Portrait of the geek as a young man: Author Robert Gillis hard at work writing, 1985.
Portrait of the geek as a young man: Author Robert Gillis hard at work writing a story on his trusty TI-99 4/a computer, 1985.

By Robert Gillis
Written 1987-1988

Historians note:

Back in the 1980s my friends and I (especially David, JB and I) liked to write stories featuring ourselves in science fiction / Star Trek type scenarios. This is one such adventure.

As we went our separate ways to college, writing these silly stories was one way for us to keep in touch and continue the madness. There are a billion in-jokes and “you had to be there” moments in this one but I’m not changing a thing — this is how we were.

Because with the exception of the talking dolphins and the rock star, every character in this story is based upon a high school friend. Some names have been changed so I don’t get yelled at.

This isn’t an OP/Ed piece; I wrote it 20 years ago and love how it stands on its own. The situations and language may surprise you — Rated PG-13, OK?

The story is very typical of the type of nonsense we wrote back then. I worked a long time on this one, and I love it. We didn’t steal any space shuttles, but the characterizations are so dead on — and so exactly match my memory of who my friends were back then — that I’m sure someplace in a parallel universe this story has occurred. Either that or I’m off my meds again. In either case, enjoy.


PROLOGUE: PERSEPHONE

The giant world was originally one of ten orbiting a lone class G2V star.

Everywhere across the barren surface, the scene was one of total and complete destruction. The oceans had boiled away and thousands of miles of fertile land had been fused into a sterile sheet of glass. Firestorms still raged in some areas, but there was only soot and debris to push around. Above, the sky was lit by an eerie colorful glow — a nebula. It was all that remained of the solar system whose third planet had been called Earth.

A sole figure stood on a scorched hilltop overlooking a crater that was once the planetary capital. He was Aarnvrel William, a Cosmian time lord, and president pro tem of the Inter Dimensional League (IDL). The name he had been going by as of late was William Collins. At the moment, he was a long way from home.

Sighing, he kicked some charred rubble out of his path and sat down. Although immune to the environment, he shivered. It was hard for him to believe JB, Bob, John, David and all of his other Terran friends were gone forever. He had discounted their chances of survival immediately, as there had been no warning. In a blink, their future had been ripped away from them.

He raised an eyebrow.

“Future.”

In the next second, he was gone.

Deep in the center of the Milky Way galaxy yet totally outside the dimensions of time and space, a single cloud covered planet orbits twin blue stars. It is Maran, the new home world of the Cosmian race.

Rain unceasingly pounded the bay windows of the headquarters of the IDL. Waves crashed angrily against the nearby shore, and the sky was dark, filled with ominous gray clouds.

“You cannot ignore the facts!” Collins insisted, rapping his fist on the polished marble podium.

The sight before him was quite impressive. It was only for the gravest emergency that the entire council of the IDL met. As Collins looked around for support among the distinguished figures, he realized he was not going to find any. Many sympathized with him, but even his closest friends would not condone his request.

A blue haired woman met his steady gaze. “Aarnvrel, you lead us with strength and compassion. You have upheld our laws in your position for the past four hundred years. You — “

“Get to the point, Aimeema.”

“Aarnvrel, you have placed us in a very compromising position. It is our responsibility to preserve the cosmic parameters of reality. We have seen the consequences of changing what has already been. We cannot risk it.”

The room darkened and a hologram of John Bourke appeared. Collins began, “I have presented proof this man was a time traveler born on Earth in 20 — “

“Aarnvrel, our file on Bourke and his exploits fills two computer banks.”

“Three,” Collins amended. “Bourke’s very presence proves Earth was never destroyed. His world must survive into its 21st century, if for no other reason than he will be born and undertake his journey back to the point–“

Another elder interrupted, “You are the greatest mind among us, yet you babble like a child. Bourke was one of hundreds of time travelers on Earth. The era he journeyed from was merely one possible future.”

Collins spun. “No, Demimo. The future. Earth is destined to survive its nuclear age without destroying itself and unite in peace. In 2161, it will join with other worlds to form the United Federation of Planets. By the 23rd century — “

“Aarnvrel, your sense of duty is being blotted by your affection for the Terrans. Your plea for another chance for that solar system has not mentioned the Persephonians, except for the damage they have done. There were three billion dolphins on the tenth planet.”

Collins fell silent and gathered himself. “Demimo, the Terrans deserve the opportunity to choose their own destiny.”

“At the risk of further damage to the space time continuum? No. Please accept it.”

“Eight billion intelligent beings needlessly died.”

“Aarnvrel, our peaceful history speaks for us. We cherish life above all things. But to decide who is to live and die is not our choice to make!”

Another elder seized the moment. “Aarnvrel, any attempt by you to change what has passed must be deemed by us a criminal act.”

“Kirstieal!” Demimo protested.

“No, Demimo. He is right. I am not above our laws.” Collins gently stroked his beard. “Forgive me. I have grown quite fond of the humans, after living with them for so many years.”

The mood in the room visibly lightened. Collins cleared his throat. “My friends, I thank you for hearing me. Even one such as I occasionally needs to be reminded he cannot have everything — “

“Aarnvrel, you lie to us.”

Both of his hearts skipped a beat. Was his intention to defy their most sacred law that obvious? Keeping his fury in check, Collins locked eyes with his opponent. “Kirstieal, explain your accusation.”

“I know you well, Aarnvrel. You plan to time travel into the past and prevent the destruction of the Terran star region. As an act of good faith, I propose you voluntarily relinquish your powers for two weeks.”

 

=”font-family: verdana;”>Pandemonium broke out as Collins ran the computations in his mind. “…inversely proportional to the square of the distance as the curve approaches infinity in… Twelve days. If I do not attempt to change history now, it will become forever impossible to do so.”

“I have made a request, Kirstieal. Had I intended to defy the council I would not have asked permission to do so.” Mentally kicking himself for doing just that he continued, “You have my word I will not change was has already been.”

“That is good enough for me,” Demimo affirmed.

“And me,” Aimeema added.

“You do not speak for the entire assembly, Demimo!” Kirstieal exclaimed.

“I have given you my word,” Collins said firmly. “That will suffice.”

“No, Aarnvrel, it will not.”

“Kirstieal,” Demimo asked, “What do you want?”

“A vote, Demimo. Right now.”

One month earlier …

On a rattlesnake speedway in the Australian Outback, Crowded House’s “World where you live” was blasting on the Nakamichi stereo deck in John Matthews’ Mustang. The desert appealed to him for some odd reason, and the compulsion to come here could not be resisted after a while.

