(It's no harder to read than it is to write.)
Henry Starling was still young.
Iron Balls, meet Baby Balls.
Beneath as yet mostly uncolonized stars, squatting on actual dirt, wrapped in animal skins, penitent towards good old reliable fire for light, some warmth and the pyrokeniticity to simmer a little soup, it might seem like the last 15 thousand years had only happened to other people was the literal testament of this abominable hippy’s earthy demeanor who from that frightful hair cut alone might have proved that it was still the Cenozoic Era for the most part, if you perhaps disregard that is, a persistent emerald odour of that same dread herb Chakotay spent a decade assuring Kathryn was an essential part of his completely real and not made up religion, and not at all a controlled substance on 40 Federation worlds, but compared to the rest of the unanswered crimes the Maquis still had till then yet to account for, wanton terrorism against friend and foe, and a very wet wet wet bodycount, it was a small legal compromise to overlook while keeping that little scorpion in her midst domesticated and pacified. Gosh, in his off hours Chakotay was sometimes so pacified that he didn’t have the force of wit or coordination to plan the insurrection of a Lussepian bakery, her First Officer would have been more dangerous to her safety locked away in one of the sicbay’s stasis pods, than abiding to the blissed out dopey laconia his little waterpipe retards her once upon a time XO into, orchestrating unorthodox poetry about all the colours and shapes he thinks are chasing him. If Kathryn wasn’t always on duty she might have taken a trip with him. If Kathryn wasn’t always on duty she might have just outright taken him, but that Indian and his breathlessly powerful shoulders, is not the moody creature in her metaphorical gun-sights at this immediate ancient moment. Our craggy Admiral was hunting a different kind of beast, no matter the commonality of their dirty habits, a scruffy MONSTER who should have had a dark destiny to enlighten the world and destroy the future, but that already wasn’t quite set to work out. On one hand that dick Starling was the prime architect of the future she called home, but could that hardly mostly qualify him the credence to whack the solar system like he’s a spoiled baby who doesn’t want to share his toys because the most ethically backward criminal ever is caught in an Alpha/Omega greed spiral that is going to take the 29th century with him, does it?
Jesus preplanned the Apocalypse, so why can’t Henry Starling end a future he’s almost as complicit of?
Is she only picking on Starling because he’s not God?
“Oh Henry” Kathryn sighs very internally, “I should just put a hole in your head. If you didn’t owe me. If you weren’t such an ass last time, I’d let me kill you, but for all your pomposity unbound, I’m going to make you dance like a monkey on a very short chain.” The delight of these concepts made this sphinx grin and it sounded like crushing ice.
The delicious irony is that Kathryn failed to notice the symmetry between herself and her doomed opponent, that they were both willing to destroy the future to create the past… They were exactly the same, with some shades of Anorax rolled into the full continental breakfast that was left of her personality. I mean it’s not like there’s holes in her mind, she’s not incompetent, just a touch batshit, but this quest she is on is absolute damn madness. The instant Janeway stepped back in time the future, the entire Universe, she came from was annihilated and replaced with something different and unpredictably good or precipitously bad, but she ardently refused to believe that the galaxy was better off if Anika died. Competing with her ghost was impossible, if Seven of Nine had lived a few more years, she would have cocked up that marriage and a fully actualized Chakotay on the other end of a proper divorce would have been fair play and worth winning. What she had to deal with instead, a melancholy Chakotay the widower was a pathetic wretch she wouldn’t touch with yours.
That idiot never really realized that she was waiting till they got home before she was going to jump his bones.
Men are so dense.
This would be prince of the universe, Starling, turns on his radio “Demonstration at UC Santa Cruz campus last night. Tear gas was used to disperse a crowd of three thousand angry students. The temperature right now in down town Barstow is seventy five degrees… ”
“ … “
Did you see that?
