A Brave New World
Chapter 3 – Prequel Part 2
New Disclaimer: See Chapter 1
A/N: Sorry about the delay. This is getting a bit complicated.
Immediately after SECNAV closed the door AJ was on the phone, “Tiner get a hold of Commander Rabb, Lieutenant Colonel MacKenzie, Commander Turner, Captain Stiles, Lieutenant Roberts, Lieutenant (jg) Roberts, Lieutenant Commander Coleman and Gunnery Sergeant Galindez and have them report to my office immediately. When they arrive, show them in and accompany them.”
“Yes sir,” Tiner replied then hung up and began calling. That task completed he called his relief for his desk.
All personnel arrived at Tiner’s desk inside of five minutes then were escorted into the Admiral’s office.
After they had all entered the admiral’s office and the door shut, AJ began his briefing summerizing SECNAV’s information and what their mission was to be. Even so it took him nearly forty-five minutes to get tall the information out.
When he was finished they all sat there with stunned expressions on their faces, except for Commander Rabb. In fact he seemed to be having a revelation of some kind.
“You don’t seem to be as shocked as the rest of us Commander,” AJ said addressing Rabb, “Would you care to share?”
“Sir, when I was younger and searching for my father I was granted access to some files in the Pentagon, during my research I came across some files that looked to have been misfiled. The boxes were filled with audio and video tapes. I began playing the audio tapes, they were NIS debriefing/interview tapes of the crew of the Nimitz about the incident you just described.”
AJ was initially shocked, but quickly came to realize that an investigation would be done when you lose an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Pacific for two days.
“I thought up until now that it was a joke of some kind, but now that I think back on it all of the tapes that I listened to corroborated each other exactly. The video tapes that I watched were recorded RADAR tracks of surface and air contacts.”
“What type of contacts?”
“On the surface it looked like six heavies surrounded by escorts totaling twenty-four ships.”
“Wasn’t that the number of ships in the Pearl Harbor strike force?” Bud asked.
“Yes it was,” answered admiral Chegwidden.
“The air contacts showed a massive amount of aircraft in two main strike sections heading south, towards Pearl.”
“So commander, you think he actually travelled to the past?”
“Yesterday I would have told you it was a joke, today I’m not so sure.”
“There’s something else commander.”
“Yes sir, Bud can you pull up the service record of Leroy Jethro Gibbs?”
As Bud did this AJ asked, “What is it commander?”
“I thought Gibbs’ name sound familiar. When I was researching my father in the early eighties I came across what I thought was a miss filed record. It was filled with transcripts and tapes of a NCIS debriefing on the Nimitz’s disappearance in December nineteen seventy nine.”
“What does this have do with Special Agent Gibbs.”
“I have it commander.”
“Excellent, Bud where was Gibbs stationed in December of seventy nine?”
Glancing through the record he quickly found it, “In seventy nine he was stationed on board the Nimitz with the Marine Security Force,” he said slightly shocked.
“Now Bud what was his record like before the Nimitz?”
“Where’s this going commander?” AJ asked curious and judging by the looks around him so was everybody else. They all remembered the tenacity Gibbs used against ‘Harm’ during his murder investigation.
“Let’s see,” Bud began he voice slightly shocked by what he was reading, “to say he was a below average Marine would be kind. It looks as though he did the bare minimums, a trouble maker, went of Office Hours three times and reduced in rank to Lance Corporal, he was not recommended for retention.”
Everyone was extremely shocked by what they were hearing, they knew Gibbs as a by the book Marine who wasn’t one for slacking off, taking his job very seriously.
“And after the alleged incident?”
“Immediately after the incident he was recommended for retention by both then Captain Yelland and his Marine Commanding Officer. He did a complete one eighty and became the poster child for the Marine Corps. He re-enlisted and was sent to all of the Marine’s premier schools, graduating at the top of all his classes and began a course of rapid promotion, in many cases ahead of schedule.”
“Which schools?” AJ asked.
“Sniper, insurgency, counter-insurgency, escape and evasion to name a few. It looks like he went to every combat school the Marines had at the time, including some Army Special Forces schools.”
“It’s almost like he was preparing for something big,” Harm commented.
“Harm that’s just ridiculous,” Mac countered, “they couldn’t have traveled to the past, it’s just so science fiction.”
Before AJ could speak his mind his intercom buzzed, “I thought I said not to disturb us.”
“Yes, sir,” a young voice answered back, “but there’s a Colonel Walker and party here to see you, sir.”
“Send them in immediately,” responded standing and turning off his intercom as the door opened, revealing five Marines.
Walking up to Walker, AJ held out his hand, “It’s good to see you Colonel, but I thought you’d be arriving at 1400 hours,” looking at his watch, realizing it was lunch, almost three hours had past during his in brief.
“So did I,” Walker said grasping the Admiral’s hand firmly; “however, our orders were changed. The plane now departs Andrews at 1400 hours,” handing AJ the new orders.
AJ’s eyes widened at that. They had only two hours to get their affairs in order and be at Andrews. Quickly schooling his shock he started issuing orders to his staff.
“Commander Turner will be in charge until I return, it should only be about two weeks max. Everyone else pack your bags, SECNAV suggested, strongly that we pack a completed sea bag, with extra BDU’s as we may be called upon to accompany the troops on the simulated assaults. Also SECNAC has authorized a week’s vacation in Hawaii after this is over so bring your civvies, dismissed.”
Everyone stood and departed the room quickly. As the door closed on Admiral Chegwidden and Colonel Walker’s party, Harm turned to Bud, “Bud I need you to do something for me, it’s not entirely legal.”
