Author : Michael “Freeman” Herbaugh
â€œThis skull has been carbon dated at being 3 million years old. Yet, clearly it is the skull of a 20th century homo-sapiens. Youâ€™ve been trained for the last five years because of the discovery of THIS skull.â€
Cartwright listened to the director of The Program as he spoke solemnly. The skull had indeed been found five years later at an archeological site in Brazil. It took quite a bit of doing but the US government had managed to keep it relatively quiet. Because of the skull, they learned that time travel was indeed possible, at least into the past. Someone had done it, though it cost his or her life. The US was determined to be the ones to discover the secret and launched â€œThe Programâ€.
Assembled here was Cartwrightâ€™s team, being let in for the first time on the biggest secret known to man. They had known they were being trained for a trip that was far from ordinary but had no idea until today just how far they would have to go. The three women and two men would be the first to use the monstrous time machine that had been assembled to send them back three million years.
As the director finished explaining the discovery and motivation of the US government to the team, Cartwright could see the shock and realization come over their faces. By the time the briefing was done, he would swear Summerâ€™s face had an expression of pure joy on it, juxtaposed with Leonâ€™s look of solemn fear.
â€œThatâ€™s all, people,â€ finished the director. â€œYou launch in 48 hours. Cartwright, as team leader I need you to stay behind for a final briefing. The rest of you dismissed. Enjoy your day of leave, then back here.â€
As Cartwright settled into a chair opposite the directorâ€™s desk, the director’s tone changed, becoming soft. â€œThere is one last objective for this mission, which is why a soldier like you was chosen to lead it,â€ he said. â€œThis is not easy to say nor will it be easy for you to carry out. The scientists studying the skull have finally matched dental records as of last year. The teamâ€™s botanist, Gloria Hartigan–this skull is hers.â€
The director took a pistol from his desk. â€œMake sure she doesnâ€™t come back.â€