Agent Lee

“He’s by far the most promising recruit we’ve seen in the history of the program!” The medical director says to Fredrick Prophet as he leads him down the hallway.

“And his DNA analysis?” Fredrick asks.

“80 percent match, sir.” the medical director smiles as he opens the door to the room where Cadet Lee sits quietly reading through a history book on mid-American history.

Fredrick motions to the medical director to leave as Cadet Lee abruptly closes his book, places it on his desk, stands up, pushes his chair in, and stands at attention saluting Fredrick. Fredrick smiles, “I’m not one of those, Cadet Lee.” Cadet Lee relaxes and let’s out a big sigh.

“The medical director tells me you’ve shown the best results of anyone he’s ever seen in the program. I know that might come as a surprise to you given your subpar grades.”

Cadet Lee doesn’t understand where Fredrick is going with the conversation, so he remains silent and keeps his stern face.

“I have a special assignment for you, Agent Lee.” Fredrick says as he looks out the tiny window in Cadet Lee’s room.

Cadet Lee’s stern composure turn to surprise at the sound of “Agent Lee”. He cracks a smile and almost laughs in the process.

“I’m not joking about the agent part, Lee.” Fredrick says, not even turning around to see Cadet Lee almost laughing. “You have something within you of particular value, and I’m hoping for you to reach the potential I know you’re capable of.”

“With all due respect, sir, I’m not sure I understand what you’re talking about. I don’t even know why I’m still in this program. I should have failed out months ago. I’ve seen others with better grades get kicked out. So, whatever you’re talking about, I don’t understand, sir.” Cadet Lee says as he sounds disappointed in himself.

Fredrick turns to Lee and looks him in the eyes. “What you can’t see, I’ll help you see, Agent Lee. The confidence you lack is a minor hurdle for you to reach your full potential. You are destined to change history, Agent Lee. I’m here to take you to the next level.” Fredrick smiles. “You’re next round of training starts now. Come with me.”

Cadet Lee flattens his smile and has a dumbfounded look on his face. Fredrick walks over to the door and grabs the handle. Not turning around, he says to Cadet Lee, “Don’t pack anything. My team will take care of it. Your sole responsibility from this point on is to follow my orders, Agent Lee.”

#

Cadet Lee lies submerged in a float tank with a series of wires connected to his head. He’s in a deep state of meditation as Fredrick Prophet and a team of scientists monitor his vitals and an application that’s providing them with direct insight into Cadet Lee’s near real-time brain functions.

“Maurice, how’s everything looking?” Fredrick asks the lead scientist directing the operations.

“It appears that Cadet Lee is the closest he’s been in months, Fred. If he can maintain this level of meditation, we should be able to make contact within the next 10 minutes!” Maurice responds in suppressed excitement.

They continue monitoring Cadet Lee for another 10 minutes as Fredrick begins to grow increasingly anxious. The program suddenly begins printing data to the screen at a rate that nobody can read! Cadet Lee’s body jumps suddenly in the tank and he awakens. He’s pulled out of the container and several scientists help him untangle himself from the mess of wires he’s become trapped in from thrashing around uncontrollably in the tank.

“What was that, Fred!” Cadet Lee yells into the rafters, knowing that Fredrick is monitoring him along with several other scientists in the observation room up on the mezzanine. “What in the crazy ass hell was that Fred!” He yells again!

Fred runs down the stairs, “Lee! You did it! I need you to tell me everything that happened!”

Cadet Lee jumps out of the tank, snapping several of the wires in the process and shoves the scientists away from him as he heads, drenched, towards Fredrick in a rage. Just as he’s about to reach Fredrick, he drops to his knees and then collapses into convulsions. Fredrick rolls Cadet Lee on to his side and then removes his sports coat and covers Cadet Lee’s naked body and comforts him until his body stops convulsing and Cadet Lee falls into a deep sleep.

#

“Agent Lee…”

“Agent Lee…”

Cadet Lee feels warm sunshine on his face as he awakens inside of a dream state. There’s a beautiful grassy hill in front of him with a single large Terebinth tree at the top. A glowing orb shoots out of the tree and begins to swirl around him, and he begins to spin in circles trying to catch the orb until he blacks out and awakens in an empty building.

A man who is just a silhouette walks towards him and begins speaking even though he has no face or mouth, “Agent Lee, it’s nice to finally meet you. Welcome to our home.”

Cadet Lee looks around at the empty surroundings. “Our home?” He asks.

“We’re going to be spending some time together, Agent Lee.”

“Fred? Is that you? Are you playing some sort of mind game with me? Nobody calls me Agent Lee except your stupid ass.” Cadet Lee says with anger as his relationship with Fredrick Prophet has greatly soured over the months they’ve been working on Project Bishop.

“No, I’m not Fredrick.”

“God?”

“I’m not God.”

“Satan?”

The figure chuckles, “No, Agent Lee.”

“Do you have a name?” Cadet Lee asks in confusion.

“No, Agent Lee.” The silhouette responds.

“That doesn’t help much. How should I address you?”

“Just call me.”

Cadet Lee waits for an additional response and finally breaks the awkward silence. “Why am I here?”

“To spend time with me.”

“And why are you here?”

“To spend time with you.” The silhouette responds.

Cadet Lee throws his hands up in despair and places his hands on his hips, looking disgustedly at the silhouette. He begins walking to his right away from the silhouette and notices that the walls of the empty building are moving so that it appears he’s in the same place in the middle of the empty room. He turns back to the direction of the silhouette, and it’s gone.

“Where did you go?”

The silhouette suddenly appears in the same location it was before and begins walking towards him. Cadet Lee starts walking towards the silhouette and the two begin gliding towards each other until Cadet Lee finds himself floating inside the silhouette. Suddenly he begins to feel like he’s falling faster and faster until his flesh and bones disintegrate from his soul and his soul splatters on the ground.

He watches as the puddle of his soul slowly spreads out on the floor of a semi dark room. There’s a light source, but he can’t tell where it’s coming from.

“Who are you?” He hears a strange voice he’s never heard before. “What are you doing here?”

