Nifty Disclaimer - This story is a work of fiction and contains scenes including sexual relations between people of the same gender. If this isn't your cup of tea, or is illegal where you live, please do not read. Any relation between fictional characters and real people is purely coincidental. All work is copyrighted to Dan Kirk © 2004

Do Over

Chapter 22


“It’s a disgrace to this country when we have homosexual children prancing around the Republican Convention being embraced by our President.” The Reverend Jerry Falwell was fuming on the hotel room’s television while Brian and I went about our packing. There was a car waiting for us downstairs and time was in short supply, but I stopped at that and stared at the television.

“When did I prance?” I asked rhetorically and Brian started laughing. He looked back at the television and smiled, going over to the room phone and picking it up to call the number of the screen. ABC was doing a call-in show and we had it on while we were packing, getting ready to leave. It had been a busy summer for us, and we were both getting a bit punchy from all the stress. Brian spoke into the phone for several minutes and then hung up. I stopped packing to stare at him while he grinned at me. When the phone rang he picked it up and spoke quietly, smiling the entire time.

“We have a phone call for the Reverend Falwell, Brian are you there?” The T.V. commentator said and I stared at my boyfriend in amazement.

“Yes, Peter, I’m here.” Brian said into the phone and I heard it a second later on television. I turned it down to keep from causing feedback through the phone line, but it was still audible to me.

“Reverend, we have Brian Breckenridge from California on the line and he says he has a question for you.” Peter Jennings said with a barely concealed smile while Reverend Falwell’s mouth opened and closed before he nodded.

“Reverend, Davey and I were just listening to you and he wants to know when he pranced around the convention?” Brian asked and I burst out in laughter that was audible on the television. I tried to control it and started hiccupping while the good reverend turned several shades of red on-screen.

“That was just a…term I was using.” The reverend finally said.

“Oh good.” Brian said cheerfully. “I mean, we’re football players you know and football players don’t prance. It’s just not right. Thanks, bye!”

As Brian hung up I could see Peter Jennings openly chuckling while the Reverend Falwell looked like someone had stolen the wind out of his sails. Brian and I both collapsed from laughing so hard as the Reverend tried to amend his remarks on screen and I was still hiccupping. The door to the room slammed open and Brian’s mom entered, her face nearly red.

“BRIAN RICHARD BRECKENRIDGE!” She shouted. “What have I told you about making prank phone calls?”

“Mom!” Brian gasped out, still laughing. “It wasn’t a prank! Davey really did ask that and we just had to know when we pranced! I mean…we’re football players!”

“Okay, okay, you can get away with it just this once.” She said, finally laughing as I turned up the volume to hear the Reverend telling another phone call that he really didn’t mean to mischaracterize us with his comment. She had a smile on her face. “That was your dad calling in as well.”

“Great, and we missed it!” Brian moaned and I just hiccupped.

“Hurry up, the car’s waiting.” She ordered, waving to our almost-packed suitcases. We quickly finished as poor Reverend Falwell tried to defend himself from a third caller who thought the First Lady’s speech about having compassion for all people was a welcome change. We turned the television off as we hauled our bags out the door and down the hall to the elevator. When we got to the lobby, a porter put them on a cart and escorted us out to the waiting car where he put them in the trunk. I did remember to hand him a ten-dollar tip before getting in the car. Dad and Mom B followed a minute later with my mom and Jenny right behind them. It was a tight fit since it wasn’t really a big limousine, just an extended car with a rear-facing seat in addition to the regular back seat. When we were all in, the car drove off.

“I still can’t believe we were at the Republican National Convention.” Mom said breathily with big eyes. I just hiccupped again.

“Long story.” I said at her questioning look.

“I hope it’s not as long as the one I heard last night.” She said to me sternly and I just shook my head. She’d finally been cleared for the full truth, and it had been Mrs. Reagan who had told her. Mom still didn’t fully believe what she’d been told, but overall was dealing with it pretty well.

“No, they were just calling into the talk shows again.” Mom B said. We’d started that one boring summer day and she was never going to let us forget it. “This time it was Peter Jennings and Reverend Falwell. The Reverend said they were prancing around the convention and Brian called to say Davey was wondering when exactly it was they pranced because football players don’t prance.”

“Well we don’t.” Brian insisted as I started laughing again. It had been so perfect, not going after the guy for the gay remark or the ‘disgrace’ comment, but getting him for saying we were prancing.

