Сборники Художественной, Технической, Справочной, Английской, Нормативной, Исторической, и др. литературы.

The Strange Medium Guy with a Bad Haircut in association with Wrong Side of the Ocean, by Pearson Mui

                           Undocumented Features
                                 Leap Years

Based upon the Undocumented Features universe created by Gryphon, MegaZone,
and ReRob.  You guys got me hooked on this stuff!  :-)

Cast (in order of appearance)

Doc.............................................Pearson Mui
Head Scientist..........................Dr. Richard Lambert
Scientist...............................J. Random Scientist
MegaZone.....................................Brian Bikowicz
q.................................................John Todd
Gryphon................................Benjamin D. Hutchins
Jenna........................................Jennifer Steen
Rex.....................Jurassic Project T. rex 110497-M-01
Edison..........................................Edison Bell
Doc2............................................Pearson Mui
Q............................................Corbin Bernsen
PCHammer.....................................Martin F. Rose
Keriyn........................................Keriyn Ajlond
Mako..........................................Chris Meadows
Temper.........................................Katie Tanner
Asrial...................Queen Asrial Arconian I of Salusia
Kilrathi Platoon Leader..................K'radakh Blacktail
Kei.................................Kei Jeanne-Marie Morgan
Aric............................................Aric Ajlond
Lord High Ambassador Jeremy Feeple............Jeremy Feeple
Assassin................................Jonathon H. Sweeney
Captain..........................................Rin H'rard
ReRob..................................Robert E. Mandeville
Deedlit...........................Deedlit Satori Mandeville
Pilot.......................J. Random Fighter Pilot Wannabe
Pete.................................Peter David Ajlond-Mui
Techie............................................Percy Mui
J. Random Experimental Buma....................Katie Tanner


    To Zoner, Gryphon, and ReRob, for creating this universe.  Bet you guys
never thought it'd go this far, hm?
    To Martin Rose, the High-Diggy Hoek of Chihuahua-Wala Land.  (My sister
*still* gets a chuckle out of that!)  He put up with my first fanfic, and for
that, he deserves a place in my story.  (kinda tells you how bad my first
fanfic was, huh?  :-))
    To Mom and Dad, who have disavowed any knowledge of this story.
    To Percy and Betty, for putting up with both my weird, creative ideas and
my weird, creative personality.  Then again, they've been doing it since I was
born.  :-)
    To UIC, for showing me how good I had it in high school.
    To the Internet, for showing me how darn *big* the world is.
    To anyone else I missed because of forgetfulness.
    Last, but not least, to Bryan R.  He's never seen this story, and, unfor-
tunately, never will.  But, he'd support me anyway.  Take it easy, big guy.

Chapter 1----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam
    Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator...and vanished."


    Pearson grumbled softly as he went down the stairs inside the Behavioral
Sciences Building at UIC.  If only he hadn't waited till the last minute to
get his Psychology requirements done.  Oh well, too late now.
    He was somewhat taller than average for a Chinese person, about 5'10.  He
wore a pair of thick, plastic-rimmed glasses which, if almost anyone else wore
them, would give the person an instant headache.  He slung his green backpack
off his shoulder and started searching for the experiment room.
    It was rather stupid, actually.  Some sadist had thought of UIC and its
students as a potential source for data pertaining to psychological experi-
ments.  Ostensibly, it was to provide the students with "a richer experience
of the field of psychology."  Yeah, right.  Right now, he'd like to meet and
greet this sadist, perhaps to shake their hand.  Or their neck.
    Well, it was his own fault.  He should've checked out the experiments a
little earlier instead of learning how to kick butt on Street Fighter II (he
still got wasted whenever he played Chun Li.).
    There was one redeeming thing about his situation:  It was his last re-
quired hour of being a lab rat.  After this, it was all over.
    He entered the room to find several scientists, complete with labcoats,
milling around, tending to complex machines that he couldn't even imagine
what they did.  In the middle of all the confusion was a man barking orders.
The leader, obviously.
    He tentatively walked up to the man in charge and presented his appoint-
ment card.  The man turned around, accepted it, and put his initials in the
appropriate space.
    "Hi, I'm here for the..."  he began, but was quickly cut off.
    "Where have you been?  We're behind schedule!  Oh, never mind!"  he said,
flustered.  He waved Pearson off to another room, which he went into.
    "Wai-wait a minute!  What's going on?"
    The man, with his hawk-like nose, and keen, piercing eyes, responded.
    "What's going on?"  he asked incredulously.  "You, my dear boy, are going
to be the world's first time traveler!"
    "Doc Brown, Back to the Future, 1985."
    "That's what he said in the movie about Einstein, his dog."  Pearson
    "Oh, well..."  he shook it off as he continued.  "Anyway, this isn't a
movie, this is real."
    "Run that by me again?"
    The scientist sighed elaborately.  It was a wonder that he could even get
the project working, what with the substandard materials and clueless volun-
    "All right, here's the basic idea.  We're going to send you into the fut-
ure for an hour.  Every twenty minutes, we'll send you further into the future
until the hour's up, then you'll leap back here."
    "'Leap?'"  Now, where had he heard that term before?
    "I'll explain later, now come on!"  He practically dragged the student to
the next room.
    After the basics, like name, address, next of kin, etc., Pearson stepped
into a small, unfeatured room.
    "Hey, are you sure this is gonna work?  I mean, I'm not gonna leap into
the vacuum of space or anything, am I?"
    "Don't worry, you won't land into any really hazardous situations."  the
scientist reassured him.  "Ready?"
    "I guess so.  I mean, I'm only gonna be gone for an hour, right?"
    "Yes, yes, that's right."  the older man replied impatiently.
    "Okay, then."  Pearson took a deep breath, seeing as if this didn't work,
it might be his last.
    Outside, a storm was beginning to brew.
    "You may feel some disorientation when you leap in."
    "Okay, I've got it.  Let her rip!"
    And they did.
    The whole world seemed to dissolve, turning from light blue to pure white.
As he was on his way, Pearson noted a faint, "pulling" sensation, as if he was
being dragged to his destination, much in the same way as the scientist he had
met dragged him around.  As he was experiencing this, something intervened.
    Outside, the clouds rumbled until they let loose with a bolt of lightning,
striking squarely into some power lines, blacking out the lab.
    Then he disappeared.
    A shower of sparks flew from the various control panels.  The acrid smell
of burnt wiring and fused circuit boards was evident.  One of the aides,
alarmed, looked over the now useless controls as the backup generators kicked
    "Bring him back!"
    "I can't!  Everything's locked in!"  The hawk-nosed scientist's shoulders
slumped.  "We have to replace all these boards before we can even *attempt* to
bring him back.  If we tried to get him back now..."
    They all knew what would happen.  The equipment, such as it is, was highly
tempramental.  The slightest variation from standard conditions would be disas-
trous.  Pearson Mui would be forever lost in the space-time continuum.

Chapter 2----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Oh...boy."  --Dr. Samuel Beckett

1600 HOURS

    It had been a boring day, MegaZone noted from the captain's chair.  No
skirmishes with anyone, not even the Kilrathi.  The bridge was quiet, the only
sounds being the occasional beep of the controls.
    He had been almost dozing when something came over the intercom.
    "Zoner here."
    "Yeah, Zoner?  The first batch of eggs are about to hatch."  It was Gry-
phon, down at the medical lab.
    "On my way."  Zoner closed the channel and strode to the elevator.  "Q,
you have the conn."
    John Todd, AKA q, complied, sliding into the center seat.  "Like right."
    Everything was quiet.  Kei and Yuri were with the 3WA, and there wasn't
anything resembling a peep out of the Kilrathi, or Genom.  It was a time to
relax, and to catch his breath.
    In other words, it was stark raving boring.  If Gryphon hadn't inter-
vened, he would have most likely played The Tape again.  And again.  That was
a bit more than most people could handle.
    He got off the elevator and entered the medical lab.  Gryphon and Jenna
were already there, overlooking the eggs, separated by a foot thick layer of
shatterproof one-way glass.  In another part of the lab, several subjects of
another experiment, Velociraptor sapiens, were being educated in cyberspace.
He wondered offhandedly how they were doing.  Their relatives, V. Rapensis,
had turned out surprisingly well.
    "So, what's on the agenda today, Gryph?"
    "Hopefully, a Tyrannosaurus rex."
    Zoner's eyes went wide.  "You're kidding."
    Jenna shook her head.  "Nope.  One of the eggs is ready to hatch right
    Her sentence was rudely interrupted when a bright bluish-white light
streamed in from the enclosed compartment where the eggs were.  It grew in
intensity, turning bright white, then fading in a humanoid form.
    Pearson had just arrived, five years in his future.
    Zoner's first reaction was that of utter shock.  Jenna and Gryphon weren't
that much better off.  They gawked at the young man who just materialized in
the pen with the eggs.
    Pearson collapsed down to one knee and groaned, rubbing the back of his
    "'Some disorientation' my ass!  I feel like tossing my..."  he trailed
off as he realized exactly where he was.
    He was in a room.
    There was a mirror in said room.
    Next to him, in said room, were some ominous-looking eggs.
    One of the eggs was beginning to hatch.
    Correction.  One of the eggs had just hatched.
    A small, dark-green lizard-like creature had just emerged out of the
wreckage of its shell.  It had two small arm-like appendages, two legs, and
more than a few very, very sharp teeth.
    So, Pearson did what any sane person would do in his situation.
    He ran.
    He ran fast enough to make all his dashing around in high school look
like he had been a slug during those years.
    I'm not kidding.
    He ran into a wall, and fell down, dazed.
    The small creature approached him slowly.
    Pearson suddenly had a flash of his life going by.
    Boy, that was short.
    The creature was standing over him.
    Pearson braced himself.
    The creature nuzzled next to him, sighing.
    Huh?  Did he just miss something?  Not that he was complaining, mind you,
but, why wasn't he dead?
    The door to the room opened, and a tall, somewhat stocky young man entered.
Behind him was a somewhat shorter man with dark brown hair and glasses.
    Pearson carefully picked up the creature that had attached itself to him
and stood up.  He wanted to greet the people of his future in a somewhat digni-
fied way, but, to be honest, it's kinda hard to be dignified when you're still
nauseous from time travelling.
    "What's up?"  he asked.  [Ouch,] he winced inwardly.  [Great thing to say
to the people of the future, Pearson,] he told himself.
    Zoner was still somewhat in shock when he entered the pen.  He had a dozen
things to ask this guy.  For instance, who was he?  Where did he come from?
How the hell did he get into the room?  And why was he wearing that bright
green jogging jacket?
    Gryphon had other things on his mind.  Like Zoner, he was wondering who
the guy was, and where he came from.  Some absurd thoughts began to creep into
his mind to counteract the shock.  Did the guy know how much it was going to
cost to feed that little bugger when he grows up?
    "So," Pearson began, "I suppose I should ask, 'where am I?'"
    The question was so absurd and obvious that it took the two a few seconds
for it to register.
    "Uh, you're aboard the SDF-17 Wayward Son."  Gryphon stumbled.
    "SDF?"  Pearson asked disbelievingly.  He had this annoying habit of rais-
ing his right eyebrow when he found something difficult to believe.  Right now,
his eyebrow was halfway to his forehead.  "As in, SuperDimensional Fortress?
As in Robotech?"
    "Macross, actually."  Zoner corrected.
    "Technical, technical.  So, you're probably wondering who I am, right?"
    "Well, that might be a good place to start."  Gryphon commented.
    "Ho-kay,"  Pearson took a deep breath.  "My name is Pearson Mui, please
pronounce the last part like 'boy,' and I'm something of a time traveller."
    "'Something of?'"  Zoner asked.
    "Okay, I volunteered to be one."  He was still taking in his situation
when it hit him:  He didn't know who these guys were.  "So, uh, (damn, I feel
really stupid) I don't suppose someone could tell me who the heck you guys
    "Well," Zoner began, "I'm Zoner, and he's Gryphon."  he gestured to Ben.
    "How do you do?"  Pearson mumbled as he shook their respective hands.
"Well, I hate to leap in and run, but..."
    "Hey, wait a minute!  Who's going to take care of that dinosaur?"  Ben
    "Well, I'm not really qualified.  Besides,"  he said, looking at his
cheap Casio watch, "In a few minutes, I...yi yi."  His eyes went wide.
    "What's wrong?"  Zoner asked.
    "My watch just stopped."
    "So?  Maybe it just ran out of juice or something."
    Pearson shook his head.  "I don't think so."  He held up his wrist so
that all of them could see it.  The display was frozen at 9:00:00 AM.  "This
is a digital watch."
    After a few minutes, the three of them exited the room to find Jenna wait-
ing for them.
    "This is too weird."  Pearson mumbled to himself.  "I'm supposed to be
here and gone in twenty minutes, and I end up with a baby Tyrannosaurus rex to
take care of.  This is just...too weird."  By this time, he hadn't even begun
to question why everyone he had seen so far was a college student.  He was, to
put it simply, very numb.
    The saur he was carrying rumbled in discontent.  [Oh, great.  Another
mouth to feed,] he thought to himself.  In response to the saur's hunger, Jenna
brought a bowl of food to it.
    Then, something odd happened.
    The baby, such as it was, snapped at Jenna, causing her to drop the bowl
and pull back.
    "Jeez!  He nearly took my fingers off!"
    The baby saur looked questioningly at Pearson, almost as if it was asking,
"Can I eat now?"
    "Oh, sure.  Help yourself."  He put the saur down, and it immediately be-
gan chowing down.  "Oh, by the way."  The saur stopped eating and looked up.
"Don't do that again, okay?"  There seemed to be a glimmer of understanding in
the tiny reptile's eyes.  It simply stood there, looking at him.  "Well, go
ahead, eat.  Don't starve yourself on my account."  It resumed its rapid mun-
    "Hmph.  Kinda reminds me of me when I eat a turkey foot-long."  Pearson
commented.  He was, usually, a pretty hearty eater.  However, another of his
annoying traits was that, no matter what he ate, he never seemed to gain a
    "Zoner, you notice something?"  Gryphon whispered.
    "The tyrannosaur is obeying all of his commands."
    "At *this* early an age?  There's something else, though."
    "You mean there's more good news?"
    "'Fraid so.  We couldn't really do anything about the temper on these
guys.  From what we can tell, they're mean to everyone.  Except..."  He pointed
at Pearson.
    The saur finished its munching and made its way back to its "mother,"
namely Pearson.  He reluctantly picked it up, and it immediately fell asleep.
It was actually kind of cute, in a scaly, reptilian sort of way.  He chuckled.
Listen to him.  In a couple of minutes, he'd be gone, and the saur would be
    "I think we'd better take him to sickbay now."  Jenna whispered.  Seeing
as he didn't know how to take care of his new "kid," Pearson agreed, following
    When they got to sickbay, Edison was already there, sitting on a chair.
He was idly counting how many ceiling tiles there were.
    "Oh, there you are, Jenna.  I was wondering..."  His blue eyes narrowed
when he caught sight of Pearson carrying his "kid."  "I'm sorry, I don't
believe we've met."
    Pearson gave him the short introduction.
    "How long have you been here?"
    "Oh, ten minutes.  Why?"
    "Ten min--?"  he grunted in disgust.  "Your field's going to destabilize
in another ten!"
    "Field?  What field?"
    "Your Temporal Interaction Field!"
    "A wha ha wha ha wha?"  he was clearly confused.
    "Edison, what's going on here?"  Zoner asked.  "Do you know this guy?"
    "Only in case studies.  The method of time travel that he is currently
undergoing is highly unstable."  He took out a small, disk-like apparatus from
his jacket and presented it to the confused time-traveller.  "Put this under
watch."  he commanded.
    Pearson did as he was told and slipped the disk under his cheap Casio.
The effect was much like one of the force-fields on ST:TNG being activated,
only it was a field around his body.  His eyes bugged out for a second, then
    "Care to explain to me why my brain feels like scrambled eggs?"  he
finally asked.
    "Disorientation is normal."  The Detian smirked at the statement.
"Besides, you're extremely fortunate to be here at all."
    "All right, all right.  I'll explain."
    Zoner commented, "I hope so.  I'm almost as confused as our guest."
    "First things first.  You have a Temporal Interaction Field around you
which circumvents time discrepancies.  Basically, it's a bunch of tachyons
supercharged with high-energy muon neutrinos."
    "Which means..?"
    "Which means, that, had you waited any longer to modify the field, you
would now be playing statue, or something like that.  Your watch has stopped,
    "Yeah, how..?"
    "It hasn't stopped, really.  It's simply attuned to your native timeframe.
The TIF doesn't work on inanimate objects on your person.  As a result, your
clothes won't age.  You, however, will.  Similarly, your watch is unaffected."
    "Okay, bottom line.  How long am I stuck here for?"
    "Hmmm...I'll have to run a few tests on your watch, see when a second
passes in your time.  But, from what I can tell, quite a while."
    It took Pearson a while to absorb this tidbit of news.  Finally, he turned
to Zoner and Gryphon and said, "Guess who's coming to dinner?"

Chapter 3----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Well, now...it's going to be a long trip."  --Henry J. Gloval

