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Three problems, three men, one solution.
2nd, 4th, 7th - 10th, 21st - 31st October 2013
"This isn't about doing the right thing. You know that better than anyone."
As usual he didn't understand a word of what he was saying. His temper was still hard to control, but he was getting there. This fool was not helping at all. "So what are you saying? Am I supposed to help him? Him, of all people!"
"I cannot answer that."
"Why me? You must know what he did. I know it would be too hard to find somebody willing to help, but you didn't even try, did you?"
The annoying man smiled. "We didn't pick you out of a hat or something. I told you, it has to be you. Don't you see? You've already done it or we wouldn't be here. It really isn't that difficult to understand."
Not this rubbish again, he angrily kept to himself. This was an opportunity too hard to resist taking advantage of. He could undo his sins before he even thought of them. Chakotay knew he had to try, to hell with time.
Getting onboard was as easy as he planned. He wasn't surprised of course, but in a tiny way he felt sorry for the so called opponents he faced.
There was nothing stopping him from completing his task. At least that was what he thought. He had no idea that within the team he had infiltrated, he was not the only one who didn't belong there.
"This time, I'll finally get what I deserve," the man thought. A smile threatened his cover so he held it back for now. As the team split up at a corridor junction he let it loose. He only had to lose this one guy who was walking behind him and he was free to begin his plan.
That man would make sure he would fail again.
The USS Leda continued its slow orbit around the planet known as Shurouva. A few alien ships had joined them, but kept their distance behind them.
Lieutenant Kim's Log Stardate 58647.4: The Leda has returned from another evacuation mission, but for now we're postponing the next one for a more important assignment. I'll be more than happy when this one is complete, for numerous reasons.
"Hey Harry," Tom's loud but muffled voice cut in. Harry sighed in annoyance. "We're swapping Captain seats when this is done, see."
As if. End log.
Harry quickly leapt from his desk, dashed out of his Ready Room and entered the Bridge. He groaned when he found Tom reclining in his chair so far he was lying down.
"See, it's broken."
"Dream on, Tom," Harry muttered. "Shouldn't you be getting back to Voyager?"
"I would but the chair's knackered and I can't get up. You'll just have to beam me to my Bridge," Tom said with a cheeky smile.
Harry shook his head, "as you wish." He nodded in Opps direction, all he got was a roll of the eyes. "I'm starting to miss Faye. Where is she anyway?"
"Why? I'm much more interesting," Damien countered.
"She did her job, that's the difference," Harry sighed angrily. His attention went back to Tom who had decided to rest his head in his crossed arms. "Hint, hint."
Tom smiled, he was enjoying every minute of Harry's tantrums. "I don't know why you're hinting, Harry. I was doing my job as the fleet Captain."
"That doesn't mean you had to tag along. You have Voyager," Harry protested. His eyes lit up slightly, "it was also agreed that I'm the Captain when the Leda is on its own, ha!"
"Yes because I'm not there," Tom smugly retorted. Harry's throat growled, he kept his mouth shut. "I am now."
"So... so you're okay with James in command of Voyager?" Harry was running out of arguments.
Tom shrugged. "He's not going to piss anyone off or pick a fight with someone sitting in a dead farmers field, is he? It's a workless job right now, hence why I'm here, keeping busy."
Harry stared blankly at his so called friend as he continued to relax in his chair, now bed. "Are you serious? Look at you! Also you've been waiting for this day for weeks."
"You're damn right, this is a fine chair. I wonder if it's too late to tell repair teams to redesign the Bridge. I can't have a recliner chair with a barrier behind me," Tom said gleefully.
Harry sighed, that was not what he meant at all. He racked his brains to think of something, anything to get that man off his Bridge and onto his own. While he was doing that the viewscreen showed a small object approach from the planet.
"This is gonna end well. I'm video-ing this," Damien grinned. Everyone who was not Tom and Harry gave him a dirty look.
"Of course it's too late, that's what I'm trying to tell you," Harry groaned.
The object got a lot bigger, and much clearer as it approached. The people who were watching could make out the colour and shape of it.
"Nah, I'm sure a few certain people could rip that banister off in five minutes," Tom said.
"You're missing my point," Harry groaned.
The oval shaped front of the object glided towards them, banking slightly left to approach them nose to nose. Its speed slowed down much to Damien's disappointment.
"See!" Harry pointed at it.
The object was so close now everyone could see the individual lights coming from it, and even inside the tiny glass windows on the front of it. Tom finally chose the moment it stopped to look.
"Voyager? She... well sh..." he stammered. Harry face palmed as the man in his seat tried desperately to get the chair upright again. "Take her back down and we'll do it again."
"I volunteer for the first half of the mission," Damien sneered. Once again he got a few dirty looks. "I don't need permission." He scoffed at the console beeping at him. "They're hailing."
Harry shook his head, "on screen if you can manage that."
Damien was too disappointed that nothing had gone wrong, he couldn't be bothered to mess with him. He did as he was told for once.
The familiar sight of the Voyager Bridge appeared on the screen. Tom's reaction was to panic a little more.
"Who did that? I didn't..." he stuttered. He then caught sight of something else that annoyed him. "What is she doing in my seat?"
Jessie smiled as she relaxed in the Captain's seat. "Just trying it out." A foot rest appeared from the base, Tom's eyes widened. "Someone should."
"You... you bitch," he growled.
Jessie's smile just got bigger, her legs stretched on the new foot rest. She waved sweetly at him.
"How could you let her... We were getting along," Tom stuttered. "And how could you do this without me? You two are too cruel to me."
"This is shock to you? Did you bump your head?" James asked from the helm. The sight of him there made him tear up a little, but that was probably because his eyes were so wide.
Damien growled, "you could have bumped the ship a little. Just a little head on collision, is that too much to ask?"
"That didn't end too well for the Enterprise E and the ship it hit, did it?" Harry said.
"It ended well for me. While it was getting fixed I stole it," Damien smiled. "I remember trapping that bald Captain in his seat with that stupid seatbelt, which I designed myself for the occasion. He wouldn't give in until I threatened to let my brainwashed Deanna Troi take the helm. He surrendered very quickly."
Tom and Harry nodded at each other, finally it made sense. Tom shook his head very quickly, "wait, are we really remembering Season Two cliffhangers? Look at us and our continuity." He and Harry quickly high fived.
"Jesus Chr... if you think I'm letting one of you two reclaim that ship, you've got another thing coming. The Pegasus was a shuttle in comparison," Damien huffed.
"If the Enterprise is still in one piece, I think it would be better off towed back to Earth, honestly," James commented. Both Tom and Harry glared at him, Damien was too busy reliving his victory in his head.
"I was its First Officer for years," Tom protested.
"Yes and a fine job you did of it too. Speaking of which, where is it?" James asked with a smile on his face.
Tom looked around nervously. "You know what I've still got the Flyer to fix, so toodles." With that he ran off.
"Toodles?" Harry mumbled. "Never mind. Now that Voyager's back in space, we can get back to our evacuation mission. How long has B'Elanna quoted for the rest of the repairs?"
"Another few hours and she'll be ready to test the warp core," James replied.
Damien's attention came back, "oh, I have a perfect addition to the warp core to make it work better."
B'Elanna's head appeared from the side of the screen, scaring the crap out of everyone who didn't know she was there. "No warp core shield!"
Damien looked very disappointed, "how did you know?"
"Please. Only you would invent something that's supposed to be useful, but would fail at the slightest nudge," B'Elanna groaned. "Besides you've admitted to being responsible for certain upgrades to the Enterprise before you stole it."
Damien pouted angrily. Harry smiled like it was him that caused it. "You know what this means."
"That Damien was responsible for everything bad that happened in Nemesis. A little harsh, don't you think?" B'Elanna giggled.
"No, well yes. Admitting to being the one who stole a starship, as well as sabotaging her," Harry said with a sly smile. He tapped his commbadge. "Kim to Anderson. You're going to like this one."
The smell was enough to tell her not to drink it, but Yasmin was so desperate for a coffee she decided to take a chance. She dared to take one tiny sip, but that was harder than she figured. Instead of a soothing hot liquid in her mouth, the contents of the cup had left her top lip covered in a brown sludge. Her eyes studied the coffee, which did look like a normal black coffee to her while her tongue absent mindedly cleaned the sludge off of her lip. She immediately regretted doing that.
A few crewmembers walked passed her in the opposite direction just as she tried to spit what seemed like soil out of her mouth. Unfortunately for her it was already dissolving on her tongue. Desperate to get that disgusting taste from her mouth she stuck out her tongue, and then tried to wipe it with her fingers. Luckily by this point she didn't really have an audience.
"Ugh, this is why mum called Neelix the coffee devil. It's not a good thing," she grumbled. Now she wanted a coffee even more than she had ever done. Heck she'd settle for tea if it meant getting the taste out of her mouth.
Yasmin failed to realise that a door nearby was opening as she was walking by it. The noise of it made her leap backwards. Normally she'd spill the contents of her cup but it barely even budged, making her scowl at whatever this stuff was. All she knew is that it was definitely not a liquid.
"Yasmin?" a familiar voice said from the doorway.
Yasmin's eyes widened slightly as her pupils followed the voice. She blinked many times as she assumed the fake coffee had made her hallucinate. No matter how many times she did it, what she saw was still the same.
"Shouldn't you be on the Leda?" the voice continued.
Yasmin decided to rub her eyes slightly, all that did was blur her vision for a few seconds. What was standing in front of her was still a much healthier looking Chakotay, with far less technology on his face. All that remained was a sole implant attached to the side of his neck. "What did you do?"
He looked confused for a second or two. "Oh. I was getting a bit tired of the Borg and dead jokes. It's been a while."
"Yeah," Yasmin said uncomfortably. "You looked a lot cooler before."
Chakotay sighed, "only you would think that." Yasmin shrugged her shoulders with a smile on her face. "Don't tell anyone, okay?" He turned away to walk down the corridor.
"Hey, is what my brother says true?" she called after him.
"No," Chakotay bluntly replied.
"Oh," Yasmin seemed a little disappointed. Chakotay sensed that and stopped, a curious look on his face formed. "I miss mum, it's too bad it didn't work."
"You..." Chakotay mumbled. He looked over his shoulder. "You keep doing stuff that makes me re-think you being just a girl clone of James. He doesn't see it the same way as you do."
Yasmin shrugged again. "I keep telling people that there's more to me than that, why does nobody listen?" Chakotay turned around fully. "Damien made me to betray everyone, didn't he? Mum used to say that was probably why I had my creepy moments."
"Great," Chakotay groaned with disappointment.
"What?" Yasmin said curiously.
Chakotay shook his head, "forget it." He turned away again. "If only a James clone with even less morals is okay with what you've done, you know you've screwed up," he muttered to himself.
"Weird, what was his problem?" Yasmin said.
Sleep didn't come easy for him that night. He had hoped now that his body was recovering that he would feel an improvement. He did not. Strangely he was even more restless than usual. It didn't help that the only quarters he could find were on the Leda, also he had to settle for a bunkbed. Fortunately though he didn't have to share it.
Normally the stars would soothe him but he had no window. All he could do was wait for the darkness and his exhaustion to knock him out.
It felt like hours before he finally drifted off.
When he awoke again he felt even worse than he did before. His eyelids were so heavy he could barely open them. It even felt like a struggle to move, never mind sit up. The first thing he decided to do was pull his sheet off him, in the vain hope that the cold would coax him out of bed. As he settled it down beside him he noticed a shadow at the end of the bed.
A hand flew out to touch the light panel beside him, it took him a few tries before the room lit up. His tiredness was a faint memory as he bolted upright.
His eyes weren't playing any tricks on him. Even when his eyes adjusted to the sudden bright light he still saw it. A man stood at the foot of his bed.
"What the hell do you..." Chakotay growled. Something else was wrong. The last time he had sat up quickly he had bumped his head on the top bunk, this time nothing happened. He shook that off, the man in his quarters was more important. "Get out!"
The man was not alarmed, he was even calm. "I apologise, I did not mean to startle you."
