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The Valkyrie Protocol Snippet #5

David's and Jacob Holo's newest alternate, cross history novel.
The Valkyrie Protocol Snippet #5
Post by runsforcelery   » Fri Aug 09, 2019 4:06 pm

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

Posts: 2418
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:39 am
Location: South Carolina

Chapter Four
Transtemporal Vehicle Kleio, non-congruent


Lieutenant Sarah Schoeffel opened her eyes, then squinted from the sudden brightness. Her eyes watered, and she blinked away the involuntary tears as someone spoke in a language she didn't understand:

"She's waking up."

"Everyone, switch over to Russian. We'll see if that works."

"And if it doesn't?"

"Then we'll improvise
."

"Hello? Who's there?" Sarah asked, shielding her eyes from the glare. She sat up to find herself on a glass casket within in a white room. Despite the odd machinery around her, the room possessed the careful sterility of a medical facility. She patted herself down. Her clothes and boots had been removed, replaced with a medical gown.

But she wasn't in pain. That was a start.

What had happened to her?

She struggled to sort through her muddled memories as she glanced around the room, only to discover she wasn't alone. Three other people were present: a huge brute with long blonde hair in a ponytail, a handsome middle-aged man with piercing gray eyes, and a woman who, despite her smooth pale skin, somehow came across as rugged and tough-as-nails. All three of them wore grayish green uniforms, the flashes on their right shoulders showing a golden eye and sword over a black background.

"Who are you?" Sarah asked. "Where am I?"

The three of them looked at each other expectantly.

"Which one of us is supposed to talk to her?" the woman asked after an awkward pause.

"I thought you were going to," the blonde brute said to the other man.

"Me? Raibert, you're the one who said he's done this before."

"In Ancient Greece!"

"That's still better than me."

"Okay, fine! Let's not argue in front of her. I'll do it
." The brute cleared his throat and stepped forward. "Hello, Lieutenant Sarah Schoeffel. My name is Agent Raibert Kaminski. These are agents Benjamin and Elzbietá Schröder. Can you understand the language I'm using?"

Sarah nodded. His outlandish accent presented a challenge, and his word choice made him sound like he'd been plucked from a very old movie, but she could manage.

"How do you know my name?"

"It was written on the front of your flight suit."

"Of course." She glanced down at her medical gown.

"You were in pretty bad shape when we found you. You'd suffered severe blunt trauma. Your neck and quite a few bones were broken, and there was a fair amount of internal bleeding."

Her heart sank as she reached up to touch the back of her neck. Where was her neck brace? What kind of drugs did they have her on to make her feel this good?

"Will I live?" she asked.

"What?" Raibert blurted, clearly surprised by her question. "Uhh, I mean, yes! Absolutely! We've fixed you up good as new. Or at least really close to new. You're going to be just fine."

"But you said . . ." She looked around the room again, at the glass casket she sat in, then at their uniforms once more. "You're not with the World Union, are you."

It wasn't a question.

"That's right. We're from the Consolidated System Police, Gordian Division."

"Never heard of it."

"That's because we're from . . ." Raibert twirled his hands as if trying to conjure up the right phrase. ". . . out of town."

"'Out of town?'" Elzbietá echoed, shaking her head.

"It's not inaccurate," he protested.

"Maybe. But there're a lot of ways you could be more accurate."

"We're getting a little sidetracked," Benjamin cut in. "The chronoton surge, Raibert."

"Right. Yeah," he sighed. "Sarah, the truth is we need your help. Can you tell us what happened?"

"I don't . . ." she paused, raking through the scrambled contents of her mind.

What happened . . . what happened . . .?

What had happened to her?

"Maybe start with how you ended up getting bounced around in your time machine?" Raibert suggested.

"I . . ."

Her lips trembled, and her eyes moistened as a memory of pain blossomed in her mind like a blood-soaked flower.

The world had been vanishing before their eyes. She remembered running into her father's office as he poured over the Chronoton Detection Array's raw data. Doctor Kim Schoeffel had been hunched over a monitor, white-haired and pale as a ghost. One look from his eyes had told answered all her questions.

This was the end of everything. The past was eating all of reality. The present was becoming unhinged, falling into the depths of their universe. There was nothing they could do. No miracle his brilliant mind could conjure. All of reality was doomed, but for one last, lonely hope. For himself and for his only daughter.

The prototype: Puteshestvennik Odin.

They'd raced through the complex, passed men and women weeping, praying, and calling loved ones to say goodbye.

