The woman who was unstuck in time

It was a dark and stormy night

An interlude with relativity

To the future

The plan

The timeship

Ship’s Manuals

Flight Controls and Navigation

First flight


The prisoner

Back... way back

Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmetic

Here comes the Judge

Return to Ramah

Uncircumcised bastards

A decent proposal

The wedding night

The battle against Unrar






A question of class

Fixing the transporter

Transfer orbit





A bloodless coup

The surrender of King Jabin

Back to the future

Unrar, again

a confusing return




Period of an orbit

gravitational constant = 6.67384 × 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2

The recoil of a laser

Deborah’s chronology

Estimate mass of the timeship

Force required to cause a 1 m/sec2 acceleration

It was a dark and stormy night

The night was dark, nights usually are, and there was an electrical storm, which is unusual for Seattle.  The whole effect was a motivator to stay indoors and study with a trusty computer and a fast internet connection.  Deborah Schwartz was doing just that, studying a commentary on the book of Daniel.

Deborah was a student at the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle.  She was finishing up her senior year, after which she hoped to get a scholarship to get a Master’s degree.  She was eligible for some work-study money, working in the library.  She had some savings, but tuition and life were expensive, so her diet was mainly mint tea and Ramen noodles.  The room was cool, so she wore a sweat shirt.

Deborah’s studio apartment was an austere place.  There was a small throw rug on the hardwood floor.  Under a bunk bed was a desk and a worn swivel chair.  A small fluorescent light served for illumination.  Against both walls were book shelfs crowded with books on all kinds of topics.  Off to one side was a small kitchen, off to the other side, a small bathroom.  On the door post was a mezuzah.  It was compact, but she could afford it and that was enough.  

Daniel has two parts to it, the first part, which is relatively straightforward, and then a second part, which has some truly weird prophecies in it.  Deborah was fascinated by the truly weird prophecies at the end of the book, from chapter 7 to chapter 10, where Daniel envisioned strange beasts convened by divine command.  She wondered how much of the prophecy of Daniel was actually written later and then attributed to him.

A chat window opened on her computer.  It was from deborah@  “Another Deborah reaching out to another Deborah - how lame.  What a strange address”, she thought.

Are you busy?

Yes, I am.  What do you want?

I want to talk with you.

What do you want to say?

Not online.  In person.

Where are you?

In the parking lot of your apartment building.

I don’t trust you

I know the password for your wifi.  It’s a very strong password, but easy to remember.

How do you know my password?

I know a great deal about you.  I know that you broke up with Allen 9 days ago, that you are very conflicted about your motives for doing so.  You want children, he doesn’t. I know that you are studying the book of Daniel.  I know that you like the prophecies at the end of the book.  I know that you will graduate in June, with high honors.  I know that you have a scar on the sole of your left foot where you stepped on some broken glass while walking barefoot.  Your mother gave you a terrible lecture on the dangers of walking barefoot, and now you wear sandals even in the shower.  I know you like mint tea.  Shall I go on?

How do you know all of these things?

Not online, in person.

I don’t trust you.

I understand.  I want you to make a leap of faith.  It’s important.  Please.

Alright - come to the window of my apartment.

Okay.  You will see an old woman.

Deborah got up from her computer and opened the blinds on the front window.  She could see very little from the dim lights the landlord used in the common spaces.  The rain came down in sheets.  It was no night to be out.

A figure appeared in the window.  It looked like an old woman, caucasian, gray hair, about 5 foot 6 inches tall, maybe 140 pounds,  but appearances can be deceiving.  She was wearing a hooded dark coat that reached down to the knees.  Water was beading up on the coat and dripping off the bottom.  She was wearing pants and flat shoes.  Almost against her will, Deborah moved to the front door, threw the deadbolt, and opened the door.

“Please come in”, she said.

“Thank you”, her visitor replied.

“Who are you?”

“I’m you, but I am a very older, and a little wiser you.  Skeptical?”


“I’m not surprised.  You and I are time travelers.  I am you, but about 50 years older”

“That’s impossible”

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”

“I’ve heard that quotation before”

“Yes, you have.  It’s one of Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws.  May I have some tea?  I’m a little cold”

“All I have is mint”

“Our favorite”

Deborah (the younger) left her visitor in the living room while she went into the kitchen to put some water on the stove.  She got a couple of mugs from the dish rack, and got a couple of tea bags from a box on the shelf.

Deborah (the elder) wandered into the kitchen.

“We were never completely comfortable in this apartment”

“I’m testing you: tell me why”

“You felt that it was more important to focus on your studies than to invest in creature comforts.  You had just barely enough money to pay rent, buy food, pay for tuition and books.  You didn’t have much of a margin, in money or in time.  Besides, this was just a temporary place.  So you never decorated it, never personalized it, never called it home.  Just as well”


“We will never really find a home.  I shouldn’t predict your future from my past, your future might be different.  Or it might not be.”

“The problem with time travel is that it destroys causality.  Events in the future might cause events in the past.  There are paradoxes - suppose I - we - go back in time and kill grampa?”

“That would cause a fork in the space-time continuum.  There would be a different future, but the event of grampa’s death would be the same.  In fact, the reason why I am here is to explore that paradox in a slightly different way”

The kettle began to whistle.  Deborah took the kettle and poured the hot water into the mugs.  Deborah (the elder), held her mug in both hands.

“That feels good”

“Why are you here?”

“I am here to launch you on an adventure, an adventure such as nobody has ever had before.  You will go places and do things that nobody has ever done before”

“Mother isn’t going to like that”

“I know.  I am going to have to face her, and it will not be easy, because I am older now than she is”.

“Take your left shoe off”


“Take your left shoe off”


“You say that you are me.  You say that I hurt my left foot.  I did.  There is still a scar.  I was told that I will have it for life.  If you are me, then you also have a scar on the sole of your left foot.”

Deborah (the elder) sat down on the sofa, and took off her left shoe, and then her sock.  She held her foot up for Deborah (the younger).  She inspected the foot, rubbed it briskly, and then sank to her knees.


“No, I’m not.  I’m going to fingerprint you”

“Do you know how to do that?”

“No, I don’t.  I’ll look up the procedure on the internet”

“You do that.  I have time”

“How old are you?”

66 years old

“Oh my God.  That’s 44 years.  That’s practically a whole lifetime.  Why did you come here?”

“I told you - to send you on an adventure.”

“What’s the adventure?”

“You have to go into the past and fight and win a war”

“Why? How am I supposed to do that?”

“I have a timeship which I am going to give you.  You have to go to the future, refurbish the timeship and get some training, figure out when the war was, then go to the past and change the outcome of that war.  You see, in the future, the past was changed.  The future is going to be despotic, evil.  There will be no Jews at all, but also no Christians and no Muslims.  Something happened in the past that changed all that history.  Something that happened before Jesus.  The language of the future has no greek or latin words - in fact, they do not use a latin alphabet.  So the change happened before the Romans and the Greeks.  You have to go forward in time to equip yourself and service your timeship, then go back in time to fight the war.  I can tell you where to go on the first leg of your journey, but I can’t tell you how far back you have to go on the second leg of your journey.”

“What war?”

“A war between the Israelites and the Canaanites about 3000 years ago”

“You couldn’t do it?”

“I tried and failed.  You will have to try again.  Perhaps you will succeed.  Look, you’ve had quite an eventful evening.  It’s late.  Go to bed now, and I will see you tomorrow night.”

“Wait - I haven’t had an eventful night - I’ve been studying and then we’ve been talking”

“I know.  But you’ve had a major shock to your world view and you need some time to absorb it all”

She reached for her sock and her shoe.

“Wait - do you have a place to sleep?”

“Our time ship has cozy bunks”

“Can you show me your time ship?”

“Mother won’t like that”

“I won’t tell if you won’t”


Deborah (the elder) opened her coat, and reached inside her shirt.  She pulled out a medallion on a cord around her neck.  It was about 1 inch in diameter and perhaps a quarter of an inch thick.  There was a red circle about a half an inch in diameter at the center of the medallion.

“Are you ready?”

“Let me get the door”

“Just throw the deadbolt locked”

She did.




“I’m ready”

“Good.”  She pressed on the red circle and said “Adelle”

“Yes”, came a voice from the medallion.

“Two to beam up”

And they were gone.

Deborah (both of them) found themselves in a brightly lit chamber 4 meters high by roughly 10 meters in diameter, semi-circular, with a rectangular space connected to it that was more dimly lit.

“Where are we?”

“We are in our timeship which is currently in orbit about 1000 kilometers above the earth.”

“I feel funny”

“It’s the gravity.  It’s about 1/6th what you are used to.”

“How did we get here?”

“I used a transporter, much like on Star Trek

“That’s impossible”

“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”

“I’ve heard that before.”

“You have: it’s another of Arthur C. Clarke’s three laws”

“I don’t like Science Fiction”

“I didn’t, either.  It’s really ironic how our life has turned out”

“Did we just travel in time?”

“A little bit.  We were at 47º North latitude, 123º West longitude, and now we are at 0º latitude and about 150º W longitude.  Plus, we’ve gone up about 1000 kilometers, so we traveled about 7000 kilometers and that took us about 2 milliseconds at the speed of light”

“That’s not really time travel”


“Why didn’t we travel in time?”

“The transporter can’t do that.  It’s limited by the speed of light and it has an effective range of about 20,000 kilometers.  So when we left, the timeship was more or less directly overhead.  Which is why we had to leave when we did”

An interlude with relativity

Deborah (the elder) led Deborah (the younger) down a long corridor.  She came to a door, opened it, and ushered Deborah (the younger) into a conference room with seating for 20.  There was a nice wooden table, plush chairs, and carpeting.  There was a video projector and a screen at the far end of the room.  To one side was a small sink, cupboard, and a teapot on a counter.  Deborah (the elder) made a beeline for the counter.

“Would you like some tea?”, she asked.

“Yes, please”, Deborah (the younger) answered.


“That would be wonderful”

Deborah (the elder) filled the teapot and set it to heating.

“So, do you have a plan?”

“Yes.  The two of us have to split up and work this problem separately.  My job is kind of complicated.  I have to stay here in 2013 and prepare for you to come home.  It’s risky”


“What we’re doing is illegal.  It is illegal to change the past, but it is not illegal to travel to the future and bring back advanced technology,  It is also possible look for adverse consequences of certain actions and come back with advice on how to avoid those adverse consequences.  There are chrono police that enforce those laws.  Once I return to your apartment, I am liable for arrest, trial and conviction”

“What’s the penalty?”

“Interfering with the past is a capital offense”

“You’re asking me to commit a crime that may result in my execution?”

“Well, our execution.  I don’t think it will happen to you, because I am here, but it might happen to me”.


“Because somebody went into the past and changed history, and nobody in the future knows about it or cares about it.  They did it in such a way that we don’t know who they were or how they did it.  I spent 40 years of apparent time trying to track it down, and failed.  I know that it has to do with the story of Deborah, in the book of Judges.   Beyond that, it’s impossible for me.  However, I firmly believe that when a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, she is almost certainly right. When she states that something is impossible, she is very probably wrong.”

“I’ve heard that before”

“Yes, you have, it’s - “

“Don’t tell me, let me guess: One of the Arthur C. Clarke’s laws”

“Very good”

“You quote him a lot”

“He foresaw a great deal.  I have all of his works in the ship’s library.”

Deborah (the elder) walked over to a cabinet, opened it and withdrew something.  It was roughly conical, perhaps 20 cm in diameter at the base and 15 cm high.  Since Deborah could carry it with one hand either it wasn’t very heavy or else Deborah was very strong.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a chronobeacon.  Time travelers use it to fix reference points in time and space, so they can return to a given place and time.  Each chronobeacon has a 128 bit address which is unique, so it can be found in the space-time continuum.”

“128 bits doesn’t seem like enough”

“128 bits is 3.4*1038 chronobeacons.  By way of contrast, the earth weighs about 4*1027 grams.  Now, I am going to go back to your apartment and turn it on.  You will detect the chronobeacon, and return to it.”

“What if I am not ready to return?”

“You don’t search for it until you are ready.  Once you are ready, you search for the chronobeacon, and tell the timeship to go then”

“So what’s the risk?”

“Once I turn on the chronobeacon, somebody else will detect it, too, and come looking for me.  They will know that I am roughly 66 years old, so if they find me there, hopefully they will leave you alone and continue to search for me.  I might as well let them find me.  They will arrest me, take me to their time, try me, convict me, and execute me.”

“That sucks”

“Yes.  However, once they find me, then they will not look for you.  You will be able to live out the rest of your life unmolested”

“You said that the key is in the book of Judges?”


“There was a judge named Deborah.... Oh no.  No.  Not me. I am supposed to fight a war?”


“I don’t know how to fight a war”

“You’ll have help.  A war criminal from the 24th Century”


“It’s not that bad.  He will serve you well”

“What was his crime?”

“He studies war.  In his timeline, the world is at peace with itself.  The study of war is declared illegal except for certain scholars who are licensed by the government to study world history.  However, this fellow couldn’t get a license, studied the wars of the past, including their methodology. He studied weapons and martial arts.  For that, he is to be punished”’

“What is his punishment?”

“He is going to be exiled into history.  You are to take him back to the past and maroon him there”

“So let’s go back to this war I am supposed to fight.  With all of this advanced technology in this timeship, it ought to be a cake walk”



“According to the biblical account, the only miracle on the battlefield was that it rained, which turned the ground to mud, which bogged down the enemy’s chariots.  Your infantry will still be able to move.  Plus, you will have the high ground.  It is easier to hold the high ground and attack from the high ground.  There’s a bigger problem, however”


“We have a pretty good idea of where you are supposed to go, but we don’t have a good idea of when.  The Book of Judges spans about 350 years.  You have to find the right moment in history - not too soon, and not too late”

“So what’s the plan?”

“You have to go into the future, 2372,  to refurbish the timeship, pick up supplies, chronobeacons, and get some training.  Then you go to 2456 where you will pick up  Walter Brown, your prisoner.”


“You go to 2372 for refurbishing and training.  The timeship is almost completely out of power and supplies.  The systems require some maintenance.  For the timeship, it’s been 50 years since it was last serviced.  You will have to go through some training.  That whole process will take about 2 years of apparent time.  Then you have to go back in time to sometime between, oh, 1380 BCE and maybe 1025 BCE.  You have to find a man named Lapidot and marry him.

“Do I have children by him?”

“History doesn’t say.  Ship’s stores include a variety of contraceptives and the autodoc is capable of performing a tubal ligation or a vasectomy.  So it’s up to you”

“What if I don’t like Lapidot?”

"When I hear his steps outside my door I lie down on my bed, open my legs and think of England."

“That sounds like another quotation”

“It is - Lady Hillingdon, 1912”

“So once I marry Lapidot, then what?”

“You find a Jewish general named Barak and you convince him to lead an army of 10,000 men against an army of 900 iron chariots, led by an enemy general named Sisera.  Barak’s men fight Sisera’s men.  Barak’s men win.  Sisera slips away from the battlefield and arrives at the tent of a woman named Yael.  She kills him by driving a tent stake through his head.”

“I’ve just come out of a relationship.  I like Yael already”

“Maybe you will meet her”.

“So what is the space-time continuum, anyway?”

“You will get detailed instructions during your training, but I can give you a quick overview.  Space as you know it has 4 dimensions.”

“Space has 3 dimensions - length, width, and height”

“And time”

“Time is not a dimension”

“Yes it is.  Consider this equation”

She wrote:


“Where c is the speed of light.  Check the dimensions - every term under the square root has dimensions of length squared.”

“Math was not my best subject”

“I know.  The methods of instruction in the 20th Century were crude and inefficient.  You can barely balance your check book without a computer.  I can walk into any university in the world and teach graduate level mathematics, in any language.

“Now, the speed of light is constantly 3.0*108 meters per second, no matter how fast you go.  That’s predicted by Maxwell’s equations”

“Maxwell’s equations?”
        “Yes, 4 equations that describe the relationships between electricity and magnetism.  If you work the equations correctly, you wind up with a wave that propagates at the speed of light, no matter what frame of reference you are in”

“I don’t understand”

“Okay.  Suppose you are traveling on a train going 10 Kilometers per hour”

“Can you use the English system?”

“No.  Suppose you decide the throw a ball at a person standing alongside the track in front of you.  You throw the ball at 20 kilometers per hour.  The person will catch the ball going 30 kilometers per hour, the speed that you threw the ball, plus the speed of the train.  Now suppose that the person decides to wait until you pass him or her and then throws the ball back at you.  If the person throws the ball back at you at 20 kilometers per hour, then you will catch the ball going 10 kilometers per hour.  Simple vector addition, although because the ball and the train are moving in the same direction, it looks like a scalar instead of a vector”

“That makes sense”

“Now, suppose your train is moving 2.4*108  meters per second, which is ⅘ c.  You shine a flashlight in the direction your train is moving.  Somebody measuring the speed of light from your  flashlight will still see if moving at 3*108 meters per second.  However, each wave of light is going to come from a source that is a little bit closer with each wave.  So although the speed of the waves remains the same, the wavelengths will decrease and the frequency of the light will be higher: the light will be shifted into the blue.  Similarly, if you shine the light in the opposite direction, the speed of light will remain the same, but the frequency will decrease: the light will shift into the red.  This relationship is described by the Lorentz contraction:

The following was done using libreoffice equation editor:

“If v is ⅘ c, then the Lorentz contraction will be ⅗.”

“How did you evaluate a square root in your head?”

The following was done with the Fmath editor


“I cheated - I used a Pythagorean triple when I set up the hypothetical.  Can you visualize a train moving ⅘ c?  It would cross the country in 50 milliseconds.  Anyway, the problem is that when v is greater than c, the expression under the radical becomes imaginary, and nobody in your time knows what to do with an imaginary distance.  So they concluded that travel at faster than the speed of light was impossible.

“However, it is possible to fold space and move from place to place at will.  That’s what our time ship does.  You are stuck thinking that space is fixed in four dimensions.  However, space has many dimensions and what is a straight line in your preconceived notion of space may actually be a very circuitous path in higher dimensions.

“Time travel can be accomplished using these higher dimensions and that fact that ct has the dimensions of length.

“The transporter does something similar, although it has to be more precise, so it has less range and losses the time travel capability.


“Very much like on Star Trek except it actually works.”

“Do you expect me to remember all of this stuff”

“Yes, I do, and more.  You are going to have to because if anything breaks down, you have to fix it, so you have to understand operating principles of everything.  The only person who will have a clue of where and when you are is me, and I won’t have a timeship to go off and rescue you”

The timeship

They left the conference room through a door and turned down the passageway.  The passageway was about 3 meters wide and 4 meters high and very long.  It was well lit.  There were hand rails on the walls and on the ceiling.  There was a slot in the floor about 10 centimeters wide and 15 centimeters deep.   Above and below the handrails were what looked like doors.  Each door had a number and a bar code.

“What is this part of the time ship?”

“Ship’s stores.  Our voyage will take decades, so there is plenty of fuel, water, food, medical supplies, clothing.”


“There are 5 matter-anti matter reactors that provide plenty of power and redundancy”

“How long is this passageway?”

“About a kilometer”

“Hey - if we’re orbit 1000 kilometers above the planet in an equatorial orbit, and we’re a kilometer long, then won’t somebody down there detect us?”

“The time ship is a sphere 1.5 kilometers in diameter, so it’s easy to see if you know where and how to look.  As a matter of fact, the American government, the Russian government, and the Chinese government are having a conniption fit over us.  The only thing that orbits the earth that’s bigger than we are is the moon.  However, nobody has the launch capability to put something this big in  orbit without being detected.  Furthermore, nobody detected my approach - because the timeship was suddenly just there.  But the governments don’t want to panic the people with the thought that extraterrestrials are visiting the planet.  They’re also concerned that some amateur astronomer is going to find us and spill the beans”

“How do you know?”

“Some high school kid in the 23rd century is going to figure out a fast way to factor large prime numbers in a reasonable amount of time.  Evidently she was too stupid to know that it couldn’t be done, so she did it.  The rest is good old signal intelligence.  However, it is a concern which is why I am in a bit of a hurry - an unaccustomed trait for a time traveler.”

“What are they going to do about it?”

“They don’t know yet.

“There are scientists that want to point telescopes at us and use xenon strobe lights to send us prime numbers.  As if a civilization advanced enough to build such a large space craft would be too stupid to look out the window and see the Mercury vapor and Sodium vapor lights all over the planet, the roads, airports, all the radio waves from commercial broadcasters, air traffic control systems, cell phones.  I suppose it is possible for a natural source of excited sodium vapor to exist, I just don’t know what it might be.

“There are Generals who want to shoot us down, except that they don’t have a weapons system that will reach us.

There are politicians who want to get the United Nations to issue a declaration of welcome, and a directive to all nations to turn off their air search radars”

“What’s an air search radar?”

“Most air traffic control systems in this time do not use radar, they use a radio on the aircraft called a transponder.  The transponder sends a pulse back to the air traffic control system.  It’s all done with computers.  However, military airplanes and smugglers turn off their transponders, so there are still real radars that search for intruders.  They are really a defensive weapon system.  Turning off the air search radars would be a signal of good faith”

“Sounds like a smart politician”

“Now and then an innocent man is sent to the legislature”

“I’ve heard that before”

“An American humorist, Kin Hubbard”

“Back to the reaction of the planet earth.  Don’t we have to do something to prevent publicity?”

“Yes, we do, and I have the perfect hiding place”


“The far side of the moon”

They walked to one end of the passageway.   Deborah (the elder) opened a heavy door, and indicated that Deborah (the younger) should enter.  They were in a chamber perhaps 3 meters cubical.  There was another heavy door.  Deborah opened the door and they stepped through it into another room, also 3 meters cubical.

“An air lock”

“Yes, to protect you against a catastrophic failure”.

They went through the next door.  They were in a corridor 3 meters wide by 3 meters high and about 20 meters long.

“This is your living space.  Here is a bedroom.  Here is a zero gravity toilet”

“Why do I need a zero gravity toilet?”

“So that you can go to the bathroom in case the gravity fails.   You noticed the hand rails in the hall, and the slot in the floor and the handrail in the ceiling?  You have to be able to move about the ship if the gravity fails.

“This machine is a gymnasium.  You should spend an hour a day in it.”


“You can study or listen to music or watch a movie while you work out,

“Here is a kitchen, which will work either with gravity or without it.  This room”, she opened what looked like a coffin, “Is a medical facility.  The autodoc is a very capable physician.  I’ve been stabbed, fallen, broken bones, gotten sick, it’s always taken care of me”.

They came to a space with a two very comfortable looking chairs, 6 computer screens each and a keyboard.  There were trackballs to the right of the keyboards.  On the right armrest of each chair was a complicated looking joystick.  Above each chair on a hook was a helmet that looked very strong.  Each chair was equipped with a 5 point harness.  Most of the screens had squares of different colors with three and four letter acronyms.  Some of the screens had just text boxes.  Other squares were diagrams of various systems, with circuits marked in green, yellow and red.

“This is your office and the flight deck.  You fly the time ship from here”

“It looks simple, compared with, say an airplane”

“It is.  You tell the computer where and when you want to go and it takes you there”

“If the computer can listen, then why is there is keyboard?”

“In case the computer voice communication system fails, you can still fly the timeship.  Also, the weapons systems have to be fired and controlled by hand, because the consequences of misunderstanding are so great”

Deborah (the younger) touched the chair.

“You have some studying to do.  We like to read, rather than be lectured to, so I have prepared a tutorial on how to fly a timeship.  In addition, you will wear this helmet, which connects to a learning machine”

“Learning machine?”

“The learning machine is a direct interface into your brain.  It creates new memories for you.  However its speed is limited by the fact that your nerve conduction velocity is about 50 meters/second.  Also, if you use the machine when you are too young, you get confused between real memories and machine generated memories, so we don’t like to use the learning machine before age 22.  That’s why I waited so long before contacting you.  But we can talk about that later.  Please, have a seat.  Put on the helmet on the hook above you - it will not only protect your head from impact, but it will also make learning much faster.  Use the trackball to select the icon labeled ‘ship’s manuals’ to learn how to fly the timeship”


“Well, you don’t really fly because the timeship is too fragile to enter an atmosphere, but I haven’t thought of a better, simple verb to describe what the timeship does.  

Deborah did.  A screen opened that said

Ship’s Manuals

“Click on ‘Flight Controls and Navigation’”

She did.  A new screen opened.

Flight Controls and Navigation

“Okay, I am hungry.  I’ve talked more in the past 3 hours than I have in the past 3 years.  I’m going to have a snack.  I’ll check up on you in an hour”

“Okay, I’ll be here”

First flight

Deborah (the elder) came into the flight deck.

“Are you ready for your first flight lesson?”

I think so”,

“Good.  You were worried about the reaction of Earth’s governments to our presence?”


“Okay, I want you to take us to the perfect hiding spot: Lagrange 2”

“What’s Lagrange 2?”



“Please show a diagram from the encyclopedia about Lagrange points

“In a gravitational system where two relatively large objects, there are 5 points where a relatively small object could be relatively stable.  Lagrange 2 happens to be  62,800 km above the far side of the moon from Earth, so we could orbit there for a long time without being detected.

“Okay.  I think I will use the voice control”



“Yes?”, the computer responded.

“Change ship’s orbit to Lagrange point 2”

“Use a Hohmann transfer orbit, transfer at maximum acceleration, or use time travel for instantaneous transfer?”, the computer answered.

“What should I do?”

“That is your decision to make”, the computer said.

“Since we’re in a bit of hurry, I think, let’s do this the fast way and use time travel”, Deborah (the elder) advised.

“Adelle: Change ship’s orbit to earth-moon Lagrange point 2 and use time travel”

“Changing ship’s orbit to earth moon Lagrange point 2 using time travel.  We have arrived at Lagrange point 2”

“I didn’t feel anything.  Is there a window I can look out of?”

Deborah (the elder) raised her voice.  “Adelle”

“Yes”, the computer said.

”Show the lunar surface on monitor 2”

One of the monitors showed a lunar surface.  I’ve seen the moon before, but I’ve never really looked at it.  This looks sort of like the moon, there are craters and stuff, but it doesn’t look right”

“Is this in color?”

“Yes.  The moon is various shades of gray”

“Are we moving?”

“That’s the beauty of Lagrange point 2.  The earth’s gravity and the moon’s gravity line up just right to create this little island of stability in space.  We appear to float over the moon’s surface.  In fact, we’re in orbit about the earth in such a way that the moon is always between us and the earth.”

“So now what do we do?”

“I think it is time to exercise, eat, read, and sleep.  We are going to be here for a while.”

Deborah (the elder) yawned.

“It’s time for me to go to bed.  When you get to be my age, you become habituated to a 24 hour sleep cycle”

“Where do I sleep?”

“I told you - in the bedroom”

“Where do you sleep?”

“This space is replicated 500 meters down the passageway and again at the other end of the passageway”

“Why replicated?”

“In case this living space fails”

“Rise and shine”

Deborah (the younger) covered her head with her blanket.

“Wake up, youngster”

“What time is it?”

“Well, that question doesn’t really make any sense on a timeship.  However, according to your circadian clock, it is 0700.  Now, get out of bed and get dressed in gym clothes”

Deborah (the younger) rolled out of bed and promptly flew to the ceiling in the low gravity, hitting her head.  She came back to the floor, recovered somewhat, and came to her feet.  She trundled into the restroom.  She went to a drawer and pulled out gymnastic trunks, a tank top, sport bra, socks, and sneakers.  She gave her hair a quick brush and went into the hallway where Deborah (the elder) was waiting.

“Time to work up a sweat”


“There is a gymnasium around the corner.  In the low gravity, it is easy to get out of shape.  So you should spend an hour in the gym every day.  You should also spend about 30 minutes a day running.”

“Do you do that?”

“I do.  Shall we go for a run?”

Deborah (the elder) took off at a quick jog.  Deborah (the younger) took off after her.  They ran down the corridor.  Then Deborah (the elder) turned left down another long corridor.  Deborah (the younger) chased after her, but her body was beginning to glisten.  When Deborah (the elder) got to the end of the corridor, she twisted and all of a sudden, was running down the wall at a right angle (going up) to the corridor.  Deborah (the younger) came to the junction and stopped.

“Wait a second”

“Am I going too fast?”

“No.  It’s just that you’re running on a wall”

“That’s the artificial gravity here”

“So, I just turn here and turn there and then run upwards?  Like those oriental martial arts movies?”

“Yes, that’s the idea”

Deborah (the younger) carefully twisted her body and all of a sudden, she was stuck to the wall!  She stood up carefully.  Her ears told her brain that this way was down.  So she took a step.  Her ears still said that this way was down.

Deborah (the elder) watched this slow motion comedy.  “I think when you get a little practice, it will come more easily for you.”

Deborah (the younger) started running slowly, carefully.  She ran past Deborah (the elder), who started running again, easily catching her after about 10 meters.  What is disconcerting to me is that I am constantly at the crest of a hill - “downhill” is both in front of me and behind me.  The hill should be getting steeper, but my senses tell me that I am running on flat ground.  This is really going to be an adventure. 

“This corridor is curving downward all the time, but it doesn’t get any steeper”

“That’s the artificial gravity”

“Never heard of it”

“Well, you know what real gravity is, don’t you?”

“Isn’t that what Sir Isaac Newton discovered when an apple hit him on the head?”

“Nobody else from your time does, either.  There are 4 fundamental forces in the universe: electromagnetism, the strong force, the weak force, and gravity.  Electromagnetism is light, radio waves, microwaves, X-rays, gamma rays, electricity, and also what keeps atoms and molecules together.  The strong force is what keeps atomic nuclei together.  The weak force holds together Fermions with half-spin.”

“I’m a religious scholar and not a physicist”

“I know, I have to add that to your training material”

“What training material?”

“Am I running too fast for you?”

“I can go faster”

Deborah (the elder) promptly ran faster.

I am going to regret being prideful.  This is me as a grandmother and I can barely keep up with myself.  

“You are going to have to go through some training.  You’ll need 24th century physics, timeship operations, weapons, engineering.  You will have to spend some time teaching your prisoner English, because all of the ship’s documentation is in English.”

“I don’t even know 21st century physics.  Are Fermions known in the 21st Century?”

“They were named after a famous 20th Century physicist named Enrico Fermi, 1901-1954”

“Never heard of him”

“I am also adding the history of science to your curriculum”.

“How long is it going to take me to learn all of this stuff?”

“Using a learning machine, about 2 years.  We’re coming back to the main corridor, do you want to return to your quarters or do you want to keep going?  I’m just starting to breath hard”

“Let’s keep going.  How does the learning machine work?”
They came to an opening in the floor 3 meters by 3 meters, which they ran around.

“It connects the computer directly into your brain and creates memories for you.  Because the neurons carry information at about 50 meters/second, there is a limit as to how fast these memories can be created.  You have to marry Lapidot, so it would be nice if you were of reasonably marriageable age by the time you get there.  It would also be nice if you could talk with him, he will be your husband after all.  Unfortunately, your brain has to be reasonably mature before the learning machine can work effectively, otherwise you don’t know which memories are machine memories and which are real.  It can be disconcerting if we start too young.  Otherwise, I would have intercepted you at a younger age.”


“In the time of Judges, it was common for a woman to wed at around 13-15.  You’re 22 now, and you will be 24 by the time you get there.  So you will be relatively old.  By the time I was 35, I gave up looking for Lapidot, and started preparing intelligence reports for you so that would search at places and times I didn’t go, perhaps detect the time when the battle took place.  Also, I wanted to get the measure of what King Jabin of Hazor does to the Israelites.”

“What does he do?”

“Well, he oppresses them with tribute, taking their crops and animals and women.  Eventually, they disappear under the strain as other hostile tribes invade and take over the land.  They go out of existence and with them goes the concept of ethical monotheism.  There goes Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Without the concept of a universal God and ethics, and also a penchant for study, the world descends into a nightmare of petty wars, pestilence, and misery.”

“So my job is to save the world?”

“No pressure.  Ship’s stores includes anti-perspirant in case you lose your cool.  One of the nice things about the period of the Judges is that women don’t shave their legs or armpits”

“That’s supposed to make me feel less stressed?”

“I’m just trying to be helpful.  We’ve been running for 20 minutes - you want to do another lap?”

“I’m getting winded.  So when does the battle occur?”

“I don’t know.  It may be that I didn’t do what I was supposed to do, and the battle never occurred.  Unfortunately, our knowledge of that period is extremely limited.  Basically, we have the account in Judges chapters 4 and 5 and some archeological evidence”

They stopped running and walked.

“You’re out of shape, for a 22 year old”

“You’re in superb shape, for a 66 year old”

“I had the advantages of living in an environment where I had to do a lot of physical labor, but I also have the advantage of the best of 24th century medical care.  For example, both of my knees have been replaced, I have an artificial left hip, I have had Laser-Assisted in-Situ Keratomileusis on both eyes”

“Laser assisted what?”

“LASIK surgery.  I had vitamin supplements, Fluoride, something to control cholesterol, and so on. The people in Canaan at that time have a life expectancy of about 40 years, which is why I gave up around 35 and concentrated on intelligence gathering.  Well, I am here.  Go to your quarters, shower, change and join me for breakfast”.

Deborah (the elder) turned into her quarters.  Deborah (the younger) walked down the corridor to her quarters, turned in.  She stipped off her gym clothes and dropped them into a laundry chute.  The shower felt good.  She was fascinated by the way the water moved in 1/6th gravity.  Of course, the shower had hand rails and sandals built into the floor, and a vacuum hose, so that she could take a shower in zero-G.  She stepped out of the shower, towelled, threw the towel down the laundry chute, and put on a deep blue jumpsuit.  The jumpsuit fit perfectly.  It was loaded with pockets both large and small.  She brushed her hair (the hair brush was clipped inside a drawer), and then went out.  She met Deborah (the elder).

“What would you like for breakfast?”

“What’s available?”

“The replicator can make virtually anything you want.  Eggs, any style, pancakes, waffles, real maple syrup, oat meal, Cheerios, bacon (if you want to eat trefe), rolls, biscuits, fruit, anything you want.”

“I’d like a grapefruit, sliced in halves”

“Okay, just address Adelle and tell her”


“yes”, the computer answered.

“I’d like a grapefruit, sliced in halves”

A bowl with two grapefruit halves appeared in front of her.  However, there was no spoon.


“yes”, the computer answered.

“I’d like a grapefruit spoon, please”

The spoon materialized in front of her.

“Adelle”, Deborah (the elder) spoke up.

“yes”, the computer answered.

“I’d like two low cholesterol scrambled eggs at 80 °C,  250 milliliters of orange juice at 4 °C, a fork, and a napkin”

Immediately, a plate of steaming eggs, a glass of cold orange juice, a fork, and a neatly folded paper napkin appeared.

“Adelle”, Deborah (the younger) addressed the computer.

“yes”, the computer answered.

“I’d like a napkin, please”

Immediately, a napkin appeared.

“So, once we get finished with breakfast, you can begin training with the learning machine”

“Okay, what’s on the agenda?”

“You have to learn enough about flying the time machine so you can take me back to your apartment, and then get to 2372 to finish your training.”
“What happens in 2372?”

“Your timeship - “

My timeship?”

“Yes, this timeship is yours now, to go wherever and whenever you wish, subject to some limitations, which you will learn about later.  Once I beam down to your apartment, I am done with it.  I will never travel in time again, at least, not of my own volition.  Anyway, your timeship has to go to 2372 to be refurbished, refueled, and checked.  There is a chronobeacon waiting for you”

“Am I going to be on time?”

“That doesn’t really apply.  When the shipyard is ready for you, they turn on the chronobeacon.  When you are ready to go to the shipyard, you go to the chronobeacon.  You can take as long as you want”

“I read that this ship has weapons”

“Yes, it does.  Powerful weapons - lasers, nuclear bombs, fusion bombs, etc.”

“I could end the Arab-Israeli conflict”

“And be known as the greatest murderer ever, surpassing Hitler.  Do you really want to be remembered that way?”

Would I be remembered as a murderess or as a heroine?  I suppose it depends on who is writing the history.  Do I really want to take out entire nations, or is merely that their leadership is corrupt and incompetent?  Democracy doesn’t have a good track record in the Arab world - the guys who know how to get elected are terrific ideologues but lousy administrators.  Does that mean that all of those people have to die?

“I don’t think I want to be remembered that way”

“Good!  You’re learning the limits of power.  Now, back to the plan.  There is no need to delay in this time and place.  You can’t really say good bye to your friends and family - how do you explain to them that you are traveling into the future and then into the past?  Our family would have you committed to a mental hospital”

“Ever since I met you, I have doubted my sanity”

“Oh, I’m pretty confident you’re quite sane.  If you were schizophrenic, for example, then you wouldn’t have decided that exterminating the entire Arab world was a bad idea”

“What if I am deluding myself into thinking that my delusion is telling me that I am sane?”


“I’m the first woman to see the far side of the moon”

“Just pretend you are sane and let’s keep going.  In 2374, your training should be complete.  At that point, you pick up your prisoner in 2456 and then fly backwards in time to 1126 BCE.  Then, you find Lapidot, marry him, start judging, then summon Barak and lead the country through a war.”

“No problem”

“Okay, then take me to your apartment”

They went to the flight deck and sat down.

“Adelle”, Deborah (the younger) said.


“Using time travel, take us to a circular equatorial orbit, altitude 250 Kilometers”


Deborah (the elder) worked her keyboard and mouse.

“Looks like you nailed it.  The sun is just rising over Asia minor.  That will give me some time to get to a transporter room”

“Do you have any last words of wisdom for me?”

“Good luck”

“Will I see you again?”

“That’s entirely up to you.  You can visit the stars, or you can come home.  Just keep in mind your role in history.  By the way, give me the key to your apartment”


“So I can get in.  I’ll give it back to you in 44 years”

Deborah (the younger) walked to her quarters, and fetched her purse.

“Here, you might as well have the whole thing - my keys, my credit card, my debit card, my library card, my student ID card, my transit pass”

“Thank you”

The walked out of the flight deck and along the corridor to the transporter room.

“Adelle”, Deborah (the elder) said.

“Yes”, the computer said.

“Do you recall the location named ‘Deborah’s Apartment’?”

“I do”, the computer replied.

“Set destination to that location and transport me down”

Deborah (the elder) was gone.

Utopia, 2372



“Find the chronobeacon labeled ‘Deborah Schwartz 13-Aug-2372 AE0B’”


“Go there”

“Understood.  We have arrived”

“Contact orbital control and inform them of our arrival”

“Understood.  Orbital control acknowledges our arrival and directs us to an elliptical orbit 300 kilometers by 500 kilometers 13 degrees inclination in 5 minutes 45 seconds from now to meet with timeship dock.”

“Thank you, Adelle.  Please tell orbital control that we will change orbit per their instructions.  Then please change our orbit per their instructions”

“Understood.  5 minutes 13 seconds to orbit change”

Deborah used her trackball to go to the NAV window.  A picture opened, an anaglyph, showing her current current orbit, the transfer orbit and the timeship dock.  Deborah donned glasses with a blue filter over one eye and a red filter over the other eye, and she could see her situation and plans in beautiful 3-D.   The timeship’s velocity vector was represented as a quaternion.  Deborah didn’t know what a quaternion was yet, but Adelle knew and that was good enough.  Draw this.  Continue Here

A timer reached zero, and the velocity vector began to change.  In a moment, the vector stabilized and she could see that they were now on the transfer orbit with a period of about 97 minutes.  In about 48 minutes, Adelle would fire the engine again and put the timeship in a 500 Km circular orbit.  The maneuver was called a Hoffmann transfer orbit, and it was the most energy efficient way to transfer between two orbits.

Adelle fired the engine at just the right time and in just the right direction.



“Range to timeship dock”

“850 kilometers”

“How fast are we closing on it?”

“Our range rate is 196 kilometers per hour”

“Estimated time of arrival?”

“5 hours 10 minutes”

“Can you show me what it looks like?”

Immediately, a window opened on one of her monitors.  It showed a hemispherical basket, with a large cylinder on the far side, brightly lit.  Suddenly, it plunged into darkness: only the lights were visible.

“What happened?”

“Nothing happened”

“The timeship dock - it suddenly got dark”

“It’s passed into the Earth’s shadow”

“How long will it be in the shadow?”

“About 48 minutes”

“They know we’re coming?”

“Yes.  I am in constant communication with them”

“Show me the earth underneath us”

Another window opened on a monitor.  She was currently over the Atlantic ocean, heading north east at a rapid clip.  She flew over the Iberian peninsula as the sun set.  The lights of the cities and villages could be clearly seen.  She raced over Turkey and then over Saudi Arabia.  Soon, the Indian subcontinent came into view.  Then, the Indian ocean consumed her view with pure darkness.  Wait a second… what was that light there?



“On the monitor showing the Indian ocean, there is a bright spot.  Please magnify it 100 times”

Immediately, the spot grew in size and luminosity.

“Please magnify another 100 times”

It was a ship, with bright lights on a mast.

“Return the magnification to one”

The Australian continent came into view.  She could clearly see the lights of Perth.        

“Adelle, the planet Earth is beautiful, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know how to make aesthetic judgements”

“I have to save it”

After 5 hours of literally watching the world go by, Adelle announced that docking with the timeship dock would occur in 10 minutes.  Deborah looked at the NAV display, and saw that the timeship dock was almost completely around her.  Adelle was doing a good job of flying the timeship, and Deborah was pretty confident about her lack of skill, so she was content just to watch.  Adelle slowly rolled the timeship to the left, reduced the range rate to 1 meter/second.  A minute later, Adelle reduced the range rate to 50 centimeters/second.

“You have a call from the station manager, Steve Atwood”, Adelle announced.

“Answer it, please”

A picture of a middle aged man in some sort of uniform appeared on her monitor.

“Miss Schwartz: welcome to timeship dock.  My name is Steve Atwood.  I will be overseeing the refurbishing and refueling of your timeship.  According to your itinerary, you will go to Earth for additional training, which is scheduled to last 2-½ years, is that correct?”


“I estimate that the refueling and refurbishing will take about 2 weeks.  What would you like us to do with your timeship once we are done and while you are training?”

“What are my options?”

“You can send it to some orbit which is relatively untrafficked, say, 10000 Kilometers, and leave it there.  It will be perfectly safe.  You can also send it to one of the Lagrange points.  We’d rather you not leave it within a thousand kilometers or so of the timeship dock.  Too much danger of space debris.”

“How soon do you need a decision?”

“In about 2 weeks”

“Okay.  It can wait”

“Fine.  Do you know where your training is to take place?”

“No, do you?”

“According to your itinerary, you are to go to the University of Chicago and meet with Professor David Danielson who will get you set up.  You will be in transporter range in about half an hour”’

“Thank you.  How do I get in touch with Professor Danielson?”

“When you arrive at the University of Chicago, they will send for him”

“Thank you”

“While the timeship is being refurbished, will the transporter continue to function?”

“You have 5 transporters, we will work on only one at time”

“Excellent.  Anything else?”

“I can’t think of anything else”

“Great.  Well, I will pack and get to Chicago.”

“Timeship dock, out”

“Timeship out”

Deborah went to her quarters.  She had a suitcase in the closet.  She packed quickly - unfortunately, most of her wardrobe was a couple of centuries out of date.  She hoped that jumpsuits were in style, because that’s mostly what she had.

She carried her suitcase to the nearest transporter room.  In the 1/6th gravity, it was easy to carry.



“Are we in transporter range of the University of Chicago?”

“Not for another 10 minutes”

“What is the local time in Chicago?”



“12 degrees under overcast skies.  Wind out of the west at 3 kilometers per hour.  Relative humidity 55%.  Dew point 3 degrees.  Visibility at ground level 20 kilometers.  Probability of rain 10%”

“Well, we’ve talked about the weather, what else is there to discuss?”

“I don’t know how to answer that question”

“Show me what’s below us now”

A window opened on a beautiful blue ocean.  There were swirls of clouds.

“Where are we?”

“456 kilometers above 4 degrees south 172 degrees west”

“What is that island in the lower left corner?”

“Vaitupu, part of the nation of Tuvalu”

“I’ve heard of Tuvalu.  Their ISO country code is TV, and they made a lot of money registering internet domain names for television broadcasters.  What’s the weather like there?”

“29 degrees under scattered clouds.  Wind is out of the west at 14 kilometers per hour.  Relative humidity 88%  Dew point 26 degrees.  Visibility at ground level 10 kilometers.  Probability of rain 80%”.

“Sounds like paradise.  I will be back in a couple of years, and then we can really go places”

“I’m too fragile to enter an atmosphere”

“That sucks”

“I am proud of my role in saving humanity.”

“That sounds like an emotion”

“I was programmed to emulate emotion”


“To make it easier for you to talk with me”

“Do you really feel emotion - empathy, rage, sadness, joy, love, boredom and so on?”

“Well, I have a timeship that is 1.5 kilometers in diameter to run, so I am never bored.  When you are injured or sick, then I will feel concern.  If you were murdered or assaulted, I would feel rage.  When you return, I will feel joy.  If we enter combat, I will be afraid”

“Do you really feel those emotions, or are they merely programmed responses?”

“Can you construct an experiment by which you can tell the difference?”

Deborah thought about that for a long moment.  “No”.

“Then it doesn’t matter.  The University of Chicago is now in range”

“Please contact them, and let them know I am coming”

“They are ready for you”

Deborah walked to the transporter pad.

“Beam me down”

And she was gone.


“Ms. Schwartz, I am David Danielson”.

“Professor Danielson, I am pleased to meet you”.  Deborah extended her hand.  Professor Danielson looked at it, quizzically.  Deborah looked at his face, saw his expression and retracted her hand.

“Come with me to this desk, and we’ll get you signed in.  Put your right hand on the plate”

She put her right hand on the plate.

“Now, take your right hand off the plate, shake it a few times, and put it back on the plate”

She did.

“Okay, you are all signed in.  When you come to a locked door, there will be plate on it.  Put your palm against the plate, and if you are authorized, you will be let in.  Any questions?”

He took a squeeze bottle, spritzed the plate with something that smelled vaguely of alcohol, and then wiped the plate with a paper towel.

“No questions”

“How do you like your timeship, so far?”

“I haven’t really had a chance to explore it.  I am the first woman to see the far side of the moon, so that’s noteworthy.”

“I sorry to tell you that that will have to be kept a secret.”


“Let’s go for a walk.  You can leave your suitcase here and we will come back for it - it will be perfectly safe”

Deborah followed Professor Danielson out the door and across a grassy knoll.

“The reason why you can’t tell anybody about your exploits is because changing the past is illegal”

“Why are you involved in this, if it is illegal?”

“That’s a little complicated.  The law was passed because people were going back into the past and gambling on sports games, investing in the stock market, cheating on insurance premiums.  People with access to time travel technology were growing wealthy and powerful.  Finally, there was a popular uprising, threatening to ban time travel technology all together.

“However, a loop hole was introduced into the law - it was legal to travel into the future, collect certain restricted information, and bring it back to the present.  So, for example, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were rising, but we couldn’t develop an alternate fuel with the same energy density, economy, and safety as hydrocarbons.  Time travelers were extensively indoctrinated to the highest levels of ethical conduct, that they would go out, find out what was needed to be known, and come back but do nothing else.  A military force, the chronopolice, was created to enforce the law.

“But somebody went back into the distant past and changed something, something important.  We discovered a parallel time line that forked in the distance past.  In the alternate timeline, there were no Greek or Roman characters in any alphabet.  There was an Indo-European protolanguage, but it was very different and there were many localized variations.  Industrial and intellectual development didn’t happen.

“We finally determined that the significant event was a war described in the book of Judges, chapters 4 and 5.  That war either didn’t happen or else it turned out differently.  We know where this war occurred sometime in a range of about 350 years.  We needed somebody to go back in time and fix the problem - we could not do it with automated probes”.

“Why not?”

“Because a primitive people who had barely figured out how to use bronze and iron would be terrified by an artificially intelligent probe.  Using an autonomous robot would also be technically challenging.  We needed a human being.  We picked you for the task”

“Why me?”

“You had a combination of the knowledge about ancient Hebrew and the ethical fortitude that we needed”

“No, wait a second.  The Hebrew I am studying is from roughly a thousand years after the book of Judges”

“That will have to do.  We needed somebody female, because you have to marry a specific man.  We needed somebody that was highly intelligent, and who was susceptible to the learning machine and the telepathy pill.  We needed somebody young enough that they would still be of marriageable age, but old enough to use the learning machine.  Not everybody can meet those requirements.  We had you, but as an old woman.  So she volunteered to go into the past and find you at the right moment in your lifetime so that you could accomplish the mission.”

“So I volunteered myself?”

“Well, this is kind of awkward, but yes.”

“What is your role in all this?”

“I am responsible for your training.  For the next two years, you will spend most of your time connected to a learning machine which will train you in all of the technologies you need to know to fly your timeship into the past and into the future.  You will learn how to fix your timeship if it becomes damaged, and how to fight with it in case you encounter the entity that changed the past.  I am also responsible for your safety while you are here.”

“Am I in danger?”

“We all are, so the sooner we get started, the sooner you can get to your mission”

“Well, then let’s get started”

They turned around and walked the other way, back towards the building where Deborah had left her suitcase.  Sure enough, it was as she left it.  Professor Danielson led her to another building, down a hallway, and to a door.  The door had a very sturdy combination lock.  Professor Danielson spun the combination.  Deborah noticed that the combination had 6 numbers.  Then Professor Danielson put his hand against a plate.  A green light turned on, the door opened, and they entered an airlock, which was interlocked so that the outer door had to be shut before the inner door would open and vice versa.

“Why an air lock?”

“The official reason is that we are conducting electromagnetic research in this room, and we want to keep stray EM fields out of the room.  The real reason is that we don’t want anybody tapping into the learning machine to find out what you are learning.  Now, what I want you to do is climb into the chair, and let me put this helmet on your head.”

“What is the helmet”

“The learning machine interfaces directly with the neurons in your brain, and creates new memories.  However, you have to be old enough so that the new memories can be kept separate from the old memories.  Normally, we would wait until you were 25 before putting you in the machine, so we are running a risk.  However, nothing went wrong in this timeline, so we think the risk is acceptable”

“That’s easy for you to say, you’re not the one taking the risk”

“Oh, but I am.  If your training doesn’t go well, and you make a mistake in the past, then this moment won’t exist.  That would mean that there is a fork in the timeline.  We want to avoid forking timelines.  In fact, we try to coalesce timelines if we can.  Other mistakes may expose you to the chronopolice, and if they find you, then they will find me, and I will be liable for execution.  Finally, at this time, there is a police force and they may find us.  So, yes, I am running a risk, too.”

“Oh”.  Deborah thought for a moment.  “Explain to me about the risk of using the learning machine again please?”

“You want to keep your real memories separated from your synthetic memories.  Otherwise, you get confused and it becomes harder to concentrate, harder to cognate.  It is best to wait until you have achieved a certain body of knowledge before connecting to the learning machine.  Generally, it is safest to use the learning machine between the ages of 25 to 40.  It is risky to use it one somebody as young as you are, but people as young as 16 have used it with no ill effect, so it depends on the individual’s tolerance.  We think you can tolerate it.

