Justin M. Howe 5600 words

Time and Time and Time Again...

Justin M. Howe

2268

It felt good to have a foil in his hand again. He dodged to evade his opponent's thrust, quickly providing one of his own. Lately, Sulu had felt like he only ever existed in either one of two states: sleeping, or at the helm of the Enterprise. A parry and a thrust; his opponent could have him if he lost his concentration. Not that he had any room to complain; of all the ships in the fleet, Enterprise was the finest. Sulu leapt over his opponent's foil and countered with a thrust that finally broke through her defenses, his foil's tip landing in the center of her chest, earning him the bout-winning touch.

Sulu removed his mask with a flourish, revealing his wide smile and gleaming white teeth. "Excellent bout, Christine!"

The defeated nurse took a little longer getting her mask off. "Thank you, Mr. Sulu, I've had an excellent instructor."

With a theatrical bow, Sulu answered, "My pleasure, my lady. Same time next week?"

Chapel returned the bow. "I wouldn't miss it!"

Sulu made his way through the corridors to his quarters. Mopping the sweat from his brow with a towel, he gazed around at the magnificent ship he inhabited. Even after several years, she could still take his breath away as if he were a newly minted cadet, seeing her for the first time.

He pressed the stud that opened the door to his quarters. A sonic shower was going to feel great after that bout. Unfortunately, Sulu discovered as the lights came on in his quarters; the shower was going to have to wait.

Sulu's usual steely manner melted away. His hand trembled as it reached for the stud near the door that activated the com system. "Sulu to the bridge." he said, failing to completely mask his anxiety.

"Spock here, helmsman."

"Spock, send a security team to my quarters immediately."

"What is the trouble, Sulu?"

"Sir, there has been a murder in my quarters!"

2245

Gorkon let the hot air of the Qo'noS summer whip through his wild hair, which had grown knotted and tangled in his efforts. His father would call it a 'Warrior's sacrifice', but Gorkon rather enjoyed being neat and tidy and didn't care for his father's lectures on the Klingon habits of neglecting hygiene. Gorkon despised his father, but held the moors of Klingon society very close to his heart, so he did not defy him. Such action would not serve any function but to disgrace his noble house and he did not want that.

So he found himself at the age of twelve, contemplating his approaching Age of Ascension. When a young Klingon is contemplating devoting his life to being a full-fledged Klingon warrior, it is customary that he go on a Challenge of Spirit and search his very soul. If, at the end of the challenge he has not proved himself worthy of being a warrior, then the Age of Ascension ceremony can not be performed, resulting in dishonor to his family's house.

He stood at the highest point in the Hamar Mountains and contemplated the terrain he had just traversed with extreme satisfaction. One day, I will rule all that I survey here and more.

As he began his descent, Gorkon mused on his ambitions for the future. It wasn't that he was greedy, or overly ambitious, not that the quest for power was against the Klingon creed. It was just that his house was in such good standing with the High Council that it only made sense for him to eventually be the one to lead.

He knew in his bowels that he would change the course of history for the Klingon Empire when he did so. He had his sights already set on the Federation. Not for conquest, but for understanding. He held dreams of becoming the first Klingon Chancellor to expand the empire through peaceful means. Expansion equaled strength, and if expansion could occur without the loss of life and resources than so much the better. Gorkon believed that if anyone could achieve peace with the Federation, it would be him. He hadn't shared this vision with anyone else, of course. Such thoughts would be tantamount to treason. He would continue to strive toward his goals secretly, yet passionately.

He adjusted his war club in its sheath on his back. He had been allowed one weapon on his quest, naturally he had chosen his club. To him, the club held more honor. It forced him to look his enemy in the eye and use all of his cunning and strength against his foe. A sharp blade felt almost like cheating. There was no joy in dispatching your opponent before you truly got to know him.

It had been a month since he had gone out naked but for the club on his back, ready to take on the Universe in pursuit of his goal: to bring back the fang of a sabre bear and return to the First City with it. If young Gorkon could do that, he would have earned the right to his Age of Ascension ceremony, and more importantly, demonstrate his determination to be a Warrior.

