___In the control room, uniformed crewman performed their tasks at control stations as a huge metal disc displayed a beautiful Earth-like planet.
___"I wish I could get rid of this cat on my shoulders." Burt thought to himself.
___"Ah." A man standing at the far end said upon seeing them. "The first of our cryonauts. I trust he's in good health, Doctor?"
___He strode across the control room, the velcro on his boots making a soft ripping sound as he offered his hand to Burt. "Welcome to the 21st Century. I am Commander Symes, leader of this expedition."
___"Great." Burt said as he shook the proferred hand. "Don't think I'm not grateful for being alive, but what am I doing here?"
___"Why you're our ace in the hole."
___"In accordance with Maycroft's Theory of Ambiguity, your presence here will help insure the success of our mission." The Commander looked at Burt's confused look. "Oh. I'm sorry. Maycroft's theories weren't published until, what twenty years after your death. You wouldn't be familiar with them at all."
___"No, I'm not."
___"Well, without going into the statistics and mathematics of it, Maycroft's basic thesis states that, in the face of unknown dangers and situations, a variety of skills and experiences will increase the chances of a positive resolution.
___"Oh. THAT Maycroft's Theory." Burt said dryly.
___"And what could be more varied than having a team of personnel who's skills and experiences reach out even beyond the current century?"
___"Great. Terrific. Do you mind telling me what this expeditionary force is all about and what that comment was about the 'unknown dangers?'"
___"Our mission," the Commander said as he pointed at the huge plate, "is to colonize this planet: Haven." The Commander walked about the control room, thinking out loud. "You are aboard a Daedelus-Class colonizer ship, the Destiny."
___The next "day" came, and right on schedule five people were waiting for Burt when he arrived at the briefing room. None of them seemed any more happy than he was.
___"What is going on here?" Demanded a young dark-haired lady. "Are you Tempelhof? They said Tempelhof would be in charge of us and would explain everything."
___"Thank you very much, Commander." Burt thought to himself. "Yes, I'm Tempelhof. I'll tell you what I can, but keep in mind I just got here myself."
___He joined them at the table. "We probably ought to start by introducing ourselves, since we're going to be working together. I'm Burt, and I used to be a history professor before I 'assumed room temperature' in 1992. They've made me the team leader because of my experiences in World War II and the Korean War."
___The African-American on Burt's right spoke up next. "I'm Will Rutland, and I used to be a real estate broker. I died in 1979 from complications during surgery."
___The pouty dark-haired girl was next. "My name is Christie Gordon, and I still don't understand what I'm doing here! All I remember is dropping some acid in my apartment in 1968..."
___"We'll talk about all that in a moment." Burt said, cutting her off, and pointing to the next person.
___"I'm Mrs. Helen Cohen, and I was a high school chemistry teacher before the accident."
___"What accident?" Will asked.
___"The accident that apparently filled a whole wing of the school with poison gas. That was in 2005. It seems that I was the only one hurt." The redhead said, marveling at her hands for the third time since Burt came in.
___"Great." Burt thought to himself. "Just what I need: a disaster waiting to happen."
___"I'm Kelly Green, my name, not my complexion." The next person said, laughing at his own joke.
___"What happened to you?" Asked Will.
___Kelly had a distinct Texas accent. "Well, it seems I was seein' the wrong man's wife on the side."
___"Wrong? In what way?" Burt asked.
___Well, this here man owned quite a collection of guns. But you wouldn't know it by lookin' at me now.." he said as he unbuttoned and looked at his chest.
___Burt sighed. "Not exactly the Dirty Dozen, are we?'" he said to himself.
___"What year were YOU frozen?" Helen asked.
___"That was in 1984." Kelly said as he buttoned his shirt back, apparently satisfied that the holes were gone.
___"I suppose that just leaves me." Said a tallish blonde man who had a pronounced English accent. "My name is Nigel Severide. I was in an auto accident in 1971 and placed in a frozen state. I was a Linguist for Her Majesty's Foreign Office."
___"Glad to have you on the team." Kelly said, smiling and offering his hand.
___"I'm sure." Then looking at Burt. "And what exactly is the purpose of our 'team?' We all know that we're in a spacecraft of some kind..."
___"It's all some kind of a government plot!" Christie said. "When I asked them about the Revolution they lied and said there never WAS one! This can't be the future."
___"A government plot that ain't got gravity?" Kelly asked.
___"The government is keeping all kinds of inventions suppressed." She said, not sounding entirely convinced herself.
___"Look, I think we have to all accept the reality of our situation." Burt said. "And we all have to accept the important job we have to do."
___"And what job is that?" Nigel asked cautiously.
___"We are the Advance Party." Burt told them. "With some key personnel from the Destiny, it is our job to confirm the viability of the main landing site."
___"It's not that I want to seem ungrateful..."
Kelly drawled, "But why us?"
___"Mainly because the guys in charge of this ship think that we can better deal with the unkown than they can." Burt said carefully. "The Earth they left is nothing like the Earth we once knew. The United Nations Authority tries to regulate everything, down to the way people brush their teeth. Once they leave a protected environment, these people are lost. They may get the knack of it it later, but for right now they need us in order to show the way."
___"Besides," Burt said, getting up and walking around the table "each of us has individual skills which may or may not be useful on Haven. Will here got involved in real estate, but only after extensive training and field experience in geology. Christie was a promising botanist. Helen was an skilled chemist, even if a tad careless sometimes. Kelly was a skilled pilot, with ratings in rotary ring, fixed wing, and some other rather exotic types of aircraft. And finally, of course, Nigel has great language and diplomatic skills which may come in handy if we meet something intelligent on the planet."
___"You mean they DON'T KNOW?" Will asked, incredulous.
___"Well, not a hundred percent..."
___"Count me out..." Kelly said. "These guys don't seem to have their act together."
___"Me too." Said Helen.
___"Look, we have a great opportunity here." Burt said, as everyone began voicing their protests. "We can be important participants in an incredibly important enterprise." Then Burt added sheepishly "Besides, anyone who doesn't help out will be placed in one of the empty suspension units for the twenty years it will take this ship to get back to Earth."
___The room had gotten quiet very suddenly. "Well, it would seem we've been involuntarily volunteered." Nigel said sarcastically.
___"At least on the primitive frontier we'll be on an equal footing with the rest of the colonists, pretty much." Will said. "I'd hate to think how lost we'd be on Earth twenty years from now."
___Slinky's skillfully aimed himself for the center of the table and landed quietly in the center. "What a pretty cat..." Helen said.
___"Feed me." Slinky replied.
___"You have a talking cat?" Will asked.
___"Not when I went in the freezer." Burt said acidly. "Look, we've got 20 hours before we have to meet in the Shuttle Bay. I suggest you use that time to get some sleep, learn more about what's happened in the 21st Century, learn some new skills in the ship's excellent simulation center, and generally get used to the idea of being an astronaut."