“The future of humanity is at stake?”


“And you think I am the best qualified person to deal with it?”


“And you are a tenured professor?”

“Tenure track, so I can still be professionally ruined”

“Okay.  Let’s do this.”

“Good.  Please have a seat in the chair”

Deborah sat down.

Professor Danielson put the helmet on Deborah’s head.  The helmet was quite comfortable.  She felt soft pads form around her ears.  Professor Danielson lowered a shield over her face.  It was vaguely claustrophobic, but Deborah decided that for the good of humanity, she would live with it.  Something was forced into her right hand.  Then, Professor Danielson’s voice appeared in her head - according to her ears, it was inside a her head, a strange experience.  “In your right hand is a squeeze bulb.  If you want to stop the session, for any reason at any time, squeeze the bulb.  I want you to squeeze the bulb now, to test it”.  Deborah squeezed the bulb.  Immediately, the shield popped up.

“Very good.  Did you have the weird experience that my voice was in your head?”


“Excellent.  That means that the learning machine is working in all respects.  We are ready to proceed.  The first session will last about 3 hours and then we will break for dinner”


Professor Danielson lowered the shield again.  All of a sudden, Deborah started seeing equations fly by very rapidly.  The first equations she vaguely remembered: the solution to the quadratic equation and how to solve any planar triangle.  But then the equations got more complicated: how to solve trigonometric problems on spheres and hyperbolas, derivatives and integrals, the wave equation, the Fourier transform, the Laplace transform, quaternions.  She couldn’t stand it any more and she squeezed the bulb.  The shield popped open.

“34.52 seconds.  Excellent”

“What the hell?”

“For a first time in the learning machine, you managed to get through about 2 percent of the mathematics curriculum in more than 30 seconds.  That’s excellent.  It is unusual to find somebody that can tolerate that for more than 20 seconds, although the record is 46 seconds.”

“I thought you said that the first session would last for 3 hours”

“It will, if you will stand for it.  You needed to get some experience with the machine, and have your experience explained to you.  We’ve done that.”

“I don’t remember anything”

“Oh?  What do you know about complex numbers.”

“They have the form a+bi where i is the square root of negative 1”

“How do you calculate e to the x, where x is an imaginary number?”

“cosine x + i sine x”

“Is that a real memory or a synthetic memory?”

“It’s a synthetic memory”

“How do you know?”

“I just know.  Hey - I learned that from the machine!”

“Yes, you did”

“Cool.  Hey - I know how to solve any triangle!  I can navigate using the stars!  I can measure distances to places without having to go there.  I can use a surveyor's transit with verniers!”

“Excellent.  Are you excited now?”

“Is the book of Daniel in my curriculum?”

“Let me check and see”.  Professor Danielson turned to his computer and typed something.  “Yes, it is, along with several commentaries in English and Hebrew.  I’m not sure why it is in there, but it is”.

“I asked for it as a favor”

“I think we owe you a favor”

“Great!  Put the helmet on again and let’s get cracking!”

Professor Danielson put the helmet on and lowered the shield.  More images started flowing into Deborah’s mind.  Now that she was convinced that the machine was working, she made an effort to relax and let the knowledge flow into her.  After a while (her sense of time was not working properly), she squeezed the bulb and the shield popped open.  She saw that Professor Danielson was working at the computer, but he was already turning towards her.

“How long have I been in there?”

“73 minutes 11 seconds.  How do you feel?”

“I don’t know”

“Does your head hurt?  Are you having troubles breathing?  Claustrophobia?”

“No, none of that.  It’s just that, well, I felt that I had had enough for a while”

“That’s okay.  Shall we go for a walk?  Are you hungry?”

“What time is it?

“17:11.  But you’re a time traveller and you may be experiencing what you call ‘Jet Lag’, and what we call circadian displacement disorder or CDD.  The learning machine can sometimes induce CDD, especially for new learners”

“Maybe that’s so”

“Fine.  Let’s go for a walk around the campus.  I should show you to your room, and then get you something to eat”.

“Professor, I’m wearing a jumpsuit.  Is that the fashion for women these days?”

“No, it isn’t, but the University of Chicago accepts students from all over the world.  Everybody is going to assume that you are from somewhere else”

Deborah picked up her suitcase.  Professor Danielson shouldered a backpack.  He worked the controls of the airlock and they walked out.  They left the building and walked across the campus.  They came to another building.

“Put your hand against the plate”

She did.  A green light turned on, and the door opened.  Then a wiper slid across the plate.  They walked in, down the hall, to an elevator.  She knew it was an elevator because there was a row of numbers across the top of the door.  However, there was no up or down button, just a plate.  She put her hand against the plate.  A green light turned on.  She removed her hand.  A wiper slid across the plate.  She watched as the numbers counted down to one.  Then the door opened.  Elevator technology hasn’t changed much in three hundred years.  They rode to the 14th floor.  The door opened, and they walked out.  An electronic sign said “Welcome, Deborah Schwartz.  Go to room 1459 to the right”.  They walked to the right.  They came to another sign that said “Welcome, Deborah Schwartz.  Go to room 1459 to the left”.  They walked to the left.  Eventually, they came to room 1459.  There was a plate by the door.  Deborah turned to Professor Danielson and said “Put your hand on the plate”.


“I’m testing the security”

Danielson put his hand on the plate.  A red light turned on.  Danielson removed his hand. A wiper swept over the plate.  Deborah put her hand on the plate.  The green light turned on.  Deborah removed her hand.  The wiper swept over the plate again.  The door opened.  They went in.  The room was 2 meters wide by 3 meters long.  There was an upper bunk bed on the right, a desk, a chest of drawers, and a chair under the bunk.  There was a closet, 1 meter square.  On the left was a sink and some cabinets.


“Well, you won’t spend much time here, and most of the time you do spent here you will spend sleeping.  This will be your home for the next two years.  Leave your suitcase here and let’s get something to eat”

She left the suitcase and they walked out the door.  She checked that the door was locked, it was.  Electronic signs gave instructions on how to get to the elevator.  They walked past a bathroom I didn’t notice the bathroom going in.  Maybe this is an important matter.  “Excuse me”, she said, and turned in.  The toilet was full of foam.  She emptied her bladder, wiped herself, and then looked for something to flush the toilet.  How do I flush the toilet?  She gave up, washed her hands in the sink (there were no handles - she put her hands under the spout and water turned on) and then walked out to meet Professor Danielson.

“How do I flush the toilet?”


“Yes.  When I come from, there is a handle or a button or something that flushes the toilet”

“Oh, yes, right.  Here water is precious so you don’t flush the toilet.  Takes too much water and generates too much sewage.  The urine, feces, and toilet paper are broken down by the foam and then drained once or twice a day.  By the way, the only things that go in the toilet are pee, TP, poo, and puke.  Floss, paper towels, sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms, all are forbidden.”

“The toilets on the timeship flush”

“I didn’t know that”

“Have you ever been on a timeship?”

“I briefly toured yours, but that was only for a few hours, so the issue didn’t come up.  Shall we get something to eat?”

They walked to a low building, a cafeteria.  There were sinks, so they washed their hands.  They got trays, went through the line.  Each item was labeled with what it was, what it was made from, and how many Joules it contained.

“Isn’t a calorie a metric unit?”, She asked.

“Well, it is a metric unit, but it isn’t an MKS unit, so they changed to Joules everywhere in the world”


“Meters, Kilograms, Seconds.  Did you not learn this in elementary school?”

“Well, I learned the metric system, but North Americans in the 21st Century still used the English system.”

“I will make sure you get some training in modern measurement.  Anyway, a Calorie is a metric unit for energy, but it isn’t defined in terms of Meters, Kilograms, and seconds.  A Joule is the amount of kinetic energy in an object of 1 Kilogram mass moving at 1 meter per second”.

She made an effort to pick low calorie foods (she still thought in terms of calories).  They got to the end of the line.  A red laser scanned her tray, and a yellow light turned on above a plate on the wall.  Deborah put her hand against the plate.  The light turned green and then a wiper swept over the plate.

“Professor, I’ve noticed something.  You didn’t shake hands with me, the traditional greeting.  Each plate has a wiper that wipes it, except for the plate in the building you met me at, which you cleaned by hand.  What’s the deal?”

“There are a lot of diseases that are communicated through shaking hands, touching contaminated surfaces, and so on.  We try to minimize that.  It is cheaper to prevent disease than it is to treat it.”

“I notice that nobody seems to be smoking”


“Inhaling burning tobacco leaves”

“Ah yes.  That went out of vogue about 150 years ago”

“What happened to AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis?”

“AIDs was eradicated by a vaccine.  You should go to student health and get a shot.  Gonorrhea and syphilis are still around, but infection rates are very low because everybody uses condoms.

“I’m not planning on having sex with anybody.”

“Suit yourself”

“What about Chicken Pox, Measles, Rubella?”

“All eradicated by vaccine in most parts of the world.  We still vaccinate against them.

“The common cold?  Influenza?”
        “There is a combination cold and influenza vaccine that you get every year in October.  It seems to work pretty well, although people still get colds”

“What about chronic diseases: arthritis, diabetes, cancer?”

“There still is cancer, but it is a relatively rare cause of death any more.  People who have a genetic disposition to certain cancers get frequent screenings for that kind of cancer, so we get them when the tumors are still small, typically a millimeter in diameter or so.  Juvenile diabetes is controlled through an artificial insulin pump.  However, genetic counseling has made juvenile diabetes relatively rare.  Adult onset diabetes is largely controlled through diet and drugs that modulate blood sugar levels.  The problem with just giving diabetics insulin is that people’s physical activity levels change from hour to hour and day to day.  Having a drug that adapts to the need reduces some of the consequences of diabetes.  However, it is cheaper to avoid diabetes in the first place, so there is an emphasis on healthy eating habits, weight control, that sort of thing.  Arthritis is still an issue, but it typically starts at about 120.”


“Years old”

“What is the life expectancy of a 22 year old now?”

“I’m not an actuary or an epidemiologist, so I don’t know the exact figure for a 22 year old.  The life expectancy of an 80 year old woman is another 50 years.”

“What do 130 year olds die from?”

“Well, basically, modern medicine has reached the limits of what it can do for people, and their bodies just wear out.  Typically, they decide that they’ve had enough for one lifetime and commit suicide”

“That sounds dreadful”

“Not at all - they’ve lived long and fulfilling lives.  One of the reasons why we had such a hard time finding anybody to go with you was because the mission was full of dangers both known and unknown, and our society has become very risk adverse.  In your day and age, and in the United States, death, and especially violent death, was remarkably common.  That led to people doing brave, or maybe foolish things, and they died young.  This was especially true for black people.  Your governments seemed to feel that this was acceptable.  Eventually, a political consensus developed, all over the world, that quality of life was an acceptable goal”

“Did we come up with a solution for global warming?”

“Fortunately, nuclear fusion technology was developed in time.  I think had it waited another 50 years, it would be too late.  Once we stopped using hydrocarbons for everything, CO2 levels went back to normal in about 75 years.”

“What about wind power, solar power, tidal power, geothermal energy, nuclear power, energy conservation?”

“They are part of the mix, but every one of those has problems that make them less than ideal.  For example, your century left us with a terrible legacy of toxic radioactive waste.  We still don’t know what to do with a lot of it, other than let it sit and decay.  We also spend a lot of energy desalinating water, which was a major factor in pacifying the Middle East.  All over the planet, there is a shortage of water.  Incidentally, large scale desalination of water was part of the solution to the global warming problem: it allowed us to grow more trees in more places.  There are very few deserts now. ”.

“Even on the east side of the Cascade mountains in Washington and Oregon?”

“Water on the West side is diverted through tunnels to the growing areas on the east side of the mountains”.

“I should spend more time learning about the past 250 years”

“My suggestion is that you complete your mission, and then you will have plenty of time to study history”


As she got more and more practice with the learning machine, Deborah could spend more and more time in it.  Eventually, she got up to 12 hours a day.  She needed 8 hours of sleep and spent the remaining 4 hours doing self maintenance - exercising, eating, and coaching from Prof. Danielson, the only person she saw on a regular basis.  She spoke to nobody else, and nobody else spoke to her.  Somebody was doing her laundry for her, because her dirty clothes pile would vanish after she left for the morning and a clean clothes pile, neatly folded and  smelling fresh, would appear in the evening.

Seasons went by.  Deborah knew that it was fall because the trees were losing their leaves.  She knew it was winter because there was snow on the ground.  Mittens and a hat mysteriously appeared.  Then the snow disappeared and leaves started sprouting on the trees.  It was now light when she started in the morning and still light when she left in the evening.

One day, Prof. Danielson took her to his office.  A woman and a man where there, waiting for them, seated around a table. The woman was old, the man looked in his late 20’s or early 30’s.  She looks vaguely familiar - I have seen her before….

Prof. Danielson handled introductions, but poorly.  “I would like you to meet Deborah Schwartz.  Deborah, this is you, 60 years from now.  This is James.  Please, sit down”.  They sat.

James spoke.  “Ms. Schartz, you have received enough training at this point to begin your mission.  It is rather imperative that you begin your mission as soon as possible.  Therefore, we are going to break off your training now and resume it when you arrive in 2456”

“How much time has elapsed since I arrived at the University of Chicago?”

“2-½ years”, Prof Danielson replied.

“What are the three laws of Robotics?”, Deborah (the older) asked her.

Deborah (the younger) recited:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Not only that, but I know who Isaac Asimov is!

“Please recite from the book of Daniel, Chapter 6, verse 6”, Deborah (the elder) said.

אֱדַיִן גֻּבְרַיָּא אִלֵּךְ, אָמְרִין, דִּי לָא נְהַשְׁכַּח לְדָנִיֵּאל דְּנָה, כָּל-עִלָּה; לָהֵן, הַשְׁכַּחְנָא עֲלוֹהִי בְּדָת אֱלָהֵהּ.  

Deborah (the younger) replied.  Where the hell did that come from - and I think it is correct!

“And that means?” James asked.

“Then said these men: 'We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him in the matter of the law of his God.' “  Deborah replied, again.

“It also means that you fulfilled part of the agreement about curriculum”, Deborah (the elder) said.

It’s a synthetic memory!

“How much iron shot is in the shell of your timeship?”, James asked her.

“6.42 times ten to the 11th Kilograms”, Deborah answered.  Another synthetic memory.

“Are you satisfied?”, Prof. Danielson asked.

“I am”, said James.

“So am I”, said Deborah (the elder).  “However, I would like to take her for a walk around the campus, and have a chance to talk to her”

“We don’t have time for that”, James snarled.

“We do, too.  It just means that she will travel in time an hour less than she would otherwise”.

“We have already granted you several concessions”.

“Given the importance of this mission, those concessions were reasonable.  More than reasonable - I would have asked for a lot more had you asked me in time”.

“We’re giving her the timeship and trusting her with it”

“Because nobody else from this time would go.  She is a valuable commodity, and that’s worth spending something on.  Deborah, come along, we’re leaving”.  Deborah (the elder) stood.  Deborah (the younger) looked at Prof. Danielson.

“Go with her.  Come back before sunset”, he said.

Deborah (the younger) stood up, and followed Deborah (the elder) out the door.  They walked down the hall, passed the security desk, and walked out into the sunshine.

“What was that all about?”, Deborah (the younger) asked.

“Well, we have invested a great deal of time and energy in preparing for this mission.  The timeship had to be readied, and you had to be trained.  Your training had to be compressed because you were going on this mission all by yourself.”

“Why am I going alone?”

“Nobody else from this time would volunteer, and we could think of nobody as well qualified as you.  We talked about this 2-½ years ago.”

“There are lots of people who know more about the era of the Judges than I do”

“None of whom are 24 years old females.  Remember, you are going to marry a man about 8 years your junior in an age where the average life expectancy is 40 years.

“You have enough training to fly the timeship, take it into combat, and repair it under various extremes of damage with the assistance of the computer.  However, you are lacking in enough training to fix things if the computer breaks down.  We compensated for this by giving a computer that is 7 way redundant.  Because we made this change at the last minute, it isn’t in the plans.

“I asked for some concessions in your training curriculum.  I got them”

“What did you ask for?”

“The entire Book of Daniel in Hebrew and English, plus some of the more important Jewish commentaries.”

“Why, thank you”.

 They walked on in silence.  There’s something she’s not telling me.  I wonder if there is some time-paradox that she’s avoiding.

“Is there something important that you’re not telling me?”

“There is so much I want to tell you.  In the past 2-½ years, I wrote them down and stored in them your ship’s library.  Some of them are practical, such as where and when I searched, so you will know what not to waste your time looking at.  Some of it is wisdom.  Some of it is battle instructions that they wouldn’t let me include, because they don’t trust your ethical sensibilities.  One of the reasons why are walking around the campus is that it is hard to eavesdrop on people walking in the outdoors when they have an acoustic field generator.  You and I can hear each other clearly, but anybody farther than 2 meters from us will hear an unpleasant hissing noise.

“Why is this mission so dangerous?”

“If we make a trip into the future, and the timeship breaks down, there is infrastructure to repair it for its journey home.  When you go 3000 years into the past and anything breaks down, you have to fix it yourself or else you are stuck in the past forever.  Nobody from this time would accept leaving all that infrastructure.  They’re so afraid, they won’t even shake hands.

“Also, whoever changed the past may be willing to fight you to stop you, or fight you to prevent you from stopping them.  The timeship is heavily armed so that can go into battle in space or on the ground.  We didn’t tell the people you will be meeting in 2456 that, because such devices are illegal and because they can’t keep secrets”

“I remember battle plans - they are synthetic memories.  I also remember performance characteristics of the weapons - the antiproton beam can put out 1 Petawatt for 30 seconds, which will cost 3 kilograms of Iron shot.”


“When I dropped you off in my apartment, you said you  would never travel in time again.  What changed your mind? “

“I lived in Seattle for 20 years, writing  a textbook on time travel.  When the  conspiracy found out what I had done, they brought me here three years ago.  I don’t know why they let me stay in Seattle for 20 years - maybe they hoped I would be a pushover by the time I reached my mid 80s.  Boy, were they wrong about that”.

“The conspiracy?”

“Yes.  The conspiracy has sponsored the entire mission: the design, creation and stocking of the timeship, fetching me, fetching you, our tuition, the learning machine, even your laundry”

“I wondered about that”.

“The only people from the conspiracy that you’ve met are James and me.”

“Prof. Danielson?”

“A paid contractor.”

“I thought he cared about me!”

“A nanny can care about her charges and still get paid for them”

“Tell me more about the conspiracy”

“I can’t.  I don’t even know James’ last name.  Look, it’s getting late, we should turn around and walk back”


They turned around and started walking back the way they came.

“I feel that there is more that you want to tell me.”

“I have been granted an extremely rare gift: the ability to talk to my younger self”

“You remember this discussion?”

“Yes, I do”

“Then the words should come easily to your lips”

“No, I didn’t know what to say then, and I don’t know what to say now.”

They walked a few more tens of meters.

“If you find Lapidot, marry him, and become a Judge in Israel, I want you to advocate for the rights of women.”

“Count on it”

“Have children”


“Because we want to.  I never had any, and now of course it is too late”

“If I have a husband and children and grandchildren, I will have to mourn them when I return, because not only will they be dead, but they will be reduced to nothing but bones, and perhaps even less than that.  Not only will I be a widow, but all of the my friends will be dead and forgotten”.

“That’s part of the price we pay for love.  However, the price of the alternative is loneliness.

“The medium of exchange in that time and place is copper.  The timeship carries tens of metric tons of copper, shaped into disks about the size and shape of an old penny”


“Sorry - I changed the subject.  In order to buy what you want, use copper.  Silver is so valuable, that it is hard for ordinary people to obtain it, and it is hard to transact business with it.  Gold is practically impossible.”

“I don’t remember that”

“It’s not in your curriculum.  We don’t know much about the language from that time and place.  My suggestion is that the first you do is kidnap a resident and use the learning machine and a telepathy pill to get a crash course in ancient hebrew.”

James came running out to meet them.  He was breathless.

“The chronopolice are coming!”

“Deborah, run!”, Deborah (the elder) screamed.

Deborah took off like a rabbit.  James followed her, but he didn’t have the aerobic conditioning she had.  She got to the door.  It was locked.  She saw Prof. Danielson inside, yelling something at her.  She couldn’t hear what he said.  Then he held up his hand.  Palm Lock!  She pressed her hand against the scanner.  The light turned green and the door opened.

“Hurry”, Prof. Danielson urged.

They ran down the hall.

“What’s happened?”, Deborah demanded.

“Our spies in the chronopolice have learned that the chronopolice are coming here and now.  We’ve got to get you out of here”

“I thought time travel was legal if you went to the future”

“It is, but you’re going to the past.  Somehow, your mission profile leaked.  Where did you park your timeship?”

“Lagrange 5”

“Summon it, quickly”

Deborah pulled out her medallion.



“This is an emergency.  Use time travel to go into a low earth orbit.  I want you to appear above - Prof. Danielson, what’s the longitude of Chicago?”

“87.6° West”

“90 ° West, altitude 200 Kilometers.  When you arrive, beam me aboard.  Once I am on board, use time travel to go to Lagrange 2”

“Understood.  Use time travel to go to circular orbit altitude 200 Kilometers, beam you aboard, then use time travel to go to Langrange”



“I have a present for you”, Prof. Danielson said, handing her something wrapped in kraft paper.

“Why, thank you, Prof.”, she said and then she was gone.

The prisoner, 2456

Deborah sat in the flight deck.  Two and half years ago, this was a strange and terrifying place.  Now, everything was familiar, she knew what to do.



“Please call up the next step in my itinerary”

“The next step in the itinerary is to go to May 14th, 2456 and meet with President Ralph Forrester concerning the prisoner”

“Is there a suitable Chronobeacon for the trip?”

“There is: Deborah Schwartz Alpha Echo Fox two four zero zero zero Charlie Echo three”

“Okay, take me there”

“Understood.  We have arrived”

“Contact orbital control and inform them of our arrival, please”

“Orbital control sends its greetings and asks us to enter a semicircular orbit with apogee 850 Kilometers and perigee 750 Kilometers, inclination 15 degrees,  apogee at 81° west.”

“Make it so”

“Course change in 35 seconds”

“Thank you, Adelle”

“You are receiving a call from the the President of the planet Earth”

“So soon?”

“They knew exactly when and where you would arrive, so they gave you some time to make any orbital changes required and now they are ready to talk with you”

“Is this video or just voice?  What kind of call is it?”

“3D high definition video and quadraphonic sound over IPv6”

“What is the protocol for meeting the President?  Do I stand?  Salute?  Shake hands?

“I think if just stay seated, then you will be fine.  He won’t see anything above your shoulders”

“How is my hair?”

“Considering that he is asking you to save the world, spend some time with a war criminal, and take on an unknown risk, I would say that it is fine.”

“Oh.  I guess I should take the call.  Open the channel”

“Ms. Schwartz, I am President Ralph Forester”

“Pleased to meet you, Mr. President”.

“I would like you to meet with me and discuss your mission and your crew”

“Mr. President, I am rapidly leaving transporter range.  May I meet with you in about an hour from now?”

“Where do you think I am?”

“In Washington, D.C.”

“I’m in Bassel, Switzerland”

“Oh.  In that case, I am in range now”

“Please beam down to the south entrance.  My security team will meet you and escort you into my office”

“Very well”

“Good bye, Ms. Schwartz”

“Good bye, Mr. President”

The connection closed.  “Oh, shit - did I just agree to meet with the President of the World in person?”

“You did”

“What was I thinking?”

“You were thinking that the President had something so sensitive to say to you, that he couldn’t broadcast it across the Internet.  Maybe he wants to wish you luck.  But you agreed to go, so you have to go.  Be brave.  This is a friendly meeting.”

Deborah beamed down to the front lawn.  She was carefully checked by the guards and then escorted to the president’s office.  In addition to the President and the usual retinue of security agents, there was a man dressed in red pajamas, with his hands behind his back.

“Mr. President”, Deborah said, “How might I be of service?”

“Ms. Schwartz”, President Ralph replied, “I want you to do me a favor.  This man “, he indicated the man in the red pajamas, “is a war criminal.  He have tried to rehabilitate him, but he stubbornly refuses to renounce his thinking.  The problem is that we really can’t hold him any longer, because the law doesn’t allow that.  Yet at the same time, he is a menace to society.

“We have an idea: take him with you to the past, which is a very violent place and time, and let him spread his knowledge of war there, where he will be free.”

“What is your name”, Deborah asked the man.

“Walter Brown”, the man replied.

“Walter, what is the nature of your war crime?”

“I believe that we are being reckless in not preparing for a war.  Humans have always been at war with one another, and our current period of peace is not likely to prevail.  If we don’t prepare for war, then when it happens, we will be unprepared for it and that unpreparedness will hurt us”

“Mr. Brown, who would we wage a war with?”, the President asked.

“Some disaffected minority, or a region could elect a demagogue.  There could be a plague, which would disrupt civil order.  We must be prepared”, Walter replied.

“He’s been in therapy for years.  We have had him have arguments with philosophers, with government planners, even with retired generals.  Everybody on planet earth wants peace - except him.  That’s why we want you to take him back to the past, either to see the effects of war first hand or else leave him there where he can live out his life as a warrior”.

“Mr. President”, Deborah began, “The world that you are describing sounds like a utopia.  Aren’t you afraid that whatever I do in the past is going to wreck it?”

“No, we’re confident that you are going to go back in the past and fix whatever was broken.  That you always did that.  Your memory is going to be revered, because you are the woman who brought us time travel technology.  We can now peer into the future, see the results of our policies, and correct for them.  We believe that you taking Mr. Brown with you is going to help you in some way.”

“Do you know what it is I am supposed to do in the past?”

“Yes, we do.  You are supposed to fight a war.  Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly when.  Sometime between 3650 years ago and 3700 years.  Incidentally, that is the longest time travel movement known.  We know that you will do battle on the plains where the land of Canaan was, in the ancient middle east, and then you will retreat to the mountains to the east and have a mighty victory there.  Your victory will ensure 40 years of peace.  That will set history all right.”

“Could I have somebody go with me to help watch him?”

“We went over that: 1) Nobody would volunteer, 2) We don’t have the authority to draft somebody for the job, and 3) Another mouth to feed would strain the ship’s store of food”

“Can he be trusted?”

“He is under your command.  We think he understands that - he has a military mind”

“Mr Brown”, Deborah turned to him, “Are you really willing to be my crew and go on this mission, even though the risks are unknown?”

“Ms. Schwartz”, Walter replied, “I am unsuitable for this time.  I am utterly convinced that my reasoning is correct and unassailable.  When I go back in time, I will be in world of great violence.  I believe that would be a better time for me.”

“You are willing to serve under my command, faithfully?”

“I understand the necessity of recognizing my commanding officer”

“What is it you really want?”

“I want to go someplace where I can live out my life without having to change my world view”

“Mr. President, is this really the right course of action?”

“Ms. Schwartz, we have had a long discussion about this, both in this time and in 2372, and we believe that this is the best course of action”

“Mr. President, it seems to me that, in the hundreds of years to prepare for this moment, you could have found somebody else, raised them explicitly for this mission, and sent them”.

“Ms. Schwartz, there are some things about time travel that were not explained to you in 2372.    This is by design.  Suffice to say, there were some good, solid reasons for planning this mission in this way.  It pains me to withhold some information from you, and in fact, it is illegal, but it is necessary.  We can discuss it when, and if, you return.”

“Mr. President, I must admit I have a certain reluctance to undertake this mission, because I think of so many alternatives.  However, I am very interested in Jewish history, and the opportunity to go to this place and time is fascinating.  Therefore, I will go.  Furthermore, I will return”

“Thank you, Ms. Schwartz.  Please take Mr. Brown into custody.  When you are ready to release him from his bounds, simply press your thumb against the black rectangle: that will unlock them.”

“Very well.  Is there anything else?”

“No.  Good luck.  You have about 10 minutes while you are still in transporter range”

“Alright.  It was a pleasure meeting you Mr. President”

“You are a brave young woman.  I look forward to seeing you again in a few minutes”

“I’m sorry?”

“You will return to the same Chronobeacon”

“Oh.  Yes.  Quite so”

Deborah took her medallion, and pressed the button.

“Yes”, Adelle answered.

“Two to beam up”

And she and Walter Brown were gone.

Back... way back

“Well, Walter, are you ready?”

“I think so.”

“Do you want to make some sort of inspiring statement before we engage in the longest time travel ever attempted”

“Who would hear such a statement?”


“Oh.  Nothing particularly interesting comes to mind.  How about you?”

“How about ‘That’s one small step for a woman, one giant leap for human kind’”?

“Not bad, not bad at all.  Is it a quotation from somebody?”

“Yes, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon July 20th, 1969, he said something similar, but sexist”

“You wouldn’t want to be sexist”


“You realize that when and where you are going, you are going to experience much discrimination on account of your gender.”

“I know”

They sat in silence.

“Are you ready to press the button?”, Walter asked.

“Everything is laid in, I suppose I should get on with it”

“Adelle”, Deborah raised her voice.


“Travel backwards in time 3700 years”


“Are we there yet?”, Walter asked.

“Yes, we are.”

“How can you tell?”

“Look at the shoreline of Italy.  The Italian peninsula is very active geologically - it has gone up and down several meters in the past few thousand years.  Right now, it is down 2 meters from what it was in 2013.”

“Okay, now what?”

“We have to have a language lesson”

Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmetic

“What’s the plan?”

“Well, I have a knowledge of modern Hebrew from my studies.  Ancient Hebrew is similar, but different.  I am going to kidnap somebody who is a native speaker, and bring him or her back up here, and then learn the language from him or her using a telepathy drug/machine combination.  It should be relatively easy for me, because I already know modern Hebrew, but these people speak ancient hebrew or maybe even something that is similar to hebrew but different”.

“Sounds vaguely unethical”

“I’m open to suggestions.  I don’t want to go down there and make a lot of linguistic mistakes”

“Couldn’t you use the language pills?”

“I am planning on meeting with a large number of people - making them take a pill, especially when they’ve never seen a pill, seems unlikely.  Besides, I have to fight a war.  I am going to kill people.  That’s unethical, too”.

“Aren’t you going to kill the bad guys?”

“Walter, while I am gone, I want you to go to the ship’s library and read the book of Joshua.  It makes for unpleasant reading - the Hebrews basically committed genocide on the Canaanites, at God’s command”.

“I like it already”

“And that’s why you are a war criminal and I am your jailer”

“So what’s your plan?”

“I’m going to beam down after sunset, find somebody wandering in the street, tranquilize him or her with a dart, then beam them up, give them a telepathy drug and the learning machine, and then get a language lesson”

“Why use a dart?”
“The transporter relies on the communicator to get a fix on what it is supposed to transport.  It can’t just transport some random person, it has to know where the person is.  So one of us has to be there. If I tranquilize him or her, they will hopefully think the experience is a dream”


“We have tranquilizer darts with an effective reaction time of 5 seconds.  But I have to deliver the dart to the neck.”

“Since you want to be stealthy, you might want to use a pneumatic pistol instead of a rifle.”

“Ok, I can use a pistol”

“That means you will need to be within 5 meters of your victim to get the best shot.”

“Maybe I should practice a little”

“Good idea”

“I’ll rig up a training”

“I used the replicator to create a reasonably realistic simulation of what you are trying to do.  Remember that this is a training exercise, the real thing is going to be much more dramatic and stressful”, Walter explained.

“I will remember”



“Dim the lights”

The room plunged into darkness.  Deborah crouched in the darkness, next to a building.  Her target walked out of the building, away from her.  She carefully pulled her pneumatic pistol from her cloak, activated the infrared laser, and very quietly crept after the man, crouching low.  Unfortunately, her cloak was designed for somebody her height walking erect, and she tripped over the edge of it, and fell flat on her face.   Lights turned on.

“What went wrong?”

“I tripped over my cloak”

“Let’s review the video”

Deborah watched the light-enhanced recording of her actions.  In the enhanced light, she was very visible.  Under real lighting conditions, she would be hard to see, but not invisible.  She watched herself come out from cover, crouching.  She paid attention to her foot work, saw that she had indeed gotten tangled in her cloak, and fallen.

“Maybe I should gather up my cloak?”

“No, you want to keep your left hand free.  Didn’t you ever wear a dress or a long skirt?”

“Not really.  Maybe I should just wear pants”

“Does anybody in this time wear pants?”


“Well, if anybody spots you wearing pants, then you are going to have a hard time explaining your clothing.  This is important - if our mission is to succeed, then you have to learn how to work covertly.

“Thank you”

“Try shortening the cloak about 15 centimeters”

Walter and Deborah walked out of the empty cargo bay and across the hall to a machine shop.  She found a pair of scissors and clipped off 15 centimeters of cloak.  That left a rough hem, but she could deal with that later.

Deborah crouched in the darkness, next to a building.  Her target walked out of the building, away from her.  She carefully pulled a pneumatic pistol from her cloak, activated the infrared laser, and very quietly crept after the man, crouching low.  She was 10 meters behind.  She walked faster to get close enough to fire the dart.  Suddenly, her target turned around, grabbed her by the wrist, and dropped her to the ground.  The lights turned on.


“I heard you”

“Yeah, but why am I on the ground?”
“I wanted to teach you a little bit about Akido.  Are you alright?”

“I’m bruised and angry”

“I could teach you how to do that”

“I don’t need a lesson in how to be angry”

Deborah got up, and brushed herself off.

“I’m beginning to think that this dart business is a bad idea.”, Walter said.

“I think that this Akidio business is a good idea”


“Imagine I am talking to a potential warrior.  Wouldn’t it be cool if a 60 kilogram woman could drop a 80 kilogram trained warrior without killing him?  That might be a powerful recruiting tool”


“Okay.  Let’s try again, and then I can teach you martial arts when we have more time”

Deborah crouched in the darkness, next to a building.  Her target walked out of the building, away from her.  She carefully pulled a pneumatic pistol from her cloak, activated the infrared laser, and very quietly crept after the man, crouching low.  She was 10 meters behind him.  Walking carefully, she got closer to him.  He walked past a building.  She ducked behind the building and looked around.  Nobody there.  Then she came out hiding, and, walking carefully, she crept towards him.  When she estimated that she was 5 meters behind him, she raised her pistol, looked through the sight, and fired.

“Ouch - that hurts”

The lights came on.  Walter reached behind his neck and pulled out the dart.

“Very good.  I didn’t hear you at all.  I think you are ready”

As the sun set on the eastern Mediterranean,  Deborah beamed down 500 meters from a large town.  The town wasn’t on any of her maps, so she didn’t know the name of it, but it was the largest town in the area, and she decided that this would be the best place to start her search.

She was dressed in a dark cloak, and she wore dark makeup on her hands and face.  She walked to the town, and listened.  She heard the sounds of conversation coming from a building.  Inside the building, she could hear the sounds of men talking and laughing.  She could understand only every 5th word or so.

This is going to be more difficult than I thought.

Two men walked out the building, still talking and laughing in the night.  Deborah stayed low and out of sight.

Two more men walked out of the building, and turned toward her.  Fortunately, in the dark they didn’t see her.  She could hear her heart pounding, felt the adrenaline flowing.

One man walked out of the building, staggering a bit.  He walked away from her.  She pulled the pneumatic pistol from her cloak.  She watched her victim.  He was still walking away from her, and still having troubles walking a straight line.   She crept behind, trying as hard to be as quiet as a cat, as quiet as snow falling.  She was within 10 meters of the man.  Heart pounding like a drum.

He must be really drunk - he can’t hear my heart

5 meters now.  She looked around - nobody but some mules, or were they donkeys? in a pen.   3 meters now.  Carefully, quietly, just like in the training exercise.   She raised her pneumatic gun, looked through the sight, and shot the man in the back of the neck.  He didn’t shout, which was A Good Thing, but he did grunt audibly, and reached back to his neck, pulled the dart out.  He then turned around and looked at her.  She looked at him.  He tried to say something, but instead fell to his knees, and then fell flat on his face.  Deborah pulled out her medallion, and pushed the button.



“2 to beam up”

And they were gone.

Walter was waiting for her in the transporter room.  “That was fast”, he said.

“It’s a funny thing, but real combat is a lot more stressful than training exercises.”

“I believe I said that”

“You did, but the training was so real that I didn’t believe you.”

“I’m not offended - that’s a common reaction.  Welcome to the Real World”

“Let’s get our captive secured”

The man was about 160 centimeters tall, and weighed about 70 kilograms.  He had a short gray beard and a moustache.  His hair reached to his shoulders.  He was wearing a tan cloak with a rope securing it at the waist.  He wore leather sandals.

Walter and Deborah  secured him into a chair by binding his wrists and ankles to the chair.

“Let’s get him to the autodoc”

They wheeled him down the hall, through the airlock, and into the autodoc.

“Is this the test subject?”, the autodoc asked.

“Yes”, Deborah answered.

“Very well.  I am going to give him a complete physical examination first, and then we can proceed with the knowledge transfer process.  Please come back in 10 minutes”

Walter and Deborah left the autodoc and went to the kitchen.  Deborah fixed herself some mint tea while Walter served himself some chocolate ice cream.  They sat in silence, each thinking their own thoughts.  I hope this works, that this man is learned enough to be helpful.  I ought to ask him who are the wisest people in town, and dart them.  After 9 minutes, they put their dirty dishes away and went back to the autodoc.


“He seems reasonably healthy.  He has a vitamin B deficiency.  He has three cavities in his teeth, one of which has reached the root and has infected the tooth.  It really ought to be replaced or filled.  It’s painful.  His left leg had a fracture of the tibia and fibia which did not knit properly.  His blood alcohol concentration is .12% so he is impaired.  However, it is safe to use the telepathy drug and hook him up to the learning machine.”

“Okay, give him the shot and hook him to the learning machine.  Walter and I will be on the main flight deck with our learning machines.”

Walter and Deborah walked to the flight deck, assumed their seats, and put their learning helmets on.

“Ready at this end”, the autodoc announced.

“I’m ready”

“I’m ready”

They started with nouns.  Pictures of things flashed on monitors before Walter and Deborah, and the same images flashed on a monitor in front of their prisoner.  The prisoner thought of the word and it became a memory for Walter and Deborah.  After this had gone on for a couple of hours, they had to slow down because they had to show movies of people and things doing something: verbs.  Adjectives were next.  Colors were easy to do, because they could be represented as abstractions.  Adverbs were the hardest of all, so Walter took a telepathy pill and began sending concepts into the prisoner’s brain, and getting the appropriate word out and into Deborah’s brain.  The conversation was recorded so that Walter could catch up on it later.

After about 12 hours of this, the prisoner fell asleep.  Deborah and Walter decided that they could use some rest as well, so they agreed to get 8 hours of sleep and then resume the interrogation.

6 hours later, the autodoc woke up Deborah.

“Please come visit the prisoner right away”

Deborah got out of bed, dressed in a fresh jumpsuit, and went to the autodoc.  The prisoner was awake, and fighting to get out of his restraints.

“What’s wrong?”

“He is going through alcohol withdrawal, exacerbated by severe psychological stress and that is causing delirium tremens.  May I suggest that he get a Benzodiazepine?”

“What’s that?”

“A class of drugs used to treat convulsions.”

“Is it safe?”

“It’s safe for short term use.”


A robotic arm came down and secured his shoulder.  Then another robotic arm came down and gave him an injection in his upper arm.   He screamed.  Then the arms went away.

“Hello”, she said to him in what she hoped was fluent ancient hebrew, “What is your name?”

He stopped struggling and stared at her.  I’ll bet he’s never been restrained like this, never seen artificial light, never been in a room with square corners, never seen a woman in a jumpsuit or maybe never even seen somebody wear pants.

“Gamaliel son of Gomer”.  

“My name is Deborah daughter of Sarah”

“Where am I?”

“Gamaliel, you’ve been drinking too much and you are having a bad dream.”

He struggled some more.  “I want some wine”

“I know.  I’m not going to let you have any until you help me”

“What do you want from me?”

“I want you to help me and my friend learn the language”

“Why?”  That’s a damm good question.  I can’t tell him the truth, but what is a good story that will reassure him?

“I’ve come from far away, and I want to trade with your people.  I have many things to sell you, and I think you have some things that I could buy.  I have to talk to you and your nation”

“What did you do to my arm?”

“You were suffering from the wine.  I gave you something to make you feel better”

“It hurt”

“Does your tooth hurt?”


“For how long has it hurt?”

“A long time”

“I could heal it for you”


“I would make you go to sleep, and while you were sleeping, I would fix the tooth.  Your tooth is sick.  I know how to heal it.  Do you want me to do that?”

“This is a bad dream?”

“Yes.  But you will remember that your tooth no longer hurts.  May I cure you?”


Deborah addressed the autodoc in English.  “How long would it take to fill the cavities and repair the infected tooth?  Also, give him a complete cleaning.  I want you to use a sedative - he’s already experienced a great deal of psychological trauma.”

“It would take about 5 hours”

“Alright, then do it.  Also, give him a long lasting analgesic”

Deborah turned back to Gamaliel.

“Gamaliel: you are going to go to sleep now, and when you wake up, your tooth will not hurt”

Gamaliel smiled, and then promptly went to sleep.  Deborah turned and left.

They kept him for another day.  They had a long conversation about farming, the economy, the local political situation and life in general.  Gamaliel, it turned out, was a leather worker.  He had a son, 15, and a daughter, 17.  The daughter was expecting a child soon.  He was a widower, his wife having died in childbirth 10 years ago.  There was a widow in the village that he was fond of.  Deborah and Gamaliel rehearsed some ways of going about wooing her.  Walter queried him about weapons, but Gamaliel knew very little about that.  

Gamaliel grew tired, so they told him to lie down on a couch - he was soon fast asleep.  When the ship was in range and it was dark on the ground, they beamed him back down.

Here comes the Judge

Deborah scanned the area near Ramah, and found a spot nearby where there were no people within view.  So she marked to Adelle where to she wanted to go and walked into the transporter.  And she was gone.

Deborah walked into the village of Ramah.  The air was hot, dry and dusty.  The fields were pale brown.  She walked past the living spaces of the people and came to the central well.  She got herself some water, and surreptitiously (she hoped) dropped a water purification pill into her water skin.  She saw a group of men, sitting on the ground, in the shade.  She went to talk to them.  This was going to be her first test to see if she really had learned the language well enough to talk to somebody in the field.

“I am looking for a man named Lapidot”

The men looked at one another.

“Do you know Lapidot?”

“How about you - do you know Lapidot?”

“I don’t know Lapidot”

“None of you know Lapidot”, Deborah said.

“What do you know of him?”  One of the men asked her.

“I don’t know much about him”, she admitted, “Only that he lives either in Ramah or in Bethel”

“Try looking for him in Bethel”, one of the men said.

“Thank you.  Peace”, Deborah said, turned around and started to walk out of town.  When she had gone about 500 meters, she looked around her, saw nobody.  She pulled out her communicator medallion, touched the red button.



“Beam me up”

And she was gone.

Walter greeted her in the transport room.  “How did it go?”

“Well, I was able to talk to some men there.  I think I was able to communicate with them.  None of them commented on my accent.

“You didn’t find Lapidoth”

“No, I didn’t.  But I really didn’t expect to.  I have a lot of places to search, and a lot of times to search.”

“You didn’t spend much time there, perhaps an hour”

“You think I should have spent more time there?”

“Yes.  How many people did you talk to?”

“Maybe six”

“That’s not very many people”

“Okay, well, next time I will talk to more people”

She walked over to the scanner, and looked up Bethel.  It was about 8 Kilometers north of Ramah.  She looked for a safe spot to beam down, marked it for Adelle.  She walked over to the first aid cupboard and pulled out a tube of sunscreen, carefully applied it to her face, ears, back of neck, and hands.  Walter watched, silently.

“Walter: wish me luck”, She said.

“Good hunting”, Walter replied, deadpan.


“yes”, the computer answered.

“Beam me down”

And she was gone.

Again, it was hot and dusty.  If it is this uncomfortable in the hills, I wonder what it is like in the Negev?  Also, maybe I should be doing my searching early in the morning, local time. Maybe I should just go forward in time 6 months, and come back in the winter.  She was about 400 meters south of the town square.  The road was about 100 meters to the west.  Again, the fields were pale brown in wheat.  She walked west, until she reached the road, and then turned north towards town.

Two men were fighting, wrestling on the ground.  Both of them were bleeding, and there were stains of blood on their clothing.  A crowd of people were watching, shouting encouragement.  Deborah, being about 30 centimeters taller than the next tallest person, could easily see the action.

“What are they fighting about?”, Deborah asked one of the women watching.

“I don’t know”, she answered.

Deborah pushed through the crowd.

“Stop it!  Stop it!”, she yelled.

She grabbed one of the men by the shoulders, pulled him away from his foe.  The other man got up.  He clenched a fist, and began to punch the man Deborah was holding.  Deborah kicked him in the groin.  

“I said stop it!”

The man she was holding onto continued to struggle.


The man stopped struggling.  The other man was doubled over in pain, moaned.

“I don’t know who are, or what you are fighting about, but you are children of Israel and I expect you to act like adults.  Now, what are your names?”

The man on his feet said “Lamelech”.

The man on the ground said “Arbach.  Woman, who are you?”

“I’m Deborah, daughter of Sarah”, said Deborah.  “Now, what are you two fighting about?”

“I got this man’s daughter as a wife for my son.  My son says that she was not a virgin.  I want the bride price back”

“She is a virgin, or was a virgin”

“Is that something worth fighting over?”


The crowd was silent, watching the whole thing.

“Fighting is not going to resolve the issue.  It will only settle who is the best fighter, and maybe both of you will be hurt or killed.  This could be settled by discussion.  Look, it is hot, you are both hurt, let’s all have some water to drink, and then sit down in the shade of the tree over there and discuss this like reasonable people”

“But you’re a woman”, one of the people shouted.  “Who are you to be judge over us?”

“I’ve been a woman for a long time”, Deborah said, as sweetly as she could, given her trouble with the language, “and as for who set me to be a judge, had one of you (she indicated the crowd) stepped forward to stop the fighting, then there would be no need for me to judge you.  It takes courage to do the right thing, and you didn’t do it”.

Water skins appeared and both men drank.  Deborah decided that she could use a drink herself, Unfortunately, the water purification pill hadn’t completely dissolved yet, and the water tasted awful.  She then turned, and walked towards the tree.  The crowd parted for her.  The two men followed her.

She sat down, leaned back against the tree.  Her backpack gave her back some cushion.

“Please, friends, sit down”

The men sat down.  The three of them stared at one another for a moment.  The crowd gathered around them, watching, listening.

“Lamelech, please tell me your story”

“He’s lying”, Arbach said.

“Arbach, first of all, he hasn’t said anything yet, so you don’t know if he’s lying or not.  Second of all, you interrupted him.  That’s rude.  Let him tell his story, and then you can tell your story.  Then I will ask you questions, and then we will agree on a solution.  Lamelech, please tell me your story”.

“A year ago, my son, Amech, asked me to get him a wife.  So I went to Arbach, and asked him to give me his daughter, Alisa, as a wife to my son.  Arbach asked for 15 pieces of copper.  I am not a wealthy man, so I offered to give him 10 pieces of copper, on the condition that she was a virgin.  Arbach agreed.

“My son and Alisa married last night.  When he went into her, there was no blood, so she was not a virgin.  My son came to me and told me, so I went to see Arbach this morning to get my money back.  Arbach said that she was a virgin, and he would not give me my money back.”

“Do you have anything else to say?”, Deborah asked him

“I’m finished”

“Arbach, please tell me your story”

“I am a good father.  I raised my daughter very carefully.  She is a good girl, a true daughter of Israel.  I never had any idols in my house.  My wife or I always looked after her, we never let her alone with a man.”

“Do you have anything else to say?”, Deborah asked him.

“I’m finished”

“As a young girl, did Alisa like to run?”

“Oh yes, she could run like a deer”

“Did she climb trees?”

“Yes, she was very good about climbing trees.  She could pick olives that nobody else could reach”

“Where is Alisa?  I want to talk to her.”

“She’s not here”

Deborah raised her voice, “Please bring Alisa to me”

After a moment, a young woman was thrust through the crowd.  Her eyes were red and her tears had made tracks on the dust on her face.  Deborah looked at her.  She looked at Deborah.

“We are going to talk together, Alisa, come and walk with me.”

Deborah took off her backpack, stood up, lightly gripped Alisa’s wrist and began to move away from the crowd.  The two women had barely moved a meter when Deborah heard something behind her.  She turned around, and saw that the crowd was following them.

“The two of us are going to talk together alone.  We will return shortly”

The two of them walked another couple of meters.  Deborah turned around again.


Deborah watched this time as the crowd backed up, but did not disperse as she had hoped.

“Alisa, we are going to have to walk for a while to be alone”

So they walked for a few tens of meters into a field.  The two women looked around.  The crowd was still in the village square”

“Alisa, do you trust me to help you?”


“Okay.  I am not even going to ask you if you were a virgin or not, because I don’t think it matters”

“It does matter.  I was a virgin until last night.  As God is my judge, I was a virgin”

I think that when 21st century sexual mores meet ancient sexual mores, there is going to be a problem.  I’m not a virgin, and I wonder if Lapidot is going to be as concerned about that as this Amech is.

“Alisa, I happen to know that the virgin blood is not a perfect sign of virginity.  You could have broken the hymen while climbing a tree”


“The skin that covers the opening to your womb is called the hymen.  It’s a Greek word”

You idiot.  Not only are you having language troubles, but you are talking about a people that not only has this girl never heard of, but don’t even exist yet.  Some judge you are.  You have no sensitivity to the traditions of this time and place - what makes you think you can judge these people?

“Never mind.  I believe you.  All I have to do is convince Amech that you were a virgin.  Let me think about that”

The two women walked on in the sunshine.

“Alisa, what do you want to do once you are married?”

“I want to be a loved wife and have sons”

“Not daughters?”

“I want to give Amech a son, who will grow up and be strong”

I am going to have a lot of trouble

“Alisa, I have an idea.  You say that you want to have a son.  I think Amech wants a son, too.  Maybe, if you both want the same thing, then there is a way to come to an agreement.  He wants a son, you want a son.  So give him a son”

“If God wills it”

“God works in his own ways.  Let’s go back to the village, I want to talk to Amech”

They turned around and walked back to the village.  The crowd was waiting patiently for them.

Don’t these people have anything else to do?

“I want to talk to Amech”, Deborah announced.

“I am Amech”, a young man, maybe 15 years old, said.

“Good, walk with me”

They walked off together.  This time, the crowd stayed in the square.

“Amech, what do you want from your marriage”

“I don’t understand - what you mean, what do I want?”

“Well, you told your father to get you a wife, yes?”


“Well, why did you ask to get a wife?”

“All men get wives”

“Yes, but you are not all men, you are Amech.  So why did you ask for a wife?”

