An ungodly heat blanketed the planet; it was indeed earth's darkest hour. With less then 12 hours remaining, the once life giving sun would soon turn the planet into an ashen cinder. The sun was expanding in slow motion, a phenomenon that defied man's understanding of stellar physics. It was like the sun had gone nova, yet itdidn't act like a super nova. Even Doctor Sam Ross couldn't explain it and he was the super genius of the era.
Sam listened to the address by the president on a portable radio, a device that he would never have been allowed to have in the research area 48 hours ago. Now, what could the military types really do about it? Why bother, its not like a leak would help any foreign government at this point. No matter how one looked at it, they wouldn't have time to make use of the information. It had taken him 10 years to get his invention to work. It would take them far longer then that, of that much Sam was sure. That was far more time then the earth and the human species had.
The address the president was making was meant for the outbound flights. Three brave ships of colonists launched into the heavens 5 years ago. Brave or foolish, Sam wouldn't say. Sam wasn't really interested in the president's speech; he had been enjoying the conspiracy debate that had been preempted. He was almost on the floor with laughter over the theory that aliens were destroying us. It seemed that no matter what, man needed to blame someone else for everything.
Still thinking about it, Sam had to admit that mankind's future now rested on the three small spacecraft launched more than five years ago. That is the only reason they had any chance to survive. Sam wasn't sure if it was good enough; they were only about 1 light year away. If they survived the radiation blast they might have a chance. Still it would be 300 years before the sleepers defrosted and learned of their fate.He believed his plan was better. A plan he was currently working on despite the military types who were hovering all over him. The timer he had installed on the equipment would allow him to escape at least. He could have used his assistant's help to install it. However, he had no idea were she had gotten off to. Fact was she gave him an erection every time he looked at her. She had made subtle advances towards him in the past. He regretted that he had ignored them now. Still it would not have been appropriate for the two of them given their work environment.
Sam sighed; if the military had only listened there would have been other options.He had invented a device that literally displaced the contents of a field created by the device in time and in space. It was the first and last time transport device ever created. The field inside the machine was barely big enough for an average sized man to fit into, even then only if the person was folded in a fetal position. If Dr Ross had received more funding, and hadn't done his research on a shoestring, the device could have been bigger. Still, it was an accomplishment that would have staggered the scientific elite. That is if there had been time to disclose his discovery to academia—however unlikely that would have ever happened in his lifetime. The only reason the military had funded the project at all was the spatial displacement affect of the device. They liked the idea of a transporter that could materialize a bomb inside a target and bypass the missile shields. Never mind the fact that it didn't actually work that way. However, it did a close enough imitation of a transporter that no one had actually taken the time travel part of the equation seriously—no one but its inventor that is. Sam had developed it for time travel. It was too bad that the only way to fund it required very limited black operations funding.
At the present time, only a handful of people knew of his breakthrough and the existence of the device. In fact, it was classified by the military as a potential weapons system and that was the guise under which he had received his funding. It was also the reason the field generator was so small. It only needed to be large enough to send a warhead though. Still, Sam had briefed the military liaison that people could be sent though. He had put forth a plan yesterday, only to have it dismissed out of hand. So, Sam shouldn't have been surprised when Colonel Washington, the officer in charge of the project, and 12 other armed individuals walked into the lab dressed in full cameo battle gear. He had briefed Col Washington less than a day ago on his idea to escape into the past. Although he received a big no in the meeting, he was also shocked that he was allowed to continue to play with his device; perhaps the no was more reaction then an absolute decision. No, it seemed the Col had his own plans. Either that or the man thought it would take that many men to stop Sam from using the device.
What really shocked Sam was the Col was dressed in full combat gear and armed as well. 'So' Sam thought, 'They are planning on going somewhere."
"Col Washington!" Sam greeted the Col.
Washington responded with the only thing really on his mind, "You sure this thing will really work?"
"We have proven that already, you know it will work."
"And just how far back can we send a person in time?"
"As far as we want— back to the time of dinosaurs if you would like. Does this mean what I think it does?"
"More then enough time. And yes, all 14 of us are going back in time on a rescue mission. The plan is to jumpstart the development of the colonization program and save many more people from this planet in this time."
"Ah Col Washington, you are aware the time chamber is only big enough for one person." It was only one of Sam's problems with this idea. It just happened to be the first one that he blurted out.
The man smiled, "But we can send all of us back one at a time can't we? I mean to the same point in time that is."
Sam smiled saying, "Yes; that would work." Then Sam frowned as he looked around the group even as his mind worried about the various paradoxes that could result from sending so many back to the same time point. Twenty years wasn't the same as two minutes. If the first person changed the timeline too much before the second person was sent back. Then it was possible that the timeline would be altered, and they wouldn't be here to go back.
"What's the matter Doc? Why do you have that concerned look on your face?"
"Well for one," Sam started looking out over the group gathered in the room. "Two of the people here are a bit too big to fit within the time field."
The two largest men looked at each other with the concern evident on their faces. They were both wondering in their own way what being too big could possible mean.
"The chamber is more then big enough for them to fit inside." Washington said with confidence.
"Yes Sir, but the field we generated inside the chamber is not. If we try to send them though..." He trailed off at the ghastly vision conjured up by his mind. As the image formed in his mind's eye, Sam's body shuddered perceptibly at the thought.
Col Washington noted the shudder and prompted Sam with a simple question.
"Yes?" It had the desired affect of bringing Sam back to the reality of the moment.
"Oh I am sorry, you see, anything not inside the time field when it's engaged, well let's just says that parts of their bodies could be separated with part remaining in this time, and the rest going to the new time. You see, only what is within the field will be transported though time."
The ghastly thought caused everyone to shudder. They all knew there would be dangers associated with this mission. They had their briefing not 30 minutes ago.However, hearing that their bodies might not make it through the time portal in one piece, well that did cause them to wonder at just how safe this device really was.
Kent Jason, the largest man recovered first and stated his position. "I will take my chances. Better to lose some skin then die here."
Sam nodded, "Very well you can be the last one though then." It was a statement not a suggestion. Besides it gave Sam the insight that each individual was thinking more about saving his or her own life. The Col's mission was not exactly what the members of the mission had on their minds.
"Why?" Kent asked.
Sam did not want to say the man was so big he didn't what to see the mess the process would make of him. So instead he tried some other explanation.
"Well the others will have to be ready to render first aid—if it's even possible." Then he shrugged like he wasn't sure.
Kent cringed. However, Dirk Wilson offered his thoughts, "Perhaps I should be the one who the pushes the buttons then. I mean in the here and now, death will come quickly. And if the rest of you make it, I might not have to do this in the first place."
Kent shot the slightly smaller man a look that could kill, not that Dirk paid it any mind. Not wanting the situation to escalate Col Washington barked out "Enough!"When the two men resumed their stance at attention, he readdressed Sam. "What was the other concern you had, and why don't you just make the field bigger?"
Sam thought about the second question even as he spoke. "I am worried about the paradox that could result. It's possible that just one person could change things enough that we would be unable to send everyone else though.
"I believe your solution when troop transport was suggested was to phase the reentry one minute apart going backwards in time." Washington stated.
.... There is more of this story ...