Author's Notes

This story was given to me as a Challenge by Spencerthekat to see if I could write a story that was more in keeping with the show than my usual work. I hope that it meets with her expectations. :)

LETTING GO

Chapter 1

November 24th, 1962 Perth, Australia

British Empire and Commonwealth Games

"I'm sorry you didn't get a medal, sir."

"Young man," the body builder said in his drawling British accent, "for the last time, I am not old enough for you to call me 'sir.' Please, call me David."

The seventeen year old grinned sheepishly and nodded. "Okay, David it is. I just can't believe you lifted four hundred forty pounds and Brandon Bailey lifted four hundred forty and a half pounds!" He shook his head sadly. "Half a pound between you and a Bronze medal."

David put his arm around Jeff, looking down on him and his uncle. "There's always next year. Anyways, Bailey may be the third strongest man in these games, and the strongest man in Trinidad and Tobago, but I still hold the record for strongest man in the British Empire outside of these games!" He struck a classic body-builder's pose and growled deep in his throat. At an imposing 6'7", 265lbs, he cut a rather frightening figure among the spectators milling around the arena.

Phineas chuckled and put his hand out for a handshake. "Well, best of luck to you, my friend."

He instantly regretted the move as his hand was crushed in the larger man's grip. Jeff laughed but was silenced by a glare from his partner. They helped David pack up his things and walked him to the bus that would take him back to his hotel.

"Are you sure you two can't stay? I'd love to show you some workouts to bulk you both up. Young Jeff here could certainly benefit from it." He winked at Jeff as he nudged Phineas. "Before you know it, he'll be giving you a run for your money in the romance department…"

Phineas shook his head and grinned. "That's alright, Mr. Prowse…" he caught a stern but playful glare from the bodybuilder. "I, uh, I mean, David. Look, I might be three years older than you, but you could hospitalize me with a swat of your pinkie finger! I give respect where respect is due, and quite frankly, Mr. Prowse, you deserve it."

The Englishman roared with laughter and agreed. "Very well, Mr. Bogg. But now, I must take my leave. Thank you both once again for saving my as… er, rear," he covered his choice of words quickly as a group of school children passed by. "I don't know who mis-marked those barbells, but if you two hadn't been there to spot me on the bench press, I would have been crushed under five hundred pounds of dead weight."

"I don't know how much help I was," Jeff said as he looked at his arms with a frown. He was well muscled for a seventeen year old, but was always comparing himself to Bogg. "But I'm glad we were there to help."

They watched the tall, muscular man walk away and Jeff sighed, a satisfied smile on his face. Phineas looked at him with a confused expression and nudged him.

"And this is what you wanted for your seventeenth birthday because...?"

"Oh come on Bogg!" Jeff rolled his eyes and poked Phineas in the ribs. "What did I tell you before we came here?"

The older man gave an exasperated sigh and crossed his arms. "Star Wars is the greatest movie of all time, and you've always wanted to meet the man behind the mask of Dark Vader."

"Darth Vader," Jeff corrected.

"Yeah, well, whatever his name is, David is scary enough without any extra help."

Jeff laughed and slapped him on the shoulder. "It doesn't matter, Bogg. All that matters is that I've now met Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Sir Alec Guinness, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and David Prowse, and even set a few things straight in their history as well. That is the best present I could ask for."

Phineas smiled at his young friend who was now only four inches shorter than him. Jeff had grown a lot in the past five years, and certainly looked older than seventeen, but it still amazed Bogg at how fast he had grown. But he vowed one thing would never change: Jeff's nickname.

"Well, kid, as long as you're happy I guess I don't have to understand it all. But I do have a question for you."

"What is it?"

"I still don't know why you called me 'Chewy' when I took my shirt off to work out with David the other day. Care to explain who this 'Chewy' is and why it's so funny?"

Jeff was nearly choking with laughter and got stared at by several passersby before he finally composed himself enough to answer.

"I already told you, Bogg. Chewie is a Wookie, a character in the Star Wars movies, and played by Peter Mayhew. And when you take off your shirt," he started to laugh again. "When you take off your shirt, you look just like a Wookie!"