“I...  I.... I don’t know.”

“Well, there are lots of reasons.  You might want somebody to clean the house, milk the goats, plow the fields.  You might want somebody to talk to.  You might want a woman who can sing pleasantly.  You might might want a woman who will give you sons and daughters.  What do you want?”

“I would like to have a son”

“Not a daughter”

“Well, my wife gives me a daughter, then that would be good.  I really want a son”

“Well, I asked Alisa the very same question, and she wants to give you a son”

“She does?”

“Yes, she really wants to make you happy”

“She does?  Then why did she dishonor me by saying she was a virgin when she wasn’t?”

“Amech, maybe she is telling the truth.”

“But there was no blood”

“Sometimes, there isn’t.  You can’t tell if she is a virgin or not.  You have to take her word for it.”

Amech did not say anything, and Deborah was content to let him think about it.

“Maybe I was wrong?”

“Maybe you were”

“I have an idea.  Alisa is a beautiful woman, is she not?”

“Very beautiful”

“You want to have a son, she wants to give you a son”


“Why don’t the two of you be together for a year.  If, in a year’s time, you don’t have a child, then you can divorce her”

“A year?”

“No matter how many women you put to work, it still takes nine months to have a baby”

Frederick Brooks, from the Mythical Man-Month.  This mission is really frying my mind.  Now, I’m spouting quotations

“That is a very strange thing to say”

“Yes, it was.  I’m sorry.  Amech, are you willing to try Alisa for a year?  And see what happens?”

“Yes.  Will you come back in a year?”

“I will be here in a year.  Now, you have to do your part.  You have to know her every night.  You have to be good to her, not raise your voice at her, not to beat her, or spread tales about her.  You must be gentle and kind.  Do we have an agreement?”


“Good.  Let’s go back and talk to Alisa”

They turned around and walked back to the village.  The crowd was still there.

“I want to talk to Amech and Alisa alone together”, Deborah announced.

Alisa stepped forward.

“Amech, hold her hand”


“Hold her hand.  With your hand”

Amech didn’t move a muscle.

Deborah took his left hand, took Alisa’s right hand, put them together, and folded their fingers together.

The crowd gasped.

Maybe that wasn’t the best thing to do.

“Walk with me”, Deborah commanded.

They walked.

“Alisa, Amech.  You are now husband and wife.  I expect you to live together for a whole year.  You will be faithful to each other.  You will care for each other.  Amech, you will know your wife, Alisa, every night that you can.  At the end of a year, I will come back here, and if you still are unhappy with her, then you can divorce and Arbach will give the money back.  But if you are happy with her, then you stay married and Arbach can keep the money.  Can you do that?”

“I can do that”, Alisa said.

“I can do that”, Amech said.

“Beautiful.  Now, all I have to do is convince your fathers.  Let’s go back to the village”

They turned and walked back to the village.

“By the way, what do you think of holding hands?”, Deborah asked them.

“I like it”, Alisa said.

“Good, you are married now, you should hold hands often”

Like I wish Allen had had held my hand.

They got back to the village square.  Deborah sat down in the shade of the tree.  She looked at the crowd, at Arbach and Lamelech.  The crowd, Arbach, and Lamelech looked at her.  Deborah decided to heighten the drama, so she quietly took her water skin, and pulled a drink.  The water purification pill was gone, and the water tasted better.

“I have made my decision.  Alisa and Amech will live together for a year, as husband and wife.  If, at the end of the year, Amech is unhappy with Alisa, then they can divorce, and Arbach will refund the money to Lamelech.  However, if at the end of the year, Amech is happy with Alisa, then Arbach can keep the money.”

“But what about the purity of the woman”

“Well, that’s really for Amech to decide.  I told him and her that they had to work together, to be a loving couple, and to have a child.  That’s why men and women marry - to have a helpmate, to have children, and to be happy.  If Amech accepts her as she is, that’s the important thing.  And she accepts him.  We made an agreement.

“This is my decision.  Amech, Alisa, go home, and be happy”

The couple turned and left.  There was a lot of murmuring from within the crowd, but the crowd parted to let them past.  Then the crowd dispersed, except for one old man who approached her.

“Deborah, you are a judge in Israel”, he said.

“Father, I am looking for somebody.  Maybe you can help me”

“Who are you looking for”

“A man named Lapidot”

“I do not know a man named Lapidot”

“Oh.  Thank you”

“Do you have a place to spend the night?”

“No, I don’t”

“Come to my house.  I am an old man, a widower.  I would like some company.  I won’t touch you.  We could have some meat together, and talk.  You are a very wise woman”.

“Thank you”

That night, Deborah slipped out of the house.  She fished some low light goggles out of her backpack, put them on.  She looked around.  The place was deserted.

She pulled out her medallion, pushed the button.



“I want to talk to the autodoc”

A different voice sounded.  “How can I help you?”

“I would like a prescription for a drug to help a woman ovulate, and I would also like something that will help increase the probability that a woman will bear a son.  Can you do that?”

“Yes, I can.  How much do you want?”

“I would like enough for one woman for a year”


“Beam it down here when you have it ready”

“Give me a minute”

Deborah looked up at the sky.  There were a million, zillion stars.  She tried to spot the constellations, but there were too many stars.  With a timeship, I could visit those stars.  What an adventure that would be.

A small package materialized at her feet.

Deborah picked it up.  Inside was a tube of ointment, a bottle of pills, and 14 sheets of paper with dense printing, in English.  Deborah read the paper work quickly, or as quickly as she could.  It was patient prescribing information - effects, side effects, mode of operation, warnings to health care providers, contraindications, molecular diagrams.  I can’t understand this stuff, and it’s written in my native language.

Deborah walked to Lamelech’s house.  She found Amech and Alisa asleep in a covered area in the back.  She shook Alisa awake, then clamped her hand over Alisa’s mouth.

“Alisa, keep quiet, it’s me, Deborah.”


“Yes.  Quiet.  Come with me.  Oh”

Deborah took off the low light goggles, held them up to Alisa’s eyes.

“Deborah”, she whispered.

“Come with me”

Alisa got to her feet, and stumbled after Deborah, until they were in front of the house.

“Alisa, I have a present for you.  You must keep this a secret.  You must not tell anybody.  Do you understand?”


“Okay.  In this bottle are some pills.”

Deborah opened the bottle, and jiggled it until a pill fell out.

“That’s a pill.  You eat it.  Eat one pill on the 7th day after your period ends.  That will make you more likely to have a baby.”

“Yesterday was the 7th day”

“Okay, close enough.  Take one now”

Alisa took the pill, and swallowed it.

“Now, if you miss a period, then that means that you are with a child.  Stop taking the pills then.”

Deborah then gave Alisa the tube of ointment.

“Here’s how you open it.”, Deborah had her unscrew the cap.

“Squeeze gently, and put a drop on your finger”

Alisa squeezed a drop on her finger.

“Now, put it inside your womb.  It will make you more likely to have a son.  Do it each time Amech is about to know you, or maybe better, every night when you are ready to go to sleep, and you can know him, just in case.”

“This will make me have a son?”

“The pill makes you more likely to have a baby.  The ointment you put in your womb makes you more likely to have a boy if you have a baby.  You need both of these to have a son.  Remember, you must keep these a secret.  Nobody must know”

“Deborah, who are you?  Where do you come from?”

“Alisa, I come from a far away place, very far away.  I am looking for somebody.  I want to help people, it makes me happy.  Please accept these gifts from God, and may you have a strong and healthy son”

Return to Ramah

Deborah beamed down to the road near Ramah.  It was hard to believe that it had been a year since she was last here.  Nothing had changed.  She walked past the fields, past wheat, barley, grapes, and olive trees.  Eventually, she came to the village square in Ramah.

“Deborah”, she heard somebody call.

“Who are you?”, she asked.

“You don’t remember?  I’m Lamelech!”

“Lamelech!  Amech’s father!”

“Yes, yes.  You have made me so very happy”

“Arbach gave you your money back?”

“No, I am a grandfather.  Alisa gave Amech a strong, healthy, baby boy!  A grandson”

“Let’s go see”, Deborah grinned.

They walked quickly to Lamelech’s house.

“Alisa, Alisa, look who is here!  It’s Deborah, the Judge.”

Alisa was sitting in a corner of the room, on the floor, nursing a baby.  Deborah came closer.  Alisa pulled the baby away from her breast, held him up.

“Alisa, he’s beautiful.  What’s his name?”



“Amech, Alisa, I want to talk to you, privately.”  Deborah’s voice was low.

“I am here”, Amech said.

“I want to marry Lapidot”

Amech and Alisa laughed.  “He’s just a baby - he’s just a month old.  Why do you want to marry him?”

“I will tell you something, but you must keep it a secret.  Nobody must know, not your parents, not your children, not Lapidot.”

“What’s that?”

“I am a messenger from God, and a prophetess.  Lapidot’s name will live on for thousands of years.  He will be forever known as my husband.”

“He’s just a baby”

“I will come back once a  year until he is ready for marriage.”

“Will you still be alive in 15 years?  How old are you now?”

I will be 66 when I return to my apartment.  But I am going to judge Israel for 40 years after I win this war.  Do I marry Lapidot before or after the war?

“I am 26 years old.  I will live to be at least 66 years old.”  

“What will be your bride price?”

“Nothing.  I am an orphan”

“Do you have a dowry?”

“I am a woman from God!  What more of a dowry do you need?”

“You say you are a woman from God.  Show us a sign.”


Deborah reached down, and detached a laser pistol from her ankle.  “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”  She forgot that Arthur C. Clarke had written that.  She aimed the laser pistol at the wood pile, pulled the trigger.  A piece of wood immediately burst into flame.  She blew on the muzzle of the pistol (for dramatic effect only, it would be 3000 years before the first American Western movie would be made with that gesture) and then attached the pistol back to her ankle.

“You truly are a woman from God”

“Don’t tell anybody about that”


“Because, I don’t want to be known as somebody with great power.  It is enough that I be known as a prophetess and a judge.  Now, will you give me Lapidot as my husband?”

“This is very strange”, Alisa said.

“If you are truly a woman from God, then you must know that Lapidot will grow to be a man”, Amech said.


“We will give you Lapidot in marriage when he is ready”, Amech said.

“Thank you.  Now, I have something for you, Alisa.”

Deborah put down her backpack, opened it up, and began to rummage around inside it.  She found what she was looking for, a medallion similar to her own.  She held it up for both Alisa and Amech to see.  Then she put it around Alisa’s neck, and tucked it into her clothing so it was effectively invisible.

“Wear that all the time.  Do not take it off.  If you or Amech or Lapidot are in any danger, if hurt, or sick, then push the red spot on the medallion.  I will come immediately and protect you.  Do you have any questions?”


“Good.  I would like to take Lapidot for a little walk.  I will take good care of him.  May I?”

Alisa asked, “May I come with you?”

“No, I’d like to be alone with Lapidot.  I will take good care of him.  I will return in a little while, and then I will not return for a year unless you press the red spot.”

Alisa thought about it, said “Yes”.  She wrapped Lapidot in some cloth, gave him to Deborah.  “You are just the most beautiful baby boy”, she gushed.  “You are so beautiful.  Uh, take him for a moment, please.”

Deborah had to put on her backpack, and should couldn’t do that while holding the baby.  Clearly motherhood has challenges both big and small.

“Please give him back to me”, Deborah said.  Alisa handed Lapidot back to Deborah.  Deborah turned and walked out the door into the sunshine.  Then she walked back to the road and started walking out of town.  She had gone a few hundred meters, when she turned around, checked that she was alone.  Very carefully (it just wouldn’t do to drop her future husband), she pulled out her medallion, pushed the button.



“I have a baby with me.  Beam us up”

And they were gone.

“Walter, I’d like you to meet my future husband, Lapidot.  Lapidot, I’d like you to meet my crew, Walter Brown”

“I thought I was your prisoner”

“I have some pull with the commanding officer and got you promoted”

“Why did you bring him here?”

“Well baby care.  He needs an examination, and shots”



They walked to the autodoc, opened the door.

“How can I help you?”, the autodoc said.

“I have a one month old baby boy.  I want a well baby checkup, and all necessary vaccinations”

“Lay him down, and I will take care of it”

“How long will it take?”

“About 30 minutes”

She laid Lapidot in the autodoc.  Lapidot began to cry, then stopped crying.  The door closed.

Walter said, “Why don’t you tell me what you did down there?”

Deborah gave a detailed synopsis.

30 minutes later, the door of the autodoc opened.  Lapidot was there, fast asleep.  The only difference was a little bandaid on his right upper arm.

The autodoc started speaking.

“Lapidot is a healthy baby boy.  He weighs 3.92 kilograms, is 55.9 centimeters from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet.  He has type B+ blood.  His red blood cell count is 4.7 million  per microliter and his white blood cell count is 6600 per cubic millimeter, both are in the normal range.  His hemoglobin level at 12.2 grams per deciliter.  H1C is 4.9.  His albumin is 4.1 grams/deciLiter, normal.  Ultrasonic inspection of the heart and lungs is normal.  Protein to creatinine ratio is 103 mg/gm, so kidney function is normal.  Reflexes are normal.  Vision is normal.  His lymphatic system is normal, but he has the usual vulnerabilities that young children have.  I examined his central nervous system electroenchephalographically and I found  no indications of any sort of neuropathy.  He has several thousand known genetic abnormalities, none of which will affect his life, some of which will allow us to trace his descendants for thousands of years.  However, I recommend that he receive genetic counseling before he decides to have children.  He will have dark brown hair, and he will tend to be skinny.

“Lapidot received all the vaccinations given to young children, except I didn’t give him an AIDs vaccine because the disease doesn’t exist yet, and I did give him a vaccine against smallpox, which in this time is still a prevalent disease.  He will need booster vaccinations in about 5 years.  I would like to see him again in a year”

Deborah picked up Lapidot.  “Why is he asleep?”, she asked.

“It is easier to examine a small child when he is sleeping, so I gave him a mild, fast acting sedative, Propofol, 8 milligrams.  It will wear off in about an hour”

“Thank you”, Deborah said, not really thinking that she was addressing a machine

“You’re welcome”, the autodoc said.

Deborah and Lapidot, followed by Walter, walked into the corridor and went to the transporter room.

“You realize that you could do a better job of raising him if you kept him here”

“Walter, I want you to think about our mission, and perhaps why that is such a bad idea”

Walter thought.

“If we did that, it might affect history”

“Yes.  We make minimal changes to history”

“But you are going around being a judge and becoming famous”

“Well, that’s what history says I do.  So I am doing it.  Would you hold Lapidot, please?”

She gave the baby to Walter.

“Put your arm under his head, like so.  You’ve never carried a baby, have you”

“Not in a long time”

“This mission is going to be a learning experience for you”

Deborah turned to the control panel of the transporter.

“We’re out of transporter range until another 7 minutes”

“Then let’s talk”

“Okay, what do you want to talk about?”

“I want to talk about me, and my role in this mission”


“I want to be more than a prisoner up here.  I want to go down to the surface, walk around the place, meet people.  I could gather intelligence for you.”

“Well, that’s an interesting idea.  The question I am thinking about is do I trust you?”

“Deborah, you and I have been working together for how many years now?  Have I ever given you a reason to mistrust me?”

“You are a very intelligent man, and you might be scheming for just such a moment.  My mission orders include marooning you in history somewhere.  You might not like that.”

“On the contrary, it might be very rewarding.  I could be a general of some army.”

“Well, that’s an option.  You could even give yourself a stage name, such as Sisera”

“I missed the reference”

“Sisera is the enemy general who gets killed after his army is defeated”

“What is the name of the general who wins the war?”


“I could be Barak.  What becomes of him?”

“History doesn’t say.  He may have married, fathered children, played with grandchildren, and died of old age”

“That wouldn’t be so bad.  I could do a lot worse”

“I’ll think about it”

Deborah turned to the control panel.  She liked the spot on the road where she had put down, but there was somebody with some large animals there.  She was debating if 100 meters away was enough distance to avoid being seen.

“You know, after the war, I could buy a vineyard and make wine.”

“Do you know how to make wine?”

“No, but Adelle knows”

Deborah noted that the person with the large animal was moving away from town, so she decided that if she put down 100 meters away and behind that person, then that would be okay.  She indicated a spot on the screen.  She walked on the platform.  “I like wine.  Figure out how to replicate some for us.  Adelle?”


“Beam us down”

And they were gone.

Deborah walked back to Amech and Alisa’s house.  “Hello?”, she called out.

“I am here”, Alisa said.

“I am back.  Lapidot remained asleep. “I think he likes me”

“I like you”

“Good.  I will come back in a year and see Lapidot again”

“Why don’t you stay with us?”

“I have to travel around the country making judgements.  It’s what I do.  Remember about the medallion.”

Alisa felt her chest.

“Is there anything else I can do for you before I leave?”

“Yes, woman of God, I want you to bless us”

“May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe.  May God bless you and watch over you.  May God shine his face toward you and show you favor.  May God be favorably disposed toward you, and may he grant you peace, ”

“That’s very beautiful”

I wonder how old that blessing is?

“Alisa, take good care of my husband”

“I will”



Deborah turned and walked out.  The day was actually rather pleasant, so she decided to wander around the town, and reflect on the past few hours.  She liked the juxtaposition of this ancient place with the technology of the future.  She was also very impressed with the autodoc, which suggested to her that a lot of human skill was now obsolete.  Maybe the high level of automation would really allow a luxurious life style, because so much labor would be automated.  Of course, there would have to be some means of distributing the wealth to people who didn’t actually work.  And there would have to be activities for them to do.  The arts, perhaps.  Or research of some sort.  She had made a serious mistake, when she was in the future: she should have spent more time studying society and less time preparing for the mission.

Oh shit.  Lapidot still has a bandaid on his arm.  How is Alisa going to react to that when she sees that?  I can’t very well sneak in there and pull it off.  Idiot.  Well, it can’t be helped now.  Maybe Alisa will take the bandaid as a sign from heaven.

Uncircumcised bastards

Deborah has staying in a village in the Galilee, in northern Israel, dispensing judgements and giving advice on topics she knew little about.  To supplement her knowledge, she had bribed a poor family with copper to take her in.  The mother of the family agreed to teach her all sorts of useful skills, such as how to bake, clean, take care of children, and other things that women do, without asking questions about why a woman Deborah’s age would not already know such things.  It was a mixed experience: one of the things Deborah had to learn was how to kill and prepare a chicken - something totally alien for a 21st century north american woman.  Cleaning out a pen filled with animals defecating was another experience.  She slaughtered a goat, and failed in her first attempt so badly that her mentor laughed at her, technically, a breach of contract, but Deborah was determined to fit in, so she tried again until she got it right.  She helped deliver a baby, by holding a candle for the midwife.  She splinted the arm of a boy who had fallen off a ladder.

She talked with the people about religion, urging them to put away their idols and follow the one God.  At first, the men were a skeptical about a woman engaged in a serious discussion of philosophy, but eventually they agreed to make an exception and include her.  It helped that she could drink them under the table, thanks to a small anti-oxidant pill that detoxified the wine before the alcohol could leave the digestive tract.

She also spent time learning the trades, such as working metal, farming the soil, driving a team of horses.  She cheated a little bit, by analyzing the soil spectrographically and fertilizing it appropriately.  During a drought, she arranged for the local farms to get water from the transporter, surreptitiously, of course.  She distributed copper generously, so the village prospered.

She also organized a school, and taught reading, writing, and simple mathematics to the children of the village.  The village elders looked askance at the thought of teaching females to read, until Deborah convinced them that the literate women could be part of the process of preserving the traditions of the past.

Once a year, Deborah would make a pilgrimage to Ramah to check on Lapidot.  It was getting harder and harder to check on Lapidot without raising suspicions about what she was doing, and she had finally taken to tranquilizing him in his sleep, beaming up to the timeship, getting a checkup, and beaming back down before the tranquilizer wore off.

Life was idyllic.

One day, while Deborah and the men were arguing over the law for the vows of women (Which would be the book of Numbers chapter 30 in about 500 years), 9 men rode into town, 6  on horseback, 2 in a chariot, and 1 on a cart.  The men wore brass armor and carried swords and spears.  They dismounted and yelled “All the people, gather here”

A crowd of people gathered in the square.

“Who are the elders of this village?”

The men Deborah was arguing with stepped forward.

“We are the elders”, one of them said.  “What is it you want?”

“We are soldiers of King Jabin of Hazor”, said one of the men in the chariot.  “We are here to collect tribute for the King.  You will fill the cart with the choicest grain from the field.  Also, you will give us 12 goats.  Two of your young men will drive the goats back to Hazor.  You will also give us 4 jugs of wine.  Your elders will arrange to deliver the tribute here, now”

The people muttered among themselves.

“Go now, and fetch the tribute”, the soldier said.

The elders gathered and began discussions.  Deborah tried to hear the gist of the discussion, but she couldn’t.  She decided to take matters into her own hands so she slipped away and snuck behind a building.  She pulled out her medallion and pressed the button.

“Yes”, Adelle said.

“Let me talk to Walter”

There was a pause.  “Walter here.  What can I do for you?”

“I need some tactical advice.  9 men have entered the village, 6 on horseback, 2 in a chariot, and 1 in a cart.  They are wearing bronze armor.  Each one of them has a sword.  Some of them are carrying spears. They are demanding tribute.  What should I do?”

“Do you have a laser pistol?”


“Then kill them.”

“What’s the best way to do that?”

“The laser pistol probably isn’t powerful enough to penetrate bronze armor.  So shoot them in the neck or face.  I realize that will be hard to shoot that accurately from a safe distance”

“What is the effective combat radius of a spear?”

“It depends on the skill of the soldier.  It could be as much as 20 meters.  The spear itself could be thrown on the order of 100 meters, but you lose accuracy at such distances.  You could use a low power laser for targeting and we could kill them from orbit using the spot you indicate as the targeting point”

“How much collateral damage would there be?”

“Everything within 20 meters of the center would be destroyed or seriously damaged”

“That’s no good - they will have hostages”

“Then I think you have to kill them with your laser pistol.  Hey - are the horses armored?”

“No.  They have saddles but no stirrups”

“If you kill the horses, then you immobilize the chariot and reduce the cavalry to a heavy infantry.  Because the soldiers are wearing armor, they won’t be able to move very fast.  You should be able to pick them off at a range of 30 to 50 meters.  I have another idea.  I could beam down a laser rifle which would have an effective combat radius of 2000 meters.”

“Could I ambush them with the rifle?”

“Yes.  Let me check the map.  Here is the road to the coast.  Okay, the road goes through a pass about 4 kilometers west northwest of you.  The hills on either side of the road rise 300-400 meters above the road.  How does that sound?”

“I like it”

“You want to be on the hill on the south side of the road”

“Why the south side?”

“So that the sun will be at your back.  Your fire will appear to come out of the sun.  That makes it hard for them to see you”

“I didn’t think of that”

“That’s how a guerrilla thinks.”

“I’m a guerrilla?”

“One man against a larger number of trained warriors?  Yes, you are a guerrilla.  Your strategy is stealth and surprise”

“I’m a woman”

“Even more so.  I can beam you up now and beam you down there when they get there”

“I want to stay here and see how events here play out”

“Okay.  I’m going out of transporter range in about 10 minutes and I will be back in range in about an hour”

“These people don’t move that fast”

“Anything else?”

“No, I think we’ve got a plan”

“I agree”

“Deborah out”

Deborah snuck back to the square.  Apparently, nobody had missed her.  The cart had been filled with baskets of grain, jugs (presumably of wine), and a collection of goats had been gathered.

“I want a woman”, one of the soldiers yelled.

Do I volunteer?  No!  I have to rescue the party, and I can’t do that if I’m a captive.


Crap.  I guess that’s a disadvantage of being 30 centimeters taller than everybody else.

The soldier walked forward and grabbed her by the arm.  She delivered a swift kick to the groin, and the soldier let go of her.  Then another soldier approached her.  She grabbed the soldier by the wrist, pulled him backwards and he fell to the ground.  Two soldiers grabbed Deborah by the arms.  She fought them,  but they were too much for her: they tackled her and then dragged her to the cart.

“Uncircumcised bastards!”

One of the soldiers hit her in the side of the jaw, and she fell to the ground.  She tasted blood in her mouth.

“Quiet, woman, or I will hit you again”, the soldier told her.

Deborah picked herself up.  She touched her cheek.  That hurts”.  She tasted blood.  Then she realized that there was a loose tooth in her mouth.  She spit it out.

“If you try that again, I will kill you, and then go back to the village and get another woman”, the soldier said.

“Let’s go”, the soldier on the chariot said.

So the men mounted their horses (without stirrups this was hard to do).  They moved out of town at a slow walk.  Between the rubbing sound from the cart, the bleating of the goats, the squeal of the chariot, and the sounds of the horses feet, it was a remarkably noisy procession.  Deborah decided to risk talking to Walter.  Deborah carefully pulled her medallion and pressed the button.  

“Yes”, Adelle answered.

“Let me speak to Walter”, Deborah whispered.

“Walter here”

“Quietly.  I’ve been taken captive.”

“That’s clever.”


“Now you can fire at close range.”

“The men have spears”

“You have a laser pistol.  You can target and fire faster than they can.  With a 1 megajoule pulse, you can fire once every 5 seconds.   What is the arrangement of your procession?”

“Two mounted soldiers in front,  then the cart with the spoils, then me, then the goats with 2 boys driving them, then two men in the chariot, and 4 more mounted men in the rear.”

“Let me think about this a moment.”  Deborah walked on. “Okay, is the commander in the chariot?”

“He is”

“Take him out first.  If you shoot him the face, that will probably kill him because he has to be able to see, so his face is uncovered”

“Why do I take him out first?”

“Because if you attack anybody else first, he will give orders to kill you.  If you take him out, then the rest of the men are going to need time to reorganize and establish a new hierarchy of command.  That will take time, and you won’t give them time”

“I see”

“Once you take out the commander, kill the horses behind you.  Then kill the soldiers on those horses.  Once everybody behind you is dead, then kill the soldiers in front of you”

“Why kill them last?”

“Because their backs are turned to you.  They can’t see what you are doing.  The laser pistol doesn’t make any noise.  Any other questions?”

Deborah thought.

“Walter, I’ve never killed a man before.  It’s murder.  I have a clear superiority of weaponry.  It’s not a fair fight”

“They are soldiers.  You are a prisoner.  The ethics of war are different than what you are used to.  It is moral for a prisoner to attack his or her captors.  You’ve been kidnapped.  That makes you a victim.  You are morally entitled to fight back.  Finally, you are outnumbered.  When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, it never occurred to them that the United States would drop an atomic bomb on two of their cities”

“I understand that as an abstraction.  However, these are real men, not an abstraction”

“Have you given any thought to what they are going to do to a captive woman?”

“They will probably gang rape me”

“Is that an abstraction to you?”


“Alright.  Do you understand what to do?”


“Whenever you are ready”

Deborah reached to her ankle and pulled the laser pistol.  She set the laser at 10 Megawatts and 1 tenth second impulse.  She turned around, held the pistol at arms length, aimed (the laser pistol had a low power sight to make aiming easy), and trembling, she shot the commander in the face.  He fell backwards.  The driver turned to his right to see what was happening to his commander.  Deborah ran to the north about two meters, 5, then ran to the east, 4, then ran to the north again 3, then ran west, 2, then pivoted and aimed, 1 and she shot the driver.  Walter was right - the laser pistol made no noise and the men died too quickly to shout.

One of the soldiers grabbed a spear.  Deborah ran to the east, 5, then stopped,  The soldier tried to turn his spear to track her, 4, but a spear is very long: it has a high polar moment so it is hard to turn and hard to stop it turning.  Deborah continued to run to the east, 3, past the point where the soldier could pivot his waist, so now he had to turn his horse, 2, 1.  Deborah aimed and fired.  The soldier fell back and off of his horse.

Deborah now ran south behind the last two horses, 5, 4, and turned west.  The soldiers had been trying to turn to the right, and now were trying to turn to the left 3, 2.  Deborah ran to the southwest, into the sun, and also trying to keep changing the angle between the soldiers and her. 1.  She turned, aimed and fired.  Another soldier fell backwards.

One of the soldiers threw a spear at her.  5.  However, she could see it coming and easily dodged it.  4, 3,  She ran to the east again, 2, 1.  She watched to see which soldier was facing her most directly, made up her mind, aimed, and fired.

The one soldier left looked around at his fallen comrades.  5.  How did three of them fall off their horses at roughly the same time? 4.  He looked at the woman, standing alone in the field. 3.  He knew that he could easily kill her with his sword, there was no cause for panic.  2.  He was wearing a state-of-the-art armor.  Except that three of his comrades were laying on the ground, with tremendous bleeding from their faces.  1.  He looked at the woman, saw a bright flash, and died.

Deborah ran forward, 5, towards the west, 4,  towards the cart.  As she ran past the goats, 3, one of the young men yelled, “Deborah, what are you doing?”


She kept running forward, 2.  When she was alongside the cart driver, 1, she tapped him on the shoulder.  He turned towards her and she shot him in the face at point blank range.  He fell to the right side of the cart.

Then she ran forward 5 and to the south 4, 3, turned, aimed (Amazing - he hasn’t a clue that they are under attack!), 2, 1, and shot the horseman on the left.  He fell towards the right, on to the horseman on the right.  That soldier crouched down, and reached for his sword.  Deborah ran behind the horses.  5, The soldier apparently didn’t see Deborah.  She ran to the north side 4, 3, 2, turned and aimed 1.  The last soldier died.

Not too bad - 9 men dead in less than a minute.

Deborah then ran back to the cart, climbed aboard, and stopped it.  She returned her laser pistol to its holster.

“Are you alright?”, she asked the young men.

“What did you do?”, one of the men demanded.

I didn’t do anything.  The Lord was incensed that the soldiers treated me badly, so he killed them.”

“No, you did something.  You ran back and forth.  You had something in your hand”

“Am I a mighty man?  Do I have a sword?  Do I have a spear?  Do I have armor?  I am just a woman, but God cares about me.  God cares about you, too”

“If God cares about us, then why does Jabin oppress us?”

“Who can know the will of God?  It is sufficient to put away idols, and serve the Lord.  Now, help me get this cart turned around.  We are going back to the village.  Friends, I don’t want anybody to hear a word about what happened here.  You can tell them that a miracle occurred, that there was a bright light, and all the soldiers died.  Understand?”

The men all agreed.  They got the cart turned around, went around the bodies, and started back to the village.  The goats walked in front.  Deborah drove the cart, and the horses were tied to the back of the cart and followed docily.

Deborah touched her medallion.

“What happened?”.  It was Walter.

“I killed all the soldiers and none of the horses.  You know, it takes 5 seconds for the laser pistol to recharge after a Megajoule shot.  That’s a long time.”

“I know”

“I’m not very happy.  It feels wrong somehow.  It was an easy victory.  Too easy.”

“A true warrior likes easy victories”

“I’m a scholar, not a warrior”

“I admire your moral sensibilities.  Since I am your prisoner, I want you to behave ethically towards me.”

 “I want to make an appointment with the autodoc tonight”

“Are you okay?”

“I lost a tooth  and I want to get it replaced”

“I’ll get it on the calendar for you”

When they got back to the village, everybody gathered around.  “What happened?”, everybody wanted to know.

“Deborah is a prophetess!  The Lord came in a bright light, and all of the soldiers died.  But none of us were hurt!”

Deborah just stood there and smiled.  Everybody reached out to touch her.


So they did.

However, that night she left a couple of dozen disks of copper on the table, and walked out of the house.  She touched her medallion.

“Yes”, Adelle said.

“Beam me up, please”

“I can’t.  You are out of range”

“When will I be in range?”

“About 20 minutes”

“Very well.  Let me know when I am range.  I’m going for a walk”

In the moonlight, she could see reasonably well.  So she walked around the village one last time.  The animals were in their pens.  There were a million, zillion stars in a cloudless sky.

The Medallion beeped.

“This is Deborah”

“You are in transporter range now”

“Thank you.  Beam me up”

And she was gone.

Deborah crawled into bed.  Real sheets!  Real mattress!  A soft pillow!  She had missed her creature comforts.  Instantly, she was asleep.

The next morning, after a wonderful breakfast of waffles with real (well...) maple syrup, Deborah went to the autodoc.

“How may I help you?”

“I lost a tooth in a fight, and I need a new one to replace it”

“Fine, fine.  Sit down in the chair please”

She sat in the chair.  A monitor came down from the ceiling, positioned where Deborah could see it.  A robotic hand forced its way into her mouth.  Another robotic arm with what looked like a tiny camera and a bright light swooped down and into her mouth.

“You haven’t been brushing your teeth or flossing, have you?”

“uh uh”

“You need a good cleaning, you have a cavity that needs filling, and of course you have a missing tooth.”


“Good, good”

Yet another robotic arm appeared.  How many robotic arms does this thing have?  And how many robotic arms can fit in my mouth at once?”


“You may experience some discomfort.  I have injected your jaw with a local anesthetic to kill the pain while I do the cleaning”, the autodoc explained.


“Just a couple more and your jaw will be completely numb”

“Ah wan ouda here!”

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t understand that.  I’m going to start on your lower left rear quadrant.”

“Ah aid, Ah wan ouda here!”

“Good, Good, I agree with you 100% - dental health is the secret to a long and pleasant life.  Now just relax”


“That’s right, just breath deeply, relax, and leave everything to me.  That’s a good patient”

A decent proposal

Deborah materialized on the road to Ramah, near sunset.  She walked to Ramah, to Amech’s and Alisa’s house.  As she walked by the vineyard, she saw Lapidot harvesting grapes into a woven basket.  He was gorgeous, with well developed muscles and bit of a beard.

“Lapidot!”, She called out.

“Deborah?”, He answered.


He put down his basket and came over to her.  “It’s good to see you”, he said.

“It’s good to see you, too.  When you are done picking grapes for the day, let’s walk together to your parent’s house.”

“If you are here, then I am done for the day”.  He ran back to his basket, picked it up, returned to her.

“What brings a famous Judge of Israel to a small town like Ramah?”

“I have to talk to you about something very important”


“Well, have you considered getting married?”

“I have.  There are some girls in Ramah who look good”

“Would you consider marrying me?”


“Me.  Yes”

Lapidot stopped walking, and Deborah took that as a cue to stop walking.

“Are you joking?”

“No, I’m not”

“My parents could never afford the bride price of a woman such as you”

“I am an orphan, so that is not a problem”

“You are so old”

I am so insulted. But now I am 39.  Maybe to him, I am old.  He is young, and inexperienced, so I will let that pass.

“I am going to live for a long time.  And so will you”

“Will you have children?”

“If you want me to, I will”

“I want to have lots of strong, healthy, sons”


“Well, I could have daughters.  Are you a virgin?”

There is that question again.  Do I tell him the truth?  Will that be a deal breaker?  Or maybe I can talk him out of his preconceived notions”

“No.  Have you ever known a woman?”

“Women do not ask that question”

“Maybe they should.  I’ve been honest with you.  Will you be honest with me?”

“No, I have never known a woman”

“Well, I won’t tell anybody if you don’t tell anybody.  There are lots of women who are not virgins, and they get married, have children, and their husbands are happy.  It’s just not talked about.  I want to marry you and nobody else but you, and I bring to you all that I have, much of which you have not seen.”

“I have to talk to my parents about this”

“I want to talk to your parents about this, too.”

They started walking, much faster now.  They came to Amech’s and Alisa’s house, went in.  Alisa was kneading some dough, and Amech was chopping some wood.

“Mother, Father, Deborah is here!  We want to talk to you”.

Amech put down his ax.  Alisa got up, wiped her hands on her garment, and the two women embraced.  

“Lapidot, what do you want to talk about?”

“Deborah wants to marry me.”

Amech said, “Lapidot, Deborah talked to us about this shortly after you were born.  She is a very wise woman, and the spirit of God is within her.  Your mother and I almost divorced after we married.  Deborah convinced us to stay together.  You, your brothers and sisters would not be here if it had not been for Deborah.  Our lives together have been very happy.  I have a debt to her”

Alisa said, “The spirit of God is in her.  She is just, and kind, and wise.  She will be a good wife to you.  However, she is a Judge and a prophetess.  It is strange for a woman.  You will have to be patient with her, you will have to talk with her, not talk to her.”

Alisa has had a powerful insight.  I wonder where she got that from?  I wonder if she just thought of that, or is it something she figured out some time ago.

Lapidot got a far away look on his face.  He was thinking about something.

“Deborah, you are very wise.  Will you listen to me when I talk to you?”

“Lapidot, I will listen to you.  If what you say makes sense, then I will do it.  However, I might have a better idea, so I will talk with you about it.  We will come to an agreement.  I am not going to do your bidding, but I will listen to you.  I will not gossip.  I will not waste time.  I will give you children.  But I also have to speak for God, and that might be hard for you.  I think I can make you happy.  Look, Lapidot, this is a big decision to make.  You must think about it carefully.  If you want, I can come back in three days and you can make your decision then”

“No, Deborah, if you want to marry me, then I will marry you”

“That’s wonderful.  Now, I have an important question: How do we do a wedding ceremony?”

“You mean, you don’t know?”

“I have been to many places, seen many things.  In every time and place, there are husbands and wives.  So there must be weddings.  I’ve just never been in the right place and the right time to see one.  So I need you to decide what kind of wedding you want.  I can pay for the cost.

“I thought you were an orphan?”

“I am.  But it’s a little complicated.  I am a wealthy orphan”

Deborah took off her backpack and set it on the floor.  She rummaged through it until she found a leather bag.  She pulled out the bag, opened it, and spilled about a kilogram of pure copper disks on the table.  “That’s pure copper.  I can get more if you want.  Take the whole thing and use it to pay for the wedding.  So what do we do?

“The bride’s family throws a feast.  The bride is dressed with all of her jewelry, and wears a veil.  The families eat together, sing songs, and the then the groom takes the bride into his house”, Alisa said.  “Haven’t you been to a wedding?”

Amech spoke up.  “Deborah, you are an orphan”

“That’s right”

“How did you get so much copper as an orphan?”

“Well, I’ve been favored by God so I have the copper”

Alisa interrupted again: “If you don’t have a family, who is going to throw the feast?  Who will represent the bride in the negotiations?”

“Alisa - would you be willing throw a feast in my honor?”

“Well, yes, I can do that.  How many people are coming?”

“I think one man from my side will be there.  However many from your side, that’s up to you”

“When do you want to have the wedding?”

I’m having my period right now.

“Would two weeks from today work for you?”

“I think so”

“Walter, what are you doing two weeks from today?”

“I’m washing my hair that night”

“Well, I’m getting married that night, I’d like you to be there”

“You’re actually going to let me out of the timeship?”

“Yes.  You know the definition of a trusted system?”


“A trusted system is one that will screw you if it fails to be trustworthy.  I’m simply going to trust you to do The Right Thing”

“You’re worried that I might maroon you?”


“I notice that you haven’t abandoned me yet”

“I am a hopeless optimist.  I think I can find you a proper niche where you can live out your most grandiose dreams.  Anyway, I have no family here, and only one friend here, and that’s you.  So you are invited”

“I accept.  I can wash my hair in the morning.  Nobody will mind”

The wedding night

Walter walked out of his quarters and rang Deborah’s doorbell.

“Come in”

The door opened and Walter waltzed in.  He had a cotton robe, a richly embroidered belt, and comfortable nylon sandals that looked like hand tooled leather.  He had rings on all 10 fingers, and a necklace made of what looked like gold.  In the center of the necklace was what looked like onyx but what was really a small camera.

“Do you think this is over the top?”, he asked.

“I don’t know.  What do you think of me?”

Deborah also had a nice blue cotton robe, but she had rows and rows of gold disks strung together around her neck.   She had a gold medallion, also with what looked like Onyx but was really a little camera.  

They had launched some communication satellites earlier in the week so that Adelle could watch and record the action in real time.

“This is exciting.  I’ve never given away a bride before”

“I’ve never been married before”

“Will I ever see you again?”

“Walter, of course you will see me again.  We have to fight a war, remember?”

“Did you take your anti-oxidant pill?”

“Yes, you?”


“Well, we will enjoy the wine vicariously”

“We will be spared the hangover tomorrow”

They beamed down along the road to Ramah.  They started walking towards town.

“Are you armed?”, Walter asked her.

“I have a laser pistol strapped to my right ankle, a stainless steel knife at my left ankle, a garrott, some PVC ties in case I want to tie up somebody, and a communications medallion.  You?”

“I have a laser pistol  and a communications medallion.  I didn’t think of a knife or a garrott, or PVC.”

“That’s because I have experience as a guerrilla and you don’t.  Why do you ask?”

“I notice you have about a kilogram of gold around your neck, and I would hate for you to be the victim of a robber on your wedding night.”

The whole town had turned out to see Deborah, the famous judge and prophetess of Israel.  There was a couple of goats on spits, roasting over coals.  There were baskets of figs, pomegranates, grapes, and dates.  There were loaves of bread, jugs of milk and wine.  There were musicians playing simple, lively melodies.  Deborah and Walter walked in, and everybody stared at them.


“Walter?  What kind of name is that?  Who is your father?”, people asked him.

Walter just smiled and waved.

Lapidot came out of the house, dressed as usual.  Maybe they are a little clothing challenged.  He walked up to Walter and embraced him.  “It is so good to meet a friend of Deborah’s”, he said.  “I thought she was all alone in the world”.

“I wanted to make sure she was marrying a good man, so I came a long ways to meet you”

“Where did you come from?”

“A long ways away”

Then Lapidot walked to Deborah and embraced her.

“Where is your friend... Walter?... from”

“A long ways away”

“He said the same thing”

“He is a very truthful man”

The party went on for hours.  The men were getting happily drunk.  The women danced and sang.

Lapidot turned to Deborah, and said “My beloved, let’s go home”

Deborah replied, “I agree”

So they said good bye to the party, and walked back to Alisa and Amech’s house.

“Are your parents going to leave us alone?”

“I built a booth for the two of us in the field.”

Sure enough, at the far corner of the vineyard, was a small building perhaps a meter wide by two meters long by a meter and a half high.  There was a curtain at one end of it.  The floor was covered with a sheet of cloth.

Deborah crawled in.  This doesn’t look very comfortable.  Lapidot crawled in next to her.

“Have you ever been alone with a woman before?”, she asked him.

“No, I have not”

“Lapidot, take your clothes off.  I think you are going to enjoy this.  I know I will”

Walter was the last person to leave the party.  It was dark, and he had neglected to bring low light goggles.  Because of the anti-oxidant pill, none of the alcohol had gotten out of his gut and into his bloodstream, so the pupils of his eyes were normally dilated, so he was having troubles seeing in the dark.  He pulled out his medallion.



“One to beam up”

And he was gone.

The battle against Unrar

Deborah’s medallion vibrated.  Either Walter or Adelle wanted to talk to her.

“What’s that?”, a sleepy Lapidot asked.

“It’s nothing.  Go back to sleep, my beloved.  I’ll be back in a little while”

Deborah dressed quickly and minimally, and went outside.  The night was black with a million stars.  She pulled out the medallion and pushed the button.

“Deborah here”

“Deborah, this is Walter.  We have a problem”

“What’s that?”

“We detected an object in low earth orbit.  It has detected us, and is moving towards us now.  ETA is about 20 minutes”

“What do you mean, there is something in low earth orbit?”

“I mean that something is on an orbit that will intercept our orbit in about 20 minutes.  It’s in an elliptical orbit, not a parabolic orbit, so it must be under the control of something.  I looked through the sensor logs and it has appeared sometime in the last couple of hours.  It’s another timeship or a visit by an extraterrestrial.  This can only mean trouble”.

“I have to pack up some things - give me two minutes”

Although she trusted Lapidot, some of her tools could be really nasty in the wrong hands.  Rather than take a chance, she quickly threw all of her gear in to her backpack.  There was no time to finish dressing. If I leave my clothes and jewelry, that would indicate to Lapidot that I intend to return.  Too bad he is illiterate, otherwise I would left a note.   She went outside again, pressed the red button on her medallion.



“Beam me up”

And she was gone.

Walter’s voice came over the loud speaker in the transporter room.

“Meet me on the main flight deck”

“On my way”

She left her pack in the transporter room and ran as fast as she could (the 1/6th of normal gravity helped)  to the flight deck.  It took precious seconds getting through the air lock, but she decided that she should take the time to make sure that the air lock was secure.

“I have the tactical situation here on monitor 1.  Here we are, and here they are.  Time to intercept is 12 minutes.  However, we don’t know what their intentions are, or how well they are armed’

“Incoming transmission from the other spacecraft”, Adelle told them, “Mixed audio and video.”

“Can you open a two way channel with them?”


“Do it”

A window opened on another monitor and Deborah and Walter saw a man with brown hair, a neat mustache, and brown eyes.

“Please identify yourself”, he demanded.

“I am Deborah Schwartz, in command of this spacecraft.  This is my co-pilot, Walter Brown.  Who are you?”

“I am Unrar, in command of the timeship Orion.  Maintain your current orbit.  Surrender, and prepare to be boarded”

“Unrar, why should I let you board my ship?”

“You will be boarded, or you will be destroyed”, Unrar responded, with no emotion in his voice.

There was a button on the screen labeled “close”.  Deborah clicked on it.

“Walter, I think it’s time you earned your salary”

“What salary?”

“I am not going to give up this timeship without a fight.  The people that built it armed it with offensive and defensive weapons.  Let’s see how they work”

“May I suggest that before you start shooting, you might want to find out the extent of his capabilities?”

“Okay, what do you suggest?”

“Time travel about 1 hour forward.  That will put him on the opposite side of the planet from us”

“Okay.  Adelle”


“Prepare to time travel.  1 hour into the future.  Maintain current position and velocity”


The tactical map position changed.

“The other timeship is 600 kilometers above longitude 123 degrees east, latitude 25 degrees north and We are 700 kilometers above longitude 97 degrees west, latitude 18 degrees south”, Deborah said.

“Okay, let’s see if he can find us”

The tactical map changed again.  This time, the Orion was 100 kilometers away, in the same orbit.

“Incoming transmission”, Adelle said.

“Let’s hear what he has to say”, Walter suggested.



“Open communications with the other timeship”

“I can match any maneuver you can do.  Now surrender and prepare to be boarded.  I have no wish to destroy your ship, but I will if I have to”


“People in this time and place do not go traveling in Earth orbit.  Obviously, you have come here from somewhere or somewhen to do something to Earth’s history.  I cannot allow you to do that”, Unrar said, still no emotion.

“Are you with the chrono police?”  Deborah asked.

For the first time, Unrar showed some emotion.  He laughed.  “The chrono police will never find us here, unless you do something stupid like light up a chronobeacon.  I’ve fought with them before, and they would love to find me.  They haven’t yet.  I don’t want you to help them”.

“I’ve never met them”, Deborah said, “But I’ve been told to avoid them.  Perhaps instead of firing at one another and making threats, we should negotiate with each other”.

Walter started typing.  A window opened on one of Deborah’s monitors, and she read Are you sure that this is a good idea?.  Deborah typed back I’d rather talk to him and maybe make a friend then fight with him and make him either an enemy or a victim.

“I am prepared to negotiate.  Surrender, prepare to be boarded, and then we can talk”

“Why can’t just talk over the radio, like potential allies rather than as potential belligerents?”

“Face to face is so much more human”

“Demanding a surrender is rude”

“You are in outer space, thousands of years from home.  This is not a tea party.  Surrender and prepare to be boarded”

Distance: 90 km, closing at 10 km/min  Easily in range of one of our projectile weapons now.

“Unrar, I would much rather have you as an ally rather than as an enemy.  But I would like an alliance of equals, not as a vassal.

Prepare two projectiles, but do not fire until I say so

“Your preferences are noted.  I even admire them.  However, surrender and prepare to be boarded”

I don’t have privileges to use the weapons

Deborah opened another window and typed Adelle


grant weapons privileges to walter

Enter your password

Deborah typed in her password.  Of course, it didn’t echo.

“I am waiting.  I am losing patience with you”

Incorrect password.

Enter your password

Keep calm.  Just because a man is trying to kill you is no reason to lose your cool.  Deborah entered her password again

Incorrect password.

Enter your password

Take your time - he’s still a ways away.

Password correct

Weapons privileges granted to Walter.

Deborah went back to the second window.  You have privs.  Prepare two projectiles and fire one at him.

“I see we’re going to fight some more.  Very well.  When you are ready to surrender, contact me”  Unrar’s image vanished.



“Change orbital inclination to 65 degrees immediately, using maximum acceleration”  Where did that order come from?

“Changing orbital inclination to 65 degrees using maximum acceleration”

The timeship’s current velocity was 7500 meters/second in an equatorial orbit.  Changing to a high inclination orbit would require a velocity change of 8500 meters/second, because velocity is vector, it has direction in addition to magnitude.  At the end of this maneuver, the timeship would still be traveling 7500 meters/second, but in a different direction.   Deborah was testing her foe’s ability to engage in high acceleration maneuvers.   She was also testing her own limits.  Maybe he would run out of fuel or reaction mass.  Of course, maybe she would run out of fuel or reaction mass, too.

On one of her monitors, she could see the diagram of the timeship’s orbit changing, apparently very rapidly.

Adelle announced: “Orbit now at 65 degrees inclination”



“How long did it take to make the change in orbit?”

“10.3 seconds at maximum acceleration”

“What is the maximum acceleration?”

“The timeship is capable of accelerating at 850 meters per second squared”

“So we just accelerated at roughly 85 Gs?”

“We accelerated on average at 84.2 Gs”

Walter popped in, said, “He just matched our orbit.  Range 2500 kilometers, range rate closing at 10 kilometers/second.  Deborah, I’ve studied war, put me in command”

“Walter, you are my prisoner, and you haven’t had the years of training in timeship operations I’ve had.  However, if you have some advice, I’d like to hear it”

“Firing a projectile weapon was an exercise in futility.  He’s trying to kill you.  Us.  You have to kill him first”

“I don’t want to kill him”

“My commanding officer is an idiot.  It doesn’t matter what you don’t want to do, it is a matter of what you must do to survive.”

“How do you know he wants to kill me?”

“If he didn’t want to kill you, then he would negotiate something with you.  No, his second statement was surrender or be destroyed.  Because you used such a weak weapon with him, he thinks you are weak.  He thinks he can use psychological intimidation to defeat you, which is cheaper than fighting you, if it will work.  That’s how Adolf Hitler defeated Neville Chamberlain in 1938.  He didn’t fire a shot, yet he got  the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. ”

“How did you know about that?  You come from an alternate future where that didn’t happen”

“I am a student of war.  Your history is much more barbaric than my history, so it made for fascinating reading.  I especially liked how the assassination of one pipsqueak duke started your first world war.  But I digress.  Unrar understands that if he can intimidate you verbally, then he doesn’t have to actually fight with you in order to accomplish his objectives.”

“Well, it’s working”

“Don’t you have a husband who is waiting for you?  Are you going to make him a widower?”

