June 18, 2458 CE: Rome, Italy
The recon team would meet with the TTC tomorrow to discuss the events during their trip. They were not looking forward to explaining how they almost lost a member of their crew and the events leading up it. They were not looking forward to explaining how a recon mission turned into a mission that involved full interaction with the recon target. They knew that there was a good chance the TTC would disband their team over this.
The team would have to go over their notes and make sure their stories were accurate. The TTC would demand nothing less than total accuracy. They would have their video units to go over as well. Each team member carried a behind-they-eye miniature video camera. The data chips were removed and being processed for full video. The team would have access to the video in a couple of hours so they could verify their memory with the actual recording of the event.
Dr. Peter went over his notes more closely as he tried to identify the crucial turning point. When had the expedition turned from a recon mission to a full-blown interaction with the subjects? Where there any psychological signs that he missed? Were there symptoms of drug use or hallucinations from a disease? What had he overlooked? More importantly, how did he end up going along willingly?
May 27, 2458: New Mexico, USA
The evolution of Homo sapiens saw the decline and fall of religiosity and religions and the increase in reason, rationality, and logic. This new evolutionary path saw an increase in scientific knowledge and a major expansion into the understanding of the universe, physical laws and humanity.
It was in 2312 that humanity finally solved the problem of time and time travel. The Time Travel Committee (TCC) formed in 2324 to watch over time travel and set up expeditions. The primary use of the new technology was to study historic events and record an accurate account of those events.
TTC sent expedition teams to record the assigned event in detail and report their findings. The TTC then gave the recordings, documentation, and other artifacts to historians and then the information disseminated to the world public.
Expedition teams would often include historians, medical technicians, SpecOps, linguists that spoke the language of the expedition destination and scientists from different fields. Teams could be as small as four and as large as twenty – depending on the nature of the expedition and the location. Special expeditions, ones that were sensitive, may only have one or two travelers.
Some of the most successful expeditions to date were the documentation of the Civil War in the US, the Martian colony uprising, the comet impact that ultimately killed the dinosaurs and the entire evolutionary path of the species on the planet.
The TTC hid each component of the time technology in a different part of the world. The administrative staff was separate from the operational staff. Different parts of the world handled different functions. TTC’s headquarters was in Rome, but the main travel unit was located in the Ute Mountain Indian reservation in New Mexico. The administrative portion of the TTC (aside from those personnel assigned to individual members of the committee) was in Fort St. John in British Columbia.
Using the spread-out method was for security purposes. Access to one site would not grant access to use of the machine. The operations department, located in Johannesburg, South Africa, was required to turn the system online and process maintenance personnel. TTC dispatched maintenance personnel to the respective sites when needed. The five major components of the time system were all contained in different areas of the world as well. The travel pod itself, was located in New Mexico.
All of these places were online in order for the pod to function. Anyone attempting to use the pod without proper authorization would find himself or herself sitting in a pod that went nowhere and ultimately behind bars.
The team had arrived the previous week. The early arrival was for last-minute checks and final discussions and reviews of logistics and operational details. The plan was to travel back to 28 CE and document the area around Jerusalem and the interaction of local inhabitants with the conquering Roman army.
The team would return in 34CE after spending six years in the period. They would return to the future only five minutes after they departed. Each team member would be six years older while those that remained in the present would only be five minutes older.
The team consisted of twelve personnel. Josh was the team commander and acted as the primary linguist because he spoke Hebrew and Greek. Josh had been working with his team for the past two years in preparation for this trip. Josh did not look upon time travel lightly – each trip took at least a year of planning and often more. Josh was confident in his team.
The rest of the team was composed of Dr. Peter and the medical technician, Phil. The science team included John Zebus (sociologist), Thomas (anthropologist), Thad (physicist and time expert), and Bart (historian). The secondary linguist was Matt, whose specialty was Arabic languages. The SpecOps team consisted of Andrew, James Zebus (John’s younger brother), James Althaeas, and Simon.
All team members were dressed in the attire of the time and all of the gear was in satchels that would fit into the culture. All members had grown beards over the past year to help blend into the culture. The medical personnel would bring all the medical supplies necessary for acute and chronic emergencies. Spec-Ops personnel would have concealed weapons of course and other survival materials.
As they loaded into the pod for time transport, all the team members took their seats and began their respective checklists.
The team took solace that a pod window would open up every sixty days for the duration of their six-year trip. This would be done as a precautionary measure should a bailout be necessary. The technology to talk between times did not exist.
