Chapter 5

The poker game wasn't going as Jackie had planned. She couldn't quite figure it out. Perhaps, she was just rusty and out of practice for she had not played poker since her father disappeared on the Acme sixty years ago. Yet, she always played with her father and they always worked together. Maybe that was the problem? Maybe she needed Fred to work with her? On the Olympic, Fred did not have a good grasp of the game. She had assumed he had and that was what led to the discovery.

But now she played alone and it seemed she needed that partner to play with her. Sam would not do and Fred did not have the ability to play cards yet. Fred and Jackie could win by cheating if they played together as a team.

Jackie knew how to count cards; she also knew to look for marked cards. And that ability alone told her that everyone at the table was cheating. She figured some must be working together in much the same manner she and her father would.

It was painfully obvious to Sam the Jackie was not doing too well on her own against a whole slew of cheaters. She winced every time her grandmother lost the hand. Fred sat and watched, intently trying to learn the game. He knew something was funny but not just how crooked the game was.

Andre also watched the crooked poker game play out. He knew Jackie was up against a whole bunch of cheaters and she easily should have won a few hands due her mathematical ability alone. He sat behind her, guarding her back with hands on his side arm for he feared the game would get violent.

Jackie found the marks on the cards. She figured out which ones were being marked by a small dimple on the corner of the card. Then found the deck had too many aces. The cheaters were even adding cards in the middle of the game.

When it was Jackie's turn to shuffle the deck she held the deck before her and looked upon the men, "This deck seems awful think to me."

One of the men shrugged, "Cause your hands are too puny."

"I think we should count the total number of cards," she told them and then she started to count them face down aloud so everyone could see as she started to expose the cheating. She figured there was no way she could out cheat them but exposing them would be to her benefit.

"Hmm, five cards too many," she looked about the table. "Bartender, can we have a fresh deck of cards."

The man shouted back, "Coming up." Apparently cheating was so rampant he didn't even have to ask why. A fresh deck of cards was promptly placed on the table before her. The bartender swiftly removed the spoiled deck.

Jackie exhaled shaking her head and then started to shuffle the new deck, "I suggest we each count the number of cards in this at each new dealer."

The men all stared at one another for adding cards to the deck was a favorite cheating method. They started to grumble amongst themselves.

"That will draw this game our forever," one man complained.

Another added, "And if you didn't shuffle like a little old lady, I would have my hand by now."

She retorted, "So you can switch it out with the cards you are hoarding in your pocket?"

"I'm not hoarding cards," he stated.

"Yes you are," she insisted.

"Am not!" He was over reacting to the accusation to the point he seemed to be hiding something.

She called him out, "Then empty your pockets."

"I'm not doing nothing," he grumbled.

Andre suggested, "We don't all the players empty their pockets so we can find out where the extra cards came from?"

"Why should we?" asked one player.

Jackie rolled her eyes in disgust, "What the hell, does everyone have an extra set of cards? And who is marking them with a dimple?"

The men all started to look at one another suspiciously.

Jackie paused in her dealings, "You guys didn't know someone was marking them? Dimple on corner. Very light but I could feel it and as you can see I am not wearing any rings or anything that could do that."

The men all started looking at one another's hands. One skinny man held one hand in his pocket.

"Let's see your hand, Gerald," stated the leader.

He slowly took his hand out and placed it on the table. There was no ring on the hand but one could see the tan line from the ring that was there previously.

Andre suggested, "I think we should just call this game and every man simply walks away with what they have."

The rugged leader didn't seem to agree, he simply went across the table after the skinny man with the ring mark. The fight broke out and the whole pub was soon engulfed in the fist fight of epic proportions.

Andre pulled Jackie to safety. Sam followed but Fred found himself in the middle of the fight. Jackie stood in the corner of the pub and watched as her father and uncle both got clobbered in fist fights once more. She winced with every blow.

Jackie mentioned to Sam, "I really need to teach him how to fight."

Andre suggested, "And how to play cards."

Later

Daniel and Percy made their way through the countryside towards the town that Fred said the legion unit was based out of. They hiked most of the night and then slept a few hours in a barn until day break. The first order was to find some civilian clothing for the jumpsuits they were given to wear on the ship were simply too advanced. The thermal material was not even invented yet. Upon donning clothing the found hanging on a line to dry and then the men made their way down the dirt road towards the town. They chatted to keep one another company.

"At least I don't have a broken ankle this time," stated Percy. "Last time I was in France sneaking around my plane was shot down behind enemy lines."

Daniel asked, "Really? Never knew that. How did ya get back?"

"Jackie can speak fluent French and German. Did you know the German's offered a job flying for them? She even had a German issued racing card."

Daniel laughed, "I know about the card. I saw on ebay that Nazi stuff is highly collectable. I wanted to sell that card and see what I could get for it. With Jackie being a semi-famous racer and that Nazi issued card, I bet I could get a few hundred at least."

"What is ebay again?" asked Percy.

"It's an auction house but on the computer," replied Daniel. "You got some stuff on there too. Though you're not as collectable as Jimmy Stuart, Judy Garland and James Dean..."

