Author: Alan Decker
STAR TRAKS: THE TRAKS FILES
“Samantha Dallas and the Smudge of England”
FEDERATION DATA REPOSITORY MEMORY ALPHA PLANETARY CARTOGRAPHY DIVISION
Of all the duty stations Technician Ronald Brady had been assigned to during his eight years with Starfleet, Memory Alpha was far and away the best. His “job” consisted solely of sitting in the Planetary Cartography data center eight hours a day just in case one of the computers should indicate a problem with or non-receipt of an incoming data stream from one the various mapping satellites positioned over the worlds of the Federation, which left Brady plenty of time to pursue his favorite pastimes of reading, surfing the Federnet, and, last but certainly not least, sleeping.
Technically, no one really needed to be in the data center. Automated systems were more than capable of forwarding an alert to Dr. T’vel, the head of Planetary Cartography, or one of her assistants, but Starfleet had to put Brady somewhere. Starfleet Academy was able to weed out most of the riff-raff who had no business being in Starfleet, but there was little that could be done about the people who just enlisted. Fortunately, most of the enlisted were dedicated to the Federation and Starfleet, but occasionally someone like Brady came along, who really just signed up because he had nothing better to do with his life.
The gung-ho, but eccentric or incompetent could be dumped onto one of the “special” ships designated for such personnel, but the truly lazy, such as Brady, just had to be stashed somewhere until they, hopefully, decided to go to something else with their lives.
Brady wasn’t going anywhere. Why should he? Sure no one was really required to work on Earth, but you tended to get a lot of nasty glares from the productive if you just sat around all the time. On Memory Alpha, he could sit around and actually be doing his job. Then, when he went home to visit, everyone admired the fact that he’d dedicated himself to serving the Federation. What a deal!
Technician Brady spun around in his chair a couple of times, trying to wake himself up. If he took his morning nap too early, it would completely throw off his schedule for the day. He’d be ready for his afternoon nap at lunch, and that wouldn’t do anybody any good.
Finally, he stopped the chair and pushed it with a quick burst of energy from his legs, sending him rolling across the floor of the computer filled lab over to his favorite console: the monitor receiving data from the Earth satellites. It was Thursday, which meant the latest Earth update should be coming in to take the place of last week’s scans, which would be archived. By this afternoon, new maps of the entire planet would be available across the Federation.
“Computer, display incoming feed for Console Baker Baker Fifty-six,” he called out. An instant later, the blank monitor on console BB56, the Earth console, flared to life, showing an incomprehensible barrage of quickly flickering images. “Slow it down. One image every five seconds.”
The computer obeyed, giving Brady a much slower slide show as the Earth data continued to stream into the Memory Alpha databanks.
Brady rubbed his eyes as one spectacularly blurry image filled the screen. The blurring didn’t go away. That could mean a problem with the satellite lens, which could mean having to throw out this entire data stream, which could mean a headache for him that he didn’t want if T’vel found out about it before Brady made a report. The last thing he needed was T’vel to start checking up on him constantly to see if he was doing his job. Like it or not, he was going to have to look into this problem.
The next image flashed up, completely clear. Maybe it was a fluke. “Computer, bring up previous image and hold.” The blurred image returned. Brady looked at the image code. He’d picked up enough during his time in Planetary Cartography to know that this was one of the mid-range scans, showing about a kilometer squared. “Computer, where on Earth is this?”
“No. Just in general. What region?”
“Show me the images of the regions immediately surrounding this one.” A succession of eight images passed by on the screen. For the most part, they were clear; although, some contained a bit of blurriness confined to a corner or side section of the image.
“Computer, display the scan of this region from the…” What was that code again? Oh yeah. “MHR series.”
The image shifted, showing a five kilometer square section of terrain consisting most of grassy fields and thick forests. Smack dab in the middle of the image sat a large blurred patch.
“Show me the same image from last week.”
The blur was still there.
“Same image from last year.”
The blur was still there.
“Ten years ago.”
The blur was still there.
“What the hell?”
THREE DAYS LATER -
“It’s dreary, it’s cold, and I still don’t know what I’m doing here in the first place!” Starfleet Intelligence Agent Batyn groused, folding his scaly arms over each other to accent his displeasure at being dragged out to the middle of nowhere. He stood just off of the ramp of the Runabout Pee Dee, which was currently parked in the middle of a grassy field on Earth.
His partner, Agent Samantha Dallas, stepped down the ramp pulling a padd out of her shoulder pack, which she shoved into the Antidean’s hand. “THIS is why we’re here.”
Batyn looked at the image on the padd screen. “It’s a smudge.”
“More of a blur really.”
“It’s a smudge,” he repeated. “You brought me to…where are we again?”
“You brought me all the way to England over a smudge? No wonder you didn’t explain anything on the way here.”
Dallas pointed at the image. “We’re standing right on the spot of that blur.”
“Whatever! The point is that we’re here!”
“That’s a point? I don’t get it,” Batyn said.
“Look at this,” Dallas said, flashing more smudged images on the padd. “This is from last month…last year…ten years ago…one hundred years ago…four hundred years ago! We haven’t been able to get a clear picture of this one patch of England in the entire history of satellite imaging.”
