What if you could bend time, or at least could see where others had bent it?
This is a collection of stories which take place within the Times of the HG Wells universe (a sequel universe to In Between Days), or have something to do with any of the principals in that series, or their counterparts. The principals are: canon character Temporal Agent Richard Daniels, HD Avery, Daniel Beauchaine, Sheilagh Bernstein, Branch Borodin, Admiral Carmen Calavicci, Dr. Marisol Castillo, Levi Cavendish, Otra D’Angelo, Thomas Grant, Deirdre Katzman, Kevin O’Connor, Polly Porter, Crystal Sherwood and Dr. Boris Yarin.
The works are in chronological order by their main time periods. Longer books, including prequels (even works from In Between Days if they are also within the HG Wells universe) and the eight big books, are listed chronologically with teaser copy and dates, but only with a link to where a book is already posted.
The eight main books are divided into three sections: Section I is called Repairs, and contains A Long, Long Time Ago; Ohio and You Mixed-Up Siciliano. Section II is called Complications and contains Spring Thaw and Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain. Section III is called Unravelings and contains The Point is Probably Moot; Shake Your Body and He Stays a Stranger.
Times of the HG Wells refers to the voyages of that time ship and the general workings of the 31st and 32nd century Temporal Integrity Commission. The structure of the eight big books is meant to be a serial evocative of the season-long canon ENT Xindi arc, where all of the stories were interrelated.
As always, I thank you for reading, reviewing and inspiring.
Enterprise, Mirror Universe, Alternate Universes, Expanded Universes Characters:
Times of the HG Wells
29 Jun 2012 Updated:
06 Dec 2014
1. November 13th by jespah
2. Desperation by jespah
3. Recruitment by jespah
4. The Honky Tonk Angel by jespah
5. Briefing by jespah
6. Auld Lang Syne by jespah
7. Preparations by jespah
8. First Born by jespah
9. Marvels by jespah
10. Pat the Bunny by jespah
11. Where O Where by jespah
12. Candy by jespah
13. Temper by jespah
14. Fortune by jespah
15. A Lesson by jespah
16. A Long, Long Time Ago by jespah
17. Ohio by jespah
18. You Mixed-Up Siciliano by jespah
19. Another Piece of the Action by jespah
20. Spring Thaw by jespah
21. Souvenirs by jespah
22. Where the Wind Comes Sweepin' Down the Plain by jespah
23. The Point is Probably Moot by jespah
24. Shake Your Body by jespah
25. One Last Gift by jespah
26. He Stays a Stranger by jespah
27. It's Not Really a Reset if you remember it by jespah
28. The Sweetest Universe by jespah
29. Paradox by jespah
30. Calendar Turning Event #3111 by jespah
31. Happy Stuff 3111 by jespah
32. Mirror Masquerade by jespah
33. Survey Says ... by jespah
34. Meeting of the Minds by jespah
35. Dishing it Out by jespah
In 2234, Craig Willets remembers an odd message from 2151.
“It was November thirteenth. 2151. I was nineteen.”
“That was a thousand years ago, Granddaddy Craig.”
“More like eighty-three. It was the NX-01 Enterprise – do you remember seeing it in a museum?” Craig asked.
“What day is it?” asked a young surveyor.
The attractive widow smiled at him. “Thou are not keeping track of the days, Richard?”
“It’s easy to let a few slip away, Lucretia. You’re such a beautiful woman.”
“Roger Allgood says I am the sort who would snap like a twig in a storm!”
“I don’t think twigs snap. They bend, right?” Rick asked.
“Mostly. Dost thou not have work to perform?”
“Later,” he kissed her and then suddenly remembered something. “Damn – uh, darn.”
“Whatsoever is the matter?” The widow Crossman was a little alarmed at the utterance of an oath.
“I, uh, I need to, um, I’ll be at the outhouse. Don’t, don’t go anywhere.”
She laughed a little. “I shall not be milking a cow in this attire!” She was clad in little more than her flaxen underthings. He put his breeches on and made sure the tiny PADD was still in the pocket of his waistcoat before donning it, too. “Such a formal visit to the outbuildings!” she exclaimed upon seeing him putting back on so many clothes.
“I, uh, what would your neighbors say, if I were to go out, half-dressed?” he laced up his shoes.
“I believe they already wonder about thou a little already, Mister Daniels.”
The outhouse was smelly and small and dark, but at least it was private. He tapped on his PADD – which had been in sleep mode, and was showing an impromptu slide show of family pictures from the 29th century – and it sprang to life. He tapped twice to get it out of voice recognition mode and commenced typing.
“Dammit, what date did I leave the NX-01?” he whispered to no one. He looked up in the PADD and he was missing the data, as he had not yet written his report on Jonathan Archer and the 22nd century Temporal Cold War. He had been expecting to go on his current mission – to 1699 Penn’s Woods – and write both reports at the same time. But this was nagging at him, and he knew it would bother him until he’d fixed it. The date on the PADD was synchronized to the current date and time – November thirteenth, 1699.
“What happened on November thirteenth?”
“Oh, uh,” Craig thought for a moment. “It was a message.” His grandchildren departed. Messages were not thrilling to them.
Craig walked over to the master bedroom in his home. “Computer, enter dictation mode.”
“Craig Willets’s personal log, November thirteenth, 2234. Add this to my memoirs. I recall a message received on this day in 2151. It was after the September ninth disappearance of my roommate, Richard Daniels.”
“Okay, I’ll fix this later,” Rick muttered to himself. The outhouse was smelly and Lucretia – ah, Lucretia! She was waiting and somewhere in there he’d have to go back to his real mission, which was to accompany a historian observing William Penn.
He hurriedly typed out a message.
To: Craig Willets, in care of the NX-01
November 13, 2151
I’m sorry I left so abruptly. I don’t know how much Captain Archer has explained to you. Of course we cannot be roommates anymore. I know we did not always see eye to eye on how clean to keep our cabin, but you are a good person and I consider you a friend.
However, given the disarray, I ended up with a pair of your boots in error. I am sending them back to you with this note. Check your closet.
Best of luck to you. I know that you will have great adventures.
Richard Daniels, TIC
He set his PADD to temporal communications mode and adjusted it to the last-known position of the NX-01 and hit send. He then hit the controls on a temporal transporter, thereby neatly retrieving the boots and sending them from the Temporal Integrity Commission in 3097 to the last known position of Craig Willets’s closet on the NX-01 on November thirteenth, 2151.
He then turned off the PADD and emerged, and washed up at a little basin nearby, with rough soap and a buckskin towel. So refreshed, he dashed back to the widow Crossman and a bit of fun before he’d have to get back to work.
And on the 2151 NX-01, a rather surprised Craig Willets retrieved an odd PADD message and, amidst the mess in his bunk, he found boots in the back of his closet.
“Continuing personal log,” Craig dictated in 2234, “I think Daniels screwed up. He probably would have preferred sending me my property back on the actual date of his disappearance, on September ninth of 2151. But I was a messy guy then, and I still am, but I’ve gotten a bit better over time, I think. Still, for a while there, I was the lowest Engineering crewman on the NX-01, and I roomed with a time traveler. Once, at Movie Night, we watched an old film called The Odd Couple. It was before Daniels left. And we laughed about it, when we realized that he was Felix and I was Oscar. So wherever you are, Felix, here’s a salute from your old pal, Oscar.”
In 3069, four-year-old Otra D’Angelo proves to be more than a match for her exasperated parents, Marco and Chefra.
In humans, it’s called the Terrible Twos. In pure-blooded Witannen, it happens right around age seven. Otra D’Angelo, being half and half, more or less split the difference, and so this particular episode occurred when she was four.
She had been, up to that point, by all accounts, a lovely, precocious and happy child. She mostly looked like her mother, Chefra. They both had, in lieu of hair, what looked like almost a bouquet of flowers growing out of their scalps, which changed color, depending upon mood. The flowers – called chavecoi – were not sentient. There were more like symbiotic hitchhikers, and moved independently. They were useful in the event of a drought, for they could photosynthesize. About the only thing that proved that Otra was Marco D’Angelo’s little girl was that she didn’t have the vestigial wings sported by pure Witannen like Chefra.
At age four, Marco and Chefra’s one and only came to a stage in her life that all truly sentient species come to. It is described by a two-word phrase that can make grown men weep and adult women, human or Witannen, beg for mercy.
Otra liked being her mother’s little baby, so appeals to maturity did not work. She could sense, in a way, that Chefra was itching to go back to work. This was, perhaps, a foreshadowing of Otra’s very real gift, developed later in her life, for seeing alternate timelines. But at age four, she was attuned to Mommy and Daddy, and so her visions were of someone leaving for some reason or another and so her overactive preschool mind conjured up the best way to assure that these leave-takings would not happen too frequently, if at all.
Her parents had met at a trade show for starship engine parts, as they were both in the business. Her father had swept her mother off her feet by being able to name all of the parts of a starship engine in formal Witannen speech, complete with more or less correct pronunciation – including clicks – and a proven mastery of that language’s tortured syntax.
Such devotion to detail and desire to impress her had sealed the deal for Chefra, and so she had fallen, hopelessly. Otra arrived on the scene about two years later, as Chefra had gotten pregnant quickly, and gestation for Witannen women was about as exquisitely long as that of elephants on Earth – a good two years.
At home, four languages were spoken, and the three of them switched among them, more or less effortlessly – formal Witannen for between the adults, conversational Witannen for speaking to Otra, English and, in Marco’s most intimate or exasperated moments, Italian.
Marco began that day, in 3069, speaking a little Italian sprinkled with English to the little one. “Oh, Otra! You are Sinatra, but without the sin!” That made her laugh. “Let us see how you have done this morning.”
There was a product, of course, but it was in the wrong place, her swaddling. He sighed, and switched to full English. “Little garden, we need for you to do this.”
“Will you do it for Mommy?”
“For Daddy?” He looked at her with pleading eyes.
“Otra, now, bella, don’t you want to go to the big day care with all of your friends?”
“Huh.” He thought for a moment. “Don’t you remember that big book we read? You know, how Arisian children go to the potty. And Bajoran children go. And Calafan children go to the potty. And Daranaean children go. And, and Imvari children and Klingon children and human children and Ocampan children and Vilusun children and Enolian children and Xindi Reptilian children and Witannen children do, too! Remember, Otra?”
“Big purple book!”
“Yes, yes, it was purple, cara.” He made his eyes big again. “Can’t you go like the pretty Betazoid children and the Ferengi and the Andorian children? Please?”
She shook her head, little chavecoi bouncing and changing to a peach color and then to a kind of aubergine.
“Here, let’s try this, giardino piccolo. And, uh, bring Talking Talla with you.” Talking Talla was a lifelike Andorian baby doll. “Maybe Talla wants to go in the potty.”
“Talla doesn’t go potty, Daddy. Don’t be silly!”
“Oh? But what does Otra do?”
The little one heard something and ran to the window, chavecoi bouncing and flying behind her and turning shades of lavender. “There’s a shuttle.” She pointed.
“Ah, my ride.”
“Can I go, too, Daddy?”
“No, no, sweetheart.” He got an idea. A little white lie. “Little girls who do not go in the potty cannot go on the big shuttle.” He straightened up. “Chefra! I have to go.”
Chefra came out of their home office. “Anything yet?” she asked, in formal Witannen speech, her tongue clicking and popping.
“Nothing,” he sighed. “I wish you could come to the convention with me.”
“Me, too.” She looked down at Otra and tried not to become annoyed with her daughter’s obstinacy. Her own chavecoi swooped around and paled and turned yellow and then golden. “I’m going to miss you. I love you.” They kissed. “Come say bye-bye to Daddy.”
Otra put her little arms out and Marco picked her up. “Will you be a good girl for Mommy?” he asked in conversational Witannen, humming and clicking to get the syntax just right.
“Yes!” The little chavecoi dipped and dived and turned blue.
“And will you go in the potty for Mommy? Please?”
In 3087, a young Andorian is recruited to work at Section 31 by Agent Daniel Beauchaine and others.
The section recruits in mysterious ways.
This was the mantra that Telatharia told herself, over and over again, as she was taken from her home on Andor to God knows where.
There was beaming – that was actually to Lafa V. Then a shuttle flew her, along with a few others, somewhere else. There was some sort of sleeping gas pumped in, so the passengers had slept through all of that as a Kazon pilot got them … somewhere.
Then there was more beaming. This time, it was to a semi-tropical place that might have been Risa or Ceti Alpha V. That time, she was awake long enough to see her fellow passengers. There was a tall human guy, light blond with a reddish face and a beard, looking like the epitome of Scandinavian. In her mind – no one had introduced themselves – she called him Sven. There were two Xindi Reptilian girls, probably in their twenties or so, in the latest fashions. There was an older human guy, also bearded, losing his hair. He had on dirty outdoor gear and looked like some sort of a survivalist. There were others – Bajorans and Romulans and the like – but the gas hit again and so she was left to wonder about them and had not developed a terribly clear picture.
That time, they were set onto some odd place which was barely on the edge of habitable. They were all masked. The pilot took off and no one could really be understood through the masks as the planet – a tiny place – was heading into its day. It seemed to be one of those places with a really long day and night, and a major temperature differential between the two.
One by one, everyone began being beamed out. Then, apparently, there was more of a sense of urgency as the area began to burst into flames. The remainder, so far as Telatharia could determine, were all beamed up together. They landed inside a building.
The building was old, though, and chilly. People began to remove their masks. No one keeled over. So far, so good.
“I don’t know why they didn’t give us a guide,” complained one of the Xindi girls to the other. The two of them began to chat – fast friends. Telatharia stayed quiet. She was the only Andorian there.
Sven spoke, and he had as much of a Swedish accent as she had figured. “I do not like the, the small spaces.” He started to walk in the direction of a sign pointed toward stairs. The sign was in Federation Standard.
“How old d’ya think this place is?” the survivalist asked her.
“Does it matter?” She was in no mood for chitchat. Besides, wasn’t he in competition for an opening at the Section? She’d be damned if she gave him anything that he could use to gain an advantage over her.
The survivalist shrugged, and asked the same question of one of the Romulans. “Twenty-sixth century? Twenty-seventh? I cannot tell,” was the response.
But that, to Telatharia’s mind, made no sense. Her hunch was confirmed when the door to the stairs was forced open by Sven and a Klingon. The stairway was there, but it was bifurcated. One side was going up. The other, down. And they were both twisted, as if the building had sustained some sort of major bombing. There was a gouge in the wall where real paint had flaked and chipped off. The building was, undoubtedly, older.
About half of the group took the twisted stairs down, while the other went up. Telatharia didn’t much love heights but there was something about the illogic of going up rather than down that appealed to her. If I were testing for the Section, she mused, I would do many – but not all – things backwards. Going up should be one of them.
