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Old April 16 2012, 10:09 PM   #1
Pony Horton
Lieutenant Junior Grade

by Pony R. Horton

"I wish... I wish time had allowed me to know you better."

"Well, you'll just have to read my books. What I am is pretty much there."

Stardate 46001.2

Captain Jean-Luc Picard held the fragile, yellowed, antique paper envelope reverently. In a neat scrawl on the front of the envelope was written, "To be opened in the year 2368 A.D." Within this envelope was a second envelope which read, "To Madam Guinan, c/o Federation Starship Enterprise. Open on Stardate 46001.1"

Barely five minutes ago, Guinan herself had brought the envelope to Captain Picard in his ready room. She had just finished reading it, she had explained, and felt Picard deserved to read it, too.
Enclosed were only two pages, but to Jean-Luc Picard's historian's mind, those pages were like a new piece of Earth history being brought to light solely for his benefit. Though it was addressed to Guinan, it had relevance for the entire senior bridge crew of the Enterprise. Each of them would get the chance to read the manuscript at their leisure.
But for now, Jean-Luc allowed himself just a moment or two of awe that he was one of only two people in the entire universe (so far) to not only be reading, but actually holding in his hands, an original, hand-written, antique paper document penned nearly five-hundred years ago, and addressed to a member of his crew, by none other than Mark Twain.

The old man moved slowly along the corridor on Deck 36.
He would've stood out even if he hadn't been dressed in an all-white, antique three-piece linen suit complete with gold watch fob, black string necktie, and odious, smoldering cigar. As he neared a turbolift bay up ahead, he slowed to an uncertain stop and sat down on the lit-up bench extruding from the bulkhead. After a few pensive moments, he looked up from his hands and took-in this section of the Starship Enterprise.

He was an elderly human, in his late '60's, though he looked much older. His hair was thick, unruly, and snowy white, as were his bushy eyebrows and large mustache. With a gaze as sharp as a cutting beam, his eyes moved from the glowing light panels embedded within the ceiling and walls, to the subdued colors on the turbolift doors, to the too-amazing-to-be-real paintings of outer space scattered along the corridor, to the perfectly normal-looking Ficus Benjamina tree in a pot in one comer.
It had only been... what?... a few days ago that he had been regaling his latest captive audience as to whether life existed elsewhere in the "stellar universe."

Regaling? Pontificating had been more like it He had been an invited guest at a reception hosted by the woman he (and most of San Francisco) knew as Madam Guinan, and as he so often did, he had dominated the entire affair. Going on as though an expert on both earthly and interstellar life before a gracious lady who would turn out to be an interstellar alien in the flesh! And over three-hundred years old, no less!
From his point of view, that reception had only been three days ago. However, as far as his universe in general counted time, it had been nearly five-hundred years since that warm August day in San Francisco, California, 1893. The man who had been so certain of his place in the earthly scheme of things now found himself an uninvited temporal gatecrasher aboard a futuristic starship many millions of miles from San Francisco, five-hundred years into the future.

And yet, for all his intelligence, experience, and imagination, Samuel Clemens had no idea what to think next.

"Mr. Clemens?" came the soft voice. Samuel looked up into the concerned face of the lovely Counselor Deanna Troi.
"How are you holding up?"

Her eyes were like dark, friendly pools of sympathy, and he wished he could gaze into them forever. But, just as quickly, he cursed himself for a sentimental old fool.
"I am afraid, dear Counselor," he began at length, his voice creaky with age, "that I appear to have become that which I have always despised: an expert on nothing but ignorance and pontification. A man who shouts much but speaks little. I would seem to be, in your century, nothing more than a pundit. Which would place me in the same basic caste as an Addisonian."

She gazed at him with an almost sad smile, and the sympathy radiating from her was palpable. "You've just been thrown from your natural time period into the distant future, and had all your preconceived notions and opinions both confirmed and shattered in an instant." Taking his hand in hers, she added, "What you're feeling is perfectly natural."

"Hosted many time travelers, have you?" He wasn't meaning to be caustic with her, it was just that after so many years of cynicism and growing bitterness, his sharp tone was more of a habit than he'd realized.

"You're certainly not the first," she replied with that smile again.

