The Mini-burger

FanFic in the Birmoverse

Queen of the Seven Seas – Michael Hawkes

“… Hundreds of years later, when humanity in this universe had properly mastered the technology of wormhole translation, the temporal and spatial aberrations which Pope generated would be relatively rare – if much discussed. They manifested themselves on average once in every sixteen million translations. By contrast Manning Pope’s supposedly godlike control of the space-time flux was anything but. It was crude, inefficient and mostly a matter of bad luck. Rather than create a perfectly homogenous translation zone, Pope produced an effect which was plastic and unstable. The event horizon was not circular when it manifested itself in 1942. It was amoeba-like in its form, throwing off long strands and discrete globules of extraneous space-time foam. One of the more remarkable consequences of this involved the Trident, which was translated twice – once into this timeline and again, due a reflection event, into a third universe, where Karen Halabi’s crew found themselves masters of the seven seas in an eighteenth century where Europe lay under the yoke of an Islamic Caliphate which had never been driven from the continent. Her British forebears took some convincing that their salvation lay with a half-English half Pakistani, lapsed Muslim naval captain, from an alternative future three hundred years and a universe away. That version of Karen Halabi won them over with the total destruction by a single sub-nuclear plasma yield cruise missile of Suleiman the Most Excellent’s invasion armada while it lay at anchor in what should have been France…”
This is part of that story