She followed Sven up the stairs, and he helped her along on occasion. His eyes were an impossibly light blue, almost white, and she wondered if he was fully human. Perhaps there was Aenar somewhere deep in his genome, or Efrosian. Behind her, the Xindi girls, a Klingon and the human survivalist came as well. Down went the Romulans, the Bajorans, another Klingon and a Daranaean. She didn’t pay them any more mind beyond seeing them go.
The Klingon and Sven pushed their shoulders against a door, and they were in a small room. There was an old-fashioned machine gun on the floor. The survivalist picked it up. “I wonder how old it is,” he said.
The same Xindi who had gotten the building’s age wrong shrugged. “Twentieth century?” That seemed close to being correct.
Another doorway opened to what looked a bit like an elevator cage. The survivalist motioned for Telatharia and the chatty Xindi to get in. He followed them, still holding the gun. He punched a button on the wall and the elevator went up slightly, and then shuddered as it split. His side split off, leaving Telatharia with the Xindi. Their remainder went up a bit and then what felt like ribbons twirled around each of them, pulling them back and holding them, almost like living seatbelts. Telatharia felt her back to the wall of the opened remainder of the elevator car as it split again, and she was inside a small triangle-shaped space that went up diagonally and rotated. It messed with her equilibrium and, when it finally stopped, she was a bit dizzy.
The odd car had left her at what looked to be a banquet hall. There were hundreds of people of many species, all talking to each other. All manner of foods were set out. She was offered hors d’oeuvres and refused. The people must have figured out she didn’t belong there, and she realized she was being followed. Noticing a sign for stairs, she went to it as quickly as possible.
As before, there were staircases going both up and down, and they were both twisted. On her own, she went up. She pushed open the door, and found she was on the roof.
She looked up into the sky. Regardless of all of the work that had been done to keep her from knowing where she was, faking a planet’s sky was not easy. That much, she knew. And there was a bluish sky with a yellow medium-sized star and, faint and near the horizon, one large moon. “Earth,” she whispered to herself.
Looking around, she could see a bit of the city she was in. There were other ruined buildings. In the distance, there was a large body of water with the remains of a bridge. But it wasn’t the Golden Gate. It was far too squarish and plain.
She went over ideas in her head. What were ruined human cities? The whole area looked like an old atomic bomb had gone off, or something of equivalent destructive force. There were Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but there were too many other large buildings for that to seem correct. There were also cities like Beijing, destroyed during the Dominion attack on Earth by the Breen. But that had been in 2375, and the building just felt older than that. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but that seemed wrong.
She then spotted a bit of twisted metal on the ruined roof. It was – what? Then she remembered the word for it – rebar. “So this is a city destroyed during the Earth World War III,” she said to herself.
She wracked her brains to remember the names of destroyed cities. There was Lagos, Nigeria. There was Bogotá, Colombia. But neither seemed right. There was also Teheran. No, it was somewhere else. After all, the signs were in Federation Standard – also known as English.
Then she remembered – Duluth, Minnesota. That small city had been destroyed in, if she recalled correctly, 2037, a good eighteen hundred plus years before the present. Plus there had been issues with lingering radiation, so a lot of that city had never been rebuilt, despite the passage of so much time. It was the only reasonable explanation as to where she was, she figured.
There were footsteps behind her. She turned, and it was Sven. He bent over and kissed her cheek, and said very quietly, “No one is trustworthy.”
“Then neither are you,” she whispered back.
There was a shot and she saw him crumple in front of her, blood on his chest from the exit wound. She looked up in horror and could not see his assailant. There was a blow behind her head.
She awoke outside, but on the ground. She shook herself awake quickly, remembering that things were bad but, somehow, she was in old Duluth. There were buildings in various stages of repair. Walking into one of them, there were any number of people of many species who were going about their business. She spotted the Xindi girls and considered going over to them, but then thought better of that. Someone thrust an old-fashioned piece of paper in her hands. Room 413, it said.
She jogged around, looking for a way to get to the fourth floor. Some staircases only led to the second floor. Others led to the fourth, but the room numbers were too high, or too low. Finally, she managed to find 413. Cautiously, she opened the door.
The door whined a bit as it opened. It was pitch black in there. “Who are you?” someone yelled at her. Another voice added, “What is your mission?” And then a third added, “Where did you come from?” While it was possible to tell that the voices were all different, accents and genders were well-hidden by some sort of vocal masking.
She said nothing. Finally, the third voice asked, “What are you doing in Kir?”
“This isn’t Kir,” Telatharia said, “We aren’t even on Vulcan.”
“Where do you think you are?” asked the first voice.
“I’m not telling you,” Telatharia replied.
“Very well,” said the second voice, “can you tell us when the building you are in was damaged?”
“Probably 2037 or so.”
“So it was eighteen hundred and twenty years ago,” said the first voice. “Do you know the means of destruction?”
“Possibly a nuclear device or a pulse weapon. Due to the age of the damage, it’s impossible to really be sure.”
“Of the people you were with when you landed, who was trustworthy?” asked the second voice.
“No one,” Telatharia said.
“But isn’t that a paradox?” asked the third voice. “If someone tells you to trust no one, and you trust that bit of information, well, isn’t that a contradiction?”
“I already didn’t trust any of you,” said the Andorian. “So the information was hardly worthwhile.”
There was a slight sound of footfalls as someone found a switch and turned on the lights. Telatharia was able to see her three inquisitors. The first voice belonged to one of the Xindi girls. The second, to Sven. The third belonged to the survivalist.
The survivalist spoke. “There were several tests today. We wanted to know if you could determine where you were. We wanted to know whether you could figure out a pattern of destruction with a fair degree of accuracy although it did not need to be perfect. We also wanted you to get here, and we wanted you to do so with minimal assistance.”
“So, where do you think you were?” asked the Xindi.
“I know we’re in Duluth,” Telatharia said.
“No,” said Sven. Funny, his Swedish accent was completely gone. He hit something on his PADD, and the room showed the familiar lines of a holodeck simulation’s bare bones room. “You’re on a ship. The identity of the ship is classified.”
“But it was, to be sure, a simulation of Duluth,” said the survivalist. “So is that how you determined the year of destruction?”
“Yes,” Telatharia admitted, “the fact that there was rebar told me that it was later than Hiroshima but earlier than Beijing. It had to be the Third World War. It seemed too chilly for Lagos or Bogotá. After that, I didn’t know the names of a lot of destroyed cities from Earth. I guessed there were too many tall buildings for Teheran and then I just went with the only other name I knew. I guessed that you wanted to make the problem difficult but not impossible.”
“Why didn’t you try to work with any of your fellow recruits?” asked Sven.
“Nobody’s trustworthy, remember?”
“Touché,” he replied, laughing a little. “Telatharia, we are prepared to offer you a position with the Section, if you want it. It will be hard work, and it will be isolating, but we feel it is worthwhile.”
“How long do I have to decide?”
“Two Andorian days,” replied the survivalist. “I will get you back home. It’ll be a lot less roundabout.”
“And the other recruits?” asked Telatharia.
“You’re the only one who passed,” said the Xindi. “They’re all going back in a far more roundabout manner.” She got up. “I hope you will consent to joining us at Section 31.”
The two men walked Telatharia to a shuttle waiting in one of the ship’s bays. Sven asked, “Do you have that piece of paper?”
“Turn it over and hold it up to the light.”
Telatharia did so, and there was a name on it – Steven Reed. “Steven Reed?”
“That’s me,” he said. “Dan here will give you an address to write to. You will address your note to him if your answer is no, and to me if your answer is yes. Good-bye, Telatharia.”
She and Dan boarded the shuttle and he started piloting. “If you decide against joining us, write to me, Daniel Beauchaine.”
“All right,” she said. “Do you like the job?”
“It’s very complicated. You’re on your toes all the time. But don’t take my word for it,” he said as they made the jump to warp, “after all, you said so yourself – I’m not trustworthy.”
The Honky Tonk Angel by jespah
Kevin O’Connor and Jhasi Tantharis go on their first date, on December 21, 3088.
Jhasi Tantharis waited a little anxiously for her date to show up. She was early, hanging around the box office. “Meet you there, nineteen hundred hours, sharp, on December twenty-first, 3088,” had been the message. It was still eighteen hundred fifty-three hours, still early.
But she was a bit anxious. A first date! It was all so very exciting. Plus, she had never been to a baseball game before. Even though it was December, it was still baseball season. The season now went on all year long. No matter where you were in the galaxy, or when in any given year it was, you could always see or attend a baseball game.
They had met at a holiday party, a few nights previously. He was an engineer, dragged there by a coworker, a fellow named Archie Leach who had been looking to make time with a Trill named Parul Odan. Leach had needed a wingman, so Kevin O’Connor had been, at the last minute, pressed into service.
They’d talked, they’d laughed, and they’d made the date. Leach had struck out, but O’Connor had connected. And now Jhasi was getting a little anxious as the minutes ticked by.
Suddenly, there was a parting of the crowd. “’Scuse me! ‘Scuse me! Comin’ through!” bellowed a newly-familiar voice. He came up to her. “Been waitin’ long?”
“No, it’s all right. Shall we go in?”
He eyed her. Her little pink dress was hardly suited for a baseball game, and it looked like mustard stains or other possible ephemera might not come out in the first washing. But she looked good, no doubt about that. “Sure, but you need a cap first. You gotta have a cap.”
“Why? I have never been to one of these games before.”
“Never? Huh, well, what if we do rally caps? You won’t be able to do that. Here,” he steered her over to a stall where there were caps on display. “Pick whichever one you like.”
“Uh, that one.”
“That’s the other team, Dar –” he stopped himself. “Can I tell ya somethin’?”
“Sure,” she said, feeling along and selecting a cap from the correct team’s display. She was blind, like all pure Aenar, but she had a separate sense about her that allowed her to understand where she was in any given situation, and what was around her. She needed no guide.
“I call most women Darlin’. Wanna know why I do that?” She nodded affirmatively. He continued, “It’s a bad habit I got. It’s ‘cause I don’t know their names or I don’t remember or I don’t care, most o’ the time. Not very nice, I know, Josie.”
She put on a cap that had holes cut out to accommodate Aenar or Andorian antennae. Her white hair was in two pigtails. The whole thing made it appear as if she had four antennae, instead of two. The cap was too big, and it covered her face. She laughed. “You got my name wrong!”
“Aw, Christ! I did?”
“Yes. It’s Jhasi, not Josie.”
“Huh. I was wonderin’ why a nice Aenar girl like you was named like you was a honky tonk angel.”
A better-fitting cap was selected. “I like it.”
“We’ll take it,” Kevin said to the Romulan manning the stall.
“I don’t just mean the cap. I mean the name, too.”
“Oh, well you’re a generous woman, Jhasi.”
“I’m just a honky tonk angel.”
They walked into the stadium.
The baseball game was slow, as games sometimes can be. It was a human team, the Ganymede Hunters, versus an Imvari team with an unpronounceable name that translated to the Brawlers. The Imvari were tall – most of them were over two meters – with bluish skin and orangey horns around their faces. They appeared to be formidable opponents, but their pitcher did not have terribly good control.
“I don’t understand much of this,” Jhasi said, “the pitcher turns and most of the time it is all right, but this time, it was what you called a balk?”
“Yeah,” Kevin said, “they’re not allowed t’just go walkin’ ‘round the field. If it doesn’t look too purposeful, they can get dinged for that.”
“This is very complex. Thank you for explaining it.” She pulled the cap down a little.
“Well, I know you’re tryin’ hard to understand it.” He looked at her, white antennae moving, contrasting with the cap, tiny hands clutching her PADD on which he’d had a program downloaded as he futilely tried to teach her how to score the game. “I, um, it’s not all that great with me. I got plenty things wrong, y’see.”
“I eat too much – that should be obvious.” They were sitting in a section with variable seats that could be made as narrow or wide as needed, and he needed for them to be very wide indeed, seeing as he weighed close to a quarter of a metric ton. “I’m lazy when I can get away with it. I’m impatient a lotta the time. I don’t suffer fools gladly.”
“But I don’t chase ever’thing in a skirt like Archie does. I keep my nose clean. I called my mother regularly when she was still alive, God rest her scaly soul. I don’t help little old ladies across the street, but I do try not to be a total ass most of the time.”
She smiled a little from under her cap. “Well, I am messy. And I know almost nothing about baseball.” Her antennae shifted to the left in tandem for a second. “And I do not contact my family as often as I should. And I give up too easily on some things.”
He took her hand, the tiny pale thing in his huge one, with the shiny green scales on the wrist. “Don’t give up too easily on this.”
In 3096, Richard Daniels joins the Temporal Integrity Commission.
“Time portals are nearly instantaneous,” assured the Chief Engineer.
“I thought I was getting a time ship.”
“Only to go to the Mirror.”
Their boss, Admiral Carmen Calavicci, walked in. “Your first assignment is to 2151. Have you studied how to fake it as a sous-chef?”
“A little. Why don’t they use stardates?”
“This era’s before all that,” Carmen said, “You’ll find yourself using the old style calendar most of the time; it’s easier that way.”
“Don’t forget to look wide-eyed; it’s all new to ‘em,” said the engineer.
“Welcome to the Temporal Integrity Commission, Mr. Daniels!” enthused the admiral.
As 1999 changes over to 2000, and 3099 and changes to 3100, Richard Daniels reflects on his life.
So tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1999
Prince’s voice rang through the old Commonwealth Armory, which had become a gymnasium and a party venue at Boston University. The big room was filled with dancing bodies and, in the corner, one lone observer, a kind of traveler. He looked a bit like a graduate student. A coed skipped past. She turned, stopped and looked at him. “Hey!”
“Uh, hey, yeah.”
“It’s boiling hot in here, loud as all get out, and you can’t stop looking at your phone?”
“Phone? Uh, yeah.” The guy who looked like a graduate student quickly pocketed his PADD. The device was not from 1999. It was from 3099. But the old Armory building was dark enough, so no one had noticed.
“Ready for a new millennium and a new century?” she asked, yelling.
“Sure!” But for him it would be the thirty-second and not the twenty-first century, and the millennium wouldn’t turn over for quite a while.
She pulled his arm to get him onto the dance floor but he shook his head. “Suit yourself.” She ran off to grab someone else who was more willing.
“Y2K bug my ass!” someone else yelled randomly, amid the din. The music changed.
One two three four five; everybody in the car, so c’mon let’s ride! It was who? Lou Bega, a one-hit wonder. The traveler stood there and listened, not saying anything, not checking his PADD. There was no real mission; this was just a historian’s jaunt and, frankly, the historian was dancing with various students and wasn’t working too hard.
The music kept changing. The traveler kept silently identifying the artists as everybody else danced.
Livin’ la vida loca … Ricky Martin. So why don’t you slide? Goo Goo Dolls. Oh where, oh where can my baby be? Pearl Jam. Do you believe in life after love? Cher. I want it that way. Backstreet Boys. Gimme your heart, make it real, or else forget about it …. Santana with Rob Thomas.
