What happens when you fall in love with someone who you can't have?

Star Trek
Enterprise

Spring Thaw

A Star Trek Fan Fiction By
J. R. GERSHEN-SIEGEL

P
G-13- Parents Strongly Cautioned

Some material may be not be appropriate

for children under 13

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Chapter 1

Come all without, come all within

You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn

Come all without, come all within

You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn

– Manfred Mann (The Mighty Quinn)

=/\=

It was springtime, and a few months had elapsed. It was March of 3110 – the twenty-seventh, to be precise. A year ago, Rick Daniels had started to go out with Tina April. But she was long gone.

As for Sheilagh Bernstein, his colleague at the Temporal Integrity Commission, he saw her on and off but it was casual and, while fun, had no real depth to it, although the sex was mighty good.

There was no equinox where Richard Malcolm Daniels was, for the Temporal Integrity Commission was actually located on a ship, the USS Adrenaline. He and his coworkers were responsible for maintaining, preserving and restoring the original – and thereby correct – timeline.

But there were others, those who didn't share the Commission's vision of allowing history to unfold normally and correctly, warts and all. That group – the Perfectionists – had as its aim the correction and improvement of time. They had begun their assault on history by going after the Human Unit although they really wanted to jigger and improve the history of numerous species.

History, fate or time – or perhaps even God – had made things turn out one, certain, way, and that way was often unfair and cruel. The Perfectionists had no qualms whatsoever about switching things around, changing or adding to or subtracting from the original history.

They could do better.

Their arrogance had no bounds, and no ambition was too great. They were unmerciful, even as they dug in for more mercy over history and time. They had already killed in order to support their vision and protect their secrets. The line had, forever, been crossed.

One of their more outrageous acts had been to kidnap a human-Witannen cross named Otra D'Angelo. Otra had a gift for seeing temporal alternatives. Removing her from the Temporal Integrity Commission's Human Unit had cut to the heart of that team. They missed her, and wanted her back, and not just because of her gift. She was their friend, and they wanted her to be safe.

=/\=

Things had been quiet for a while. Section 31 – a governmental agency that was just as secret and shadowy as both the Temporal Integrity Commission and the Perfectionists – was busy looking for Otra. It had been about six months, and the trail had gone cold. The Perfectionists – the name of that movement was unknown to the Temporal Integrity Commission although it was known to Section 31 – had lain low.

They had been biding their time, working to get memories to fade and chemical and radiation signatures to slip away like just so many golden summer nights.

It was almost time to, again, act.

=/\=

Rick was beginning to have a bit of a dilemma on his hands. He didn't love Sheilagh – he'd never loved any of his women – but she was good company, both in and out of his or her bunk. But she was … there.

That made her available but it also was causing, perhaps, his biggest problem – how could he end it without completely poisoning the entire working environment?

This was not the first time he had bedded a coworker. It had been 3104, and he and his boss, Carmen Calavicci, had had a little too much tequila at a Cinco de Mayo party. One thing had led to another and …

… and at least Carmen had the good sense to nix things the following day.

When it came to Sheilagh, though, she was not so easily scared off. They kept their relationship – such a strange word for two people who, truth be told, were no more than bed buddies, really – quiet. The only person who'd inferred anything was going on was their coworker, HD Avery, but Sheilagh was able to keep him in line. He was less than half her age and bratty, but with her he was generally compliant.

The others, though, were more or less utterly oblivious. Deirdre Katzman, one of the engineers, was in love and blind to pretty much anyone and anything that wasn't Bruce Ishikawa. As for the other two department engineers, Kevin O'Connor remained lost in his grief over losing his wife, Josie – although it had been over a year – and Levi Cavendish was so caught up in his adult ADHD and Asperger's – not to mention that he missed Otra terribly – that he was barely aware of anything beyond his own nose.

Departmental doctors Boris Yarin and Marisol Castillo were far too wrapped up in their own affair to notice. He was particularly paranoid about being caught, seeing as he was married and was a mix of human, Klingon and Xindi sloth. The combination made him aggressive, suspicious and more than a little nutty at times.

The other time traveler, Thomas Grant, was not one for gossiping, so he didn't pick up on the clues. And the last member of the team, Quartermaster Crystal Sherwood, was far too busy trying to decrypt a secret message.

That message was a Manifesto. The department didn't know that its authors called themselves the Perfectionists. All they knew was that there was some other side, a side that wanted to bend time to its will.

They had been given the Manifesto file when one of the Perfectionists' operatives had stolen a time ship called the Audrey Niffenegger. The Audrey was an older ship, designed by Levi to run on chronitons. The Perfectionists' agent had taken the Audrey to Clear Lake, Iowa on February third of 1959, and kept Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. Richardson – the Big Bopper – from getting on a private plane and thereby dying that day.

Was it the day the music died? Not after that agent was through with it, for she had turned it into the day the music lived.

Rick had gone in, and fixed that and those three musicians, again, met their deaths in a senseless plane crash. From Rick's perspective, that had been August of 3109. And so the game of temporal tug of war had begun.

=/\=

The Manifesto file consisted of a total of 193 words, divided into five paragraphs. The first two had been deciphered, and read as follows:

There is much wrong with history.

Humans have slaughtered each other by the millions. Suffering has been endured by countless innocents. Pain, disease, poverty and starvation have all been borne by too many. War has been the overarching force, rather than a rare accent seen sparingly over the millennia.

The remainder was trickier. The middle paragraph was the longest, clocking in at sixty-six words. The last two paragraphs, respectively, were fifty-one and twenty-seven words long.

The file itself was a corker. It could and did change every few minutes or so, showing all manner of different codes as it went. Random guessing was penalized with faster code changes or hidden pieces. However, correct guesses were rewarded with slower code changes or slightly easier to decipher variations. The Perfectionists wanted the code to be cracked, as they wanted their message to be read, understood and followed. In part, it was intended to be a recruiting tool for them.

But they also didn't want it to be cracked quite so quickly, as it was useful to them if the Temporal Integrity Commission was kept occupied and guessing. So they balanced the code changes, rewarded educated guesses and did their best to tailor the coding to the talents of the members of the Human Unit.

How did they know that unit's many talents? Simple. They had more than one operative within the Temporal Integrity Commission, watching the Human Unit's every move and reporting back as anything interesting happened. At least one of those double agents was firmly ensconced directly within the Human Unit, and she was a good, ruthless soldier who was collecting data, working on weaker personnel who could, potentially, be turned, and available in case any killing was needed, for she was more than willing to do what it took to get the Perfectionists what they needed. She was sitting pretty, and no one suspected a thing.

Her name was Marisol Castillo.

=/\=

Everybody's building ships and boats

Some are building monuments, others are jotting down notes

Everybody's in despair, every girl and boy

But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here

Everybody's gonna jump for joy

– Manfred Mann (The Mighty Quinn)