In the early years of the 21st Century the first successful time travel device was designed and constructed by Professor Andrej Turgenyev and Dr. Phineas Jasper in coordination with technicians from the USDOD and NSA. The TPRFG (Temporal Probability/Redundancy Field Generator) commonly referred to as TAP, was tested first with A/V recording equipment, then with birds and mammals, then intrepid volunteers and found to be a viable means of transport into the past.
Initial explorations along the time lines led to the discovery of a shadowy organization called the Rectifiers who were attempting to change the outcome of selected historical events. Both the origin and overall intent of the Rectifiers has yet to be discerned. Their continued tampering with the Ultra Time Line could cause complete chaos in current and future human progress and technical development, thus the Temporal Management Agency (TMA) was formed to combat this threat.
From a top secret location deep inside the Rocky Mountains, the TMA and it's agents patrol the time lines thwarting the Rectifiers efforts to alter history.
Agent 66 emerged from the TAP as his 18th Century merchant's garb disintegrated revealing a standard issue TMA jumpsuit. Director Naveen's voice sounded strained when she'd contacted him. It was highly unusual for the Director to contact him at all, much less during a mission. Something must be seriously wrong. He joked and chatted with the Time Tech's as they decontaminated him, but his thoughts were elsewhere.
"Agent 66, please take a seat," said Director Radha Naveen, her voice was grave. "Agent 24 will be joining us in a moment." 66 raised an eyebrow. "I know you were expecting Agent 31; however he is on another high priority assignment and cannot be spared."
The office door opened and a tall, flaxen haired woman strode into the room. "I apologize for my tardiness Director Naveen," she said in oddly accented English. "The debriefing took longer than anticipated."
"Agent 66, Agent 24, 24, 66," Rhada said briskly.
"Call me Derek," 66 said smiling.
"Crystal," 24 said, returning the smile.
They nodded to each other and turned to the Director. "I will need your combined talents for this mission. It is of prime importance, possibly the most important in the existence of the Agency.
The problem is this. There has been a rupture in the Ultra Time Line. The Mother Line as the Tech's refer to it. This rupture is allowing alternative time streams to intersect with our own. The very essence of our existence is being altered by intrusions from elsewhen."
"What is being done to mitigate the effects of these intrusions?" Derek asked, leaning forward. "Can an alternative time line penetrate here at headquarters? Could we be altered and cease to exist?"
"At present, no," Rhada said wearily. "The Tech's have erected a Chronobubble around the entire installation to prevent such an occurrence. We are currently in Time Stasis and safe for the moment. All indications are that The Rectifiers are creating the rupture utilizing technology unknown to us. We have, however pinpointed the source of whatever is causing it to early 20th Century America in the city of Chicago, the period known as the 'Roaring Twenties'."
"How can we travel in time if we are in stasis?" Crystal asked. "Are we in fact trapped here in the bubble? Are we nowhere in the Time Stream?"
Derek smiled; Crystal was quick on her feet, already planning their next move, their next gambit. She would be an effective partner, of that there was no doubt.
Rhada nodded. "The Tech's are working on the problem now. The magnitude of the difficulty is such that every milliwatt of computing capacity is at work solving this problem. The mental strain on the Tech's is tremendous. Some have already broken under it and been isolated."
The agents exchanged glances. Both had experienced the Sensory Deprivation Tanks in training. Deprived of all senses, suspended in regeneration fluid, a symbolic return to the womb until body and mind healed. Crystal shuddered at the memory and Derek frowned. It was not pleasant.
"The Tech's have also informed me," Rhada continued, "That all conventional operating procedures in Time Combat will need to be altered until the problem is solved. We cannot at the present time transport our current technology to the past. You may only utilize weaponry of the period or before it. Upon leaving, you will report for training in the use of period weapons." She smiled at Crystal, "You may bring your short sword and battle axe if you wish. They may prove useful."