Phineas frowned and put his hands on his hips. "I think you should be careful from now on. When I come to visit you at the Academy, I just might ask Olivia to pull a copy of Star Wars out for me to watch. And I get the distinct feeling that when I find out what a 'Wookie' really looks like, your life just might come to an abrupt end."

"You'd have to catch me first," Jeff cried and took off running.

Phineas shook his head and rubbed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. "Some things never change," he muttered as he followed Jeff's retreating form at a leisurely pace. He finally caught up to his young friend and put him in a playful headlock.

"I have you now," he said in his deep baritone.

"Oh great," Jeff crowed. "Next you're gonna cut off my hand and then tell me you're my father."

Phineas released his hold and looked at Jeff, bewildered. "Cut off your hand? Wait… your Father?"

Jeff shook his head and sighed. It was hard to tease someone who didn't understand what you were referring to.

"Nevermind, Bogg. So, where to now? Remember, I get one more trip before I start at the Academy."

His partner shrugged and opened the omni, spinning the dials. "I'm feeling adventurous."

Jeff gasped in mock horror. "Oh no! Not… Automatic mode?"

"Hang on, kid. It could be a bumpy ride…"

-oOo-

October 14th, 1889, City of Taveta,

Tanzania, Africa

The dark haired man with the short cut mustache and close-cropped hair sighed dejectedly, staring into his mug. "Uhuru geschlagen hat uns wieder einmal, mein freund." (Uhuru has beaten us once again, my friend.)

His companion shook his head and looked at his friend with sympathy, twisting his much wider mustache into a curl. "Ach, Hans. Möglicherweise wurde es nicht bedeutet, um zu sein." (Ah, Hans. Maybe it was not meant to be.)

Hans stood and pounded on the table in frustration. "Verdammen Sie es Ludwig! Sogar Sie geben auf unserem Traum auf. (Damnit Ludwig! Even you have given up on our dream.)

Now Ludwig stood up to the challenge. "Ich gebe nicht auf, Hans. Ich bin realistisch!" (I am not giving up, Hans. I am being realistic!)

Several patrons and two newcomers who had just walked in glanced at the two men, then went back about their business.

A barmaid walked over and put a hand on each man's shoulder and said in Swahili, "Bwana Meyer, Bwana Purtscheller, tafadhali keti chini!" (Mr. Meyer, Mr. Purtscheller, please sit down!)

"Samahani, Bishara. Samahani,"(I'm sorry, Bishara. I'm sorry) Hans replied as he took his seat once more. He glared at Ludwig who was still standing and spoke again in German. "Werden Sie zu setzen?" (Are you going to sit down?)

Ludwig stared at his friend, grabbed his beer and downed the rest, slamming the mug on the table. Without a word, he turned around and stormed out of the inn.

Bashira shook her head and sighed. She knew how important reaching the summit of Uhuru had been to Herr Meyer and she felt sorry for him. But there was nothing she could do for him now, not with the inn so full and people waiting to be served.

She walked toward the two newcomers table and stared at the older man appreciatively, absent-mindedly playing with a few of the many braids that had fallen out of the red and gold scarf that tied her hair back.

Her breath was taken by the crystal blue eyes staring back at her, and her smile went beyond the confines of her mouth and sprung up to her wide set, mocha colored eyes. Bishara was known for "appreciating the foreigners," but this man was like no one she had ever seen. Even his younger companion was quite good looking, especially with his shoulder length curly hair and his expressive dark eyes, which were her weakness. He was probably closer to her own twenty years of age, but he didn't look quite as strong as his lighter-haired companion, whose blue eyes were so mesmerizing…

"And what I can get for you?" Bishara placed a hand on each man's shoulder and smiled flirtatiously at the younger one.

The older of the two smiled and leaned back in his chair with a nod of his head, indicating his young friend should answer. The teen looked up into the barmaid's broad face, trying to ignore the ample bosom that was staring back at him. She really was beautiful, and he loved how her ebony skin made stark contrast to the whiteness of her teeth, and made her eyes look incredibly bright. She turned her full attention on him and he became flustered, making her eyes sparkle impishly.