David had kindly provided a small portable freezer and a supply of his best Oreo cookie ice cream. JB modified the engines to run on pure nitrous oxide, and Bob donated a tape recorder for music and to dictate the story to. All he asked was exclusive rights to the book, “Abucs Scenario II.”

As John shuddered at that last thought, he slowed to 112mph and noticed a group of dolphins hovering by the side of the road. One was holding a sign, which read, “Persephone or bust.”

Curious, he pulled over and stepped out.

“Hi!” he greeted them in dolphinese.

“He speaks our language! It is he!”

Suddenly, they surrounded him. Each had a Ninja throwing cookie in its flipper.

John’s eyes popped open. “Ninja dolphins! What do you want?”

One of the dolphins hurled a Chips Ahoy at John. The intended target ducked just as the cookie MIRVed and detonated.

“Hey!”

“You are the one they call John Matthews?”

“It is as you say, not I.”

Another cookie went soaring past his left ear. A Lorna Dune exploded by his feet. Realizing he would have to use his powers to escape from this mess, John decided to play along. It was not worth accidentally vaporizing them all — yet.

“I am John Matthews, Humanti Valinor of the Third Circle, Tricommander, Praetor of the Terran star region and spurned lover of Demi Moore.”

One of the dolphins squealed with delight. “I am Glerpie, the leader of these dolphins. Valinor, explain negative entropism as defined in terms of protonic reversal. Specifically, the energy imbalance equation necessary to start a chain reaction powerful enough to turn Jupiter into a star.”

“Huh, what?” John asked.

“But Valinor, you are omniscient. You ask us why?”

Another dolphin by the name of T’Pooky said, “Remember Glerpie, his ways are mysterious. He is testing us.”

John nearly burst out laughing. This was too good to be true. They were making excuses for him. As they led him across the desert, he could see a spaceship in the distance. It was cigar shaped, resting on two long tubes, which John recognized as impulse/warp sleds. It was small; its diameter was about the length of a 747. Clearly, it couldn’t hold a crew of more than fifty.

“Oh, you must be the dolphins of Persephone. You are referring to your holy scripture, the Reppilf : “…And in his twenty second year John Matthews will tell us the secret of negative entropism so we can blow up Jupiter.”

Glerpie shrugged. “Poorly translated, but adequate. Will you tell us what we want to know?”

“No.”

Glerpie turned to another dolphin. “Jay Jay, can you read his thoughts?”

Jay Jay frowned. “His mind is much too powerful. Very advanced. He’s raised his mental shields.”

“We’ll have to distract him,” Glerpie replied. He turned to T’Pooky. “Initiate Operation Lovebunny.”

John watched three columns of pure green light shimmer and coalesce into the form of a human woman.

At that same moment, an exceptional young man named David McEntire smiled as he and his best friend, Robert Gillis, made their way to the South Shore Plaza Mall in Braintree while singing a stupendously off key version of “Badlands.”

The message from JB was brief: Bill Collins has returned to our time period. Need to meet. Urgent.

And so they found Bill’s Aires parked in the empty lot outside Sears. Beeping the horn, Bob pulled over to it.

David stepped out into the light rain and shook hands with Bill and JB. “Welcome back, Mr. Collins!”

“It’s good to be back. Hello, Bob!”

“Come back to keep an eye on JB, Bill?”

JB looked hurt. “Aw, c’mon Bob! When was the last time I did anything that would upset Bill?”

“Cape Cod,” Bob and David said simultaneously.

“Besides that.”

“Isn’t this a rather unusual location to meet?” David asked.

Bill leaned against his car. “It’s necessary our conversation not be overheard. Gentlemen, I need your help. The Earth is about to be destroyed.”

“It’s never dull with this group,” Bob muttered. “What’s JB done this time?”

Bill smiled. “Actually, this one isn’t his fault.” He took a deep breath. “I’m going to forgo the pleasantries and pictures of my trip. I need your help immediately.”

“You have it,” David replied.

“You’ll get far more than you bargained for, my friend. As your scientists have suspected for decades, there is indeed a giant tenth planet in this solar system responsible for the perturbations in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. Persephone, as it is called, was colonized twenty two centuries ago by a race of dolphins from a dying world orbiting Tau Ceti. They requested Persephone because at three parsecs your solar system was nearby and the spectral types of the stars are nearly identical. JB?”

“Bill and the rest of the IDL allowed this on the condition the dolphins made no contact with the developing culture on Earth. To ensure this, they activated a defense shield around Persephone, rendering it invisible.”

David folded his arms. “Fine so far. But dolphins?”

Bill nodded.

“Co evolution?”

Bill shrugged. “One of the big mysteries of the galaxy. Tau Ceti dolphins are indistinguishable from their Terran counterparts. Your dolphins even speak an offshoot of the language. The dolphins seemed content enough, but in 1902 they contacted the IDL, requesting that Jupiter be transformed into a star. As you know, Jupiter was supposed to be a star, but it didn’t have enough mass.” He stuffed his hands in his pockets. “We never even considered the request, due to the obvious danger to Earth. And it just wasn’t necessary for them to have a star anyway. Persephone, like Tau Ceti Nine, has an abundance of geothermal energy, and the dolphins have advanced enough technology to harness it.”

“I’ve visited their world,” JB added. “Wonderful place. The dolphins terraformed it into a Garden of Eden. They even simulate daylight by encircling their planet with satellites which burn magnesium.”

Bill whirled. “You went there after the I told you — “

JB ignored him. “Anyway, the dolphins continued bitching about Jupiter until the early 1980’s, and then broke communications. That’s all the IDL heard about it until August 1987.”

“Next month?” Bob asked.

Bill was pacing now. “By the time we realized what had happened, the dolphins had attempted it themselves. The core of the sun collapsed and exploded, obliterating the four inner planets. Jupiter blazed to brilliant starry life for all of three seconds before it too blew itself apart. The blast vaporized everything out to Pluto and devastated Persephone.”

“Everyone…” David whispered, “…on Earth would be killed.”

“And the dolphins, too. I’ve seen the aftermath, David. It’s your future, and I intend to prevent it.”

“Wait,” Bob said. “You want to change the future? Bill, isn’t that against your IDL laws?”

“If I do nothing, an obscene future takes place and this solar system becomes a debris filled nebula. If I act, I prevent eight billion sentient beings on two planets from dying.”

“At what cost to you?” Bob prompted.

Bill shrugged. “It isn’t important.”

David asked, “How does one turn Jupiter into a star?”

