Corridors of Time
A Buck Rogers/Time Tunnel crossover
|This story was a very long time
in coming. I had the basic idea of the plot over three years ago, even
had the first three chapters written and edited, but had a few
connective problems until I began working on it again this fall. Then
everything seemed to blend together in a very satisfying way. The last
chapter was the only thing that I wasn't sure about and then the story
took over and demanded to be written the way it came out.
This is a cross over of two science fiction programs: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and The Time Tunnel. The former has been around for decades in one form or another but I have written mine based on the television show of the late seventies. The Time Tunnel was an Irwin Allen production of 1967 and only lasted a year, due to various things not related to its ratings. For those not familiar with The Time Tunnel series, the explanations come within the story where Buck and Wilma learn more and more about the 20th century top secret installation.
|Corridors of Time:
A Time Tunnel/Buck Rogers Crossover
December 30, 1933
Dr. Ann McGregor Phillips sat at the spacious kitchen table, a small tube by her elbow, reading the paper in her hand. It was difficult. She was trembling and her eyes were blurred with tears. Her husband walked in the door, hastily shutting it behind him. But the cold air that he had let in didn’t bother her this time.
Dr. Doug Phillips noticed immediately that something was wrong. "Ann, what is it? The baby?"
"No, Doug," she said, her hand immediately touching her enlarged stomach before looking up at him. There were tears in her eyes. "A communiqué from Jerry."
"Jerry?" Doug asked, surprised. "He hasn’t sent anything since just after you came here to join us."
"I know and he said this would most likely be the last thing we would get," she said, her voice low, almost a whisper.
Doug almost dreaded what she was going to say.
"He said that Colonel Becker sent the agents out along with warheads. The first strike was detected before impact and the other side sent a return volley that destroyed most of the larger cities on the Eastern seaboard. It escalated and now most of the civilized world is in ruins. Many of the workers, wanting to be with their loved ones left, those few who stayed tried to send themselves through the tunnel to safety. But Jerry changed the settings, not wanting the madness of 1987 to carry over to any other time period. He thinks they were sent into limbo."
"Becker hunted him through the complex and tried to kill him. Jerry won. There are only a few people left in the tunnel, but he is going ahead and shutting down the Tunnel, placing fail-safes on it to prevent anyone from reactivating it. Then he is going to seal the entrance to the complex so no one can ever use the Tunnel again," she stopped and Doug saw the tears flowing down her cheeks.
He kneeled down beside her and wrapped his arms around his wife, trying to comfort her. There was little comfort to give. His dreams had become ashes when he had been told of the Tunnel’s new use. He was only glad that Jerry had been able to keep their whereabouts secret.
"This was the last thing he used the Tunnel for. The final words are, ‘May God have mercy on humanity.’ " She laid her head on his shoulder and wept openly, unable to hold back any longer.
May 14, 2495
"What’s up, Admiral?" Buck asked as he strode onto the bridge. He had just received the summons as he and Hawk were returning from patrol. The assignment, though mundane, had suited the terran just right, considering how wild life had been the previous six plus months. Now he wondered just what Asimov wanted him for.
"We just got a communiqué from Earth. They found something that appears to date from your century and wanted your input," the admiral told him. "You can use the ready room since they told me the information is code red classified."
"Yes, sir," Buck said, his curiosity piqued. He walked in the small conference room and keyed in the access code for the Defense Directorate on the communicator, adding his classification number on the end to ensure security. To his surprise, he saw Dr. Huer gazing at him.
"How are you today, Buck?" the older man asked.
"Great, Doc," he said with a grin. "For a change."
Dr. Huer returned the smile.
"What’s up?" Buck asked.
"Something I hope you can help us with," came the answer.
"If I can. Shoot."
Huer blinked in slight confusion and then, understanding the terran’s answer, continued. "We started picking up some radiation readings from a desert location north of New Phoenix about two weeks ago." He paused a moment and studied Buck who looked intensely thoughtful. "Were you aware of anything—any testing or top secret installations in that region?"
"No, there was only Sedona, Las Vegas and Lake Meade north of there, but that is a lot of territory to cover," Buck responded.
"Hmm," Huer murmured. "Well, let me ask this. Were you aware of any kind of project called Project Tic Toc, or something using a designation Code Red Lion?"
Buck started. "Red Lion?"
"Yes," Huer responded. "Does that sound familiar?"
"Yeah, but only in passing. Kind of incidental. I was given top-secret clearance to work on some materials before my little trip into space; some stuff they said I needed to know, in case someone got cute and tried to sabotage the mission. I wondered why they would want me to do that at the time, but now I realize that they probably wanted to use me to keep up with those clowns that tried to start the Holocaust. Some more of that hypnotic conditioning, I guess." He took a breath, trying to remember his memories of that code word. "I was going through some papers. They wanted to know if someone had tried to contact me using any of the codes that they were showing me. I remember seeing the code Red Lion."
"And had they?"
"No, but I remember it had a symbol with it that the rest of the papers didn’t. Kind of like an hour glass."
"Hmm," was all Huer said.
"Yes, as a matter of fact," the doctor said, rubbing his chin. "And you don’t remember a project called Tic Toc?"
Now it was Buck’s turn to ponder. There was something that niggled at him, something, like the traitor incident of the year before, that he should remember. He began to shake his head and then stopped. "You know, I vaguely remember during my training days, I was flying high level surveillance training over the southwest desert and my wingman mentioned something odd."
When Buck didn’t say anything else, Huer nudged. "Oh?"
