Antiope was very happy to see Jim back in one piece, and with no implications. Jim advised John that there indeed was another portal, and the Venetians were employing all their energy in keeping the star cruiser hidden. Jim recalled that only one fleet cruiser had a portal. Jim would employ Idiot specifically to eliminate that cruiser. If they could find the other portal and destroy it, then the fleet could be easily defeated. Jim was sure that Isis would be forced to surrender if he trapped her on earth with no portal available to take her back to Artemis.
Earth would never know the true reason why Isis had called off the invasion. They would think that the ICBM's were the deterring force. Jim had no great desire to destroy the entire fleet, but he was prepared to, if he felt it were necessary.
Isis would undoubtedly use the last portal to return to earth. Jim also realized that her earth portal would be the one that she would use to take him back to Artemis if he were captured. If captured, she would have the Box, but would have limited use, but if she took the Box, then they both would be on the Pegasus. Isis would not anticipate that.
John suggested that he would be able to retrieve Jim from the Pegasus upon capture, but he could not say the same about being able to retrieve the Box. Jim suggested that John could drift on the Pegasus as a ghost, but reminded John of Isis's acute sensitivity. He wouldn't put it past her to trap them both. It involved too much risk. John would have to pluck and run. Genie reminded Jim that it could not go back in time within the Pegasus without the proper password.
Jim was startled and immediately had another idea. He asked John to withdraw into the other room with Antiope as he signaled to Genie the need for first level security clearance.
"OK Idiot. You have something I need to know. You have just suggested that I permit myself and you to be captured. She takes control of you. We are whisked back to the Pegasus, which will be en-route to Cygnus. I'm her captive as we enter the black hole, but you can't go with the Pegasus."
"That's correct. Time travel requires level one password."
"Then what would happen to you then?"
"I am awaiting your programmed instruction. Situation specified requires me to be able to transport elsewhere in space with intelligent biomatter."
"Such as perhaps myself and Helen back to Earth."
"If you wish, but the Pegasus will necessarily recoil safely through the Black Hole to Earth 10,000 BC at the exact same point in space as your whiplash to current earth. I must assume the shape of the Pegasus when that is done. I believe you know the coordinates. Isis and all aboard will have traveled back in time. We must, however, go back in time ourselves to retrieve the Pegasus. While that starship exists in the past, it will be capable of accelerating forward in time to create some potentially very explosive situations which we must avoid in order for you to have ever existed."
"Idiot, I believe I perceive what must occur. We will need to intercept the fleet's flagship and destroy that portal, first. Are you capable of intercepting her? "
"I can search for the fleet using known information and regression techniques, but it would be somewhat time-consuming because we'll have to make frequent stops to get your directions."
"I can imagine. We can pretty well expect as granted she'll be back on earth the date that John gave us, and she'll commence an undercover assault operation. That will be the day we destroy the portal in her fleet flagship. If she dares come out of hiding with the remaining cruiser, John will lock on and not let loose. Our satellites, Idiot...she'll go for
our satellites. That would blind us. We must anticipate an attack from her in that direction."
"Acknowledged. However, Isis will most certainly strike at the time you destroy her fleet cruiser. I am excluded from involvement with the fleet before that date as well. There are an extreme amount of spatial temporal instabilities at those points, and there are no disturbances in projected light space after that date which will complicate my navigational systems."
"The optimal time for strike is when our satellites are attacked, then we know she is here, or any time previous that I can confirm her presence. I believe we can alter the orbit of certain strategic satellites. I'm sure they have been plotting them and have pre-designated ground strike zones pre-designated. If we shift the orbits at the last moment, they'll be waiting for satellites that never go overhead. Idiot, I need you to prepare a satellite scrambling routine. Do you understand the game, and can you win?"
"Gaming strategy developed. 99.99% plus probability of winning. Request direction to proceed with program execution. Will need to reprogram a few satellite control systems."
"The time travel scares me."
