Welcome to the Disclaimer Museum. Next stop, Star Trek. At this station, you can learn about the wonders of Star Trek being owned by Paramount and Viacom and CBS. We're not even sure how exactly that works, but they took Gene Roddenberry's creation and made it their own. Moving on to our next stop, we have Star Traks. Created by Alan Decker, this sprawling Internet phenomenon takes Gene Roddenberry's and warps it beyond recognition. In the far corner there, you'll see Brendan Chris's Star Traks: Silverado. Pay it no mind...we just can't get him to leave.

Author: Brendan Chris
Copyright: 2006

“You know, you really shouldn’t eat so fast. You’re going to give yourself indigestion,”

“Silence, you insipient witch!”

“You really should be grateful that I’m looking out for your well-being,” Sylvia said, “I wouldn’t want you to get an upset tummy in the middle of your evil plot,”

Lord Stalart, exiled ruler of Arcania, slammed his child-sized fork down on the miniature table his Delori servants had obtained for him.

“She’s right, you know,” Master Klendar said. Klendar had commanded the Arcanian warship Overseer during the mission to find Stalart. Their home planet, Akurex, had been ruled by Stalart and the Arcanians for decades. It had only been more recently that the Syntapans, inhabitants of the planet’s western continents, had wrestled control of their world from Stalarts dictatorial rule and imposed a democracy. Of course, the Arcanians were less than pleased to hear that their former ruler had been launched out into space in a tiny pod, and had despaired of ever finding him again. But several months ago they’d picked up a transmission from Stalart, in which he said he was being held captive aboard the Federation Starship Silverado and held in check by the conniving Sylvia, the ship’s artificial intelligence. Or that’s what he’d tried to say. An uncharted anomaly here, a garbled word there, and the Arcanians had dispatched the Overseer, one of their last remaining warships, to arrange for the kidnapping of Sylvia instead of the desired rescue mission. Still, it gave Stalart an opening to make his escape.

The bounty hunters they had hired had not only failed, they’d brought the fact that an outside alien force was trying to capture Sylvia to the attention of Section 31, the Federation’s dark shadow organization. Section 31 had launched its own campaign to capture Sylvia, though it was a low priority item and thus ‘outsourced’ to a freelance agent. But then Sylvia had unexpectedly left Silverado, finally giving Stalart the freedom to be in direct touch with the Arcanians for the first time in nearly two years!

Either way, the capture of Sylvia had been a spectacular failure. And Stalart, after being held prisoner by her, was not willing to leave Federation space without exacting his revenge.

But, just when everything looked bleak, luck had stuck! Klendar had stumbled upon Deloria II, a world that not only had a strange secret, but a strange secret that could mean the difference between victory and defeat for the Arcanians struggling to regain control of their world! And their accidental discovery by the Federation Starship Stallion and Sylvia made the combination of the strange planet and their ship the perfect bait to draw either Sylvia, the Silverado or both. Without Sylvia’s interference, Stalart had found it very easy to ensure that just the right information made it to Starfleet, making Silverado the logical choice to send to investigate.

“See, Luke?” Sylvia said, a hint of triumph in her voice, “Klendar agrees with me,”

“I am not Luke!” Stalart shouted, his vocalizer translating the anger he was feeling perfectly, “I am Lord Stalart of Arcania, and I am going to destroy you!”

“Sure sweetie,” Sylvia cooed, “To me, you’ll always be Noel’s little boy,”

“Do not speak to me of that woman!” Stalart snapped, “Her breasts may be firm and supple, but she is a vile, hateful being!”

“Yes, and you two got on so well,” Sylvia said.

“Where is that technician??” Stalart snapped, “Why aren’t you trying to break into this computer module? It is said that Sylvia has a brain. I wish to see it before I destroy her!”

“Actually, it’s a bio-neural gel-pack, cutie-pie,” Sylvia gently corrected.

Stalart gestered.

The Arcanian technician brough up his baby-sized jackhammer and started hammering away at the casing of Sylvia’s module. But the neutronium-reinforced casing held. The same way it had held against the sledgehammer, the cutting torch, the disruptor beam and that freight train. Neutronium was almost impossible to work with, incredibly hard to come by and as such was rarely used in any abundance. But it was also virtually indestructible. Stalart wasn’t sure just how Jeffery had managed, but the sometimes-bumbling engineer had made Sylvia’s module nearly impenetrable.

“You will do as I wish!” Stalart declared, standing over the small module as it was pummeled.

“Sorry, sweetie,” Sylvia’s voice crackled slightly with static due to minor damage to the speaker, “You know I don’t approve of world conquest,”

“Unhook her!” Stalart snapped, flailing his stubby arms in fury.

Klendar disconnected the cables connecting Sylvia to the Delori data network, his shoulders slumped in defeat.

Sylvia had quickly changed from being a mere trophy to becoming indispensable to his plans for escaping this planet. His Delori thugs, working for him in exchange for either weapons or precious metals easily produced by his ship’s replicator, were doing an excellent job of fermenting unrest and chaos in the Delori country of Dufarndan. Control of the country was hardly his end goal, however. Even control of the planet wouldn’t satisfy him. His people had studied the planet far longer than Starfleet had and knew perfectly well about the various temporal zones dividing the seven continents. What they didn’t know was what generated them. And that was the information they were most interested in. But with his ship damaged, Stalart couldn’t exactly search for the source. Well, he could, but flying a damaged ship in a search for unknown and potentially dangerous technology was foolhardy, bordering on the insane. So he was reduced to gaining control over as much of Dufarndan as he could. With the more advanced (relatively speaking) Delori nation taken care of, there’d be nothing to stop him from getting his hands on the planet’s temporal secret. His people, however, had been unable to penetrate the Delori defensive computer network sufficiently to make such a thing possible. Sylvia, however, had the capability to infiltrate the entire system, and thus gain full computer control over the Dufarndan and its entire military.

If only he could get the damn bitch to cooperate!

“I have a great recipe for a berry smoothy,” Sylvia offered, “That would go down easier into your little tummy. I don’t know where we’re going to get strawberries, though,”

“That does sound good,” Klendar said.

“Silence,” Stalart snapped “Resume the torture attempts!”

“Killjoy,” Sylvia sighed.


Dr. Noel Wowryk sat in the command chair on Silverado’s bridge, staring at the main viewscreen. The screen was functional, showing the bright, clear day outside. The sun was shining, the ocean was smooth and the Delori sky was a beautiful shade of blue. The only thing that kept it from being a perfect day was the fact that the saucer was sitting half-submerged in an ocean rather than flying through space.

On the screen, Dr. Wowryk watched as three small watercraft moved away from the saucer.

It had been just over a day since Stafford had made his decisions, sending Jall, Yanick and Jeffery to find a way to the stardrive section, presumably still in orbit of the planet. He’d also sent Noonan on his own to discover the secrets behind Delori’s mysterious seventh continent while he himself had taken on the task of leading the Hazardous Team in a mission to recover Sylvia and thwart the plans of Lord Stalart and his Arcanians.

“Why do I feel a little left out here?” Wowryk asked, drumming her fingers on the arm rest,”

“Because we are being left out,” T’Parief grumbled from Tactical. He’d been left in command of the saucer, but his tail just didn’t fit in the command chair. If Wowryk wanted the feeling of power (and to sit in a seat quite possibly soaked with Stafford’s sweat) then, in his opinion, all the power to her, “I am becoming used to it,”

“What do you mean?” Wowryk asked, “That whole thing with Slezar and K’Eleese was totally centered on you!”

“Yes, it was,” T’Parief acknowledged, “But the year prior, I was left in a Dreamland limbo while you and the Captain battled the Matrians in the Dreamland and Pye and Stern battled the Matrian fleet in the real world. Completely left out,”

“Hmm,” Wowryk mused, “I suppose I was the center of attention, wasn’t I?”

“Strange how that happens,” T’Parief mused, “Almost as though we each get our turn in the spotlight, so to speak,”

“Don’t get me started,” Pye grumbled from the helm console, “I haven’t gotten any attention since our first year aboard this ship!”

“Shut up and drive,” Wowryk said firmly. If she was going to be stuck on this half-ship, she sure wasn’t going to have the patience to put up with upstart wanna-bes.

“Right, drive,” Pye said, engaging the maneuvering thrusters, “Do you have any idea how this thing handles in the water? It’s like trying to ride a bike through quicksand!”


Yanick, Jeffery and Jall were in the first speedboat.

Jeffery and Jall had checked the cargo manifest of the saucer and found that in Cargo Bay 3 they had the parts to build four small watercraft. Officially, they were for covert operations on low-tech planets protected by the Prime Directive. Unofficially, Jeffery was convinced Stafford had them added to the manifest just in case he found a planet suitable for waterskiing and had promptly forgotten about them.

The boat had a primitive hydrogen fuel-cell engine and used an actual propeller to move it through the water, which Jeffery thought was laughable. Most decent civilizations had long-since discovered the secret of the magneto-hydrodynamic drive. Except for Earth, oddly enough. Though they had made a really neat movie based on it…something about some CIA agent chasing a submarine named the Red Octopus. Or the Bloody November. Or something like that.

But back to the topic at hand. The three small boats were moving at full speed through the calm ocean. Far behind them, the saucer looked like a tiny, metal island, very slowly plowing its way through the water. Trails of steam were rising from two points on the trailing edge where the maneuvering thrusters were firing with enough heat to vaporize the ocean water. The boats could cover more ground in an hour than the saucer could cover in a day, but they only needed to get the saucer far away enough from the temporal nexus for the transporters to function within the Stupid Zone.

“So what’s the plan again?” Yanick asked, twirling her blond hair around one finger.

“We had a plan?” Jall asked, scratching his head.

“Wow,” Jeffery sighed, “It’s like it’s contagious,”

“What’s contagious?” Yanick and Jall asked together.

“Aye, we have a plan,” Jeffery said, choosing to ignore the sudden Attack of the Blonds, “Thanks to the information Ah got from the Dufarndan data networks,”

“Wouldn’t it have been a good idea to give us a briefing before we left?” Jall asked, “You know, get us familiar with the plan objectives, maybe decide on a mission statement or something?”

“We could have picked team names!” Yanick giggled, “We could be ‘Jeffery’s Jaguars’! Or ‘Yanick’s Yaks’!”

“Or ‘Jall’s Genital Herpes’?” Jeffery muttered to himself.

“What climbed up your ass and died?” Jall aked.

Jeffery looked at the ‘Differently Oriented’ Operations Officer and wisely chose to hold his tongue. By which I mean he decided not to speak. Don’t go thinking sick things here!

“‘Jeffery’s Gentlemen!’” Yanick giggled, “Except I’m a girl!”

