The Stitch

Lieutenant Stev

Intelligence Officer

Encrypt protocol Scarecrow Beta:

Retinal scan confirmed:

Password: ********

Mission Log Stardate 2315.508: I hate time travel. I've done it before and have hated it every time. It's not the increased security I need for the Ghost Rider or the fact I need to make sure I don't corrupt the timeline. It's the blasted deceleration and G-forces the ship goes through on the slingshot maneuver. I hope Frankenstein brings up my suggestion to his contacts within Starfleet. The Federation needs a department to investigate temporal anomalies. I DON'T want the job.

Now that I've got that out of my system, Frankenstein wants to me to investigate possible timeline corruptions made by the crew of the USS Heinlein during their recent 'accidental' trip to the early 21st century.

Personal side note: maybe I can watch my shuttle's namesake first appearance on celluloid while I'm there.

-----

"Krysl'r," Stev remarked as the Ghost Rider completed its deceleration around Sol, "that was a rough one."

"Please let's not have it quite so rough on the return trip," Phread's reply came across the computer screen.

"I agree with you little buddy. We're going to need to fix the inertial dampeners before we try that again."

"Computer says the dampeners are working properly."

"You should know better than to believe everything a computer tells you. How many times have our instincts been accurate when the computer has been wrong?"

"About as many times as the computer has been correct when your instinct has been wrong," the tribble made a sarcastic squeal as his reply scrolled by.

Stev sighed. His tribble's native intelligence had been given an outlet when October's scientists gave him the ability to interface with most computer systems. Stev wasn't quite sure he agreed with the scientists when they had genetically enhanced Phread's intelligence, as it given the little ball of fur a decidedly sarcastic streak.

Stev piloted the Ghost Rider up and out of the ecliptic. He deftly maneuvered the craft towards Earth's orbit. Once there he flew towards the moon and brought the craft into a parking orbit on the dark side of Earth's natural satellite.

"Phread according to star positions what is today's date?"

"May 14th, 2007."

"Good, that's within one week of our target date. Begin scanning all satellite transmissions and bring up the encrypted order packet."

"Will do."

Stev watched his tribble begin to bounce happily as it and the computer began to work on Stev's instructions. The encrypted file containing Stev's orders appeared on the terminal in front of him. Stev swiveled his chair one hundred and eighty degrees and looked directly at an innocuous spot on the bulkhead.

"Retinal scan complete. Waiting for voice recognition code," the computer announced.

"The'kanse'nygma braximru futisha the's'ragunfumo*," Stev replied. Stev smiled to himself. He had about twenty different code phrases that the computer recognized. The ingenious part was that when he used one of the lines, the computer would not recognize it as valid for the next ten attempts. His phrases came from his translations of Terran Rock and Roll.

He broke his reverie as Frankenstein's altered image appeared on the screen.

"Scarecrow, you have made the trip safely and are within the target zone or this file would not open. Starfleet and the Federation are not concerned with possible timeline contamination from the crew of the USS Heinlein."

Stev's eyebrow raised slightly. The voice continued.

"Rather there is concern over the fact that the crew were unable to account for a tricorder and a communicator when they returned home. Your job is to make sure that no one on Earth gets their hands on that technology. Use whatever methods you need, short of killing anyone, to get the job done. Mission data has been downloaded to your crow. As usual, these orders will decompile after playback."

"Perfect, this being the early 21st century everyone has a cell phone and personal computer. I'm looking for a needle in a needlestack," he turned and looked at his tribble, codenamed crow.

"Phread, do the mission parameters give us any idea where to begin our search?"

"Yes, the crew of the Heinlein beamed down to Chicago."

"Well that narrows it down. Phread, scan the database and see if we can disguise the Ghost Rider as a shipping container."

"Thinking of making our base of operations the Illinois Intergalactic Port District?"

"3600 E 95th Street, Chicago ILL-UH-NOY, except at this point in time it's only known as the International Port District. You're way ahead of me little friend."

"Thank you."

"Engage cloak. We're heading for Earth."


Willy Seephkun enjoyed his life. At twenty-one years of age he made more money in a week than his father earned all month. Willy was a mule. Once a week he carted drugs and money back and forth between Chicago and Waterloo, Iowa. Willy was also a pickpocket, though he did that as a hobby. Two days ago he had spotted some easy marks in Grant Park. There were five of them; four of them seemed to be taking orders from the fifth. Willy had keyed in on the youngest, someone approximately his age. His victim seemed to be more awestruck by the city than the older four did. Willy casually walked up to the group, affected a trip and fell into the youngest member of the group.

The entire group was apologetic. Everyone tried very hard to make sure Willy was unhurt. While he was being helped up, Willy expertly lifted the guy's cell phone and palm pilot but could not find the guy's wallet. Willy apologized for not looking where he was going and left the group. His mark did not seem to notice his phone and handheld were missing. Willy left.