"What?" Chakotay snapped. He threw his legs over the side of the bed and climbed out. This guy was going to get thrown out if he didn't explain himself. That was too lenient, he thought, he would just get rid of him now. His hands were about to grab the intruder when he noticed something else that was odd. The entire room was different. He remembered the thought about his bed and turned back to look at it. It was no longer a bunk bed, it was now a regular double bed. "What the hell is going on?"
"I apologise. Normally I'd let the subject get a feel of things before I confront them," the man said. Chakotay's attention flew back to him. That was when he noticed the man was wearing a Starfleet type uniform, but it was still a style he had not seen before. That didn't matter though, he had just admitted that whatever was happening was his fault. He went to grab him again. "Please, do not be alarmed. I'm here to help."
"Help?" Chakotay scoffed. "So far you've kidnapped me, placed me in a different room and watched me sleep. You better have a damn good explanation."
The man gestured to the device in his hands. It looked like a tricorder at first glance, but the design of it and the readings on it looked completely different. "I wasn't. I was waiting for you to wake up."
"You've got to do better than that," Chakotay warned.
"Of course," the man managed a smile. "I am Maxwell Evans, Commander of the USS Sedna."
Chakotay's angry exterior weakened slightly; that name was familiar to him. "Sedna? I know that..."
"I imagine you do. Our ship was assigned to fix a paradox involving your ship before," Maxwell said. "That was before I joined the crew, I'm afraid."
"Paradox? Good lord, don't you think we have enough?" Chakotay groaned.
Maxwell smiled, he resisted the urge to laugh. This didn't amuse Chakotay at all. "I understand your frustration, but the paradox involving your daughter had nothing to do with us."
Chakotay's temper was starting to run out, he grabbed the man by the arm. "Don't ever mention her again."
Maxwell pulled his arm away without even blinking. "I have no intention of doing so, Commander. My visit is about something else."
"Oh? So..." Chakotay said.
"As you probably remember now, the Sedna is a Time Management vessel. We monitor the temporal continuum for paradoxes and in laments terms, fix them. Your Voyager keeps us in a job, let me tell you," Maxwell chuckled.
"Hilarious," Chakotay muttered.
"We detected three distinct paradoxes, that's why I'm here," Maxwell said.
"Three?" Chakotay was surprised. "Are you sure you're not detecting the current one."
Maxwell shook his head, "we know what we're doing, Commander. The point is we need your help with one of them."
"Can't you do it yourself? You're the expert," Chakotay said.
"I'm afraid not. Like many paradoxes, this can only be fixed by one particular person," Maxwell said. "We need you for one of them."
"Me? Right now I'm of no use to anyone," Chakotay muttered.
"It has to be you. I cannot explain why as you must figure that out for yourself," Maxwell said. Chakotay stared blankly at the man, he nodded. "I don't make the rules."
"Explain to me again what you people on the Sedna do," he said. "The last time you basically had us do all the dirty work for you, and here we are again. How the hell am I supposed to help fix a paradox when I know nothing about it."
"I didn't say that I won't tell you anything about it," Maxwell smiled. He looked around the room, "take a look around."
"What?" Chakotay was running out of patience again.
"Go ahead, take your time. I'll return when you figure it out," Maxwell said. He pressed something on his tricorder, he soon disappeared in a green transporter beam.
Chakotay shook his head angrily. He briefly had a look around as he was suggested to do, but it only frustrated him more. His attention soon went to the window he didn't have before. He approached slowly while he took in the sight. It didn't soothe him one bit, it just made him all the more uneasy. It didn't matter how beautiful it was, it was wrong.
"You son of a bitch. You didn't even ask, you've transported me back in time already. Haven't you?" he snapped. He looked behind him to see if that strange man had appeared again, but nothing happened. His head turned back to the window. All he could see was the glistening blue oceans of Earth. The man appeared then instead, this time beside him at the window.
"No," he answered.
Chakotay shook his head, "could have fooled me."
Maxwell smiled, "I have then. The date is still 2382." Chakotay swung his head in his direction. "I find it's a lot easier to show people than tell them."
"More cryptic rubbish," Chakotay muttered.
"This is the result of not helping me," Maxwell continued like he wasn't interrupted.
"What?" Chakotay snapped. "What's so bad about this?"
Maxwell looked down to the floor, his shoulders slumped. "The beauty of Earth often deceives, doesn't it?" He turned to face him. "As I said, I can't fully explain it. All I can tell you is what has happened." He waited to see if Chakotay had anything else to say, but he didn't. "The Federation is crippled. We only have a few ships left, and we've barely just saved Earth from a devastating Game Sphere. Sound familiar?"
"I doubt I'll ever forget," Chakotay replied. "That happened two years ago though."
"Yes, but the Federation is still reeling from it. Our sister ship, the Erona did not interfere this time around," Maxwell explained. Chakotay didn't have to ask, his face said it. "That would be too difficult to explain. Voyager is one of the few remaining defences we have, and it's not enough."
"So you're not going to explain how a paradox has caused this, even though you've admitted your own ship didn't do anything to help here," Chakotay said.
Maxwell sighed, "it's because they couldn't. They don't exist in this version of the timeline. If I go into this further it will interfere in your decisions while you fix this, I can't."
"Then what the hell do you expect me to do? This is very vague," Chakotay grumbled.
"I know, but believe me, that's for the best. If I gave you the information, you will handle it differently," Maxwell said. "You see in my perspective, and technically yours, what you do has already been done. It's only if you don't do it, a paradox forms." Chakotay mouthed what as his headache grew into a migraine. "I'll make this simple. I'll be sending you back to a certain point, what you do there will result in the timeline you're used to. I cannot influence you anymore than what I've already done."
"What I do there... you don't even know what I'll do. I may do something terrible," Chakotay said.
Maxwell shrugged, "I do already know, and that's beside the point. All I have to do to fix the paradox is send you back to an earlier date, with the clues I have given you already and the one I'll give you before you go."
"Jesus Christ, this is why Kathryn hated time travel," Chakotay muttered to himself.
"You hate it because you're thinking too much about it," Maxwell said.
Chakotay rolled his eyes, "yes that must be it. So what's the clue you haven't given me yet?"
"You're not going to like it," Maxwell answered. "In order to achieve your goal you'll need to help someone you're not going to want to."
"I have to help someone? One someone helps save Earth from a Game Sphere, and/or creates the Erona in the future. This is ridiculous," Chakotay grumbled.
Maxwell tried to hide his smile but Chakotay caught it, he scowled. "You know as well as I do that one tiny event can change the course of history."
"So who are we talking about?" Chakotay dared to ask.
"If I told you, it's likely you'd resist coming with me," Maxwell didn't answer.
Inside a darkened quarters a green transporter beam formed, materialising Chakotay just beside the window.
"Whatever gave him that idea?" he smiled, looking at the tricorder device in his hand. "Okay so this is the time he had in, I wonder..." He looked around to try and figure out where or when he was. His attention returned back to the tricorder as he shrugged his shoulders. The date, time and place were clearly shown but there were lots of other readings he didn't understand. A red line was crossing a tiny chart, gradually lowering as it did. He looked back to the part he did understand.
"December Twelfth, 2369, USS Endeavor. What does this time and place have to do with him?" He winced slightly, "I'd better get a disguise first."
Before Chakotay could even move the doors opened. Panicked he darted under the nearby table.
Whoever had come in stomped his or her feet and dropped a jacket on the floor. The lights activated. All Chakotay could hear now was the person huffing and grunting.
Chakotay glanced down at his tricorder, he hoped it would tell him a little bit more.
"I'll teach her," a man's voice muttered angrily.
Chakotay's head raised, his eyes widened. He'd recognise that voice anywhere. Just in case he tried to edge closer so he could see a bit better, all he could see were a pair of legs pacing nearby.
"Nobody makes a fool out of Damien. Who does she think I am?" the voice continued. The pacing stopped, Chakotay heard a devious laugh. "Oh I'll get you your coffee, Commander. Enjoy, it'll be your last." The legs went out of sight. All Chakotay could hear now was a chair being moved and a computer switched on.
"Kathryn?" Chakotay mouthed, his eyes narrowed.
He listened, expecting to hear more about what he was going to do or even just sounds giving him away. All he heard eventually was a lid being peeled off a plastic pot and the theme music for Watership Down. Chakotay tried not to groan audibly, but it was very difficult.
After a few hours Chakotay was trying not to doze off. He knew Damien was up to something but he wasn't entirely sure what. He knew it had something to do with coffee, and he had muttered something about a delivery.
"Excellent," Damien finally announced. He stood within inches of where Chakotay lay, it was very tempting to attack him but he didn't have a weapon he wanted to use on him. "I hope you enjoy your last drink, Janeway. It'll be black and hot, just like you asked. Mwahahahaha." A small thud just above him startled him slightly. Damien then seemed to walk away and go through some doors.
"Finally," Chakotay muttered. He peeped out from under the table, looking directly up to see what was on the table. All he could see was a small metal box. It had been closed up but it wasn't sealed so he decided to have a look inside. As he expected he saw a few jars of Nescafe coffee, but they were clearly covering a device sitting underneath them. "Hmm, I wonder how much time I have?"
Right on cue the shower in the bathroom started running, he could only just make it out. Luckily another sound confirmed it.
"Don't be so quick to, walk away, dance with me," Damien's voice sang. Chakotay quickly covered one of his ears to block out the noise. Fortunately for him he didn't sing anymore. "God! Why is that song in my head? It's bloody awful." Chakotay heard a few angry grunts. "Wish I could kill that squeaky, bald, over hyped, can't dance at all asshole."
"And so it begins," Chakotay groaned. As he had plenty of time he picked up all of the jars of coffee and rushed to the replicator. Once he had finished he returned the jars to the box and then rushed out of the room.
What Damien didn't realise was that he was being followed. Chakotay had tried to remove the gel he had in his hair, so it would droop over his tattoo. He didn't have time to disguise himself better.
With the turbolift dead ahead, Chakotay quickly racked his brain for a solution to this problem. He didn't follow the other man inside, he continued down the corridor, hoping there was another one nearby.
Chakotay eventually found what he was looking for and rushed inside. "Deck one. I hope." The turbolift ignored his second comment and sprung into action. Only a few seconds later it stopped, the doors opened. Carefully he stepped back out onto the Bridge.
Everyone there were in shock, well almost everyone.
"What? I'm not late," a very familiar voice said.
Chakotay felt his heart skip a beat, the blood in his face drain away. He didn't even see her, her voice alone gave him chills. "Kathryn," he whispered.
"Your office just blew up," another man said from the command chairs. That was when Chakotay spotted another familiar person walking up to them. He quickly turned to his side so the man wouldn't see his face.
"Oh... bummer," Kathryn casually said.
"Commander, I am pleased to see you are all right," the Vulcan calmly said. "Admiral Paris was wondering if you gave anymore thought about the promotion offer?"
"Why yes I have, a lot of thought," Kathryn said quickly. Chakotay smiled, she was never that good at lying after at least her fifth coffee.
"You don't know what Lieutenant Tuvok is talking about, do you?" the other man confirmed for him.
"Of course, does that get me out of this dump?"
Chakotay tried his best not to laugh so nobody would notice him. That was when he spotted Damien in the corner of his eye. He was surprised to see him in a Starfleet uniform, it looked very strange to him. The so called villain was facing away from everyone, towards a station.
"Um, why would they promote you and keep you here, when I'm still here?" the other man asked impatiently.
Kathryn's voice scoffed. "Why wouldn't they? At least if I was in command I wouldn't have offices blowing up, willy nilly. Tell Paris I'll take it."
"That can't be it," Chakotay muttered in disbelief. His eye went back to Damien who glanced behind him.
"God damnit! Plan B it is." Chakotay watched him dash back into a turbolift on the other side of the Bridge. He decided to turn directly around and re-enter his own. The tricorder beeped at him so he quickly glanced at it. The only difference was the line on the chart had stopped sloping down, it was going in a completely horizontal direction.
"What does that even mean?" he asked it.
The line spiked for a second, but that wasn't what startled Chakotay. "Temporal transport complete," it spoke to him.
