Skymarine Jones and the Time Machine

“Men,” the colonel barked at Jones’ men.
“I’m a woman!” Dorfmann yelled back at the colonel.
The colonel walked over to Dorfmann and stared him directly in the face.
“That’s – ‘I’m a woman, sir!’” The colonel yelled at him. “You will address me as sir or maam! Understood?”
“Yes sir!” Dorfmann grinned.
“You don’t look like a woman,” the colonel looked up him and down, but Dorfmann was dressed in regulation Hardlyaman space suit and gender was all but indecipherable.
“Yes sir! The Skymarines make a man out of anyone! Sir!” Dorfmann did everything he could to stop laughing in the colonel face.
“Hmm,” the colonel mused, “quite, right corporal, sorry about that. Right then, men and women…”
“I’m gender neutral, sir!” said Maguire.
“What?” the colonel stared in amazement at Maguire. “That’s not even possible!”
“Accident with a plasma rifle, sir!” Maguire had trouble talking and holding the laughter in at the same time.
“Sorry to hear that son,” the colonel blinked in embarrassment and tried to look away.
“Not son, sir! I’m a private with gender, neutral privates! Sir!” This brought snorts and giggles from the rest of the Skymarines.
The colonel leaned back on his heels and took a deep breath.
“Men, Women and gender neutral privates,” he started again.
“Sir!” Jones piped up with an eye for the main chance.
“Feck!” the colonel yelled, “what sex are you supposed to be?”
“Hermaphrodite sir!” Jones shrieked and everyone broke out laughing.
‘Right!” the colonel finally cottoned on to his being duped, “I was intending your next assignment to Globaxium the pleasure orbital, but I see now a suicide mission is more up your alley.”
This brought a general groan to the platoon.
“But sir!” Jones began to panic, “our last five missions were all suicide missions.”
“So why are you all still alive?” the colonel glowered at him, “And in one piece?”
“We’re not, Maguire is gender neutral, sir!” Jones couldn’t help himself and they were all off on the next shuttle to guard a Bomb.

Normally bombs are meant to fired or dropped on your enemy, often they are stored in deep bunkers to prevent accidental home goals, but in this case the bomb was not so much a five hundred pound high explosive as an entire supernova wrapped in a magnetic field on the edge of the galaxy and was expected to destroy several star systems. They don’t call them suicide missions for nothing in the Skymarines.
“Your platoon will be housed here in the frontal lobby,” a scientist with the ubiquitous white coat instructed them as soon as they disembarked from the Star Cruiser Virginia Woolf. “I’m sorry, but we have no spare rooms and no spare beds until the next cargo ship arrives, and since the only place we are expecting an attack is in through the front lobby, it seems best if you hold up there.”
“Can you tell us who, or what is attacking?” Jones asked staring around the room and wondering if there was a hot tub or at the very least a bar was nearby.
“Time guerrillas,” the scientist looked at a tablet computer and ticked off a checklist.
“Monkeys?” Jones stared in amazement at the white coat.
“No, I said guerrillas, not gorillas,” the scientist looked at Jones with annoyance, “temporal bandits who are going to travel back through time to attack the station.”
“Space apes? You’re being attacked by space apes?” Jones, who not knowing the difference between a baboon and a bassoon felt himself out of his depth, “I thought they only existed in space operas. Why are chimpanzees are attacking a space station?”
“I said guerrillas! Are you deaf? Terrorists!”
“Oh, right oh,” Jones nodded, “Loonies with guns it is then, now I understand. So, why are they attacking you?”
“They want to stop the experiment, they say it will destroy Time itself.”
“Apes that talk?” Maguire asked trying to keep a straight face.
“They’re not apes you imbecile!” the scientist shouted. “I said guerrillas! Not gorillas!”
“Will it?” Jones continued.
“Will it – what?” the scientist blinked.
“Will it stop time?”
