Title: Another Time
Author: Joules Mer
Author's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author's URL: http://jmenterprise.popullus.net
Date: Posted to EntSTSlash 10/5/2004
Archive: Yes to EntSTCommunity. Everyone else please ask first.
Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise
Summary: The beginning of a new future.
Series: The Grandfather Paradox (6th in series)
Sequel to: Improbable
Spoilers: Zero Hour (major spoilers), general season 3.
Disclaimer: Enterprise is the property of Paramount. Characters just borrowed
for fun. No profit was, or will be, made by this story.
"They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."
- Andy Warhol
Ukraine. I stare at the screen in dismay, wishing I could
change the readings through sheer force of will.
"Bloody hell." The muttered expletive by my left ear
causes my lips to twist into a wry smile despite the situation. Malcolm
shifts on his feet, something he usually does when he's anxious, and I turn to
"What do you think?"
He gives that funny half smirk of his. "I really hope
we can pick him up with the transporter because I don't fancy going down there."
I'm about to reply when we're interrupted by T'Pol coming out
of the ready room. Her voice cuts across the bridge as she addresses us, "Have
you located the captain's biosign?"
Malcolm visibly stiffens as T'Pol and Daniels approach us.
I'm glad he doesn't get like that around me anymore, not even when we're on duty.
"We've isolated the transponder signal." Malcolm hurries over to the tactical
station and starts calling up information, after a moment he looks up. "I
can't get a strong enough lock for a beam out. The biosign is just too weak
and there are too many people nearby. I can't separate the captain from
the others. We'll have to go down there with a homing beacon."
I don't like the sound of that. It was bad enough being
shot at when I was in a shuttlepod and I sure as hell didn't survive the expanse
just to die on Earth. "Can we get a visual of the Cap'n's location?"
Malcolm calls it up on the main viewer and magnifies until what looks like a group
of large tents is visible. It's clearly in Axis territory, about fifteen
kilometers from what appears to be a front line.
Just as the implications of the location are settling in Daniels
speaks up, "Anyone who goes down there should go undercover."
"Why?" Malcolm has his arms crossed over his chest and
his stance is defiant. He wants to go in there phase pistols blazing, and
I have to say I agree with him. "We don't want to preserve this timeline
so it doesn't matter if they see our technology."
"It might. I doubt the Agrios know we're here.
We don't want them to realize they haven't fully changed the timeline."
I suppose I can't argue with that, and neither can Malcolm.
He just nods resignedly. "Fine. I'll go."
Feeling things sliding out of my control I blurt out, "I'm
going too." Instead of arguing like I'd expected them to, Malcolm and T'Pol
just nod. I guess they'd been prepared for me to say that.
Malcolm leans over his console and waves a hand at the viewer.
"But what about any changes?"
"Changes?" I don't see where Malcolm is going with that.
"We know what it was like during the second world war, but
we don't know exactly what weapons and uniforms they're wearing now. It
would be rather foolish to assume nothing has changed."
T'Pol raises an eyebrow. "What do you suggest we do?"
"I think we should abduct someone."
My mouth drops open at his idea. "Are you serious?"
Malcolm gives me a pointed look and I don't know why I even bother to ask anymore.
He turns back to his station for a moment before continuing,
"I'm detecting a number of reasonably isolated biosigns some distance from the
captain's location. They're probably just patrols of some sort. I
should be able to lock onto one of them without too much trouble."
"Wa-" Malcolm stuns the man before he can get the word
out, much less raise his gun. He quickly holsters his phase pistol before
leaping onto the dais and snatching the rifle from the prone figure.
Phlox steps up and there's a hiss as he injects a hypospray
full of sedatives into the man's bloodstream. "He should be unconscious
for at least two hours."
Malcolm gives a curt nod and rolls our captive onto his back.
I stand uncomfortably back by the transporter controls as Malcolm starts to strip
the unconscious man, setting a pistol and knife off to the side as they're revealed.
At a motion from Malcolm one of the security officers goes and helps get the coat
and shirt off the man. When he's wearing nothing more than his underwear
a pair of crewmen set to work hauling him down to the brig. The boots, clothes,
and gear are rolled up into a bundle that Malcolm stuffs under his arm.