Bill replied, “There exists a body of super advanced physics known as negative entropism. The dolphins used — will use — a prototype stargate torpedo, designed to open a time warp in the core of the sun and create a gateway to Jupiter. Jupiter absorbs the mass it needs and becomes a star, theoretically.”

“It seems too extreme,” Bob commented. “Why not just move to another planet instead of blowing up Jupiter?”

Bill replied, “We’re talking about three billion dolphins, Bob. They’ve spent twenty two centuries building a civilization on Persephone. It’s not like they could just pack a few suitcases and move on.”

JB cleared his throat. “It was unlikely the dolphins stumbled on negative entropism themselves, as it’s simply too wide a jump on the technology scale. It turns out they made things easy for us. A spaceship from Persephone has been in Earth orbit for the past week.”

As if he was trying to see the ship, Bob looked up at the dark sky. “Why would they come here? From what you’ve told us, Persephone is generations ahead of Earth science.”

Bill touched his chest. “I’m here, of course. So are JB and John Matthews.”

Bob paled. “John? Why John?”

“As Praetor of the Terran — “

Bob cut him off with a worried look. “Don’t.”

“Don’t what?”

“Don’t tell me everything John ever claimed to be is true.”

“As you wish.”

Now David was pacing. “They’re up there as we speak and you aren’t doing anything? With your powers — “

“Some members of the council saw right through me when I agreed not to attempt to change the past. They convinced the others to remove my powers as an act of good faith. Had I protested, they would have known what I was about to do. I am now mortal.” He seemed lost in thought for a moment, then let out an uneasy laugh. “It’s a weird feeling. I’m used to being nearly omnipotent. I actually had to sleep last night.”

“Is it permanent?” David asked.

“No, only for two weeks, but I couldn’t wait. It’s too involved to explain, but the bottom line is I have to alter history now or it becomes impossible ever to do so.”

A shrill alarm sounded from inside Bill’s Aires. Jumping into the driver’s seat, Bill stared at the computer screen and mumbled something in his native Cosmian.

“The dolphins have landed.”

“Where?” Bob asked.

Bill stared at the screen. “Australia. Why there?”

David frowned. “Because John Matthews is there.”

She was beautiful. She was barefoot, wearing a clinging black dress, and her long dark hair fell loosely on her shoulders. Her delicious lips were slightly parted, and her brown eyes sparkled with desire.

John watched as Alyssa Marie, lead singer of the rock band “Sparkle” suddenly appeared in three columns of sparkling light.

“Alyssa? Alyssa Marie?” John was astonished. Already, his heartbeat had doubled.

“What the? Where am I?” Puzzled, she inspected the dolphins and spaceship, then spotted John.

“John! John Matthews!” She raced over and threw herself into his arms, knocking them both to the ground, and began to passionately kiss him.

“Well, this tosses the “she’s an illusion” theory out the window. Alyssa, how do you know me? I mean, I have your compact discs, but…

“We’re to be lovers. It’s destined!”

“Okay!” John happily replied. “Far be it for me to interfere with fate!”

“Hey, by the way, why am I here? A minute ago I was making the first video for our new album, and…”

“You’re in the Australian Outback, Alyssa. These dolphins are from an invisible planet in our solar system. They’ve kidnapped me because they want me to tell them the secret of negative entropism so they can construct a stargate torpedo and make Jupiter go nova.”

Alyssa shrugged. “Oh.” After a moment she added, “C’mon, honey. Let’s go make some noise.”

“Australia? What the frosted pop tarts is John doing there?” Bill demanded.

David sighed. “He wants to find himself.”

“Well, we have to get to him before the dolphins do. JB, telePORT Bob’s Chevy home to Dorchester.”

As he watched his Chevette shimmer away in a burst of sparkles Bob said, “Sure beats findin
g a parking spot.”

David opened the passenger side door of the remaining vehicle. “Bill, exactly what kind of car is this?”

Bill tabbed the console. “A 2007 Dodge Aires K. I restored it myself. Call me old fashioned, but I love the quaint design.”

“So this how you were able to time travel without your powers.”

“Right. It doesn’t have a great deal of range, but didn’t need much. I only journeyed back about a month.” He lightly pressed the controls and said, “Hypercharge flux engaged. Gravitational moorings cleared.” As he gently pushed a small lever forward, the wheels neatly retracted and the Aires began to rise into the sky.

“Dolphins,” Bob muttered. “It’s hard to imagine that something so playful could be evil.”

“They’re not evil,” Bill replied. “Just very misguided.”

“Glerpie, we have detected a 2007 Dodge Aires K at 70,000 feet on a direct heading for us.”

“A flying Dodge Aires? It is the President of the IDL. Ready the purple deathray, Jaffy.”

“What about the Valinor and female?”

“Leave them to their love play. Disable the Aires, but allow it to land safely. After all, we are not evil, just very misguided.”

“The Australian Outback,” JB said.

Bill nodded. “Excellent. Tactical has located the dolphin ship. John’s Mustang is parked a mile away from it.”

He tabbed communications and said, “Persephonian vessel: This is Aarnvrel William, the president pro tem of the Inter Dimensional League. You are trespassing on a restricted planet and are instructed to surrender immediately.”

Bob leaned forward. “Do you think they heard us?”

“Evasive!” Bill screamed. He wrenched the Aires from its previous position as an intense beam ionized the air.

“Purple deathray. Affirmative, they heard us. Computer, bring the defense screens up to full — “

A second blast hit the underside of the Aires. One of the video screens exploded near JB’s face, and the front control panel lit up like a Christmas tree as dozens of alarms went off simultaneously.

“No one panic!” Bill ordered. “Computer, full power to the defense screens now!”

David jumped forward to assist JB. “Bill, can we withstand impact with the shields?”

“We’ll never find out. The computer’s down!”

The Aires made a deathly screeching noise as it began its plunge to the ground.

David was not one to fall apart. “Bill, what can I do to help?”

“I need you up here. Get JB into the back seat. Bob, there’s a medikit under my chair. Grab it!”

As David succeeded in pulling JB into the seat, he thought to himself that this would be a terrible way to meet his maker.

Bill was shouting, “Bob, grab the green bulb and spray it directly into JB’s face! It will heal the burns and counteract the effects of the shock! David, we’re going to try to manually fire the braking jets and the inertia dampers. Break the plastiglass and pull the two levers when I tell you to!”

Bill tabbed a string of commands and yelled, “Now!”

The inertia dampers and braking jets roared, causing the outer skin of the Aires to glow a bright red as they fought against the enormous pull of gravity. Finally, gravity won and slammed the Aires into the ground.