That nothingness that didn’t happen was the moment it was supposed to take root, but Voyager was never dragged to the Delta quadrant and Braxton never ran afoul of her menstrualicious (Sorry. I’m so sorry.) temper that kicked his weak ass through time into the side of that mountain over there. She doesn’t want to be smug but “I kick asses through time”! How the hell can’t she be smug!? She kicks asses through time. Good lord, with that on her resume she might even qualify as a god. Kathryn ruminates that that last thought was supposed to be a joke, but in the final evaluation it seems more like a goal line than a punch line. She would make a good god, a very good god. Where was I? This is the moment when Henry Starling was supposed to find the crashed hulk of the USS Aeon and rape that future technology to midwife the microchip revolution of the 20th century, without which the Eugenics War and World War Three would have been impossible, and Earth wouldn’t have been in such a pisspoor state that the Vulcan’s took absolute pity on them enough to mentor mankind into a brave new world where everyone always have a sunny day and a full tummy. Right now there’s a test tube somewhere where the embro of khan Sing is being touched up, or maybe there wasn’t because the future was in a terrible danger of not happening because this was then, 20 seconds ago, the exact moment that Henry Starling DID NOT INVENT THE MICROCHIP.
It was her fault.
It was her responsibility.
It was all part of the plan.
Despite everything else, she had to put time back on track here in the distant past before everything went ass over tea kettle in the present, which to her was still technically the past.
The slim Octogenarian had to hold that bastards hand, feed Starling just enough information to make him extremely powerful and inconsciencelessly rich. Damn, damn damn… Lets just phaser his arms off and listen to the imp scream for ten minutes. I don’t need him, I don’t like, him and I most certainly don’t trust him, that asshole has a habit of changing tables on me when I’m at my most proud and secure, he’s a bloody crafty cave man. If I was younger I could control him sexually. Hell if I controlled him, I could punish him sexually. All those years saving sex for a rainy day, and now she can’t even give it away. Humans shouldn’t be allowed to live this long, it turns regret into something palpable like a salve that forces your verve to lose weight and direction. I hate Henry Starling for being so damn young more than anything else than he has ever done to she herself, time, the human condition, or even the 29th century.
Bitter doesn’t even begin to explain what’s going on between her ears.
It’s time for first contact.
The decades of mildewing composted contempt which Kathryn will always have for this selfish stain bordered well on the other side of mania. Kathy had waked terrified in a cold sweat often with this assholes name on her hot lips, so it took some mighty reservation not to start this conversation with a punch in the nose. “Hey buddy, do you mind if I share your campfire? I have a little gin. Keep us warm.” She crocodile smiles towards the hippy with all the sincerity of Ted Bundy in full makeup. Those nightmares she’d survived about this abject defunct moral turtle attacking her throughout the generations since they first crossed swords were usually far too untimely erotic at this late date in the game for her wizened old humours to still process. So tall, Blond like a glowing angel and so damn intelligent and tall, Kathryn’s creaky libido winces with joy when a lad really, really towers above her, so in all honesty if he wasn’t evil, if he wasn’t really, really, really evil, Henry Starling was certainly marriage material. You can claim foolishly relying on your two university credits gained from an introductory guide to classical psychology that this is just part and parcel of Kathryn’s clinical eroticodestructive deathurge which had this femozon cue up her ships self destruct program with a degree of regularity only seconded to Jim Kirk… But you can’t blame her cooch entirely for its poor choices, it’s not like 80 percent of the toe curlingly handsome men she’d ever met in the Delta Quadrant hadn’t tried to kill her or steal Voyager at some point minutes after this meeting auburn haired lovely, so unfortunately it’s not like her imagination every evening had a healthy pool of suitors to draw from for her dream lovers. We all know that as women get older that their standards drop somewhat, and if Klingon’s see assault and battery as foreplay why can’t she? Besides Kathryn is in such a state of decay now that she needs a special yellow pill to switch on her sexuality from its morbidly dormant state, so this rank despots stunning good looks, confidence, height, musk, charisma height, and youth, youth, and height and youth… Dear lord, how old is he? 19? All of that means seemingly nothing
to the parched vista between her legs, probably, maybe… Travelling though time can’t be turning back her clock because she hasn’t this randy since she was maybe 80. This is the last thing the perverts need to know, that Time travel is an aphrodisiac. Maybe this is why no one gets around to killing Hitler, because all the Fuhrer’s would be temporal assassins weighed down with time boners all fall foul of the red light district mid route to the Reichstag?
