Foreward

Cadet Davies stood blinking in the light of an unfamiliar, alien sun. A few moments before, he and the rest of his class had been standing in the ruins of an ancient D'Arsay village. They had been on a field trip to Ramalla IV as part of Professor Ticc's archaeology class. But this looked radically different from where he'd been standing before the bright flash. Now he found himself in some sort of town square, surrounded by buildings of cyclopean design. Confusion turned to fear in the pit of Davies' stomach, and he began looking around for the others.

Over by an oddly cantilevered column of purple marble stood Amy Beach, already looking at her tricorder. Chernigov stood on the balls of his feet, prepared for a fight, in typical Andorian fashion. Cadets Meyers, Holman, and Chetra Gom looked a bit dazed and confused, but unharmed. The only one missing was their teacher, Prof. Ticc, which made Davies feel uneasy.

Walking toward the others, he tapped his com-badge. Nothing happened. He tapped it again, confusion mixing with annoyance. "Davies to Seine, come in," he said. There was no answer. Considering the change in landscape — they had been standing in an underground cave, surrounded by D'Arsay ruins — they were far from Ramalla IV and their runabout.

Amy punched the buttons on her tricorder. Her face screwed up into a mask of confusion.

"What's wrong?" Davies asked.

She continued with the tricorder for a moment. "These readings make no sense. It looks like a temporal reversion," she said, "but I can't be sure. I haven't taken Temporal Mechanics yet."

Davies refused to accept what Beach told him, even though the Academy trained cadets to keep open minds. "Look at the sun, it's too bright," he countered. "Ramalla IV orbits a brown star. That star is yellow, and bright."

"That would make sense," Chernigov interjected. He'd taken Professor Telek's class the previous semester. "Look around us. Do you recognize that pillar? It's the one Amy was standing by before we were transported here. The building over there, it was a pile of rubble before, but it looks similar. And the monolith, it's glowing, and looks significantly newer than when we first saw it."

"If that's the case, then we're millions of years in the past," Davies countered.

The cadets looked at each other, unsure what to do next. Davies tried to recall the last thing he remembered before the flash. Prof. Ticc had touched the monolith, when suddenly lights appeared beneath the surface. Prof. Ticc had disappeared instantly in a flash. Then Davies had felt a tingle all over his body, like someone tickling his spine. He looked at the monolith with a combination of anxiety and interest.

"The barrier of the effect is half a kilometer in that direction." Amy said, pointing to the east.

"Then why don't we go through it?" Holman suggested. He didn't appear to like it, either.

"There's no guarantee that we can return to this time once we pass through the barrier into our own time. Nor do we know if we'd arrive in our own time at all." Chernigov considered the monolith from a distance. Prof. Ticc did to activate the monolith, so we shouldn't do that, either."

Something inside Davies, some hidden reserve, quieted the doubts he felt; someone needed to be in charge, to give them a sense of direction. He mustered his strongest, most authoritative voice. "In that case, we have to find Prof. Ticc." Davies said. "We're on an alien planet, millions of years before we were born. Our teacher is missing, and we know little about the D'Arsay. Let's move out."