Depending on the location of the expedition, there was a way for the past team to communicate with the TCC. TCC used set locations as drop points that they checked on a daily basis when teams were out in those locations. The team would place a message in the drop point and the TCC would “discover” them and respond to whatever the request was. Unfortunately, there were no known drop points in the Jerusalem area. The closest drop point was in Cairo, Egypt.
All departments were online and the countdown was almost complete. Just a few more minutes…
Summer, 28 CE: outside Jerusalem
The arrival was uneventful from an operational stance. From a psychological stance, it can often be disturbing. One minute you are sitting in a pod and in a few seconds there is a blinding light and you are sitting in the middle of a desert. Many team members find themselves sitting for a few minutes until their senses come back to full capability and they become cognizant of their surroundings.
Spec-Ops make so many trips that this confusion does not affect them anymore. The Spec-Ops members quickly stood up and surveyed the area. The insertion appeared to have gone unnoticed. Spec-Ops remained alert until the other members of the team gained their composure and began to go about their business.
They already had a plan of action to procure money, food, and living quarters. They laid out the operational side of this expedition in advance with specific procedures for the team to follow and for each individual to follow.
Spring, 29 CE: Galilee
So far, the expedition was going well. The group had procured housing near Galilee. The locals in the area were respectful of the team. The new residents were not troublemakers, but they often seemed distant and only a few of them ever talked to anyone.
The locals knew the group’s leader, Joshua (they pronounced it Yeshua), the best. He had come into the town, talked to the people, and seemed genuinely interested in their troubles and hardships. Yeshua was wise and had great knowledge and understanding of the human nature and many people in the villages around Galilee came to Yeshua to talk about their problems.
Yeshua always seemed to have a solution to their problems and he mediated between groups that were fighting. Locals began calling Yeshua the “Peacemaker.”
The team was constantly worried about interfering with history, but some things they felt were okay. It was not detrimental to the time continuum to talk to the local. Josh had also convinced Dr. Peter and Phil that their medical oath to save lives went with them no matter what time they were working.
Between the three, they had helped many people that were sick and dying. Dr. Peter quickly realized that diabetes was running rampant in the area. Dr. Peter was unable to convince people to take his pills that cured diabetes. Josh, having built a repertoire with the locals handed out the pills instead. The residents accepted the pills from Josh and the pills cured their diabetes within a few days.
The SpecOps members questioned the tactics of healing locals of their illness, but the humanitarian side of them ultimately succumbed and they agreed to the practice.
Thomas, the anthropologist, was the most vocal opponent to the practice of healing locals. He insisted that the diabetes and other diseases had played a critical role in the development of this area and its history. Would the saved citizens alter history? They were supposed to die and now they were going to live.
No matter how much the rest of the team tried to convince Thomas that it was the humane thing to do, Thomas remained doubtful.
Winter, 30 CE
Bart, the historian, was becoming concerned about the group’s following. As they traveled around the cities to gather information about the locals and the Roman occupation, a large group followed closely behind them. Because of the group’s efforts to cure people of disease and help those in need, they had become somewhat of a legend.
City elders would approach the team and ask to speak to Yeshua the Peacemaker or Yeshua the Miracle Worker. Bart was especially worried that this attention by the locals would draw the interest of the Romans and they would have to abort the mission.
The team had already faced one encounter with the Pharisee. The Pharisees were chasing a prostitute, whom the team had frequented. The team intervened and came to her aid. Josh told the Pharisee that human life was more important than laws and that every life was sacred – regardless of the things they do that offend us.
The prostitute, Miriam, was grateful to the team and the team was grateful for her services. Miriam traveled with the team wherever they went – providing her services each night to a different team member. In exchange for her services, the team offered her protection from the local law and kept her fed, clothed, and sheltered.
The encounter with the Pharisee and the harboring of Miriam was leading Bart to believe that an encounter was unavoidable. When he expressed his concerns to the team, they dismissed his statements as over-exaggeration. Bart decided that it was best to keep his mouth shut in fear of destabilizing the team’s cooperative effort and chances for survival.
Spring, 31 CE
The team was constantly traveling now. They felt that a recon of the Roman occupation would be better if they visited different cities and followed some of the troop movements. During their travels, they would often run across nomadic peoples that were suffering from some illness or another. As had become common practice the team would do their best to help the people. The nomadic peoples felt compelled to respond in kind and would always ask the team to stay for dinner.
The team would accept any invitation for dinner because eating on the road as they had been for the past few months was not providing the most flavorful sustenance.