"What?" Chakotay said, glancing around. Nothing was changing. He returned to the tricorder, the button he had pressed to transport himself was flashing. "Oh what the hell." His finger pushed it. The green light took him away again.
This time he appeared in a large corridor, luckily nobody was around to see him. He quickly inspected his surroundings. Directly beside him was a huge window, on the other side of it was the familiar sight of the USS Voyager. He then noticed the corridor lead to numerous junctions connecting to it. The tricorder was his next glance.
"August twenty ninth, 2370." A group of two men and a woman walked passed him, each carrying repair kits. They headed into the nearest junction. Chakotay was about to follow them when a third man ran up to catch up with them. He lingered at the back. Chakotay recognised him immediately, that was a lot more incentive to follow.
Chakotay carefully turned the corner to continue his stalking of Damien. After following him to the turbolift he overheard his destination and quickly called another turbolift of his own. He had caught a few people's attention on the way which worried him. He hadn't worn a Starfleet uniform in years, even if he did it would have been the wrong one for this time period anyway. Walking around an unlaunched starship in the casual clothes he slept in wasn't doing him any favours, but he had no time to stop and change.
Even though he was still thinking about his lack of disguise, he waltzed straight into Engineering like that. Luckily nobody noticed as he quickly dashed through the nearest door. He expected the navigational control room to be empty when the ship was standing still, but he was dead wrong.
Damien swung around to face him. "You!"
Chakotay tried not to give away how much he hated him or just knew him. He forced a confused look on his face. "Me what?"
Damien wasn't buying it. "Don't play dumb with me. I'm much, much smarter than you."
"Okay well, I'm just a little lost and..." Chakotay improvised.
"I'll say. How you got from the Endeavor to here, with the same Wesley Crusher outfit and greasy hair you had a year ago, only I could figure that out," Damien said.
"Don't let me stop you then, excuse me," Chakotay muttered. His eyebrow twitched when what he said registered with him. "Wesley Crusher outfit?"
"I know, it's bad enough that one twerp wears colours like that. Now do you mind, you're distracting me," Damien groaned.
Chakotay frowned at him, he did so back mockingly. "You remember me from the Endeavor?"
"You know I was told to be patient with very slow people, but I really don't have the give a craps to do so," Damien muttered.
"That's all?" Chakotay questioned. Damien rolled his eyes and started pointing at the door. "I'm just some bloke you saw on a Bridge, so what's the you stuff all about?" He then noticed a replicator sitting on a console behind Damien, it was in a couple of pieces. "Surely the replicators would be pre-setup, all you'd have to do is pop them into place and connect the power."
"The Captain wants hers to be..." Damien replied, deviousness appeared in his eyes. "Specially prepared."
"Do you mean sabotaged?" Chakotay asked plainly.
Damien's eyes narrowed. "What, why would somebody want their replicator sabotaged? You really are a big stupid ape, aren't you?"
Chakotay tried to contain his temper. "I know you planted the bomb in her office last year. I saw you leave before it went off."
"Hmph!" Damien grunted. "She didn't die in any explosion. If I had done it, she would have."
"Yeah sure, your plans always go well," Chakotay laughed. Damien looked at him suspiciously so he quickly tried to brush it off. "You know what you did wrong, didn't you, smart guy?"
"I don't know the meaning of the word wrong, but I think you're in its definition somewhere," Damien muttered.
"You filled the package with coffee. Don't you know anything?" Chakotay said.
Damien laughed, "I know everything... except what wrong means." He cleared his throat. "That bitch thought I was just some dumb kid that would serve her coffee. I'm much more than that. She got what she deserved."
"What? Splattered coffee all over her office," Chakotay tried not to laugh. "No, it's a test. She asks for coffee, you get her coffee and she'll treat you that way forever. Get her tea and she'll respect you. Everyone knows that."
Damien kept his eyes narrowed, he didn't look too sure. "Is that... that why she left her office early? She wasn't interested. Ah, it all makes sense now."
"Yes," Chakotay said, trying desperately not to laugh. "Serve her tea and she won't be able to resist."
"Hmm. Why would you want to help me?" Damien asked.
"Look me up, I'm a member of the Marquis," Chakotay said. This was almost too easy.
Damien smiled deviously, "ah, very good. I would have known that if you had bothered to disguise yourself. I know, I can't expect everyone to be smart like me." He turned back to his replicator to finish his work. Chakotay contemplated grabbing his neck from behind but he quickly shook it off. He soon turned around carrying the replicator, "before I go, do you want to replicate a less vomit coloured outfit?"
"No, no thank you," Chakotay said through almost gritted teeth.
"For god's sake! Why me?" Damien complained. Once again Kathryn had escaped disaster and had stepped into a turbolift with a random Admiral. He ignored the sounds of a man screaming inside the Ready Room. Nobody else did, they all rushed inside to help him.
Hiding behind and partially underneath the Tactical station, Chakotay smiled smugly. He enjoyed that for a second, removed it and stood up into view. Damien scowled at him as he stomped over.
"Do you think I'm a fool?"
"Yes," Chakotay answered on instinct. He winced slightly, he should have kept that one in his head.
Damien smirked deviously, his annoyance seemed to have dissolved instantly. "I see, well thankfully everyone makes that mistake."
"Yeah yeah, that's why you're a measly Ensign serving coffee to superiors," Chakotay retorted.
Damien's smile didn't waver, only then did Chakotay take him a little seriously. Only a little. "Is that what you think? I should give myself better credit." He stepped backwards while fishing in his pocket. "Congratulations Commander Chuckles..."
"How do you..." Chakotay stuttered, then it hit him.
"Once again you've naively become the bad guy," Damien sneered. The tricorder Chakotay had earlier emerged from his pocket. Chakotay's eyes widened as the other man waved it in front of him, and quickly backed away. "You really are an excellent sidekick. I'll know who to turn to if I need help again." He laughed in his usual evil way as he pressed a button.
"You... you played me. You son of a..." Chakotay growled. Damien began to disappear in a green transporter beam, Chakotay quickly lunged forward to grab him. Both of them disappeared a second later.
Both men appeared in the centre of a strange Bridge, everyone manning it turned their heads to look at the newcomers.
"Hey, don't you realise what you've done?" Damien hissed.
"When did you steal the device?" Chakotay snapped.
Damien's smile returned, "does it matter?"
Chakotay frowned at the villain, "if you didn't have one of your own, how did you even get into the past?"
"Ho boy, why they picked you to fix a temporal paradox is a mystery. You have no real grasp of them, do you?" Damien sneered, waving the tricorder again.
Chakotay stared blankly at him for what felt like a few minutes. "That makes no bloody sense. You know what, I only didn't do this before because I thought you were from 2369 so..." He threw a punch towards Damien. He ducked just in time for some random bald guy to walk passed, he got it instead.
Two other men approached the pair as Damien straightened back up, he looked back to laugh at the guy who was punched. "Damien, what are you playing at? You were supposed to be infiltrating Voyager while the Kazon still have it."
Damien groaned, "Ricky, Ricky... I think we've played this game long enough. We both know that I'm the real brains of the FVDA."
"That's why it never did anything worthwhile," Chakotay commented.
The second man huffed and put his hands on his hips. "FDA, and just because you were the one who said we should kidnap annoying celebrities, doesn't make you the leader. Rick and I wrote Voyager. Who better to destroy this horrid fanfiction version."
Rick nodded in his direction, "yes Brannon. How dare they make Seven of Nine a butt of the joke character, and introduce nobodies to steal her spotlight."
"I know! So get to it Damien. We'll kill them before they even get the chance," Brannon snarled.
Chakotay rolled his eyes as Damien looked across at him, then back to the other two. "I'm sure you'll agree with my method of paradox fixing here." He pointed a phaser at them and fired it on widespread just in time for the bald guy to stand back up. He vaporised along with them. "Oops, got Justin Timberlake too," Damien sniggered.
"Great, enjoy," Chakotay groaned. Damien then realised the tricorder was gone from his other hand, he swung around just in time to see Chakotay transporting away. He grabbed him at the last second.
When they rematerialised Damien was lying on the ground, nursing a black eye. Chakotay smiled as he looked down at the tricorder. That strange line had plummeted its way down to near the bottom, and was now orange. "Huh, weird." He then realised that something large was in his pocket, his hand went into it to pull whatever it was out. His face turned blank as in both of his hands sat a futuristic tricorder; the only difference between the two was the line that kept bugging him. The one from his pocket was still red and high on the little screen.
The original one disappeared from his hand, then he caught a blur run away from him. Damien was no longer lying on the floor, so it was obvious to him what had just happened. He narrowed his eyes and gave chase.
It didn't take him long to catch up but it made no difference. He watched a waving Damien disappear yet again.
"Temporal transport complete," his tricorder spoke again.
"Hmm," Chakotay figured he understood what that meant now. Like before he pressed the flashing button.
Little did he know a small child had just walked into the room. He transported away without realising. The little girl blinked a few times. "I gotta lay off the tea," she said, turning on her heel. She ran out of the room. "Mommy, can I try your coffee?"
"No Kathryn, no... No don't touch that filter machine!" a woman's voice yelled from outside.
Chakotay appeared in a more familiar place, but he wasn't too pleased about it. It was Voyager again but the corridor he was in looked charred and there were no signs of power or life. A quick pace down the corridor and he caught Damien faffing about with a second tricorder.
"You better not be doing what I think you're doing."
"Relax," Damien rolled his eyes. "Can't you tell the portal rubbish has already happened..." He smiled, "more or less." He disappeared again leaving Chakotay clenching his fists.
Just around the corner another Damien sat down with a small device. He activated it. A few minutes later a very old man walked slowly over to him.
Damien shushed him, keeping his full attention on his device. With a spare hand he pulled out a yoghurt.
"In my day we used our hands to eat yogurt," was the old man's response to Damien pulling out a spoon.
"Uh huh. Any minute now," Damien mumbled.
The older figured looked confused. Suddenly a blue swirly portal appeared behind him, the gravity of it dragged him inside. Minutes later it closed.
"Mwahahahaha," Damien laughed. "I knew sitting on Deck Thirteen would get rid of that codger eventually. Now I'm free to get on with my dastardly plans in peace." A growl caught his attention, he looked down at his device with an evil smile on his face. "Oh you're picking a fight with me, how foolish."
Chakotay popped his head around the corner and back again. He shook his head and pressed the button to follow the other Damien.
"You killed off the old man, really?" Chakotay asked as soon as he materialised. His eyes widened. He wasn't talking to Damien.
"Commander. It is highly inappropriate to transport into somebody's quarters while they are dressing."
The resulting screams could be heard throughout the ship. Damien was just outside the Cargo Bay so it was deafening to him, he still smiled though.
"Maybe we should rescue him," a familiar Ocampan said to him with concern.
"Ohno, that's the threat I was talking about," Damien said. "Those two..." he pretended to shudder. "You have no idea what they get up to in the future. I'd get off this ship while you still can, there's nothing you can do here."
"But you're Damien, why do you care?" Kes asked suspiciously.
Meanwhile they could still hear voices in the Cargo Bay. "Well if you insist on watching, I shall continue," Annika's voice said. Once again all they could hear was screaming.
"Normally I wouldn't but he even tops what I do. I can't have him stealing the limelight you understand. People hate him more than me," Damien explained.
Kes gasped, "ohno. Perhaps I should warn the Captain, or..."
"You can't. That new drone will not hesitate to kill you, she's here to replace you, you know," Damien said, he started seriously but he was sniggering by the end of it.
"I don't trust you," Kes said.
"Fine don't, let Barbie Drone become a crazy homicidal maniac and Chuckles dig up dead bodies. I'll just have to step up my game to keep up," Damien said with a sneaky look in his eyes. "Just don't be surprised when Janeway, pre dig up obviously, starts complaining about those two hooking up in the series finale. She'll do worse time travel damage than I could ever do."
Kes shook her head, "you don't really expect me to believe this, do you? Chakotay would never date her, and he'd never do something so awful. The Captain would never alter the timeline in such a way. Also Seven turns into a lunatic, how stupid do you think I am?" She marched off, shaking her head. Damien smiled evilly.