“I want you hack into the German, Italian and Japanese mainframes.”
Shocked that the Commander would ask such a thing he was nevertheless curious as to why.
At Bud’s questioning look as well as the looks of his co-workers he amplified, “Not necessarily their government/military mainframes, but their corporate ones. I want you to look for anything that seems to out the order, strange, something that was done for no apparent reason.”
“What are you thinking, Harm?” Mac asked now curious
“I’m thinking that their involvement in this exercise may not be as innocent as it seems.”
“How’s that Commander?” this question from Lieutenant Commander Coleman.
“Call it a gut feeling.”
“Harm you can’t change the past, we wouldn’t exist.”
“True enough, unless of course you buy into Einstein’s ‘multiple worlds’ theory.” At their confused looks, Bud elaborated.
“Einstein’s theory holds that when there is a decision to be made that all possible outcomes occur,” at there continued looks of confusion he continued, “Take the roll of a dice. It has six sides so there are six possible outcomes. Einstein’s theory holds that not one but all outcomes happen, forming six distinct timelines.”
When that finally sunk in their faces changed from confused to horrified at the thought that somewhere out there Germany had won World War II. Then it hit most of them that with what the Admiral had told them a short time ago and Harm’s story blood drained from there faces at the possible implications.
“That’s not possible,” Mac stated firmly, hoping that it was true. The other nodded their heads in agreement, but in the backs of their heads the seeds of the idea had been planted.
“What sort of unusual things should I be looking for?”
“Things that I don’t know just seem off, things that were done for no apparent reason, just I don’t strange.”
“Alright Commander, anything else?”
“Just in case I would bring whatever you think you may need.”
“What would you recommend?”
“Money for one, maybe some amenities, we’ll meet at Andrews at 1330 hours, see you there.”
With that they all left to get ready for there mission.
ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE
As they all gathered in front of the C-5 Galaxy that was to take them to Pearl Harbor, they unloaded their baggage and stowed it aboard the aircraft.
When all baggage was stowed and all present and accounted for they board and sat as the large aircraft began to taxi. Commander Rabb turned to Bud.
“I’m sorry Commander I haven’t had a chance yet, but I’ll try during the flight out.”
“Good enough let me know when you’ve got something.”
14 HOURS LATER
After unloading all baggage from the C-5 they proceeded to the docked carrier USS Nimitz as she was in the final stages of getting underway. They made their way to their assigned staterooms. When they were situated Harm went to see Bud. AJ went to pay his respects to Admiral Yelland and report his presence aboard.
As AJ made his way to ‘Flag Country’ he saw a group of civilians walking towards him, three men and two women. One man was white, over six feet tall, had a beard and was immaculately dressed; another was black and dressed like a car mechanic, while the third oddly enough was dressed as a town sheriff, from Eureka, California of all places. Of the two women one was black and like the bearded man was immaculately dressed while the other was Hispanic and dressed like the sheriff except as the deputy sheriff.
They passed without saying a word to each other, mostly because the civilians were deep in a complex conversation that the Admiral couldn’t and didn’t even try to follow, just nodding to acknowledge their presence and continue on their respective paths.
“Well Bud, anything?”
“Yes sir, I’ve got, well, something but I’m not sure what exactly,” at the Commanders look he continued, “it’s strange there’s a lot of geological surveys and satellite photos.”
“That’s just it Commander they’re all heavily encrypted. It’ll take some time.”
“Do it, let me know as soon as you as you break the encryption.”
Two hours later Nimitz was underway and headed to the exercise area.
Director NCIS, Jennifer Shepard, exited the elevator and was heading to the stairs to return to her office after a grueling four days of meeting in Brussels with representatives of the world intelligence communities discussing the War of Terror.
As she entered to bullpen where Gibbs’ team was normally located she noticed that not a single person was present. Curious, when she entered her officer she called autopsy to ask ‘Ducky’ but it was Palmer who answered.
“Palmer where is everyone?”
“Good morning Director. I’m not sure when I got in this morning there were instructions from Dr. Mallard and nothing else.”
“Thank you,” Jenny said then hung up more curious than before. Where was everyone?
Next she called Abby, no answer.
Now starting to get a little angry and frustrated that she couldn’t find one of her teams she headed down to travel to see if Gibbs was on assignment somewhere.
When she arrived she was greeted by Special Agent Michelle Lee.
“Can I help you Director?”
“I hope so Agent Lee. Do you know if Gibbs is on assignment anywhere?”
“Let me check.” After a few moments Agent Lee looked up from her computer, “It says here that Special Agent Gibbs’ team along with Dr. Mallard and Ms. Sciuto filed for travel expenses to Pearl Harbor on Saturday, umm, length of case undetermined. That’s it.”
Jenny was becoming furious, how dare he usurp one of her teams for a case in Hawaii? Wasn’t NCIS Pearl up to the job? Well, I’m going to get to the bottom of this.
“Agent Lee book two seats on the next available flight to Pearl.”
“Two seats ma’am?”
“Yes you’re coming with me as my ‘aide’.”
“Yes ma’am, the next available flight leaves at 10AM.”
“Excellent, call ahead to Pearl and have a C-2A on standby at Hickam AFB to take us out to the carrier Gibbs is on then go home, pack and meet me at the airport,” so saying Jenny turned and made a beeline for the parking garage.
After packing their belongings both Director Shepard and Agent Lee met at the airport and caught their flight to Pearl Harbor.
HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE
PEARL HARBOR HAWAII
As Jenny de-planed she noticed Air Force One sitting on the tarmac. “Is the President here?” she asked one of the ground personnel.
“No ma’am, on his return from Japan Air Force One developed engine trouble and had to land. They had to replace an engine to the President flew on to DC on his backup so that repairs could be made. I’m told their leaving in a couple of hours.”
“So the aircraft won’t be having any passengers on its trip to DC?”
No ma’am, I mean yes ma’am, the First Lady and their children,” at her questioning look he continued, “the President decided that the First Family deserved a vacation, however he had important business with NATO and continued on,” he concluded hoping that Director Shepard was satisfied.
Jenny nodded her head thanking the airman and getting into her car.
The ride from Honolulu International Airport was brief, as the airport and Hickam actually connected. As the drove onto the tarmac approaching the C-2A Jenny was surprised to see FBI Special Agent T.C. Fornell and what she assumed to be three other FBI agents, talking to who she suspected was the pilot and co-pilot, trying to board the aircraft with little apparent success. On second glance as they got closer she noticed that Fornell wasn’t actually trying to do anything, but was in fact standing back with an amused look on his face.
When the car stopped Jenny and Agent Lee got out and approached the aircraft and the arguing people. She saw at the other FBI agents one was and older was and balding along with a younger tall brunette man and a short red headed woman. All three were becoming increasingly agitated at the pilot’s refusal to allow them on board.
As she approached she heard the pilot utter a moan and roll his eyes at the apparent prospect of having to argue with yet more Feds.
When she and Agent Lee got to within ten feet they produced the wallets with their badges identifying them as NCIS agents. The response was immediate.
The pilot, a young lieutenant Jenny saw, broke off his discussion with the bald FBI agent and presented himself to her, “How can I help you ma’am?”
“I need transport to the Nimitz.”
“I’m sorry ma’am,” the pilot sighed, was this day never going to end, “As I was explaining to these FBI agents this flight has already been assigned a mission, we’re just waiting on the passengers.”
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to supersede those orders.” That got a reaction from both the pilots and FBI agents.
“Excuse me, I’m Assistant Director Walter Skinner of the FBI,” pulling out his identification, “and if anyone’s going to commandeer this aircraft it’s going to be me.” Off to the side Jenny could see Fornell cringe at that statement and smiled slightly at the thought.
“And what business does the FBI have onboard the Nimitz?”
“Who are you again?”
“I’m sorry,” Jenny said sweetly, causing Fornell to cringe even more knowing that tone, as she pulled out her identification and verbally identifying herself, “I’m Jenny Shepard, Direction of NCIS, Assistant Director,” she said, stressing his title, “Now back to my question, what business does the FBI have onboard the Nimitz?”
“Ma’am, due to the reported terrorist attack onboard the Nimitz the Director FBI decided that jurisdiction fell to the FBI.”
Jenny couldn’t believe the arrogance at FBI and for a moment almost lost her cool until she saw Fornell standing there off to the side.
“Special Agent Fornell, I can’t believe you’re a party to this.”
Fornell winced at the accusation, “Oh, I don’t have anything to do with this Director; I tried to argue against this course of action. I’m here for two reasons only.”
“And those are?” Jenny asked curious.
“First I’m here to ensure that no one gets permanently injured when Gibbs finds out that the FBI is trying to muscle in on his jurisdiction.”
Jenny gave a friendly smile at that, “And second?”
“I’m here as an impartial observer to see how long it’ll take Gibbs to toss these guys overboard.”
“What!?!” came the indignant response from AD Skinner as well as his two agents. “What are you talking about Fornell?”
“Anyone who has ever worked with Special Agent Gibbs knows how fiercely territorial and loyal he is to the Navy and I wouldn’t give a plum nickel to anyone who tries to muscle in on his jurisdiction without just cause, as I tried to tell the Director in Washington.”
“How much Fornell?” Jenny asked with a touch of humor, knowing now that Fornell hadn’t turned on Gibbs.
“Fifty Dollars and five minutes.”
“That long? Put me in for fifty and two and a half.”
“Yes ma’am.” Skinner and his other two agents who had yet to be introduced stood with their mouths slightly open and in a state of shock at what had just happened, the two pilot’s equally so, but for different reasons. They also knew Gibbs and thought that even two and a half minutes was far too long.
“Well let’s get aboard then, agents . . .?”
Skinner was shaken from his stupor, “I’m sorry, these are Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.” Jenny reached out and shook both their hands.
“And this is my aide Special Agent Michelle Lee. Now that that’s over with let’s get aboard, the sooner we get there the sooner I win the pot,” she said and turned towards the waiting aircraft and was stopped by a remorseful looking pilot.
“I am sorry ma’am but as I said before this aircraft is waiting to take passengers to the Nimitz. We have to wait for them.”
“Who are they?”
“They’re some performers from the USO performing a Christmas concert and COMPACFLT has agreed to allow them to tour the ship, ma’am, as sort of a thank you.”
“I’ll give them five minutes, then your orders are to embark us and take off, is that understood lieutenant?”
“Yes ma’am,” the lieutenant said hesitantly ensure of what to do when relief flooded over him as he saw two limos heading towards him, “That won’t be necessary ma’am, they’re here.”
Jenny turned and saw the two limos stop twenty feet away and the doors open. What followed next could only be described as an excited squeal as she spied a blonde haired girl emerging from the back of the lead car, followed by a girl with electric blue hair that had to be a wig.
