Chapter 02 Green Grow the Lilacs-O

"Well – I AM an American." Said Brent. "But…I'm also a mullato." He said looking down at himself.

"There were a LOT of issues that were bound up in the War of Texas Independence," he said, looking at the two alien, " and slavery was just one of them."

They stared at him with their enigmatic smiles. "Go on," prompted Gilmore.

"I've got to ask, Guys" said Brent, cocking his head, "Why are you doing this?"

Their grins got wider. "Very perceptive." Said Cloyd.

Gilmore looked at Cloyd. "I told you he was a good choice." He then looked back at Brent. "Please understand, Colonel – it is not that I am intentionally patronizing you, or trying to talk down to you – but – you – and your species - are somewhat limited in your perceptions of the Universe particularly in respect to time and space."

"Eh?" said Brent, cocking his head. "Perceptions of time-and-space?" he whispered. "So – you're telling me that you guys – your people – are able to step outside of space time – able to view all of the cosmos – anytime you want to?"

Cloyd was obviously surprised. "My goodness, Colonel." He said. "So…you do understand the concept of travelling in time and multiple timelines?"

"Somewhat." Rasped Brent. "I mean, OK, we're not talking about some kind of computer simulation, like "the matrix" or anything? You guys are proposing to send me somewhere where I will actually change the course of human events – or at least, have the chance of changing human events."

"Quite right." Said Cloyd.

"And…no Grandfather paradox." Brent grimly continued… "I don't vanish like a soap bubble because the events that caused my birth…no longer happen?"

"Oh, no" said Gilmore. "We'll put you in a completely separate timeline – identical to the one you know – the point of bifurcation will be your arrival, and what you do there…that is how we will know and measure the effect of your efforts."

"Ah, I get it." Brent's expression lightened. "So you guys are the equivalent of University Professors, and I am the proverbial "laboratory rat" in the experiment?" he grinned. "Are there other – ahem – "experimental subjects"? – Will I be able to meet them? – Or Will that contaminate the experiment?"

"Ahem." Said Cloyd, eying Brent with something close to alarm. "Colonel, I believe you are somewhat smarter than I initially assumed you to be – actually, smarter than I assumed it was possible for you to be." He looked at Gilmore, then back at Brent, "Could you perhaps, make a list of equipment and supplies you would like to take with you on your expedition…we will be back in a bit. I need to confer with my colleague."

Brent laughed at the worried look on the two alien faces. "Sure, sure, you two hold all the cards…Just – how much can I take again?"

Gilmore handed him a sheet of paper with instructions. "You can build your equipment list from that."

"Roger, Wilco." Said Brent, with a wave of his hand in the general area of his temple. The two aliens blinked out.

A grey metal seven drawer desk, of the sort to be found in US government installations, blinked into existence, along with a chair. Brent walked over, and found the center drawer stocked with several types of writing paper, pens and pencils.

Another table blinked into existence, and, a second later, a tray of food. Brent rolled over and found that he had been provided with a roast Beef on Kummelweck sandwich, with a large order of French Fries, and a large Birch Beer…his usual lunch. He had not eaten like this in a long time – but he found that with this healthier body, it appeared he had a healthier appetite.

He polished it off easily, and discovered that the mug of Birch Beer appeared to be somehow keeping itself cold, and refilling itself.

"Nice" he said…he had wondered about the alien promise of a "never-ending supply of ammunition" for his weapon….but…apparently, that might not be much of a problem for these guys, either.

/||\

Brent first outlined what he knew about the Texas Revolution – it would be nice if these aliens would help him out – he had the feeling they could probably look at anything they wanted, not just what the historians had written…but he had gotten the distinct impression that he probably needed to ask the right questions.

Then, he started working out what he would need. The list was "one rifle, one pistol, knives or swords as decided by the observers. Total Equipment load not to exceed 100 pounds"

The – room – he was in, seemed to be a large place. Completely white, it was hard to judge dimensions…it seemed to be ovoid, and if there was a ceiling, it was higher than he could throw a pencil…while the short axis of the ellipse seemed to be 50 feet across, the long end? – well, he walked until he could barely make out the desk in the distance – a mile on his pace count, which seemed preposterous, but…there it was. He counted his paces on the way back, and it was the same – and no end in sight.

/|\

Cloyd and Gilmore popped back in as Brent was considering his options.

"Colonel!" grinned Gilmore. "What did you decide on?"

He handed them his list. "I'm thinking the M60E4 in the Mark 43/Mod1 with the rail system, aiming laser and the holographic scope – along with the standard M80/M62 belts and M993 AP." He shook his head, "and the three barrels – does the magic extend to making sure the barrels never wear out?"

"Interesting choice, Colonel." Said Cloyd. "Seems like a lot of fire power – and yes, the barrels will never wear out…they will over heat, but they will also self repair…Just don't lose them." He shook his head. "You'll need to clean the weapon, too…the magic does not extend to carbon fouling…lost parts…or parts broken while the weapon is disassembled – will not be replaced."

"Don't worry." Grinned Brent. "I've been carrying the Hog for a long time – since back when I was a green-as-grass private on my first tour of the Nam."

"And your pistol –" Gilmore laughed. "A 1911A1…somehow, I expected that."