“Out! Out!” Already, Bill had kicked David’s door open and shoved him out of the burning vehicle. He salvaged his medikit and knapsack, then turned to help Bob. Together, they extricated JB and dragged him onto the sand.

The four took cover behind a sand dune just as the Aires exploded into a huge fireball.

“You told me you were invulnerable,” Alyssa cooed, nibbling on John’s ear. “You meant insatiable. John, the dolphins read your mind last night and found all about negative entropism.”

John laughed. “Impossible, my love.”

Alyssa pulled him closer to her. “I can’t be mad at them, John. They did bring us together. And I had an awesome time.”

“Me too. Let’s do it again every night for the rest of our lives. But for the moment, we’ve got big trouble. Those dipshits want to blow up Jupiter and make it a star for their planet. But when they do, it’ll kill all life on Earth.”

“I’ll have to cancel my tour, then?”

John nodded. “Will you help me?”

“Anything for you, lover. We’re destined.”

“…not evil, just very misguided.” were the words you used, Bill. That ray beam was very guided, and your Aires is so much molten slag.”

Bill knelt down and opened his book bag. “I won’t argue that, Bob. Obviously, the dolphins are quite capable of killing. I’ll make a note of that in my report to the IDL.”

“If we live.”

Bill wasn’t so sure they would. There was nothing but sand in every direction.

“You okay, JB?” he asked.

“I’m fine, Bill.” JB checked his appearance in a small mirror. “No burns. Just a little tan.”

Bill nodded. “You needed a little color, anyway. By my estimate we’re about forty miles away from the dolphins. I’d like you to PORT us all there now.”

“Uh — ” JB began.

“What uh?” Bill demanded.

JB stared at his wrist. “I lost my watch in the crash.” To Bob and David’s confused glances he added, “The watch is really a chronospacial module that lets me PORT.”

Bill rolled his eyes. “Great Caesar’s ghost! A hike in the desert sun is not my idea of…” He handed the knapsack to JB. “Here. See if you can rig something for a telePORT.”

“Excellent work, Jay Jay.”

“Thank you, Glerpie.” The dolphin produced a beautiful crystal. “Every equation I read from the Valinor’s mind has been stored inside this omegahedron. All we have to do is install it in the stargate torpedo.”

Glerpie nodded. “Then we’re ready to take it back to Persephone and analyze it. Have Jaffy prepare for launch. We are homeward bound.”

Bill passed a canteen filled with high vitamin complex to JB and asked, “How’s that coming?”

“Actually, not bad,” JB replied. He took a drink. “That Omni you had, combined with the Velorian — “

David waved his hand ti
redly. “JB, please. Will it PORT?”

“I think so.”

Bob frowned at the jury rigged appearance of JB’s creation. “Doesn’t look too safe. Is there any way to test it?”

“Only in actual use.”

Bill shrugged. “We haven’t a choice. Ready?”

JB said, “PORT!”

Instantly, they materialized three feet above John’s Mustang and fell with a loud clang on top of it.

Bill brushed himself off. “Better a couple of feet than a mile. C’mon.”

John and Alyssa raced into the Persephonian ship and found Glerpie playing Space Invaders in the “bridge” area.

The dolphin looked up. “Oh hello, human. Did you have a nice time last night?”

Alyssa licked her lips. “Time it goes so fast, when you’re having fun. But I have to ask you, when you blow up Jupiter is it possible the Earth might be placed in danger?”

Glerpie shrugged. “Oddly enough, there is some truth to your speculation. That’s the only way your primitive silly human mind will understand me.”

Alyssa crossed her arms. “So if the sun explodes, Earth goes with it and everyone dies.”

“Well, that’s another way to put it.”

John pulled her close to his side. “I’ll handle this, darling. Glerpie, this must stop. I will not permit you to do this.”

Glerpie was smug. “I doubt it. To stop us, you’d have to reveal your powers.”

“I could, of course, call my battle fleet out of hiding from behind the moon, or summon the toad weaver to unleash chipmunk demons.”

“I dare you.”

John swore. “Put to the test again.”

Glerpie produced a gleaming object that was obviously a weapon and said, “Into there, now.”

“I’m invulnerable,” John said.

“Insatiable,” Alyssa corrected.

“The Dweeb is preparing to launch. You’re coming with us in case we need more information.”

John giggled. “Dweeb? That’s the name of this ship?”

Glerpie shoved the gun thingy into John’s ribcage. “You have a problem with that?”

John and Alyssa were forced down a corridor and into a luxurious cabin.

Alyssa smiled. “Look, a waterbed.”

John tugged at the door. “They’ve locked us in.”

“So we’re trapped.”

“Looks that way.”

“In other words,” she said, pulling the covers down, “short of revealing your powers, there’s nothing you can do for the next couple of hours.”

John fluffed the pillows. “Hell, we won’t arrive at Persephone for days.”

“Days, huh?”

“Days.”

The Dweeb gently rose into the sky and launched itself to the stars.

“So close yet so far?” JB asked.

Bill’s eyes burned at the escaping ship, as if sheer force of will could bring it back. He brushed some sweat from his face. “We’ll have to follow them.”

“I’ll call a cab,” David said.

JB turned the little device he had created over in his hands. “We overloaded this thing. Only one person can PORT at a time now. It seems to me that it would be far too dangerous for just one of us to PORT to the dolphin ship. We’ll need a spaceship.”

“Here on Earth?” David asked. “Forget it. All of the United States space program has been grounded since the Challenger tragedy.”

JB’s face lit up. “That’s it!”

“What’s it?” Bob asked.

“I should be back in about four hours.”

David asked, “Where are you going?”

“Washington, DC. Specifically, the National Air and Space museum. PORT!”

And JB was gone.

In their luxurious suite aboard the Dweeb, John and Alyssa were curled up by the fireplace.

“John, I have an idea.”

Sleepily John replied, “Can’t we try that last idea again? It was so nice.”

She tossed a pillow at him and continued. “Can we blow up this ship?”

A light came across John’s face. “Stop the dolphins before they can destroy the Earth?”

“Right.”

“Have you considered what happens to us when this baby explodes?”

“Uh huh. But Earth will be safe. Besides, I’ll be with you. “

A loud double sonic boom turned everyone’s attention skyward. A graceful shape began a swift descent to Earth. There was absolutely no mistaking what it was.

Bob was the first to find his voice. “A space shuttle? How? Morton Thiakol is still testing new solid rocket boosters. The United States won’t be flying for at least another year.”