"Um, well… we'd ah, I mean do you…"

It wasn't that women made him nervous or uncomfortable, far from it. Jeff had actually asked Phineas for some pointers in the 'romance department' as he'd gotten older after he realized that the young ladies found him as interesting as he found them. It was just that Phineas was a tough act to follow- and harder to compete with too- and the teen found himself wishing on more than one occasion that he had taken the Voyager Counsel's offer to enroll in the Academy on his sixteenth birthday to fill out his knowledge and further his education. It meant he would get to hang out with kids his own age, meet new friends and have a chance to meet girls and go on dates.

But it also meant that he would be left at VHQ while Phineas voyaged without him, a thought that sent a spasm of panic rushing through him.

No matter how many times he talked to a counselor or Phineas about it he simply could not shake his fear of losing Bogg. Jeff had matured a lot in the past five years and he knew where the fear came from, but it still drove him crazy that he was so irrational about it- especially now that he was seventeen and should be able to cope with it.

With a lot of encouragement from Bogg, and promises to stop in two to three times a week, Jeff had finally decided that after this special birthday voyage he would at last enroll in the Academy. Though he didn't know it, the last time they'd gone to Headquarters Phineas had made sure Professor Mims' eighteen year old daughter Dalisa was there to show Jeff the new Science wing, giving Jeff another reason to want to stay.

But Dalisa with the furthest thought from his mind as he shifted in his seat, trying to avoid the bosom that was a bit closer to his face than he thought proper.

Phineas chuckled and leaned forward again, blue eyes twinkling with mischief.

"What's your specialty here?" His deep voice made Bishara's smile wider as she turned her attention to him.

"Oh, many good foods. You like Ugali, yes? Is very good. You stay, I get, you eat."

The dark haired German at the next table spoke up. "Bishara will take good care of you. At least you won't go hungry."

She let her left hand brush across the older man's arm as she sashayed off to the kitchen, and his companion just shook his head.

"I still don't know how you do it, Bogg. You don't even try to get their attention, and women fall all over you. And when one does pay attention to me, I get struck dumb. I give up."

Phineas grinned, a little self conscious of his companion's observation, but also noticed the smile in his eyes. It was good to share some adult banter now that Jeff was older, and Bogg enjoyed teasing him about the ladies. But the corollary was that he knew Jeff might start to get jealous of him someday, and he still wasn't quite ready for that.

"Well, I seem to remember a certain sixteen year old making eyes at you back at the Commonwealth Games, and she wanted nothing to do with me. And then of course there's Dalisa Mims back at VHQ…"

Jeff blushed and started defending himself, making Phineas laugh. A few minutes later Bishara reappeared holding two large bowls and a plate of flatbread. She gracefully set them down between the men and walked away, leaving them perplexed. One bowl held an oatmeal type paste while the other was a thick stew with beans and rice. There was no silverware on the table, just the flatbread.

"How are we supposed to eat this, Bogg? With our hands?"

"Yes, young man?"

Jeff turned to the dark haired man at the table behind them. "Excuse me, sir?"

"You called me, didn't you?" As Jeff tried to explain what he said, the German laughed loudly. "My apologies! I heard 'Hands' and thought you were speaking to me." He walked over to their table and extended his hand to Jeff. "Let me introduce myself. I'm Hans Meyer."

The name sounded familiar to Jeff, but he couldn't figure out why. "I'm Jeff. Jeffrey Jones. And this is my uncle, Phineas Bogg."

Hans raised an eyebrow. "A friend to Jules Verne, maybe?"

Phineas blushed slightly as he greeted Hans. "Um, yeah. Something like that."

Jeff couldn't resist the opportunity and said with a grin, "Yeah, Mr, Verne loved his name so much that he tweaked it and put my uncle in the book. He's famous without even trying."

"He 'tweaked' it? Is that an American way of saying he changed your uncle's name?"

"Yes, sir, it is," Phineas said with a smile as he kicked Jeff's shin under the table. "Now, if my nephew would be so kind, we'll let you get back to your meal as we try to figure out how to eat ours."

"Nonsense, my good sir. You are obviously new to Tanzania and their foods, and I would be happy to show you how to enjoy your meal." Hans pointed to the stew with a smile. "Bishara has brought you one of my favorite dishes: Ugali, or Coconut bean soup. Yes, you will need my help." He paused a moment as if to consider his next words, then smiled.

"Consider me your... Hans." Jeff nearly choked on the water he was drinking and the three men laughed at the pun.

A group of tribesmen who had been sitting near Hans watched their leader laugh and joke with the other two men, and this started an animated discussion which quickly spilled over to other tables. Within moments men were shouting back and forth trying to be heard until a shrill whistle split the air, and the room was silent once more.

Hans had been the one to whistle, and his men knew it meant trouble. He very nearly growled at the group in Swahili and then pointed to one of the men who had started the 'discussion'. Jeff and Phineas watched as the man stepped forward and bowed, and then seemed to be nervously explaining the reason for the hullabaloo.

It was interesting to watch Hans try to keep a stern demeanor, since whatever the man was saying obviously pleased him. Kwasi saw his leader smile once, and he knew that no one would suffer Herr Meyer's anger tonight. He pointed to the blue eyed man and his young friend and then back to Hans and asked a question that seemed to take the German by surprise. The Tanzanians eyes lit up when he knew Hans had no answer and let out a whoop of joy and shouted to the crowd.

"Unaona! Herr Meyer amepata uhuru tena. Tutajaribu, mie shika ahadi! (You see! Mr. Meyer has found freedom! He will try again, I promise you!)

Hans smiled at the man and replied in Swahili, "Yes Kwasi, I will climb Uhuru again, and this time I will succeed!"

The men cheered and money started changing hands rapidly. Hans shook his head and sat down with a sigh and a rueful smile as he picked up some of the flatbread and tore off a piece. "Their faith in me seems misplaced at times, but I am truly grateful for it."

"What do you mean, sir?" Jeff looked at their new friend in confusion. "What do they trust you to do? And what was that all about?"

There was a pause as Hans scooped some of the paste-like substance up with his bread and then dipped the bread and paste into the stew, using it like a spoon. He sopped up some beans and rice and quickly popped the whole thing into his mouth. Phineas raised an eyebrow at Jeff who nodded and both copied what Hans had done.

He watched them as they fumbled with their makeshift spoons and smiled. "To answer your question young man, they are trusting in me and my friend to be the first men to conquer Uhuru." He swept his right hand out, gesturing toward the door and what lay beyond. "That mountain has beaten me yet again, but I swear to you, next time I will not fail."

The men behind them started pounding on their table and Hans laughed. He sat with Phineas and Jeff and told them about his most recent climb as they ate, leaving nothing out. Kwasi and his brother Elimu soon joined them and in broken English and many exaggerated hand gestures described the grueling ordeal. Jeff and Phineas were both amazed at the tenacity of the mountaineer, and the younger Voyager felt that he knew this story, but that it was somehow off.

As Phineas sopped up the last of his coconut bean soup, he shook his head in amazement. "I can't believe you've tried three times already and are still willing to give it another try. What's so special about Uhuru anyway?"

Elimu looked at Kwasi for a translation and they both shook their heads in dismay and disbelief. Hans made a calming gesture with his hands and turned to Phineas with a placating smile. "It happens to be the tallest mountain in Tanzania, among other things, and-"

"Mount Kilimanjaro!" Jeff nearly knocked his chair over in his haste to stand. He looked at Hans in awe as he realized who he was talking to and why their story seemed so familiar. "You… you're climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro."

Elimu did not need a translator to understand the amazement and respect in the teen's voice and nodded, smiling broadly. "Herr Meyer will… win Uhuru." He looked at Hans for confirmation of his statement.

"Yes, Elimu, we will conquer it. We will win!"

But it was not Hans Meyer that replied. Ludwig Purtscheller had come back in to apologize to Hans and had heard him tell the Americans about the climb. Hans' passion and excitement could not be denied, and Ludwig knew he would follow his friend up Uhuru once more.

Hans spun around in shock and stared into the smiling face before him. Ludwig quirked an eyebrow and Hans broke into raucous laughter. He grabbed Ludwig by the shoulders and embraced him

"Bishara, bring us mbege!"

"Herr Meyer, you celebrate why? Uhuru is not yet beaten." She smiled widely at the group of men. "Uhuru is not to be teased. You be careful." She wagged her finger at him and they all laughed.

As Kwasi started an animated discussion with the two Germans and his brother, Jeff leaned over to Phineas and whispered, "What's the date again?"

"October 6th, 1889. And the light's still red." Bogg looked over at Hans, then back to Jeff. "I'm guessing he was supposed to have reached the summit this last trip?"

Jeff nodded. "Yeah, he was. The third time was supposed to be 'the charm,' but I guess something went wrong. I just wish I knew what it was."

Before Bogg could respond, Kwasi grabbed Jeff, lifting the seventeen year old off the floor. Elimu pulled Phineas to his feet and thrust a mug into his hands just as his brother put Jeff down and handed him a mug as well. Hans raised his drink in the air and the others followed suit.

"Uhuru! Glück im Unglück." (Uhuru! A blessing in disguise!)

They all cheered and drank the golden draught. Jeff looked warily at the amber liquid, then saw that Bogg was waiting for him to drink. He took a large gulp then started to choke and the men laughed as Phineas pounded on his back.

"Mr. Bogg," Hans said with a smile. "You need to teach your nephew how to drink mbege, or beer. When I was his age, I drank beer like water."

Jeff wiped his eyes and coughed once more and said in a watery whisper, "It just went down the wrong pipe."

"That's my boy," Phineas cheered, grinning at his nephew.

It was another hour before the impromptu party broke up. Hans insisted on sharing lodging with his new friends, and they let him make plans for the evening as they stepped outside to get some air.

"Did you find out what that beer was made of? It's kinda sweet. I like it." His head was a little fuzzy but Jeff didn't mind too much.

Phineas laughed and tightened his grip slightly on the inebriated seventeen year old. "Yeah, apparently it's made from bananas. I never knew they could pack such a wallop!"

"You're telling me? I won't touch another banana for a year." Jeff took a deep breath and looked at Bogg. "So, what do you think we should do about Hans?"

"You're the history buff, kid. Do you remember anything more about his climb?" Jeff paced around, trying to pull his thoughts together. He muttered something under his breath that caused Bogg to smile. "What was that, kid?"

Jeff didn't miss the twinkle in his friend's eye and replied sourly, "I said, this would be a lot easier if I wasn't drunk and we had a guidebook."

Phineas laughed, "Well, after you finish Academy, you'll have a guidebook, and you're not drunk yet."

"But my head is buzzing…"

"And that's why it's called 'a buzz'," Bogg said with a grin.

Jeff sat down on a log and looked out across the vast landscape. Miles away, standing majestically in the background was Mt. Kilimanjaro. He tried to shake off the effects of the beer to concentrate, and only partially succeeded.

"Okay. I know he made it all the way up in October 1889, like on the fifth or sixth, and then they explored the area for a week or more before coming back down, and they wouldn't have reached Taveta before the last part of October. So he shouldn't be her yet; he should be descending the mountain for another few days at least."

"Do you know when he started his climb this time?"

"No… well, wait a minute." He started to pace, a look a deep concentration on his face. Phineas had learned to not bother him when he was thinking like this.

Jeff rubbed his temples, trying to draw out the memory through the alcohol haze in his brain. "Well, I do remember that it took them fourteen days to get from Mombasa where their ship was docked to here in Taveta. And then they stopped in two villages for a few days a piece, and set up camp at the second one which was like half way up the mountain and that's where they started the climb..." Jeff started to ramble off bits of information from memory, reciting it as if he was presenting a project to his class.

"I got it! They left most of the caravan in Marangu and started the climb to the higher elevations on September twenty-eighth. That's Dennis' cousin's birthday." Both he and Phineas laughed at that, and Jeff blushed as he quickly continued. "I'm also pretty sure he had a native as a guide; someone who had been up to the highest peak before. Key... no, umm, Kai… Kim... shoot, what was his name? I know it started with a K."

"You got me, kid, unless it was Kwasi. But I think he was a porter, not a guide…"

"Try human pack mule," Jeff laughed. "Kwasi can carry both of us without breaking a sweat!"

Bogg laughed and continued. "I don't think he said anything about a native guide as he described this last trip. And how did you remember all that?"

Jeff smiled and had a far-away look in his eyes. "Back in fifth grade, my friend Dennis and I did a report on Mt. Kilimanjaro. We made a cool paper mache mountain and everything. We gave the report the week I went on vacation…"

Phineas recognized the pain filled look in Jeff's eyes and realized what it meant.

"The accident."

Jeff nodded. His smile was sad but his voice was strong. "It's okay Bogg. You didn't know. We'd given our report the day before I left with my parents, so it was still fresh in my mind. And Dennis and I were totally into mountain climbing at the time, so anything we learned stuck with me."

"What would I do without you, kid?" Bogg put his arm around Jeff as they started back for the inn. "Now all we need to do is find out if they had their guide or not."

Hans greeted them at the door and led them upstairs to a quiet room with three large beds covered in traditional tribal blankets. It reminded Jeff of being in old Mr. Smith's house, the neighbor who collected anything that had to do with tribal Africa.

As they settled down to sleep, Jeff looked over at their host. "Herr Meyer, I know you had a lot of porters and people helping you on this last trip, but did you have a guide?"

"A guide, young man?"

"Yeah," Jeff pressed him. "Like a, a native or something. Someone who knows Uhuru."

Hans pondered the question before answering. "Well, there was a young man from the Chagga tribe who was going to be my guide, but a gentleman who had joined us for a bit, Dante I believe his name was, convinced me to make the climb on our own. He said the youth was nothing but trouble and would leave me stranded on the mountain."

"Do you remember the young man's name? The one who was to be your guide," Jeff asked.

"I believe his people called him Kinyala. Why do you ask?"

Jeff glanced at Bogg and nodded as he replied. "Well, we'd been told that Kinyala was probably the best guide in the area, and if we wanted to climb Uhuru that he would be the one to use."

Hans shook his head sadly. "That might have been the case a month ago, but no longer. He was offered to me in exchange for standing trial for dodging the road construction 'draft,' and since Dante convinced me not to take him, he stood trial." The tone of his voice left no doubt as to the verdict and sentence for Kinyala, and Jeff shivered.

The older men continued to talk for another twenty minutes before finally calling it a night. As soon as he thought Hans was asleep, Jeff crept over to Phineas' bed and gently shook him. Phineas could see the concern on his face, accentuated by the moonlight, and spoke before Jeff could even open his mouth.

"I know kid, I know. Kinyala wasn't supposed to go to trial or die," he whispered as he sat up. "We'll get the dates from Hans or Ludwig in the morning and then go back and make it right, okay?"

"Okay," Jeff whispered back, glad to get a good night's sleep before Voyaging. "And Bogg?"

Phineas couldn't help but smile at the hopeful, wistful and embarrassed tone Jeff used. It was the same questioning tone he used when they first traveled together and the boy was unsure of where he stood with Bogg or was simply afraid to ask what he thought to be a silly question. And truth be told, Phineas loved the fact that he still used it.

He put his hand on his arm and gave a gentle squeeze. "Yes, Jeffrey. We'll climb with him."

-0-

The next morning the Voyagers were talking to Ludwig over breakfast, discussing the next attempt the group would make to climb Kilimanjaro. As Hans came downstairs to join them he was surprised by the arrival of an acquaintance from the beginning of this last climb.

"Dante, it's good to see you again. Please, join us for breakfast."

As Hans led the dark-haired man to the table Dante froze mid-stride, staring at the two Americans sitting beside Ludwig and Elimu. He knew headquarters had made strides in tracking his newer model omni and would send these two after him once his 'disturbance' was discovered, but the sight of his arch rivals still caught him by surprise. It was a bit sooner than he had hoped, but he decided to make the best of it. His body stiffened and Hans looked concerned.

"Dante, what's wrong?"

Phineas and Jeff looked up as Hans spoke and a moment later both were on their feet, eyes flashing in anger.

Ludwig placed a firm hand on Bogg's arm and muttered to Elimu in Swahili. The large porter slowly stood up behind Jeff and looked ready to end any violence before it could start.

Hans looked at the men nervously. "I, ah, I see that you three have already met?"

"Unfortunately," Jeff said, teeth clenched.

"Drake." Phineas spoke the word as if it were poison.

Ludwig raised an eyebrow. "I thought you said your name was Dante, sir?"

With an irritated sigh and a withering glance at Phineas, he replied. "My name is Dante Drake, if you must know. And yes, we do have the... misfortune of being acquainted."

The utter hatred in his voice put a chill through the room that could almost be physically felt. Ludwig looked up at Phineas and noted the look of contempt on his face for Dante matched the tone of Jeff's voice, and he smiled grimly. Ludwig Purtscheller had not trusted the man from the moment they'd met, but Hans was the leader so he deferred to his friend, even though he couldn't shake the feeling that Dante was somehow serving his own needs and not helping the expedition in the slightest.

Glancing at Hans he said, "Ich erklärte Ihnen, dass dieser Mann nicht vertrauenswürdig war. Er muss gehen. Jetzt." (I told you this man was not trustworthy. He needs to leave. Now.)

"I'm untrustworthy, you say?"

Ludwig flushed with embarrassment as Dante stared at him in icy amusement. "I say that the man who would speak about another in a different language, assuming he has an advantage, is himself untrustworthy, and an ass."

"It takes one to know one," Jeff muttered angrily. "And only an ass who had someone murdered would come back to see how he'd changed history."

Phineas shot a warning glare at his partner. "Back off, kid."

Drake shrugged and took his silver omni out of his waistcoat pocket. Tossing it from hand to hand, he challenged the young Voyager.

"Why don't you go back and stop me? I'll even give you the date. September 17th , 1889, in this very inn."

Jeff responded without hesitation. "You're on!"

"Gentlemen, please," Hans held up his hands to quite them. "Herr Bogg, Herr Drake. Let's not..."

Drake spun on his heel and headed for the door. "Then, catch me if you can, young Mr. Jones," he called over his shoulder. "And don't be surprised if you suddenly find yourself with a difficult choice to make. You can't save everyone you know."

Jeff knocked his chair down as he vaulted over the table and ran after Drake, leaving a stunned group of mountaineers and villagers behind him. Bogg quickly recovered and ran after him, followed by Hans, Ludwig, Kwasi and Elimu after the briefest discussion as to whether they should or not.

Phineas called out to Jeff as the young man rounded the back corner of the inn, but Jeff didn't stop. He was going to make Drake pay for all the history he had destroyed, and there wasn't anything or anyone who could stop him.

Drake had run around to the backside of the inn and was setting his omni as Jeff rounded the corner.

Perfect, Drake thought as he saw Jeff coming for him. Separating them is going to be so much easier than I thought. And then I can move forward with my plan.

Drake had anticipated being attacked by Jeff or Bogg and was ready to trigger his omni the moment he was touched, but he was not prepared to be assaulted from behind by Bishara as she threw out the breakfast scraps.

Using the distraction to his advantage, Jeff tackled Drake and tried to grab the omni from him. The young man was stronger than Drake had expected, so the scuffle quickly became more of a wrestling match.

Phineas rounded the corner and watched helplessly as Jeff grappled with the enemy Voyager. He had already set his omni to take them straight to Voyager Headquarters and tried to grab either Voyager so he could trigger his omni, but it was proving much harder than it seemed. Drake was putting up an amazing fight and Bogg knew from experience that going into the time corridor while trying to keep hold of a struggling body, let alone two of them, was difficult at best.

Jeff had gained the upper hand and flipped Drake onto his back. He had nearly broken two fingers as he forced them into Drake's clenched fist and tried to pry the omni from him. He briefly saw his partner behind him and shouted.

"Bogg, now!"

Phineas reached out and grabbed Jeff's shoulder, but was knocked off balance by a kick from Drake. This caused him to stumble forward onto Jeff who then lost what little grip he had on Drake's omni, giving his enemy full control once more. The renegade Voyager quickly pressed activator and the three men disappeared just as the other four men came around the corner. The two Germans stared at the now empty space in shock, and Kwasi made the sign against evil while Elimu started to chant a prayer to keep the evil spirits from coming back to haunt them.

As they flew through the cosmos, Drake's only thought was that his plan was at last moving forward as he had planned. And if his enemies acted as predictably as he knew they would, he would soon be rid of both of them. Permanently.