Batyn blinked his eye membranes. “So, in short, you dragged me out here over a smudge.”
“Doesn’t this intrigue you at all? This is a centuries-old mystery.”
“That went unnoticed until now, so it obviously can’t be all that important.” Batyn sighed. “Which is obviously why they sent us.”
“This is MY home planet, Batyn. And if there’s a smudge…”
“So you agree it’s a smudge then.”
“Blur! I meant blur!”
“Sure you did.”
“Dammit, Batyn! If my planet is blurred, I want to know why!”
“Fine,” Batyn said, holding up his hands in defeat. “What could cause cameras positioned several kilometers up to be blurred for four hundred years, oh great truth-seeker?”
“I have no idea. Perhaps…” She trailed off, then staggered back a step. “Unnnh. I’m not feeling so good.”
Batyn was about to criticize her weak human constitution when he suddenly got queasy himself. If he wasn’t basically a humanoid fish and immune to such things, he would have thought the sensation was a bit like seasickness.
“Could be…radiation,” Dallas gasped, pointing at the tricorder in Batyn’s pocket. He was about to pull it out when, rather unexpectedly, a large black vortex opened right in front of them and sucked in the two agents, leaving the empty runabout as the only sign that anyone had ever been there.
Several incredibly disorienting seconds later, Dallas and Batyn were unceremoniously tossed onto a grassy patch of ground. Realizing that she was no longer spinning and tumbling through nothingness, Dallas cautiously opened her eyes to see that she was, indeed, in the grass. But it was now nighttime.
A soft moan beside her told Dallas that Batyn had been deposited nearby. The next order of business was to get up and figure out just what the hell had happened to them.
Suddenly, a boy’s voice let her know that they were not alone. “Who are they?” the voice asked, sounding slightly panicked.
Dallas found the energy to move her head and looked up. Three black robe clad human children, two boys and a girl probably in their early to mid teens, stood before her gawking. The lead boy, with a mop of disheveled black hair and glasses (Glasses of all things!) looked at the stick in his hand he had been pointing in the general direction of Dallas and Batyn.
“Was that supposed to happen?” he asked, turning to the long-haired girl beside him.
The girl looked down at the book in her hands, scanning quickly, then flipped a page, then another. “It doesn’t say anything about transporting other people.”
“Or mermen,” the third child, a boy with flaming red hair, said, peering curiously at Batyn, who had also managed to get himself moving again.
Dallas pulled herself up to a standing position as Batyn did the same. She was about tap her commbadge to call the Pee Dee when she was struck silent by a massive building a short ways away. It was a castle of some sort, and it definitely hadn’t been anywhere around the area where Dallas and Batyn had landed the Pee Dee.
Batyn, who was far less impressed with the castle, started tapping his commbadge.
“Batyn to Pee Dee.” No response. The commbadge didn’t even give its usual “something wrong” strangled chirp. It was just dead. He pulled out his tricorder and quickly flipped it open. Nothing. No power whatsoever. “That’s just wonderful,” he said, slamming it shut again. “These kids better have a comm system around.”
Batyn had a point. The sooner he and Dallas could find an adult and get back in touch with Starfleet the better. She turned her attention back to the children, who had instinctively taken a step back when Dallas and Batyn got to their feet, but, to their credit, they hadn’t run away. They just stared back, as though studying her.
“Hello, there,” Dallas said, forcing a smile. She didn’t run into a lot of children in her line of work and generally preferred it that way. “My name’s Agent Dallas. I’m with Starfleet, and I really need to get in touch with someone at my headquarters. Are any of your parents around?”
The three kids exchanged horrified glances.
“Oh no. No no no,” the red headed boy said, putting his hands over his face.
“Calm down, Ron,” the boy in the glasses said unconvincingly. He looked at the girl. “Can we reverse this?”
“I’m looking,” she said, flipping pages quickly.
“Calm down, Harry?” Ron said. “We brought muggles onto school grounds! Forget expulsion! We’re going to be sent to Azkaban…or worse!”
“I can’t find anything,” the girl said, also sounding anxious.
“Try another book then, Hermione!” Ron said.
“We don’t have another book,” Harry said. “We’ve got to hide these two.”
“Now hold on a second, kids,” Dallas said. “Agent Batyn and I are the adults here, and we demand to see your parents.”
“This is a school. Our parents aren’t here,” Hermione shot back.
“If these are your parenting skills, I’m relieved you never reproduced,” Batyn said, drawing an angry glare from his partner.
“Hold on,” Hermione said, turning to Batyn. “If he’s a merman, how could she be a muggle?”
“I’m an Antidean, not a merman,” Batyn replied.
Hermione twisted her face in confusion. “Oh great,” Ron said. “A magical creature Hermione’s never heard of. What are we going to do?”
The three students exchanged another glance, quickly coming to the same conclusion.
Dallas only agreed to follow Harry, Ron, and Hermione after they assured her that this Hagrid was indeed an adult. But rather than taking her and Batyn to the castle, they quickly headed toward a small cottage at the edge of a dense forest, forcing the two Starfleet Intel Agents to run to keep up.