David took out a pair of binoculars from Bill’s knapsack. “Yet here it is. I’m trying to find the name. There’s “United States” and… Enterprise.”

“Give me those,” Bill snapped. “O Mighty Isis, I should have known.”

The shuttle glided to a perfect landing and slowed to a stop. The hatch opened, and JB popped his head out.

“Hi! Hop in!”

No one moved.

“Something wrong?”

Still, no one moved.

“Hello?” JB said.

Bob tried to absorb what he was seeing and failed. “JB, that’s a space shuttle orbiter!”

“Right. Get in.”

David could already feel the headache. “JB, just what the hell do you think you’re doing? Is that really — “

“Yes. This is the space shuttle Enterprise.”

Bob was clearly awed. “What a beautiful machine. Enterprise was the prototype shuttle, you know.”

David approached JB, who was sifting through a toolbox. “May I ask where you got this?”

“I told you, the Air and Space museum in Washington DC. Now climb aboard. My refit isn’t complete.”

“JB, you stole — “

“Borrowed.”

” — US Government property? It’s not like ran a stoplight! This is the damned space shuttle! By the time we’re released from prison — ”
He paused. “JB, do you have any idea the amount of money it takes to construct one of these?”

“Yes, David. Even you couldn’t afford it.” JB sat down on the stairs of the ramp. “Look. Columbia, Atlantis, and Discovery are all being modified since the Challenger disaster. The Japanese and Russian programs don’t have anything ready for flight and I have neither the time nor the resources to build something myself.”

Bill let out a long breath. “He’s right. It’s all we have.”

Suppressing the urgent need to grab the toolbox and repeatedly hit JB in the head with it, David asked, “JB, how did you get this thing out of the museum?”

“I told the guard I was taking it to be washed.”

“JB — “

JB motioned the group inside to the flight deck. He allowed everyone their share of oohs and ahs, then sat into the pilot’s chair. “Before we launch you’ll all need an intensive course in space shuttles. Taking up half of the cargo bay we have an aneutronic migma reactor. The Enterprise will utilize Hypercharge, allowing us to launch like a plane and enter warp space. The hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide tanks now contain a miniature dilithium flux tube. We’ll channel that energy into weapons systems, artificial gravity and defense screens.”

Bob sat in one of the forward seats. Careful not to touch anything he asked, “JB, the dolphins left hours ago, and we’ll still catch them?”

“Right. Their ship is a scout, which means it doesn’t have warp drive. At maximum speed, it won’t arrive at Persephone for another two days.”

He took a breath and continued, “I installed a new chronospacial module into the ship, which will provide us with a “transPORTer” of sorts.”

“Good idea,” Bill agreed. “If the dolphins start shooting again it’ll be nice to have an out.”

JB directed their attention to a console ablaze with multicolored lights. “David, you’re in charge of this station. It includes the tractor beam and weapons systems. Bob, you’ll be running the computer system, as well as the transPORTer.”

Everyone found a seat as JB ran his hands over the viewer control. A cross section of the shuttle was displayed on the screen. “Gentlemen, I have much to teach you. The defense screens will allow us to withstand high velocity warp…”

T’Pooky knocked softly on the door.

“Come in!” Alyssa chimed.

“Hello, human. I did my best to locate some of the Chardonnay the Valinor requested, but — “

T’Pooky glared at her.

Alyssa asked softly, “Something wrong?”

“Where is the Valinor?”

“At the moment he’s bringing down an empty wine bottle on your head.”

“What?”

Moments later she and John stepped over T’Pooky’s unconscious form and were sneaking through the deserted corridors of the ship.

“Personal journal; Cosmian Star Date 41153.7: John Bourke has completed briefing David McEntire, Robert Gillis and myself on his refit specifications for the Terran space shuttle Enterprise. His methods of teaching are praise worthy; in one day we’ve learned more than astronauts assimilate in weeks. It is my hope to launch this vessel into hyperspace and intercept the Persephonian ship before the dolphins can return home. I understand the consequences of what I am attempting. The laws of the IDL are explicit.”

Bill tabbed “PAUSE” as David entered the mid deck.

“Hi.” he said.

“Hello,” David replied. “I didn’t mean to interrupt. JB wanted me to tell you we’re all set to launch.”

Bill nodded.

“I figured Bob would be doing the “captain’s log” bit.”

“I want to keep a record of our journey for the IDL.”

“For your defense?”

Bill laughed. “Oh, no. It’s not like I’m going to court, David. I’ve broken the most sacred law of my people. I’m recording this so that the facts are known for posterity.”

There was an awkward silence, and David decided to break the ice. “Oh — do you have any sedatives in your bag of tricks?”

“Sure. Is someone sick?”

David had a gleam in his eye. “No, I just wanted to knock Bob out for a little while. That boy is in his glory, being on the Enterprise and all. Twice he’s called me to say, I need warp speed in three minutes or we’re all dead.

“He can’t really be that bad.”

“He’s in the cargo bay.” David cocked his head in the direction of the intercom.

Curious, Bill walked over and snapped the button. “Uh — Bob?”

“Kirk here.”

Bill bit his lip. “Can you close the cargo bay doors when you have a second?”

“Roger, Starfleet. Kirk out.”

David smiled. “I’m going to kill him.”

“Is our course all laid in?”

David followed Bill up the ladder. “Uh huh. We should enter the realm of Persephone at — “

“Did somebody say Realm?” JB popped his head down from the flight deck. “Bill, we’re all secure.”

Humming the Star Trek IV theme, Bob sealed off the cargo bay access door and climbed up to the flight deck.

“Shields, Mr. Chekov. May fortune favor the foolish. Warp speed, Mr. Sulu.”

Bill sighed, activated all systems and launched the Enterprise into space.

John cautiously pressed the stud that would open the engine room door.

Alyssa looked around. “I was expecting walls of blinking lights, computer graphics, and all that stuff.”

John touched his finger to his nose. “This is merely a scout, darling. Only sublight speed except for the emergency warp sleds, according to this schematic.” He traced the lines on the screen, looked at some of the buttons on the console and nodded. “The Dweeb doesn’t have an automatic destruct program, but we can initiate one ourselves. All we have to do is trip these two panels and this backup.”

“What will that do?”

“The fail-safe will be overridden, overloading and detonating the onboard electrical and computer systems. When the containment field surrounding the fusion chamber collapses, the ship blows apart.”

“How soon?”

“Instantaneously.”

She grabbed him in a passionate embrace and gave him a final long kiss. Together, they reached for the override controls.