"Well, it certainly is a first for me!" he shot back. then turned away, grumbling about "being shaken right out of my shirt," while rummaging in his antique coat pocket, finally producing an equally antique blue-tip match.
To Deanna's amusement, he reached out and struck the match on the edge of the turbolift's doorjamb, and it obediently ignited. She had, of course, had occasion to light a match or two during certain holodeck adventures, such as when she played the part of "Laredo" in a simulation of The Ancient West town of Deadwood, Arizona with Worf and his son, Alexander. Still, she was fascinated as the match from Samuel Clemens' pocket blazed into life with a whiff of sulphur and a puff of real smoke. At the same moment, a tone like a muffled, stuttering piano note chimed in the corridor, followed by a cold-sounding female voice:

"Warning. Unauthorized combustion on Deck 36, section 5-3 near Turbolift 7. Initiating protective forcefields."

Just as Samuel began to realize that the unseen voice was referring to him and his lit match, there was a disarming WHUMP sound, and suddenly the hallway on either side was obscured by a glowing, translucent barrier. Before he could react any further, though, Deanna had taken the match from him, blown it out, and addressed her next remarks to... the ceiling?

"Computer?" (BEEE-beep) "Unauthorized flame has been extinguished. Please remove forcefields on Deck 36."

"Acknowledged," replied the ceiling, and then the corridor was normal again.

With the air of a man whose balloon was rapidly losing gas, Mark Twain looked at Counselor Troi and said, "I think I need a drink."

Even before the elegant, real wood doors of Ten-Forward whooshed open, Guinan knew who was about to walk through, even though if asked how she knew, she'd be hard-pressed to tell you. And for one of the few times in her adult life (or at least the last several centuries) she found herself feeling a bit-edgy. Maybe even nervous.

It wasn't that she was apprehensive about the implications to the Prime Directive. That was a sword's edge she'd danced many times before. It wasn't even that she was uncertain as to how to explain her background or current presence aboard the Enterprise to a man whose lifetime was measured in mere decades. She could easily handle that when the time came.
No, if she was gonna be honest with herself (and she always was) she had to admit that her feelings stemmed from the same emotion that had led her to invite Samuel Clemens to that reception five-hundred years ago: admiration bordering on hero-worship.

Of course, this was only a tiny vestige of the admiration she had felt for Twain all those centuries ago. But that had been before the experience of the Nexus. Before the coming of the Borg. And yet, even with those and many other factors tempering her life and personality, Guinan was almost surprised to find a tiny remaining twinge of the old feelings of admiration and, yes, hero-worship for Samuel Clemens.

Part-way through her third century, young Guinan had been deeply involved in her primitive cultures studies and was beginning her field research. By this time, it was the late 19th century on Earth. For decades, Guinan had been studying Earth humans from their own level, by living openly among them. There were no outward physical differences between a Terran and an El Aurian, so Guinan fit in well enough.
The only obstacle was her skin color, a deep, rich mocha. On Earth, at that time, people of Color, especially those with very dark skin, were treated with bigotry in many parts of the world. In contrast, during her time as Hostess of Ten-Forward five centuries later, many individuals would approach her and tell her, in one way or another, that she had the most beautiful skin they'd ever seen.

Guinan's level of intelligence, refinement, and especially her literary knowledge in a time when most people on Earth, especially Black people, were illiterate, had not gone unnoticed in the nation-state that was America in the 1890's. She learned quickly which states in the USA were dangerous for a person of Color, and soon decided that San Francisco, California was about the safest, and certainly the most interesting, place to study.
With the growing City by The Bay as her home base, she had digested all the publications of the era and the area, and had fallen in love with the writings of Mark Twain, especially his articles in the Territorial Enterprise. The more of Twain she read, the more she wished to trade ideas, opinions, and witticisms with him.

So she wrote to him, invited him to a reception at her home in San Francisco, and to her surprise and delight Samuel Clemens accepted her offer. Guinan could still feel the pride and almost awe she felt that day. Oh my God, Mark Twain is entertaining in my parlor! After that, and the incidents that would follow, she had formed a lasting friendship with Samuel.

With all that she'd experienced, the loss, the pain, the joy of eight-hundred-plus years of life, she still reserved the right to save a small, soft spot in her heart for Samuel L. Clemens. Setting aside an empty glass, she clasped her hands within the folds other robe as usual (part of her "Yoda pose," as she liked to think of it), only this time it was to hide their shaking.
'It's never easy,' she thought, 'when someone you knew who lived and died five-hundred years ago just suddenly up and walks through your door.'