“Sure. Groovy. It’s a free country. Sit down. Tell me about yourself… Soup?”
Her perfect silhouette collapses with ease into a cross legged configuration like a ninja, which Chakotay had always mocked her “that’s not how my tribe sits down!” because it’s amazing how that man defies every stereotype about his roots, doesn’t use bows and arrows my ass! She’s long since begun to wonder if he even is an Indian at all and didn’t just lie to tap affirmative action on his entrance bid to Starfleet Academy, but this section of the story is about how well, like a grand yogi, that Kathryn reaches the ground with a little bit of nigh super human dexterity that wouldn’t at all be possible unless she had had almost all of her bones replaced over the last 20 years with titanium and plastic as they began to wear out. Kathryn had the skeleton of a 15 year old in some places under her mattress-like muscle tone, yet in all the other places she was a damn robot. It’s likely that Kathryn in this era could win an Olympic medal in any sport she set her eye upon, except maybe Chess or ballroom dancing, but there she is sitting 4 an a half feet away from one of her most vile mortal opponents, and he looks good. No little yellow pills required, but damn. Although he’s not the man she knew, this is just a boy version of the creature that would task her. A veritable child who she had run across quite on purpose, this boy, who wore a beard you could scrub a toilet clean with, but in a good way, and at least half the psyche in her mind that could still tread logic wanted to be that toilet, in a bad way.
“Yes please. Is tonight cold for the climate?”
“It’s not cold.”
“Young people never get cold.”
“Really? I just thought it was women who were always cold?”
“Kid, are you trying to make friends, or do you want me to clout you?”
“Relax lady, I’m just joking.”
“It wasn’t funny.”
“You should be careful of people’s feelings, humour isn’t so often subjective as it is offensive and hateful.”
“I said I was sorry.”
“And I don’t believe you.”
“Hey lady, You’re really heavy.”
“Never talk about a woman’s weight.”
“What? But… HEY!”
“You see, I’m allowed to tell jokes, because I’m funny.”
“Kate.” She nods.
“Hank.” He nods back. With the usual courteousy of this era he completes their introductory transactions, affording Janeway the two fingered peace sign salute like it would have really changed the world. Earth had a ways to go before it rock bottomed out and any pairingly successful bid to save it, would bugger everything up. The peace movement might have stopped Viet Nam, congratulations, but you didn’t make headway against the Supermen. You Hippies said “Peace” from a nonviolent demonstration marches but their response was to catapult the flower generation by the bushel and barrel into orbit barehanded. So much was happening on Earth by the hind end of the 20th century. It had been such a struggle to ignore Asia, the first time she met these decades when ¾’s of the globe was engulfed in the Eugenics War but America was too engrossed in errant consumerism chasing the mighty dollar and inventing the infomercial to notice Augments smashing each other like Titans of old, throwing cars and trains at each other through down town Tokyo, but it was an easy decision to limit the geography of their impact on this era by ignoring the really interesting shit going down because as it was, they were messing with time enough as it was then, and the last thing she needed to find out when she got back to the future was that Khan Sing was still the Dictator Apparent of Earth after 300 years because she unwittingly somehow propped up his regime when the vile despot was supposedly historically intended to scarper for deep space. The history books aren’t so much a set of rules, as a rough estimate to Kathryn Janeway.
“Hank the hippy. God save me.” She finally samples his dinner which “Hank” was polite enough to share from a second oversized aluminum mug. ”It’s mostly mushrooms?”
“Exotic.” Kathryn grudging admits of the scent gripping her nose and warming her belling is pleasant enough, so how can she viciously hate someone so seemingly innocent, for crimes he is not just not yet to commit but can’t ever commit because of explosions she had already added to the timeline upstream. Our hero passes the fleet issue thermos that was buckled to her utility belt, tanked with the aforementioned gin, not her preferred spirit, but it gets the job done faster than most and with the story she had to sell this P’tak, she needed to take the edge off the skepticism she’s likely to run loggerheads with against technically the host of this small and intimate dinner party. “If you’re not roasting smores, it’s not really camping, but this is good.” She kicks back a little more of the consume. “Mushrooms? Really? Fungus is not part of my diet usually, but It’s promising?”
