Tom Fleet was a bit of a misfit as the second son of a minor English noble in the 1880s. Once he finished his schooling he had little to do. His grandfathers had left him adequate finances for his needs and with his elder brother set to take the title, he gave in to his fascination with gadgets and began to tinker and invent. His goal was to create a sky craft to go to the moon. Surely if Jules Verne’s characters could go there and many other places, he could do as well.
Rowan Farrell followed in his Uncle Gordon’s footsteps, joining the UniFleet, but went a step farther and became an officer. Assigned to his first command level post, he takes a small patrol ship out to scout a region of interest to the Council and report if any signs of the enemy Angevirian Empire in the area.. When one of his crew spots a strange, tiny craft, he decides to capture and study it. After all it could be an Angevirian Trojan horse. But the odd cylindrical vessel holds only one man, unconscious and suffering from hypothermia and lack of oxygen. When the man comes to, he claims to come from the earth—five centuries in the past!
Excerpt: (This occurs not long after Rowan has brought the mysterious small craft aboard and found the unconscious occupant...)
"Spot anything unusual?"
The engineer shook his head. "You're the one who's seen that. Empty as a dead asteroid out here."
Rowan grinned. "Well, yeah. The thing's some kind of vessel and there was a man in it; at least he seemed to be a normal human kind of guy. Doc's going over him now. As for the craft, what a piece of work. No oxygen, hardly any shielding--not much more than an old home world-style tin can! How he and it got out here, I can't even imagine. Maybe he can give me some answers once Doc releases him."
"Is that safe?"
"Damned if I know, but what can one unarmed man do? This guy seems like a citizen of Earth from about five centuries ago. Quaint language and his clothes belonged in a museum. I can hardly wait to talk to him."
With perfect timing, Doc's voice came over the intercom. "Hey, Row, if you want your captive, he seems to be hale enough. Come fetch him, or are you too busy?"
Excitement surged through Rowan. "Be right there." Not only did his peculiar prisoner give his curiosity a major tweak, the guy had an appealing face and manner, not a bad body and-- Rowan jerked his wandering thoughts up short. Put the lust on hold, man. This is not the time or the place.
In general, the rules of UniFleet were tolerant of casual liaisons. Despite that, sex with a mysterious prisoner who might be a spy or an Angevire plant or just about anything was not likely to be approved. He'd do well to keep that in mind. Still, his step had a certain spring as he headed for sickbay to collect the man. Simply finding out where the fellow was from and how he managed to be in space--even if mere near-planet space--would be interesting.
When Rowan reached sick bay, Doc and the stranger stood just outside the door. The visitor held out a hand, standing erect, almost at a stiff attention.
"Sir, I'm Tom Fleet. I understand you're the captain of this vessel and also the one who collected me and my sky-ship?"
"More or less. There's a senior officer, but he's mostly... er... indisposed, so I'm in charge in that case. After my flight engineer spotted your craft, we approached, set the tractor beam on it, and drew you in. Probably a good thing we did. You wouldn't have lasted much longer--too cold and no oxygen."
The stranger's face reflected a mixture of shock and confusion. "I'm not sure what you're talking about."
"How in hell did you build a craft like that and head out into the wild yonder without knowing the conditions?"
Tom shook his head. "You have me there, sir. Really, I only thought I might get maybe as far as the moon at best. I didn't expect to travel through both distance and, apparently, time. Things got way out of hand!"
"We've got a lot of talking to do," Rowan said. "Let's go to the lounge and get some caf or something and sit while we discuss this."
A few minutes later, they perched on stools in the compact lounge area, each with a sipper-cup of hot coffee. At first, Rowan thought Tom was blowing smoke when he spoke of Queen
Rowan shook his head. "It's a wonder you weren't killed, Tom. I'm serious. The temperature once you get beyond the lower atmospheric layers is way below zero. There's little to no oxygen there. How did you imagine you could survive?"
Tom's expressive face reflected shock and bafflement. "I had no idea... Mr. Verne didn't say anything about those matters in his Journey to the Moon. I mean, who's really been there to find out?"
"You weren't planning to time-travel, then?"
Tom shook his head. "No, the idea never even occurred to me." He paused, an odd expression crossing his face. He sighed. "I think I may have really fucked up. When I launched, I was... er... a bit distracted." A sudden wash of color brightened his pale face. "I have a few other devices I've made and one was in the craft. It's a suction machine. I'd tried it a time or two and the idea of actually leaving the Earth excited me so much... "
Rowan grinned, sensing where this awkward admission might be leading. "A mechanical blowjob! So I bet you sent quite a burst of energy into the machinery at the time you launched, with some unexpected results." Laughter bubbled, but he restrained it as best he could. "I take it you don't have a regular partner for such release?"