The following event took place approximately three weeks ago on one of the lowest levels of the facility used for storage.”

Colonel Marcus stepped aside long enough for a motorized video projector screen to be lowered from the ceiling above the stage. A second later, a black and white video security surveillance feed appeared showing a large warehouse room filled with various pallets stacked with boxes along with large containers all neatly organized to provide plenty of space to allow for access. Like all security videos, the time and date, along with location information was placed up in the left hand section of the screen.

The audience watched the recorded video feed for almost a minute seeing nothing in the way of activity. The seconds ticked by several were heard to loudly exhale in annoyance until a bright ball of light appeared in the lower right-hand section of the screen. An automated tracking mechanism adjusted the position and focus of the camera until the the disturbance occupied the center of the screen. The ball of light quickly grew in size and brightness almost overwhelming the camera's ability to compensate.

When the ball expanded enough to touch some of the nearby containers small fires were sparked with automatic sprinklers coming on to extinguish them, on the video feed new information popped up but it was incidental the final result. Once the ball of light reached its maximum size, it quickly faded to nothing leaving a man standing in the same space. The man was dressed strangely and while the camera had a difficult focusing on the unknown subject due to water on the lens, it was evident that he was hurt in some way. He stood in the same spot for several seconds appearing to survey his surroundings only to finally collapse on the floor.

By that time a security detail arrived with weapons drawn. Since the unknown subject was on the floor and unconscious one of the men could be seen calling for a medical team over his radio. The video feed was cut as more security personnel arrived and Colonel Marcus then retook the podium, “This intruder was taken to the installation medical center and was found to be suffering from some significant internal injuries as well as symptoms of moderate to severe radiation exposure. As you can guess, we would have liked to question him as to how he accomplished his neat trick but the subject has been in a coma since he collapsed on the floor.”

Marcus then stepped aside from the podium to allow the audience to view an image on the screen of clothing arranged neatly on a white table, “Things got even weirder when we examined his clothing, they were of a fashion popular in late eightieth-century North America and after numerous tests, experts in the field of textiles determined they were made of the same relatively course material common to that era and sewn together in the same way. The problem is that despite their damage and filth, they appear to have been made just a couple of years ago. We were assured by these experts that while not an impossibility in this day and age, the number of people who could accomplish this feat numbered less than twenty. We checked with each of these individuals and confirmed they had not made any of these clothes for the unknown subject nor anyone else.”

A tremor of unease rippled through the audience, both of astonishment and disbelief, at the implied implications which Colonel Marcus allowed to pass only so she could deliver the final bombshell. “This unknown subject was also carrying a bag also common during that era which contained this.” The image of the old style clothing was replaced with one of a fairly nondescript computer tablet. Several different images then flashed by showing the device in different positions. The one obvious difference from tablets available at any electronic store was that the device looked to be constructed to work in rough conditions.

“We cannot,” Colonel Marcus began again, “identify the manufacturer of this device. In fact, it took the best computer specialists we have to even figure out how to disassembly the damn thing. However, we didn't have to, it seems that the unknown subject made a message readily explaining to whomever discovered him and the tablet his identity and that he was on a last chance mission in hopes of saving not only the United States of America but something he called the Alliance for Democracy.” Colonel Marcus stopped there and stepped aside to allow General McDonald to retake the podium.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he began, “the unknown subject identified himself on his recorded message as Aerospace Force Captain Richard Douglas from a town called Fort Endurance located in California.” An image of the unknown subject appeared on the screen as the general spoke. “Ignoring his use of the word aerospace, we searched all through our personnel records for anyone of that name and came up with nothing. We then searched all through the Department of Defense records then through the California birth records database. As far as it can be determined this Richard Douglas should not exist, in fact some bright individual decided to look up his hometown and there is no municipality with that name. In short, as incredible as it may sound this man does not exist. From his message the United States and this Alliance for Democracy were defeated by a power he called the Domination of the Draka. In a last ditch attempt to snatch some form of victory from the jaws of defeat and enslavement a team of scientists sent Captain Douglas back in time to short circuit the birth of this enemy.”