Captain Mohammed Bin Ladin was a worried man. He had sailed from Dijon 10 days ago on the summons of the Caliph to join the great fleet assembling at Brest under the command of Suleiman the Most Excellent.  While the prospect of sailing with the fleet to attack and defeat once and for all the accursed Crusaders filled him with great joy, he knew that to be caught at sea alone like this by the British would spell almost certain doom. His ship, the ‘Fist of Allah’, although of 74 guns, would not fare well against the well trained and sea hardy Royal Navy. Bin Ladin and his officers were still not use to this Spanish ship having sailed in huge Dhows all their lives but when the caliphate had captured all of Spain, the Caliph had made all his sailors transfer to the larger, more modern ships. So with his poorly trained sailors and unsure officers his only salvation lay in running. His only hope was to skip from cove to cove when the sea breeze was favourable and hope to reach Brest in one piece. The Caliph may rule Europe, but had had little success in the way of naval victories. This was the only thing that had kept England free of Muslim rule. The way now was clear to invade England with the combined might of all of his ships and to bring the true faith to the infidels. It had taken almost a year to assemble and collect the men necessary to man the fleet of battleships and transports to tackle the task. Bin Ladin hoped that the theory of greater numbers would overcome the superiority of the Crusaders although he shied away from what could happen if they were led by that devil Nelson. There was also the worry that having taken so long to get ready, the Crusaders would have been preparing too.
    For the fourth time in an hour, he called to his lookouts to keep vigilant while ever casting an eye on the wind and possible escape routes to leeward. Suddenly there were shouts and screams from the men and he quickly turned to the bow of the ship to see what the commotion was all about. A great shimmering wall of air had appeared and was rushing toward them. This was strange! It had not been there a moment before and the sky was clear and sunny. A sudden shudder of superstitious dread washed over him. Mustering himself, he quickly shouted orders to his Lieutenants to take in the sails, but, given the speed of the approaching squall and the clumsiness of his sailors, it was too late. The squall hit them throwing the ship into irons, the wind was hot, strong and smelt of the tropics, his men cried with alarm and fear as the ship heeled over before it. He again screamed at them to get the sails in and this time, under the starter whips of the mates, managed to save her from going completely over.
    Once it was apparent that the ship would survive and the strange gusts of wind and sea had subsided, Bin Ladin and his officers looked for the cause of the disturbance. There was a large grey shape in the still misty air; it soon became clear that there was some sort of large object only 200 yards away! The men started to shout and yell. “It’s a sea monster!” “Allah save us” many screamed.  
    With shaking fingers, Bin Ladin tried to focus his telescope but it was not easy. All he could make out was a grey smooth surface that didn’t look like an animal.  
    “Captain! Look at the rear!” shouted Mudgibar, his 1st mate. Bin Ladin focused on the rear and gave a yelp of surprise. Flying on a small mast was the unmistakable ensign of the Union Jack! “Infidels” exclaimed Bin Ladin. While he was ready to make an escape had he seen another ship approach, he was not a coward, and here lying before him was a fat prize! Gone now was his fear to be replaced by ambition. How it got there was a mystery, but it is obviously Allahs will. It was a hulk, no signs of any masts or crew for that matter! If he could capture this thing and bring it to the Caliph oh what glories would be heaped upon him! “Mudgibar! Run out the guns! We will give the crusaders a taste of Allah’s might!” he instructed. It would give the crew some much needed practice and build their confidence up if they gave the thing a few broadsides! The thing was just ahead of him, if he put on a small amount of sail, just to give steerage way, he could position the “Fist of Allah” for a broadside and then let the ships drift together. He gave an order to set the top sails to get some headway and ordered the helm over. Slowly the thing moved around to be in position.
    The crew had finally managed to get the guns run out, though this had taken far too long. He would have to drill the lazy dogs till they dropped if they were to be in any shape for a real threat. Mudgibar looked to the captain expectantly for orders.
    “Fire” yelled Bin Ladin.  
    Captain Halabi could hear bells, the great big ones with the deep booming tones that she had seen on leave in Japanese temples. She slowly opened her eyes; every thing swam in dizzying circles. Feeling nauseous and paralysed she tried to bring herself to full consciousness. Totally confused with what was happening and what had happened to her, she tried to focus on the strange sounds that seemed to be emanating from the hull around her. Slowly she realised that Posh, the ship CI was talking to her in a calm measured manner. “Captain, the ship is under attack, the ship requests Autonomy level one in response” Under attack! By what! Or who! She tried to get her mind around it but could feel herself slipping back into unconsciousness. Suddenly there was a huge crash as a window on the bridge exploded in a shower of glass and something smashed into the opposite wall, killing an unfortunate seaman in a spray of blood and gore. The hull seemed to shudder and boom again as projectiles of some description bounced off it. Those windows were armoured glass! What ever was attacking them had to be close. “Posh” she managed to croak on the third time, “Posh…” and then darkness overtook her again.  
    Posh tried to get a response from the captain but her biomeds indicated that she had returned to an unconscious state. She administered a dose of Promatil to the captain and moved on. She swiftly made her way down through all of the officers on board with executive power, not one was aware. Posh was now moving through her standard operating procedures algorithm, she had ascertained that nobody aboard was in a fit state to control the ship. The British Navy’s standing instruction for this occurrence was for the CI to take command. She did. Now she worked her way through the situation awareness and reaction checklist. First and foremost, communicate to a higher authority for assistance or even command override. Posh tried to contact the CI on the Hilary, when this failed she tried all the CI’s in the task force. No reply. Next she tried to contact the admiralty in London via satellite. This failed too. Without wondering why such an extremely unlikely situation had occurred. She moved on through her list. The Standing instructions are a programmable list of instructions that the CI must obey. This gives the respective owners the opportunity to have their ships act in the manner that suits their operating paradigm.  Next, was the ship in danger? Yes, she concluded. Was the ship under attack? Yes again. The list now pointed her to a series of actions, she was to assume level one autonomy and take whatever action was required to protect the ship. This was where the RN differed from some of the other navies by allowing the CI to take total offensive control of the ship automatically. They were always rather more pragmatic in their thinking. If it shoots at you, kill it then worry about the consequences later.
    Posh evaluated the threat. It took some time for her to find a ship in her database that matched the one that was currently firing on them. She deduced that it was a sailing ship circa 1700-1800. She did not ponder the mystery of this but instead activated the ships CIWS system. This system was made up of a network of Iron Storm gun batteries and laser turrets that were essentially designed to protect the ship from incoming missiles. How they would fare against cannonballs was about to be put to the test. Posh had discounted using the Trident’s missile systems as the assailant was much to close so the Close in Weapons Support or CIWS system would have to do.
Boom! The other ship had fired another broadside, it sounded like rolling thunder with puff of white smoke issuing from the gunports. It was not a nice clean volley that you would have expected from a trained British ship but a ragged affair that showed how some of the enemy gun crews were more efficient than others. Posh targeted the relatively slow incoming projectiles and opened fire. The metal storm guns were primarily designed and programmed to stop incoming missiles. A missile is a relatively soft target, it just moves very fast. The objective of Metalstorm was to put up a wall of metal for the missile to crash into effectively destroying it. This only required the guns to fire very short accurate bursts. Destroying a 24 pound iron cannon ball was a far different proposition. The short bursts of bullets out in the way of the balls had no real effect on the solid mass and the laser pods need much more time on target if they were to remotely effective. So the broadside passed through the Trident’s defences and ploughed into the Trident’s armoured deck. The armour again held setting off the bell like tones that the captain had heard as the balls bounced off in all directions. This time there was no lucky shot through a porthole or bridge window.  
    Posh did a computer double take; she re-evaluated the data, calculating that to stop the inertia of a flying cannonball would require a constant stream of projectiles at 1 million rounds per minute. With over 30 cannonballs to contend with, the Trident’s war stocks would be depleted very quickly. Given the type of threat, it would be acceptable to reprogram the Storm to a much slower rate and switch it from radar control to manual control by her. She would then destroy the source of the balls, the cannons themselves. Given that she had level one autonomy, she would then coldly and dispassionately, tear the ship to pieces. This would fulfil her programmed parameters and remove the threat to the Trident. She did not at any stage consider just moving out of the way or sparing the lives of the enemy, her first priority was to eliminate any hostiles if it was in her power.  
    All of this took only nanoseconds. Before initiating her attack, she had already evaluated that the crew had somehow suffered a neural attack and had invoked her medical subroutines which had run concurrently, and dealt with the crew appropriately. Next she started up the huge Rolls Royce engines and started moving the Trident into a course that would continue to circle the hapless ship that was attacking her.
    Then she opened fire.
    Captain Bin Ladin watched as the first broadside of his ship crashed out. This would be the only one that was fired together he though grimly. The men had had little training on the guns so far. He watched the strange ship to gauge the damage done by that first withering impact. The broadside could not have been less ideal with the ships now parallel and the optimum distance apart for cannon shot. The Shots hit with a strange booming sound like someone striking a metal with a hammer. Surely this ship was not made of metal! He thought incredulously. He waited till the light breeze cleared away the smoke to better assess the damage. Swiftly they all scanned the strange vessel with their telescopes, it was amazing, there appeared to be no damage to the ship, if anything it had dented the hull and taken off the strange grey paint but nothing seemed to be wrong!
    Bang! Another broadside rang out, and as he predicted, it was already ragged. Again the balls seemed to bounce of the hull, this time there was the sound of breaking glass.  Swiftly he searched for the source of the noise. There! Up the front at the top, a window appeared to be broken. Now that he had a focal point, he could now make out more windows. So there were openings after all he thought. Just as he called to Mudgibar to aim the ships carronade at the windows, lots of little posts popped up out of various parts of the huge ship. Bang! The third broadside rang out, this time the air was filled with loud ripping sounds and small spurts of smoke spewed from the back of the posts. “What in Allahs name…” he muttered. He was suddenly filled with a strong sense of foreboding! He now realised the danger he was putting himself and the ship in. It was time to go. Best to run a little first and evaluated the strange vessel from a distance, turning to Mudgibar he screamed “Seize firing! Set all sail. Now!”
As Mudgibar turned with confusion to question the order, it happened.
    Starting on the lower gun deck, it sounded like a swarm of angry bees, around several guns, the timber bulkheads exploded into a blizzard of splinters, cutting down some of the men servicing the gun. Projectiles pinged off the gun spinning into yet other screaming men, while some continued their flight across the deck to strike the crews on the non operating side. No sooner would this commotion suddenly stop when it would start again on the next gun. In under a minute the gun deck had been almost swept clean, leaving a charnel house of splattered blood, brains and gore. Only a small handful survived, dying and screaming amongst the offal.  
It was no better on the main deck, Bin Ladin watched in terror as what appeared to be small deadly tornadoes whipped and churned up everything on the deck into a spray of metal, splinters and body parts that painted everything red. Four or Five of them seemed to dance from one group of men to another seeming to have some evil intelligence as it sought out its next victims. Bright piercing light blasted from many of the posts, slicing though anything it touched, the rigging, men and furled sails where sliced effortlessly from the masts to fall to the deck in a flaming mess. Mudgibar was sliced in two, from his left shoulder to his right hip. He stood there for a moment, frozen in space with eyes that spoke of unimaginable terror, then both parts slid apart to fall on the deck curiously with little blood.
A whirlwind now blew up around him and he knew it was his time to meet Allah. Suddenly feeling calm and at peace, he turned to the evil force that was eating his ship and screamed “Allahu Akbar!” in defiance with his hands in the air. Everything went red then black.
Fire is the deadliest enemy of a sailing ship which is almost totally made of combustible material. The fires started by the Tridents lasers quickly caught hold and within minutes the Fist of Allah was a single column of shooting flame. Some survivors managed to fall overboard but most perished along with the ship.
Posh had seized firing to preserve ammunition when it was apparent that the ship was no longer a threat. She had now taken Trident away from blazing wreck and was standing by in readiness should the ship open fire again.
On board the ill fated Fist of Allah, the fire had finally reached the magazine and with a pounding roar, blew herself to pieces.
On the Trident, Posh’s medical subroutines had released Promatil into the bloodstream of all the unconscious crew that had medical implants. It was starting to have results and various crew members started to come around.
Captain Halabi again opened her eyes to reality, her vision was still blurred and she had pins and needles over most of her body. She looked down at her console where she had spilt her coffee and was thankful she hadn’t worn it. Looking at her display she tried to focus on what had happened. Vaguely she remembered talking to Posh and, what? Had she given her a command? This made her sit up. “Posh. Report” she commanded. Briefly, the CI told Halabi what had happened and how she had dealt with it. “My God!” she murmured, aghast with the destruction that Posh had wrought.  She looked out of the shattered bridge windows at the still burning wreckage thinking there may still be someone alive out there. First things first she reminded herself.  “Posh, I am making my way to CIC. What is the casualty list”? She enquired.
“Four Dead, Six possibly wounded and fifteen still unconscious captain” Posh reported. “As the medical staff recover, I am directing them to crew who appear to be injured” Her vids indicated that a cook had received severe burns in the galley and a crewman in the engine room had hit her head, gashing it badly on a pipe when she had fallen.
“Very well” Slowly and carefully Halabi stood up, holding on until the dizziness abated. A headache had come on full strength and she could feel the pain depressants again flowing to ease her suffering. She slowly made her way down to the CIC which was located in the central hull of the destroyer.  
She looked around the CIC and saw that everyone was responding as she had to the soothing rush of Promatil from their implants, although some of them looked definitely queasy and one or two of them had thrown up, much to their embarrassment.  
“Heads up everyone” she said and instructed Posh to playback what had happened on the CIC displays. “We seem to have had a situation here while we were out” Everyone watched the destruction of the beautiful sailing ship in silence only venting their amazement and horror at the end.  “OK, I want a full sweep of the area. RADAR, launch two big eye drones and do a 100km sweep of the zone now. COMMS try and get in touch with the Hilary and find out what the hell just happened. NAV, where the FUCK are we! SAR, get a boat launched and see if there are any survivors, treat it as a hostile situation. INTEL, identify that damned ship! and see if you can work out what happened” Halabi took a deep breath and tried to settle down, she needed to be the tough bitch captain of His Majesty’s Destroyer, Trident. The emotional stuff would have to wait.  