<This has to be Stafford’s idea of revenge,> Jeffery thought to himself, <I made just one too many comments on his command abilities, and now he wants me to see what it’s like>

“Oh, honey,” Jall was saying, holding one of Yanick’s dainty hands in his, “Didn’t you have a chance to do your nails while we were on the ship?”

“Don’t be silly,” Yanick said, “I was too busy waxing my thighs to even think about that!”

<This is why I spend so much time in Engineering,> Jeffery inwardly groaned.

“OK, listen up,” he said sharply, making sure the auto-pilot was turned on before he took his hands off the wheel. He pulled out a padd and pulled up the mission plan, “Look, several years ago the Dufarndan government decided it was time to start a more detailed investigation into just why they only had access to one continent on their planet. They launched a space program: the Dufarndan Organization for the Recovery of Knowledge though Spaceflight. The D.O.R.K.S built and designed three different classes of spacecraft: an unmanned probe, a one-man capsule and a three-man rocket.”

“I thought they didn’t have spaceflight,” Jall said, “That they were trapped in their temporal zones?”

“Aye, exactly,” Jeffery explained, “When they launched the probe, they remained in contact with it for only a few minutes after it reached orbit. After that they never heard from it again. Same thing with the one-man rocket. The poor bugger was never heard from again,”

“Were they destroyed trying pass through the temporal barrier?” Jall asked.

“Maybe,” Jeffery shrugged, “Or more likely they were sent flying off course when they tried to cross the barrier. Same thing with any kind of re-entry trajectory.”

“What does sex have to do with this?” Yanick wanted to know.

Jeffery looked at her blankly.

“He said ‘entry trajectory’,” Jall whispered, “Not ‘entry position’,”

“Oh, right,” Yanick sighed, “I keep getting those mixed up. Like when I told Chris I was taking the ship into the Delta-sixty-nine entry position in relation to the starbase,”

“He turned really red,” Jall laughed.

“What Ah’m, sayin’,” Jeffery cut back in, “Is that they never launched the third rocket! It’s still sitting out there on the launch pad while they decide whether to launch the damned thing or to dismantle it!”

“So, we’re going to steal it?”

“Aye,” Jeffery said, “We turn on the fuel pumps, fill ‘er up, light a match and blast ourselves into orbit. It’ll be fun! Like the Saturn-V ride at 17-Flags Resort back on Earth,”

“We’ve signed on to a mission where we have to ride a ball of exploding rocket fuel built by primitive, backwards aliens into orbit,” Jall said to Yanick.

They looked at Jeffery.


“Ahh, this is priceless,” Stafford said, holding a pair of electro-binoculars to his face, watching as a heated, all-out argument erupted on Jeffery’s boat.

“Sir?” Stern asked.

“Oh, I’m just enjoying the look on Simon’s face,” Stafford said, “This will teach the little bastard there’s more to command than just coming up with plans and ordering people around. By the way, somebody tell Simmons that if he doesn’t stop kicking my seatback I’m going to order him thrown overboard,”

“Aye sir,” Stern said. He promptly reached back and smacked Simmons upside the head.

“Nice reach, Lieutenant,” Stafford commented.

“Thank you, sir,”

“So what’s our plan?” Stafford asked.

Stern and Rengs exchanged glances.

“Our plan?” Stern asked.

“Maybe I should rephrase that,” Stafford said, “How do you think we should do this,”

“Respectfully, sir,” Stern said, “You’re the one in charge,”

“Respectfully,” Stafford repeated, “Huh. There’s something new. But seriously, this team has more experience in this kind of operations than any of the senior staff, which is why I wanted you on this assignment. The mission is to retrieve Sylvia and capture or kill Stalart. How can we do this?”

“Do we really want to kill him?” Marsden asked.

“I’d rather capture him myself,” Stafford said, “but you never know,”

“And we’re facing his crew of midgets along with whatever Delori thugs he has on his side,” Stern said thoughtfully, “All armed with energy weapons,”

“Yup,”

“And presumably they have sensor devices that will pick us up a mile away,”

“Maybe.”

“And we’re outnumbered?”

“I think so, yes,” Stafford nodded.

Stern exchanged glances with the rest of the team.

“Um, maybe give us a few minutes on this one,”


Many hours later, after night had fallen, the three boats approached the Delori coast, carefully using their tricorders to avoid the Dufarndan coast guard. Noonan split apart from the others, following the coastline in the opposite direction.

Of the three teams, his was the only solo mission. He was to cross the country of Dufarndan, which took up the entire continent contained in the Stupid Zone. Noonan preferred to think of it as the Computer-Age Zone, but of course he had been overruled.

He had immediately determined that of the entire crew, he alone could carry out the mission, which essentially involved crossing the entire planet in as little time as possible. It hadn’t been easy to convince Stafford to send him alone, but Stafford didn’t realize that his entire plan depended on him moving alone, with no mortals to slow him down.

He shut down the engines on his small speedboat and let it coast, then jumped out, landing knee-deep in water and soft mud. Noonan stepped onto shore and took a moment to get his bearings. He watched with interest as the boat slowly started drifting. He noted that the small boat was moving straight towards the distant saucer, though extremely slowly. Possibly another manifestation of the temporal barriers? Didn’t really matter, did it?

Bracing himself, Noonan prepared to bring one of his rarely used preternatural abilities into use. Stafford might have knowledge of some of his abilities, such as his ability to captivate and compel mortals, his exception eyesight and hearing and his ability to heal himself very rapidly. Life on a ship though had made many of his other talents unnecessary for the most part. His speed, for example. He began to move inland, running in mortal fashion to begin with. This was pleasant, he mused. A nice speed. One could easily enjoy the sights as they moved by. Of course, he could keep running long after the greatest mortal marathon runner had dropped from exhaustion.

Sadly though, this pace wasn’t what he needed. Bracing himself against what he knew to be a violation against nature, he began to move faster and faster. Soon the wind began to whistle in his ears as he picked up speed. The trees and bushes became a blur behind him. His feet moved so fast over the terrain he barely seemed to touch the ground.

Moving though the forest at impossible speed, he oriented himself towards the nearest city, and thus the nearest airport. It would be close to a thousand years yet before he would have the power to take to the air. Only a combination of his own natural speed during the night and 21st Century-style aircraft during the day would get him to his destination in the timeframe he had in mind.


“Are you sure this is the right city?” Yanick asked Jeffery.

“The tricorder says so,” Jeffery shrugged.

Using Jeffery’s tricorder, they’d retraced their steps until they were back in the same city in which Yanick, Jeffery and Stafford had posed as a married trio. The first time they’d visited, the city had been very pleasant, though as they’d just crash landed after abandoning their crashing ship they really hadn’t been in any mood to appreciate it. But the city had been vibrant and alive, with people coming and going on the streets, vendors selling local delicacies like ‘Rat-on-a-Stick’ or ‘Iced Cheese’. But the people had been prosperous and the city and been thriving.

Things had changed in the few days that they’d been away. The street vendors were gone, and those people who were on the street were hurrying on their way, spending no time chatting, shopping or doing any of the things relaxed people do. Some of them looked almost fearful, sneaking furtive glances over their shoulders and they hurried about their business.

“Place is creepy,” Jall commented.

“Aye,” Jeffery said, “Somethin’s not right,”

They continued walking towards the ground-car rental shop they’d used during their first visit to the city, back when Stafford, Yanick and Jeffery’s escape pod had crashed down in the forest nearby. As they walked down the sidewalk though, they started to notice that everybody else on the street was moving increasingly quickly in the opposite direction.

“Somethin’s not right,” Jeffery repeated.

They came to an intersection and turned right, finding themselves faced with a horrific spectacle:

Dozens of uniformed men were marching down the street, weapons clasped to their chests. As the three Starfleet officers watched in horror, several soldiers broke off from the main column, seizing any citizens who hadn’t had the good sense to get away and roughly interrogating them on their loyalties. Most were forced into handcuffs and dragged along with the soldiers, only a few were allowed to go on their way. One group of soldiers chased a terrified woman into a nearby building, breaking down the door seconds after she’d locked it behind her.

“We’ve gotta do something!” Jeffery cried, grabbing for the bag in which he was hiding his phaser.

Immediately, Jall pushed him back around the corner, reaching out with one arm to yank Yanick to safely.

“Don’t be silly,” Jall hissed, “There’s three of us and about three dozen of them,”

“But-“

They ducked as an energy blast ripped through the sky.

“Was that a disruptor blast?” Jeffery gasped.

“Ohh yeah,” Yanick said, “High powered too. Like the one my father had for duck hunting,”

“Stalart’s been busy,” Jall said.

“We knew he was trying to get a fight goin’,” Jeffery said, “He was givin’ weapons to criminals an’ thugs,”

“Looks like some of them were glad for the chance to play soldier,” Jall said grimly as Jeffery led them away from the rampaging group.

“But you always said you loved playing soldier,” Yanick said dreamily, “You said it was one of your favorite fetish games-“

“Ugh, for the love of God,” Jeffery groaned, “Look, we’re never gonna make the rental place now. We’re just gonna have to improvise.

“OK!” Jall said brightly. With that he grabbed a heavy chunk of stone off the ground, smashed the side window of a parked vehicle, unlocked it and opened the door.

“Hop in!” he called.

“Ah don’t think Grand Theft Auto was what Ah had in mind!” Jeffery protested loudly. There was a shout from down the street as he was heard by several of the soldiers. Jeffery and Yanick ducked as disruptor blasts shot overhead.

“OK, new plan,” Jeffery gasped, diving in the back seat, “We steal a car and let Yanick drive!”

“Why her?” Jall asked as he and Yanick quickly hot-wired the car.

“Because her driving is deadly,” Jeffery said, digging out his comm-badge, “And we’re gonna need every edge we can get!”


“Got it,” Stafford said, tapping his comm-badge and pulling it out of a pocket. He and the Hazardous Team, like the rest of the teams that had snuck into Dufarndan, had dressed in suitable attire. They’d left their boat in a small cove and had quickly made their way into the city. Now they were gathered in the corner of an abandoned warehouse, planning their attack, “Jeffery, try not to use phasers if you can help it. Better Stalart doesn’t know we’re here,”

“Damn,” Rengs swore, “I knew we forgot something!”

“What was that?” Stern asked.

“Guns! By the Prophets, who goes into a 21st-Centery era city without a gun?” Rengs fumed, “What an idiotic mistake,”

“Jeffery’s team is under attack from a group of Stalart’s thugs,” Stafford informed the rest, hiding his comm-badge away.

“Technically sir, they’re rebels,” Marsden said helpfully, “Since they’re trying to overthrow an established government,”

Dar’ugal nodded eagerly, then proceeded to make a series of gestures.