Gorkon stopped. He raised his head and sniffed the air. Had he heard something in the brush beyond? He couldn't be sure. His father had taught him to be fully aware of his surroundings. To smell an approaching enemy on the wind. Or approaching prey. Gorkon crouched. Could he feel the tremors of the approaching sabre bear in the ground beneath his feet?

Nothing yet.

Gorkon again let his mind wander. He smiled as he thought of Keh'sru. The girl he had grown up with had recently attained a more meaningful place in his heart. He couldn't possibly entertain the notion that they could be lovers until he had ascended, but he hoped that when that ritual was complete that she and her family would deem his love acceptable for her. He dreamed of the home they would share. He dreamed of their children. He saw himself in the robes of the Chancellor with her by his side.

Pain.

As Gorkon's body pitched forward, all he could see was pulsing red. All he could feel was the pain wrenching up his spine. He rolled head over heels down the mountainside, blindly flailing for something to stop his fall. Mercifully, his hand snagged a root that jutted from the ground. He lay there on his back, small rocks irritating the fresh wound. It was then that he realized his club was missing.

Taking a couple more deep breaths, Gorkon regained some composure. His sight was returning. Painfully, he rolled to his side. He looked back up the mountain to see his attacker, but none was to be found. What, in Fek'lhr's name had happened to him?

Groaning, Gorkon slowly got to his feet. When he was sure he had his footing, he began to climb. He must find his club if he had any hope of eating, much less defeating the great sabre bear.

A rustle in the foliage.

Gorkon stopped, crouched. He caught a whiff in the air of that which he had hunted. If only he had his club. He pushed his way toward the sound. He crouched lower when he saw her. The sabre bear hunched over something, Gorkon was beneath her notice. When the object she was studying turned out to be of no use to her, she batted it aside.

Gorkon's club lay there in the dirt. The sabre bear yawned, it's terrifying maw opening wide to reveal fangs at least as tall as Gorkon himself! The beast stretched and lay in the dirt, placing a huge paw on Gorkon's weapon of choice, making him wince. Gorkon took a deep breath. This was a temporary hindrance. His prey and his weapon were in one place. He could wait until the creature stirred or made a move that would release the club. Then he could make his move.

2268

McCoy raised an eyebrow at the latest resident of sickbay. The gesture irritated him, for it reminded him too much of his green-blooded "colleague". The captain would want a report soon, so the good doctor quickly got down to business.

The initial medical scans had not identified the body as anyone on the current roster. Since everyone had to go to sickbay for everything from routine exams to serious emergencies, McCoy made it a point to learn the names and faces of everyone on board. This man he had never seen before in his life.

His eyes went wide as his deep-tissue scan progressed. He ran to the nearest companel and jammed his thumb pressing the button.

"Sickbay to Captain Kirk."

"What can you tell me, Bones."

"You'd better get down here, Captain." McCoy answered. "I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes!"

"On my way."

When Kirk entered sickbay, he found his Chief Medical Officer pacing around the bio-bed. The doctor's eyes met the captain's. There was a fire there that Kirk had rarely seen. "What is it, Bones?"

"I scanned and rescanned. I ran diagnostics on all the equipment. My God Jim, I even used three different tricorders!"

Kirk grabbed McCoy by the shoulders to stop his muttering and pacing. "Bones. Get a hold on yourself. What is it? What have you found?"

McCoy took a moment to regain himself. "Jim, if my scans are correct; and I have every reason to believe that they are; then this man is from at least a hundred, if not three-hundred years into the future!"

"That's a bit vague, Bones." Kirk cracked a wry smile. "Could you narrow it down a bit?"

"Believe me, I've tried." Bones answered, refusing to respond to Kirk's sarcasm. "I've run every simulation I can think of." Now it was McCoy's turn to grin. "I even resorted to asking Spock for help."

