Chapter 1: Fly Me To The Moon Disorientation is my usual reaction when another leap starts, but this one started with sheer terror. Growing up in the sixties and being so fascinated with physics,the American race for the moon was my second greatest love. Shepard, Glenn, White, Lovell, Borman, Grissom, Chaffee, Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins and Benson were names that left inedible impressions on my heart and soul. It was the excitement and danger they felt in the deepest reaches of space that inspired me to reach into deepest reaches and mysteries of time and quantum physics. Leaping around I found it could be as dangerous to me and to those who lost their lives trying to expand the boundaries of human exploration beyond this frail blue warm watery biosphere. Now I found myself intimately involved in the very thing I so envied when I was a child. Instead of the childish delight I might have had, all I could do was let outa silent scream as I flew through the atmosphere. Quickly it became very apparent to me that this must have been the start of the Apollo 18 flight to the moon. The spacecraft and spacesuit I was wearing matched the equipment I had put to memory at an early age. I was sitting on top of the most powerful rocket of it's day, the Saturn 5 giving us a seven and one half million pound thrust kick into orbit. Luckily they did not seem to need the participation of the Lunar Module pilot at this point. That was the couch I was sitting in to the right of the mission commander. I could hear the various readouts of altitude as we got higher and higher. I did not know what G force we were under, but I gladly laid back in my form fitting seat while experiencing several times my normal weight. The first stage noise was not as bad as the vibration that it produced. Then the engine must have shut down for the vibration ceased. "Roger cap com. Confirm first stage shutdown," said one of my fellow travelers. Then a noise and vibration came from in front of us. The sun shone in my newly uncovered window. I could see the blackness of space above and the cool blue of the earth below. The stars were so clear, bright and beautiful, but nothing could match the blue hues of that thin layer of atmosphere and water that we call home. "Cap com, confirming release of the escape tower and shroud. We're on our own now," reported eighteen. The extra kick of the second stage sent us even higher. I just went along for the ride as we road our second stage followed by our third stage. The roar ceased and then there was silence. No G forces. No vibration. No apparent motion. "Cap com. S-IVB stage completely shut down. Parking orbit achieved," said my companion next to me. "Enterprise, Houston. Confirm 118 by 122 orbit. Orbital velocity is 18,432 miles per hour. Good shooting gentleman," said the Houston cap com. "Roger, Houston, eighteen. Thanks for ride. Calavicci out," said the mission commander. "Al?" asked Sam very confused. "That was one great jolt wasn't it? Just like being shot off a carrier, but it goes on forever! Hoo-yah!!!" said a much younger version of Al. Whoosh! "That's right Sam. You and me are heading to the moon!" said Sam's best friend and project observer Al as he poked his head into the capsule. "You've leaped into the beginning of my Apollo 18 flight. And 'Oh Boy' do we have our work cut out for us," said Al the observer. "Boy, Al that's great it really makes us know WHY WE ARE HERE!" said Sam. "For country, for exploration AND for the fun of it, Ron," said the younger Al. "Oh, that's good Sam. You can't talk to me directly since everything you say goes straight to Mission Control. You are Lt. Commander Ronald "Firefly" Brook, the Lunar Module pilot. You are 36 years old and today's date is April the 14th, 1973. My guess is you're here to save our Command Module pilot Lt. Commander Joseph Benson. He was ..uh.. killed during an EVA on the way home," said Al quietly. "You are correct, Admiral Calavicci," said Ziggy through his hand link. "There is a 98% probability of that scenario." "Thanks, Ziggy. I was hoping that was the reason. Especially since it was my fault!" said Al. Sam looked concerned at his friend. "Well the good news is that these flights are the most documented trips of exploration in the history of man. We can get every single file on this flight flown here from Houston so we can help you out," explained Al still nervous. Sam doodled on the control panel "Z-I-G-G-Y?" "Well, she has tetra quads of general information, but you are going to have to retrace every single thing Firefly did and said down to the second. Or none of us may come back. We should have all the data flown up from NASA within 36 hours. You have three days till you reach LOI. Ah, lunar orbit insertion. Most of this leap I should be able to do off he top of my head without Ziggy," explained Al a little happier. "Admiral. Should I should down for the remainder of this leap?" said Ziggy over the hand link. "NO, Ziggy! There is still basic information that I can remember. I was the mission commander of Apollo 18 LONG before you were even activated. Ziggy, I'll feed the information to Dr. Beckett and you keep monitoring any changes in history," said Al trying to sooth her gigantic ego. "Understood, Admiral. Forty-five minutes until the SIVB stage is reignited," said Ziggy. "Sit back Sam and enjoy the ride to moon in the most complicated piece of engineering ever made by man," said Al proudly. Al passed through the side of the capsule, punched a few buttons on the hand link and slowly floated to a sitting position on the top of the command module. He was looking at the earth below and the stars above. "This is the way to fly in space. Nothing between you and the stars. It