Suddenly, they were bathed in cobalt ligh
t and dropped to the floor in a heap. Glerpie entered the engine room and placed his energy weapon down.

“Not on my ship you don’t.”

“Bill,” David said.

“What is it?”

“We greatly overestimated the speed of the dolphin spaceship. We just overtook it.”

Bill stood up and walked over to his friend. “What’s our position?”

“We’re crossing the orbit of Pluto now. The dolphin ship is on a direct heading for the planet.”

Bill nodded. “They’ll probably slingshot around it to conserve fuel. JB, take us out of warp.”

The Enterprise burst into normal space and entered orbit over a dark, icy planet.

“So that’s Pluto,” David said. “It looks lonely.”

They looked out the windows at the cold little world and its lone moon. Pluto was covered with sheets of methane ice and pocketed with craters.

David asked, “I know it’s obviously not a place to take a walk, but does Pluto have an atmosphere?”

“A tenuous one,” Bob replied. “Mostly methane and a little argon and nitrogen. Its moon, Charon, was discovered only a few — “

JB interrupted. “Bogie on scanner D. Subwarp velocity, heading for Persephone.”

The Dweeb slowly approached. Inside, Glerpie looked up from a small viewer and swore in Dolphinese.

“Glerpie, the IDL president wishes to speak with us.”

“T’Pooky, instruct Foggy and Doofy to ignite the emergency warp sleds. Direct course for the sun. Put Mr. IDL on screen.”

“…DL president Aarnvrel William, commanding the Terran space shuttle Enterprise. You are forbidden to return to Persephone.”

“This is Glerpie, leading the happy crew of the Dweeb. How nice to meet you, Mr. President. Would you care to beam over for some milk and cake?”

Dweeb?” Bill asked.

Glerpie looked offended. “You have a problem with that?”

Bill got back to the point. “You have violated the agreement your planet made with the IDL on Cosmian Star Date — “

“To what agreement are you referring? Look, it’s double chocolate with vanilla icing…”

“You’re stalling, Glerpie. You have on board a Terran citizen protected by the IDL and the Valinorian Star Empire. I want him returned to us, now.”

“I can see you’re busy. Maybe some other time?”

“Weapons officer: Lock nine photon torpedoes on the Dweeb.” Bill suppressed a smile to hide his bluff. “I want Matthews’ coordinates…” He leaned closer to the camera. “NOW!”

Glerpie flapped his flippers. “Okay! We come in peace, not pieces! We’ll give you their coordinates.”

Bill reacted. “Their?”

After they had regained consciousness, John and Alyssa we’re surprised to find they had been returned to their room. After celebrating this fact in a very athletic manner for a few hours, they had been considering plans to destroy the Dweeb when the intercom beeped.

“Valinor? Your human friends have come for you.”

“Ha! Now you’re gonna get it!” John said.

Bob’s voice cut in. “John, this is the Enterprise. Are you okay?”

“I’m perfect, Batbob!”

“The dolphins mentioned that someone is with you?”

“Alyssa Marie, lead singer of the Sparkle. Listen, can you get us out of here? Two to beam up, these coordinates and all that nonsense.”

“Acknowledged, John. Enterprise out!”

John shook his head and broke the connection. “That boy is in his glory.”

Bob touched the console to activate it and tabbed in John’s coordinates. “PORT!”

“Status report!” John boomed as he and Alyssa materialized in the flight deck of the Enterprise.

David smiled. “Welcome home, John. Alyssa, My name is David McEntire.” He kissed her hand lightly. “This is Bill, that’s Bob and the guy panting heavily is JB.”

“Hey!” Bob pointed to the front window. “Look at that!”

The Dweeb suddenly jumped into a stream of rainbow colored light and vanished.

“Warp drive?” Bill demanded. “Where the unholy rabid penguins did they get warp drive?”

JB asked, “Uh, should we follow — “

“Yes, dammit! Follow them!”

The Enterprise shot forward.

Bob pointed to the data readout. “They’re heading straight for the sun at warp four and increasing.”

John said, “Bill, they have a prototype stargate torpedo on board. It’s powerful enough to effect stellar transformation.”

“Or destroy the whole solar system,” Bill replied. “Tractor beam, David. When we match the Dweeb‘s velocity, lock on to it. JB, as soon as we have the Dweeb secure, bring us to maximum acceleration.”

JB looked at Bill cross eyed. “Are you out of your mind?”

“Quite possibly. Bob, patch my console into the main database. John and Alyssa, strap yourselves in.”

“Strap me in nice and tight, John,” Alyssa purred.

Bill sat down and patched into the computer. In seconds he read impossibly complicated formulas, an analysis of critical stress points on the Enterprise and finally a tactical of their approach to the sun.

Watching his control panel, David waited until the speeds of the ships were identical. He touched the tractor beam controls with a solid click.

“Engaged, Bill.” he said. “We have them.”

“Thank you, David. Bob, raise shields to full and amplify them beyond that by cutting non essential systems.”

“There goes the Pepsi machine,” Bob muttered.

“JB, bring us to exactly warp twelve point seven and alter our course to three one three mark six.”

“Toward the sun, Bill?”

“Toward the sun.”

A light came across JB’s face.

Alyssa asked, “Mister JB, I assume that look means you know what’s happening?”

JB nodded. “Time warp.” He began coding the computers to do as Bill had instructed.

Alyssa smiled. “Oh! Time warp. Of course. Time warp.”

“Warp twelve point seven, B
ill,” JB said.

As the words “DEFENSE ENVELOPE AT MAXIMUM INTENSITY” flashed on his viewer Bob asked, “Bill, why are we doing this?”

“I just solved one of the great mysteries of the galaxy, Bob.”

The Enterprise and its captive companion gained more speed as the great star loomed closer and closer. The ships entered the sun’s photosphere and increased to a velocity impossible for real space. With a loud boom, the space surrounding them shattered as they hurled out of their own dimension and pierced the temporal barrier.

They were falling.

It felt like being on a roller coaster gone out of control. The only thing anyone could see was a gray blur as a frigid blast of cold washed over them.

“Just like eating a York Peppermint Patty,” JB thought to himself.

With the exception of Alyssa, everyone on board the Enterprise had time traveled before. For Bill, it was part of the job. JB was used to PORTing via his chronospacial module. Bob and David had time traveled by other means, so along with Alyssa and John they were taking the brunt of the trip.

A blinding white flash brought them out of it. Bill was already running checks on the systems. He didn’t even look up when he said, “We have traveled back exactly forty five million years.”