“Well,” the scientist smoothed his ruffled lab coat, “we won’t know until we run the experiment, will we?”
“Can you even hazard a guess?”
“Science isn’t about guesswork,” the scientist drew himself up to his full five feet two, “it’s about careful calculation, exhaustive experimentation, and most importantly getting a Nobel Prize. All of which leads to a lifetime tenure at the university of your choice. Trust me, there is no guesswork involved at all.”
“So what are they like? These super space guerrillas? Big?” Maguire grinned and began to enjoy himself immensely.
 “They started off in the twentieth century as a run of the mill ‘save the whales’ campaign, but over the centuries evolved into a fully blown terrorist army, with links to the Neo-Baader-Meinhof, the Neo-Luddites and Neo-Druidism, and in the future they must develop time travel independently of us.”
“You’re now telling you’re being attacked by Druids?” Jones smirked.
“Neo-Druids, don’t underestimate how dangerous someone dressed in a white cape, holding a sprig of mistletoe and waving deer entrails in your face can be, it’s hideous.”
“I can imagine,” Jones patted his plasma rifle.
The scientist looked at Jones’ plasma rifle and nodded, “they’re also armed with the latest plasma cannons, plasma grenades, plasma knives, plasma laser, plasma trebuchet.”
“Pretty well anything with plasma then?” Jones raised his eyebrows.
“They don’t carry blood plasma, having sworn to die or destroy our machine,” the scientist narrowed his eyes at Jones, “you had better be ready for anything.”
“Oh, we are, we are,” Jones grinned and turned around to point at a machinegun like object, which appeared to have four spindly legs and two beady eyes which it rotated manically about the room, “we have this.”
“What’s that?” the scientist stared at the odd looking object.
 “We call it the Gun,” Jones looked satisfied with himself.
“A gun? You are all carrying guns.”
“I said Gun, not gun.”
“It’s the same word!”
“Capital G.”
“Perhaps I should introduce you to the Gun,” Jones grinned and jumped out of harms way. The Gun scuttled forward on its tiny legs, leapt into the air and knocked the scientist to the ground.
Oooooooh Papa Legba! Let’s me at deem!” it screamed in Jive and jammed its barrel up the scientist nose. " What? Shall ah' stab him as he sleeps? Why, he shall neva' wake until de great judgment day. Slap mah fro! Did he fire six shots o' only five? Sheeit, t'tell ya' de trud, in all dis 'sitement, I've kinda lost track mah'self. What it is, Mama! But, bein' as dis be a .44 Magnum, de most powerful handgun in de wo'ld and would blow yo' 'haid clean off, ya''ve gots'ta ax' yo'self one quesshun: "Do ah' feel lucky?" Sheeit, do ya, punk? Go a'haid, make mah' day.”
“It’s from Jamaica,” Jones pulled it off the scientist “if you’re wondering about the accent, and for reasons we can’t explain, it has the entire works of Shakespeare in its memory and can only speak in quotes. It is also a nuclear powered Gatling gun with enough firepower to annihilate a whole forest of druids. Yes, I think we know what we’re doing.”
The little man coughed and brushed himself down.
“Don’t you men have a commanding officer?”
“No sir, this is a suicide mission,” Jones explained, “our officers are forbidden to accompany suicide missions.”
“Who gave that order?”
“The officers.”
The scientist blinked. “Don’t you men worry about the fact this is so dangerous?”
“No sir, it simply means we don’t have to worry about our officers, if anything is going to get us killed, it’s our officers.”
“Very well,” the scientist picked up his tablet computer and made a note, “we expect the attack in exactly fifteen days from now.”
“How can you be so precise, have you a spy in the guerrillas?”
“No, but that’s when we turn on the machine. They always come when it goes on.”
“Isn’t that a bit odd?”
“Not in the least,” the little scientist kept ticking off a checklist, “they travel back in time to the present and tell us how dangerous it’s going to be and how it will blow up the galaxy. When we try and ignore them, they destroy the machine, then disappear and we lose our entire R&D budget for the year.”