He answers back, “I’m Agent Lee. Who the hell are you?”

Agent Lee waits for an answer as he hears the other man breathing heavier with each passing moment.

“How can I help you Agent Lee?”

“You can start by telling me who you are.” Agent Lee demands.

“Who sent you?” The voice demands back.

“The Bishop sent me.”

“Which Bishop, Agent Lee?” The voice asks in a more relaxed tone.

“Maurice.”

Agent Lee responds to several more questions with information Fredrick has been training him with for the last several months. The voice sounding less and less skeptical with each question.

“Call me Mr. Phillips, Agent Lee. Tell the Bishop I need three days after the data drop. I will speak with you soon.”

Agent Lee looks confused, but Fredrick had prepared him for this moment for months.

“Congratulations on the promotion, Agent Lee.”

“Thanks, Mr. Phillips.”

“Oh, and Agent Lee, watch out for that first drop. It’s going to hurt.”

Agent Lee suddenly feels himself dropping again. Faster and faster. This time he feels the pain as his flesh begins to disintegrate from his body.

#

Agent Lee suddenly wakes up in a hospital bed. A doctor is sitting at his bedside and touches him on his arm.

“Agent Lee”. She says softly to him in a soothing voice that immediately calms his anxiety.

“How did I get here?” He calmly asks the doctor.

“Fredrick brought you here. I’ve been monitoring you for the last six weeks.” She responds.

“I’ve been out for six weeks?”

“Yes, Agent Lee. You might feel a bit weak. From not moving much, but we’ve been taking very good care of you. Fredrick himself has been changing your sheets and rubbing the skin treatment on you.”

Agent Lee looks confused and starts to respond, “but he’s an asshole, Doc.”

The door opens and Fredrick enters the room. The doctor stands up and walks towards Fredrick. “He’s doing well. I briefed him on his status, and he was just telling me how thankful he was for your care.” She says to Fredrick.

“I bet he was,” Fredrick says. He walks to Agent Lee’s bedside and places his hand on the guard rail. Looking at Agent Lee with a big smile, he turns to the doctor. “Doctor, Harvey, can you bring in the transcripts from the session so that I can review them with Agent Lee? Thanks.”

#

Agent Lee is a bit nervous the evening before his third trip for Project Bishop. He’s sitting with Fredrick, Doctor Harvey and Maurice Lane, the chief scientist, as they paint the picture of the most important, and final phase of the project. Agent Lee is to deliver the final set of data that will be necessary for Mr. Phillips to complete Operation Bishop.

Over the last several months, the friendship between Fredrick and Agent Lee has greatly improved as Agent Lee now understands the full scope and importance of the work Fredrick has chosen him for. Plus, he’s learned to understand why Fredrick had to keep him in the dark about the true purpose of the project at the onset.

Fredrick has become a father figure to Agent Lee, a father figure he never had growing up. As he’s staring out the window, Agent Lee thinks back to the conversation he had with Fredrick a couple of weeks ago.

“Fred, I have to tell you something that’s very important to me.” Agent Less said to Fredrick.

“Go ahead, son.”

“See, that’s exactly it, Fred. I never had a father growing up. He died before I was born. You’ve been the closest thing I’ve ever had to a father in my life.” Agent Lee’s eyes welled with tears. “You’re more of a father figure that I think an actual dad could even be. I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in me and supporting me through this entire project.”

“I appreciate the sentiment, Lee. It means a lot to me. This project is your destiny. It’s been generations in the making. In many ways, I feel like your father. In full disclosure…” Fredrick paused for a moment as Agent Lee felt like he was giving great consideration to what he was about to say next. “Your father and I worked together, Lee. I made a promise to him that I’d watch you and shepherd you if anything were to happen to him. He was a great man, Lee. He understood just how important you were going to be. He too believed in you as I do.”

Stunned, Agent Lee was at a loss for words as Fredrick continued. “The truth is, Lee, your family has been a target for generations because of Project Bishop. Same with Doctor Harvey and Director Lane. The coup plotters changed Oswald’s name to Lee Harvey to send a signal over the generations since 1963 that your lineage and Doctor Harvey’s lineage are to be targeted. Someone’s a trader, Lee. I’m not saying you or Harvey, but I’ll be honest…”

Agent Lee had never seen a more serious look on Fredrick’s face, “I’m not ruling out Maurice, Lee. Don’t give him all your trust. If you ever wanted fatherly advice that’s it. Don’t fully trust Maurice.”

Agent Lee contemplated the enormity of what Fredrick was saying. “You think my father was killed because of me?” He asked.

“Absolutely, Lee. Someone on the other side found out who your father was. I think that was one of the reasons for the name change. It wasn’t to just let us know that they figured out we went back and faked the assassination. It was to leave a breadcrumb for the future so that someone could find it and attempt to thwart Project Bishop. Your entire lineage has been a target, and your father was the closest they ever came.”

#

Agent Lee sits across the table from Doctor Harvey as they eat their regular pre-meditation breakfast. “Are you ready to make history, Agent Lee?” She smiles.

“You ever wonder if all of this has any point to it?” Agent Lee asks.

“I’m not sure what you mean, Lee. We’re saving a great man’s life.”

“Are we really? In all the history books, he’s dead. And the agency we’re working for and the men I’m talking to back in 1963 are all implicated and blamed for the assassination or at the very least not stopping it. What’s the point?” Agent Lee says frustratedly pushing his bowl of oatmeal away from him.

Doctor Harvey slides the bowl back closer to Agent Lee. “I know it’s not easy for you, Lee. I know this whole experience is borderline torture for your mind. You need to eat.”

“You haven’t answered my question.”

“Yes, Lee, I believe this all has a point. I believe we’re answering a higher calling than we could possibly understand. And most importantly, I believe that you were given a gift.” She places her hand on Agent Lee’s hand and continues. “You were given a gift that allows you, and only you to make this happen. Now, if you want to know why I think you were given this gift, I can’t even begin to fathom. I’m a pretty smart woman, Lee.”

Agent Lee interrupts, “You’re absolutely brilliant, Doc.” He smiles.