Everyone got stuck into their allocated tasks and soon their situation started to become clearer. A medic made it into the CIC and started to give people pep shots and check for injuries. The surgeon reported in to confirm Posh’s initial report. “The injured aren’t too bad Captain, We have treated cook Anson’s burns and will be able to apply new skin shortly. Able seaman Gant has concussion and I had to put in 12 stiches, she’ll be fine in a couple of days.  As to what happened to us, I really don’t know, it may have been some type of neural attack but I really don’t know at this point. It has affected the crew in different ways, most have responded to the Promatil but I still have about ten others that are still heavily affected by it.”  
“OK doctor; let me know if you work it out.” Halabi clicked her off.  On her display, chief Lohberger was trying to get her attention.  He was in charge of the rescue operations.
“Ma’am, we have made a grid sweep of the area and found four survivors. Two are in bad shape and Medic Hughes doesn’t think they’ll make it. We are bringing them in now.” What the chief didn’t say was how difficult it had been for his team to rescue them, the injured were fairly easy and so was an old man but the uninjured youth had put up a hell of a fight, screaming in a language no one could recognise and wildly swinging at them with a piece of oar while holding on to what looked like a chunk of mast. They had finally managed to disarm him and drag him kicking and screaming into the zodiac. Hughes had had to give him a sedative to calm him down.
“OK Chief, get the injured to medical and hold the others in the mess until we can interrogate them.”
“Aye aye ma’am”
“COMMS, what do you have? “
“Nothing ma’am” said a very puzzled young lieutenant. “I can’t raise anyone or anything, there appears to be actually no EMF activity at all!” Halabi could hear the panic starting to rise in the lieutenant. “Calm down Patricia, it’s OK.”
“It’s the same with the Sats Ma’am, I can’t get squat! No GPS, no CNN, no nothing, It’s as if there not there!” NAV informed her also sounding jumpy.
“Can you work out where we are?” she asked.
“Well, using the big eyes and with Posh’s help I think we are off the coast of France!”
“What! Half an hour ago we near Indonesia, now your telling me where in the North Sea?” she cried indignantly.
“Yes Ma’am, look” and he projected the composite radar image the big eyes we sending over a map of western France. And it lined up almost perfectly! She was fighting becoming overwhelmed here. She looked up at Lt Cmdr Doyle who headed up the INTEL section and was on attachment from the US Navy. “Well Commander?”  
“OK ma’am, we think we have some answers. First the ship appears to be of Spanish design circa 1750-1800’s battle ship called a ship of the line with about 74 cannons. The flag she was flying however is unknown to us but it looks Islamic. “Doyle displayed an image captured by one of the outside sensor cameras of a flag made up of green and white with a crescent moon and star in red.  “As to what has happened, well we might have a line on that too” he drawled. “Next he uploaded another sensor take this time of the Nagoya. “We were lucky enough to have one of the cameras pointed at the Nagoya, watch what happens” The room was totally silent as everyone was absorbed by the startling and dramatic image of the Nagoya shrinking to a point of light then a blast of swirling light then the blackness of nothing. Then there was daylight again but it was obviously different. “You’ll agree ma’am, that the Nagoya looks like the source of an event and that we are in a different place. Please note that we are now in the early morning instead of noon and that the cloud formations are radically different”.  He was right. It was now obvious that they had moved instantaneously, thousands of miles. She went white with shock when she continued on this logic path. Given the style of ship they had encountered, they may have moved through time as well! Halabi could see that Doyle had also reasoned this out.   
“Commander, do we have anyone on board the ship who majored in physics” she asked
“Yes Ma’am, one of the junior lieutenants in engineering, she studied Quantum theory at Oxford   
“Well get her on to this right now Commander, I want her ideas on what has just happened.” With that she stood up, still a little shakily, and headed for the door, it was time to get some answers from the prisoners. “XO, take charge, I’ll be down in the mess with the prisoners. Commander Doyle, after you have briefed our physicist, meet me down there” She left to a chorus of aye aye ma’ams.
 In the mess chief Lohberger had everything in hand, the wild youth was handcuffed to a chair and the old man sat calmly at a table, there were 4 armed sailors with the chief watching over them.
“At ease everyone, what have we got chief” Halabi said as she entered the room with everyone jumping to attention.  
“Well ma’am, it’s very strange, and this firebrand here” he indicated the wild eyed youth, “sounds like he is speaking Arabic, I’ve already sent for petty officer Achmed and see if he can understand him. He’s pretty agitated, looks scared to death” If things panned out the way they were heading, she wasn’t surprised he was scared shitless, she was getting that way herself!
“How about the old man” she indicated to the old chap who just sat there and watched benignly.  
“He is a whole different story ma’am. He speaks Spanish and able seaman Gonzalez here can understand him but what he says doesn’t make much sense” pointing to a burly Latino who nodded.
“Gonzalez, I want you ask him a question for me” he nodded again. “Ask him what year it is” this got her strange looks from everyone, but he asked him anyway. It was amusing that the old man gave her exactly the same look when he understood the question. When he answered, Gonzalez looked incredulous, then suspicious and asked the question again. Halabi guessed ahead at what the old man had said. “He says it’s the year of our Lord 1805 ma’am!” everyone looked stunned except the captain.  
Shit, shit, shit, Halabi thought to herself, this was becoming a nightmare. Commander Doyle entered the room then and she brought him up to date. “Shit!” he mirrored her.  “Lieutenant Delaney is looking at the data now ma’am, she seems pretty sharp, she was on to what appears to have happened as soon as she saw the Nagoya shrink. She calls it spaghettification and apparently it’s not a good thing” he understated. Halabi started to feel dizzy again and reached out to steady herself. “Are you alright ma’am” Doyle asked with sudden concern at how pale the captain looked.  Through sheer effort of will, she forced herself to stand up straight. “I’m fine Commander”, she looked at her watch, “Have Commander McTeale, you and Lieutenant Delaney meet me in the conference room at 1200 hrs” that would give everyone time to settle down, including herself, and maybe come up with some solid answers. “Meanwhile, if you’re up to it yourself Commander, I want you to interrogate this old chap and try and get an idea what is happening in this world”. There, she had finally voiced all theirs suspicions.  
“I’m fine ma’am, and don’t worry, I’m sure its going to be fine”. He would later think back to this remark and feel rather silly.   
The conference room was a small room behind the CIC that would hold 6 people comfortably and 10 at a push. Captain Halabi, Commanders McTeale, Howard and Doyle along with Lieutenant Delaney sat around the small table.
“Ok people, lets see what we’ve got” Halabi said to bring the meeting to order. “Commander McTeale, what’s the current tactical situation” Swiftly the commander confirmed what they had detected earlier, that they were indeed off the coast of France near Brest. Looking at the holograph display in the middle of the table, he showed where there where a further 26 ships at sea some 100 kilometres away, which was obviously some kind of fleet and some other sundry vessels. At the moment though they were on their own.
She next quizzed Doyle on what information he had been able to garner from the Spaniard.  It appeared that he had been able to get quite a lot. After they had been able to convince the old man they were friends and British, he had looked relieved and become quite friendly and animated. It turned out that his name was Manuel and he was essentially a slave sailor on the Caliphate ship called The Fist of Allah. Apparently Spain and most of Europe for that matter had been taken over by the moors and the Islamic nations under the rule of a united Caliph. Spain had never fully driven the Moors out of the Iberian Peninsula and they had been defeated in a huge battle 10 years earlier. It had been a slaughter with most of the population put to the sword as infidels and unbelievers. Those that had survived were used as slave labour. Under a multi-pronged attack most of Europe fell to them with a huge Islamic jihad attacking from Constantinople and by sea from Libya. France had been the last to fall, but succumbed to the Moors who had attacked from the south. This had happened quite recently. What was more disturbing however was that The Fist Of Allah had been on its way to join a huge armada gathering at Brest which was going to attack England.  The British were still an extremely powerful naval force and the Caliph was hoping to crush it using sheer numbers.  
“What have you done with Manuel?” she asked the commander.
“He’s still in the mess eating as if there’s no tomorrow” chuckled Doyle “We can’t get the other one to eat though”. They couldn’t get the other one to do anything. He had just sat there shaking, with his face in his hands. They had rustled up one of the crew who spoke Arabic and he said that while it was difficult, he could make out the gist of his language. At that moment he was uttering a running mantra for Allah to save him from the demons. The doctor had looked in on him and she had administered a stronger sedative saying that he was suffering from severe shock. They now had him in the Sickbay, asleep, with a guard stationed nearby.
It was now Lt Delaney’s turn. “You’ve had a chance to view the vids and the data Lieutenant, what do you think has happened to us. “ Halabi then smiled at the young Lt “I’m not expecting you to deliver a seam tight answer here Lt, I just want your considered opinions and best guesses” Lt Delaney looked confident and self assured  
“I’m afraid that’s all I can offer you ma’am but while I only studied the basics of Quantum mechanics, I do have good idea what the Nagoya was working on so I think I know what has happened.”
“Oh? How did you know what the Nagoya was doing?” Halabi asked curiously, she knew that only Kolhammer and the captain of the Hilary had been briefed on the Nagoya but nobody else in the task force had any inkling of the real purpose of the huge research ship.
“Simple ma’am, it’s the old adage of its not what you know but who you know. It so happens that I went to MIT with one of the scientists on the Nagoya!”  
“Oh? I thought you went to Oxford?” ask Doyle.
“Well, yes but I spent a year at MIT first under a scholarship, but I decided against finishing a physics degree and switched to engineering instead”.
“So who did you know on the Nagoya?” asked Halabi, to bring the conversation back on track.
“While I was at MIT I roomed with Sharon Dunne, she was on Professor Pope’s team.”
She then went on to say that after meeting up with her old roommate again via Fleetnet, Dunne had confided in her with regards to the research they were doing and her concerns regarding it.
“From what she has told me ma’am it would appear that Sharon was right to be concerned and something went terribly wrong. From what I have seen and understand I would hazard that we have just proven the Multiverse theory and are now in another dimension!” Everyone sat in silence for a moment trying to digest the incredible news, not wanting to believe it but knowing it to be true.
“So we are not back in our own time then? “Asked McTeale
Delaney denied this and went on to describe what she remembered of the theory.
“I suppose the big question is can it be reversed? Can we go back?” Halabi asked with more tremble in her voice than she would have liked.
 For the first time Delaney looked troubled, as the impact of her own statements started to hit home. “No Ma’am, I don’t think it’s likely, in fact, I wouldn’t know where to start! I only did the intro this stuff.”
Halabi looked up at Lt Delaney. “Thankyou Lt, that will be all for now” Delaney looked disappointed and looked as if she was about to argue but only for a moment. “Aye aye ma’am” she said and got up and left.
Halabi now looked at her senior officers, and ran her hand through her hair. This had always indicated to McTeale that his captain was deeply ruffled. “OK gentlemen, what the hell do we do now” They all looked at one another for a moment. McTeale cleared his throat, “well we all heard how much chance we have of getting home, so I suppose we are going to have to get use to it and figure out what would be the best course of action”.
The discussion that transpired took many hours. The first thing they covered was where they stood; did they have any obligations to England and the king? Everyone with the obvious exception of Doyle felt that they did, as they were still English, no matter where they were. So what would they do? They felt that they had a moral obligation to defend England, any England for that matter, should they hunt this fleet down and sink it then sail into London as hero’s or go to London first and offer their services.  
The idea of going to London first seemed to have merit because Howard felt that they would have to gain some concessions from them so that they at least had some possibility of living there. He reminded them that this was about 60 years before Jules Verne and the germ of science fiction had not yet been planted.  Halabi agreed saying that this was also the equivalent to the dark ages for them socially. Woman did nothing of value, did not have the vote, shit! They couldn’t even legally wear pants! The social conditions of this age were abysmal. She said that some of the men may fit in but the women and especially those not Caucasian would never fit into this society. Was it different anywhere else? They asked Doyle about America but he felt it was much the same; in fact most of the world would be even worse than England.  
The possibility of going rogue and setting up their own civilisation in the Caribbean had some romantic attractions but in reality they knew that this would be even tougher. So Ok they go to England and offer their services in exchange for what? What else did they have to bargain with? The trident had only limited war stocks without the hope of replacing them anytime soon.  Did they have anything else to offer over the long term? McTeale exclaimed that of course they did! Think about it! Knowledge is the key here, Knowledge is power! By tightly controlling their knowledge of technology and history they could gain a measure of power. Yes, but it would have to be finely balanced, interjected Halabi. If the incumbent powers believed they gained too much control then they would step in, probably violently. There was also the problem of the church stated Howard. If they seem too mystic and the population become too superstitious of their science, then religion would step in and squash them even more effectively.  They all realised that the uneducated mob that was greater England would always be the problem. Mankind had a bad habit of reacting violently to things they did not understand. Then propaganda as a media campaign would have to be incorporated Doyle stated. Halabi at this point adjourned the meeting so everyone could get a bite to eat and then to meet back here to hammer out a plan. She asked Doyle to remain behind.
“Steven, this must be really hard on you, at least we are all Royal Navy and English, do you feel alienated now” she was concerned with this. She had to know the mans mind.
“Karen, yes, I suppose I do a bit at that. “He admitted. “I feel I don’t really belong anywhere but more than that as you have said, at least you have your crew. I don’t feel I belong here either” Halabi could see the anguish and loneliness in his eyes. Her compassion threatened to swamp her. She reached out and touched his arm. “Steve, you are part of a larger group now, we are all aliens here, think of it like that. I will include you in our negotiations with them. You are a vital part of my team Steve, but I will give you permission to leave if you want. You could return to the states” she offered. Doyle shook his head. “No Karen, I’ve thought of that too but I would be an object of curiosity and even more alienated there I think. No. My place is here” he looked at her with resolve.  
“We must all stick together Steve. I think you have made the right decision.” She smiled at him. “Now go and get something to eat”.
The mob lined both sides of the Themes River near the Pool of London, climbing any structure they could so as to get a better look at the huge thing that sat in the river. Wild rumours abounded, some even saying that this was a ship! Pah! Where were the masts?
The thing had crept into the pool last night during the habitual London fog. It had only been discovered less than an hour ago! It was always amazing how fast information like this could travel.
It had now been surrounded by what warships that were anchored in the pool and even now a company of light cannon were trying to find a suitable vantage point as to engage the thing.
The thing was huge, at least 5 times bigger than a first-rate battleship. It was the colour of the sea and was alien in its smooth clean lines. What was really odd about it, which set off wild rumours amongst the crowd was that on a tiny mast at the stern, it flew the English Ensign!
Eventually a small boat from the shore approached the thing. It had a Lt aboard with several marines. “Ah, action at last” the mob seemed to murmur as the excitement, which was already at fever pitch, seemed to increase.
Lt Moran was very nervous, as a Lt employed at the dockyard under the captain of the docks, he was very comfortable with his regular routine and safe lifestyle. He adjusted his huge frame yet again in the damned boat. Gods he didn’t even really like the naval life, but fortunately his uncle had procured him this very comfortable and sometimes lucrative position. Now he was tasked with approaching this ship? And he was terrified.  