“Then this big lug had to go and call in to ask why the Reverend was picking on children, and then, what was it you said?” Mom B. continued, directing the last at Dad B.

“I said maybe he should stick to the kids because his arguments are so thin even they gave him a challenge when it comes to good debate.” Dad B said smugly and I had to laugh at that. No wonder the man on the television had looked so sick.

We got to the airport quickly and a Delta agent was soon unloading all the bags from the trunks while we were escorted to the VIP lounge. That was one of the nice things that I was coming to enjoy– star treatment. No more Southwest airlines, no more being cramped together in a hot cabin and waiting in long lines. Of course, the first class tickets took a chunk out of the bank account I shared with Brian, but the four death threats we’d received before the convention justified the two Secret Service agents that were now shadowing us, and their directions to the airlines made sure we didn’t have to wait in line or anything.

The Delta VIP lounge was fairly full ofconventioneers, many of them recognized us and we recognized some of them too. A few came over to talk to the adults, one or two talked to Brian or I, and one even said “Hi!” to Jenny. That one was the same age as my sister and smiled at her in a way that made me glare at him. Brian had to nudge me to make me stop when the boy started glancing our way nervously.

“Is my brother glaring at you again?” Jenny asked the boy who just nodded slowly, still staring at me like I was a dangerous animal. Jenny stomped her foot and glared at me in return. “Davey, stop it! He’s not going to hit me over the head and drag me off somewhere so be nice now!”

“How do you know he’s not?” I challenged her, not really meaning it. She just glared and I gave up, moving with Brian to the snack table and finding some cocktail shrimp to snack on.

“Mr. Jones?” A voice I recognized as belonging to one of the secret service agents interrupted my thoughts. I turned and nodded. “Sir, there’s a phone call for you. If you’ll come this way?”

“Lead on.” I said with a nod of my head. I wondered what this could be now. The last time someone had called me like this, the Soviets had begun their pullout from Afghanistan. I had been at my football camp at the time, the line was unsecured but the message had gotten across. Fortunately it was the next-to-last day and Brian spread around it was a family emergency after a car showed up to pick me up a half-hour later. Brian hadn’t gone with me, but a nearby private airstrip got to see a black Pavehawk helicopter land and I was rushed inside for the trip to the nearest Air Force Base and a ride on a C-5 Galaxy back to Washington.

The C-5 wasn’t summoned just for me. It had been scheduled to fly to Washington already and was the most convenient flight for me to hop on.

I was in Washington for a week that time, and went totally unnoticed by the press as I argued about how to approach the imminent fall of the Soviet-backed Afghan government and the imminent rise of the Islamic-based Taliban government. In the end, I had won in the ‘do something now before these people give rise to terrorists in ten years that will kill Americans, not Russians’, but the other side also won a victory. The United States went to the U.N. and got a multi-national force under French leadership to monitor elections, without one single US soldier being involved. The Soviet-backed government had not yet fallen, and grasped onto the U.N. lifeline with a death grip. The Islamic-backed mujhadeen fighters grumbled, but with the CIA closing up shop, and their source of arms (the United States) telling them they were cut off, they had little choice but to agree to a cease-fire and participation in local elections to form a new government. It wasn’t the best solution, but maybe, just maybe it would be enough.

“This is David Jones.” I said into the phone after the agent handed me the phone and brought me back to the present. It was a non-secured line but I didn’t need to tell whoever it was that information. Still, the two agents had cleared anyone from the area while I took the call.

“It’s Meadows.” The voice on the other end was familiar, and sounded very cheerful. “I just thought you might want to know OBL is now speaking to Allah.”

“Pictures?” I asked greedily.

“I’ll send mementos to you at home.” He said smugly.

“Thanks.” I said and hung up the phone with a great big smile on my face and tears in my eyes. I wasn’t sure if I’d just gotten revenge, or made a pre-emptive strike happen, but whichever it was it felt damn fucking good. Somewhere in Pakistan, an army sniper was slinking away from his hiding spot after having shot and killed Osama bin Laden! It had taken me a month of solid arguing in correspondence with the CIA to convince them that his usefulness was at an end now that the Soviets were pulling out of Afghanistan and every passing day made him a bigger and bigger danger to our country.

When I reached Brian he saw my smile and knew what it must have meant. He just patted my back in congratulations and we rejoined our parents who were blithely discussing the convention’s pomp and circumstance. Jenny was still talking to that boy and it struck me that he epitomized eighties preppiness with his puffy hairdo and pink polo shirt. I couldn’t complain, really. Brian was still trying to grow his hair back saying he looked to ‘military’. He was even making me grown mine back out.