Harry pounded on the door urgently, which was quickly followed by a response from a booming male voice.
“Hang on. I’m comin’!”
A moment later, the door was opened by the largest man Dallas had ever seen. He was practically a mountain. His face was covered by a thick beard, but any sense of being imposing the figure may have had immediately evaporated into delight the moment he saw the students.
“Harry! Come to see ol’ Hagrid, have yeh?” Hagrid’s eyes locked on Batyn, completely passing by Dallas. “What is this?”
“You don’t know?” Ron asked, concerned.
“Can we come in?” Harry asked.
“I think yeh better and tell me what this is all ‘bout.”
Hagrid stepped aside, allowing the three students and two agents to enter the small, but cozy cabin.
“Mister Hagrid?” Agent Dallas said, stepping forward. “My name is Samantha Dallas. As I was telling your young friends, I’m with Starfleet. My partner and I need access to a comm unit as quickly as possible.”
The giant man looked at Harry confused. “We think she might be a muggle,” Harry said sheepishly. “But I don’t know what a Starfleet is.”
“Starfleet!” Dallas exclaimed. “The ones who go into space and protect this planet? Starfleet Academy? The Starship Enterprise? Is any of this ringing a bell?”
“Space!” Hagrid said with a loud laugh. “Yeh must be daft!”
“What about him then?” Dallas said, pointing at Batyn. “Does he look human to you?”
“Of course not. I know he’s not a merman, but he’s got ter be somethin’ of the like.” Hagrid started looking around his cluttered cabin. “Now where did I set my copy of ‘Fantastic Beasts’?”
“He’s an alien!” Dallas said. “Tell them, Batyn.”
“I’m an alien,” he said, somewhat bemused.
“You hear that? He’s from another planet.”
“Antide Three, to be exact,” Batyn said.
“Where did they come from?” Hagrid asked, turning back to Harry and the others.
“Well…” Harry shuffled his feet a bit. “We found a spellbook in the library, and we wanted to try one of them out. I cast it just like Hermione told me, then this black swirling thing opened in front of us and spat them out. That’s all we know.”
Ron and Hermione nodded their heads quickly in agreement.
“We’ve got to put them back wherever they came from,” Harry finished. “But we need to hide them here until we can figure out how to do it.”
Hagrid sighed a large sigh. “I don’t think it’s goin’ ter be that easy, Harry. If yeh were able to bring them here through the protections and all, yeh must have used some very powerful magic. Tryin’ again could do somethin’ even worse. We need ter get some help.”
“What sort of help?” Hermione said nervously.
“HIS help,” Hagrid said meaningfully.
“We’re doomed,” Ron said, putting his head back into his hands.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can,” Hagrid said, heading toward the door. “Keep them here until I get back.” He added with a nod to Dallas and Batyn, then exited the cabin.
“Keep us here?” Dallas said annoyed. “I don’t think so. Come on, Batyn. We’re getting out of here.” Harry, Ron, and Hermione immediately positioned themselves between Dallas and the door. Batyn, for his part, had made no effort to leave whatsoever. In fact, he plopped himself down into the nearest chair.
“We really need to wait for Hagrid,” Harry said. For the first time, Dallas noted that the boy had a strange scar on his forehead. It kind of looked like a drawing of a lightening bolt that had been etched into his skin.
“Then wait without me,” Dallas said, taking another step forward. The three children all pulled sticks out of their black robes and pointed them at Dallas.
“We’ll use these if we have to,” Hermione said.
Dallas scoffed. “Oh please.” She pulled her hand phaser out of her pocket. “Does the word phaser mean anything to you?”
The students looked at each other. “Um…no,” Ron said.
“It’s about to,” Dallas said, aiming the phaser at Harry.
“Expelliarmus!” Harry cried. Dallas had no idea how, but suddenly her phaser went flying out of her hand, landing squarely in Batyn’s lap. If anything, that just made Dallas more annoyed. She was a highly trained Starfleet Intel agent. Three kids were not going to prevent her from doing anything.
“Move or prepare to be moved,” she said, charging forward with every intention of knocking the three youngsters away from the door by force if necessary. She didn’t really approve of being physical with children, but these stick-wielding weirdos and their mutant friend were asking for it.
“Sorry about this,” Ron said, leveling his stick at Dallas.
“I’m not,” Hermione said.
“Stupefy!” they said in unison.
For the briefest instant, Dallas said the ends of their sticks begin to glow, then something shut her down completely, as though she had a power switch that had just been turned off.
Dallas came to just as suddenly as she went out. Her eyes shot open, and she found herself looking up at the face of an ancient man with a long white beard.
“Let me help yeh up,” Hagrid’s voice said from behind her, then lifted her to her feet as though she weighed nothing. Dallas barely noticed. She wasn’t able to take her eyes off the old man or his pointy hat.
“I trust you are unharmed,” he said warmly.
Dallas nodded numbly.
“Good. My name is Albus Dumbledore. I’m the headmaster here at Hogwarts.”
“Hogwarts?” Dallas asked confused.