“Darg’s right,” Stern nodded, “Rebels might have advanced weapons, but the Delori military has them outnumbered. And they’re vulnerable: If we take out Stalart we’re taking out their leadership and their weapons supplier,”

Stafford stared at the group.

“Hold on,” he said, “Which of you does what? Remind me.”

“Well,” Stern said, “Rengs is our energy in energy weapons, Simmons has explosive munitions, Marsden is our hostage negotiator, Kreklor is hand-to-hand combat, I’m the sharpshooter and 2nd in command after Lt. Cmdr. T’Parief and Dar’ugal here is our expert in strategy and counter-strategy,”

“That’s what I thought,” Stafford frowned, “And who’s bright idea was it to give a mute being the strategist position? Doesn’t he need to be able to give detailed instructions and stuff?”

“Starfleet believes in equal opportunities for the differently-abled, sir,” Stern reminded him stiffly, “Oh, s**t, now you’ve gone and hurt his feelings!”

Dar’ugal was standing in the middle of the group, his weapon arm dangling limply to the ground, big tears filling his eyes.

“I’m sorry, Ensign!” Stafford said, gulping, “I didn’t mean…that was rude…I…s**t…”

“You’re going to have to give him a hug now,” Simmons said, exchanging glances with Stern, “It’s the only way to make him feel better,”

“What?” Stafford looked uncomfortable, “A hug? I’m really not the hugging type!”

Dar’ugal’s eyes were big and watery, his lip trembled.

“Oh fine,” Stafford grumbled, “If only so I don’t feel so guilty!”

Dar’ugal seized him and gave him a hard squeeze. Stafford gasped, feeling like the life was being squeezed out of him by the two-meter-plus tall alien. When he was released, the Hazardous Team (Dar’ugal included) broke into fits of laughter.

“What?” Stafford asked. He looked down. His cloths were covered in red hair. Apparently it was shedding season for the Baruda. Wait…Baruda?

“What the hell is he doing here anyway?” Stafford exploded, “We left T’Parief on the ship because this is a primitive culture! We can’t go running around with big lizards or hairy aliens that don’t have heads!”

“Oh, it’s OK sir,” Stern assured him, “He’s got a disguise,”

Dar’ugla pulled a large ballcap out of his bag and planted it firmly on his shoulders.

“But…but…” Stafford gasped, “HE HAS NO HEAD!”

“Trust us here sir,” Simmons said, “We’re the experts.”

Stafford’s gaze passed from Stern, to Simmons and to Dar’ugal, then back again.

“Let’s get back to work,” Stafford finally grumbled, trying to salvage the tattered remains of his dignity, “We have an evil rebel despot to take down,”


“I’m sorry, that flight is booked,” the young woman at the ticket counter gave Noonan a tired smile, her high-pitched voice dragging a little. It was very early in the local morning after all; nearly dawn. The poor woman clearly didn’t like working at such a foolish hour, “Perhaps you’d like to try again tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow is really too late,” Noonan said. He was leaning against the counter, fatigued from his high-speed run, “Are you sure there isn’t something available on stand by?”

“Nope,” the woman, her name tag labeling her as Sinday, shrugged.

Bracing himself inwardly, Noonan reached out with his mind.

“I need the first available seat flying to the east coast,” he said.

“There just isn’t anything, sir!” the woman said, startling to look exasperated, “Cross-continental trips are always booked solid!”

Noonan started. It hadn’t worked! He’d tried to use his persuasive abilities to influence her, as he had so many times before with countless mortals. But it hadn’t worked! Was it possible that the Delori had some kind of natural defense against his mental abilities? Or maybe it was just people working in the service industry, he mused. It always seemed difficult, even for him, to get somebody working behind a counter to actually assist him with what he needed, rather than citing a dozen reasons why what he wanted was either impossible, against policy or just plain silly.

No, that couldn’t be it. Far more likely, he was weakened from his run and now didn’t have the strength to properly affect her. And dawn was approaching! He’d be safe; he had his protective field generator and his skin cream, but his powers were always weaker during a planetary day.

He had hoped to conserve his rations. He’d only been able to bring a limited amount of the fluid he needed to live. But very well.

He pulled his thermal canister out of his knapsack, thumbing the activation switch that would power the tiny psionic energy generator, infusing the replicated substance with the life energy he needed.

Nothing happened.

Feeling a slow but sure feeling of panic, Noonan pulled off the tiny access panel that covered the generator. It was completely dead. Something, probably the various temporal anomalies on the planet, had shorted it out. Without the generator, he had no choice. He would have to do something he hadn’t done in over a century.

He would have to take a victim. And feed.


“I think we lost them,” Yanick said.

“How can ye be sure?” Jeffery said, “There are too many life signs in the city for the tricorder to tell me which are good and which are bad, the engine on this primitive junk heap is too loud for us to listen to those buggers chasing us and we have no radar or thermal imaging equipment handy!”

“I used the rear-view mirror,” Yanick said, tapping at the indicated item.

“When Ah get back to the ship, Ah’m never leaving Engineering again,” Jeffery vowed quietly to himself.

“We’re about an hour from the launch pad,” Jall commented, “Would you care to fill us in on just how you plan to move a thousand gallons of hydrogen fuel into a rocket without anybody noticing?”

“Er,” Jeffery coloured.

“‘Er’ what?” Jall asked, twisting in his seat to look back at Jeffery and steadying himself as Yanick took a turn just a bit too fast.

“Ah haven’t quite figured that part out yet,” Jeffery admitted, “Ah figured I’d come up with something on the way there,”

“You don’t have a plan?” Jall snapped, then turned to Yanick, “He doesn’t have a plan?” He turned back to Jeffery, “Why don’t you have a plan?”

“Well, Jeffery said, “This whole away-team planning thing is a bit harder than I thought. Ah’m more used to figuring out the techno-stuff while the rest of ye handle the other details,”

“This is techno-stuff,” Yanick pointed out.

“Look,” Jeffery said, “The data I found says the rocket’s at the launch pad. The fuel facilities are right nearby. We just flip the ‘on’ switch on the pump and keep the Delori distracted while the tank fills, right?”

Behind them there was a large explosion, the upper floors of one skyscraper bursting into flames.

“I think Stalart already has the distraction part well under control,” Jall sighed.


“Beta Squad reports they’ve taken control of Sector 3,” a Delori rebel by the name of Bortus reported, “They haven’t met any real resistance yet,”

“They will,” Stalart declared, sitting imperiously at the tiny desk he’d been provided, “The Dufarndan military is massing outside the city. Once they’re ready, they will attempt to overrun our defensive positions. You will not have the strength to hold out on multiple fronts,” he turned to Klendar, “Which is why we need control of the defense computers! If I cannot get computer control of the missile sites and military bases, this entire exercise is for nothing!”

“We are working on it,” Klendar said, “But we are having a great deal of difficulty. The security around their defense network is far greater than I would think them technologically capable of,”

Stalart’s eyes narrowed.

“Really,” he said flatly.

Klendar nodded slowly.

“You think perhaps they had…help?”

“Help?” Klendar looked confused, “Who would help them? Your servants are loyal, my Lord,”

“Yes,” Stalart said, “But there are at least three Starfleet officers running around this country. Perhaps one of them?”

“Sir,” Bortus broke in, “My Lord, if there were aliens aiding the military, we would know of it!”

“Doubtful,” Stalart scoffed, “The only reason why your military knows I am helping you is because my crew was foolish enough to crash my ship in an easily found location.” Indeed, the military cordon around his crashed vessel still existed, but a few functioning weapons and an intact shield generator were more then enough to keep them at bay while repairs continued. “No, somebody is helping them. Either the Starfleeters, or somebody we have not yet taken into account yet,”


“You know, Commander Jeffery,” Jall said conversationally as they drove on, “If you’d been smart, you would have setup some kind of extra security around the Delori computer network. Something to stop Stalart from getting all this useful info you’ve been getting,”

Jeffery grimaced.

“Yer right,” he said between clenched teeth, “It would have been smart. If Ah’d thought of it. Which Ah didn’t. Maybe if ye’d been here instead of out camping with Noel ye could have done it yerself!”

“Hey,” Jall raised a hand, “No need to get touchy! It was just a thought,”

“Keep yer thinkin’ in yer own head,”

“Ohhh,” Yanick cut in, “Look at all the pretty lights,”

They’d arrived at Dufarndan’s D.O.R.K.S lauch pad. Launch pads, really. The complex was near the edge of the city, bordered by a thick forest. Aside from the three lauch pads there was a concrete bunker complex that Jeffery knew housed security teams, training facilities, accommadations for the astronauts and support staff and, of course, Launch Control. Conduits and cables ran from the launch pads in dozens of directions, no doubt used to bring fuel, oxygen, water and whatever else was needed to supply the space expeditions from secure storage right to the rockets themselves. The complex was surrounded by a tall chain-link perimeter fence. Two of the launch pads were empty, but on the third there stood-

“What, that’s IT?” Jall asked, sounding angry.

“Aye, what’s the problem?” Jeffery asked.

“It’s tiny!” Jall complained, “When you said rocket, I thought you really meant like a big old Saturn-V! This thing…it’s…it’s…”

“Stop being such a size queen,” Yanick said, smacking Jall playfully upside the head.

The rocket in question wasn’t very impressive. It certainly was nowhere near the size of the massive behemoth that had taken early Earth astronauts to the moon. On the other hand, it didn’t have to be. The goal of the D.O.R.K.S was to get somebody in orbit to take readings on the planet, and this small rocket, barely the size of Zefran Cochrane’s Pheonix, would do that job nicely.

“There is NO way going into space in something that small and primitive is safe,” Jall declared.

“This is good,” Jeffery muttered, ignoring Jall, “Main engine is just a hydrogen rocket. The boosters there are solid fuel.”

“Look how tiny it is,” Jall said, eying the capsule at the top of the rocket in which the Delori astronauts had been intended to sit, “How can they fit five people in there? It’s barely the size of a shuttle cockpit!”

“Uh oh,” Yanick said, “Somebody’s seen us!”

Several dark figures had come out of the control bunker and were moving towards their position, carrying flashlights and what looked like firearms.

“Run!” Jeffery cried, pulling Yanick’s arm.

They rushed along the fence surrounding the launch complex, ducking behind trees and whatever cover they could find, their pursuers following and shouting fairly predictable stuff like ‘Stop or I’ll shoot!’ and ‘Get them!”.

Then they really DID shoot.

“Holy crap!” Jall cried, ducking as a bullet whizzed past his ear, “Jeffery, I thought you said this place was low security!”

“It is,” Jeffery gulped, “This IS their idea of low security!”

Jall pulled out his phaser, turned and fired. His shot struck one of the armed men, dropping him on the spot. The others immediately returned fire.

“Chris said no phas-“ Jeffery was cut off as a bullet hit him in the back, sending him pitching forward.