“Hey, it’s midnight!” somebody yelled, and people started kissing, and some started singing. The historian was singing with the students, the usual old New Year’s song.
The traveler knew the words to that song, too, but his heart wasn’t in it. He just stood and thought of another song from the now-ended year. It was by Sugar Ray, and the party DJ had not seen fit to play that tune. But Senior Temporal Agent Richard Malcolm Daniels knew the lyrics, and thought of them all the same.
when my life has passed me by
I'll lay around and wonder why you were always there for me
in the eyes of a passerby
I'll look around for another try
and’ll fade away
Just close your eyes and I'll take you there
This place is warm without a care
We'll take a swim in the deep blue sea
I go to leave as you reach for me
Better things will come our way
No matter what they try to say you were always there for me
when the sun begins to shine
I hear a song from another time
and’ll fade away
and’ll fade away
So far, so long, so far away
So far, so long, so far away (away, away)
when my life has passed me by
I'll lay around and wonder why you were always there for me
in the eyes of a passerby
I'll look around for another try
And'll fade away
And'll fade away
And'll fade away
And'll fade away
And'll fade away
And'll fade away
And'll fade away
In early 3101, Richard is prepared for his 1699 Penn’s Woods trip by Crystal Sherwood.
“Where are you going again?” asked Crystal Sherwood. She set about tidying up her work station, moving old fashioned combs and scissors around in manner that was a tad obsessive-compulsive.
“1699 Penn’s Woods,” replied Temporal Agent Richard Daniels, who sat in a chair and was wearing a smock to protect his clothing.
“Hmmm. I gotta grow your hair. Hang on.” She mixed up a concoction that looked not unlike Asian plum sauce, and more or less had its consistency. She grabbed a wooden paddle that was about the shape and heft of an old tongue depressor, and began daubing the stuff on his head.
“That stuff’s cold!” he complained. Behind him, the viewer showed a strange Tellarite sport and then the crawler showed the time – 1417 hours – and the date – February the 12th of 3101.
“Hold still or you’ll get major hair growin’ outta yer ears.” She replied. “’Course that might explain my Uncle Dave. You know, he’s the kinda guy who’s got eyebrows that look like caterpillars and ear hair that sticks out like a pair o’ antlers.”
“It’s still freezing.”
“Yeah, well, it doesn’t work so good if it’s warmed up. And you don’t wanna be here for an hour, right?”
He looked her over. She was twenty-something, blonde, and quite easy on the eyes. Actually, that wouldn’t be so bad at all. “Uh, yeah, right.”
“Why isn’t your place doin’ this, anyway?”
“I told you, they don’t have a Quartermaster.”
“What? So you go zinging around in time and nobody suits you up?” Crystal was incredulous.
“I think they’re trying to automate it,” Rick explained. “It’s a pity and it really doesn’t work right, anyway, so far as I can tell. I mean, there have to be subtleties. I guess the computers would know that, but then I wouldn’t be treated to your company.” She was wearing a low-cut blouse and he none too subtly peeked as she leaned over a little to redistribute the stuff on his head. She turned around to grab something from a table and he got the opposing view, which was equally appealing. She threw a tumbler full of water at him. “Hey!”
“Dammit, I meant to get your scalp. Just a sec.” She grabbed a second tumbler full, and this time was a lot less cavalier with its placement, and doused his scalp. He had cold, wet – whatever it was that looked like plum sauce, plus water – stuff dripping down his neck and the smock.
“You must really hate me, Crystal.”
“It’s how you stop the hair growth. Sheesh! I am trying to make you presentable for uh, what was the time period again?”
“And so you see, keratin growth accelerator is a fun invention and alla that, but ya gotta stop it. Otherwise, you end up with more hair than, well, than anything on ya. There were these experiments done with it, I dunno, it was a century ago, somethin’ like that, and they rubbed it all ovah monkeys. Now, you could not give me enough to give a monkey a full body massage, know what I’m sayin’? But anyways, they didn’t stop it in time and so’s the keratin growth accelerator, what it does is, it takes the proteins outta your body and converts them into hair. This is fine for a few minutes or so, am I right?”
“You let it go for a few hours, and your body converts all your proteins to hair. Poor things! It’s supposed ta be a really lousy way ta go. And then I guess they got nothin’ to bury but a big, wet hairball. Now, where were we?”
“Heh, uh, you had doused me with ice water,” he reminded her.
“Yeah, well, that stops the process. So ya got no chance of becoming a big, wet hairball. At least, not today.” She grinned at him. Then something caught her eye, and she grabbed another tumbler of water.
“Cool yer jets! This is just the finesse work, see here?” she pulled lightly on a clump of strands that were already past his elbow. “This is no good.” This time, she plunged her fingers into the water. “Man, that is cold!”
“See, I told you.”
“Never mind, you.” She pressed her wet fingers against the roots of the clump of runaway strands. “There, that should work. Now let’s get you washed up.”
She led him over to where there were sinks and, again, he none too subtly checked her out. Her boss, a Tellarite, nodded at them, and then went back to his own client and a lively discussion of the latest Kreesta matches on Tellar, one of which was currently on the viewer.
This was the best part of a haircut. The coconut shampoo, the grapefruit conditioner, the hands massaging his scalp, the low-cut blouse more or less at eye level, albeit upside-down. He smiled up at her. “I wonder if my department will ever want to hire a Quartermaster.”
“Well, it’s not such a bad idea. Not that I’m lobbying for the job or anything. But I cannot believe that nobody knew this!”
He didn’t tell her that the computers were more or less familiar with the era. He just liked getting away from the Temporal Integrity Commission and heading out on occasion. Plus this one promised to be a decent and pleasant outing. He’d go along with a historian and observe William Penn. Nothing more. It wasn’t like being the replacement tail gunner on the Enola Gay, while that mission’s historian infiltrated and observed as a replacement assistant flight engineer. Or the trip to Pompeii, AD 79, where Vesuvius had erupted and there was no way to stop it or save the panicked citizens of Pompeii and neighboring Herculaneum.
“You daydreamin’ there?”
“Uh, a little,” he admitted.
He followed her back to the chair, and she started cutting and shaping his now-shoulder-length locks. “Why don’t you use a phase cutter?”
“Those things make me nervous. I prefer scissors. That way, I can’t just slip and take the top o’ yer head off.”
“Is there a danger of that?”
“Only from him, when he’s watchin’ Kreesta.” She gestured over at the viewer with the hand that was holding the scissors. “I dunno how he can watch that, particularly while eating!”
“Technique!” replied her boss, turning back to his client.
“Whoever decided to combine table tennis and competitive eating, well, let’s just say they was smokin’ the good stuff when they did that,” Crystal said. She snipped a little more, and then dried his hair with a hand-held unit. She grabbed a mirror. “Whaddaya think?”
“Don’t I need to wear it in a ponytail?”
“Oh, yeah. Computer, make me a grosgrain ribbon.”
She tied the ribbon to his hair. “Now, Yer Majesty?”
“It’s great. And, um, what do you think I should be wearing?”
“You gonna be wealthy or poor or in between?”
“In between, I think.”
“Knee breeches, I’m thinkin’. Stockings and a long coat, too. Maybe a little faded, like you’ve had ‘em for a while. And a tricorner hat, too.”
“Yes!” she playfully swatted him on an arm. “Those guys always wore hats. And you get these buckle shoes, too, I think.” She paused for a second. “I don’t think your department doesn’t know this. I mean, they’d be kinda incompetent if they didn’t.”
“You got me,” Rick admitted. “Can’t a guy just get a haircut in peace?”
“Yeah,” she smiled at him. “And watch Tellarite sports and listen to me babble. Alla that’s okay. You come back if ya need any more psychotherapy with scissors, ya hear?”
Richard Daniels’s careless decision by inaction rips through the timeline in both universes.
Takes place in 3101 and references AD 79, 1699, 1929, 2151, 2156, 2258 and 3098.
In 3102, Richard and a historian are accidentally sent to 1417 Cordoba instead of 1616 Padua, and Rick meets Irene of Castile.
“I insist on taking a time portal,” stated the historian, a human-Vulcan hybrid named Kalothin.
“We’ve got some accuracy issues with ‘em,” explained Chief Engineer Kevin O’Connor.
Kevin’s boss, Admiral Carmen Calavicci, looked on. “He’s right, you know. A better choice, truly, would be for you to delay your observational voyage until the Audrey Niffenegger can be repaired. Time ships are better when it’s a trip of over a millennium, and yours is about fifteen hundred years.”
“I want to go now,” he insisted.
Carmen shot time traveler Richard Daniels a quick look – the guy seemed to have nearly no Vulcan blood in him whatsoever if he was that impatient. “You’ll need to sign a waiver, then, absolving us of any liability in the event that you don’t get to 1616 Padua. Plus Richard here will accompany you.”
“Standard operating procedure,” Rick explained. “It’ll be fine. Our pretext will be that we are itinerant day laborers. You’ll need to camouflage your ears, of course.”
“Yes,” Kalothin conceded.
“And Boris Yarin will give you a shot of a temporary version of stem cell growth accelerator,” Carmen added, “that way; you can’t be killed by any nasty bugs.”
“But that’s nothing against amputations,” Rick stated, “so try not to get a finger cut off.”
“I’ll, I’ll keep that in mind.”
They were ready in less than an hour. Their attire was cloaks, flaxen shirts, breeches and clogs. They each wore somewhat flat hats as well.
“Ready to see Galileo?” Rick asked. Kalothin nodded. Rick looked at Kevin. “Let’s go.”
Kevin hit the controls and they were whisked away. He looked at a monitor and frowned, once they’d disappeared. “Damn.”
“What’s the matter?” Carmen inquired, a bit of alarm in her voice.
“Shoulda waited for the Audrey to be fixed. Looks like they’re off both spatially and temporally.”
“How bad is it?”
“I’ll triangulate and find ‘em. I am thinking they’re still in Europe. And I think they’re within two hundred years or so, give or take a decade.”
“Let’s put a rush on this,” Carmen commanded, “Those people still believe in witches.”
They landed in a farmer’s field, where there were indeterminate plants growing. Barley? Wheat? Hay? Rick had no idea.
“This doesn’t look like Padua,” Kalothin complained.
“I’m sure it isn’t,” Rick sighed. “Kevin’ll have to find us.”
“How long does that generally take?”
“From his end, minutes. From ours, it’s usually a day or two when we’re this far away spatially and temporally. Shoulda waited for Audrey.”
“I – yes, you’re right of course. Perhaps we can salvage the situation. Whatever this time period is, it may still be worth studying.”
“Huh. If it’s medieval times, our clothes and our pretext are probably okay. Hold onto that portable PADD and don’t let anyone see it.” Rick indicated a small device that Kalothin was holding. “You might have to adjust the translation setting. These folks might or might not speak Italian.” Rick had no such worries, as he had a tiny communicator permanently embedded behind his left ear. A tap or two and it would switch to German or Bantu or whatever the natives were speaking. But he still carried a portable PADD. The device was no bigger than a stick of chewing gum, and had two rings that could be worn around the fingers. The device was tucked into the palm of his hand; the only evidence of its existence was the two carrying rings around his knuckles.
“Let’s go this way,” Kalothin suggested. The crops seemed to be thinning; it may have been near the border of the farmer’s land.
There was, in a kilometer or so, a village. They listened for the sounds of speech and adjusted their translations accordingly. There was a small acting troupe performing on a raised platform as people threw bits of copper or even left a little produce in payment.
Snatches of speech – donde esta – and – derecho – and – iglesia – and Rick’s translator kicked in. It was Spanish.
The little play ended with a song. There was an actress, a rare but not impossible sight. There were darker people, including the actress. Kalothin shepherded Rick over to the side of the stage. “My guess is that this is Moorish Spain. I heard what I thought were a few Arabic words in there before the translator latched on.”
“Right. Got any idea of the year?”
“Something before 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella drove out the Moors.”
“What are you fellows whispering about?” asked a not unpleasant voice – the actress.
“We have been traveling for so long,” Rick explained, “that we are uncertain of the year.”
“Oh! We travel a great deal as well,” she indicated her troupe. “It is the year of our lord, 1417.”
“I admit,” Kalothin added, “we are even uncertain of the name of this village.”
She shrugged. “I think we are in Cordoba. It can all run together after a while. I am Irene, of Castile.”
“Ricardo,” Rick said, “and, uh, this is José. We are from, er, Barcelona.”
“I believe we have been there,” Irene stated. She walked over to her troupe to converse with them a little.
“Pity we’re not at the Isle of Man,” Kalothin said, “this is the year that their parliament first met.” Rick looked at him so he quietly added, “I know, I know, I shoulda waited for Audrey.”
Irene returned. “Do you have another performance?” Rick inquired.
“No. It is nothing as organized as all that. Are you hungry? We do not have much, but we can share with others who wander.”
The audience had scattered and the troupe walked to a small encampment. One of the men started a fire, and the meager produce was washed in a nearby creek. Bits of copper were traded for a chicken, which Irene plucked as they sat together. The remainder of the troupe – all male – built up the fire and sang songs that neither Kalothin nor Rick recognized.
“It’s rather rare to see a woman acting,” Kalothin ventured.
“My brothers used to act, but they have died,” she explained as she plucked. “And so I am filling in.” Once the chicken was plucked, it was placed on a spit and roasted on the fire. “Have you jobs?” she asked.
“We go from town to town, doing what needs to be done,” Kalothin explained. “And then we move on.”
“Do you sing?”
“Rather poorly,” Rick admitted. “Not so well as you do, I’m afraid.”
“The ability is mostly inborn, I believe,” she opined. “Ah, it smells as if the chicken is mostly done. I believe the limbs can be taken off the flame now.”
The other members of the troupe took their shares and, once the remainder of the meat had finished cooking, Irene finally took her share and offered them some, along with a few carrots and cabbage leaves. “This is our feast,” she joked.
“It’s fine,” Rick assured her.
They ate in silence. Kalothin got up, as it was getting dark. “Off to look around for a bit.”
Rick looked up. “Don’t wander too far. We shouldn’t be too far from each other.” The time portal could still work, even if they weren’t right next to each other, but proximity would be helpful all the same.
“Just a look.” Kalothin indicated the underside of his left hand, where his portable PADD was tucked. He left to take readings.
Back in 3102, Kevin clicked around. “Damn time portals. We shouldn’t even tell people ‘bout ‘em, I’m thinkin’. Too much dang trouble.”
“I’m sure you’ll perform your usual magic,” Carmen patted him on the arm.
“Come,” Irene coaxed.
“Oh?” Rick asked.
“Yes, over here.” Dinner forgotten, they walked to a clearing, away from the others. The stars had come out. With no earthbound lights, save from various campfires and cooking fires, the visibility was off the charts. Thousands of stars were out. The moon had not yet risen.
Irene lay down on her back on the damp ground. “Isn’t it spectacular?”