Kirk raised his eyebrows, but said nothing.

"There's no way of knowing what kind of evolutionary leaps mankind will take as we gain more and more exposure to alien life. All that inter-species breeding..." Bones said, looking Kirk square in the eye.

Kirk shrugged, feigning innocence.

"What I'm saying is," Bones continued, "is this man seems to have antibodies in his bloodstream for diseases that don't exist. At least not yet."

Kirk at first seemed stunned, but recovered quickly. "Well..." he said before cracking a boyish grin." Usually it's us mucking about with time."

"Dammit Jim, this is no laughing matter! We've seen with our own eyes what 'mucking about with time' can do."

Kirk turned from his friend as memories of Edith Keeler flooded his mind. "Yes," Kirk said softly. "I remember..."

"Then you know as well as I do that if my theory is correct, the timestream may already be altered, and we must do everything we can to make it right!"

Kirk simply nodded. "Thank you, Bones. I'll need a minute. In my quarters. Call a meeting of the senior officers for 1500."

2245

As night fell, Gorkon felt exhaustion setting in, his empty stomachs rumbled beneath his ribs. The wound in his back was sore and stiff. He began to wonder if he would be effective in this battle when the time came. He gently stood, careful not to make any loud noises that would waken the slumbering beast. He stretched his back, testing it. A few drops of lavender blood hit the ground, but after a few more stretches, he was sure that his body would not disappoint him.

The beast stirred. Her paw left the club. If Gorkon was to act, he would have to do so now! Swiftly, he ran. Arm outstretched, he was ready to take back his property. The back of her huge paw caught him in his midsection, knocking the wind out of him and sending the small Klingon hurtling through space. His body slammed into a tree and slid down to the ground. He was dazed. But not dazed enough to not see the huge creature lumbering toward him. He rolled out of the way before she could land another stunning blow. Leaping to his feet, he made another attempt at recovering his club.

The bear was faster than he, however, and swatted his hind quarters, sending him sprawling. Fortunately, she had miscalculated, her blow sent him straight toward his club, and he was able to grab it before smashing once more to the ground. The agony in his back was almost paralyzing. Almost. He came to realize that this creature must have been what attacked him in the first place. His prey had been hunting him. This dumb animal had nearly gotten the best of him.

An unearthly roar that his ancestors must have heard in Sto-Vo-Kor erupted from Gorkon's throat. He charged the beast, swinging his club high over his head. The blow landed squarely on the top of her skull. She howled in pain, lashing out at him with her claws, one sinking deep into his thigh. He heard the claw scraping his bone before tearing back out through his muscle. Screaming in rage and pain, he turned his club so that the smaller end pointed toward the bear's face. With satisfaction, he plunged the club deep into the bear's eye. She yowled and convulsed, flailing around, but Gorkon managed to evade her paws, shoving the club deeper and deeper until she convulsed powerfully, one final time.

She was dead. He had killed her.

He reared his head back, howling in the customary way for his fallen adversary. She had been an honorable warrior; he would leave his club inside her. A sacrifice of his own in return for the sacrifice she had made. Now she would provide as much food as he could possibly hope for in order to restore his strength for the long journey home.

Even more importantly, he would have his prize. He decided right then and there, he would become a Warrior, he would be worthy of Keh'sru. He reached in and tugged on the beast's largest fang, the one that was as big as he, and it would not budge. Apparently, the old girl still had some fight left in her. He found a sharp rock and began to cut away at the creature's gums.

As the first rays of dawn warmed Gorkon's face, he awoke. Covered in both the saber bear's blood and his own, the fang lay beside him, freed of the beast's head. Sometime during the night, he had fashioned a splint around his damaged leg from branches and vines. He lay back, watching the sun rise. This had been a glorious victory for the boy that would one day be Chancellor.