During the course of the evening, the conversation would always lead toward the Roman occupation. People wanted to talk about it and wanted to get things off their chest. Josh found that he could get more information from people if he started by talking bad about the Romans. Josh would start the conversation off by making a derogatory remark about Centurions or Caesar and the people would start talking and give them loads of valuable information for their journals and recorder units.
Even Bart, who had worried about interfering in such a way, grew to love these sessions because as a historian he was getting a lot of valuable information. Each night after dinner and conversation, the science team would get together and discuss the details. John, Bart, Thomas, Matt, and Thad would often find themselves up until 0300 discussing the day’s conversation. It was not difficult to conclude that the people were looking for someone to lead a revolt against the Roman occupiers. They were looking for a savior.
Summer, 32 CE: Jerusalem
The team was becoming worried. They had heard from several people that Josh was in trouble with the local law and clergy. Apparently, the groups of people that idolized the team, and especially Josh, had drawn attention.
The team felt that they had a better chance of evading the Romans in Jerusalem. Outside Jerusalem, the Romans were hunting for Yeshua based on information they were getting from informants. No one suspected the team would hide out in Jerusalem. Josh thought that as long as they could stay hidden in Jerusalem they could continue their mission.
Thad and Andrew had addressed concerns about staying in the area. They felt it was best to catch the next pod window in twenty days. If they missed that one, it would be eighty days before they could evacuate. John, Thomas, Matthew, and Bart agreed with their concern, but also agreed with Josh that if they waited they could finish their mission successfully – they just had to be more careful.
The team took a vote on whether to stay on and finish the mission or to leave at the next pod window in twenty days. The team voted 9-3 to stay on and finish the mission.
Fall, 32 CE: Jerusalem
The team was in big trouble. A local man had recognized Josh and reported their whereabouts to the Pharisee. Word on the street was that Josh was the new messiah that would lead the Jews against the Roman invaders. The Pharisees were worried that the Roman government would take action against the citizens of Jerusalem for their treasonous talk.
The team decided to leave Jerusalem and make their way to Egypt. Once there they could use a known drop point and let the TCC know that they were in trouble and needed an immediate pod window in Egypt. They could sit in safety in Egypt and await the rescue team.
Before the team made it past the walls, they realized they were not getting out. The Romans had set up blocks at each gate and were questioning everyone. A local follower of Yeshua reported that the Romans were paying people to spot Josh and inform the Centurions when he arrived.
Miriam found out that the Pharisee decided it was in their best interest to speak out against Yeshua. The Roman government was worried about a civil war and Jewish uprising so they decided to do something about it. Several groups of Yeshua-followers outside Jerusalem were examples for others: tortured and killed for all to see.
SpecOps decided that at this point they needed to hide and to do it quickly.
As the team headed through a passageway back to their hiding area, Centurions surrounded them. SpecOps instinctively grabbed the butts of their weapons but Josh quickly told them to stand down. They had a better chance of surviving if they went along peacefully. Armed guards led the team to Caiaphas.
Within a few hours, things had worsened. Caiaphas quickly identified Josh as “Yeshua the Peacemaker” and the one that people were claiming to be the new messiah. Several of the team members pleaded that Josh was not a messiah. Their comments were to no avail.
The Pharisee came and questioned the group. They, like Caiaphas, quickly realized who Josh was. They accused Josh of preaching against the law and claiming to be a healer. They accused Josh of trying to bring down the temple and of treason to the Roman government.
From the back of the room came a voice that silenced everyone in the room. A Roman man dressed in the robe of a diplomat approached Josh and looked him over. He told the Pharisee that he could care less about what offense the man had done to their religion. The man said to crucify Josh for the act of treason. He said the rest should go to spread the word that Rome will not tolerate treason.
Out of the twelve-man team, only four people spoke the language well enough to follow along and know what was going on. Thomas quickly spoke out that Josh was not who they thought he was – he was not the messiah. The diplomat turned around and said, “Even his own follower doubts that he is the messiah! He will be crucified for treason – not blasphemy”.
Centurions grabbed Josh and led him away. Remaining Centurions stopped the rest of the team tried from grabbing Josh. Josh yelled back, “Don’t fight them! It is better for me to die than for the whole team to perish! Go back to the rendezvous point and get out of here!”
Centurions led the team out and dismissed them. They stood there dumbfounded for several minutes as each took in the recent events and contemplated the ramifications of those events. Dr. Peter broke the silence. Dr. Peter said they should monitor the progress and see what they do with Josh. They had to know what happened to Josh.
The team followed the Centurions at a safe distance as they led Josh to the statehouse. Josh would offer a backward glance occasionally and give them a look of reassurance, that it was okay. Thad commented that Josh really would not be dying because he would be born again during the 2400’s. The team took little solace in Thad’s comments.