As he walked through the doors, Samuel looked toward the great wall of windows to his left.
Beyond the transparent aluminum wall, the blackness of space was alive with thousands of bright stars. The curving bulk of a planet which was clearly not Earth was visible, peeking over the lower edge of the windows. Samuel stopped all movement and simply stared at the sight, thunderstruck. He had accepted that he was aboard a spaceship... no, no, no, they keep calling it a Starship! he chastised himself. He understood, on some level, what that meant. But to actually see interstellar space with his own eyes was something he had not prepared himself for. As he gazed into the cosmos before him, something began to stir deep within his heart.

He remembered, clearly, his remarks of three days ago as to whether human life should be akin to a precious jewel. He had weighed-in against me idea that life was to be valued, and had wondered how much better the universe had been doing before there were all these humans to clutter things up.
"It is cheap by virtue of it's very abundance, if we assume Earth is not the only inhabited body orbiting it's way through space." he had cynically concluded his "character assassination" of humankind during Guinan's reception. And then, as if his mind was bringing him full-circle, he suddenly remembered that... that blue-skinned fella he and Deanna had passed in the corridor. Remembered her conviction and sincerity as she explained to him that such beings were here by choice, as part of a Federation of Planets (!) where want and poverty had been eliminated from Earth, and many other worlds. And, looking into her eves, not to mention seeing the wonders of this century for himself, he knew she was telling him the truth.

He had done more than his share of travel aboard ships of one kind or another. This vessel was cleaner, quieter, nicer, and far more luxurious, if a bit too austere for nineteenth-century tastes, than any upon which he'd traveled previously. And the clothing! Counselor Troi might have been wearing paint, or might just as well be in the nude for all that her clothing hid.
She had seemed perfectly comfortable, though, and no one else gave her a second took. In fact, everyone seemed to be dressed in similar, tight clothing, mostly of a uniform design. They were clearly all part of the same organization. They appeared diligent, intelligent, and busy. And everyone seemed happy. And most importantly, they seemed honest.

His mind drifted down to Deck 36, to the... being who, even now, was having his mechanical head reattached to his android body. Clemens felt a surge of warmth for Mr. Data, and remorse, and shame that he had allowed his fear and prejudice to cloud his sense of fairness.
He considered the inadequate words which he had uttered to the silent, non-functional person as his friend and crewmate Geordi La Forge worked to save him: "Mr. Data, I fear I have misjudged you," he murmured, patting Data gently on the shoulder.
"Huh. As I have misjudged many things."

At that moment, Clemens realized he was grappling with the same moral dilemma that his own character, Huck Finn, experienced when he had to humble himself before Jim, his Black traveling companion, and apologize for mistreating him. And, like Huck, Samuel found within himself no regret at having given the apology.

"Mr. Clemens," said a familiar voice behind him, "you give the appearance of a man who... 'has been shaken right out of his shirt,'" Guinan finished as though ending a quote. Clemens looked at her in confusion for a second, but recovered and approached her with hands outstretched, smiling. She clasped his hands, allowed him to kiss one of hers, then indicated the nearest stool. As he sat, he peered closely at the dark, singular woman whom he had last seen lying injured in the mine below San Francisco.

"What can I get you?" she broke his train of thought.

"Uh... uhmmm... whiskey'?'" he turned in his seat, looking around the bar. There didn't seem to be many bottles that he could see. As he turned his head back the other way, Guinan was there, pushing his drink forward. He lifted it, sniffed it, then tossed it back, satisfied. She poured him a second. As he held it, he peered at her. "Madam Guinan."
"Mr. Clemens." She gazed back with those huge dark eyes, highlighted by the light glowing up from me surface of the bar.

"When did you get up here? I thought you were in the cave under The Presidio."