A brunette man emerged next, “Settle down Bud.” He said to the exuberant young blonde who excitedly bouncing around, next a buxom older blonde and an older woman with the same electric blue hair as the younger girl. Jenny knew exactly who these performers were; she’d been a big fan of Robbie Ray when she was younger.
They all started walking towards the aircraft, Robbie Ray putting his arm around the blonde girl in a very parental way, the same with the electric blue haired woman both in an obvious attempt to calm them down a little.
“Hannah, remember to act like a lady,” said the buxom blonde in an equally parental voice, though by the inflection Jenny could tell she was just as excited.
“Yes Aunt Dolly.”
“That goes for you too Li . . . Lola.”
“Lieutenant,” Robbie Ray said holding out his right hand, “all present and accounted for.”
“Excellent, if you and your party would board the aircraft and take your seats we’ll go over the safety procedures as soon as you’re all seated,” then turning to Jenny, “Ma’am if you would embark and take your seats, please.”
Jenny, Michelle and the FBI agents complied.
As one of the flight crew began the safety brief the engines turned over and they began to taxi for take-off, beginning their flight to the USS Nimitz.
ON BOARD USS NIMITZ (CVN-68)
SOUTH EAST OF PEARL HARBOR
Admiral Yelland sat on the Flag Bridge of the Nimitz going over intelligence reports for the up coming exercise which was scheduled to begin in earnest in an hour.
Also present were Vice Admiral Chegwidden, Commander Rabb, LtCol MacKenzie and a YN1 Tiner, presumably Admiral Chegwidden’s secretary, from JAG, as well as four Marines and a Navy Captain who’d been introduced as Admiral Chegwidden’s assistant Chief of Staff, his Chief of Staff, a Captain Stiles was absent.
The Marines’ name tags read; Walker, Gage, Cook and Trivette, they’d probably been sent to ensure he didn’t start a war. He had no illusions that the powers that be in DC thought he was nuts.
Special Agent Gibbs currently of NCIS and formerly a member of Nimitz’s Marine security force that he trusted implicitly and his senior agent Anthony DiNozzo were also there.
Finally and most comforting was his wife, Raquel, standing by his side.
So far everything was in place, on his side anyway. He still hadn’t heard much from the OPFOR, the German, Japanese and Italian armed forces recently added to this exercise even though they were out there in their proper stations. They were remaining curiously silent and that had him worried.
Add to that the annoyance of having a bunch of eggheads roaming around taking all kinds of scientific readings for the past three days. Even though they wouldn’t say what they were doing he had a pretty good idea. He was deep in thought about how he could get rid of them without it seeming too obvious when his Chief of Staff walked up to him.
“Please tell me you have good news,” asked with an almost pleading.
“I believe so sir,” at the Admiral’s look he continued, “It looks as though the eggheads will be leaving us soon.”
As he said this three people came onto the Flag Bridge and walked over to him. Admiral Yelland stood and faced the three. Speak of the Devil he thought to himself.
“Good afternoon Dr. Stark, Ms. Blake and Dr. Deacon, how can the United States Navy be of service to Global Dynamics today?”
“Good afternoon, Admiral,” Mr. Stark said, “Very little I’m afraid. Although we do have a request, if you could spare a transport this evening or at the latest tomorrow morning we’ll be out of your hair.”
“Didn’t find what you were looking for?” he asked.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but in any case all our equipment has been boxed and will be off-loaded when you reach port. Sheriff Carter and his Deputy will stay behind to safe guard it.”
“You do realize we are the Navy and probably won’t steal your stuff don’t you?”
“No offense Admiral but this equipment is very valuable and extremely hard to replace,” Ms. Blake responded, “and I am responsible for it.”
“Very well, anything else.”
“If it’s not too much of an imposition could the sheriff’s daughter remain with him if she stays out of the way?” Ms. Blake asked.
Before he could answer a petty officer came up to him, “Sir, the Air Boss is reporting that a C-2 is requesting permission to land.”
Yelland thought a moment, there weren’t any scheduled arrivals for today. He got up from his chair and walked the short distance to the 21MC, known to all naval personnel affectionately as the ‘bitch box’, he depressed the button for ‘Pri-Fli’ and pulled down the ‘Push to talk’ lever, “Pri-Fli – Flag Bridge,” and waited for a response.
“Pri-Fli,” came the tinny response.
“Tell them to return to Pearl our catapults are rigged with alert aircraft.”
“Sir, they say they have some USO performers onboard, and that they have permission from COMPACFLT,” Yelland closed his eyes and let out a soft moan of frustration. He was about to reply when the ‘Air Boss’ continued, “They also say they have the Director of NCIS onboard.”
At that Yelland turned to Gibbs, who had a look of shock on his face and just shrugged. DiNozzo opened his mouth and was about to comment when a quick look from Gibbs made him reconsider.
“Tony is the team at the crime scene?”
“Go below and make sure the team stays at the crime scene until the word is passed for them.
DiNozzo looked at Gibbs questioningly until Gibbs moved his hand to swat him in the head.
“On it boss,” leaving the Flag Bridge more quickly than He’d ever seen him move.
Some of the JAG and Global personnel smiled slightly at Gibbs’ discomfort. As Yelland turned back to tell the ‘Air Boss’ to send them back another officer he knew entered the bridge, Captain Blackcloud, his old ‘Metro’ officer.
Before he could say anything Captain Blackcloud spoke two words that Yelland had been both dreading and waiting to hear, though not at this particularly inconvenient time, “Its back!”
Most of the JAG personnel, except for ‘Harm’ were shocked. The Global personnel were too, but for a different reason. All of their equipment was now crated and their purpose for being there now moot, they couldn’t take any readings. It was almost as if it waited for the right time, when it wouldn’t be monitored.