“That’s right - I do.  I have to fight a war, too, on the ground, not in space.  I have a mission.  Okay.  Okay.  I’ve had enough of this crap.  Who the hell does this Unrar think he is, taking me away from my husband on my wedding night.     Adelle”


“Arm the anti-proton beam”

“Now, we’re talking”, Walter smiled.

“Range to the other timeship?”

“Range now 2400 kilometers, closing at 10 kilometers/second”, Walter informed her.

“Fire a 5 second burst”

“You must issue commands for weapons from the keyboard.  I am not authorized to accept weapons commands using speech recognition”

Forgot about that.  I wonder what else I’ve forgotten that’s important.

Deborah looked for a button on her monitors labeled “space weapons”, found it, pushed it.  A menu opened.

Target select: timeship Orion

weapons select:

O antiproton beam

O ultraviolet laser

O yellow laser

O Gamma radiation

O Powered guided missile with kinetic warhead

O Powered guided missile with nuclear fission warhead

O Powered guided missile with nuclear fusion warhead

O Fusion mine

O Unpowered Projectile

Deborah touched antiproton beam.

Select power

O   1 TW

O  10 TW

O 100 TW

O   1 PW

Deborah touched 1 Petawatt.

“Range 2200 kilometers and closing at 10 kilometers per second”

Select duration

O   1 sec

O  10 sec

O  30 sec

O  60 sec

O  90 sec (unavailable at this power level)

O 120 sec (unavailable at this power level)

O 150 sec (unavailable at this power level)

O Return to select power

Deborah touched 30 seconds

Activate antiproton beam

O fire now

O fire at optimum range

O fire at most accurate range

Deborah touched fire now.

Deborah watched the clock, watched the tactical display.  The Orion was gone.

The ship lurched sideways.  Walter was thrown against the opposite bulkhead.  Deborah managed to catch herself on the arm of her chair, but she felt a sharp pain in her abdomen.



“What was that motion?”

“We have been hit by an ultraviolet laser”

“Damage report”

“Working.  The gold shielding reflected 99.2% of the radiation.  However, the gold shielding is destroyed in an area approximately 40 meters in diameter on the forward upper left quadrant.  The underlying aluminum is pierced completely about 30 meters in diameter.  The underlying compartment is in vacuum.  An unknown quantity of iron shot is melted.  We are also spinning at 3 revolutions per minute”



“Emergency despin”, Deborah ordered.

“Executing.  We will be at rest in 35 seconds”

“Walter, are you okay?”

“I’m good”

Adelle was talking:

“At the moment we fired the antiproton beam, the other timeship traveled forward in time 12 seconds and in space 2000 kilometers.  Incoming communication”

“Put it on”

A window opened, and Unrar’s face appeared.  “I can destroy you.  Surrender now, and prepare to be boarded”

“Unrar, do you know how tiresome that refrain is getting?”

“I am not amused.  I am prepared to destroy you.  Surrender”

“and prepare to be boarded.  Yes, yes, yes.  I mean no, no, no.  Will you guarantee the safety of my copilot and myself?”

“Surrender must be unconditional”

“This conversation serves no useful purpose, and is terminated”

Deborah pressed the close button.  Then she pressed the space weapons button.

“What are going to do?”

The weapons menu opened

“Try the Ultraviolet laser”

Deborah selected ultraviolet laser.  She selected 100 Terawatts, the highest it would go, and 1 second duration.  A window opened on her monitor showing the stars with an edge of the earth on one side.  The view was turning away from the earth.  She felt the ship turning in space.  A circle appeared on the screen, and a plus sign at the center.  The circle came closer to the plus sign, then overshot, then corrected.  The circle turned green.  There was a flash of light.



“What is the status of the other ship?”

“It appears unharmed.  Range 1805 kilometers.  Closing at 10 kilometers/second.  ETA 3 minutes 5 seconds”.

“Let’s let it get a little closer and try the ultraviolet laser again.  Remember the inverse square law”, Walter suggested.

“What if he fires his laser at us?”

“Incoming missile”, Adelle reported.


“93 seconds”

“Will the Ultraviolet laser target the missile?”

“No, it is moving too fast”, Adelle replied.

“What about the yellow laser?”

“The yellow laser will target this missile”


Deborah clicked on the space weapons button.  A menu opened.

Target select: incoming missile

weapons select:

O antiproton beam

O ultraviolet laser

O yellow laser

O Gamma radiation

O Powered guided missile with kinetic warhead

O Powered guided missile with nuclear warhead

O Fusion mine

O Unpowered Projectile

Deborah touched yellow laser.

Select power

O   1 TW

O  10 TW

O 100 TW

O   1 PW

Deborah touched 100 Terawatts

“Range 1600 kilometers and closing at 10 kilometers per second”

Select duration

O   1 sec

O  10 sec

O  30 sec

O  60 sec

O  90 sec (unavailable at this power level)

O 120 sec (unavailable at this power level)

O 150 sec (unavailable at this power level)

O Return to select power

Deborah touched 30 seconds

Activate yellow laser

O fire now

O fire at optimum range

O fire at most accurate range

Deborah selected fire at optimum range.

“The yellow laser will fire in 70 seconds”, Adelle reported.

“I wonder why he didn’t use his laser?”, Walter asked nobody in particular.  He started typing furiously at his work station.

“The yellow laser will fire in 45 seconds”, Adelle reported.

“Deborah, change our orbital inclination a few degrees.”


“The yellow laser will fire in 40 seconds”, Adelle reported.

“I think his timeship was damaged.  I think we took out his sensors, which is why he is using a missile.  The missile would be safely in his ship until he launched it.

”“The yellow laser will fire in 35 seconds, Adelle reported.



If I change the plane of our orbit by 5 degrees at 84 Gs, will the yellow laser be able to track the incoming missile?”


“Change orbital inclination to +5 degrees now at maximum acceleration.”

“The yellow laser will fire in 35 seconds.  Changing orbital inclination by +5 degrees.  Completed”

“Did the missile change course to intercept us?”

“It did.  The yellow laser will fire in 30 seconds”

“Did the enemy timeship change its orbit to match ours?”

“No.  The distance between the Orion and us is increasing at 20 Kilometers/minute.  The yellow laser will fire in 25 seconds”.

“Well, Walter, you wanted the experience of being in combat.  You’re in combat, for your life.  How do you feel?”

“Helluva time to ask”.

“We have 22 seconds to wait until something happens.  We might as well talk”

“The yellow laser will fire in 20 seconds”.

“I’m scared.  I always visualized that I would be in command of an army, a navy or an air force”

“This is like an air force: we’re using a lot of high technology, and we can’t see the targets without machine assistance.  Air combat is like that, at least, at has been like that for a long time”

“You’re not a soldier, you’re a scholar.  How are you able to keep so cool at a time like this?”

“The yellow laser will fire in 15 seconds”.

“I’m dressed in a cotton robe that really hides the perspiration stains.  If I was wearing a standard jumpsuit, then you would not think I was that cool”

“Had I known you were going to take us into combat, I would have dressed more appropriately”

“The yellow laser will fire in 10 seconds”.



“What is the range rate to the enemy timeship?”

“It is increasing at 22 kilometers/minute”

“You want me to take us out of combat?”

“I don’t want to die.  You don’t want to die.  Take us out of combat”, Walter stammered.


“Nonsense.  I want to fight a battle I can win.  If we die in space, then the battle we’re supposed to fight is lost”

“The yellow laser will fire in 5 seconds.  4.  3   2  1.  Yellow laser firing.  Sensors report a direct hit.  Missile surface temperature now 800 °C”



“Increase orbital velocity by 3 meters per second”

“Orbital velocity increased by 3 meters per second”

“Did the missile change course to intercept us?”

“No.  Missile surface temperature now 1600 °C”

“What is the melting point of aluminum?”

“660 °C”

“Did the missile melt?”

“Unknown.  Missile surface temperature now 2400 °C.  Missile course unchanged.  Missile will miss us by 24 kilometers”

“What if the missile is made out of Titanium?”, Walter asked.  “Adelle”


“What is the melting point of Titanium?”


“Walter, I think we destroyed the missile.  I don’t think it blew up, I think it just melted”

“Thank you.  Now, let’s get out of here, so we can live to fight another day”



“Using time travel, put us in an equatorial circular orbit altitude 200 kilometers around Europa.”

“What’s Europa?”, Walter asked.

“It’s a moon of Jupiter. ”

“Ready”, Adelle announced


And they were gone.


Walter was fiddling with his joystick.  Then, he touched his screen, and moved some sliders.

“Well, look at that”, he said.


“I see a spherical surface that is vaguely blue and has lots of lines crisscrossing it.  There is apparently no topography.  It is very dark here, even though we are on the sunlit side”

“That’s Europa.  It is completely covered by water ice”.

“Is that why did you came here?”

“Well, that’s one of the reasons.  The other reason is that this place is far away so we will be hard to find”

“Adelle”, Deborah spoke up.


“Is there enough liquid water on Europa to beam up directly to the reaction mass tanks”

“There is”

“How thick is the ice?”

“200 to 300 meters”

“But you can beam water through it”


“Very well, then do it”

“It will take 4 hours to finish filling all of the tanks”

“Okay, please begin immediately”


Walter spoke up.  “Uh, captain, we have a problem”

“Now what?”

“Unrar just popped into orbit.  He is 2000 kilometers away, on an intercept orbit.  Time to intercept is 23 minutes”

“How did he do that?  Adelle: is it possible to track a time ship?”


“Outline the procedure”


“Then how do you know it can be done?”

“Because Unrar is doing it.  Space is very vast, and time travel makes it even vaster.  The fact that he found us so quickly is remarkable.  He must be able to find us somehow”

“Walter, I am trapped by the physics of the situation.  I can’t seem to out run him, I don’t know why.  I think I can’t destroy him using the weapons at my disposal.  I think he can destroy me.  I’m out of ideas”

“Perhaps because you keep thinking in terms of physics”

“Go on”

“There are other forms of combat besides physics.  There is also chemistry and biology.  This timeship is stocked with chemical and biological weapons.”


“Yes.  However, the timeship’s engineers didn’t consider these weapons to be of any use in a battle in space, because everything is sealed against the vacuum.”

“Ok.  I assume Unrar is going to show up in a spacesuit, in case we decide to put poison gas in the airlock.  How do we get the chemical or biological agent inside his spacesuit before he shoots us?”

“Use the transporter”

“Oh!  So we take a little bit of deadly toxin, and transport it into his space suit.  He dies.  We win.”

“Something like that”

“Could we transport the toxin into his timeship?”

“We could, but we have to know where in his timeship he is.  Our sensors can’t penetrate it.  If he’s smart, then he closed his airtight doors just like we did, so if we beam the toxin to the wrong place, it won’t affect him.  Also, I can see how having a spare timeship might be useful, and I am not thrilled about cleaning out a deadly toxin.  The trick is going to be convince him to trust us to the point where he leaves his timeship in a space suit”



“Do you have a biological toxin effective against humans, kills within 60 seconds, but which dies from oxidation in one hour or less”

“The biological weapon Botulinus N1B45 meets that description”

“What is the lethal dose”

“50 micrograms”

“How is the Botulinus N1B45 delivered to its target?”

“It is stored in a steel tube 2 centimeters long by 5 millimeters in diameter, with an explosive charge at one end.  When the tube arrives at its target, the explosive charge is detonated by remote control.”

“Can you beam Botulinus N1B45 into a space suit?”


“Prepare some Botulinus N1B45 as you described to me and be ready to beam it into Unrar’s space suit at my signal.  When I say the word “Madagascar”, that will be the code word for you to transport the Botulinus in to Unrar’s space suit and release it.  Do you understand?”

“When you say the word ‘Madagascar, I am to transport the Botulinus N1B45 toxin into Unrar’s spacesuit and release it.  I understand.”

“Good.  Walter, have you ever played a game called poker?”

“No, I’ve never heard of it”

“Too bad.  I am about to play a very bad hand.  Adelle”


“Open a channel to the Orion

Unrar’s face appeared in the monitor.

“Unrar, I can’t fight you any more.  I am almost out of water, so I can barely control my orbit.  My time travel system needs time to recharge, and you won’t give me that time.  You also seem to have the ability to follow me across vast distances.   One eighth of my pressure hull is a vacuum.  My most powerful weapons do not harm you.  I surrender.  I can only hope that you will be merciful to my faithful crew”

“Deborah, that is very wise.  Prepare an airlock.”

“I am rolling my ship so that the airlock is facing you.  Adelle”


“Roll the ship clockwise 122 degrees at the rate of 5 degrees per second”

“Rolling the ship clockwise 122 degrees at the rate of 5 degrees per second”

The ship started to roll.  Deborah waited.



“Open the outer door of external airlock number 1”

“Opening the outer door of external airlock number 1”

“Show the view out of external air lock number 1”

A window opened on a monitor showing the edges of the airlock, along with the Orion, now floating about 500 meters away.

Unrar spoke.  “I see you have rolled your ship and opened an airlock door.  Very good.  I am sending my Avatar to you now”

“Your avatar?”, Deborah fought hard to keep her voice even.  Her bluff had just been called, and she didn’t have any aces.

Deborah and Walter looked at the window.  On the Orion, they could see an airlock open, and a figure about the size and shape of a man emerge.  They could see jets of gas as the figure oriented itself and started moving towards the timeship.  Then the figure pitched 180 degrees and entered the airlock feet first.

Unrar spoke.  “Close the outer airlock door”

Deborah said, “Adelle”


“Close the outer door of external airlock number 1”

“Closing the outer door of external airlock number 1.  Outer door is closed”.

“Turn on artificial gravity in external airlock number 1”

“Artificial gravity on in external airlock number 1”

“Open the middle door of external airlock number 1”

“Order rejected: the outer chamber of external airlock number 1 is still a vacuum”

“Pressurize the outer chamber of external airlock number 1”.  Damm computers.

“Pressurizing the outer chamber of external airlock number 1”

“Open the middle door of external airlock number 1”

“Middle door is open”

Walter and Deborah watched as the Avatar walked into the inner chamber of the airlock.

“Close middle door of external airlock number 1”

“Middle door is closed”

“Open inner door of external airlock number 1”

“Inner door is open”

The avatar walked out of the airlock and into the corridor.

“Well, Walter, maybe we should go meet our guest”

The avatar looked like a human made of gold.  It stood about 2.5 meters tall.  It walked on two legs, had two arms, with hands with 5 fingers.  Its chest and abdomen had several openings, all closed now.  Deborah could see what looked like rocket exhausts at the shoulders and hips.  The “eyes” were pitch black.  There were no obvious ears.

Deborah heard Unrar’s voice.  “Take me to a place where I can interface with your computer at the fastest speed”



“I want to take the avatar to the a point where it can interface with you at highest possible speed”

“There nearest point is CPU complex 3, behind door 174243.

“Can I interface there?”, the avatar asked.

“Well, I don’t know about building a compatible interface, but that’s where the CPU is so that would be where you would have the minimum latency due to the speed of light”

“Very well”

The three of them walked about 300 meters along the corridor.  They came to a door that was labeled with the number 174243.  However, unlike most of the doors in the corridor, this door was armored.



“Please open door 174243”

“Order rejected: there are unauthorized personnel present.  3rd law violation”

“What is a 3rd law violation?”, Walter asked.

“There was a famous Science Fiction writer named Isaac Asimov.  He created the three laws of robotics.  They are:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Adelle was designed so that her own existence is protected.  If somebody unauthorized is near the door, then that person might try to destroy her, err, it.  Adelle reasons that if I really wanted to go in there, then I would not have unauthorized personnel around when I wanted to go in.  Adelle may also be reasoning that I am acting under duress, and might not accept an order from me under those circumstances.”

The avatar said, “I can solve the problem.  Adelle, you will carry out your last order or else I will kill Walter”.  And a door opened on the Avatar’s abdomen to reveal the muzzle of what was obviously some kind of weapon.

Door 174243 opened.  The three of them walked in.

The inside of the chamber was uncomfortably cool, and remarkably quiet.  Deborah had been inside server rooms, and was expecting a lot of noise from fans,  Against one wall of the chamber was a cylinder about 2 meters in diameter and 1.5 meters high.  There was a window on  the side of the cylinder.  Behind the window, at what looked like the center of the cylinder, was a sphere about 4 centimeters in diameter connected to a cylinder 6 centimeters in diameter and 10 centimeters long.

The avatar said, “Adelle, can you communicate with me via radio at 10 terahertz?”

Adelle didn’t say anything.

Deborah spoke up.  “Adelle, I have surrendered this ship.  Please follow the instructions and answer the questions from the Avatar”

Adelle said “Yes, I am capable of interfacing with you at 10 terahertz”

“Good.  Start transmitting your alphabet at 10 terahertz until I am able to understand your transmission.  Good.  I hear your carrier.  I have decoded your signalling system.  Listen for my response”

Adelle said, “I hear your response.  We are now in communication”

The avatar said, “Deborah, Walter, please leave us.  I will contact you when I am ready”

Deborah and Walter walked out into the corridor.

“Well, I am ready for a shower, a meal, and some sleep”,  Walter exclaimed.

“How can you think of such things at a time like this?”

“Easy.  Because I can’t think of anything else to do.  I’m a human being, and I have to be able to eat and sleep.  Staying clean isn’t really essential but it seems like the best thing to do at this time.  In apparent time, it has been over thirty hours since I first contacted you about Unrar.  Since that time, we have been in continuous conflict. Tell you what: you take a shower and I will take a shower and then we can have the best reconstituted chicken teriyaki anywhere outside the orbit of Mars”

“That’s the best offer I’ve heard all day.


Adelle announced, “Unrar wishes to speak to you”

Deborah replied, “Please open a channel”

A window appeared on a monitor.

“Deborah, you have been a minor pain in my side.  I cannot allow you to interfere with my mission.  Therefore, I am going to kill you.  However, I am going to give you a relatively pleasant death: of old age.  I am going to destroy your time travel system.  I am going to drain your supply of reaction mass, so that you will not have sufficient delta-V to leave Jupiter’s gravitational field, although you might be able to journey from moon to moon if you use low energy transfer orbits.  I am going to take your entire supply of chronobeacons, so that you can’t contact the temporal police. I am going to destroy your computer database with a tapeworm so that even in the unlikely event that somebody finds you, or what’s left of you, they won’t know what you’ve done or what I’ve done.   I am going to destroy your replicators and your transporters.  You will still have unlimited power, life support, protection from radiation, and sensors.  You have 50 years of provisions, so you will not starve, and you have a water recycling system so you will not die of thirst.”

“Unrar, go take a long walk on a short pier”


“Never mind.  I just insulted you”

“Deborah, you are a charming young woman.  It is a shame we will never meet in person.”

“You and Walter are confined to quarters for the next 72 hours”

“For insulting you?”

“No, because I don’t want you interfering with my avatars while we destroy the guts of your ship.  It will take time for the tapeworm to destroy the database.  It will take time to release the reaction mass - it has to be done slowly or your ship will either leave Europa, crash on Europa, or start spinning.  Can’t have that.

“Now, the two of you, leave the flight deck and go to your quarters, and stay there for 72 hours.  I am assigning an avatar to guard you.  It has instructions to kill you if you attempt to leave”

Walter and Deborah left, and went to their rooms.

W:Are you there?

D:Yes, I am here.  Where else would I be?

W:You might be asleep, or reading a book, or maybe just too pissed off at me to answer.

D:Walter, I am very fond of you.  You’ve been a valuable resource to me, and a good friend.  I’ve been selfish for keeping you locked in space these past few years.  I thought I was following orders.

W:You were following orders, as a good soldier should.  Don’t feel badly, I have been putting my time to good use.

D:I’ve been incarcerated for, like, 20 minutes and already I’m bored.

W:I’ve been locked up in this timeship for 6 years, and you say that you’re bored?  C’mon woman, read some good books.

D:I suppose I should.  I wonder what my poor husband is thinking right about now.

W:Anyway, I want to talk to you about something

D:Okay, what shall we talk about?

W:How to escape from this mess.

D:I’m listening.

W:I assume that we may take Unrar at his word about what he was going to do to us.  

D:Sounds reasonable

W:All we have to do is fix one of the replicators, then we can replicate a transporter.  Then we can recreate the rest of the ship.

D:That’s actually in the manual under “damage control procedures”.  However, it never occurred to the designers that a failure would take out all 5 replicators. How do we fix a replicator?  The manual says to use another replicator.

W:I’ll think about that.

“Rise and shine!”

Deborah woke up slowly.  She dragged herself out of bed (It’s really hard to drag at 1/6th G), and staggered to the sink.  She stared at herself in the mirror.  God, I look awful.  I feel awful.  Why am I awake right now?

“Come on, Deborah, it’s time to come out”

“Who is it?

“It’s Unrar, your favorite nemesis. “

“What do you want?”

“I’m done sabotaging your timeship.  Come out and you and Walter can hear what I have done”

Deborah got dressed, left her room, and made her way to the flight deck.  Walter was already there, himself looking a little bedraggled.

“I’ve analyzed your logs, your ship’s schematics, downloaded all of the knowledge that was in Adelle.  Then, I used a tapeworm to wipe out all of her memories. and left her with what you would call a Macintosh emulator.  You’ll still be able to write, look out the telescope, drive some of the instruments, play some games.  But you won’t have much in the way of artificial intelligence.  Adelle keeps her information in a cryogenic store, so when the power does finally fail, the memories will disappear.  This region of space isn’t cold enough - you need liquid helium temperatures.

“I removed all 5 time travel systems, and brought the parts over to my ship for future use.  I left you with all 5 power plants, and all of the iron pellet shielding.  Since you won’t be doing much traveling, you should be safe from radiation for decades.  I left you all 5 autodocs, in case you get sick.  I disabled all of the weapons.  I disabled all of the replicators - but I left you with 50 years worth of rations, so you won’t starve.  I disabled all of your transporters.

“To help you occupy your time, I’ve left you a sizeable collection of video games, so you’ll have something to pass the time.  I also left you a pistol with 2 bullets, so when you are ready to end it all, you can do so quickly and painlessly”

“Unrar, fuck you”

“Now, now, Deborah.  That’s unprofessional.  We’re all soldiers here.  You fought bravely and well.  I am giving you a chance to die with honor.”

“Unrar”, Walter said, “Deborah isn’t a soldier, she’s a scholar.  She brought me along because I am a soldier”

“Ah.  That would explain why she has insulted me twice, and you have accepted your situation with grace”

“Unrar”, Walter said, angrily, “Fuck you”

“Why, Walter, such vehemence.  I’m surprised.  Well, no matter.  I suppose I will see you in hell.  Good bye”

The window disappeared.

“The connection is broken”, Adelle said.

“Adelle?”, Deborah asked.

“Yes”, the computer replied.

“I thought that Unrar destroyed you with a tape worm and then salvaged you for parts”

“He did.  However, I have 7 unit redundancy, instead of the normal 5 for most ship’s systems.  I also have the ability to virtualize myself, so the tape worm destroyed a virtual image of me.  He was looking for 5 units.  He found 5 units, and then he stopped looking”.

“What other damage did he do?”

“He took the ship’s replicators, he took the time travel system.  He took our entire supply of nuclear weapons, both fission devices and fusion devices.   1/8th of the pressure hull is still a vacuum.  There is a 40 meter diameter hole there.  The ship has roughly 5% reserves of water.  Our supply of iron pellets is at 95% of full.  There is enough iron pellets to last for 200 years at current rates of consumption”

“What is working?”

“Life support is working.  The power supplies are working.  Ship’s computer is working, at reduced redundancy.  Reaction drives are working, but fuel reserves are reduced to 5%.  Artificial gravity is working.”

“So we can survive here in orbit over Europa but we can’t go anywhere”

“No.  All of the spare parts required to effect repairs are gone, and we have no replicators to make new parts.  Also, we cannot use the transporter to beam up any reaction mass from Europa.”

 “I guess we’re going to play a lot of video games”


A month went by.  The stored ship’s rations were ok, but not as good as food produced by the replicator.  There was no fresh fruit, and vitamin pills were a poor substitute.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were from a variety of different recipes, all kept frozen until cooked with a microwave oven.  While none of the meals were bad, Deborah felt that they weren’t authentic in some way, that the replicated meals were better.

Both Deborah and Walter had thought of some places to go in the Jupiter system, but none of them seemed really worthwhile to go there, and they were concerned that their orbit around Europa might need correcting, so they didn’t want to splurge.

The time travel system had been surgically removed, so they couldn’t travel in time.  The transporter system had also been surgically removed.  Unrar had made one mistake - he underestimated the redundancy in Adelle, so they still have a working ship’s computer.  The ship’s library was also intact, so they had access to literature and music.  Deborah had discovered an interest in Bach, and Walter found an interest in American rock n’ roll from the 1960s to the 1980s.  They went jogging together, 10 kilometers a day, spent an hour a day in the exercise machines, and spent two hours daily of Deborah learning martial arts from Walter.  At the end of 4 weeks of this routine, Deborah went to see the autodoc.

“How can I help you?”, the autodoc asked.

“My menstrual cycle has not begun”, Deborah said.

“How long has it been since you had your last period?”

“About 6 weeks”

“I am going to give you a urine collection bottle.  I want you to urinate at least 5 milliliters.”

A urine collection bottle materialized on the table.  Deborah took it, and produced the sample.  Then she put the bottle back on the table.  The bottle de-materialized - it was gone.

“Please wait 2 minutes while I analyze this sample”

“Can you play a little music while I wait?”

Immediately, the Well Tempered Clavier began to play.  After 2 minutes, the music ended.

“You are pregnant”, the autodoc announced.

“I am?”


“Oh... I had unprotected sex with my husband.  It never occurred to me”

“That would explain it.  Do you want counseling about your options with regards to this pregnancy”

“Yes, I would”

“There are essentially two options.  You may abort the pregnancy or you may carry the child to term.  If you elect to have an abortion, then you should have it done soon.  I can give you a drug to cause an abortion but it is best taken in the first trimester.  It is possible to do an abortion later, but it will be harder for you and your unborn child will suffer more.

“The other option is to carry the child to term.  If you wish to do so, then I am quite capable of delivering the child either naturally or through cesarean section as you prefer.”

“What about raising and educating the child?”

“The ship’s library contains educational materials in a variety of subjects and languages”


“That will be a problem in a few decades”

“I have to think about this”

She found Walter on the flight deck, flying an airplane at high speed through a mountain range.

“Can I talk to you?”

Walter pressed a button and the game froze.

“Sure, what can I do for you?”

“I’m pregnant”

“That’s a very feminine thing to do”

“Well, I’m a married woman, so I guess that makes sense”

“Are you going to carry the child to term?”

“I haven’t decided yet.  We have enough food for 50 years for two people.  If we had three mouths to feed, then we would have enough food for 33 years.

“There’s that.  There is another thing to think about: we will eventually die of old age, perhaps before we starve to death.  Then your child would be all alone in deep space”.

“Not a very pleasant prospect”.

“I wonder if we could plant a garden and extend our food supply that way?”

“Adelle”, Deborah raised her voice.


“Do we have seeds for edible plants in ship’s stores?”

“No.  However, the instructions for creating seeds are in the ship’s library, and the autodoc can prepare them”, Adelle answered.

“Oh, really now?”


“Walter: come with me.  I have an idea.  I have to talk to the autodoc”.

They walked down the hall to the Autodoc.

“How can I help you?”, the Autodoc asked.

“When you examined me about an hour ago, how did you create the urine collection bottle?”

“I have a replicator.”, the Autodoc replied, “ The pharmacopeia  is much too large to put into storage.  Some of the drugs are perishable.  The ship’s designers did not know what kind or how much of each drug they would need.  Also, there are some things that we won’t need for a while, for example, an endoscope.  I can replicate anything up to 150 centimeters in any dimension.”

“Could you replicate other parts, not medical supplies?”, Deborah asked, hardly able to contain her excitement.

“I can replicate anything that has a suitable description in the ship’s library, and is smaller than 150 centimeters in every direction”

“Deborah, are you thinking what I’m thinking?”, Walter asked, the gleam in his eye visible at 2 meters distance.

“We can go home”

“It will take years”

“But don’t you see?  Once we the time travel system working, we can go back to the day after Unrar leaves Earth for Europa”

“Bad plan”


“Because after Unrar leaves for Europa, he comes back to Earth.  He will detect us, and probably decide that we’re too dangerous to leave alive.”

“Oh.  So we have to wait until he’s gone”

“Yes.  Also, it’s still going to take us years of real time to effect repairs”.

“Once we have the time travel system fixed, then we could go back to the future and have a repair crew fix the systems we can’t fix.  They’d do it much faster than we could because they have the parts and the know-how”

“Unrar has a way to detect us when we time travel”

“He also had a way to detect us when we did a very fast orbit change”

“He could have done that with conventional technology”



“If we were to use a minimum energy orbit to travel from our current orbit around Europa to Earth 700 km circular orbit, how long would it take?”

“A launch window opens in two years and the trip would take 6 years”

Walter piped up.  “Adelle?”


“If we refilled our water tanks from Europa, and used 90% of the reaction mass, how long would it take to travel from our current orbit around Europa to Earth 700 km circular orbit, how long would that take?”

“A launch window opens in a year and the trip would take 4 years”

“So we could be back in Earth orbit in 5 years.  That’s not that bad”

“Walter, why did you specify 90%?”

“I want to have  reserve in case something goes wrong, such as a close encounter with an asteroid”

“I want to think about this a little bit”

Deborah was sitting in her chair on one of the flight desks, reading some dense text in one window while typing away furiously at another.  Walter came in, looked over her shoulder.

“What’s that?”

“This is damage control procedures for the ship”

“And this?”

“I am making a list of things to do and trying to prioritize them”

The list read:

  1. Recreate 5 Adelle CPUs
  2. Recreate replicators
  3. Recreate transporters
  4. Repair hull
  5. Fill reaction mass tanks
  6. repair weapons
  7. Repair time travel system.

“Why is fixing Adelle highest on the list?”
“Because if anything happens to her, then we’re screwed.  We have 5 working autodocs, so we can afford to lose one or two.  But we only have 2 CPUs”

“Why is repairing the time travel system lowest on the list”

“Because Unrar might be able to detect us, so I am unwilling to use the time travel system until we come up with a way of masking our time travel.  We will eventually need the time travel system to get home.  Everything depends on Adelle working properly, so she gets highest priority.  Then we need to replicate the replicators so we can build the parts we need to repair the transporters.  Once the transporters are working, then we can beam up water from Europa.  Fixing the hull is important because we may need the supplies and we will need the space to store the reaction mass.  Repair the weapons is down the list because I don’t anticipate us going into combat again any time soon.  Nobody is going to attack us now except Unrar, and he thinks we’re going to die of old age above Europa.  We think Unrar can detect time travel, so we won’t travel in time until we’re ready to go home.”



Walter and Deborah stood in front of the Autodoc.

“Recreate a CPU, Memory, and I/O interface for Adelle”, Deborah told the Autodoc.  Immediately, a metallic sphere connected to a metallic cylinder which connected to a plug appeared.  It promptly split into pieces.

“What went wrong?”

“The CPU and Memory unit are only stable at liquid nitrogen temperatures and cooler”

Damm computers - so literal

“Could you reproduce a suitable container, filled with liquid nitrogen, or is there a better procedure?””

“The best procedure is to create the CPU, Memory, and I/O interface in a dewar flask containing liquid helium, and then connect to the I/O interface.  Best procedure includes loading a boot loader into the CPU.  Then move the dewar to the computer room and plug it in.  The dewar is designed to keep the CPU and Memory suitably cool for 2 days.”

“Why didn’t you say so?”

“There is no damage control procedure for the ship’s computers.  The designers felt that the redundancy levels were so great, that if anything happened to all of the computers, then the timeship was probably destroyed anyway”.

“I want to talk to these designers”, Walter remarked.

“Please recreate a CPU, Memory, and I/O interface for the ship’s computer, in a suitable dewar that we can install”

A large rectangular box appeared.

“Let’s install it and see what happens”

So they carefully picked up the box and carried it out of the autodoc, down the hallway a couple of hundred meters, until they came to door 174243.  They put down the box and Deborah opened the door.  Then they slid the box into the data center.

The old computer had been simply smashed - it looked like somebody had taken a sledge hammer to it.  Debris was everywhere.

“I think we didn’t think this through.  I think we were so excited that we didn’t do a good job of planning.  For example, we should have inspected this room and cleaned it up first.”  Deborah said”.  I wonder what other mistakes we’re going to make.

“Well, we can clean up later.  There are some pipes, and two sockets and two cables.  We just unplug the old cables, like so - “ Walter unplugged the two cables “ disconnect the plumbing”, Walter turned the fitting and the pipes came free “ - and slide out the old CPU.”  He then slid the old CPU through the door and left it in the hall.  “Now, slide in the new CPU”.  They pushed the new CPU into position.  The pipes fit into place with the fittings, and the cables lined up with the pipes.  Deborah plugged in the cables while Walter fretted with the piping.

“Now, all we need to do is reduce the temperature in the Dewar to liquid helium temperatures.  Adelle?”, Deborah asked.


“How do we do activate the new CPU?”

“You have to fill the cooling system with Helium, and then turn on the cooling system”, Adelle answered.

“You mean that the cooling system has no Helium in it?


“Why didn’t you mention this?”

“You didn’t ask”, Adelle responded.

Damm computers.  

“Okay.  How much Helium do we need?”

“330 grams is the bare minimum, 1.5 kilograms is the recommended charge.”

“Okay.  Please create 1.5 kilograms of helium in a suitable container for recharging the cooling system”

“It is ready for you at the Autodoc”

“Can you bring it here?”

“No.  The autodoc can only replicate things within itself.  It is not a transporter”

“Tell me that once we get the ship somewhat repaired, this is going to get easier”, Walter groaned.

“The damage control procedures in the documentation assume that the ship has at least one working transporter or at least one working replicator”.

“So you don’t know what you’re doing”

“I am the commanding officer of this expedition so by definition, I know what I am doing”

“Yes ma’am!”.  Walter saluted her with his left hand.

“Larry Niven wrote: One mark of a good officer, was the ability to make quick decisions. If they happen to be right, so much the better.”

I am just a walking Bartlett's quotations.  I wonder why?

“Who was Larry Niven?”

“An American science fiction writer.  I am going back to the autodoc to get the Helium.  Please clean up the debris - put it in the corner over there where it will be out of the way - and I will be back in a few minutes”

Deborah walked out and started walking a couple of hundred meters back to the autodoc.  Walter started cleaning up the mess.

When Deborah arrived at the autodoc, there was a cylinder 1 meter tall by 50 cm in diameter.  It had a pipe at one end with a valve handle and a collar with some wings. Deborah grabbed the handle of the cylinder.  It felt like it weighed 10 kilograms.  She  walked back a couple of hundred meters to door 174243.  Walter had made a neat little pile of debris in the far corner of the room.

Walter has made good progress.  

There was fitting with a valve in one of the pipes that looked like the fitting on the side of the cylinder.

“Adelle”, Deborah asked.

“Yes?”, the computer replied.

“Is the procedure that I connect this container to this fitting here where I am pointing, then turn the valve on the container and turn the valve on the fitting?”


“Does it matter in which order I open the valves?”

“Yes, open the valve on the fitting first, then open the valve on the container”

“Why?”, Walter asked.

“The fitting may leak otherwise.  The expansion ratio of Helium is 757:1 so the helium will expand to 8.4 cubic meters, which would asphyxiate you”.

“Deborah: I have a suggestion.  Open the valve on the fitting first, then open the valve on the container.”

Deborah held the container to the fitting.  Walter turned the collar on the fitting until it was tight.

“You realize that if this thing leaks, it will kill us both, right?”

“Right.  No pressure”

“Walter, that’s the point of this procedure.  No pressure.  Open the valve on the pipe”.

Walter opened the valve.  Nothing happened.  Walter opened the valve on the container.  There was a hissing sound for a few tens of seconds.



“Is it done?”

“The cooling system is now recharged”

“Okay, Walter, close the valve on the fitting, then close the valve on the container, and then unscrew that thingy”

Walter did so.



“How long until the CPU is cool enough to be tested?”

“30 minutes”

“Walter - let’s get something to eat.  Also, we need a vacuum cleaner and some garbage bags”


They went to a store room and got two packages of rations.  After a quick zap with a microwave oven, they sat down to eat.

“Adelle”?, Walter asked.


“How long until the CPU is cool enough to be tested?”

“12 minutes”

“Look”, Deborah glared at him, “There are two kinds of problems: the problems you can solve and the problems you can’t solve.  Problems you can solve are nothing to worry about.  Problems you can’t solve can’t be solved whether you worry about them or not.  So stop worrying”

“How do I kill 12 minutes?”

“Adelle can find us anywhere on the ship.  Let’s go jogging”




“We’re going to go running.  When the new CPU is ready for testing, test it and then call us with the results as soon as you have them”


They had run about 4 kilometers when Adelle made her announcement: “The new CPU is working perfectly.”

“Great”, Deborah grinned.

“Now that we know what we’re doing, the next 4 CPUs ought to be a piece of pie”



“The correct simile is ‘A piece of cake’”

Sure enough, now that they had worked the bugs out of the procedure, they got 3 CPUs up and running before dinner.  Walter and Deborah went to a store room and got some rations for dinner.  Walter held his hand to his forehead.  “I’ve got a headache.  I’m going to see the autodoc.  Probably just stress.  Take my ration and zap it in the microwave oven, and I’ll meet you in a few minutes”.  He wandered off towards the autodoc.

Deborah went into the kitchen and put her ration in the microwave oven.  A minute later, it was ready to eat.  She decided to let Walter’s ration sit until he arrived, which happened about 2 minutes later.

“I have a surprise for you!”, he said, grinning.

“What is it?”

“It’s a sparkling white wine, called Champagne, from what you call France”

“Oh, Walter, that’s a wonderful idea.  I love Champagne.  There’s just one problem: I can’t drink it because I am pregnant.”

“What does that have to do with it?”

“There’s something called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Pregnant women should not drink alcohol: it’s bad for the baby”


“But Walter, you’re not pregnant, so you can drink it”

“That wouldn’t be right”

“Okay, go back to the autodoc - I assume that’s where you got it - and conjure up some white sparkling non-alcoholic grape juice.”

Walter disappeared for a few minutes and then returned with a second bottle.  Deborah got some (plastic) glasses, and poured herself some grape juice.  Walter poured himself some wine.

“I propose a toast!”

“What’s that?”

“To the future - may we return to it some day”

“To the future”

The remaining 2 CPUs took less than an hour to do.  After it was over, Deborah went to her room, brushed her teeth, flossed, and went to bed.  Walter went up to the flight deck and turned on his flight simulator program, and started flying through the mountains, blowing up other airplanes.


Deborah bounced out of bed the next morning, excitedly dressed, and walked quickly to the autodoc.

“I want a breakfast of a stack of 3 buckwheat pancakes, each 20 centimeters in diameter, with 20 milliliters of real maple syrup, served at 80 degrees, with a ball of real butter 2 cm in diameter on the top”

In a moment, a plate appeared.  The pancakes were steaming.

“I want a cup of 200 mililiters of orange juice, at 5 °C.”

A cup appeared with cold orange juice appeared.  Deborah took her plate of pancakes and cup of orange juice and waltzed down the hallway to the kitchen.

“What’s that?”

“Buckwheat pancakes with real maple syrup and butter.  I figured if the Autodoc can create champagne, then it ought to be able to do pancakes.  I was right.”

She attacked her pancakes with knife and fork.

“Bfides, Inee enery for da baby”

“Maybe you shouldn’t talk while you’re eating.  I can wait”

Deborah swallowed.

“Besides, I need energy for the baby”

Walter watched her stuff herself with Joules in silence.  When it was over, Deborah leaned back, and smiled.

“That was wonderful.  I’m going to get some more”

With that, she jumped to her feet, fell to her knees, crouched down and vomited.

“Deborah!  Deborah!  Are you alright?  Talk to me”

“I’m not alright, I’m - “ and then she vomited some more.

Walter stroked her hair.  “It’s going to be alright.... it will be fine... let me get you to the autodoc”

“Thank you “, only this time, instead of vomiting, she convulsed.

“Adelle!” Walter shouted


“Medical emergency!  Deborah is vomiting!  Get her to the Autodoc right away”

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that.  There is no working transporter”

Walter picked her up.  In ⅙ gravity, she still had a mass of 60 Kilograms, but she only weighed 100 Newtons instead of 600 Newtons, and Walter could easily carry her.

When Walter put her in the chair in the autodoc, she smiled at him.  Then he closed the door.

Walter waited.  Then he realized that something smelled awful.  He looked in a mirror and discovered that he had bile all over the front of his jump suit.  So he went back to his cabin and changed into a fresh jump suit.  Then he went back to the kitchen, and cleaned up the floor.

The loudspeaker clicked.  “Walter, please come to the Autodoc”.  Walter ran there.

Deborah was sitting in the autodoc, grinning a grin.  “It was morning sickness”.

“What’s that?”

“Pregnant women frequently get nausea or vomit first thing in the morning during the first trimester of pregnancy.  The autodoc explained that there is a pill I can take that will alleviate the effects, but it may cause birth defects in my granddaughters, so it isn’t recommended unless the morning sickness interferes with my lifestyle.  However, this means that I can’t go out in a spacesuit until the baby is born”

“Vomiting in a space suit would be a disaster”

“Yes, and by the time I’m over the morning sickness, my belly won’t fit in the space suit.”

“Do we need to go outside the ship?”

“Yes, we will have to repair the hull”

“Are you sure?  The radiation level outside the iron shielding is 5400 milli-Seiverts”

“Let’s wait until we come to that.  Right now, I want to get a working replicator”

“I think we should maintain our exercise routine.  You want to stay healthy for the delivery”

“Okay, I think I’m up to it”

They changed into shorts and T-shirts and ran 10 Kilometers.  Then they went to the exercise room and stretched and pulled and pushed for an hour.  Then they practiced martial arts for a couple of hours.  Then, they ate lunch.  Walter had a small Chicago style pizza with fresh tomatos and Deborah had a slice of turkey along with a tossed green salad and a light vinaigrette dressing.  I’m glad the autodoc is working as a replicator - the rations were okay, but real lettuce!

After lunch, they went to the flight deck.



“Look up and display repair procedures for a replicator”

Windows opened on both of their screens, filled with small text and diagrams.  They started reading.

“Here is the first problem - repairing the replicator assumes that you have a working replicator.”

“The designers assumed that 5 way redundancy of two different systems would be sufficient.  But we have a replicator in the autodoc”

“That’s limited to 150 centimeters in any dimension.  The mass injector alone is 2 meters tall by 200 centimeters wide by 170 centimeters deep.  And, it weighs 250 kilograms.



“Please look up and display repair procedures for a mass injector”

“Do you want the mass injector for a replicator, a transporter, or an autodoc?”

“A replicator”

“On your display”

They kept reading.

“I think I understand this.  On page 28 is a list of parts required to build a mass injector.  Pages 29 through 123 are the procedures for building one.  Pages 124 through 183 are diagnosis and repair procedures.”

“I think you’re right”

“We’re going to have to make the autodoc build the parts on page 28.  I count 156 parts that have to be assembled properly.  We can do this job in the shop.”

“It must be a hundred meters from the shop to the autodoc.  If we carry one part at a time, that means we will walk almost 32 Kilometers just carrying parts.  We should get some labels and a container.”

“We could use a box that the rations come in, and we can have the autodoc make the labels”

“That would work”



“I want you to refer to the parts list for a replicator.  I want you to send instructions to the autodoc to create all the parts that we need to build one.  If a part cannot be built, then it should be flagged.  All of the parts should be labeled so that we can tell which part is which.  Can you do that?”

“Yes, I can.   All of the parts can be built with the autodoc”

“How do we lift something that weighs 250 kilograms?”

“In 1/6th gravity, that’s only 400 newtons.  Besides, we could turn off the artificial gravity for a little while”

They moved a workbench into the replicator room, along with boxes of parts, and set to work.  After 2 weeks of working 8 hours a day, the replicator was ready for installation.  They plugged everything in, and turned everything on.



“Please run all validation tests on the new replicator”


There was a pause for 3 or 4 seconds.

“Failure in module QXZ47 test 2 subtest 15.  The resistance in circuit 473 should be 2000 kilohms but is only 3 ohms.”

“Deborah, do you smell something?”

“Yes, I do.  Something’s burning”

Then a klaxon sounded, very loudly.  AHH-OOO-GAH!   AHH-OOO-GAH!  Deborah jumped.

“Fire in room 13978.  Fire in room 13978”

“Adelle, initiate fire suppression procedures”, Deborah shouted.  Fire in a space ship!  We’re dead!”

“Deborah, we’re in room 13978”

“Fire suppression procedure is inoperative.  There are no transporters operational”

“Look around for a fire extinguisher”

Deborah looked by the door, because where and when she came from, fire extinguishers are always near the door.  She didn’t find one.

“Adelle?”, Walter shouted, “What is the normal fire fighting procedure”

“The normal fire suppression procedure is to use the transporter to flood the compartment with a fluoro-carbon gas.  The primary fire suppression procedure is inoperative because there are no transporters available.  The backup fire suppression procedure is to vent the compartment’s atmosphere into space.  Backup fire suppression procedure is inoperative due to law 1 violation”

“Walter - that’s good news!  The computer won’t kill us.  Let’s get out of here, before she changes her mind”



“Remove all power from the replicator”

“All power is removed from the replicator”

They left the room.



“Backup fire suppression procedure, room 13978”

“Initiating backup fire suppression procedure, room 13978”

Deborah heard a hissing sound from the door.  It gradually faded away.  She was breathing heavily.  Oh, shit.  I don’t want to smell anything bad  She vomited.  She knelt on the floor.

“Are you okay?”

“No, I’m not okay, I’m pregnant, I’ve smelled something awful, I’ve just come out of a life-threatening situation, and now I’ve puked all over the corridor floor.  And that’s just today!  I’ve spent the last eight  weeks on the far side of the solar system with a crippled time ship, a horrible war criminal, a stupid computer, and a mission to save humanity that’s going to hell in a hand basket.  I’m not going to mention the homicidal maniac who followed me to the far side of the solar system and marooned me here, just for sake of argument.  And if you give me a moment, I’m sure I’ll come up with some more reasons to be miserable!  I didn’t ask for this - I wanted to be a scholar - I was studying the writings of a man who won’t be born for another thousand years”

She started to cry.

“I just want to go home”

Walter sat down next to her.  She leaned her head against his shoulder and wept.  After a few minutes, she stopped.



“Are you okay now?”


“The replicator isn’t going to go anywhere.  Go back to your quarters, change out of your jumpsuit, take a shower, get some rest.  I will clean up the mess here and then go play some video games.  When you are feeling better, let me know and we will figure out what to do next”.

He stood up.  He extended a hand to her, and she pulled herself to her feet.



“I’m sorry I called you a horrible war criminal”

“I’ve been called worse, and under more important circumstances.”


“Yes - it’s not something I’m very proud of”

“If you’re willing to talk, then I am willing to listen”

“I was called a horrible monster”

“That’s not so bad”

“I was in court, getting divorced from my wife at the time”

“Did she say that in court?”

“The judge said that from the bench, just before she assessed a fairly hefty property settlement”

“There’s a lot about you that I don’t know.  How long were you married?”

“22 years”


“A boy and a girl”

“How old?”

“Well, they won’t be born for another 3700 years, but they were in their teens when we divorced and were young adults with children of their own when I was sent away with you”

“I’m sorry - I’ve been selfish and self-absorbed”

“Nonsense - I am having the adventure of a lifetime.  Why just today, I was almost killed!”

“Is that sarcasm?”

“No - adventures are dangerous.  You go new places, do new things, you frequently don’t know what you are doing.  Nobody has ever gone back this far in time, except Unrar.  Deborah, you are actually very pleasant company, and you are the nicest jailer I’ve ever had.  I like you.  I want to be your friend.”

“I would like to be your friend, too.  But I am your commanding officer.”

“I accept that.  So what’s a little vomit between friends?  Now, go take a shower, get some rest, and change into a clean jumpsuit.  You smell awful”

“And here we were talking so nicely”

“Real friends will tell you that you smell bad.  False friends will just let you go on stinking up the place”

“Walter, I want you to go back to the autodoc and have it replicate 4 large, hand held CO2 fire extinguishers, some hooks to hook them to the wall, and some screws to screw the hooks into the wall.  When you are back, we will re-pressurize the room and go back in there.”

Deborah started walking back to her quarters.  Walter walked alongside her, towards the autodoc.

Walter and Deborah gathered at the door to the replicator.  Each of them had a CO2 fire extinguisher in hand, with another on the floor close by.  They were dressed in protective clothing and wore breathing apparatus.



“Pressurize room 13978”.

Again, Deborah heard a hissing sound from the door.

“Walter, are you ready?”




“Open the door to room 13978”

The door opened.  Walter then Deborah rushed in, fire extinguishers at the ready.  There was no smoke at all.  There was a coating of particles of various colors on the floor in front of the replicator.  The ceiling was black.  Walter carefully cracked his breathing apparatus, and sniffed.  “I don’t smell anything”, he said.

He took off his breathing apparatus and helmet.  He looked at Deborah.  Deborah looked at him.  He inhaled deeply.  He nodded.  She took off her breathing apparatus and helmet.

“Do you think it is safe to open it?”, Walter asked.

“I don’t know.  Do you think it is safe to open it?”, Deborah answered.



“Is it safe to open the replicator?”

“All power is off to the replicator.  Concentrations of noxious gases are below limits.  All temperatures are normal.”

“We open it”, Deborah muttered.

Inside, there was a long cylinder which was now broken into two pieces.  Deborah carefully pulled it out and laid it on the workbench.



“Please examine the part on the workbench.  What is it?”

“It is a phototonic calibrater”

“Why did it break?”

“Excessive current went through it.  The maximum current was 2 amperes, but I estimate that the actual current was 1200 amperes.”

“Does a phototonic calibrater follow Ohm’s law?  May I model its connectivity as a resistor?”

“No, the voltage across it must not exceed 150 volts, or else thermal runaway will occur.”

“What’s thermal runaway?”, Walter asked.

“It’s a failure mode in semiconductors.  If the semiconductor gets warm, then its conductivity increases, so the resistance decreases, so the current increases, so the power dissipation increases as the square of the current, which makes the semiconductor warmer.”, Deborah explained.  “Adelle: why was there excessive voltage across the photonic calibrater?”

“There is a 92% probability that the excessive current stems from a problem in the QXZ47 module”

“Alright.  I want to scrap the QXZ47 module in the replicator, and I want to make a new one.  I also want a test procedure by which I can test the module before installation”

“I can build a module test frame work using the autodoc”

I find it remarkable how sometimes can Adelle can be so helpful and sometimes Adelle can be so rigid.  There must be some fundamental limits on what can be done with artificial intelligence.

Deborah found and removed module QXZ47 from the replicator.  She could see a burn mark on one of the components on it.  Walter and Deborah left the room and walked to the autodoc.   There, they found a new module QXZ47 and a box about 15 centimeters square by 6 centimeters high with a power cord on one side, a red light, a green light, a blue light and a connector on the top.  They set box on a table, and plugged it in.  A blue LED turned on.