1804 HOURS
    It had been almost a week since Pearson made his "arrival."  During that
time, Rex (when asked by Gryphon why he named the tyrannosaur something so
obvious, he simply replied, "Why not?") had stuck by his side in his quarters.
To be honest, he would have preferred a golden retriever, since they didn't
grow up to 18 feet tall and 50 feet long, and they didn't snap at everyone who
looked at you.  On more than one occasion, he'd had to pull Rex away from a
person so that their fingers would be intact.  Oh, well.  C'est la vie.
    There were a few side-effects from his TI field.  First of all, his meta-
bolism was slowed down to a point where he didn't need to eat for at least a
week.  His reflexes were the same speed, though, as he proved in the arcade.
Edison also told him that, theoretically, he could transfer some of his field
through physical contact.  It wasn't really recommended, though.  For one
thing, the field replenished itself at a very slow rate, about every thirty
years.  For another, in the scientist's journals (the one who sent him here),
he had found that future time-travellers that underwent this method of
transportation tried to carry people with them when they leaped.  The results
had been grotesque enough to keep Pearson awake half the night.
    As Rex nuzzled his way into his lap, he realized something that had been
bothering him since his arrival.
    He had no purpose.  As a result, he felt useless.  At least at UIC, he'd
been preparing to become a doctor, someone that could help people.  But here,
on the Wayward Son, he was just a freeloader.
    Well, he'd have to take care of that, now wouldn't he?
    "Doc, report to the medical lab."  came over the intercom.  "Doc" was his
nickname after meeting Martin "PCHammer" Rose.  When Pearson was introduced to
Rose, he messed up his hair and started calling him Marty in his best Christo-
pher Lloyd imitation (which, to be honest, wasn't very good).  Being the
comedian that he was, PCHammer immediately called him "Doc," and it stuck.
    "On my way."  He closed the channel and exited his (hopefully) temporary
quarters.  Rex followed him as best as he could, considering he was only about
three feet tall.
    Seeing Rex struggle with his feet, Doc (as he'll be known from now on)
picked him up and carried him.
    "Ahh...come on, you walking garbage disposal."  he said, mock-disgustedly,
and made his way (having to ask directions from EVE twice) to the lab.
    When he got there, Edison was running his watch through the analytical
gauntlet.  His Casio was enclosed in some sort of glass semi-circle, and sever-
al probes were running diagnostics on it.  All that for a $20 watch, he
thought, amused.
    "Oh, there you are, Doc.  Here, look at this."
    He did, after putting Rex down, and found nothing remarkable.  "It's my
watch.  So?"
    "Look at the time."
    It read 9:00:01 A.M.
    "Great.  So, all I have to do is wait until this sucker hits 9:20 and I'll
be on my way, right Edison?"
    "It may be a bit longer than you think."
    Doc's eyebrow shot up in curiosity.  "How long?"
    "Well, if this thing stays constant, and I have no reason to say that it
won't, you'll be here for..."  he ran some figures through his head  "...twenty
years of our time."
    Doc's jaw almost dropped to the floor.
    "Tw-tw-tw-twenty years?"  was all he managed.
    Edison nodded.
    "So, that means that I'll be hopping around in time for sixty years?!"
    "Well, unless there's something that causes you to leap prematurely."
    "Like what?"
    Edison shrugged.  "Like being jolted by a huge power discharge.  Conceiva-
bly, that could cause a reaction with your TI field.  More likely, though,
you'd be fried."
    "How much of a discharge does it have to be?"
    Edison sighed.  Doc wasn't handling the news as well as he'd hoped.  Then
again, he hadn't been stranded in time before.
    "About...1.21 gigawatts."
    Doc just sort of gaped at Edison.
    "Great.  Just great,"  he grumbled.  "I'm a friggin flux capacitor!"  He
realized something.  If he was going to be stuck for twenty years...
    "What about my aging, Edison?"
    "It's normal."
    This drew a look of disbelief from Doc.  "Edison, I have never been
*normal* in my life."  Well, at least he was getting some semblance of his
sense of humor back.
    "What I mean is, when a year passes, you age a year."
    "So, in other words, when I get back, I'll be 79."
    He let out a long breath in disgust.  "Is there any more great news, or
is that about it?"
    "That's about it."
    Doc sighed and started rubbing his temples.  "This is gonna be a little
tough to explain if I survive this..."
    "Which you will."  The records were pretty specific on that point.
They did not, however, reveal exactly *when* in the future he had been.
    "Yeah, yeah.  I can just imagine what it'll be like."  he said, setting
the stage for his ranting and raving.  "My brother'll pick me up, and he'll
say, 'Whoa!  Who're you, old geezer?'  And I'll say something like,"  he paused
to assume his old geezer imitation, even going so far as to hunch his back,
"'Shtep on it, Pershy, it'sh a looong shtory.'"
    "If I can interrupt your ranting for a bit, I think I have a partial
solution for your problem."
    He straightened up.  "What, you're gonna hit me with a lightning bolt or
    "Ha ha.  No, I mean your aging problem..."
    Edison went into a description of Omega-2 and what it did.  He warned Doc
that, although it extended a person's life, he could still, conceivably, die.
After that was done, he asked for Doc's decision.
    "So, lemme get this straight.  This stuff will keep me from aging, right?"
    "Correct.  Unless, of course, you want to age."
    Doc considered his options, which weren't that many, and decided.
    Rolling up his sleeve, he asked, "So, when do we start?"
    "Well, I really think you should have more time to..."
    "Edison,"  he said, his brown eyes drilling into the Detian's blue ones.
"I'm gonna be separated from my family and friends for the next 60 years.  The
last thing I need is more time."
    He sighed.  "Very well."
    Doc exited the lab, rubbing his shoulder.  He was followed by Rex, who,
not sure of what just happened, kept a discreet distance away from his friend.
    Back at the lab, Edison put away the vial of Omega-2.  "I hope he knows
what he's getting himself into."
    The intercom beeped.
    "Like Edison?  You've got a message from UP.  Like you want me to patch
it through?"
    "Go ahead."  He turned to the viewscreen.  It flickered from the WDF logo
to the face of a now-familiar person.
    It was Doc.
    "Yeah, it's me."  Physically, he was the same age as the young man who
just left the lab (except for maybe the wire-rimmed glasses), but there was
something about his eyes.  They seemed, somehow, mellower, more experienced.
Instead of the bright-green jogging jacket that his younger self, who will be
called "Doc," this older version of himself (called Doc2) wore a WDF uniform
with the rank of lieutenant.  "So, I gather that I just left the lab?"
    "Not two minutes ago, actually."
    Doc2 nodded, then let out a long breath.  "He's gonna have a very...
interesting experience."
    "Care to tell me about it?"
    He shrugged.  "'Fraid I can't.  I'm pushing things right now by talking
to you.  Besides, in order for me to get home, I..."
    "The Time Lords...persuaded me to not interfere in history."
    "The Time Lords,"  Edison snorted.  "How?"
    "I was on my way home when they stopped me in mid-leap.  They said that
if I interfered with what I saw in the future, they'd see to it I'd never get
    "I could pull some strings..."  Edison wasn't very fond of their attitude
of "preserving history."  In his mind, he was a free individual and could do
damn well what he pleased, including interfering with "history."
    Doc2 shook his head.  "Nah.  I kinda like my memories the way they are,
even if I don't like the memories themselves.  Besides, if you interfere,
they'll ship me out into never-never land."
    "Pompous bastards."
    "Tell me about it.  Just...keep an eye on me, okay?"  Damn, he sounded
like he was talking about himself like a younger brother or something.  "And
whatever you do, *don't* let me know about myself, okay?"
    "All right, if you insist.  Is there anything else?"
    "Nope.  Thanks."
    Doc2 closed the channel and sighed.  He winced as a blinding flash of
light filled the immediate area, then faded.
    He knew who it was.
    "Hello, Q."  he said with a hint of disdain.  This Q had a ragged mop of
blond hair, and wore an uniform like Doc2's.
    "You don't seem very happy to see me."  he commented.
    "Happy?  HAPPY?!  You expect me to be glad to have you as some kind of
parole officer?  Especially after what you put me through a few years back?"
    Q shrugged.  "I wasn't responsible for that, and you know it.  Besides,
I don't particularly enjoy following around an inferior life form just to keep
the space-time continuum intact.  But, some mutual *friends*,"  he spoke the
last word with utter disgust, "decided that for us, now didn't they?  If it
were up to me, I'd just as soon erase you from existence."  he snapped his
fingers for emphasis.
    "But,"  he sighed, "I can't do that either.  So, you're stuck with me for
the next few years."
    "Oh, one last thing,"  Q leaned closer to Doc2.  "Don't contact Bell
again.  I won't be as patient next time."  he disappeared in a flash of light.
    [Fun fun FUN.]

Chapter 4----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "This stuff is deadly!"  --Kei

1200 HOURS
    Doc and Martin were in the re-creation of Worcester, Mass., talking about
who did the most and/or worst impressions.  The two of them had gotten along
well.  Not surprising, since they pretty much shared the same sense of humor.
Also, Doc was still technically unemployed, so he just hung around with Martin
when he wasn't flying with the Clay Pigeons.
    In the meantime, Martin was coaching Doc the finer points of an Emmett
Brown impersonation.
    "Ah, geez."  Doc put his hand to his head, massaging his temples.
    "No, no.  You *have* to find an excuse to say 'Great Scott,' no matter
HOW weak it is."
    "How's this?"  Doc composed himself, then messed up his hair, assuming
a hoarse voice.  "Great...Scott!"
    "Better.  But could you make the voice sound any older?  Remember, this
*is* a gray-haired mad-scientist we're talkin' about here."
    "I'm doin' the best ah can, Marty!"  he said in a pretty good Scotty
imitation.  "If I push muh vocal cords any harder, they'll blow!  Of course,"
he resumed his normal voice, "They will regenerate."
    The training session was abruptly interrupted by Doc's stomach growling.
    "Hmph.  I guess I'm hungry."
    "Well, you *should* be, considering that you haven't eaten for a week."
    "I haven't needed to."
    The taller man turned.  "Sure.  And here I thought you were on some kind
of diet or something."
    "I've never needed to diet anyways."  Doc shrugged.
    "You disgust me."
    "Yeah yeah, sure sure."
    They made their way to the Wedge Denny's, where the lunch crowd was in
full swing.  Just about everyone who could fit was there.  Amazingly, they
found an empty table.  Just as they sat down, a waitress came up to them.  Her
name tag read "Andrea."
    "So, what can I get for you guys?"  she asked.
    Martin placed his order for the Average Lunch Entree (tm).  Doc was still
perusing the menu when something captured his interest.
    "What is this?"
    Martin peered over.  "I dunno.  It looks like a menu to me, Doc."
    "Ha ha, very funny.  No, honestly..."  he pointed to a selection.  "You've
got mild, medium, hot, and something called Zoner chili.  What the heck is
Zoner chili?"
    "Ahh...you sure you want to try that stuff?"  Andrea asked.
    "Yeah, sure.  Why not?"
    "Okay, your funeral."  She left to get their orders.
    "Wonder what she meant by that?"  he asked.
    "You got me.  I never tried the stuff myself."
    A few minutes passed, then Andrea arrived with two trays, one for Martin
and the other for Doc.  However, there were 6 cups of soda with the chili.
    "Hey, I didn't order this."
    "Believe me,"  she said, "you'll need it."
    Doc gave her a look that said "ookay," then tried out his food.
    Before we resume with the story, a little note.  The jalapeno peppers in
his chili are not your average peppers.  In fact, they have been known to send
more than one casual gourmet screaming out of the restaurant.  Eating these
things have often been compared to eating white-hot antimatter, only without
the benefit of a magnetic containment system.  They were even reputed to
rival the dreaded habanero pepper, the kind that can burn you just by
touching it.
    The reason these things are in his chili?  It wasn't expected for anyone
other than Captain MegaZone to order this dish.  Seeing as how he enjoys his
food on the spicy side (this is a guy who, according to Gryphon, "thinks extra-
hot taco sauce is water,"), this was made in his honor.  Almost everyone is
aware of the properties of Zoner chili and they avoid it.  Some do it out of
fear, most aboard the Wayward Son do it because they prefer to have their taste
buds intact.  However, Doc, in his understandable ignorance, doesn't know.
He'll sure find out, though.
    Now back to the carnage...
    "Y'know,"  he said in between bites, "this isn't bad stuff."  He poked
some cubes around with his spoon.  "Wonder what these things are?"  he
muttered.  He scooped up a big spoonful of the Killer Jalapenos From Hell and
ate them.
    Doc knew that something was wrong almost immediately.  For one thing, his
eyes were starting to water.  For another, the peppers he just chomped on be-
gan to radiate a heat of their own.  The heat began to grow exponentially in
his mouth.
    From two blocks away, everyone could hear someone screaming, "WA HA HOOOO!
MAN, THAT'S HOT!"  Even Rex, who was in the medical lab, cocked his head aside,
as if he could hear his friend screaming.
    Back at Denny's, Doc was guzzling down the soda that Andrea had thought-
fully provided him.  He was downing each 16 oz. cupful in about 10.6 seconds.
This meant that he easily beat his old record of downing a 10 oz. bottle of
OJ in 13 seconds.  Of course, it's a lot easier when you don't have a half-
dozen cheerleaders around you going, "Chug, chug, chug."  Think it's easy?
You try it sometime.
    A little more than a minute later, he exhaled what appeared to be a long
stream of steam.  Martin looked up from his meal nonchalantly.
    "So, how was your little trip to hell?"  he asked.
    "Not bad, thanks.  Didn't get many pictures, though.  Kinda hard to take
snapshots when your life's flashing before your eyes."  Doc slumped in his
chair and took off his glasses, which were fogged.  He wiped the lenses, then
replaced them when Andrea cautiously approached the two.
    "Well, I..."
    Doc held up his index finger.  "Not a word, not even a syllable from you,
Andrea."  He coughed out a small smoke ring.  "Uhh, thanks for the soda."
     "Hey, no problem.  But, y'know, I *did*..."
    "I know, I know, I know."  He ran his tongue against the roof of his
    "Anything else I can get you?  Maalox, maybe?"
    "I'll pass, thanks."  [Damn, I think my taste buds were burned off doing
that little stunt.]  His tongue felt absolutely raw.  "Y'know, I think this
stuff could be used in prisoner interrogation."  he joked.
    "Isn't that a violation of the Geneva convention?"  she asked.
    "Well, I--whoa!  Weird feeling!"
    "What?"  Martin asked.
    "I think my taste buds are regenerating."  He turned to Andrea.  "Could I
have a small salad, please?"
    "Sure,"  she said, writing it down on a pad.  "Boy, you sure regained your
appetite fast.  What dressing?"
    "Got it."  and she was off.
    Doc breathed a sigh of relief at having recovered from Zoner chili
torture.  "This is definitely gonna take some getting used to, Marty."
    Martin finished his meal and was now sucking on a Mountain Dew.  "What,
the blazing hot food, or living on a spaceship?"
    "The second one."
    "Hey, you'll manage.  Look at me."
    Doc raised an eyebrow at this.  "Y'know, that has to be the biggest..."
He stopped in mid-sentence as he caught sight of someone.  His head trailed as
he followed whoever he was looking at, mouthing out, "Wow."  Martin noticed his
friend's behavior and took a look at the source.
    The person in question was a girl, a very pretty one at that.  She was,
from what Martin could tell, a little shorter than Doc, probably about 5'8.
She had shoulder-length dark-brown hair which almost hid her extra pair of
ears, indicating that she was a Salusian.  She was dressed modestly in a pair
of grey slacks and a light blue blouse, which matched her eyes.  She sat down
at a booth with some friends, obviously at ease with the conversation.
    "Doc?"  No response.  He raised his voice a little.  "Doc?"  Still noth-
ing.  Okay, time to bring out the heavy artillery.
    He cupped his hands together and whispered, "Doooccc...WAKE UP!"
    He didn't even jump.  He just turned around, eyebrow raised, and said,
"I'm sorry, what were you saying?"
    Martin looked thoughtfully at the girl.  "She is kinda pretty, isn't she?"
She didn't compare to Noriko, but then again, who could?
    "Hmm?  Who?  Wha?"
    "The girl.  You know, the one that you were gaping at?"
    "I never gape.  I...just kinda space out."  He fidgeted.
    "Whatever.  Anyway, do you like her or something?"
    "I..."  he faltered.  "I think she's gorgeous,"  he admitted.  He then
held up his finger in mock-warning, saying in his best Mission:  Impossible
briefing voice, "However, should you repeat this to anyone else, I will totally
disavow any knowledge of your actions."
    Martin waited for ten seconds before asking, "Aren't you supposed to have
self-destructed by now?"
    "I just about did that with the chili."  He sighed.  "So, what do I do?"
    "Well, you could always say, 'hi.'"
    Doc's eyes went skyward, and his right eyebrow arched.  Then his left one
arched.  Then his right one again.
    "Why not?"
    "Marty, you're talking to someone who, in high school, had virtually no
semblance of a social life whatsoever."
    "Come on, it couldn't been that bad."
    "Lemme put it this way.  All I did was take pictures for the yearbook and
the school newspaper."
    "Oh.  Well, maybe it was that bad."
    "Thank *you* for your support."  he grumbled.
    "No thanks, I don't drink wine coolers."  Martin joked.  "Hey, where are
you going?"  he asked as Doc got out of his chair.
    "The restroom.  Contrary to popular belief, not everyone can drink 6 cups
of soda without some consequences."  Andrea arrived with his salad, and he
asked her where the restroom in question was.  She pointed the way, and he
thanked her.
    Then he froze in his tracks.
    The way to the restroom meant being seen by the same girl he'd gaped at.
    [Okay, okay, no problem,] he told himself.  Just kinda walk through, and
everything'll be all right.  [I mean, it's not like I'm gonna embarass myself
or anything.]
    It was a good plan.  It really was.
    There was just one problem.
    On his way there, he collided with one of the waitresses.  Her tray flew
off towards a table, its contents (more Average Lunch Entrees (tm)) spilled,
landing on the inhabitants.  The waitress herself was flung back a bit before
landing on her rump.
    Or, at least she would have, if Doc hadn't recovered and grabbed her arm
to steady both himself and her.  He had a pretty good sense of balance, not
nearly enough for a gymnast, but he managed.
    After he pulled her to her feet, he mumbled "Sorry about that," and made
a hasty retreat into the men's room.
    [That was rule number one of how *not* to impress a girl,] he thought grim-
    Several minutes later, he made his way back to his table, Martin still
waiting for him, when he heard someone from a table call him over.
    He glanced over to the source to find that it was the same girl he'd been
gawking at.  Wonder what she wanted?  Well, no time like the present (even he
winced at his unspoken joke) to find out.
    "You okay?"  she asked in her pleasant, mellow voice.
    "Uh, yeah, I'm fine."  he stammered.
    "Are you sure?  I mean, you *did* run into her pretty hard."  He blushed
crimson as she covered up her mouth.  "Oops.  Didn't mean it like that,"  she
said, clearly embarassed.
    "Yeah, I'm sure."  Oh, yeah, this is a really great conversation we're
having.  Why don't I just toss myself out an airlock?  At least that'd be more
    "Is there something wrong?"  she asked.  He realized that he'd been
drifting off into la-la land.
    "Uh, no.  I mean..."  Come on, say something!  Don't just stand there
gawking at her!  "I...don't suppose you might want to...maybe..."  [Geez!  I'm
dying out here!]  "...go out with me sometime?"  he finally got out.  "I mean,
a girl like you probably has..."  he mumbled.
    "A girl like me?" she asked cautiously.
    "Pretty, intelligent, and most likely, taken.  So, if you'll permit me a
graceful exit from your life..."  He prepared to walk away when...
    "Hmm?"  He stopped in mid-stride.
    She faltered for a bit before finally settling on, "I'm sorry, but...
what's your name, again?  I didn't quite catch it."
    "Uh, it's Pearson.  Mui."  he said, flustered.
    "So, do I call you Pearson, or Mui, or...?"  she asked with a slight smile
on her face.
    "Just call me Doc.  It's simpler."
    "You're a doctor?"
    "I...was working on it."
    "What made you stop?"
    "Coming here."  he answered truthfully.
    She shook her head, the smile still on her face.  "You're a very...odd
person, Pearson, sorry.  Doc."  she corrected herself.
    "So I've been told."  He wasn't sure what to do next.  He'd never gotten
this far, as most girls refused him.  "So...does this mean we...I mean, if you
want to."
    "Sure.  Is Friday night okay?"
    "Friday's fine.  Uh, what time?"
    "8:00 here."
    "I, uh, I'll be here."  he prepared to walk away when he realized some-
thing.  "Oh, geez, this is so stupid, but..."  he muttered, "I never did get
your name."
    "Keriyn.  Keriyn Ajlond.  Well, I'll see you Friday, then."
    "Uh, yeah."  He just sort of meandered back to his table, Martin still
sitting there.
    "So, how'd it go?"
    Doc paused a bit before answering.  "We have a date on Friday."
    "Well, you're adjusting pretty well.  You've only been here, what, about
two weeks, and you already have a social life."
    "Marty, I've never been on a date before.  What do I do?"
    "Anything but your Columbo imitation."
    "I'm serious."
    "Really?  I thought you were Doc."
    "Gah."  he said, frustrated.
    "You can actually eat that stuff?  Personally, I hate Klingon food."  Mar-
tin said with a slight smirk.
    "Great Scott!"  Doc said in exasperation.
    "There you go!  Now you've got it!"
    He groaned, then began eating his salad, pondering his situation.  He was
effectively immortal, stranded in time for 60 years, unemployed, and only had
the clothes on his back.  There was also the minor fact that he was responsible
for the welfare of a Tyrannosaurus Rex who obeyed his every command.  On top
of that, he had a date with a very pretty girl, who, he was sure, he was bound
to make an idiot of himself in front of.  [Well, things could be worse,]
he told himself.
    [How?]  he asked himself.
    He was so absorbed with this thought that he barely noticed Marty intro-
ducing him to two people.  One was a pretty blonde, the other a tall, dark-
haired man, about 6'2", with hazel eyes, glasses, and a five o'clock
    "Uh, sorry.  I...kinda had some things on my mind."
    "Woolgathering?"  the blonde inquired.
    "Do I look like a sheepherder to you?"  he Eastwooded.
    Somewhat taken aback, she commented to her companion, "He's definitely
been hanging around Hammer too long."
    "You say that like it was a bad thing."
    "ANYways, I didn't quite catch your names?"
    "Well, this is Chris Meadows, and this is Katie Tanner.  Most people call
'em Mako and Temper."
    "Ummm...just for the record, what rank are you two?"
    "Well, Chris is a major, and I'm a captain."  Temper answered.
    "Hmmm....well, now..."  Doc assumed a thoughtful pose.  "I guess that
means that you, Chris, are either several large, open fields, or you're a
really big shark.  As for you, Katie..."  [Hmm...Captain Temper, Captain
Temper...darn, can't mutate that any.]  he smiled, "You're off the hook for
    "....." was all she had to say.
    [Something tells me he's going to fit in okay here.]  Marty commented to

Chapter 5----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Because you never get a second chance to make a first impression."

