CHAPTER 1 The Pards Attend a "Mega-Event" -- Are Caught In A Time-Space Continuum -- Meet Princess Dye and Real Confederates -- Escape Back to Their Own Time.

By Mal Stylo - Illustrated by Paul Rogers

Private Macey N. Gimbels, of the Thirty Third Regiment of Infantry, Maryland Veteran Volunteers, Inc. gazed longingly in the direction of the Steak-in-a-Sack and lemonade stands, some half a mile away. Around him milled thousands of other totally purriod reenactors. Their enthusiasm, like their bodies, had been somewhat dampened by the 95 degree heat which had caused the cancellation of the tactical associated with the fourth-and-a- half anniversary reenactment of the reenactment of the Battle of First Bull Run. Nevertheless, musicians dutifully played "Ol Dan Tucker," officers strutted, and a woman walked around in her underwear (totally purriod, of course).

Pvt. Gimbels and his pard, perennial Private Les Stark, were busy keeping a low profile since only moments before Sergeant Pill Drilsome had scampered brightly through the camp announcing that the Fashionable Regiment, to which the seriously understrength Gallant Old Thirty Third was attached, would defy nature (and logic) and proceed with Battalion Drill. "Put on your traps," he called, in totally purriod fashion, "Got to keep the fighting edge on, never know what them pesky rebels may be up to!" With great effort, Pvt. Gimbels shifted his wistful gaze to the direction of the rebel camp. The only signs of activity among a sea of tents that would have done the Golden Horde of Genghis Khan proud, were dozens of totally purriod women cooking tons of not so totally purriod food. The strains of some song, to the effect of "tell Neil Young Southron man doan need him a-round" were projected by an eight track tape player in a pickup truck that was carefully hidden in the reproduction of Robert E. Lee's command tent, and floated over the totally purriod Mongol, er, Confederate camp. Pvt. Gimbels concluded the pesky rebels were up to nothing.

"Les," he said to his somnolent pard, "let's get a Steak-in-a-Sack and a Coke. We'd better put our gear on though, lest anyone think we're trying to avoid Battalion Drill. Also, Sgt. Drilsome suspects the pesky rebels are up to something."

"... Sweet home Alabama!"

Far above these stalwart defenders of Union and Freedom, Grand Admiral Krazihertopmuekpputers of the Noozebanian Republic Star Armada gave the order to lock the fleet's Ion Covalence- Bonder Disrupter Guns on the home planet of the rebel forces (yeah, they got 'um in Space, too), Duhbronks, fighting against the Republic. Behind him was the banner of the Noozebanian Republic, a silk-like flag with a red, white and blue crest, supplanted with the initials "NR" in amazingly earth-like gilt letters.

The Admiral turned to his rebel captive, a really stacked humanoid princess whose somewhat scanty costume (the whole thing wouldn't have furnished the bottom of a string bikini) suggested she had been vacationing on the beach at Rio De Janeiro when she was captured. "Now Princess, watch the rebellion die!," he snarled. "Kowabunga! (Fire!)"

The resultant effect on the planet Duhbronks (populated by a peaceful, intelligent, and humane race of civilized human beings) is irrelevant to this story and frankly boring unless one is interested in the graphic details of the insides of a person exploding and colliding with their own outsides as they implode, and the two meeting at a combined speed of 186,342 miles per hour. What is relevant is that the Ion Covalence-Bonder Disrupter Gun's blast passed within 100,000,000,000 kilometers of earth. As it did, it created a time portal (exactly 129 and a half years in depth) directly between the Federal camp and the Steak-in-a-Sack stand, and squarely in the path of Pvts. Gimbels and Stark.

Simultaneously, the Princess, whose bonds had soaked up the gallon of suntan oil coating her really great bod, slipped loose and made a break for the Zonal Inertia Nuclear Geographical Exchange Rectifier (ZINGER) Compartment of the Noozebanian Flagship. A quick karate chop caught the ZINGER chief in mid wolf-whistle.

Quickly, the princess ZINGER'ed herself into space. Unfortunately she didn't have time to properly adjust the ZINGER settings and she landed - you guessed it - 6 inches in front of a more than mildly interested pair of Union privates, who couldn't stop fast enough to avoid a collision. Private Gimbels made impact with the Princess first (it was a collision Pvt. Gimbels would regard as a near-religious experience for the rest of his life) and all three plunged into the time portal and back exactly 129 and a half years in time to Manassas, VA, July 21, 1861.