"Finish your drink and I'll try to explain. Basically, you've traveled through time. I haven't. At least, not today. The 'me' you know, whose reception you came to three days ago, is still there in the cave. You were right, I am an alien. Now, before you start in on me about nefarious alien invasions, I was on Earth as part of my education. 'Primitive cultures' studies. I was using Earth as part of my dissertation."
She spoke in a voice that was quiet, yet carried an undertone of... weight. As though volume was not required to carry a powerful message. As he looked at her, he noticed that somehow this Guinan had a rather different light in her eyes than he had seen over the last three days. Gone was the mirth that seemed to brim from her eyes when she had debated with him at the reception, as was the ready smile which seemed to light-up the room whenever she flashed it.
As Samuel looked into Guinan's timeless face, he saw a wisdom no less monolithic than Buddha's. He got the impression of a boulder in a stream. Massive, unmoving, the flow bending around the huge stone, slowly wearing it smooth, while slowly the stone gains the wisdom of the ages.

"For you, 1893 was this morning. For me, it's five-hundred years ago. The me you left in the cave is only three-hundred years old. I, talking in front of you right now am...(she almost smiled) five-hundred years older than that. And I now run this bar."

Clearly, Samuel was putting the pieces together in his mind. Since she was here to talk to him, that must mean...

"So, you weren't going to die in the cave? What about that other fella, your captain, wasn't he?" Samuel asked.

"Now, Mr. Clemens. There are certain rules for time travelers. Things you can know, things you cannot know. As a time traveler, you are now part of a very unique and elite group. There are rules. You cannot possess information from the future. You cannot bring information into the past. You must never do anything to alter the natural course of the timeline.
"And you can never tell anyone about being here. Not even me. Of course, even if you did tell of this, people would most likely think it was just another of your humorous yarns. You could swear it really happened, and at best people would think you were saying that as a natural part of the story, to give it authenticity."

He kept peering at her over the rim of the glass for another moment, then quickly downed the liquor. Placing the glass down. he looked her in the eye and asked, "And at worst?"

She gave him that almost-smile again.

"At worst, people would think you were crazy, and either ignore you, institutionalize you, or buy more of your books."

For the first time in a long while, Samuel Clemens let go with a deep, heartfelt laugh. He raised his empty glass. "Well then, here's to the twenty-fourth century!"

"Samuel," she purred, "if you're going to drink to this century, then you should drink something from this century."

Reaching under the bar, she brought up a squarish bottle layered in dust, and filled his glass with a bright green liquid, then filled one for herself. Normally, she didn't drink with customers, but this was anything but normal. She craved to be able to tell him of the friendship they would forge, of what the coming years would mean for his life. Of course, she couldn't. The only thing she could do was raise her glass and say, "To friendship. In any century."

Together, they raised their glasses and knocked back the shot. Guinan watched the human's reaction closely. He gulped it down, and his eyes immediately got very big. He drew in a sharp breath, held it, and then his face relaxed into a wide smile.

"By God, now there's a drink!" he rasped. Picking up the bottle, he hunted for a label. Nothing. He lifted the stopper and sniffed. No help there. Finally, he looked at Guinan. "What is it?" he croaked.

"It's green." Guinan deadpanned.


Last edited by Pony Horton; April 17 2012 at 06:46 AM.
Pony Horton is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 16 2012, 10:09 PM   #2
Pony Horton
Lieutenant Junior Grade


An hour later, Samuel was still sitting on his barstool.
Guinan had served him a steak from the replicator, and he had enjoyed his meal while quietly observing the 24th century as it existed in Ten-Forward. He had been able to take most of the non-humans in stride, even the Gorn exchange student on his way home from Earth.
He had asked many questions, some of which Guinan felt there was no trouble answering, such as what year it was. She even gave him a brief lesson in stardate theory. She told him of some of the other cultures they interacted with, such as the Vulcans, Klingons, Betazoids, El Aurians, Gorn, Bolian, and Ferengi. She even explained the concept of synthahol, and had him try a glass of synthetic whiskey, to which he appeared indifferent after his first taste.

What probably gave him the greatest pause during his visit was seeing two human crew members sharing a candle lit dinner and openly holding hands atop their table near the windows.

They were both male.

"I must ask, Guinan, is that sort of thing normal in this century?"

"Well, Mr. Clemens, times change. It's a different era, different roles," she explained.

"But... b-but." he stammered, pointing with his cigar.

"Like I said, different time. Love and affection between people is something that was de-mystified hundreds of years ago. They're in love. Or at least a heavy case of 'in like.'"