Crystal relaxed visibly. Those weapons were extensions of her own arms, a part of her energies, victorious in many a battle. "I will bring my saber and stiletto," Derek said. "I am comfortable with them. We may not always have access to weapons of the period. Are The Rectifiers also hampered by this restriction in technology?"
"All indications are that this is the case," Rhada replied. "Their internal defense and repair mechanisims appear inactive. You will be fighting on relatively equal terms. There is an additional factor of concern, however. The overlapping Time Lines is permitting periodic intrusions of Rectifier agents from other time lines into the Ultra Time Stream. You will be facing opponents from various periods of human history and varying historical outcomes.
We have observed periods where empires still exist, dictators still rule, revolutions have failed, countries and governments as we know them never formed, monarchies and conquerors have triumphed, free people are subjugated..." she paused, "And the TMA does not exist. I need not stress the importance of this mission. The Techs say breaching the Chronobubble long enough for two persons to pass through is possible before compromising stasis. Are there any questions?"
"Only one," Crystal said. "When our mission is complete, can we be retrieved?"
Rhada steepled her fingers, "All indications are that it is possible. We all know the risks. This is no exception. Every effort will be made to return you in one piece."
"Either we return or none," Derek said. "We will stay as a unit until you can extract us both." Crystal smiled at him, nodding in assent.
"Report for weapons training, then get some rest," Rhada said, rising to her feet. "When the Time Portal is activated, you will of course be garbed in clothing of the period and we will deactivate all your implanted micro weaponry and defense mechanisms. Your weapons will be molecularly reduced until you need them." She shook their hands. "Good luck and may the gods smile upon you."
She watched them leave and swiveled to gaze at a hologram of a forested mountain slope a thousand meters above. Two of my best agents sent on a mission from which they may never return. If they survive, and they cannot return, they are capable of making a life for themselves in the past. They must succeed or life as we know it now will cease to exist and every person here with it. Then the Rectifiers will become the rulers of time.
Derek lay back in the massage tub, the jets soothing his tired body. The weapon instructors had been unstinting, driving him and Crystal to exceed what they considered their perfect fighting techniques. Crystal. She was a whirlwind as she dueled with the instructors, lithe and agile, keeping pace at every turn. She had caught his eye several times from across the training room, winking at him; the sheen of sweat on her face suffusing it with a soft glow.
His career as a Time Warrior had hardened him, made him cynical, aloof, trusting no one, a loner no one really knew. He liked it that way. Many people had passed through his life, but they were as footprints on a beach, disappearing behind him in the waves of Time.
Something about Crystal intrigued him and made him glad she was his partner on this mission. She was smart, capable, tough and deadly, a formidable opponent in battle. However, there was softness when she looked at him... A knock on the door interrupted his musings. "Doors open," he called.
"Are you decent?" said a warm contralto voice. "I'm coming in."
Crystal? Here? What the... ?
"Hello Derek," Crystal said amiably, leaning against the bathroom doorframe. "Doesn't that feel good on tired muscles? I just finished taking one. I feel much more relaxed." She was wearing a blue robe and was barefoot, her hair still wet.
"To what do I owe the honor of your presence?" Derek said.
"I saw you watching me today during training," Crystal said, "I was watching you too. You handle that sword like a master. I could tell you were holding back so as not to injure the instructors."
"Good instructors are hard to find these days."
"The odds are such that we may not return from this mission... ," Crystal began.
"We'll come back," Derek interjected, "We always come back."
"Is there room for two in there?" Crystal said, her robe sliding from her shoulders.
All personnel in TMA Headquarters were waiting in the TAP Chamber when Derek and Crystal entered, garbed in the fashions of 1920's America. Crystal wore a brown beaded dress with the hem just above her knees, arms bare, t-bar shoes, patterned beige stockings and her blond hair gathered under a broad-brimmed hat. She carried a small leather purse, which contained her molecularly reduced weapons and a Chronocommunicator.
Derek wore a brown flannel suit, white shirt and brown tie, two-tone white and tan shoes and a light brown hat. His miniaturized saber and stiletto and his communicator carried in his jacket pockets.
.... There is more of this story ...