Flight Tango Four Seven One
D. L. Hemmingway
Delphi Colonial Fleet Aviation Base, Delphi, Caprica:
Capt. William Addams walked into the hangar through the wide open main doors as directed by the Colonial Marines who had cordoned off the building from the rest of the airfield. Inside looked no different than any of a thousand buildings like it on Earth. It was large enough to house the two Boeings, the 737 and the E-3 Sentry. Both planes had been towed into the hangar. There these people had helped the crews and in the case of the 737 the passengers down out of the planes. A man in Multicam Pattern ACUs with a Colonel's Eagle on his rank tab greeted him and his flight at the doorway. He was escorted by two of his soldiers plus a squad of the local Marines.
"I'm Colonel Jarred Pierce, Special Forces, Colorado Army National Guard. The Locals have us bunking in two class rooms at the rear of the Hangar. The civilians are in two more on the upper level," said COL Pierce as he pointed to the rear of the hangar bay. "The Colonials, that's what these people call themselves are going out of their way to be helpful and to keep the media away from us."
"Thanks sir, has Colonel Parsons appeared yet sir?" Capt. Addams asked as the Army Guard Colonel led him back to the rooms the Colonials had them bunking in. "I can stand a shower about now and a change of uniform." He sniffed himself and smiled adding, "I've been in that cockpit most of the day and smell a bit ripe."
COL Pierce smiled and nodded understanding, "That's ok Captain most of us could stand some personal hygiene about now, but the Colonials want to get the administrative crap out of the way first. I expect after that we'll all be allowed to shower and change into clean uniforms. In the case of my Special Operators and the Army Guard infantry platoon in the Chinook we'd been on a field live fire exercise in Utah. The Marine platoon had been in New Mexico on a similar exercise. We all smell like we've been in the wild several weeks. All my people need to have access to a laundry as well. I think the Colonials will be giving us clothing to wear in the meantime."
Capt. Addams nodded as he listened to the Colonel and walked beside him, "Colonel who will be in command of the American military here when we deal with the Colonials you or Colonel Parsons?" Addams saw that COL Pierce looked him in the eyes then as they both stopped short of a series of eight foot long portable tables.
"Captain, Colonel Parsons has date of rank on me so she'll be in command of our group. She and I had this talk a short while ago. Now I will be in command of all of our ground personnel, but she's in command of all you aviators. The civilians have yet to elect a leader," said COL Pierce of the COARNG Special Forces. He looked out across the large hangar where the Colonials now had all their air craft parked within including the 737 and the E-3 Sentry. Addams four F-22s belonging to the Hawaiian Air National Guard were parked in fighter service bays, the COARNG CH-46 Chinook and the USMC MV-22 Osprey were parked alongside the far wall and near to the hangar doors. The Marine Corps and Army NCOs had their people cleaning their M-4s and other small arms and those not cleaning a firearm were standing watch over the displaced Americans and other nationals who were on the Southwest Air Lines 737.
Addams looked around too and he saw that the pilots were checking over their air craft or like their Marine and Army Guard counterparts were taking care of personal equipment and weapons. "It seems sir that we're not going home anytime soon and I for one would like to know where in this wide universe we truly are. That tunnel, vortex, whatever it was looked like those wormholes the astrophysicists and quantum physicist love to go on about." As he talked Addams looked around and noticed that a man in a grayish green Colonial Fleet duty dress uniform was approaching them. Addams felt as if he was looking at his father or perhaps even an older version of himself. He also saw as the man got closer he too carried a look of confusion or perhaps recognition.
"Good evening gentlemen, I'm Commander William Adama of the Colonial Fleet and Commanding Officer of the CFB Valkyrie. I've been temporarily assigned as the Colonial Fleet Liaison Officer to your military personnel. The civilians will be interviewed by the Colonial Ministry of Health and Welfare along with the Colonial Ministry of Interior. Colonel Parsons is already in the hangar's class room so if you would follow me." Cmdr. Adama directed them to follow him and he led them to the class room where the Senior Officers' Debriefing was about to begin.