2554

Lieutenant Commander Frank Allen paced his quarters aboard the Enterprise-J and thought about time. Frank was a twenty-year veteran of the Temporal Cold War. He'd seen atrocities done to the timestream that made his skin crawl. Where the historians got off referring to the ordeal as a cold war was beyond his understanding. To someone in the trenches, this war was white hot and showed no signs of cooling any time soon.

Switching on his Temporal Observatory, he shook his head in disgust. The Na'kuhl had shaken up much of Federation history, especially Earth's. Temporal agents had their hands full ironing out the kinks. They spent so much of their time reacting to what their enemies did to their timeline, that they couldn't wreak any havoc on their own.

"Federation beuracrats." Frank stopped himself from spitting on the deck plate. "What do they know?" All the rules and morals and ethics that had been laid down by the Federation had been completely naïve. The Universe didn't run on any rules that couldn't be bent or broken. At every turn until this temporal war was discovered, it seemed the Federation could mend anything, make everything alright with their abundant optimism. It had made them over-confident and weak.

Sure, the Federation had enemies, but they were slowly but surely brought into the fold. Once the Khitomer Accords had solidified peaceful coexistence between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, there had been no stopping them. Facing little opposition, the Federation continued to sing the song of peace, coexistence, and non-interference with pre-warp societies. "We almost lost the Dominion War, but did that dampen our spirits? No! If anything, our victory strengthened our resolve that we were right.

"So when the Na'Kuhl and whoever else was out there messing with time were discovered, we were shocked that anyone would go around acting like that. We were caught with our pants down."

It was all becoming clear to Frank Allen. The Federation needed a lesson in humility, and what better place to start than Khitomer?

2290

Lieutenant Isaac Card sat in his quarters, reading a fascinating paper on temporal mechanics, which had always been an interest of his. As a boy, he would read of the temporal misadventures of Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise, which was one of the reasons he put in for this transfer. To serve alongside the original Miracle Worker himself would be an unbelievable honor!

Unfortunately, the transwarp experiment had failed, and Captain Montgomery Scott had left Excelsior before Isaac had come aboard. His disappointment turned to elation, however, when he received his transfer orders and discovered that Hikaru Sulu had taken command! To Card, Sulu was as unto a god! He had been at the helm for nearly all of Kirk's temporal adventures! He had sling-shotted around the sun! He had experienced the temporal surges around the Guardian's planet! Why, he even-

Isaac's thoughts were interrupted by his door chime. "Uh... Enter?"

Captain Hikaru Sulu stood within the threshold of Isaac Card's quarters with a warm smile on his face. Isaac quickly jumped to his feet. "Sir!"

"At ease, Lieutenant." Sulu said. "Since this is my first mission as captain of the Excelsior, I'm making it top priority to meet each member of my crew face to face."

"Oh! Okay." Card answered. If his eyes opened any wider, Sulu thought, they'd fall right out of his skull.

"May I come in?" the captain asked.

"Oh, why yes! Of of course!"

Sulu stepped into the Lieutenant's quarters. Sulu knew you could tell a lot about a man by the way he kept his room. Card's was nice and tidy. Not too many personal belongings, no art on the wall. This was a man that didn't need or want any distractions. Sulu couldn't help but notice what his lieutenant had been accessing on his terminal. Smiling, he asked, "Is temporal mechanics a hobby of yours?"

"More like an obsession!"

Sulu seemed to stand a little taller. "You know, I've had some personal experience with time travel."

"Oh, I know. I've read everything that's on the nets about you're adventures on the Enterprise!"

"Well," Sulu chuckled. "Some of those accounts are a bit exaggerated."

"I'd love to hear about them straight from you, sir!" It was out of Isaac's mouth before he could stop himself. Great, now the captain's going to think I'm a galaxy-class suck-up! Stupid, stupid!

Sulu smiled. "You know, back on the NX-01, Captain Archer started a tradition that a lot of captains have gotten away from. Maybe we should bring that tradition back."

"Sir?"

"Every morning, Archer would have breakfast with a member of his crew. It wasn't always members of his command staff, either. Anyone could be invited at any time."