Some distance away, another member of the Thirty-third saw the Princess materialize, quickly ascertained what she was (or rather wasn't) wearing, stopped in the middle of a completely fatuous brown nosing of the unit's Captain, and ran frantically for the spot. He dug desperately at the now empty materialization site (our heroes and the babe having zoomed off to 1861) and finally had to be tranquilized by some of the many Paramedics who are always in attendance at a mega-event. Oddly enough, the video-crew unknowingly caught a full frontal shot of the Princess which with the parent company's usual superior editing (which leads one to believe they just shoot it, they don't watch it) made it into the "Making of..." segment of the video. Hassock Visages, Inc., the video-meisters, never could figure out why a tape of so completely rotten an event should be their biggest seller.

As the trio began to disentangle, rise, and dust themselves off, the Princess spoke first, "Who the @#$#%*& is youse guys?!" she demurely inquired. The thunderstruck Pvt. Gimbels merely continued to gape at the portion of the Princess's anatomy between her shoulders and navel. Pvt. Stark, who hadn't gotten a really clear picture yet and thought he and his follow Marylander had collided with some bimbo doing yet another new form of civilian impression, replied "Looking for the Confederate Camp, are we?" Pvt. Stark had no sooner made his droll reply than a voice called out from behind our heroes, "Y'all hold it rat thar, Yanks!"

Turning disgustedly about, Pvt. Stark and a somewhat now more aware Pvt. Gimbels turned to find themselves facing six Confederates (unknown to the boys, they were real ones!), looking back at them and apparently not at all amused. The Princess wisely decided to stand firmly behind the two defenders of Union until her first question, "Who the @#$#%*& is youse guys?!" and the second which had now formed, "What the @#$#%*& is going on?!" were answered satisfactorily. (Besides, she'd always been a pushover for a blue uniform.)

Again speaking first, Pvt. Stark said "Take a hike, Bozos!" His companion, who had decided to take the "Hey, we're all Americans!" approach quickly added, "We don't feel like playing guys, we're going to get some..." Pvt. Gimbels's reply was cut short by the report of two Confederate muskets. One projectile missed our heroes completely, the other put a neat hole in Pvt. Gimbels's $70 stainless steel canteen.

The other four real Confederates would have finished off our disbelieving heroes if the Princess had not stepped between them and commanded, "Lowah yer weapons youse Bozos!" It was the sight of her cute face, flaxen hair, scanty royal garb and centerfold figure that caused her order to be obeyed, rather than her imperious tone. In fact, the manner in which the order was executed allowed the trio to escape: while four rebels simply gaped and let go of the muzzles of their weapons, two of them continued to tightly clutch the triggers and shot each other in the feet. While the wounded rebels began a reasonable approximation of a Zuni rain dance the other four simply feasted their eyes on the royal presence, powerless to act or move. One, with greater presence of mind than the others, simply muttered "Hot Damn!"

Exiting the area of the encounter post-haste, the trio stepped gingerly around the cow pies that dotted the field and sought egress from the "battle" down a woodland path. Only when they were sure pursuit had not been taken up did they stop to regain their breath. (The Confederates turned in a report of the encounter in which they stated the six of them had clashed with a reinforced Union regiment supported by artillery. They acknowledged their two casualties, but claimed 27 killed and 67 wounded Yankees in return. They did not mention the princess. Their report was duly incorporated into the "Official Records of the War of the Rebellion." One hundred twenty-nine and a half years in the future, when developers were trying to erect an office park on the site, reenactors successfully blocked its construction citing the significance of the "Battle of Cow Pie Flats" to American history. Ironically, one of the arguments they used successfully was the same one which had so dismally failed Pvt. Gimbels: "Hey - we're all Americans now.")