He catches me staring and shrugs. "It's not like there was a better way
to get ahold of it." I guess he's right.
It only takes the quartermaster an hour to whip up uniforms
for us. The only things we can't properly duplicate are the weapons.
The stocks of the rifle and pistol, along with the handle of the knife, are actually
made of wood. That isn't something we have handy on a starship. As
a compromise, I've got the rifle slung over my back and Malcolm has the pistol
and knife. He's also got a scanner hidden in some sort of metal cover he
says looks like a "cigarette case." Malcolm catches me pulling at my jacket
and I shrug. "This uniform gives me the creeps." I can tell from the
way he nods that he feels the same way.
The transporter hums as it powers up and I can't help but screw
my eyes shut. I still don't trust the damn things. When the tingling
stops the first thing I'm aware of is a sudden shock of cold. It's winter.
Our breath forms white clouds and the frosty ground crackles and snaps under our
feet. Malcolm's nose is already pink and he sniffs absently before consulting
the scanner. "That way." He carefully tucks the scanner into his pocket
and sets off at a brisk pace through the trees. Grimacing at the cold I
turn up my collar and jam my hands as deeply into my pockets as they'll go before
I've lost track of how long we've been walking when Malcolm
stops so suddenly I almost walk into him. "Do you see that?" He murmurs
so softly I can barely hear him. At first I don't know what the hell he's
talking about, but after looking very carefully in the direction he indicated
I see it. There's a shimmery patch, almost like a vague outline in the air.
Whatever it is it's near the ground and not five meters from us.
I lick my lips and whisper back as softly as I can, "Yes."
Malcolm draws the pistol he took from our prisoner and slowly
bends down to pick up a long stick. "Stay here." His tone brooks no
argument so I pull the rifle off my back and try to make it feel less awkward
in my hands. Malcolm slowly creeps up to the distortion and carefully prods
it with his stick. The wood stops about 30 centimeters from the ground
as it hits something solid. After a few good pokes Malcolm drops the stick
and reaches out with his hand. I hold my breath as he gently runs his hand
over the distortion, tracing a surprisingly large region in the air. Since
it doesn't seem like anything bad is going to happen I tiptoe over and crouch
next to him.
"What is it?"
Malcolm turns to me with a frown. "It's a body."
I actually rear up at that, I can't help it. "What?"
He ignores me and feels around for a moment before stating,
"It's a Suliban."
I sound like a padd with broken playback as I repeat myself.
He twists and looks up at me, squinting a little into the sun.
"The skin. I can feel the texture, it may be frozen but it's definitely
Suliban." I don't know how he can be so cool while poking at a dead body.
He suddenly starts waving his hand around on the far side of the distortion, peering
at it through the shimmer. "That's odd."
I force myself to crouch back down so that I'm shoulder to
shoulder with him. "What's odd?"
When he turns to me I notice he's got that funny pensive look
on his face that's so typically Malcolm. "It's not camouflage. Look,
you can see right through it. The whole body has been cloaked." A
quick inspection proves he's right. We can only see it because a thin layer
of ice has formed over the corpse.
"But what's a Suliban doing on Earth? Did Daniels say
anything to you about them?"
He looks just as perplexed as I feel when he shakes his head.
"They're not supposed to be here, much less be cloaked."
I can hear the question in his tone and offer, "If you intentionally
overloaded the cloaking generator of a cell ship you could cloak yourself.
Like with my arm." Looking around I notice an odd depression in the ground
a little ways away. On a hunch I get up and walk towards it until a jolt
of pain runs up my arms when I stub my fingers on something solid. Malcolm's
beside me in an instant and we run our hands over the cold metal that we can't
see. It doesn't take us long to realize that it's a cell ship, and if the
dents are anything to go by it's clearly seen better days. Despite a fair
bit of effort we can't figure out how to get inside, it's like the damn thing
is upside down.
Finally Malcolm makes a huffing noise and takes a step back.
"This isn't getting us anywhere."
I have to grit my teeth to keep from making some snappy remark
about stating the obvious. "Well, what do you think we should do?"
He ignores me as he pulls out the scanner, consults it, and
tucks it back into a pocket. "We've only got an hour or so of light left.