Isaac realized what this meant. "You mean-?"

"Would 0700 in my ready room work for you, Lieutenant?"

"You bet!" Card beamed. "I mean: yes, sir!"

Sulu couldn't help but grin broadly as he left Card's quarters. The lieutenant had reminded him somewhat of Pavel Chekov when he had first come aboard the Enterprise. And, Sulu had to admit that Card reminded him a bit of himself as well. Something gnawed at the pit of his stomach, however. Something felt like he'd seen the boy before. As he pressed the call button on the next crewman's door, he made a mental note to look into that a little deeper.

Sulu sat at the table in his ready room and looked over the spread before him. Three types of melon, eggs Benedict, milk, freshly squeezed orange juice from freshly replicated oranges. That was one of the largest ironies of serving with Starfleet, Sulu thought: that orange juice was still better squeezed from the fruit directly even if the fruit itself was a replication.

His door chime rang. "Enter." Sulu answered. The door slid aside to reveal Lieutenant Card, looking just as anxious as he had been the night before. Sulu stood and approached him, arm extended. "Welcome." He said. Card took the proffered hand and shook it. Despite his nervousness, Card's grip was strong. Sulu respected that.

"Please," Sulu said, gesturing to the chair opposite the one he had just occupied. "Have a seat, Lieutenant."

Laughing nervously, Card sat down.

"So," Sulu began, inspecting a piece of melon at the end of his fork, "What made you come aboard the Excelsior?"

Card blushed, "Well, if you want to know the truth, sir, I wanted to serve with Captain Scott." Card didn't take his eye off of his plate the entire time he spoke.

"I don't blame you!" Sulu said, cutting a small piece of egg Benedict. "Serving with a man like Scottie is an invaluable experience."

Card's eyes suddenly shot up and met Sulu's. "But when I saw that you would be my captain, I was overjoyed! You were my hero growing up!"

Sulu gently placed his fork down on his plate. After swallowing his last bite, he said, "Lieutenant, if you keep reminding me of my age like this, I'll have you thrown in the brig!"

Those wide eyes reappeared. "Oh, no, sir! I'm truly sorry if I offended you!"

"At ease, Lieutenant." Sulu said, raising a hand. "Other than giving me a slightly inflated ego, you haven't done me any harm."

Card seemed to exhale at that. Sulu really was starting to like this kid. "Alright," Sulu said, "now tell me what you would like to know about time travel and the Enterprise."

2293

Three years had passed since that first wonderful, if not embarrassing breakfast Isaac had had with Captain Sulu, and he was now proud to be listed among the captain's friends.

He especially enjoyed these Thursday morning fencing bouts with the captain. Isaac had never been an athletic man, but Sulu had explained to him that fencing was not just an athletic activity, but also an exercise in strategy and reflexes. One must get to know one's opponent to truly defeat him, much like the competition one runs into throughout one's life.

Sulu's touch landed true. Isaac had allowed himself to be distracted. Again. He pulled his mask off saying, "I'm sorry, sir."

Sulu removed his mask as well. "Nonsense. You've made tremendous improvement. Just remember: focus. No matter what else is going on, when you're locked in competition, never take your eye off of the opponent, and never take your mind off of the task at hand."

"Thanks." Isaac said with a weak smile.

"Don't mention it. Now go back to your quarters and grab a shower and a nap. We have a long day tomorrow, we arrive in Klingon space at approximately 0930."

2293

Chancellor Gorkon gazed at the cane he had fashioned from the tusk of the cave bear. The limp had never fully disappeared. Keh'sru's family had accepted Gorkon with open arms. His daughter Azetbur was a constant source of joy for him. And he had become Chancellor. He would achieve peace with the Federation. With Captain James T. Kirk as his envoy to the peace talks on Earth, Gorkon knew that his mission of peace would be a success. Kirk, like himself, was a visionary, often going against what his society put forth as proper in the interest of a greater good. That, coupled with his obvious hatred of Klingons would be a definite boon in Gorkon's favor. If Kirk could be convinced that peaceful coexistence between their peoples was possible, than the entire Federation couldn't be too far behind...