“It’s happened before?” Jones asked.
“Eight times.”
Jones rocked back on his heels and tried to digest this. “You’re telling me, someone in the future has a time machine, and they come back in time to try and stop you from using your time machine, so as to save the galaxy.”
“That’s right.”
“And it doesn’t worry you, that you might blow up the galaxy.”
“It’s not easy getting a Nobel Prize, you know,” the scientist eyebrows went hyperbolic, “lots of graft and endless hours over machines that go ping in the middle of the night, and they only say it might destroy the galaxy but our calculations say it probably wont.”
“If we knew for certainty, we wouldn’t have to do the experiment, now then would we?”
With that, the little man did an about face and marched out of the room with his tablet under his arm.
“I’m not sure it’s our own officers we need to worry about this time,” Jones said to himself. “Right then Gun, go on patrol and make sure no one enters the landing port.”
“Yes masta' de firey rain uh Papa Legba gots'ta burn waaay down downon our enemies!” it stood up on its tiny rear legs and managed a salute.
“Just tell us if someone starts shooting at us.”
“Slap ma fro!” it scuttled away like a bizarre cross between an Airedale and a psychotic vacuum cleaner.
The Gun was truly dangerous, in the way a sabre tooth tiger in a shopping mall is truly dangerous, you simply wouldn’t want to be there. Its response to a firefight with an enemy was to obliterate anything and everything that moved, while anything that didn’t move like chairs and lampshades were read the Geneva Convention on civilian prisoners and warned that any attempt to move would result in complete annihilation. It also had the unshakeable belief it was possessed by the Haitian god of Voodoo - Papa Legba, the god who allowed access to the spirit world. This had the unnerving effect of it screaming into battle, promising safe passage to the afterlife once everything had been reduced to its constituent atomic level.
“Dorfmann,” said Jones, “set up a comlink station to Galaxy Command. Mackie watch the Gun and make sure it doesn’t kill us. Maguire find me the nearest bar.”
“We’re in deepest space, it’s a suicide mission, and I ain’t your bitch,” Maguire grinned.
Jones gave Maguire the finger then pointed to the door. “Alcohol - find!”
Jones wasn’t the platoon leader, and in general Skymarines didn’t need leaders, just targets. He was, however, the cleverest member of the team, for like all of them, he had unique retro-virals implanted in his DNA during basic training. These retro-virals were snippets of DNA from other organisms to make Skymarines run faster, see further, or in Jones’ case the DNA left over from Einstein’s brain. This made him possibly the smartest Skymarine there had ever been, unfortunately it was not a useful part of Einstein’s brain, rather it was the bit that dealt with alcohol, fear and the ability to spot a bagel at a thousand yards.
What was even more bizarre was that his own aptitude for science could be summed up by his science teacher's report, which was so bad it was posted in the form of a postcard from Belgium, where the teacher now still resides.
 They settled in placing gun emplacements and set booby traps round the airlock, most of them caught some shuteye or spent their time rigging up a still for Jones. The fact they were facing certain death and there was no mash to make the whiskey, was not a problem for the Skymarines, as they had been trained in boot camp to ignore death or consume hideous amounts of alcohol to ensure their deaths, all for the sake of esprit de corps. Jones wandered off to the main laboratory to try and learn something useful for defending against the insurgents, and see if there was any surgical alcohol on board.
The time device was a glittering arrangement of tubes, sparking valves, umbilical data ports and multicoloured cables, it was the sort of complex device that made you take careful steps away from. If you took all the laboratories in a major university and poured them out into a large puddle, then allowed all the bits to randomly rearrange themselves into a coherent pile of blinking lights, humming tubes and whirring gears then you might conceivable have something that approached whatever this machine was supposed to be. If you were the sort of scientist who was foolhardy enough to do this, then almost certainly you were also the sort of student in high school who was voted least likely to get a girlfriend and most likely to start a galactic war. Provided, of course, you weren’t destroyed by your own creation.