They forced Josh to drag the large wooden stake through town to his point of crucifixion. As was common with all crucifixions, large crowds gathered to harass the convicted person. The crowd threw rotten fruit at him and shouted insults. Because the crowd did not know what his offense was, there were shouts of “murderer”, “traitor”, “thief,” and others.
The recon team watched in horror. They were powerless to help in this large crowd, even with their advanced technology. Centurions were raising Josh on the stake and a crowd was cheering them on. The team would have to wait until the Romans buried Josh before the team could retrieve his body and take it home – they would leave no man behind.
Dr. Peter decided to end the crucifixion quickly. He snuck up to Josh and gave him a shot of anesthetic to put him to sleep. A couple of hours later the Centurion on duty declared him dead and the remaining crowds departed.
The team still could not rescue Josh from the stake. Small groups of people surrounded the stake. Many were offering prayers to Yeshua the Peacemaker. The team would have to wait until they left or the Romans removed Josh’s body.
After nightfall, the Romans removed Josh from the stake and handed him over to a group of Yeshua followers for burial. They bore Josh’s body upon their shoulders and walked him out of town to a burial place. The team observed from a distance. They had considered stealing the body from the followers, but felt that it would be better to take Josh when no one was looking.
The followers placed Josh’s body in a cave and covered the entrance with rocks. They prayed outside for a few hours and then finally departed. The team waited twenty minutes to ensure that they were gone and out of view and no one else would show up.
The team moved in and removed all the rocks from the entrance of the cave. Dr. Peter and Simon entered the cave to retrieve Josh’s body. The rest of the team stood watch outside. After a couple of minutes they were surprised to hear Dr. Peter yell out that Josh was still alive and for someone to throw his medical bag in quickly.
Phil, the medical technician, went into the cave with the medical gear and helped Dr. Peter. The two worked on Josh for almost an hour before they felt it was safe to transport him. The team moved Josh out of the area and setup camp. The team would have to stay there for another fifteen days until the next pod window opened up. Dr. Peter and Phil would continue to work on Josh and try to get him healthy before the trip.
Four days later Josh was up and walking around. The wounds on his wrists and ankles continued to bother him but the pain medication was helping. Miriam was still with the group and she was babying Josh and tending to him. The team had already decided that Miriam was in too much danger here and that she would return with the team. She had helped the team a lot and had earned their trust and compassion.
Later that afternoon a group of travelers came upon their camp. The travelers recognized the team as the “disciples of Yeshua” and offered their assistance. Once the travelers came into the camp, it was impossible to hide Josh and it was not too long before they found him.
The travelers started singing and chanting, “He is raised!”
The team had to move fast and get as far away from the city as possible. With a group of travelers now seeing Josh alive after thinking he was dead (when he never was), they would quickly add fuel to the fire about a new messiah. Later that night the team snuck out of the camp away from the travelers and headed out into the desert.
Eleven days later the pod window opened up and the team disappeared. They could have never known that a small group of herdsmen had watched them from a nearby cliff. The herdsmen saw a blinding light and the sky “ripple” as the twelve men disappeared into thin air. The herdsmen ran from their flock and began telling everyone about a group of people that ascended into heaven.
June 19, 2458 CE: Rome, Italy
The team presented their information to the TCC. An intelligence team would go over all the video over the course of a year or two. After the end of the study, TCC determines if the team altered history and another team has to go back and fix what was broken.
TCC disbanded the team and prevented them from going on any further expeditions. They placed the science members on an advisory panel to work closely with intelligence teams. The rest of the team would have to find new jobs after TCC briefed them on security.
August 5, 2460 CE: Rome, Italy
The intelligence briefing was taking all day. Historians figured out that damage was minimal. Mistakes made by the recon team were actually already a part of history.
Professor Johnston opened up a document and read several verses from it. He notified the attendees that the document was a Holy Bible, used by Christians before religion faded from humanity.
He said that all the team members were in the book; Josh, Peter, Andrew, James, John, Phil, Bart, Thomas, Matt, James, Thad and Simon. The only character that was out of place was Judas. Johnston said historians thought Judas was made-up in order to blame the Jews for the death of Josh-Yeshua.
There was a lot of embellishment and over-exaggeration and tons of stories fabricated around Josh, but the foundation was there. Had the team not gone back for recon and had they not messed up and interfered with the local population – that would have altered history.
A recon team from the future had become the foundation for a religion that had lasted just over 3,500 years.