They were within hailing distance now and he made the crew heave too. He didn’t want to get any closer than necessary. From this distance it definitely looked like a ship and it appeared to be made of metal. Astonishing. Summoning up his courage and clearing his throat to avoid a very embarrassing voice break, he addressed the ship. “Ahoy the vessel” He waited. He would try once more, if he didn’t get a reply this time, he could return to the dock and report truthfully that he had fulfilled his duty, his hopes rose with that thought. “Ahoy the vessel” he tried once more. He was about to tell the coxswain to return when a creaking sound emanated from the side of the ship along with what was now obviously a hatch. It opened inward, leaving a black ominous looking hole. He quickly fought off the feeling of terror and thanked the lord that he was sitting down. He again hailed the ship but this time his voice did break. Suddenly a man appeared in the opening and said “yes” in a conversational manner. This had no effect on the Lt but some of the rowers tittered nervously. Moran was so surprised for some reason he just stared at the man, he wasn’t sure what he was expecting but obviously it wasn’t just a plain man.  
“Yes, can I help you” the man repeated.
“Um, err, b-by the command of the port captain, you are to state you intentions and allow me to inspect your vessel” he managed to remember his orders.  
“I’ll do no such thing” the man answered in a very elegant English accent.  “This is His Majesties Ship Trident and due to circumstances that must be obvious to you, we will only allow Admiral John Jarvis on board to talk to us. Is that clear” he demanded. Halabi had sent Lt Cmdr Marc Howard to talk because of his Oxford accent. The Lt looked dumbly at him for a moment thinking that the circumstances were not obvious at all. He then replied “If you do not follow my instructions, we shall be forced to fire on you” he said somewhat nervously, he hadn’t been told to threaten them but that was the what he always resorted to when he lost control of situations, which was often.
“You’d open fire on a fellow English ship?” Howard replied. “We will only talk to Jarvis, so fire away, but just remember Lt, it will be your burden of responsibility” That did it; Marc had read the fat Lt well. With that the Lt spluttered “I shall have to inform my superiors of your reply, but any sign of aggression on your part will result on you being sunk instantly!” and ordered the launch back to the dock with all haste. Marc smiled after him then closed the hatch.
And so the Trident sat there. Hours past as she awaited the authorities to make up their minds. The mob grew restive and several minor riots broke out. It was early afternoon when a launch, larger and more ornate than the first, finally headed out to her. On board, Admiral John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent looked keenly at the vessel. It did indeed seem to be made of metal as the stupid Lt had described. Jarvis was still annoyed at the efforts it had taken to get any coherent information out of the terrified Lt. He had locked himself in a water closet and refused to come out. It had taken the threat of thrusting a marine’s bayonet up through the back service hatch to have him emerge screaming like a stuck pig when a marine had actually started to carry out the order. It had taken further threats of capital punishment to make the imbecile speak. Oh well, the service had them all he mused and cursed a system that allowed the rich and high rank to still obtain commissions for themselves or kin. The army was the worst for this; thank god the Navy allowed gifted individuals like Nelson for example, to rise through the ranks based largely on merit. He himself had benefited from that system.   
His thoughts return to the ship and the millions of questions it prompted, how was it powered? Where were the gun ports? It was so large, and to be made of metal, it must weigh a ton but it seemed to float easily enough in the reasonably shallow waters of the Thames. What was more intriguing is that it appeared to have three hulls! As they rowed closer it became apparent that the vessel had been in some kind of fight recently, there were large dents and scraps up and down the side. Had this ship survived a broadside with just dents? This was at the same time both intriguing and worrying to him. Curiosity had finally consumed him at the admiralty and had overridden the endless debate that was raging about what to do, and had decided to find out for himself what was going on. If indeed it was a trap, he couldn’t see to what end. If these people wanted to talk him well he would give them the chance.  Of course everyone else thought he was mad but he had never turned from a challenge yet and was not about to start now. He wouldn’t just go sailing on in though, they would heave to just off from the hatch and he would make up his own mind then.
When they had reached the point he felt was close enough, he motioned to his coxswain, who stopped the boat and hailed the Trident. The hatch opened almost immediately and Howard appeared dressed in his best uniform.  
“Admiral Jarvis?” he inquired.
“Yes, to whom am I speaking” Jarvis had stood up to identify himself. He studied the officer closely but could not identify the strange uniform, it certainly wasn’t British.  
“Lieutenant Commander Marc Howard sir of his Britannic majesty’s ship Trident”. This was most baffling as there was no such rank or ship! But the officer certainly sounded British and educated at that.  
“On behalf of the captain sir, we would like to welcome you aboard so that the circumstances of our arrival may be explained to you” Howard quoted the carefully worded request. His was a bit nervous about the next part, but he could see it had to be done. “As guarantee for your safety sir, I offer up myself as a hostage while you are aboard”.  
Jarvis snorted at this, he had already made up his mind. “That won’t be necessary Commander, I will accept your word as an English officer” As a precaution though he told the coxswain to stand off back here until he waved he was alright. “Do you think it’s a good idea sir?” questioned the coxswain with a very worried frown. It was a mark of his deep concern that he had questioned an admiral! “I could come as well if you’d like sir” he offered. Jarvis declined the offer and ignored the question. He ordered the launch to line up with the hatch.
Jarvis pulled his massive frame in through the door. As he had suspected the ship was made of metal of some sort, but he knew little about that. He noticed at once how clean and cool the air was, like in the north Atlantic far from shore. A small group of people curiously dressed in white uniforms were waiting for him in what was obviously a foyer of some sort. A part of him even noted that he could stand upright which had always been a rare event on a warship. He swept the group with intense eyes taking in the obvious rank slides on their epaulettes. Good heavens above! He thought the ranking one is a Woman and a half caste too at that! The group then smartly saluted him which he automatically returned.
“Admiral Jarvis, I am extremely pleased to meet you sir” she said with no curtsy “welcome aboard His Britannic Majesty, King William V’s Ship, Trident. I’m Captain Karen Halabi”
“King who!” spluttered Jarvis, he was totally at sea with this whole mess. What was going on? “Now see here young Lad…Captain! Um…Oh! What the hell!”  
“Admiral, please calm down, we are eager to explain these unusual circumstances but I must warn you that they are going to seem quite bizarre. If you will allow me to introduce my officers and escort you to the officers mess, we will then proceed to fill you in”  
Jarvis was lost for words; if it wasn’t for the obvious strangeness of the ship before his eyes he would have dismissed them all as raving lunatics! A shout of inquiry outside brought him back to reality and he stuck his head out the door and affirmed his safety and told them to wait his return. He turned back to the group “Very well then Captain you shall have my ear for the moment though I must confess I probably won’t believe what you fill it with”
Halabi introduced him to McTeale, Howard and Commander Simms the doctor. They had decided to hide Doyle due to the possibility of some misunderstanding at the forefront of the negotiations. England had not long finished fighting the war of independence after all. At this point they weren’t even sure if it had occurred! She led the stunned Admiral along the passage ways until they came to the briefing room. He was agog with all the technology that they took for granted. The fabrics and materials were amazing, especially the hard smooth surface that seemed to come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Commander Simms saw his interest and said softly “Its Plastic Sir”. She may as well have said “Frozen cow turds” for all the sense that made.
Once they had seated themselves in the most incredible, comfortable chairs he’d ever used. Captain Halabi opened the meeting. “Admiral Jarvis” she started formally. “I will explain to you what has happened to us over the last day. What will seem unbelievable too you is just as unbelievable to us as well. A little over 24 hours ago, this ship was part of task force, sailing off the coast of Indonesia, which is known to you as the Dutch West Indies, on the 16th January 2021.” She watched for his reaction, but to his credit he remained poker faced. He had obviously recovered his composure since his earlier outburst. She continued. “An event occurred which we are still trying to sort out, seemed to have sent us back over 200 years. This temporal event had a devastating effect on the crew incapacitating everyone for a short while” She shuddered from the memory. She saw that the others were having the same thoughts. “When we came too we found we were under attack” She looked at Jarvis “Sir I am now about to show you some of our advanced technology please don’t be alarmed” With that she switched on the Holo viewer which sprang to life in the middle of the table. Even forewarned Jarvis sprang back with shock and Halabi was concerned for a moment that they might have triggered a heart attack. “Good heavens above!” he exclaimed. He seemed to recover with amazing speed though, as his curiosity overtook him again. He leaned forward to examine it more closely. The viewer was paused at the moment, showing the Frisbee view of the Trident being attacked by the Fist of Allah, puffs of smoke hung suspended at the moment the Fist of Allah had fired her first broadside. “What is it?” he asked in an awed voice.
“It’s called a Holo viewer sir. It displays a recorded image in 3 dimensions” She could see from his look that that had made no sense either. Ye gods, this was going to be a real adventure she exclaimed to herself. “Sir this stuff” she waived her hands around. “Will take a lot of time to explain to you. We have progressed a very, very long way in 200 years. Can we skip the explanations for the moment and allow me to explain what has happened?” Jarvis seemed to see them suddenly in a new light. He sat back and nodded, watching the image intensely. “The image moves too sir” she to warn him then hit the play button.
Jarvis sat through the entire performance in dumbstruck awe. The ramifications of what these people could do for England or the world for that matter was astounding, the possibilities seemed limitless but at the same time, terrifying. In a leap of reasoning he could also see the social upheavals that they would cause.  The terrifying attack on the Islamic ship seemed almost evil in its speed and intensity. At the end of it he sat for a moment trying to absorb what he had just seen. “Y-your weapons seem most effective” he stammered.  
“Sir that was just our automatic defence systems, you haven’t seen our offensive weapons yet” boasted Howard. Halabi frowned at him for silence. She could see it was almost too much for Jarvis, she needed to step back a little. “Tea Admiral? A cup of Earl grey perhaps?” She smiled. “Some things haven’t changed though”. The steward, who was hovering in the background, got busy at the urn, which again was another source of wonder for Jarvis. Instant hot water! While the tea was being served Commander Howard explained. “Much of what you see here Admiral, the lights, the hot water, even the holo viewer is powered by a remarkable science that your generation is only now discovering. It’s called electricity and is one of the cornerstones of modern technology and civilisation.”  
“I see” said Jarvis. He really did. “And will I get to see its use in my lifetime?” By that Howard could see that he was thinking about how things were, not how they will be with their presence. “Possibly with our assistance Admiral, however there is an earlier power source that England will embrace very shortly. In fact this power will be the catalyst of an industrial revolution that will make England the most advanced country in the world, that power is called Steam and you have it now.” Halabi saw an opening here and took it “But with our help Admiral, we should be not just be the most powerful but the most dominate!” Halabi remembered that this was still the age of colonisation and empire building; they would understand this language even though it may revolt some of the crew. Jarvis’s eyes were alight with this image of a golden age, then suspicious. “This all sounds wonderful of course, but I doubt you are just going to hand all the technology over on a plate” he was proud that he had seemed to use this new word correctly.
Halabi smiled at Jarvis’s perception. “Quite correct Admiral. While it is true that we are all Englishmen, serving in the Royal Navy, we have sworn to a different king.” They had discussed this point at length, but since there was nobody on board who had studied law, they were uncertain as to whether the point was valid. “Be that as it may, we are all in agreement that we should rise to the defence of England when our country is in dire straits. However, due to our unique circumstances, we need certain sanctions that will allow us to operate effectively and live in your time.” Jarvis saw the emotion in Halabi’s eyes and realised that yes they were very much strangers here and would find it impossible to live here without the strong intervention of the crown and government.  He nodded his understanding and Halabi could see that he did indeed see their predicament. Did they have an ally here? She very much hoped so. “Will you be our go between sir? We need to deliver our proposals to the king and Prime Minister.”  
Jarvis thought about it. On one hand this single ship showed the capability of destroying England’s Naval threat completely but on the other hand, how much social turmoil will they create? “Can you go back to your own time Captain” he asked watching Halabi closely. She just shook her head fearful that she would lose it if she spoke. Jarvis saw this and realised that they really we stuck here. Well if they turned there back on them where would they go? A ship of pirates with weapons like theirs was unthinkable. Better to ride the tigers back than to jab it with a stick, he thought resignedly.
“Very well” he nodded. “But first you had better show me more of the capabilities of this ship. I need to see if it can indeed destroy our enemies”
“Thankyou sir” Halabi almost fainted with relief, she didn’t realise till now how much was hanging on winning over Jarvis. “What we can do now is show you some more vids.” She indicated the holo viewer. “Then give you a guided tour of the ship. After that we’ll discuss our proposals with you, we hope you will be in a better position to understand our plight and what we offer”  
Jarvis smiled his approval of this. “I was known as a quick study as a midshipman but that was many years ago; please go easy on this old man. I feel too much of this knowledge will give me a headache” he grumbled but Halabi could see the anticipation in his eyes. “Very well Admiral, lets start here” and with that started the promo vid they had on the Trident’s class of ship.
Jarvis, McTeale and Halabi were ushered into a private room where King George III and King Louis XVII of France were seated. Halabi had left the XO in command and brought Howard along. On hearing that king Louis XVII of France was in power, Halabi had found out that the revolution had not happened! The crewman who was tasked with researching this found out that the chief financial officer of the king’s father named Anne Robert Jacques Turgot had successfully instituted a series of radical reforms to the country’s financial situation that saved it from revolution. This had failed in their time. The young King had only just ascended the throne when his father was killed in France during the fighting. So she felt a little easier with meddling with the future. This was essentially false she knew as it didn’t really matter what universe she was in, she would still change it, however it made her feel better that it wasn’t theirs and that this worlds future would already be different. She knew she would get a headache if she pursued this line of thought so she dropped it and took in her surroundings. On the whole, she realized, the palace hadn’t changed much in 200 years except for cleaner carpets and electric lights.  
The carpets in the palace were in fact first vacuumed by its British inventor H. Cecil Booth. After cleaning the filthy carpets at Westminster Abbey for the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII, the king was that impressed that he later had him clean Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle as well.   
Two other men also entered from another door. They were dressed in the height of fashion for their day in which Howard privately thought he wouldn’t be seen dead in. One looked in his sixties while the other looked decidedly ill.
Admiral Jarvis did the introductions, firstly their Majesties then the sickly gentleman who turned out to be the Prime Minister, William Pitt. The other gent was Paul Keates, the current minister for war.