“Thank you, Lee. Despite all that intelligence, I haven’t a clue who chose you or why. What I can comprehend is that it’s you. You save this man’s life. You make history, and the world is a better place because of it.” She pauses as she searches for the right words to say to Agent Lee.

“Quite honestly, Lee, I think the world is a better place because they think he’s dead. It allowed him to operate behind the scenes and engage with the deepest members of the teams that all lead to us sitting here this morning.”

Agent Lee smiles at Doctor Harvey as the two stare deep into each other’s eyes. They become almost lost in each other’s trance as they’ve become close partners during the execution of Operation Bishop.

“Let’s go make history, Doc!” Agent Lee stands up and the two hold hands as they walk towards the observation room.

Lieutenant Bargh

George Bargh leans down and kisses his infant daughter on the forehead. As he stands back upright, he leaves his right hand on the cheek of his daughter and smiles. He turns to leave the room and looks at a picture on the wall of him and his late wife. He see’s his reflection in the glass and turns back to look at his infant daughter again. He smiles.

The nanny is standing in the kitchen and making breakfast for both of them.

“Susan, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for everything that you do for me and my family of one. I truly appreciate everything you do for me and Rachel.”

“I’d say I was just doing my job, George, but we both know how much my aunt meant to you. And to me! You’re family, George. I truly mean that.”

The two sit down and eat breakfast and talk about their day. George finishes up quickly and grabs his gun and badge.

“Thanks, Susan. I’ll be back at the usual.”

There’s a knock on the door. George opens the door and greets his partner, Marcus, and the two walk down the steps of the porch and get into their car.

As Marcus pulls the car into their precinct parking lot George confides, “Marcus, I need to get out.”

“Look pal, you and me both, but we both know there’s only one way out of this. Once you’re in, you’re in for life. Even if you went to another planet, they’d find you and put you to use.”

“I can’t bring my daughter up in this, Marcus.”

“It ain’t so bad, George. My kids love Uncle Bill.”

“You raise your kids, Marcus. I’ll raise mine. I need to figure out some way out of this.”

“Ain’t gonna happen, Georgie! Nobody gets out, and you knew that getting in.” Marcus gets out of the car and slams his door and starts walking away as George sits in the car.

He looks up at the officers standing near the entrance. They all look at Marcus and then train their eyes on George. “Everyone is in on it.” George thinks to himself as he gets out of the car.

#

Marcus and George enter a luxurious six-story building. It smells of freshly blossoming Jasmine floors in the lobby. The elevators are out, and they need to take the stairs at the end of the lobby up to the top floor. As they reach the third floor, Marcus stops to catch his breath.

“C’mon, you pussy!” George says to Marcus as he passes him up.

“You…” Marcus is out of breath and waves George on. “I’ll catch up.”

“You gonna have a heart attack? I’m not dragging your fat ass back down you lazy fuck. Get moving.” George keeps heading up the stairs.

As he gets to the top floor, there are two very large men holding guns directed at him. They are wearing dark glasses, and he noticed a series of dim red and blue lights in the rims of the glasses performing a weapons scan on him.

“Where is your partner?”

“He’s a fat fuck, much like yourselves, and probably dead back on the third floor. Come to think of it, how did you two fucks get up here?” George has been showing these two guards contempt ever since he started working with Uncle Bill.

“If Uncle Bill didn’t say otherwise, we’d rip you in half and throw you off the top of this building you puny little shit.” The guard on the left says as the guard on the right opens the door to let George in to see Uncle Bill.

George smiles and gives the finger to the guard on the right as he walks down the hallway into the large open room that is Uncle Bill’s sprawling office space. 20 foot floor to ceiling windows overlook Monument Park in the Republic of Columbia. He looks out over the massive monuments and over to the location of the remains of the ancient White House building.

“Can you believe what a circus this place used to be, George?” Uncle Bill asks in his southern drawl.

“Never really thought about politics much, to be honest.”

“Best to leave the truly dirty work to guys like me, eh, George?”

“You could say that. Speaking of dirty work, you know your elevators are out, right? My partner is probably dead back down there.”

“Yet, here you are.”

“Just following orders, sir.”

“Yes…” Uncle Bill pauses for a few seconds. “You ever thought about joining Space Force, George?”

“I’m guessing you need me to join Space Force.” George retorts.

“You’ll have to pass all the tests, but I don’t think you’ll have much trouble with that. There’s a certain mission…” Uncle Bill pauses for dramatic effect. “You’ll know it when you see it. You’ll volunteer, and we’ll make sure all goes smooth. Do this mission, and I’ll let you out.”

“Maybe I won’t feel bad if Marcus really is dead back on the third floor.” George’s face is burning with anger for being ratted out by his partner.

“Come now. He’s just doing his job. And now I need you to just do this one last job.”

“Why do I have a bad feeling about this?”

Uncle Bill smiles. “I promise, this will absolutely be your last job with us, but it will be a long one. The mission won’t happen for another six years.”

“Fucking figures.”

Uncle Bill laughs, “In the meantime, you don’t have to do anything else but join Space Force and be a good soldier. Marcus will be assigned a new partner on the police force. Spend time with your daughter over her formative years and maybe find her a new mother?” Uncle Bill pats him on the shoulder and George can almost sense genuine sympathy. “Raise her right, George. Children are our future.”

“And when I get back, then what?”

“When you get back, you get to live whatever life you make for yourself. You’ll never see me again.” Uncle Bill smiles, looks him in the eyes and extends his right hand to George. The two shake hands. “You’ll know what mission to volunteer for.”

“I got that. Well, Uncle Bill, if this truly is the last time I’ll ever have to see your slimy face again, I want you to know it’s been no honor doing business with you.” George scowls at Uncle Bill and dreams about how easy it would be to kill him right now but walks towards the doors.

“Oh, and Bill, one more thing…” George turns back to face Bill and gives him the middle finger. “Fuck you.” He laughs. Uncle Bill smiles. George opens the door, walks out between the two guards, stops, and lifts both hands and give them both middle fingers. He gives off one more middle finger behind his back as he skips down the stairs with joy.