1755 HOURS
    Doc arrived at Denny's a few minutes early and sat down at an empty table.
He wasn't dressed in his usual ensemble, but was instead clad in a dress shirt,
tie (Can you say "noose?"  I knew you could.), and a nondescript pair of
slacks, courtesy of his new job as a medical assistant for Jenna (read:
gopher).  He leaned his cheek on his fist and sighed.
    "Anything I can get you, Doc?"
    He was momentarily startled, then saw the source of the voice, Andrea.
"Hmm?  Oh, no thanks.  I'm...just waiting for my date."
    She brightened.  "Really?  You lucky guy."
    "I don't feel so lucky right now."
    She stepped closer, concerned.  "How come?"
    "Never been on a date before."
    "So, um,"  he fumbled, "got any last-minute advice?"
    "Well, just one.  Be yourself."
    He smiled slightly.  "Cartoon cliche number two,"  he said.
    "What was that?"
    "`It's so crazy, it just might work.'"
    "Whatever."  she shrugged, then left for the kitchen.
    At that point, Keriyn decided to enter the restaurant.  She was dressed
very modestly in slacks and matching blouse, which complemented her slim figure
very nicely.
    Wow.  His glasses slid down his nose as his eyebrows went to the ceiling.
Doc nervously pushed them back up and waved.
    "Um...hi."  he fumbled.  [Great,] he thought.  [Here she is, dressed
casual as can be while I look like someone from a department store.  Oh, yeah,
this was fun.]
    "This seat taken?"  she asked, indicating the chair in front of him.
    "No, go ahead."  [Great conversation,] he berated himself.  [I'm more
articulate with Rex!]  Then again, he mused, Rex didn't talk back.
    "Thanks."  She sat down, making herself comfortable.  Keriyn gave him the
once over.  "I didn't know you wore ties."
    "Uhh..."  [Relax!]  he told himself.  [Just.  Be.  Yourself.]  He sighed.
Ookay.  "I'm sorry.  I'm still kinda new at all this."
    "At what?"
    "Oh, dating, taking care of a neosaur, time travelling, being immortal,
all that fun stuff."
    "You're a time traveller?"
    "Not entirely of my own free will,"  he squeaked, something he did when
he was under a lot of stress, like when he was taking the ACT.  And now.  Given
the choice between taking the ACT again and this, the test would've been like a
vacation.  "It's not like the movies.  They don't get stuck for twenty years
at a time in Back to the Future."
    She leaned forward.  "And you are?"
    "Yep."  He started tugging at the tie.  Damn thing was like a noose, and
from his experience, it only got worse with stress.
    Thankfully, Andrea intervened.  "So, what can I get you two?"
    After placing their orders, (Keriyn asked him why he ate so little, and
he explained it as a side effect of time travelling.) the conversation loosened
up.  He found her to be very easy to talk to, not to mention extremely patient.
She told him that she worked in the engineering section of the Prometheus, and
how it was a dream of hers to work on such a large ship.
    Whle talking to her, Doc revealed that he had only five hang-ups.  They
were, in no particular order:  Alcohol and drugs, coffee, bigotry, heights,
and bad anime dubs, to which he'd had a great exposure of.  That was,
of course, before certain people on board introduced him to what anime
*should* be like.
    After dinner, the two of them took a lift to the nearest observation
    "Thank you for making a simple elevator very happy."  the lift said as
they exited.  Doc idly wondered if the designer read the Hitchhiker's Guide
to the Galaxy when Keriyn seated herself on a bench facing the window.
    "Y'know, I never get tired of the view."
    "Well, it is kinda humbling,"  he admitted, taking the seat next to her.
    "No, I mean..."  she shook her head, smiling.  "I know how the ship's
engines work.  I can field strip a generator in less than ten minutes.  I can
reroute power from almost anywhere in the system.  Almost nothing about this
ship's propulsion can surprise me.  And yet...I'm still amazed that we're
actually up here.  I'm still amazed that I can see the stars."
    Doc continued to silently stare outside.
    "What do you see out there?"  she asked.
    "My future.  My life."
    "How so?"
    "Well...at first, I thought that I was trapped.  But, y'know, I think
things are looking up."  He smiled.
    By the end of the evening, he walked her to her quarters, relaxed and
without his tie (she said that he looked better without it.).  The whole thing
was like a dream come true.  It was his first date, and absolutely nothing
went wrong.
    "I had a great time, thanks."  Keriyn said.
    They got to her door.  She opened it partway.
    "Well, g'night."
    She was about to enter her quarters when he said, "I, uh, don't suppose
you want to go on another date?"
    "Sure."  she said with a smile.  "What time?"
    What time?  He had no idea.  "Um...let's work that out a little later,
    "Okay."  she said, giving him a peck on the cheek, and then closed the
    Whoa.  [This should be very interesting,] he told himself.
    The door closed, and Keriyn found herself pondering recent events.  Not
even a month onboard, and she'd already made at least a dozen friends.  The
Wedge Rats were certainly an odd bunch, but very good at their jobs, and Doc
was...nice, in a way she couldn't quite pin down.  He was a bit hyperactive
at times, but...she liked him.
    She smiled to herself.  Aric, her older brother, wouldn't have gotten
along with him so well.  He barely got along with his family.  Sullen and
xenophobic, he was almost the exact opposite of her.  She'd found it hard to
believe at times that they were from the same family.
    Collapsing on her bed, she sighed.
    [This could be fun.]

DECEMBER 5, 1997

    Shopping was nothing new to Doc.  Often, he'd used it as an excuse to get
out of the house back on Earth.  However, shopping in a city surrounded by
superhard alloy with a humanized Salusian and a neosaur (which now came up to
his chest) was a little out of his experience.
    You don't mind if I just check out the blouses over there, do you?"
Keriyn asked.
    "No prob.  If you need Rex or me, we'll be out here."  [Catching our
breath,] he added silently.  Keriyn was quite the definition of shop-till-you
    Seating Rex on the bench, they waited.
    A half hour later, with identical expressions on their faces, she emerged
with an armful.  It was quite a sight, actually.  Doc looked very much like
Rodin's statue, the Thinker.  So did Rex.
    He looked to the left.
    So did Rex.
    He looked to the right.
    Same with Rex.
    He rolled his eyes relatively skyward, wondering if he would leap before
she came out of the shop.
    Rex did his best to imitate Doc.
    In fact, whatever move Doc made, Rex copied.  Keriyn brought this to his
    "Yeah, well, as long as I don't do an air guitar routine when he's older,
I think we'll be okay."
    "Aw, come on.  You're still not sore that he's overprotective of me, are
    "Overprotective?  He snapped at me the first time we met!"
    He shrugged (yes, Rex copied this, too).  "He snaps at everyone.  He is
getting better, though."  Almost parentally, he patted the neosaur's head.
    "How's that?"
    "I think he's only bitten someone once in that past week."  He fell silent
for a moment.
    "What's wrong?"
    "I, uh...I'm not sure how to tell you this, but..."
    "But?"  she prompted.
    "Well, I've been thinking about going to UP, joining the WDF for real,
become a doctor, that kinda stuff."
    "You seem a little rushed,"  she observed.  "What's the hurry?  You've got
plenty of time."
    "Yeah, but I..."  he fidgeted.  "I just want to be *useful*.  Besides,
it's always been something of a dream of mine.  No time like the present,
    "Well, if that's what *you* want..."
    "'Course it's what I want."
    She regarded him for a moment.  One of the things that she liked about
him was that you could read his mood a mile away, which was also why he was
such a lousy liar.  Right now, she could tell that he really wanted to go
to UP.
    "When're you leaving?"
    "Oh...I was thinking about taking a shuttle just after New Year's."
    "That soon?"
    "Hey, the sooner, the better."
    An uncomfortable silence descended on them as they perused the mall with
mild interest.
    "Do me a favor, will you?"  Keriyn asked.
    "Yeah?  What's that?"
    "Write me once in a while, okay?"
    He turned to face her with one of his larger grins.  "You got it, 'blue-
    She winced.  "*Please* don't call me 'blue-eyes.'  Somebody might think
you were talking to Sinatra."

DECEMBER 31, 1999

    Doc sighed as he scrolled through the contents of an organic chemistry
manual.  Aldols and ketones and Grignards, oh my!  At the rate he was soaking
up information, it'd be at least another year before he'd graduate and start
on his residency.  [Not bad for being only 26.]  And, in less than a year,
his...special order would be complete.  Confident that he would serve on
the Wayward Son, he decided to return in style.  Wait'll they get a load
of what he had built.
    The New Year's party was pretty much in full swing at Utopia Planitia.
He had, however, isolated himself in his quarters for some much-needed
    [Aahh, heck...if I have to read one more thing about Claisen conden-
sations, I think I'm going to go nuts!  I definitely need some rest.]
    Then he remembered Martin's last e-mail.  It was short, saying that he
should watch the party going on on the SDF-17.  Saving his place in the manual,
he switched to the broadcast and watched.  And watched.
    A chuckle escaped from him.  [Poor Deedlit.]  He suddenly felt very
sorry for Marty.

Chapter 6----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "These things are collector's items, you know."  --Dr. Emmett L. Brown
    "If you want to build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some
style?"  --same guy

    There was absolutely nothing unusual happening on either the Wayward Son
or the sector that it was patrolling.  It was just another day in the life of
the Most Boring Superdimensional Fortress in the Universe.
    That is, of course, if you don't count the three warp distortions off the
port side.  If there were an atmosphere present, they would've come out like
three sonic booms.
    At the third distortion, a craft emerged from its center.  It appeared to
be an ordinary car with gull-wing doors and a steel-gray exterior.  The tires
were folded perpendicularly so that the hubcaps were level with the bottom.
Near the top of the center rear portion was what seemed to be a Mr. Fusion
powerplant.  The Illinois license plate read, "DELOREAN," and indeed it was.
The car stopped just in front of the bridge, and the occupant waved cheerfully.
    Most of the bridge crew groaned when they saw this.  The rest of them
made plans to kill Doc later for carrying this thing a bit far.
    "SDF-17 Wayward Son, this is DeLorean One requesting permission to land,"
the pilot drawled in his best Fighter Jock (tm) imitation.  "I'm direct from
UP with Lord F's permission to join you guys as a sawbones, pilgrim."  he said
in a John Wayneish voice.
    "I'm clearing a docking bay on the Daedalus.  Like you can park it in
number eight, Doc."
    "Thank you very much, shah, you've been very helpful."  Everyone cringed
at Doc's Columbo imitation.  Most people considered it extraordinarily bad,
almost on par with Vogon poetry.
    As soon as Doc landed, he jerked down his uniform jacket, a holdover from
when he wore his green jacket.  The cargo bay repressurized, and he opened the
door, complete with the neat whirring sound that standard DeLoreans didn't
    The elevator door opened behind him, and Martin stepped out.
    "Hi, Doc."  Martin looked at Doc's rank.  "Ensign, huh?"
    "Ayup.  Gotta start somewhere.  Oh, by the way,"  he dug into his pockets,
producing a small holographic chip.  "This girl I met, I think her name was
Noriko or something, told me to give this to you,"  A grin formed on his face,
right-side first, then the left side.  "I wasn't sure if I should salute or
stare first."
    "Thanks."  Martin gave the car the once-over.  "Don't tell me that this
thing has..."
    "A flux capacitor?  Of course it does, Marty!"  he ranted.  "Otherwise,
it wouldn't be authentic.  But, for safety's sake, it's disconnected, and Mr.
Fusion's not powering the time circuits.  I've had enough time travel for a
while."  Doc said, his mood turning a little dark.  "Anyway, she's got a few
tricks up her bumper."
    "Like what?"  Martin asked, feeling like James Bond being briefed on his
new toys.
    "Well, she's got 4 lasers, two in front, two in back.  I've been thinking
about replacing those, they're a little wimpy.  Over here, I've got some
micro-torpedo launchers..."
    "What do you need those for?"
    "If I have some realy hard walnuts lying around, these'll do the job
nicely,"  he joked, dodging a swing from Martin.  "Actually, these suckers are
pretty potent.  This is the strongest thing I've got.  You see these?"  he
asked, indicating two small cannons mounted on the underbody.
    "Yeah.  What are they?"
    "Ion cannons."
    Martin arched an eyebrow.  "Where'd you get those?"
    "Well, let's just say that Lord F's people have seen just about every
weapon around.  To be honest, I was kinda amazed that they even knew what I
was talking about.  These are supposed to be on a Y-Wing, for crying out
loud!  Then again, stranger things have happened.  Handy people they are..."
Doc finished in a Yoda-like voice.
    "You're not that short, Doc."  Martin quipped.
    "I also don't have those big, floppy ears of his.  Okay, now you've got
me started on Star Wars.  All right, picture this,"  he said, setting the
stage.  "Jabba the Hutt in his younger days...after inhaling some helium."
One falsetto "Bo shuda" and some simulated dolphin-like laughter later, Martin
was trying very, very hard not to bust his gut laughing.
    The door opened to admit Edison Bell.
    "Welcome back, Doc."  he said.
    "How's it going?"
    "Everything's..."  he stopped in mid-sentence as he caught a good look at
the car.  "Is that it?"
    "Ayeahp, yeap, yeap.  Whaddya think?"
    Edison gave the car the once-over, inside and out.  "Not bad..."  he
murmured appreciatively.  "I especially like the `NO SCREAMING' sign on the
glove compartment."
    "That was my personal touch,"  Doc smiled.
    "I thought so."
    "What, you drive like a maniac, Doc?"  Marty asked.
    "No, actually, I drive like an old lady.  I just FLY like a maniac."
The smile blossomed into a full-fledged SEG.
    "You obviously haven't seen Haywire in action."
    "He's *that* bad?"
    "Yes."  they both said.

    Not for the first time, Ben wondered exactly how Doc could put up with
Rex.  The tyrannosaur was stubborn, ornery, violent, and quick to be angered.
That was on his good days.  Doc had charged Gryphon with taking care of the
'saur after repeated attempts to fit him into the shuttle to UP failed.
    So, it should come to no one's surprise that he wore CVR-3, tranquilizer
gun drawn and ready, whenever he fed the huge reptile.
    The bay door opened.
    "Better keep your distance,"  Ben warned, not looking back.  "This guy is
    "Gee, I couldn't tell."  Doc nonchalantly walked up to the 'saur, who was
still growling at Ben.  "You forgot about me already, Rex?"
    In less time than it takes to tell, Rex's personality did a 180, much to
Ben's surprise.  He'd known that the neosaur was loyal to Doc, but this was
going one step further.  It bordered on a parent-child relationship.  Of
course, Rex was atypical in just that regard.  The other tyrannosaurs had more
of a grudging loyalty to their "friends."
    "How's it going big guy?"
    The tyrannosaur rumbled contently, kneeling to nuzzle against his friend.
    "Yeah, I missed you too."  Doc said while patting the area near Rex's
nostrils.  "So, how's he been treating you?"
    "You see this?"  Gryphon indicated his CVR-3.
    "Oh.  Anyone get hurt?"
    "A couple of guys tried petting him on a dare."
    Ben cautiously holstered the tranq gun.  "Jenna tells me that their
hands are regenerating pretty well."
    "Ah ha."  Doc turned to Rex.  "Y'know, big guy, we need to talk about
your temper."  Something occurred to him.  "You didn't say KWEP to him, did
you?"  Doc asked, spelling out the word.
    "No,"  he replied.  "I'm not suicidal."  KWEP was a little command for
when all hell broke loose.  It stood for Kill With Extreme Prejudice.  It was
like watching someone being dropped into a food processor to be chopped,
pureed, and liquified within ten seconds.  Cheery thought, huh?
    "BTW, Doc."
    "Welcome back."  Gryphon said, walking towards the exit, more than a
little relieved that Rex wouldn't be so out of control.  Hopefully.
    In his quarters, Doc did what he always did when he had something on his
mind.  He turned on the stereo and put on some Billy Joel.  He'd missed being
onboard the Wayward Son, oddly enough.
    Rex wasn't the only one he'd missed when he was at UP getting his
doctor's degree.  He somehow managed to keep in contact with Marty and Keriyn,
even though he'd been taking courses that effectively compressed four years of
med school into two years.  It was odd, though, he thought.  He always got the
courses he needed at the time he needed them.  Tutoring managed to show up just
when he needed it.  It was like...someone had arranged for everything during
his years at UP.
    He shook his head.  [Nah.  I'm getting paranoid in my young age.  It's
probably just a streak of good luck.]
    The door chimed its dum-de-dum-dum tone.  Doc turned off the stereo.
    Hiss.  "Hey, Keri.  What's up?"
    "Oh, not much.  Geez, this place is pretty spartan, don't you think?"  she
    "Yeah, well...what can I say?  I never was very big on collecting things.
No, that's a lie,"  he corrected.  "Actually, all my good stuff is still at
    "On earth."  she finished the statement.
    He sighed.  "Yup."
    She nonchalantly walked over to the stereo and ejected the CD.  "Billy
Joel?"  she inquired.  "You weren't angsting, were you?"
    "Moi?  Angst?"  he straddled his fingers over his chest.  "Keriyn, you
wound me to the quick.  I never angst."
    "All right, what do you call it?"
    He smiled.  "A comprehensive contemplation of past, present, and future
    "Uh huh."  she replied, not very convinced.  "Well, it's been almost
three years since we've seen each other.  What do you think of my new
hairstyle?"  she asked, indicating the ponytail which was kept to one side for
    "It makes you look like Kasumi Tendo."
    "Trust me on this.  That's a Good Thing (tm)."  [I've gotta show her my
Ranma 1/2 collection one of these days.]
    "So, um...you want to maybe have a...welcome back hug?"
    "I dunno.  Do I?"
    "C'mere, you..."  They embraced, and they found that they had a minor
problem before them.
    "Um...I dunno how to tell you this, but..."
    "What?  What is it, Pearson?"
    "I don't wanna let go."
    "Me either."
    "Boy, this is a problem, isn't it?"
    "Not for me."
    Doc blushed somewhat.
    "Ack.  Okay.  On the count of three.  One...two..."
    "Two and a half..."
    "Three!"  They separated, then stood there with embarassed looks on their
faces.  It was Keriyn who spoke first.
    "I've...gotta go.  Welcome back."  she punctuated that last part with a
quick peck on the cheek and was off.
    Doc stood there with a silly grin on his face for the next two hours.


    "There'd better be a good reason for interrupting my meditation, Marty."
Doc groused as he followed the taller man through a corridor.
    "Is that what you call it?  Seems to me you were sleeping."
    "There's a difference.  When I'm sleeping, my mind wanders.  When I'm
meditating, my mind is focused."
    Marty looked at him dubiously.
    "Okay, okay, I was dozing."  The two arrived at cargo bay 7.  "So,
what's the big deal, exactly?"
    "Go inside and find out."
    Doc eyed the door suspiciously.  "If this is one of your jokes..."  he
mumbled as he entered.
    The bay was pitch black, and he was not amused as the door closed behind
    [I'm gonna kill 'im.]
    A bright spotlight shone right on him.
    Gah!  "Turn down the high-beams, bub!"  he shouted.
    The intense light abated somewhat, and he swore that he could hear music.

I was feelin' so bad
I asked my family doctor just what I had
I said doctor (doctor!)
Mister M. D. (doctor!)
Will you please tell me, what's ailin' me (doctor!)
He said yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
(yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!)

    The lights slowly came on, and he could make out some people crowded into
the bay.  Located on a table was a cake with the words, "HAPPY 23rd (or is it
28th?)  BIRTHDAY DOC," a joke referring to his current situation.
    If you had asked Doc earlier what kind of birthday party he wanted, he
would've said, "something inconspicuous."
    This was *not* inconspicuous.
    [Oh, yeah,] he thought.  [I'm definitely gonna kill 'im.  If it takes me
a thousand tries, I'm gonna get back at him for this.]
    "Yeah, Doc?"  Martin asked, an impudent smile on his face.
    "There are two things keeping me from hurting you really really badly
right now."
    "Like what?"
    "Number one, there're too many witnesses."
    "And the second?"
    Doc turned to face Martin, a grin evident.  "I don't beat up old men."
    "And dooon't you forget it, sonny boy."  He drawled, imitating Quick-Draw
    [Sonny boy?]  He would have protested, but quickly gave up.  After all,
he was going to be the older one when he came back from leaping.

    It would be safe to say that Doc's mood upon returning to the ship was...
somewhat less than serious.  Okay, so he tended to be a total wacko (Yakko and
Dot!).  He could, however, drop the goofy attitude, if necessary.  However, it
wasn't really all that often that he wanted to.
    Case in point...
    One time, Jenna was examining a couple of samples under a microscope.
    "Doc, can you hand me that dish over there?  No, the amber one."  As soon
as the words left her mouth, she had a pretty good idea of what was going to
    Almost immediately, Doc took the sample and assumed his "hunchback mode,"
even going so far as to get in an occasional slurping sound.
       "Yess Jenna..."  he cackled maniacally for effect as he lurched (You
rang?) his way towards her.
    She nonchalantly looked up and took the proferred sample dish from him.
    "Where's your hump?"  she asked.
    "Went to a chiropractor," he replied in his normal (well, usual, anyway)
    The door to Sickbay hissed open, and in about .5 seconds, he straightened
up to his full height, amazingly without cracking his back.
    Asrial, Queen of Salusia, strode in with an aura of both regality and
poise.  An exasperated-looking aide followed her seconds later, panting and
    "Your highness, you *know* that you're not supposed to..."
    "Am I interfering with ship's business?  I simply wanted a look.."  she
looked directly at Doc, a faint smile appearing as she seemed to remember
    "Doc," she said finally.  "It's been a while."
    "It has?"  his eyebrows rising slightly.
    "Yes, it has.  A couple of years ago, you popped out of nowhere into
Quagmire and asked me what day it was."
    "I did?"
    "Of course you did.  After I told you, you just hopped into your car and
flew off."
    She gave him a puzzled look.  "You don't remember?"
    "Uh, well, it'll probably come back to me."  he stammered.
    "Your highness..."  the aide whispered with a hint of impatience.  Okay,
so it was more like a lot of impatience.  "The shuttle leaves in less than five
    "All right, all right,"  she turned to Doc.  "It was good to see you
again.  Although...I think you look better with the wireframes."
    [Wireframes?  Since when did I wear wireframes?]  "Um...yeah."  he replied,
less than confident.  She and her stressed-out aide left.
    "You know her?"  Jenna asked.
    "I've never met her before in my life."