“Sirs, ladies?” A Delta female employee said coming up to the edge of the group we were standing in. “Your flight is ready for boarding of first class passengers.”

“Thanks.” Dad B said and turned to face Brian and I. He moved to Brian and gave him a long hug, followed by Mom B while my mom held onto me tight, a worried look on her face.

“Davey, I still don’t like you going off alone like this.” Mom said to me with a tear in her eyes.

“Mom, we’ll have security agents with us the entire time.” I reminded her. “Plus it’s not like were going unsupervised.”

“Okay, okay, but when your dad finds out he’s going to freak.” She said miserably.

“Mom, just tell him we went with a friend of the President.” I reminded her. “It’s not a lie.”

“Okay, I’ll see you when you get back.” She said softly and then left for the plane. Mom and Dad B gave me a hug too before they turned to leave. We waved goodbye to them and stood there for a few minutes, staring at the door they’d left through. A few of the other people in the lounge stared at us still standing there while our families had gone.

“Gentlemen, I believe we should head out now.” One of the two Secret Service agents said and Brian nodded, following the man out of the entrance we’d come through. He led us through the busy airport and into another terminal that was relatively deserted. We walked past the baggage screeners without bothering to go through the metal detectors and soon we were taking a shuttle that took us to the smaller commuter jet terminal. An Air Force Lear Jet sat waiting for us and we were hustled on board. We landed at Andrews a few minutes later and boarded a much larger VIP jet. Already aboard this plane were several members of the CIA, the NSA, the Department of Defense, and a two-star Army general. We were directed to our seats and, as soon as we were buckled in and our baggage put aboard, the plane taxied for take-off.

The sky outside was dark as we leveled off and I got summoned to the back of the plane for a meeting. The General was sitting at the head of the table with most of the other people in the plane there as well. I took the only remaining seat and waited for the man, General O’Keefe, to get started.

“I believe everyone at the table knows one another?” The General asked and was greeted with a round of nods. “Good, then let’s gets started. Some of you have had a basic briefing, and others know the full details. For the sake of thoroughness, I will review everything we have, and our mission orders. Please hold any questions until I’m finished.

“Last night, West German police spotted a man making an escape over the Berlin Wall. He was rescued before he could be shot by East German police and escorted to a police station for debriefing. The man identified himself as Dmitri Pavolov, a scientist for the Soviet Union’s research team attempting to repeat the time-travel experiments that brought us Mr. Jones and brought them Alexei Shevrenadze. He states that they’ve had some success in repeating the experiments and we are to assess the veracity of his information. He is refusing to be transported to the United States because he fears the KGB will act against him here and requesting to be allowed to relocate to Australia instead. Naturally, if he is genuine we want to have him work with our team in the United States, but we cannot really force him to do so. Our job is to assess him and the information he offers. If he is genuine, he is to be convinced to work on our project with us if possible. If we cannot convince him, we are to assess the safety of sending him to Australia. Now, ask your questions.”

Discussion ensued, ideas were presented and the pros and cons assessed. When the General called a halt two hours later, very little had been achieved and everyone was exhausted. The General gave everyone specific assignments on what they were to handle. When he dismissed us, I rose and returned to my seat next to Brian. The two secret service agents from the convention were still in their seats up front, talking quietly to each other. Brian looked up from the French guide he was reading and smiled at me as I sat down. We started talking softly about what he wanted to see once ‘business’ was done and we could sightsee a little before returning to the states. There was a little German canyon near Aachen I wanted to explore. I remembered it from my visit there in my first life. Brian wanted to head into Paris, the city of lovers, so he could practice his rudimentary French.

“You boys settled in?” General O’Keefe’s voice surprised me. I hadn’t heard him approach over the engine noise. Unlike civilian, and most military flights, the jet was at full throttle instead of cruising speed and that would cut nearly two hours off of our journey time, but leave the plane almost empty of fuel when we landed in Bonn. From there we’d hop a chartered civilian plane for the flight through East Germany and into Berlin.

“Yes, General, thank you.” I said politely. The blankets and pillows for when we went to sleep were already at our feet, and the large, comfortable chairs reclined almost all the way without bumping any other passengers, not that anyone was sitting near us. As if on cue, the cabin’s lights went out; leaving us with the reading light Brian had turned on earlier. The General leaned down and flipped a switch on the chair in front of me, swung it around fully and sat down, facing us. He was studying both of us for a few minutes before he snorted.

