Three notes for the readers: 1) the prologue introduces a female character, who in my mind looks like the actress Halle Berry; 2) the characters of my story are a bit more emotional than the original series, so consider yourselves warned! 3) Last but not least: I would like to thank girl in the glen for beta reading my story and for fixing all the language mistakes I made. Her help has been invaluable and her work highly professional.


PROLOGUE

It was only the third time in his long career as a time agent that Steel received a red code: immediate assignment to assist a fellow operator. No information, no briefing, nothing at all; just an emergency call to Earth.

When he materialized – alone – inside a flat, he had no time to wonder why Sapphire wasn't with him. He immediately noticed a figure crouched in a corner, weeping. It was a woman, and her mocha-colored skin and short black hair were somewhat familiar. He took a closer look and finally recognized her: Jet.

Steel was about to approach her when a sudden sense of loss took his breath away. He collapsed on his knees, lacerated by an excruciating rip.

He had never experienced such a heart-wrenching feeling before, but he knew what the cause was. He sobbed…

"Sapphire."

Only then the woman noticed his presence.

"Steel. You too?"

Two desperate grey eyes lifted to look at the woman.

"Sapphire is dead. Our link has been severed."

Jet crawled to reach her fellow operator and put a trembling hand on his arm in a feeble attempt at comforting him.

"Not necessarily. Maybe she's never been born."

Steel was confused.

"What?"

Jet tried to pull him away from the numbness she knew he was experiencing.

"Maybe Sapphire is not dead. Maybe somebody prevented her from being born."

"What difference does it make?" He moaned. "She's not here anymore. I lost her."

A tear was slowly running down his cheek as Jet shook him.

"Good heavens, man, get a grip on yourself!"

She tried to forget that she had been crying uncontrollably until Steel arrived. She was glad to be distracted from her own grief.

Jet's words seemed to shake him from his anguish, and with a visible effort Steel tried to recover himself as he stood unsteadily, leaning against a wall for support. After a few moments, he looked at the woman with pained eyes and asked, in a still shaky voice.

"Jet, what happened?"

"Radium and I were sent to fix a time anomaly caused by an earthling. We found out that it was a woman; more specifically a professional killer, who uses a time device to travel into her victims' past in order to kill them. When she's back to her own time she's not subject to investigations."

Just then Steel noticed the lack of the woman's partner. "Where is he? Where's Radium?"

She averted her eyes to prevent him from seeing the deep pain she was experiencing.

"The killer found out about us and somehow discovered Radium's name. With that, she easily ascertained his year of birth, when radium was discovered. She went back to 1898 and prevented Marie Curie from coming across the element. My partner has never been born."

Steel was stunned by the implications.

"If radium has never been discovered, then the whole history of nuclear energy has changed."

"Yes. Earth is completely different now. Time entered an alternative corridor, the continuum has been seriously compromised."

Steel asked, "Why Sapphire?"

"It probably has something to do with the period she and Radium were working together. Do you remember? It was when you and I were partners."

Steel considered.

"Yes, I remember Sapphire once told me that Radium saved her life during their first assignment together."

The realization of what had happened made his last hopes crumble.

"But if Radium wasn't there to save her, then she's really dead."

He lowered his face to hide his grief-stricken eyes.

Jet approached Steel and tentatively put a hand on his cheek. When he looked into her eyes, she spoke resolutely.

"We will save them, Steel. We will stop that woman and restore the time continuum."

Too disheartened to talk, Steel just nodded unconvincingly.