"I'm afraid that I can't be much help to you now. Maybe John can give you some insight. He has time traveled. I can pause until you have consulted with him if you like."
Jim rejoined Antiope and John. "How much subjective time did you experience between Artemis and when you landed on earth. It wasn't zero, was it?"
John smiled. Jim had hit on something. John said he didn't know because he fell asleep. He blacked out when he hit the event horizon, dreamed and woke up on earth in his submarine in the deep Pacific. John admitted that he could easily have killed himself, if he had relied on staying conscious over the event horizon. The Box's momentum and the precision of the hyperspatial displacement allowed the unit to ride the waves through the depths continuous and intact. The mass to energy conversion efficiency exceeded 100% momentarily as time reverses itself to allow for the absorption of more light. John remarked that he had some very unusual dreams.
"Then if Isis tries to cross into the Black Hole, will she also lose consciousness? "
"I believe so. She would effectively be in a nether region which real light can not pervade. She crosses the barrier; she will effectively be in darkness, until she reawakens in Egypt with her crew. "
"John, we must retrieve the Pegasus from the past."
"Look Jim, it's my fault she has the ship back then. You programmed the ship to land there as a safeguard. My guess is that Isis built the Pyramids so as to be retrieved back into the present. She's calling for us to come to her rescue. She's trapped back there."
"Apparently we retrieved the Pegasus and left her there to rot."
Then John remembered something else about Isis. He knew he couldn't tell Jim. "I'll retrieve the Pegasus, Jim. It's my responsibility. I'll leave it up to you as to what to do with your sister. You really can't leave her back there, and I don't think it'll be a good idea for me to try to bring her back after leaving her there all those centuries."
"We'll discuss that if we ever get that far." He then whispered into Jim's ear so that Antiope could not hear. "Did Idiot tell you to ask me about time travel?"
By now Antiope was getting a little curious and feeling left out.
"Sorry Antiope," Jim apologized, "but it seems that you haven't seen nothing yet, and you really don't need to know what's in store."
Antiope felt challenged. "Well how totally in the dark are you going to keep me, or does the fate of the universe rest on secrecy?"
"Antiope, there's another star cruiser on this planet, somewhere under the ocean, and we still haven't found it."
"Then Isis could be back even now?"
"Not now, but soon, and John must stay hidden until the day that she can return."
"Well all this high-energy talk is tiring me out, Jim. I see you weren't gone too long but I still got back faster."
"Yeah, well it's cheating doing negative time to beat my zero time, Dad."
"Yeah, Son, but if I didn't show faith in your invention we'd never have made this discovery."
"Is that good or bad?"'
"I don't know, but I guess it is that way, though, eh?"
"And we found out."
"And know one else knows."
"Except Antiope here."
"But she loves the ride. Don't you babe?"
She smiled at them both. "I'm tired of the submarine. I want to be back on my yacht."
John pulled his unit up next to the Flying Dutchman and crawled out of the hatch to board the yacht. He then folded the submarine back into his briefcase. He didn't bother to hide it from Antiope, who by now could accept just about anything.
Jim had Genie restructure the yacht to palatial proportions. John set up his own localized command post on the Dutchman as well. For the next several hours scan upon scan was performed in valiant attempts to find the Venetians.
John was especially quiet over the next several days. Antiope sensed that John was actually afraid. He worked feverishly running computations and studying ancient history. Yet he would reveal nothing.
Jim and Antiope took off for Colorado. Jim took Idiot with him, of course. John took a liking for the Flying Dutchman. The two marines that knew John were transferred to the USS Abraham Lincoln, with strict orders to keep silent about John. He reportedly conducted a few experimental maneuvers several times that took him off the Navy's radar. The sailors took it all in good humor. This ghost ship called the Flying Dutchman seemed like a dream come true, and it spooked them to boot. Some old salts said that this Colonel James was probably doing time travel experiments, and this was the same Flying Dutchman of sea going legends. What does one expect from old salts any way but tall sea