    "So, you're a Praxian, huh?"  he asked the brawny woman on the medbed.
    "Yes.  So?"
    "So, I was just wondering...how do you ladies manage your population?"
    "The children emerge from the Whaashi..."
    "I beg your pardon?"
    The usual silence of Sickbay was shattered as groans broke out from
various patients.  They obviously hadn't been expecting something *that* bad.
    Turning towards Jenna she asked, "Is your assistant always like this?"
    "Sadly, yes."

Chapter 7----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "I've got better things to do tonight than die."  --Springer
    "Of course you know, this means...a skirmish."  --Fenton Crackshell

SATURDAY, MAY 22, 2001
    [This was not good,] Doc thought to himself as he dodged yet another volley
of particle beam fire.  He made for cover behind a nearby rock as he reflected
on how he got into this mess.
    The planet of Tarskon V needed immediate medical assistance for a plague,
something that made bubonic plague back on Earth look like a kid's cold.  It
didn't have much strategic importance, but it did have a considerable amount
of geothermal energy.
    No problem there.
    Simutaneously, however, there was a Salusian convoy being attacked by the
Kilrathi, and the Wayward Son's firepower was desperately needed.  So, MegaZone
ordered the Prometheus to separate and fold to Tarskon V for help while the
rest of the Son went for the convoy.  Jenna remained on the Son while Doc
volunteered for duty on the Prometheus.
    Still no problem there.
    The Prometheus landed without incident and, after separating himself from
an overprotective Rex (who'd by now taken residence in a cargo bay due to his
sheer size), went outside to treat the natives.  They were humanoid, but talked
with a strange lisp.  However, they were genetically close enough to human that
dealing with the plague was no big deal.
    Then, a Kilrathi fleet folded in and decided to massacre the population.
    Big problem.
    What was worse was that some of their light cruisers were landing, and
their marines came out, killing everyone in sight.
    Big, big problem.
    To top it all off, he was separated from the Prometheus, and unarmed.  If
he had his DeLorean, he would've been gone already, or at least given them a
semblance of a fight.  As it was, he was just a sitting Doc.  Duck.  [Argh, I
can't believe I thought that!]
    [Oh yeah, I'm having fun here.  Not really.]
    Was there *anything* he could use as a weapon?  he wondered.  Lemme see,
now...wallet, train ticket, deck of cards, medical kit, communicator (now
useless because the felines were jamming everything)...nope, nothing useful.
    He recoiled as a particle beam nearly parted his hair above the left
temple.  [Oops, time for some better cover.]  He scrambled to a larger rock
next to him.  [Great, I should have worn some CVR-3.  But noooo, it's a simple
medical drop,] he berated himself.  [What could possibly go wrong?]
    He stewed like this for a few seconds until he saw something lobbed over
his head.  They were two small objects, almost twice as big as your average
tennis ball, and they were headed towards the oncoming commandos.  At about
the same time, he felt someone push him down roughly into the dirt.
    "Get down!"  a voice hissed in his ear.
    A few seconds later, the objects exploded, releasing a series of blinding
flashes and what sounded like (or rather, felt like) being at ground zero of
several sonic booms.
    Another object arced its way towards the disoriented commandos, and they
were in no condition to respond, having been blinded and deafened by the first
attack.  This one bounced into the center of the group before exploding, and
they all dropped down, seemingly dead.
    Doc felt the pressure on his back ease off, and he cautiously peered over
his cover.  Whoever had been behind him was long gone.  A little disheartened,
Doc cautiously ventured out to the plain where the small Kilrathi army lay.
Taking out a medical scanner, he examined the group to find something
    They were all unconscious.  Several needle-like flechettes protruded from
the armor and fur.  They hadn't been thrown out fast enough to do any real
damage to them, just enough so that the flechettes were buried under the skin.
What was on the needles appeared to be a large, but nonlethal dose of tran-
    Doc gathered the weapons and communications gear.  Trying his
communicator, he began giving instructions for picking up the unconscious
Kilrathi.  The Prometheus had just driven off the Kilrathi ships, and sent
someone to his location.
    Two minutes later, an ungainly vehicle arrived, and they loaded the
felines, sans weapons and their other gear, on.  Five minutes after they left,
someone popped his head not ten feet from where Doc had been holed up in.  He
took off his glasses and wiped some sweat off them.  He let out a long, slow
    "That was the closest I ever want to cut it."  Doc2 said as he rose to
retrieve the stun grenades.  They were the average flash-and-bang models,
seeing as how the more effective neural disruptors wouldn't come along for
another few hundred years.
    Unfortunately, in his future (or in his past, whichever way you want to
look at it,), he'd have to come a *lot* closer if history was to remain the
way he remembered it.
    He retrieved both grenades and went to his vehicle, a slightly more worn
DeLorean.  It'd been upgraded at various times, the most recent being in late
2388, with an advanced (for 2001 standards) cloaking device and sturdier
shields.  It still retained the hard-mounted micro-photon torpedo launchers
and the ion cannons from the vehicle's creation.  They'd saved his life more
than once, not to mention disabled more than his share of enemy vehicles, the
only perverse pleasure he'd ever admit to having.  [Good thing I sent it back
to myself.]  He'd needed it during that time when he went dimension hopping.
He winced at the memories of that time.  [Forget about that.]  Sure, there
were a few good times then, but the majority of his displacements were pretty
    He dug around his pockets and presented what appeared to be a remote
keyless entry device.  Pressing the UNLOCK key, the car shimmered into view,
and he entered.
    Converting the car for flight mode, he blasted off, unseen.  The Prome-
theus's sensors were just as advanced as the rest of the tech on the Wayward
Son.  However, with the DeLorean cloaked, it would be a few centuries before
technology could catch up to him.
    When the Wayward Son returned, Doc had the plague under control and an
entire platoon of Kilrathi soldiers in captivity.  As the Prometheus recon-
nected to the main body of the Son, he reported what happened to MegaZone.
    "So you're telling me that somebody saved you, and you have no idea who?"
he asked, with more than a little bit of disbelief.
    "Ayup.  I feel pretty lucky."  Doc said in a passable Gary Cooper
imitation.  His expression then took on a more serious note.  "But, y'know,
a few things are bothering me."
    "Like what?"
    "So who the heck threw those grenades?  And how did whoever threw them
know so much about Kilrathi physiology?"  The tranquilizer he'd found on the
needles had been very species-specific.
    Zoner ruminated for a bit before answering.  "I have no idea," he finally
said.  "But it sounds like you've got somebody keeping an eye on you."
    "I can take care of myself."  Doc said.

    Cruising outside the Tarskon system, Doc2 grimaced to himself as he
remembered the remark his younger self made.  [Boy, was I really that cocky
when I was younger?]  he wondered.  [Yeah, I guess I was.]

    Zoner tabbed the intercom.  "Any luck finding out why those Kilrathi were
attacking?"  he asked.
    "Nope,"  a voice piped through.  "They just sit in their cells and spit
    "Yeah, that sounds about right,"  Zoner agreed.  They'd had the same
experience with other captured Kilrathi.  "Well, if they say anything, let me
know, okay?"
    "Gotcha."  The security guard said, closing the channel.
    A slow, mischievious smile lit up Doc's face.  It was not a pretty sight.
    "Permission to interrogate the prisoners?"
    "Sure, but I don't we're going to get much out of them."
    "Oh, I think I have a way to make those cats sing."
    "No torture."  Zoner warned.
    "Moi?"  Doc asked innocently, straddling his fingers across his chest.
"Perish the thought.  I'm just going to introduce them to Lieutenant Columbo."
he said, striding out of the office.

Chapter 8----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Ah, just one more question, it won't take a moment..."  --Lt. Columbo

    Doc was met with a bit of surprise when he entered the brig for two
reasons.  First of all, it wasn't that all that often that he went there.
The second reason was because of his attire.  Instead of his usual uniform or
green jacket combo, he arrived in a dress shirt with a loosely knotted bright
green tie, covered by a very rumpled raincoat.  Adorning his head was a
ridiculously white fishing hat.
    "Uh, Doc?"
    "Yes, shah?"  he replied in a semi-obscured voice.
    The guards cringed.
    "What's with the get-up?"
    "It'sh, uh..."  he fumbled absent-mindedly  "what was it again?"  he
mumbled incoherently.  "It'sh to get me in the mood for asking our guests
    "You want one of us to stay here?"  One guard asked.
    "Weeeellllllll...no.  No, I don't think so."  Doc replied thoughtfully.
    The guards sighed in relief as they turned to leave.
    "Oh, just one more thing, shah."
    "Yeah?  What's that?"
    "It, uh...shouldn't take more than five minutes.  I mean, you don't like
the way I sound right now...but..."  he grinned maliciously.  "It'll be worse
when I talk to the cats."
    The guards hurried out of the brig.  This was going to be a massacre.
    "Ah, excuse me, shah?  Yes, you with the fur and the tail."
    "I have nothing to say to you."
    "Weeeeellllllll...you really don't have to say much.  Just let me do all
the talking."
    Five minutes later...
    "Yeah, Doc?"
    "I think someone wants to talk to MegaZone."  He replied in his usual
voice with a SEG on his face.
    The two entered to find the platoon leader in a frenzied state.  His fur
stood out in obvious agitation.
    "PLEASE!  If you have ANY mercy, GET THIS MAN AWAY FROM ME!"
    "What happened to the Kilrathi determination?"  One guard quipped.
    "I would rather be flayed alive and branded a traitor than to listen
to this man for FIVE MORE MINUTES!"
    "Yeah, that's the way *we* feel about Doc's imitations at times, too."
    "Hey, they're not *that* bad, are they?"
    Both guards and the platoon leader glared at him.
    "Ookay, maybe they *are* that bad."  he admitted.

    "A genetically engineered plague virus?"  MegaZone asked.
    "Yes,"  the platoon leader, whose name he revealed to be K'radakh
Blacktail.  "It was released into the water table several days ago.  The
few who were not infected would have been...dealt with."
    "Not very subtle."  Gryphon murmured, almost to himself.
    "No, but it would have been effective.  Once the inhabitants were
eliminated, we would have set up a waypoint station here."
    "Why the sudden change of heart?"
    "Your physician is most...persuasive."  Blacktail cringed at what
inane banter he remembered.
    "Unbelieveable,"  Zoner commented.  "Take him away.  And get Doc over

    "Yes sha?"  At his cringing, Doc hastily cleared his throat and started
again.  "Yeeessss?"
    MegaZone looked skyward and wondered, [Why me?]  That, however, didn't
stop him from telling Doc why he was here.
    "Good job on the plague.  I...what is it with that fishing hat?"
    "Oh, this?  I used to have one just like it.  Had some fun times before
Grandma stuck it in the wash and shrunk it.  Hmm...I seem to have embarked on
a tangent.  Oh, well, could be worse.  I could've gone for a cosine.  Then
again, I'm not going for a lease or anything."
    The only sound in the room was that of a low groan.  When that ceased, he
presented Doc with a small case.
    "What's this?"
    "Open it."
    He did, and was more than a little amazed to find a pair of Lieutenant's
bars inside.
    "A gah, geh, gah...bweh?"  Doc uttered oh-so-coherently.
    "Congratulations, Lieutenant."  Zoner returned to the report on his desk.
    Doc stepped out of the office in a sort of stupor.  He wasn't quite sure
where he was going, but before he knew it, he had made his way past Martin
    "Hey, Doc.  What's with the..."  the sentence was cut off as he
recognized the contents and smiled.  "Ah, just got promoted?"  he asked with a
sly smile.
    "Geh..."  Shakeshakeshake.  "Uh, yeah.  I guess so."  The shorter man
examined the bars.  "I'm not dealing, I'm not dealing..."
    "That's okay, I'll deal.  I'll just need a deck of cards."
    Doc groaned and took a swing at him.  Naturally, he missed.

Chapter 9----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "You've not thinking fourth-dimensionally!"  --Emmett L. Brown
    "Yeah, I have a real problem with that."  --Martin McFly

FEBRUARY 4, 2002

    "Hey, Marty.  How's it going?"
    "Not bad.  You actually have some free time?"
    "Scary, isn't it?"  Doc walked over to a nearby booth to find an exact
duplicate of his car.  "Jee-zus quack...when'd you put this in?"
    "About a week ago.  Want to give it a shot?"
    He considered it.  It might be fun, being a sim and all.  "That depends.
does this thing travel through time?"
    "Officially, no."  The taller man let out a smirk.  "Then again, neither
does yours, officially."
    "Ah."  A big SEG formed on his face.  "Plug me in!"
    Doc climbed into the chamber.  It was an exact match, all right, right
down to the sign on the glove compartment which read, "No screaming zone."
    "Okay, I'm gonna hook you into another sim.  Get ready..."
    Doc buckled his seat belt and prepared himself.  He was ready for almost
    Anything, that is, except for a VF-1S Super Valkyrie charging right
toward him.
    He turned around and gunned the pedal.  No dice.  The DeLorean may have
been quick, but it was in no way a match for the cream of the WDF.  He was
outgunned, big time.
    The Valkyrie launched several missiles at him.  Firing his rear lasers,
he managed to detonate three but two found their mark.
    WHUMP!  Oy.  This is not fun.  The rear shields were down to 30%, and the
Valkyrie was still gaining on him.
    Hmm...let's see how accurate this sim is.  Activating the security checks,
a flash of red illuminated his left eye.  A gauge on the screen read, ID OK.
Flipping the time-circuit control lever on, the displays lit up.  He inputted
the destination time to be about eight seconds from now (it would've taken
seven to slow down to 88 mph).  At the same time, he began to brake, his speed
decreasing steadily.
    The Valkyrie slowed down, too.  It wasn't about to fall for something
seen in "Top Gun."
    The speedometer read 88 mph.
    At this point, several things happened.
    The DeLorean disappeared in a flash of light, leaving behind a pair of
fire trails.
    The Valkyrie, momentarily confused, cruised right by.
    Exactly one second later, the DeLorean reappeared, behind the Valkyrie,
and began hosing it with lasers, micro-photon torps, and the blue-white javel-
ins that were its trademark, ion cannons.
    The Valkyrie had taken a good deal of punishment when it turned around
to counterattack with lasers of its own.  However, the ion bolts did their
job.  The systems onboard the Valkyrie were shutting down, disrupted.  It
wasn't anytime too soon, because Doc's hull integrity was down to 15%.
    "WA ha ha ha ha ha haaa!  YES!"  Doc yelled triumphantly, at the same time
that someone vented their frustrations.
    [Uh-oh.  I know that voice.]  His smile faded abruptly as he stepped out
of the cockpit to meet his opponent:  Kei Morgan.
    "Ummm...hi, Kei."  he said sheepishly, with an equally sheepish grin on
his face.
    She glared at him with her brown eyes.  "You cheated."
    "Moi?"  he asked disbelievingly.  "I never cheat.  I just make the most
of what I have available."
    She held her glare.  [Geez, that's a nice shade of brown.]  Doc commented
to himself.
    "..and as I recall, there's nothing against using time-travel in that
manner, right?"  Of course he was right.  No one had ever conceived of taking a
time machine into battle before.  Then again, no one had ever thought of
putting warp drive on a time machine.
    "You've gotta admit, Kei...it was creative."  Marty observed.
    She turned her gaze towards him.  "*You* created the sim, didn't you?"
    He shrugged nonchalantly, as if she wasn't about to hurt him badly.  "Hey,
it could happen."
    Kei shook her head in disgust.  "I don't believe you guys."
    The two men exchanged a quick glance.  It was Doc who started by saying,
"Believe it..."
    "...or not."  Martin finished, both in really bad Jack Palance
    Kei decided to beat a hasty retreat before one of them started doing
one-arm pushups.
    "Marty..."  Doc said in a familiar hoarse voice.
    "Yeah, Doc?"
    "She's got to learn to think fourth-dimensionally."
    "How did I know you were going to say that?"
    "Hey, you gave me the nickname.  I'm just living up to it."

Chapter 10---------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Immortality is no excuse for not seeing your doctor."  --Doc

MAY 15, 2002

    "Hey, what brings you here, Katie?"  Doc asked.
    "Annual checkup.  I don't get it, I'm a Detian..."
    "So, uh, what's your point?"  he asked in a nasal tone.
    "So why do we have to have these physicals anyway?"  she asked sulkily.
    "Being immortal doesn't mean you'll be eternally healthy.  It just means
you'll live a long, long time.  Personally, though, I don't think anybody
except Vaughn and Edison are really immortal.  Anyway, I digress."
    "Look, could you make it fast?  I've gotta fly patrol in a half hour."
    "Aye aye, Major.  Ah'm doin' the best ah can, but if ah go too fast, ah
might muck up the results,"  he smiled, falling out of the Scotty voice.
"Then you might have to come in here again."
    "Do you get some kind of cheap power thrill out of doing this?  And how
come Jenna isn't conducting the checkups?"
    "Two years of my life isn't cheap,"  he replied.  "And Jenna's checking
up something on some hush hush project.  I dunno, I don't have Umbra clearance
or anything like that."  he mumbled as he drew the sensor from the tricorder
in a practiced motion.
    Upon sweeping the sensor across her, he raised an eyebrow.  This was some-
thing new.
    "So, when's the blessed event?"
    "What do you mean?"
    "Well, it says here that you're preggers."
    Her eyes bugged out.  "WHAT??  You'd better check that again, Doc."
    He scanned himself and frowned at the results.
    "Well?"  she asked, somewhat impatiently.
    "Well, it says here that I'm in pretty good health,"  he paused for
effect.  "Good health, that is, for a Denebian slime devil."
    She stifled a chuckle.
    "Very funny."  he said semi-sulkily.  He then proceeded to execute rule
number one of malfunctioning equipment.
    He smacked his hand against the sensor.
    Like magic, his readings changed from a Denebian slime devil back to a
youngish Human-Detian.
    "Ah, there it goes."  Blood pressure's a bit on the high side, but
everything else was relatively normal.  [Hmm...Wonder why the scanner
fouled up like that?  I'd better run a diagnostic on this thing after
I'm through with Temper.]
    "Well, lassie, as far as ah can tell, ye're as fit as a fiddle."
    "I could've told you that."
    "But would I listen?"  he asked.
    "NOOOO!"  they completed at the same time.
    "Hmmm...I get the feeling I've said that before."
    "So, can I get out of here?"  she asked.
    Doc made several impatient shooing gestures.  "Outski.  Amscray.  Away, o
ye of superior rank."
    She almost chuckled.  "You got that right,"  she said as she hopped off
the medbed.
    "Ah, but who's more qualified for open-heart?" he asked, knowing the
    "Gee, I wonder."
    [Nice girl.]  he thought as she left Sickbay.  [Now, about that
diagnostic...]  Tapping a few keys, he checked the circuits.  [This is weird.
There's nothing wrong with this thing.]

Chapter 11---------------------------------------------------------------------

         Baby hold on to me
         Whatever will be will be
         The future is ours to see
         When you hold on to me
                                  --Eddie Money, "Baby Hold On"

JULY 15, 2002

    Doc paused in front of Keriyn's quarters.  Yesterday, she received a
personal message from Salusia.  Nobody knew what it was about, but it
obviously had an unsettling effect on her, since she had sequestered herself
for the last few hours.  She even requested personal leave, which was unusual
because almost nothing short of a particle beam would get her to leave her
shift early.
    And here he was, wondering what was going on.
    He rang the doorbell.
    "Who is it?"
    "It's me."
    A pause.  "Come on in."
    He did.  The place was neat and orderly, much like the person who
inhabited it, with the exception of several suitcases on the floor.  She came
out of the bedroom.
    "I, uh, was just wondering how you were doing..."  he began, until he saw
her in the light.
    She had dark rims under her eyes, and the eyes themselves were red,
either from lack of sleep or crying (perhaps both).  Her movements, usually so
at ease with her environment, seemed tentative, almost timid.  Something was
definitely wrong.
    "What's the matter?"  he asked gently.
    "Oh, nothing.  Nothing at all,"  she lied clumsily.  "I just decided I
needed some time off and..."  she looked into his eyes and saw both the slight
tinge of disbelief and the genuine concern there.
    "You...wanna tell me about it?"
    She made a feeble attempt to smile.  "I never could lie to you, could I?"
    He shook his head.
    "C'mon, Ker.  Talk to me, huh?"
    She sat in a nearby chair and gestured for him to do the same.  She
sighed, not really sure where to start.
    "It's...my father."
    "Something wrong with him?"
    "He's dead."
    Doh!  Score one for Mr. Sensitivity, here!  "I...I'm sorry."  was all he
could manage.
    She waved him off.  "It's okay.  I'm going to the service."
    "Is there anything I can do to help?"
    "Well,"  she said after some deliberation, "Could you help me get a
    "Tell you what.  I'll go one better.  You want me to take you there?  My
car's pretty fast.  We'd be there in..."  he ran some figures through his
head "about 4 hours at warp 5.  Is that okay?"
    "Y-you don't have to do that, you know."  she stammered.
    "'S no big deal.  What the hey, I've got some leave time coming up,
    "Thanks."  she said quietly, and gave him a hug.
    "So...when do we leave?"