"Yeah, he said, ‘Buck, old boy, you wouldn’t believe what we’re flying over.’ I remember checking my readouts. It was a remote section of Arizona desert. I kind of got flippant and quipped about it being flat, boring desert. He laughed and then just quit talking." Buck leaned back and sighed, trying to remember everything. "Ron was his name. Suddenly he switched over to the unmonitored channel, but his voice was still low. He said, ‘Buck, there is the most fantastic stuff going on under that desert that anyone could imagine.’ I asked him what and he just said, ‘Tick Tock’ and wouldn’t say anything else."
"No, not a thing, even though I asked, but I did hear some gossip about a huge government complex in the desert, something that was more secret and bigger than the UFO nuts thought Roswell was," Buck replied. "Problem was it was such a persistent dead ending track of gossip during my entire tenure with the Air Force that I just finally chalked it up to fly boy hooey."
"Well, your friend was right. There is a complex under the desert in what was once Arizona," Huer declared.
"Yes, there is, and we finally were able to get into it," the doctor declared. "And we found some interesting things."
There was a pause as though the Directorate leader was checking on his communications security. "It was begun in the late 1950’s and apparently was sealed at the time of the Great Holocaust," Huer said.
"What in the hell was so deep and dark and important with this thing that the government would pump money into it and keep it a veritable secret for thirty years?" Buck asked.
"It took ten years to build and it came into operation in 1968. It was called Project or Operation Tic Toc, but the notes of one of the scientists indicates that it was simply called the Time Tunnel by those who worked on it," Huer said.
Buck did a double take and sat staring at the screen for a moment. Then he took a breath, "Time Tunnel? You mean our government was working on time travel?" he asked. "And they continued pouring money into something that tenuous for that long?" He shook his head. "No wonder my quarters on the Ranger were so cramped…."
"Your government," Huer corrected. "And apparently they succeeded."
"Succeeded? You are saying that they actually sent someone back or forward in time?" Buck asked, incredulous.
"Apparently. Our scientists are going through the computers right now, but the notes of the last scientist in the complex seemed to indicate that two scientists went through this tunnel before it was perfected and they weren’t able to come back. Later, another went willingly and stayed with the first two."
"Well, I’ll be," Buck breathed, shaking his head.
"And Buck, you cannot believe this complex. I think you, of all people, would appreciate the magnitude of this more than anyone," Huer said seriously.
Buck peered at the older man a moment. Something from his time frame, something he would be somewhat familiar with. "Is that an invitation?"
"Well, I suppose it is. You might be able to shed some light on some of the things that the notes and computer data are referring to. That is if the Admiral can spare you."
"Oh, yeah," he murmured, thinking of something so wildly impossible that it was reality.
"But Buck…." Huer prompted, breaking into Buck’s reverie.
"Uh, yeah, Doc?"
"Please don’t pass this around. One of the things the last scientist was worried about was the fact that the Tunnel had been used as a weapon and he didn’t want it to be used that way again," Huer said seriously.
"Wait a minute. What do you mean this tunnel was used as a weapon?" Buck asked. "No one even knew about it."
"Remember at your trial when the Crimes Board thought you had caused the Great Holocaust?"
"Sure, how can I forget?" Buck replied tersely.
"Yes. Me either. I was rather irritated that they didn’t even let me know what was going on until after you had left the Searcher for Mt. Rushmore," Huer said.
"Doc, it wasn’t your fault they were so secretive. And besides, I heard that you were totally under the weather," Buck reassured the older man.
"Doesn’t matter." He paused, bringing himself back to the present. "If the notes are correct, from 1977 until the Holocaust, the Tunnel was under the auspices of the military, the Air Force, I believe."
"Hmm, maybe that’s why I heard persistent rumors," Buck ventured.
"And the last several years the head of operations there was very interested in checking out what the other side was doing."
Buck felt a sense of doom sitting heavily in his chest. "And you are saying?"
"This tunnel was the actual start of the Holocaust." Huer leaned back in his chair. "Apparently, those men you went undercover to ferret out for the United States President weren’t the only ones with those paranoid feelings. Some of them were in charge of this Time Tunnel in 1987."
Buck bowed his head and sighed. "Damn."
"We don’t want this kind of thing happening again," Huer said softly. "We have to keep it secret until we have full control over it. And until we know exactly what we are dealing with."
Nodding and then smiling wryly, Buck said, "Any instruction manual for this thing?"
"No, other than the few notes left and the data in the computer, but with the advanced technology that we have, we can probably overcome the problems that the scientists had in the past."
"And ship people through time?"
"Doctor Huer, do you realize what that means?"
"Yes, Buck, it means that we might be able to prevent the Great Holocaust from happening," Huer said.
"Yeah, I’m interested in seeing this thing. When do you want me?"
"Whenever Admiral Asimov can let you come," Huer said.
"How about tonight?" He thought a minute.
Huer nodded, his smile tight. "You realize, Buck, the ramifications of changing the past, at least the theoretical ramifications?"
"To hell with the ramifications!" Buck cried out. "If there is a way to prevent something like that…."
"I know, my friend, I know." Huer sighed again. "The same thoughts have run through my mind, too."
"I’ll be in New Chicago tomorrow night."
Huer shook his head. "We’ll give you the coordinates. Come directly. Less chance of something leaking out to someone who doesn’t like us."
"Again, Buck, don’t let anyone know the details of this thing. I can make a formal request to Admiral Asimov for you to come to Earth."
Buck just nodded. "Sure thing, Doc. I’ll go pack my overnight bag."
"And I would like Wilma to come, too, if she can also be spared," Huer said. "I think she might be able to help us in this, too. She was head of the Defense Directorate after all."
"Sure. Do you want me to let her in on this or do you want to brief her?" asked Buck.
"You do it. I will talk to the admiral."