#

Lieutenant Bargh is still a little wobbly after being brought out of suspended animation. He hears a voice but cannot understand what it is saying. He can see a robot standing in front of him, shining a blue light into his eyes, and his vision starts to come back to him. The robot reaches out it’s arms and places a headset on him. He can feel the liquid drain from his ears and run out of his sinuses through his nose.

“Lieutenant George Bargh, you are to report to Section 5 once you have been cleared and settled in your quarters. Is that understood?” The robot inquires.

“Yes, that’s understood.”

Once Bargh is cleaned up, another robot arrives with his clothing. Bargh gets dressed and is then taken to his quarters. He opens up his small closet and pulls down a silver necklace with a locket on it. He opens it up and smiles at the picture of his now eight year old daughter. He remembers the last moment he had with her before leaving on the mission to Mohcia.

His daugher’s voice echoes in his head, “I love you, daddy. Hurry back.”

There’s a loud beep in his bunk room.

“Lieutenant Bargh, please report to the briefing room immediately.” He puts his necklace on, and drops the locket down his shirt and heads to the briefing room.

As Bargh is heading to the briefing room, he’s met by Lieutenant Smith heading the opposite direction. “Looks like you’re playing second fiddle, Bargh! I get the first run you slow poke.”

“That’s pretty much how it was with your mom last night.” Bargh jabs back at Smith.

Bargh enters the briefing room and is informed the Admiral is sending them down to the three Earth bases on Mohcia. There’s a slight change in plans though as Andre Levion will be taking command of their company.

#

Esua and his family sit down at their dinner table with Bargh in the guest of honor chair. Bargh smiles awkwardly as he tries to fit himself in the small chair at the head of the alien table. Esua’s servants treat the family and the human Bargh to a traditional Mohcia dinner and have pleasant conversation. Everything Bargh had heard about Mohcia food is true. It’s the best meal he’s ever had!

After dinner, Bargh is looking at the artwork on the walls of Esua’s home. Esua walks over to him and explains that the piece he’s standing in front of is that of a legendary Mohcian-god warrior named Bezo. The legend is that Bezo was half Mohcian and half god, and traveled between worlds, conquering all who cross his path but saving those who are virtuous and plan for their families.

Bargh looks at the sculpture closely and notices that Bezo has two thumbs as opposed to no thumbs like Esua. Bargh turns to Esua and covers the microphone of his translator and asks Esua whether he knows the meaning of a phrase in Esua’s native tongue. Esua appears startled (at least as startled as a Mohcian can appear).

Esua places his hand on Bargh’s and moves Bargh’s finger off of the microphone. “Your generosity has convinced me. My family and I will go with you back to your home planet.”

Bargh is puzzled but relieved that Esua and his family will take part in the evacuation of Mohcia. He lets Esua know the plans for what they need to do to get ready and that transport will arrive in the early morning.

Esua and Bargh walk out to the front yard of Esua’s home. Bargh looks up at the stars in the sky and admires the three different moons that Mohcia has to offer in the night sky. The largest moon is tidal locked just like Earth’s moon, but the smaller moons are not. The smallest moon spins on it’s access so quickly that Bargh can actually see it’s red surface spinning with his naked eyes.

“The legend of Bezo is that he pulled Sigma in to orbit around our home planet.” Esua points to the smallest moon that Bargh is admiring. “From there, he was able to oversee and protect our land and see out into the heavens to ensure our people were always safe.”

“If only the legend were true, my friend,” Bargh replies

Bargh receives an encrypted message from the Admiral. He reads it and then turns to Esua and covers his microphone and then reads a message in Esua’s native language. “There’s a slight change of plans. Your family will be evacuated tomorrow morning, but I need your help in three days.”

Esua responds to Bargh as he lifts his finger from the microphone, “I can never repay you for your generosity.”

#

Narrowly escaping John Levion’s attack, Bargh and Esua’s shuttle makes its way towards the orbital module. From there, they launch a small command pod that rendezvous with the Admiral and her skeleton crew aboard her cruiser. Bargh debriefs the Admiral on John Levion being alive and shows her the scan of his suit.

Everyone watches in amazement from the video feed coming in from the solar monitoring stations. There is what can only be described as a massive solar flare extending from Zathustine Major to a location about half an astronomical unit to a massive space ship roughly the size of Mohcia’s smallest moon.

“It’s Oris!” Esua shouts!

Everyone looks at Esau. Bargh asks, “That was the villain your hero Bezo fought?”

Esua explains the Mohcia legend of Oris to the crew. Oris is the last of an elephant-like space creature who feeds off the energy of stars. The Oris destroyed solar systems all over the universe by devouring their solar centers and leaving the entire system as a dark, lifeless mass. The Mohcia hero Bezo teamed up with the Lord of Time to hunt down the space creatures until there was just one left: Oris. The Lord of Time felt pity for the creature since all of its kind were destroyed. Instead of killing Oris, the Lord of Time held him captive and trained Oris to fight for him by making it so that Oris’s devouring of solar mass could run backwards and create massive solar bombs that Oris could hurl at the enemies of the Lord of Time.

“Looks like Oris is fueling up for the next fight!” Bargh exclaims.

“That’s not a fight that we’re going to stick around for,” the Admiral says as the cruiser finishes breaking orbit from Mohcia and rapidly picks up speed.

As they are making their way through the solar system, it becomes clear that the gravitational force of the Oris space ship is causing problems with their energy consumption. The Admiral, Bargh, and the cruiser’s navigator start running through scenarios to get out of the solar system to make the jump back to Earth. All fuel from shuttles is re-purposed to the main cruiser, and all but one of the shuttles is jettisoned. The estimates are still looking grim for the cruiser being able to make the jump back to Earth or even the nearest known outpost between Mohcia and Earth.

#

Bargh approaches Esua, “Hey, friend. You studied your legends in depth, right?”

“My brother and I were the foremost experts on our ancient history. Did you like the story I told? I can tell you hundreds of others just as beautiful. Perhaps even a love story?” Esua responds enthusiastically.

Bargh pats him on the shoulder and smiles. “Perhaps another time for that one, friend. Tell me more about where this Oris character was taken by Bezo and the time god.”