Rick lay down beside her. “Hell, yeah.” He could see the Vulcan system’s star, the Xyrillian home world’s sun and any multitude of other friendly Alpha Quadrant territories.
“The priests say,” she explained. “That the stars are lights that God has hung in the sky. But I think they are the souls of the departed. I like to think that my three brothers are up there,” she pointed at Orion’s Belt, “and my mother is there,” the North Star, “and my Papa is here.” She indicated Arcturus.
“Maybe they’re worlds. Maybe there are people up there.”
“Worlds? How very curious. If they are worlds, as you say, where would you be from, Ricardo?”
He hunted around until he found Saturn. “Uh, there.” Close enough.
“Wanderer? Oh, yes, a planet. Actually, a wanderer around that bigger wanderer.” It was as close as he could come to telling her where he’d really been born – on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.
She laughed. “Wanderers around wanderers! Do they dance, around a maypole, or the like?”
“And what do they do when May is over?”
He smiled at that. “They dance even when it isn’t May.”
“How funny. Tell me, when you work, what do you do?”
“I fix things.” Timelines.
“I have never had such a knack. Tell me, have you seen any marvelous machines?”
Rick wracked his brains. What could he tell her about that would be era-appropriate? A compass? A steel-tipped plow? A clipper ship? A compass was old news. The others were far from being invented. “Uh, I dunno.”
“Ah, then you have not been to Cadiz.”
“I haven’t,” he admitted. That was the truth, in any era.
“There is the most wonderful thing. It is as a wheel. But wheels roll on the ground, yes?”
“This wheel, it is, eh, it is like this instead.” She put her hand out and turned it, palm facing the ground.
“That’s horizontal. Wheels are usually seen vertically,” he explained. Her hand was still extended, so he took it.
“Yes, yes, well, this wheel, it is very large, Ricardo. And it has four extra, eh, spokes. They are rounded, with a hollow center, like handles.”
“So a person would be able to hold onto the sides of this horizontal wheel?” He wasn’t following her.
“Perhaps, but a horse or an ox or a mule, they can be tied there. And you tie two mules, opposite one another. And you bade them to go to the left.”
“All right. And what does that do?”
“Strapped under the wheel, there is a great millstone, and another beneath that. The miller – he is the one who owns the great wheel – he places threshed grain between the two millstones. And as the mules are driven around in a circle, they make the upper millstone go up and down.”
“And what does this do?”
“It grinds the grain. And it is fast, too! But it is expensive. I have seen this particular miller, he is a wealthy man. People bring their grain to him from afar. And he gets a cut off the top, of the proffered grain. But he is wealthy, like I said, and he is very fat and his children are fat. They are, eh, they are set.”
“I imagine they are.”
“It is not, you see, I do not wish for a dull life, to stay in a small backwater village, such as this one.”
“But it would sure be nice to have the wealth, eh, Irene?”
“That is correct,” she said, “so you have never seen such a marvel?”
He’d seen the latest of time ship technology, on Kevin O’Connor’s PADD as the engineer was in the process of inventing it. He had the permanently implanted communicator, and it could effortlessly translate most of the galaxy’s known languages, and could reasonably guess at the remainder. He’d traveled at Warp 9 so many times, it was a yawner. “No, I have not seen such marvels.”
He leaned over and kissed her. There were still some things that were not improved by technology.
The following morning, Kalothin caught up with him. “These people aren’t too far beyond primitives,” he complained, “and in some ways, they’re worse.”
“I don’t know,” Richard replied, “they’ve got their own marvels.”
He heard a signal chime from his implanted communicator, and they hid behind a haystack as Kevin recalled them back to 3102, where other marvels awaited.
In 3104, Richard Daniels and Aramjul Sika travel to 2012 and find out just why the Borg never really got any traction in the Mirror Universe.
“Richard?” Admiral Carmen Calavicci knocked on the Temporal Agent’s office door while opening it.
“This is Aramjul Sika. He’s got an interesting historical mission in mind.” She gestured at a part-Xindi sloth, part-human guy who shook Rick’s hand.
“Nice to meet you, Agent Daniels,” said Sika.
“Likewise, I’m sure. Your mission?”
“I’ve been wondering why the Borg don’t seem to have ever gotten any sort of traction in the Mirror Universe,” replied the hybrid.
“Interesting question,” said Richard. “Got any specific time frame in mind?”
“Yes,” said Sika, “2012.”
“Oh?” asked Carmen.
“I’ve found some evidence of mirror Borg traveling to their version of the Alpha Quadrant,” replied the historian. “It’s of course earlier than we had it here, in 2063.”
“Indeed,” Carmen replied. “Well, I’ll leave you to it. Mister Sika, I think you can go to 2012 Terra without too much of a need for makeup or alterations. Perhaps trim your beard a bit. Standard period-appropriate garb is required of course. I do wish we had a dedicated Quartermaster. Perhaps my next man hour budget will allow it. Ta.” She departed.
“She’s right,” Rick said, “let’s get suited up. Where and when on Terra do you want to go?”
“I’d like to go to November the third – a few kilometers outside of Caledonia, Illinois. It’s farm country there.”
“Then I guess we’ll wear flannel shirts and jeans,” Richard said after consulting a PADD.
Properly attired, they took off in the Audrey Niffenegger, a time ship. “Why is this ship named what it is? And, er, why aren’t we just using a time portal?” asked Sika.
“Audrey – the real Audrey – she wrote The Time Traveler’s Wife. See, Deidre Katzman names all of the ships, and she likes old time travel fiction. She and Kevin O’Connor are working on a replacement for Audrey – the HG Wells,” Rick explained as he flew the ship. They were cloaked and were in the Delta Quadrant, as temporal flight could take a while and they didn’t want to be spotted and accidentally change history that way.
“And my other question?”
“Oh, yeah, it’s because we’re crossing to another universe. You have to fire what’s called a pulse shot and then you can scoot through. Coming up on 3000.”
“This ship seems slow, seeing as we started from 3104.”
“That’s why she’s being replaced. You might as well get some rest. I’ll call you when we hit the twenty-first century.”
Once he’d woken his guest, Richard began to fly spatially as well as temporally. When they were over Saturn, and the temporal display read 2015, he fired the pulse shot. The area sparkled and then showed red instead of silver, as the pore between the two universes began to open up. The vibe changed, and it felt like everything was suddenly downbeat. “That’s some bad mojo, right there,” he said to Sika.
“You’re tellin’ me. The Xindi people were more or less exterminated under the Empress Hoshi Sato. I’m not a fan of the Mirror Universe, but it’s interesting to study.”
They went through and the passage closed behind them.
Rick got them into a tight orbit above the moon – Luna in that universe – and grabbed the transporter remote control. “Okay,” he said, “we’re going to observe without interference. You know, of course, that any long-term contact is likely to result in what are called pariotric changes to the timeline. And that’s damage that we would have to repair. But a few minutes here and there are purely otric – that is, they have no appreciable effect on the timeline. But keep one thing in mind, Sika. We are likely going to see some bad stuff. Don’t go ape on me, man. This is the Borg we are talking about. They are unpleasant in any universe.”
“Right,” said the hybrid. “I’ll stay out of things.”
They beamed down and the area was the outskirts of a farmer’s pumpkin patch. There was a tree, and they hid behind it. It was very early in the morning, and a little girl was sitting in the dirt and, apparently, playing.
“This is it?” whispered Richard. “I’m not getting any Borg readings, but they might be scrambled.”
“Perhaps there’s been an error?”
They continued watching. The child had a few carrots with her, and was holding one out to a small, brown rabbit. The wild animal was curious and hungry. It cautiously took the carrot from her. “I think I’ll call you Patrick,” she said. The rabbit kept munching on the carrot.
Suddenly, there was a slight whining sound – a sound that, Richard knew, meant someone was beaming. It was two Borg. They stood over the child. “An experiment,” one of them said. “Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated, and your intellectual and cultural gifts will become a part of the collective.”
The little girl was dumbfounded. She didn’t even realize that, maybe, she should scream. Instead, she grabbed the rabbit. “Don’t hurt us.”
Tubules were injected into her neck, and she was assimilated, rabbit still in her arms. The rabbit, too, was injected, and it became limp. One of the Borg then hit a control and all four of them were beamed out.
“What the hell –?” asked Rick.
“I don’t know,” Sika admitted. “Let’s get back,” he said, as the girl’s anxious parents burst out of their home to try to find their missing child, who was never, ever going to come back.
“The next indication of the Borg and humans in the Mirror is from 2278. So it’s after Spock killed Kirk. But we don’t know a lot about this time period,” Sika explained as Rick flew the Audrey. “It’s in the Delta Quadrant, but it’s, well, it was an easy defeat by the Witannen.”
“The Witannen? They’re a bunch of kinda haughty people with flowers in their scalps instead of hair. They’ve got little vestigial wings, too, if I’m remembering them right. They’re hardly major league warriors. How the hell did they defeat the Borg?” Rick asked.
“Only one way to find out, eh?”
Rick flew to the Delta Quadrant and 2278. There was a Borg cube over Dawitan, the Witannen home world. And the cube was in shambles, easily defeated with a single phaser blast from an emplacement on the ground. “What the hell is going on?” asked the hybrid.
“Uh, let’s go to yesterday,” Richard suggested. He flew back one day in time. They beamed onto the Borg cube, small phasers at the ready.
And that’s when they saw the disaster, which could only be described as ecological.
There were rabbits. Hundreds if not thousands of them were all over the Borg cube. They were in vents and turbo lifts, and scampering through the hallways. And the Borg, themselves – they were all mostly rabbit, with twitching whiskers and tall ears amidst the usual trappings of Borg assimilations, such as drills for arms and artificial optics in place of real eyes.
“You’re the historian,” Rick said, “What the hell do you think is going on?” They were walking past a station where there was some sort of an experiment going on. Rick blinked a few times – it looked like the Borg were growing some sort of a huge root vegetable.
“I, uh,” Aramjul thought for a second. “That bunny the little girl was holding. We saw it; it was assimilated along with her. It must have, good lord, it must have given over its, its cultural and intellectual gifts to the collective.”
“Which included eating carrots, being fluffy and submissive and, and, doing what, what comes naturally to, to bunnies.”
“Yes, yes, of course,” said the historian.
“We gotta get outta here,” Rick said, engaging the transporter remote control. Once they were safely back on the Audrey, he looked at the sloth-human hybrid and said, “I guess we now know what happened to the mirror Borg.”
“Yes,” said his passenger, “It was death by fluff.”
On October 12, 3104, a teenaged HD Avery makes it clear that he will never become a farmer like his parents.
“Hank!” Bev Avery’s voice was hoarse, as if she’d smoked far too many cigarettes in her life, but it was the 32nd century and cigarettes were long gone, relegated to the dustbin of history.
The teenaged boy in front of her was sitting at the kitchen table and was still listening in on wireless ear buds, engrossed in a PADD with an image of an old, old musical group on its face, a group that had been, by most people, stuck into the historical dustbin with cigarettes. Pearl Jam.
She finally got in his face. “Little Hank, I am speaking with you.”
She was silent – those ear buds were awfully good – but her gestures and her facial expressions and her face turning a bit purple were enough to get the kid to take out the ear buds. “… and another thing,” she continued, and he was about ready to put the ear buds back in when she looked at him in some exasperation. “Don’t you give a damn whether the crops come in, Little Hank?”
“Don’t call me that, Ma.”
“Oh, Mister HD-I’m-Too-Good-To-Be-Called-Like-My-Daddy? Or granddaddy? Or great-granddaddy?”
“Just, just, Ma, please, I’m sixteen years old. Can I please not be called ‘little’ anymore?”
“Fine. Henry. Is that better?”
“C’mon, Ma, you know I wanna be called HD.”
“And this,” she pointed at the PADD. “What is this, your favorite song?”
“No, I never heard it before.” The PADD slid into sleep mode and showed the time – 1623 hours – and the very old-fashioned date October 12, 3104.
“Be that as it may,” Bev said, “you need to be thinking about your future, yanno. You’re gonna inherit this here farm. We settled here, on Krios Prime, ‘cause the soil is good and we could grow good crops. We are feeding the Federation, Little – uh, Henry.”
“Meet me halfway, okay, hon?”
“I don’t wanna be here. Ma, haven’t you ever felt that way? Where you were, just, you were outta place?”
“This is your place. This is your home. We do good things. You should be committed to doing good things. It’s a part of being mature. If you wanna be treated like a grownup, you gotta start acting like one.”
The front door opened, and in strode a mountain of a man. “Big Hank!” she exclaimed, smiling. She came over and kissed him and he made an exaggerated show, even in front of their only child, and held her waist and she even, ironically, lifted one foot behind her, the essence of ironic romance.
Big Hank leaned over to his son. “You get those machines cleaned?”
“Uh, I guess so.”
“I will check. And cut that hair.”
“Pop, c’mon! Everybody wears it this way these days.”
“Well, not in my house, they don’t. And another thing, Little Hank – you need to leave the replicators for food and farm supplies. Don’t be using them to make a guitar.”
“But –” HD backed down when Bev’s eyes told him – don’t go there.
“What about your schoolwork? You still failing Biology?”
“I, um, I’m getting better,” HD said.
“Well, go upstairs and study,” Big Hank commanded.
“Uh, yeah,” HD sighed, took his PADD, and left.
Big Hank turned to Bev. “He’s gotta learn. This is his future. He can’t be thinking of music and all that pie in the sky nonsense.”
“Yes, dear,” she replied, a reflexive response.
“I’ll be out checking on the machinery. That kid of yours’ll be the death of me.”
“Ours, Big Hank,” Bev smiled, “Even when he’s a little naughty.”
“Yeah, that’s true. Gotta go.” He kissed her again and departed.
As soon as the door had closed, Bev sat down at the kitchen table and, from upstairs, she heard her son play and sing by ear, by memory, a song that was over a millennium old and he had only heard once before. She shook her head. “You’re never gonna be a farmer at this rate.”
“Where o where ….”
Kevin and Josie prepare for May 4, 3108, a special day on Tandar Prime.
Every morning, at 0500 hours, the alarm went off. To Kevin O’Connor, even though it was a sweet little chime, it sounded like a gunshot or a bomb.
He had slept on a hair trigger for eight long years, ever since Josie had been diagnosed with Piaris Syndrome. Eight years of barely resting, as her tiny Aenar body literally ate itself alive.
First it had been a lack of coordination, but she could still work as a kindergarten teacher. But that had given way to brittle bones and then no bones, replaced by synthetic replicas made of a form of rigid plastic not unlike that found in old-fashioned snow shovels. Then her voice went and it, too, was replaced. The fake voice was not her delicate, breathy Marilyn Monroe-like inflections. Instead, it was harsh and mechanical, purely functional.
Her working days had ended right about then, as tiny children could not be expected to be patient with a teacher who could not call out over their raucous play. Walking was done, and so was eating anything more challenging than an overripe strawberry.