Henry was the first to speak, but in a low whisper to Alison, “I have to see it,” and fairly ran to the bridge wing outside.
Admiral Yelland’s response was immediate and decisive. He reached for the ‘bitch box’, “Air Boss get that C-2 on deck immediately.”
Vice Admiral Chegwidden for his part stood on the Flag Bridge looking out one of its windows in total shock at the angry looking green and black swirling vortex with lightning bolts around its center that had just appeared out of nowhere, then disappeared, then reappeared, and began growing exponentially.
* * * * *
HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE
PEARL HARBOR HAWAII
Air Force One, now L29000, and unofficially called ‘Air Force Two’ now that the First Lady and her children were embarked, lifted off the runway and began its slow bank southward before it would turn east, toward the on coming storm.
* * * * *
USS NIMITZ CVN-68
“Aye, Sir,” the ‘Air Boss’ responded and reached for the microphone of the flight deck announcing system, keyed it and spoke, “ATTENTION ON THE FLIGHT DECK, ATTENTION ON THE FLIGHT DECK. WE HAVE A C-2 ON EMERGENCY APPROACH. CLEAR CATS THREE AND FOUR AND RIG TO RECEIVE AIRCRAFT . . . EXPIDITE!!”
The response on the flight deck was immediate. Everyone in the catwalks jumped up on the flight deck and began the process of rigging arrestor gear while disengaging the two Tomcats from catapults three and four.
* * * * *
ON THE C-2
“C-2 you have permission to land, begin your approach.”
The pilots breathed a sigh of relief. That weird storm had just appeared out of nowhere and looked like it would tear their aircraft apart.
With their passengers in mind they began the check list to safely land on the carrier.
In the passenger/cargo area the air crew began going over landing procedures with their passengers making sure they were properly seat-belted in.
* * * * *
ON THE FLAG BRIDGE
“Sir CIC reports that the OPFOR ships will be hit by the storm first,” a petty officer with sound powered phones reported.
“Tell them to turn away.”
“Sir, CIC reports that the OPFOR ships are turning.”
“Good,” Yelland said relieved without stopping to consider that no orders had been passed.
“Sir, CIC reports that the OPFOR ships are turning into the storm and increasing speed!” the petty officer sounded a little frantic.
“Those rat bastards, how did they know?” Yelland’s response was not what anyone expected, he quickly reached for a red handset, placed it to his ear and keyed it, “Attention in the Fleet, this is Admiral Yelland exercise commander, all units are to go to General Quarters, all pilots are to man your planes. Change course to pursue OPFOR ships into the storm at fastest possible speed. As soon as any ship confirms a firing solution you are to fire, weapons are red and free.”
Upon hearing this AJ came to the immediate conclusion that SECNAV had been right and Admiral Yelland was unstable and about to commit an act of war against not one but three US allies. He stepped forward to relieve the Admiral of command. But was surprised when Admiral Yelland snapped his fingers suddenly and four previously unnoticed Marines, who been standing unobtrusively on the Flag Bridge stepped forward with pistols drawn and pointed at AJ as well as all non-Nimitz personnel, except curiously enough, Special Agent Gibbs.
Just then the General Alarm sounded indicating all hands report to battle stations the Boatswain mate announcing the age old litany over the 1MC, “GENERAL QUARTERS, GENERAL QUARTERS, ALL HANDS MAN YOUR BATTLE STATIONS, SET MATERIAL CONDITION ZEBRA THROUGH OUT THE SHIP, ROUTES ARE UP AND FORWARD TO STARBOARD, DOWN AND AFT TO PORT.”
* * * * *
ON THE FLIGHT DECK
In the catwalks the retired sailors who were along for the ride as it were took a good look at their younger counter-parts, then looked to the approaching C-2 and came to the conclusion that they weren’t going to make it, they were just too slow. With a look between each other and across the flight deck they silently made a decision. Without a word they climbed out of their catwalks, two with twenty pound sledges and ran towards the nose gear of the two fighters that the flight deck crews were frantically trying to disengage from the catapults.
Without a word they reached the planes and swung their sledges, much to the shock of the younger sailors. What shocked them even more was that the nose gear immediately disengaged from the catapults freeing the fighters for movement. They quickly looked behind them and saw that the C-2 was on final, they weren’t going to make it.
The older sailors saw the same thing and went into action. One of them grabbed a brown shirt and fairly threw him into to cockpit and told him unlock the brakes. Everyone else took up position at the rear landing struts and began to push for all they were worth in an effort to clear the two aircraft.
* * * * *
ON BOARD THE C-2
Pilot and co-pilot both were starting to sweat. Looking ahead at the flight deck the two fighters on cats three and four still weren’t clear. They were trying to decide if they could come around a second time but a flash of lightning and a quick look out the window quashed that idea. Then their radio flared to life.
“‘Wagon Train’, flight deck is clear; you’re at a quarter mile call the ball.”
“The pilot hesitated slightly, once they committed there was no turning back, but he had no choice. Suddenly he saw many more personnel on the flight deck. Then the fighters were freed of the catapults and being pushed clear.
“‘Home Plate’, ‘Wagon Train’ at a quarter mile, I have the ball,” he said lowering the landing flaps on final approach. One way or another they’d be on deck shortly. They said a short prayer.
* * * * *
The Air Boss drop the handset to his side after the in-bound answered affirmative to be on final and nodded to his ‘Mini-Boss’, Lieutenant Commander Gwendolyn Takahashi, who reached for the flight deck announcing system, “Clear the flight, in bound is on final, fire and rescue standby.”