Chakotay chose that moment to walk out of the Cargo Bay. His face was whiter than it was when he was a dead Tolg drone.
"Oh Chuckles, pop quiz for you. I hope it won't strain your tiny brain too much," Damien said in a sing song voice.
Chakotay answered with a gag, Damien pulled a face as he ended up with sick all over his shoes.
"Hmm, I know that feeling," he actually said with some sympathy. He shook it off immediately.
"She... she has nothing... nothing underneath that suit," Chakotay muttered.
"Fantastic," Damien shuddered. "Now what would happen to your little paradox daughter if I tricked Kes into thinking she should stay on Voyager."
"Nothing," Chakotay muttered. "Kes would leave anyway."
Damien stared blankly as he tried to figure it out, he was annoyed that he couldn't. "What?"
Chakotay rolled his eyes, grabbed him by the arm and pressed a few buttons on the tricorder. They disappeared, then reappeared in the exact same corridor. Damien looked at him like he had just tried to count to three by using a four, Chakotay then dragged him around the corner. Just then a nearby, already damaged wall seemed to mutate and then exploded.
Kathryn lead an exhausted Kes down the same corridor, Tuvok soon joined them. "I can't control it... I must leave," Kes stammered.
"She's not going to make it to the shuttle bay," Kathryn told Tuvok. He nodded, quickly mind melding with Kes.
"Well... I..." Damien stuttered. He pulled his arm from his grasp, "it's not my fault that I didn't know. This never happened in Season One."
"No, not much did," Chakotay muttered plainly.
Damien's eyes narrowed, "you're right." Chakotay groaned as he pressed his tricorder again. Chakotay easily followed him by taking his arm again.
"Who's threw up here, it bloody stinks," Kathryn muttered, staring at the mess on the floor in disgust.
They rematerialised in the Cargo Bay once again, Chakotay responded to this by throwing up one more time. Damien tried to get away while he was doing this but Chakotay kept a hold of him.
"She's not even here," Damien argued.
Chakotay begrudgingly wiped his face, directing a glare towards him. "The room triggers the memory, now... Stop and think about what you're doing here. None of us are getting anywhere with what we're trying to do."
"Then stop following me. It's not that hard," Damien grunted. "I'm doing you a favour. Imagine a Season One without Hunters, or more episodes with me in it."
"Swell," Chakotay said quietly.
"I can remove that claptrap excuse about Slayer boy being different because of a spell. I've already given Kes a leaving scene. I could make Season One make sense. Why fight me?"
"I can't believe that moron told me I'd have to help you," Chakotay grumbled. "You can't just go back to old episodes, change everything around, make characters do different things and expect it to still be the same in the future. You have to alter everything, and quite frankly I don't want to waste years rebooting the timeline when I could be wasting time in the present."
"It's better than having a sixth season instead," Damien commented.
"What?" Chakotay said.
Damien frowned, "what?"
Chakotay rolled his eyes, "don't be cute with me. Fourth wall jokes about the series were old before they were even done."
Damien smiled evilly, "that reminds me." He pressed a button on his tricorder.
"No!" Chakotay ended up yelling at an empty room. He groaned to himself, "if I only I knew when, how and where he was born. This would be such much easier then." He pressed the button that normally followed Damien.
"Yeah, you're dying at the end of Season One to make way for better female characters," Damien said when Chakotay reappeared. "I know what I'd do if somebody tried to replace me."
"That is not likely. I am clearly the most useful and interesting character in the series," Annika said. Chakotay tried to not to react the same way, his stomach and throat ached.
Damien scoffed, "no that's me, and they're even killing me off. Well trying to, I'll come back. That's a Season Two plot twist, keep it to yourself."
"I see, thank you for the advice Mr...?" Annika said.
"Um Smith," Damien improvised.
"Mr Smith," Annika nodded. She walked away.
Chakotay shook his head, "I thought you were changing things, not doing what I'm supposed to do."
"No. Telling her that her later delusions are true before she goes insane, it's obvious what will happen," Damien sneered.
"She'll go insane and try to kill the girls replacing her, get locked in a holodeck nut house, be not cured and end up being comic relief for three more seasons?" Chakotay said.
Damien stared at him, narrowing his eyes gradually. "What are you saying?"
"I'm saying that all you've done so far is keep the timeline exactly how it was," Chakotay laughed.
"Enough! My efforts have altered it," Damien snapped.
"Right. I've got no real reason to follow you around as you've done a great job so far. I meanwhile have been side tracked from what I planned to do. I'm sure it's of no interest to you, I really doubt re-doing the Tolg ship incursion will effect you in anyway," Chakotay smiled.
Damien smirked back, "even you are too goody two shoes to do that."
"To do what? Do the right thing?" Chakotay said. He closed his eyes, grimacing a little. "I won't let myself make that huge mistake again. My daughter and wife will live, you will still have to body swap with some schmuck, and I won't have to listen to everyone bitching at me for the rest of the trip. I imagine there will be other changes, but they'll likely be good ones."
"What? You can't save Janeway. That Frenit vampire killed her, you know, the strong one," Damien grumbled. "Don't waste your time. I know why it all went wrong on that Tolg ship. You can go back, fix it and she'll live again."
"Yes because you'll be more than happy to help me undo an event that benefits you," Chakotay said with a roll of his eyes.
"It wouldn't undo my return to my own body, will it?" Damien said.
Chakotay shook his head angrily, "I'm not really asking for your help. I just wanted you to know before I erase you from the timeline." Damien tried to stop him but Chakotay disappeared first.
"Damn it," he groaned.
He scanned the tricorder, unlike Chakotay he understood it enough to use it properly. A date and place appeared on the screen. "Co-ordinates set for temporal transport," it spoke. The date confused him, it wasn't what he expected.
"Oh Chuckie, if you think this will bring your daughter back and make you a good guy, you're stupider than I thought," Damien sighed. "Who cares though. Does this paradox affect me?" He quickly typed a few things in, his face went very pale. "I die? Haha no way that's happening." He pressed the button to time jump.
Chakotay found himself inside a dense forest. The only light was from the tricorder. In the distance he could hear a few men's voices, slowly approaching. His head turned to the source, then towards the nearest tree. He quickly hid behind it.
"I dunno Thompson, I'd much prefer to be in a group of three than be the guy picked off cos he's alone."
"I won't though, that will be Tom if you come back with me."
"Guys you can be gay for each other all you want when you get back. We need to help him."
Chakotay shook his head and sighed deeply. His thoughts were conflicted; he had gone back as far as possible to make sure he succeeded, but on the other hand it was so far back he had no way to really predict the consequences. The present he knew would be unrecognisable.
"This isn't about doing the right thing. You know that better than anyone," he remembered Maxwell saying.
Maxwell's explanations seemed to make sense, in a way, until this point. What did he mean by that, Chakotay thought. Is this what Maxwell wanted him to do in the first place? Is this the right thing to do? What would Kathryn think, how would she feel about this?
That final thought froze him on the spot. He remembered the time when he was at his worst and he thought, or imagined that he saw her. He wondered if that was really her or what was left of his conscience trying to stop him. He was too focused on these thoughts he missed Tom and the two Security officers Thompson and Foster walk passed him.
Kathryn would be devastated and this thought made him rethink his entire plan. Is there another way? Is there a way to do this without...
"I don't get it. Are you here to relive your glory days?" Damien's voice interrupted him.
Chakotay only moved his head to the right slightly. Damien stood behind him looking puzzled.
"How is coming back to your old love nest, before you even came here, going to bring your coffee missus back?" he asked.
"Frenit killed her to get revenge on James. I just thought..." Chakotay actually explained.
Damien looked a little shocked, it was out of character for him but nobody really saw it. "You've really gone to the dark side, Chuckie. Killing her brat to save her skin? I'm impressed."
"Don't... I wouldn't be the one to do it," Chakotay snapped.
"I never thought I'd ever say this but; I don't understand," Damien said with disgust in his voice. He shuddered violently. "I don't like it."
"I couldn't kill him even when he was normal," Chakotay quietly said. "Frenit would take care of that, I just..." He turned his head to the right. "If I stopped Tom from saving his life, then Frenit would win, he would have his revenge already."
Damien interrupted him again with a slow clap. "Nice job Chak. You almost singlehandedly did more damage than I could ever have imagined."
"What do you mean?" Chakotay muttered.
"You have no idea do you?" Damien shook his head. "You didn't just want to save Janeway, you wanted to make sure your daughter wouldn't give in when Ylara possesses her too. Congrats, that would have done it."
"It doesn't matter. I can't think of another way to stop Frenit without killing her annoying, self centered son. We should both return and see what Maxwell really wanted me to do," Chakotay said.
"Pot, kettle, black Chuckles," Damien sniggered. "Let me ask you one thing."
Chakotay rolled his eyes and finally turned around to face him. "You're not qualified to judge people on being self centered or annoying."
"That's basically what I said but..." Damien smirked, he shook his head. "What would really happen if James stayed dead? Hmm?"
"I'm not giving you tips," Chakotay muttered.
Damien scoffed, "good, because you obviously don't know but I do. Like I said, Janeway is saved but at what cost? How do you know something else doesn't kill her later? I imagine a ship's energy eating rift to a demon dimension would do the trick." Chakotay stared blankly at him. "That's just one thing, would you and your missus have survived on this planet to even get back to the doomed Voyager?"
"You're giving him way too much credit. I only decided not to do it so I wouldn't hurt Kathryn," Chakotay said.
Damien rolled his eyes, "it's not about credit. You kill him off and what happens to your daughter?"
"Nothing. Her body is not affected by changes in the timeline, Ylara would just cease to exist," Chakotay said, shaking his head.
"Wrong." Chakotay had enough of him at this point, his hand raised to strike him. He didn't even look concerned about it. "Lena's the one that ceases to exist." That stopped him in his tracks, forcing Damien to smile. "I thought you knew. She was only brought here to fix the Chosen line. Kill her brother and there's no reason for her to be here."
"You... you don't have a clue what you're talking about!" Chakotay snapped.
Damien put a finger by his own lips. "Shhh, keep that up and Frenit kills us instead, another big no no."
"The temporal implant protects her. Even if it didn't, what you're saying is baloney. The Q have admitted to being responsible for this, along with Kes. That idiot blond has nothing to do with this," Chakotay ranted at him.
Damien waved his hand in his own face like he was waving away Chakotay's argument. "True the temporal implant protects her from time travel alterations, but it doesn't cement her here. I don't know why I'm explaining this to you, you should know this."
"No, I don't know why either. You don't care about anyone but yourself. This is just some scheme to get me to do something you want," Chakotay growled.
"Like bringing your dead wife to the Tolg?" Damien teased him. Chakotay finished what he started, but Damien quickly backed away from his reach. "Oh wait, that was your idea, wasn't it? You really do come up with some corkers."
"I'm taking this from the guy who was so sick of Annika stalking him that he went back in time to make her insane," Chakotay rolled his eyes. "While we're at it; celebrity crewmembers, a clone of Riker that could only eat and be deeply stupid, the rabbit army, killing off Jessie and when she was back, killing her daughter so she'd turn evil on you. You're right, I make stupid plans."
Damien bit his lip and trembled with fury. "I stopped you from making a terrible mistake, and this is how you treat me?"
"No, I decided against it before you had even shown up. I really doubt that saving us from some paradox you made up was really your reason for following me here," Chakotay said.
"It's not made up. I followed you here because your idea would reset the paradox back to the beginning. I'll tell you what that means," Damien angrily explained. "Goodbye Lena, adios Voyager, and good riddance to your precious Earth and Federation." Chakotay frowned and shook his head, he didn't believe him. "Fine, go back and knock Tom out, or whatever you were going to do. Heck just for laughs, go back to when Janeway did James's father and shoot the guy in the head before they even meet. You'll see how right I am. Oh wait, you won't, because you'll be a part of floating debris in the outer edges of Borg Space."
"Lets say that what you're telling me is true. How do you know this?" Chakotay asked.