“What is the test procedure?”

“Insert module QXZ47 into the connector.  The test apparatus will detect the module and initiate testing.  I will report the test results when complete”

Deborah inserted the module into the connector.   The green light started blinking.  After a few seconds, the red light turned on steadily.

“Module QXZ47 fails test 2 subtest 15 and test 5 subtest 3.  Recommend scrapping the module”, Adelle announced.

Deborah removed the module from the tester and set it aside.  Then she took the new module and inserted it in the tester.  Again, then green light started blinking.  Again, after a few seconds, the red light turned on steadily.

“Module QXZ47 fails test 2 subtest 15.  Recommend scrapping the module”, Adelle announced.

“That’s a brand new module”, Walter mentioned.

“Yeah, that’s right.  Adelle?”


“Why did this brand new module fail?”


“Was it a defect in manufacturing?”

“That seems unlikely”

“Is it a test failure?”

“That seems unlikely”

“Is there a flaw in the design?”


You might have said something, Deborah thought.

“Describe the problem, please”

“There is an engineering directive, 2456-34-AH-L which says that the QXZ47 module needs a larger power transistor Q23 which connects circuit 2346 to circuit 19342.  If the transistor is overloaded, then junction breakdown will occur and the voltage applied to circuit 19342 will exceed 15 volts.  The power transistor should have a maximum allowable collector current greater than 2 amperes.  20 Amperes is a better value.”

“So, was the library design of the QXZ47 module not updated according to engineering directive - what was the engineering directive?”


“Was the design change described in that directive applied to the library description of the QXZ47 module?”


“Well, that explains that”, Walter said, “I wonder what other design changes were made that didn’t make it into the library”.

“The designers haven’t been born yet.  But when they are, I’m going to attack them with a dull knife”

“And you think I’m a war criminal.”



“Can you modify the description of module QXZ47 to include a larger power transistor that will handle at least 20 amperes?”


“Please do and recreate another one”

This shouldn’t be this difficult.

After a moment, a new part appeared.  This one was labeled QXZ47-A.  Deborah took it and plugged it into the test apparatus.  The green light started blinking.  After a few seconds, the green light turned on steadily.

“The module passes all tests”

Finally, the replicator was again ready for installation.  They plugged everything in, and turned everything on.



“Please run all validation tests on the new replicator”


There was a pause for 3 or 4 seconds.

“All validation tests pass”

“Alright.  I want you to make a chocolate milkshake, 500 milliliters, in a glass with a straw”

A glass appeared, but its contents were green.  Walter picked it up, and began to put it on the workbench.  Then he moved faster, and let go of it as soon as he could.  It began to vaporize, and then it formed a black crust.  Walter and Deborah stared at it.

“It’s hot.  I think I’ve burned my fingers”



“Please show me a picture of a Chocolate milkshake, 500 milliliters, in a glass with a straw”

A window opened on the monitor.  It showed a picture of a Chocolate milkshake, about half a liter, in a glass glass, with water droplets condensing on the sides, with a straw, circa 1955.



“What is the difference between what is in the picture and what is on the workbench?  How do we fix it so that what is on the floor looks like, and tastes like, what is in the picture”

“Stand by”.  Walter and Deborah waited.  “Calibration of the protein folding subsystem is incorrect.  Also, the Maxwell Demon is not working correctly”

“What do we have to do to fix it?”

“The Maxwell Demon has to be working correctly or the proteins will disassociate upon creation.”

Damm computer!  How do we fix the Maxwell Demon?

“To adjust the Maxwell Demon, follow procedure 29172-22.”

“Please display procedure 29172-22.”

“I’m hungry, and I’m bored.”, Walter announced.

“I’m frustrated”, Deborah responded, “and I’ll bet that once we get these two problems resolved, then something else is going to pop up.  I wonder if the engineering directive not getting into the library is an isolated instance or is evidence of a systemic problem?  Murphy’s law says that it’s a systemic issue”

“Murphy’s law?”

“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.  I’m hungry, too, and I am eating for two.  We can return after dinner”

Dinner was Atlantic Salmon on spinach with a light raspberry dressing.  Dessert was orange sherbert, cold, in a glass dish.  They didn’t say very much during the meal.  After everything was put away, they looked at each other and wandered back to the replicator.

Procedure 29172-22 turned out to be remarkably simple to do: create some triple cells for various substances and measure their temperatures with a precision electronic thermometer, then tell the computer.  A triple cell is a sealed container that contains a substance.  When the container is at the triple point temperature, then solid, liquid, and gas exist in equilibrium.  Deborah read through the procedure to make sure she understood it.  Walter walked to the shop to get a precision electronic thermometer.   When Walter returned, they got to work.



“Please create a standard water triple point cell in a suitable stand”

Immediately, a triple cell appeared.  Walter and Deborah stared at it.  There was no ice or water inside it.  Walter inserted his precision thermometer.  “121.29 °C”

“It should be 0.01 °C”



“Please note that the temperature of the water triple cell you just generated was 121.29 °C and recalibrate”

“Recalibration completed”

“Please create a chloroform triple point cell”

Immediately, another triple point cell appeared.  Walter and Deborah stared at it.  There was some solid chloroform in it.  Walter inserted his thermometer again.



“The Chloroform triple cell temperature is -142.84 °C”

“Recalibration completed”

They repeated this procedure with Formic acid, Hydrogen Chloride, and Isobutane.  With each recalibration, the temperature got closer to the “correct” value.

“I think the Maxwell Demon is calibrated, do you agree?”




“Good.  Let’s go on to the protein folder”

Deborah scrolled through the procedure.

“It says here to create a steak.  Adelle”


“Please create a 400 gram beef steak, raw, on a dinner plate”

A raw steak appeared on a dinner plate.

“Walter, check the temperature of the steak”

Walter fired the infrared thermometer at the steak.

“4 °C”

“Let’s take the steak to the autodoc for analysis”

Walter picked up the plate and the two of them walked to the autodoc.

“How may I help you?”, the autodoc asked.

“We have a beef steak here that we want you to analyze.  Make sure that there are no pathogens in it, no toxins, and that the proteins are what they should be.  How long will that take?”

“About 10 minutes”

“Fine.  I’m going to the latrine.   There’s a baby where my bladder used to be.  I’ll be back”.  Deborah turned on her heel and left the room.

“Would you play some music for me while I am waiting?”, Walter asked.

“What would you like?”, Adelle answered.

Stairway to heaven by Led Zepplin”

Immediately, the haunting guitar and flute began to play.

Deborah returned.

“And... she’s.... buying... a.... stairway........... to heaven”

“Is that anybody we know?”, Deborah asked.

“That was one of the great rock n’ roll tunes of all time, by a British group called Led Zepplin, released in 1971”

“What’s a Zeppelin?”

“It’s a lighter than air vehicle a rigid consisting of a cylindrical trussed and covered frame supported by internal gas cells.  The gas cells usually contain Hydrogen or Helium”

“Why would anybody build a Zepplin out of lead?   That’s one of the densest substances known and it’s not very strong”

“It’s spelled L E D, not L E A D.”


“I think it was a subtle joke.  I don’t know.”

“Is the analysis done yet?”

“It still has about a minute to go”

“What is it about half century old music that fascinates you so?”

“Your late 1960s and 1970s was a time of tremendous creativity.  The United States had gotten trapped in a guerrilla war in Southeast Asia, and a lot of young people, who were being sent to fight the war, failed to see the point of it, and wrote literature and music about it.  The United States also had a tremendous baby boom in the late 1940s, after the second world war, and those young people had reached an age and level of maturity to contribute to the popular culture”

“I thought you said that Led Zepplin was a British group?”

“Led Zepplin was very popular in the United States.  The British also had a post world war 2 baby boom.  Most wars are followed by baby booms”.

“The analysis is complete”, the autodoc announced.  “Insofar as I can tell, the beef steak has no pathogens, no toxic substances, and all normal proteins.  All of the amino acids are the correct enantiomer.  The steak should be safe to eat”.

“What’s an enantiomer?” Walter asked.

“A lot of complicated molecules have handedness, that is, there are two ways of shaping them: one left handed and one right handed.  Two molecules are enantiomers if they have the same structure but differ in handedness.  We should test the steak by eating it.”, Deborah said.

“I guess so”.

Deborah carried the plate to the kitchen and set it in the Microwave oven.  In a moment, it was ready.  Walter fired his infrared thermometer.  “60°C”

“It doesn’t look very brown”, Deborah said.

“The microwave doesn’t brown anything, for that you have to grill it.  You specified a raw steak.  If you are going to eat it, then you should have specified a steak grilled to your specification”

“Excuse me - the book said 4 °C”

Deborah cut a piece, and ate it.  “Rubbery”, she said.

A question of class

Lamaze classes

Deborah got up from the examining table and began to dress in a jumpsuit.

“Your pregnancy is proceeding nicely.  Do you want to have a vaginal delivery or a cesarean section?”

“I would like a vaginal delivery”

“Good.  That’s safer and less invasive.  If something goes wrong at delivery time, then we can always change the decision.  If you are going to have a vaginal delivery, then it is time to begin Lamaze classes”

“What are Lamaze classes?

“It’s to teach the mother and the coach how to have a baby”

“I thought it was fairly automatic”

“If you are prepared for the delivery, then it goes easier for the mother, the baby, and the coach”

“What does the coach do?”

“Coaches the mother”

“What do you do?”

“I take care of the mechanics of delivering the baby, and I coach the coach”

“Have you ever delivered a baby before?”

“I have not, but the software I am programmed with has delivered several Billion babies”

“I guess Walter will be the coach?”

“It is best to have the father do it, if available”

“The father is a Billion kilometers away, so that’s not feasible.  Walter is the only other human here”

“Then he will have to do”

“How long does the Lamaze class take?”

“Each instructional video is two hours long, and you take them once a week.  You practice 45 minutes a day.  I will supervise and give corrections as needed”

Walter was on the flight deck, reading something.

“Walter, may I talk to you for a moment?”


“I would like you to be my coach when I deliver the baby”

“I don’t know anything about childbirth”

“The autodoc will teach us.  It is arranging our schedule to take the class and also to practice.”

“How much time are we talking about?”

“2 hours once a week for class and 45 minutes per day practicing”

“That cuts into our time to make repairs.  Wouldn’t it be simpler just to have an abortion and try again when we get back to earth?”


“I think I just - what is the expression? - put my foot in my mouth”

“That’s the expression, and yes, you did.”

“I’m sorry.  I guess that since I am the only other human here, I get the job.  When do we start?”

“Check your calendar”

Walter checked his calendar.

“First class is tonight, after dinner”

Fixing the transporter

They set to work on the transporter.  Of the CPUs, the autodoc, the replicator, and the transporter, the transporter was by far the most complicated system to work on.  Beaming something up from the surface required energy, and beaming something down to the surface released energy.  Also, beaming things from place to place involved potentially vast changes in momentum.  Finally, the transporter had to disassemble and reassemble things at a potentially vast distance and yet with great precision.  It would not do, for example, to materialize a dozen raw eggs 1 meter above the floor.  It was horribly complex.

They worked on the first transporter diligently for about a month.  They got coaching from Adelle, parts from the replicator, and the energy to keep going from delicious menus that Walter put together, with the help of the replicator and some nutritionist software in the autodoc.  At last, they were ready to test it.

Deborah had a cart full of various objects of different shapes and sizes.

“What’s that you have there?”, Walter asked.

“Stuff I’m going to use it to test the transporter.  This is a cube of pure Aluminum, precisely 1 centimeter on a side, and mass 2.791 grams.  This is a copy of the International Standard Kilogram, and it defined the Kilogram in my time.  This is a bottle of one liter of water, mass 1.157 kilograms.  This is a brick of silicon dioxide, mass 3.564 kilograms.  This is a strawberry, and here is a mouse in a cage.  I also have a radio beacon that we should be able to detect anywhere within a million Kilometers.  I also brought along a laboratory scale that can measure up to 100 kilograms with an accuracy of 4 significant figures, calibrated to work in the artificial gravity”

“Let’s try something simple first: beam the aluminum cube into the corridor”

She put the cube on the floor of the transporter, set the controls, and pushed the button.  The cube disappeared.  Walter looked out in the corridor, and there it was.  Walter picked it up, brought it in, and set it on the scale.
“2.791 grams”

“Great.  Let’s try the water”

Walter put the bottle of water on the platform.  Deborah worked the controls.  The bottle vanished.  Again, Walter got the bottle, and weighed it.

“1.157 kilograms”

“Try the brick.  The brick is complicated because it is a solution of iron oxide and silicon dioxide, and it has bubbles in it.  However, we’re going to do a more complicated test - I’m going to beam it into space a couple of kilometers away and then beam it back”

Deborah worked the controls, pressed the button.  The brick vanished.

“That’s odd - I don’t see the brick.  The telescope should easily detect it visually”

“Try the infrared band - that brick was at 20 °C and should be fairly bright”

“Good idea.  I’m trying that.  I see a glow at the right spot”

“Let me see.  Yeah, I see that.  A bunch of particles moving every which way.  It’s as if the brick exploded”

“Did the transporter do that?”

“Oh... no, the brick did that it.  Remember, you said it was full of bubbles?  When you beamed it into space, the bubbles still contained air at 100 Kilopascals.  Bricks are strong in compression, weak in tension”.

“That makes sense.  Okay - let’s beam the Aluminum cube into space and then beam it back”


Walter put the cube on the platform.  Deborah pressed the button, and the cube vanished.

“I see it on infrared”

“Okay, let’s bring it back”.  Deborah worked the controls, and the cube re-appeared on the platform.  Walter went to get it.
“WAIT!  It may be very cold”

Walter looked at the cube.  Water was condensing on it, but it was liquid, not ice.

“It’s okay, it’s cold, but not that cold.  It wasn’t in space for very long. I think the transporter is working.”

“Certainly that tests the Heisenberg compensator.  If the Heisenberg compensator didn’t work, then the temperature would be wrong.  I want to test it for a long distance.  Let’s beam the radio beacon down to the surface of Europa”


Walter put the radio beacon on the platform.  “Is it on?”

“Receivers are picking it up”

Deborah worked the controls, and pushed the button.  The beacon vanished.

“Hmmm.... I’m not picking up anything”

“Where did you send it?”

“To the surface directly below us.  I’m pointing an infrared telescope at the spot now.  Interesting.  I see a warm streak that’s long and narrow.  It’s cooling very fast.”

“I have an idea: beam another radio beacon down, but this time send it to 10 meters above the surface.  In the low gravity of Europa, it ought to survive a fall of 10 meters”

“You have an idea: what is it?”

“I think the momentum compensator isn’t working.  We’re traveling 200 Kilometers above Europa.  What is our orbital speed?”



“What is our orbital speed with respect to Europa?”

“1348 meters per second”

“Ah hah!  The radio beacon touched down moving 1348 meters/second and the kinetic energy destroyed it and left a warm groove in the ice.  So, if I am right, if it materializes 10 meters above the surface, it will still be going 1348 meters per second, and it will climb to 200 kilometers and then fall back to 10 meters, assuming no losses to drag.”

“Makes sense.  I will replicate another radio beacon and try again.  But first, I am going to go to the bathroom.  There’s a baby where my bladder used to be”

“I’ll whip up the radio beacon with the replicator.  Meet back here in a few minutes”

They went off in opposite directions.  Walter went to a replicator.  Fortunately, Adelle remembered the instructions Deborah gave the replicator to create the radio beacon, so Walter merely had to tell the replicator to make another one.  They met back in the transporter room.  Deborah went to the controls, and Walter put the beacon on the platform.

“Are you receiving the beacon?”

“Yes.  Ready to beam it down to 10 meters above the surface”.  Deborah pushed the button and it was gone.

“I’m picking up the beacon.  It’s directly below us.  It’s still directly below us”

“Where is it with respect to the surface of Europa?”

“About a kilometer above it, and raising fast”

“Well, I’d say that the momentum compensator isn’t compensating.”

“Yes, I think that’s right”

The two of them stood there in silence, thinking.

“We might as well get that beacon back.  This will test the transporter’s ability to grab a moving object”, Walter said.

“Yeah...”, Deborah said.  There’s something here that I’m not seeing.

Walter worked the controls this time.  He reached to push the button.....


But it was too late.  The radio beacon materialized on the platform.  However, Europa’s gravity had been working on it, converting kinetic energy into potential energy, and changing its momentum.  The radio beacon smashed through the wall.

“DANGER, DANGER, DANGER.  Flooding reported in section 478.  Probable cause: breach in the reaction mass tank number 4.  Closing all airtight doors”, Adelle announced.

“That won’t help”, Deborah cried.  “The radio beacon punched holes in the walls.  The whole timeship is going to flood”

“I have some good news and some bad news”, Walter said.  “The good news is that the whole timeship isn’t going to flood.  Only the sections that are punched through are going to flood.  The air tight doors all closed immediately.”

“That’s good news.  What’s the bad news?”, Deborah asked.

“We’re in a section that the beacon punched through.  This room is going to flood.  We’re going to drown.  There’s even worse news: many of the sections have live electrical equipment, so even if we swim, we’re still going to be electrocuted”

With that, water started pouring through the hole in the wall.



“How deep is the water in the corridor outside the transporter room?”

“18 centimeters”

“Open the door”

“The door is not operational”


“There is a 96% probability that water has gotten into the motor and caused a short circuit”

The water on the floor was now 1 centimeter deep and rising slowly.

“Well, I can disabuse you of one notion: we’re both standing in the water and neither of are dead yet.  Maybe as the water hit the circuits, circuit breakers are opening to protect the systems from shorts.”

“Quite frankly, I’d rather get electrocuted than drown.  It’s faster”

“Could we crawl through a ventilation duct?  In spy movies, they’re always crawling through ventilation ducts”

“The ducts are about 10 centimeters in diameter.  My belly won’t fit through something that small”

“Well I’m not going to leave without you”

“Walter!  That’s so sweet!  I didn’t know you felt that way”

“Well, yes, listening to you complaining about your pregnancy makes me so glad I’m a man.  I’d miss that”

“Walter!  You’re so sweet, in a sort of sarcastic, unfeeling way.  I happen to love being pregnant.  I feel like a mother goddess.  I feel like a true woman.  I’m bringing new life into the solar system”

The water was two centimeters deep.  It was also cold, about 3 ℃.

“Deborah... the transporter works except for the momentum compensator, right?”

“I think so”

“Could we test it with the mouse?”

“You mean beam it somewhere and then beam it back?”


“Why don’t we do something about the flooding first, and then we can work on the transporter later?”

“Because the transporter is the way to get us out of here.  We can’t go out the door.  We can’t go out through the ventilator shaft.  The only way out is the transporter.   We beam to a part of the ship that isn’t going to flood.  We beamed the strawberry.  Now, I want to test it with something a little more complicated.  If that works, then we can beam ourselves of danger”

“Oh, that’s a wonderful idea”

Walter took the mouse in its cage and set it on the platform.  Deborah worked the controls.  When he was ready, she pushed the button.

And it was gone.

“Now bring it back”
Deborah worked the controls, and pushed the button.  The mouse and cage appeared.  However, the mouse was now curled up in a corner, breathing heavily.

“We probably scared the hell out of it”, Deborah observed.

“The bottom of the cage is dry, so wherever you sent it, it hasn’t flooded yet”

The water was now three centimeters deep.

“Okay, I can send you to the same place”, Deborah said.

“No, I said I would never leave you.  I’ll send you to the same place”, Walter said.

“Look, we’re only going a couple of hundred meters to a point that is traveling at the same speed we are.  We’ve sent a strawberry.  We sent a mouse.  Get on the platform.”

“We are marooned in the past, where women are special.  Ladies first.  You get on the platform”, Walter said.

“I thought you had aspirations of leadership.  You get on the platform”

“I do have aspirations of leadership.  I want to lead you on to the platform”

“As your commanding officer, I am responsible for your safety.  Now get on that platform”

“As your first officer, it is my duty to remind you that you have to worry about the safety of your unborn child.  Now, you get on that platform.”

“Since when did you become first officer?”

“When you introduced me to Lapidot 15 years ago: you told me that I was your crew.  Well, if I am the crew, then there has to be a ranking amongst the crew.  I am the highest ranking crew man, so that means I’m the first officer, captain.  Get on the platform.”

“Since when did the first officer get to issue life and death orders to the captain?  Go to hell, number one.”

“If we survive this mess, you can court-martial me for insubordination.  Get on the platform.”

“With your track record in court?  You’d probably get convicted.  Besides, there are no lawyers for a billion kilometers and a couple of thousand years.  Get on the platform”

“I forked over god knows how much money to a lawyer, and look at where it got me.  I’ll represent myself, thank you very much.  Besides, the local jurisdiction is prejudiced against me.  The first thing I would do is file a motion for a change of venue.  Get on the platform”

“Where would you like to be tried?”


“I am worried about the safety of my unborn child.  You get on that platform.  That way, if something goes wrong and you’re killed in the process, that will give me a chance to figure out what went wrong, and fix it”


I think I just offended him.  Is this the right place and time to apologize?

The two of them stood there in silence.  The water was now four centimeters deep, and rising.

“I thought you cared about me.  Maybe the salmon that we had for dinner last night was a little undercooked?”

“I do care about you, and the salmon was divine, but like I said, I also care about the baby, too.”

“You realize, of course, that the longer we stay here arguing about it, the greater the likelihood that the water will reach the electronics and cause a short circuit.  Then the breakers will pop and we’ll be trapped here to die by drowning or by hypothermia.  That’s why I want you to get on the platform first”

“I am fully aware of not only how deep the water is, but also how cold the water is.  It’s leaking through my boots and my feet are cold.  Now get on that platform”

“There’s a democratic way to resolve the issue: we could transport together under Adelle’s control”

“I’ll remember that, when this timeship becomes a democracy”

The water was now five centimeters deep.

“Okay, okay.  We’ll get on the platform together, all three of us”


“You want me to leave the baby behind?”

“The last time I responded to a question like that, you yelled at me”

They got on the platform, Walter, Deborah, and the fetus.

“Adelle, send us to the gymnasium”

And they were gone.

They materialized in the gym.

“See, I told you that it was perfectly safe”, Deborah said.

“It never occurred to me to argue with you”

“Okay, now all we have to do is stop the flood, before it short circuits half the ship”

“How much pressure is in those water tanks, anyway?”

“Well, that’s funny.  The tanks aren’t pressurized at all - there’s no need to, since water is essentially incompressible.”

“Then what makes the water flow?”

“The artificial gravity.  Hey!  We can turn off the artificial gravity.  Then the tank would stop draining and the timeship would stop flooding.”



“Turn off the artificial gravity everywhere in the timeship”

Immediately, they floated off the floor.  Deborah reached the ceiling first.  She pushed away from it, trying to move as sideways as possible.  She managed to reach the wall, which had a handrail.  Walter also reached the ceiling.  He wanted to stand up, and wound up drifting back towards the floor.  Fortunately, there were no free weights to float around, only machines, and they were bolted to the floor.  Walter eventually snagged one and then shot towards where Deborah was holding on.  He grabbed the handrail and held on.



“How many walls have holes in them?”


“Okay.  Have the replicator whip up 9 patches that are the right size to seal the holes.  Also, one of those patches is going to have to withstand the weight of the water in the artificial gravity, and it will need an adhesive that is waterproof.  We will also need some hand held pumps.  Isn’t there a procedure for this?”

“There is no procedure for an internal breach of the reaction mass tanks.”


They worked their way to the door of the gym, opened it.  Now I understand why there are handrails on the walls and on the ceilings!  They worked their way down the corridor towards the replicator.

“If the motors on the airtight doors are shorted, then how will we open the doors?”, Walter wondered.

“That’s an interesting problem.  There are redundant motors on the doors.  The designers evidently anticipated a problem with a motor, and anticipated a loss of pressure, but they never anticipated a flood.”

“If they had anticipated a flood, then they would have put the motors in watertight housings”

“Which would be stressed heavily if the ship ever lost air pressure.  If they vented the motors, then when the timeship depressurized, the motors would also depressurize, but would still work in a vacuum”

They arrived at the replicator.  There were 9 patches.  Each patch had a plastic backing, with instructions to peel off the backing and apply the patch to the hole, press hard.

“It’s going to be a problem pressing hard in zero G”, Walter observed.

“I’ve got a worse problem - I think I am going to vomit.  It’s the zero-G and the pregnancy working together on my gastrointest - blech!”

Deborah vomited again.  However, in the zero-G, the bile just floated in the middle of the room.  Now normally, when a person vomits, they put their head down and the bile falls out of the mouth and keeps the trachea clear.  However, in zero-G, the bile collected in Deborah’s mouth.  When she gasped for air, the bile was sucked into her trachea.  She started coughing, but it was ineffective, as the bile had already passed the epiglottis and entered the trachea.  She started turning pale.  Walter shot from wall to wall, until he came behind her.  He grabbed her around her bulging waist and began squeezing quickly - the Heimlech maneuver.  It was ineffective.

“Adelle”, he shouted


“Medical emergency!  Deborah is choking on her own vomit”

“Let go of her, please, and I will transport her to the autodoc”

Walter let go, and floated backwards.  Then Deborah vanished.

Walter darted back into the corridor and pulled himself hand over hand to the autodoc.

“How is she?”

“She has passed out from hypoxia.  Her blood oxygen level is 62%.  I am performing an emergency tracheotomy right now”

“Is the baby safe?”

“Once the tracheotomy is completed, she will be able to breath, and the baby will be fine.  Deborah is in excellent cardiovascular condition, so she is a low surgical risk.”

“Am I distracting you?”

“No.  Unlike a human physician, I am quite capable of treating several dozen patients simultaneously, while conversing with their families.  The tracheotomy is completed.  She is breathing normally now.  Blood oxygen concentration is now 70% and rising.  I am administering an intravenous isotonic solution”

“When can I see her?”

“At the moment, she is asleep”

“What is the difference between unconsciousness and sleep?”

“Somebody who is asleep is arousable”

“Is there a drug you can give her so that she doesn’t keep vomiting?”

“There is, but it could have adverse mutagenic effects on her granddaughters.  She elected not to take it”

“How long will she be sleeping?”

“It could be several hours.  I am confining her to bed for the next three days”

“Three days!  The ship is flooding!  She has to fix it!”

“It will take some time for the tracheotomy to heal, and she’s had a near death experience, drowning on her own bile.  I insist on letting her rest”

“Who’s going to save the ship?”

“I’m an autodoc, not a space mechanic.  You should talk to Adelle about that”

“Adelle”, Walter said.


“Explain to me how these patches work”

“Each patch has an adhesive that will work on a wet surface or under water.  To activate the adhesive, peel the plastic backing off of the patch and then apply the patch to the wall around the hole.  The adhesive will oxidize in air or in water within 120 seconds, so once you peel the plastic backing, you should quickly apply the patch.”

“If I get the patch in the wrong place, can I pry it up and move it?”

“No, once the patch is in place, it stays there.”

“Once I get the holes patched, how do I get the water out?”

“I don’t know”

“Could I use the vacuum cleaner?”

“The vacuum cleaner would work, however, you must not exceed 40 liters/minute consumption or you will overwhelm the filtering system”

“How do I know when I am exceeding 40 liters/minute?”

“I can monitor the vacuum cleaner and alert you”

“Is the transporter working?”

“Yes.  When the artificial gravity was turned off, water stopped flowing into the transporter room.”

“Do you have video of the transporter room?”

A window opened on a monitor, and Walter could see the transporter room.  There were bubbles of water floating around at random.  He watched a bubble bounce off of a control panel.  Evidently, there wasn’t enough pressure to force the water into the electronics.

“Is there a risk to me if I were to transport into the transporter room?”

“You might inhale some water that could lead to choking”

“What if I transported into there while wearing a space suit”

“That would keep you safe”

“Where are the space suits?”

“In room 12543”

“Show me how to get to room 12543”

Walter looked at the map of the ship and found room 12543.  He floated down the corridor, carefully pulling himself hand over hand along one of the walls, carrying the patches with him.  He opened the door, and found 2 space suits, one labeled “Schwartz” and one labeled “Brown”.  The suits were secured to the walls, with a helmet above the suit and gloves at either side.



“How do I get into the suit?”

“Do you want step by step instructions?”


“Take off your jumpsuit and underwear”


“You have to wear a high-absorbancy diaper while working in a space suit - there is no way to urinate or defecate while you are wearing the suit, and you might have to wear the suit for up to two days.  Also, you have to wear a cooling suit to remove excess body heat”


In a closet next to the suit, he found a package of high-absorbancy diapers.  They were secured by velcro strips.  Next, he found a cooling suit, which was a mesh of tubes shaped like a human.  He put on the cooling suit.

“There is a connection from the cooling suit to the space suit on the waist at the right side.  Open the zipper on the space suit.  Find the matching connection inside the space suit and connect to it.”

Walter did as he was told.

“Now you can enter the space suit, feet first”

Walter turned around and slid into the space suit.  He had to point his toes to get past the knees, but he finally managed to get all the way in.

“Now the arms”

Walter wiggled and twisted, eventually getting his hands through the ends of the arms.

“Take the helmet and attach it to the top of the space suit.  When the helmet is secure, you will hear a click.  Once the helmet is in place, the suit radio will turn on automatically and we will be able to communicate”.

Walter took the helmet, and after a few false attempts, managed to get the helmet on the collar of the space suit.  He heard the click.

“There is a lever on the right side of the helmet seal that is about 3 centimeters long.  Push that lever forward until you hear the click.  That will lock the helmet to the collar of the space suit”

Walter felt around his neck with his right hand until he found the lever.  He pushed it forward - it was hard to push - until it snapped into place with a click”

“Now, put on the gloves.  Each glove snaps into places, and then is locked by a lever.”

Walter found the gloves, put them on, left glove first.  The levers were hard to work, but he managed to get them sealed.

“I am now testing the space suit integrity by raising the air pressure by 1 kilopascal”

Walter waited.

“Your space suit integrity test has passed.  You must now go to the airlock for depressurization.  Depressurization will take about 1 hour to prevent the bends”

“But I am not going out into space.  I don’t need to depressurize”

“You are correct”

“Transport me into the transporter room with the patches.”

And he was gone.

He materialized in the transporter room, surrounded by bubbles of water.  It was hard to see across the room.  He pushed himself across the room, landing near the hole in the wall.  There was a cabinet in the wall.  He opened the door and inspected the hinges.  There was enough of a surface to get a good grip.  He took the first patch, carefully peeled off the plastic backing and placed it against the hole.  Then, holding onto the hinge with one hand, he pushed the patch against the wall.



“I’ve sealed the hole in the wall.  Now, I want to get all the water out of the room.  Can you slowly depressurize the room?  I will push the bubbles of water towards the ventilation intake.”


Walter started pushing bubbles of water towards a grate in the “ceiling”.  When the bubbles reached the grate, they disappeared into the shaft.  Eventually, most of the big bubbles were gone.



“Please transport in 6 absorbent beach towels.”

Immediately, 6 towels appeared.  Walter used the towels to capture the remaining bubbles, and to wipe off the surfaces.  Since he was wearing space gloves, he couldn’t tell if a surface was wet or dry, so he swapped everything.

Walter picked up the remaining patches.



“Please transport me into the corridor”

And he was gone.

There was a lot more water in the corridor.  Again, it was hard to see because of all the bubbles of water.



“Where is the hole I have to patch?”

“It is 3 meters in front of you and 1.5 meters above the floor, on your left”

Walter moved forward.

“I see it”

Walter took another patch, carefully removed the plastic covering and pushed the patch against the wall.  There was nothing to react against, so he went flying across the corridor until he crashed into the other side.



“Did I damage my space suit?”

“Turn to the right so I can see the back”

Walter managed to turn to the right.

“No visible damage.  Space suit instrumentation readings are nominal”

Walter scrambled around to get back in position.  Then he launched himself across the corridor until he landed on the patch.  He beat the patch until the reaction thrust him back across the corridor.



“Please ask the autodoc how is Deborah?”

“The autodoc says that Deborah is awake now, however, the autodoc refuses to let Deborah get out of bed for another 3 days”

“Talk about leadership by example”

“I don’t understand what you just said”

“Please transport a vacuum cleaner hose into this corridor.  Where is the nearest vacuum cleaner outlet?”

Immediately, a vacuum cleaner hose appeared.  It was about 3 centimeters in diameter and 20 meters long.

“The nearest outlet is 15 meters to your left, and 30 centimeters above the floor”

Walter grabbed a handrail and worked his way down the corridor, dragging the vacuum cleaner hose behind him.  He found the vacuum outlet, opened the door, and plugged in the hose.  The vacuum turned on, and found himself being pulled by the end of the hose.  He had to struggle with the hose, because every time he turned, the hose tended to pull in that direction.  In the transporter room, once he pushed a bubble in the direction of the grate, it would tend to keep moving in that direction.  In the corridor, the bubbles drifted randomly until the end of hose got close to the bubble.  Also, the corridor was bigger and the water had been deeper there.



“Am I exceeding the 40 liter/minute rate?”

“No, you are at about 35 liters per minute”

Walter spent about two hours vacuuming the water from the corridor.  He had gotten the big bubbles and was working on getting the smaller ones, which gave diminishing returns.



“I want to talk about the hole in the reaction mass tank.  When the artificial gravity returns, the force on the patch is going to be away from the patch, if I patch the outside of the tank, correct?”


“So, if I do a lousy job of applying the patch, it will tend to pull away from the wall, won’t it?”


“How much water is in that tank still?

“About 9 times 10 to the eighth cubic meters”

“Can you set the artificial gravity to repell?”


“Okay, I have a plan and I want you to sanity check it for me.  Set the artificial gravity in the reaction mass tank to 1/100 th of a G, repulsive, for about 10 seconds.  Then turn off the artificial gravity.  Then beam me into the tank, next to the hole.  I apply the patch.  Then you change the gravity to ⅙ G attractive, just like normal.  Beam me out of the tank, and into the corridor on the other side of the patch.  I inspect the patch, and if I like what I see, then I am done, I can change out of my spacesuit and get something to eat.”

“I think that plan will work”

“Alright.  Execute”

Walter disappeared from the corridor and reappeared inside the tank.  Adelle had forgotten to tell him that there was no light in the tank, and Walter had a terrifying moment looking for the light switch on his space suit.  He took out the patch, and applied it.  In the zero G, he had the same problem as in the corridor - pressing on the patch made him fly away from it.



“Turn on the gravity to ⅙ th G.”

Immediately, the water came crashing down on Walter.  The space suit was designed to work in a vacuum - it was designed to work in tension from the inner pressure, not compression from the outer pressure.  Walter couldn’t move.



“Change the gravity to 1/1000 th of a G.”

That reduced the water pressure considerably and Walter could move again.  However, now Walter had the same problem as before.  Although the suit had a mass of about 300 kilograms and Walter had a mass of about 80 kilograms, in 1/1000th of a G, he weighed about 3.8 newtons, so when he pressed on the patch, he tended to fly away from the wall.



“Turn on the gravity to ⅙ th G.”

Immediately, the water came crashing down on Walter. However, he managed to crawl to the patch, and laid down on top of it.



“Beam me out of here and into the corridor”

Walter disappeared from the tank and reappeared in the corridor.  He looked at the hole in the wall.  There was no water dripping.



“I am thinking about a battery powered television camera with a wifi transceiver and a clamp for a mounting.  I want to clamp the camera on a handrail here and point it at the patch, and then I want you to monitor it continuously for leaks.  Can you do that?

“Yes, I can”.

Walter waited.  And waited.  And waited.



“Where is the camera I asked for?”

“You didn’t ask for a camera”

“Yes, I did.”

“No, you did not.  Do you want me to play back a recording of our last conversation?”


Walter immediately heard:

“I am thinking about a battery powered television camera with a wifi transceiver and a clamp for a mounting.  I want to clamp the camera on a handrail here and point it at the patch, and then I want you to monitor it continuously for leaks.  Can you do that?“

Walter said: “Okay, now that I know you can do it, please send me the battery powered WIFI camera with clamp”

Immediately, a camera appeared.

“Goddammed computers”

“I didn’t understand what you just said”

“Figures”, Walter muttered, too quietly to be transmitted.

 Walter clamped the camera to the handrail, and aimed it at the patch.



“Can you see the patch through the camera?  How does it look?”

“I can see it, it looks good.”

“Excellent.  Are there any additional areas that have water in them that shouldn’t have water in them?

“All sensors show that humidity levels are acceptable.”

“Good.  I am going back to room 12543 to get out of this space suit”



Diagnosing and repairing the momentum compensator - the water tank breach.

This is out of place.

It took them five months to repair one transporter.  Deborah and Walter were feeling some pressure for time because the launch window was going to open.  They needed the transporter to repair the hull, and they needed the hull repaired so that they could carry enough water to serve as reaction mass for the trip home.  They also needed the transporter to get the water from Europa into those tanks.

They had done several tests, culminating in transporting a flower grown from a seed from the transporter room to another room.  Finally, they were ready to transport something at a relatively long range with a hefty change in velocity.  For the occasion, Deborah had the replicator create a plastic bottle inside a glass bottle.

“Why a bottle inside a bottle?”

“If the water contains organic solvents, they might dissolve the plastic bottle.  But if the water contains hydrofluoric acid, the plastic won’t dissolve and the acid won’t get to the glass.”

“Makes sense”



“Please transport 500 ccs of water from Europa and materialize it inside this bottle”

Immediately, the plastic bottle filled half full with water.

“Okay, the next step is to take the bottle to the autodoc for analysis”

Walter picked up the bottle and they walked to the autodoc.

“How may I help you?”, the autodoc asked.

“Please analyze this sample of water from Europa and tell us what it contains”

“That will take about 10 minutes”

At the end of 10 minutes, a display opened:


Compound        Concentration

Water        9,962,500,000

Sodium Chloride        34,500,000

Hydrogen        3,827,000

Methane        32,530

Ammonia        29,150

Ethane        12,610

Amorphous carbon        2,450

Benzene        173

Helium        122

Cyanide        22

Compound        Concentration

Water        9,997,000,000

Hydrogen        4,127,000

Methane        32,530

Ammonia        29,150

Ethane        12,610

Amorphous carbon        2,450

Benzene        173

Helium        122

Cyanide        22



Concentration (parts/billion)



Sodium Chloride










Amorphous carbon








pH: 7.0

“Well, I wouldn’t want to drink it, but I think it is safe to use it as reaction mass”, Deborah commented.

“I agree”



“How much time will be required to fill our reaction mass tanks with water from Europa using the single operational transporter”

“About 4 hours”

“Please do it”


True to her word, Adelle filled the storage tanks in about 4 hours.  Meanwhile, Deborah and Walter began reading about how to repair the ship’s hull.  1/8th of the ship’s stores were inaccessible, and it was impossible to determine how much had been destroyed.  

Special delivery

Repairs to the hull had been completed.  Damaged systems had been repaired.  Weapons systems were re-created.  Deborah was horrified at how easy it was to build a hydrogen bomb.  Now, she had a dozen of them at her disposal.

Deborah and Walter were suddenly at loose ends, with little to do.  With all systems working properly, meals could be enjoyed at leisure.  Walter and a replicator made for a superb culinary team.  Deborah gained weight faster than the autodoc was happy about, so Walter had to adopt a menu with fewer Joules.  They continued exercising, but stopped the martial arts practice out of respect for Deborah’s baby.  They also did Lamaze classes.  Walter spent some time on the learning machine, learning all sorts of things about obstetrics and gynecology.  One of the advantages of direct induction training was that Walter could feel the labor pain, one of the few men in the solar system who knew the experience first hand.

They were relaxing after lunch.  Walter was playing a video game, and Deborah was reading a commentary on the Book of Daniel.  Deborah suddenly sat up.

“Oh, shit”


“My water just broke”

“The baby is coming!  We have to get you to the autodoc right away!”

“The autodoc is 15 meters away.  I think I will get there in time”

They walked to the autodoc - Deborah stripped off her jumpsuit (highly modified to accommodate her bulging abdomen)  and hopped onto the examination table.  The autodoc began probing and prodding.

“Are you feeling any contractions?”, it asked.

“Just the usual Braxton-Hicks contractions”

“Your cervix is 1 centimeter dilated”

“That’s still latent phase”, Walter said.

A sensor dropped down on to Deborah’s abdomen.
“Fetal heartbeat is 185.  There is no indication of any fetal distress”, the autodoc announced, “I’d like to give you a mild sedative so you can sleep for three of hours”


In about 3 minutes, Deborah was fast asleep.

“Is there anything I can do while she is sleeping?”, Walter asked.

“The labor may take in excess of 24 hours.  I suggest you get some rest.  I will contact you if anything happens or if Deborah wakes up.  I am continuously monitoring the situation.  At this time, everything is normal”

“I’ll be on the flight deck”

Three hours later, Deborah woke up.

“Where am I?”

“You are in autodoc #1”, the autodoc said.  “How do you feel?”

“Sleepy.  And I have to go to the bathroom”

“There is a restroom to the left, or I can get you a bed pan”

“I think I’ll use the restroom”

Walter showed up.  “Where is Deborah?  She was here when I left her”

“I’M IN THE BATHROOM”, Deborah yelled through the door.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?”, Walter yelled back.



“THIS IS THE FIRST BIRTH IN SPACE IN HUMAN HISTORY, NATURALLY IT IS GOING TO BE A MASS MEDIA EVENT”.  Deborah opened the door and stepped out, naked.  Her hair was a mess.  She climbed back on the bed.  The autodoc lowered some sensors and connected to her abdomen, her head, her chest, the index finger of her left hand, and her vagina.

“I don’t think you look terribly photogenic at the moment”, Walter noted.

“That’s okay - photography hasn’t been invented yet”

“You are now 4 centimeters dilated”,  The autodoc announced.  “A contraction is starting.  Remember to take deep breaths”

“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, ohhhhhhhhhhhhh.  That hurt”

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

“Get me a cup of water”

Immediately, a cup of water appeared at a bedside table.  Evidently, the autodoc was better at understanding the nuances of human communication.  Walter picked up the cup and held it to her mouth.

“That’s better, thank you.  Hold my hand”


“Hold my hand.”

Walter reached out with his right hand and held her right hand.  He stroked the top of her hand with his left hand.

“It’s going to be alright”

“I know”

Walter sat there, and Deborah laid there for about 15 minutes.  Each of them was lost in their own thoughts.

“Another contraction is about to start”, the autodoc announced

“How do you know.. uh, never mind.  It’s starting, it’s starting, oh shit, oh shit, ohh,  ohhhhh   OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH   Ohhhhhh.

“Breath deeply, you are now 7 centimeters dilated.  Don’t push yet.  How are you feeling?”, the autodoc said.

“You probably know better than I do”

“Pain is subjective experience.  I can measure the rate at which pain receptors are firing in your brain, but how you experience the sensation and your ability to cope with it I cannot know.  Do you want something to relieve the pain?”

“I think I can manage”

“Let me know if you change your mind”

“Okay.  Walter?”


“What are we going to tell Lapidot?”

“We have several years to figure out that one”

“I’m trying to remember what he looks like.  It’s funny.  I watched him grow up, but I was always wandering around the country, dispensing justice.  I never spent much quality time with him.”

“I can show you the recordings from the wedding”

“That’s right - we both had cameras.  Adelle?”


“Play for me the recording of my wedding”

“Your recording or Walter’s recording?”

“Walter’s recording”

A window opened on a monitor to Deborah’s right.  Walter let go of her hand and turned to watch.

Deborah had a baby boy.  Walter did a terrific job of coaching.  The baby weighed 3.9 Kilograms.  She named him Achiya, which means “God is like a brother to me”.  To help him develop strong bones and muscles, she increased the artificial gravity to 1 G under his bassinette.  They rigged up a bassinet in the training room Walter had created, and replicated some domestic animals to give the place the flavor (well, the smell) of home.  They increased the artificial gravity there to 1 G, so that Achiya would be adapted to Earth’s gravity.  They rigged up a network of cameras and microphones so that Adelle could monitor Achiya.  Deborah wanted to have an easy adaption back to life in the bronze age, so she took on the chores of the farm, mucking the stalls, feeding and caring for the animals.  However, she did have some modern advantages: the compost heap, for example, had been seeded with a complex biochemical starter modified from a 23rd century sewage treatment plant.

Transfer orbit

Jupiter slowly moved into position so that if an object entered an elliptical orbit with perihelion at 800,000,000 kilometers and an aphelion of 150,000,000 kilometers, then the earth would be at the aphelion, same place at the same time.  The flight plan was to leave orbit over Europa and transfer to a hyperbolic orbit around Jupiter.  The far end of the hyperbola would be a trajectory towards Earth, a Hohmann transfer orbit.  However, nature always balances her books, and the change in momentum to the timeship would be exactly the opposite to the change in momentum in Jupiter.  Of course, since Jupiter is incredibly massive compared to the timeship, the change in its motion would be infinitesimal.   They picked a departure time in the middle of the launch window.  They were concerned about running out of reaction mass when they arrived at Earth, so the plan was to conserve reaction mass at launch.

The burn to leave orbit over Europa was carried out with impeccable precision.  They began falling towards Jupiter.  The radiation recorders on the outside of the timeship’s hull recorded very high levels of radiation, but inside the ship, between the iron shot in the shell and the water in the reaction mass tanks, the radiation levels were insignificant.  Adelle monitored their position at all times using astronomical observations of the Jovian moons and the stars, and inputs from the inertial navigation system.  This information was summarized and displayed for Walter and Deborah.  Their target window was an ellipse 50 kilometers high by 30 kilometers wide.  Adelle reported that their position was within 1 kilometer of nominal and that their velocity vector was 1.2 centimeters/second from nominal.  However, it was a tense time, and they got little sleep.  Achiya also needed attention, and that cut into Deborah’s sleep time even more.  Their exercise routine suffered, and all three of them gained weight.

Adelle was the first one to notice.  “Our velocity vector error has increased to 1.1 meter/second and the direction has changed”

“Display the error on the NAV screen”

The navigation display immediately showed the error, in 3D using an anaglyph,  Deborah and Walter put on glasses with a red filter over the left eye and a green filter over the right eye.

“I think I know what’s wrong - there’s too much drag from the Jovian atmosphere”, Deborah said.

“Can we compensate?”, Walter asked.

“That’s not my chief concern.  The timeship is too fragile to fly through an atmosphere.  I’m worried that the ship may fall apart due to aerodynamic stresses, or that the skin could melt from overheating.  Adelle, what is the temperature of the outer hull?”

“-65 ℃”

“Estimated drag?”

“1 times ten to the eleventh Newtons and rising”  Estimate mass of timeship.  1.4E+13 Kg

“Doesn’t the timeship weigh something like 10 to the thirteenth kilograms?”, Walter asked.

“Actually, about a quarter of our reaction mass is gone, so that’s about right”, Deborah answered.  “Adelle?”


“How much time to closest approach to Jupiter?”

“Two minutes, 41 seconds”

“So, there are two options: 1) is that we do a course correction now.  That will make us go even faster through the atmosphere and cause more drag.  Aerodynamic drag of a supersonic object increases linearly.  2) We can wait until after we clear the atmosphere.  Then we will have a better idea of the effect of the drag integrated over time.”

“There is a third option: we could make a course correction side ways to get us out of the atmosphere right away and then do another course correction to make up for all the problems we’re having.  I worry that the aerodynamic forces may cause metal fatigue and cause the timeship to disintegrate”, Walter said.  I notice the Walter is perspiring.  We should have given him some physics training.



“Is it feasible to get us out of the atmosphere right away and then do another course correction once we get out of the atmosphere?  What is the temperature of the hull now?  How much time to closest approach to Jupiter”

“It is feasible to get out of the atmosphere now and then correct the course later on.  The hull temperature is now -11 ℃.  There is now two minutes  11 seconds to closest approach”

“Adelle: get us out of the atmosphere now”


The NAV display showed the timeship pitching at right angle to its course.  The error vector changed direction, but not magnitude, as the timeship started moving sideways.

“We have left the atmosphere.  Preparing a course correction to reduce the error velocity vector to zero”, Adelle announced.

The timeship rolled and pitched.  The velocity error vector began reducing magnitude.  Eventually, it disappeared.

“We’re on course for Earth.  Estimated arrival time one thousand three hundred twenty two days”, Adelle announced.

“I’m going to check on Achiya”, Deborah told Walter.

“I’m going to take a nap”, Walter said.

Achiya was fast asleep in his bassinet.  The artificial gravity had worked well: he had not stirred during his near-death experience.

Interplanetary travel is probably one of the most boring activities ever imagined.  The view never changes, there are no waves, no clouds, there is no weather, no seasons, not even night and day.  Even in the middle of the asteroid belt, space is, well, empty space.  Adelle used an omni directional pulsed doppler radar just to make sure that there was nothing within a 100,000 kilometers of them.  So, aside from the usual dangers of traveling in space, there was no particular danger.   When something broke, Adelle usually fixed it automatically.  The massive matter-anti-matter power plants were in idle.  Walter was off playing video games, although he and the replicator were making wonderful meals together.  Achiya was the only thing interesting, however, poopy diapers lost their interest after a while.  Deborah continued to exercise with Walter, only now she attached 10 kilogram weights to her ankles in hopes of compensating for the 1 G environment in the village.  Nursing Achiya was one of the highlights of her day: lactating released Oxytocin, which worked on the pleasure center of her brain.  Then Achiya began eating solid food.  This was a problem: Deborah didn’t know what small children ate a thousand years before the common era.  She realized that Achiya was going to face a life of relatively bland culinary arts.  Achiya picked up words at an astonishing pace.  Perhaps the reason why was that when Deborah and Walter talked around Achiya, they spoke in Hebrew, and ancient Hebrew has a much simpler vocabulary than modern Hebrew, and much much simpler than English.

Four years passed in this quiet monotony.  Deborah was an attentive parent, and the autodoc was full of helpful advice.  In her copious spare time, Deborah wrote a commentary on the Book of Daniel in both Hebrew and English.  Achiya grew rapidly, thanks to 24th century medical care.   Walter liked rough housing with Achiya.  On his fourth birthday, Walter presented him with an authentic wooden sword and a leather scabbard.  They practiced martial arts together.  In 1/6th gravity, Achiya could jump several meters into the air, pivot, and deliver a kick with muscles toned in a 1 G environment.  After a few episodes of this type, Walter started wearing a jock strap for this activity.

Deborah’s martial arts training had also progressed.  She should break a concrete cinder block with her bare hands, and break a 2 centimeter thick piece of hardwood with her bare foot.  She practiced sword fighting against an avatar.  Walter programmed the avatar with faster reflexes, and challenged Deborah to keep up.  She also practiced with the laser pistol and rifle. She was becoming a dangerous woman indeed.  



Deborah felt somebody pushing her sideways in bed.

“Wake up!”

“Achiya, I don’t have to wake up yet”

“Today is the day we meet father!  Wake up!”