“You believe in magic.”
“I fight dragons baby.”
“We’ve all fought dragons.”
“Oh. Right. Yes, That. Metaphorically. Of course metaphorically. Did you grow the ingredients yourself?”
“Foraged. I found a ring of them over there.” He points to what looks like treacherous jungle that might be hiding monsters and peril. Kathryn would have killed herself inside of a week and joined Hogan in heaven, if Tom hadn’t brought the Ship back after the Kazon marooned them on that horrible volcano planet. Stop thinking about death. The electricity her thoughts ride overclock into battle stations as she demands “Has this asshole just poised the both of us?” he is a genius. Even now at the beginning. He’s a genius, a genius wouldn’t eat something he found in a forest unless he was sure that it was safe. Replicate everything. Mother Nature is a cold tempered bitch.
“I like to be one with the land now and then. It helps me wind down from school. I’m building a computer. Do you know what a computer is?”
“I have a passing familiarity.”
“I’m going to change the world.”
“I don’t doubt you.”
“I’ll finish my thesis, get some capital and then everything is going to be like Captain Proton because of me.”
“It all starts with a first class education.”
“Education is important.” She is watching like a bird of prey to see how cautiously that rat Starling is consuming his own dinner, that this isn’t some horrid plan to take her wallet and bury her in the forest because it’s dangerous to accept food from people who are trying to kill you. Even with the best of intentions she could still be poisoned if he’s incompetent. An incompetent genius? Why couldn’t he have just brought come canned food? She’s a 24th century antifoodie, even if this… Lets call it gruel, is fine, it’s not like she’s even often capable of digesting real food without a little bit of trouble the following morning since Janeways have always believed that they had evolved beyond cooking and other barbaric toil. “We’re a long way from anywhere Hank, what are you doing out here?”
“Stuff. What are you doing out here?”
“This park is great for “stuff”.”
“You can always rely on “stuff” when the rest of the world is getting you down.”
“I’ve always thought so.” She takes another slurp of soup, so she takes another slurp of soup. Is stuff code for something she wonders? It’s important not to immediately alienate new allies even when they are so obviously treacherous bastards you should space them by grounds of premeditated self defense. “But that is really vague.”
“I’m a vague sort of guy. Groovy.”
“Vaguity is not conducive to a well structured conversation.”
“Kate, Kate, Katey girl… You’re not being groovy.”
“I’m not groovy. Oh no. How should I ever live with myself?”
“You know, you’re asking a lot of questions.”
“Am I? I hadn’t noticed?”
“Are you a pig?”
“WHAT?” Kathryn reaches for her weapon.
“A pig, a narc, a cop…”
“Do you mean a police officer?”
“Yes I mean a… Look, if you’re a pig you have to tell me, it’s the law.”
“Do I look like a cop?”
“Man, right now you look like a fricking cartoon.” And then he starts giggling.
Decades of Starfleet training has Kathryn immediately assuming there’s been a gas leak, until she notices that this is outside in nature, and not on a starship. So it’s probably dinner after all. If she has to pump her own stomach, he’s going to lose a finger. Some sort of food poisoning? Possibly fatal? That’s amazing though if you consider it. When Captain Braxton interrupted Hank the hippies lethal last supper that was destined to kill him, Braxton probably saved Starlings life from ending right now. Right this second, Henry Starling this evening has the abrupt hult of his timeline interrupted until he DIE OF WILD MUSHROOM POISONING… Unless she saves him? Kathryn has to beaver-dam fate some more? Admiral Grandma is selling karma at an exhibitive rate. Without scavenging technology form th e Aeon, Kathryn always assumed that Starling would still have made some impact on the 20th century but how likely is that if he dies as a child here?
Crap on a stick.
Why is the universe always leveled on her shoulders Kathryn spits?