They'd reached the hangar.

The ship's field, her father had said. If it couldn't protect them, nothing would.

She opened the hatch.

A gunshot.

A push from behind, and she fell into the time machine.

Her father slammed the hatch shut.

Two more gunshots.

She'd turned to see him smile at her. Even in death, even at the end of all things, he'd somehow managed to save the one person he treasured more than anything else, even his own life. She couldn't hear his last words from the inside, but she didn't need to. She knew what he'd said, even as her eyes had filled with tears and he'd slumped out of sight, fingers leaving bloody streaks down the porthole.

She knew.

A World Union security guard slammed the butt of his rifle against the hatch and shouted at her, a look of frantic desperation on his face.

She'd raced for the impeller ignition, flipped it, reached for the control stick—

—and then the world ended.

Her forehead had smacked against the controls, and the world went dark as the prototype tumbled through time and space.

"Oh, God . . ." She covered her mouth with a shaky hand. "It's gone! It's all gone!"

"I'm sorry," Raibert said, bowing his head slightly. "Truly I am."

"The entire world!" Tears blurred her vision. "It's all gone!"

"I know this must be a difficult time for you, but—"

Elzbietá put a hand on Raibert's shoulder, and he stopped.

"Let me take it from here," she said softly and stepped forward.

Sarah wiped at her eyes. How could everyone and everything she'd ever known be gone? How was this even possible?

Elzbietá knelt in front of her and took hold of her unresisting hand.

"Sarah?"

She sniffled but managed to nod.

"You're not alone."

"Ha!" she snorted without humor. "I've n-never been more alone in my entire life."

"That may be so," the woman nodded, "but I know exactly how you feel."

"You're lying!" she spat, damp trails streaking down her cheeks. "How could you possibly know what this is like?!"

"Because, Sarah, just like you, I'm a survivor from a dead universe."

"You . . ." her lower lip quivered, words catching in her throat. Facts started to beat their way through the grief, and now that she considered her situation, what the hell was going on? If all of time and space was dead . . . then where and when was she? Who were these people and where did they come from?

"Your universe is dead," the woman continued, clasping her hand, "and there's nothing we can do about that. But this isn't the end. There's a whole multiverse out there. That's where this ship, and everyone on it, came from."

"A . . . .m-m-multiverse?"

"That's right. And I know you just met us, but I hope you'll believe me when I tell you're we're here to help. Something terrible's happened here, and even though it's beyond our power to fix it, we're going to make damned sure we figure out what happened. And more importantly, how to prevent it so other universes won't share the same fate. Does that sound like something you'd be willing to help us with?"

She sucked in a ragged breath, then nodded.

"So, Sarah," the other woman asked gently. "Please. Can you help us understand what's going on here?"

"I can't." She shook her head. "My father might have been able to help you, but he's . . . he's . . ."

"I see." The other woman nodded. "Then say no more." She patted her hand and stood up.

"Come on," Benjamin urged quietly. "Let's give her some space."

The big guy grimaced as he turned for the door.

"Hold on," Sarah said.

All three of them stopped.

She took a deep breath, wiped away the glistening trails under her eyes, and looked up at them.

"I can't help you," she said after a long pause, "but my flight recorder can."

* * * * * * * * * *

"It'll be fine." Elzbietá put a hand on Raibert's back and guided him out of the room. "You just leave Sarah to me."

"You sure?" he asked doubtfully.

"Yes, Raibert." She patted him on the back. "The last thing she needs right now is your barrage of questions."

"I'm not that bad. Just one or two to get a better idea of what happened to T4."

"I know, but it'll wait."

"Come on." Benjamin nodded his head down the corridor. "Let's go take a look at that flight recorder."

"All right," Raibert huffed. He glanced back at Sarah, who sat in a chair next to the recovery casket, staring down at her hands in silence.

"And take your time," Elzbietá added.

"All right."

Elzbietá finished shooing the two men away then sent a quick command to keep the room's door open. She didn't want their guest to feel locked in.

"I'll just be a minute," she said.

Sarah nodded, not looking up.

Elzbietá ordered a cup of hot chocolate and had it delivered to the bridge. Microbots transported the sealed mug to the command table, and she picked it up and brought it back to the medical bay.

"Here you go." She unsealed the top. "By the way, I'm Elzbietá. Elzbietá Schröder ."

Sarah glanced up at the steaming chocolate, complete with a fat marshmallow bobbing up and down.