“Lord of Time. He is not my god. There is only one my god, and I could never elevate my god’s servants to my god’s stature.”

“Oh, that’s right.” Bargh sighs. “If I show you the map of your sky, can you point to where this Lord of Time and Bezo took Oris?”

Bargh pulls up a hologram display of the sky from the vantage point of Esua’s home on Mohcia. Esua points to a star, “That is Cheebs, the star of heaven. That is where Oris was taken. Where Bezo resides with the Lord of Time.”

“Thanks, friend. I’ll be right back.”

Bargh pulls up the information on the star and sends it over the the navigator. “What are the odds we can make a jump to that star?”

“We could jump there and back to here a few times with our current energy levels!” The Navigator says to Bargh with a flirtatious wink and smile. She turns to the Admiral. “Jen… Admiral, I think Bargh has found the best option.”

Using the entanglement link to the star system database back on Earth, the navigator attempts to find information about the star system. “Admiral, there’s absolutely no data on this star system other than its existence and coordinates.”

“What made you think about this star, Bargh?” The Admiral asks.

“Well, I figured that giant ship isn’t going hyper. Esua said his god told him 200 years ago that they were all going to die.” Bargh shrugs. “So, I figured that ship must have come from some location within 200 years of relatively slow space travel speed to get here.”

The navigator is impressed with Bargh’s deductive skills and flirtatiously compliments him, “You are quite the detective.” Bargh smiles back at her.

The Admiral chimes in. “If we end up being the last humans alive, I’m happy knowing the two of you will help repopulate the species. In the meantime, do we have any other options? Maybe your little buddy knows of some other systems nearby that aren’t the host of a star killing Lord of Time.”

Bargh goes back over to Esua while the Admiral and navigator watch intently. There’s a communication received over an encrypted line, and the navigator goes over to the command station to review while the Admiral watches Bargh communicate with Esua.

“Admiral, you’re going to want to take a look at this message.” The Navigator has an unsteady voice, and Bargh pauses for a moment as he watches the Admiral go over to the command station.

The Admiral folds her arms tightly in front of her as she’s reading the message. Bargh tells Esua to wait while he talks things over with his commander.

“What’s going on?” Bargh asks uneasily as he’s never seen the Admiral unnerved before.

She motions for him to come over and read the message: jetison suited admiral; coordinates attached; jump Cheebs; Fredrick;

“Who sent this message?” Bargh asks.

“That’s the strange part.” The navigator says as she pulls up the details. “It’s generated by this ship.”

The Admiral stiffens, “Just because someone can hack the messaging system doesn’t mean we’re going to take this message to heart.”

As the Admiral’s word leave her mouth, the lights in the command module turn off and the emergency lights come on. Emergency notices start flashing on the navigator’s screen showing that power to the engines is cut and that thrusters for maneuvering are malfunctioning. And just as quickly, everything returns to normal.

Bargh looks around the command center and looks at the Admiral and shrugs. “I guess we’re going to Cheebs after all.”

#

The cruiser arrives in the solar system of Cheebs with Bargh, the navigator, and Esua. At the center of the system is a massive star with scores of natural and artificial planets within the habital zone and a secondary star in an outer orbit. They can see several massive solar flares reaching from the center star and terminating at tiny points around the star. It’s similar to what they saw at Mohcia, but on a much larger scale.

“Looks like Oris made some babies, Esua!” Bargh quips to his alien friend.

The trio look on in awe as they witness the massive solar flares die down and start up in new locations seemingly at random. The cruiser continues to execute the flight plan it received back at Mohica. It first places them in orbit around the small star on the outer limits of the solar system and then launches them out of that orbit across to the other side of the solar system where there is another small star on the outer limits of the solar system. They rendezvous with a small planet orbiting the second small star that’s on the outer limits of the solar system. From what they can tell, the planet is a hybrid of partial and artificial.

As the cruiser lands on the surface, the navigator receives a message: Kizon arrived; suits; Terminal X; Fredrick;

“Suit up, Jessica!” Bargh instructs the navigator. He turns to Esua and shrugs, “I don’t have a suit for you, but the ship should have a report on the atmosphere shortly.”

As Jessica gets into her suit, Bargh reads the reports from the ship’s log. The atmospheric composition is similar to high altitude on Earth, so Esua will be fine. Bargh and the navigator will need to wear their suits. Jessica finishes getting into her suit and performs the buddy system checks with Bargh while flirting.

“We’re good to go, Esua! You ready?” Bargh asks.

“I wasn’t sure how long that mating ritual was going to take place for, so I made myself comfortable.” Esua jokes with Bargh.

The trio exit the ship and are greeted by seven bipedal robots that look like massively advanced versions of  the Tes robots that Bargh had on the Ark mission. The robots perform a series of scans of each of them and then three larger, menacing looking robots come around the corner. Bargh’s suit detects that there is some sort of data transfer taking place between all the robots, but his suit cannot decipher any of the data.

“Activate your shields,” Bargh orders Jessica. Bargh’s shield drops over his face, and his suit’s weapons systems activate.

The larger robots walk up to each of the trio as the seven robots walk away. The robot in front of the pint-sized Esua is towering over him. It picks up Esua by his neck and holds him up to its face. Bargh drops both of his arm guns into firing position and lifts his right arm to the head of the robot holding Esua by the neck and his other gun to the head of robot in front of him. Jessica does the same with her guns and holds them up to the two robots closest her.

The robot holding Esua by the neck looks at Bargh and then looks at the robot in front of Bargh. It then looks back at Esua and drops him on the ground and turns around and walks away.

The robot in front of Bargh speaks, “You’ll have to pardon my colleague’s manners. He’s not as well educated on the acceptance of the Mohcian. Lieutenant Bargh, I presume?”

“Good presumption. Who the fuck are you?” Bargh says as he lowers his guns and Jessica follows.

“I am the one who will be taking you to Jason.”

“And who the fuck is Jason? We’re supposed to see Fredrick.”

“Jason works for Fredrick,” the robot says as it turns and begins to walk away. After a dozen steps and Bargh not following, it turns around. “It’s imperative you follow me. Your peaceful compliance is requisite.”