He’s righting himself up, because there’s nothing wrong with him, so there’s probably nothing wrong with her! Good lord how the off colour fire highlights this boys eyes into something practically mesmerizing. Oh yes, he shall be mine, he shall be mine. Is it sexist or ageist that she didn’t feel like this about Starling when he was 40 and she was 35? Good lord, she’s a pedophile! Hell, even Harry Kim took a step back when a 12 year old Naomi asked him on a date someplace romantic they could get to know one another better after she’d grown into having a properly fully grown adult body of an Olympic swimmer and the emotional faculties to match. Disturbing as it was despite being a third his chronological age, they were about the same emotional age (they were both 12 year olds?) since as alien to each other’s species as they were, they both actualized at very different rates… Which is why Neelix wasn’t thrown out an airlock during their first week lost in the Delta Quadrant.
Her new beautiful friend regain his composure, and further appears not to be dying or showing signs of more immediate predeath-apoplexy loopiness. “I already said It’s a free country Kate, and if you think I have to explain why I want to get my funk on with the great outdoors after working for THE MAN all week, like because I’m some sort of dirty criminal up to no good, well that’s just your own negative disposition colouring my groovy nature into something… What you look like is that you escaped from an old coots home, what are you wearing, your pajamas? I’m surprised that there’s not feeties down there with a buttoned up butflap at the back… Are you sure you’re a cop?”
“I’m not a cop.” Kathryn begins to wonder if this man is really a genius. He seems addled.
“I thought you said that you were a cop.”
“I didn’t. You did.”
“You did, I didn’t”
“Did we just talk us in a circle?”
“You’re a difficult man to talk to in a straight line. I’m learning to adapt.”
“You have to enunciate more when you open your mouth.”
“I don’t think that’s my problem,”
“But you’re a coot?”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“I already told you, the soup is magic.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“You’re so square.”
“I don’t know what that means either.”
“It’s a hallucinogen.”
“It’s drugs baby, I’m going to blow your mind!”
“What! You dirty Bastard! You did Poison me!”
“No, I poisoned us.”
“I have been trying to find a reason not to bury you our here.”
“I only poisoned us a little.”
“How about I stick a little of my fist down your throat?”
“That’s not how I roll baby.”
“You’re on drugs?”
“We’re on drugs”
“This is drugs?”
“Drugs!? Pishaw. Next thing you’ll be telling me is that licking a horny toad’s back is drugs. It’s all natural.”
“Why would I ever lick a horny toad? “
“Because it’s drugs!”
“I am not comfortable with this, I really needed to be in control right now. This is important.”
“Control is over rated. Open your mind.”
“My mind is open enough.”
“You don’t want to expand your consciousness, to explore new realities!”
(There’s a beat.)
“A god once offered to show me new realities if I spent a night with him.”
“You meet a lot of gods?”
“Hey baby, I don’t mean to be rude, but are you real or am I making you up?”
“Nothing is real.”
“I am so high.”
“You’re sitting on the ground..”
“My ass is at ground level but my consciousness is high. Flying up in the sky with birds and angels.”
“Birds and Angels. Really?”
“I’m not saying that birds and angels are territorial, and hiss at each other, or that one time out of ten what you think is bird poop on your hat is actually angel crap, but there’s some definite overlap between heaven, birds and Sputnik.”
“Birds, angels and Sputnik.” Janeway might be talking to a madman.
“Seriously there’s if it looks like there’s about to be a three way collision between a Russian communication satellite, and Archangel and a pigeon who’s the most likely to skate out of that mess unscathed?”
“Angels aren’t real.”
“Just imagine angels might be real and then answer the question.”
“I physically can’t imagine that Angels are real.”
“You physically can’t.”
“I’m a scientist?”
“So am I, but I believe that there are Angels walking the earth every day putting right tiny injustices to make this scene just a little more bearably groovy.” And then he smiles.
“My giddy aunt. Well as long as you’re open to outlandish and unbelievable ideas… Doesn’t tonight feel alien? New? Like something incredible is supposed to happen and you’re at the very centre of it?”
“I call that a Thursday.”
“Really? What gall!”
“Sometimes a Wednesday, but yes, mostly a Thursday.”