"Chancellor," one of his attendants spoke. "The Enterprise is ready for you."

"Excellent." he said, but Chancellor Gorkon felt a wave of anxiousness. As a boy, he had not feared the beast. But this undiscovered country of a future where Klingon and human didn't fear each other? Now that his dreams were coming to fruition, he couldn't help but fear what some of his people would do without a great enemy. Such were concerns for the future, however.

As Chancellor Gorkon stepped on to the transporter platform that would send him and his people to the future, he took a deep breath and thought, Today is a good day... for peace!

2293

The plan was simple: make sure that no one botched the assassination of the Federation President. And make sure that the Klingons would be blamed, just as Kirk had been blamed for Gorkon's death.

Frank Allen hadn't had much faith in the enlistment of Burke and Samno for the slaughter of Gorkon, but they had far exceeded expectations. Valeris had no problem killing them for their fine service, leaving Frank safe in the shadows.

Now, as he traveled just ahead of the Enterprise, in Kirk's fool-hardy attempt to save the President's life, Frank felt a swell of pride deep within his chest. The Federation would be dealt a critical blow when the cold war with the Klingons turned hot, and Starfleet would spend far more energy on militaristic goals, making them far better suited for the conflicts that were to come.

2294

"Transfer?" Sulu said, looking at his friend Isaac in disbelief.

Isaac just sat there in Sulu's ready room, looking down at his feet. For a moment, he thought he might change his mind. No, this is what I need to do. Something in my gut tells me that this is wrong. We should not be losing men out there against the Klingons. The Klingons should be given the right to rebuild Qo'noS after the explosion of Praxis. He looked into his captain's eyes.

"I'm sorry, sir. I know how disappointing this must be for you, after taking me under your wing like this, but this Department of Temporal Investigations job is everything I've ever wanted out of life. I told you when we met that temporal mechanics were an obsession of mine, and now I get a chance to do some good with my knowledge!" Best not to tell him altering the timeline is my main goal.

"Whoa, Isaac." Sulu said when he was sure his friend was done ranting. "I know you want this." Sulu stood, came around his desk so that he was within arm's reach of Isaac. "I also know that a crewman that doesn't feel he's where he should be doesn't usually perform at his best. During these hard times, I can't afford to have a man on board who isn't giving me and my ship his all." Isaac hung his head. Sulu placed a hand on Isaac's shoulder. "I'm not slighting you, Lieutenant. I'm merely saying that I've read some lackluster reports from your supervising officers lately, and now I understand why."

Sulu released Isaac's shoulder saying, "Believe it or not, I know how you feel. That is why I'm granting your request."

Isaac had never heard sweeter words spoken. He leapt out of his chair and caught Sulu in a big bear hug. "Oh, thank you, sir! Thank you!"

A shocked Sulu returned the embrace. "You're welcome, Isaac." Pushing Isaac away, Sulu said, "You better hurry, we rendezvous with the U.S.S. Wells in just under an hour!"

Where time does not exist

Temporal Agent Isaac Card stood in front of the Guardian. In the years since its discovery, it had remained tightly guarded by Starfleet personnel and studied by Starfleet scientists. While they had gathered fantastic amounts of historical data from the Guardian, Starfleet had not succeeded in discerning the true nature of the… creature? Machine? Entity?

Nevertheless, it had become an important tool and on extremely rare occasions was someone allowed to step through it. Agent Card felt the enormous honor that he would be one such person. Although his hair had grayed by now and he'd seen many wonders throughout time; he still had a sense of wonderment about the fluidity of time.

Card glanced at his tricorder. The temporal incursion was close. The moment he had lived for was close at hand. It would be up to him to save the President's life.

2293

Frank Allen sat in the crowd at Khitomer, listening to the President and his over-confident talk of peace. He glanced up the spire where he knew that Colonel West was waiting to take down the Federation President with a Klingon disruptor. West had even put together a very convincing Klingon costume in case anyone caught a glimpse of him.