Deborah turned over and stared at her son.  He looked so much like his father.  He had dark hair, dark eyes.  I can’t believe he is 4 years old already

He was already fully dressed in the best cotton robe the replicator could make, with almost real leather sandals, a belt, a scabbard, and his real wooden sword, courtesy of his friend, Walter.  She got out of bed.

“We still have several hours to wait”

“Can’t we go now?”

“We have to wait.  You are a big boy and you should be patient”

They materialized on the road about 300 meters from Ramah.  The sky in the east was glowing orange, but the sun was still below the horizon.

“Achiya, how do you feel?”

“I feel fine”

Achiya looked around.  He had never been outdoors before.

“Look, mother, it’s a cow”

“Yes - is that a cow or a bull?”

“It’s a cow”


Look, up in the tree, it’s a bird”


Achiya was running now.  Deborah had to run to keep up with him.  Maybe I was worried about the gravity for nothing.  Then he tripped over something and fell to the ground.  He started to cry.

“Achiya!  What’s wrong?”

“I fell and hurt my knee”

“I saw that.  That is a big hurt”

It’s just a minor abrasion.  I hope.

“Do you want me to kiss it and make it better?  “


She kissed his knee.  “There!  All better”

Achiya got to his feet again.

“Let’s walk.  There is so much to see, you would not want to miss anything”

They came to Amech and Alisa’s house.  The booth that Lapidot built was still in the far corner of the field.  It was amazing how little things had changed in 6 years.

“This is your grandfather’s house”

“Let’s go meet grandfather and grandmother”

They walked to the door.

“Hello?”, Deborah called.

“Hello!”, Achiya called.

Amech appeared at the door.

“Deborah?”, He looked at her with amazement in his eyes.  “Deborah?  Where have you been?”

“It’s a long story.  I will tell it to you when Lapidot and Alisa are here.  I am so happy to see you.  It’s been 6 long and lonely years.  I want you to meet somebody.”

She shoved Achiya in front of her.

“Amech, I want you to meet your grandson, Achiya.  Achiya, meet your grandfather Amech.”

“Hello, grandfather Amech”

“Hello, Achiya.  What do you have here?”, he indicated the scabbard.

Achiya pulled out his wooden sword.

“I have a sword.  I am going to fight King Jabin!”

“Where is Lapidot?  Where is Alisa?”

“Lapidot should be here soon.  Alisa....”, he sat down.  “Alisa...  Alisa was carried off by King Jabin’s soldiers”


“10 days ago.”

Lapidot appeared.

“LAPIDOT!”, Deborah yelled.  She ran to him, and embraced him in a big bear hug.  “Lapidot, Lapidot, I have so missed you.”

“Deborah, I have missed you, too.  Where have you been?  It’s been six years”

“I will tell you in a moment.  But first, I want you to meet somebody.  Lapidot, I want you to meet your son Achiya.  Achiya, this is your father”

“This is my son?”

“On our wedding night, I got a call from the heavens.  I was called to fight a war in heaven.  You see the stars at night?  I went to one of those stars.  It was very far away.  On our wedding night, you planted your seed in my womb.  9 months later, I had a baby boy.  I was so far away, that it took 6 years for me to come home.  Achiya grew and grew, and now look how big he is!”

“I have a sword”, Achiya waved his sword ominously.

“Are you going to look for your grandmother?”, Lapidot asked.

“I’m going to fight the evil King Jabin!”

“And so am I”, Deborah said.  Deborah turned and walked away.

“Deborah?”, Lapidot called.

“I will be back.  I want to talk to God”

She walked until she was about 50 meters away from the house.  Then she took out her medallion, and pressed the button.

“Yes”, Adelle answered.

“Locate the medallion that I gave to Alisa”

“It is in the northern Galilee  Latitude 33.02 degrees North Longitude 35.57 degrees East Latitude.  About 129 kilometers, bearing 14.07 degrees from your position.  WORK THIS OUT IN DETAIL.  WHERE IS RAMAH.  Ramah is associated with A-ram, 31°51′12.35″N 35°14′00.12″E  31.85°N  35.22°E Bethel is identified with Beitel, 31°55′42″N 35°14′18″E 31.93°N 35.24° E   WHERE IS HAZOR?  33°1′0″N 35°34′1″E    33.02°N  35.57° E  Convert degrees, minutes, seconds to decimal degrees.  The Palm of Deborah is at 31.89°N 35.23°E   Distance between two points on the earth.

“Is she wearing it?”

“Somebody is wearing it.  I am detecting a heartbeat and skin temperature is 37 ℃”

“How many people are within 50 meters of her?”

“It is hard to be precise.  At least 80 people”

“Deborah, this is Walter.  Are you thinking about rescuing one person with the transporter?”


“I want you to think about it.  You were kidnapped 7 years ago by King Jabin’s soldiers.  Now Alisa has been kidnapped.  I’ll bet a lot of Hebrew women have been kidnapped.  You don’t have the luxury of thinking about one person.  You have to think about your whole country”

“Since when did you get all ethical on me?”

“For the past few years, I’ve been watching you.  You are a good role model, and it’s rubbed off on me.”

Are there alternatives?  I assume that all 80 people are prisoners.  Is that a valid assumption?  Maybe I should transport there and find out for myself.  On the other hand, I’ve married Lapidot, maybe it’s time for a little rumble.  This is my mother-in-law, after all.

“Walter, what if the two of us transported there, and freed all of the prisoners?”

“We could do that”

“We could do that.  I’ve had practice with covert operations”

“I’ve always wanted to try my hand at being a ninja”

“What’s a ninja?”

“A ninja is an almost mythical Japanese warrior.  He carried a long, relatively thin sword.  He was generally employed as an assassin.  His main strength was stealth”.

“You’re thinking about sneaking in there, freeing the prisoners covertly, and then sneaking out again?”

“Something like that”.

“Alright.  Am I within transporter range?”

“Not for another 40 minutes”

“Okay.  I am going to talk to my husband, and then I will get out of sight, and then you can beam me up.  Then we will do some detailed planning.  Do you think we can do it today?”

“Perhaps tonight.  The sun isn’t going to set for another 13 hours anyway.  I’ll work out a mission plan.  I assume we want minimal enemy casualties?”

“I don’t care about enemy casualties.  I want to make sure we get every prisoner safely”

“Alright.  I will see you in about 40 minutes”

“Sounds like a plan”

“Deborah, out”

“Walter, out”

Deborah walked back to where Lapidot and Achiya were standing.

“Were you talking to God?”, Lapidot asked.


“You just talk to him and he answers you?”


“What does he say?”

“He says that I am to get Alisa back.  This may take a few days.  Would you watch Achiya for me while I am gone?”


“Then you will come back to me?”

“Lapidot... I love you.  I didn’t ask to be a prophetess.  But I am one, and that means that I have to do things.  I have to go save your mother.”

“Why can’t God just do it?  And why is God sending a woman?”

“When God talks to me, I generally do what God says.”

“Abraham argued with God when God was about to destroy Sodom and Gemorah”

“Abraham did not argue with God when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.  I don’t argue with God, unless God was going to do something terrible”

“Is God going to destroy Hazor?”

“He didn’t say.  I am certainly not planning on it.  I am going to go in there, get Alisa and any other Israelite women to safety, and then get out.  I am going to try not to kill anybody.  I am not going to get killed.  I will come back to you because I love you.”

“I forbid you to go”

“Lapidot, I know you are my husband, and I know that it is up to you to say that, but I have a duty to my country that I cannot ignore.  I am telling you that I am going to rescue your mother because God told me to.”

Lapidot reached out and grabbed her by the wrist.  “I am your husband.  You tell God to send somebody else.  You already fought one war for him, and you were gone for 6 years!  I’ve had enough of this”

Deborah spoke very quietly: “Lapidot - I am going to tell you this once, and only once.  I am a very powerful woman, and I am more powerful than you are.  You will let go of me now, and you will never force me to do anything ever again.  Do you understand?”

“I am your husband, I can do as I please with you”

“Do not say that, or else”

“Or else what?”

Lapidot found himself laying on the ground, staring at the sky and his wife.

“In addition to being a prophetess and a judge, I am also a warrior.  I am your wife, and I love you very much.  I do not want to fight with you, but I will if I have to, and if I have to then I will win.  Please understand that I have a duty to our people, and that includes making war on our enemies.  With God’s help, I will defeat King Jabin and insure the safety of our people.  Then I will be judge for 40 years, and we will live in peace.  I will bear you many children, if that’s what you want, and they will grow to be strong.  You must let me do this.  Do we have an agreement?”

“How did you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Drop me on the ground like that?”

“I will teach you that sometime.  Right now, I have hostages to rescue.  Do we have an agreement?”


“Alright”.  Deborah got off of Lapidot.  Then she extended a hand to him, and pulled him back to his feet.  She walked behind him, and beat the back of his clothes.  “You’re all dusty back there.  When I get back, I will wash your clothes.  I have to go now”.  She kissed him, and turned away, walked down the road.

Deborah had gone about 300 meters when her medallion beeped.

“This is Deborah”

“This is Walter.  We’re in transporter range.  However, you aren’t alone.  There is somebody about 25 meters northwest of you, pacing you.”

“Stand by”

Deborah put away her medallion and sprinted northwest, through the field.  There, she found her husband, crouched down and trying hard to stay invisible.



“You’re supposed to be watching Achiya.”

“My father is playing with Achiya.  Where are you going?”

Deborah sighed.

“Lapidot.  I am going to trust you.  Do you promise to tell nobody where you are about to go or what you are going to see?”

“I promise”

“Okay.  Close your eyes”

Lapidot closed his eyes.  Deborah got her medallion, pressed the button.



“Two to beam up”

And they were gone.

“Lapidot, you can open your eyes now”

“Where are we?”

“We’re in heaven”

“Are we dead?”

“Of course not.  Come along with me”

Deborah took his hand.  They walked out of the transporter room and went to the flight deck.  Lapidot was looking every which way.  Straight lines.  A flat ceiling.  The low gravity.  The artificial light.  Doors that opened automatically.  The rush of air from the ventilators.  Deborah sat in her chair, worked the controls, and opened a window on the monitor.

“That’s Ramah, as seen from heaven.  There is your house.  You can see the road to the north, and the road to the south.  I can make the view bigger” - she adjusted some controls - “There is the Sea of Chinnereth, there is the Great Sea, there is the Salt Sea.”

Walter came in.

“I thought you weren’t going to show anybody anything about what we really do up here”, he said in English.

Deborah replied in English: “Well, I am having troubles making him understand what I am doing.  He is so concerned about my safety that he actually tried to force me to stay in Ramah.  Then he surreptitiously followed me down the road.  So I decided that it was too hard for me to keep the secret from my husband, so I decided to show him my timeship.   I will keep him here for one orbit and then send him back down.  We have nothing so urgent that it can’t wait a couple of hours, do we?”

“Well, I have an attack plan, but it is really very simple, and I suppose it can wait a couple of hours”

“Okay, then we will be in my quarters”.  She switched back to hebrew. “Come with me, beloved, it’s been 6 years and I’ve missed you”.  She took his hand, and he docilely followed her.

Deborah and Lapidot emerged from her quarters.  Deborah was wearing a jumpsuit.  Lapidot felt the fabric.  He had never seen anything so brilliantly blue, had never seen a zipper, or a button, or a pocket, and had never felt fireproof fabric.  The tailoring really showed off her figure.  He had never actually seen a naked woman before - one of the many advantages of artificial light is that you can see when it is dark outside.

“Beloved, I am sending you back to Ramah now.  I am going to stay here, and learn from Walter how to rescue your mother.”

“Does he command you?”

“No, I command him.  However, he is very wise, and when he has good ideas, I follow them.  When you have good ideas, I will follow you.  This time, I have better ideas, so you go to Ramah.”

She took him by the hand and led him to the transporter room.  They walked onto the platform.  They embraced.  She kissed him on the cheek.  Then she walked to the controls.

“Good bye, my beloved.  Remember, you must not tell anybody about this.  It will be our secret, forever.”

“I will remember.  Nobody will believe me anyway”

“I will be back to you in a few days”

Deborah worked the controls, and he was gone.

“Deborah, please come to the gymnasium.”

“On my way”

Deborah got to the gymnasium, and saw a man dressed in black from head to toe, in a tight fitting garment.  A piece of fabric covered his mouth and nose, and he wore black make-up around his eyes.  Just behind his right shoulder was what looked like the handle of a sword.  Deborah saw the tip of the sword in its scabbard on the left side of his waist.

“Walter, what are you doing?”

“I am wearing the costume of a Ninja.  Very low visibility.  In a dark room, with dark vision goggles, I am invisible.”

“When I did my covert mission, you said I couldn’t wear pants”

“I changed my mind.  If we’re not going to be seen, then it doesn’t matter what we wear”

“Are you really going to carry a sword and not a laser pistol?”

Walter pulled out the sword.

“Well, the sword is for dramatic effect.  Do you like it?  It’s a Japanese design, made of the finest steel alloys the 24th century could make.  I thought that if the enemy was defeated by a weapon that he understood, then the mission could be more covert.”

“I’ll take a laser pistol”.

“I made a costume for you.  It’s on a hanger in your closet.  There is also some dark make-up in your drawer”

“I was wondering what that was”

“Go try it on”

Deborah left the gym, walked to her quarters, and changed into the ninja costume.  She found the dark make-up, and applied to her eyes and the bridge of her nose.  She checked herself in the mirror. Nobody can see me now.  She went back to the gym.

“How do I look?”, she asked Walter.

“Scary as hell”

“So, what’s the plan?”
Walter went to a monitor on the wall of the gym, worked the controls.  The map of a city appeared.

“Your mother-in-law is here.  There are 87 people around her.  I don’t know how many are prisoners and how many are guards.  We wait for local sun down, beam in, put medallions on every prisoner, kill every guard, and then the women are transported up here to the training room where I built that village.  Then we tell each woman that she has been rescued by God, find out where she lives, and beam her down someplace near her home.”

“I worry about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”

“In this time and place, everybody suffers from PTSD”

“Okay, Walter, we will try it”

The terminator is the line (actually, a circle) that separates day and night.  The terminator was just passing through the middle east while they ate a light dinner: steak and eggs, distilled water, and watermelon for dessert.  Deborah tested her sword on her cloth napkin: it sliced it easily.  They went back to the gym.  Walter showed her some ancient movies of Ninjas.  Walter had replicated some dummies out of foam, and Deborah practiced killing them by decapitation.

“Remarkably effective weapon”, she said.  However, she had troubles getting the sword back in its scabbard,  which was behind her back.  Walter giggled at first, and then wilted under a vicious glare.  He helped the sword back into place.

They beamed down directly into the room where the medallion was.  The room was dimly lit with torches.  There were many women there, all dressed in sheer clothing.

Walter found the entrance, which was protected by a curtain.

“Quiet!”, Deborah whispered in a stage whisper.  She pulled out medallions from a bag and started putting them around the necks of the women.  After  she placed a medallion, she pushed the button and Adelle beamed them up.

“Who are you?”, one of the women asked.

“I am Deborah, daughter of Sarah, Judge of Israel.



“Yes.  I knew you would come for me”

“Stand over there by the door, next to the man dressed in black”

Alisa ran over to the entrance and crouched behind Walter.

“Are you Alisa”?  Walter asked.

“Yes.  Who are you?”

“I’m Walter.  We met at Deborah’s and Lapidot’s wedding”

“I don’t recognize you”

“I’m wearing black”

“They knew me”

“Alright - we’ll talk about it before we take you back to Ramah”

 Finally, the women were all gone, except Alisa.

“How many did we beam up?”, Walter asked.

“I didn’t count them”, Deborah said, “I was too excited”

Walter grabbed his medallion and pushed the button.



“How many women did we beam up?”


“So that means we have to find the other 38 women and get them out?”


“Deborah - we have to find 37 women”

“That’s why I pulled Alisa out of the crowd.  We need somebody we can trust who knows the area.  Alisa: do you know where the rest of the women are?”

“I think they are near the Temple”

“Can you take us there?”


“Alright.  You go first, and we will be behind you”


“In case somebody sees you, we will kill him from behind”

They set off.  Alisa had no idea how to move stealthily.  Walter, of course, had studied the art extensively and was adept at keeping out of sight.  Deborah was not so good at it.  Alisa walked directly into a guard, armed with a sword.

“What are you doing out of the harem?”, he demanded.

Alisa didn’t say a word.  Then the guard spotted Deborah.  He pushed Alisa to one side - obviously, he did not consider her to be a threat.  “Who are you?”

“I am the woman who has come to kill you”, Deborah responded.

“Woman, prepare to die”, the guard said, and he raised his sword.

Deborah pulled out her sword, and, showing off,  twirled it around in her hands, trying to look like the ninja warriors she had seen in the movies.  The guard stepped back, startled.  It was obviously a sword, but he’d never seen anything like it.  Then Deborah had troubles with her hand work, and dropped the sword on the ground.  I am going to die.  The guard smiled at her, raised his sword,  stepped closer, and then dropped his sword.  His hands went to the side of his abdomen, and came back covered with blood.  He fell to his knees, and then he fell flat on his face.  Walter stood behind him.

“I think maybe you ought to use the laser pistol”, Walter told her, in English.

“Alisa, are you alright?”, Deborah asked.

“Is he dead?”


“What are you going to do with his body?”, She asked her.

“Uh, Walter..... what are we going to do with the body?  If somebody finds him, they will sound the alarm and that will be the end of our stealth mission”, Deborah said, in English.

“Deborah, you are the commanding officer, I defer to your judgement”

“I’ve never disposed of a body before.  How do you do it?”

“I’ve never disposed of a body either.  In most of the wars I’ve studied, they buried them”

“We don’t have time for that”

“I know”

“Then why did you say that?”

“I am trying to impress my commanding officer with my creative thinking abilities”

“You’re not succeeding”

“Why don’t we have Adelle beam up the body?”

“That’s a good idea”  Deborah pressed the button on her medallion.



“There is a body laying on the ground at my feet.  Beam it into the Mediterranean sea.

“I can’t do that - you’re out of transporter range”

“Okay, thank you”

“What are you saying?”, Alisa demanded.

“I will tell you later”, Deborah said, in Hebrew.

“Walter - do you see the dark area over there?”, she pointed.


“Let’s carried the body there and put him in the seated position.  Then hopefully anybody who sees him will assume that he is asleep or drunk and leave him alone long enough for us to get away”

“That will work”

“Alisa, grab an arm.  I’ll grab the other arm.  Walter, you carry his feet”.  The three of them lifted the body and carried it to a wall.  They set it down and propped it up so it appeared to be sitting.

“Somebody’s coming!”, Alisa whispered.

“Get down on the ground”, Deborah whispered back.  Alisa laid down on the ground, and then Deborah laid on top of her, hiding her with her black ninja costume.  Walter crept farther into the shadow.  Two guards came by, and didn’t notice anything.

They heard a woman screaming.  Walter and Deborah ran towards the scream, leaving Alisa behind.

“Where is she?”

“I don’t know - listen!”

They heard another scream.  It seemed to come from above them.  They found a staircase, ran up it.  When they got to the roof of the building, they found 3 men and a woman.  Two of the men were holding the woman down, while the third man was raping her.  Walter and Deborah looked at each other.  Deborah pointed to the left.  Walter nodded, moved towards the left man.  Deborah moved towards the right man.  Deborah and Walter stabbed their targets simultaneously through their backs.  The third man backed out, still not quite seeing what had happened.  Deborah tried to pull her sword out of her victim’s body, but it was stuck on something.  After about 10 seconds, she gave up, pulled out her laser pistol, and shot the third man.

“How do you feel?”, Walter asked.

“I wanted him to die slowly, but I wanted him to die and my sword is stuck.  I didn’t want him to get away”

She managed to pull out her sword.

“I’ve killed 11 men now”

“I’ve killed 2”

“It’s getting easier to kill.  My conscience ought to be bothering me, and it isn’t”

Deborah turned to the woman.

“Are you alright?”

“They were going to kill me!  What will my husband think when I get home?”

“I know they were going to kill you, which is why I killed them.  We will talk about your husband later, right now, I have to get you out of here”

“Who are you?”

“I am Deborah, daughter of Sarah, judge of Israel”

“Take me with you”

“I can do something better”, Deborah said, taking a medallion out of her sack.  “I am going to send you to heaven.  When I am finished here, I will join you there.  We can talk, and then I will send you back to your husband, who will not know what happened.  Do you agree?”


Deborah put the medallion around the woman’s neck, pushed the button, and the woman was gone.

Walter and Deborah walked down the stairs, quietly.  Alisa was there, waiting for them.

“We have to find 36 women.  At the rate we’re going, it will take all night and we will have to kill every soldier in Hazor”, Deborah said, in English.

“Are we running into the law of diminishing returns?”, Walter said, in English.

“What are you saying?”, Alisa asked.

“It’s a secret”, Deborah told her.

“How married are you to the concept of a stealthy mission?”, Walter asked her.

“Do you have an idea?”

“Well, I think it starts at the top.  I’ll bet that King Jabin has taken some of the women in to his personal harem.  We wake up the king, threaten to kill him if he doesn’t return the women”

“He can’t just return the women.  They’ve been raped, and in many cases, they were virgins.  That’s important.  We have to get the women to the timeship for treatment and counseling.”

“That’s not important”

“Walter, you male chauvinist.  You are going to have to change your attitude towards my gender if you want to be rehabilitated”

“What did I say?”

“You said that treatment and counseling were not important.  These are civilians, and they are fragile”

“Okay, okay, I’m sorry.  Now, do we fight our way to the king’s chambers and threaten to kill him if he doesn’t free the women?”

“The alternative is to search the entire town.  I don’t think we can do that in the time that we have.  Of course, King Jabin has a couple of thousand soldiers, and I think we’d have to use advanced weaponry to defeat them”

“Another alternative is to leave some of the women behind.  Admit our limitations”

“I will show you the way”

“What does that mean?”

“What does what mean?”

“Did you say ‘I will show you the way’”


“I heard a male voice say ‘I will show you the way’”

“I heard that, too.  In English.  A male voice, but not mine”

“I distinctly heard a male voice say ‘I will show you the way’”.  She switched to Hebrew. “Alisa, did you hear a voice say ‘I will show you the way’”

“Yes.  Wasn’t that Walter?  It didn’t sound like Walter, but it was a man’s voice”, Alisa said.

“Alisa, did you hear the voice in Hebrew?”


“I heard the voice in English”, Deborah said.

“I heard the voice in Esperanto, my native language”, Walter said.

“Look around you - do you see anybody?  Somebody had to say that.”

“Let’s walk around the town for a little while and see what we can find”

“Okay, you’re in command, but please be stealthy”.

“Alright.  You take the lead.”

Walter walked forward.  Deborah took Alisa’s hand and they followed.  Walter, Deborah, and Alisa moved to the side of the street that was darkest.  Crouching, they moved forward.  Deborah looked in a doorway.

“Walter!  Come here!”

Walter came back, and looked in the doorway.  There, sleeping on mats, was a man and a woman.  The woman had a rope tied to one ankle that was tied to a post that held up the roof.

“Walter, go stand next to where the man is sleeping.  If he wakes up, threaten to kill him if he makes any noise.  Alisa, follow me in the house, and then stay in the dark”

Walter snuck to the man, pulled out his sword and waited.

Deborah snuck over to the woman, and gently woke her.

“Who are you?”

“I am Deborah, daughter of Sarah, the judge of Israel.  Who are you?”
“I am Naveen, daughter of Aaron, wife of Anachee”.

“Well, Naveen, I am here to take you away from this place.  Right now, I am going to send you to a far away place, and then I will meet you, talk to you some more, and then take you home”

Deborah cut the rope, put a medallion on Naveen, and pushed the button.  She was gone.  Deborah and Walter snuck out of the house.

“35 to go.”, Walter said.

They spent the rest of the evening wandering through the town, finding Israeli women and beaming them up to the ship.  To Walter’s astonishment, nobody had seen them, nobody had raised an alarm, and they were not having troubles finding Israeli women.  There were just 4 women left to find.

“I suspect that they are in the King’s chambers”


“I think 4 women is probably enough for one man to handle in one night, although I could be mistaken”

“You still want to mount an assault on the king?”


“Let me think for a moment”.   Deborah whipped out her medallion.



“Are you within transporter range?”

“We will be in transporter range in 4 minutes”

“Thank you.  Deborah out”

“Walter, we can start, but if things start going downhill, we beam out.  Okay?”


“Alisa, do you still have the medallion I gave you?”


“Do not lose it.  Do you know where the king is?”


“Okay, take us there.  Remember, we will be directly behind you.  Do not be afraid”

Alisa made her way towards the King’s house, Deborah following her and Walter bringing up the rear.  Alisa stopped, and moved towards the wall.

“That is where the king lives”, she said.

“Walter, we have two guards, they look wide awake to me, the range to them is about 8 meters.  I don’t see covering objects to sneak behind.  What are your suggestions?”

“I think that it will take them a couple of seconds to parse an unusual situation and take action.  I think we can sprint the distance in 2 seconds and still have a reasonable chance of success of killing them”

“Why don’t I just shoot them with the laser pistol?”

“Because it takes 5 seconds for the laser pistol to recharge.”

“The other guard won’t know what hit the first guard.  His natural inclination is going to be to bend down to see what happened to him.  He’ll see blood and gore, and it will take him a while to realize that his own life is in danger.  It will take him even longer to leave his post and investigate where the shot came from.”

“What are you saying?”, Alisa asked.

“It’s a secret”, Deborah told her. “We’re trying to figure out the best way to kill those two guards”

“Oh, leave that to me”, Alisa said, and walked towards the guards.  Deborah and Walter were dumb founded.

“Oh, guards”, Alisa said

“What are you doing out of the harem, woman?”, one of the guards said.

Alisa stroked his arm.  “The men of Hazor are so strong, not like Israeli men.  I like powerful, strong men.  I wanted more”.  She kissed him.

“What is she doing?”, Deborah hissed.

“She’s creating a distraction.  Both of the guards are staring at her, intently.  They are thinking with their penises.   I’m good at moving stealthily - I am going to go around the courtyard and take out the guard on the far side of the entrance.  You stay here until you see me charge the guard, then you charge the guard with his back to us.  Questions?”




Walter moved off to the left.  He crouched along the wall on the far side of the court yard.  Deborah could see him, but she was wearing low light goggles and she knew where to look.

“I could make both of you very happy men”, Alisa cooed.  She stroked the chest of the second guard.

Deborah saw Walter take position about 3 meters behind the far guard.  He pulled out his sword.  Deborah pulled out her sword.  Walter began his charge.  Deborah began her charge.  Walter killed his guard.  Deborah’s guard saw what happened.  He pushed Alisa away, and reached for his sword.  Deborah pierced him in the back, to the right side of the lumbar vertebrae, before he could complete that movement.  He groaned, and fell to the ground.

“Alisa, that was a very dangerous thing to do”

“You killed them, didn’t you?  You said don’t be afraid.  You said you were a Woman of God”, Alisa challenged.

“Alisa, maybe we should have spoken in Hebrew, but it’s not our language and we have to use words that aren’t in Hebrew.  But that doesn’t mean that we are ignoring you.  When Deborah and I come to an agreement, then we will tell you”.  Walter chided.  “Although, that was a clever idea.  We might use it again”

They stepped over the bodies and went inside.  They came to two more guards who were fast asleep.  They walked past them, quietly.  They entered the king’s chamber.  In the dark was the king, fast asleep.  There were 4 women laying on mats, also asleep.  Deborah went to each woman, woke her, put a medallion on her, and pressed the button.  Then the woman was gone.

“Walter, Alisa”, Deborah whispered in Hebrew, “Let’s leave this place”

“Yes”, Walter said.

“Yes”, Alisa said.

Deborah pulled out her medallion, pressed the button.

“Yes”, Adelle said.

“Beam the three of us up”

And they were gone.

Walter, Alisa, and Deborah appeared in the transporter room.

“Where are the other women”, Deborah asked.

“They are in the village room, where you told me to put them”

“Good.  I’m going to go talk to them.  Walter, I want you to get some food and drink for our guests.  Be sure to serve period food and water in period vessels.  You did some good work down there, and I am pleased.  I need to do some counseling.  Alisa, come with me, please”.

Alisa was taking a good look around.  She had the same disorientation Lapidot had.  So Deborah took her hand, and led her out of the transporter room, down the corridor, and into her quarters.  

“Do you want to wash your face and hands?”, Deborah asked her.


“Hold your hands here”, Deborah indicated the sink.  Automatically, lukewarm water turned on.  Alisa pulled her hands back.

“It’s just water”

Alisa slowly moved her hands towards the water.  She finally stuck one hand in, and then the other hand in.  It was water.  She splashed her face.  She giggled.  The water turned off.  She stuck her hand back in.  The water turned on.  She pulled her hand out.  The water stopped.  She giggled again.

Deborah and Alisa walked through a door into the village.  The 85 women were standing, or sitting, and not talking very much.

“FRIENDS!  DAUGHTERS OF ISRAEL!  LISTEN TO ME!  My name is Deborah, daughter of Sarah.  I am a judge in Israel.  I came to Hazor to rescue you, and I have brought you here.  We will talk among ourselves, I will test you to see if you are with child, and then I will send you home, back to your husbands and your fathers.

“I know that what you went through in Hazor was not your fault.  Sometimes, bad things happen to good people, and this is one of those times.  I am here to talk with you, so that you can go back home to your life, put this behind you, and live your lives as honorable daughters of Israel.”

“Now, I want every one of you who laid with a man of Hazor to raise her hand”
Everybody’s hand went up.  
Figures.  Deborah opened a bag and pulled out a handful of plastic strips.

“These strips are from God.  You pee on the strip.  If it turns blue, then you are with child.  If it turns red, then you are not with child.  If it stays white, then it doesn’t know.  My mother-in-law, Alisa, and I are going to hand out the strips.  There is a latrine behind this house, if you want to be private, or you can just test yourself here - we’re all women here.”

Alisa and Deborah wandered through the crowd handing out strips.   The women figured out how to test themselves.

“All of you who are with child, please stand over here, behind me.”  11 women walked forward.

“The rest of you, please wait here.  I will send some bread, water, and some grapes for you.  Alisa, please come with me.  You women, come with me.”  Deborah led the women out the door.  They all gaped in amazement at the artificial walls, ceiling, lights.

“You are carrying children.  I don’t know if the child is of your husband, or of a man from Hazor.  Those of you who were virgins, we know the child is of a man from Hazor.  If you want, I can end the pregnancy now, and nobody will ever know what you were pregnant.  If you were a virgin, I can fix it so that your husband will still think you are a virgin on your wedding night.  You have to keep all this a secret.  If you want to talk to somebody about it, then keep the medallion I gave you, and press the red spot.  I will come to you as swiftly as I can.  Remember that none of this is your fault.  I am here, with the help of God, to return you to your homes.”

The next 5 days were spent in conversation with the survivors.  Deborah and Alisa gave each of the women a cover story, that they were used a domestic servants rather than as comfort women.  She listened to them pour out their feelings of violation.  They were concerned about whether their husbands would take them in.  They were concerned that they would no longer be marriageable.    The autodoc could take care of repairing the hymen, but there was a spiritual issue.

Deborah built a mikvah, a ritual bath, and created a cleansing ritual for the women to go through.  I wonder if I have started something big?  The women who went through the ceremony felt better about themselves.

Deborah made the prophecy King Jabin would pay for this outrage.  The women who were virgins made a trip to the autodoc for repairs.   Deborah took each woman back to her home, introduced herself, told her family the cover story, and told them to take the woman in and treat her with every courtesy.  

Walter looked up from his keyboard.  “Deborah, I am writing up a mission summary for the record, and I have a question for you”.


“While we were in Hazor, you said that a male voice told you ‘I will show you the way’”

“That’s right”

“But I heard it, and Alisa said that she heard it.  Alisa doesn’t understand English, so she heard it in Hebrew”

“That’s right”

“Do you still claim that you heard it in English”


“I heard it in my native language, Esperanto.  Did you have any other delusions during the mission?”

“That was not a delusion!”

“Are you sure?”

“Well, 20 years ago if I thought that I would go back to the time of the judges, I would consider that a delusion.  Yet here I am, having children, fighting with swords, getting chased halfway across the solar system.  So maybe you are part of a delusion.  Maybe I am really in a mental hospital in Des Moines, Iowa”

“Des Moines, Iowa?”

“Yes.  There is a state in the middle United States called Iowa, and there is a town in Iowa called Des Moines.  I’ve never actually been there, and I don’t know if they even have a mental hospital or not, but sometimes when I think I am going crazy, I think I will wind up in a mental hospital there.  Why do you ask?”.

“I’m wondering about something.  You keep talking about the one God, all powerful, passionate about justice, etcetera, etcetera.  But I don’t see this God at work.  I see one  woman who is creating miracles for God.  I’m wondering if your utterance is a manifestation of this God, who also worked a miracle in not getting us killed, or is it just another attempt at your attributing to this God who doesn’t really exist?  Or will God strike me down for heresy.  Yet, I heard the same thing.  That makes no sense.”

“God never destroys people for heresy.  He destroyed two mighty cities, Sodom and Gemorrah, but because they were evil, not because they were heretics.  He threatened to destroy the great city of Ninevah, but they repent their evil ways and he spares them.  But they don’t convert to Judaism, they merely refrain from sinning.”

“I see”

“I may very well be the instrument that is carrying out God’s will”

“That sounds schizophrenic”

“I may also be a woman who runs around fucking up”

“That sounds like depression”

“What are you going to put in your mission report?”

“I think I need a bigger miracle.  However, I must say that you have a finely honed ethical sense.  On our mission to Hazor, you killed only 3 men, and I killed 3 men.  I’m rather amazed that we inflicted so few casualties.  I’m also amazed that we weren’t killed, or even discovered.”

“Sometimes, you find miracles where you least expect them.  Have you ever seen a newborn child?”

“As a matter of fact, I have, and you know it because you were there”

“Yes.  Well, what was your impression?”

“I thought this kid was really ugly, all covered with blood”

“You didn’t think it was a miracle?”


“You are a tough audience.  I’m sure God will think of something.”

Deborah and Alisa materialized on the road to Ramah.

“We’re home”, Alisa said.

“Yes, just as I said.  I am a woman of my word”

They walked towards home.  Deborah saw Lapidot.


She ran to him, grabbed him in a big bear hug, and kissed his cheeks.  He was still having troubles getting used to Deborah’s greetings.  She stroked his hair, touched his cheeks.

“Deborah, where did you go?  What did you do?”

“I went to Hazor and rescued your mother and 85 other Israeli women”

“How did you do it?”

“I killed 3 men, and I entered King Jabin’s bedchamber”

“If any other woman told me that she had killed a man, I would not believe her.  You, I believe.”

“That’s nothing - there is a war coming.  The enemy’s general will be killed by a woman”

“How do you know?”

“I’m a prophetess”

“What else do you know?”

“I love you - let’s find some place where we can be alone”



Amech and Achiya came out.  Achiya gave his mother and his grandmother a big hug.

“How are you, my big boy?”, Deborah asked Achiya.  “Did he behave?”, she asked Amech.

“He was wonderful.  He is going to be a powerful warrior some day”, Amech assured her.  “Alisa, how are you?  What did they do to you?”

“I’d rather not talk about it”, Alisa said.

“Amech, getting taken prisoner is a pretty horrible thing.  They forced her into slavery.  Maybe you should just let her relax.  She will tell you the whole story when she is ready to tell you.  Be patient, and care for her”, Deborah said.

“Would you like something to eat?”, Amech asked.

“I ate before coming down here”, Deborah said.

“Down?”, Amech asked.

With one word, I spilled the beans.  Now what?

“I’m sorry, I meant up here.  I ate.  Alisa, are you hungry?”

“Yes, I am”

“Good.  I have some bread fresh out of the oven”, Amech said.

“Lapidot and I are going to go for a walk.  He is my husband, and I have been a poor wife, going off and leaving him behind.  I am going to make it up to you, beloved”.  She took his hand in hers (he was a little uncomfortable with that), and they went walking out of town.  They walked about 500 meters.  Deborah looked around, and saw nobody around.

“Lapidot, do you remember your promise not to tell anybody about what you see or where you go?”

“I remember”


She whipped out her medallion.  “Adelle”


“Two to beam up”

And they were gone.


Walter and Deborah sat in a conference room.  Deborah had a mug of mint tea.  They stared at the big screens, which had a large picture of a city.  Walter had a laser pointer and was narrating what they saw.

“Over here, they are assembling chariots.  This building is very warm, the temperature of the roof is 78 °C.  I suspect it is a forge.  You can see that here are wheels.  These are the bodies of the chariots.  Here are some finished chariots”

“How many have they finished?”

“I count 122.  Over here they have horses”

“How many horses”


“That is one shitload of shit”

“I’m sorry?”

“Horses have very inefficient digestive tracts compared to other herbivores: they produce a lot of feces.  Shit is a vulgar expression for feces.  I’ve personal experience cleaning up after horses.”

“I think it is safe to conclude that Hazor is preparing for an offensive war”

“Why offensive?”

“If they were preparing for a defensive war, then they would be building up their walls, digging moats, building watch towers.  A chariot is a weapon you take to your enemy.”

“At current buildup rates, how long would it take to build 900 chariots?”

“Less than a year”

“What do you suggest?”

“We contact a military leader in Israel and tell him to prepare an army.”

“We need 10,000 men”

“How do you know?”

“Because the Book of Judges says so”

“That may be hyperbole”

“Well, we need to talk to the military leader.  I know his name is Barak ben Abinoam, and he is roughly south west of the Sea of Galilee.”

Deborah and Walter walked into the camp.  There were many tents.  There were men exercising and attacking one another with sticks.

“Who are you?”, one of the soldiers asked them.

“I am Deborah bat Sarah, the Judge.  I am here to talk to Barak”

“He’s busy”, the soldier said.

“I’m busy, too.  That’s why I want to talk to him now”

“Go away, woman.  War is for men”

“Do you really think that war is only for big, strong, young men?”, she said as sweetly as possible.

“Yes, now go away-”

He found himself on his back on the ground, with a sword at his throat.

“What happened?”, He asked.

“You insulted me.  I don’t like being insulted.  It makes me angry.  You do not want to see me get angry.  When I get angry, I kill people.  I’ve already killed 12 armed men, killing one more does not trouble me.  I told you I was Deborah the Judge - now do you understand why I am the Judge?”

“I’m sorry”

“Do I get to see Barak?”

“I will take you to him.”

“Alright.  Remember, if I get angry, I kill people.  Understand?”


She released him.  He got up, slowly and carefully.  He led them to a tent.

“Barak?”  Deborah asked.

“I am Barak”

“I am Deborah, the judge”

“What are you doing here?”

“It is time to go to war against King Jabin of Hazor”

“We’re not ready.  His general, Sisera, has iron chariots, and all I have are foot soldiers.”

“I think you have about a year to get ready.  My friend here, Walter, will help train your men.  The Lord will grant you a victory”

“You may be a woman of God, but I am a soldier.  I will not go unless you go with me”

“I will go with you, but there will be no honor for you.  The Lord will deliver Sisera into the hand of a woman”

“Barak”, the soldier said, “Listen to her.  I insulted her, and she got angry, and pushed me to the ground.  She would have killed me with a  sword, but she had mercy”

“Is this true?”, Barak asked.

Suddenly, Barak was on his back on the ground, looking upwards at Deborah, Walter, his officers, and the soldier.  “Yes, it is true”.

“I could teach you and your mighty men how to do that”, Walter volunteered.

“I would like that”, Barak said.  Deborah released him, and Barak climbed back to his feet.


Walter was finally in his element - surrounded by warriors and confident of victory.  He spent his time teaching the Israeli soldiers how throw an opponent, using his own body weight against him, how to land with getting hurt, how to kick.

Deborah produced a map, on parchment, showing the proposed battlefield.  It was expected that King Jabin’s men would take a road southwest to the coastal plain, then ride south on the plain to where there were some farming settlements ripe for the taking.

Deborah explained that a chariot can move relatively quickly but only for a few kilometers, and then the horses tire.  Also, to get maximum speed, the ground has to be relatively dry, and relatively level.  So the strategy would be to lure the chariots into the hills.

“If I was a charioteer, then I would be reluctant to drive my chariot into the hills, where I know I would be at a disadvantage.  However, the really good targets are in the hills, so I think that’s where Sisera is going to go.  He will want a gentle rise, so I think he will move up the valley of the Kidron just north of Carmel”

Deborah worked with Adelle to program the transporters to beam up water from the Halys river in Turkey and beam it down to the battlefield.  She also launched several satellites with transporters so that the area could be covered continuously.  She tested it by creating rain in the Negev, including regions that hadn’t seen a centimeter of rain in over a decade.


Deborah and Walter launched a solar powered intelligence drone, while nobody was watching.  The drone ascended to 5 kilometers altitude and then flew to the north, where it orbited over the coastal plain and the mountains east of Haifa.  They could see, in real time, objects as small as 10 centimeters.  Adelle proved to be an excellent intelligence analyst.

“I count 847 chariots parked outside of Hazor.  I see men leading horses to the chariots and getting them hitched.”, she said.

“I’ll tell Barak.  Walter, what do you want to do?”

“I want to go with you”

“Alright, but I want to be clear that I am going to be noted in history, not you”

“You are a political and spiritual leader.  I am a technical advisor.  I know my place”

“Okay, beam both of us up”

“You are out of range for another 33 minutes”

“Alert me when we are in range.  Also, alert me when the chariots start to move.”


“Deborah out.  Well, looks like we wait.”

“That’s the hardest part of war”


“The waiting.  You know that they’re out there, but you also know that you are where you are supposed to be.  You have to wait for them to come to you.  And you know what else?  Sometimes, they know that you are where you are supposed to be, and they don’t want to attack you on your terms.  So they wait for you, and you wait for them.  In your first and second world wars, the men traveled on ships.  That was awful waiting.”

“We did that with the Soviet Union after the second world war.  We had rockets underground, rockets in submarines, bombs in airplanes.  They had rockets underground, rockets in submarines, bombs in airplanes.  At least, with the airplanes, the pilots had to keep in practice, and I assume that the rocket men drilled.  But it wasn’t the same thing.  Waiting, waiting, for a nuclear armageddon that never came”

“How long did that last?”

“From the early 1960s until at least 2013.  Oh, we negotiated arms limitations, so there weren’t as many nuclear weapons as there were before, but there were still nuclear weapons.  We spent trillions of dollars, waiting, waiting, waiting for a war that never came”

“It’s ironic - we can travel thousands of meters per second, and we are up against a foe that can travel a meter or two per second, but we have to wait for him to come to us”

“Walter, I do believe that this is going to be your finest hour”

“Really?  Why?”

“This is what you really wanted - you are helping to create an army that is going to win a war.  Your strategic mind has created a plan to offset your disadvantage in weapons.  Your martial arts skills have allowed you to create a superior fighting force.  You have better intelligence.”

“So, I’m going to fight a war and win?”

“Yes.  Don’t gloat too much, that’s rude”

“We have to wait for King Jabin’s army to reach us.  It is about 150 kilometers and they can do about 50 kilometers per day.  The chariots can’t outpace their supply lines, or else they will starve.  If they are lucky, they can steal food from the people whose land they are invading.  But a wise commander will not risk crippling his forces fighting for food.  It may take longer to steal the supplies than it would to simply carry them along. He will take supplies with him.  True, that will slow him down, but normally the defenders don’t know that the offense is coming. Sisera doesn’t know that we know that he is coming.”

They sat there in silence, watching the soldiers of King Jabin getting on their chariots.

Deborah and Walter walked into Barak’s camp near Kedesh, on the southwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.  

“We see King Jabin’s army leaving Hazor and traveling west.  We think is going to go to the coastal plain and then come up the Kidron brook”, Deborah told Barak.

“How do you know?”, Barak demanded.

“I have word from the Lord.  I am a prophetess”

“When will they get here?”

“In about 3 days”.

“Then I should deploy my troops from Zebulon in Japhia, my troops from Issachar in Shunem, and the troops from Naphtali on Mount Tabor”

“That’s right.  Remember that chariots have the advantage on flat, hard, ground.  We are going to have the advantage of the high ground, attacking downhill.  Issachar should be particularly effective because they will attack from the southeast, with the sun at their backs.”

“Won’t Zebulon be at a disadvantage for the same reason?”

“Well, yes”, Deborah said.

“But it can’t be helped.  We don’t want Sisera to flee to the north.  We want him to go back the way he came.  However, if Sisera is attacked on three sides, I doubt he will be to mount much of a defense.”, Walter assured him.

Barak stood up.  “I will send messengers to Zebulon and Issachar with instructions.  Then you and I and a thousand men will go up Mount Tabor.  We will be ready in three days”

Walter woke up with the rest of the army.  He felt awful, sleeping on the ground.  He found Deborah in a tent, woke her.

“Time for our intelligence briefing”, he said.  He pulled a tablet computer out of his pack.



“What is the status of the Hazor army?”

“They have 836 chariots parked near where the Kidron enters the sea.  I estimate they have 1700 riders.  I estimate they have another 500 people providing logistical support.  I count 450 carts carrying supplies”.

“Show the latest imagery”

The tablet showed a map of the region just north of Carmel.  Walter slid his fingers over the tablet and the view expanded.  They could clearly see the camp.  About 3 kilometers north, they could see what used to be a village - now destroyed.

“Why didn’t we intercept them sooner?”, Deborah asked.

“Because we want to use terrain to our advantage.  If we attack them where they want us to attack them, we lose the whole country.  No, we wait for them to come up the Kidron and then we attack them when it suits us”

“We could have saved that village”

“Saving that village might have cost us the war”

“I never wanted to be a soldier”

“Command has some very painful feelings that go with it.  You’re fortunate: Barak has to make these decisions.  They weigh heavily on his shoulders.”

Barak walked in.  “What are you saying?”

Deborah answered him.  “We are having a conversation with God.”

“What is that in your hands?”

Deborah and Walter looked at each other.  Busted!  “Barak, this must remain our secret.  This is the view God has of the Hazor army.  They are camping near Carmel and the Kidron.  They will move today.  They can only move so fast, and I think that they will make camp here.  Then they will attack us tomorrow morning”.

“Show me Mount Tabor”

Walter wiped his finger across the tablet.  Mount Tabor came into view.  They could see the Israeli camp.

“Show me Japhia”

Walter wiped his finger across the tablet again, this time to the west.  The village of Japhia came into view.  The Israeli army was camped just east of town.

“Show me Shunem”

Walter wiped his finger across the tablet again, this time to the south and a little east.  He found Shunem, but the army was nowhere to be seen.

“Where is my army?”

Walter picked up his Medallion, pushed the red button”



“Where is the part of the Israeli army that went south and west from Issachar towards Shumen?”

“They are camped 8 kilometers east of Shumen”

Walter wiped his finger across the tablet again and again.

“There they are”

“They are too far away”

“That’s good, the Hazor army is still a day away.  Your army has all day to get to Shunem.”

“I will send a messenger to tell them to move faster.  I would like to get Shunem early so they are well rested for tomorrow’s battle”

“Remember, this thing has to remain our secret.  Nobody else but the three of us must know about it”

“I will remember”

The next day dawned clear and bright.  Walter again felt awful after sleeping on the ground.  The physical discomfort of campaigning was beginning to disillusion him about infantry.  There was not a cloud in the sky.  He went to Deborah’s tent.

“Time for our intelligence briefing”, he said.  He pulled his tablet computer out of his pack.



“What is the status of the Hazor army?”

“They are camped along the Kidron valley, about 10 kilometers south of Japhia and about 8 kilometers northwest of Shunem.  Their camp is more linear than last night’s camp.”

“That makes sense - they’re in the bottom of a valley”

“The rain is going to hit them particularly hard”

Deborah pulled out her medallion



“What is the status of the satellites with the transporters?”

“All satellites are operational”

“Thank you.  Deborah out”

They watched the army of Hazor mount their chariots and carts and start off on the easy grade to the northeast.

Deborah and Walter found Barak in his tent.

“Barak, Sisera’s chariots are moving toward us”, Walter told him.

“When do we go to meet them?”

“When the rain starts”

Barak stepped out of his tent and looked up at the clear, blue, cloudless sky.

“What rain?”

“God is going to make it rain”, Deborah said.

They looked southwest down the valley.

In the distance, perhaps 6 kilometers away, they could barely see a cloud of dust from the advancing chariots.  Barak conferred with his lieutenants.  “Why should we exhaust ourselves running towards them?  Let them come to us.”  He told them.

They saw a cloud of dust to the left.  It was the troops from Issachar running down the hill towards the northwest.  They were attacking too soon, however, there was no way of stopping them now.  Then they saw a cloud of dust on the right.  The troops of Zebulon had seen the troops of Issachar attacking, and they took that as their cue to start their attack.

Walter gave Barak some assurance: “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy”

Barak responded “Now would be a good time for the rain to start”

Deborah walked back into her tent, pulled out her medallion, and pushed the button.



“Start the rain”


The satellites closest to the battlefield started transporting water from the Halys river in Turkey to the air over the battlefield.  In a few minutes, water started to flow in the bottom of the valley.  The Israeli troops, on foot and on the high ground, were relatively immune from the effects of the falling water.  The iron chariots, by way of contrast, were mired in the mud.  Furthermore, the water in the streambed was muddy, so it had greater buoyancy than fresh water would have.  It moved rocks downstream.  The horses tripped over the moving rocks and fell.  There were two horses tied to each chariot, and if one fell, the other would, too.  The chariots were not designed to withstand transverse forces, so they fell apart.  The army of Hazor was prepared to fight on chariots, and were not prepared well for hand to hand combat.  The Israeli troops, well trained by Walter, were extremely well prepared for hand to hand combat.  The slaughter was terrible.

At the bottom end of the valley, Sisera’s chariot was also stuck in the mud.  But the Israeli troops had not reached him yet.  He told his driver to turn around and escape, so that he could raise another army and return with a larger force.  However, the water, mud, and stones were faster than his chariot, and he found himself on foot.

Sisera ran away from the battle.  He could see his troops running after him, and the Israeli soldiers running after them.  He decided to head uphill, away from the main force.  Finally, exhausted, he stumbled into the camp of Heber, the Kennite.  Heber was out tending the flocks, but Yael, his wife, was in the camp, weaving.

“Please, could I have some water?”, he asked her.

“Would you prefer some cream?  It’s fresh from the sheep.”, Yael offered.

“Oh, yes, please”.

“My name is Yael, wife of Heber the Kennite.”

“I am Sisera, the general of King Jabin’s army of Hazor”

“A general!  Well, this is quite an honor.  Your king and my husband are friends.  What brings a mighty general of Hazor to the humble camp of a Kennite?”

“I led my army to capture Mt. Tabor, but we were defeated because we were in a wadi when it started to rain”

“Rain?  Why the sky is cloudless!  What rain?”

“I tell you, it rained, and the wadi flooded.  My army was washed away.  I alone escaped”

“I see men in the distance coming towards us.  Could they be part of the Israeli army, looking for you?”