“It’s the name of the school,” Batyn said from the chair in which he’d planted himself. “If you’d talked to Harry, Ron, and Hermione instead of trying to kill them, you’d know that.”
“Can it, fish-boy,” Dallas snapped.
“Ah yes,” Dumbledore said. “You have already met Mister Rubeus Hagrid, our Gamekeeper, Mister Harry Potter, Miss Hermione Granger, who will be rejoining us shortly, and Mister Ron Weasley.” Harry and Ron, who were now seated at Hagrid’s table looking either frightened or nauseous, perhaps a bit of both.
Hermione dashed in a moment later carrying a hairbrush, which she quickly handed to Dumbledore, then joined Ron and Harry at the table.
“Excellent,” Dumbledore said. “Now that everyone is here and conscious, let’s see if we can’t sort all of this out. Would you please begin, Mister Potter?”
“Yes, sir,” Harry said nervously. “Well…you see…with so few people here since it’s Spring Break and all, we got bored and got a book out of the library for some research.”
“From the restricted section, I gather,” Dumbledore said. This was not said disapprovingly, but simply as a fact.
“Yes, sir,” Hermione admitted.
“We found a spell that looked interesting,” Harry continued. “Temporus…”
Dumbledore nodded. “Ah…I see. You thought you could extend Spring Break a few more days by going back in time.”
“Yes, sir,” Harry said even more sheepishly. “We thought we could dodge our other selves until we caught up with the point when they decided to go back a few days. But when we tried the spell, this woman and Mister Batyn landed here instead.”
Dumbledore now turned his attention to Dallas and Batyn. “Which brings us to you. I’m sure your arrival here was disconcerting; however, it is even more so for us. Hogwarts is a specialized institution, and, to be frank…” He looked directly at Dallas. “…people such as you are not supposed to know about it. We have protections against such things. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Why don’t you explain who you are and when you are from?”
“Agent Samantha Dallas. And this is my partner Agent Batyn. We’re with Starfleet.”
The old man cocked his head. “I’m afraid I’m not familiar with that particular organization, but I don’t have much time to track everything you muggles are doing now.”
“This is unbelievable,” Dallas said exasperated. “Wake up and join the 24th century!”
“Twenty-fourth!” Harry, Ron, and Hermione exclaimed.
“Oh dear,” Dumbledore said, taking off his pointy hat for a moment and running a hand through his white hair. “I suppose that answers the when…and it would explain how Mister Batyn could be an alien.”
“Yeh’re not serious!” Hagrid said.
“Quite so. Mister Potter, it appears that your Temporus incantation was not only misdirected but also a tad overpowered.”
“The 24th century,” Harry repeated, stunned.
“Wait,” Dallas said. “When is this?”
“The late 20th century,” Dumbledore replied. “But don’t worry. We’ll find a way to send you home. Can you tell me what happened just before you were brought here?”
“We were chasing a smudge,” Batyn said.
“Blur!” Dallas insisted. She pulled her padd out of her shoulder pack and activated it. It sputtered for a moment, then died. Dallas let out an exasperated sigh, then put the non- functional padd down on the table.
“You’ll find that muggle technology does not work on the grounds of Hogwarts,” Dumbledore said.
“No offense, sir, but what the hell is a muggle?” Dallas said. “I’ve been called it constantly since we got here!”
“Simply a person who is not magically inclined.”
“Sure,” Dallas said, skeptically.
“How else would you explain three teenagers incapacitating you?” Dumbledore asked.
“They have magic wands,” Batyn said, completely unfazed, drawing yet another angry glare from his partner.
“Please continue with your story,” Dumbledore said, gesturing to Dallas.
“Okay. The Planetary Cartography Division noticed that a small section of England has been blurry…”
“Smudged,” Batyn interjected.
“BLURRY on our satellite picture for years. In fact, as far as we can tell, the blur goes as far back as we have satellite data.”
Dumbledore smiled. “That would be Hogwarts. It’s nice to know that we’re still around in four hundred years, not that I had any doubts. Our muggle protections prevent your satellites, or anything else for that matter, from photographing us.”
“Well, the jig is…er…will be up,” Dallas said. “Batyn and I were sent to investigate, and we would have found this place.”
“Not to contradict you, Ms. Dallas, but if it had not been for Mister Potter’s miscast incantation, you and your partner would have suddenly found yourselves remembering something else that you urgently needed to do. It is part of our protection.”
Dallas shook her head. “None of this matters. Just send Batyn and I back to our runabout, and we’ll leave it at that.”
“Believe me, I intend to do just that. However, properly preparing and targeting such a spell requires time, which means that you will have to remain here.”
“For how long?” Dallas snapped.
“A day should suffice. Hagrid’s cabin is a bit cramped, but I think he can find room for Mister Batyn.”
“I’m just fine here,” Batyn said, leaning back in the chair. “Unless you have a big tank somewhere I could use.”
“We have a lake,” Hagrid offered.
“I’ll stay here,” Batyn said with a shudder.
“You may stay with Miss Granger,” Dumbledore said to Dallas. “But we can’t have you roaming about Hogwarts in your current condition.”