The captain's biosign is about three kilometres that way. I think we should
leave now and try to get there before dark so we can get a look at what we're
"But what about the Suliban?" He gives me that look.
That, "I think you're a complete moron right now, but I'll tolerate it because
you're my superior officer" look.
"It's not like he's going anywhere." I can't argue with
that so I just nod and keep my mouth shut as he turns and starts to lead the way
through the woods.
The light has diminished to a wintery twilight when we finally
reach the edge of a clearing. Despite the thick layer of ice and frost on
the ground Malcolm insists we slither on our stomachs when we get close enough
to be seen. We wind up jammed together under a bush, peering out through
the greenery with our binoculars. There are six large tents set up with
a number of trucks and other vehicles parked nearby. People, not all in
military uniform, are hurrying to and fro. "It's a field hospital."
"Huh?" I wince inwardly at my monosyllabic reply, but
Malcolm doesn't seem to notice. I think the cold is getting to both of us.
"Look, see that man in a white coat talking to a woman in a
blue dress? And look over there, that man has a bandage on his head."
I fiddle with my binoculars until I can see what he's talking
about, it's hard because they don't have the image stabilizers of our modern ones.
"Yeah, I see 'em."
He takes one last look before slithering back the way we came
and I follow him to the base of a large tree. It's gotten darker so that
I can't see his face very well, and I'm certain the temperature has dipped even
lower. I can barely keep my teeth from chattering and my nose feels like
it's being burned by the cold air. I press close to Malcolm, trying to get
out of the wind that has picked up. "What's the plan?" I squint and
see that his lips are pressed into a thin, blue line. "Or isn't there one?"
Malcolm gives a barking chuckle that's half shiver and burrows
into my side. "Why do we always wind up freezing our arses off in a near
Murphy's ghost picks that moment to show us that things could,
indeed, be worse and a flicker of lightening shoots through the sky before a sleety
snow starts to fall. "Just lucky I guess."
"Well we can't stay here, we'll freeze before morning."
Malcolm shifts and I can practically feel the tension radiating off him.
"I suppose just walking up and saying 'hi' is out of the question?"
"They'd probably decide we're deserters for not being on patrol.
Although, they are a hospital and people are bound to know they're here."
He shifts and I can feel him fumbling with something by his boot. Suddenly
he takes a firm hold of my wrist with his left hand and I see he's got his boot
knife in his right.
"Wha-" He raises the knife and before I can do anything
he slashes across his left shoulder and down the arm. "Malcolm!" He
gives a grunt of pain and drops the knife in favour of grabbing at the wound.
"What the hell are you doing? We've got to get you to a doctor." I
try to grab him so I can haul him to his feet, but he pushes me away.
"Just..wait..." There's a hitch of pain in his voice.
He's really hurt himself. "It can't look too fresh."
"What?" A bloodied patch is forming on his uniform at
an alarming rate and it's keeping me from thinking straight.
"Our story..." He's got his eyes screwed shut against
the pain. "We were on patrol when a man with a knife jumped out at us.
You shot him and then helped me walk here because it wasn't too far away."
There's another flash of lightening and I can see how violently he's shivering.
He could be going into shock. "Have you got that, Trip?"
I type furiously into the UT until it comes up with the German
for what I'll need to say. "I've got it, I've got it." I grab him
as best I can and haul upwards so that he's standing awkwardly against me.
"Not yet." Malcolm tries to twist away, but can't wrench
himself free. The sleet comes down even harder and stings my face as I wrap
an arm firmly around him. I feel so cold I don't know how it's not snowing.
"Now, Malcolm." Somehow I manage to manhandle him into
moving and curse my numb toes as we slip and stumble over the uneven ground.
It feels like the sleet is freezing where it lands and that makes the going all
that more difficult. We break into the clearing and I speed up our shuffling
gait. There's a shout as we're noticed and a figure in a white coat comes
dashing out into the storm and skids to a stop just in front of us, taking in
our bedraggled appearance and Malcolm's wound.
"What happened?" There's only a short pause before the
English translation squawks through the speaker hidden in my ear. I offer
a silent thanks to Hoshi for getting the UT programmed properly.
I stumble through the phonetic German as best I can, "A man
with a knife attacked us. He cut my friend before I shot him."