"I get it," he held up his hand. "I don't need to be collectable. I got Sam...My one and only fan."

"The reason Sam turned out so good is because Jackie raised her," stated Daniel. "Jackie did good raising Samantha all by herself. She's a test pilot and engineer. Career in the military and she never talks back to anyone. She's like a little angle that Jackie raised."

Percy asked, "You're not a tad biased because Sam is your granddaughter, now are you?"

"She's a lot like me," he proudly proclaimed. "Bet she would have made a good teacher."

"Sam would have gotten along well in our time," admitted Percy. "You heard the expression 'before your time?' Well, Sam as after her time. She likes the same music we like. Have you heard what they listen to nowadays?"

"'Nowadays' would be 1916, Percy," reminded Daniel.

"What exactly is a 'Lady Gaga?' It's very strange," he added.

Daniel shrugged, "I avoid that weird music. Jackie adores this British group, The Beatles. She said two of them are dead now but she liked John Lennon. Guess he was a singer or something. She also likes this one new gal, Adele?"

"Jackie likes classical music," added Percy. "And this horrid stuff called 'Country.'"

"No Glenn Miller," stated Daniel. "I heard that 'new country' stuff. That's just awful."

"I do believe I see a town up ahead," noted Percy.

"Thank god," stated Daniel. "My feet hurt."

"Mine too," agreed Percy.

Later

The next morning Jackie was chosen by to lead the first fighter squad of SPAD IV planes out for recon. The plane was a single seat bi-plane but very sturdy. What resembled an Indian head with wings flaring back painted on the fuselage for the legion's markings on the tail. And with no radio communication between pilots hand signals and plane maneuvers were used.

Jackie was suited up in the thick clothing and leather helmet and oversize leather gloves. Goggles and a scarf were her only real protection unlike the flak jacket and armored cockpits of the Second World War.

They roared into the sky, her father and her uncle both wingman and she was the leader. It started out as a nice morning flight over the beautiful countryside. The sun shined brilliantly and began to warm the whole area. It was peaceful just flying in an open cockpit as the sun's rays shined down upon them. For a short time Jackie forgot she was a middle of a war zone for there wasn't any sign of war.

Then off to the distance they spotted three more planes. The planes were German Fokker tri-wings and one of those planes was painted red. The Red Baron! Jackie was about to come face-to-face with one of the most famous fighter pilots of all time, Baron Manfred von Richtofen of the German air force.

She grew excited at first. The Baron! Being away from war for so long Jackie forgot once again that she was not a tourist. Her first thought was to get his autograph. Her second thought was that she would finally get to see the real battle between her father and Baron. Then her third thought suddenly brought her back to reality...That she was about engage the Red Baron in battle.

"Oh shit," she grumbled. "I need to fight him. Why do I suddenly fell like a beagle sitting on a red doghouse?" She gave a signal for her wingman to each take on the Baron's wingman and she would have to take on the Baron.

The planes engaged in battle and Jackie knew she could not kill her opponent for the Baron wasn't supposed die for a few more years. He would be killed in action but manage to land his plane before his death. He would be shot from the ground though credit given to another pilot.

Jackie's aim was to protect herself, her wingman and possibly disable the plane but not harm the Baron. She could not harm the Baron but at the same time she wondered if her skills were equal to his.

They flew in a deadly ballet for the Baron was more than willing to kill the opponent in war. He wondered just why this pilot seemed hesitant to fight him when Jackie had a good shot to kill him. He knew she did not take any kill shots. He figured it was a game to see who the better pilot is and the Red Baron was more than happy to play that game.

It was like a game of tag being played in the air as the two planes went about. The Baron in response did not try to kill her but rather play her game and only shoot for a disable shot.

Fred's opponent was disabled and he retreated while Don's opponent crashed due to pilot error, leaving the two men to assist Jackie against the menace. When the Baron realized he was outnumbered he broke off the game and retreated.

Fred went to follow him but Jackie gave a signal to not peruse. She gave the signal to return to base and Fred, disgusted from the breaking pursuit, grudgingly complied.

In Jackie's mind they did the right thing and her question was answered...The Baron was an equal to her for he understood the game she played. If she stayed much longer she would be forced to fight him and no doubt the Baron would not back down next time. With this fact fresh in her mind Jackie wished she was just a tourist once more.

Meanwhile

Daniel and Percy walked into the encampment looking for Sam and Jackie. They came across some men who were standing around in a circle. Peering into the area they discovered a wrestling match was underway.

Andre, stripped to the waist, was wrestling one of the recruits. It wasn't much of a match but rather an attempt for the men to entertain themselves. The pair looked on as Andre took the opponent down with much ease and won the match. Money soon exchanged hands as bets were paid.

The lieutenant noticed the new arrivals, he replaced his shirt as he spoke, "You're new here?"

Daniel corrected, "Actually, we're looking for some...Friends."

"I'm Lieutenant Andre Proulix. I'm in charge of the men here. Who are you looking for?"

"Jackie and Sam Roberts," stated Daniel.

Andre paused a moment and shifted his weight, "Is you're name 'Daniel?'"