“You are an adult muggle, which will draw unwanted attention. No one is to know that you are here. The fact that a muggle has managed to gain entry to Hogwarts would raise many eyebrows that do not need to be raised. We’re fortunate that this is Spring Break, so fewer people are about. It also makes it far easier to disguise you.”
“Disguise me? How?”
Dumbledore pulled a vial of liquid and the hairbrush Hermione had given him earlier out of his robes. “Polyjuice.”
“Polyjuice.” Dumbledore picked a hair out of the hairbrush and dropped it in the liquid. “Once you drink this, you will take on the appearance of one of our students for precisely one hour. That should give you sufficient time to reach Miss Granger’s room.” He looked over at Hermione. “I trust a bed is available in your room.”
“Yes. My roommates went home for Spring Break.”
“And whose hairbrush is this?”
“Parvati Patil’s. It was the only one I could find quickly.”
“That will be fine,” Dumbledore, swirling the slightly bubbling liquid. “Here you are then.” He handed the vial to Dallas. “Down the hatch, as it were.”
Dallas looked at the vial for a few moments, unsure whether she should follow Dumbledore’s directive. She’d seen some weird things since teaming up with Batyn, but magic? That was stretching it a bit.
On the other hand, she couldn’t begin to explain how she and Batyn had gotten to Hogwarts in the first place, why their equipment wouldn’t work, or, most annoyingly, how she’d been zapped unconscious by a stick.
Dallas shrugged and tossed the liquid to the back of her throat, then quickly swallowed, trying not to taste it. She waited.
“I don’t feel any different,” she said finally, then clapped her hands quickly over her mouth. That wasn’t her voice. And her sleeves were a lot longer than they’d been a few seconds earlier. She pulled her hands out of the sleeves. Those weren’t her hands.
“This is a good look for you,” Batyn remarked.
“We’ll see to it that you are kept supplied with polyjuice during the day tomorrow,” Dumbledore said. “You’d best get Agent Dallas back to Gryffindor,” he added, gesturing to the students. They quickly got up from the table and led Dallas out of the cabin and across the grounds toward the castle.
“Wait. What’s a Gryffindor?” she asked, desperately trying to keep from getting tangled up in her pants legs, which were now a few inches too long, as she chased after Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
“It’s our house,” Ron explained. “Every student at Hogwarts lives in one of the four houses. The Sorting Hat assigns first years to a house as soon as they arrive.”
“It’s a talking hat,” Harry said. “Don’t worry, Agent Dallas. I thought it was all strange when I first arrived, too, but now it’s perfectly normal.”
“I don’t see that EVER happening,” Dallas said as the group reached the doors of the castle and slipped inside.
In the dark, Dallas was able to see very little of Hogwarts. She could tell that the entrance hall was absolutely enormous and that the main staircase in the hall was made from marble. After that, she was quickly reduced to hanging onto Hermione’s robe in the dark as the foursome made their way through the corridors and up the stairways of the school. Finally, on the seventh floor, Harry and the others led Dallas up to a painting of rather portly woman wearing a pink dress.
Dallas was about to ask why they were standing there when the woman in the painting moved.
“What? Who’s there?” the woman exclaimed.
Ron looked back at Dallas, then whispered something to the woman in the painting. A moment later, the painting swung open, allowing the group to crawl through a round hole into a fairly nice sized sitting room completely with tables, comfy-looking chairs, and a fireplace.
“Welcome to Gryffindor Tower,” Harry said. “Sorry about the secrecy back there, but only Gryffindors can know the password to give the Fat Lady.”
“It’s okay,” Dallas said numbly, looking around. This was a far cry from her spartan dorm from her days in Starfleet Intel training.
“We’re the only three Gryffindors who stayed for Spring Break, so you can move around freely in here even after the polyjuice wears off,” Hermione added. “But I’m going to bed.”
“Me too,” Ron said. “Tonight completely shot my nerves.”
Hermione headed toward one of the doors off of the sitting room. “Just come in here and use an empty bed whenever you get sleepy,” she said to Dallas.
Ron, meanwhile, headed through another door on the opposite side of the room, leaving Dallas and Harry alone.
“Don’t stay up just because of me,” Dallas said, sliding into one of the thick armchairs and letting out a sigh. That was one comfortable chair. “I may be up a while. It’s only 1300 as far as I’m concerned…and I don’t think I could sleep anyway.”
“It’s okay,” Harry said, sitting in a chair opposite her. “I don’t think I can sleep either right now.”
“It didn’t seem like your headmaster was mad, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“Nothing like that. It’s just…I’ve seen a lot of things since I started at Hogwarts, but I’ve never met anyone from the future.”
“You want to know what it’s like?” Dallas said.
“Well…let’s see. Earth is very nice. We don’t have crime or war or anything like that. If you’re hungry, you get food out of a replicator. We have spaceships, but most people on Earth get around using shuttles, hovertrams, or transporter beams…that’s where a device takes you apart down to your component molecules, then rebuilds you somewhere else.”
Harry grimaced. “Sounds painful.”
“It tingles a little, but that’s all.”
“So what do you do exactly?”