Just then, the two men leaned across the table, shared a deep, brief kiss, then got up and, hand-in-hand, left Ten-Forward. Samuel watched them go, jaw still hanging. He looked over to Guinan for support. She smiled again, this time even showing some teeth.

"Welcome to the twenty-fourth century."

"But, I always thought that the majority of Judeo-Christian religions felt such sexual perversions as that to be a sin of the worst kind," Samuel fumed.

"Well, after humans made contact with other beings in the galaxy, spiritual and religious ideas on Earth changed drastically." She looked for a moment as if she were about to add something, but then she remained silent.

"I don't know if I'll be able to get used to some of the things I've seen here," he moaned.

Guinan gave him a deep, searching look. "I'm glad you brought that up. As I said before, there are many things I cannot tell you. But I can tell you this..." She lowered her eyes for a moment, as if trying to figure out exactly how to frame her next statement. Finally she looked up at him. "You don't belong here, in this time."

He narrowed his eyes at her. "Are you suggesting I am outside of my rights to see how the future of mankind has unfolded?"

"No. I'm saying you're not supposed to be here," she responded firmly.

"Why is that?" he challenged.

"Because Captain Picard is not supposed to be there, in your time. The addition of his existence cannot replace the sudden loss of yours," Guinan looked back at him, unflappable.

"Are you saying that I have left some kind of... indelible impression upon the history of Earth, which will be thrown out of kilter by my sudden disappearance from my own time?" be asked, skeptically, but still with a hint of awe.

"What I'm asking, Mr. Clemens, is has it occurred to you that your work on Earth is not yet finished?"

To Clemens, that phrase, spoken in such a simple way from such a remarkable being as Madam Guinan, sounded positively Biblical. Of course, his natural curiosity jumped right in, and his mind followed the implications of that statement.

''So then, I take it I have more books to write?" he tried.

Again the almost-smile. "You know the rules. I can't give you any such information from the future."

He looked deflated. Gazing at his cigar, he took a deep breath, let it out as though he accepted defeat, and peered up from under his shaggy brows at Guinan in a manner best described as 'cagey.'

"Isn't there anything about the future of humanity you can tell me?"

Her expression softening, she glanced furtively about the room, beckoned Samuel close, and whispered to him.

"Yes. There is one fact I can tell you. Humans will go into space. But only you and I will know that you were the first of them all. Mark Twain in outer space! And you'll never be able to tell anyone."

"The name's Clemens! And...such a burden of knowledge to keep secret," he breathed. "That's going to be... difficult, in the extreme."

She almost rolled her eyes. Almost. "Tell me about it. I've been holding it in for 500 years!"

Ultimately, Samuel Clemens accepted his burden of knowledge, as well as his responsibility to both history and Captain Picard, since it was deemed that he was an acceptable security risk as to future knowledge, plus being absolutely sworn to secrecy by Commander Riker.
Clemens was briefed by Geordi and Data on what he would need to know and do once on Devidia, the planet they orbited which was the focal point of the temporal portal that had enabled Samuel Clemens to travel into the future with the others from the Enterprise.
This time, as he was beamed down to the planet, he paid attention to the process.
He was astonished as the annular confinement beam gently locked him into place, followed by the tingling, breezy sensation and musical sound filling his ears, almost as if the stars themselves were singing out loud. He watched as the transporter room seemed to blur into a soft, sparkly blue glow, then re-focus into the cave that had been his first stop in the 24th century. Just to his left, he saw Mr. Data just now re-materializing in a haze of light and sound, then becoming solid.

"Amazing!" he smiled.

Data simply nodded agreement.
Handing Mr. Clemens the Ophidian-shaped cane, which was the snake-like instrument that activated the time portal, and which they had confiscated from a pair of malevolent biengs who were using it to travel back into Earth's past, Data directed him to stand in the center of the room.

Just before taking his position, Samuel Clemens took Data's hand in his, shaking it gently.
"I hate long goodbyes. Y'know, considering how and when we met, you remind me of one of my most famous characters. The Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Only you're The Starfleet Android in Old San Francisco!"

Data cocked his head for a moment, recalling the reference.

"Thank you Mr. Clemens. I believe you honor me, sir," Data replied sincerely.

"No more than you and your people have honored me, Mr. Data. Now, let's get this over with before it's too late."

Samuel took up his position, keeping the head of the cane high above where his hand held the shaft. Data took aim at the head, adding, "You will see a bright flash as the Ophidian is activated. Do not be frightened."