He stuck out his hand, "Daniel Garrett. This is Percy Quill."

Andre made their acquaintance, "You're a lucky man. Sam told me about you. Graham is lucky to have you. Why have you come?"

Taken by the admission that Andre knew Jackie and Daniel were in a relationship Daniel gasped, "Uh, we're here to bring them back home."

"They signed a contract," stated Andre. "The Roberts Brothers are not going anyplace."

Daniel gave a strange looked. Roberts Brothers? But he knew Jackie was his lover. How come Andre still called them brothers? He just didn't seem to understand the whole situation.

Luckily Sam spotted them from a distance. She came running up to them from behind.

"Daniel, Percy," she called upon earshot. She wrapped her arms around the two men relived to see someone. "What are you two doing here?"

Daniel gave her an assuring embrace, "We're here to rescue you and Jackie. Where is Jackie?"

"On patrol with...You won't believe this. How did you even find us?"

Percy smiled, "Griff followed the vibrating string."

Her jaw dropped, "The whole ship?"

He confirmed, "Rendezvous in six days."

"That's extremely reckless," she informed. "The string might not hold."

"It's a risk we are willing to take," assured Daniel. "Jackie is on patrol?"

"She's flying patrol with Fred and Don," she informed. "You won't believe this."

"We were informed," replied Daniel trying not to go into details before Andre. "So, um...How is your...Brother?"

She laughed, "Biggest trouble maker I ever met."

"As always," inserted Percy.

Andre assured, "Lieutenant Roberts should be arriving back from patrol very soon." He looked upon Sam, "Will you and your brother be leaving us soon?"

Sam nodded, "In five days. I'm sorry but we need to go home with our family. We can't stay past that."

"We would hate to lose you," assured Andre.

"I'm gonna miss you so much, Andre," informed Sam. "My brother and I will do as much as we can while we are still here."

"I'll notify the captain of your impending departure," he gave a nod before excusing himself.

Daniel watched as Andre was just out of earshot, "What exactly was he told? He knew me and Jackie are together."

Sam started to laugh, "Gram is so good at this acting stuff she managed to have a gay man fall love in with her."

"What?" asked Daniel.

"Andre is openly gay and loves Gram too," she grinned. "Gram was rather distracted by him. Apparently he smells real good."

Percy held his finger to his lip as he crossed one arm, "Daniel, I do believe your wife could turn a gay man straight."

Sam countered, "I don't know about that. I feel sorry for Andre. He's being misled into thinking Gram is another gay man. He's a great guy…Handsome, caring, kind and yet pretty tough. He's smart too. Gram adores him. Matter of fact every time she looks at him she sighs and mutters 'Too bad he's gay.' If Andre was straight, you would have some serious competition, Daniel."

Percy countered, "If that man was straight he would have every woman in the country after him. Some of the finest actors I have ever worked with were gay and they were forced to hide the fact. Women fans practically threw themselves at them."

"True, Andre could have any woman he ever wanted," agreed Sam.

"Except Jackie," stated Daniel confidently.

Sam shook her head, "No, he could still probably have her. He's too honorable to steal her away from you." Sam let out a sigh, "Too bad he's gay. Andre is every woman's dream man."

Percy chuckled, "Every woman's dream and no woman can have."

Sam conceded, "Yeah...Really sucks."

"Careful on the words you choose," advised Percy. He looked upon Daniel, "So good chap...What are we to do for five days?"

Daniel shrugged, "Hang out here? Maybe get a temporary job for the week in exchange for room and board."

"That's an idea," stated Sam. "The captain is a real pain but always looking for help. Gram needs to teach Fred and Don hand-to-hand combat like they taught her. Apparently they don't know how to really fight yet."

"According to Fred he learned everything he knew from a man named Graham Roberts and his brother, Sam. I believe that would be you two," informed Daniel.

"So were in a self-fulfilling loop," suggested Sam. "Fred taught Jackie and Jackie taught Fred. We were meant to go back in time."

Percy informed, "We were told to be very careful what we do by Griff. Something about a paradox."

Sam grinned, "I just blew the paradox theory out the window. I'm developing a new string theory to explain all this. If I'm right then everything happens at once but is divided by speed and distance. Time as we know it as based on the speed of which we travel. Speed is the key to everything."

Like when we spent six months at light-speed and everything on earth went ahead for sixty years?" asked Daniel.

"Earth didn't change," she explained. "Time slowed down for you. Using the strings in space fabric we can bend time and arrive at any moment we choose. The problem is navigation. Strings theory is what makes the contortion drive work. Without the natural occurring particle strings in space fabric it would not work. Matter of fact space itself would disintegrate if all the strings were gone. It's what hold everything together and helps create the electrical plasmas we observe in space fabric. The universe is highly electric and the strings are conductive. When we manipulate them we must be very careful not to break or destroy them or we could do a lot of damage."

Percy and Daniel looked at one another and Percy stated, "I liked it better when the only physics I needed to worry about was flight."

"Me too," added Daniel. He looked at his granddaughter, "I have no clue what you just said."

She rolled her eyes, "You're as bad as Frank."

"Actually, Frank would probably get it," informed Daniel.