Frank returned his gaze to the Presidential podium as his hand rested on the small phaser he had tucked away under his tunic. 26th century technology had proved undetectable by 23rd century methods. On the off chance West failed, Frank would finish the job himself.

"Enjoying the show?"

Frank stiffened, for the unfamiliar voice was accompanied by a hard poke in the ribs. He looked down at the stranger's hand, which held an older but just as deadly phaser.

"I'd say it's time to leave." the stranger said. "We've got men planted everywhere, so don't try anything you'll regret."

The grey-haired stranger gripped Frank's arm tightly, leading him back out through the crowd. The stranger smiled, glancing at his wrist-chronometer. "Yep, Captain Kirk should be along any moment now."

Isaac was pretty proud of himself. Through many exhausting missions with the DTI, he had discovered ways to see more than one timeline. When he discovered a reality where the Federation and Klingons had found peace, he knew that had to be the right one.

Reveling in his victory, he turned to watch the historical events he had helped preserve. His smile didn't fade when everything went white, then black.

As the timeshuttle broke orbit, Frank Allen cursed himself. He should have known it couldn't be that easy. He looked back at the body of the man who had thwarted his plan. Damn him. Now that he had disrupted the timestream by his mere presence here, his captain would no doubt be aware that Frank's shore leave hadn't been a quick jaunt to Risa. He couldn't very well go back to that time and place, now could he?

He set the temporal coordinates and set course for Deep Space Station K-7 in the year 2268, the site of another temporal incursion that seemed harmless enough in his research, but which he kept filed away in case he needed cover. He would be harder to detect among the disturbances already present in the timestream.

Switching to stealth mode, the time shuttle hovered above the Enterprise's saucer section. Beaming his unwanted cargo aboard would be easier than shooting tribbles in a barrel.

2294

Captain Sulu sat in his ready room reminiscing on his days aboard Enterprise. Having Isaac aboard had had that effect on him. Now that Isaac had requested a transfer to DTI, Sulu found himself thinking back to the still unsolved mystery of the corpse in his quarters twenty-five years ago.

Bringing up all the data from that incident, he found McCoy's autopsy reports. Sulu was stunned to see a much older Isaac Card, grimacing in death. Morbid curiosity took over and Sulu enlarged and enhanced the image of the face of the victim. Upon closer inspection, Isaac's friend realized that what he had mistaken as a grimace was not an expression of pain at all. It was a smile. Whatever had caused the man to die, it must have been for a cause that Isaac truly believed in.

Sulu thumbed the com switch on his desk. "Captain to Lieutenant Card."

"This is Isaac, go ahead Captain."

"Can you report to my ready room, please?"

2268

After an exhausting investigation, Captain Kirk had found the evidence that could clear Sulu's name. He had made Dr. McCoy's scans available to Starfleet Headquarters and Starfleet Medical, which clearly stated that the man had to have come from the future, and that the plasma burn found on his chest was from a weapon that was as yet unknown to the Federation, probably from the future as well. For good measure, he had also opened all official and personal logs of the Enterprise crew to Starfleet Command, so that a thorough analysis could be made as to who aboard the Enterprise could even be capable of cold-blooded murder.

After much deliberation, Kirk was happy to once again see Sulu at the helm.

"Welcome back, Mr. Sulu!" Kirk said.

Sulu swiveled his chair to look at his captain. "Happy to be back, sir."

"I've been court-martialed myself, Lieutenant. If you need a little more time,"

"That won't be necessary, sir." Sulu gave Chekov a knowing glance. "Nothing calms my nerves more than taking this beauty for a spin."

"Amen to thet!" Chekov said.

"Well," said their captain, "what are we waiting for, Mr. Sulu? Get us the hell out of here!"

Sulu turned back to his controls. "Aye, aye, sir."

Howe, Time and Time and Time Again- 32 -