At the end of the last chapter, Hogan let's something slip. Oops. Sucks to be him.
"Colonel Hogan, do you have an explanation?"
"For what?" He asked innocently.
"I'm not Klink, Sir. Don't play games or should I start quizzing your men. Wilson?"
Wait!"Hogan stopped Harry. "They don't remember all of it. I was responsible for the shootings. I wrote it."
Wilson stood up. "No, that's not true. I came up with the scenario."
"Wilson, sit down. I ordered it, Harry."
Harry was stunned. "You had yourself shot and killed. For god's sake, why?"
Hogan sighed and looked down at the floor. He took a deep breath and faced the judge. "I did it to prove a point. Most of those authors showed no remorse whatsoever. No sympathy or empathy for what they put my men through. I know they had no idea we existed, but even after they saw how we were affected, they didn't even say they were sorry." He paused, swallowed hard and continued. "So I thought by showing real blood, the real facts, maybe it would make a difference and every time one of us was killed, well you know…"
"You always bounce back," Harry stated.
"Yes. But something went wrong." Hogan, now feeling pangs of guilt, looked at the three authors, who were so stunned, they couldn't speak.
"Go on, Colonel." Harry's eyes were intensely focused on the commander and his men, who were uncomfortably fidgeting in their seats. None of them recalled the exact details of the scenario and what went awry, but they were all beginning to experience flashes of memories that were distinctly bothersome.
"They interfered. Susan and Denise," Hogan continued. "I guess they saw the gun."
"The gun you wrote into the story?" Harry asked.
"Yeah. It appeared in Hochstetter's pocket."
"So that's how Hochstetter got it about past security," Bull exclaimed.
"They tried to warn me and he shot them instead." Hogan, now ashamed, plopped back down in his seat.
"How could you?" Janet was outraged. She left Susan and Denise behind, walked up to the colonel and slapped him on his face. "You of all people should know better. Putting civilians at risk!"
"I know. I know." Hogan muttered.
"Ma'am, sit down," Harry ordered. "Bull."
The bailiff began to approach the author, who returned to her seat in a huff.
Meanwhile, Susan and Denise, the two previously injured parties, were both experiencing flashbacks.
"Did we really do that?" Denise asked Sue.
"I think so!" She replied.
"Boy," Denise muttered. "That was pretty brave of us, don't you think?"
Sue nodded her head in agreement then got mad and scared. "Do you think we would have bounced back?"
Denise, who was beginning to have second thoughts about her hero, although she wouldn't admit it, shrugged. Realizing something, she popped up. "But we saw him get killed!" she reminded the courtroom.
"Colonel?" Harry asked. "The original scenario? Riker?"
"Riker realized right away I had something to do with it. He's military too, you know, he saw things. After the ambulance came, he accused me outright of writing it. We went into your chambers. He thought the only way to fix things was to delete the story and rewrite a safe ending. I agreed, but I fooled him. I knocked him out and put in the original scenario with one change."
"What was that?" Janet demanded.
"Protection for the girls."
The prisoners standing near them. Janet thought back and now understood she had seen the team in action.
By now, Denise was so torn her stomach was in knots, while Susan was absolutely livid. Her temper flaring, she now lost it. "I have two kids! And I had nightmares that night, after seeing you dead," she shouted. "I can't believe this!"
"Sorry," Hogan whispered
"Oh, now look who's saying he's sorry." Susan turned away.
Harry was now in the throes of a massive headache. "Well," he said. "It appears to me that characters must follow the story line, but outsiders, like you three, can actually move outside the words. Interesting is it?"
"Fascinating," Hogan sighed again.
"The colonel didn't know if he would bounce back, Judge," Carter pleaded. "He was actually sacrificing himself to help us."
"Not going to fly, sergeant. Sorry," Harry answered.
The three women were conferring amongst themselves.
Susan stood up.
"Judge," she said. "We three are willing to forget what Colonel Hogan put us through, if he's willing to forget our rewrite."
"Under the circumstances that seems fair. Colonel, you've been very naughty. Do we have a deal?"
"Yes," Hogan grumbled.
"Good." Harry tore up a set of papers and banged his gavel.
"Ladies, in the future don't tamper with the justice system. Colonel and the rest of you. I'm afraid we're back to square one. The memory fix didn't last and you are still at the mercy of the authors' imaginations. Sorry about that, but I'll leave you with this. The good guys win." He winked at the three authors.
"I know," Hogan replied. "You wouldn't care to fill us in on one thing, Harry?"
"What's that?" the judge asked.
"The Manhattan project?" Hogan asked hopefully.