And Kevin had recently demanded of the doctor, and had finally been given, a deadline. Dead, yes, for Piaris was uniformly fatal. When would she be gone? The doctor had called it – in, perhaps, six months.
And so he had settled into the ritual, and now it was a little bit different, as there was a purpose to all of this activity. He gently called out, “Wake up, sleepy head.”
The antennae twitched a little as the pale eyes opened. “Ah,” she said with her imitation voice, “is it morning already?”
“Big day,” Kevin said. “Know where you are?”
More slight twitching. “Hotel room?”
“Can’t fool you, darlin’.” He began to perform the ritualistic tasks he performed every single morning. Gently, he slipped off her nightie. He did not look. He had stopped looking years ago, as her body had wasted away to nearly nothing and she had lost a good half of her original mass. He did his best to remember what she had been like. She’d been a knockout, all angles and pale milky curves. But the angles had won, and her body was a shell of its former beauty. Her stomach was flatter than a supermodel’s, but it was not through dieting. Instead, Piaris had destroyed most of her intestines. She quite literally had nothing in there to bow out her belly.
Carefully, he cleaned her off and gave her a fresh covering. Then he got her biomechanical suit. It fit her closely, but he had noticed that even it was becoming big on her. He arranged the wires and tubing and carefully fitted her into it. First, what was left of her toes and feet were nestled into what looked like, to the outside world, thigh-high black leather boots. Then her middle would be encased in what resembled almost a catsuit. Her arms would be covered by just about the same thing as her legs, with built-in gloves to define what remained of her ravaged fingers. It went all the way up to her neck.
He finished and she smiled at him. “All dressed up and nowhere to go,” she said with her false voice.
“Actually, there is somewhere to go,” Kevin said. “Remember? It’s May fourth.”
“Our anniversary is in three weeks,” she whispered, “Sixteenth.”
“Right you are,” Kevin said, “but we’re celebrating early this year.” They were doing everything early that year, as he feared the worst – that Josie would never see the end of that year, 3108.
He got a big garment bag out of the hotel room’s closet and unzipped it. “Look familiar?”
It was a hot pink and white striped gown, the confection she had worn on their wedding day, on May the twenty-fifth of 3092. She had resembled a stick of peppermint candy. It was long before she’d gotten sick, and there was a lot of joking around, and a lot of ribaldry around the idea of candy.
They had turned heads, he remembered. Hybrid marriages were becoming more and more common, but theirs still stood out. There had been a news story, one of those human interest matters, although he was the only one of the two of them who was even partly human – Local beauty weds engineer. People would gawk at the near teragram-sized part-reptile squiring around the gorgeous, slight Aenar. He knew that at least half of their whisperings were along the line of, “How do you think they do it?”
Half the time he’d answer, unprompted – “Very, very well.” That would mortify most.
But sex was long gone, too, another victim of Piaris Syndrome.
“My wedding gown,” Josie said in her fake voice.
“We’re gonna renew our vows,” he said, helping her into the dress. It had been taken in quite a bit, but she was still swimming in it.
He helped her to the window so that she could look out. “On Tandar Prime?”
“Yes,” Kevin said. It was not a romantic gesture – although he was more than capable of those. Instead, it was for practicality’s sake. He had found an officiant who doubled as a medic. The hotel was on one side of a state of the art Tandaran medical facility. On the other side, was the officiant’s home. Kevin had researched the matter for months. It was as perfect as it could possibly be.
Josie took one more look out the window. “How far is it?”
“I’ll carry you,” Kevin said and, just like he had done for years, for a thousand times or more, he picked up her two canes, and her, and brought her to their destination.
He really didn’t want to go back there.
It was the last thing he wanted to do.
But it was his family that was at stake, so he put everything aside, and went anyway.
Could he put back what had gone haywire?
Beginning on the first of February, 2161, with some incoherence to May of that year, the story contains flashes forward to December 26, 2166 and June of 2178.
Temper can be found at http://www.adastrafanfic.com/viewstory.php?sid=1145 and is also a part of the In Between Days series.
How do you begin, or begin anew?
What’s going to happen next?
What if you could predict it, or at least have a good handle on forever?
What would you do with that information?
And for the people you’ve promised yourself to, forever, what does that really mean? Do you ignore the truth, or do you listen to all of it, even the ugliest parts?
The story begins on October 25, 2161, and contains flashbacks to events taking place between 2128 and 2157, and flashes forward to events taking place from 2165 through 2234, with extreme future flash forwards to 2379, 2991 and 3109. Also directly shows events in January of 2162.
Originally written and intended to be the end of the In Between Days series, Fortune is now more of an inspiration for other stories, and provides a framework for what's to come, and a bridge between In Between Days and The Times of the HG Wells.
Fortune can be found here.
In January of 3109, Eleanor Daniels lectures young students on the ways of the Mirror Universe.
“Now, children, I want you to walk quietly in the museum. And stay together. Does everyone have their buddy?” Tina April asked. Sixteen second graders raised their hands enthusiastically. “Good!”
They entered the Temporal Museum on Lafa II and walked to their destination – the Mirror Universe exhibit. Tina’s friend, Eleanor Daniels, was the docent. Eleanor greeted them. “Class, this is Miss Daniels. She’s going to talk to you about the Mirror Universe today.”
“All right now,” Eleanor said, “I’d like you all to sit in a circle on the floor. We’re going to talk about the Mirror today, and why it’s different from us. Does everyone know what radiation is?” Sixteen little heads – not all of which were human – nodded in agreement. “Excellent. Now, up until about 450 BC, the Mirror and our universe were virtually identical in every way. The only difference was in the radiation band. See, all universes vibrate on a particular radiation band. Ours is twenty-one centimeters. Theirs is twenty.”
A little girl’s hand shot up. “Is there a twenty-two?”
“That’s a very good question!” Eleanor enthused. “There is. But in that universe, the dinosaurs never died out on Earth. So as you can imagine, things are a bit different.” The class laughed. “There’s also a nineteen, et cetera. But the Mirror is very, very close to us. The difference, up until 450 BC, was only a tiny fraction of one percent.” The kids looked confused. “I’ll explain what that means. You see, on any given day, the museum has about one thousand people in it. This includes the staff, such as me, and visitors like you, and visiting scholars and even people who do things like bring takeout lunches to us.” She smiled. “Now think about all those people over the course of three years. Day in, day out, they visit, they work, they listen.”
“They bring food!” called out an over-enthusiastic little boy, interrupting.
“Yes, yes, they do! And they just go about their lives. In the Mirror – assuming the museum existed back in, say, 460 BC – they would have the exact same visitors during that three-year period. Except for one person. So the difference, except for that one person, is virtually nonexistent. Now, there are tiny, subtle differences all the same. But if you wear a red shirt today instead of a blue one, it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. That’s what we call an otric change. Time lines can differ by these tiny little otric changes, such as when one person drinks tea today and then in another universe, they drink coffee. Those tiny differences simply do not matter, and the time lines are considered to be identical.”
“What happened in 450 BC?” Tina asked.
“Yes! 450 BC. There was a man; he was a tribune in ancient Rome. His name was Marcus Titinius. And somewhere around then, he suffered what’s called a genetic mutation.”
“Does that hurt?” asked a little girl.
“I don’t think so,” Eleanor said, “and we have no reason to believe that Marcus even knew that it had happened at all. But the change was profound. Now, I’d like for the girls to stand up next to me.” The girls – there were ten in that class – did so. “There are twelve females here – the ten of you, Miss April, and me. And there are six boys. What happened to Marcus is, well, you must understand. Normally, the chances of a man fathering a boy or a girl are about fifty-fifty. But what happened to Marcus is that his scale was tipped. And it became more like seventy-five-twenty-five in favor of him fathering boys. So imagine that we twelve girls are really eight boys and four girls. Therefore, of the original group of eighteen people, we’re left with only four girls. Instead of the twelve we really have. What happens then?”
“We play baseball more!” called out a Tellarite boy as the girls sat back down.
“Maybe,” Eleanor laughed. “Let’s talk about what that all means, to have so few girls. Think about back when there was money. For people who made dresses or makeup, those were not such profitable enterprises, eh? Hence maybe those companies did something different, like make chemicals for warfare, or sew uniforms for armies. Plus they all got a lot more aggressive.”
“Why?” asked a Suliban girl.
“There was a lot more competition for wives. Therefore, men started to become a lot more, let’s just say, proactive in getting mates. But there is more. You see, Marcus also was, by all accounts a ladies’ man. He was married, but that did not matter to him. He had numerous affairs and dalliances with a lot of slave girls, too. Can anybody guess how many children could have called him Daddy?”
Hands shot up. “Ten?” “Twenty?” “Twenty-nine?” “One hundred!”
“Whoever said one hundred is very close. We have direct evidence of ninety-three children. As would be expected with his mutation – which is scientifically referred to as the Y Chromosome Skew – eighty-one of those known children were boys.”
“That’s more than three-quarters, El,” said Tina, “It’s more like eighty-something percent.”
“Right,” said Eleanor, “see, those were the only known children. I happen to know that a Temporal Integrity Commission trip to that era is going to be conducted soon, if it hasn’t happened already. Historians are hoping for a more accurate count. Don’t forget, this is ancient Rome, so it’s entirely possible that unwanted children would, sadly, have been abandoned. But there’s even more.”
The children all looked around. “Marcus was also a very, very good father. He was a violent man, like a lot of denizens of the Mirror are, and even like a lot of the men of our own ancient Rome were. But he had a soft spot for his children, and he did everything he could in order to assure their survival, both boys and girls. And all of his children, both boys and girls, inherited the following traits from him – the Y Chromosome Skew, the insatiable appetite for, let’s just say, adult love, and tenderheartedness for their children. Do you know what that did?”
“He musta had a big Thanksgiving table,” said a little Trill girl.
“I bet he did!” Eleanor enthused. “But what also happened is that this genetic mutation ran through the genome like a house on fire. In about fifteen hundred years, nearly all of the men on Terra – that’s what they call Earth – were sporting the Y Chromosome Skew and Marcus’s other main characteristics. And the rest of their culture changed. See, without so many women, it wasn’t just that it became unprofitable to sew dresses. It also tipped the scales in favor of more traditionally macho pursuits. Hunting was pursued at the expense of agriculture. Peaceful negotiations were abandoned in favor of bloody conflict. And women became very rare indeed.”
“How many of you think,” Tina asked, “that women were treated better because of the Skew?” Four hands shot up. “All right, how many think that women were treated the same?” Ten hands. “Who thinks women had it worse?” Two hands. “The right answer is that women were treated worse.”
“Why?” asked the same Tellarite boy as before.
“Part of it is increased aggression,” Eleanor said, “and part is that women became such a minority that they didn’t have any real political power. Remember, this is also a society that favors brute strength. Women, for the most part, were incapable of competing on that particular playing field. But other interesting nuances come out. Art, believe it or not, was favored. And so young boys, about your age or so, they would go off to a boarding school. And then seven years later, they would be tested. About three-quarters would end up as soldiers, with the ones who scored the best going to elite schools such as West Point. Another ten percent or so would become doctors or scientists. And the remaining five percent would become artists or political figures.”
“What about the girls?” asked a young human girl.
“They also went off to school, but the schools were separated by gender. And the girls were taught basic reading and that sort of thing. But they were tested a lot earlier. The smartest half would get decent educations, for it was understood that all-male ships – and eventually star ships – were not so good for discipline. The bottom half were divided. The prettier ones, they, eh,” Eleanor smiled wanly, “is it a good word to say?”
“Maybe a euphemism,” Tina suggested.
“Very well,” Eleanor sighed, “the prettier girls became what are called ladies of the evening. But for girls who were not that intelligent and not that pretty, they were essentially as enslaved as, eventually, the Vulcans and other subject races became. I know how unfair that sounds. And it is unfair. But that was how the Terran Empire did its business. And that is even through the reign of the notorious Empress Hoshi Sato.” Eleanor looked up at a wall chronometer which showed the time – almost noon – and then the very old-fashioned date – January fourth of 3109. “Oh! I see our time is up. But I hope you can come back soon and we’ll talk some more about the Mirror Universe, all right?”
“Everybody thank Miss Daniels,” Tina reminded the class.
More or less in unison, sixteen young voices called out, “Thank you, Miss Daniels!”
As they departed, Tina saw a young fellow checking her out. He wasn’t too terribly good-looking but there was just … something about him. She smiled back but was then busied shepherding her charges out.
The same fellow walked over to Eleanor. “I see I missed the lesson,” he said.
“Richard!” she enthused.
“Hiya, sis,” he kissed her cheek. “Ready for lunch?”
“I am. My last group was brutal! Say, we were talking about the Mirror. Did you go to 450 BC yet?”
“In a month or so,” he said as they started walking.
“I should introduce you to their teacher, Tina April. She’s single. I bet you’d like her.”
“Yes, Agent Daniels,” she said, grinning, “I know what you like. I’ve seen enough pretty girls on your arm to know. Plus she’s very smart. So, maybe after your mission?”
A Long, Long Time Ago by jespah
In 3109, someone was going around in time, putting things right that once went wrong.
And while it seemed like it could be a good idea, it wasn’t.
For every time one thing was changed, a thousand others were. And inevitably, things were worse than before. And the do-gooder’s definition of right and wrong wasn’t the best of standards.
This kind of meddling threatened space and time, yet the meddlers – who thought these were good deeds – weren’t stopping.
It was up to Rick to put back the original history, whatever it was.
A Long, Long Time Ago begins the Times of the HG Wells series and can be found here.
In later 3109, Senior Temporal Agent Rick Daniels takes new Agent Sheilagh Bernstein on a training mission to May 4, 1970 – Kent State University. This time, they had no one to blame but themselves.
Time was again messed up, but no one else was at fault. Still, someone was watching, and taking notes.
And they had their own dilemma to deal with – how do you decide who lives, and who dies? Who’s worthy of saving?
A continuation of the repairs section, Ohio can be found here.
You Mixed-Up Siciliano by jespah
In late 3109, they went on vacation; just the two of them, to Italy, in 1960 as, at the same time, an Agent was taken.
And it was fun, until the other side caught up with them. Then it got very uncomfortable, and they debated the morality of it all again.
And again, they wondered – just who is worth saving?
You Mixed-Up Siciliano can be found here.
Another Piece of the Action by jespah
On January 14th of 3110, Rick, Sheilagh and Deirdre have to help Kirko and the boys deal with continuing Prime Directive violations on Sigma Iotia II, in 2284.
Another Piece of the Action was a collaboration with the talented thebluesman. The story can be found here.
In March of 3110, Rick Daniels heads to 1969 Prague in order to assure that Prague Spring ends and the Iron Curtain stays up. On the way, he meets an intriguing woman, and begins to understand just how difficult good-byes really can be.
Spring Thaw can be found here.