The trio begin following the robot with Bargh in the lead and the third robot holding up the rear behind Jessica.

As they walk away, Bargh asks the lead robot, “What’s with the bronze helmets?”

All of the robots are wearing bronze pyramids around their heads.

“Faraday cages,” the robot responds.

#

After making their way through a crowded metropolis in a vehicle with small windows, the lead robot directs the driver to a warehouse along a water bank outside the city. Everyone exits the vehicle and the robot instructs the driver to wait for its return. The robot checks the trio into the building with no signs on the outside and leaves them in a waiting room that looks oddly like an ancient doctors office back on Earth. It’s even playing what sounds like elevator music through very lousy speakers. There’s a sign on the door: Mogul.

After waiting for what seems like an hour, Bargh stands up and goes to the reception window and rings the bell. Just as he rings the call, a man barges into the room. He’s wearing a doctor’s lab coat, and his movements are more of a marionette than a human, but he is distinctly human. More oddly, Bargh feels like he recognizes the man. “Bargh?” the man questions.

Bargh looks at the man with irritation, “Who the fuck are you?”

The man lets out a boisterous laugh, “Well, you sure are Bargh! I have some questions for you.” The man begins to rattle off a series of questions about Bargh’s health and family history until he’s interrupted by Bargh who lifts him up by the shoulders and holds him in front of him while he lowers his face shield so the man can see that Bargh is extremely angry.

“I’m not telling you shit, and neither are they until you answer questions, pal.” Bargh growls at the man. “Who,” he pauses and then breathes in deep, “the fuck are you?!”

“Oh, right.” The man says as he kicks his legs like a rag doll. “Well, I’m Jason Ewing. I do much better thinking when my feet are on a solid surface. My mission is to get you back to Earth.”

Bargh puts Jason back on his feet and crosses his arms in front of him, “You don’t really strike me as the kind of person who can get me back to Earth, Jason. I’m just being frank with you. Perhaps you have a supervisor who would prefer you keep breathing. I suggest you go get him or her right now.”

Jason adjusts his spectacles and smiles. Then he leans into Bargh and whispers. “Let’s just say that my supervisor is not around right now, and he wouldn’t exactly approve of this mission.” Jason steps back from Bargh and wags his eyebrows and winks. “So, is this the Admiral?” he questions with excitement in his voice, turning to Jessica.

Bargh grabs Jason’s shoulder and turns him back to facing him. “Look pal, right now, your bullshit is stacking up taller than you. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you’re not supposed to be in a padded cell right now, but seeing as how you speak excellent fucking English and seem to know something I don’t, I’m not going to crush your skull. At least not yet.”

Jason looks on uneasily at Bargh whose face is turning beet-red. “I understand your impatience, George.”

Bargh’s interest piques as he realizes Jason knows a lot more about him than he might realize.

Jason continues, “But the concept of time is rather quite real at this very moment. Within one hour, I need to get you, the Admiral, and the Mohcian on a specific ship at a specific location that will take you back,” Jason clears his throat, “to Earth.”

“I’m all ears, Jason.” Bargh says as he unfolds his arms.

“Before I put you on said ship, I need to know that you are able to mentally make this jump, and I must have the Admiral examined as well. This is an experimental ship that is the only way you are going to get out of this solar system. And remember what I said before.” Jason winks at Bargh.

“We’ve got a bit of a problem.” Jessica starts.

Bargh interrupts, “We all need to go to the bathroom. It was a long drive here.”

“Not me!” Esua says, “I recycled already.”

Bargh looks at Esua with a scowl.

“But on second thought…” Esua starts and is interrupted by a loud bang and the sounding of an alarm!

There are a series of screams and sounds of projectiles whirling through the hallway. Jason runs to the door on the other side of the waiting room and goes through the door and locks it. “He’s here for the Mohcian!” Jason yells through the door.

Just then, the door flies off the hinges and in walks a bipedal robot that looks exactly like the sculpture of Bezo that Esua had at home. Bargh’s jaw drops as he feels like he’s in a bad dream. Bezo holds a gun towards Bargh’s head and a shot grazes the front of his face shield as he barely turns away in time. Bezo fires at Jessica with his other hand and kills her with a single shot that penetrates her helmet.

Bargh fires several shots into the body of Bezo, and the projectiles crumble as they strike the armor. Bargh falls to the ground as he loses his balance trying to maneuver to behind Bezo and find a weak point in his armor. Bezo fires a shot that rips the leg armor off of Bargh’s left leg. Another shot to the main body of Bargh virtually disables his suit. Bezo lifts his gun to Bargh’s head, and Bargh sees his life flash before his eyes.

Suddenly, there’s a loud shriek. All the glass in the room breaks and Bezo puts his arm down and turns around. Esua stops shrieking and begins speaking in his native tongue to Bezo.  Bargh cannot understand anything since his suit’s communications system is destroyed, along with virtually everything else. He can tell that Esua is arguing on his behalf and that Bezo still wants to kill him, so he waits for Esua to plead his case.

Bezo places his gun in a holster and reaches out his massive hand to assist Bargh. Bargh stands up and says “Thank you” in the Mohcia native tongue. He looks over at Jessica and shakes his head. He walks over and pulls off the equipment from her suit that he can place on his. His communications system is working again.

“So, Bezo is real, Esua!” He turns to Bezo, “Why do you have to be so trigger happy?”

Bezo shrugs, “I’m sorry. Your kind is my enemy. I am here to save my kin. He told me you saved his whole family. I regret killing your friend.”

“That’s life in the fast lane, pal.” Bargh shrugs. He points to the room with Jason, “A human in the other room wants to put us on a ship back to Earth. He’s here to help too.”

Jason timidly comes out of the other room and waves. “So glad that wasn’t the Admiral,” he whispers to Bargh.

Bezo turns to Esua, “You are to make Earth a home? That means Mohcia has been terminated by the human god.” Bezo looks at Esua’s hands and holds up one of them with his own double opposable thumbed hands. “This is what your kind did to my people!”