The briefing or rather debriefing lasted three hours Capt. Addams was sure that he had thoroughly let the Colonials know what all he could about Earth, the United States of America, the US Air Force without compromising operational security. He drank some Caprican coffee off to the side of the class room staring off into space at some spot on the far wall. At some point the Colonials had disarmed the officers in the class room saying that their sidearms would be returned later. His survival vest's integral holster was currently empty. Lost in his own world he was replaying the entire flight though his head trying to figure out if they could have somehow gone around the wormhole.
"A cubit for your thoughts sir," said a young blond female Colonial Fleet officer. From the stylized wings she wore on the left breast of her uniform coat Addams deduced she was a Colonial Fleet Aviator, thus a Pilot. "On Earth in the United States we would ask only for a penny which is one, one hundredth of a dollar. I guess though a cubit could buy mine and a bit more," he said looking at the woman before him. He guessed she was only a year or two younger than him.
"Well I thought I would see what was on your mind seeing that you had a thousand light year stare going there," she said smiling. "I'm Kara Thrace by the way. I'm the one who talked your birds into our lovely patch of paradise." She turned to look back at the other Earth officers, the few of them there were that is. As she did so she filled up a cup with the coffee and drank it black. Addams smiled saying, "A woman after my own heart. I hope you don't like your men to closing like your coffee, you know hot, dark, and strong."
Kara smiled at him saying, "The hot and strong are enough for me." Then she asked, "So I understand you were from an island before your people just suck up and dropped on us?"
Nodding and frowning a little Addams answered, "Yes, Hawaii, well actually the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Island chain. My air base is on that island. Though, we were flying over the United States' Desert Southwest at the time. The Four Corners Region, so called because four of our mainland states come together in nearly square corners there, has a history of unusual disappearances. It's sort of a dry land Bermuda Triangle. That's another area of unusual nautical and aeronautical disasters, and such located off the east coast of the State of Florida. It seems all of us," he pointed at the American officers and the two civilian Flight Officers of the air liner with an inclusive circular motion of his coffee cup while pointing the index finger of the hand holding the cup, "were engulfed in the anomaly that brought us here. I guess by now the air traffic controls centers, both military and civilian have begun searches for us. This time tomorrow there will be air and ground search and rescue searches. They won't find anything because there won't be any sign of us spread across thousands of miles of desert, mountains and such. That part of the United States is pretty desolate. It is where one of our ancient peoples is said to have come to Earth too."
Kara, not usually a scholarly type listened as he went on to tell one of the creation myths of that region. When she asked about him being from Hawaii again and how he knew of these myths Addams smiled saying, "Call me Bill, and well I was born in Durango, Colorado and journeyed throughout the Four Corners prior to going to the Air Force Academy. I'm not native to Hawaii; I love the desert and its beauty as much as I love the lush rain forest of Hawaii's islands. Each place has its own special rugged beauty." Kara smiled at him as he went on to describe both of his favorite places. He then said, "I've flown and fought over Iraq and in the mountainous deserts of Afghanistan yet they don't hold a special place in my heart like the Painted Desert of Utah, the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico, or the canyon country of northeastern Arizona or southeastern Utah. The ruggedness of the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Canyon de Chelly, or the Mesa Verde region near my home town of Durango each are as special to me as each of the islands from the big one, Hawaii down or rather up the chain to the smallest does in my heart. The people of those places also are special to me."
Kara saw that Bill was longing for his home already and wanted to reassure him, but she didn't know if she could say the right words. As soon as all the Earth aircraft cleared the wormhole it snapped shut like a Scorpian Snap Dragon Turtle's mouth. The base's DRADIS and other sensors recorded what they could, but she felt, no knew that it would take years for anyone to figure out how to get these people home. One thing she hadn't said yes, but one of the Fleet's Astrogation Officers, a man who also had two doctorates one in Astrophysics and the other in Quantum Mechanics, said, "There was a time fluctuation within in the wormhole. It wasn't just a natural version of what occurs when we do an FTL jump, but those craft have fallen through time and space. I doubt we'll be able to return them home, at least not to the home they knew." That was just from the initial study of the data recorded. Weeks will pass before there is a fuller understanding of just what happened.