King Charles said “It is Our pleasure to finally meet you. You should hear some of the rumours going around the Palace about you. One chamberlain has it on firm authority that the Moon people have landed on a great sky ship”! Everybody laughed of course and everybody thought it wasn’t too far from the truth. After some more pleasantries, the king brought the meeting into focus. “So tell Us captain Halabi about this proposal you wish Us to endorse”. Karen strengthened her resolve and said a mental OK, here goes.
    “Your Majesties, gentleman. Through a series of unfortunate events, my crew and I have found ourselves in your time.” They had decided to pass on the universe issue as it would be meaningless to them and only make it more complicated. “The year we come from is 2022, over 200 years in your future.” She had there complete attention now she saw. “As you can imagine and see, many things have changed over that time both in social advancements and technology. We have determined that the event that caused us to be moved here cannot be reproduced, so unfortunately you are stuck with us.” This caused different reactions amongst her audience. The king of France showed sympathy, perhaps relating to his own circumstances, while the minister for war only seemed to get angry? Curious, she thought. “So Being a British ship with a British crew” she would keep her American crew member under her hat for the moment. “We feel it is our duty to help our country in its time of need.”
    “That goes without question surely” interjected Pitt “So what is the problem specifically, besides working out your chain of command?” Here goes thought Karen; this was the shakiest part of their plan as far as they could see.
    “You see Sirs, we have sworn our service to King William V, so we must I suspect, now again, swear our Loyalty to the crown but before we do this, we must seek certain concessions”.  
    “You seek to trade for your loyalty with the king!” gasped Keates. “Preposterous!” he spluttered. Uh oh thought Karen this guy had seen straight to the heart of the matter that being British, they had no choice but to swear loyalty. This could rapidly go downhill from here. Before she could mount a defence, she was saved by the king of France.
    “I see no problem with this, these people are far from home and feel completely lost am I not right captain” Karen merely nodded, impressed with the kings perception. He continued “And like any commander who finds themselves in unfamiliar or hostile territory, you are only trying to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your crew, yes?” Not to be outdone by his fellow king and a little put out that Louis seemed to taking control, King George said “Yes I too can understand this and some of your anxieties captain, pray continue”
    “Thankyou your Majesties. We have the ability to destroy totally the Islamist fleet that is now building at Brest. This is not an idle boast Sirs, it is a certainty”. The reaction was a mix of impressed awe and scepticism. “And how do you propose to do this miraculous thing Captain” sneered Keates. Karen was a little surprised with his venom. What was going on? There was obviously some politics in play here.   
“What I observed on board the Trident this afternoon leaves me in no doubt that captain Halabi can certainly carry out her boast minister” Jarvis observed. Karen was sure she would have Jarvis support, his enthusiasm showed no bounds after he had seen some of the Tridents capabilities, no one had ever accused John Jarvis of stupidity.  
Halabi continued. “But to do this Sirs, the Trident must remain under the command of her current officers; she is no ordinary warship and needs to be operated in ways only years of training can accomplish. So here are our proposals. The Trident remains under the control of my officers and me with the crew structure intact. We operate under our current standing orders which are similar to your articles of war but are much more liberal. We operate as an independent command and we destroy as much of the Caliphate’s fleet as possible. To do this we will require a secure docking facility somewhere, hopefully at Portsmouth or somewhere else close by.” As she paused for a moment she took stock of the expressions before her. Nobody seemed shocked or outraged with the exception of Mr Keates. She continued. “We are also willing to set up a special school or university to train bright young men and women in our technologies. For this we would ask the crown to set up a special zone of land, where my crew and I can feel comfortable living under laws that we are accustomed to.” It had taken them quite some time to work out the wording for this and she still felt that it wasn’t quite right. She had been going to say bright young British men and women but had quickly amended that due to the king of France’s presence. “For this we will swear our allegiance to Your Majesty.”
Halabi again observed her audience, Jarvis, she was convinced was for it, the minister Keates was dead against it, the Prime Minister seemed impartial but that might just have been his game face, The King of France looked enthusiastic while the King of England seemed thoughtful.
What started now was the debate that would decide the Tridents fate crew and all. Halabi thought that they had more than a good chance but Minister Keates would be the hurdle. She proved to be right.   
     “Come now caption Halabi, surely you are just protecting you position? “ he turned to the others “Surely it would be just a matter swapping out the crew, keeping some of the more British officers to lend a hand. How hard could it be? And why change the articles of war? They seem to work very well for us” he crossed his arms and gave Halabi a frosty glare. Halabi stifled a scornful laugh, she had to keep her temper and remind herself that racism was an accepted thing in this age.
    “That would not work Minister, you have no comprehension on just how much more advanced the trident is to your normal warships, as to your articles of war, they may well work for you but we have had 200 years to develop a much better training system where harsh punishments are not necessary. Beside the whole crew are volunteers”. Before Keates could retort, the Prime Minister interjected. “Admiral Jarvis, you have been aboard the Trident.  Does what captain Halabi say about manning the ship hold true?”  
    “Oh absolutely sir, there is no way that any of the brightest of my officers could even begin to understand how to work the ship. Remember she doesn’t use sails!” Jarvis turned to the Kings. “Your majesties, If we are to use the stupendous power of this ship we should accept this offer. We have nothing to lose by it”  
All are caught up with the novel experience of dealing with matters of state with a woman. Keates, who is a devout woman hater and homosexual, inwardly seethes with anger and hostility. He struggled with controlling this, suspecting that the PM deliberately held back the knowledge that the captain was a woman to unsettle him.  
And so the debate continued. The King of France was extremely enthusiastic and offered total acceptance of Halabi’s proposal and added that France would look after them if Britain would not!
The king of England, goaded a little by this, states that there is no Kingdom of France at the moment, but he also agrees with the plan anyway, partly to mollify the King of France, but also because he sees England’s immediate salvation lies with these strange people from the future.  
It soon appears that the proposal would be accepted. Keates is mortified! “A woman cannot be allowed to run around out there doing as she sees fit sire! There needs to be proper controls such as a representative of this government on board to keep an eye on things.” He rages.
    “Perhaps you’re volunteering for the role Minister? I never thought of you as the military type.” The prime minister asked sardonically. “No! No! That’s not what I meant at all” Keates said hurriedly backing down. “I mean we should appoint a proper representative of this government to look after our interests” Keates hadn’t realised it yet but he had shown all and sundry his true colours.
    “Are you suggesting…” Howard started angrily but was smoothly cut off by Jarvis.
    “Oh come now minister, I don’t think there is any need for such drastic measures, however may I suggest a compromise? If captain Halabi would permit, would you have any trouble working under Vice Admiral Nelson? Halabi nearly snorted at this pun realising that Jarvis has no idea what he had just said but she did manage to say “to what end my Lord?” with a straight face.
“I will vouch for Nelsons flexibility and that his genius would instantly see the best uses for the wonder weapons that you have to offer.” Before Halabi can say anything Keates interjected again.
“Yes these so called wonder weapons, has anyone seen them in action? Sire, can we really trust these people with them!” Keates was really getting worked up! And for the life of her Halabi could not work out why, it all seemed a little over the top. Was the Prime Minister using Keates as some kind of foil or sounding board? She wasn’t sure, Keates looked a little too agitated to be acting.
“I must say I’m a little surprised with your opposition to the new comers Minister, even after Admiral Jarvis has vouched for them. They are after all British seamen no matter what time they are from” stated the King.  
Keates realised then that he may have let his feelings take him too far which was normally impossible, damned woman! He realised it was best time to back down and try and recover some ground. “I’m sorry if I have given that appearance your majesty, I was only acting the devils advocate.” The King seemed to accept this explanation however the King of France and Jarvis looked unconvinced.
    “Tell us more about the weapons on the Trident captain” stated the king wishing to get on with it. Halabi gave a general account of the weapons systems trying to keep it simple. She and Howard fielded some questions from everyone except a now recalcitrant Keates. At the end of it Halabi decided it was time to try for a resolution, she really didn’t want to work under any command authority but realised that that was being overly optimistic, however working for the legendary Nelson might be alright. She looked at the king and said “Your Majesty all I can give you regarding our loyalty is my word as a British Naval officer and British subject. We agree to Admiral Jarvis’ idea to work with Admiral Nelson. So do you agree to our proposals?” she had almost said ‘terms’ but she realised she was still on shaky ground and didn’t want it sounding like an ultimatum. Thank god no body had asked her what they would do if the king refused.
The King looked at the prime minister to gauge his approval which was met with a nod. He then stated formally that he was granting the Trident a commission as a king’s ship and that included Captain Halabi and all her officers. He also stated that the trident due to its special circumstances was to operate under her current set of laws. He then placed the Trident under Admiral Jarvis command with the edict to use her in the best way possible to protect England from her enemies.  
All looked fairly pleased except Keates who looked disgusted. Halabi herself wasn’t totally happy and brought up the other half of the proposal, regarding the university and somewhere for her crew to live under their terms. The prime minister stalled her on this saying they must wait and see how things went first, and then they could discuss that. Halabi could smell a scam coming on, but decided to let it pass for now, they still had several cards up their sleeve including release of technology and America.  
On leaving the palace, Keates returned to his home, he can’t help thinking that he may have shown his hand and will now have to be more careful then ever before. Why did that damned ship and it weird crew have to show up now? With an effort he controlled his loathing of the female captain. Females! Pah! There was no avoiding it, he would have to get word out now, tonight and that was another danger in its self.  
His coach arrived back at his palatial residence and he ignored the pomp of greeting by his butler and hurried inside to change. Keates and his coachman, Jenkins who doubles as his bodyguard, left by way of a little used door at the back that leads onto the nightsoil lane.  They swiftly weaved their way through the dangerous back streets of London. Keates hated having to do this and found the whole experience quite terrifying.  A shadow moved ahead to their right. “Clear orf you” mutters Jenkins, waving a stoat cudgel, even though he spoke softly it sounded like a shout in the chill foggy air. The shadow disappeared back into the gloom. While he walked he mulled over the plan that was forming in his head and continued to quietly rage over the fate that would befall Britain if this load of, what to call them? “Futurists”? Put their liberalist and Jacobin ideas into the heads of the mob.
They at last entered another decrepit lane filled with rubbish and filth and found the dark outline of a solid door. He taped on it with the right code, he thought the whole skulking thing a waste of time anyway, who would have been able to follow them on a night like this. The door cracked open just wide enough for the person behind to inspect them then opened completely. As they both entered the door they did not notice a shadow move slightly across the street.
Keates and Jenkins were now standing in a small garden complete with a tinkling fountain. The man who had let then in was Arabic in dress and appearance and gestured that they should follow him. They were led into the house through a back door. At this point Jenkins, who had done this before, moved off into the servant’s area, while Keates followed his guide into the main part of the house.
The house belonged to a wealthy Merchant call Abu Zarqawi. He had lived in London now for decades and was known as a quite, peace loving man who hated the Caliph and was an ardent supporter of King George. He had a network of influential and wealthy friends that had helped keep him in the country and informed. He was also the principle agent for the caliph in Britain.  
“Good evening Paul” he said in a surprised tone, his accent was surprisingly cultured and smooth. “And what brings you here on such an inclement night?” the question, as always had more than one meaning.  
Taking the seat offered to him by Zarqawi’s manservant, he waited until the later had left the room.   
Keates quickly explained what has happened including the arrival of the ship and the visit to the Palace to a surprised Zarqawi. He had seen this marvellous ship himself and now quickly saw its danger.  
“You were right to bring me this information” he smiled at Keates. Inwardly Keates gasped a sigh of relief knowing from experience that while on the outside Zarqawi seemed cultured and urbane, underneath he was intolerant of incompetency and swift with punishment, he was not a man to be trifled with. “It is obvious that this ship will upset our plans” he understated ironically. “But what to do, do you think we can sabotage it before it leaves?” he looked at Keates keenly with eyes that speared him to the core. “N-no, I don’t think so, nobody is being allowed aboard the ship and the Navy is maintaining a strict quarantine around it. We wouldn’t get near it, besides what could we do? The ship was made of metal and they appeared to have all manner of mechanical devices protecting it” He wasn’t sure about the last part of his statement of course but he did not want to have anything to do with such a dangerous action. Zarqawi sat in thought for a moment never taking those hawklike eyes of Keates.
“Very well, Thankyou Paul, you have done very well. Return home now and keep quite, do not draw any more attention to yourself. I will contact you when I need to. Do not return here under any circumstances” he again starred those piercing eyes at Keates giving no doubt to the intensity of the command. Keates shuddered and felt the familiar stabbing fear. He was going to tell Zarqawi his half baked plan but terror silenced him. Zarqawi sensed that and tried to calm him “I don’t believe you are in any danger, but it is good to be cautious yes?” Indeed did he believe this himself? Keates was a contemptible old sodomite but due to his high station, was still very useful. Yes he decided he would let him live a bit longer. Another idea occurred to him. As Keates stood to leave, he stopped him. “Oh and Paul, do you happen to know where these other people are now?” he asked with a smile.
    “Yes, they returned with Jarvis to the Admiralty so that the orders for Nelson could be drawn up. Why?”
    “Oh no reason really, I was just curious that’s all” he lied smoothly.
After seeing Keates out he returned to his study to contemplate his next move. He realised that the only course of action available to him was to warn the Caliph with all possible speed although he was sure it would not be believed, it would protect him later when this devil ship attacked. Besides, he thought, they may well be able to warn the fleet in time and move it.  He did not realise the folly of his thinking as it would take at least a week maybe two to get a message to the fleet and he simply did not comprehend the speed or the capabilities the Trident was capable of. He would also try his other idea. He stood and entered the servants’ part of the house. He found one of his men sharpening a knife in the kitchen for the cook. “Ishmael, come, I have job for you”.
Keates was not quite correct with his information; the group had not returned straight to the Admiralty but had first accompanied the Prime Minister back to Westminster.  It was now mid evening and he had invited them back for refreshments and some more discussions on the future. Karen was feeling a bit apprehensive about this as she wasn’t yet prepared with how much detail they would provide as yet. She decided that they would keep it general and stay well clear of any personal histories. She particularly wanted to raise again with the PM her ideas about a special “zone” they could set up, where they could live according to their social customs and set up some form of school to carefully bottle feed technological advances to England.