Jason interrupts, “I don’t think we’re going to solve 500 years of interplanetary war between the four of us, and time is of the essence.”

“Right,” Bargh starts, “Esua, it’s your choice. Fight the good fight with badass Bezo here.” He taps Bezo on the arm. “Or come with me to Earth to be reunited with your family.”

Esua parts ways with Bezo and tells him that he will share with the other people of Mohcia the heroic works of Bezo that he witnessed first hand. Bezo warns Esua one last time to not go to Earth, but Esua walks away. As Bargh is walking away, Bezo grabs his shoulder. “When you fail him, know that I will destroy you with my bare hands and defecate in your detached skull.”

Bargh tightens his lips, “That’s a good incentive not to fail.”

#

Jason leads Bargh and Esua into a small lab and seals the room. He asks Bargh to takes off his space suit so that he can run the physical tests on him. As Bargh removes his suit, he begins to feel lightheaded and stumbles forward. He begins hearing voices in his head. Esua too falls to the ground beside Bargh.

Bargh looks up as the room feels like it is spinning around him. He sees Jason standing above him. “What the hell did you do? I’m going to ki…” Bargh goes unconscious.

Bargh awakens suddenly and sits up on the lab table he’s on. His legs are strapped in to the table, and there are some wires connected to his head and an IV in his right arm. He pulls on one of the wires.

“I wouldn’t do that, George.” Jason warns.

An excruciating pain consumes Bargh’s entire nervous system, and he feels like his body is burning from the inside out. He collapses back onto the table and cannot move anything but his eyes. He sees Jason walk over to him and attach the wire to his head again. The pain subsides.

“You are a brute, George, but we’re almost done.”

“What exactly are WE doing, Jason?”

“I’m performing an existence confirmation on you, George. I need to make sure that you are who you are. We can’t have an incident like with the fake Admiral. That is all. This is a painless experience for those who aren’t as crude as you.”

“Her name was Jessica. She wasn’t fake.” Bargh looks over at Esua lying on the table next to him, “What about Esua?”

“He’s just fine. It’s much easier to confirm Mohcians than humans since they cannot be cloned. Look, we’re all done now.”

Jason unplugs the wires from Bargh and unstraps him from the table. Bargh is a little wobbly when he stands up. He walks over to Esua.

“Why is he still sleeping?”

Jason replies, “He’ll stay that way until we reach our destination.”

“You mean, Earth, right? You wouldn’t want to be taking us somewhere else for some bullshit science experiment would you?” Bargh growls at Jason.

“We are most certainly headed to Earth, George.”

Jason rolls Esua out of the lab and into a hallway that leads the three of them to a small launchpad with a bright yellow disc-shaped ship waiting for them.

“Where’s my suit?” Bargh snaps at Jason.

“It won’t fit on the ship, George.”

Jason closes the ship door and has Bargh secure himself while he secures Esua’s bed. He presses a series of buttons and pulls a lever and the ship begins to make a pulsating noise and closes it’s door. Jason presses more buttons, and the ship jets off quickly from surface of the planet at a neck breaking speed.

Bargh passes out from the acceleration but Jason is fine. Jason taps on his screen to give the final confirmation of the flight plan. Esua begins to wake up and notices that they are flying directly towards one of the large solar flares coming out of the center star and terminating at the Oris.

“This is the new plan?” Esua asks as he tries to unstrap himself.

“Secure yourself! We’re about to go hyper! We’re going to use the tail end of that energy stream to jump to Earth.”

Just as they pass the Oris, Jason taps on his screen. There’s an eerie silence and then the ship shakes violently as the Oris explodes.

“Uh oh.” Jason says as the ship goes hyper. This time everyone blacks out.

#

Jason comes to and sees Esua floating by him unconscious. Jason looks over at Bargh who’s sitting with his arms folded, staring at him with a scowl on his face.

“Morning sunshine. Looks like your flimsy disc made it to out of Cheebs. You think that blue dot up there is Earth?” Bargh raises one of his eyebrows.

Jason scrambles to read the logs from the computer. They’re heading directly towards a blue planet at a rapid speed, but none of his attempts to correct the course or slow the ship are netting any results.

“If you come in this hot, they’re going to shoot you out of the sky. We’ve got some experience with fast objects slamming into Earth.” Bargh warns.

“We don’t have to worry about that, George. It’s what comes after that’s the hard part.” Jason says as he’s able to finally get a retrothruster to slow their burn into the earth’s atmosphere.

George has a split second to process what Jason just told him. They hit something in the atmosphere and crash hard into the ground. The ship is half buried in the ground and surrounded by a weather balloon it hit going through the atmosphere. The hull of the ship is intact, but the ship is otherwise completely destroyed.

As Bargh comes to, he sees Esua still unconscious but somehow still floating in the middle of the ship. Jason isn’t in his seat, but he doesn’t see any signs of Jason’s body. He unlocks his security straps and climbs over to Esua, but he cannot reach him. Bargh tries again and again and with scrap metal, but there seems to be an invisible field around Esua.

“Bezo is going to shit in my detached skull for this one.” He shakes his head and looks up to see Jason standing on the outside rim of the ship.

“Let’s get out of here, Bargh. We don’t have much time.” Jason says.

Enraged, Bargh climbs his way to the top of the crumpled ship and throws Jason off the top of it to the ground. He looks out over the dark, desolate landscape in front of him and can see what looks like a barn and a house off in the distance with a small porch light on.

“That kinda hurt, George.” Jason says from the ground about 10 feet below.

“How about we make our way over to that barn over there, Jason. I’ll kill you there. If I kill you here, the coyotes will hide all the evidence. I want to make sure everyone knows I strangled you to death.” Bargh says as he climbs down from the rubble of the ship.

They make their way to the barn and Bargh starts getting a strange feeling as he’s looking around. The vehicles look like ancient vehicles he’s read about in history books in school, and the barn and house are not made from any of the manufacturing materials he’s ever seen on Earth.

They enter the kitchen of the house, and Jason picks up papers laying on the kitchen table and shines his light to read what’s on the paper.