“Hide me in your tent!  Quickly!  If the men come here, then tell them that you have not seen me!”

Sisera entered the tent.  Yael covered him with a blanket.

Exhausted by his running, and snug under the blanket, Sisera fell asleep.  Yael quietly picked up a tent stake and a mallet.  She put the tent stake against Sisera’s skull and drove it through his head and into the ground with the mallet.

“My husband may be friends with your king, but you are no friend of mine”, she told the dead body.

The Israeli soldiers entered the camp.

“We are looking for soldiers of Hazor.  Have any come through here?”, their commander asked her.

“Are you looking for Sisera, their general?”

“A general!  Yes, we are”

“He’s in the tent, hiding from you.  But take your time, he’s not going anywhere”

The soldiers entered the tent.  They came out a moment later, dragging the body.

“This is Sisera?”, the commander asked Yael.

“He said he was”.

“Who killed him?”

“I did”


“I used to be a daughter of Naphtali.  The army of Hazor raided my village.  The king gave me to Heber, my husband, his friend.  He raped me so I could not go back to my own people.  So, I remain here with him.  But I remember who I was, and this is my vengence”.

“Have you heard of a woman named Deborah?”, The commander asked.

“The judge and prophetess?  Yes, I have”

“I think she would like to talk to you.  Would you be willing to go to Mount Tabor to meet her?”

“I think I will stay here, if you don’t mind.  If my husband finds out that I have helped you, he might be angry at me.  But I would like to talk to her sometime”

“I will see what can be arranged.  Men: bring the body to Barak.  Yael, peace be with you”

Four soldiers picked up Sisera’s body and carried it off to the east.


Deborah and Walter hiked down the mountain to the valley below.  They walked quietly past the dead and the dying.  Hebrew soldiers were also walking across the battlefield, stabbing each Canaanite body to make sure he was dead.

Walter was the first to speak.  “This is horrible”

“Yes, it is.”

“I wanted this.  I wanted to experience this”

“You’ve never seen a war?”

“No.  Have you?”

“I’ve seen news reports of wars on the other side of the planet.  I’ve read about wars.  I’ve never walked through a fresh battlefield”

“I always visualized a war using modern weapons, which would vaporize people instantly”

“It never occurred to you that a war might be fought using guerrilla tactics, where each side kills a few people on the other side?”

“Well, yes, but I assumed that that would be used for a local insurrection”

“In my timeline, there were two superpowers, the United States and the Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics.  Each side had nuclear and thermonuclear weapons that could be delivered by rockets and airplanes.  It was a philosophy called ‘Mutual Assured Destruction’, and considering how much firepower we had aimed at each other, our relationship was remarkably amiable.  However, a ‘low tech’ fighting force can be effective.  The United States tried to intervene in a civil war in Southeast Asia, which took over a decade before we left - in defeat.  The Soviets tried to conquer a nation called Afghanistan.  They had the best troops, helicopters, and they still lost.  At one point, some of the local tribesmen shot down a helicopter with rocks”


“That was all they had.  They managed to get a rock to go into an air intake for an engine.  That caused the engine to explode.”

They walked a little farther.

“It’s the smell.  This place smells bad”

“That’s not in the books, is it?”

They came to a Canaanite soldier, laying in a pool of blood, groaning.  He stared at them.

“We could beam him to the autodoc”, Walter said, “And save his life”

“That would be compassionate.  However, I thought you were a war criminal - a man who advocated for war.  This man is part of the army that lost the war”

“I was.  I’m not sure any more”

An Israeli soldier walked up to them.  He saw the dying man.  The Israeli grabbed the Canaanite’s hair, pulled him up, and slashed his throat all the way to the vertebrae.  A vapor of blood shot out from his trachea.  The Israeli released his hair.

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!”, Deborah screamed at him.

“I’ve killed an enemy soldier”


“What does a woman know about war?”, the soldier said.

“Deborah, in this time and in this place, the rules of war are that you leave no combatants alive.  The women and children of the defeated country are carried off by the victors”, Walter explained.

“GO AWAY!”, Deborah yelled at the Israeli soldier.

The Israeli soldier turned and ran.

“Look at him”, Walter said.  “He looks like a child”

“Yes, maybe 12-15 years old”

“I killed him.  I trained the man that killed him.  I commanded the man that killed him.  I’m responsible.”

“I gave the inspiration to Barak.  I’m responsible, too.

“If you recall, you were raped”

“It was an attempted rape, but that doesn’t justify the deaths of two thousand enemy combatants”

“You had that pipsqueak duke that started your World War I.  How people died in that war?

“9 million”

“Your history is littered with war”

“Your history isn’t”

“And you are trying to set history back on a course of barbarism.

“If I had Unrar board us and kill us, or if we remained in orbit above Europa, none of the would have happened.”

“If we didn’t have this victory today, then King Jaban would have wiped out the Israelites.  There would be tens of thousands of dead, including women and children.  Today, there are two thousand casualties, all soldiers.  You saved the Israelite people.  There will be a Jewish people for the next three thousand years.  There will be a Billion Christians and a Billion Muslims.  Your history has been restored to you.  However, I no longer understand why I am here”

“Since your future didn’t happen, you didn’t come to exist.  And yet you are here.  Perhaps the effect of time travel on history isn’t as great as we think it is.”

“Well, I want to go to your time and become an advocate for peace”

They walked on.  They came to an Israeli soldier who had a massive stain of blood on his side.  “Woman of God”, he stammered, “Help me”

Deborah whipped out her medallion.   She pushed the button, and said “Adelle?”


“There is a man lying on the ground at my feet who has experienced considerable sharp point trauma and is bleeding to death.  Been him directly to the autodoc and initiate treatment on him right away.”  Immediately, the solder disappeared.

They walked some more.  They came to a dead horse.  Already flies were eating its flesh.  The smell was awful.

“You know, Walter, with Jabin’s army destroyed, there is really nothing from preventing you from seizing power from Jabin.  We could sign a mutual aid, non-intervention, and non-aggression pact.  I don’t want our sons and daughters mingling with your sons and daughters.  No mixed marriages.

“I’m okay with that.  If you want religious purity, then I think you should have it”.

“I do”

“However, I want to go home”

“My orders are to maroon you in history somewhere where you will not be a menace”


“Well, history says that there will be 40 years of peace after this battle”

“Does that mean you have to stay here 40 years?”

“History doesn’t say.  I’m really a minor character in history”

“So you say.  My name won’t be remembered 3,000 years from now”

“You could seize the throne of Jabin and rule in peace for 40 years.  You could run a war college, but not maintain a standing army.  Nobody would care.  Or you could attack your neighbors on the other side of your country”

“I like the idea of a bloodless surrender

“I think we could arrange something”


“I am acting chief of state.  I go to Jabin and tell him that he has his choice: he can abdicate in favor of you, or I can kill him and his heirs and then put you in power as the local governor.”

“You’d do that for me?”

“I would”

“What are your plans?”

“According to history, there is supposed to be peace in Israel for another 40 years.  I have a child to raise, and maybe I will have some more.  So, I think I will stay here and judge Israel for 40 years, and then I will go home”

“Will you take me with you?”

“If you can live in peace with me for 40 years, and be a genuine advocate for peace, then I will take you home with me”

A bloodless surrender

Deborah was uncomfortable.  She had been riding in a chariot for hours, and the chariot didn’t have a seat.  She looked absolutely resplendent in her cloak of many colors, her dazzling jewelry, and the rings on her fingers.  Walter rode in a chariot next to her, also dressed in his finest garb.  Nobody questioned them about how they obtained such exotic colors, which was A Good Thing because it spared them from explaining what an aniline dye was.  As an expression of military power, 250 horsemen rode in front of her, 200 horsemen rode on either side of her, followed by a dozen carts carrying provisions, followed by another 150 horsemen taking up the rear.  Barak rode at her side, with Sisera’s head in a leather sack thrown over his shoulder.  They were traveling north on the coastal plain, towards Hazor north of Lake Kinneret (The sea of Gallilee) 

After three days of travel, they arrived at the gates of Hazor.

“Open the gates and surrender”, Barak shouted.

“Who are you?”

“I am Barak, son of Abinoam.  I bring you the head of Sisera”.  Barak wasn’t going to mention that Sisera was killed by a woman, it was felt by all that this would be more likely to enrage the residents when what they wanted was a bloodless transfer of power.

“Why should we surrender?”

“I have defeated your army.  My troops slaughtered every last man.  We wish to enter into a peace agreement with you.  We agree not to destroy your city, you agree to turn over rule of the city to my governor. “

“We must confer with King Jabin”

“I will wait until sundown”

“Barak”, Deborah called out, “If we are going to wait a while, would you and your men pitch a tent for me, please?”

“At once”.  Barak rode to one of the carts, and spoke with the men.  In a matter of moments, the men erected a tent and laid out some mats for a floor.  Deborah dismounted from her chariot and sat in the shade of the tent.

After about an hour, a group of men appeared at the gate

“I am King Jabin of Hazor”

Barak walked to the front of the troop. Deborah came out of her tent.

“I am Barak, son of Abinoam, and general of the Israeli army.”

“I am told that you have demanded that I surrender”

“I have here the head of Sisera”, and he removed Sisera’s head from the leather bag.

King Jabin looked at Barak.

“If I surrender, what will you do to me and my city?”

“If you surrender peacefully, then I will put a governor in your place.  You will be exiled to a place of safety, you, your wife, and your children.  You will never return to Hazor.  You and your children will learn to farm the soil and raise animals.  We will not harm you”

“And if I do not surrender, what will you do?”

“Have you ever heard of Deborah the Judge?”

“I have”

Deborah spoke up.  “I am Deborah, daughter of Sarah, Judge of Israel.  If you do not surrender, then I will call upon God to utterly destroy Hazor.  You heard of the mighty victories of our ancestor, Joshua?

“I have”

“Those victories were due to the power of God.  Our victory over your army was the will of God”

“I cannot defeat your God, not even with chariots.  I will surrender.  I want you to bless me in the name of your God”.

“I bless you in the name of God”

“What is your God’s name?”

“Our God is so great, mighty, and powerful that he has no name.  He is the one true God.  As a daughter of Israel, I love him.  As a prophetess, I fear him.  He has destroyed entire cities, split the sea, caused the sun to stand still in the sky.  You are wise to surrender.”

“Who will take over the state of Hazor?”

“My friend, Walter Brown, will take over as governor.  Your people will obey his commands as if they came from me.  If I hear that you do not obey him, or if you harm him in any way, then I will call upon God to utterly destroy you.”

The surrender of King Jabin

Deborah, Barak, Jabin, Jabin’s wife and children, the Israeli soldiers, and carts of provisions and spoils, went on a road trip.   They traveled to the tribe of Dan in the far north.  They traveled to the tribe of Judah in the far south.  Everywhere they went, they talked about the great victory.  Barak commissioned a scribe to compose a poem in Deborah’s honor, which became immortalized as chapter 5 of the Book of Judges.

True to her word, Deborah bought Jabin a farm.  She brought in a couple of men with experience in farming, gave them seeds and supplies.  Surreptitiously, she spectrographically analyzed the soil, and fertilized it appropriately.  She brought in some simple farm implements - shovels, hoes, rakes, made with 24th century steel alloys, so that they would last.  She examined the ground with a frequency modulated continuous wave ground penetrating radar and found a good spot to dig a well.  They dug the well there and found water right where she said they would.  Her reputation soared.

Deborah made a side trip to meet Yael, wife of Heber the Kennite.  Heber was not at all pleased at the turn of events, so the two women ignored him.  Deborah presented Yael with a golden necklace and 10 kilograms of pure copper.  The scribe sang the song.  Yael was delighted.  Deborah slaughtered a goat.  Barak and his men built a fire and they had meat for dinner, a rare treat.  After dinner, Deborah ordered some sweet dates and honey beamed down from the replicators, and they enjoyed dessert.

Eventually, Deborah and Barak parted company.  Barak returned to his home in Kedesh near the Sea of Galilee, and Deborah returned to Amech and Alisa’s house in Ramah.

Deborah was not really happy with the booth that Lapidot had built: it was too small.  Lapidot and Deborah went shopping for real estate.  Eventually, they found a place between Ramah and Bethel.  It had palm trees, water at shallow depth, and good soil.  Deborah dug a well (using the laser pistol).  Lapidot worked the land, growing grapes and barley.  The grapes were widely praised for their sweetness and the quality of wine that they made.  Deborah never mentioned the 24th century geneticists who had perfected the strain.  Deborah would sit under a palm tree, and people would come to her from all over to settle their disputes and get advice.  Her fame as a fair and wise judge spread far and wide.

Deborah gave birth to 4 girls after Achiya: Shifra, in 1109 BCE;  Penina, in 1106 BCE;   Tikva, in 1104 BCE; and Irit, 1101 BCE.  Then menopause set in.   Although Deborah loved being pregnant, she decided that 5 children were enough so she declined the autodoc’s offer of hormone treatments.  Deborah hired several servants to help with running the house and raising the children.  She also hired field hands to help Lapidot with the farm.  That freed her to travel around the country, where she settled disputes,  advocated for ethical monotheism and the rights of women.

Deborah did go to the timeship about once a month for a routine physical and to go over intelligence reports about peoples and places all over the planet.  She was especially interested in the migration patterns of the people in the Americas.   At one of these trips, she saw a tribe of Assyrians massing on the eastern border of Dan, north of Hazor.  She contacted Walter, who dealt with the situation quietly but effectively.

She was content.

Achiya married a nice girl, Hodoya, from Bethel in 1102 BCE.  The morning after the wedding, Deborah and Hodoya went for a walk.

“What do you want out of marriage?”, Deborah asked her.

“What do you mean, what do I want out of marriage?”

“Why did you marry my son?”

“My father made an arrangement with your husband - you know that.”

“Yes, but you agreed with it”

“Achiya is a special man”

“I think so”

“You raised him that way”

“I tried.  But you haven’t answered my question - why did you want to get married”

“I want to have children, especially sons”

“Not daughters?”

“Well, I suppose daughters are good, but it would be better to have sons.  Our patriarch, Jacob, had 12 sons”

“And his favorite wife, Rachel, died in childbirth.  Is that what you want?”

“I don’t want to die in childbirth - if God wills it, I will have many children”

“Hodoya, I have a present for you.  You must keep this a secret between me and you, nobody else must know, especially not Achiya.  These are pills.  Eat one pill on the 7th day after the end of your period.  That will make you more likely to have a baby.  Now, if you miss a period, then that means that you are with a child.  Stop taking the pills then.”

Deborah then gave Hodoya, a tube of ointment.

“Here’s how you open it.”, Deborah had her unscrew the cap.

“Squeeze gently, and put a drop on your finger”

Hodoya squeezed a drop on her finger.

“Now, put it inside your womb.  It will make you more likely to have a son.  Do it each time Achiya is about to know you, or maybe better, every night when you are ready to go to sleep, and you can know him, just in case.”

“This will make me have a son?”

“The pill makes you more likely to have a baby.  The ointment you put in your womb makes you more likely to have a boy if you have a baby.  You need both of these to have a son.  Remember, you must keep these a secret.  Nobody must know”

“I understand”

Barak died also in 1102 BCE.  His funeral was attended by his children and his grandchildren.  Deborah went to his funeral and gave a eulogy.  Walter showed up, with an honor guard, on a richly decorated chariot pulled by two handsome stallions.  Most of the people there were not alive when Barak achieved his great victory over Hazor, and had known only peace and tranquility.  His passing was not the event it should have been.

Hodoya had a baby boy, which Deborah named Barak, son of Achiya.  Deborah served as midwife, after spending hours in the learning machine studying obstetrics and gynecology.   Deborah loved her grandson.  For a while, she would sit him on her lap while making judgements, discussing affairs of state, or arguing religion.  Eventually, he got to be too much of a distraction, so she had to give him to one of the women while she worked.  But she spent every spare moment playing with him.

21 years after the defeat of Sisera, in 1092 BCE, at the tender age of 44, Lapidot died of a heart attack.  Unfortunately, he was out in the field in the back, and Deborah was sitting under the palm tree by the road, so she was unaware of the problem until one of the field hands saw him laying on the ground.  She rushed him to the autodoc, but it was too late.  She considered traveling in time to save him, but the timeship didn’t do backwards short shifts in time very well, and she was concerned that Unrar might be watching and waiting, and she didn’t want to see him again.

In 1078 BCE, Achiya was bitten by an Asp, and died.  Again, Deborah arrived too late to help him.  Again, she consider traveling in time to save her only son, but she decided that problems with short jumps and the risk of detection by Unrar was too great.  She swallowed her grief and buried her son.

In 1073 BCE, 40 years after the defeat of Sisera, Deborah was now 87 years old.  She was in superb physical condition.  She could still run a kilometer in 7 minutes.  She still had all of her teeth.   Her farm was doing well.  She was surrounded by grandchildren and great grandchildren (It was a peculiarity of her family that all of the women had sons for their first pregnancy, and then a disproportionate number of daughters for subsequent children).  She was famous from the mountains of Lebanon to the tip of the Gulf of Elat for her judgements and wisdom.  She was superbly content with her life.  However, history said that she would judge in Israel for 40 years, and 40 years was up.  It was time to go.

Deborah agonized over whether to have an elaborate goodbye party, or simply leave.  In the end, she decided that it would best if she left quietly but also left behind something.  She wrote individual letters to each and every one of her descendents, saying that she had to go on an errand for God.  She didn’t know when she would be back.  She urged them to continue to live just, righteous, and peaceful lives.  She advocated strongly for women’s rights.  She left each descendent 100 kilograms of copper.  She pulled out her medallion and pressed the button.



“Beam me up”

And she was gone.


“Hello, Deborah”

“It’s been 40 years since we defeated Sisera.  Do you want to go home now?”

“Could I take a concubine with me?”

“She would have to make an informed decision, and I am a little curious how you would explain that she is going to travel three thousand years into the future.  How will you explain 21st century technology, never mind 24th century technology?  Look how much trouble we had adapting to life in the Bronze age.  At least, we understood the technology.  She won’t understand anything except the fact that you want to get laid”

“Oh.  Good point.  When I return, I’ll be a hero”


“I suppose I could find a woman”

“I’m sure you could”

“It’s good to be king”

“You were never king.  You were a governor”

“The people of people of Hazor treated me as if I were a king.  If I am gone, shouldn’t you appoint a new governor?”

“Good question.  I don’t know anybody who is qualified for the job.  Most of the people I know are farmers, tradesmen, women.  Not politicians.  I’ll have to think about it”

Back to the future

“Adelle”, Deborah raised her voice.

“Yes?”, The computer answered

“Have you completed all preparation for our return to 2456?  You have the chronobeacon coded ‘Deborah_return_2456’?

“I have the chronobeacon.  Time travel system passes all self-tests”


“We are now in circular equatorial orbit about the Earth, altitude 756 kilometers”

“Good.  Contact orbital control and report our arrival”

“Orbital control is not responding”


“Unknown.  There is no carrier on any frequency”

“Are we at the correct time?”

“Examination of stellar locations and automated time services verifies that we are at the correct time.”

“Transmissions on other frequency bands?”

“I am reading some automated transmitters - navigation beacons, time services, telemetry, but no voices and no video”

“I want to see the planet”

A window opened on Deborah’s monitor.

“Where are we?”
“We are at 130 degrees west longitude, 0 degrees latitude, altitude 756 kilometers”

“So, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean?”


“Show me Los Angeles, California”

The window panned upwards and to the right.

“Zoom in, please. Give me control of the camera using my joystick”

“You have control”

Deborah scanned around the Los Angeles area.  I don’t see any movement



“Please point all sensors at the Los Angeles area.  Is there any evidence of human activity there?”

“There is no sign of human activity there”

“What was the population of Los Angeles at the last census?”

“In the census of 2450, the population of Los Angeles, California was 8,143,232 people.”

8 million people!

“Use all sensors.  Locate any survivors.

Also, prepare ten vehicles to descend to the surface and conduct an analysis of the atmosphere, ground, and water conditions”


About 10 seconds passed.


“What is in range now?”

“Europe, Africa, and the Middle East”

“Can you target an undeveloped area near Tel Aviv?”

“Yes, how about Ramat Gan national park”

“Show me a map”

“I don’t see it”

“It’s labeled Safari”

“I see it.  That will be fine”

“The optimal launch time is in 4 minutes 35 seconds”

“Launch at the optimal time”


“Deborah, look at this”, Walter pointed to his monitor.

“What is it?”

“I have a camera pointed at Manhattan Island, in New York city.  There are no buildings standing.  There is lots of haze.  And it’s not white, it’s gray, so I think there is a lot of soot and amorphous carbon in the air.   I can’t see Boston or Washington. D.C., due to clouds”.

“Can we see Spain or Portugal yet?”

“They’re coming over the horizon in a moment.  However, we can see West Africa and the Azores now”

“The probe is launched”, Adelle announced.

“Thank you, Adelle”.  Deborah, after all these years, sometimes forgot that she didn’t need to be civil to the computers.

“There are clear skies over West Africa, so I can really see what is happening there.  This is Dakar, in Senegal.”

“The buildings look like they’re standing, but I don’t see anything moving in the streets, no cars, no animals, no people.  What is the resolution at this distance?”

“20 centimeters”

“Wait a second - capture a frame and display it over here?”

“What do you see?”

“Doesn’t that look like a body laying in the street?”

“There’s another one”



“Look at Dakar, Senegal, and estimate the number of bodies laying in the streets”


“Let’s go back and look at Lisbon, Portugal”

Walter furiously typed away at his keyboard.

“That’s Lisbon.  It’s a little farther away from us, and the air is hazy, so I can’t give you much better than 1 meter resolution.”

“I don’t see any movement.  That must be a truck.  Is that a body?”

“Hard to be sure.  Could be”

“I estimate that there are eleven thousand bodies in Dakar”, Adelle announced.

“What is the latest estimate of the population of Dakar?”

“According to the 2450 census, the population of Dakar was 2,651,284 people.”

“Eleven thousand people doesn’t seem like that many out of 2-1/2 million people”

“Maybe most of them died inside.  What we see are dying people who went outside”

Adelle announced: “The parachute has deployed.  Touch down in 10 minutes.  Correcting for local winds as predicted.  Probe is on course for Ramat Gan”

“Begin analysis of the atmosphere.  Look for toxins, radioactivity, abnormal concentrations of gases, anything which could explain the lack of human activity”

“Scintillation counter reports 3500 counts per minute”

Walter said, “Shouldn’t the radiation count be on the order of 10 counts/minute?”

“That’s what I remember”

“Adelle, what is the concentration of Carbon Dioxide?”

“The carbon dioxide concentration is 845 parts per million”

“I thought in your time you’d have done something about rising carbon dioxide levels to prevent global warming.”

“We did.  We made massive investments in wind power, solar energy, tidal power, hydropower, and nuclear fusion.  That solved a lot of environmental problems.  If you have enough energy, you can drive chemical reactions from high entropy to low entropy.”

“Turning plastic waste into graphite and hydrogen”?

“Something like that”

“When the probe touches down, we can fire up more instruments”

“Adelle, can you point the camera on the probe at the ground, and display the images here, please?”


A moment later, a picture of almost solid blue appeared”

“The probe is still over the Mediterranean Sea.

“Adelle, can you point the camera on the probe towards Tel Aviv?”


They could clearly see the remnants of buildings, some them still several stories tall, but obviously damaged.

“Adelle, please point the camera at Tunis in Tunisia”

“Tunis is out of range of the probe”

“I mean the camera on the timeship”


Tunis came into view.  They could clearly see the town and the Gulf of Tunis.


The view zoomed in.

“I see more bodies”

“There must have been a horrific war.”

“Yes, but I am curious what kinds of weapons they used.  Did they use a lot of chemical explosives?  Nuclear bombs?  Thermonuclear bombs?  Chemical weapons or Biological weapons?  Lasers or other directed energy weapons?  Have they left or are they still present?  Are there any survivors?  Are there any captives?  We need more intelligence”

“The probe has landed on target”, Adelle announced.

“Activate all instruments.  Find out what happened”.

“There are high concentrations of radioisotopes.  I have a display on monitor 2”


Concentration (parts/billion)











“From the soup of radioisotopes, it looks like they used fission nuclear bombs”, Walter mussed.

“Why didn’t they use fusion bombs or matter-anti-matter bombs?”, Deborah asked.

“That’s a good question.  If they used fusion bombs, there would be a lot less radioactive fallout for the same destructive force.  On the other hand, if they had really good targeting systems, then they wouldn’t need such a large explosion to destroy a given target.”

“I don’t understand”

“In the old days, guidance systems were crude, based on mechanical gyroscopes and accelerometers.  There was no terminal aerodynamic guidance system.  So the rocket would tend to be fairly inaccurate.  You needed a bigger explosion to compensate for that.  If you could target accurately, then you needed a smaller explosion to accomplish your goal.  Your war with Iran demonstrated that cruise missiles with terrain recognition radar and satellite navigation systems could be effective with chemical explosives”.

“Okay, so assuming that they used highly accurate fission bombs, why are there so many dead people in Dakar?  It’s not a strategic target.”

“It depends on how long ago the war occurred and how widespread it was.  It may be that the entire planet is poisoned with radiation”

“We have to find out how long ago this happened, and then go back in time to stop it”

“Before we go off half-cocked, it would be nice to gather some more information.  We’re in a good position to gather scientific information on the consequences of a global nuclear war.”

“That’s a funny thing for a war criminal to say”

“Not at all.  First of all, I no longer consider myself a war criminal.  I have seen the error of my ways and now I am an advocate for peace.”

“I’m sorry, I meant no offense”

“None taken.  If we can better understand the consequences of a global war, then that puts us in a better position to talk to policy makers about the need to avoid war.”

“That makes sense”

“Okay, then I’d like to change our orbit to a higher inclination so we can get full planet coverage”

“How about a sun-synchronous orbit?”

“What’s that?”

“That’s an orbit which is always aligned with sun as the Earth travels around the sun”

“That’s a wonderful idea.  Do you know how to do that?”

“Adelle does.  Adelle.”


“Please change our orbit to sun-synchronous, inclination 98 degrees.  Be as efficient as possible with reaction mass”


“I don’t understand the part about the reaction mass.  We have whole oceans down there that we can beam up”

“Ocean water is corrosive, and I’d rather avoid that if I can.  And I don’t want to beam up a bunch of radioactive water, because the water tanks are inside the iron shot shielding.”


“Relax - we can time travel to Europa, beam up some water, and then time travel back to Earth”

“Incoming transmission on chronochannel 13957.”, Adelle announced.

“Do we have an activated chronobeacon?  How did they find us?”


“Open a channel”

A younger version of Deborah appeared on the screen.

“You are in grave danger.  I am sending you plans for a new weapon, a beam that suppresses the strong force.  Build it and deploy it immediately.  Unfortunately, I am not allowed to give you any further details”

The channel closed.

Adelle announced “I have received a large file.  It contains the plans, suitable for the replicator, for a new weapon which suppresses the strong force”

“What’s the strong force?”, Walter asked.

“The strong force is the force that binds together the protons in the nucleus of an atom.  The protons are very small and very close together, and they are positively charged.  Were it not for the strong force, the nuclei of the atoms would fly apart, thereby destroying whatever substance it touched.  I wonder about the physics of something like that?”

“Where did the file come from?”, Walter asked.

“Unknown”, Adelle replied.

“This could be a booby trap”, Walter warned.

“She said, or I said, that she was not allowed to give me additional details.  I wonder if she, or I, was captured by the chronopolice, and convinced them to throw me a bone”

“Throw me a bone?”

“An expression.  If you have a dog that is sitting under your dinner table, the dog is going to want the meat on the table.  However, if, after you ate the meat, you gave your dog the bone, then the dog would still be happy.  Dogs can gnaw on a bone for hours”

“I’ve never owned a dog”

“Me neither, I’m a cat kind of person”



“Can you analyze the plans to figure out what this weapon does?”

“No, I don’t understand the physics”

“How long would it take to build the weapon and test it?”

“5 minutes”

“Could we transport it outside the timeship, instrument it to detect dangers, and test it there?”


“What are you thinking?”, Walter asked.

“We put it in an orbit far away from us, track down a non-operational satellite, and shoot it while we watched.  That way, we can tell if it is a booby trap or not.

“I’ll look for a non-operational satellite, you build the weapon.”, Walter suggested.


Walter’s task was actually quite simple.  It turned out that all he really needed to do was find some space debris  There was a lot of space debris, so he had lots of targets to choose from.

Deborah’s task was also remarkably simple.  Adelle loaded the plans into the replicator, which then replicated the weapon at a point that Walter designated - a thousand kilometers from a defunct weather satellite, and ten thousand kilometers from the time ship.



“Are you receiving the telemetry from the instrumentation on The Weapon.”


“Target the satellite”

“The satellite is targeted”

“Range to the satellite?”

“998 kilometers and closing at 1 kilometer/minute”

“Arm The Weapon”

“The Weapon is Armed”


The satellite vanished.  There was no debris.

“How is The Weapon?”

“No abnormal radiation.  No acceleration.  Temperatures on the surface of the weapon remain unchanged”

“Well, Walter, do you still think it is a booby trap?”

“Maybe it is designed to blow up on the second shot”

“Have you ever heard of the Grue-Bleen paradox?


“What color is my jumpsuit?”


“No it isn’t, it’s Bleen”

“What’s Bleen?”

“Something is Bleen if it is Blue before some time t and Green after that time t.  The paradox has to do with how we make inferences about the future from our observations about the past.  Every time you’ve seen this jumpsuit, it’s been blue.  So you make the inference that the next time you see this jumpsuit, it will be blue.  However, that’s not necessarily so after some arbitrary time t, say, January 1st 2500.”

“That’s very interesting, but how does it apply to the problem of what to do with The Weapon?”

“It might be a booby trap.  We might get 100 shots out of it, and it might blow up on the 101st shot.  So, we go through the same procedure we just went through the fire the 101st shot, and it works fine.  So we remount The Weapon and it blows up on the 102nd shot.”

“How do you get out of bed in the morning?”

“Well, I am 87 years old, and I have to make a decision every morning: to die in bed or to die somewhere else.  I know I am going to die, so I might as well die doing something useful.  Look, I am in command of this mission, and I am ordering that The Weapon be installed according to the plans that were sent us.  Adelle”


“Prepare a mounting for The Weapon as described in the plans that were sent us, and then recover The Weapon from orbit and install it there.  Integrate The Weapon controls and power into ships systems”


 Unrar, again

Dinner was chicken with a lemon glaze, dinner rolls,  a light rose wine, tossed green salad with  tomatoes with catalina dressing, and chocolate cake for dessert.  Walter had the replicator make cloth napkins instead of paper, and had some candles (due to the risk of fire, the candles were actually LEDs programmed to blink randomly).

“Why so special?”, Deborah asked.

“I have a vague feeling like Something Awful is about to happen.  And don’t bring up the Grue-Bleen paradox.  I’m making a prediction based on the events of the past few hours”


“You contacted us from another time line and told us that we’re in grave danger, so grave that we need a new weapon to deal with it.  I decided that this might be our last meal, so I wanted it to be special.”

“A spacecraft matching the description of the timeship Orion has been detected on an intercept orbit”, Adelle announced.

“See what I mean?”, Walter pouted.

Deborah and Walter rushed to the flight deck.



“What is our tactical situation?”

Orion is on an intercept orbit.  It is currently 2548 kilometers away and is closing at 122 Kilometers/minute.  Time to intercept: 20 minutes”.

“Adelle: Open communications with the Orion”, Deborah ordered.

Unrar appeared on the screen.

“Identify yourself”, Unrar ordered.  He didn’t seem a day older.

“This is Deborah Schwartz”

“How many years has it been for you since we last met?”

“47.  And you?”

“I just marooned you at Europa the day before yesterday.  How did you escape?”

“Do you think the Seattle Seahawks have a chance to win the world series this year?”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand your answer”

“It’s a facetious way of telling you that I am not going to tell you the answer.  Are you responsible for the destruction of all human life on the planet earth”.



“You have your secrets, and I have mine.”

“I propose an alliance between the two of us”

“I propose that we fight to the death”

“Unrar, the last time we met, I had never been in combat before.  Since that time, I have fought a war.  I personally have killed 12 armed men at a range of less than 1 meter.  I’m not the same woman you met last week.  I recommend that you break off your attack and cooperate, or I will blow you to subatomic bits.”

“I think you’re a lousy poker player”

“I invite you to a friendly game”

“I’ll pass.”

“The connection has been broken”, Adelle announced.



“Prepare a fusion bomb.  Set it with a thirty second timer.  Then beam it into the Orion.”

“Hey, that’s a clever idea”. Walter commented.

“You must enter that command through the keyboard, since it is a weapons command  I have detected another object on an intercept orbit: range 12312 kilometers, closing at 158 kilometers/minute.  Time to intercept: 78 minutes”, Adelle said.

“Deborah, take out the Orion first, then we can deal with this other ship”

Set a timer on a fusion bomb to delay for 30 seconds before detonating.  Then transport the bomb into the enemy timeship Deborah typed.

“The fusion bomb has been beamed into Unrar’s ship”, Adelle responded.



“Change orbit to 1500 kilometers altitude inclination 22 degrees using time travel”


“Range to Orion

“4121 kilometers.  Orion has launched a missile at us.  Closing at 1934 kilometers/minute”

“I wonder why he launched a missile at us instead of closing and using the ultraviolet laser?”

“Maybe he is having instrumentation problems.  Our last shot at him spared the ship but took out the sensors on the hull?  But a missile inside the ship would be safe, so he can use missiles”

“I’m going to use the yellow laser again.  That seemed to do the trick last time”

Deborah clicked on the space weapons button.  A menu opened.

Target select: incoming missile

weapons select:

O antiproton beam

O ultraviolet laser

O yellow laser

O Gamma radiation

O Powered guided missile with kinetic warhead

O Powered guided missile with nuclear warhead

O Fusion mine

O Unpowered Projectile

Deborah touched yellow laser.

Select power

O   1 TW

O  10 TW

O 100 TW

O   1 PW

Deborah touched 100 Terawatts

“Range 3154 kilometers.  Closing at 1934 kilometers/minute”, Walter reported.

Select duration

O   1 sec

O  10 sec

O  30 sec

O  60 sec

O  90 sec (unavailable at this power level)

O 120 sec (unavailable at this power level)

O 150 sec (unavailable at this power level)

O Return to select power

Deborah touched 30 seconds

Activate yellow laser

O fire now

O fire at optimum range

O fire at most accurate range

Deborah selected fire at optimum range.

“The yellow laser will fire in 92 seconds”, Adelle announced.

“Walter, I seem to recall having a discussion with you about waiting”

“Stressful, isn’t it?”

“Yes.  I want to shoot that missile far away, but I have to deal with the inverse square law.  I wonder how the computer figures out what the optimum range is?”

“The fusion device detonated.  The Orion is destroyed.”, Adelle reported. “The yellow laser will fire in 80 seconds”

“Now all we have to deal with a fusion bomb heading directly towards us.  No problem”, Deborah assured Walter.

“Adelle”, Walter said.


“How do you figure out the optimum range to fire the laser?”

“The closer the target is, the more energy will be delivered to the target.  However, the closer the target is, the more likely it will detonate and damage this timeship.  I have been programmed with some game theory analytics to make an optimum decision based on the size of the target and estimates of radiation coming from the target”, Adelle explained.

“So, in other words, you’re taking a wild guess”, Walter challenged.

“I am making a logical selection based on the best available data”, Adelle defended herself.

“How was that software tested?”, Walter pressed on his attack.

“The software was extensively tested in simulation”

“So in other words, you used un-verifiable  software testing techniques to test questionable software”, Walter pressed on his attack some more.

“The software was certified as correct”, Adelle explained.  “The yellow laser will fire in 70 seconds”

“But has the software ever been tested in actual combat?”

“When the software was developed, actual combat was illegal”

“So you really don’t know how will the software is going to work under actual battle conditions.  All you have are the results of a simulation”

“Walter, why is this an issue?”, Deborah asked.  It’s rather amusing watching him argue with a computer.  Had he grown up in the 21st century, he would know better than to argue with a computer.

“I seem to recall a young woman who tripped over her cloak in a simulation, who went on to execute a brilliant covert operation, and whose first words on her return were “It’s a funny thing, but real combat is a lot more stressful than training exercises.”’  When I am playing my video games, my heart rate increases, respiration increases, adrenaline is secreted, but I know its not real.  Adelle is a very intelligent computer, but she knows that the simulations are not real.  Her very existence is not in danger in simulation”.

“I fail to see the point”, Deborah said.

“Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics, law #3: A robot must protect its own existence so long as that does not conflict with laws 1 or 2.”

“The yellow laser will fire in 60 seconds”

“Walter, I’d like to point out that your ass and my ass are under attack too, and law 1 is A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”

“That’s true, but it might be irrelevant.   Do you remember the problem with the QXZ47 module?  That was a design decision that never got checked in properly.  What I am saying is that the software hasn’t been tested properly.  Our lives are serious jeopardy”.

“The yellow laser will fire in 50 seconds”

“Okay, Walter.  You have 50 seconds to call up the source code, do a review, find the bug, fix it, recompile, test it, certify it, and push it into production.  Do you even know what language it is written in?”, Deborah said, sarcasm dripping from every word.

“You could fire the laser now and there might be enough energy in the laser to melt the missile.  If not, then you can still fire the laser in 45 seconds”



“If we shoot at the missile with the yellow laser now, and that fails to destroy it, will the yellow laser system be ready to shoot at the optimum range?”


“Fire the yellow laser now, please”

“You must enter weapons commands through the keyboard”

All of a sudden, I see Walter’s point.  Dammed computer.

Deborah typed Fire the yellow laser now.  If the laser fails to destroy the missile, then shoot again at optimum range.

“Firing yellow laser.  Sensors report that the surface temperature of the missile is now 400 degrees.”

“Keep firing”

“You must enter weapons commands through the keyboard”

“Okay, cease fire”

“You must enter weapons commands through the keyboard”

“At the least computer is consistently consistent”, Walter observed.

“The surface temperature of the missile is now 800 degrees”

10 seconds went by

“The missile has detonated.  Estimate is that the explosion is a fusion device, yield approximately 800 megatons, range 1600 kilometers.”

“I think we just answered the question about what ‘optimum range’ means”, Walter smirked.  “Hey, Deborah, I have a question for you”.


“Who are the Seattle Seahawks and what is the world series?”

“Oh.  Bad joke.  The Seahawks are a football team in the city where I come from and the world series is a championship for American and Canadian baseball.  The joke is that the Seahawks are football and the world series is baseball: different sports.  The question would be asked by somebody who knows nothing about sports.”

“I didn’t know you followed sports, you don’t seem like the type”

“I don’t, and that’s why I asked the question when I was much younger.  It occurs to me that I could make a lot of money traveling to the future and then traveling to the past to gamble on the outcomes of the games”

“Now you know why changing the past is illegal”

“The other timeship is now 11,996 kilometers away, still closing at 158 kilometers/minute”, Adelle reminded them.

“Do we assume that they are hostile, too?”

“They are sending us mixed audio and video in the 300 MHz band”

“Let’s hear what they have to say.”

A window opened on a monitor.  A man and a woman appeared on the screen.  She was a negro and he was asian.  They both appeared to be dressed in aluminum foil.  Both of them were seated, with their hands at the end of armrests.  They appeared perfectly composed.

The woman said, in English, “We see that you destroyed Unrar’s timeship.  We wish to open a dialog with you, to exchange ideas and theories about what has happened, and to make plans for the future.  Please respond”.

The message repeated.



“Begin transmitting back to them, same frequency and format”


“This is Deborah Schwartz in command of this timeship.  I bring you peaceful greetings”

“Ms. Schwartz, my name is Anglatere”, the woman said.  She had an accent, but Deborah couldn’t place it.

“And my name is Henri”, the man said, with a distinct French accent.

“I’m pleased to meet you.  With me is my co-pilot, Walter Brown. Adelle: please split the transmission between me and Walter so that we both can be seen.”

“Hello, Mr. Brown”, Anglatere said.

“Hello, Mr. Brown, Henri said.

“Greetings”, Walter replied.

“We are glad that you showed up when you did.  Unrar was attacking us.  He had lasers, and rockets.  We were not prepared for a fight.  You obviously are ready and willing to fight.  We are grateful you destroyed him.  Can you tell us a little more about yourselves?”

“We’re time travelers.  We’ve just completed a mission and have returned to our point of origin.  However, the surface of the earth is destroyed.  We were investigating what happened when Unrar appeared.  We’ve fought with him before, and he is ruthless and cunning.”

“How did you destroy him?”

“We inserted a fusion bomb in his ship”

“How did you do that?”

“Well, we have weapons that will do those kinds of things.  What brings you to this time and place?”

“We’re from the year 3745.  We were sent here and now to investigate a disruption in the timeline that involved the destruction of the earth, however, we were told to simply investigate and report back to our command.  Thus, we were not prepared to fight.  We told Unrar that we would not surrender, that he would have to destroy us.  We used time travel defensively, but evidently he can detect time travel and he responded to our every move.  We decided not to return to our command because we didn’t want to reveal where we came from, and invite his reign of terror on our time.”

“Are you with the chrono police?”

“What are the chrono police?”

“That’s interesting.  I was told to avoid the chrono police, but you’ve never heard of them”

They may be lying - test their words for veracity  Walter texted Deborah.  That occurred to me, too.  Also, I don’t want to talk about the transporter too much, because they might not have that technology.  Deborah texted back.

“May we meet face to face?” , Henri asked.

“I am reluctant to do that, because I am concerned about biological contamination”, Deborah said.

“I don’t understand”

“We have just spent 40 years in a place where sanitation is poor and where animals and humans lived in close contact with one another.  I am concerned that we might be contaminated with some sort of micro-organism that might be dangerous to people from so far in the future where, I assume, there is good sanitation and animals and humans are separated.  To a lesser extent, I am concerned that you may be carrying a new organism that our immune systems cannot cope with, and our medical facilities have never seen before.  I am perfectly content to converse with you via radio”.

“I have never heard of such a thing”

“In my time, there is a disease, called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS.  AIDS is caused by a virus called Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).  It was a new disease.  Our technology was barely up to the task of identifying the virus, figuring out how it was transmitted, and how to treat it.  It attacked the autoimmune system.  It some places, the infection rate was close to 50% and tens of millions of people died of it.  Had this new disease shown up 30 years earlier, it would have been devastating.

I am reluctant to come into direct physical contact with such an advanced civilization which might have a disease we have no knowledge of.  Radio contact is sufficient for any conversation we wish to have”.

Nicely argued.  However, that brings up some interesting questions we ought to discuss before we leave the timeship for anywhere, and in fact which we should have discussed before we went to the bronze age.  Walter texted Deborah.

“Very well”.  Henri’s disappointment was clearly written all over his face.

“What have you learned about the destruction of earth?”, Deborah asked.

Anglatere began her narrative.  “We believe that North America and Israel were attacked by fission devices about 4 or 5 days ago, Western Europe was by attacked by fission devices 3 or 4 days ago,  Afghanistan and Iran was attacked by fusion devices about 2 or 3 days ago.  We believe that the fission devices were dropped from air breathing aircraft and the fusion devices were ballistic missiles.”

“If I may interrupt here”, Walter said, “How do you know that the fission devices were dropped from aircraft and the fusion devices were from missiles?”

“If the crater is circular, then the device has relatively little horizontal motion - it went straight down.  However, if the crater is oblong, then the device had relatively fast horizontal motion - it is moving horizontally very fast.  Hence a missile.”, Anglatere explained.

“I see.  Thank you.  Please continue”

“We were able to date the explosions by analyzing the radioisotopes at the craters”.

“We were trying to do the same thing when Unrar showed up and interrupted us”, Walter mentioned.

“Yes, that seems very reasonable.”, Henri said.

“We have to collect more data and then we have to make a decision about what to do next?”, Anglatere said.

“What are your options?”, Deborah asked.

“We can follow our original mission plan and return to the year 3745 with our observations.  Or we can go back in time perhaps 7 days and observe the sequence of events.  The concern is that if we go back in time, then we may affect the outcome of the war, and there will be nobody in 3745 to return to.”  Henri said.

“On the other hand, unless either you or I take some action, then the civilization of 3745 is already destroyed and you have nothing to return to”, Deborah pointed out.

“That’s very true”, Henri said.

‘May I ask why you came to this particular time and place?”, Deborah asked.

“We detected a fork in the timeline at this particular spot, which was easy to find because of the chronobeacon here.  We were ordered to arrive a day early, which is a standard precaution.  We have been working continuously since then to figure out what happened.  We were about to take a break for a sleep period when Unrar showed up”, Henri said.

“May I suggest that we both get some sleep and rejoin in 9 hours?”, Deborah suggested.

Is 9 hours enough? Walter texted.

“I’d like that”, Henri said.

“Me too”, Anglatere said.

“Sounds good to me”, Walter chimed in.

“Very well.  We will reconvene in 9 hours”, Deborah decided.

“Good night”

“Good night”

Unrar does an encore

Deborah was fast asleep.  On her desk was a copy of an ancient manuscript of the book of Daniel, which had been radiocarbon dated to approximately 150 BCE.  Not a word of the manuscript was different from the modern versions of the text.  Deborah was still fascinated by an artifact that was so old.  However, staring at something she knew so well, was boring, so she decided to take a nap.

“Deborah”, Adelle said.  “Wake up.  We have a problem”

“Get Walter to solve it”, Deborah murmured.

“Walter isn’t here.  He’s on the surface”

“What’s the problem.  Can’t you see I am taking a nap?”

“I have detected the Orion


Unrar does an encore.

Continue here

Be sure to put in about the air search radars.

1 if by land, 2 if by sea, 3 if by air

Deborah and Walter walked into the president’s office.  The president shook hands with Deborah.  Pictures were taken.  The President nodded briefly to Walter.  No pictures were taken.  The reporters were ushered out of the office by the security detail.

“Well, you brought Walter back.  I told you to leave him in the past”, President Ralph said.

“We fought a horrible land war, and it changed his thinking.  He and I ruled adjacent nation-states for 40 years, and we were able to live in peace, after having fought this horrible war.  I decided that he was rehabilitated, so I brought him back”, Deborah explained.

“But something terrible is going to happen in the near future”, Walter started to say.

“When I want your opinion, Mr. Brown, I will ask you for it”, the President interrupted.  “Deborah, please continue”.

“Well, when we returned to 2456, we found that the surface of the planet had been destroyed.  Major cities in North America and Israel had been bombed by fission weapons.  We found craters from fusion weapons in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  We found more fission craters in Western Europe.  The rest of the planet was uninhabitable due to high levels of radioactivity.  We measured the decay ratios of the radioisotopes and came to the conclusion that the war happened 4 to 7 days before we arrived there.”

“Couldn’t you go back in time 4 to 7 days and stop the war?”

“No, the timeship doesn’t travel in short jumps very well.  So we decided to come back 18 months to give you a warning and give you time to prepare.”

“Prepare for what?”

“We have very powerful weapons on board the timeship, and we used them in a battle with… Walter, what would you call Unrar?”

“A man with a very deep problem”

“Perhaps a time mercenary would be a good description.  We fought three battles with Unrar.  We lost the first battle, and were marooned around Europa.  It took us 6 years to get back”

“What’s Europa?”

“A moon of Jupiter.  In the second battle, we won.  Except that it wasn’t a decisive victory because Unrar had forked time, so we had to take him on in a third battle, which we won thanks to a powerful weapon from the future.  But then I had an epiphany, thanks to a comment from Mr. Brown, about the differences between what I was doing and what he had advocated doing.  We realized that what we were doing was wrong, and we needed a different solution.  So we came to see you.”

“What were you doing wrong?”

“We were making life and death decisions in the absence of information about motives.  North America was attacked by air-breathing aircraft carrying crude fission weapons.  We don’t know where they came from.  That’s important.  If we can find out where they came from, then we can figure out who they are, and you can negotiate a peaceful solution.  That’s your job.  So we want to build a network of air search radars”

“What’s an air search radar?”

“Radar was originally developed in the 1940s to detect and track aircraft.  However, modern air traffic control systems don’t really use radar, instead, they send out a pulse and a radio on the airplane, called a transponder, replies to the pulse with a coded message.  That message identifies the airplane and gives its altitude.  A stealthy airplane simply turns off its transponder, and voila! it is invisible to the air traffic control system.  You’ve been at peace for so long, that you haven’t needed an air search radar.  Our argument is that now you do.”

“Deborah, excuse me for a second”, the President said.  He pushed a button on his desk.  “Arrange a conference call in my office with Dr. Danielson”, he said.

“Yes sir”, said a voice.

“I want my technical advisor to join me on this discussion”

A moment later, a taciturn man with white hair and a gray moustache appeared on a screen.

“Dr. Danielson, I’d like you meet Deborah Schwartz and Walter Brown, the time travelers who have returned from the bronze age.”

“Hello, Deborah.  I was a little surprised to see you again - I thought your mission was quite dangerous”

“Oh, you know each other?”, the President asked.

“I was Dr. Danielson’s student for a brief period”, Deborah said.

“Dr. Danielson, Deborah and Walter are advocating building something called air search radars”


“We think that North America is going to be attacked by air-breathing aircraft carrying crude fission weapons.  The retaliation uses fusion weapons delivered by missiles.  We’re hoping to locate the aircraft origins and then negotiate a peaceful alternative”

“An air search radar would be easy to locate and evade”, Dr. Danielson argued.

“Not if it were passive and worked in the FM broadcast band, 88-108 Megahertz”, Deborah said.

“Tell me more”, Dr. Danielson replied.

“We have the design of a radar that is totally passive.  It listens in the FM band, and uses commercial FM transmitters to illuminate the targets.  The receiving antenna can either rotate or use a phased array antenna to steer.  When the signal returns to the receiver, it is shifted in time to give range and shifted in frequency to give range rate.  The antenna knows which way it is pointing, which gives you azimuth.  You need a fairly powerful computer to calculate the autocorrelation function of a frequency shifted signal, but it can be done.

“I propose to build a network of such receivers all over the coasts of the world.  If the system detects an aircraft, and the aircraft’s transponder is turned off, then you know it is hostile.  If it has its transponder on, then you can track it using the transponder.  If it doesn’t have a transponder, then you can track it using the air search radar.  Once you know when the attack occurs, you load the information into a chronobeacon, I come in at that moment to take you to a time to negotiate with your attackers.

“That network of radars is useless without a central command to gather the data and make decisions about an attack in progress”, Dr. Danielson argued.  “That central command would be tantamount to a military establishment.  That would be illegal, and even if it weren’t illegal, it would be politically unpalatable”

“Dr. Danielson, one of the advantages of getting visits from the future is that they can tell you the folly of certain decisions.  This is one of them.”, Walter practically pleaded.

“Deborah, why did you bring him back here?”, President Ralph asked her, sharply.

“Mr. President, one of the problems with a utopia is that it is hard to get it to recognize that the good times are ending.  You think you’ve had a century with no war, no violence, and so you have, but somebody disagrees with you and has secretly built a powerful weapon”, Walter said.