JULY 16, 2002

    "Wayward Son, this is DeLorean One, destined for Salusia.  Request
permission to depart."
    "Like you're clear, Doc."
    "Thaank you..."  Doc converted the car for flight mode and punched the
gas pedal, laughing maniacally all the way.  The car went into warp not thirty
seconds into flight.
    The inside of the car was surprisingly roomy considering its cramped-
looking exterior, Keriyn noticed.  Whoever designed this put a lot of thought
into it.  The warp engines were pretty standard, though.
    "Y'know, I'm kinda surprised that you didn't go to the biosculpt tanks for
this kind of thing."  he admitted.  "I thought that you were supposed to be
in your normal form."
    "Too much trouble."  she replied, a bit abruptly.
    [Ookay, let's try another subject.]  "So, is this going to be a drop-off
deal, or do I hang around for a while?"
    "Well, after we land at Cheltopolis Central, you can pretty much do
whatever you want."
    Four hours later, they landed on Salusia, and the two of them took
a landcar to her home.
    [The old family spread, huh?]  Doc thought to himself.  [Nice place.]
    Indeed it was.  It was moderately spacious with an ample front yard and an
equally ample backyard.  They got out of the landcar.  She trudged forward,
dreading what was to come.  He followed, more for her sake than anything else.
    Ding dong.  The door opened to reveal a dark-furred Salusian with less-
than-trusting eyes.
    "Yes?"  His eyes narrowed.  "Oh, it's *you*."
    "Aric,"  she began tiredly, "I really don't need this right now..."
    "I'm sure you don't."  he replied, every word dripping with sarcasm.
"Who's the monkey boy?  New pet, or just something you grabbed on the way?"
    "`Monkey boy?'"  Doc mouthed out.  [Already, I don't like this guy.]
    "Well, speak up, boy,"  Aric continued.  "You *are* intelligent enough to
speak, aren't you?"
    [Why, I oughta...]  He stopped himself.  This was no way for a WDF offi-
cer to act.  [Just smile and make nice with the jerk.]  he reminded himself,
resisting the growing urge to break the guy's nose.
    "I'm Lt. Pearson Mui, M.D.  I just came along for the ride."  he said in
as diplomatic a voice as he could muster.
    "Oh, so you're one of those Wedge quacks, huh?"  He turned to Keriyn.  "I
must admit that your taste in men is improving, although..."  he gave Doc the
once-over, "I really wish you could have picked someone better-looking."
    ["Quack," am I?]  Doc fumed.  Even Keriyn could see some major storm
clouds floating above his head.
    "Aric," she began in a most patient tone, "either let us in now, while
you're still standing, or we'll come in when you're face down on the floor."
    [Whoof!  She's really ticked off!]  Doc thought.
    She continued, "I didn't come here to put up with your small-minded
thinking.  I'm here because of..."
    "...our father, I know."  For once, he actually looked something other
than sarcastic, even sorrowful.  It was a definite improvement.  "Well, I
suppose you could come in, even though you belong more with *him* than with
any of your own kind..."
    "'Scuse me, but what was that crack about?!"
    "Pearson, don't..."  she whispered, but it was futile.  He'd had enough
of Aric's crap.
    "Y'know, I thought that racism was on the way out.  Oh, sure, maybe I'm a
little idealistic, but it's better than stewing in your own bitterness.  Hell,
I don't even know *why* you're acting this way, and to be honest, I really
don't care!  From what I can see, you're an arrogant, bigoted waste.  You're a
poor excuse for a Salusian.  No, forget that!  You're a poor excuse for a
SENTIENT BEING!  If I were to compare you to a Regulan blood worm on redeeming
traits, the blood worm would come on top!"  Pearson's teeth were clenched, his
eyes seemed ready to go through his glasses, and there seemed to be a vein in
his temple that was bulging somewhat.
    He was not happy.  Not at all.
    "Are you finished, yet?"  she asked.
    "Yeah.  Yeah, I guess I am."  Sheepishly, he turned to face her.  "I, uh--
I'll find a place to stay for a while."
    "That...might be a good idea."  she said awkwardly as he left.
    "Nice company you keep."  Aric commented acidly.
    She returned the comment with a glare that could probably burn through
tritanium.  A minor miracle happened.
    Aric actually shut up.

    He found a nice hotel not too far away.  Fatigued, he prepared to slump
onto the rather comfy bed when the door chimed.
    "Urrghh..."  [Whoever that is had better have a good reason for this.
Otherwise, I am going to hurt them really really badly.]  Reluctantly, he
pulled himself off the bed and lurched to the door.
    "Yea--Oh, hi, Keri,"  he said, his mood brightening almost instantly.
"Ummm...what brings you here?"
    "I just wanted to see how you were doing."  [Gee, that line sounds
    "Me?  Oh, uh, I'm doing okay."  [Let her in, lamebrain.]  "Uhh...come on
    [Might as well get to the point.]  "Look, I had no right to start yelling
at your brother like that."
    "Well, he can be a bit...trying at times."  she said with a great deal of
    "Family.  Go fig.  What's the old saying?  `You can choose your
    She smiled.  "That pretty much applies to him.  He never has been very
open-minded about things.  But, he is my elder."
    "Sure doesn't act like it, though."  he muttered.  "Anyways...can I get
you some room service or some..."  he trailed off as he noticed the moisture
brimming in her eyes.
    "Okay, maybe room service isn't quite ri-YIGHT!"  Doc exclaimed as he was
drawn into a hug.  "OwnotsohardlemmegoIcan'tbreathe..."  he croaked, feeling
his ribs strain.  The pressure lessened somewhat, and he heard her quiet sobs
muffled by his jacket.
    [What now?]  he asked himself.  He'd always pictured her as a strong-
willed person, ready to take on any adversity.  Now, she'd been hit hard in the
place that really hurt.  Obviously, she and her father had been very close to
each other.  The question remained:  What was he going to do?
    The answer came to him, rather ludicrous in its simplicity:  Just be there
for her.
    Awkwardly, he put his hands around her and comforted Keriyn as best he
    "Keri, I..."  he faltered.  Somehow, words were totally...inadequate
right now.  He just held her close.

Chapter 12----------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Some people are in the wrong place at the wrong time."  --Anonymous

    It was a week after the funeral, and Doc and Keriyn were still on Salusia,
relatively enjoying what was left of their two-week vacation.  Relatively,
because Keriyn seemed to be in something of a rut.  On more than one occasion,
he almost literally had to drag her out of the family house.  He, of all
people, could understand what she was going through, having lost his grand-
father in August of '92, but he just couldn't stand seeing her mope around the
    [At least the worst was over.]  he thought.  That first night, they were
talking and she suddenly burst into tears for no reason at all.  Over the last
week, the crying sessions decreased, and last night, he thought he saw her
smiling, if only slightly.  That was a Good Thing (tm).
    In a small corner of his mind, he was amazed at how much he found he
cared for her.
    So, on a sunny day, they decided, on a whim, to see off Ambassador Jeremy
Feeple on a goodwill tour of the Zardon Empire.  Of course, with a popular
figure like Feeple, there was bound to be something of a crowd.  How big of a
crowd?  Try half of Cheltopolis's population.
    Fortunately, they managed to get there semi-early, and they ended up with
a spot not too far from the front.  Realistic person that she was, Keriyn
brought a pair of binoculars, just in case.

    As the coterie advanced toward the waiting ship, Ambassador Feeple waved
to the crowd, feeling more than a little claustrophobic.
    [I hate these send-offs.]  he thought to himself.  Oh, he didn't mind the
grand titles or the crowds.  But, you'd think that, for once, he could slip
away quietly, do his job, and then relax.  Instead, he had to put up with
borderline paranoid security guards who saw leaks in every corner.
    [Well, it's not like anyone's gonna take a potshot at me.]  A godzillion
guards would discourage that.
    "So, whaddaya think of the guy?"  Doc asked.
    "Ambassador Feeple?  Hmm...I kind of expected someone more..."
    "Snooty?"  he suggested.
    "Something like that.  But, I guess that's what works for him."
    "Hey, if looking ordinary was a job requirement, *I* could be a
    "I don't think you'd be quite right for the job."
    "Y'know, you're right.  I couldn't put up with all the political BS."
    She smiled at this.  [Only he could be so blunt.]
    The west wing of the spaceport was sealed off to the public for
renovation.  However, security, in its caution, had posted a lone guard there,
as it was an excellent view for, say, a sniper.  The guard yawned after he
reported in.
    [I hope I get some overtime for this.  I don't know why we bother.
Nothing ever happens to the Ambassador.]
    That was his last thought as his neck was snapped by an open-handed chop.
He collapsed to the ground, his head at an odd angle to his body.
    The owner of the hand was a professional assassin, one of the best money
could buy.  He was formally known as Jonathon Harold Sweeney, known to
authorities in the sector by his epithet, "Sweeney the Weenie," inspired by
his totally unthreatening appearance.  However, he was a dead shot with a
rifle, and there were few others who were a better sniper than he.
   [Messy.]  Sweeney thought, shaking his head.  [Ah, well.  Not all my kills
can be accomplished with finesse and style.]  With that in mind, he set about
assembling his weapon, a Genom sniper-rifle model 34a, with a larger
power-pack for increased range.
    In a nearby hallway, one floor down, a couple's romantic mood was
interrupted by an apologetic "`Scuse me, coming through." as a man in a
rumpled raincoat and fishing hat as he zipped past them.  Other than that, he
didn't even spare a thought to them.
    He had more important things on his mind.
    [I hope...no, I *can't* be late.]  Doc2 thought as he nearly collided
with the door to the stairs.  Opening it, he jerked down the front of his hat,
just enough to keep it from flying off.  It was an old habit of his, one that
signaled anyone nearby that he wasn't in any mood to be stopped.
    For some odd reason, Doc felt an...urge, for lack of a better word, to
look back.  Turning around, he could make out two figures, one prone, the
other standing, although the details were obscured by both the distance and
the semi-smoked glass.
    "What're you looking at?"
    "I'm...not sure.  Here, can I borrow your binoculars for a sec?"
    She handed the pair to him.  Quickly, he scanned the spaceport area
behind them.
    [Nothing...]  His eyes widened as he saw the glass being cut away in a
small circle.  [Waitaminute...what's that guy doing?]  Then, the realization
hit him.
    "Jee-zus quack!"  he exclaimed, practically shoving the binoculars back
to Keriyn.
    "What?  What's wrong?"
    "Someone's gonna kill him!"  It didn't take a genius to figure out who
"him" was.
    With nary a pause, he whipped out his WDF ID.  If he was wrong about
this, he'd just look stupid.  If he was right...
    After what seemed an eternity of weaving through the throng yelling,
"Excuse me, pardon me, coming through, Wedge Defense Force," he finally
reached the Feeple, which took his guards by surprise momentarily.
    They weren't the only ones taken by surprise.
    [What the hell?!  Better shoot now...]  Sweeney decided.  His finger
tightened on the trigger, ready to fire---
    ---when a green-white beam saber lanced through the door's lock, slicing
it.  The wielder kicked it open thereafter.
    He was, indeed, quite a sight.  Actually, he seemed almost ridiculous,
with his white fishing hat and raincoat combo.
    If you didn't count the fact that he looked intensely angry, and that he
appeared to handle the saber extremely well.
    Naturally, Sweeney was a bit startled, to the extent that he froze for
about .2 seconds before firing.  When he did fire, he found himself falling
backwards from the sweep that Doc2 had just performed on him.
    Doc didn't know this, as he had just tackled Feeple, and his head was
going down.  He heard the report of the rifle, and prepared himself for the
    Sweeney righted himself, and reached for the BlasTech in his jacket.  His
rifle, hanging from the hole he carved in the window, was slashed by the beam
saber.  Aiming the gun, he was astonished to find his hand caught in an iron
grip, forcing him to release his hold on the gun.
   [How'd he get here so fast?]  he wondered.
   Then, his opponent pulled his arm back.
   The next thing Sweeney knew, it was raining punches.  He lost count after
twenty-five.  The punches stopped, but he was in no condition to appreciate
that fact.  Doc2 released him, and, as he wobbled backwards, produced a small,
black device from his sleeve.  Sliding back a small panel, he pressed one of
two buttons found there.  A pellet of red light rocketed out of the device and
hit home.
    [I...can't...move!]  the assassin thought.  Awkwardly, and without any
semblance of grace, he fell back on his heels and hit his head on the wall.
    Putting away the stunner, Doc2 hurriedly scanned the guard.  [He's still
alive...I'll need to put him in stasis.]  Reaching into his raincoat, he
attached a small device to the guard, who then began to emit a soft blue glow.
    Satisfied that he had done what he'd come for, the raincoated man rushed
through an emergency exit, deactivating his beam saber on the way.
    Doc sheepishly looked up, and was greeted with the sound of a godzillion
weapons clicking off safety.  Wide-eyed, he slowly got up and raised his hands
in surrender.
    The head of security walked up to Feeple and helped him up.  The latter
didn't seem to be hurt in the least.
    "Send a team to the west wing of the spaceport!"  he barked.  In a more
restrained tone, he asked, "Do you mind telling me what you think you were
    "Well, I..."  [Whew!  Is it me, or is it warm out here?  Waitasec.]  He
sniffed the air and was assaulted by the stench of burning cloth.
    Soldiers were buzzing around, murmuring.  The security head gently took
off Doc's fishing hat.
    Near the top, there was a small hole, made by, presumably, a particle
    Doc's eyes widened.  [Jee-zus quack.  I coulda been killed!]  The realiz-
ation hit him like a freight truck.
    "Captain H'rard?"  the voice filtered in from the Salusian's communicator.
    "H'rard here."
    "Sir, we've found the assassin.  It's Sweeney."
    "Any problems with him?"
    The young officer was hesitant.  "Uhh..no, I'd say he's stopped dead in
his tracks."
    "That doesn't sound like Sweeney."
    "Well, sir, y'see...he appears to be paralyzed."
    "Yessir.  One other thing, sir."
    "Sgt. Dran is here, and he seems to be...glowing."
    Captain H'rard sighed.  [Why do all the strange things happen to me?]
In the meantime, Doc was absent-mindedly fingering the new hole in his hat,
still in a bit of shock over what could have been.
    "Y'know, I never did get your name."
    Doc offered a weak salute to the Ambassador.  "Lt. Pearson 'Doc' Mui,
M.D., at your service."
    Keriyn came at a run through the mass.  "Pearson, I can't *believe* that
you did that!  What were you THINKING?!"
    "Umm...would you believe Star Trek VI?"
    "Lord High Ambassador..."
    "Please, just call me Jer, Captain."
    "Uh...Jer, I suggest that you to enter the shuttle.  Just in case, you
    Feeple agreed, and with a quick handshake, he boarded the shuttle, which,
when everyone was clear of the blast radius, lifted off for the Zardon Empire.
    Doc, who had taken to fingering the new hole in his hat, wondered what
would have happened had things not turned out like this.
    Doc2, safely out of sight, thanked his lucky stars that things *had*
turned out the way they did.  Almost absent-mindedly, he took off the hat and
examined the centuries-old hole there.  An old quote came to mind.
    "Hello.  This one almost had my name on it."  Fortunately, someone
upstairs had misspelled it.

    "Good evening,"  the reporter said as she shuffled her papers.  "Today's
top story:  An assassination attempt on the Lord High Ambassador Jeremy
Feeple's life was thwarted by a quick-thinking member of the Wedge Defense
    "Earlier, as Ambassador Feeple was boarding his ship en route to the
Zardon Empire, the assassin known as `Sweeney the Weenie' shot through the
windows of the spaceport.  Lt. Pearson "Doc" Mui had woven his way through the
crowd and tackled the Ambassador just as a particle beam pierced the
lieutenant's hat.  Neither Ambassador Feeple nor Lt. Mui were injured, and
Sweeney was swiftly apprehended.  Queen Asrial I has recommended a
commendation for the lieutenant for bravery above and beyond the call of
    "On a related note, several witnesses have claimed that a man in a
rumpled raincoat streaked towards that part of the spaceport that Sweeney was
located.  Some believe that this `mystery man' had something to do with the
attempted assassination.  However, this cannot be confirmed, and is believed
to be a rumor."
    Doc2 smiled as he blasted off, his car cloaked.  [So, I'm just part of a
rumor, huh?  Good.  I don't want to raise too many questions.]

JULY 30, 2002

    "Cheltopolis Central, this is WDF DeLorean One.  Permission to take off
for rendezvous with SDF-17 Wayward Son."
    "Permission granted."
    "Thaank you."  With a deft flick of the wrist, he flipped over the NO
SCREAMING sign.  "Passengers should notice that the `no screaming' rule is now
in effect.  Please comply with this rule, as failure to do so may result in a
very messy accident.  Fasten your seatbelts, and thank you for flying DeLorean
Spacelines.  Remember, we always make time for you."
    "Let me guess.  You were a pilot in a past life, right?"
    "Oh, I dunno.  Maybe."  he finished with a smirk.  Converting the car to
flight mode, he blasted off, going into warp as soon as he was free of
Salusia's gravity well.
    "You know, I still can't believe all this.  We go there for my father's
funeral, and you end up getting a medal for saving Ambassador Feeple."
    "What, you think I planned all this?"
    "Somehow, I don't think so."
    She knew something was up when she saw Doc curl up his mouth in one of
those impudent half-smiles of his.  "Oh, BTW.  I got something installed in
here that you might like."
    "Like what?"
    "Like a replicator.  I had a little help from Mako.  'Course, he also put
the phasers in, too, so..."  At her hesitation, he opened up what appeared to be
the glove compartment and punched in a few buttons.  "Go ahead, tell the
computer what you want."
    "Um...Tea, Darjeeling, hot, with milk and sugar."
    A cup of tea sparkled into existence.  Cautiously, she picked it up and
took a sip.  "This is actually pretty good."  A suspicious look crossed her
face.  "Wait a minute...it seems a bit convenient that you'd program this in,
considering the fact that you don't drink tea."
    "What can I say?  I try to cater to my friends."
    "Uh huh."  Sigh.  "Well...thanks."
    "For what?  The cab ride?"
    "That, and...the company."  She leaned over and gave him a quick peck on
the cheek.  "Now wipe that smile off your face before we crash into an
asteroid or something."
    "Yes, dear."

    During the next few years, Doc made a very disturbing discovery about his
relationship with Keriyn.  Considering that they were almost total opposites,
personality-wise, they got along extraordinarily well.  She tended to be cool
and methodical, not to mention almost infuriatingly patient, a quality which
would, thankfully, rub off on him.  It took a lot to get even a mildly sarcastic
remark from her.  Doc's temper, on the other hand was a demonstration in
inertia.  It took a lot to get going, and also to get it stopped.  He was also a
bit of an oddball, which was something he freely admitted.  That meant that he
fit in rather well with the Wedge Rats.
    In general, life was peachy.
    So, why the hell was he thinking about her all the time?  Oh, sure, she
was willing to listen to him anytime, but it seemed like it was something more
than that.
    Could he be...falling for her?  What's more, was she...?
    Hmmm...Naah, it wasn't very likely.
    Was it?