"My god, I travelled through alternate dimensions to search for people to crew my own Voyager, or haven't you forgotten?" Damien groaned.
"Of course I have. A lot of the cast have tried to forget Season One, that's why nobody acts like that in the other seasons," Chakotay said. "Before you say it, Season Two; it's dependant on the episode."
Damien shook his head furiously. He was smirking again though. "More excuses disguised as jokes, fine. Let me explain as simpleton as I can."
"That should be easy for you," Chakotay commented.
"Hilarious and original," Damien pretended to laugh. "James doesn't die. You and Mrs Chuckie visit your little monkey and vampire haven for two months. Sappy crap happens. A few years later Lena is born." Chakotay opened his mouth to interrupt, Damien raised his hand. "Shush! More years later those idiot Q's impregnate her. They see a perfect opportunity to fix the Chosen line which croaked it earlier on. You can't have two Chosen's with a generational age gap between them, can you?"
"This is just a theory from what you've heard, it's rubbish!" Chakotay managed to interrupt
"I'm not done. Things go a bit hokey, the Borg get involved. They manage to send her back to that time when the Chosen's drop dead, but she still gets Borg-ified. It doesn't matter; she's in the right place and the right time for a memory wipe for everyone involved. A year later, Kiara appears. Some more later Lena arrives thinking she's her, all Chosen and other bull crap. Cycle is complete."
"So what's stopping Lena's birth if he did die?" Chakotay questioned smugly. "In fact no, I don't care cos..." He leaned forward to snatch Damien's tricorder. Before he had time to react, a fist flew into his face, knocking him back into a tree.
"This, is what I think of your ridiculous tale." The tricorder fell to the ground, his foot immediately stomped on it, smashing it to pieces. Damien's eyes widened in horror. "The only paradox here will be you showing up in the vampire's evening meal tonight, good riddance." Chakotay pressed a button on his own, transporting instantly.
Damien used the tree he fell against to climb back up, his hand rubbed his sore cheek. "It's true," he pouted.
Chakotay appeared in a ship's corridor, he frowned immediately. His attention went to the tricorder.
"February 2382, USS Leda."
"Okay," Chakotay said, glancing at the nearby door. "Well I was close."
Suddenly the tricorder was snatched out of his hands. "Yoink!" Damien's voice giggled.
Chakotay groaned as he disappeared in the same green transporter beam. "So that's how Damien got his own device."
"I knew you'd figure it out," Maxwell's voice said from behind him.
"God," Chakotay grumbled quietly before turning around. "Look, I'm sorry I stole it. As usual I thought I could do better and..."
"It's alright," Maxwell smiled.
"Is it? I've basically just sent Damien loose in the past. I also considered erasing the last ten years of Voyager's history," Chakotay said.
Maxwell stepped forward. "I know. Did you forget the advice I gave you?"
"Um yeah, I hope you have another one of those things. What was it you wanted me to do?" Chakotay questioned sincerely.
"You've done it, that's my point," Maxwell answered.
Chakotay looked very confused, "technically only Damien kept the timeline as it was, until I left him on New Earth. I don't..." Maxwell shook his head.
"I know, but believe me, that's for the best. If I gave you the information, you will handle it differently. You see in my perspective, and technically yours, what you do has already been done. I'll be sending you back to a certain point, what you do there will result in the timeline you're used to. I cannot influence you anymore than what I've already done."
"You knew I would steal the device and follow Damien's attempt to change the timeline, which only happened 'cos I changed my mind and returned here?" Chakotay said.
Maxwell nodded. "Exactly."
"Time travel," Chakotay shook his head. "So I suppose saving Kathryn from Damien's assassination attempts, manipulating Kes and Annika... Forgive me if I say that this is a ridiculous thing to believe. Firstly Kathryn wouldn't have needed saving if I hadn't have let Damien steal the device."
"Oh she would have," Maxwell said.
Chakotay groaned loudly into his hand, he shook his head and looked back at him. "What?"
"Think about it. Deep down you have good instincts, Commander Chakotay. You just have to tame your warrior heart all over again, be patient," Maxwell smiled.
"Ugh god, and I thought the last episode was a sick fest," Damien groaned.
Chakotay closed his eyes and silently preyed to his animal spirit. "No, why?" He turned around briefly to see Damien standing behind him.
"Can't have him running around in 2372 with ten years of future memories, can we?" Maxwell answered cheekily. "He fulfilled his purpose too."
"Hey, I'm nobody's tool," Damien complained, glancing at Chakotay intently. He rolled his eyes.
"No of course not," Maxwell said. "I wish you both well."
"That's easy for you to say, you know how the rest of my life will be," Chakotay said.
"Maybe. Maybe not. Goodbye and thank you," Maxwell said before he disappeared.
Damien huffed loudly, "you really are a SOB, you know that."
Chakotay smirked at him, "oh?"
"You weren't going to alter 2372, you just wanted to leave me on that planet at that time," Damien muttered.
"If you want to believe that, be my guest," Chakotay said. "What happened anyway?"
"Oh I told Frenit that his so called nemesis wasn't dead and killing his mum would teach him," Damien said. Chakotay didn't react, he didn't believe him for a second. Damien sighed as he noticed that right away. "I mean, wouldn't you like to know?" He quickly dashed off.
"I really would," Chakotay said to himself. With a smile he re-entered his quarters.
She had never seen a man like this before. He was covered in a strange cloth, its colour was also odd. A tiny piece of gold seemed to be attached to the cloth around his chest. His skin was much lighter than what she was used to seeing, and she had seen lots of different people in these recent years. He stood right out.
He also had a strange way of speaking, she could only just make out his words.
"I am sorry. Who did you say you are again?"
"That doesn't matter. You're in danger."
She didn't think for a second that he was wrong, but she was starting to assume he was the real reason for it.
The man sighed as if he sensed her discomfort. "There are men who are after your daughter and son. I overheard them talking about it. They'll use you to get to them."
His words chilled her to the bone. He knows. Nobody but her knows. This didn't change her mind about him though. He could still be one of them.
"Would I be standing here in the sun... that sun if I was the real threat?" he said like he read her mind. His hand pointed to the blaring sun over their heads.
That was an excellent point. How did he know though? Will she have to find another village to live in again? She had to protect her children.
"Please, you must listen to me."
"Oh I am listening. You say they will use me to get to my children," she said. The strange man nodded. "They will fail. I would do nothing to hurt them. They would have to kill me."
"They know that, that's what I'm talking about. You don't know what they're capable of."
"I do." She heard all the stories. Not all of them could be true though. "Even if they destroy my soul, my body could never harm them."
He was annoyed now, his fists were clenched. His strange pale skin turned red around his cheeks. "You know nothing. Once your soul is gone they can do whatever they want with your remains. Your children will be none of the wiser and they will die."
"I do not believe you."
"Well that's too bad, because I'm not going anywhere. I'll die if it meant stopping this from happening."
What an odd thing to say, she thought. He didn't seem like a noble person to her, he only seemed odd. "You are not a warrior?" He shook his head. "Why would you risk your life for people you do not know?"
"I'm not. I'm doing it for somebody else. Lucky for me it's the right thing to do."
"Oh come on!" Damien complained. "You already knew about this!"
On the other side of the forcefield Craig folded his arms and smiled.
"You know I'll only get out again," Damien muttered.
Craig shrugged, "I'll take what I can get." He walked out, leaving him alone with the other prisoners and the guard.
As he rejoined the corridor he spotted Ylara walking towards him in the direction he wanted to go. He decided that going in the opposite direction would shorten his time with her, so he did just that. It didn't work as he planned as she went out of her way to stop in front of him.
"I was trying to avoid you, not talk to you," he groaned.
"I know," Ylara said. "I was looking for James but you'll do."
Craig couldn't help but roll his eyes, "I'll do?"
Meanwhile the Brig doors opened again. Damien's head popped out to see if the coast was clear, he saw he was in Ylara's field of view and disappeared again.
"I need to talk to you about Kiara," she said.
Craig shook his head before continuing on his way. Ylara didn't stop him but she followed instead. He grew even more impatient with every step.
"Somebody needs to talk to her. I have no idea how to deal with this situation," Ylara explained. Craig knew exactly what to say but she quickly over took him and stopped them both again. "You've known for a while that I didn't intentionally kill Lena or ever plan to. Don't say that I deserve it, it's getting old."
"What has she said exactly?" Craig asked.
"Many things, it seems like she worked it all out. Wouldn't it be better if somebody talked to her about it before she gets her powers back?" Ylara replied.
Craig nodded, he sighed deeply. "You're right. We wouldn't want her making you disappear or anything, now would we?" He rolled his eyes and walked away from her.
Ylara stayed where she was, clenching her jaw. She spotted Damien trying to sneak out of the Brig again, he spotted her and this time ran off in the opposite direction. Her head shook slowly.
He must have been staring at the ceiling for hours, it definitely felt that way. This happened every night now. Craig would rest his head on the pillow and the days events would make him question everything. Right now he was thinking that he should have listened to Ylara, not for her sake but for Kiara's sake. Then he questioned that exact thought. It was his fault that Ylara was even confronted in the first place, his fault that Kiara knew so much.
Craig knew he was wrong to ignore Ylara as soon as he did it. Being rude to her came naturally to him, he never hated anyone more and it ate him up inside. It was her evil side that destroyed his life, but it was her good one that brought her onto the fleet so he'd see her all the time. Seeing her wear Lena's face every day, and act the way she did made getting over her impossible. Craig hated the part of him that liked the idea of Kiara using her powers against her. Why shouldn't she attack the woman who took away her mother, she deserves it. He fought that side of himself everyday, and usually lost. The bitterness was stronger than him, and he resented himself for that.
Why am I so weak? Why, even now, am I not strong enough?
Once again he realised his thoughts were keeping him awake. His eyelids felt heavy, they were telling his brain to cut it out and let him sleep. As he rolled onto his side he caught a quick glimpse of the time on the panel by his bed. 0324. His final thought was that he was right, he had been staring at the ceiling for hours.
A red light flashed in his eyes, the klaxon screeched into his ear drum. Putting these two things together brought him back into the waking world. As he sat up he caught a glimpse of the clock again, but he didn't really read it. There was obviously an emergency so he went to grab the clothes he left in a messy pile on the chair. In his rush he ran out of his quarters without his boots. It didn't take him long to realise, so he ran back to pick them up.
Only then he noticed something odd. 0324. The time was familiar, why? It wasn't important, he quickly hopped around on one leg to put his boot on and did the same with the other. He ran for the door. When he left, a group of three crewmembers ran passed his quarters, shoving him back a little as they did. One of them looked back, apologetic but in a hurry.
Craig thought he should contact the Bridge, find out what was going on. He realised right away that his commbadge was probably still in his quarters. I'm not going back again. He ran down the corridor to the turbolift. When it opened he saw a familiar face, but something was off about it.
"Ylara, what's going..." he thought he'd ask. Well try to at least. It happened so fast, he didn't see it. The pain in his face was excruciating, his vision was blurred. He could feel the blood pouring out of him. Once again he was staring at the ceiling.
Suddenly he saw a wavy, blurred hand open out in front of him. His own was weak as he tried to grab it. He felt a twinge in his arm as he was lifted up off the ground. He wasn't entirely sure if he had helped with that, everything still felt very fuzzy.
The face in front of him was not familiar. He seemed a lot friendlier than the last face he saw. His eyes weren't... Black. That's what was so off about it. Ylara with black eyes was definitely worth the Red Alert he was woken up by.
"I apologise," the face in front of him said. "I had to show you but I guess I had to cheat a little. Can't have you dying on us, can we?"
What? What was this man talking about? Craig wondered if he was dreaming all of this.
It was blurry but he could just make out a few flashing lights right next to his face. The pain in his face faded away into nothing, he felt a little more focused. The unfamiliar man smiled at him.
"What's going on?" Craig had many questions, but that one covered them all.
The man pointed to something behind him. Craig looked around. Ylara was still standing there, with her fist raised. He was about to duck when he realised that she seemed to be frozen in that position. The black eyes gave him chills even while she was like this.