While the PM fenced with Halabi over these issues, a liveried clerk came in and whispered to the PM. He excused himself and left with the clerk. Howard was trying to explain how the modern promotion system worked to Jarvis when the PM returned.
    “Excuse me please Lady and gentlemen, but I had just had some disturbing news. For some time now, I have been suspicious of the loyalties of Paul Keates for reasons that I will not go into now“. Indeed, in hindsight he realised that he should have probably acted sooner.  “Paul was very insistent that he accompany me to the Palace and as the war minister, there was no real reason I could legitimately give to prevent him. I was not prepared however, for the hostile reception he gave you in the Kings presence, the fact that you were a woman had not been revealed to him and I believe it shocked him terribly”. He smiled at Karen. “You see Paul does not like women much, he doesn’t advertise it, but it is quite obvious to the more observant.” Karen perceived that negating to tell the minister of her sex was deliberate and that her earlier suspicion of politics in play seemed now correct.  
    “I had taken the quite serious step of having him followed of late” Very quietly of course but if Fox, the leader of the opposition and a foe of Pitts for years, ever found out there would be hell to pay. “It would now appear, unfortunately that besides being a coward and a sodomite, he has added traitor to his list.” He sat down at that point looking more Ill than ever. “My man tracked him to the house of an Arab merchant who has a lot of strong ties in the right places and who has on numerous times voiced his objection and disapproval of the Caliph. However certain investigations in the past have led us to believe that he may well be the Caliph’s spy in London. That Keates should go there secretly through the backstreets directly after the meeting leads me to some very disturbing deductions” he looked up at Halabi. “I believe time may now be of the essence captain. Admiral, if you would be so kind, perhaps it is time you took the captain and her lieutenant back to her ship and give captain Halabi her sailing orders as soon as possible.”
    “I had intended to go directly to the Admiralty after this meeting” he replied. That way I can write up instructions for Nelson and the Captain as well and iron out a few details. That way she can then sail as soon as convenient” which of course was a polite way of saying right the hell now.
    “That would be immediately Admiral as remember we do not need the wind or tide” she replied
    “Quite so” he remembered.
    “Well then everyone, I think we should get moving” said Jarvis rising from his chair. “What will you do about Keates” he asked the PM. “I’m not sure at this point; we may be able to turn this to our advantage” the pm said thoughtfully. Lovely how politics never changes, at least that’s constant thought Halabi.  
    Their coach clattered along the cobble stoned roads, the sounds echoing off the building in the foggy night. Howard check his watch, it was only 9.30. God he was so tired, it had been such an eventful day, let alone days since the event. He looked over at the captain who was chatting with the Admiral; he didn’t know how she could do it. Prozac probably he grinned to himself. He had not tried to think to hard about the ramifications of their new circumstances, but he knew he had to at some time. He counted himself lucky that he was not married otherwise he knew he would be a wreck like some of the others on board. Fortunately the doctor was monitoring them very closely and even had some on suicide watch. He looked out of the window, it was strange really, sections of London were pretty much the same, the traffic was still heavy with hansom cabs and horses. In fact one of the biggest differences he noticed was the smell. London stank, mostly of horses but there was the underlying taint of unwashed bodies, sewerage and rubbish. He tried to remember when the sewage system was built by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, in 1858 he thought; it was very flash for its time. Oh well, maybe they could help push that along. He saw that they were now approaching the Admiralty and as he was nearest the door, prepared to disembark. He got out and held open the door, beating the footman to it and began to Help Halabi down when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye near a dark wall. In a glance he saw a figure take the unmistakeable pose of someone holding a pistol. Without thinking, he through himself in front of Halabi as the musket went off with a load bang. He felt a sharp tearing pain in his chest and fell to the ground suddenly very weak. He looked up at the captain who had knelt over him, inspecting his wound. Confusion and commotion dominated the scene; he could here the Admiral bellowing orders and the sounds of running feet. “Get to cover Ma’am” he croaked. Halabi smiled at him but her eyes showed her deep concern. “Its fine now, they’re chasing him. When did you take up playing at the secret service?” she taunted him “I’m not the president you know”  
    “No, now you are much more important than him” he replied. He could see that it hit home.  
    “It looks like you took a musket ball in the chest. The bleedings not too bad, but we have to get you back to the doc as soon as possible, lie as still as you can”  after stuffing a handkerchief into his shirt and getting him to hold it in place, she stood and sort out Admiral Jarvis who was still giving out orders.  “Admiral, I have to get him back to the ship as soon as possible” Jarvis looked down at reclining figure “He took a ball to his chest. Can your doctors fix that?” he asked.  
    “Yes they can, if he doesn’t bleed to death” Jarvis shook his head “Amazing. Under normal circumstances that is a mortal wound.” He gathered his thoughts. “Yes, quickly, load him back into the coach; we will get him to the docks quickly that way. Can you contact your ship with your…thing?” he waved at the small radio she had shown him earlier. It was in the briefing bag that she carried.
    She nodded that she could and called the Trident and told McTeale what had happened while Jarvis’ men gently loaded Howard back onto the coach while others cleared a way through the crowd that had materialised.
    When they arrived at the dock, she found Doyle waiting with the Zodiac and two crewmen in full armour and loaded for bear. After Loading Howard, Doyle insisted that the captain take the armed crew as escort. “No, I think things will be alright now” she looked to Jarvis for support but he surprised her with his answer.  
    “No captain, your commander is right; one of these formidable looking marines would be a good show of strength. Bring him along” he ordered. “Come, we must return to the Admiralty and work out a plan”
    When they arrived back seaman Hanks disembarked first and used his night vision glasses to check the dark corners of the street. Jarvis had been fascinated with the goggles and Hanks had to almost wrestle them back off him when they arrived. The Admiral had been right, Hanks in his adaptive armour, helmet and goggles looked positively alien and everyone backed away with alarm and respect.
    Back in his office, Jarvis had some tea and refreshments brought in and made sure that Halabi was comfortable. She quickly checked with Simms on the radio to find that Howard’s condition was serious but stable. She was about to operate on him to remove the ball. She asked the doctor to keep her apprised of his condition. That done they quickly got down to business.  
    “We have to find a way to alert Nelson of your coming and not alarm the fleet” Jarvis said lowering his heavy frame into his chair. I had an idea to use a fast little brig call the Swiftsure that is currently in the harbour that has been carrying dispatches to the fleet. But even she will take several days to catch up with them and that might let the Caliph escape your clutches” Halabi wasn’t sure she liked the way he said ‘your’. She thought about the problem.
    “I might have an answer to that Sir” she said and went on to explain her scheme. Jarvis looked impressed.  
    “If you think you can do that then yes that’s an excellent solution!” he exclaimed. “Now all I have to do is make this mess makes sense on paper.” He looked up at Halabi “Especially to Nelson” He called for his Aide de comp and when that gentleman came into room said “Ah! Lt Kelly, will you please go and fetch Commander Graham for me from the Swiftsure with all possible haste please”  
Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson stood on the quarter deck of the Victory, gazing in towards the leeward column of his fleet. He could see Collingwood’s Royal Sovereign in the van leading her 16 ships of the line in perfect precision that only the British Navy could maintain. Behind him 11 more battleships followed the Victory. He felt a huge sense of pride and satisfaction in his command. It was the largest fleet England could muster and were in superb shape thanks to all the years of training and fighting it had faced. Whether or not it would be victorious against Suleiman’s invasion fleet of 40 odd ships would remain to be seen. Still, he remained quietly confident that the state of his fleet and the new tactics he had worked out would see them prevail.
The routine noise of the flagship was shattered by a loud cry of “Sail Ho” from the main mast lookout.
All the telescopes currently on the quarter deck were quickly pointed in the indicated direction.
“Looks like the Swiftsure Sir!” yelled Mr Barkley, the flag lieutenant.
“Nonsense! She wouldn’t have been able to make London and back in that time Barkley!” exclaimed Captain Hardy.  
    “I believe it is her sir” insisted the lieutenant.
“Well, if it is the Swiftsure then she must have run into a problem, she couldn’t have made it to England and back already”. Admitted Hardy, if grudgingly.  
“Time will tell I’m sure” Nelson commented, just then the Signals Midshipman yelled “Signal from the ship, sir, Have on board urgent dispatches. It is the Swiftsure”.  
    “Very well, please signal the Swiftsure welcome and to take station two cables off our starboard side” Nelson commanded.” Aye aye Sir!” replied the signalman.  
    “Then she must have reached London” stated Barkley. This set off quite a debate amongst the officers present on the quarter deck on how this could indeed be possible.  
    The little Brig gained swiftly on the fleet, close-hauling under the lee of the large flagship. The young commander must be quite nervous, having to manoeuvre his ship under the eyes of so many senior captains thought Nelson. He had only set Commander Graham off to England 4 days ago, so how could he have made the journey so quickly was a curious concern for him. “Have Commander Graham report to me at his leisure please Hardy” As the brig settled neatly into her station and started firing the 11 gun salute required for the Admiral.
“Aye sir”. Hardy grinned to himself, this was tantamount to a ‘this instant’ coming from an Admiral.
    Nelson walked over to observe the Brig while his orders were being carried out. What can possibly be wrong now worried Nelson, any messages from the Admiralty now could only mean trouble, the tactics for the fleet having been hammered out weeks ago. He was determined to use his theory on cutting the enemies line of battle regardless of whether some nervous Nellies back at Whitehall might be having second thoughts.  
    He watched the Brigs’ cutter put off and pull swiftly towards the flagship, bobbing up and down in the light swell. As the cutter closed in, he noticed an officer in the boat wearing an unusual looking uniform. “What the devil…!” somebody exclaimed, “Who’s that with the Commander?”  
“I’m sure we about to find out Mr Hornblower”, Nelson admonished the brightest of the 26 Midshipman on the ship. “Capt’n Hardy! Don’t these young gentlemen have anything fitting to do except stand about like a gaggle of geese!” he inquired. The officer scattered in all directions under the stern eye that the captain put on them. “Have the Commander and his guest report to me in my cabin” he stated, and turned and strode off the deck. He couldn’t help but feel a little guilty at having moved the excited young officers along but he couldn’t afford to show any laxity in discipline. To ease his conscience about publicly rebuking Hardy, he invited the captain to join him in his cabin knowing that he must be almost beside himself with curiosity as he himself was.
The proper compliments were paid to the arriving commander, two side-boys in this case with their white gloves and the bosuns mate of the watch with his whistle to pipe the officer aboard.
But all eyes were fixed on the man in the curious Uniform who followed the commander through the side port. His uniform was all white, so white in fact that it was hard to look at in the bright sunshine without squinting. He wore long plain trousers and a short sleeve shirt open at the neck. On his head was a curiously shaped peak cap and had 3 gold bars on either epaulette.  
For Commander McTeale it was a totally surreal experience, he had to stop himself from looking around for the cameras as he had to convince himself that he wasn’t on some movie set.  He followed Commander Graham onto the deck of the famous warship. It was almost exactly as he remembered it from his visits to it at Portsmouth as a child, except for the crew of course.
A midshipman came up and invited them to follow him to see the Admiral; at least he thought he was a middy, having just studied the fleetnet’s subject matter on the period.  From the notes he’d took earlier he tried to identify the various personalities that would be here on deck. There was Captain Hardy of course, but he couldn’t see him. Must be below with Nelson, he thought. There were over 820 men on the Victory with some 107 Lieutenants, Midshipmen and SNCO’s, to run her. The XO of the ship, under Captain Hardy was always the 1st Lieutenant, the position of the lieutenants being based on seniority. In this case it was Lt John Quilliam. There was also a Flag Lieutenant aboard who acted like the admirals aid de comp.  
He tried to take in everything around him as he was ushered below, the sailors holy stoning the deck, the quartermasters mates on the huge wheel, but there was just to much to see all at once on this floating museum piece.  
Suddenly they were there in the huge rear cabin and facing Nelson. It was true what they said, the man had a definite presence, although neither large nor tall, he seemed to dominate the room. He was dressed magnificently, which struck McTeale as rather odd until he remembered that Nelson was rather vain when it came to his dress. With him were obviously Captain Hardy and the flag lieutenant.  
Commander Graham came to attention and saluted the admiral. “Orders from the Admiralty Sir” and handed over a thick canvas package. Nelson took the passage and said. “Thankyou commander” and looking directly at McTeale, “And who do I have the honour of addressing?”  
“Oh, sorry sir this is Commander McTeale from HMS Trident said Graham”
“Commander?” exclaimed Hardy. “In what service?”
Before McTeale could answer Graham blurted out what he had been told to say by Admiral Jarvis, “ Sir, I was instructed by Admiral Jarvis to request you read the orders and letter first before you ask me or commander McTeale any questions sir!” Graham was obviously very nervous with having to speak to an admiral in this manner, especially Nelson, in fact he could be charged as insubordinate if the senior officer had a mind to.  For Nelson, he was almost bowed over with astonishment with the young Commanders outburst. This was so out of character for Graham so his curiosity increased about the nature of the orders he had in his hand.
    “Commander Graham….!” Started Hardy, clearly outraged with the comments, was about to reprimand the young commander when Nelson stopped him.  
“Now now, Captain, let us see what the orders say before we act in any haste judgment.” With that, he turned to his desk for his letter opener and quickly opened the despatch. Inside he first removed the thick layer of lead that was there to weigh the orders down should they have to be thrown overboard to prevent capture. There were two documents, the orders from the Admiralty and a personal letter from Admiral Jarvis.  He picked up the orders first:
You are requested and required to take HMS Trident under your command. Further, you are to use this ship to its full capability to defeat the Caliphs forces.