“Simon, stop goofing around,” Yanick complained as Jall hauled Jeffery back to his feet. As they resumed running, Jeffery gasped in pain.

“That really hurt!” he said, surprised.

“If you weren’t wearing that body armor under your jacket, it would hurt a hell of a lot more,” Jall pointed out.

“At least we learned something from our last trip,” Yanick said.

“Well, they know we’re not locals now,” Jeffery said, gasping pathetically for breath, “Let’s just stun them and get it over with,”

The three of them pulled out their hand phasers and started shooting backwards. They had come to a service entrance and while the gate was closed, they were able to take refuge behind the guard station, hiding from a rain of bullets as the last few guards tried to take them out. Finally, a lucky shot by Yanick sent the last guard pitching forward.

“You know,” Yanick said, “I bet if we’d just talked to them we could have gotten out of here,”

“No, we would have gotten arrested,” Jeffery said.

“Hmmm…21st Century prison…” Jall mused.

“Ah don’t even want to THINK about what ye mean by that,” Jeffery said. He was running his hands over the unconscious bodies of the guards.

“Hey, don’t give me a hard time,” Jall said, “You’re the one feeling up a guy right now,”

“Ah’m not feelin’ him up,” Jeffery snapped, “Ah’m looking for…here we go!”

He’d pulled out a small security card.

“Just to make our lives a tad easier, ye understand,”

“We should take more than just the cards,” Jall said thoughtfully.


Several minutes later, three darkly-clad Delori security guards were walking from the perimeter fence to the control center of the launch complex.

“They’re never going to fall for this,” Jeffery groaned.

“They ALWAYS fall for this,” Yanick said, “Or they don’t fall for it, but that was part of the plan, and he had a backup plan that he could use then. Or they didn’t fall for it, but he were such a bad-ass he beat them anyway. Or-“

“What IS she talking about?” Jeffery asked Jall out of the corner of his mouth.

“Not sure,” Jall replied, “Either James Bond or Austin Powers, I think,”

They slipped in a side entrance into the building, Jeffery swiping the stolen card.

“This is too easy,” he said.

<SNICK!>

<SNICK!>

<SNICK!SNICK!SNICK!SNICK!SNICK!SNICK!SNICK!>

“Uh oh,” Yanick moaned as the lights came up, revealing no fewer than a dozen security guards, automatic weapons pointed right at them.


Noonan stood near the observation windows of the airport, watching as the sky started to lighten. It would be dawn in less than an hour and not only was he not on the plane he wanted; his exertions had weakened him beyond his expectations. Once the sun came up he wouldn’t be able to move much faster than the average mortal. The alternative…

He shuddered. The alternative would be to sink his fangs into a poor, helpless Delori and feed.

On a television in the corner, a news anchor was speaking.

“And fighting continued in the west coast city of Dufarnekia through the night as rebels calling themselves ‘Warriors of the Children’ held tight control of the city. Military troops have been deployed, but unconfirmed reports show that the rebels are holding firm. We’ve also received word of uprisings in the cities of Derskarin, Eskandil and Bothowakish. In a related story, the Prime Chancellor has declared a state of emergency and urges citizens in all of Dufarndan to remain calm and to report any incidents in your local areas to the authorities”

Things were falling horribly apart. He had one hope if he was to complete his mission. It was risky, of course. But it wasn’t risky for him at all. Risky only for the victim he would choose. <Very well>, Noonan mused, <Let us consider. Failure could lead to Stalart discovering the secret of this planet first. He has already indirectly killed many innocent Delori during his time here, he is no doubt going to be the cause of more deaths.>

The question was whether or not he’d be willing to cause one death in order to prevent others. If one was Vulcan, it was an easy question. One live vs. dozens. Logically, he’d be justified in taking as many lives as he needed, so long as in the end he killed fewer than Stalart would have. If one was Klingon, it didn’t matter how many you killed, as long as you killed them honorable. If one was Andorian, the more corpses the merrier.

Too bad Noonan wasn’t any of those races. He was, well, he was what he was. And his people had caused more than their share of death. He’d been so lucky, technology allowing him to exist without bringing death, without causing the suffering of others. But then, as this experience was reminding him, that really wasn’t the way he was meant to be, now was it?

In the end, he realized, it came down to the fact that people, his friends, were counting on him. If he failed it wouldn’t just be any deaths on his head. It could be their deaths. And that was something he was NOT willing to live with.

He moved towards the men’s washroom.

Within, a single male Delori was cleaning his face with a bar of soap. Noonan moved casually towards the urinals, pretending to use one. OK. The trick here was just a matter of willpower. He’d have to stop feeding before the man died. Simple enough. Well, no. Not really. Better to ask a starvation victim to stop eating halfway through a bucket of fried chicken. Noonan composed himself then moved, faster than the poor Delori could see, grasping the man’s neck with careful gentleness, then driving his teeth into the man’s flesh.

WOW!

He drew the blood out, hard. Images and memories washed over him as he drank up the Delori’s existence: growing up in a small rural settlement, moving to the city to work in one of the factories, preparing to fly homewards to visit with the relatives he longed to be with.

It was everything Noonan needed, and had been needing. The live blood was richer, fuller and more energized than anything that could be produced with modern technology and he drew hard, unable to stop, his body screaming for that which it had been denied for so long.

And when the Delori man died, the death hit him like a physical blow. He jerked free of the body, collapsing on the floor.

He’d failed. He hadn’t pulled away in time.

He’d killed an innocent man.

Tears forming, Noonan looked calmly at the corpse. Frowning, he noticed something in the man’s pocket.

If the Delori’s death had been a physical blow, the next realization was a freight train plowing through the remains of his soul.

A ticket. There was a plane ticket for the flight Noonan had wanted in the man’s pocket. He could have struck him over the head, knocked him out, hidden him in a toilet stall and taken his place on the plane. With nobody the wiser.

Struggling to maintain his composure, Noonan took the ticket. He walked calmly to the gate where he sat, waiting for the boarding call. When it sounded he boarded the aircraft, his revitalized powers making it easy for him to convince the gate attendant that the ticket was his. The poor woman didn’t realize anything was wrong.

Sitting in his seat as the aircraft took off, flying him towards the far shore of Dufarndan and most of the way towards his goal, none of the other passengers realized that inside, Noonan was screaming.


Stafford and the Hazardous Team crouched, weapons drawn, less than a kilometer from Stalart’s hideout.

“This isn’t good,” Stern was saying, eyeing his tricorder, “Stalart has nearly a hundred troops in that building. I’m getting transporter traces between him and his ship and readings that match up with a fusion power source well beyond Delori technology. No energy fields or mounted energy weapons yet though,”

“He doesn’t need them,” Stafford said, “He’s not staying. He’s just using the Delori to keep everybody busy and distracted while he fixes his ship and figures out what’s going on with this planet,”

“How do you know that, sir?” Marsden asked.

“I AM Captain for a reason, you know,” Stafford said, looking a little offended, “If I didn’t have at least some skills I wouldn’t be here!”

Dar’ugal gestured for several moments.

“Dar’ugal agrees,” Simmons translated.

“Great,” Stafford said. He fell silent, staring at the building.

“How are the seven of us going to take on over a hundred armed Delori?” he murmured, “How are we even going to get close enough to the building?”

In the distance, they could hear gunfire and disruptor blasts as Delori rebels traded shots with the Delori military.

“I guess we can’t just call the teacher over and cry that Stalart started a fight on the playground,” Rengs grumbled.

“You’ve been living with your wife too long,” Simmons cracked.

Rengs stared at him.

“What a stupid thing to say!” he exclaimed.

“Oh my God!” Stafford groaned, letting his head fall onto the pile of debris they’d taken cover behind, “I’ve been such an idiot!”

“Really?” Simmons asked, “I was going to say something, but-“

Stern smacked Simmons upside the head again.

Stafford turned to Stern.

“This entire time, we’ve been completely forgetting about somebody. Somebody who could have helped turn this whole situation around before it even got this far!” he shook his head, “Somebody we should have gone to for help as soon as we saw what Stalart was doing!”

“Who?” Stern asked.

“Come on!” Stafford said, jumping to his feet and rushing down the street, weapon drawn.


Commander Henket of the 3rd Battalion of the Delori Citizen Guard ducked behind the wreckage of a transport truck as another one of the hellish beam weapons flashed over his head.

“Five more rebels are joining the fight!” his second-in-command, Lower Commander Jertis called.

They’d been sent to take control of the East Highway back from the rebels, helping to open the city to a larger military force that was already on its way.

But the alien weapons the rebels had control of had tipped the balance of power against him, and his troop of two dozen soldiers had already been reduced by a third. He was just about to call the order to retreat when Jertis called out again.

“Sir! SIR! Look at this!”

Henket grabbed his binoculars and carefully looked around the edge of the transport truck.

Bright red beams of energy were flashing into the rebel holdout. The beams were different from the ones the rebels had been using; these pierced the air, precise needle-like shots as opposed to the balls of energy shot by the rebel weapons. As he watched, seven dark figures rushed from behind an empty building, firing at the rebels.

Before long, the rebel outpost had fallen silent. The figures turned to where Henket’s forces were hiding. Henket gripped his firearm tightly, ready to call for his men to mow down these invaders before they could wipe out the last of his troops.

His mouth drooped open as, one by one, the new arrivals raised their hands, weapons pointed up and away from his position. Two of the strange people were oddly shaped, one had a knarled forehead, the other appeared to be covered in red fur and was wearing a black cap.

“Uh, we come in peace?” one of the taller strangers called.

“Who are you?” Henket shouted, carefully easing out from behind the truck, gesturing for his men to follow him but keeping his weapon carefully trained on the speaker.

“I’m Captain Christopher Stafford of the United Federation of Planets,” Stafford said. Henket wasn’t sure, but it looked like the man was fighting not to laugh, “Um, take me to your leader?”


Stafford and Hazardous Team were quickly but politely rushed into a large ground transport and driven several miles out of the city to where the Delori military had setup their staging point.

It had been a simple realization, actually. The Prime Directive of Non-Interference prevented Starfleet officers from interfering with undeveloped worlds or from revealing themselves to primitive societies. And so Stafford had immediately dismissed any possibility of working with the Delori. Perhaps if there’d been less to worry about, if he hadn’t been distracted with finding out what had happened to the ship, with getting back to what they had though was wreckage, if he hadn’t been so delighted to find that at least half of his ship was intact a most if not all of his crew still alive, he might have realized that because Stalart had started f**king with Delori society, he was now free to take whatever steps he needed to help restore the balance.

After being introduced to Commandant Grenor, commander of the Delori military operation to eliminate the new rebels, Stafford spilled the story, careful not to make any mention of the strange temporal zones that the Delori had no knowledge of. He told Grenor about how Stalart had attacked his ship in orbit, how both had crashed and how the survivors of his ship had made their way to the Central Sea while Stalart’s crew had started pitting the Delori against each other in a bid to keep them out of the way.