"I thought... I thought she'd be immune to magic or something," he stuttered.
"It's not magic," the man said. Craig looked back to him, he noticed the man had a different uniform to any he had seen. "I'll explain. This isn't real, not in your perception anyway." That created more questions than answered them. "I had to show you this as it's simpler than telling you. I need your help."
"Me? What could you possibly need from me, and seriously, what?" Craig muttered.
"My name is Maxwell Evans, I'm the Commander of a Time Management vessel. We fix ruptures in time. I need you to help me with one," the man explained. "This is the result of you refusing to."
"Oh so no pressure then," Craig shook his head. "I didn't cure Ylara's evilness. In fact I don't know what did. Why me?"
Maxwell stayed silent for a few seconds, almost like he was trying to think of a way to answer him correctly. "In your present as you remember it, what you are going to do has already been done in the past. Nobody else can do it."
"Okay," Craig groaned as he rubbed his forehead. "What do I do then?"
"I can't tell you that," Maxwell replied.
"I have to do something, only I can but you won't tell me what it is. I'm sensing a flaw," Craig said.
Maxwell smiled in an almost smug manner. "Do not worry, I've had to explain this many times. It is hard to accept and understand in the beginning, but once you've done it..."
"I'm not going to do anything until you explain this to me," Craig butt in.
"I am allowed to give you some details, not all of it. We can't tell you everything as it'll effect whatever you do. I am confident though that when I tell you what I can, you will help me," Maxwell said.
"Oh, and why is that?" Craig wasn't convinced.
"Because, it concerns the woman you love," Maxwell said in a dubious voice.
Maxwell stared at him for a while, waiting for his answer. Ylara still stood there with her fist in the air, frozen in time. The red alert lights had frozen on the flash, nobody rushed passed them in a panic. Craig had his arms folded, deep in thought.
Eventually he looked back up towards Maxwell. "Do I really have to do this?"
"I'm afraid so. An Evil Slayer who has killed so many that their humanity has all but gone, is a dangerous thing, especially on a fleet of ships. No escape, no mercy," Maxwell replied.
"But maybe James, Zare, I assume Kevin's still alive since she was always like this, could..." Craig stuttered. Maxwell shook his head. "I may give James crap sometimes, but he has a habit of doing the impossible. He's not the only one I know but with an Evil Slayer..."
"Craig, this isn't the same. The Evil you have seen were still grieving, angry but sad. They were reachable. What the Leda and Voyager face now is a merciless killer. You would have better luck negotiating with a virus. There is no good in this present. Only death," Maxwell explained.
Craig looked down at the ground. "You're asking a lot of me, and I still don't know what exactly it is."
Maxwell nodded, "I know. Out of the three your task is lot less rewarding." Craig didn't care about a reward, he just didn't want this hanging over his head. He had enough of a burden on his shoulders. "That is why I showed you this. You're a good man, a one in pain but that doesn't change who you are. Sometimes doing the wrong thing can lead to a greater good, it's harsh but it is worth remembering."
Craig turned to look at the frozen Ylara. He had faced Evil Slayers in the past, James more so than others, but something about her eyes seemed different. He assumed the eyes turning black was a warning to people that the person had no soul, nothing was left behind after they've made the first kill. Ylara's seemed darker, a lot more hollow. Maybe he had the right idea, only the eyes turning black was just the start of what was to come. Luckily he had not seen any further than that until today. Maxwell's warnings felt right, she was dangerous and there was no talking to her. Even James in his worst of moods would talk to you and wouldn't attack random people, this kind of evil was the real deal.
"What are we waiting for?" he finally answered. Maxwell smiled and nodded.
The sun was blinding, he could feel his skin already burning. Craig was fair skinned, he was an English weather boy through and through. A lot of people complained about it, but he secretly loved the mild, not extreme weather. Not too hot, rarely too cold. Here he would turn red in ten minutes. Maxwell had been kind enough to allow him to dress down before he came, but he was still very aware of his clothes. They stuck to him, it wasn't pleasant. Considering where he took him, he thought that maybe Maxwell should have given him a different outfit completely.
The people he had seen had stared after him, mostly with wide, frightened eyes. They were barely dressed, darker skinned, black hair, and here he was with the Starfleet tank top and black pants walking in the desert environment.
Maxwell had told him that he'd given him a lot more information than the other two. Whoever they were. It was only because he was going to somewhere unfamiliar, he said. But he had been here before, and the memory of it ached more than he'd like. Two years ago he had arrived in this same country, hoping he would help in the rescue of the girl he loved. Instead his heart was ripped out as the evil inside Ylara beat her soul out of her own body.
Craig walked alongside the river, following Maxwell's instruction to do so until he saw a settlement. It didn't take him long to find it, but he didn't want to cross paths with the people here. He felt so alien compared to them, and they probably felt the same way. A little further down he started to walk towards the settlement.
Maxwell had also gave him some visual aids printed on pieces of paper. He was a little grateful for that as the sunlight was so harsh and he was alien enough to the people nearby. He checked one of them, then looked back up at the settlement. One of the tiny buildings matched the picture, that was his target.
As he made his way across the sand he tried to think of what to say. Maxwell had warned him that his new universal translator, hidden away in his pocket, may not be accurate. There was no way to really know how this ancient language was meant to be spoken. That was all he needed, it was bad enough looking out of place but sounding out of it too? He worried that people wouldn't even understand him at all.
Fighting the worry, but still distracted by his thoughts, he went to press a door chime. Obviously there was none, there was barely a door. He felt like such a fool standing there with his finger hovering next to a wall. He quickly tapped the door with it instead.
A woman answered, as he expected her eyes widened for a second. She composed herself quicker than he expected. It was time to try the translator, he hoped for a miracle. "Hello, I'm Craig." He waited for a response, she didn't look confused so it was a start. "I'm a..." he hesitated a moment. "Friend, of Ylara."
After a lengthily talk the woman had invited him inside. He was reluctant but he wasn't confident that he'd convinced her of the danger she was in.
"I am sorry but Ylara never mentioned you," she said as she sat down.
"She wouldn't. I doubt she'd remember me," it was the best lie he could come up with.
"We have only been here a week. Those things chased us from our last home," the woman said. Craig tried to remember her name, it was a bit of a mouthful. Yefetiri, something like that. "We are safe during the day, how did you hear this?"
"It wasn't during the day. You must understand, these... what did you call them?"
"Vampyres. They will not change me. I understand the mythos behind it. While dying I must consent. I will not," Yefetiri said.
Craig had to convince her that there was a serious danger here. Maxwell told him that in Ancient Egypt there was a serious threat from the vampires. Ylara had done quite a bit of damage to them, so naturally they didn't just want her dead, they wanted her to suffer. Her brother, the second Chosen, had only just turned ten. He remembered somebody telling him that his death turned Ylara to her black eye state in the first place. If that didn't happen that would mean in a nut shell that her soul wouldn't inhabit Lena in the future.
"Sometimes doing the wrong thing can lead to a greater good, it's harsh but it is worth remembering."
It made him feel sick to his stomach. Everything about this was wrong, he knew it, but it was what must be done. He wasn't like Chakotay, he hadn't fell off the sane ladder. He still believed in doing the right thing, he was just bitter about it. Right now his good side was winning over the bitter. It had been so long, the timing was terrible.
"I really doubt that anyone would consent to becoming a vampyre, but we still have so many of them running around. Consent, probably not a problem for these things," he told her.
Yefetiri stared down at her hands as they entwined nervously. "You really believe they will come for me?"
"These things are monsters. They don't like to lose. They'll want to make Ylara suffer," Craig explained through a lump in his throat. This is wrong, he thought again. Like a stubborn hair that was out of place, he flicked it aside knowing full damn well it would be back.
"My son Rashlal, he's ten years old. He's so eager to help his sister," Yefetiri said, fighting back the tears. "He is too young, she was too young. What kind of god would force such responsibility on children. What have we done that is so terrible?"
"It's too much for two people to bear, I know. Once the sun comes down..."
Yefetiri threw her head towards him, "are you saying I should let him fight?"
"No, I was just going to say that they know that, and they'll go out of their way to make sure she is alone," Craig answered reluctantly. Yefetiri stared at him through glistening eyes, she understood, a part of Craig hoped that she wouldn't. The weight on his shoulders was getting heavier. "Ylara needs you and her brother, don't let these monsters win by letting them take you away."
Yefetiri nodded, "of course, you are correct. I will prepare for our departure." She wiped away the tears with her hand. "My boy is helping with the harvest, you will have no trouble noticing him. He insists on carrying the heavier equipment. Because he can, you know. Ylara has explained to him many times that he has to be discreet about it, but he's a ten year old boy. You understand?" Craig wondered why she was telling him this, while he thought that he figured it out. "Can you collect him? Ylara will be home soon, she is bringing water." Yeah, that's what he feared.
"He wouldn't come with me, would he?" he tried to get out of it.
"No, just tell him the sires will run. He will know what that means and he should come home on his own," Yefetiri said. She got up to start picking up the few items in the shelter. There was no arguing with her, he figured. He walked out as quickly as he could, he didn't look back at the damage he caused. He hoped that Lena would forgive him for this, no... he hoped he would.
The weight was now crushing him.
The sun was starting to set, but Craig was too conflicted to really be thankful about it. He had watched boys and men harvesting the crops by the river, looking out for a boy with super powers showing them off. At least that was the picture his mother had given him. Nobody really stood out, he had no idea who to talk to. It was frustrating, he was in a hurry. That was when he finally realised how little time he had left, the sun wasn't burning him as much, the sky had become hazy.
Perhaps he was looking for too much, he wondered. The boy didn't have to be carrying huge equipment or anything, he just had to be eager enough. His eyes scanned the fields one more time. Finally a boy stood out. He didn't look ten to him; he was tiny but he fit the image he was looking for. The boy was energetic and was constantly bounding off to give somebody, anybody a hand. After he was done he'd help someone else.
A man ruffled his hair, smiling down at him. He said something that made the boy pout. The man said something else and the boy looked up at the setting sun. He spoke too before running off in Craig's general direction. Maybe I don't have to interfere after all.
Something told him to approach anyway. The boy seemed to spot him walking his way. He expected him to run another way or something, but the boy actually walked faster to meet him.
"You are from that other place, aren't you?" the boy said with no fear in his eyes.
"Other place?" Craig wondered what he meant.
The boy scowled at him, "I know, the See-er told me to be secretive. You do not have to watch me."
Craig had more questions, but the boy seemed more than happy with his own explanation, so why ruin it by acting confused. "Your mother has a message for you."
The boy crossed his arms. "You talk funny, just like your friend."
"Yeah so do you," Craig muttered. "The sires will run. That's the message."
"Oh," the boy's face whitened and his cheerful facade was gone. "My sister, does she know?"
"No but..." Craig replied honestly, though reluctantly.
"What kind of See-er are you? Ylara should know first," the boy hissed at him. He shook his head and ran around behind him. Craig didn't waste any time, he chased after him.
"Where are you going, it's not safe!" he yelled after him.
The boy had the cheek to turn his head back and shush him. He continued running. He wasn't running in the direction of his home, panic started to set in. The boy was a lot faster than he expected for a boy his age and size, and Craig didn't really enjoy running that much. He was never really any good at it, if it wasn't for his long legs he'd probably be amongst those poor kids at school who'd still be running ten minutes after the race. He used that advantage to catch up and grab the boy's arm, thinking that would be enough to stop him.
He forgot. How could he?
The boy's arm slid out of his grip with no effort, Craig felt himself fall forward for a second. He wasn't going to give up, he needed to catch him and bring him home. A lot was at stake here, not that he could tell him that, the boy would definitely run away from him if he knew the real reason.
"Wait, don't you think you should protect your mother," he called after him. That should do it, surely. Sure enough the boy stopped suddenly, Craig had to stop quickly to avoid crashing into him. He turned to stare up at the strange man. "I'll tell her."
"Hmph, you've got guts, Mister?" the boy grunted.
"Craig," Craig told him. "Why do you say that?"