"What the @#$#%*& is going on?" bellowed Pvt. Stark. "Didn't those guys see my article on safety in the MUP (Maryland Union Patriot)? The sponsors of this fiasco are gonna get a letter from me about that gross safety violation, bet on it!!" Gasping, the Princess said, "So you too have Dweebs on yer planet, but you call them Bozos?" "Huh?" Pvt. Gimbels and his pard replied. "Dweebs," she said again, "like dat group that accosted us: subhumans bred for menial labor, whose intelligence is kept purposely low, and who are kept amused by unlimited procreation and intoxicating beverages; Dweebs!" "Oh yeah, we've got those" replied Gimbels, "but here we call them Confederates or Democrats." "By the way, I don't believe I caught your name," he added. "Princess Dye" the comely lass replied imperiously, "Whazzit to ya?"

Pvt. Gimbels - looking sadly at his now empty and quite useless $70 stainless steel canteen - reflected on what else might have been made useless had that bullet passed just 8 inches to the right of where it did, and suddenly asked "Have you noticed the concession stands, background music, and RV and cannon parking lot have vanished?" At this point, they noticed another somewhat anomalous situation: a corpse, dressed in Union uniform (minus its head) reposed about 15 feet behind them. "Grrroooooooooossssssssssssss!" shrieked the Princess, "Jeeeeeezzzz!" said Pvt. Stark, "ROOLLLLFFFFFFFFF!" went Pvt. Gimbels. In his doubled-over position, Pvt. Gimbels also noticed a newspaper whose headline fairly shrieked:


Armies Meet in Battle That is Sure to Be Reenacted 125 Years From Now!

Grabbing the paper, Private Gimbels frantically scanned the pristine example of the cornerstone of Democracy for signs it was a reprint. He read "Dear Abby," advising a young woman that now that she was in a "family way" she must refrain from being seen in public; he saw an advertisement for a new hamburger chain that proclaimed "over 100 sold" and concluded that the newspaper was all too totally-purriod and completely genuine. Panic seized the two as the truth of their situation struck them like the report of a two-hundred grain cartridge fired from the rear rank. "We can't stay here," said Gimbels, "I got a report due at work, Monday!" "Well," observed his pard reflectively, "now you've got 129 and a half years to finish it!"

"Wait a minute youse guys," said Princess Dye, "Youse mean youse jerks is from a future time?" "Yes," muttered the disconsolate pair, "that's about the size of it." Having nothing better to do, the trio then engaged in conversion about the future in which Princess Dye was told all about reenacting, the antique business, how lots of gold meant one was rich (threads of which her royal garb was woven, making her wish the clothing of a Princess Royale of Noozebain was more extensive), and the best news of all, that the Confederates had lost the war (The REAL one anyway). "Well, gettin' back is no problem," said Her Highness as she rifled the pockets of the corpse (which closer examination revealed to be a high ranking officer), removing a hefty little bag of double eagles, his sword, watch, Tactics Manuals, and anything else she thought might turn a buck.

"Arise and stand close to me." The boys eagerly obeyed. "Now, we must touch," she said. "My HAND I meant, youse jerk!" she further explained to the somewhat over-eager Private Gimbels. When the circle had formed, the Princess clicked her ruby slippers (which the boys hadn't noticed before) and intoned a magic Noozebanian chant: "Erethay is onay aceplay ikelay omehay!" She repeated this a total of three times and suddenly they were all standing on the edge of the site of the reenactment, in their own time. The official reenactment ballad and howls of "Yeeeeeeeehhhaaaaa!" filled the air.

"Well, see yez guys around!" she said, slipping on the Union officer's frock coat she had picked up before they left 129 and a half years ago, and bundling up a load of booty she had gathered in a poncho. "This looks like a hick planet but it sure beats exploding from the inside and colliding with your own outsides as they implode, and the two meeting at a combined speed of 186,342 miles per hour." The boys bid her adieu, promised to "keep in touch!" and then pulled some rumpled currency from their pockets and trudged off toward the Coke stand.

Later, Private Gimbels, while reading an interview with a noted physicist in "Plaything Magazine," saw the Princess had become "Plaything of the Year" and was posed demurely in an original Civil War kepi and sash and had signed a multi-million dollar movie contract. Her Plaything data sheet said her turn-offs were "Dweebs and yelling." Turn-ons were "Money and collecting antiques." He had an inkling that she would be okay; he also had a feeling that he and his pard hadn't seen the last of Princess Dye (but they certainly had seen just about all of her).