“We’re fine, Bill. Thanks.” David shook his head to clear the cobwebs. He felt as though he’d been asleep for months. “I suppose the operative question is why are we here. Or tell us, Bill, did you just want to get away from it all?”

Bill gestured toward the windows. “Let’s take in the view. JB, half sublight, please. Same course.”

At first they saw nothing, but then they could make out a blue white planet with a single moon.

“Earth,” David said. “I was born there.”

But it was a different Earth. There were no lights from the cities, for there were no cities. No orbiting satellites or space junk. Just a virgin planet with clean air, unpolluted seas and millions of acres of unblemished land. A planet without people.

Bill pressed his nose against the window — a primitive thing to do, but he too was awed by the view.

“Right now on the surface,” he began, “whales and other cetaceans are beginning to evolve. Scientists throughout the galaxy have been puzzled as to how both Earth and Tau Ceti independently produced dolphins. Now we know.”

David made the connection. “Because a spaceship filled with Tau Ceti dolphins landed on Earth millions of years ago.”

Using the tractor beam, David guided the Dweeb to a gentle landing on the island that would one day be called Bermuda. JB set the Enterprise down next to it, and the crew disembarked.

“Everybody remember where we parked!” Bob said cheerfully.

“I’m going to kill him,” David thought to himself.

As they headed toward the Dweeb and took in the beautiful landscape, John picked a rose and handed it to Alyssa. In turn, she placed a carnation in his hair. They wandered off toward the beach.

“Useless,” Bill muttered as he walked over to the Dweeb.

The dolphins left their ship, and T’Pooky hovered over to Bill.

“Mr. IDL — “

“You and your buddies are in so much trouble that — “

“Sir, I don’t mean to interrupt your pretty speech, but Glerpie activated the stargate torpedo.”

“GLERPIE!” Bill shrieked. He shoved past a few dozen dolphins and raced into their ship. He found Glerpie frantically trying to stop the stargate torpedo’s countdown.

“We were on our way to the sun,” the dolphin said. “I thought you were going to help us turn Jupiter into a star, so I activated it. I didn’t know we were going into time warp.”

JB rushed over and knelt down. “Can you stop it?”

The dolphin seemed ready to cry. “None of us can. It detonates in fifteen minutes.”

“Bill, exactly what happens when this thing goes off on a planet?”

“The stargate torpedo is designed to create a gateway between the core of the sun and Jupiter. Here on Earth, it’ll open a black hole in the atmosphere and pulverize the planet.”

JB swore under his breath. “Glerpie, does your world still use cold muoncatalyzed fusion for standard warp entry?”

Before the dolphin could respond, JB ran down a corridor to the main control room. He ripped open a primary access conduit and frowned.

“It just might work.”

Bill decided not to ask how JB was able to read dolphinese. “JB, what are you attempting? You don’t have the range to PORT it away — “

“If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to bleed enough energy for a final burst powerful enough to clear the solar system.” He began to fiddle with the burnt out sleds. They had never been designed for what he was about to attempt.

“JB, we’ll use the Enterprise.”

“No way. If I am very fortunate, the Dweeb will achieve warp two. It will never get up the velocity for time travel, and the defense shields are gone anyway. Nope, only the Enterprise will take you guys home.”

“And what happens if the stargate torpedo explodes before you get the chance to launch it?”

JB completed his adjustments and locked eyes with Bill. “Then Earth will survive, and the Enterprise will take you back to 1987.”

“Even if you do succeed, you can’t come home.”

“I might be able to slingshot back. Now go.”

“No, JB. I’ll — “

“Here, hold this.”

“Huh?” Bill realized his mistake as soon as he touched the cable. A painless shock jolted him unconscious. With a solid thud he collapsed to the deck.

JB tapped the surface of his watch and said, “PORT.” Bill and Glerpie vanished and reappeared near David, Bob and the dolphins.

Strapping himself into the unusual chair, JB activated the computer. “What is the estimate on power supply?”

“Sixty four percent,” the Dweeb‘s computer chimed back in dolphinese.

“It’ll have to do.”

“What will have to do?” the computer asked.

“Oh, piss off!” JB muttered. He verified that his friends were clear and fired the sleds. In a multi colored flash, the Dweeb blasted into warp and vanished.

The Dweeb shot past the orbit of Mars, rapidly losing power. Desperately, JB tried to coax more energy from the systems, but there was nothing left. With a jol
t, the Dweeb fell to sublight on a direct heading for a planet.

For a moment, JB thought the sleds had malfunctioned and he’d somehow traveled to another star group. The world he was closing in on didn’t match the configuration of any in Earth’s solar system. It was small — actually no bigger than the moon.

He snapped on the sensors. “No life whatsoever. Composition nearly identical to asteroids.”

He jumped up so fast he bumped his head on the ceiling. He knew this was the original fifth planet between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter — the one that would one day explode and become the asteroid belt.

JB raced to the weapons bay and loaded the stargate torpedo into the firing pod. He targeted the little planet, christened it Semaneon — Greek for “Thunderbolt of Zeus” — and punched the fire button.

As soon as the stargate torpedo had cleared, JB drained life support and plunged toward Semaneon on full impulse power. The Dweeb captured some of the small world’s gravity and slingshot back toward Earth.

As he headed home on nothing but inertia, it occurred to JB that he only had about five minutes to live.

Suddenly, a great blue silver flash illuminated Semaneon. The planet shattered into billions of fragments, most of which formed asteroids and moons of planets. About half traveled through the space tunnel created by the stargate torpedo and into Jupiter.

JB waited for something to happen, but nothing did. The greatest of planets never noticed the tiny amount of extra mass it had gained.

“I’ve certainly left my mark on this system,” JB said to himself. It was the last thought he had as the shock wave from Semaneon impacted with the Dweeb, knocking him unconscious.

The Enterprise hung in low orbit over Earth. Bill, David and Bob each watched a monitor for any sign of JB.

As he spoke, Bill never took his eyes from the screen. “The Dweeb was badly damaged during time travel, and I’m astonished it even flew again, let alone — ” His voice trailed off. “JB’s only chance is to capture planetary gravity and slingshot home. Assuming, of course, that he can launch the torpedo before it detonates, and that he has enough power to enter planetary orbit for the return trajectory, and — “

Bob jumped up. “Bill! Scanners have just picked up a massive explosion between Mars and Jupiter!”

Bill leapt to Bob’s station. “That’s the pattern for the stargate torpedo.”

“He did it,” David said sadly.

Bill jumped into his seat. “Don’t give up yet. Warp speed, David. If he’s alive, we’re coming for him. Scanners full ahead to the Jovian system.”