"Very well."

Data fired.
The thing in Samuel's hand reared up, coming to life amid a bright glow and flashing sparks. It looked like a venomous snake, fangs and all. And it was definitely alive.
For a moment, Samuel wasn't sure he could keep a grip on the thing, it was writhing around so much, but grip it he did. A second later, the air near them opened into a brilliant, glowing portal, radiating intense temporal energies out into the visible light spectrum.
Samuel looked back at Data, who nodded toward the blazing doorway.

With a last wave, Samuel gulped, and still gripping the cane firmly, he stepped into the light.

A second later, while Mr. Data watched, the portal collapsed and vanished, forever spiriting Mark Twain home from the 24th century.


About six hours later, Captain Picard walked into a quiet Ten-Forward.
As he and Guinan spotted each other, they both began to share a secret smile. No words need be exchanged. He handed Guinan back her letter.

"You actually let him drink Aldebaran Whiskey?"

"You'd be surprised at what a man from his era can drink. He liked it," she said, her smile widening slightly.

"I'm glad he had you as a friend in his life, Guinan. I know I can't imagine life without you."

"The feeling's mutual, Picard. Now, what can I get you?"

My Dearest Madame Guinan,

Though we've been friends for many years, there are things I've kept from your knowledge with a combination of duty and regret. Of course, I assume you are reading this letter at the appropriate time, and as such, I will have remained dutifully dead these past five centuries.

Ever since that reception in San Francisco, I've known you were an alien. This is not news to you, as we've occasionally spoken of it during our acquaintance. I've been as honest with you as with any friend I've had the honor of retaining over a long course of time. But, that is not to say that I have told you everything. The fact of the matter is that, while you are an alien, I am a time traveler.

Oh, I do not do it regularly. In fact, I have only done it once. But once is enough. It was not an easy experience for me, but it must have been even less so for you, having to deal with me again all of five-hundred years after the rest of humanity was glad to declare me buried and old news.

Of course, it has been very hard over the years, keeping from you the knowledge of how splendid the future will be for you. Especially by virtue of the extraordinary people you will come to know. As long as there are people like your Captain Picard, Mr. Riker, yourself, and especially Commander Data in your future (which is now, for you, the present) then it is my feeling that the future will continue in good hands.

However, having said all of the above, I still wish to lodge a basic complaint about the "unique and elite" group into which I have been thrust: time travelers.
I of course, felt honored to be a part of such an august (and possibly unnatural) group of people, until I came to see how genuinely rude they can be.
They seem to feel that I, like all time travelers, have about me some kind of 'temporal focal point' as they put it. They tell me that this gives them the right to 'look me up' as though I'm some kind of entry in the temporal encyclopedia.

To date I've been visited by several other time travelers, including a tall, severly-dressed human male with a black cat wearing a diamond collar; a strange, almost manic fellow with wild, white hair who arrived in a gleaming, steel-clad time vehicle that looked to be a descendent of the Stanley Steamer; and two brightly-dressed teenage boys who arrived in a metal and glass telephone silence cabinet, and kept calling each other 'Dude.'

All of these people visited me not just because they wanted to meet me as a celebrity (that is nothing unusual in itself), but because they said they needed to talk to somebody else who could share their perspective. This always made me think of the gracious Counselor Troi, and how I could never approach her level of understanding and compassion for others.

And so, as I could never achieve that level of humanity, I usually tell them to go away, that I have no answers for them. I often add that if they wish to know my thoughts, they should read my books. That is why I wrote them. This seems to shut them up. Except for the fellow with the silvery vehicle. He begged me for an autographed copy of Tom Sawyer, and I saw no harm in granting that small request. After which I told him to 'get lost.'

I am very busy these days, and these constant interruptions from other time travelers have not only disrupted my flow of work, hut have served to make me feel like little more than a temporal tourist attraction.

If I am the most attractive thing to be found throughout time itself, then maybe I should re-evaluate this potentially bright future, with an eye toward income. If a time traveler wishes to meet me, it would be at a set price. If they wish an autographed book, it would be a higher price. And if they wish advice of future affairs, it would be at a premium fee, commensurate with my social and literary position.