On March 27th of 3110, Rick dictates a log entry and comes clean about his conquests.
March the twenty-seventh, 3110
I don’t normally dictate personal logs. And I probably should, in order to try to make sense of it all. Maybe they’d make me feel better. I sure hope this one does.
I have been a Temporal Agent for fourteen years. The only people who have been here in the Human Unit longer are Chief Engineer Kevin O’Connor and Admiral Carmen Calavicci. They know some, but not all, of this. My sister, Eleanor Daniels, is a docent at the Temporal Museum on Lafa II. I’ve confided some of this to her, but not everything. She has both sisterly concern and professional curiosity on her end, I suppose. Anyway, here goes. These are the big ones.
It’s been a rough several years. I have had to watch far too much pain and destruction. I hate that, but that’s our timeline. My job is to restore original histories, no matter how cruel, unfair, violent or ugly they may be.
I, Richard Daniels, have had to sit idly by and watch, as readily curable diseases felled hundreds, or natural disasters claimed thousands of lives, or wars cut millions of existences short.
I have had to cope, and find a way to process it all. And so I deviate from my missions, or at least I have been doing so, for a few years. And on all of those missions with their little divergences, I take a souvenir. They are all, now, in my big desk drawer in my office at the Temporal Integrity Commission.
It all started in 3101, when I went to 1699 Penn’s Woods. The mission was a simple and pleasant enough one, for a change – I was to escort a historian looking to observe William Penn. Our cover story was that we were surveyors.
There was a widow there, with red hair and a gentle smile. She was young and childless and lonely. I am sure she had admirers. Yet she smiled at me, and I found myself drawn to her. Lucretia Crossman and I did not fall in love, but I received a rather primal form of comfort from her, and I offered the same in return. And for that, I keep a plain white handkerchief.
Next was Dana MacKenzie, on the old Enterprise-E. She was the Tactical Officer – Worf was gone by then. The captain was Jean-Luc Picard and the First Officer – who she eventually ended up with – was Martin Madden, a remote ancestor of mine. But she and I stole away to one of the empty shuttles. I ended up stealing her Comm badge. I hope she didn’t wrack her brains too much, looking for it.
Irene of Castile was next, in 1417. I went to the Isle of Man on a mission to watch the British Parliament being formed. She was an actress. There weren’t supposed to be female actors at the time, so she wore all sorts of binding to camouflage her figure. I keep one of her masks now.
Then there was Betty Tyler, in 1929, in New Jersey. A flapper! She was about as clichéd a flapper as there ever could be – bobbed hair, cloche hat, you name it. I liberated a feather from one of her boas. That one didn’t end so well – she tried to off herself. Had to go back and fix that one.
My next special friend was Phillipa Green – we were to observe a man known to history as Future Guy and determine his identity. That was March of 2763. I’ve got a thin metal bracelet of hers; it’s got a blue bead on it.
My next stop was in late January of 2156, in the Mirror Universe. Hoshi Sato was, I figure, the most beautiful of them all. I made a few quick repairs to the Defiant and boy, did she ever repay me. But she ended up pregnant. I can never meet our son, Jun.
I regret that one – and I keep her gold fabric sash to remind me. She called me Ritchie – everybody else calls me Rick or Richard – and I think of that, too, at times. But I am forbidden by the Mirror government from returning at any time during her lifetime. The cover story is that I died in a shuttle crash on Daranaea. And Jun will never, ever know me.
I then hooked up with Annette Bradley while at Kent State University in Ohio for the shooting on May the fourth of 1970. By our current perspective, that was about six months ago. She called herself Windy, after some song. I took one of the quarters she had on her desk. I think she was saving it for her laundry. It’s dated 1969.
My last hookup ended, from our perspective, today, although it was, to her, 1968. I went to Prague, in order to assure the crushing of what’s referred to as Prague Spring. Her name was Milena Chelenska – a Czech Holocaust survivor, number 4142753. I have korunas – coins – and a small photograph. The picture was taken by her sister, Noemy, and it shows an auburn-haired middle-aged woman, gaunt and perhaps a little depressed. Her eyes are far away, as if she’s looking for something better, just past the photographer’s shoulder. I miss her more than all of the others combined. I feel for her even more than what and how I feel about Jun.
I did not expect this. For whoever reads this, you may wonder why I hold onto all of these odd little possessions, these, these souvenirs. I do so, I think, because it proves to me that it all really happened. I haul them out when I am lonely, or depressed, and in a way they comfort me. They are tangible reminders that I was wanted, and that I am a father. And that, maybe, I am a little bit loved.
For with Milena, I can’t explain it, but it is different. There will be no more souvenirs, for I feel there will be no more hookups. It can never be, for she is gone and is dust and I am not even born until 3069. But I don’t care. I don’t want anyone else.
And so I cling and I hang onto my souvenirs. And, like I am doing now, I haul them out and, at least a little bit, I am comforted.
Where the Wind Comes Sweepin' Down the Plain by jespah
In May of 3110, Daniel Beauchaine is tasked with stopping Timothy McVeigh from causing the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Can Richard Daniels put back the bombing without losing his own moral compass?
Where the Wind Comes Sweepin' Down the Plain can be found here.
The Point is Probably Moot by jespah
In August of 3110, the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat and the 2192 Mirror Universe are but pawns in a chess game being played by the Temporal Integrity Commission's enemies.
The Point is Probably Moot is here.
Shake Your Body by jespah
In August of 3110, time begins to really unravel as bodies litter the Temporal Integrity Commission. Daniels travels to 2192 as his fellow agents handle issues in 1986 and 1957.
You can find Shake Your Body here.
An embellished scene from Shake Your Body – Boris Yarin and Marisol Castillo meet their ends.
Boris Yarin was the unfortunate victim of genes and lust.
He was part-human, part-Klingon and part-Xindi sloth. The combination made him powerful yet slight, giving him a bit of a Napoleon complex. And the Xindi part made him paranoid and jumpy, a little edgy around water and unpleasant situations where he couldn’t be up high and taller than everyone else, for that ancestry had stayed in the trees long after the human chunk had evolved down and conquered the African savannah.
He was also the only married member of the Temporal Integrity Commission, at least, the only married member of the Human Unit. And that was how he’d gotten the job in the first place. He wasn’t a particularly gifted physician, but he was well-connected, being married to Darragh Stratton, who was related to a Federation Secretary. He owed his position to her and, really, everything, and she never let him forget that.
He had met Marisol Castillo, another doctor, at a medical conference. When she had come onto him, he went full throttle. She could – and would – do all of the things that Darragh haughtily refused to. He had pulled strings and gotten her hired as a time traveling doctor, for he was not human enough in appearance to visit the Earth before at least the 24th century.
Things had been going all right, and they would meet in either of their offices for a quickie, or afterwards they would go to the love nest he had set up for her on Cardassia. She had him wrapped around her sultry little finger.
And now she was blackmailing him. Oh, it was little things, and they were amping up his paranoia something fierce. Now she had gotten truly audacious, and had gone to visit Darragh when they were supposed to have a meeting at HQ.
That could not stand. He came over after the meeting. She was walking out of one of the Transporter Rooms and he fell in step with her. “Nice of you to visit us,” he said, “I take it you enjoyed your visit on Kronos?”
“Very much,” she said, smiling at him.
“And you told my wife nothing?”
“We had a lovely conversation,” Marisol yawned, “I’m really overworked. You’ll need to take over for me in lots of ways.”
“To be sure,” he said, “but first, may I take you somewhere?”
“I don’t believe you have those privileges anymore,” she said, “we stopped being bed buddies months ago.”
“I know,” he said, “but perhaps I can convince you.” They were close. Just a few more steps. He knew he could physically overpower her. He had done so before, but it had been in the context of foreplay. This time, he had a far different endgame in mind.
“You can’t convince me,” she sneered, “I never liked you and God knows I never loved you. So cut the crap, Boris.”
“Funny you should be evoking the deity,” he said, smiling malevolently as he turned a lever.
He Stays a Stranger by jespah
In August of 3110, Richard Daniels travels back from 2192 to find that he has been wiped from existence, and his own mother doesn’t even know him. Working with the Temporal Integrity Commission, he has to get back to 2192 as repairs have to be made to 1964 and 1994, and a detour to 1969 finds him breaking the Commission’s biggest rule before a second return to 3110, for a final showdown.
You can find He Stays a Stranger here.
It's Not Really a Reset if you remember it by jespah
On August 8, 3110, the department goes out to the Tethys Tavern to try to forget what has happened, as Carmen in particular is affected.
“The liquid scorched its way down, laying a fleeting truce with the pain, the suffering, and the memories that had caused them, providing the brief illusion of relief from the towering regret that teetered invisibly on her shoulders.”
She swallowed. There was no sense and no point in getting too stinking drunk until the rest of the Temporal Integrity Commission’s Human Unit was gone or she was at home. Still, Carmen had invited them all out, and they had dutifully followed her, even after fixing a massive megaotric event that had seriously threatened the future.
So Admiral Carmen Calavicci plastered on her best smile. “Children!” she called out, “We’ve all had a disastrously long week. Unless we get some sort of a direct call from the highest levels of the Federation, or Otra here has a vision, take the next two weeks off. And that even means you, Levi.” With a little scotch in her, her Leicester accent was more pronounced than usual.
“Oh, uh, yeah,” mumbled Levi Cavendish, one of the engineers. He then went back to whatever was so fascinating on his PADD.
“So this is the Tethys Tavern,” Crystal Sherwood, the department’s Quartermaster, said. “I’ve been meaning to go. I understand this place has been in business for over a thousand years.”
“Well, y’all are here now,” drawled Tom Grant, the military specialist. “Carmen, do ya mind? I invited Eleanor to join us.”
“Not at all.” Carmen peered into the bottom of an empty glass that had held a shot of scotch. “Another, if you please,” she said to the Xyrillian barmaid.
The barmaid held out a hand and asked, “Your PADD, please.”
“Oh yes, yes, of course.” Carmen handed it over, and the barmaid clicked it next to a device just behind the bar.
“Says here,” the barmaid read off a display, “that you can have this one but not another until two hours have passed. Blood alcohol law, you know.”
“Right. Well, I’ll just drink this one a lot more slowly, then.”
As Carmen sipped, she looked around at her team. Crystal was chatting with Polly, the psychology specialist. Deirdre and Kevin – both were engineers, and he was part-Gorn, to boot – were both speaking, seemingly to no one, but Carmen knew they were both just using their implanted communicators. Levi was still captivated by his PADD, as Otra, the half-Witannen who could see temporal alternatives hovered nearby. She had chavecoi on her head in lieu of hair, and they looked like flowers. They swayed a little, an act that she had no control over; and turned coral pink briefly, another act she could not control. HD Avery, the music and arts guy, and Sheilagh Bernstein, the ancient computers specialist, were overly close to each other, and Carmen realized for the first time that they were a couple. Senior Temporal Agent Rick Daniels had his arm around Milena Chelenska, a woman he had brought back from 1970. No, 1969. No, 1968. No, it was 1969. 1141 years previously, although probably not to the day, which was August the eighth, 3110.
The department’s doctor, Boris Yarin, was part-Klingon and part-Xindi sloth, in addition to being human. He was standing at the bar, scowling a bit, and occasionally checking a wrist chronometer.
There were two people missing. She counted again. “Boris,” Carmen asked, “where are Dan and Marisol?”
He looked as if she had struck him. “In custody. You know this.” Angrily, he walked away.
“Damnation, I must be getting forgetful. Or perhaps this scotch really is working.” She hopped off her bar stool and went after him. “My apologies,” she blurted out when she found him, poised to walk out the door. “It’s, I simply cannot believe it.”
“Well, believe it,” he stated, “they were working for that group, the Perfectionists, to alter the prime timeline to suit their own ends. It was only through temporal integration that they are alive at all, and can be brought to justice.”
“And the same is true for me,” he stated bluntly. His Russian accent had never been more pronounced. “If you had not returned early from your missions, and intervened, it would have been as before. I would have pulled Marisol with me out of that airlock, and choked her in the vacuum of space with the last of my strength.”
“But now, Boris, you never did that.”
“It does not matter in, in my head, you see. I still know that I am capable of such things. She is a traitor and a blackmailer, but I had loved her during our affair. She, I can see now, that Marisol never cared for me. It must be like how it is for a prostitute. Did you know I was considering whether I could keep my job here yet leave my wife?”
“I, I didn’t know that.”
“It is true. I was also considering quitting if Darragh would have made things difficult, if I had been made too uncomfortable to stay. I was that thoroughly hooked, Carmen.”
“Things will be different now.”
“I still need to come clean with my wife,” he stated. “That part does not neatly snap back to the way it was. Temporal integration does not fix that.”
“I don’t suppose it does,” Carmen commiserated. “Look, you don’t need to stay, of course. So go and, and do what you need to, all right? And if she gives you a hard time or if your marriage is over, well, you and I both know you originally got this job as a favor to her muckety-muck brother, but I, for one, don’t give a rat’s arse about that. I will fight to keep you in my employ, Doctor Yarin. I want you to know that.”
“I, I am humbly grateful.” He left.
Carmen went back to where the others were. A willowy blonde had joined them – Eleanor. She was Rick’s sister and Tom’s fiancée. They stayed for a brief, polite moment and then Eleanor, Tom, Rick and Milena departed. Soon afterwards, so did Sheilagh and HD. Otra took Levi by the arm and got him out of there as well. Deirdre walked out with Kevin; they both claimed dates with their respective significant others. It was just her, Crystal and Polly. “We’re gonna catch a film,” Crystal told Carmen. “Wanna come?”
“It’ll be some horrible old chick flick,” Polly added.
“No, no, I’m all right. Have fun. I’ll see you later in the month.”
But not quite, as a figure beamed over perhaps a minute later. He approached her. “This seat taken?”
“Of course ‘tisn’t, Bryce.” It was her boss, Bryce Unger, who was the head of the entire Temporal Integrity Commission. “Coming to check up on me?”
“Polly sent me.”
“Oh, did she?”
“Plus I know you were flagged here. I do get that info when it’s a work night.” That was a facet of the Blood alcohol law that the barmaid had cited earlier – one’s employer would be told if anyone had, in public, had enough to drink to be considered impaired. But as for what a person did on their own time, even on a work night, there were no restrictions. It was an imperfect law, intended to protect people from the possible consequences of being intoxicated away from home, without infringing on their privacy and their right to do what they wished while in the sanctum sanctorum.
“Right. So I suppose I’ll go home and get snockered.” She got up to leave.
“Wait. C’mon, Carmen, just, just wait a second.”
“We’re off the clock, you know,” she said, and then laughed at that, “of course, for a professional time travel agency, I don’t suppose we can ever truly be off the clock.”
“Touché. Look, we’ll get the Master Time File fixed. Beauchaine and Castillo and Von from the Ferengi Unit will probably go to the Gemara Prison on Berren Five for tampering with time like they did. So that’s all going to be settled,” he offered.
