The hope in the room and the hope on the earth faded with the countdown looming on the wall, glowing in murderous red: 4 months, 12 days, 9 hours, and 21 minutes.
A man stood at the front of the room waiting for quiet. If it were still possible to be out of place on an earth betrothed to destruction, he was out of place where he stood. His knees trembled but still, he stood tall. His name was Special Analyst Francis Michaels and he believed he held the key to Earth’s salvation.
An older man with skin like a ghost, a constellation on his collar, and a nametag that read General Card stood next to Francis and demanded attention with a stern face. The angst in the room settled to a simmer and the General began, “This here is Francis Michaels. He’s a Special Analyst at one of our remaining research facilities. He’s been looking into alternative warfare techniques, and he’s found something that could possibly give us a chance. I’ll let him explain.”
“Thank you, General Card, for the sake of time I’ll be brief. We’ve been looking into time-manipulation technologies. We have recently made some pretty incredible breakthroughs, which are really quite amazing and unprecedented. Basically, we have found a way to recode the chronological phenomenon of a physical object in a way that causes minimal harm to its structure and immediate environment.”
The room fell to a confused quiet.
“In layman’s terms, we have essentially discovered time travel,” Francis added. The silence in the room persisted.
Interrupting the moment, the voice of an aggravated uniformed man spoke out, “Mr. President, we are not in a Science Fiction Novel. The second wave is a real and credible threat to our species, and we do not have time to entertain fantasies!”
The room erupted into arguments and jeers, the chaotic debate carrying on in indifference to Michaels’ presentation, the relentless buzz an equal mix of existential angst and desperation. Eventually, the man stood and the rest fell silent as if he still commanded the room and the world, though it was 4 months from destruction. “You’re wrong, Admiral Rigsby,” he said.
“I’m sorry, Mr. President?” the man who spoke earlier answered in confusion.
“We are in a science fiction novel. We’ve got aliens attacking us, we’re building a military fort on the asteroid belt, and we’re sending nuclear missiles into space. If this isn’t a science fiction novel, I don’t know what is.” The President turned his attention to Michaels, “Son, are you saying that we can send people back in time to warn us about the first attack?”
“There is no evidence that anything we do when sending something, or someone, to the past will affect our current situation. We’re still in the preliminary phase in studying the effects of altering the past, but all we know definitively right now is that no matter what we do, we can’t change the present,” Francis replied.
The president sat down and exhaled deeply, “So what good does it do us?”
“After the first invasion, we study the alien’s carcasses and aircrafts. We developed weapons that we found to be most effective against them. So our biggest issue isn’t firepower. Our biggest issue was fear. As you know, half of the soldiers were just frozen in fear at the sight of the aliens, they couldn’t even pull a trigger. Luckily, the remaining half was able to fend the aliens off before they finished completely terraforming China. But, you know as well as I do that we only survived the first invasion because they were not expecting the fight. Even though we know the second invasion is 5 times the size of the first, I believe if none of our soldiers froze in fear, we would have enough to fight them off. Our military right now is more advanced in its training and weaponry than every military in the history of the world combined. But if they freeze in fear again it is all useless. I have a friend in the psycho-warfare wing of our facility and I know for certain they haven’t even gotten close to isolating any physiological factor that allows the aliens to instill fear, and those papers in front of you probably have a report that confirms that. So maybe the answer is that we need more bravery. We might have a chance of surviving when this clock hits zero if we just had more courage.”
The President considered. “What are you suggesting?”
“Well, Mr. President, we know we can’t change the present by sending someone to the past. But if we send someone to the past and bring them back, they still have that experience- the memories, the emotions, the scars. The United States Military has some of the greatest moments of courage in all of history. We could send our soldiers back to fight in these historic battles, and then bring them back here ready to fight. We could send whole platoons to storm the beaches of Normandy. We can send soldiers back to cross the Delaware with Washington, one by one. We already have the most technologically advanced military the world has ever seen. We have the best training military in history. Imagine if we had the most courageous military in history too. An entire army of Medal of Honors.”
“Mr. President, this is ridiculous,” said Rigsby, “You can’t seriously be considering this?”
The President never broke eye contact with Francis. He let out a burdened sigh, and announced, “If we can’t assemble the nuclear base of the Asteroid belt in time, which the latest reports look like we won’t, then hand to hand combat is our only option. We’ve lost all of our allies; NATO forces have been ruined, and so have the Chinese. The Russians are busy trying to get as many people off-planet as possible. The US military is the last hope for this earth. I think the kid is right, we can win the second invasion- we have to believe that. And I’ll be damned if we don’t at least give them a fight. What have we got to lose?”
* * *
General Card and Admiral Rigsby walked into the briefing room with an older man Francis did not recognize. Rigsby sat down without exchanging pleasantries, “apparently you have convinced the President of your plan, and he has ordered to give you access to all troops that are not essential for the operation on the asteroid belt. However, we know that your time machine can’t be fully tested yet, and I don’t want to lose any of our soldiers stuck in the past. So I am giving you one SEAL team to work with.”
“The entire point of the experiment is to instill courage on a wide scale,” Francis started.
“The entire point of your experiment is a fantasy. We’ll see how it goes with the team and then we’ll go from there,” Rigsby responded, cutting him off. Francis exhaled and nodded. Rigsby continued, “now this is Dr. Jon Long, he is a professor of military history at what used to be Princeton. He is here to consult on the operations we will be sending our men into. Doc?”
The professor wore red corduroy pants and a collared shirt with a floral print. When he spoke, he brought an air of whimsical excitement to the conversation, yet he was very matter-of-fact. “I’m guessing that you can control the location in which these men can spawn when you transport them back, correct?” Dr. Long asked.
“We’ve been working out some bugs, but yes I think we’ll be able to control that variable,” Francis responded.
“I’ll assume we want to remain in American history, so as to not overcome any language or cultural barriers. Although, the closer to the Revolution we get, the wider the cultural gap can get. We probably want to brief the men on the lead-up to the battle so we can send them in as close to the action as possible. Are we able to pinpoint the hour they spawn?”
“We don’t have definitive proof, but we have reason to believe we can pinpoint a time with a margin of error of an hour or so.”
“Excellent. And finally, we want to protect our soldiers, while putting them into danger as authentically as it naturally happened, we will have to give time for development to engineer our newer armor technology in era-appropriate uniforms. They can probably do that while we’re briefing the team on the history, and you’re crunching the numbers.”
“Nobody has ever accused you of not being thorough, huh?” Francis responded.
“Based on those variables, I’ve generated a list of battles or incidents I think would work,” Dr. Long opened his portfolio and distributed a one-page document to each of the men in the room.
“Any concerns from the room?” Rigsby asked?
He was met with silence.
“Alright, let’s get to work.”