The boy smiled, his eyes appeared mischievous. "My sister would be so mad if she knew you were sending me to fight."
"I'm not. Your mother is waiting for you, we're running out of time," Craig explained, pointing towards the sky. The boy looked, his smile disappeared. "Ylara is probably back anyway, you need to get home before they do."
The boy nodded, he understood, he even looked sorry. He didn't say anything else, Craig lead him home as quick as he could. Maybe there's still time, he hoped. His eyes looked up at the sky, that hope was fading.
The sun was barely creeping over the horizon when they reached the shelter. The village was still well lit so Craig had no idea what went wrong. He looked around for any signs of clues. The boy was starting to panic.
"She would not leave without me," he said.
Craig only nodded. Yefetiri was packing things away when he left her. She hadn't got very far, the shelter still looked the same. The only difference was that the young woman was not there.
"It is still light. I..." the boy stuttered. Craig placed a hand on the boy's shoulder. "Mother."
"The vampires couldn't have taken her or anything. The sun's not down yet," he tried to reassure him. "It's not your fault." The boy nodded but Craig could tell he wasn't believing it. "We should find your sister."
The boy looked at him with surprise. "We?"
"I can't leave you here alone," Craig said. He shrugged, "I can fight, so don't worry. Once we find her..."
"Rashlal!" a girl's voice yelled from outside.
The boy's face lit up, "Ylara." He didn't wait, he ran straight out much to Craig's annoyance. He was about to rush after him when a thought occurred. She'll recognise me. Not right now obviously, but later. He couldn't leave the boy alone though, he carefully stepped outside.
"What are you doing?" the girl's voice said.
Craig looked to where the voice came from. The boy had ran into the arms of an older girl, not much older than sixteen. Long black hair tumbled over her shoulders, her eyes were a soft brown, they matched her soft features perfectly. So this is the real Ylara, she's not what I expected. She looked to him like she wouldn't harm a fly, or even say a bad word about anyone.
She hugged her brother tightly. "I came home and you were not there, mother too. I was worried."
"Sorry sister," the boy cried. "I wanted to help at the harvest and mother told me to come home and..."
The girl looked angry, she shook him but only lightly. "I told you to be back home before third quarter."
"I know, but..." the boy sniffed.
The girl stared at her brother, she wiped his tears away. "No, I am sorry. It is still light. Mother told you to come home?"
"Yes, she sent a man," the boy replied.
Craig felt like he was being watched. He slowly turned his head to the left. Sure enough he was right. A woman had quickly turned her back on him, and was walking alongside a wall. She looked over her shoulder, allowing him to see her face for a second. "Yefetiri." He quickly ran after her.
"Another See-er. We came home and mother was gone." The girl looked over to the shelter briefly, concern planted on her face.
"George said nothing about another See-er. Are you sure?" she said.
Craig followed Yefetiri's path alongside the wall, only then he realised something was horribly wrong. The wall was shading what light was left from the setting sun. Idiot. It should have occurred to him immediately. Her children are alone, scared that something has happened to her and she had just walked away from them. Craig's heart sank, he failed. He stopped following her and turned around immediately to go back where he came.
His heart was thumping so loud and fast, blood was draining from him as dread prickled at his skin. They were gone too.
I can't do anything right. Why did Maxwell choose him? He did everything wrong as usual. What a pathetic mess I am. He stamped his foot in anger.
"Mother?" the boy's voice called. Craig's head flew in the direction that came from. He still had a chance, he walked fast. Wait, did he say Mother? He didn't have to go far. Within the shade the boy ran towards his mother, her arms were outstretched to embrace him. His sister ran after him, grabbing his arm. She pulled him back with all her might.
"Don't!" she cried.
"Why?" The boy could only see his mother. Even at a distance Craig could see what Ylara was probably seeing. Yefetiri's eyes were hollow, there was no life in there. She had tried to hide it with her hair, but a brief movement revealed the scar on her neck.
"That isn't mother," Ylara stuttered.
Her brother pulled her forward. His strength was equal to hers but for now she had a size advantage. She picked him up and ran away as fast as she could. Yefetiri laughed coldly, she only followed by walking slowly.
Craig knew what he had to do. This was his mess, his fault, so he had to. She was new, she shouldn't be tough to beat. He stepped forward while his hand edged its way to his hip, what he didn't find there was a grim reminder. "No weapons."
A fiendish giggle emitted from right in front of him. He looked up, those hollow eyes were right in front of him, gazing into his own. Her smile was wide as she licked her top lip. Without a weapon he really didn't have a chance. He couldn't kill her. At the very least he could stall Ylara and her brother's escape. He stood his ground but the fear within him was desperately trying to win him over.
"Thanks for the warning, Mr Craig. You were just in time," she taunted him. Her eyes widened suddenly, she gasped. Craig frowned, what was that about? As if to answer his question her whole body faded into dust. Once it cleared he saw a man facing him, holding what he thought was a knife, but it was made of wood. Then he realised that this man looked like he didn't belong here either. "Wha... what?" he could only say out loud.
"Craig, huh? Interesting name," he said, suspicion in his voice. "I think you would be a lot better off if you forget this incident."
"You're, you're not from here," Craig said.
"Look who's talking," the man said with a smirk. "Excuse me, I have urgent matters to tend to. If I were you, I'd find a crowded place to stay for the night." With that, he ran off in the direction Ylara and her brother went.
Craig sighed as he sat down on the ground. His hands covered his face. "I knew I wasn't right for this. What have I done?"
"You haven't done anything," a familiar voice said.
Craig almost jumped out of his skin, his heart skipped a beat at least. He looked behind him and up to see Maxwell standing behind him. He sighed in half relief and annoyance before turning back the way he was facing before. "Let me guess. I have to start again."
"No," Maxwell replied. He brazenly sat beside him, Craig looked at him and then at his uniform with a raised eyebrow. "Oh don't worry, I pressed the pause button."
"You wouldn't be here, influencing me if I screwed up," Craig said.
Maxwell disagreed, he shook his head. "You're right in saying that I'm not supposed to influence your actions, that's not why I'm here."
"The mother's dead, please don't tell me that was what I was supposed to," Craig groaned. "Let me do it again or get someone else."
"You obviously still don't understand," Maxwell said in a soothing voice, he smiled warmly. "You will."
"Okay, so the mother being sired was supposed to happen?" Craig questioned. Maxwell made such a small nod he wondered if that was just an accident. "So I caused it." Maxwell did the same again, but this time his head went sideways. Craig climbed to his feet, groaning in anger. "This doesn't make any sense!"
"It shouldn't yet," Maxwell said.
"If I didn't screw up why are you here?" Craig snapped. "If my being here didn't change anything, why did you send me in the first place?"
Maxwell smiled. "It did something, that much I can say, but you didn't kill her. To answer your other question, I'm here to send you forward a bit."
Craig's eyes narrowed, he didn't understand. "Forward. Isn't that influencing?"
"You misunderstand. I'm not here to give you a reassuring push to keep going. I mean quite literally, forward." He showed him the tricorder he used to transport him here for emphasis.
"Oh," Craig muttered. He felt really stupid now. He was used to Maxwell being vague so maybe that was what threw him off. "So I did nothing, now I'm off to another point in the past to do more nothing?"
"Sometimes time travel doesn't require you to do something huge. Time travel is delicate, even a small thing can change things in more ways you can imagine," Maxwell said. He climbed to his feet. "I understand that you're conflicted, and this situation is overwhelming but you've got to stop doubting yourself. As I told the others everything you do here is what is supposed to happen. The pressure is only in your head. You know deep down what to do, follow your gut, it's right."
"Is it? It keeps telling me that what I'm doing is wrong," Craig said quietly.
"Hmm," was Maxwell's only response to that. "Do you remember what I told you before?"
"Vividly," Craig muttered.
"Keep it in mind for where, or rather when we are going," Maxwell said with a smile. Craig wished he would stop smiling at him like that. He may be used to this time travel rubbish but he wasn't. "Are you ready?"
"One question," Craig answered. Maxwell seemed to allow it as he didn't say anything. "Who was that man?"
Maxwell chuckled, "and here I was expecting a question I can't answer. I'm surprised."
"I'm getting used to the avoidy, time travel rules answers. I figured that this question wouldn't be such a headache," Craig said.
"In pre-warp civilisations a watcher is recruited from their own world, it's basically to ease the Slayers into the idea of other worlds and people. No use scaring them with an alien watcher. I'm hazy on the details of it but there's your answer anyway," Maxwell replied.
"The See-er," Craig mumbled. Maxwell nodded. "Wouldn't that watcher have to be recruited by a Human to ease them into the idea of other worlds and whatnot, and same to them?"
"Like I said, I'm hazy on that," Maxwell shrugged. "Now are you ready?"
Craig sighed, "he was English, I think. Wouldn't an Egyptian one be better?"
Maxwell smirked at him, shaking his head. "I'm a time traveller Craig, not a Game Cube/Slayer expert. It's back to being a secret or need to know basis in my time." Surely that was something he didn't need or should know. "Well?"
"Yeah, yeah, ready. When are we going?" Craig asked.
"Not far," Maxwell replied as he punched in the commands on the tricorder. The two disappeared in a green transporter beam.
They appeared in complete darkness. Neither of them could really see anything but the lights on the tricorder.
"Well somebody oughta have seen that," Craig commented.
He heard Maxwell laugh quietly, "nobody is here, I assure you."
"So what am I..." Craig began to ask.
Maxwell shushed him, he then spoke in a whisper. "Use what you know, what you feel. It'll come to you."
"Ohno, not more cryptic cra..." Craig grumbled. A green transporter beam interrupted him. "Crap," he sighed. He tried to look around but there was no light at all now. "Why did he tell me to hush?" he ended up whispering, just in case.
Right on cue a source of light appeared, faint enough to be in the distance. It appeared to be coming from a small ball of fire. It hovered along, got closer like it was walking. Craig got it, it was likely somebody carrying a torch. He didn't dare move, for all he knew he was hiding in between walls, and any false move would be painful. All he was certain of was directly ahead of him was safe, but that would mean getting closer to the owner of the flame.
The flame got closer until it was possible for Craig to see the definite proof that it was a torch. It swayed slightly, he could hear voices grunting. The flame fell to the ground. The voices got more and more violent. He carefully walked forward towards the fire. Black rolled in front of it, then back again. That stopped him for those few seconds. Quietly he continued.
A child's yelp got his attention, he stopped dead. The flame looked close enough to pick up now. His hand reached out around it, looking for the torch. Finally he found it, picked it up and hovered it around the direction he could hear the voices. All he could see was one large figure lying on the ground in front of him. The child's voice was grunting, while the other voice's laughter turned into a hiss.
Craig looked towards the fire in his hands, then back to the shadows. There was only one thing to do. Clutching the torch with both hands, he swung it flame first in the shadows direction. There was a scream, and Craig was thankful that it wasn't a child's. He recoiled the torch just in case that changed. The fire had spread, becoming a human shape. Whatever he got burned to ashes, the remaining flames fell to the floor.
"Hey!" the child's voice complained.
"What?" Craig muttered. He didn't expect that response.
"I got him, what did you do that for!" the child growled.
"I..." the torch was snatched out of Craig's hands, he wasn't strong enough to keep a hold of it. "I thought you were in trouble."
"I was not," the kid huffed. The torch was pushed close to his face he was worried he'd be next. "I know you. You were that man who warned me about mother."
Craig sighed as he backed away from the flame in his face, he was starting to sweat. "Yes, I'm sorry for what happened."
"Hmm. They were lucky that I was not home. They would not have touched her," the child's voice snarled. Craig felt a bit uneasy to say the least, the boy from before and the boy he was talking to now were different. They were obviously the same person but the difference was noticeable. He was angry, very angry.
"You can't blame yourself," he decided to say. The flame in his face, well almost, made him regret it.
"I do not. I blame you!" the kid snapped.
"Oh," Craig stuttered. That makes two of us, kid. "I just thought you would cos you didn't go home when you were supposed to. That's great that you don't, you're just a kid after all, you couldn't have stopped them."
"Were you not listening? I would have!" the boy shouted at him.