Chapter 13----------------------------------------------------------------------

    You're in my heart/You're in my soul
    You'll be my breath/Till I grow old
    You are my lover/You're my best friend
    You're in my soul
                             --Rod Stewart


    Cloudy.  Everything was cloudy, Keriyn thought.  Her eyes were tearing,
and through her respirator mask (funny, she couldn't remember when she put it
on) she could faintly smell the stench of laser coolant.  The howl of a klaxon
rang in her ears.
    [What happened?]  she wondered.  [What was going on?]  The last thing she
remembered, she was helping commander Mandeville run some routine diagnostics.
Then...then...[Think, damn it!]
    She turned her head around slowly, her vision wavering as she searched
the area around her.  She could make out two forms, both standing.  Through
the din, she could barely make out their conversation.
    "Who *are* you?"  The voice was ReRob's.  "How'd you get in here?"  As
procedure dictated, the area had been sealed off.
    "Trust me,"  another voice replied.  "You really *don't* want to know."
She saw the figure give ReRob something relatively small.
    "Here.  I know sucking in a few lungfuls of laser coolant won't kill a
Detian, but you don't want to be breathing in more than you have to."  The
respirator mask, ungainly as it was, muffled his voice, but it sounded very
    "I've got someone else here..."  ReRob began.
    "I know.  She's got a breather already."
    The two aproached her.  ReRob was, of course, familiar.  However, the
man next to him wasn't.  He was a lieutenant, that much she could discern
from the patch on his shoulder, but other than that, she had no idea who he
    She tried to get up, but he gently pushed her down.  "Just take it easy.
Considering that bump on your head, you're lucky to be awake."  he said.
    [Who was he?]  Keriyn and ReRob wondered.
    "Come on,"  he said, "Everyone else evacuated.  I stuck around to help
out.  Can you walk?"
    She staggered to her feet, then wobbled.  He grabbed her by the left arm
while ReRob grabbed her right.  "I'll take that as a no."  he said with a
trace of amusement.
    They made their way to the exit, only to find it sealed.  "Damn."  he
said quietly, then gently put his passenger down.  ReRob tried punching in
several commands, but the panel was unresponsive.
    "Power's down to this thing,"  he muttered.
    "Let me try,"  He punched in some commands, but it was obvious that the
panel wasn't working.  Her vision, blurred as it was, made her savior out as
he grabbed what appeared to be empty space near his left hip.  Then, there was
something silvery in his hand.  It was cylindrical, and was less than a foot
long.  With a flick of a switch, a green something sprung out of the object.
    [What the hell *is* that?]
    Fiddling with a control, the blade seemed to shrink to a manageable size.
Using it like a knife, he sliced off the faceplate of the door panel and ripped
out the exposed wires.  After a bit of work, he managed to get the door open.
Deactivating whatever it was that he had, he dragged her across the now-open
doorway, ReRob following them.
    [This whole thing seems so unreal.]  ReRob commented to himself.
    The air cleared in the makeshift antechamber, and the lieutenant took off
his respirator mask.  She groggily took hers off when he turned around.
Something odd happened then (as if this whole situation wasn't odd enough).
For a second, his body seemed to flicker like bad reception on a TV.
Eventually, it faded long enough for him to get a good look at his face.
    It was Doc.  He looked the same, yet somehow older, with wire-rimmed
glasses.  [What was he doing here?]  she wondered.  She began to lose her
balance, and he caught her, hugging her.  "You're going to be all right, Ker."
He let go, and carefully propped her back against a wall as she slumped down.
    "Would it be too much to ask what's going on?"  ReRob asked after taking
off the respirator.
    "Sorry, Rob.  No can do,"  From his sleeve, something black slid out
from its hiding place.  It looked like a remote used for unlocking car doors.
"Y'gotta trust me on this.  And, when you remember this, be kind."
    The next thing Rob knew, everything turned green, then black as he
slumped, unconscious, to the floor.
    "Sorry, my friend, but none of this was my idea."
    Something beeped.  [Damn.]  The cloaking field was going to give out in
another ten minutes.  It had been necessary in order to get onboard.  It
wasn't quite as effective as a Predator cloak, but it did the job.
    Tapping a few buttons, he disappeared.
    The door leading outside opened, and the medical team scrambled over
them.  Jenna was on her way to ReRob when she almost bumped into Doc2.  She
ignored him, seeing as how he was currently invisible, and began concentrating
on ReRob.  Doc2 nonchalantly strolled out, totally unnoticed.  Doc rushed to
    "Weren't you just here?"  she asked, her speech slurred.
    "No, I just got here.  Just stay down and rest."  He put an oxygen mask
over her mouth.  Coolant poisoning wasn't a pretty way to go.
    "You...pulled me out."  she mumbled.
    "No, I didn't.  I was with the medical team."  he said, his face twisting
with worry.  What the hell was going on here?
    "I...saw you.  You were in there."  she mumbled as she was being carried
away by a stretcher.
    "Uuhhnnn..."  ReRob came to.  "What the hell did you do that for, Doc?"
    "Do what?  Wha'd I do?"
    ReRob got to his feet.  "You knocked me out with that...whatever it was."
    "Yeah, right.  I was on my way here."
    [What the hell was going on?]  Doc wondered.
    Six hours of surgery later, (Jenna did the honors.  She'd said, rightly
so, that Doc was too emotionally distraught to work on Keriyn.) ReRob
recovering nicely, looking slightly nauseated, rather than deathly-ill.  Even
inhaling a few lungfuls of laser coolant wasn't enough to really put down a
    Keriyn, who didn't need Omega-2 to prolong her life, was in considerably
worse shape than Rob was.  In addition to the coolant, she sustained a nasty
concussion.  The combination had sent her into a coma.
    It would be almost a week before she came out of it.  Doc didn't eat or
sleep very much, and spent most of his time at her bedside.
    "Hey, Doc."
    "Hmm?  Oh...hi, Deedlit."  He'd almost fallen asleep.  "How's Rob doing?"
    "He's okay.  Jenna won't let him out of here until she's sure, though.  How
about...?"  She left the last part blank.
    He sighed, brushing his short hair to one side.  "I dunno.  She's tough,
but...at times, I'm not sure if she's gonna...well, it could go either way,
right now."  He let out a slow breath.  "Damn.  Y'know, when I trained for
this job, I knew I'd lose my share of people.  But...if it's her..."
Suddenly, the dark rims under his eyes seemed all the more indicative of what
he was going through.
    "I know."  Deedlit interpreted the silence that followed as a sign that
he wanted to be left alone.  Before she got to the door, she turned to face
him.  "She'll make it."

    "Y'know, it's kinda funny.  I've known you for the last five or six years.
And yet...I really don't know you.  I don't know anything about you other than
the basics and what you've told me.  Well, forget that last part,"  he said,
waving his hand dismissively.
    He hadn't noticed that her vital signs were climbing steadily.
    "What I mean is...this has been bugging me for the last couple of years.
I'm trying to tell you...Jesus, listen to me.  I wait until you're comatose,
maybe dying to tell you that I love you.  There, I said it.  And you know
what?  It'd be a pretty damn cruel universe if you died after I just said
    "Better late than never."  she mumbled.
    Doc's eyes went wide.  "Exactly how long have you been listening?"
    Keriyn managed a faint smile.  "Long enough.  You want to know something?"
    "I, um...I love you, too."
    "Me?  I mean, I'm not arguing, but why?  I'm not particularly handsome
or well-built.  I'm just an average guy..."
    "Who happens to have a very good sense of humor,"  she chuckled, then
stopped because it hurt.  "I dunno.  I mean, can you really quantify this kind
of thing?  It just...I guess it just happened, that's all."
    "Boy, the way you're talking, someone might think we were in..."  he
cleared his throat meaningly before continuing, "together."
    "Not *quite* yet,"  she said wryly.  "BTW, since when did you start wear-
ing wire-rims?"
    "I don't."
    "Oh.  Never mind."  [That was definitely odd.]
    "Get some sleep, okay?"  he said, giving her a peck on her forehead.
    "All right, but only if you get some."
    "Deal."  he said, smiling weakly.
    Down in Engineering, Gryphon was investigating a minor mystery, namely,
what was used to slice open the door control panel.
    [I'd like to see what did this,] he thought.
    "EVE, what do you make of this?"
    The AI's face appeared on a nearby viewscreen, puzzled.  "Not much.  From
the ionization of the metal, it looks characteristic of a particle beam,
although one that was more focused than anything we have."
    "Then I guess we can rule out sabotage,"  he said.
    "How so?"
    "Well, think about it.  If that...thing could slice through this, then
whoever it was had every opportunity to do some serious damage to the engine
room.  By the way, do we have an ID on this guy?"
    She shook her head.  "No, but I do have some footage of what happened."
    "Let me see it."
    There wasn't much to really go on.  Everything was a big haze when the
coolant went up, throwing ReRob and Keriyn, who were the closest to the explo-
sion, into some shielding.  As he watched, Gryphon could make out a figure
opening up a panel of emergency respirators just before the coolant cloud
reached him.  Grabbing a few more, he placed them on both Keriyn and ReRob,
and proceeded to help them to the door.
    The stranger then pulled something out and activated it, cutting the door
panel open and helping the two out of view of the camera.  [Definitely a
focused particle beam,] he thought.  [But how the hell can he adjust the
length like that?]  The video stopped there.
    "Anything else?"  he asked dubiously.
    "I'm afraid not.  I suspect, though, that he came in with that shuttle-
ful of medtechs."
    "What makes you say that?"
    "This."  EVE enhanced the uniform shoulder of the stranger, revealing the
patch of the WDF Medical Corps.  It was apparently a lieutenant's uniform, but
there wasn't an ID patch visible.
    He smiled.  "Get me a passenger list."
    "Calling up Bombsight now."  Less than a second later, the list appeared.
"There is one medtech unaccounted for."
    "Phillip Morrison,"  A look of confusion crossed her face.  "This is odd."
    "What's odd?"
    "Lieutenant Morrison...doesn't exist."
    "Doesn't exist?  Are you sure?  No, forget that.  Of course you're sure."
    ReRob wandered by.  "Gweepings."
    "Hey, Rob.  Jenna finally let you out?"
    "Yeah.  What's up with you?"
    "Trying to get some leads on our mystery man."
    "I can tell you who it was."
    "Well, don't keep me in suspense."  Gryphon remarked.
    "It was Doc.  Now, I know what you're thinking.  `It can't be Doc.  He was
on the medical team.'  Remember, the guy's a time traveller."
    "And?"  Gryphon prompted, beginning to catch Rob's thinking.
    "What if this guy is Doc from the future, after he's gone through all that
leaping and everything?"
    "He'd be taking a pretty big chance of running into himself."
    "Not a Good Thing (tm)."  they both agreed in stereo.

     In a relatively remote section of the ship, the object of Gryphon's
investigation vanished with a blinding white flash, only to reappear on Utopia
    Waiting for him there was a man with shaggy, dirty-blond hair.
    "I take it you've succeeded?"  Q asked unnecessarily.
    "Yeah.  I hated to knock out Rob with the stunner, but..."
    "Well, you couldn't exactly let him sound an alert on you, now could you?
That would have lead to a lot of questions."
    "Maybe.  But I don't have to like this job."
    "It comes with the territory."
    Doc2 merely sighed.  Q was never going to let this little favor go.  He
had needed his help getting to Utopia Planitia in slightly less than a day,
rather than the better part of a month at warp 7, and now he had to count
on the omnipotent once again.

Chapter 14---------------------------------------------------------------------

    "There are some things you just don't have quotes for."  --Me


    Doc nervously waited outside the exercise room for Keriyn.  She'd made
virtually a full recovery in the last year, and had been on duty for the last
couple of months.
    This wasn't, however, what was on his mind.  In his pocket he fingered a
small jeweler's box.  For the last few weeks, he'd been contemplating what he
was about to do.  It was going to be a big change in his life, that was for
   She emerged from the exercise room freshened up.  As usual, she looked...
pretty darn good, actually. :-)  That was not going to make what he had in
mind any easier.
    "Umm...hi."  He was trying very, very hard not to gape.
    "Something wrong?"  she asked.
    "No, nothing wrong here.  What could possibly be wrong?  I mean, I'm just
about to ask you the most important question of our relationship and here I am
without a clue on how to proceed andIdon'tmindtellingyouit'sdrivingmeCRAZY!"
he babbled.
    "Whoa, whoa."  she said, holding up her hands.  "Slow down.  What was
that again?"
    Huwaaah.  Hookay, take a deep breath.  Done.  Now, proceed to talk in a
calm, rational manner.  "Will you..."  he fumbled in his pocket for the box.
Gah!  Where is that thing?  Oh, I'm holding it.  Gotta lay off the caffeine
one of these days.
    He harrumphed and tried again.  "Will you marry me?"  Somehow, he managed
to get the jewelry box out of his pocket and opened it, revealing a ring that
cost him about three week's pay.
    Her eyes could not have gotten any larger.

    Gryphon knew something was up when he saw Doc practically bouncing off
the walls with glee.  It went something like this.
    "WA HA HA HA HA HA HAAA!  YES!!  She said yes!!"
    To quote a certain cartoony Dr. Spengler, "Indicative.  Highly
indicative."  :-)
    Of course, not knowing what happened, he was somewhat curious as to exact-
ly what the good news was.  He found out when he bumped into Doc's new fiancee,
who was wearily chasing after him.
    "Oh!  Sorry about that, Commander."
    "No problem.   What's he so happy about?"
    "Umm..."  she showed him her new ring.  "We just got engaged."
    "Oh.  OH!  Well, congratulations, you two."
    "Thank you, sir."  Doc finally calmed down somewhat, and he
came beside her, grinning like an idiot.
    "Soo..."  Doc cockily drawled.  "When can we expect you and Kei to tie
the knot?"
    This caught Ben a bit off guard.  "Uh, probably not for a while, yet."
    "Which, judging by your schedule and our lifespan...probably not for a
couple of centuries, right?"  Doc joked.
    "Pearson!"  Keriyn exclaimed.
    "Yes, dear."  he replied in a fake meek voice.  "See?  She's already
playing the part."
    She affectionately whapped him across the top of his head for that

    Another year passed, and the two of them got hitched in a quiet ceremony.
That is, if you don't count the food fight.  Apparently, it wasn't a good idea
to put Doc, Marty, and two gross of Boston Cream pies together.  MegaZone and
the rest tried to settle things down, but after the command crew got plastered
with pies, all hell broke loose.
    It might be worth knowing that this is, officially, the shortest war
declared by the WDF, lasting a total of 5 minutes, 27 seconds, according to
the Encyclopedia Galactica.  It ended with a pie-encrusted Doc walking in a
stiff, but dignified manner, to the nearest shower.
    All in all, it was a relatively uneventful twelve years of marriage.  Oh,
sure, there was the occasional hazardous medical drop, but things were
pretty quiet.  On one occasion, Rex accompanied his friend and KWEP'ed
some of the enemy at the time.  From then on, Doc insisted on having a
ship large enough to accomodate the tyrannosaur.

    "Can I ask you something?"
    "What about?"
    [Oh.]  "What about them?"
    "I mean...well, we both like kids, right?"
    "Yeah, so?"  [I'm not sure I like where this is going...]
    "Well...have you ever thought of...?"  She left the question unspoken,
but they both knew what she was getting at.
    "Y'ever listen to `Cat's Cradle?'"
    "Which version?"
    "The one by Harry Chapin."
    "Well, once or twice.  Why?"
    "I guess you could say that I don't want to be like the father in that
    "Pearson, I know you.  You can't be like that.  Come on,"  she asked,
gently putting a hand on his shoulder.  "What's really bothering you?"
    He took a slow breath and let it out the same way.  "You know there's no
guarantee that I'll remain exactly the same after I'm done with my leaps.  If
we have a kid, how're we gonna explain how Daddy goes jumping around in time?
How'll the kid deal with the possibility that...one day, I'm okay, and the
next, I'm not quite the same?  I can't ask..."  he shook his head.  "No, it's
not really asking.  It's more like forcing him or her to deal with
possibilities that most kids can't even imagine."
    "Don't get me wrong, Keri.  I *want* kids, but I won't put them through
that.  It's too much to ask of someone that young."
    "I...understand."  she said finally.  "Maybe...when things settle down a
    They spent the rest of the night in silence, watching the stars go by.

Chapter 15---------------------------------------------------------------------

    "I'll be back."  --T-800 and every other cheap Terminator imitator.

NOVEMBER 4, 2017
1555 HOURS

    "Five minutes to go, Doc."  Edison said.
    "Thanks, Edison, for everything,"  Doc shook his hand and made his way
over to Keriyn, who had been unusually quiet.  He plastered on a big SEG for
her sake, even though he was a little intimidated of the possibilities.
    "What's the matter?"  he asked quietly.
    She shook her head.  "Nothing."
    "Ah, come on.  Something's wrong."
    "What makes you say that?"
    "Oh, just the fact that we have at least one thing in common.  We're both
lousy liars."
    She sighed and smiled.  He was absolutely right on that account.  "It's
just that...I dunno, are you sure you're coming back?"
    "Well, according to what I've read about that crackpot who sent me here,
I *am* coming back.  I'll..."  Everyone gave him a dirty look as he assumed an
Arnold Schwarzeneggar voice, then switched to MacArthur.  "Ahem...I mean, I
shall return."
    In spite of the situation, she actually cracked a smile.
    When he came to Gryphon, he said, "Take care of Rex for me, okay?  I mean,
just in case."
    "You got it."
    Making his way to Martin Rose, who wasn't taking old age as well as he
was, Doc said simply, "Well, Marty, I've gotta go."
    "Good luck, Doc."
    He looked around the room.  "It's been fun.  If everything works out, I'll
see you all tomorrow."
    "Ten seconds.  Nine.  Eight.  Seven..."  Doc wasn't listening to the
countdown.  He was looking straight into her light blue eyes, the ones he'd
fallen for twenty years ago.
    As expected, the leap effect turned everything blue, then blinding white.
Within three seconds, he vanished.

Chapter 16---------------------------------------------------------------------

    "In again, out again, gone again, home again."  --Anonymous
    "I been there before."  --Huckleberry Finn

NOVEMBER 5, 2017
    Doc2 emerged out of warp to find the Wayward Son before him.  He asked
for permission to dock, and, after a thorough ID check, was given a bay number.
He came out of the docking bay in a run, heading for the quarters that he had
temporarily vacated.  To everyone else, it'd been about a day since he'd
leaped.  For him, it'd been forty years (forty, not sixty, you may be asking
yourselves?  Don't worry, everything will unfold.) and multiple dimensional
    He came to his quarters, and was about to knock on the door when he
stopped himself.  Forty five years.  Did he have a right to come back to this
part of his life?  He cleared the thought from his mind.  Of course he did.
During his entire ordeal, one of the few things that kept him going was the
hope that he'd see his wife again before...no, don't think of that.  This was
the present.  That event wouldn't happen for another 200 or so years.  Right
now, all that mattered was seeing her.
    He knocked on the door.  Keriyn answered it, more than a little surprised
at seeing her husband like nothing ever happened.  Well, like almost nothing
happened, anyway.  She couldn't quite put her finger on it, but he seemed to
act almost like a war-weary veteran coming home.
    "Hi."  he said quietly.
    A tired smile appeared on his face.  "I told you I'd be back."  Without
further dialogue, he grabbed her and twirled her around.  When he put her
down, they kissed slowly.
    "I love you, Keriyn."  he whispered in her ear.
    "I love you, too."
    It had become obvious that Doc's life had undergone some serious changes
while he was away.  He was definitely more introspective, something that he
usually wasn't, at least, not on any regular basis.  It was so frustrating to
Keriyn, to know, and yet not to know, her husband.
    "What's wrong?  You're not usually like this,"  she said as he just stared
at his surroundings.  "What happened when you were gone?"  she asked, somewhat
more softly.
    He sighed heavily.  There were certain things he couldn't talk about, not
even with her.  However, that didn't mean that she had to remain ignorant as
to where he'd been.
    "Well, I went further into the future..."  he went on to recount, only in
the vaguest of details, what he had (or will, depending on your perspective)
done in that time.


    Then, he told her about his dimension hopping, unconsciously going into
detail about the friends he'd made during that hellish time.  In particular,
he seemed to focus on his friendship with the Knight Sabers of an alternate
timeline, and that the GENOM corporation there had, by the time he left it,
lost its power.  That was the only dimension that he would, if given a choice,
go back to, considering that the alternate Linna and Nene were very good
friends of his.
    The rest was pretty much a blur, as he muddled his way through the remain-
ing dimensional displacements on his way home.  Another few years, and he made
the trip from Earth to Utopia Planitia.  The rest, as the cliche goes, is his-
    "So...now you know."  he said finally, looking as if a bit of weight had
been lifted off of him.
    "I had no idea..."  she said, wide-eyed.
    "Well, neither did I.  I gotta tell you something, though.  Time travel
can be a real pain in the asteroids."  he caught himself.
    "Hmm...what're you going to do now?  I mean, you know what's going to
happen to all of us, right?"
    He let out a long sigh.  "Not the specifics.  I just have a general idea,
that's all."
    "You haven't answered my question."
    His brow furrowed, then resumed its normal position.
    "Get on with my life.  What else can I do?"