She looked at Bill wondering to herself, 'How do you tell a man he's now nearly one hundred fifty thousand years in his past with no way home.' Bill saw the pained look she gave him over the lip of her cup as she sipped some more of her coffee. He was about to ask her what was on her mind when the senior Colonial Fleet officers from both the Fleet Operations Command and Fleet Intelligence Command resumed the debriefing or perhaps now it was the briefing. He took a seat next to Col. Parsons to the left of COL Pierce then the rest of the Earth officers sat to his left in order of rank and seniority. The lowest was the Marine Corps Second Lieutenant in command of the Marine Force Recon Platoon.
Another three hours passed before the interrogation finally ended and the Colonials were happy with what they learned that didn't compromise the Earthers' OpSec. It was Cmdr. Adama who broke the news to the Earth officers when he said, "Colonels Parson and Pierce, Captain Addams, Lieutenants I feel great sorrow to have to inform you of your complete predicament. We ran the sensor data over and over for the last six to eight hours and it may be weeks, months, if not years before we completely know for sure, but it looks like you are now the only members of Earth population in the Twelve Colonies. It seems that not only have you traveled over a vast distance of space, but also that of time. You see though we don't know precisely how far you've traveled light years I assure you. We do suspect that your travel through time has been well if you were able to return home legendary. It seems the Colonies are well we're in your past."
Col. Parsons took it upon herself to ask the question on everyone's lips and in their minds, "Sir, Commander Adama exactly just how far in our past are we?" Her voice was wavering as she asked. Her up to now steel like resolve was becoming as brittle as cast iron. Addams could sense it in her voice as she asked her question and he cast a worried look to her.
Adama breathed in to calm himself as he too knew just how scary all this could be. Then he answered, "From our specialists' initial examinations it seems that you are all one hundred fifty thousand years in your past or to put it another way from about that long in our future." A person could hear the building creak as it got so quiet that even the breathing of his countrymen and women was stilled briefly by the shock.
COL Pierce looked Adama in the eyes like the straight shooter Addams deduced he was from his talk with the man earlier and asked, "Are you serious? There wasn't any mistakes in calculations? The data is accurate, right?"
Adama nodded saying, "As I have said the final study is yet to be completed, but the initial findings are that you are now many millennia in your own past. Since your aircraft computers didn't have the correct navigational data in them we are at a loss as to where to take you. Getting home may be academic as it will be a primitive world we could be taking you all back to. The other senior officers and Secretary Roslin are proposing you integrate yourselves into Colonial society. From talks with the President and the leaders of the Military and the Quorum our legislature we've decided to offer your officers and senior NCOs berths in the Fleet and Colonial Marine Corps at ranks equal to your current ones. Your enlisted and junior NCOs will be tested and integrated into our armed forces at the closest rank that merits their skills and experience. Those of you currently in the United States Air Force will be integrated into Colonial Fleet Aviation and the rest of you who are either United States Army or United States Marine Corps will be integrated into the Colonial Marine Corps." He looked at each of them from the highest ranking to the lowest and back gauging their reactions. He relaxed when Col. Parsons spoke up again.
"Commander we will as it seems from your people's initial investigation be stuck here. So we can't live off your society's largess. I will discuss this with the officers, NCOs, and enlisted. We'll have answer after we've talked it over. As for the civilian pilots it's their call as it is for the civilian stranded here with us. We all swore and oath to protect our nation's constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic and some of us," she looked then at the Army and Air National Guardsmen in the room with her, "also took a similar oath to do the same with their state constitutions. We won't foreswear our oaths. If by some feat of science or nature we can return to our homes we will be loyal to our nation and its component states over the colonies, but until then if we enlist or receive commissions in the Colonial Armed Forces we will honor our oaths of service to the Colonies. Just remember we come from a military tradition where it is or was at least honorable to disobey illegal or immoral orders."
Adama nodded and then let them go about deciding their fate.