Then turning to her boss, “They’ve only managed to rig three arrestor wires fully, will it be enough?”
“I hope so.”
* * * * *
ON THE SHIPS OF THE FLEET
Some Captain’s were shocked by the order though many more were not. In any case they all set General Quarters as soon as they were ordered to do so, changing course to engage what was now designated to be an enemy fleet.
Many Captains said a quite prayer hoping they weren’t needed to actually fire, that this was part of the exercise.
* * * * *
USS NIMTIZ CVN-68
Gibbs team was doing their investigation when they heard the General Quarters alarm sounded.
“What should we do?” asked Ziva.
“Where would we go, we don’t have an assigned station, so we should just stay here and continue the investigation such that it is, until told otherwise,” statement from Abby.
As they were continuing their discussion that hatch opened and Tony entered, “At ease everyone.”
“What going on Tony?” asked Ziva.
“Don’t know Zee-vah, Gibbs sent me down here to look after you before ‘GQ’ sounded.”
“What did Gibbs say, Tony?” asked their newly returned agent Caitlyn Todd.
“He said that everyone was to stay here and continue the investigation until the word is passed for us.”
“Not much of an investigation,” said a frustrated Abby.
“You’ve got something Abs?”
“Yeah, this whole thing’s . . . hinky, you know.”
“I have to agree with Ms. Scuito. This is not standard operating procedure for the Chinese or North Koreans,” chimed in their ONI specialist Lieutenant Grace Chen.
“Tell us you’ve got Abby.”
“Well . . .,” and Abby proceeded to inform the team of her initial findings and her suspicions.
* * * * *
USS NIMITZ CVN-68
Admiral Yelland saw Admiral Chegwidden move from his position and knew then what his actual mission here was. He snapped he fingers and almost instantly the JAG personnel were surrounded by four Marines with pistols drawn.
“I’m sorry Admiral, but I can’t let you complete your mission.”
“I don’t know what . . .”
“Don’t treat me like I’m stupid Admiral, I know SECNAV sent you here to observe me and if necessary relieve me if it looked like I was going to start a war.”
With that said Admiral Yelland grabbed one of the Marines handheld’s, “Major Stanford,” Admiral Yelland said into the handheld, to the CO of the Marine Security Force, “when the C-2 lands have yourself and a squad of Marines meet them and have them escorted to the Wardroom.”
“Aye, Sir,” came the instant reply.
“It looks as though SECNAV was right,” AJ stated with confidence, then turned to the Marine Colonel at his side who looked ready to take out all four Marines present, “You Marines don’t have to follow this order, it’s illegal.”
“Sorry Colonel Walker, but Admiral Yelland knows what he’s doing.”
Looking out the Flag Bridges windows AJ saw that the storm was almost upon them.
“Admiral,” a petty officer called out, “lookouts reports that the OPFOR ships entering the storm appear to be disappearing, sir.”
“Sir,” another petty officer called out, “CIC reports OPFOR ships in the storm are disappearing from RADAR.”
“Very well,” he responded almost automatically as he pulled his wife to himself and hugged her gently and grabbed the handset to give his last order before entering the storm yet gain, “To all ships and aircraft set EMCOM, secure all non-essential electronic equipment, as soon as the storm is cleared restore all electronics and sweep the area.” He then placed the handset in its cradle and picked up the 1MC, “All hands prepare for approaching storm.
“Admiral, this storm is larger than the one before,” Captain Blackcloud stated though for what reason even he couldn’t say.
Admiral Yelland hugged his wife closer as the storm was nearly them. He began to hear the sound of it, a sound that he had remembered so well even after all these years. He saw five Marines exit the island onto the flight deck just as the C-2 touched down and caught the middle of three wires. They instantly rushed towards the aircraft.
Then it hit suddenly in all of its glory. It seemed to be worse this time. The sounds louder, the feeling that his body was being ripped apart at the molecular level and as before he let out a scream of agony, all the while holding his wife who also began screaming. He suddenly felt faint.
* * * * *
Both pilots breathed a sigh of relief; neither thought they were going to make it. They cut the engines and turned in their seats to congratulate each other, when the storm hit and they began screaming.
* * * * *
USS NIMITZ CVN-68
When the storm hit AJ felt pain like he had never felt in all his time as a Navy SEAL and the sound of it forced him and saw both Harm and Mac doing the same thing even Colonel Walker and his people, to cover their ears and scream in agony, they had completely forgotten to do anything else.
He looked over and saw some lightning playing over both Admiral Yelland and his wife, it looked as though they were going to collapse.
Animosity forgotten for the moment, AJ and it look like all of his people moved to support the Admiral and his wife. If AJ thought that before was painful it didn’t hold a candle to what he felt now and judging by the looks on everyone’s faces they felt it too.
Collectively they all let out an agonizing scream of pain and terror at what they were feeling. To AJ it seemed as though the storm itself was emitting a banshee-like wail of pain which only added to everyone’s terror and confusion.
Now everyone on the Flag Bridge was screaming. Holding their ears and convulsing, some even falling to the deck in pain, curling up into a fetal position.
Admiral Yelland however seemed to be in the most pain holding onto his wife as if his very life depended on it.
AJ thought that he’d lost consciousness for no sooner had the storm hit than just as abruptly it was over and they were in calm seas under a setting sun. Setting? That doesn’t look like a setting sun he thought to himself. Just to verify his thoughts he quickly looked over to the magnetic compass at the front of the Flag Bridge. A quick glance told him that unless the Sun sets in the east he was seeing a sunrise. Considering that not more that thirty seconds ago it was late afternoon Commander Rabb’s fantastic story might not be so fantastic.