The doctor gives a curt nod and yells into the wind.
"This way." He leads the way into the nearest tent and I sit Malcolm down
on the only free cot. We work together to pull the wet clothing off his
upper body until he's naked from the waist up. The doctor grabs Malcolm's
feet and expertly flips them up onto the foot of the bed in a way that causes
Malcolm to twist and land with his head on the pillow. "Hold this over where
he's bleeding the most." After giving that instruction he turns and hurries
away. I take the thick bandage and press firmly down on Malcolm's shoulder.
With his eyes only half open he looks barely conscious. I offer a quick
prayer to nameless deities that it's just an act.
All at once he's back holding something carefully in his hand.
He adjusts a light and then bats my hands away and lifts off the bloody cloth.
I watch in horrified fascination as he pinches the edges of the wound together
with one hand and brandishes a needle and thread in the other. At the first
thrust of the needle Malcolm lets loose a hiss of pain and I have to suppress
the urge to take his hand. Although I feel slightly ill at the sight I can't
look away as the doctor carefully closes the wound with a neat row of stitches.
When he's done he pulls a length of bandage from his pocket and quickly winds
it over the area. That done he turns to me. "He'll be fine.
Someone will come by with some hot food for both of you. Try to get him
to eat some if he's able to. You can stay here tonight so long as you keep
out of the way." Someone at the far end of the tent calls out and he hurries
I sink onto a nearby folding chair in relief and only then
really start to process my surroundings. People are moaning and crying out,
the thick canvas walls of the tent are being buffeted by the wind and through
it all doctors and nurses hurry from bed to bed. I finally realize how cold
I am and wrap my arms tightly around my chest. Someone is making small whimpering
noises and I try to tune them out so I can think.
It takes me a minute to realize that the softly spoken word
is directed at me. I look up and find a young woman standing in front of
me. She's wearing an apron and a crisp white cap and I'm so tired it takes
me a second to realize she's a nurse. "Wie bitte?"
She smiles warmly, but fatigue is plain in her eyes.
"Food and blankets for you and your friend." I take the metal mugs she hands
to me and she sets two rough brown blankets down on Malcolm's legs.
The aroma of the soup makes my stomach rumble and I give her
the best smile I can manage. "Danke." She just nods and hurries away.
I carefully set the mugs on the ground and stand up. One blanket I set on
my chair for later, the other I start to unfold over the cot. "Malcolm?"
His eyes snap open and he looks around quickly before whispering
urgently, "Don't call me that."
I frown, I'm so tired I can't think straight. "What's
wrong with it?"
"Other than being," His voice is so soft I have to lean
in to hear as he hisses, "Scottish?"
Oops. Cursing my own stupidity I use spreading the blanket
over him as an excuse to lean in close. As I tuck it around his neck I murmur,
"What should I call you?"
"You can be Hans. I'll be Max, short for Maximilian."
I quickly duck down and retrieve the mugs before I can accidentally
knock them over. "Well, Max, looks like soup's for dinner." He gives
me a weak grin before struggling to sit up, wincing as the motion pulls at his
wound. I quickly transfer both mugs to one hand and help him up, sliding
onto the cot so he can lean back against me. As we sit and slurp our soup
I realize that Malcolm's body is a comforting weight against my side. In
fact, I find most things about Malcolm comforting these days. It's an idea
that has been growing on me for a while now, I just never realized how close we
had actually become until my little sobfest in his quarters. I want to put
my arm around him, but, as he'd no doubt tell me, this is neither the time nor
the place. Instead I settle for taking the empty mug from him and helping
him settle down before pulling the blanket back up. Once he looks comfortable
I retreat to my chair and wrap myself up in the other blanket.
After a moment Malcolm fidgets slightly on the bed wincing
a few times as his wound is jostled. I'm about to say something when he
shoots me a quelling glance. He fidgets some more before whispering very
softly, "Would you mind taking a look at this?"