“Have you ever heard of modesty?”
“Modesty is for people that aren’t the center of the universe.”
“I want to say that you have an unrealistic world view, but... ”
“Say it. Say Groovy one more time. I’m serious. One more time!”
“Just idle threats, carry on.”
“You’re not from around here are you?”
“The Pajamas were a giveaway?
“Tell you a secret.”
“Keeping secrets is not groovy.”
“I’m from the future.”
“No you’re not.
“Yes I am!”
“No, you’re not!”
“Yes, I am!”
“You’re a cop from the future?”
“No, I’m not a cop. I am from the future but I’m not a cop from the future, but actually I’m wondering where those guys are and why they haven’t stopped me yet?”
“What? Time cops are real?”
“Well. You can’t tell if someone from the future is lying, They always claim to have the best of intentions, but by the end it’s a certainty that they’ve screwed you and skipped town.”
“That’s not groovy, whenever I have a new Betty, I always stick around. I’m responsible. Make her breakfast.”
“Do you want to hear a story?”
“Is it about me?”
“Yes, as unlikely as it should seem, this story is all about you.”
“Far out. Grooooo…. Eeat.”
“You were supposed to be a great man. Destiny picked you Hank. Big plans.”
“This doesn’t sound good, Don’t bum me out!”
“I’m concerned about your big plans.”
“WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BIG PLANS!?”
“The usual. You met a woman.”
“You’re talking about “you” aren’t you Kate?”
“I have a lot of balls in the air and you’re one of them.”
“What happens if you drop some balls?”
“Time and space will crack at the seams and collapse into a doomed singularity.”
“Don’t be such a Debbie Downer Kate.”
“Your future ends.”
“OH! You’re a serial murderer!”
“I am not a serial murderer.”
“But that was the perfect line a serial murderer would have absolutely said just before sticking a knife in their victim’s chest. Although a female serial murderer, that’s pretty funny. I mean as if? Right? A woman! That’s hilarious!”
“Women can do anything.”
“Can you pee standing up?”
“Good lord how!?”
“Keep talking and maybe you won’t be able to.”
“Able to what?”
“Pee standing up.”
“Are you threatening my John Thomas?”
“Hey! That’s not cool!”
“Making my penis worried. That’s a really good tactic if you want me take you seriously, and you were so subtle about it. Like totally Oscar Wilde. Y’know?”
“Hank, if we could just discuss this like civilized – “ Wait? I’ve said that before.
“Civilized? Do you really think that you’re more civilized than I am? After your generation started half the problems that are going to screw this planet over!”
“My Generation? As in the forefather to your generation? Oh my.” Kathryn smiles for real.
“What’s so funny?”
“I not nearly as old as I look.”
“You look like you voted for Lincoln.”
“Thank you, it’s all about diet and exercise, and that I won’t be born for another 400 years.”
“One of us has to be seriously tripping balls to buy that one.”
“You believe in Angels but you don’t believe in Time Travelers?”
“You’re splitting hairs.”
“Do you believe that Angels can travel through time?”
“Maybe… But you don’t believe in Angels!”
“Maybe time travelers are Angels! I’m travelling through time to make everything better. That’s your definition of an angel right? Maybe your god is short on man power, Angel Power, that he had tricked me into doing his dirty work like I was unwittingly conscripted?”
“Even though this mission, it’s a mission right, you totally believe in, you believe that your every act is noble and righteous?”
“Everything you just said is because you’re on hallucinogenic mushrooms.”
“I’m a time traveler from the 25th century!”
“You’re a drug addict from the 20th century.”
Kathryn takes out her phaser and disintegrates a tree. POOF!
“Is that a burning bush I see before me?”
“Did you just mashup the Bible with Shakespeare?”
“Did you just fire off a ray gun?”
“Looks that way.”
“This is turning out to be a bad trip.”