"Okay fine, so how is this my fault?" Craig dared to ask.
"I was going home, you stopped me," the boy answered with a growl. "You made me think my sister..."
Craig tried to wrap his head around what he was saying, and what Maxwell had told him earlier. If he was telling the truth, what would have happened if he had not given him his mother's message? He thought that he would have gone home, and most likely been caught up in the attack on his mother. He was only a kid, would he have stopped it? If so, why was Maxwell lying to him about causing her death? A horrible thought came to him. Was Ylara's brother meant to die with his mother, were they both sired to drive Ylara to the edge, turning her evil. No, that can't be it. Maxwell was all about preserving the timeline, if he had screwed it all up, he wouldn't have brought him here.
A rough shove brought him out of his head, it was a hard one at that. It almost winded him. "I bet you were behind it. You are on their side. You killed her, I should kill you."
Craig shook his head, "no, you don't understand. I was trying to help you. You have no idea what was at stake."
"You took my mother. I hate you!" the boy screamed at him.
Craig knew to back away a bit further, but he had no idea what his surroundings were. His gut was telling him that running would solve nothing anyway. He wasn't a coward, not anymore. This kid maybe an angry Slayer, but he was still just a sad kid who had lost his mum. "My god..." he stuttered.
"Craig, this isn't the same. The Evil you have seen were still grieving, angry but sad. They were reachable," he remembered Maxwell saying. Angry but sad.
Suddenly he was on the hard stone ground, his right knee was throbbing. He tried to get up but he felt a heavy foot press against his chest. The flame hovered over near his head. It drifted to the side, reflecting the light against the boy's familiar face. He stared at him with so much anger. The flames had given his face an eery orange, red glow.
"Sister will be so proud of me. She will see I am not weak. I will avenge mother," he said.
He should have saw this coming. The fact that he was a child shouldn't have made him forget, it should have made him realise it sooner. Evil Slayers are born from anger and blame, loss and grief. He tried to think that he was just jumping the gun, and the kid was only venting. The red glow across his face, lighting his eyes red made him re-think that idea. This boy was angry, he was blaming someone. His mother was taken, he didn't know how to grieve. A ten year old wasn't likely trained to deal with this. He knew what he was up against for sure.
Craig just didn't know what he had to do about it, other than survive at least.
The boy had knelt down, he assumed. His face was a lot closer. Now he could see for sure that the flame's light wasn't the cause of the red in the boy's eyes, it brightened them further so he could see it clearly.
"How would you like to die? Like the vampyre did, or slower?" he said in a creepy voice.
Craig closed his eyes tightly. There was one way out that he could see, but that would only save him. He didn't think it would help fix the timeline as he wouldn't have been here to be murdered by an Evil Slayer child in the first place. It was a start though.
"You're right. It was my fault."
The boy was taken aback for a second, he shook it off immediately. "I am hearing slower."
"I... wanted to get revenge on your sister. Ylara killed somebody I loved." The boy grabbed him by his hair, he inhaled through gritted teeth so he wouldn't give the evil the satisfaction of a complaint.
"So you killed somebody she loved, I see," the boy growled.
"I had the opportunity... I had the choice. Stop the woman who I hated, or help her to save other lives. I thought, I thought I could bring her back," Craig continued, his voice strained. He dared to look the boy in his red eyes. "It was only for a second. I can't bring her back. No matter what I do here, nothing will bring Lena back."
"Now you know how I feel," the boy growled. "And you did it to me."
Craig had to continue his story, despite what the boy was saying. He had to say it all outloud. "If it wasn't your sister, it would have been someone else." The boy frowned, he didn't understand but that didn't matter at this point. "I know that now, but I still can't fight the hate, the blame. How else will I get better? If I blamed myself, it would destroy me."
The boy looked at him, he backed away so he couldn't see what expression he had on his face. He seemed to have his attention at least. Whether that was a good thing or not, Craig didn't know yet.
"My mission was a mystery, I still don't know what it really is. All I do know is I felt I had a choice. Interfere in a stupid, pointless effort at..."
"Revenge," the boy cut in.
"Bringing the woman I love back by changing things. Or, I save the woman I hate, keeping everything as it was, saving lives," Craig continued. He waited for a response from the boy, he imagined he was confused. "It was only a moment. One tiny moment. Ridiculous. Lena would still die, just by someone elses hands," he repeated in a stutter. "Another Slayer. All I would do is set another bad Slayer loose in her body. Ylara, she..." He couldn't finish, it was too difficult.
"Ylara would not kill anyone. She is the nicest person there is," the boy almost growled. "You are making no sense."
"Would you?" Craig thought he'd ask.
The boy growled again, "only bad men who kill mothers."
"I didn't kill her," Craig said. "I thought I had to save her, I tried. I was wrong." He felt a fist hit his face, it made his head spin. He swore he heard his jaw crack. "I didn't cause her death. The vampires were always going to kill her. I don't know what I was supposed to do. All I did was slow you down." As he expected his face was hit again, he felt a small hand clutch his throat. "If you think that means I killed her then go ahead, kill me." The hand squeezed his throat. "You'll only kill yourself," he managed to croak out.
The hand moved away. "What do you mean?"
"Look at you. I'm not the vampire that killed your mother, you only think that I stopped you from saving her," Craig explained.
"I know that you did," the boy huffed.
"You don't. You're doing what I've been doing. Blaming someone else to hide from my own guilt," Craig said as he quickly sat back up. The boy let him, maybe he was getting somewhere.
"You think it was my fault?" the boy stuttered.
Craig reached up to check his sore throat, then his jaw. "No. I think you do. If I hadn't come along, would you have tried to kill every vampire you found?"
"Why not, it is my job," the boy spat.
"Not yet, you're just a kid," Craig said. The boy huffed, he must have kicked him lightly as he felt a sharp pain in his leg. "I blame your sister, give her a hard time because it's easier than blaming myself. I was a different man before that. I've mistaken it for being strong, but for a while I've been thinking that it's the opposite. Every night I think about it. It's not your sister's fault that Lena died, just as it isn't my fault that your mother died. We can't take it out on the real reason."
"Cos it's us?" the boy said, he sounded like he was about to burst into tears. He couldn't see it for himself though.
"No, it's not us. You'll probably never find the guy or girl who killed your mother, and I can't take it out on my reason because the reason went with her," Craig said, that lump in his throat was back. "Lena wasn't the only victim, but she was the only one who died. The reason is she wanted it. I can't ever blame her for that."
"Oh," the boy mumbled.
Craig noticed that during his sitting up he had rested against a wall. He didn't remember trying for it, the punches to his head must have did more damage than he thought. "You have to accept the truth, grieve. If you don't, you'll end up like the things you hate. What do you think your sister will think?"
"It's hard," the boy had definitely started to cry.
"I know. My mother died years ago, and I had no way of avenging her either. I realised that she'd want me to be happy," Craig said. "Your mother wouldn't be any different, would she?"
He could hear the boy crying, but he couldn't see him where he was. The torch burnt beside him, abandoned during the one sided fight. As if they were linked the flames flickered as the boy sobbed. Craig's shoulders fell, he felt awful for making the boy cry. He knew though that it was better than the alternative. Evil Slayers only stay evil if they let the anger completely consume them.
A familiar girl's voice echoed around them. "Rashlal!"
He didn't think the boy responded, he didn't call back to her at least. All he did was sob. Craig reached his hand out, hoping he would see it somehow. It felt like an eternity before a hand clutched his back, tightly. The girl's voice yelled for him again and the boy let go. Craig felt something heavy against his chest, he wasn't sure what it was until he felt some arms wrap around him, the boy's cries were muffled against him. This whole thing took him by surprise. The boy hated him before, he wanted him dead. Craig could only think that he was a much stronger person than he was.
"Answer me, please!" the girl's voice was desperate.
Craig looked towards the torch, it was probably the only way he could get her attention without yelling back. With one hand embracing the boy back, the other reached for the torch to raise it in the air. He wafted it side to side. The girl's voice called out the boy's name again, it was a lot louder this time. Footsteps followed.
For the first time Craig was thankful for the darkness they were in. He handed the still sobbing boy to his big sister, she never had to see his face or hear his voice.
"Thank you," she said. Her voice almost broke, she was really thankful that her brother was alright. Footsteps faded away, so did the cries. Craig was alone.
Craig sat down on the small hill of sand, watching the almost black view ahead of him. He wasn't alone now.
"I hope you're not going to send me forward again," he said.
Maxwell stepped forward to sit down besides him, he looked at him with a sympathetic expression. Craig slowly turned to see it. "I am, but it's home."
"Which one is that? Is it the one where I'm decked by a killer Slayer?" he asked.
Maxwell sighed deeply. "I do apologise. What I had to ask of you was, tasking to say the least."
Craig scoffed, but he accepted the apology anyway with just a nod. "Like you said, nobody else could have done it."
"So you're sure that you've done it then?" Maxwell smiled at him.
"No," Craig replied honestly. He shook his head while looking down at the sand. "I don't understand how this all fits together, all I have are theories."
"They fit together, it is simpler than you believe," Maxwell said. "Try me. One of the theories may be right."
There was one particular part of the whole experience that stuck in his head. "The Slayer that possessed Lena, it was the boy instead wasn't it? Not Ylara." He didn't get an answer, he turned his head to Maxwell. He nodded grimly. "In that reality, alternate time whatever, we invited him onboard when he was still evil? Surely we'd notice."
Maxwell smiled, a laugh caught in his chest. "No. I did say I cheated with that one. The present you saw was not long after your ships started their mission to Death Corridor. Rashlal got onboard on his own. He had a mission to accomplish."
"Kill people?" Craig said, but he didn't believe it. "A planet full of people and... No, how come nobody got rid of him. Three Chosens and a few Naturals."
"It's a difficult thing to ask of someone isn't it?" Maxwell said cryptically. "Kill your sister, the one who stood by you when you were evil."
Craig frowned, maybe he should have said two. He wouldn't expect James to do it. "Sandi, Kevin."
"You're thinking too much about it. It no longer applies," Maxwell tried to reassure him.
"He killed them didn't he?" Craig was getting used to the way he answered questions now. Maxwell nodded to confirm he was right. "All of them. I bet I was no help at all. Pathetic to the end."
"Do you always do this?" Maxwell asked him. "You talked a Slayer out of turning, saving many others in the future. That's including the one you care about." Craig's eyes widened, he wasn't sure what to say to the last part. "Nobody should blame you for hating the girl who inhabits her body now, you shouldn't. However I believe you knew that it could be worse even before this. Am I wrong?"
Craig shook his head lightly. "Her mother was sired, her brother died later on." He closed his eyes, he stupidly forgotten about that. "I stopped him from turning evil, but that means he'll die in front of her later." Maxwell didn't say anything, he didn't have to. "It was the way it had to be, she had to turn evil so Lena wouldn't be used to murder people. She, he would have to be stopped. She'd be gone forever."
Maxwell nodded, smiling a little in approval. "Yes. I can tell you now that this is over. Only one Slayer remained, Rashlal spared that one for a particular reason. It became his undoing. However the consequences of that difficult decision proved costly too."
"I think I know which one you mean," Craig muttered.
"I'm sure you do. If Rashlal was going to die, he was going to die by only one person's hands. He made sure he got what he wanted, he made sure that, that particular Slayer would have no choice," Maxwell said.
Craig cringed, he shook his head furiously. "I get it okay. Rashlal goes on a killing spree in Lena's body, probably tries to kill that Slayer's family. He then kills Rashlal and goes down the deep end too. The circle of evil, yeah. He seemed like such a nice kid too."
Maxwell looked impressed, "was I that obvious or did I give too much away?"
"Bit of both," Craig replied.
Maxwell chuckled, "now you know what a huge impact you've made. That nothing you did with delaying Rashlal from witnessing his mother's murder, and just by talking to him saved so many lives. You might want to cut out the pathetic comments, hmm?"
Craig looked straight ahead again. He wanted to think like Maxwell did, but he just couldn't get there yet. For the first time in two years he had hope.
TO BE CONTINUED
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