NOVEMBER 6, 2017

    There was just one last loose end to tie up, namely, the DeLorean (there
were currently two of them around, one older than the other.  The one that he
was working on was the one that was less modified.).  Doc2 was tinkering around
with it, reconnecting both the time circuits and the flux capacitor to the Mr.
Fusion power source.
    "Hi, Doc.  What's up?"  Marty asked.
    "Oh, nothing much,"  he said without looking up.  "Just putting this kid
to where she'll be needed."  He finished the last connection and covered it
up with a plate.  Punching in a series of commands, he set the DeLorean to
appear at October 23, 2333 on somewhere called MegaTokyo, New Japan.  Making
sure that Mr. Fusion had ample power, he activated the time circuits and
closed the gull-wing door.  The ship would, as per instructions, warp to New
Japan's coordinates, then BOOM!  It would go 216 or so years to the future.
    It's worth mentioning that this type of time-travel won't go through
space.  I.e., the DeLorean won't travel in time at the same time that it's in
warp.  So, it took a bit of work to take into account New Japan's orbit for the
next 216 years.  Fortunately, he'd programmed the onboard with an extensive
star chart.
    "Authorization delta sigma niner, priority one."  At the same time he
said this, a red light scanned his retina and the steering wheel did the same
for his fingerprints.  When he had this thing built, he'd made sure that theft
wasn't going to be much of a problem.
    "Authorization confirmed,"  the car said.  "Command?"
    "Temporal and spatial displacement at designated coordinates on my mark."
    "Awaiting mark."  the car replied.
    Doc2 keyed in a comline.  "Bridge, I'm going to be launching a DeLorean
by remote control.  Don't ask me why, I just have to do this."
    There was a bit of silence on the other end.  "Right.  Do what you have
to do, Doc."  It was Zoner.  He didn't sound very satisfied, but he had an
idea of what was happening.
    He closed the channel and started heading for the door, away from the
outer door.  "Thirty second delay, mark!"  Marty followed Doc2's lead, and
after they were safely in the ship, the outer door started opening.  As
ordered, the car converted itself for flight mode and streaked out into the
stars, leaving a pair of fire trails as it vanished.

    Doc2 stared at the rather spectacular view from the bench, indulging in
a rare quiet moment.
    As usual, his wife was there to share.
    "Credit for your thoughts."  she started.
    "Hmm?  Oh."  he smiled.  "I didn't think they were worth that much."
    "They are to me."  she said quietly.
    He turned to face her.  "Why is it that whenever you say something
potentially sappy, it comes off as genuinely sincere?"
    She shrugged.  "A knack, I guess.  What's on your mind?"
    "Oh, life, the universe, and everything."
    "Want to narrow that down a bit?"
    "I was just thinking about the future."
    "I mean, this is not an easy thing for me, keeping a secret and all that.
Knowing what'll happen..."  he shook his head.
    "You know what I think?  I think that the future isn't written in stone."
    "So, if you spend too much time worrying about what might happen, you
won't be able to appreciate what you have now.  It's like my dad told me before
he died."
    "What'd he say?"
    "Don't let the past or the future rule your life.  The present is where
the action is."
    "Wise man."
    "I like to think so."
    An easy silence drifted upon them.  It was undemanding, relaxing, and
strangely enough, fulfulling.
    "What say we work on some kids?"
    She turned to face him, her expression that of shock.  "Are you sure?"
    "What made you change your mind?"
    "Well, the only reason I didn't want to was because of my leaping.  Now
that that's over..."
    "You met one of our kids in the future, didn't you?"
    "Yeah,"  he admitted.  "From that little encounter, I can predict that
we'll be pretty good parents."
    "I'm glad."  she replied, kissing him.

DECEMBER 18, 2018

    Jenna passed by Sickbay just to make sure that Doc2 had arrived for his
shift.  Peering through the window, she saw him yawning as he punched commands
on a handcomp.
    [What's he yawning abo--oh, right, the twins.]  It hadn't even been a
month since Keriyn gave birth to Megan and Mandy Ajlond-Mui.  The birth itself
raised a lot of eyebrows, mainly because of the end result.  Some on board had
been betting on what kind of kids came out.  Some thought that the babies would
be furry.  Others thought that they would be perfectly Detian.
    No one was really prepared for twins, much less twins with pointed ears.
There was one tactless remark about Spock, which Doc2 had personally thumped
down.  [Funny, is it me, or is he faster than he used to be?]  Jenna wondered
as she remembered how he smacked the pilot around.
    "How's it going, Doc?"
    "Oh," he stifled a yawn, "okay, I guess."
    "Who was the culprit last night, Mandy or Megan?"
    "Both.  They started screaming in stereo.  I tell ya, Jenna, every baby
has the potential to become a jet pilot."
    "How so?"
    "They consistently break the sound barrier at a young age.  If that
doesn't qualify as supersonic experience, I don't know what does."  He smiled
tiredly.  "BTW, thanks for putting me on mid-day shift.  I think staying on the
late shift would've killed my chances for a decent night's sleep."
    "Big change from a few years ago, hm?"  He had to smile at this.  When
first stationed aboard, he took every late shift he could.  When finally asked
why, he admitted that he wanted her and Matt to have some more time together.
She had told him, in the most diplomatic terms, that although it was a nice
gesture, everything was going very well between the two, thank you very much.
She had also, in not so diplomatic terms, told him to concentrate more on his
own social life than those of others.

    A major event in Doc2's life was that Rex died of natural causes because
he wasn't injected with an Omega-2 derivative.  When Doc2 et. al buried the
tyrannosaur, he had to admit that Rex was better than a golden retriever any
day, temper notwithstanding, of course.
    Over the years, people noticed a subtle change in Doc2's behavior.  He
tended to be quieter, and a bit more introspective.  He turned his jokes to
somewhat more subtle humor, instead of in-your-face comedy, although he could
still do imitations at a moment's notice.  In general, they liked the change.

AUGUST 29, 2026

    The Rotofoil transformed to Hover mode and settled down, the front end
splitting to admit Jenna.  Alone.
    Zoner asked her where Martin was.
    Five seconds later, the Rotofoil had twisted and contorted itself until
it, correction, he was human.  Namely, Marty.
    Zoner and Gryphon muttered something, Doc2 couldn't quite hear.  He had a
few choice words of his own concerning what had just occurred.
    "Jee-zus quack..."  His eyes were bugged out, and his eyebrows were well
above his wire-rims.
    Marty had always been taller than he was.  Now, however, he was
positively HUGE!  The guy must've been about seven feet tall!  There was also
the minor little facts that he was his young, brown-haired self, sans glasses.
    [Well, nobody's gonna call him Grey anymore.]
    After a little hug with Jenna, Marty griped, "You know, this is the
fraggin' WORST birthday party I've ever had!  Nobody's even put any TMBG on.
Eve, if you mind?"
    The CI's face bipped onto a nearby screen.  "But of course.  Any
    "Mmmm, `See the Constellation.'"
    "You got it, birthday boy."
    Then, something only mildly bizarre occurred.
    He started to dance in a step that no normal person ever thought of doing
before.  (Yeah, right, as if anybody on board is truly normal.)
    During the party, after everyone recovered from the spectacle, Doc2
commented offhandedly to the birthday boy, "Y'know, I can see that you're
gonna be in for some pretty...uh, big things."
    Keriyn gently whapped him across the head.
    "Ow.  Okay, I deserved that."

    The one thing that irritated Martin to no end was that when he was study-
ing the ways of stealth under Gordo Ripperfang (the resident Predator), Doc
and Gordo himself were the only two who didn't have sticky notes on them.
This is not to say, however, that Doc2 was in psychic in any way, shape or
form.  90% of the time, it was due to sheer luck.
    Case in point...
    Doc2 was working one of the late-night shifts on board the Wayward Son.
[Geez, if I knew there was going to be so much paperwork, I might not have
gone into medicine.]
    [Oh, cut it out,] he chided himself.  [You love your job, and you
know...]  He stopped short, getting the nagging feeling that someone else
was in the room with him.
    "Don't even think about it, Marty."  he called out into the darkness of
the night shift.  There wasn't even a rustle from Martin's "Darkwing Diggy"
cape, but Doc2 did catch a glimpse of it turning a corner.  A sticky note
floated down onto the floor.  Doc2 picked it up, and noticed that it read,
    "Not yet, you don't,"  he muttered.  Making his way back to his desk, he
felt something rustle on his back.  Reaching back, he pulled off a second
sticky note, which read, "Always watch your back."
    Doc2 had to smile at this.  [The sonofagun finally got me.  Wonder how
long it'll take before the student outdoes the teacher?]

    Of course, being a doctor wasn't all fun and games, but the profession did
have certain...compensations.  Take the time when the WDF and the Salusians
won a big one against the Kilrathi at Lenorica.

    Doc2 took a sip of his Pepsi when his wife walked, somewhat unsteadily,
towards him.
    "You okay?"  he asked.
    She hiccuped slightly, her cheeks red.  "Never been better,"  she slurred,
apparently making an effort to not sway.  "Although...could shombody make th'
w'rld shtop shpinning?"
    Keriyn collapsed right into his arms.
    "All right, I give up.  How many drinks did you have?"
    "Ohh...I dunno..."  she replied, her voice muffled against his jacket.
"I kinda lost track at about six marga...merga...one a those fruity drinks.
Can we go home now?  I think I'm gonna be sick."
    Even though the corridor leading to their quarters was clear, Keriyn
*still* wove her way through it.  No doubt about it, she was thoroughly
    After about a dozen encouragements on the line of, "Come on, you can make
it, just a little bit farther," he managed to get her into the bathroom with
about two seconds to spare.  She then proceeded to, in the words of one of his
history teachers, worship the porcelain god.
    "Feel better?"  he asked quietly.  She answered incoherently, somehow
managing to get up, lean on him, and promptly fall asleep.
    [Oy,]  he thought.  [If someone like her is this smashed, I'd better
check to make sure the dispensary's ready for the hangover crowd.]  He looked at
his sleeping wife and gently brushed aside an errant hair from her mouth.
    "Good morning, hon.  How do you feel?"  he asked quietly.
    Her response was to wrap the blanket around her eyes.  "Fine, thanks.
Will you stop yelling, now?"
    Sigh.  "That bad, huh?"
    "No, I've been worse.  Just not in the last few years."
    "Ah.  Do you have the day off?"
    "Doesn't everybody?"
    [Well, that's true.  I don't think there're more than a handful of people
who didn't get sloshed.]  Shrug.  [Might as well make the rounds.]
    "Y'know what my prescription is?"
    "Plenty of bedrest and a nice breakfast," he smiled.  "BTW, have I told
you that I love you lately?"
    "No...why?"  she asked, her voice muffled.
    "Verily, then, I have been truly remiss in my duties."  He gave her a
peck on the cheek, and, after replicating a light breakfast, he was off.
    Roaming the halls of a SuperDimensional Fortress can be something of an
unnerving experience.  After all, at about 4000 meters long, getting wherever
you had to on foot was most definitely not half the fun.  It was, however,
quiet.  To be honest, it was sort of peaceful.
    "Making the rounds, Doc?"  a familiar voice asked from behind.
    "Hey, Marty.  Well, somebody's gotta do it."
    "Where's Jenna?"
    "Last I saw, she and Matt were headed for their quarters.  I tell ya,
that was some mess last night, huh?"
    "Yeah,"  the taller man agreed.
    They walked the halls in silence for a moment, Martin's stride easily
dwarfing Doc2's.
    He turned so that Martin could see the mischievious glint in his eye.
"I've got a really crazy idea."  He went over the bare-bones plan, and the
taller man nodded with approval.  Normally, they couldn't get away with what
he was planning, but this was far from normal conditions.
    "Doc, that's sadistic.  That's cruel."
    "Are you in?"
    "You bet."
    Kei sat up in the bed, acutely aware of how much she'd had the night
before.  The living torture that was her hangover was almost as bad as after
pfloyd's going-away party.  Well, maybe a little worse she thought she was
hearing Doc's voice.
    Wait a minute.
    She *was* hearing Doc's voice.
    "Good afternoon Wayward Son,"  the voice said gently, with just a smidge
of semi-smugness.  "This is Doc.  Right now, the vast majority of you are
probably wondering who stuck the Reflex furnace in your head to burn.  Well,
the fact of the matter is, you're really really hung over."
    [Well, duh.]  Kei thought in between the throbs of her headache.  She
resolved to get him for this.  That is, when her headache cleared up.
    "So,"  he continued, "Seeing as how I can't patrol the whole ship, I
decided, with Marty and EVE's help, to give all of you some advice.  First of
all, drink plenty of liquids, especially those high in fructose.  Second, eat
foods that aren't heavy in fats and oils.  In the meantime, as the old saying
goes, `take two aspirin and call me in the morning.'  And if you need me for
anything other than a good throttling, I'll be in the dispensary for a few
hours.  That is all."  He turned off the comm and laughed maniacally.
    "I love this job sometimes, Marty."  he said with an SEG.
    "Yeah, I kinda noticed."

Chapter 17---------------------------------------------------------------------

    "'Til death do us part."  --Part of a wedding vow

MARCH 5, 2250

    "Are you sure you're gonna be okay?"  Doc2 asked, concerned.
    "I'll be fine,"  Keriyn reassured her husband, "It's just a routine
engineering convention, that's all.  Why?  Is there some reason why I shouldn't
    Say yes, say yes, SAY YES!  "Uh, no, none that I can think of."  he said
    "Don't worry about a thing.  I'll be back in a few days."  she said,
giving him a peck on the cheek.  Hoisting her carry-all, she exited their
quarters to one of the docking bays.
    Inside their quarters, Doc2 looked crestfallenly at their wedding picture
on the dresser and smiled slightly.  The best man, his brother, was sticking
his tongue out at the camera.  Everyone in the picture looked slightly worse for
the wear, probably because of the food fight that had ensued minutes before.
    [Percy always was a joker.  Wonder how he and the missus are doing
right now?]
    He made up his mind about something and came out of their quarters
at a run, catching up to his wife before she entered the shuttle.
    Without saying a word, he picked her up, whirled her around, and kissed
her slowly.  Keriyn, being more than a little startled, dropped her carry-all
and kissed him back.
    "Whew,"  she said, her cheeks flushed.  200+ years of marriage, and he
*still* managed to surprise her.  "What was that for?"
    He shrugged.  "Just because."
    "Hmm.  Well, we should have goodbyes like this more often."  she said with
a hint of mischief.
    She boarded the shuttle, and it left.  Doc2's smile faded as he looked
down at his wedding ring, then onto the deck.
    [Goodbye, Keriyn.]

MARCH 9, 2250

    Boring, boring, boring.  The two-day engineering convention on Beta
Myamid had gone surprisingly well.  It was too bad Commander Mandeville--sorry,
ReRob, she corrected herself--had been unable to attend.  There were quite a
few interesting theories on propulsion present, including a rather farfetched
one involving something called a soliton wave.
    Unfortunately, the fun was over, and she was being ferried back to the
Wayward Son.  She would never admit it to anyone but her husband, but she hated
traveling in shuttles.  It was as if she was slightly claustrophobic, something
that was amplified in the tight spaces of a shuttle.  Needless to say, she was
anxious to go home to the relatively large confined spaces of the Son, and to
her husband.
    "Everything all right back there, ma'am?"  the pilot asked.  He was a
competent shuttle pilot, if a little bit on the quiet side.
    "Everything's fine, thanks.  How long till we reach the Wayward Son?"  she
    "About two hours,"  he replied.  The young man leaned back in his seat,
fantasizing that he was in control of a Super Valkyrie.  He'd been on several
trips like this, and each one was totally routine, i.e., boring.
    And then all hell broke loose.
    It was nothing serious at first, really.  The shuttle was heading through
perfectly neutral space.  There was no one who could legitimately challenge
their right to pass through.
    Except maybe several highly territorial species like the Kilrathi Empire,
among others.
    Within minutes, several Salthi emerged out of their hiding place in a
nearby asteroid field.  After briefly informing them of their supposed "crime,"
the fighters then proceeded to open fire on the shuttle.  The high command had
expressly forbidden any attacks on WDF installations because of heavy losses,
but the orders didn't apply to a single shuttle.
    The shuttle took a few hits before the shields came online.  Almost
immediately thereafter, they sent a distress signal out and began evasive
maneuvers.  However, there was a slight problem.
    The shuttle had the maneuverability and speed of a souped-up tugboat,
i.e., faster than one might expect for a vessel of its class, but not nearly
up to par against a fighter.
    In spite of this fact, the shuttle was doing quite well, the pilot being
better than average.  They even managed to last the two minutes it took for
Eight-Ball Squadron to arrive.
    That's the good news.  The bad news was that there were at least twice as
many Salthi as there were of Eight-Ball's Valkyries, which meant that sooner
or later, at least one of the Salthi would have a chance to take a few potshots
at the shuttle.
    They took full advantage of that opportunity.
    "Number two shield's failing..."  the pilot said, fighting to keep the
panic out of his voice.  This was not good at all.  He checked his instruments.
His passenger was trying to reroute power from elsewhere in the system.  In
fact, she was the major reason why their shields hadn't failed on those first
few particle beam shots.  Number three shield was about to...
    He never completed his thought.  A shot pierced through their weakened
shields, and the panel blew up in his face.  Hearing the explosion, Keriyn
turned and held up his slumped form.  Upon looking in his face, she recoiled,
letting out a gasp.
    He was dead.  The shrapnel from the panel went right through his skull.
    Keriyn's thoughts began to fragment.  She had to keep the shields up.
Disassembling the board in front of her, she began to jury-rig the shields to
the main fusion reactor onboard.
    [Shield control, shield control...where was it?!  There it...no.]
    The whole assembly was fused in that last blast.  It was amazing that
they had any semblance of shields left to this point.  Which meant that, in a
few more seconds, maybe a minute at most, the ship would be destroyed when the
shields were finally worn down.
    Frantically, she tried to put *something* together.  Almost immediately,
she felt lightheaded, almost giddy as everything began turning blue, then white.
This was accompanied with a faint pulling sensation.
    [Am I dying?]  she wondered, then vanished.
    Seconds later, the shuttle exploded.
    "FUCK!"  Gryphon spat out as he saw the explosion balloon out, then
fade away.  He dodged the Salthi at his six with a quick juke, then ran
a sensor scan.  His heart sank as he read his display.
    As expected, there were no survivors.
    [How'm I gonna break this to Doc?]  he wondered.

    Several hours later, after the mop-up, Gryphon tentatively approached
sickbay.  Doc2 was there, as always.  He was talking to a teenager on the
communications system, who he recognized as Doc2's youngest son, Pete.
[Damn, does he look like his father.]  he observed.  [Well, except for
those ears...]
    "...anyway, I saw this cute girl, and it was just...'Helloooo nurse' all
over again."
    "So, what'd she do?"
    The younger man shrugged.  "Nothing much.  She screamed, called the
locals, said I was a pervert, that kinda thing, Pop."
    "I think you need to work on your approach,"  Doc2 remarked dryly.  "And
don't call me `Pop.'"
    "I know, I know..."  Pete smiled ingratiatingly.  "So, when do you think
Mom's coming back?"
    Gryphon cleared his throat.  "Doc..."
    "I'll talk to you later,"  he said as he signed off.  "And take it easy
on that shoulder!"  Sighing, he relaxed in his chair.  "So, what can I do for
you, Ben?"
    "Doc,"  he began quietly.  This was going to be painful.  "It's about
    He told him, and Doc2 just stared at the wall.  No sudden burst of anger,
no tears, not even the "what ifs."  He just...stared.
    "Doc, I'm sorry..."
    "It's not your fault,"  Doc2 cut him off.  Looking pensive, he continued.
"It's nobody's fault,"  he said quietly.  "She was just...in the wrong place
at the wrong time."  [And dammit!  I couldn't do anything about it!]
He rose wearily out of his chair.
    "Where're you going?"
    "To my quarters.  I...gotta sort some stuff out."