“I’m going to be straight with you Hank. You were supposed to find a UFO. A few minutes ago you were supposed to see the sky light up like its noon because a Federation Timeship is ripping a hole in the universe just to fall into your ungrateful lap. You don’t look like someone who can exploit 29th century technology, but that’s just a mystery the universe will have to abide with. Appearances can be so deceiving. I have no idea how you can look at bioluminal hypothetical complexes and invent ONLY microchips, but… “
A high pitched whistling sound went through one of Janeway’s ears and out the other and then into Starlings ear and out the other and they both passed out as was the intended surgical and mechanical reaction of that piercing sound and how it quickly and temporarily bruises soft grey parts of the human brain just so to exact immediate slumber quickly and without fuss.
A very well dressed couple, a man and woman, walks out of the foliage. They could have been on the cover of (American) Vogue Magazine. Their attire certainly had been a month ago. These two winged monkeys of order value the necessity of camouflage in this backward nest of barbarian hamlets teething through its atomic infancy, because one misstep is the end of the world, well, this world… And when they go back home, which isn’t this world, there will be hell to pay if they have to start over form the dark ages again.
“What’s going on here 201?” The immaculate strawberry blonde mentor asks her able bodied apprentice.
The man, unlike his superior who is most definitely a woman, but deceptively almost the same age, kicks a tuft of earth “A massive wad of trouble. Someone, one of these two, the old woman probably from how she’s dressed, if not the phased energy weapon, is playing fast and loose with the rules. We should consider detaining her. Finding some answers. We have mind probes for a reason.”
These two “investigators” guarding over this recess of history are threading between the two sleeping figures looking for evidence not so precariously as one would expect since these human beings(????) are standing on a big fricking temporal landmine by any other definition that could up end all their long term goals for Earth.
“And what are we going to do about this 201?”
He’s worried, is she asking him what to do because she doesn’t know what to do? 347 always knows what to do, it’s why he loves her. The perfectly agile precision of her mind to wrestle any puzzle into submission is exotically seductive… But time travelers
, and more time travelers so it seems like over lapping time travelers that are to be reaching into each-others past for dominance over history from the big talk form this “Kate” woman. “347, this isn’t my training day, I may still be your apprentice, but we’ve been working together for months and this is not a time to be kerfluffling about looking for teachable moments. This is Fate of the entire universe 347. I’m not wrong? This is about fate of the universe?”
“Possibly a new front in the temporal cold war?”
“I thought we stay out of that?”
“We do, but this doesn’t feel organized enough to be that, and besides the Aegis would have evacuated us at the first sign of obvious temporal infection. The advance of technology on this planet so far has seemed perfectly sensible. Dangerous and suicidal but sensible.”
“What if this woman supposed to be here?”
“Predestination? That’s just clumsy people being presumptuous.”
“Like I said… Fate of the Universe.”
“You are not mistaken. It’s just another normal day. Now by the numbers account your report.”
“We’ve been tracking massive temporal event making its way towards here and now, which a few hours ago was suddenly derailed and… ”
Which is when they froze.
Something made time stop.
As two men stepped around some coalescing moments “I hate the Ageis. They don’t even use time travel, they’ve just always existed as an elder power for as far as anyone can jaunt forward or backward and they remember everything anyone has ever done to them and their agents and then wait eons or decades to formulate the correct and timely response. They fight time with book keeping and an immortal civil service. We’re not getting away with anything. These two may be static, but eventually the Aegis is going to recognize what we did to them now, which is technically assault, and maybe not even until their autopsies 60 years from now, but there will be formal diplomatic reprimands for our behavior demanding extradition waiting for us the moment we return to Juno.”
“We could get lucky?” His companion consolidates.
“It’s the Aegis! No one gets lucky against the Aegis. Their world, all their worlds, entire star systems are always temporally shielded and cloaked. We can barely temporarily temporally shield a city or a moon before we know that we’re about to do something dangerous or stupid. They don’t avoid time travel because they’re scared or are still trying to piece together the technology, it’s because they don’t need it. They’re above it. We’re done for. If we didn’t have a duty more important than whatever is waiting for us on the other side of Aegis Justice I wouldn’t touch this with a ten foot pole, but that’s Janeway. Captain Kathryn damn Janeway which means that if we’re going home, if there’s even a home to go back to, it’ll be in a body bag. ”
“That’s Admiral Janeway there, not Captain Janeway.”