“How does it work?” Jones asked, feeling a strange temptation to push a large red button.
“It manipulates the Heisenbergs Uncertainty Principle,” the scientist explained and slapped Jones’ hand away from the button, “any particle can borrow an infinitesimal bit of time in exchange for an infinitesimal bit of energy, and can travel back or forward in time for a little way.”
“That doesn’t sound very dangerous,” Jones kept staring at the big red button.
“It’s not, but we scaled it up to the size of the station.” He slapped Jones’ hand again as it crept towards the button, “Now, however, we sum the energy of all those infinitesimal particles to an enormous burst of energy. The resulting explosion is of the order of a small solar flare. It is big, but certainly not enough to disrupt the whole galaxy. Those temporal terrorists have no idea what we are doing.”
“The ones from the future who know everything you do because they have a historical record.”
“Yes, and if touch that button again I will feed you to the temporal vortex generator.”
“Won’t you be here when the machine explodes?”
“No, the complement of science crew will leave an hour before the station blows up.”
“And the Skymarines?”
“You will stay behind to ensure the guerrillas don’t interfere with the time machine, and just moments before the station blows up you will leave on the Star Cruiser Anais Nin.”
“What if the ship is late?”
“Then there is a back up plan, you leave moments after the station blows up.”
“Won’t that be too late?”
“Well, it is a time machine, who knows what might happen.”
“You’re a scientist, you’re supposed to know what’s going to happen.”
“In that case,” the scientist grinned, “I’d leave moments before the station blows up.”
“Feck,” Jones stared worriedly at the floor, “they really don’t call these suicide missions for nothing. What’s that button do?”
“It controls the fuel for the energy flux distributor.”
“What sort of fuel?”
“Pure ethanol, why?”
“What happens if I push that button?”
“The time shunt stops, and the machine resets. Under no circumstances must you or your men touch it or any of the other buttons.”
Jones grinned and sauntered off. “Thank you, you’ve been most helpful.”

“Put down that gasket,” Jones yelled when he rejoined the platoon. “I found the bar.”
Maguire threw the gasket at the wall and kicked the whiskey still he had been constructing from a water-recycling unit. “So why build it in the first place?” Maguire snarled.
“It’s okay I got a plan,” Jones grinned, “and you know it pays to have a bit Einstein’s brain stuck in your head.”
“I thought you got the dumb bit of the brain,” Maguire glowered.
“Even the dumb bit is smarter than yours.” Jones looked down his nose at Maguire, “Now listen up, this really is a suicide mission, if we make even the smallest error we get atomised. On the other hand, we know exactly when the enemy is coming through that door, so all we need to do is make sure we’re nowhere near here when they arrive.”
“We’re not going to defend the station?” Maguire looked sceptical.
“The station blows irregardless of us defending it or not. It blows up if it works and it blows up if the space monkeys come through the front door. All we have to do is make sure we don’t get blown up, and to that we just need to put the clocks back an hour and we will have plenty of time to leave on the Star Cruiser Anais Nin.”
“That’s it?” Dorfmann laughed, “Just put the clocks back? Hang on; do we put the clocks forward or backwards? If we put them backwards then the station blows up an hour early.”
“Feck!” Jones clenched his hands, “yes I knew that, I really said forwards, I think.”
“Or is it forward,” Dorfmann looked at the ceiling, “remember this is in the future.”
“Okay, we put them forward, either way we change all the clocks on the station and leave an hour sooner than the bomb goes off.”
“Yes,” Maguire looked dourly at Jones, “I can see you got the right part of Einstein’s brain up there.”
Jones ignored this and went on. “Next the brainiacs have a ready supply of vodka on board,” and looked about the room for applause.