                                 fades into

    Doc2 listened to the song depressedly.  He'd tried to use the DeLorean
to go back to the moment before Keriyn died, but for some reason, it just
wouldn't power up.  The room was a mess, and several dents in the wall could
be seen.  Doc2 himself was disheveled, his eyes bloodshot, and in general,
not in a very good mood, to say the least.
he screamed.
    A flash of light appeared.
    "Not now, Q.  Can't you see you've done enough?"  he said in a choked
voice.  "What're you going to do now?  Show me how she died?  Tell me that it
was all for the best?"
    "Actually, I find this rather interesting.  You were willing to alter the
past and jeopardize yourself all for one female."  Q said in a detached manner.
"I really must ask Q about human emotions.  I'm beginning to see why he is so
inordinately fascinated with your species."
    "She...was...MY...WIFE!  Not some goddamn labrat!"
    "Yes, I'm quite aware of that.  Don't attempt to change history again, or
I will be forced to use harsher methods."
    "Get the hell out of here."  was all Doc2 said in an embittered choke.
    "As you wish."  A flash of light, and he was gone.
    Knock knock knock.
    "Who the hell is it?"  he barked, his voice raw.
    "Pop?"  the voice filtered through the intercom.  He recognized it
   "Pete?"  he croaked.  [Open the door, stupid.] he berated himself.
    The door hissed open, and the young man entered, not knowing what to
find.  Pete was tall, and very much humanoid except for several factors,
namely, his slender build, and the fact that his ears came to a point.  He'd
had more than his share of being called an elf, to which he'd given plenty of
sarcastic comments.
    [Damn, I expected it to be bad, but I had no idea...]  Pete thought to
himself.  [Steady, now...]
    "I came as soon as I heard the news.  Meg and Mandy are on their way,
and Aaron's..."  he drifted off.
    His father hadn't taken in a word.
    In the dim lighting, he noticed a slight slickness coming from his
father's eyes, and realized that the elder Mui was doing something the younger
one had never witnessed.
    He was crying.
    [Ah, the hell with the sarcastic act.]  In a rare gesture, he knelt to
face his father, and embraced him.
     Pete was always the smart-mouthed one of the bunch, being more like his
father than anyone would ever admit (or handle, for that matter).  However,
he was no longer Peter David Ajlond-Mui, young man without a clue to his
He was simply his father's son, and that was all that mattered right now.
    "Th-there wasn't anything left to bury..." was all that he could manage,
his voice quivering.

MARCH 16, 2250

    The funeral was a simple affair.  No huge crowds, nothing fancy.  Just the
family and a few friends.  An empty casket was buried in the family plot, next
to Keriyn's parents.
    "You gonna be okay, little brother?"  Pearson was momentarily shaken out
of his reverie to face the voice:  his brother, Percy.  He'd made the journey
to Utopia Planitia with him in 1997, and quickly became known as `Techie,' since
everyone always called out, "Hey, techie!" when they needed his assistance.
    "Okay?"  he slowly shook his head.  "You mean, am I gonna commit suicide
in the next couple of years?"
    "Well, yeah, basically."
    "No..."  he replied, ignoring his elder (although this was relative) bro-
ther's bluntness.  "`The woods are lovely, dark and deep/But I have promises to
keep/And miles to go before I sleep.'"
    "Robert Frost?"
    "Yeah...although in our case, that should be `parsecs.'  How's the missus?"
    Percy shrugged.  "We're getting along.  She says hi, BTW.  I...uh-oh."
    "Don't tell me...Aric?"
    "He's mine."
    "Uh uh, Pearson.  I've got him."  He crossed over to intercept the
swaggering Salusian.  "Back off, Aric.  He's not in a good mood, and frankly,
neither am I."
    "Out of the way, monkey boy,"  Aric replied, shoving Percy aside.  "This is
between me and him."
    Discreetly, Techie dug into his pocket for the keychain stunner that he
and his brother carried.  He wanted more than anything to clean Aric's clock,
but now was neither the time or place for a fight.
    Sliding away the cover with his thumb, he let loose a green pellet of
light that struck Aric square in the back.  He glowed green for a second
before collapsing face-front into the grass.
    "Asshole never did have a sense of timing."  he commented, pocketing the
    Two hours later, Aric found himself in the family house, alone, the funer-
al obviously over.
    [This isn't over yet, monkey boy.]

Chapter 18---------------------------------------------------------------------

    "It's happening all over again!"  --Admiral Al Callavicci

JUNE 20, 2288

    Doc2 saw ReRob escorting a rather well-built woman past past sickbay on
his way to see pfloyd.  This drew a long stare from him for three reasons.  One,
Deedlit wasn't around.  Two, she *was* very nice looking (hey, he may be
widowed, but he wasn't dead, y'know).  The third reason didn't hit him until
the two of them were well on their way.  He'd seen that face before...oh, shit.
His face turned pale when he remembered exactly who it was.
    [Oh, shit.  This was all happening too soon, too fast!  I have to warn
somebody, tell ReRob, do *some*---]
    [No.]  He slumped down in his chair, defeated.  The best thing--no, not the
best thing, the *only* thing he could do was sit back and let things unfold as
they should.
    As they should, he snorted.  Who the hell were the Time Lords of Galli-
frey to dictate what should happen and what shouldn't, what was the "correct"
and "incorrect" timeline?  Who were they to decide who would live and die?
    He shook his head in the dim light.  Lately, my thoughts seem to have a
preachy tone to it, he mused.  And why not?  For almost three hundred years,
he was in a position to change history for the bet--
    He stopped himself in mid-syllable.  [Listen to me.  I'm criticizing the
Time Lords for deciding who does what, and I'm thinking about doing the same
thing.  Damn.  That's what I get for being able to see both sides of an
    [I really, really hate this.]
    [Well, the only thing I really can do is to wait things out.]
    "That would be advisable,"  a voice called out from seemingly out of no-
where.  A starburst of light later, and Q appeared, pompous as ever.
    "Q, I just can't sit around here and do nothing!  Do you know what's going
to happen?!"  It was a rhetorical question, but Q answered it anyway.
    "Of course I do.  Does it matter?"
    "OF COURSE IT MATTERS!!"  he yelled, slamming his palms against the desk.
"I could save some people a lot of pain if I just..."
    "*You*,"  Q said as he raised a finger, "won't do anything."
    "WHY THE HELL NOT?  I mean, a hundred years..."
    "...of pain and anguish for Gryphon, Kei, Zoner, Yuri, and the others,"
He crossed his arms.  "Oh, please, I've heard this part plenty of times.
Believe it or not, this *is* for the better."  Q said as he vanished.
    "Who says?"  Doc2 mumbled.

    Some time later, on his way to Sickbay, he nearly collided with Katie
Tanner.  She looked unnaturally pale, and what was the deal with the blood on
her cheek?
    "You okay, Temper?  You look awfully pale."
    "I'm FINE, Doc.  Jenna just gave me a checkup a few minutes ago."  she
lied smoothly.
    [Hmm...]  "So...everything's okay, right?"
    "Yeah, just gotta get some UV, that's all."
    "Right..."  he replied uneasily.
    "Catch you later."  She turned to leave.
    "Uhh, just one last thing..."
    "Yes?"  [Why was she tensing like that?]
    "You, uh, you've got some blood over here."  he fumbled, indicating the
    "Oh, thanks."  she wiped up the mess.  "See you around."
    "Yeah, right."  Something was definitely wrong with her.  Surreptitiously,
he pulled out his tricorder and took a few readings.
    [Wait a minute, this couldn't be right.]  According to this, the only
organic parts she has are her brain, circulatory system, and her skin.
    [I'd better check that again.]
    Scanning himself, he found that he had mysteriously turned into a Tribble,
one with a very low reproductive rate.
    WHAP!  He gave the obstinate scanner a good whack on the side, and all
the readings wiped themselves out of existence.
    He sighed.  [One of these days, I'm gonna find out why this thing keeps
doing that.]  Actually, it wasn't all that often.  The last time it happened,
there wasn't any reason for the malfunction.
    [Hmm...I hope it wasn't too important.]  He would get another chance
later.  For now, though, he had to get to his shift.

    The next day, Doc2 was rambling down a hallway when he almost stepped in
a mess of...something.
    What in the world?  He knelt down to examine what looked like a bunch of
...skin?  He could just barely make out some blonde hair still attached to
what must've been the scalp.  He carefully picked up a random piece to
analyze...[Damn...How the hell did this happen?]
    Whipping out his tricorder, he made an intensive scan.  It was skin, all
right...but it wasn't cloned.  There were far too many nerves for that.  No,
this was once part of a person, correction, woman, he amended.  Also, judging
by the unusually pale hue and the blonde hair, he was 99% sure that this once
belonged to Katie Tanner.
    The question was, where was the rest of her?
    The intercom next to him beeped.
    "Doc, I'm going to need you in sickbay."  Jenna said.
    "On my way."  he said, and strode briskly to the elevator.
    "Okay, I'm here,"  he announced.  "What's the dea--?"  It was then that
he noticed the Buma on life support.
    "Jee-zus quack!"  he exclaimed, something he did when caught utterly by
surprise, which wasn't often.  Mako, who was sitting nearby said Buma,
looked up.  Apparently, he'd been talking to it.  Instinctively, he reached
for the ion gun in his uniform jacket when he realized something.
    He wasn't hurt yet.  In fact, nobody else seemed to notice the oddity of
the situation.  After several seconds of exasperating silence, he pleaded for
somebody to fill him in, which they did.
    "Ummm...well, I guess that explains why you weren't quite yourself yester-
day,"  he began lamely.
    "Yeah, I guess so..."  Katie's voice filtered out of the Buma.  He found
this to be a little...disconcerting.
    "Well..."  a comment about this incident verifying that Chris loved her
for her mind died a horrible, twitching death in his brain before he could
voice it.  "This day's gone to hell and back."
    "Not exactly one of my high points, either, Doc."  Katie tried to joke
    "Ah."  Doc2 said simply, still not quite adjusted to the circumstances.
Jenna came up to him and pulled him away.  He was, understandably, beginning
to gawk, and that was the last thing either Temper or Mako needed now.
    "We're doing a couple of scans on her,"  she explained quietly.  "See if
you can't get anything useful so we can grow her a new body."
    "Oh, you mean like this?"  he asked, offering the tricorder.  "Everything
you wanted to know about her skin, including DNA scan."
    "It's a start,"  she said, taking it.

    Several hours later, as expected, all hell broke loose.  Doc2 just felt...
numb.  He was that way when he ran into Kei, fresh from the carnage at Musashi.
He was filling out a computer pad, preoccupying himself with the details on
how to regenerate Temper's body when he noticed the redhead coming down the
hall.  What he didn't notice was that she was in one of her worst moods ever.
    "Oh, hi, Kei,"  he began casually.  "How'd it go on the..."
    He never completed his sentence, mainly because she slugged him, hard.
The pad and pen clattered against the floor as he fell flat against a corridor
wall, slumping on the floor while Kei stomped her way to parts unknown.
   Rubbing his jaw tenderly, he winced where she got him.  [I think she
knocked one of my premolars loose,] he thought idly.
    "You okay, Doc?"  It was Martin, although everyone called him PCHammer
or some derivative thereof (this one redhead always called him "Diggy" for
some odd reason) by now.
    "Yeah, I'm okay,"  he replied, and the taller man helped him up.  "Thanks."
    "What's with her?"
    Picking up the pen and pad, he said, "I honestly can't say, Marty.  But
one thing's for sure."
    "Trouble always brings its relatives over."
    Sure enough, in a short while, everything went to hell.  Gryphon escaped
in his Valkyrie, with Kei in hot pursuit.  MegaZone had resigned as captain,
and turned over the reins to q.
    And then the Executioner came.
    It was a hopelessly one-sided match.  The Executioner was equipped with
phase-shields, which whisked away any weapons fire into a parallel dimension.
After taking an incredible amount of punishment, q gave the order to separate
the Daedalus and Prometheus.
    He'd been in Sickbay when everything broke loose, trying to work out how
to regenerate Katie's body.  When the order came to abandon ship, he hurriedly
helped pack what medical supplies he could.  Turning to Chris and Katie, he
noticed Edison Bell approaching them.
    [Hell, if anyone can help those two, Edison can.]  he decided.  That
settled, he made a beeline for his quarters and cleaned it out in about a
    Doc2 headed towards the cargo bay where the DeLorean was being kept.  Hop-
ping in, he dumped his belongings in the back seat and ran a quick systems
check.  [Mr. Fusion...okay.  Backup power systems...okay.  Weapons...okay.  At
least something's going my way today.]
    Closing the gull-wing door, he powered up the car and issued the command
to open the bay doors.
    They didn't open.
    He tried again.
    Still nothing.
    [Did I kill a nun or something in a past life?]  he wondered.  ['Cause if I
didn't, then the Big Guy must be feeling really sadistic today.]
    Activating his weapons, he aimed the micro-photon torpedo tube at the
door and fired four times, keeping in mind that this was a pretty thick hull.
The vacuum made itself known by sucking everything up that wasn't anchored down.
    Doc2 blasted through at, oh, about a modest mach 6.  After he put some
distance between him and the Wayward Son, he tabbed the rearview.
    The Son's engines flared to life as it headed on a direct course for its
tormentor, the biggest Star Destroyer he'd ever seen, the fortress's bow
reinforced with the blue-white dots of the pinpoint barrier system.
    [Oh, shit.]  He floored the gas pedal, going as fast as he could without
engaging the warp drive.  Time traveller or not, he still couldn't violate the
laws of physics.  Warp drive wasn't possible because he was still in Musashi's
gravity well.
    Behind him, the flagship of the Wedge Defense Force rammed itself into the
Star Destroyer and fired its main gun.
    Big does not begin to describe the explosion.
    The burning, twisted wreckage of both ships succumbed to Musashi's gravity
well, spiralling as if they were engaged in some obscene dance.
    In spite of all the preparation, all the foreknowledge of this event,
Doc2 found that his mouth was dry, and from the corner of his eye, a lone tear
was beginning to form.
    All that, and he felt like he'd been punched in the gut.
    "Calling any surviving Wayward Son personnel.  Please respond."
    [Marty.]  Instinctively, he reached for the comm, but stopped himself,
his hand balling into a fist.  [No.  Not now.]
    "This is PCHammer, calling any surviving Wayward Son personnel.  I
repeat, please respond."
    He sat there, hand paused over the comm, unsure whether to respond or
just shut it off.
    "Oh, come on, I know you're out there, you schmucks!"
    Another pause.  No one was answering.  Half of him just wanted to open a
channel and join in.  The other half was sorely tempted to just curl up into a
    "Batwing to all surviving Wayward Son personnel -- and I know you can
hear me, you're not fooling anyone -- I'm heading back to U. P.  Anyone who
gives a shit can come whenever they get the urge.  Batwing out."
    Doc2's hand slammed into the dashboard, an impotent and futile gesture.
    [What have I done?]

Chapter 19---------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Of his future, I know nothing."  -- Master Order, on Adam Warlock

AUGUST 1, 2288

    [Things are just not going my way.] Doc2 thought to himself.  Since the
collapse, every race that ever had a grudge with the WDF began to have a field
day in its absence.  His nerves were justifiably frayed, as he'd warded off
several attempts on the part of several street gangs who had tried to capture/
kill him.
    The attempt to regroup at Musashi had started out with high hopes (well,
as high as things could be at the time) but quickly went downhill.  The opinion
was that the WDF would need a long, long time to recover from this upset.
Some believed that it never would.
    Doc2 knew the future outcome of the whole debacle, but it wasn't helping
him right now.  This is mainly because he was being persued by several fighters
about 20 parsecs from Cybertron.  He'd come there because it was a haven of
sorts for him.  It was also the only planet where he could get some parts for
his DeLorean, seeing as how, in the whole mess, he hadn't had time to do much
more to the car than to fill up Mr. Fusion and run.
    WHUMP!  A laser bolt from a TIE fighter jolted him forward, nearly knock-
ing his head into the steering wheel.
    "Fun fun FUUNN...Great time for the cloaking device to give out!"  he said
bitterly to no one in particular.  Tapping in a sequence from on the console,
the rear weaponry gave his attacker something to avoid while the repairs to
the warp drive were being completed.  Using the DeLorean's time travelling
abilities wasn't much of an option, as he wouldn't be sure if the fighter
would still be on his tail or not.  Anyways, he didn't want GENOM or anyone
else knowing about that feature of the car.
    The TIE veered off to the left, a phaser beam scarring one of its solar
panels.  The respite was only temporary, enough for him to divert more power
to the rear shields.  [Come on...just give me five more seconds so I can blast
the hell out of here!]
    Uh-oh.  The fighter came back, and it brought its bigger brother, an
Assault Gunboat.  A display on his panel flashed wildly, indicating that some-
one was trying to get a lock on him.  With his shields in such sorry shape,
it'd only take one of those concussion missiles to deplete them, and another
one to finish him off.
    [Come on, where's my damn warp drive?!]
    [Thaank you.]  Setting a hasty course for Cybertron, he moved off at about
warp 6, one factor lower than maximum.

                       << Styx--"Show Me the Way" >>

                           To be continued in...
                       Hammer Time:  Days of Thunder
                              No Offense Taken

                         Look for Leap Years Part 2
                    Coming Soon to a Newsgroup Near you!

---------------------------WARNING!  AUTHOR BABBLE!----------------------------
    Well, you're probably wondering what the heck is going on here.  Allow me
to introduce myself.  I'm Pearson Mui (well, duh, you probably figured that
out by yourself.)  There are a few things that may need some clearing up.
    First of all, you may be wondering about the story.  Well, it all started
about a year ago at the old WPI ftp site.  I was perusing the various fanfics
there, and I decided to get dp.undocument.1.gz.  The next thing you know, I
started downloading everything with the name dp.u*.  Now, I'm hopelessly
hooked on UF, which is no relation to Hopelessly Lost, another series of anime
fanfics by the same guys who brought you UF (Blatant plug!).
    What does this have to do with the story?  Well, I decided to write one
for the UF universe.  However, it just couldn't be where an ordinary guy joins
the WDF, becomes a great fighter pilot, etc.  Zoner, Gryphon, ReRob, Chris
Meadows, and Martin Rose have already done that.  So, I thought to myself,
"Self, how about a time-travel story?"  To which, my self said, "Sure, as long
as you don't violate the established timeline, which is a Bad Thing (tm)."  Who
to put in the unenviable position of being a time traveller?  Heck, it's UF.
There's no reason why I can't do it.  :-)  Besides which, I've always been
fascinated with time travel, and I like most series which involve it, although
I'm a bit Dr. Who deprived.  What else do you expect from a guy who's favorite
novel is H. G. Wells' _The Time Machine_?
    Things began to snowball.  I came up with the idea of Doc (sadly, for lack
of a better nickname) because everybody takes doctors for granted.  As you can
see from the above story, Doc is anything but a regular doctor.  Well, that's
all fine and dandy, but that seems to be a bit barren for a UF story.  I needed
some tension.  Thus came the idea that Doc2 knows the future, but he really
can't do anything about it.  After all, a member of the Q continuum is keeping
an eye on him.
    (Why are they even bothering with him?  Well...let's just say that Doc2
isn't locked in for any choices.  He's quite able to change history.)
    Another few things need to be cleared up.  First of all, there's nothing
in the basement of BSB except for a really cool Winlab with Macintoshes.  I
just placed it the first scene there because Psych 100 students really do have
to have a few hours as guinea pigs to pass the class.
    The DeLorean was started by Martin Rose, a very cool guy who suggested
that I mention the car.  I did him one better, making it Doc's method of
transportation.  The weapons were my idea, though.
    You might be wondering about that scene with the chili.  Well, back in
high school, during a free period, I'd always head off to the cafeteria to
drink some OJ.  Pretty soon, though, some of the cheerleaders at the table I
sat at decided to chant "chug chug chug."  It got to the point that whenever
I entered the cafeteria, people just turned their heads in my direction.  I'm
not kidding about this.  My brother, who sat at the same table, was always
afraid that I'd choke.  (I never did.  :-))
    The stunner is based upon the MPPT in Time Trax.  Obviously, TXP is a bit
redundant, so there are only two buttons, one red and one green.  The green
knocks a person out for 2 hours (or a few minutes, if that person is a
Detian).  The red pellet is a powerful paralysis toxin which incapacitates a
person.  However, it's not possible for someone to die from this kind of
paralysis as it doesn't affect the involuntary muscles.  (Ooh, all these
technical terms, and ST:TNG is off the air.  :-))
    Lastly, I'd also like to thank all the UF authors for waiting.  It takes a
lot of patience to wait for Part 1 of a story for a year.  Yes, I started this
in September of 1993, much to the dismay of the fanfic I was then working on,
BGC:  Mainframe Marauder.  Don't expect it to come out on the Net anytime
soon.  It just wasn't working out.  BUT, you CAN expect Leap Years, Part 2 to
come out relatively soon to a newsgroup near you.
    This isn't the end of Doc's adventures.  It's only the beginning...
    Comments?  Questions?  My address is U59090@UICVM.UIC.EDU.

|Pearson Mui (say it like "boy")   *My personal philosophy-                  |
|U59090@UICVM.UIC.EDU              *Nothing is impossible, merely improbable,|
|Self-proclaimed strange medium guy*impractical, or unfeasible.              |
|with a bad haircut.  ^_^          *BGC-UF-RANMA 1/2 (Not in any order :-) ) |

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