David gently pushed the velocity lever. “Increasing to warp point five, point six…”

Bob grabbed David’s arm. “Stop! I’m reading something heading for us at sublight!”

Bill brought the image on the viewer. “Yes! It’s JB!”

“Bill, how do we stop him?”

“You’re right, Bob. He’s coming in on sheer inertia. With no way to brake, he’ll burn up when he hits our atmosphere.”

“Tractor beam?”

“No good,” Bill said. “The sudden jolt will kill him.”

David said, “We’ll have to PORT him over, then.”

Bob began his computations.

Bill shouted, “I’m receiving his life form reading!”

The Dweeb burst into view.

Bob tabbed the panel at a furious pace. “Coordinates retroactive from the time the Dweeb enters…” He drew a breath and said, “PORT,” as he tabbed a control.

The Dweeb plunged toward Earth, hit the atmosphere and burst like a Roman candle. The sparkles faded to nothing.

“Oh Rao, he’s — ” Bill turned to face his two friends.

And on the cabin floor JB, asleep but otherwise quite alive and well.

Four dozen dolphins frolicked happily in the sparkling ocean. Bill, David, JB and Bob waded over to them.

Bill folded his arms. “Glerpie, the charges against you and your crew are: Attacking and destroying an IDL vehicle, making contact with and trespassing on a forbidden world, kidnapping two of that world’s denizens, attempting a stellar transformation in IDL governed space, and finally eight billion counts of attempted murder. How do you plead?”

“Not guilty by reason of stupidity,” Glerpie said.

“No argument there. I should turn you over to the IDL, but I don’t believe that’s the best alternative.

“Why not? T’Pooky asked.

“If you’re very lucky, they’ll go easy on you and just drop you into a black hole.”

“Oh.”

“I’m authorized to make a deal. Stay here on Earth, in this time period, and live happily ever after. You’ll have your lives, an unspoiled world…”

“And a bright star,” Foggy offered.

“Your ship was incinerated on reentry, so you’ll have no access to your technology. But I think you’ll manage. After all, 20th century Earth has a lot of dolphins on it.”

“It’s a deal,” Glerpie said.

“Bill, we’d like to return to Maran with you and testify on your behalf to the IDL council.”

“I appreciate that, David. But you don’t understand.”

“I’m obviously not an expert, but it seems to me that by technicality you’re no longer in trouble. If we prevented the dolphins from destroying the sun and planets, we changed the future. Therefore, you never addressed the council and requested permission to travel back in time to prevent it.”

“It doesn’t work that way, David. The IDL exists outside of time and space. They will see the diverging flux streams surrounding August 1987.”

“Knowing that you changed history, will they undo what we’ve done?”

“Absolutely not. They cherish life. True, this “new history” is not what was supposed to happen in 1987, but the IDL isn’t so fanatical that it’ll kill eight billion beings just to set things right.”

“Quite true, Aarnvrel.”

Everyone but Bill jumped at the sound of the voices. Having heard their friend addressed as “Aarnvrel,” they knew these people could only be the IDL. The entire council faced the group. It was not a projection or illusion. They were here.

“How did you find us?” JB asked. Then he realized, what a stupid question. They only see all of time and space, idiot.

Aimeema said, “Aarnvrel…”

Bill was calm. “Do what the law requires, my friends. I
am not above that.”

“No,” Aimeema replied sadly, “you are not. Aarnvrel William, you have violated the most sacred law of the IDL. You have defied the council and have altered the destiny of the Terran solar system.”

JB was amazed. With the exception of one or two members, the council seemed greatly distressed. They did not want this.

Aimeema took a deep breath and said, “The decision of the council is as follows. Your position as President of the Inter Dimensional League is terminated immediately, along with all of your powers over time and space.” Pained, she continued, “You are banished from Maran forever. We can have no further contact.”

Bill lowered his eyes.

Kirstieal continued, “Since you chose to save these primitive humans, you will live as one of them. You will become mortal and eventually die.”

As David watched Bill shake hands with and hug about half of the members, he noticed that many were crying. He had expected screaming demi gods and thunderclaps. What he found was a group of likable beings devastated at losing one of their own.

Alyssa and John wandered over as Bill handed Demimo a small black object and said, “Please accept this. It is a recording of my actions and the reasons I did them. I ask that the truth be known to future generations.”

“Grant him nothing, Demimo.”

“Kirstieal, none of us would be alive today if was not for Aarnvrel. He evacuated Cosmia during the final Eternian attack. He is the greatest of all of us and he only asks to be remembered. I believe we owe him at least that.”

Demimo accepted the cassette. “We will make it so.”

“What about the dolphins?” Bill asked.

“The council has agreed to let them remain in this time period. Over the generations they will forget their technology. We will intensify the force shield around 20th century Persephone so no one may leave. They will not attempt this again.

“I’ll miss you all. May Cosmia’s light always shine on you.”

“Maran’s blessing, Aarnvrel.”

With not so much as a flash of light, they were gone.

“The end of a legend,” JB said.

Bill smiled at that thought.

“Any regrets, Bill?”

“None, David. I made the only choice my conscience would allow.”

“I do not have the foggiest notion what is happening here,” Alyssa said.

John whispered something in her ear that made her giggle.

JB looked thoughtful. “Looks like this is the end of time travel for you, Bill.”

“You seemed to manage well enough for a “mere” human, JB. Perhaps I can learn from you.”

“Frightening concept, isn’t it?” JB asked with a grin.

“What’s next for you, Bill?” David asked.

“I’m going to see what it’s like to be human. I’ll get a job, save up to buy a condo… Not a bad life at all.”

David said, “Thank you, Bill. For our lives.”

“You owe me nothing, gentlemen. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

After the ship was ready for departure and JB had managed to bury several modern objects that would drive archaeologists crazy millions of years later, the Enterprise launched into space.

David watched Earth fade into a tiny speck. “What a unique experience.”

“Warp three, Bill. Passing Venus.” JB said.

Alyssa got up and stretched. “Gee, this has been incredible, but I’m worn out from the time traveling. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a nap.”

She left the cabin.

“Warp five.”

Everyone turned to John.

Innocently, he got up and yawned. “I’m tired.”

Bob smiled. “She’s waiting.”

John bolted after Alyssa.

Bill settled into his chair. “Take us home, JB.”

The Enterprise hurtled around the sun and vanished. Its crew was on it way back to 1987, and a planet with a bright future.


This story is copyright © 1987 Robert Gillis.

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