"Thanks . . . Elzbietá," she said, taking the mug and holding it with both hands.

Elzbietá sat down next to her and waited.

"So," Sarah said after a while, her face scrunched up in confusion.

"Yeah?"

"You're from a dead universe?"

"That's right."

Sarah set the mug down on the recovery casket and faced her.

"How did that happen?"

"It's—" Elzbietá paused as a sudden surge of emotions welled up within her. The memory of watching that universe fall apart, dispersing like sand in the wind, still haunted her.

"Sorry," Sarah said.

"No, it's all right," Elzbietá reassured her, and flashed a confident smile. "It's a long story. The short of it is there was this knot in time centered on the twentieth century. Sixteen universes were tangled up in it, and we managed to save almost all of them."

"Just not the one you're from."

"Yeah," Elzbietá sighed, nodding.

"And the other two?" Sarah gestured out the open doorway. "Are they also from dead universes?"

"Oh, no. They're both from Universe-T1. We call it SysGov, though technically Raibert—the big guy—is the only one from there."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because Benjamin is from 2018."

"He is?"

"Don't act so surprised. I'm from that year, too, and we picked up our boss in 1958."

"Wow." Sarah shook her head. "Sounds like quite a crew."

"You can say that again!" Elzbietá laughed.

"So." She scrunched up her face. "All of you travel around the multiverse and . . . do what, exactly?"

"First, we have the Gordian Protocol: a law that restricts temporal and transdimensional activities. Time travel turns out to be dangerous stuff — way more dangerous than anyone had thought it was — which is why we not only enforce the Gordian Protocol back home but also keep an eye out for other societies that have developed the same technology. That's why we came here. To make first contact and educate your society on the dangers."

"You were a little late."


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: The Valkyrie Protocol Snippet #5
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:40 am

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

Posts: 2285
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:54 pm
Location: East Central Illinois

"You were a little late."

You can say that again. :lol:
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
*
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Re: The Valkyrie Protocol Snippet #5
Post by TFLYTSNBN   » Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:06 am

TFLYTSNBN
Vice Admiral

Posts: 1617
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:58 am

You need to loose the hospital gown.
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Re: The Valkyrie Protocol Snippet #5
Post by Bluesqueak   » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:05 am

Bluesqueak
Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 378
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2016 2:04 pm

TFLYTSNBN wrote:You need to loose the hospital gown.


In The Gordian Protocol, Benjamin dresses Elzbieta in a hospital gown just after she gets out of the medical unit.

Presumably they've now adjusted the med-unit to accommodate early 21st Century customs/ethics regarding vulnerable patients and nakedness.
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Re: The Valkyrie Protocol Snippet #5
Post by tonyz   » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:14 pm

tonyz
Lieutenant Commander

Posts: 136
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Location: Riverside, CA

I'm assuming that the Krypton vibes are deliberate (planet blowing up, father sealing his child in the only pod to make it out.)

Birth of Supergirl? Or just a fun allusion?
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Re: The Valkyrie Protocol Snippet #5
Post by Lunan   » Sat Aug 10, 2019 7:36 pm

Lunan
Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 397
Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 8:06 am

interesting i didn't catch that. just so long as Darksied doesn't show up, its too hard to write that character well, not that david isn't potentially up to it, but well. its very hard to write that one well

tonyz wrote:I'm assuming that the Krypton vibes are deliberate (planet blowing up, father sealing his child in the only pod to make it out.)

Birth of Supergirl? Or just a fun allusion?
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Re: The Valkyrie Protocol Snippet #5
Post by TFLYTSNBN   » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:04 pm

TFLYTSNBN
Vice Admiral

Posts: 1617
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:58 am

Bluesqueak wrote:
TFLYTSNBN wrote:You need to loose the hospital gown.


In The Gordian Protocol, Benjamin dresses Elzbieta in a hospital gown just after she gets out of the medical unit.

Presumably they've now adjusted the med-unit to accommodate early 21st Century customs/ethics regarding vulnerable patients and nakedness.



While I am well aware of 21st Century customs/ethics regarding vulnerable patients and nudity, I have my reputation to live down to. A real man wouldn't dress a woman who is already naked.

This of course reminds me of the protagonist's dilemma in Joy Halderman's FOREVEVER WAR. Thanks to reletivity, he ends up becoming the only heterosexual male in a future society of homosexuals. When he gets a female drunk and has to put her to bed, he evaluates the ethics of undressing and/or taking advantsge of her. I thought his decision was hilarious.
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