“Understood. But I now have a departmental doctor who has realized that he’s got a killer instinct within him. I mean, I know the man is part-Klingon, but the man is utterly mortified by his own behavior. I wonder if he’ll be a safe person to be around. And he wonders that as well.”
“I get that.”
“And I’ve got two openings now, and a part of that is because I hired the wrong people. Bryce, I have always appreciated your allowing me to run the department in my own way. I have never liked stuffy bureaucrats or conventional Federation types,” he raised an eyebrow at her, so she added, “present company excepted, of course. But honestly! Castillo and Beauchaine were my hires, and they turned out to be traitors.”
“Hell, I’ll take some of the fall for Beauchaine,” he offered. “The Section was leaning on me pretty hard to get you to bring him on.”
“Yes, well, Section 31 doesn’t have to deal with the fallout,” she complained. “They get to wash their hands of it, while we’re stuck with trying to put it all back and fix what once went wrong, or some such.”
“None of this is perfectly put back. But that’s always been the case; we find errors or Otra has a vision of some sort of alteration, and then we all scramble to fix it. But it’s always a bandage,” Bryce said, “it’s never perfect healing. Time is scarred in all sorts of ways.”
“I know, but –”
“But this time, you know about it. C’mon, I’ll take you home.”
“And then what?”
“I’ll read you a bedtime story. Now, c’mon, Car.”
“You’re such a slave driver, Bryce. I half expect you to pull out a whip.”
“Don’t sound so disappointed, Calavicci.”
The Sweetest Universe by jespah
On September 2, 3110, Levi makes interdimensional pie #49 for everyone.
Admiral Carmen Calavicci scanned the conference room. Everyone in the department was there, except for the two traitors, who were in custody. And a colony alien, who was a kind of mascot and supporter. And a certain young, squirrely engineer. The Quartermaster, Crystal Sherwood, was exempt from attending.
“Damnation,” she said softly, “Miss Bernstein, do you know where Mister Cavendish is?”
“I thought he was working on the Flux Capacitor,” Sheilagh Bernstein replied, referring to her time ship.
“No, he couldn’t be; I’d’ve seen him,” interjected Deirdre Katzman, another engineer. “I was on Fluxy. Maybe he was on the Jack Finney.”
“No, I was with Kevin and we were checkin’ out the Jack,” Tom Grant stated, referring to the Chief Engineer, a part-Gorn named Kevin O’Connor, who was sitting next to him.
Kevin sighed. “Just because Levi works for me doesn’t mean he’s ever been, uh, accountable.” He shrugged. “I could hit the recall code on his implants.” He grinned.
Otra D’Angelo, a half-Witannen, was sitting next to him and blanched, the chavecoi – a kind of symbiotic group of biological hitchhikers that resembled a bouquet of pansies – on her head turning pale. “Won’t that hurt?”
“Technically,” reported Doctor Boris Yarin, “subjects who were, er, subject to recall reported dizziness and fatigue but not pain. At least that is what the latest paper says.”
“Yes, but you wrote that paper,” the Admiral reminded them. “Miss Porter? Mister Daniels? Mister Avery? Have you anything to add?” The psychologist, the most senior agent and the music and arts specialist all shook their heads. “I would rather not start without him. As for Branch Borodin, well,” she smiled a little wanly, “he – er, they – won’t do as a substitute. Here goes,” she tapped her left ear, twice, in order to engage her implanted communicator. “Mister Cavendish? Do join us in Conference Room Six. Bring Branch if they’re with you. On the double, sir. Calavicci out.” She did not even wait for his reply, and tapped her ear again in order to end the call.
A few minutes later, Levi Cavendish burst into the conference room with a dumber than a bag of hammers creature, a fourteen-legged procul. It was a kind of amphibious squid, but it had a plate with a slice of pumpkin pie in twelve of its arms. And twelve forks. Levi had his PADD out, as always, and was clicking away on it like a maniac.
The creature distributed the plates full of pies and the forks and then reassembled itself. It was the colony alien, and it took on the form of Deirdre’s first boyfriend, Anatoly Borodin.
“Children,” Carmen said, a bit of irritation in her voice even though she was holding pie. “We were going to discuss whether to build another time ship, for Polly here. Deirdre, what would you name it again?”
“The Elise McKenna,” the Jewish-Japanese engineer said, between forkfuls of pie. “She was the heroine of Time and Again. Or maybe it was Time After Time. I should check.”
“Very well. And the HG Wells is working?” the Admiral pressed.
“Oh, uh, yeah,” Kevin replied. “Damn, this is, like, the best pie, ever. Carmen, you really should try it.” He was nearly a quarter of a metric ton. “Trust me,” he patted his ample Buddha belly, “I know pie.”
“In a moment. And we’re down two people. Boris, do you need another doctor?”
“I can borrow someone from another unit. This is, truly, a spectacular pie.”
“Mister Grant, do you need another survivalist to work with you? I’m not so sure who we could get.”
“Mm, uh, I think we’re all right, for now. Really, Carmen, ya’ll should try the pie,” Tom urged.
Otra had been nibbling on hers. She went over to Levi. “This is the best pie I have ever had. How did you make it?”
“Oh, uh,” he swallowed, “forty-nine centimeter radiation band. I think the sugar is sweeter there. They make good pie.”
Carmen put a hand to her brow. There was every possibility of a migraine happening. “Mister Cavendish, do you mean to tell me that you have been using the admittedly non-infinite resources of the Temporal Integrity Commission to, to, to investigate the best pie in the multiverse?”
“Uh, yeah. See, see, see, see,” Levi got agitated and began jumping around the small room, nearly stepping on his coworkers in the process, “one was, uh, it tasted like old socks, and, and, and, three got me wired!”
“You mean worse than now?” asked Richard Daniels, as he scraped his plate.
“Uh, maybe, and, and, and, and sixty-nine was slimy. And fourteen was undercooked. And eight hundred and seventy-four was salty.”
“Surveys indicate,” the colony alien finally spoke, reporting the findings of a poll of all of its individual cells, “That the pie from the nine hundred forty-second centimeter radiation band was closest in flavor to pie number forty-nine, which is what has been made available today.”
“You mean to tell me,” Carmen was now holding her head, “that you made nearly one thousand pieces of interdimensional pumpkin pie?”
“The polls show that it is believed that there are a near-infinite number of universes, if not an infinite number,” Branch reported. “Therefore, a reasonable conclusion is that there are likely infinite varieties of pumpkin pie in the multiverse. Ninety-two percent agree with this premise; the remainder are enjoying the pie.”
“This is why,” Carmen murmured to herself, “you don’t invite Levi to the meetings. I brought this on myself,” she held her own head; “I brought this on myself,” she whimpered.
Doctor Yarin got up – he was human, Klingon and Xindi sloth – and touched her temples. “Bad throbbing, yes, we should adjourn soon, yes?”
“Why is this the best pie?” asked Polly Porter.
“Huh? Oh, uh, like I said, the sugar is sweeter there.” Levi paused. “I should turn off the replicator.”
“I’m on it,” Kevin volunteered, getting out of there as quickly as he could and jogging down the corridor, gait rolling like a hippopotamus.
Carmen resigned herself to the fact that she had lost control of the meeting and sat down. Absently, she ate a forkful of pie. “This is good.”
Otra, who had been thinking about something as she chewed, stood up. “Attention, please!” HD Avery put two fingers in his mouth and whistled shrilly and they all stopped talking as Kevin returned. “I think this is an important day.”
“Oh?” inquired Daniels.
“I do indeed. Levi,” she came over to him and touched him on his shoulder. He rarely looked people in the eye, but he did look at her that time. “This is wonderful. In all of the years I have known you, in college, everything, you have never, ever, noticed the people around you enough in order to be considerate enough to make them all pie.”
“Pie number forty-nine,” he added.
“Right,” she smiled at him. “This is a huge breakthrough for you.” She hugged him, her chavecoi bouncing and changing to pastel shades of pink and peach and lavender.
“Huh. I like pie.”
In which humanity's survival depends on Levi Cavendish's social skills. Takes place in 3110.
Paradox can be found here.
Calendar Turning Event #3111 by jespah
Otra throws a party for New Year’s but Carmen and Levi are waylaid for a while.
To: The Temporal Integrity Commission, all employees
From: Otra D’Angelo, Temporal Alternatives Analyst, Human Unit
Re: Holiday Party, December 31, 3110 – January 1, 3111 (old-style calendar)
Where: D’Angelo Family Villa, Siena, Tuscany, Italy, Earth
Dress: Come as you are
Time: 2000 hours – whenever
Accommodations: There are several bedrooms for guests, or you can travel to nearby Firenze
Come and celebrate the somewhat random turning of a virtual calendar page on my father’s home world!
Please RSVP, and let me know if you are bringing a guest so that I can alert Security.
Hope to see you then!
They had all gotten the gracious invitation, and many of them had accepted, although Sheilagh and HD were celebrating on their own, and Rick was taking Milena out and they were double dating with Tom and Rick’s sister, Eleanor. Plus Deirdre and Bruce were out and the rumor in the Human Unit was that he was taking her to a jeweler’s and was going to get on one knee and all that that entailed.
So Kevin O’Connor, and his girl, a Calafan engineer named Yilta who worked in the Calafan Unit, were tasked with transporting nearly everyone else from the Temporal Integrity Commission’s headquarters on the USS Adrenaline to Otra’s coordinates.
They transported group after group, all laden with gifts for their generous and gracious human-Witannen hybrid hostess. Yilta finally looked up. “Yanno,” she said, an almost Irish brogue-sounding accent that betrayed origins on Lafa V, “I could swear the transporter’s workin’ faster than normal.”
“Huh,” Kevin replied, his massive bulk making it a bit difficult for him to maneuver in tight spaces. “Let’s see.” He punched up the records. “Well, I’ll be damned, Darlin’. You’re right. Everything’s about 10% faster. I wonder why that is.”
“The feller that does all the glarin’ ‘n starin’,” she commented, referring to Engineer Levi Cavendish, “I bet he’s behind it.”
“Maybe it’s Levi Cavendish. Eh,” he scratched his scaly head, “probably. But yanno,” he put his arms around her, as they were temporarily alone, “we now have a little time to ourselves.” She put her mottled silver arms around him and they kissed. “So, you, me, and my office?”
“With the whole o’ the Milky Way starin’ at us?” Kevin’s office had a view of the Milky Way galaxy, as the ship was situated just outside the galactic barrier.
“They are how many light-years away, you silly goose?”
“What’s a goose?” she asked. “We don’t have ‘em. Don’t tell me they’re like prako, dumber ‘n the carpets.” She pretended to be annoyed.
He was about to answer her when the door swished open. It was his boss, Admiral Carmen Calavicci, and Levi himself. Carmen was laden with some bags and boxes, and Levi was clicking away on his PADD and nearly walked into a wall.
“Levi!” Kevin bellowed.
“Oh, uh, yeah?”
“Help Carmen,” Kevin commanded.
“Oh, uh, yeah.” He took an envelope from her and went back to his PADD.
“Ya might wanna help her more ‘n that,” Yilta suggested.
“Oh, uh, okay.” This time, at least, he took a few boxes from her. “What are these?”
“Do you not recall, Mister Cavendish,” Carmen explained, and there was a little exasperation in her British-accented voice, “that we passed around information for a few weeks after the invitation was extended? Hell, Kevin here had you hack into Otra’s preferences on just about any retailer. Everyone’s giving her a hostess gift of something on one or more of her wish lists.” She glared at him. “Don’t tell me you didn’t get her anything; you’ve been reminded every day for weeks.”
“Oh, uh,” he shifted from foot to foot. “Can’t I just replicate something?”
Carmen put her burdens down on a transporter pad and approached him. He stepped back, a slight pas de deux between them. Finally, she just threw her hands up at him and yelled, “IO giuro, Levi, ora sta per essere la morte di me!” I swear, Levi, you’re going to be the death of me!
“Uh, is that bad?” Levi asked, not bothering to get the sentence translated.
Yilta tapped on the implanted communicator in her left ear and listened to the translation. “Yeah, that’s not so good.”
Kevin glanced up at the wall chronometer. “I better send you kids out,” he announced, “time’s a wastin’ and I know you said no time ships, Carmen.”
“Right,” she confirmed, “Levi, come on. While we’re there, I will, I suppose, explain to you why making a personal effort is what’s required.”
“Oh, um, okay.”
The two travelers positioned themselves on the pad, with the boxes between them. “Energize, Mister O’Connor,” Carmen commanded.
Once they had disappeared, Kevin turned to Yilta. “So, my office?”
She looked at the console. “Ya might wanna belay that.” She pointed at the screen. “We got no confirmation o’ arrival.”
“Damn!” He fiddled with controls and so did she. “Levi, what the hell did you do to the transporters?”
For Levi and Carmen, the transport felt odd. They didn’t hear the familiar wind chimes-type of sound. They didn’t feel as tingly and slightly itchy as they usually would have. Instead, they were lurched, it seemed.
Carmen looked around. Levi was next to her, as were the boxes, and they all appeared to be normal. But everything else in the transporter room seemed stationary. Yilta and Kevin were not moving. “We didn’t go,” she finally commented.
“Huh?” He looked up. “Oh, grid’s down,” he reported. His PADD’s screen had gone black.
Carmen checked her own PADD, with a similar result. She hopped off the transporter pad. “Mister O’Connor! Yilta!” Even standing next to the two of them, and shouting, did no good. She checked for a pulse. “Do you know what a resting pulse is supposed to be for a full-blooded Calafan?”
“Never mind, I’ll – damnation, I can’t even look up that bit of trivia.” She looked at Levi. “This seems like something familiar.”
“Oh? It’s, um, I temporally interphased the transporter. Looks like it got inverted.” He went back to his PADD and clicked away on it to try to get it to work again, oblivious.
“What? Levi,” Carmen fought to maintain some degree of composure, “this is a bit like Scalosian water. We’re going faster than everyone else is. I doubt that they can see or hear us at all,” she indicated Kevin and Yilta, who had barely moved.
“Huh. All they gotta do is invert the coupler.” He started tapping on his PADD. “It doesn’t work.”
“Of course it doesn’t work! It isn’t temporally interphased. Levi,” she said, “the only things that are temporally interphased appear to be ourselves and Otra’s hostess gifts.”
“Huh, that’s kinda interesting.”
“It’s more than a little bit disquieting,” she gritted her teeth as she delivered the bad news; “this is the only food. Do you understand that? And unless those two people can figure out what the devil’s going on, you and I are,” she sighed and massaged her temples, “stuck here.”
“Oh. Uh, didn’t think that would happen.”
“I don’t suppose you would have!” she yelled, and then she dialed it back several notches. She looked at him. “May I inquire as to what you thought you were doing?”
“I made the transporter faster.”
“Because a fraction of minute isn’t fast enough?”