Frustrated, Hogan stood up. "Let's go," he said as he and his men headed for the exit. He stole a last glance at the three authors, who watched him leave with mixed emotions. Pausing, he flashed a quick smile and tipped his cap at the women.
Harry stepped down from the bench. "You three can go home." Relieved, the authors said their goodbyes and were miraculously returned to their domiciles, reappearing not more than a millisecond after they had left.
Hogan and his men returned to Stalag 13 in a foul mood. The colonel declined offers of coffee, as he stormed into the barracks, entered his office and slammed the door. The men who had not been in attendance, didn't have to question how the hearing had gone. Finally, it was Kinch who spoke.
"I suppose it wouldn't do any good to tell him what's coming up."
Everyone stared at sergeant.
"I got a look at a computer when I was reading Executions." Kinch sighed and grabbed a coffee mug.
"How bad?" Newkirk asked with a bit of apprehension.
"Olsen is stalled."
The sergeant who was feeling a tad better mentally, grunted. "Figures," he said.
Kinch continued. "That woman put the colonel on the Berlin Express."
"Not the one we blew up?" Carter stammered. Kinch nodded his head.
A few of the men began to look for some whiskey.
"She's a monster," Garth stated.
"Wait, there's more," Kinch said. "There are Mary Sues out all over the place."
"Not that…" Wilson, now terrified, piped up.
Now depressed, Kinch and the rest of the men in the barracks mulled over their rotten luck.
"What happened?" someone finally got the nerve to ask.
"Colonel Hogan spilled the beans," Newkirk explained, "and let's just leave it at that." He started to tear up some paper in frustration.
Meanwhile, their fearless leader was alone in his office, pacing back and forth and trying to figure out how to tell hundreds of prisoners that their nightmarish existence would continue. All he could hope for was that the three women would show some pity. Unfortunately, there were the rest of the writers. He continued to pace, all the while telling himself he had been an idiot.
Now back in the 21st century, the three authors returned to their humdrum lives. Janet, having finished torturing Newkirk and satisfied with her sequel, eagerly awaited return of her husband. Sue, still nursing her rotten muscle aches, continued to waste spiral notebooks, and Denise started a new saga and cursed the Mets. Oboe posted a description of her dream in the Yahoo group. After several weeks, all three, as well as the other authors who were mysteriously transported to another dimension, became convinced that the whole experience was also a dream. This epiphany was perhaps planted by reading Oboe's thread.
Morning dawned over Hammelburg, Germany, and the inhabitants of Luftstalag 13 began their daily routine. Roll call was shortened, as both the barrack's guard, Schultz, and the Kommandant were nursing colds. A large blanket of snow covered the ground and the men had to blow on their hands to keep warm.
"Schultz, it's too cold, everyone is confined to barracks," Klink ordered.
"Kommandant?" Hogan wanted to catch Klink before the Kommandant went inside.
"What is it? Achoo!"
"Gesundeidt. Request permission to go to the infirmary to see my men." Several prisoners, including Hogan's second in command, Sergeant Kinchloe, were down with the flu.
"Granted." Klink waved his hand. "Just don't catch anything." Klink ran back to his quarters.
Hogan entered the building and after checking with Wilson, paid a quick visit to every soldier that was laid up. He visited Kinch last. The sergeant, who was fortunately able to sit up, questioned the colonel about the previous day's mission.
"Heard you played a mean set of drums, sir." Kinch coughed. "Sorry I missed it."
"As jam sessions go," Hogan ruminated. "It wasn't bad. But in the long run, it didn't work."
Kinch let out a small laugh. "You're not going to make me believe Klink's sneeze started the avalanche."
Hogan shrugged. "Don't know. But it got the job done." He grinned. "Take it easy, Kinch."
"Will do, Colonel."
Pleased that no one was in any danger and glad that Kinch had trained Baker as backup, Hogan left the hut and hustled back to his barracks.
Satisfied with his prose, the author hit save. He then continued…
Prisoners and captors alike had no memory of the 700 plus stories on fan fiction. As of today, each adventure, whether humorous or tragic, will be played out and forgotten in order to spare the characters further trauma.
And this time, there would be no accidental discoveries to cause a memory jolt and glitch.
Judge Stone was now in possession of the flash drive Riker had given Colonel Hogan, as well as the reams of stories Hogan had printed out. They had been left at the courthouse.
The judge again hit save, downloaded his chapter and watched as the message, your story has been posted, appeared on the screen
He looked up at Bull, who was watching.
"You did a good thing today, Sir."
"Yes, Bull. I think I did." I think I did."
THE END ???????
A/N If the story the Judge posted looks familiar, it's because I used it for a chapter in "On the Cutting Room Floor." This chapter, here, was written long before that was posted.