“If I hadn’t seen you two boys kiss one time I wouldn’t think either of you were really homosexuals.” O’Keefe said in a tone bordering on disbelief.

“Thanks, General.” Brian said with a smile.

“Don’t thank me yet, boy.” General O’Keefe countered. “You know the President has ordered another panel to review our policy on your kind serving in the military?”

“Yes, sir, he told me that yesterday.” I said. “I haven’t…urged him to do something like that if that’s what you’re wondering.”

“No, I didn’t think you had.” O’Keefe said sourly. “It’s more that he just knows you two and likes you and you make him think there’s really nothing wrong with what you do.”

“Something you disagree with.” I observed without sarcasm and he nodded.

“I don’t think boys like you can serve in the ranks without causing problems.” O’Keefe said, and held a hand to stop one of us from retorting. “I know what you’re going to say and yes there were problems integrating blacks fully into the service, and those problems still exist occasionally but the services are able to handle them. That’s why I’ve been thinking long and hard about this ever since I was told last week I’ll be on the commission when I get my third star next month.”

“Congratulations on your promotion, sir.” I said honestly. I may disagree with the man on a few things, but he was an honest man, something I could respect.

“Thanks son, the wife is the one who is really happy right now.” O’Keefe said with a brief smile. General officers spend a lot of time keeping the wife happy, and a promotion to three-star usually made the wife very happy. It moved her up the pecking order so that only the four-star wives ‘outranked’ her. “She’s even more happy I’m moving up to Joint Operations planning at the Pentagon and not to a field command. She’s gotten herself hip deep in the Washington social scene and likes it there.”

“My condolences.” Brian said with a grin and the general actually let out a bark of laughter.

“I see you two are becoming familiar with the Washington scene.” He commented and for a moment he had a genuine smile for us. “Well, enough bullshitting around, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of what I want you two to think about. The squid Master Chief in my office is retiring in two weeks. He’s got himself a nice, cozy job teaching at some place called Downey High where he’ll be taking a job teaching P.E. and being an assistant football coach. He’s thinking he’s going to be pretty bored and noticed the school doesn’t have a JROTC program, and since he’s a squid he wants to start up a NJROTC program.”

“At our school?” Brian said with some surprise. I was getting better at hiding the surprise I was feeling.

“Yes, and he’s looking for a couple of good guys to help get the thing started.” O’Keefe said with what was now a challenging smile. “It fits in nicely with me serving on this new commission to look at gay service in the military. We can’t just look at the attitude and opinions of old fogeys like me; we have to think about the next generation as well. Now, the military isn’t going to conduct any ‘experiments’ with active duty or reserve units. You just don’t do that sort of thing, but I was chatting with a few of the other officers on the commission and no one saw a problem with experimenting with a NJROTC program. If worse comes to worse we just shut the thing down.”

“What kind of man is this Master Chief?” I asked cautiously. I could see where this was going.

“He’s a damn good operator, a SEAL.” O’Keefe answered. “I believe you use to know a few in your past life.”

“Yeah, a few.” I admitted. Small Boat Units worked closely with SEALS. We took them to their insertion points and picked them up, and sometimes the pickups required us to do a little shooting while they swam to the boat. Not much, but on occasion it went like that and we always had been prepared for that.

“Well, he’s not cleared for you so he won’t know and you shouldn’t tell him.” O’Keefe said firmly. I just nodded. “He saw you on the convention coverage and mentioned that he’d be teaching where you go to school. He then mentioned he wished he could get NJROTC started and I came up with my idea. Let’s see how you boys handle a NJROTC. If you can get it started, if you can get it working like any other unit can, and next summer when you go through the summer-at-sea program, if things work well, we’ll have an idea to the answers to a lot of our questions. This commission isn’t going to be done in a year, I can guarantee that. The JCS will drag their feet hoping the CinC changes his mind, or we get another President. It’ll be a few years, so you boys had best stick it out through your high school. Otherwise, you might harm the chances of your fellow gay people ever serving.”

“General, thank you for offering this, but I’m not sure we could accept.” I said carefully and slowly. “First of all, even if were allowed to serve, I don’t think we would want to do so. Forgive me for saying this, but I’ve already had enough of being in the military for two lifetimes.”

“But I haven’t.” Brian said firmly. “It’s not like we’re really in the military, is it?”