“Are you sure it’s vodka,” Maguire hefted part of the water-recycling unit in his hands, “not like the time you tried to give us actual rocket-fuel. You do know that actual rocketfuel is deadly poisonous?”
“It was labelled Rocketfuel, wasn’t it? They serve drinks in bars called Rocketfuel! I’ve had great cocktails called Rocketfuel!” Jones was annoyed at any criticism, “Who would thought Hydrazine was deadly toxic?”
“It smelt like ammonia!” Maguire yelled at him.
“I thought it was ouzo!” Jones yelled back.

The Skymarines settled in for a couple of weeks without officers and nothing to do. Changing the clocks turned out to be easier than expected, as Dorfmann was able to take over the central computer that controlled all the clocks and set them back an hour just to be on the safe side. That not one single scientist should carry a wristwatch made it all the simpler. The time passed enjoyably as Jones found a way to siphon off the pure ethanol alcohol from the energy flux distributor and most days were spent lying around dreaming up new scams once they returned to base, or playing Space Ball in the lobby.
Space Ball was similar to Base Ball; except the gravity was turned off and full-bodied tackling and chokeholds were permitted. Since Skymarines wore Hardlyaman exoskeleton spacesuits, capable of taking direct plasma blasts or even a meteorite storm, they played hard and were not above using a plasma grenade for a ball. After two weeks the lobby looked more like a war zone than a business lounge.
As the day arrived, Jones contacted the Star Cruiser Anais Nin and requested a pickup one-hour before the expected explosion. What Jones didn’t know, was that they were now running at different times to the rest of Galactic Command, and the Anais Nin would now be an hour later than he intended.
The complement of scientists assembled in lobby, as flurries of paper were left trailing along the corridors behind them, they stared in surprise at the chaos in the lobby.
“Have they attacked already?” the head scientist joked as he looked about in shock at the mess made by the Skymarines.
Jones, as he lay in his bed drinking a martini and tossing a plasma grenade in the air, misheard this and panicked “They’re attacking! To arms!” The platoon leapt into the air, grabbing their plasma rifles and pulling their visors down on their Hardlyaman helmets, checking the entry points and loading their weapons.
In the midst of it all, the Gun that had been dozing by the airlock like an Airedale by the kitchen door, woke up and started screaming quotes from Richard the Third in Jamaican.
“Now be de winta' of our discontent Made glo'ious summa' by dis sun uh Yo'k; And all de clouds dat lour'd downon our crib. In de deep bosom uh de ocean buried! Slap mah fro!”
With this, it immediately opened up with all the fury that only a nuclear power Gatling gun can even pretend to possess. A maelstrom of destruction erupted in the room, and disintegrating anything that wasn’t made out of a Hardlyaman spacesuit; which conveniently all the Skymarines wore, and the scientists dove back out the door before they were rendered into their particulate parts. Fortunately, the Gun was not attached to Mackie’s exoskeleton suit and for the most part the shots were all wild, the recoil knocking the Gun about like a corgi with rabies and the St. Vitus' dance. However, so many plasma bolts flew about the room it was like watching New Years fireworks from inside the rockets.
Soon the Gun ran out of ammunition and the lobby fell into silence with the exception of light fittings slowly falling to the ground and Skymarine slowly clicking their visors up.
“Slap mah fro!” the Gun said in amazement, “I kin't believe ah' missed again!”
Suddenly the airlock slid open and a troop of heavily armed gorillas appeared and pointed their weapons at the Skymarines.
“Hang on, is that?” Jones asked in amazement.
“Yes,” said Dorfmann grinned.
“A gorilla?” said Jones.
“A gorilla carrying a plasma cannon,” finished Maguire.
“A gorilla carrying a plasma cannon wearing half a spacesuit,” finished Dorfmann.
“Put your paws in the air!” the gorilla guerrilla yelled at them.
“No way,” Jones said in disbelief.