Willy spent the next hour trying to get the phone and palm pilot to work. He eventually determined that he had to speak the phone number into the phone for it to call out. The palm pilot seemed to be stuck in some kind of weather scanning mode. He gave the broken palm pilot to his supplier's kid and had kept the phone for himself.

He was now on a mule run and should be arriving in Waterloo shortly. Willie smiled to himself as he knew what he'd be doing once he got to Waterloo.

----------------

Alliea VanderSchnap was tired. She had been on stakeout for 6 hours now. At twenty-two she was the youngest detective of the Waterloo P.D. One of her informants had called her early this morning to tell her that a Chicago mule was coming into town tonight with another load. Alliea was currently undercover and sitting in a booth with her partner, Scott Jameson, waiting for the mule to arrive. They were doing a very good job going from bar to bar while keeping their suspect, the mule's contact, under surveillance.

Pretending to nuzzle her partner's cheek, Alliea spoke under her breath, "Why do you think Sticky Fingers Willy is coming back so soon?"

"Honestly, I think he's gotten himself a local girlfriend," Scott replied

"Those Chicago girls aren't good enough?" Alliea said with a laugh.

"No, the motel rooms are cheaper in Waterloo," Scott grinned back.


Encrypt protocol Scarecrow Beta:

Retinal scan confirmed:

Password: ********

Mission Log Supplemental: Phread and I managed to find an out of the way spot here at the Chicago Port. The Ghost Rider's exterior looks for all the world like a shipping container awaiting inspection. Phread has been scanning for transtator energy signatures, while I've been monitoring the local communications frequencies. Phread believes he has found a weak transtator signature and has narrowed it down to a 1000 meter radius. I will be leaving to investigate as soon as the computer finishes my outfit.

Stev looked in the mirror and liked what he saw, pants bearing a military camouflage pattern, a cotton shirt with Spider-Man's picture on it, and a ball cap with the number 24 emblazoned across it to cover his ears.

"What do you think, Phread?"

"You look like a nerd."

Being familiar with 21st century idioms as well, Stev understood the playful insult. "At least I'm not a geek," he retorted.

"No, to be a geek, you'd have to get a fake laser-sword and go out without covering your ears. Then you could pretend you were going to a Science Fiction Convention."

Stev ignored the comment and scanned the target area for life signs and structural blockages. He set the transporter's coordinates for the spot nearest the center of his search area that was structurally vacant and unoccupied.

"Energize."

The Vulcan shimmered into existence inside a bathroom. He was not surprised by the fact that he had beamed into a restroom, as rooms of that nature were usually unoccupied. He was not surprised by the odor, as he had used such facilities before. He was surprised, however, when he about knocked down a human female when he exited the room.

"Pervert," she said as Stev beat a hasty exit.

Outside the bar, Stev surreptitiously took his tricorder out of his pocket and began scanning for the transtator frequency. Peering at the screen he determined that he needed to head in a southwesterly direction.

Stev looked up from the screen and saw that he would not have to be as circumspect with his tricorder as he initially thought. From where he was standing he could see at least two other people consulting hand-held computers. He wished he had thought to include a belt clip for his tricorder when the computer replicated his outfit, as he stuffed the device in his pocket. Stev proceeded in the direction his scans had indicated.

-------------

"There he is," Alliea whispered into Scott's ear.

He giggled as if she was kissing his ear and looked in the direction she had indicated. "You're right, and he's got his local girlfriend in tow. We'll follow him to where he beds down for the night and then have a motor unit keep up the surveillance for the night."

Willy looked around the room and didn't spot any obvious surveillance. He did take notice of the couple in the corner booth. "Get a room," he thought to himself. Glancing over at his girl's ample cleavage, "I know I am," he added.

-----------------

Stev stood outside the apartment door. His tricorder indicated transtator activity within. The instrument indicated three human life signs and also indicated plenty of projectile weaponry inside the room as well. Stev weighed the possibilities of caution and surprise. Deciding that surprise was the better of the two options he approached closer. Assuming there was no reason for subtlety in this neighborhood; Stev brought his right leg up and kicked in the door. Surprising the occupants of the room, Stev quickly sized up the situation. There were three of them in the room; an adult male and an adult female both sitting on the couch, and a child sitting on the floor playing with a hand held device.

The adult male reached to a little table at the side of the couch and brought up a handgun. The adult female began to scream. The child dropped his toy and ran from the room as the male pulled the trigger.

Stev ducked the gunshots and leaped towards the couch. He silenced the female with a neck-pinch and grabbed the gun out of his opponent's hand. With a glare that would silence most men, Stev looked squarely in his opponent's eye.

"You a cop?" asked the bewildered, angry individual while holding his now injured hand.

"No I am not a law enforcement official. I am someone you do not want to make angry."

"Bullshit!"

Stev gut punched the man. "Cow excrement has nothing to do with what I want. Cooperate and you'll live, don't and….," Stev looked over at the female who had slumped over.

Startled by the now still form of his girlfriend the man's face dropped its belligerent look, "Whatchoo want man?"

Stev thought for a moment, "I'm looking for my phone and computer. I was told you had them."

"Man you got the wrong guy. I didn't steal nuthin'."

"No I'm sure that my devices are here."

Stev pulled out his tricorder and scanned the room. Noting the direction the transtator signal was coming from, his eyes were drawn to the child's hand-held toy. Immediately realizing what it was he picked it up.

"This is my computer. Where's my phone?" Stev asked in an ice-cold voice.

"Dem's yours? Willy gave that to my kid. I didn't think nuthin' of it."

"Did Willy give you the phone as well?"

"Naw, he kept that for hisself."

"Where's Willy now?"

"He's doing some business in Waterloo."

"Business?"

"You know BUSINESS, making a delivery for me. You ain't gonna hurt me now are ya?"

"No, you will not be harmed."

Stev turned slightly away. The man, sensing an opening, lunged. Stev clotheslined him with his left arm and neck-pinched him with his right hand. Placing the now unconscious form on the couch, Stev placed his fingertips at various places on the man's face.

"Forget," the Vulcan said.

After applying the same technique to the female, Stev tore her blouse open. Stev then turned his attention towards the room the child had run into. Peering in through the darkened doorway he called out a calm voice.

"I will not hurt you little one."

A tear stained face peeked out around the door frame, "What did you do to my Mommy?"

"She is now sleeping. This Willy person your father mentioned stole items that belong to me. I came to get them back."

The little boy continued to stare at the Vulcan. Stev disliked hurting innocents and would not leave the child alone with the door broken in. "I will stay here until your Mommy wakes up." Indicating the monitor mounted on the far wall of the living room, he said, "Shall we watch the video projection device?"

"Mommy doesn't let me watch TV this late."

"What is your name son?"

"Bobby," he sniffled.

"It is OK, Bobby," Stev offered his hand.

The child came out of the room and took Stev's left hand. Stev placed his right fingertips on the boys face. "Forget," he said simply.

Bobby shook his head slightly with a bit of confusion. He looked back up at the Vulcan unsure of what was happening. He looked at the sleeping pair of adults on the couch and climbed up between them. The boy found the television's remote and turned on the television. Stev sat down in a chair where he could watch the hall and the family he had assaulted.

After a while the mother stirred. Stev watched as she became aware of her surroundings. She pulled back when she saw Stev sitting in her living room and her apartment door kicked in.

"Who are you?"

"A neighbor," Stev lied. "I heard a scuffle in your apartment and found you and your husband…"

"Boyfriend," she interrupted.

"Boyfriend," Stev continued, "unconscious. Little Bobby was in the back room crying and your assailant was attempting to remove your clothing."

She glanced down at her torn blouse and gazed suspiciously at Stev.

"After I chased off your assailant, I have done nothing more than sit here with Bobby while waiting for you to regain consciousness."

"He letted me watch Letterman, Mommy"

Hugging her son close she looked back at the stranger in her home, "Thank you Mr.?"

"My name is not important," Stev said as he stood and walked out of the apartment and through the now ruined door.

Stev walked quickly from the apartment building. He rounded a corner and found a nearby convenience store. Stev immediately headed for the bathroom. Once there he pulled out his communicator.

"Phread, I've got the tricorder. Lock onto my signal and energize."

----------------

Alliea was back at her desk the next morning. The motor unit still had Sticky Fingers Willy under surveillance. She had gotten approximately six hours of sleep and was nursing a cup of coffee as she looked over her report on the night's activities. She glanced up as her partner strolled through the door.

"You look like hell," she said in way of greeting.

"Yeah, well I'd have gotten more sleep if I didn't have to drive back to my place after dropping you off at yours."

"Won't happen partner. That nuzzling we do at the bars is strictly for show. I don't date cops and I won't do the other thing until I have little gold band around my finger."

"Prude," Scott replied back with a smile.

"No, just secure in my convictions you letch," She smiled back at him.

Changing the tone of the conversation, Scott held up a rather large file, "You think Willy will lead us to that new local dealer?"

"I'm sure of it. The last two drops Willy made in town haven't shown up on the street yet. I think the new player in town is bigger than we thought."

"I won't bet against you partner. How about some breakfast? Willy doesn't usually get up until after noon."

"You're on," Alliea said as she stood and stretched.


Encrypt protocol Scarecrow Beta:

Retinal scan confirmed:

Password: ********

Mission Log Supplemental: With the cloak engaged I have piloted the Ghost Rider to the small city of Waterloo, Iowa. This is not my first visit to the land where the famous Captain Kirk grew up but it is the first time I've been to this particular region of the state. Phread found us a storage yard of large recreational vehicles on the outskirts of the city. The Ghost Rider now has the visual exterior of what I believe is called a motor home. Scans indicate the transtator signal is coming from what local residents illogically refer to as the East Side since it is actually the northern part of the city. I will attempt to retrieve the communicator tonight.


Stev had spent the day monitoring local frequencies, getting a feel for the area. He knew the weather was going to be nice. He knew that national politicians where visiting the state in droves. He knew that he was anxiously awaiting dusk.

Being back in Iowa gave him a melancholy feeling. This was the place where he and T'Aiya had been on part of their momentous date. True it had been in Des Moines and he was 144km away from that area. True it had been in his time and not "now". But the Des Moines Botanical Center was where he had gotten the gemstone for her engagement ring and in galactic sense, he was in the neighborhood. It had been five years since he had joined October and he still missed her. Phread's cooing brought his attention back to the present.

"Hello Stev, are you still in there?" was the latest in a long string of text that the tribble had been sending across the main monitor.

"Sorry little buddy. I was just thinking."

"About T'Aiya weren't you."

"Yes," Stev sighed. Sometimes he forgot that his tribble could read his facial expressions quite well.

"I've only been trying to get your attention for the past twenty minutes."

"Well you've got it now. What's up?"

"Scans indicate increased levels of Solar radiation."

"And?" Stev had an idea where this was going and he did not like it.

"The computer estimates we've got about ten minutes before the atmosphere is sufficiently charged with ions to prevent beaming.

"Krysl'r! It's because we've only got a class IV transporter isn't it? We've put that upgrade off for too long. That means I've got to get going now and 'borrow' local transportation to get back."

"That's about the size of it."

"Tell me you've got some good news."

"The computer and I have managed to locate the transtator frequency. I should be able to program the coordinates for a restroom in the same building."

"OK, let's just make sure it's the room used by the males."

Phread's cooing sounded like laughter to the Vulcan's ears.


Alliea and Scott walked into the bar holding hands. Others had kept Willy under surveillance through most of the day. It hadn't been difficult as Willy and his girlfriend had not emerged from their hotel room until after 3:00. The pair of detectives walked over to the bar and sat down. Alliea pulled out a compact and appeared to check her make-up while she scoped out the room using the large mirror behind the bar.

"There's our boy," she said quietly.

For the next hour Alliea and Scott danced, moved to a booth, drank their ginger ale and kept up the surveillance on Willy. Willy seemed to be looking for someone. Alliea hoped it was the new player in town. She desperately wanted to ID the scumbag and get him behind bars.

"Something strange partner," Scott whispered in her ear while they were on the dance floor.

"What?" she asked.

"Guy coming out of the bathroom," he twirled her around so she could get a better view.

"Tall; well built; wearing camo, a Spidey T, and Jeff Gordon hat?"

"That's the one."

"He wasn't here when we arrived. I woulda' noticed him."

"Precisely, that means he's either been in the restroom since before we got here or…"

"He snuck in through the window," Alliea finished her partners thought.

"Either way, he looked at his palm pilot and then directly at Sticky."

Alliea's pulse raced. This could be the new player in town. Leading her partner off the dance floor and back to their booth she said quietly, "I'll keep an eye on Spidey, you stick with Sticky?"

"Cool," Scott replied.


Stev emerged from the restroom. At least it was the men's room this time. He shook his head. "I spend more time using these rooms as beaming points than I do for their actual purpose," he thought.

Stev pulled his tricorder out of his pocket. Glancing at the screen and then in the direction it indicated he saw what he was looking for. Willy had the communicator to his ear and was talking into it. "Krysl'r, he's figured out how to use it to communicate with other devices."

Stev casually walked in the direction the person holding the object he was seeking. He scanned the room. "Too public," he thought to himself. He noticed his target had an arm around an attractive female. "I really don't want to involve another female. I need to get him alone."

Stev fingered the replicated cash he had in his pocket. He carefully removed one that had the number 20 printed on it. He also removed a near invisible isolinear tag from the same pocket. When he was in front of the table his target was sitting at, Stev bent down palmed the bill and tag and pretended to pick them up off the floor.

"Excuse me sir, I believe you dropped this," the Vulcan said to the Chicago mule.

Willy looked at the twenty dollar bill in the hand of the stranger who had just spoken to him. He had never seen the cash before but he wasn't going to let free money go. "Thank you," he replied as he took the bill from the Vulcan's hand.

Stev reached out as if to shake hands. When Willy offered his hand Stev grabbed the forearm in a similar manner to what he had seen on the video broadcasts and clapped Willy on the back depositing the tag at the same time.

"No problem. Don't spend it all at the same place," Stev grinned as he left the bar.

"They've made contact," Alliea whispered in Scott's ear. Brushing her lips across his cheek she continued, "Spidey's leaving," she paused. "Sorry this is going to hurt."

Abruptly standing, Alliea slapped Scott hard across the face. "Well I never!" she yelled as she stormed out of the bar hot on Stev's trail.

Once outside the bar, Stev pulled out his tricorder. The vulcan keyed a query back to his ship as to whether he could beam back or not. Phread's reply came back negative. Stev sent instructions back to begin monitoring the isolinear tag and began searching the street for a vehicle with electronic locks and ignition.

"He forgot where he parked," Alliea thought to herself.

Stev found the perfect vehicle. It was two-door, metallic-green automobile. The lettering on the rear proclaimed it to be a Grand Am. Stev used his tricorder to unlock the car and then start the engine. He pulled away from the curb and drove back to the Ghost Rider.

Alliea pulled her department issued two-way radio out of her purse.

"Dispatch," she said as she toggled the transmit button.

"Go ahead."

"Detective VanderSchnap here."

"Authenticate."

"Badge number 9291."

"Confirmed, Go ahead."

"10-28 on a green Grand Am. Blackhawk County LNZ 514"

"Car is registered to Steve Nibbelink, 820 West First Street."

"10-4, I am 10-96 and need an unmarked unit to follow suspect vehicle. Vehicle is northbound on Logan Avenue."

"10-4"

"Well Steven, you've made a big mistake. I've got you now," the young detective said to the night air. She pulled out her cell phone and called her partner.

"Alliea honey, that hurt."

"Sorry Scott. I needed a quick way out without drawing suspicion. Can you talk?"

"I know and yes I can. What did you find?"

"I've got an ID on our player and he's being tailed by an unmarked."

"Good job. Sticky might be suspicious if you come back. I'll keep an eye on him. You try to get a handle on our suspect. I'll call you if I need you."

"Will do. See you later," Alliea said as she closed her phone.

Stepping to the curb the young detective hailed a cab and went back to the station.


Stev had no trouble piloting the antique vehicle. He often had need of using native transportation and practiced his skills whenever possible. Stev was fully aware of the 'rules of the road' and did nothing to draw attention to himself, at least not intentionally.

"Krysl'r!" he muttered for the tenth time. "Why do these humans insist on having so many ground vehicles, only to keep tearing up the roads they need to drive on?" he asked rhetorically as he backed around another road-closed sign.

Stev was so frustrated with the lack of compatibility between the map his tricorder was displaying and the reality of what he was driving on that he had barely noticed a non-descript sedan following him through every turn he made.


"Unit 67 to dispatch."

"Go ahead."

"Subject vehicle seems to have spotted our tail and is trying to lose us."

"10-4"

"Requesting copter support."

"10-4"


Willy had finally taken increased notice of the couple when the girl slapped the guy and left. Willy started to get suspicious when the guy didn't chase after his date as they had been hot and heavy on each other all evening. The guy just sat there in the booth drinking and looking his way from time to time. Then it hit him. This was the same couple he had seen the previous evening. Willy was sure by now that the guy, at least, was a cop. He didn't know if he was the one being watched or if it was someone else in the bar. He knew one sure fire way to tell.

Willy took his arm off his girlfriend's shoulder. Mumbling an apology to her he got up and left the drinking establishment. Scott pulled out his phone, called Alliea, and left as well.

"Shit," Willy said as Scott walked out of the bar. Willy made sure that the cop found him as he pretended to fumble with his car keys. "I'll lure that sonuvabitch to his death," the Chicago mule said under his breath.

Scott saw Willy fumbling with car keys. Immediately memorizing the make and plate, Scott ran to his own vehicle. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket while he ran. Hitting Alliea's speed dial he waited for her to pick up again.

"Yes?"

"Alliea, he's leaving. I need back-up now."

"We left my car at my place remember?"

"Borrow a black and white. I'll direct you to where he's going. Any word on our new suspect?"

"Copter 4 tailed him to Turnbough's Storage on Airline Highway. I've got a black and white enroute to keep him under surveillance."

"Good. Get going, I need some help here."

"Be careful Scott."


Stev finally found a clear route from where he was to where he had stashed the Ghost Rider. He had noticed when the car following him throughout the first part of his drive had given up. Stev was glad that his meandering path had not led them back here. When he exited his borrowed vehicle he noticed the helicopter flying overhead. "I guess the local constabulary was more interested in me than I thought." Stev replayed the evening's events and determined that his tradecraft was not at fault. More than likely his target had already been under surveillance. "I need to get the transporter working. Then I won't need this borrowed vehicle anymore." Stev entered the disguised airlock and went inside.

Once inside he immediately went to the transporter. Stev undid the maintenance hatch and began to poke around. Minutes later Stev shut the hatch with a satisfied grunt. Phread began cooing urgently.

"What is it little buddy?" Stev said looking at the nearest monitor.

"The tag you planted has stopped moving."

"Is it within transporter range?"

"Barely."

"How many life signs in the vicinity of the tag?"

"Three."

"Good that's less people for me to deal with. Keep a lock on my communicator. I'll call for transport when I've finished cleaning up the Heinlein's mess."

"Will do."

Stepping up on the platform the Vulcan looked at his friend, "Energize."

Stev's form dissolved in pattern of incandescent light. The little tribble was left alone in the shuttlecraft.


Alliea was worried. Scott should've known better than to go after Willy without back-up. She should've insisted that he wait. He had called her enroute that Willy had gone to the mini-golf course on Airline Highway. A small portion of her brain registered that location was very close to where their new suspect had driven. They might be able to wrap up their case tonight. But all she could consciously think of was that her partner was in trouble. She turned on the bubblegum lights and floored it.


Willy was pretty sure of himself. He had led that stupid cop on a wild goose chase while he looked for suitable place to kill him. Finding a mini-golf course which had long since closed for the night, Willy parked outside. He jimmied the lock on the gate and went inside to wait for the cop.


Scott pulled up outside Airline Mini Golf and Go-Carts five minutes later. He called for back-up and waited. When he saw the black and white careening silently down Airline Highway with lights blazing, he waved and went in after Willy.

"No! You idiot!" Alliea shouted to no avail while pulling up to the golf course. Her car screeched to a halt just outside the door. Alliea had called for back-up. She would wait unless her partner radioed for help. She opened the door to the squad car and crouched behind it, gun drawn and pointed to the entrance.

Willy saw the dumb cop walk around the little windmill on the ninth hole. He carefully aimed his weapon at the cop's heart and pulled the trigger.

Scott felt rather than heard the gunshot. Completely of its own accord his body whipped around and fell to the ground. His eyes stayed open as his world went dark.

Alliea didn't think twice when she heard the gunshot. She sprang from her position and ran to the entrance.

Willy walked over to the body which now lay across the green outdoor carpeting on the ninth hole. He bent over the body to look for valuables. He was so intent in his search that he wasn't looking anywhere else.

Alliea was crossing the sixth hole just as Stev beamed in. She saw the shimmering lights and not the crouched killer. "Freeze!" she yelled as Stev solidified.

Willy looked up to see the dead cop's girlfriend pointing a gun to another part of the course. He checked his gun to see if it was still loaded and squeezed off a shot in her direction.

Stev heard the gunshot and saw the human female fall to the ground. He wasted no time. Uttering a Klingon battle cry he launched himself at the gunman. Catching Willy completely by surprise, Stev knocked the gun from his hand. Willy struggled briefly before the Vulcan rendered him unconscious. Stev frisked the gunman and found the missing communicator. Not willing to let anyone else die if he could help it, he went over to the female laying on the ground in a small pool of blood.

Stev bent over the female. He quickly determined that she had been shot in the stomach. He heard the sirens in the distance and knew that help would arrive to late too save her. He felt responsible because she would have seen the gunman if she hadn't been pointing her gun at him.

Stev made a quick decision. He grabbed the unconscious attacker and dragged him over to the female. Stev activated his communicator and huddled over the group.

"Phread, three to beam out now."

Waterloo's finest burst in on the scene to find one of their own, dead. They also found an unexplained pool of blood and an abandoned gun that had fired two shots. By the time KWWL had arrived on the scene the police were even more puzzled by the apparent disappearance of Detective Alliea VanderSchnap.


Stev, Detective VanderSchnap, and Willy all beamed into the Ghost Rider. Stev made sure Willy was still unconscious and the turned his attention to the injured detective.

"Phread, activate the Emergency Medical Diagnostic Kit," he called urgently.

The tribble cooed excitedly and a bulkhead slid open next to the transporter platform. Stev lay the bleeding female prone across the deck and shoved the EMDK over to her.

The unit began to hum and beep while it probed the young lady's injuries. Stev pulled out her identification while the unit worked. Then he went over to the unconscious man and did the same.

"Phread, historical database query. Detective Alliea VanderSchnap and Willy Seephkun," he called over to his friend. He then spelled the names out for the tribble.

"Working on it Stev," Phread replied.

Looking over to the EMDK Stev asked, "How is she?"

"Subject has suffered a projectile weapon injury to the lower abdomen, mild blood loss and a mild concussion. Repairs proceeding, subject should be repaired and conscious in approximately one hour," the EMDK replied in its artificial voice.

"One hour to figure out what to do with her, at least she didn't die," Stev said to no one in particular.

"But she should have," the tribble answered on the monitor.

Stev's eyebrow raised. His compassion for the injured woman had caused a disruption in the timeline.

"Phread, run the results, computer audio."

"Will do."

"Detective VanderSchnap and her partner Detective Jameson were found murdered on the evening of May 15th 2007," the computer's female voice began. "Local authorities issued a warrant for William B. Seephkun of Chicago Illinois as a person of interest in the case. Detectives VanderSchnap and Jameson had been tailing Seephkun on the evenings of May 14th and 15th and were last seen following the suspect out of the Down and Dirty Bar on Logan Avenue in Waterloo. VanderSchnap's last recorded message to dispatch was a request for back-up at the Airline Mini Golf and Go-Carts. Ten minutes later WPD officers arrived on the scene to find both detectives shot execution style. William Seephkun was never located in Iowa or Illinois. A mummified John Doe matching Seephkun's description but without any fingerprints or teeth was found in the foundation of a downtown building in Waterloo ten years later when the building was being demolished." The computer went silent as it finished its narrative.

Stev took a moment to collect his thoughts. He looked over at the unconscious man he had dumped on the floor. Then over at the recovering female the gunman had shot. He had come to decision but needed some more information.

"Phread, does Detective VanderSchnap have any living relatives?"

"No, she is an only child. Both parents are deceased. Grandparents are deceased and there are no aunts or uncles."

"And this Seephkun person basically disappeared for ten years until his body was discovered?"

"Correct."

"Here's what we're going to do," Stev began to outline his plan to his little buddy.

"Frankenstein won't like it."

"That's what makes it the right thing to do," Stev grinned at his companion.


Stev looked at the nice collection of human teeth lying on the deck. He smiled to himself knowing that he was helping history along. Beaming Willy into the foundation of an existing building would leave folks scratching their heads for awhile. He ejected a self-destructing holographic generator programmed with the Ghost Rider's current disguise and activated the cloak. Satisfied that he could leave undetected he took off and flew towards downtown Waterloo. After beaming the now dead Willy into the building's foundation, Stev piloted his craft to the dark side of the moon and put it in a parking orbit. Stev could not go through with the last part of his plan without Alliea's permission.

Stev walked back to the living quarters of the Ghost Rider and looked at the sleeping female form in his bunk. He had placed her there while she recovered from EMDK's ministrations. Looking down at his clothes he smiled inwardly, he had purposefully left on the outfit she would remember him wearing. Stev sat down next to the bunk.

"Alliea, wake up," he said quietly.

Alliea's eyes opened. The disorientation was plainly obvious on her face. She glanced around the compartment for awhile then her eyes settled on Stev.

"Mr. Nibbelink, I don't know what your plans for me are, but I guarantee that the Waterloo PD will not rest until they find me."

"My name is Stev," the Vulcan calmly replied. "I do not know who Mr. Nibbelink is."

"I ran your tags. Don't lie to me."

"Ah, the vehicle I borrowed. I have no intention of lying to you. What is today's date?

"May 15th, why?"

"I want to prove something to you. Computer run feed from Earth signal KWWL television out of Waterloo."

"..epeating our top story tonight. Waterloo Detective Scott Jameson was found murdered at the Airline Highway Mini Golf and Go Carts. His partner is missing and presumed dead as well. We will stay with this story all night. Tune in to Today in Eastern Iowa tomorrow morning for complete updates. On behalf of everyone here at KWWL this Ron Steele saying goodnight."

Alliea's hand went to her mouth. She shook her head and began to sob. "You stupid man. I told you not to go in there alone."

She stopped as she suddenly realized what the rest of the story was.

"Wait a minute. That news story said I'm missing and presumed dead," her hand immediately shot out from under the covers at Stev with a "Keeyah" emanating from her lips.

Stev caught the hand easily. "Tae Kwon Do, at least a 2nd degree black belt," he stated simply.

"Fourth," she replied pulling her hand back.

"That's roughly where I'd be if I had the time to take the tests," Stev said back. "Do you believe that if I wanted to hurt you I would have tried?"

Alliea looked at her suspect then at her hand. She nodded her head but said nothing.

After waiting a few moments Stev began again, "What I'm about to tell you may sound strange but it is the truth. You need to know this because when I've finished you have a decision to make. Will you listen until I can finish?"

Having felt the strength of his grip and knowing that he had not lied about being able to attempt to hurt her she nodded.

"Good. Computer please display the headline from the Waterloo Courier from May 16th, 2007." Stev indicated she should look at the monitor.

"Two Detectives Found Dead," the headline read. Alliea read the headline and accompanying story, her face contorted in confusion.

"But… how… Ron Steele just said I was missing and thought to be dead."

"I am a time traveler," Stev replied. "This is tomorrow's headline and records what would have happened if I had not been at the shooting tonight."

Alliea started to open her mouth but the Vulcan placed his fingertips across her lips.

"You promised to let me finish. This headline is from my historical database, which was compiled before I went back in time. The information in the database will not reflect what has happened during my mission until I return to the 24th century," Stev paused for a moment.

"History records that you died this evening," Stev continued. "I felt responsible for your shooting and saved your life before I knew you were supposed to die. You are now here alive but not yet causing timeline disruptions. You are an innocent, unlike your assailant; I cannot just kill you to make the timeline proceed as it should."

Alliea's eyes went wide. Her mouth dropped open "Sticky Fingers Willy?"

"Has been dealt with," Stev spoke with finality on the subject. He continued, "I am left with two alternatives. I can wipe your memories of who you are and deposit you back on Earth where you will not interfere with history. Or I can take you with me back to the 24th century. I must be very clear though, Alliea VanderSchnap cannot go back to 21st century Earth."

"Which will you do?" Alliea asked not sure what either of those choices meant for her.

"I'm giving you the choice. You can remain yourself and come with me to 300 years in your future or stay on Earth now and forget who you are."

"You can do that?"

"Yes."

"If I stay what who will I be?"

"I have not yet decided," Stev said.

"Would I get to choose?"

"No, the choice of who you would be is mine. I must maintain the integrity of the timeline."

"What is the future like?"

Stev thought of how to explain space exploration. How would he explain the multitude of races and wonders the galaxy had to offer? How does one explain the dangers of the Klingons, the Cardassians or the Romulans? Stev simply removed his hat.

"You… you're not…," words failed the young lady.

"Not human?" Stev asked to complete her sentence. He shook his head, "I am a Vulcan. I am an intelligence operative for a Federation of hundreds of planets of which Earth is a part. Humans and many other races of beings explore the galaxy in my time."

Alliea looked at the monitor still displaying the news of her death. She looked around the room and noticed for the first time that decorations and styles were 'off'. She looked at Stev and set a look of determination on her face.

"There's nothing left on my Earth for me. Take me to yours."

"I was hoping you'd say that."

After word

One Year Later:

Stev led the blindfolded woman across the deserted hanger deck. She had gone on numerous missions with him and had proven herself time and time again. Frankenstein had agreed it was time for his protégé to spread her wings for herself.

"C'mon Stev, at least give me a hint of what the surprise is."

"That is illogical. Then it would no longer be a surprise."

Stev laughed when he saw her eyebrow arch under the blindfold in what he assumed was a pretty fair imitation of his own. He led her past the Ghost Rider and untied her blindfold.

"You may open your eyes now."

Alliea gasped when she saw the new ship sitting on the deck. "It looks just like the Ghost Rider."

"There's been a few upgrades, but yes, this is newest Flemming Class shuttle to come out of the fleet yard. There is one major difference."

Alliea turned her head slightly so she could see the Vulcan and ship at the same time, "And that would be….?"

"This one is not yet named. Her new owner gets that privilege."

"You mean?"

"She's yours. October believes you are now capable of handling missions on your own."

Alliea squealed like a sixteen-year old girl who had just been given the keys to a new car. She turned, faced Stev, threw her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek.

"Thank you da… Stev."

Stev caught the syllable she began to say, "You are welcome, Kinfumaskan. Before we christen this shuttle there is one more part to this surprise."

"There's more?" she asked knowing she'd be looking up the Vulcan word later.

"Yes," Stev palmed open the hatch.

A six month old orange tabby jumped out of the shuttle. Knowing who he was intended for the kitten dove for Alliea's legs and began rubbing itself on his new master.

"He's gorgeous. I think I'll name him Steven."

Stev raised his eyebrow at that, "October has given Steven," Stev's emphasis indicated he was unsure the cat would like its new name, "some of the same enhancements they gave Phread."

Alliea looked squarely in Steven's eyes, "Oh really." Alliea paused a moment and thought. "C'mon Steve let's show Stev around the Kumori Tenmaku."


Lexicon of terms:

krysl'r – lit. garbage (Vulcans will use it as a swear word)

nygma – fool

braximru – rush

futisha – say/speak

ragunfumo – wiseman

kinfumaskan – daughter

Kumori Tenmaku – Japanese, loosely translates to Shadow Curtain

10-28 - vehicle registration request

10-96 - out of vehicle-pedestrian. send backup

*Loosely translated as "Wise men say only fools rush in."