Dallas shifted a little in her chair. “Um…Agent Batyn and I…well…we work for a group called Starfleet. We protect the Federation…our government. We have a couple hundred member planets. Anyway, we protect the Federation from threats. Batyn and I work for an intelligence group, and we investigate strange occurrences that could be potentially dangerous.”
“Like smudges on photos?”
“Blurs…but yes,”Dallas said. “What about you? You’re studying to be a…”
“Gotcha. And what do you do with that once you graduate?”
“Well…there’s a lot of places I could go, I guess. I could work for the Ministry of Magic, maybe play Quidditch professionally.” Harry saw the look of confusion on Dallas’ face. “It’d take too long to explain, but it involves flying on broomsticks.”
Harry thought for a moment. “Or I guess I could teach here one day.” He started laughing. “Now that would be something.”
Back in Hagrid’s cabin, Agent Batyn settled deeper into the armchair he’d picked for the night. Hagrid had offered to find him a cot or something, but Batyn was fine with the chair. It was an interesting change from floating in a tank of water. He had just about drifted off to sleep when Hagrid’s spoke up from his bed.
“Yes?” Batyn replied tiredly.
“Yeh’re an alien, right?”
“Are all aliens…fishy?”
“I’ve seen everything from snarling lizard-bug things to rocks that can think and move to singing globs of ooze. Then there’s the mind controlling cockroaches…planet-eating amoebas…vampire clouds…things that will suck the salt right out of your body leaving you as this horrible, desiccated shell of a man!” Batyn stopped. “There’s more, but I don’t want to scare you. Good night, Hagrid.”
“G’night,” Hagrid replied. But he didn’t think he was going to be sleeping again for a long LONG time.
Unnoticed by either man, Dallas’ padd, which was still laying face down on the table, began to flicker. With each passing moment, the power stayed on longer and longer and longer and…
Agent Dallas spent most of the next morning cooped up in the Gryffindor Tower, not that cooped up really fit the situation. It was more than enough room for her, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but Dallas was anxious to get out and see Hogwarts in the daytime.
It seemed, however, that Dumbledore was far too busy studying Harry’s wand, which he’d borrowed the night before in order to reverse the Temporus spell, to bother with sending a new dose of polyjuice for Dallas. Harry headed out of the tower to go see Dumbledore and also round up some breakfast from what he described as “the House Elves.”
In the meantime, Hermione and Ron kept Dallas entertained with some of the spells that they’d learned during their time at Hogwarts. The light show wasn’t much better than some of the acts Dallas had seen on Bransonis, but when they got to some of the more interesting hexes and such (which they quickly reversed), things got interesting. With a single word, Hermione had been able to cause Dallas’ front teeth to grow to the point that they were almost touching the ground, then Ron hit her with a Cheering Charm that made her so happy that she didn’t care that she could now trip over her teeth.
Finally, after fixing Dallas’ teeth and calming down her giddiness, Hermione aimed her wand at Dallas and stated “Impervius.” She then picked up a glass of water and tossed its contents at Dallas. The water seemed to hit an invisible barrier around Dallas and drip to the ground, leaving the agent completely dry.
“That’s amazing!” Dallas exclaimed.
“Yeah, but it only works with water,” Ron said.
“Ohhh,” Dallas said deflated. So much for her vision of magically protected Starfleet Officers wiping out the Borg.
Harry returned a few minutes later, carrying a large tray full of steaming food, which Dallas was more than happy to take off of his hands. “Dumbledore only had enough polyjuice left for three more hours,” Harry said as the group sat down to eat. “He wants you to save one dose for tonight, but that means we have two hours. It’s not a lot of time, but is there anything you really want to see?”
Dallas thought back to the conversation she had with Harry the night before as he described his life and his time at Hogwarts to her. One thing kept pushing itself to the front of her mind.
“Flying broomsticks,” she mumbled through a mouth-full of exquisite sausage.
Harry smiled. “I think we can arrange that.”
After they finished eating, Dallas tossed down another dose of polyjuice, then slipped into some clothes that Hermione let her borrow.
“Wait!” Harry called as the group started to head out of the Tower. “Let me get my Firebolt!” He dashed back to his room.
“What’s a Firebolt?” Dallas asked.
“Only the fastest, most maneuverable broomstick ever created,” Ron said. “Harry was great at Quidditch before he got the Firebolt, but now he’s unstoppable!”
“Here’s the unstoppable one now,” Hermione remarked as Harry returned carrying what indeed appeared to be a fairly average broomstick.
But outside on the Quidditch field a short time later, Agent Dallas saw that the Firebolt was anything but ordinary. Harry held his broomstick up beside him, then let it go. Instead of falling to the ground, the Firebolt hovered in mid-air. Harry climbed onto the broom, then in an instant zipped away at an astounding rate.
“Zero to 150 miles per hour in ten seconds,” Ron said from beside her. Harry, meanwhile, performed several graceful turns and loops, then sent the Firebolt into a steep dive, pulling up mere inches from the ground and sailing up again until Dallas lost him in the glare of the sun. Almost instantly, he sped up beside her from behind and came to a stop.
“What do you think?” Harry asked, beaming.