feels like riding down the San Diego Freeway in my Vette with the top down. Moon above me and the ocean to my left. Of course now it's thousands of miles below me and the sky is as black as... God, as that isolation cell I was in at the Hanoi Hilton. I truly miss this serenity of space. To our time leaping travel agent, I thank you," said Al as he blew smoke into the darkness. Quantum leaping had opened me to many new experiences and situations, but nothing compared to watching the earth pass beneath me through the window from the Enterprise. I watched with the same excitement and same wonder I had when I was young watching the astronauts orbit the earth and eventually heading to the moon. The blue water, the white clouds, the translucent thin layer of atmosphere never were so vivid and so colorful. Photographs never show the true beauty of our earth from space. While early explorers risked their lives crossing the Atlantic for weeks, I was watching it pass beneath me in a matter of minutes. God it was glorious! But was I up to the task ahead of me with no training and no pilot experience? I was lucky to survive being Tom Stratton and flying the X-3 because I could eject from the rocket plane. In space, there was nowhere to go. I could take a little comfort from flying with my old friend Al, but he didn't know who I was. They made it back originally and I had faith in him and in a greater being to get me through this leap. "Oh Sam. They are going to fire the S IV B stage again. You'll feel about a five G kick for a couple of minutes. Then it's coasting all the way to the moon. Piece of cake. Your fun will be flying the lunar module. Landing is no problem. The younger me will be at the controls. You just need to give him the readouts. I can help you with that. Then you'll also have to perform the moon walk, which should be a walk in the park. Moon Park that is. Re-docking will be a bitch, but Ziggy has some ideas to help you out. You WILL be piloting the Lunar Module at that point. So sit down and enjoy the ride. Any questions?" asked Al twirling his cigar. Sam just looked at him with a dirty expression since he couldn't answer him. "Hey, don't worry Sam. We're going to set up a whole network of people to review the transcripts, and data to keep you informed. You will be able to speak all the words that were originally said. And then before we get to the reason for your leap, we should have everything ready. The only bad thing is that Ziggy says that you must wait until you get back to earth before you leap. That's why you leaped in before Apollo 18 even lifted off. Don't forget. You're Command Module is code named Enterprise and your Lunar Module is called Constellation. Both good Navy names. You see we were all naval officers. This was the big naval Apollo flight as oppose to Apollo 15 that was all Air Force. Anchors aweigh!" explained Al jokingly "Hey, Ron. Hand me the trans-lunar orbit check list," asked Commander Calavicci. "Lower door on the right. It looks like a baby's first book with big stiff plastic coated pages. It says trans-lunar orbit check list," said Al touching the door with his stogie. Sam found it easily and handed it to the mission commander. "Thanks, Firefly," he replied. Sam noticed him busily playing with a small dowel about six inches in length. He twirled it and tapped everything in the capsule with it. Sam pointed and looked at Al with for an answer. "You don't think they let us smoke here do you? That's a 100% oxygen atmosphere. One little spark and poof, no more Command Module. Remember the Apollo 1 fire? I needed something to get me through months without my cigars. So I played with sticks. Childish, but effective," said Al now playing with his cigar in a similar fashion. Sam looked at his friend understanding his need and his obsession. "Still a little nervous, Al?" asked Sam to the younger Al pointing to the play stick. "No, naw. Just a little tick. Beth wishes I did it all the time so I would give them up for good. She said that the house only smells good when I'm either out on sea duty or in the middle of a space flight. It's about the only thing I can't really give up for her. But she takes it in stride. Wonderful woman! Coming up on S IV B restart. Brace yourself guys," said the younger Al. "Eighteen, Houston. You are go for trans-lunar insertion," said the cap com. "Roger, Houston. Keep the coffee warm. We'll be back in two weeks!" said the younger Al. Everything that had been floating in the capsule suddenly flew toward us. This force was not as bad as lift-off, but the change from weightlessness to five G's was hard on the metabolism. "Uff!" Sam exclaimed feeling the acceleration hit him. "Enterprise's speed is 19,500 and climbing," reported the Command Module pilot. After five minutes the booster shut down and we were coasting again. "Houston, Enterprise's speed in 24,120 miles per hour," reported the younger Al. "Roger, copy. Eighteen is on it's way," replied the cap com. "Gentlemen," said the younger Al, "Next stop is the Aristarchus Crater." "Coffee and donuts will be served in the club car," said Al the observer. "Coffee and donuts will be served in the club car," said Al the younger. "I hated that line. Tomorrow's paper had that line splashed across the headlines from coast to coast. The PR boys always wanted cute things for the press to write about. We were having trouble keeping the public interest that late in the Apollo program. I never really fit in the white bread image that NASA wanted for all the astronauts, but I played along so I could get flights like this. It did get me to the moon," said Al puffing proudly on his cigar. Sam smiled at his friend as Apollo 18 headed out from the earth toward its lunar destination.