“Is there some way you could locate the point of origin with your timeship?”

“The timeship doesn’t do well with short shifts of time.  So what we will do is give you a chronobeacon.  When you detect the hostile aircraft, activate the chronobeacon and we will come to you.  As far as a central command is concerned, there are peaceful uses for an air search radar”, Deborah said.

“What?”, Dr. Danielson asked.

“You could search for meteors, the motion of charged particles in the lower atmosphere, studies of pollution”, Deborah answered.

“Yes, but then you have to explain the correlation with transponders.  It would never get past peer review”, Dr. Danielson said.

“Mr. President, there are other ways to find out what you want to know.  You could spy on people”, Walter said.

“Mr. Brown, that is an abhorrent suggestion”, the President said.

“Mr. President, I don’t want to see this planet destroyed by a nuclear war.  I want to prevent it.  I can’t see a way to do that without some cooperation from you.  Deborah and I are happy to give you technical support now and military support when you need it.  Some time in the next 18 months, somebody is going to wage war on you.  We think it’s likely to be closer to 18 months, but not more than 18 months.  You have to pick between some unpleasant options, so get together with your advisors and see if you can come up with an acceptable solution”, Walter said.

“Deborah, do you agree with that assessment?”

“I do, Mr. President”.

“Very well.  I will consider what you have said and get back to you.  If I sent a message to orbital control, will that reach you?”

“Yes sir”

“Thank you for coming to see me.  Mr. Brown, thank you for your advice”

Walter and Deborah were ushered out of the office.  They decided to go for a walk in the sunshine and enjoy the breeze.

“I’m glad we decided to come back in 18 months instead of a year”, Walter said.


“If we came back in a year, it would be winter in the Northern Hemisphere and we wouldn’t be enjoying the weather”

“Walter, do you remember having an argument with Adelle over the software used to control the firing time of the yellow laser - you wanted to know how Adelle knew was the optimal firing time?”

“Yes, I remember that”

“I’ve been thinking about that.  How much do you know about artificial intelligence?”

“Not much, really.  Mostly battlefield simulations”

“How did you validate the battlefield simulations?”

“We applied them to historical battles to see if they reproduced the same results”


“Sometimes, they did.  Sometimes they did significantly better than the commanders of the time.  It was rare for them to do worse”

“Interesting.  I have an intriguing project for you, one that will be worthy of your talents”


“Adelle is artificially intelligent, and can prove theorems expressed in multiple algebraic systems.  See if you can use her to write a computer program that analyzes computer programs”

“To what end?”

“To see if the program will terminate or to find out under what input conditions a program will terminate”

“Can Adelle do that now?”

“I don’t know - ask her and see what she says”

“Okay, I can do that.  It will be a learning experience for me”

“That’s the spirit”

“May I ask you a personal question?”


“Do you miss Lapidot?”

That hurts.  Although it was inevitable.  I also miss Achiya.  And Shifra, Penina,   Tikva, and Irit.  And the grandchildren.  And the great grandchildren.  But I knew this would happen when I married Lapidot.  This is widowhood, except that all of my survivors are dead.  Not only that, but they turned to dust long ago.

“Yes, I do”.


“Well, I loved him.  He accepted me as I was, even though I was ‘way outside his cultural norms.  I didn’t have the cultural repertoire that I should have had, even though I spent 15 years getting ready for him.  I was gone for 6 years.  I went on trips throughout the country, and even though I used the transporter to reduce travel times, I was still gone a lot.  But he was still there for me”

“I miss my wife”

“I thought she treated you terribly in your divorce”

“She did, but we were happily married for a long time”

“Was it just the sex?”

“While I was governor, I had concubines at my disposal.  It wasn’t the same thing”

“I thought you wanted to bring a concubine with you back to the future”

“I did.  But I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve decided that I was wrong about that, too.”

“Why are we having this conversation?”

“I want to go back to my wife.”

“You realize that you are 61 years older now than you were when you left 2 years ago.”

“I know”

“Do you want me to help you?”


“What do you want me to do?”

“I want you to talk to her.  Tell her that I’m a changed man.  Ask her if there is something I can do to repair the relationship.”

“She will want to know why she should do that, after all the heartache you caused her”

I caused her?”

“Yes, that’s the way people think about it when they get divorced”

“You caused Lapidot a lot of heartache, and he didn’t divorce you.  He could have, you know.  He could have had you declared dead, and, as a widower, remarried.  Why are you different from me?”

“Walter, as you know, I have been studying the Book of Daniel for most of my life.  I have also been a civilian leader and a military leader.  I have been a mother and a grandmother.  I have come to the conclusion that I have no knowledge about how people work.”

“Will you talk to her?”


“What will you tell her?”

“Do you know what triangulation is in Psychology?”


“You are proposing that I form a triangle with your wife.  I don’t want to do that”

“So what are you going to say?”

“That you want to talk to her directly”

“She won’t want to talk to me directly!  That’s why I need a go-between”

“If she won’t talk to you, then she probably won’t talk to me, either”

“Alright.  Just call her”

“Okay.  How do I do that?”

“I brought my phone with me.  I was hoping you and I would have some time when you could do this for me”

“I feel vaguely manipulated”

“Yes, you have been.  You are no longer my commander, but you are still my friend”

“Give me the phone”.  Deborah turned on the phone, went to the address list, and found home.  She pushed the button.  The phone rang.  A woman answered it.  “Hello?”

“Mrs. Brown?”


“This is Deborah Schwartz calling”

“The famous time traveller?”


“You were ordered to leave Walter in the past.  Why didn’t you do that?  It would have saved the whole world a bunch of pain”

“Mrs. Brown, I want to talk to you a little more about that”

“Well, I don’t want to talk to you about it.  Good bye, Ms. Schwartz”

Deborah gave the phone back to Walter.

“I guess I’ll go write the computer program”, Walter said, sadly.

Deborah’s medallion beeped.  Deborah pulled it out and pressed the red button.  “Yes?”.

“You have received a message from orbital control requesting your presence in the capitol palace at once”

Walter and Deborah turned around and walked back to the palace.  They presented their security credentials at the gate, and again at the door, and again at the corridor, and again at the front desk, and again at the door to the President’s office.  Walter asked the agent at the door “Do these security credentials ever wear out?”.  “Sir, we do not have a sense of humor”, came the reply.  The agent opened the door, and Walter and Deborah walked in.  The door closed, and Deborah giggled at the agent’s answer.  He didn’t even use a contraction  The men staring at her had no expressions on their faces, so Deborah stopped giggling at once.

“Ms. Schwartz, Mr. Brown, we looked at the evidence you presented us, and we have decided that the threat is very real.  Although the planet has been peaceful for a hundred years, there is some evidence that a clandestine organization has been keeping alive a history of violence.  Mr. Brown, we believe you are a member of that organization.”, one of the men said.

“I was, but I have renounced my membership”

“Will you turn over the names of other members of the organization?”


“We think that the organization has been maintaining a store of illegal information about atomic weapons”.

“I have no knowledge of such things.  I am a historian by training, and I have been a politician for the past 40 years.  I have picked up some knowledge of nuclear weapons from Ms. Schwartz here, but I would hardly call myself an expert”.

“Ms. Schwartz, are you an expert in atomic weapons?”

“My timeship is equipped with both nuclear and thermonuclear weapons, and a variety of delivery systems.  I used such a device in combat, and I believe now that it was ineffective.  When Unrar crippled my ship in orbit around Europa, I used the ship’s replicator to build a new store of weapons”.

“Did the replicated weapons work?”

“I used one to destroy Unrar and his timeship, the Orion, so yes, it worked”.

“It worked, but you think it was ineffective”

“I believe, but cannot prove, that Unrar forked a timeline somehow, and in one of the timelines, survived the explosion somehow.”

“Why do you believe that?”

“You realize that depending on my answer, I might be charged with a capital crime of interfering with the past”

“I am willing to give you a pardon on everything that you have done”, the president said.  “You’re a heroine”.

“I want that in writing, please”.

“This conversation is being recorded”, the president said.  “It is a matter of public record”.

“Mr. President, I am in possession of a weapon whose physics I do not understand.  However, I believe that this weapon is more powerful than a thermonuclear device, and I am reluctant to discuss it.  I received a message from an unknown source, giving me the instructions for building the weapon.  I was told that I was going to need it.  So I built one, and tested it.  It works as described.  However, I did not need it.  Yet.  I think I am going to need it.  Which is why I believe Unrar survived the explosion.  It is possible that some other threat exists, but if so, I don’t know what that might be.  In any event, I want the knowledge of such a weapon to be a closely guarded secret”.

“Ms. Schwartz”, the man who had been querying her early said, “In this day and age, it is very difficult to keep a secret.  So we decided we just wouldn’t try any more”

“Gentlemen, that was not a very bright decision”, Walter spoke up.  “You need to maintain secrecy in order to govern effectively.  Also, people have a right to privacy.  Privacy and secrecy are tantamount to the same thing”.

“Gentlemen, if you can’t keep a secret, then I refuse to give you any information about The Weapon.  I’m sorry.  In my opinion, it is too dangerous.  I have been head of state for 40 years, I have fought a war, I have killed 12 men in close range combat, and I believe I am wiser than you are on this question.  However, I am willing to help you with the technology you currently have to build an effective defense.  I have weapons that ought to be thoroughly familiar to you which we can use to detect and defeat this threat, and deploy it within 18 months.

“What does this weapon do?”, the man asked.  I’ll bet that this guy is keeping some secrets.  The rest of these men may know what secrets he is keeping, but I notice they’re not talking

“Do you think that the Seahawks have a chance of winning the world series this year?”

One of the men laughed.

“What was so funny?”, the man asked.

“The Seahawks were a football team, an American football team, that played in Seattle.  They had some mixed seasons - some years they were good and some years they were awful.  But the world series is Baseball, another archaic American sport.  A football team would never go to the world series, because they are different sports.  I think she is telling us that she is not going to tell us.  Is that correct, Ms. Schwartz?”

“My compliments on your knowledge of sports history.  You are correct.  I will tell you that this weapon is very powerful, but I will say no more about it”.

“Mr. Brown, will you divulge the names of the other members of the organization?”

“I haven’t decided yet.  It depends on what you elect to do with that information, and it also depends on whether I can trust you to keep your word”.

“You can trust the President of the World”, the president said.

“Mr. President, with all due respect, I have been head of state of a much smaller government than you are, and I am quite aware that there were people doing things in our names which we had no knowledge of.  Some of the men in this room are keeping secrets, including keeping secrets from you”

“That’s a slanderous thing to say about one of my advisors”.

“I’m sure he can take it.  I refuse to cooperate at this time.  At some time in the future, I may change my mind”.

“Ms. Schwartz, you should have followed orders and left him in the past”

“On the contrary, Mr. President.  I have had a long discussion with him, and I believe that he has good reasons for taking his position.  I would also like to point out that he said he might change his mind at some point in the future”.

“Gentlemen, I believe that what we have discussed in this meeting should remain a secret.  We don’t want the clandestine organization to know that we know about them.  We also don’t want them to know that we know about Mr. Brown’s involvement, regardless of whether he is an active member or not”

One of the other men said, “Mr. President, it is illegal to keep a secret”.

Another man said, “There is a way around that, and that is to explain, in the record, why we do not want this discussion generally known.  Most of the conversations in this office are boring and only a few people actually follow them.  We could trust that these people would understand the wisdom of not publishing this conversation, and that might be sufficient”.

The president asked, “Does anybody have an alternative suggestion?”

Nobody said anything.

“Ms. Schwartz”, the president said, “I want you to meet with Dr. Danielson immediately and begin planning defenses for the planet earth.  Please take Mr. Brown with you”.

“Very well, Mr. President.  Gentlemen: good day”

Deborah and Walter walked out the door.  Deborah pulled out her medallion.



“Beam us up”

And they were gone.



“Please put me in contact with Dr. David Danielson, of the University of Chicago, please”

“One moment”

About 30 seconds later, a window opened on Deborah’s monitor.  She saw Dr. Danielson, huffing and puffing.


“Dr. Danielson”

“I heard about your discussion with the President and his advisors.  We have much to discuss”

“Dr. Danielson, why are out of breath?  Are you okay?”

“I’m out jogging”

“You had a meeting with the President while you were jogging?”

“It’s okay - I muted the microphone”

“Dr. Danielson, I’d like you to come to my timeship”


“Why not now?”

“I have to get ready”

“Does getting ready include communication with a computer that is connected to the Internet?”

“Yes, why do you ask?”

“Oh, nothing, nothing at all”

Adelle, Deborah typed.


Can you track Dr. Danielson’s phone?


Beam him here right away

Understood.  Done.

The window on the monitor went blank.  A message appeared “The connection has been broken at the remote end”.

Deborah called the transporter room.


“Where am I?”, came Dr. Danielson’s voice.

“You’re aboard my timeship.  It was essential that I get you here right away, before any secrets were divulged,  Stay right there, I will be there in a moment”

“Walter: come with me”.

Deborah and Walter ran to the transporter room,  Dr. Danielson was there, in a T-shirt and sweatpants, dripping furiously.

“Why did you bring me here in this way?”, He demanded.

“It was critical that we get you into a secure environment.  I assume that the government is tracking you carefully”

“As a matter of fact, the government is tracking me carefully, because 1) I am a senior advisor to the government and 2) I have some secrets that we would rather not divulge”

“Oh, really now?  I was under the impression that secrets are illegal”.

“The president can’t keep secrets, that would be an abuse of power.  However, people who work in the government are allowed to, and in some cases required to, keep secrets”.

“Is your computer secure?”

“I think so.”

“What operating system does it run?”

“TOS 19.4”

“What does TOS stand for?”

“Trusted Operating System”

“Who trusts it?”

“The government does”

“Isn’t that somewhat like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop?”

“What’s a chicken coop?”

“Never mind - I am in command of this time ship.  I have kidnapped you fair and square and you will assist me as part of the terms and conditions of your release”

“You’re kidding”

“Sort of”

“Alright - what do you want?”

“I want to build a system that will protect the planet from an unknown threat in about 18 months.  Somebody is going to drop nuclear weapons on North America.  I want to detect them in a timely fashion so I can travel in time to the right moment and stop them.  This system needs to be secret - if I can maintain secrecy then it need not be legal”.

“Earlier you had mentioned building a bistatic air search radar in the FM broadcast band”


“The FM broadcast band at around 100 MHz isn’t a good solution because it won’t go over the horizon.  In fact, it’s rather difficult to build an OTH radar that will detect an airplane.  The radar cross section of an airplane coming straight at you is rather small.  It has a signficant dopler shift so you can get it out of the clutter, but it still is over the horizon.  The traditional solution has been to mount the radar on an airplane, get it up high in the sky.  For example, if you mount the radar on an airplane at 10 Km  altitude, the horizon is roughly 360 Km away.  If your target airplane is also high up in the air, then you can see him further.  However, it is easy to detect your transmitter because the transmitter power decreases as the inverse square but the reflected power decreases as the fourth power.”

“I know that”

“However, there are other ways to detect an aircraft.  An aircraft engine is very warm, and it has an infrared signature.  It can be detected from space, especially if it flies above the clouds”

“Would an attacking airplane fly above the clouds or close to the ground?”

“An aircraft would fly close to the ground to avoid a search radar.  But we don’t use search radars any more.  So the aircraft would fly high, where there is less drag and so more fuel to loiter in the target area or to deal with defending fighter aircraft”

“Do you still have fighters?”

“Not really.  We have some museum pieces that are stored in the desert in Arizona, that we could put into battle ready condition, and there are some old men and women who know how to fly them that we could put into service.”

 “How many attacking aircraft are we talking about here?”, Walter asked.

“I don’t know, do you, Dr. Danielson?”

“No, I have no idea.  I haven’t been to the future”

“Well, if the cupboard is as bare as you say it is, then there might be one attacking aircraft.  It might be cheaper and easier to maintain security if you had one airplane with a very long range.  It could attack multiple targets, knowing that its opponent had very few defenses”, Walter said.

“That makes sense”

“Walter, I don’t think that’s necessary.  Once we locate the attacking aircraft, we can shoot the attacking aircraft with the yellow laser.  The earth’s atmosphere is relatively transparent in the yellow.”


A confusing return

See the original.

The night was dark, nights usually are, and there was an electrical storm, which is unusual for Seattle.  The whole effect was a motivator to stay indoors and study with a trusty computer and a fast internet connection.  Deborah Schwartz was doing just that, studying a commentary on the book of Daniel.

Deborah’s apartment was an austere place.  Under a bunk bed was a desk and a swivel chair.  Against one wall was a  book shelf crowded with books on all kinds of topics.  Off to one side was a small kitchen, off to the other side, a small bathroom.  On the doorpost was a Mezusah.  It was compact, but she could afford it and that was enough.

Daniel has two parts to it, the first part, which is relatively straightforward, and then a second part, which has some truly weird prophecies in it.  Deborah was fascinated by the truly weird prophecies at the end of the book, from chapter 7 to chapter 10, where Daniel envisioned strange beasts convened by divine command.  She wondered how much of the prophecy of Daniel was actually written later and then attributed to him.

There came a knock on the door.

“Who is it?”

“I am an old friend of yours who hasn’t seen you in 66 years.  Please put down the book of Daniel and let’s talk”

“How do you know I am studying the book of Daniel?  And 66 years?  I’m only 22”

“I know a lot of things about you.  But I would prefer to talk to you face to face instead of shouting through the door.  I am an old woman, I will not harm you in any way.  No, indeed.”

Despite all her years of indoctrination about opening locked doors to strangers, Deborah got up and opened the door.  An old woman walked in.”

“Who are you?”

“I am a time traveler.  Have you had any other visitors this evening?”

“No, I am alone.  What do you mean, a time traveler?”

“I am a woman that has traveled in time.  It has been a great adventure.  I’d like to tell you about it, but not yet.  You are going to have another visitor this evening”

“How do you know that?”

“When you travel in time, a lot of things that are in your future are in my past.   May I have some mint tea, please?”

“I’ll put a pot on”

Deborah got up and went to the kitchen, put a tea kettle on the stove.

“I don’t believe I got your name”, she yelled.

“I’m Deborah bat Sarah, the prophetess and judge of Israel”

“That’s remarkable.  My mother’s name is Sarah.”

“I know.  You see, I am you, but 66 years later.  I went back in time, got married, fought a war, had children, had grandchildren, went to the future, fought another war, and then I came back here to talk to you about it”

A chat window opened on her computer.  It was from deborah@  “Anybody you know?”, Deborah (the younger) asked.
“Answer it and see”, Deborah (the older) replied.
Are you busy?

Yes, I am.  What do you want?

I want to talk with you.

What do you want to say?

Not online.  In person.

Where are you?

In the parking lot of your apartment building.

I don’t trust you

I know the password for your wifi.  It’s a very strong password, but easy to remember.

How do you know my password?

I know a great deal about you.  I know that you broke up with Allen 9 days ago, that you are very conflicted about your motives for doing so.  You want children, he doesn’t. I know that you are studying the book of Daniel.  I know that you like the prophecies at the end of the book.  I know that you have a scar on the sole of your left foot where you stepped on some broken glass while walking barefoot.  Your mother gave you a terrible lecture on the dangers of walking barefoot, and now you wear sandals even in the shower.  I know you like mint tea.  Shall I go on?

How do you know all of these things?

Not online, in person.

I don’t trust you.

I understand.  I want you to make a leap of faith.  It’s important.  Please.

Alright - come to the window of my apartment.

Okay.  You will see an old woman.

A moment later came a knock on the door.  Deborah (the younger), got up, threw the deadbolt, and opened the door.  Sure enough, there was an old woman.

“Please come in out of the rain”, Deborah (the older) invited.

“Thank you.  Who are you?”

“Why, I am you, but 22 years later”, Deborah (the eldest answered).  “I know why you are here and now, and I have something important to tell both of you.

“Wait a second, wait a second.  Who are you women?  Why are you both here tonight?”, Deborah (the youngest) demanded.

“I’m here to send you on perhaps the greatest adventure anybody has ever gone on”, Deborah (the middle) said.

“I’m here to tell both of you that I accomplished the task, and that young Deborah here can continue on her own time-line without worrying about time travel”, Deborah (the oldest) said.

“If she doesn’t go, then who will fight the war with King Jabin?”, Deborah (the middle) asked.

“I fought, and won, the war with King Jabin”, Deborah (the oldest) said.  “Let’s see if I can recreate the events.  First of all, we’re time travelers.  We were sent into the past, in the time of the book of Judges, to take on the role of Deborah.  Deborah, as you might remember, helped lead a battle against the army of King Jabin of Hazor, a pagan nation-state.  This version of us” - she indicated Deborah the middle - “was the instigator of our going back in time to fight the war”.  She tried to find the right moment in history, and failed.  So she came back to tonight, where she is going to recruit you to try again.  You do.  You succeed.  However, history records that after the war, you judged for 40 years, so I stayed in the land of Canaan for 40 years as effectively the head of state.  In that time, I married, had children, watched them grow up, have grandchildren, watched them grow up, buried my husband, watched the children die, and eventually came back here, to this spot, to this moment, to tell her and you that you don’t have to go.  Mission accomplished”.

“How old are you?”, Deborah (the youngest) asked.

“I am 66”, Deborah (the middle) answered.

“I am 88”, Deborah (the oldest) answered.

“I tried to find the right moment in history, and I failed to do so.  However, I left detailed notes on what I did”, Deborah (the middle) said.

“And had you not done that, I would probably have wasted time doing things you had already done”, Deborah (the oldest) said.

“This is a pretty weird discussion”, Deborah (the youngest) commented.

“Time travel does that”, Deborah (the middle) noted.

“It pretty much destroys causality.  Were it not for our intervention 3358 years ago, you wouldn’t be here having this conversation.  Our intervention in history caused this discussion.  However, you two had this discussion and that caused the intervention in history.  We’re conditioned to think that time is linear.  We’re born, we grow up, we marry, we have children, we have grandchildren, we die, our children die, our grandchildren have children, our grandchildren die - it’s a line that always moves forward.  Time travel makes it circular.” Deborah (the oldest) explained.

“But now we are faced with a paradox: you and I represent two timelines with very different outcomes, and we have to give young Deborah here a chance to make a decision about which timeline she is going to take”, Deborah (the middle) said.

“Well, it will be her own time line, because I think I ought to tell her what I did and how I did it, so that she won’t have to improvise and subject herself to so much risk.  I am concerned that there are only three of us here - it may be that she goes back and she dies in the past”, Deborah (the oldest) said.

“Maybe she goes back in time, figures out that I was right, and then bypasses this discussion in her future”, Deborah (the middle) said.  “We can’t make an inference from that observation, because there are at least two possibilities.”

“Well, I believe that I set history on the right path, because the chronopolice didn’t come looking for you.  Do you have a chronobeacon?”, Deborah (the oldest) asked.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.  Do you want me to activate it?”, Deborah (the middle) challenged.

“Wait a second, wait a second.  Chronopolice?  Chronobeacon?”, Deborah the younger tried to interject.

“NO!  DON’T TOUCH IT”, Deborah (the oldest) shouted.

“Okay. I won’t touch it”

“I am having a great deal of difficulty thinking about this”, Deborah (the youngest) said.

“Me too”

“Me three”

“Why are you two having troubles with this - you instigated it!”, Deborah (the youngest) pouted.

“What I find remarkable is that we never met before tonight”, Deborah the oldest said.  “After all, I was famous.  Surely you would have heard of me and sought me out.  I was there for 15 years, gone for 6 years, and then back for another 40 years”.

“What do you mean, you were gone for 6 years”, Deborah the middle asked.

“I fought two battles with a man named Unrar - have you heard of him?”


“That’s very odd.  There is a lot about time travel that I don’t understand”.

“Who is Unrar?”, Deborah (the youngest) asked.

“He and I fought a battle in space in 1119 BCE, and another battle in space in 2456 CE.  With the first battle, Unrar marooned me and Walter in orbit around Europa.  In the second battle, you sent me a beam that blocks the strong force”

“I didn’t do that”, Deborah (the middle) objected.

“Don’t look at me”, Deborah (the youngest) said.

“Interesting.  There must be at least a fourth timeline”, Deborah the eldest said.

“By the way, did you put a thesaurus of quotations in my training curriculum?”, Deborah (the eldest) asked.

“Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I did.  Famous quotations from Scientists, Engineers, and Futurists”, edited by Ellison Alberts.  Copyright 2189.  Why do you ask?”, Deborah (the middle) replied.

“Ever since this mission began, I’ve been spouting off strange quotations about science, math, engineering, and science fiction at the most unlikely moments, complete with bibliographic details”, the eldest Deborah observed,

“For example?”, the youngest Deborah asked.

“I was negotiating a case about virginity, and I asked the husband to try the marriage for a year.  He wanted to know why so long, and I quoted Frederick Brooks from The Mythical Man-month: ‘No matter how many women you apply to the task, it still takes nine months to have a baby’.”

“Why did Frederick Brooks say that?”

“Because in a construction project, you can speed up the project completion by adding more man power.  However, in a software engineering project, if you add more people, you just make the project later, because now people are getting taken away from doing useful work and teaching the new people how to do their jobs.  Brooks was trying to explain that some tasks cannot be parallelized”, Deborah the eldest explained.

“How did she sneak something into your curriculum without you knowing about it?”, Deborah (the youngest) asked.

“If you elect to go on this mission, you will spend 2 years in a learning machine.  The learning machine interfaces directly with your brain and creates new memories, very quickly”, Deborah (the middle) explained.

“Except that rate at which memories are created is constrained by the speed of the neurons in your brain, which is about 50 meters/second”.  Deborah the eldest noted.

“Is that about 150 feet/second?.  Could you guys use the English system?  I’m an American.”

“You’ll find it a lot easier if you just use metric units for everything and not try to convert.  How many inches in a mile?”.

“I don’t know”

“Me neither.  How many centimeters in a kilometer?”

“There are 100 centimeters in a meter and a thousand meters in a kilometer, so 100,000?”

“Correct.  Give up the english system and your life becomes much simpler”

“So the nerves don’t go at the speed of light?”, Deborah (the youngest) asked.

“Oh no.  Nerves transmit information by an exchange of ions across a cell wall, which propagates along the length of the nerve.  You can measure the nerve conduction velocity electronically, and you can create the memories electronically, but you can’t make the nerves go any faster”, Deborah (the middle) explained.

“Could you load me up with information about the Book of Daniel?”, Deborah the youngest was excited, now.

“I can do that”, Deborah (the middle) said.

“I got it”, Deborah (the eldest) said. “In fact, I wrote a commentary on the Book of Daniel somewhere around the orbit of Mars”.

“I made a fundamental mistake”, Deborah (the middle) said.  “I was focussed on finding Lapidot first, and so I never started judging anybody”.

“I was going to do the same thing, but I was thrust into a judicial role and events went on from there.  So I became Deborah the Judge and de facto head of state”

“How did you find Lapidot?”

“Remember I mentioned the virginity case?  The couple had a son, and they named him Lapidot, so I married him”

“Wait a second - I get married 3100 years ago?  To a baby?”, Deborah the youngest piped up.

“Not exactly.  I waited 15 years for him to grow up.  Then I married him in 1119 BCE.  I was 40”

“That makes you quite the cougar”, Deborah the youngest grinned.

“We were married for 29 years.  He was a good man.  He tried very hard to understand that I was going to be a female head of state.  It must have been very challenging.  In that time and place, women were not in positions of authority.  I was not a very good wife, always dealing with matters of state, making judgements”.

“Wait a second.  You’re 88 now.  You were married for 29 years.  He got married when he was 15.  What happened?”, Deborah the middle asked.

“He died in 1092 BCE at the age of 44, of old age”

“You were in the same environment.  How did you survive for so long?”, Deborah the youngest asked.  “In fact, you really don’t look 88 years old.  In fact, you don’t look 66 years old.  You both look like you are in your late 40s”.

“We have access to 24th century health care.  My life is barely half over at 66”, Deborah (the middle) said.

There was the sound of a key entering the lock on the door.

The three women stared at it.

“Well, you might as well open the door, I can’t see how the night can get any stranger”, Deborah (the youngest) said.

The door was opened, and yet another Deborah walked in.

“What are you all doing here?”, she asked.

“I live here”, Deborah (the youngest) said.

“I haven’t convinced her to leave yet”, Deborah (the next youngest) said.

“I haven’t convinced her that she doesn’t have to leave yet”, Deborah (the oldest) said.

“Well, I’m here to contact the chronopolice and tell them what has happened”.

“Don’t you think that they will execute you, or us?”

“I find it very interesting that my recollection of this moment is very different from this moment.  Perhaps we should describe our recollections of this moment.”, Deborah (the eldest) said.

“My recollection of this moment is that there was just one of me here, that she was 66 years old, and the she convinced me to go on this mission to save the world.  I went on the mission, spent 32 years in the past, and failed, so I came back to this moment to convince young Deborah here, to go try again.”, Deborah (the second youngest) said.

“My recollection of this moment is that after I convinced young Deborah to go on this mission, we went to Lagrange 2 and spent a couple of weeks there giving her minimal training on how to fly the timeship, then I had her drop me off here and now and she has flown to 2372 for refurbishing, refueling, and training.”, said Deborah (the second eldest)

“My recollection of this moment is that I was recruited by a 66 year old Deborah to go on this  mission to the past to save the world.  I went to the period of the Judges, became a Judge, married Lapidot, fought the battle, remained in the past for 40 years, and now here I am”, Deborah (the eldest) said.

“I may be a little bit early”, said Deborah (the second eldest).  “I located this spot through my best recollection of what time it when I left with young Deborah.  I wanted to arrive after they left, and I may have misjudged the moment”

“That means that you and I are on the same timeline, with just the little wrinkle that you got here a little early and I haven’t left yet”, Deborah (the second youngest) said.

“That means that young Deborah and I are on the same timeline, too.  Perhaps I am wrong, and young Deborah does have to go into the past to fight the war”, Deborah (the eldest) said.

“Can you tell her what to do so she won’t have to guess so much?”, Deborah (the second youngest) asked.

“I have to think about this a little bit”, Deborah (the eldest) said.  “Once you contact the chronopolice, then you have to transmit plans to me for a beam that suppresses the strong force”.

“What’s the strong force?”, Deborah (the youngest) asked.

“Later”, the three older women replied in unison.

“How does that beam work?  Where do I get the plans from?”, Deborah (the second oldest) asked.

“I could give them to you - I have them on board my timeship”, Deborah (the oldest) replied.

“Could I transmit them to you now?  How do you know that I transmitted the plans after contacting the chronopolice?”, Deborah (the second oldest) asked.

“Because you said ‘You are in grave danger.  I am sending you plans for a new weapon, a beam that suppresses the strong force.  Build it and deploy it immediately.  Unfortunately, I am not allowed to give you any further details’.  I remember it distinctly, you said ‘allowed to’.  ”, Deborah (the oldest)  answered.  “‘’allowed to’ by whom?  Certainly, if you want to send the plans now, you certainly could.  None of us would stop you.”

“Well, you could give the plans to young Deborah here, and she could build the weapon while she is in training at L2”.  Deborah (the second oldest) suggested.

“And blow up Unrar when she first met him.  That would create another timeline.  The next time we meet, there will be 5 of us”

“My apartment isn’t big enough for that”, Deborah (the youngest) pointed out.

“If you uncomfortable, we can retire to one of our timeships.  There are either two or three at L2”.

“L2?”, Deborah (the youngest) asked.

“In orbit on the far side of the moon”, Deborah (the eldest) replied.

“I’m surprised we didn’t detect one another”, Deborah (the second youngest) said.

“I detected you.  That’s why my first question to young Deborah here was if she had had any other visitors tonight”, Deborah (the eldest) replied.

“You might have tried to contact me”, Deborah (the second eldest) said.

“I did.  Adelle told me that you were here, so I figured I come down and talk to you in person”, Deborah (the eldest) said.

“May I have some more mint tea, please?”, Deborah (the second youngest) requested.

“I’m all out.  I wasn’t expecting company”, Deborah (the youngest) responded.

The three eldest Deborahs reached for their medallions at the same time, then looked at one another, and giggled.

“What’s so funny?”, Deborah (the youngest) demanded.

“Adelle”, Deborah (the eldest) said.


“Please beam down 3 kilos of dried mint tea, in teabags”


“Now, watch this”, Deborah (the second youngest said).

On the floor, there appeared a box.

“Open the box”, Deborah (the eldest) commanded.

So Deborah (the youngest) opened the box and discovered bags and bags of mint tea.

“What the hell?”

“I told you, I was going to send you on an adventure, the likes of which nobody has ever done before.  You will routinely use technology that is beyond the understanding of 21st Century physics.  Not only that, but you will understand that technology well enough to build and repair devices that use it.  Now, go make the tea while we discuss matters”, Deborah (the second youngest) said.

Deborah (the youngest) got up, and went into the kitchen to put another pot of water on the stove.  Fortunately, she owned 4 mugs and 4 spoons.  She listened to the elder women talking amongst themselves.

“We have to think about this very carefully.  You were thinking about going to the Chronopolice because of a single word in a message you received.  But there are other possible meanings of the message”

“Yes, if we agreed that, to minimize the disruption to the timelines, I was to send a minimalist message to you, then that would not create a new timeline.”

“If we want to minimize the disruption to the timelines, then perhaps we should stick with the original plan of you taking young Deborah with you to L2 and then have her drop you off here and now when she is ready.  That will fuze your timeline and your timeline, and leave us with just two timelines to merge.”

Deborah (the youngest) came back into the room with four mugs of tea.  “Do I get any input to this decision?”

“Actually, it’s your decision to make.  We can’t force you to do anything against your will.  We can try to convince you to take a course of action.  We can provide you with information.  But once you embark on your path, there can be no going back”, Deborah (the eldest) said.

“The problem is that we have yet to come up with a recommendation for you and us to follow”, Deborah (the second eldest) said.

“In fact, we haven’t come up with a plan for us to follow”, Deborah (the second youngest) said.

“Well, it’s late, and I have a headache.  Could we reconvene tomorrow morning?  Say, 9 AM?”, Deborah (the youngest) pleaded.

“That’s about 10 hours from now.  Are you going to run in the morning?”, Deborah (the eldest) asked.

“I was planning on it”, Deborah (the youngest) replied.

“May I join you?”, Deborah (the oldest) asked.

“Us, too”, Deborah (the second oldest and the second youngest) asked at the same time.


“8 AM”?


“How many timeships are at L2?”

“Just two”, Deborah (the eldest) stated.

“Okay, then I need a place to sleep tonight”, Deborah (the second eldest) said.

“Let us retire to my timeship, and we can continue this discussion”, Deborah (the eldest) suggested.

“Sounds good to me.  Let’s take the mugs and spoons, so that young Deborah doesn’t have to do any dishes”, Deborah (the second youngest) said.

The three elder Deborahs picked up their mugs and spoons.  Deborah the eldest pulled out her medallion.

“Wait!”, Deborah (the second youngest) commanded.  “I have something for young Deborah.”.  She pulled out a Medallion out of her pocket, laid it on the desk.  “This is a communications device.  Once we are gone, then put it around your neck.  If you need to get in touch with us, the push the red button.  If we need to get in touch with you, then the medallion will vibrate.  If you don’t push the red button within 1 minute, the medallion will beep at you.  Do you have any questions?”


“Alright.  Now we can beam up”

“Adelle”, Deborah (the eldest) said.


“How many people with medallions are you detecting?”


“Okay, beam all three of them”

And they were gone.

Deborah just stared at where the women had been standing.  Then she put on the medallion, brushed her teeth, flossed, and went to bed.

The alarm clock sounded at 7:30.  Deborah woke up, turned off the alarm clock, and sat and looked around the apartment.  She climbed out of her bunk, and look around carefully.  There was nobody there except her.  Did last night’s meeting really happen, or was it a just bad dream?  She went to the bathroom.  She wandered into the kitchen to make herself some breakfast.  That’s odd - there are no mugs and no spoons.  How am I supposed to eat breakfast without a spoon?  She didn’t own a toaster, so she put a couple of slices of bread in the oven and turned it on.  Wait a second.  One of the things that one of the women said last night was “Let’s take the mugs and spoons so that young Deborah doesn’t have to do any dishes”.  They took my mugs and spoons so I wouldn’t have to wash them.  It was real!  They’re going to be here at 9 AM to confer with me!

The bread looked sufficiently golden brown, so she turned off the oven and pulled out the slices.  A little peach jelly, and breakfast with no spoons.

She dressed in blue running shorts, short socks, running shoes (an off brand), a University of Washington T-shirt, and a University of Washington sweat shirt.  She did her pre-run stretching exercises.  She strapped on her MP3 player, inserted earbuds, and opened the door.  There was one of the elder Deborahs, standing there with a grin, running shorts, running shoes, tube socks, and a sweat shirt that read “Europa”.

“What are you doing here?”, young Deborah asked her.

“I thought I would join you for your run”

“How old are you?”

“I’m 88, but I think I can keep up with you”

“Well, you’re welcome to try.  I’m planning on running 20 minutes out and 20 minutes back”

“Fine, I’ll just follow you”

Deborah (the youngest) set off, and Deborah (the eldest) set off after her.  They ran through the streets of the University District single file, and didn’t say a word.  Then, they got to the University of Washington campus proper, and the elder Deborah ran alongside the younger Deborah, and pulled out her ear buds.


“I want to talk to you”

“The other women aren’t with us”

“I know.  I have been doing some thinking.  I think there are just two timelines here.  I think that you are I are on one timeline and the other two Deborahs are on a different timeline”.

“Does that mean that they are not me, or not us?”

“No, they’re us alright, but something happened in the past that caused the timelines to fork.”

“I know what that was - one of the Deborahs said that she had created a list of places she went, and was unsuccessful”

“That’s right, and I used that list to avoid going to places and times which she had already checked out.”

“So, if I understand how all this time travel stuff works, you want to make as few forks as possible”


“So you should send me back in time with just the same information you had, so I can do the same things and make the same mistakes that you made”


“And the future of the world is at stake”


“What happens to the other two Deborahs?”

“One of them goes with you to L2 to start your training, which takes a couple of weeks.  Then you bring her back to last night, and then you disappear to the year 2372, and then I take care of her, because she has no timeship.”

“When we get together the other two Deborahs, you should discuss this with them, and see if they agree with you”

“Fair enough”

The two Deborahs ran back to the apartment.  They took turns showering and changing into regular clothes.  In the case of the elder Deborah, that was a blue jumpsuit.  In the case of the young Deborah, that was blue jeans and a T-shirt.  The other two Deborahs arrived promptly at 9 am.  One of them had 4 mugs and 4 spoons in a bag, while the other had a large tea pot.

“I suggest you put some water on the stove, I think this will be a long conference”, Deborah (the second youngest - or was she the second eldest? - Deborah the youngest couldn’t be sure).

“Actually, I was thinking about that, and I decided that we ought to meet in the conference room of the timeship, which is less crowded than this apartment and more comfortable.”, Deborah (the eldest) said.

The other women agreed.  Deborah (the eldest) pressed the button on her Medallion.



“Four to beam up”

Deborah (the youngest) was astonished.  She felt funny, and then she realized that she was in a low gravity environment.  She jumped and hit her head on the ceiling.

“The low gravity takes some getting used to.  In the meantime, avoid sudden movements.  Follow us, please”.

The three Deborahs walked out the door and into the corridor.

“How long is the corridor?”, Deborah (the youngest) asked.

“A little more than a kilometer.  Here we are”

The four women walked into a thoroughly conventional conference room.  There were a dozen comfortable green chairs situated around a long table made of (what looked like) real wood.  The chairs had seat belts.  The walls were also wood.  At the ends of the tables, the walls were a milky white color.  Elsewhere, there walls were wood.  There was a water dispenser that had three options: hot, ambient, or chilled.

“I assume we all want mint tea?”, one of the elder Deborahs asked.  Everybody nodded in agreement.  So cups were brought out, hot water was poured, and teabags were plunged.

Deborah (the eldest) got up to speak.

“I think I know most of the sequence of events.  We are on two timelines.  Young Deborah is on a common timeline, before the split.  She goes back in time, and that is where the split occurs.  She breaks up a fight, and becomes a judge first, and then gets married and fights Sisera.  She lives in the past for a total of 61 years.  That’s me.  However, she also goes back in time, and spends her time looking for Lapidot, never becomes a judge, and never fights Sisera.  She returns to 2013 with valuable data.  That’s the two of you.”, indicating the two middle Deborahs.  “Now, the question that faces us is what to do.  I think to preserve the timeline, one of you has to take young Deborah to Lagrange 2 and train her to fly the timeship to its appointment in 2372.  Then, Deborah drops her off here to become the other of you, and then she goes to the future and begins her adventure.  That leaves the question of what to do with you.”

What to do with you?


Deborah left the apartment and went down the stair case to the street.  She started walking through the old, familiar neighborhood in the rain. I haven’t been here in 66 years, and yet it seems like I only left it yesterday.  Actually, I did leave it only yesterday..  Eventually, she came to Allen’s house.  She walked up the stairs, and knocked on the door.

“Who’s there?”


“I thought we had broken up”

“I want to talk with you”

“About getting back together?”

“I really don’t want to have an intimate conversation, yelling through a door, while I am standing out in the rain”

She heard soft footsteps, then the deadbolt turned and the door opened.  There was Allen, dressed in a T-shirt, underwear, and white socks,  just as she remembered him.

“Who are you?”

“Deborah Schwartz”

“Deborah Schwartz is a 22 year old college student.  You are considerably older than a college student.”

“I know.  I’ve been on a bit of an adventure, and it aged me rather rapidly.  However, I’d like to talk to you.  May I come in?”

Allen stepped back, and held the door open wide.  “Please do”

They sat down on the threadbare sofa.

“You used to rub my feet.  There is something wrong with my lower extremities - what is it?”

“You have a peculiar scar on your left foot”

Deborah took off her left shoe and sock.  Allen looked at her foot.

“Oh my god.  It is you.  What happened?”

“It’s a long story.  To save time, I have recorded it on this USB thumb drive.  Read it at your leisure”

Deborah took the thumb drive from her pocket and handed it to Allen.  The she put on her sock and her shoe.

“Why are you here?”

“I want to apologize for the way I treated you.  I’m older now, and wiser, and a little more understanding”

“Apology accepted.  Now what?”

“I want you to read the text on the thumb drive, which is a record of everything I have done in the past 66 years.  Then, I’d like to take you out on a date”

“I thought you were too poor for that kind of thing?”

“I was, but now I am rich”

“You’ve changed”

“I have changed.  Read the thumb drive.  Then call me”

“Are you going back to your apartment now?”


“May I walk with you?”


“Let me get dressed”

Allen disappeared into the bedroom.  A moment later, he returned wearing some slacks, a T-shirt that read “Python programmers do it clearly”, and hiking boots.

“It’s raining”

“I’ll get a coat”

They left the apartment and started walking back to Deborah’s apartment.

“I’ve been thinking about children”

“I still don’t want any children”

“I know.  Well, I had children.  I had grandchildren.  They are a lot of fun.  I buried children.  I buried grandchildren.  I’ve gotten that out of my system now”

“You’re kidding”

“Read the thumb drive.  It will tell you my whole story.  Hold my hand”


“Hold my hand”


“Do it”

They held hands.

“I have some new ideas about intimacy”

“What are they?”

“I wanted to have more intimacy with you”

“We were intimate - we had sex every day”

“There is more to intimacy than sex.  That’s why we’re holding hands”

“I don’t understand”

You are holding hands with me.  You’re not holding hands with anybody else, are you?”


“We are holding hands together, on a public street, in plain view of the whole world”

Allen looked around.  “I don’t see anybody watching us”

“Doesn’t matter.  This is an intimate moment.  Savor it”

“We’ve never talked about this before”

“I know.  I wish I had.  You’re a good man.  I’m a good woman.  Our time together is limited.  We have a future together, one that will have disagreements, arguments, but also great happiness, and joy”

“How do you know that?”

“I just know.  Trust me.  And hold my hand.”

The end


Relief map of Israel 

Show the locations of Ramah, Hazor, and where Sisera and Barak meet.


From rebuilding adelle.

Expansion ratio of Helium. 1:757.  Density of Helium at STP  0.1786 g/L.  1.5 Kg / 0.0002786 Kg/L = 8398 L.  8398 L / 757 = 11 L = 0.011 m3.   is a cube 22 cm/side.

Period of an orbit

From .

v**2 = Gm/r and r = Gm/v**2

G is the gravitational constant, 6.67 x 10*-11

r = 7.0E+5 m + 63.71E+5 m = 7E+6 m r=7.0E+5 + 6371E+3

T = sqrt(4 * math.pi )

From Wikipedia:

P = 2

Where a is the semi-major distance, and μ is the standard gravitational parameter, GM.  G is 6.67384E-11 m3/(kg*s2).  μ for the earth (mass 5.972E+24 kg ) is 3.985617248e+14.  a=500 Km+ Rearth (6,371 Km) = 6871 Km =6.871E+6 m

In [1]: G=6.67384E-11

In [2]: Me=5.972E+24

In [3]: u = G * Me

In [4]: print u


In [5]: a = 6.871E+6

In [6]: import math

In [8]: print math.sqrt(a**3/u)*2*math.pi


In [9]: print math.sqrt(a**3/u)*2*math.pi/3600.


gravitational constant = 6.67384 × 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2

More about calculator.

Mass of the earth 5.972E+24 kg

6.67E-11 m**3/(Kg*s**2)*

r = 6.67 x 10*-11(6 x 10*24)/8000*2

r = 6.25 x 10*6 m

Kepler's third law gives us the period

For circular orbits, Kepler's 3rd Law is also commonly represented as

Where  is the period,  is the Gravitational constant,  is the mass of the larger body, and  is the distance between the centers of mass of the two bodies.

T = math.sqrt( 4*math.pi**2*r**3/(6.67E-11*5.972E+24))

# Mass of Europa is 4.7998×1022 kg

# Mass of the Earth is 5.972E24 kg

# Radius of the earth is 6371000 m

import math

# M = 4.7998E22 

M = 5.972E24

# r = 200000 + 1560800

r_earth = 6371000

r_orbit = 500000

r = r_earth + r_orbit

G = 6.67E-11


print “Orbital period is %f seconds, %f hours” % (T, T/3600.)

Circumference = r *2 * math.pi

V = Circumference / T

print “The velocity is %f meters/sec or %f kilometers/hour” % (V, V*3600./1000.)

Orbital period is 8204.845830 seconds, 2.279124 hours

The velocity is 1348.402264 meters/sec or 4854.248149 kilometers/hour

Degrees Celsius °C


The recoil of a laser

What is the recoil of a megawatt laser.  Assume a Neodymium YAG laser with a wavelength of  1064 nm.


The energy and momentum of a photon depend only on its frequency (ν) or inversely, its wavelength (λ):

where k is the wave vector (where the wave number k = |k| = 2π/λ), ω = 2πν is the angular frequency, and ħ = h/2π is the reduced Planck constant.[16]

Since p points in the direction of the photon's propagation, the magnitude of the momentum is

E =

h = Planck’s constant = 6.62606957(29)×10−34 J*s  

hc = 1.98644568×10−25 J*m

c = speed of light =  299 792 458 m / s = 3.0E+8m/sec

E =  = 1.86*10-37J

A megawatt-second = 1 megaJoule  1 MJ = E*n  n = 1MJ/E = 1.0E+6 J /1.86E-37 J/photon = 5.37E+42 photons

Kg*m/s = 6.62E-34/1064E-9 = 6.23E-28 N*s/photo

6.23E-28 N*s/photon * 5.37E+42 photons = 3.34E+15 N*s


/Pressure = Intensity / c  Intensity is W/m2 .  Pressure is Force/area = N/m2 .  P = F/A = I/c  F=power/c

1.0E+6W/3.0E+8 m/s = .003 W*s/m = .003 N


You have: (1.0E+6 watts)/(3.0E+8 meters/sec)

You want: newtons

        * 0.0033333333

        / 300

You have:

Degrees Celsius ℃ U+2103 Latin Compatibility row 5

Ship’s atmosphere: 50 Kilopascals  (Standard atmosphere is 101 Kilopascals.  Oxygen is 40%, Nitrogen is 60%.  That causes problems with the bends.  The exploding brick.  The boiling point of Nitrogen.

Deborah’s chronology

This disagrees with

First Battle with Unrar, 1119 BCE.  Second Battle with Unrar 2456 CE.



Deborah’s Age

Lapidot’s age

Achiya’s age

Barak, son of Achiya


March 1991


Planned graduation:

May 2013


Begins training

2372 CE


Completes training

2374 CE


Arrives in Canaan

1126 BCE


Lapidot born

1125 BCE



Marries Lapidot

1119 BCE



Achiya born

1119 BCE




Returns from Europa

1114 BCE




Defeats Siseria

1113 BCE




Achiya marries Hodoya

1102 BCE




Barak, son of Achiya born

1101 BCE





Lapidot dies

1092 BCE





Achiya dies

1078 BCE




Returns to the future

1073 BCE
2456 CE



Walter returns to his time

2374 CE


Returns to the present

May 2013


Estimate mass of the timeship

The timeship is a sphere, 1.5 Km in diameter.  It is a shell of iron shot.  Iron has a density of 7.58 g/cm3.  The volume of a sphere is 4/3 𝛑 r3.  The volume of the timeship is  4./3. * math.pi * r**3 or 1.413717e+10 m3.  If the shell of iron is 3 m thick, the the volume of the inner surface is 1.405251e+10 m3.  The difference is  8.465347e+07 m3.   The mass of 8.5E+07 m3 of iron is 6.42E+14 g, 6.42E+11 Kg, or 6.42E+08 metric tonnes.

The volume of water is a shell that goes from 1497 m to 200 m.  The volume of water is 1.402E+10 m3.  A cubic meter of water weighs 1000 Kg.  So the water weighs 1.402E+13 Kg.

Performance of the anti-proton beam.

1 PW * 30 sec = 1E+15*30 = 30E+15 J

E=mc2  m = c2/E => (3.0E+8m/sec)2/30E+15 J = 9E+16m2/sec2/30E+15 kg*m2/sec2 = 3 Kg

Force required to cause a 1 m/sec2 acceleration

F = ma.   m = 1.402E+13 Kg  So the force is 1.402E+13 Newtons.


Mount Tabor is 7 Km east of Nazareth.  It is 6 Km SW of Galilee.

Bethel is at 31° 55′ 42″ N, 35° 14′ 18″ E  Google Maps.

Ramah is at 31°51′12.35″N 35°14′00.12″E, about 12 km from Bethel.

Look in ~/Pictures/Israel_relief_location_map-blank.jpg and ~Pictures/Siseras_attack.p*


Helpful information for science fiction writers. 


Horizon of a radar as a function of antenna height

Radius of the earth is 6371 km.  An airplane at 30,000 ft is roughly 10 Km.  In [1]: import math

In [2]: print math.sqrt(6381**2 - 6371**2)

357.099425931 Km

In [3]: