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Where the Wind Comes Sweepin' Down the Plain

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#1 jespah



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Posted 09 August 2011 - 10:23 AM

They couldn't pick a better time as that in life
It ain't too early and it ain't too late
Startin' as a farmer with a brand new wife
Soon'll be livin' in a brand new state

-- The Company (Oklahoma)


The docent at the Temporal Museum on Lafa II was a beautiful, elegant, slender blonde. The name patch on the left arm of her museum uniform read E. Daniels. Her skirt was modest museum attire, revealing two bands of color on her left ankle. The silver band was closer to her foot than the copper one was.

She also had an intriguing cuff bracelet on her left wrist, in a dull grey with intricate, complicated scrollwork. A portion of the cuff was uneven and the metal appeared softened and the pattern was faded and shallower, as if thousands of hands had touched it, in worshipful reverence or supplication.

She spoke. "And now we come to the Mirror exhibit portion of our tour. Or, to be more precise, this is the section devoted to the earliest crossovers between our universe and the one that we call the mirror."

"Why is it called the mirror? Aren't there several other universes?" asked a Tellarite woman.

"There are, we believe, an infinite number of universes. What is most intriguing about the mirror is how very close it is to our own. We have a kinship with the mirror that we simply don't have with any of the others."

"Is that due to the radiation bands?" a Klingon man asked.

"It is," the docent replied, "we are, well, our universe vibrates on a twenty-one centimeter radiation band. And the mirror vibrated at twenty centimeters."

"Is there a twenty-two? Shouldn't we be close to them, as well? Or, at least, shouldn't you humans?" asked a Tandaran man.

"There is, most assuredly, a twenty-two," the docent said, "but the dinosaurs never died out there. So, as you can imagine, things are a little bit different there."

Her tour, a mixed group of about twenty people of various ages and species, chuckled at that. She continued, "Up until 2157, no one knew about any mirrors. That is, no one but the Calafans. So I'll start with them."

"Several thousand years ago," she continued, "Calafans traveled between the two universes. Most of them were, undoubtedly, unaware that they were doing so. They would simply move from place to place, and would meet what they thought of as twins, but we would refer to these persons as counterparts."

"But aren't purebred Calafans silver on our side, and copper over there? Wouldn't they know?" asked the same Tandaran man.

"At the time," the docent said, "they were all of a kind of yellow, brassy color. And then a biological event known as speciation began. Calafans began to show up as either copper or silver, at birth. This would have all been perfectly fine, but there were two royal children – daughters – who showed up that way, one of each color. It turned out that both Calafan queens – here and in the mirror – had been unfaithful, and with the kings on the other side."

She took a breath. "As you can imagine, this was rather alarming on both sides. Add to this the fact that crossing from universe to universe was becoming rather unruly. So both sides decided to erect a barrier, which was achieved by the application of regular bursts of ionizing radiation. They built huge metallic dishes, and if you look out that window over there, you can see them on Point Abic."

She waited for everyone to return before continuing. "As a bit of a sop to the masses, contact was allowed to continue, so long as it was confined to the subconscious level. And so the Calafan people – who had, as a species, always been rather psionically gifted – began to have dreams and visitations from what they called night people."

"Aren't these lovers?" asked the Tellarite woman.

"For adults, yes, they often are. But children generally just visit with a beloved relative's counterpart or the like. We'll discuss more of the details later in our tour. Now, let's talk about human crossover contact."

A man arrived late, and joined the tour. He was fully human and had a military bearing.

"Back in 2157 – so that's nearly a millennium ago – the NX-01 came around. And the sous-chef, Lili O'Day, had a tiny Ensign's bed in which a small Calafan coin had been sewn into the bottom of the mattress. Does anyone know why?"

A Denobulan man spoke up. "Ah, that's what my people do. A coin is sewn into the underside of a mattress in order to induce profitable dreaming."

"Precisely," said the docent, "and, interestingly enough, that very same bed was repurposed and used on the USS Defiant. The Defiant was thrown back in time – it was from 2267 – and into the mirror, due to a spatial interphase. In the mirror, the interphase was caused by Tholians who created the interphasic rift by detonating a tri-cobalt warhead within the gravity well of a dead star. Jonathan Archer – and yes, he was the counterpart to the Archer we all know – found out about the Defiant and stole it. But that Archer's days were numbered, and he was murdered by his lover, who became the Empress Hoshi Sato."

"I go to Archer Elementary School!" a young human girl exclaimed.

"That's wonderful," the docent said, bending over to speak to the child, "which one?"

"The one on Vulcan," said the little girl.

"As I was saying," the docent straightened up and saw the military man in the back of the tour group, and smiled, "Empress Hoshi had the Defiant. And that same exact bed, still sporting its Calafan coin, was being used there. It was in Tactical Officer Lieutenant Commander Douglas Jay Hayes's quarters. The Defiant was also in the area, but in the mirror. And so Lili and Doug both began to experience rather vivid dreams."

"What were their dreams about?" the little girl asked.

"Well," the docent said, "it was, uh, very grown-up things. But they saw each other, and they fell in love. The Calafans attempted to use Lili for their own purposes, but they were thwarted. As an apology, and in order to get onto the right foot with humans, the Calafans worked to bring Doug over so that he could be with Lili."

"Did they succeed?" asked a Xryllian woman.

"They did. Now, you remember the radiation bands I spoke of? Well, Doug was able to pass them along to the five children he fathered. All of them had a twenty and one-half centimeter radiation band. Only two of those had children, and their children had a twenty and three-quarters band, and so on and so forth."

She took another breath. "The next crossover was in 2267, during the actual era of the Defiant. But no children were conceived. And then there were more crossovers in the late 2300s. As it became safer, easier and more reliable, more people crossed over, and in 2762, pulse shots were perfected and crossing over becomes common, and children began to be conceived."

"What about the Calafans?" asked the Klingon man.

"The act of bringing Doug over also opened the septum between the two universes. The mirror High Priestess, Yimar, decided to keep the gateway open permanently, but only Calafans could physically cross, and only near the dishes on Point Abic."

"Did that have consequences?" asked the Xryllian.

"Of course," replied the docent, "but I want to talk about Doug's family some more. Up until 2765, if you had a radiation band that was slightly less than twenty-one centimeters, then by definition you were one of Doug's descendants. But the family is also recognizable by their use of names. For men, the following names – among others – repeat throughout the generations: Douglas, Kevin, Richard, Steven with a V, Thomas, Jay, Malcolm and Stuart. For women, the following names – among many others – repeat throughout history: Charlotte, Jia, Lilienne, Melissa, Ines and Susan. And then there's Leonora, which, through the years, has become shortened down to my first name, Eleanor. I suppose someone wanted to save a syllable."

"A lot of those are fairly common names," said the little human girl's mother.

"To be sure," admitted Eleanor, "being named Douglas or Ines – or even having one of the repeating surnames, such as Beckett, Hayes, Delacroix, Masterson, Madden or Reed – is no guarantee that you're one of Doug's own. Furthermore, since we've had more recent crossings from one side of the proverbial pond to the other and back again, it's harder to tell. You need both a DNA test and a radiation band test."

"What's a radiation band test?" asked the little human girl. "Does it hurt?"

"Not at all," Eleanor replied, "and actually, we have an old tester." She located a wand in a display case. "If anyone would like, I can test you right now. And if you provide your DNA profile – which will be erased from our records the moment we get the results – we can see if you're one of Doug's descendants. Here, I'll demonstrate."

She turned on the wand and ran it over herself, and then clicked her PADD next to a desktop station at the museum. In less than a minute, the results came up: 18% Calafan, 4% mirror Calafan, 13% descendant of Neil Digiorno-Madden, 41% descendant of Joss Beckett, 11% human, 5% other mirror human, 8% Vulcan. "So that's me. Anyone else want to have a go? Neil and Joss were, of course, the two of Doug's children who became parents. Perhaps someone here is a long-lost cousin of mine."

Most of the adults demurred, but the little human girl insisted: 63% human, 14% mirror human, 23% descendant of Joss Beckett. "Are we cousins?" she asked Eleanor.

"We are. We are both related to this man," she showed a picture of a tall, handsome man with bluish-greenish-greyish eyes who was standing in front of an old-style building. A sign in the front of the building said Beckett Veterinary Hospital.

"I'd like to be tested," the military man said, speaking in a soft Southern drawl that betrayed an origin on Titania or one of the Carolinas on Earth. He was 14% human, 17% other mirror human, 36% descendant of Joss Beckett, 33% descendant of Neil Digiorno-Madden.

"I guess this means we're kissing cousins, Tom," Eleanor said to him softly.


Senior Temporal Agent Richard Malcolm Daniels stared out the window of his office at the Temporal Integrity Commission. He had a glorious view of the Milky Way galaxy, for the Commission wasn't located on a planet at all but, rather, was on a ship that patrolled just outside the galactic barrier: the USS Adrenaline.

There had been a few months of quiet, and that had helped. His last assignment hadn't been dangerous or intellectually difficult, but emotionally, it had torn at him. Alone in his office, he decided to check one thing. "Computer, pull up records for Prague, year 2000, from the master time file."


"Locate a name in the Census – Milena Chelenska."

"There is no such name in the database."

"Hmm. Locate another name – Noemy Chelenska."

"There is no such name in the database."

"Pawel, Pawel, what the hell is your last name? Uh, computer, locate all couples in Prague, in 2000, where the husband is named Pawel and the wife is named Noemy."

"There are four such records."

"Display all available photographs," he said. "Ah, that one, Balcescu. Display address for this couple."

"Twelve Bilkova Street."

"So you didn't move," he said, "Computer, name all the residents of that address, as of January first, year 2000."

"Pawel Balcescu, Noemy Balcescu, Milena Balcescu and Abraham Balcescu."

"Ages by the end of 2000?" he asked.

"Seventy-five, seventy, twenty-two and eighteen."

"What? That can't be right. When was Milena born?"

"February eighteenth, 1978."

He sighed. He had a nagging feeling about what this meant. Milena – the one named Chelenska, and not the one named Balcescu – had been born in 1928. Fifty years earlier. He had met her on his last temporal mission, to put back the events of Prague Spring to what they were supposed to be.

There had been something about her.


But now the records were all wrong.

"Computer, for Jews in Prague, do they name after family members?"

"Ashkenazi Jews in any country traditionally name their children for deceased relatives. Sephardic Jews often name their children after living relatives."

"I see. Computer, check 1970 Census for Prague, and locate the name, Milena Chelenska."

"There is no such name in the database."

"Dammit. Check for the Balcescu name."

"Pawel and Noemy Balcescu, located at Twelve Bilkova Street."

"Computer, end search."

He sighed again. "I'll get the details later," he said to himself, "I had no idea you wouldn't make it to 1970. I, I miss you."


Brand new state!
Brand new state, gonna treat you great!
Gonna give you barley, carrots and potatoes,
Pasture fer the cattle,
Spinach and tomatoes!
Flowers on the prairie where the June bugs zoom,
Plenty of air and plenty of room,
Plenty of room to swing a rope!
Plenty of heart and plenty of hope.

-- The Company (Oklahoma)

Honk if you love silence.

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#2 Bill



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Posted 09 August 2011 - 12:24 PM

A great start to a new tale.:thumbup:

Life is a con
stant series of adaptations. and I am adapting as fast as I can!

#3 jespah



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Posted 10 August 2011 - 10:24 AM

Thank you very much! :)

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#4 jespah



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Posted 10 August 2011 - 10:35 AM

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, Ev'ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk
Makin' lazy circles in the sky.

-- The Company (Oklahoma)


On another ship – which was actually not that far away – a man sat in a small rectory which doubled as an office. He was late middle-aged and was wearing the red robes of his order, for the ship was home to a monastery. The name of the ship, and the order to which he belonged had the same name – Eligius.

The brothers – well, most of them, at any rate – made wine when they weren't engaged in prayer or tending to the needs of the ship or attending to the basic necessities of life. The order was small and somewhat fanatical, having as one of its basic tenets the express requirement that its members never touch a woman, not even by accident.

Eligius was the patron saint of knife makers, minting, numismatics, agricultural workers, blacksmiths, boilermakers, cab drivers, carriage makers, cartwrights, coin collectors, crafters, cutlers, farmers, farriers, garage workers, gas station workers, gilders, goldsmiths, harness makers, horses, horseshoe makers, jewelers, jockeys, laborers, locksmiths, metal workers, miners, saddlers, veterinarians and wheelwrights.

And clock makers and watch makers.

This man, in his former life outside of the monastery, had been a philanthropist named Milton Walker. He had had a wife, Enid, and a daughter, Helen. But things had not gone well in his marriage, and so he and Enid had divorced. As for Helen, that had occurred while she had been in Medical School on Nereid. She had always been Daddy's Little Girl, and the divorce only served to strengthen that bond.

But there was one area where they differed. Both of them had come to see the past as inefficient, unfair, and often downright cruel. Milton had fallen in with a secret faction known as the Perfectionists, and had risen through its shadowy ranks to become that group's leader.

To him, changing time was all about improving humanity. He was tired of living in the present time, with its restrictions, and longed for a utopia. After all, there were still wars and diseases, there was still some poverty and oppression, and discomforts remained. He felt he had been given a sacred trust, to root out imperfection at its core, and make the present and, by extension, the future, better by tweaking and jiggering the past.

For Helen, there was but one motivation that accompanied altering timelines, and it had naught to do with any cause, noble or otherwise. For her, it was a lark, and the human past was her ultimate playground.

All she really wanted to do was see just what she could get away with.


The Perfectionists had put their thumbs on several metaphorical temporal scales. They had worked to prevent a plane crash in 1959. They had sought to prolong Prague Spring, which was supposed to end in 1968. Along the way, they had greatly diminished the AIDS epidemic as well.

But every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and a lot of negatives had arrived, hand in hand with the positives. Overpopulation and later development of Warp Drive were but a pair of the unintended negative consequences of the Perfectionists' meddling.

And so Rick Daniels – and his fellow temporal operatives, Thomas Grant, HD Avery, Polly Porter and Sheilagh Bernstein – had had to put everything back. And so a person would die who had lived. Or another negative – imperfect – result would return to history. For the Temporal Integrity Commission's mission was not to make time better. It was to put time back.

And sometimes the original history was messy, inconvenient, and unjust or simply downright mean.

It could be a hard life, and it would sometimes jade a person. Rick had been putting back nasty timelines for so long that he had taken to finding comfort in the arms of the women he encountered along the way. It was a temporary escape from what could often be painful consequences. A kiss – and more – from a1699 Quaker widow or a Chief Engineer from 2380 or a 1417 actress could make it all go away.

At least, it had.

But then he had met Milena Chelenska, she of the Prague Spring that had threatened to overstay its welcome. And while he was uncertain of his feelings, he knew that they went deeper than what he had experienced with a 1929 flapper or a 2763 first assistant to Future Guy named Phillipa Green.

But all of it was impossible, anyway. The timeline would not allow for anything beyond fleeting togetherness. And so the thought of Milena began to fill him with melancholy. The only other person who had ever given him that feeling for a significant period of time was also someone he had never actually met, and could never meet – Jun Sato.

All of those conquests, and someone was bound to turn up pregnant. The fact that that person was the Empress Hoshi Sato, from the other side of the pond – the mirror universe – just made matters all the trickier.

She had had the baby and named him Jun. It meant truthful – an utter absurdity, considering all of the lies that were to come, in order to assure that Jun could live at all.

The mirror government had demanded that the pregnancy be reversed, and that it never happen. But this was an innocent child's life. Rick didn't ask for much, but he did want Jun to live, so he had his boss, Admiral Carmen Calavicci, help him intervene.

First they conceded to have the boy sterilized, and then they conceded to allow him and Hoshi to believe that Rick had died. And, finally, Rick was forbidden from ever returning to the mirror during the Empress Hoshi's entire lifetime – even the moments of her birth and her death. It didn't matter to the mirror government. They thought their draconian requirements were downright liberal and kind.


On the USS Saint Eligius, a call came in. The caller's identity and gender were masked – a convenient bit of technology for an organization as secret as the Perfectionists. Milton Walker answered it as he sat in the rectory. "You're just about ready to go?" he asked.

"I am," replied the caller, "I swallowed the dose of trichronium about twenty minutes ago."

"Very well," said Walker. Trichronium was an enzyme that had been developed in conjunction with a drive which was small enough to be worn on one's wrist. The drive superficially resembled Eleanor Daniels's ancient cuff bracelet. Trichronium, in tandem with Milton Walker's cuff, was designed to be a nearly perfectly untraceable component of time travel.

The subject would swallow a dose of trichronium, Milton Walker would adjust the settings on his cuff – which he wore all the time – and the subject would be nearly instantaneously whisked away to the time and place of Walker's choosing. Once the trichronium wore off, the subject would be just as abruptly returned, so the Perfectionists' temporal operatives always carried an extra dose with them, in case their missions took longer than expected.

Missions had to be approved by Walker, and he had some rather quirkily specific ideas about the changes he wanted to be made. First, he only cared about humans, and only wanted any changes made for any other species to work to the benefit of humankind.

Plus, he mainly only cared about the twenty-one centimeter radiation band universe. He didn't know about Jun Sato's sire, nor about Rick being banned from visiting such a large chunk of mirror history. But that hardly mattered. Those were not the fish he was interested in frying.

In addition, he confined his attentions to a rather narrow slot in history – from the October fourth, 1957 launch of Sputnik to the April fifth, 2063 launch of the first Warp One vessel, the Phoenix. That time period was dense with what were referred to as pariotric events. That is, they were decision points in time where a choice made, one way or another, had enough of a significant impact to matter, but was not such an enormous change that it would be impossible for a human to precipitate it.

Temporal decision nodes could be tiny and, essentially, meaningless. Those were called otric. Or they could be megaotric, e. g. too big for humans to have any sort of an impact. But pariotric events or nodes, much like Goldilocks, were just right.

Walker set the cuff's controls to just before an event that threatened to be so large that it could, potentially, tip into megaotric territory. Certainly the impact of the change would ripple down through time. The controls were set for April sixteenth, 1995.

Oklahoma City.


We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!
We're only sayin'
You're doin' fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.

-- The Company (Oklahoma)

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#5 jespah



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Posted 11 August 2011 - 11:29 AM

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain
And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.
Oklahoma, Ev'ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk
Makin' lazy circles in the sky.

-- The Company (Oklahoma)


There was a door chime. "Uh, just a sec," Rick said. He had a souvenir of his time with Milena – a small photograph taken by her sister, Noemy. The picture was of a sad-eyed auburn-haired woman with a faraway look. He took one last glance, and put it into his desk drawer. "C'mon in."

"Am I interruptin' anything?" asked Kevin O'Connor, the department's Chief Engineer.

"Nothing in particular."

"I've done a thorough investigation on the damage to the HG Wells," Kevin stated.

"Maybe Carmen should be here to hear about the problems with my time ship."

"She's got an inkling. Richard, you did a bit of fancy repair work there, and with the wackiest things – scrap junk aluminum and a pair of woman's nylon stockings."

Rick smiled a little at that. "Good thing I didn't go to an era before plastics were developed."

"Right. We might need to restrict travel, yanno, if things like this keep happening. Woulda been a far different story if you were in 1458 instead of 1968."

"Agreed," Rick said, "so, do you have findings?"

"Yep. Now, here's the deal. Whoever cut the dark matter intake line on the Wells also cut it on the other two active time ships here in the Human Unit – the Flux Capacitor and the Jack Finney. I analyzed the cut patterns and found that they match. It was some sort of scissors or shears, and there's the tiniest of notches about a millimeter from the top. See for yourself." He fiddled with a PADD he had with him and projected three nearly identical images onto the wall of Rick's office.

"I take it these aren't all pictures of the same thing."

"Right you are. Fluxy's here on the left, then Jack, and then the Wells over here on the right. And that notch is here, here and here." He pointed.

"Find the notch, find the shears, find the culprit," Rick said.

"Right. Now, consider the fact that everyone in this department – hell, most of the people in the Temporal Integrity Commission itself – knows that the dark matter collector is necessary for powering a new style time ship. The old Audrey Niffenegger ran on chronitons, but all of our newer ships are already converted over to the new way of doing things."

"Which you invented, Kevin."

"Don't remind me. If I'd known they'd be targeted, I woulda hid the collector lines better in the design."

"It is not your fault."

"Well, thanks. As I was sayin'," Kevin said, "we got newer design ships. And so do most of the units. The Ferengi don't, 'cause they wanna squeeze the very last bit of value outta the older designs. I swear, the Penar is gonna be stranded in medieval Ferenginar one of these days."

"Well, they want to get their money's worth."

"They're the only species with Warp Drive that still gives a damn about money. Wacky," Kevin commented, "in any event, most people know that the collector line is a vital component. So we can't cut down the list of suspects that way."

"Isn't Carmen turning over the investigation of this to Section 31?"

"Not this time. They still can't find Otra. I think Carmen's about ready to give up on 'em."



She had been a member of the Human Unit, even though she wasn't fully human. But neither were Kevin, Rick and the department's doctor, Boris Yarin. So her being only half-human had been fine. She was not a time traveler.

Rather, she had an uncanny ability to spot temporal alternatives, and had visions of time changing that were still faster than the main computer's.

The half of Otra that wasn't human was Witannen. That portion of her genetics gave her, in lieu of hair, what looked like a bouquet of flowers on top of her head. The flowers – which were known as chavecoi – were nonsentient symbiotic hitchhikers. She gave them, essentially, a place to root and, in return, they could save her life in the event of a drought, for they could photosynthesize.

But Otra and her chavecoi were long gone, kidnapped by – it seemed obvious – the Perfectionists. Section 31, an organization with as shadowy a background as the Perfectionists, had been on the case for months, but never seemed to get anywhere. The trail wasn't just cold – it was Antarctic.


In 1995 Oklahoma City, there were no thoughts of Witannen, the Temporal Integrity Commission or even Warp Drive. Instead, the thoughts were – at least in the minds of Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh – of where to park.

On April sixteenth, they had but one objective – to deposit the getaway truck somewhere near where they wanted to be on the nineteenth.

The nineteenth of April was selected to reflect the battles of Lexington and Concord, and the ATF's botched raid on the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas.

McVeigh had read The Turner Diaries, and followed not so much their vision of an America overrun by evil minority groups, but instead its recipe for revolution via the bombing of a Federal building. The Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was selected, as it was home to several government agency offices.

But the sixteenth was devoted to the aftermath of the nineteenth. "Ah, there, take that one," said Nichols, pointing.

McVeigh pulled the truck into the space, and threw it into park. And that was the last thing that either of them ever thought or knew, for a wide shot from a handheld subatomic disruptor vaporized not only the two of them, but their truck as well, leaving the remainder of the parked cars unscathed, and not even a car alarm went off.

Satisfied that no one had seen him do his job, the Perfectionists' temporal operative, a middle-aged, balding man, went to the nearest watering hole to get himself a celebratory draft.


And over a millennium later, the changes became visible, and Otra saw them.

She was trapped – imprisoned, really – within a large storage container in the Saint Eligius's cargo bay. All around her, oblivious monks – for most of them were true members of the Eligian Order and not members of the Perfectionists at all – would stack up cartons of wine bottles for offloading on Krios Prime, Cardassia or Kronos, or would accept shipments of raw materials like grapes from Betazed; yeast from Otra's mother's home world, Dawitan; empty bottles from Daranaea; labels from Bajor or even the occasional replacement cask from the Xryllian home world.

The prison was perfectly soundproof, even when occasionally Milton and his cronies would fail to perfectly seal it. No one could hear Otra's cries for help. She had been there for about six and a half months and had no idea that it was May third of 3110.

She was fed fairly well, for Milton did not want her to die, but parsimoniously enough that she was in a weakened state. As her captivity had worn on, her angry, defiant banging on her cell's walls had given way to resigned lying on the floor in the utter darkness, chavecoi limp around her head. She spent her time eating, being in undesired communications with her captors, or sleeping. And she was doing the latter activity for over three-quarters of her days.

She still did not know who had her, but had put together that wine was being shipped. She could, at times, make out moving red shapes and stationary grey ones. She did not know that the red shapes were monks in their robes, and the grey ones were either supplies or crates filled with the order's finished products.

All she knew was that, on what felt like a more or less daily basis – although she could not be certain, as her prison was mainly kept in pitch darkness – someone would call her, masked voice audible from the ceiling of her cell. And that voice always wanted to know what she had seen.

She had tried holding back on her visions, and she had tried providing false ones to her captors. But as she grew weaker, it had become harder. It wasn't Stockholm syndrome, for her half-Witannen parentage preventing her from becoming sympathetic to her captors. Rather, it was fatigue and depression. She had nothing else to do, no one else to talk to, no other purpose in life, and her captivity bore every earmark of being permanent.

And so she told the truth.


"So you've got lots of suspects," Rick said, "where do I fit in with all of this?"

"From now on, I am the last engineer who sees the Wells before you go on missions – and always right before you fly. Get me up in the middle of the night if you have to, I don't care. This is your personal safety we're talkin' about there."

"Right. And, um, thanks. What about the other time ships?"

"I'll try to monitor 'em," Kevin said, "but I can't be everywhere at once. Plus the other travelers, as of now are, well, they're on my suspects list as well."

"I see. What else?"

"I'm kinda surprised the dark matter intake lines were cut by shears, and not something like a phase cutter. So look around, see if you can spot scissors or the like. I already know about Crystal."

Crystal Sherwood, the department's Quartermaster, had as her job to assure that the time travelers didn't carry anachronisms – except for their own equipment – and didn't stand out. This included giving haircuts as needed, and she still used old-fashioned scissors, claiming that phase cutters made her nervous.

"I want to believe she's innocent," Rick said.

"Me, too. Hell, I consider most of the department to be friends, and I figure most of the Temporal Integrity Commission wouldn't try to harm us, but I guess just about anything can happen."

"Anything else?" Rick asked.

"Carmen's got something for ya."

"Is anyone else in on this?"

"So far, no. Discretion is your friend. See ya." Kevin was gone.


As soon as the Perfectionists' temporal operative had materialized in front of him, Milton Walker asked, "Well?"

"Didn't even leave a scorch mark."

"Good. I'll get you to Berren Five, and then you're on your own in getting to the Temporal Integrity Commission," Milton replied.

"Calavicci wants me in today. They'll come and get me," said the agent, changing into clothing that was appropriate for 3110.

"Perfect. I'll have Helen run a few diversionary missions. And I bet Otra's got something to tell us," Milton paused a moment, "let me know when you have something, and be sure to watch the contact with Marisol and our other insiders. Good luck, Dan. Our cause is just."


We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!
We're only sayin'
you're doin' fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.

-- The Company (Oklahoma)

Honk if you love silence.

Published author, Trek Citizen and not much bigger than a bread box

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#6 jespah



    Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 10:10 AM


-- The Company (Oklahoma)


And in her cell, Otra's dream grew more fitful until it finally sprang into focus.

The vision was complicated. First, Otra saw an enormous banquet table, laid out as if for a feast. It seemed to stretch for miles. But the chairs at the table, illuminated hauntingly, were strangely empty.

Then they began to be filled. A nun, taking the vows of her order. A clerk, processing forms on real paper. A supervisor, a nurse, a day care center employee – they all appeared and took their seats.

As the guests – she assumed they were some kind of guests – took their seats, the lights on their chairs went out. Finally, there were only about twenty or so empty yet illuminated chairs.

The other chairs and their occupants flew away, and the table shrank and consolidated on down, so there were no gaps between the seats. The table now had a huge candelabrum on it. The candles were unlit, yet the seats still were. Odd.

Then she saw them.

One by one, they came. Before her eyes, a little boy walked over, and then morphed into a grown man in a Kansas City Royals baseball uniform. He made a spectacular diving catch, and then threw the ball to some unseen admirer. He smiled, and Otra got the distinct impression that he was smiling at her. He lit a candle and then sat down in one of the seats, which then darkened.

A little girl came over. She morphed into a woman in a suit, and promptly walked into a classical style building that seemed to have something to do with government or law. She signed something in front of a bank of television cameras. Then she, too, seemingly smiled at Otra, lit a candle, and sat in a seat that then darkened.

Then it was a boy and a girl, hand in hand. They grew up instantly, and it was their wedding day. They kissed, and the bride threw a bouquet. Then they, too, acknowledged Otra, lit their candles and sat in adjacent chairs which then darkened.

A preacher. A doctor. An artist. Office workers. Waiters. Parents. A stand-up comedian. One child was even shown growing up to wear an orange prison jumpsuit. All grew up; all lit a candle, and then sat on chairs which then darkened.

Finally, a last set of three were brought over by their mothers, and Otra somehow knew that it was even before birth for them. One became a bartender. Another, a short order cook. The last one became a soldier. They, too, smiled their acknowledgements, lit their candles and took their seats, which darkened.

Then the entire scene turned pitch black, and Otra's sole thought was – the stage hands are getting ready for Scene Two.


"I'll call you."

"I'll answer," Eleanor Daniels replied.

"Wish I didn't have to go," he drawled. It was Tom, the military man who'd joined her tour perhaps an hour before. To be more precise, it was Thomas Grant, one of the Temporal Integrity Commission's time travelers for the Human Unit.

"Duty calls, I suppose. Tell Richard that our parents expect him there for dinner one of these days. And, uh, maybe you could come, too."

"I see," he said, "it's a big step."

"I definitely want to take it."

They kissed, and he caught a transport to Berren Five.


"Carmen, you wanted to see me?" Rick was in her office.

"Yes, good of Kevin to mention that," she motioned for him to come in, and then shut the door behind him.

"Has he explained to you the new engineering protocol for the Wells?" she asked.

Rick nodded.

"Good, one less thing for me to go over. Now, the other bit of this – it's two things that go together rather nicely. I want you to take at least one other traveler with you, from now on. Rotate them, because I want you to observe all of your fellow travelers."

"Okay. Got anything specific in mind for me to be looking out for?"

"I suppose anything that appears out of the ordinary. Kevin will watch the other engineers – including Von, whenever he comes over from the Ferengi Unit to help out. I'll watch anyone in house."

"So, um, I get HD, Sheilagh, Polly, Tom and Marisol?" he asked.

"Not Marisol, I'm going to mainly leave her in house for now, so she'll be mine, along with Boris and Crystal. But there is another traveler coming in, a friend of Grant's. Name's Daniel Beauchaine."

"What's he here for?"

"You mean his specialty? He's a survivalist. He can also be placed into some limited combat situations."

"Combat? I don't think any of the others can do that, except of course for Grant."

"Most likely not. I don't see myself giving HD Avery an old-style phase rifle any time soon," she said. "So Kevin will watch Levi and Deirdre, and Von at times, but he'll also be needed to work on the Wells. So doubling and tripling up is going to become downright necessary if that poor man is to get any sleep at all. Unless we truly have a need, we won't have more than the three time ships out at any one time."

"So they won't finish the Audrey II or start the Elise McKenna?"

"The Audrey II is almost finished – it's just minor things, mostly cosmetic. But either it or Fluxy will generally stay here for the nonce, and Elise won't get out of the blueprint stage."

An alarm suddenly went off, exceptionally loud.

"We've got changes," she bellowed, "I'll call a meeting."


Scene Two of Otra's vision was the Bridge of a ship. She looked around it a bit for clues and realized it was the old NX-01. At the pilot's station, there was a lovely woman, the color of coffee with cream. The Chief Engineer – Charles Tucker III – Tripp to his friends, Otra recalled from her history lessons – entered the Bridge and smiled broadly at the pilot. She reddened a little and looked down. And Otra realized: they're in love.

The female pilot leaned back in her chair, and Otra noticed another thing – she was visibly pregnant. There isn't supposed to be a Charles Tucker IV in our universe, only on the other side of the pond, Otra thought to herself.

The scene changed again, and it was a pretty, auburn-haired doctor, possibly aged about fifty, exhausted and tending to dozens of patients in a Sick Bay from, perhaps, some time in the 2300s. Otra couldn't be sure. The patients had horrible, nasty sores – some sort of an awful plague. The doctor was particularly concerned about one patient, a young man who didn't even seem to be twenty. He died as Otra watched, and she realized the resemblance. This was the doctor's own son.

Then the scene shifted, and Otra could recognize the legendary Captain Jean-Luc Picard. He was playing some sort of a game, eyes transfixed and oblivious to all around him. Everyone else was playing, and it seemed that the entire crew had abandoned their posts, all in thrall to that almighty game. With one shot, a Borg cube destroyed the ship – the Enterprise-D – and all hands were lost. Undoubtedly their last moments were spent not thinking of loved ones, religion, judgment or eternity, but only of scoring more points and leveling up in that game.

The scene began to shift again, but she was awakened.

"Otra! What do you have for me!" it was Milton Walker, but she didn't know that. To her, it was merely a masked voice.

"Multiple disasters," Otra replied wearily, "whatever you've done, you'd better undo it."


Conference Room six was packed. Tom and Dan came in last, fresh from Berren Five.

"Turn that alarm off, Mister O'Connor," Carmen commanded, "please."

"Sure thing, Boss," Kevin replied.

"I take it that whatever we have is major. Marisol, what do you see?" Carmen asked.

"It is, it is very chaotic," she said. Marisol Castillo was one of the Perfectionists' moles. She was a doctor, and was meant to be a time traveler, but that was on hold. She also claimed to have some of Otra's gift for seeing alternate timelines, but her visions were vague and cloudy, as opposed to Otra's sharply focused ones.

And that made perfect sense, for what Marisol saw weren't visions at all – they were lies, spun out of her head and, when it was possible, supplemented by a few hints from Milton. He asked Otra to relate her visions every day, and it was just for this very purpose – to pass them on and make Marisol look good.

"Surely you've got something by now," Carmen prompted, a tiny bit of skepticism in her voice.

"Wait, huh," Marisol said. Everyone in the Temporal Integrity Commission had a Communicator permanently implanted behind their left ear. Hers trilled. "I have to take this," she pointed to her ear, their sign for a call has come in.

"No," Carmen said, a little sharply, "we can't delay this. Kevin?"

"Just 'cause the alarms are silent doesn't mean the data ain't still pourin' in."

"It is, it's overwhelming," Marisol said.

With no way to get information from Milton – and no visions to speak of, of course – she did the only thing that made sense. She had seen Otra do this, but in Otra, it wasn't a deliberate or falsified act.

She rolled her eyes up to the back of her head, and pretended to faint.


"If I understand you correctly, they'll be kept hopping at the old TIC," Milton said.

"You don't get it," Otra said, "all of these changes you've been making – they may seem like a good idea to you at the time, but they all, inevitably, turn to ashes."

"I don't recall soliciting your opinion."

"Tough, you're getting it anyway."

"Time is so horribly unfair," Milton complained, "so we improve it. We perfect it."

"But you're like a bull in a china shop," Otra stated, "You think you're doing some good things, but the reality is that you break all that you touch."

"You do not get it, Otra," Milton countered, "for there are plenty of smaller changes that are never undone by your precious Temporal Integrity Commission. They leave all sorts of frayed ends. And those are, inexorably, adding up."

"Then why don't you just make those small changes and leave the Commission out of it?"

"My colleagues," Milton explained, "let's just say that they applaud the grand gesture, the audacious act. And this was quite the audacious act! Fortune favors the bold, you know."

"The bold are going to destroy us all."

"Don't be so overdramatic! Besides, you're overlooking another motivation of ours – to turn a few of your coworkers to our noble cause. A few are close, and I bet this bold stroke will tip the scales."

"Really?" Otra asked, "And what was your bold stroke?"

"You know by now that you're never told such things. But here's a hint – it's designed to elicit maximum guilt in your colleagues."

"Guilt? And then I suppose you believe they'll defect to your side because you offer such a perfect and positive alternative?"

"You're catching on. And what could be more guilt-evoking than having to send around twenty innocent children back to fiery deaths?"


We know we belong to the land
And the land we belong to is grand!
And when we say
Yeeow! Ayipioeeay!
We're only sayin'
You're doin' fine, Oklahoma!
Oklahoma O.K.
L - A - H - O - M - A

-- The Company (Oklahoma)

Honk if you love silence.

Published author, Trek Citizen and not much bigger than a bread box

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#7 jespah



    Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 09:32 AM

I heard you crying loud,
all the way across town
You've been searching for that someone,
and it's me out on the prowl
As you sit around feeling sorry for yourself
Well, don't get lonely now
And dry your whining eyes
I'm just roaming for the moment
Sleazin' my back yard so don't get so uptight
you been thinking about ditching me

-- Green Day (When I Come Around)


"Marisol, are you all right?" it was Boris's voice. He was leaning over her with a medical tricorder as the rest of the department looked on.

"I – oh – there is so much that has changed! I can't keep up with it!" she figured she'd make it look good. Her guesses, in this area, were actually fairly accurate.

"That much seems clear," Carmen said, "people, let's brainstorm! What are events that could cause such a cascade of changes?"

"A war is prevented," Deirdre offered.

"That might be too megaotric," Sheilagh said.

"No, we'll just list ideas. It doesn't matter if they're farfetched for now," Carmen said, "We'll settle details later."

"Natural disasters," Crystal said.

"Diseases," HD offered.

"Maybe a major invention?" Tom asked.

"A leader," Rick said, "but it's gotta be someone really big."

"All of those seem plausible. And some of those can be intelligently broken down," Kevin said.

"Sure. Wars break down into battles. Natural disasters might break down into rescue or relief efforts, and the others can probably be broken down by time," Polly said.

"My family's wiped," Levi Cavendish said, looking up for the first time. He had Asperger's and adult ADHD. It was a wonder he ever looked in anyone's eye.

"Wiped?" Dan asked, "Does that happen often?"

"It can," Rick said, "but it's not necessarily an intended consequence. When we fix the main issues with the timeline, families magically reappear. I guess most of us are used to it now. We're not fazed."

"Well, I know your family's intact, Rick," Tom said.

Rick just nodded. Of course Tom meant Eleanor, his sister. He'd been meaning to ask both of them about that, but this was neither the time nor the place.

Kevin clicked around a bit on his PADD. "Carmen's okay; so's Sheilagh. As mentioned, Rick's family is intact, too. Mine's gone, so's Polly's and Levi's, as he said. Uh, Deirdre, you're okay. Crystal, it's, uh, still compiling. Tom, yours is okay. HD, yours is okay. Boris, Marisol, you're both fine, but Boris, I think your wife may be wiped."

"A pity", he said, and it sounded as if he thought anything but that. He was the only married member of the department.

"And me?" Dan asked.

"Hang on," Kevin said, "oh, Crystal, looks like you're okay. Huh, Dan, your family's gone, too."

"The consequences – they can be pretty severe," Sheilagh said, "it's weird to hear that one's family is gone. I know how I felt the first time I heard that. And it's only your first day."

"Yeah," Dan sighed, "everything just goes and goes, it seems. It's like, they do their thing, or we do ours, and how can anyone ever hope to see the end?"

"And this isn't even the end," Carmen said, "for after all, isn't there going to be a tomorrow?"


Helen Walker swallowed a dose of trichronium and waited to be whisked away. Her missions were intended to be far less impactful than Dan's had been. Instead, they were meant to serve as distractions, in order to splinter the Temporal Integrity Commission's focus.

Her first stop was October twentieth, 1977.


"Is that all you saw?" Milton inquired.

"Isn't that enough?"

"I suppose. But I suspect there will be more," he stated.

"What's happening outside?" Otra asked.

"Oh, you know I will never say. Now, time for you to have a nice rest, and when you awaken, there will be food."

"So long as I'm your good little pet," Otra said quietly, as tricoulamine gas began to infiltrate her little prison and make her sleep.


"Deirdre, HD, look at current news. Tom, you and Dan – show him how – will compare current history to the master time file, but only in the area of wars and battles. Go as far back as, I don't know, you may need to go to Pre-Warp. Crystal, you and Sheilagh will make the same comparison vis a vis natural disasters. Concentrate on things like casualty numbers and damage estimates. I doubt that a tornado can be changed from a Tuesday to a Wednesday, but perhaps its effects can be manipulated. Richard, Polly, look at political figures. Kevin, you and Levi will get the time ships ready. Boris, you'll look at diseases and epidemics. Marisol, uh, are you up to working?" Carmen asked.

"I think so."

"Good, then you're in charge of looking at inventions. Remember; follow every lead, no matter how small. I'll dig up what I can by working backwards on the wiped families," Carmen said. Her Communicator trilled in her ear, "Ah, Bryce! We have some major issues, we're investigating now."

Bryce Unger was the head of the entire Temporal Integrity Commission. All of the units – human, Vulcan, Witannen, Ferengi, copper and silver Calafan, Betazoid, Tandaran and all of the others – reported to him. "You haven't checked out today's news yet, am I right?"

"We haven't. What's the issue?" Carmen asked.

"Apparently, we now all live as colonies of Dawitan, serving them at their pleasure. Earth provides an annual tribute of tons of lead ore, trellium and aluminum, among other things. The Xryllian home world offers up kilotons of various grains. Terra sends over fully manufactured particle weapons. Kronos provides yeast, grapes and casks, in addition to providing an annual tribute of thousands of live and freshly slaughtered targ."

"Casks?" Carmen asked.

"Yes. Apparently Earth and Terra are also in the wine-making business, on an enormous scale. And wine isn't just provided to Dawitan – it appears it's also being used to pacify the masses."

"And money's back. Huh. We'll look into all of that. Calavicci out."


Otra went back to dreaming, and this time she saw an old-fashioned airplane touch down in a tropical country. It was some sort of returning hero. He was greeted warmly and the crowd went wild.

Then she saw another plane, from even earlier. This one had long-haired musicians on it. That plane landed in some Southern city, she figured, and then a sign confirmed that the city was Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The band was greeted by screaming fans and some members of the local press. It seemed to be a typical day of celebrity for young people skyrocketing to the top.


The alarm went off again, but this time it wasn't as loud. "I thought you'd turned that off," Carmen said, calling Kevin.

"It must be somethin' new. I'm checkin' now."

"Very well," Carmen sighed, "and Kevin, make sure to get the Audrey II ready to go as well. Thank you. Calavicci out."

"Wait, huh, that just made our job easier," Polly said, "I think I found the latest difference." She fiddled with her PADD and projected an image onto the screen. That's Benigno Aquino. In, uh, 1983, he returns to Manila from exile and is shot and killed. The Philippine government remains a dictatorship."

"That's the original history," Rick said, "he died that day, which was, uh, August twenty-first. In the new reality, he gets strong man Ferdinand Marcos to step down and rules the Philippines for sixteen years."

"All right, we've got one," Carmen said, "but I get the feeling that's not our big one. Anyone else?"

"The current news says there's, well, listen for yourselves," Deirdre said. She made the broadcast audible and projected the visual portion onto the conference room wall.

"I'm Troy Scott, here now the news", said a handsome, strapping man, "riots broke out in Madrid when a wine shipment was inexplicably delayed. Witannen officials blamed the delay on the Klingon borer worm which has infested many vineyards on Kronos. New pesticides are being developed, but there is a bit of lead time required to determine whether they work. Citizens are instructed to limit their intake to no more than one liter per day and to share with their neighbors. There is a possibility that rationing is in our future."

Deirdre clicked off her PADD. "A liter? Everybody must be hammered all the time."

"Keep the masses medicated," HD said, "and that way they'll never foment a revolution."


In her cell, Otra's vision changed to a sight of several full-blooded Witannen – her mother's species – laughing and counting money.

As her vision began to scroll back to the original scene of the banquet table, she was awoken by loud banging. And she could see that it was to some purpose, as one wall of her cell was starting to splinter.

Someone was breaking in.


"We've been through wars back to the Roman Republic," Tom drawled, "we haven't gotten to the battle level yet, but all of the wars seem to start and end on the right dates, and in the right places, and the numbers of casualties match up, so far as we can tell, up to 2015. Before that, it goes haywire."

"Any connection to the Philippines?" Carmen asked.

"None that we can spot," Dan said.

"Well, we've got a hard end date at least," Carmen commented.

"I don't have anything interesting when it comes to diseases," Boris said, "there might be an additional victim or survivor here and there, but I'd say those fluctuations are fairly insignificant."

"Not to the people who live, when before they would have died," Dan said.

"True," Boris allowed, I am speaking of pariotric significance, of course. I, too, have a hard end date. It looks to be about 1995."

"Perhaps we're zeroing in," Carmen said.

"Why does everyone use the old-fashioned dates?" Dan asked.

"It's so that we're used to it when we go out on missions," Sheilagh explained, "a star date doesn't mean much to the people of 1635."

"I suppose not."

"Holy cow today is shaping up to be quite a day!" HD exclaimed. He projected his PADD image onto the wall.

"This just in," Anchorman Troy Scott said, looking a little worried, "a mob has boarded the USS Saint Eligius. As our viewers may know, the Eligian Order makes over forty percent of the wine we consume every day. Here's the footage that we have."

The shot shifted to the scene of a riot. Monks in red robes attempted to calm angry, drunken men and women, who were stealing or tearing apart anything they could find. A middle-aged monk was calling for order and no one was listening to him. A tall man of African descent was in front of a larger than ordinary cargo container, and was chopping away at it with an axe when the picture went black.

"And that's all we've got." Troy Scott said.

Carmen and Boris both looked up. "He's familiar. The monk, that is," she said, pointing. "That one." She was indicating the one who was ineffectually calling for order.

"I think that's – do you recall the medical candidate who died? You and I had to go and tell her father. I could swear that is him," Boris said.

"And that guy with the axe," Sheilagh said, "I think that's Anthony Parker."

"G-I-U-S, of course!" HD exclaimed. "The tat! You remember, we had pictures of Parker, and in one of them, you could see part of a tat. It was the name Eligius!"

"Who are you all talking about?" Polly asked.

"One of the operatives from the other side was killed a few months ago – that guy Parker. There were a few photographs; HD got some from a friend who met Parker during a music competition. Anyway, one of the photos showed the tattoo that HD is talking about." Rick said.

"And you might recall, there was a shuttle crash on the day we held the group interview," Carmen said, "and Helen Walker was killed. Boris and I paid a call on her father, in order to tell him in person. And that call was on the USS Saint Eligius, where he's a monk."

"So this is that man, eh? What an interesting coincidence for an alternate timeline," Marisol commented, hiding her concern.

"This is no mere coincidence." Carmen said.


No time to search the world around
Cause you know where I'll be found
When I come around

-- Green Day (When I Come Around)

Honk if you love silence.

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#8 jespah



    Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 08:43 AM

I heard it all before
So don't knock down my door
I'm a loser and a user so I don't need no accuser
to try and flag me down because I know you're right
So go do what you like
Make sure you do it wise
You may find out that your self-doubt means nothing
was ever there

-- Green Day (When I Come Around)


The axe went through, and the wall of Otra's prison finally shattered. "What the –?" said the man who'd been wielding the axe, the moment he saw her.

"Please don't hurt me," Otra said, blinking and stepping out tentatively into the light. The other rioters stopped what they had been doing and just stared.

"It's a Witannen," one of the rioting women spat out.

"No, there's no wings," said the guy with the axe, "You're half, right?"

"Yes," Otra said, "I am a prisoner here."

"Not anymore," said the guy with the axe, "I'm Anthony. Come with me."


A few hours had passed, and they were still in the conference room, still clicking away on PADDs and murmuring to themselves or to each other.

"You mind if I switch to looking at music?" HD asked.

"Well …." Carmen hesitated.

"We've had musical temporal shifts before," Rick pointed out.

"Yeah, there was Dark Side of the Moon," HD said.

"And Holly, Richardson and Valens, too," Rick added.

"All right," Carmen conceded, "but start back from about 1995, all right? Let's try not to go on any wild goose chases."

"Do you see that?" Tom asked Dan.

"Yeah, I guess so. That's it, eh?"

"Oh, yeah, that's definitely it," Tom said, "uh, Carmen? I think we've found the big one."

"Do tell."

"I had the idea, since conventional warfare seemed to be accounted for, to maybe look at unconventional warfare," Tom said.

"Guerilla warfare?" Crystal asked.

"Terrorist attacks, actually," Tom replied, "so I thought about the time period and I first decided to look at 9/11."

"And we did find there were some different victims. There's more dead, five switched around so that they were replaced with a different set of five and one less injured person," Dan said.

"So they went after 9/11?" Deirdre asked.

"No, I'm thinking, definitely not," Sheilagh said, "it's too close to the original history."

"Give that gal a cigar," Dan said, mockingly pronouncing it seegar.

"We decided that, if the other side wanted to wipe out the event known as 9/11 that they would've probably done a better job of that," Tom said, "but we saw references in the original history to 9/11 being the worst attack on American soil since 1995."

"There's 1995 again," Crystal said.

Polly clicked around on her PADD. "Oklahoma City."


Anthony bundled Otra into a stolen monk's robe, and put the hood over her head. Her chavecoi threatened to give her away but they, too, had been weakened, and so they mainly stayed still.

He got her onto his shuttle, and broke away from the Eligius's docking clamps, "Hungry?" he asked, just before jumping to Warp.

"Yes – for anything other than plomeek broth," she said.

"No wonder you're so thin. Replicator's over to the side; this ship is an older design. But don't worry; we can outrun anyone out to bother us."

"Why are you being so kind to me?" Otra asked, as she got herself a glass of orange juice and then drank it as if it were liquid gold.

"I don't like seeing anyone oppressed," he said, "I don't care that you're part-Witannen. You still don't need to be kept in a box."

"Anthony," she said, "where are we going?"

"A bunch of us, we're trying to break away from, uh, well, from the Witannen hegemony. First order of business is to get sober."

"But why were you raiding a winemaking facility?"

"There's money there, Otra. And the humans, who run it, like that Milt Walker guy? He clothes himself in piety when all he's doing is making a buck. Several, really. And now they're artificially restricting the supply. The people are so addicted, they'll pay anything. They got us by the short hairs. Uh, short chavecoi. Uh, you know what I mean."

Otra laughed a little at that, "I do."

"So we figure, if we take out the facility as well as we can, there really will be a shortage. We might be able to tip a lot more people to sobriety."

"Drying out on a grand scale will not be pretty."

"Truer words were never spoken. Oh, to answer your question – we are going to Berren Five, and one reason is to stay away from so many people who are about to get the DTs. I've got friends there, and you can hide. They won't ask questions. You know, about you being part-Witannen."

"Anthony," Otra said, "I, uh, you should know this. I can see temporal alternatives."

"What are those?" he then saw a ship off the port side. "Can you fire disruptors?"

"Show me targeting and triggering."

"Here and here. We've got someone on our tail. May or may not need to fire, but we do need to go fast."

The ship rattled a little as it reached its maximum speed. "Temporal alternatives?" he pressed.

"Oh, yeah. Whenever a timeline is changed, I can see what happens, and what changes. The big things, that is. It's why I was kidnapped in the first place."

"I don't get it," he fiddled with controls, "we're at top speed. If we're fired upon, well, you know what to do, I think."

"More or less." She fired, retargeted, and fired again.

"So, uh, temporal alternatives – tell me about them," he said, once the firing had ceased.


"It's another plane crash," HD said.

"Holly, Richardson and Valens all over again?" Carmen asked.

"No, it's not them, and it's later and it doesn't do as much. Here, look at this," he projected a picture of long-haired musicians onto the conference room's wall. "This is Lynyrd Skynyrd."

"Which one?" asked Levi.

"Uh, they all are," HD explained, "Lynyrd Skynyrd is the name of the group."


"As I was saying, there was a plane crash in, um, October of 1977, on the twentieth. Some of the members of the band were killed, including the lead singer. It had something to do with the fueling of the plane."

"Go on," Carmen prompted.

"And in the original history, the album that they had released just before then, it sells a lotta copies."

"Morbid fascination?" asked Boris.

"Probably," HD said, "not that they didn't have fans before. But the new reality is that they don't die. As a result, they sell fewer albums, and they make fewer, too."

"How could they make more albums if half of them were dead?" asked Sheilagh.

"Were these posthumous releases?" Marisol inquired.

"No, they got a new lead singer," HD explained, "I mean; I dunno if death turned out to be a positive career move for them. I'd like to think it wasn't, but the sales figures don't lie."

Rick remembered something Milena had said to him. "It's a red herring."

"Yeah, I think you're right," HD agreed, "it's like it's just a distraction."

"I imagine that's so," Carmen said. She sighed. "It's probably designed to keep someone like you busy, and off the main missions. Hard to say why you, in particular, are being singled out, Mister Avery. Have you any ideas?"


"Let's do this," Carmen said, "It'll be three missions. This one will be just you, Mister Avery. The other two will be – and it amuses me to say this – but I think it'll be the boys against the girls. The boys will go to Oklahoma City. My understanding is that the main bomber there is something of a fanatic. It's, it's not that I don't trust any of you to defend yourselves. It's that I think that the main Oklahoma City bomber – Timothy McVeigh – I think he'll accept men trying to join his cause a bit more readily than women. So the women will handle the Philippines."


"Yes, temporal alternatives," Otra said, "I, uh, I don't say this to be alarmist, but this is not the correct timeline."

"No? Huh. That's a strange thing to hear," Anthony said.

"In the correct history, well, for one thing, my mother's people aren't keeping everyone drunk and stupid and oppressed. I mean, uh, why are they?"

"I guess you wouldn't know. It, uh, back in 2368, the Borg overran us. Humans fought, so did everyone in the Federation, naturally. It was the Witannen who saved us. And in return, they exacted a tribute."

"It's a pretty heavy price, particularly if you've been paying it for nearly 750 years."

"Well, I think people are figuring, better the Witannen than the Borg. But right now, sorry, but I don't see too much of an improvement."


"So, three on three?" Sheilagh asked.

"Hmm?" Carmen was a little distracted.

"If it's boys against the girls, then it's Tom, Rick and Dan; and Polly, Marisol and me, right?"

"That's right. Marisol, are you up for a jaunt?"


"Very well. Thomas, you'll be in charge of the Oklahoma City operation and will take Jack. Sheilagh, you'll run the Philippines mission and will take Fluxy. And HD, well, you're on your own. Take the Audrey II. Crystal, uh, please get HD going first. He should be rather fast, I am thinking. Then work on the Oklahoma City clothes. Boris, we'll have the Wells here in case, well, hopefully we won't need to use it for anything."

Everyone stared, a tad shell-shocked.

"C'mon, people! Let's go! Let's go!"


You can't go forcing something if it's just
not right

-- Green Day (When I Come Around)

Edited by jespah, 15 August 2011 - 10:49 AM.

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#9 jespah



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Posted 15 August 2011 - 11:00 AM

No time to search the world around
Cause you know where I'll be found
When I come around

-- Green Day (When I Come Around)


"So this is the wrong timeline," Anthony turned that over in his head before he added, "do you know what happens to me? In your so-called correct timeline, that is. Forgive me, but I'm a bit of a skeptic."

Otra sighed. "Anthony Parker, in my timeline, you were killed by a faction that's looking to bend time to its own purposes."

"Prepare to land," he said, "I, uh, I guess it's in your best interests to restore your own personal timeline. I'm sure you can see where I would disagree."


"1977," Crystal said to HD, "let's see, jeans have a bit of flair below the knee. Let's add cowboy boots, nothing too fancy, a plaid flannel shirt and a tee shirt underneath. Hair should be, well, it can be a bit long."

"Maybe not too long," HD said, "it's still the South. Kind of a pity Grant's not going on this one."

"He's got much bigger fish to fry," Crystal said.



"Let's talk about McVeigh," Tom said. Dan and Rick sat in his office with him.

"Looks like he gets his bomb recipe from a book called The Turner Diaries," Rick said, "there's lots of good info. He left pretty detailed information, and a lot of it seems to be in the master time file."

"That's a convenient file to have," Dan commented.

"It's a huge advantage over the other side," Rick said.

"Have they, uh, tried to take it?" Dan asked, although of course he already knew the answer to that one.

"Yep," Tom said, "uh, McVeigh?"

"Yeah," Dan said, "it looks like he's got some ties to white supremacists and even attended a Klan rally, but the ties are fairly loose. It's mainly mutual fear and distrust of the United States government."

"What he's really cheesed about is the federal government's botched raid on the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas in 1993," Rick explained, "it was, uh, there were families there. It had something to do with an attempt by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to serve a search warrant, I think. It's fairly complex, and I admit I skimmed through some of the minutiae. But the bottom line is that there was a standoff between the Branch Davidians and the ATF. It all culminated in a fire at the Waco compound, and women and children were killed. Attorney General Janet Reno ended up taking a lotta heat for that, and it fueled resentment in all sorts of splinter groups that had already decided that the Feds were up to no good."

"I wonder why he picked April," Dan said.

"The ATF raid on the Branch Davidians was in April, and it ended on the nineteenth," Rick pointed out.

"There are also the battles of Lexington and Concord," Tom stated, "and the firing upon Fort Sumter."

"He was that much of a history buff?" Dan asked, incredulous.

"It says here that he picked the nineteenth in order to coincide with the anniversary of Waco," Rick stated.

"And in the new reality, the nineteenth is just another ordinary day. Not just in Oklahoma City, but everywhere, pretty much," Dan said.

"We need to look earlier," Tom concluded, "where does the new trail on McVeigh end?"

He, Rick and Dan clicked around on PADDs for a while. "I've got his Army discharge," Rick said, "it's still December thirty-first of 1991, and then he's out of the Reserves in May of 1992, same date as in the original."

"And he's in the 1990 Census," Dan said, "but he's not in the 2000 Census. In the original, he was. He was in prison, but he was counted. So he's gone, somewhere between May of 1992 and December thirty-first of 1999, I reckon."

"Looks like he still went to Waco to protest," Rick said, "and that was March of 1993. Uh, the siege ended later, but the record – a student member of the press taped him – that part's still the same as in the original. But there are no prison records; he doesn't go back to the Army, nothing like that."

"We need to get more granular," Tom said, "I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that the other side – what did Carmen say they were callin' themselves?"

"The Perfectionists," Rick replied.

"What an odd name," Dan said, and filed that away for later. He knew that Section 31 must have told them – Carmen would not have otherwise known the name of his organization.

"Yeah, pretty arrogant, eh?" Tom said, "But back to granularity. We gotta do better than this. We can't be chasin' McVeigh around for years."


They were greeted by a Ferengi and two Gorn. "What the hell are ya doing, bringing that one here?" snarled one of the Gorn and indicating Otra.

"She was a prisoner," Anthony said, "Walker had her for some reason or another."

Otra, for her part, wasn't listening. Instead, she kept tapping her left ear. "Otra to Calavicci. Otra to Daniels. Otra to O'Connor…."


"Hmm, 1983," Crystal murmured, "Looks like knee-length skirts, structured jackets. Hair's kinda puffy. Low heels are good. Leggings and long tees if you go casual – casualwear is a lot of long over thin. Wear makeup and hose, too."

"Are you sure this will be comfortable in the Philippines in August?" Marisol asked, frowning.

"It probably won't be great," Crystal admitted, "but it'll be accurate."


"What are you doing?" Anthony asked.

"Oh, yes, I've forgotten. Not everyone has an implanted Communicator," Otra said.

"Here, uh, this is definitely against my better judgment, but try mine."

"Thanks. I'd like to speak with Richard Daniels, please, uh, on the USS Adrenaline."

"There is no such ship."


There was a door chime. "Uh, come on in," Tom said.

It was Sheilagh, "Crystal says you can come over whenever you like."

"Ah, good." He went back to what he was doing. The other two men didn't even look up.

"Something wrong?"

"We need some granularity," Rick explained, "We've got more than a full year to look at, and can't figure out how to break it down at all."

"Well, isn't there money in the 1990s?" she asked.

"Yes, but what does that have to do with anything?" Dan asked.

"No, it makes sense," Tom said, "isn't there a motel where they stayed before the bombing?"

Rick clicked around. "Dreamland Motel, Junction City, Kansas – it was, uh, they checked in on April fourteenth. There's the bill that McVeigh paid, under the alias Robert Kling."

"Got him," Tom said, "so we're goin' to the fourteenth."

"Then you'd better get yourselves some clothes," Sheilagh said, "see you when you get back."

She left, and stopped at HD's office, too. "You ready?"

"Yep. My first solo!"

"Well, good luck. I know you can do it."

"Uh, thank you. I, um, I was wondering."

"Yeah, HD?"

"Hmm, uh, maybe let's talk when the line's restored, okay? I, uh, I probably shouldn't be distracted."

"That's probably a good idea. Catch you on the flip side," she said, and he watched her go, enjoying the sight of her walking away.


No time to search the world around
Cause you know where I'll be found
When I come around
When I come around
When I come around
When I come around

-- Green Day (When I Come Around)

Edited by jespah, 16 August 2011 - 09:58 AM.

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#10 jespah



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Posted 16 August 2011 - 10:11 AM

Once upon a midnight dearie
I woke with something in my head
I couldn't escape the memory
Of a phone call and of what you said
Like a game show contestant with a parting gift
I could not believe my eyes
When I saw through the voice of a trusted friend
Who needs to humor me and tell me lies
Yeah humor me and tell me lies
And I'll lie too and say I don't mind
And as we seek so shall we find
And when you're feeling open I'll still be here
But not without a certain degree of fear
Of what will be with you and me
I still can see things hopefully

-- Blues Traveler (Run Around)


"No such ship? Oh, um, thank you," Otra closed the borrowed Communicator and mutely handed it back to Anthony.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"No, it's, well, this is an alternate. So the ship was named something else, or maybe the Commission isn't on a ship at all. Perhaps it's on a planet or a moon."

"Maybe it doesn't exist at all," offered Anthony.

"No, it exists. And so do I."

"That's obvious."

"What I mean is, uh, do you mind if I get more to eat? Walker kept me near starvation most of the time."

"Of course. We don't have anything fancy that hasn't come out of a replicator," he said.

"That's fine, and thank you. You're being so kind, and, well, I don't suppose that restoring the original timeline will do either of us much good."

"Won't you still be here?"

"I don't think so," Otra said, then addressed the replicator, "Chinese steamed vegetarian dumplings, with low salt soy sauce on the side. Make them extra gingery," she looked back at Anthony, "I cannot tell you how much I was craving them."

"I can imagine. Tell me, how do you know that this, this Commission is still in existence?"

"There's a temporal field. The Commission and its employees are all protected. This way, if we mess up enough in order to blow away our own families, we can also work to fix the problem," she smiled wryly, "I don't even have to look. I'm sure that my parents never married in this new reality."

"Hmm, if you can't get through to the ship, try the individuals."

"Most of the names are too common. O'Connor, Katzman, Daniels – even Cavendish is common enough." She paused. "Wait; there are a few I could try. May?" She eyed the Communicator again, with almost as much desire as she eyed the dumplings.


"I'd like to speak with Carmen Calavicci."

"Location?" came the response.

"Is there more than one?"

"Checking." A pause. "Connecting you to the only one now."


All three time ships left, one after the other. First the Audrey II, then the Flux Capacitor and, finally, the Jack Finney lifted off. Carmen, Kevin, Levi, Deirdre, Boris and Crystal watched them go.

"I really don't like this alternate," Carmen said, "it seems worse than a lot of the others we've seen lately."

"'Do you imagine the other side knows how badly they erred?" Boris asked.

"I don't know. And they're called The Perfectionists. At least, that's what Section 31 says. But I don't know if I can believe the Section's intelligence. After all, they still can't find Otra." There was a Communications trill in her ear.


"This is a fast ship," Dan said. There was an instrument panel on the Jack Finney, and it showed the year. They were already back to 2916.

"Yeah, they keep getting better," Rick said, "Levi designed the original Audrey Niffenegger, and she was slow. That was back when I was the only Temporal Agent in the group, and we didn't have the Perfectionists on our tail."

"Who was in the department then?" asked Dan.

"Me, Carmen, Boris, Levi and Kevin," Rick said, "oh, and Otra."

"What was she like?" Dan asked.

"Not was, is," Tom corrected him, "she's a sweet lady. I don't wanna believe she's dead unless I see some proof. Rounding 2900."


There was horribly, crackly static. "Carmen!" Otra yelled, trying to make herself heard and understood.

"What?" Carmen yelled back. "Who is this?"

"This is Otra! When the timeline comes back, I'll be a prisoner on the USS Saint Eligius! Milton Walker has me!"

Carmen only heard a few stray sounds – time, prison, Saint? "Please repeat! You're breaking up badly!"

"This is Otra! Milton Walker kidnapped me!"

All that Carmen heard was something that sounded like is-walk-E.

Otra closed the connection. "What's causing so much interference?"

"Communications technology – maybe it's not as good as what you've got, or it's somehow incompatible," Anthony guessed.

"Anthony! We got Witannen fighter ships closing in!" yelled the Ferengi, "You never should have brought her here." His mouth hardened as he glared at Otra.


"What was that all about?" asked Crystal.

"I don't know. Something about time and a prison, I am guessing," Carmen said.

"Maybe it was about Otra," Boris offered.

"Huh. Perhaps. But this is an alternate. So unless I was hearing from Otra herself – and there's no way of knowing that – it may very well change once the line is restored. Still, it may be a lead. Actually, Boris, come with me."

They walked to Carmen's office. She shut the door behind them. "Start checking prisons once the line is restored. But keep it on the QT."


"I have my thoughts about how Otra was grabbed."

"I see." he said, "Carmen, are you pleased with my work performance?"

She was taken aback a bit at the question. "Of course; why do you ask?"

"I just, I wonder at times, whether things are secure."

"Of course they are. Don't be silly," she was perhaps a little too dismissive of his concerns.

"It is, Carmen, we both know I am here because of my wife's connections. Other doctors could, I suspect, be better."

"But other doctors aren't here, and you have been, for over a decade," she said, "look, Boris; I know you must be concerned about Darragh being wiped in the current reality. But we'll get her back. Your wife is not gone. Now, if you'll excuse me."

"Yes, yes, of course."


Boris had reason to worry, but it had less to do with Darragh, his wife, than it did with Marisol, his erstwhile mistress. She was beginning to turn the screws on him, and he didn't like it one bit.

It was little things, like her spending extra time with Polly, who was a friend of Darragh's. And now those two were on a mission together! He didn't kid himself; the Flux Capacitor wasn't going to get to 1983 immediately. Once the women had finished talking about the mission, the conversation was going to turn. His heritage – part human, part Klingon and part Xindi sloth – made him more than a little bit paranoid. He was certain that they were going to talk about him.

And there was more. Marisol had been available, oh so available, for all sorts of sexual mischief, and had been so for close to seven years. He'd enjoyed dalliances under and on top of desks, in the lab, and even in the courtyard garden in the very heart of the USS Adrenaline – in the middle of the night, of course. And that didn't even take into account bunk sharing, motels with don't ask, don't tell policies, and the love nest where he had set her up, on Cardassia.

Now that was all gone, and she had cut him off, without so much as a by your leave. Her feelings, if she had ever had any for him – and he was beginning to suspect that she had never had any – had been turned off like a switch. His, on the other hand, had been all too real, and he was left feeling confused, bereft and lonely. He could never talk to Darragh about anything even remotely connected to the affair – he barely shared any feelings with her at all, even though they had been married for over ten years. With Darragh wiped out in the new reality, he felt even more abandoned. Talking to Polly, a trained psychologist, was out of the question. He figured, despite the therapist-patient privilege, that anything he said to her would be nearly immediately blabbed to Darragh once the original timeline was restored.


Carmen sat in her office and sighed. Had that really been Otra? She tapped her left ear a couple of times to engage the Communicator that was permanently implanted behind and within her left ear.

"I'd like to call back my last caller," she said.


On the Flux Capacitor, Sheilagh, Marisol and Polly sat together. Sheilagh was piloting. "What do we know about Aquino?" she asked.

"He goes back to the Philippines wearing a bullet-proof vest. And he even foolishly mentions to someone – a reporter, I think – that he can still be killed by a gunshot to the head. And that's exactly what happens to him in the original history," Polly said.

"That was very foolish," Marisol said, "although any good assassin would know that. He made it easier for them; they didn't have to waste their time trying to hit him in the torso."

"That's an interesting perspective," Sheilagh said, "rounding 2800. What's the new reality?"

"Uh," Polly checked a PADD, "it's all the same, and there are even shots fired, but he's not hurt."

"So either the shooter's elbow is jogged, or he was made to aim differently. Or Aquino's head was somehow protected. Are there pictures from the new reality?" Sheilagh asked.

"Here," Polly punched them up on her PADD. "It looks like he's bareheaded."

"So it's the shooter," Sheilagh said.

"May I ask you to change the subject," Marisol said, "I recall that recently you had said you wanted to leave the Commission. Have you had a change of heart?"

"Really, Sheilagh?" asked Polly.

"Yeah," she smiled, "I was upset about Kent State. It seemed the height of unfairness to have to send a girl named Allison Krause off to her death."

"Well, aren't most of the others going off to do something even worse?" Marisol asked. "In the original history, in the Oklahoma City bombing, over a dozen little children are killed."

They were all silent for a moment.

"I, I don't love sending Aquino to his death," Sheilagh finally said, "and it's not that he means less than those children do. But let's just say, I'm kinda glad to be working on this mission, as opposed to that one."

"I hear ya," Polly said.


There was a communications trill. "Parker."


But you
Why you wanna give me a run-around
Is it a sure-fire way to speed things up
When all it does is slow me down

-- Blues Traveler (Run Around)

Honk if you love silence.

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#11 jespah



    Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 02:25 PM

And shake me and my confidence
About a great many things
But I've been there I can see it cower
Like a nervous magician waiting in the wings
Of a bad play where the heroes are right
And nobody thinks or expects too much
And Hollywood's calling for the movie rights
Singing hey babe let's keep in touch
Hey baby let's keep in touch
But I want more than a touch I want you to reach me
And show me all the things no one else can see
So what you feel becomes mine as well
And soon if we're lucky we'd be unable to tell
What's yours and mine the fishing's fine
And it doesn't have to rhyme

so don't you feed me a line

-- Blues Traveler (Run Around)


"So we've got McVeigh on the fourteenth," said Tom as he piloted the Jack Finney, "and then he somehow disappears between then and the nineteenth. There are no later records for him in the new reality, so far as we can tell. Unless he completely went off the grid, I gotta figure he died somewhere between the fourteenth and the nineteenth."

"In the original history," Rick read off a PADD, "he and co-conspirator Terry Nichols park a getaway truck in Oklahoma City on the sixteenth. They take the license plates off and put a note in the truck, visible through the windshield. It says something to the effect that the truck isn't abandoned, and should not be towed. It also, conveniently, hides the truck's vehicle identification number, or VIN. Then McVeigh goes back to Kansas with Nichols and they stay there until the eighteenth or early on the nineteenth."

"But we don't have him in Kansas on the eighteenth or the nineteenth in the new reality. He isn't at the motel and he isn't with Nichols," Dan said, "it's just, uh, lemme see, huh, and his last day seen at the motel is the sixteenth."

Rick clicked around on his PADD, "I don't see anything about the truck being found, or about any truck being found without plates, anywhere in the area. I am thinking that he never got to that step. I wonder if he took the truck out at all that day."

"What about Nichols? Anything on him?" asked Tom. The instrument panel on the Jack Finney read 2714.

"There's testimony in the original history about prep work being done on the truck bomb – that's not the getaway vehicle; this is a Ryder truck," explained Dan, "anyway, the testimony says that on the eighteenth, Nichols and McVeigh rigged the explosives at a lake near Herington, Kansas. The, uh, the testimony came from Nichols's wife, Marife."

"I guess she would know," Tom said, "what about in the new timeline?"

"Marife reports Nichols missing on the twenty-first," Dan said.

"She waited three days – or maybe as many as five or even seven before she said anything?" Tom asked.

"Well, she didn't exactly help her husband out with her testimony," Dan said, "maybe they were on the rocks."

"It says here," Rick said, "that McVeigh claimed that he had an affair with her."

"I wonder if she had something to do with Nichols's end, if not McVeigh's," Tom said.

Dan smiled to himself. A little misdirection was a good thing, and it was even greater when he didn't even have to suggest it.


Marife Torres Nichols had done a lousy job of testifying for the defense. Her testimony was damaging enough that it not only didn't help her husband or her putative lover – she later confirmed that, yes, she and McVeigh had been intimate in 1994 – it actually harmed them. For she had testified that Terry Nichols had been leading a double life.

A double life! Ha! That was nothing. So far as Dan was concerned, that was small potatoes, for he was up to, what? Three? Four? He had practically lost count of the number of lives he was leading.

He had been a member of Section 31 for nearly thirty years. He was fifty-six years old, so this had been for the bulk of his working life. Section 31, from before he had started working there in 3084 through to the present time of 3110, was a shadowy government agency that mainly concerned itself with internal threats to the Federation. Traitors, Borg Fifth Columnists and disgruntled radicals were all within its purview.

They had known about the Perfectionists for quite some time, but Dan wasn't initially assigned to that case. Instead, he had worked on a faction of Borg sympathizers who patrolled the Gamma Quadrant and would put out false distress calls which would lure in unsuspecting ships – and then the Borg would pounce. Dan had never known what was in it for the Borg sympathizers for, even if they were promised to be not assimilated, the Borg weren't exactly ones for keeping such promises.

But that was all in the past.

When the Perfectionists began to become more active, it was rumored that a new leader had emerged. The Section didn't know that that new leader was Milton Walker, a brother in the Eligian Order. Dan was assigned to that case, and he slowly infiltrated the organization. This included establishing trust with the inner circle and eventually being asked to sit in on their audio-only meetings.

Along the way, his mind had changed, and he found himself more than a little sympathetic with the Perfectionists' cause. He found it to be right, just and true, and the Section seemed to be just playing. In a choice between a grand philosophical cause that seemed to be fully morally justified, versus a shadowy governmental agency that just seemed to be a cover for murder and intrigue, he took, what he felt to be, the side of the angels.

And so he began to secrete his findings from Section 31, even as he got closer and closer, and learned more and more. He had even learned about the killing of Anthony Parker, a Perfectionist temporal operative who had complained one too many times.

And then Walker had contacted Dan directly, and asked him to become one of their Temporal Operatives. This time, he told the Section, and they were overjoyed that he had gotten so far and so deep into the enemy camp.

The Section then set up to have him chosen for a group interview with the Temporal Integrity Commission, and he had gone, in 3109, with Helen Walker, Tom Grant, Marisol Castillo, Crystal Sherwood, Sheilagh Bernstein, Polly Porter, HD Avery and a few others, but Carmen had not, at that point in time, seen the need to hire him.

Sympathy for the Perfectionists' cause had given him all the justification he needed to do a few little odd jobs for them. Section 31 was surprisingly easy to put off, for he could claim he was continuing to stealthily infiltrate the Perfectionists' ranks.

And then Carmen had hired him, so he began an impressive form of juggling. He lived an almost normal life as a survivalist specialist and outdoorsman, and was even friends with Tom Grant. They would occasionally go out for beers together although the appearance of Eleanor on the scene had made those trips more and more infrequent. Dan also worked for Section 31, and spent time penetrating the Perfectionists' inner circle. And, finally, he was now also working for the Temporal Integrity Commission.

As to where his true loyalties lay, they were mainly, simply, with Daniel Beauchaine. But he had a soft spot for making things right. And so, if he had to reveal it, if he had to turn over some final card to show what he really, truly felt, that card would have belonged to the Perfectionists.


HD Avery guided the Audrey II past 2100 and mused aloud. "I wish I knew why Skynyrd mattered so much to you. It's like Rock 'n Roll Heaven, I swear! I thought I was the only one who knew the words to that song, let along gave a damn about the people mentioned in it."

He took a breath and sang, a cappella, as he piloted the ship: "If you believe in forever
Then life is just a one night stand
If there's a Rock 'n Roll heaven
Well you know they've got a helluva band."

Then he stopped singing and smacked his forehead. "That's it! It's not the music at all! I still gotta do this – this still has to get put back. But there's a specific time period being targeted. Dunno what it is yet but Rick went to 1959 and Sheilagh went to 1977 and now she's going back to 1983, and Rick's off to 1995. But what's the overall connection? Where's the big picture?"

Staring him in the face was the clue, the end year for the time period that the Perfectionists were targeting, but he had no way of knowing that. On the Audrey II's instrument panel, it said 2063. The date of April fifth to be precise – when Warp Drive was first tested and humans had first contact ever with another species, the Vulcans.


But you
Why you wanna give me a run-around
Is it a sure-fire way to speed things up
When all it does is slow me down

-- Blues Traveler (Run Around)

Honk if you love silence.

Published author, Trek Citizen and not much bigger than a bread box

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#12 jespah



    Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 11:39 AM

Tra la la la la bombardier this is the pilot speaking
And I've got some news for you
It seems my ship still stands no matter what you drop
And there ain't a whole lot that you can do
Oh sure the banner may be torn and the wind's gotten colder
Perhaps I've grown a little cynical
But I know no matter what the waitress brings
I shall drink in and always be full
Yea I will drink in and always be full

-- Blues Traveler (Run Around)


While HD tried to piece together how the time period from 1959 to 1995 mattered – he didn't realize that it was really the period from 1957 to 2063 – Anthony Parker, in the new reality, was getting a lot of static on his Communicator.

"I think they called back," he said to Otra, handing the Communicator to her. "I gotta go. You get down to the basement shelter. They're gonna start bombing soon."

"C'mon, Anthony!" yelled one of the Gorn.

"I can't thank you enough," Otra said, touching Anthony's arm lightly. Then she ran down the stairs as fast as her weakened state allowed. She got into the shelter and tried the Communicator, but the static was worse than ever. Tearily, she said to no one, "Please, please, Carmen, hear me."


"What have we got on McVeigh himself?" Tom asked. The instrument panel read 2412.

"He had an honorable discharge from the Army. But earlier he was disciplined by them for going to a Ku Klux Klan rally. He also had a copy of some of the pages from The Turner Diaries in the truck with him when he was arrested," Dan explained.

"So he's a racist," Tom concluded.

"It's actually a bit unclear," Dan read off his PADD, "the guy distrusted the government, and he had ties to certain groups. He had sympathy not just for the Branch Davidians, but also for the folks at Ruby Ridge."

"Ruby Ridge? What was that?" asked Tom.

"It was, well, it was a screw up on the part of the ATF," Rick said.

"The who?" Tom asked.

"Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. It seems that Randy Weaver was the owner of several weapons and he and his wife, Vicki, thought the world was about to end," Rick read, "Weaver also associated with at least one member of the Aryan Nations."

"There's another one keeping interesting company," Tom said.

"Weaver, he had gun charges against him, and failed to appear for his court date. So a bench warrant was issued. Now, keep in mind, Weaver's getting all sorts of inconsistent messages from the ATF, the US Marshalls and his court-appointed lawyer," Rick said.

"What do the Marshalls have to do with anything?" Tom asked.

"They were ordered to bring him in as a fugitive, I think under the terms of the bench warrant. Anyway, eventually there's a confrontation on the trails near the Weaver cabin. And a Marshall is killed. Now it's really bad for the Weavers 'cause the FBI gets involved. This is on August twenty-first of 1992. The Weavers dig their heels in and refuse to budge. At some point, first their son is killed, and then Vicki is, too. Negotiations eventually ended it on August thirtieth, and by then another law enforcement agent had been killed. It was, well, it wasn't just some misunderstanding – the Weavers weren't exactly Eagle Scouts. But the whole thing spiraled horribly outta control, it seems." Rick looked up.

"Man oh man," Tom said, "so this incident, and the later one with the Branch Davidians, they both just inflamed people like McVeigh, and confirmed for them that the government, instead of being maybe just bumbling, was actively out to get 'em."

"Yep," Rick said, "it fueled every bit of paranoia in him, it seems."

"It also says here that McVeigh didn't know as much about the target building as maybe he should've," Dan said.

"How so?" inquired Tom.

"On April nineteenth, 1995, he blows up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. For him, it's a great target because there are a number of government agencies in there. But what he fails to find out is that there's also a day care center in the building."

"My God," Tom said, "what are we talkin' in terms of victims?"

"Nineteen were babies and children. Plus there were three pregnant women, but that's a different story," Dan said.

"And McVeigh didn't know that?" Rick asked, incredulous. "I find it hard to believe that he did all of the other planning but he failed to notice that."

"Well, it's what he claimed," Dan said, reading, "Fortunately for us, the original history spawned all sorts of records. He, uh, he says, while he's in jail, that if he had known there was a day care center in the building, he woulda acted as a sniper instead, and only taken out a few people, instead of blowing up an entire building."

"That's awfully generous of him," snarled Rick, "look; I don't pretend to love this mission any more than either of you presumably do. The guy was a monster. We gotta let him live, just so he can kill a bunch of little kids. This is where this job can sometimes make me sick to my stomach. I bet the Perfectionist operative who prevented this from happening is mighty proud of himself right about now." Disgusted, he walked to the back of the ship to be alone with his thoughts.

"He always like this?" asked Dan.

"No. I think this one just sorta got to him," Tom drawled, "looks like we're near 2300 already."


Carmen tapped her ear once to end the call. "Awful, awful static," she muttered. Then she heard a trill. It was Bryce Unger. "Most of my people are out," she said, "it looks like the big event was the prevention of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995."

"I wonder if that means they'll try to take out the event known as 9/11 next," Bryce mused, "actually, that's not why I'm calling."


"We've had a death. It's in the Calafan Unit. Their agent, his name was Chellewev. He died on a mission to the year we would call 53 AD."

"How awful."

"The Calafan Unit has decided not to wait for the line to be restored. They want to do the Commission memorial ceremony today. It'll be in about an hour."

"I'll get my people together," Carmen said, "we'll all be sure to attend."

"Good. And, thank you. Unger out."


The Philippines were hot and muggy. "I feel like we totally overdressed," said Polly.

"Crystal said puffy hair. It feels like she didn't need to do anything. We could've just let the humidity do all the work," Sheilagh quipped.

"What do you want us to do?" Marisol asked.

"Well, I was at the shooting at Kent State," Sheilagh said. "It has a lot to do with angles. You change the angle of a bullet and someone isn't shot at all, or they aren't hurt as badly, or someone else gets it. Or maybe the shooter even decides not to bother."

"Oh, I wouldn't know," Marisol said, although of course she did know.

"So I was thinking – and I know this is terrible – but I was thinking of just observing. And then if things go through without a hitch, then we're good to go. And, if not, we go back a day and try again," Sheilagh said.

"Won't there be two versions of us?" Polly asked.

"There is a thing called temporal integration," Marisol said, "the two versions touch and you become the younger version, but with the older version's memories."

"Younger, yet you know more, eh? Hollywood's gonna want to get a hold of that," Polly said.


Oh I like coffee
And I like tea
I'd like to be able to enter a final plea
I still got this dream that you just can't shake
I love you to the point you can no longer take
Well all right okay
So be that way
I hope and pray
That there's something left to say

-- Blues Traveler (Run Around)

Honk if you love silence.

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#13 jespah



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Posted 19 August 2011 - 10:44 AM

But you
Why you wanna give me a run-around
Is it a sure-fire way to speed things up
When all it does is slow me down

-- Blues Traveler (Run Around)


HD got to Greenville, South Carolina, right on time. It was October twentieth of 1977. "Okay, let's see," he said to himself, "the plane crash is caused because the pilot thought he had more fuel than he really did. So one engine stalls in mid-flight. Then he and the co-pilot try to move the fuel over to the other engine – the only one that's working. And they screw up. The other engine stalls. They tell the passengers that they need to get strapped in. Then they try to land at a small airfield, but they end up getting desperate and picking a swamp. There just isn't any way to get to that airfield. They end up slightly overshooting the swamp and hit a tree."

He took a breath. "Man oh man, it was just error and problem on top of error and problem, compounding them. The plane breaks into three pieces upon impact. Ronnie Van Zant, Steve and Cassie Gaines, the assistant road manager and the pilot and the co-pilot all die, either in the crash or just afterwards. Gawd." He paused for a second.

"Nearly everyone else is hurt. I think that's all of it. It's enough, certainly. So, hmm, I guess the crash was prevented – because I know that in the new reality they flew to Baton Rouge completely without incident – by someone making sure that the plane had as much fuel in it as the pilot thought it did. So I guess I gotta either prevent someone from fueling up, or drain the gas tank. Okay, I can do that."


Carmen sent a message out to everyone in the Human Unit who was around: Gather at the center courtyard in one hour. Wear your best uniform. Attendance is mandatory.

She showered and changed, and clipped her hair back from her face. She tried her Communicator one last time, but the static remained impenetrable. "I do hope that I won't be going to one of these where it'll be your name engraved on the monument, Otra," she said to herself.

For that was the nature of the ceremony. There was a stone and glass monument in the center of the USS Adrenaline, intended to bear the names of all of the Temporal Integrity Commission members killed in the line of duty. So far, it had only been engraved with one name – Eskon, a Cardassian who had been killed when he had strayed too close to an automated grain processing machine in 2482 Cardassia.

And now there would be another engraved name. She hadn't known Chellewev – most of the male Calafans kept to themselves, whereas the women were overly gregarious – but she'd seen a few of them at times. Hopefully, it would be one of the male Calafans with hair, for that would mean that Chellewev was at least thirty years old at the time of his death. For if he was younger than that, well that just seemed to be an unbearable thing.

She took one, fast look in the mirror before emerging and joining other species – Bajorans, Trill, Ferengi, Breen, all four bipedal species of Xindi, Andorians, Aenar, Gorn, Cardassians, Azezans, Betazoids, Klingons, Kazon, Tandarans, Witannen, Xryllians, Imvari, Tellarites, Romulans, Remans, Vulcans, Olathans, Suliban, Arisians – and countless others, as they made their way to stand in solidarity with the Calafan contingent.


"2041," Tom said, "time to head over to the Solar System." They had been circling Krios Prime for most of their journey. "Now, Dan, we would normally have been orbiting Dawitan until now," he explained.

"I take it we didn't because in the new reality we've got some major issues with them?" Dan asked.

"Right you are. So now we're gonna fly both spatially and temporally. Once we get to the Asteroid Belt, I'll cloak us up. We'll go into orbit around the moon, but we'll stay synchronous with the dark side. People in 1995 have telescopes – hell, they've even got Palomar and the Hubble. Even cloaked, they could catch a ripple of some sort. We can't have that happening."

"Right. Hey, uh, Rick, we're almost there!" Dan called out.

"Oh, uh, thanks." Rick came back and rejoined them. "What's the plan?"

"Find McVeigh and make sure he and Nichols do what they're supposed to," Tom said, "so we're off to Junction City, Kansas and the Dreamland Motel."


The courtyard garden was packed. The species had more or less separated themselves out into their various units. Carmen found Kevin, Deirdre and Crystal. "Where are Boris and Levi?" she asked.

"Boris is over there," Crystal pointed. "I don't see Levi yet."

"I'll have his hide if he misses this," Carmen muttered under her breath.

Bryce Unger strode to the middle of the courtyard, where there were two curved benches defining the space around the monument. "Fellow Commission members, welcome. I cannot begin to tell you how sorry I am, but also how relieved I am, in some ways, that this is only the second time that we are having a ceremony such as this. And I am proud of all of you, for being here and supporting the Calafan Unit. Our ancestors had a vision, many centuries ago, for all species in the galaxy to work and live together in harmony. That began as the Coalition of Planets, and it became the Federation. And we are together as an offshoot of the Federation, one of its crowning achievements. You, my friends, do not just talk about interspecies caring and cooperation – you live it."

He paused. "The Calafan Unit has been with us at the Commission for a long time. They were one of the first species to join. Their ability to readily pass between our universe and the mirror gives them a unique perspective, not to mention having helped many of the other Commission member species with their mirror missions. This tribute is the least we can do to thank them. And now I will turn the ceremony over to Kaiwev, the leader of the Calafan Unit."

Kaiwev was tall, coppery and had hair. He nodded to Bryce before he spoke. "I thank you all for joining in our mourning. Chellewev was from my side of the pond – the universe you call the mirror. He was, of course, a time traveler, with a specialty in military maneuvers and strategy. As many of you may know, our names have meanings that are important to us. His name breaks down to chelle, which means machine or mechanism, and wev, which is a male suffix that means master of. Hence his name meant Master of Mechanics. But he was not as mechanically inclined as our engineer, Yilta. Often, our names prove to be ironic. It is one of the jokes that we Calafans play on ourselves, I suppose. I hope that when you see his name on this monument that you will smile a little, thinking of a master of mechanics who could not tell a hyperspanner from a magnetic wrench."

He smiled a little, an encouragement to the other species. "And now I would like to call up the remainder of the Calafan Unit to assist me. We are going to sing our funerary chant committing our friend's body to our four gods: Lo, Abic, Fep and Ub. Then Yilta will carve Chellewev's name into the monument, using a hand phaser. I ask you, I hope you will turn off your Universal Translators for a moment and listen to the chant in our language. The translation will be projected onto the sides of the monument. Thank you."

The other Calafans came up. There was a silver woman with hair, and one without. A coppery woman with hair joined them, as did a pair of silver men without hair. Kevin fumbled with his implanted Communicator so as to turn the Universal Translator off.

Miva da miva
Ele da ele
Enne da enne
Dary da dary
Imspi da imspi

Ilben, cha, pran
Chellewev da Lo
Chellewev da Abic
Chellewev da Fep
Chellewev da Ub

And then he looked at the translation:

Soil to soil
Air to air
Water to water
Fire to fire
Speech to speech

Heart, faith, skies
Chellewev to Lo
Chellewev to Abic
Chellewev to Fep
Chellewev to Ub

Yilta came over – she was the silver Calafan woman who had hair, and she aimed a hand phaser at the monument. Kevin stepped back in order to give her some room and his foot turned down awkwardly. He had stepped on something strange.

He looked down. It was a pair of gardening shears.


But you
Why you wanna give me a run-around
Is it a sure-fire way to speed things up
When all it does is slow me down

-- Blues Traveler (Run Around)

Honk if you love silence.

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#14 jespah



    Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 04:20 PM

You want to tell me what this is all about?

As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I take a look at my life and realize there's not much left
Cause I've been blastin' and laughin so long that
Even my mama thinks that my mind is gone
But I ain't never crossed a man that didn't deserve it
Me, be treated like a punk, you know that's unheard of
You better watch how you talkin, and where you walkin
Or you and your homies might be lined in chalk
I really hate to trip, but I gotta loc'-
As they grew I see myself in the pistol smoke, fool
I'm the kinda G the little homies wanna be like
On my knees in the night
Sayin prayers in the street light

-- Coolio (Gangsta's Paradise)


The fact that there were gardening shears in the courtyard garden was not, of course, anything to write home about. After all, the garden was fairly large, and some of the plants needed pruning and shaping. It had all manner of flowers – roses were about to be in bloom – and even some fruits and vegetables, for the Calafans did enjoy fresh olowa fruit.

It was, Kevin realized, the shears themselves. As he had told Rick, the dark matter intake lines on three of the time ships had all been cut, and they had all been cut by a blade with some sort of notch, possibly a defect in the blade. He surreptitiously picked up the shears while the memorial service continued, as Yilta etched Chellewev's name into the side of the monument, just below Eskon's.

As he straightened up – no mean feat for a man of his size – he caught Levi's eye. Levi normally didn't look in anyone's eye, but now he was looking. Whether that was out of sympathy, or understanding, or suspicion, Kevin did not know.

The name was, finally, completely etched into the monument. Kaiwev thanked everyone again for coming, and the crowds began to disperse.

"Are ya meanin' ta do some prunin'?" came a voice, sounding Irish whiskey-soaked. It was Yilta, the female Calafan engineer who had just etched the name.

"Uh, no, I'm just going to check something," Kevin said, "Yilta, do any of your people ever do the gardening? And I mean Chellewev, too, when he was alive, did he ever do anything?"

"Just the picking of olowa fruit. We don't need to use those shears," she said, "for you mainly just have to shake an olowa tree to get the fruit. Good thing we don't try to grow tofflin."


"It's horribly invasive," she explained, "and it grows a lot like a human plant called bamboo. So it grows tall and straight and fast. It could take over the garden in about a week or so. Have ya ever tried olowa?" they were standing near the tree.

"It tastes like peanuts, right?"

"That's when it's overripe and coming close to petrifying and becoming inedible. It starts out tasting like pears, and then it moves on to tasting spicy when it's in its middle age," she twisted off a very dark purple one, "Here, this one should taste like pears."

"Um, thanks. Uh, Yilta?"


"I'm sorry for the loss of your team member."

"It's very kind of you to say," She said, "I suppose we'll get someone new to pilot the Light of Fep."

"The what?"

"That was his time ship. I built it m'self."

"Yeah, I guess when the line's restored; your unit will get someone new. We've, uh, we've hired a few people lately," he stated.

"D'ya think any of 'em are in with the people who took Otra?"

He sighed. "Possibly. I hope you realize that I really can't say anything to you about it."

"I understand. I look around a bit, though. If I observe anything, I shall let you know."

"Now I get to thank you."

"Well, we all liked Otra. But it's also, you know, it affects us all. The problems your unit is having, that is. I mean," she stood and faced him; "I suppose we all have doubts at one time or another. We have ugly bits of our history – I am certain that every species does. But to try and tweak it and do better? It just strikes me as the height o' arrogance. We are a religious people, so we know that we cannot do any better than Lo, or even Ub, the lowest of our gods. But I don't think you need to have religion in order to realize that trying to improve upon time is not only not going to work, but that it's an exercise in ego-strokin' and nothin' more."

"Exactly," Kevin said, "they're doing what we call playing God."

"Ah, we call it putting on Lo's face. And no one should do that, but Lo herself."

"I, uh, I gotta go analyze this. And, again, I'm sorry."


In Manila, Marisol left them briefly, claiming that nature called. Sheilagh didn't even bother to ask why she hadn't just done that while they were still on Fluxy. Marisol was … odd. That much was true by all accounts.

What Polly and Sheilagh didn't know was that Marisol was able to find the shooter and keep him aimed properly. That was all that was needed. For Marisol, it didn't matter whether Aquino lived or died. It didn't even matter that much to her whether the Perfectionists succeeded, save that her lot was with them, and not with the Commission. To see the Commission, ultimately, fail – in particular, Boris Yarin – was all she really wanted. The rest of it was window dressing. So, in the meantime, if she had to make the Commission look good, she would do so. That was fine, for she could readily see the big picture.

It was, ironically enough, perhaps the easiest mission that Sheilagh had ever been on – and that included the vacation to 1960 Rome that she had taken with Rick. They got in, they waited for the shooting to begin, and it did. And, as in the original history, the bullet found its target – Benigno Aquino's head. He died, as before, and they were in the clear.

The three of them walked away from the carnage and no one even noticed in the panic. It was a simple matter to beam back to the Flux Capacitor.

Once back onboard, Sheilagh said, "That was a total diversion. What did Rick call it?"

"A red herring," Polly answered, "Uh, do you mind if I pilot? I should practice."

"Oh, sure, go ahead. I doubt we can round Dawitan yet, so go back to circling Krios Prime once we're out of the Solar System, okay?"

"Sure thing."

"I suppose we could have stayed at home, or at least two of us could have," Marisol said, yawning.

"Maybe," Sheilagh said, "still, this needed to be done. A bit of temporal mopping up, I guess. I think the guys have the worst of it. I can't imagine what they've gotta do in Oklahoma City."

"I don't really want to think about that one," Polly said, "it's dead children and all."

"But why not think about it?" Marisol pressed, "Isn't it an important question?"

"Well, sure," Sheilagh said, "but we have very specific things that we have to do. And, sadly, saving a bunch of small children just isn't one of them, unless it coincides with the original timeline."

"That timeline is tyrannical," Marisol complained, "all we ever do is follow it. What if it isn't the correct one, after all?"

"I don't understand you," Polly said, "ah, look, 2063, the year of first contact with the Vulcans. Setting a course for Krios Prime and decloaking."

"Don't you think that maybe we could be restoring the wrong things? After all, so much is so wrong. It's so unjust," Marisol said, "yet all we do is put it back, all of these horrible things. Perhaps Aquino was meant to survive."

"My family is wiped, Marisol," Polly said, a little testily, "that's all I need to know about whether we're putting back the right time. Ship's running a little hot, Sheilagh. We should get it checked out when we get back."

"I'll have Kevin or Deirdre look at it," Sheilagh replied.


Been spending most our lives living in the Gangsta's Paradise
Been spending most our lives living in the Gangsta's Paradise
Keep spending most our lives living in the Gangsta's Paradise
Keep spending most our lives living in the Gangsta's Paradise

-- Coolio (Gangsta's Paradise)

Honk if you love silence.

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#15 jespah



    Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 10:12 AM

They got the situation, they got me facin'
I can't live a normal life; I was raised by the strip
So I gotta be down with the hood team
Too much television watchin' got me chasin' dreams
I'm an educated fool with money on my mind
Got my ten in my hand and a gleam in my eye
I'm a loc'ed out gangsta, set-trippin banger
And my homies is down, so don't arouse my anger, fool
Death ain't nothin' but a heartbeat away
I'm livin life do-or-die-a, what can I say?
I'm twenty-three now, but will I live to see twenty-four?
The way things are goin' I don't know

-- Coolio (Gangsta's Paradise)


HD watched the plane in Greenville. It wasn't very exciting work, but he had to smile a little to himself. The glamorous world of a Temporal Agent! All of the honeys should've been lining up to – to do what, exactly? Watch him watch a plane and make sure no one stuck a fuel line into it?

It was still 1977. That was something; at least it wasn't 3110. And he was within spitting distance of a few rock 'n roll legends, during the last moments of their lives. But it was, he had to admit, kinda dull. He knew, deep down, that this mission was just some form of distraction from the main one, to Oklahoma City. And he had taken the job in the first place because he wanted to play instruments and sing, and do it for the good of the timeline, or at least for the good of historians. And instead he was stuck with babysitting an airplane. At least it wasn't snowing, like he knew it had been when Rick had gone to Clear Lake, Iowa on February third of 1959.

Thank God for small favors, he thought to himself as he continued to watch the plane and, eventually, saw the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd get on it and fly off to their destiny.


Otra saw a fast vision – the wine turned from red to white. That was all.


On his way back to 3110, HD threw the Audrey II into auto and dictated his report.

"I went to October twentieth of 1977 as instructed, and I made sure that the band called Lynyrd Skynyrd got onto an airplane with insufficient fuel. I watched the plane before departure, and no one attempted to add fuel to its tanks. I then watched the passengers get onto the plane, and saw the plane take off. I confirmed the success of the mission by heading to October twenty-first of 1977 and checking news broadcasts and newspaper headlines. I was able to confirm that Ronnie Van Zant and others were killed, as in the original history. I consider this mission to be completed."

He thought for a moment. "I would like to add a theory I am starting to develop. The music missions, I feel, don't matter at all. Sure, like any other pariotric changes, they have to be corrected, but they are, so far as I can tell, solely designed to act as distractions. I don't think I am, in particular, being singled out. I think it's just that the Perfectionists have had success with these kinds of missions, in terms of getting us to split our focus."

He took a breath. "My theory is also that there is some sort of a time period being targeted. Rick went to 1959, and now he and Tom and Dan are going to 1995. I don't know if that's the full scope of the time period. I also don't know why that time period was chosen. Is it because it's the last half of the twentieth century, or the last fifty years of the second millennium? I am open to suggestions as to what the time period means. I hope this theory is of help. Signed, Henry Desmond Avery IV."


"I don't doubt that you have good reason to feel that it is the right timeline," Marisol said to Polly, "but what about you, Sheilagh? Your family is intact. For you, either timeline could feel correct."

"Well, it's the other things," Sheilagh said, "You forget there's the issue of tribute being paid to Dawitan. Do you honestly think that's the way things are supposed to turn out?"

"But if you did not know that," Marisol said, "let's say we didn't fix," she made air quotes when saying that last word, "the timeline, and instead just let it go. What if it all fixes itself in 3111?"

"You mean, without our intervention?" Polly asked.

"Precisely!" Marisol said, "I mean, if the ending is happy either way, can you not suffer the little children so that they may live?"


Kevin took a scan of the shears' blades and checked it against the patterns he'd found on the cut dark matter fuel intake lines from the HG Wells, the Flux Capacitor and the Jack Finney.

There was no doubt. The notch matched. He held in his hands the perpetrator's tool.


In the basement, on Berren Five, Otra felt another slight change in time, but it, too, wasn't enough to send her back into her cell on the USS Saint Eligius.

The change was almost comical in its simplicity, for now the addictive wine made by the Eligian Order was no longer white. It was back to red.


The three of them beamed down into Junction City, Kansas, behind a dumpster. "The glamorous life of the Temporal Agent," Rick quipped.

They walked over to the Dreamland Motel. The desk clerk looked them over cautiously. "We, uh, did we need reservations?" Tom asked.

"Ain't no one's needed reservations here since 1987."

"Oh, um, okay. We'll take a room then," Tom replied.

"Cash or credit?"

"Cash," Rick said, pulling out a wallet.

The clerk's eyes widened. "Then let me be the first to welcome you fellers to Junction City."


The Audrey II wasn't originally intended to be HD's time ship. It was actually supposed to become Marisol's, so it wasn't tricked out for him.

HD knew that it wasn't polite to snoop around. But he was bored and had quite a ways to go. And he knew nearly nothing about Marisol.

The bathroom contained all sorts of hair care products – things he had no idea that he, somehow, needed. But then in the bedroom, on the nightstand – not in the drawer, but right on top and in full view – there was an article that he was all too familiar with as a singer. He picked it up and turned it over once, then turned it on, and spoke into it. His voice was instantaneously transformed into a flat, accentless, genderless one, "What are you doing with a Voice Masker, Marisol?"


On the USS Saint Eligius, Milton Walker had finally restored order. He went into the cargo hold to check on Otra, and found her prison destroyed, and the cell abandoned. Not even caring whether any of the monks saw or heard him, he opened a channel.

He checked for Marisol and Dan, but neither of them were answering – neither of them were in 3110. Then he tried his other agents, and got through. "We need to restore the line. Otra's gone missing in the new reality."


Otra, for her part, was still in the basement. The bombing continued, but it wasn't looking too good down there, either. She heard the sound of a shuttle landing, and ran up to greet it. It was Anthony's shuttle, and it was burning.

She managed to get the hatch open and he was in there, but he was also bleeding badly, "I, I can't do any more for you," he barely gasped.

"It's all right."

"Take the hand phaser. Maybe you'll, you'll be able to keep it when the line is put back," his voice was fading.

"I'll never forget you," she said, and he was gone.


There were two guys with a Ryder truck in the motel parking lot. They were talking about something, fairly animatedly. One of them was somewhat average-sized, with brown, thinning hair and glasses. The other one was taller and skinny, with high cheekbones and a reddish-brown crew cut.

"I do believe those are our boys," Dan said.

Rick nodded. "Tilt your right ear a little in their direction. I've found that helps to pick up faint sounds. We should be able to hear their conversation from here."

All three of them had significant physical enhancements, courtesy of the Commission. This included acute, discriminating hearing. It didn't give them ears for music – only HD had that, and he had had it before – but it did make it possible to hear noises above and below the normal range of human hearing, and at a volume that most people would not have been able to pick apart from background noise. And so they were able to hear the conversation perfectly.

"And I am telling you, Terry, I wouldn't do anything, but she came onto me."

"Marife told me you bothered her," Terry replied, "Tim, you can't stay at my home no more."

"She's lyin'."

"She wouldn't lie about something like that."

"Oh c'mon, Terry. Look, this is pointless. We gotta get the truck set up. You got the fertilizer?"


Tell me why are we, so blind to see
That the ones we hurt, are you and me

-- Coolio (Gangsta's Paradise)

Honk if you love silence.

Published author, Trek Citizen and not much bigger than a bread box

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#16 jespah



    Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 10:54 AM

Been spending most our lives living in the Gangsta's Paradise
Been spending most our lives living in the Gangsta's Paradise
Keep spending most our lives living in the Gangsta's Paradise
Keep spending most our lives living in the Gangsta's Paradise

-- Coolio (Gangsta's Paradise)


HD got back from his mission first. "Carmen, uh, can I talk to you?" he asked via Communicator.

"Of course."

He came over to her office. "I wrote my report. I just wanna reiterate what's in it."

"I haven't read it yet, but, uh, go ahead anyway," she said.

"The music missions are useless. I mean, they gotta be done; they gotta be fixed, just like anything else. But I don't think the Perfectionists give a damn about what happens with music and musicians."

"Do you believe that you're being set aside for some reason or another?"

"I don't think so – I don't kid myself that they think I'm some huge temporal talent, except in music. What I mean is …."

"If I understand you, Mister Avery, what you mean is that you're no super-agent. And that's all right. You're not expected to be. But you're right; they seem to be splitting you off. Do you suppose that both of the side missions could've been accomplished by one person?" she asked.

"You mean me?"

"Or it could be anyone with experience, say, Sheilagh or Tom."

"Hmm," he thought for a second. "Yes. Frankly, I don't think we even need as many time ships as we've got. We, uh, we seem to be getting one main mission and one or two diversions."

"I suspect that that's right. So that actually tells me something fairly valuable," she said, "they may or may not have people here. I don't love that prospect, but I have to acknowledge that it's a possibility. But, the fact that there are never more than maybe two side missions tells me – they don't have more than three temporal operatives who aren't working here as moles."

"So their staff is small."

"Well, their traveling staff is. I imagine that's convenient, and helps them to keep their secrets," she stated.

"Who do you think is in here as a mole?" he asked.

"I'm unsure."


Carmen was unsure, but that didn't stop her from speculating. Once HD had left her office, she opened up a file she kept for just such purposes. It was called Possibilities.

"Hmm, now, let's see. When I last looked," she said to herself, "Kevin, Rick and I were all off the hook. Levi and Von were the most likely suspects, at least insofar as the damage to the three time ships was concerned. Boris was half and half. Marisol was not outside the realm of possibility. As for the others, I couldn't tell." She sighed.

"Since then, I have seen HD becoming more helpful, but I cannot say whether that exonerates him or not. I would like to think that Tom, Sheilagh and Polly are innocent, but I am trying not to let my positive feelings for them sway me one way or the other."

She thought about that, and also about things in general. "You are working too hard, Calavicci."

The face that looked back at her from the clean window's reflection was showing some new lines. She would rather be sitting on a stool in the Tethys Tavern, downing a few and giving some likely Trill the eye. But that was not going to happen, not for the nonce.

She looked at her flashing PADD. HD's report was in. She opened it up and began to read it.


"I can't say that I want those children to die," Polly said, "but you've gotta understand my sense of self-preservation."

"Well, to be sure," Marisol acknowledged, "Sheilagh?"

"There are going to be thousands, if not millions, of people who'll be adversely affected by anything we do," she said, "or if we sit idly by and do nothing. I mean, if you want perfection, don't look at us humans. We're more or less incapable of it."

"That is such an odd choice of words," Marisol said, "Perfection. Maybe it's an inaccurate word. Perhaps the correct one is improvement."

"I don't doubt that all sorts of things could be bettered," Sheilagh said, "but what can any of us do about it, really? We've all seen how these changes, inevitably, seem to screw us up in all sorts of fun ways. I don't honestly think we can do any better."

"So you'd just give up?" Marisol asked.

"What's all this to you, anyway, Marisol?" Polly asked. "Rounding 2700."


Otra stood next to the burning shuttle. She tried Anthony's Communicator but it didn't seem to be working at all. Her own only seemed to generate more static. On an impulse, she tried one more channel. "Otra to Cavendish. Levi, are you there?"


Nichols and McVeigh got into the Ryder truck and drove it away from the motel. "Now what?" Dan asked.

"They should be rigging it," Tom explained. "At least, that's what happened in the original history. They went to a lake and put it all together. It's the fourteenth – they're here until the sixteenth. Then they take both trucks to the Nichols home, and the Ryder truck gets put there. Then they go to Oklahoma City to drop off their pick up. I'm thinking it's that one, over there," Tom gestured.

"And?" Rick asked.

"And then they get back to the Nichols home, well, I'm not sure how," Tom said.

"Taxicab, maybe," Dan offered.

"Possibly, but I looked at a map and it looks to be rather far. A cab probably would have been far too expensive. Then on the morning of the nineteenth, McVeigh drives the Ryder to the Murrah Building, parks it and sets it off remotely. Then he gets into the pickup and drives it out of town, but he gets pulled over for driving without license plates. Nichols watches footage of the bombing on television and turns himself in," Tom stated from memory.

"But in the new reality, the Ryder truck never gets to Oklahoma City. And the pickup just seems to disappear from existence – there's no record of it at all after the sixteenth, and it never seems to have gotten to Oklahoma City, either. The Ryder stays on the Nichols property – and the authorities even want to bring him in for questioning, as the Ryder truck rental place eventually sues to get their property back – but Nichols is nowhere to be found. It's like he disappeared as well. Marife Nichols is questioned but she's exonerated," Rick said.

"So the divergence happens on the sixteenth," Tom said, "we need to be in Oklahoma City on the sixteenth, I am thinking."

"Maybe we should ask them for a ride," Dan said.


"I am just curious. It presents quite the moral conundrum," Marisol said, "You hold the fate of some twentysomething children in the palms of your hands. And you have the opportunity to save them."

"Or, you have the opportunity to either play God, or not," Sheilagh said, a bit annoyed that the questioning was persisting, "I got enough issues in my life without pretending to be a deity. Can we talk about something else?"


"Carmen, can I talk to you?" it was Kevin.

"Of course. Do come in," she said, "gardening now, I see."

"Oh, that. It's what was used to nick all three dark matter collector lines."

"I see. Who has access to those shears?"

"Anyone," he said, "hell, I found 'em during the ceremony, just lyin' around. I imagine Von uses 'em more than anyone, but that doesn't mean he did the deed."

"What do they say?" she asked, "Motive, means and opportunity – and the shears are the means."

"Von had the opportunity, but so did Levi. Probably also Deirdre or, really, any of the travelers," Kevin pointed out.

"As for motive, the Perfectionists have their own lovely motives, all wrapped up in their Manifesto file. And Von, he might also have a profit motive," she pointed out.

"Curiouser and curiouser."


Power and the money, money and the power
Minute after minute, hour after hour
Everybody's runnin', but half of them ain't lookin
What's goin on in the kitchen, but I don't know what's cookin
They say I got to learn, but nobody's here to teach me,
If they can't understand it, how can they reach me?
I guess they can't; I guess they won't
I guess they front; that's why I know my life is outta luck, fool!

-- Coolio (Gangsta's Paradise)

Honk if you love silence.

Published author, Trek Citizen and not much bigger than a bread box

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#17 jespah



    Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

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Posted 24 August 2011 - 11:11 AM

Been spending most our lives living in the Gangsta's Paradise
Been spending most our lives living in the Gangsta's Paradise
Keep spending most our lives living in the Gangsta's Paradise
Keep spending most our lives living in the Gangsta's Paradise

-- Coolio (Gangsta's Paradise)



"Levi, it's me, Otra."

There was crackling in the background, but it was definitely her voice. "Otra! Where –?"

"Listen to me very, very carefully. In the alternate line, I've been freed, and I'm on Berren Five."

"Berren Five," he repeated.

"But in the correct, primary timeline, I am a prisoner. Now, some of these clues come from the new reality, so I can't be certain of their accuracy," she said.


"I – in this reality, my captor was a man named Milton Walker, a monk on the USS Saint Eligius."

"Eligius," he repeated.

"Yes. When the line is restored, I don't know where I'll be. You must tell Carmen, Levi."

"Was Marisol captured with you?" he asked.

"No. What makes you think that?"

"She – well, never mind," he said.

There was a door chime. "Remember, Levi," she said, "tell Carmen. I'm not sure who else can be trusted."

The last sentence came out garbled. "Repeat!" Levi yelled, but the connection was broken. "Uh, come in."

It was Carmen. "I need to talk to you about dark matter collector lines."

"And I need to talk to you about Otra."


"All right, let's change the subject," Polly said, "I've already asked Sheilagh these questions, so I'll ask you, Marisol – what do you think of our coworkers?"

"Can't you sense that?" Marisol asked.

"Well, I'm looking for something a lot less vague," Polly said.

"I see. Well, most are good. Kevin is the best engineer, and Richard is the best Temporal Agent. I suspect Crystal is very accurate as a Quartermaster."

"I'm not looking for performance appraisals," Polly said, "What do you think of them as people?"

"People? Huh, well, Deirdre and Levi are readily distracted. Kevin is still rather grief-stricken. Richard goes after anything in a skirt."

"I know all of that," Polly said, "I am looking for your opinion of, say, Boris. What do you think of him? And not when it comes to his competency as a doctor. What, exactly, do you think of him?"

"He is," Marisol chose her next words carefully, "overly paranoid."

"I suppose the combination of Xindi sloth, human and Klingon DNA would do that to a person. Do you, uh, do you imagine that there is any reason for him to be that way?"


HD went to the cafeteria, where he found Kevin and Deirdre playing dominoes. "Okay, now, do you see your move?" Kevin asked.

"Um, here?" she tentatively put a domino down.

"Good. That's a good move. I think you're gettin' better."

"It's becoming more intuitive. Hiya, HD."

"Audrey II work okay for ya?" Kevin asked.

"No issues whatsoever," HD said.

Yilta came over. "Is this a very old human game?"

"Definitely," Kevin said, "it must go back at least as far as the Ancient West."

"No, it's even further," Deirdre said, "I think it's Egyptian."

"I, uh, I saw the messages about, uh, Chawev was his name?" HD asked.

"Chellewev," Yilta corrected him, "The Master of Mechanics – Chawev means Master of the Faith."

"Oh, uh, okay. And, um, sorry."

"Thank ya kindly. Does HD stand for anythin'?" she asked.


She smiled, "It stands for somethin' ya don't like, I'm guessin'."

"Let's just say I wish my parents had been more imaginative, and leave it at that."

"I see. Well, one thing we noticed when you returned is our first contact with the Trill snapped back to the right date," Yilta said, "so I thank ya."

"Oh, uh, well, you're welcome. It's funny; changes that we think are otric, I guess they can be pariotric for another species," HD speculated.

"Precisely," Kevin said, "looks like we're all connected."

"What is it, a Zen koan? I think it is, which says that a butterfly beating its wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas," Deirdre said.

"No, that wouldn't be Zen," Kevin said, checking his PADD. "Ah, there it is the butterfly effect. It's a theory by the same guy who came up with the strange attractor: Edward Norton Lorenz."

"Ah, well," she said. "Hey, I won! Kevin, are you letting me win?"

"Nope, that's all you," he replied.

"I need to go look over Audrey II and make sure she's okay," Deirdre said, getting up.

"The ship's fine!" HD exclaimed.

"I'll be the judge of that," she said.

"I'm telling you, I didn't manhandle her," HD said, following her out.

"And we are alone," Yilta said to Kevin.


"Do I make ya uncomfortable? I don't mean ta do that," she said, noticing him fidgeting.

"Let me ask you something," Kevin said.

"By all means."

"If, um, strictly hypothetically speaking, if we were to, uh, to, um, have a meal somewhere outside of the Commission …."


"Well, if we did and, um, if, uh, if I talked about Josie, um, a lot, would you be offended? Hypothetically speaking, of course."

"Of course. Well, in this hypothetical, would I speak with you – or, perhaps, someone like you – about not only your late wife, Josie, but also about my ex-husband, Darywev?"

"In this hypothetical, uh, that would probably happen." He allowed.

"And would that offend you?"

He thought for a while. "No. It wouldn't."


"So you believe you heard from her?" Carmen asked Levi.

"I'm sure of it."

"Huh. The USS Saint Eligius, eh?" she thought for a moment. "I was on that ship; Boris was as well. We went there in order to, to tell Walker about his daughter's death. He wouldn't shake my hand. There's something in that order about not being allowed to touch women at all. He was, well, he was strangely detached about his daughter's death. It was not a reaction that I would have expected, not even from a religious zealot."

"I dunno."

"When the line's restored, I may make a certain trip. Uh, good work, Levi," Carmen said. "Now, I do, though, want to talk about dark matter collection lines."


"They were cut on the Wells, Fluxy and Jack, remember?"

"Oh, yeah."

"I don't love this, Levi. I really, truly do not. But I need for those ships to be protected. If you have seen anything or know anything, I need to know it – even if it seems small."

"Uh …."

"I do know that you've observed Marisol a lot lately. What have you noticed?"

"I dunno. Things."

"What kinds of things?"

"She spent a lot of time with Boris, and now she doesn't anymore."

"Anything else?"

"I don't think she spends all night in her bunk."

"Oh, really?"


Tell me why are we, so blind to see
That the ones we hurt, are you and me
Tell me why are we, so blind to see
That the ones we hurt, are you and me

-- Coolio (Gangsta's Paradise)

Honk if you love silence.

Published author, Trek Citizen and not much bigger than a bread box

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#18 jespah



    Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

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Posted 25 August 2011 - 11:14 AM

At home
Drawing pictures
Of mountain tops
With him on top
Lemon yellow sun
Arms raised in a V
Dead lay in pools of maroon below
Daddy didn't give attention
To the fact that Mommy didn't care
King Jeremy the wicked
Ruled his world
Jeremy spoke in class today
Jeremy spoke in class today

-- Pearl Jam (Jeremy)


The sixteenth of April of 1995 dawned in Junction City, Kansas. It seemed to be a day like any other.

Dan was up first, and walked outside. "I can't believe I'm going to allow this," he said to himself, "but what choice do I have if I want to keep gaining their trust?" he knew that preventing the act – the worst act of terrorism on American soil until 9/11 – would surely give him away to the other two. He sighed. "I'm getting too old for this."

He looked around. McVeigh and Nichols were already up and getting the two trucks ready. Nichols came over to him. "You got a light?" Terry Nichols asked.

Dan froze. "Uh, what?'

"A light. You know, smoke 'em if you got 'em."

"Terry!" yelled McVeigh, "that's not such a good idea right now." He nodded, a barely perceptible movement, in the direction of the Ryder truck, which was already rigged with explosives.

"Uh, yeah, I guess not," Nichols admitted, "my wife tells me I gotta cut down, anyway."

"Yeah, I guess that's a good idea," Dan managed to squeak out.

Tom noticed Dan wasn't in the room, and walked outside to investigate, "What's up?"

"I think maybe we should head to, uh, to our destination," Dan said. Nichols had walked away, but he and McVeigh were still relatively close. Dan could not be sure, but it was possible that they could hear some of what he and Tom were saying.

"I'll go get Rick," Tom said, "'bout time we checked outta here."


"I don't know if Boris is justified in his paranoia," Marisol said.

Sheilagh had been in the back, and now returned to the piloting area of the Flux Capacitor. "I don't know if it would be better for him to have a reason to be furtive, or worse."

Polly smiled. "I've known him for a while. Or, rather, I know Darragh. But I've seen Boris enough over the years to know that he seems worse, and has for a few years. Now, I don't want to gossip, but it just seems a bit like he's possibly hiding something."

"What's his wife like?" Sheilagh asked.

"She's privileged; there's no question. Back when there was still money, I suppose she'd have been a member of the idle rich class. She has a job – she manages a Klingon games arena – and volunteers on all sorts of committees and is a member of any number of clubs," Polly explained, "she and I met when those rugby exhibition games were being played between Terra and the mirror Kronos."

"How did they meet?" Sheilagh asked.

"I have no idea."


They had, actually, met when one of the star players on the Klingon team had become injured. Despite protestations of honor being sullied, Darragh had insisted that Kriz be treated. The compromise that Kriz insisted on was that he be treated discreetly by a full- or part-blood Klingon physician. Boris had been young and ambitious – and available.

And so they had met, and Boris had not been too interested until he learned that Darragh's brother, Todd Stratton, was high up in the Federation. One thing led to another, and suddenly Boris found himself married, and sitting pretty at the Temporal Integrity Commission.

It was not a love match for Boris, and so he had considered dalliances until he met Marisol at a medical conference.

For Boris, the sex was great, the job was terrific, and his wife didn't suspect a thing. He had actually fallen for Marisol and, when she was hired by the Commission, it was the cherry on the sundae for him. All was wonderful until the Perfectionists told Marisol to start to put the screws to him.

She had withheld her favors from him, and her every move had made him more and more nervous. Loneliness, sexual frustration and paranoia were blending together in him – a potent cocktail indeed.


They were able to get a rental car and drove it to Oklahoma City, and got out near the Murrah Building, at Fourth Street and Robinson Avenue. "We don't know exactly where McVeigh and Nichols parked the pickup," Tom said, "so we'll split up. I'll take this way, uh, south."

"I'll take west," Dan quickly volunteered.

"I'll take the east," Rick said, "and I'll circle back to the north."

The three of them went their separate ways.

Dan got himself to the correct location quickly – near the intersection of North Walker Avenue and Northwest Fifth Street. He looked around. There were a few people on the street, but not too many. But he was only looking for one person.

He knew that if he performed the trick called Temporal Integration, he'd be all set. Temporal Integration was the act of joining two versions of a person, from different time periods or timelines, and reintegrating them into one person. An individual could end up with a near-perfect duplicate if he or she visited a particular moment more than once, even if one of those visits was on Earth and the other was on, say, Dawitan. Technically, it was possible – and posed no threat to the space-time continuum – for both versions of a person to coexist and lead separate lives, perhaps even visiting other time periods.

This could, in theory, go on until one or the other version's deaths – simultaneous demise was not guaranteed, for the two lives were separate and distinct. However, it was presumed that two near-identical iterations would make a lot of similar decisions.

The cure, Temporal Integration, was achieved by the two versions touching each other, however briefly. Then the two versions would simultaneously merge, and the two merged selves would have the knowledge of the later version but the age of the earlier one. Since most Temporal Integrations occurred within less than a week of their being needed, the age difference was a slight one.

No one knew what would happen if the two versions were a year, or perhaps even as much as a decade, apart in age. That had not yet been tested.

Tom had been through it once, and Rick had been through it enough times that he even had both visual and auditory signals he would give himself when necessary. For him, that made the process go all the more smoothly.

Dan hadn't been through it yet, and he dreaded it, wondering if it would be painful, in addition to being, he figured, unnerving.

He finally spotted the earlier version of himself. He glanced around nervously. Two versions of Daniel Beauchaine would likely prove odd to onlookers who were paying attention. He also didn't know whether the act would prove to be a noisy one.

He approached the earlier version, and said a word that he knew that few people would know, a word from his earlier life as a survivalist: pemmican.

Before the earlier version could even wheel around completely, he touched a shoulder. Merging was nearly instantaneous, and a little dizzying, for he found himself in the earlier position. And, oddly enough, with the earlier version's subatomic disruptor in his pocket.


And in 3110, Otra didn't just see the temporal transformation. This time she experienced it. In one instant, she was standing next to Anthony's still-burning shuttle on Berren Five. And then, in the subsequent instant, she was back in her pitch black cell on the USS Saint Eligius.

She felt around. She still, oddly enough, had the phaser. She did her best to assure it was on a low setting, but that was difficult to tell in the dark. She then groped around for where she believed the latch was for the hatch on her little prison. Shrinking as far back from the latch as possible, she aimed the phaser in the general direction of the latch, and fired.


Loud bonging sounds could be heard at the Temporal Integrity Commission, as the correct line was restored.

Carmen had everyone who was present gather in Conference Room six. "Looks like we've got restoration," she said, stating the obvious. "I assume both missions are completed, but we'll know the truth of that soon enough."

"Carmen," HD said, "I gotta tell ya, I'm kinda glad I wasn't put on the Oklahoma City mission."

"I can understand that, "she replied, "I imagine that one felt more awful than most of them do."


Clearly I remember
Pickin' on the boy
Seemed a harmless little f-*-
But we unleashed a lion
Gnashed his teeth
and bit the recess lady's breast
How could I forget?
He hit me with a surprise left
My jaw left hurtin'
Dropped wide open
Just like the day
Like the day I heard

-- Pearl Jam (Jeremy)

Edited by jespah, 25 August 2011 - 11:23 AM.

Honk if you love silence.

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#19 jespah



    Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 10:56 AM

Daddy didn't give affection
And the boy was something Mommy wouldn't wear
King Jeremy the wicked
Ruled his world
Jeremy spoke in class today
Jeremy spoke in class today
Try to forget this...
Try to erase this...
From the blackboard.

-- Pearl Jam (Jeremy)


Dan clicked open his Communicator. "I can see the pickup. Uh, it's at the intersection of North Walker Avenue and Northwest Fifth Street. Come over and confirm, please."

Rick and Tom jogged over. Rick surreptitiously checked his PADD. "The plates match the ones in the master time file."

"Good," Tom said.

"Hang on a moment," Rick ducked into a doorway and opened his Communicator. "Um, international operator, please."

"What city and country, please?"

"Prague, Czechoslovakia."

"You mean the Czech Republic, sir?"

"Uh, yes, sorry."

"Switching," said the operator.

He tapped his ear to switch to a Czech translation, in time for the Czech operator to ask him for the listing.

"Prague, uh, City Hall," he said.

"I can dial it for you for an additional cost of one koruna." A Czech crown – this was before the Euro.

"Please dial the number."

"Yes?" asked a bored-sounding man at the Prague City Hall, after several rings.

"I would like to get some information about a death."

"We don't give out that information over the phone. It's Sunday. You'll have to come when we are open."

"When are you next open?" Rick asked.

"For death records, we are next open on Wednesday, the nineteenth. Eight AM to three PM."

He ended the call. Dan and Tom were looking at him. "Do you mind a short detour?" Rick asked, "I, uh, I wanna check on something from my last mission."

"I don't see any reason why not," Tom said. "We gotta confirm this one anyway."


The Flux Capacitor arrived with little fanfare. Checking messages, Polly said to the other two, "Everyone's in Conference Room six."

"Ah, good, you're back," Carmen said upon seeing them. "The boys aren't here yet, but I think theirs was more complicated than yours."

"We think the line's completely restored," Kevin said.

"Good to know," Marisol said, "I take it that we are not the only ones who have concluded our mission."

"Right," Carmen said, "I should like to concentrate a bit on the Manifesto file. If the Perfectionists are going to be hitting larger targets, perhaps we can get some advance inklings from that file."

Deirdre projected the decrypted portion on to the wall of the conference room. "Here's where we are, so far:

There is much wrong with history.

Humans have slaughtered each other by the millions. Suffering has been endured by countless innocents. Pain, disease, poverty and starvation have all been borne by too many. War has been the overarching force, rather than a rare accent seen sparingly over the millennia.

Pariotric changes can and must be effected for the benefit of mankind. The benefits to our allies will follow. The past is wrong. The future can improve it. And, in time, augment and perfect it. It is our duty, as keepers of this sacred and marvelous technology, to help our forebears."

She then showed the two remaining encrypted paragraphs. One was the third and the other, the fifth, was the last one. "And here's what's left."

The file scrolled through several iterations as they watched. Kevin used his own PADD to snap photographs of the changes as the file churned.

"We'll split into teams," Carmen said, "uh, HD and Crystal, Deirdre and Marisol, Kevin and Sheilagh, and Levi, you'll work with Polly."

"What about me?" Boris asked.

"I have other plans for you, Doctor Yarin," Carmen said, "and when the others return, anyone who isn't making headway will get a chance to switch off with, uh, Richard or Dan."

"And Tom?" Deirdre asked.

"He's another one with alternate plans," Carmen replied, "Dismissed."


Otra tentatively opened her eyes. The hatch to her little prison was bowed out. She pushed on it and, even in her weakened state; she was able to get it to open. It fell to the ground with a clatter.

She looked around the Saint Eligius's cargo bay. There was no one there but her. She stepped out and picked her way among a mass of cartons. Most of them said Eligian Red 3110 Vintage on their sides.

She heard voices, and hid behind a pile of cartons.


They beamed back up to the Jack Finney and pushed it three days ahead in time. On the Earth's surface, it was April nineteenth, 1995.

"What are you planning on doing?" Dan asked Rick.

"I'm just checking a record. The master time file doesn't have everything."

"Uh, why?" Dan persisted.

"I just wanna check something," Rick replied, in a tone that indicated that he didn't want to elaborate.

"Call when you're done," Tom said, setting the Transporter's coordinates.

"Thanks for allowing this," Rick said. In his mind, he added, and not asking any questions.

"Not a problem," Tom drawled, "energizing."

Once Rick was gone, Dan said, "Whaddaya suppose that's all about?"

"He has friends. That's all."

"Ah. Girlfriends," Dan concluded, "they allow that here?"

"I don't think they love it," Tom said, "but Carmen does seem to look the other way when it comes to such things."

"Good to know. I'll, uh, we need to confirm that we succeeded."

"Sure. Let's go after it's done," Tom said.

"No," Dan said, "we've come this far. I think maybe we should see the actual event. I think we owe these people that much."

"Hmm, all right," Tom said, "just lemme set the coordinates."


Boris followed Carmen to her office. "Well?" he finally asked.

"I'd rather not say until we're underway. I do ask, though, that you reach inside yourself and allow all the Klingon to come bubbling up to the surface for this little assignment."


The Prague City Hall was a cramped, dirty space. Rick waited a while, and finally cleared his throat. "Oh, uh, I did not see you there," said the clerk.

"I'd like to see records about a death."

"Are you a relative?"

"Uh, yes," he lied.

"Name and date of death?"

"Milena Chelenska," Rick said, "and the, uh, the date of death is some time between the August of 1968 and the end of 1970. I'm sorry, I don't know the specifics. That's why I'm here, actually."

"This will require some digging. You are?"

"Radek," Rick said, remembering a fake name she had conjured up for him, to explain his presence to her nosy neighbors, "my name is Radek Chelenska."

"You will need to look at the books with me," the clerk said, "otherwise it will take too long. I will take 1968. You will take 1969." He brought out three huge, dusty books. "Whoever is finished first will have the privilege of also checking 1970."


Oklahoma City was like any other bustling, midsized city at 8:50 AM. Parents hustled their children along. Business people checked their watches, late for their appointments. Short order cooks prepared endless breakfasts. Traffic cops kept the streets flowing with, alternately, pedestrians and automobiles.

"We shoulda come later," Tom said, "after it was all done. Right now it just feels strange. We know the other shoe is gonna drop, but everybody else is just so oblivious. It's unnerving."

"Grant, you've been in battle, and more than just a few times," Dan reminded him. "Don't tell me that this is affecting you."

"'Course it's affecting me," Tom bristled a little.

"Lemme tell ya," Dan said, "it feels all wrong."


"Yeah, like we should be preventing it," Dan said.

"That's not our job," Tom reminded him.

"What if it was?"


He wakes up in the morning.
Does his teeth, bite to eat and he's rolling
Never changes a thing.
The week ends, the week begins

-- Ants Marching (Dave Matthews Band)

Honk if you love silence.

Published author, Trek Citizen and not much bigger than a bread box

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#20 jespah



    Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

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Posted 28 August 2011 - 09:29 AM

She thinks, we look at each other
Wondering what the other is thinking,
But we never say a thing.
And these crimes between us grow deeper.

-- Ants Marching (Dave Matthews Band)


Milena's death record was a little smeared, but still readable. Rick looked at it a few more times. "I, uh, I think I found it," he told the clerk.

"Ah, good," the clerk said, taking the 1968 and 1970 books back. He disappeared into another room, and Rick got out his PADD, quickly changing it to camera mode. He snapped a few photographs of the entry, and then put the PADD away.


Tom and Dan saw, as the Murrah Building folded onto itself in the explosion. 9 AM, April nineteenth, 1995 – the building crumpled on one side, and over one hundred and sixty people died, including around twenty children.

Tom stood and stared. "I, God, I …."

Dan would have said something. He should have said something. It was the Perfectionists' mission – to put right what had once gone wrong, to fix the horrors of history. And, instead, in order to maintain his position inside the Temporal Integrity Commission, he had simply let it all unfold like it had in the original history. He just stood there, shaking. All he could think was I didn't sign on for this.

Tom heard a trill in his ear. He shook it off a little, and then realized it was Rick. "Uh, Grant here."

"I got what I needed," Rick said, "and I'm in a good position."

"All right," Tom said, "we, uh, we gotta get back to the Jack. Give us a few minutes."

He didn't even bother to close the connection; he was just too distracted. "Dan, c'mon, let's go."

"All those people," Dan muttered, "such a waste. If we, if we have this technology, why the hell aren't we using it to help people?"

"Dan – c'mon – we gotta go," Tom repeated, "get back to the Jack, remember?"

There were sirens. Emergency services personnel were running toward the burning building. People were screaming and running, and the two of them were just standing there, shocked.

"Beauchaine!" Tom called out, "Rick is expecting us. We gotta get him outta Prague."

"And he's just out looking up some honey," Dan said, with disgust in his voice, "He should be seeing this. Hell, they should all be seeing this."


"Let's look at the pictures of the last paragraph of the Manifesto file," HD said. He and Crystal were sitting in his office.

"Okay, let's see," Crystal pulled up image after image on her PADD.

"They're all pretty similar," he said, after looking at a few dozen.

"I think it's pretty similar stuff because, I suspect, they want us to decipher it," she said.

"Well, yeah," HD said, "I mean, what good is their file if we never read it? You think any of the other teams are making any progress?"

"I have no idea. There's more images; Kevin just uploaded them to the server," Crystal said.

HD looked over her shoulder at her PADD. "Whoa! Wait, wait! Go back a few."

"This one?"

"No, further," HD said, "it's musical notation."

"So you can read this."

"I can. But notes only go up to G. Then there are sharps and flats."

"So you've got A, A sharp and A flat?" she asked.

"That's right."

"And G is the, uh, seventh letter of the alphabet. And you've got three kinds for a total of twenty-one letters."

"Maybe. But aren't there more than twenty-one letters?" he asked.

"There are twenty-six," she said, "but the last paragraph might not have all twenty-six letters of the alphabet in it. I mean, it probably doesn't have X, Z or Q in it."

"That still leaves twenty-three. It's still more than twenty-one," he pointed out.

"Then there are at least two other letters that aren't being used," Crystal said, "can you, uh, can you play the tune?"

"Sure." He clicked around on his PADD, and switched it to a musical mode. He projected the image of a keyboard onto his desk. He played an uptempo number, and then stopped.

"Why'd you stop?"

"I wonder if there are any lyrics."

"Maybe the Manifesto itself?" she ventured.

"That's not what I've got in mind. It doesn't scan anyway. Hang on," he clicked around a bit, "there."

"There what?"

"The master time file has all sorts of old music. I told it to compare the tune to anything from 1959 to 1995 – that's the time period we've been covering."

"And then what?"

"Well," he said, "maybe the lyrics are a part of the file, or they have something to do with it."

There was a ding. "I think you've got something," she said.

"Yeah, oh man. This is, the song is called It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)." He had the PADD play it for them.

"I wonder how it relates," she said, "oh and I counted – there's only eighteen different letters in this paragraph."


After the correct line had been restored, Milton Walker found himself back in the rectory on the USS Saint Eligius. He opened a channel to Otra's prison and fired up the Voice Masker. "Now, wasn't that interesting?" he asked, with no preliminaries whatsoever.

There was no answer. He tried a few more times, and then opened a different channel, to two temporal operatives. "Get over here," he said, "we've got to find Otra."


The three of them were back on the Jack Finney. Rick was piloting.

"Why'd ya'll have me witness that?" Tom finally asked Dan.

"I just thought, well, that we owed those people that."

"You didn't," Rick interrupted, "you owed them line restoration, and you got that accomplished. And that's it."

"I gotta respectfully disagree," Dan said, "This isn't some sterile lab experiment here. It's a bunch of very real dead kids."

"I'm gonna see 'em in my dreams, I can tell," Tom said.

"That's why I don't do that, the witnessing thing," Rick said, "when Sheilagh and I restored May fourth of 1970 – you know, the Kent State Massacre – we only needed to confirm that it happened. We didn't need to see Allison Krause and the others on slabs at the morgue."

"Why did you, uh, go to Prague today?" Dan asked.

"That's none of your business."

"It was for closure, wasn't it?" Dan persisted, "you needed to find out exactly what happened to some, some girl, am I right?"

Milena wasn't just some girl. "What does it matter to you?" Rick bristled. "Rounding 2416."

"It only matters that you needed to see the end of things," Dan said, "and so did we."

"Speak for yourself, Beauchaine," Tom said, "I coulda gone without actually eyewitnessing the event. We coulda just checked news stories or somethin' like that."

"Why are you two so afraid to see the fruits of your labors?" Dan asked, "Those people don't suffer any less just because you don't actually see them burning to death."

"And they don't suffer any more or less if we do watch," Rick sighed, "Listen to me, I have been doing this for a long, long time. And you're right – they don't suffer any less. But you gotta, in this line of work; you gotta make it so that you suffer less. In whatever form that takes. This job takes a lot outta anyone. We all need to cope any way we can, and I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't impose your values and what you think are requirements on me."

"You just cope by bedding women in time, right?" Dan asked, "And Carmen drinks, and Kevin stares into space, and so does Levi. Is that what all you long termers call coping?"


There were people coming. Otra crouched down lower, and held onto her chavecoi with one hand, trying to will them not to move. In her other hand, she clutched Anthony's phaser.

"Brother Percival," a voice said, "you'll need to get these cartons out of here."

"I know," said another voice, presumably belonging to Percival, "we'll be sending this shipment out soon."

There was a pause. "What's this?" asked the voice that was probably Percival's, "I've never seen the big crate open before."

"Neither have I," said the first voice, "and look, how odd. There seem to be, well, these look like electronics to me, here in the top panel, do you see that?"

"I do, Brother Simon."

Otra peeked. It was just the two monks. It's now or never, she thought to herself.

"I wonder what this was used for. It appears to be damaged," Percival said.

"It was used by Milton Walker," Otra said, revealing herself to the two men, "to keep me prisoner here."


"Dan, c'mon, you're outta line," Tom said.

"No, it's, uh, I'll answer that," Rick said, but his tone was annoyed. "I started off starry-eyed and idealistic. And then I spent a little time watching Pompeii get buried in the ashes of Vesuvius. I saw the Xindi get their instructions from Future Guy Jim Horan, and I also saw them – as a result of all that – successfully attack Earth and kill seven million innocent humans. I saw Pennsylvania Quakers lose their lives to readily curable diseases, like measles. I saw despondent stockbrokers jump out of windows in 1929, and I had to let them fall – let them – even though I knew that they'd probably have turned it all around in maybe five years. I saw Continental soldiers at Valley Forge die of infections that could've been prevented by the application of a little soap and water."

He paused for a moment. "And I have had to let all of that happen. Don't tell me it's somehow better, or more noble, to have watched the Murrah Building collapse today. Don't lecture me on how now you're somehow morally superior because you watched steel and concrete crumble on top of over one hundred and sixty people today. Don't lord it over, and don't judge. You cope your way, I'll cope mine."

He threw the ship into auto and got up. "Tom, do you mind if I sleep in the bed?"

"No, no, 'course not," Tom said, "I'll drive Jack."


Kevin kept working, but in the back of his mind, he kept thinking about the shears. The most likely person to use them was Von, the Ferengi engineer. Von also had some opportunity to damage the time ships. But had he done so? Or was he being framed? Kevin went back to working but the knotty problem of the shears kept coming back to the fore.


"A prisoner?" asked Brother Simon, "but why?"

"There is a movement to rearrange human history," Otra explained, "to go back in time and to somehow, allegedly, improve it."

"I don't know anything about that," Brother Percival said, "but keeping you here – keeping any woman here, actually – that much is wrong."

"Yes," Simon agreed, "this is a violation of many of our more sacred trusts."

"I do recall, though," Percival said, "that there were two people who came here from the Temporal Integrity Commission when Brother Milton's daughter died."

"Who were they?" Otra asked.

"A woman and the other one, he was a part-Klingon man."

"That's Boris Yarin. I bet the other one was Carmen Calavicci," Otra said, "Can you help me to reach them?"

"I'll try," Brother Simon said, "but Communications are usually rather difficult from here."

"Anything you can do – I would be most grateful."

"We should get you out of the cargo bay as well," Brother Percival said, "but you'll need to wear a robe in order to conceal your sex. Women aren't allowed here."

Just then, the door opened, and Otra again ducked. A good thing, too, for it was Milton Walker, arriving with two monks – or, at least, they were dressed up to look like monks.


Take these chances
Place them in a box until a quieter time.
Lights down, you up and die.

-- Ants Marching (Dave Matthews Band)

Honk if you love silence.

Published author, Trek Citizen and not much bigger than a bread box

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