“Well, um, it was a problem and I solved it.” He looked at her proudly. “Uh, it wasn’t a problem?”
“No, it was not a bloody problem!” Carmen patted down Kevin a little in order to locate his PADD. But when she tried to tap on it, it didn’t work. “I’m moving too fast to register anything.” She put the part-Gorn’s PADD back where she’d found it. She then tried a replicator in the room, but it didn’t respond to her, either. “We’ll need to send a message by some other means.”
Kevin felt a bit of patting on his person. “Darlin’,” he said to Yilta, “we got ourselves a bit of a crisis here. I’m thinkin’ it’s not a good time for hanky-panky.”
“It wasn’t me.” Yilta went back to running a diagnostic on the transporter to try to find Levi and Carmen.
Carmen’s gaze swept around the transporter room until her eyes alit on her packages. “Sorry, Otra.” She mumbled a little to herself and began opening some of the boxes. “Help me with this. Tear the wrapping paper off in strips, see?”
“Uh, sure.” They worked silently for a little while until Levi asked, “Uh, what are we doing?”
“We are going to spell out a message in wrapping paper bits and bobs.” There were some ribbons, too, so she used them as well. “We’re going to spell out invert coupler and hope they’ll figure it out from there.”
“Oh, um, okay.”
Within the span of what felt like several minutes, but was a fraction of a few seconds, in real time, they had most of the message together. “Huh,” Carmen commented as she surveyed their handiwork. “We need a little more. Forgive me, Otra.” She pulled a baguette out of its sleeve and used both the sleeve and chunks of the bread to finish the message.
“They should, um; they need to know it’s from us.”
“You’re right. How the devil are we going to do that?”
The two of them thought for a while. “We could leave our PADDs.”
“They’ll just go into sleep mode if they’ll even work at all,” Carmen countered. “It might not be too clear.”
She gave him a look. “I am not stripping for you, Mister Cavendish.”
“Oh, um, uh,” he squirmed a bit. “We could get stuff from our offices.”
“If the replicator doesn’t work, and I can’t engage Kevin’s PADD, I suspect that we can’t get the doors to trip open.”
“Right. Huh.” He looked over the remainder of Otra’s ruined hostess gifts. There was a bottle of Scotch. “Nothing here.”
“No, no, wait!” Carmen eyed the Scotch. She then explained, “I think everyone knows I like a bit of this.”
“Yes,” she intoned. “I’ll leave this. And I’ll leave it opened. Then it’ll be obvious that at least I’m still in the transporter room.” She broke the seals on the bottle. “Here’s mud in your eye.”
She upended the bottle and took a healthy snort. She brandished it at him. “Hair of the dog, for your troubles?”
“My mother says that stuff is the devil’s own water.”
“Your mother is, uh,” Carmen thought better of what she was about to say, and replaced the cap on the bottle. “She has her opinions, and I’ll wager they’re rather strong ones. Was it difficult growing up, just the two of you?” She placed the bottle on the transporter console so that it would be noticed.
“Huh? Um, a bit, I guess.”
They were quiet for several minutes. “It’s a bit frightening,” Carmen admitted, “to think that they are right there, and we are here, and they have no idea.”
“If we don’t catch their attention,” Carmen explained, “the only food we have is the Scotch and the baguette. We wouldn’t last a week.”
“It, uh, they won’t be that slow.”
They waited another two hours, or at least it felt that way.
“I can’t find anything,” Yilta complained.
“Do you smell booze?” Kevin asked. There was a trill in his ear, and he answered it. “O’Connor.”
“Where are Levi and Carmen?” It was Otra. “I thought you said everyone transported over three hours ago.”
“I did. But, uh, dammit, Levi altered the transporter somehow. Yilta and I dunno where they are.”
Otra sighed. “Oh, my. Let me know if you make any progress, or you need any help. I’ve got the Vulcan Unit’s engineers in the main dining room, and they’re taking apart my old sound system. Should I send them along?”
“Uh, not yet. But tell ‘em to put your stuff back together,” Kevin suggested. “O’Connor out.”
“It feels like it’s close to midnight,” Carmen commented, “although Lord knows what it truly is. Tell me, Levi, do you ever think of meaning?”
“Life. Do you ever ponder its mysteries? Do you think you know its meaning?”
“Sure I do.”
“I beg your pardon?” Carmen blinked a few times. Maybe she’d had more of the Scotch than she’d thought, or their temporally interphased existence was multiplying the effect.
“The meaning of life is order.”
“Yes. Life is chaos. My job is to put it in order.”
“But Mister Cavendish,” Carmen stated, “I don’t mean to insult you, but surely you are abundantly aware, that you are likely the most disorganized person I or anyone else has ever known.”
“That’s why I have to put things in order. I have to make sense out of them. When I do that, when everybody does that, the universe will end.”
“Uh, not to derail your plans, but I am suspecting that the end of the universe is a somewhat, well, it’s a bit of a negative goal, is it not? Wouldn’t you just end everyone’s existence?”
He shrugged. “I dunno. I just know that the Big Bang happens and everything is chaotic and then when it’s all organized will be the other end.” He paused. “And, and it’ll be good. My mother says that’s heaven. That’s, that’s what I think of as heaven, and she says that’s okay.”
Carmen seriously considered taking another swig of the Scotch. “Do you want to know what I think is the meaning of life?”
Levi glanced around him. He tapped on his PADD again, just to be absolutely certain that it was still not working. “Um, okay.”
“It’s this,” Carmen explained. “Interpersonal interactions. It’s contact, at whatever level is appropriate or is even so much as possible. It’s conversations, it’s first contact, it’s gardening and animal husbandry, it’s tapping someone on the shoulder. Bloody hell, it’s even eating other living things, and, and it’s even fighting and firing weapons.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I never thought of it this way before, but it makes sense, you see. It’s the, well, it is interactions. It’s not behaving like a bloody island. That’s life’s meaning, and its purpose, you see. You don’t need to marry or even like anyone else, but you shouldn’t be a damned hermit.”
“What’s that on the floor?” Yilta pointed at the sudden appearance of wrapping paper and the remains of a baguette.
Kevin took one look at a partly-drunk bottle of Scotch that had just appeared on the transporter console. “Carmen!”
“It says here,” Yilta read off the odd message on the floor, “Invert coupler. I’m thinkin’ that’s Cavendish’s idea.”
Together, they worked as quickly as they could. “Okay, try it now,” Kevin said.
Yilta hit the controls and they were able to retrieve their two lost travelers. “Aha, it worked!” she crowed.
“Thank God,” Carmen said, stepping off the pad. “That was an experience I’m not inclined to repeat. And, Mister Cavendish, you will not experiment on vital equipment, if you please, unless you tell others that you are doing so. That means any of the people in this room, or Deirdre. Have you got that?”
“Uh, yeah.” Click click. “Hey, the grid’s back.”
“Ah, hmm, and there, good as new,” Kevin said. “I’ve put it all back. It’s an interesting hypothesis, Levi. And it did work a few times. But maybe we’ll work on this some other time, all right? I’ve got everything back to its original state and can send you both to Siena.”
“Uh, no,” Carmen stated, “could you please, instead, send us to that large department store on Enceladus? I’ve got to replace Otra’s gifts. And Mister Cavendish?”
“You will also be going shopping. And you will find something nice for Miss D’Angelo. It will be something personal that she will like.”
Carmen fully expected to hear some bellyaching, but instead Levi said, “Yeah, um, maybe a music box. Or a, a, an old-fashioned calendar.”
“Maybe something like that. Energize, Mister O’Connor.”
Happy Stuff 3111 by jespah
Sheilagh and HD celebrate the end of the year holidays.
“You celebrate the old holiday?” HD asked.
“Sure,” Sheilagh replied. She retrieved a nine-branched candelabrum from a cabinet and two candles.
“There’s no tree, babe.”
“Jews don’t do the tree thing.”
“What were your Christmases like when you were a kid?” she asked while setting up.
“Mom would yell for me and Dad. She’d go, ‘Big Hank! Little Hank!’ and we came running for ham. Then she’d go downstairs and look at the trains we’d set up.”
“No ham chez Bernstein. I replicated turkey.”
“I got no trains, babe.”
She kissed him. “That’s okay. Happy, uh, stuff.”
Mirror Masquerade by jespah
In 3111, Otra has a vision of a temporal, somatic and spatial switcheroo that overwhelms her.
You can find Mirror Masquerade here.
Survey Says ... by jespah
In February of 3111, Levi struggles with his feelings about Otra.
You can find Survey Says ... here.
Meeting of the Minds by jespah
In April of 3111, Levi takes Otra home to meet his mother.
They sat in the Flux Capacitor together, tension spreading.
Fluxy was a time ship, but it wasn’t being used for that particular purpose. Instead, it was just being used for straight transportation. Levi Cavendish piloted as Otra D’Angelo sat next to him. She was half-Witannen, with flower-like chavecoi growing out of her scalp instead of hair. They could detect mood, and they were waving around something fierce and mainly changing to weird earth tones as she drummed her fingers on the console. There was a small box in her lap.
“Levi,” she broke the silence, “are you sure your mother knows I’m coming with you?”
“Uh, um, what?” He fiddled with controls on the ship. “Heh, we should go back fifteen minutes. That way, we wouldn’t be late.”
“Are we gonna be late?” Otra’s voice was tense.
“Um, maybe a little.”
“Then maybe we should go back in time.” She thought for a moment. “Actually, I think that would be a big-time misuse of the equipment. Not that this whole trip isn’t much better. How, exactly, did you convince Carmen to let us take Fluxy out for a non-temporal spin?”
“Shakedown cruise with the new dark matter converter.” There was a chronometer on the ship’s console, and it showed the date – April the 23rd – of 3111. The time was 1207 hours.
“Damn, damn, damn,” Otra muttered as she checked the chronometer. “This is so not the impression I had wanted to make.”
“Uh, it’s okay. It’s not like my mother actually thinks I’ll ever be on time for, like, anything.”
“Still!” Otra thought of something. “Did you tell her who I am?” And, she thought, that they had kinda, sorta, been dating for the past few months, if one could call it that. They had kissed exactly once, and only went anywhere on her initiative as Levi was challenged and overwhelmed in that area. But that was to be expected; social cues and norms baffled him, even at the best of times.
“I said your name.”
“And anything else?”
“Um,” he shrugged, “I dunno.”
The chavecoi turned bright orange. “Dannazione.” Damn.
“Uh, never mind. Listen, okay? It is very important to me that this goes well, all right? I want your mother to like me, or at least not think I’m, I dunno, a threat.”
“Mothers sometimes don’t like it when their sons get serious with someone.”
“Oh.” Serious? “Um, yeah.” The familiar sights of Tandar Prime came into view. “Almost there.”
Once they’d landed outside of Marci Cavendish’s building, they walked to the front desk. Otra said, “Two to visit.”
“Who are you visiting?” inquired a Bolian at the desk.
“Uh, Marci Cavendish,” Levi said.
“This is her son,” Otra explained.
“Ah, yes, he’s on the list,” replied the Bolian after a perusal of something on her PADD. “And you, Miss?”
“My name is Otra D’Angelo.”
“Not on the list. But I can let you in as his guest. Just a second,” the PADD emitted a confirmatory beep. “There. You may enter. Twelfth floor.”
“Thanks,” Otra said. The lift took seconds, but it was enough time for Otra’s stomach to flip a few times. “Are you sure she knows we’re coming?”
The lift doors opened onto a vestibule where there were three doors. Two of them were bare, standard-issue doors. One had an enormous marble cross on it, complete with Christ figure. There was also a mixed metal mezuzah, and a carved wooden pentagram. “I’m guessing this is the door to your mother’s place,” Otra commented.
“Uh, yeah.” He pressed his hand to a plate and the door opened – a direct result of him being on the Bolian’s list of approved visitors.
Marci was a somewhat large woman in a caftan. “Levi, what a surprise. I knew you’d come home for Easter, Holi, Nowruz and Passover.” She then saw Otra. “And you are?”
“Otra D’Angelo, ma’am.” Otra gulped and held out the box. “This is for you.”
Marci took the box and the women shook hands. “Thank you. Levi, who is this?”
“Otra, Ma. Do I smell ham? And matzoh? And elekai vindaloo? And, um, khoresht beh?”
“Yes, now, who is this?”
Both women looked at him expectantly. “Um, this is Otra.” He began to fidget a little.
“Otra, huh,” Marci appraised the hybrid woman in front of her. “What is this?” she brandished the box.
“It’s some homemade gnocchi I made, Mrs. Cavendish. I made it strictly vegan; I, uh, I wasn’t sure of things.”
“I’m eating ham these days,” Marci explained. “Still, that was thoughtful. Levi?”
“Set the table.”
“Oh, um, okay.” He went into the kitchen and started to gather together flatware, which clinked and clanged together, punctuating the air.
“Are you very religious, Miss D’Angelo?” Clink.
“Uh, my father’s heritage is Catholic. But we really didn’t do much with it.” Otra gulped again as she looked around the apartment’s crowded living room. There were symbols of perhaps as many religions as there were worlds in the Federation. There was a painting of the Last Supper, on black velvet, and Otra had the feeling that Marci Cavendish didn’t see that as at all ironic. There was a tallis – the Hebrew prayer shawl – artfully hanging over poles in a corner and twisted together with what looked like a woman’s hijab. In counterpoint to the velvet painting there was a large IDIC sculpture done in aluminoplastic. Bajoran religious symbols clashed with Cardassian ones, over Xyrillian, Enolian and Imvari images. It was a mishmash of iconography.
“And your mother?” Clang.
“Even less, actually, ma’am.”
“Ma? Where’s the glasses?”
“In the pantry, like they’ve been since you were two years old.”
“Your mother does not believe in God?” The statement seemed to be a cross between an accusation and a statement of disbelief, as if Marci could not believe that such a condition could be possible.
“I can’t speak for her beliefs, ma’am.” Otra shifted from foot to foot.
“And you shouldn’t,” Marci allowed. “Tell me, what do you believe?”
I believe I’ve never been more uncomfortable, Otra thought, but she said, “I, uh, I believe that there’s, well, there’s goodness in everyone, and in pretty much everything. I, uh, I believe that everyone can be forgiven, and everyone is, well, they’re redeemable.”
Levi came over, holding a cup. He put a hand on Otra’s arm. “I believe that Otra is the best person I have ever met, Ma. Where do you keep more of these? This was the only clean one I found.”
“Uh, check the sanitizer, Levi.”
“Uh, thanks.” He left, as abruptly as he’d entered the living room.
“When you get married,” Marci said to Otra, “don’t have more than one officiant. It just makes everything take longer.”
“Uh, I’ll keep that in mind.”
In 3131, the Temporal Integrity Commission sends Lili Beckett and Naurr to correct a megaotric event involving the Empress Hoshi Sato and some unauthorized cookbooks.
A little AU. You can find Dishing it Out here.
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