"Simple weapon, easy to maintain" grinned Brent, "large caliber round. Would be nice if you guys could get my personal one, with the customized Pachmyr grips" he said, "but a straight-off-the-armorer's rack pistol would do just fine."

"No Problem." Smiled Cloyd. "I see you were were pretty thorough on the rest of your equipment list."

"I'm a firm believer in the "Six-P" School of management thought." Smiled Brent. "Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance."

"Hmm…the new Army Digi-cam ACU – two sets?" said Cloyd. "You realize you will look pretty outlandish?'

Brent smiled. "That's the point." He looked at the two aliens. "You realize, I HAVE done similar things before – not traveled in time, mind you, but gone to places that were, technologically, not any further advanced – or much further advanced – that San Antonio de Bexar or Coahuila y Tejas in 1836."

"I figure, I come walking out of the scrub, looking like some mulatto with a strange-ass story and some funny weapons, I'll be in problems." He grinned at the aliens. "But – give me a K-pot, Class III ballistic vest, ballistic protected Oakley glasses, the whole nine yards – I will look so utterly strange that they will have to sit up and take notice…and once I have their attention, then we can talk."

Cloyd looked at the list. "OK, with all this on the list, you have exceeded the weight limit – but some of it, you won't need."

"Eh?" said Brent.

"The four canteens – yes, I know it is hot there, but, we will give you one that will refill with cool clean water, every time you touch it."

"Damn." Swore Brent appreciatively. "I can think of a few times in the past when I could have used that."

"And – food – same thing – the inside left pouch of your rucksack – every time you reach into it, there will be an MRE – random variety."

"Mixed blessing, there" chuckled Brent, "but better than going hungry. Just none of those Vegetarian or Refugee meals, OK?"

Gilmore chuckled. "Fair enough."

"and – money-" continued Gilmore – "a never-empty purse- within limits – a $20 Gold piece every month, and enough local coins for "walking-around" money. You should be able to buy a decent horse and tack as soon as you get there, Colonel."

Gilmore cocked his head. "I assume you CAN ride a horse?"

"Not really well," grimaced Brent, "But I know the basics."

"So, when and where do you want us to put you?" Said Cloyd.

"Good question." Smiled Brent. "I'm a little weak on my dates – I know it was in 1836, and it was spring…there was a popular song about it, the refrain was something like "Green grow the lilacs, O" – that was so popular with the Americans of the time, that the Mexican term for "American" is "Gringo"

"Good," said Cloyd. "Anything else?"

"Well, we studied at the Unconventional Warfare School, a lot." Said Brent, spreading his hands. "Take out the emotion, and it's a classic example of what NOT to do in a revolution."

"Really?" said Gilmore. "Please, Colonel, go on."

Brent looked suspiciously at the alien. "You're making fun of me."

"No," said Cloyd, "We are analyzing you, analyzing your people – analyzing your understanding of what happened…we can look at the reality of what happened – but in another sense, the TRUE reality is in how you perceive it."

"Ah." Said Brent. "Well, The Mexican Revolution left Mexico dead flat broke – and then a bunch of corrupt politicians began a tradition of thievery – well, hell, hate to say it, but a tradition of corruption and short-sighted stupidity that has continued to this day."

"Ok." Said Cloyd.

"Tejas was sparsely populated, but the folks in Mexico City could see the Potential – but instead of getting Mexican Settlers, they let Americans in – by 1835, there were something like 30,000 American immigrants and only 5000 Mexicans in the state – and 5000 of those Americans were slaves, brought in to work Cotton fields in East Texas."

"Slavery was illegal in Mexico, under the Constitution of 1824, and it was what we'd call a "hot-button" issue in the rest of Mexico. So when these "illegal immigrants" – Americans who had promised to obey the Laws when they moved, and then immediately blatantly broke the Law – told the Governor to shut up, the Mexican Army came up to shut them down."

He sat back in his chair and laughed. "I've always found Americans who complain about illegal Mexican immigrants – especially Texans - hypocritical. The ones who say – "they are going to come here with their customs and language and steal our way of life" – I just say, "Ask a Texan about that."

"You sound as though you do not approve of what happened." Said Cloyd.

"Well…" said Brent. "Mexico was, at that point, a kleptocracy. For so much of its history, it has been on the edge of being a "failed state". He sighed. "It is a shame, because it has so much potential…but…many of the Mexicans in Texas stood with the Americans, for Texas Independence…it was only after that, in the generations that followed, that things went…wrong."

He looked at the two aliens. "Point is, if I only had a few days, I would not even bother going. Actually, changing the outcome at the Alamo, defeating Santa Ana's Army at the Alamo – might mean an eventual defeat for Texas Independence."

The two aliens looked puzzled. "How so?"

"If you look at the history," said Brent, "These "Texians" – as they called themselves – seem like overly arrogant crazies…I mean, I'm totally expecting to run into a white man's version of the Northern Alliance or something – Tajiks or Uzbeks – with horses and Kentucky long rifles, instead of camels and Ak-47s." he grimaced – "The Alamo massacre, and the lesser known Golidad Massacre – taught them a bit of caution."

"So…" drawled Cloyd, with a measured look, "what exactly do you plan to do, Colonel?"

Comments, questions, should I keep going? – or cease and desist?