“We’re not monkeying around!” the gorilla yelled at him.
“I think you are,” Jones grinned.
“Stop that!” said the ape, “This is serious!”
“Time travelling monkeys with plasma cannons, and you don’t think it’s a joke?” Jones started to giggle.
“We’re not monkeys!” the gorilla clenched its teeth, “this is what happens to the human race if that time machine is tested.”
Jones turned to the head scientist who was poking his head around the door. “I thought you said they were guerrillas not gorillas.”
“The timeline must be different in their universe,” he scratched his head, “anyway we have to leave, good luck defending the station.”
“There is only one universe!” the gorilla yelled and picked a fleck of salt out of its fur. “Your hypothesis is incorrect, all universes blend into one.”
“Nonsense!” the head scientist glared, “each universe is independent of all the others.”
“Triple nonsense!” the gorilla bared its teeth, “each universe belongs to a unique Hilbert Space. Do you agree?”
“Well yes,” the scientist seemed unsure of talking to an ape about theoretical physics, “but I don’t see how that matters.”
“There is a mathematical proof that shows between any two Hilbert Spaces you can put another, a third Hilbert Space.”
“So? Wait,” the head scientist looked at the floor, “that would mean…”
“Yes! That because of energy flow, all universes blend into one.” The gorilla finished. “There can be only one!”
“Bother,” the scientist sighed, “there goes my Nobel Prize.”
“You must shut down the time machine!” the gorilla yelled as it jumped up and down and bang its chest.
“Never!” said the scientist, “We have a hypothesis!”
“The hypothesis is wrong!” said the gorilla.
“Hypothesis’ are never wrong! Only facts are wrong!”
“There are only minutes to spare, the time machine must be stopped!”
“Nonsense,” the head scientist remonstrated with his finger, “we have an whole hour before the singularity takes place.”
“Not according to our records,” said the gorilla, “and ours are exact, the explosion will take place in less than five minutes.”
“Rubbish!” retorted the head scientist, “your clocks must be fast!”
Jones looked at the ceiling and groaned. “Wait, what if, and this is just for a hypothetical argument, all the clocks on the station had been set back an hour, and this is, mind you, merely a hypothetical argument?”
“Then the singularity will happen an hour earlier, and the space monkeys would be on time irregardless of the clocks.”
“We’re not monkeys!” the gorilla yelled and started eating an orange with the skin still on.
“So it’s forwards, not backwards,” Jones shook his head worriedly, “I never really understood daylight saving.”
Suddenly there was a tremendous explosion that rocked the entire station. A great flare of light poured into the space windows and everyone rushed to look out the portholes.
“What happened?” Jones asked.
“I think that was our robotic shuttle! Oh dear,” said the head scientist. “We were leaving on that.”
“It must have intersected with our time portal when it dropped out of hyperlightspeed,” said the gorilla. “They are both destroyed.”
“You stupid apes!” the head scientist yelled, “you’re an hour early!”
“Is that bad?” Jones felt his intestines doing origami.
“Is it bad?” the gorilla shrieked then threw something black, gooey and nondescript at the wall. “Is it bad?”
“It is very bad,” said the head scientist, “in a few minutes the station will blow like a solar flare.”
“Solar flare! My red behind!” the gorilla jumped up the wall and displayed itself, “most of the galaxy will go up. The feedback across the Hilbert Divide is catastrophic!”
“Oh feck,” the head scientist began to sweat, “temporal feedback.”
“Is that bad?” Jones felt a wave of fear wash across his body and the air conditioning on Jones’ Hardlyaman suit kicked in as his temperature soared.
No one answered his question as the scientists and the gorillas scampered down the hallway to throw themselves at the control room.
“I think it may be very bad,” said Jones.
“But it’s alright Jonsey,” said Dorfmann, “we just leave when the Anais Nin arrives.”
“Hmm,” Jones pondered this, “just out of interest, does the Galactic Command of United Nations and Planets happen to be on daylight saving?”