“No, son NJROTC is not a commitment to military service.” O’Keefe said before I could respond. I just looked at Brian for a long moment. “At the high school level, you usually get school credit, and if you decide to enlist when you turn eighteen, you usually get incentives like a higher starting rank or better training school because you were in NJROTC or regular JROTC.”

“So, it’s not so bad, then is it?” Brian said to me and I let out a sigh.

“You really want to do this?” I asked him.

“Well, I use to love playing ‘soldier’ when I was a kid.” He said to me with a boyish grin and I had to smile. “Plus, it’s important, Davey. I mean, it’s a chance to help prove that damn point you’re always arguing about military service. I’ve seen you when you get your goat up and we’ve all heard you say that stuff. Well, you can put up or shut up, can’t you?”

“You see, General?” I said sourly to the man. “You’ve turned him against me now!”

“Don’t blame me!” O’Keefe said with a genuine smile and a laugh. “It reminds me of my wife arguing when she wanted me to resign after Major. She wanted out of military life and I kept on telling her what a difference I could make as a general.”

“Argh!” I growled and now Brian was smiling. “Okay, if Brian wants to do it, we’ll do it.”

“You know it’s not the real military but it is close enough you’ll have to want it more than that to succeed at it.” O’Keefe warned me.

“General, when I commit to doing something, I do it fully, without hesitation.” I said firmly. “The hesitation, the debate, the consideration all comes before, but when the decision is made, there is no half-way.”

“Good, well I’ll let you get some sleep.” He said, rising and returning to his original seat. I just looked at Brian who reached up, turned off the reading light and then bent to get a blanket and the pillows. He curled up to me and pulled the blanket over us as I leaned back in my seat. He did the same with his seat and we were soon facing each other, our hands connecting under the blanket.

“Are you mad?” Brian asked in a steady, deep voice. His voice had deepened some over the last few months at the same time a wild spurt of pubic hair had formed the biggest bush I’d ever seen around his cock. The way he asked, with his eyebrows furrowed in the dim light made me smile though.

“No, just surprised.” I answered. “I didn’t think you’d want a military career.”

“I don’t, it’s just that listening to some of your Navy stories made me want to try it out a little.” Brian explained and I think I understood what he was saying. “It’s a way I can connect with something you did in your past life, that you enjoyed, but make it ours as well. That kind of makes me want it bad.”

“If you want it that bad, we’ll do it.” I said firmly and he smiled before giving me a quick kiss. Here, on the plane where others could see, we were much to polite to fool around. Instead, we went to sleep a lot earlier than we normally would have.

The flight steward woke us an hour before landing just as the cabin lights came back on. Outside the freshly opened window shades, it was nearly noon and I could see what had to be Europe below us. We had fresh hot towels given to us by the twenty-ish steward, who subtly gave me a squeeze on my upper arm as he collected the dirty towels and then winked at Brian. Several things popped into my mind but as the steward brought our breakfast trays and sat them on the tray tables, I figured what it had meant.

“You heard our conversation with the General.” I stated.

“No, but I heard the General talking to his aide.” The air force sergeant said with a smile as he leaned over me to adjust Brian’s tray table. “You boys show them up for all of us, eh?”

“Deal.” Brian said with a grin and the man left with a smile on his face. Brian smirked at me though. “I can’t take you anywhere.”

“He winked at you.” I countered in a very soft voice, and we filled the cabin with the sounds of soft laughter as people were waking before landing.

Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany is one of the prettiest military bases in the world. Even the hardened hangars where F-16’s and other aircraft were parked had trees on top of them. I’d read this before, but seeing it in person made me accept that what I’d read paled in comparison to reality. There was no time to take in the scenery as the group was loaded onto two smaller jets waiting near by. They were both Lear Jets and only stayed on the ground long enough for our baggage to be transferred before commencing take-off.

This was probably the point in the journey that was riskiest for me personally. If this was some attempt to eliminate me by the Soviets, the flight along the Berlin Corridor would be cut short by Soviet fighter planes. Brian’s hand had to be hurting by the time the pilot announced we were landing. I noticed even General O’Keefe relaxed slightly. Four military staff cars waited for us on the tarmac and, after our bags were loaded, we took off through West Berlin. I could see East Berlin over the edges of a distant wall and again reflected just how different reality was from what I’d read growing up.