Grenor looked coldly at Stafford for several moments.

“I’m not happy,” he said, “To learn that all this has been for the amusement of some tiny alien with delusions of grandeur,”

“Um, no,” Stafford swallowed, “No reason why you should be. It sucks, it really does.”

“We have a city falling to ruin over there,” Grenor snarled, pointing towards Dufarekia, “Why should I trust you?”

“Um, well,” Stafford said, “Uh, you saw my ship crash. I know you did. We found pictures of it in your data network, that’s how we knew at least part of it was in one piece. You have an entire operation going to try and find it. And you’ve got people surrounding Stalart’s ship!” he suddenly remembered how he, Yanick and Jeffery had snuck out to see the military cordon around Stalart’s crashed ship. “And besides, we rescued a bunch of your people, right? And we have gadgets here that are totally beyond your technology. Um, no offense meant.”

“We had people surrounding the alien ship. Had.” Grenor said, “We tried to rush them when they started repairing their ship. They started blowing up our tanks, so we retreated,”

“They could have fixed their ship by now,” Rengs said, worriedly.

“You still haven’t answered my question,” Grenor said darkly, “Why should I trust you? Oh, I know you’re aliens. We saw your ship crash. How do I know you’re not here to cause as much trouble as those pint-sized bastards? Give me something, anything that proves you don’t have anything to hide from us,”

Stafford suddenly noticed that Grenor and his men were all very tense. Grenor was staring at him with small, crafty eyes, like he was expecting something of him. What the hell could he be hiding? Sure, he hadn’t said anything about the temporal zones, but even the Delori didn’t know about that. So what could they…

“Jeffery!” Stafford suddenly realized, “I sent three of my officers to, er, borrow one of your rockets so we could try to get back to the other part of my ship! It’s probably still in orbit right now!’

Grenor let out a relieved sigh.

“What?” Simmons looked around in confusion, “It’s not a big deal, we just-“

“We captured your team two hours ago,” Grenor admitted, “They’ve refused to co-operate, but once we found you it didn’t take much to connect the dots.”

“And if I hadn’t told you about them?” Stafford asked.

“We would have killed you all,” Grenor shrugged, “For hiding things from us,”

Rengs and Simmons went very pale.

“Yay honesty,” Marsden squeaked.


Jeffery, Yanick and Jall sat in their cell in the launch facility, staring at the walls.

“Well, we wound up in prison,” Jeffery said to Jall, “Ye happy yet?”

Jall ran his eyes over Jeffery.

“Not if you’re the only prison ‘companion’ they have to offer,”

Jeffery started, not sure if he should be relieved or offended.

“I wonder what the conversion rate for prison ‘companions’ is on this planet,” Jall mused, “I mean, I won’t get much for you, but Yanick would sure turn a pretty penny,”

Jeffery’s angry reply was lost as the door slammed open.

“Commander Jeffery, Lieutenant Jall, Ensign Yanick,” Lower Commander Sendil, the facility commander, nodded politely, “Our apologies. You’re free to complete your mission. If you’ll follow me, launch control is this way,”

“How do ye know our names?” Jeffery asked.

“How do you know about our mission?” Jall demanded.

“He has something shiny,” Yanick said dreamily.

Sendil handed Jeffery his comm-badge, the gold and silver metal glinting in the light.

“We appear to be allies now,” he said.


Jeffery called Stafford on the comm and confirmed Sendil’s statement.

“We need to get somebody up to the stardrive section, Simon,” Stafford said, “According to Commandant Grenor, Stalart’s people are making fast progress on repairing their ship. Their last scout saw them re-attaching the warp nacelle that had come of in the landing. There’s no way the saucer is going to help us in a fight.”

“Got it,” Jeffery said.

They followed Sendil to the Launch Control Room. The place was a hub of activity with Delori workers pulling dust covers off equipment and powering it up. As they watched, one of the huge screens at the front of the room flickered to life, showing a diagram of the rocket on the pad.

“We didn’t expect to need this room again,” Sendil informed them, “We’d given up after losing our first astronaut. The only reason why we’re back here is to keep the place from falling into rebel hands. I sure hope you guys know what you’re doing.”

“Spaceflight is our middle name,” Jeffery said.

“Really?” Sendil asked, curious, “All three of you? Are you perhaps mated?”

“Figure of speech,” Jeffery said.

“And what is WITH the three person marriages you people have?” Jall asked.

“Doesn’t everybody marry that way?” Sendil asked.

“How long until we can launch?” Jeffery asked, ignoring him.

“Fueling will be complete in three hours,” Sendil said, “But we need to check out the rocket systems,”

“Ah can help,” Jeffery said, pulling out his tricorder and the engineering kit the Delori had returned to him, “I’ll have that baby purring like a kitten,”

“Doing what like a what?” Sindel scratched his head.


“Stalart and his people are holed up here,” Stern said, pointing at a primitive paper map the Delori officers had stretched out on a table, “They’re using this warehouse as a base of operations,”

“What makes you so sure,” Grenor grunted, “Our long-range reconnaissance drones only show light rebel activity in that section of the city,”

“We know,” Stafford help up his tricorder, “The Arcanians have technology that allows them to teleport from place to place. That’s how they got past the blockade of your ship,”

“Do you have this technology?” Commander Henket asked.

“We do, but, um,” Stafford wasn’t sure how to explain that the temporal interference was causing problems with the transporters without mentioning the temporal interference, “It’s not working very well right now,” he finished rather lamely.

“If we can seize control of this facility,” Stern continued, tapping the map, “We can cut off the head of the rebels. Then it’s just up to you folks to mop things up,”

“If your teleportation technology can get us closer to the rebel stronghold, we’ll have a better chance,” Grenor said.

“If the saucer has gotten close enough to the city, we may have better luck,” Rengs suggested.

“Worth a shot,” Stafford agreed, “Stafford to T’Parief,”

“T’Parief here,”

“Status?”

“Ensign Pye continues to move the saucer towards the city, but it is very slow going,” T’Parief reported.

“Are the transporters up and running yet?”

“One moment.” There was silence on the line as T’Parief checked with somebody else.

“No,” he replied, “It will be several more hours,”

“Fine,” Stafford sighed, “Stafford out,”

He shrugged.

“Soon, anyway,” he said.

“I bet those folks on the ship are getting pretty bored,” Marsden mused.


“Back to our match,” T’Parief said calmly, having just closed the comm channel. He and Wowryk had placed a small table on the bridge in front of the command chairs. Playing cards had been spread out across the surface and both he and Wowryk had several cards in hand.

“Whatcha playing?” Pye asked.

“It is an Earth game of great concentration and skill,” T’Parief grumbled, “A game that requires stamina, talent and a thirst for victory,”

He paused, regarded his cards, then turned to Wowryk.

“You may Go Fish,”


“Well, the controls look easy enough,” Jall mused. He was seated in the pilot seat of the Delori rocket, which he’d christened the Sparrow. “Up, down, left, right. Transistorized navigational computer, funny weird balls that spin. Not exactly rocket science,”

Jeffery rolled his eyes and Jall went into quiet hysterics. Jeffery was crouched outside the hatch, having just finished running the systems check. The cover plate for the navigational computer had been pulled off and several wires now ran into Jall’s tricorder instead.

“So yer sure yer not going to have any problem piloting this thing?” he asked.

“Nope,” Jall shrugged, “As soon as we clear the interference, the tricorder is set to home in on the emergency beacon of the stardrive section. As long as I get a lock before the second stage runs out of fuel, I can pick an orbit trajectory that’ll take me right to it,”

“Good,” Jeffery nodded, “Glad to see Chris was right when he said yer smarter then ye usually act,”

Jall arched an eyebrow.

“He really said that?”

“Uh, sure,” Jeffery looked away. Stafford had actually said ‘Dear God, I hope that moron is smarter than he acts’. But no point in telling Jall that.

“So why am I piloting this thing instead of Yanick?” Jall asked.

“Simple reason,” Jeffery said. He stood and hit the control to close the hatch.

Jall’s shout of protest was lost as the hatch sealed itself with several clicks.

Jeffery had just made it to the gantry elevator when his comm-badge beeped.

“Jall to Jeffery,”

Jeffery tapped the badge.

“Aye?”

“WHAT THE F**K ARE YOU DOING???”

“Sorry Lieutenant,” Jeffery shrugged, “Ah’m not sending Yanick up there to run around an abandoned starship, and Ah’m needed here to make sure everything goes OK with the launch.

“I am NOT riding this tin can solo!”

“Sure ye are,” Jeffery said, “And that’s an order,”

“You are SUCH a dick!” Jall shouted.

“Launch is at T minutes thirty minutes,” Jeffery said, trying hard to keep a wide grin off his face, “Better buckle yer seatbelt!”

Jall’s reply will not be repeated.


“So he really volunteered to fly up there alone?” Yanick asked, sitting in Launch Control and playing the Delori version of ‘Space Invaders’ on her console. Amazing how similar some cultures could be.

“Sure did,” Jeffery said calmly, sitting down at the neighboring console and wincing as he saw he was going to have to use an actual mechanical keyboard, “Said he just couldn’t let us risk ourselves,”

“Uh-huh,” Yanick said, not sounding convinced as she used her tiny tank to blow up an alien mothership (saucer-shaped, of course), “You might wanna rethink that claim when you tell Chris. He’s never going to believe that Jall would risk himself for somebody else. Unless he thought it would get him laid,”

“Whatever,” Jeffery sighed. He looked at Yanick, “Do ye think I went a wee bit too far? Forcin’ him into this?”

Yanick shrugged.

“Would he have done it anyway if you’d ordered him to?”

“Ah dunno,”

“Then maybe it’s just as well that you forced him into it,” Yanick said, turning to give her full attention to her game.

“T-10 minutes,” one of the Delori controllers announced.

“There’s no way he can get out of that thing before he reaches orbit, right?” Jall asked Sendil.

“Unlikely,” Sendil said, looking a little uncomfortable with the whole situation, “But if he is a talented and intelligent person, he may find a way,”


“I’m never going to get this f**king hatch open,” Jall groaned. He looked around the tiny cockpit. Hmm. A space suit was hanging in one corner. Huh. It wouldn’t be easy to put on himself, but it would probably be a good idea.


“Thirty seconds,” Sendil announced.

“Jall?” Jeffery asked cautiously, “Buddy? Ye ready?”

“I am NOT your buddy!” Jall’s acid voice came back, “Let me out of this tin can, you a**hole! You can’t honestly expect somebody to survive being strapped to the front of a glorified Roman Candle????”