Of course, any inquiries about my time and rates would have to go through an agent acting on my behalf. It is my belief that a young man of my acquaintance would be a most excellent choice to act as my agent. He is energetic, dynamic, and possessed of a decent amount of street experience, including many ways of turning a coin. He may be currently found exploring the wilderness of The Klondike, but I am convinced he would be willing to consider a lucrative change of scenery. His name is Jack London.

Forgive me, as I tend to get off-track these days.
In closing, Madame Guinan, rest assured that your presence in my life has made a measurable difference for the better. We both have shared this five-hundred-year secret across the great barrier of time, and though it has proven difficult (especially with none of that amazing and potent green whiskey of yours), it has proven equally worthwhile.

And at least now, you can finally tell everybody else the story

I just hope they believe you!

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Elmira, New York 1909

Data carefully placed the letter back into it's envelope.
Though he had no emotions, he nevertheless experienced a sensation that he could only categorize as... gratitude. Gratitude not only that Samuel Clemens had remembered him and his shipmates in what would surely become Mark Twain's most famous piece of 'lost' literature, but gratitude also that he was simply active and in the right place and... time... to be a part of it.

Placing the envelope gently on the desk, Data reached across the desktop and picked up a bound volume. It was the second item which had been found in that box in the cave beneath The Presidio, and it was addressed specifically to Mr. Data.

It was a leather-bound, First Edition copy of A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT.

Inside, it was personally autographed and inscribed to Data by the author. Leaning back in his chair, Data said, "Computer. Lower general illumination in room. Enable reading light over my desk."


As the lights readjusted, Data sat back, his cat Spot curled-up on his lap.
Opening to the first chapter of what was surely one of the most valuable bound books in the galaxy, Lt. Commander Data settled-in for the singular pleasure of an evening with Mark Twain.

Comments or reviews, anyone?

Last edited by Pony Horton; April 17 2012 at 06:59 AM.
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Old April 17 2012, 04:54 AM   #3
Cobalt Frost
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Location: seduced by The Coolness in Phineas & Ferb's backyard

You need to break up your text, like this:

He narrowed his eyes at her. "Are you suggesting I am outside of my rights to see how the future of mankind has unfolded?"

"No. I'm saying you're not supposed to be here," she responded firmly.

"Why is that?" he challenged.

"Because Captain Picard is not supposed to be there, in your time. The addition of his existence cannot replace the sudden loss of yours," Guinan looked back at him, unflappable.
Right now, your story is basically a block of unreadable text. A beta reader might prove useful, as well. From what I can tell, the concept is intriguing, but you need to make the story more "user-friendly."
Damn the resonance cannons, full speed ahead!
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Old April 17 2012, 05:14 AM   #4
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Location: US Pacific Northwest

Agreed. I also think the story looks promising, but until you can edit it to separate the paragraphs, it's too hard for me to follow. Unfortunately, BBS's don't tend to handle indented-text blocks (as stories are traditionally written in) very well, so most fanfic posters here and elsewhere separate each paragraph with a line of empty text for ease-of-reading.
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Old April 17 2012, 06:27 AM   #5
Pony Horton
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Thanks! You're right, and I'll get right to it.
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Old April 18 2012, 03:21 AM   #6
Cobalt Frost
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Location: seduced by The Coolness in Phineas & Ferb's backyard

Much better, and extremely enjoyable! A perfect follow-up to the TNG episodes, not to mention you really captured the characters' voices. And I loved the references to other time travellers. You forgot the one who travels in a peculiar blue box though The editing made a great difference, and I really liked the piece.
Damn the resonance cannons, full speed ahead!
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Old April 18 2012, 06:28 AM   #7
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That was fantastic!

You nailed the 'voices' of the various characters, including Clemens himself. The story had a strong sense of poignancy, as the people involved were faced with their own mortality, as well as Clemens having his understanding of the universe upended.

Guinan herself was clearly and accurately portrayed, and conveyed the appropriate amounts of world-weariness, wisdom, and humor we've come to expect from her.

Damn fine work.
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Old April 18 2012, 02:11 PM   #8
The Badger
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A very well written character piece, with believable dialogue. Whilst reading it I could hear the actors saying the lines, always a good sign.

The references to the other time travellers did break the fourth wall somewhat, but it made for an interesting and humorous conclusion so I don't mind.

Overall, a good read.
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