Colonel Walker verbalized the question that stood on everyone’s minds, “What the hell just happened?” as he reached over to his wife and turned to see that his people were alright.
Being as it now appeared to be in the very early morning hours a very confused Admiral Chegwidden turned to Admiral Yelland who now had his back to him and was comforting his wife, “Where the hell are we?!?” AJ nearly screamed.
Admiral Yelland then turned to face the assembled personnel on the Flag Bridge putting his arm around the waist of his now very young and beautiful wife. An equally young and handsome Admiral Matthew Yelland faced Admiral Chegwidden and spoke in a young and confident voice that held absolute conviction.
“You’re asking the wrong question Admiral Chegwidden,” Admiral Yelland said with a slight smile, “The question you should be asking is; When the hell are we?”
With that said and without waiting for a response he contacted the ship’s Captain, “Captain, hold a muster of all forces that made the transition and report to the Flag Bridge personally with the results and launch the CAP.”
Getting the red handset he passed the order for all carriers to launch their Combat Air Patrols along with their ‘Hawkeyes’ and establish a perimeter of fifteen hundred miles.
“You can’t possibly believe we traveled back in time, it was just a storm,” this from Mac, ever the skeptic about such things.”
“What kind of storm was that, surely nothing I’ve ever seen,” responded Harm.
“Nothing any of us has seen,” added AJ.
“Sir,” the bridge talker called out, “CIC reports that the entire OPFOR is gone.”
“Damn,” Yelland swore, “How much earlier did they enter the storm than us?”
After some quick thought and despite her skepticism Mac’s military training took over, “Seven seconds sir.”
“You’re sure,” Yelland asked with a raised eyebrow.
“She’s sure,” Harm replied. Admiral Yelland nodded his head as he turned and look down to the flight deck where the Marines were gathering up the passengers from the C-2 and preparing to escort them to the Wardroom, as well as ‘MAVERICK’ and ‘LOBO’ launching from cats one and two.
* * * * *
ON THE FLIGHT DECK
Jenny was the first to recover, “What the hell was that?” she asked no one in particular. Just then the rear loading hatch began to open and the others were coming around.
“Whew-eee, that was more intense than a bee stung Brahma bull on Rodeo day.”
“Daddy?” came a slightly scared question from his daughter, “What happened?”
“Its alright Bud, we’ve landed.”
“Lily, are you alright?”
“I’m fine mom, but its Lola.”
“I’m sorry, Lola,” Heather said with a small smile knowing her daughter was fine.
As they all unbuckled themselves and prepared to leave the plane three Marines entered, one officer and two enlisted, “Ladies and Gentleman if you would please follow me you’ll be escorted to the Wardroom for some light snacks and await Admiral Yelland.”
“What about our stuff?” asked Hannah.
“Don’t worry ma’am,” the officer replied with respect, “your belongings will be brought up to your assigned staterooms. Now if you’ll follow me, please.”
“My name is Assistant Director Walter Skinner I’m with the FBI,” stated a balding man, who produced his ID and badge, “I need to be taken to see Admiral Yelland now.”
“I’m sorry sir, but my orders are to escort all of you to the Wardroom and to wait there for the Admiral.”
“Now wait just . . .,” Skinner began but stopped when he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was from the NCIS Director.
“Lead on Major,” she said. Immediately Jenny realized the potential for violence and needed to stop it before it got out of hand, especially with civilians and most especially with children present. When they got to the Wardroom she was going to have words with AD Skinner.
“Yes Major please proceed,” Fornell agreed with Jenny.
“If you’ll please follow me,” the Major said. When they exited the aircraft the adults noticed two more armed enlisted Marines outside who then fell in behind they party.
For their part Hannah and Lolo were too excited to properly realize the near confrontation that had almost occurred as they began rapidly speaking to each other about what they were seeing on the flight deck, following the Marines to the Wardroom.
* * * * *
“Sir all ships report successful launch of CAP.”
Now that the Radar’s were up the next report came from CIC, “Sir, Radar reports surface and air contacts to the northwest.”
“The OPFOR?” Admiral Yelland asked hopefully.
“They don’t think so, sir. The air contacts are moving from the northeast to southeast across our current position at seventy five miles . . .”
“And the surface contacts?”
“There appear to be two groups, one at eighty miles and consisting of three ships one large and two small, possibly a cruiser with two destroyer escorts.”
“And the second?”
“The second is a somewhat larger force, CIC estimates nine ships, one heavy, possibly a carrier with escorts at one hundred miles.”
“Very well, who’s closest,” Admiral Yelland asked, referring to the CAP.
“MAVERICK and LOBO are closest to the air contacts, while ICEMAN and BUNS are closest to the nearest surface contacts,” referring to Commander Pete Mitchell and Lieutenant Commander Cassie Fuller and Commander Tom Kazanski and Lieutenant Kara Wade respectively.
“And the furthest surface group?”
“The closest aircraft are currently EAGLE EYE with his escorts VIPER and JESTER,” referring to Commander Mark Hawkes, Captain Mike Metcalf and Captain Rick Heatherly respectively.
“Very well,” Admiral Yelland stated, then hit the button on the ‘bitch box’ for CIC, “Have MAVERICK AND LOBO close with the air contact for visual ID, weapons red and tight and ICEMAN and BUNS are to close with their surface contact, weapons also red and tight.”