“People did it in the 20th Century all the time,” Jeffery said, “By the way, ten seconds,”

“Wait!” Jall cried, “I haven’t figured out how to get this stupid helmet-“

With a rumble felt throughout the complex, from Jall in the tiny capsule to Jeffery and Yanick deep in the control bunker, the rocket ignited, a huge burst of flame swelling from the base of the booster engines.

“Ignition!” Jeffery cried.

“What?” Yanick and Sendil asked.

“Shut up!” Jeffery hissed, “Ah’ve always wanted to do this!”

The rocket seemed to vibrate on the launch pad, then slowly began to rise. Gantries fell away and support lines disconnected as the rocket picked up speed, clearing the launch pad.

“Blast-off!” Jeffery laughed.


“Do you hear that?” Stafford asked, turning to Stern as they traveled from the Delori base to the point they had chosen to be their entry into the Stalart-contolled city?

“That deep rumbling?” Stern asked.

“It’s coming from that way,” Marsden pointed.

As they watched they could see an indistinct shape rising through the air on a pillar of fire, spearing straight up towards the sky.

“No, not that,” Stafford frowned.

“I think it’s your comm-badge,” Rengs said.

Fishing out of his pocket, Stafford pulled out the badge.

“AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Jall’s tinny voice screamed.

He was about to open a channel and tell his Operations Officer to stop being such a baby when he stopped, set the comm-badge down and leaned back, hands behind his head.

“Sir?” Stern asked.

“Shhhh,” Stafford put his finger to his lips, “Let me enjoy this,”


“Now what?” Yanick asked. They’d watched the status readouts in the Delori launch control as the rocket gained altitude. The launch facility did have a telescope, which had been tracking the rocket. They watched as it passed the layer of temporal interference, going slightly off course before Jall corrected the trajectory. The telescope couldn’t find any hint of the stardrive section, and soon the rocket was out of sight, having passed over the planetary horizon.

“Now we wait,” Jeffery shrugged. Their tiny comm-badges couldn’t punch through the interference. There could be no communication with Jall, which was something of a relief as the screaming really had been getting on Jeffery’s nerves.

“Ah don’t suppose ye people have ever heard of ‘Doom’, huh?” Jeffery asked, eyeing the huge screen at the front of launch control,”

The Delori looked at him blankly.

“Forget it,” Jeffery sighed.


“So here’s my plan,” Stafford said, addressing the Hazardous Team and the contingent of Delori troops that had accompanied them. He paused, “Well, actually it was the HT here that came up with the plan. So it’s not really ‘my’ plan. But it’s still the plan,”

The Delori soldiers stood stiffly at attention, their eyes staring straight ahead, faces blank.

“Wow, talk about discipline,” Stafford mused, looking over to where Simmons was picking his nose, “Don’t suppose I could leave these guys here with you for a few months, huh?” he chuckled.

The Delori didn’t move.

“Tough crowd,” Stafford winced quietly, “Oh, so the plan is this: The Delori will attack Stalart’s headquarters. You’ll be attacking from as great a distance as you can using those…what do you call those primitive explosive thingies?”

“Rocket propelled grenades, SIR!” cried the Delori in unison.

“Right,” Stafford said, “Those things. The ones you can shoot from a distance so it’s more difficult for Stalart’s people to disintegrate you or something. Just try to avoid blowing any of us up instead, hmmm?”

“SIR, YES SIR!”

“These people are making us look bad,” Rengs said out of the corner of his mouth.

“While you’re distracting the rebels,” Stafford went on, “The Hazardous Team and I will penetrate-“

“Heh heh,” Simmons giggled, “He said ‘penetrate’,” Rengs elbowed him in the gut.

“Will penetrate,” Stafford repeated, teeth clenched, “Stalart’s headquarters, take out the little pissant and retrieve Sylvia. Any questions?”

The Delori were silent.

Simmons raised one hand.

“Anybody ELSE?” Stafford asked tiredly.

Nobody.

“OK, let’s move,”

As one, the Delori gave their salute; bringing their hands up in front of their chests, parallel to the ground and giving a curt nod. They quickly filed out, grabbing the weapons they would need.

The Hazardous Team gave a half-hearted series of salutes (Simmons nearly knocking himself out with his phaser rifle) before giving up and trudging after the Delori.


Noonan sat in the cockpit of a small jet aircraft. He’d commandeered the vehicle after arriving on the east coast of Dufarndan. He’d made excellent time, thanks to Delori aviation technology. Now all that remained was for him to cross the sixteen hundred kilometer sea between Dufarndan and the unknown seventh continent. The jet wasn’t nearly as fast as the cross-continental express jet he’d had to use to cross Dufarndan itself, but it would still fast enough to make the trip in mere hours.

As he looked out the window, eyes protected from the sun by special sunglasses and his protective field, he mentally summarized what was known about the seventh continent.

It appeared, from orbit, to be uninhabited. However, the interference around the planet had forced Fifebee to search for signs of civilization using artificial lights. Dufarndan had stood out, its many cities blazing in the night. The other continents had also stood out from a variety of light sources, from large fires to gas and oil lamps. Harder to detect from orbit, but detectible. Especially when you had city-sized concentrations like Lord Dyer’s kingdom or the great city ruled by King Chupawhatever. Of course, nobody on Silverado had had any idea that the different types of illumination were caused by each continent being trapped in a specific age.

They also knew that the seventh continent likely contained a temporal nexus, similar to the one the saucer had passed through on the way down. The two nexuses had to be the key to Delorea II’s strange temporal fracturing.

But who he would encounter, if anybody, that was a complete mystery to Noonan.

He swallowed, trying to fight back the thirst. It had come back with a vengeance, even though it had been less than a day since he fed. Focusing ahead of the jet and trying to ignore it, Noonan watched as he neared the faint shimmer in the air that marked the temporal barrier. He knew that his aircraft could pass through it, as long as he was aboard, and that the second he disembarked the aircraft would be snapped back to Dufarndan.

Hmmm. The barrier didn’t seem to be coming any closer. How odd.


The ground shook as Stafford and the HT ran, ducking behind cover and trying to avoid being shot.

They’d met little resistance as they’d entered the city, Stern having used his tricorder to track Stalart’s rebel troop movements. The HT had quickly stunned any rebels they’d come across. As they neared Stalart’s headquarters though, the number of rebels they’d encountered had increased dramatically until the Delori had been forced to stop and setup their launchers. Stafford could only hope that any civilians in the area had heard the loudly announced warnings and left in the few minutes before the attack started.

They ducked as one of the grenades hit the warehouse next to Stalart’s, bringing a large section of the roof crashing down.

“Dammit!” Stafford swore, “They’re supposed to distract him, not blow him up!”

“Stalart’s not going to let them do any damage,” Stern said, “He’ll have his position fortified. At least as much as he can without attracting attention to the fact that he’s here,”

“We know that!” Stafford said, firing his phaser at a group of approaching rebels, “We just have to hope he was anticipating Delori machine guns and ground troops, not phasers and a, er, highly trained assault team!”

As they watched, a Delori RPG flew towards Stalart’s building, only to be shot down, detonating in mid-air.

“See?” Stern said.

“That entrance, there, on the north side!” Mardsen called out, translating Dar’ugal’s frantic gestures, “That’s our entry point!”

“Shut UP Simmons!” Stern snapped as Simmons opened his mouth to give his standard rude comment. ‘Entry point’ was, admittedly, a hard phrase to resist making fun of.

Another group of Delori rebels rounded the corner of the building, heading towards the source of the rocket fire. This time, Stafford and the HT hid behind the collapsed wall of a nearby building. They rebels ran right past them, leaving the way clear.

“Hold on,” Stafford said. He set his phaser for wide-beam stun and fired at the rebels, catching them all in the back.

“I need our distraction to last,” he shrugged.

They ran towards the entrance.


Noonan was frowning.

The temporal barrier, according to his tricorder, was actually stretching, following his aircraft as it flew towards the seventh continent. This wasn’t too surprising; they’d witnessed a similar event when the different groups of crewmember had converged on the saucer. But Noonan knew that sooner or later, the barrier would have to stop, lest it push too far into the domain of whatever was on the other side.

Even as he thought this, the barrier froze. His small jet flew right through it, rocking slightly by the temporal energy and…

Revealing a second barrier! This one was darker; more solid. And probably not as easy to penetrate.

Reacting with lighting reflexes, Noonan tried to pull up, to slip the aircraft into the slim space between the two barriers. He failed miserably, the jet crashing into the second barrier. This time the aircraft shook like a toy caught in the jaws of a dog, alarms going off as the jet bucked. Outside the windows Noonan could see ground beneath him…he was there! Glancing at his gauges, Noonan realized that both engines had failed. He tried to restart them…nothing. Even as he watched, the controls went dead one by one and the plane started to drop.


Rengs ducked as another round of Delori rockets soared towards the building Stalart had chosen as his headquarters. Energy weapons fire took most of them out, but one rocket did make it though, clipping a neighboring building and shaking the ground as it detonated.

“You’ve got to admit,” he said tightly, “They’re doing pretty good, considering all they have is glorified gunpowder!”

“A little too good,” Stern said, wincing as Stafford yanked a sharp piece of shrapnel out of his armored vest. Blood dripped from the end.

“You OK, Lieutenant?” Stafford asked.

“Just peachy!” Stern said, bringing up his phaser rifle and blasting away the doors leading into the building.

They rushed in.


“How could we possibly be under attack?” Stalart cursed, pacing the corner of the large open space he’d been using as his control center as the alert siren rang, “The Delori military is too busy surrounding our ship and searching for whatever’s left of Silverado to even consider looking for us here! I have purposefully avoided outfitting this decrepit facility with advanced technology to avoid attracting attention! How could they find us?”

“My Lord,” Klendar said nervously, “I honestly know not. But there is at least one full platoon of Delori soldiers firing at us! Our sentries are too busy trying to shoot down primitive projectiles to mount a counter-offensive!”

“Call in our forces from other points in the city,” Stalart snapped, looking up, up, WAY up at the Delori liason, “Get your people over here to defend us!”

The Delori swallowed.

“Is that wise, my Lord?” he asked, “If the military is-“

“If the military takes this facility, you imbecile, you won’t find energy weapons quite so easy to come by!’ Stalart snapped.

“At once, sir,” the rebel saluted and ran off to call for reinforcements.

Another alarm went off, this one sounding more urgent.

“What is it NOW?” Stalart snapped.

“Perimeter alert!” Klendar cried, “We have armed intruders entering the building,” he tapped at his panel, “They’re breaking through our defenses!”

Nearby, Sylvia sat quietly in her module, connected to the Delori defense computers. She’d tapped in once before, taking the time she could to reinforce their virtual defenses, making it impossible for Stalart to break in without her (rather brilliant thinking if she did say so herself). She had of course refused to break into the Delori network, after which Stalart had had people watching her very closely to ensure she didn’t do anything…foolish. Little did they know she had already been working to undermine them!