I'm about to ask him what "this" is when I notice a corner
of the scanner peeking out from under his blanket. I quickly take it and
pull it under my blanket, dimming the screen as I turn it on so that no one will
see the light and get suspicious. Jon's biosign is registering only ten
meters away, he must be in the next tent. I turn it off and school my features
as I look up. There's a nurse checking on a man who's on the second cot
over. My UT is in my jacket pocket so I set it to broadcast German and hold
it up by my chin, carefully hidden from the other people by my hand. The
volume is turned up so I can whisper English into it and it will relay German
at a normal level. So long as no one looks closely at my lips they'll probably
think I'm talking while resting my chin on my hand. "Remember Yohann, who
lived next door to me?"
Malcolm raises an eyebrow, but plays along. "Ja."
His earpiece is working fine, but without a UT to talk into he's limited to the
German he actually knows. While Hoshi is a great teacher, there's only so
much a person can learn in a half hour crash course.
I shrug, but I don't think anyone is paying any attention to
us right now. "We should try to see him sometime. What do you think?"
I nod my agreement and settle down to wait, pulling my blanket
as snug as it will go.
I start awake when my shoulder is prodded, I can't even remember
feeling like I was going to drift off. Most of the lamps in the tent have
been extinguished and aside from some fitful sleepers it's mostly quiet.
"The night nurse has stepped out for some reason."
I throw off my blanket and rub the sleep out of my eyes.
"Can you walk?"
Malcolm gives me a wry smile. "I did choose my left shoulder
for a particular reason." He carefully sits up and rolls off the cot with
a hiss of pain. "In this case it's the most useless part of me."
I find his discarded jacket and help him slip it on, whispering
in his ear as I do so, "What should I say if they catch us?"
Malcolm's lip curls. "Tell them I refuse to piss in a
We creep out of our tent and hurry over to the next one.
By the time we step inside we're shivering all over again. I stop dead when
I see the nurse sitting just inside the door. Malcolm keeps going and gives
a firm tug on my hand to pull me along. I feel weak with relief when I realize
what he's already seen: she's fast asleep.
Running on fumes of adrenaline we creep between the rows of
cots until we find one with a familiar figure on it. The cap'n is out cold
with a bandage on his head and thick restraints holding him to the bed.
Malcolm signals for me to undo the restraints and makes for the head of the bed.
He uses his right hand to firmly cover Jon's mouth while he prods him awake.
Two pokes to his chest and Jon's flinching away from the contact as his eyes flutter
open. He has a definite moment of panic before he realizes who's holding
him down. Just as I get the last cuff unbuckled I'm aware of the soft murmur
of approaching voices. One look at Malcolm's wide eyes tells me he's heard
them too. In a near panic he grabs the cap'n and roughly pulls him off the
cot. Jon gives a soft, startled squawk at the sudden motion which Malcolm
ignores as he grabs my arm and yanks me down as well. The three of us are
awkwardly hidden by the bed as I fumble in my jacket until I find the homing beacon
and activate it. The voices get louder and I hear footfalls as people actually
enter our tent. Just as I hear a startled exclamation the drab canvas fades
out and is replaced by a brightly lit corridor. We've made it.
My heart is pounding so hard it feels like it could batter
its way clear out of my chest. I turn and see Jon looking from Malcolm's
pale face to me. "Trip? Malcolm?" A wave of relief and fatigue
rolls over me and I just collapse backwards with a silly grin on my face.
"I never, ever, wanna do that again, Cap'n."
Malcolm chuckles at that and sinks down onto the transporter
pad as well. The temperature controlled air on Enterprise feels unnaturally
warm and it's a welcome relief from the cold on Earth.
I think I can hear Malcolm's smirk when he replies, "It's a
long story, Captain."
Any further questions are forestalled by Phlox appearing with
a pair of assistants. He immediately starts fussing over us as the med techs
unfold a gurney. I eye the contraption in distaste and quickly sit up.
"I can walk."
Malcolm's quick to jump on the bandwagon. "So can I."
Phlox is unsurprised by our declarations and merely turns to
Jon. "Very well then. Captain, if you'll sit up the crewmen will help
you onto the gurney."
"Captain." The doc fixes his patient with a pointed look
and, grumbling, Jon obeys. When he's settled Malcolm and I haul ourselves
to our feet and wobble as the fatigue hits us full force. I put my arm around
Malcolm as we stumble after the gurney carrying the Captain to sickbay, and he
doesn't try to shrug it off.