The building we eventually went to was the headquarters of the NATO command in the area. French, American and British troops were still stationed here, guarding the peace and ‘protecting’ this island in the middle of communist Germany. I knew a few hundred troops were stationed here from each country, complete with tanks, but I also knew they were outnumbered ten to one by the Soviet and East German troops in the area. Maybe it was just me, but I seemed to understand the siege mentality associated with so many West Berliners during the Cold War.

What was I thinking, we were in the midst of the Cold War and it had been growing closer to warm again in the last few months.

General O’Keefe spoke briefly with the one-star American general in command of the forces here and then we were led to several rooms where we would be staying while we were here. The room Brian and I were assigned to was small, and had two single beds, almost cots. Brian frowned at them but I whispered that he’d wanted a taste of military life after all.

Then, a knock at the door announced the General who told me to follow him. I did and we traveled down several floors to a bare room with a large video camera pointing into the see-through part of a two-way mirror. On the other side was an interrogation room where a youngish man in his mid-to-late thirties sat opposite the CIA and NSA men who had come with our plane. The microphones in the interrogation room carried their voices over to us. The General sat in a chair and motioned for me to sit in the one next to him.

The conversation was completely in Russian, and I had little problem following all of it. I knew the General and almost everyone in the group with us spoke that language fluently. Of them all, I was the least fluentbut only had a problem with a few words, which the General whispered translations for me after I asked him.

I wrote down some questions for the interrogators to ask him after ten minutes and sent the paper with an Army sergeant who was waiting for just such a task. O’Keefe had looked at what I’d written, nodded silently and then summoned the man from where he stood against the wall near the door. A minute later another soldier entered the interrogation room and handed the paper to the CIA agent before leaving the room. About that same time the sergeant came back and resumed his earlier position.

[You will describe again the sounds this prototype machine makes.] The CIA agent said firmly and the scientist sighed before repeating what he’d said earlier. Then they asked my other two questions and after they were done, moved on with their own, but I no longer listened. Instead I leaned forward and turned the speakers off. The camera had sound wired directly into it, so the recording would get everything if I was wrong.

“General, he’s lying.” I said softly and O’Keefe glanced at me sharply.

“How can you be so sure already?” He asked me in a low voice even though it wasn’t necessary. I looked at the Air Force sergeant and realized maybe it was.

“The drug he said they used, it’s the drug used in Alzheimer’s patients. I saw the vial of the drug they gave me and it was nothing I recognized. I would have recognized it if it had been that.” I responded just as quietly. “Second, the machine he described fits the machine I saw, and the sounds he describes are exactly the same as what that machine was like.”

“How does the machine sounding exactly the same make you think he is lying?” O’Keefe asked.

“I’ve seen the MRI machines we make right now, and they are ten times noisier and clunkier than the type of machine I was in before coming back in time.” I said very softly, my eyes still locked on the ‘scientist’ in the other room. “If the best American engineers cannot design that type of machine right now without it being so noisy and clunky, what are the chances of Russians doing it when they don’t come out with MRI until they buy our machines in the 1990’s?”

“He’s repeating what he’s been told, nothing more then.” O’Keefe said with an agreeing nod. “So that means we were…lured here for some purpose, or they want us to be fooled by his warning of impending doom if we continue on this track.”

“I don’t want to sound like I’m full of myself, but I’m more worried about the first possibility.” I said softly. “I quite imagine their Alexei has a firm belief in his own importance and while I know losing me won’t kill our chances for keeping the Soviet Union in check, I have a strong suspicion that Alexei and his father don’t feel the same way about Alexei.”

“I do happen to agree with that analysis, although I’m starting to believe having you around for a few more years would be a good thing.” General O’Keefe said with a kind smile for me. “What do you suggest we do to flush out the real purpose he’s here?”

“I talk to him.” I said with a shrug. “Once he knows I’m here for sure, we’ll be able to see one way or the other, I bet. Especially if I call him a liar.”

“Do it, but use the microphone.” General O’Keefe said while pointing to the control board in front of us and a microphone on a flexible metal tube. “I don’t want you in the same room as him.”

I leaned forward looking at the ‘scientist’ and for some reason I kept seeing him in a karate outfit. He looked more and more familiar the longer I looked at him and I had a nagging feeling I should know him. The reason became very clear to me as I imagined him with thinner, grayer hair and wearing a suit while speaking in front of the United Nations.

[Vladimir Putin, you may stop this charade now.] I said in Russian into the microphone after turning and the speakers back on and noticed O’Keefe stiffen at my side. I wondered what bravado had made them send someone I would recognize unless…

[Ah, that must be comrade David Jones.] Vladimir Putin, once the man destined to be President of the Russian Federation said with a small smile. [Good, we may now leave.]