Very, very quietly, she tapped into the Dufarndan defense networks. Within seconds she’d brought herself up to date on what she could. She saw records of the Delori launching a rocket into orbit, though the reason for that wasn’t recorded. She also saw the requisitions and troop orders for the attack on Stalart’s headquarters, to be led by ‘External Specialists’, whatever that meant. Still curious about the rocket, she tapped into the Launch Control systems.

She almost squeaked in surprise! Right on the surveillance camera she could see Jeffery and Yanick, sitting right in the middle of a group of Delori!

But if they were working with the inhabitants of the planet, could that mean that the ‘External Specialists were-

The doors to the command center blew inward, falling to the floor with a loud clang. A loud, hoarse voice cried out as several figures in Starfleet light body armor stormed into the room.

“STALART!”

Captain Christopher Stafford stood, flanked by the Hazardous Team, all of whom had their weapons trained on Stalart or on his minions.

“YOU LITTLE SHIT!” Stafford screamed.

“Oh, how unpleasant,” Stalart cursed. He looked around frantically. Sylvia’s module was too far away to serve as a suitable hostage and most of his forces had taken to the roof to shoot down Delori rockets.

“You kidnapped a member of my crew,” Stafford ranted, “You tried to destroy my ship! You tried to kill the rest of us!”

“He’s been a very naughty little boy,” Sylvia agreed.

“And you think killing me will make things better?” Stalart asked, putting as much scorn into his voice as he could.

“No,” Stafford admitted, “But I think it will make ME feel better!”

“Oh, how primitive,” Stalart said. There! On the table, not two feet away, was his communications device. If he could just keep Stafford busy…

“You know,” Stalart said, “I really must congratulate you. It seems that at least some of your crew survived the…unpleasantness…of the other temporal zones? I imaging some of them must be positively barbaric!”

“And how would you know?” Stafford demanded.

“We’ve been studying the planet for some time,” Stalart admitted, “One doesn’t have to be a genius to figure out what AH-HAH!”

Stafford was too stunned by Stalart’s sudden shout to realize that the tiny dictator had lunged for a small device on the table. As he squeezed it in one hand he vanished in the sparkles of a transporter beam. The other Arcanian crewmembers that had been cowering from the HT’s phaser rifles likewise vanished.

“DAMMIT!” Stafford swore, “The little bastard got away!”

“He didn’t get away with everything,” Sylvia said.

“Sylvia!” Stafford’s expression of rage turned into relief, “My God, you’re OK!”

“Fit as a fiddle,” she replied brightly, “Although it’s going to take Simon some time to get all these dents out of my casing. Thank God for neutronium-reinforced castrodinium!”

“Yeah,” Stafford agreed. He turned to the HT, “Send a signal to Commandant Grenor. Tell him Stalart’s retreated to his ship and that we need reinforcements,”

“Aye, sir,”

“Oh, and better remind Henket not to blow up this building while you’re at it,”


Noonan pulled himself out of the wreckage of the crashed jet. He’d thought he’d done pretty well, all things considering. The jet was smashed almost beyond recognition, but he was still alive. A human might even have survived that crash!

On the other hand, that was the second time he’d crash-landed on Delrea II. It really wasn’t much more fun the second time around.

Squinting in the brilliant sunlight and increasing power to his small field generator (bursting into flames would be really counter-productive) he stumbled over the ground. As his sunglasses auto-adjusted and the world came into focus, Noonan gasped.

It was a city.

A massive, sprawling city with towers that rose into the sky, the buildings growing taller and taller towards the center. The very center of the city contained what could only be the Temporal Nexus. The huge structure was roughly cylindrical, built out of a dark metal with rows upon rows of tiny, glowing green lights. Six flared projections speared out, evenly spaced. Beams of pure energy speared out of each projection, shining out in all directions. Noonan turned and found that the coastline several miles behind him was ringed with what you could almost call a fence. Except that this fence was roughly half a mile high. The upper rim glowed a brilliant green, emitting a dark, bubble-like dome of energy over the city. It was this dome, Noonan realized, that he had crashed into and which had disabled his aircraft. The presence of the dome had also (he figured) blocked Fifebee from getting any visual images of the continent to use for her light source search. Noonan could see that the nearest energy beam being emitted from the Temporal Nexus was flowing into a huge receptacle built into this outer fence. Beyond the fence, perfectly in line with the energy beam, a shimmering wall of temporal energy stretched into the distance. This arrangement then, with the central Nexus generating energy which was then being fed into the ring-shaped fence/temporal energy emitter, was the cause of the time fractures splitting the planet. There must be a similar structure beneath the surface of the Central Sea, or else some kind of energy waveguide, collecting the energy and thrusting it through the planet’s core and back to this generator.

It was mind-boggling. The energy dome over the city, which covered an entire continent by the way, was impressive enough. But to transform the entire planet? What could the Delori, or whomever lived in the city, possible hope to accomplish?

“Who are you?”

Noonan spun around again. A Delori man stood there, staring not at him but at the wreckage of his aircraft.

“Did you come from Dufarndan?”

Noonan slowly nodded. The man looked shocked.

“This isn’t possible!” he said, “The exhibits can’t cross the barriers!”

“I am not from Dufarndan,” Noonan said.

“It doesn’t matter,” the man said, wringing his hands, “You must come with me!”

“Where?”

“To the Council of Curators,”

Deciding that was probably the best way to get the answers he needed, Noonan nodded.

The man tapped a wrist control and spoke briefly but hurriedly. The squawk of surprise Noonan heard through the comm unit emphasized the point that the inhabitants of the seventh continent really weren’t expecting visitors.

The world shimmered briefly. Noonan realized he had been seized by a transporter beam. When he rematerialized he was standing in a circular room with a domed ceiling. Several Delori surrounded him, seated behind small, compact desks. One side of the room had a high, arching entrance while the other had a blank video screen. Clearly his arrival had interrupted a meeting of some kind. The Delori said nothing, simply staring at him.

“Greetings,” he said, deciding to take the initiative, “I am Commander Matthew Noonan of the Federation Starship Silverado,”

One man, the oldest, looked annoyed.

“What are you doing here?” he demanded, “Didn’t you see the sign that read ‘Employees Only’?”

Noonan blinked.


“T’Parief to Stafford,”

“Yeah?” Stafford was following the HT, Sylvia slung under one arm as they moved through Stalart’s abandoned building, taking out the remaining defenders. The reinforcement of her module may have saved her live, but damn it was heavy!

“We have a problem,”

“How about some specifics?” Stafford said dryly, “Like ‘Captain, we’re out of toilet paper’? Or ‘Captain, Jall’s sitting in my chair’?”

There was a moment of silence.

“Captain,” T’Parief’s voice came back, “Lord Stalart’s ship has lifted off the planet surface and en route to your position. His weapons are armed.”

“Ohhh s**t,” Marsden groaned.

“Don’t suppose you’re able to use the transporters yet?” Stafford asked quickly.

“Negative,”

“Is he in phaser range?” Stern called.

“The curvature of the planet is blocking our shot,” T’Parief said.

“Call us back if you have some GOOD news!” Stafford snapped, closing the channel. He looked around at his security team. “Soo, any thoughts?”

“We’re boned,” they replied together.

They came through the last door leading to the roof, stunning the last of the Delori rebels. Half a kilometer away Stafford’s tricorder showed two masses of Delori life-signs. Probably the rebel reinforcements fighting with the military reinforcements. Stern pointed out Stalart’s ship, a tiny speck in the distance, as it moved in their direction.

“It’s picking up speed,” Stern said, “ETA, two minutes,”

“Can you contact Henket and the Delori?” Stafford asked, “If they can fire those rocket thingies at Stalart-“

“Even if they had…oh, what did they call them,” Simmons scratched his head, “Surface to air missiles, they wouldn’t put a dent in Stalart’s shields. Even bare hull could take several shots,”

“Let’s start running,” Marsden suggested.

“Right,” Stern said, “Then we can be UNDER the destroyed rubble of the building being crushed to death instead of being vaporized by his phaser blasts,”

“Gentlemen,” Stafford sighed as Stalart’s ship bore down them, weapons ports glowing, “It’s been an honour…”

He shook Stern’s hand, then moved on the Marsden, Rengs and Simmons. The Kreklor, he gave the Klingon salute.

“We die with honour,” Kreklor said, bowing slightly.

“I’d really rather not die at all,” Simmons gulped.

Stafford’s comm-badge started to crackle.

“What the hell are you idiots doing, sight-seeing?”

“Chris!” Sylvia cried, “Up! Straight up”

Stafford craned his neck, raising his hand to block the sun.

“HOLY SHIT!” Stern screamed.

Silverado’s stardrive section was soaring straight down towards them.

“What the…JALL?” Stafford cried.

“In the flesh, no thanks to the a**hole engineer!” Jall’s voice came from the comm-badge, “Now, I’m guessing you want us to shoot down that little bastard’s ship?”

“YES!”

“Gotcha,”

Still high above the city the stardrive pulled out of its dive, the impulse engines flaring a brilliant red as they struggled to keep the massive section of ship in the sky. Without the saucer the stardrive section looked bizarre, the warp nacelles looking huge next to the engineering hull, the ‘neck’ that connected to the saucer not seeming to have any real purpose, just sticking forward and up for no apparent reason. As Stafford watched, phaser beams shot out from the lower emitters, crashing against Stalart’s shields and knocking the small ship off-course.

Stalart returned fire, his weapons splashing off Silverado’s shields, but Stafford could see the ship shake.

“Jall, if you crash the OTHER half of the ship-“

He was cut off as the world vanished in a haze of transporter sparkles.


“Get the shields back up!” Jall snapped.

“Done,” Fifebee replied, as Stafford and the HT materialized in Main Engineering.

“Fifebee!” Stafford laughed, running to his science officer and throwing his arms around her, “You’re OK!”

“I am,” she said, “But if you don’t release me so I may assist him, Jall will likely crash the ship,”

“Will not!”

“Will too!”

“Take us out of the atmosphere, back into orbit,” Stafford ordered, spotting Jall hunched behind a console he’d configured to serve as the helm, “Stern, get your people helping!”

The HT dispersed around the engine room to monitor systems and assist with the task of flying the ship. The vessel shook as Stalart hit them with another phaser blast.

“Above a city is NOT the place for battle!” Kreklor snapped, pissed that he wasn’t getting an honorable death after all.


As the stardrive section gained altitude, making for space (where a starship really should be, after all), Stalart’s ship was flying east.