Dallas shook her head and laughed. “Amazing. I don’t think we even have anything that can do that in the 24th century. Of course, we also don’t have brooms anymore.”
“Then how do wizards play Quidditch?” Ron asked.
“I’m sure they still have brooms somewhere,” Hermione said. “The muggles just don’t know about them.”
“But somehow we get by,” Dallas said sarcastically.
“Do you want to get on?” Harry asked, scooting forward so that there was enough room for Dallas.
Dallas eyed the broom for a moment. She knew she should refuse. The last thing she needed to be doing was risking her neck flying around on a stick of wood with some teenager.
She climbed on anyway.
Harry eased the broom forward as Dallas held on, trying to get some idea as to how he was controlling the thing. It almost seemed to be telepathic. She quickly stopped caring about how Harry was doing it as he took the broomstick up higher, above the treeline, giving Dallas a birds-eye view of the countryside.
“That’s Hogsmeade over there,” Harry said, pointing to a small village in the distance. “We get to go there on weekends sometimes.”
“Can we go faster?”
“Sure thing,” Harry said. The Firebolt shot forward, sending wind whipping through Dallas’ hair. The feeling was somehow very soothing. She’d spent most of her life on space stations or in the runabout. Sure, her assignments took her to planets occasionally, but Dallas couldn’t remember ever just sitting back and feeling the sun on her face and the wind zipping by. She could have stayed on the broom for hours.
Unfortunately, her time was up all too soon. Harry brought the Firebolt to a stop by Ron and Hermione, then the group raced back into the castle, making it through the Fat Lady’s painting and into the Gryffindor Tower with only moments to spare before Dallas returned to her normal form.
“I’d better change,” she gasped as Hermione’s clothes struggled to stay together on a woman who was now far too tall and developed to be wearing them.
“Please,” Hermione said unhappily, gesturing for Dallas to head back into the bedroom.
Soon after night fell, Dumbledore sent for Dallas and the others. The summons itself almost scared Dallas to death. The fireplace suddenly flared to life, sending flames billowing upward. A moment later, Dumbledore’s head appeared in the flames, rather nonchalantly requesting their presence down at Hagrid’s cabin.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione seemed completely unfazed by the flame-o-gram or whatever it was, so Dallas quickly tried to hide her shock and alarm. She may have been a “muggle,” but she didn’t have to act like a complete rube…even if these were the most amazing things she’d ever seen in her life.
She dumped the last dose of polyjuice down her throat and, after rolling up her pants and sleeves, followed the others back out of the hole.
They reached Hargid’s just as Dumbledore, Hagrid, and an annoyed-looking Batyn exited the cabin. “So how was your day?” Dallas asked smugly.
“I fed things,” Batyn muttered.
“What kind of things?”
“He’s got a way with the animals,” Hagrid said proudly.
“Only because I couldn’t GET away from the animals,” Batyn said.
“You’ll be away soon enough, Mister Batyn,” Dumbledore said. “I have carefully studied Mister Potter’s wand and am fairly certain that I will be able to return you both to your time and place of origin.”
“Not soon enough,” Batyn said.
“Do you have all of your belongings?” Dumbledore asked.
“I didn’t come with much,” Batyn said. “What about you, Dallas?”
“Did you get the padd?”
“Hang on,” Batyn said, rolling his bulging eyes tiredly then trudging back into Hagrid’s cabin.
Hagrid laughed. “He’s puttin’ on quite a show for yeh. Earlier, you couldn’t get him away from Fang.”
“That’s because Fang was trying to eat my leg,” Batyn groused, walking back out with the padd.
“I guess Fang likes seafood,” Dallas said, taking the padd away from Batyn. She flipped it over and realized that it had been left on. She moved to turn off the image of the blurred satellite image, then stopped.
“I thought muggle technology wouldn’t work at Hogwarts,” she said confused.
“It won’t,” Dumbledore replied.
“Then explain this,” she said, turning the padd to face the aged wizard.
“Wait,” Hermione said. “Didn’t somebody write once that a significantly advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic? Maybe this is proof.”
“Indistinguishable to a muggle perhaps, but not to magic,” Dumbledore said, thoughtfully. “I honestly don’t know what to make of it. I’ll have to look into the matter once Agent Dallas and Agent Batyn are home. Step over there if you would.” Dumbledore gestured to a spot several feet away.
“Like I said, the sooner the better,” Batyn said.
Dallas turned to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. This wasn’t the sort of thing she was good at. Normally, she blew into an area, did her job, then left. Goodbyes really weren’t a part of it. But she felt she needed to say something.
“Thanks…this has been interesting.” She thought back to the ride on the Firebolt and smiled. “Who am I kidding? It’s been amazing!”
“I’m glad somebody enjoyed this fiasco,” Batyn muttered.
Dumbledore pulled out his own wand and pointed it at the two agents. “Temporus!” he cried. A blast of energy seared out of his wand toward Dallas and Batyn…
…then fizzled out into nothingness as soon as it reached them.
From Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Hagrid’s gasping and gaping mouths, Dallas gathered that this was not the way things were supposed to happen. Dumbledore actually looked more than a bit surprised himself.