“Hell! Well that’s even a thousand times worse. She is so completely off script it’s not funny. What the hell is Janeway doing here? Our history says that she gets dippy, hands over forbidden but necessary technology to the past and cripples the Borg in the process creating one of the few Borg free timelines that survives into the 29th century. That’s what she needs to do. Our history depends on it. Our lives depends on it. We could already be temporal refugees. Everytime my life turns to shit that woman is to blame.”
“We can still contain this before… “
“Where am I?”
“What? You’re standing in front of me.”
“No. Not me here. The other me who is supposed to be there 20 feet below the surface upside down. My emergency transport almost drowns me in that lake and then I had to fight a bear. It’s no wonder by the time the park ranger found me I failed my psyche evaluation. Have you ever fought a bear Ducane?”
“Um, no sir, I haven’t had that privilege.”
“Trust me. Don’t.”
“Only because you insist.”
“I’m sharing with you the most painful night of my existence and you’re being glib?”
“My ship is supposed to be crashing here. That’s Henry Starling. I’m not here. The Aeon isn’t here, and Kathryn Janeway is at the root of it. That woman is the most rudimentally, fundamentally difficult impediment. If you want to do anything right, first thing you have to do is find Kathryn Janeway and make her swallow a phaser. Write that down somewhere so you don’t forget.”
“It’s just a coincidence Captain Braxton.”
“No. She’s out to get me. I don’t know what she’s done, or why, but it’s selfish and ignorantly apocalyptic. Sometimes I wonder If we all would have been better off if Janeway died in 2370 and Lieutenant Commander Cavit had to get that ridiculous star ship back to Earth.”
“Sir, thought crimes are punishable by 6 years of reeducation, you have to be more careful who you… “
“You want my ship? You’re going to turn me in to the magistrates? I wouldn’t if I was you, because I got dirt on you too and you’ll be sharing a cell next to mine pretty boy. So back up, and let’s just keep focus on who the real enemy is.”
“She looks so harmless like your nana.”
“My nana had horns.”
“She’s not harmless”
“She’s also not a legal target.”
“Legal? I’m not sure if there is a 29th century because this isn’t a 20th century I recognize. In my hearts I know that if we don’t stick to our principles then our future doesn’t deserve to flourish but right now I’m pretty bloody sure that everyone who we know and love is doing the exact opposite of flourishing... And it’s her fault. She’s not just a legal target, she’s the only target that matters.”
“You can’t jump to conclusions without proof.”
“DUCANE! SHE IS TIMEHITLER! More-so than any other criminal we’ve run across and bared down, that woman is TIMEHITLER!
“You’re over reacting.”
“She’s guilty, guilty as sin and we might end up with our throats cut before we can prove it and reverse whatever hell she’s done to time. If we can’t save the day, if she’s created some new stupid timeline that’s just a pile of ass, I say that we owe it to the universe she’s turned inside out to make sure that she pays for what she’s done even if this turns out to be slightly beyond our limits.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“The Aegis have sedated her and I’ve stopped her temporal continuation, but would I be an evil man if I kicked her a little?”
“Kathryn Janeway is a hero, and you will treat her like a hero!”
“She’s only a hero because she ground my soul for grit and traction.”
“You can’t give in to these… Aberrant desires. You’re better than this. You’re a great man. You’ve saved the Federation and the Empire a dozen times over; if you’re an idiot here you could flush that all away. Do you want to be a Starfleet Captain or a mental patient?”
“I want to be a Starfleet Captain.”
“Good, so start acting like it.”
“One kick. One kick in her stomach to get all this bile out of my system, and then I promise I’ll act all spit and polish honorable. No one has to know. She’ll just blame the internal bleeding on Starling’s cooking. I’ll kick her, we’ll go kill that bear, and then we’ll sort out this clusterfrakk. Do we have a deal?”
“Okay Just one, but take your shoes off. And then we roll back time. And then will you be willing to act like an adult?”
Captain Braxton of the USS Relativity, sits down and starts unlacing his boots.
“You take all the fun out of absolute power Ducane.”