The Trident is to remain under the command of captain Halabi, and the current Articles of War that govern it.  
Nelson was astonished! The Articles of War on board a Royal Navy ship matched the gravity of holy writ. It served as the law practiced upon His Majesty’s Ships.  To operate under a different set of Articles of War was unheard of and unthinkable.  To add to this he had never heard of a ship called the Trident or of a captain Halabi for that matter. What’s more, the orders were dated yesterday!  
He turned to the letter from Admiral Jarvis, hoping this would shed some answers.
My dear Nelson,
    By now you would have read the most cryptic of orders I have ever had the misfortune of writing. I shall now try and fill you in on all of the fantastic events that have transpired over the last few days.  
Two days ago, the most unusual of vessels sailed into the Thames and demanded to see myself. It turns out that this Ship, called the ‘Trident’ is a British navel vessel from the future! Yes I know this sounds totally mad and that I have taken leave of my senses but as you will soon see yourself, it is quite factual.
    The ship is quite amazing with weapons completely unheard of and so devastating that it is a certainty that we will take total mastery of the seas with her! It is your responsibility Admiral to use her to her full potential.  
    However, there will be problems. It seems that 200 years from now, our civilisation has changed quite dramatically and the way they do things will be both disturbing and alarming for most of your officers and men, as the crew is made up of both men AND women of many different nationalities! The Captain is a woman of Indian descent! Quite astounding!  
Due to the complex nature of this ship and the highly specialised knowledge required to control her, it has been decided by his Majesty, after some lengthy and almost violent debate I might add, to confirm Captain Halabi’s commission and to issue a special writ that the ‘Trident’ remain operating under her present 21 century orders which are quite different and quite more liberal than the Articles of War. It would also appear that the crew are all volunteers! I did manage however, to convince then to put her under your command.
So Admiral, it is up to you take command of this ship and maintain the discipline of your fleet as I am sure its presence and the way its operates could only be a source of discontentment to the men if you and your captains are not vigilant.  It may be best if you treat her as an independent command and limit her contact with the fleet as much as possible.
Due to the obvious alarm this ship would cause had she sailed, sailed is a poor word to describe how this ship moves as it does not use sails! Well as I was saying, had she sailed straight to you, I have ordered her to hang back and await your orders when you have recovered from the shocking contents of this letter. Commander McTeale is the ‘Executive Officer’ of the ‘Trident’. This is the equivalent of first Lieutenant I think, and he is with Commander Graham to answer the myriad of questions you are likely to have.
I have my doubts about this whole situation Horatio, this ship may appeared to be  heaven sent given our perilous situation but I can’t help but feel that it may turn into the very devil of a problem!
Your Servant,
Nelson read this amazing letter through twice, first quickly then quite slowly while the import of it soaked in. “My God!” he muttered. At first he couldn’t believe it. He turned to the Commanders. “Is this true?”  
    “Yes Sir!” both officers offered in unison.  
    “You’re really from the future” he said, looking at McTeale.
    “What!” exclaimed Hardy “What the devil is going on sir?” in reply, Nelson handed the orders and letter to his captain.
While Hardy read the orders, Nelson tried to come to grips with this startling development. He looked at Graham for some immediate answers. “How did you get here so fast commander, if these orders were written yesterday then you must have almost flown?”
    “We almost did sir” grinned the young commander. “You see the Trident towed us Sir, at nearly 30 knots sir!”  
“Thirty Knots!” exclaimed Nelson, angry at this seemingly exaggeration but then realising, given the circumstances, may well be true. McTeale stepped in at this point. “Yes Sir its true, Trident is a very powerful ship and was able to tow the Swiftsure quite easily at that speed”
    Nelsons head was reeling from all this. He needed some time to think. He looked over at Hardy, who had finished reading and looked stunned. He had almost absently handed the letter to Barkley he was now reading it just as intently. “What do you make of this situation Hardy” he asked.
 “It’s seems too bazaar to be true sir, this may be some kind of trick” he looked at McTeale with sudden suspicion. McTeale was ready for this however.
 “Sir, it would be very easy to show you this is no trick, I can summon the Trident to join the fleet now Sir if you wish it”
    “And how do you propose to do that?” snorted Hardy. “Call then out of thin air?”  
    “Well, yes sir in a manner of speaking, I can, with this” McTeale reached into his bag and removed a small black box. “This is called a Radio; it allows me to communicate with my Captain over long distances. Do you want me to summon her sir” he asked Nelson. Nelson could only nod in reply. They had decided to use one the VHF radios instead of a pad as to not shock them too much too quickly.
    “Trident, Trident, this Commander McTeale, over” he said into the little box.  
     “Commander McTeale, this Trident, go ahead over” replied the radio. The effect of this on the group was predictable with everyone jumping up and back with total surprise, only Graham was unmoved, having seen this phenomenon before. “Hells teeth!” exclaimed Hardy in Shock.
    “Trident, Admiral Nelson has authorised you to join the fleet. Where would you like he to go sir” he said to Nelson. He felt like saying anywhere but here but his curiosity was coming back and a sense of excitement at seeing a British Naval ship from the future! “Have her take station off the port side of the Victory. McTeale relayed this and then offered the radio to Nelson who treated it like a live snake. The others gathered round to look at this talking miracle while McTeale described how it worked as simply as he could. “Basically sir, you push this button on the side and talk in here and you listen here”. “Astounding” exclaimed Nelson.
    “I must warn you sir, this is just a small marvel compared to the ones you are about to see. It takes some getting use to.” Explained Graham from experience.
 “On that point Sir” interjected McTeale, “it may be prudent to offer some form of warning to the fleet about the arrival of the Trident. Someone might perceive her as a threat” This got Nelson thinking, the officer from the future was quite right, some hot-headed captain could easily open fire on the ship if he didn’t take some action. “How long will it take the Trident to get here Commander?” he asked. McTeale had also been waiting for this one. “Well sir, she is about 20 leagues away, so she will be coming in fast so I’d say about 10 minutes.”  
“Ten minutes!” exclaimed Hardy. He was having trouble staying up with all these startling revelations and was starting to get angry. Nelson could see his captain’s ire rising and decided that it was time to settle things down. “Quite true, quite true, commander and we wouldn’t want that would we. Captain Hardy, would you be so kind as to relay the following message to the fleet: The ship approaching is British. Emphasise British please and see that you get a response from each ship.” He could well imagine the response of most of his captains when this future ship turned up. He turned to McTeale “10 minutes commander?  And what speed is you ship capable of?” McTeale thought about that “The captain will want to show you some of the capabilities of the Trident, so I’d say she will be doing flank speed, which is about 130 knots”.  
Nelson was getting use to this by now and didn’t show much surprise, a ship doing 130 knots was way beyond imagining anyway. “Well come then gentlemen, we best make for the deck now if we wish to see this wonder ship arrive”. With that he picked up his hat and left the room, leaving the others to follow.  
Barkley walked up with McTeale and asked “The letter from Admiral Jarvis says you are the ships first Lieutenant but you have the rank of commander how is this so?”  As McTeale launched into an explanation of modern Rank in the British Navy, Nelson tried to get his thoughts and emotions in order. He was excited about the potential of this ship and how he could use it against the Moors but he was also apprehensive about dealing with a women captain and how the rest of the fleet would react to this.  He would have to be careful with who he let have contact with these people as he was sure that more than some of his officers would react with anger and resentment at not only the makeup of the crew but in the possibility that they all become redundant. In fact how did he feel about that? He admitted to himself that he was feeling a bit angry at how this ship would take all the glory. But then again he was to be her commander and chief so all would not be lost and defeating the enemy while saving the lives of his seaman would bring favourable comment and distinction.  
Back on deck he noticed that the officers not immediately employed had once again gathered in small groups on the quarter deck but this time he let them be. He could hear the buzz of comment and speculation regarding the strange signal that Captain Hardy had just sent to the fleet.  
“Deck ahoy” shouted the lookout in the mizzen top mast. “Something is approaching us from the Nor Nor West” he shouted in a puzzled voice. “Not sure what it is sir” As before, all eyes and available telescopes turned as one in that direction. Nelson thought for a moment to warn his officers about what was coming but then thought better of it. Why not let them suffer for a bit, he grinned to himself, do them good. Using his telescope with a practiced eye he picked out the shape that was approaching rapidly. All he could really see were three giant fantails of spray leaping up from behind the vessel. The oaths and exclamations of surprise where loud and abundant behind him as the others tried to make sense of what they saw. Nelson could make out the lines of the ship now; she had not one but three hulls! She was a grey colour that blended with the sea so well that even now she was hard to make out. He could see how this would be good to sneak up on enemies, what was that Frenchy word? Camouflage that’s it, he thought. Dear God! He exclaimed to himself, she was travelling so fast! Indeed she was now only about two leagues off the starboard side of the fleet and approaching fast.  
The Trident flew down the right side of the fleet seeming to skip along on the water making a deep growling sound and spraying water up spectacularly behind her hulls. When she was in front of the Victory, she turned abruptly around her, healing over with the effort and causing the quartermaster at the helm to curse. Only the quick intervention of the Officer of the watch stopped him taking evasive action. The Trident proceeded back up on the Port side directly against the wind. Nelson noticed that it had become deathly quiet now on the deck with everyone’s attention riveted to the flying vessel. With a small shock Nelson realised that everyone was watching the ship including the rest of the fleet as he could see several of the hips slowly falling out of the line.  “Captain Hardy!” He bellowed, “Attend to your ship” to the signals midshipman he yelled “General signal to the fleet to maintain station at once. Step lively now!” The midshipman tore away to the halliards. He was in a fury now that the hallowed discipline of the British fleet had been momentary broken. By god he would tear a strip off the captain of the new vessel when he saw him … her! Gods above! What a nightmare he raved.  
Nelsons Sudden and justifiable anger snapped the crew out of their trance and officers and seamen alike scurried about attending to jobs to avoid the Admirals wrath.  
Nelson stared out at the Trident as she now drew level with the Victory. He felt his anger start to dissipate as he watch with growing admiration of the huge ship and its handling as the Trident seemed to almost come to a dead stop and pivot on her axis. Suddenly she was in the station that Nelson had ordered. He was stunned with the size of her!  
“Commander McTeale, please request your captain to attend to me as quickly as she is able” Nelson ordered trying to come to grips with the unique idea of giving orders to a woman! He noticed several officers picked up on the female tense of the order; he could tell by the open mouths and shocked expressions. Hells teeth! He thought this was going to be an absolute nightmare on discipline if things weren’t taken into hand right now. As McTeale talked into his little box Nelson requested Captain Hardy to summon all hands.  
Once the hubbub of the watch below coming up on deck had dissipated and order had been established, Nelson addressed the ship.
“Men, what you have just seen is not a demon from hell or an evil apparition but a British warship with the Kings commission! I won’t go into details about her origin as I am sure the scuttle butt will fill that in for me” he got a laugh for that. “However I must emphasise to you now that she is a Kings ship and her crew will be shown every courtesy however bazaar they may appear. Any sign of disrespect to the officers of that ship will be treated the same as if you had disrespected your own officers and you know what that would mean” Nelson did not have to mention the cat, every man jack of them was well aware of the punishment. “Now that I have made that clear, I will have you know that the captain of the Trident is a woman” there was instant uproar from almost everyone. Nelson waited till the warrant officers had re-established order before continuing. “Remember what I have said my good fellows and there shall be no trouble. By the Kings command, the Trident will operate under a different set of articles, this is His command so that is the way it shall be. Captain Hardy, please make ready to welcome Captain Halabi aboard. Dismissed”  
There, it was done. Now he would have to watch closely to stop any dissention or mutiny before it got started. Nelson then had the lieutenants gather around him on the quarter deck after gaining Hardy’s permission to do so as technically the Victory was his ship, not Nelsons. “So now gentlemen, it will be up to you to make sure that no dissent or mutiny arise from this, have your warrant officers keep a close watch on the men, especially the trouble makers” he looked around at them. “I expect you to lead by example here no matter how trying you might find the circumstances, if you have trouble with your prejudices, remember that this is the Kings order.”  
“Sir!” said lieutenant Quilliam, “where did the ship come from?” Nelson considered his response, “As you have just witnessed this is no ordinary ship” that raised a few grins. Good. “So to tell you that she has somehow come 200 years from our future should not surprise you.” He could see from their faces that it in fact, did. “That is all the information I have at the moment, thankyou” Captain Hardy took over “You have your orders gentleman, please see to them”
Nelson and Hardy stood together on the starboard side and watched a small boat detach itself from the Trident. “I really don’t know how we are going to handle this sir.” said Hardy. “Many of the officers and men will have much difficulty in adjusting to this new circumstance. I know that I will” he admitted.  
“We can only take it one step at a time, my friend, this may be the greatest challenge of our lives” Nelson replied quietly. “God, look at her, Hardy, such a weapon! We must focus on the job at hand and that is to defeat the Caliphs navy. With this ship how can we fail?”
“But she doesn’t appear to be armed, where are the gun ports? God! I have so many questions!” Hardy said with some exasperation. Nelson smiled at his captain “As do I and hopefully the Lady in the boat there can answer them.” They both watched as the boat again with no visible signs of locomotion sped at a tremendous rate up to the flagship. “They seem an impatient lot” Nelson quipped, to receive a snort from Hardy.
This time four side-boys took their places along with the bosun’s mate, their faces alive with curiosity and excitement, ready to pipe aboard a woman captain! Imagine that!