At this Jones and the rest of the Skymarines tore down passageway after the rest, and only the Gun was left behind. “Soon Papa Legba! Soon!” It began to dance to the Loa and putting Voodoo dolls around the room.
The Skymarines crowded around the apes and the scientists, everyone watched the clock counting down.
“Two minutes,” said the head gorilla.
“It’s not a problem,” said the chief scientist, “we merely need to close off the time shunt and the machine will reset.” He fiddled with the controls for precious seconds. “Ah.”
“Don’t ah!” Jones yelled, “now is not a time for Ahing! Now is a time for saying – all done! Don’t you dare Ah me!”
“There’s a problem,” the scientist bit his lip, “the pressure on the fuel is too low, I can’t imagine how we missed it, or how it happened.”
“Ah,” said Jones and looked the other way. “That fuel wouldn’t happen to be the pure ethanol, would it?”
“Yes,” the scientist squinted at Jones, “why - what do you know about this?”
“Nothing,” Jones went bright red, “just a lucky guess. Can you fix it?”
“We must blow it up,” the gorilla lifted his plasma cannon, “before it destroys the galaxy and curses the future with generations of mutant monkeys!”
“I thought you said you weren’t monkeys?” Jones looked him up and down.
“You know what I mean!” the gorilla snapped back.
“No, I don’t,” Jones rubbed his the stubble on his chin, “and I suspect if I knew what you meant we wouldn’t be in the mess.”
“We can’t blow it up,” the scientist put himself in front of the console, “you have no idea the amount of crawling I went through to get the budget passed! Corporal Jones you have to defend us!”
Jones looked at the scientist, glanced at the gorilla and stared at his men. They all vigorously nodded and told him to blow up the console.
“If we blow up the console will it stop the explosion?” Jones asked the gorilla, lifting up his plasma rifle and pointing it straight at the scientist and onto the console.
“Yes,” the gorilla grunted.
“Yes, it will stop the temporal explosion,” the scientist held his hands in front of his face, “but the station will still blow up anyway! Either way, we die!”
“Is there anyway we can stop it?” Jones dropped his rifle.
“We need to get the pressure up, that’s all I can think of,” said the scientist and wiped the sweat from his eyes.
“We need to jam something onto the fuel port and force the pressure along the piping.”
“Something like what?”
“Like rubber tubing or anything!”
“Will this work?” the gorilla pulled a banana from its kit.
“Perfect!” The scientist grabbed the banana and forced it down the fuel hole, they watched as the fuel rose in the glass cylinder and the scientist hit the red button. At the moment the gorillas disappeared in sudden pops as the air rushed into their vacated volumes.
“What happened?” Jones looked startled.
“Temporal reflux,” the scientist scratched his head, “it’s kind of like the future universe swallowing itself. Don’t worry about it, we’re safe.”
“We’re safe!” Jones and the Skymarines hurrahed, “its time to celebrate!”
“I don’t want to hang a lampshade on this,” the chief scientist muttered to himself, “but who would expect an army of time travelling apes from the future, would stuff a banana in the fuel cell and save the galaxy.”
“Don’t let it worry you,” Jones grinned and clapped him on the shoulder, “we saved the universe and that’s what the Skymarines do!”
“Yes,” the scientist frowned, “but what I can’t figure out is why the ethanol was so low.”
“Martinis, anyone?” Jones turned on the spot and hurried out of the room.

The colonel was debriefing them from their mission.
“Is that all you have to report?” the colonel asked.
“Yes sir,” said Jones.
“It’s maam, soldier, not sir,” barked the colonel.
Jones looked carefully at his ranking officer.
           “Yes, … maam,” he said slowly, “sir, I mean maam, I could have sworn you were a sir last time we met.”
            “My doctor says I'm suffering from some sort of temporal reflux, don't ask, and yes I'm pregnant from a monkey."