“I do not understand that at all,” he said, looking at his wand.
Batyn whipped out his tricorder.
“What good is that going to do?” Dallas demanded.
“Our technology works, then magic fails. I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Batyn replied. The tricorder hummed to life, scanning the area as Hagrid and the students rushed over to see the muggle technology in action.
“Hmmm…” Batyn said.
“What is it?” Dallas asked.
“I can’t see anythin’ but a bunch of squiggles,” Hagrid said.
“For some reason, I can’t scan out more than a couple of centimeters beyond the tricorder. Reality just seems to stop.”
Dallas’ frowned in confusion.
“I still don’t understand how it could work at all here,” Hermione said. “The anti-muggle protection should prevent it.”
“Unless…we’ve created a pocket of muggle inside Hogwarts,” Dallas said.
“A pocket of muggle?” Batyn scoffed.
“We were brought here unexpectedly by magical means, so maybe since our equipment didn’t go through the anti-muggle protections normally or in a controlled manner, the spell was counteracted. Or maybe the spell is having problems with our future technology. Or maybe…”
“We get the point,” Batyn said. “But if you’re right, what do we do? Leave everything here? Can we say Prime Directive Violation?”
“That may not be necessary,” Dumbledore said. “Harry, there is a wardrobe inside my chamber. Open it and look for a burgundy cloth bag on the top shelf. Bring it back as fast as you can.”
“Yes, sir,” Harry said. He ran off as fast as he could, returning with the bag in question inside of ten minutes.
“Place your devices in here,” Dumbledore said, handing Dallas the bag. She placed her shoulder pack inside it as well as her hand phaser and commbadge. Batyn did the same with his equipment, then drew the bag’s drawstring closed. “This bag is enchanted, which will hopefully resolve this ‘muggle pocket.’ We do have one minor issue, though.”
“The bag,” Harry said.
“Precisely. We cannot allow a magical item to remain in the hands of muggles, no matter what century they’re from.”
“I’ll go with them,” Harry said. “You could pull me back, couldn’t you?”
Dumbledore smiled. “Of course. Two minutes after you depart…no matter where you are, I’ll bring you home.” He glanced at Dallas as he said these last words, his eyes twinkling. She nodded, understanding.
Harry stepped over to join Dallas and Batyn. “Let’s go,” he said, his voice betraying a bit of nervousness.
Dumbledore once again pointed his wand. “Temporus!” Another blast of energy shot out of the wand, this time surrounding Dallas, Batyn and Harry. Dallas once again felt the queasiness in her stomach. Less than a second later, a black vortex opened up behind them, sucking all three inside.
After another disorienting trip through time, Dallas and Batyn were plopped roughly onto another grassy field. Harry fell out of the vortex a half-second later, landing on top of the agents.
“You humans are even heavy as children,” Batyn gasped.
“Get up,” Dallas said quickly, scrambling to her feet.
“What’s your hurry?” Batyn asked. Harry, meanwhile, had stood up and was staring, open-mouthed, at the Runabout Pee Dee.
“Is that a spaceship?” he asked.
“Yes. And we’ve got less than two minutes,” Dallas said, grabbing Harry by the arm and dragging him up the ramp into the runabout. Batyn walked in after them as Dallas led Harry to the co- pilot’s seat, then sat down in the pilot’s seat herself and activated the engines.
“What the hell are we doing?” Batyn demanded, closing the hatch.
“Just empty that bag and give it to Harry,” Dallas said. The Pee Dee rose off of the grass as Batyn threw himself into the nearest empty chair. He was lucky he did. As soon as the runabout cleared the ground, Dallas pointed the craft almost straight up and fired the thrusters, pushing her, Harry, and Batyn back against their seats.
Dallas’ eyes shifted rapidly between the runabout controls and the countdown timer she’d activated. “Come on. Come on,” she chanted softly.
Finally, blue skies gave way to blackness as the runabout cleared the atmosphere and rose up into the space above Earth. Harry’s eyes widened at the scene before him. The massive mushroom-shaped Spacedock loomed ahead as several small craft and shuttles zipped back and forth between Earth, the Moon, Spacedock, and McKinley Station. The Spacedock bay doors slowly opened to allow a Galaxy-class starship to gracefully slip out into the void of space.
Harry just started for several moments, then finally spoke. “This is…” He smiled slightly. “Amazing.”
Dallas took the now-empty enchanted bag from Batyn and handed it to Harry. “I just wanted to return the favor,” she said. Harry opened his mouth to reply, but vanished in a swirl of black before he could speak.
“And that takes care of that,” Batyn said. “Except for the little matter of what we’re going to tell Planetary Cartography.”
“The truth,” Dallas replied. “The blur was caused by a spell.”
“Oh yeah. That will go over well,” Batyn said, getting up from his seat and heading toward the rear of the runabout.
“You need more magic in your life, Batyn.”
“I’ve had more than enough, thank you,” he called as he left the room.
Dallas switched the runabout to autopilot, closed her eyes, and leaned back in her chair, letting her mind drift back to the simple pleasure of riding a broomstick.
WITH APOLOGIES TO J.K. ROWLING…