“You can’t possibly believe that we’re in the past,” Mac stated desperately, “Admiral Chegwidden you have to stop him!”
“Mac calm down, the Admiral may be right,” Harm stated trying to calm her, thinking of a way that she could convince herself before Admiral Yelland had her removed from the Flag Bridge as it looked like he was about to do. Then it came to him, “Admiral if you’ll humor me?”
“Go ahead Commander, but if this doesn’t work I’ll have her removed.”
“Yes sir,” then turning to his partner LtCol Sarah MacKenzie, he asked a simple question, “Mac what time is it?”
Stunned by the simple question and not sure of Harm’s sanity she opened her mouth to answer, when she stopped, unsure of her answer and for the first time at a loss. She concentrated again because the answer couldn’t possibly be, something was wrong.
“What’s the matter Marine? Cat got your tongue?” Harm asked with humor. Everyone was looking at the two of them as if they were crazy. “Come Mac its not a trick question.”
“It has to be, something’s wrong,” she stated with finality.
“Come on Mac just give us the time.”
“Its impossible, it can’t be.”
“What can’t it be Lieutenant Colonel?” Admiral Yelland asked with curiosity.
“The time sir, before the storm it was sixteen thirty three and twenty eight seconds . . .”
“And now?” he prompted even more curious. How can she know the exact time?
“Now its zero seven twenty seven and thirty two seconds,” Mac stated shocked to her core. She visibly paled, somehow saying it aloud made it more surreal. Her gift had never failed her before and as strange as it seemed she was sure it hadn’t failed her now. And that more than anything else convinced her that they had travel in time.
“How does she do that?” Admiral Yelland asked leaning over towards AJ.
“We don’t know, but it does come in handy sometimes.”
A thought struck him at that point, “Lieutenant Colonel MacKenzie would you mind getting with my Quartermaster so that he might reset our chronometers, please.”
“Of course Sir,” she said still looking a little pale and walked over to the Navigator’s table.
“Sir, MAVERICK and LOBO are approaching the unknown contacts.”
“Number three sir,” Admiral Yelland channeled in channel three and removed the handset from the cradle.
“This is HOME PLATE what do you see?”
“HOME PLATE this is MAVERICK, I’ve got three mint condition, trophy class,” MAVERICK began, Admiral Yelland closed his eyes and took a deep breathe. This was exactly like the first time. He opened his mouth and was ready to give the order to fire when MAVERICK completed his statement, “Douglas Dauntless SBD’s, complete with squadron markings, circa nineteen forty-one.”
“You’re absolutely sure.”
“Positive HOME PLATE.”
“Can you make out the unit?”
“Wait one, Skates?”
“I don’t believe it, according to the markings they belong to Scouting Six,” Skates said with a slight bit of awe.
Admiral Yelland was about to ask them to intercept and let them know they were there, when MAVERICK interrupted.
“HOME PLATE, the left wingman has broken formation, increasing speed and is heading directly for the fleet. What are your instructions?”
The Nimitz’s Captain picked this particular time to enter the Flag Bridge with the results of the muster he was ordered to take. Upon hearing the report from MAVERICK, put that information temporarily on the back burner due to the potential threat to his ship. He immediately usurped a petty officer and put sound powered phones on him to keep him in contact with CIC.
“Sir,” the bridge talker called out, “CIC confirms one aircraft has turned and is heading directly for us.”
“HOME PLATE, MAVERICK, remaining aircraft have also turned and are taking up position behind the first aircraft and matching his speed. It looks as though they intend to shoot him down.”
“Admiral,” this from Captain Paterson, “CIC also confirms course change and surface side reports the three ships eighty miles out have changed course and have increased speed to twenty eight knots on a direct course for the fleet. Estimated time to intercept is thirty minutes.”
* * * * *
The rest of the ships in the fleet were listening very intently to all of these transmissions and as the experienced Captains they were, took all prudent defensive measures to ensure the safety of their commands.
More and more it looked as though Admiral Yelland wasn’t as crazy as the brass in the Pentagon had made him out to be. On separate channels the Captains had a quick conference in which they all agreed without dissent to follow Admiral Yelland’s lead, for now.
* * * * *
“Thank you Captain, contact radio and have them isolate their comms frequency.”
Since they were already at ‘GQ’, all personnel were on the necessary sound powered phone command circuits. All orders when heard were instantly obeyed. In radio they began frantically searching through frequency bands to isolate their ship to ship and ship to air comms so they could listen and communicate with them, hopefully to avoid a blue on blue incident.
“HOME PLATE, EAGLE EYE, the carrier battle group has changed course towards the fleet an increased speed to thirty knots, estimated time to intercept is forty-five minutes.”
Things were rapidly spiraling out of control. It was looking like there might be the possibility of an accidental shooting, when an excited call came from radio.
“Flag Bridge, Radio.”
“Go ahead radio,” Admiral Yelland responded, “Please tell me you have their comms frequencies.”
“Yes sir, but we’re also receiving a transmission.”
“On what frequency?”
“Our emergency frequency,” the radioman said excitedly.
“We’re receiving a transmission on our GRC circuit.”
“Patch it through immediately to the Flag Bridge.”
“Yes sir.” Within moments a speaker above everyone’s heads crackled to life.
“. . . copy over?”
As Admiral Yelland listened he swore he recognized that voice, even after all these years. The speaker crackled to life and the transmission started again.
“Break, any station this net, any station this net this is Commander Richard T. Owens, Commanding Officer of VF-84 do you copy over?”
With a slight grin Admiral Yelland reached for the red handset.