[No one is going anywhere until you tell us your real purpose here.] General O’Keefe said, also in Russian, as he grabbed the microphone from me.

[I think my purpose is clear.] Putin said with that small smile. [Your fortuneteller and I will get up and leave from this place or your country will risk open war with the Soviet Union. You are not prepared to go to war over one boy, he is not important enough. The future is no longer written, he has little to offer, so you will allow me to walk out of here with him.]

“General!” A voice shouted from the door to our room. It was a young captain and he looked very anxious. “Brigadier Maxwell requests your presence in the coordination room.”

“What’s going on son?” General O’Keefe asked the young officer.

“Sir, about ten minutes ago the Russians started jamming all military and civilian frequencies, they’re jamming the radar at the airport, and they’ve cut the landline to West Germany.” The captain said and I felt a tremor of fear shoot down my spine.

“David, come with me.” The General ordered and I followed close on his heels as he headed down the room that acted as command center for NATO forces in the area. The room was frantic with people moving in and out, and we slipped by several of them and got into the room where O’Keefe joined Maxwell in the center of the room. There was a large map of the city with small flags being placed all over. I wasn’t absolutely sure what they all meant, but their colors and positions made it easy to guess.

“All radio and radar frequencies are being jammed, General.” Maxwell told O’Keefe who outranked him by one star. “The land lines have been cut. We’ve still got satellite communications but they’re starting to ramp up jamming on those as well. We won’t have them for long. We’ve got a burst off to Washington but by the time they reply we may not be able to receive.”

“Get another message off ASAP, any frequency.” General O’Keefe ordered. “Two words: Time Thief.”

“Time Thief?” Maxwell asked and then turned to one of his officers when O’Keefe gave him a stern look.

“Does that mean what I think it means?” I asked O’Keefe who nodded.

“David, pretend as of this moment you’re back in uniform.” He said to me softly and I snapped to attention from habit drilled in to me by my boot camp company commanders who at this time probably had only been in the Navy for a few years. O’Keefe just nodded and turned to face Maxwell. He pointed at a few flags that represented military units. “Have they moved across the bridges or into the city?”

“No, sir, they’re just forming up as if they were preparing to move.” Maxwell said. “We’ve alerted the civilian government and the alert has been sounded. People will be heading to shelters or their homes as we speak. In twenty minutes the civilian police will start arresting anyone in the streets. We haven’t run the drill in a year, but they know what to do. I’ve deployed US armor to Brandenburg and these two check points. French light infantry here and here, and the British along these approach avenues.”

“General Maxwell, at this time I am going to tell you something that has the highest classification of any United States military secret.” General O’Keefe said and I took a deep breath while standing there at attention. “You will not repeat this, you will not think about why, you will make no assumptions or guesses, am I clear?”

“Yes, General.” Maxwell said, his eyes sharpening on O’Keefe. Maxwell was lean like most modern Generals, and had thinning blond hair with piercing blue eyes. His eyes flicked towards me and I could feel him wondering why I was allowed to be this close. His eyes snapped back to O’Keefe though.

“General Maxwell, you will order every soldier under your command to fall back and protect this building.” O’Keefe ordered and I was as surprised as Maxwell. “Your one and only objective is to keep this young man out of Soviet hands. If it takes the life of every soldier under your command, it will be a price worth paying.”

“General.” I said in a horrified voice and O’Keefe glared at me.

“No arguments, Mr. Jones.” He told me sharply. “You are at attention.”

“Yes, sir.” I said weakly and turned back to face forward. Maxwell was watching us closely.

“Walter, I know this is tough, but these are the orders of the President of the United States given to me directly by him.” O’Keefe said in a gentler voice.

“Very well.” Maxwell said. “I knew I should have considered something like this when I received orders to follow your lead in case of an emergency while you were here.”

“David, come with me.” O’Keefe ordered and I followed him out of the room while Maxwell began to give orders to his soldiers. I could see several Colonels coming forward, one of them French and another British. The door shut behind us and I was led a little further down the corridor where O’Keefe pulled me into a side corridor.