Stunned silence ruled the auditorium as the captive experts the military had collected pondered everything they heard. “Ladies and gentlemen, the implications of Captain Douglas' mission go beyond any espionage thriller ever conceived and straight into the realm of science fiction. Your mission is to come to a consensus as to whether the change in the timeline was successful and eliminated this enemy or, does these Draka still exist in some fashion. Colonel Marcus and I have said enough, you will now hear Captain Douglas' message.” The lights of the auditorium were turned down and the screen over the stage again came alive.


When the video began it showed a room with blue walls and a couple of pictures hanging in the background, daylight streamed in from an unseen window off to the right. In the foreground was an overstuffed chair situated several meters back from where the camera was located. Captain Douglas comes from behind the camera and takes a seat in the chair. His demeanor is somber but he looked uninjured.

“Hello, my name is Captain Richard Douglas of the United States Aerospace Force and I offer greetings to whomever finds this message. Given that you are viewing this and not talking with me directly it would appear that I am either dead or gravely injured. Such was the warning if I tried to make a return jump back to the year 2014. However, I can report from the year 1799 that I was successful in eliminating the key leaders of the American Loyalists movement that pushed for them to migrate to southern Africa after the United States won its independence. It appears that they have taken up residence in the Canadian wilderness thereby eliminating to the Domination before it was ever created. How this change in history will unfold I have no idea, I just hope it is enough.”

Douglas paused for several seconds, as if he didn't know what to say, “Both General Powell and Doctor Lewis advised me to make my life in this era whether I was successful or not, but I can't, I find myself missing my wife Aileen and will use the temporal dislocation device to try and return to her. I fully realize that this attempt could not only mean my death but that with the timeline altered she or I may not even exist. While the dislocation device will be destroyed once I return my computer pad will have a full historical record of the unaltered timeline as well as full information on the Draka.”

Douglas again looked out the window, “I have never been a religious man but I find myself praying that I have truly killed everyone of those monsters for the sake off all humanity no matter the historical damage I have caused. I also hope I am forgiven for all the innocent lives I have ended before they ever began.”

Douglas then got up and was meet by a man who experts identified as none other that Thomas Jefferson. Seconds later the screen momentarily went dark and was replaced with a the scene of a tired and terrified young woman sitting behind what everyone in the audience recognized as a television news desk. Behind her was a computer generated map of a very different United States of America that stretched from Alaska all the way down to Panama.

“This report,” the female newscaster said, “goes out to anyone in our broadcast range with a working television. It has been three weeks since the start of the war and there still no word if any of the senior Alliance or American leadership survived the initial biological assault. Both the national capitol of New York and the Alliance headquarters in San Francisco have taken multiple nuclear hits with fires raging out of control for hundreds of miles.

The young lady started to breakdown but successfully regained her composure. “Several surviving state governors,” she said, “have taken command of the military forces inside their borders and are attempting to develop an overall defensive strategy. All surviving members of active forces and reserves are instructed to proceed to their bravo-six rally points. I can confirmed that while Draka forces have been successful repelled from the North American mainland, they have taken several of the Caribbean states. News from the other members of the Alliance is not as good...”

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Pixel Peeper said...

Time travel, alternate realities...I like it. Are you working on Part Two?

Ryland Grace said...

Pixel: I have a good idea where I want to go but it will probably be the weekend before I start.

Rose L said...

He is very good and the story can put you right into the scene.

Life As I Know It Now said...

Let's do the time warp again :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Good story! And then...?

On another note, if you come back to my blog and say what some of those words are that you remember from that song, maybe somebody can help you identify it. Can't hoit.

Ryland Grace said...

Rose: Thanks!

Life: Precisely!

Susan: As of July 17, 2014 I have a good chunk of part two done but I've had to backtrack to correct some historical mistakes.