<It is time to get what we came for and leave,” Stalart thought-spoke, the vocabulator no longer needed, as he was with his own people. The ship still wasn’t fully repaired and their chances of being destroyed were now much, much greater, but Stafford had forced his hand. <To the seventh continent!>


“No, I didn’t see the sign,” Noonan said slowly, “Perhaps-“

“Perhaps nothing!” another Delori councilor broke in, “Visitors must remain within the exhibits, and for the love of God, don’t touch anything!”

Exhibits?

OK, time to get back to basics.

“What is this place?” Noonan asked, “What has happened to this planet?”

“What do you mean?” the Delori asked, “Didn’t you see the sign?”

“What sign?”

“This is our Museum of the Ages,” the second Delori, the one Noonan was starting to think of as ‘The Rational One’, “We built it as a showcase to our culture, to show how we came to be the great civilization that we are. Although,” he admitted, “We didn’t intend to open it to the public. How did you get in, anyway?”

“Our ship was attacked,” Noonan explained, “We crashed. It really wasn’t our plan to visit your…museum…”

“Then,” the first Delori was speaking again, “You didn’t know that the different areas of the planet were intentionally kept at specific time frames? You didn’t use the Gateways to enter?”

“We don’t know anything about Gateways,” Noonan answered honestly, “I arrived here by aircraft,”

The Delori councilors started speaking in hushed, worried voices.

At that moment a loud, grating alarm started to sound, several councilors jumping in surprise. The door to the chamber opened and another Delori rushed in, whispering quickly into the older councilor’s ear.

“Oh my,” he said, “It seems there’s a ship coming towards us at high speed. I wonder where it came from…”

A horrible suspicion was building in Noonan’s gut.

“Sir,” he asked, “When was the last time you looked in on your exhibits?”

“Oh, some time ago,” the Rational One said, “They usually take care of themselves. After all, everything that’s happened there is history,”

“I suggest you look in now,” Noonan sighed.

Looking unnerved, the Delori tapped at a panel on his desk. On the huge viewscreen images of the different time zones started appearing. A small medieval city, huge ziggurats under construction, single engine biplanes lifting off from a dirt airstrip.

The city of Dufarekia in flames as rebels and the military continued to battle.

The councilors started shouting, several of them raising their hands in what could only be angry gestures.

Finally they turned to Noonan.

“WHAT HAVE YOU PEOPLE DONE???”

“It wasn’t us!” Noonan protested, “It was the same ones who attacked us!”

“Sir, the approaching ship!” the Delori who had rushed in cried.

The screen changed again, showing Stalart’s ship as it crossed the barriers into the city, shields sparking as they fought off the same energies that had crippled Noonan’s plane.

“What do they want?” the old Delori asked, “No refunds for museum admission!”


The Arcanian ship soared along the great fence/barrier that circled the seventh continent, emitting the great barriers of temporal energy. Stalart’s scientists scanned carefully, looking for something they could use. They may not have had the skill to break into the primitive Delori computers but temporal physics was their speciality.

They finally found what they were looking for: a backup generator for the temporal energy fields, one of dozens in place in case one of the primary generators (of which there were several thousand) failed. Transporters were locked and energized as the component was brought aboard. Then, before the Delori inhabitants of what was obviously a very advanced time zone could react, they changed course, heading out into space and back in the direction of their homeworld.


“This is just a MESS!” the Delori complained, “The exhibits have been tampered with and now visitors are stealing our technology! That is IT! You are all banned! BANNED!”

“If I may,” Noonan started.

“You may NOT!” the Delori shouted. He tapped a button on his desk. Noonan had to move aside as a slender pillar rose in the center of the room. The old man walked steadily towards it. The other councilors, though looking worried, made no protest. On the column was a glowing red button.

“Riden!” The old councilor shouted, turning to the Rational One, “Have these visitors evicted immediately!”

“Yes, Supreme Councillor,” Riden gave Noonan a look that was almost apologetic before tapping at his console.

As the Delori transporters seized him again, Noonan had just enough time to make out the label on the red button, etched in dark Delori script: RESET.


“What the hell?” Jeffery asked, looking around. One minute he’d been sitting in Launch Control, playing games on the Delori computer, now he was on Silverado’s bridge, in the saucer. T’Parief had a look of surprise on his face, while Yanick was leaning on a support to steady herself after having been overcome by a wave of transporter sparkles.

“Silverado to, er, Silverado,” Stafforde’s voice came over the comm, “What the hell?”

“We’re back in space,” Pye reported from the helm, “I don’t know how, but we are,” he tapped his console, putting a view of the stardrive section on screen.


“What happened?” Stafford asked Noonan, the latter having materialized in Main Engineering with a rather stunned look on his face.

“It is a long story,” Noonan said.

He went immediately for a console, focusing scanners on the seventh continent. He stared for several moments.

“Oh, shit,” he whispered.


Seconds after the Supreme Councillor had slammed his hand down on the red button, the Temporal Nexus had started to unfold. The energy beams faded, the six emitters pivoted on massive support bases. Across Deloria II, the temporal barriers fell. As the stunned Starfleet officers in the saucer and stardrive sections of Silverado watched, the six time zones rippled, time seeming to run at an astoshing rate. As they watched, the Ancient Zone sped through the Bronze, Iron and Industrial ages and past the Computer age. Huge amounts of radio and then subspace comm traffic surged through the space around Delorea II. Soon, the entire planet had reached a technological level equal to that of the Federation.

And it kept going.

But even as the planet twisted, all six zones coming into sync with the technological achievements of the seventh, the Temporal Nexus was still unfolding. From deep in the core of the structure, a very familiar sphere was rising. A sphere surrounded by three solid rings, each spinning slowly on its axis, the three of them coming close to but never quite reaching perfect alignment.


“That’s the same as that thing from Horison system!” Noonan exclaimed.

“The what?” Stafford asked, staring at the sphere. It was very familiar…

“On stardate 56325 we encountered a similar object,” Fifebee said quickly, “It was orbiting a planet doomed to be destroyed by a supernova!”

“The one that turned time back like five thousand years?” Stafford asked.

“Exactly,” Fifebee said, “Though this one is much smaller. If the larger version could affect time in an entire solar system…”

“This smaller one is going to do something to the planet,” Noonan finished.

Fifebee watched her display as the three rings slowly spun around the sphere.

“We have two minutes until the rings align and the device activates,” she reported.

“Lock tractor beams on the saucer!” Stafford ordered, “Get us out of here!”

“It will take several hours to rig the saucer for towing at warp speeds,” Noonan reminded him.

“Then use impulse power!”


As the Temporal Reversal Device (as the Delori had named it) hovered over the Temporal Nexus, the six energy beam emitters reactivated, this time with the beams targeting the sphere and transferring huge amounts of energy directly into its energy core. As Silverado moved slowly away from the planet the rings locked into position, perfectly aligned. Opposite ends of the sphere opened, revealing a brilliant blue light. The sphere pulsed for several moments before releasing the built up energy, sending a wave of temporal distortion racing across the surface of the planet.


The Silverado officers watched their view screens as, behind them, the planet writhed. Their hurry to get clear had proven unnecessary; the Delori who had ‘evicted’ them had moved them far enough from the planet that they wouldn’t be caught in the energy fields. Made sense, if they wanted to be rid of them.

Slowly, the glow around the planet faded, revealing the same oil-on-water shimmer surrounding the planet as they’d seen the first time they’d viewed scans of the planet.

Stafford continued staring for several moments, then turned to his science officer.

“Fifebee?”

Fifebee tapped at the engineering panel she’d converted into a science station.

“All readings match our initial approach to the planet,” she reported, “The time zones, the layers of interference, all of it is back,”

“And Dufarnekia?” Noonan asked quckly.

Fifebee put up a visual view of the city. Details were hard to make out on account of the temporal interference, but they could see that the lights visible where the whites and yellows of regular, artificial lighting, not the reds and oranges of flames and explosions.

Delorea II was at peace again.

Captain’s Log, Stardate: 58406.5


“Wow, it’s been far too long since I’ve been in space. We’ve spent well over a standard month down on Delorea II, and I can bet it’s going to take just as long to debrief Starfleet on all the shit that’s happened here!”

“On a positive note, we’ve been met by the USS Stallion and the USS Elfman, both of which were sent to search for us when we didn’t report in. It would have been nice if they’d gotten here several weeks ago, back when we REALLY would have needed them, but no point crying over spilt milk. Well, I guess in this case it’s more like bitching that we’re the onces that had to clean up the spilt milk. Although as far as the Delori are concerned we WERE the ones that spilt the milk in the first place, but whatever,”

“We’re on course now to return to Starbase 45, where the saucer will be re-attached and repairs completed…again. Our casualties were minor; those few officers who hadn’t returned to the ship under their own power appeared on board when the Delori kicked us out. I bet that’s one planet Starfleet’s going to want a warning beacon orbiting, especially considering that we still couldn’t find any trace of these ‘signs’ the Delori kept mentioning to Noonan.”

“Oops, I guess we better run back and leave one…”


“Sylvia, can you delete that last line?”

“Sure,” Sylvia replied.

Stafford picked up his drink from the bar replicator, having beamed to the saucer with the rest of his senior staff. He walked to the rear windows where his officers were seated. The view was strange without the warp nacelles visible outside the windows, but the stardrive section was in front of the saucer, towing it through space.

“Well,” Stafford said, “It’s about time we had a chance to sit back and relax,”

“Aye,” Jeffery said, “The past several weeks have just been…long. Very long,”

They sat in silence for several moments.

“I think I need a nap,” Yanick said, yawning.

“Me too,” Jall said. He stood, giving Jeffery one last dirty look on his way out.

Soon it was just Stafford, Jeffery and T’Parief.

“Well,” Stafford said again, looking a little annoyed, “I guess we’ve all earned some alone time,”

“Oh, that reminds me,” Jeffery pulled out a data chip and handed it to T’Parief, “This is for ye. Sort of a present, Ah guess,”

“You are giving me presents now?” T’Parief glowered, “I realize you and the doctor are no longer together, however I am not available,”

“Nay!” Jeffery started, shaking his head violently as Stafford chuckled, “It’s not like that! Ah mean, oy, just look at it!”

T’Parief picked up a padd, slipped the chip in and hit the power button.

An image of the Delori rocket capsule appeared, Jall’s angry, desperate face plastered up against the hatch window, one fist raised. Jeffery had taken the image after locking Jall in the rocket he’d flown successfully to the stardrive section.

Stafford could have sworn the reptilian officer looked touched.

“I will treasure this forever,” he said, standing and giving Jeffery a small bow before he left. Stafford was sure he could hear loud laughter just before the doors closed behind him.

“So what now?” Jeffery asked Stafford as the two of them watched the starts streaking back behind them.

“Now?” Stafford asked, “Hopefully, now things will finally get back to normal,”