“At ease, young man.” He said and I relaxed slightly, moving my hands behind my back. He just nodded. “The orders I just gave do not come solely from the President although he issued them. They were the consensus decision of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the President’s inner cabinet members who know about you. They all agree that besides your memories you are a very intelligent young man. They see you as being able to look at the issues we are facing, thanks to the other time traveler, in ways that no one else we have is able to do. I know you still think one day you’ll finish high school and go on to a nice civilian career. You mentioned being a lawyer a few times. Well, don’t get your hopes up. You’ve been caught up in events that will shape this world for years to come, son. I know you want to let yourself be a kid, but you’ve been an adult and your country is calling. Yes, the majority of us who know about you agree that we should let you finish growing up, but you can bet as soon as you finish high school, and maybe college, you’ll be snapped up into full-time government service. You’re too good on analysis and strategy for us to let you go to waste.”

“So you’re saying I’m going to have no choice about my future.” I muttered, not bothering to hide the resentment I was feeling.

“Oh, you’ll have some choices.” He said with a smile. “It might even be part-time, clandestine like now, but you will be tied to the government for the rest of your life, no matter who the President is in the oval office. Get your mind wrapped around that. You’re an important person, and it’s good you have humility, but there are times when humility is not a good thing. This is one of those things. I gave Maxwell his orders, I am now giving you yours. You will evade capture by Soviet forces at all costs. You will make every attempt to evade and if captured to escape back to friendly forces. Do you understand these orders?”

“Yes, sir.” I said firmly, holding my tongue in check from anything more.

“Now, what if your lover is captured or threatened with death if you don’t surrender?” He asked me and my eyes narrowed with hate for a moment. How dare he make me say this!

“I will continue to attempt evasion or escape, no matter what the cost, even Brian’s death.” I said miserably and he nodded. I met his eyes firmly though.

“General, when I qualified for nuclear weapon security they asked me a similar question but with my mother as the ‘example’ for me to give the answer they wanted to hear.” I said in a firm voice. “Like you, they wanted to hear that I would let a loved one die before I gave access to something of vital importance to our nation. An officer who was there when I gave that answer told her about it later. I did not like the hurt I saw in her then, and I will not like it if I see it Brian’s eyes.”

“I understand, son.” He said with a small smile and he put a hand on my shoulder. “Now, let’s get you out of those civilian clothes. Soldier!”

The last was shouted to a young corporal running past us in the main hallway. The soldier stopped and immediately saluted. The General returned the salute and looked at the young man sharply.

“What are your current orders, son?” O’Keefe asked.

“I just finished running a message for command.” The corporal said quickly. “I was returning for more messages or to wait till there’s more.”

“Very good, you know who I am?” O’Keefe asked and the young man nodded. “Get this young man a set of BDU’s and put him in them. Then get him down to the armory and have two side arms issued to him. When that’s done, escort him back up to me and he’ll give me one of the side arms.”

“Sir, isn’t he…” The corporal started to say, but corporals do not argue with Generals.

“MOVE.” O’Keefe roared and the soldier started to trot away, not even looking to see if I was following. I started moving a second later and followed the young man down further into the building. Yeah, I was fifteen but I was already taller than this guy, nearly 6’1 until my next growth spurt.

Apparently the soldier knew where he was going because I followed him up two floors to a wing that looked like a barracks section. He quickly entered a room slightly larger than the one I shared with Brian and opened the closet. Seconds later he was throwing uniform pants and a tunic in my direction. He took one look at my feet, asked for my size and when I told him found a pair of boots in the wardrobe and threw them at me. Then he went to a dresser and threw me a t-shirt. The guy stood there silently watching me as I got out of my clothes and quickly put the uniform on. The pants were a little tight, and he snorted as I pushed my feet into the boots. They were a little small but fit well enough for me to wear for a short time. I noticed the name on the tunic was ‘Davis’ as I slipped on the brown t-shirt and then the camouflage top. When I was done he tossed me a cap and told me to follow him.

Ten minutes later we were trotting back into the command building and I was handing General O’Keefe his side arm. Mine was already strapped to my waist. The soldier had barely blinked when I’d checked the weapon after taking it and pushed in a magazine. The army had not yet switched to the Beretta so I was very familiar with the Colt .45 that was standard issue when I was in the Navy. O’Keefe just nodded at me and I suddenly understood why he’d ordered this.

There was an axiom about where do you hide a goldfish. The answer is in a pond full of other goldfish and that was what he’d done. If the building were overrun, I’d look just like any other young soldier and would have a good chance of avoiding capture.

Now I could stand there and worry about Brian while they talked strategy if the Soviet troops moved into West Berlin.


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