Bargh is sniffing like a dog. “Something doesn’t smell right. Jason, where the hell are we?” He grab Jason and throws him against the wall of the kitchen.

“Not, where, George. When!” Jason pushes the paper into Bargh’s face. “When!”

Bargh looks down at the thin paper stack Jason pushed into his face and shines his light on the papers. He recognizes it as an ancient newspaper. The date is July 4, 1947. Bargh throws the paper to the ground and grabs Jason by the throat and starts choking him until Jason turns purple and passes out. Bargh releases before it’s too late.

#

Jason comes to with a trickle of warm liquid pouring down his face. He’s tied up to a post in the barn with Bargh standing over him, and there’s a kerosene lantern illuminating the barn.

“Before I do to you what Bezo has promised to do to me, you’re going to tell me what the fuck is going on here, Jason. Believe me when I tell you that I can make every nerve in your body feel more pain than I felt on your lab table. You’re going to be begging me to put you on that table. How… and WHY the fuck are we in 1947?”

Jason smiles, “I know it’s hard for you to understand. It gets harder each time for you. From your perspective, this is the first time we have done this. For me, this is the seventh time we’ve done this. The sixth time you’ve thrown me off the edge of the ship. The fifth time you’ve choked me out. This is the seventh time I have explained our mission. Each time, we have gotten better at our mission. Each time, we have improved. Each time it has gotten more and more difficult to make it further than the last, and each time you have continued to agree to the mission.”

Bargh looks on with disgust at Jason, but he has a feeling inside that Jason is telling him the truth. “So, this is the lucky number seven? Do we win a prize this time?”

“I don’t know the outcome, George. What I do know is that everything we do and every interaction we have must be completely calculated.”

“You think crash landing a spaceship in the desert into 1947 is cal…” Bargh pauses. “Holy shit!”

“That’s right, George.”

“I thought that was just data received in the weather balloon. That was always the story I heard.”

Jason lets out a big sigh.

Bargh looks at him with a worried look. “Jason, what the fuck is going on here? What’s the real fucking story. No bullshit!”

“WE are the data, George. Well, at least part of it.”

“That’s why you’re not afraid of me killing you!” Bargh laughs.

“We have the experience of being humans here in 1947, but we’re not. We are merely part of the data transmitted back to the weather balloon in 1947. We piggybacked on that data so that we can execute our mission. There are messages that we need to make sure we get to people over the course of the next 1000 years, and your family is critical to making sure those messages are delivered.”

“Jason, I have a daughter back in my lifetime. A daughter! That’s my family.”

“Your daughter is well taken care of, George. Didn’t you ever notice how you were surrounded by great family? Despite your poor choices in life, things just kinda worked out rather well for you.”

“My wife dying at childbirth isn’t exactly what I’d call working out rather well.” Bargh growls at Jason.

“Sometimes there is only one way to nudge someone.” Jason replies.

Bargh strikes Jason with a hard right hook that knock Jason unconscious.

#

Jason comes to again. This time, he’s no longer tied up, but he’s in the front seat of a car with Bargh driving.

Bargh looks over at Jason and smiles, “Morning, sunshine!”

Jason shakes his head as he props himself up, “That hurt so much worse than last time.”

“Back at the barn, you said we’re the data?” Bargh states like a question.

“Yes, this experience in 1947 is just as data. We haven’t figured out how to send back anything physical. Just data. Sending physical items back is looking less and less probable.” Jason clarifies.

Bargh smiles, “So, where the fuck is my body?”

“That’s something that can never be disclosed again, George.”

“Again?”

“Yes, we made that mistake once, and it nearly cost us everything. They found us, and if it wasn’t for Esua and Bezo, we would have been killed. Everything we do, we should assume that it’s being watched and observed by the enemy.” Jason warns.

“Rodger.” Bargh acknowledges.

There’s a long silence.

Bargh starts up again, “You said we piggybacked on the Mogul communication.”

“Yes.”

“Who sent the original message?” Bargh raises his eyebrows.

“We don’t know.”

“How do you not know? How do you piggyback on a message without knowing who sent it?”

Jason pauses, “We know it wasn’t him.”

“Him who?”

“Lysander. We know it wasn’t Lysander, but we don’t know who.”

Bargh burst out laughing, “That guy is real? Lysander is a real person? You’ve got to be shitting me!”

“He’s real. That solar system back there with the Oris bots… That’s what he’s been building over the last 400 years.”

“How do we know it’s him?” Bargh asks skeptically.

“That robot revolt 500 years ago on earth wasn’t exactly a revolt.” Jason starts. He provides Bargh with as much information as possible about what has really transpired over the last 500 years that have lead them to believe that Lysander is somehow alive in either robot form or as an advanced cloned human body. “We also found one sleeper cell that he’s had in place since he was on Earth. We have every reason to think that he has sleeper cells throughout the world, and agents in every single government.”

Jason pauses for a few seconds to let Bargh absorb the information, “And my personal opinion is that he already has a plan for his return in place and has the weapons hidden. They’re just waiting on his signal. This is all well planned out.”

Bargh lets the conversation go quiet for a few minutes. After the awkward silence, he picks back up the conversation, “You said my family is important, why?”

Jason explains the importance of Bargh’s ancestors in the fields of neuroscience and psychology that are increasingly useful for the work they are performing with sending data back in time/space and reading it in real time in the future. He also explains how Bargh’s daughter grows up to become one of the most important physicists in building the very technology that they are using for their mission.

“What about the Admiral? Why did you have Bezo kill Jessica?” Bargh’s brow furrows.

Jason tightens his lips, “We couldn’t take any chances with Jessica. We’re 83% certain she was a plant. It was supposed to be just you, Esua, and the Admiral. Someone switched things up on purpose. Which means they have some ideas about what we’re doing, and they know we know Lysander wants the admiral.”

“Wants her for what?”

“We haven’t figured that one out yet.”

Bargh lifts his chin slightly and then drops his head and lets out a big sigh. “When you said we need to send messages 1000 years into the future, why 1000? We were 900 years from now.”

Jason rubs his chin, “Your daughter sends the last message from the future on Saturday, October 6, 2947.”