  1. From SFMurphy on 07/01/06

    Pretty sharp writing, MickH. Pretty sharp indeed.

    Northtown, Missouri

    From deleted_member on 07/01/06

    Nice, I was expecting Jack Aubrey and Stephen Marturin to bust into the narrative somewhere.

    From Bangar on 07/01/06

    Well done Mick.

    From Lobes on 07/02/06

    I have only read the first third but probably won’t be near a computer for another week so I just wanted to say I’m really impressed.

    No offence Mick but the quality of this really exceeds what I expected.

    From savo on 07/02/06

    I have a train trip tomorrow so a bunch of these are going with me on my flexi pad PDA

    From Lobes on 07/02/06

    Ok Mick, now I’m pissed. I loved this story but I want to read the Calipate_Get_Smashed.

    Finish it!!

    Birmo give him some extra time! Then a Penalty shoot out if its needed.

    From J on 07/03/06

    Bravo! Nice job. You did a good job of matching Birmo’s style and continuing his characters.

    From spartacus on 07/03/06

    Great story, would make a great gaphic novel (actually as would the original work – Birmo have you ever considerd that?)

    although personaly I just found Lobe’s reference to “penalty shootots” pretty tastless…:-)

    From smurfo on 07/03/06

    Wow, it’s like you are channeling Birmo! Loved the battle scene at the start.

    From Mysterius on 07/03/06

    Argh, a cliffhanger! You’re killing me! 😛
    Very good writing; now please finish the story! 🙂

    From Shogun on 07/05/06

    This is great, now finish it! 😛

    From MickH on 07/06/06

    All: Thanks for the compliments!
    Skald: Good idea! I might stick them in if I write more
    Lobes: ROFL! Thanks for the back handed compliment! But I have pi
    ut quite a bit of work into it. By Murphs standards I have done about seven major revisions so I need 3 more! (Murph likes to do 10) I did two of Birmos “print it out and red pen it” revisions and while it was great, helping me find heaps of mistakes, It took like 4 hours!

    So you want me to continue?…..OK! since you asked nicely! (LOL)

    I think I’ll do it by chapter

    From MickH on 07/06/06

    J & Smurfo: This storyline was hard to do because I have to use Birmos characters! so I had to get inside his head so to speak. Seem I have managed to do that a little bit. thanks

    From Mysterius on 07/06/06

    Yay! You can’t imagine how happy that makes me! 🙂 I feel like doing cartwheels, except I’d just fall if I tried. 😛

    From MickH on 07/06/06

    WOW! Really! You liked it that much?
    Actually I just discussed this with Birmo and yes I will continue the story.

    From Vallon Davis on 07/07/06

    EXCELLENT!!! If Birmo gets the go ahead to do anthologies based on the Transition series this story should be one of those included in one of the volumes. Keep up the good work!!
    Vallon Davis

    From Mysterius on 07/07/06

    Yeah, it helped brighten my mood when I was feeling sort of low, so I’m glad to see it continue. 🙂

    From Dan W. on 07/11/06

    I’ve just had a re-read of this little tale, and I find it to be a most excellent spin-off. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I look forward to more. In fact, I’d dearly love to see a final edit put to it to clean up the spelling and grammatical gaffes, but that’s a project for a later time.

    Cheers, Dan

    From MickH on 07/11/06

    spelling and grammatical gaffes!!
    You mean there’s more?! I did two hand edits and spent hours cleaning that up. Just goes to show you how tenatious these bugs can be.
    Thanks Dan I look for more of them.

    From Dan W. on 07/11/06

    Well, Mick, the big typo I noticed was “bazaar” instead of “bizarre”. I’m guessing that based on the context, you meant strange or weird rather than a Middle Eastern market place. As for the grammar, you jumped around the tenses a bit, switching between past and present tenses in a couple of places. There were a few other things that struck me as being odd, but I was tired at the time so I could be wrong. Some paragraphs just seemed to clash in style with what came before them.

    The fact is, I’ve seen far worse productions put out by professionals (and amateurs) who really should know better. For the proof-reading you did, “Queen” has come up really well. If you like, I’d be prepared to give it a proof-read as well so I can pass on any suggestions I might find.

    From MickH on 07/12/06

    That would be great Dan thanks

    From tygertim on 07/19/06

    I know I’m a little late, but I have to tell you I really loved this story. Is Nelson ready to be hero worshiped? The Royal Navy tends to view Nelson as a demigod, and to have him actually walk the Trident’s decks, well, the crew would be beyond thrilled. I mean it’s Nelson! you know?
    Now where could George III grant them a “Zone”? I would have thought they’d be thinking more alnong the line of a Duchy or Principality? How would that work? It would be sort of like Jersey or Guernsy wouldn’t it?

    That’s the sign of a good story.

    Thanks Much!

    From MickH on 07/20/06

    Thanks Tim, good Q on the zone, I haven’t worked that out yet. An island might be a good spot.

    All – I have started work on finishing the story, its going to be a novel, so I don’t know where we are going to post it. I was going to post it chapter by chapter but I think I’ll wait till its finished and polished. I’m sorry its going to take a while.

    Status: I have the chapters plotted (mostly)
    Have written about 3000 words so far!

    Extra big thanks to YD, who is acting as my military technology advisor and sounding board.

    From Stevo the WA Devo on 07/28/06

    Bloody Brilliant best bit of literature I’ve read since leaving oz a month ago. I’m hanging on the end of my seat wanting more.

    From Stevo the WA Devo on 07/28/06

    Bloody Brilliant best bit of literature I’ve read since leaving oz a month ago. I’m hanging on the end of my seat wanting more.

    From Bangar on 08/01/06

    I’m looking forward to it, if you want a proof reader my hands up. Bangar.

    From tygertim on 08/07/06

    Mick, Where’s the Iron Duke? He should be about somewhere, it’s only about ten years or so till Waterloo in OTL from this year. Nelson AND Wellington (hope the spellings correct) What fun! Come to that, Where is Napoleon Bonaparte??? Napoleon AND Wellington on the same side . . . . The mind boggles.


    From MickH on 08/07/06

    Try Villeneuve and Nelson together! 😉

    From PhantomII on 08/10/06

    Have you progress much further in your story?
    I consider this the most intruding among the lot. I would be very interested if you have expanded on this….. PLEASE!!!!

    Comment by miniburger | 22 March, 2009 | Reply

  2. Great story man,great story,ity is dead fic……maybe u can finished this marvel…..or 1 words or 2 about …..Thanks anyway

    Comment by Vic | 3 August, 2011 | Reply

  3. thanks Vic. Q7S is now a novel. It may see the light of day as an Enovel.

    Comment by mickhhickH | 10 September, 2011 | Reply

  4. Thanks man,is a relly great news.I can’t wait to read it.Where do i find this e-novel ?Please …….

    Comment by vic | 18 September, 2011 | Reply

  5. Well John currently has it. It may see the light of day as an anthology of his. If that doesn’t come off it will see publication in some form

    Comment by mickhhickH | 19 September, 2011 | Reply

  6. After 8 months and nothing……….any news about the e-novel?

    Comment by vic | 15 June, 2012 | Reply

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